India captain Virat Kohli and his England counterpart Joe Root are beset by different challenges as the four-Test series between the two teams gets underway in just over a week’s time.
Kohli has to prove himself as captain all over again after Ajinkya Rahane led India to a Test series win in Australia. India lost the first Test at Adelaide under Kohli’s leadership after which they bounced back to win two out of the remaining three Tests under Rahane.
Root, on the other hand, is firmly ensconced in his captaincy seat. His performance in Sri Lanka, where he racked up 426 runs at an average of 106.5, saw him lead the team to a 2-0 win in the two-Test series by example.
England batsman and opener Rory Burns said that Root leads from the front and the way he batted was a lesson.
“He leads from the front, you have just seen from this Test series. Some of the highlights or sessions I saw, it was pretty incredible to see him go about his business. Leader by example. Easy bloke to follow,” said Burns who had missed the tour of Sri Lanka but will open in India.
However, unlike Kohli, who will lead a settled batting unit at home, Root may have to take the burden of scoring on himself as the England top three is inexperienced in these conditions and isn’t settled as yet.
England are also following a rotation policy as a result of which Jonny Bairstow returned home after the series in Sri Lanka and will not be available for the first two Tests.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain had asked the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to rethink the decision while pointing out that Root, Bairstow and Ben Stokes are the three best players of spin bowling in England camp.
He praised Root especially while pointing out his technical correctness while playing spin bowling. Hussain said that Root doesn’t end up playing across the line like Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley do.
With such issues in batting, the pressure on Root will be immense even though he doesn’t have to worry much about his captaincy. A series loss in India won’t result in him getting axed.
Kohli, on the other hand, is favourite to win the four-Test series as India are playing at home and have a team that is high on confidence after beating Australia in Australia.
The India skipper won’t just have to perform with the bat but also lead the team well.
There are already calls for him to be replaced. A series loss or even a drawn series will raise the pitch of calls for his axing even higher.
Kohli hasn’t batted in Test cricket much since the start of 2020. He has played three Tests – two in February 2020 in New Zealand and one in Australia (Adelaide) in December 2020 and he failed to impress. With just one fifty in this period, he averages 19.33.
Root, on the other hand, has been among runs and has played 10 Test matches since the start of 2020.
While Root has 426 runs from two Tests this year, he scored 464 in eight Tests last year. And while there was no century last year, Root has begun with two big centuries this year – a double ton and a 185 in Galle. Inspiring his teammates to follow his technqiue while batting against spinners will be key for the England captain.
For Kohli though, it will be about reclaiming his spot as the leader.
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Harmeet Desai, Manika Batra off to winning start as Indian paddlers return to action with WTT Contender Doha
Doha [Qatar], March 1 (ANI): Indian table tennis icons Manika Batra and Harmeet Desai started the 2021 season on a winning note as they earned straight-set victories in their respective qualifying round-2 matches at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender Doha on Monday.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Batra registered a 12-10, 14-12, 11-8 victory against her Spanish opponent Sofia-Xuan Zhang in the women’s singles while World No. 73 Desai notched up an easy 11-5, 12-10, 11-6 win against compatriot Anthony Amalraj to progress into the third round of men’s singles qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Mudit Dani and Diya Chitale suffered defeats in their respective singles qualifying round matches.
Two-time national champion Mukherjee failed to get the better of Ukraine’s Tetyana Bilenko 5-11, 3-11, 12-10, 9-11 while Dani, who is ranked 200, was up against World No. 85 Olah Benedek. He grabbed one game against his relatively higher-ranked Finnish opponent before going down 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 6-11.
Chitale started off well against Romania’s Irina Ciobanu with a game lead. However she couldn’t capitalize on the momentum and lost the match 11-8, 9-11, 3-11, 8-11 against the World No. 98.
Achanta Sharath Kamal and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran have received direct entries into the men’s singles main draw while 10 other Indians are playing in the qualifiers at the WTT Contender Doha.
The tournament, which kicks off the 2021 season, is also the first international tournament Indian players are participating in after the lockdown. (ANI)
Virat Kohli becomes first cricketer to hit 100 million followers on Instagram
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Indian skipper Virat Kohli has added another feather to his illustrious cap as he became the first cricketer to hit 100 million followers on photo and video sharing social networking platform Instagram on Monday.
