Margao (Goa) [India], January 30 (ANI): ATK Mohun Bagan might find themselves in a comfortable spot on the Indian Super League table, placed second after 14 games. But there’s no denying that the former champions have not been at their best lately. Their struggles continued against Northeast United, slumping to their third defeat of the season.
And when they take on Kerala Blasters at the Fatorda Stadium on Sunday, they’ll be looking to rediscover their mojo and close in on leaders Mumbai City.
In their last four matches, the Mariners have witnessed a dip in form, notching just one win while losing twice. Their defense has been under the pump, shipping four goals. In their opening nine games, Bagan conceded just thrice, highlighting their defensive struggles.
Upfront, the lack of missed chances has continued to cost them points, with the Kolkata side scoring just thrice in their last four games. They have netted just 13 goals all season, which is the third-worst tally in the league.
Fresh after acquiring the services of Marcelinho, on-loan from Odisha FC, ATKMB coach Antonio Lopez Habas believes his team is improving despite the recent results but has called for his attack to step up.
“We were improving our performance and our creation of chances in the last few matches but we have to continue with the same purpose. After the first few matches and the first few rounds of the league, the team consolidated the system and the idea. Now we have to increase our attacking performance,” he said.
On the other hand, opponents Kerala are unbeaten in their previous five games and still in contention of reaching the playoffs and are just four points away from fourth place.
While form favours Kerala, it was ATKMB who came out on top when the two sides faced each other in the opening game of the ISL season. However, for Kerala coach Kibu Vicuna, that result won’t have any bearing on Sunday’s match.
“It was a question of one detail (defensive mistake), not that they were better than us,” said Vicuna, last season’s title-winning coach with then-Mohun Bagan himself.
“Now the circumstances are different. ATKMB is the former champion and they are second. They have fantastic players and a good coach. It’s going to be a difficult challenge for us,” he added. (ANI)
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Europa League: Manchester United to clash against AC Mila in round-of-16
Zurich [Switzerland], February 26 (ANI): Manchester United will be clashing against AC Milan in the round-of-16 tie of the UEFA Europa League, the organisers confirmed on Friday.
The draw for round-of-16 fixtures of the Europa League was revealed on Friday. Olympiacos will clash against Arsenal while Tottenham Hotspur will square off against Dinamo Zagreb.
Granada and Molde will take on each other while Slavia Praha will face off against the Rangers in the round-of-16 fixtures. Ajax will square off against Young Boys while Dynamo Kyiv will take on Villarreal.
Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk will take on each other in the round-of-16 fixture.
The first legs are scheduled for Thursday, March 11, with the second legs set to be played on Thursday, March 18.
If ties are level after 180 minutes they are decided on away goals, first and foremost. If teams still can’t be separated, it will go into extra time.
If both teams score the same number of goals during the 30 additional minutes, away goals count double. If there are no further goals in extra time, the tie goes to a penalty shoot-out (alternate takers). (ANI)
ISL 7: East Bengal, Odisha look to bow out on a high
Panaji (Goa) [India], February 26 (ANI): Both SC East Bengal and Odisha FC will look to end their Indian Super League (ISL) season on a high when they face each other at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, here on Saturday.
Neither team has had campaigns to write home about. While Odisha lies at the very bottom of the table, East Bengal hasn’t fared much better and is ninth. However, ending the season with a convincing win could give some relief to both sets of long-suffering supporters.
Robbie Fowler’s side was always pegged down by the inability of their forwards to convert possession into goals. Bright Enobakhare remains the only one of their strikers to have netted this season and SCEB lies at the very bottom of the goals scored list. The club was also let down by the failure of their Indian forwards. Despite boasting big names like Jeje Lalpekhlua, CK Vineeth, and Balwant Singh, Fowler managed to get zero shots on target from the trio.
Odisha has had similar woes throughout the season. Except for Diego Mauricio, no other player stepped up in the goalscoring department. Mauricio was responsible for 57 percent of the goals that his team scored all season. Odisha coach Steven Dias though believes that his team will learn from their mistakes and come back stronger in the next season.
“When you have a bad season there is always good to learn so many things out of this bad season. That’s what we are all doing. This season isn’t that good for us but there are so many things to learn from this season so we can get better next season,” he said.
Odisha’s winless run now stands at ten games and they have also lost the most games and kept the least clean sheets. But despite the match featuring two teams who have nothing to play for but pride, Dias feels that both sets of players will not be short of motivation.
