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New Zealand will have advantage of playing two Tests before WTC final, says Pujara

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India top-order batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has said that New Zealand will have the advantage of playing two Tests ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final. Pujara’s comments came ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand, slated to begin on June 18 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Earlier this year, an injury-ravaged India had managed to defeat Australia 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and then the side defeated England 3-1 to enter the finals of WTC. “Personally, it means a lot to be here because I just play one format, it means a lot. We have worked really hard over a period of time to reach here. I am sure all the guys are looking forward to playing in the finals. Winning the finals will mean a lot to us, but even reaching the finals, the team has worked really hard for two years. Playing in different conditions in one particular day here is the most challenging part at times for a batsman,” Pujara told bcci.tv.

“If it rains, you go off the field and suddenly, it stops raining and then you start again. There are breaks in between and that is where you need to understand the challenge. Mentally you need to be strong, concentration needs to be there. New Zealand will have the advantage of playing two Tests before the WTC final but you know, when it comes to the finals, we will give our best. We know our team has the potential to win the championship,” he added. Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said that leading the side in place of Virat Kohli in Australia was the proudest moment for him and he also talked about the upcoming WTC final.

“Over the last two years, we have played consistent cricket as a team. Reaching the finals of the World Test Championship is a result of that. It was not easy as Test cricket requires you to give your best at every stage. We started the WTC cycle against West Indies, and ever since then, we have done well as a unit. We will think of the WTC final as just another game, we have gotten good preparation time here in Southampton. I am excited and as a team, we are really excited, we will look to give our best in the finals,” said Rahane.

“As a batsman, you always say that you love challenging conditions, and England is such a place. If you get set, it is a very nice place to bat. As a batsman, I always believe that when you play the ball late, it will be better. As a batsman, you are never set here. One ball and you can lose your wicket. When I led the country in Australia, that was the proudest moment for me. Winning the series after losing the first match, it was really special and it is a very big thing for all of us,” he added.On Sunday, New Zealand defeated England by eight wickets in the second Test to clinch the two-match series 1-0.The Indian cricket team had landed in Southampton on June 3 and after that, every member of the touring contingent underwent three-day mandatory hard quarantine. At the Hampshire Bowl, the players were tested again before commencing a period of managed isolation. Regular tests will be conducted during the period of isolation.

Prior to departing for England, India head coach Ravi Shastri said, International Cricket Council (ICC) should look to make the final of the WTC a best-of-three contest and it could be played like a three-match series.

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England to tour Bangladesh in March 2023, confirms ECB

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England’s Men’s planned tour of Bangladesh, which was due to take place in September and October, will now take place in March 2023, it has been confirmed. The England and Wales Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Cricket Board have mutually decided to reschedule the tour, which includes three One Day Internationals and three T20 internationals.

The tour is planned to take place in the first two weeks of March 2023, with three ODIs and three T20Is due to take place at the SBNCS, Dhaka, and the ZACS, in Chattogram, the ECB said in a release.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has confirmed that the English players will now be available for the resumption of the 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE from September 19.

The postponement of the England-Bangladesh series has opened the doors for the English players to use the IPL as preparatory ground for the T20 World Cup which gets underway just after the IPL.

Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments said the BCCI has received the green signal from the England and Wales Cricket Board on the participation of the English players and is the perfect example of the brilliant working relation BCCI Secretary Jay Shah has with the English and Bangladesh cricket board.

“The English players will be available for the resumption of the IPL in the UAE. The BCCI has the green signal. This shows the brilliant working relationship that the secretary has with not just the ECB, but also the BCB,” the source said.

Last month, the BCCI announced the schedule for the remainder of the IPL 2021 which will be held in the UAE. A total of 31 matches will be played in the duration of 27 days.

The 14th season, which was postponed in May this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume on September 19 in Dubai with a blockbuster clash between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians.

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Kohli remains tight lipped on opening partner of Rohit for the first Test

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India skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday said the team will cope up with injuries to Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal as the squad has enough depth heading into the Test series against England.

India and England will be locking horns in five Tests, with the first starting on Wednesday. This series marks the start of the second World Test Championship (WTC) cycle. Shubman Gill is ruled out of the series due to an injury and on Monday, Mayank Agarwal was ruled out of the first Test due to a concussion. “We will announce the XI tomorrow before we go for the toss, so you can know who is opening with Rohit. We are absolutely fine and happy with where we are placed,” said Kohli while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference.

