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Friday,03-December-2021

International

T20 World Cup: Rizwan, Azam end Pakistan’s hoodoo with a ten-wicket win over India

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India-and-Pakistan

Mohammad Rizwan (79 not out off 55 balls) and Babar Azam (68 not out off 52 balls) displayed wonderful batsmanship to help Pakistan crush India by ten wickets in a Group 2 match of Super 12 of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Stadium here on Sunday. The win, set up by Shaheen Shah Afridis opening burst, also meant that Pakistan broke their hoodoo against India in mens T20 World Cups.

Electing to bowl first, Pakistan restricted India to 151/7 in 20 overs with Afridi rattling the 2007 champions with a two-wicket burst. Skipper Virat Kohli struck a fighting fifty but India never recovered from the early setback and could not manage a big score. Their bowling was even more pedestrian as Pakistan chased down the score in 17.5 overs to seal and memorable victory.

It was a night where nothing went wrong for Pakistan. Chasing 151, Pakistan got off to an impressive start with 43 runs for no loss in power-play. Rizwan began by carting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for back-to-back boundaries in the opening over. In the next over, Azam started off with a glorious back-foot drive off Mohammed Shami. Shami came under attack in the fifth over as Azam and Rizwan took a four each.

India did tighten the screws by not conceding boundaries in the sixth, seventh and eighth overs. But Azam broke the boundary-less spell with a pull over cow corner off Ravindra Jadeja in the ninth over. From there onwards, Azam and Rizwan played risk-free cricket by rotating the strike and punishing the bad balls by dispatching them to the boundary rope.

It was one-way traffic as India had zero answers to the clinical batting from ‘akistan’s openers, especially with dew coming into the picture. Azam reached his half-century with a gigantic six over deep mid-wicket off Varun Chakravarthy in the 13th over. Two overs later, Rizwan too reached the fifty-mark with a pull through cow corner off Jasprit Bumrah in the 15th over.

Rizwan began the 18th over by hammering Shami for a six over fine leg followed by back-to-back fours through the leg-side. Azam finished off the chase with a brace, sealing the win with 13 balls to spare.

Earlier, India lost openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul in the first 13 balls of the innings to Shaheen Shah Afridi. While Sharma was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by a yorker, Rahul was undone by a fast inswinger going through the gate to hit the stumps. Suryakumar Yadav hit a six off Afridi and swept Imad Wasim for four. But his promising stay at the crease ended when he was snapped by keeper Mohammad Rizwan diving to his right to catch the poke off Hasan Ali in the final over of power-play.

Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant led the rebuilding job for India with a stand of 53 off 40 balls for the fourth wicket. Pant was the more aggressive of the two, cutting and swiping off the spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Hafeez followed by carting Ali for back-to-back one-handed sixes over square leg and long-off. But in the 13th over, Pant top-edged a slog, which was caught by Khan off his own bowling.

After Pant fell, Kohli stepped up and took four boundaries off Haris Rauf and Ali en route his half-century. Ravindra Jadeja swatted Ali over fine leg. But on the next ball, Jadeja was foxed by a slower delivery, holing out to deep mid-wicket. Afridi returned for his final over to take out Kohli with a slower bouncer, top-edging behind. Rauf took out Pandya in the final over, but Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami ensured that India crossed the 150-‘ark, which wasn’t sufficient to maintain their clean slate against Pakistan.

Brief scores: India 151/7 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 57, Rishabh Pant 39, Shaheen Afridi 3/31, Hasan Ali 2/44) lost to Pakistan 152/0 in 17.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 79 not out, Babar Azam 68 not out) by ten wickets.

International

IND v NZ, 2nd Test: India reach 111/3 at tea on Day 1

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 India were 111/3 at tea on a truncated opening day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.

Opener Mayank Agarwal was batting on 52 while Shreyas Iyer was not out on 7 as the hosts lost their way after a good start.

Ajaz Patel claimed all three wickets in the space of 15 balls as India slumped from 80/1 in the 28th over to 80/3 at the end of the 30th over.

Brief scores: India 111/3 in 37 overs (Mayank Agarwal batting 52, Shubman Gill 44; Ajaz Patel 3/30) vsNew Zealand.

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ATP backs WTA, asks China to come clean on tennis player Peng Shuai’s wellbeing

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The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has thrown its weight behind the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), expressing concern over the well-being of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view for three weeks after accusing a top Chinese government official of sexual assault.

WTA chief Steve Simon recently said that he has “serious doubts” that Peng was “free, safe and not subject to intimidation”. He also announced suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, with immediate effect till the country investigates in a full, fair and transparent manner the allegation of sexual assault made against a former senior politician by the 35-year-old doubles player.

Late on Thursday, the ATP, the body which governs men’s international tennis, said, “the situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious”.

ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, issued a statement, saying, “The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.

“We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact,” said Gaudenzi.

“We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves.”

WTA administration and players have been in total support of Peng Shuai ever since screenshots of her social media post were shared on Twitter and the WTA has regularly demanded verifiable proof from Chinese government that Peng Shuai is “free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation”.

Chinese authorities have released videos of her at a restaurant and also arranged for a video call with senior officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but WTA is not convinced, thus resulting in the suspension of all its tournaments in China.

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Finally, Test cricket returns to Wankhede and Mumbai is loving it

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Office-goers walking through the ‘D Lane’ in Churchgate area of Mumbai on Friday morning were surprised when a group of people started blowing conch shells, waving India flags and chanting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ as a bus convoy entered the lane on way to the Wankhede Stadium.

They would have been expecting some activity considering that a Test match was scheduled at the Wankhede, but the reception accorded to the convoy must have come as a surprise to many.

While such enthusiasm was a little unexpected but it was not completely out of place as Mumbai is hosting a Test match after nearly five years, and the small crowd that had gathered since early morning, could not control its emotions as the buses ferrying the Indian team made it to the stadium.

The India versus England game in 2016 was the last time a Test match was played at the Wankhede, and with other cricketing activity not possible because of the suspension of sports activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it meant there was a little more enthusiasm among the faithful.

A small group waited patiently for the gates to open so that they could get into the stadium. Hosts Mumbai Cricket Association is allowed to sell only 8000 tickets as the government has authorised only 25 per cent stadium capacity to be filled. With Mumbai police making elaborate arrangements for the Test, Covid protocols are being followed strictly with officials ensuring that people follow the rules.

Though the sparse crowd’s enthusiasm was dampened a bit as the start of the match was delayed due to wet patches on the ground because of the rains, it waited patiently, waving the Indian flags as the players came out for warm-up and light practice.

The crowd erupted in a loud cheer as the New Zealand players, followed by the Indian openers, walked into the field. And the cheers grew louder as Shubman Gill struck two consecutive boundaries off Kyle Jamieson in the second over, with the typical Mumbai chant of “Sachin, Sachin” reaching a crescendo.

More people are expected to come in the next few days as things get interesting.

The last Test played at Wankhede was against England in which skipper Kohli had scored a majestic 235, while Jayant Yadav has smashed a century.

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