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Legendary footballer forced to fight Covid on his own

Syed Shahid Hakim, who was a part of India’s 1960 Olympic squad, fails to get a bed in govt hospital, finds it difficult to pay Rs 12,000 daily in a private clinic.

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File photo of Syed Shahid Hakim being awarded by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Nothing could be worse than an Olympian, national coach, administrator, FIFA referee, Dhyan Chand Award winner and a living legend — who has been tested Covid-positive — getting no help from the government and has to spend Rs 12,000 per day for the treatment. Syed Shahid Hakim who was a part of India’s 1960 Olympics football squad and has served the Indian Air Force has been suffering from coronavirus since 13 July 2020.

According to reports, the 81-year-old initially tried to get himself admitted in a government hospital but was unhappy with the facilities and couldn’t find a bed at the military hospital. He was tested positive a couple of days ago after suffering from breathing problems and was taken to a government facility where things were not up to the mark.

In the military hospital, no bed was available. His nephew lodged him in a private hotel Amruta Castle in Hyderabad where he is spending around Rs 12,000 per day for quarantine facilities, which is beyond his capacity. “The cricket board takes care of its old cricketers, why can’t the government reach out to us? At least some pension to the families and medical expenses should be provided to us,” Hakim said.

The only surviving football Olympian in the country after the demise of P.K. Banerjee and Chuni Goswami said that the government was not doing enough for him. He had written to the Sports Minister, saying that all football Olympians were dying one after another and the government was not taking care of them properly. Son of legendary footballer Syed Abdul Rahim, he also didn’t receive any help from filmmaker Boney Kapoor and actor Ajay Devgn who are apparently making a film on his life.

Former squadron leader Hakim joined the IAF as a commissioned officer in 1962 and took voluntary retirement in 1983 to promote sports. He later joined National Institute of Sports in 1986, became Dean NIS and retired as the regional director of Sports Authority of India (SAI). The ailing veteran is the only sportsperson in India who is an Olympian ex-FIFA referee with the national record of officiating 33 international matches, ex-Asian Football Confederation referees’ instructor, ex national coach, ex-secretary of Air Force Sports Control Board, expert commentator for World Cup and Euro Cup.

Delhi’s footballer Gaus Mohammad wonders why a person with such an outstanding career hasn’t received help from anywhere. In the meantime, Mohammad has also written a letter to Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Bhaduria seeking his help for the veteran.

Hakim was the second footballer to receive the Dhyan Chand Award after Shabbier Ali in 2017. This is the highest award in Indian sports given for lifetime achievement in sports and games. After his contribution to the sport as a referee from 1970 and playing career of 25 years, he turned to coaching and had a 10-year stint as the chief project director at Sports Authority of India. A part of the Indian football team in the 1960 Rome Olympics, he has also been an accomplished FIFA referee besides being the Indian National Team’s Assistant Coach.

All India Football Federation General Secretary Kushal Das in his message said, “Hakim saab has been an inspiration to many footballers over the years. He has a versatile personality. A Sports enthusiast and a great achiever like him deserves to get help from the Sports Ministry and his Air Force department in which he served for many years.”

 No doubt, he is a legendary footballer of the country and has served sports sincerely and honestly in the Indian Air Force, NIS and SAI. He deserves help and the IAF should be proud of his achievements. But unfortunately, he could not get any help so far.

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JOFRA ARCHER RULED OUT OF TEST SERIES

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LONDON: England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have confirmed that pacer Jofra Archer has been ruled out of the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand.

Archer, who had returned to action for Sussex in the County Championship against Kent this week at Hove, only bowled five overs in Kent’s second innings. He was suffering from pain in his right elbow when bowling and as a result, he was unable to bowl in the final two days of the match.

“The England and Sussex medical teams will now seek guidance, and Archer will see a medical consultant later this week to determine the next course of action on the management of his elbow,” the ECB said in an official statement.

Earlier this year, Archer had suffered a cut to his hand while cleaning at his home in January shortly before flying to India to prepare for the Test series.

