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Olympics: After Australia disaster, India overcome Spain 3-0




An inspired team change by coach Graham Reid and some solid work by the defenders helped India redeem themselves from a 1-7 thrashing at the hands of world No. 1 Australia to hand Spain a convincing 3-0 defeat in a Group A match that put their Tokyo Olympic Games men’s hockey tournament campaign back on track.

It was a test of character for the Indian team after the disastrous outing against the Kookaburras — they not only had to win their match against Spain but also show the world that they had the ability to come back and fight for the spot in the quarterfinal. They also had to improve their goal difference, which was down to -5.

And coach Reid too responded by bringing in the more experienced Simranjeet Singh into the 16-member team sheet in place of Gurjant Singh.

The Indians managed to do both — win the match and improve their goal difference by keeping a clean sheet (Goal difference -2 now) as Simranjeet Singh repaid the confidence shown in him by scoring the first goal in the 14th minute, while veteran drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh scored a brace (15th, 51st minutes) — the first off a penalty stroke awarded to India when his drag flick off India’s third penalty corner slammed into the body of the Spanish defender on the goal-line.

The Indians defended well in the second and third quarter as Spain went in search of a goal and did not allow the Europeans to capitalise on the many chances they created.

It was not a perfect display by the Indians as they failed to maintain the tempo in the second quarter, soon after taking a 2-0 lead by scoring within 90 seconds in the final minutes of the first quarter. They allowed Spain a lot of space to launch attacks. Spain played very aggressively during this period but could not score a goal.

Coach Reid was satisfied with the performance of his wards, though he was not happy with the number of penalty corners that India conceded to Spain.

“Better result today, but a lot of things to work on from an improvement perspective. The fact that we gave too many corners, that’s always a concern when that happens,” he was quoted as saying by the Hockey India in a release. India conceded seven penalty corners.

“But the team did really well in terms of defending the PC. The first quarter was played very well, we could move the ball really well and it was exactly what we planned to do. I think 2-0 is the worse score in hockey because after that we were relaxed and we struggled a bit in the second and third quarter to get back in the game. We managed to do that in the fourth quarter and tried to play simple hockey and that’s what we ended up doing,” Reid said.

The Indians allowed Spain to make 17 attacking penetrations into their circle, take 16 shots at the goal, attempt nine field goals, and conceded seven penalty corners.

Indeed, the Indians trailed Spain on all statistical parameters except the all-important one — goals scored, and in the end that’s what mattered.

India started the game aggressively and it was Simranjeet Singh who got the first look at the goal for them in the eight-minute but missed. Spain went on the attack for the next few minutes and four good chances, including penalty corners but the Indian defence, which looked so porous against Australia on Sunday, stood solid like a wall and saved all the attempts.

Simranjeet goal came against the run of play when Amit Rohidas sent a long ball into the shooting circle from the sidelines on the right flank. Simranjeet, who was lurking nearby, deflected the shot into the net to make it 1-0 for India.

It was 2-0 in favour of India within a few seconds as India earned a series of penalty corners and off the third, they were awarded a penalty stroke as Rupinderpal’s drag-flick went straight into the body of the Spanish defender on the line.

Leading 2-0, the Indians were expected to continue with the momentum and score more goals. However, they went off the boil on restart in the second quarter and allowed Spain a lot of possession.

Spain earned three penalty corners in this period and attempted a few bold attacks but they could not capitalise on any of them. The trend continued in the third quarter as India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh effected a couple of good saves, while the defence was well-shielded by the midfield.

Spain was also reduced to 10 men during this period as their skipper Andres Miguel de Delas was shown a yellow card for having more than 11 players on the field. However, the Indians failed to capitalise on this advantage.

The fourth quarter was more evenly contested and it was in this quarter that Rupinderpal found the back of the net again — converting India’s fourth penalty corner with a superb drag flick.


Chance for Delhi Capitals to go top of the table




Following their big win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match of the IPL Dubai leg, Delhi Capitals would look to take one more step closer to qualification when they take on Rajasthan Royals later on Saturday.

The Rishabh Pant-led side gave a befitting response to their sceptics, registering a thumping eight-wicket win against SRH an all-round performance and now face a side who they have beaten four times in the last five encounters.

However, Anrich Nortje, the ‘man of the match’ in the last game and currently the holder of IPL 2021s top-eight fastest deliveries after playing just a single game, is aware that the clash will be anything but easy.

“We’ll have to quickly assess the conditions in Abu Dhabi and see what we need to do. It’s not going to be an easy game and the heat will be a major factor as well. Hopefully, we can just control our skills and focus on what we need to do. It’s going to be a very good challenge for us and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

A win against RR will take Delhi Capitals to 16 points on the IPL table and though it might not guarantee qualification, it has historically been a number that ensures an IPL team makes it to the play-offs more often than not.

But DC couldn’t be better placed going into the clash against RR as during the season-opener against SRH, the team ticked all the right boxes. Kagiso Rabada and Nortje resumed their hugely successful partnership from 2020 to pick five wickets on the night.

