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I-League: Leaders Chennai City FC Held By Neroca FC In Six-Goal Thriller

Chennai City FC, I-League leaders, were held to a 3-3 draw by fifth-placed Neroca, blowing the title race wide open on Monday. Chennai had a chance to open a four-point lead to second-placed Real Kashmir FC but the draw sees them lead the league by just two points. Neroca are eight points behind the league leaders with 26 points, two points behind fourth-placed Quess East Bengal, who have played two games less. If the Kolkata club win their two games in hand, they will have the same number of points as Chennai City FC.

Chennai, though, will be kicking themselves after their 3-3 draw to Neroca in Imphal. A Pedro Manzi hat-trick, his fourth of the season, saw the visitors head into half-time holding a 3-0 lead.

But the hosts made a stunning comeback in the second half with Aryn Williams’ 88th-minute strike restoring parity and earning Neroca a well-deserved point.

Neroca started the first-half well with left-winger Singham Subhash Singh troubling the Chennai defence with repeated forays down the left flank.

However in the 34th minute, Chennai’s three Spanish attackers combined for a wonderfully crafted goal to give the visitors the lead.

Sandro found Nestor Jesus on the left flank with a long ball from just inside their own half. Nestor cut in and from just outside the box noticed Pedro Manzi’s run inside the box and played him in.

Manzi swooped in and slid the ball into the net from between keeper Lalit Thapa’s legs for his 14th strike of the campaign. Nestor also recorded his sixth assist to go with his six goals.

Neroca fell further behind in the 41st minute as Liberian defender Varney Kallon inexplicably gave the ball away to Manzi with only the keeper in front of him. The striker drove forward, kept his cool and slotted home over the keeper’s right shoulder.

Neroca then had a chance to get one back when Malem was in the clear inside the box thanks to another great pass from Aryn Williams, but the midfielder’s powerful strike was wonderfully saved by substitute goalkeeper Kabir.

Pedro Manzi then completed his fourth hat-trick of the league in the first minute of added time. Pandiyan broke away on the right and delivered a cross towards the goal and Manzi, ever present at the right place, stuck his left foot out to beat Thapa on the near post.

Neroca, to their credit, came out fighting in the second half and pulled one back early through substitute Felix Chidi.

Chencho played Chidi inside the box from the left in between two defenders. Chidi controlled, rounded the keeper and slid the ball into the empty Chennai net for his sixth goal of the league campaign.

Singham Subash crossed the from the right flank, which was brilliantly headed back by Katsumi towards a lurking Chencho. He controlled and drilled the ball past Kabir. It was his second goal in as many games in his second stint with the I-League after being the star last season.

Neroca finall drew level through Aryn Williams in the 88th minute, denying the visitors a chance to walk away with all the three points.

(With IANS Inputs)

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Hanuma Vihari Doesn’t Want To Be Tagged As The Guy Who Isn’t A Team Man

Hanuma Vihari, who has been in and out from the Indian Test team since his debut against England at The Oval last year, has hit form recently. Playing for Rest of India, he became the first batsman to score three successive centuries at the Irani Cup, all the three coming against Ranji Champions Vidarbha. Vihari, who will be playing for the Delhi Capitals in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), wants to give his best for his team whether it is India or Delhi Capitals.

Vihari, who is most comfortable in the middle order in Tests but won’t mind facing the red cherry at the start of an innings if asked to do so once again.

“Yes, I will do whatever is needed for the team. These are situations you face as a sportsman, and you have got to learn to accept it. Whether it’s playing for India or Delhi Capitals, I don’t want to be tagged as the guy who is not a team man. I want to be out there for our team,” Vihari said with conviction.

The Delhi Capitals have a star-studded top order with Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, skipper Shreyas Iyer and the indomitable Rishabh Pant in the ranks.

Vihari knows it will be a fight to get into the playing XI but he is ready to don the role of a finisher the same way he agreed to open for India in unfamiliar conditions in Melbourne.

