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Kiwis looking to keep calm ahead of mega final



Kane Williamson New Zealand

London, July 13 (IANS) The euphoria around the final of the World Cup cannot be missed, but for New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, it is about keeping the basics right and playing the match against England at Lords on Sunday as just another game in the tournament.

“Yes, any game that you play in, you deal with different distractions and, naturally, in a World Cup final it brings other distractions. There’s a lot more people here today and perhaps that may be one.

“There are a whole bunch of other things where all different thoughts can go through your mind, but certainly where Gary (Stead) and myself and all the group come from, it’s about keeping your feet on the ground and looking to play the sort of cricket you want to play to give yourself the best chance regardless of whether it’s a semifinal, a round-robin game or, fortunately enough now, a final.

“At the end of the day, it is still a cricket match, where both teams are looking to go out and implement their plans as best they can to give themselves the best chance,” Williamson said on the eve of the final.

England’s opening partnerships between Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have been a pain for the opposition teams in the World Cup and Williamson noted that the team is pretty much aware of the same.

“Yeah, those two have been fantastic throughout this whole competition and prior to that as well. And I think we have mentioned before, there are a number of other parts to perhaps playing in a World Cup final. But there is a huge amount of respect for the match-winners that they have within their side, obviously the top of the order and throughout.

“But the focus for us is very much about the cricket that we want to play and the performance we want to put on the board and if we do that, we have seen throughout this competition that anybody can beat anybody,” he pointed out.

New Zealand had lost in the final against Australia in the 2015 World Cup. When asked if anything had changed personally since then, Williamson said: “Four years ago, how did I feel? Yeah, I don’t know, it’s just very different. We have a very different group, a slightly different vibe and ethos and how we operate. At the same time, there’s real commitment which is a really positive thing and it has held us in good stead up to this point. So the focus for us is on the cricket that we want to play and we want to be proud of the performance that we put on the board.”

But Williamson clearly doesn’t wish to be caught up by emotions and the effect results have on individuals. “I try not to get too caught up in the results and hopefully not too emotional about just the outcome and maybe look at it with a bit more reason and where we perhaps could have improved and where some things that were out of our control had an impact on the game and then try and move on from that as quickly as possible.

“So there’s always more to the picture than just the end point and that is the focus for us as a team. It’s actually putting our efforts into the moment and how we want to operate as a group. It may well be very different to other sides and how they operate, which is fine, but we trust in it.

“It is important that we look forward to tomorrow and treat the final with huge amount of respect, because it’s not very often that you get the opportunity to be in a World Cup final. We are very much focussed on what we need to try and achieve,” Williamson explained.

The wicket wears a green look, but Williamson is not perturbed. “Perhaps encouraging to seam bowlers on both sides. But we don’t know what the wicket has in store, there’s still a bit of time between now and the start of play and I haven’t had a close look at the wicket just yet, because we have just arrived.

“Usually, it’s a fairly fair surface. The guys need to adapt quickly to it, like any other surface that we have seen in the World Cup,” he said.

Adapting has been the key with the teams in this event, but the Kiwis have done it really well. In fact, Williamson is very proud of the way his boys have time and again risen to the occasion.

“Yeah, it is a challenge. Most teams having played here before expected scores to be a lot higher than what we have seen, but the reality is that they have been quite tough surfaces and there have been surfaces that have aged throughout. So trying to make those adjustments is really important.

“In the last game, I think both the sides looked at the surface and thought it was a really good one, and thought perhaps 300 and something was what was going to be at play, but after 15 overs or so, they must have been thinking ‘this is really quite difficult and 300 looks like a long, long way away’. So if we are able to achieve something a little bit more realistic on that surface, it gives you every chance to win matches.

“And we have done it on a number of occasions, but we will have to be good at doing that tomorrow. Surfaces at times have been hard to read, especially with the pre-emptive ideas with which most teams come into the World Cup. So, yeah, tomorrow is a new challenge for us and we will need to make those adjustments quickly,” he signed off.


Ranji Trophy: Manoj Tiwary shines with maiden triple ton



Manoj Tiwary

New Delhi, Jan 20 : Manoj Tiwary’s scintillating knock of 303 guided Bengal to post 635/7 against Hyderabad before reducing the visitors to 83/5 in a Round 6 Ranji Trophy tie at the Bengal Cricket Academy Ground here on Monday.

Apart from Tiwary, Shreevats Goswami chipped in with 95 runs before the hosts rode Akash Deep’s 3/46 to put Hyderabad on the back foot.

Meanwhile, after wrapping up Delhi for 163 runs, Vidarbha were 35 for no loss at the end of the day.

On the other side, ace India spinner Ravichnadran Ashwin picked up three wickets as Tamil Nadu came up with a commanding performance to beat Railways by an innings and 64 runs.

Resuming at 236/4, Tamil Nadu suffered an early jolt but managed to finish with a massive 154-run first innings lead. The Railway batsmen were shot out in 36.4 overs as R Sai Kishore (5/16) and Ashwin (3/36) dismantled their batting.

Jlaj Saxena picked up three wickets on the second day as Kerala’s bowlers put up an impressive show to bundle out Rajasthan for 268 in 32 overs on the second day. However Shubham Sharma picked up six wickets for Rajasthan as they too wrapped up their opposition for 82 runs, to win by an innings and 96 runs.

