Positive covid-19 tests by Oz Open players believed to be ‘virus shedding’

Agencies
January 20, 2021

Positive Covid tests by Oz Open players believed to be 'virus shedding'

Sydney, Jan 20: Positive Covid-19 tests attributed to two Australian Open players are now suspected to be instances of 'virus shedding' following evidence of past infections, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

Victoria's Minister for Emergency Services Lisa Neville has clarified the total number of cases linked to the event that weren't considered shedding was seven, none of which were players, reports Xinhua news agency.

Neville explained that one of the players initially reported as positive on Tuesday was in hotel lockdown and was reclassified as a virus shedding case, while the other who tested positive along with a support staff member was also suspected to be a case of virus shedding, which health officials were working to confirm.

Instances of positive cases on three flights arriving in Australia last week led to 72 players being considered close contacts and forced to isolate in their hotel rooms, despite previously being told they would be able to train for five hours per day.

Players continued to voice their discontent on social media, prompting a backlash from Australians, particularly those in Melbourne who endured one of the world's longest lockdowns in the latter months of last year.

However Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said most players understood why they had to quarantine and were fully cooperating with authorities.

"I think the majority of the players understand and accept it and it is a minority that are struggling with it... we're going to do whatever we can to make it better for them," Tiley told national broadcaster ABC.

"It's a tightrope that we walk and one of them is we've always said our priority is the safety of the Victorian community and that will not be compromised under any circumstance and I do understand the players."

Following the public response, several big name stars have distanced themselves from previous criticisms of how the situation was being handled, including World No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut who appeared in an interview comparing the two week quarantine to prison.

After his statements became public, Agut took to social media to apologise for anyone he had offended.

"Both my coach and I are following the protocols designed by the Australian government and Tennis Australia to avoid any risk and guarantee to compete again in a safe way. These are hard times for athletes and society in general," Agut posted on Twitter.

"The management that has been made in Australia to prevent the spread of the virus is admirable."

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Agencies
February 20,2021

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Melbourne, Feb 20: Novak Djokovic says going unbeaten in eight Australian Open finals will give him confidence in Sunday's decider, but he'll need more than that to overcome "the man to beat" — red-hot Russian Daniil Medvedev.

The Serbian world number one is into his ninth decider at Melbourne Park as he targets an 18th Slam title to close the gap on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have 20 each.

It has been a rollercoaster ride to get there, with Djokovic uncharacteristically dropping five sets as he battled an abdominal injury that nearly forced him to pull out.

But after his semi-final, Djokovic said he was feeling better than at any time during the past fortnight as he prepares to defend his crown against a man on a 20-match unbeaten streak.

The Serb heads into the showpiece on Sunday evening with the phenomenal record of never losing a final on Melbourne's famous blue courts in eight attempts spanning 13 years.

Djokovic will also be playing his 28th Grand Slam final, in contrast to the Russian's second.

But the 33-year-old, who swept past qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals, said while experience was clearly an advantage, Medvedev was also in electric form.

"Of course it contributes to more confidence, prior to coming into the finals knowing that I never lost in the finals or semi-finals just makes me feel more comfortable being on the court," he said.

"But each year is different, although it does have a mental effect on me. Maybe on my opponents, I don't know, but on me it does definitely have a positive effect.

"But it's not a decisive factor in the way the match is going to go forward, because each year is different."

Medvedev is unbeaten since last November, including a straight-sets drubbing of the Serb at the ATP Finals in London, with Djokovic deeming him "the man to beat".

"He's just so solid. Also, I heard (commentator) Jim Courier calling him a master chess player because of the way he tactically positions himself on the court, and it's true," he said.

"You know, he's definitely a very smart tennis player."

Medvedev, who has dropped just two sets so far, insisted that despite having all the momentum he was still the underdog.

"He's the favourite because he didn't lose. On eight occasions that he was here in the semis he won the tournament," said the 25-year-old.

"Me, I'm... the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. And I'm happy about it.

"I know that to beat him you need to just show your best tennis, be at your best physically maybe four or five hours, and be at your best mentally maybe for five hours," he added.

Despite playing down his chances, Medvedev, who also reached the 2019 US Open final, losing to Nadal, has the weapons to trouble Djokovic, with a big serve, unrelenting returns and exceptional movement as he targets a maiden Grand Slam title.

Twelve of his 20 straight wins have been against top-10 players and he has won three of his last four against the 17-time Grand Slam-winning Serb.

"Playing Novak seven times already is just a huge experience," he said.

"(But) I think when he's in the zone he doesn't miss. He goes down the line, cross, forehand, backhand, he doesn't miss. That's what is the toughest part of playing against him."

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Agencies
February 22,2021

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Ahmedabad, Feb 22: Brushing aside the incessant talk around spin-friendly pitches in India, big-hitting England all-rounder Ben Stokes has said that Test players should be proficient in handling all kinds of conditions.

Ahead of the day/night Test here starting Wednesday, Stokes wondered how the newly-refurbished Motera strip would behave but at the same time, stressed that top-flight cricketers should be able to deal with whatever they are faced with.

