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A month in England will help Indian cricket team do better in Tests: Zaheer

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Mumbai:Former pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who claimed 18 wickets in three Tests to fashion Indian cricket team’s historic series win in England in 2007, believes that starting this year’s England tour with T20s and ODIs would help Virat Kohli and Co. perform well in the ensuing Test series.

India will play three T20s and three ODIs starting July 3 before taking on the hosts in a five-Test series that starts at Edgbaston on August 1. Zaheer believes this period of almost a month will be enough for Kohli and his boys to acclimatise with the conditions, he said while unveiling the trophy of Pro Star League, an under-16 cricket tournament in Mumbai.

He also pointed out that the month of July and August are the best months to play cricket in England and it is something that should help India.

 

“In England, weather is not consistent. So, you have to be always in the right frame of mind and ensure you don’t get affected. July and August, I think, are the best months as it is going to be quite sunny and not overcast all the time,” said the former left-arm pacer whose match haul of 9/134 had delivered India a memorable seven-wicket win over England in Nottingham in 2007.

On the question of whether more Indian players should play county cricket to prepare for England series, Khan said it should be left to the discretion of players. “Most of them have played cricket in England and they are aware of the conditions. It’s up to them what they want to do.”

Zaheer, who in many ways heralded an age of pace bowling in Indian cricket, felt ecstatic to see a new crop of young pacers doing well. “IPL is a great platform to get noticed. It’s great to see a lot of young Indian pace bowlers performing well. We have already got some very good quick bowlers playing international cricket. And new faces doing well will add to our bench strength,” he said.

Regarded as one of the best exponents of swing bowling in his playing days, Zaheer also expressed happiness with the way young bowlers are executing the knuckle ball in IPL.

“As a bowler, you have to be at the top of the game and innovate. The advantage of knuckle ball is that batsmen find it very hard to pick. A lot of bowlers, therefore, had success with it. I also had some success with it despite the fact that I started bowling it only towards the end of my career.

“It is a great asset for pacers especially in T20s where batsmen are looking to play big shots. Because of speed variation, batsmen often end up skying the ball,” the 39-year-old said

Zaheer, who was considered a late bloomer as he started playing professional cricket only when he turned 18, said there is no best age to start cricket and if one has dedication, one can make it big.

“Once you are ready to sacrifice certain things and work hard to achieve a goal, you will do that. You, though, would need right kind of guidance and exposure at early age and then you can work towards your goal in a more efficient way. Just have passion and determination and nothing can stop you,” he concluded.


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Punjab fall short again

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Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.

On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.

 

Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.

However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.

After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.

Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.

Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.

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Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC

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Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.

The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.

The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.

 

“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.

“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.

Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.

“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.

“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.

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MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton

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London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.

Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.

 

Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.

Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.

United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.

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