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I-League: Litmus test for Real Kashmir against Churchill Brothers

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 8 (ANI): Real Kashmir FC will look to build on their emphatic victory and displace table-toppers Churchill Brothers when the two sides meet at the KBK Stadium in Kolkata on Monday.
With a game in hand, the Snow Leopards are three points behind Churchill brothers. A victory will help the David Robertson coached side to go top of the I-League, dethroning the Red Machines. With Real Kashmir coming on the back of a 6-0 win over Indian Arrows, the Snow Leopards are optimistic about a positive result.
Speaking at the official pre-match press conference, coach Robertson said, “We played a good game against the Indian Arrows. You get very few matches like this in a season. And, it was good to score that many goals in the season. It’s good to see when we put away the chances we created.”
“There is always room for improvement. We are up in front of a very tough opponent. Every time, we have played them in previous seasons, it has been a close affair. Tomorrow will be no different!”
“They have had a good start, like ourselves. They have played a game more than we have had. The league is very tight, and any opponent can beat anyone,” the Scottish coach added.
Defender Dharmaraj Ravanan said, ” We are ready for tomorrow’s match. We know how important the game is. We are focused, and ready to fight for the three points. We don’t feel much pressure. Like every season, we fight and give our best. And, we are going to try to do the same thing tomorrow.”
After a brilliant start to the season, Churchill Brothers have had a slight blip in the last two games, drawing to TRAU, and then Aizawl. Despite that, the Red Machines still sit on the top of the I-League. However, clash with Real Kashmir – a battle between the unbeaten, will be a significant test for Fernando Varela’s side.
Speaking at the pre-match virtual meet, Varela said, “We are prepared for them. We respect Real Kashmir as an opponent. They are a complete team. They have talented players like Danish Farooq. They also have a good quality of foreign players- Roberston, Haroon Amiri, and others.”
Churchill Brothers lost their star striker Clayvin Zuniga to injury in the game against TRAU. There have been a few concerns over the lack of goals since his injury.
However, Varela downplayed the concerns saying, “I am not worried that we have drawn the last two games. In six matches, we have created many chances to score, and we will continue to do so.”
Midfielder Shubert Pereira, said, “The team is united before this huge clash. We are working together in training, and the team morale is high before the game.” (ANI)

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Pakistan reach 188/2 before rain washes out Day 2

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Azhar Ali reached his 34th career fifty as only 38 balls’ play was possible on the second day of the second Test in which Pakistan added 27 runs to their overnight score to reach 188 for two against Bangladesh on Sunday.

After there was no play in the first session, play resumed following an early lunch and Pakistan began confidently and convincingly before rain halted play after 6.2 overs. Shortly before rain ended the second day’s play, Azhar Ali hit back to back boundaries off Ebadot Hossain to complete his 34th 50 in his 91st Test. When day’s play was finally called off, Azhar was batting on 52 after beginning the day at 36.

Babar Azam, who was 60 overnight in Pakistan’s 161 for two, started impressively with a boundary off the first ball of the day and was still at the crease on 71 with eight fours and a six.

The two batters have so far added 118 runs for the unfinished third-wicket partnership.Brief Scores: Pakistan 188/2 (Babar Azam 71* Azhar Ali 52*; Taijul Islam 2-49) v Bangladesh

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VAUGHAN BACKS CUMMINS TO EXCEL AS AUSTRALIA TEST SKIPPER

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Former England skipper Michael Vaughan feels fast bowler Pat Cummins will be able to lead Australia in the longest format despite the pacer’s workload. Cummins was last week named Australian men’s Test cricket team captain following the announcement of Tim Paine taking an indefinite break from all cricket. Vaughan though admitted that he isn’t in the favour of fast bowlers being the captain of the side but backed “high class player” Cummins to do the job for Australia.

“Never been one to think Quick Bowlers can be Captains. The workload the reason why it’s more difficult but I do think @patcummins30 looks the type of person who could make it work .. Very calm personality & obviously high class player so it should work .. #Ashes,” Vaughan tweeted.

Cummins on Sunday revealed the playing XI for the upcoming first Ashes Test, beginning Wednesday at the Gabba. Travis Head will bat at number five while Mitchell Starc has also found a place in the bowling attack.

On the other hand, England skipper Joe Root opted to not disclose the playing XI three days ahead of the game. “We’ve got all the options on the table but we’re not going to name a team just yet. We’ll have to see the forecast and how that pitch changes over the next couple of days,” cricket.com.au quoted Root as saying.

Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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UPCOMING ASHES WILL DEFINE MY CAPTAINCY, SAYS ROOT

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England skipper Joe Root on Sunday admitted that the upcoming Ashes will define his captaincy. England and Australia will lock horns in five-match Ashes, beginning Wednesday at the Gabba. “Absolutely it is (on the line), you look at how hard it has been for English captains and English teams over the years. It’s been something that doesn’t happen very often,” Sydney Morning Herald quoted Root as saying.

“Of course it will define my captaincy, I’m not naive enough to think that it won’t. But what a great opportunity. I can’t wait for the series to get going,” he added. Further talking about the series, the England captain said: “You look at some of the players, some of the individuals, some of the performances guys have put in… the senior guys have done it time and time again.”

