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Ranji Trophy: Ishant, Saha among notable absentees as Test players participate in the tournament



After a gap of almost two years, the Ranji Trophy, India’s domestic premier first-class competition is returning to action. The 87th edition of the Ranji Trophy, which will be split into two phases on either side of the Indian Premier League (IPL), will see many current Test players play in the competition.

But wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, pacer Ishant Sharma and all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be giving the competition a miss. With the Ranji Trophy now set to begin from February 17, many players who were a part of the Test side in South Africa have the chance to keep themselves busy in red-ball cricket ahead of the Sri Lanka series at home.

Senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane will be appearing for their respective teams — Saurashtra and Mumbai. Coincidentally, both Saurashtra and Mumbai are in Elite Group D alongside Goa and Odisha and will play all matches in Ahmedabad.

Featuring in the Ranji Trophy gives both Pujara and Rahane a chance to get some valuable runs after being under scrutiny for long. Since cricket re-started after a Covid-19 enforced break, Rahane has scored just one century — against Australia on Boxing Day 2020 — while Pujara, despite playing some gutsy knocks, is yet to reach a three-figure mark — his last century was against Australia in Sydney 2019.

“Yeah, they are very good players. Hopefully, they will go back to Ranji Trophy and score a lot of runs, which I am sure they will. I don’t see any problem (for them to go back to domestic cricket after playing so much international cricket). Ranji Trophy is a huge tournament, and we have all played the tournament. So, they, too, will go back there and perform. They have played the tournament in the past when they were only playing Test cricket and were not part of the ODI or limited-overs team,” BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had said to Sportstar.

Since the start of 2021, Rahane has scored just 547 runs, averaging only 20.25 in 27 innings. Pujara, on the other hand, amassed 810 runs, averaging just 27.93 in 30 innings. The senior men’s selection committee is expected to keep a close eye on the duo’s performances in Ranji Trophy.

Apart from Rahane and Pujara, Navdeep Saini (Delhi), Mayank Agarwal (Karnataka), Priyank Panchal (Gujarat), Hanuma Vihari (Hyderabad), Jayant Yadav (Haryana) and Umesh Yadav (Vidarbha) are also expected to turn out for their respective domestic teams.

But what has been puzzling has been the absence of Ishant, Saha and Pandya from a tournament which has been the pathway for the India ‘A’ team followed by the national team. Saha, in an interview to The Telegraph on Thursday, didn’t divulge more than ‘personal reasons’ for skipping Ranji Trophy for Bengal.

“Till the (Indian) squad (for the two-Test series versus Sri Lanka) is announced, I will refrain from saying anything. Because that’s what I’ve been doing throughout. Besides, the people who are spreading news and making claims about my future should be able to say it better. At present, I’m just not thinking of retirement. It’s completely my decision as to how long I’ll continue and when I’ll hang up my boots.”

In terms of Ishant, him falling down the pecking order of Test pacers is hinted as the reason behind not turning out for Delhi in Ranji Trophy.

As far as Pandya is concerned, the newly-appointed captain of Gujarat Titans could make a comeback from an injury and rehabilitation lay-off through the white-ball game. His elder brother, Krunal, is in Baroda’s squad for the Ranji Trophy.

Meanwhile, some members of the victorious U19 World Cup winning-side, including captain Yash Dhull, have been included in Ranji Trophy squads for their respective sides.

Dhull will link up with Delhi for their matches while left-arm pacer Ravi Kumar is in Bengal’s squad. Pace all-rounder Raj Bawa, who was ‘Player of the Match’ in the final against England and opener Harnoor Singh are in Chandigarh’s squad while Aneeshwar Gautam is in Karnataka’s squad as well.


‘I’m happy here’: Cristiano Ronaldo pledges to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Pro League




Portugese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has vowed to continue at Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia despite walking away empty handed in this season. The 38-year-old has earmarked the tournament to be among the top five in the world.

