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Gunneswaran finishes runner-up at Orlando open

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India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran finished runner-up at the Orlando Open after losing the final of the ATP Challenger event to American Brandon Nakashima. Gunneswaran lost 3-6, 4-6 in the $52,080 hard court tournament.

Gunneswaran, 31, had eight changes to break Nakashima but he could convert none of them. This is the second consecutive time that Gunneswaran has finished runner-up, having reached final of the Cary Challenger last week.

The result helped Prajnesh to move to 128 from 137 on the ATP Tour rankings. He had earlier risen to the number one spot among Indian male singles players after reaching the final, displacing Sumit Nagal.

Nakashima, meanwhile, at the age of 19 is the youngest American to win a Challenger title since Francis Tiafoe in 2017.

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Ind vs Eng: Vaughan criticises visitors’ squad selection for first two Tests

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New Delhi [India], January 23 (ANI): Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Saturday criticised England’s team selection for the first two Tests against India.
According to Vaughan, the best batsman in the English top-order was left out of the first half of the four-match Test series in India.
Referring to Jonny Bairstow, Vaughan took to Twitter and wrote, “The only player in England’s Top 3 that’s playing the sub continent conditions with any control or calmness is resting for the first 2 Tests against the best Team in world at home #India !!! The world is officially mad … #SLvENG.”

England is currently playing a two-match Test series in Sri Lanka and Bairstow has looked promising in the series so far while openers Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley struggled to score runs in sub-continent conditions.
Bairstow was left out of the 16-man squad for the first two Tests in India while Crawley and Sibley are part of that squad. The national selectors have rested Bairstow, Sam Curran, and Mark Wood for the first and second Tests in India.

Under the leadership of Joe Root, England will be looking to show a spirited performance to bolster their chances of making it to the finals of the World Test Championship in June.
England’ squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire).
Reserves: James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey).
India and England are set to lock horns in four Tests, five T20Is, and three ODIs. The first Test is set to begin on February 5 in Chennai. (ANI)

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Liverpool isn’t playing poorly, they just ain’t winning: Bruno Fernandes

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Manchester [UK], January 23 (ANI): Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes has played down Liverpool’s slump in form, saying that every team can have moments where they are not able to spring together favourable results.
Manchester United and Liverpool are set to lock horns against each other on Sunday in the FA Cup. Fernandes has asked his team to bring their A-game to the table in order to defeat the Reds.
Liverpool has not picked up a victory since a 7-0 demolition of Crystal Palace on December 19. The side has also managed to score just once in their last five games.
“I think teams have moments. I don’t think Liverpool are playing poorly. I think they don’t win and this is the point. When teams don’t win, everyone talks about that. When players don’t score, everyone talks about that. I feel that on me because I know the standard is high, because I arrived and I scored a lot of goals and make a lot of assists, and everyone is wanting goals and assists from me,” the official website of United quoted Fernandes as saying.
“It is the same — everyone expects goals from Salah, from Firmino and from Mane. They are not scoring in the last games and it starts feeling like ‘oh, they are not playing well’. They create, they play, but the other teams are playing better and, as I said before, they have more qualities to play. Every team goes there to play maybe without the pressure of the fans,” he added.
United and Liverpool had played out a goalless draw at Anfield in the Premier League last weekend. United is currently at the top of the Premier League standings, while Liverpool finds itself at the fourth spot.
“Teams play a little bit more comfortably and, as I say, I think it is a moment. We don’t have to look at that moment because big teams and big players can show in every moment. In the past already, I have seen Manchester United playing for a long time and I know what that game means for the fans. Everyone knows and of course, for us, it means a lot because it is a cup game and it is a chance to put one of the strongest teams who are in the cup with us out,” said Fernandes.
“So we have to take that. Of course, we have so many teams in the cup in this moment that maybe you can have an easier game than this, but if you want to win the cup then you have to beat the biggest teams, so we have a chance now to beat one of the best that is left in the FA Cup,” he added. (ANI)

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Pakistan women’s cricket team to tour Zimbabwe for five games

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Durban [South Africa], January 23 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday announced that their women’s cricket team’s tour of Africa was extended after it was agreed that they will play three 50-over matches and two T20Is in Zimbabwe after their tour of South Africa.
As a result, this will be Zimbabwe women cricket team’s first series since May 2019.
The women’s side will play their last match against South Africa in Durban on February 3, and then they will travel to Harare for five additional matches, which will be played from February 11-20.
The 50-over matches will not be classified as official ODIs as Zimbabwe does not have an ODI status, but the 20-over games will be internationals.
These additional matches have been scheduled to help both Pakistan and Zimbabwe to prepare for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021 Qualifier, which is expected to be staged in July.
Pakistan women cricket team’s head coach David Hemp said: “This is an excellent news for our team as we need sufficient competitive matches so that we go into the World Cup qualifiers as best prepared as practically possible in these difficult times.”
Earlier, in the first ODI between Pakistan and South Africa women, the hosts emerged triumphant by three runs. (ANI)

