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Ind vs Eng: WTC is like ‘World Cup’ for me, says Ishant

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 22 (ANI): India pacer Ishant Sharma on Monday said that the World Test Championship (WTC) is like a World Cup for him and he wants his side to play the finals scheduled for later this year.
The four-match series between India and England currently stands level at 1-1 and now both teams will lock horns in a pink-ball Test, beginning Wednesday at the Motera Stadium. India had achieved an emphatic 317-run win against England in the second Test of the ongoing four-match series. As a result, the series stands level at 1-1 and the Virat Kohli-led side has also reached the second spot in World Test Championship (WTC) standings.
The upcoming third Test against England will also be Ishant’s 100th in the longest format of the game. Earlier in the series, Ishant Sharma had become the third Indian pacer to take 300 wickets in Test cricket. Overall, he became the sixth Indian to do so.
“I would have loved to go to Australia to achieve the 100 Tests milestone. But, some things do not go as per plan. I couldn’t go to Australia, as soon as you move over certain things, life can become simpler. I have learnt that you cannot stay stuck regarding one thing in your career, it is important to move ahead. 131 Tests landmark of Kapil Dev is too far away, I am just focusing on the upcoming Test,” said Ishant during a virtual press conference on Monday.
“I am just focused on how to win this series and qualify for the finals of the WTC. I just play one format, WTC is like a World Cup for me, if we play the finals and then we go on to win, the feeling would be the same as winning the World Cup or the Champions Trophy,” he added.
When asked about the memories from his debut Test, Ishant replied: “When I made my debut, Ravi sir was the manager and he is our coach now. He only told me then that I would play. I was really nervous during my debut match. As a youngster, when you enter the dressing room and then you see the stars that you would play with. 100 Tests is just a number to me, I am taking it one game at a time, as long as the intent and aggression shows in my bowling, I would like to continue.”
India remains in contention to make the final of the ICC World Test Championship. The victory in Chennai on Tuesday has lifted India to the second position with 69.7 percentage points on the points table but they cannot afford to lose another match as they need to win 2-1 or 3-1 to qualify for the final of the maiden edition of the championship.
England, who led the table after winning the opening Test, has slipped to the fourth spot with 67.0 percentage points. They can still qualify, but for that, they must win both remaining matches of the series against India. (ANI)

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Surreal feeling to be playing tournaments again: Paddler Mudit

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 28 (ANI): Paddler Mudit Dani is all set to take on Finland’s Olah Benedek in the men’s singles qualifying round one as the international table tennis tournaments kick-off for the 2021 season with the World Table Tennis (WTT) Contender Doha later today.
While a long lay off away from the sport due to pandemic, the Doha tournament will be a different experience for all the players as they resume playing on the international circuit.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to restart over here. I feel the same butterflies in my stomach when I played my first ever senior tournament. Though this time I’m more prepared. And it’s a surreal feeling to be back here where I played the tournament [Qatar Open] just before the pandemic hit the world,” Mudit said in an official release.
Mudit revealed that during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, the 20-year-old worked on his technique and fitness.
“The break gave me an opportunity to work a lot on strength training, technique, body movements, and physical aspects. I also worked on my third-ball technique and service receive. That is something I look forward to seeing how it works out in the game,” Mudit, who clinched his first senior international media in US Open last year, said.
The third-ball attack is a trick players use to gain points while serving through utilising the return ball. Achanta Sharath Kamal, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee are among the 13 Indians who will be seen in action at the WTT Contender Doha. (ANI)

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Para-athlete Nishad Kumar tests positive for COVID-19

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New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Nishad Kumar, a gold medalist at the Fazza World Para Athletics Grand Prix that was held in Dubai, has tested positive for coronavirus, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said on Sunday.
“Nishad had arrived at the SAI Bengaluru campus on 23rd/24th February along with three fellow national campers (2 athletes and 1 support staff) and went for mandatory 7-day quarantine upon arrival. As per SAI SOP, an RT PCR test was done on the 6th day of quarantine, where he came COVID positive,” SAI said in a statement.
SAI said Nishad, a gold medalist in the men’s high jump T46/47 event that took place at the Fazza Grand Prix, has been moved to SS Sparsh Multi-speciality hospital as a precautionary measure.
“Quarantine of all other national campers in SAI, Bengaluru has been extended for 7 more days,” SAI said.
Also, Satyanarayana, Para-Athletics coach who tested positive for COVID-19 last week and was in the same hospital, has now been discharged and is under seven days quarantine. (ANI)

