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'Don't get the same buzz': Zampa keen to prioritise internationals over T20 leagues

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Sydney, May 26 (IANS) Australia’s leg-spinner Adam Zampa said he would like to prioritise playing international cricket as he doesn’t get the same level of buzz when featuring in various T20 franchise leagues around the world.

Zampa was due to play for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024, but pulled out of the competition due to fatigue reasons. After last playing international cricket in February, Zampa will be seen in action for Australia in the upcoming men’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA from June 1.

“I’ve really come to love playing for Australia. I always loved it, but playing under Dan Vettori, Andrew McDonald and Pat and Mitch as captains, it is just so enjoyable. I make good money playing for Australia and I would love to prioritise playing for Australia and being with my family.”

“I don’t get enough out of franchise cricket. It’s great for certain aspects of your life, and it can be really enjoyable, but it’s not like being in the Aussie dressing room, not for me anyway. I don’t get the same buzz out of it,” said Zampa to ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.

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The leg-spinner revealed he had thoughts about being a globe-trotting T20 leagues player, but is now content with not being part of that bandwagon. “There’s always a lot of chat about ‘can you play franchise cricket all year round’ and it was something I had thought about – at what age do I get through to try to then play a bit of franchise cricket.”

“But after 2023 and winning the World Cup and all that, and having a young family now as well, I’ve realised I want to play cricket for as long as I can, and instead of trying to play for nine or 10 months of the year, it’s play for six or seven,” he added.

Australia will play its 2024 men’s T20 World Cup games in Trinidad and then Barbados where Zampa will reunite with left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar, who was in the squad during the side’s triumphant campaign in the 2021 edition in the UAE (but played just one game). Agar also missed Australia’s 2023 men’s ODI World Cup title-winning run in India due to a calf injury.

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“I feel like there’s a little bit of unfinished business. Ash missed out on the last World Cup, he didn’t play during the World Cup we won in Dubai, and I really think this is his World Cup to put his stamp on.”

“I think the wickets are going to suit him, and I think he can play a major role. We feed off each other, we make each other train better, we think about the game a lot more when we’re around each other. So it’s great to have him back,” added Zampa.

He signed off by saying leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is a big future prospect for Australia. Sangha was in contention to be a travelling reserve for Australia until he suffered a hip flexor injury during a training camp in Brisbane.

“He’s had a lot of niggles and injuries in the last couple of years that he’s found it hard to get any continuous cricket in, but he’s years ahead of where I was at his age. Even now, I think ‘I wish I could do that’ and ‘I wish I had that part of his bowling’. He’s really smart and certainly going to have a long career for Australia.”

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“I’m pretty glad that I’m 10 years older than him, not five because I feel like there’d be a time where I’d be in the classifieds (looking for a new job). I’m 32 now and the way things are going, hopefully I get a bit more time playing for Australia – but I won’t be 38 and trying to hold on because I know Tanveer is going to be pretty special,” concluded Zampa.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: If we don't win, we're going to be disappointed, says Kane

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Gelsenkirchen (Germany), June 16 (IANS) England captain Harry Kane said he wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than the Euro 2024 title.

England will enter the competition as one of the tournament favourites alongside France. They will start the campaign against Serbia on Monday (12:30 AM IST).

“We all want to be remembered to have won a major tournament with England – not just to have had good campaigns – so we know it is something to respect and be proud of, and to keep pushing ourselves,” BBC Sport quoted Kane as saying.

“If we don’t win, we’re going to be disappointed,” he added.

England finished as runners-up in the last edition of the continental showpiece after losing to Italy on penalties in the final.

Kane said his side is ready to face tough challenges in the competition in pursuit of the title.

“As much as you can be unlucky and go out on penalties, we really want to win and start winning as a national team because we have been taking steps towards this moment. It is going to be tough, we know that, but we’re ready for the challenge.”

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He admitted the pressure of wearing the Three Lions jersey and representing the country on the global stage.

“It’s not easy to play for England, first and foremost – even harder to get into the major tournaments.

“It’s a proud achievement because I think it shows consistency, good work ethic, professionalism, and to be able to make yourself available for all the tournaments is not always easy,” he added.

–IANS

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Ocon reflects on valuable lessons from Hamilton as he eyes future in F1

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) As Esteban Ocon prepares to depart Alpine at the end of the season, the French racer has shared insightful reflections on his time working alongside seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Ocon’s journey, marked by highs and lows, has been deeply intertwined with the Brackley-based Mercedes squad, where he was a junior team member, GP3 titleholder, and later the F1 team’s reserve driver in 2019.

