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Monday,26-September-2022

International

T20 World Cup: From here on, India’s path becomes more treacherous and long-winding

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India’s second consecutive defeat in the ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game has not only rattled the Virat Kohli-led side, but also shocked the billion-plus die-hard fans back home, who were expecting a bumper performance from the ‘Men in Blue’ after the “thorough homework” done by the players in the Indian Premier League (IPL), which concluded just two days before the global extravaganza began.

For India, it is nothing less than humiliation that the two defeats — a 10-wicket hammering at the hands of Pakistan and an eight-wicket thrashing from the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand – have pushed them even below countries like Afghanistan and Namibia on the Group 2 points table.

At fifth position — behind Pakistan (6 points from three matches), Afghanistan (4 points from 3 games), New Zealand (2 points from 2 games) and Namibia (2 points from 2 games) — indicates the Virat Kohli-led India have hit the self-destruction button, and the 2007 T20 World champions are are now at the mercy of other teams to make the grade.

Kohli’s side will now, most likely, need to win their three remaining fixtures — vs Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia — while also hoping that other results and the net run rate equation goes their way.

Skipper Kohli, who will be stepping down as India’s T20 skipper after the World Cup, vent out his frustration in the post-match press conference following the crushing loss to New Zealand, saying, “I don’t think we were brave enough with bat or ball.”

“We didn’t have much to defend but we weren’t brave when we walked out to field,” added Kohli.

“When you play for the Indian cricket team you have a lot of expectations — not just from fans, but players as well. So there’s always going to be more pressure with our games and we’ve embraced it over the years. Everyone who plays for India has to embrace it. And when you cope together as a team you overcome it and we haven’t done it these two games. Just because you’re the Indian team and there are expectations doesn’t mean you start playing differently.”

India’s pathetic net run rate (NRR) of -1.609 means they will either have to finish points clear of their rivals for qualification or hope for big margins of victory in the back-end of the tournament to turn that NRR on its head.

The difficulty for India is that Afghanistan, who currently have four points, hammered Scotland by 130 runs, and it will take a massive charge from Kohli’s boys to overhaul their +3.097 NRR — currently the second-best at the tournament behind England in Group 1.

A defeat to Afghanistan, who thrive on spin, in Abu Dhabi on November 3 and India’s chances of making it to the last-four will evaporate. Ravi Shastri’s squad will not only be targeting a win, but also a big one in order to redress some of the NRR balance in the group. India will probably then hope for a narrow Afghanistan win over New Zealand to take the qualification down to net run rate.

The best chance for India to make it out of the group is for one of the Group 2 qualifiers, Namibia and Scotland, to pull off an upset against New Zealand. Both teams showed their class when making it through Round 1, but have yet to trouble the Test-playing nations during the Super 12 stage.

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Hayley Matthews to lead West Indies women in white-ball series against New Zealand

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Newly-appointed captain Hayley Matthews will lead the West Indies side to take on New Zealand Women in three ODIs from September 16-22 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here.

The side sees the return of the experienced wicketkeeper-batter Natasha McLean. The squad was selected based on the performances in the recently concluded 6ixty and the Women’s Caribbean Premier League (WCPL) tournaments.

The 17-member provisional squad will be pruned down to 13 a day before the start of the series.

The five T20 Internationals are scheduled for September 25 to October 6.

For the ODI series, West Indies will be looking to build on the progress after reaching the semifinals of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year. The team will then look to the five T20I matches as part of their preparations for the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa in January.

Mandy Mangru and Kaysia Schultz have also joined the players in Antigua for a 10-day training camp led by head coach Courtney Walsh.

“The New Zealand series is very important on the women’s cricket landscape not only because it starts a new cycle, but also because it is part of the preparation leading towards the T20 World Cup in South Africa,” CWI’s lead selector for women’s cricket, Ann Browne-John, said.

