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French Open: Ankita enters 2nd round, Andreescu pulls out

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World number seven Bianca Andreescu has pulled out of the upcoming French Open Grand Slam and will take the rest of the season off to focus on her health and training.

“I have come to the difficult decision to skip the clay court swing this year and will be taking the remainder of the season off to focus on my health and training,” the Canadian said in a statement on Tuesday.

India’s Ankita Raina earned a hard-fought win against Jovana Jovic of Serbia to progress to the second round of the French Open qualifiers.

On Tuesday, Ankita defeated Jovana 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in match that lasted two hours and 47 minutes. The 27-year-old will next take on Japan’s Kurumi Nara, seeded 22nd.

Ankita, who is India’s top- ranked woman tennis player, has not gone beyond the second round at the Grand Slam qualifiers and she would need to win two more matches to make it to the main draw of the clay court grand slam.

Earlier on Monday, Prajnesh Gunneswaran had gone past Turkey’s Cem Ilkel to advance to the second round of the men’s singles qualifying event. Prajnesh had defeated Ilkel 6-3, 6-1 after losing his service early in his opening round of the qualifier.

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World hockey approves gender equality policy

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The International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Executive Board on Thursday approved its reviewed Gender Equality Policy. The policy, among other things, aims to bring a 50-50 male and female representation in the Executive Board of international governing body.

 “Meeting today via online conference under the chairmanship of FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) ratified the reviewed FIH Gender Equality Policy,” said the FIH in a statement.

 The review had been conducted by the FIH Women in Sports Committee, formed in May 2019 and chaired by FIH EB Member and European Hockey Federation president Marijke Fleuren. The FIH said that the reviewed policy “stresses the need to implement gender balance across all hockey institutions (FIH, Continental Federations and National Associations).” “FIH will be holding a number of webinars to promote gender equality, with the first one planned in November,” it said.

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Injury to van Dijk has left Pickford really sad, says Ancelotti

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Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has said the injury suffered by Liverpool’s defender Virgil van Dijk has left goalkeeper Jordon Pickford really sad. Van Dijk had suffered an injury during Liverpool’s Premier League clash against Everton last week. Liverpool on Sunday had said Van Dijk will be undergoing knee surgery as he sustained an injury during Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Everton. 

The centre-back had damaged knee ligaments following an incident involving Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford after six minutes at Goodison Park on Saturday. Van Dijk was required to be substituted and further assessment of the injury revealed that an operation will be needed. “To be clear, we are really sorry for the injury of Virgil van Dijk. Every one of us hopes he can recover soon and well. 

There was this contact with Jordan Pickford: it was mistimed contact. But the fact the Premier League is so fast, it is not so difficult to arrive a little bit later,” the official website of Everton quoted Ancelotti as saying. “Jordan arrived a little bit later but his intention was to try to reach the ball. It was not to hurt Virgil van Dijk. To say it was premeditated, and this and that, in my opinion, is too much. Virgil van Dijk knows this. Jordan is really sad, really disappointed [that he is injured].

 It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football, it can happen,” he added. Van Dijk had taken to Twitter on Sunday, saying: “This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday. I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.

 Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter, and stronger than ever before.” “In football, as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids, family, and everyone at Liverpool, I’m ready for the challenge ahead,” he added.

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RCB’s Siraj shows his class, brings KKR to knees

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RCB’s pace bowler Mohammed Siraj is normally known as a very expensive bowler. His arrival at the bowling end is what the batsmen really wait for. But in this IPL season, Siraj is in a new form altogether. 

By virtue of his excellent bowling performance, Siraj on Wednesday created history as he became the first bowler to bowl two maiden overs in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match. He also picked the important wickets of Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Tom Banton in three overs. With this, Siraj proved that he has not only learnt the skill of saving runs but also knows how to clinch big wickets of the rival teams.

 In his first over, Siraj picked wickets of Rahul and Nitish and in the next over he got rid of Banton. He dismissed Rahul with short of length delivery, and Nitish on an out-swinging yorker delivery. Banton fell prey to scrambled seam delivery involving the edge of the bat nicking it to the keeper. Siraj gave away just eight runs off four overs. The remarkable specialty of his bowling was length ball, short bowling at regular interval in between and scrambled seam balls. 

With these bowling, Siraj wreaked havoc and demolished the big batsmen of KKR. After the match Siraj said when Nitish Rana came into bat, Virat Kohli suggested him to bowl a bouncer. But at the start of his run-up, he changed his mind and pitched it up, which came out well and he got rid of the batsman on the first ball itself. Siraj also said that he did not expect that Virat will give him the new ball. 

The last time he bowled with the new ball was during his first stint with the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017. Siraj said that the moment was a memorable one and provided him happiness. Son of an autorickshaw driver, Siraj has seen many ups and downs in his life. When he got a chance to play in Ranji Trophy five years ago, he proved to be the highest wicket taker by taking 14 wickets at the average of 18.92 on behalf of Hyderabad.

 His career saw an upward swing when he was taken in Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 2.6 crore three years ago. Next year, he was taken in RCB. He proved his utility in limited over cricket, taking 23 wickets in seven matches of Vijay Hazare Trophy. Siraj got a chance to play in One Day against Australia in Adelaide but there he turned out to be an expensive bowler. He got an opportunity to play in T-20 against New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. He took one wicket each time but he could not save runs. 

The good thing is that Virat Kohli has great trust in him. Virat does not get perturbed even if he turns out to be an expensive bowler. Virat keeps inspiring him during the game. After winning the trust of captain, Siraj has also won the hearts of all by performing well with the ball against KKR. Let’s hope Siraj will soon be winning the trust of all in Team India also. 

