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Clash of titans on cards today as Rohit’s MI meet Kohli’s RCB

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The 10th match of the Indian Premier League 2020 will be a truly clash of titans as two of the best cricketerscum-captains of modern day cricket, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, will be face to face to showcase their supremacy. 

From the leadership prospective in the IPL history, the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians (MI) have dominated against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), having won 16 out of 25 games. Likewise, MI have won IPL title four times, while RCB haven’t won the coveted trophy yet. Rohit also led side from the front against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and scored a brilliant 54-ball 80 and powered his side to a massive 195/5. 

On the other hand, Kohli’s bat is yet to fire, making only 15 runs so far. Kohli would not just eye a win against MI, but will also try to rectify the errors made by him with the bat as RCB heavily relies on him while chasing or setting up a total. Meanwhile, A.B. de Villers, the other vital cog in RCB, too will aim to get some runs under his belt. The focus will also be on young Devdutt Padikkal, who began his IPL career with a brilliant half-century but tasted failure against KXIP. 

The 20-year-old player will surely aim to be consistent. The RCB team management will once again hope the young opener would provide a flying start against one of the best team in business. It won’t be an easy task for Padikkal with MI’s armory boasting of bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, James Pattinson, and Trent Boult. Padikkal opening partner is once again likely to be destructive batter Aaron Finch as the team management won’t like to tinker much with their combina- tion. Finch would try to convert starts into massive totals while de Villers is expected to come up with fireworks in the middle-order as Shivam Dube and Josh Philippe have failed to fire so far. Philippe’s batting position will be another concern for the RCB skipper and team management.

 In their bowling department, RCB pos- sess lethal South African pacer Dale Steyn and Umesh Ya- dav. However, the duo has been expensive until now and the same is the condition of Navdeep Saini. Chahal, who came with breakthroughs in both games, will once again share most of the spin workload. As for MI, they were clinical in all the departments of the game against KKR and will once again aim to keep the momentum going. Their top-order, comprising Rohit, de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav, are in great form but the MI team management will be concerned about Saurabh Tiwary, who failed to do much against KKR. Hardik Pandya and Keiron Pollard are once again expected to come with fireworks down the order and the duo is expected to equally share the bowling workload. The spin attack will rely on leggie Rahul Chahar, who hasn’t played his part to perfection so far. 

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Virat Kohli is capable enough to find his way against Kiwis, says Sachin Tendulkar

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DUBAI: India will face New Zealand in the final of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship from Friday and legend Sachin Tendulkar is thrilled to see Virat Kohli and boys playing for ultimate glory.

Speaking to ANI, Tendulkar revealed that for him, it was the series win in Australia which was testimony to the fighting spirit of this Indian unit. He also threw light on how he expects Rohit Sharma to start cautiously before pressing on the accelerator and how he is confident of skipper Kohli taking the Kiwi bowlers by surprise. “I am thrilled. This is the World Test Championship and to be able to get there in the top two, speaks volumes about how the team has performed. It is simply outstanding and the icing on the cake has to be the Australian trip. There were so many injuries, there were like 10-11 players missing on that tour and in spite of that we were able to deliver the knockout punch which was incredible,” he smiled.

Skipper Kohli will once again hold the fort in the middle-order and it is no secret that it was Tendulkar who helped Kohli adjust his game after a torrid tour of England in 2014.

Asked if he still sees slight issues outside the off in the fourth or fifth wicket region? Tendulkar doesn’t and said it was an area that bothers almost all batsmen.

“I think outside the off-stump or whatever that is, all batters get out from there. So, I won’t look at whatever shot he is playing. What is the percentage that Kohli is getting the shots right and how many times he has been dismissed? If we compare that, then the player has to assess and plan that these are the areas I need to tighten up. But I wouldn’t worry too much about all those things, it has been fine, to be honest.

Asked if Kohli can do a Tendulkar and cut out the drive as the Master Blaster had against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2004, the maestro said such calls need to be taken at the crease and cannot be planned beforehand.

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PRAVEEN RANA REVEALS WHEN SUSHIL KUMAR AND HIS ‘GANG’ BEAT HIS BROTHER

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Wrestler Praveen Rana regrets the fact that no action has been taken on the FIR lodged against Sushil’s supporters in an incident about three-and-a-half years ago. A fight broke out between two groups during the trials for Commonwealth Games in 2018. Sushil Kumar had just defeated Praveen Rana in a bout after which a brawl broke out between their supporters. Praveen Rana revealed at his wrestling center in Narela that the group that assaulted his brother was led by a person named Ajay who had eloped with Sushil in the recent past, and had a reward of Rs 50,000 on him.

