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Indian archers Atanu Das, Deepika Kumari win gold

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Indian archers Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari won the recurve men’s and women’s individual gold medals to cap an incredible first stage of the 2021 Archery World Cup in Guatemala City on Sunday. While Deepika won her third World Cup gold medal, Atanu secured the first international gold of his career in the tournament. Atanu defeated Spain’s Daniel Castro in the latter’s international circuit debut.

The Indian archer shot sets of 28, 29, and a closing excellent 30 points in a four-set victory. “It feels amazing. It’s like dreams are coming true. I’ve worked so hard for so many years, and now this is paying off,” the World Archery website quoted Atanu as saying. “It’s beautiful. It’s a big boost for me. The Olympics are this year, and I’m working in the right way,” he added. Both Indian archers have now automatically qualified for this season’s Archery World Cup Final.

The Indian women’s team defeated Mexico in the final to bag the gold medal for the country. Indian trio shot 27 to edge out their Mexican rivals by one point and claim their first World Cup team gold after seven years.

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SUSPENSION OF IPL DUE TO COVID IS REMINDER OF GAME’S VULNERABILITY: IAN CHAPPELL

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Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell has said that the suspension of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season due to rising Covid-19 cases is a reminder of the game’s vulnerability.

IPL 2021 season was suspended indefinitely due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases. A number of players tested positive within the bio-bubble and as a result, the tournament had to be postponed. “The suspension of the 2021 IPL tournament because of surging Covid infections and deaths among the public, and a number of participants testing positive, was a reminder of the game’s vulnerability,” Chappell wrote in his column for ESPNcricinfo.

“In the past, tours have been aborted and matches abandoned for a variety of reasons. Many of these involved back stories, some of which were tragic and others amusing,” he added.

Chappell also said that the suspension of IPL 2021 could set a precedent and it may see the T20 World Cup being postponed or moved. India is set to host the T20 World Cup in October-November this year.

“In the current disastrous climate, the suspension of the IPL could also produce a precedent. It may lead to the World T20 event, programmed for India later in the year, either being postponed or moved,” said Chappell.

Chappell also highlighted some instances where the game of cricket came to a halt due to various reasons. “In 1969, England toured a bitterly divided Pakistan where the series was haunted by protests from the beginning. When a riot brought the third Test in Karachi to a premature halt, the England team flew home immediately,” said Chappell.

“In the match, Colin “Ollie” Milburn had completed his second Test century after being recalled from Australia, where he had enjoyed a prolific Sheffield Shield season with Western Australia. In one innings he smoked a scintillating double-century against Queensland, where he scored a believe-it-or-not 180 runs in a single session. Milburn’s excellent Shield form and subsequent Test century looked to have cemented his spot in the England team, but sadly he never represented his country again. On returning home he was involved in a serious car accident which resulted in him losing sight in one eye. It was a sad end to the career of one of cricket’s great entertainers and characters,” he added.

The former Australia skipper also talked about how the fourth Test between England and Pakistan came to a premature end in 2006 after Pakistan walked off the field after being accused of ball-tampering.

“At the same ground in 2006 the fourth Test between England and Pakistan came to a premature end with much recrimination. Pakistan forfeited the match after refusing to take the field when the team was accused of ball-tampering and penalised five runs. Despite cricket employing more sheriffs than you’d find in the old American Wild West, the Pakistan captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, could not be coaxed into taking his team back onto the field,” said Chappell.

“After a lengthy delay the match was awarded to England on a forfeit.In a disgraceful attempt at compromise, the ICC subsequently declared the match a draw in 2008. However, integrity finally won out in 2009 when the decision was reversed at the behest of the MCC, who quite rightly claimed that to not uphold the laws set a dangerous precedent,” he added.

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‘Nothing happened’: Warner, Slater deny reports of fight in Maldives bar

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MALE: Star batsman David Warner and former Australia opener turned commentator Michael Slater have clearly denied that the duo were involved in an altercation inside a Maldives bar.

SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) skipper Warner and Slater, who was commentating in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 along with the Australian contingent are staying in the Maldives before they all leave for Australia. The rumour of physical exchange between the duo in the Maldives was first reported by the Daily Telegraph as cited by foxsports.com.au.

The former Australian opener is reported to have sent a text to senior journalist Phil Rothfield quashing the rumour.

“There is absolutely nothing to the rumour mill Buzz. Davie and I are great mates and absolutely zero chance of (having) a fight,” foxsports.com.au quoted Slater as saying in a text message.

SRH skipper and Australian batsman Warner too denied the rumour saying: “There has been no drama.”

“I don’t know where you get these things from. Unless you were here and have got concrete evidence you can’t write anything. Nothing happened,” Warner added.

Earlier this week, Slater had lashed out at the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison amid the travel ban as coronavirus continues to rage in India.

Morrison had announced a ban on passenger flights from India till May 15 and he also said that there would be no special privileges given to the Australian players in India.