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Sinking CSK face in-form MI in a do-or-die battle

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Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) dream of entering the play-offs had almost been dashed but the defeat of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by Bangalore has handed them a ray of hope. CSK would look to capitalise on this when they face a confident Mumbai Indians (MI) in their return fixture here on Friday. 

Languishing at the last spot on the po ints table with just six points from 10 matches, CSK need to win all their remaining four games a n d w i l l have to pray that the results of the other matches go in their favour to help them scrape through to the playoffs. The last time CSK and MI met in the ongoing season, CSK had registered a five-wicket win but since then, things have gone awry for Dhoni’s men. 

Nothing has gone CSK’s way and to add to their woes, their most experienced all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has now been ruled out of the league. Undoubtedly, CSK will have to dish out their best to remain in contention for the next stage. While Faf du Plessis has been in good touch with the willow, the others — especially Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu and Skipper MS Dhoni himself — need to accept the lifeline with both hands.

 With Bravo’s departure, the onus of the lower middle-order will fall on Ravindra Jadeja, who too needs to deliver. Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Josh Hazlewood were economical in their last outing. However, the paltry score they were defending didn’t let them hit the ground freely. The spin workload will fall on Jadeja. Imran Tahir is likely to get a chance after warming the bench. On the other hand, MI would aim to get their campaign back on track after a heart-breaking loss to KXIP in their previous outing, which went down to the wire. 

MI have little worries as most of their top-order comprising Quinton de Kock , Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and skipper Rohit Sharma are in form barring the last game when only the South African could fire. With the likes of Krunal and Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard in their middle-order, MI boast of some great finishers in their ranks. 

Their bowling too looks pretty decent with pacer Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult in red hot form. While Boult leaked runs against KXIP, Bumrah was at his lethal best and would aim to replicate the show against a struggling CSK side. Spinners Rahul Chahar and Krunal will be expected to make breakthroughs in the middle overs. 

Overall, MI would not just aim to regain their winning touch but would also try to avenge their defeat the ampaign opener against their arch-rivals. Meanwhile, CSK will aim to fire in unison to remain afloat in the league and with the game being held on a batting-friendly Sharjah track, another spicy affair is most probably on the cards.

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Pandey, Shankar lead SunRisers to 8-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals

Chasing the target of 155 runs, SunRisers Hyderabad got off to a bad start when it lost skipper David
Warner’s wicket in the first over. But then Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar came to the team’s rescue.

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Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar played unbeaten knocks of 83 and 52 respectively as SunRisers Hyderabad defeated Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday. With this win, SunRisers Hyderabad has moved to fifth place in the points table with eight points while Rajasthan Royals has gone down to seventh place with eight points. 

Chasing 155, SunRisers Hyderabad got off to the worst start possible as the side lost skipper David Warner (4) in the very first over. Warner was dismissed by Jofra Archer as he had him caught at the hands of Ben Stokes. 

In his second over, Archer cleanbowled Jonny Bairstow (10) and as a result, SunRisers Hyderabad was reduced to 16/2 in the third over. However, Manish Pandey played a counter-attacking inning in the powerplay and as a result, SunRisers were poised well at 58/2 after six overs. 

Manish Pandey (83*) found support in Vijay Shankar (52*) at the other end, and both batsmen scored runs at a brisk pace for SunRisers. Both batsmen put on an unbeaten partnership of 140 runs for the third wicket, taking their side over the line by eight wickets with 11 balls to spare. Earlier, Jason Holder’s three-wicket haul helped SunRisers Hyderabad restrict Rajasthan Royals to 154/6 in the allotted twenty overs. 

Sent into bat first, Rajasthan Royals got off to a bad start as the side lost its opener Robin Uthappa (19) in the fourth over of the innings via a run-out. However, Ben Stokes found support in Sanju Samson and the duo retrieved the innings for the Royals. Both Samson and Stokes put on 56 runs for the second wicket, but their partnership witnessed a mediocre strike rate as Stokes found it difficult to time the ball. 

SunRisers Hyderabad then came back into the match as the side got back-to-back breakthroughs of Samson (36) and Stokes (30), reducing Royals to 86/3. Samson was dismissed by Jason Holder while Stokes was sent back to the pavilion by Ben Stokes. Rajasthan Royals was given a big blow in the 16th over as Vijay Shankar dismissed in-form batsman Jos Buttler (9). 

Brief Scores: SunRisers Hyderabad 156/2 (Manish Pandey 83*, Vijay Shankar 52*, Jofra Archer 2-21) defeat Rajasthan Royals 154/6 (Sanju Samson 36, Ben Stokes 30, Jason Holder 3-33) by eight wickets.

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RCB PACER SIRAJ CREATES A HISTORY IN IPL

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Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) pacer Mohammad Siraj on Wednesday created history as he became the first bowler to bowl two maiden overs in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match. Siraj achieved the feat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) here at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. KKR won the toss and opted to bat first against RCB. Siraj was seen at his best as his first two overs conceded no runs and he also ended up taking the wickets of Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana. KKR witnessed a horrid start as the side was reduced to 14/4 as Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, and Tom Banton all recorded single-digit scores. KKR made two changes to their playing XI for the match against RCB as the side brought in Tom Banton and Prasidh Krishna in place of Andre Russell and Shivam Mavi. On the other hand, RCB made one change to their playing XI from the last match against Rajasthan Royals. The Virat Kohli-led side brought in Mohammad Siraj in place of Shahbaz Ahmed.

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