ISL 7: Playoff spot in sight, Hyderabad aiming full points against Kerala - The Daily Guardian
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ISL 7: Playoff spot in sight, Hyderabad aiming full points against Kerala

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Vasco (Goa) [India], February 15 (ANI): For the most part of the Indian Super League (ISL) season, Hyderabad always maintained their place in the top four. But now, with three games to go, they find themselves fifth level on points with fourth-placed FC Goa and two points below NorthEast United.
Hyderabad can’t afford more slip-ups. They have played out six draws in their last seven matches. And when the Nizams face Kerala Blasters at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Tuesday, they will know that any more dropped points will hugely dent their playoff ambitions.
On paper, they face one of the most vulnerable sides in the league, who are playing for pride. Kerala have shipped 29 goals, which is the second-worst tally. Their defense has been so fragile that Kibu Vicuna’s side has now dropped 18 points after scoring the first goal. But for Hyderbad coach Manuel Marquez, that doesn’t mean they are to be taken lightly.
“All the other teams, from Kerala who are second from the bottom, till the top positions, can climb positions in the table,” Marquez said.
“We will play with Kerala with our style. We will not change that because (we need to win). We are nine games unbeaten but six of them are draws. We have to continue in the same vein and try to win the game because our season has been fantastic. We want to be in the top four,” he added.
Plenty of drama can be expected from these two sides right until the final whistle. Fourteen of Kerala’s 22 goals have come in the second half while Hyderadad have scored 16 goals after the break – the second-most by a side this season.
The defenses of both sides have also not handled pressure well during this period. Kerala have conceded 18 goals in the second half, most by a team this season. Meanwhile, Hyderabad have conceded 11 of their 17 goals in the second period. However, one big area Kerala coach Kibu Vicuna wants his side to improve on their ability to convert chances.
“We have a lack of balance between attack and defense. Most of our games, we have been creating more chances than the opponents but we are not getting the points. We have to improve this aspect. We are working and analysing our mistakes. We are trying to have a more positive percentage in the relation between creating chances and scoring goals,” Vicuna stated. (ANI)

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New Zealand abandon Pak tour after security alert

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The Blackcaps have abandoned their tour of Pakistan following a New Zealand government security alert, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) informed on Friday.The side was to play Pakistan on Friday in the first of three ODIs in Rawalpindi, before moving to Lahore for a five-match T20 series.

New Zealand was slated to play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003. “However, following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour,” NZC said in a statement.

NZC chief executive David White said it was simply not possible to continue with the tour given the advice he was receiving. “I understand this will be a blow for the PCB, who have been wonderful hosts, but player safety is paramount and we believe this is the only responsible option,” he said. NZC said arrangements are now being made for the team’s departure.New Zealand Cricket Players Association chief executive Heath Mills echoed White’s sentiments.

“We’ve been across this process throughout and are fully supportive of the decision. The players are in good hands; they’re safe — and everyone’s acting in their best interests,” he said.

NZC said it will not comment on the details of the security threat nor the updated arrangements for the departing squad.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Friday before Blackcaps announced that they are abandoning their tour of Pakistan.

Imran Khan assured Ardern that Pakistan has one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team but New Zealand Cricket (NZC) still decided to return home after the NZ government security alert.

“Earlier today, New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series. Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team,” Pakistan Cricket Board stated in a statement.“The security officials with the New Zealand team have been satisfied with security arrangements made by the Pakistan Government throughout their stay here,” PCB added.

PCB is willing to continue the scheduled matches. “However, cricket lovers in Pakistan and around the world will be disappointed by this last minute withdrawal,” said PCB.

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Kusal Perera doubtful for T20 World Cup after sustaining hamstring injury

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Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Perera is doubtful for the upcoming T20 World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury during the side’s third T20I against South Africa.

Perera was seen struggling with his hamstring while running between the wickets during his innings. “The injury is a sprinter’s injury, which can be picked up while running between the wickets. Because of the nature of the injury, we can’t do a fast rehabilitation,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Sri Lanka team physician Dr. Daminda Attanayake as saying. Allrounder Lahiru Madushanka is also out of the World Cup, after fracturing his collarbone while fielding in the same match.

