It was in Prague that Indian Davis Cup player Divij Sharan received the pleasant news of being nominated for the 2020 Arjuna Award for tennis. I have known Divij since the age of 12 and his nomination gave me personal pleasure as I have always admired him as a very talented player of the country. Currently, Divij is in New York preparing for the US Open Championship and he spoke to The Daily Guardian from there. Excerpts:
Q. How exciting was it for you to hear about the nomination for the prestigious Arjuna Award?
A. I was travelling abroad and was in Prague when I started to get messages from friends and family. In fact, I would have received the award last year but I had missed the deadline by a day to file my papers. It would be an honour to receive the most prestigious award for a sportsperson.
Q. How were your initial years of playing tennis? Tell us something about your introduction to the tennis court.
A. I was always an athletic boy, participating in various sports very early in my childhood. When I was in Class 3 in Modern School, Vasant Vihar, a tennis academy was opened at the school. My father took me to the academy to play after school. My coach in the academy, Rajendar Jaiswal, saw talent in me and asked me to join the weekend advance programme, and the rest is history.
Q. From a very early age, you have been playing at a very high level. Can you throw some light on that?
A. At the age of 12 and 13, I played for Delhi, and at the age of 14, I was part of the Junior Davis Cup team. My journey has been constant and I have achieved at various levels.
Q. Every player has the support and understanding of their family. How good was the support from your family?
A. As a junior player, my mother, Anju Sharan, travelled with me locally as well as outside Delhi, taking very good care of me. Although my younger brother, Anuj, was left alone many times, our joint family structure allowed my mother to travel extensively. My father, Madhav Sharan, is a renowned HR professional working for an MNC. His support for me has been my backbone. My brother, Anuj, is my best friend and he has always supported me in all my lows and highs too.
Q. What was the turning point of your career?
A. My three consecutive finals in DSCL Championship was the turning point of my career, which gave my family the confidence that I can make it big. I was lucky to be selected by the AITA Junior Programme to travel in Europe and participate in the Grand Slam Championship. By then I was ranked #5 in the world of Junior Doubles. My second turning point was at SRCC, where after many years we had won the inter-college event in DU. My physical education director, Mallik, had called my father and advised him to pull me out of college as attendance was compulsory and my being in the college would have been a stumbling block for my future in tennis. My father took the advice seriously, and after my first-year exam, he pulled me out of college and told me to focus totally on tennis.
Q. Did you get any corporate support in your struggling days?
A. Yes, I can’t thank Indian Oil enough for giving me unstinted support during my tough time. I am still working with them. In 2008, Indian Oil inducted me on scholarship and assured me that once I am a graduate, they will absorb me in their regular roles. I used to take a few months off from my circuit and come back and study for my graduation exam from the open university.
Q. You are already 34, are you still hungry?
A. Yes, I am still very hungry. My highest rank has been 34 in Doubles Men and I would like to do better before hanging my boots. I feel I still have a few more years in me to play at the highest level.
Q. What message would you and your family like to share for upcoming players and their parents?
A. According to my father, you can choose to study in India and still be a worldclass player. My mother always says “persistency and consistency” are the keys to success. I personally feel that parents should not push their ideology and allow the child to balance the game and education. A basic qualification is a must for players.
The writer is a sports guru.
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WORLD C’SHIPS: AIBA INTRODUCES WHITE GLOVES; WINNERS TO GET MEDALS, BELTS AND PRIZE MONEY
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has announced that the official gloves of the World Championships will be now white in colour replacing the red and blue ones.
With the title win, the champions will also receive medals and belts to keep and wear with pride. AIBA will award the winners of the men’s World Boxing Championships with designed medals and belts to commemorate their accomplishments. Medals will be made of solid gold and silver respectively.
DENMARK OPEN: PV SINDHU MARCHES INTO NEXT ROUND
India shuttler PV Sindhu on Tuesday marched ahead to the next round of the ongoing Denmark Open.
Sindhu defeated Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit 21-12, 21-10 in a match that lasted for 30 minutes.
The ace Indian shuttler dominated the entire match and her Turkish opponent was left struggling to search for answers.
Earlier in the day, India men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy progressed to the next round of the ongoing Denmark Open.
The Indian duo defeated England’s Callum Hemming and Steven Stallwood 23-21, 21-15 here at Court 3.
Earlier in the day, Srikanth Kidambi got the better of compatriot B Sai Praneeth in straight sets in the men’s singles 1st round of Denmark Open here at the Odense Sports Park on Tuesday.
Playing at court-2, Kidambi inflicted a 21-14, 21-11 defeat on Praneeth in just 30 minutes. With this win, Kidambi has now moved into round-of-16 in the World Tour Super 1000 event in Denmark.
Srikanth completely outclassed and dominated Praneeth in both games.
DON’T MIX SPORTS WITH POLITICS, INDIA-PAK T20 WC MATCH SHOULD GO ON: PRAKASH PADUKONE
India badminton legend Prakash Padukone on Tuesday said that sports and politics should not be mixed with each other, and the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan should proceed as planned.India and Pakistan are slated to lock horns against each other in the World Cup on October 24 in Dubai.
“According to me, the match between India and Pakistan should go on. Sports and politics should not be mixed together,” Padukone told ANI.
Earlier on Tuesday, Aam Aadmi Party had demanded that the Indian cricket team should opt-out of its match against Pakistan in ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai.
During a press conference, Atishi, AAP MLA from Kalkaji said, “We see people being attacked in Kashmir. I’m sure that even the Prime Minister agrees with the stand of not conducting the match (IND v PAK) as when in Opposition he used to question that when state-sponsored terrorism is taking place in India why should we play cricket with them?”
Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath among 18 new honorary members of MCC
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) on Tuesday announced 18 new honorary life members. MCC awards Honorary Life Membership (HLM) of the club to some of the world’s finest cricketers.
Eight of the 12 Test-playing nations are represented in this year’s list, which includes some of the most recognisable names in the modern game.
England’s leading Test run-scorer, Sir Alastair Cook, is joined by fellow countrymen Ian Bell and Marcus Trescothick, totalling more than 39,000 international runs between them. A fourth England star, Sarah Taylor, returned to the field this year, appearing in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, Charlotte Edwards Cup and The Hundred, and is recognised as one of the finest wicket-keepers of her generation.
Four South African legends have been awarded Honorary Life Membership, with Hashim Amla, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel all receiving the honour. Kallis’s 13,289 Test runs puts him third on the all-time run-scoring list.
Alex Blackwell and Damien Martyn of Australia are also included. Allrounder Blackwell won over 250 caps for her country across all formats of the games, and batter Martyn scored almost 10,000 international runs.
Indian duo Harbhajan Singh and Javagal Srinath both enjoyed fine international careers. Harbhajan is India’s third-highest wicket-taker in Tests, with 417 dismissals in 103 Tests, while Srinath is one of the country’s greatest ODI players, having taken 315 wickets and ended his career as India’s second-highest wicket-taker in ODIs.
Ian Bishop, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan all represent West Indies. Bishop took 161 wickets in just 43 matches, while Chanderpaul is West Indies’ most capped Test player (164) and only seven players have scored more than his 11,867 runs.
BERRINGTON, BOWLERS SHINE AS SCOTLAND DEFEAT PNG IN GROUP B
Richie Berrington’s 70-run knock and a spirited bowling performance helped Scotland defeat Papua New Guinea (PNG) by 17 runs in Group B of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Tuesday.
Chasing 166, PNG got off to a horror start as the side lost five wickets and was reduced to 35/5. Tony Ura (2), Lega Siaka (9), Assad Vala (18), Charles Amini (1), and Simon Atai (2) all failed to leave a mark with the bat and Scotland was firmly at the top.
Sese Bau and Norman Vanua then put on 32 runs for the sixth wicket, but the required run-rate got a bit too much to handle and as a result, Bau (24) ended up losing his wicket to Chris Greaves, reducing PNG to 67/6 in the 12th over. Norman Vanua and Kiplin Doriga then provided a real scare to Scotland as the duo put on a quickfire stand of 53 runs for the seventh wicket. Mark Watt then dismissed Doriga (18) and Scotland needed 42 runs to win from the final three overs.
Vanua (47) however perished in the 18th over, and with this PNG’s hopes were dashed and Scotland registered a 17-run victory.
Brief Scores: Scotland 165/9 (Richie Berrington 70, Matthew Cross 45; Kabua Morea 4-31); PNG 148 all out (Norman Vanua 47, Sese Bau 24; Josh Davey 4-18).
Spirited all-round performance sees Bangladesh defeat Oman in Group B
Aspirited bowling performance helped Bangladesh defeat Oman by 26 runs in Group B of the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Tuesday.
Chasing 154, Oman lost its opener Aqib Ilyas (6) in the second over of the innings. Jatinder Singh and Kashyap Prajapati then put on 34 runs for the second wicket, but the partnership ended in the 6th over as Mustafizur Rahman dismissed Prajapati (21), reducing Oman to 47/2.
Jatinder then rallied Oman’s innings alongside skipper Zeeshan Maqsood and at the halfway mark, the score read 70/2, still needing 84 more runs to win from 60 balls. Both batters stitched together a 34-run stand for the third wicket, but as soon as Oman started to gain an upper hand, Bangladesh stormed right back as Mahedi Hasan dismissed Maqsood (12). Soon after, Jatinder (40) was dismissed by Shakib Al Hasan and Oman was reduced to 90/4.
Oman kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and in the end, Bangladesh registered a victory by 26 runs to keep their hopes alive of progressing to the Super 12 stage.
Earlier, Mohammad Naim and Shakib Al Hasan played knocks of 64 and 42 respectively as Bangladesh posted a score of 153. Opting to bat first, Bangladesh did not get off to an ideal start as the side lost its opener Liton Das (6) in the third over of the innings. Bilal had Das caught right plumb in front of the wickets. Soon after, Mahedi Hasan was dismissed for a duck by Fayyaz Butt and Bangladesh was reduced to 21/2 in the 5th over.
Mohammad Naim and Shakib then got together at the crease and the duo revived the innings for Bangladesh. The duo put on 80 runs for the third wicket, but as soon as Bangladesh started to gain an upper hand, Oman managed to dismiss Shakib (42) via a run-out. After Shakib’s dismissal, Bangladesh lost the wickets of Nurul Hasan (3), Afifi Hossain (1) and Naim (64) in quick succession and Bangladesh was reduced to 122/6 in the 17th over. However, in the end, Mahmudullah (17) ensured that Bangladesh posts a total of more than the 150-run mark.
Earlier in the day, Richie Berrington’s 70-run knock and a spirited bowling performance helped Scotland defeat Papua New Guinea (PNG) by 17 runs in Group B.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 153 all out (Mohammad Naim 64, Shakib Al Hasan 42; Bilal Khan 3-18); Oman 127/9 (Jatinder Singh 40, Kashyap Prajapati 21, Mustafizur Rahman 4-36).
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