Melbourne [Australia], February 11 (ANI): India’s tennis players Divij Sharan and Ankita Raina crashed out of the Australian Open after losing their first-round clashes in the men’s and women’s doubles respectively on Thursday.
Ankita Raina with her Romanian partner Mihaela Buzarnescu lost 3-6 0-6 in just one hour and 17 minutes at the hands of the Australian wild card pair of Olivia Gadecki and Belinda Woolcock.
While in the men’s doubles category, Divij Sharan with his Slovakian partner Igor Zelenay lost 1-6 4-6 against the German pair of Yannick Hanfmann Kevin Krawietz in the first round match that lasted one hour and four minutes.
On Wednesday, Rohan Bopanna and his Japanese partner Ben McLachlan crashed out of the Australian Open after losing to the South Korean pair of Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song in their first-round men’s doubles clash.
The wild card entrants to the competition won the match 4-6 6-7(0) in one hour and 17 minutes.
On Tuesday, Sumit Nagal bowed out of the tournament after losing a first-round clash. Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis defeated Nagal 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 and ended Nagal’s hopes of progressing ahead in the Grand Slam. (ANI)
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Chhetri, Thapa part of probables named for friendlies against Oman, UAE
New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Indian men’s football coach Igor Stimac on Tuesday named 10 new faces in the 35-member list of probables for the forthcoming back-to-back international friendlies against Oman and UAE, which will be held in Dubai on March 25 and 29 respectively.
The final list of 28 players will be announced after the Indian Super League (ISL) final, which is slated to take place on March 13. The Blue Tigers will assemble in a preparatory camp in Dubai from March 15 onwards.
“We have kept 35 players in the list as a cushion in case any player picks up an injury during the HISL playoffs,” head coach Igor Stimac said.
Speaking about the new faces, Stimac said: “It’s been a difficult year for all of us and finally, we are all getting together. It will be great to meet some new young guns and to check how bright our future is with them. The two matches against Oman and UAE mean a lot to Indian football. It’s been a while since we last played and this is a great opportunity to check where we stand at the moment.
“I know the season was a tough one and players might be overloaded. But, we have enough time to refresh their legs and brains. However, many of them will have a break of two weeks without any organised training sessions prior to joining the camp. Hopefully, they will execute their individual working plans,” he added.
The coach also mentioned that Brandon Fernandes, Rahul Bheke, Sahal Abdul Samad, and Asish Rai do not feature in the list as they are nursing injuries at the moment.
The Blue Tigers last played at the international level in November 2019 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
The 35-member list of probables is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Dheeraj Singh, Vishal Kaith.
Defenders: Seriton Fernandes, Ashutosh Mehta, Akash Mishra, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Sarthak Golui, Adil Khan, Mandar Rao Dessai, Prabir Das, Mashoor Shereef.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Rowllin Borges, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Raynier Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Bipin Singh, Yasir Mohammad, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Halicharan Narzary, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Rahul KP, Hitesh Sharma, Farukh Choudhary.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Ishan Pandita. (ANI)
New Zealand head coach hopeful of Ferguson return for Bangladesh T20Is
Wellington [New Zealand], March 2 (ANI): New Zealand head coach Gary Stead is hopeful that right-arm fast bowler Lockie Ferguson would be available for the upcoming three-match T20I series against Bangladesh.
Ferguson has been out of action since December last year, when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture following the T20I series against West Indies.
During the series against Windies, Ferguson had claimed his career-best figures of 5 for 21.
“At this stage, he (Ferguson) will meet up with the team around the time of the one-day series to put finishes touches on things and make sure the intensity is where we want it to be then if all goes well he’ll be available for the Bangladesh T20 series,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Stead as saying.
“You never know how people react to it [the injury], but in Lockie’s advantage, he’s strong, he’s fit and he works very hard at that S and C [strength and conditioning] area. Hopefully, all those things will have helped him in a quick recovery,” he added.
New Zealand is currently involved in a five-match T20I series against Australia which ends on March 7.
After that, the Black Caps will first play three ODIs against Bangladesh [from March 20 to 26] and then three T20Is from March 28 to April 1. (ANI)
‘Intelligent ‘Ashwin always reinventing himself, says Laxman
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 2 (ANI): Former India batsman VVS Laxman has praised Ravichandran Ashwin, saying the seasoned off-spinner is reinventing himself and is always looking to improve.
Ashwin had gone past the 400 wickets milestone in the third Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium which India won by 10 wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series. Courtesy his performance, Ashwin is now ranked number three in the ICC Test bowler rankings.
“I think he (Ashwin) is a very intelligent person. When you are playing at the highest level, then it’s not only about your skill, it’s about your preparation, your planning and execution is so critical. So, he works out what are the weaknesses of the batsman. He plans those dismissals and that’s why I think he is reinventing himself,” Laxman said while speaking on Star Sports’ show ‘Cricket Connected’.
“We saw recently in the Australia series how he troubled, someone as great as Steve Smith, and that’s another thing that makes Ashwin or any champion player special, that he wants to be the best and compete against the best,” he added.
