Root: Pitch not to blame for England defeat


England captain Joe Root says team “outplayed” by India on tough surface as they lose second Test by 317 runs; skipper feels his men can learn from the way the hosts found control with the ball and batted calmly; third Test in Ahmedabad from February 24

Last Updated: 16/02/21 10:01am

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England captain Joe Root says his squad must not get too down about their heavy defeat in the second Test against India.

England captain Joe Root says his squad must not get too down about their heavy defeat in the second Test against India.

Joe Root refused to blame the spin-friendly Chennai pitch for England’s thumping defeat to India in the second Test – and has urged his side to learn from the difficult conditions they faced.
England were spun out for 134 and 164 at MA Chidambaram Stadium on a dusty surface as India wrapped up a 317-run victory on day four to level the four-match series at 1-1.Rohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin completed hundreds for India and Root says the hosts showed England a template for scoring runs on unhelpful tracks for batsmen. Root says his side must learn from the challenging conditions they faced in Chennai (Pic credit – BCCI) “I wouldn’t say it was a good pitch but it made for very exciting cricket and it was not the reason we lost the game. We were outplayed in all three departments,” said the England skipper.”For us, it’s a bit of an education. It was a surface that spun a huge amount and bounced more than we anticipated but we should take that as a learning and be better for it the next time we experience conditions that are similar.”The toss was an important one to win – but it wouldn’t have guaranteed us a win either. India showed you can score runs and found a way of managing a very tricky surface.”Our batters need to learn from how India rotated strike, while what I took from how they played was how calm and unflustered they were. When a delivery really misbehaved, they didn’t waver from their game-plan.” Ravichandran Ashwin (pictured) and Rohit Sharma scored centuries for India in the second Test (Pic credit – BCCI) Root – whose side will be looking to bounce back in the day-night third Test in Ahmedabad from February 24 with their six-match winning streak in overseas Tests having been snapped – also felt his bowlers could have been more frugal on day one when India reached 300-6 after electing to bat.”We have to find ways of building pressure for long periods of time with the ball, bowling six balls at one batter, which India made very difficult for us.”Can we string maidens together and force wickets through very disciplined passages of play? I think India did that better than us.”On day one we could probably have been a bit tighter and squeezed the game, making it hard for them to score freely. The four-match Test series is tied at 1-1 heading into the third Test, a day-night fixture in Ahmedabad from February 24 “We have to learn from the opposition, who played very well, but we are 1-1 in the series and there are two very important games to come.”We are very excited about that because of how well we played in the first game. We are very much in this series. It’s set up very nicely.”We have to stay level. We don’t get above our station when we win and it’s not all doom and gloom when we have tough weeks.”It is very important we stay level as a team. We have to learn but that is one thing we have done well in recent times so hopefully we can take that into the rest of the series.” 0:52 Root says he understands Moeen Ali’s decision to leave England’s bio-secure bubble and return home to his family Root says he understands Moeen Ali’s decision to leave England’s bio-secure bubble and return home to his family Root – who also confirmed that all-rounder Moeen Ali will miss the rest of the series having opted to fly home – said Ben Stokes only bowled two overs in the game for tactical reasons, not due to injury.”Ben is fit and able to bowl but, on that surface, you look at the overs of seam bowled and it was minimal,” said Root.”I’m sure Ben will have an impact on this series with the ball as he did in the first game. He can grab big moments and turn them on their head.”Pressed on whether he wanted to include the rested James Anderson, who had starred with a scintillating spell of reverse-swing bowling on day five of the first Test, Root added: “It was discussed. “But we need to look at the series as a whole. The pink-ball game looks an exciting opportunity for someone like him to have a real impact.”Follow text commentary of the day-night third Test between India and England in Ahmedabad on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 8.30am on Wednesday, February 24.

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Reid and Hewett defend men’s wheelchair title


British duo Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett equal the domestic record set by brothers Laurence and Reginald Doherty, who won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles, all at Wimbledon, between 1897 and 1906 with Australian Open glory in the men’s wheelchair event

By PA Media
Last Updated: 16/02/21 6:15am

Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett claimed more Grand Slam glory at the Australian Open

