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India all set for English challenge as international cricket returns in country

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New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): The first Test between India and England will mark the resumption of international cricket in the cricket-loving nation after a gap of more than 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India’s ODI series against South Africa was called-off following the coronavirus outbreak in the country in March last year. The first ODI of the three-match series was washed out due to rain in Dharamshala.
India last played Sri Lanka in front of the home crowd in a T20I clash in Pune, January last year.
The first Test will be played behind closed doors while the second Test will have 50 per cent crowd in attendance, the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) secretary confirmed on Tuesday.
Both the Tests will be played at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. As things seem under control and new normal is in place, the focus has been given to cricket again. The hosts are pumped up to take any challenge after the historic series win against Australia.
The four-match Test series Down Under was not only about cricket, it was a mental, physical and temperamental test of the players which they passed successfully.
Virat Kohli-led side is on higher morale as compared to England, who are coming after a 2-0 series win against depleted Sri Lanka. Both the teams are fighting for a finals spot in the World Test Championship (WTC).
New Zealand on Tuesday had become the first team to qualify for the inaugural ICC WTC final as the Test series between Australia and South Africa was postponed. The Kiwis will now be joined by either India, England or Australia in the WTC finals.
To book their place in the WTC finals scheduled from June 18-22, India will have to win the series against England by 2-1, 2-0, 3-1, 3-0, or 4-0, margin. For England to qualify and join New Zealand, they will have to win the series against India by 3-1, 3-0, or 4-0 margin.

While looking at the home squad, it seems like the side has all to overcome the English challenge. Rohit Sharma will continue to pair with his rookie partner Shubman Gill in the opening. Kohli, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara will power the middle-order while it will be a tough call to pick between The Gabba Test hero Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha for behind the sumps duty. India have always given preference to Saha in home conditions while Pant is considered as a foreign tour wicketkeeper by the management. But after the Australia tour, Pant has done it all to cement his place in the team irrespective of the conditions.
It will be interesting to see that whether India goes with four bowlers or five. Most likely the hosts will opt for two spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav — and two pacers — Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma. If India pick all-rounder Hardik Pandya they will have an extra batsman but they have to drop one spinner in that case.
The final decision on the playing eleven will be taken before the match on Friday.
On the other hand, England struggled with the opening pair in the Sri Lanka tour and Zak Crawley’s injury has added another worry for the side. Crawley injured his right wrist and as a result, the top-order batsman didn’t train on Wednesday at the practice session.
In Crawley’s absence, Rory Burns can join Dominic Sibley for the opening. Root, who will be playing his 100th Test on Friday, will bolster the middle-order while Jos Buttler, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence and Ben Stokes will further power the batting line-up.
Jofra Archer will lead the fast bowling for visitors while there could be a toss-up between James Anderson and Stuart Broad. If Moeen Ali gets a chance in the XI, either Dom Bess or Jack Leach will play as the other spinner.
India’s squad for first two Tests: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel.
England squad for first two Tests: Joe Root (captain), Jofra Archer, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Ollie Pope. (ANI)

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EVERYONE IS EXCITED TO PERFORM WELL IN QUALIFIERS, SAYS DHEERAJ SINGH

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Indian U-23 goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh expressed his happiness on being in the U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup.

The U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup comprises 20 players who have been part of Indian Arrows, and a total of 18 players who have been part of the AIFF Academy set-up some time or the other. “Everyone waits to meet their childhood friends once again – don’t they? We have all been friends or brothers for a long. Life is always good when you are surrounded by friends. The exceptional part among us is that there is no rivalry ever between any of us. The new boys have also experienced it,” said Dheeraj.

“Everyone is excited and looking forward to use this opportunity to perform well in the qualifiers. We are having a great environment inside the team. And we have got good new players adding up quality to the team,” he added.

Indian midfielder Princeton Rebello, who wasn’t a part of the U-17 World Cup squad but was part of the Academy system for the U19 National Team, and also the Indian Arrows, stated that he is ‘honoured’ to wear the National colours.

