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Ind vs Eng: Add Kohli to the batting order, team assumes a bulletproof cloak, says Chappell

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New Delhi [India], January 31 (ANI): Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has said that India will start as favourites in the upcoming series against England and the return of key players in the host side will further strengthen the team and give it an “unbeatable appearance”.
He also said that the addition of Kohli will make the team’s batting order “bulletproof”.
“The upcoming India versus England Test series has the potential to be an enticing contest similar in intensity to the one recently completed in Australia. India will start as favourites after an exhilarating victory over Australia, overcoming all obstacles. When you add the name Virat Kohli to the batting order, the team suddenly assumes a bulletproof cloak. In also adding the names R Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Ishant Sharma to the list of available players, India take on an unbeatable appearance,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.
“Likewise, England can point to improvements they can make to the side that won convincingly in Sri Lanka. The availability of a premium player in Ben Stokes who, like Pandya, provides all-round ability and selection flexibility, albeit at a higher level than the Indian, is a big plus. And Jofra Archer adds substantially to the quality of an already strong pace attack. However, it’s the top of the England order, where another returning player, Rory Burns, will reside, that the scales tip in India’s favour,” he added.
On January 19, Australia’s fortress — The Gabba — was finally breached. It took 32 years and two months, but the unthinkable was achieved after an injury-ravaged young Indian team defeated Australia by three wickets against all odds in the fourth Test to win the series 2-1.
Now, all the focus is shifted to the series against England. India and England are set to lock horns in four Tests, three ODIs, and five T20Is. The first two games of the 4-game series will be played in Chennai before the cricketers move to Ahmedabad for the third and fourth Test.
Chappell also feels that Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma and the “indomitable” Cheteshwar Pujara places India’s top order well ahead of England’s top order.
“India’s top three feature an impressive Shubman Gill, a talented but flawed Rohit Sharma and the indomitable Cheteshwar Pujara, which places them well ahead of England’s top order,” he said.
Chappell also said: “Unfortunately, any advantage England might gain from Root’s incredible form at No. 4 is immediately negated by India’s best batsman also holding down a similar position. Rarely does a series feature two such well-credentialed No. 4 batsmen. The middle order of both teams are a mixture of explosive stroke play with a touch of steadiness for good measure. Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant and the possible addition of Pandya have India well placed to take full advantage of any good start. The ability to swiftly accelerate the scoring is nearly as important to winning Test matches as the capability of taking 20 wickets.”
“England are similarly placed with Stokes and Jos Buttler as their lethal weapons. The possible return of Ollie Pope would add some dependability to the threatening nature of that section of the batting order. However, Buttler’s departure after just one Test and the possible return of Ravindra Jadeja to the Indian line-up would swing the scales further in favour of the home team. The presence of Archer, along with the skill and experience of stalwarts Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, would normally provide England with an advantage in the pace department. However India’s improvement in that category is amply illustrated by their performance in matching Australia’s much-vaunted pace attack in two successive away series,” he said.
England’s touring contingent arrived in Chennai on Wednesday and all the members are undergoing quarantine. Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, and Rory Burns arrived earlier as the trio did not play the Test series against Sri Lanka. The first Test between England and India will begin on February 5 at Chennai.
Chappell said India is utilising its population advantage by nurturing and selecting its best talent.
“Not only does India now have quality pace bowling but they also have it in comforting quantities following the depth displayed in Australia. For years now the rest of the cricketing world has rested uneasily in the fear that India would finally utilise its population advantage by nurturing and selecting its best talent. That day has finally arrived,” he said.
“These mouth-watering Test series are to be savoured. With all the challenges Test cricket faces – Covid-19 just being the latest – the future of the format is not guaranteed to be as generously giving as it has been in the last few months,” Chappel added. (ANI)

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BARCA DEFENDER GERARD PIQUE OUT WITH RIGHT KNEE INJURY

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GERARD PIQUE

MADRID: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique will spend another stint on the sidelines as he sustained “a sprain in the internal lateral ligament of his right knee”.

World Cup winner suffered the blow in the team’s 3-0 win over Sevilla in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. Pique scored a goal in the second-half stoppage time before Martin Braithwaite netted the final goal of the match to hand comprehensive victory.

Barca said in a statement on their official website: “The medical assessment and tests performed this morning have shown that first-team player Gerard Pique has a sprain in the internal lateral ligament of his right knee. He is therefore unavailable and the evolution of the injury will determine when he returns.”

“The Barca centre-back was a starter and played the 120 minutes in the superb win against Sevilla, as well as being one of the great protagonists of the night, leading the heroic comeback with a goal in added time that allowed Barca to force extra-time. As for this season, Pique has played a total of 15 games in which he has scored two goals,” it added.

Injury struggles have become familiar for the 34-year-old this season, with knee complaints plaguing his 2020-21 campaign.

Pique was forced onto the sidelines in November 2020 with a knee problem and missed the best part of three months. He sat out 24 games as Ronald Koeman’s side struggled to find the consistency required to compete for major honours.

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INDIA IS GETTING CLOSER TO THE TOP TEAMS IN WORLD: COACH MARIJNE

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MUMBAI: The Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Sjoerd Marjine feels the side is getting closer to operating at the same level as the top teams in the world.

The World No. 9 Indian team battled well against the World No. 3 Germany team, but went down 0-5, 0-1, 0-2 and 1-2 in the four matches of the tour, which was held from February 27 to March 4 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Marijne and his team will now head to SAI Centre, Bengaluru for a month-long National Coaching camp. The Indian women’s hockey team returned to action against Argentina earlier this year, where they were praised for their resilience on the tour. Marijne was happy with how his side competed against Germany as well.

