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Kohli and boys look to keep winning momentum going with eye on WTC

India defeated England by 317 runs in the second Test and now both teams are set to battle it out in the day-night Test at the newly-built Motera Stadium.

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High on confidence after thrashing England in the second Test in Chennai, the Virat Kohli-led Indian team will look to keep the winning momentum going when they take the field in the pink-ball Test, starting Wednesday. A win will take them one step closer to a spot in the final of the maiden World Test Championship.

India had defeated England by 317 runs in the second Test and now both teams are getting ready to battle it out in the day-night Test at the newly-built Motera Stadium. The pink-ball Test has traditionally offered a lot of assistance to the seamers, but this upcoming match at the Motera Stadium maybe a different ball game as Rohit Sharma on Sunday suggested that critics shouldn’t pull the BCCI up for preparing spin-friendly wickets.

India went in with three spinners in the second Test — Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel — but it is safe to say the side will look at going in with two spinners and Kuldeep may face the axe.

Umesh Yadav had passed his fitness Test on Sunday and as a result, he has been added to the hosts’ squad. The returning pacer may be given a go straight away along with Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma. But Mohammed Siraj will also look to give Umesh tough competition for a place in the XI.

India’s last pink-ball game was a story to forget as the side was bundled out for 36 in the second innings against Australia in Adelaide. But looking at the recent history, one can say past performances do not play on the mind of this Indian team.

India had played it’s first pink-ball game against Bangladesh in 2019 at the Eden Gardens and in that contest, the pacers unleashed a short-ball barrage at the Bangladesh side and it is to be seen whether the same tactic is employed against England as well. But Mohammad Shami had played an integral part in that game and his presence will be missed as the pacer knows a thing or two about making the pink SG ball talk.

On the other hand, England has problems of plenty as their rotation policy continues to baffle the fans and experts. James Anderson, who was rested for the second Test, is set to play at Motera while Jofra Archer is also most likely to get the green from the team management. Whether the visitors decide to give Stuart Broad another go in this series, is a big debating point.

Zak Crawley had missed the first two Tests against India after slipping in the dressing room while Jonny Bairstow was rested for the first two Tests. The latter is set to come into the team as Dan Lawrence has no big scores to his name in this series. Whether the visitors give Crawley a chance in place of Dom Sibley or Rory Burns, it is left to be seen.

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Pant ‘more than ready’ to fill void created post Dhoni’s retirement, feels Rohit

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): India opener Rohit Sharma feels wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant is “more than ready” to fill the void created after former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement.
Considered one of the greatest finishers in modern-day cricket, Dhoni was also the master tactician behind the stumps and after Pant’s heroics on the second day of the fourth Test, Rohit feels Pant is ready to follow the footsteps of the former captain.
The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test against England with his third century in Test cricket.
On being asked if Pant was ready to fill the void created by Dhoni’s retirement, Rohit in the virtual press conference replied,” He seems to be doing a job for us, so he’s more than ready I guess!”
Having started cautiously, Pant took the English bowlers to the cleaners in the final session to take the game away from the visitors and put the hosts in the driver’s seat.
Rohit defended Pant’s approach in Test cricket saying that the wicket-keeper batsman has his own style of batting and one must back him. The opening batsman also revealed the team has given the license to Pant to play his natural game.
“Pant has his own style of batting. Of course, there have been messages from the team management on how he needs to approach the game but you know he seems to be batting in his own style which seems to be fine,” said Rohit on Friday.
“He is getting the job done and that’s more important for us and you saw in this innings as well. The first half of his innings he was quite respectful and then once we got to 200 he just wanted to take on the bowlers,” he further said.
“You need those kinds of players in your team who are not afraid to take on the bowlers and who are ready to grab the chances with both hands. You should have a mix of players in your squad,” Rohit added.
With wickets tumbling around him, Pant took 82 balls to reach his first fifty runs. But the next 50 came off just 33 balls as he decided to send the English bowlers on a leather hunt.
Rohit explained how Pant’s style of hitting has put India on top after being four down with 80 runs on board in the morning.
“Pant is courageous enough to take chances. There will be times when he will play shots and get out but I don’t want anyone to get upset. As he is the kind of player who will play like that and get the job done for the team. Like today we were on backfoot and suddenly within a span of one hour we were in the drivers’ seat,” said Rohit.
“You need players like Pant and management completely understands this and we are ready to take those chances with him and he has been given that freedom to go on and express himself,” he added. (ANI)

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Pant will be an all-time great in all formats in years to come: Ganguly

