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IPL 2024: 'They opened for Australia…', says Ganguly on DC's opting for Warner, Marsh as opening pair vs PBKS

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Jaipur, March 28 (IANS) Director of Cricket for Delhi Capitals Sourav Ganguly shed light on the rationale behind Delhi Capitals (DC) opting for an all-Australian opening combination of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, sidelining the opener Prithvi Shaw, in their tournament opener against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in IPL 2024.

Marsh partnering Warner at the top against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in their season opener in Mullanpur, raised eyebrows, as many were surprised by the omission of Prithvi Shaw despite his retention in the team prior to the mini-auction in December.

“Prithvi Shaw is an opener. We decided to open with Marsh and Warner and Ricky Bhui is a middle-order batter. So, they bat at different positions. So it’s actually not Bhui for sure. It’s a different opening combination, they opened for Australia and they have done well together. So, we decided to do that,” Ganguly told the reporters ahead of DC’ match against Rajasthan Royals.

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Despite initial success with Warner and Marsh providing a brisk start against Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals faced challenges in maintaining momentum in the latter stages of the innings, ultimately posting a modest total of 174.

Ganguly also addressed concerns regarding Shaw’s limited involvement in pre-season preparations, attributing his absence to injury setbacks and commitments to Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy campaign. Acknowledging Shaw’s promising County Championship stint cut short by injury, Ganguly emphasized the importance of players’ fitness and prior commitments, which impacted their availability for pre-season training camps.

“To be honest, we did not get much of Prithvi Shaw in the camp. Unfortunately, he was injured for a long time. After he went to England for the county stint in Northamptonshire where he played exceptionally well and tore his ligament in the knee, we couldn’t get him till February. After he came back to fitness, he played Ranji Trophy.

“I remember we set up a four-day training camp with him, but then, the NCA announced him fit and then he went on to play Ranji Trophy. You can’t take anybody away from Ranji Trophy and put in an IPL camp. And then Mumbai won the tournament, and he played till the last day of the tournament. He played till 14th and then joined the camp.

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“So I honestly didn’t get Prithvi. But, got a lot of others, Khaleel, Abishek Porel, Ricky Bhui, Kumar Kushagra, Ishant Sharma, we got them together for a couple of times. We only had that much time to work with them,” Ganguly said.

Despite Shaw’s underwhelming performances in previous IPL seasons, Delhi Capitals retained faith in the young opener and retained him ahead of the 17th season.

Delhi Capitals will face Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur on Thursday.

–IANS

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Maharashtra's Samad Fallah announces retirement from professional cricket

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Samad Fallah, Maharashtra’s highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy history, has officially announced his retirement from professional cricket. The left-arm swing bowler concluded a distinguished career that saw him claim 272 Ranji wickets and 287 first-class wickets overall in 78 matches at an average of 28.48.

Fallah also made significant contributions in limited-overs cricket, taking 75 List-A wickets and 62 in T20s. His defining moment came in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in March 2010, where he played a pivotal role in delivering Maharashtra their only senior-level silverware since the 1940-41 season, with a match-winning four-wicket haul.

In an Instagram video post featuring Fallah’s distinguished career, Fallah expressed his gratitude and reflected on his journey: “Retirement is not an easy identity. but had accepted it a couple of years back. Announcing it is formality… from not playing any age group to taking a fiver on debut and becoming the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for my Maharashtra. this state has given me my identity… winning the Mushtaq Ali trophy finals by taking a 4-fer to take 10 wickets in semifinals of Ranji Trophy semifinals… Thank you, MCA for trusting me.. I gave my all and (am) so happy. I have played most BCCI finals for Maharashtra.. and will still be with my MCA till I win Trophies for my state. I say goodbye to my bowling which is the most amazing gift I had… Thank You all.”

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Fallah’s last official match was a Vijay Hazare Trophy game for Uttarakhand in March 2021. After moving to Uttarakhand for the 2020-21 season, he returned to Maharashtra. He made himself available for selection in all three formats but did not get another opportunity to resume his career.

Now 39, Fallah has taken on the role of head coach for the Nashik Titans in the Maharashtra Premier League and has decided to make his retirement official.

Having never played representative age-group cricket, he made his mark through eye-catching performances in tennis-ball tournaments, eventually breaking into club cricket. At 22, Fallah made his debut for Maharashtra, immediately making an impact with a match-winning second-innings six-wicket haul against Himachal Pradesh in November 2007.

