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Stay mentally healthy in these times, says Parthiv

Ace cricketer Parthiv Patel speaks to The Daily Guardian about his life in lockdown and how he is keeping himself busy these days.

Vineet Malhotra

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Parthiv
Stay mentally healthy in these times, says Parthiv

Q: First of all, tell me what you have been doing during the lockdown and how has this phase been for you?

A: See, it has been frustrating and there is no doubt about it. I have never spent so much time at home. For the past 20 years, I don’t think any cricketer or anyone would have done it. But while staying at home has been frustrating, it also has been a blessing in disguise for me. I would not get time to spend with my daughter and now I am spending time with my family. I have started reliving my hobby of cooking, which I used to love and now that I have got time, I am doing it. I have been training hard to stay fit. I almost spend 2.5-3 hours training at home. So, yes it has been a bit frustrating, but when you don’t have a choice you try to find a way and that is what sports have taught all of us. It has taught us that you need to find a way with whatever you have and that is what we have been trying to do.

Q: Parthiv, let’s also talk about this pandemic. In fact, after Maharashtra, Gujarat is extremely ravaged by Covid-19. How do you think the country and the states in particular have responded to this virus?

A: The situation in Gujarat has become worse since last week. We can see the numbers growing fast. I am sure that our government is trying its best to stop this pandemic, but I think it is our responsibility too. We should stay at home. As we say in cricket, you cannot win a game only by a batsman scoring a century, you need someone to take wickets also. So, it is not only the government’s responsibility but also ours. I know this period is getting stretched but the more we stay at home, the more we will help the government and the virus will be gone quickly.

Q: This is one question that I ask all sportspersons: you can go to your gym, you can watch your diet, but for a cricketer, going to the nets, playing on the ground, is absolutely sacrosanct, and that is not happening. What is going to happen when cricket resumes?

A: That is a big question. What best we can do is visualise… try to hit the ball in a smaller area and try to ensure that our coordination is there, but as you rightly said, once the lockdown opens it is not going to be easy for any athlete or any sportsman to get back to the skill levels they possess. So, certainly, a lot of hard work will be required. We would have been playing IPL by now, but yes, a lot of over-timing would be required to get back on track.

Q: Since you spoke of the IPL, you have been a part of six different teams in IPL. You have also played under a number of captains. Who has been your favourite and why?

A: When we talk about IPL, I have played under M.S. Dhoni for three years. He is someone who is highly regarded. He allows everyone to be their true self. He gives everyone space to express themselves on the ground and this is his biggest quality. He succeeded in making sure that the atmosphere of the team stays on the same level, whether it is a win or a loss. So, I think this is his biggest quality. To answer your question, of all the captains I liked playing under was Dhoni. I also liked playing under Mahela Jayawardene. He has been the captain of the Sri Lankan team for so many years and he has also been successful.

Q: You have played in South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia… As a cricketer, which of these countries you found the opposition to be the hardest?

A: When I went to Australia in 2003-04, that was the probably the strongest Australian team of that era. Circumstances were different from now. When we went in 2003-04, wickets had bounce, pace. To me, I think, Australian conditions and the crowd…you know when you are not doing well, they keep reminding you that you are down and out. So, I think Australia has been the toughest place and team to play.

Q: Sports fans are desperate for some cricket. If cricket is to resume, which format according to you should be started at this point in time?

A: Actually, you know I am in a position that even if you allow me to go on exile I will go. Any format which is viable for everyone should get started. But I think at this point in time, we need more entertainment. In fact, everyone needs entertainment and there is not a better entertainment than the T20 format.

Q: Have you picked up any new skills in the recent past, in these times?

A: I have been trying my hand in commentary. I had a few commentary sessions with stars during the World Cup and even in the home series in West Indies. I had done an online course on media and broadcasting. So, I am trying to use this time to learn something about media and broadcasting. I see my future in that post-retirement, so I am trying to pick it up. And yes, I am also cooking every day. I have learned to cook Thai food.

Q: We know the world is changing, and by the time this pandemic is gone everything is going to be up for a change. How do you see cricket changing once this is over?

A: I think the real battle will start once everything is lifted. I believe everyone will have to be strong mentally because there will be a lot of decisions that will need to be taken. I am not worried about cricket as much as the economy and related things. My advice to everyone is to stay healthy mentally so that we can make the right decisions.

Q: Last question before we let you go. What has been your favourite memory of the brilliant cricketing career that you had?

A: There are a couple of memories. Beating Pakistan in Pakistan for the first time in a Test series. The 2017 IPL finals when we won by one run. In the domestic front, winning the Ranji Trophy, I think that is a very big achievement for a team like Gujarat. So, these are the three best memories that will stay with me for long.

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Indian athletics’ high performance director resigns

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Volker Hermann on Sunday announced his resignation from the position of India’s athletics High Performance director. Hermann said in a statement that he put on his Facebook page that he had resigned from the position “three weeks ago” after he was convinced that he could no longer “meet the self-imposed expectations” that came from being the Athletics Federation of India’s (AFI) high performance director.

