INDIA GEAR UP FOR THEIR FIRST OVERSEAS PINK-BALL TEST IND VS AUS TESTS - The Daily Guardian
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INDIA GEAR UP FOR THEIR FIRST OVERSEAS PINK-BALL TEST IND VS AUS TESTS

The series has an added edge to the plot. Match results will add to the points tally for ICC Test rankings that determine who will compete in the World Test Championship Final next year.

Raman Bhanot

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Come 17 December and India will be playing their second Pink Ball Test—first away from home. From the quality of opposition to the continent where the match will be played, the difference between the two contests is like chalk and cheese!

India’s first pink ball Test was versus Bangladesh in 2019 at Kolkata. Needless to say, the match lasted only 3 days as the Indian pacers wreaked havoc and claimed all the opposition wickets. In fact, it was the first time that India won a Test match at home, without a single wicket being claimed by an Indian spinner.

More than a year on, India will now play their first overseas pink ball Test against a much sterner opposition— the Australians— at Adelaide. Just to put things into perspective, Australia have played more day-night Tests than any other nation. They have featured in 7 day-night contests and won all. To add weight to that statistic, their last wins over sub-continental sides, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have been by an innings and more.

In the 2019 pink ball Test, the star for India was Ishant Sharma, who had a match haul of 9 wickets, including a fiver in the first innings. With the ‘Man of the Match’ in that game unavailable for this Australia series due to injury, it could be a telling blow on the Indian team. Though Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are more than capable of dishing out the same chin music to the Aussies, that the Indian will receive from them, the onus of being an effective 3rd cog in the pace attack will now fall on the shoulders of Umesh Yadav, in the absence of Ishant. This is Umesh’s 3rd Test tour of Australia with the senior team, and he would do well to draw on his experience as well as his performance in that pink ball Test versus Bangladesh last year, where he claimed a haul of 8 wickets.

Enough said about the bowlers, the one aspect which may settle this contest and in the larger context, the series as well, is the batting resilience of both camps.

 Both India and Australia are searching for answers at the top of the order. With Warner and Pucovski out injured and Steve Smith suffering an injury scare just a couple of days before the match, Australia will look to their youngsters to rise to the occasion.

For India, the conundrum is whether to have Prithvi Shaw or Shubman Gill partnering Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order. More on that in another piece, for now, let us focus on a star performer with the bat in the pink ball Test versus Bangladesh— Indian captain Virat Kohli. He was the only player from either side to score a ton in that match, as he carved out a majestic 136 of 194 balls to become the first Indian to score a hundred in a pink ball Test match.

Kohli will be playing just this one match of the 4 Test series before returning home to be with his wife for the birth of their first child.

India won the Test series the last time they were in Australia—their first-ever Test series win Down Under. But this series has an added edge to it. All match results add to the points tally for ICC Test Rankings that determine who will compete in the World Test Championship Final next year. Currently, Australia top the Rankings with New Zealand a close second and India in third place. Results of the next eight Tests for India will determine whether they will be one of the two teams competing at Lords in June next year.

 The writer is a sports broadcaster and cricket commentator who has worked on assignments for leading sports network.

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HOCKEY JUNIOR WORLD CUP IN BHUBANESWAR TO BE PLAYED WITHOUT SPECTATORS

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The FIH Odisha men’s Hockey Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 scheduled to begin on November 24, will be a telecast-only affair as Hockey India and FIH jointly decided to hold the marquee quadrennial tournament without the presence of spectators as part of precautions against COVID-19.

“With the sheer popularity of the sport in this region and expected crowds in the stadium, the organisers believe it would not be possible to control that number of people and yet follow all the necessary COVID guidelines and protocols laid out by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare , Ministry of Home Affairs , Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, State Government, FIH and Hockey India,” Hockey India said in a statement. According to organisers, social distancing is a priority due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic situation and the safety of the fans and athletes needs to be prioritised.

Hockey India said for the organisers, it is imperative to hold the tournament in an environment where the health and safety of the participating teams are of paramount importance.

While the stadium will only be open to accredited personnel and the participants of the tournament, the fans can tune in and cheer for their favourite teams and players, across platforms around the world for all games.

The tournament will see 16 teams in the fray. The participating teams include defending champions and hosts India, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands and the United States.

The classification matches will be held from November 30 with the quarter-finals to be played on December 1, semi-finals on December 3 and the title clash will be held on December 5.

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Matteo Berrettini seals spot in 2021 ATP Finals

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Italy’s Matteo Berrettini will make his second ATP Finals appearance after becoming the sixth singles player to qualify for the 2021 season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from November 14-21.