“We have played against two different styles of teams and who are among the top three teams in the world. The tours helped us to understand their tactics and also to see what the benchmark needs to be to beat these teams,” said Marijne in a Hockey India release.

“Although the results were not in our favour, we are getting closer to them. Germany is a very well-organised team with a very good structure and it’s not easy to create chances against them. We were able to create enough possibilities to score in every match, but we didn’t finish well. This is something we need to work on in the next following months. We did test them in parts and have some homework to do,” he added.

Despite going down 0-5 in the first match of the tour, Rani and her side picked themselves up in the next three games. There were occasions where Germany struggled to break the Indian defence down, which impressed Marijne.

“We played that match (first match of the tour) pretty well, but every opportunity was converted into a goal by Germany. That match was a benchmark for the next following matches. I think we did well on the tour, but you have to keep looking at the bigger picture and not only focus on the results of this tour,” said the coach.

Marijne has asked his team not to be disheartened by the results in Germany as he feels fortunes can change during the Tokyo Olympics.

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TIM SOUTHEE REPRIMANDED FOR BREACHING ICC CODE OF CONDUCT

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Tim Southee

WELLINGTON: New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee has been reprimanded for breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during the third T20I against Australia in Wellington.

Southee was found to have breached Article 2.8 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Player and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “showing dissent at an Umpire’s decision during an International Match.” In addition to this, one demerit point has been added to the disciplinary record of Southee, for whom it was the first offence in a 24-month period.

The incident occurred in the first over of the match on Wednesday, when Southee shouted at the umpire in a disrespectful manner after a leg-before review taken against Australia opener Aaron Finch was declared an umpire’s call and given not out.

Southee admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by Jeff Crowe of the Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees.

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FINCH & COMPANY STUN NEW ZEALAND IN SERIES DECIDER

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WELLINGTON: Skipper Aaron Finch smashed 79 off 55 balls before the bowlers put on an all-round show to help Australia seal a comfortable 50-run win over New Zealand in the fourth T20I on Friday.

It was a clinical performance from Australia in a must-win match as they bowled out New Zealand for 106 to set up a series decider on Sunday. While Finch led from the front and took Australia to a competitive 156/6 almost single-handedly, it was an all-round performance from the visitors’ bowlers as Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson and Glenn Maxwell all picked wickets.

Chasing a decent 157, New Zealand suffered an early jolt as Agar removed the in-form Martin Guptill in the fifth over with just 21 runs on board.

Wickets kept falling at regular intervals as New Zealand struggled to get a partnership going. Tim Seifert, skipper Kane Williamson, and Glenn Phillips all went cheaply as hosts scored just 41 runs in the first 10 overs.

It seemed like New Zealand was never really interested in the chase as they lost James Neesham and Mitchell Santner in the next two overs. With seven down for 64 runs, the chase was almost over as New Zealand required more than 90 runs in the last six.

Brief Scores: Australia 156/6 (Aaron Finch 79*; Ish Sodhi 3-32); New Zealand 106 (Kyle Jamieson 30; Kane Richardson 3-19)

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RISHABH PANT SHOWS HIS CLASS ONCE AGAIN

Kiran More

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While India’s ace batsmen Kohli, Pujara and Rahane were crumbling before the English bowling attack, Rishabh Pant came out and scored a flamboyant hundred, which not only gave hosts the confidence, but also snatched reins from the visitors.

Initially avoiding playing attacking shots, Rishabh Pant understood the importance of his wicket very well and bided his time and once he started scoring runs, he did not look back. This inning was a brilliant spectacle of aggression and patience.

The England captain took a new ball after 80 overs but energized Pant kept toppling the opposition with class— a reverse sweep against legendary Anderson is an apt example where Pant triumphed with wit and ease. When Anderson made his debut in international cricket, Pant was only five years old.

Rishabh Pant, whose timely ton helped the hosts to cross the 200 run mark, has scored more than 500 runs in this calendar year. Pant today proved that a player who believes in his own shots, showing aggression with his bat when needed, can do wonders for the team. Pant showed the way for Team India, and they are on the road to win the series 3–1. Even the 50-runs lead would have been sufficient on this pitch, but I think India can take this lead to around 125.

Washington Sundar also batted well. If England wants to come back, one of their batsmen has to make at least a century and the rest of the batsmen will also have to bat well. If this does not happen, Team India might win the match by the evening of the third day.

Nevertheless, the decisions of the England team management have been strange. In this match, not including one fast bowler has proved costly on the visitors. On this wicket, Virat Kohli is losing his wicket on rising ball and Rohit on a moving ball, and it is beyond understanding why England did not to play a fast bowler in the team. If the fast bowler had been included, England could likely have been in a good position in this match.

The author has played 49 Tests & 94 ODIs as a wicketkeeper-batsman for Team India.

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PANT WILL BE ALL-TIME GREAT IN YEARS TO COME: GANGULY

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AHMEDABAD: India looked in a tough situation after losing early wickets on day two of the fourth Test against England, but wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant put the hosts back in the driver’s seat with this brilliant century.

Praising Pant for his “unbelievable” knock, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly said that the player will be an “all-time great in all formats” in the years to come. “How good is he? Unbelievable..what a knock under pressure…not the first time and won’t be the last time..will be an all time great in all formats in the years to come.keep batting in this aggressive manner .thats why will be match winner and special..@bcci @RishabhPant17,” Ganguly tweeted.

Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Pant’s belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.

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