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India aim to continue winning momentum against Sri Lanka

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Kolkata, Nov 15: India would look to emulate their recent success against Sri Lanka and go into the forthcoming South Africa tour brimming with confidence when the Asian rivals meet in the first of the three-Test here at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.

Not long ago in August, Sri Lanka were annihilated 9-0 across all formats in their own den by a ruthless India led by their aggressive captain Virat Kohli.

Since then, the men in blue have won limited overs series against Australia and New Zealand at home, while Sei Lanka — still in transition after the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara — triumphed 2-0 over Pakistan in Tests only to lose five One Day Internationals and three T20s against the same opposition.

For a start, skipper Virat Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane will look to get back amongst runs.

While Kohli’s last big score came way back in February against Bangladesh where he srruck 204, Rahane has not got a hundred since his 188 against the Kiwis in Indore last year. Kohli has not got a half-century in his last five Test innings, and Rahane has been guilty of not converting his starts.

Both ace batters practised a lot of reverse and paddle sweeps at the nets in the build-up to the Test.

Kohli, who has been dismissed trying to drive on the front foot of late and playing away from his body, even got the handle of his bat trimmed during nets on Monday to rectify his drive.

Rahane, on the same day, was seen fine tuning his reverse-swep against chinaman Kuldeep Yadav square and fine of the wicket, a weapon the right-hander might use against veteran left-arm spinner Rangana Herath.

India have been aggressive against Herath, Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker in the team, in recent past.

In the last two years, the 39-year old who has 405 scalps to his name, has averaged 53.61 against India, taking 13 wickets in four Tests and giving away 3.58 runs per over.

It goes without saying that Herath will be skipper Dinesh Chandimal’s go-to man besides Angelo Mathews who is making a comeback. Out of the Pakistan series with a calf injury, the former skipper looked good for his 54 retired in the warm-up game against the Board President’s XI.

Sri Lanka’s bowling did not look good against a lowly Board President’s side shorn of quality domestic players due to the ongoing Ranji Trophy.

They could only manage to take five wickets although Herath, who took 16 scalps in two Tests against Pakistan, was not bowled much.

In their batting, opener Dimuth Karunarate has been among runs in Pakistan (306 runs in 4 innings). Fellow opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, slated to replace Kaushal Silva who is not here, gave a good audition in the tour match with a strokeful 74 of just 77 balls.

Besides Silva, the Lankans are also without the services of promising batsman Kushal Mendis and seasoned pacer Nuwan Pradeep.

Coming back to India, with in form all-rounder Hardik Pandya rested for this series it will be interesting to see who takes his place. Going by the nature of the pitch which is expected to be a sporting one, India could play five bowlers with three seamers in their ranks.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been in good form of late, could come into the picture alongside Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami. R Ashwin and Kuldeep are the likely two spinners, meaning Ravindra Jadeja might have to sit out.

Squad:

India: Virat Kohli (Captain), KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma.

Sri Lankas: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wicket-keeper), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Gamage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka and Roshen Silva.

IANS

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IND vs SA: India aim bright start against S.Africa in 1st T20I

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Johannesburg, Feb 17: Following a historic One-Day International (ODI) series victory, ruthless India will aim to continue their form in the cricket’s shortest format when they face South Africa in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) at the New Wanderers Stadium here on Sunday.

With a short interval for preparation after the ODI series that ended on Friday, the Virat Kohli-led India will aim to repeat similar performance as they did in the 2006 one-off T20I series here against South Africa.

The last time both the teams met here for a bilateral series, India clinched a six-wicket victory over South Africa under Virender Sehwag.

Bolstered by terrific all-round performances led by skipper Kohli, who was adjudged the Man of the Series in the recently concluded ODI series, India will hope to thrash the hosts in the three-match series.

Alongside the skipper, batsmen Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhwawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya will look to make the most of their capabilities in the shortest format.

Batsman Suresh Raina, who has made a comeback in the T20Is will act as an vital cog in the middle-order and will look to prove his mettle.

The bowling department, which looked lethal with wrist-spinning duo Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav will try to make a mark in the shortest format.

Pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will only add depth to the formidable Indian bowling line-up.

However, the Proteas led by Jean-Pau Duminy in the absence of Faf du Plessis, will look to hit back at India in the shortest format of the game, under the likes of hard-hitting batsmen consisting the skipper himself, AB de Villiers, David Miller and Chris Morris, who can score some vital runs in the lower order.

