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Pick best XI for India, age should not be criteria: Tendulkar

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By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi [India], March 19 (ANI): After a slow start, India Legends skipper Sachin Tendulkar has hit fifth gear going into the business end of the ongoing Road Safety World Series in Raipur. While he hit a 37-ball 60 in the last group-stage game against South Africa Legends, he smashed a 42-ball 65 in the semi-final against West Indies. But the maestro says it has not been easy returning to the crease as the body refuses to listen to the heart at times.
Speaking to ANI, Tendulkar threw light on the highly-competitive action in the tournament, the message he wants to pass to the citizens when it comes to maintaining road safety and his take on the ever-present debate on whether experienced or youngsters should be backed to play for the country.
Videos have surfaced of Tendulkar undergoing sessions with the team physios as he plies his trade for India Legends in the Road Safety World Series and the Master Blaster makes no bones about the fact that the body is not getting any younger. But he does wish to thank the physios for preparing him for matches.
“Body, it has not been easy. Even before, I got here to participate in the tournament, while preparing, I hurt my back and that kept me out for about 10 days before I could get back to it very slowly. We have two physios Vaibhav Daga and Saif. Both have really helped because I have had problems, the back problems and knee. The forearms also went into spasm, needed needles to relax them. Those kind of things are continuing to happen, that are part and parcel. Number of players are having niggles and injuries here and there, but they are happy to be here for a good cause,” he smiled.
Road safety is a cause very close to Tendulkar’s heart and the legend says that the reaction from the people has been nothing short of excellent and he wishes for people to show more patience while on the road and try and avoid taking rash calls whether while riding a bike or driving a car.
“We are here for a cause and people are taking notice of what we are looking to do. The reaction has been very good, the crowds have responded brilliantly. I have always said this that when people react this way then it’s the best tonic for any athlete. The appreciation transpires into making something special on the field.
“It has actually happened because a number of legends go out there and play some spectacular cricket. People are enjoying, and it gives all of us an opportunity to relive those moments. Earlier, when we played actively, it just allowed us to do that. Here, I would want to thank the six teams for taking the time out to spread this message, this is important,” he pointed.
Elaborating further on the need to be safe on the road, Tendulkar said: “Every four minutes we are losing lives in India. While people are riding two-wheelers, 50 per cent of the accidents are happening in the age group of 18-35 because of not wearing helmets. You know number of lives are lost because we are not doing the basic things. Pillions riders don’t wear helmets. The drivers and passengers choose not to wear seat belts when driving a car.
“Life is precious, one cannot because of carelessness, put life in danger or someone else’s life in danger. That’s why I feel patience is required. When we were small, we would have piggybanks where we would collect our pocket money and save. Similarly, if we show little bit of patience every day and allow elderly people to cross roads, honk less and do these little things, that is a piggybank of blessings. Every time you are helping visually impaired or elders to cross the road, you are earning blessings and all you have to do is stop for five seconds. These small things can really change our mindset, it is really important that we decide to every day fill our piggybank with blessings.”
Any talk with Tendulkar is incomplete without discussing Indian cricket and with the T20 World Cup coming up later in the year, debates have once again started on whether youngsters should be given a go with an eye on the showpiece event. The maestro feels that selectors must pick the best XI irrespective of age.
“One thing I would like to clarify here is that it is not just about picking youngsters. It is about picking capable players, you are talking about the Indian cricket team, age should not be criteria. It is about what you are able to deliver and that is what matters, not age. If somebody is able to perform and may not be a young cricketer, but if you are able to perform you should be playing for India.
“Talking about youngsters, if you are able to perform then he rightfully deserves it. But if he is not able to perform, then maybe there are options you can look at. It is just not about age, it is a misconception that you should promote youngsters. I feel we should be picking our best 11. We should be picking our best 14-15 member squad and the best balance is known to the selection committee and it should be left to them,” he pointed.
Two guys who have managed to impress in the ongoing T20I series against England are Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. Tendulkar believes playing top-quality bowlers in the Indian Premier League has readied the youngsters for the tough challenges on the international stage.
“As far as Suryakumar and Ishan are concerned, they both have done really well, they have not looked out of place at all and there is a reason for that. They played against all these guys a number of times. Yesterday, one of the commentators said that Surya has played against Archer and Stokes like as good as playing against Rajasthan Royals.
“For us, when I went to Pakistan and Australia, I was playing all those bowlers for the first time and that was at international level, so here the beauty is that they have played against top bowlers in the IPL and then playing against them for India, it is a big difference, you know what to expect from them and that is what has happened. That is the beauty of our structure and we can noticeably see that our bench strength is really good,” he explained. (ANI)

