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KL Rahul moves to career-high third position in T20I rankings

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Dubai, July 9: Top-order batsman Lokesh Rahul’s scores of 70, 101 not out, six and 19 have made him India’s highest-ranked batsman in Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) as he moved up nine places to a career-high third position in the ICC rankings.

Opener Rohit Sharma in 11th rank (up by two places) and captain Virat Kohli in 12th rank (down by four places) are the next highest-ranked India batsmen.

Meanwhile, Australia opener Aaron Finch became the first player in the history of T20Is to break the 900-point mark as he moved up three places to finish the tri-series in Harare against Pakistan and Zimbabwe as the top-ranked batsman in the shortest format of the game.

Finch, who captained Australia to the final, had touched the 900-point mark following his record-breaking knock of 172 (76b, 10×6, 16×4) against Zimbabwe in Harare on July 3.

The 31-year-old from Victoria eventually finished the T20Is (also comprising a one-off against England at Edgbaston) in number-one position on 891 points.

Finch had started the T20Is in fourth position on 763 points and a tour aggregate of 391 runs not only helped him leapfrog Babar Azam, Colin Munro and Glen Maxwell, but also earned him 128 points.

In the latest player rankings, which also takes into account India’s 2-0 and 2-1 series win against Ireland and England, respectively, Finch leads Pakistan’s left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman by 45 points.

Like Finch, Fakhar was in stellar form in Harare, when he totaled 278 runs in the series, including a match-winning 91 against Australia after Pakistan had slumped to two for two after being set a victory target of 184.

Fakhar’s string of good scores, that also included knocks of 61, six, 47 and 73, have helped him vault 44 places to claim second position. He has now become Pakistan’s highest-ranked batsman after Babar Azam slipped from first to fifth due to his absence because of an injury.

Australia’s D’Arcy Short, Jason Roy of England and Solomon Mire have also achieved career-best rankings following the latest update.

Short has broken into the top-10 for the first time in his career in 10th position, moving up 18 places. Roy has gained 19 places and is now in 15th spot, while Mire has rocketed 202 places to claim 25th position – seven places behind Hamilton Masakadza.

In the bowling table, Rashid Khan of Afghanistan and Shadab Khan of Pakistan have retained the top two positions, but there have been a number of movements down the order with Australia’s Andrew Tye and Billy Stanlake, and England’s trio of Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett and David Willey achieving career-high rankings.

Tye has risen 41 places to seventh in the latest rankings after taking 12 wickets in Harare, Rashid has claimed ninth position after moving up four places, Plunkett has gained 14 places and is now in 11th spot, Willey has risen 12 places to 15th and Stanlake’s seven wickets have given him a leap of 60 places that has put him in 19th position.

Other bowlers to head in the right direction include Mohammad Amir (12th, up by six places), Hardik Pandya (29th, up by five places), Mohammad Nawaz (32nd, up by nine places), Faheem Ashraf (33rd, up by 21 places), Kuldeep Yadav (34th, up by 41 places) and Ashton Agar (45th, up by 39 places).

There is no change in the top three all-rounders, with Maxwell leading the field. Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi is second, while Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh is third.

Meanwhile, in the ICC T20I Team Rankings, Pakistan have retained the top position with their tri-series victory while India have overtaken Australia to take second place after clinching their three-match series against England 2-1.

The top three sides are now separated by 10 points, while three points separate fourth-ranked England and seventh-ranked West Indies.

Team rankings remain crucial as Australia plus the next nine highest-ranked sides will qualify directly for the 16-team ICC Men’s World T20 2020 in Australia.

The remaining six sides will qualify from the 14-team ICC Men’s World T20 Qualifier 2019, which will be participated in by the six sides from the ICC World T20 2016, which are not in the Top 10 of the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings as on 31 December 2018, alongside the eight qualifiers from the regional finals.

IANS

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Pant gets maiden call; Shami back for first 3 England Tests

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New Delhi, July 18: Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday picked as the second choice stumper as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recalled pacer Mohammed Shami in the 18-member squad for the first three Tests of the five-match rubber against England.

Pant was rewarded with the Test call-up following a successful run with the willow in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shami, who was dropped from the lone Test match against Afghanistan for failing a fitness test, made his way back to the team after clearing the mandatory yo-yo test. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair has also been re-called to the squad while Rohit Sharma failed to make it.

Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is recuperating from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad, but will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness, a BCCI statement confirmed.

Meanwhile, fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has his back injury after featuring in the third One-day International (ODI) against England on Tuesday and was left out of the first three Tests.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the third ODI against England. His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” the board said.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

IANS

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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wins gold at Sotteville Athletics Meet

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New Delhi, July 18: India’s star javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the Sotteville Athletics Meet in France on Tuesday.

Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.

Neeraj is India’s top javelin thrower and he proved his mettle once again on the international stage when he won the gold medal with a massive margin.