The ECB’s medical team managed the injury throughout the tour, and it did not impact his availability. A fragment of glass was removed during the operation to his middle finger on his right hand in March.

Archer had played two Tests and all the five T20Is against India, and then he was ruled out from the ODI series and the first half of the IPL.

The England pacer then made a return to competitive cricket as he played in the ongoing County match against Sussex. He also bowled five overs and picked up a wicket against Kent.

England and New Zealand are slated to lock horns in a two-match Test series, which gets underway on June 2.

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ENGLAND TESTS NOT WARM-UPS FOR WTC FINAL, SAYS WAGNER

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New Zealand pacer Neil Wagner on Monday said that the upcoming two Test matches against England would not be a warm-up for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against India.

England and New Zealand are set to lock horns in two Tests, beginning June 2. The majority of the Kiwi Test contingent touched down in London on Sunday afternoon (UK time) after flying from Auckland via Singapore. Tim Southee, BJ Watling, Ross Taylor, and Wagner departed from Auckland on Monday afternoon (NZ time) to join the squad in Southampton. The Maldives-based IPL contingent of captain Kane Williamson, Kyle Jamieson, Mitchell Santner, team physio Tommy Simsek and trainer Chris Donaldson will arrive on Monday (UK time).

“We’re not going to treat these two Test matches against England just as warm-ups for the WTC final. I know for a fact we’re going to get out there and pride ourselves the way we’ve been playing Test cricket and we want to win Test matches for New Zealand,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Wagner as saying.

“It’s been quite nice, it’s obviously got different characteristics to the Kookaburra. The way we’ve been training for the last while is something we didn’t always have in the past, having the facilities and having a marquee up and getting a number of trainings in before going to England. On tours in the past you rock up there and you’ve only got a couple of trainings and maybe one head out with the Dukes ball before the first Test and with that you can find yourself a little bit behind,” he added.

Talking about the preparation of his side before the UK tour, Wagner said: “But having had those little bit of trainings leading into it has been quite beneficial, just because it’s a little bit different, and obviously adapting to it. It’s been really good preparation and everybody is excited bowling with it.”

“Sometimes you have to control all that because there’s a high expectation of the ball doing a lot and moving around but sometimes you can get there and it can be quite flat and slow as well. The nice thing about it is we’ve got a wealth of experience and the guys have been there before so we can feed off each other and bounce ideas off each other as well,” he added.

The first Test between England and New Zealand will be played at Lord’s. Talking about playing at the Mecca of Cricket, Wagner said: “The nice thing is that the nerves and the unknowns are away, I’ve played at Lord’s couple of times now. I’ve played one Test there in 2013 and a couple of county games too, so it’s nice to get there when things feel familiar.”

“Sometimes you can get there and get a little but starstruck with the whole experience and everything because you grow up as a kid wanting to be there and all those sort of things. Having been there and played on those grounds, we’ve been around those conditions so it’s nice to go there and hit the ground running, knowing what to expect,” he added.

Kiwi players and support staff were transferred from London Heathrow airport to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton where they will be based for the first two weeks of the tour.

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AUSTRALIAN CONTINGENT RETURNS HOME FROM MALDIVES

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Thirty-eight members of the Australian contingent stranded in the Maldives made their way on home soil on Monday.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season was postponed on May 4 due to a rising number of Covid-19 cases and the entire Australian contingent had travelled to the Maldives due to a travel ban from India. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey who had tested positive for Covid-19 in India is also expected to reach Australia on Monday via a separate flight, reported cricket.con.au.

Hussey had not travelled to the Maldives and he was there in Chennai to recover from Covid-19.

The 38-member Australian contingent stranded in Maldives which includes the likes of Pat Cummins, David Warner, Steve Smith and Michael Slater, travelled to Australia on a BCCI charter flight and now they will undergo hotel quarantine.

Australian government’s pause on the return of Australians from India concluded on May 15.

