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Indian hockey team gears up preparations for HWL Final

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New Delhi, Nov 4 : After stamping their supremacy in the continent by winning the prestigious Asia Cup 2017, the Indian men’s team will regroup at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Bengaluru for an 18-day national camp ahead of the all-important Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar, starting December 1.

The 35-member core group that includes the 18-member Asia Cup squad as well as players who were part of the India ‘A’ team that participated in the Australian Hockey League will be put to test starting November 5 in order to select the final team for the season finale in Odisha.

While there is no change in the core group which includes the likes of Manpreet Singh, S.V. Sunil, Sardar Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Harjeet Singh, Dipsan Tirkey, Akashdeep Singh, Varun Kumar, Armaan Qureshi, Affan Yousuf among others, goalkeepers Akash Chikte and Suraj Karkera will be joined by Vikas Dahiya and celebrated custodian P.R. Sreejesh, who is working on making a comeback after a long haul due to injury.

Dragflick specialist Rupinder Pal Singh, fullbacks Birender Lakra and Kothajit Singh too will be available for selection after injury lay-off while forward Mandeep Singh is back in the camp after being rested for the Asia Cup.

“It is not only the players making a come back after recovering from an injury who will have to prove their mettle but every single player will have to strive to make his position in the team for the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar 2017. The standards are high to be selected in the team and that’s good because it makes players better,” chief coach Sjoerd Marijne said in a statement.

Not reading too much into the Asia Cup triumph, Marijne was modest to admit that the team needs to improve a lot more to achieve the desired results at the December event.

“Together we have to become more consistent. We have a tendency of dropping our level too low in a match where the opponent ends up coming back into the game. If we make too many technical errors the level drops and that’s one of the things we have to improve and focus upon during this camp,” he said.

Emphasising on room for improvement, the Dutchman was also quick to draw positives from his team’s abilities on the pitch.

“The team brings a lot of energy into matches. Our speed and fitness are strong points and if we combine this in a good way with our technical skills then we can be quite lethal,” he stated.

National Campers:

Goalkeepers: Akash Chikte, P.R. Sreejesh, Vikas Dahiya, Suraj Karkera;

Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Pardeep Mor, Birendra Lakra, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Jasjit Singh Kular, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar;

Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Sumit, Satbir Singh, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Harjeet Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Manpreet (Junior), Simranjeet Singh;

Forwards: Ramandeep Singh, S.V. Sunil, Talwinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Gurjant Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay, Armaan Qureshi.

IANS

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Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah retain top spots in ODI rankings

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Dubai, Nov 13: India skipper Virat Kohli and pacer Jasprit Bumrah retained their respective top spots in the latest One-Day International (ODI) rankings released by the International Cricket Council (ICC) here on Tuesday.

Kohli’s deputy Rohit Sharma also remained static at the second spot in the batmen’s list. Kohli has 899 points while Rohit has 871.

In the bowlers’ chart, apart from the top ranked Bumrah who has 841 points, spinner Kuldeep Yadav held on to the third place while Yuzvendra Chahal jumped three places to the fifth spot.

Rashid Khan of Afghanistan with 353 points is the top-ranked all-rounder and in the team rankings, India with 121 points, remained second behind England (126 points).

Apart from the Indians, several foreign players also made their presence felt. Two brilliant innings against Pakistan have lifted New Zealand’s Ross Taylor to a career best No.3 in the list for ODI batsmen, according to an ICC statement.

The innings took Taylor past Joe Root and Babar Azam to No.3, only behind Kohli and Rohit.

More changes were there within the top 10 of batsmen following the completion of the series between Australia and South Africa and, Pakistan and New Zealand. Faf du Plessis moved up three spots to No.7 and both Kane Williamson and Quinton de Kock dropped two spots, but still staying in the top 10 – Williamson at No.9 and de Kock at No.10.

Just below them, moving up six spots to No.11, was Fakhar Zaman, the Pakistan opener who hit 1, 88 and 65 in the three ODIs against New Zealand. It’s a career-high position for him too.

Other gainers included David Miller, whose 51 and 139 in the second and third ODIs catapulted him 11 spots to 31st position, Marcus Stoinis, who scored 63 in the last game to move up three positions to No.49, and Shaun Marsh, who hit a fighting 106 in the last ODI and moved up 18 places to 62nd spot.

No such luck for Australia captain Aaron Finch, who had a poor series – 5, 41 and 11 – and dropped two places to No.17.

On to the bowlers, Kagiso Rabada is now in the top five, at No.4, after picking up seven wickets in the series in Australia.

Imran Tahir has dropped out of the top 10, but moving up are Shadab Khan (up 16 spots to No.24), Lockie Ferguson (up 31 spots to No.42) and Lungi Ngidi (up 19 spots to No.43).

