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Those 45 minutes

Chasing 240, the Indian batters would have known that if they could see off the new ball and don’t give away too many wickets, they would win it rather easily at the Old Trafford.

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Virat Kohli

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Before the India-New Zealand semi-final clash, all the cricket pundits, including former spinner Daniel Vettori, believed that the only way Black Caps could have won against the Men in Blue was to play aggressive cricket in the first 10 overs, both with bat and ball.

“They will have to be aggressive right from the outset and bowl to take wickets. If you take early wickets and can get at that Indian middle order then you have a chance,” Vettori had said.

And that’s what New Zealand did on Wednesday. They had only one shot to aim and they did that perfectly to seal their spot in the World Cup finals for the second time in a row.

Chasing 240, the Indian batters would have known that if they could see off the new ball and don’t give away too many wickets, they would win it rather easily at the Old Trafford.

However, that didn’t happen.

Rohit Sharma, who was India’s run-machine in the tournament till then, got a peach of a delivery from Matt Henry.

Skipper Virat Kohli, who is notorious of not performing in the knockouts of the ICC tournaments, never looked comfortable during his short stay at the wicket and was ultimately trapped in front by Trent Boult.

And K.L. Rahul, who has been guilty of poking out at deliveries outside the off-stump, once again became a victim of his own confusion of whether to play the ball or to leave it. Poking at a delivery on the fifth stump line half-heartedly, Rahul threw away his wicket and once again gave critics a chance to take pot shots at him.

Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, who was included in the side as an extra batter to strengthen the batting line-up, looked circumspect right from the start. He could not get off the mark off the first 17 or 18 deliveries which he faced. However, just when he was looking to get settled after hitting a boundary, he was undone by sheer brilliance from Jimmy Neesham who dived to his left-side at point and took probably what can be easily touted as the catch of the tournament.

At the end of 10 overs, India were left 24-4 in their chase of 240. From there onwards, the Men in Blue were always playing the catching game. Even though Ravindra Jadeja and M.S. Dhoni provided 1.3 billion Indian fans with a hope of what could have been a miraculous comeback at the biggest stage in international cricket, the mountain was too high to climb for the two-time world champions.

Had it not been for Jadeja who played a brilliant a knock of 59-ball 77, the margin would have been much bigger. Jadeja, who was termed as a “bits and pieces” player by Sanjay Manjrekar, produced a once-in-a-lifetime knock to drag India close to the finishing line. However, he holed out to Boult while trying to go for a maximum to a ball which he would have backed himself to throw out of the park.

At the other end, Dhoni almost pulled off a “vintage” Dhoni inning by scoring 50 off 72. However, the man who is termed to be the fastest between the wickets in international cricket, had a stirring end. The man who runs the hardest, has an impeccable judgment of a run, was run out brilliantly by Martin Guptill, who had till then done nothing for the Black Caps in the tournament. However, his perfect throw from deep square-leg was probably the biggest contribution he could have made for his captain, the always calm and composed Kane Williamson.

Wednesday’s loss of 18 runs wasn’t an expected result, considering India had finished at the top of the table and were drawn to play New Zealand, the lowest-placed side in the top four.

“Forty-five minutes of bad cricket puts you out of the tournament. Difficult to take it — but New Zealand deserve it,” Kohli said after the game. And probably, those 45 minutes decided the fate for the Men in Blue.

(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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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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