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Will try to frustrate Williamson with dot balls: Mohammed Siraj

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India pace bowler Mohammed Siraj on Tuesday said he will try to frustrate New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson with dot balls if given an opportunity to play World Test Championship (WTC) final which begins on June 18 in Southampton.

“I will try to bowl in a particular spot tirelessly. I will focus on bowling dots against Kane Williamson, the best batsman in New Zealand line-up, to create pressure on him. It will provoke him to go for shots and there will be a high chance of getting him out,” said Siraj a day before the India squad departs for England.

The right-arm pace bowler, who made an impact on India’s tour of Australia and played a key role in helping the injury-stricken team win the Test series 2-1, said he will try to draw batsmen on to the front-foot in England since the pitches there are different from those in Australia.

“Australian pitches offer more bounce and pace. I used to bowl back of good length there. But in England, there will be more swing. So I will try to make the batsmen play on front-foot,” Siraj told ABP News.

The 27-year-old pace bowler from Hyderabad said that New Zealand will get acclimatised to conditions more than India since they play two Test matches against England before the WTC final. The first of the two Tests begins at Lord’s on Wednesday.

“We are going through quarantine these days before we leave for England. We had no cricket after IPL got postponed. But New Zealand will play a Test series against England and they have reached there much before us. So they will not only be among matches, they will also get more time to adjust to English conditions.”

The right-arm pacer added that top-flight cricket has helped him overcome nervousness.

“I won’t say it is technical changes. It is entirely psychological changes which came into me. Previously, I used to be nervous on the field. But I have overcome that,” he added.

“I work hard on my fitness. I spend time at the gym, training hard. Becoming flexible is the key to success for any pacer and I have achieved it through training.”

Apart from WTC final, India will also play five Test matches against England in August-September during the tour.

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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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