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AIBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: EIGHT INDIAN BOXERS SAIL INTO FINALS

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Indian pugilists posted a historic performance at AIBA Youth Men’s and Women’s World Boxing Championships as 8 boxers, including seven women and 1 male boxer sailed into final on eighth day in Kielce, Poland.

All the 7 Indian women boxers had put up a flawless performance as the pugilists had won their bouts as they progressed into the finals and will be aiming to add the yellow metal to their name. In the first bout of the day, Gitika (48kg) set the tone for the Indian contingent with a resounding 5-0 win over Italy’s Erika Prisciandaro. She will take on Poland’s Natalia Dominika in the final. In another bout, 2019 Asian Youth Champion Babyrojisana Chanu (51 kg) made light work of Italy’s Elen Ayari and won the match comfortably.

The Manipuri Boxer attacked with a lot of intensity and earned a unanimous 5-0 verdict in her favour. She will square off against Russia’s Valeria Linkova in finals on Thursday. Poonam continued her unbeaten international record as she blanked Uzbekistan’s Sitora Turdibekova 5-0 to set up the summit clash with France’s Sthelyne Grosy.

Vinka (60kg) put up an equally impressive show to secure a 4-1 win over Veronika Gajdova of The Czech Republic. She will be up against Kazakhstan’s Zhuldyz Shayakhmetova in the gold medal bout. Rajasthan’s Arundhati Choudhary (69kg) too outpunched her opponent from Uzbekistan, Khadichabonu Abdullaeva to register an easy 5-0 victory in the semis. She will take on Poland’s Barbara Marcinkowska in the final clash.

In the 75 kg middleweight semi-final clash, Sanamcha Chanu endured some early resistance from local girl Daria Parada of Poland but Chanu came back strongly in the last two rounds to win the bout with a split verdict (4-1). She will take on Kazakhstan’s Dana Diya in the gold medal match. Alfiya Pathan faced tough competition from Poland’s Oliwia Toborek as she couldn’t find her rhythm in the initial round. In second round, she went all-out attack and continued her onslaught in the next round as well and in the process, landed more punches than her opponent to prevail in a 3-2 split verdict in a busy and intense bout. WITH ANI INPUTS

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TOKYO OLYMPICS: BRAZIL, GERMANY IN SAME GROUP IN MEN’S FOOTBALL

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The 28 teams that have qualified for the Olympic football tournaments discovered their group opponents after the official draw was conducted in Zurich on Wednesday. 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams have been drawn into seven groups.

In the men’s event, Brazil and Germany, who faced off in the Rio 2016 final, were sent into Group D also comprising Cote d’Ivoire, Saudi Arabia. Egypt, Spain, Argentina, and Australia have been placed in Group C Japan was first out of the pot and drawn in Group A. They will face South Africa, Mexico, and France. In what will be the opening match of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Japan will take on South Africa in Tokyo Stadium.

Group G in the women’s tournament not only features the two co-hosts of the next FIFA Women’s World Cup, Australia and New Zealand, but it also gives the USA the chance for Olympic revenge over a Sweden side that eliminated them from Rio 2016 on penalties.

Japan will kick off the women’s finals against Canada, with Great Britain and Chile making up the section, while China PR, Brazil, Zambia and Netherlands comprise the other pool.

