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Team has character, lacks experience: Virat Kohli

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Virat Kohli

London, Sep 11 : Observing that the five-match Test series against England was highly competitive, India skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday said India played fearless cricket and the team has a lot of character but lacked in experience.

India lost the fifth and final Test by 118 runs despite heroic resistance from opener KL Rahul (149) and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant (114) in the second innngs.

England, thus, won the series by a comprehensive 4-1 margin after India were bowled out for 345 chasing 464 for victory.

“We have character in the team and we just need some experience,” Kohli said at the post match presentation ceremony.

Lauding the efforts of Rahul and Pant, who raised hopes of an improbable win, Kohli said the team’s willingless to fight till the end came to the fore.

“I think a lot of credit has to go to the two young guys. The kind of cricket we have played might not show on the scorecard.

“Pant showed a lot of grit and character. When you get into a zone when you are not thinking about the result, things go your way.

“I am delighted for both the guys and it speaks of India’s future. We did not take out opportunities.”

Kohli, who has had a great series himself amassing 593 runs, added that the five games with packed crowd and some fascinating cricket on display has been a great advertisement for the longest format of the game.

“Both the teams know this series has been a competitive one. This has been a great advert for Test cricket. The basic idea was to go out there and play the cricket we are supposed to do,” Kohli said.

“England are a professional side and we realized that as the game changed with in two-three overs.

“England also don’t go for draws and they played fearless cricket and so did we. That is why you won’t see draws,” he added.

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Pakistan edge past Afghanistan in nail-biting Asia Cup tie

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Pakistan vs Afghanistan
Pakistan vs Afghanistan

Abu Dhabi, Sep 22: Pakistan got themselves prepared for the India challenge on Sunday with a nervy three-wicket win over Afghanistan in a nail-biting Super Four contest of the Asia Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Friday.

Chasing a modest 258, Pakistan were in control with a 154-run second wicket stand between Imam-ul-Haq (80) and Babar Azam (66) before losing their way with the fall of regular wickets, only to be rescued by former skipper Shoaib Malik’s belligerent 43-ball unbeaten 51.

Pakistan managed to recover from the early loss of opener Fakhar Zaman (0), thanks to Imam and Babar’s patient knocks before a mix-up resulted in the run-out of Imam.

Babar soon followed the opener to the pavilion even as Pakistan’s middle order woes continued to haunt them with number 4 Haris Sohail (13), skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (8), Asif Ali (7) and Mohammad Nawaz (10) all departing within a span of just 48 runs.

Malik, however, wasn’t deterred by the situation and held one end up to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive, and together with Hasan Ali (6 not out) overcame the scare to finally overhaul the target with three balls to spare.

For the Afghans, leg-spinner Rashid Khan (3/46) and offie Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/33) were the main wicket-takers while Gulbadin Naib chipped in with one scalp.

Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, Afghanistan rode an undefeated half century from Hashmatullah Shahidi (97 not out) and skipper Asghar Afghan’s stroke-filled 56-ball 67 to post a challenging 257/7.

Afghanistan started off well with Rahmat Shah (36) and Shahidi raising 63 runs for the third wicket before the latter went on to add 94 runs with his skipper to propel the team to a decent total.

In another Super Four match on Friday, India rode on an all-round show to outclass Bangladesh by 7 wickets.

India will next play Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday while Bangladesh and Afghanistan will lock horns here on the same day.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan 257/6 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 97 not out, Asghar Afghan 67; Mohammad Nawaz 3/57) lose to Pakistan 258/7 (Imam-ul-Haq 80, Babar Azam 66, Shoaib Malik 51 not out; Rashid Khan 3/46) by 3 wickets.

IANS

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Asia Cup: Rohit, Jadeja star in India’s 7-wkt win over Bangladesh

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India Vs Bangladesh

Dubai, Sep 21 : India dished out another comprehensive performance to thrash Bangladesh by seven wickets in a Super Four stage match of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

Skipper Rohit Sharma led India from the front with a fluent unbeaten half-century to overhaul the paltry target of 174 with more than 13 overs to spare, after the men-in-blue rode on left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s magical spell of 4/29 on winning the toss and opting to chase.

The defending champions were off to a brilliant start once again with Rohit (83 not out off 104 balls; 5X4, 6X3) and Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 47; 4X4, 6X1) putting on 61 runs before the southpaw was trapped leg-before by left-armer Shakib Al Hasan in the 15th over.

Thereafter, Rohit and new man Ambati Rayudu (13) added 45 runs for the second wicket before the No.3 batsman was caught behind off pacer Rubel Hossain.

