Chetan Chauhan Singh — the stylish, wristy and nudgy opening batsman of the Indian cricket team, and the popular BJP leader based in Uttar Pradesh as the Yogi government minister, has become another victim of the Covid-19 pandemic. He was my childhood hero along with Sunil Gavaskar, Farokh Engineer, Eknath Solkar and Abid Ali. India has lost a worthy and versatile son in him.
When he came to Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, as the chief guest of the final of Sardar Hargopal Singh Annual Cricket Tournament, a couple of years ago, I was fortunate to have had a heart-to-heart talk with him on his cricketing and political career that I thought of transforming into an interview, which owing to the work pressure and daily mundane demands, couldn’t do. Right from my childhood, I knew that after many unsuccessful opening partnerships of Ramnath Parker, Farokh Engineer, Dileep Sardesai, etc, stability was cemented by Gavaskar and Chauhan.
According to S.M.H. Kirmani, the wicketkeeper of the Indian cricket team, Chetan Chauhan was India›s Imran Khan in politics but unlike him, he wasn’t lucky to have reached that pinnacle in Indian politics. “Nevertheless, Chetan certainly deserved a better status than just being a minister in a state,” said Kirmani, reminding how he was one of the most fearless openers not only of India but the world, especially the way he had faced some of the fastest bowlers including Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding.
Chetan told me the story of his unfortunate early ouster from the Indian cricket team. He told me in a sagacious tone that at times both cricket and politics had become something equivalent to “whoring”. Gautam Gambhir, once my student at the same school, too shared how a bickering regarding captainship in the three formats of the game ended up in him being discriminated against by the bigwigs of India’s current cricketing establishment.
Considered one of the flamboyant and gutsy batsmen of Indian cricket who would dare to hit the bouncers, unlike other Indian batsmen who would be mortally scared of facing them, Chetan played 40 Test matches and seven ODIs. He was Sunil Gavaskar’s longest playing opening partner during the 1970s and early 1980s. Chetan Chauhan and Gavaskar scored over 3,000 runs together with 10 century stands in Tests. In his long and illustrious career, Chauhan scored 2,084 Test runs at an average of 31.57 with 97 being his highest score. Many times, he was in the 90s but wasn’t lucky to be a centurion.
An interesting record of sorts held by him was that Chetan Chauhan happened to be the first player in Test history to score more than 2000 runs without a hundred. In domestic cricket, he was a lavish scorer and outside India, he had built a reputation of being a tenacious fighter and scorer. The best cricketing moment of Chetan’s life, in his words, was the 213-run stand he put up with Gavaskar at The Oval in 1979, breaking the then previous record for the highest opening wicket partnership that was held by Vijay Merchant and Mushtaq Ali (203 runs) at Old Trafford.
Chauhan served in many capacities as an expert cricket guide and trainer, especially for Delhi’s schoolchildren. He also came to Modern School many times. He looked after the DDCA (Delhi & Districts Cricket Association), was the president, vice-president, secretary. Besides, he was also the chief selector plus the manager of the Indian cricket team during its tour of Australia in 2001.
In politics, he was a favourite minister of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who gave him the responsibility of the Sainik Welfare, Home Guards, PRD and Civil Security in the state cabinet. Till last year, he served as the sports minister of the state.
The author is the Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, grandnephew of Bharat Ratna Maulana Azad, community worker and columnist.
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Ritu Phogat goes down to Tiffany Teo in One Championship
India’s Ritu Phogat went down to local favourite Tiffany Teo the ONE Championship’s ONE 161 via submission at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.
Ritu, making an appearance in the championship for the first time after her loss to Stamp Fairtex on December 3, 2021 did not have the best of the nights as she went down to Tiffany in the atomweight category via submission with just eight second remaining on the clock in the first round.
The competitors began the bout on a cautious note. It was the Singaporean who launched the first offence as she targeted Ritu leg’s with kicks, while the Indian landed good overhand rights. After the initial back and forth action, Tiffany put Ritu down on the mat and applied the Rear-Naked Choke. Ritu did not have much choice and eventually tapped out to suffer her third career loss.
