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‘World changed for English cricket after Stokes incident’

‘World changed for English cricket after Stokes incident’

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25171888
PERTH: England opener Alastair Cook (L) waits to bat during a net practice session on Wednesday.—AFP
PERTH: England opener Alastair Cook (L) waits to bat during a net practice session on Wednesday.—AFP

PERTH: Senior batsman Alastair Cook says the world has changed for English cricket in the wake of the damaging Ben Stokes affair, and warned the team cannot afford any more ‘mistakes’.

The star all-rounder is currently banned from the international game while authorities probe his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a nightclub.

Cook, a former captain who will become the first Englishman to play 150 Tests in Thursday’s crucial third Ashes clash in Perth, admits his side has been slow to learn from the fall-out.

Dubbed a ‘behavioural cleanskin’, Cook senses England should have learnt their lesson months ago that standards would be intensely scrutinised in the wake of the Stokes scandal.

“It has been a very strange thing,” he said. “The world has obviously changed for the English cricket team from September. We have taken a couple of months to really realise that.

“These last two incidents have proved that. I’ve seen words written down, ‘trivial misdemeanour at best’, but since the Stokes incident times have changed for the English cricket team.”

Cook was referring to further off-field scandals involving Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett on this tour.

“It’s sad in some ways because we have always been a bit different to football and been able to go under the radar a bit and enjoy playing cricket for England and enjoy seeing the country outside that,” Cook said.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017



http://www.dawn.com/news/1376413/world-changed-for-english-cricket-after-stokes-incident
Ashes to Ashes, England brace for familiar WACA ordeal

Ashes to Ashes, England brace for familiar WACA ordeal

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25171886

PERTH: Two-nil down and with a harried captain insisting his team was neither dead nor buried, there was an unnerving sense of deja vu at the WACA Ground as England made their final preparations on the eve of the third Ashes Test on Wednesday.

Four years on from the last doomed trip to Western Australia, Joe Root led a mostly different set of players through their drills under a big Perth sky while facing the same unenviable predicament as his predecessor Alastair Cook.

The glorious weather did little to ease a feeling of foreboding surrounding Root’s team, one that also weighed on Cook’s England before their meek surrender in 2013-14.

The tourists need a draw in the crucial encounter starting on Thursday to keep the five-match series alive before they head to Melbourne, but holders England have not managed one in over 30 years at the WACA, where they have lost their past seven Tests in succession.

Like his former captain Cook, still present as an out-of-form opening batsman, Root has endured a tour Down Under littered with distractions and tawdry off-field problems.

He has also echoed Cook’s words from the last tour, insisting his side can defy 80 years of history and join Don Bradman’s Australia as the only team to come back from 2-0 down to win an Ashes series.

A 150-run thrashing followed days after Cook’s backs-to-the-wall bravado, along with the ignominy of handing back the coveted urn with two Tests to spare.

Root’s rallying cry might prove just as futile but on Wednesday, at least, the young captain was adamant his team was better equipped than Cook’s to pull off something ‘special’.

“I think we’re in a much better place this time round if I’m being brutally honest,” said Root, who was a 22-year-old middle order rookie during the 5-0 whitewash of 2013-14.

“The guys have got a really clear idea of where they want to go and how they’re going to look to play.

“I’m not sure that was quite the same the last time round. I think we were a bit more shell-shocked about how things had turned out.”

Much of England’s shell-shock was delivered by Australia’s man-of-the-series Mitchell Johnson, who grabbed six of his 37 wickets at the WACA with his intimidating left-arm pace.

None of Australia’s current pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have enjoyed Johnson-style dominance yet, but each have made vital contributions and denied England’s batsmen a morale-boosting century.

Root said it was up to senior players like he and Cook to lead the way with big scores at the WACA but in truth, the pitch might ultimately prove to be the most decisive actor.

While most attention at the WACA will be on the pacemen, Root wants the England batsmen to target Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who has taken 11 wickets so far in the series at an average of 22.72.

