The fourth seeded Indo-Chinese pair dispatched the fifth seed Hungarian-Czech combo 7-6 (5) 6-4 in the quarterfinal.
India’s Sania Mirza reached her first Grand Slam semifinal of the 2017 season with Shuai Peng after edging past Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova in a close two-set battle at the US Open, here.
The fourth seeded Indo-Chinese pair dispatched the fifth seed Hungarian-Czech combo 7-6 (5) 6-4 in the quarterfinal which lasted one hour and 56 minutes.
It is season’s best performance for Sania at the Majors as she fell in the third rounds of the Australian Open and the Wimbledon while at the French Open she had made a first round exit.
Sania and Peng now face second seeds Martina Hingis and Yung-Jan Chan, the pair which had defeated the Indian and her Belgian partner Kirsten Flipkens at the Wimbledon.
Sania has played with different partners at the Grand Slams this season. She had started the season by teaming up with Barbora Strycova. They had lost in the third round of the Australian Open to Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato.
At the Roland Garros she played with Yaroslava Shvedova and lost to Daria Gavrilova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening round.
This season Sania has managed to win only one title — Brisbane WTA event with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands — and ended up finalist in Sydney with Strycova.
This is in complete contrast to her stupdendous show in the 2016 season, during which she won eight titles, inluding five with Swiss great Martina Hingis.
She had ended the 2016 year as number one but has now slipped to number nine as she struggled to find a cosnsistent partner after splitting with Hingis.
Virat Kohli led India to a 9-0 cleansweep of Sri Lanka across all three formats in their tour. He stated that he was proud of the way his team's bench strength is coming up and the way he himself has been batting.
India captain Virat Kohli said that his team’s whitewash of Sri Lanka across all formats was “very special.” India beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the standalone T20I that the two sides played in Colombo. With that, they completed a highly successful tour of Sri Lanka in which they whitewashed the hosts in a three-match Test series and a five-match ODI series apart from the lone T20I. “It [the whitewash across formats] hasn’t been done before,” he said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
India had experimented with their line up in the match, deciding to let KL Rahul open instead of Ajinkya Rahane in place of Shikhar Dhawan and giving chances to Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel. “Credit to the boys,” said the Indian captain, “The bench strength is coming up beautifully. We tried a few things, the results are amazing to see.”
Kohli himself has been in top form. He scored consecutive centuries in the ODI series, the second of which was his 30th century in the 50-over format. He is hence tied with Ricky Ponting for the second most tons in One Day cricket. He had also scored a century in the first Test and was man of the match in the stand alone T20I with an aggressive knock of 82 off 54 balls that practically won India the match. “Personally, I look to back my strengths and play cricketing shots,” said Kohli about his performance with the bat, “I’ve tried to mould my game for all formats. I want to play all the games.”
Opportunity to fine-tune combination ahead of upcoming T20 home series against Australia and New Zealand
India will aim to cap off its super-successful Sri Lanka tour with another victory in the one-off T20 International here on Wednesday.
A result other than an India win looks unlikely, considering the rampaging run in the Test and ODI series, where it blanked the host 3-0 and 5-0 respectively.
The game provides India an opportunity to fine-tune team a combination ahead of the upcoming T20 home series against Australia and New Zealand.
India is on an experimentation drive ahead of the 2019 50-over World Cup and one name it could have tried here is Rishabh Pant, who was not named in the squad.
It is all the more surprising since the selectors had an opportunity to send him for this stand-alone game when Shikhar Dhawan returned home to tend to his ailing mother this past weekend.
In the lone T20 against West Indies at Jamaica, Virat Kohli had opened the innings with Dhawan with Pant slotting in at no.3. As such, their dual absence will necessitate at least a couple changes from the Indian skipper.
Rohit Sharma slots back in automatically whilst K.L. Rahul and Manish Pandey would be expected to bring up the middle order.
