Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 19 (ANI): Rajasthan Royals’ Director of Cricket, Kumar Sangakkara though agreed that the price of Chris Morris was on the higher side in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, he was happy to have the South Africa all-rounder for his ability to finish the games with the bat.
Morris on Thursday became the most expensive player at an IPL auction after he was bought by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 16.25 crore.
Morris entered with a base price of Rs 75 lakh. Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) both showed interest before Rajasthan Royals made a belated entry after RCB pulled out at Rs 10 crore.
Bidding continued between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals and the South African all-rounder was finally sold to the Royals. The fee smashed the record Rs 16 crore paid for Yuvraj Singh by Delhi Daredevils in 2015.
“We’re also glad to get Chris Morris with us simply for what he brings to the side, both with the bat and ball. With the ball especially, his numbers across the IPLs are really good and his ability to finish games with the bat down the order is useful,” said Sangakkara.
“Yes the price was on the higher side, but we’re looking for a very specific role with Chris and really happy to have someone like him in our squad,” he added.
India all-rounder Shivam Dube was also picked by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 4.4 crore during the auction. Sangakkara, the former Sri Lanka skipper said that the side was specifically looking for someone like Shivam for the middle-order spot.
“It was an exciting auction. From our point of view we were targeting certain players and we’re happy to get our targets. We were looking at Shivam Dube for that middle-order spot in our batting line-up and finally got him,” said Sangakkara.
“We’re excited to have picked up some talented Indian youngsters, all of whom add different dimensions to our squad. As a team, we’re delighted with the targets we were able to get and looking forward to working with the squad during the IPL now,” he added.
The Royals also added Bangladesh left-armer Mustafizur Rehman to their fast-bowling arsenal for the season at his base price of 1 cr. Mustafizur brings in big international and IPL championship experience with him to the Royals squad.
Manoj Badale, lead owner, Rajasthan Royals also spoke on the auction acquisitions: “You can only really judge the auction after the tournament’s played out but we’re really pleased with the proceedings, in terms of the plans we had and the players that we targeted, we’re quite pleased with how it unfolded for us.”
“It was strange to not be there at the auction, it’s the first auction that I’ve missed since the inception of the IPL in 2008 really. But it was quite interesting joining from afar and getting a different perspective on the proceedings in Chennai,” he further said.
There’s going to be a lot of talk about the money we had to spend to get Chris Morris but as I’ve said on countless occasions, the auctions are a representation of a player’s value with regards to certain franchises for a particular role. As was evident by MI, RCB, Punjab Kings all going after Chris, he is a special player with special abilities, especially with his death bowling. What’s really nice is that he’s been a part of the Royals previously and we’re very excited to have him back,” Badale added.
Another left-armer added to the pace brigade is Chetan Sakariya, the Saurashtra pacer has already made a name for himself on the domestic circuit and the Royals were quick to swoop in and get him for 1.20 cr ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore. (ANI)
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4th Test: India face last hurdle to WTC final, England look to spoil the party
Ahmedabad [India], March 3 (ANI): While the debate over the pitch has taken the centre stage in the ongoing Test series between India and England, Virat Kohli’s men will be setting their eyes on only one thing — securing a spot in the World Test Championship (WTC) final — when they take the field for the fourth and final Test which begins here at the Narendra Modi Stadium from Thursday.
India only needs to draw the final Test against Joe Root’s men in order to seal a spot in the WTC final where will then take on New Zealand at the Lord’s from June 18-22.
The hosts will be riding on the confidence following their back to back wins in the last two Tests after suffering a massive 227-run defeat in the first game in Chennai.
In the last Test played with the pink ball in Ahmedabad, India registered a 10-wicket win within two days.
Bowlers from both sides delivered stand-out performances in the game as 30 wickets fell within a little over five sessions in the third Test. On the other hand, almost all the batsmen, barring Rohit Sharma and Zak Crawley, were found wanting as they struggled against the turning and skidding balls. The pitch for the fourth Test is expected to once again assist the spinners, thus making it more difficult for the visitors.
If England, somehow, manages to win the final Test and thereby draw the series, the WTC final will then be contested between New Zealand and Australia.
