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USA’s Megan Rapinoe wins Women’s Ballon Dor award 2019

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Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe of the United States has won Women’s Ballon d’Or for 2019, with England’s Lucy Bronze the runner-up.

Winger Rapinoe, 34, co-captained the US to victory at this summer’s World Cup, where she was named player of the tournament and finished joint-top scorer with six goals.

Bronze, 28, the Uefa Women’s Player of the Year, played a key part in England’s run to the semi-finals.

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Rahane holds fort as India struggle on Day 1 of Wellington Test

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Wellington, Feb 21 (IANS) Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane held one end as India found themselves struggling on the opening day of the first Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve on Friday.

At Stumps which the umpires were forced to call early after rains washed out the entire last session, India were 122/5 with Rahane and Rishabh Pant batting on 38 and 10, respectively.

Earlier, after being put into bat in rather difficult circumstances, which included overcast conditions and a fairly green track, the visitors didn’t have a great start as they lost young opener Prithvi Shaw quite early.

Shaw, who scored a couple of boundaries, was undone by a peach of a delivery by Tim Southee, who disturbed the woodwork in the fifth over and sent back the Indian opener back in the dressing room at his individual score of 16.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who is being termed as the new ‘wall’ of Indian Test team, then tried to steady the ship with other opener Mayank Agarwal. However, after playing out 42 deliveries, Pujara became the first Test scalp of debutant Kyle Jamieson. The good length delivery bowled by the tall, right-arm pacer jagged of a length and Pujara could only manage a fine edge and was caught by keeper BJ Watling after contributing with 11.

Skipper Virat Kohli, who came in next, continued his poor run of form in the ongoing tour and was caught at first slip by Ross Taylor off the bowling of Jamieson.

Kohli scored just two runs off seven deliveries and his wicket left India reeling at 40/3.

However, Rahane then joined forces with Agarwal and made sure the visitors didn’t lose any further wicket till the end of the session. India went into Lunch at 79/3.

In the second session, Agarwal, who had weathered the first two hours with remarkable composure, couldn’t stay long and was caught at fine-leg as he top-edged a rising Trent Boult delivery off his hips after sharing a valuable 48-run partnership with Rahane.

Hanuma Vihari (7) looked shaky right from the start and became the third scalp of debutant Kyle Jamieson, who got him caught behind.

However, Pant who was drafted into the playing XI in place of Wriddhiman Saha, played with utmost composure and made sure India didn’t lose any further wickets till the end of the session.

Not a single ball could be bowled in the final session as heavy rainfall started to pour and continued for long, thus forcing the match officials to call the end of the day’s play.

Brief Scores: 122/5 (Ajinkya Rahane 38*, Mayank Agarwal 34; Kyle Jamieson 3/38)

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1st Test: India hold edge in Kiwi star Taylor’s 100th Test

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Wellington, Feb 20 : India started their New Zealand tour on a note which they could have only dreamt off. They whitewashed the Black Caps in the five-match T20I series, thus boosting their confidence ahead of the T20 World Cup scheduled to be played later in the year in Australia. But the hosts made a remarkable comeback in the ODIs, winning the three-match series 3-0. And now, it is time for the Test matches.

As the focus shifts to the longest format, one must remember that India and New Zealand have had contrasting fortunes in the format in recent times. While India will look to continue their unbeaten run in the World Test Championship when they take on the Kiwis in the first Test of the two-match series beginning Friday at the Basin Reserve, the Kiwis were thrashed by Australia in December-January.

Ever since the Sydney Test in January 2019, India have been unbeaten winning all their seven matches in the ongoing World Test Championship. They have defeated West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh and are currently placed at the top of the table with 360 points.

The Kiwis must tighten their game if they wish to return strongly after the loss to their trans-Tasman rivals as India have very few weaknesses when it comes to Test cricket. Their batting line-up boast of having the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

The only weak link in India’s batting line-up is their opening slot. Rohit Sharma’s absence presents an opportunity for one of Shubman Gill or Prithvi Shaw to partner Mayank Agarwal at the top, with Shaw probably being the front-runner, having outscored Gill in Hamilton.

According to Rahane, India need to put in at least 320 on the board in their first innings in order to provide their bowlers with a chance to bowl out the opposition.

“When you bat first, your mindset is always positive, not saying that it’s not when you bowl first. If you get 320 to 330 outside India in first innings, it’s a very good total,” he said.

When it comes to the pace battery, India seem to have an upper hand with Ishant Sharma having cleared the fitness test and raring to join a pace attack that also features Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini.

New Zealand, on the other hand, will miss the services of Neil Wagner in the series opener. However, the return of Trent Boult and the promise shown by young Kyle Jamieson in the ODI series still leave the fast-bowling department well-covered.

Thus, quite an exciting battle can be expected between the two teams in what would be historic occasion at the Basin Reserve as Ross Taylor would become the first cricketer to play 100 games in each of the three formats.

Taylor stands out as the biggest positive for New Zealand and with skipper Kane Williamson’s brilliant record at the Basin Reserve (1,048 runs at 65.50, with a highest of 242*), the hosts would definitely give themselves the upper hand.

“I think in New Zealand, it’s all about cricket discipline and what the team brings on to the field. They are intense and very, very fit guys, and they can keep going all day and test your patience, really skilled with what they do as both bowlers and batsmen, and obviously brilliant fielders as well,” Kohli had said and probably that’s what the Indian team needs to do in their road to seal a spot in the Lord’s final slated to be played next year.

Squads: India: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithivi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R. Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Navdeep Saini, Shubhman Gill

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Tony Blundell, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, B.J. Watling (keeper), Tim Southee, Ajaz Patel, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell

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Twitter users hail Tendulkar over Laureus award

Reacting to the award, a user wrote: “He is an icon of cricket ! True champion and a legend! Salute to him !”

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Sachin Tendulkar

New Delhi, Feb 18 : A section of Twitterati on Tuesday hailed cricketing icon Sachin Tendulkar for his World Cup winning moment winning the Laureus Sporting Moment award of the last 20 years.

Laureus (@LaureusSport) tweeted: “This is a reminder of how powerful sport is and what magic it does to all of our lives. A God for a nation. An inspiration worldwide. And an incredible speech from the Laureus Sporting Moment 2000-2020 winner, the great @sachin_rt. #Laureus20 #SportUnitesUs”

The moment, titled ‘Carried on the shoulders of a nation’, describing the moment when Team India members carried Tendulkar on their shoulders across the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai following their 2011 World Cup victory, received the maximum number of votes from the sport’s fans.

After the award was announced, the Master Blaster greeted his fans and wrote: “Thank you all for the overwhelming love and support! I dedicate this @LaureusSport award to India, all my teammates, fans and well wishers in India and across the world who have always supported Indian cricket. #SportUnitesUs #Laureus20 #SportForGood.”

Reacting to the award, a user wrote: “He is an icon of cricket ! True champion and a legend! Salute to him !”

Another wrote: “In the 90s decade, Sachin was the sole individual who carried team India on his back! Sachin was more than a batsman! Sachin was an emotion! He deserves all the credit. 2K kids may never understand what Sachin meant! #SachinTendulkar.”

A post read: “God of cricket bags the Laureus Sporting moment award… there is no better moment than this in the last two decades… 2011 World Cup memories are always close to my heart and will be remembered for ever.”

“A proud moment for all Indians. Warmest congratulations to @sachin_rt on receiving the prestigious Laureus Sporting Moment Award in Berlin. You have inspired generations of young athletes with your passion, commitment, discipline and tenacity,” a Twitter user remarked.

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