“With a few senior players unavailable at this time, for different reasons, like the experienced Anisa Mohammed, Kycia Knight and recently retired Deandra Dottin, the selectors were still able to get a blend of senior and developing players including Under-19 player Jannillea Glasgow and returning players Natasha McLean and Sheneta Grimmond. Ultimately, we believe that captain Hayley Matthews, in her first series, will have a promising squad of players to start building with,” added Browne-John

Full squad: Hayley Matthews (C), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Shabika Gajnabi, Jannillea Glasgow, Sheneta Grimmond, Chinelle Henry, Kyshona Knight, Natasha McLean, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Shakera Selman, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams.

Schedule: ODI Series – September 16, 18 and 22. T20I Series – September 25, 28, Oct 1, 4 and 6.

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India drawn in an interesting pool for 2023 Hockey World Cup, feels Sreejesh

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Veteran India hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels his side has been drawn in an “interesting pool” for the FIH Odisha World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, scheduled to be played from January 13-29, with the likes of England and Wales adding to the excitement.

The Indian team has been drawn in Pool D with England, Spain and Wales in the showpiece event.

“It is an interesting pool. England, Spain and Wales all three are really good teams. Having played England and Wales at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games recently, I feel it will be a tough competition. But, we don’t need to think about it right now. At present, it’s all about us. We are going step-by-step and working on our game at the national camp. We are very excited and looking forward to playing the World Cup at home for the second consecutive time,” said 34-year-old Sreejesh, who played a big role in India returning from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with a bronze medal after four decades.

About the team’s prospects in the Pro League 2022-23 matches, Sreejesh said the matches in Odisha will be like a mock test for the 2023 World Cup.

“The Pro League is the best platform for us because we get to play against some of the top teams. The upcoming matches at home will be like a mock test for us, it will help us for the real challenge which we will face in January 2023. It will also help us in providing young players the experience of playing high-level hockey. So, it’s a great opportunity for us as it will sort of help us set the tempo for the World Cup,” said Sreejesh a veteran of 266 international matches.

Sreejesh, who has been nominated for the FIH Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year Award 2021-22, credited team effort for his nomination for the award which he won last year.

“It is an honour for me to be nominated for the FIH Goalkeeper of the Year award category. Even though I have been nominated as an individual, it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates, who have been giving their best each and every day for the team. I am privileged to have such amazing teammates and coaching staff which has helped me bring out the best of my game and helped me to take it to another level.”

The experienced goalkeeper added, “Every time I get nominated for the awards, I feel I am raising the bar for myself and for the youngsters who aspire to become goalkeepers. If you want to reach this level, you have to keep working hard and strive to be better every day.”

Apart from Sreejesh, Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year Women), Sanjay (FIH Rising Star of the Year Men), Mumtaz Khan (FIH Rising Star of the Year Women), Graham Reid (FIH Men’s Team Coach of the Year Men) and Janneke Schopman (FIH Women’s Team Coach of the Year Women) have also been nominated for FIH Hockey Star Awards 2021-22.

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Indian cricketer Veda Krishnamurthy to get engaged, proposal photos go viral

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 Indian women’s cricket team batter Veda Krishnamurthy is set to enter a new phase of life. Her family sources confirmed that her engagement ceremony will be held in Bengaluru on September 18.

Veda Krishnamurthy will get engaged to upcoming cricketer Arjun Hoysala. Both Arjun and Veda have shared the photos of their special moments on social media and the images have gone viral.

Veda Krishnamurthy has been going through a rough patch after losing her mother and sister to Covid-19. She is presently not in the Indian team and working her ways to get back into the side.

The photo of Arjun kneeling before Veda Krishnamurthy and proposing to her has gone viral. Arjun has captioned the photo “And she said ‘yes'”. The couple has also shared photos of them at a picturesque location in Karnataka.

Arjun, a left-handed batter, has played for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy. He had also played for various franchises in the Karnataka Premier League.

Veda Krishnamurthy, an all-rounder who is a member of the Karnataka women’s cricket team, has played 48 ODIs and 76 T20Is. She was part of the Indian team in the ODI World Cup in 2017 and the T20 World Cup in 2020.

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