Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill expected to play 3rd Test despite bubble probe - The Daily Guardian
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Rohit, Gill, Pant expected to play 3rd Test despite bubble probe

Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini, who have been put in isolation after a video emerged showing them sitting indoors in a restaurant in Melbourne, in an alleged breach of Cricket Australia’s bio-security protocols, have been asked to train separately from the rest of the squad.

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The five Indian players—Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and Navdeep Saini—who are at the centre of an alleged breach of Cricket Australia’s bio-security protocols, are expected to play in the third Test beginning Thursday at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) despite an ongoing investigation by the BCCI.

The five players, who were put in isolation after both the Australian and Indian cricket boards launched an investigation into a video showing them sitting indoors in a restaurant in Melbourne on Friday, have been asked to train separately from the rest of the squad and it could be possible that they will travel on Monday separately from the squad.

Indian players celebrate the dismissal of Australian batsman during the second Test match in Melbourne. (Right) The five Indian players inside a restaurant.

According to a Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) report, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is expected to take a “pragmatic approach” should it find the quintet had breached the bio-security protocols. Cricket Australia cannot sanction the said players even if their rules are found to have been broken as the quintet are not their employees, the SMH report further stated.

“If you carefully read the CA statement, they never said that it’s a breach. They said that they are seeking to determine if it’s a breach. So there is no restriction on these five players travelling with the team to Sydney. The entire team is flying tomorrow afternoon,” a senior BCCI official told news agency PTI on conditions of anonymity.

For BCCI, the man under scanner is administrative manager Girish Dongre. Dongre is an employee of the BCCI and is supposed to handle and also keep the the team abreast about the Covid-19 protocols. “The players are not supposed to carry the protocol sheets or remember every fine line written,” another BCCI official told PTI. “There is a professional team of people who have to ensure that every rule is being followed and it was Dongre’s duty to ensure that players are told that they can’t get into an indoor area,” he added.

The Indian side on Sunday boarded two buses to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for a gym session after their practice session was cancelled due to rain.

Gill boarded a team bus to return to the hotel with several other members of the touring party after training but a spokesman for the Indian side said social distancing requirements were met, the report claimed.

According to the publication, Friday’s incident was not the first time that Indian players seemingly breached the bio-secure protocols.

India captain Virat Kohli and limited-overs all-rounder Hardik Pandya were also pictured at a shop in Sydney in early December during the white-ball leg of the tour.

There have been reports emerging about Team India’s reluctance to play the fourth and final Test of the ongoing series in Brisbane due to harsher bio-security protocols in Queensland.

However, members of the Queensland government have stated that the Indian team should not enter the state if they are unwilling to coordinate with the protocols that have been laid out.

The Australian media on Sunday claimed that the fourth Test in Brisbane has been jeopardised as the tourists are reluctant to travel there in view of stricter quarantine rules.

But it is learnt that the fourth Test, starting at the Gabba from 15 January, is on as of now.

The border restrictions between New South Wales (venue of third Test in Sydney) and Queensland state government is a problem. Queensland has closed its borders for people travelling from New South Wales due to the rising cases of COVD-19 in Sydney and surrounding areas.

However, there will be an exception made for the Test match and players will be in a stricter bio-bubble, similar to the one in the IPL.

It could well happen that in order to play the Test match in Brisbane, the Indian team would have to be in a stricter bio-bubble from Sydney itself which would make for a hard quarantine (hotel-stadium-hotel) of around 15 days.

However, as of now BCCI has not taken any call on asking CA to shift the Test match from Brisbane to Sydney. Reports have emerged that the Indian team isn’t keen on travelling to Brisbane if the players are forced to undergo quarantine.

