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India break T20I jinx, bid adieu to Nehra with win vs Kiwis

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TeamIndia

New Delhi, Nov 1 : Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra could not have asked for a better send-off as India thrashed New Zealand by 53 runs at the Ferozshah Kotla here on Wednesday to bring up their maiden win against the Kiwis in T20 Internationals.

India’s opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan (80 from 52 balls) and Rohit Sharma (80 from 55 balls) blasted identical half tons to set the tone with a 158-run record opening stand and guide the hosts post a massive 202/3.

In reply, the tourists failed to get going as only five of their batsmen — Kane Williamson (28), Tom Latham (39), Mitchell Santner (27), Ish Sodhi (11) and Tom Bruce (10) could manage to reach double figures.

The Kiwis found both their openers — Martin Guptill (4) and Colin Munro (7) back in the hut inside the first four overs with just 18 runs on the board.

The credit for Guptill’s dismissal went to Hardik Pandya’s quick reflexes, latching on to a superb running catch at long-off off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

Munro failed to make full use of the life when he was dropped by Pandya off Ashish Nehra, and was beaten by a pacy yorker from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Tottering at 33/2 by the end of the powerplay, the onus was on skipper Kane Williamson (28 off 24 balls) and Tom Latham to take out of troubled waters.

Williamson, who started off by clobbering Bhuvneshwar for a six before enjoying a reprieve from Kohli at mid-off off Nehra, fell prey to Pandya’s first delivery of the match, comfortably caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The dismissal of Williamson brought in Tom Bruce (10 from 10b), who started off with a boundary off Pandya but fell immediately to left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

One ball later, Axar dismissed Colin de Grandhomme (0) as the Kiwis found themselves tottering at a precarious 84/5 after 13 overs.

They were soon reduced to 99/7 as the Indian bowlers tightened the noose.

Chahal dealt the final nail on the coffin by dismissing New Zealand’s last hope — Latham, smartly stumped by Dhoni as the asking rate kept on mounting.

Merely a formality with the Kiwis requiring 61 off the last over, Kohli threw the ball to Nehra for one last time in his 18-year-old international career.

As Nehra went back to his run-up to bowl his fourth of the over, a young ball boy took everyone by surprise when he came up running to touch the veteran pacer’s feet.

Earlier, India made full use of the horrible fielding effort from the Kiwis to decimate the Kiwi bowlers.

While Dhawan belted a 52-ball 80, to eclipse his previous highest T20I score of 60, Rohit continued his glorious form to smash a 55-ball 80, comprising six boundaries and four sixes.

With the dew setting in, the New Zealanders found it tough to grip the ball, which was well utilised by the Indian duo, reaching 80/0 midway through the innings.

Dhawan had by now reached his third T20 fifty with a single off an inside edge off left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who cramped him for room.

The southpaw turned up the heat by smashing a couple of sixes even as Rohit got to his 12th T20I half century by clobbering Santner for a maximum and two consecutive boundaries as India’s score crossed the 150-run mark in no time.

Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who was till now at the receiving end of Dhawan’s onslaught, got the better of the southpaw with a googly outside off.

Dhawan’s stay at the crease was ended when he failed to connect the ball and instead nicked back to stumper Latham.

Two balls later, Sodhi packed the dangerous Pandya (0), who was promoted up to accelerate the scoring rate.

With 3.2 overs left, skipper Virat Kohli (26 off 11 balls) walked into the middle amid loud cheers from the capacity crowd and began sending the bowlers to the leather hunt in the company of former skipper Dhoni, who was at 7 off two deliveries.

After the match, Nehra took a lap of honour around the ground with the entire team with him.

His long-time Delhi team-mates Kohli and Dhawan hoisted him up on their shoulders as he waved energetically at the crowd.

With the win, India have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber and will next face the Kiwis at Rajkot on Saturday.

IANS

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Arjuna Award is recognition of my hard work: Paddler Manika Batra

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Manika Batra during a programme

Elated after being among those selected for this year’s prestigious Arjuna Award, star paddler Manika Batra on Thursday said it was a recognition to her hard work over the years.

The 23-year-old Manika recently scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman paddler to win an Asian Games medal when she paired up with veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal to bag the bronze in the mixed doubles competition.

