It is one of the biggest victories for Manika and me: Sharath Kamal after securing Oly berth - The Daily Guardian
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It is one of the biggest victories for Manika and me: Sharath Kamal after securing Oly berth

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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 20 (ANI): After securing the Olympic berth in the mixed doubles category with Manika Batra, ace India paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal on Saturday termed the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament finals win against the World No 5 Korean pair of Sang-Su Lee and Jihee Jeon as “one of the biggest victories” of the career.
Star Indian pair of Kamal and Batra created history by confirming their maiden mixed doubles qualification for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as they stunned the Korean pair 4-2 in the finals of the Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Doha on Saturday.
With this development, India is certain to be represented in the men’s singles, women’s singles and mixed doubles categories in table tennis at the Olympics.
The most impressive part of this final encounter was the way the World No.18 pair of Sharath and Manika turned the game in their favour after starting the match 0-2 (11-8, 11-6) down against their higher-ranked Korean counterparts. The Indian pair won six points in a row in the third game and scripted a slow but steady comeback.
“I can tell you this is nothing short of phenomenal. It is one of the biggest victories for Manika and me. I have been sleepless since 5 am in the morning and was under a lot of pressure as this was our only shot to qualify for the Olympics,” said an elated Sharath from Doha.
The Indian veteran, who is also the reigning Asian Games bronze medalist in the mixed team event, further added, “We started off with two losses but this victory against such top-ranked players will surely give us the confidence and belief of being strong medal contenders in the Tokyo Games.”
While the mixed team event is being introduced at the Olympics for the first time, the Indian duo had a 1-1 head-to-head count before this encounter. Sharath and Manika had defeated Lee and Jeon during the 2018 Asian Games before this.
“We were unable to initially open up the game and our opponents were trying to finish the game as quickly as possible. However, once we got going and the game contrasts that both Manika and I have, can baffle anybody. We took advantage of the contrasting game style as the Koreans were unable to gauge our strategy and that is where we started creating chances for ourselves,” he said.
The World No 32 picked the fifth game as a turning point of the match which saw a neck-to-neck fight between both the pairs. The duo showed tremendous nerves to win the game 13-11 from a game point down.
“Manika was really fantastic and that helped me as I had the liberty to be a lot more creative and play attacking shots. And when I play like that, I am really dangerous. She is a great reader of the game and has played some exceptional table tennis in the last two days,” Sharath said.
In the sixth game, though the Koreans started off really well but the Indian pair picked seven consecutive points as they completed a phenomenal 4-2 (8-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8) comeback victory in 56 minutes.
Earlier on Thursday, all the four Indian paddlers Sharath, Manika, Gnanasekaran Sathiyan and Sutirtha Mukherjee earned themselves singles qualification for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics; all of whom are in the top-100 world rankings. (ANI)

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Morris’ cameo, Miller magic help RR beat DC

Chasing 148, the left-handed Miller came out to bat with the score at 17/3, and guided Rajasthan’s innings with a knock of 62 runs. With 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris stepped up to the occasion to take his side over the line.

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MUMBAI

Back against the ball, left-handed batsman David Miller produced a 62-run knock and it was followed by Chris Morris’ cameo of 36 runs off just 18 balls as Rajasthan Royals defeated Delhi Capitals by three wickets in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday here at the Wankhede Stadium.

Miller played a knock of 62 runs. The left-handed batter came out to bat with the score at 17/3, and he guided Rajasthan’s innings. And with 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris stepped up to the occasion to take his side over the line with two balls to spare. With this win, Rajasthan has registered their first victory in this edition of the IPL. Chasing 148, Rajasthan did not get off to an ideal start as the side lost its opening batters Manan Vohra (9) and Jos Buttler (2) in the third over of the innings. Chris Woakes provided the first two breakthroughs to Delhi. In the very next over, Kagiso Rabada dismissed Sanju Samson (4), leaving Rajasthan in a spot of bother at 17/3.

Shivam Dube and David Miller put on a 19-run stand for the fourth wicket, but Avesh Khan cut short the partnership in the eighth over as he dismissed the left-handed Dube (2). Avesh caused further trouble as he sent Riyan Parag (2) back to the pavilion, reducing Rajasthan to 42/5 in the 10th over. Rahul Tewatia then joined Miller in the middle and the partnership between these two batters saw Miller taking the mantle and accelerating the innings.

