SMAT: Kedar, Kartik, Lukman lead Baroda to final - The Daily Guardian
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SMAT: Kedar, Kartik, Lukman lead Baroda to final

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], January 29 (ANI): Disciplined bowling performance by Lukman Meriwala after half-centuries by skipper Kedar Devdhar and Kartik Kakade guided Baroda to a 25-run win over Punjab in the second semifinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy here at the Motera Stadium on Friday.
Baroda will now take on Tamil Nadu in the final of the tournament on Sunday. Tamil Nadu defeated Rajasthan by seven-wicket in the first semifinal earlier in the day.
Chasing a moderate target of 161, Punjab was only able to score 135/8 in the allotted 20 overs despite skipper Mandeep Singh tried to take on Baroda bowlers and played an unbeaten knock of 42 runs off 24 balls including three sixes and as many fours.
Punjab suffered a bad start as they lost both the openers under four overs. Prabhsimran Singh (15) and Abishek Sharma (5) were both picked by Lukman Meriwala.
Anmolpreet Singh and Gurkeerat Mann tried to overcome the early blows and stitched a 32-run stand for the third wicket but the partnership was broken by Ninad Rathva in the ninth over.
Ramandeep Singh failed to score big runs and was scalped by Rathwa in the 14th over. Mandeep joined Mann in the middle and the duo build a 15-run brief stand for the fifth wicket before the latter was picked by Babashafi Pathan in the 15th over.
After Mann’s dismissal, no batsman was able to spend time on the crease and Mandeep was left alone for taking his side over the line.
Mandeep remained unbeaten on 42 as Punjab fall 25-run short of the target.
For Baroda, Mariwala bagged three scalps while Rathva clinched two dismissals.
Earlier, Kedar Devdhar and Karthik Kakade’s fifties enabled Baroda to post 160 runs with a loss of three wickets in the allotted 20 overs. Devdhar played a knock of 64 runs while Kakade amassed unbeaten 53 runs including two sixes and five fours.
For Punjab, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, and Mayank Markande scalped one wicket each.
Brief Scores: Baroda 160/3 (Kedar Devdhar 64, Karthik Kakade 53*; Mayank Markande 1-29); Punjab 135/8 (Mandeep Singh 42*, Gurkeerat Mann 39; Lukman Meriwala 3-28). (ANI)

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ICC T20I Rankings: KL Rahul firm at second spot, Kohli moves to sixth

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Dubai [UAE], March 3 (ANI): New Zealand left-hander Devon Conway and opener Martin Guptill may have missed out on centuries in the first two T20Is of their home series against Australia, but the duo made significant gains in the latest ICC men’s T20I rankings. India batsman KL Rahul has retained his second spot in the batsmen rankings while skipper Virat Kohli has moved one spot to attain the sixth spot.
Conway’s 99 not out in the Christchurch opener has helped him gain 46 spots and reach 17th position after just eight matches while Guptill, who has reached as high as second in the past, has gained three slots to reach 11th position after his knock of 97 in Dunedin.
In what is a chance for both sides to prepare for this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in India, New Zealand took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series and had some other fine performances too that resulted in significant gains for their players.
Glenn Philips and Jimmy Neesham have moved up in the list for batsmen while Tim Southee (up to one place to sixth), Mitchell Santner (up to two places to seventh), Ish Sodhi (up to three places to 11th), and Trent Boult (up 24 places to 49th) have progressed in the bowlers’ list.
For Australia, Marcus Stoinis’s knock of 78 in the second match sees him gain 77 places to reach 110th position. Matthew Wade (up from 132nd to 118th) among batsmen and Jhye Richardson (re-entered at 115th) among bowlers are the others to gain from the mid-series update as per the new system which sees a weekly update for all women’s player rankings on Tuesday and those for men on Wednesday. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Not here to offer explanation, we play to win, says Kohli

