I-League: Each match is like a final for us, says TRAU coach Nandakumar - The Daily Guardian
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I-League: Each match is like a final for us, says TRAU coach Nandakumar

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 10 (ANI): Manipur-based club Tiddim Road Union Athletic (TRAU) coach Nandakumar isn’t surprised by his team’s performance in the ongoing I-League but has cautioned his players to not take anything for granted.
TRAU and coach Nandakumar have been a revelation in the I-League season so far. The dark horses are perched at third in the I-League table with ten points out of seven matches, three points adrift of leaders Churchill Brothers FC Goa.
Although many critics would have brushed TRAU off for a mid-table finish, Nandakumar’s tactical genius has ensured that they belong with the leading pack and are not letting go anytime soon.
“I am not surprised that we are in this position. The squad has the ability and the potential to be here and stay here. However, at the same time, we cannot take anything for granted and we have to keep working hard and fighting in every game,” the I-League website quoted Nandakumar as saying.
The coach now wants his side to treat each game as a final match. His focus is not on winning the I-League final but on clinching the upcoming games one at a time.
“We are taking one match at a time and each match is like a final for us. We have to keep gathering points and keep continuing our form. Winning the league is not the focus, our next match is,” said Nandakumar
Seventy five per cent of TRAU’s goals in the Hero I-League season thus far have come in the first fifteen minutes of the match. Komron Tursunov’s 9-second strike against Real Kashmir and then a 6th-minute goal in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Aizawl FC prove how Nandakumar’s team adopts a highly attacking stance in the opening quarter of the match.
Counter attacks have been the go-to strategy for TRAU. They have made an average of 2.7 passes to find the net and 67 per cent of their goals have come from counters, meaning a swift blitzkrieg reaps dividends for them time and again despite having a conversion rate of just 28 per cent.
Although TRAU have conceded seven goals so far, they have the second most challenges in the league with 88, narrowly behind Chennai City FC with 95.
With 51 defensive challenges, TRAU’s back four has kept out the likes of Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen. However, two clean sheets to their name is an indication that there is still room for improvement in the defence.
Even in the latter half of the season, TRAU seems to be hanging out with the big boys of Real Kashmir, Churchill Brothers, and Mohammedan SC, matching step for step and point for point.
A solid defensive performance in Tuesday’s 1-0 saw TRAU execute counter-attacking football to the fullest, with the only goal of the game coming in the 6th minute through star striker Komron Tursunov. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Never thought of WTC, just took one series at a time, says Shastri

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 6 (ANI): As India booked a place in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) against New Zealand, head coach Ravi Shastri said the side did not think of the Test championship and took it as one series at a time.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Shastri said changing the rule of the WTC qualification in between the tournament when India was leading the table wasn’t something that impressed the boys.
“It’s a great feeling to win the series. It’s satisfying to see the youngsters perform in tough situations. The way Pant and Washi played… pressure was on us but from there to get to 360 was incredible. The boys just took one series at a time. Never thought of the Test championship. Things got changed when we were top of the table and when we were not playing. The first Test in Chennai could have been different with a bit more rest,” Shastri said in the post-match presentation.
Earlier, ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series against England, India skipper Virat Kohli had said the WTC is a distraction for them as the team is already motivated enough to play Test cricket or any form of the game.
“To be brutally honest it (WTC) might work for teams that are not motivated enough to play Test cricket. Teams like us who are motivated to play Test cricket and want to win Test matches and keep the Indian cricket team at the top of the world in Test cricket we have no issues whatsoever whether it is WTC or not,” Kohli had said in a virtual press conference.
“I think for teams like us, it is just a distraction when you start thinking of WTC. Eventually, it is only a game of cricket. World Cup final, semifinal anything you take it is the game of cricket at the end of the day. And if you are not motivated to play a normal game of cricket and extra motivated to play a game of cricket which has some incentive to it for me, as an individual that is unacceptable. We as a team have never played with that mindset. For us any game is important, we are going to go for result whenever an opportunity presents itself that’s why people want to watch us as a team now,” he had added. (ANI)

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Pant was told he’s got to lose a bit of weight and work hard on his keeping and he has responded: Shastri

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 6 (ANI): India head coach Ravi Shastri heaped praise on wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and called him a magnificent talent as he displayed great performance throughout the series with both bat and wicket-keeping gloves.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Pant played a knock of 101 runs in the first innings which Shastri termed as the best counter-attacking innings he has ever seen in India.
“Pant has been simply magnificent. We were hard on him. Nothing comes easy. He was told in no uncertain terms that he has got to respect the game a little more. He’s got to lose a bit of weight and work hard on his keeping. We know the talent he has and he has responded. He has worked like hell for the last few months and the results are here to see. Yesterday’s innings was the best counter-attacking innings I have seen in India,” Shastri said in the post-match presentation.
Shastri further talked about the first innings partnerships which Pant had with Rohit Sharma and Washington Sundar.
“It was a two-phase innings. He built a partnership with Rohit playing against his nature — to do that is not easy — and to turn it on after 50. Keeping has been magnificent and Washi was outstanding too,” he said.
It was a no-show from the English batsmen once again as they looked completely clueless after walking into the middle in the post-lunch session with the score on 6/0. Dan Lawrence (50) was the only player who had some answer to the duo of Ashwin and Axar as none of the other batsmen seemed to have the technical acumen to dig in, barring skipper Joe Root (30).
But once Ashwin sent back Root, it was all about delaying the humiliation for the English batsmen. Ashwin picking up Jonny Bairstow for a golden duck only added to England’s misery. (ANI)