Sri Lanka on Sunday had announced their 15-member squad for the upcoming ICC men’s T20 World Cup. Dasun Shanaka will lead the side as Sri Lanka begin their campaign on October 18 against Namibia in Abu Dhabi in Group A.

Sri Lanka Squad: Dasun Shanaka (c), Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kamindu Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Praveen Jayawickrema, Lahiru Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana.

Reserves: Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Pulina Tharanga.

Sri Lanka will leave for Oman on October 3 to take part in two T20Is ahead of their participation in the ICC men’s T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said the two games which will be played on October 7 and 9 will provide the visiting team with a preparation ground for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Following the two games against Oman, Sri Lanka will play in two ICC-organised World Cup warm-up games, on October 12 and 14 before commencing its T20 World Cup campaign.

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SANIA MIRZA AND SHUAI ZHANG THROUGH TO QUARTERS

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India’s ace tennis star Sania Mirza and her partner Shuai Zhang entered the women’s doubles quarter-finals at the Luxembourg Open tennis tournament.

Sania and Zhang beat German twins Tayisiya Morderger and Yana Morderger 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16 on Wednesday, as per olympics.com. Sania Mirza is a six-time Grand Slam doubles champion while Shuai Zhang won her second Grand Slam title at the 2021 US Open, partnering Australia’s Samantha Stosur.

The Indo-Chinese pair are seeded second for the Luxembourg Open.

It was an emotional moment when Minella’s final match ended around 8pm on Wednesday. The Luxembourgish tennis star lost both sets 3:6 against Alizé Cornet from France. It was the last time that the 35-year-old will perform in the singles category in Kockelscheuer.

On Tuesday, Minella crowned her 17th and final participation with an opening win in round one, an achievement which she never managed before. However, against Cornet on Wednesday, Minella eventually saw the end closing in: “It was really hard to hold back my emotions, but I was happy to have this moment here at home. I want to thank everyone who was present.”

Exactly 20 years ago, Minella played her first Luxembourg Open tournament in Kockelschuer at the age of 15.

Meanwhile, Sania Mirza and Shuai Zhang will now take on the Belgian pair of Greet Minnen and Alison Van Uytvanck in the last eight on Thursday evening.

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PAKISTAN GEAR UP TO TAKE ON NEW ZEALAND AT HOME AFTER 18 YEARS

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History will be made on Friday when Babar Azam’s Pakistan take on Tom Latham’s New Zealand in the first of the three One-Day Internationals at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. The occasion will see the tourists play their first match on Pakistan soil since 2003.

This will be the fourth time the two sides will meet at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in an ODI with Pakistan enjoying a 3-0 advantage. Prior to this match, Pakistan and New Zealand have met 19 times in an ODI in Pakistan between 1976 and 2003 with Pakistan winning 16 times, a PCB release stated. Pakistan and New Zealand last met in an international 50-over competition during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 when Babar Azam’s glorious century anchored his side to a fabulous six-wicket win at Birmingham.

This series provides an opportunity for sixth-ranked Pakistan to climb a spot in the ICC Rankings. If the hosts beat the tourists by a 3-0 scoreline, they would jump to the fifth position, however, any other result will see both sides retain their pre-series rankings.

The series will not be part of the ICC World Cup Super League as both the PCB and NZC have mutually agreed to swap the status of this series with the one taking place in the 2022-23 season. This means the ODI series in the 2022-23 season will count towards the World Cup 2023 qualification while the series commencing on Friday will be a bilateral fixture in which team and player ranking points will be up for grabs.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam, in his pre-series media conference held online, said: “Finally, the day has arrived and our entire camp is very excited to play New Zealand at home. We have practised hard for this series and I am sure we will take full advantage of our home conditions.

“We have a balanced squad and I remain optimistic about our chances in what promises to be an exciting series. I am sure fans at the stadium and millions watching us on screens will enjoy these matches.”

New Zealand captain Tom Latham said: “We know it is special for Pakistan to have cricket in their country and we are excited to be here. Pakistan is a quality side and they have some talented white-ball players in their line-up.

“We have desired fire-power in our ranks to win this series and I am sure our batters and bowlers will rise to the occasion and make this historic series memorable for us.”