Gordon Reid and Alfie Hewett claimed a British record-equalling 10th Grand Slam doubles title as a team when they successfully defended their men’s wheelchair title in Melbourne.
The top seeds beat French pair Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to also extend to five their winning streak of victories in available Grand Slams.Hewett said: “To win back to back is an awesome feeling, especially with the situation at the moment, not knowing how many opportunities we’re going to have to compete this year.” Reid and Hewett equalled the domestic record set by brothers Laurence and Reginald Doherty, who won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles, all at Wimbledon, between 1897 and 1906. Reid added: “Obviously it’s been an amazing ride – when we started playing with each other Alfie was just a young kid coming up, finishing school, and I was number one in world doubles at the time.”It was a bit of a gamble to be honest, at that stage, obviously one I’m happy that I took, and it’s paying off nicely for us now.”Andy Lapthorne and American partner Dylan Wagner lost their quad wheelchair doubles final to top-seeded Australians Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson 6-2 3-6 10-7. Reid and Hewett pose with the championship trophy after winning the men’s wheelchair doubles title Lapthorne returned last month after announcing, having lost two French Open finals in October, that he was taking time away from the game in order to focus on his mental health.He said: “It was difficult, I’m not going to lie, especially in that 10-point tie-breaker when all of a sudden the pressure comes and the anxiety and all those feelings I had back at Roland Garros.”But I’m battling away, and I’m trying my best each day to work on myself and work on my mind and it’s small steps, and it was nice just to be back out there.” Lucy Shuker and South African partner Kgothatso Montjane lost their women’s wheelchair doubles final to Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot 6-4 6-1.Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/tennis, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports – on the go! Available to download now on – iPhone & iPad and Android

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Brilliant Foakes reignites England wicketkeeping debate


Ben Foakes was superb with the gloves on a big-turning Chennai surface (Pic credit: BCCI)

