MANCHESTER CITY CAN TURN THE LEAGUE INTO A HORSE RACE - The Daily Guardian
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MANCHESTER CITY CAN TURN THE LEAGUE INTO A HORSE RACE

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This season of the English Premier League has been utterly unprecedented. We are halfway through the season and surprisingly, only 8 points separate Manchester City and the 7th placed Everton.

Guardiola’s men defeated West Brom 5-0 to take the top spot from neighbours Manchester United who lost a game in the English Premier League for the first time since November 1.

They are now the 9th side to top the table this season, the most in a single Premier league campaign since 1986. But the tides could now turn soon. Manchester City’s form has been excellent and they are now the team with the longest unbeaten run in Europe’s top 5 leagues (11 games).

Guardiola’s biggest problem—having a solid central defence pairing— seems to have been sorted. Manchester City is yet to concede a single goal when their first team keeper Ederson, Ruben Dias, and John Stones have been on the pitch at the same time. Ruben Dias has proved to be an exceptional addition after City’s initial woes. The team has witnessed a whopping 15 clean sheets in the 23 games, Dias conceding only 9 goals.

Moreover, every single player for the blues seems to have hit the form at the right time. 8 different players have scored goals for Manchester City in the Premier League in January.

Adding to this, signs of instability in other clubs too could help City’s cause. Manchester United possibly played their worst game this season against Sheffield United, Liverpool defeated Spurs but they have lost 3 and drawn 1 game out of the 6 games in January. Spurs have had an on and off campaign, now having lost to Liverpool. Chelsea and Arsenal are far too behind to be a problem any time soon. Leicester look promising but their lack of squad depth could prove costly in the long run.

A 100% run in the upcoming month could be all that Manchester City need to place one hand on the title and they do have the squad depth to face challenges rising out of the Champions League which resumes midway this month.

We could see Manchester City run away with their 7th Premier League title, also adding to their manager Pep Guardiola’s exceptional trophy tally.

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Marcus Trescothick named England’s batting coach

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London [UK], March 1 (ANI): Former opener Marcus Trescothick has been appointed as England’s new elite batting coach, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday. In the bowling department, Jon Lewis and Jeetan Patel have been named as England’s pace and spin bowling coaches respectively.
Trescothick will take up the new role in the middle of March. He will step down from his role as assistant coach at Somerset County Cricket Club.
Current Young Lions head coach Lewis has been promoted to the role of Elite Pace Bowling Coach. The former England seamer has held numerous roles within the pathway set up after a successful playing career primarily with Gloucestershire but also including stints at Surrey and Sussex.
In addition, Jeetan has been appointed as a permanent elite spin bowling coach. Jeetan, the former New Zealand and Warwickshire spinner, joins the group permanently after several short-term spells working with the men’s team.
“Following an extensive recruitment process, I’m really excited about the calibre of the individuals that we’ve appointed into these specialist roles. Marcus, Jon and Jeetan have demonstrated their ability at the highest level and also show huge potential for the future. Working alongside Carl Hopkinson, our current Elite Fielding Coach, we have the makings of a strong specialist coaching team, possessing a diverse range of experience,” said England Wales and Cricket Board’s (ECB) Performance Director Mo Bobat in an official statement.
“Working in conjunction with counties, they will have responsibility for developing and preparing current and next-in-line England players whilst also adding value to our England and Lions environments. In addition, they will support the development of our best Under 19 players through our Young Lions programme,” he added.
The three roles attracted a high calibre of applicants and were subject to a rigorous recruitment process. As part of the move, Lewis will vacate his role as Young Lions head coach, and this role will be reconfigured into an Elite Pathway Coach role.
Given the strength of candidates shortlisted for the three elite roles, the Elite Pathway Coach role has also been filled through this process, with Richard Dawson being appointed.
Dawson takes up the new role in mid-April, having previously been Head Coach at Gloucestershire CCC. ECB would like to thank Gloucestershire for their support in releasing Richard to take up the role.
“Jon has done a fantastic job leading our Young Lions programme and England U19 team over the last couple of years. His change of role has provided the opportunity to look at that position with fresh eyes,” said Bobat.
“Given the strength of applicants that we’ve had through the recruitment process, and the need for us to have an adaptable coaching workforce, I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve been able to appoint Richard Dawson as our Elite Pathway Coach,” he added. (ANI)