“It feels great to be back with the squad. It’s an honour for me to wear the national colours again. I will give my everything, and everyone is motivated to do well,” said Rebello.

India will play Oman in their first match of the Qualifiers of the AFC U23 Asian Cup on October 24 which will be followed by matches against UAE and Kyrgyz Republic respectively.

The U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup comprises 20 players who have been part of Indian Arrows.

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My dream was always to do something like Ayrton Senna, says F1 champion Louis Hamilton

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Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he always dreamt of featuring in Formula One and wanted to replicate former Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna’s feat.

Hamilton, who has 100 race wins to his name, said to have seven titles under his belt is “crazy” as he didn’t think of achieving the milestone when he started racing. “My dream was always to get to Formula One, to do something like Ayrton Senna — he had three world titles. And then to see myself match him at one point, and then go beyond that,” CNN quoted Hamilton as saying.

“To think that I’m here today, where most people don’t even get one championship and to have seven is very, very crazy still,” he added.

The Formula One world champion, who is eyeing the eighth title when he takes on the field in United States Grand Prix, said he competes in every tournament as if it was his first.

“But every year when I come back, it’s like a reset. Like, I’m not a champion. I have no titles. I’m going for the first,” said Hamilton.

“That’s kind of my mentality. But an eighth? I don’t know. I never really say,” he added.

Hamilton competes in Formula One for Mercedes. In July this year, Hamilton had signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes.

The deal will keep him in F1 with the Silver Arrows until at least the end of 2023.

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INDIA, ENGLAND TO CONCLUDE TEST SERIES NEXT YEAR

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The fifth match of the Test Series between India and England’s men’s teams has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022.

The match, which was supposed to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID-19 cases inside the camp.

With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)Last month, Indian physio Yogesh Parmar had contracted COVID-19 ahead of the fifth Test against England.

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T20 WC: Top order key for both sides in Sunday’s India vs Pakistan clash

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In the T20 World Cup opening match of the second group between India and Pakistan, a big responsibility will be on the top order of both the teams, whose top order went is a 75 percent guarantee to win the match.

India’s top order will be headed by Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Surya Kumar Yadav while Pakistan’s top order will be led by Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhr Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez.

If we look at the performance of the last ten matches, Pakistan’s top order has scored a lot of runs, while the Indian top order has improved their strike rate tremendously in this format. Looking at the performance of the last ten matches, Rohit Sharma`s SR is around 150 and Virat Kohli`s 145 while Surya Kumar Yadav’s SR has reached around 170. Although there is also a truth that Surya has played only four matches against England and Sri Lanka, in which he did not get a chance to bat on one occasion.

Rohit also played two 60 plus innings against NZ, while England and Australia batsmen have not been able to get out Virat Kohli in three out of four innings. KL Rahul is the only player in the top order who has the lowest average and strike rate in these ten matches. The big reason for this is his miserably failure against England.

On the other hand, Mohammad Rizwan has been the highest run-scorer in both the teams while Babar Azam has been second in this order but both of them have a much lower strike rate than Virat and Rohit. This should not at all mean that these players do not have the ability to improve the strike rate. Who can forget Babar Azam’s innings against South Africa in Centurion when Babar scored a century with a strike rate of over 200.

Similarly, his innings in Nottingham was an example of a good strike rate. Similarly, Rizwan was also successful in bringing his strike rate around 155 in both these innings. If not, many runs have been scored with the bat of Fakhr Zaman, then he has left all the players of his team behind in these ten matches in terms of strike rate. Be it his 8-ball 26 in Nottingham or his 34-ball 60 in Centurion. He has really done his team balle-balle.

Talking about Mohammad Hafeez, he has disappointed in these ten matches. In batting average as well as in strike rate. Fortunately, he has proved to be a very economical bowler in the bowling.

Obviously, looking at the T20 format, Team India’s top order is more effective due to their better strike rate.

The much-awaited high-octane clash between India and Pakistan in the upcoming T20 World Cup will take place on October 24 (Sunday) in Dubai. Pakistan has not defeated India in a World Cup match across both ODIs and T20Is.

