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Clinical India beat New Zealand in 2nd T20I to level series

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Mumbai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni watched from across the pitch as his heir apparent Rishabh Pant showed spunk and style in a tricky situation, guiding India to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against New Zealand in the second T20 International in Auckland on Friday.

The chase was set up by skipper Rohit Sharma (50 off 29 balls) in the company of Shikhar Dhawan (30, 31 balls) with a 79-run stand after Krunal Pandya got three wickets to restrict the hosts to 158/8.

Dhoni, the original master finisher couldn’t have been happier as he saw Pant control what could have been a tricky 159-run chase with an unbeaten 40 off 28 balls. The series is now tied 1-1 with the decider in Hamilton on Sunday.

 

With the former India captain (20 no off 17 balls) playing the role of a mentor at the other end, the 44-run stand was very significant as Indian cricket slowly moves towards a change of guard in the coming days.

Pant’s one-handed six off Tim Southee or the bowler’s back drive off Scott Kuggeleijn to finish off the match were reminiscent of Dhoni’s best days. He hit four boundaries and a six in all.

The openers’ dismissal, including that of Vijay Shankar did create a bit of unrest but Pant ensured that they didn’t press the panic button.

The innings would certainly help him make a strong case for being included in the World Cup squad.

Earlier, Krunal Pandya enhanced his already growing reputation as a steady short format bowler with three important breakthroughs as India restricted New Zealand to a below-par 158/8 in the second T20 International in Auckland on Friday.

The parsimonious Krunal (3/28 in 4 overs) dismissed Colin Munro (12) and skipper Kane Williamson (20) to peg the Black Caps back.

In between, Krunal also got the controversial wicket of Daryl Mitchell (1), who fell pray to an umpiring howler, when ‘Hotspot’ showed a clear inside edge onto the pads.

However, Colin de Grandhomme, who has played for KKR in the IPL, then counter-attacked, scoring a blistering 50 off 28 balls, adding 77 runs with Ross Taylor (42 off 36 balls) for the fifth wicket.

Once De Grandhomme was sent back to the dug-out by Hardik Pandya (1/36 in 4 overs) and Taylor was run-out, New Zealand’s chances of a big total went up in smoke.

It was a much-improved performance by the Indian bowlers with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/29 in 4 overs) removing Tim Seifert (12) in the very third over with a fuller delivery, inducing an inside edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps.

However, it was Krunal, who really applied the brakes after being brought inside the Powerplay overs.

The older of the Pandya brothers quickly found the ideal length, bowling his usual wicket to wicket deliveries with a flatter trajectory.

Both Munro and Williamson got skidders. While the left-handed opener Munro hit one straight to the cover, Williamson was caught plumb in-front.

However, it was the dismissal of Mitchell that once again raised the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ debate even though it was a clear case of an umpiring howler by TV umpire Shaun Haig.

Krunal angled one into Mitchell, who got an inside edge onto the pads. The on-field umpire adjudged him leg before and he promptly asked for DRS.

As the giant screen showed that a faint edge could be detected by Hotspot, to everyone’s dismay, TV umpire Shaun Haig pressed the red button to signal out.

After that, it was left to India captain Rohit Sharma to call the player back but he didn’t do so.

At 50 for 4, it was De Grandhomme, who took charge as he attacked Yuzvendra Chahal (0/37 in 4 overs), hitting him for a couple of sixes.

When he was just about threatening to take the game away, De Grandhomme smacked one straight to covers in skipper Rohit’s hands.

India bowled 35 dot balls, which could well be decisive in the final context of the match.

Young Khaleel Ahmed (2/27) also polished off two wickets in the end and he and Bhuvneshwar bowled 18 dot balls between them.


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Hearing of Minerva Punjab FC plea against AIFF likely on Friday

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday is likely to hear a plea by the Minerva Punjab FC challenging All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) league committee decision not to postpone the February 18 I-League match against Real Kashmir FC in the wake of the Pulwama attack, team lawyers said on Tuesday.

In the plea filed by Minerva Punjab FC’s counsels Abhimanyu Tewari and Amitabh Tewari, the team said that it requested the AIFF league committee to postpone their match with Real Kashmir FC which was scheduled to take place in Srinagar on Monday.
Minerva’s fears were well founded and a request to postpone the match would not affect any party in the light of the extremely volatile situation in the Kashmir Valley, the advocates said.

In the plea, Minerva had also asked to shift the venue but it was rejected.

 

The decision of AIFF not to postpone the match is akin to forcing the players and spectators to play Russian roulette with their lives, the advocates said.

