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Women’s T20 Challenge: Velocity qualify for final despite 16-run loss against Trailblazers

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Velocity qualified for the final of the Women’s T20 Challenge despite losing by 16 runs against defending champions Trailblazers in their second match of the tournament due to a better run rate, here on Thursday.

Chasing a target of 191 runs for victory, but Velocity were restricted to 174 for nine in 20 overs. Velocity will now face Supernovas in the final on Saturday.

Trailblazers (-0.825), Supernovas (+0.912) and Velocity (-0.022) ended with two points each but the top two teams made it to the final as they had better net run-rate than the defending champions.

Put into bat first, Sabbhineni Meghana and Jemimah Rodrigues slammed scintillating fifties to propel Trailblazers to 190-5 in 20 overs. Sabbhineni top-scored with 73 off 47 balls, while Jemimah made a 44-ball 66. On the other hand, Simran Bahadur (2/32) was the most successful bowler for Velocity.

The Trailblazers needed to restrict Velocity to 159 to become the second team to qualify for the final and they eventually did it. However, it was not easy for them as Kiran Prabhu Navgire played a sensational knock.

Batting at No 3, Navgire top-scored for Velocity with a 34-ball 69 but it was not enough to win the game for her side. Poonam Yadav (2/33) and Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/44) picked up two wickets apiece for Trailblazers.

Brief scores: Trailblazers 190/5 (S Meghana 73, Jemimah Rodrigues 66; Simran Bahadur 2-31) beat Velocity 174/9 (Kiran Navgire 69, Shafali Verma 29; Poonam Yadav 2-33) by 16 runs

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International

ENG v IND, 5th Test: Stokes finishes with four-fer as India are bowled out for 245; set England a target of 378

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Captain Ben Stokes took a four-wicket haul as England bowled out India for 245 in 81.5 overs in their second innings of the rescheduled fifth Test at Edgbaston on Monday. It also means that the visitors have set a target of 378 for England on a pitch with variable bounce for pacers and some turn for spinners.

If England are to square the series, currently led by India 2-1, they will have to attempt their highest successful chase ever in Test cricket and at this venue as well. Post lunch, Stokes, who had taken out Virat Kohli on Sunday, bounced out Mohammed Shami, having him caught at deep backward square-leg.

Ravindra Jadeja never got going and Stokes ended his stay by getting one to jag in sharply and force the left-hander to chop on his stumps. India skipper Jasprit Bumrah pulled him for a huge six-over fine leg. But Stokes had the last laugh on the very next ball as Bumrah went for the same shot, only to hole out to fine leg, with Stokes ending with 4-33 in 11.5 overs.

Earlier, Rishabh Pant followed up his 146 in the first innings with 57 while Cheteshwar Pujara notched up 66 in the second innings. Pujara began the day by hitting James Anderson for successive boundaries — a crunchy punch through cover was followed by a slick whip through mid-wicket.

Stuart Broad struck in his first over, with a short and wide outside off-stump ball which Pujara cut straight to backward point. Pant motored along, nailing a controlled short-arm jab through deep mid-wicket off Anderson while Shreyas Iyer, despite being troubled by short balls, hit three boundaries, including two beautiful cover drives off Matthew Potts.

Pant reached his fifty with a delicate flick through fine leg, becoming just the second Indian wicketkeeper after Farokh Engineer to get a century and fifty in the same Test. Iyer fell to the short ball yet again in the match, pulling straight to mid-wicket off Potts, giving Anderson his 100th catch in Test cricket.

Pant welcomed Jack Leach with a reverse sweep behind fine leg for a boundary despite falling on the ground. With the left-arm spinner getting some turn in from the rough, Pant tried to unsettle his line and length with another reverse sweep, but could only glove behind to first slip, falling for 57. He finished the match with 203 runs across both innings.

Potts then rattled Shardul Thakur with the short-ball ploy and variable bounce happening from the pitch, even striking him on side of the helmet once. In his next over, Thakur tried to take on the short ball with a pull but the top-edge flew to deep fine leg.

Jadeja had a reprieve when Anderson dropped his catch at cover while Shami struck a brace of boundaries to keep India on top before Stokes took out the remaining wickets post-lunch to give England a go at a record chase in their history of Test cricket.