However, members of the Queensland government have stated that not abiding by the rules is not an option for the visitors. “If the Indians don’t want to play by the rules, don’t come,” Queensland’s Health Shadow Minister Ros Bates was quoted as saying by Fox Sports. Tim Mander, Queensland’s Shadow Sports Minister, said there’s no room for ignoring the protocols and that every individual would have to go through the same drill. “If the Indian cricket team wants to spit the dummy and disregard quarantine guidelines in Brisbane for the fourth Test, then they shouldn’t come. The same rules must apply for everyone. Simple,” Mander said.

The ongoing four-match series is currently tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the first Test in Adelaide while India registering a win in the second in Melbourne.

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Dhananjaya de Silva’s ton helps hosts extend lead to 279

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Dhananjaya de Silva starred with the bat scoring an unbeaten 153 as Sri Lanka took the driver’s seat on Day Four of the ongoing second Test against West Indies on Thursday.De Silva led Sri Lanka’s charge on Day Four as the hosts got a significant lead of 279 runs before the close of play on Thursday. Sri Lanka had ended day three on 46/2, trailing by 3 runs but De Silva made sure the hosts walk away with a big lead on Thursday.

On Wednesday, West Indies started the day at 69-1 and progressed to 145-2 at lunch. They batted well to add 76 runs in the morning session, losing only one wicket against Sri Lanka’s spin bowlers on a turning pitch.

Brathwaite was 62 at the interval, after positing his 23rd Test half-century. He added 10 more after the interval when he was bowled by Lasith Embuldeniya on Day Three.Brathwaite faced 185 balls and batted for close to 4 1/2 hours but his dismissal with the score at 166-3 led to a collapse as West Indies were folded for 253 in the first innings.Sri Lanka then on Thursday made sure to have a significant lead over the visitors as De Silva batted 259 balls to take hosts to 328/8.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 204/10 and 328/8 (Dhananjaya de Silva 153*, Pathum Nissanka 66; Veerasammy Permaul 3-100) vs West Indies 253/10 (K Brathwaite 72; Mendis 6-72)

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P.V. Sindhu sails into semis with straight sets win

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Two-time Olympic medallist and star Indian shuttler PV Sindhu marched into the semi-finals of the ongoing BWF World Tour Finals on Thursday. Sindhu defeated German badminton player Yvonne Li in straight sets 21-10, 21-13 to seal the game in just 31 minutes. The Indian shuttler won her second group stage clash with a thumping victory on Thursday. Sindhu had defeated Denmark’s Line Christophersen 21-14, 21-16 in a match that lasted for 38 minutes on Wednesday to begin her campaign on a high.

However, Srikanth lost his second Group B game in the men’s singles event of the ongoing tournament. Also, India men’s doubles duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy on Thursday pulled out of the ongoing tournament.

The BWF World Tour Finals is the season-ending tournament of the BWF World Tour, where the top-eight players/pairs in the season’s rankings are granted entry.

The players/pairs are divided into two groups of four each. Each player/pair will play every other player/pair in their group in a round-robin format, with the top-two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

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WRIDDHIMAN SAHA IS FIT AND HAS RECOVERED FROM NECK NIGGLE, CONFIRMS KOHLI

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India skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday informed that wicket-keeper batter Wriddhiman Saha has recovered from his neck niggle. During the fifth day of the first Test against New Zealand, in Saha’s absence, Srikar Bharat donned the wicket-keeping gloves. “Wriddhiman Saha is now fit and he has recovered from his neck niggle. We will discuss the combination in a bit based on weather and pitch conditions,” said Kohli on the eve of the second Test.Kohli also explained why he started to practice at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai for the Test series against New Zealand even when he had taken some time off from the game after spending six months in bio-bubbles.

The second Test between India and New Zealand will begin on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai with the series being locked at 0-0. “It was just to stay in the rhythm of playing red-ball cricket. The idea was to get repetition and volume which is important in Test cricket, so it is just about getting into the mould of switching between formats. This is something I have always tried to do. Whenever I get the opportunity to work on setting up for different formats, it is more so mentally than anything related to technique,” said Kohli while replying to an query during a virtual press conference.

