Cricket news 2020: England tour of South Africa, Boardroom chaos, Twenty20, ODI


South Africa’s cricketers’ association on Friday expressed “despair and disbelief” at the continuing chaos in the game, four days before England are due to arrive for a limited overs tour.

The chairman of Cricket South Africa’s interim board, Judge Zak Yacoob, warned earlier that the conflict could discourage England from travelling – although a spokesperson for the England and Wales Cricket Board said he expected the tour to go ahead.

“Our position is at it has been for the past few weeks – it’s business as usual,” said the spokesperson.

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Aussies name their squad

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Primož Roglič avenges devastating Tour de France defeat with second Vuelta a España crown


It was a vastly different finish for Primož Roglič at the Vuelta a España compared to two months ago at the Tour de France.

This time, Roglič was celebrating a Grand Tour victory instead of dwelling on a late collapse that cost him the win.

On Sunday, Roglič clinched his second consecutive Vuelta title with an uneventful final ride into Madrid in Sunday’s largely ceremonial stage, solidifying his status as a top rider.

The 31-year-old Slovenian from team Jumbo-Visma had virtually sealed the victory in Stage 17 the day prior, but it was not without some nervous moments.

With the mental scars of his Tour de France capitulation still raw, Roglič would have feared the worst as his closest challenger, Richard Carapaz, broke away in the final few kilometres of Saturday’s stage in a desperate attempt to claw back the required 45 seconds.

Primož Roglič won four stages at this year’s Vuelta, the most of any rider(AP: Alvaro Barrientos)

However, Roglič rallied and just about held onto the coat-tails of Carapaz, who could only make up 21 seconds and had to settle for second — which made him the first Ecuadorean rider to finish on the podium at the Vuelta.

“We were just enjoying [the ride],” Roglič said.

It was the second Grand Tour win for Roglič, who had been in contention at the Tour de France until the last competitive day, when he dramatically imploded to hand victory to his fellow Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar.

He won four stages at the Vuelta this year, including the first. Last year he had one stage victory.

Roglič had previously taken steps to atone for his Tour defeat with victory at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege classic, capitalising when world champion Julian Alaphilippe prematurely celebrated victory.

Roglič has become the first rider to win the Vuelta’s overall standings and the points classification two years in a row.

“It’s really beautiful to win the red jersey and the green jersey to finish this year,” he said.

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British rider Hugh Carthy finished a surprise third at the three-week race across Spain, with Dan Martin fourth and Enric Mas fifth.

Pascal Ackermann defeated Sam Bennett in a photo finish at the deciding sprint of the final stage, which lacked the huge crowds of previous editions in the Spanish capital because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vuelta finished without major disruptions despite a surge of coronavirus cases in Spain.

Tight health restrictions were in place for the race that was originally scheduled for late August and early September but was postponed because of the pandemic.

This Vuelta had only 18 stages instead of the usual 21. The sixth stage had to be altered to avoid going into French territory, and organizers had already cancelled plans to hold the first three stages in the Netherlands and to have two stages enter neighbouring Portugal.

A facial-recognition phone app replaced the traditional signature of riders at the start of each stage to reduce contact with pens and surfaces, and fans were asked not to gather at finish lines.

Riders, team members and race staff were constantly tested for COVID-19.

AP/ABC



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Tour Down Under cancelled for 2021


The Tour Down Under, Australia’s first WorldTour race, was due to be staged from January 19-24, a week before the Cadel Evans elite one-day races.

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“We have done all we can to consider how we can deliver it, but unfortunately in the end it was the international component, with over 400 people that make up the international teams, that proved to be the most difficult to overcome,” Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said in a statement announcing the Tour Down Under cancellation.

Rasheed said organisers had worked with government, health and police officials but, “the complexities and risks involved with quarantining and international border closures have ultimately proved too much to ask of some of the teams, who have endured a stressful, challenging and compressed 2020 season that will run later than normal”.

Australia closed its international borders in March and some domestic state borders also remain closed because of a second wave of coronavirus infections in Victoria that sent the state back into lockdown.

On Sunday, Australia recorded no new locally transmitted coronavirus infection for the first time in five months.

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Some international sports events are resuming, with Australia hosting the Tri-Nations rugby tournament involving New Zealand and Argentina and India set to tour for a cricket series starting next month.