Upendra Yadav slammed an unbeaten 203 as UP declared at 625/8 against Mumbai. Mumbai were then reduced to 2/20 with Shashank Attarde (9) and Jay Bista (3) dismissed by Ankit Rajpoot.

Resuming at 295/8, Sheldon Jackson with Jaydev Unadkat took Saurashtra to 344. Jackson added 43 runs from his end before being the last man to be dismissed.

Madhya Pradesh batters then struggled and lost wickets at regular intervals before Yash Dubey (50 not out) and Venkatesh Iyer (50 not out) repaired the damage to help their side reach 183/5 at the close of play.

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Bengaluru ODI: Smith ton takes Australia to 286/9 vs India




India Vs Australia
File Photo

Bengaluru, Steve Smith slammed a magnificent century as Australia put up 286/9 in 50 overs against India in the third and series-deciding final one day international here on Sunday.

Former captain Smith brought up his ninth 100 in 117 balls, third against India and got out on 131 from 132 deliveries as he tried to change gears and was caught at deep midwicket by Shyreyas Iyer off Mohammed Shami who was India’s best bowler.

Smith had hit 14 fours and a six in his innings. Despite restricting Australia to a score below 300 on what is generally a batsman-friendly track in Bengaluru, India had given away as many as 27 extras.

Shami (4/63) came back for his second spell in the end and picked up four wickets to shave off Australia’s tail and rein in on their scoring to not allow them to get to 300. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant too although he went wicketless, giving away just 38 runs in 10 overs.

Besides Smith, fast-rising Marnus Labuschagne notched up his maiden ODI fifty as he scored 54 from 64 balls (5×4).

Smith and Labuschagne shared a 127-run stand for the third wicket which formed the visitors’ bedrock after electing to bat first.

India were dealt a blow early on as senior opener Shikhar Dhawan had to go for an x-ray with a call on whether he will take any further part to be taken once he is assessed.

Dhawan was taken off the field after he hurt his left shoulder in the series-deciding tie after he dived to save an Aaron Finch shot in the cover region before hurting his left shoulder in the fifth over.

India made early inroads as Mohammed Shami found David Warner’s outside edge to wicketkeeper K.L. Rahul who was played ahead of fit-again Rishabh Pant. Warner was gone for just three with his captain Finch (19) following suit soon, albeit in frustrating manner as he was run out due to indecision on Smith’s part while taking a single in the 9th over.

A livid Finch stormed out of the ground with the visitors in a spot of bother at 46/2. But as has been the case so often of late in Test cricket, Smith and Labuschagne joined hands to bring the team on track.

Similar in their playing style, the pair used square of the wicket a lot to score runs and punished the bad ball although Labuschagne was lucky not to get run out after Kuldeep Yadav failed to collect a Yuzvendra Chahal throw from the deep.

Smith got to 53 in 63 balls as he looked as consistent as ever with Labuschagne also notching up his maiden half century in 50-over cricket as he got to 53 in 60 deliveries.

It took a breathtaking catch from Indian captain Virat Kohli to break the stand as Labuschagne looked to accelerate in the 32nd over. The 25-year old played an inside out drive off Ravindra Jadeja which Kohli plucked inches off the grass diving low to his right.

Mitchell Starc was sent to bat at No.5 in a bid to up the ante and score briskly, but the experiment failed as Jadeja had him caught at deep mid-wicket fence by substitute Chahal to complete a two-wicket maiden 32nd over.

Alex Carey (35) and Smith associated for a quickfire 58-run partnership before Kuldeep got a timely breakthrough as Carey holed out to Shreyas Iyer at deep cover.

Bumrah followed it up with a near-perfect 43rd over, just conceding one run off the final delivery as Ashton Turner huffed and puffed at the crease.

Smith brought up his hundred by running a Navdeep Saini delivery down to third man but his celebration said it all as the Aussies fell behind in their run-scoring with Turner struggling to eventually get out caught behind in the same over.

Shami then removed Smith, Pat Cummins (0) and Adam Zampa (1) with toe-crushing yorkers as India ended on a high. Ashton Agar was not out on 11.

Australia made one change to the side, bringing in Josh Hazlewood for Kane Richardson while India named the same team.

Brief scores: Australia 286/9 in 50 overs (Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 54; Mohammed Shami 4/63) vs India.

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Tata Steel Chess: Anand draws with Jorden van Foreest

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.




Viswanathan Anand

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands), Jan 18 : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was on Saturday held to a draw by Dutch Jorden Van Foreest in the sixth round of Tata Steel Masters.

Veteran Anand faced the Four Knights opening in the sixth round as black and unleashed an attack in the centre early by sacrificing two pawns.

Anand tried to make inroads as White’s king was stuck around the centre for a long time and
it was a cautious move by both players especially after white lost back one pawn.

The draw was agreed upon once Anand picked the second pawn.

Anand remained in joint sixth spot after three points from six games.

Anand needs a powerful finish to be in with a chance of finishing on the podium with seven rounds still remaining.

Meanwhile, World champion Magnus Carlsen’s got a sixth draw on the trot as his search for an elusive win continued.

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.

Elsewhere, Anish Giri bounced back from his previous round loss to defeat Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus while Daniil Dubov thrashed his Russian compatriot Vladislav Artemiev.

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