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ISL 7: Baxter, Coyle want their teams to turn draws into wins

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Panaji (Goa) [India], January 31 (ANI): With the Indian Super League (ISL) season well into the business end, most teams are firming up plans to secure a top-four spot. However, for Odisha FC coach Stuart Baxter, this looks like a distant dream.
His side is rooted to the bottom of the table with just eight points, 13 behind the fourth-placed team. And as they prepare to take on Jamshedpur FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Monday, the path, rather than the destination, is what matters for Baxter.
“We are not talking about the play-offs till about two to three weeks. We are talking about getting to the next game. And hopefully, we will get a victory — that is what we have been trying to do since the season started,” Baxter said.
The Kalinga Warriors have won just one game and have lost seven, managing just one clean sheet in this edition. But they did record two draws in the last two encounters against better teams. Baxter urged his side to step up and turn the things around.
“At the moment, we need to start (turning) those good performances that ended in a draw to good performances that result in a win,” he said.
The last time the two teams clashed, they split points in a four-goal thriller. Baxter anticipates another tough fixture on Monday.
“Owen’s (Coyle) team is usually very competitive. I have seen them playing games where they do not give up and they have got some good players. So I do not expect anything less than a difficult game,” Baxter continued.
Jamshedpur finds themselves in a similar situation. While Odisha has dropped points in their last four games, it has been five matches since JFC registered a win. JFC has also failed to score in three out of their last four games. With the top four looking ever so distant, coach Owen Coyle will be looking to turn his team’s goalscoring form around.
“The way for us is to try and win those games which can make a difference, from one point to three points. We showed last year that if you can win game after game, then that carries (teams) into those positions (top four). We have six massive games ahead of us but we will take each game at a time starting with Odisha. We want to try and win that game,” he said.
“Odisha has some very good players. When you look at the forward players, they are capable of scoring goals. It will be an exciting game as both teams would want to win,” Coyle said. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Ashwin second-fastest to 400 Test wickets

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 25 (ANI): India spin spearhead Ravichandran Ashwin became the second fastest to 400 wickets on Thursday — after Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan — when he dismissed Jofra Archer in the second innings of the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Ashwin overtook New Zealand legend Richard Hadlee and South Africa’s Dale Steyn. The pacers had taken 80 Tests while Ashwin scalped his 400th wicket in only his 77th match. Muralitharan had reached the milestone in 72 games. Ashwin is the fourth Indian bowler in the 400 Test wickets club after Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
The England innings also saw Ashwin dismiss Ben Stokes for the 11th time, the highest number of times he has been dismissed by a single bowler. In the 18th over, Stokes was given leg-before off Ashwin’s ball to see the Englishman walk back to the pavilion as the off-spinner’s 398th wicket.
On Wednesday, Ashwin went past Zaheer Khan’s tally of 597 international wickets to climb to the fourth spot on the list of Indian bowlers with the most wickets in international cricket. Ashwin had dismissed Ollie Pope in the 28th over to overtake Zaheer’s tally at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
The spinner now has 600 wickets across formats and is only behind former skipper Anil Kumble (953), spinner Harbhajan Singh (707), and Kapil Dev (687).
In the ongoing Test, England scored 112 runs in their first innings while India managed to score 145 runs. Virat Kohli might have lost the toss in the third Test, but his bowlers ensured that the hosts dominated the game. (ANI)

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IOC to begin ‘targeted dialogue’ with AOC over their potential to host Olympic Games 2032 in Brisbane

