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IND Vs AUS: Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja Star As India Avoid Series Whitewash Against Australia

India beat Australia by 13 runs in the third and final ODI in Canberra. Series ends 2-1 in favour of the home team

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Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah found his mojo and the Indian team their winning ways in a morale-lifting 13-run triumph over Australia in the third and final ODI at Manuka Oval, Canberra on Wednesday, salvaging some of the lost pride in a 1-2 series defeat.

An in-form Hardik Pandya blasted 92 not out off 76 balls and Ravindra Jadeja’s useful 66 off 50 took India to a healthy 302 for 5 in 50 overs after an inept show in the first 30 overs.

It was at least 30 runs short of a par-score on a good batting track but a rejigged bowling attack managed to restrict the home team to 289 all out in 49.3 overs.

Shardul Thakur (3/51) and debutant Thangarasu Natarajan (2/70 in 10 overs) did their bit but it was Bumrah’s (2/43 in 9.3 overs) controlled effort with some swing upfront and the dismissal of a marauding Glenn Maxwell in the nick of time which ultimately turned the match in India’s favour.

Bumrah did the most important thing by bowling one in the block-hole that had the dangerous Maxwell (59 off 38 balls) having his own little “brain fade” moment trying to free his arms exposing the stumps.

The ‘Big Show’ was in a mood to punish the bowlers and all he needed was to see off Bumrah and attack the others as he was doing.

The cushion provided by his “senior” helped Natarajan to start bowling his yorkers under pressure and Thakur also chipped in with necessary wickets.

The inconsequential match became something of consequence for Virat Kohli and his men as they gear up for the next white-ball series — three T20 Internationals in less than 48 hours.

India’s bowling attack had a different look and it did perform way better compared to the first two games.

Natarajan was very steady in his first spell and got his maiden wicket when Marnus Labuschagne (7), in an unfamiliar role as opener, dragged a wide delivery back onto the stumps.

Thakur, replacing a rested Mohammed Shami, was also lucky when Steve Smith (7) tried to tickle one down on the ‘fifth leg stump’ to be caught by KL Rahul behind the stumps.

Moises Henriques (22) and skipper Aaron Finch (75) looked good during their 51-run stand for the third wicket before the former failed to keep a pull-shot down off Thakur’s bowling.

However, what was more heartening was Kuldeep Yadav’s (1/57 in 10 overs) restrained bowling in the middle overs with the last over punishment by Maxwell being more of an aberration.

The flight was back and so was the dip in the air that used to create confusion in the minds of batsmen.

Debutant Cameron Green (21) played an uppish slog sweep off Kuldeep which was snapped inches off the ground by Jadeja.

Jadeja (1/62 in 10 overs), who had a field day, topped up a solid batting show with the prized wicket of the rival captain Finch as Shikhar Dhawan managed to make an easy catch look difficult at long-on.

Maxwell and the calm Alex Carey (38 off 42 balls) looked like doing an encore of their victorious effort against England at Old Trafford last September.

But just when they settled down, Carey went for non-existent single only to be sent back by Maxwell as Australia were reduced to 210 for 6.

Earlier, an in-form Pandya and the effective Jadeja helped India make an impressive recovery after the team struggled during the first 30 overs with only skipper Kohli’s fighting half century being the bright spot.

Coming together in the 32nd over, Pandya and Jadeja stitched 150 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket to change the complexion of the game, which would make no difference to the final score-line as Australia have already sealed it with back-to-back wins in Sydney.

It looked like India would barely reach 250 but Pandya and Jadeja made it a different story.

The duo took some time to settle down before opening the floodgates of boundaries. They scored 53 runs from the 46th to 48th over. In all, 76 runs came from the last five overs.

Pandya’s innings had seven fours and one six while Jadeja was at his best, hitting five boundaries and three sixes.

Brief Scores:

India: 302 for 5 in 50 overs (Hardik Pandya 92 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 66 not out, Virat Kohli 63; Ashton Agar 2/44).

Australia: 289 all out in 49.3 overs (Aaron Finch 75, Glenn Maxwell 59; Shardul Thakur 3/51, Jasprit Bumrah 2/43)

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For Rishabh Pant, lessons on terrace of Roorkie home come handy

It was a pleasant coincidence that the day Pant helped India win their second consecutive Test series in Australia, Sinha’s sugar levels went down.

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Rishabh Pant

New Delhi, Jan 20: On the cemented terrace of his Roorkie home in Uttarakhand, father Rajinder Pant would tie a pillow to the chest of his tiny son Rishabh and bowl with a cork ball to him from close distance to take the fear of facing fast bowlers out of his mind. That, coupled with the Maltova-mixed milk, gave strength to Rishabh’s muscles — a testimony of which was delivered in Brisbane on Tuesday as he hammered an unbeaten 89 to guide India to a match and series triumph.

That novel practice method was a roaring success as Pant, who would take two tiffin boxes to school to save time for cricket practice after school hours, became fearless and that is reflected in his shots. Anyone who watched him accelerate during his 138-ball knock in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Gabba on Tuesday would vouch that Pant had learnt his lessons well in the tiny Uttarakhand town.

