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Ind vs Eng, 2nd Test: Toss wouldn’t have mattered much in this game, says Kohli

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Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 16 (ANI): After scripting a thrilling win in the second Test against England, India skipper Virat Kohli said the toss wouldn’t have mattered much in the game.
India levelled the four-match Test series 1-1 against England after an emphatic 317-run win in the second Test here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
India had won the toss and opted to bat first in the second Test. The hosts scored 329 in their first innings and 286 runs in the second essay. However, England wasn’t able to get into the groove in the second Test as they failed to even get past the 200-run mark.
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan on Sunday had raised questions over the Chennai pitch as the Joe Root-led side crumbled to 134 in their first innings. Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen had sarcastically questioned the “brave wicket” prepared for the second Test.
But Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin hit fifty and a century respectively on a turning track which has assisted spinners to show batting wasn’t that difficult as it was claimed to be by former cricketers.
“The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we showed more application with the bat. We didn’t panic out there looking at the turn and bounce, we showed grit, got into the game and scored 600 runs in the game. We know our bowlers would do the job for us if we put up these runs,” Kohli told host broadcaster Star Sports.
“The toss wouldn’t have mattered much in this game to be honest, because if you looked at our second innings, we got 300 as well. It wasn’t unfair if the toss went either way. Both teams should be in the game from the first session onwards, whether it is on spinning to seaming tracks, and that exactly was the case in this game,” he added.
Rishabh Pant pulled off a brilliant stumping earlier in the morning to draw the first blood on day four. Kohli praised Pant for his hard work and said the side wants him to improve as a keeper.
“Rishabh Pant has really worked hard in Australia, when he moves with the gloves you can see the difference in his reactions. He has shed a lot of weight and has worked hard on himself,” said Kohli.
“It is showing, the way he kept with so much turn and bounce, credit to him. We want him to keep improving as a keeper because we know the value he brings to the team,” he added.
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship after completing an impressive victory over England in the second Test to draw level in the four-match series.
The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India. (ANI)

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Afg vs Zim: Rashid Khan likely to miss first Test due to finger injury

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Abu Dhabi [UAE], March 1 (ANI): Due to a finger injury, Afghanistan star spinner Rashid Khan is likely to miss the first Test against Zimbabwe that will kick-start on Tuesday.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, Rashid’s minor fracture is yet to heal and the spinner might miss the first Test.
Although there is no official update, last week Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) had said that the final call on his inclusion in the first test will be taken after a reassessment of his injury on Sunday.
“Rashid Khan is under-treatment by the relevant health officials in the UAE and the final call on his inclusion in the first test will be taken after a reassessment of his injury on February 28,” the ACB said in an official statement.
Rashid was injured during his stint in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) where he played for Lahore Qalandars Franchise.
Asghar Afghan will lead the Afghanistan side. The squad also features many new faces such as Munir Ahmad Kakar, Shahidullah Kamal, Bahir Shah Mohboob, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Abdul Malik, Saleem Safi, and Zia Ur Rahman Akbar who will play their first Test if included in playing XI.
Afghanistan squad: Asghar Afghan (c), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Javed Ahmadi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afsar Zazai, Nasir Jamal, Abdul Malik, Munir Ahmad Kakar, Shahidullah Kamal, Bahir Shah Mohboob, Rashid Khan, Amir Hamza, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Saleem Safi, Wafadar Momand, Zia Ur Rahman Akbar, Yamin Ahmadzai
The first Test will begin on March 2 while the second game is slated to be played from March 10. The focus will then shift to the shortest format of the game as the two sides lock horns in the five-match T20I series from March 17. (ANI)

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Guardiola hails Mumbai City FC after club’s ‘incredible success’ in ISL