“After one and a half fruitful and inspiring years in India, the day has come when I could not any longer meet the self-imposed expectations coming along with the role of AFI’s high performance director, which is why I resigned from my position three weeks ago,” said Hermann in his statement, adding: “I believe that athletics in India has a great future ahead of it. It also needs players with a strong, confident, and independent mindset to succeed at world stage.”

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Tendulkar’s 98 against Pakistan in 2003 WC one of his best: Inzamam

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Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq believes Sachin Tendulkar’s 98-run knock against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup was one of the “best innings” played by the former Indian batsman during his stellar career.

In the group-stage match played on March 1, 2003 at Centurion in South Africa, the Pakistan team failed to defend a target of 274. India rode on Tendulkar’s 98 to chase down the target with more than four overs to spare.

“I have seen Sachin play a lot but the way he batted in that match; I have never seen him play like that before. The way he played against our fast bowlers in those conditions was superb. I think he scored 98 before getting out to Shoaib Akhtar,” Inzamam told India off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube show ‘DRS with Ash’.

“I feel that innings of Sachin was one of his best. He broke all the pressure that existed. He played a top-quality innings against genuine quality fast bowlers like ours. The way he hit those boundaries, the pressure got released on the batsmen who came after him. If someone were to ask Sachin, he too would absolutely love that innings of his,” he added.

Inzamam also said Pakistan were confident about winning that game after scoring 273 as they had a very good bowling line-up consisting of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Akhtar.

“Our bowling line-up consisted of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Shoaib Akhtar and the conditions were favouring the fast bowlers. The match was being played at Centurion in South Africa. So, we felt that we had put up a pretty good score,” said Inzamam.

Earlier, Akhtar had said that the 2003 World Cup loss against India was the “most disappointing match” of his entire career. “The most disappointing match for me in my entire career was the 2003 World Cup match against India at Centurion. We had failed to defend a target of 274 despite having a very good bowling line-up,” Akhtar had said.

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Medvedev to face Thiem for the title of ATP Finals

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Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev will be facing Austrian third seed Dominic Thiem in the summit clash of the ATP Finals on Sunday evening.

On Saturday, Medvedev came from one set down to beat world number two Rafael Nadal 3-6, 7-6(7-4), 6-3, reaching the final at the ATP Finals for the first time.

Nadal looked to be cruising after the first set, but was quickly down 0-3 in the second set. The 34-year-old showed great determination to come from behind to lead 5-4, but the Russian refused to give up with powerful serves and strong forehands.

In the deciding set, the Spaniard couldn’t find a way to hold his soaring opponent, ending his season still await for a trophy of the season finale.

Medvedev can become the fourth player to triumph at the year-end championships at the O2 Arena following a winless debut.

Earlier, in the other semi-final, Thiem had edged world number one Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-7(12-10), 7-6(7-5) to reach the final of the year-ending tournament for the second consecutive year.

Thiem broke serve at 5-5 in the first set and sealed it with an ace. Djokovic, however, grinded his way to victory in the second set, denying Thiem the win despite the Austrian getting four chances to seal the game.

The third game was also pushed to a tiebreaker, which was started by Thiem but he went on to lose the next three points. He, however, roared back to win the next six points and while Djokovic saved a fifth match point, Thiem got the job done at the next opportunity.

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Knew Gilchrist was vulnerable on the ball pitched up, recalls Praveen Kumar

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Former India fast bowler Praveen Kumar, who helped India clinch the second Tri-series final in 2008 at Brisbane with an early three-wicket burst, says he used to catch the batsmen by watching their feet and body language.

India, having won the first of the best-of-three finals, had needed to win the second to seal the Tri-series for the first time in history.

They had set a target of 258, thanks to Sachin Tendulkar’s 91, and with the batting line-up that Australia had, it could have been insufficient.

But Praveen lopped off Australia’s cream – Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke to leave Aussies tottering at 32/3. They could never recover from there and India won the match by nine runs.

“Let me tell you, I could catch a batsman by watching his feet and body language. That moment (Brisbane, 2008) I was just putting on display the art that I have,” Praveen Kumar told IANS about his four for 46 haul that earned him the man of the match award and India a historic win that got them the Tri-series in Australia for the first time in history.

“You see most things about bowling are simple. I was not thinking about anything. My bowling style dictated the areas I have to pitch and I was watching the wicket and bowling,” he added.

Praveen says he had done his homework with the help of the support staff, having studied the batsmen.

“’Gilchrist paidal tha upar waali ball par’ (Gilchrist was vulnerable to the ball that used to be pitched up),” he explains the thought behind plotting the former Australian wicket-keeper who was playing his last and 287th ODI. Gilchrist poked at a delivery that moved away. Aussies were one down for two.