Other motivation for the England team going into the final Test would be to gain some much-needed confidence ahead of the limited-overs leg of the tour.
Root has already said that if his side manages to win the final Test then it would be one of his greatest achievements as a captain.
“You look at India’s record at home in recent times and it’s incredible. So, for us to come away with a drawn series would be a really good achievement, especially off the back of the last two games. We’ve had two challenging weeks but that doesn’t define us as a team. We need to look at this as a real opportunity to do something special. It would be a brilliant achievement to leave here two-all. It would be a monumental effort from this group of players. So there are loads to play for,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Root as saying.
“It would certainly be up there with my greatest achievements as captain. The progress we’ve made over the last couple of years has been really pleasing, especially away from home. If we end up winning this game it’d be four wins out of six Tests on this tour. It would be a phenomenal achievement from the players to have found a way in some very foreign and difficult conditions. So it’s a great motivator for us as a side and I’d be extremely proud of everyone involved if we managed to do that,” he added.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Ishant Sharma, Md. Siraj, Umesh Yadav.
England: Joe Root (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes (wicket-keeper), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Mark Wood. (ANI)
Wouldn’t have done that: Warner on playing Tests against India with injury
Sydney [Australia], March 3 (ANI): Australia opener David Warner admitted that he “would not have” played with the injury in the Test series against India which extended his return back to the field.
Warner had played the last two Tests against India while still being hampered by the groin injury he sustained in the ODI series at the end of November 2020.
“I made the call to play those Test matches, felt like I needed to be out there and help the guys. Looking back in hindsight I probably wouldn’t have done that, where I am with the injury it put me back a little bit,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Warner as saying.
“If I’m thinking about myself I probably would have said no, but I did what I felt was best for the team and me being out there opening the batting was I felt the best thing for the team,” he added.
On Tuesday, Warner was named in New South Wales’ (NSW) squad for the upcoming Marsh ODI Cup match against South Australia.
The opening batsman will be returning to cricket for the NSW Blues on Thursday after six weeks recovering from a groin injury.
Warner will be taking the place of Daniel Hughes, who has a shoulder complaint, while Nick Larkin comes in for Steve Smith, who is still rehabbing his elbow injury.
Pat Cummins will again captain the One Day Cup squad that won their season opener against Victoria at North Sydney Oval last month by 59 runs. (ANI)
Pele gets Covid-19 vaccine in Brazil, urges people to maintain social distancing
Brasilia [Brazil], March 3 (ANI): Brazilian football legend Pele has got himself vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine and has urged people to adhere to social distancing norms.
On Tuesday local time, Pele took to Instagram to post a picture of him receiving the vaccine jab.
“Today is an unforgettable day – I received the vaccine! The pandemic is not over yet. We must keep the discipline to preserve lives until many people have taken the vaccine. Please continue to wash your hands and stay home if possible,” Pele wrote as the caption.
“When you go out please don’t forget your mask and maintain social distance. This will pass if we can think of others and help each other,” he added.
As per John Hopkins University, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil currently stands at 10,646,926 while 2,57,361 people have lost their lives in the country due to the deadly disease.
Pele is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and he was also labelled “the greatest” by FIFA. The former Brazilian star was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.
During his playing days, Pele was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world. In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century.
The same year, Pele was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee. Pele registered a total of 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, and this is a Guinness World Record. (ANI)
NZ vs Aus: Santner ruled out of 3rd T20I, Milne joins as cover
Wellington [New Zealand], March 3 (ANI): Ahead of the third T20I against Australia, New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner has been ruled out of Wednesday’s clash after “waking up this morning with a head-cold”.
“He is self-isolating as a precautionary measure while awaiting the results of a COVID test,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.
“Wellington-based Adam Milne will join the team for today’s match at Sky Stadium as squad cover,” it added.
Santner returned with the figures of 4-31 in the second T20I that New Zealand won by four runs.
Hosts are currently leading the five-match series 2-0 after outclassing Aussies in the first two games. On Monday, NZC had announced that the final T20I between New Zealand and Australia will be shifted to Wellington from Bay Oval.