With two days left in Chennai, it is a matter of when rather than if an England defeat is confirmed.
Joe Root’s side need another 429 runs to win with only seven wickets remaining on a raging turner against an India side with three high-quality spinners in their ranks.So, yes, when that final wicket goes down, you can expect plenty of discussion over the tourists’ rotation policy that saw them make four changes to the XI that claimed a famous win in the first Test. India have comprehensively outplayed England over the past three days but of the four players brought into the visitors’ side, it is arguably only Stuart Broad – England’s player of 2020 and a man with 517 Test wickets – who has struggled to make an impact in the game, and that is as much due to the conditions restricting his involvement as anything else.Olly Stone has impressed after coming in for the injured Jofra Archer and while Moeen Ali would admit he was not at his best in India’s first innings, he was much improved second time around, removed Virat Kohli in both innings and finished with eight wickets in the match. Moeen Ali dismissed Virat Kohli in both innings after being recalled to the England XI (Pic credit:- BCCI) Then, there’s Ben Foakes.The Surrey wicketkeeper’s inclusion for this game was the most pre-determined of all the changes, it was essentially confirmed the moment national selector Ed Smith revealed that Jos Buttler would return to the UK following the first Test, missing the next three before returning for the white-ball leg of the tour.Putting aside all discussion over whether key players should be taken out of the side for three-quarters of such a big series, the timing actually seemed to work quite nicely.The long-running debate over who should keep wicket for England had died down following Buttler’s efforts with both bat and gloves since the start of last summer.The Lancashire man was established as first choice and was doing well enough that even though some might still prefer Foakes, or perhaps Jonny Bairstow, it was not a pressing issue. Additionally, Foakes getting his chance in India was a convenient way of keeping a good player, and excellent gloveman, involved at the start of a hectic year in which he may well need to be called upon again. Jos Buttler returned home after the first Test as part of England’s rotation policy (Pic credit: BCCI) Instead, Foakes has spent much of the Test trying to get the whole debate raging once more with a faultless display with the gloves in India’s first innings, an assured unbeaten 42 as England slumped to 134 all out in their first dig and then, on day three, producing a morning session masterclass behind the stumps that included two fantastic stumpings.It was Foakes’ 28th birthday but it was Jack Leach receiving the presents as the wicketkeeper’s lightning-fast hands caught Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant out of their ground as great keepers of the past purred on social media. This is an absolute master class from Ben Foakes behind the stumps 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 #INDvsENG— Matt Prior (@MattPrior13) February 15, 2021 Of course, it is worth remembering that Buttler did not put a foot wrong behind the stumps either in Sri Lanka or in the first Test in Chennai and has proven himself to be extremely reliable when stood back in home conditions, too.However, if it came down purely to glove work then Foakes would be donning the gloves for England in every Test – well perhaps not in this year of rotation. He is the superior gloveman and it is when you see displays like the one on day three that you appreciate why Alec Stewart has repeatedly labelled Foakes the best pure wicketkeeper in the world. Keepers with 5+ stumpings in their first 6 Tests for England:Edward Tylecote 1882-86Les Ames 1929-31Ben Foakes 2018-21— Andrew Samson (@AWSStats) February 15, 2021 … and Ben Foakes is the first keeper to take 2 stumpings on his birthday in a Test match.— Andrew Samson (@AWSStats) February 15, 2021 Foakes did blot his copybook with a couple of missed stumpings, tough though they were (the second may actually have taken an edge which negates the stumping chance somewhat but then becomes a dropped catch, so take your pick).This is not to say that he isn’t the best, only to highlight that even picking your best man with the gloves – even if he is the world’s best – does not guarantee that every catch will be taken or every stumping completed.In any case, the days of wicketkeepers being able to stay in the side based only on what they offer behind the stumps are long gone, they need to be contributing with the bat as well. “He’s the best gloveman England have had for a number of years… but we’ll always come back to the fact that it’s a full package with batting.” Steve Harmison on Ben Foakes (Pic credit: BCCI) The reason Buttler found his spot in the team under threat at the beginning of last summer had nothing to do with his wicketkeeping and everything to do with a lack of runs.Equally, once he found his form with the bat – playing a match-winning knock against Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford before making a century at the Ageas Bowl later in the series – he was never in danger of being dropped after a couple of blemishes with the gloves.Buttler averages 52.76 with the bat in his last nine Tests following a barren series in South Africa last winter, compared to a career average of 34.53 in 50 Tests, and after years spent trying to find the best way to bring his explosive white-ball game to the longer format, he has finally looked at home in the red-ball arena.By comparison, Foakes is halfway through his sixth Test and boasts an average of 46.74. Four of those matches have been in the subcontinent and even in his short international career, Foakes has shown himself to have the game and the temperament to succeed in spin-friendly conditions. Foakes showed his ability to produce with the bat in England’s first innings (Pic credit: BCCI) You only have to look at England’s first innings in this match to see how valuable that is.It is actually against seam bowling that Foakes has struggled so far at Test level. He is yet to play a home Test but he was dropped two games into the series in the Caribbean early in 2019 after averaging just 13.75 against the West Indies’ four-pronged pace attack. In his Test career so far, Foakes has been much more comfortable against spin, than pace. He’s averaged 64.75 against spinners, compared to just 22.25 against quicks – he’s fallen every 43 balls to the latter. #INDvENG— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) February 14, 2021 Judging him by such a small sample size would be unfair but it might explain why England were less keen than some to throw Foakes in for Buttler last year when the latter was out of sorts with the bat.The pink-ball Test in Ahmedabad may give Foakes more of an opportunity to show what he can offer when the ball is doing a bit for the pace bowlers and with home series against New Zealand and India before the Ashes in Australia, he will have to do so soon enough if he wants to displace Buttler long term.England do have the option of playing them together and using Buttler as a frontline batsman, but with Ollie Pope set to continue his development at No 6 for a while yet, it is highly unlikely they will consider such an option any time soon. How good has Ben Foakes been! Such a joy to watch a top performer on a tough pitch. Just imagine, he couldn’t have played on too many pitches like this one and still, he is at home on it.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) February 15, 2021 In all likelihood, Buttler – who it should not be forgotten is also considered a hugely valuable member of the leadership group within the squad – will reclaim the gloves for the Tests against New Zealand. I would say that given his form and that, strictly speaking, he is the man in possession, you cannot argue with that but, of course, plenty will.That is credit to Foakes and all he can do is continue to show his class with the gloves, contribute with the bat and make sure that there is still a debate to be had by the end of this series. Oh, and just to make it interesting, Bairstow is back in contention for the third Test, too…Follow text commentary of day four of the second Test between India and England in Chennai on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 3.50am on Tuesday.

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Sciver: NZ tour chance to build for World Cup defence


World champions England did not play a 50-over game in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; England, captained by Heather Knight, to face New Zealand in three ODIs and as many T20s in February and March

Last Updated: 15/02/21 10:30am

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Nat Sciver says England are excited to be back playing international cricket again ahead of three ODIs and three T20Is against New Zealand in February and March

Nat Sciver says England are excited to be back playing international cricket again ahead of three ODIs and three T20Is against New Zealand in February and March

