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INDIAN SUPER LEAGUE: POWER-INCUBATOR OF YOUNG TALENT

Raman Bhanot

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On 12th October 2014, when the inaugural edition of the Hero Indian Super League got underway, it was a dawn of a new chapter in Indian football.

Into its seventh successive edition now, the tournament has lived up to its billing of being the top tier league in the country. It has also fulfilled the promise of providing a platform for young, upcoming Indian talent to showcase their skills and play alongside and against quality foreign players regularly.

The number of teams has increased this season to 11, with the inclusion of two stalwart clubs of Indian football – East Bengal & Mohun Bagan. While the ‘Red and Gold Brigade’ now compete as SC EAST BENGAL, the ‘Mariners’ joined hands with ATK to form a new entity ATK Mohun Bagan FC, to compete for top honors in ISL.

Coming back to the point of young Indian talent getting a platform to showcase their ability – this season has seen a plethora of promising youngsters make an impact on the big stage.

The most impressive for me has been the 19-year-old Akash Mishra from Balrampur. A pacy left-back with an attacking mindset, Akash has shown amazing skill and guile, while making overlapping runs into the attacking third and supporting the wingers while playing for Hyderabad FC. His defensive skills will also improve with time.

Another young talent in the same team is Ashis Rai. Like Akash, the 21-year-old Ashis has also played for the India U-20 side and embodies the same attacking spirit and skill while playing as a Right Back. Although a right-footed player, he can shoot with both feet.

I am sure that the Indian team coach Igor Stimac will have a happy headache in terms of choosing the left and right backs for the National team, as these youngsters including Hendry Antony and Mohd Rakip will give stiff competition to the more experienced players Mandar Rao Desai, Rahul Bheke, Pritam Kotal, Prabir Das.

In Deepak Tangri, Chennaiyin FC have found a hard-tackling defensive midfielder, who can impose his presence in his half. Blessed with a strong built and good height, Tangri also provides an aerial threat against the opponents during corners and other set pieces.

Though only 22 years old, Anirudh Thapa is an experienced creative midfielder who has begun to orchestrate the game’s pace and flow. Into his fifth season in ISL with Chennaiyin FC, the young Indian midfielder has grown in confidence and stature and has shown over the last few seasons that he can not only create chances and be very accurate with his free-kicks but can also score goals himself.

The writer is a Sports Broadcaster who has worked on assignments for leading sports networks in India & Abroad. He is a commentator for Hero ISL in Hindi on Star Sports

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DANIELLE COLLINS STORMS INTO FINAL AFTER DEFEATING IGA SWIATEK

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American tennis star Danielle Collins on Thursday stormed into the finals of the ongoing Australia Open.

The No. 27 seed defeated Poland’s Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 in the semi-final match that lasted for 78 minutes. This was also Swiatek’s first semi-final, where she made her place after defeating Kaia Kanepi to win the second-longest women’s singles match of the fortnight so far, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3.

American tennis star Danielle Collins.

The 3 hour, 1-minute victory is the longest match of Swiatek’s young career at a Grand Slam to date, bettering a 2 hour, 42-minute 6-7(4), 7-5, 7-5 defeat to another Estonian, Anett Kontaveit, in the third round in Australia two years ago.

With this win in the semi-final, Collins has entered her maiden Grand Slam finals. She will now be going against Ashleigh Barty. Barty defeated American tennis player Madison Keys 6-1 6-3 in the semi-final match that lasted for 62 minutes on Thursday. This was Barty’s first semi-final at the Australian Open since 2015 and Barty didn’t give any chance to the American tennis player to have control over the game.

With this win, Barty went on a ten-match winning streak as she outplayed Keys in the semi-final on Thursday. She is bidding to become the first Australian woman to lift the trophy in Melbourne since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

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PM MODI CONDOLES DEMISE OF HOCKEY LEGEND CHARANJIT SINGH

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed condolences over the demise of hockey legend Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee Charanjit Singh who passed away in Una district, Himachal Pradesh due to age-related complications.

Hockey legend Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee Charanjit Singh.

The two-time Olympian was 92. He was part of India’s glorious days in hockey. “Saddened by the passing away of noted Hockey player, Shri Charanjit Singh. He played a key role in the successes of the Indian Hockey Team, most notably in the Rome and Tokyo Olympics in the 1960’s. Condolences to his family and friends. Om Shanti,” PM Modi tweeted. A charismatic halfback, Charanjit Singh had led the Indian team to a historic Gold Medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, beating Pakistan in the final, and was also part of the Indian team that won silver in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. Born on 20 November 1929, Charanjit Singh was an alumnus of Col. Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun, and Punjab University. After his illustrious career in international hockey, he worked as Director of the Physical Education department at Himachal Pradesh University, in Shimla.

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AFC Women’s Asian Cup: Vietnam, Myanmar settle for draw

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Vietnam and Myanmar played to a 2-2 draw in their final AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, Group C tie at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday. Vietnam came from behind twice to salvage a point and finish third but will have to wait till the Group B matches conclude later on Thursday to know their knockout stage fate, with the two best third-placed teams to join the respective group winners and runners-up in the quarter-finals. Myanmar, needing a win to finish above their Southeast Asian rivals, started the more aggressive of the two sides and had a first look on goal in the second minute after Tun Win Theingi’s threaded pass found Thaw Thaw, whose shot failed to trouble Vietnam custodian Tran Thi Kim Thanh.

