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No Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine in Zimbabwe Test squad for Afghanistan series

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Harare [Zimbabwe], February 17 (ANI): Brendan Taylor and Craig Ervine have missed out as Zimbabwe named a 15-member squad for the two-match Test series against Afghanistan on Tuesday.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the Test series will begin on March 2 in Abu Dhabi. Taylor and Ervine were absent from the country’s cricket camp due to illness and hence were not considered for the Test series.
Tarisai Musakanda has returned to the Test arena having played his first game in the longest format against Sri Lanka back in 2017.
The first Test will begin on March 2 while the second game is slated to be played from March 10. The focus will then shift to the shortest format of the game as the two sides lock horns in the five-match T20I series from March 17.
Zimbabwe Test Squad: Sean Williams (capt), Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Kevin Kasuza, Wessly Madhevere, Wellington Masakadza, Prince Masvaure, Brandon Mavuta, Tarisai Musakanda, Richmond Mutumbami, Blessing Muzarabani, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Donald Tiripano
Last week, Pakistan women’s tour of Zimbabwe was called off following the announcement of flight operations suspension on the Harare-Dubai sector from February 13 to 28.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Zimbabwe Cricket on February 11 mutually agreed to end the women’s national cricket team’s ongoing tour due to the latest travel policies.
Pakistan won the opening 50-over match on February 9 and was due to play the second 50-over match on Friday with the final match of the tour on February 20. The side was originally scheduled to depart on 21 February. (ANI)

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Qatar Open: Sania Mirza, Andreja Klepac lose in semi-finals

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Doha [Qatar], March 4 (ANI): Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her partner Andreja Klepac of Slovenia crashed out of the ongoing Qatar Total Open after facing a defeat in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Sania, who was competing in her first tournament in more than 12 months, marked her return to tennis with a credible semi-final finish in the showpiece event.
Sania and her women’s doubles partner Klepac went down 5-7, 6-2, 5-10 to second-seeded Nicole Melichar and Dutch player Demi Schuurs in a thrilling 3 set contest.
Earlier on Monday, Sania made a winning return to the WTA circuit as she along with Klepac defeated Ukranian’s pair of Nadiia Kichenok and Lyudmyla Kichenok 6-4 6-7(5) 10-5 in the opening round of the showpiece event.
This match was Sania’s first in 12 months’ time and co-incidentally, this Qatar Open was the last tournament she played in 2020 when all competitions were put to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier, Mirza had revealed that she contracted coronavirus at the beginning of this year.
She also revealed that staying away from her two-year-old child was the toughest thing she faced after testing positive for the virus. She also said that the virus is no joke and everyone should take every precaution possible.
Last year, Mirza brought home the country’s first-ever Fed Cup Heart Award in Asia/Oceania category after getting more than 10,000 votes out of the total 16,985 votes cast for 2020’s three regional Group I nominees.
Last year, her return to Fed Cup action for the first time since 2016 saw India book their place in the Fed Cup Play-offs.
Reflecting on the achievement, she had said she wants to dedicate the award to the entire country and pledged to donate the prize money to Telangana Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to aid the fight against coronavirus. (ANI)

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ISL 7: Familiar foes Goa and Mumbai City collide in playoff curtain-raiser

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Margao (Goa) [India], March 4 (ANI): For a side that has been the most consistent team in the history of the Indian Super League (ISL) — they have secured playoff qualification a record six times — FC Goa have never managed to lift the ISL title. Besides that, they have lost the finals on two occasions.
For the Gaurs, who have come this close, the dream is now lifting their first-ever trophy. They’ll be a step closer to that dream if they can put it past League Shield winners Mumbai City FC in the first leg of their semifinals at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday.
Having qualified for the playoffs for the fourth-straight time, Goa will be confident of achieving their dream this time around. One of the most entertaining teams in the league, they are only behind Mumbai for goals scored, alongside NorthEast United.
They have form backing them too, having been unbeaten in 13 games now — a feat no other side has managed in ISL history. Facing Mumbai will not be an easy task but coach Juan Ferrando hopes his players stick to his philosophy as they aim to go all the way.
“If we enjoy the game, we will have success. Sometimes there is pressure because everybody wants to win but for me, it’s important our players to want to play (our way),” said Ferrando in an ISL release.
“I am scared when my team is not playing football (our way) because it’s difficult to help the team. But all our players want to participate and stick to our style,” he added.
However, they will have their task cut out with Ivan Gonzalez and Alberto Noguera missing out due to suspensions. While Goa top the charts for most possession (58 per cent), Mumbai (57 per cent) are not too far behind. Dominating possession has worked for Lobera’s side, who have netted a whopping 35 goals.
During the last meeting between the two sides, Ferrando had stated the pressure was on Mumbai to win the League Winners Shield. And having achieved that target, Lobera will aim to prove a lot more to his former employers.
“I love when others speak about Mumbai City as a favourite team since they are thinking we are better than them,” he said. “It’s good for us. I love this pressure but we need to prove ourselves on the pitch.”
Similar to Ferrando, Lobera too, wants his players to enjoy themselves rather than take on pressure.
“It’s a special game,” he added. “We need to be smart and ready to play 180 minutes and tomorrow is the first step. We are excited and I hope we enjoy (the challenge).
Mumbai will be without Amey Ranawade (suspended) while Hugo Boumous returns after a four-match ban. (ANI)