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Inspiring journey of Rakesh Kumar: From suicide attempts to winning gold medals and qualifying to Olympics

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By Nitin Srivastava
New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Indian para archer Rakesh Kumar from Jammu won a gold medal in the individual category in the Fazza World Ranking Tournament, held in Dubai.
He started his career in archery in 2017 and before that, he used to work in a roadside shop to meet his ends. Rakesh met with an accident in 2009 and became wheelchair-ridden. Talking about the hardships he faced, Rakesh revealed that he tried to commit suicide thrice.
However, the athlete is now past the hard times and shifted all his focus on the sport. Since starting his career in archery, Rakesh has won three gold medals in different competitions.
“I met with an accident in 2009 and from there, my life changed. It was very tough for me to live a normal life. I was on bed for at least six months but after three or four years, when I recovered I realised that now I can’t move on my legs. So, I had to do something and my family’s financial condition was also not good,” Rakesh told ANI.
“Somewhere in my mind, it was hurting me that my family can’t bear the cost of my treatment. So, three times I tried to commit suicide. But my family and friends saved me and later on in 2017, there was a local archery camp where I met my coach who convinced me to be an Archer,” he added.
Rakesh said since starting the sport, his life changed completely, and he never misses his training.
“From there on, I started archery which has changed my life completely. I never miss my training. Whenever I was in need of funds, my friends and coach helped me all the time. Since I have qualified for the Olympics, now I am in TOPS so there is no issue of funds. Now countrymen know about us, their feelings and sentiments are with us, and it is our duty to do justice with all,” he said. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: If fourth Test’s wicket is same, ICC should dock points, says Panesar

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New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Former England spinner Monty Panesar on Sunday said that the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad did not deserve the Test match as it ended inside two days and added that the International Cricket Council should dock India’s points if the pitch is similar in the fourth Test.
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 didn’t turn and skidded through from the spinners. But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. India batsman Rohit Sharma 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.
In an interaction with ANI, Panesar gave his take on the pitch used in the third Test between India and England and he also opined that ICC should dock points from India if a similar kind of track is produced in the fourth Test which will be played on the same ground.
“It was like playing club cricket on a Saturday in England. When we play club cricket, we will bowl a team out for under 100, and then it’s difficult to chase because it’s a turning pitch. I think being the biggest stadium in the world, Narendra Modi Stadium deserves longer Test matches because people want to see how good the wicket is, you look at the stadium, beautiful views, and what an amazing stadium India has produced. It does not deserve a two-day Test match that’s under 900 balls, you might just play on a park, if you are going to play this type of cricket,” Panesar told ANI.
When asked whether ICC should take note of the kind of wicket produced in the third Test, Panesar said: “I think if the next Test match is the same, then yes, the ICC should dock points. Everyone is delighted that cricket has now got the biggest stadium in the world now. At least the curator should have produced a good wicket, even if it’s a turning wicket, everyone was complaining about Chennai, this was even worse.”
“If you are going to produce a turning wicket, at least the match should go for 3-3.5 days. India will probably produce a turning pitch, at least it should last for three days. The Indian people are saying England batsmen cannot play spin very well, if you take that into account, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen have scored runs here, Cook has got a record as good as Matthew Hayden in India. Pietersen did score quickly, do England have that? No, they do not,” he added.
Further elaborating on his point, Panesar said: “I think ICC will pass on this one, because it was played with a pink ball. To be honest with you, I can believe what the players from both teams are saying. If you bowl it slowly, the pink ball goes quicker of the surface. Let’s see how the red ball reacts, let’s see if India wins again within 3-3.5 days, India’s argument is going to be we can produce spinning tracks but are England batsmen skill levels up to the levels it needs to be?
Panesar also eluded to the fact that England has a heavy reliance on skipper Joe Root and the hosts know that if they dismiss Root, then the England side would easily crumble.
“There is a huge reliance on Joe Root, why did England win in Sri Lanka because Root scored a double century, even in the Chennai Test, he scored a double hundred. If you look at England, if Root does not score a 50 or 100, then England crumbles. That is probably one of the issues and India knows that, they know if they get Root out, then England will crumble. But my question is if this Indian team is as good as it can be, then they should rub salt on England’s wounds and say we are going to produce a flat wicket, and we are still going to beat you on a flat pitch because that is how good we are,” said Panesar.
“At the end of the day, fans are the biggest holders in cricket, in India, as long as their team wins, they do not care, it can finish in 5 days or 2 days. I think Indian fans love seeing India win. India is playing in India so I think they are providing entertainment to their fans. It does not matter what the pitch is. India is the dominant force in world cricket, if India is producing such pitches, so some people are saying that India is the most powerful they also have the duty to look after the integrity of the world game,” the former England spinner added.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. England is now out of the WTC final contention after losing the third Test against India. (ANI)