DC’s star batsmen then made light work of the chase, with Shikhar Dhawan crossing 400 runs in an IPL season for the sixth straight year on his way to a well-made 42. Shreyas Iyer announced his return in style, top-scoring with an unbeaten 47. Captain Pant supported Iyer beautifully with his unbeaten 35 off 21.

On the other hand Rajasthan Royals resumed their IPL 2021 campaign here with a thrilling, last-gasp win against Punjab Kings. The Royals, who are currently fifth in the table, will get an opportunity to move up into the top-four.

The last time they played DC, in April during the first half of IPL 2021, it turned out to be yet another last-over affair. RR produced a brilliant show while the ball, with Jaydev Unadkat claiming 3/15. Chasing a modest target of 148, RR lost the top-order early and looked to be heading towards a disappointing defeat, but David Miller (62 off 43) and Chris Morris (36* off 18) took them home at the end.

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Didn’t show much courage, says a dejected Kohli after second loss




 Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli was left dejected after a second loss in as many matches here and said that another 15-20 runs on the board would have given the side a winning total.

RCB came up with a much improved performance the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings on Friday, notching up 156/6 thanks to half centuries from Devdutt Padikkal (70) and Kohli (53), but still lost by six wickets after some incisive bowling by Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur.

RCB, who have never won an IPL title, had earlier lost to Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in the opening match of the second leg of the tournament here where they could only score a dismal 92 runs.

“The wicket did slow down a bit. But I feel we left out 15-20 runs out there. 175 would’ve been a winning total. Didn’t bowl consistently. Didn’t show that much courage I guess with the ball. They (CSK) bowled well in the back end of the innings, executed the slower balls and yorkers nicely,” Kohli said after the match.

The 32-year-old stated that they “have to show more courage in crunch moments” and also, asserts that they have to get back on that winning form again.

The two losses have seen RCB’s fortunes dip sharply and they are currently third on the table with 10 points from nine games behind CSK and Delhi Capitals who hold the first and second place respectively with 14 points apiece. Rajasthan Royal, who have played a game less, could push RCB further down if they win the next game.

“We spoke of areas we didn’t want them to hit and we didn’t do that. That little bit of X factor was missing in the first 5-6 overs. Got to get on that winning run again. This one is a bit more disappointing. The first one we just weren’t in the game. Have to show more courage in crunch moments. This tournament goes by quickly,” he added.

Up next, RCB take on the defending champions Mumbai Indians on September 26 at the Dubai International Stadium.

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IPL 2021: Chennai register an assertive six-wicket win over Bangalore




On the back of brilliant bowling performance by Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur, Chennai Super Kings registered an assertive six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on Friday. With this win, Chennai have now moved back to the top of the points table with 14 points from seven wins out of nine matches. Though they are tied with Delhi Capitals for points, Chennai is on top due to superior net run rate.

Chasing 157, Chennai got off to a good start and cruised to victory with 157/4 in 18.1 overs. Ruturaj Gaikwad (38) and Faf du Plessis (31) put up on 71 for the first wicket, hitting some superb shots around the wicket. However, both Gaikwad and du Plessis got out on the same score in successive overs.

It looked like Chennai would lose their way just like Bangalore did earlier in the evening but Ambati Rayudu (32) and Moeen Ali (23) steadied the ship, peppering their knocks with three big hits, two of them by Ali, and by the time both of them were out, Chennai was 133/4 and cruising towards victory. Suresh Raina (17) and MS Dhoni (11) helped them across the line without much trouble.

Earlier, Kohli slammed Deepak Chahar for back-to-back boundaries on the first two balls of the innings before Padikkal ended the opening over with a gorgeous cover drive. With the ball not doing much, Kohli and Padikkal were able to give Bangalore a blistering start, racing to 55 for no loss at the end of power-play with Chahar conceding 23 runs in two overs.

Padikkal was the first to reach his half-century, reaching in 35 balls with a boundary off Chahar in the 12th over. The boundary also brought a century for the opening partnership. It was also the second century stand between Kohli and Padikkal in the tournament after an unbeaten 181 against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai.

In the next over, Kohli reached his half-century, flicking Ravindra Jadeja through fine leg for a boundary. Kohli, who was at 33 off 21 balls at the end of the power-play, managed to get 20 runs off 20 balls before hitting straight to deep mid-wicket off Bravo in the 14th over, ending the opening stand at 111.

After Kohli’s dismissal, Chennai slowed down the runs. Shardul Thakur made a big strike in the 17th over with de Villiers miscuing a slice and top-edge flying to Raina at extra cover. One brought two for Thakur as Padikkal’s pre-mediated ramp went to hands of Bravo at short third man.

Debutant Tim David miscued a loft off Chahar to Raina at extra cover. Glenn Maxwell tried to give his team a big flourish, but miscued slog to long-on in the final over off Bravo. Bravo dismissed Harshal Patel on the final ball of the innings to complete a last ten overs (66 runs for six wickets) fightback from Chennai, which was eventually enough to win the match.

Brief Scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 156/6 in 20 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 70, Virat Kohli 53, Dwayne Bravo 3/24, Shardul Thakur 2/29) lost to Chennai Super Kings 157/4 in 18.1 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 38, Ambati Rayudu 32, Harshal Patel 2/25, Glenn Maxwell 1/17) by six wickets.

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