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4th Test: Spinners help England take the upper hand as India trail by 134 runs (ld)

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Ranchi, Feb 24 (IANS) Spinners Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley played starring roles to help England reach a commanding position at stumps on Day Two of the fourth Test against India at the JSCA International Stadium here on Saturday.

In the morning, resuming from 302/7, England added 51 runs to their total, with Ollie Robinson making 58, also his maiden half-century in this format. But they lost their last three wickets for six runs in the span of 17 balls, two of which were picked by Ravindra Jadeja to be India’s stand-out bowler with 4-67.

From being 112/5 at lunch on Day One, England will be satisfied to get a 350-plus total, with Joe Root remaining unbeaten on 122. Bashir, playing just his second Test, took 4-84 and bowled an unbroken spell of 31 overs to get his first four-wicket haul in red-ball cricket, while Hartley scalped 2-47 on a deteriorating pitch to leave India in trouble at 219/7 and trail England by 134 runs.

Things could have been worse for the hosts if not for the unbroken 42-run stand, off 106 balls, between Dhruv Jurel (30 not out) and Kuldeep Yadav (17 not out). In response to England’s 353, India lost captain Rohit Sharma early after he pushed forward to a length ball from James Anderson and got a healthy nick behind to keeper Ben Foakes.

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Yashasvi Jaiswal, the leading run-scorer in the series, was cautious against fast bowlers early on and even survived an outside edge due to playing with soft hands off Robinson. He then played back-to-back fours -– via drive and whip off his pads -– against Anderson, before giving the same treatment to Robinson in the last over before lunch break.

Post lunch, Shubman Gill began by effortlessly driving Bashir through extra cover for four, followed by flicking and driving off Anderson for a brace of boundaries. Jaiswal lofted Bashir over long-on for six and had a narrow escape when Ollie Robinson extracted an outside edge, which was dying on keeper Ben Foakes.

Foakes felt he cleanly took the catch, but replays showed the ball bouncing before going into the gloves. Gill brought his fast hands into play by cracking a cut and guiding off Robinson for back-to-back fours, before being trapped LBW by Bashir via a delivery, which turned sharply to beat the inside edge.

Gill went for a review, but replays showed the ball would hit the stumps, bringing an end to his 82-run partnership with Jaiswal, who got his fourth half-century of the series with a single off Hartley. Rajat Patidar impressed with his dabs, flicks and punches to collect four boundaries quickly, but fell to Bashir after being trapped LBW by a delivery that skidded on from outside off.

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The DRS showed the ball hitting leg-stump, with the impact on the umpire’s call, meaning Patidar’s stay ended at 17. Ravindra Jadeja smashed back-to-back leg-side sixes off Hartley after surviving an LBW review on the previous delivery.

But Bashir bowled a top-spinner from the good length and had some extra bounce to catch Jadeja’s inside edge and the ball lobbed to Ollie Pope at short leg, giving him his third wicket before tea break. The final session began with Sarfaraz Khan surviving two run-out chances, followed by Jaiswal resuming from 54 not out with three boundaries off Bashir.

The off-spinner eventually had the last laugh by getting the short ball to stay low and Jaiswal, moving backwards for a cut, only saw the delivery hitting the toe-end of the bat and crash into middle stump. Hartley increased India’s troubles by enticing Sarfaraz Khan to go for a drive and had the outside edge caught by a diving Joe Root at slip.

Hartley had his second wicket when he trapped Ravichandran Ashwin LBW with the one that kept low and hit him straight on the pads. Ashwin went for the review, but replays showed the ball hitting the leg stump, with impact on the umpire’s call. Jurel and Kuldeep hit two boundaries each to keep India afloat till the stumps arrived.

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Earlier, Day Two began with Robinson resuming from 31 not out and flicking Mohammed Siraj for a boundary. Shortly after, India took the second new ball, but Robinson continued to churn out boundaries –- cutting, driving and pulling Akash Deep for three boundaries.

Robinson got his maiden Test fifty with a sweep off Jadeja over square-leg going for four. But the left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Robinson attempted to reverse-sweep which brushed his glove before going through to Jurel, who took a sharp low catch, ending his 102-run partnership with Root.

