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There could be 20 people in our T20 WC squad: NZ coach Stead

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Auckland [New Zealand], February 20 (ANI): New Zealand head coach Gary Stead on Saturday said that his side may include 20 players in the squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup this year.
The T20 World Cup is set to be played in India in October-November this year and the Kiwi coach has revealed that the side may look to bring a large contingent for the tournament.
All teams most likely take a squad of 15 members for global tournaments, but Stead has said that his side is looking to include 20 members due to the impact of Covid-19.
“The way Covid is at the moment and the way the world is changing so quickly, I’d probably expect there could be up to 20 people in the squad. In some ways that make it easier getting the balance you want throughout and having your people who are next in line ready to go,” stuff.co.nz quoted Stead as saying.
“I think it’s realistic to expect that there could be guys selected to go to the World Cup later in the year, who may not have played for New Zealand in T20s,” he added.
New Zealand will next be in action in the upcoming five-match T20I series against Australia, beginning February 22.
“Australia is still a dangerous team. You could argue this is the form team of the Big Bash that’s over here right now. Yes, they may not have some of those names that we expect to see, but when you look through their lineup they’re still class right the way through,” said Stead.
BlackCaps T20 squad for series against Australia: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, *Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Axar Patel credits close friends, family for helping him tackle ‘tough phase’

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 26 (ANI): India all-rounder Axar Patel, who picked 11 wickets in the pink-ball Test against England, has credited his family and friends including Hardik Pandya for supporting him during the tough times.
Riding on brilliant spells of spin bowling from Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin, India registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
Axar had made his international debut in 2014 but played his first match in the longest format of the game when India locked horns with England in the second Test. The all-rounder last played a T20I in 2018 and have been out of the white ball set up since then.
“When I was out of Team India for three years, I used to think about how can I work on my game to improve my bowling and batting. Many friends continued to ask why I wasn’t in the team when I was performing consistently in the IPL and for India A, so these questions were in my mind,” Axar told Hardik in a video posted on Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) website.
“But I knew that I need to wait for the right time and give my 100 per cent whenever I get a chance. My friends and family have helped me a lot in the past 2-3 years, and you (Hardik) are also one of them. I learned a lot on how to tackle the tough phase, so I credit them for supporting them during my tough time,” he added.
All-rounder Hardik also praised Axar for the hard work and patience he has shown while he was out of the side.
“For Axar we have been waiting for his debut for a long time and the way he has made it we feel very proud of him. He has done a lot of hard work,” said Hardik.
Axar had a dream debut in the second Test where he picked a five-wicket haul. The all-rounder then scalped six and five wickets respectively in the first and second innings of the day-night Test
“Everyone has me that is Test cricket easy but when you even miss a full toss you get to that playing Test cricket isn’t that easy. I think it’s all about confidence,” said Axar.
Meanwhile, England, who are now 2-1 down in the four-match series, are out of the race for a place in the final of the ICC World Test Championship.
England has dropped to 64.1 percentage points on the points table, which is now led by India with 71 percentage points. New Zealand is assured of a place in the final with 70 percentage points.
India needs to either win or draw the last Test to stay ahead of Australia, who are in third place with 69.2 percentage points. (ANI)

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‘He’s arguably the best T20 batter’: Stoinis backs skipper Finch to find form