Ashwin was a standout performer in India’s remarkable 2-1 Test series win over Australia and his resilience was on show in the third Test in Sydney where he battled it out alongside Hanuma Vihari to help India walk away with a famous draw.
“78 Test matches for 400 Test wicket. Let the naysayers be! He’s been absolutely phenomenal with the craft that he has displayed over a period of time and as he’s growing as a bowler he’s picking a lot of wickets. So, that question mark is also getting answered quite nicely,” said former India batsman Aakash Chopra while praising Ashwin.
“I feel that he’s an absolute rockstar. He’s one of the biggest match-winner, that India has ever produced. Of course, Anil Kumble will still remain at number one,” he added.
Earlier, when Ashwin was asked about possibly going past Kumble’s tally of 619 wickets, the 34-year-old said that he just wants to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead.
“I stopped thinking about all the landmarks a long time ago. It has been about how I can get better and what more I can offer to the team. I am looking to get better as an individual and cricketer every single day. I am not looking forward to what lies ahead and probably this is the reason why I am really enjoying my game right now. I would like to be in this space,” said Ashwin during a virtual press conference last Saturday.
India currently has a 2-1 lead in the ongoing four-match series against England and if the hosts manage to win or draw the final Test, they would secure their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) where they will be facing New Zealand at the Lord’s, London from June 18-22. (ANI)
Ravi Shastri gets first dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Ahmedabad, [India], March 2 (ANI): Team India head coach Ravi Shastri on Tuesday morning received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Shastri, 58, got the jab at the Apollo Hospital here.
“Got the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you to the amazing medical professionals & scientists for empowering India against the pandemic,” Shastri tweeted along with a picture of him receiving the jab.
“Extremely impressed with the professionalism shown by Kantaben & her team at Apollo, Ahmedabad in dealing with COVID-19 vaccination,” he added.
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 here last week.
The fourth and final Test of the series is slated to begin on Thursday.
India require only a draw in that game in order to seal their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final, scheduled to be played at the Lord’s, London from June 18-22. New Zealand have already secured their spot in the WTC final. (ANI)
Premier League: Would be a dream to finish in top four, says Everton’s Ancelotti
London [UK], March 2 (ANI): Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that his club is dreaming of a finish in the top four of the Premier League 2020-21 standings.
Everton defeated Southampton on Monday after Richarlison got on the scoring sheets and as a result, the side is now just two points of the top-four with a game in hand.
If Everton manages to finish in the top four, then the club will attain qualification for the Champions League.
“We have a great opportunity to be in the top four and we would like to touch that position. We have to put all our effort into the game on Thursday to try to be there, it is a real possibility,” Ancelotti told Everton’s official website.
“It doesn’t matter how long we can be there, but just to see how we feel if we are there. There will be a big fight until the end of the season and we have to be pleased we can fight for that position. It will be a dream to be in the top four, we are quite close… but the season is long,” he added.
Everton has won eight of their 12 games away from home. However, of 13 games played at their home turf, the side has won five and lost six.
“To fight for the European places, we need to improve the home. It was not good and this performance and victory can help us have a better run at home,” said Ancelotti.
Everton is currently at the seventh spot with 43 points from 25 matches. The club will next take on West Brom on Thursday. (ANI)
NZ vs Aus: Crowd to be allowed for fifth T20I if Wellington’s alert level status is relaxed
Wellington [New Zealand], March 2 (ANI): New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Tuesday announced that the order of Sunday’s T20I double-header at Wellington’s Sky Stadium has been reversed.
As a result, New Zealand’s men’s team will be taking on Australia in the early game and New Zealand’s women’s team (White Ferns) will be squaring off against England later in the afternoon.
“The decision follows discussions between New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia and will allow the Australia squad to catch a charter flight home immediately after the game – and avoid having to transit through Auckland,” NZC said in an official statement.
“Should Wellington’s Alert Level status be relaxed ahead of Sunday’s doubleheader, a crowd will be allowed inside the venue,” it added.
On Monday, NZC had announced that the final T20I of the five-match series between New Zealand and Australia has been shifted to Wellington from Bay Oval.
The final T20I of the three-match series between New Zealand women (White Ferns) and England women will also be played in Wellington.
Earlier, it was confirmed that the upcoming third and fourth T20Is between New Zealand and Australia will be played behind closed doors. The first and second T20I between New Zealand Women (White Ferns) and England Women will also be played behind closed doors following the change to New Zealand’s alert levels with an eye on the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would return to level 3 for seven days. As a result, no sport can be held at level 3, reported stuff.co.nz.
The fourth T20I between New Zealand-Australia and White Ferns-England was to be played in Auckland, but as per the new guidelines, the matches were relocated to Wellington.
The rest of the country has moved to alert level 2 and the restrictions will last for a period of seven days. While announcing the new restrictions, Ardern said that the lockdown was needed due to there being no immediate transmission link between the new mystery case and the latest Auckland cluster. (ANI)
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