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Fast bowlers could be this IPL’s dark horses

Despite conditions favouring spinners due to high temperature and dry pitches, likes of Rabada, Bumrah and Steyn will have high expectations from their fans and franchises

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The most dynamic and vibrant battle between bat and bowl is all set to kick off with the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on 19 September in UAE. The best of cricket will finally take to the field, though the absence of spectators will certainly have a hitch on the game.

Despite conditions favouring spinners due to high temperature and dry pitches, likes of Ben Stokes, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada, Pat Cummins, Dale Steyn, Deepak Chahar and Trent Boult will have high expectations from their fans as well as respective franchises.

As the opening match is scheduled a night ahead, the defending champions Mumbai Indians seem to have one of the most lethal squads of fast bowlers combining Boult with Jasprit Bumrah, regarded as the most prolific pacer in world cricket and had the best season last year as he fetched 19 wickets. Also,bowlers like Mitchel McClenaghan and Hardik Pandya have experience and energy to boost the team’s chances.

Chennai Super Kings, with Deepak Chahar in their squad, will surely expect to give nightmares to mighty MI in the first match of this season. Chahar was amongst the top-notch bowlers of IPL 2019, and was shy of four wickets from winning the purple cap. He is expected to get decent support from Shardul Thakur who has been leading the attack for CSK, including Bravo and Shane Watson. CSK will try its best to restrict the opposing team at the low scores.

The runner up of last season, Delhi Capitals, has come a long way from settling at the bottom of the table to be- ing the top contenders, but it would have never been possible without the likes of Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Mohit Sharma, Harshal Patel, and debutant Lalit Yadav. The team will heavily depend on Sharma, who has enough experience to be counted. Patel’s last year’s performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament draws eyes towards him as he clinched 19 wickets and scored more than 350 runs.

Bhubneshwar Kumar along with Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmad, and Siddharth Kaul will have a huge responsibility to rise above all and take the team to the end of the game. Kumar has been phenomenal for the team with his stunning Yorkers and economy but recently he has struggled a lot for his fitness and with his consistency. This season could be a game-changer for Bhubneshwar, as T20 World Cups are scheduled next year and if he performs well his prospect in the team could be considered.

The KKR’s franchise is riding on high notes with its vic- tory in the Caribbean Premier League but its poor consistency in the last three seasons of IPL will keep things on serious notes in the dugout.

Bowlers like Pat Cummins, Andre Russel, and Lockie Fergusen will have to bring their character in the ground. From providing breakthroughs to the team to be the guiding force for the talented and promising youngsters like Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, and Sivam Manvi.

Russel and Pat Cummins, being foreigners and having enough game played will be key for the team, and the franchise will expect them to frequently adapt to the new environment in the UAE.

Kings X1 Punjab is the most underperformed team of the IPL, as they always looked good on paper but unfortunately, they failed to perform on the ground which led to their exclusion. Mohammad Shami will be leading the attack for the team with Sheldon Cortell, who can contribute with bat and ball both, James Neesham, Ravi Bishnoi, and Murugan Ashwin whose mystery is yet unsolved.

Might Ben Stokes along with Jofra Archer and Varun Aaron will lead the attack for Rajasthan Royals in the leadership of Steve Smith. The team’s pace bowling attack looks fierce with more pacers like Jayadev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye.

The team looks impressive with the set of bowlers they have in their kit but without a team effort and consistent effort from each player, it won’t matter a lot.

Inconsistent, no luck, and team crumbles in a pressure game, three terms to define the overall career of Royal Challengers Bangalore. The team is studded with star players in every department and at times they outperform their opposition in every department but as they reach close to finals or trophy they collapse like a pack of cards.

Bowlers like Chris Morris, Umesh Yadav, Dale Steyn, Md. Siraj will raise hopes for skippers and if they perform with consistency and as per the requirement they hold the capability to knock off any world-class batsmen in the world. These bowlers have pulled off games for the team and proved their worth but the team is yet to take a victory lap and hopefully, this could be the end of the drought for the franchise.