“The junior guys have shown glimpses of what they can do and their potential. What better stage to really grab a series and make an announcement on the international stage. I’m an Ashes player and I want to live in the history of this great rivalry. That carrot is there for everyone,” he added.

Australia captain Pat Cummins on Sunday revealed the playing XI for the upcoming first Ashes Test, beginning Wednesday at the Gabba. Travis Head will bat at number five while Mitchell Starc has also found a place in the bowling attack.

Earlier, Tim Paine had stepped down as the Australia captain after a sexting scandal and Cummins was appointed as the new leader. Steve Smith will don the hat of vice-captain.Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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Something every bowler dreams of: Ashwin lauds Ajaz Patel’s feat

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India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday lauded New Zealand’s Ajaz Patel for becoming just the third bowler in the history of the game to pick all ten wickets in a single Test innings.

Ajaz had achieved the feat on Day 2 of the ongoing Wankhede Test between India and New Zealand. “It’s a stuff of dreams. Someone who’s born in Mumbai, went to New Zealand, migrated, made a living out there, like a typical middle-class family, comes back to Mumbai, gets his wickets and not just 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5, he’s got all the 10 in an innings. It’s something every bowler dreams of. I watched Anil Kumble pick up those 10 wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla. In fact, I remember going to Bangalore, the umpire who did umpiring from Anil Kumble’s end was Mr Jayaprakash,” Ashwin told host broadcaster Star Sports before the start of Day 3.

“He had a visiting card with all the ten dismissals. I remember that very clearly while I was at the NCA. I don’t know if Anil Chaudhary can put up a visiting card like that but surely Ajaz Patel can do that. I am very pleased for him, very happy,” he added. Mohammed Siraj scalped three wickets while Ravichandran Ashwin registered four wickets as New Zealand was bundled out for 62 after Ajaz Patel had taken all ten wickets to dismiss India for 325 in the first innings.

“Wankhede is one pitch where the ball can turn and you can get a few good deliveries but if you have the idea and you’re set, it’s a place where stopping the runs of a batter can be incredibly hard. It’s a lightning outfield, it’s got bounce, the margin of error as a spinner is very less,” said Ashwin.

“Having played cricket on red soil surfaces from childhood, I understand how it works and I thought he (Mayank) got his tempo right. He played his shots, put the bowlers under pressure, batted beautifully. He was waiting for those runs and a team man like Mayank getting those runs is a pleasing sight,” he added.

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AJAZ RECORDS BEST BOWLING FIGURES AGAINST INDIA IN TEST

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New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel recorded the best figures against India in the history of Test cricket on Sunday. The Kiwi spinner achieved this feat in the ongoing second Test here at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Sunday, where he recorded the figures of 14-225. In the first innings, he became the third bowler in the history of the game to pick all ten wickets in a single Test innings. Coming to the match, India declared the innings after racing the score of 267/7 on Day 3 and gave the target of 540 to the kiwis.

Resuming at 142/2 post lunch Shubman Gill kept the scoreboard moving along with skipper Virat Kohli and the duo took India’s total beyond the 150-run mark. The duo hardly faced any difficulty in facing the Kiwi spinners Rachin Ravindra and William Somerville reaching the fifty-run partnership. Kohli-Gill took India’s lead beyond 450-run mark. Gill once again failed to make a big score after getting set as he was caught in short extra-cover by Tom Latham of Rachin Ravindra’s bowling. The first wicket was bagged by a Kiwi bowler in the match apart from Ajaz Patel.

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Hosts dominate Kiwis, need five wickets for series win

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Team India dominated Day 3 of the second Test against New Zealand as the hosts now required five wickets for the series win here at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Sunday.New Zealand batters Daryl Mitchell and Henry Nicholls were the only positive for the visitors on Day 3 as Kiwis score read 140/5 at the end of Day 3 of the ongoing second Test against India. Resuming the third session at 13/1, Ravichandran Ashwin struck again as he scalped two wickets and sent back Will Young (20) and Ross Taylor (6) in the 15th and 17th over respectively.

Following two big dismissals, Mitchell (60) and Nicholls (36*) kept the scoreboard moving for the visitors but Indian bowlers had other plans in store and spinner Axar Patel showed Mitchell the way to the dugout. Later, Tom Blundell also departed without opening his account.

At the end of Day 3, the Kiwis score was 140/5 with Nicholls and Rachin Ravindra (2) standing unbeaten at the crease. The visitors still need to cross a huge mountain of 400 runs in order to win the game.

Earlier, India declared the innings at 276/7 setting New Zealand a target of 540 when Ajaz Patel dismissed Jayant Yadav out caught and bowled picking up his 4th wicket of the innings and 14th wicket of the match.

The left-arm spinner finished with figures of 14-225 the best bowling figure in Test matches against India and the 2nd best bowling figure by a New Zealander after Sir Richard Hadlee who took 15 wickets conceding 123 runs against Australia in Brisbane in 1985.Kiwis once again did not get a good start as Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Tom Latham leg before wicket for just 6 with only 13 runs on the board.

Brief Scores: India 325 and 276/4 decl (Mayank Agarwal 62, Cheteshwar Pujara 47, Shubman Gill 47; Ajaz Patel 4-106); New Zealand 62 and 140/5 (Daryl Mitchell 60, Henry Nicholls 36*, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/27).

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