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Dunedin [New Zealand], February 26 (ANI): Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis has come out in support of skipper Aaron Finch following the opening batsman dearth of runs in recent games.
Finch scored a paltry 12 during Australia’s chase of a mammoth total on Wednesday in the second T20I against New Zealand. The visiting skipper has been going through a lean patch and had scored just one run in the first T20I on Monday.
Stoinis, who almost got Australia over the line with his sensational knock in the second T20I, voiced his support for the skipper citing the key role Finch can play in the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in India later this year.
“There’s just full confidence that he’s going to perform for us and, personally, all I can see is a long-term picture because come the World Cup, we need him firing,” cricket.com.au quoted Stoinis as saying.
“He’s arguably the best Twenty20 batter in the world over a long period of time. His record’s so good and he’s our captain, so maybe that’s what’s going on off-field but in our heads we just trust him,” he added.
Stoinis highlighted how Finch didn’t have a good Indian Premier League (IPL) season last year but wasn’t short of runs when it came to scoring in ODIs against India.
“The same thing happened when he came back from IPL. He didn’t have the IPL he wanted but then he came and made hundred after hundred in the one-dayers,” said Stoinis.
“I think that’s just the game of cricket, you’ve got to ride out these sorts of things and I think it’s important that, as a team, he feels backed,” he added.
After being one wicket down in the fourth over, going through a lean patch, Guptill slammed a whirlwind 97 off just 50 balls to steer New Zealand to 219 runs in the allotted 20 overs against Australia in the second T20I.
In reply to New Zealand 219, Australia got off to a good start as the visitors smashed 33 runs from the first three overs. But the visitors’ chase was derailed in the middle overs courtesy of some quality bowling by the Kiwis before Stoinis and Daniel almost got Australia over the line. (ANI)

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Shola Shoretire becomes Man Utd’s youngest ever player in European competition

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Manchester [UK], February 26 (ANI): Shola Shoretire has become Manchester United’s youngest ever player to play in European competition after making his Europa League debut on Thursday.
The teenage forward replaced Mason Greenwood in the 76th minute of United’s 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. As a result, he became the club’s youngest ever player in a European match, at the age of 17 years and 23 days.
The previous record-holder was former United forward Norman Whiteside, who was 108 days older than Shoretire when he played in a continental fixture for the first time in 1982.
Surprisingly, the tournament, venue, scoreline, and nationality of the opponents, Spanish, were all the same. The Reds drew 0-0 at home to Valencia in the UEFA Cup, the Europa League’s former guise, when Whiteside made his debut in Europe, on 15 September 1982.
Shoretire relished the remarkable achievement of being the youngest ever footballer to feature for Manchester United.
“What a feeling to make my European debut! To become United’s youngest ever player in Europe is an incredible honour and a proud moment for me and my family! On to the next round,” Shoretire tweeted.

Meanwhile, with a draw against Real Sociedad, the 13-time Premier League winners progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League 4-0 on aggregate
Manchester United will next lock horns with Chelsea on Sunday before they face Crystal Palace three days later in Premier League. (ANI)

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PSL 6: Mohammad Wasim aims to play for Pakistan as all-rounder

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Karachi [Pakistan], February 26 (ANI): Islamabad United’s Mohammad Wasim Jnr, who hogged the limelight with three wickets in their opening game of sixth season PSL, wants to represent Pakistan at the highest level as an all-rounder.
Wasim though went wicketless in Wednesday’s game against Karachi Kings but gave way just 30 runs compared to other bowlers who leaked runs at more than 10 per over.
He had an impressive beginning with the ball in hand but hasn’t had the opportunity to display his batting skills because of a deep batting line-up which United, the two-time champion side, boasts.
“I want to be an all-rounder for Pakistan and make my name at international level,” said Wasim in the PSL release.
To achieve his goal, Wasim has made rapid strides. The journey started with tape-ball cricket in North Waziristan in early 2011 and took a real flight once he shifted to Peshawar and trained with the hard ball.
“It was tough. There were very few opportunities in Waziristan. My father did not want me to play cricket, but my uncle supported me and then friends helped me in my progress,” said Wasim.
He caught the eyes of the junior national selection committee and was included in Pakistan’s squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2020. In Pakistan’s tournament opener against Scotland, Wasim made a five-wicket haul.
“I was lucky to get selected for the junior World Cup. It was a great experience for me,” said Wasim.
The all-rounder said sharing the dressing room with Pakistan cricketer Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan is helping him in a big way.
“Islamabad United are too good. We have top-players in Hasan Ali and skipper Shadab Khan. They are all too good and their presence is helping me a great deal,” said Wasim.
Having won the first two games, Islamabad United will next meet Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday.
Wasim’s ultimate goal is “to be the best emerging player in the HBL PSL 6 and then play for Pakistan”. (ANI)

