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Enough time for county stint, will take call after IPL: Pujara

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 20 (ANI): India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday said the Indian Premier League (IPL) deal will not act as a hindrance towards him playing county cricket this year.
Pujara was bought by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for Rs 50 lakh in mini-auction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday. As soon as Pujara was brought by CSK there was a round of applause for him in the room.
“First of all, I am really glad to be a part of the IPL, it is good to be back again. I would like to thank the CSK team for picking me, but at the same time, when I am talking about county cricket, I still think I will have enough time before we play England in England. Once IPL gets over, there will be a window for me to play county games. That call I will take once IPL gets over. There will be enough time to play some county games. We also have a couple of practice games in England once the Test series begins there,” said Pujara during a virtual press conference on Saturday.
“There is plenty of time to play county cricket but it is good to be back in the IPL. You know, I always want to play the short format of the game, IPL has produced so many great cricketers, some young talent we have got through the IPL, it has helped the Indian team. My focus once this Test series gets over will be on the IPL and once IPL gets over, I will think about county games and then there is a big series coming up against England. I am very hopeful that we will play the World Test Championship final as well which is in June,” he added.
He said there is plenty of cricket after the IPL.
“One thing at a time and right now, my focus is on the next two Tests. Both these Tests are important for us to qualify for the finals of the WTC. One game at a time, I think the pink-ball Test is very important, I am focusing on that.”
Pujara has played 30 games in the IPL to date and he will now don the yellow jersey. He last played in IPL for Punjab in 2014, the year they reached the final.
The four-match series between India and England currently stands level at 1-1 and now both teams will lock horns in a pink-ball Test, beginning February 24 at the Motera Stadium.
India had achieved an emphatic 317-run win against England in the second Test of the ongoing four-match series. As a result, the series stands level at 1-1 and the Virat Kohli-led side has also reached the second spot in World Test Championship (WTC) standings.
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship. The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India. (ANI)

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Guardiola hails Mumbai City FC after club’s ‘incredible success’ in ISL

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Manchester [UK], March 1 (ANI): Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Monday congratulated Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City FC after the Sergio Lobera-led side secured their first League Winners Shield.
Mumbai City made the most of their chances as they dished out a complete performance to beat ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 at the GMC Stadium Bambolim, here on Sunday.
With this win, the Mumbai-based club also secured a place in the AFC Champions League having already qualified for the ISL playoffs.
ISL Shield Winners Mumbai City FC will play their two-legged semi-finals against fourth-placed FC Goa. Guardiola hopes Mumbai City FC would continue the winning momentum in the playoffs too.
“Incredible success. It is part of the CFG family. Incredible success. It is part of the CFG family. Now comes the play-off. Hopefully, they can do well. Congratulations to all the people. Every league is tricky and when you win it is well deserved,” said Guardiola as tweeted by Manchester City.
ATK Mohun Bagan, who finished second in the league stage, will lock horns with third-placed NorthEast United FC.
FC Goa also qualified for the semi-finals of the ISL after playing out a goalless draw against Hyderabad FC on Sunday.
ISL 2020-21 Playoff fixtures:

Friday, March 5 – FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC – PJN Stadium, Fatorda
Saturday, March 6 – NorthEast United FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan – GMC Stadium, Bambolim
Monday, March 8 – Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa – GMC Stadium, Bambolim
Tuesday, March 9 – ATK Mohun Bagan vs NorthEast United FC – PJN Stadium, Fatorda
Saturday, March 13 – TBD – PJN Stadium, Fatorda (ANI)

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Vijender Singh excited, confident ahead of his return to boxing ring

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Indian boxer Vijender Singh, who is set to make his return to the ring on March 19, said he is excited and confident ahead of the bout.
This time, he will be exchanging fists in Vegas-style boxing on the Majestic Pride Casino Ship in Goa.
“I am going to fight in Goa and I am totally prepared. I have been training since January. Everything is on track at the moment… I am confident and very excited,” Vijender told ANI.
The first-of-its-kind fight will be held on the rooftop deck of the Majestic Pride Casino Ship — who have been roped in as the venue partner. The Majestic Pride is docked in the Mandovi River in Panaji, Goa.
The announcement of Vijender’s opponent is yet to be made.
Vijender also reflected on the COVID-19 outbreak and said sports suffered a lot because of the pandemic.
“Still we are facing difficult times in India (due to the coronavirus pandemic) as in few states, the cases are rising. But I am hoping for the best and hoping that we will go through this situation. Sports has suffered a lot because of this pandemic, and the Olympics were also postponed,” he said. (ANI)

