Spaniard Rafael Nadal led the tennis world in paying tribute to Argentine soccer great Diego Maradona who died at the age of 60 on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack.“Today the world of sports in general and football in particular has a void,” Nadal, who is tied with Roger Federer for a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, said on Twitter.“One of the greatest sportsmen in history, Diego Maradona, has left us. What he did in football will remain. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his family, the world of football, and to all of Argentina.”The men’s ATP Tour remembered Maradona, who took Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, with a social media post saying “A champion and icon loved by all”, accompanied with a picture of Maradona with Federer.Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who said recently his parents named him after Maradona like many others in the country after the World Cup victory, paid tribute in a social media post. “How could you not be named Diego? I love you forever D10S (‘god’),” the current world number nine wrote.
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You’re going to land of spin, should expect that: Vivian Richards bats for same pitch for 4th Test
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Amid debate over the third Test pitch, West Indies great Vivian Richards slammed England for complaining about the spinning wicket and added that he wants to see a similar track in the final Test of the series.
India had managed to defeat England 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 didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.
India batsman Rohit Sharma 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. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also echoed the sentiments.
Further, Richards also feels that batters need to prepare themselves for these conditions rather than complaining about the spinning conditions.
“I’ve been asked questions recently about the Test match that was played in India… the second and third Test match against England. And I am a little confused about the question really because there seems to be a lot of moaning and groaning about the wicket that they were playing on. I just felt that the ones who are moaning, in my opinion, should realise that there are times that you’re going to get a seaming track, a ball that is basically jumping off a good length and everyone thinks that’s a problem for batters. There are times batters sometimes cope with that,” Richards said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
“But now you’ve seen the other side, and this is why I think it was given the name Test match cricket, because of the test of the mind and will and everything else that goes with it when you’re competing. And the complaints have been that the wicket is spinning too much and all that sorts of stuff. This is another side of the arc guys. People seem to forget that if you’re going to India, you should expect that. You are going to spin land. You should basically prepare yourself to know what you’re going to encounter.
“Rather than the moaning and groaning, especially just recently how quickly that Test match was over. It gives England an opportunity and a chance to assess things, to believe that for some reason the wicket that they’re going to encounter in the fourth Test is going to be the same. If I was India or I had anything to do with the preparations of the wicket, I would bring in very much the same,” Richards added.
One of the living legends of the game Richards went on to praise the Indian side and said England should come out of their comfort zone and they have to face the spin.
“Ever since that first Test match, England were in their comfort zone. They have now been taken out of their comfort zone at present and they have got to find ways and means to cope with what they are going to encounter. Spin in all part of the game, this is what a Test match brings. The Indian pacers have been brilliant over the past few years in terms of substance, wicket-taking ability and stuff like that. But now that you’re in India, you are going to encounter things and have got to find a way. You’re going to get dirty. There is nothing in the rule book that says I’ve got to score my runs in pretty, classical ways,” he said.
“I just believe all the moaning and groaning has got to stop and just see the classical side of things in terms of the Indian armoury. And from where I’m sitting, it’s good to see,” the West Indian signed off.
On Sunday, England wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes said that his side knows that the pitch is going to turn from ball one as the hosts are pushing their conditions to the extremities.
“Obviously, we got thoroughly outplayed. Those were tricky conditions, but they played well. They have a couple of class spinners and we did not have answers to them so I think going forward, we have to be good enough to counter that to score big runs on the board. I think we know what we are going to get in the last Test in terms of surface. They are pushing their conditions to the extremities and we know it is going to spin from ball number one, it is about finding a way to play well in those conditions,” said Foakes during a virtual press conference on Sunday.
“The last two pitches are the hardest I have kept on, the last game, the pink-ball was skidding and the amount it was spinning, I have never seen that and it was a challenge to keep on those wickets. We have been outplayed in the last two games, but we are in a position to draw the series, we have to put a good performance and if we go away with a 2-2 draw, it will be a good performance,” he added.