Earlier, Cricket Australia’s Interim CEO Nick Hockley had praised the BCCI and the Indian board’s effort to get the Australian players back to their homes.

“I would say the BCCI have been absolutely fantastic. So they’re committed to not only the first movement to either the Maldives or Sri Lanka but they’re also then committed to putting on a charter to bring them back to Australia,” he had said.

Asked if Cricket Australia regrets letting the players go for this year’s IPL, Hockley said: “No, I don’t think so. I mean, our hearts go out to everyone in India. Clearly, I mean, I think the IPL, you know, put so much work, so much effort into putting on the tournament. They obviously did that on the best available information at the time and they’ve come to the decision over the last 24 hours that it’s in everyone’s — well, in the interests of the health and safety of everyone to suspend the tournament indefinitely.”

“At the moment — I was on the phone to my counterpart less than an hour ago and I can’t speak more highly for how the BCCI but also all of the franchises have worked to look after our players and put in plans to make sure that they get home safely and as quickly as possible.”

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WI vs Australia: Jason Behrendorff, Tanveer Sangha named in 23-member preliminary squad

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MELBOURNE: Jason Behrendorff and Tanveer Sangha on Monday were named in Australia’s 23-member preliminary squad for the upcoming limited-overs tour of West Indies.

Australia and West Indies are set to lock horns in five T20Is and three ODIs in July this year. Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, David Warner, Moises Henriques, Alex Carey, and Pat Cummins return to the squad after missing the recent white-ball tour of New Zealand. Hard-hitting batsman Matthew Wade, Marcus Stoinis, and Mitchell Marsh join D’Arcy Short in the mix for the final batting places. They all add the flexibility of being able to play in the top or middle-order.

Highly rated bat Josh Phillipe adds another top-order option with captain Aaron Finch and David Warner and as an additional backup wicketkeeper/batsman to Alex Carey and Matthew Wade.

Experienced all-rounders Stoinis, Moises Henriques, and Marsh are joined by the in-form Maxwell in the preliminary squad. Daniel Sams advised the NSP he was unavailable for selection for the tour of the West Indies on health and wellbeing grounds. CA supports Sams’s decision.

Pacemen Kane Richardson, Jhye Richardson, and Andrew Tye join Cummins, Hazlewood, and Starc as the primary pace strike weapons. They are joined by gun speedster Riley Meredith and left-armer Jason Behrendorff.

National selector Trevor Hohns said: “This preliminary list gives selectors a solid base from which to choose a final touring party in the coming weeks while allowing players to prepare.”

“The Australian men’s T20 squad has the ability to match it with any team in the world and the competition for places will be fierce, which is exactly what we are looking for. The West Indies men’s team has won two of the six ICC T20 World Cups played, including the most recent tournament in India and 2016, and this series will provide us with excellent preparation ahead of the 2021 edition in October and November,” he added.

Ben Oliver, CA’s EGM of National Teams said: “It was great to see our Olympians receiving their vaccination shots ahead of the Tokyo Games and we are working through logistics for the Australian men’s team with the relevant agencies. We will comply with all government directives in relation to vaccinations and international travel.”

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INDIA’S TESTS AGAINST ENGLAND, AUSTRALIA WERE NOT FIXED: ICC

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The ICC dismissed claims made by a news channel that India’s Test matches against England (2016) and Australia (2017) were fixed, saying the passages of play identified as fixed were entirely predictable, and therefore “implausible as a fix”.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) also cleared five people — filmed by the channel — of any wrongdoing, saying even as they behaved in a questionable manner but no credible evidence was available to charge them.

During the programme, an alleged bookie Aneel Munnawar was seen making claims about his dubious connections and history of fixing matches including two Tests involving Virat Kohli’s Indian team. The ICC had launched an investigation into the claims.

“The programme alleged that two matches were fixed: India v England in Chennai in 2016 and India v Australia in Ranchi in 2017. To assess whether the passages of play highlighted in the programme were unusual in any way, the ICC engaged four independent betting and cricketing specialists to analyse the claims,” the ICC said in a release after it concluded its investigation.