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PSL 6: Islamabad-Quetta match postponed to Tuesday as Fawad Ahmed tests positive for coronavirus

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Karachi [Pakistan], March 1 (ANI): The Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators match has been rescheduled for Tuesday after spinner Fawad Ahmed returned a positive COVID-19 test.
Islamabad United informed that Fawad was put in isolation two days ago as he had shown symptoms while all the other team members have tested negative for coronavirus and have been cleared to play.
“One of our players, Fawad Ahmed tested positive for Covid and was immediately put in isolation 2 days ago. All other Islamabad United players and members have tested negative and have been cleared to play. We wish Fawad a speedy recovery,” Islamabad United tweeted.
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) match which was scheduled for 7.30 pm on Monday was earlier delayed by two hours but the game now has been pushed back to Tuesday. All players of Islamabad United are cleared to play in the game.
“Quetta Gladiators-Islamabad United match rescheduled for Tuesday, 2 March, at 7pm PKT. More details to follow shortly,” Pakistan Cricket tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has informed that the players of the other PSL teams are being tested.
“A player from one of the sides featuring in this evening’s match has tested positive. The player had shown symptoms two days ago and had been immediately isolated. Members of his side have tested negative while the players of the other side are being tested,” teh PCB tweeted.
Fawad thanked his fans for the kind messages and urged everyone to stay safe from the deadly virus.
“Thanks for all the kind messages, please keep remember me in ur prayers, much needed @IsbUnited @thePSLt20, and please everyone stay safe,” Fawad tweeted.
Islamabad United won the first two games in the tournament but a four-wicket haul from Wahab Riaz handed United its first defeat of the season on Saturday. Riaz led Peshawar Zalmi to a comfortable six-wicket win over Islamabad United in the 10th fixture of the PSL 6 at Karachi’s National Stadium on Saturday. (ANI)

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Russian Athletics Federation reinstatement plan approved by World Athletics Council

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Quai Antoine [Monaco], March 1 (ANI): Following detailed work by World Athletics’ Russia Taskforce, its independent experts, and RusAF, a final plan for the reinstatement of RusAF to membership of World Athletics was recommended to the World Athletics Council last week. World Athletics’ Council unanimously agreed to the Taskforce’s recommendations.
In an email to the World Athletics Council, Taskforce Chairman Rune Andersen wrote: “The Taskforce has now reviewed and provided detailed feedback on three different drafts of the Reinstatement Plan. The three international experts appointed by World Athletics have worked closely with RusAF on the development of the Reinstatement Plan and advised the Taskforce that they believe the Plan is fit for the purpose of embedding in Russian athletics the deep-rooted change in culture that Council has been demanding for the past five years.
“In addition, although RusAF President Peter Ivanov has been required to step down for two years because of his appointment as a senior official of the Russian Government (to respect the CAS sanctions imposed on Russian Government officials in the WADA/RUSADA compliance case), the international experts also consider that the senior management that Ivanov has put in place will be able to move the Plan forward in his absence, under the temporary leadership of RusAF Vice-President Irina Privalova as acting President.
“For its part, the Taskforce stands ready to monitor the milestones and KPIs in the Reinstatement Plan carefully, so that it is able to report to future Council meetings whether RusAF is keeping up with the enormous work that will be required to implement the Reinstatement Plan successfully. On this basis, the Taskforce recommends that Council resolves (1) to approve the Reinstatement Plan; and (2) to publish it on the World Athletics website.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe thanked all involved in developing the reinstatement plan and said he is grateful to the Taskforce, its experts and RusAF for creating a detailed roadmap to rebuild trust.
“I don’t think a week has gone by during my presidency when I have not been answering questions about Russia and our sport. I am extremely grateful to the Taskforce, its experts and RusAF for creating a detailed roadmap to rebuild trust. This is not the end but the beginning of a long journey, with an incredible amount of work for RusAF to do to rebuild trust. The international experts believe the team that is now in place will be able to deliver on the milestones they have put in place. The Taskforce, with ongoing advice from the international experts, will monitor progress and report to Council.”
The Council also decided in its December 2020 Council meeting that it will consider whether to allow Russian athletes to compete again as ANAs in international competitions (including allowing up to 10 ANAs to participate in World Athletics Series events and the Tokyo Olympic Games) at its March 2021 meeting, or earlier if the Taskforce so recommends, based on the progress made by RusAF to that date.
The Taskforce said that it will address the question of ANAs in its report to the Council meeting of March 17-18. (ANI)

