Ind vs Eng: Motera a new venue, hence both teams will start on equal terms, says Gambhir - The Daily Guardian
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Ind vs Eng: Motera a new venue, hence both teams will start on equal terms, says Gambhir



Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 22 (ANI): Ahead of the third Test between India and England, former India opener Gautam Gambhir felt that both the teams will start on equal terms in the pink-ball game as none of them know the pitch condition at the newly-built Motera Stadium.
The four-match series between India and England currently stands level at 1-1 and now both teams will lock horns in a pink-ball Test, beginning Wednesday at the Motera Stadium. If India win the ongoing series by at least a margin of 2-1, then the side will qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports show Cricket Connected, Gambhir said, “It’s a new stadium, a new wicket and the Test match will be played with the pink ball. So, nobody knows how will the ball move, seam or bounce. Plus, it’s a new venue for both teams, hence both teams will start on equal terms. If we talk about Chennai, then Team India knew the pitch conditions. But in Motera, neither India nor England can judge the condition of the pitch.”
Gambhir added that it will be interesting to see the kind of wicket the teams get as both sides are capable of outclassing each other on the field.
“Joe Root would’ve been happy, if someone would’ve told him that they will enter the pink-ball Test with a 1-1 score. Team India has the arsenal of fast bowling — which could be troublesome for England, and vice versa England also has a fast bowling attack. It will be interesting to see the kind of wicket the teams get,” he added.
India had achieved an emphatic 317-run win against England in the second Test of the ongoing four-match series. As a result, the Virat Kohli-led side has also reached the second spot in WTC standings. (ANI)

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Crowd to be allowed for 5th T20I if Wellington’s alert level status is relaxed



New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Tuesday announced that the order of Sunday’s T20I double-header at Wellington’s Sky Stadium has been reversed.

As a result, New Zealand’s men’s team will be taking on Australia in the early game and New Zealand’s women’s team (White Ferns) will be squaring off against England later in the afternoon. “The decision follows discussions between New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia and will allow the Australia squad to catch a charter flight home immediately after the game – and avoid having to transit through Auckland,” NZC said in an official statement.

“Should Wellington’s Alert Level status be relaxed ahead of Sunday’s doubleheader, a crowd will be allowed inside the venue,” it added.

On Monday, NZC had announced that the final T20I of the five-match series between New Zealand and Australia has been shifted to Wellington from Bay Oval.

The final T20I of the three-match series between New Zealand women (White Ferns) and England women will also be played in Wellington.

Earlier, it was confirmed that the upcoming third and fourth T20Is between New Zealand and Australia will be played behind closed doors. The first and second T20I between New Zealand Women (White Ferns) and England Women will also be played behind closed doors following the change to New Zealand’s alert levels with an eye on the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would return to level 3 for seven days. As a result, no sport can be held at level 3, reported

The fourth T20I between New Zealand-Australia and White Ferns-England was to be played in Auckland, but as per the new guidelines, the matches were relocated to Wellington.

The rest of the country has moved to alert level 2 and the restrictions will last for a period of seven days. While announcing the new restrictions, Ardern said that the lockdown was needed due to there being no immediate transmission link between the new mystery case and the latest Auckland cluster.

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Real Madrid lose 2 vital points in La Liga title race



Real Madrid dropped two vital points in the race for the La Liga title when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Real Sociedad.

The result leaves Real Madrid five points less than league leaders, Atletico Madrid, with an extra game played ahead of the Madrid derby which will be played in Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium next weekend, Xinhua news agency reported.

Real Madrid again lacked effectiveness in front of goal without the injured Karim Benzema, but Real Sociedad deserves credit for a solid display in which they always looked threatening on the break on Monday night.

The game was just six minutes old when the visitors should have had a penalty when Casemiro brought down Nacho Monreal only for the referee to rule it out for a prior offside, which for some reason the VAR did not correct.

Real Madrid reacted to the let-off and took control of the game with Mariano Diaz having a header deflected onto the bar, before Raphael Varane also hit the bar with a header, which visiting keeper Alex Remiro had covered.

Marco Asensio then saw a shot blocked and Robin le Normand cleared off the line, while Remiro saved from Luka Modric as Madrid threatened but failed to open the scoring.

Real Sociedad then started the second half strongly and Portu opened the scoring with a header that went in off the post in the 54th minute after a pinpoint cross from Monreal.

Porto was then inches away from setting Alexander Isak up for his side’s second of the game, only for the ball to evade the striker by inches.

Duro saw a header deflected over in injury time but there was not enough time for Real Madrid to find the winning goal their title hopes needed.

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Ashwin nominated for ICC Player of the Month



India’s senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been nominated for the International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s Player of the Month (February) award.

The ICC on Tuesday announced the nominees for the ICC Player of the Month Awards for the month of February to recognise the best performances from both male and female cricketers across all forms of international cricket. Alongside Ashwin, England skipper Joe Root and West Indies all-rounder Kyle Mayers have also been nominated for the month of February in the men’s category.

Ashwin played 3 tests against England as part of India’s ongoing series against them. In these Tests, he scored a 106 in the second innings of India’s second Test victory over England in Chennai and took his 400th Test wicket in the third Test victory in Ahmedabad.

Scoring a total of 176 runs across these games while also taking a total of 24 wickets, Ashwin is the deserving candidate to be nominated in the men’s category for Feb.

England Test captain Joe Root makes it to the list of nominations again this month for his outstanding performance with the bat and the ball.

He scored a total of 333 runs and took 6 wickets overall in the 3 Tests that he has played against India. In the first Test against India, Root scored a 218 to lead England to victory.

From the West Indies, Test debutant Mayers played 2 Tests against Bangladesh and scored a match-winning 210 to help the West Indies successfully chase 395 and win the first Test against Bangladesh. This performance alone is deserving of this nomination.

