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Ind vs Eng: Rijiju and Jay Shah visit mesmerising Hall of Fame zone at Motera Stadium

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By Vishesh Roy
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 23 (ANI): The Motera Stadium might have already made an impression as the world’s largest stadium, but the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) has left no stone unturned to ensure that the feeling once fans enter the stadium is just as mesmerising.
The glimpse of every Indian cricketing legend is set to capture the hearts of cricket fans as soon as they enter the stadium in the ‘Hall of Fame’ zone.
Situated on the ground floor, every major cricket memory features here, be it the T20 World Cup win in 2007 or the 50-over World Cup in 2011. The memory of the first-ever day-night Test of India that was played in 2019 is also captured here.
A single strip — which has been illuminated — sees images of every cricketing legend of this country from Sunil Gavaskar to Virat Kohli. The likes of CK Nayudu, Lala Amarnath, Vinoo Mankad, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Sourav Ganguly also have their image highlighted in the Hall of Fame.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah and Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju visited the Motera Stadium on the eve of the pink-ball Test between India and England and they took a look at the beautiful Hall of Fame zone.
While England pacer Jofra Archer told the ECB media team on Monday that he liked what he saw at the Motera Stadium, skipper Joe Root also said he was impressed with the “phenomenal” stadium on the eve of the game. Root said the atmosphere within the stadium will be “electric” when they take the field on Wednesday.
“It is a phenomenal stadium. I am sure you are going to see some brilliant cricket over the years at this ground. It looks fantastic, hopefully, the wicket can produce some very good cricket. I am sure the atmosphere within (the stadium) will be electric. It is also great to see fans back in the previous game. I am sure with the capacity of this ground that noise will go up and you want to be a part of big games,” Root said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, high on confidence after thrashing England in the second Test in Chennai, the Virat Kohli-led Indian team will look to keep the winning momentum going when they take the field in the pink-ball Test. A win will take them one step closer to a spot in the final of the maiden World Test Championship. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Right shoes can work wonders when batting on dry tracks, says Azhar

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): While critics have questioned the wicket at the Narendra Modi Stadium for the pink-ball Test between India and England, former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin on Friday said that he cannot understand batsmen opting to wear spikes on the pitches that are offering assistance to the spinners.
He also said that he has seen a lot of batsmen scoring runs on dry wickets when they opt to wear shoes with rubber soles. Azharuddin named Sunil Gavaskar and Vivian Richards as some batters who have batted with rubber soles on dry wickets.
“It was disappointing to watch the batsmen come a cropper in the Ahmedabad Test. The key to batting on such dry tracks and rank turners is shot-selection and assured footwork. It makes little sense to wear spikes when batting. Rubber soles don’t hamper the ability of batsmen,” tweeted Azharuddin.
In another tweet, the former India batsman said: “I have seen some amazing Test knocks being played on tough surfaces by batsmen who wore shoes with rubber soles. The argument that batsmen can slip when running between wickets is countered by the fact that in Wimbledon, all tennis players wear shoes with rubber soles. And the ones that come to mind are not just Indians like Sunil Gavaskar Mohinder Amarnath and Dilip Vengsarkar but also many a visiting batsman like Sir Vivian Richards, Mike Gatting Allan Border, Clive Lloyd, and several others.”
India had managed to defeat England inside two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners.
After both teams failed to shine in their first innings, England was bowled out for 81 in the second essay, setting India a target of just 49. The hosts chased down the total with ten wickets in hand to go 2-1 up in the series. There has been a lot of debate around the pitch once again, but India batsman Rohit Sharma clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons.
“Pitch didn’t do anything, honestly speaking, if I can recollect, most of the batsmen got out on straighter deliveries. We also as a batting unit, made a lot of mistakes while batting. We also did not bat well in the first innings, the pitch did not have demons, there is nothing like that,” Rohit said during the virtual press conference on Thursday.
Even skipper Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams. Kohli said the quality of batting was to be blamed as most of the batsmen got out to balls that didn’t turn. (ANI)

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Srinagar will be made a hub for water sports: Kiren Rijiju