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Akanksha Nitture gets wild card entry for ITF Women’s Pune event

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): The High Performance Training Camps (HTPC) trainee Akanksha Nitture defeated Snehal Mane in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 in the final qualifying round of the ITF Women’s $ 15,000 event at Delhi Lawn Tennis Association Complex on Monday.
HTPC is the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) ‘Return to Tennis’ programme. As the playing opportunities have begun to roll out more steadily, the Indian players are eager to take advantage of India’s “Return to Tennis” roadmap which included two High Performance Training Camps — one each for both junior boys and junior girls.
The international professional circuit made a comeback in India on Monday with two tournaments being hosted by Lucknow (Men’s $15,000) and New Delhi (Women’s $15,000).
The 17-year-old Akanksha, who was one of the trainees at the recently concluded HPTC in Delhi, worked on her physical conditioning, had hitting opportunity with the best players, and was provided with a high intensity of an inbuilt tournament during her stay at the camp. This camp prepared the players for the upcoming International tournaments.
Based on her performance in the camp, Akanksha has been given a Wild Card in the main draw of ITF Women’s $25,000 Pune event.
“The camp played a crucial part in getting back into the groove after a long Covid-19 pandemic induced break. Not only the tennis sessions but the sports psychology, nutrition, and diet, and tennis equipment experts who were roped in to add to our skills beyond on-court practice, have proven to be a great learning experience. It is beginning to reflect on my game already. I am glad to have earned my spot in the main draw,” said Akanksha post her win.
The camp curriculum and activities which were designed by the national coach, Zeeshan Ali, were much appreciated by all the trainees in the feedback forms submitted to AITA. (ANI)

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Vijay Hazare Trophy: CAB to conduct review meeting after Bengal’s poor show

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 1 (ANI): Cricket Association of Bengal President Avishek Dalmiya is “deeply disappointed” with the performance of the Bengal team after the side failed to qualify for the quarter-finals of the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Dalmiya has said a review meeting will be called with the coach, captain, and selectors to analyse what went wrong with the side in the 50-over tournament.
“We are deeply disappointed with the performance of the Bengal team in Vijay Hazare Trophy. We had expected a much better performance from the team. In fact, the CAB office bearers will soon call a review meeting with the coach, captain, and selectors to do an in-depth post mortem,” said Dalmiya.
“It is absolutely important to find out the reasons for this kind of performance and address the issues. The performance of the support staffs will also be reviewed. We are also chalking out a detailed plan to roll out vision 2025 as a continuation of Vision 2020. Last year it could not be implemented because of the pandemic,” he further said.
“But this year we are already working on the blueprint for Vision 2025. This time the focus will also be on age group cricket and harnessing and developing young talents to create a robust supply line and a strong bench strength,” Dalmiya added.
Bengal’s dismal performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy saw the side winning two out of five games despite starting the tournament with a victory.
CAB secretary Snehashis Ganguly has echoed Dalmiya’s sentiments and said a detailed analysis will be done to find the cause of the dismal show.
“The CAB has left no stone unturned to see that the players get enough pre-season practice. We have been doing fitness camps indoors from September 2020 immediately after the lockdown was lifted. Then maintaining all Covid protocols camps were held in Kalyani for build-up towards the season,” he pointed.
“Vision camp with VVS Laxman was done at JU Second Campus. Practice matches were organised, team bonding sessions were held, and the Bengal T20 Challenge was organised keeping in mind the need for some valuable match practice for the players. So we need to analyse what is going wrong,” he added.
Bengal coach Arun Lal, who was dissatisfied with the performance of the team after a closed-door meeting with Dalmiya, said: “A set of dos and don’ts will be given to the players on behavioural expectations and maintaining fitness standards ahead of next season.” (ANI)

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