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NEW DELHI: The dreaded 2020 is finally coming to an end. If the global effect of the coronavirus pandemic weren’t bad enough, the sporting world also lost some of its favourite sons this year. From the legendary Diego Maradona to former India football captain P.K. Banerjee, from Dean Jones to Kobe Bryant…the losses will be hard to fill. As we take baby steps into 2021, a look at the sporting icons who left for heavenly abode.


(OCT 1960 – NOV 2020)

One of the greatest footballers of all time, the Argentina star was born in Lanus, a town near Buenos Aires, on October 30, 1960. He started playing football in the streets around his neighbourhood and at the age of twelve, he was part of the children’s team Los Cebollitas.

The World Cup-winning footballer represented Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, and Newell’s Old Boys as a player. Diego was considered solely responsible for taking Argentina to their second World Cup title in 1986.

With the Argentine team, he won the World Cup at Mexico 86, a tournament in which he stood out, above all, in a match against England. He scored two goals, including one with his hand which went down in history as ‘the hand of God,’ and another exceptional strike that is considered one of the best in the history of the competition.

Maradona was hospitalised after he complained of being fatigued regularly. His tests at the La Plata clinic revealed a blood clot in the brain, which doctors later revealed was operated on successfully. He passed away on November 25 after suffering a heart attack.


(AUG 1978 – JAN 2020)

American basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The 41-year-old Bryant had won five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships in his 20-year-long career while playing for Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant became one of NBA’s most popular players and the face of the Lakers during his career. Winning a record four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, he was the overall league MVP in 2008, a two-time NBA scoring champion, and 12 All-Defensive selections.

He teamed with Shaquille O’Neal in a combustible partnership to lead the Lakers to NBA titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002. He later teamed with Pau Gasol to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010.

A two-time Olympic gold medalist with the dominant U.S. team, Bryant retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. In December 2017, the Lakers hung banners retiring his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys in the Staples Center rafters in an unprecedented double honor.


(JUNE 1936 – MAR 2020)

The former India football captain passed away at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness in March. The legendary Indian footballer was an integral part of India’s gold medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games and even scored in the final against South Korea as India fought against all odds to script a historic 2-1 triumph in Jakarta.

Banerjee, who was the first footballer to receive the Arjuna Award (in 1961), represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and played a pivotal role in the 4-2 victory against Australia in the quarter-finals where India eventually finished fourth.

Banerjee was also bestowed with the FIFA Fairplay Award (in 1990), and the FIFA Centennial Order of Merit in 2004.


(DEC 1923 – MAY 2020)

Three times Olympic medal-winning hockey legend, Balbir Singh Sr. passed away on May 25 due to multiple health issues at the age of 96.

The iconic center-forward was one of India’s most accomplished athletes and was the only Indian among the 16 legends chosen by the International Olympic Committee across the modern Olympic history. He won three gold medals — in 1948 in London, in 1952 in Helsinki, and in 1956 in Melbourne. Balbir Singh is still remembered for scoring five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the Helsinki Games in 1952. In 1957, he was conferred with Padma Shri Award for his contributions and achievements in the field of hockey.


(MAR 1961 – SEPT 2020)

Former Australia cricketer Dean Jones passed away due to a cardiac arrest at the age of 59 on September 24 during the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). A gritty, attacking player, the Victorian made 3631 runs at an average of 46.55 in Tests, while in ODIs he made 6068 runs, at 44.61, with seven hundreds and 46 fifties. He also remains No.5 on the all-time ICC Batting Rankings in the format.

His most memorable Test innings came in 1986 when in the heat and humidity of Chennai, he battled exhaustion and illness to make a heroic 210 in what would be only the second tied Test ever.

Jones went on to make 10 more hundreds, with a career-best 216 against West Indies in Adelaide in 1989. He retired from international cricket in 1994—much too early, according to his supporters, but went on to play first-class cricket till the 1997/98 season.

With ANI inputs

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The Sports Authority of India has announced the appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), Commodore PK Garg, at the Mission Olympic Cell meeting held on Thursday.

Commodore Garg was the High-Performance Director with Sports Authority of India till June 2021 and is an Arjuna Awardee recipient (1990) in Sailing and Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Awardee in 1993-94. He joined Indian Navy in 1984 and handled various important and prestigious assignments over 34 years of service.

