Amritsar (Punjab) [India], February 9 (ANI): Indian women’s hockey team defender Gurjit Kaur reflected on her team’s recent tour of Argentina, their first assignment in a year, which concluded earlier this month.
Despite not registering a win on the tour, the Rani Rampal-led Indians went toe-to-toe against the world number two side. Gurjit thinks that the hard-fought series made her a better player.
“It felt great to be back on the field after one whole year. I am happy with my performances too, having faced a top side. We competed well against them. If you compare our performances over the last three-four years, the team has vastly improved, and that bodes well for us going into future tournaments,” said Gurjit.
Getting used to the rigours of bubble life comes with its own set of challenges. The 25-year-old thanked Hockey India and the Sports Authority of India for helping the players acclimatise to their new environment.
“Of course, it was tough to get back to a competitive arena during the early part of the tour. But, I feel, as a team, we adapted quickly. It is only natural to feel a little rusty when you are away from a competitive environment or so long. Life inside the bubble was not easy but thanks to SAI and Hockey India, all the arrangements were in place,” said Gurjit.
The Indian team were defeated 2-3 and 0-2 by the senior Argentina side. However, the visitors ended on a happy note, drawing 1-1 against Las Leonas in the final game of the tour. Rani and Co also faced Argentina’s junior and B teams.
Gurjit is now looking ahead as the clock ticks down towards the 2021 Olympics. “Personally, I am satisfied with my performances. I will be sitting down with my coaches to assess areas where I can still improve,” she said.
“With the Olympics coming up, this was a good test for us. We are preparing well for Tokyo and will continue to get better,” Gurjit signed off. (ANI)
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Vijender set for March 19 return to boxing ring, bout to take place on ship
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Undefeated professional boxing star Vijender Singh is set to make his return to the ring on March 19 and this time he will be exchanging fists in Vegas-style boxing on the Majestic Pride Casino Ship in Goa.
The first-of-its-kind fight will be held on the rooftop deck of the Majestic Pride Casino Ship — who have been roped in as the venue partner. The Majestic Pride is docked in the Mandovi River in Panaji, Goa.
The bout goes beyond the traditional norms of a regular professional match and offers viewers the glitz and glamour of Vegas-style boxing event. The announcement of Vijender’s opponent will be made soon.
Commenting on his fight Vijender said: “I am really excited to return to the ring. It excites me more to have my fight set-up on a ship. It is something that has never happened before in India and I am glad to be part of this unique professional match. I am pumped up and eager as ever to enter the ring again and have been training hard to keep myself fit for the bout.”
IOS has been instrumental in bringing professional boxing in India and has successfully conducted four fights, including two in New Delhi, one in Mumbai and another one in Jaipur. Now, Neerav Tomar, promoter IOS Boxing Promotions, plans to deliver a unique sporting event for boxing fans in the country.
On Vijender’s upcoming bout, Neerav said, “This will be a great opportunity for Indian fans to witness a unique sporting event organised locally. This whole year gave us ample time to invest our thoughts on doing something different this time and increasing the level of professional boxing in India. A boxing match on a ship is the perfect amalgamation of the intensity of boxing and razzmatazz of the entertaining casino. We hope all the fans watching or present at the venue will thoroughly enjoy the event.” (ANI)
Aguero important for us, want to help him: Guardiola
Manchester [UK], March 1 (ANI): Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said that striker Sergio Aguero will have to earn his place in the starting XI despite being the club’s highest goal-scorer.
A combination of injuries and COVID-19 has restricted Aguero to 11 appearances in all competitions this season.
The 32-year-old made his first start in four months in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League win over West Ham United, which marked City’s 20th straight victory in all competitions.
“He knows it. He knows it from day one, the guys who play deserve to play. From day one all my message is: ‘What we did two hours ago is over.’ It’s not just for Sergio — it’s for everyone. I try to make fair decisions. Fair for one player is unfair for another one,” Goal.com quoted Guardiola as saying.
“Today was a real tough game for the three players upfront. It’s good news he played 60 minutes and then the next game we need him, let’s go. Sergio is so important for us. He scored the most important goal in this club’s history. We want to help him — he will do it,” he added.
City is at the top of the Premier League standings with 62 points after 26 games, 12 points above rivals Manchester United. (ANI)
T20 WC: Mani’s comments on visa assurance for Pak players surprising, says BCCI official
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ehsan Mani’s demand for visa assurance for Pakistan players, media and fans for the T20 World Cup to be held in India between October-November has surprised the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Speaking to ANI, a board official said the comments are ‘immature’ and also pointed that the Indian government has already made its policy clear when it comes to handing visas to players for international sporting events.
“It was surprising to read Ehsan Mani’s comments, especially in the background of the wonderful working relationship that he shares with Sourav Ganguly (BCCI President) at the ICC. He is a gentleman and had in fact been a guide for Sourav during the pandemic along with Shashank (Manohar). One can’t help but think that it is very immature of Mani to give a statement like this,” the official said.
“It is almost as if he is either desperately looking for a way out of his team playing in the tournament or he is grandstanding for some constituency back home. If they want to make it a political issue, it is of course their own wish. They do know that a cricket board of a country has absolutely no locus standi to give any assurance on an issue, which is not in their purview and is firmly in the decision-making sphere of the government,” he added.
“What’s the next logical step? Will the ICC play a UN kind of role? Will Pakistan’s participation in tournaments depend upon an assurance that no acts of terror would originate on their soil?” the official enquired.
“Moreover, the government has already made their position crystal clear on the issue of visas and an informed person would be aware of it. Mani should be making efforts to try and normalise cricket relations between the two countries rather than making efforts to widen the gulf between them,” he asserted.
