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Mandhana’s half-century in vain as New Zealand beat India in 1st T20

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Wellington: Smriti Mandhana remained an unstoppable juggernaut with a record-smashing half-century but the Indian women’s cricket team failed to make it count, going down by 23 runs in the opening T20 International against New Zealand.

Mandhana held the record for the fastest fifty by an Indian before the match and she bettered it by a ball during her 58-run knock at the WestPac Stadium. The 22-year-old faced 34 balls in all but reached the 50-mark off 24 deliveries.

However, New Zealand pacer Lea Tahuhu played a decisive role with three scalps off her four overs to derail India’s pursuit of a 160-run target which was going smoothly till the time Mandhana was at the crease. India eventually folded for 136 in 19.1 overs.

 

Leg-spinner Amelia Kerr (2/28) clinched the crucial wickets of Mandhana and Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur to wreck the visitors’ chances. Off-spinner Leigh Kasperek also picked up a couple of wickets.

“Obviously we didn’t get the start we wanted but it was pretty good to come back and win. It’s just about keeping calm,” said Tahuhu, who was adjudged Player of the Match for her performance.

Harmanpreet, on the other hand, blamed India’s loss on a poor batting effort, especially in the last 10 overs.

“I think bowlers did really well as we expected. We didn’t bat well in the last 10 overs. That is only area where we are always struggling,” she pointed out.

Veteran Mithali Raj, who captains the Indian ODI side, was dropped from the match.

“We are looking to give chance to young girls, that is the only reason,” said Harmanpreet, when asked about Mithali’s absence from the line-up and whether her experience would have come handy here.

The next game of the series is scheduled to be held in Auckland on Friday.

Mandhana and Jemiamah Rodrigues (39 off 33 balls) combined for a 102-run second-wicket stand that should have been a solid foundation for the rest of the line-up.

But India collapsed in the face of an inspired performance by Lahuhu.

From 101/1, the visiting team was down to 117/6 in a matter of five overs that turned the match on its head.

Harmanpreet (17 off 15 balls) played out a small cameo, including a massive six off Kerr, but couldn’t steer the team home, failing to find any support at the other end.

Mandhana was her usual aggressive self and played another strokeful knock, studded with seven hits to the fence and three sixes. The 22-year-old is enjoying a stellar run of form and was recently adjudged the ICC’s woman cricketer of the year.


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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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