“Ponting, they used to say, he pulls the ball well. So I said, ‘isko pull par hi nikaalna hai’ (let us catch him on the pull),” he says before explaining the simple logic.

“Whatever is the strength of someone, can also be his weakness. I bowled short, he pulled and was caught at short mid-on (by Yuvraj). I have got Ponting out thrice, once in Nagpur – there before he could realise the ball had hit the pad and he was out. It is about catching the batsman, a person. You catch a batsman by how he is playing. You need brains for that. In Ponting’s case, I thought let me try a short one.”

Praveen was, however, a tad lucky with the third one � of Clarke.

“’Maine ball dabaai aur wo baith gayee’ (I pushed the ball on the pitch and it didn’t rise and went on at a very low trajectory). I got a bit lucky there. The pitch helped me on that one. But I am proud of the way I got Gilchrist. When a bowler uses his hands (art) and brain, he can bowl even if he has just gotten up from sleep. You will naturally catch the good length if you have it in you. By God’s grace, I had practiced so much that even if I could get up from my sleep, I could step out and bowl.”

That night at the Gabba, Praveen helped create history for India with his art and skills. 

IANS

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‘India without Kohli will be like Aussies without Smith, Warner’

While former Australian fast bowler Geoff Lawson says that ‘Indian cricketers will be expecting the unexpected’, ex-skipper Ian Chappell explains how Virat Kohli’s absence will create a big hole in Indian batting order.

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India without captain Virat Kohli in Tests will be akin to Australia without Steve Smith and David Warner, said former Australia fast bowler Geoff Lawson on the prospects of Team India Down Under.

Kohli will be returning to India after the first Test against Australia—a day-night fixture currently slated to be played at the Adelaide Oval from 17 December—to be with his wife Anushka Sharma for the delivery of their first child. However, he will be part of the limited-overs leg of the tour—three ODIs and three T20Is—beginning 27 November.

“India without Virat Kohli will be like Australia without Smith and Warner. It’s not just the runs he makes, but the way he lifts the psyche of the whole group,” Lawson wrote in his column for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell too believes Kohli’s absence for the final three Test of the upcoming Border-Gavaskar Trophy will “create a big hole” in the Indian batting order.

“India also face a selection dilemma when skipper Virat Kohli departs for home for the birth of his first child following the opening Test. This creates both a big hole in the Indian batting order and an opportunity for one of their talented young players to make a name for himself,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Chappell as saying.

“What was already shaping up as an exciting tussle now has the added stimulus of crucial selection decisions. The result could well come down to who is the bravest set of selectors,” he added.

Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, however, believes missing the last three Tests will not take motivation away from Kohli.

“Don’t worry about Virat. He is up for every single game he is playing. Maybe, there will be extra motivation. I am sure he will be ready to go. As I said he is getting home for the birth of his child which is the right decision, so I am sure he will be extra motivated,” Stoinis said on Saturday.

With 7,240 runs at an average of 53.62, Kohli is the highest run scorer in the Indian squad for the Tests and is ranked in the ICC rankings for the longest format of the game behind Steve Smith.

As for Geoff Lawson’s statement, it gains relevance because India had won the previous Test series they played in Australia with the hosts missing Smith and Warner and still reeling from the aftermath of the 2018 ball tampering scandal. Since the duo came back, however, Australia have experienced a reversal in fortune culminating in them pipping India at the top of the ICC Test Championship earlier this month.

Lawson also added that Australia’s biggest strength now compared to what they had before the 2018-19 Test series against India is that they have options. “Australia have risen on the back of drawing away with England and then beating a well-below-strength New Zealand and thumping a classic Pakistan at home last summer. And as the international season looms, No.1 Test nation Australia finds itself in an unusual situation: There are options for batting spots,” said Lawson.

“Indian cricketers will be expecting the unexpected. They will be a handful, given they are defending the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, won on Australian soil for the first time two years ago, and their fast bowling group continues to grow in stature,” he said.

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Nadal defeats Tsitsipas to reach semis, to meet Medvedev

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World number two Rafael Nadal has entered the semi- finals of the ongoing ATP Fi- nals after defeating defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.

On Thursday, Nadal defeated
Tsitsipas 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in two
hours and five minutes to
make it to his sixth semi-final
appearance at the event and
continued his pursuit of a
maiden title at the year-end
championships. The Spaniard
tallied a 2-1 record to claim
second place in Group London 2020 behind Dominic Thiem.

He will next play Daniil Medvedev in a rematch of the 2019 US Open final.

“(To) be in the semi-finals here, in the last tournament of the year, is an important thing,” Nadal said in his on-court interview as per the official ATP Tour website. “(I am) happy for that and I am looking forward to the semi-finals against Daniil (Medvedev).”

Last year, Nadal had defeated Tsitsipas in the final round- robin match, but the lefty was still ousted from the tourna- ment. This time, he only needed a win to move on, and despite a slip at the end of the second set, he emerged victorious to extend his head to head lead against the Greek to 6-1.

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