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Friday said Srinagar will be made a hub for water sports. He also informed that the Sports Ministry has decided to give a Khelo India academy accreditation to the Mata Vaishnodevi sports complex.
Rijiju made these comments on the sidelines of the launch of the second edition of the Khelo India Winter Games in Gulmarg, Jammu, and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the sports meet virtually.
The Prime Minister delivered the inaugural address of the Games and said that this is a major step towards making Jammu and Kashmir a major hub with India’s effective presence in the Winter Games. He conveyed his best wishes to the players of Jammu and Kashmir and players from all over the country.
Sports Minister Rijiju also informed that two Khelo India State Center of Excellence focusing on the disciplines of Judo, Fencing, and Rowing have been opened.
“We had announced that we will create a state-of-the-art winter sports academy here. Now, we are happy to inform you that all the procedures are in place to get the world standard institute opened here soon,” said Rijiju.
“Out of 100 small Khelo India Centres we had announced across all districts of the valley, 40 are already approved and the remaining 60 will be approved in the next financial year. Ex athletes, coaches can run these centers and give back to sports, while earning a livelihood.”
“We have also opened two Khelo India State Center of Excellence here focusing on the disciplines of Judo, Fencing and Rowing. Srinagar will be made a hub for water sports. Also, we have decided to give a Khelo India academy accreditation to the Mata Vaishnodevi sports complex,” the Sports Minister added.
Rijiju attended the ceremony at Golf Club, Gulmarg along with Manoj Sinha, Lt. Governor, J&K, and a host of other dignitaries.
The annual event, which made its debut last year in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, is organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council and the Winter Games Association of Jammu and Kashmir under the aegis of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
Manoj Joshi thanked the sports department for the smooth conduct of the launch event, and said, “We want to give the message of unity, love, empowerment, and peace through the games in the beautiful valley of Gulmarg.”
The second edition of the Games will see a participation of over 1,375 people, including 932 athletes across 27 States and Union Territories. The participation list of athletes also includes the Indian Army and the Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports.
The various sports disciplines include Sprint, Speed Skating, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Ice Stock, Giant Slalom, Snow Boarding, Vertical Race, Cross Country, Snowshoe, Long distance running, Ski Mountaineering, Skiing and Nordic Ski.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has put in place a special team of doctors and ambulances round the clock for the length of the event, along with a special team of the State Disaster Response Fund for relief and rescue operations. (ANI)

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You can look back on your career with pride: Kumble to Vinay Kumar

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], February 26 (ANI): As Vinay Kumar R announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, former India skipper Anil Kumble congratulated the pacer, saying that he can look back on his career with pride.
“Well done Vinay on a fantastic career. Your contribution to Karnataka cricket and India is praiseworthy. Congratulations, you can look back with pride. Best wishes for the future,” Kumble tweeted.
While announcing his retirement, Vinay Kumar had tweeted: “Today “Davangere Express” after running for 25 years and passing so many stations of cricketing life, has finally arrived at a station called “retirement”.
“With a lot of mixed emotions, I Vinay Kumar R hereby announce my retirement from international and first-class cricket. It is not an easy decision to make, however, there comes a time in every sportsperson’s life where one has to call it a day.”
Vinay Kumar played for India in all three formats of the game. In his career, he played 1 Test, 31 ODIs, and 9 T20Is for the country, managing to take 49 wickets across all formats of the game.
His best figures in his international career came in the ODI format where he returned with the figures of 4/30 against England in Delhi in 2011.
Vinay Kumar played for Kolkata Knight Riders, Kochi Tuskers Kerela in the Indian Premier League. He also led Karnataka to two consecutive Ranji Trophy titles in 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.
In November 2018, he had played his 100th match in the Ranji Trophy. In 2019, he had moved from Karnataka to Puducherry, ahead of the Ranji Trophy season. (ANI)

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IPL 2021: BCCI looking at multiple cities to host season 14