The bowling department, led by Andile Phehlukwayo, Morris along with chinaman Tabraiz Shamsi will have to come out with something special in order to get rid of the flamboyant Indian batsmen.

Meanwhile, the three new faces inculded for the shortest format — batsman Christiaan Jonker, pacer Junior Dala and wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen will be aiming to put up a show for the home team,

Squads: 

India squad: Virat Kohli (captain) Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur.

South Africa: Jean-Paul Duminy (captain), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala, AB de Villiers, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.

IANS

 

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Roger Federer, 36, becomes oldest World No. 1 in ATP rankings history

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Roger Federer celebrates after victory over Robin Haase in Rotterdam. (PC- Reuters)

Rotterdam, Feb 17: Roger Federer added another highlight to his age-defying career resurgence by returning to the top of the world rankings on Friday after more than five years and becoming the oldest No. 1 at 36.

On Friday a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dutchman Robin Haase in the quarter-finals of the ABN AMRO tournament in Rotterdam guaranteed the Swiss would rise to number one for the fourth time in his career.

With return to World No 1, Federer sets multiple records. At 36 years and 195 days, he overtakes Andre Agassi as the oldest number 1 by three years. Agassi was 33 years and 4 months when he held the top spot in September, 2003. Federer would be back as World No 1 after a gap of over five years – the longest gap between stints as World No 1. During this period, Federer won three Grand Slams (two Australian Opens in 2017 and recently in January and Wimbledon last year) and was forced into skipping Grand Slams in 2016 due to injury for the first time since 1999.

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IND vs SA, 6th ODI : Unstoppable Virat Kohli leads India To 5-1 series win over S.Africa

Captain Virat Kohli slammed his 35th century as India crushed South Africa by eight wickets in the sixth One-Day International in Centurion to clinch the six-match series 5-1.

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Centurion, Feb 16: Captain Virat Kohli slammed his 35th century as India crushed South Africa by eight wickets in the sixth One-Day International in Centurion to clinch the six-match series 5-1.

This is the first ever bilateral series win by India on South African soil. Put into bat by India, South Africa were bowled out for a meagre 204 in the dead rubber. Chasing the target, India romped home in just 32.1 overs. Kohli remained unbeaten on 129, an innings studded with 19 boundaries and two sixes.

Kohli was in a punishing mood as he personally anchored Proteas’ biggest humiliation in a bilateral series at home in last 17 years. The last time South Africa lost 1-5 was back in 2001-02 season against a champion Australian side.

Kohli also became the fastest to 9500 ODI runs completing the feat in only 200 innings — 17 less than AB de Villiers.

Such has been Kohli’s dominance in the series, that after his aggregate of 558 runs, the next best is Shikhar Dhawan (323), who is more than 200 runs behind his skipper.

Earlier, playing his first match of the series, young pacer Shardul Thakur claimed four wickets to skittle South Africa for 204. For South Africa, all-rounder Khaya Zondo top-scored with a 74-ball 54, laced with three boundaries and two sixes on a good batting track, where most of the other batsmen failed against a disciplined Indian bowling.

Apart from Thakur, the wrist spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal (2/38) and Kuldeep Yadav (1/51) shared three wickets between them. Jasprit Bumrah also gave good support by taking two wickets.

For his brilliant form in the series, captain Kohli was adjudged Man of the Match and Man of the Series.

Kohli took 82 balls to reach his 35th century with the help of 17 boundaries that saw him break a plethora of records.

Sachin Tendulkar, who is on top of the list with 49 centuries, had taken 309 innings to reach 35 centuries. Kohli got there in his 200th innings.

Kohli also became the first Indian batsman to score three centuries in a bilateral series.

Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman have scored three centuries but not in a bilateral series. Ganguly scored three centuries during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, while Laxman slammed three tons during the 2004 VB Series in Australia.

Not just that, he also became the first man to score 500 runs or more in a bilateral ODI series.

The record was previously held by his team-mate Rohit Sharma, who scored 491 runs in the six-match series against Australia.

The record of most runs as captain in a bilateral series now also belong to Kohli. Australia’s George Bailey is second in the list with 478 runs against India in 2013-14. The Australian is followed by South Africa’s AB de Villiers, who achieved the feat twice – 367 runs vs Pakistan in 2012-13 and 358 runs vs India in 2015-16.

In the process, Kohli has now most runs in a bilateral ODI series against South Africa in South Africa, a record previously held by England’s Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen had scored 454 runs in a six-match series in 2005.

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