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Sachin Tendulkar picks his favourite for the ICC World Cup

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Sachin Tendulkar has no hesitation in terming India as favourites going into the World Cup but what makes him happier is the team’s ability to be competitive “in any part of the world and on any surface”.

The Indian ODI team under Virat Kohli has won three bilateral away series against South Africa (5-1), Australia (2-1) and New Zealand (4-1) with only defeat coming against England.

“I have gone on record saying that we have a perfect balance in the team where we will be competitive in any part of the world or on any surface,” Tendulkar told PTI in an interview on Sunday.

“As far as our chances are concerned, I will not hesitate in saying that we are the favourites,” said Tendulkar, the brand ambassador of the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Kolkata Full Marathon.

New Zealand may have been outplayed in the just concluded ODI series but can prove to be a handful in the mega event.

“I know New Zealand have struggled in this series but it’s a good unit, one needs to be on their toes,” he said.

The suspended duo of Steve Smith and David Warner will be back in international fold on March 29 and Australia will be as dangerous as any other team.

“I think Australia at full strength will be a formidable side. With Smith and David Warner back in the team and their other bowlers coming back into the ODI squad, it will be a competitive side,” said Tendulkar. But a few bad overs could spell doom for them as it happened during the recent series.

“But in one-day matches it’s such that when you have a couple of bad hours, 50 per cent of the match gets slipped away.” In Kolkata for marathon flag off, Tendulkar spoke about the young athletes who have done well for the nation in recent times.

He hailed the recent success of women athletes like Hima Das, Dutee Chand and Swapna Barman at the Asian Games and said sport has proved to be an excellent tool for women empowerment.

He referred to India’s Rio Olympics 2016 performance where India had won only two medals, both of them by women – wrestler Sakshi Malik (bronze) and PV Sindhu (silver) in badminton.

“It’s been fantastic through sports. Now for a number of years we have seen women have brought glory to our nation. I see parents being more flexible in their thought process now. It’s not just about becoming a doctor, a lawyer or engineer. There are a multiple things you can do today,” the cricket icon said. “That’s how it should be. It’s great for India. I always believed that the platforms provided for both men and women should be equal. This starts from grassroots level. It should start right from the bottom and from thereon there should be equal opportunities for both,” he said. Tendulkar went on to fondly remember his childhood coach Ramakant Achrekar who passed away at the age of 87 last month.

“I hate using this ‘was’ word that comes to him. Losing Achrekar Sir will always be a permanent void. It was wonderful time with him, that is how I would want to remember him. Wherever I’m in my life right now it’s because of him and my family members. He was like family,” he signed off.

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Virat Kohli absolutely not what you see on the cricket field, says Adam Zampa

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Indian captain Virat Kohli maybe competitive and even antagonistic at times to his opponents on the field but he is a different person altogether off it, said Australian spinner Adam Zampa.

After years of facing Kohli as an opponent, Zampa got to see what it is like sharing a dressing room with the 32-year-old right-hand batsman in the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL), where Zampa played under Kohli’s captaincy with the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“He’s absolutely not what you see on the cricket field,” Zampa is quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. “He always brings his intensity to training and the game; he loves competition, he hates losing as much as anyone. He probably shows it more than anyone.”

“Once he’s off the park, he’s the most chilled guy. He’s watching YouTube clips on the bus, he’ll laugh out loud. There was a cricket clip recently from cricket.com.au, there was a funny run out, he was laughing about it for three weeks’ straight. He loves holding onto jokes like that.”

Zampa said that Kohli had messaged him on WhatApp in his first day with RCB. “Zamps, here’s the $15 off voucher at a vegan restaurant from Deliveroo,” it read. “It’s a really good restaurant.”

“It was the first day I arrived [and] he WhatsApped me,” said Zampa. “I didn’t have his number. He made it as if we’ve known each other forever.”

Zampa has had considerable success against Kohli in limited overs cricket, dismissing the Indian captain seven times but he points out the fact that he has also conceded a lot of runs.

“I’ve got him out seven times, but they’re at a good click; the economy is well and truly over six runs per over as well. It’ll be interesting now we’re closer,” he said.

The pair will face each other again when India’s tour of Australia begins later this month with a three-match ODI and T20I series.

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I am healthy and happy, heart is working good: Kapil Dev after successful angioplasty

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Weeks after spending in hospital undergoing angioplasty, former India cricket captain Kapil Dev on Friday confirmed that he is recovering well and that “his heart is working good.”

Last month, the 1983 World Cup winning captain had suffered a cardiac arrest and subsequently underwent an angioplasty at a private hospital in New Delhi.

“Happy Dipawali to everybody and I hope this year brings lots and lots of happiness to everybody. Thanks for your wishes. I am healthy and happy. Heart is working good but I want to wish everybody lots and lots of happiness around the world,” India’s first World Cup-winning captain said in a video posted on his official Twitter handle.

On Thursday, the 61-year-old got back to the golf course after 20 days of the surgery and shared a video playing the sport with his friends at the Delhi Golf Club.

“You cannot express in words what fun it is to be back on the golf course or a cricket ground. It is beautiful to be back at the golf course, having fun and playing with friends. That’s what life is all about,” Kapil said in the video.

Kapil held the world record for most Test wickets (434) for over six years until it was broken by Courtney Walsh of the West Indies. The other big achievement of Kapil was to lead India to World Cup triumph in 1983, when the team was considered minnows in limited-overs cricket. He played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs between 1978 and 1994.

Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, a photo was shared in which in which the legendary all-rounder is seen flashing a double thumbs up sign from his hospital bed.

In the photo, 61-year-old Kapil’s daughter Amiya is also seen sitting on a chair beside his hospital bed smiling while he is posing for the camera. Kapil, according to a bulletin from Fortis-Escorts Heart Institute Hospital in south Delhi on Friday, was in the Intensive Care Unit and would be discharged in a couple of days.

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Australia will ‘quite easily’ win Border-Gavaskar trophy in absence of Virat Kohli: Michael Vaughan

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Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes that Australia will “quite easily” win the upcoming four-match Test series against India in the absence of Virat Kohli from the opposite camp.

“No Virat Kohli for three Tests in Australia…The right decision going to be at the birth of his first child…but it means Australia will win the series quite easily IMO .. #JustSaying,” Vaughan said in a tweet.

The first Test at Adelaide will be India’s first day-nigt Test outside home soil. It will also be skipper Virat Kohli’s only appearance in all-whites in Australia this time as he would return to India on a paternity leave after the opener.

Kohli had already informed the BCCI about his wish to return to India to unite with his wife Anushka Sharma. They are expecting their first child in January next year.

Kohli will, however, feature in three ODIs and as many T20Is which will be played before the first Test — a pink-ball fixture — of which the Indian skipper will be a part of.

India’s tour of Australia will kick off with the ODI series from November 27. It will be followed by the three-match T20I series from December 4 before the Virat Kohli-led team begins the title defence of the Border-Gavaskar trophy with the pink-ball Test in Adelaide from December 17.

It will be followed by Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26), the Sydney Cricket Ground (January 7) and the Gabba (January 15).

Meanwhile, the players of the Indian cricket team left directly from the United Arab Emirates after participating in the 13the season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) there. Team India were seen PPE kits in images shared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

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