The 25-year-old secured his return to the year-end championships for the first time since 2019 when he reached the Erste Bank Open second round on Monday. This year marks the first edition of the ATP Finals in Turin, following a 12-year stint in London. “My words aren’t going to describe the happiness I feel in my heart,” said Berrettini in a release by ATP. “2020 was a tough year for me on and off the court. Here I am about to play my second [Nitto ATP] Finals and I can’t believe it. I always have to remember where I started. I didn’t dream about this, because it was so big, but now it’s happening. I want to do my best,” he added.

Berrettini has notched a 40-10 record this season, including a run to his first major final at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic). He went on to climb to a career-best Number 7 in the ATP Rankings — making him the highest-ranked Italian since Corrado Barazzutti in 1978.

The Italian also lifted the Serbia Open trophy in Belgrade (d. Karatsev) in April, reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Zverev) in May and clinched the cinch Championships crown in London (d. Norrie) in June.

Berrettini joins Russian Andrey Rublev and four former Nitto ATP Finals champions in the Turin field: World Number 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, US Open champion Daniil Medvedev of Russia, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev of Germany.

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NZ PACER FERGUSON RULED OUT OF T20 WC WITH CALF TEAR

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New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE with a calf tear.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) in a release stated “Ferguson felt tightness in his right calf following training last night (Tuesday) and a subsequent MRI scan on game-day revealed a grade two tear which would require three to four weeks recovery.” With the Blackcaps set to play five pool games over the next 13 days, coach Gary Stead said they had no option but to rule Ferguson out of the tournament.

“It’s a real shame for Lockie to have this happen on the eve of the tournament and the entire team is really feeling for him right now,” Stead said.

“He’s a massive part of our T20 side and has been in such good form – so to lose him at this time is a blow. However, we are fortunate to have a like for like replacement in the form of Adam who has been with the squad training for the past two weeks.”

Stead indicated Ferguson would be replaced in the 15-player tournament squad by Adam Milne subject to approval by the ICC Technical Committee.

Milne is already in the UAE with the team having been selected in the squad as travelling injury cover.

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As team we were taken aback, says SA skipper Bavuma on De Kock’s withdrawal against WI

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South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma said the Proteas respect opener Quinton de Kock’s decision to not take a knee in the ongoing T20 World Cup on Tuesday.

De Kock decided not to take the knee ahead of Tuesday’s game against the West Indies and the batter missed the match following his decisions. “I think obviously as a team we’re obviously surprised and taken aback by the news. Obviously, Quinton is a big player for the team, not just with the bat, but the role he plays from a senior point of view and from an experience point of view, and not having that at my disposal as a captain was obviously something I wasn’t looking forward to,” said Bavuma in the post-match press conference as per ICC.

“In saying that, Quinton is an adult. He’s a man in his own shoes. We respect his decision. We respect his convictions. I know that he’ll be standing behind whatever decision that he’s taken.”

“From the team’s point of view, unfortunately, we still have to get the job done. There was still a game of cricket there for our country, and it was important, as much as everything was happening, that we found a way to get into the right mental space and take it home for our country,” he added.

Cricket South Africa said all players had been required, in line with a directive of the Board on Monday evening, to “take the knee” in a united and consistent stance against racism.

“I don’t know how far it’s going to develop. I mean, the decision that he’s taken is only today, so I can only speak about what has happened today. It wouldn’t be my decision whether to replace Quinton or to get a substitute. That would be probably the coach and the selectors,” said Bavuma.

“But as far as we stand, Quinton is still one of the players. He’s still one of the boys, so whatever support that he needs, whatever shoulder that he requires from his teammates, we’ll be there for him.”

“If there’s a need for further conversations to be had, I’m sure those will definitely happen amongst the guys,” he added.

The South Africa skipper said instruction from the country’s cricket board came in the morning and De Kock might have taken his decision of not taking the knee afterwards.

“The instruction from the board came in the morning, this morning. A meeting was convened between a couple of members, and that’s where that message was passed on to us. We then before, I guess, getting on the bus to travel to Dubai, that message was passed on to the players,” said Bavuma.

“I think the trip was about an hour and a half to two hours. In that trip I guess that’s where Quinton made his decision. We found out — I found out as the captain when we got to the changing room,” he added.

South Africa defeated West Indies to open their Super 12s account on Tuesday.

The Proteas limited the West Indies to 143 for eight as Dwaine Pretorious took three wickets late on to put the brakes on an innings that had looked set to reach a far more imposing total after opener Evin Lewis’s blistering 56.