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Your victories are inspiring generations in sports: PM Modi to Thomas Cup team

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Thomas Cup team of the badminton champions, who shared their experiences of the tournament. The players talked about different aspects of their game, life beyond badminton and more.

The Prime Minister told the team that they will win many more medals in the course of time. They have to play a lot and bloom (khelna bhi hai khilna bhi hai) and have to take the country into the world of sports. “Now India can’t lag behind. Your victories are inspiring generations for sports”, the Prime Minister added. Kidambi Srikanth talked about the great feeling among the player about being recognized by the Prime Minister in a proud way. The Prime Minister asked the team captain about his leadership style and challenges.

The Prime Minister said, “On behalf of the entire country I congratulate you and your entire team as after decades, Indian flag has been firmly planted. This is not a small feat…Keeping the nerve and team together under tremendous pressure is something that I can understand very well. I congratulated you on phone but now I am feeling the joy of complimenting you in person”. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy conveyed the elation and tribulation of the last ten days. He recalled the memorable support that he got from the team and support staff. He said that the team is still re-living the moments of victory.

Chirag Shetty also narrated his journey of the tournament and recalled coming to PM residence with Olympic Contingent. The Prime Minister said that he noted the disappointment among a few players when some of them could not win a medal at the Olympics.

The Prime Minister inquired about the bout of food poisoning that Lakshya faced during the tournament. When asked about his advice for young children who are taking up the sport, Lakshya asked them to devote their full attention to training. The Prime Minister asked Lakshya to recall his strength and balance that he deployed when faced with the trauma of food poisoning and remember the lessons learnt for harnessing his strength and resolve.

HS Prannoy said that this is even a more proud moment as the team could win the prestigious tournament in the 75th year of India’s independence. He said that pressure was immense in the quarter final and semi-final and he was happy that that could be overcome due to the support of the team.

Prime Minister greeted the youngest of the lot, Unnati Hooda who complimented the Prime Minister for never discriminating between medallists and non-medallists. The Prime Minister told her that he firmly believes that Unnati will shine as her name indicates. He told her that she has a long way to go and she should never allow victories to make her feel complacent.

Treesa Jolly told about the excellent family support she received for her sporting quest. The Prime Minister said that the country is proud of the way that our women team played in the Uber Cup.

In conclusion, the Prime Minister said that this team has infused tremendous energy in the country by winning the Thomas cup. A long wait of seven decades finally came to an end. ‘Whosoever understands Badminton, must have dreamt about this, a dream that has been fulfilled by you’ “Such successes inject great energy and confidence in the entire sporting ecosystem of the country. Your victory has done something that cannot be accomplished by greatest of the coaches or the oratory of the leaders”, PM Modi said.

Referring to Uber Cup, the Prime Minister said while we wait for victory we will also make arrangements for that. He expressed the belief that the quality athletes of the present team will soon get better results. “Our women team has shown their time and again their class. It is just a matter of time, if not this time, next time we will surely win”, he added.

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AN OUT OF FORM VIRAT SHOULD BAT THIRD DOWN

Rajkumar Sharma

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It is not unusual for sportspersons to see up and downs, even touching the lowest ebb at times, in their career. Virat Kohli is no exception to this phenomenon so common in sports. He has performed below par in this season of IPL. A fine batsman like him could not make a place even among top 20 scorers in the tournament. It was disappointing to see Kohli struggle to make his mark with the bat.

He got out thrice without scoring a single run and scored below 10 six times. He got run out twice. The only solace for him, however, is he was able to cross the 7000-run mark for RCB in the previous match. Another big takeaway for him in this tournament is that he scored two half centuries against Gujarat Titans, who have won the largest number of matches in the league. He scored only 309 runs at an average of 23.77. With a strike rate of 117.93, he has performed quite below than what has been is hallmark.

This is the first occasion when he has scored less than 400 runs after Season 4 of the IPL tournament. I read an observation made by Faf du Plessis, the opening partner of Virat Kohli, after RCB lost to Punjab by 54 runs, with Virat losing his wicket when had scored 20 runs only. The former captain of South Africa cricket team had observed how Virat got out in different ways. He got run out. He was bowled out and was also caught out. Not only that, he also fell to what we call bad umpiring.

