Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], February 15 (ANI): As the Indian Arrows stunned Kolkata giants Mohammedan Sporting to register a memorable victory in the I-League on Sunday, Arrows goalkeeper Ahaan Prakash scripted a piece of history by becoming the youngest recipient of the Hero of the Match award in the league, at the age of 16 years, five months and 25 days.
The custodian put in an excellent display to earn a clean sheet and after the match, he dedicated the feat to his family and teammates.
“It’s a very proud moment for me to be the youngest-ever Hero of the Match in the I-League. It is a combined effort from the whole team and all of us played very well today to earn this result. I dedicate it to my parents and my teammates,” I-League’s official website quoted Prakash as saying.
It was a stunning display by the Arrows at the iconic Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan as they took the lead in the 26th minute through defender Gurpanthjeet Singh and maintained their advantage throughout the match. Throughout the second half, the Black Panthers piled on the pressure and registered as many as 22 shots in the match but could not breach the Arrows defence, as the AIFF’s developmental side created many chances of their own on the break and ended the game with 46 per cent possession.
“Mohammedan Sporting are a very big team in Indian football. But we were confident going into the match and knew that we had to keep fighting till the end and give our 100 per cent on the field. We stuck to our game plan and did really well to get the three points. We had played some good matches before as well but hadn’t got the results we wanted but we were positive ahead of this challenge,” Ahaan stated.
The 16-year-old, who hails from Bengaluru, has been a part of the AIFF Academy set-up for over one-and-a-half years after he was scouted following his displays at the sub-junior nationals.
“I started playing football at the age of nine in my apartment complex and it was at U-13 level that I played for the first time in formal competition at school level. I played in the Sub Junior League as well, then moved on to SAI (Sports Authority of India) and was there for a year. I played for my state at the sub-junior nationals in Hyderabad, from where I was eventually selected,” he said.
“I actually started out as a defender in school but my coach then switched me to goalkeeper. He has been a great influence on me and started my journey in football. My parents have also helped and supported me at all times and they encourage me to do whatever I want to,” he added.
Now in his debut season in the I-League, it has been a ‘massive change’ and step-up for Ahaan and his Arrows teammates, who have grown in confidence with every game they have played.
“The experience of playing in the I-League has been a massive change – from youth football to training at the senior level and playing against experienced pros and foreigners. It has surely benefitted me a lot and I am learning a lot. I always had the dream to play in the I-League but never thought it would come true at such a young age,” he said.
“In the first couple of games, we were giving away balls easily and could have done better. We weren’t confident enough but as everyone has gained experience over the past few matches, we have the confidence to play against the big teams and keep the ball in play. The guidance from our coaches has helped a lot.
“This win against Mohammedan certainly builds confidence and tells us that we can play against such big teams. We are looking to put our best foot forward in the coming games in the league,” Ahaan stated. (ANI)
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Felt ecstatic after beating reigning Olympic champion: Deepak Kumar
New Delhi [India], March 5 (ANI): Boxer Deepak Kumar returned home with a silver medal after reaching the finals of the Strandja Memorial Tournament, but the pugilist isn’t too excited. The boxer says that no one remembers a silver medal and now he has set his sights on winning a gold medal going into the future.
The biggest win for Deepak came in the semi-finals of the tournament as he stunned the reigning Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov in the men’s 52 kg bout.
In an interaction with ANI, Deepak spoke about his experience of playing in the tournament and how he would like to qualify for the Olympics – in the future — even though he finds himself in the same weight category as that of Amit Panghal.
“The experience of playing in the Strandja Memorial Tournament was very good. The semi-final bout I had with the Olympic champion was nice, I felt ecstatic after winning that particular bout. The gold medal is a gold medal, everyone remembers who won the gold medal. People forget who played nicely in the tournament. I will always feel that I missed on winning a gold medal,” Deepak said.
“In the final, I did not have a good first round, so the decision of the final bout got affected by that,” he added.
Deepak, who hails from Hisar, Haryana, started boxing at the age of just 11. However, in 2009, due to financial constraints, he was forced to leave boxing as he couldn’t afford the expenses of diet and training. His coach Rajesh Sheoran then helped him to return to the ring. Deepak had won a gold medal in the 2018 Senior National Boxing Championships and he also bagged a silver at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championships. He had also returned with a gold medal from the 2019 Makran Cup.