The Indian skipper has joined Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Argentine forward Lionel Messi, Hollywood actor and former pro-wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, American singer-songwriter Beyonce, and Ariana Grande in the 100 million club.
Kohli is also the fourth most followed sportsperson on Instagram. Ronaldo tops the list (sportsperson) with 266 million followers while Messi is second on the list with 187 million followers on the Facebook-owned platform.
Kohli, who holds the top spot in ICC’s ODI batting rankings, made his debut in the format in August 2008. The Indian skipper has scored 12,040 runs in 251 ODIs at an average of 59.31.
Kohli has represented India in 90 Tests, scoring 7,490 runs with the highest of 254*. In T20I cricket, he has played 85 matches, piling 2,928 runs at a strike rate of 138.43.
The Indian skipper is currently gearing up for the fourth and final Test against England which gets underway on Thursday. The hosts are leaving no stone unturned to prepare for the upcoming fixture at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday shared a video on Twitter to give a glimpse of players sweating it out in the nets. In the video, Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane can be seen batting in the nets while Rohit Sharm can be seen having a chat with head coach Ravi Shastri.
The players also worked on their fielding skills, making sure the team is well-prepared in all the departments when they face the English side in the final game of the series.
In the ongoing series, Rohit, Axar Patel, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
If India manage to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side will qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. (ANI)
CAS annuls suspension of Iran Judo Federation
Lausanne [Switzerland], March 1 (ANI): The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday annulled the decision taken by the International Judo Federation (IJF) Disciplinary Commission to suspend the Iran Judo Federation indefinitely.
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued the Arbitral Award in the appeal arbitration procedures between the Islamic Republic of Iran Judo Federation (I.R.I. JF) and the International Judo Federation (IJF) relating to the decisions issued by the IJF Disciplinary Commission which saw the I.R.I. JF indefinitely suspended from all competitions, administrative and social activities organised or authorised by the IJF following an investigation into allegations that, on the occasion of the 2019 World Championships in Tokyo, the Iranian judoka Saied Mollaei had been instructed by the I.R.I. JF to withdraw from competing in order to avoid a potential contest with an Israeli judoka,” the CAS said in a statement.
The statement read that while the CAS Panel determined that the I.R.I. JF committed “severe violations” of the IJF rules, the kind of sanction imposed in the challenged decision of October 22, 2019, had no legal basis in the IJF regulations.
“The I.R.I. JF filed its first appeal at the CAS against the decision on temporary protective measures issued by the IJF Disciplinary Commission on 18 September 2019. This appeal was dismissed, considering that the provisional suspension imposed on the I.R.I. JF was no longer in force. The second appeal filed by the I.R.I. JF was against the decision taken by the IJF Disciplinary Commission on 22 October 2019 in which the suspension from all competitions, administrative and social activities organised or authorised by the IJF was imposed on the I.R.I. JF ‘until the Iran Judo Federation gives strong guarantees and proves that they will respect the IJF Statutes and accept that their athletes fight against Israeli athletes’,” CAS said.
The CAS Panel determined that the I.R.I. JF committed “severe violations of the IJF rules” and that sanctions compliant with the IJF regulations should be imposed on it. However, the panel concluded that the kind of sanction (unlimited suspension) imposed in the challenged decision of 22 October 2019 had no legal basis in the IJF regulations.
Accordingly, the Panel partially upheld the appeal and annulled the decision taken by the IJF Disciplinary Commission on 22 October 2019, according to the statement.
The CAS said the matter has been referred back to the IJF Disciplinary Commission for its eventual further decisions. (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: ‘Cricket fan’ Leach wants Test matches to last longer than two days
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 1 (ANI): Amid the debates over the nature of the pitch that was prepared for the pink-ball Test, England spinner Jack Leach asserted that he would have liked the third Test against India to go longer than two days.
The third Test match got over within two days after the visitors crumbled in front of the India spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Leach said a Test match should last longer than two days but admitted that the hosts outplayed England on Ahmedabad wicket.
“I think that is right. One thing I will say as a cricket fan if I was watching a Test match, I would want it to go longer than two days, that is my only kind of viewing being a cricket fan…. Test match should go on longer than two days, whether that is to the pitch or skill, for me, I am fully concentrating how can I best do on every wicket I play on,” said Leach in a virtual press conference on Monday.