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VIRAT KOHLI WILL STEP DOWN AS INDIA’S T20I SKIPPER AFTER 2021 WORLD CUP

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India skipper Virat Kohli has decided to step down from T20I captaincy after the ICC T20 World Cup in November this year.

Kohli explained his decision to leave the T20I captaincy in a statement on Twitter. The India skipper said he needs to give himself space in order to play all three formats for the country. “I have been fortunate enough to not only represent India but also lead the Indian Cricket Team to my utmost capability. I thank everyone who has supported me in my journey as the Captain of the Indian Cricket Team,” Kohli said in a statement.

“I couldn’t have done it without them — the boys, the support staff, the selection committee, my coaches, and each and every Indian who prayed for us to win.

“Understanding workload is a very important thing and considering my immense workload over the last 8-9 years playing all 3 formats and captaining regularly for last 5-6 years, I feel I need to give myself space to be fully ready to lead the Indian Team in Test and ODI Cricket. I have given everything to the Team during my time as T20 Captain and I will continue to do so for the T20 Team as a batsman moving forward,” he added.

Kohli said he arrived at his decision after discussing with head coach Ravi Shastri and opening batsman Rohit Sharma.

“Of course, arriving at this decision took a lot of time. After a lot of contemplation and discussions with my close people, Ravi bhai and also Rohit, who have been an essential part of the leadership group, I’ve decided to step down as the T20 Captain after this T20 World Cup in Dubai in October,” said Kohli.

“I have also spoken to the secretary Mr Jay Shah and the President of BCCI Mr Sourav Ganguly along with all the selectors about the same. I will continue to serve Indian Cricket and the Indian Team to the best of my ability,” he added.

“We have a clear roadmap for Team India. Considering the workloads and ensuring that we have smooth transition, Virat Kohli has decided to step down as T20I captain after the upcoming World Cup. I have been in discussions with Virat and the leadership team for the last six months and the decision has been thought through. Virat will continue to contribute as a player and as a senior member of the side in shaping the future course of Indian cricket,” BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said.

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‘Kohli would be under immense pressure if RCB don’t lift the title’

Former KKR captain Gautam Gambhir believes a huge milestone lies ahead of RCB skipper Virat Kohli as his red-brigade eyes to win their maiden league title. RCB are meanwhile comfortably placed at third position on the points table.

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Indian skipper Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore is one of the teams that is yet to win an Indian Premier League (IPL) title. After losing the final in 2016, the team had struggled to make it to the playoffs in following seasons until last year when they finished fourth in league stage. Nevertheless, RCB was knocked out from the tourney after they lost the cliffhanging eliminator.

Later, in the 14th edition, RCB kicked off the tournament in style. The unit looked entirely different in terms of performance, unlike the previous editions. Prior to the cancellation of the league due to a Covid outbreak in its bio-bubble, Kohli’s red-brigade had won 5 out 7 games and are now comfortably placed at third position on the points table.

Meanwhile, as the second phase of IPL 2021 is a few days away, Kohli and his team would look to start afresh and aim for their maiden title. Nonetheless, Gautam Gambhir, former Kolkata Knight Riders captain, believes that RCB has several big-ticket players who can dominate the opposition.

“He’s (Virat) got people like AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, which is a huge cushion to have. Even if it’s not Maxwell, AB is a massive cushion because there is only one person who can take on someone like Jasprit Bumrah and it was AB de Villiers. I have not seen anyone else who has done that consistently against Bumrah, but AB is a freak,” Gambhir— who will be a part of Hindi commentary panel for the UAE leg of IPL 2021— said in a conversation with Star Sports network.

Former KKR skipper further highlighted the amount pressure on Kohli and De Villiers as they will definitely eye to grab their first league title.

“But yes obviously, from Virat’s standard they would want to go out and dominate the opposition, especially in the IPL. There’s international cricket where you’ve got 5 or 6 top international bowlers, you don’t have that in the IPL.

“You probably get 2 or 3 international bowlers and then you’ve got domestic bowlers as well, whom you could dominate. So, probably there’s a lot of pressure on Virat and AB as well, which could be one of the reasons and year after year, if you don’t win that title the pressure keeps on increasing as well,” Gambhir added.

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