“The rejection is completely against all principles of equity and are violative of the Hero I-League regulations 2018-19 and the FIFA safety guidelines,” the plea said.

“The decision of the AIFF not to postpone the match is inequitable and has been taken without taking the situation into account and without accounting for the safety of the players and the spectators.”

The advocates said that Minerva has international players, who have been advised by their respective countries not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The AIFF is acting arbitrarily and without reason as earlier in the month the match between Real Kashmir FC and East Bengal was postponed on account of snow whereas the present situation is much more serious and lives of the players and the spectators are at risk,” the advocates said.

Moreover, Minerva is at a loss by not playing the match.

“Minerva is languishing at the bottom of the table and an adverse decision would lead to relegation from the 1st division therefore the decision to not play the match on the February 18 is completely bonafide in light of the security situation.

“A decision of awarding three points to Real Kashmir FC is beneficial for them as the same would propel them to the title with better goal difference therefore their insistence to play the match,” the plea added.

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After IMG-Reliance’s exit, Pakistan Super League gets new producer

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Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) were dealt a blow on Sunday when IMG-Reliance pulled out as producers and logistical support providers for the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The decision to pull out early into the season came after Pulwama terror attack in South Kashmir on February 14 left 40 CRPF soldiers dead. Immediately afterward, PCB announced they would sign a new partner soon and it has emerged that they have.

PCB has found a replacement for the remainder of the tournament with consortium of Blitz and Trans Group to help produce the PSL. “The Pakistan Cricket Board today announced the consortium of Blitz and Trans Group as the new live production partner for the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019,” the PCB said in a press release. “Blitz is the PCB’s broadcast partners in Pakistan, while Trans Group is the event management partners.”

The Blitz and Trans Group will begin their coverage of the PSL from February 20. The board stated that the group will provide same coverage the viewers experienced in the earlier matches of the league.

 

In the mail written to Sohaib Sheikh, General Manager Marketing & Sales PCB and PSL, and Kamil Khan General Manager Marketing, Digital Media and Sports Production at Pakistan Cricket Board, IMG-Reliance wrote: “Due to unfortunate events a couple of days back which resulted in the death of Indian soldiers, IMG Reliance is pulling out with immediate effects, from offering broadcast production services for PSL,” the source confirmed to IndianExpress.com. “The incident that occurred is deeply regrettable,” it further said.

PCB issued a statement in response saying, “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities,” said PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan.

The decision from IMG-Reliance came just a few hours after the broadcasting channel D-Sport suspended the telecast of the league in India. Even the official streaming service pulled out from coverage.

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Ross Taylor, Tim Southee shine in Bangladesh sweep

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Ross Taylor became New Zealand’s highest scorer in one-day internationals on Wednesday as he helped his side secure an 88-run victory over Bangladesh in Dunedin in their final official ODI before the World Cup.

The 34-year-old top-scored with 69, his 47th ODI half century, to move to 8,026 career runs and ahead of former captain Stephen Fleming’s 8,007 as New Zealand scored 330 for six at University Oval.

Tim Southee then took three wickets in his first two overs with Sabbir Rahman’s maiden one-day century not enough as Bangladesh were dismissed for 242 in 47.2 overs to give New Zealand a 3-0 series sweep. Southee finished with 6-65.

 

“I knew I was close at the start of the day … but that was only because I was told I was 50 runs away by a journalist yesterday,” Taylor told Sky Sports on Wednesday.

“It was nice to get the reception I got,” he added of the standing ovation he received when he reached 51 and the crowd were told of the significance of the score. “Very humbling.”

Congratulations @RossLTaylor amazing last 18 months and stellar career to date. Great player that I hope will set the bar high for the next. Well deserved and good luck over the next few months.

Taylor is in a rich run of form. He has scored 2892 at 68.85 with eight centuries since the last World Cup and averaged 91.28 last year, but sidestepped any questions about retirement.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the body is going,” said Taylor, who turns 35 on March 8.

“It’s definitely in your thinking, because you have to think about retirement after cricket.

“In saying that you still need to earn the right to play for the team. At the moment I’m really enjoying my time and hopefully I’ll have a couple of more years left in me.”

New Zealand have no more official ODIs before the World Cup starts on May 30, but Taylor said he felt they had learned enough from 3-0 series sweeps against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and a 4-1 loss to India to be competitive in England.

“I think we’re getting a good nucleus of depth in this team and hopefully we can go over and compete,” he said.

“I guess we need to have a full complement of batters and bowlers going well.”

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