Belgrade, Jun 20 Olympic hopefuls Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj won a gold each in their respective events at the Belgrade Trophy swimming competition but missed the elusive 'A' qualification mark for the Tokyo Games here.
Prakash clocked 1:56.96s to win the gold in the men's 200m butterfly at the FINA-accredited Olympic qualifier on Saturday, rewriting his own national record of 1:57.73s that he had set in 2018.
However, the 27-year-old swimmer from Kerala fell short of the Olympic 'A' cut by 0.48 seconds.
Nataraj, on the hand, clocked 54.45s in the 100m backstroke event to bag the top honours. But the 20-year-old too missed the 'A' mark for the Tokyo Olympics.
Both Prakash and Nataraj have already achieved the Olympic 'B' mark in 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke events respectively. They are vying for the 'A' qualification mark, which ensures an automatic berth to line up at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympic 'A' cut for 200m butterfly is 1:56.48s, while it has been set at 53.85s for the 100m backstroke.
No Indian has till date achieved the 'A' standard.
It was a good day in the office for Indian swimmers as Shoan Ganguli clinched the third gold for India by clocking 4.37.70s in the 400m medley.
Seasoned Maana Patel (29.79s) bagged the silver in the women's 50m backstroke event, while Tanish Mathews took home the bronze in the men's 200m butterfly with a time of 2:13.55s.
Kenisha Gupta, who is a part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) development group, finished fourth in the women's 50m freestyle with a time of 26.65s.
Prakash and Nataraj will have another shot at the 'A' qualification mark at the annual Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, which is also a FINA-accredited Olympic qualifying event, next week. News source PTI
Bristol, Jun 20 Shafali Verma's spectacular debut has caught the imagination of the Indian women's team Test skipper Mithali Raj, who feels the teenager would be a key member of the side in all the formats of the game in future.
The 17-year-old, who had smashed a stroke-filled 96 in the first innings, made 63 in the second innings, to become the youngest woman and fourth overall to score twin half-centuries in her debut Test and was rightfully adjudged player-of-the-match.
"She will be very, very important to the Indian batting unit in all formats. She beautifully adapted to this format," Mithali said in a virtual media interaction after India, following on, salvaged a draw in the one-off Test against England.
"She didn't go like how she would go bonkers in the T20 format. She played sensibly against the new ball and it's great to have her." Asked what prompted the Indian team management to hand Verma a Test debut in England, Mithali said: "She has great range of shots, and she can be very, very, effective in a format like this if she gets going. In no time, we could see that the score would be somewhere else if she gets going.
"Once we knew that it's a used wicket and there won't be much of a movement, we thought it would be a good time to give her a Test debut and she lived up to it." Mithali rated the young opener's knock in the second innings ahead of her first innings score of 96 as the teenager showed utmost composure and maturity.
"The (second innings) fifty came with a little more sorted head and a little bit more experience. Those sweetly-timed drives, it was beautiful to watch her. I'm sure she will grow from strength to strength from here on." In reply to England's first innings score of 396 for 9, India, playing their first-ever Test in seven years, collapsed to 231 from 167 for no loss, courtesy the fine start given by Verma and Smriti Mandhana.
Following-on, India had a familiar collapse after fifties from Verma and Deepti Sharma and they were staring at a loss before debutants Sneh Rana (80 not out) and wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia (44 not out) frustrated the English bowlers to pull off a thrilling draw in the final session.
Rana, who was playing her first game for India in five years, was handed a surprise debut and Mithali said the off-spinner's ability to bat clinched it for her.
"It was important for us to pick spinners who have been doing well because we didn't have much of a camp or tournament before this. Sneh (Rana) was bowling very well along with Deepti. Her bonus was that she was a batter and we wanted to lengthen our batting order." The India veteran also backed her English counterpart Heather Knight's call for a five-day Test format for women's cricket.
"It's a good idea to have a five-day Test, but we actually have to start a Test match regularly. Having a Test match in a series is important, and then maybe you can take it to five-day Tests.
"I'm okay with it as it gives more chances of a result. But I would prefer having a Test match in every series, and take it from there," Mithali said.
India stretched their unbeaten streak against England women to 26 years with this draw and Mithali said the visitors' outstanding show would put the home side on the back foot going into the limited overs series.
India will now play three ODIs and as many T20Is against England beginning with the first game here on June 27.