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Thailand Open: Mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj, Ashwini lose in semi-final

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Bangkok [Thailand], January 23 (ANI): Indian mixed doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Ashwini Ponnappa have been ousted from the Thailand Open after losing in the semifinal on Saturday.
Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai cruised to the final after beating Rankireddy and Ponnappa 22-20, 18-21, 21-12 in the encounter that lasted about an hour.
After losing the hard-fought first game, the Indian pair came out all guns blazing to claim the second game despite the strong challenge from the opponents.
In the final game of the encounter, both the teams gave their all in an effort to march to the summit clash, but the Indian duo failed to outclass the local pair. The Thai pair went to the mid-game break with a two-point advantage and continued their dominance in the rest of the match and won the game 21-12.
Rankireddy and Ponnappa were the only Indian players left in the competition after others failed to win their respective matches in the competition.
Earlier in the day, Satwiksairaj and his men’s doubles partner Chirag Shetty lost in the semi-final.
Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik defused the Indian attack in two straight sets 21-18, 21-18 to sail into the finals of the showpiece event. Satwiksairaj and Chirag were defeated by eight-seeded Malaysian pair despite their valiant effort in the semi-final clash. (ANI)

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SAI modifies SOPs partially to ensure athletes returning from competitions can continue training

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New Delhi [Delhi], January 23 (ANI): The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is coming up with various proactive measures in order to ensure that there is no drop in intensity of Olympic-bound athletes.
As a part of these measures, SAI has proactively amended the quarantine regulations for those returning to its centres from various competitions. In partial modification of the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) issued on September 11 and December 3, the SAI has ensured that athletes returning to national camps and other training centres are able to continue training without compromising safety.
In a statement, SAI said that “the measure has been introduced to ensure that athletes are able to maintain continuity in their training programme. The athlete will be able to resume his or her training routine, except that he or she will be kept away from athletes who remained in the bio-bubble for the first seven days and until he or she returns a negative RT-PCR test.”
With six months left for the Tokyo Olympic Games and with domestic and international competition resuming, athletes have or will begin competing in various disciplines to either gain qualification for the Olympic Games or secure competitive exposure.
Asking them to quarantine themselves for seven days each time they return to base from competition would adversely affect their training as they seek to maintain their periodisation cycle. SAI has also told the heads of all its training facilities that athletes returning from various competitions should be housed in a separate hostel or block of hostels till their RT-PCR test is negative at the end of seven days so that athletes do not come into contact with those who remained in the bio-bubble.
The heads of all SAI centres and the coaches have been instructed to draw up a proper schedule so that athletes returning from the competition can use the field of play, gym and sports science facilities to ensure continuity of training, but without compromising the safety of those athletes who remained in the respective centres.
Similarly, all centres have been advised to make separate dining arrangements for athletes returning from competition till their RT-PCR test report becomes available. In places where it is not possible to create a separate dining area, they will make a detailed schedule to prevent the mingling of such persons with those who stayed back in the camp. (ANI)

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ISL 7: Looking for a spark, Bengaluru face struggling Odisha

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Margao (Goa) [India], January 23 (ANI): Bengaluru FC find themselves in a tough spot in the Indian Super League (ISL). The team has lost five of their last six games. After the exit of Carles Cuadrat, interim coach Naushad Moosa has not been able to turn things around. On Sunday though, he has the chance to spark a recovery when they face ISL’s bottom-dwellers Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium.
“A win gives us three points and it will push us higher in the table. Just a matter of winning one game. Just that one win is very important for us. The dynamics will change entirely,” Moosa said in an ISL release.
Bengaluru is in the seventh spot, a position the team is not too familiar with, but still has a chance to progress into the knockout phase.
“Of course, the (position on the) points table is something we are not used to. They know the importance of each match now. We are being positive. Apart from the top two, all are very close. We have to keep fighting,” added Moosa, who stressed on the importance of not conceding easy goals if they are to make it to the playoffs.
Bengaluru had a good game against Kerala but the result wasn’t in their favour. However, Moosa believes that his side can win against Odisha, if they take their chances.
Meanwhile, Odisha has won just one match so far, and coach Stuart Baxter would be aiming to register his second win in the competition. But the Englishman believes his side will have to defend strongly and play their best in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“We had chances to beat bigger clubs like ATKMB but to do that against anybody — not just Bengaluru — we have to defend well, take our chances and play our own game. If we do that with quality, I think we have shown that we can run everybody close,” Baxter said. (ANI)

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