Praveen Rana alleges that Ajay attacked his brother with a rod and chair. Rana said that 50 to 60 supporters had come along with Sushil to witness the trial held at KD Jadhav Hall at the Indira Gandhi Stadium complex.

During the trials for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Parveen and his elder brother Naveen Rana were thrashed allegedly by supporters of Sushil Kumar at the Indira Gandhi Indoor (IGI) stadium in the Capital “for daring to take the ring” against Kumar.

“Some people had nothing to do with wrestling. These people were constantly putting pressure on the referee. My mind was completely disturbed by that whole sequence of events,” Rana reveals.

After losing the match, Rana was watching the final wrestling bout between Sushil and Jitendra.

Rana had left his kit bag in the warm-up area. When he went to pick it up, about 20 Sushil’s supporters were present there, Rana says. Rana’s brother Naveen asked him to go away.

“Little did I know that he was saving me,” Rana said. And at the same time Ajay ‘attacked’ his brother with a rod and a chair, Rana revealed.

Praveen Rana first complained about this matter to the Wrestling Federation of India and then an FIR was lodged in the IP Extension police station.

Praveen said he is wondering as to why no action has been taken on that FIR, even almost three and a half years have passed. Even the charge sheet was not issued in this case, Rana said.

“I made several calls to the respective police station,” he said.

“I even visited the police station physically, but they would always say that they would look into the matter and that they would call me in case they needed to,” Rana added.

Praveen said that a call had come from the police station recently.

“They said that they need me to come. I hope something churns out. But, we have lost faith in things now,” Rana said.

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India announce 15-men squad for WTC final

Virat Kohli to lead the squad; no place for K.L. Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Shardul Thakur for the WTC final in Southampton against New Zealand from 18 June.

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On Tuesday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the 15-member squad for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. Mohammed Siraj has been included in India’s 15-member squad for the upcoming World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, starting on Friday.

Mayank Agarwal has been left out and this means Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma will be opening the batting for the Virat Kohli-led side. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have been chosen as the spinners, while Wriddhiman Saha has also been named in the squad along with Rishabh Pant. The Kiwis have already entered the bio-bubble for the summit clash having defeated England in the two-match Test series.

Prior to the WTC final, the Indian team played an intra-squad game where the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant impressed with the bat in hand. At the Hampshire Bowl, the players were tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation.

Prior to departing for England, India head coach Ravi Shastri had said that going ahead, the International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the WTC a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.

Meanwhile, India top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, on Tuesday, said that playing in the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) final means a lot to him.

“Personally, it means a lot to me This is the first time we are in a WTC final. We have worked hard over a period of time. It’s just like playing in a 50-over or T20 World Cup final. Test cricket needs to survive, and a WTC format helps where every Test, every series is important. If we win, then many youngsters would want to play the Test format and be part of the final when the next cycle comes around,” said Pujara.

The batsman also said that not playing warm-up matches is a bit of disadvantage, but his side will be up for the challenge against New Zealand.

“It is a disadvantage, but this is something we can’t control. These are challenging times in the world because of the pandemic, and you cannot have the luxury for extra preparation time. But the most important part is the game is still going on and that we’re playing a final. Yes, preparation time is a bit of a disadvantage maybe, but if you’re ready for the challenge, even if circumstances aren’t favourable, you’d do well. We’re confident as a team. Maybe a few extra days of preparation would’ve helped, but we can’t complain. We’re ready,” said Pujara.

While many cricket pundits feel the contest is evenly balanced, Australia Test skipper Tim Paine reckons India will “pretty comfortably” win the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) final.

“My prediction is, India will win pretty comfortably if they play anywhere near their best,” stuff.co.nz quoted Paine as saying.

In January, India had defeated Paine-led Australia by three wickets against all odds in the final Test at The Gabba to take the series 2-1.

Meanwhile, England lost the two-match Test series against New Zealand 0-1 after facing a defeat at the hands of the Kiwis in the second Test by eight wickets at Edgbaston on Sunday.

Paine praised the Kiwis but didn’t shy away from admitting that it was not the English side that usually takes the field against Australia in Ashes.

