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Friday,03-December-2021

National

T20 WC: We have to be motivated to counter Trent Boult, says Virat

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India skipper Virat Kohli has insisted that his batting order will have to be motivated to counter New Zealand pacer Trent Boult’s left-arm swing ahead of a crucial Group 2 match in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Dubai on Sunday.

Seen as a virtual do-or-die match, both India and New Zealand are looking to open their accounts in the tournament after losing their opening matches to Pakistan and keep themselves in the hunt for a spot in the semifinals.

“We obviously will come up against some quality bowlers all around the world in this competition. Hence, the intensity at which this tournament operates at is very different. We have played against these individuals for a long time. It is not something out of the ordinary that’s gonna come our way. It all depends on how we take the field mentally and how we counter that. If Trent says he wants to replicate what Shaheen did against us, then he is motivated to do so.

“We have to be motivated to counter that and put pressure on him and the other bowlers as well. So, that’s how the game goes,” Kohli said in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.

“We have played against all these bowlers for a long period of time. We understand exactly what we need to do. All that matters now is when we step on to the field, the mental frame we are in and absolutely confident of hitting that ball clearly and not thinking about any other scenarios. That’s the key to batting in high-pressure scenarios and it is something we are looking forward to execute as a team,” added Kohli.

Kohli acknowledged that dew will become a major factor in the tournament as it progresses but stressed upon the attitude of the team to counter that uncontrollable element in the game.

“It will continue to be a big factor and that is the nature of this tournament. You can look at this situation in two ways: you can bank too much on the toss or you can challenge yourself as a team to say ‘okay, even if we lose the toss, we are good to bat or bowl in any conditions’. That should be the attitude because you don’t have time in the shortest format of the game to think too much about what happened at the toss.

“Game goes away pretty quickly from you in two or three overs and can change the whole course of the game, as we saw in last game as well. For us, our only focus is how those eleven individuals are placed mentally how we are looking to approach this game. It’s been a long break for us. It’s been a lot of time waiting and just doing nothing, really for us a team. Now we are just itching to go back on the park and just be competing again to look to correct the things that didn’t happen well in the first game.”

The 32-year-old mentioned that Shardul Thakur is strongly in the mix for a place in the playing eleven.

“He’s definitely a guy who’s in our plans constantly, making a case for himself. He’s definitely someone who can bring a lot of value to the team. Now what role he plays or where he fits in, that’s something that I cannot talk about right now. Shardul is someone who’s got great potential and will add great value to the team.”

Kohli gave an update on fitness status of all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who didn’t field after receiving a blow on the shoulder while batting against Pakistan. “Hardik’s fine. If you are talking about the blow on the shoulder, he’s absolutely fine.”

National

Eighth season of Pro Kabaddi League to begin from December 22 in Bengaluru

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The organisers of the Pro Kabaddi League announced on Wednesday that the eighth edition of the league will be held here from December 22. It also said that the entire season will be conducted without the presence of spectators for the matches.

Mashal Sports, the organisers of the league, have scheduled triple headers on the first four days. The season will kick-start with U Mumba facing Bengaluru Bulls. The second match will be the league’s ‘Southern Derby’ as Telugu Titans lock horns with Tamil Thalaivas while UP Yoddha will be squaring off against the defending champions Bengal Warriors in the last match of the opening day.

The triple-headers will be only-Saturday affairs throughout the whole duration of the league, starting at 7:30pm, 8:30pm and 9:30pm respectively. The schedule of the first half of season 8 has come while the organisers say that the second half of the league’s schedule will come in mid-January next year.

Keeping the health and safety of players in mind amid COVID times, the organisers have converted the entire venue at Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Centre into an integrated and secure bio-bubble.

All 12 teams will be staying and playing at the same venue in order to follow and adhering to the safety protocols set by the authorities.

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Laxman finally agrees to head NCA: Sources

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VVS-Laxman

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has managed to convince former cricketer VVS Laxman to head the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, sources said.

After Rahul Dravid took over the post of Indian team’s head coach, there were reports that Laxman might be appointed as a new head of NCA.

However, later it was said that the former batter “is uninterested”. But now he is ready to take the charge after the BCCI officials held a meeting with him in Dubai.

“There were some issues and it has been sorted out. The board wanted him to take the reponsibility and he is the right man to come in place of Dravid,” sources said.

It is also learnt that Laxman has also agreed to leave the lucrative commentary career for the NCA.

“Laxman is currently mentor of IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad, apart from being a commentator and cricket analyst. And he will leave it all for NCA now.”

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Everyone had written us off; we are here to rectify that: Finch

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Australian captain Aaron Finch has conceded that not winning the ICC T20 World Cup title so far has been a sore point with the Kangaroos and the final against New Zealand later on Sunday is the “best opportunity to rectify that”.

The closest Australia came to winning the T20 World Cup was during the 2010 edition held in the West Indies, where they lost to England by seven wickets.

“It’s one that’s eluded us in the past, and the fact that we are here in the final gives us the best opportunity to rectify that. Yeah, I think it will be a great game against New Zealand. They are a great side and they have been in all the finals over the last six years. Looking forward to it,” said Finch ahead of the title clash.

Finch added that despite critics writing his team off, the way the players had gone about their business was heartening.

“Everyone had written us off but we had a lot of confidence within. We’re really confident the way that we were preparing, the way that our strategy was coming together. Yeah, I think it hasn’t defied expectation. I think we came here with a really clear plan to win the tournament, and we still feel as though we’ve got the squad to do that.

“Well, I think the spirit among the team… and that’s been really impressive the way we’ve gone about our business. Everyone has prepared really well. Everyone has had a really defining match or match-defining performance at some point. The guys are really up and about for the final,” said Finch.

Finch added that batting stalwart Steve Smith’s form wasn’t a concern despite the fact that the former skipper has been unimpressive so far in the tournament, and the team management has drawn flak for persisting with him.

“No, not concerned one bit about his (Smith) form. He’s a world-class player and he’s someone in big games has showed how valuable he is. He’s been hitting the ball as well as I’ve seen for a long time, so no, no concerns there whatsoever.”

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