Messi enters new chapter as icon ends title drought - The Daily Guardian
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Messi enters new chapter as icon ends title drought

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Angel Di Maria might have scored a goal in the Copa America final but all eyes were on Lionel Messi as the legend ended the drought of the first major international title with Argentina.

He might not have scored in the finals of Copa America but Messi was in red hot form in the ongoing tournament having scored the joint highest four goals in Copa America 2021. Argentina clinched the Copa America final for the first time since 1993, registering a 1-0 win over Brazil at the Maracana on Saturday. Messi was seven years old when Argentina last lifted the coveted Copa America trophy. Maria’s strike in the tournament’s final gave Messi or his fans the much-needed relief.

Whenever the debate erupted between Messi or any other big player, football pundits always highlighted how the Argentina captain wasn’t able to reap rewards at the big stage. Messi had won everything at the club level, both in personal and team capacity, but missed a major title with Argentina apart from a 2008 gold medal in the Olympics.

For now there won’t be people questioning Messi’s legacy as he has finally won his first trophy with national team. The ‘icon’ Messi would only want Argentina to take the carry forward the momentum to the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Messi and Neymar were also named as the two best players of the tournament just before their teams locked horns in the final. The Barcelona star had five assists in six games to his name before the summit clash kicked off.

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It was one of my dreams to be number one player in India: Ankita Raina

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Ranked the number one player women tennis player in India, Ankita Raina is an Arjuna award winner in 2021 on her recognition for the achievements in tennis. She also holds a bronze medal in women’s singles 18th Asian games at Jakarta 2018. Excerpts from an interview.

Q. Ankita recently represented team India with BJK 2022, that is Billie Jean King Cup. Ankita congratulations on being ranked number one women tennis prayer in India. How did this achievement make you feel each time when you hear it?

A. It’s been a few years now and I really feel proud it’s been a dream to firstly play for India. While growing up it was one of my dream to be number one player in the country and it has all only been possible due to the support of my family and of course all my sponsors and team that have been with me in this journey.

Q. Does ranking affect your game at emotional or mental level?

A. As a player you always have goals. Every year or every few months that you want to be here in terms of ranking but over the years I’ve learned to deal with it or how to take it in a positive way. Because after all you have to be in the process and ranking and results is something out of your control all you can do is give your best in every practice session. And then definitely in the match it’s going to be how you have been practicing and worked hard over the years. Initially it would bother sometimes, but over the years I would say that I have learned how to manage it.

Q. How was the experience in Turkey, how was the weather?

A. Turkey was beautiful, it is the one of my favourite countries and I was happy to be back there. I was there last in 2019. And I love the culture there, love the food love the people and also the conditions.

Q. Do you miss Indian food when on tours?

A. I definitely miss Indian food. We just manage, sometimes if you’re lucky you get Indian restaurant around. And they’re such lovely people across the world. Indians, sometimes they get you some Indian food or they cook you home food, so I would say I’ve been lucky.

Q. Ankita you know though Sania didn’t play in BJK 2022 this time. What kind of relationship do you have with Sania Mirza?

A. Growing up I always looked up to her because she was the Indian player representing everyone. And she had such a great performance on the WTA tour at various games, the list keeps going on. So while growing up I always looked up to her because she was the number one player and then when I had the chance first time in 2010 to be a part of the team with her so it like a dream come true. Because you get a chance to play with one of your idols and also like at Olympics when I had the chance to represent India and play at the Olympics with her. So definitely her experience and all that she has done now for the country and so many women are inspired with her. I can keep talking about her and her achievements.

Q. Ankita what is something that you still hope to learn from her?

A. I would say fearlessness and humour.

Q. Is there any memorable incident when you guys went ROFL, at the fun created by her?

A. I mean it has been many times because when we are traveling for the Indian team or at the game so it’s always like we will be laughing, because when she’s around the atmosphere is very light and positive. So there have been many incidents I can’t remember one right now.

Q. Wearing these dangles you know and a half tied hair. I’ve never seen you this way, do you always wear these dangles while playing also?

A. Yes.

Q. You just tie a tight pony on your head every time so you’re looking a little different.

A. Yes because, I mean everyone even you have mostly seen me on the tennis court or my pictures from the tennis court. So this is a different look I would say.

Q. So you are an Arjuna award winner. I have seen that pic wearing that red saree with red blazer, totally traditional Ankita so do you find comfortable wearing saree, did you wear it yourself that day?

A. My mom helped me out, but I love wearing sarees and I would really like to learn how to wear one probably in future.

Q. Other than saree what all traditional dresses you love wearing?

A. I think ghaghra. Since I’m born and brought up in Ahmedabad. So we used to have Navratri there and it’s celebrated in a large scale.

