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Worked on my batting and footwork during lockdown: Ashwin

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Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 16 (ANI): Seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Tuesday revealed that he had toiled hard during the coronavirus enforced lockdown last year to improve his batting and footwork.
Ashwin hit a match-winning hundred on Monday as India scored 286 runs in their second innings. A pitch where all England cricketers struggled to find their feet, Ashwin came out with flying colours picking eight wickets and scoring his fifth Test ton.
“During the COVID lockdown I practiced a lot with throwing balls on the ball and then batting to improve my drive and footwork and it became good and everything just added up when I hit the century. The reactions were natural,” Ashwin said during the post-match presentation after India’s win.
Ashwin was the show-stopper for India on the third day as he bagged a crucial wicket of opener Rory Burns after hitting the century. The right-arm spinner truly relished the moment as soon as he reached his hundred.
Describing the feeling Ashwin said, “It was my dream to play a Test match in Chepauk and I never thought I would play a Test here and fans will cheer for me. I played my first Test here in 2013 when Dhoni (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) hit a 200 and I took 12 wickets.”
“That was a different feeling altogether but this time it was something else. Taking wickets is good but my century is something else as it came after five years. Many people were frustrated as they thought we have batting abilities but were not able to live up to the expectations. The problem is everyone has an opinion nowadays, they don’t think how a batsman is thinking what kind of help does he require,” Ashwin added.
On Monday, Ashwin credited batting coach Vikram Rathour for his success in the red-ball cricket with the bat.
“I will sleep well through the night, that is all that I am thinking. Even after the last Test, we spoke about how we are going to counter Leach and probably bring sweep to the game. Last time, I was sweeping, I was 19 years old, I hit a bit of sweep shots well today. I am thankful the plan has paid off,” Ashwin told host broadcaster after the conclusion of play on Monday.
“Sort of had a very good day. I can’t say it’s been happening in the last three days, I have been practicisng with Vikram Rathore (batting coach), I would love to credit him with how my batting has come through over the last four-five matches,” he added.
India levelled the four-match Test series 1-1 against England after an emphatic 317-run win in the second Test here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship after completing an impressive victory over England in the second Test to draw level in the four-match series.
The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India. (ANI)

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Strandja Memorial Tournament: Deepak Kumar settles for silver after coming up short in final

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): Boxer Deepak Kumar on Saturday had to settle for a silver medal as he came up short in the finals of the Strandja Memorial Tournament.
Deepak came up short in the final face-off in a split decision against two-times European Champion and Bulgaria’s Daniel Asenov in the men’s flyweight final bout at the 72nd Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Deepak, who has been in terrific form as evidenced by his scintillating 4-1 victory against the reigning Olympic champion and World Champion, Shakhobidin Zoirov from Uzbekistan in the semis on Friday fell short in the final against the determined local boy Daniel Asenov, who won the bout 3-2.
Deepak started with a cautious approach and was exposed to some solid punches from his opponent in the first round. The boxer from Hisar looked to improve and up his attack and gave his all in the second round with some decisive punches landing on the opponent’s face. While Deepak showed controlled aggression, despite that Asenov held his ground.
An assertive and steady Deepak though put his all in the final round but the 2019 European Games silver medallist Daniel Asenov landed some clear punches in the dying minutes to win the bout 3-2 in a really close encounter.
“It is disappointing that I could not win the gold but these last few days have been nothing short of a dream come true. I was determined to make a mark in this tournament especially when I got an opportunity to play against a Champion opponent like Shakhobidin Zoirov in the semis. I am very happy that I could come out a winner. Though a lot of work still needs to be done and I will be focusing on it along with my coaches as I go return to India,” Deepak added.
This silver medal is also the 23-year-old Deepak’s maiden medal from this prestigious and Europe’s oldest tournament. He lost here in the first round last year.
Naveen Boora (69kg) was the other Indian to win a medal in the tournament as he ended his campaign with a Bronze medal in his first International outing for India.
On Friday, Deepak had produced a scintillating performance to cause a major upset at the 72nd Strandja Memorial Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria as he defeated the reigning Olympic champion Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov in the men’s 52kg semi-final bout.
Showing great composure in the ring, the Asian Championship silver medallist Deepak produced one of the best performances of his career to clinch a thumping 4-1 win against the more fancied Zoirov, who had earlier clinched the 2019 World Championship title beating star Indian boxer Amit Panghal. (ANI)