In a conversation with the High Performance Podcast, Ocon opened up about the moments that left him “amazed” while working with Hamilton. This period followed a challenging phase for Ocon, who lost his seat at Force India after the 2018 season but found solace and learning opportunities at Mercedes. Now, as he navigates his fifth and final season with Alpine, Ocon’s career management by Mercedes keeps him linked to the powerhouse team.

Reflecting on his time as Mercedes’ reserve driver, Ocon shared how Hamilton’s dedication and professionalism stood out beyond his natural talent. “I remember Lewis coming from different marketing events and all these things in a race weekend – Lewis is a very busy man,” Ocon recounted. “Apart from racing, that’s some of the differences compared to some drivers who are more focused on the racetrack. Seeing how he switches his focus from one thing to another amazed me. He was straight away on point, back with his engineer after something completely different.”

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What impressed Ocon the most was Hamilton’s ability to seamlessly transition between his numerous off-track commitments and the intense focus required for racing. Hamilton’s meticulous approach, including maintaining paper boards with notes, left a lasting impact on Ocon. “He always had his paper boards with notes and he was always having notes not to forget things from one year to another, or one session to another. This is what I do as well now.”

Admitting that he had never taken notes before observing Hamilton, Ocon now follows a similar practice, storing meticulous notes on his phone for his engineers. “Performance meetings, problems to fix, all of the points that we have to go through that I’ve put basically as an example,” Ocon explained. “If I don’t write them at the exact moment that I’m going to come out of the car, I will not remember exactly or they’re going to be much more vague.”

Ocon’s adoption of Hamilton’s strategies underscores the profound influence the champion has had on his career. “If I go to a marketing event and then come back and I’m like, ‘I had something very interesting, but I don’t remember it,’ imagine how much that would cost basically – to us, to our performance.”

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–IANS

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More than hundred, happy that India got above 260, says Mandhana after smashing 117

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) After smashing a fantastic 117 against South Africa in the ODI series opener at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday, India vice-captain Smriti Mandhana said more than her century, she was happy over lifting the side to a total over 260.

Smriti smashed 117 off 127 balls, her sixth century in the format, to take India to 265/8 on a slightly sluggish Bengaluru pitch. Her knock, also her first ton in India, was laced with 12 fours and a six. This is just the second time Smriti scored a century against South Africa, with the first instance coming in 2018 when she hit 135 at Kimberley.

“I knew I hadn’t scored a century in India, but that didn’t come in my mind when I was batting. More than the hundred, happy we got to 260+. If we stick to our plans, we should be able to do well,” said Smriti to broadcasters in the mid-innings break.

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India were reduced to 99/5 at one stage after electing to bat first. But Smriti’s gritty and composed century, along with supporting knocks from Deepti Sharma (37) and Pooja Vastrakar (31) helped India get a great total on board.

“It was a little two-paced wicket. It wasn’t a bad wicket. I think the odd ball was keeping low, the odd ball was rising. Was important to play according to the merit. Deepti and I kept telling each other to take it till the 35th over in singles and twos. Five or six runs per over was on because they had spread the field,” she added.

Smriti also revealed about the preparation undertaken to play ODIs after last playing the format in January through a home series against Australia. “Playing ODI cricket after a long time, in the nets, it was hard to keep my shots under control. After playing T20 cricket like we have for the last 5-6 months, it’s hard to control your shots. Last 7-8 days, the focus has been to keep the ball on the ground. We had a really good batting camp in Mumbai.”

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–IANS

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1st ODI: Mandhana's fantastic 117 helps India post 265/8 against South Africa

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) Vice-captain Smriti Mandhana slammed a fantastic 117 off 121 balls, her sixth century in ODIs, as India posted 265/8 against South Africa in the series opener at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.

On a slightly sluggish pitch which offered variable bounce, seam movement and spin, India were reduced to 99/5 at one stage after electing to bat first. But Smriti stood tall, played her shots all over the park and even kept cramps at bay to keep India’s innings together with utmost discipline, control and remarkable composure.

In the process of bailing India out of trouble, Smriti brought up her first ODI century at home, laced with 12 fours and a six, to enthrall an enthusiastic Sunday crowd. She was also well-supported by knocks from Deepti Sharma (37) and Pooja Vastrakar (31) as India crossed 250-mark.

