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Ind vs Eng: Pink-ball is good opportunity to show what I can do, says Wood

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 19 (ANI): Ahead of the day-night Test against India at the Motera Stadium, England pacer Mark Wood felt that the pink-ball is a good opportunity for him to show what he could do.
Wood missed the first two Tests of the series due to England’s rotation policy. He along with wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow joined the squad on Wednesday for the final two Tests.

“We’ve been bowling with them in the nets – they have swung quite a bit and they’ve lasted longer which was interesting to see. Using the momentum from the last game against Sri Lanka where I picked few wickets so I will be trying to just get back in that groove and rhythm. It will take a couple of sessions to get the rhythm back. With this pink ball, it is a good opportunity in the new stadium to show what I can do,” Wood said in a virtual press conference on Friday.
“With the ball, as soon as it moves, every one of the bowlers from the past couple of months is dying to get it in their hand. I’m not the only one who’s trying to get hold of it,” he added.
Talking about the conditions, Wood said the practice pitches are greener and added that if the pitch would have something for seamers then James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be very helpful for the side.
“The wickets in the nets have been a bit green and had good pace and carry too. I don’t know if that’s anything to go by or whether it’s a bit of a trick. As soon as the ball moves, we know how good our seam bowlers can be. We’ve got good depth there, good skills and two of the best-ever (James Anderson and Stuart Broad). Hopefully, if the ball does move and it is seamer-friendly we can be very confident going into the game,” he said.
The pacer further backed England’s rotation policy and said it is a good way to look after players in these situations.
“There’s a lot of cricket this year. When you have such a unique position, where we’re in bubble after bubble and time in hotel rooms and away from family, I think the ECB have made a good decision and are looking after players. I know it’s come in for criticism but from my point of view, especially as a multi-format player, when would you get that break or that switch-off, or would you be able to keep performing at the level required, if you’re mentally tired or physically tired?
“So it’s good that different people are getting breaks at different points, it allows you to use different players for what’s coming ahead. We’ve got a massive squad and huge depth of talent, so it gives an opportunity for everyone. And you just got to try and take your opportunity when it’s your turn,” Wood added.
He further added other countries should also follow the rotation policy to keep their players fresh for long time.
“If things had been different or we didn’t have so much cricket, or there wasn’t these bubbles, I think we would play our best team as much as we could. We have to go down that route because of everything going on and we should maybe see it as a positive, that the ECB are looking after their players in that way. Other nations might follow this, down the track if coronavirus was to keep going,” Wood said.
“You look at both sides of the argument. I get why people are saying that but from within the playing group I think it’s seen as a positive. Of course, you want to play every game, and you don’t want to be rested and rotated, especially if you’re doing well. But in the long run, the endgame, especially for the multi-format players, is to make sure that everyone’s fresh and raring to go,” the pacer added.
The four-match series currently stands level at 1-1 and now both teams will lock horns in a pink-ball Test, beginning February 24 at the newly-built Motera Stadium. (ANI)

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SPORTS MINISTRY SPENT RS 1,169 CRORE ON ATHLETES AFTER RIO OLYMPICS

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The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS) has spent Rs 1169.65 crore on Tokyo Olympics-bound Indian athletes post the Rio Games in 2016. In the last five years, MYAS approved Annual Calendar for Training and Competition (ACTC) budget towards national coaching camps (Senior and Junior), overseas training camps (Senior and Junior), remuneration for coaches and support staff, domestic competition (Senior and Junior), equipment and consumables, coach, referee and technical official development as well as administrative support MYAS has also extended support to individual athletes with their training and competition under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) when that is not provided for in ACTC.According to the Sports Ministry, Rs 1091.52 crore were allocated for the National Sports Federation (NSFs) of 18 Olympic disciplines and Paralympic Committee from 2016-2021.

“While Rs 78.13 crore were sanctioned under TOPS for 18 Olympic disciplines and Paralympic Sports from 2016-2021. Rs 44.41 crore was TOPS’ funding for 32 Olympic bound athletes in seven disciplines since 2016,” read a document accessed by ANI. Currently, the TOPS core scheme has 124 individual athletes plus the men’s and women’s hockey teams (18 players each). As many as 160 athletes are part of the core group and a further 259 are in the Development Group, preparing for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games. Moreover, the vaccination programme for India’s Olympic Games-bound athletes and officials, including overseas staff, was carried out seamlessly both in India and overseas.

