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On a roll, Yadav hopeful of getting nod for opening Test against England

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Nottingham: Kuldeep Yadav hopes his recent limited-overs performances will prompt India’s selectors to include him in their squad for the upcoming Test series in England.
The left-arm wrist spinner took a superb one-day international best six for 25 in his maximum 10 overs as India beat England by eight wickets at Trent Bridge on Thursday to go 1-0 up in a three-match series.
That followed the 23-year-old’s five for 24 in the first Twenty20 international against England at Old Trafford on July 3 — a series India won 2-1.
His latest haul — the best by any spinner in an ODI against England — helped India dismiss the hosts for 268 in Nottingham, with opener Rohit Sharma then making 137 not out as the tourists won with nearly 10 overs remaining.
Left-arm wrist spinners are a rarity in top-level cricket and England’s batsmen are struggling to pick which way Yadav is turning the ball.
After the one-dayers, India remain in England for a five-Test series.
With Britain, by its standards, experiencing something of a heatwave, pitches around the country are dry and receptive to spin, rather than the traditional green surfaces beloved of seam bowlers.
Yadav’s recent success, allied to favourable conditions, has led to suggestions he could be included in the Test squad due to be announced by India’s selectors over the weekend.
In recent times India have tended to deploy the experienced pair of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm orthodox Ravindra Jadeja as their specialist slow bowlers in the five-day game.
But as he reflected on his heroics at Trent Bridge, Yadav made it clear he wanted to add to his tally of nine wickets in two Tests — the last against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in August 2017.
“I bowled wicket to wicket and tried to vary my pace,” he said. “Talking about Test cricket, I am hoping for the call and let’s see what happens in a couple days when they announce the Test team.”
England’s top three batsmen were in devastating form during a preceding 5-0 series rout of Australia last month — which included a men’s ODI record total of 481 for six at Trent Bridge on June 19.
But on Thursday, albeit with opener Alex Hales missing with a side injury that has ruled him out of the entire series, Yadav removed an England top three of Jason Roy, Test skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow in a stunning spell of three wickets for five runs in 10 balls.
“It doesn’t matter to me because I never bowl looking at who the batsman is,” explained Yadav.
“In my mind, I am only thinking about how I can contribute to the team,” he added.


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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