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1st Test: India hold edge in Kiwi star Taylor’s 100th Test



Wellington, Feb 20 : India started their New Zealand tour on a note which they could have only dreamt off. They whitewashed the Black Caps in the five-match T20I series, thus boosting their confidence ahead of the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played later in the year in Australia. But the hosts made a remarkable comeback in the ODIs, winning the three-match series 3-0. And now, it is time for the Test matches.

As the focus shifts to the longest format, one must remember that India and New Zealand have had contrasting fortunes in the format in recent times. While India will look to continue their unbeaten run in the World Test Championship when they take on the Kiwis in the first Test of the two-match series beginning Friday at the Basin Reserve, the Kiwis were thrashed by Australia in December-January.

Ever since the Sydney Test in January 2019, India have been unbeaten winning all their seven matches in the ongoing World Test Championship. They have defeated West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh and are currently placed at the top of the table with 360 points.

The Kiwis must tighten their game if they wish to return strongly after the loss to their trans-Tasman rivals as India have very few weaknesses when it comes to Test cricket. Their batting line-up boast of having the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

The only weak link in India’s batting line-up is their opening slot. Rohit Sharma’s absence presents an opportunity for one of Shubman Gill or Prithvi Shaw to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top, with Shaw probably being the front-runner, having outscored Gill in Hamilton.

According to Rahane, India need to put in at least 320 on the board in their first innings in order to provide their bowlers with a chance to bowl out the opposition.

“When you bat first, your mindset is always positive, not saying that it’s not when you bowl first. If you get 320 to 330 outside India in first innings, it’s a very good total,” he said.

When it comes to the pace battery, India seem to have an upper hand with Ishant Sharma having cleared the fitness test and raring to join a pace attack that also features Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini.

New Zealand, on the other hand, will miss the services of Neil Wagner in the series opener. However, the return of Trent Boult and the promise shown by young Kyle Jamieson in the ODI series still leave the fast-bowling department well-covered.

Thus, quite an exciting battle can be expected between the two teams in what would be historic occasion at the Basin Reserve as Ross Taylor would become the first cricketer to play 100 games in each of the three formats.

Taylor stands out as the biggest positive for New Zealand and with skipper Kane Williamson’s brilliant record at the Basin Reserve (1,048 runs at 65.50, with a highest of 242*), the hosts would definitely give themselves the upper hand.

“I think in New Zealand, it’s all about cricket discipline and what the team brings on to the field. They are intense and very, very fit guys, and they can keep going all day and test your patience, really skilled with what they do as both bowlers and batsmen, and obviously brilliant fielders as well,” Kohli had said and probably that’s what the Indian team needs to do in their road to seal a spot in the Lord’s final slated to be played next year.

Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithivi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R. Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Navdeep Saini, Shubhman Gill

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Tony Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, B.J. Watling (keeper), Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell


Cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla’s bail plea dismissed




New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed the bail application moved by cricket bookie Sanjeev Chawla, who was recently extradited to India for his alleged involvement in match-fixing racket.

Metropolitan Magistrate Navneet Budhiraja dismissed the application after hearing the arguments put forth by both the defence and the prosecution.

Chawla is one of the main accused in the match-fixing scandal that also involved former South Africa captain late Hansie Cronje. He had allegedly conspired with the latter to fix matches during South Africa’s tour to India in 2000.

Chawala, who was extradited to India from the UK in February, sought bail on the grounds that there is a threat of contracting coronavirus inside the “unhygienic” Tihar Jail.

“The conditions in the jail are not hygienic and there is a threat of coronavirus there and therefore, in view of the eminent threat of epidemic coronavirus in the jail as well, the applicant prays that he be released on bail,” the bail application stated.

He also claimed to have received life threats from various persons and said that the jail inmates made extortion demands from him.

The bookie further added that he has never been involved in any criminal case and was falsely implicated in the matter on vague allegations.

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Diamond League suspends 3 more track meets due to COVID-19




coronavirus cases

Stockholm, March 28 The Diamond League has postponed three of its athletic meetings scheduled in May in the wake of ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Following the postponement of early-season events in Qatar and China last week, the series has decided to also suspend meetings in Stockholm (scheduled for May 24), Naples/Rome (May 28) and Rabat (May 31).

“The decision was made in close consultation with all the relevant parties. The dynamic global spread of the COVID-19 disease, the travel restrictions expected to be in force for some time and above all concerns over athlete safety have made it impossible to stage the competitions as planned,” the Diamond League said in a statement.

The first six events of the year have been called off and only the Shanghai meet has been given a new date.

The Diamond League also said that the “meeting organizers, the Wanda Diamond League and World Athletics remain committed to delivering a structured extensive season in 2020.”

The entire sporting calendar has come to a grinding halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far claimed more than 27,000 lives across the world.

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Turkish boxers test positive after Tokyo qualifier, IOC draws flak

The Boxing Road to Tokyo competition at the Copper Box was cancelled after three days because of the pandemic.





Istanbul, March 26: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been labelled “irresponsible” after the Turkish Boxing Federation revealed two fighters and a coach who took part in a Tokyo 2020 qualifying event in London earlier this month had since tested positive for COVID-19.

Turkish Boxing Federation president Eyup Gozgec told BBC Sport that organisers failed to take the outbreak seriously enough and “didn’t care”.

He added: “I just want to know, when the whole world was on high alert, why they hosted this event?

“We didn’t see any hygienic standards there. There were no preventative measures.”

The Boxing Road to Tokyo competition at the Copper Box was cancelled after three days because of the pandemic.

In a letter sent to the board members of the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC), and accessed by the BBC, Gozgec wrote: “Two of our athletes (and a coach) have tested positive for (Covid-19) after returning to Turkey from London. All of them are in treatment now and thankfully are in good condition.

“This is the disastrous result of the irresponsibility of the IOC Boxing Task Force.”

Gozgec added that he now plans to write to all European boxing associations asking if any of their teams at the event have since tested positive.

“The organisers were irresponsible, and I think they didn’t realise the severity of the issue so they just didn’t care,” he said.

“They just didn’t take this outbreak seriously and they didn’t care about it. They did no tests for us. They just told us to go. They dropped us at the airport and that was it.”

He added: “They knew they were going to have to cancel — why go with it? The health of our athletes and staff is our priority.”

Organisers said they had taken all precautions and that no teams had reported symptoms at the event.

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