Fallah quickly established himself as the leader of Maharashtra’s bowling attack, consistently taking over 20 wickets in every Ranji season from 2007-08 to 2014-15. His peak years saw Maharashtra build one of the best seam attacks in Indian domestic cricket, with Fallah, Anupam Sanklecha, Domnic Muthuswami, and Shrikant Mundhe driving the team to the Ranji final in 2013-14 and the semi-finals in 2014-15. One of his career highlights was the semifinal in Indore in January 2014, where he captured 7 for 58 on the first morning, helping bowl Bengal out for 114.

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At the time of his retirement, Fallah ranks as the second-highest wicket-taker among left-arm fast bowlers in Ranji Trophy history, with only Jaydev Unadkat (316) ahead of him.

–IANS

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Tennis: Rutuja Bhosale and Fangran clinch dominant victory at ITF W35 Tauste

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Indian tennis star Rutuja Bhosale, in partnership with China’s Fangran Tian, won the doubles competition in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Women’s 35,000 (ITF W35) tournament in Tauste in Spain on Saturday.

The formidable duo secured the title with a straight sets triumph over the third-seeded pair, Alana Parnaby of Australia and Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico, with a final score of 6-2, 6-4.

From the very first serve, they exerted their dominance, quickly taking control of the match and never allowing their opponents a chance to recover. Their decisive victory highlighted their ability to remain composed under pressure and execute strategic plays at critical moments.

This victory marks Bhosale’s third doubles title of the year, adding to her impressive wins at the W50 Wuning and W75 Fukuoka tournaments.

–IANS

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Bhatia tied 2nd with Scheffler as they trail Korean star Tom Kim in Travelers golf

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Cromwell, June 22 (IANS) Akshay Bhatia stayed in the group tied at second place in the US$20 million Travelers Championship as Korea’s Tom Kim (65) retained his first round two-stroke lead on Friday.

Kim celebrated his 22nd birthday in style by firing a 5-under 65 and remaining bogey-free for a second straight day.

Indian American Bhatia, who shot 64 on the first day, added a 65 with seven birdies and two bogeys. He birdied twice in the first three holes and added further birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth and then 15th and 17th. A bogey on fifth was his first dropped shot and the next came on 18th.

Another Indian American Sahith Theegala (69-67) was T-24.

He said, “It was great. I hit a lot of quality shots. I got up-and-down when I needed to, other than 18, but other than that I played good. The wind was supposed to be out of the south and it was northeast the majority of the day, so it was pretty interesting how that came about.”

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“I’m playing great. I mean, this is why I’m playing, this is seven in a row for me, I just want to keep building on good golf and kind of learning as I go. I feel like I’ve been working really hard on my technique especially this week, and I feel like my coach and I have found a feel that works, so we’re just kind of trying to build on that and focus on that as much as I can,” added Bhatia.

He went on, “There’s so many trees guarding you, like 10, 11, 12, 13, it is really hot during that stretch. I mean you can’t feel a breath of wind. So when you’re standing over, or you’re waiting for your opponent to putt, you’re dying. So, it’s definitely extreme, but it also makes the golf course a little easier.”

Seeking a fourth PGA TOUR victory, the hugely-talented Kim continued his impressive form at TPC River Highlands to reach a career-low 36-hole score of 13-under 127 as he kept his nose ahead of close friend and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (64), Collin Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65) who sit in tied second place on 129.

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Compatriot Sungjae Im hit a 64 to move up to tied sixth on nine-under, four back, in what is the eighth and final Signature event of the 2024 PGA TOUR season.

Leader Kim said, “I’ve been playing really, really solid. It’s not about this week, it’s about keeping building these momentum blocks for the rest of the season,” explained Kim, who is competing in his eighth successive week on TOUR.

His round was highlighted by five birdies over his first 10 holes, before his game cooled off down the home stretch. Not only was Kim’s ball-striking laser-like where he missed only one fairway and one green, his putting was equally impressive where he nailed three birdie putts from between 13 to 16 feet. If Kim secures victory on Sunday, he will become the first Asian winner in the tournament’s history, eclipsing K.J. Choi’s joint runner-up finish in 2014.

He attributed his strong run of form to the extra time spent on the range, even after his sublime first-round performance where he fired a season’s low of 62.

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He is under no illusion that maintaining his advantage will be easy with the quality of the chasing pack, led by Scheffler who also celebrated his 28th birthday on Friday.