The WorldTour season was suspended for almost five months this year due to the pandemic. It resumed on August 1 and will finish with the Vuelta a Espana, currently underway, on November 8.

After the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the next men’s WorldTour event on the regular calendar is February’s UAE Tour.



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South Australia’s Tour Down Under cycling race cancelled because of coronavirus pandemic


The Tour Down Under has become the latest South Australian event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers blamed uncertainty around international border conditions and quarantine requirements when they announced last night that the cycling event, which was scheduled for January, would not go ahead.

They said those measures were a major challenge in bringing international cycling teams to South Australia.

SA Health and SA Police had both been in talks with organisers to allow international riders to quarantine and continue training, but were unable to reach a suitable compromise.

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“The complexities and risks involved with quarantining and international border closures have ultimately proved too much to ask of some of the teams, who have endured a stressful, challenging and compressed 2020 season that will run later than normal.

“Accordingly, the Santos Tour Down Under with international races will not run in 2021, but we assure everyone it will return to South Australia and the start of the UCI’s world cycling calendars in January 2022, with the full support of the UCI.”

The Women’s Tour Down Under has also been cancelled.

Women’s Town Under cyclists ride through Echunga in the Adelaide Hills.(ABC News: Dean Faulkner)

A smaller domestic cycling festival is planned in January instead.

It comes after the Adelaide 500 Supercars race was cancelled last week, although that was blamed on falling crowd numbers and corporate sponsorship.

Tour Down Under race director Stuart O’Grady said it was a disappointing outcome in his first year in the role.

“I believe that for one year we can put delivering an international event aside, and keep our South Australian heart beating by delivering a new, re-imagined event for cyclists and for communities across the nation,” O’Grady said.

The organisers of Victoria’s Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race also confirmed last night the event would not be held in January.

“I would like to thank our volunteers, local workforce and incredible partners for their unwavering support,” race director Scott Sunderland said.

“We can’t wait to join with them and come back bigger and better in 2022.”



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Yolngu band heads out bush in unique Territory tour of Arnhem Land communities


When their interstate festival gigs were cancelled because of coronavirus, Garrangali Band took off on a different kind of tour — stopping at remote communities and homelands across north-east Arnhem Land and skipping the big cities altogether.

The tour has launched the 12-member group’s second album, One Voice, which mixes modern production with Yolngu Matha lyricism in a style that’s been described as “saltwater ska”.

Keyboardist Yimila Brendan Marika said the decision to tour exclusively across Arnhem Land mirrored the album’s message about the importance of Aboriginal homelands.

“We wanted to do something new, with more focus on homelands or how important homeland is,” Marika said.

“[It’s] a reminder to people that homelands still have that connection — sometimes you don’t realise how much.”

Sharing songlines, hometown crowds

The band has clocked more than 2748 kilometres on the tour so far, with the return leg yet to come.

They’ve played the tiny Baniyala and Gan Gan homelands, with populations of around 100 people, as well as the communities of Maningrida and Ramingining.

The venues have ranged from beaches and football fields to the back of a truck at an arts centre, and they’ve camped at youth centres, ranger stations and recreation halls along the way.

Marika said the band members, who are from the tiny community of Baniyala on the eastern edge of Arnhem Land, had been rediscovering family roots in the west.

The band says the rejigged tour has helped them connect with their culture.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“We’ve been making connections to family, it’s all about how we relate to each other through land and songlines,” he said.

“This is something new for Garrangali Band, coming all the way out to Western Arnhem Land, because we still have family and kinship.

Touring remotely hasn’t come without challenges.

“We’ve already had problems with the tyres coming in from Baniyala to Ramingining,” Marika said.

“We have three cars to travel but we’ve managed.”

Bringing back connections to culture and country

Lead singer Mudiny Nicholas Guyula said the touring process had been bittersweet.

“It’s fun and it’s sad, because we are also leaving family behind,” he said.

“But the album has lots of meanings to us, because of our stories that have been laid down by our old people.

“That’s why the message with One Voice — we are coming out to the people in our mob, to acknowledge them and go back to their identity, to connect back to the land, the land where stories and cultures have been laid by our ancestors.

The lead singer of the Garrangali Band performing.
The new album is a celebration of Yolngu culture and it’s being heard in some of the most remote parts of the NT.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“The good thing that we are doing is passing it on to generation, generation and generation to come.”

Band manager Ahva Paul Hayes said things didn’t always go according to plan when touring out bush, with three out of five dates having to be changed.