"Psychologically, I think it's a big boost and will definitely put England on back foot because they know that even though the main batters have not performed, the lower middle order stood up," she said.
"The Indian batting line up is deep now and it's not just the top-order. The lower middle-order also can bat and put in match-winning partnerships," she said.
India women will play their first-ever pink-ball Test at the WACA during their tour of Australia in September and Mithali said the just-concluded match against England augurs well for them.
"These girls have shown even with lack of practice with the red ball and the longer format, they stood up and performed. I think confidence is what we will be carrying into the next Tests. I know it's a pink ball Test but preparation will be equally important.
"Having said that, the mental space that these young girls are in after today's performance will have a very positive impact, moving into a longer format for the coming Pink Ball Test," she concluded. News source PTI
Melbourne, Jun 19 Indian women team's Test against Australia later this year will be played on a fresh pitch, Cricket Australia said on Saturday, in stark contrast to ECB's decision to host Mithali Raj's side on a used track in the one-off match in Bristol.
India will tour Australia in September-October to play a day/night Test, three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals.
"It's standard practice in Australia to ensure fresh pitches are available for all men's and women's Test matches and this season will be no different," CA Head of Operations Peter Roach was quoted as saying by '7Cricket'.
"We have seen the women's game rise to a new level in recent times and it is important we provide the platform for that trend to continue." The WACA Ground in Perth will host a Test against India for the first time in 15 years from September 30 to October 3.
After that Manuka Oval in Canberra will host a Test against England in late January next year to start the multi-format Ashes series.
"The WACA Ground and Manuka Oval are terrific venue for Test cricket and with first-class ground staff, we are extremely confident that the facilities for the two women's Tests will be of the highest standard." England women's team captain Heather Knight had expressed displeasure at an used pitch being given for her side's one-off Test against India in Bristol, saying it's not ideal as they would want to play on a fresh strip.
The pitch at the Bristol's County Ground was used for a Gloucestershire T20 match a week back and Knight pointed out that it might become sluggish later in the Test.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had apologised for not being able to give a fresh wicket as the Test was only being added to the calendar in mid-April.
"We are all disappointed that the wicket for the LV= Insurance Test match against India will have had 37 overs played on it. We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance.
"We accept that this issue shouldn't have arisen and we will make sure it doesn't happen in the future," a spokesperson from the ECB had said. News source PTI
Chris Silverwood, the England Men’s Head has picked a 16 player squad for The Royal London ODI Series against Sri Lanka commencing at Emirates Riverside, Durham on Tuesday 29 June 2021.
England ODI Squad
Eoin Morgan (Captain)Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
George Garton, a fast bowler from Sussex is selected in the squad for the first time. Having been a key player of Sussex in white-ball cricket over the past few years and been a member of the England system through the Lions since 2016, the left-arm pacer will be looking to make the most of this opportunity in the Royal London Series.
England Men’s Head Coach, Chris Silverwood, said: “We have been monitoring the progress of George Garton for quite some time. He has been a significant part of Sussex’s bowling unit in white-ball cricket for an extended period. His ability to bowl quick with his point of difference being a left-armer certainly gives us options in this series, and he deserves his chance at this level.
“This ODI series is important as we continue to build momentum ahead of the 2023 World Cup. Despite some injuries, the squad I have selected is strong and gives us depth across all departments. We are looking forward to competing and putting on a show for the fans.
“Several players are not available for selection due to injury. Jofra Archer (right elbow), Saqib Mahmood (abdominal) and Reece Topley (side strain) are all missing, but continue to make excellent progress from their respective injuries.
“We are pleased that Ben Stokes is returning to action with Durham this weekend after recovering from a fractured finger. If everything goes to plan, I hope he could be available for selection for the Vitality IT20 series against Pakistan next month.
“Unfortunately, following the second Test at Edgbaston against New Zealand, Olly Stone has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his lower back and will miss the rest of the summer with the injury. It is a great shame as Olly was showing real promise with the ball and would have been part of our selection plans for this series.”
The Royal London ODI Series
1st ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Tuesday 29 June 2021, Emirates Riverside, Durham (11.00am BST)
2nd ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Thursday 1 July 2021, Kia Oval, London (1.00pm BST)
3rd ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Sunday 4 July 2021, County Ground, Bristol (11.00am BST)