Meanwhile, for the Tokyo Olympics preparation, a team of 15 qualified shooters is currently training in Zagreb. Also, comprehensive training for one qualified weightlifter in St. Louis, USA is under progress under the guidance of world-renowned trainer Or. Horschig. Last week, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju launched the Central Athlete Injury Management System (CAIMS), a first-of-its-kind initiative by the ministry, for streamlining the sports medicine and rehabilitation support offered to the athletes. CAIMS aims to provide the best sports injury management support nearest to the athlete’s geographical location. It will help to standardise appropriate injury treatment protocol for athletes across the country. CAIMS will start with support for athletes who are a part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) development group expected to participate in 2024 Olympics and beyond.

Currently, the TOPS core scheme has 124 individual athletes plus the men’s and women’s hockey teams (18 players each). As many as 160 athletes are part of the core group and a further 259 are in the Development Group, preparing for the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games.

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NEYMAR SHINES AS BRAZIL THRASH PERU 4-0 TO REACH QUARTERS

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Neymar and Alex Sandro scored for Brazil as they beat Peru on Thursday night to attain a comfortable 4-0 win in the 2021 Copa America clash here at Nilton Santos Stadium. Sandro’s first-half volley separated both sides during the half-time mark. Brazil’s captain Neymar then doubled the lead of the team at the 68th-minute mark as he sent the 20-yard pass from Fred into the far corner.

One minute from the time, Everton Ribeiro scored his first-ever goal for the Selecao as he interchanged with Neymar in midfield before driving into the penalty area and sliding to get on the end of Richarlison’s cross — converting his chance high into the roof of the net giving Gallese no chance. A great save on Firmino then allowed Richarlison to put home the rebound in the injury time to make it 4-0 for Brazil.

Peru did very little for their part during their whole match as their struggle to transition between defence and attack persisted in the second half, as Carrillo and Cueva were unable to have any impact. This is Selecao’s ninth win in a row and sixth clean sheet on the bounce as they continue to look favourites for this competition. Neymar scored his 68th goal in the match, taking him one past Ronaldo on Brazil’s all-time goalscoring chart. The PSG forward now needs just nine goals to go level with all-time scoring leader Pele, who holds the record with 77 strikes for the Selecao. Peru is in action next on June 20 against Colombia, who will also be Brazil’s next opponent — three days later on June 23.

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WITH EYE ON DEFENDING US OPEN TITLE, DOMINIC THIEM PULLS OUT OF TOKYO OLYMPICS

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World No. 4 Dominic Thiem will not compete in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, the Austrian tennis star has confirmed.“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” Thiem said in a statement on Twitter. Thiem doesn’t feel “ready” to play his best game in Tokyo. The tennis star said his goal is to give his best at Wimbledon and defend his US Open title.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem

“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher. However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo,” Thiem said“These last two weeks I have been training hard – and I’m starting to improve my conditioning and concentration little by little. My goal is to work hard in the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”“I wish the entire Austrian team travelling to Tokyo all the best. I am young and I hope to be able to play for Austria at the Olympics in Paris 2024. See you all soon,” he added. Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal has also decided to skip this year’s Wimbledon and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 13-time French Open champion said his goal is to prolong his career and to compete at the highest level of the sport. Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 and the Games will run up to August 8 this year. The event was slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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11 Olympic debutants included as Hockey India names men’s squad for Tokyo 2020

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Hockey India on Friday announced the 16-member men’s squad for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. With as many as 11 Olympic debutants in the squad, the Indian team is fuelled with a fresh approach basis intense training and preparation at the ongoing national camp being held at SAI Centre Bengaluru. Continuing with their third stint goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and midfielder Manpreet Singh will bring in critical experience to the team alongside other Olympic veterans Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, and Surender Kumar.

After missing the previous Olympics in 2016 due to a major knee injury, Birendra Lakra gets a befitting opportunity to be part of the squad for Tokyo 2020. Speaking on the team selection, chief coach Graham Reid said, “It has not been an easy process to make the final selection of 16 players as there is a lot of quality and ambition in this group of players. The performance levels of all the athletes are at an optimum level and more importantly they work well together.

“They know what it means to represent the country at the Olympics. We are now focussed on training with the same intensity and our goal is to put forward our best performance as a collective unit in Tokyo,” he added.

Additionally, joining the team are Amit Rohidas, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit and debutant forwards, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay. Congratulating the selected squad, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said, “The Indian men’s hockey team has a rich legacy of Olympic performances to follow, and I feel this time, more than ever the team is in a position to revisit its glory days to emerge as a top medal contender.”