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): India looked in a tough situation after losing early wickets on day two of the fourth Test against England, but wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant put the hosts back in the driver’s seat with this brilliant century.
Praising Pant for his “unbelievable” knock, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly said that the player will be an “all-time great in all formats” in the years to come.
“How good is he? Unbelievable..what a knock under pressure…not the first time and won’t be the last time..will be an all time great in all formats in the years to come.keep batting in this aggressive manner .thats why will be match winner and special..@bcci @RishabhPant17,” Ganguly tweeted.
Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Pant’s belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.
The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test with his third century in Test cricket. Having started cautiously, Pant took the English bowlers to the cleaners in the final session to take the game away from the visitors and put the hosts on top.
India opener Rohit Sharma on Friday labelled Pant’s 101-run knock as the finest he has seen from the wicketkeeper-batsman so far in the longest format of the game.
“In my opinion, it was probably his (Pant) finest knock. It came under pressure as well, we were not in a good position when he came out to bat. We saw few sides of Rishabh Pant’s knock today. He was cautious at the beginning and then he actually flourished like we know Rishabh can. He put the team into a good position, when we came inside during the tea break, the message to both Rishabh and Washington Sundar was that we need to get to England’s score and then try to press from there.
“Then, Rishabh played his natural game, which is absolutely fine and a lot of courage he showed in the middle and it was fantastic,” said Rohit while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference on Friday.
At stumps, India’s score read 294/7 with Washington Sundar (60) and Axar Patel (11) at the crease — leading the visitors by 89 runs in the first innings. India scored 141 runs in 32 overs in the final session of the second day. (ANI)

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Gujarat State Futsal Club Championship to kick off from Sunday

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): Gujarat State Football Association (GSFA) is hosting the first-ever Gujarat State Futsal Club Championship 2021 slated to be played from March 7 to 11 at Bhavnagar.
The tournament will be played in the hall on the wooden court of the Sports Complex of Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG) at Bhavnagar.
“With this, the Gujarat state also becomes the first in the country to take initiative to promote and develop the new form of football in the state. The enthusiasm of organising team of GSFA is upbeat as Bhavnagar-based firm M/s Acrysil Ltd came forward to sponsor the championship and the SAG agreed to provide the indoor wooden court,” the GFSA said in an official statement.
As many as 11 clubs are participating in this 5-day tournament named Gujarat State Futsal Championship. A minimum of 4 matches will be played by each team.
In accordance with the criteria prescribed by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), a state should have a minimum of eight participating club teams, minimum of three matches per team, and a minimum of four days of the championship.
Futsal (also known as futsal or footsal) is a football game played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors.
Futsal is played between two teams of five players each, one of who is the goalkeeper. Unlimited substitutions are permitted. Futsal is also played with a smaller, harder, low-bounce ball.
The surface, ball and rules together favour ball control and passing in small spaces. The emphasis of this type of football, however, is on improvisation, creativity, and technique.
During the sabbatical of the field football due to pandemic, GSFA actively participated in AIFF online sessions on a variety of topics including futsal. Coaches and referees were trained online about various aspects of futsal.
The State Women League recently and the Futsal Championship are corollary to those sessions. GSFA has many more such events in store such as baby leagues, sub-junior, junior and seniors leagues etc for boys and girls both. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Pant showed great courage, probably his ‘finest’ knock, says Rohit

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): India opener Rohit Sharma on Friday labelled Rishabh Pant’s 101-run knock as the finest he has seen from the wicketkeeper-batsman so far in the longest format of the game.
Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Pant’s belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday. The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test against England with his third century in Test cricket.
“In my opinion, it was probably his (Pant) finest knock. It came under pressure as well, we were not in a good position when he came out to bat. We saw few sides of Rishabh Pant’s knock today. He was cautious at the beginning and then he actually flourished like we know Rishabh can. He put the team into a good position, when we came inside during the tea break, the message to both Rishabh and Washington Sundar was that we need to get to England’s score and then try to press from there.
“Then, Rishabh played his natural game, which is absolutely fine and a lot of courage he showed in the middle and it was fantastic,” said Rohit while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference on Friday.
When asked about the pitch behaviour in the first session, where India lost three wickets, Rohit said: “The pitch was fine, good to bat on. There was some help for the seamers and the spinners. We know that early on there is a lot of moisture on the pitch, we need to get through that 40-45 minutes in the beginning. We did that pretty well, actually, unfortunately, we lost Pujara at that time. We played that spell of Anderson and Stokes pretty well. They bowled in good areas, got some wickets as well.
“But it was important for us that we make sure to assess the pitch and try to build partnerships. England’s first innings was a small total so we needed to get to their total first. Test cricket we have seen many times that there could be occasions where you could be tested. We knew there was something on offer for the bowlers, it was important for us to not lose many wickets. Unfortunately, we lost few wickets but we knew we were in the game if we keep on batting as long as possible,” he added.
Further elaborating on his point, Rohit said: “Rishabh took his chances after tea, they came off and that is something we need, we need that spark in the middle and Pant brings that for us. He understands his game really well now. You need to give credit to Washington as well for the way he batted, he showed a lot of respect and he was tight on his technique and he put away the loose balls when they were on offer. We were on the backfoot when we lost wickets but the partnership between Washington and Rishabh was so important from the team’s perspective. They put us in the driver’s seat, our lead is 90-odd which is fantastic and I just hope Axar and Washington can carry the same intent tomorrow as well.”
At stumps, India’s score read 294/7 with Washington Sundar (60) and Axar Patel (11) at the crease — leading the visitors by 89 runs in the first innings. India scored 141 runs in 32 overs in the final session of the second day.
With wickets tumbling around him, Pant took 82 balls to reach his first fifty runs. But the next 50 came off just 33 balls as he decided to send the English bowlers on a leather hunt. The second new ball turned to be a blessing in disguise for the batsman as the ball started coming onto the bat beautifully and Pant was more than happy to bring out the unorthodox shots from the kitty. (ANI)