“There’s been lots of negotiations and talking; we’ve got to be flexible.

Garrangali Band dancers onstage in traditional dress and body paint.
The band members have travelled thousands of kilometres across the remote NT during their album tour.(Supplied: Nat Rogers)

“We’re not attached to any organisation so that has made it possible.

“[The band members] are doing it themselves, so it is up to them about what they want to do. Nobody else is controlling it or the outcome.”

Hayes said the touring process had also been a learning process for him.

“It’s all been a windy path, not straightforward,” he said.

“Because it is a cultural band, there are lots of things that I am learning along the way about how different areas and different people are connected and important cultural protocols for the places we are touring to.”

The group wrapped up their Arnhem Land tour last night with a concert in Yirrkala in east Arnhem Land.



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Millman wins maiden ATP Tour title


John Millman has finally secured his maiden ATP Tour title with a straight-sets victory over Adrian Mannarino in the final of the Astana Open.

Fourth-seeded Millman made the most of his opportunities in Sunday’s slugfest to prevail 7-5 6-1.

The 31-year-old Australian saved five break points in the first set before he capitalised on his lone chance to break the third-seeded Mannarino’s serve with a backhand winner to claim the opener.

It was a more dominant performance from Brisbane native Millman in the second set as he broke serve twice and closed out the match in one hour and 48 minutes.

“It is so hard to make finals in ATP events. It has been a really unexpected surprise but in every tournament you go out there to hopefully try and win it. I am glad I am in a position to,” Millman said after his semi-final win.

The ATP 250 title in the indoor hardcourt event – primarily organised due to the cancellation of a host of tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic – gives Millman his first tour-level trophy after runner-up finishes in Budapest in 2018 and Tokyo last year.

“For me it’s an absolute no-brainer that this tournament should be a permanent fixture on the schedule,” Millman said after his final win.

Millman is the fifth first-time winner on the ATP tour in 2020.

He had to battle just to reach the final, coming from a set down and 3-0 down in the third set to beat Frances Tiafoe in the semis while he saved two match points and fought back from 5-0 down in a deciding tiebreak to defeat Tommy Paul in their last-eight match.

Millman will move up seven spots to world No.38 when the rankings are updated on Monday.



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Tour Down Under in doubt as cycling champion calls for rethink amid coronavirus


A former winner of the Tour Down Under says organisers should consider cancelling next year’s event, amid fresh doubt over whether the cycling race will go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Race organisers announced in August that the 2021 event would go ahead in January, but have now put contingency plans in place.

The men’s Tour Down Under (TDU) was scheduled to start on January 19 while the women’s tour was scheduled for January 14.

The main issue is whether international riders will have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival, which may not be feasible as they would be unable to train for two weeks leading up to the race.

Crowd control is also a potential issue, with thousands of local and interstate spectators packing the roads each year to watch the event.

Adelaide cyclist Patrick Jonker, who won the men’s TDU in 2004, said it would be a major blow for the state if the event was cancelled but it should be considered.

Cycling champion Patrick Jonker won the Tour Down Under in 2004.(Facebook: Pat Jonker)

“With what’s going on this year with COVID I think the same rules should apply for everyone.

“If you can’t see your loved ones be buried then I don’t think elite professional athletes should be exempt.”

Training ‘bubble’ suggested

Events South Australia executive director Hitaf Rasheed said organisers are considering all options before deciding whether the event can go ahead.

“There are a lot of moving parts in making a decision like this,” Ms Rasheed said.

“There are many stakeholders, and we have been working closely with them to ensure we arrive at the best possible outcome for all concerned.

“It is important, and its importance is why we have worked so hard to consider if and how this event can be successfully delivered.”

A group of cyclists competing in the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
The women’s event was scheduled to start on January 14 next year.(Supplied: Santos Tour Down Under)

All three of cycling’s grand tours — Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana — have gone ahead this year, albeit with revised schedules and routes.

Those events are all held in Europe, and Jonker said a two-week quarantine requirement for elite cyclists would not work in Australia.

But he said setting up a training “bubble” for cyclists away from the Adelaide metro area was an alternative worthy of consideration.

“It would be very difficult for an elite professional rider to maintain their fitness being indoors for two weeks,” he said.

“The Government has a big decision to make next week but the main priority will be our health.”

