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Australia to tour Bangladesh this year for T20I series: Report

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Melbourne [Australia], February 10 (ANI): Australia is likely to tour Bangladesh this year for a T20I series, intended to serve as preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup slated to be hosted by India.
This tour will be Australia’s first in Bangladesh since 2017. Earlier, the side was slated to go to Australia to play Tests as part of the World Test Championship, but now the plan has been changed, reported ESPNCricinfo.
According to the Future Tours Program (FTP), Bangladesh is also slated to host England for white-ball games ahead of the T20 World Cup, so this may mean that England-Bangladesh-Australia may very well play a triangular series.
As per a report in ESPNCricinfo, Cricket Australia and Bangladesh Cricket Board have been in talks regarding this brief tour.
Earlier this month, Australia’s three-match Test tour of South Africa was postponed due to an ‘unacceptable’ coronavirus risk. The Australian board had said that travelling from Australia to South Africa at this current time would have had an unacceptable level of health and safety risk to the visiting players.
As the series between Australia and South Africa got postponed, the ICC on Tuesday confirmed that New Zealand has now become the first team to qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC). India, Australia, and England are the other three teams that will be fighting it out to battle against the Kiwis in the summit clash.
Cricket Australia had also clarified that it would not be asking the ICC to delay the WTC final and as a result, the fate of Tim Paine’s side reaching the final depends on the upcoming four-match Test series between India and England.
Australia will next be seen in action in the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand. (ANI)

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Partnership with Maxwell allowed us to go deeper: Finch

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 3 (ANI): Australia skipper Aaron Finch feels his partnership with star batsman Glenn Maxwell laid the perfect foundation for the team to post a mammoth total in the third T20I against New Zealand.
Australia posted 208/4 from their 20 overs courtesy half-centuries from Finch and Maxwell, and a quickfire 43 from Josh Philippe helped the visitors end well. Finch and Maxwell’s partnership raced to 64 runs in just 5.5 overs before Ish Sodhi dismissed the Australian skipper.
While Finch returned to form, Ashton Agar stole the show as he picked six wickets to steer Australia to a victory the third T20I. The Australian skipper felt relaxed as he contributed to the victory and pointed out how the visitors gained an upper hand in the powerplay.
“Nice when you contribute to a win. I suppose that partnership with Maxi allowed us to go deeper. When you get wickets in the powerplay and having the rate at 10 and a half and 11 already, they had to take risks, you squeeze them and that was the difference tonight,” said Finch after the win.
In the second T20I, Australia had almost got over the line with Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams’ blistering knocks. Though Australia has fielded a young side against New Zealand, Finch feels that cannot be an excuse to justify the loss in the first two games.
“Everyone is bloody excited to see Riley. We knew that we weren’t too far off in the last game, we were pretty close in the first. We’re a young team but that’s not an excuse, we come here to win. To be 2-1 is…okay, we’re still alive,” said Finch.
The fourth T20I between both sides will be played on Friday. (ANI)

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Boxam International Tournament: Kaushik, Hussamuddin march into quarters

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New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): World Championship bronze medallist Manish Kaushik made an impressive comeback to the ring as he outpunched Spanish opponent Raddouane Ammari 5-0 on the opening day of the Boxam International Tournament to enter the quarter-finals in the 63kg light welterweight in Castellon, Spain.
Another Indian who was in action on Day 1, Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg) also made his way into the quarter-finals with a comfortable 4-1 scoreline against local boy Juan Manuel Torres.
The 25-year-old Haryana boxer — Manish — couldn’t compete in the ring since Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in March last year due to injuries and is making a return after more than a year’s break. He will take on two-time ASBC Asian Boxing Championships silver medallist Kazakhstan boxer Sufiullin Zakir in the last-8 round on Thursday while the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hussamuddin will face Italy’s Simone Spada. Zakir beat Abdelhaq Nadir of Morocco 3-1 in the preliminary round match.
The second day of the tournament will see six Indian women boxers Mary Kom (51kg), Jasmine and Manisha Moun (57kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg) competing in the quarter-finals.
A 14-member Indian contingent (eight men and six women) is taking part at the 35th edition of the tournament where boxers from 17 countries, including top boxing nations like Russia, USA, Italy, Kazakhstan and Spain, are participating. (ANI)

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Kapil Dev gets first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): World Cup-winning captain and former India all-rounder Kapil Dev on Wednesday received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Kapil, 62, took the vaccine at the Fortis Hospital Heart Institute under the supervision of his cardiologist Dr. Atul Mathur, Director of Cardiology.
Last year, the legendary cricketer was admitted to the hospital on October 23 after he complained of chest pain. He then underwent an angioplasty and was discharged two days later. Kapil continues to have his blood-thinning medication.
Kapil played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs for India. In the longest format of the game, the all-rounder amassed 5,248 runs and picked 434 wickets. Under his leadership, India won the 1983 World Cup after defeating West Indies in the final.
Madan Lal, who was an integral part of the World Cup-winning Indian team in 1983, received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
On the same day, current Team India head coach Ravi Shastri also took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Shastri, 58, got the vaccine at the Apollo Hospital in Ahmedabad.
The second phase of Covid-19 vaccination — for those above 60 years of age, and people between 45 and 59 years of age with specific comorbidities — began on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with other political leaders, got vaccinated on the first day.
Shastri is currently with the Indian cricket team participating in a four-match Test series against England. Virat Kohli’s men are 2-1 up in the series, having won the third Test, played with the pink ball, by 10 wickets, at the Narendra Modi Stadium last week. The fourth and final Test of the series is slated to begin on Thursday.
India require only a draw in the fourth game in order to seal their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final. (ANI)