“It’s that cat and mouse part of cricket. You want to try to apply pressure as a batsman and get on top when the opportunities arise,” Root said. “And credit to Nathan; he’s made that very difficult to do that from surfaces that have offered good spin for him from the start. “We have to have a clear way of how we want to try to put him under a bit more pressure.”

England, meanwhile, named an unchanged team but with a minor change to their batting order. Wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow has been promoted to six in place of all-rounder Moeen Ali who drops to seven.

The WACA’s traditional bounce and pace once played into the hands of Australia’s fast men for decades but recent years have seen it lose potency.

Australia and New Zealand’s batsmen dominated a bore-draw two years ago, and the home side were beaten by South Africa last year after the Proteas set a mammoth 539-run victory target.

The home side’s quicks have had fingers crossed this week for a reprise of the WACA wickets of old and while curator Matt Page left grass on the pitch to give them some hope, captain Steve Smith seemed disappointed with the surface on Wednesday.

“Probably not as hard as I would have liked it to be a day out but 24 hours can change a wicket and we’ll have another look in the morning,” he told reporters.

It delayed Smith from naming his side, though he suggested all-rounder Mitchell Marsh might be in line for a recall at the expense of batsman Peter Handscomb, who scored centuries against Pakistan in Brisbane and Sydney last season but has managed knocks of only 14, 36 and 12 against England this year.

Teams:

AUSTRALIA (from): Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Handscomb, Jackson Bird.

ENGLAND: Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Jim Vince, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand).

TV umpire: Aleem Dar (Pakistan).

Match referee: Richie Richardson (West Indies).

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017



http://www.dawn.com/news/1376414/ashes-to-ashes-england-brace-for-familiar-waca-ordeal
Gremio beat Pachuca to reach Club World Cup final

Gremio beat Pachuca to reach Club World Cup final

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25171887

AL AIN: Gremio have put a South American team back in the Club World Cup final.

The Brazilian team defeated Mexico’s Pachuca 1-0 with a goal by winger Everton five minutes into extra time on Tuesday, giving South America a shot at the title after missing out on the final last year.

The Copa Libertadores champions will face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid or Al Jazira of the UAE for the title on Saturday.

The 21-year-old substitute Everton scored the only goal when he drifted inside from the left wing and slammed home a fierce right-footed strike beyond Pachuca’s 44-year-old goalkeeper Oscar Perez into the far corner.

Pachuca, who qualified as club champions of the Caribbean and North and Central American region, saw their hopes of an equaliser all but end with Victor Guzman sent off for a second booking 10 minutes from time.

“We were nervous at the start and we didn’t need to be,” said Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi. ““We improved in the second half, and in extra time Everton got the goal that we needed. We overcame a great opponent to make it to the final.

“It’s the end of the year as well, we are tired but we were the better team and now we can concentrate on the final.”

Last year, Kashima Antlers of Japan knocked out South American entry Atletico Nacional of Colombia in the semi-finals, then lost to Real.

Gremio, winners of the Intercontinental Cup — the forerunner to the Club World Cup — in 1983 and runners-up in 1995, will now aim to become the first non-European team to win the title since compatriots Corinthians beat Chelsea in 2012.

Pachuca made it to the semi-finals by defeating African champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 in extra time on Saturday.

Both Latin teams fought out a scrappy 90 minutes in Al Ain that featured 35 fouls and few clear-cut chances.

“We were too anxious, making too many passing mistakes,” Everton said. “It took a while but eventually we were able to get into the game.”

Gremio were the slightly more positive side, particularly in the second half, with Edilson coming close to scoring with three free kicks and Pachuca keeper Perez doing well do turn a goal-bound shot from Luan round the post after an hour.

At the other end, Gremio defender Bruno Cortez made two excellent blocks in the first half while Pachuca’s Guzman scraped the outside of the post with a header after 80 minutes.

The defeat was another letdown for the CONCACAF Champions League winners. The Mexican side have now played in five Club World Cup tournaments without reaching the final.

“The team competed incredibly,” Pachuca coach Diego Alonso said. “But in extra time the team started to feel a bit tired. But I’m delighted, I need to congratulate my players.”

