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Pakistan Seek To Allay Major Concerns In Cricket World Cup Opener

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Pakistan would be desperate to plug the gaping holes and hope their star players regain form when they open their World Cup campaign against a free spirited Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday. Following a pre-mature Asia Cup exit and defeats in the two warm-up games, Pakistan definitely need to raise their game to go deep in the ODI showpiece. The problems begin from the top with the opening combination not looking the most threatening in the competition. Imam-Ul-Haq averages an impressive 50 in ODIs but on flatter decks in India, he need to better his strike rate of 82 by a few notches.

Imam is expected to start against Netherlands but the team will need to choose between the destructive but out-of-form Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique who doesn’t have the experience of world events.

The big positive for the unpredictable team is that its number three and four, skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, are in sublime touch. Iftikhar Ahmed too has been getting the runs but it remains to be seen if Salman Agha also gets accommodated in the middle-order.

If the warm-ups are an indication, the game on Friday is expected to be another high-scoring affair with bowlers having no margin for error. Getting used to the varied conditions in India will be another challenge for Babar and his players, who don’t get to play in the IPL like the players of other teams.

“The boundaries are small. There is no margin for the bowlers. If the bowling is a little bit off, the batsman utilizes it. So, there will be high scores. You will have to play accordingly,” said Babar.

In the absence of injured Naseem Shah, the Pakistan bowlers were at the receiving end in the couple of warm-ups against New Zealand and Australia. Pakistan vice-captain Shadab Khan has been struggling since Asia Cup and goes into the opener under pressure.

Fellow leg-spinner Usama Mir is breathing down his neck and there is a possibility that both may start against the Netherlands as Pakistan search for wickets in the middle overs .

The seasoned Hasan Ali has big shoes to fill in Naseem’s absence as he will open the bowling alongside Shaheen Afridi.

Haris Rauf, who leaked 97 runs in nine overs against Australia, too need be at his best if Pakistan are to advance in the competition.

Of late, Pakistan have left a lot to be desired in the fielding department and will be looking to correct that. Netherlands, the only associate team in the competition, cannot be taken lightly and it’s only better for Pakistan to face them early in the competition before taking on the bigger teams.

Netherlands, playing their first ODI World Cup since 2011, go into the competition a bit short on game time. Both their warm-ups were hit by rain and they last played an ODI in the Qualifiers in July when they finished ahead of West Indies and another full-member Ireland. Wesley Barresi, the only one in the current lot who played in 2011, has come out of retirement for his last dance. Former South African left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe, 38, is another key member of the squad.

The team which is packed with semi professionals will rely on Andhra-born Teja Nidamanuru for runs in the middle-order.

All-rounder Bas de Leede, whose father Tim has also featured in World Cups, is the x-factor player for Netherlands.

His 123 off 92 balls against Scotland in the Qualifiers went a long way in Netherlands’ securing their entry to the World Cup in India. Scott Edwards will captain the side. Having come this far, Netherlands have nothing to lose and Pakistan will be wary of that.

Squad:

Netherlands: Scott Edwards (c), Max O’Dowd, Bas de Leede, Vikram Singh, Teja Nidamanuru, Paul van Meekeren, Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe, Logan van Beek, Aryan Dutt, Ryan Klein, Wesley Barresi, Saqib Zulfiqar, Shariz Ahmad, Sybrand Engelbrecht.

Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Ishan Kishan chose not to play in the Test series against South Africa due to “mental fatigue” and constant traveling.

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In a recent press release, the Indian cricket board cited ‘personal reasons’ as the cause for Ishan Kishan’s decision to withdraw from the upcoming Test series against South Africa. Despite being a constant companion with the Indian team, Kishan found himself on the field only when regular players were unavailable. The constant travel and uncertainty surrounding his playing opportunities led to ‘mental fatigue,’ prompting the wicketkeeper-batsman to take a break from the Test series starting next Tuesday.