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Not at all disappointed to miss my maiden Test ton: Sundar

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Ahmedabad [Gujarat], March 6 (ANI): Bowling all-rounder Washington Sundar, who played a pivotal role in India’s emphatic innings win in the fourth Test against England, doesn’t regret missing out on what would have been a well-deserved maiden hundred for him.
Sundar was left stranded on 96 as India got dismissed for 365 in their first innings on the third day of the Test match here at the Narendra Modi Stadium. “To win my first series at home is amazing and feels great. I am not at all disappointed to miss the hundred. The 100 will come when it’s the right time for me. I am happy to contribute to the team,” said Sundar after the completion of the match.
The off-spinner played three matches in the Test series against England in which he scored 181 runs, besides picking two wickets. The 21-year-old, in his debut game in Australia, had also scored valuable 82 runs in the series decided at The Gabba, besides scalping four wickets, thus helping India win the Border-Gavaskar series 2-1.
He further said that the pitch was very good to bat on and all it required was a bit of application from the batters.
“To be honest, the pitch was very good to bat on. Credit to (James) Anderson, (Ben) Stokes for getting assistance on this surface, they bowled really well. The wicket is still good to bat on. If you apply yourself you can score,” Sundar said.
With the win, Virat Kohli’s men also qualified for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final where they will face New Zealand at the Lord’s from June 18 to 22. (ANI)

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Axar Patel equals Dilip Doshi’s record for most wickets for India in debut Test series

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 6 (ANI): India all-rounder Axar Patel registered yet another five-wicket haul to become the joint highest wicket-taker in a debut Test series against England here at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Saturday.
Axar missed the first Test but took a five-wicket haul in the second innings of the second Test. The left-arm spinner then spun a web and bagged two five hauls in the third Test.
With a five-for in the second innings of the fourth Test, Axar equalled Dilip Doshi’s record of most wickets (27) in a debut Test series for India. While Doshi had taken the 27 wickets in six matches, Axar achieved the feat in just three games.
Axar along with Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web as the hosts won the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs.
While Ashwin picked his 30th five-wicket haul during the course of the England innings on Saturday, Axar picked his fourth as India stormed into the final of the World Test Championship after sealing the series 3-1 on the third day of the Test.
He might not have impressed with his batting but Test deputy Ajinkya Rahane was spot on with his low catches. If Axar and Ashwin starred with the ball, it was a masterclass display of slip catching by Rahane.
With this win, Team India roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC).
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position. (ANI)

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Concerned about all sportsmen, but Olympic-bound athletes to get vaccinated first: Rijiju

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By Nitin Srivastava
New Delhi [India], March 6 (ANI): Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Saturday once again echoed the sentiments that Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes will be given priority for the coronavirus vaccine followed by other athletes.
“We will take care of our elite athletes thereafter all the junior athletes will be taken care of. But the focus is on Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes, they will be given priority because safety is utmost important. If any player gets infected at this point in time it will really spoil their chances of competing in the Olympics because if you are infected then you have to follow the quarantine and take medication then your dream is over so that’s why the athletes welfare is our priority,” Rijiju told ANI.
Earlier, Rijiju had said that Tokyo Olympic-bound athletes will get the coronavirus jab after the vaccination of the COVID warriors.
“When the vaccination starts for others — after Covid warriors — we want to give it to our players first especially the Olympic-bound athletes. First of all, we have to ensure that Covid warriors get the vaccine because they are the ones who protect society. Then the next turn will come to the athletes, we come at the last. Our athletes are in the forefront,” Rijiju had said.
When asked whether BCCI communicated for the vaccination, the minister said, “We are talking about all the sports and all the players but Olympic players will remain our priority because that’s time-bound communication we have with every sports federation I can not just talk about one federation. Every federation is part of the fraternity and we are concerned about all the players. We have to abide by all the methodology being adopted by the health ministry.”
Rijiju further spoke about Sunday’s Delhi marathon and said, “This marathon is special because it’s Olympic qualifier also players will set their own timing standards. It is basically the Olympic test tomorrow, runners are very confident and I hope that they will perform well.” (ANI)

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India qualifies for WTC final, to face New Zealand at Lord’s in June

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Ahmedabad [Gujarat], March 6 (ANI): Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position.
“That victory against England means India finish the league phase of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship with a fine view from the top of the table,” read a tweet on the official Twitter handle of the International Cricket Council.
The Black Caps had qualified for the WTC final following the postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia. In November last year, the ICC had confirmed that the WTC points system would be amended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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