Earlier, Japan’s Urawa Reds claimed fifth place as two goals from Brazilian Mauricio steered the Asian Champions League winners to a 3-2 victory over African champions Wydad.

Ismail El Haddad had cancelled out Mauricio’s opener, but Yosuke Kashiwagi put back Urawa back in front before Mauricio netted again on the hour mark, with Reda Hajhouj grabbing a late consolation from the spot.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017



http://www.dawn.com/news/1376409/gremio-beat-pachuca-to-reach-club-world-cup-final
No concerns over Tokyo’s Olympic preparations: IOC

No concerns over Tokyo’s Olympic preparations: IOC

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25171889

TOKYO: Tokyo organisers have shown they will complete all their 2020 Olympic venues on schedule, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day visit.

Coordination commission chairman John Coates insisted he had ‘no concerns’ over Tokyo’s preparations after local organisers recently unveiled their first new permanent venue.

“We received reports on the progress of venue construction and it’s just not an area that we have any concerns — I have any concerns — about,” he told reporters. “You’re meeting all your deadlines of construction and I see no reason why, in a country so sophisticated, that this won’t continue to be the case.”

After bungling the rollout of the showpiece Olympic stadium two years ago, Japanese organisers have faced criticism but the successful opening last month of the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, set to host badminton and modern pentathlon fencing, brought a welcome public relations score.

The original plans for the new national stadium were ripped up by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe two years ago because of public anger over its eye-watering $2 billion price tag.

IOC officials have since called on Tokyo to make efforts to further reduce the current $12 billion Games budget.

“We will continue to explore cost reduction opportunities,” promised Coates. “The next version of the budget is being completed by the end of this year and we’ll see that when we get to Pyeongchang [for the Winter Olympics] in February.”

But Coates also added: “We are confident significant savings can be achieved. But we have to be aware that history shows us sometimes things can get out of hand, so we’ve got to be very careful.”

Coates said the two parties were working on finding savings in 25 areas and expressed confidence that the budget, to be presented at the IOC’s executive board meeting in February, would reflect those efforts.

Although he was confident they would achieve ‘significant savings’ over the next two-and-a-half years.

“I also have to be aware that history shows that sometimes things can get out of hand,” Coates said.

Version one of the budget, issued in December last year, showed projected costs of $14 billion excluding contingencies, and the IOC and organisers managed to trim that to $12.9 billion by June, the most recent figures show.

Meanwhile, the Australian denied any impropriety in his vice chair, Alex Gilady, travelling to Tokyo following recent allegations of sexual assault and harassment dating back to the 1990s during his time as a television executive in Israel.

“I’m aware of the allegations,” said Coates. “I’m also aware that he strongly disputes those allegations and that his lawyers are disputing those allegations in the Israeli press.

“The IOC has been kept fully informed of all of the legalities that he’s pursuing at the moment. He’s entitled to due process ... There’s no basis for him not to be here, that’s our position.”

Local organising president Yoshiro Mori stressed the importance of close cooperation between Tokyo and outlying municipalities, particularly areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami in north-eastern Japan and resulting nuclear crisis.

The 80-year-old former prime minister waxed lyrical about fine cheeses produced in the disaster-hit regions that he and the IOC members had sampled with Japanese rice wine the previous evening, before catching himself.

“Olympic preparations are moving along very smoothly,” he concluded. “Further cost reduction remains a priority but from next year the focus will be firmly on Tokyo so we have to solve any pending issues in the timeline agreed.”

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2017



http://www.dawn.com/news/1376401/no-concerns-over-tokyos-olympic-preparations-ioc
?World changed for English cricket after Stokes incident?

?World changed for English cricket after Stokes incident?

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25170303

PERTH: Senior batsman Alastair Cook says the world has changed for English cricket in the wake of the damaging Ben Stokes affair, and warned the team cannot afford any more “mistakes”.

The star all-rounder is currently banned from the international game while authorities probe his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a nightclub.

Cook, a former captain who will become the first Englishman to play 150 Tests when he appears against Australia in Thursday’s crucial third Ashes clash in Perth, admits his side has been slow to learn from the fall-out.

