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Will work hard for Tokyo Olympics 2020: Rani Rampal




The Indian women’s hockey team has confirmed a place in the Tokyo Olympics after surviving an extraordinary fightback from the US in the second leg of their Olympic qualifier at the Kalinga stadium even as an elated skipper Rani Rampal on Sunday credited her team members, coaches and support staff for the achievement.

In their game against the US, the opponents fought back from a 5-1 deficit in the first leg to level the score 5-5 in the first half. However, India put up an improved performance in the second half with skipper Rani Rampal scoring what turned out to be the winning goal in the 49th minute on Saturday.

Taking to Twitter, the India skipper also said her team will give their best in the preparations for the mega event in Tokyo next year.

“With a collective effort of our team members, coaches & support staff we have qualified for Tokyo Olympics but we will work hard for next 8 months to perform our best in Tokyo 2020,” she tweeted on Sunday.

The skipper also thanked the Union Sports Minister and the national federation for showing faith in her team.

“Thanks to Hockey India, Kiren Rijiju Sir, Sports Authority of India (SAI), friends, family and fans for believing in us,” she added.


Good competition to bowl to Shafali: England spinner Sophie Ecclestone




England left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone feels that bowling to India’s prolific run-getter Shafali Verma is an interesting challenge as one “never knows what’s going to happen”.

Replying to England women’s first innings total of 396/9 declared, Shafali’s 96 in the first innings and an unbeaten 55 in the second innings have been the talking point in the home team’s dressing room.

The young batter could decide whether India save the match or go on to lose the one-off Test here.

“It’s always interesting when me and Shafali match up in whatever format of the game it is. When it comes to T20, I think she’s really highly rated so it’s really interesting to bowl at her,” said Sophie, who took four first-innings wickets, after the third day’s play.

“You just never know what’s going to happen with her (Shafali), you never know if you’re going to get whacked over the top or she’s going to miss one, so it’s really interesting to bowl to her and it’s quite a good competition for me,” the 22-year-old spinner, who is the No. 1-ranked T20I bowler in the world, told

Sophie said that when she is bowling to Shafali, the only thing going on in her mind is to bowl “my best ball” and “win the battle”.

“I think just bowl my best ball and vary my pace so when I come into a Test match it’s like trying to bowl my best ball for longer but when Shafali’s batting I think it’s try and use my arm ball a few times and vary my pace, so just change it up a little bit.

“When Shafali’s batting I always want to win the battle, definitely I don’t want her getting one up on me. I always look forward to the competition of playing against her so yeah, I’m always trying to get her out first before she hits me for any sixes.”

Shafali’s wicket has so far eluded Sophie in the Test, as the Indian was caught by Anya Shrubsole off the bowling of medium pacer Kathryn Cross in the first innings.

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Aussie players will find it hard to justify going back to IPL: Aaron Finch




Australia’s white-ball skipper Aaron Finch has expressed his “surprise” at so many players pulling out of the tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh and said that “they would find it hard to justify going back and playing the second half of the Indian Premier League (IPL)”.

Seven Australian cricket stars, including Pat Cummins, Steve Smith and David Warner, pulled out of their national team’s upcoming limited-overs tours of the two countries as Cricket Australia (CA) recently announced an 18-member squad.

Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Warner, Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson have confirmed their withdrawal from the upcoming tours following which CA head selector Trevor Hohns said that he was “naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team”.

While resting Warner and Cummins was part of CA’s strategy and Smith is nursing an elbow injury, the withdrawal of others has not gone down well with Finch.

“This is only my personal opinion, I think they would find it hard to justify going back and playing that second half of the IPL purely based on the workload coming up with a T20 World Cup then a huge home summer,” Finch told former wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist on SEN WA.

The suspended IPL will likely be completed between September 18 and October 10 in Abu Dhabi, while the T20 World Cup is scheduled between October 18 and November 15.

“It’s a tough situation everyone has been put in but personally I’d find it hard to do that knowing how challenging it is mentally and on your family.”

“Pat Cummins and David Warner, that was a long-term plan for them that they weren’t going to go on this tour from the outset. Having a big summer last year followed by IPL with a T20 World Cup and a view to the Ashes, guys who are playing three formats of the game, it can be so brutal on them travelling and playing in bubbles.

“I was a little bit surprised (with the others). I’ve chatted to them all. A little bit surprised but also understandable. I know from my own point of view having gone to the UK then all the way through the home summer, I know towards the end of that year I was absolutely cooked mentally. Almost when the season finished it’s a great relief so I can understand, but wish they were there,” opined Finch.

The Australian team will leave for West Indies on June 28 to play five T20Is and three ODIs. They will ten head to Bangladesh for five T20Is between August 2 and 10.

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ICC to partner UNICEF in fundraiser for Covid relief




The International Cricket Council (ICC), through its ‘Cricket for Good initiative’, has launched a fundraising campaign to support UNICEF’s emergency Covid-19 response in South Asia.

The campaign was launched ahead of the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final being played between India and New Zealand in Southampton from Friday.

The world cricket governing body said in a statement that, “ICC’s support to UNICEF at this critical time will harness the power and reach of cricket, one of the world’s most popular sports, to safeguard the lives and futures of children.

“As part of the campaign, ICC will leverage its audience base on its digital channels to contribute to UNICEF. ICC with UNICEF shall display joint appeals on its digital platforms, LED perimeter boards and replay screens at the venue, for its broadcast audiences to donate directly to UNICEF’s donation platform.”

In-game commentary will also reach out to audiences for their support.

Acting ICC CEO Geoff Allardice said, “By partnering with UNICEF to support their Covid-19 relief work, we can use the global platform provided by the inaugural World Test Championship Final to raise urgent funds that can make a real difference. We appeal to cricket fans around the world to come together to show their support for the work of UNICEF at such a difficult time and donate to such a worthwhile cause.”

In addition, ICC along with Tech Mahindra, the merchandise partner for the WTC Final, have launched a Covid-19 relief range and 10 per cent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF’s relief work in South Asia.

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