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RR Spinner Shreyas Gopal: I was lucky to dismiss Kohli and AB de Villiers




His figures of 3/12 from four overs turned the game in Rajasthan Royals’ favour and spinner Shreyas Gopal feels just extra fortunate that those three wickets were none other than Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli, star batsman AB de Villiers and young sensation Shimron Hetmyer.

Speaking after the game, Gopal said: “I still say I’m fortunate and lucky to get such big wickets. As a youngster, it’s not going to come everyday and it’s one of my biggest moments. I was more fortunate that our plans worked today.”

Gopal said that the pressure created in the powerplay helped the spinner as the RCB batsmen looked to attack him to get the scoreboard moving.

“We created a lot of pressure in the first six overs. They didn’t get 65-70. They had to make runs off me, I had better chance of taking wickets. Just went on gut feeling, nothing planned as such. It’s good to have few different balls up your sleeves and be able to execute. We (wrist spinners) get to spin the ball both sides and that’s probably an advantage. It’s about bowling better areas and sticking to plans,” he said.

Skipper Ajinkya Rahane was all praise for his young teammate. “Our thinking was, dew would come into effect. His (Shreyas Gopal) record against Virat and AB — we all know,” he said.

Rahane felt that while Gopal was a standout performer, the other players also did a good job. “Overall, it was a great team effort. After 3-4 overs, we came to know that the wicket was slow. All the bowlers chipped in really well. That’s what we wanted to do. We played good cricket in the last three matches. Today, it was about giving more than 100 per cent,” he said.

While Gopal snatched the limelight with his quality effort with the ball, Rahane also praised Rahul Tripathi (34* off 23 balls) for playing a mature knock to take RR home. “I think the way he (Tripathi) batted with (Steve) Smith and (Ben) Stokes, it was incredible,” he said.


Ruturaj Gaikwad has got talent oozing out of him: Stephen Fleming




Chennai Super Kings (CSK) head coach Stephen Fleming said that there had never been any pressure on opener Ruturaj Gaikwad from within the team this season but is happy that the opener finally managed to get among the runs in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

Gaikwad, who was one of the biggest finds towards the end of CSK’s campaign last season, managed scores of 5, 5 and 10 before he scored 64 off 42 balls on Wednesday against KKR.

“From my point of view, (conversations with Gaikwad) has been no different from what we have been talking about all along which is just keep playing. We rate him very highly,” said Fleming in the post-match press conference.

“There is a bit of pressure from outside but inside the camp there is no doubt about what he is capable of. He is such a stylish player, trains well and he has got talent oozing out of him. The mental aspect of getting a good performance today will do him a lot of good,” said Fleming.

Fleming also said that all-rounder Moeen Ali is what the team was looking for and lacking last season.

“Moeen Ali is adding an all-round aspect to our game. We lacked it a bit last year but his contributions have just been what we were looking for. We are absolutely happy with the way he has started,” said Fleming.

“Moeen Ali has been really impressive and with the way he has played at number three, has been instrumental in us getting big scores,” he said.

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My level will go up a couple of notches I get fitter: Sai Praneeth




Ace Indian badminton player Sai Praneeth said that he is looking to get fitter so as to improve the level of his game.

Praneeth feels that improving his fitness is what is required for him to bridge the gap between himself and some of the top players in the game as he is not lagging too far behind in the technical aspects.

“I don’t have many problems with my game but I must get fitter. The level of badminton will go up a couple of notches if I get more fit and remain fit consistently,” Praneeth told the Olympic Channel.

Praneeth, who won bronze in the 2019 World Championships, faced Danish world No.2 Viktor Axelsen in the second round of the All England Open earlier in the year and seemed to be on the ascendancy for much of the first half of the match. He won the first game 21-15 and was leading 5-0 in the second when he seemed to slack off and went on to lose the match.

“It was a bit of a fitness issue for me in All England. If everything had gone smoothly and I was in a better shape I could have played much better,” said Praneeth.

The 28-year-old Hyderabad player said that he lost almost three weeks in January due to testing positive before the Toyota Thailand Open.

“I just wasted three weeks of my time without any fault of mine. Mentally it is also very taxing. In every tournament, you have to get Covid tested multiple times. The results are sometimes inaccurate,” said Praneeth.

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Everything helps in the end: Rishabh Pant




Delhi Capitals (DC) skipper Rishabh Pant admitted that pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s no-balls also contributed to his team’s six-wicket win over Mumbai Indians (MI) here on Tuesday.

MI bowlers took the game to the last over while removing DC’s top-order batsmen. With 15 needed off the last two overs, and with Bumrah to bowl the second last over, it wasn’t easy for DC.

However, Bumrah bowled two no-balls – first and third balls of the over – in his last over to make things easy for DC as they got extra runs and deliveries. Besides, both the free-hits resulted in catches which didn’t count.

“Everything helps in the end if you win the match,” added Pant while referring to Bumrah’s no-balls.

Pant praised his Delhi Ranji teammate Lalit Yadav who remained calm to lead DC to win. Yadav, who had taken the crucial wicket of Krunal Pandya (1/17 off four overs), made unbeaten 22 off 25 balls to take DC home.

“I think Lalit is a great Indian player and we are looking to groom him,” said Pant on Yadav’s promotion to No. 4 batting slot ahead of the likes of him and Hetmyer.

Pant also acknowledged Amit Mishra’s bowling spell.

“When we started we were little under pressure. Mishy bhai (Amit Mishra) got us into the game. Bowlers did a great job to restrict them to 137,” said Pant.

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