Former India batsman VVS Laxman reckons Shikhar Dhawan’s focus should be on scoring runs in the upcoming Sri Lanka tour to cement his place in the squad for the T20 World Cup.
Sri Lanka and India will square off in three ODIs and three T20Is, beginning July 13. While Bhuvneshwar has been named vice-captain, Dhawan will lead the team which will be coached by former India skipper Rahul Dravid. Laxman said Dhawan might be leading the side but he has to be amongst runs in the Sri Lanka series considering the stiff competition for the opening spot in T20 World Cup squad.“First thing, I think he is being rewarded for his consistent performance for the Indian Team, – especially in white-ball cricket – and he is the most experienced player in this squad,” said Laxman on Star Sports’ show Game Plan.“But Shikhar Dhawan will be very clear that he has to use this opportunity – especially keeping in mind the T20 World Cup, there is so much stiff competition. There is Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul – who are established opening batsmen. Virat Kohli, very clearly mentioned that he wants to open in T20 formats.“So, Shikhar Dhawan has to be amongst runs. So, while he is excited being the captain of the Indian team – and anyone will be proud to lead their country – but his focus will be to score runs and put his spot in a secure position,” he added.Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan feels Dhawan will have a point to prove to himself in the Sri Lanka tour and at the same time, the opening batsman will be excited to lead the side for the first time in his career.
“He is a very fun-loving guy. Whenever you meet him, he is always laughing, very cheerful. The youngsters will be very comfortable around him. And I think, as a leader, he will have a point to prove – not to anyone, but for himself,” said Irfan.“Because last time he was leading an IPL side, that was not a very fruitful move for him, but that was so many years ago. So, if any senior guy wants to do something, he needs to convince himself – more than trying to prove a point to anyone else.
“So, he will be really excited for leadership, but at the same time, he will be looking forward to not only perform but also sharing his experience with all the youngsters,” he added. The likes of Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav are also in the white-ball squad and many more youngsters are eyeing a debut for India in the Sri Lanka series.
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Bronze assured: Lovlina packs a right punch, storms into semis
Lovlina Borgohain will face Turkish boxer Surmene Busenaz in the semi-finals.
This is a matter of great pride that India will get a medal in boxing. Welterweight boxer Lovlina Borgohain defeated Taipei’s boxer Chen Nien. Now she will face Turkish boxer Surmene Busenaz in the semi-finals, who is indeed one of the finest women pugilist of today’s era.
I watched Surmene’s quarterfinal bout against a Ukrainian boxer before Lovlina’s bout. Surmene has amazing combinations of punches and excellent accuracy. To be honest, I became very emotional while watching her bout. I was reminded of my old days. Some of her movements are very similar to my movements when I was playing. Her defensive movement and the ability to counterattack while staying in the range are rare.
The only thing I would say about Surmene is that given the kind of style of play she has, she can be successful in attacking the opponent in every attempt. Perhaps due to these qualities, this boxer won the gold medal in the 2019 World Championship.
My advice to Lovlina is to stay in the same position while fighting long distances and strike back. Also, according to the terminology of boxing, if she plays circle to left, circle to right or you can say right-left movement, then she may be successful in challenging the Turkish boxer. The Taipei boxer played like a fighter against Lovlina. The way Lovlina played, it was the right strategy to play against a fighter.
While I had high hopes from Simranjit Kaur, the Thai boxer made the most of her experiences against her. She was running smoothly after scoring. Although it was decided in the first two rounds that the Thai boxer had won this bout, but in the third round, Simranjit was under pressure or whatever you call her, her shell guard was also down in this round. The Thai boxer made good use of her skills there and punched on the target. It never seemed that this bout could be in Simran’s hands.
The absence of a doctor with the Indian boxing contingent is very unfortunate. There is a high chance of injury in this game. Truth be told, there is a need for a physio and a doctor team with all combat sports, but still, it would have been better if all these issues had arisen before the Olympics.
The author is a former Olympian and an Arjuna Awardee.
OLYMPICS: INDIA WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM TO FACE IRELAND IN MUST-WIN GAME
The India women’s hockey team will look to put the disappointing result against Great Britain on Wednesday behind them when they take on World Number 9 side Ireland in their fourth Group Stage match at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.
The equation for Team India is such that they must emerge with a win against Ireland to keep their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive. Ireland will be approaching the match on the back of a 4 – 2 defeat at the hands of Germany on Wednesday; but with plenty of incentive as the Irish side can secure their own quarter-final berth with a win.
Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne reflected on the team’s performance against Great Britain, and spoke about the changes that the team must make for the match against Ireland. “We underperformed as a team against Great Britain. It wasn’t a good match on our part, and we must quickly put it behind us and move on as there are still 6 very crucial points to play for in the Group Stage. We have to aim for the full 6 points from the next two games. It’s now or never,” said Marijne.
Captain Rani believes that the team must assess their performance relative to the strength of opposition they have faced so far in the competition. “Our Olympic campaign began with a series of matches against three of the best hockey teams in the world. Although the results have not been in our favour, we have approached and played each match with the right mentality.
“We will continue to do so in the next two games, and give it everything we have as a team to try and get 6 points to qualify for the knockout rounds,” said Rani.
Speaking about the match against Ireland, Rani said, “Ireland are a good team, and they are also our closest competitor in our pool. We have to do better to convert our goal scoring chances against them; both in terms of field goal attempts and penalty corners. We did well against Great Britain to win so many penalty corners; our goal came from a PC as well. We have to improve our conversion rate in the coming matches.”
ATANU STUNS JINHYEK OH IN THRILLER, CRUISES INTO NEXT ROUND
Indian archer Atanu Das shocked South Korea’s Jinhyek Oh in a nail-biting finish to make it to the 1/8 Elimination round in the men’s individual archery event here at the Yumenoshima Ranking Field on Thursday.