Miller and Tewatia put on 48 runs for the sixth wicket, but as soon as Rajasthan started getting on course for a win, Delhi stormed right back as Rabada sent Tewatia (19) back to the pavilion. Miller went on to register his half-century and he even dispatch Avesh for two consecutive sixes, but in looking for a third, he ended up losing his wicket in the 16th over after playing a knock of 62 runs.

With 27 needed off the final two overs, Morris first smashed Rabada for 15 runs in the penultimate over, and with 12 needed off the final over, Morris and Jaydev Unadkat managed to guide Rajasthan over the line by three wickets.

Earlier, an inspired bowling performance by Jaydev Unadkat, Chris Morris, and Mustafizur Rahman helped Rajasthan Royals restrict Delhi Capitals to 147/8. Delhi kept on losing wickets at regular intervals, and although skipper Rishabh Pant played a knock of 51, Delhi would have been hoping for a big partnership from skipper Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis, but this was not to be the case as Mustafizur Rahman had Stoinis (0) fooled by a slower delivery in the seventh over, and as a result, Delhi was reduced to 37/4.

Lalit Yadav and Rishabh Pant then got together at the crease and the duo revived the innings for Delhi by stitching a partnership of 51 runs for the fifth wicket, and this saw skipper Pant going past his 50-run mark. However, as soon as Delhi’s innings started to come on track, Pant (51) was sent back to the pavilion via a run-out. Soon after, Lalit Yadav (20) was dismissed by Chris Morris, reducing Delhi to 100/6 in the 15th over. In the final overs, Tom Curran (21), Ravichandran Ashwin (7), and Chris Woakes (15*) added some crucial runs to the total and as a result, Delhi Capitals posted a total of more than the 140-run mark.

Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 147/8 (Rishabh Pant 51, Tom Curran 21, Jaydev Unadkat 3-15); Rajasthan Royals 150/7 (David Miller 62, Chris Morris 36*, Avesh Khan 3-32).

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ZIMBABWE’S HEATH STREAK BANNED FOR EIGHT YEARS UNDER ICC ANTI-CORRUPTION CODE

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Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak on Wednesday was banned from all cricket for eight years after he accepted five charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Streak was charged as a participant under the Code by virtue of his status as the coach of Zimbabwe from 2016 to 2018 and as the coach of various domestic teams. The charges are as follows: 2.3.2 – disclosing inside information under both the ICC Code and various domestic Codes, in circumstances where he knew or should have known that such information may be used for betting purposes. In particular, he disclosed inside information in relation to matches in the 2018 Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, the Zimbabwe versus Afghanistan series in 2018, the IPL 2018, and the APL 2018.

2.3.3 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, persuading, encouraging, or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach the Code. In particular, he facilitated or attempted to facilitate the introduction of four different players, including a national captain, to someone he knew, or should have known, may have wanted to approach them to provide inside information for betting purposes.

Under the provisions of the Code, Streak chose to admit the charges and agreed with the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing. He will be free to resume his involvement in the game on March 28, 2029.

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BABAR AZAM ENDS KING KOHLI’S REIGN AT TOP OF ODI BATTING CHART

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam has ended Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, becoming only the fourth batsman from his country to attain the number one position in the latest update released on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old’s player of the match effort of an 82-ball 94 in the last match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League series against South Africa in Centurion has helped him gain 13 rating points to reach 865 points and he now leads the Indian captain by eight points. Babar, a star of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cups in 2010 and 2012 and who has been playing ODIs since 2015, had started the series against South Africa at 837 rating points but moved up to 858 (ahead of Kohli) after his score of 103 in the first match. He dropped to 852 by the time of the last weekly rankings update with a score of 32 in the second ODI.

By ending Kohli’s 1,258 day-supremacy, Babar has emulated compatriots Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003) as the number one ODI batsman. In Tests, Babar has attained a best of fifth position and is currently ranked sixth while in T20Is he is third but has been number one in the past.

Left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman is another Pakistan batsman to move up the ODI batting charts, gaining five slots to reach a career-best seventh position after his knock of 101 while left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi gained four places to a career-best 11th place and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz moved up 29 places to 96th, have progressed thanks to their three-wicket hauls in the match.

For South Africa, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo has gained 11 slots to reach 83rd position after notching a half-century while captain Temba Bavuma has progressed from 88th to 86th place.

In the ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings, Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 74 in the first match of their series against South Africa has helped him jump 24 places to 23rd position while Nawaz (up 36 places to 28), Hasan Ali (up 22 places to 62nd) and Usman Qadir (up 24 places to 68th) have moved up in the bowlers’ list.

