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Pat Cummins, Alex Carey return to Sheffield Shield action

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Melbourne [Australia], February 22 (ANI): With the cancellation of the Test series against South Africa, Australian pacer Pat Cummins and wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey will return to Sheffield Shield cricket to play their first match of the season after being included in the New South Wales and South Australia squads respectively.
Cummins comes into the squad in place of fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who has been rested. The Australia pace spearhead Cummins had captained New South Wales in the Marsh Cup last week.
New South Wales coach Phil Jacques said that change was necessary to manage the defending champions’ pace battery.
“We mapped out a plan for Josh and with quick games back to back we have given him this game off but he will play our third game in this stretch of matches,” cricket.com.au quoted Jacques as saying.
“It’s a busy season and we have to manage all of our players, especially the quick bowlers so we have them all firing towards the back end of the season,” he added.
Earlier this month, Cricket New South Wales named Cummins as the captain for the Marsh One Day Cup.
“Pat is a highly respected person throughout Australian cricket, and he knows the values NSW cricket and the Blues hold dearly,” coach Jacques had said.
“We have no doubt he’ll prove to be a fantastic leader and I know he will also be a great role model for all Blues players. Captaining NSW in these matches is a really good opportunity for Pat to not only demonstrate how good a leader he is, but it’s a chance to show he also has the tactical nous to be a really good captain,” he had added. (ANI)

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Olympic year has well and truly started, need to accelerate our learnings: Graham Reid

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Antwerp (Belgium), March 9 (ANI): The Indian men’s hockey coach Graham Reid has expressed satisfaction following his team’s successful outing in Europe where they remained unbeaten.
The two-week tour was India’s first assignment since 2020, a year marred by the coronavirus that disrupted normal life and restricted the team to nearly ten months of training in a bio-secure environment in SAI Centre, Bengaluru.
“I’m pretty happy with the performance; I’m very happy with the way the tour was — from point of view of getting some international competition. That was really important,” said Reid in an official Hockey India release.
In the four-match tour, India secured a 6-1 win and 1-1 draw against Germany in Krefeld. They followed this up with a 1-1 draw and 3-2 win against Great Britain in Antwerp, Belgium.
The experience, Reid feels will be critical in their lead up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“We go back to Bengaluru from here and will be training there for a few weeks before we set out on another tour of our FIH Pro League matches in Argentina. I believe the next few months leading up to Tokyo are going to be busy for us with competition and some training in between where we will work on the things we need to. The Olympic year has well and truly started now for us and we need to accelerate our learnings,” he said.
While the team will analyse each game against Germany and Great Britain in detail once they regroup in Bengaluru this week, Reid feels there were plenty of takeaways from the tour.
“Our performances against Germany were mixed. It was pretty good beating them 6-1, we took them by surprise and made good use of the opportunities, but we let too many penalty corners in.”
“The second game saw better defensive efforts from us. The 3rd against GB was OK. It was a bit colder in Antwerp, different pitch and perhaps we didn’t play as well as we should have. But the last game (where India beat GB 3-2) was first-class! We led most of the game, came back twice from a stalemate, scored in the last few minutes which is a really important thing to get over,” said Reid.
The coach also pointed out the team’s niggles that need to be addressed when they return to the training pitch in SAI, Bengaluru.
“We will go over the data from this tour once we return to SAI, Bengaluru but the first thing that require attention is: making sure we tighten our defence. We allow them (opponents) to come back in the middle (of the game) a bit too much. The last match was a little bit better. We are starting to make some ground on that.
“We are getting into the 25-mark a lot, we found that during our FIH Pro League matches too but we need to get better returns from our 25 entries. Covert them into circle entries, goal shots, and PCs. We have tried some different things here in Europe. Some things worked, some didn’t. Overall, I am quite happy,” stated Reid. (ANI)

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Ashwin named ICC Men’s Player of the Month for Feb, Beaumont bags women’s award

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Dubai [UAE], March 9 (ANI): The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday named spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as the Men’s Player of the Month (February) while England opening batter Tammy Beaumont was named as Women’s Player of the Month.
ICC Player of the Month Awards recognise and celebrate the best performances from both male and female cricketers across all forms of international cricket each month.
Ashwin won the ICC Men’s Player of the Month for February 2021, for his impressive performance against England as part of India’s successful Test series victory. In the 3 Tests he played, he scored a 106 in the second innings of India’s second Test victory over England in Chennai and took his 400th Test wicket in the third Test victory in Ahmedabad.
Scoring a total of 176 runs across these games and taking 24 wickets, Ashwin was the unanimous choice to win in the men’s category for February and garnered the most votes in the fan vote.
England’s Tammy Beaumont played 3 ODIs in February against New Zealand where she passed fifty in each of these, totalling 231 runs. Beaumont was overwhelmingly named the ICC Women’s Player of the Month for February 2021.
Commenting on Ashwin’s performance in February, Ian Bishop representing the ICC Voting Academy said: “Ashwin’s consistent wicket taking, even in helpful conditions have helped to put his team ahead in a very important series. His century in the second Test was as critical as it came when England was trying to claw their way back into the match. That knock ensured that India shut the door on the opposition.”
Commenting on Beaumont’s performance in February, Ian Bishop added: “Three half centuries of which two were in helping her team win the match was outstanding from Beaumont. Particular emphasis on the fact that two of the knocks were unbeaten innings, and coming inevitably, on two occasions whilst having lost her opening partner early on, she had to see things through for her team, which was incredible.” (ANI)