In reply, South Africa rallied well from the early loss of captain Bavuma and never looked in trouble in pursuit of the runs as Aiden Markram’s destructive 51 not out from just 26 balls broke the West Indies’ resolve en route to an eight-wicket win.

SOMETHING THAT WE FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT:

WINDIES

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said that the Caribbean team feels very strongly about taking the knee and they will continue to do it in the ongoing ICC Men’s ICC T20 World Cup.

Pollard added education is sort of key and every individual has their own opinions on taking the knee which is now widely considered as a stance against racism.

“It’s something that we feel strongly about as a team and as a people, as well, and we will continue to do it,” the Windies skipper said in a post-match press conference on Tuesday.

‘INDIVIDUALS SHOULD DECIDE’

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan has said an individual should determine if they want to be involved in any movement or not after South Africa’s Quinton de Kock decided not to “take the knee” ahead of Tuesday’s game against the West Indies in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

“Surely it’s down to the individual to decide whether he or she wants to be involved in any movement … A Cricket board should request players to do it but if that individual decides they don’t want too it should not stop them playing the game of Cricket … #T20WorldCup #DeKock,” Vaughan tweeted.

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MAKRAM SHINES AS SOUTH AFRICA BEAT WINDES BY 8 WICKETS

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Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen starred as South Africa thrash West Indies by eight wickets in the Group 1 encounter of Super 12s in the ongoing ICC men’s T20 World Cup here at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.

South Africa chased the target of 144 with eight balls to spare as Markram and Van der Dussen played the innings of 51* and 43* respectively. Chasing 144, excellent work in the field by Russell provided exactly the start West Indies had hoped for as Temba Bavuma walked back in the first over. Hendricks and Van der Dussen then forged a 50-run stand for the second wicket as South Africa consolidate their position in the chase.

Hosein then dismissed Hendricks to give a vital breakthrough to WI but the duo of Van der Dussen and Markram stitched another 50-run partnership and held SA’s innings in good shape.

The pair then cruised South Africa to victory and handed defending champions their second successive defeat in the tournament.

Put in to bat first, West Indies started off cautiously off the blocks initially after which Evin Lewis started to free his arms and took the attack against South African bowlers, especially to the part-time spin of Aiden Markram. At the end of the powerplay, their score read 43/0.

Evin Lewis continued his charge against SA bowlers as he brought up his half-century in the 10th over. But in next over, Maharaj removed dangerous-looking Lewis. He walked back after scoring 56 off 35 balls. Nicholas Pooran followed the opener soon.

The other WI opener, Lendl Simmons was dismissed in the 14th over after his 16 off 35 balls. West Indies lost a few wickets in clumps in the end but managed to make 143 runs in their 20 overs for South Africa to chase.

Brief Scores: West Indies 143/8 (Lewis 56, Pollard 26; Pretorius 3-17) vs South Africa 144/2 (Aiden Markram 51*, Rassie van der Dussen 43*; Akeal Hosein 1-27)

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Haris Rauf, Asif Ali fire Pakistan to thrilling win against New Zealand

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Haris Rauf scalped four before Asif Ali blistering cameo of 27 in 12 balls helped Pakistan defeat New Zealand by five wickets here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 on Tuesday.

Pakistan limited New Zealand to 134 for eight and then chased down the target with 8 balls to spare. With this win, Pakistan is now leading the Super 12 Group 2 with four points. Asif whacked one four and three sixes while Shoaib Malik smashed 26 to help Pakistan chase down 135 despite a wobble in the middle.

Chasing 135, Pakistan got off to a slow start and Babar Azam’s wicket in the sixth over further dented the team’s hopes. Tim Southee cleaned bowled Babar to take his 100th T20I wicket.

Ish Sodhi then trapped Fakhar Zaman in front of the stumps as Pakistan got reduced to 47/2. The Babar-led side lost two quick wickets in the name of Mohammad Hafeez and Mohammad Rizwan as New Zealand gained control over the game.

Conway flew in the air to pull off an absolute stunner which ended Hafeez’s stint at the crease.

However, Asif came to rescue Pakistan as he stitched an unbeaten 48-run stand with Shoaib to take his home in the 19th over.

Put into bat first, New Zealand scored 134/8 in 20 overs as Haris Rauf starred with the ball picking up four wickets.

Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson and Devon Conway scored 27, 25, 27 runs as New Zealand batsmen struggled to get their feet in.

The Kiwis got off to a decent start but Pakistan kept taking wickets at regular intervals which didn’t allow New Zealand to post a respectable total.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 134/8 (Daryl Mitchell 27, Conway 27; Haris Rauf 4-22) vs Pakistan 135/5 (Mohammad Rizwan 33, Asif Ali 27; Ish Sodhi 2-28)

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