"The thing about being a Test batsman is that you need to be able to handle all types of conditions. India is one of the places where it is a lot tougher for overseas batsmen to come and be successful, but then so too is England," he wrote in a column for the 'Daily Mirror'.

"And that is part of the game, the challenges and why we love it," he said.

The turning tracks in India became a talking point during the ongoing series when some former England players such as Michael Vaughan asked whether such strips were ideal for Test cricket.

The series is tied at 1-1 after India's brilliant 317-run triumph in the second Test in Chennai. Stokes' bowling quota of just two overs in that game raised a few eyebrows but he said it was about

"Don't read too much into the fact that I didn't bowl a huge amount in the second game, I'm sure if it was a green seamer I would have bowled a lot more overs.

"I think there may be more reason for me to bowl under lights in the next game if it will help the team."

A lot is at stake for both India and England in the four-match series as the World Test Championships final spot is still up for grabs. While India need to win one and draw another to make it, England will have to triumph in both the remaining games.

Stokes said nobody has the slightest clue how the track would behave.

"Generally around the world whenever these pink ball games are played there is always a period when the ball starts doing a bit under lights and it brings the seamers right into the game," Stokes wrote.

"For us out here that will be massive. And at a brand new ground that looks pretty impressive no-one will know just how it will react.

"We've got a good spin department, but hopefully with conditions that suit, we've certainly got a seam department to back them up strongly."

Stokes said the Test triumph of the English team that toured in 2012 has been an inspiration for the current side.

"There aren't too many teams who come away from India with a series win.

The lads from 2012 are rightly proud of their achievement and the rest of us want to join Rooty, Jonny, Jimmy and Broady in achieving it for ourselves, and what a chance we've got," the 29-year-old said.

The outcome of the first two Test was pretty much decided by the team batting first and posting a massive total. If it was England in first Test, India did the same in the second. Stokes acknowledged the "scoreboard pressure".

"Scoreboard pressure in Test cricket is probably at its most prominent in the sub-continent, and plays a massive part in trying to win the game.

"The good thing is we know what it takes to win out here, so it is about putting that into practice once more, learning what we can from the second Test and delivering this week," he wrote.

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coastaldigest.com news network
February 17,2021

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The IPL 2021 auction will be held in Chennai on Thursday (Feb 18, 2021) and a total of 292 players will go under the hammer. There are some big international and Indian names in the list and it will be interesting to see how the teams react when some of the big names, released by the franchisees, are called out.

Kings XI Punjab, who will now be called as Punjab Kings, have the biggest purse and will rejig the line-up again. RCB too went for the jugular despite a play-offs finish last season.

CSK too will be looking to make some big buys to start afresh. Here is a look at how the 8 franchises are placed in terms of purse and slots left.

Available purse and team strengths of the team ahead of IPL 2021 mini auction

Chennai Super Kings (CSK)
Number of players: 18
Number of Overseas players: 7
Total money spent: ₹62.10 cr
Salary cap available: ₹22.90 cr
Available slot: 7
Overseas slot: 1

Delhi Capitals (DC)
Number of players: 19
Number of Overseas players: 6
Total money spent: ₹72.0982 cr
Salary cap available: ₹12.9018 cr
Available slot: 6
Overseas slot: 2

Punjab Kings
Number of players: 16
Number of Overseas players: 3
Total money spent: ₹31.80 cr
Salary cap available: ₹53.20 cr
Available slot: 9
Overseas slot: 5

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)
Number of players: 17
Number of Overseas players: 6
Total money spent: ₹74.25 cr
Salary cap available: ₹10.75 cr
Available slot: 8
Overseas slot: 2

Mumbai Indians (MI)
Number of players: 18
Number of Overseas players: 4
Total money spent: ₹69.65 cr
Salary cap available: ₹15.35 cr
Available slot: 8
Overseas slot: 2

Rajasthan Royals (RR)
Number of players: 17
Number of Overseas players: 5
Total money spent: ₹50.12 cr
Salary cap available: ₹34.85 cr
Available slot: 8
Overseas slot: 3

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Number of players: 12
Number of Overseas players: 4
Total money spent: ₹49.10 cr
Salary cap available: ₹35.90 cr
Available slot: 13
Overseas slot: 4

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH)
Number of players: 22
Number of Overseas players: 7
Total money spent: ₹74.25 cr
Salary cap available: ₹10.75 cr
Available slot: 3
Overseas slot: 1

How Kings XI Punjab became Punjab Kings

Kings XI Punjab were on Wednesday renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of the 2021 IPL auction on Thursday in Chennai. A new logo was also unveiled on Wednesday. 

Speaking about the new brand identity, team CEO Satish Menon said: "Punjab Kings is a more evolved brand name, and we understand it was a right time for us to move focus on the core brand itself." 

"The change in brand identity is not about changing our brand ethos but celebrating our one-ness as we stand in unity like a family. The new logo honors the liveliness and vibrancy of the brand and provides modern elements, while we stand out from the rest of the teams."

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