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 3 (ANI): India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday said that he would not be giving any explanations on all the outside noise regarding the conditions on offer as he and his team play to win. He went on to add that for him, it was about the batsmen failing to put on a good show in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
“I do not understand why the cricket ball and pitch are brought into focus this often, it was about the batsmen not being skilled enough on that pitch to play properly. It was a bizarre display of batting from both teams. I have played this game long enough to understand what happens on the field. I would love if people ask me the question about home advantage when we are on a tour of Australia and England, not when you have seen two turning tracks,” said Kohli during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
“I would like to ask a question? You play to win or you play to take the game five days and have some entertainment? We play to win, we don’t play that everyone scores runs. We play to win, people should enjoy when India wins, it should not matter in how many days the match is finishing. In the previous games, runs have been scored, you cannot criticise based on one game. Unfortunately, we do not want to give any explanation, so this question is not relevant to me, our focus is to win.”
Commenting on the social media milestones, Kohli said: “Hitting 100 million followers mark is no motivation to me, I am not bothered about these things. The only thing that inspires me is how can I be a better person and cricketer, I just want to improve myself.”
When asked whether he supports rotation policy in the longest format of the game, Kohli said: “I think any format can be right for rotation, no human being can go through these many games, everyone needs to have a window to have a break, especially with the bubble format and the systems you have to follow in the bubble, it is pretty hard to stay excited about small things. Outside of that, it depends on how you stand mentally and physically, mental fatigue can be a big factor, these things are important and this is where our bench strength becomes important.
“If the guys are hungry and they are brave to take the opportunities, then you can rotate easily. We have a clear roadmap where we need to go in the next four-five years, we have a clear plan that we need to follow.”
Talking about how Cheteshwar Pujara is the lynchpin of this Indian Test team, Kohli passionately said: “Pujara himself knows the things he needs to improve on. The fact of the matter is that four years ago, he was criticised for not scoring away from home, he was only a home track bully, now he is performing for you all over the world, now a couple of innings he has struggled where everyone has done the same barring Rohit.
“Ash (Ashwin) played well, Jinx (Rahane) got a fifty, I got a couple of 50s, it has not been easy. If you now start criticising his game at home, I do not think it would be fair and I will say it again and again, along with Jinx, he is our most important Test batsman. He is a very responsible guy, I am sure he will keep solidifying his game,” he added.
The four-match series is currently being led by India (2-1) and the hosts just need to win or draw the final Test to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). (ANI)

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Never intended to degrade, insult any league: Steyn apologises for IPL comment

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New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): After sparking controversy over his remarks on the Indian Premier League (IPL), South Africa pacer Dale Steyn on Wednesday issued an apology and said his remarks were “never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues”.
Taking to Twitter, Steyn wrote: “IPL has been nothing short of amazing in my career, as well as other players too. My words were never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues. Social media and words out of context can often do that. My apologies if this has upset anyone. Much love,” he added.
The speedster had said that sometimes emphasis may be placed on the amount a player is bought for in the IPL and as a result, cricket ends up taking a backseat.
The pacer had also hinted that other leagues are more rewarding to him as a player as compared to the most successful domestic T20 league — IPL. Steyn is currently playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
“I wanted some time off. I found that playing in these other leagues was slightly more rewarding as a player. I think when you go to IPL, there are such big squads and so many big names and so much emphasis on maybe the amount of money players earn and everything like that, so sometimes, somewhere down the line, cricket gets forgotten,” Steyn had told Cricket Pakistan.
India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday rubbished all the claims which stated that sometimes the emphasis is on the money in the IPL rather than the game. Rahane, who has even captained teams in the showpiece event, said the IPL gave players the perfect platform to express themselves in the shortest format of the game.
“See, I am here to talk about the fourth Test match and not here to talk about PSL or Sri Lanka Premier League. IPL gave us that platform to express ourselves and also to a lot of Indians players. I am not sure what Dale Steyn has said, I am here to talk about this Test match,” Rahane had said during a virtual press conference.
The pacer had announced his retirement from Test cricket in August 2019 and he bid adieu to the longest format as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker with the red ball. (ANI)

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When teams get bundled out for 40-45 on seaming tracks, nobody talks about that: Kohli

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 3 (ANI): India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday agreed that spinning tracks do become a talking point quite often and he added that there is not much noise when a match finishes inside three days on a seaming track.
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.
“I totally believe that. There is always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks. I am sure if our media is in a space to contradict those views or present those views which say it is unfair to criticise just spinning tracks then I think it will be a balanced conversation. The unfortunate part is that everyone plays along with that narrative and they keeping making it news till the time it is relevant,” said Kohli while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference.
“Then a Test match happens, if it finishes on day four and five, nobody says anything, but if it finishes inside two-three days, everyone pounces on the same issue, it becomes the issue everyone is talking about. We lost in New Zealand on day three in just 36 overs, I am sure nobody of our people wrote about the pitch, it was all about how India played badly in New Zealand and none of the pitches were criticised,” he added.
Elaborating further, Kohli said: “Nobody saw how much the ball was doing and how the ball was moving and how much grass was there on the wicket. The reason behind our success is that we never crib about the pitches we play on. We will continue that as a team, it is always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more, when teams get bundled out for 40-45 on seaming tracks, nobody talks about that.
“It is always about bad batting then, we need to be honest to ourselves from where we are talking and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative and what serves the people by talking about this narrative.”
When asked about his battle with James Anderson, Kohli said: “Anderson is a world-class bowler, I probably would have thought about how to handle him in 2014, from then onwards, I have treated every bowler as someone who is running in, I always look to play the ball, not the bowler. Having said that, he has gotten quite closed to dismissing me a few times, a couple of catches were dropped, I could have been out to him in the last Test as well, but that does not make anyone someone’s bunny. These are conversations quite one-sided, it just becomes a conversation when me and Jimmy are against each other.
“We have a lot of respect for each other’s skill sets, he is one of the best bowlers going around, you have to be at the top of your game when facing him. He hasn’t dismissed me in the last few games, but that does not make him any less of a potent bowler,” he added.
Kohli last scored a century way back in 2019 and he has not been able to get the three figures since then. When asked whether this is troubling him, Kohli said: I am not in any haste or desperation because I understand where I stand as a batsman and what is my responsibility in the team. People look at milestones, if the team does not do well, then they look at captaincy.
“If the team does well but that batsman doesn’t score, they look at individual scores. For me, these are just issues oscillating between one another. My responsibility is to score runs and make sure I keep pushing the team forward and get involved in partnerships. Along that process, milestones happen, then it’s great, but in the end, the team should win.”
The four-match series is currently being led by India (2-1) and the hosts just need to win or draw the final Test to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).
On the other hand, England is out of WTC’s final contention, and they would be playing just to end the four-match series 2-2. If England win the last Test, then Australia would qualify for the WTC final. (ANI)

