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Will go all out in the final Test: Virat

India captain marks out positives from the Ranchi draw, heaps praise on Pujara, Saha & Jadeja

In a span of five days, emotions were on a high, momentum shifts changed the course of the game and there were standout performances from either teams that marked the end of a well fought Test match. Australia captain Steve Smith was of the opinion that his side had the momentum going into the final Test at Dharamsala. India captain Virat Kohli though was focussed on his side’s goals and positives going into the final Test.

“Everyone has their point of view. We will look at our positives and we are happy with where we brought the game to after just one innings,” Virat said. “We put ourselves in a position to win, so we feel it was a very good effort to get into a winning situation. If you are playing against the No. 2 side, you will expect that they will come out and fight, not just roll over. We didn’t need to bat in the second innings and they had to play for a draw. They will look at their positives and we will look at our positives and move forward. There is still one match to go, both will give their best.”

For India, it was a marathon innings from Cheteshwar Pujara that stood tall along with his batting partner Wriddhiman Saha who notched up his third Test ton. Virat for starters was all praise for Pujara.

“You know sometimes I feel really bad for him. People don’t understand his importance so much in this team and what a valuable player he is for us. He is the most composed player we have in the team. He is willing to grind for his runs, he doesn’t mind batting under pressure and he likes to take a challenge. Someone like that is priceless to have in the team.

“When the pressure situation comes up, he is someone who will put his hand up and play long for the team and hold up one end, which I think is a great quality. This season he has been outstanding. He has not been spoken about much or has been in the focus too much but he deserves much more than that. People need to stand up and take notice of what he has done this season, he has been outstanding with the bat and hopefully, he will continue that in the last Test.

“Saha's knock again was brilliant for us,” Virat continued speaking about the mammoth 199-run stand that Saha and Pujara shared. “He's always stood up when the team needs him and this game was no different. His partnership with Pujara was the reason we had a go at winning this Test. He is one guy who is always willing to do anything for the team. Wherever we ask him to bat, he bats. He plays any kind of role - positive, defensive and whatever we ask him to do, he never says no. I am really happy he performed in a big pressure match, in a difficult situation and put us in a position to have a shot at winning the game.”

Yes, India played well but Australia were no different when they were put under the pump in the second innings. Battling from four wickets down at Lunch to batting time and taking the match towards a draw was commendable, according to Virat. “I don’t want to take any credit away from their effort. They batted very well. Four down by lunch, and after that they didn’t lose a wicket in the entire session. So, credit to them. When someone plays well, you have to give them credit, we understand that.”

He also heaped praise on his bowlers, Jadeja, who in particular was outstanding with a match tally of nine wickets. “Jadeja’s bowling was outstanding in this match. All the bowlers bowled very well but Jadeja in my opinion was standout. If you look at his economy, on this pitch it was high-class bowling and that showed why he is the joint No. 1 bowler alongside Ashwin.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

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ICC Women’s World Cup schedule announced

India to face host England in the tournament opener at Derby County Ground on June 24

The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the full match schedule for the ICC Women’s World Cup in England and Wales on Wednesday, March 8.

The tournament will get underway on Saturday, 24 June as 28 matches will be held over 21 days, including four weekends, meaning more opportunities for fans to attend. A round-robin between the world’s eight best teams will conclude with the semi-finals at Bristol and Derby before the final at Lord’s on 23 July.

David Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive, said: “I can’t think of a better moment than International Women’s Day to unveil the schedule of one of the leading global events in women’s sport.

“We are anticipating an exciting tournament and I know the players are looking forward to competing here in front of unprecedented levels of support. We’ve already sold 9000 tickets for the final at Lord’s which bodes well for the rest of the event going on sale today. I know we can always count on the British sport loving public to support big events.

“After the extremely successful qualifying tournament in Sri Lanka last month, we can already see that there will be some fiercely contested fixtures as the standard and competitiveness of women’s cricket continues to rise.”

Steve Elworthy, the Managing Director of the ICC Women’s World Cup, said: “We are extremely excited about the ICC Women’s World Cup being staged at four outstanding county grounds which I am sure will provide the best possible showcase for the top players in the women’s game.

Host England faces India on the opening day in a highly anticipated fixture in Derby while powerhouse New Zealand faces qualifier Sri Lanka in Bristol on the same day – 24 June. India will feature in four games in Derby, including the much anticipated clash with arch rival Pakistan on Sunday, 2 July. India will also take on the West Indies in Taunton, Australia in Bristol and South Africa in Leicester.

England will take on the six-time and reigning champion Australia in Bristol on Sunday, 9 July and the highly fancied New Zealand in Derby on 12 July. The big-hitting West Indies team, runner-up in the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup, will play three matches in Taunton including the repeat of the Mumbai final against Australia in the opening match at the County Ground on 26 June.

Leicester will be the home venue for Pakistan with five of its seven matches being staged at Grace Road including matches against England on 27 June and Australia on 5 July.

The two semi-finals will be in Derby and Bristol on 18 and 20, culminating with a Lord’s final on 23 July.

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