Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 16 (ANI): Former opening batsman Gautam Gambhir feels Chennai Super Kings (CSK) need to have a replacement for Australian cricketer Shane Watson in the upcoming Indian Premier League’s (IPL).
In November 2020, Watson announced retirement from all forms of cricket, ending a 20 year long illustrious career during which he was one of the world’s premier white-ball all-rounders.
“Most importantly, I think they need to have a replacement straightaway for Shane Watson because obviously, that is one area. Plus, they didn’t have Suresh Raina last time around. So, Suresh Raina will be available. We are only talking about CSK because they haven’t qualified for the first time in the playoffs,” said Gambhir on Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected
“That’s why there’s so much of talk and that’s when you’re playing away from home and your strength of the squad has always been built around the conditions you got to cater to – that’s Chepauk where it’s going to start spinning and gripping,” he added.
Also, ahead of auction CSK released Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Murali Vijay and Piyush Chawla from the squad. Gambhir said CSK might look for an off-spinner in the auction with an eye also on an all-rounder.
“That’s how MS plays his cricket over such a long period of time whenever he has captained the Chennai Super Kings. So yes, he might look at an off-spinner because Harbhajan Singh has been released, Shane Watson and probably another all-rounder or a backup for someone like Dwayne Bravo, because probably age is catching up on him as well. He’s not the same what he used to be,” Gambhir said.
“So, probably there could be an all-rounder and plus an overseas batter, because there are two overseas batters normally who open for CSK. There’s not going to be too many changes to be honest. Most importantly, they should have a smaller squad, because this is only an auction for one season. After this season, there’s going to be a bigger auction. So, I don’t think CSK will have an overall revamp,” he added.
CSK had a poor IPL 2020 as the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side wasn’t ab;e to qualify for the playoffs but youngsters like Ruturaj Gaikwad impressed everyone with his batting skills.
Gambhir also highlighted the role of youngsters in the CSK ahead of the IPL auction. The former cricketer also said Suresh Raina’s inclusion will boost CSK’s hopes in the upcoming tournament.
“It’s very easy once you’re out of the competition because there’s not a lot of pressure, you can go out and play freely. Once you start the competition, there’s a lot of expectation from CSK, that’s when the youngsters will develop under pressure and perform when there’s a lot of expectation – that’s going to be a completely different ball game,” said Gambhir.
“If you see a lot of young players who contributed in the later half of the competition, was only when CSK was out of the playoffs race. So, this time around, Suresh Raina coming back will be a huge boost for CSK because he plays T20 cricket really well and he’s done a lot of good things for CSK,” he further said.
“At the same time, they will have new players coming in, whether it’s a replacement for Shane Watson or probably an off-spinner or an all-rounder. So, when new players come in, obviously they will bring new ideas, they bring new energy as well. I am sure those are the areas CSK will be looking for,” Gambhir added.
Catch all the updates from the VIVO IPL 2021 Auction live and exclusive on the Star Sports Network on Thursday. (ANI)
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Premier League: Man City defeat West Ham to consolidate position at top spot
Manchester [UK], February 27 (ANI): Goals from Ruben Dias and John Stones helped Manchester City defeat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday in the Premier League 2020-21 season here at the Etihad Stadium.
With this win, City has consolidated its position at the top spot of Premier League standings and the side has 62 points from 26 games, 13 points clear of the second-placed Manchester United.
City registered the first goal of the match as Dias got on the scoring sheets to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. However, the hosts were not able to hold on to that lead for long.
West Ham got the equaliser in the 43rd minute as Michail Antonio got on the scoring chart and the scoreline was brought level to 1-1. The first half saw no more goals and the honours were level.
In the second half, City managed to get ahead in the 68th minute as Stones registered the striking blow and as a result, the hosts gained a 2-1 lead.
No more goals were registered and in the end, City walked away with a 2-1 victory.
City will next take on Wolves in the Premier League on March 2 while West Ham will square off against Leeds United on March 8. (ANI)
World number three Germany defeat Indian women’s hockey team 5-0
Dusseldorf [Germany], February 27 (ANI): World number three Germany defeated the Indian women’s hockey team 5-0 in their first match of the four-match tour here in Dusseldorf on Saturday.