All four concluded that the passages of play identified in the programme as being allegedly fixed were entirely predictable, and therefore implausible as a fix,’ the release added.

The ICC did not name the people exonerated but sources said former Pakistan cricketer Hasan Raza, Sri Lanka’s Tharanga Indika and Tharindu Mendis were among them. They had joined the investigation, carried out of the world governing body.

While small-time Mumbai first-class cricketer Robin Morris was also filmed, he didn’t join the investigations.

‘No charges will be brought under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code against any of the five Participants to the Code who featured in the programme due to insufficient credible and reliable evidence,’ the ICC said.

The comprehensive ICC investigation focused on three main areas: the claims made by the programme, the suspects who were part of it and how the programme gathered evidence.

‘In the case of the claims aired in this programme, there are fundamental weaknesses in each of the areas we have investigated that make the claims unlikely and lacking in credibility, a viewpoint that has been corroborated by four independent experts,’ GM (Integrity Unit) Alex Marshall was quoted as saying in the release.

‘On the basis of the programme, the Participants to the Code who were filmed appear to have behaved in a questionable manner, however, we have been unable to assess the full context of the conversations that took place beyond what was seen on screen versus what the Participants claim actually happened.

‘This combined with the absence of any other credible evidence means there are insufficient grounds to bring charges under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code,’ Marshall said.

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Eight Olympics-bound wrestlers all set to be trained in Poland

Top wrestling federation sources say that the visa process is currently underway.

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Eight Indian wrestlers, who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, will be trained in Poland. According to sources from the Wrestling Federation of India, the visa process is currently underway in this direction. Until the visa is ready, these players will continue to train as per their schedule.

This time four freestyle and same number of women wrestlers have qualified for the Olympics, in which Ravi Dahiya will compete in 57 kg, Bajrang Punia 65 kg, Deepak Poonia 86 kg and Sumit Malik in 125 kg freestyle category while the women Seema will compete in 50 kg, Vinesh in 53 kg, Anshu Malik in 57 kg and Sonam Malik in 62 kg category. Currently, Bajrang Poonia is under coaching from his Georgian coach Shako at Bellary (Karnataka). Jugalbandi of these two has been effective in the last two years.

Both of them are currently seeking two foreign players as sparring partners. Each wrestler from Cuba and Georgia will come to practice with Bajrang after the visa formalities are completed. JSW in Bellary sponsors Bajrang.

At the same time, preparation of Vinesh Phogat, who was injured during the Rio Olympics, is quite good this time. She is currently training in Hungary with a Hungarian coach Wollar Akos for a long time. Her sister Priyanka Phogat, a silver medalist in Asian Championship, is working as her sparring partner in Hungary. A team is also preparing Vinesh for the Olympics in Hungary.

57 kg woman wrestler Anshu Malik is practising hard in Nidhani (Jind district of Haryana) while Sonam Malik is recovering from her injury in 62 kg. She has been asked to do light exercises. Ravi, Deepak Poonia and Sumit are also waiting for the Poland visa to be ready.

Ravi, Deepak Poonia, Bajrang and Vinesh secured a Tokyo ticket from World Championships in Astana (Kazakhstan) in 2019, and rest of the four wrestlers qualified from Olympic qualifying events. In the last Olympics, Sakshi Malik had won the medal, but this time she was defeated by Sonam Malik many times in trials. Sonam and Anshu, who came from junior to senior, have high expectations this time.

Vinesh has won gold medals at the International Ukrainian Tournament, Matteo Pellicone Tournament, Poland Open, Grand Prix of Spain and Asian Championship besides winning medals at the World Championships, while Bajrang Punia has won two golds at Matteo Pellicone besides Kartozia & V Balavadze Price and also won a gold in Ali Aliyev Tournament while he reached the finals of both previous Asian Championships. Now is the time to prepare for the examinations in the last phase and all the wrestlers will join the practice at Poland’s wrestling center as soon as they get a visa.

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