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Saturday,19-June-2021

International

Requested for PL U-23 Asia Trophy to be held in India: Nita Ambani

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Chairperson and founder of Football Sports Development Limited and Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani, on Friday said she has requested Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters to host the league’s U-23 Asia Trophy in India.

Nita Ambani joined Masters at the Premier League-ISL Next Generation Mumbai Cup to sign a new agreement that will see the ISL and Premier League continue to work together to share knowledge and expertise in all areas of the elite game.

“I have requested Richard if the Premier League Asia Cup U-23 can be held in India because it will be a big boost for Indian football,” she said.

On FC Goa becoming the first team to qualify for AFC Champions League group stages, Nita Ambani said: “We are delighted FC Goa created history by getting a slot to play in ACL. It is a dream to see India qualify for World Cup in 2026. As you know there will be 48 teams and there will be eight slots for Asian teams. We are currently 19th in Asia and if we can be 12th in the next two years, we have a good chance.”

Reliance Foundation Young Champs beat Manchester United 1-0 in the final league game of the Premier League-ISL Next Generation Mumbai Cup here. On the win, she said: “I think it was a great game to watch. I stand for development of youth games and I think participation in such games is very important for our children. From India as well as from England and the exposure our children have got today is something that they will treasure. Winning and losing will happen in their lives but this exposure and development of football that we are doing is far more important.”

“ISL has always believed in grassroots development. At Reliance Foundation, we are following the pyramid structure of developing football at the base level. This year we started with 6-12 age group children’s league. Then in the middle we have the youth sports and then on top of that sits the young champs.

“I believe the journey is very important. We develop talent at the young level. This partnership will really help us in developing ISL’s grasroots programme and the youth programme,” she added.

Nita Ambani pointed out that this has been a landmark year for ISL with ATK merging with Mohun Bagan, the Premier League renewing Mutual Cooperation Agreement and City Football Group buying majority stakes in Mumbai City FC.

“It has been a landmark year in ISL. We had so many big things. This Premier League tie-up, Mohun Bagan joining with ATK, CFG investments in Mumbai City and now Goa making it to the ACL,” she smiled.

International

ICC to partner UNICEF in fundraiser for Covid relief

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The International Cricket Council (ICC), through its ‘Cricket for Good initiative’, has launched a fundraising campaign to support UNICEF’s emergency Covid-19 response in South Asia.

The campaign was launched ahead of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final being played between India and New Zealand in Southampton from Friday.

The world cricket governing body said in a statement that, “ICC’s support to UNICEF at this critical time will harness the power and reach of cricket, one of the world’s most popular sports, to safeguard the lives and futures of children.

“As part of the campaign, ICC will leverage its audience base on its digital channels to contribute to UNICEF. ICC with UNICEF shall display joint appeals on its digital platforms, LED perimeter boards and replay screens at the venue, for its broadcast audiences to donate directly to UNICEF’s donation platform.”

In-game commentary will also reach out to audiences for their support.

Acting ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said, “By partnering with UNICEF to support their Covid-19 relief work, we can use the global platform provided by the inaugural World Test Championship Final to raise urgent funds that can make a real difference. We appeal to cricket fans around the world to come together to show their support for the work of UNICEF at such a difficult time and donate to such a worthwhile cause.”

In addition, ICC along with Tech Mahindra, the merchandise partner for the WTC Final, have launched a Covid-19 relief range and 10 per cent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF’s relief work in South Asia.

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NZ to focus on fast bowling in WTC final: Kane Williamson

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Hours before the start of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India at the Ageas Bowl here, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson said his team would be focusing on its main strength – bowling – when it takes on the Virat Kohli-led side on Friday.

In a video posted on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website, Williams said on Friday that, “For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play. It’s important to our team to go out there and enjoy the occasion. A number of guys that have been playing well, same bowlers that have been contributing really well for a period of time, which is great,” said Williamson, indicating that the New Zealand fast-bowling battery will come hard at India over the next few days.

“There is some depth in that (bowling) department, which is very important to our team, so there’ll be some tricky but good conversations to have in finalising them (bowlers). There’s been a lot of growth in our side over a period of time, so many challenges along the way every day and the World Test Championship final is a culmination of that,” said Williamson.

During the recently-concluded two-Test series against England, New Zealand bowlers were a handful for the hosts, helping the visitors win 1-0.

While in the first Test at Lord’s, New Zealand batsman Devon Conway slammed a double century and Tim Southee took six first-innings wickets, in the second Test at Edgbaston, Trent Boult and Matt Henry took four and three wickets respectively in the first innings to put England on the back-foot.

The duo returned in the second innings to help New Zealand to an eight-wicket win.

Williamson said New Zealand will take India lightly at its own risk.

“We know in cricket anything can happen. This is the final and both teams need to win, so both teams have prepared as well as they could. It is a one-off in cricket and anything can happen. We’re really looking forward to the match the players are looking forward to getting involved.

“We’ll be realistic, we know India are an incredibly strong side all around the world, and rightly so. (They are) recognised as the best team. You have these (ICC) rankings, all these types of different things. They take slightly different shapes every day, but we know that the challenges are very, very strong against this Indian side,” said Williamson, indicating that ICC Test rankings don’t matter when playing against a strong opposition like India.

New Zealand are the No. 1 Test team in the world, while India are second.

“For us we want to focus on the cricket that we want to play,” added Williamson.

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WTC final just another feather to add in this big hat: Virat Kohli

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India skipper Virat Kohli said on Friday that the World Test Championship (WTC) final was “just another feather to add in this big hat that we have created” and that there were many more milestones to come.

India take on the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in a few hours from now, with a prize of Rs 12 crore along with an ICC Test Championship Mace as reward for the winner.

However, Kohli said in a video posted on the International Cricket Council (ICC) website on Friday that, “For us this is not the final frontier; this is just another feather to add in this big hat that we have created as a Test team.

“And this is not just good cricket over the last 7-8 months. This is (the result of) hard work and toil for the last 4-5 years, understanding what kind of players we need, understanding the strengths that we need as a Test side, the kind of bowling line-up we need to win Test matches everywhere in the world, the kind of batsmen we need with different roles to play in the squad. Identifying (all) those players.

“And, eventually, here we are playing the final of a World Test Championship, which, honestly, when we started our journey, we did not think that something of this magnitude will be conducted for Test cricket. But it’s the right step forward; it’s the right direction to take,” Kohli said commending the ICC for its efforts.

“We certainly feel that we have our goals set on the larger vision for Indian cricket and this (WTC final) is just a game which has a bit more value added to it, but for us, every Test match over the last five years probably has been of same value, and hence, we have been the top side for the last 3-4 years in Test cricket,” felt Kohli.

Williamson said the journey to pinnacle of world Test was a challenging one.

“I suppose, we are a small country, and everybody has their different challenges and it’s trying to commit to what is important to us as a group. We’ve got a really good opportunity coming up in the (WTC) final against the best team in the world and that’s great.”

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