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Monday,17-January-2022

National

Under new skipper Rishabh Pant, DC look to go one step further in IPL 2021

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Delhi Capitals lost their captain well before the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) started but it is this very factor that makes them arguably the most intriguing team going into the new season.

Shreyas Iyer’s replacement as skipper of the team this year will be 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who couldn’t make much of an impression last season, but has put up career-defining performances since then for India team.

Pant struggled to find consistency in IPL 2020, scoring 343 runs in 14 matches with just one half-century. He also missed a few matches due to injury.

Pant was dropped from the subsequent limited-overs tour of Australia but then turned it around in India’s 2-1 Test series win. Impressive performances followed during the series against England and it has culminated in him becoming captain of the franchise.

Iyer’s absence does leave a hole for DC in batting and puts more pressure on the top order to perform. This brings into focus Prithvi Shaw, who, unlike Pant, was dropped from the team after a string of failures last season and lost his place in the Indian setup as well due to his struggles with the bat.

The opener has since plundered a record 827 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and DC would be hoping that he would carry forward his good form into the IPL.

He would be opening the batting with Shikhar Dhawan, who would be hungry to prove his worth in the shortest format of the game ahead of the T20 World Cup. DC have bought Steve Smith.

Smith may have to contend with a place on the bench considering that DC will be looking to field a foreign player in Shimron Hetmyer or Sam Billings in the lower middle-order in addition to all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and South African fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje.

It is to be noted, however, that Rabada and Nortje will be available for selection only from the second game which means Smith could be playing in DC’s season opener against Chennai Super Kings.

In the absence of Nortje and Rabada, England all-rounder Chris Woakes could also find a place in the squad that plays the first match. Woakes missed the previous season due to personal reasons and in his absence, Nortje established himself as one of the most important players in the team due to his propensity to take wickets in the powerplay and the death overs.

Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin make up valuable spinning options for DC, although the former testing positive for Covid-19 puts in doubt his participation in the first match at least.

It was a tale of two halves for DC last season — they started in emphatic fashion, winning seven out of their first nine matches. They, however, struggled to replicate that kind of form toward the end of the league stage and in the final, they lost to Mumbai Indians by five wickets.

“We want to go one step further this year and that’s the Delhi Capitals team goal. We have the players to win the title. We were very close last year and the plus point for this season is that most of the players such as Rishabh Pant have been playing a lot of cricket. They have been in touch with the game and therefore they are in good rhythm going into the IPL,” said assistant coach Mohammad Kaif.

Full squad: Rishabh Pant (captain/wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith, Sam Billings, Shimron Hetmyer, Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Umesh Yadav, Tom Curran, Avesh Khan, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Ripal Patel, Lukman Hussain Meriwala, M Siddharth, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Chris Woakes, Vishnu Vinod (wicketkeeper), Aditya Tare (wicketkeeper)

Coaching staff: Ricky Ponting,(head coach), Mohammad Kaif and Ajay Ratra(assistant coaches), Pravin Amre (batting consultant), James Hopes (bowling coach).

National

PKL 8: Patna Pirates beat Puneri Paltan 38-26

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Raider Sachin scored 10 points as three-time champions Patna Pirates defeated Puneri Paltan 38-26 in Match 17 of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) Season 8 at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, on Tuesday. Sachin scored a Super 10 (10 points) and was ably supported by Patna’s defensive trio of Sunil (4 points), Mohammadreza Chiyaneh (3 points), and Sajin C (3 points). The lack of a quality raider despite promising performances from youngsters will be a cause of concern for the Puneri Paltan who succumbed to their second loss in three matches.

All eyes were once again on Pune’s Rahul Chaudhari but the showman, despite starting the match, was substituted for young Mohit Goyat by coach Anup Kumar in the first half. The trio of raiders including Aslam Inamdar and Pankaj Mohite caused problems for the Patna defence while at the other end Prashant Kumar Rai and Sachin were equally effective.

Patna were facing the risk of an all-out with six minutes left to half-time, but their defender Sajin C completed a Super Tackle to turn the momentum. The three-time champions got lucky later when Monu Goyat entered the lobby without contact, in a do-or-die raid only to be followed by three Pune defenders who had been deceived by his actions. The first half ended 14-14 with Pune having just two men on the mat.

Pune coach Anup Kumar clearly expected from his set of raiders and brought in Shubham Shelke for Pankaj Mohite in the second half. But Patna kept fighting back, thanks to the largely confident tackles from the likes of Mohammadreza Chiyaneh and Sajin. With 10 minutes remaining, Patna had a four-point lead and that was extended a’ Pune’s plan to play on the Do-or-Die raid backfired. Sachin scored two points in the crucial raid for Patna to inspire another ALL OUT in the 13th minute and open a 10-point lead.

Patna maintained the momentum and though Sunil and Vishal Bharadwaj picked up yellow cards in the final minutes as the match became intense the three-time champions ensured there was no late comeback by Pune and clinched an important win.

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PKL 8: Bengal Warriors beat Gujarat Giants

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Bengal Warriors defeated Gujarat Giants 31-28 on Day 3 of the Pro Kabaddi League Season 8 held at The Sheraton Grand, Whitefield, here on Friday. This was Bengal Warriors’ second win in as many matches while Gujarat Gaints have one win and one loss. The Warriors have 10 points the same as Dabang Delhi but are placed second on a lower points-difference while Gujarat have six points.

Bengal Warriors started well and established a slender lead (16-11) against Gujarat Giants at half-time. They maintained their advantage despite the valiant efforts of the Gujarat Giants, managed to register a narrow victory.

Maninder Singh was the top scorer for Bengal Warriors with eight points while Esmaeil Nabibakhsh contributed four points.

Bengal Warriors won 18 raid points as against 19 by Gujarat Giants. But it was in defence that they scored, claiming 10 points as against eight by their rivals. They bagged two all-outs as against none by the Giants.

Rakesh Narwal was the top scorer for Gujarat Giants with 12 points while Rakesh Sungroya contributed four points.

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Rishabh Pant appointed as Uttarakhand’s brand ambassador

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 Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Sunday announced that Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been appointed as the brand ambassador of the state.

Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister said that Pant will encourage the youngsters to take up sports.

“One of the best cricket players of India, the idol of youth and son of Uttarakhand, Rishabh Pant has been appointed as “State Brand Ambassador” by our government with the aim of encouraging the youth of the state towards sports and public health,” tweeted Dhami in Hindi, along with the video.

In the video, CM Dhami can be seen interacting with Rishabh and asking about his well-being.

The attacking batter also thanked the Chief Minister for the opportunity, saying that he will try his best to motivate people towards fitness.

“Thank you @pushkardhami sir for giving me the opportunity to be the Brand Ambassador of promoting Sports and General Health among the people of Uttarakhand. I’ll do my best to spread this message and feeling happy that you are taking these steps towards a fitter India,” tweeted Pant.

“Coming from a small town of Roorkee, I am confident that the people here have the ability to make the country proud in various fields of life,” he added.

The 24-year Pant, who was rested for the New Zealand Tests, is currently in Johannesburg, South Africa as the Indian Team is all set to face Proteas in the three-match Test series, starting December 26.

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