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Friday,03-December-2021

International

Team was jaded after hectic IPL; long break will help immensely: Kohli

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India skipper Virat Kohli did concede after the 10-wicket thrashing at the hands of Pakistan in an ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game here that the “high-intensity” Indian Premier League 2021, which concluded here recently, did take a toll on the players and the week-long break before the next game will do his side a world of good.

Compared to the enthusiasm shown by the Indian players for their respective IPL franchises recently, Virat’s boys looked jaded and listless as they went about their opening match against the arch-rivals nowhere near their best, with their express pace bowlers barely managing military medium, compared to the likes of Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf who bowled their hearts out on Sunday night.

Asked, how does he see the week-long gap between the opening ‘Super 12’ game against Pakistan and the next assignment against New Zealand on October 31, Kohli said during the post-match press conference that, “I think it works really well for us from all point of views. Knowing that we have played a full-fledged season already, we played the IPL, which is very high octane by itself in testing conditions here in the UAE, and then we come into the World Cup. So for us these big breaks are definitely something that’s going to help us as a team to be in the prime physical condition that we need to be to play this high-intensity tournament.

“T20 World Cup is always a high-intensity tournament, and it will help us, again, to regroup as a team to get to the practice sessions eager to execute the things that we want to, prepare in a very confident manner and then arrive on the day again to make sure that this time we execute our plans, and we have enough confidence in our ability that with this preparation time, we’ll come out once again being in a positive frame of mind. For us as a team personally I can say it’s a good thing that’s happening. We’ll have time to reflect and to prepare again,” added Kohli, who will be stepping down as T20 captain after the World T20 assignment.

Losing the toss, Kohli said, was crucial as the team batting second got a little more advantage, with the dew making it easy for the Pakistan batters to rotate strike.

Expressing his frustration with the conditions, Kohli said, “The more dew came in towards the second half of the Pakistan innings, 10 overs onwards, and the wicket will rotate strike. We could not even get dot balls in because the pitch was obviously providing a big pace for the batsman to work with. The slower balls were not holding up as much.

“These small little factors, as I said, it did make a massive difference, and as a team you need to understand what was the reality of the situation out there in the middle, and that’s where those 20, 25 extra runs would have been good, but brilliant bowling in the first six (overs by Pakistan) did not allow us to get those extra runs.”

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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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