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Kohli to return home after 1st Oz Test, Rohit back in squad

Virat Kohli given paternity leave by BCCI; Selection Committee decides to rest Rohit Sharma for ODI, T20I series to regain full fitness but includes him in Test squad.

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In what is possibly the first instance of a male cricketer getting paternity leave during a Test series, especially a high-profile one, the Indian cricket board on Monday announced that it had allowed skipper Virat Kohli to return home after the first Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Kohli’s wife, actor Anushka Sharma, is due for delivery in January and the batting mainstay had asked for leave from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The first five-day Test begins on December 17. However, there is no clarity on whether or not Kohli would return for the remainder of the four-Test series as the BCCI did not clarify this in the press release.

In Kohli’s absence, India will be led by vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane in the remaining three Test matches, as per the established practice of vice-captain taking over the reins in absence of the captain.

The selectors did not respond to questions from IANS on this.

The BCCI also announced the inclusion of Rohit Sharma in the Test side. He will, however, be rested for the ODIs and T20 International series preceding the Tests.

Sharma’s exclusion had led to controversy and left the BCCI red-faced, as the day the board president Sourav Ganguly said he was injured, Sharma turned up for his Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians to play the last league match against SunRisers Hyderabad.

Former administrators and selectors who IANS spoke to regarding this said that they had never come across an instance where the player has taken paternity leave. They, however, supported the move saying the onus lies on the player and that it was natural that a player wanted to be with the spouse at a crucial stage like this.

“I can’t recall this happening before but there is nothing wrong in this. I think it depends on the player if he wants to play or not. I think BCCI has done well to allow him this break,” former BCCI vice-president Niranjan Shah told IANS.

Former chief selector Kiran More said that Kohli was well within his rights to ask for a leave and the BCCI has done the right thing to agree to it.

“Back in our days, we used to play fewer Tests and other internationals, and there was no IPL. So, a paternity leave was not thought of. Cricketers nowadays play so much cricket that breaks, especially for such occasions, are needed. I think this is a very positive move from the board,” More told IANS.

“We have seen paternity leave given to players by other [foreign] cricket boards. Becoming a parent is a big occasion in one’s life. Also, you have to see that Kohli hasn’t taken a break for about 10-12 years now,” he said.

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BCCI invites bids for Turnkey Design Build Construction Services for upcoming NCA campus

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 7 (ANI): The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday invited bids for the Turnkey Design Build Construction Services for the upcoming campus of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at Bengaluru, through a tender process.
“As a part of the tendering process, the winning bidder will be awarded the contract for providing the turnkey design-build construction services for the upcoming National Cricket Academy,” BCCI said in a statement.
“The Request for Proposal (RFP) document is available from March 5, 2021. The tender document will remain for purchase till March 20, 2021,” it added.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position. (ANI)

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Swiss Open: Carolina Marin defeats PV Sindhu to win women’s singles title

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Basel [Switzerland], March 7 (ANI): Indian shuttler PV Sindhu on Sunday suffered a 12-21, 5-21 defeat at the hands of Carolina Marin in the final of the Swiss Open here.
Marin was at her best in the match and while Sindhu gave a bit of competition in the first game, the Spanish shuttler completely dominated her opponent in the second game to easily win the women’s singles title.
In the second game, Marin did not let Sindhu settle and took a massive 14-2 lead. The Indian shuttler had no answers to Marin’s aggressive gameplay and went on to lose the match that lasted for 35 minutes.
On Saturday, Sindhu had progressed to the final of the tournament after registering a straight games win over Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the semi-final. The Rio Olympics silver medalist had clinched the clash 22-20, 21-10 that lasted for 43 minutes.
While, Spanish badminton player, Marin, had beaten Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-15, 20-22, 21-19 in the semifinal to set up the summit clash with the India shuttler.
After the game on Saturday, Sindhu had admitted that the final won’t be an easy match.
“Am happy that I am through to the finals, it’s been a good win today for me, and playing against Mia was a kind of revenge because in Thailand I had lost against her so this win was very important for me,” Sindhu had said.
“Yeah really looking forward to the finals. Carolina is a good player so it won’t be an easy match, I have to play my 100 per cent,” she had added. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Ashwin, Axar made life very hard for us, says Silverwood after losing series

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 7 (ANI): After losing the Test series against India, England coach Chris Silverwood praised opposition’s spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin saying the duo made life very hard for them.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England.
Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
Ashwin finished the four-match series against England with a tally of 32 wickets and he picked up his eighth Man of the Series award. Axar, on the other hand, claimed 27 wickets in the series.
“They (Ashwin and Axar) made life very hard for us… India outplayed us and they deserve a lot of credit. They came back hard after the first Test,” Silverwood said during a virtual press conference.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
England had won the first Test against India but the hosts were quick to bounce back from the defeat and won the next three games.
Silverwood also said: “We came here wanting to win this. We went hard in the first Test and won it and then India came back hard in the last three Tests. It is a very difficult place to come and win. Time and time again, history tells us that and not just for England but for other teams as well.” (ANI)