Dubbed a “behavioural cleanskin”, Cook senses England should have learnt their lesson months ago that standards would be intensely scrutinised in the wake of the Stokes scandal.

“It has been a very strange thing,” he told reporters in Perth.“The world has obviously changed for the English cricket team from September. We have taken a couple of months to really realise that.

“These last two incidents have proved that. I’ve seen words written down, ‘trivial misdemeanour at best’, but since the Stokes incident times have changed for the English cricket team.”

Cook was referring to further off-field alcohol-related scandals involving Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett on the tour of Australia.“It’s sad in some ways because we have always been a bit different to football and been able to go under the radar a bit and enjoy playing cricket for England and enjoy seeing the country outside that,” Cook said.

But the spotlight was now firmly on England and its off-field antics and “it’s now down to us to adjust to it quickly and we can’t afford any more mistakes”.Experienced fast bowler James Anderson said while the Duckett incident was not malicious and a “bit of a non event”, the tourists had to understand the current situation and act smarter.



https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255737-world-changed-for-english-cricket-after-stokes-incident
Zaheer lambasts PCB over feeble role in new FTP

Zaheer lambasts PCB over feeble role in new FTP

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25170300

KARACHI: Zaheer Abbas has taken a swipe at the country’s cricket authorities over their failure to safeguard Pakistan’s interests in the new Future Tours Programme of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Once finalised, the new FTP will hand Pakistan a raw deal as it will get fewer matches than most of the other full Test-playing nations.“I’m really sad and angry at the way Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has tackled this issue so far,” Zaheer, the former Pakistan Test captain who has also served as ICC President, told ‘The News’ in an interview on Wednesday.

“Among the various tasks entrusted on the people running the PCB one of the most important one is to make sure that Pakistan cricket gets its fair share in international cricketing action. From what I have read it seems that it hasn’t happened. The PCB has failed to fight for the cause of our cricket. They have not tackled the (FTP) matter well and that is a big cause of concern for all of us,” he stressed.

According to reports, the new FTP which is being finalised by the ICC tilts heavily in favour of the nations who once formed the infamous ‘Big Three’ — India, England and Australia. In the new programme South Africa join them as the fourth team to get maximum benefit.

Pakistan have been left to languish on the sidelines, almost degraded to the level of minnows like Zimbabwe, Ireland and Afghanistan.

“That’s unacceptable,” Zaheer said. “I mean how can such treatment be justified? Pakistan is one of the great cricket-playing nations and should be treated like one. It’s the PCB’s job to make that happen,” he added.In the new FTP, Pakistan have been given just 28 Tests and 38 One-day Internationals in a four-year cycle running from May 2019 to May 2023. Only Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland will play fewer Tests than Pakistan during that period. England will play 46 Tests, Australia 40 and India 37. Even Bangladesh will get 35 Tests.

Pakistan have been given an even worse deal in the 50-over format. Their 38 matches are the lowest of all teams, even fewer than that of Afghanistan (41), Zimbabwe (40) and Ireland (42). The Indians will play 61 while West Indies will get 62 ODIs.

The Pakistanis fare no better when it comes to the Twenty20 format as they will play 38 games also the joint-lowest of the major Test-playing nations. Even Ireland play six more T20Is, while India will get 61, West Indies 55 and New Zealand play 49.

Zaheer warned the PCB bosses that Pakistan cricket will suffer unless they fight to get a fairer share for the country in the new FTP.“Already Pakistan cricket is in a bad shape,” he said. “We are still not having any international cricket in the country. If that’s not bad enough now we are not getting much cricket at all.

“What saddens me more is the fact that at a time when the rest of the world is finalising the international programme for the next four years, the PCB is busy engaged in some 10-over tournament abroad. I really wonder as to how our cricket has fallen to such a low,” he said referring to a new T-10 league which will be held in the UAE featuring leading Pakistani players.