Slater, who was commentating in the ongoing IPL, accused the Australian PM of having “blood on his hands” and termed the decision of travel ban as a “disgrace”.

The Australian players, coaches, match officials, and commentators have been safely transported from India to the Maldives.

The Australians will remain in the Maldives until the conclusion of the travel pause pertaining to flights from India to Australia. As previously stated, CA and the ACA are not seeking an exemption from the Australian Government.

The safety of every individual involved in the IPL was one of the major reasons for the BCCI and the IPL Governing Council to unanimously decide on the postponement of the league on Tuesday.

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India captains Manpreet and Rani ‘focused’ on Tokyo mission despite hurdles

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With just 75 days remaining for the Tokyo Olympic Games, the mood in the National Camp in SAI Centre, Bengaluru where both Indian men and women’s core probables are housed continues to be optimistic as the players are going about their preparations with utmost zeal.

Though the Indian team captains expressed their disappointment over not being able to travel for tours in the coming weeks due to the travel restrictions, they stated that the players continue to remain focused on their mission to succeed at the Olympics. “When the FIH Pro League Games matches against Germany and Spain too were postponed, we were extremely disappointed because those matches would have certainly helped in our preparations. But we understand these are really unprecedented times, and there are travel restrictions in place.”

“In these trying times, we would like to express our solidarity towards those who have lost their lives and also salute the frontline workers and covid warriors who are working round the clock to save lives,” said India men’s skipper Manpreet Singh in a Hockey India release.

Manpreet further emphasized the team’s focus remains undeterred and every player is giving his 100 per cent in this mission to win a medal.

“We strongly believe we have the best chance to win a medal at the Olympics and this belief is keeping everyone motivated and optimistic. Our training now has been planned in such a manner that we peak at the right time and also we are clocking long hours in the sun to get our bodies acclimatized to the hot conditions in Tokyo,” said Manpreet.

Women’s skipper Rani, on the other hand, expressed relief that all players who had tested positive recently will now resume training this week.

“We are relieved that all those players who had tested positive are all doing fine and have geared up to resume training. We are taking all precautions on campus too so that we are stay healthy and injury-free in the lead up to the Games,” said Rani.

“With travel restrictions in place, we understand we will need to remain in SAI Centre, Bengaluru and train. This is perhaps the same situation for some of the other countries too,” she further said.

“Despite these setbacks, we will continue to pursue our goal of doing well in Tokyo. The next 75 days is crucial, and we are upbeat as a group,” Rani signed off.

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INDIA HAS VERY GOOD CHANCE TO WIN TEST SERIES IN ENGLAND, SAYS RAHUL DRAVID

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Former India skipper Rahul Dravid on Sunday said that the Virat Kohli-led side has a very good chance of winning the Test series in England.

India and England are slated to lock horns in five-match Test series in UK this year. The series would commence in August, and India is also slated to square off against New Zealand in the finals of World Test Championship (WTC) in June. “I really do think India have a very good chance this time. There’s no question about England’s bowling. Whatever bowling attack England put on the park, especially their seam-bowling attack, is going to be fantastic. They have a lot of players to pick and choose from and that’s going to be terrific,” Dravid said in a webinar organised by Live Aid India, a trust to help those affected by Covid-19, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.

“But if you look at their top six or top seven, you really think of one great batsman, a world-class batsman who is Joe Root. Obviously, Ben Stokes is another one, who is a good allrounder, but for some reason Ravichandran Ashwin seems to do well against him. And that should be an interesting contest. I know he’s done well against Stokes in India, but it’ll still be an interesting subplot to the series,” he added.

Dravid also said that Kohli’s side would be well prepared for the Tests against England and he also opined that a lot of players in the squad have the much-needed self-belief.

“But I just think India will be well-prepared, have the confidence from Australia, there’s lot of belief in the squad. A couple of players have been to England a few times, there’s a lot of experience in the batting order this time around, so this is probably our best chance, maybe say 3-2 to India. I think India will play really well in England this time. It’s a great opportunity we’ve got. After the WTC final, they’re going to be in England for a whole month before the Test series starts. I don’t think any team has had that kind of time to prepare for a Test series as India will have this time, so that surely should be a great advantage,” said Dravid.

Talking about India’s squad for the WTC final and five-match Test series against England, Dravid said: “It does seem balanced. It’s a 20-member squad. The only other one who could have merited selection would’ve been Kuldeep Yadav, but he’s fallen away over the last little bit. Also, with the kind of recent performances from Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar, they’re clear about the kind of balance they want in the squad.”

“With both Ashwin and Jadeja adding value with the bat and having like-for-like replacements in Axar and Washy, they’re clear about the direction they want to take. It lengthens their batting and all four fingerspinners here allows them to do that. The make-up of the squad tells me they know their best XI even before they leave from here.”