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Guptill’s blitzkreig knock guides NZ to a win

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Marcus Stoinis’ 78 off 37 balls and Daniel Sams’ 41 off 15 balls weren’t enough to help Australia secure a win as New Zealand emerged victorious in the second T20I by four runs on Thursday.

With this thrilling win, New Zealand has taken a 2-0 lead in the five-match T20I series. Martin Guptill returned to form with a sensational knock while James Neesham slammed 45 off 16 balls before Stoinis and Daniel almost got Australia over the line. Neesham dismissed both Stoinis and Daniel in the final over to help New Zealand secure a win in the second T20I. For the Kiwis, Mitchell Santner picked four, Neesham struck two while Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi picked a wicket each.

Chasing a mammoth 220, Australia got off to a good start as the visitors smashed 33 runs from the first three overs. But Southee removed Matthew Wade in the fourth over to put a break on Australia’s chase.

But the visitors continued to bat freely and seven overs into the chase, Australia was 64/1 before Sodhi dismissed skipper Finch on the last ball of the eight over.

After the Finch’s dismissal, Australia kept losing wickets at regular intervals and was soon found reeling at 113/6 before Stoinis and Daniel came out firing on cylinders. The duo stitched a 92-run stand for the seventh wicket in just 37 balls but New Zealand held their nerve in the final over to prevail

Earlier put in to bat first, New Zealand got off to a bad start as Kane Richardson struck with his first ball to dismiss Tim Seifert in the fourth over.

However, Guptill was in altogether a different mood on Thursday as he raced off to 37 in 23 balls to announce his return to form in style. New Zealand scored 45 runs in the first six overs with Guptill alone accounting for 37 of those. Guptill continued his scintillating batting and notched up his half-century in just 27 balls. A few blistering shots and the right-handed batsman moved to 70 off 37 balls as New Zealand went past the 100-run mark in the 11 overs.

With Guptill’s 97 (50) and Neesham’s quickfire 45* (16), New Zealand ended the innings with 219 runs in the allot-ted 20 overs.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 219/7 (Martin Guptill 97, James Neesham 45*; Kane Richardson 3-43); Austral-ia 215/8 (Marcus Stoinis 78, Daniel Sams 41; Mitchell Santner 4-31) .

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PEP GUARDIOLA SEEKS IMPROVEMENT DESPITE MAN CITY’S WIN

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Despite a win over Borussia Monchengladbach, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is seeking improvement in his side and said that the team has to be more clinical.

Manchester City secured a 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 match here on Thursday. “We had incredible focus for 90 minutes but we were not good enough today in the opposition’s box. We played really well, but we have to be more clinical in this competition. You have to be better, but in general no complaints because we know how good they are and how physical they are,” the club’s official website quoted Guardiola as saying.

During the match, Bernardo Silva opened the scoring in the 29th minute before Gabriel Jesus doubled Manchester City’s lead in the 65th minute.

Guardiola said Champions League is different from Premier League and they have to be clinical in the competition.

“In this competition, we don’t have much margin for error — if you have a 1 on 1 or a 3 v 2 situation, you have to at least finish the action or make the keeper make a save and we didn’t do it. In that position, we have to finish better. They have to know that — in the Premier League we can drop points but in this competition, you have to be clinical,” he said.

“If there is something I want us to improve it is that. In general, it was a good game. It was the first step and there are many weeks until the second leg. We are thinking now about recovery before West Ham,” Guardiola added.

Manchester City will now take on West Ham in the Premier League on February 27. Guardiola’s men will face Borussia Monchengladbach in the second leg on March 17.

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