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Kho Kho no longer limited to Maharashtra, it’s gaining popularity across country: Deepak Madhav

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By Nitin Srivastava
New Delhi [India], February 15 (ANI): Deepak Madhav, who participated in the KKFI 2021 Super League Kho Kho Tournament, said that Kho Kho is no longer limited to Maharashtra as the sport is gaining popularity across the country.
Maharashtra’s Pratik Waikar continued his spectacular show at the KKFI 2021 Super League Kho Kho Tournament as Pahadi Billas lifted the trophy with a convincing six points win in the thrilling final against Panthers here on Monday.
In the summit clash played at the gleaming Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium here, leading from the front skipper Waikar dished out a solid all-round performance and guided his side to 31-25 win.
“I am playing Kho-Kho for the last 14 years when I started playing there was no opportunity in this game as we are having now. This game is now not limited to Maharashtra as it gained popularity across the country,” Madhav told ANI.
Talking about his family background, Madhav explained his journey to the sport and the difficulties he faced to pursue the unpopular game.
“My family condition was mot well, my father was ill, my mother is a housewife and brother used to work so I also helped my family by distributing newspapers and used to distribute milk also,” he said.
“When I started playing, I decided that I will build my career in sports only. I gave trials for Railways but was not selected. I did not lose hope and kept trying. People used to tell me that I should stop playing and focus on studies but I did not hear them and when the fourth time I gave my trials I got selected for Railways,” Madhav added.
Kho Kho Federation of India president Sudhanshu Mittal also echoed Madhav’s sentiments and added their next step is to include Kho Kho in the Olympics.
“Kho Kho is an indigenous sport that is getting recognition on the international platform. Olympic Committee of Asia has accredited the sport as an Asian game. Currently, we are working in 36 countries and we will reach 70 countries in one year. Our next step is to include Kho Kho in the Olympics which we will succeed,” he said.
“It is a sport which every Indian has played and when it will get played globally it will give joy to a lot of people,” he added.
When asked about is Kho Kho Sports Code implementation, Mittal said, “We are fully compliant with Sports Code but my personal thought is that there is only one solution to all the problems which is not good. Because every sport has a different administration process and there are some elite games that are not spread throughout the country.”
“So, I think every sports administration process should be made according to the popularity of that sport. Second, we should make rules according to the international federation which was overlooked in the Sports Code,” he added. (ANI)

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Need to make marathon culture and popular event in India: Rijiju

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New Delhi [India], March 7 (ANI): Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said that the country needs to make marathon a culture and a popular event in the country.
Rijiju’s remarks came as he was attending the New Delhi Marathon 2021 on Sunday and he also conferred awards to the winners along with BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi.
“The New Delhi Marathon was conducted successfully. It has proven that away from the pandemic situation All the marathon runners, expressed satisfaction with the arrangement. This shows it was well arranged. The bigger point is how we make the marathon a culture and make it a popular event in India. Marathon, mini-marathon, half marathon, and full marathon- these events can be organised in different structures from the grassroots level in rural areas, villages, towns, and cities like Delhi,” Rijiju told reporters here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
“Marathon is very exciting. It galvanises the whole forces in society. Other than professional runners, other people can also take part. We can think about organising a marathon in different forms and structures. I would like to compliment the athletic federation of India. Although this is a very successful event but none of our runners could qualify for the Olympics because of certain reasons. I am sure in the next event, all will make it,” he added.
New Delhi Marathon 2021 was flagged off during the early morning hours on Sunday at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
On Saturday, Rijiju once again echoed the sentiments that Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes will be given priority for the coronavirus vaccine followed by other athletes.
“We will take care of our elite athletes thereafter all the junior athletes will be taken care of. But the focus is on Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes, they will be given priority because safety is of utmost importance. If any player gets infected at this point in time it will really spoil their chances of competing in the Olympics because if you are infected then you have to follow the quarantine and take medication then your dream is over so that’s why the athletes welfare is our priority,” Rijiju told ANI.
When asked whether BCCI communicated for the vaccination, the minister said, “We are talking about all the sports and all the players but Olympic players will remain our priority because that’s time-bound communication we have with every sports federation I can not just talk about one federation. Every federation is part of the fraternity and we are concerned about all the players. We have to abide by all the methodology being adopted by the health ministry.” (ANI)

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NZ vs Aus, 5th T20I: We weren’t aggressive with the bat, admits Finch