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Manchester [UK], March 1 (ANI): Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Monday congratulated Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City FC after the Sergio Lobera-led side secured their first League Winners Shield.
Mumbai City made the most of their chances as they dished out a complete performance to beat ATK Mohun Bagan 2-0 at the GMC Stadium Bambolim, here on Sunday.
With this win, the Mumbai-based club also secured a place in the AFC Champions League having already qualified for the ISL playoffs.
ISL Shield Winners Mumbai City FC will play their two-legged semi-finals against fourth-placed FC Goa. Guardiola hopes Mumbai City FC would continue the winning momentum in the playoffs too.
“Incredible success. It is part of the CFG family. Incredible success. It is part of the CFG family. Now comes the play-off. Hopefully, they can do well. Congratulations to all the people. Every league is tricky and when you win it is well deserved,” said Guardiola as tweeted by Manchester City.
ATK Mohun Bagan, who finished second in the league stage, will lock horns with third-placed NorthEast United FC.
FC Goa also qualified for the semi-finals of the ISL after playing out a goalless draw against Hyderabad FC on Sunday.
ISL 2020-21 Playoff fixtures:

Friday, March 5 – FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC – PJN Stadium, Fatorda
Saturday, March 6 – NorthEast United FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan – GMC Stadium, Bambolim
Monday, March 8 – Mumbai City FC vs FC Goa – GMC Stadium, Bambolim
Tuesday, March 9 – ATK Mohun Bagan vs NorthEast United FC – PJN Stadium, Fatorda
Saturday, March 13 – TBD – PJN Stadium, Fatorda (ANI)

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Vijender Singh excited, confident ahead of his return to boxing ring

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Indian boxer Vijender Singh, who is set to make his return to the ring on March 19, said he is excited and confident ahead of the bout.
This time, he will be exchanging fists in Vegas-style boxing on the Majestic Pride Casino Ship in Goa.
“I am going to fight in Goa and I am totally prepared. I have been training since January. Everything is on track at the moment… I am confident and very excited,” Vijender told ANI.
The first-of-its-kind fight will be held on the rooftop deck of the Majestic Pride Casino Ship — who have been roped in as the venue partner. The Majestic Pride is docked in the Mandovi River in Panaji, Goa.
The announcement of Vijender’s opponent is yet to be made.
Vijender also reflected on the COVID-19 outbreak and said sports suffered a lot because of the pandemic.
“Still we are facing difficult times in India (due to the coronavirus pandemic) as in few states, the cases are rising. But I am hoping for the best and hoping that we will go through this situation. Sports has suffered a lot because of this pandemic, and the Olympics were also postponed,” he said. (ANI)

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PSL 6: Islamabad-Quetta match postponed to Tuesday as Fawad Ahmed tests positive for coronavirus

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Karachi [Pakistan], March 1 (ANI): The Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators match has been rescheduled for Tuesday after spinner Fawad Ahmed returned a positive COVID-19 test.
Islamabad United informed that Fawad was put in isolation two days ago as he had shown symptoms while all the other team members have tested negative for coronavirus and have been cleared to play.
“One of our players, Fawad Ahmed tested positive for Covid and was immediately put in isolation 2 days ago. All other Islamabad United players and members have tested negative and have been cleared to play. We wish Fawad a speedy recovery,” Islamabad United tweeted.
The Pakistan Super League (PSL) match which was scheduled for 7.30 pm on Monday was earlier delayed by two hours but the game now has been pushed back to Tuesday. All players of Islamabad United are cleared to play in the game.
“Quetta Gladiators-Islamabad United match rescheduled for Tuesday, 2 March, at 7pm PKT. More details to follow shortly,” Pakistan Cricket tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has informed that the players of the other PSL teams are being tested.
“A player from one of the sides featuring in this evening’s match has tested positive. The player had shown symptoms two days ago and had been immediately isolated. Members of his side have tested negative while the players of the other side are being tested,” teh PCB tweeted.
Fawad thanked his fans for the kind messages and urged everyone to stay safe from the deadly virus.
“Thanks for all the kind messages, please keep remember me in ur prayers, much needed @IsbUnited @thePSLt20, and please everyone stay safe,” Fawad tweeted.
Islamabad United won the first two games in the tournament but a four-wicket haul from Wahab Riaz handed United its first defeat of the season on Saturday. Riaz led Peshawar Zalmi to a comfortable six-wicket win over Islamabad United in the 10th fixture of the PSL 6 at Karachi’s National Stadium on Saturday. (ANI)

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Russian Athletics Federation reinstatement plan approved by World Athletics Council