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Chelsea defeat ‘tough to take’: Alexander-Arnold

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Liverpool [UK], March 5 (ANI): Disappointed after being beaten by Chelsea in the Premier League, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold said the defeat is “tough to take”. Mason Mount scored a brilliant goal as Chelsea secured a 1-0 win here at Anfield on Friday. Also, with this win, Chelsea climbed to the fourth position in the Premier League table.
“Tough to take. These are the games that we need to win, especially with our aims and targets for the season. I’d say pushing for the top four, it’s massively important that we won today. But there’s nothing we can do about it now, except learn from it and pull out what we could have done better and go again. We’re on a quick turnaround to put things right on Sunday,” Alexander-Arnold told Liverpoolfc.com.
During the match, the Blues were the more dangerous side from the start, with Timo Werner twice going close early on and then having a goal overturned for offside after a Video Assistant Referee review. Mount gave Chelsea their deserved lead in the 42nd minute.
Chelsea, who are unbeaten in their 10 matches under head coach Thomas Tuchel in all competitions, leapfrogged West Ham United and Everton on the table. Whereas, Liverpool, who suffered their fifth successive home league defeat, drop to seventh.
Alexander-Arnold also said: “We’ve just got to play our natural game. It’s difficult when things are going wrong. You start overthinking and try to find what it is, and try to fix it as soon as possible. But I think as soon as we get back into a rhythm and winning games, then that’s OK. But it’s easier said than done.”
Liverpool will next play against Fulham on Sunday. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Pant’s heroics puts hosts on top after torrid start

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): Reverse sweeping James Anderson to pick a boundary on the second day of a Test match perfectly summed up Rishabh Pant’s belligerent knock at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday.
The swashbuckling wicket-keeper batsman single-handedly put India in command on the second day of the fourth Test against England with his third century in Test cricket. Having started cautiously, Pant took the English bowlers to the cleaners in the final session to take the game away from the visitors and put the hosts in the driver’s seat.
At stumps, India’s score read 294/7 with Washington Sundar (60) and Axar Patel (11) at the crease — leading the visitors by 89 runs in the first innings. India scored 141 runs in 32 overs in the final session of the second day.
With wickets tumbling around him, Pant took 82 balls to reach his first fifty runs. But the next 50 came off just 33 balls as he decided to send the English bowlers on a leather hunt. The second new ball turned to be a blessing in disguise for the batsman as the ball started coming onto the bat beautifully and he was more than happy to bring out the unorthodox shots from the kitty.
He found a perfect company in Sundar as the bowling all-rounder held one end up and gave Pant the freedom to wield the willow. To reverse sweep Anderson is audacious to say the least and to think the legend was bowling with the new ball makes it even braver.
Batting risk-free in the second session, Pant put on his dancing shoes post-tea and creamed a flurry of boundaries post the drinks break. A top-quality knock from Pant saw him receiving a standing ovation from the Ahmedabad crowd.
While Pant looked in sublime form as he smashed two consecutive boundaries off Anderson’s over just after the drinks break, Washington joined the party as he first hit a superb backfoot drive and then flashed hard at the ball for a four.
Having lost six wickets in the first two sessions, Pant and Washington started the final session cautiously but the wicket-keeper batsman soon changed gears. Minutes into the final session, Pant completed his seventh half-century in the longest format of the game. There was no looking back after that. In fact, the wicket-keeper brought up his third Test century with a six as he kept swatting the ball.
But Anderson broke the deadlock as Pant departed soon after his ton. Washinton continued his fine form and completed a well-made fifty with Axar Patel giving him company.
In the second session, Pant and Washington had taken India to 153/6 after losing Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin. A disciplined effort from the English bowlers saw the visitors taking the honours in the session. Rohit and Pant had started well in the post-lunch session as they looked to defend the good balls and score of the rare bad deliveries. But just when the two started to look good, Stokes sent back Rohit, one short of a much-deserved fifty.
Ashwin joined Pant in the middle and tried to accumulate runs to reduce the deficit. The duo had a brief 25-run partnership for the sixth wicket until Jack Leach sent Ashwin (13) back in the concluding minutes of the session.
In the first session, Anderson had claimed the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane at the stroke of lunch as England bowlers led the fightback for the visitors. Going into the morning session with the score of 24/1 and with Rohit and Pujara at the crease, the hosts would have liked to get closer to the visitors’ total without losing a wicket. But it wasn’t to be as Leach struck first to send back Pujara, leg before.
Virat Kohli too failed to leave a mark as Stokes produced a nothing shot to a ball that got big on the India skipper and ended up giving keeper Foakes an easy catch. India went to lunch with a scorecard of 80/4.
Brief Scores: England 205; India 294/7 (Rishabh Pant 101, Washington Sundar 60*; James Anderson 3-40) (ANI)

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