In the women’s category, England opening batter Tammy Beaumont and all-rounder Nat Sciver and New Zealand batter Brooke Halliday have been nominated for the month of February.

Tammy Beaumont’s unbeaten 72 helped England to a comfortable seven-wicket win against New Zealand. She played 3 ODIs and passed fifty in each of these against New Zealand, totalling 231 runs.

Brooke Halliday of New Zealand also played 3 ODIs against England and scored a total of 110 runs and took 2 wickets in these games. Brooke also went on to become just the fourth woman to score half-centuries in each of her first two ODI matches.

England’s Nat Sciver went on to take 5 wickets and score a total of 96 runs in the 3 ODIs she played against New Zealand. Nat was the leading wicket-taker in the ODI series between New Zealand and England and added an innings of 63 in the second match that they won.

India wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant had won the men’s award in January while the women’s award went to South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail.

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It is the moment of elation for Indian cricket as for the second consecutive time, an Indian player has been nominated for the ICC Player of the Month Award. England skipper Joe Root, who was overtaken by Rishab Pant last month, has also been nominated for the second time in a row.

Ashwin, besides scoring a stifling ton during the second match of the ongoing series between India and England, scalped 24 wickets, reaching the 400 wickets landmark. This is a big achievement for any bowler. Nevertheless, he has indeed accomplished most of it on the spin-friendly pitches, but his significant contribution to India`s victory in the last two Tests can’t be overlooked.

Ashwin also altered his bowling action lately, and as it seems, the change has delivered. Usually, the youngsters are seen making changes in their action, but when the bowler is close to 400 wickets experiments, it reflects the confidence and ingenuity of the player. If we take a look at Ashwin’s bowling very closely, we will find that there is a lot of synergy between his release point and the foot alignment. His action is completely different from what he would prefer in 2016.

On the contrary, Joe Root in the first Test in Chennai steered his team to victory by scoring a double century at a time when everyone was predicting India’s sweeping victory. The skipper also took five wickets as a part-time bowler, with precision, furtive acuity, and economical spells, and the stint went so well that it reflected Root in the avatar of a complete spinner.

The third contender in the race is West Indies’ young sensation Kyle Mayors who surpassed his team’s target of 395 runs in his very first Test. His double century made a mark, and especially because it was scored by a debutant. Mayors hails from Barbados, where former legendary players Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Hanes belong.

Of course, the performance of all three has been excellent, but Ashwin will likely win the race and clinch the title, without giving any surprise to the cricket lovers.

The author has played 6 Tests and 12 ODIs as a wicket-keeper batsman for Team India

Ashwin, besides scoring a century during the second match of the ongoing series between India and England, scalped 24 wickets, reaching the 400 wicket landmark.

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Michael Vaughan

NEW DELHI: Former England skipper Michael Vaughan on Tuesday, once again, took a dig at the wickets that have been prepared in the ongoing Test series between India and England.

Vaughan has been quite vocal in his criticism of the pitches used in the series and went a step further and asked for the ICC to look into the wickets prepared after the third game ended in two days. Taking to Instagram, Vaughan on Tuesday shared a picture of him standing in dugup soil with a bat in his hands. “Preparations going well for the 4th Test !! #OnOn #INDvENG,” he wrote in the caption.

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 last week to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.

In the match, both India and England batsmen failed to shine. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.

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‘Clinching WTC akin to winning World Cup’

‘Winning the WTC is equal to winning the World Cup. We are all focusing on that, having said that, the focus right now is to play the fourth Test against England,’ says Rahane as India gear up for the Ahmedabad match today.



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India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday echoed pacer Ishant Sharma’s emotions and said winning the World Test Championship (WTC) would be similar to winning the World Cup.

India currently has a 2-1 lead in the ongoing four-match series against England and if the hosts manage to win or draw the final Test, they would secure their berth in the final of the inaugural ICC World Test Championship (WTC). “Absolutely, Ishant was spot on in what he said. Winning the WTC is equal to winning the World Cup. We are all focusing on that, having said that, the focus right now is to play the fourth Test against England. Ishant was completely right,” said Rahane while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

In the ongoing series against England, Rahane has managed to score just 85 runs and his highest score of 67 came in the second Test at Chepauk. India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the pink-ball Test. 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.

“When you play on spinning tracks, you have to play the line and you know that. In India, we haven’t played so many games in the last two-three years. When you play on that spinning and seaming wickets, it’s all about playing the line, when the ball is spinning too much, you do not have to think about it, you just have to play the line, if you miss the ball, you miss the ball. Backing your defence and ability on seaming and spinning wicket is something we follow,” said Rahane.

Earlier, pacer Ishant Sharma had said that the WTC is like a World Cup for him and if India goes on to win the Test championship, then it would be a similar feeling to winning the World Cup.

“I am just focused on how to win this series and qualify for the finals of the WTC. I just play one format, WTC is like a World Cup for me, if we play the finals and then we go on to win, the feeling would be the same as winning the World Cup or the Champions Trophy,” said Ishant during a virtual press conference ahead of the third Test against England.

“The wicket would be similar to the third Test and also the second Test what we played in Chennai. The wicket would be similar, yes the pink ball made the difference, it was coming much quicker off the wicket as compared to the red ball. That was an adjustment we had to make but as I said the wicket would be a lot similar to the last two Test matches,” Rahane said.

A day after training in the nets, the Indian cricket team on Tuesday shifted focus to fielding to ensure utmost sharpness in the upcoming fourth and final Test against England, having taken a 2-1 lead in the series.

The hosts are leading the series 2-1 and the fourth Test of the series will commence on Thursday.

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