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Sunday,28-November-2021

National

We really need to start with five or six teams: Smriti Mandhana on women’s IPL

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Smriti-Mandhana

Indian opener Smriti Mandhana feels that the women’s IPL should start with five or six teams as there is a lot of depth in women’s cricket in the country.

Smriti recently came back from the Hundred, scoring 167 runs in seven matches at an average of 27.83. She took Trailblazers to victory in the women’s T20 challenge in the UAE last year. Smriti has also played for Western Storm in the Kia Super League in England and represented Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League in Australia.

“There are same number of states for men and women. So, when they started men’s IPL, there were same number of states. But the quality went higher and higher as the years passed by. What IPL is today, it wasn’t the same 10 or 11 years back. I think it’s the same for women’s cricket. We have same amount of girls playing cricket. For now, I think we will have good five or six teams to start with and probably grow to eight teams in one or two years. But till the time we don’t start, we don’t know,” said Smriti in an episode on Ravichandran Ashwin’s YouTube channel.

The 25-year-old also said that there is no point in having a conversation about knowing the depth of women’s cricket in India without any competition like IPL. “We can’t always have the conversation like is there any depth or no. We have never had a competition in women’s cricket which is like six teams in a T20 tournament. So, we don’t know if we have or no. How can we just judge and say we don’t have?”

She reiterated her idea of having five or six teams in women’s IPL so that women cricketers in India get exposure. “Five-six teams, we are good to go with. But eight teams, I am still not sure how it will look like. But I think we really need to start with five or six teams so that we can actually get to eight teams very soon. I think till we don’t start; we are not giving exposure to our girls to turn their cricket into a really different level.”

Smriti concluded by giving an example of Australia. “I played in Big Bash four years back and now the quality is very different. You can see in Australia where they have 40-50 cricketers ready to play international cricket any day. So, I really want that to happen in Indian cricket. I think IPL will play a huge role in that.”

National

Laxman finally agrees to head NCA: Sources

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VVS-Laxman

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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It’s been happening for long; India don’t have mental strength: Gambhir

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After the crushing eight-wicket defeat against New Zealand, former India opener Gautam Gambhir has slammed the Virat-Kohli-led side, saying that they have the skills but lack the much-needed mental toughness to win big knockout games in ICC tournaments.

India have succumbed to pressure and lost two successive matches, against Pakistan and New Zealand, in the ongoing 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup.

According to Gambhir, the Indian team has the skills but they lack the mental strength to win important games in ICC events.

“Yes talent is one thing; you’ve got all the skills and do really well in bilaterals and stuff. But when it comes to these kinds of games and tournaments, this is when you have got to stand up and perform,” said Gambhir on ESPNCricinfo.

”This game was literally like a quarterfinal. The problem is with the mental toughness of the side. Suddenly when you know you have got to win the game and can’t make mistakes, in bilaterals it’s different because you can make mistakes there. But in these kinds of games, I don’t think India has got that mental strength,” he added.

The former opener, who is often remembered for his two match-winning knocks for India in the finals of the 2007 T20 World Cup and 50-over mega-event in 2011, felt that someone should have put his hand up when it mattered most for the team.

“They have the skill and are a very dangerous side. But, unfortunately, we can keep talking about it that we need to stand by our team when it’s not doing well but it’s been a trend and it’s been happening for a very long time in most of these ICC tournaments, whether it’s the semifinals or the game (against New Zealand on October 31) as well. When it mattered the most for someone to put his hand up, they just couldn’t,” said Gambhir.

Meanwhile, Gambhir’s opening partner Virender Sehwag mentioned that India’s body language wasn’t great in the game against New Zealand and they need some serious introspection.

”Very disappointing from India. NZ were amazing. India’s body language wasn’t great, poor shot selection and like few times in the past, New Zealand have virtually ensured we won’t make it to the next stage. This one will hurt India and time for some serious introspection #IndvsNZ, ” Sehwag said in a tweet.

India have three matches remaining in the tournament and another loss will confirm their early exit from the competition. The Men in Blue will have to win their remaining matches by big margins to ensure their net run rate can be improved and they stand a chance at qualifying.

They will next face Afghanistan in their third match on November 3 in Abu Dhabi in the hope of turning their campaign around in the mega event.

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