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Sharath Kamal loses in pre-quarters at WTT Contender Doha

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Doha [Qatar], March 4 (ANI): Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal suffered a 6-11, 4-11, 8-11 defeat against World No. 7 Lin Yun-Ju of Chinese Taipei in the men’s singles pre-quarters of the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender Doha on Thursday.
The World No. 32 Sharath, who was playing his first international tournament after a year’s break due to the coronavirus pandemic, couldn’t gain momentum despite showing good resistance in the latter part of the match against the higher-ranked Yun-Ju. With Sharath’s loss, the Indian challenge came to an end in the tournament.
Earlier, the other Indian Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, who also secured a direct entry into the main draw alongside 2006 Commonwealth Games champion Sharath, suffered 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 loss at the hands of World No. 20 Aruna Quadri in the Round-of-32.
Manika Batra and Sreeja Akula also lost their respective final qualifying round matches in the women’s singles category.
While Batra lost to World No. 69 Ganna Gaponova 5-11, 6-11, 14-12, 5-11, Akula, who had outclassed World No. 74 Vega Paulina of Chile in the earlier round, made her Russian opponent Mariia Tailkova work hard and almost got the momentum shifted in her favour with a come-from-behind 2-1 lead before losing the tie 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11.
In the tournament, Harmeet Desai had also suffered an 11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11, 2-11 defeat against Russia’s Alexander Shibaev in the third-round match of the men’s singles qualifiers. Despite dominating the first two games, Desai couldn’t hold his nerves and conceded an unexpected loss. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Hosts ‘completely’ out skilled visitors, admits Vaughan

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): While Michael Vaughan had criticised the pitch in the pink-ball game, the former England skipper admitted that India outplayed the visitors on the opening day of the fourth and final Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
Spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web over visitors as England was bundled out for 205 in the first innings. Vaughan praised the hosts and slammed a very “average” batting by England in the first innings on day one of the final Test.
“India today with the ball showed why they are so good in these conditions … Pitch did very little for 60 overs and they completely out-skilled & out-thought England … !! High class … England with the Bat were very very average,” Vaughan tweeted.
In reply to England’s 205, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara showed great application as India ended the opening day of the fourth and final Test in the driver’s seat despite losing opener Shubman Gill in the third session.
After a disappointing show with the bat, England got off to a flying start with the ball as James Anderson struck with the third ball of the innings. The pace spearhead trapped Gill (0) in front of the stumps as India lost a wicket with no run on the board.
But Rohit and Pujara ensured that was the end of the visitors’ joy on the day as they played out the remaining 11.3 overs without losing any wicket. (ANI)

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PSL postponement a loss for everyone, will fully investigate the matter: PCB CEO