For South Africa, pacer Ayabonga Khaka took 3-47 while Masabata Klass starred with 2-51 in a bowling attack which didn’t have Marizanne Kapp, who is playing as a specialist batter in the game due to workload management following a minor back injury.

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Smriti started off the proceedings with back-to-back beautiful drives off Masabata, but saw Shafali Verma being lured into an expansive drive off Ayabonga and nicked behind to a diving Sinalo Jafta. Dayalan Hemalatha’s promotion to number three didn’t last long as she miscued to mid-off against Nonkululeko Mlaba.

Though Smriti nailed her pulls off debutante Annerie Dercksen, India continued to lose wickets as captain Harmanpreet Kaur chipped to extra cover and give the seamer her maiden international wicket. It was followed by a returning Jemimah Rodrigues slog-sweeping to mid-wicket off Nondumiso Shangase and Richa Ghosh nicking behind off Ayabonga.

Smriti got a good applause from the crowd when she reached her fifty in 61 balls and brought up the fifty of her partnership with Deepti through a well-timed pull going for four. Deepti began nailing her sweeps off Nondumiso from the other end, followed by Smriti lofting and sweeping her for boundaries to keep India in the hunt for posting a competitive total.

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But against the run of play, Deepti chopped on to her stumps off Ayabonga. Smriti, though, was undeterred, swiping and lofting to get a four and six off Masabata, before reaching the three-figure mark in 116 balls with a gentle flick going for a single.

She hit two more boundaries off Ayabonga, before holing out to deep square leg off a slower ball from Masabata, and fall for 117, with the crowd giving her a standing ovation on scoring her seventh ton in women’s international cricket.

Apart from being the second India women’s batter to cross the landmark of 7000 international runs, Smriti also overtook Mithali Raj’s 109 against West Indies in 2011 to claim the new record for the highest ODI score by an Indian batter in women’s ODIs.

Pooja smashed three boundaries in her unbeaten knock and along with debutante Asha Sobhana hitting a four, she ensured India posted a fairly good total and challenge South Africa’s batters in chasing it down.

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Brief Scores: India 265/8 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 117, Deepti Sharma 37; Ayabonga Khaka 3-47, Masabata Klass 2-51) against South Africa

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Jaffer backs Rohit, Kohli to continue opening for India in Super 8

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Former India cricketer Wasim Jaffer has voiced his support for maintaining India’s opening batting pair of Virat Kohli and captain Rohit Sharma in the Super Eight stage of the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Despite their lacklustre start in the tournament, Jaffer believes that the experienced duo will regain their form in the Super 8 fixtures, starting with their crucial match against Afghanistan in Barbados on June 20.

Jaffer’s remarks come at a time when Kohli and Rohit have struggled to find their footing in the tournament. Kohli, who entered the World Cup riding high on his scintillating form in the IPL 2024, has managed only five runs across three innings. His highest score was a mere four runs against Pakistan. Similarly, Rohit has amassed just 68 runs in his three outings, with a single notable knock of 52 against Ireland.

Speaking to Star Sports, Jaffer underscored the importance of sticking with the seasoned pair despite their recent struggles. “Now that you are stuck with both of them, I don’t think it’s gonna make sense because you’re gonna split both of them up,” Jaffer explained.

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“You might probably think of playing Yashasvi Jaiswal. That’s probably what you’re thinking, and then Rishabh Pant, who has done so well at number three, he has to bat even lower down the order, probably at number four. Then where does Suryakumar Yadav bat? So it’s going to mess up the whole batting order, so I think they’ll probably stick with that.”

Jaffer emphasised that reshuffling the batting order could lead to further complications, disrupting the roles of key players like Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav. Pant, who has been effective at number three, and Yadav, who thrives higher up the order, could find their contributions hampered by such changes.

“Rishabh has done well at number three. Suryakumar, you don’t want to bat him any lower than that, so I think they’ll stick with that. But yeah, they have to go really hard in the powerplay. We’ve seen when Australia have done that against England, they were so ahead in the powerplay, getting that 74 runs. That’s where you can make a mark. So Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the way they are batting, you could see that happen in the powerplay in West Indies.”

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India’s qualification to the Super Eight was sealed with a convincing seven-wicket win against co-hosts USA. As they prepare to face an in-form Afghanistan in their first match in the Caribbean, Men in Blue’s confidence in Kohli and Sharma’s ability to bounce back will be a crucial factor in their strategy.

–IANS

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