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I want to win Ranji for Kerala: Sreesanth

Cricketer S. Sreesanth talks about his life in lockdown, future of cricket post-Covid, and how he is gearing up for comeback in September this year.

Vineet Malhotra

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Sreesanth
Sreesanth

Q. How have you been in this lockdown?

A. It has been really difficult but everybody knows that in Kerala, Chief Minister P. Vijayan and Health Minister Shailaja madam are doing a great job. We are doing better, but since more people are now coming on trains, it’s slightly tough. We are very confident that we would win this battle. At a personal level, we are at home. We need to follow the guidelines given to us. My wife and kids keep me busy. My wife has learnt piano and I have started to cook more. I paint the walls of my house. I am lucky that I have decent indoor facilities so I am practising more and will make a comeback in September. I am looking forward to it.

Q. Kerala has done well in dealing with Covid-19. What according to you are the reasons for the state doing well against the pandemic?

A. I think restrictions started pretty early here and when it comes to education, we are little ahead. Even during the floods, we came together and helped each other. Thanks to this unity, whenever we are in trouble, everyone helps each other. Most of the doctors and nurses are from Kerala. A lot of Malyalee nurses are around the globe. Even when it comes to the Indian Army, a lot of Malyalee people are there. These are the reasons why Kerala is doing well.

Q. How are you keeping yourself fit as an athlete?

A. It was very difficult in the beginning because the epidemic is so bad. Everyone was thinking about their families and friends, but there are a lot of good people too who are bringing positivity. I have joined classes with Tim who’s a conditioning coach and has worked with Michael Jordan and other legends. That’s really helping me. I am doing meditation. I am sleeping for 8 hours, and spend 2 hours on meals, etc. The remaining 14 hours I am spending wisely. I am learning new skills. I am batting, fielding and bowling. I have lost 7.5 kg of weight. I will make a comeback in September and I have to be fit. I would love to win Ranji Trophy for Kerala and inspire the youngsters. It’s not all about sports but also ‘Fit India’.

Q. In one of your matches, you waved your bat and danced against Andre Nel in Johannesburg. Tell us what was going in your mind?

A. I copied Dada Sourav Ganguly’s style where he removed and waved his shirt at Lords in England after winning the Natwest Trophy. When this happened, Andre Nel was bowling really fast. I got out on zero in the first innings. I had no clue what I was doing. When he started chatting, he spoke bad about India and made personal remarks. He said that Indians don’t have a heart. I reminded him of Nelson Mandela and told how Mahatma Gandhi — an Indian — inspired Mandela so that South Africans can have what they are having today. I told him to never take “panga” with Indians.

Q. Who has been your favourite captain?

A. Rahul Dravid, for sure. My first cap was given to me by Sachin Tendulkar. In one of my matches in South Africa, Dravid came to me and said that you have to win this match for the country. That motivated me. Rahul bhai used to tell me that if I wished to play the World Cup, this shouldn’t be my routine.

Q. You have been a part of Bigg Boss, Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, etc. Ever thought of joining Bollywood or Tollywood?

A. I did think of it. Thanks to Pooja Bhatt. I did a film called Cabaret which is still on Zee5. I have done Aksar 2 with actress Zareen Khan. I have also done a Kannada film and working on a Marathi film too. I have done four movies. Till September, I am leaving everything for cricket. I am playing for people who stood for me during my bad time and this is great opportunity for me.

Q. ICC and Cricket Australia want to reopen cricket. What changes do you envisage in cricket?

A. Lots of discussions and guidelines are happening. There will be lots of difficulties when it comes to the crowd. I’d like to see things being done the way English Cricket Board is doing: getting to the ground in a proper English way — well dressed, with hygiene and social distancing. I am sure a lot of changes will happen and cricketers are smart enough to follow those rules.