Ronaldo, who signed a two and a half year contract with Al Nassr, scored 14 goals in 16 games in the season, with his side standing second behind Al Ittihad in the Saudi Pro league. However, there were speculations about how long will he stay as reports of swap deal with Saudi-owned Newcastle United emerged, who have now qualified for next season’s Champions league.

In an official Saudi Pro League interview, the star footballer revealed:

“I’m happy here, I want to continue here, I will continue here. And in my opinion, if they continue to do the work that they want to do here, for the next five years, I think the Saudi league can be a top five league in the world. I expected to win something this year, but we didn’t, but next year I’m really positive, but next year I’m really positive and confident that things will change and we go in a better way.”

Cristiano Ronaldo suggests he is still adjusting to strange training timings in Saudi Arabia:

Ronaldo also revealed how contrasting the training timings in Europe and Saudi Arabia are, elaborating:

“In Europe, we train more in the morning, but here we train in the afternoon or evening and in Ramadan, we train at 10 at night. So this is strange but as I tell you, these situations are part of an experience, memories. I like to live these moments because you learn with these things.”

With 837 goals in 512 games, Ronaldo is the combined highest goal scorer in history.

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Lionel Messi to leave PSG at the end of the season, confirms club manager Christophe Galtier




Paris Saint Germain superstar Lionel Messi will leave the club at the end of the current season, manager Christophe Galtier confirmed on Thursday. Messi made 74 appearances for PSG in which he scored 32 goals and made 35 assists. In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain has played 37 matches out of which they have won 27, lost six and drew four.

PSG had acquired Messi’s services two years ago in a record transfer deal after he left FC Barcelona in 2021.

Messi, who’s contract with PSG ends this season, is now being linked with with a move to Saudi Arabia while talk of a return to the Nou Camp has picked up in Spain in recent weeks.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will play his final match for PSG against Clermont Foot on Saturday.

“I had the privilege of coaching the best player in the history of football,” Galtier said on Thursday. “This will be his last match at the Parc des Princes, and I hope that he will receive the warmest of welcomes.”

Messi’s envious record

In the Spanish La Liga football competition, Lionel Messi has scored 474 goals in 520 matches. In the French Ligue 1, Messi has scored 22 goals in 57 matches.

The 35-year-old while playing for Football Club Barcelona has scored 672 goals in 778 games. While playing for Paris Saint-Germain he has scored 32 goals in 74 matches.

No plan to bring Messi back: Barca president

FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta recently said that the club has re-established good relationships with Argentine legend Lionel Messi, but it would not pay any price to bring him back to the Camp Nou Stadium.

“I have spoken with Leo to somehow redirect the situation that occurred when I had to put the institution ahead of everything, including him, the best player in the world,” said Laporta in a Monday morning TV show.

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Mark Zuckerberg strikes gold against jiu jitsu fighters, posts pictures on Instagram




In the past, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared helpless in front of the US Congress where he has been slapped by fines, and fired 11,000 vulnerable employees after being hit by falling revenues. But outside the business arena where Meta is facing tough competition from TikTok and other rivals, Zuckerberg is a huge mixed martial arts fan.

Contrary to setbacks in the tech sector, the Facebook founder has tasted victory in jiu jitsu.

Striking gold, but in a different arena

  • The billionaire who has trained with UFC fighters, posted pictures after winning jiu jitsu matches for the first time.
  • The billionaire who tried his hand at martial arts, revealed that he won a gold medal in the Gi categroy and a silver medal in the No-GI category.
  • His post on Instagram received comments from UFC featherweight and bantamweight category champions, as well as jiu jitsu hall of fame member Bernardo Faria.

Competitive or short tempered?

  • The entrepreneur turned sportsperson, who also enjoys surfing, was seen getting into a heated argument after losing a contest during the tournament in California as well.
  • On the work front, Zuckerberg’s firm Meta also surprised the markets by bouncing back with strong earnings, after struggling with loss of ad revenue.
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