Zaheer wasn’t happy with the fact that with the PCB’s blessings most of the star power of the T-10 league, which is a privately-owned enterprise, comes in the shape of Pakistani players.“Most of the big names in this league are Pakistanis. It’s a shame that at a time when the PCB is talking about bringing international cricket to Pakistan, it is allowing are top players to go and play in such privately-owned tournaments abroad. It’s an unwise move that could have serious repercussions for Pakistan cricket.”

Zaheer said that instead of allowing their players to feature in the league, the PCB should have made sure that the event was held in Pakistan.“I think if the idea (behind the T-10 league) is making money than the PCB could have earned big profits if it had staged it in Pakistan. We have many big business houses which would have supported it.”

Zaheer warned that the PCB has exposed Pakistani players to the perils of corruption by allowing them to take part in a league whose only interest is to make money.“What happens if there is a corruption scandal like the one we witnessed at the PSL early this year,” he asked. “Who will be responsible for it? I’m surprised that the PCB has taken such a risk for no big reward. Personally I just see it as a lose-lose situation for Pakistan cricket.”

Najam Sethi, the PCB chairman, has come under fire over his support for the T-10 league and Zaheer believes that the criticism is justified.“(Being PCB chairman) is not about joy rides and local politics. It is about bigger goals. But unfortunately we haven’t seen them achieving any major targets. If things continue going south then whatever good that is left in our cricket will also get destroyed.”



https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255734-zaheer-lambasts-pcb-over-feeble-role-in-new-ftp
Kamran sees 2018 as crucial year for Pakistan hockey

Kamran sees 2018 as crucial year for Pakistan hockey

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25170301

KARACHI: Olympian Kamran Ashraf has said that the year 2018 would be crucial for Pakistan hockey and that the efforts of PHF to revive the national game will bring fruit.

The Green-shirts are going to participate in a number of international events. “Besides,our junior players are also going to mature and will prove to be the backbone of our hockey,” he said while talking to ‘The News’ at Abdul Sattar Hockey Stadium on Tuesday.

Kamran, a famous center forward of his time and the top scorer for Pakistan in 1994 Sydney Hockey World Cup, said it was the plan of PHF to train the junior boys through participation in the Australian domestic hockey, which is considered most difficult in the current era.

He said that some former Olympians who criticised the PHF management and its secretary Shahbaz Ahmed, should remember that when the current management of PHF took charge, Pakistan hockey team had failed to qualify for the World Cup and Olympics. “The country’s domestic hockey had collapsed and a number of ranking events had been abolished. More than a dozen domestic teams had been closed,” said Kamran, who was the head coach of Pakistan Under-18 team that won the Australian National Under-18 championship this year.

“It was the PHF’s efforts which revived the domestic hockey and brought back hockey fraternity to grounds, established new hockey teams, provided jobs to players and revived a number of closed teams,” said Kamran.

“Pakistan had been in total isolation.  No country was inviting us. Nor any foreign hockey team was interested in visiting Pakistan,” he pointed out.He said that things could not be turned around overnight. “During the two years of the current PHF management, a number of domestic hockey events have been organised, including the national championship, junior championship, COAS tournament, CNS Pakistan tournament, Nishan-e-Haider 9-a-side and 5-a-side championship. Moreover, it revived school hockey across the country. As a result, each province of the country right now has three or four teams at the junior level, which shows that hockey is progressing at the grassroots level,” said Kamran.He observed that it was the PHF’s efforts and secretary Shahbaz Ahmed’s standing in the world hockey that a World XI was coming to Pakistan.

“The PHF secretary played an instrumental role in the revival of our hockey, used his connections across the leading hockey-playing countries to bring players to Pakistan. The only problem is that our senior team is not performing well. But efforts are being made to improve their performance and we hope that the Green-shirts will play well in 2018,” he said.

“We will have to be patient because we had a poor structure of domestic hockey. We lacked international matches and there were several other problems. We should admit that we are behind in modern-day hockey,” he said.

He said that if the critics of PHF had any plan to improve the performance of Pakistan hockey team, they should give it to PHF. “We will consider it,” he said.Kamran said that the under-18 team that won the Australian national championship would participate in Australia’s under-21 championship next year which would “narrow the gap between modern-day standard hockey and our level of hockey,” he said.

