Thriller on the cards as in-form KKR take on ever reliable CSK - The Daily Guardian
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Thriller on the cards as in-form KKR take on ever reliable CSK

The summit clash will see M.S. Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings locking horns with Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

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The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been played in two parts this season due to the Covid-19 pandemic and after a long wait, the final is finally here. The summit clash will see MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings clash with Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.

MS Dhoni-led CSK has won the IPL title thrice and after putting on a dismal show in the 2020 season in UAE, the side made a remarkable comeback this year and some fearless cricket from the franchise has seen Dhoni’s men reach the finals. Dhoni might have managed to score just 114 runs from 15 matches this season, but he rose like a phoenix when the team needed him most and his best knock came in Qualifier 1 against Delhi Capitals. He scored 18 runs from six balls, rolling back time, giving fans a perfect nostalgia trip as the Chennai franchise roared into the final. His innings even got Virat Kohli to label Dhoni as the “greatest finisher ever”.

Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, and Dwayne Bravo have all played their roles to perfection and under Dhoni’s leadership, the bunch has proved to be good on days when it has mattered.Moving to KKR, Eoin Morgan’s side was completely down and out in the India leg as the side had won just two games out of seven. However, travelling to the UAE brought about a change in fortunes.

Venkatesh Iyer’s inclusion provided the much-needed boost to the batting lineup and the Kolkata-based franchise has been playing fearless cricket. Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, and Rahul Tripathi have done their job too this season.

However, Eoin Morgan’s form remains a concern as the left-handed batter has not played any innings of substance this season. In Qualifier 2 against Delhi, Morgan had a perfect chance to guide the side home, but he was not able to do that, and in the end, it was Tripathi who somehow took KKR over the line in a thriller.

Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy have acted as perfect partners in crime and the duo has spun a web over opponents this season and it would be interesting to see whether the likes of Gaikwad and Faf manage to get better of them.

KKR might also have the services of Andre Russell for the final and if that indeed happens, the side might just prove to have too much ammunition for Dhoni’s side. However, looking at how Dhoni has led the side this season, one cannot bet against the man who has a knack for keeping his cool under the most intense situations.

It will undoubtedly be a clash of two top-quality teams come Friday.Squads: Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, Suresh Raina, Imran Tahir, Jason Behrendorff, Krishnappa Gowtham, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Harishankar Reddy, Dominic Drakes, Bhagath Varma, Karn Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara.Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakaravarthy, Harbhajan Singh, Tim Southee, Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Kuldeep Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sheldon Jackson, Sandeep Warrier, Tim Seifert, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Vaibhav Arora.

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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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