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Lausanne [Switzerland], February 25 (ANI): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) on Wednesday decided to follow the recommendation of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad to enter into a targeted dialogue for the Olympic Games 2032.
IOC, in a release, said it will start more “detailed discussions” with the Brisbane 2032 Committee and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) about their potential to host the Games of the XXXV Olympiad.
“Under the IOC’s new, more targeted and flexible approach to future host elections, the two Future Host Commissions (Summer and Winter) are permanently open to exploratory, non-committal continuous dialogue with interested parties and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) on their ambitions to host future Games. The Future Host Commission gave the opportunity of a presentation and a discussion to the interested parties in the continuous dialogue, which resulted in meetings on 3, 8 and 9 February 2021,” IOC said.
IOC said the Future Host Commission will now start a targeted dialogue with the Brisbane 2032 Committee and the AOC, and will report back to the IOC EB on the outcome of these discussions in due course. “If all the requirements are met, the IOC EB can propose the election of the future host of the Games of XXXV Olympiad to the IOC Session. If the discussions are not successfully concluded, Brisbane 2032 will rejoin the continuous dialogue,” it added.
“At the same time, the Future Host Commission will also maintain the continuous dialogue with the other interested parties, in order to further develop their excellent and promising projects, be it for the Olympic Games 2032 if the Targeted Dialogue with Brisbane 2032 and the AOC is not successful, or for the Olympic Games 2036 and other future Olympic events,” the statement further read.
The venue masterplan, which has already been discussed with International Sports Federations and the International Paralympic Committee; the high level of experience in hosting major international sports events; Australia’s sporting success throughout modern Olympic history, are some of the reasons why Brisbane 2032 was proposed for the targeted dialogue.
“In evaluating Brisbane 2032’s proposal, the IOC also took into consideration detailed information from independent third-party sources, including the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and numerous UN agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),” IOC said.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “According to the clear report of the Future Host Commission, the Brisbane 2032 project is fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020 and the new recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5. It proposes sustainable Games in line with the region’s long-term strategy and using primarily existing and temporary venues. The commitment of Australia and Oceania to Olympic sports has grown remarkably since the fantastic Olympic Games Sydney 2000. This is why we see such strong public support. We decided to seize an opportunity to take to the next stage our discussions about returning 32 years later. In this way, we are also acknowledging the strength of the Australian team and other athletes from across the continent of Oceania at the Olympic Games over the past decades.”
Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad Kristin Kloster Aasen added: “We are delighted the IOC Executive Board agreed with the Commission’s recommendation to invite Brisbane 2032 to targeted dialogue. The IOC EB and the Commission noted the excellent progress that it has made, the strength of its proposition and the strategic opportunities it affords to the Olympic Movement. It meets all the criteria to be invited to move into the next stage.” (ANI)

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Blue Tigers express delight over friendly matches against Oman and UAE

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): With the Indian team all set to return to international football in March, members of the Blue Tigers expressed their delight over the two matches being finalised in Dubai against Oman on March 25, and UAE on March 29 respectively.
“It’s a brilliant piece of news not just for us players but for Indian football overall that we will be playing again at the international arena,” All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) official website quoted goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as saying.
“With international sports having shut down owing to the pandemic situation, I am aware as to how difficult it is to arrange matches under the current scenario. I need to thank the All India Football Federation and the coaching staff for arranging this,” he continued. “Both the matches are against very tough oppositions whom we would love to play against, and test ourselves.”
Central defender Sandesh Jhingan dubbed the forthcoming two matches as “massive.”
“It’s a great piece of news which the entire nation was waiting for. It’s massive for the fans, and for us players as well as we haven’t played an international match in the last one and half years. Thanks to the AIFF for arranging this,” Jhingan stressed.
“It’s important for us to get back into the system of Igor Stimac, start training and improving. There are crucial games coming up in June which would be followed by the Qualifiers of the Asian Cup China 2023. The camp in March is just extra days to train and improve together as a team. I am extremely happy,” he averred.
As part of the preparation for the two matches against Oman and UAE in March, the national team will assemble in a preparatory camp in Dubai from March 15 onwards. (ANI)

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Hockey India National Championships 2021 to kick-start in March