Three balls later, Bashir went for a wild slog off Jadeja, but the leading edge was snapped by backward point. Anderson was the last man to fall after being adjudged LBW in an attempt to sweep Jadeja, with Root’s 122 not out being the highlight of England’s first innings, which was taken over by the spin show from Bashir and Hartley.

Brief scores:

England 353 all out in 104.5 overs (Joe Root 122 not out, Ollie Robinson 58; Ravindra Jadeja 4-67, Akash Deep 3-83) lead India 219/7 in 73 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 73, Shubman Gill 38; Shoaib Bashir 4-84, Tom Hartley 2-47) by 134 runs

–IANS

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Golf: Diksha Dagar to defend her LET title in Czech Republic

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Beroun (Czech Rep), June 20 (IANS) India’s top star on the Ladies European Tour, Diksha Dagar, will defend her title this week at the Tipsport Czech Ladies Open. Last year, her win at the event was her second career win. The Indian star secured a three-shot victory at Royal Beroun Golf Club to win her second title, five years after her first.

Being back in Beroun is special for Dagar, who will have her father Narinder on her bag once again, and she is relishing the opportunity to defend and potentially retain her crown. Apart from Diksha the other Indians in the field are rookies Pranavi Urs, Tvesa Malik and Vani Kapoor, and Ridhima Dilawari.

“It’s always amazing to be back here as a defending champion because it is a very rare opportunity to defend your title and it’s a new challenge for me,” she said. “I would love to win again. If I can do that, it will be a mark off my bucket list. I remember on the second day I played seven-under; I remember every shot and every hole because it was very precious to me.

“It is always a special moment having your parent in your bag, especially your family. This year he will be my caddie and he also knows about the course well, it’s going to be so exciting for us.”

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After her victory, the two-time LET winner recorded a further five top-10 finishes that season as she finished third in the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol.

It’s been a good start to the 2024 season for Dagar, who has had four top-10 finishes to date on the LET and sits 10th in the Order of Merit.

Coming off the back of a T6 at last week’s Ladies Italian Open, the 23-year-old believes she is in good form and is hoping to carry some positive vibes.

She continued: “This golf course is in the same condition as last year. The greens are smaller, I love smaller greens on the golf course. The greens are a bit different from last week in Italy, I have to read carefully because it will be more challenging.

“I feel I am keeping up my game and going in a very good momentum. I’m super excited to play in this tournament.

“I played in the Pro-Am and put really well, made lots of birdies. I feel there are going to be some positive vibes coming in and I’m sure I can do well and finish in the top 10 again.”

Having been successful around this golf course previously alongside her form, Dagar is hopeful that her third LET title is just around the corner.

She added: “I always enjoy here. Before winning in Czech last year, I was playing well, I was in the leading group in Germany and also Belgium.

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“I was hoping that I was very close to winning and finally it happened, after a long gap of five years. This year is the same, I finished in the top ten last week, so I feel I am getting closer to the win.”

The 2023 champion gets her title defence underway at 1.14 pm (local time) on June 21 alongside Czechia’s Klara Davison Spilkova and Spain’s Nuria Iturrioz.

The Indian star secured a three-shot victory at Royal Beroun Golf Club to win her second title, five years after her first.

Being back in Beroun is special for Dagar, who will have her father Narinder on her bag once again, and she is relishing the opportunity to defend and potentially retain her crown. “It’s always amazing to be back here as a defending champion because it is a very rare opportunity to defend your title and it’s a new challenge for me,” she said.

“I would love to win again. If I can do that, it will be a mark off my bucket list. I remember on the second day I played seven-under; I remember every shot and every hole because it was very precious to me.

“It is always a special moment having your parent in your bag, especially your family. This year he will be my caddie and he also knows about the course well, it’s going to be so exciting for us.”

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After her victory, the two-time LET winner recorded a further five top-10 finishes that season as she finished third in the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol. It’s been a good start to the 2024 season for Dagar, who has had four top-10 finishes to date on the LET and sits 10th in the Order of Merit.

Coming off the back of a T6 at last week’s Ladies Italian Open, the 23-year-old believes she is in good form and is hoping to carry some positive vibes.

