India step into unknown territory with spot in WTC final at stake

Agencies
February 23, 2021

India Step Into Unknown Territory With Spot In WTC Final At Stake | OTV News

Ahmedabad, Feb 23: Facing the challenge of avoiding a defeat to keep their hopes of reaching the World Test Championship (WTC) final alive, India will step onto a Motera ground that has been reconstructed from scratch and hence is largely unknown to them.

To add to the challenge of a new pitch and the shiny seats -- that may make sighting slightly tough for fielders, the Indians will have to contend with the pink ball too. Despite being one of the three leading cricket bodies of the world, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was the last one of all the boards to get its team to play day-night Test cricket.

Up until now, Virat Kohli's boys have played just two Tests with the pink ball with the last one seeing them succumb to a record low total and a crushing defeat at the Adelaide Oval against Australia in December. India were shot out for 36 in the second innings of that first Test against Australia.

However, what can work for India is that both those Tests happened after England played their previous day-night Test match. England's last Test with the pink ball was in March, 2018 against New Zealand in Auckland whereas India played their first pink ball Test in November, 2019 and the second in December, 2020.

There is a possibility that India may ditch their strategy of playing three spinners which they employed in the first and the second Tests at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai as the pink ball is known to do a lot for seamers.

Most of the wickets in day-night Tests have been taken by seamers and India's first and only home Test with pink ball (against Bangladesh) saw Ravindra Jadeja bowl just two overs across two innings and R Ashwin bowled just five.

Pace bowler Umesh Yadav, who scalped eight wickets in that Test is back after being declared fit and is likely to start. Ishant Sharma, who will be playing his 100th Test, took nine wickets in that game and he too looks sure to start.

The choice will be between playing either a third seamer or a spinner. That India may go in with a spinner was hinted by Rohit Sharma, who said that the pitch will be helpful for spinners and won't be any different from the second Test.

England though will most likely bring back James Anderson and Jofra Archer, the latter in place of Olly Stone. The two pace bowlers missed the second Test, Anderson due to England's rotation policy and Archer due to injury.

England's batting will once again revolve around Joe Root and Ben Stokes although the return of Jonny Bairstow could prove vital. The trio is rated as the visitors' best players of spin bowling.

India need to avoid defeat as a loss in any of the last two Tests would mean the end of their chances to reach the WTC final. They need to win at least two Tests and also ensure that they win the series.

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Agencies
February 13,2021

Rohit Sharma guides India to 106/3 at lunch

Chennai, Feb 13: Rohit Sharma hit a strokeful half-century to steer India to 106 for three at lunch on the opening day of the second cricket Test against England, on Saturday.

Rohit smashed 13 boundaries and one six to remain unbeaten on 80 off 78 balls while giving him company at the break was Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on 5.

Opting to bat on a turning Chepauk track, India lost three wickets in the opening session in the form of opener Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli.

While Pujara made a 58-ball 21 and together with Rohit stitched 85 runs for the second wicket, Gill and Kohli were out for ducks.

Brief Scores:

India 1st Innings: 106 for 3 in 26 overs (Rohit Sharma 80 batting; Olly Stone 1/14, Jack Leach 1/23).

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Agencies
February 25,2021

IOC confirms Brisbane as preferred bidder for 2032 Olympics | SuperSport

Brisbane, Feb 25: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has narrowed down on Australian city Brisbane as its preferred candidate to host the 2032 Olympic Games.

India was among the many countries that expressed interest in hosting the Olympics with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju saying earlier this week that a green signal from the Centre is yet to be given on the matter.

IOC president Thomas Bach clarified that no final decision on the host city had been made, but that "more detailed discussions" with Brisbane would start, although he gave no timetable.

"The IOC Future Host Commission recommended that executive committee initiate a targeted dialogue with Brisbane and the Australian Olympic Committee for the organization of the 2032 Olympic Games," said Bach after the IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting on Wednesday, Xinhua news reports.

"The executive committee unanimously accepted this recommendation. The Brisbane 2032 project is fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020 and the new recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5. It proposes a sustainable Games in line with the region's long-term strategy and using primarily existing and temporary venues.

"It is not a decision against the other candidates, it is a decision in favour of a candidacy," Bach added.

Australia last hosted the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.

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Agencies
February 20,2021

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Melbourne, Feb 20: Japan's Naomi Osaka beat Jennifer Brady in straight sets in the Australian Open final to win her fourth major title on Saturday.

Osaka edged a tight first set and broke the American twice in the second to win 6-4, 6-3 in 77 minutes in front of thousands of fans at Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka preserves her 100 percent record in Grand Slam finals after winning the 2018 and 2020 US Opens and the 2019 title in Melbourne.

The 23-year-old, who also becomes the first woman since Monica Seles to win her first four major finals, will now rise to second in the world rankings.

Osaka, rated as the world's top-earning female athlete, saved two match points in the fourth round against Garbine Muguruza before going on to lift the trophy.

Osaka, who also beat her idol Serena Williams in straight sets in the semi-finals, has not lost a match in more than a year.

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