“They also didn’t have a good season like us,” Dias said. “I think they will also come to win this match, we also want to win this match so we can end on a better note. I am trying to keep the boys motivated in training sessions, in the meetings. They look ready, we are ready. Hopefully, it’s going to be a very good match because both teams will look for a win to end on a good note. We will give our best.” (ANI)
I accidentally became a cricketer, living my dream: Ashwin
New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has revealed that his planning before a game goes to a “different level” and he watches a lot of footage before a match to leave no stone unturned with regard to his preparations.
Ashwin also revealed that during the Australia tour, before the Adelaide Test, he watched footage for eight straight hours and watching all these videos have helped him have a better understanding of the game and even before bowling the ball, he kind of understands what shot the batsman is going to play.
“In Australia, before the Adelaide Test, I watched footage for eight straight hours. Planning for me goes to a different level. I do not know why I started doing it but it’s just that I do not want to leave any stone unturned. I used to watch a lot of footage even before but I think the understanding of the game has gone one notch higher,” Ashwin told India fielding coach R Sridhar in a video posted on BCCI’s website.
“What happened during the lockdown was that I was watching a lot of cricket from the past, like Sachin’s (Tendulkar) hundred at Chepauk and all kinds of stuff on Youtube. And I started picking up fine queues and think why haven’t I picked all these things and figured all these things and it just struck me. After that, I started watching footage differently and once I started watching, it became fun because I am able to pick batsmen like what they are doing and even before I bowl the ball, I kind of understand what kind of shot they are going to play,” he added.
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar and Ashwin, India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test here at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
During the match, Ashwin reached a major milestone of 400 Test wickets. Reflecting on the same, he said: “Initial feeling? It was quite empty to be honest because we were under immense pressure today. We only got a 30-run lead and the game was in the balance. I was in the moment, and only after we took the DRS, I realised the 400-wicket feat. After they flashed the 400 wickets on the board, the entire stadium was up and everyone was clapping. I cannot put my finger and say (exactly) how I feel.”
Ashwin said he is a cricket lover who actually went on to become a cricketer. “I accidentally became a cricketer. I am a cricket lover who actually went on to become a cricketer. I am living my dream here. I never imagined I will wear the Indian jersey and play. For someone who loves the game so much, what better it can be to come and play the game,” he said.
“Every time I finish playing a game and if I get that winning result for the team, I just feel like I have been given a blessing. The COVID-19 (pandemic) times made me feel how lucky I am to actually play for India. Even when I came back from the IPL, I never thought I will play in Australia. That is why I said everything has been a gift, for the love with which I play, I think the game is giving me back,” the spinner added.
Sridhar told Ashwin that it seems like “you are giving MS Dhoni a run for his money” in terms of the collection of stumps.
“I think MS has a lot more than I do. For a large part of my early career, I have not been very good at all this. Now I cherish every moment. It has been very special and I have been collecting stumps,” Ashwin replied. (ANI)
Yusuf Pathan announces retirement from all forms of cricket
Baroda (Gujarat) [India], February 26 (ANI): All-rounder Yusuf Pathan on Friday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket.
“I still remember the day when I wore the India jersey for the first time. I didn’t only wear the jersey that day, but I took upon my family’s, coach’s, friends’, the whole country’s and my own expectations on my shoulders as well. Since my childhood, my life has revolved only around Cricket. I played at the international level, domestic level, and in the IPL in my career,” said Yusuf Pathan in a statement on Twitter.
“But today is a bit different. There is no World Cup or IPL final today but it is equally important. The time has come today for me to put a full stop to this innings of my life. I officially announce retirement from all forms of the game. I thank my family, friends, fans, teams, coaches, and the whole country wholeheartedly for all the support and love. I am sure you will continue to encourage me in the future as well,” he added.
Yusuf Pathan was a part of the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning squad and the 2011 50-over World Cup squad. The all-rounder had played the finals of the 2007 T20 World Cup against Pakistan and he had famously struck a six off Mohammad Asif in the very first over of the final.
In the finals of the 2011 World Cup, Yusuf had lifted Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders as the hosts defeated Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium to lift their second 50-over World Cup title.
“Winning two World Cups for India and lifting Sachin Tendulkar on my shoulders were some of the best moments of my career. I made my international debut under MS Dhoni, IPL debut under Shane Warne, Ranji debut under Jacob Martin, and would like to thank them for believing in me. I thank Gautam Gambhir with whom, at KKR, we won the IPL trophy twice. I would also like to thank my brother and backbone Irfan Pathan who was always there for me during the highs and lows of my career. Last but not the least, I would like to thank the BCCI & BCA for giving me the opportunity to play for my country and state,” said Pathan.