He said that Pakistan Hockey League (PHL) in April next year was the vision of Shahbaz. “It will benefit our hockey. We will have high-class players here, which will improve the standard of our hockey and earnings of the players will also rise,” he said.



https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255735-kamran-sees-2018-as-crucial-year-for-pakistan-hockey
?Fed up? Root urges damaged: England to stand up in crucial Test

?Fed up? Root urges damaged: England to stand up in crucial Test

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25170302

PERTH: Captain Joe Root has challenged his England team to stand up and keep the Ashes series alive in Thursday’s crucial third Test against Australia in Perth.

Root, who admits he is “fed up” talking about off-field issues, said it was time for his teammates to prove why they have been chosen to play.The tourists are on the precipice, trailing Australia 2-0 in the five-Test series, battling to avoid another heavy defeat that would hand back the Ashes urn to Steve Smith’s team.

To keep the series alive Root’s men must not lose at the WACA Ground where England last won in 1978.“It’s time to stand up,” Root said on Wednesday. “These are the games that when you get them right, they really hit home with people.

“And that’s what people want to see — in the face of adversity, people stand up and really put in those big performances and prove why they have been selected to play for England.“That’s the opportunity that’s in front of this group, to go and win here at the WACA for the first time in a long time, by playing well for longer. If we get that right, there is no reason we can’t be sat here at 2-1 next week.”

England are facing the spectre of repeating the 5-0 series humiliation on their last tour to Australia where Jonathan Trott returned home after the first Test, Graeme Swann retired and following the tour coach Andy Flower resigned.

Root admitted he was sick and tired with the team’s off-field alcohol-related incidents, which began before the tour when Ben Stokes was banned from international cricket while authorities probe his alleged involvement in a fight outside a nightclub.

Scandals involving Jonny Bairstow and Ben Duckett have further harmed the touring team’s reputation.“I’m fed up talking about stuff that’s not cricket,” Root told travelling English media earlier in the day.“We have to make sure we perform well this week and win. Get people talking about the cricket.

“This is a very professional group of players that goes about things in the right way. But we’ve had two incidents that have been blown up and made a big deal of. They could have been avoided.

“That’s the annoying thing, as you know, but a lot of people back home probably don’t, the stories are not a fair reflection of this team. But a lot of the stuff that’s being spouted is giving ammunition.”

He said it was frustrating and the team had to be “smarter”.Root, who has only been captain for nine Tests, added that he knew it would be a challenging role and there would be issues outside cricket, “but not to this extent”.

“You have to take it in your stride and learn from it — I’ve learned a lot,” he said.“I want to be concentrating on making sure we get things right on the field. That’s my job as captain. I’m trying to develop a team that over a long period can achieve success and do special things.

“One of this group’s big strengths is we do look after each other. The lads have done some stupid stuff but we care about each other. We’re in it together and we are only going to get back into this series if we stick together.”



https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255736-fed-up-root-urges-damaged-england-to-stand-up-in-crucial-test
Sharma?s double ton leads India to victory

Sharma?s double ton leads India to victory

14/12/2017, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 25170304

MOHALI, India: Skipper Rohit Sharma on Wednesday became the first batsman to hit three double centuries in One-day Internationals (ODIs) as he powered India to a 141-run win over Sri Lanka in the second match on Wednesday.

Sharma’s unbeaten 208 steered the hosts to an imposing 392-4 and then restricted Sri Lanka to 251-8 to level the three-match series at 1-1 in Mohali.His epic knock, laced with 12 sixes and 13 fours in 153-ball stay, led the Indian charge after they were invited to bat first in overcast conditions.

Sharma reached 200 in the 50th over, bowled by opposition skipper Thisara Perera. His first hundred came off 115 balls, and his second off just 38 balls.“It was a great day. Winning the game was important for me and the team after that loss in Dharamsala,” Sharma said after his first win as Indian captain.