The third-seed Korean started the match with a decent 8-9-9 and Das replied with 8-8-9, giving Jinhyek two points in the first set. Das came strongly in the second set with three 9s, Oh missed the chance to take the two points after hitting an 8 in the last arrow. The third set also had the same output with both archers sharing the points. Jinhyek 8-10-9 and Indian aimed 9-9-9. With his back against the wall, Atanu responded brilliantly and took the fourth set 8-9-10 and the Korean replied with 9-7-6 to force a decider.
The fifth set tested the nerves of both archers as they both again shared the points and progressed into shoot-off. Aiming first in the shoot-off, Jinhyek shot a 9 to which Atanu replied with a brilliant 10 and sealed the match. With this win, he has cruised into the 1/8 eliminations round. Earlier in the day, Atanu defeated Chinese Taipei’s Yu-Cheng Dang in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics 6-4 in the 1/64 Elimination round.
Indian men’s hockey team defeat Argentina 3-1, enter quarters
India men’s hockey team defeated defending Olympic Champion Argentina by 3-1 in their fourth group A game here at Oi Hockey Stadium- North Pitch on Thursday.
With this win, the Indian men’s hockey team has qualified for the quarterfinals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. India started the match at a good pace as defenders gave no clear-cut chance to defending champion to find that rhythm in midfield. Dilpreet Singh had India’s best chance in quarter one but it was kept out by the Argentine goalkeeper by a very good save.
India’s finishing was not clinical even in the second quarter and it remained scoreless after the end of the first half. In the third quarter, the pressure by Indian forwards finally delivered as Varun Kumar gave the team a much-needed breakthrough after converting a very well worked penalty corner. In the dying minutes of the quarter, Graham Reid’s men were close to double their lead but Argentina goalkeeper Juan Manuel came big for his team again by saving a nicely worked PC by the Indian team.
In the fourth quarter, Argentina responded well by converting a PC and levelled the match against India as Casella stormed the ball past Sreejesh. With the match going for a draw, Vivek Sagar Prasad came with an absolute poacher of a finish to regain the lead for the team. Minutes later Harmanpreet Singh came clutch for India from PC and sealed the match for India. After this victory, India has now won three matches in their group.
OLYMPICS: SINDHU STORMS INTO QUARTERFINALS AFTER DEFEATING MIA BLICHFELDT
Star Indian shuttler PV Sindhu defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Round of 16 match of women’s individual event in the Tokyo Olympics here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 3 on Thursday. Sindhu defeated Mia Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in just 41 minutes to cruise into the quarter-finals.
Sindhu started well in the match after trailing 0-2 as she held the advantage throughout, taking an 11-6 lead into the mid-game interval. Mia gained some ground after the interval as Danish closed the gap to just two points but Sindhu came roaring back and later took six points in a row to finish the first set in 22 minutes — 21-15. In the second set, Sindhu continued with her momentum from the first, and with some beautiful cross-court downward shots, she took the lead by 5 points in the mid-game interval. Blichfeldt tried to stay in the game by playing some long rallies but the sixth-seed showed her invaluable experience and cruised into the next round as she took the game 21-13.
Sindhu will now face either 12th seed South Korean Gaeun Kim or Japan’s 4th seed Akane Yamaguchi in the last 8. On Wednesday, Sindhu defeated Hong Kong’s Ngan Yi Cheung in straight sets 21-9, 21-16 to cruise into the elimination round of women’s singles. This was the second successive win for the 2016 silver medallist who earlier on Sunday started her Tokyo campaign on a good note after defeating Israel’s Ksenia Polikarpova 21-7, 21-10. The entire match lasted for just 28 minutes.
LANKA SEAL SERIES 2-1 AFTER EASY WIN OVER INDIA IN THIRD T20I
Wanindu Hasaranga picked four wickets before Sri Lankan batsmen wrapped an easy win in the third and final T20I against India to clinch the three-match series 2-1 on Thursday.
Sri Lanka needed 82 runs to win against the depleted Indian side in the series decider and the hosts chase down the target comfortably inside 15 overs. Chasing 82, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start as Rahul Chahar removed opening batsman Avishka Fernando in the sixth over. It was a slow start from Sri Lanka but the hosts were far from any trouble as they only needed 82 runs to win.
Chahar did pick two more wickets as he dismissed Minod Bhanuka and Sadeera Samarawickrama but wasn’t able to stop Sri Lanka from chasing the target.
Earlier, Hasaranga celebrated his 24th birthday in style as he picked four wickets to restrict India to 81/8 Opting to bat first, India got off to bad start as the visitors lost skipper Shikhar Dhawan in the first over. A mix-up in the middle resulted in Devdutt Padikkal getting run out in the fifth over.
Sanju Samson’s wicket in the same over only dented India’s chances of having a decent total. Ruturaj Gaikwad (14), who was playing well, too departed in the fifth over.
India lost three wickets in the fifth over and Nitish Rana’s dismissal in the ninth over left the visitors reeling at 36/5 with no recognised batsman at the crease.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav then stitched a 19-run stand for the sixth wicket however, Hasaranga sent back the pacer in the 15th over.
After 15 overs, India score was 55/6 with Kuldeep and Rahul Chahar at the crease.
India kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were eight down for 63 before Kuldeep and Sakariya stitched an 18-run stand as visitors posted 81 in the allotted 20 overs.
Brief Scores: India 81/8 (Kuldeep Yadav 23*, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 16; Wanindu Hasaranga 4-9); Sri Lanka 82/3 (Dhananjaya de Silva 23*, Minod Bhanuka 18; Rahul Chahar 3-15)
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