Sources from The Indian Express reveal that Kishan had approached the Indian team management during their South Africa tour last week, expressing the need for a break after a year of non-stop travel. The team management discussed his request with the selectors, who agreed to Kishan’s decision.

“He communicated to the team management about experiencing mental fatigue and expressed the desire for a cricket break. Everyone concurred,” confirmed a source to this paper.

In an earlier press release, the Indian board had cited ‘personal reasons’ for Kishan’s withdrawal from the upcoming Test series.

“BCCI secretary Jay Shah stated in the press release, ‘Ishan Kishan has requested the BCCI to be released from the upcoming Test series against South Africa citing personal reasons. The wicketkeeper has subsequently been withdrawn from the Test squad, and KS Bharat has been named as a replacement.'”

Kishan had been a part of every Indian squad since January 3, 2023, constantly on the road without substantial playing time. Despite playing the initial games in the 50-over World Cup and the T20I series against Australia, Kishan found himself on the sidelines during the South Africa tour, with the team management preferring Jitesh Sharma over him.

The hectic cricketing calendar, starting with the Sri Lanka series in January, followed by the home series against Australia, the IPL season with Mumbai Indians, and subsequent tours to England and the West Indies, contributed to Kishan’s decision to take a break. His involvement in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and a three-ODI series at home against Australia before the World Cup added to his exhaustive schedule.

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Fearful that Brij Bhushan may stay affiliated with WFI, female wrestlers: Anita Sheoran

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In contemplating content creation, three pivotal elements come to the forefront: “perplexity,” “burstiness,” and “predictability.” Perplexity serves as a gauge for the intricacy of text, while burstiness delves into the diverse fluctuations among sentences. Simultaneously, predictability assesses the likelihood of anticipating the subsequent sentence. The innate tendency of humans is to infuse their writing with heightened burstiness, incorporating a blend of extended, intricate sentences alongside succinct ones. Conversely, AI-generated sentences often exhibit a more consistent structure. Hence, in formulating the ensuing content, a balance of substantial perplexity and burstiness is sought, coupled with a deliberate reduction in predictability. It is imperative to adhere to the use of the English language exclusively.

Now, let’s reimagine the provided text:

Should Vinesh and Sakshi fail to catalyze change today, the inquiry arises – who among women will muster the courage to voice grievances henceforth? Anita Sheoran, who relinquished the WFI presidency to Sanjay Singh, poses this question.

In a conversation with The Indian Express, former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anita Sheoran reflects on the ramifications of her defeat to Sanjay Singh in the WFI presidential race, shedding light on what the election outcomes signify for women wrestlers and the stifling of their voices.

You contested in the WFI elections. Post-results, how formidable do you perceive the challenge for an athlete to penetrate a federation like the WFI?

Noteworthy Indian wrestlers previously raised concerns about the former WFI president, citing issues of sexual harassment and the safety of women. Yet, even for these prominent athletes, victory seems elusive. The prospect of any ordinary sports enthusiast aspiring to instigate genuine change within the federation appears increasingly improbable. Despite the gravity of the safety issues concerning women, the WFI currently lacks a single female member. Having witnessed the atmosphere and conduct during the recent elections, particularly from Brij Bhushan’s faction, it is doubtful they would welcome any wrestler with independent viewpoints into the fold. Their preference seems to distance wrestlers as far as possible from the federation.

Each time I view Sakshi’s video, a sense of melancholy pervades. Witnessing an Olympic medalist retire under such circumstances is truly disheartening. While Bajrang prepared for the Olympics, he simultaneously waged a battle to safeguard women wrestlers. The same holds for Vinesh Phogat. They bravely advocated for women’s voices, yet what awaits them today? Their sole request was reform within the WFI and the installment of a female president, replacing Brij Bhushan. Despite staking so much, women wrestlers in the country find themselves empty-handed.