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Women’s football has huge potential in India, says Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 9 (ANI): India men’s goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has said that women’s football has huge potential in India, and initiatives of promoting the sport in rural areas will go a long way in further developing the popularity of the sport.
Sandhu’s remarks came as global sportswear brand PUMA joined hands to empower Mumbai-based NGO, Parcham which has been breaking the gender stereotypes to bolster its mission of inspiring women from marginalised communities of Mumbra, a small town in Thane district near Mumbai, to take up football and make it a viable career option.
“Women football has huge potential in our country and our national team has done exceedingly well in the past. Such social inclusive initiative led by PUMA will help us to not only reach out to more and more talents at the grassroots, but it will also help to make a difference to the lives of these youngsters,” Sandhu said.
Since October 2012, Parcham has been helping women break free of prejudices and reclaim their freedom through football, and now PUMA will support them with training gear and boots that will help the Parcham girls to not only perform better on the field, but also bring in a competitive edge.
“Sports has the ability to change lives — it is a powerful tool to challenge gender norms and stereotypes. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to play, irrespective of their gender or background. Through this association, we are looking to drive the change needed for a future where every woman and girl has equal opportunities to pursue her dreams,” said Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director, PUMA India and Southeast Asia. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Ahead of T20Is, Hardik fine-tunes bowling skills

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 9 (ANI): All-rounder Hardik Pandya has in recent times stuck to playing as a finisher in the national team. While he did bowl in the second ODI against Australia in Sydney in November, the question on everyone’s mind has been whether he will return to bowling consistently any time soon. And if his preparations for the upcoming T20Is against England is anything to go by, he could be hitting the bowling crease against the No.1 ranked T20 side.
In a video shared by Hardik on Twitter, while he is seen practising the big shots to begin with, he can be seen bowling full throttle towards the end of the clip. “Preparation done. Can’t wait to get on the field on the 12th,” Hardik wrote.
Not just the Australia series, the all-rounder also didn’t hit the bowling crease for his franchise Mumbai Indians in their Indian Premier League (IPL) title-winning campaign in 2020.
It was his prowess with the bat that saw Hardik being adjudged as ‘Man of the Series’ in the three-match T20I series against Australia which India won 2-1.
The 27-year-old was in India’s Test squad for the series against England, but he did not play a single Test as Virat Kohli-led side won the four-match series 3-1 to progress to the final of the World Test Championship.
WTC final will be played between India and New Zealand from June 18-22 at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
The upcoming five-match T20I series against England will help India garner perfect practice before the T20 World Cup which is slated to be played in October-November this year in India.
India’s T20I squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur. (ANI)

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IND W v SA W, 2nd ODI: Jhulan picks four to bundle out visitors for 157

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Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], March 9 (ANI): Jhulan Goswami’s four-wicket haul helped India bundle out South Africa for just 157 in the second ODI of the five-match series on Tuesday here at the Ekana Cricket Stadium.
Asked to bat first, South Africa got off to a bad start as match-winners from the first ODI, Lizelle Lee (4) and Laura Wolvaardt (9) were sent back to the pavilion by the fifth over, reducing the visitors to 20/2.
Lee was dismissed by Jhulan Goswami while Wolvaardt was sent back to the pavilion by Mansi Joshi. Skipper Sune Luus and Lara Goodall then came together at the crease and both batters formed a 60-run stand to revive the Proteas innings.
But as soon as Proteas innings started to gain normalcy, Manasi Joshi dismissed Luus (36) in the 21st over. Soon after Rajeshwari Gayakwad sent Mignon du Preez (11) back to the pavilion, reducing Proteas to 99/4 in the 26th over.
Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur got the big scalps of Marizanne Kapp (10) and Goodall (49) and this put Proteas on the backfoot at 130/6 in the 34th over and the hosts were now looking to end the visitors’ innings in a jiffy.
Proteas lower-order was not able to provide much resistance and in the end, the side was bowled out for 157 inside 41 overs.
Mansi Joshi returned with two wickets while Gayakwad scalped three wickets.
Brief Scores: South Africa Women 157 (Lara Goodall 49; Jhulan Goswami 4-42). (ANI)

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11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Women National Championship to begin from Wednesday

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Simdega (Jharkhand) [India], March 9 (ANI): The 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Women National Championship 2021, will be held from March 10-18, and it will kick-start India’s much-awaited domestic hockey season.
The tournament is being held in Simdega district, Jharkhand for the first time. Holders Hockey Haryana are among the favourites to win the title. They had lifted the title in 2019 following a thrilling final against Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy.
Hockey Jharkhand, who are in Pool B, and Hockey Odisha in Pool C are also expected to go far in the 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Women National Championship 2021. Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, meanwhile, will be looking to go one better than they did in 2019.
Hockey Haryana, who are in Pool A along with Hockey Uttarakhand and Hockey Rajasthan, were upbeat about their chances of retaining the trophy. Kuldeep Siwach, coach, Hockey Haryana said: “We had a memorable outing last time (in 2019). The tournament was held in Haryana and the girls rose to the occasion to perform exceedingly well. So many players made a mark, including forward Deepika, who currently plays for the Indian Junior Women’s Team. We are confident of putting up a good show once again. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, training was challenging but we have come well-prepared thanks to the support shown by Hockey Haryana and Hockey India.”
Hockey Haryana skipper Nidhi expressed excitement ahead of the tournament. She said: “I am so glad to be back playing with my teammates after a long gap. The circumstances were challenging to train due to the Covid-19 restrictions but in recent months, that has changed, and we feel well prepared for the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Women National Championship 2021. I am proud to be representing Haryana and we are confident of winning gold again.”
A total of 22 teams, with over 400 players as well as coaching and support staff, will be in Simdega for the prestigious tournament which will be closely watched by Hockey India national selectors.
After five days of pool matches, the quarterfinals will be played on March 15. The semi-finals and the final will be held on March 17 and 18 respectively. (ANI)

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