Q. What do you have to say to fans?

A. I’ll request fans to stay at home and stay safe. Call your friends and show gratitude. Thank people for being a part of your life. Write your goals down. You should have a clear goal. If I can achieve such success coming from a small village in Kerala, anybody can!

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Happy with performance at Asian Championships: Mirabai Chanu

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Mirabai Chanu said she is happy with her performance in the Asian Weighlifting Championships after she set a new world record in Clean and Jerk as she lifted 119 kg in the competition to cross the old mark of 118 kg.

She also created a new national record as she lifted a total of 205 kg (86 kg snatch + 119 kg Clean and Jerk) which also won her the bronze medal at the showpiece event.

The wrestler said in a tweet, “I am happy with my performance at the Asian Championship 2021. Thank you everyone for your love and support. I will continue to work hard and improve myself.”

Earlier in the day, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju congratulated her for the achievement. “In her first international competition in more than a year, @mirabai_chanu makes a new national record of 205 kgs at the Asian Championships and won bronze medal. Her perfect clean and jerk lift of 119 kg is a new world record! Target Olympic Podium Mirabai!” he tweeted.

The weightlifter replied to the minister and thanked him for providing the best facilities and support. “Thank you so much @KirenRijiju for providing us best facilities and all kind of support,” Mirabai replied on Rijiju’s tweet.

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I MISS WINNING TROPHIES, UNITED NEED TO WIN SOMETHING: POGBA

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Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has said that he misses winning trophies and it is about time that his side manages to win something.

United has not won a major title since they prevailed in the 2017 Europa League final under Jose Mourinho. Current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is yet to see any kind of substantial success under his reign.

“Personally, I miss it a lot and feel like I miss something. We have to win something. I just want to win something; I don’t like to play and not win. I’m a bad loser, I will always be a bad loser, so every time I play, I want to win. Personally, we want it very bad. I think we are getting closer and closer; there is improvement I would say,” Pogba told Sky Sports, as reported by Goal.com.

“When I say improvement, this club has such big goals and objectives we want to achieve and that is to win and to have a trophy to hold. That is what we want and that will be the big step,” he added.

Further talking about United’s chances to win a title, Pogba said: “I’m happy, we’re there, we’re close. We’re still in the Europa League, we still have something to play for.” He added, “We have the league still, as long as Manchester City don’t have the trophy we’re going to keep working and playing. We still have a chance to win something this year so, why not.”

United is currently at the second place in the Premier League standings, 11 points behind table-toppers Manchester City.

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KINGS AND ROYALS ALL SET FOR BIG CLASH

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Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are gearing up to meet at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday. Both sides, with one win and a defeat each would like to win this match to get momentum early in the IPL 2021.

The start of the season did not bore fruit for either of the sides as the Delhi Capitals mauled the Super Kings before the latter gave quite a similar treatment to the Punjab Kings.

CSK defeated the Punjab Kings comfortably, riding on Deepak Chahar’s brilliant bowling, reducing K.L. Rahul’s side to 26/5 by the seventh over. They kept a tight leash over the Punjab batsmen, with Jadeja and Moeen Ali running through their overs in no time.

As for RR, which after losing dramatically against Punjab by one run in the first match, came back strongly to beat Delhi Capitals, thanks to a terrific bowling performance. Their three left-arm pacers troubled the DC batsmen, with Unadkat finishing with excellent figures of 3/15 in his four overs. They survived a Rishabh Pant onslaught to restrict the Capitals to 147/8.

CSK, led by old warhorse Dhoni, has seen resurgence of its fortunes by the presence of Suresh Raina, who has given the much-needed batting balance to the side in the middle. Also, the presence of the likes of Jadeja has given the side an edge, with Jadeja showing his skills as batsman, bowler as well as a fielder par excellence. Also, the bowling of Deepak Chahar has been a highlight this season.

While a conscious effort has been visible in the approach of Raina, Faf du Plessis, and Moeen Ali across CSK’s two games thus far, the same has been missing in Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was the highlight of the last edition of the IPL.