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Karachi [Pakistan], March 4 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) CEO Wasim Khan has said the first step will be to fully investigate the matter and then to ensure that the loss occurred by the postponement of the sixth season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is minimised.
PCB on Thursday postponed the sixth season of PSL following a string of positive Covid-19 cases. Wasim said there will be talks with the Board of Governors (BoG) to understand how the inadequacy arose even when the PCB had conducted two successful series prior to PSL.
“The first step will be that we will fully investigate the matter but it’s not gonna be PCB staff who would do that. We will talk to BOG for investigation and will probably ask them what went wrong, where did we not deliver. When this situation arises everybody questions themselves so right now the time is to reflect on what went wrong. And also the time is to limit the damage as much as possible,” said Wasim in a virtual press conference.
Wasim said the PCB is looking for other dates for the showpiece event and is “hopeful” of finishing the tournament later this year. The PCB CEO also said living in a bio-bubble is all about building trust and it will take some time for the players to do that.
“We are looking for other windows and hopeful to finish the tournament later this year. Our priority is the safety of players. A biosecure bubble is all about trust and discipline,” said Wasim.
“Building trust will take some time but we will make sure this doesn’t happen again. Postponing PSL is a difficult moment for PCB and fans too but we are resilient to make PSL6 possible again,” he added.
Wasim also said the time is not right for playing the blame game as a collective effort is required to manage the situation inside the bio-bubble.
“This isn’t about blaming anybody but ultimately about Pakistan Cricket. This is a loss for everyone. This isn’t about a blame game, about who’s to blame,” said Wasim.
“This is a collective effort that we all had a responsibility to actually police and self-police that environment. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it effectively enough. Hence we find ourselves in this situation today,” he added.
The PCB, as an immediate step, will now focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines, and isolation facilities to the six participating sides. (ANI)

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Bavuma to lead SA in limited-overs format, Elgar given charge of Test team

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Johannesburg [South Africa], March 4 (ANI): Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Thursday announced the appointments of Temba Bavuma and Dean Elgar as captains of the Proteas men’s team in the limited-overs and Test format respectively.
CSA said Bavuma will lead the Proteas in the 2021 and 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cups as well as the ICC Men’s World Cup in 2023. Elgar will take over the reins into the next cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.
CSA’s Director of Cricket (DoC), Graeme Smith, in a statement, said: “We are grateful to Quinton for the work he has put in as captain of the team in the limited-overs formats and are indebted to him for stepping up while the National Selection Panel continued its search for the Test captain. We expect him to still play an integral role in the team’s leadership group.
“We as CSA are pleased with the appointments of Temba and Dean and believe that we have the men who will lead the Proteas back to their winning ways of old. The pair bring the required stability in both leadership and form to turn the ship in the direction that will eventually bring trophies back to the cabinets.”
Praising Bavuma, Smith said the player has shown consistency on the field in all formats, solidifying his place as a leader. Smith is also confident that Elgar will bring the same grit and determination to his captaincy as he has brought to his many performances on the field over many years.
“Temba has been a strong and influential voice in the team in recent times and has shown consistency on the field in all formats, solidifying his place as a leader. He also has the trust and backing of the players and coaches around him. We are excited to have him lead the Proteas in the upcoming T20 World Cups as well as the 2023 World Cup in India. He will also be the Test team’s vice-captain, working closely with Dean to ensure continuity and stability in the squad,” Smith said.
“Dean has made no secret of his Test captaincy ambitions over the years and we are pleased to have a leader who is ready, willing and able to step up to the massive task of turning our Test cricket fortunes around. His role as a leader in the Test team has never been in doubt and I know that he relishes the prospect of captaining the Test team. We are confident that he will bring the same grit and determination to his captaincy as he has brought to his many performances on the field over many years,” he added.
Bavuma is honoured and delighted to lead the Proteas for the first time. He said: “Captaining the Proteas has been a dream of mine for many years as those closest to me would know. This is one of the greatest honours of my life so far and I am looking forward to picking up where Quinny (de Kock) has left off in leading the team into the new culture that we have developed and continue to work on.
“The responsibility of captaining one’s country is not one I take lightly, and I am looking forward to this new challenge and journey with Dean in the Test cricket format, as well as leading the team to not just one, but three ICC World Cups in the very near future.”
Elgar echoed Bavuma’s words in his statement, saying: “I’ve always said that to captain your country in any form of the game is the biggest honour that a player can be fortunate to receive. To captain my country’s Test team, which I believe to be the pinnacle of the game, is the biggest highlight of my career and I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent my country in such an important way.
“Temba and I know more than most the challenge that we have ahead of us in returning the Test squad back to its winning ways, but I know that we’re both more than ready for the task at hand. I’m looking forward to bringing stability back into the team and laying a solid foundation for us to be able to accomplish the ambitions we all have to see the Proteas go back to the world’s number one spot in all three formats.” (ANI)

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