Q. Ankita do you follow any other sports personality you know that you think he or she inspires you enough. If yes then why?

A. I mostly follow only tennis and also like while growing up. Like I mentioned Sania and apart from her in tennis it’s Serena Williams another player who while growing up I used to really get excited watching her matches. If when she was playing Wimbledon against her sister and all the other matches.

Q. What motivates you the most what drives you to train or practice?

A. I think it’s just how better and how good I can be at this sport. When I look back when I started I had no clue that I would be a professional tennis player one day. Because it was it’s just that it happened my older brother used to play the sport, because my mom was a sports enthusiast and then I just followed his footsteps. So I just want to see how far I can get.

Q. Your comment on the kind of tournament like BJK 2022 which happened. So what do you feel about these kind of tournament are they putting their best foot forward to take tennis to the next level globally?

A. BJK is like world cup of tennis, you can say that in a way. We are playing the Asia Oceania group and there’s another group which is the European African group and then whoever qualifies goes to the world group playoffs. And then they go to the world group where they have the finals. So it is like world cup of tennis and it is on a huge scale because while we are playing in the Asian group so we are playing the best countries of Asia and then as we go ahead hopefully.

Q. What is your favourite memory of playing tennis you know any favourite moment as a professional tennis player?

A. It is definitely when I was playing Olympics last year. That would be one and the other one was when I was at the podium in Jakarta in Palembang at the Asian games getting the medals.

Q. What role does family play in the life of an athlete how important is family support all together?

A. Family support is the I think plays a very big part to me being here and being able to have this type of journey was only possible because I had the support from my family, from my mother, brother father all of them. As you know like education is one of the things and then financial background is another thing. I’ve played a lot during board exams. So I had this in that my last paper had a week gap and then there was an international event in Aurangabad, so I went there and played and then I came back and gave the last exam. So all this has been possible only because of my parents you know they were running around they are the pillars and backbone.

Q. How do you deal with the pressure at you know international forums when you go to play like you’re right now facing the same?

A. I feel that, pressure is something you always get because in tennis or even in life generally, different situations and it is new every single time it’s just that you learn from that and you move forward. So I think for me I feel being in process just doing my work and doing my routine has helped me to cope up with that.

Q. What is the most important piece of advice you would offer those who aspire to be like you, to be in your position?

A. I just want to say that follow your dreams. Like I said be fearless that’s one of the things I’ve learned from Sania. And be in the process you will have various challenges and there will be many people around sometimes, even from your family they will keep keep saying maybe you can’t do this but if your heart says, and if you’re ready to put in the work then just go for it.

Q. What is your favourite Indian cuisine?

A. That’s a tough question. I really like Gujarati thali and also you know me being Kashmiri, I really enjoy eating authentic Kashmiri food, home-cooked food.

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BOXER KALAIVANI MARCHES INTO FINAL OF ELORDA CUP

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Indian boxer Kalaivani Srinivasan punched her way into the finals of the Nur-Sultan Cup with a scintillating performance in Kazakhstan late on Saturday. The Tamil Nadu boxer was at her dominating best and came up with a flawless outing to pick up a unanimous victory over Uzbekistan’s Farzona Fozilova in the women’s 48kg weight classification. In the men’s 48kg competition, Kuldeep Kumar up against local favourite Kairat Yernur showed great resiliency and calculated approach to pick up a narrow 3-2 victory to cruise into the semifinals.

However, it was curtains for Yashpal & Savita in the tournament. Taking on Kazakhstan’s Aslanbek Shymbergenov in the 71kg event, Yashpal fell by the wayside and lost 0-5 in quarterfinals, while Savita was handed a 0-5 drubbing by Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Japan’s Namiki Tsukimi in the 50kg category.

Elsewhere, Neema & Jyoti also exited the prestigious tournament after losing their respective semifinal bout 0-5 to Kazakhstan’s Anar Tursynbek & Uzbekistan’s Feruza Kazakova. Babita Bisht’s journey also came to an end as she conceded to China’s Zheng Lu by ‘Referee Stopping the Contest’ verdict .Jyoti (52kg), Neema (63kg) & Babita (81kg), however will be entitled to receive the bronze medal as they lost out in the semifinal.

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NADAL DISPATCHES SONEGO; KYRGIOS WINS TENSE CLASH AGAINST TSITSIPAS

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Rafael Nadal wasted little time in securing his place in the Wimbledon 2022 fourth round on Saturday evening, defeating Italian Lorenzo Sonego in the third round.

The Spaniard was at his absolute best as he thrashed Italian 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in straight sets. In his best performance of the week, the Spaniard lit up Centre Court with his fierce striking and all-court game. The 36-year-old fired the ball past Sonego from all angles, while showing elegant touches at the net to move after two hours and four minutes.