Talking about how India can overcome those bad 2-2.5 hours which have ended up costing them the games, Kohli said: “Of course, as a team, we look to improve the things we have not done well. And that is one aspect of the game we need to get better at, and that is understanding how to control the damage when things are not going well. That’s what Test cricket is all about, you cannot have all sessions go your way. We know exactly what we need to do and it all boils down to execution.”

When asked whether Shardul Thakur can be groomed as a proper all-rounder in the longest format, Kohli said: “He already is a multi-dimensional cricketer and it is all about him getting more and more confidence. Someone like him brings balance to the side, Hardik Pandya has done for us in the past, right now he is getting on track to bowling regularly. These kinds of cricketers help the team in a massive way. Shardul is a huge prospect for us, he will be important to us not just in this series, but going ahead as well.”

India is in the UK since June as they played against New Zealand in the WTC finals from June 18-22. The Indian skipper believes that his side would be prepared well for the upcoming series against England having spent time in the country for almost two months.

India had last won a Test series in England in 2007 under the leadership of Rahul Dravid and after that, the Men in Blue have struggled to get past the Three Lions on their own backyard.

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Day 12: Women’s hockey team, Lovlina eye Olympic medals

Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain will compete in the semi-finals in the Tokyo Olympics today. Borgohain has assured India a bronze after storming into the semi-finals.

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Javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh will be in action on day twelve while boxer Lovlina Borgohain will compete in the semifinals in the Olympics on Wednesday.

Lovlina (69kg) has assured India a bronze after storming into the semifinals. Meanwhile, Neeraj said he is happy that he is finally getting to represent the country at the Olympics.

“I am looking forward to what will be my first experience at the Olympics. I have had a fair share of highs and lows over the past few years, and I’m happy that I am finally going to be able to represent my nation at the biggest sporting stage of them all,” said Neeraj in an official release in July.

“I feel the junior athletes having access to the institute are extremely lucky and thank brands like Bridgestone for supporting IIS in this effort,” he added.

The Indian women’s hockey team put up a fantastic display of skill and tenacity during their 1-0 victory over Australia in the quarterfinal match of the Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

High on confidence and self-belief after the momentous victory, the Indian women’s hockey team has now firmly set its sights on the all-important semifinal encounter against Argentina on Wednesday.

Golfers Aditi Ashok and Diksha Dagar will compete in women’s round 1 and Anshu Malik, Ravi Dahiya, and Deepak Punia will headline wrestling action for India.

If the trio qualifies for the next round, Anshu Malik, Ravi Dahiya, and Deepak Punia would play the semifinal matches on the same day.

In the afternoon, the Indian women’s Hockey team; led by Rani, will count on their recent experience of playing against the Argentinians during their extensive tour of Argentina in January 2021.

Much like the Indian team, Argentina has also gone from strength to strength in the competition, securing the semifinal berth after a convincing 3-0 victory against Germany in the quarterfinal on Monday.

Meanwhile, India’s hopes to play in an Olympic Final was dashed on day eleven of the ongoing Tokyo Games as a formidable Belgium squad came back from a 1-2 deficit to beat the Manpreet Singh-led side 5-2 on Tuesday.

It was a hat-trick by Alexander Hendrickx (19’, 49’, 53’), and goals by Loick Luyaert (2’) and John-John Dohmen (60’) that helped Belgium book a place in the final. For India, Harmanpreet Singh (7’) and Mandeep Singh (9’) scored the two goals. India’s hunt for a medal, however, will continue when they play the Bronze medal play-off match on Thursday.

The day started with Javelin thrower Annu Rani failing to qualify for the women’s final after an underwhelming show.

In her first attempt, Rani registered a throw of 50.35m. After the first attempt, Rani was placed at the ninth spot.

In the second attempt, the 28-year-old registered a throw of 53.19m and by the time everyone was done with their second attempt, Rani slipped to the 14th spot.

Annu registered a throw of 54.04m in her third and final throw and she was placed at the 14th spot when the Qualification Group A ended.

Grappler Sonam Malik also bowed out of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing to Mongolia’s Bolortuya Khurelkhuu in the women’s freestyle 62kg event.

In the afternoon, shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor finished 13th at the end of his three attempts in the qualifications of the men’s Shot Put (Group A) of the Tokyo Olympics.

Tajinder started with a throw of 19.99m but had two disqualifications in the next two attempts to see his hopes of qualifying for the finals dashed as India ended the day without a win on Tuesday.