Australia is set to make a few changes in the upcoming third T20I of the five-match series, assistant coach Andrew McDonald confirmed on Tuesday.
Wellington’s Sky Stadium will be hosting the final three T20Is between Australia and New Zealand and the visitors are likely to include Ashton Turner or D’Arcy Short in their starting XI.
All-rounder Ashton Agar can be left out of the team as he has conceded 50 runs from five overs bowled in the first T20Is against New Zealand.
“We haven’t got those middle overs right. That may be a reason for us to reinforce that area or make some changes that potentially strengthen that area with both bat and ball. They’ve played spin well at this stage. Agar has played two games in the last three and a half months as well so he’s going to be better every game that he plays,” cricket.com.au had quoted McDonald as saying.
“Zampa at this stage hasn’t gotten into the games but his quality over the last two years suggests that the next game he probably will have an impact. It is an area that we do need to improve in if we’re going to compete and beat this Kiwi side,” he had added. (ANI)
Wasn’t expecting to be picked up in IPL auction, says Moises Henriques
Melbourne [Australia], March 3 (ANI): Australia all-rounder Moises Henriques has said that he did not expect to be picked up by any franchise in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) players’ mini-auction.
Henriques was picked up by Punjab Kings in the mini-auction held on February 18 and he was bought by the franchise for Rs 4.2 crore.
The all-rounder would now be sharing the dressing room with the likes of fellow Australians Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith.
“I was not expecting to get picked up at all. It wasn’t until I woke up to go to the bathroom that I noticed I saw a couple of messages saying congrats on the pick-up and I thought, ‘That’s nice,’ and tried to go back to sleep as soon as possible,” cricket.com.au quoted Henriques as saying.
“I just assumed I would have been picked up at base price. Then it wasn’t until I woke up properly in the morning that I realised how much I went for,” he added.
Henriques has played 57 matches in the IPL so far and he first played the tournament way back in 2009. The all-rounder has now said that is hopeful of making into Australia’s T20 squad if he has a good showing in the IPL.
“There’s no secret I was gutted when you fight your way into the international white-ball teams and then you get selected to go to South Africa and that tour doesn’t go ahead, and you don’t get your opportunity to defend your spot in that (T20) team when it goes to new Zealand,” Henriques said.
“By not playing, someone else gets that opportunity – and deservedly so. But the IPL is more T20 cricket, more white-ball cricket for me to play and learn from. If I do get that opportunity (for Australia) in the future, then I’d be ready to go,” he added. (ANI)
Kohli thanks fans after becoming first cricketer to reach 100 million followers on Instagram
New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): After hitting the 100 million followers mark on Instagram, India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday thanked the fans for making the journey beautiful.
Kohli shared a clip on Instagram which starts off reading “milestone reached together” and a montage of Kohli’s pictures and videos pops us on the screen.
“You have made this journey beautiful. Feeling blessed and grateful for all the love. Thank you 100 million #instafam,” Kohli wrote as the caption.
On Monday, Kohli added another feather to his illustrious cap as he became the first cricketer to hit 100 million followers on photo and video sharing social networking platform Instagram.
The Indian skipper joined Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Neymar, Argentine forward Lionel Messi, Hollywood actor and former pro-wrestler Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, American singer-songwriter Beyonce, and Ariana Grande in the 100 million club.
Kohli is also the fourth most followed sportsperson on Instagram. Ronaldo tops the list (sportsperson) with 266 million followers while Messi is second on the list with 187 million followers on the Facebook-owned platform.
Kohli, who holds the top spot in ICC’s ODI batting rankings, made his debut in the format in August 2008. The Indian skipper has scored 12,040 runs in 251 ODIs at an average of 59.31. Kohli has represented India in 90 Tests, scoring 7,490 runs with the highest of 254*.
In T20I cricket, he has played 85 matches, piling 2,928 runs at a strike rate of 138.43.
The Indian skipper is currently gearing up for the fourth and final Test against England which gets underway on Thursday. The hosts are leaving no stone unturned to prepare for the upcoming fixture at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
In the ongoing series, Rohit, Axar Patel, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side will qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash at the Lord’s Cricket Ground from June 18-22. (ANI)
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