Doubles in badminton is a specialisation: Chirag Shetty
Chirag Shetty along with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, are one of the most feared doubles teams on the global badminton circuit. The first men’s doubles pair from India to be ranked in the top-10 of the BWF World Ranking, Shetty and Rankireddy have won many laurels for India at the international stage including Commonwealth Games Gold, World Championship bronze and Thomas Cup triumph.
Ahead of the National Games 2022, we spoke to Chirag Shetty about his career so far and the bond that he shared with Satwik.
Here are the excerpts:
Q. Satwik and you will represent different states and will rather team up against each other. Tell us about it and how much will you miss him?
A. Definitely. We are used to being together for all the interviews. So yeah, I am missing him. Because, this time the focus is national games and we are representing our respective states.
This is the only time we will be competing for different States, I think it will be completely different competing against each other because usually we are on the same side of the court. So yeah, this time it will be quite interesting. I am representing Maharashtra and he is representing Andhra.
Q. Tell us about the camaraderie that you and Satwik share.
A. The one that we shared is well documented (Giggles). I think everybody knows how good friends we are on and off the court. I think I’ve always said that to be really good players on court you need to have a strong bonding off court as well. And I think both of us try to spend as much time as possible off the court as well to know each other better. I think that’s one of the reasons why we were able to do what we’ve done!
Q. Does your friend and relative give you advice regarding playing singles? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. Well yeah, I think it’s quite a common thing to happen in India, especially because they keep asking me too. “Why you usually only play doubles and not play singles, because I think you can actually play singles quite well”. But not many people know that doubles in badminton is a specialisation, and the ones who play doubles, they only play doubles, whereas the ones who play singles, they only play singles. And usually, you wouldn’t see a singles player playing doubles and a doubles player playing singles. So, it’s difficult to make them understand. But we just usually nod our heads and say that, yeah, maybe next time we’ll try.
Q. Tell us about the role of Mathias Boe in your development and Indian badminton as a whole.
A. Since the time he joined us, the doubles department has done phenomenally well starting with the Thomas Cup victory followed by the Commonwealth Games and also the World Championships. And not just us, but even our second pair, Dhruv Kapila and Arjun, played a quarterfinal. It was the first time two Indian players were playing in the quarterfinals at the World Championships, and I think it’s remarkable. It’s all because of the efforts that Matthias has been putting in for the past six months.
Q. What do you think the Government should do to promote sports in the country?
A. Well, right now everything is going in the right direction if we talk off sports. It has been phenomenal. I remember our PM asking us after the Olympics to spare some time and meet young kids of different schools near our local areas, districts etc and promote fitness and sports there. And this is implemented too. So, I am satisfied.
‘Would aim to stop team from scoring early goals in World Cup’
The Indian men’s hockey team despite winning the silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games had a lot to rue for. The manner in which they went down against Australia was very disheartening.
They were thrashed by seven goals and midfielder Nilankanta Sharma said that they were training hard and would aim to stop teams from scoring early goals.
“We have been going through the video tapes of our matches in CWG ever since the camp started and we have been working to make sure that we don’t concede any early goals. If we start strong, we can go on to build on our performance throughout the game,” Nilakanta said.
“We have to face quite a few strong sides in the group stage of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela 2023 and we don’t want to end up feeling like we haven’t performed our best at the end so a good start is crucial for a good showing on home turf,” he stated.
India is grouped in pool D along with England, Spain and Wales and begin their campaign in Rourkela where they will take on Spain in the first game on 13th January 2023.
“Our aim at the World Cup is to get a medal, no matter what. We hope to qualify for the knockouts comfortably even though we face strong teams in the group stage and then focus on getting results against any team that stands in our way. We do have the advantage of having played most of these teams in the FIH Pro League matches and we want to take that experience onto the pitch in Odisha,” he said without mincing his words about India’s chances at the marquee event,” he added.
Nilakanta believes there is a lot of difference in playing FIH Pro League matches and World Cup. “Once we get to the quarterfinals, you cannot help but think, what if we lose, but the people in Odisha had been very supportive last time around and I will count on that support to relieve us of any pressure during the upcoming World Cup. The whole team feels that we need to keep the 2-1 loss against Netherlands in the 2018 World Cup in mind and perform well, like we did in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. We don’t want to be participants at the World Cup, we want to win a medal and we are focused on that.”
If he makes it to the World Cup squad, Nilakanta will become the first from Manipur to play in back-to-back World Cups at home.
