Vijay Shankar replaces after Pandya fails fitness tests

News Network
January 12,2020

New Delhi, Jan 12: Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya was on Saturday pulled out of the India A team's tour of New Zealand after he failed mandatory fitness tests in Mumbai.

The selectors had picked him in the squad without testing him in the Ranji games.

Tamil Nadu captain Vijay Shankar has been drafted into the India A team and he has already boarded the flight to New Zealand where they will play two 50-over warm-up games, three List A games and two four-day 'Tests' against the home A team.

It has been learnt that Pandya failed a couple of mandatory fitness tests and his scores were well below the permissible range suggesting that he is far from being fit for international cricket. In this situation, pulling him out of the India A squad was expected.

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Sohail Khan credits Waqar Younis for teaching him to swing the ball 'late'

News Network
July 22,2020

Derbyshire, Jul 22: Ahead of the upcoming Test series against England, Pakistan pacer Sohail Khan has credited bowling coach Waqar Younis for teaching him how to swing the ball late.

On the third day of the practice match between Azhar Ali's Team Green and Babar Azam's Team White, the 36-year-old Khan returned figures of five for 50 in 20.1 overs which saw the former fold for 181 in the first innings before they staged a comeback on the final day to win the match by six wickets.

Prior to the practice match, Sohail had a conversation with bowling coach Waqar Younis on the art of late swing. The pacer shared how the presence of the bowling legend in the support staff helped him gear up for the four-day match.

"The conditions in England are swing conducive so every fast bowler gets the ball to move. I asked Waqar bhai to teach me how to swing the ball late. It took him only two minutes to explain it to me. It is because of his tips that I took five wickets in the first innings," Khan said in a release issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

"I am eager to learn from Waqar Bhai. I follow him wherever he goes and speak to him about the art of bowling as he has an abundance of knowledge to share. A few days back I was struggling with something while bowling, I thought of reaching out to him and even before I spoke to him about it, he said he knew what I wanted to talk to him about and he explained it to me in a minute," he added.

During Pakistan's tour of England in 2016, Sohail played a crucial role in helping Pakistan secure a 2-2 Test series draw by returning two five-wicket hauls in as many matches.

In total, he picked up 13 wickets at 25 apiece and finished as the third-best wicket-taker.

"Definitely, it is an honour for me to return to the side. I had taken two fifers here against England in 2016 and now in the practice match, I have started off with five wickets so I am feeling very good. We had been at our homes for the past four months due to coronavirus so starting off on a high feels nice," Khan said.

Prior to Sohail's five wickets, 17-year-old Naseem Shah made a big impact when he took five wickets for Team Green. The strength of Pakistan's pace attack was further established as Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Shah Afridi picked up three wickets each providing valuable support to Naseem and Sohail respectively.
Naseem and Shaheen finished the match with six and four wickets respectively.

Shedding light on the youngsters' performances, Sohail said: "It gives me immense pleasure to see Naseem Shah. He bowls consistently at 150kph. Just like him, Shaheen Shah Afridi is another good bowler. I like both of them."

"It gave me great happiness to see Naseem pick five wickets in the first innings. He is in rhythm and is looking great. What is astonishing is that he is playing in these conditions for the first time but still he is doing so well. Shaheen has also been phenomenal," he added.

Pakistan and England are slated to play three Tests and as many T20Is against each other. The first Test will be played at Manchester from August 5.

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We have capability of making country proud at Tokyo Olympics: Rani Rampal

News Network
July 23,2020

New Delhi, Jul 23: With one year to go for the Olympic Games to begin in Tokyo on July 23, 2021, Indian women's hockey team skipper Rani Rampal on Thursday said the side has performed well against top teams in recent times and can do the same at the Olympics.

The Indian team has competed well against top teams in the recent past and has registered memorable victories at the FIH Series Finals and the FIH Olympic Qualifiers last year.

"We have competed against top teams in the recent past and we have shown that our team has the capability of winning a medal and making our country proud at the Olympics. We have a good group of experienced players, who are guiding the junior players very well. Our team has been getting better with each tournament we have played and we will definitely improve our game even further in the next one year," said the 25-year-old said in a statement.

Speaking about her participation at the Olympics, Rani said that the experience will help her make better decisions at the Tokyo Olympics.

"It was great to be a part of the Olympics in Rio. We made history by qualifying for the tournament after 36 years. It was a great feeling to be playing at the biggest of stages. Even though we didn't register the best of results, I have certainly learned a lot by playing the Olympic Games matches in 2016. I am sure all the players, who played in the 2016 Olympics, will make much better decisions on the pitch at the Tokyo Olympics, based on their experience in Rio," she said.

The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021, while the Paralympics will take place from August 24 to September 5, 2021.  

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India-China standoff | Vivo not to be title sponsor of IPL-2020

Agencies
August 6,2020

New Delhi, Aug 6: The BCCI on Thursday suspended the IPL title sponsorship deal with Chinese mobile phone company Vivo for the event's upcoming edition amid heightened tensions in Sino-India diplomatic ties.

The BCCI sent out a one-line statement, without giving details, saying that Vivo would not be associated with the IPL this year. "The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and vivo Mobile India Pvt Ltd have decided to suspend their partnership for Indian Premier League in 2020," the statement said.

Meanwhile, Vivo released its own statement saying that the two entities "have mutually decided to pause their partnership for the 2020 season".

Vivo won the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years from 2018 to 2022 for a reported sum of Rs 2,190 crore, approximately Rs 440 crore per annum.

The two parties are now working out a plan in which Vivo might come back for a fresh three-year period starting 2021 on revised terms.

However, a top BCCI official offered a different view. "Here we are talking about diplomatic tensions and you expect that after November, when IPL ends and before the next IPL starts in April 2021, there would be no anti-China sentiment? Are we serious?" a veteran BCCI official said on conditions of anonymity.

The anti-China sentiment in the country peaked after the violent face-off between the Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh. India lost 20 soldiers in the clash, while China also acknowledged unspecified casualties.

The stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) caused outrage across India with several calls for boycotts of Chinese companies and products.

The BCCI is now likely to float a tender for new IPL title sponsors as mandated by its constitution. The glitzy T20 league starts on Sept. 19 in the UAE, forced out of India due to the rising COVID-19 cases.

The new development is in stark contrast to what came out of Sunday's IPL's Governing Council meeting, where it was decided that Vivo, along with all the other sponsors, will remain on board.

This was after the BCCI had announced in June that all sponsorship deals pertaining to IPL will be reviewed in the aftermath of the clash in the Galwan Valley.

However, after Sunday's meeting, there was a huge backlash on social media about the BCCI holding on to Vivo.

Both parties then began thrashing out an amicable separation plan, at least for this season.

However, the end of this deal could spell losses for the franchises as they get a substantial share from the sponsorship pool. Half of the annual Vivo sponsorship money is distributed equally among eight franchises, which comes to Rs 27.5 crore.

"As of now, it will be very difficult for the BCCI to match the sponsorship amount at such short notice. Therefore, both BCCI and the franchises should be prepared to lose out on some money -- BCCI more but each franchise from Vivo's exit will potentially lose 15 crore," the official said.

"This year will be difficult for everyone but the show must go on," the official said.

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