The fourth-Test of the series will commence on Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. England is now out of the WTC final contention after losing the third Test against India. (ANI)
Klopp expects Alisson, Jota and Fabinho to be ready for Chelsea clash
Sheffield [UK], March 1 (ANI): Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping to have Fabinho and Alisson Becker available for the upcoming home clash against Chelsea.
Liverpool boss is also hopeful on Diogo Jota’s chances of returning against the Blues.
Fabinho has resumed full training after a muscle injury had kept him out of Liverpool’s last four outings, while Alisson was absent from the Reds’ 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday evening on compassionate grounds following the passing of his father earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Jota had been set to be included in the squad for the first time since December 9 after a knee issue; however, the forward fell ill at the team hotel overnight and was ruled out of the contest.
“Alisson and Fabinho, I am pretty sure [they can play],” Klopp said after the win over Sheffield United.
“With Diogo, he was with us last night in the hotel, but he got sick overnight and we had to send him home. So it will depend how quickly he recovers, obviously. He wasn’t in the squad, but he’s trained with the team before [this week] and looked really good, like I said before. I think he will be available but I don’t know,” he added.
The defending Premier League champions are now at the sixth spot in the standings with 43 points from 26 games and the side is just one point behind fifth-placed Chelsea. The first-half between Liverpool and Sheffield United saw no goals being scored and the honours were level at the halfway mark. (ANI)
After League Winners Shield, Lobera eyeing ISL trophy
Bambolim (Goa) [India], March 1 (ANI): After winning their first-ever trophy on Sunday, Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera is now setting his eyes on the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy. Mumbai City defeated ATK Mohun Bagan in the final match of the ISL league stage on Sunday to win the League Winners Shield.
Lobera’s men made the most of their chances as they dished out a complete performance to beat Bagan 2-0 at the GMC Stadium Bambolim.
“The season is not over. We have to continue being ambitious but now we have to enjoy the play-offs. We want to win the trophy,” Lobera said after the match.
“At this moment, every team is a difficult team. We have to be careful. It is (FC Goa) going to be a very good game against a good team and hopefully, we will win the semi-final,” he added.
With the win, the Islanders not only topped the league stage but also booked their place in the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2022 group stage. By doing so, they will become the second Indian club after FC Goa to play in the ACL.
The final league game of the season was expected to be close, with two of the most consistent teams in the league going head to head. But Lobera’s side won comfortably in the end after first-half goals from Mourtada Fall (7′) and Bartholomew Ogbeche (39′).
Despite losing the top spot to Mumbai, ATK Mohun Bagan will still harbour hopes of salvaging their season with a second successive ISL title.
Lobera is elated after securing the League Winners Shield and said his players deserved the trophy.
“I am very happy because Mumbai City and City Football Group (CFG) gave us all everything and now is the moment to enjoy and analyse the things we achieved. I think my players deserved to win this trophy and finally, hopefully, we can achieve another one,” said the Mumbai City boss.
“I always believe in my players because I am working with them all the time. They are warriors. They are ambitious players and amazing persons. We are a family on and off the pitch and finally, I think we were very strong mentally. We had a difficult situation when we lost one game against Jamshedpur but finally, we are a strong team and we deserved to finish at the top of the table,” he added.
Mumbai City FC will play their two-legged semi-finals against fourth-placed FC Goa. ATK Mohun Bagan, who finished second in the league stage will lock horns with third-placed NorthEast United FC. (ANI)
CWI announce “Best v Best” West Indies squads in preparation for Sri Lanka Tests
St John’s [Antigua], March 1 (ANI): Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel on Monday named 26 players to participate in a “Best v Best” four-day practice match in preparation for the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka.
The match will be held on March 8-11 at the Coolidge Cricket Ground (CCG) ahead of the two-Test matches which will be played at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, in Antigua.
Several members of the West Indies Test team which beat Bangladesh in the recent series have been named for the match, while other recent Test squad players are participating in the three-match ODI series from March 10-14.