Kedar Jadhav, who scored a much needed half-century in the final ODI, could be afforded another chance to prove his credentials as India prepare for a long limited-overs’ schedule at home. Hardik Pandya was rested for that fifth match on Sunday, and he too is expected to return to the playing eleven.
Jasprit Bumrah is a shoo-in of course, whilst it remains to be seen if Shardul Thakur will get another go after proving expensive in the last match at Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s expense.
Kohli does like to field leg-spinners in the shortest format, and he played both Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra against England at both Nagpur and Bengaluru. He is expected to repeat this trick with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav this time around. Even so, there were no sure hints coming forth as the Indian team enjoyed an additional off day ahead of the game and did not practice.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has made a few changes to its original squad after suffering the 5-0 whitewash. Leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka are prominent additions. Surprisingly, left-arm leg spinner Lakshan Sandakan has been left out of the squad.
The Lankan team management had talked about resting Kusal Mendis as he was fatigued, and he has been duly left out.
Virat Kohli’s Indian team ticked almost every box in their 5-0 series sweep over Sri Lanka. India’s pledge to keep trying new players to make the side more versatile will face a tougher test in the home series against Australia, starting September 17.
India completed an expected One-day series sweep in Sri Lanka on Sunday, but their aim to become an “unpredictable” force will be tested heading into the 2019 World Cup.
Virat Kohli’s side ticked almost every box. Top order solidity --- openers Shikhar Dhawan (1) and Rohit Sharma (2) and the skipper (2) hit centuries --- was evident and the bowlers got their priorities right by taking wickets.
A Sri Lankan team incapable of notching 250 even once was ideal for India to kick off their experiments. However, the failure of the middle-order plan for KL Rahul showed pushing even top players to reinvent may be easier said than done.
India’s pledge to keep pushing to make the side more versatile will also face a tougher test in the home series against Australia starting on September 17. KL Rahul, perhaps the No 1 Test opener, fell cheaply to spinner Akila Dananjaya in all three games as a middle-order batsman.
In fact, he was so uncomfortable facing spin straightaway that stand-in skipper Lasith Malinga brought on Dananjaya the moment Rahul came into bat in the fourth ODI. And he fell for seven, chipping a catch to mid-on.
Similarly, facing Mitchell Starc or Mohammad Amir in more seam-friendly conditions could be a big challenge for the top order. Amir did cause damage in the ICC Champions Trophy final. Thus finding the right man for specific slots will be as vital as getting a player to ease into an unfamiliar position.
Virat Kohli though acknowledged the challenge going forward. “We spoke about experimenting with a few guys going up and down the order. We have to try a few things,” he said after the series. “Once we start playing like this and get more confident with the roles we’re given, we can be more unpredictable. And with the talent we have in the side if we can be unpredictable as well, it becomes a lethal combination.”
While India’s batting is in full force in Sri Lanka, the bowling depth stood out. Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were never missed. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar with wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and left-arm spinner Axar Patel were solid.
Bumrah claimed 15 wickets, while Axar made it hard for the batsmen and took six wickets in four games at an average of 25.8. “These guys were brilliant, all three of them,” Virat Kohli said of the spinners. “Axar, being a conventional spinner as well, varied his pace; it was outstanding. He didn’t let the batsmen get on top of him.
“It’s the height that really helps him (Axar) get extra bounce and the extra pace he can generate. He’s got a very strong shoulder and people find it difficult to sweep him. “Kuldeep and Chahal being wrist spinners will always keep you in the game.”
“It’s going to be a challenge among all the bowlers and spinners that are going to be part of the bigger group to make it to the 2019 World Cup.”
Virat Kohli, however, wants to shortlist the names early.
“The best thing is transparency. We address it and tell them this is a bunch of 20-25 people who will make the probables for the World Cup and everyone has an equal opportunity to be tested at different stages. Till the World Cup we have what 42 matches, 37 now if I am not wrong. So, yeah, we’ll have to keep trying different players and the best combinations for us.
“It’s about the larger picture, not about who is sitting out and who is playing.”
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