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Wellington [New Zealand], March 7 (ANI): After coming up short in the fifth and final T20I against New Zealand, Australia limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch on Sunday said that his side wasn’t aggressive with the bat.
Ish Sodhi’s three-wicket haul and Martin Guptill’s 71-run knock helped New Zealand defeat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth and final T20I on Sunday here at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington. With this, the Kiwis won the five-match series 3-2.
“We probably weren’t aggressive enough with the bat. We let them dictate terms and didn’t get enough runs. Probably was the difference in the game. If one of us kicked on, could have got to 160-170. I thought the pitch played quite well today. It was slightly better today than the other day I thought,” said Finch after the game.
“We have been talking about the gradual improvement from game 1 to game 4, and that was exciting. Would have been great to win the series but NZ are a great team. We just weren’t good enough today,” he added.
The first two T20Is of the five-match series were won by New Zealand, but Australia staged a comeback to level the series 2-2. However, in the series decider, the hosts were on their game from the very start and they ended up winning the series 3-2.
In the fifth and final T20I, Ish Sodhi’s three-wicket haul helped New Zealand restrict Australia to 142/8 in the allotted twenty overs.
in the end, Glenn Phillips (34) and Mark Chapman (1) took the BlackCaps over the line by seven wickets and 27 balls to spare. (ANI)

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ISL 7: Focusing on second-leg, NorthEast don’t have chances, says Habas

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Bambolim (Goa) [India], March 7 (ANI): After playing out a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL), ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Habas is now focusing on the second-leg clash as he believes that there is no chance for the opponents to book a berth in the finals.
Idrissa Sylla headed in a stoppage-time header to help NorthEast United hold ATK Mohun Bagan to a 1-1 draw at GMC Stadium, on Saturday.
The second-half substitute struck in the fourth minute of injury time to cancel out David Williams’ 34th-minute goal. The result also meant Khalid Jamil is still unbeaten in the competition and extended NorthEast’s winning run to ten games.
“In the semi-final, there are two matches. it is important to win 4-0. But I don’t remember a lot of teams with big differences. Maybe last season with (FC) Goa but not anymore,” Habas said after the game.
“I don’t remember chances for the opponents. They only had free-kicks and long balls. I think we have the opportunity in the second match and have to win,” he added.
Habas said despite missing out on some crucial players they are strong enough to take on any opponents.
“We don’t have Edu Garcia, Tiri, Sandesh (Jhingan) and what is the problem? I don’t know. I don’t understand. We played better than the opponent for 75 minutes. After that, we committed the foul and the free-kick. I don’t remember any opportunity to opponents,” he said.
“We had the opportunity to score in the first 45 minutes. After that, this match had a lot of tension. It is not necessary to win the first match. I remember a team winning the first leg 3-0 and then being eliminated. We have are the most motivated team in the ISL,” Habas concluded.
ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United will now lock horns in the second leg of the ISL semi-final on Tuesday. (ANI)

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WTC: Ashwin says best of three final would have been nicer, but team will give best shot

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 7 (ANI): After reaching the final of the World Test Championship (WTC), India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin said that a best of three final for the World Test Championship (WTC) would have been nicer, but he assured that his side will give its best shot in the summit clash.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England. Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
“For people like me, Pujara, Rahane, and Ishant, who did not play the 2019 World Cup, this is literally the World Cup. I also saw Ishant speaking about it. I am happy for every member for making it to the finals. I am sure we can get a positive result if we adapt quickly because we just have one match as the final. It would have been nicer if we had three, but we just have one, we have to live with that and we will try to give our best shot,” said Ashwin in a video posted on the official website of BCCI.
Talking about the WTC final, pacer Ishant Sharma said: “Feeling great to be a part of this team. Really happy, the kind of effort we have put in 2-2.5 years for this championship, it is a tremendous achievement that we have made it to the final. Actually, I am looked forward to the final.”
Batsman Cheteshwar Pujara also said that is an amazing feeling to qualify for the WTC final.
“Boys have worked really hard, it has been more than two years that all this began. We are hopeful that we will do well in the WTC final, it is an amazing feeling for all of us to qualify for the WTC final,” said Pujara.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position.
The Black Caps had qualified for the WTC final following the postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia. In November last year, the ICC had confirmed that the WTC points system would be amended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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I-League: Gallant Indian Arrows complete comprehensive win against NEROCA