England all-rounder Nat Sciver says the tour of New Zealand provides a welcome opportunity to “build as a team” towards their World Cup title defence next year.
Sciver is acting as captain Heather Knight’s deputy for the tourists, in the absence of injured fast bowler Anya Shrubsole, ahead of three one-day internationals from February 23, with three Twenty20s following from March 3.England did not play any 50-over cricket in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the World Cup in New Zealand being postponed until February-March 2022. “When we heard that a lot of the tournaments that were planned had been postponed it was sort of a strange feeling knowing that you would have to motivate yourself in a different way in terms of your training and stuff,” Sciver told Sky Sports News.”For now, the focus is the [New Zealand] series and being up for that.”Having one eye on the World Cup will be important as well. I think being able to build as a team and hopefully be peaking by the time the tournament comes back around.” Nat Sciver was part of England’s World Cup-winning side in 2017 on home soil Sciver says the squad, who have undergone a 14-day quarantine period since their arrival in New Zealand, are grateful to be playing international cricket.England’s whitewash T20 series victory against West Indies in September on home soil was their only international action since their semi-final run at the T20 World Cup in Australia in February and March last year.”It’s been quite tough getting back into the slightly longer format of the game,” added Sciver, who top-scored with 75 from 74 balls in their first warm-up game in Queenstown on Sunday. “It’s been brilliant to even the chance to come over here and play any cricket really, knowing that some international teams haven’t played yet.”Just to have that focus again really, something to motivate you when you are training and doing all the things that can be tough. We are in a great spot at the minute.”Sciver says the absence of experienced team-mate Shrubsole is a blow but admits it will provide an opportunity for other bowlers to impress.”It is a great chance for someone to have an opportunity that they may not have had before,” the 28-year-old said. “Natasha Farrant has come back into the squad having missed out over the last few years and showed she has been working really hard while she wasn’t in the squad.”Equally it gives a chance for those who have been around to give them a chance to open the bowling.”

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Board chief criticises Bangladesh skipper and coach


Bangladesh were beaten 2-0 in their home series against West Indies, narrowly failing to chase down a target of 231 in the second Test as they were bowled out for 213 despite Tamim Iqbal’s innings of 50

Last Updated: 15/02/21 9:24am

Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque has been criticised, along with coach Russell Domingo, after his side’s Test series defeat at home to West Indies

Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan has hit out at captain Mominul Haque and coach Russell Domingo over ‘intolerable’ selection and strategy following the Test series defeat to West Indies.
Hassan was angered by the Tigers’ choice of Soumya Sarkar – describing the all-rounder as ‘fourth option’ to replace the injured Shakib Al Hasan – as well as the deployment of a spin-heavy bowling attack for the second Test in Dhaka.West Indies won by 17 runs to seal a 2-0 series triumph and Hassan, who was infuriated by his lack of access to the Bangladesh squad in their bio-secure bubble, was quick to voice his dissatisfaction. The Board president said: “Recently our pacers did well in the domestic tournament. We have a number of pacers. But we didn’t play the pacers. Soumya Sarkar was brought into the Bangladesh side as a replacement for the injured Shakib Al Hasan “We took five pacers, closed down any room for an all-rounder but we played only one pacer. Why did we then take these pacers?”The decision-makers are the captain and the coach. We are not part of it. We will seek answers from all of them, not just the captain and the coach.”My hands are tied due to the bio-secure bubble. I am totally handicapped.”After a game, I am usually entering their dressing-room at this time, or sit in their team hotel. I haven’t been able to interact with them.” Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan was unhappy at the decisions made by captain Mominul Haque and coach Russell Domingo Hassan declared a ‘message’ would be given to the squad ahead of their white-ball tour of New Zealand, which gets begins next month. Bangladesh then travel to Sri Lanka for a three-match ODI series and Hassan added: “We have to know what’s happening, as it is becoming intolerable.”There’s however very little time. We cannot make a lot of tumult in this short time but the message will be given.”

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Defending champion Kenin out as Barty wins all-Aussie battle


Sofia Kenin, who followed her Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open last year with a run to the final at the French Open, sprayed 22 unforced errors in the 64-minute contest against the experienced Kaia Kanepi of Estonia

Last Updated: 11/02/21 6:19am

Sofia Kenin’s hopes of retaining her Australian Open women’s singles title ended in defeat (Photo by Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire)