“Honestly, given that I am playing the IPL after a three-year gap, I am ready to go out there and bat anywhere the management asks me to, whether it’s at the top of the order, or in the role of a finisher.

On my part, I am really in a great mental space and a great position as far as my game is concerned. I am really well-prepared for everything right now,” the 25-year-old Andhra batsman said.

He was a part of SunRisers Hyderabad in 2013 but a lot has changed since then. He has scored loads of runs for India A and also struck a fifty against England on his Test debut. “I am excited, and fully ready for the season ahead with Delhi Capitals. Mainly because in these three years, I have developed so much as a player.

“I am much more confident of performing now. Also, we have a great mix of Indian and foreign players. I am really looking forward to playing under Shreyas and Ricky’s (Ricky Ponting) leadership,” Vihari said.

(With PTI inputs)

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India vs Australia: Virat Kohli Checks His Bat, Says Back To Work Ahead Of Australia Series

"Back To Work": Virat Kohli Checks His Bat Ahead Of Australia Series

Virat Kohli will lead India in series against Australia. © Twitter

Virat Kohli had a close look at the stroke of his bat ahead of the two-match Twenty20 International (T20I) series against Australia. The prolific India batsman, who will return to lead the hosts against Australia after being rested from the final two One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and T20I series against New Zealand, posted some pictures on Twitter and wrote, “back to work.”

Kohli was given rest considering his workload. The team management and Senior selection committee was of the view that it would be ideal for him to get adequate rest ahead of the home series against Australia.

After winning the Test and ODI series vs Australia, Kohli ensured India seal the ODI series against New Zealand.

Prior to the Australia tour, Kohli was rested for the home T20 series against the Windies. He was also given a break for the Asia Cup in September and Rohit led the team to the title in the event held in the UAE.

The Indian players have a hectic schedule going into the World Cup scheduled to be held in May-July in England and Wales.

Following the T20I series, India will host Australia for five ODIs starting March 2 and soon after the Indian Premier League (IPL) follows.


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Ekta Bisht Helps India Women Win Against England In First ODI

World champions England had their batswomen to blame as they made heavy weather of a small target and lost to India by 66 runs in the opening ODI at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. In the first fixture of this ICC Women’s Championship rubber, Ekta Bisht starred with the ball for the hosts with figures of 4/25. The visitors lost their final seven wickets for 25 runs to be bowled out for 136. For England, a 73-run stand between Natalie Sciver and captain Heather Knight was all they could muster as the lower-order could not handle the pressure of a run chase.

Sciver was on 44 off 66 when she backed up far too out of the crease at the non-striker’s end and Knight’s shot rolled back in the direction of Bisht who had all the time in the world to throw down at the bowling end.

Danielle Wyatt fell to Deepti Sharma in the next over and Bisht then ensured that the rest of England’s lower middle-order fell in quick succession.

Knight remained unbeaten on 39 as she ran out of partners.

India jolted England early with pacer Shikha Pandey dismissing Amy Jones and the returning Sarah Taylor with almost identical deliveries that moved back sharply to catch the two batters plumb in front of the stumps. 

Deepti Sharma removed Tammy Beaumont as England recovered from 38/3 but it was not enough in the end.

Earlier, put into bat, India threw away a strong start from Jemimah Rodrigues (48 off 58) and Smriti Mandhana (24 off 42) to lose five wickets for the addition of 26 runs, slipping to 95/5 before Mithali Raj (44 off 74) stemmed the rot with a 54-run partnership with Taniya Bhatia.

Jhulan Goswami then struck three fours and a six in her 37-ball knock of 30 to push India past the 200-mark.

Brief scores: India 202 in 49.4 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 48, Mithali Raj 44; Sophie Ecclestone 2/27, Natalie Sciver 2/29) beat England 136 in 41 overs (Natalie Sciver 44, Heather Knight 39 not out; Ekta Bisht 4/25) by 66 runs.

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