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): The much-awaited Hockey India National Championships 2021 will kick-start in March this year after the coronavirus pandemic affected the national calendar last year with a majority of the key national-level events being cancelled.
This year, however, the domestic competitions will resume in a new, restructured format which aims to maximise athlete participation and develop the game in states, union territories, institutional units and academies.
Kicking off the season this year will be the 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Women National Championship 2021 which will be held in Simdega, Jharkhand from March 10 to 18. The 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Men National Championship 2021 will be held in Narwana district in Haryana from March 17 to 25. This will be the first time both Simdega, Jharkhand and Narwana, Haryana are hosting a Hockey India National Championship.
The inaugural edition of the 1st Hockey India Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 will be held from March 17 to 26 and 1st Hockey India Sub-Junior Women Academy National Championship 2021 from March 17 to 24 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
This will be followed by the 11th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship at Simdega, Jharkhand between April 3 and 12.
The National Championships will be resuming after a span of one year. In 2020, the 10th Hockey India Senior Men and Senior Women Championship 2020 (A Division) as well as the 10th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2020 (B Division) were held in January and February 2020 while the remaining National Championships were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are happy to resume the domestic calendar after the pandemic halted all the sporting events last year. The season will begin in an all-new avatar with the restructuring of events for sub-junior, junior and senior national championships for both men and women as well as Hockey India registered State Member Units, Public Sector Units/ Departmental Units and Academy Member Units respectively,” Hockey India’s president Gyanendro Ningombam said in a statement.
He further stated that members of the Hockey India Selection Committee will be closely observing the talent at these championships and wished all the athletes the best in their preparations. “While hundreds of talented players missed out on showcasing their performance last year due to the pandemic, I am hopeful they have will be able to excel at the forthcoming events and perform their best. Hockey India selectors will be closely observing these nationals in order to induct new talent into the national programs,” he said.
Hockey India, in its release, said that it “instructs State Members to appoint Hygiene Officers at each venue of each National Championship.” While following Hockey India’s SOPs is a must for all participating teams, tournament officials as well as host states, Hockey India has laid emphasis on ensuring guidelines by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as well as respective state governments too should be followed by everyone part of the forthcoming National Championships.
Ningombam said: “There is strict emphasis on host states, participating teams and officials involved in the national championships to follow all the protocols and SOPs laid out not just by Hockey India but also the MHA as well as respective state governments.”
“The protocols are different in each state and it is important these SOPs are followed to the T to ensure players’ safety. In order to ensure all these parameters are kept in check and all protocols are met at each of the National Championships, we have instructed all state members to appoint a Hygiene Officer at each of the National Championships to assist with implementation of the SOP’s.” (ANI)

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Guardiola seeks improvement despite Man City’s win over Borussia Monchengladbach

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Budapest [Hungary], February 25 (ANI): Despite a win over Borussia Monchengladbach, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is seeking improvement in his side and said that the team has to be more clinical.
Manchester City secured a 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 match here on Thursday.
“We had incredible focus for 90 minutes but we were not good enough today in the opposition’s box. We played really well, but we have to be more clinical in this competition. You have to be better, but in general no complaints because we know how good they are and how physical they are,” the club’s official website quoted Guardiola as saying.
During the match, Bernardo Silva opened the scoring in the 29th minute before Gabriel Jesus doubled Manchester City’s lead in the 65th minute.
Guardiola said Champions League is different from Premier League and they have to be clinical in the competition.
“In this competition, we don’t have much margin for error — if you have a 1 on 1 or a 3 v 2 situation, you have to at least finish the action or make the keeper make a save and we didn’t do it. In that position, we have to finish better. They have to know that — in the Premier League we can drop points but in this competition, you have to be clinical,” he said.
“If there is something I want us to improve it is that. In general, it was a good game. It was the first step and there are many weeks until the second leg. We are thinking now about recovery before West Ham,” Guardiola added.
Manchester City will now take on West Ham in the Premier League on February 27. Guardiola’s men will face Borussia Monchengladbach in the second leg on March 17. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 3rd Test: Warne surprised to see hosts’ lack of intent

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 25 (ANI): Former Australia spinner Shane Warne on Thursday said he was “very surprised” that India was not “super aggressive” in the first session of the second day of the third Test against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
India witnessed a dismal start on day two as Joe Root and Jack Leach completely dominated the hosts’ batsmen. Only Rohit Sharma (66) managed to find a bit of rhythm but other than that, it was a poor show from the Indian team with the bat.
Resuming the day on 99/3, India lost wickets at regular intervals and their innings was brought to an end in the 54th over. India managed just 145 runs in their first innings as Root scalped five wickets while Leach picked four to help England fight back.
Analysing the game, Warne posted a series of tweets and said England — bundled out for 112 runs on the opening day — were right back in the game.
“Just turned the tv on to see the score between #IndiaVEngland ! Wow, a bits happened in this 1st session & Eng are right back in this – big time. Favourites from here ? What could India chase in the last innings ? 150 tops even though they played 4 seamers. Awesome @root66,” Warne tweeted.
“Ps England need to be ruthless right now as 40/50 run lead is enormous ! No easy singles for Ashwin anywhere, make him@play a big shot,” Warne wrote in another tweet.
Warne then wrote: “Very surprised that India weren’t super aggressive this morning. Seemed like the mindset and attitude was to be patient and just bat – lacked intent ! 50+ run lead India become favourites. Worth Archer steaming in for an over or two I reckon. Nose and toes !!!!!!!!”
Commenting on the pitch, former England player Michael Vaughan wrote: “Let’s be honest this is not a 5 day Test pitch !! #INDvENG.” In another tweet, he said England are now favourites to the game.
Trailing India by 33 runs, England will begin their second innings with an aim to capitalise on India’s poor show with the bat. (ANI)

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