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BABAR, RIZWAN SCRIPT PAK’S HIGHEST SUCCESSFUL T20I RUN CHASE

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CENTURION : Babar Azam’s stunning century and Mohammad Rizwan’s classy fifty helped Pakistan complete their highest successful T20I run-chase with 12 balls to spare against South Africa in the third game here on Wednesday.

Pakistan defeated South Africa by nine wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match T20I series. The visiting captain struck 122 off just 59 balls (15 fours, 4 sixes) and shared a record 197-run opening partnership with vice-captain Rizwan, who ended unbeaten on 73 off 47 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes), as the tourists chased down 204 with two overs to spare.

Earlier, half-centuries by the in-form Aiden Markram (63 off 31 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes) and Janneman Malan (55 off 40 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes) provided South Africa with a strong start that put them on course for well beyond 200, before they tailed off slightly at the end.

And Pakistan then made merry at a venue they have not lost at so far on their tour, securing a key win that meant they now cannot lose the series with just one match to come on Friday.

The Asian side won the toss and opted to field first, but that looked a wrong call as Markram and Malan both flew out of the blocks.

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Rajasthan eye to revive their form against DC

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While South African pace bowling duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje will return to fuel Delhi Capitals’ (DC) bowling attack their opponents for Thursday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match, Rajasthan Royals (RR), are struggling to field their top overseas players.

Jofra Archer’s chances of recovering from his shoulder injury and joining RR in the league phase this season is highly unlikely and on Tuesday, ace all-rounder Ben Stokes was ruled out for the season with a broken finger.

Stokes will stay with the team to provide support from the outside but will not be able to play, leaving a gap in the RR playing XI.

The Jaipur franchise put up a stiff fight in their first match against Punjab Kings with Sanju Samson’s century taking them to within four runs of Punjab Kings’ 221-run total.

RR may field either Liam Livingstone or David Miller in place of Stokes in the match against DC.

The Delhi Capitals, however, will be a buoyant lot. Not only are they coming back from a resounding win over Chennai Super Kings in the first match but they also have their frontline pacers Rabada and Nortje back. Both the Proteas fast bowlers had caused a lot of damage to opposition batting lineups in the last season.

Even with a pace attack that could be described as second string, DC managed to restrict CSK to below 200 on a very good batting surface. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan then went after the bowling, helping new captain Rishabh Pant start the season with a resounding victory.

On paper, especially with RR’s injury woes, DC look the outright favourites. However, as Sanju Samson showed the other day, in T20 cricket even one good knock can turn a match. Samson will be hoping to perform again with the bat and will also hope that Chris Morris, for whom RR shelled out a huge Rs 16.25 crore, comes good.

DC also benefited from some poor fielding from CSK players, many of who were rusty. It is unlikely they will get that kind of luxury against RR. However, they remain the favourites due to the depth in bowling and batting.

RAJASTHAN ROYALS

Strengths:

• Many power-hitters in the side: Samson, Buttler and Tewatia

• Riyan Parag is a new IPL sensation

Weaknesses:

•  Stokes injured, unavailable

• Expensive bowlers

DELHI CAPITALS

Strengths:

• Shaw and Dhawan in form.

• Aavesh and Chris Woakes

Weaknesses:

• R. Ashwin & Amit Mishra proved to be expensive in the first match

• Anrich Nortje out of the tournament owing to Covid-19.

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VACCINATION PROCESS FOR OLYMPIC-BOUND ATHLETES TO START SOON: RAJEEV MEHTA

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Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta on Wednesday informed that the vaccination process for the Olympic-bound athletes will start soon in the country.

“We will start the vaccination process soon so that our athletes are safe. A lot is invested in them and we want to be sure that they are safe,” said Mehta during an online seminar organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and IOA on the occasion of 100 days to the Olympics. Tokyo Olympics will go ahead from July 23-August 8 this year. The Games were slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

India has reported the highest-ever single-day spike in COVID-19 cases with over 1.84 lakh new cases and more than 1,000 deaths in the last 24 hours. And with the ever-rising COVID-19 cases, vaccination of Olympic-bound athletes has become the talk of the town.

Union Youth Affair and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju is confident of the athletes bringing laurels for the country in the upcoming mega event.

“India must cross double digits. Our athletes are fully prepared and I think this will be India’s best Olympic so far,” said Rijiju.

Meanwhile, SAI has issued a new SOP in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country. The SOP includes regular RT-PCR tests of athletes on a weekly basis to monitor their health.

Those contracting Covid-19 are immediately being moved to hospitals to ensure the best treatment and their complete safety and to isolate them from athletes who are negative.

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