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In a conversation with The Sunday Guardian, Dev Dutt Baghel talks about his journey, cricket, and the challenges the game is facing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Dev Dutt Baghel is a cricket coach who has formerly been the manager of Delhi’s Under-14 and under-19 teams for the National Cricket School Games. Baghel is currently the national selector in the Indian National Deaf Cricket Association. Excerpts:

Q. When and where did you start cricket coaching?

A. I began my journey as a cricket coach at St Marks School in 2004. Later, I moved to Venkateswara International School, in 2008, and started coaching there.

Q. Is there anyone who has helped you in this field?

A. There is a long list, but at the initial level, former Cricketer Gurusharan Singh encouraged me a lot. His efforts were unparalleled.

Q. How many cricket tournaments have you organised so far?

A. So far, I have organised Harbeer Singh Memorial Tournament for U-14 seven times and Naresh Memorial Cricket Tournament for U-19 category five times respectively. In all these tournaments, leading clubs and players from Delhi-NCR participated.

Q. Please name some of your students who are playing at the state level.

A. My students have brought laurels to Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal for Under-16, Under-19, and Under-23 categories respectively. Siddhant Dogra from Himachal, Sagar Dahiya from Haryana, and Vikas Solanki from Delhi are playing under-23. I am happy with my talented players. I am sure that soon they are going to represent not only their states but the country as well.

Q. Do international cricketers visit your academy?

A. Yes, International players like Shane Watson, Murali Karthik, Gautam Gambhir, Yashpal Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, Mayank Dagar, and Pradeep Sangwan, and many other players visit and practice here from time to time. They even keep encouraging our budding cricketers by giving them useful advice, so that they excel in their respective fields.

Q. Have you embarked upon any foreign tours?

A. I have toured overseas with the cricket team twice. I visited Australia in 2010 as a co-trainer with the Gush Cricket Club team, and for the second time, I visited Sri Lanka last year as the Manager and Chief Coach of the Deaf Cricket Team.

Q. Do you think online coaching is useful in a sport like cricket?

A. Cricket is an outdoor game, and an interactive contact sport. You can play shots, scalp wickets, and take catches on the ground only. Hence online coaching has no significance in cricket. It is a myth.

Q. Is there any tournament that Deaf Cricket Association is planning to organise soon?

A. Yes, the National Championship of 50–50 Overs will be held in Delhi from March 1 to March 5, 2021. Teams from five zones will play against each other. Based on that, the National team will be selected and the team will further represent the Indian team internationally during the Asia Cup in October this year, and the World Cup in February 2022.

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Lizelle Lee and Laura Wolvaardt scored their respective half-centuries to help South Africa Women’s team thrash India by eight wickets in the first ODI on Sunday here at the Ekana Cricket Stadium.

With this, South Africa Women took a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. Chasing a target of 178 runs, South Africa got off to an impressive start, with openers Lee and Wolvaardt scoring regular boundaries. The duo proved to be too good for the hosts’ bowlers, who struggled to restrict the batters from scoring runs.

Lee and Wolvaardt continued their scintillating performance and took the team over the 100-run mark in the 26th over. Both showed no signs of a struggle and kept adding runs to the scoreboard, taking South Africa closer to the victory. Both completed their half-centuries in the process.

In the 38th over, Jhulan Goswami handed India the first breakthrough as she got hold of Wolvaardt (80). Sune Luus then came to bat but failed as Goswami dismissed her as well. However, the comeback was too late for the Indian side as South Africa easily got over the line in the 41st over.

Earlier, Mithali Raj top-scored with a knock of 50 runs as India posted a score of 177/9 in the allotted fifty overs against South Africa.

Put in to bat first, India got off to a bad start as the side lost its first two wickets with just 18 runs on the board. Smriti Mandhana (14) and Jemimah Rodrigues (1) both failed to leave a mark and the hosts were put on the backfoot. Punam Raut (10) also failed to stay at the crease for a long time and this brought Mithali and Harmanpreet Kaur to the middle in the 14th over of the innings.

Mithali and Harmanpreet put on 62 runs for the fourth wicket and the partnership saw Harmanpreet scoring runs at a brisk pace.

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WELLINGTON: 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 win, New Zealand won the five-match series 3-2. Chasing 143, the Kiwis got off to a tremendous start as openers Guptill and Devon Conway put on 106 runs for the first wicket inside 12 overs. This stand saw Guptill going past his fifty-run mark to give the hosts an upper hand. Australia did get back-to-back wickets of Conway (36) and Guptill (71) but it was too late and in the end, Glenn Phillips (34) and Mark Chapman (1) took the BlackCaps over the line by seven wickets and 27 balls to spare.

Earlier, a three-wicket haul helped New Zealand restrict Australia to 142/8 in the allotted twenty overs. Australia was in a steady position at the halfway mark as the side had registered a score of 74/2 after the first ten overs. However, the innings with southwards after that as the visitors managed to score just 68 runs in the final ten overs, and the side also lost six more wickets in the process.

For Australia, Matthew Wade (44) and Aaron Finch (36) got among the runs and no other batsmen was able to stay at the crease for a long duration. For the Kiwis, Sodhi returned with three wickets while Tim Southee and Trent Boult took two wickets each.

Brief Scores: Australia 142/8 (Matthew Wade 44, Aaron Finch 36, Ish Sodhi 3-24); New Zealand 143/3 (Martin Guptill 71, Devon Conway 36, Riley Meredith 2-39).