The women’s finalists will fight for the gold medal at Tokyo’s iconic new Olympic Stadium, which will also be the setting for the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies. Sapporo, Miyagi, Kashima, Saitama, and Yokohama (Men’s Final) will contribute to the Olympic passion by hosting exciting games until August 7, 2021.

“The draws were conducted by Jaime Yarza, FIFA Director of Tournaments, and Sarai Bareman, FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer. They were assisted by two FIFA Legends: Lindsay Tarpley, member of the USA women’s national team and two-time Olympic gold medallist, and Ryan Nelsen, captain of the New Zealand Olympic squad in 2008 and London 2012,” a FIFA statement read.

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BABAR AZAM MOVES TO 2ND POSITION, KOHLI FIRM AT FIFTH SPOT

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India skipper Virat Kohli remained firm at the fifth spot but Pakistan captain Babar Azam advanced one place to reach the second position in the ICC men’s T20I player rankings released on Wednesday.

Babar’s brilliant form had helped him replace Kohli at the top of the men’s ODI player rankings last week and this week’s T20I update sees him make a strong 47-point surge to overtake Australia’s Aaron Finch in the T20I rankings after scoring 122 in the third match. Though Babar is still 48 points adrift of top-ranked Dawid Malan of England, a three-match series against Zimbabwe from Wednesday presents the 26-year-old with another opportunity to move towards the top spot, which he had occupied till November last year.

Fakhar Zaman’s is a similar story as he follows up his progress in the ODI rankings with that in T20Is, gaining 17 slots to reach 33rd position after scores of eight not out and 60 in the last two matches.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who notched an unbeaten knock of 73 in the third match, has advanced eight places to reach a career-best 15th position.

Left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has attained a career best-equaling 11th spot after grabbing a wicket each in the two matches while Faheem Ashraf (up 12 places to 16th), Mohammad Nawaz (up four places to 24th) and Haris Rauf (up 43 places to 38th) have also moved up in the bowlers’ list.

For South Africa, Rassie van der Dussen has advanced three slots to the sixth position, just one shy of his career-best, after scores of 34 not out and 52.

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INTER MILAN, ATLETICO MADRID WITHDRAW FROM EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE

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Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid have announced that they will be no longer part of the proposed European Super League project. On Sunday, 12 of Europe’s elite clubs were named as founding members of the breakaway project, designed to rival the UEFA Champions League. “FC Internazionale Milano confirm that the Club is no longer part of the Super League project. We are always committed to giving fans the best football experience; innovation and inclusion are part of our DNA since our foundation. Our engagement with all stakeholders to improve the football industry will never change,” Inter said in a statement.

“Inter believes that football, like every sector of activity, must have an interest in constantly improving its competitions, to keep on exciting fans of all ages around the world, within a framework of financial sustainability. With this vision we look forward to carry on working together with institutions and all stakeholders for the future of the sport we all love,” it added.

Atletico Madrid said: “Atletico de Madrid’s Board of Directors, which met on Wednesday morning, has decided to formally communicate to the Super League and the rest of the founding clubs its decision not to finally formalise its adhesion to the project. Atletico de Madrid took the decision on Monday to join the project due to circumstances that no longer exist today. For the club, harmony between all the groups that make up the Red & White family, especially our fans, is essential. The first team squad and the coach have expressed their satisfaction with the club’s decision, as they understand that sporting merits must prevail over any other criteria.”

Earlier, all six Premier League clubs—Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur involved in proposed European Super League withdrew from competition. Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and AC Milan are still part of European Super League but Barcelona’s participation is in doubt as the club could withdraw if their members vote against participation.

On Monday, FIFA had also expressed its disapproval for the proposed league. Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) president Aleksander Ceferin has also said that players will be banned from the World Cup and Euros if they participate in the European Super League.