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Quai Antoine [Monaco], March 1 (ANI): Following detailed work by World Athletics’ Russia Taskforce, its independent experts, and RusAF, a final plan for the reinstatement of RusAF to membership of World Athletics was recommended to the World Athletics Council last week. World Athletics’ Council unanimously agreed to the Taskforce’s recommendations.
In an email to the World Athletics Council, Taskforce Chairman Rune Andersen wrote: “The Taskforce has now reviewed and provided detailed feedback on three different drafts of the Reinstatement Plan. The three international experts appointed by World Athletics have worked closely with RusAF on the development of the Reinstatement Plan and advised the Taskforce that they believe the Plan is fit for the purpose of embedding in Russian athletics the deep-rooted change in culture that Council has been demanding for the past five years.
“In addition, although RusAF President Peter Ivanov has been required to step down for two years because of his appointment as a senior official of the Russian Government (to respect the CAS sanctions imposed on Russian Government officials in the WADA/RUSADA compliance case), the international experts also consider that the senior management that Ivanov has put in place will be able to move the Plan forward in his absence, under the temporary leadership of RusAF Vice-President Irina Privalova as acting President.
“For its part, the Taskforce stands ready to monitor the milestones and KPIs in the Reinstatement Plan carefully, so that it is able to report to future Council meetings whether RusAF is keeping up with the enormous work that will be required to implement the Reinstatement Plan successfully. On this basis, the Taskforce recommends that Council resolves (1) to approve the Reinstatement Plan; and (2) to publish it on the World Athletics website.”
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe thanked all involved in developing the reinstatement plan and said he is grateful to the Taskforce, its experts and RusAF for creating a detailed roadmap to rebuild trust.
“I don’t think a week has gone by during my presidency when I have not been answering questions about Russia and our sport. I am extremely grateful to the Taskforce, its experts and RusAF for creating a detailed roadmap to rebuild trust. This is not the end but the beginning of a long journey, with an incredible amount of work for RusAF to do to rebuild trust. The international experts believe the team that is now in place will be able to deliver on the milestones they have put in place. The Taskforce, with ongoing advice from the international experts, will monitor progress and report to Council.”
The Council also decided in its December 2020 Council meeting that it will consider whether to allow Russian athletes to compete again as ANAs in international competitions (including allowing up to 10 ANAs to participate in World Athletics Series events and the Tokyo Olympic Games) at its March 2021 meeting, or earlier if the Taskforce so recommends, based on the progress made by RusAF to that date.
The Taskforce said that it will address the question of ANAs in its report to the Council meeting of March 17-18. (ANI)

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Akanksha Nitture gets wild card entry for ITF Women’s Pune event

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): The High Performance Training Camps (HTPC) trainee Akanksha Nitture defeated Snehal Mane in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 in the final qualifying round of the ITF Women’s $ 15,000 event at Delhi Lawn Tennis Association Complex on Monday.
HTPC is the All India Tennis Association’s (AITA) ‘Return to Tennis’ programme. As the playing opportunities have begun to roll out more steadily, the Indian players are eager to take advantage of India’s “Return to Tennis” roadmap which included two High Performance Training Camps — one each for both junior boys and junior girls.
The international professional circuit made a comeback in India on Monday with two tournaments being hosted by Lucknow (Men’s $15,000) and New Delhi (Women’s $15,000).
The 17-year-old Akanksha, who was one of the trainees at the recently concluded HPTC in Delhi, worked on her physical conditioning, had hitting opportunity with the best players, and was provided with a high intensity of an inbuilt tournament during her stay at the camp. This camp prepared the players for the upcoming International tournaments.
Based on her performance in the camp, Akanksha has been given a Wild Card in the main draw of ITF Women’s $25,000 Pune event.
“The camp played a crucial part in getting back into the groove after a long Covid-19 pandemic induced break. Not only the tennis sessions but the sports psychology, nutrition, and diet, and tennis equipment experts who were roped in to add to our skills beyond on-court practice, have proven to be a great learning experience. It is beginning to reflect on my game already. I am glad to have earned my spot in the main draw,” said Akanksha post her win.
The camp curriculum and activities which were designed by the national coach, Zeeshan Ali, were much appreciated by all the trainees in the feedback forms submitted to AITA. (ANI)

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