“The ‘Best v Best’ game is firstly part of our preparation for the Test series against Sri Lanka. It gives the players who performed well in the last West Indies Championship an opportunity to showcase their skills, playing against each other, which we expect to be very competitive and put forward a case for themselves. It is a chance to raise their stock and show what they can do,” CWI Lead Selector Roger Harper said in an official release.
“The Test series win in Bangladesh was a real joy to watch. The results were brilliant, but it was the passion, the application, and the determination, as well as the team spirit that were exactly what we wanted to see. It was most encouraging to see everyone pulling together and working hard for each other and enjoying each other’s success. I think the team performed much better than many people thought they were capable of doing. I am really looking forward to seeing the team move forward and build from here,” he added.
SQUAD A: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Shamarh Brooks, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Derval Green, Keon Harding, Shimron Hetmyer, Kavem Hodge, Paul Palmer Jr, Veerasammy Permaul, Kieran Powell, Preston McSween, Jayden Seales.
SQUAD B: Roston Chase (captain), Sunil Ambris, Nkrumah Bonner, Jermaine Blackwood, John Campbell, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Imran Khan, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Raymon Reifer, Nial Smith, Jomel Warrican.
Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel have been rested for this match due to their workload management. The Test series between West Indies and Sri Lanka will begin on March 21.
Before the Test series, West Indies and Sri Lanka will be locking horns in three T20Is, beginning March 3. (ANI)
NZ vs Aus: Final T20I shifted to Wellington, to be played behind closed doors
Wellington [New Zealand], March 1 (ANI): New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Monday announced that the final T20I of the five-match series between New Zealand and Australia has been shifted to Wellington from Bay Oval and it will now be going ahead behind closed doors.
The final T20I of the three-match series between New Zealand women (White Ferns) and England women will also be played in Wellington behind closed doors.
“The final BlackCaps v Australia and White Ferns v England T20 double-header, scheduled for the Bay Oval on Sunday March 7, will now be played on the same date and time at Sky Stadium in Wellington. The change has been forced on NZC because of logistical complications arising from the transfer of this Friday’s second double-header from Auckland to Wellington,” the NZC said in an official statement.
The current Alert Level 2 protocols in Wellington mean all three double-headers – on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, will be played behind closed doors,” it added.
Earlier, it was confirmed that the upcoming third and fourth T20Is between New Zealand and Australia will be played behind closed doors. The first and second T20I between New Zealand Women (White Ferns) and England Women will also be played behind closed doors following the change to New Zealand’s alert levels with an eye on the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland would return to level 3 for seven days. As a result, no sport can be held at level 3, reported stuff.co.nz.
The fourth T20I between New Zealand-Australia and White Ferns-England was to be played in Auckland, but as per the new guidelines, the matches were relocated to Wellington.
The rest of the country has moved to alert level 2 and the restrictions will last for a period of seven days. While announcing the new restrictions, Ardern said that the lockdown was needed due to there being no immediate transmission link between the new mystery case and the latest Auckland cluster. (ANI)
Premier League: Liverpool break losing jinx, defeat Sheffield United
Sheffield [UK], March 1 (ANI): Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool finally managed to break its losing streak in the Premier League 2020-21 season as the side defeated Sheffield United 2-0 on Monday.
The defending Premier League champions are now at the sixth spot in the standings with 43 points from 26 games and the side is just one point behind fifth-placed Chelsea.
The first-half between Liverpool and Sheffield United saw no goals being scored and the honours were level at the halfway mark.
However, in the second half, Liverpool picked up its intensity and they were immediately rewarded as Curtis Jones got among the scoring sheets to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.
In the 64th minute, Sheffield’s Kean Bryan registered an own goal and this ended up giving Liverpool a 2-0 lead.
No more goals were registered and as a result, the visitors walked away with a 2-0 victory to end their losing streak in the ongoing premier English football competition.
In the entire match, Liverpool had eight shots on target as compared to two of Sheffield United.
Ball possession was also dominated by Liverpool as they held on to the ball for 61 per cent of the game as compared to Sheffield’s 39 per cent.
Liverpool will next take on Chelsea in the Premier League on Thursday, March 4. (ANI)
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