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Youngsters express gratitude to coach Stimac for showing ‘trust’ in them

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New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): Dreamy-eyed youngsters — some of them first-timers in a senior India national team camp — sounded ecstatic on finding their names in Igor Stimac’s list of 35 probables for India’s forthcoming international friendlies against Oman and UAE, both of which are scheduled to be played in Dubai on March 25 and 29 respectively.
However, none of them are willing to bask in glory despite being named in the list of 35 probables. Rather, they wish to stay humble and concentrate on the bigger task ahead — training harder in their quest to get into the final squad, and eventually make a debut for the country.
Hyderabad FC defender Akash Mishra stated that “being selected by the national coach” is a “huge motivation”.
“I need to thank Igor Stimac for finding me good enough to be in the camp. But this call up comes with extra responsibility for me to not let him down. It will be the best day of my life if I get to wear the national jersey. But it’s still far away. I need to keep working harder and not think about it much. If I am good enough, I will get a chance,” Mishra, an ex-Indian Arrows cadet expressed.
North East United FC’s midfielder Lalengmawia — also a former Indian Arrows cadet — feels that he has “got a step closer to achieving his dream.”
“The call-up is one of the best things which has happened to me. But I haven’t achieved anything as yet. There is still a long way to go. My dream is to represent my country and I can go to any extent to get it fulfilled. Thank you coach for your trust in me,” he quipped.
Kerala Blasters midfielder Jeakson Singh, best remembered as India’s goal-scorer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, uttered that the call up is a “unique gift which excites him to massively improve as a player.”
“I am extremely excited. This allows me an opportunity to fulfil my dream of not just playing for my country but excelling at it. I am extremely grateful to coach Stimac for naming me on the list. I love challenging myself, and it is time to work the hardest in my life. I cannot let this slip at any cost,” he said in one breath.
FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh hoped he can “grow as a player from hereon.”
“This call-up is very encouraging for me. The camp provides me with an opportunity to train with the best and learn from the best. I need to constantly keep pushing myself to achieve my dream of playing for my country. I understand this is just my first step. A big thank you to coach for having faith in me,” he said.
Another FC Goa player — striker Ishan Pandita — said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to be named for the camp. Any kid playing the sport will always aim to represent the country. And when the call comes, you have to take it. I am over the moon. But, I am ready to put in good work and work harder.” (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Axar Patel was the best bowler in 3rd Test, says Harbhajan

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 3 (ANI): Ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series against England, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh heaped praise on all-rounder Axar Patel for the way he bowled in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium last week.
The hosts registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the third Test and took the 2-1 lead in the series. India is now eyeing the World Test Championship final spot in the last game of the series.
India only need to draw the final Test against Joe Root’s men in order to seal a spot in the WTC final. Axar, playing in just his second Test, scalped 11 wickets in the day-night Test to spin a web over the Englishmen.
According to Harbhajan, it is the bowler who should be credited for turning the ball even if the pitch had something for the spinner.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected, Harbhajan said, “At the beginning of our journey, the spinners are taught to hit the stump — the ball should hit the stump after the spin. If the wicket has spin then the bowler needs to judge how much spin is required, and if you’re missing the stumps constantly then it’s the bowler’s fault. If there is a spinning track or any other track, there is always a challenge to bowl.
“The most difficult balls were the ones where the batsman had to face with the bat and I believe Axar Patel was the best bowler in this game because the batsman had to play every ball and Axar himself didn’t know whether the ball will spin or not,” he added.
In the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Virat Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
The fourth Test of the series will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium from Thursday. (ANI)

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