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WTC final: Lack of match practice, past losses no worry, says Virat Kohli




Captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday dismissed views that New Zealand would have advantage over India in World Test Championship (WTC) final, saying that his team was not bothered by lack of Test match practice which their opponents would get in the two-Test series against host England.

The WTC final will be played from June 18-22 in Southampton.

“In the past, we have landed in places three days prior in proper schedule and have had a hell of a series. It is all in the head. It is not the first time we are playing in England. We all know what the conditions are like. We don’t have any issues with even if we have four practice sessions heading into the game,” he said.

The Indian squad, which departs for England early on Thursday morning, will also play a five-Test series against England in August-September, after the WTC final. Prior to the WTC final they will do quarantine with no match practice.

Kohli said it is important to take field in the right frame of mind and not be worried by conditions or experience.

“Even if you are used to conditions but don’t enter the field in right frame of mind, you are going to nick that first ball and find it tough to take wickets. We are absolutely sure what we can do as a team and we all have played in England before this as well. Everyone has had experience of playing in England,” he said.

Asked if the conditions will benefit New Zealand, where there is swing and seam and where India lost a Test series 0-2 in 2020, Kohli said the squad is boarding the flight knowing it is on equal terms with the Kiwis.

“Conditions are as potent for New Zealand as they are for us. Australian conditions should have favoured Australia but we beat them twice in two series. It is how you look at the situation,” he said.

“If you want us to board the flight from here feeling that New Zealand have the edge then there is no point in taking that flight. We are going to board that flight knowing that we are on equal terms and whichever team performs well session by session and hour by hour will win the Test,” he added.

Kohli said he wants to enjoy the WTC final and not take any pressure of past losses in crunch games of ICC tournaments in England.

“We don’t want to take pressure. If we start thinking about it (the losses in 2017 Champions Trophy final at The Oval and 2019 World Cup semi-final at Old Trafford), we won’t be able to perform. We want to enjoy the final without any pressure.”


Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw meets Mirabai Chanu, announces Rs 2 cr reward




Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Monday met Indian Railways weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, and announced a cash reward of Rs 2 crore for her.

In a tweet, the Railway Ministry said: “Hon’ble MR, Sh. @AshwiniVaishnaw felicitates Olympic silver medallist & Indian Railways’ weightlifter, Ms. @mirabai_chanu

“Hon’ble MR announces cash award of Rs 2Cr and promotion for her splendid performance at #TokyoOlympics2020. #Cheer4India”.

Chanu met Vaishnaw at the Railway Ministry here.

Chanu, who won the silver medal in the 49kg category on Saturday to open India’s medals tally at the Olympic Games, arrived back home on Monday to a rousing reception with chants of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.

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Worked with coaches, Jayant Yadav to return to form: Yuzvendra Chahal




India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who on Sunday night kept the Sri Lankan innings in check in the middle-overs, has kept his place in the Indian team intact even as Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav, with whom he had helped India win matches in the past, has faded away.

The 31-year-old, who took one for 19 in four overs, has however not been in the best of form in recent times for India but was happy as he managed to do the job he was known for — control the opposition in middle overs.

“My job is to control the middle-overs and I was very happy I did that and I just backed myself. There has been nothing on my mind. I back myself to control middle overs. That is all,” said Chahal to the media during a virtual interaction on Sunday night.

Chahal said that the emergence of spin bowling options doesn’t worry him as India finalise their final squad for the T20 World Cup. India are carrying as many as six spinners to Sri Lanka. One of those, Varun Chakravarthy, made his international debut on Sunday.

“If the bench strength is so good, and you have a strong players’ pool, the quality comes. If you talk of spinners, they are all doing good and you know you have players behind you who are already ready, having performed in IPL and here,” added Chahal.

“My focus is on my performance. Whenever I play, I should perform. If you perform, then only you play. If you don’t perform, whoever it is, you can’t stay in the team. So I mostly don’t think [about competition]. Whatever is in my mind — my goal — I focus on that only,” he said further.

The leggie’s performance dipped in the time leading up to lockdown even though he has been a regular member of the squad.

The way he mesmerised the South Africans during the 2018 tour of that country was past.

“When it was lockdown, I talked to coaches. I didn’t have to focus on much. I just had to focus on line, whether I have to go wider or bowl stump-to-stump, so I sat with [Bharat] Arun sir, Paras [Mhambrey] sir. What am I missing? Then I backed myself,” he added.

“I practiced with Jayant Yadav, we have known each other since childhood, so I spoke to him too. I bowled to him as well. So things started from there. The more I am confident in bowling, the better I will be able to bowl.”

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Olympics: Saurabh Chaudhary flatters to deceive, finishes 7th in 10m air pistol




There was heartbreak for Indian 10m air pistol shooter Saurabh Chaudhary , who despite emerging on top in the qualification round earlier on Saturday, finished seventh as the country suffered its biggest setback in the shooting arena on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Chaudhary, who had given enough indication that he was in great form to finish on the podium when he shot 586 to go into the finals as the leader, was the second shooter to be eliminated from among the eight finalists, finishing seventh.

Chaudhary got things rolling with a 10.1 in the finals, but he finished at the bottom of the pile after the first five shots with a score of 47.7. After 10 shots, the Meerut-born marksman had moved to seventh and was only 0.3 points behind sixth-placed Christian Reitz of Germany.

Tied at 107.0 after the first elimination shot, Chaudhary managed to stay on with 117.2 points, even as South Korea’s Korea’s Kim Mose was the first to get eliminated (115.8 points).

Before the next shot, China’s Zhang Bowen had a 0.3 point deficit, but walking into the deciding shot Saurabh registered a poor 9.6 to Zhang’s 10.2 and became the second marksman in the finals to get eliminated.

Earlier, the Indian ace had come up with superb marksmanship, topping the qualification round.

The Meerut boy shot 586 to be tied with Chinese Bowen Zhang after qualification, but as the Indian had more ‘inner 10s’ (27) to his name, he took the first spot going into the finals.

The other Indian in the fray, Abhishek Verma, was in the reckoning for a place in the finals. But he shot two 9s followed by two 8s in his last four shots, which meant that he finished 17th with a score of 575.

The 19-year-old Chaudhary started off with five shots of 10, leading the competition early. But it was followed by five shots of nine to end the first series with 95. In the second and third series, he had scores of 98 each.

The fourth series was stellar for him, getting perfect 10s in all the ten shots.

Chaudhary had 43 shots of 10s till shooting a nine on the second-last shot of the fifth series, ending with 98. In the final series, he started off with six 10s followed by three 9s and ending with a 10.

The 31-year-old Verma had an iffy start with 94 in the first series. He was able to overcome it by shooting 96 and 98 in the second and third series respectively. A 97 in the fourth series and 98 in five propelled him to reach inside the top-eight.

Verma looked set to join Chaudhary in the finals till the final series, but the meltdown in the final four shots caused the former’s downfall.

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