Arshdeep is complete package: Reetinder Singh Sodhi
Arshdeep Singh is currently the toast of the nation for the way he performed in the opening T20I against South Africa.
Arshdeep was the pick of the bowlers for India and he ran through the South African top-order to have them reeling at 9-5 at one stage. He was superb with the new ball and his wickets never allowed South Africa to get back into the match and they eventually ended their innings at 106-8.
The young Punjab speedster ended the match with figures of 3-32 in four overs. His performance is being applauded by pundits and experts including former Indian international Reetinder Singh Sodhi.
Sodhi hailed the left-arm seamer for his performance and felt that despite being new to international cricket, he is performing at a very top level which is a great sign for Indian cricket.
Talking during a cricket special show on India News presented by Dafanews, Sodhi said, “His morale was really down post Asia Cup but the way he performed in this match talks a lot about his mentality. He overcame all that happened during the Asia Cup and made a brilliant comeback. He is mentally very strong which is a sign of a good player.”
“He knew exactly what he was doing as we often see that when there is pace and bounce on the wickets, bowlers tend to pull their length back. But he did very well to bowl the perfect line on this pitch and made the batters play on the rise allowing the ball to swing,” he added.
Arshdeep was on fire and took the wickets of Quinton de Kock, Rilee Rossouw and David Miller in his very first over of the match to break the back of the Proteas.
“South African batsmen had no clue what the bowlers were doing. They lacked technique and they were not able to move their feet well against the moving ball. To play on these kinds of tracks, one needs to have sound technique and be precise with his shot selection which was nowhere to be seen when they were batting,” Sodhi explained.
Sodhi believes India’s bowling department is well covered and has the required depth to challenge for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
“This is the kind of bowling which is required in Australia for the T20 World Cup. The way Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep bowled in the match, it shows the options and depth in Indian bowling attack,” he added.
Suryakumar Yadav becomes India’s leading T20 run-getter in calendar year
Talented Indian top order batter Suryakumar Yadav added another feather to his illustrious cap as he overtook veteran opener, Shikhar Dhawan, to score most runs for India in the shortest format in a calendar year.
He reached this landmark during India’s first T20i of the three-match series against South Africa. In the match, Suryakumar smashed an unbeaten 50 off 33 balls at a strike rate of 151.52 on a tricky pitch during a chase of 107 runs. His knock consisted of five fours and three sixes.
This knock has taken his run tally in 2022 to 732 runs in 21 innings at an average of 40.66. One century and five half-centuries have come from his bat. His best individual score in the format this year is 117.
He has overtaken the tally of Shikhar Dhawan’s 689 runs at an average of 40.52 in 2018. The left-hander had scored six half-centuries in 18 matches.
Both these batters are followed by Virat Kohli (641 runs in 2016), skipper Rohit Sharma (590 in 2018) and Rohit once again (497 runs in 2016 and 2022).
Suryakumar also is the fourth-highest run scorer in T20I cricket in a calendar year, behind Ireland’s Paul Stirling (748 runs in 2019), Pakistan skipper Babar Azam (939 runs in 2021) and number one T20I batter Mohammad Rizwan from Pakistan (1,321 runs in 2021).
Bumrah likely to be ruled out of T20 World Cup
Indian bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah is unlikely to travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup starting on October 16th.
Bumrah, who has already been ruled out of the ongoing home T20 series against South Africa of back injury, will have to spend much more time on the sidelines than what was expected before.
While BCCI has not officially confirmed the decision, it has been learnt that Bumrah has picked up stress fracture in the back and is all but ruled out of the mega event Down Under. Bumrah had not travelled with the team for the opening T20I against South Africa, played at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.
Bumrah, who had also ruled out of the Asia Cup 2022 due to his back problem, and was training at the National Cricket Academy, played the last two T20Is against Australia. He was far from his best in the series and in the last match of the series gave away 50 runs in his stipulated four overs, which is the most expensive T20I figures.
Bumrah’s injury comes at a crucial time for India and will further deplete the bowling line-up with Ravindra Jadeja already ruled out. With Bumrah likely to miss out, it is quite possible that Mohd. Shami who was named as a standby in the World Cup squad will be drafted in the main squad.
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