With India cruising to an easy victory, former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33 off 37; 4X3) was promoted up the order and the talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman played the perfect second fiddle to the skipper, who clobbered Shakib for three sixes, one among those to get to his 36th ODI fifty.

Dhoni soon joined the party, belting two consecutive boundaries off skipper Mashrafe Mortaza to raise India’s 150 and also the 50-run stand for the third wicket.

Mortaza, however, avenged the thrashing with the wicket of the stumper, who in an attempt to finish off the innings with a six, gifted his wicket away with India just four runs shy of victory.

Dinesh Karthik (1 not out) then joined his skipper to complete the formalities in style.

Earlier, Jadeja, playing his first ODI since July 2017, wreaked havoc among the Bangladeshi middle-order that comprised the key wickets of Shakib Al Hasan (17), Mushfiqur Rahim (21), Mohammad Mithun (9) and Mosaddek Hossain (12), to help India restrict the opposition for a paltry 173, centred mainly around a 66-run eighth wicket stand between lower-order batsmen Mehidy Hasan (42) and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza (26).

Jadeja was complimented well by the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/32) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/37).

Put in to bat, Bangladesh immediately found themselves on the backfoot after Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah removed the openers Liton Das (7) and Nazmul Hossain Shanto (7), respectively, with just 16 runs on the board.

Thereafter, Jadeja spun his magic around the Bangladesh batsmen which reduced them to 65/5 by the 18th over, before Mahmudullah (25) and Mosaddek steered the total past the 100-run mark with a brief 36-run sixth wicket stand.

Towards the end, Mehidy and Mashrafe batted sensibly to take the side past the 150-run mark even as the Indian bowlers came back well to restrict them to a below-par score.

Brief Scores

Bangladesh: 173 (Mehidy Hasan 42, Mashrafe Mortaza 26; Ravindra Jadeja 4/29, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/32, Jasprit Bumrah 3/37) lose to India: 174/3 (Rohit Sharma 83 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 40, M.S Dhoni 33) by 7 wickets.

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Arjuna Award is recognition of my hard work: Paddler Manika Batra

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Manika Batra during a programme

Elated after being among those selected for this year’s prestigious Arjuna Award, star paddler Manika Batra on Thursday said it was a recognition to her hard work over the years.

The 23-year-old Manika recently scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman paddler to win an Asian Games medal when she paired up with veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal to bag the bronze in the mixed doubles competition.

“It’s a real pleasure to be selected for this year’s Arjuna Award. I am excited to receive the award,” Manika told IANS after being signed as the latest face of Herbalife Nutrition.

“This is a recognition of my hard work, and the medals which I won in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. This is the time to be happy and excited,” she added.

Manika has also proved that her Commonwealth Games (CWG) success, where she emerged as the country’s top performer with four medals — a gold each in women’s singles and women’s team event, silver in women’s doubles, and a bronze in mixed doubles — was not a fluke and clearly she is the next big thing in table tennis.

Despite grabbing eyeballs with her brilliant performances this season, Manika has an unfulfilled dream which she is striving hard to achieve.

“From here on, the main target is to improve on my world ranking and find myself in the top-30 or top-20. With a better world ranking, I will have better chances at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The dream is to be among the top-10 in the world. I have the National Ranking zonals and then the Pro Tours where the focus will be mainly on improving my world ranking,” said Manika, who is currently ranked World No.56.

When prodded on the level of competition in the CWG and the Asiad, and how eventually she managed to break the shackles at Jakarta, Manika explained: “The level of competition in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games is totally different.”

“In the CWG, the battle is mainly against the Singapore paddlers whereas in Asiad, all the table tennis powerhouses compete, which makes it really tough,” she added.

Rating her Asian Games medal as the “greatest achievement” till date, Manika was however candid enough to admit that she wasn’t at her fittest self during the Asian Games.

“Even during the Asian Games, I felt I lack on the fitness standards of the Chinese and other Asian paddlers. I have to work more on my reflexes and movements.

“I am currently focussing on my agility and fitness with my fitness coach Subodh More with an eye to match to the standards of the Chinese,” she added.

On being quizzed if her height is the secret of her being touted as the next big thing in the table tennis world, the 5′ 11” paddler said it works both ways for her.

“My height works both ways…it is advantageous as the taller players have a better reach and require less movement but at the same time there is a negative which is we are more prone to back and knee injuries. I suffered from back pain recently but have worked on that and now I’m back to full fitness,” she recounted.

(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])

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