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New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Progressing from the initial idea of hosting the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in one city, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is exploring the option of playing the league across four to five cities. While the logistical part will need further discussion, the idea has been floated and is being discussed by the senior officials of the board.
Speaking to ANI, a BCCI official in the know of developments said the idea has indeed been discussed and while it is still early days, the 14th edition of the league could well be played in more than one city if things go as per plan.
“We are exploring the possibility of conducting the IPL at more venues than originally planned. The intent is to take it to more fans as the situation is moving towards normalcy. The feasibility of the bio-secure bubble and logistics will of course be crucial to determine the venues finally. It is a fluid situation and the health of the participants is our primary concern,” the official said.
Some of the cities that have been discussed are Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad among others.
While the tournament is still some time away, franchises too are open to the idea of having the league in more than one city as that will help to stay flexible with an eye on the COVID-19 situation.
“See, there is still some time left for the league to get underway, but we are more than keen to play the league across a few cities. The worry with hosting it in one city is that the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing. So, if by chance one of the cities picked sees a situation where it gets difficult to host the games, another city can go ahead and logistically it will be easier for the board and the franchises,” an IPL franchise official said.
While the BCCI is keen to take the most successful domestic league to as many fans as possible, the board is also clear that the bio-bubble restrictions will be made keeping the safety of the players in mind as was the case when the tournament was moved to UAE in 2020.
“With multiple cities, obviously there will be individual bubbles. While we want fans from different cities to enjoy the games, safety of the players and those involved in the league will be a priority,” the BCCI official said. (ANI)

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We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be: Schmeichel after defeat against Slavia Prague

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Leicester [UK], February 26 (ANI): Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel offered an honest assessment of his team’s performance after suffering a shock exit from the Europa League and said his side was not “as aggressive as we needed to be” during the match against Slavia Prague.
The first-leg match between Leicester City and Slavia Prague had ended in a goalless draw. However, Lukas Provod and Abdallah Sima scored one goal each in the second leg on Friday to send the Czech outfit into the Round of 16.
“[It is] very disappointing. I don’t think we can have too many complaints. I think we have to be brutally honest with ourselves, look over two legs, the better team won, which is a shame. They did a very good job today. We started the game well,” Schmeichel told LCFC TV.
“They upped the intensity on their pressing which caused us some problems with retaining the ball, and [in the] second half, they just went for it. We were probably not quite as aggressive as we needed to be, which is very disappointing,” he added.
Slavia Prague scored both goals in the second half as the first half of the game witnessed a good competition between the two teams.
Schmeichel also admitted that the players are currently hurt and it is too early to see any positives from the game. “I think it’s too early right now to see any positives. It hurts right now, it stings and it will do for a while,” he said.
Leicester City will now take on Arsenal in the Premier League on Sunday. (ANI)

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‘He’s a gun’: Richardson backs skipper Aaron Finch to return to form

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Dunedin [New Zealand], February 26 (ANI): Australian fast bowler Kane Richardson has voiced his support to skipper Aaron Finch, who has witnessed a slump in form during the recent outings in the shortest format of the game.
Finch scored a paltry 12 during Australia’s chase of a mammoth total on Thursday in the second T20I against New Zealand. The visiting skipper has been going through a lean patch and had scored one in the first T20I on Monday.
The Australian skipper has just scored 495 runs at an average of 17.06 in his last 29 T20 outings across the Indian Premier League (IPL), Big Bash League (BBL), and international cricket.
But Richardson is optimistic of Finch returning to form as he feels the Australian skipper is just one game away from unleashing his true potential.
“What he’s done before, he’s come out of these things. Everyone goes through this at some point. He’ll work it out. He’s a gun. I’m sure his mental strength will get him through this,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Richardson as saying.
“This kind of game, T20, it could be one shot he gets right that flows on. He hasn’t changed at all in terms of how he is around the group or on the field as captain. That’s a massive tick for him, to not let his own form come into how he is away from cricket or on the field trying to marshal us,” he added.
Richardson wishes to see his Melbourne Renegades teammate Finch ending the dearth of runs in the upcoming games against New Zealand.
“We just want to see him make some runs for himself, we all know how tough the game can be when you aren’t getting the output you want,” he said on Friday.
In the second T20I, Martin Guptill slammed a whirlwind 97 off just 50 balls to steer New Zealand to 219 runs in the allotted 20 overs against Australia.
In reply, Australia got off to a good start as the visitors smashed 33 runs from the first three overs. But the visitors’ chase was derailed in the middle overs courtesy of some quality bowling by the Kiwis before Stoinis and Daniel almost got Australia over the line
The third T20I between New Zealand and Australia is slated to be played on March 3. (ANI)

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