“The recent performance against Olympic champions Argentina at the FIH Pro League shows they are headed in the right direction. I wish them all the best,” he added. Indian hockey team has won 11 Olympic Medals which includes 8 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze Medals. However, it has been 41 years since the Indian team last won an Olympic medal and therefore the current Indian team is determined to change the course of history in Tokyo.

The current team has won the 2016 and 2018 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Asia Cup Gold and 2019 World Series as well over the last few years. As a part of Olympics preparations, the men’s team travelled to Europe and Argentina as part of their preparations. Having put up a good show against teams like Germany, Great Britain and reigning Olympic Champions Argentina on the tours, the World No.4 side is pumped up for the Tokyo Olympics.

Squad: Goalkeeper: PR Sreejesh; Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra; Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit; Forwards: Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh.

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96-RUN KNOCK AGAINST ENGLAND WILL GIVE ME A LOT OF CONFIDENCE: SHAFALI VERMA

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India opener Shafali Verma, who hit a gutsy 96 against England on Thursday, feels the knock will give her a lot of confidence in the upcoming games. Shafali said the team backed her to play the natural game and that’s the reason she was able to play a valiant knock on her Test debut. “The team management backed me to play my natural game and that’s why I was able to score. Obviously, if a batter gets out in 90s it feels bad but this 96-run knock will give me a lot of confidence in the coming games and I will try to convert it to a hundred,” said Shafali during a virtual press conference.

India openers Smriti Mandhana and 17-year-old Shafali scripted a stunning opening stand. The duo first brought up the 100-run stand and then registered India Women’s highest opening stand in Tests. “I don’t count my age and always think of supporting my team with the bat and give my best for the team,” she said. “I and Smriti talked about building the partnership and supported each other by playing the natural game. Our plan was to stay on the crease and hit the loose balls,” Shafali said while replying to a query from ANI. Shafali also revealed the secret behind her big-hitting abilities. “My father awarded me and my brother with 10-15 Rs on hitting big shots and I practised a lot of six-hitting. I have learned that patience and fitness are important in Test cricket,” said Shafali.

“I learn from every series I play. Like in my Test debut I have worked hard on my fitness and game and it feels nice to contribute to the team’s total,” she added. England finished day two on top with five wickets in the final session despite a solid opening stand by the Indian openers. The visitors went to stumps at 187/5 with Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma unbeaten on four and zero respectively. India were right on track to register a mammoth total but England struck late to snatch the driver’s seat as the visitors lost four wickets in last half an hour. Punam Raut, skipper Mithali Raj, and Shikha Pandey all went cheaply as India wobbled at the end before the close of day’s play.

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Rain washes out Day 1 of WTC final

The opening day’s play in the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl was called off without a ball being bowled on Friday.

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Incessant rain saw the opening day’s play in the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl being called off without a ball being bowled on Friday. Taking to Twitter, BCCI wrote: “UPDATE – Unfortunately, play on Day 1 has been called off due to rains. 10.30 AM local time start tomorrow. #WTC21.” The first session of the opening day of the World Test Championship final was already washed off.

And with rain finally stopping in the second session, an inspection was set to take place at 3 pm local time — 7:30 pm IST. Taking to Twitter, BCCI wrote: “UPDATE — It has stopped raining and there will be an inspection at 3 PM local and 7.30 PM IST. #WTC21.” But unfortunately, it started raining again around 7:10 pm IST. Before this, there was no rain for a period of close to 50 minutes. R. Ashwin’s wife Prithi Narayanan took to Twitter to share the video of the ground along with her kids and wrote, “Rain has stopped. Fans are happy. I can hear the dol and happy singing. And @ashwinravi99 is going to do what he needs to do — have lunch.”

In the morning, India’s spin spearhead Ashwin had also shared the view of Ageas Bowl when it was raining before the scheduled start of play. “The camera also has a raincoat,” wrote Ashwin on Instagram while sharing a video of the ground.Rain is forecasted on all five days of the game and that has seen the ICC add a reserve day on June 23. In case of a no-result, the Test Championship title will be shared. “The Reserve Day has been scheduled to ensure five full days of play, and it will only be used if lost playing time cannot be recovered through the normal provisions of making up lost time each day. There will be no additional day’s play if a positive result is not achieved after five full days of play and the match will be declared a draw in such a scenario,” the ICC release on the playing conditions read.

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