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Jharkhand all-set to host 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Women National Championship

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): The wait for Indian players to sizzle on their home turf is nearly over with just ten days left before the start of the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Women National Championship 2021 which will kick-start an action-packed domestic hockey calendar.
Hockey Jharkhand has left no stone unturned to ensure the smooth function of the championship, which will be held in Simdega between March 10 to 18. The tournament will provide Indian youngsters the platform to showcase their talent and impress selectors, who will be present at the National Championships.
Twenty-one teams, with over 350 players as well as coaching and support staff, will arrive in Simdega for the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Women National Championship. As a part of Hockey India’s drive in spreading the game to every pocket of the country, Simdega, a district that has produced several hockey stars, has been given the nod to host the event. This is the first time Simdega, Jharkhand will be hosting a Hockey India National Championship. After five days of pool matches, the quarter-finals will be played on March 15, the semi-finals will be held on March 17 whereas the summit event is scheduled for March 18.
Hockey Jharkhand’s Organising Secretary Bijay Shankar Singh said: “We are very happy that Hockey India has given us the opportunity to host the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Women National Championship 2021. This the first event in the national championship calendar after the pandemic brought an abrupt halt to all sporting events last year. When we took up the onus of hosting this tournament, we knew the challenges as we are still battling the pandemic but what has really helped us go about our preparations confidently is the great support received from the Government of Jharkhand and the SOPs provided by Hockey India. It gives us a clear understanding of what needs to be done as organisers.”
He further emphasised that all safety measures will be in place for the tournament. “Apart from Hockey India SOPs, we will be adhering to guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as the Government of Jharkhand. We look forward to hosting a successful event,” he said.
Apart from several SOPs laid out by Hockey India, all athletes and officials need to have the Aaroya Setu app on their devices. They must also follow physical distancing measures at all locations, except athletes on the field. A Covid-19 task force will also be constituted by the organising committee to ensure the implementation of the protocols issued by the MHA and the respective state government.
Hockey Jharkhand has also appointed doctors Vivek Kishore and Pankaj Kumar as Hygiene Officers who will be present at the venue for participants’ well-being. (ANI)

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Vijender set for March 19 return to boxing ring, bout to take place on ship

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Undefeated professional boxing star Vijender Singh is set to make his return to the ring on March 19 and this time he will be exchanging fists in Vegas-style boxing on the Majestic Pride Casino Ship in Goa.
The first-of-its-kind fight will be held on the rooftop deck of the Majestic Pride Casino Ship — who have been roped in as the venue partner. The Majestic Pride is docked in the Mandovi River in Panaji, Goa.
The bout goes beyond the traditional norms of a regular professional match and offers viewers the glitz and glamour of Vegas-style boxing event. The announcement of Vijender’s opponent will be made soon.
Commenting on his fight Vijender said: “I am really excited to return to the ring. It excites me more to have my fight set-up on a ship. It is something that has never happened before in India and I am glad to be part of this unique professional match. I am pumped up and eager as ever to enter the ring again and have been training hard to keep myself fit for the bout.”
IOS has been instrumental in bringing professional boxing in India and has successfully conducted four fights, including two in New Delhi, one in Mumbai and another one in Jaipur. Now, Neerav Tomar, promoter IOS Boxing Promotions, plans to deliver a unique sporting event for boxing fans in the country.
On Vijender’s upcoming bout, Neerav said, “This will be a great opportunity for Indian fans to witness a unique sporting event organised locally. This whole year gave us ample time to invest our thoughts on doing something different this time and increasing the level of professional boxing in India. A boxing match on a ship is the perfect amalgamation of the intensity of boxing and razzmatazz of the entertaining casino. We hope all the fans watching or present at the venue will thoroughly enjoy the event.” (ANI)

