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Ranchi Test: India bat, Shahbaz Nadeem makes debut (Toss)

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Ranchi: India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat in the third and final Test against South Africa beginning Saturday at the JSCA International Stadium Complex here.

India have made one change to their playing XI that featured in the Pune Test. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem has been handed debut and he comes into the side in place of Ishant Sharma who has been given rest.

“We’ll bat first. It looks like a good wicket. It will be hard upfront and then got slower. Like the typical Ranchi wicket. It’s a no-brainer to bat first on this one. I don’t think it’s gonna be slow but it will keep lower than Pune maybe. It should spin at a decent pace. As long as it turns with pace on the ball, we don’t mind the bounce,” said Kohli after winning the toss.

“Just one change – Ishant has been given a break. Shahbaz Nadeem makes his debut. Unfortunately, Kuldeep (Yadav) couldn’t pull up. We checked on him yesterday but he didn’t respond well enough from his shoulder niggle. Nadeem is the local boy and it’s a dream debut. We’ll have to continue to work hard and look to win sessions of cricket. That’s the only message I look to pass on.”

South Africa, on the other hand, have made three changes to their line-up apart from the two forced changes.

While Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj were already ruled out of the final Test, they have also excluded Vernon Philander, Theunis de Bruyn and Senuran Muthusamy. Zubayr Hamza, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Lungi Ngidi and Dane Piedt come into their playing XI.

“Important toss as this looks the driest surface of the series. It’s about the first innings really and we need to put runs on the board when we bat. One forced change with Aiden (Markram). Few other changes as well. Change in the batting order. Quinton will open the batting. Hopefully he can put pressure on the Indian bowlers, like what Rohit has done for India. Heinrich Klaasen comes in as the wicket-keeper. A new spinner in George Linde makes his Test debut,” said South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis.

“Two weeks ago he was 1000 miles away from playing Test cricket but that’s how quickly things happen. Lungi Ngidi also comes in. We’ve gone in with five bowlers to take the 20 wickets and hopefully we can. Starting in India is a tough challenge and all teams that have played here will vouch for it. We did compete well in the first game but it didn’t go our way last game. We’re ready for the fight,” he added.

Playing XIs:

India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami

South Africa: Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Zubayr Hamza, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Heinrich Klaasen (w), George Linde, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi

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Australia suspends Olympic bid amid COVID-19 recovery

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Sydney, May 25 (IANS) Australia’s Queensland has suspended its bid to host the 2032 Olympics recently as the state government focuses on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the bid process had been paused, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It’s just on hold. I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Palaszczuk told reporters last weekend.

“We’re focused absolutely on the economic recovery at the moment.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it fully supported the Queensland government’s position in placing the Brisbane 2032 candidature on hold.

AOC President John Coates said in a recent statement that meetings of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group (OCLG) scheduled earlier this year were deferred, allowing governments to focus on dealing with COVID-19.

Coates said he’d proposed to OCLG members that the meetings would not proceed while all three levels of governments dealt with the pandemic.

He also told the AOC Annual General Meeting on May 9 that discussions with the IOC on the candidature would resume when appropriate.

“We all understand there are pressing issues of public health and community wellbeing for governments to address,” Coates said.

“The candidature will have its role to play in terms of jobs and growth in the Queensland economy once we have seen our way through the current crisis.”

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‘Hockey has lost its brightest star’: Balbir Singh Sr passes away

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Balbir Singh Senior

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Hockey India has expressed condolences on the sad demise of legendary player Balbir Singh Sr who breathed his last on Monday morning in Mohali. The triple Olympic Champion and World Cup-winning team manager had been battling for life since May 8 when he was hospitalised.

“Today, we have not only lost our greatest hockey legend but we have also lost ‘our guiding light’. While his achievements in post-independent era have been well-documented, Balbir Sr remained the greatest fan of the sport and was always there when we needed his advice. Hockey has lost its brightest star and everyone at Hockey India is pained by this news,” said Hockey India President Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad.

He further said: “Balbir Singh Sr’s exemplary achievements, his passion for the sport, his life as an icon of the game will remain an example for generations to come. On behalf of the federation, I express my deepest condolences to his family.”

He was the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games. He coached the Indian team which won the bronze medal at the 1971 World Cup and was manager of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1975 World Cup.

He had scored five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Under his captaincy, India scored 38 goals and conceded none on its way to the gold medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Beating England 4-0 in their own backyard during the final of the 1948 Olympic Games as an independent nation was Balbir Sr’s ‘greatest moment’.

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Former Pak batsman Taufeeq Umar tests positive for COVID-19

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New Delhi, Former Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Umar featured in 44 Tests and 12 ODIs, amassing 2,963 and 504 runs respectively for Pakistan.

He played his last international match in 2014, a Test against New Zealand in Dubai.

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