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TEAM INDIA SHOULD NOT PLAY DEFENSIVE HOCKEY

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It is unfortunate that after winning the gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the tradition of having a defensive coach in Indian hockey started. Due to this our hockey could not rise up as far as performance is concerned. And hence, as a result, our forward line kept getting weaker. It is arguably true that defense matters a lot, but this approach is not good.

If you look at the forwards of Indian team, then you will find that all the hype that was created about them could not stand the test. It was even said about Mandeep that it is very difficult to stop this player. I have seen him score goals only in the semi-finals. If it was really difficult to stop him, his stick should have scored many goals. Lalit Upadhyay is also completely disappointing. The rest of the forward players also did not have that game that we would have expected from them that would allow them to clinch a gold medal. Nevertheless, the overall performance of the team is commendable in itself.

At this point in time, Indian hockey needs to work within 23 yards, and the 23 yards of the opposition. Earning as many penalty corners as possible when the opponent forward line enters 23 yards in your area is important, as today’s hockey has largely been limited to penalty corners and 23 yards of play on either side. At the same time, the defense should try not to let the opposition forward succeed in its 23 yards. The secret of Belgium’s success in international hockey is scoring on penalty corners. Alexandre Hendriks made a big contribution to Belgium by making his team the champions by scoring seven goals in the World Cup. He also scored three goals against India and has scored 14 goals in this tournament so far. Harmanpreet also scored five goals from the penalty corners. The Australian hockey team, however, is an exception, as they are very good at field goals.

The Indian team has given up in the fourth quarter against Belgium. Belgium’s excessive possession of the ball and their aggression ruined it. Their thinking proved decisive. However, our team did a great game against Argentina. I still stand by my point that we should have relied on experienced players in the forward line. Ramandeep, SV Sunil and Akashdeep had experience.

I also believe that after an age the player starts playing hockey with their mind which proves to be very useful for the team. Our defensive coach should have been trained to score as many goals as possible. As a result of his defensive approach, we became very defensive in the last quarter against Britain also. It was our luck that we won, and this weakness of ours was hidden.

The author is a former Olympian and has played in four World Cups. Views expressed are personal.

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DISCUS THROWER KAMALPREET KAUR PUTS UP SPIRITED SHOW, FINISHES 6TH IN FINAL

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India discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur put up a spirited display on her debut Olympic campaign, but couldn’t win a medal as she finished at the sixth spot in the final with a best throw of 63.70m at the Tokyo Games on Monday.

Kamalpreet had made it into the top eight with the throw of 63.70m. This was her third attempt, but the athlete failed to make the top three as two of her remaining three attempts were flagged (disqualified). Kamalpreet Kaur started off with a throw of 61.62m and was in sixth place before dropping to seventh.

Kamalpreet’s second attempt was a foul which saw her moving down after a good start. The event then came to a halt due to rain. American discus thrower Valarie Allman started off after the resumption of the event but ended up with a foul throw.

In her 3rd attempt, Kamalpreet registered a throw of 63.70m which kept her in the contest and helped her move again to the sixth spot. In her fourth attempt, she again recorded a foul throw. Kamalpreet fired a throw of 61.37m in the fifth attempt before again registering a foul throw with her last attempt.

She might have missed out on a medal, but she clearly showed she belongs to the big stage and if she keeps progressing like she has, Kamalpreet could be a sureshot contender for a medal in the next Games.

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Olympics: Indian equestrian Fouaad Mirza finishes 23rd in individual final

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Indian equestrian Fouaad Mirza and his horse Seigneur Medicott finished 23rd in the individual eventing jumping and missed out on a medal in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics on Monday.

Mirza came 23rd out of 25 with a final score of 59.60. “The #Equestrian Individual Eventing Jumping final comes to an end @FouaadMirza and #SeigneurMedicott finish 23rd. No medal here, but an inspirational performance from the duo this #Olympics. Great future ahead for them!” SAIMedia tweeted. Meanwhile, Germany’s Julia Krajewski became the first individual female athlete to win Olympic gold in individual eventing with a near-flawless final jump with her Amande de B’Neville.

While individual eventing became a mixed event in Tokyo 1964, no woman had ever won gold in this event – until now, reported Olympics.com After competing in the dressage and cross country over the past three days, it all came down to the jumping section of the eventing competition.

Great Britain’s Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser won silver while Australia’s Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos had a flawless jump in the final to clinch bronze in his eighth Olympic Games.

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