She continued: “This golf course is in the same condition as last year. The greens are smaller, I love smaller greens on the golf course. The greens are a bit different from last week in Italy, I have to read carefully because it will be more challenging.

“I feel I am keeping up my game and going in a very good momentum. I’m super excited to play in this tournament.

“I played in the Pro-Am and putted really well, made lots of birdies. I feel there are going to be some positive vibes coming in and I’m sure I can do well and finish in the top 10 again.”

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Indian team wears black armbands in memory of former fast-bowler David Johnson

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Bridgetown, June 20 (IANS) The Indian team is wearing black armbands in memory of former fast-bowler David Johnson, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 52, during the Super Eight match against Afghanistan in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup at the Kensington Oval.

“Team India will wear black armbands today in memory of former India fast bowler David Johnson, who passed away on Thursday,” said a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), shortly after the toss was done.

Johnson was a fast bowler who played two Tests for India in 1996, taking three wickets. In domestic cricket, he picked up 125 wickets for Karnataka in 39 first-class appearances. The highlight of Johnson’s career was clocking a speed of 157.8 km/h during a Test match against Australia.

Former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble stated on X, “Saddened to hear of the passing of my cricketing colleague David Johnson. Heartfelt condolences to his family. Gone too soon, ‘Benny’!”

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“Deeply saddened by the passing of my former teammate, David Johnson. He was full of life and never gave up on the field. My thoughts are with his friends and family,” tweeted legendary India batter Sachin Tendulkar.

“Saddened by the passing away of David Johnson. May god give strength to his family and loved ones,” wrote former India opener Gautam Gambhir wrote on X.

“Deepest condolences to the family and friends of our former Indian fast bowler David Johnson. His contributions to the game will always be remembered,” tweeted BCCI Secretary Jay Shah.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Kuldeep replaces Siraj as India elect to bat first against Afghanistan

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Bridgetown, June 20 (IANS) Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav replaces fast-bowler Mohammed Siraj in India’s playing eleven as captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat first in the side’s first Super Eight match of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup against Afghanistan at the Kensington Oval on Thursday.

India have met Afghanistan eight times in men’s T20Is and have never lost to them in the format. The last time they met, India and Afghanistan were tied at 212 each at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru this year and played out two Super Overs before Rohit & Co eventually prevailed.

Kuldeep didn’t feature in India’s Group A matches in the USA due to conditions being favourable for fast bowlers. But with the expectation of spinners thriving in the West Indies as the game progresses, he is now all set to play his first T20 World Cup game.

It means India’s bowling combination consists of three spinners, three pacers, and the part-time pace of Shivam Dube. “Looks alright at this moment, looks like a good track. No grass on the pitch, I guess it will get slower. It’s better than New York. We have to adapt to the conditions quickly.”

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“We have been here for a couple of days, we have played a lot of cricket. It’s about understanding what we need to do in conditions like these. It’s an early start. Usually starts in the evening elsewhere. We enjoy playing here,” said Rohit after winning the toss.

Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan said batter Hazratullah Zazai comes into the playing eleven in place of Karim Janat. Zazai came into the Afghanistan squad as a replacement for injured spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman. “We would have liked to bat first. It’s more about how you play the game in T20s.”

“Happy with our preparations and how things have gone. We are facing good teams, need to control our emotions, and play our natural game. It does help to get used to the conditions. We have to play good cricket,” he said.

The ground dimensions are 58m and 67m square boundaries, with a 70m boundary down the ground. Afghanistan have played all four of their Group C matches in the Caribbean, while Thursday’s game will be India’s first match in the island region in the tournament.

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Playing XIs:

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan (c), Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi

–IANS

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Golf: Anvitha picks up title on her second pro start in the 8th Leg of WPGT

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Bengaluru, June 20 (IANS) Anvitha Narender, who held at least a share of the lead from the opening round completed a comprehensive seven-shot win in the eighth leg of the Women’s Pro Golf Tour (WPGT). In only her second professional tournament, the New Jersey-born golfer, who was T-8 on her debut a week earlier, shot three fine rounds in the 60s for 69-65-68 to total 8-under 210 and beat amateur Lavanya Jadon, who had a rough start, but held on for a round of 73 and finished second at 1-under 209.

