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India look to extend dominance in second Test

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Nagpur, Nov 23: After narrowly missing out on a win in the opening Test at the Eden Gardens, a confident India will be aiming to extend their dominance over Sri Lanka when the two sides face off in the second Test here from Friday.

The hosts came agonisingly close to going 1-0 up in the three-match rubber but bad light ruined their chances to do so on the final day of the rain-marred first Test in Kolkata.

Inspired by the performance of the fast bowlers in the first Test and keeping in mind the upcoming tour of South Africa early next year, the hosts are once again set to test the Sri Lankans on a green track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium in Jamtha.

The Indian pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami shared all the 17 Sri Lankan wickets which fell during the first Test. But with Bhuvneshwar set to tie the knot, he was released from the squad for the remainder of the series.

Pacer Ishant Sharma, a veteran of 77 Tests, looks set to join the pace battery for the series.

The other change in the Indian XI will be at the top of the order with opener Murali Vijay joining Lokesh Rahul after Shikhar Dhawan asked for a break due to personal reasons.

Going into the second game, India will be brimming with confidence with the form of skipper Virat Kohli, whose fighting 50th international hundred in trying conditions at the Eden almost sealed the deal in the hosts’ favour.

Besides Kohli, the middle order comprising Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and stumper Wriddhiman Saha also looked in good stead during the first match.

But it will be interesting to see if India persist with two spinners — especially Ravindra Jadeja, who made very little contribution with the ball and had a lukewarm match as a batsman.

Knowing Kohli’s fondness for wrist spinners, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav could come in as a replacement while rookie Vijay Shankar could also be handed his maiden Test cap.

With Hardik Pandya missing from the set-up, Shankar has a chance of fitting into the playing XI, bringing the required stability that comes with a No.6 batsman.

On the other hand, the tourists will need to revisit their strategy after conceding the advantage to the hosts, particularly after dominating for the better part of the first four days.

While they have limited options to choose from in the batting department, it would be interesting to see if the islanders persist with pacer Lahiru Gamage, who leaked 156 runs in two innings in seamer-friendly conditions.

In case, they continue to go with a three-pronged pace attack, left-arm seamer Vishwa Fernando could be an option to replace Gamage.

However, chinaman Lakshan Sandakhan could provide that X-factor if the tourists plan for an added option in the slow bowling department along side veteran Rangana Herath.

Squads:
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh, Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav and Rohit Sharma.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Dhananjaya de Silva, Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka, Viswa Fernando, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan Perera and Roshen Silva.

IANS

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Our style of play is non-negotiable: Mumbai City boss Lobera

It also means that Jahouh will now miss Mumbai’s next match against the reigning ISL Shield winners FC Goa.

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Sergio Lobera

Panaji: After Sergio Lobera’s reign at Mumbai City got off on the wrong foot on Saturday with a 1-0 loss to NorthEast United, the Spaniard said that his attack oriented possession-based game was non-negotiable.

“Our style of play is non-negotiable. I used some players in different positions from what they are used, for example Adam in right wing but I believe he has the experience to adjust. We have to improve a lot of course,” Lobera told media after the match.

Mumbai went in with two strikers up front with Adam Le Fondre playing as a make shift right winger along with Bartholomew Ogbeche. The Englishman created some good chances in the first half but a red card to midfield mainstay Ahmed Jahouh and Rowllin Borges conceding a penalty in the second meant at Mumbai ended up losing the match 1-0.

It also means that Jahouh will now miss Mumbai’s next match against the reigning ISL Shield winners FC Goa.

“Today (the red card) was a big problem for us. It changed the game, we were playing with 10 men and missing a very important player. But for the next game, I have 28 players, I am very happy with my squad. Just one player is not an excuse for losing the next game,” said Lobera.

“We need to improve, we had a short pre-season and have a short time between games. But it is my job to improve the level of the team and I am very positive that it is possible for the next game.”

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ATP Finals: Thiem beats Djokovic to reach 2nd successive final

He will now face either Daniil Medvedev or Nadal in the final which is scheduled to be played on Sunday.

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Dominic Thiem

London: Dominic Thiem outlasted world no.1 Novak Djokovic in a gripping last-four clash to reach his second successive final at the ATP Finals in the O2 Arena in London. Thiem, ranked third behind Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, won the match 7-5, 6-7(10), 7-6(5).

Thiem broke serve at 5-5 in the first set and sealed it with an ace. Djokovic, however, grinded his way to victory in the second set, denying Thiem the win despite the Austrian getting four chances to seal the game.

The third game was also pushed to a tiebreaker, which was started by Thiem but he went on to lose the next three points. He however roared back to win the next six points and while Djokovic saved a fifth match point, Thiem got the job done at the next opportunity.

He will now face either Daniil Medvedev or Nadal in the final which is scheduled to be played on Sunday.

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Even our reserves are quick, you don’t see this kind of attack: Shami

The biggest advantage is that I can now prepare for the upcoming series without any pressure. There is no burden on me. I am very comfortable at the moment.

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mohammed-shami

New Delhi, Nov 21: The depth in the fast bowling department and the camaraderie that the players share between them are among the biggest reasons why India’s pace battery is rated as one of the best in the world, according to leading pacer Mohammed Shami.

Shami and Jasprit Bumrah are considered the core of a plethora of fast bowlers who have been integral to India’s success in Test cricket in recent years.

“Our fast bowling group can bowl at 140 kmph plus and you need that kind of pace in Australia,” Shami said in an interview on the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) official website.

“Even our reserves are quick, you don’t get to see that kind of an attack. We thrive on challenges. We have the experience. We have variety in our spin bowling attack too. We can bowl fast but we are all different, our skills are different. India have quality batsmen and we bowl at them in the nets. We don’t look at names, we focus on our skills. You can be a world-class batsman, but one good ball will still get you out,” Shami said.

India will be banking on Shami and Co. during their upcoming tour of Australia. The 30-year-old pacer comes into the series after a successfull Indian Premier League in which he took 20 wickets in 14 matches.

“My performances for Kings XI Punjab in IPL has given me a lot of confidence and put me in the right zone. The biggest advantage is that I can now prepare for the upcoming series without any pressure. There is no burden on me. I am very comfortable at the moment. I had worked hard on my bowling and my fitness in the lockdown. I knew that IPL would take place sooner or later and I was preparing myself for it,” he said.

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