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Have taken fitness to next level during break: Hardik Pandya

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New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) India’s premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya had been given a break for the West Indies series after the gruels of the World Cup. While one would think that he would look to switch off and enjoy life off the field, Pandya’s love for the game actually saw him train twice a day for the last month and also fly down to Baroda to work on his skills as it was raining in Mumbai.

Speaking to IANS, on the sidelines of another gruelling session, Pandya spoke on the challenges ahead with the series against the Proteas, working on his fitness, managing his workload as an all-rounder, being the X-factor in this Indian team and his love for tattoos.

He loves the gentleman’s game and reveals that even though he enjoyed time off the field, he also took time to work on his game and fitness. After all, Pandya has in the past had some issues with the back and doesn’t want any repeat.

“It was important for me (the break) as the IPL was long and then the World Cup followed and I had a good run in both the tournaments. So, I was looking to give it my best and that required my body to take some rest as precaution is better than cure and that is when the call was taken by the team management that I come back fully fit for the South Africa series.

“Neither the team management nor I wish that I get injured. The rest has helped me a lot and my fitness has gone to the next level. I started doing pilates and that has helped me a lot. This isn’t something very usual between cricketers. So, that is why I wanted to see how it works and it has worked really well. This last one month, I trained twice a day. It was important that I try something new to improve my back. It was important for me and my game to take this break,” he explained.

Asked about the sudden trip to Baroda, Pandya said: “It was raining in Mumbai so I decided in two hours flat that I will go back home and prepare for the series against South Africa.”

While a fresh series starts with South Africa, exiting the World Cup at the semi-final stage is something that did bother Pandya just like the rest of the boys. But for the all-rounder, it is all about looking forward and getting the next one – World T20 in 2020.

“It was difficult and we all felt the same pain, but life moves on. I would have been more upset if we as a team hadn’t done justice to our performance. I think as a team we played as champions and except for those 30 minutes, I thought we played outstandingly and everyone was contributing and looking to excel. It is just how it is at the knockout stage. We have kind of moved on and we want to focus on the next World Cup (WT20) and win that,” he said.

Asked if he has any specific goals going into the series against South Africa, Pandya said he believes in magic.

“To be honest, I don’t keep goals because I let something out of the box happen. I just focus on preparing well and focus on the areas I wish to work on. I think that magical things do happen. So, I let my game speak and go with the situation. You never know when my team is down and I might stand up and do something special. I focus on that. South Africa is a good team and a good series will give us momentum in T20s,” he smiled.

Being an all-rounder isn’t easy and Pandya says that managing the workload becomes all the more important as one has to focus equally on batting and bowling.

“It is a little difficult because the thing I do as a batsman is then replicated as a bowler. So, I bowl the same amount of balls that a bowler bowls and then I bat for as long as a batsman will to help keep my game on point. That is why it is important for me to be super fit and that I am improving my fitness all the time. It has not been easy till now and I have to manage my workload at all times,” he said.

But then, coach Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli call him the X-factor in this team of youngsters. How does that feel?

“When someone like your captain and coach backs you, the confidence increases and you look to express yourself and that brings out the best in you. I have always made sure that I understand the situation and then enjoy myself. Enjoying the game decreases the pressure. I have confidence in myself so there is no question of pressure.

“The captain and coach expect me to do well and that gives me confidence because that means I have done something nice in my short career. It is always important to go out and enjoy yourself because at the end of the day it is a sport and I love the sport,” he explained.

There is something about Pandya and his return to cricket. Every time he has walked back to the cricket ground, he has made people sit up and take note. Asked to reveal the secret, Pandya laughs it off and says that his job is to excel every time he takes the field.

“Me and my team were talking about the same thing and to be honest I just love to prepare and give it my all. Whenever I have come back, I have come back strongly and I feel that my work ethics have helped. When it comes to my game, I let my performance do the talking. I wish to improve every series that I play in. I look at not just my game, but also my fitness. It is an instinct that I wish to do well every time I take the field,” he said.

A conversation with one of the world’s best all-rounder is incomplete without discussing his tattoos and Pandya says they all have a message.

“I like tattoos and for me all of them mean something. I don’t get a tattoo just because I have to. Whenever I have got some message for myself, I get a tattoo. It always has a message or explanation behind it. You don’t have time when you are playing, so I get them done when am resting,” he signed off.

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Ranji Trophy: Manoj Tiwary shines with maiden triple ton

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Manoj Tiwary

New Delhi, Jan 20 : Manoj Tiwary’s scintillating knock of 303 guided Bengal to post 635/7 against Hyderabad before reducing the visitors to 83/5 in a Round 6 Ranji Trophy tie at the Bengal Cricket Academy Ground here on Monday.

Apart from Tiwary, Shreevats Goswami chipped in with 95 runs before the hosts rode Akash Deep’s 3/46 to put Hyderabad on the back foot.

Meanwhile, after wrapping up Delhi for 163 runs, Vidarbha were 35 for no loss at the end of the day.

On the other side, ace India spinner Ravichnadran Ashwin picked up three wickets as Tamil Nadu came up with a commanding performance to beat Railways by an innings and 64 runs.

Resuming at 236/4, Tamil Nadu suffered an early jolt but managed to finish with a massive 154-run first innings lead. The Railway batsmen were shot out in 36.4 overs as R Sai Kishore (5/16) and Ashwin (3/36) dismantled their batting.