As for the Royals, they started their campaign with a dramatic last-ball defeat against Punjab Kings, despite skipper Sanju Samson’s destructive 63-ball 119. The next match, the side lost Ben Stokes to an injury but David Miller rose to the occasion to guide the team to victory. The presence of Jos Buttler also gives the side an advantage. A lot for the Royals, however, will be on the skipper, Sanju Samson, who has been in blistering form so far.CHENNAI SUPER KINGS

STRENGTH

• Deepak Chahar took 4 wickets against Kings

• Sam Curran and Moeen Ali proved to be good all-rounders

• Ravindra Jadeja has been quite economical as a bowler

WEAKNESSES

• Flop show of Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad

• Shardul Thakur has failed to restrict runs

• Dhoni should come up in the batting orderRAJASTHAN ROYALS

STRENGTH

• Fast bowling of Jaidev Unadkat, Mustafizur Rahman & Chetan Sakaria

• Sanju Samson’s power hitting

• Chris Morris and David Millers batting

WEAKNESSES

• Flop show by openers

• Spin bowling is a main concern

• Rahul Tewatia is yet to fire

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Indian boxers continue their ruthless run

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Extending splendid run, Indian boxers put up a phenomenal performance on yet another glorious day at the AIBA Youth Men’s and Women’s World Boxing Championships after as many as country’s five pugilists made their way into the quarter-finals on the fifth day of the competition in Kielce, Poland.

Asian Junior Champion Biswamitra Chongtham led the Indian pugilists’ onslaught in the men’s section as he outclassed Khosroshahi Parvizi 5-0 to enter the 49 kg quarter-finals. Manipuri pugilist Biswamitra, who was impressive in the trials where he defeated Khelo India gold medallist, looked in complete control against the Irish boxer as he carried on with the momentum before finishing the bout in his favour. Besides Biswamitra, Ankit Narwal also secured a place in the last-8 alongside Uttar Pradesh boxer Vishal Gupta (91kg) and Sachin (56kg), who hails from Bhiwani, Haryana.

Asian Youth silver medallist Haryana’s Ankit defeated Polish boxer Oliwier Zamojski with a 4-1 split decision. However, Vishal and Sachin comfortably registered identical 5-0 victories against Croatia’s Borna Loncaric and Jose Valdez of Columbia respectively.

Meanwhile, in the women’s section, Gitika (48kg), who came into the match beating European Champion Diana Ermakova, continued her impressive form as she notched up a flawless 5-0 triumph against Kazakhstani boxer Arailym Marat to progress into the last-8 stage.

However, Nisha Gurjar (64kg) was the lone Indian who could not progress on Day 5 as she suffered a 1-4 loss against Latvia’s Beatrise Rozentale in the pre-quarters.

The sixth day of the prestigious event, where India has fielded a strong 20-member team, will witness nine Indians in action. Appearing in the quarter-finals, five women—Poonam (57kg), Alfiya Pathan (+81kg), Khushi (81kg), Gitika (48kg), and Vinka (60kg)—will look to make their way into the semi-finals and assure country medals. While Akash Gorkha (60kg), Manish (75kg), Sumit (69kg) and Vinit (81kg) will be seen playing in the men’s pre-quarterfinals stage. WITH ANI INPUTS

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Maxwell, de Villiers hand RCB 38-run win over KKR

KKR’s Andre Russell did make a quickfire 31, but in the end, RCB managed to hold on to record their third victory in a row this season.

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Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers’ knocks of 78 and 76 runs, respectively, followed by a spirited bowling performance, helped Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) defeat Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 38 runs on Sunday here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Andre Russell did make a quickfire 31, but in the end, RCB managed to hold on to record their third victory in a row this season. This is the first time that RCB has managed to win their first three games in an IPL season.

