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Sanju Samson now deserves a Team India break

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Some players are quite lucky. They continue to get the benefit of just a couple of good performances for a long time. But there are some who remain marginalised and unnoticed despite giving good performances for a long time. Rishabh Pant belongs to the first category, while Sanju Samson falls in the second one. Sanju deserves the chance in Team India by virtue of having tremendous potential and capabilities.

Sharjah is remembered either for India-Pakistan cricket clashes of 1980s or for two stormy innings of Sachin Tendulkar in Coca-Cola Cup. Sanju Samson performed such a stormy batting that M.S. Dhoni’s CSK got demolished at Sharjah stadium in his first match of IPL’s 13th season. He played an innings of 74 runs off 34 balls which included one four and nine sixes. Samson smashed Piyush Chawla, the same leg-spinner, who had scripted the victory of CSK against Mumbai Indians by virtue of his superb bowling performance. He smashed leg-spinner Piyush Chawla for three sixes in one over and another in the other over. Similarly, Sanju Samson hit three sixes off Ravindra Jadeja, and one each off Sam Curran and Deepak Chahar.

They are all international level players whom Sanju played easily through powerhits. He partnered with skipper Steve Smith at the rate of over 200 and paved the way for Rajasthan Royals’ victory. His outstanding speciality was clean hitting with full timing. His sixes with pull, straight and over the cover shots were delight to see. That is not all, Sanju took two catches and stumped two players and became a hero of the match. Seeing this performance, Rishabh Pant was trolled on Twitter. “The BCCI put Rishabh Pant over Sanju while the latter is more talented than the former!”In other words, Sanju is the youngest player to have completed 1,000 runs in IPL. Whether it is the captaincy of Kerala Ranji team or hitting century in IPL and Champions League, he has been the youngest player to have done so. He was the first keeper-batsman to have made a double century in Vijay Hazare Trophy (One Day). Even the fastest double century of List A cricket goes to his credit.

It was not his first flamboyant and fiery innings in IPL. Last year, he had hit his second century off just 55 balls in IPL. In the same match, Sanju had scored 24 runs in one over of Bhuvaneshwar, hitting four fours, one six and two runs. If a batsman has the capacity to blast Team India’s bowlers like this, then his every innings matters. Last year, he got the reputation of being the youngest cricketer to have completed 2,000 runs in IPL. How can we forget the Champion League match that took place a few years ago when Sanju after catching Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard behind the stumps also performed superbly before the stumps too and hit a fifty. Similarly, his innings of 60 runs off 33 balls in the final of Champions Leagues against Mumbai Indians is a memorable one.

Listing the achievements of Sanju does not mean that it is in any manner an attempt to show Rishabh Pant in poor light. Rishabh is also a talented player but now nobody will make a mistake of blindly considering him as a successor of Dhoni. The problem with Rishabh is that of his psychological condition. His performance in IPL was worthy of attention. But at the international level, his two Test centuries against England and Australia had presented a picture of his being a big player. That was also the reason why he got too many opportunities. He also impressed in some of the innings. But his consistency level was low. Now, Sanju will have to give a good performance consistently taking advantage of Pant’s weaknesses.

Obviously, it is a good indication for the future to develop healthy competition at the national level. Though the keeping of both the players is average, both of them are improving it. Let’s hope that whosoever is given a chance after this healthy competition at international level, he will improve his consistency level and will, in turn, be a successor of Dhoni in real sense.

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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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