The issue of visas was laid to rest last year itself when the Indian government had written to the Presidents of the IOA (Indian Olympic Association) and the IOC (International Olympic Committee).
Then Sports Secretary Radhe Shyam Julaniya, in his letter on June 18, 2019, clearly stated that the country of origin of athletes would not be a barrier for them to get visas to come and compete in international sporting events in India. This after a couple of Pakistan shooters were denied visa to compete in the ISSF World Shooting championship in the national capital. The visa issue had led to the IOC reconsidering the decision to hand India international sports events.
Mani on Sunday said the PCB has sent a letter addressed to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in order to get details about the issuance of visas from India for the T20 World Cup.
“India is set to host T20 World Cup in October-November this year. I have told the board that we want written confirmation from India that our fans, journalists, and players will get visas. I have a meeting with ICC and I will raise this point once again,” said Mani.
Mani also said if India fails to provide assurance then the T20 World Cup needs to be shifted somewhere else. (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: Rahane ‘stretching limits’ in training ahead of final Test
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series, India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane is sweating it out at the training ground to ensure that he puts on a great show at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Taking to Twitter the middle-order batsman wrote, “Stretching limits as we enter the last few days of training before the final test match.”
On Sunday, India had a grind in the nets and everyone was seen having a hit in the middle.
Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) official handle had tweeted the photos from the training session and captioned the post as: “#TeamIndia members gearing up for the fourth and final Test against England.”
In the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, Axar Patel, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
If India manage to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side will qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash.
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners.
But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. After the match, Rohit had clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
The hosts are leading the series 2-1 and the fourth Test of the series will commence on Thursday at the Narendra Modi Stadium. (ANI)
Wrestler Bajrang Punia leaves social media, to focus on Tokyo Olympics
New Delhi [India], March 1 (ANI): Ace Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia on Monday announced that he will stop using all social media handles till the Tokyo Olympics as he wishes to completely focus on his preparations.
He further said he will return to social media after the conclusion of the quadrennial event. He asked his followers to keep showering their love to him.
“Mein apne sabhi social media handles ko aaj se band kar raha hu. Ab Olympic ke baad aap sabhi se mulaakaat hogi … ummeed karta hu aap apna pyaar banaye rakhenge ….. jai Hind (I am closing all my social media handles from today. Will meet you guys again after the Olympics..hoping you will keep showering me with your love.. jai Hind),” Bajrang tweeted.
Bajrang Punia, who competes in the 65-kg freestyle category, earned a quota for the Tokyo Olympics in September 2019 after winning a bronze medal at the World Championships. His last competitive international event was in February 2020 at the Asian Senior Championships in New Delhi.
“I plan my comeback at the Rome ranking series event in March and will follow that up by participating in the Asian Championships in Kazakhstan,” he had said.
Earlier, Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, while speaking to select media, had said that he is highly optimistic about India’s chances in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, adding that the contingent will make the country proud.
“Tokyo Olympics got postponed by one year, but the dates are the same. Because of Covid, the precautionary measures and protocols need to be regulated, every country is preparing for the Olympics. Tokyo Olympics would go ahead, there is no doubt about it. Olympics will go ahead and India will do well too,” Rijiju had said.
When asked about when the Tokyo-bound Olympics will be vaccinated, Rijiju had said: “COVID-19 vaccine is something that the Health Ministry needs to decide. It has already been decided that the vaccination drive needs to begin with Covid warriors. The doctors, nurses, medical team have to take care of everybody so they need to be safe first. The vaccination process has started for them and after that, the players and all will come. Covid warriors are the priority.
“The athletes will be vaccinated before the Olympics. The Sports Ministry has decided that once COVID-19 warriors are vaccinated, then our priority is to vaccinate our athletes who are Tokyo Olympics-bound. Overall priority needs to be decided by the Health Ministry. Our Sports Ministry has already stated that we have a priority of vaccinating our athletes,” he had added. (ANI)
DHL Express joins Mumbai Indians as principal sponsor and official logistics partner
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 1 (ANI): DHL Express, the world’s leading international express service provider, has come on board for the five-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians as a principal sponsor and official logistics partner. This partnership with Mumbai Indians marks DHL Express’ first-ever cricket sponsorship, globally.
Commenting on the partnership, RS Subramanian, Senior VP and MD, DHL Express India, said, “Globally, DHL supports some of the world’s largest and most popular sports formats — from football to rugby, Formula One and even e-sports. Today marks our foray into another crowd favorite: T20 cricket. Cricket is a game that is well-loved and followed with ardent devotion in India, and many nations across the world. It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to come on board as a Principal Sponsor and Official Logistics Partner for Mumbai Indians.”
A Mumbai Indians spokesperson said, “We are delighted to partner with global brand DHL Express. The combination of DHL Express’ international market network, and Mumbai Indians’ global fan following, brings in a unique dimension to our partner association programme, allowing both brands to leverage its vast consumer interface.
“We are proud of the fact that global brands such as DHL Express see Mumbai Indians as their preferred partner. It is testament to the trust that our club has earned and established through continued on-field success in conjunction with strong brand ideology.”
DHL Express is the fourth international brand to join Mumbai Indians’ current partner list having Samsung, Marriott International and Cadbury.
For DHL Express, the partnership with Mumbai Indians demonstrates its support for sports given the shared spirit of speed, passion, teamwork and a can-do attitude. It is also a strong supporter for some of the world’s biggest sports events such as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, ESL One, MotoGP and Formula 1. DHL Express also sponsors first-class clubs such as Manchester United. (ANI)
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