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England management remind Burns of his responsibilities after late-night tweet to Alex Hartley

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New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): England’s team management has not reprimanded opening batsman Rory Burns for the late-night tweet he sent out to women’s player Alex Hartley following the Three Lions’ defeat in the third Test against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
“Rory has not been reprimanded, merely spoken to by a member of team management. We recognise the influence high profile people have on social media, and have reminded Rory of his responsibilities,” an ECB spokesperson told ANI on Saturday.
Hartley, who has represented England in 32 games across all formats and she had tweeted as soon as the match between England and India’s men’s team came to an end on Thursday.
“Nice of the England boys to get this test match finished just before England Women play tonight,” tweeted Hartley.
The women’s player had used clapping emoji alongside her tweet and opening batsman Burns took offence to that and he ended up replying: “Very disappointing attitude considering all the ‘boys’ do to support the women’s game.”
However, Burns deleted this tweet of his just 45 minutes later, however, this tweet was liked by team-mates Ben Stokes and James Anderson.
Now, an ECB spokesperson has confirmed that Burns was indeed spoken to by the management and he has been asked to focus on the ongoing series.
England, who are now 2-1 down in the four-match series, is 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 is in third place with 69.2 percentage points. (ANI)

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Premier League: Man City defeat West Ham to consolidate position at top spot

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Manchester [UK], February 27 (ANI): Goals from Ruben Dias and John Stones helped Manchester City defeat West Ham 2-1 on Saturday in the Premier League 2020-21 season here at the Etihad Stadium.
With this win, City has consolidated its position at the top spot of Premier League standings and the side has 62 points from 26 games, 13 points clear of the second-placed Manchester United.
City registered the first goal of the match as Dias got on the scoring sheets to give the hosts a 1-0 lead. However, the hosts were not able to hold on to that lead for long.
West Ham got the equaliser in the 43rd minute as Michail Antonio got on the scoring chart and the scoreline was brought level to 1-1. The first half saw no more goals and the honours were level.
In the second half, City managed to get ahead in the 68th minute as Stones registered the striking blow and as a result, the hosts gained a 2-1 lead.
No more goals were registered and in the end, City walked away with a 2-1 victory.
City will next take on Wolves in the Premier League on March 2 while West Ham will square off against Leeds United on March 8. (ANI)

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World number three Germany defeat Indian women’s hockey team 5-0

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Dusseldorf [Germany], February 27 (ANI): World number three Germany defeated the Indian women’s hockey team 5-0 in their first match of the four-match tour here in Dusseldorf on Saturday.
Pia Maertens (10′, 14′), Lena Micheel (20′), Pauline Heinz (28′) and Lisa Altenburg (41′) found the back of the net for the hosts. India got off to a great start early in the first quarter by earning a penalty corner only in the second minute. However, the German defensive line stepped up and saved India’s shot at the goal.
Thereafter, the hosts upped their ante and put extensive pressure on the Indian defence. They got into great positions and created multiple goal-scoring opportunities. Germany’s Forward Pia Maertens put the hosts in the lead with a goal in the 10th minute and then found the back of the net once again in the 14th minute. The teams went into the first quarter break with Germany leading at 2-0.
In the second quarter, the hosts continued to put pressure on the Indian defence line and earned a penalty corner in the 17th minute. The Indian side saved the penalty corner and counter-attacked immediately. India earned a penalty corner in the very next minute, however, the Germans stood tall and saved India’s shot at the goal once again. The world number three side rode on the momentum and took a 3-0 lead in the 20th minute when Germany’s forward Lena Micheel found an opening and converted it brilliantly. Eight minutes later, the hosts extended their lead to 4-0 after midfielder Pauline Heinz found the back of the net just before half-time.
The Indian team fought hard and tried to make inroads into the German half in the third quarter, however, the hosts fought back and earned a penalty corner in the 40th minute. The Indian defence line stood tall and found a way to ward off the Germans’ shot at the goal. However, the hosts continued to put pressure on India relentlessly and Germany took a 5-0 lead after Forward Lisa Altenburg struck a goal in the 41st minute.
At the start of the final quarter, the Indian team showed fantastic character and put Germany on the back-foot straight away. They earned a penalty corner in the 47th and the 50th minutes, however, the German defence line stood tall and saved India’s strikes on their goal. The Indian team fought hard until the last minute, however, the hosts ensured that they didn’t concede a goal and won the match 5-0.
India will take on Germany in their second match on Sunday. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Wicket was pretty dry, it was tricky for everybody, says Trott