When asked whether both Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja could find a place in the playing XI, Dravid said: “Yeah, why not? I mean, India has had success with that kind of line-up and especially with the way Ashwin and Jadeja have been batting at the moment, it gives them the best all-round balance. Once Hardik Pandya couldn’t bowl, India didn’t have anyone for that seam-bowling allrounder’s slot. If it’s a good summer and if it gets dry and pitches turn in England as well, India have the option of playing two really good spinners.”

“If India wins a couple of good tosses, India will have two really good spinners. It can turn in UK. They’ll be wary of starting with pitches too damp and too green because of India’s pace-bowling attack. So they’ll have to prepare good wickets, and good wickets in England, from my experience of playing there, the sun comes out and if you don’t water the wicket for five days, days four and five, it can turn,” he added.

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INDIA’S HOCKEY FRATERNITY BEREAVED, LOSES TWO LEGENDS ON THE SAME DAY

Moscow Olympic stars Maharaj Krishan Kaushik and Ravinder Pal Singh succumb to Covid-19.

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On Saturday, India’s hockey fraternity was struck with grief as Moscow Olympic stars Maharaj Krishan Kaushik, aka M.K Kaushik, and Ravinder Pal Singh succumbed to the harrowing Covid-19.

M.K. Kaushik’s international career commenced in 1975 when he represented India in festival matches in Afghanistan, and later played a lot of international tournaments. The rightwinger was very agile and a skillful striker with fine control, and could make dangerous runs on the right extreme. Kaushik represented India in the Quaid-e-Azam International Tournament in 1976 in Lahore, followed by the Pre-Olympics in Moscow (1979).

He was a member of the Indian Hockey team that went to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, India scored 43 goals in six matches, a record for the most number of goals in an Olympics to date. Kaushik was also part of the team which won silver at the 1982 Asia Cup. He was conferred the Arjuna award in 1988, 18 years after he played for the gold medal-winning Indian team in Moscow.

Kaushik`s brilliant exhibit in the field of hockey also earned him Maharashtra Government’s Chhatrapati Shivaji award and was also awarded Dronacharya Award in 2002.

Having pre-matured retired as Deputy Director of Sports, Haryana, Kaushik would also take the helm to take control over Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, and later at the National Hockey Academy in New Delhi. He also played a key role in shaping the Indian women’s hockey team, whom he guided to a bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games (2006), apart from gold-winning performances at the Afro Asian Games (2003) and the Asia Cup (2004).

Kaushik was the chief coach for Men`s team which, after a gap of 32 years, won a gold medal in the 13th Asian Games in Bangkok in 1998.

Former Indian hockey star Ravindra Pal Singh, a member of the Moscow Olympics winning team, passed away at Lucknow hospital on the same day as his stalwart teammates passed away. Ravindra Pal Singh was a two-times Olympian. Singh, known for his speed and interceptions, was a product of the Lucknow Sports hostel, who went on later to play the 1982 World Cup and the Asian Cup in Karachi.

Employed with State Bank of India, Ravindra Pal Singh had taken pre-mature retirement. He remained a bachelor for his life.

(Writer is a former Associate Professor, DU, and consultant Limca Book of Records. Views expressed are personal)

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KKR SKIPPER EOIN MORGAN EXITS INDIA, HEADS TO MALDIVES WITH HUSSEY, CUMMINS AND CUTTING

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Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Eoin Morgan has headed to Maldives as the foreign players who were part of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) have started exiting India after the tournament was postponed on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, KKR wrote: “#KKR Overseas Players & Support Staff Travel Update: Goodbye to the Skipper, Mentor, Carnage Cummins and our ace all-rounder as they safely exit the Indian border into Maldives. Wishing you legends safe transit home & see you soon! @DavidHussey29 #IPL2021 #StaySafe.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Danny Reuben — head of team communication for England cricket team – had confirmed that 8 players were back in the UK and the remaining three players were set to leave India in the next 48 hours.

“I can confirm that 8 of the 11 England players in India managed to get on a flight to Heathrow last night and have landed this morning. They will now quarantine in government-approved hotels. The remaining three — Jordan, Malan, Morgan — should leave India within the next 48 hours,” he had told India.

Jonny Bairstow (SunRisers Hyderabad), Jos Buttler (Rajasthan Royals), Sam Curran (Chennai Super Kings), Tom Curran (Delhi Capitals), Sam Billings (Delhi Capitals), Chris Woakes (Delhi Capitals), Moeen Ali (Chennai Super Kings) and Jason Roy (SunRisers Hyderabad) were the eight players who arrived in the UK on Wednesday, reported Sky Sports.

The Australian contingent is also currently in the Maldives as they look to follow the protocols of the Australian government to get a clearance to return home.

While postponing the league on Tuesday, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah said the Indian board didn’t wish to compromise on the safety of those involved in the league. “The BCCI and the IPL GC have unanimously decided to postpone the 2021 season till further notice. We don’t wish to compromise the safety of the players, the people involved, the employees, the groundsmen, the match officials, every single person involved,” Jay Shah had said.

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