“I started boxing in 2008 then I left the sport in 2009 for some seven-eight months. In 2010, I played for Haryana in State Championships where I was able to win a medal. In 2012, I became a state champion. After that, the federation got banned and the competitions were not taking place. At that moment, I got a bit scared as to what might happen. I started thinking as to whether I will achieve something in boxing,” said the 23-year-old.
“My chachaji (uncle) had knowledge about the game and he has a friend circle who knew about this sport. My chachaji was not able to make it big in boxing as he did not get the desired guidance, so he made me aware of the sport and he told me about the benefits of boxing. He gave me the passion for this sport,” he added.
When asked about his weight category and how he sees himself being in the same category as Panghal, Deepak replied: “Amit Panghal has already qualified for Olympics. I will do my best going into the future, if I do well, I will get a chance going ahead.”
“Strandja Tournament was taking place after one year and hence, I was always determined to do well. I now want to work on my shortcomings and I am determined to do well in the tournaments which I will be participating in going forward,” he added. (ANI)
Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Visitors on top after dismissing Pujara, Kohli, Rahane (Lunch)
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 5 (ANI): England bowlers led the fightback for the visitors in the opening session of the second day of the fourth Test between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Friday. If getting Cheteshwar Pujara (17) and Virat Kohli (0) early in the day wasnt enough, the Englishmen finished the session with the important wicket of Ajinkya Rahane (27).
At the Lunch break, India’s score read 80/4 – still trailing the visitors by 125 runs with six wickets in the bag. While Rohit Sharma (32) has looked solid at one end, he will need the likes of Rishabh Pant and the lower middle-order to stand ground with him in the second session. For the visitors, James Anderson picked Rahane on the brink of the lunch to hand England the upper hand, but the prized scalp of Kohli was picked by Ben Stokes.
Going into the morning session with the score on 24/1 and with Rohit and Pujara at the crease, the hosts would have liked to get closer to the visitors’ total without losing a wicket. But it wasnt to be as Jack Leach struck first to send back Pujara, leg before. While it was a close call, the umpire was spot on as the ball hit the pad first.
In walked Kohli and with the scoring rate on the slower side, one expected the captain to bring on the attack with Rohit. But Stokes had other ideas as he got the India skipper to produce a nothing shot to a ball that got big on him and ended up giving keeper Foakes an easy catch. With the score on 41/3, the Englishmen realised they had walked right back into the game.
But Rahane and Rohit defied the visitors for a while as they tried to build the innings and stitched a 39-run partnership. But just when it looked like the duo would take India to lunch and start afresh after the break, Anderson sent back Rahane.
Brief Scores: England 205; India 80/4 (Rohit Sharma 32*; James Anderson 2-7) (ANI)
Ferguson eyeing Test cricket return with T20I series against Bangladesh
Wellington [New Zealand], March 5 (ANI): New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson is eyeing Test cricket return with the upcoming T20I series against Bangladesh.
New Zealand head coach Gary Stead is hopeful that Ferguson will be available for the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh.
Ferguson has been out of action since December last year, when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture following the T20I series against West Indies. During the series against Windies, Ferguson had claimed his career-best figures of 5 for 21.
“I’ve always talked very highly of Test cricket and want to play it. Certainly, my closest focus is to get back on the park and play, it’s been enjoyable watching the Test boys and stoked they made the final which is going to be super exciting,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Ferguson as saying.
“Think the best thing for me and the team is to get back playing a decent amount of cricket, get that loading behind me, then I certainly want to be in the mix for selection for the UK trip but that’s a couple of months down the line so we’ll cross that bridge later on,” he added.
Before returning to the field against Bangladesh, the speedster believes he has some boxes to tick.
“That’s the aim, it’s a bit of a process so can’t make the call right now. Certainly, there’s some boxes to tick, but definitely, the way things have been tracking it’s been going really well that’s certainly the goal,” Ferguson said.
Despite the amount of T20 on the calendar this season, which now includes a stint in the T20 Blast with Yorkshire, and concludes with the World Cup in India during October, Ferguson is not making it is sole focus although acknowledges Test cricket presents different challenges.
“Certainly to play in the Test Championship would be very special as well…but at the same time have to focus on what’s coming up and make sure I’m ready to go,” he said. “The Test demands are much higher than T20 in terms of loading, so from that point of view it takes some time to build up. Give your body a chance to adjust to playing a lot of cricket then you can make a decision,” he said.