“In the first two 200s as well I got the century in the 38th over and I kept telling myself to hold my shape and hit through the line.“I did pretty similar things in the earlier ones too - getting 50 off 70 balls. This wicket was superb to start off, the longer I stayed the easier it became to bat on,” said Sharma.

The right-hander scored 209 against Australia in Bangalore in 2013, and followed that double-hundred with his highest score of 264 against Sri Lanka a year later in Kolkata.Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Virender Sehwag (India), Chris Gayle (West Indies) and Sachin Tendulkar (India) have recorded a double century each in ODI cricket.

Sharma made a bright start with his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan (68) after the Indian batsmen’s horror showing in the opening ODI, when they were skittled out for just 112.“All three came at crucial times. 264 is obviously very close to me. I’ve said it many times, but I honestly cannot pick one,” Sharma said of his three double tons.

“The Australia one was a decider, the Sri Lanka 264 — I came back after a three-month layoff after a big injury, and this one also — after a humiliating loss, we wanted to come back as a team, as a batting unit especially.”

Sharma’s 213-run stand for the second wicket with Shreyas Iyer, who scored 88, also stood out on a hazy day in Mohali.Dhawan, who hit nine boundaries during his 67-ball knock, was caught at mid-wicket off Sachith Pathirana.

The wicket though proved to be a minor blemish on India’s innings as Sharma dominated the bowlers with the attack-minded Iyer for company.Iyer also changed gears after completing his maiden fifty in just his second ODI, smashing the Sri Lankan bowlers around the park.

Perera got three wickets with his medium-pace bowling but was still hit around the park by Sharma.Sri Lanka were never in the chase after losing their openers for just 30 runs as Angelo Mathews top-scored with an unbeaten 111. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal claimed three wickets.

“We had a plan A, B and C but none of that clicked for us which was the most important thing,” said Perera.“If you want to chase a score as big as this, you need starts and scores in the middle order as well. But none of it clicked for us.“Angelo did really well for us, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll come back hard in the decider,” he said.The third and deciding match will be played in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.

Sri Lanka won toss

India

*R G Sharma not out 208

S Dhawan c Thirimanne b Pathirana 68

S S Iyer c sub (P de Silva) b Perera 88

†M S Dhoni lbw b Perera 7

H H Pandya c Thirimanne b Perera 8

Extras (b 1, lb 1, w 11) 13

Total (4 wickets; 50 Overs) 392

Did not bat: K D Karthik, M K Pandey, B Kumar, W Sundar, J J Bumrah, Y S Chahal

Fall: 1-115, 2-328, 3-354, 4-392

Bowling: Mathews 4-1-9-0; Lakmal 8-0-71-0; Perera 8-0-80-3; Fernando 10-0-106-0; Dananjaya 10-0-51-0; Pathirana 9-0-63-1; Gunaratne 1-0-10-0

Sri Lanka

M D Gunathilaka c Dhoni b Bumrah 16

W U Tharanga c Karthik b Pandya 7

H D R L Thirimanne b Sundar 21

A D Mathews not out 111

†N Dickwella c Sundar b Chahal 22

D A S Gunaratne st Dhoni b Chahal 34

*N L T C Perera c Dhoni b Chahal 5

S S Pathirana c Dhawan b Kumar 2

A Dananjaya c Sharma b Bumrah 11

R A S Lakmal not out 11

Extras (lb 2, w 9) 11

Total (8 wickets; 50 Overs) 251

Did not bat: A N P R Fernando

Fall: 1-15, 2-30, 3-62, 4-115, 5-159, 6-166, 7-180, 8-207

Bowling: Kumar 9-0-40-1; Pandya 10-0-39-1; Bumrah 10-0-43-2; Sundar 10-0-65-1; Chahal 10-0-60-3; Iyer 1-0-2-0

Result: India won by 141 runs

Series: 3-match series levelled by 1-1

ODI debut: W Sundar (India)

Man of the match: R G Sharma (India)

Umpires: Nandan (India) and P Reiffel (Australia). TV Umpires: S Fry (Austrlai). Match Referee: J Crowe (New Zealand)



https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/255738-sharma-s-double-ton-leads-india-to-victory
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