The second seed took the ball early off both wings to take time away from Sonego, shooting 14 winners across the first two sets to gain full control.

There were a few anxious moments in the game. In the third set, when Nadal was leading 4-2, Sonego persuaded officials to close the roof so that the floodlights could be turned on, and the Spaniard did not seem pleased with the decision.

However, all this did was fire up Nadal, with the second seed increasing his depth on return to break back immediately before he held to advance to the fourth round at The All England Lawn Tennis Club for the 10th time.

Nick Kyrgios knocked out fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a rough and ill-tempered clash in the Wimbledon third round. Kyrgios won the match by 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 after three hours and 16 minutes. Tsitsipas was the more solid player in the first-set tie-break, as Kyrgios let his lack of concentration affect his play. But through it all, despite playing very quickly and relying on his booming serve, the World No. 40 managed to remain in touch with the fourth seed on the scoreboard.

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Bumrah puts price on his wicket: Jadeja

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The second day of the ongoing fifth test match between India and England belonged to the skipper Jasprit Bumrah and his all-round performance put India in the driver’s seat here on Saturday.

After helping India to set a formidable first innings total of 416, he wreaked havoc with the red cherry running through the English top-order ending the day with figures of 3-35. However, it was not his bowling but his batting display that drew plaudits and sent the packed stadium into raucous celebration.

Coming onto bat with the Men in Blue still short of the 400 run mark, he launched into Stuart Broad and took him to cleaners plundering 35 runs off one over with the help of three fours and two sixes, earning a distinction of scoring the most runs in one over of a test match surpassing the great Brian Charles Lara of West Indies. While it might come as a surprise to many, Ravindra Jadeja the second centurion of the match after Rishabh Pant however felt that it was not an anomaly as Indian tailenders spend a lot of time batting at the nets.

“Bumrah takes his batting in the nets very seriously. He puts a price on his wicket and he does not have a casual approach when he is batting.” Jadeja said during the press conference at the end of day’s play.

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PUJARA HITS HALF-CENTURY, INDIA LEAD BY 257 RUNS

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A solid half-century by Cheteshwar Pujara and his 50-run stand with wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant put India in the driver’s seat at the end of Day three of the ongoing fifth and final Test against England at Edgbaston, with the score reading 125/3 at the end of the day’s play.

At the end of Day three, Pujara (50*) and Pant (30*) stood unbeaten. India maintained a healthy 257-run lead in the match. India started off things after Tea at 37/1, with Cheteshwar Pujara (17*) and Hanuma Vihari (10*).

England got an early breakthrough after tea as Vihari was dismissed for 11 by Stuart Broad after the batter edged the ball to Bairstow, who was present at the third slip. This brought Virat Kohli to the crease. He and Pujara took the innings forward and built a solid partnership. Kohli looked really good, hitting four really good boundaries. But the batter fell prey to a peach of a delivery by Ben Stokes for 20 after the ball hit his glove, got dropped by wicketkeeper Billings and went to the hands of Joe Root who was standing at the slip. With this, a solid 38-run stand between Kohli and Pujara was over.

This brought in-form Rishabh Pant to the crease. After scoring 146 in the first innings, he continued looking in good touch, hitting some good shots. Pujara also kept the scoreboard ticking with some good running between the wickets and a hit sent for four. Pujara fought his way to a brilliant half-century off 139 balls, his 33rd in the longest format of the game. A fifty-run partnership was also complete between Pujara-Pant. The duo helped India carry through the remainder of the day without any loss of wicket.

Earlier, Indian pacers once again excelled as they bowled out England to 284 and the pair of Cheteshwat Pujara and Hanuma Vihari ensured that India took a healthy first-innings lead of 169 with 9 wickets in hand.

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‘I am proud of my achievements: Saba Nasim

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Saba Nasim, who is a lawyer by profession has been awarded the British empire medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to cricket and training young people in London. In an exclusive conversation with The Daily Guardian she gave her insights on her achievements and her experience in training young girls. Excerpts

Q. How difficult or easy is it for an Asian face to break into mainstream cricket as you have achieved?

A. I think definitely playing is much easier and that’s how I started about I think 13 years ago. When I was just leaving university, I wanted to play the sport, I played a lot in secondary school. So we used to play cricket quite a lot, so I wanted to get back after a break of four or five years because of my studies and doing a degree in university. I thought I want to get back into this sport, so then I went around looking for local cricket clubs and there weren’t many female cricket clubs. But luckily I came across a club which was only 10 minutes away from my house, a state cricket club, and they luckily just had set up a new women’s team two years ago before I started so in 2007. So in 2009, I joined in and then a few years later one of the coaches said to me why don’t you also do the level two coaching course and you can become a coach yourself, as well and you can go out and teach girls. I said that would be great because I was already volunteering my time at the club teaching the youngsters, so I did my course, I passed it in 2013. And then from then on it just went a little bit crazy because I was apparently the only female coach in that area and all the schools and youth clubs wanted female coaches. So then I went around and then slowly but surely ended up coaching thousands of girls.