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Middle-order’s form not a ‘concern’ for Southee ahead of 2nd Test

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New Zealand pacer Tim Southee has backed the Kiwis middle order to come good in the second Test against India despite a poor show in the opening game. Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, and Tom Blundell all failed to leave a mark before Rachin Ravindra’s gutsy innings helped New Zealand earn a draw in the first Test on Monday. “No, I don’t think so (middle-order concern). There were periods for both sides where one was able to take wickets at a time, so it’s not easy to start in these conditions,” said Southee while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference.

“Ross Taylor is experienced and knows this part of the world as well and then you have a couple of guys who have played here. “So I don’t think the form of middle order is a concern for us. They are all quality players and I’m sure they can perform at this level,” he added.

The second Test between India and New Zealand will begin on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Talking about the inclement weather in Mumbai, Southee said: “I guess the wickets have been under the covers, hopefully, Gary and Kane can have a look at this wicket this afternoon. We were not expecting rain but this is something we need to adapt to it.”

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Will Young.

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INDIA TOUR OF SA MIGHT BE PUSHED BACK BY ONE WEEK AMID OMICRON SCARE

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India’s tour of South Africa might be pushed back by one week due to the threat of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

A BCCI official on Thursday confirmed that both boards are in constant touch and the decision will be taken keeping the safety of players in mind. “We are discussing to push back the series by a week due to the threat of Omicron COVID variant and we are awaiting the Indian government nod, both boards are in constant touch and everything is being discussed. The health and safety of our players is of utmost importance,” the senior official told ANI.

India is slated to tour South Africa next month for three Tests, three ODIs and four T20Is. The tour is slated to begin on December 17. Earlier, Anurag Thakur, the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports had said that BCCI should consult the government before sending the cricket team to South Africa where a new COVID-19 variant has emerged.“Not only BCCI, but every board should also consult the Indian government before sending the team to a country where a new COVID-19 variant has emerged. It is not right to send the team to a country where there is a threat, if BCCI consults us we will deliberate on that,” Thakur had told ANI here in Baghpat.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. This came after the WHO held a meeting to discuss the newly-identified COVID-19 variant. Meanwhile, India A players are currently in Bloemfontein for the ongoing series against South Africa A.

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With Kohli back, hosts look to seal series win

The second Test between India and New Zealand will begin on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

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The first Test between India and New Zealand might have ended in an enthralling draw but now the time is over to ponder over what might have been as the second Test is not that far away.

The second Test between India and New Zealand will begin on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. The game will see the return of India skipper Virat Kohli, however, his comeback has left some selection dilemma for the hosts. With Shreyas Iyer becoming the first Indian debutant to score a century and half-century in his debut Test, he cannot be dropped and with the poor form of Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, the choice has been made all the more difficult on who should go out of the XI to make way for Kohli.Rahane and Pujara failed to impress with the bat in the first Test, and the road ahead looks difficult for the once-reliable Test batters. However, the management is expected to stick with these two for atleast the Mumbai Test. Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha suffered a stiff neck in the first Test, so he might make way for Srikar Bharat who can also bat as an opener.

So in all probability, Kohli will come in place of Mayank Agarwal into the lineup. Coming to the bowling scheme of things, Ishant Sharma looked completely out of sorts in the first Test, so Mohammed Siraj can be brought in to add further firepower to the bowling attack which already comprises Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja.

Talking about New Zealand, openers Will Young and Tom Latham were impressive with the bat, but the visitors will look to get more out of the middle-order, especially skipper Kane Williamson.

Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee produced one of the best bowling performances by visiting pacers on an Asian pitch, but the inability to dismiss the lower-order will play on the mind of the visitors.

The World Test Championship (WTC) winners will look to correct their mistakes and go one step ahead to register a memorable Test series win over India.

Squads: India: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Suryakumar Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Wriddhiman Saha, KS Bharat, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Md. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Will Somerville, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Will Young.

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