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Kalyani (West Bengal) [India], March 7 (ANI): A daring performance by the Indian Arrows led by Ahan Prakash, the youngest captain ever in the I-League, saw the Venkatesh Shanmugam-coached side inflict a 3-0 defeat on NEROCA here at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium on Saturday.
Harsh Patre netted a goal in each half, while Vanlalruatfela struck one in the second half to complete the victory for the Arrows. To add to that, some great handy work by skipper Ahan between the sticks aided Arrows bag their second win of the Hero I-League season. Meanwhile, trouble continues to brew for Gift Raikhan’s NEROCA as they have won just once in their last nine matches and find themselves in the relegation spot.
The Indian Arrows had lost 0-4 to NEROCA in their earlier clash this season, but this time the young boys took the game to the Manipuri side, matching blow for blow against the seasoned opponents. It was the Arrows that started the match on an attacking note in an attempt to take the early lead. It felt like the Arrows reserved their best for the latter stage of the season as tacky work with possession continued to give NEROCA trouble.
The breakthrough came for the Indian Arrows in the 17th minute when a delicious cross from the right flank was headed with thunderous power into the back of the net by Harsh Patre. Patre’s goal was something out of a highlights reel as he was positioned near to the edge of the box.
While the attack did their job in handing the Arrows the lead, the defence did theirs shortly after. Led by Ahan, who seemed to be in inspired form, made multiple saves in quick succession to deny NEROCA from close range in the 21st minute. Both Judah Garcia and Songpu Singsit were left out of words as the shot-stopper pulled off some miraculous saves in a matter of seconds.
In the 36th minute, NEROCA only had themselves to blame. Judah Garcia went clear onto goal and with only the opposition goalkeeper to beat, but put the ball wide of the goal. Shortly after, Vellington Fernandes made a goal-line clearance to deny NEROCA once again. The half-time scoreline read 1-0 in favour of the Indian Arrows.
NEROCA were quick to start off the blocks in the second half but the Indian Arrows spoiled their party once again in the 51st minute and left them reeling two goals down. A Taison Singh shot from distance was parried straight into the stride of Vanlalruatfela by the opposition goalkeeper, and from a tight angle, the forward toe-poked the ball into the net to make it 2-0 for the Indian Arrows.
The second goal knocked the stuffing out of Gift Raikhan’s team and their attacking play which already looked lacklustre in the first half went amiss on multiple occasions. Despite dominating possession, chances came rarely for the Manipur-based club. In the 68th minute, Nathaniel Garcia tried to put NEROCA back into the game as he attempted a shot from long-range that went inches wide of the goal.
NEROCA tried to come back into the match, but the Indian Arrows defence thwarted them with ease. Even after Gift Raikhan had made attacking changes in the form of Varun Thokchom, the Manipur-based club seemed to run out of steam in the second half.
While the result looked done and dusted with the clock running down, the Arrows had one last goal up their sleeve. A loose back-pass meant that NEROCA’s substitute goalkeeper Golmei Dihempu Rongmei had very little time to control the ball, and was eventually dispossessed by Harsh Patre, who took his sweet time to trickle the ball over the line, with the NEROCA penalty area completely empty. Soon after, the referee brought the game to an end, as the Arrows sealed their second victory of the season.
The defeat heaped more worries on Gift Raikhan’s side as NEROCA now has to aim to win their remaining three games and hope other fixtures go in their favour if they are to survive the drop. Moreover, with Chennai City FC losing earlier in the day, the relegation battle now seems to be heating up. (ANI)

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We deserve to be in WTC final, quite exciting for us as team: Kohli

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 7 (ANI): After reaching the final of the World Test Championship (WTC), India skipper Virat Kohli said that his side completely deserves to be there in the summit clash of the Test Championship.
Team India on Saturday roared into the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) following an emphatic 3-1 series win over England. Virat Kohli’s men, who defeated England in the fourth and final Test by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium, will now face New Zealand in the WTC final slated to be played from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day at the iconic Lord’s Stadium in London.
“Well, we are quite relieved now that we have made it to the WTC final. Probably, if you look at the last 2-2.5 years and how we have played, we deserve to be in the finals. Now, it’s just about getting together as a group and focusing on that big game which is quite exciting for us as a team,” said Kohli in a video posted on the official website of BCCI.
Speaking about the upcoming WTC final, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said: “I think the way we came back as a team, each and every individual stepped up. Credit to everyone, I think everyone hung in there. It is all about the team, we always speak about how we can contribute to the team and that’s what we did. I am really happy as an individual and as a vice-captain. Our journey in not only the WTC, but before that as well, we played really well.”
Batsman Rohit Sharma said that India bounced back after every challenge that was thrown to them, and hence the side completely deserves a place in the finals.
“A big congratulations to every team member and the staff for making it to the final. It has been a long journey since the WTC started, we played well in India and we played outside India as well. We were put in difficult situations many times and we responded well to those situations that is why we stand here in the finals of the WTC. We deserve to be in the finals of the WTC,” said Rohit.
India finished as the number one team with 72.2 percentage points in the WTC points table, the factor that determined the final placings rather than total points won, following a change to the points system owing to the Covid-19 disruption.
The Black Caps were the first team to ensure a place in the final with 70 percentage points. Australia finished third with 69.2 percentage points while England ended with 61.4 percentage points at the fourth position.
The Black Caps had qualified for the WTC final following the postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia. In November last year, the ICC had confirmed that the WTC points system would be amended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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