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Govt has no say in India’s Davis Cup participation in Pakistan: Rijiju

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Sports Minister on Monday said the government will not have any say on whether India should participate in next month’s tie in Pakistan as the event is not a bilateral engagement.


India’s participation in the Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 tie, scheduled on September 14 and 15 in Islamabad, is uncertain owing to high political tensions with Pakistan.


The country has downgraded diplomatic ties with India after provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, were done away with and the state was turned into a Union Territory.


“If it is a bilateral sporting event, then whether India will play with Pakistan becomes a political decision. But is not a bilateral and is organised by a world sporting body,” Rijiju said on the sidelines of an event of the ministry of youth affairs.


“Since India is a signatory to the Olympic charter. Therefore, the government of India or the national federation do not have a say on whether India will participate or not,” he added.


The All India Tennis Association (AITA) will be seeking a neural venue for the tie but its Pakistani counterpart on Sunday made it clear that it would not agree to a change as preparations are already underway in Islamabad.


The AITA will cite the diplomatic tensions and security concerns while seeking a change of venue from the ITF.


No Indian Davis Cup team has travelled to Pakistan since 1964 and bilateral cricket ties between the two countries have been dormant since the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.


Since 2017, Pakistan have played four of their five home ties in Islamabad, hosting Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Iran. Hong Kong had refused to travel to Pakistan in 2017, giving them a walkover.


The last time Pakistan played on a neutral venue was when it hosted China in Colombo in 2016.


In 2015, Pakistan played both their home ties on neutral venues. They played Chinese Taipei in Turkey while hosting Kuwait in Colombo.



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Keemo Paul ruled out of first Test, Miguel Cummins named replacement

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All-rounder Kemmo Paul has been ruled out of the first Test against India due to an ankle injury and pacer Miguel Cummins was named as his replacement by Cricket West Indies.


Paul was ruled out due to an injury in his left ankle and will remain in Antigua to continue his rehabilitation.


“With Keemo ruled out for this match, it’s good to have someone with Miguel’s quality back in the squad, as he brings experience to the team,” Windies interim head coach Floyd Reifer said in a statement.


Cummins had made his Test debut against India three years ago and took a career best 6 for 48 in the second innings of the second match of the four-Test series.


“Watching him in the last A Team series against India A and the training sessions his lengths have improved. He’s a very hard worker and a wicket-taker. I’m sure, if given the opportunity to play, he will make a valuable contribution in our bid to win this series,” he added.


The first Test beginning on Thursday marks the start of the ICC World Test Championship for both teams. In this series, each team can earn 60 points for a win or 20 points for a draw.



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Ramnaresh Sarwan feels Windies can give India a run for their money

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While many would think that India will have a walk in the park in their Test series against West Indies, former WI skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan begs to differ. He feels that the boys can give the Indian team a run for their money if they join hands and perform as a unit.


“If we can collectively play well, we have a chance of beating India. We have individual talents, but it is a matter of playing well as a unit. Hopefully, we will be able to play as a team. At the end of the day, once we gel as a unit, we have a chance of winning,” Sarwan said.


The wicket could turn out to be the difference as tracks in the Caribbean Islands have slowed down over the years and the ball may once again lose pace on the wicket, making it difficult for the batsmen to play their shots. Sarwan feels the home team needs to make best use of the conditions on offer.


“Yeah, ideally you would want a fast wicket in Antigua. We have to ensure we play well on whatever wicket we play on. Obviously, the guys would have plans and if they are able to execute 70-80 per cent of the time, we would have a good chance of winning,” he said.


Commenting on the camp at the start of the Test series, he said: “It has been really well. We had Brian (Lara) as well, the way he put everything to them was very simple, guys understood him. The guys really applied themselves in the pre-series camp.


“Mostly we have tried to work on the mental aspect with them. We did not want to change anyone, just tried to keep them in a clear mindset, hopefully, they will be able to take it to the game. Brian stressed the need to be patient in the middle.”


 


 



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Akhtar wants ‘match-winner’ Rohit in playing 11 in opening Test against WI

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Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has backed India’s limited-overs deputy to be a part of the playing XI for the opening Test against West Indies and feels that not picking the batsman will be ‘wrong.


Speaking on his official Youtube channel, Akhtar said that since Rohit was a part of the squad for the two-match Test series against the Windies, it was important that he should also be given a chance in the XI to go out and grab his opportunity.


“I know Rohit has been given chances to play in the Test format earlier and he has not been able to grab on to the opportunity. But I believe he should be included in the team. He is a big match-winner, and not including him will be wrong. He is in good form and he should be given a chance right away,” the 44-year-old expressed.


“When you have selected him in the squad, leaving him out of the playing XI should not be an option. I believe he will showcase his talent in the longest format of the game, he will become a great player in the Test format as well,” Akhtar added.


Meanwhile, speaking on the Indian team, which had crashed out of the ICC World Cup after losing the semi-final contest against New Zealand this year, Akhtar also said the Virat Kohli-led team has recovered well. Earlier, India had outclassed West Indies in the just concluded T20I and ODI series.


“The team has recovered well after the World Cup set-back, and I believe they will perform well against West Indies in the Test series,” Akhtar concluded.


 



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