“It’s a real pleasure to be selected for this year’s Arjuna Award. I am excited to receive the award,” Manika told IANS after being signed as the latest face of Herbalife Nutrition.

“This is a recognition of my hard work, and the medals which I won in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. This is the time to be happy and excited,” she added.

Manika has also proved that her Commonwealth Games (CWG) success, where she emerged as the country’s top performer with four medals — a gold each in women’s singles and women’s team event, silver in women’s doubles, and a bronze in mixed doubles — was not a fluke and clearly she is the next big thing in table tennis.

Despite grabbing eyeballs with her brilliant performances this season, Manika has an unfulfilled dream which she is striving hard to achieve.

“From here on, the main target is to improve on my world ranking and find myself in the top-30 or top-20. With a better world ranking, I will have better chances at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The dream is to be among the top-10 in the world. I have the National Ranking zonals and then the Pro Tours where the focus will be mainly on improving my world ranking,” said Manika, who is currently ranked World No.56.

When prodded on the level of competition in the CWG and the Asiad, and how eventually she managed to break the shackles at Jakarta, Manika explained: “The level of competition in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games is totally different.”

“In the CWG, the battle is mainly against the Singapore paddlers whereas in Asiad, all the table tennis powerhouses compete, which makes it really tough,” she added.

Rating her Asian Games medal as the “greatest achievement” till date, Manika was however candid enough to admit that she wasn’t at her fittest self during the Asian Games.

“Even during the Asian Games, I felt I lack on the fitness standards of the Chinese and other Asian paddlers. I have to work more on my reflexes and movements.

“I am currently focussing on my agility and fitness with my fitness coach Subodh More with an eye to match to the standards of the Chinese,” she added.

On being quizzed if her height is the secret of her being touted as the next big thing in the table tennis world, the 5′ 11” paddler said it works both ways for her.

“My height works both ways…it is advantageous as the taller players have a better reach and require less movement but at the same time there is a negative which is we are more prone to back and knee injuries. I suffered from back pain recently but have worked on that and now I’m back to full fitness,” she recounted.

(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])

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Asia Cup: Afghanistan thrash Bangladesh by 136 runs

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Afghanistan Cricket Team

Abu Dhabi, Sep 21 : A disciplined all-round effort saw Afghanistan thrashing Bangladesh by 136 runs in their last group match of the Asia Cup here on Thursday.

Chasing 256, Bangladesh were bundled out for 119.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan picked up two wickets each to hand Afghanistan a comfortable victory.

Chasing a decent target, Bangladesh never looked in the contention as they lost their wickets at regular intervals.

Shakib Al Hasan (32), Mahmudullah (27) and Mosaddek Hossain (26 not out) mainly contributed to the Bangladeshi score. No other batsman clicked and went back to the pavilion one after another, posting single digit individual scores.

Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain scored towards the end but the lack of support denied the run chase.

Earlier, Afghanistan rode on some brilliant batting by Rashid Khan (57 not out), Gulbadin Naib (42 not out) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (58) to post a decent score.

Besides the trio, opener Mohammad Shahzad (37) also played handsomely.

For Bangladesh, Shakib Al Hasan took four wickets while Abu Hider Rony scalped two wickets.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 255/7, (Hashmatullah Shahidi 58, Rashid Khan 57 not out; Shakib Al Hasan 4/42) against Bangladesh 119/10 (Shakib Al Hasan 32; Rashid Khan 2/13)

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Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur ruled out of Asia Cup

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Mumbai, Sep 20: Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur have been ruled out of the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 owing to injuries, the BCCI announced on Thursday.

BCCI’s senior selection committee has now replaced the trio by Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Siddharth Kaul, who will be joining the team in Dubai on Thursday.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya had suffered an acute lower back spasm during the game against Pakistan on Wednesday and is undergoing treatment and assessment by the BCCI medical team.

Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Axar Patel injured his left index finger while fielding against Pakistan. He was sent for scans and the results showed that he had a tendon tear.

On the other hand, right-arm pacer Shardul Thakur had experienced right hip and groin soreness after the match against Hong Kong.

The Rohit Sharma-led Indian side, who had thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets on Wednesday, will take on Bangladesh in their first Super four game on Friday.

IANS

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