While Neeraj Chopra threw a distance of 85.17 m, the second best was Adrian Mardare of Moldova who threw a distance of 81.48 m.

The bronze medal went to Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius, whose best throw of the night was 79.31m.

The winning distance from Chopra was, however, less than what he achieved to win a historic Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold in Australia earlier this year. He had improved on his season’s best with an effort of 86.47m in Gold Coast to become the country’s first javelin-thrower to win a CWG gold.

Last week, he finished fifth at the Rabat Diamond League with a best throw of 83.32m.

So, the victory at the Sotteville Athletics Meet augurs well for his Asian Games preparation which will be held next month in Indonesia.

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England outclass India by 8 wickets, clinch ODI series

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Leeds, July 18: England put up a strong all-around show to thump an underwhelming India by eight wickets in the series-deciding third and final One-day International (ODI) at the Headingley cricket ground here on Tuesday.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid’s triple strikes in the middle overs helped England restrict India for a below par 256/8, despite captain Virat Kohli playing a 71-run knock.

Then India’s bowlers could not respond to brilliant batting from Joe Root (100 not out) and Eoin Morgan (88 not out), who shared an 186-run stand for the third wicket as the hosts cantered to a big win, with 5.3 overs to spare.

It was England’s second consecutive win as they bounced back strongly after the first ODI loss in Nottingham before they produced a handsome win at the Lord’s.

For India, it was the second successive occassion in which their bowling and batting were outclassed. After conceding 322 runs before being bowled out for 236 in the second ODI, India made as many as three changes, dropping pacers Umesh Yadav, Siddharth Kaul and batsman Lokesh Rahul in favour of pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur and batsman Dinesh Karthik. However, despite these changes, the result did not change.

Put in to bat, India rode on captain Kohli’s 71, combined with his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s laborious 66-ball 42 and a valuable 44 from opener Shikhar Dhawan even as Rashid applied the brakes to return figures of 3/49 off his 10 overs.

India were in trouble early on, losing in-form opener Rohit Sharma for a sluggish 18-ball 2, before Dhawan and Kohli forged a 71-run second wicket stand to inject life back into the innings.

With the right-left duo of Kohli and Dhawan going all guns blazing, all-rounder Ben Stokes brought the hosts back into the game with the run-out of Dhawan, who by then had faced 49 balls and struck seven fours.

The southpaw’s dismissal brought in Dinesh Karthik for his first game of the tour. Karthik started off well with a boundary before picking two more on his way to a quickfire 22-ball 21 but an inside edge off a tossed up delivery from Rashid ended his stay and also the 41-run third wicket stand.

Despite losing his partners at the other end, Kohli kept his cool to raise his 48th ODI half-century with a boundary off pacer Liam Plunkett and thereafter began switching gears even as Suresh Raina (1) joined him in the middle.

However, Rashid and his fellow spinner Moeen Ali managed to keep the run flow in check, which prompted both the Indian batsmen to take risks and in the process the leggie bamboozled the Indian skipper with a ripper which broke through his defences before Raina too departed off the same over.

With India in deep trouble, Dhoni once again came to the rescue with a hard working innings, and together with all-rounder Hardik Pandya (21 off 21 balls), raised a 36-run stand for the sixth wicket before adding another 27 runs with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (21 off 35) to stretch the total to some sort of respectability.

Towards the end, pacer Shardul Thakul produced a brilliant cameo of 13-ball unbeaten 22, that saw him launch Stokes for two sixes in the penultimate over as India’s total crossed the 250-run mark.

For England, besides Rashid’s three wickets, pacer David Willey also returned figures of 3/40 while fellow quick Mark Wood took one wicket.

Chasing a relatively easy target in modern-day one-day cricket, England got off to a flier, thanks to Jonny Bairstow’s quickfire 30 off 13 deliveries.

However, pacer Thakur brought relief for India as Bairstow was caught by Raina.

Root then joined hands with James Vince (30), who was making hi first ODI appearance in two years. The partnership was running smoothly for 30 runs until the latter ran for a second but was caught short by a throw from Pandya from midwicket and Dhoni effected a run out.

Root, who roared back to form in the previous ODI with an 113, was joined in the middle by his captain Moragan, who also returned to form with a 53 at Lord’s.

Luck was also on England’s side as right-hander Root was dropped by Dhoni, who dived to his left to pick an edge off a wide delivery from Shardul in the 30th over. Root was batting on 59 then.

Root completed his 13th ODI century with a four towards midwicket off Hardik as it not only gave him the three-figure mark but also sealed England’s win.

Brief Scores: India: 256/8 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 71, Shikhar Dhawan 44, M.S.Dhoni 42; David Willey 3/40, Adil Rashid 3/49) vs England: (Joe Root 100 not out, Eoin Morgan 88 not out; Shardul Thakur 1/51).

IANS

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