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ICC World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli reveals tactics discussed with Hardik Pandya against Australia

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Virat Kohli can switch gears seamlessly while batting but the Indian captain feels that the presence of a compulsive stroke-player like Hardik Pandya allows him to play second fiddle at times.

It’s not everyday that Kohli scored at more than run a ball, yet his 82 off 77 balls in India’s 36-run win against Australia had only four boundaries and two sixes.

He was happy running the ones and twos, save the two sixes off Mitchell Starc as Pandya was the aggressor, scoring 48 off 25 balls.

Asked if he didn’t think about shifting gears, Kohli replied in the affirmative but then spoke about change in plan.

“Okay, yeah, that thought (to start attacking) did come to my mind. After I crossed 50, I sort of spoke to Hardik and he said, I don’t necessarily need to take any chances,” the skipper said.

In fact, it was Pandya who told his captain to drop anchor as his presence gave him freedom to attack.

“Hardik said, the fact that you are at one end gives me more assurance to play my game. So, I had to take responsibility of holding it but still maintaining tempo, knocking the ball around,” the skipper said, providing some nuggets of his conversation with Pandya.

One of the reasons was not getting enough deliveries that upset his rhythm.

“And then in the last five, six overs, I think I played about six balls. So, I would play one ball in three overs and that was also single immediately. As a batsman, you can’t really get rhythm after a while. These things happen in the one-day game.”

For the skipper, it’s not a problem to swallow his champion’s ego and be the support cast if he finds that someone else is being the enforcer.

“As long as guys like Hardik and MS (Dhoni) play like that, I have no problem in just doing my job and taking singles and being at one end. Sometimes, you will get an opportunity to strike as well, and this is what we discussed as a team.

“If some guys are hitting at a certain strike rate, you make sure that you play a second fiddle and control the game because if you lose wickets — if we lost five wickets in that phase, you’re looking at 20 runs less maybe,” the skipper said, explaining his rationale behind the game plan.

The team management’s communication to the middle-order is pretty clear and the players understand the kind of situational awareness that is expected of him.

“The communication is very important, also. They understood that this is a phase where we could get those extra runs, and they just send Hardik, and I think that it was a very, very good plan,” he said.

He then provided an insight to the team’s game plan against Australia.

“If I get out then MS will come in to control that one end, and if the other guy gets out, if Shikhar got out, then Hardik would have stepped in.

“Exactly that’s what happened, and the communication came from the management that said let’s send Hardik and try and capitalise on this because last time we played here against Sri Lanka we got 330 and we lost the game,” said Kohli.

But what gave skipper confidence was Pandya’s immense self belief that he would score at strike-rate of 200.

“Hardik said to me in the middle of the fact that I’m there at one end gave him the freedom to strike from ball one, and he wanted to strike at 200. That was his plan, and then MS came in and he did the same job beautifully,” the skipper said.

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Shardul Thakur becomes first India cricketer to resume outdoor training

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Pacer Shardul Thakur on Saturday became the first India cricketer to resume outdoor training after a two-month coronavirus-forced break.

Thakur, who has featured in one Test, 11 ODIs and 15 T20s, hit a local ground at Boisar in Maharashtra’s Palghar district along with some domestic players.

The Maharashtra government has allowed the opening of stadiums for individual training in green and orange zones without spectators. This was after the home ministry offered relaxation in restrictions for the fourth phase of the lockdown till May 31.

“Yes, we practised today. It was good and definitely pleasing to practice after two months,” Thakur told PTI.

An official said that that the Palghar Dahanu Taluka Sports Association started the net sessions at Boisar, which is around 110 kms away from Mumbai.

Strict safety protocols were followed, with each bowler getting his own set of disinfected balls.

“All the safety measures were followed. The bowlers got their own balls which were disinfected and temperatures of the players who came for practise were also checked,” the official said.

Mumbai batsman Hardik Tamore, who made his Ranji debut for the domestic giants last season, was also seen training at the same ground.

“Once the guidelines from the Palghar District collector (state government) was issued concerning sports, it was always the aim to begin training process,” Mumbai Cricket Association, Council member Ajinkya Naik said.

“Due to our fantastic facility in Palghar district, we were able to facilitate much-needed training program to our esteemed players while adhering to social distancing norms and hygiene,” he added.

All sporting action in the country has been halted since March 25, when the first nationwide lockdown, to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, was announced by the central government.

Top cricketers like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, who have resorted to home workouts to keep themselves fit during the lockdown, are still waiting to resume individual training.

Only India pacer Mohammed Shami has been able to train outside, in his own farm land.

On Thursday, England’s Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes became the first set of cricketers to return to individual training at their local county grounds.

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India loses hosting rights for 2021 boxing World Championships

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New Delhi on Tuesday lost hosting rights for the 2021 men’s boxing World Championships after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) failed to pay the host fee. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) said that additionally, the BFI will now have to pay a cancellation fee of $500.

“After New Delhi didn’t fulfill its obligations to pay host fee as mentioned in the Host City Agreement terms, AIBA has terminated the contract. Therefore, India would have to pay a cancellation penalty of 500.000 USD,” said the AIBA in its statement.

The tournament has now been awarded to Belgrade, Serbia and AIBA Interim President Mohamed Moustahsane said that it will hold the World Championships after the postponed Tokyo Olympics next year.

“Because of rescheduling of the Olympic 2020, AIBA Executive Committee will discuss with the host country possible dates to adjust. We believe that we will keep the planned timeframe and conduct World Championships in 2021 after the Games if the pandemic situation is under control. As soon as it is fixed, this will help our boxers to plan preparation for next year properly,” said Moustahsane.

India was awarded the hosting rights in July 2017. However, it has since run into troubled waters with the AIBA with the latter first saying that it will “re-open the bidding process for the 2021 men’s World boxing championships due to take place in India” in November 2018 after Kosovo boxer Donjeta Sadiku was excluded from the 2018 women’s World boxing championships that was held in the country due to visa issues.

In February 2020, it was reported that the AIBA had sent a legal notice to the BFI for not paying boxers who participated in the 2019 Indian Open and a reminder for the BFI to pay its hosting fees for the 2021 World Championships.

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COVID-19: IPL under threat as India suspends all visas till April15

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The Indian government has suspended all visas till April 15 due to a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the last two weeks. According to the latest data available, sixty-seven people in the country have tested positive for the virus, which has spread over 100 countries, killed over 4,5000, and a major chunk of them are tourists from Italy.

The second meeting of the Group of Ministers on Wednesday cancelled all visas, except for a few official categories, in the wake of the growing coronavirus.

The visa advisory from the Indian government has made it almost impossible for foreign players to join their respective teams in time as the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off on March 29. The foreign players have to remain out of India until April 15 and they can join in time only if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) gets special permission.

It is to note that the foreign players are booked on business visas and in such a scenario the fresh advisory sent out by the government on Wednesday says that they won’t be allowed entry till April 15.

However, the BCCI is yet to announce its call on the issue and the Indian Premier League governing council, meanwhile, will meet on March 14 to come to terms.

Notably, the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday was declared a “pandemic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose chief expressed his “deep concern” over the “alarming levels of inaction” in combating the virus spread.

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