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Good showing by Indian compound archers at 7th Fazza World Ranking Tournament

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Dubai [UAE], February 28 (ANI): Indian compound archers displayed a good showing at the 7th Fazza World Ranking Tournament at the Dubai Club for People of Determination grounds.
Shyam Sunder won the compound gold whereas the mixed team of Harminder Singh and Pooja won the compound gold in the mixed team. Rakesh defeated the 9th ranked archer of France in 1/8th matches ( 142/140), in the quarter-final defeated the number one ranked archer Atamanenk Serhiy from Ukraine( 142 vs 137).
In the semi-final, Rakesh defeated Agyan of Turkey, ranked no 5 by 143 vs 138. In the final, he defeated Shyam Sunder of India ranked 2 with a score of 143 vs 135.
In the Mixed Team Recurve event, India ( Harvinder & Pooja) defeated in the semi Final ranked 2 Ukraine team in a tiebreaker. In the finals, they defeated the ranked 1 Turkey team in a tiebreaker.
In the process, Shyam Sunder defeated former World No. 1 in Men’s Compound Open Marcel Pavlik from Slovakia 145 vs 143 whereas Rakesh defeated Aryan Erdogan of Turkey another former medallist 143 vs 138. Jyoti defeated Dzhioeva Anastasia of Russia.
As many as 70 archers from 11 nations are competing in this year’s Championships which will also mark the return of Para Archery action after a year. Dubai had hosted the last Para Archery Championships – the 6th Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament in February 2020 before the Coronavirus Pandemic struck the world suspending or cancelling all sporting events.
This year’s Championships, hosted under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, has the participation from Algeria, France, India, Iran, Kazakhstan Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, Ukraine and the hosts the United Arab Emirates.
Among the top names are Iranian London 2012 Paralympic medallist Zahra Nemati, former World No. 1 in Men’s Compound Open Marcel Pavlik from Slovakia besides several Tokyo 2020 qualifiers and former champions.
While Turkey who claimed seven medals last year are here with a maximum of 14 players, the hosts the United Arab Emirates fielded 7 players.
India won the highest number of medals in the para-international tournament so far.
Gold medal- Recurve Mixed Team( Harvinder and Pooja), Compound Indv( Rakesh Kumar)
Silver medal – Compound Mixed Team( Shyam Sunder and Jyoti Baliyan), Compound Indv M( Shyam Sunder) & Women( Jyoti Baliyan)
Arjun Munda, President of, AAI expressed happiness on their performance and said that he is hopeful of them winning medals at the Paralympics. He also said that there are chances of Jyoti Baliyan and Pooja qualifying at the Czech World Ranking Tournament. (ANI)

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ICC Rankings: Rohit attains career-best ranking, moves to eighth spot

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Dubai [UAE], February 28 (ANI): India opener Rohit Sharma has progressed six places to a career-best eighth position in the ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings after a fine performance in the low-scoring third Test against England in Ahmedabad that the home side won by 10 wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin have also made rapid strides while England’s Joe Root and Jack Leach too have moved up after shining with the ball in Ahmedabad.
Rohit top-scored in the first innings with 66 and remained unbeaten on 25 in the second to move ahead of compatriot Cheteshwar Pujara among others. His rating points aggregate is 742, 20 more than his best of 722 in October 2019 when he was ranked 10th.
Player of the match Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin have also made solid gains after helping carve out a crucial win that helped India remain in contention for the ICC World Test Championship final.
In bowling rankings, Ashwin has moved four spots and he now sits at the third spot in the Test rankings.
Left-arm spinner Patel’s 11-wicket match haul has helped him gain 30 slots to reach 38th position while off-spinner Ashwin’s seven wickets have lifted him four places to third position.
England spinner Jack Leach has entered the top 30 for the first time, moving up three places to 28th after taking four wickets. Captain Joe Root’s maiden five-wicket haul has lifted him 16 places to 72nd among bowlers while he is now joint-13th among all-rounders. Opener Zak Crawley’s knock of 53 in the first innings has helped him advance 15 places to 46th in what was the only notable gain for any of their batsmen.
Kane Williamson is currently ranked as the number one Test batsmen while Pat Cummins is the number one rated bowler in the rankings. Virat Kohli is at the fifth spot in batting rankings, while Cheteshwar Pujara has slipped to the tenth spot. (ANI)

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