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Tuesday,13-April-2021

International

Pitch for 4th Test has better binding, likely to hold for longer

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Thanks to a bit of grass, the pitch for the fourth and final Test is likely to hold up for a bit longer than the surfaces did in the preceding two Tests which had led to a lot of debate.

The first day’s play in the fourth Test here showed that batting was a bit easier and puffs of dust did not emanate as much as they had done in the preceding Tests early on.

The ongoing fourth Test is being played on a red soil pitch just like the previous Test which was played on the centre-strip, the sixth strip on the 11-pitch square. The current match’s surface is the seventh pitch from the Adani End – the pavilion end – and is just to the right of the centre strip.

“There is grass binding. It won’t play that bad. Green tinge is there, the root (of the grass) is holding the soil so it will not play funny like it did in the last match. Because the grip of the grass with the soil is there, cracks will also not develop so much. There is no crack at the start. It won’t become dusty,” an official in the know of pitch preparation told IANS.

Some puffs of dust though were evident right after tea even on the first day but it didn’t seem bad.

However, the pitch will continue to help spinners more as the match progresses making it difficult for batsmen.

Despite a better pitch, spinners had a dominant presence on the first day’s play of this Test.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was brought in as early as the sixth over of the day and he managed a wicket in his first over again. The first session saw spinners bowling almost 50 per cent of the overs – 12 out of 25.

The three spinners – Patel, R. Ashwin and Washington Sundar – bowled 70.6 per cent of overs in England’s first innings that ended just after tea. The trio combined to pick eight of the 10 wickets.

The newly-built stadium at Motera, that has been renamed as the Narendra Modi Stadium, has 11 strips with six of them red soil and five black soil.

There had been criticism from former players and experts of the pitches dished out for the first second and third Tests that saw the ball spinning from the first session onwards.

The players from the two sides had, however, refrained from lashing out at the pitches.

International

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos tests positive for Covid-19

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Real Madrid defender and captain Sergio Ramos has tested positive for coronavirus, the Spanish club said on Tuesday.

Ramos has been sidelined since the beginning of April due to a muscle injury and his recovery is supposed to last around six weeks, DPA reports.

He missed the Clasico 2-1 win over Barcelona on Saturday and also the Champions League quarter-finals first leg against Liverpool last week.

Due to his injury, Ramos was already set to miss the second leg against Liverpool on Wednesday. Madrid have a 3-1 advantage following their first leg triumph.

Madrid will also miss Dani Carvajal, Eden Hazard and Lucas Vazquez, all injured, and Raphael Varane, who tested positive for coronavirus.

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International

Lauren Davis stuns Kenin to progress in Charleston tennis

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Lauren Davis shocked fellow American and second seed Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Charleston Open.

Davis picked up her third career win over a Top 5 player with the gruelling two-and-a-half-hour victory over world number four Kenin, rallying to claim the win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday, Xinhua news reports.

“I’m super excited,” Davis said. “It was a really tough match, she obviously is an incredible player and one of the best competitors that I’ve seen. To have won this, in Charleston with these conditions, being so hot out, it’s really special for me.”

The 79th-ranked Davis is now a win away from matching her career-best run in Charleston, when she reached the quarter-finals in 2015 before losing to eventual runner-up Madison Keys.

“I think this gives me some really good momentum,” Davis said. “I always have that self-belief, but it’s just a matter of digging deep and applying that on the court. So the fact that I was able to do this today and show myself that I can beat a Grand Slam champion, it’s very cool, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

Davis will now meet another American, Coco Gauff, in the round of 16.

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Surprised SA allowed players to leave for IPL during series: Shahid Afridi

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Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that it was surprising to see Cricket South Africa (CSA) allowing players to leave for the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the middle of an international series.

South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were among players who were allowed to leave for their respective IPL teams after the second ODI of their three-match series against Pakistan.

“Surprising to see @OfficialCSA allowing players to travel for IPL in the middle of a series. It is sad to see T20 leagues influencing international cricket. Some rethinking needs to be done!!” Afridi tweeted.

The series was poised at 1-1 and a depleted South Africa ended up losing the third ODI by 28 runs.

Additionally, New Zealand could be without captain Kane Williamson and frontline fast bowlers Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Lockie Ferguson in their upcoming Test series against England if the trio’s respective IPL teams end up reaching the final. England themselves could be missing players like Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes among others if their teams end up reaching the IPL final.

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