Vietnam came close to finding the net a minute later when Nguyen Thi My Anh tried to catch Myanmar goalkeeper Nwe May Zin off her line but her shot from distance was denied by the crossbar. That set the stage for a well balanced game as both teams created opportunities with Nwe denying Vietnam’s Huynh Nhu in the 13th, while Tun’s header from inside the box was cleared away two minutes later. However, it was Vietnam who conceded the first goal when Nguyen Thi Thanh Nha brought down an advancing Noe Khin Myat inside the box, with Tun making no mistake in converting the penalty. Vietnam fought back and after several missed opportunities, they finally levelled the score at the stroke of half-time, with Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung beating Nwe off a corner set-piece.

Mai Duc Chung’s charges were wasteful in front of goal after the restart with Huynh Nhu and Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung both missing chances. Myanmar, however, edged ahead again in spectacular fashion in the 49th minute when Tun set up Tun Khin Marlar, who found space before smashing her effort into the back of the net.

Vietnam were given a lifeline when Myanmar’s Saw Thaw Thaw conceded a penalty in the 62nd minute after she brought down Nguyen Anh Thi My inside the six-yard-box. Huynh Nhu made no mistake from the penalty spot, sending Nwe the wrong way to level the tie for a second time as both teams had to settle for a share of the points.

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LEFT ARM PACER SHOULD HAVE BEEN SELECTED

Raj Kumar Sharma

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Team India has been selected for the ODI and T20 series against West Indies, in which some surprising things have come to the fore. This team does not have a single left-arm fast bowler while Chetan Sakaria and Jaydev Unadkat have done well recently. If you had gone by experience, Unadkat could have been given a chance. On the other hand Chetan Sakaria would have been a good choice if you wanted to keep the young man. Anyway, he was included in both T20 and ODI formats in Sri Lanka tour and got wicket in both the matches but his performance seems to have been forgotten.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been given a lifeline. It has been decided to replace him from ODIs and included in T20Is squad. Obviously, he has been selected considering his experience in the absence of Bumrah and Shami. Anyway, this year’s World Cup will require a senior player. Not only this, Shahrukh Khan came out as a big match winner in domestic cricket. He has the ability to win matches when needed, hitting even at a strike rate of 300.

There is a lot of discussion these days that Virat Kohli is being asked to lead the RCB. Someone says that he has also been given an offer in this regard. I don’t think he is in the mood to captain RCB again. Although I haven’t spoken to him about this but I don’t think he will captain again. This time preference has been given to wrist spinners in Team India. Ravi Bishnoi has been selected in both the formats while Kuldeep Yadav has returned to ODI cricket. Other wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is already present in the team. I think Chahal can be more effective as a leg-spinner at the moment, and you can expect a lot from him in this year’s T20 World Cup as well. Ravi Bishnoi is also in the team. This period can prove to be a good learning experience for him. I think during the World Cup, the form of the players will matter more at that time. Anyway, the bowlers know more where the mistake is happening. Where is his ball falling? By making your own assessment, performance can be improved.

If Ravichandran Ashwin is not fit then it is understandable but if he is not selected then he will definitely be missed because his performance has been excellent in Indian conditions.

The author is a coach of Virat Kohli and a Dronacharya Awardee.

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Rohit Sharma returns to lead in ODIs, T20Is vs WI

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Rohit Sharma

India white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma returned while spinner Ravi Bishnoi received his maiden call up as Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Wednesday picked an 18-member squad for the upcoming ODI and T20I series against the West Indies.

Team India are set to play three ODIs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad from February 6 followed by the T20I series at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata from February 16. “The All-India Senior Selection Committee has picked an 18-member squad for the upcoming Paytm ODI and T20I series against the West Indies. Team India are set to play three ODIs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad from 6th February followed by the T20I series at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata from 16th February,” BCCI said in a statement.

Also, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami have been rested from the series while KL Rahul will be available from the second ODI onwards. Deepak Hooda has also been named in India’s ODI squad for the West Indies series. Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja is undergoing his final stage of recovery post his knee injury and will not be available for the ODIs and T20Is and Axar Patel will be available for the T20Is.

Washington Sundar, who missed the South Africa ODIs after contracting Covid-19, is part of both the squads for the home series.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been dropped from the ODI squad after an underwhelming performance in the 3-match in South Africa earlier this month. Senior spinner R Ashwin is reportedly unavailable for the West Indies series due to injury concerns.

India ODI squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan

India T20I squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (Vice-captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Surya Kumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Venkatesh Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar, Mohd. Siraj, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Harshal Patel.

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SOME AUSTRALIA PLAYERS CONCERNED ABOUT TOURING PAKISTAN

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Ahead of the upcoming multi-format tour of Pakistan, it has emerged that some Australian players are concerned about visiting the country.

As per a report in Sydney Morning Herald, the players are increasingly worrying about terrorist attacks in Pakistan. This is the first time in 24 years that Australia would be touring Pakistan. Earlier, Cricket Australia had said that the safety and wellbeing of their players remains the top-most priority.

“Cricket Australia (CA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board continue to work closely in planning the tour and are in regular contact with our respective governments,” the statement said.

“We continue to have regular and open discussions with our players and support staff on the extensive security, biosecurity and operational arrangements for the tour,” it added.

Earlier, national selector George Bailey had said that he believed security plans were “very, very robust and very, very thorough” for the tour of Pakistan after multiple briefings for what would be the first Australian tour of the country since Mark Taylor’s men visited in 1998.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey told reporters, as per cricket.com.au.

The Test squad will largely pick itself following the successful 4-0 drubbing of England in this summer’s Ashes series, with the emergence of Scott Boland as a reliable workhorse allowing selectors to rest Jhye Richardson. The historic Test series between Pakistan and Australia is scheduled to begin on March 3 in Karachi.

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