New Zealand is currently involved in a five-match T20I series against Australia which ends on March 7. After that, the Black Caps will first play three ODIs against Bangladesh from March 20 to 26 and then three T20Is from March 28 to April 1. (ANI)
Barcelona defender Pique out with right knee injury, likely to miss PSG clash
Barcelona [Spain], March 5 (ANI): Barcelona defender Gerard Pique will spend another stint on the sidelines as he sustained “a sprain in the internal lateral ligament of his right knee”.
World Cup winner suffered the blow in the team’s 3-0 win over Sevilla in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
Pique scored a goal in the second-half stoppage time before Martin Braithwaite netted the final goal of the match to hand comprehensive victory.
Barca said in a statement on their official website: “The medical assessment and tests performed this morning have shown that first-team player Gerard Pique has a sprain in the internal lateral ligament of his right knee. He is therefore unavailable and the evolution of the injury will determine when he returns.”
“The Barca centre-back was a starter and played the 120 minutes in the superb win against Sevilla, as well as being one of the great protagonists of the night, leading the heroic comeback with a goal in added time that allowed Barca to force extra-time. As for this season, Pique has played a total of 15 games in which he has scored two goals,” it added.
Injury struggles have become familiar for the 34-year-old this season, with knee complaints plaguing his 2020-21 campaign.
Pique was forced onto the sidelines in November 2020 with a knee problem and missed the best part of three months. He sat out 24 games as Ronald Koeman’s side struggled to find the consistency required to compete for major honours.
Barcelona will next take on Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 of the Champions League on March 11. (ANI)
NZC allows crowds for T20I double-header in Wellington
Wellington [New Zealand], March 5 (ANI): New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Friday announced that spectators will be allowed to attend the weekend’s T20I double-header at Sky Stadium after the relaxation in Wellington’s Alert Level status.
The fifth and final T20I between New Zealand and Australia and the final T20I of the three-match series between New Zealand women (White Ferns) and England women will also be played in Wellington on Sunday.
Earlier, both the fixtures were shifted from the Bay Oval to Wellington and were set to be played behind closed doors.
The second T20I between New Zealand women and England women is being played at Sky Stadium while the fourth T20I between New Zealand men and Australia men will start later in the day.
Kane Williamson-led side currently leads the series 2-1, having won the first two games by 53 and 4 runs respectively.
However, the Aaron Finch-led side was able to keep the series alive as they registered a convincing 64-run win in the third T20I played on Wednesday at the Westpac Stadium here.
On Thursday, New Zealand spinner Mitchell Santner was tested negative for COVID-19 and will be available for selection for the fourth T20I against Australia.
Santner was ruled out of the third T20I after he woke up with a head-cold. He was put under self-isolation as a precautionary measure while awaiting the results of a COVID test. Adam Milne was added as his cover for the third T20I.
“Team update| BLACKCAPS all-rounder Mitchell Santner has returned a negative COVID test this afternoon. He is feeling better and available for selection for T20 four against Australia at Sky Stadium on Friday night,” New Zealand Cricket informed in a tweet on Thursday.
Santner had returned with the figures of 4/31 in the second T20I played at the University Oval in Dunedin. (ANI)
Would like to be known as someone who created a legacy: Bavuma after taking captaincy role
Johannesburg [South Africa], March 5 (ANI): After becoming South Africa’s limited-overs skipper, batsman Temba Bavuma wants to show his potential at the helm and create a legacy for himself.
On Thursday, Bavuma was named as the country’s first black African cricket captain while Dean Elgar was given the captaincy of Test cricket.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) said Bavuma will lead the Proteas in the 2021 and 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cups as well as the ICC Men’s World Cup in 2023. Elgar will take over the reins into the next cycle of the ICC World Test Championship.
“I understand the deeply rooted significance of it all. In being the first black African (cricket) captain in our country – you don’t have to look too far in our history and our political situation in our country – so I can completely understand why people in our country would celebrate it for what it is,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Bavuma as saying.
“I’d be lying if I said it does not make me think of where everything started for me, and how I’ve been able to go through a journey and get to this point. But combined with being known as the first black African captain, I’d also like to be known as someone who led the team very well and created a legacy for himself,” he added.
However, the captaincy role is a surprise to Bavuma but it is a no-brainer for him.
“I was offered the position as captain and it came to me as a surprise, but it was a no-brainer. I don’t think a lot of people would turn down this type of honour and privilege,” he said.
“Obviously there’s anxiety about not knowing what to expect but a lot of comfort comes from the fact that I know my players and the people who have entrusted me with the decision, I draw a lot of confidence from that because those are people of stature,” the skipper added. (ANI)
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