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Tuesday,02-March-2021

International

Quit Aus obsession, beating India in India more important: Graeme Swann to England

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Australia are no more the best team in the world and what England should be focusing at is to beat India in India as they have been “virtually unbeatable” at home since 2012, feels former England off-spinner Graeme Swann.

England will be taking on India in a four-Test series beginning February 5, followed by five T20Is and three ODIs. The Virat Kohli-led side would be high on confidence following their recent memorable Test series win over Australia in their own backyard.

According to Swann, beating India in India would now be a higher achievement than winning Ashes series away considering the performances of Team India in recent times.

“England always saying ‘well the Ashes are coming up’. B***ocks to that. If you want to be the best team in the world, let’s be the best team all over the planet, not just trying to beat Australia away. We have to move away from looking forward to the Ashes series. It’s a mentality ingrained in this country. Australia are not the best team in the world anymore. They used to be, by miles, and they were the benchmark to strive for,” Swann told The Sun.

“They’re not now, but we’re obsessed with this. I think beating India in India is a far higher thing to strive for right now. They’re virtually unbeatable in India since we beat them in 2012. Why isn’t that the whole thing? Why aren’t people saying ‘right, this is a chance to get this team with good players of spin, use their feet, change the whole way we face spin bowling, and then we can beat India’,” he added.

Swann, who was one of the key performers in England’s series win in India in 2012, believes the Joe Root-led side needs to have the right setup to overcome the spin challenge.

In 2012, Swann picked up 20 wickets while Monty Panesar bagged 17. Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook scored 562 and 338 runs as England registered a 2-1 series win.

“We’re not going to beat India unless spinners are taking wickets, and then we’ve got someone batting like we had with Kevin Pietersen. He changed the way England had ever played against spin. He was ultra-aggressive. Let’s face it KP was a brilliant player and he batted unbelievably well there,” said Swann.

“We haven’t done it since, we haven’t learnt from how Kev batted on that trip and haven’t gone on and used that as the blueprint,” he added.

International

Novak Djokovic equals Roger Federer for most weeks as world no. 1

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Novak Djokovic has tied Roger Federer’s all-time record for the most weeks at the top of the men’s tennis rankings.

Djokovic on Monday entered his 310th week at the top of the ATP rankings. The 33-year-old Serbian reclaimed the top spot from Spain’s Rafael Nadal in February 2020.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion grabbed his ninth Australian Open title last month, which ensured he will surpass Federer’s record next week.

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated men’s singles tennis, particularly the Grand Slams, for nearly two decades.

From the 2003 Wimbledon to the 2021 Australian Open, the three players have won 58 out of 70 Grand Slams. They won 18 consecutive slams from the 2005 French Open to Wimbledon in 2009, and 13 consecutive slams from the 2017 Australian Open to the 2020 Australian Open.

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Never going to turn down playing for West Indies: Chris Gayle

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Veteran batsman Chris Gayle has said that he is not going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket after he left the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to play in the upcoming three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka which starts on March 4.

Gayle, who was part of the T20 World Cup winning squads in 2012 and 2016, said he has set his eyes on winning the trophy a third time this year.

“When I got the call and they asked if I’m willing and interested, I said: ‘Yes, I want to play for West Indies’. That’s where my heart is. I’m never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket at this particular time. So I came back from Pakistan to be a part of the set-up leading into the World Cup so we can have a unity within the group, and then hopefully we can win this T20 trophy,” Gayle is quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.

Gayle had said that he would be retiring from ODI cricket after the 2019 World Cup but he later backtracked on that after the end of the tournament. He admitted that his initial plan was to concentrate on franchise cricket.

“I thought about actually walking away from the game and then people said: ‘No, don’t do it, don’t do it. Stay and play as long as possible.’ So I decided I’m actually going to continue playing. I wasn’t actually thinking down this road. I was like, I’m going to play franchise cricket, entertaining people as much as possible, and whatever is left to offer within the game from Chris Gayle, I want to exploit around the world,” said Gayle.

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Mary Kom and Amit Panghal one win away from medal in Spain

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Six-time world champion Mary Kom (51 kg) and World Championship silver medallist Amit Panghal (52 kg) are both one win away from securing a medal at the Boxam International Tournament in Castellon, Spain after they were drawn in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Mary faces Italian Giordana Sorrentino in her opening bout on Wednesday while Panghal will be up against local favourite Gabriel Escobar in his quarterfinal clash. Both pugilists got byes in their respective first round bouts.

Meanwhile, Vikas Krishan (69 kg) also got a bye in the first round and will fight Italy’s Vincenzo Mangiacapre. Ashish Kumar (75 kg), and Sumit Sangwan (81 kg) are also drawn in the quarter-finals because of the lesser entries in their weight classes. Satish (+91 kg), the first super heavyweight from the country to qualify for the Olympics, is also drawn in the quarterfinals of his weight category.

Among women, Jasmine and Manisha are drawn in the 57 kg quarterfinals after getting first round byes. Simranjit Kaur (60 kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg) and Pooja Rani (75 kg), all of whom have qualified for the Olympics, will also be competing in the quarterfinal stage on Wednesday.

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