“They outbowled us on that wicket, Ashwin is a world-class bowler, Axar was very good on that wicket. All the talk has been in the media, in the dressing room, we just talk about getting better,” he added.
Though the hosts registered a comprehensive ten-wicket win, the match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners.
England’s defeat in the pink-ball Test inside two days might have raised questions on the quality of the pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium by former cricketers but Leach credited India spinners for outplaying the visiting side.
“I do not have too much to say about the pitch, we got outplayed in those conditions and for me, I am always looking to learn. That’s the great thing about our group, we are all in this mindset and we want to learn from what has been a couple of hard games and put in a good performance so yeah, it was tough, even being a spinner on that wicket comes with tough moments,” said Leach.
“Their spinners bowled really well, I do not think we should take anything away from them by saying bad things about the wicket, they played well and we need to learn from that,” he added.
Leach is now focusing on honing his skills and is not getting distracted by debates surrounding the pitch.
“I do not have any issues with the pitch from a playing point of view, I just want to make an impact in the game as much as possible,” said Leach
“There is a lot of talk on the outside and I am not wanting to get involved in that, that is a distraction to me, all I want to focus is on being the best I can be in any game I play for Somerset or England,” he added.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. England is now out of the WTC final contention after losing the third Test against India. (ANI)
IPC launches Tokyo 2020 anti-doping webpage
Bonn [Germany], March 1 (ANI): The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Monday announced that it has launched a Tokyo 2020 anti-doping dedicated webpage with a summary of key information for National Paralympic Committees, National Anti-Doping Organisations and International Federations ahead of this year’s Paralympic Games.
This new webpage includes information about the IPC Anti-Doping Code, the Tokyo 2020 Doping Control Guidebook, and other key pieces of information for Games participants about the anti-doping programme and how it will be conducted.
“A number of key dates ahead of the Paralympics are highlighted, along with links to a range of Tokyo 2020 resources, to help ensure athletes and support personnel are prepared in the lead up to (and during) the Games,” the IPC said in a statement.
The educational resources include the recently launched ‘ADEL for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics’ e-learning course – a collaboration between the IPC and the World Anti-Doping Agency to educate athletes and coaches participating at the Games.
The IPC also provide ‘PlayTrue2020’ resources, which provide an easy-to-understand explanation of the doping control procedures. PlayTrue2020 is a legacy project for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, led by the Government of Japan and the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) and focussed on promoting sport values.
IPC Anti-Doping Director James Sclater, in a statement, said: “It is important that the IPC launches this webpage, as we want everyone, from athletes to coaches, NPCs to IFs and medical professionals to support staff, to understand the significance and intricacies of anti-doping – and to arrive at Tokyo 2020 well prepared.
“With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games fast approaching, we need to ensure everyone involved is well-informed and understand their rights and obligations prior to the games.” (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: Jeetan Patel expecting visitors to ‘punch back pretty hard’ in fourth Test
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 1 (ANI): Jeetan Patel, who has been appointed as England’s permanent Elite Spin Bowling Coach, said he is expecting the team to “punch back pretty hard” in the fourth Test against India.
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin, India had registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
“They (Axar and Ashwin) have been fantastic in the second and third Test, and it is now for us to combat that in the fourth Test. The conversation today was not to go away from being positive and look to score. One thing that the England side has done well recently is face the adversity and punched against it. So, I expect all of us to punch back pretty hard,” Patel said during a virtual press conference on Monday.
The pink-ball Test saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. After the match, Rohit Sharma had clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even India skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
Reflecting on the pitch, Patel said although they were expecting a spinning surface, they did not expect it to spin as early as it did.
“It is India, we expect to get on spinning surfaces. Maybe, we did not expect it to spin as early as it did… It was a tough pitch to play on and we got on the wrong side of it,” he said.
He added that England players will just have to tweak their batting a bit and make sure they put a decent total on the board if they win the toss.
“I think we just need to tweak a bit and be a bit smart about how we about it. The pink ball had so many unknowns. And how it reacted was certainly unknown for us. This is a learning part of playing in Asia. You are never quite sure how things are going to play out. We are going to have to find ways to make sure we put a decent total, if we win the toss,” Patel said.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side will qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and they will take on New Zealand in the summit clash. (ANI)
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