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Saini stars on debut as India beat West Indies by four wickets

“This wicket has been under covers, so there might be a bit of moisture and it’s going to get flatter with more sun on it,” said India captain Virat Kohli at the toss.

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Seamer Navdeep Saini starred on debut with a three-wicket haul as India beat West Indies by four wickets to win the first of the three T20 internationals here on Saturday.

Saini made a memorable international debut by grabbing two important wickets off consecutive deliveries to help India restrict the West Indies to 95/9 in 20 overs after skipper Virat Kohli asked the Windies to bat first.

Coming to bowl in the fifth over after Washington Sundar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had removed openers John Campbell and Evin Lewis for a pair of ducks, Saini (3/17) snared the wickets of Nicholas Pooran (20) and Shimron Hetmyer (0) off back-to-back deliveries to reduce the hosts to 28/4 after five overs.

West Indies could never recover from there even with comeback man Kieron Pollard top-scoring with a run-a-ball 49 (4×2, 6×4) before Saini got his back in the final over which he finished with a wicket maiden to cap off a dream debut.

Chasing 96 for victory, the visitors lost Shikhar Dhawan early, plumb in front to Sheldon Cottrell (2/20) in just the second over.

Skipper Kohli joined Rohit Sharma in the middle, the pair recently in the news for their reported rift after the World Cup.

Just when they were looking good, especially Rohit with some clinical hitting, the Indian vice-captain threw away his wicket for 24 from 25 balls (2×4, 2×6), trying to go for a needless big shot and holing out to Kieron Pollard at long-on off Sunil Narine (2/14).

Rishabh Pant showed little maturity, sweeping to Cottrell at deep square leg off Sunil Narine and getting out for a first ball duck leaving India in a spot of bother at 3/32.

Kohli held one end up as Manish Pandey (19) could not convert his good start, Keemo Paul (2/23) sending his stumps cartwheeling with a quick delivery.

It became tense when Kohli (19) top-edged a pull to Pollard at midwicket off Cottrell in the 14th over, with India needing 24 to win from 36 balls and five wickets in hand.

But Krunal Pandya (12) and Ravindra Jadeja (10 not out) guided the Men in Blue over the line with 16 balls to spare, as India took a 1-0 lead in the three match T20 series.India scored 98/6 in 17.2 overs.

Earlier, it was all about Saini as he bowled with raw pace and in good lengths. Besides Saini, pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar returned figures of 2/19 while Sundar (1/18), Khaleel Ahmed (1/8), Krunal Pandya (1/20) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/13) picked up one wicket each.

It all started for 26-year old Saini, blessed with raw pace, when he found Pooran’s top edge with a short of length delivery, which flew to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

In the very next ball of the fifth over, Saini was on a hat-trick on debut after castling Shimron Hetmyer. Returning in the final over, Saini trapped the big-hitting Pollard in front, with reviews confirming the dismissal.

The Windies’ batters were all over the place as apart from Pollard and Pooran, none scored in double digits.

Brief scores: West Indies: 95/9 in 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 49, Navdeep Saini 3/17) vs India 98/6 in 17.2 overs (Rohit Sharma 24, Sheldon Cottrell 2/20, Sunil Narine 2/14, Keemo Paul 2/23)

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My eyes fixed firmly on Women’s World Cup trophy: Mithali Raj

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.

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New Delhi, Aug 8 : Veteran India batter Mithali Raj has said that she is “definitely looking” at the ICC Women’s World Cup, which has been postponed to 2022 and has added that her eyes are firmly fixed on the trophy.

On Friday, the International Cricket Council decided to postpone the World Cup, originally slated to be held in New Zealand in 2021, until February-March 2022 because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whilst this is never great news to wake up to. I can understand the reasons why given the lack of cricket in some countries. I just hope those players who were planning to retire after the World Cup can hold on for one year…right Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Rachael Haynes,” cricketer-turned-commentator Lisa Sthalekar tweeted following ICC’s decision to postpone Women’s World Cup.

To this, Mithali replied: “Oh absolutely, my eyes are fixed firmly on the trophy. With all niggles recovered, mind and body fresh and stronger than before, I am definitely looking at World Cup 2022.”

Mithali had led the Indian eves to the final of the showpiece event in 2017 where they had to face a heart-wrenching defeat against England in the summit clash at the iconic Lord’s.

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.

The 37-year-old has already retired from T20 cricket and now aspires to win India their maiden World Cup for which she will now have to wait at least until 2022.

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Madrid Masters tennis tournament cancelled: organisers

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Madrid Masters tennis

The Madrid Open that was scheduled to take place from Sept. 12-20 has been cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish Capital, Organisers said on Thursday.

“As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by COVID-19 and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstance that the pandemic continues to generate… it has been decided that 2020 Muta Madrid Open will not take place this year,” organisers said in a satatement.

The tounament, which was to feature both men’s and women’s draws, was seen as an important event for players to prepare for the Frech Open which begins on Sept. 27.

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BCCI issues SOP; players must sign consent form before resuming training

BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.

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New Delhi, Aug 2 : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to the state associations for the resumption of cricket. While these will help the state bodies restart cricketing activities, all players will have to sign consent forms before getting back to training.

In the 100-page SOP, accessed by IANS, the BCCI has touched on principles while returning to training, ground and practice facilities preparation with an eye on the pandemic, gymnasium protocols, physiotherapy and medical protocols as well as protocols to manage a suspected COVID-19 case.

It also has the consent form where the players have to acknowledge that there is risk associated with resuming training and that the player has been informed about the protocols in place and the precautions taken by the association.

The player also needs to acknowledge that the association can’t guarantee complete elimination of risk despite taking necessary precautions and that the player is willing to resume training.

With an eye on the whole situation with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the BCCI has shared its views with the state bodies with regards to resumption of cricket.

“The BCCI as the governing body for the sport of cricket in India is responsible for ensuring that appropriate protocols are put in place to protect the health and safety of players, staff and all stakeholders. Covid-19, an infectious disease primarily affecting the lungs, poses a serious threat to the health of individuals as is evident from its spread to almost all countries around the world with more than 17.5 million infections and over 0.6 million deaths as on 1st August 2020. As the world grapples with Covid-19, cricketing activity has come to a standstill and players confined to the four walls within their homes.

“It is said that cricket is a religion in India and the fanfare and fervor that cricket commands are far greater than any other sport or event in the country. Besides, it also helps generate tremendous revenue and employs players and staff across 38 State teams, both in the men and women category. BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.

“However, the BCCI is concerned about the high infectivity rate of SARS CoV-2 and in the interest of health and safety of all players, staff and stakeholders, the BCCI would not like to compromise on the preventive measures by resuming too soon,” the SOP read.

“The purpose of these protocols is to ensure the safe resumption of cricket activities and the below guidelines may be amended from time to time as may be required depending on the existing Covid-19 situation in the country and the guidelines issued by the Government of India at appropriate times. These guidelines have been prepared by the BCCI Medical Team.

“All BCCI affiliated State Cricket Associations will adhere to these guidelines and take additional measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection. Approvals must also be sought from local administration and health authorities before commencing any cricket activity. The health and safety of players, staff and stakeholders will be the sole responsibility of respective State Cricket Associations.”

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