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 27 (ANI): England batting coach Jonathan Trott on Saturday said that the pitch used in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium was pretty dry and it was a tricky time for everybody.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen.
India batsman Rohit Sharma clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
“It was a tricky time for everybody, the wicket was pretty dry, that is what we have seen here in India. We had first use of it, we would have liked to get more runs, and then we would have been able to put India under pressure. It would have been nice if we got some more first-innings runs. Between Olly, Zak and Dom, they have played 44 Tests together, it was tricky for those younger guys, but it is important that they realise Test cricket is about performing well for your country and being able to consistently perform,” said Trott during a virtual press conference.
“Hopefully, the guys are learning and we have a few days of practice, we will get back to the red ball. The pink ball did behave a bit differently as compared to the normal red one, but the fundamentals of playing spin in Asia is very important. The pink ball swings a lot more, it has a different feel to it, it feels smoother. It does feel a little different, it would be nice to get back to the red ball. But pink-ball is here to stay so it’s important that guys get used to it,” he added.
When asked whether the DRS is helping the spinners in the current era, Trott replied: “I do not know if it’s helping them. I think the batsmen are adjusting their technique mainly, they are playing with their bat ahead of the pad. I think it’s 50-50, there are times as batsmen when you have been given out, but you have got an inside edge, you are able to review it and you can carry on. It works both ways and it evens it out sometimes.”
Talking about the atmosphere in the dressing room, Trott said: “It is disappointing with how the two Tests have gone for us. But we don’t become a bad side after two Tests, every time you lose a cricket match, it hurts. It is about being clear in the way players want to go about it. It is important that one does not become too desperate. You feel for the lads, nobody sees them work harder than the coaches do. They are hurting in the dressing room, there is nothing much you can do but you can keep them upbeat.” (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: ODI series to be played behind closed doors

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By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi [India], February 27 (ANI): The three-match ODI series between India and England is set to be played minus fans with an eye on the COVID-19 pandemic. But whether all the games will be held in Pune or the last ODI will be shifted to Mumbai is a decision that is yet to be taken.
Speaking to ANI, sources in the know of developments said that the BCCI is yet to take a call on whether all the games will be held in Pune or the final game will be played in Mumbai.
“We will not have fans with an eye on the COVID-19 situation. But whether the last game moves to Mumbai or all the matches will be played in Pune is a call that is still to be finalised. We also need to keep the English cricket board in the loop,” the source said.
After the four-match Test series gets over between India and England, both teams will square off against each other in five T20Is and then the action would shift to the 50-over format.
The T20Is are set to be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad itself. The three ODIs are to be played on March 23, 26, and 28 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune as per the initial plan.
Interestingly, a BCCI functionary even said that if the number of cases increase in Maharashtra, the ODIs could also be seen in Ahmedabad as that would mean not moving from one state to another.
“While we do use charter planes, but I would think if the cases do increase in Maharashtra, we could have a situation wherein we stick to Ahmedabad for the rest of the tour,” the functionary pointed.
India had managed to defeat England within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. With this win, India is one step closer to reaching the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC). (ANI)

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