Defending champion Sofia Kenin tumbled out out the Australian Open with a stunning second-round defeat to Kaia Kanepi but world No 1 Ashleigh Barty made it safely through.
The American claimed her maiden Grand Slam at last year’s event but any hopes of a repeat performance ended in the second round as she was well beaten 6-3 6-2 by the Estonian.Kenin has been reduced to tears on court on several occasions since she came out of quarantine in Melbourne and admitted she has been struggling to contain her nerves at the prospect of defending the title. “I felt like I obviously wasn’t there. My head wasn’t there. Obviously I’m not going to take any credit away from her. She played really well at those good points. I had chances. I just couldn’t take it. I obviously know why because the nerves big-time got to me,” admitted Kenin.”I obviously felt like I’m not there 100 per cent physically, mentally, my game. Everything just feels real off obviously. It’s not good.” Kanepi, who reached the final of the Gippsland Trophy warm-up tournament last week, was just the sort of hardened veteran who would look to exploit any mental frailties in her opponent.”I served really well today, I think this helped a lot,” the 35-year-old said. “My game plan was to play aggressive as I usually do.”Next up for Kanepi is a third-round tie against Croatian Donna Vekic, who beat Argentine Nadia Podoroska in her second-round match on Thursday. Top seed Ashleigh Barty fired down seven aces and racked up 20 winners during her win over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova Ashleigh Barty came out on top of the all-Australian battle with Daria Gavrilova to make it through to the third round.Barty looked on course for a comfortable win on the Rod Laver Arena as she was serving for the match at 6-1 5-2 before a Gavrilova comeback saw her take the second set to tiebreak.Barty, who has had the best part of a year off after opting not to travel during the coronavirus pandemic, survived set points to eventually won 6-1 7-6 (9-7). The top seed, who was wearing heavy strapping on her left leg, said there are no concerns.”It’s just a little bit of support. I played a lot of matches in the last 10 days after not playing for 12 months, which is natural. It’s more of an assistance than anything else,” said Barty.”It’s not affecting the way that I can play in any way. It’s just more giving the leg some assistance to make sure it doesn’t get to a point where it’s going to affect me.” Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, who reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park two years ago, booked a place in the third round with a 7-5 6-2 victory over American Danielle Collins.Up next for Pliskova, who is chasing her maiden Grand Slam title, is fellow Czech and 25th seed Karolina Muchova.The two are friends off the court and practised together during a mandatory two-week quarantine period before the Australian Open.”Even if we would not practise those two weeks in quarantine, we practice a lot in Czech. We’re actually quite good friends,” Pliskova said. “Of course, she’s a dangerous player. It’s going to be very tricky.”Heather Watson, Britain’s last remaining hope in the women’s singles, fell to defeat against Anett Kontaveit.The Estonian 21st seed recovered from a shaky start to beat the British No 2 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 and set up a third-round meeting with American Shelby Rogers. Switzerland’s 11th seed Belinda Bencic needed five match points to put away two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 2-6 6-4.Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/tennis, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports – on the go! Available to download now on – iPhone & iPad and Android

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Why didn’t England declare? Were they too cautious?


England bowling consultant Jon Lewis says side batted on as they did not want to give India a chance; Sky Sports’ Rob Key says tourists could have attacked more but were concerned about India’s batting line-up and should still win first Test on day five

Last Updated: 08/02/21 3:32pm

Joe Root’s England side need nine wickets on the final day against India to win the first Test (Pic credit – BCCI)

