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Vijay Hazare Trophy: Jaydev Unadkat to lead Saurashtra

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Left-arm fast bowler Jaydev Unadkat has been named as Saurashtra captain for the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament slated to be played across six cities — Surat, Indore, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Kolkata and Chennai — from February 20 to March 14.

Unadkat is a member of the 20-man squad announced on Thursday by the Saurashtra Cricket Association for the 50-over tournament.

Saurashtra had finished third in Group D in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament. Placed in Group E alongside Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Bengal, Chandigarh and Services, they will play their first match in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on February 21 against Jammu and Kashmir in Kolkata.

As per the schedule announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), players of all the teams will have to assemble at their respective venue a week before the start of the tournament. The players will undergo quarantine and there will be three Covid-19 tests on February 13, 15 and 17 while the practice session will be held on February 18 and 19. The league phase of the tournament is scheduled to take place from February 20 until March 1.

The knockout stages will start with a pre-quarterfinal on March 7 followed by quarterfinals on March 8 and 9. The semi-finals will be taking place on March 11 and the final will be held on March 14. The venues for the knockouts have not yet been announced by BCCI while the teams qualifying for the knockouts have to undergo another two Covid-19 tests on March 2 and 4.

Squad: Jaydev Unadkat (c), Avi Barot, Chirag Jani, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Harvik Desai, Arpit Vasavada, Kamlesh Makwana, Vishwarajsinh Jadeja, Chetan Sakariya, Prerak Mankad, Divyarajsinh Chauhan, Jay Chauhan, Parth Bhut, Agnivesh Ayachi, Snell Patel, Kishan Parmar, Himalay Barad, Kushang Patel, Parth Chauhan, Devang Karamta.

Support staff: Sitanshu Kotak (head coach), Niraj Odedra (coach), Abhishek Thakar (head physio), Virendra Vegda (assistant coach), Bhushan Chauhan (manager).

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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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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