Ahead of the pink-ball Test against England at the newly-built Motera Stadium on 24 February, the Indian team is leaving no stone unturned in its practice. The Indian team led by skipper Virat Kohli took part in the training session for the third game of the series. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shared the pictures of the training session in a tweet. “Snapshots from #TeamIndia’s training session at the Motera ahead of the pink-ball Test,” it said.
With India all set to play their first game at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, England and India players who have begun training here are also wowed by the size of the stadium with a sitting capacity of 1,10,000. It is the world’s largest cricket stadium.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya said that he feels proud to have such a facility in the country and said he is eager to have fans in the stadium for the pink-ball match. “To be honest, surreal to be at the world’s largest stadium, we cannot wait to have fans around and see the atmosphere, all the boys loved it, it took us around one hour to get used to the size of the stadium. I feel very proud that we have this stadium in India. I have not seen a gym connected to the dressing room, this is the first time I am seeing a dressing room having a connected gym,” Pandya said in a video posted on the BCCI’s official website.
Cheteshwar Pujara added that the gym facility next to the dressing room is very useful for the players. “It is an amazing feeling, it is a huge stadium and we all are looking forward to playing our first pink-ball Test at Motera. The gym is next to the dressing room so it is useful to the guys,” Pujara said.
Meanwhile, opener Rohit Sharma has said that he expecting the new wicket at the renovated and refurbished Motera stadium to help the spinners in the third Test just like the one in the second Test. “I don’t see anything changing in the pitch to what we played in the second Test match. It is going to be more or less similar. It is going to be turning as well. Yes, we are preparing according to that. When the day comes we need to still assess the pitch and what it is going to be like,” said Sharma while talking to the media on Sunday.
“Focus (during the practice on Monday) will be on lights and new seats as they will be shiny. We will have a long day tomorrow. We will get used to slip catching and outfield catching. Every new ground you go to, you try to get used to those lights, the surroundings, the atmosphere in the ground… everyone will do 10-20 minutes of individual preparation to get used to outfield and the lights,” he added.
The India opener, who hit 161 in the first innings of the second Test to take the initiative away from England and help his team win, said that they are only thinking about the next Test and are not thinking too much about the World Test Championship (WTC) final. India need to win at least two Tests in the series and also win the series to qualify for the WTC final. The series is level at 1-1.
“You just have to focus on the process and not think too far ahead. If you are thinking too far ahead, it puts you under pressure. If you try and stay in present, I don’t think you will feel that pressure. It is a five-day game, so the focus and pressure changes every day. I think it is very important to stay in the moment and think what we need to do on that given day. It is important to focus on little, little things and when you do those little things right, it will eventually add up to what you want to achieve,” said Sharma.
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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Axar’s twin strike puts hosts ahead at Lunch
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): Left-arm spinner Axar Patel’s twin strike and Mohammed Siraj’s prized scalp of English skipper Joe Root on Thursday morning helped India gain an upper hand against England on Day One of the fourth Test here at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
At the lunch break, England had reached 74/3 in 25 overs with Jonny Bairstow (28*) and Ben Stokes (24*) batting at the crease. The duo has added 44 for the fourth wicket and are looking to bring the visitors back into the game after early inroads from the Indian bowlers.
Electing to bat, England openers Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley saw off the first five overs bowled by the Indian pacers — Ishant Sharma and Siraj, who has come into the side in place of Jasprit Bumrah. However, the introduction of Axar in the sixth over brought immediate reward for the hosts as the spinner clean-bowled Sibley (2), reducing England to 10/1.
The 27-year-old struck again in his second over as he had Crawley (9) caught at mid-off. The right-handed batsman tried to go over the top to create more pressure on the bowler, but ended up mistiming the ball and handed a simple catch to Siraj. Immediately after the first drinks break, England skipper Root (5) was trapped in front by Siraj and the visitors got reduced to 30/3 in the 13th over.
Stokes and Bairstow, however, then got together at the crease and the duo resurrected the innings. Both batsmen played cautiously and in between made sure they collected runs at a decent pace to not get under pressure. The duo have stitched an unbeaten partnership of 44 and the England team would hope that they continue to bat for as long as possible.
England have made two changes to their playing XI which last featured in the third Test. They have brought in Dominic Bess and Dan Lawrence in place of Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer.
Brief Scores: England 74/3 (Jonny Bairstow 28*, Ben Stokes 24*, Axar Patel 2-21) vs India (ANI)
PSL 6: Three more players test positive for Covid-19
Karachi [Pakistan], March 4 (ANI): The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday confirmed that three more players from two different franchises in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) have tested positive for Covid-19. PCB said that all the positive cases will now isolate themselves for 10 days.
“The three players were not part of the sides that featured in Wednesday’s Pakistan Super League 6 double-header, and had been tested in the afternoon after showing symptoms,” PSL said in a statement.
“PSL 6 organising committee will hold a virtual meeting with the team owners and managements later on Thursday, following which a further update will be provided,” it added.
Earlier, England wicket-keeper batsman Tom Banton also tested positive for coronavirus after Australia leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed contracted COVID-19 in the ongoing sixth season of the PSL.
Banton revealed that he tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday and is now in isolation. The English cricketer, who plays for Quetta Gladiators in PSL, is feeling “OK” and thanked his fans for the support.
“Thanks a lot for all the messages and well wishes. Unfortunately, I received a positive Covid-19 test yesterday and I am now isolating and following the PSL protocols,” Banton informed on Wednesday in a statement on Twitter.
“Fortunately I am feeling OK so far and I have been well looked after by the PCB and Quetta Gladiators. Thanks for the support, look after yourselves and stay safe,” he added.