Pia Maertens (10′, 14′), Lena Micheel (20′), Pauline Heinz (28′) and Lisa Altenburg (41′) found the back of the net for the hosts. India got off to a great start early in the first quarter by earning a penalty corner only in the second minute. However, the German defensive line stepped up and saved India’s shot at the goal.
Thereafter, the hosts upped their ante and put extensive pressure on the Indian defence. They got into great positions and created multiple goal-scoring opportunities. Germany’s Forward Pia Maertens put the hosts in the lead with a goal in the 10th minute and then found the back of the net once again in the 14th minute. The teams went into the first quarter break with Germany leading at 2-0.
In the second quarter, the hosts continued to put pressure on the Indian defence line and earned a penalty corner in the 17th minute. The Indian side saved the penalty corner and counter-attacked immediately. India earned a penalty corner in the very next minute, however, the Germans stood tall and saved India’s shot at the goal once again. The world number three side rode on the momentum and took a 3-0 lead in the 20th minute when Germany’s forward Lena Micheel found an opening and converted it brilliantly. Eight minutes later, the hosts extended their lead to 4-0 after midfielder Pauline Heinz found the back of the net just before half-time.
The Indian team fought hard and tried to make inroads into the German half in the third quarter, however, the hosts fought back and earned a penalty corner in the 40th minute. The Indian defence line stood tall and found a way to ward off the Germans’ shot at the goal. However, the hosts continued to put pressure on India relentlessly and Germany took a 5-0 lead after Forward Lisa Altenburg struck a goal in the 41st minute.
At the start of the final quarter, the Indian team showed fantastic character and put Germany on the back-foot straight away. They earned a penalty corner in the 47th and the 50th minutes, however, the German defence line stood tall and saved India’s strikes on their goal. The Indian team fought hard until the last minute, however, the hosts ensured that they didn’t concede a goal and won the match 5-0.
India will take on Germany in their second match on Sunday. (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: Wicket was pretty dry, it was tricky for everybody, says Trott
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 27 (ANI): England batting coach Jonathan Trott on Saturday said that the pitch used in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium was pretty dry and it was a tricky time for everybody.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.
India batsman Rohit Sharma clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
“It was a tricky time for everybody, the wicket was pretty dry, that is what we have seen here in India. We had first use of it, we would have liked to get more runs, and then we would have been able to put India under pressure. It would have been nice if we got some more first-innings runs. Between Olly, Zak and Dom, they have played 44 Tests together, it was tricky for those younger guys, but it is important that they realise Test cricket is about performing well for your country and being able to consistently perform,” said Trott during a virtual press conference.
“Hopefully, the guys are learning and we have a few days of practice, we will get back to the red ball. The pink ball did behave a bit differently as compared to the normal red one, but the fundamentals of playing spin in Asia is very important. The pink ball swings a lot more, it has a different feel to it, it feels smoother. It does feel a little different, it would be nice to get back to the red ball. But pink-ball is here to stay so it’s important that guys get used to it,” he added.
When asked whether the DRS is helping the spinners in the current era, Trott replied: “I do not know if it’s helping them. I think the batsmen are adjusting their technique mainly, they are playing with their bat ahead of the pad. I think it’s 50-50, there are times as batsmen when you have been given out, but you have got an inside edge, you are able to review it and you can carry on. It works both ways and it evens it out sometimes.”
Talking about the atmosphere in the dressing room, Trott said: “It is disappointing with how the two Tests have gone for us. But we don’t become a bad side after two Tests, every time you lose a cricket match, it hurts. It is about being clear in the way players want to go about it. It is important that one does not become too desperate. You feel for the lads, nobody sees them work harder than the coaches do. They are hurting in the dressing room, there is nothing much you can do but you can keep them upbeat.” (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: ODI series to be played behind closed doors
By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): The three-match ODI series between India and England is set to be played minus fans with an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic. But whether all the games will be held in Pune or the last ODI will be shifted to Mumbai is a decision that is yet to be taken.
Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments said that the BCCI is yet to take a call on whether all the games will be held in Pune or the final game will be played in Mumbai.
“We will not have fans with an eye on the COVID-19 situation. But whether the last game moves to Mumbai or all the matches will be played in Pune is a call that is still to be finalised. We also need to keep the English cricket board in the loop,” the source said.