Police to determine exemptions

Health Minister Stephen Wade today said SA Health would continue to work with event organisers to try to find a way for the event to go ahead safely.

Jessica Pratt races in the Tour Down Under
Professional cyclist Jessica Pratt racing in last year’s Tour Down Under.(Supplied)

However, he said it was ultimately up to the state coordinator, SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, to decide on any exemptions for international cyclists.

“It is really important for the ongoing success of the TDU that South Australia appropriately deals with the COVID situation,” he said.

“It would be an absolute disaster for TDU if we didn’t have safe plans in place and there was an outbreak associated with it.”

Ms Rasheed said organisers would consider alternate options if the men’s and women’s races did not go ahead, but a final decision would be made in the next week.



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Cricket Australia don’t know if Virat Kohli will stay in Australia for entire India tour


However, his plans around the birth of his child and whether or not he could return home before the tour ends in January have not yet been made clear.

CA executives have been so occupied getting the summer fixtures over the line they haven’t asked – although they’ve taken comfort from his inclusion in the tour party.

As usual Virat Kohli shapes a hugely influential figure for India this summer.Credit:AP

“He’s in the squad … I think that’s a matter for Virat,” said Nick Hockley, CA’s interim CEO, when asked about the Indian maestro at the SCG on Wednesday.

As for the Indian families in general, the NSW government has built provisions into the quarantine plan for the tourists but their arrivals would need to be approved by Australian Border Force.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age this week that India had requested families be allowed in because players would have already been a bubble for the Indian Premier League in the UAE for 80 days. A CA source said the Indian team had asked to have about a dozen family members allowed into the country.

“We’re working through that at the moment with the BCCI and the Australian government,” Hockley said. “It will have to be a compelling case obviously for families to come.”

India tour of Australia 2020/21

ODIs

  • November 27, SCG (D/N)
  • November 29, SCG (D/N)
  • December 2, Manuka Oval (D/N)

T20s

  • December 4, Manuka Oval (N)
  • December 6, SCG (N)
  • December 8, SCG (N)

Tests

  • December 17-21 , Adelaide Oval (D/N)
  • December 26-30, MCG
  • January 7-11, SCG
  • January 15-19, The Gabba

The India squad will arrive on a charter flight from Dubai with Australian players who featured in the IPL, such as Steve Smith and David Warner, landing in Sydney on November 12.

They will be accommodated on different floors of a hotel at Sydney Olympic Park, which has been booked out by CA for the 14-day quarantine period, and be transported to training during that time at Blacktown International Sportspark.

While the white-ball element of India’s tour takes place in Sydney and Canberra from November 27 to December 8, CA is still relying on the Victoria and Queensland borders being opened for the schedule to be rolled out as it intends.

“We were really encouraged by comments coming out of the national cabinet last week around borders opening before Christmas, so that will allow us to deliver this schedule,” Hockley said.

“As we do before any series we have contingencies, but we’re planning full steam ahead and hopefully we won’t need to use them.”

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Given they effectively stepped in to save the tour, NSW is, as expected, the major winner in the revised fixture list, with Sydney also staging matches between India and Australia A at Drummoyne Oval on December 6-8 and with the pink ball at the SCG on December 11-13, as well as two one-day internationals, two T20 internationals and the New Year’s Test.

It was no surprise then that NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, who fast-tracked India’s quarantine approval last week after the Queensland government gave cricket the runaround, could not resist at dig at the Labor government north of the border.

“I think this is a classic case of Queensland dropping the ball at second slip and NSW picking it up before it hits the ground,” he said.

The confirmation of the Australia-India matches wasn’t universally well received, however, with WACA chief Christina Matthews unimpressed she wasn’t informed the announcement was coming. Perth missed out on hosting an international this summer because of Western Australia’s hard border.

“It was all a bit of a shock to us because we didn’t know there was going to be an announcement today,” Matthews said. “We were notified effectively when we were still in bed. I woke up and saw the media release.

“As we know on the east coast they forget there’s a three-hour time difference and that we actually exist.”

Matthews said CA later apologised for the breakdown in communication.

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Australia to tour South Africa for first time since ball-tampering scandal


Australia will return to South Africa for the first time since the infamous ball-tampering scandal of 2018, when they arrive in February for a three-Test series.

Cricket South Africa (SCA) announced the news on Tuesday evening and although exact dates and venues are yet to be confirmed, the series will conclude in March.