Did victory-chasing England bat on too long in their second innings against India in the first Test?
It was the question many were asking after Joe Root delayed a possible declaration – and then did not have to make the decision at all as his side were bowled out with an hour left on day four in Chennai.England spinner Jack Leach bowled Rohit Sharma with a beauty as India closed on 39-1 in pursuit of a massive 420 to win, leaving the home side needing a further 381 on day five and the visitors requiring nine wickets. England’s mindset is let’s not lose this test match – rather than, what’s the best way to win this test match and how many overs could we need ! This batting on decision is now putting a lot of pressure on England’s bowlers and particularly their spinners !— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) February 8, 2021 England bowling consultant Jon Lewis says his side “have enough in the tank” to win but will the decision not to declare come back to bite them – and why did they bat more cautiously once Ollie Pope was dismissed after tea having sped along at over four an over beforehand? England spinner Jack Leach bowled India opener Rohit Sharma with a beauty late on day four of the first Test (Pic credit – BCCI) Here are the views of Lewis and Sky Sports Cricket expert Rob Key…JON LEWIS – We didn’t want to give India a chance”We were very comfortable with the amount of overs we wanted to bowl [on Monday night]. It will give us a bite with the second new ball if required [on Tuesday]. It’s the first game of the series and while you want to get off to a really strong start you don’t really want to give India a chance to win.”Saying that, they have some fine players and you want attacking fielders around the bat for the whole of day five, especially for our spinners, so to get as many runs as we could and keep the rate high for them feels like our best chance to win the game. We are really happy where we are at – we are ahead of the game and are confident we can create enough chances to win. We just need to work hard and show the right character, do the basics really well. India have some great batters but I think we have enough in the tank to make sure we can win. England bowling consultant Jon Lewis “The guys were positive in the way they played and I don’t think it is a straightforward pitch where you can go and be reckless.”It’s a good pitch but tricky so, against experienced Indians in India, against Ravichandran Ashwin bowling well on a turning wicket, it isn’t always straightforward to smack the ball all over the place and accelerate. The guys just played the situation the best they could.”ROB KEY – Not an obvious decision to declare 1:04 Sky Sports’ Rob Key says he understands Joe Root’s decision not to declare on day four in Chennai (Pic credit – BCCI) Sky Sports’ Rob Key says he understands Joe Root’s decision not to declare on day four in Chennai (Pic credit – BCCI) “You see so many comments from ex-players and you think it is an obvious decision to declare but it’s not. England could have shown more intent, could have pulled out earlier – after tea, when Pope got out, they didn’t really go anywhere – but I reckon 99 per cent of the people commenting on it probably would have done the same thing.”Root didn’t want to give India a chance. He had safety in mind as he was worried about Rishabh Pant, Virat Kohli, this great batting line-up. He wanted to be in a position where they were just blocking rather than dangle a carrot. We can sit here and say ‘declare at 350, they are never going to get them’. But if India do get them, what impact does that have on the dressing room for the rest of the series? England have dominated for four days so to give India a bit of a chance isn’t ideal. Sir Alastair Cook, speaking to Channel 4 “There is a bit of spin but the pitch is pretty flat and slow and you look at Kohli, Shubman Gill, Ashwin, Washington Sundar. England want to bat them out of the game. They have dominated for four days and don’t want to give them a chance.”Root will be judged at the end, he might regret it but he shouldn’t. England should still win this game. “If I was Root and England don’t win, I would say to my spinners ‘Dom Bess, Jack Leach, we have set this up for you to finish. That is what you are there to do’.”Follow over-by-over text commentary of day five of the first Test between India and England in Chennai on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 3.55am on Tuesday.

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Murray blames training centre protocols for COVID case


Andy Murray says COVID-19 protocols at the National Tennis Centre are to blame for the positive test that has kept him out of the Australian Open; Murray tested positive last month and was unable to fly to Australia; he has instead entered a lower-tier Challenger tournament in Italy

By PA Media
Last Updated: 06/02/21 11:22pm

Andy Murray has been forced to miss the Australian Open after testing positive for coronavirus

Andy Murray has blamed coronavirus protocols at the Lawn Tennis Association’s flagship National Tennis Centre for the positive test that forced him to miss the Australian Open.