Yusuf had also won the Indian Premier League titles with Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders. Rajasthan Royals had won the tournament in 2008 while KKR won the tournament twice in 2012 and 2014.
The 38-year-old played 57 ODIs, 22 T20Is for India, managing to score 1,046 runs across both formats. He also went on to take 46 wickets combined in both formats. He last played a game for the country on March 30, 2012, against South Africa in a T20I at Johannesburg. (ANI)
Have always dreamt of playing under Kohli: Suryakumar
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 26 (ANI): Batsman Suryakumar Yadav has revealed that he started crying after seeing his name in the T20 squad for the upcoming five-match series against England and the right-handed batter also said that he has always dreamt of playing under Virat Kohli.
Last week, Suryakumar Yadav earned his maiden call-up into the Indian squad along with the likes of Ishan Kishan and Rahul Tewatia.
“I was very excited as I got to know about the selection. I was sitting in the room, trying to watch a movie, and got a notification on the phone that I was picked in the Indian team for England T20Is. I started crying after seeing my name in the team. I called my parents, my wife, and my sister. We had a video call and all of us started crying,” the official website of BCCI quoted Suryakumar as saying.
“Along with me, they have also been trying to live this dream for a long time. It has been a very long journey and they are the ones who have stood by me throughout. It was really great to see them happy and have those tears of happiness. Everyone wants to play for India. But finally, my time has come,” he added.
When asked about playing under skipper Virat Kohli, Suryakumar replied: “Firstly, I am looking forward to spending some quality time with the team and soaking in the atmosphere when I reach Ahmedabad. I have always dreamt of playing under Virat Kohli for a long time and I am excited to go and learn a lot from Virat as quickly as I can so that I can be a better player.
“I have played against him in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the way he reflects his energy on the field even after achieving so much for India is remarkable. I have seen him on the field keeping himself charged all the time. His want-to-win attitude is something to learn.”
Suryakumar Yadav shares the dressing room with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, and Krunal Pandya at Mumbai Indians. Talking about his experience of playing at Mumbai, the batsman revealed that he has learnt a lot about Virat from the likes of Hardik.
“Over the years, playing with the Mumbai Indians, I have got to learn and know so much about Virat from Hardik Pandya as well. Whenever we have been together, I have asked Hardik what Virat does differently during the practice sessions that he is the best on the ground. Hardik has also told me that Virat practices differently, the energy he has in the practice sessions — be it batting or fielding — is completely different and he is the same on the ground. So, these are some of the things that I want to learn from him which makes him the best,” said Surya.
When asked about Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar said: “I still remember the time when I was batting with Rohit Sharma during my Ranji Trophy debut. When I walked out to bat, there were a lot of butterflies in my stomach. He just came up to me and said, mate, just keep things very simple. You have worked very hard to reach here. You just have to go out and express yourself. Think about nothing. Just express yourself.
“It is amazing to see that his approach towards the game or his batting or his advice to the young crop has still not changed. Even today, he tells me the same thing. His presence has really helped me a lot. Having played under Rohit, I have learnt many things about him and his game, how he keeps things very simple, and his astute understanding of the game,” he added.
The five-match T20I series between India and England is set to begin on March 12. All five matches will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. (ANI)
Cricket a very small thing and life of our soldiers more important: Gambhir on ties with Pakistan
By Nitin Srivastava
New Delhi [India], February 26 (ANI): Former India opener and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir on Friday said that there should not be any relation with Pakistan till cross-border terrorism gets over.
Global terror financing watchdog, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Thursday retained Pakistan on its “grey list” till June after concluding that Islamabad failed to address its strategically important deficiencies, to fully implement the 27-point action plan that the watchdog had drawn up for Pakistan.
“Till the time cross border terrorism does not get over, I don’t think there should be any kind of relationship with Pakistan because the life of our soldiers is more important than anything,” Gambhir told ANI.
When asked about the sporting ties with the neighboring country, Gambhir reiterated that the “life of our soldiers is more important” and said: “Cricket is a very small thing and the life of our soldiers is more important. So, till the time cross-border terrorism does not get over, there should not be any relationship with Pakistan.”
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin, India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
Some former cricketers like Michael Vaughan had criticised the pitch. “Let’s be honest this is not a 5 day Test pitch !! #INDvENG,” Vaughan had tweeted.
When asked about the Motera pitch, Gambhir said: “It is a matter for ICC to look into. I do not want to comment on that. I think England batsmen should look at their techniques.” (ANI)
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