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Indian shuttler P.V. Sindhu on Sunday suffered a 12-21, 5-21 defeat at the hands of Carolina Marin in the final of the Swiss Open here.

Marin was at her best in the match and while Sindhu gave a bit of competition in the first game, the Spanish shuttler completely dominated her opponent in the second game to easily win the women’s singles title. In the second game, Marin did not let Sindhu settle and took a massive 14-2 lead. The Indian shuttler had no answers to Marin’s aggressive gameplay and went on to lose the match that lasted for 35 minutes.

On Saturday, Sindhu had progressed to the final of the tournament after registering a straight games win over Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the semi-final. The Rio Olympics silver medalist had clinched the clash 22-20, 21-10 that lasted for 43 minutes.

While, Spanish badminton player, Marin, had beaten Pornpawee Chochuwong 21-15, 20-22, 21-19 in the semifinal to set up the summit clash with the India shuttler.

After the game on Saturday, Sindhu had admitted that the final won’t be an easy match. “Am happy that I am through to the finals, it’s been a good win today for me, and playing against Mia was a kind of revenge because in Thailand I had lost against her so this win was very important for me,” Sindhu had said.

“Yeah really looking forward to the finals. Carolina is a good player so it won’t be an easy match, I have to play my 100 per cent,” she had added.

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Srinu, Sudha win national marathon but fall short of Tokyo cut



Vizianagaram’s Srinu Bugatha came tantalisingly close to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics while comfortably winning the 6th edition of the Ageas Federal Life Insurance New Delhi Marathon here on Sunday.

The Army Sports Institute’s ace runner clocked a personal best of 2 hours 14 minutes and 59 seconds which was just shy of the 2 hours 11 minutes and 30 seconds that he was targeting to earn himself a run in the world’s Blue Riband event.

Asian Games gold medallist Sudha Singh, who was aiming for her own hat-trick of Olympic appearances, won the women’s title in 2:43:41. That was, however, off the national record of 2:30.00 which would have earned her a ticket to Tokyo.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who presided over the prize-distribution ceremony, exhorted both of them to continue to chase their dreams of representing the country at the upcoming Olympics.  

“I congratulate you for your victories and your efforts to attain the qualifying mark. I am sure your hard work will soon get the desired results and that you will do it in the near future as you get into your rhythm,” Rijiju said.

Chief Marketing Officer of Ageas Federal Life Insurance, Karthik Raman, the title sponsor of the New Delhi Marathon, organised by NEB Sports under the aegis of Athletics Federation of India and Fit India, revealed that there was a buzz of excitement at the Race Headquarters as Srinu Bugatha seemed on course at the halfway mark.

“He had a very good run and we all thought that he would attain the qualifying mark,” Karthik Raman said. “Still, we are very pleased with his effort and are delighted to see as many as 1,000 runners turning up despite the ongoing pandemic,” he added.

Uttarakhand’s Nitendra Singh Rawat (2:18:54) and Army Sports Institute’s Rashpal Singh (2:18:57) clinched the silver and bronze medal in the men’s elite category while Maharashtra’s Jyoti Gawate (2:58:23) and Ladakh’s Jigmet Dolma (3:04:52) emulated them among the women.

“I was feeling good all along,” Srinu Bugatha said, after his exhilarating run. “It is disappointing not to make it after coming so close but I am pleased with myself and am confident that I will soon attain the qualifying mark,” he added.

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After Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia wins gold at Rome Ranking Series wrestling



Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia defeated Tulga Tumur Ochir of Mongolia to win gold in the 65 kg freestyle category at the Matteo Pelicone Rankings series in Rome. With this victory, Bajrang took revenge for his teammate Rohit’s loss against Tulga by 0-4 in the semi-final. Ochir was an Under 23 Asian Champion in 2019.

This is Bajrang’s second career victory over Tulga after the 2018 World Championship in Budapest where the Indian wrestler defeated him in the third round by 3-1. He was a runner-up in that event.

In semi-final, Bajrang defeated Joseph Christopher Me Kenna of the US by 6-3 and in the quartes he defeated Salim Kozan of Turkey by 7-0.

Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat won her second gold medal in two weeks as she defeated Canada’s Diana Weicker in the final of the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome, reclaiming the top rank in her category. The 26-year-old World bronze medallist and the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for the Tokyo Games, Vinesh blanked Canada’s Diana Mary Helen Weicker 4-0 in the 53kg title clash.

Vinesh, who had entered the event as world number three, scored all her points in the first period and held on to her lead in the second to ensure a top-of-the-podium finish. Vinesh had won a gold medal in Kyiv last week.

Vinesh did not concede a single point at this tournament, winning two of her three bouts by pinning her rivals while getting injury walkouts in the other two in the eight-woman field.

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AHMEDABAD: After the success over England in the Test series, India head coach Ravi Shastri on Sunday gave special mention to wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and said nobody can match what he has done in the last two months in even their entire lifetime. “At 21, I had similar success, so I can relate to what these guys have done. Yes, after IPL Pant came with a lot of baggage. He has trained harder than anyone. The results are not just for him to see but for the whole world to see,” Shastri said in a virtual press conference on Sunday. “When you have a naturally brilliant match-winner of his ability playing to the potential there is no greater sight for cricket. I think in the last two months what he has done for India, no one would ever do that in a lifetime. His keeping was outstanding,” he added.

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