The former world No 1 had to isolate after testing positive on January 11 and was unable to take up his seat on the charter flight organised by Tennis Australia.He still hoped a solution could be found to allow him to compete in Melbourne but accepted defeat after being told he would have to endure two weeks of hard quarantine. The 33-year-old believes he picked up the illness, which left him feeling under the weather for a couple of days, while training.Murray said: “I stuck to all of the protocols that were in place. I didn’t leave my house or the NTC for the 10 weeks of training. I was very careful because it’s not just for tennis reasons.”Murray passed the virus on to his family, with wife Kim testing positive followed by his three young children, while another member of the Scot’s wider family became very ill after also catching it. British No 1 Dan Evans also trained at the National Tennis Centre He said: “I was p***ed off that I missed the tournament and wasn’t able to go to Australia from a personal perspective but then the wider, more important point is that it’s not just about a tennis tournament when I am going back and giving the virus to all of my family and infecting them. I care about that a lot.”Murray highlighted notable differences between the environment at the NTC once it was allowed to reopen following the first lockdown and the situation after Christmas, when he felt other users of the centre were not showing the same respect for the rules as he was.The Scot’s positive test was part of a small outbreak that also took in an LTA doctor and young British player Paul Jubb.”When we went to the NTC in April last year, if there are six indoor courts, you could only practise on one, three and five,” said the three-time grand slam champion. Murray will take part in a second-tier Challenger event in Biella, Italy next week “There wasn’t any testing at that time but the gym was closed and it was restricted access. It was very different.”Whereas after Christmas you obviously have an indoor venue where they are using all six courts, there were tons of people in the gym and it was just totally different.”Restrictions have since been tightened, with more testing, the lounge closed and greater distancing.”Now it’s kind of back to what it was in April, which is good because I imagine there is less risk of any transmission and infections, but the reality is that it happened too late because there were quite a number of cases between Christmas, New Year and the players going off to Australia,” added Murray.British No 1 Dan Evans also trained extensively at the NTC and he backed up some of Murray’s complaints, particularly over the number of people using the centre.Evans said: “I think Christmas period and the New Year period maybe slackened a little bit. Obviously the doctor had Covid as well, so that coincided with I think players then getting it when she was isolating.”If I was being a bit harsh, without being rude to some players, (they) probably shouldn’t have been in there.”I was pretty nervous the last few days because obviously we knew the virus was there.”In response, the LTA stressed its approach throughout has followed advice from Public Health England.The governing body said in a statement: “As everyone knows, this virus is and has been widespread throughout the UK.”As the recent positive cases recorded in quarantine in Australia have shown, even with the strictest precautions, it is impossible to eradicate all risk of exposure, either within a single location or in the wider community.”We have consistently applied the stringent and appropriate restrictions, testing and other protocols for elite training centres in line with government guidance.”Our protocols are regularly communicated to everyone using the venue and we expect them to be adhered to in the player lounge and all other areas of the building.”It is impossible for LTA staff to police every part of the building continuously, and ultimately individuals are responsible for their own behaviour and ensuring they follow the rules to protect themselves and others.”Murray will begin his season on Monday in the much-less-celebrated surroundings of a second-tier Challenger event in Biella, Italy.The Scot is desperate to get back into action after a much-disrupted comeback from hip surgery two years ago and is feeling fit and ready following a strong training block.The sting of missing out on another grand slam tournament remains, and he feels complaints from players in quarantine in Australia did not help his cause for an exception to be made.He said: “I still am gutted about it. When I’m sitting in my hotel room here when I’m obviously healthy and fit and ready to play and compete, seeing the tournaments going on over there is tough, because I’d prepared really, really well, it had probably been the best two or three months’ training that I had done in the last few years. “Even after the positive test, it seemed like everything was going quite well. I think the carry-on from some of the players over in Australia didn’t really help my situation much.”Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/tennis, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports – on the go! Available to download now on – iPhone & iPad and Android