As an ex-athlete, he represented India in five Asian Games from 1986 to 2002 in the Enterprise-Class Sailing Event and was a National Champion five times.

“He also won the Gold and Silver at the Enterprise Class Sailing World Championships in 1993 in Zimbabwe and 1997 in Goa. He also won a couple of Bronze medals at the 1990 and 1994 Asian Games,” read an official SAI statement.

He served as Secretary of Services Sports Control Board (Indian Armed Forces) from 2014-17 and has also served as the Joint Secretary of the Yachting Association of India for four years.

He will be assuming the charge of CEO TOPS on Monday, October 25, 2021.

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Manchester United owners showing interest to be a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) may be one of the reasons why the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on September 21 informed they have decided to extend the date for purchasing the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the right to own and operate one of two proposed new IPL teams document till October 10 from the initial deadline of October 5.

Speaking to ANI, sources in the know confirmed the interest shown by Manchester United owners. “Well yes, it is true that they have shown interest and that may be one of the reasons why the dateline was extended by the BCCI. IPL is not just restricted to India, it is a global entity now,” the source pointed.

The Governing Council of the IPL had issued the ‘Invitation to Tender’ (“ITT”) document available on payment of the non-refundable tender fees on August 31, 2021.

“Pursuant to request from interested parties, the BCCI has now decided to extend the date for purchasing the ITT document till October 10, 2021,” BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

The ITT will be available to interested parties on receipt of payment of the non-refundable tender fee of INR 10,00,000 (Rupees Ten Lac Only) plus any applicable Goods and Services Tax. All other terms contained in the Invitation document shall be applicable.

“Interested parties are requested to email at to get further details for purchasing the ITT,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, from the football world, Premier League club Newcastle United on Wednesday confirmed that Steve Bruce has left his position as head coach by mutual consent.

He leaves the Magpies after more than two years in charge, having steered the club to 13th and 12th-place finishes in the Premier League and reaching the quarter-final stage in both the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup during his tenure. In an official release, Steve Bruce said: “I am grateful to everyone connected with Newcastle United for the opportunity to manage this unique football club.”

“I would like to thank my coaching team, the players and the support staff in particular for all their hard work. There have been highs and lows, but they have given everything even in difficult moments and should be proud of their efforts,” he added.

Graeme Jones will lead the team on an interim basis, starting with Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, and will be supported by the coaching team of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith.

The process of recruiting a new head coach is under way and an appointment will be announced in due course.

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India shuttler PV Sindhu on Thursday progressed to the quarterfinals of the ongoing Denmark Open.

Sindhu defeated Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-16, 12-21, 21-15 in a match that lasted for one hour and seven minutes. Sindhu dominated the first game, but Thailand’s opponent staged a comeback to send the match into the third and final game.

However, the Indian shuttler maintained her composure to stage a win in the match.

Earlier in the day, India shuttler Kidambi Srikanth bowed out of the ongoing Denmark Open. Srikanth lost his round of 16 match against Japan’s Kento Momota 21-23, 9-21.

Mixed doubles pair of Dhruv Kapila and N Sikki Reddy also bowed out after suffering a defeat against Tang Chun Man and Tse Ying Suet.

The Indian duo displayed a fighting spirit throughout the game and was able to stretch their opponents to three games.

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West Indies Women to play three One Day Internationals in Karachi



West Indies Women will visit Pakistan for three ODIs in November. Karachi’s iconic National Stadium will host the matches on November 8-14, following which both sides will travel to Zimbabwe for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier to be held from November 21 to December 5.

This will be Pakistan women’s third bilateral series in 2021 after they toured South Africa in January-February and West Indies in June-July. Stafaine Taylor’s West Indies will arrive in Karachi on November 1 for what is a reciprocal tour. The top three of the 10 teams will qualify for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, which will be played in New Zealand.

PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja said: “We are delighted to announce the West Indies women’s tour to Pakistan in November. This will be a great series for the promotion, publicity and growth of women’s cricket in Pakistan, besides also providing both sides excellent opportunity to prepare for the World Cup qualifier. West Indies women’s tour will be followed by their men’s side who will visit Pakistan for three ODIs and three T20Is in December. So, the Pakistan cricket fans can brace for some exciting and entertaining cricket in women’s and men’s cricket later this year.”