Jlaj Saxena picked up three wickets on the second day as Kerala’s bowlers put up an impressive show to bundle out Rajasthan for 268 in 32 overs on the second day. However Shubham Sharma picked up six wickets for Rajasthan as they too wrapped up their opposition for 82 runs, to win by an innings and 96 runs.

Upendra Yadav slammed an unbeaten 203 as UP declared at 625/8 against Mumbai. Mumbai were then reduced to 2/20 with Shashank Attarde (9) and Jay Bista (3) dismissed by Ankit Rajpoot.

Resuming at 295/8, Sheldon Jackson with Jaydev Unadkat took Saurashtra to 344. Jackson added 43 runs from his end before being the last man to be dismissed.

Madhya Pradesh batters then struggled and lost wickets at regular intervals before Yash Dubey (50 not out) and Venkatesh Iyer (50 not out) repaired the damage to help their side reach 183/5 at the close of play.

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Bengaluru ODI: Smith ton takes Australia to 286/9 vs India

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India Vs Australia
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Bengaluru, Steve Smith slammed a magnificent century as Australia put up 286/9 in 50 overs against India in the third and series-deciding final one day international here on Sunday.

Former captain Smith brought up his ninth 100 in 117 balls, third against India and got out on 131 from 132 deliveries as he tried to change gears and was caught at deep midwicket by Shyreyas Iyer off Mohammed Shami who was India’s best bowler.

Smith had hit 14 fours and a six in his innings. Despite restricting Australia to a score below 300 on what is generally a batsman-friendly track in Bengaluru, India had given away as many as 27 extras.

Shami (4/63) came back for his second spell in the end and picked up four wickets to shave off Australia’s tail and rein in on their scoring to not allow them to get to 300. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant too although he went wicketless, giving away just 38 runs in 10 overs.

Besides Smith, fast-rising Marnus Labuschagne notched up his maiden ODI fifty as he scored 54 from 64 balls (5×4).

Smith and Labuschagne shared a 127-run stand for the third wicket which formed the visitors’ bedrock after electing to bat first.

India were dealt a blow early on as senior opener Shikhar Dhawan had to go for an x-ray with a call on whether he will take any further part to be taken once he is assessed.

Dhawan was taken off the field after he hurt his left shoulder in the series-deciding tie after he dived to save an Aaron Finch shot in the cover region before hurting his left shoulder in the fifth over.

India made early inroads as Mohammed Shami found David Warner’s outside edge to wicketkeeper K.L. Rahul who was played ahead of fit-again Rishabh Pant. Warner was gone for just three with his captain Finch (19) following suit soon, albeit in frustrating manner as he was run out due to indecision on Smith’s part while taking a single in the 9th over.

A livid Finch stormed out of the ground with the visitors in a spot of bother at 46/2. But as has been the case so often of late in Test cricket, Smith and Labuschagne joined hands to bring the team on track.

Similar in their playing style, the pair used square of the wicket a lot to score runs and punished the bad ball although Labuschagne was lucky not to get run out after Kuldeep Yadav failed to collect a Yuzvendra Chahal throw from the deep.

Smith got to 53 in 63 balls as he looked as consistent as ever with Labuschagne also notching up his maiden half century in 50-over cricket as he got to 53 in 60 deliveries.

It took a breathtaking catch from Indian captain Virat Kohli to break the stand as Labuschagne looked to accelerate in the 32nd over. The 25-year old played an inside out drive off Ravindra Jadeja which Kohli plucked inches off the grass diving low to his right.

Mitchell Starc was sent to bat at No.5 in a bid to up the ante and score briskly, but the experiment failed as Jadeja had him caught at deep mid-wicket fence by substitute Chahal to complete a two-wicket maiden 32nd over.

Alex Carey (35) and Smith associated for a quickfire 58-run partnership before Kuldeep got a timely breakthrough as Carey holed out to Shreyas Iyer at deep cover.

Bumrah followed it up with a near-perfect 43rd over, just conceding one run off the final delivery as Ashton Turner huffed and puffed at the crease.

Smith brought up his hundred by running a Navdeep Saini delivery down to third man but his celebration said it all as the Aussies fell behind in their run-scoring with Turner struggling to eventually get out caught behind in the same over.

Shami then removed Smith, Pat Cummins (0) and Adam Zampa (1) with toe-crushing yorkers as India ended on a high. Ashton Agar was not out on 11.

Australia made one change to the side, bringing in Josh Hazlewood for Kane Richardson while India named the same team.

Brief scores: Australia 286/9 in 50 overs (Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 54; Mohammed Shami 4/63) vs India.

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Tata Steel Chess: Anand draws with Jorden van Foreest

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.

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Viswanathan Anand

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands), Jan 18 : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was on Saturday held to a draw by Dutch Jorden Van Foreest in the sixth round of Tata Steel Masters.

Veteran Anand faced the Four Knights opening in the sixth round as black and unleashed an attack in the centre early by sacrificing two pawns.

Anand tried to make inroads as White’s king was stuck around the centre for a long time and
it was a cautious move by both players especially after white lost back one pawn.

The draw was agreed upon once Anand picked the second pawn.

Anand remained in joint sixth spot after three points from six games.

Anand needs a powerful finish to be in with a chance of finishing on the podium with seven rounds still remaining.

Meanwhile, World champion Magnus Carlsen’s got a sixth draw on the trot as his search for an elusive win continued.

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.

Elsewhere, Anish Giri bounced back from his previous round loss to defeat Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus while Daniil Dubov thrashed his Russian compatriot Vladislav Artemiev.

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