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Aguero important for us, want to help him: Guardiola

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Manchester [UK], March 1 (ANI): Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said that striker Sergio Aguero will have to earn his place in the starting XI despite being the club’s highest goal-scorer.
A combination of injuries and COVID-19 has restricted Aguero to 11 appearances in all competitions this season.
The 32-year-old made his first start in four months in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham United, which marked City’s 20th straight victory in all competitions.
“He knows it. He knows it from day one, the guys who play deserve to play. From day one all my message is: ‘What we did two hours ago is over.’ It’s not just for Sergio — it’s for everyone. I try to make fair decisions. Fair for one player is unfair for another one,” Goal.com quoted Guardiola as saying.
“Today was a real tough game for the three players upfront. It’s good news he played 60 minutes and then the next game we need him, let’s go. Sergio is so important for us. He scored the most important goal in this club’s history. We want to help him — he will do it,” he added.
City is at the top of the Premier League standings with 62 points after 26 games, 12 points above rivals Manchester United. (ANI)

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T20 WC: Mani’s comments on visa assurance for Pak players surprising, says BCCI official

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ehsan Mani’s demand for visa assurance for Pakistan players, media and fans for the T20 World Cup to be held in India between October-November has surprised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Speaking to ANI, a board official said the comments are ‘immature’ and also pointed that the Indian government has already made its policy clear when it comes to handing visas to players for international sporting events.
“It was surprising to read Ehsan Mani’s comments, especially in the background of the wonderful working relationship that he shares with Sourav Ganguly (BCCI President) at the ICC. He is a gentleman and had in fact been a guide for Sourav during the pandemic along with Shashank (Manohar). One can’t help but think that it is very immature of Mani to give a statement like this,” the official said.
“It is almost as if he is either desperately looking for a way out of his team playing in the tournament or he is grandstanding for some constituency back home. If they want to make it a political issue, it is of course their own wish. They do know that a cricket board of a country has absolutely no locus standi to give any assurance on an issue, which is not in their purview and is firmly in the decision-making sphere of the government,” he added.
“What’s the next logical step? Will the ICC play a UN kind of role? Will Pakistan’s participation in tournaments depend upon an assurance that no acts of terror would originate on their soil?” the official enquired.
“Moreover, the government has already made their position crystal clear on the issue of visas and an informed person would be aware of it. Mani should be making efforts to try and normalise cricket relations between the two countries rather than making efforts to widen the gulf between them,” he asserted.
The issue of visas was laid to rest last year itself when the Indian government had written to the Presidents of the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) and the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
Then Sports Secretary Radhe Shyam Julaniya, in his letter on June 18, 2019, clearly stated that the country of origin of athletes would not be a barrier for them to get visas to come and compete in international sporting events in India. This after a couple of Pakistan shooters were denied visa to compete in the ISSF World Shooting championship in the national capital. The visa issue had led to the IOC reconsidering the decision to hand India international sports events.
Mani on Sunday said the PCB has sent a letter addressed to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in order to get details about the issuance of visas from India for the T20 World Cup.
“India is set to host T20 World Cup in October-November this year. I have told the board that we want written confirmation from India that our fans, journalists, and players will get visas. I have a meeting with ICC and I will raise this point once again,” said Mani.
Mani also said if India fails to provide assurance then the T20 World Cup needs to be shifted somewhere else. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Rahane ‘stretching limits’ in training ahead of final Test

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New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series, India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is sweating it out at the training ground to ensure that he puts on a great show at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Taking to Twitter the middle-order batsman wrote, “Stretching limits as we enter the last few days of training before the final test match.”
On Sunday, India had a grind in the nets and everyone was seen having a hit in the middle.
Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) official handle had tweeted the photos from the training session and captioned the post as: “#TeamIndia members gearing up for the fourth and final Test against England.”
In the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, 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 manage 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.
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners.
But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. After the match, Rohit had clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
The hosts are leading the series 2-1 and the fourth Test of the series will commence on Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium. (ANI)

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