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Man Utd need ‘almost perfection’ to beat Man City: Fernandes

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Manchester [UK], March 7 (ANI): Ahead of the clash against Manchester City, Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes acknowledged the threat their opponents can pose and said his side needs “almost perfection” to win the game.
Manchester City have been performing brilliantly and atop the Premier League table with 65 points, 14 points ahead of the third-placed Manchester United.
“We know it’s always difficult to play against City; we have to do everything good, almost perfection I think. The idea of the football they play is easy to understand but it’s difficult to play against. Everyone understands the way they play, they want to have the ball, they want to put pressure on and when they lose it they try to win it straight away,” the club’s official website quoted Fernandes as saying.
“Everyone knows that, but it’s difficult to play against and difficult to win the ball and have some possession for a long time against them. But I think we have to understand what we can do against that type of game and what we can do better to win the game. We all know it’s difficult for us, but it will be difficult for them in the same way,” he added.
Manchester United, in the previous game, were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace on March 4. Fernandes feels that there’s no better game than this to show that they are a better team than that.
“Everyone is looking forward to it after a draw where we should have won that game [against Crystal Palace] and done much better and created much more. We don’t create enough chances, but at the same time we can do much better and there’s no better game than this to show we are a better team than that,” he said.
Manchester United will take on Manchester City on Sunday. (ANI)

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IND W v SA W: We’ll learn from our mistakes, says Harmanpreet after defeat

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Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 7 (ANI): After suffering a massive defeat in the first ODI against South Africa Women, India Women’s team’s vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur said her side’s batters failed to build good partnerships but asserted that players will learn from their mistakes.
South Africa Women defeated India Women by eight wickets in the first ODI on Sunday here at the Ekana Cricket Stadium. With this victory, the visitors took a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.
“They bowled well. We gave our wickets away but we cannot give away wickets that easily. We will try to build partnerships in the next games because, in long format games, you need those partnerships,” Harmanpreet said during the virtual post-match press conference.
Harmanpreet also feels that lack of game time also played a bit of a role as players’ struggled to find the rhythm. The Indian women’s cricket team last played cricket during the Women’s T20 Challenge in November 2020 while their last international match was on March 8, 2020, when they faced Australia in the T20 World Cup final.
“We didn’t play that much cricket recently and apart from the Women’s T20 Challenge, we did not get much time where we could work as a unit. As a team, you need to spend some time on the field and get ready for any series. But we are a side that likes to learn from our mistakes. We will definitely learn from our mistakes and try to prove ourselves,” she said.
During the match, Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee formed a stunning 169-run partnership to help South Africa chase down the target of 178 runs. Giving an honest assessment of the team’s bowling performance, Harmanpreet said it was “not up to the mark.”
“In bowling as well, there was no partnership. I feel in the next game, we need to that. Our bowling was not up to the mark. We have very experienced bowlers and our spinners are very good, but it can happen when you are playing after a long time and sometimes, things may not go in your favour. But we will work on that,” Harmanpreet said.
The second ODI will be played on Tuesday. (ANI)

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ISL 7: Mumbai City aiming for final punch over depleted FC Goa

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Goa [India], March 7 (ANI): Seven Indian Super League (ISL) seasons and Mumbai City FC have never made it to the final. After securing the League Winners Shield for the first time, the Islanders will hope to achieve another feat in what has been an incredible season as they face FC Goa in the second leg of their semi-finals at the GMC Stadium, Bambolim on Monday.
Mumbai finished the first leg with a 2-2 draw, despite Goa taking the lead on two occasions. But the table-toppers were not at their best, with the Gaurs fashioning better chances and dominating the majority of the game.
However, the result could have been different. They registered a total of 12 shots in the first leg, more than their opponents, but only three were on target, highlighting their wastefulness in front of goal. And Mumbai coach Sergio Lobera admitted that his side needed to put up a better show in the return leg.
“I am not happy (with the result),” Lobera said. “We had chances to score more goals and we need to be clinical in these situations. The game was very open (but) we didn’t have control of the game during some periods and gave them the opportunity to play between the lines. We need to improve on this.”
Goa, meanwhile, will be at a slight disadvantage after losing a few key players to injuries in the first leg. The draw in the first leg will seem like a missed opportunity for Juan Ferrando’s side, who took the lead twice in the game but saw their defence crumble under pressure, yet again. Goa may have been unbeaten for 14 games now but their backline will need to step up, if the two-time finalists harbour any hopes of getting past Mumbai.
They have kept only three clean sheets (only Odisha have kept fewer this season) and will be facing a side with the most goals this season. Ferrando revealed he wanted more than just a draw from the first leg.
“We are not very happy because we wanted to win,” he said. “The most important (thing) now is the players are 100 per cent ready. It’s a great opportunity for us to continue to improve and continue working. We hope to be in the final.”
While Princeton Rebello will be out, the return of Alberto Noguera and Ivan Gonzalez will serve as a much-needed boost for Goa. “We have some problems but we’ll see,” Ferrando said. (ANI)

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