In Group 2, India will then face New Zealand and Afghanistan, the emerging force in T20 cricket, plus the winners of Group B and runners-up from Group A.

The ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE and Oman got underway on Sunday and the final will be played in Dubai on November 14.

Pakistan’s top order has scored a lot of runs, while the Indian top order has improved their strike rate tremendously in this format. Looking at the performance of the last ten matches.

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NAMIBIA DEFEATS IRELAND TO QUALIFY FOR SUPER 12S

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Namibia skipper Gerhard Erasmus played a crucial knock of 53 runs as his side defeats Ireland by eight wickets in Group A of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah on Friday.

With this win, Namibia has progressed from Group A to the Super 12 stages. As a result of finishing at the top of Group A, Scotland will join India’s group featuring Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan. Chasing 126, Namibia got off to a steady start as opener Craig Williams was set back for 15 runs by Curtis Campher, leaving their total as 25/1 after 5.1 overs.

Erasmus then joined the wicket-keeper Zane Green, who played a knock-off 24 runs of 32 balls. Ireland got their second breakthrough after 13.2 overs, as Campher once again took a wicket and sent Green back to the dug-out.

Following Green’s dismissal, David Weise and Erasmus played anchor innings of 28 and 53 runs, respectively, and took Namibia home by eight wickets.

Earlier in the match, Ireland started off well, as their first shock came after 62 runs in 7.2 overs. Namibia’s Jan Frylinck scalped three wickets and restricted Ireland at 125/8.

Ireland’s batter Stirling played a knock of 38 runs of 24 balls and brought his team to a decent total.

Brief scores: Ireland 125/8 (Stirling 38, Kevin O’Brien 25; Curtis Campher 2-14); Namibia 126/2 (Gerhard Erasmus 53, David Weise 28; Jan Frylinck 3-21).

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Sri Lanka beat Netherlands by 8 wickets to enter the Super 12 stage on a high

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Lahiru Kumara and Wanindu Hasaranga picked three wickets each as Sri Lanka thrashed Netherlands by eight wickets in the final Round 1 match of the ICC men’s T20 World Cup on Friday.

Sri Lanka bowled the Netherlands out for just 44 in 10 overs and then chased down the target in 7.1 overs to finish the qualifying stage of the showpiece event with three wins from three games. Chasing 45 runs, Sri Lanka didn’t get off to a good start as the side lost opener Pathum Nissanka in the second over. Kusal Perera then took Sri Lanka over the line in the eighth over.

Sri Lanka did lose Charith Asalanka’s wicket in the sixth over but the side got home comfortably in the end.

Earlier put into bat first, Netherlands got off to a bad start that only worsened in the subsequent overs. After losing Max ODowd in the first over, the Netherlands have lost three wickets in three overs in Group A.

Wickets kept falling at regular intervals and Netherlands were soon found reeling at 37/6 at the end of six overs. The Pieter Seelaar-led side was eventually folded for 44/10 in 10 overs.

Earlier in the day, Namibia made history by qualifying for the T20 World Cup 2021 Super 12 stage in their very first appearance at the tournament after beating Ireland.

Namibia timed their chase of Ireland’s 125 for eight to perfection as a half-century from skipper Gerhard Erasmus and pyrotechnics from David Wiese led Namibia, to a phenomenal eight-wicket victory.

Meanwhile, Netherlands all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate announced on Friday that he has played his final international cricket match.

Ten Doeschate played his last match when the Netherlands locked horns with Namibia on Wednesday in the T20 World Cup. Born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the legendary Dutch international played his first international match in 2006.

“It’s been a tough tour to finish on but it’s been a pleasure to be a part of the efforts again. It has always been a privilege to represent The Netherlands,” Doeschate said in a statement as per Cricket Netherlands (KNCB)

“I’m grateful to the players, coaches and everyone involved with the KNCB for allowing me to have enjoyed some of the spectacular highs of international cricket,” he added.

Brief Scores: Netherlands 44/10 (Colin Ackermann 11; Lahiru Kumara 3-7, Hasaranga 3-9) vs Sri Lanka 45/2 (Kusal Perera 33*; Brandon Glover 1-12)

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