Meanwhile, the national women’s selection committee – which includes Urooj Mumtaz (the chair) and Asmavia Iqbal – has also announced an 18-strong squad for the upcoming three ODIs and the World Cup Qualifier.

Batter Javeria Khan will lead the contingent, which has been devised after considering the performances on the last two tours and the recent Pakistan Cup Women’s One-Day.

Pakistan Women for West Indies ODIs and World Cup Qualifier: Javeria Khan (captain), Aiman Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Kainat Imtiaz, Maham Tariq, Muneeba Ali, Nashra Sundhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Amin and Sidra Nawaz (wicketkeeper)

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Bangladesh displayed a spirited all-round performance to thrash Papua New Guinea by 84 runs in Group B of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Thursday.

Chasing 182, PNG was put on the back foot right from the very start as the side lost four wickets inside the first six overs and the team was reduced to 17/4. PNG was never able to recover from the horrible start they got, and in the end, Bangladesh bundled out PNG for 97 inside 19.3 overs to complete a comprehensive 84-run win.

Earlier, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan played knocks of 50 and 46 to help Bangladesh score 181/7 in the allotted twenty overs. Opting to bat, Bangladesh did not get off to an ideal start as the side lost opener Mohammad Naim (0) in the very first over of the innings to Kabua Morea.

Liton Das and Shakib then put on 50 runs for the second wicket, but PNG remained in the contest by taking wickets of Liton (29) and Mushfiqur Rahim (5) in quick succession, reducing Bangladesh to 72/3 in the 11th over.

Shakib went on to play a knock of 46 runs but his dismissal in the 14th over required Bangladesh to revive their innings and rebuild to post a solid total on the board.

Mahmudullah ensured that Bangladesh do not lose momentum and the side posted a total of more than the 180-run mark. Afif Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin also played useful cameos of 21 and 19.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 181/7 (Mahmudullah 50, Shakib Al Hasan 46; Kabua Morea 2-26); PNG 97 all out (Kiplin Doriga 46*, Chad Soper 11; Shakib Al Hasan 4-9).

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Scotland defeat Oman to qualify for Super 12s

As a result of finishing at the top of Group B, Scotland will join India’s group featuring Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan.



Kyle Coetzer played a knock of 41 runs as Scotland defeated Oman by eight wickets in Group B of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground (Ministry Turf 1) on Thursday.

With this win, Scotland and Bangladesh have progressed from Group B to the Super 12 stages. As a result of finishing at the top of Group B, Scotland will join India’s group featuring Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan. On the other hand, Bangladesh will join Australia, South Africa, West Indies and England. Chasing 123, Scotland got off a steady start as openers George Munsey and Kyle Coetzer put on 33 runs for the first wicket. Oman got the much-needed breakthrough in the fifth over as Fayyaz Butt dismissed Munsey (20).

Matthew Cross then joined Coetzer in the middle and the duo did not let the momentum drop for Scotland. Both batters formed a 42-run stand, but with 48 away from the target, Scotland ended up losing the wicket of Coetzer (41) in the 10th over. In the end, Matthew Cross (26*) and Richie Berrington (31*) ensured that Scotland register a comfortable victory with 18 balls to spare.

Earlier, a spirited bowling performance helped Scotland bundle Oman out for 122. Opting to bat first, Oman got off to a bad start as the side lost its first two wickets with just 13 runs on the board. Jatinder Singh (0) and Kashyap Prajapati (3) both failed to leave a mark with the bat. Aqib Ilyas and Mohammad Nadeem then formed a 38-run stand for the third wicket, but this was cut short by Michael Leask as he sent Ilyas (37) back to the pavilion, reducing Oman to 51/3 in the 10th over.

Mohammad Nadeem (25) then departed in the 13th over as his wicket was taken by Mark Watt and Oman was reduced to 79/4 and the hosts were in dire need of a partnership. However, that did not prove the case as Sandeep Goud (5) also failed to leave a mark with the bat, leaving Oman at 93/5 in the 15th over. Oman kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and in the end, the hosts had to settle for a score of just over the 120-run mark.

Brief Scores: Oman 122 all out (Aqib Ilyas 37, Zeeshan Maqsood 34; Josh Davey 3-25); Scotland 123/2 (Kyle Coetzer 41, Richie Berrington 31*; Khawar Ali 1-27).

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