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Swiss Open: Srikanth beats Sameer Verma to get off to winning start

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Basel [Switzerland], March 3 (ANI): Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth defeated compatriot Sameer Verma in the first round of the ongoing Swiss Open here on Wednesday. Srikanth secured an 18-21, 21-18, 21-11 win over Verma to progress to the next round of the tournament.
In the first game, Sameer played really well and took a 5-1 lead over Srikanth. Sameer maintained his lead throughout the game, winning the set 21-18.
Kidambi shifted gear after losing the first game and went on to win the next two games. While Sameer gave tough competition to Srikanth in the second game, the latter completely dominated the third game. The match lasted for 61 minutes.
On Tuesday, Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa started their campaign on a high as they outclassed second-seeded Indonesian pair of Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in the first round of the Swiss Open.
Rankiredddy and Ponnappa defeated the World No. 8 pair in straight games 21-18, 21-10 in the encounter that lasted for 38 minutes. The first game saw a high competition between both sides but the Indian pair stood up strong in the closing stages of the set to claim the game 21-18.
It was one-way in the second game as Rankireddy and Ponnappa did not give any chance to the Indonesian pair to make comeback in the match. However, Indian mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy were ousted on Tuesday by third-seeded pair of Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith of England 21-18, 21-15 in 39 minutes. (ANI)

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Agar scalps six as Australia thrash New Zealand in 3rd T20I

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 3 (ANI): Skipper Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell smashed half centuries before Ashton Agar spun a web over the Kiwi batsmen to steer Australia to a 64-run win over New Zealand in the third T20I on Wednesday.
New Zealand was 109/3 at one stage, but Agar wreaked havoc and picked six wickets to bundle out the hosts for 144. Agar turned the game in Australia’s favour with three wickets in the 13th over. New Zealand now lead the five-match series 2-1.
For James Neesham it was an unforgettable night as he not only went wicketless, but also leaked runs at an economy rate of 15. The all-rounder was also dismissed for a golden duck despite coming in the game on the back of a stellar performance in the second T20I.
Chasing a mammoth 209, New Zealand got off to a bad start as they lost opener Tim Seifert in the second over. Debutant Riley Meredith conceded a six and a four in his first over, but took a wicket off the last ball.
Martin Guptill continued from where he left the other night but Meredith again stole the show when he dismissed skipper Kane Williamson in his second over.
However, New Zealand seemed well on track as the hosts ended the powerplay with 59 runs on board. In the ninth over, Adam Zampa got the wicket of the dangerous Guptill.
Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips then played risk-free cricket to ensure the hosts didn’t suffer any more hiccups during the chase. Just when their partnership started flourishing, Agar put Australia in control by dismissing both batsmen in the same over.
The left-arm spinner then dismissed Neesham for a golden duck to end New Zealand’s hopes of winning the game. Agar kept accounting for wickets to record best figures as New Zealand folded for 144.
Earlier, Australia had posted 208/4 from their 20 overs courtesy half-centuries from Finch and Maxwell, and a quickfire 43 from Josh Philippe
If Maxwell smashed 28 runs off a Neesham over, it was a welcome return to form for skipper Finch as had faced the wrath of former cricketers in the last few weeks.
Brief Scores: Australia 208/4 (Glenn Maxwell 70, Aaron Finch 69; Ish Sodhi 2-32); New Zealand 144 (Martin Guptill 43, Devon Conway 38; Ashton Agar 6-30) (ANI)

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For teams like us, it is just a distraction when you start thinking of WTC: Kohli

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 3 (ANI): Ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series against England, India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday said the World Test Championship (WTC) is a distraction for them as the team is already motivated enough to play Test cricket or any form of the game.
The fourth Test is decisive for the hosts as it would take them to the WTC final. India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the third Test and took the 2-1 lead in the series.
India only need to draw the final Test against Joe Root’s men in order to seal a spot in the WTC final. Axar, playing in just his second Test, scalped 11 wickets in the day-night Test to spin a web over the Englishmen.
“To be brutally honest it (WTC) might work for teams that are not motivated enough to play Test cricket. Teams like us who are motivated to play Test cricket and want to win Test matches and keep the Indian cricket team at the top of the world in Test cricket we have no issues whatsoever whether it is WTC or not,” Kohli said in a virtual press conference.
“I think for teams like us, it is just a distraction when you start thinking of WTC. Eventually, it is only a game of cricket. World Cup final, semifinal anything you take it is the game of cricket at the end of the day. And if you are not motivated to play a normal game of cricket and extra motivated to play a game of cricket which has some incentive to it for me, as an individual that is unacceptable. We as a team have never played with that mindset. For us any game is important, we are going to go for result whenever an opportunity presents itself that’s why people want to watch us as a team now,” he added.
When asked if spinner Kuldeep Yadav has fallen down in the pecking order, the skipper replied: “There is no issue with skill, there is no issue with headspace. His game is absolutely precise, bowling better than he has ever bowled before. We need to make sure that we cover all facets of the game, we have our strongest balanced squad on the park. See if Jadeja is playing and you are talking about the third spinner then Kuldeep comes into the picture way more because of Jadeja’s experience with the bat and the number of times he has done the job for the team. Right now, we are going in with Ashwin. Washi is playing, Axar is playing. Washi has scored few runs so yes they can contribute with the bat, but it is not same experience as Jadeja.
“So, the combination becomes very different when Jadeja comes. You can play Kuldeep who is primarily a wrist spinning bowler but it’s all about the combinations. He will always be in consideration to play whatever game is in front of us purely because of his skill with the ball,” he added.
The fourth Test of the series will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium from Thursday. (ANI)

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