Unfortunately for Pant, his father is no more to watch his talented 23-year-old son play the “most important” innings of his fledgling Test career. But Pant’s mind would surely have gone back to those early coaching classes on the terrace and when he would carry two tiffin boxes to school — from one he would eat during the school timings, and from the other he would eat after his daily extra cricket practice sessions soon after school hours.

“I used to make him practice with a cork ball on the cemented rooftop of our Roorkee home where the ball came off faster. There was no turf pitch in the city at the time. I used to tie a pillow to his chest so that my little boy didn’t get hurt while facing faster deliveries. But he did get hurt; sustained fracture. It was also meant to take the fear [of facing fast bowling] out of him. That was extra coaching, apart from the coaching he received in school,” Rajinder Pant had said in 2019.

Soon, looking at the talent their son possessed, Rajinder and his wife Saroj took the big decision of sending Rishabh to Dronacharya Awardee coach Tarak Sinha in Delhi. Commuting was a big challenge, but the mother took that responsibility. She would wake up in the middle of the night to catch the 3 am bus from Roorkee to Delhi for an arduous five-hour journey, along with Rishabh, so that he could attend the Sinha-run Sonnet Club’s net practice sessions on Saturdays and Sundays at Sri Venkateswara College in south Delhi. She and her son would often stay at a Gurudwara near the college on weekends to so that he could practice on Sundays, before a grown up Rishabh rented accommodation in Delhi.

When Pant started living in Delhi, Sinha took charge and doubled up as his local guardian following permission from his parents.

On Tuesday, after India’s win and having himself won the Man of the Match award, Pant called up Sinha on WhatsApp. Obviously, the coach was happy with his ward’s performance and congratulated him.

Pant ended up with the highest aggregate for India in the Test series with 274 runs in three matches, and the third overall, behind Aussies Marnus Labuschagne (426 runs in four matches) and Steve Smith (313 in four matches).

It was a pleasant coincidence that the day Pant helped India win their second consecutive Test series in Australia, Sinha’s sugar levels went down.

“But, on a serious note, I am happy that Rishabh played responsibly and sensibly. His off-side play has also improved, and it was visible today. He started slowly and gradually accelerated his innings, especially after Australia took the second new ball he hammered several boundaries. Also, he now has a good temperament. And, I have a feeling that the Australians fear him,” Sinha told IANS.

Significantly, Pant, who was promoted to No.5 (in the first innings he batted at No.6), remained unbeaten after three-hour vigil at the crease while facing 138 balls.

“This was in his mind for a long a time — to remain unbeaten and take the team to victory — after some people had criticised him for not finishing off matches. He wanted to be a finisher, and he showed it today that he was on his way,” disclosed Sinha. “I also pointed it out to him that he had missed a few centuries by getting out in the nineties.”

Pant has got out three times in the nineties – twice against West Indies in 2018 and in the third Test against Australia in Sydney this month. On Tuesday, however, he didn’t get the opportunity to reach his century as India won and he remained unbeaten on 89. However, the knock may have cemented his place in the Test XI – and opened a window of opportunity for inclusion in the Indian ODI and T20 teams.

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Pujara is the team’s warrior: Shastri

Shastri said that the team is not interested in any debates. “I think let the boys enjoy it. Debates can carry on. Not interested in any debates,” added Shastri.

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Cheteshwar Pujara

Brisbane, Jan 20: Coach Ravi Shastri called Cheteshwar Pujara a warrior after the India No. 3 took multiple blows on his body, head and arm during his 211-ball 56 that helped lay a solid platform for the Indian team’s three-wicket win in the fourth and final Test at The Gabba on Tuesday.

“Pujara is the team’s warrior. On seeing his performance in Sydney and Brisbane, I told him, ‘Pujju you have finished them’,” Shastri told reporters.

The right-handed batsman’s slow run rate had been a topic of debate yet again over the course of the series. However, the gritty half-centuries on the final day of the third and the fourth Tests seem to have shown his importance in the Indian Test setup.

Shastri said that the team is not interested in any debates. “I think let the boys enjoy it. Debates can carry on. Not interested in any debates,” added Shastri.

Captain Ajinkya Rahane too lavished praise on the 32-year-old batsman. “The way Pujara played today regardless of getting many injuries due to bouncers on the head. He didn’t bother. His goal was to save the wicket,” added Rahane.

Pujara himself tweeted and thanked his fans and supporters on what began as a tough tour him as he struggled to get runs.

“Overcome with emotion and filled with pride. The character and skill shown by the entire squad has been commendable. Moments like these make the countless hours of toil and practice truly worth it. Thank you for all the support and wishes” Pujara tweeted.

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Athletic Bilbao beat Barcelona to win Spanish Super Cup, Messi sent off

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was sent off for violent conduct as Athletic Bilbao stunned Barcelona to win the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday, a dramatic final finishing 3-2 after extra-time.

Moments before Bilbao’s momentous triumph was confirmed, Messi lashed out at Asier Villalibre, who had earlier scored a 90th-minute equaliser in normal time to deny Barca victory.

Antoine Griezmann’s double looked to have sealed the trophy for Barcelona but Villalibre intervened before Inaki Williams’ fabulous strike three minutes into extra time proved decisive.

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