Chasing 205, KKR got off to a flier as Shubman Gill scored 21 runs off just nine balls, but in trying to look for another big shot, Gill lost his wicket to Kyle Jamieson in the second over of the innings. Rahul Tripathi then joined Nitish Rana in the middle and the duo put on 34 runs for the second wicket, but in looking for a maximum, Tripathi (25) ended up losing his wicket to Shubman Gill in the sixth over, reducing KKR to 57/2.

In the very next over, Yuzvendra Chahal managed to send Rana (18) back to the pavilion and KKR was left in a spot of bother at 66/3. KKR fell further into a slump as Dinesh Karthik (2) failed to impress with the bat and ended up losing his wicket to Chahal. Eoin Morgan played a 29-run knock from 23 balls, but his innings was cut short by Harshal Patel with KKR still needing 91 more runs for the win.

Andre Russell came out to bat next and he even hit Yuzvendra Chahal for 19 runs in the 17th over and as a result, KKR needed 59 runs for the win from the final three overs. Shakib Al Hasan (26) and Pat Cummins (6) lost their wickets to Jamieson in the 18th over and it all boiled down to Russell. In the end, the task proved too much and KKR ended up stumbling to a 38-run loss

Earlier, RCB might have been 9/2 in the second over, but Maxwell and de Villiers’ knocks of 78 and 76 ensured that the side posts a total of 204/4 in the allotted twenty overs. Along with Maxwell and de Villiers, Devdutt Padikkal and Kyle Jamieson also played knocks of 25 and 11 respectively. For KKR, Varun Chakravarthy returned with two wickets.

Opting to bat first, RCB got off to a bad start as the side lost wickets of Virat Kohli (5) and Rajat Patidar (1) in the second over of the innings. Varun Chakravarthy provided the first two breakthroughs to KKR. Maxwell then joined Padikkal in the crease and the duo revived the innings for RCB.

Padikkal played a second fiddle while Maxwell took on the mantle of being the aggressor. The right-handed Maxwell hammered KKR bowlers all around the park and he was looking set to take RCB’s score beyond the 180-run mark. Prasidh Krishna finally provided the much-needed breakthrough to KKR as he dismissed Padikkal (25) in the 12th over, ending the 86-run third-wicket partnership and reducing RCB to 95/3.

De Villiers then joined Maxwell in the middle and the duo further accelerated the innings, not giving KKR bowlers any sort of respite. Maxwell (78) finally departed in the 17th over as Pat Cummins bounced him out. However, the Proteas batsman carried on with the momentum and in the end, RCB posted a total of more than the 200-run mark.

BRIEF SCORES: RCB 204/4 (Glenn Maxwell 78, Ab de Villiers 76*, Varun Chakravarthy 2-39) vs KKR 166/8 (Andre Russell 31, Eoin Morgan 29, Kyle Jamieson 3-41).

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Happy to inform that I have tested Covid-19 negative: Harmanpreet

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India women’s T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur on Friday announced that she has recovered from coronavirus and urged everyone to take all precautions amid the pandemic.

Harmanpreet had tested positive for Covid-19 last month and was under home quarantine. Having tested negative, the cricketer has made an appeal to everyone to follow all necessary protocols to fight the pandemic. “Happy to inform you all that I have tested -ve & I’m feeling better. My only message to y’all is to take care & be extra careful. The virus is real & it’s dangerous. Follow all the protocols set up by the authorities. Wishing strength to the ones who are in the middle of the fight,” she tweeted.

Harmanpreet was last seen on the cricket pitch in the five-match ODI series against South Africa, in which India lost 4-1. In the five-match series, the right-handed batter went on to score 160 runs with her best score of 54 coming in the fourth ODI of the five-match series in Lucknow.

In the fifth and final ODI, Harmanpreet had suffered a hip-flexor injury and as a result, she did not play the three-match T20Is against South Africa. India lost the three-match T20I series against South Africa 2-1 and the hosts were able to win just the final game of the three-match T20I series. In the absence of Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana had led the Indian women’s team in the T20I series.

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