After the four-match Test series gets over between India and England, both teams will square off against each other in five T20Is and then the action would shift to the 50-over format.
The T20Is are set to be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad itself. The three ODIs are to be played on March 23, 26, and 28 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune as per the initial plan.
Interestingly, a BCCI functionary even said that if the number of cases increase in Maharashtra, the ODIs could also be seen in Ahmedabad as that would mean not moving from one state to another.
“While we do use charter planes, but I would think if the cases do increase in Maharashtra, we could have a situation wherein we stick to Ahmedabad for the rest of the tour,” the functionary pointed.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. With this win, India is one step closer to reaching the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC). (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: Bio-bubble has helped in making team bonding better, says Ashwin
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 27 (ANI): Seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday said that bio-bubbles do come with their challenges, but it has helped in making the team bonding a little better as cricketers are not allowed to interact with people from outside.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. With this win, India is one step closer to reaching the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC).
“Look, I had my family for the Australian tour, I had got them to Dubai as well for the second half of the IPL. For this tour, I have not got them here, I have used rotation policy and I have left them at home. Without them around, it would be incredibly hard, yet in larger hotel spaces, we do get our entertainment area, we bond much better. One thing that I must say that because of this bio-bubble, players are getting together more often than it was there in the past,” said Ashwin during a virtual press conference.
“The team bonding has gotten better. I am also sure that people do feel a little bit of boredom or they feel lonely, it will be nice if they seek help. But for me, it has been mostly around watching something online and reading books,” he added.
In the third Test against England, Ashwin went past the landmark of 400 Test wickets, and with this, he came the second fastest after Muttiah Muralitharan to achieve the feat.
When asked whether he would like to break the record of Anil Kumble’s tally of 619 wickets, Ashwin said: “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.
“This is probably one of the best phases in terms of awareness I have about my skill. Sometimes you want to execute something, but you are not there. You are off the mark by certain inches and this makes a lot of difference in the sport. All the things are coming together and I feel blessed that the things are coming together,” he added.
If India wins or draws the last Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the WTC and the side will take on New Zealand in the summit clash.
“We play with the intent to win most often, that’s what we speak about as a group. You never go into a game looking to draw the game as a safer option. We will look to win the game,” said Ashwin. (ANI)
ISL 7: Mumbai City and ATK Mohun Bagan to battle it out for League Winners Shield
Panaji (Goa) [India], February 27 (ANI): Their playoff spots may have been secured, but the final game of the Indian Super League (ISL) League stage will witness the clash of the titans as Mumbai City and ATK Mohun Bagan battle it out for their first League Winners Shield crown at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Sunday.
The contest will be a battle between two of the most consistent teams in the league. And throughout the season, the top spot has been contested by the two sides. While Mumbai City held a comfortable lead at the summit in the first half of the season, an unexpected slump since January saw them relinquish their position to rivals Bagan.
Now with one last game to go, it’s all or nothing for the Islanders. Only a win could see them grab the top spot alongside a spot in the AFC Champions League. Anything less than three points, and that place will be taken by Bagan.
During the last meeting between the two sides, Bartholomew Ogbeche’s goal proved to be the difference. However, Mumbai coach Sergio Lobera said Sunday’s match will be different from the first leg.
“The first leg was another game (where) we won three points but tomorrow is a final,” he said.
“We need to play to win and we need to manage this situation well. It’s not like the games we played before because it’s not about just the three points, but to win a final.”
The match will pit the best attack of the league against the best defence. Mumbai has scored 33 goals and boasts the best conversion rate. ATKMB on the other hand, have been the meanest defense — conceding just 13 goals — alongside registering a league-high tally of 10 clean sheets. And Lobera urged his side to stay true to their style rather than focus on the result.
“They have a very good defense but not only (that), but also a good balance between attack and defense,” he said.
“For us, it’s important to be loyal to our style of play and show passion in some moments during the game because it’s not easy to find spaces and have a lot of chances against them.”
While a point may be enough for the Mariners to finish at the top, coach Antonio Habas stated his side won’t settle for anything less than a win.
“We have to be prepared to win, not to draw,” he said. “It’s a historic moment (if we qualify) but we have to play the match like another match. We play for three points. We have to concentrate because we play a rival that is very difficult in the attack.” (ANI)
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