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Need more practice under lights to play Day Night Tests regularly: Pujara

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Cheteshwar Pujara

Kolkata, Nov 23 : Ace batsman Cheteshwar Pujara feels that if India are to play more pink ball Tests, they need to practice more under lights.

After Day 2 of the first Day-Night Test in the country at the Eden Gardens here, India stand on the brink of a series sweep as they lead Bangladesh by 89 runs with the visitors having just four wickets in hand in the second inning.

India declared on 347/9 in reply to Bangladesh’s paltry 106. In the second inning, the tourists were 152/6 at stumps on the second day.

India were not ready to play Test cricket under lights but after Sourav Ganguly became the BCCI President, Virat Kohli and Co. agreed to play the second match in the two-Test series against Bangladesh under lights with the pink ball.

“It is a decision for the BCCI to make. But going forward, if we are going to play more pink ball games, we will have to practice more under lights and start getting used to it. It is not my call, so I can’t say much,” Pujara said at the end of the day’s play when asked about India playing pink ball Tests on the road.

Asked about practice matches before an away Day-Night affair, something which skipper Kohli wants, the ace No. 3 batsman said: “If we are playing away from home, you don’t have much time as you play only one of the four matches with the pink ball.

“You don’t want to have a practice game with the pink ball. You would rather have it with the red ball. You never play a practice game in between a series, so I don’t think it’s practical.”

Eden Gardens witnessed 60,000 spectators on Day 1 and over 40,000 on the second day, and Pujara said that it was an encouraging sight which will boost the five-day format.

“When you’re playing Test cricket and the crowd comes in, it’s always motivating. Test cricket is still alive. This is an occasion which will boost Test cricket. As a player, we do enjoy such atmosphere, especially when we are fielding. The bowlers need a lot of support,” said Pujara, who scored 55 in the first innings.

The Saurashtra batsman said that batting under lights was more difficult while the first session and the last one hour were relatively easier.

“Batting under lights was difficult when I batted yesterday. Even when I saw on TV, the first session is easier to bat as there are no lights. When there are lights, the ball starts swinging a little more. So it is a bit more challenging.

“The kind of experience we have, most of the Tests we played were under sunlight. So when it comes to playing under lights, it is challenging for the batsmen. Once the dew sets in, it again becomes easier to bat,” he said.

Coming back to the ongoing Test, Kohli scored his 27th Test hundred, a sparkling 136, and equalled former Australian great Ricky Ponting’s record of 41 international centuries as captain. With this century, Kohli’s 20th as India captain in Tests, the 31-year-old also surpassed Ponting’s tally of 19 Test tons as skipper.

“He batted really well. He has been scoring lot of runs in all the formats. It’s always good to see him score runs and he has been very consistent in all formats. I am sure that he will be pleased with the pink ball hundred,” Pujara said of his captain.

On Bangladesh players getting hit on helmets, with two of them (Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan) out with concussion already, Pujara said: “I thought light and pink ball had a role to play. As a batsman, it is not easy to pick short balls. The pace our fast bowlers have, it is not easy. Their batters haven’t even played any first class match with pink ball, so it was not easy.”

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

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India Vs Australia
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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.

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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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Sania scripts dream return, clinches doubles title in Hobart

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Hobart: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza along with Nadiia Kichenok came out with yet another brilliant performance as they defeated the China’s Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in straight sets to win the women’s doubles title at Hobart International on Saturday.

Former doubles No.1 Mirza and Kichenok defeated the second-seeded Chinese duo 6-4, 6-4 in a rather one-sided contest which lasted one hour and 21 minutes.

The Indo-Ukrainian pair were the first to break in each set, but ultimately needed to wrap up the match by delivering the deciding breaks late. The unseeded duo won the last three games of the opener, and eight of the last 10 points to seal victory, having nearly seen a double-break advantage slip away.

Though the duo won six straight games from 3-4 in the opener to lead 6-4, 3-0, the 33-year-old Indian was the one who saw her serve broken twice as the Chinese eventually restored parity at 4-4.

Nonetheless, Mirza and Kichenok finished the match off in style with their fifth break of the match, before the Ukrainian served out the match and the victory for the team.

It is Mirza’s first WTA title in just over two years and 42nd of her storied doubles career, while Kichenok won her fifth, and first since partnering her twin sister, Lyudmyla, to win the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in 2018.

The Indian star last won a trophy alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Brisbane International in the first week of the 2017 season, one of three doubles finals she reached that year before announcing her pregnancy in April of 2018.

Three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Mirza was making a return to competition after a two-year hiatus away from tennis, initially due to injuries and then welcoming a son in October 2018.

The former world No.1 won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016 following a successful 2015 season in which she claimed the Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles, all paired with Martina Hingis.

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