The PCB has decided to offer coronavirus vaccine doses to all participants of the PSL 6.
“Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to offer SARS-Coronavirus Vaccine doses to all participants of the Pakistan Super League 6, becoming the first cricket board to use the vaccine that produces protection against the Covid-19 virus,” PCB said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The decision has been made in the line with the PCB’s duty of care policy and to ensure all participants of the league remain safe and healthy during the event, which concludes on 22 March,” it added.
PCB said the vaccine doses will be administered on Thursday and will be offered to all those inside the bio-secure bubble. However, it will solely be the players’ and officials’ decision if they want to get the vaccine shots, the board said. (ANI)
NZ vs Aus: Santner tests negative for Covid-19, to be available for 4th T20I
Wellington [New Zealand], March 4 (ANI): Left-arm New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner has tested negative for COVID-19 and will be available for selection for the fourth T20I of the ongoing five-match series against Australia.
Santner was ruled out of the third T20I after he woke up with a head-cold. He was put under self-isolation as a precautionary measure while awaiting the results of a COVID test. Adam Milne was added as his cover for the third T20I.
“Team update| BLACKCAPS all-rounder Mitchell Santner has returned a negative COVID test this afternoon. He is feeling better and available for selection for T20 four against Australia at Sky Stadium on Friday night,” New Zealand Cricket informed in a tweet on Thursday.
Santner had returned with the figures of 4/31 in the second T20I played at the University Oval in Dunedin.
The host currently lead the series 2-1, having won the first two games by 53 and 4 runs respectively.
However, the Aaron Finch-led side were able to keep the series alive as they registered a convincing 64-run win in the third T20I played on Wednesday at the Westpac Stadium here.
The fourth match of the series will be played at the Sky Stadium here on Friday night before the last game slated to be played at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Sunday.
After that, the Kiwis will take on Bangladesh in three ODIs and as many T20Is between March 20 to April 1. (ANI)
Annabel Sutherland ruled out from Australia squad for NZ series
Melbourne [Australia], March 4 (ANI): Cricket Australia on Thursday confirmed that the all-rounder Annabel Sutherland has been ruled of the upcoming tour of New Zealand and the remainder of the Women’s National Cricket League season after suffering a stress reaction in her femur.
Off-spinner Molly Strano has been named as her replacement in the Australian side.
Australian Team Doctor, Philippa Inge said: “Annabel presented with some vague posterior thigh pain following the last round of WNCL matches, with further imaging confirming a stress reaction in her femur.”
Shawn Flegler, Cricket Australia’s Female High Performance Manager and National Selector said: “It’s unfortunate that Annabel has been ruled out of the series, but our medical team were able to identify the issue early which allows her to go away and get herself right with a busy period coming up.”
“Molly comes into the squad off the back of strong performances for Victoria in the WNCL, where she’s the current leading wicket-taker. We’ve got plenty of pace-bowling options in the squad, so Molly gives us another spin option should we need it,” he added.
Australia will take on New Zealand in three T20Is from March 28, before the coveted Rose Bowl Trophy goes on the line in three ODIs from April 4.
Australia departs on March 13 for New Zealand where players and staff will complete two weeks of managed isolation ahead of the first T20I.
Squad: Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck. (ANI)
Argentina Open: Sumit Nagal stuns Christian Garinto to record biggest win of his career
Buenos Aires [Argentina], March 4 (ANI): Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal on Thursday outclassed World no. 22 Christian Garinto in the Argentina Open and registered his biggest win of the career.
In the second round clash, Nagal defeated Chile’s Garinto 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the tournament. The Indian had the upper hand in the game and dominated the match to secure an easy win.
This is his first-ever win over a Top 50 player. Nagal has faced top-ranked players like Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem in the past. He was even able to clinch the first set against Federer in the 2019 US Open. Nagal encountered Thiem in the second-round clash of the 2020 US Open.
Nagal will now face Albert Ramos Vinolas in the quarter-final on Friday.
Earlier, when being asked by ANI whether we could expect players outside the Big Three to win more Grand Slams going ahead, Nagal had said: “Tennis is a sport where anything can happen, to me if someone wins from the Top 3, it would not be a surprise as well.”
“To try to match what Federer does is very difficult. What I learnt from him is how he understands himself and how he reads the game. He will never make the same mistake twice, I felt that I learnt more when I played against Dominic Thiem. I would like to play the way Thiem plays, he is serving very smart, he has got a good forehand, I would love to have that in my game,” he had added. (ANI)
Kohli equals Dhoni’s record of leading India in most Tests
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): Skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday equalled MS Dhoni’s record of leading India in most Test matches.
As Kohli stepped out for toss in the fourth Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium, it became his 60th Test as the skipper of India, and as a result, he equalled Dhoni’s record.
In the previous 59 matches, he has captained India in, Kohli has managed to register 35 victories and 14 losses. While ten matches have ended in losses for India.
Dhoni-led India in 60 Tests, and he managed to attain victories in 27 victories. In 2019, Kohli had surpassed Dhoni to become the most successful Test skipper for India.
Earlier, England won the toss and opted to bat first in the fourth and final Test against India. The hosts made one change to their lineup as they brought in Mohammed Siraj in place of Jasprit Bumrah.
On the other hand, England made two changes to their lineup as they brought in Dominic Bess and Dan Lawrence in place of Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer.
India playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj.
England playing XI: Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Dan Lawrence, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, Dominic Bess, James Anderson, Jack Leach.
This is the 50th Test for Root as England skipper in the longest format of the game.
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.
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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