However, an innings is enough for a batsman to find his rhythm. I am happy to see the manner Virat Kohli scored 73 runs out of 54 balls in the last match. This would help him find his rhythm again, I am certain. The kind of approach and mindset Virat has reflects in his performance. The way he plays his shots also shows he has a hunger for runs. The innings he played against Gujarat Titans shows amply these qualities. It felt good when he said after the match that he had practiced 90 minutes behind the nets. His hard work had an imprint on his game in this match.

He has a huge fan following across the world, and everybody expects a lot from him. I believe that Virat will not disappoint them in future. He has always been a very hard-working man and these days too he is putting in all efforts to improve his performance. Audiences will certainly see good consequences of what is trying to accomplish.

He has been opening the batting for the last couple of matches. But then the opening slot is known for putting the batsman under tremendous psychological pressure. I feel he should play third down in batting order which suits him well. He would be seen batting in this slot in the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia as well.

Rajkumar Sharma is the coach of Virat Kohli and a Dronacharya Awardee

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India announces squad for fifth test against England

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The All-India Senior Selection Committee on Sunday named India’s 17-member Test squad for the fifth rescheduled Test against England. The match will be played at Edgbaston, Birmingham from July 1-5. India currently leads the Test series 2-1. The fifth Test match, which was supposed to be held in Old Trafford, Manchester last year, was cancelled due to COVID-19 cases in the Indian contingent.

At that time, the BCCI and ECB held several rounds of discussion to find a way to play the Test match, however, the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Indian team contingent forced the decision of calling off the game. Batter Ajinkya Rahane missed out from the squad due to a hamstring injury that also saw him miss the remainder of the ongoing season of IPL 2022 with Kolkata Knight Riders.

The other Test veteran for India, Cheteshwar Pujara, has made his return to the national side after delivering stupendous performances for Sussex in the County Championship Division Two. Earlier he was dropped from the squad for the home test matches against Sri Lanka.

India’s Test squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain) Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant (wk), KS Bharat (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohd Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.

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WAS TRYING TO GET INTO POSITIVE FRAME OF MIND WITH EVERY BALL: VIRAT KOHLI

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After his match winning half-century against Gujarat Titans, Royal Challengers Bangalore star batter Virat Kohli said that he batted for 90 minutes in the nets and was trying to get into a positive frame of mind with every ball he played.

A knock of 73 off 54 not only brought a struggling batting great back to his form, but also helped RCB clinch an important win over GT by eight wickets as they chased down the target of 169 set by GT to keep their playoffs hopes alive, with captain Du Plessis (44) and Glenn Maxwell (40*) putting other valuable contributions for Bangalore.

“The standout was my preparation for yesterday. I batted for 90 minutes in the nets. I was trying to get into a positive frame of mind with every ball I played. I was just watching the ball and reacting to it, instead of thinking that it seams, swings or turns. I was telling myself to take the most positive option I could. I extended that into my game today. There are moments when you feel doubtful, but when the bowler runs to deliver a ball, you have to watch it and hit it,” said Kohli during a post-match discussion.

Kohli admitted that this season was a challenging time for him and that he had experienced everything that he could not control on the field to the fullest. Du Plessis remarked that it was great the way Kohli handled himself during these challenging times, adding that his intensity on-field during the match was GT was special.

On opening the batting, Du Plessis said, “I think first few overs are extremely important. We have seen this during this season more than any other season. If you escape first 2-3 overs unscathed without any wicket, you can transfer the pressure back. The most important thing is partnership, what you do, what I do and how we do it together.”

Kohli also admitted that he had fun batting with Du Plessis. “We were not discussing too much and not complicating things. Situation was dictating what to do. Had we over complicated things, we could have given dot balls to people that we attacked,” he added. The star batter also said that its great for the team that he and Du Plessis have been in sync in such a great way during their first season together.

With Mumbai Indians set to take on Delhi Capitals on Saturday in a highly important match for RCB’s playoff chances, Kohli quipped, “I think Mumbai has two new supporters. (him and Faf). Not just two, I think 25 more supporters.”