“I think New Zealand are a good team, for one, and secondly if we’re being realistic I think it’s a really different team that we saw England out on the field to what we’re probably going to see in the Ashes… keeping it in perspective it certainly wasn’t England’s strongest team,” he said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand on Tuesday confirmed their 15-man squad for the inaugural WTC final. Ajaz Patel has been included as the specialist spinner in the New Zealand squad.

India squad for WTC final: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj.

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WE WON’T PLAY FOR A DRAW AGAINST AFGHANISTAN, SAYS STIMAC

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A day before India’s last match against Afghanistan in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha, head coach Igor Stimac has dismissed apprehensions that his side may play out for a draw.

India is currently placed on six points after seven matches in comparison to Afghanistan being on five points from seven games. “I need to say that I don’t know any coach or any team who would come out playing for a draw. Even that might seem to be a situation when you are facing much better sides. Then, you need to drop and defend for your life and wait for one, two or three chances to counter-attack like against Qatar. But, we are not going out to play for a draw. Rather, we will go out to win it,” the official website of All India Football Federation (AIFF) quoted Stimac as saying. “That’s what we are aiming to do. We need to start doing it from the kick-off. I know and am very confident that all our boys are ready and fit. They need to enjoy the game,” he added.Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu added: “I think it’s important for us to stay fresh and face this new challenge against a very good side. Afghanistan has good quality players who can manipulate the ball and convert if given the chance. So, we need to make sure that as players, we stick to the plan and that we make life difficult for the other team and try to finish with a smile.”

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If any country can pull off Olympics, it’s definitely Japan: Sathiyan

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India table tennis player Sathiyan Gnanasekaran on Monday showed faith in Japan and said the country would successfully host the Tokyo Games this year. The Olympics were slated to go-ahead last year, but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it will now go ahead this year from July 23 to August 8. “I have been to Japan many times, have played in the Japan league as well. If some country can pull it off it’s definitely Japan and I know about their meticulous planning how they prepare for any event. I have full trust in Japan and IOC and they will host a very safe Olympics,” Gnanasekaran told ANI.Talking about his qualification for the Olympics, Gnanasekaran said: “For me, it’s my childhood dream, I saw Olympics on television like 17 years before, the dream has come true. I wanted to be part of the Indian team, so I had started training really really hard, especially after joining Raman sir, it has been a huge amount of hours that I have spent on training.”“It’s the most important opportunity of my life but at the same time, I would just enjoy the game as I have always done, go out there and have fun on the biggest stage,” he added.

The paddler also talked about how playing without fans in attendance would be hard and athletes will be required to find the push without the audience cheering them on. “Certainly, that’s the most difficult part I would say. Initially, I had thought it would be fine but when I played the Japan league in a huge stadium without fans, I felt a very big difference. Fans give you the push, they give you the extra energy at the very crucial juncture or when the scores are level,” said Gnanasekaran.“I think we are now kind of used to this new normal. It’s gonna be hard but I hope I can dedicate the medal to fans even though they are not with us,” he added.

Talking about his game and training, the paddler said: “Fantastic. I have been training with my coach, I have been working on my technique, footwork and I am getting match practice as well. I am doing good fitness, I have seen improvement in the last month and I will be all guns blazing for the Olympics. “For me, attack is the best defence. I was a very defensive player in my childhood days, and then when I started training with Raman sir, I shifted gears and that’s where I transformed as a player. I always prefer finding out opportunities where I can attack and score a point against my opponent.”

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DJOKOVIC’S COACH FEELS VICTORY AGAINST NADAL MADE THE DIFFRENCE IN FINAL

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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s long-time coach Marian Vajda believes that the confidence attained by the Serbian in the semi-final win against Rafael Nadal made all the difference in Sunday’s French Open final against No.5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.Marian says that Djokovic, who won 6-7(6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to claim his second Roland-Garros and 19th Grand slam title, after going two sets down against Tsitsipas was because of the belief he built up in his victory over the Spaniard. “I think Rafa’s game gave him a lot of confidence, believing in himself that he can win Roland-Garros,” Vajda was quoted as saying to the official website. “First two sets it took him [a] little bit off [guard] because maybe he was thinking too much ahead. Then he was able to be present after first two sets. Then he just prevailed [with] his tennis.”

Vajda told reporters after the final that Novak was in a much better place mentally in 2021, compared to the 2020 final, when he was obliterated by Nadal in straight sets. “I think he was much better than the last year mentally,” he said.

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