Australia won 2018’s opening Test but ultimately lost the four-match series 3-1.

However, the overall result was overshadowed by the fallout from the ball-tampering scandal which lead to the year-long suspensions of Steve Smith and David Warner, and a nine-month international ban for Cameron Bancroft.

Steve Smith, along with David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, were sent home early the last time Australia toured South Africa.(AP: Themba Hadebe)

The Proteas will also host England from late November in limited overs matches, Sri Lanka for a two-Test showdown around the turn of the year and close out their home campaign against Pakistan in three ODIs and three T20s during a busy summer of cricket in South Africa.

“We are delighted to announce the schedule of men’s international cricket for the home season,” CSA acting chief executive Kugandrie Govender said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic predictably forced many changes to … the traditional sequencing of scheduling matches in South Africa this season.

“This is why I am particularly proud of today’s announcement.”

Australia’s summer of cricket has been significantly curtailed from its original schedule, with an historic one-off Test against Afghanistan and a limited overs series against New Zealand both cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus played havoc with Australia’s plans in 2021; a two-Test tour of Bangladesh, scheduled for June, was postponed, while limited overs visits from Zimbabwe and West Indies were also canned.

The men’s T20 World Cup was also postponed until 2022, although a hastily-arranged limited overs tour of England did fill the gap.

The Australians will eventually return to cricket this home summer by welcoming India for three one-dayers, three Twenty20 games and four Tests.

The short-format games will be played in Sydney and Canberra, likely from November 27 to December 8.

Adelaide will host the Test series opener with a day-night encounter slated to start on December 17.

Melbourne’s Boxing Day fixture will be the second Test with Sydney’s Test likely to start on January 7 and the fourth Test in Brisbane commencing January 15.

AAP/ABC



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Hurt Ishant, Rohit overlooked for tour of Australia


“The BCCI medical team will continue to monitor the progress of Rohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

There is intrigue around Rohit’s injury, with former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar declaring the batsman had already returned to the nets.

“I don’t know, I’m not on any of these public media [emails] but I was shown something about him practising at the nets for Mumbai Indians,” he said on Star Sports.

“So I don’t know what kind of injury it is. Because if the injury was serious, he wouldn’t even be padded up. So we’re talking about a tour that starts at the end of November for T20s and one-dayers but the Test matches start around 17th of December which is a month and a half away. And, if he’s practicing in the nets for Mumbai Indians, then honestly I don’t know what kind of injury it is.”

Gavaskar, now an outspoken commentator, said there needed to be greater transparency about the injury.

“I think a little bit of transparency, a little bit of openness about what actually is the problem with him will help everybody. Because the Indian cricket fan deserves to know more than anything else,” he said.

“The franchises I understand, they don’t want to give their hand away because they’re trying to win the game, they don’t want to give the opposition any psychological advantage but we’re talking about an Indian team.”

Ishant Sharma is also battling injury.Credit:AP

Limited-overs stalwart Rohit has reinvented himself as a Test opener and his injury creates uncertainty around who would partner Mayank Agarwal at the top of the batting order in the four-Test series.

India have named Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill in the Test squad, with each able to head to the top of the order should Rohit fail to recover.

Uncapped quick Mohammed Siraj was also named in the 18-man Test squad alongside fellow quicks Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Navdeep Saini, while there are two wicketkeepers in Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant.

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Pant was omitted from limited-overs squads where Rahul was preferred.

Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara, the top-order rock here two years ago with three centuries, and Hanuma Vihari are in quarantine in the UAE.

Four additional bowlers – Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kartik Tyagi, Ishan Porel and T. Natarajan – will accompany the team on the tour.

The Virat Kohli-led team, which recorded India’s first ever Test series victory in Australia last year, are scheduled to leave the UAE on November 11 or 12 and quarantine. The BCCI made no mention of whether Kohli will return home through the series to attend the birth of his first child.

Indian cricket supremo Sourav Ganguly told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that his superstar side will agree to Australian quarantine arrangements and save Cricket Australia’s $300 million summer.

The tourists will then have three one-day internationals and as many Twenty20 internationals split through Sydney and Canberra, before the four Tests begins in Adelaide on December 17. Tests in Melbourne from December 26, Sydney from January 7 and Brisbane from January 15 are then set to follow.

India Test squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj.

T20I squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy.

ODI squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Shubman Gill, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.

with Reuters

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