Vidhatri Urs, who like Anvitha, is playing only her second pro event, shot the day’s equal best of 68 despite a finish that had a double-bogey and a bogey at the end. Vidhatri, who was T-3 last week, finished third time at even par 210 with cards of 72-70-68.

Anvitha starting the day with a two-shot lead, found herself five ahead after the first three holes despite making only three pars. Her playing partner Lavanya, who was two behind at the start, double-bogeyed the second and bogeyed the third. The third player in the lead group, Seher Atwal parred the first six holes.

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Anvitha dropped a shot on the Par-5 fourth, where Lavanya birdied for a two-shot swing. However, Anvitha fought back with birdies on the sixth and the eighth and seemingly ran away with further birdies on the 12th and the 13th. As the players found the going tough in the closing stages, Anvitha could afford bogeys on the 14th and the 17th though she had a birdie in between on the 16th.

With a final round of 68, she coasted to a comfortable seven-shot win as Lavanya had three bogeys and two birdies on the back nine.

Vidhatri after a bogey start made a charge with five birdies in the next eight holes, including three in a row from eighth to the tenth. Five pars and a birdie on the 16th put her second behind Anvitha, but a double bogey and a bogey on the last two holes dropped her to third place as Lavanya ended second with three pars at the end.

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Seher had a rough back nine with four bogeys on a tough scoring day.

Another amateur, Saanvi Somu from Bengaluru, shot 1-over 71 and was tied fourth with the experienced Seher Atwal, who dropped four bogeys in her last seven holes in a card of 3-over 73 and a total of 2-over 212.

The 2023 Hero Order of Merit winner, Sneha Singh, who had a share of the lead after the first day, began in a disastrous manner with four bogeys in her first seven holes. She had one birdie and another bogey in a round of 74 and was sixth at 6-over 216.

Gaurika Bishnoi, winner last week, also dropped shots at the tough closing holes as she finished bogey-bogey for 70 and was Tied-7th with Snigdha Goswami (74), who had four bogeys and no birdies.

Four players, Amandeep Drall (69), Jahaanvie Walia (70), Agrima Manral (71), and Rhea Jha (74), one of the co-leaders after Day 1, ended in a tie for ninth place.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: India fortunate that Barbados pitch will be too good for the clash against Afghanistan, says Manjrekar

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Bridgetown, June 20 (IANS) Former batter Sanjay Manjrekar believes the pitch at the Kensington Oval in Barbados will make India fortunate in playing there during the Super Eight clash of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup against Afghanistan, citing it being batting friendly instead of providing slow turn.

The pitches at Barbados have offered batters few joys in run-making in the World Cup, with Australia being the only team to cross the 200-run mark here. Teams winning the toss have chosen to field first in all five games at the Kensington Oval for this T20 World Cup.

“India is fortunate that they’re playing Afghanistan in Barbados where the pitch is going to be good, it’s been one of the best batting pitches and that’s where Afghanistan will be a little weak for India. If the pitch was a little tricky, slow-turning kind of pitch, then Afghanistan could have been more difficult to beat,” said Manjrekar on the ‘Caught & Bold’ show on Disney+ Hotstar.

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India have never lost to Afghanistan in men’s T20Is. India entered the Super Eights as the lone unbeaten team from Group A, while Afghanistan are in a T20 World Cup knockout stage for the first time after three big wins in Group C, before being handed a 104-run hammering by tournament co-hosts West Indies.

Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner, thinks it won’t be smooth sailing for India against an Afghanistan team constantly punching above their weight. “As India has advanced to the Super 8 stage, the stakes are higher than earlier. Facing Afghanistan in the Super-8 stage will be thrilling.”

“Their growth as a cricket-playing nation in recent years has been truly remarkable. They have some good players like Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Noor Ahmad, and a world-class spinner Rashid Khan. It will not be easy but I am confident that India will have their plans in place and will execute them perfectly. It is going to be an exciting match for sure.”

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The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 is streaming LIVE and FREE on mobile on Disney+ Hotstar.

–IANS

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