Q. Saba please explain your Red Bridge project to our fans.

A. The Redbridge project started off when I was coaching in schools and then the girls in the schools would ask, is there a club I can join after school or in the weekend. And then I thought let’s make a project which is accessible for the girls within the East London area. Then we hired out the leisure centre and luckily they had an outdoor space which was a basketball court actually it wasn’t a cricket pitch, and we asked them if we do cricket sessions there, and then they luckily gave that to us. So then that’s how I moved the girls from coaching in the schools into the youth project in the Red Bridge Project.

Q. How satisfying does it feel when you train young girls and create a brigade to fight on the grounds to win trophies for the country how does it feel?

A. It feels really good to give back to the community from a young age.

Even with my family, there was always an element of charitable giving and doing things for the community. Not necessarily for a financial reward so it was always in me to do that so it was nice that I could teach them the sport that I love to play as well. And see the happiness on their face when they take a wicket or when they hit a four or when the group gets together on the pitch to celebrate a wicket. That team spirit, that spirit of cricket that is there, it is really nice to see.

Q. Share your first feeling when you heard the news of receiving the British Empire Medal and also getting invited to the Royal Garden party held at Buckingham palace in the summer did you get the goosebumps?

A. I think, I got a letter through the post and my mom opened it and she said it has got some royal stamp on it. So I said to just open it, I was at work at that time and I think she opened it and she said that I have got some medal or an award and I asked to send me a picture quickly. And then I read it, somebody had nominated me for this award. I didn’t start the coaching because of that I just did it because I enjoy doing what I do and then somebody saw me in the community and nominated me for this award. Gathered all the information somehow from internet articles and stuff and nominated me. So it was really great to receive that award and to know that, I had been invited to Buckingham palace to have tea with the queen.

Q. Saba, you have been a successful women’s coach and like in tennis it’s happening that women are training men. Do you see any women cricket coaches training the male cricketers anytime soon?

A. I think at the club level it is happening now but it is yet to happen at the international level. But I think slowly but surely the more you know women’s cricket is getting exposure, the better it will be for women’s cricket. I think just recently Sue Redfern one of our umpires is now going to be the first female umpire to umpire first-class men’s matches. So it’s a step in the right direction and I think the more exposure we are getting in the last few years or so, the better it will be and then we’ll see more things in more prominent roles in international quicker especially.

Q. Will we be able to see you training male cricketers?

A. I am training under 15 boys at my club. So I have reached that level and

at the moment because my priority is women’s cricket and there are such few female coaches around at the club level. Whenever they want a female coach then I’m there, so I always give priority to that. But yeah I think in the future why not I can coach some of the male club and hopefully at the county level someday.

Q. I have a list of accolades a list of honours, a list of achievements, and what you have achieved, you were ECB coach of the year 2015. And the coach of the year at last year’s Asian cricket awards, in addition to being honoured as a point of light by Prime Minister David Cameron and nominated for a NatWest outstanding service to cricket award that is OSCA. Your room shelves will no doubt soon need reinforcing under the weight of the awards you have for your coaching work, isn’t it?

A. I know it’s just amazing since I’ve got one award then people nominate me for more awards. And then my family asks how many more awards are you going to win, I said it’s not my fault, I’m winning all of them. But they’re very proud of me and I’m proud of the achievements and especially what I’m doing for women and girls cricket here in England.

Q. Let’s talk about women’s cricket. Is the success of cricket 100 in England, are we just a step away from IPL-type leagues.

A. I think it was quiet, very sceptical at the start. But I think having been to the final and been to a few matches at lords and the oval there. I think it’s been successful. It really attracted the family aspect, people coming with their children, with their moms and dads and having a good time. So I think the 100 is probably going to be here to stay for quite a long while now.

Q. Who is your favourite team and which country’s team do you like to cheer for always?

A. In the women’s I follow the England women very closely, along with the Australian women because they are the best in the world at the moment. And then in the men’s, I follow England of course and then Pakistan, India. And I would love to see more Pakistan- India matches if circumstances allow. I think they’re great for cricket in general.

Q. You have been a cricketer you have been a coach what when can we see you behind the mic?

A. At the moment I think I’ve done a few commentaries in club matches but I think the more experienced I get, maybe you will see me one day behind the mic.

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