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Overcast conditions on reserve day helped New Zealand bowlers: Srikanth

“I have to give great credit to Kane Williamson’s captaincy. One thing about New Zealand’s batting and bowling approach, they played to their strengths and limitations.

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Krishnamachari Srikkanth

Manchester, July 11 (IANS) Former India opener Kris Srikkanth said overcast conditions on the reserve day of the first semifinal helped New Zealand bowlers as they scripted a 18-run win over title favourites India in the World Cup here on Wednesday.

In the rain-hit semifinal played over two days, New Zealand scored 239/8 in 50 overs after opting to bat. Kane Williamson (67) and Ross Taylor (74) formed the bedrock of their innings.

In reply, India lost four top order batsmen for just 24 runs inside 10 overs before Ravindra Jadeja (77) and Dhoni (50) shared a 116-run seventh wicket stand to raise hopes for an unlikely victory. However, it wasn’t enough in the end as India fell short by 18 runs.

“I think because of the rain and the match getting spilt over to a second day, that was in my opinion one of the root causes for the defeat as far as India is concerned,” Srikanth wrote in his column for the ICC.

“The rain and the overcast conditions on the second day meant the wicket helped New Zealand more than India as it was ideal for the bowlers,” he added.

Srikkanth heaped praise on Kiwi bowlers despite a 116-run seventh-wicket stand between Dhoni and Jadeja.

“If you look at the first three wickets and ask if it was bad batting or good bowling from New Zealand, I would say it was fantastic bowling by New Zealand.

“All those first three wickets, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, were outstanding international wicket-taking deliveries and got rid of players who were in brilliant form.

“They literally finished off the backbone of the Indian side and then there was a good fightback, hats off to MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, especially Jadeja in just his second game of the World Cup.

“He really made a fantastic fight out of it, he made it a brilliant game. He almost won the match alongside Dhoni and his all-round performance was brilliant for the entire match.

“His bowling was fantastic, great batting and great fielding, but he cannot do it on his own and unfortunately, he was left with too much to do in the end.”

Srikanth, who was part of India’s 1983 World Cup winning team, also opined that India need a young No.5 batsman, though not talking about whether Dhoni should retire or not.

“We’re still struggling to get the right middle order combination. Rishabh Pant is good but at number five we need to find someone as we’ve tried too many people there.

“We’ve tried Dinesh Karthik, we’ve tried Jadeja, we’ve tried Vijay Shankar, three guys have been tried and they’ve not proved useful so maybe we can find a good youngster for No.5.”

Srikanth also lauded Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson.

“I have to give great credit to Kane Williamson’s captaincy. One thing about New Zealand’s batting and bowling approach, they played to their strengths and limitations.

“That’s why when they were batting they didn’t play the big shots as they knew they only had their two main batsmen in Williamson and Ross Taylor, they just wanted to hang around.

“They knew if those two could stay in and they could get near 250, they could make a match out of it and they ended up winning the match and reaching the final.

“The way Williamson rotated his bowlers in particular was amazing. Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme were the weak links in the bowling but he made sure they were not too exposed.

“He rotated them around well and because of the early wickets, their limitations were not exposed. I also thought Mitchell Santner bowled brilliantly, but India gave him too much respect.”

Srikanth also felt Indian batsmen should have played more aggressively in their approach against left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who returned with impressive figures of 2/34.

“They should have played more positively against Santner. When I say positively, that doesn’t mean hitting out, it’s showing some sort of positivity against Santner, putting him under pressure.

“At that point in the innings, the run rate started slowly climbing up, and that’s what put pressure on the Indian’s towards the end. India were in control before the rain came though.”

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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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Rajkot ODI: India level series with 36-run win

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Rajkot, Jan 17 : India beat South Africa by 36 runs in the second ODI at the SCA stadium in Rajkot to level the three-match series between the two sides 1-1. Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli helped India post a total of 341 to chase. In response, Australia were all out for 304 despite Steve Smith scoring 98.

Openers David Warner and Aaron Finch, who posted a record 258-run stand to help Australia stroll to a win in the first ODI, could not do a repeat of their heroics with the former being dismissed in the fourth over. Smith came in at number three and put up 62 with Finch before the Australian captain fell to Ravindra Jadeja on account of a close stumping call in the 16th over.

Finch had attempted to hit Jadeja over extra cover but missed the delivery due to the turn. Finch dragged his backfoot marginally outside the crease and wicketkeeper Rahul whipped the bails off immediately. Replays made it a tough call for the umpire to make but the decision went India’s way in the end.

However, Marnus Labuschagne, playing his first ODI innings, stuck on with Smith and the pair gave Australia the upper hand in the middle overs. They put up 96 for the third wicket before Labuschagne holed out at mid-off off Jadeja on 46. Smith however looked settled and was cruising to his ninth ODI ton when a loose shot cost him his wicket.

Kuldeep Yadav, who was wicketless in the first eight overs, bowled the 38th over and got Carey when the latter sent the ball straight to Kohli at extra cover. It was Kuldeep’s 100th ODI wicket and two balls later, Smith played on and had to walk back two runs shy of his hundred.

Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by Mohammed Shami in the 44th over. Both players were done in by pinpoint yorkers directed at the middle stump. Shami sent in a leg stump yorker for his hat-trick ball and hit Mitchell Starc on his pads but the umpire didn’t raise his finger with the ball clearly going down the leg side.

Navdeep Saini then got India closer in the 47th with the wickets of Ashton Agar and Starc off the first and third balls of the over. Kane Richardson then delayed the inevitable by smashing Mohammed Shami for three fours and a six in the penultimate over. Jasprit Bumrah ended the match by dismissing Adam Zampa off the first ball of the last over.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan scored his third straight fifty with a sublime 96 from 90 balls, his innings laced with 13 fours and a six as skipper Kohli smashed a 76-ball 78 (6×4). But it was Rahul, batting at No.5 who gave India the much-needed push in the last ten overs with his aggressive batting and range of shots. Rahul was run out in the final over for 80 off just 52 balls, his quickfire knock studded with six fours and three sixes.

For the Aussies, leg-spinner Adam Zampa was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/50.

The decisive third ODI will be played on Sunday at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.

Brief scores: India: 340/6 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 96, KL Rahul 80, Virat Kohli 78; Adam Zampa 3/50) vs Australia 304 (Steve Smith 98, Marnus Labuschagne 46; Mohammed Shami 3/77)

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Anand gets past Xiong for first win in Tata Steel Masters

It was a French Defence Winawer variation where none of the players castled throughout the game.

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Viswanathan Anand

Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Jan 17 : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand beat Jeffery Xiong of the United States to notch up his first victory in the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament here on Friday.

Anand was struggling for form but roared back to notch a win after one loss and three draws.

The Indian was very good in the round four match, playing some brilliant chess.

It was a French Defence Winawer variation where none of the players castled throughout the game.

Anand fired a king side attack early with his white pieces and enjoyed spatial advantage in the middle game.

Xiong tried to keep him at bay but in the end Anand found a crucial central breakthrough after which the resulting rook and pawns endgame was a walk in the park.

Anand moved to joint sixth spot with 2.5 points on a day.

Firouzja Alireza also scored a victory over Anish Giri of Holland.

Anish Giri dropped to 11th spot along with Nikita Vituigov of Russia on two points, Yu Yangyi of China is in 13th spot on 1.5 points and Kovalev stands last with just one point in his bag. Eight rounds still remain in the marathon event among 14 players.

Magnus Carlsen’s form was not too good even though he played his 112th game without a defeat.

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