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M.S. DHONI CONFIRMS HE WILL PLAY FOR CSK IN IPL 2023

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Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Friday confirmed he will be playing for CSK in the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 40-year-old star batter of CSK announced this during the toss against Rajasthan Royals on Friday. The game against Rajasthan Royals is the last fixture for CSK in this edition of IPL. The CSK, which has won IPL four times with Dhoni has captain, has not made it to playoffs this time. Asked if the fans will see him in the yellow jersey again after this IPL season, Dhoni said “it will it be unfair to not play in Chennai and say thank you”.

“Definitely. It’s a simple reason.. it will be unfair to not play in Chennai and say thank you. Mumbai is one place, whereas as a team and as an individual, I have got a lot of love and affection. But it wouldn’t be nice to the CSK fans,” MS Dhoni said. He hoped that the teams will be travelling to different venues during next year’s IPL.

“And also, hopefully, next year there will be an opportunity where the teams will be travelling so it will be alike thank you to all the different places where we will be playing games at different venues. Whether it will be my last year or not that’s a big question, because you know we can’t really predict something two years down the line, but definitely, I’ll be working hard to come back strong next year,” he added.

In the ongoing IPL 2022, MS Dhoni had stepped down as the skipper of CSK, passing the reins to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. This led to speculations of this being the final IPL season for Dhoni. However, Dhoni was reappointed as the skipper after Jadeja stepped down mid-way through the tournament.

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PM Modi’s words motivate you to do better: World boxing champion Nikhat Zareen

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India’s Nikhat Zareen expressed happiness after Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated her on winning the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Turkey on Thursday. Zareen has become only the fifth Indian woman to achieve this coveted feat. Zareen defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas 5-0 in the flyweight division of the championship. On this occasion, PM Modi congratulated the newly-crowned IBA Women’s World Boxing Champion and wrote motivating words for her on reaching such a feat.

IBA Women’s World Boxing Champion Nikhat Zareen.

“I was very happy when I got to know that PM Modi congratulated me. PM Modi tweeted for me and wrote motivational words, and these words push you to do better,” Nikhat Zareen told ANI. Speaking about the upcoming Commonwealth Games Zareen said, “I have started preparing for Commonwealth Games. Now my focus will be on winning in CWG and I will have to work hard.”

“I still can’t believe that I won the gold medal in World Championship. I am excited to go back to India and meet my friend and my family. I’m really happy to win this gold medal for my country,” she added. Speaking about the match, Zareen said, “In the second round three judges were in my opponent’s favour and then I thought I should not take it easy in the third round. Let’s go all out so that was my strategy. And I applied it in the third round and was successful in it.”

On whether she expected a win by a huge margin, she said that it was unexpected but she wanted to give her best and win unanimously.

“You never know that about can go either way. I did not want to take any chance. So the plan was to win unanimously in the first two rounds and play the third round in a relaxed way,” she added. Indian boxer Nikhat registered a dominating 5-0 victory in the final. Living up to the expectations, Nikhat thrashed Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas without breaking a sweat in the 52kg final with judges scoring the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian’s favour.

The Nizamabad (Telangana)-born boxer became the only fifth Indian woman to secure a gold medal at the World Boxing Championships after record six-time champion Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018), Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006) and Lekha KC (2006). It was also India’s first gold medal since boxing great Mary Kom won it in 2018. With Manisha (57kg) and Parveen (63kg) signing off with bronze medals after their semi-finals finish, the Indian contingent concluded its campaign with three medals at the world’s biggest boxing event, which witnessed exciting competition in presence of record 310 boxers from 73 countries and also marked the 20th anniversary of the Women’s World Championships.

Out of 12 participating Indian boxers, eight made it to the quarter-finals in this year’s tournament–the joint highest alongside Turkey. With the addition of three medals in Istanbul, India’s overall medal tally has gone up to 39, including 10 gold, eight silver and 21 bronze, in the 12 editions of the prestigious event–third highest after Russia (60) and China (50).

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