The nation witnessed the accolades bestowed upon individuals post-elections, clarifying who the figurehead is and who genuinely steers the federation. The WFI remains unaltered, devoid of any transformative initiatives. Who will be the harbinger of change? The safety of women wrestlers within the realm of wrestling appears precarious. Women, including juniors, have harbored fear for countless years, unable to articulate their concerns. Now, the voices of women wrestlers face renewed suppression. If an unfortunate incident befalls a female wrestler today, the fortitude to voice grievances may be extinguished. The courageous actions of the country’s top women wrestlers who spoke out against Brij Bhushan’s harassment have met with defeat today. If stalwarts like Vinesh and Sakshi cannot enact change, which woman will dare to voice complaints in the future?

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India vs. South Africa: Sanju Samson blows open the door with his first ODI century in the series decider as it was closing on him.

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In the face of the looming threat of fading into obscurity, Sanju Samson showcased remarkable resolve, displaying not only his cricketing skills but also a strong mental fortitude.

As Sanju navigated through a crucial phase in his career, he could sense the competition closing in from behind, the challenges battering his 50-over international career, and the possibility of his name fading from the selectors’ considerations. Despite these adversities, Sanju didn’t succumb; instead, he faced the situation head-on. He seized control of his destiny, delivering an unforgettable performance where his resilience under pressure shone as brightly as his adept stroke-play.

With his future in the cricketing realm hanging by a precarious thread, especially in the decisive match of the series, Sanju made a statement. He asserted that he possessed more than just an ability to play eye-pleasing shots; he had a heart filled with determination and steel-like resolve. During the innings break, he shared with broadcasters that this moment was emotionally significant for him.

Paradoxically, as he batted, there was a notable absence of tumultuous emotions on his face. Sanju played without the burden of pressure or baggage. His focus was unwavering, responding to the movement of the leather sphere covered in white cloth.

His eyes remained cold, his expression stern and serious. Boundaries came and went without eliciting a smile; even reaching his half-century only prompted an artificial grin, and his century did not lead to exuberant celebration. Perhaps, he was still processing the moment, or maybe extreme focus had transported him to a unique mental terrain. Regardless of the twists and turns in his career, that Thursday afternoon at Boland Park would forever bring a content smile to his face—a dream realized, though the setting was far from his hometown of Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

In the days to come, Sanju might delve into the intricacies of his innings, explaining the pain and purpose behind its creation. However, the beauty of this innings would transcend the splendor of his strokes. Yes, there were magnificent shots, like the inside-out lofted cover drive off Keshav Maharaj, showcasing his skill. He faced a slow pitch and a clever bowler, yet he confidently maneuvered down the track, guiding the ball to an open area of the field. There were pulled fours and a powerful six off Nandre Burger.

Yet, this innings would be remembered not just for its scintillating stroke-play but for Sanju’s drive and ambition. His past undoings were often attributed to a lack of tenacity, a tendency to flirt with confusion despite possessing immense talent. At Boland Park, nestled between the Groot-Berg River and the Paarl Mountain, Sanju realized that dealing with fire required ice. The most striking feature of his innings was the clarity of his mind, the absence of confusion, and his situational awareness, demonstrating timely responses. It seemed as if Sanju was running away from his own shadow.

During his 167-minute stay, he made hardly a wrong move. There were no edges, no strokes born out of frustration. Yet, the lurking threat of implosion seemed ever-present. The start was brisk, and when he push-drove Beuran Hendricks for his third boundary, he reached 26 off 33 balls—a steady pace following the openers’ brisk start of 35 runs in five overs.

However, the real challenge awaited. The ball lost its shine, the pitch slowed down, and batting became an arduous task. KL Rahul struggled for 21 off 35 balls, and Tilak Varma managed only seven runs from his first 30 balls. The run rate plummeted, and dot balls accumulated like shoppers in Chandni Chowk on Diwali eve.

Yet, Sanju persevered. Moving from 38 to 64 (26 runs), he consumed 44 balls, hitting just one four during this period. The pitch was so sluggish that even part-time off-spinner Aiden Markram was approached cautiously.

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