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Australian Open: Order of Play


Katie Boulter is the only British player in action on the opening day at the Australian Open in Melbourne when she takes on Daria Kasatkina of Russia; they play second on Court 16; Alexander Zverev, Bianca Andreescu and Nick Kyrgios play on Monday

Last Updated: 06/02/21 4:03pm

The Rod Laver Arena will see spectators in attendance throughout the Australian Open

Order of Play for Day One at the Australian Open with Serena Williams, Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic in action.
(All times local, +11 hours from GMT)Rod Laver Arena11:00: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) v (3) Naomi Osaka (Jpn), Laura Siegemund (Ger) v (10) Serena Williams (USA), (3) Dominic Thiem (Aut) v Mikhail Kukushkin (Kaz), Lizette Cabrera (Aus) v (2) Simona Halep (Rou), (1) Novak Djokovic (Srb) v Jeremy Chardy (Fra) Margaret Court Arena11:00: Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) v Venus Williams (USA), Bernarda Pera (USA) v (23) Angelique Kerber (Ger), Marcos Giron (USA) v (6) Alexander Zverev (Ger), Greet Minnen (Bel) v (9) Petra Kvitova (Cze), (11) Denis Shapovalov (Can) v Jannik Sinner (Ita)John Cain Arena11:00: (17) Stan Wawrinka (Sui) v Pedro Sousa (Por), Misaki Doi (Jpn) v Ajla Tomljanovic (Aus), (8) Bianca Andreescu (Can) v Mihaela Buzarnescu (Rou), Frederico Ferreira Silva (Por) v Nick Kyrgios (Aus)1573 Arena11:00: Federico Coria (Arg) v (14) Milos Raonic (Can), (15) Iga Swiatek (Pol) v Arantxa Rus (Ned), (27) Ons Jabeur (Tun) v Andrea Petkovic (Ger), Kei Nishikori (Jpn) v (15) Pablo Carreno-Busta (Esp) Save over 25% with NOW TV Grab a NOW TV Sky Sports Month Pass for just £25 p/m for 4 months (usually £33.99 p/m) Court 311:00: Corentin Moutet (Fra) v John Millman (Aus), (19) Marketa Vondrousova (Cze) v Rebecca Peterson (Swe), (18) Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) v Marin Cilic (Cro), (7) Aryna Sabalenka (Blr) v Viktoria Kuzmova (Svk)Court 511:00: Zarina Diyas (Kaz) v Tamara Zidansek (Slo), Alex Bolt (Aus) v Norbert Gombos (Svk), (32) Veronika Kudermetova (Rus) v Marta Kostyuk (Ukr), Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Stefano Travaglia (Ita)Court 614:00: Miomir Kecmanovic (Srb) v Kamil Majchrzak (Pol), Federico Delbonis (Arg) v Juan Ignacio Londero (Arg)Court 711:00: Rebecca Marino (Can) v Kimberly Birrell (Aus), Mayo Hibi (Jpn) v Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Svk), Damir Dzumhur (Bih) v James Duckworth (Aus), Elias Ymer (Swe) v (8) Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (Arg)Court 811:00: Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz) v Camila Giorgi (Ita), Sara Errani (Ita) v (30) Qiang Wang (Chn), (25) Benoit Paire (Fra) v Egor Gerasimov (Blr), Yuichi Sugita (Jpn) v Bernard Tomic (Aus)Court 1014:00: Gianluca Mager (Ita) v Aslan Karatsev (Rus), Kimmer Coppejans (Bel) v Jiri Vesely (Cze)Court 1211:00: Reilly Opelka (USA) v Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe), Timea Babos (Hun) v Ysaline Bonaventure (Bel), Aljaz Bedene (Slo) v Alexander Bublik (Kaz), Alize Cornet (Fra) v Valeria Savinykh (Rus)Court 1311:00: (10) Gael Monfils (Fra) v Emil Ruusuvuori (Fin), Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) v Tsvetana Pironkova (Bul), (24) Alison Riske (USA) v Anastasia Potapova (Rus), Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (Ger) v (20) Felix Auger-Aliassime (Can)Court 1411:00: Nina Stojanovic (Srb) v Irina-Camelia Begu (Rou), Marton Fucsovics (Hun) v Marc Polmans (Aus), Dominik Koepfer (Ger) v Hugo Dellien (Bol), Vera Zvonareva (Rus) v (17) Elena Rybakina (Kaz)Court 1513:00: Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Esp) v (27) Taylor Harry Fritz (USA), Varvara Gracheva (Rus) v Anna Blinkova (Rus), Taro Daniel (Jpn) v Maxime Cressy (USA)Court 1611:00: (32) Adrian Mannarino (Fra) v Dennis Novak (Aut), Katie Boulter (Gbr) v Daria Kasatkina (Rus), Fiona Ferro (Fra) v Katerina Siniakova (Cze), Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr) v (23) Dusan Lajovic (Srb)Court 17 11:00: Polona Hercog (Slo) v Caroline Garcia (Fra), Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn) v Pedro Martinez Portero (Esp), Yasutaka Uchiyama (Jpn) v (29) Ugo Humbert (Fra), Patricia Maria Tig (Rou) v Sorana Cirstea (Rou)Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/tennis, our Twitter account @skysportstennis & Sky Sports – on the go! Available to download now on – iPhone & iPad and Android

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Vince hits 95 as Sixers win Big Bash title


Sydney Sixers beat Perth Scorchers to win 2020-21 Big Bash League as James Vince scores 95; Vince had been denied shot at a century against same opposition last weekend by leg-side wide; Scorchers’ Jason Roy misses final through injury

Last Updated: 06/02/21 2:19pm

James Vince scored 95 in Sydney Sixers’ victory over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash league final

James Vince had the last laugh over Andrew Tye as the England batsman’s 95 off 60 balls helped Sydney Sixers to a second straight Big Bash League title after a 27-run win over Perth Scorchers in the final.
​​​​​There was an air of ill-feeling between the pair following their most recent meeting in a play-off game a week ago, with Tye sending down a leg-side wide which gave the Sixers victory but left Vince stranded on 98 not out.The delivery – which Perth Scorchers captain Ashton Turner insisted at the time would not have been intentional – denied Vince the chance to complete a first BBL century of his career. However, he came out on top in their rivalry on Saturday, albeit that he once again missed out on three figures when he was caught at backward point, having been dropped in that spot a ball earlier on 92. Sixers won the title for the second year in a row and third time in total Vince nailed 10 fours and three sixes in a superb 60-ball innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which ensured he finished second in the tournament run-scoring charts – the Hampshire man’s tally of 537 behind only fellow Englishman Alex Hales’ 543 for Sydney Thunder.Vince’s knock took Sixers to 188-6 – Dan Christian the team’s next highest scorer with 20 – and Scorchers could only make 161-9 in reply.Perth were without Jason Roy due to an ankle injury but fellow England international Liam Livingstone impressed with 45 from 35 deliveries at the top of the order, the Lancashire player hitting three fours and two sixes. Scorchers, though, struggled in the middle overs and came up short in their bid for a fourth Big Bash title, with Sixers instead winning the tournament for a third time.Sixers and Scorchers have now won six of the 10 editions of the Big Bash between them, with Thunder, Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades one-time champions.

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