WITH ANI INPUTS

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CONFIDENT ROYAL CHALLENGERS HOPE TO KEEP THE JUGGERNAUT ROLLING AGAINST RAJASTHAN ROYALS

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This has been the best opening the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) could have hoped for. Virat Kolhi’s team is currently at the top of table in IPL 2021, winning first three games comprehensively. And he would like to keep the juggernaut rolling when RCB take on Rajasthan Royals in an IPL match in Mumbai on Thursday.

The Royals so far have a mixed tournament, winning only one of their three fixtures. They lost to Chennai Super Kings in their previous match to slip down to the sixth spot. Sanju Samson and his men will be eyeing a second win at the Wankhade Stadium.

Samson and boys have struggled to perform as a cohesive batting unit. While the skipper led the team to within touching distance of victory with his sensational century against Punjab Kings, it was the South African duo of David Miller and Chris Morris that pulled off a win against the Delhi Capitals. Against CSK, opener Jos Buttler looked dangerous but other batsmen failed to provide any valuable contributions.

Their bowling unit has not fired well as a unit. Pacer Jaydev Unadkat shone against the Delhi Capitals, registering the impressive figures of 3/15, while young Chetan Sakariya has shown promise. But as a unit they need to do more. In the absence of Jofra Archer, more will be expected out of the likes of Chris Morris and Bangladesh speedster Mustafizur Rahman.

For RCB, A.B. de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell have been the standout batsmen. While the South African continues to deliver season after season, the Australian all-rounder is proving to be a valuable addition to the middle order. Kohli has got decent starts in a couple of games but a big knock is eagerly awaited. Young Devdutt Padikkal, who impressed everyone last season, has been out of form.

The RCB bowling department has been impressive with pacers Harshal Patel and Mohammed Siraj boasting economy rate of of 5.75 and 5.81 respectively. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed (3/7) helped the team win the match in just one over against the Sunrisers.

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Sun finally rises in Hyderabad camp after three straight losses

Bairstow shines after Khaleel, Abhishek show to help Sunrisers Hyderabad register nine-wicket win over Punjab Kings.

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After Khaleel Ahmed and Abhishek Sharma decimated opponents with their fine bowling performance, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) opener Jonny Bairstow smashed a fifty to steer the David Warner-led side to a comfortable nine-wicket win over Punjab Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday. This was the first victory for SRH after losing three straight games in this season’s IPL.

SRH’s Khaleel Ahmed celebrates the wicket of Shahrukh Khan, in Chennai on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)Jonny Bairstow of Sunrisers Hyderabad plays a shot during, at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday. ANI

A brilliant bowling effort from Khaleel and Abhishek had helped SRH restrict Punjab Kings to a paltry 120 in 19.4 overs. In response, SRH (121/1) chased down the target with eight balls to spare, thanks to a dominating batting performance by Bairstow.

David Warner and Bairstow (63*) started off the chase in dominating manner, taking SRH to 50 in style in six overs. In the next four overs, Warner slowed down a bit but Bairstow continued his onslaught and smashed timely boundaries. While Warner did try to up the ante, Fabian Allen removed the SRH skipper in the 11th over to give Punjab Kings a glimmer of hope. But Bairstow and Kane Williamson didn’t allow Punjab Kings to capitalise as the duo stitched a 48-run partnership to take SRH over the line quite comfortably in the 19th over.

Earlier, after opting to bat first, Punjab Kings got off to bad start as they lost skipper K.L. Rahul in the fourth over. Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal then stitched a partnership but Khaleel Ahmed ended Mayank’s stay in the seventh over.

Deepak Hooda and Moises Henriques tried to revive Punjab’s innings, but without much success as Abhishek sent them back to see Punjab lose six wickets with just 82 runs on board. Shahrukh did manage to take Punjab past 100-run mark, but the right-handed batsman wasn’t able to convert it into the big one.

In the final two overs, Punjab Kings picked 10 runs to give SRH a 121-run target.

Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 120 (Shahrukh Khan 22, Mayank Agarwal 22; Khaleel Ahmed 3-21); SRH 121/1 (Jonny Bairstow 63*; Fabian Allen 1-22)

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