Coming into the reckoning after picking up five wickets in two ODIs in Australia was Dwaine Pretorius, who jumped 20 places to No.55, jointly with Afghanistan’s Dawlat Zadran, while Shaheen Shah Afridi, the 18-year-old who picked up nine wickets in the series against New Zealand, gained a remarkable 66 spots to get to No.118, just outside the top 100.

Among the all-rounders, Mohammad Hafeez, who made big gains in the Twenty20 International charts too, swapped positions with New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner, getting to No.4.

IANS

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Real Madrid beat Celta 4-2

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Vigo (Spain), Nov 12: Real Madrid cruised to a 4-2 road victory against a Celta Vigo that couldn’t keep from committing defensive errors, the capital squad’s fourth win so far in the still-dawning “Santiago Solari era”.

The two teams rocked right from the start at Balaidos stadium on Sunday, with Real’s Benzema firing a pair of shots and Celta answering back with a cross from Boufal – and all this in the first five minutes, reports Efe news.

But then Real was able set the rhythm with good ball control and Celta backed off. Thus the capital squad had only a few reversals in the first half – the key one being Casemiro’s ankle injury in the 10th minute.

Midway through the first half, in the 23rd minute, Benzema took a great pass from Modric and moved in against Sergio alone after a simple fake got him by Cabral and Roncaglia, getting Real on the board.

The Madrid team kept up the momentum against their rivals, mounting easy attacks along the flanks, albeit being unable to sink another shot until the 53rd minute, when it was Benzema again on another great individual effort taking advantage of a defensive error to fire one towards the net that hit the post and rebounded off the body of Celta’s Cabral into his own net for the 2-0.

The home squad finally managed to get on the board in the 61st minute when team captain Hugo Mallo found the twine after a long pass by Brais.

In the 82nd minute, Sergio Ramos scored for Real Madrid on a penalty kick. Ceballos scored again for the capital boys with a powerful blast from outside the area in the 90th minute and Brais Mendez managed to notch a somewhat-face-saving tally for the home team in stoppage time.

Cabral was expelled in the 87th minute when he received his second yellow card.

IANS

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3rd T20I: India edge past West Indies in last ball thriller

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Chennai, Nov 11 : A brilliant batting display from Shikhar Dhawan (92) and Rishabh Pant (58) helped India edge past West Indies by six wickets in a last ball thriller in the final match of the Twenty20 International series here on Sunday.

With this win, India completed a whitewash in the three-match series.

After two quick wickets, Dhawan and Pant batted well and put India on the brink of victory but Pant’s wicket in the penultimate over changed the scenario of the match and the game went to the last over.

Needing five runs in seven balls, Dhawan and Manish Pandey scored four runs in first three balls but then a dot ball and Dhawan’s wicket made the match interesting which could have been finished much earlier.

Needing one run in one ball, Manish, who seemed out of sorts in the middle, somehow managed to steal a run to hand India a victory.

Chasing a challenging score of 182, India started on a bad note, losing opener Rohit Sharma (4) in the third over.

New batsman Lokesh Rahul (17) then came in the middle and displayed some brilliant shots but soon he was also dismissed by Oshane Thomas in the sixth over.

With the scoreboard reading 45/2, Dhawan (92) and Pant (58) took the charge and hammered the Windies’ bowlers all around the park to forge a 130-run partnership. In the process, the duo completed their respective half centuries.

But just when it seemed India will finish off the proceedings in style, Pant was dismissed in the 19th over.

New batsman Pandey then struggled at the crease but at the end, India managed to steal the game in the last ball.

Earlier, a good batting show helped West Indies post a challenging total of 181/3.

The visitors applied themselves perfectly and made sure they did not loose wickets till the end which saw middle-order batsmen Darren Bravo (43 not out) and Nicholas Pooran (53 not out) taking the charge towards the end, helping their team to post a decent score.

Opting to bat, openers Shai Hope (24) and Shimron Hetmyer (26) started the proceedings on a good note, forging a 51-run partnership in six overs.

But while trying to accelerate the score, Hope was dismissed by Yuzvendra Chahal in the seventh over. After adding 11 more runs to the total with Bravo, Hetmyer was also sent packing by Chahal.

Despite two quick wickets, Bravo kept on playing sensibly with Denesh Ramdin (15). Just when things seemed good in the middle, Ramdin played a poor shot and was clean bowled by Washington Sundar in the 13th over when the scoreboard was reading 94/3.

New batsman Pooran then joined Bravo in the middle and started punishing the bad balls. The duo forged a crucial unbeaten 87-run partnership for the fourth wicket and helped West Indies finish their innings in style.

Pooran played 25 balls and slammed four boundaries and as many sixes.

For India, Chahal took two wickets while Sundar scalped one.

Brief scores: West Indies 181/3 (Darren Bravo 43 not out, Nicholas Pooran 53 not out; Yuzvendra Chahal 2/28) against India 182/4 (Shikhar Dhawan 92, Rishabh Pant 58; Keemo Paul 2/32)

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