After struggling for most of the season, with a tied fourth at the RBC Canadian Open being his only top-10 earlier this month, Kim stressed the importance of maintaining his form not just for this week, but for the remainder of the season with the FedExCup Playoffs looming, plus the Olympic Games and Presidents Cup on the horizon as well.

–IANS

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It is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo: Paul Clement

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Cristiano Ronaldo has always been perceived as one of the best in the world but many believe that the striker is not an easy person to work with. Former assistant manager of Real Madrid Paul Clement has debunked all rumors and stated that ‘it is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo.’

“It was a privilege to share a dressing room with him, it is very easy to coach Cristiano Ronaldo. I cannot remember anybody who was a better professional; the demands he puts on himself, the aim for perfection, to improve every day,” said Paul Clement to The Athletic.

Clement was a valuable part of Jose Mourinho’s staff during his time at Real Madrid and went on to reveal how important a player of his capability is for any side.

“A player like Cristiano is always different but, with Jose, the team was always above everybody. There were moments when Cristiano scored goals, as he always did, but there were also moments when Jose and the team knew they needed to defend. And Cristiano was the first who defended, too. You have to make him see that, apart from all the goals he scores, there are other moments when you need to do certain tactical things,” added Clement.

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Cristiano Ronaldo joined Los Galacticos in 2009 and went on to produce perhaps the greatest stint by any player at the best club in the world. He played 438 games with the club and scored 450 goals and 131 assists whilst winning four UEFA Champions League trophy and two La Liga titles.

“After a game, it’s 4 am and I turn around and there’s Cristiano, pulling Pepe and Fabio Coentrao towards the main building: ‘We’re going for an ice bath’. It’s 4 am and not only is he doing it, he’s getting others to participate as well. It’s ultra-professional. These are the things he does, over and over,” he concluded.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: When we control the powerplay, we come out on top, says Chase

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Bridgetown (Antigua), June 22 (IANS) West Indies spinner Roston Chase credited his side for the better execution in the powerplay overs against the USA after a thumping nine-wicket win in the T20 World Cup Super Eight match.

West Indies won the toss and opted to bowl first. Chase and Andre Russell bagged three wickets each while Alzarri Joseph claimed two dismissals to bundle out the USA for 128 in 19.5 overs. Chase was awarded Player of the Match for his 3-19 figures in four overs.

In reply, Shai Hope hammered unbeaten 82* off 39 balls including eight sixes and four fours to take the side over the line in just 10.5 overs. Chase asserted that their powerplay dominance in batting set the foundation for the big win at Kensington Oval.

“I just think that most of the times when we control the power play, whether batting or bowling, that’s when we come out on top. In the last game when we lost to England, we struggled in that period after the power play. We spoke about that, and the guys came out and executed it well today,” Chase said.

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“I mean, it was only probably four overs outside of the power play, we finished it kind of quick. But I think that that’s the main focus because we know in the end we have the power at the end.

“So, it’s just for us to control that power play with the batting and our bowling, and then for us in the batting to keep the momentum going to that seven to 15 period where we fell down horribly against England,” he added.

After the win against the USA, the Windies have supported their chances of sealing a semi-final berth and will take on South Africa in their final Super Eight match on Monday.

In the last three-match T20I series against the Proteas in May, the Caribbean team clean swept the contest 3-0. However, Chase remains cautious ahead of the encounter and stressed on the present situation as South Africa are unbeaten in the tournament.

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“Obviously, there would have been two different teams, us, and South Africa, have different players in the World Cup. But this is a different series now. This is the big World Cup.”

“And obviously, they have stronger players in their setup as well. They haven’t lost a match as yet in the World Cup. They will be high on confidence. But it’s just for us to go there, put that series behind us, put every game that we’ve played so far behind us, and just focus on that one to come,” said the spinner.

Chase said they will not leave any stone unturned to put up a strong fight against them to seal semis spot.

“We’re going to be coming hard. So, we’ll collide, and whoever’s the strongest, I think, will win. So, it’s just for us, as I say, to just go there and give it your all. As I say, it’s a win-win situation,” Chase said.

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“You can’t lose, so it doesn’t make any sense going up there and fooling around. I mean, put the focus. Find a way to just put that focus in whatever you have to do, whether it be batting, bowling, fielding. Just go there and zone in. And obviously, too, the main thing is to enjoy,” he added.

–IANS

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