Brief scores: India 416 and 245 in 81.5 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara 66, Rishabh Pant 57; Ben Stokes 4-33, Matthew Potts 2-50) lead England 284 by 378 runs

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National

Chennaiyin FC sign Ghanaian footballer Kwame Karikari for upcoming ISL season

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 Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC have bolstered their attack by signing forward Kwame Karikari ahead of the upcoming season.

The Ghanaian footballer will be joining the club following an impressive outing in the Thai League for Nakhonratchasima Mazda. He scored 13 goals in 29 league matches for the Thai club last season.

Karikari was also the joint second-highest goal scorer for Mazda in the Thai FA cup with four strikes in six games.

Karikari brings in valuable experience to Chennaiyin’s attack, having played 261 games in his 11-year long professional career with 84 goals and 13 assists to his name.

The striker has plied his trade for 12 clubs in eight top-tier leagues across the world.

He also has two Europa League goals to his name, which came against CSKA Moscow and PSV Eindhoven in 2012.

Talking about the club’s third foreign signing this summer, Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani said, “I would like to welcome Kwame Karikari to the Chennaiyin family. I think he’s got the technical ability and the physicality to succeed in India. We have had many great forwards at this club and I believe Kwame should be able to match those standards.”

Karikari has spent most of his time in the Swedish league, featuring for AIK Solna, with whom he made his professional debut at 19 in 2011. He played 58 matches, including seven Europa League games, for them and scored 10 goals across competitions in five seasons.

Halmstads and Degerfors were the other Swedish clubs Karikari turned out for.

“I am very happy to join Chennaiyin FC. I cannot wait to get started with the new team and I am really looking forward to this new and exciting challenge,” said Karikari, who also represented Ghana at the U-20 Africa Cup.

It was in 2015 when Karikari made a permanent move out of Sweden and joined Turkish side, Balikesirspor. He played 40 matches for them in two seasons, registering 12 goals and five assists. Later he turned out for clubs in countries like Norway, Qatar, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

He was part of Dinamo Tabilisi’s title-winning campaign in the 2018-19 Georgian league.

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National

Nadal says he is optimistic about competing at Wimbledon

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Spanish tennis stalwart Rafael Nadal has raised hopes that he will compete at this year’s Wimbledon, saying his left-foot injury is showing signs of improvement, and that he will head to the United Kingdom soon.

“I’m happy. I haven’t limped for a week and the evolution of training is progressing,” said the winner of 22 Grand Slams here.

“From day to day the pain has been different and that’s progress. I have to wait a little. My intention is to try and play Wimbledon and this week has told me there is a chance,” added the 36-year-old, who clinched his 14th title at Roland Garros recently.

Nadal plans to travel to London on Monday to prepare for the third Grand Slam of the year.

“I’ve had two treatment sessions, as was planned. At the moment the progress, as I see it, is satisfactory,” Nadal was quoted as saying by atptour.com

Nadal had spoken about the foot troubles after winning the French Open, saying he had to periodically take injections to soothe the nerves of his injured foot.

Nadal has been nursing a foot injury for a long time, which flares up occasionally and has caused him to miss several tournaments in the last couple of years.

Speaking about the condition of his foot post the French Open title triumph, Nadal had said, “I was able to play during these two weeks with extreme conditions. I have been playing with injections on the nerves to sleep the foot, and that’s why I was able to play during these two weeks. Because I have no feelings on my foot, because my doctor was able to put anaesthetic injections on the nerves. That takes out the feeling on my foot. But at the same time, it’s a big risk in terms of less feelings, a little bit bigger risk of turning your ankle.”

Soon there was speculation the Nadal might not compete at Wimbledon, but he expressed cautious optimism on Friday eveing, saying, “I’m prudent because I know that things change. At the moment, I’ve been able to train over these five days. That’s progress and it allows me to return to Wimbledon after three years. I’m excited about it. It’s a question of taking it day by day, but giving myself a chance to compete.”

The Spaniard has not graced the lawns of Wimbledon since 2019, when he reached the semifinals losing to Roger Federer. “I haven’t played on grass for three years, you have to be patient with the progress. Every day I’ve improved and there is one week left of training in London before starting the tournament. I hope I can use it to get competitive.

“It’s true that playing well at Roland Garros gives you confidence, but grass is a very difficult surface. Any round is complicated. The start of the tournament will be vital for me because, if you manage to progress, later the opponents are more difficult, but then you have more confidence because you’ve found your rhythm on grass,” he added.

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