Ace spinner and Indian cricketer, who was part of the 2011 winning World Cup team, Piyush Chawla spoke with The Daily Guardian.
Q: How has this lockdown been for you? What have you been doing for the last couple of months?
A: It has been tough to stay at home for so long. But I never got so much time with my family before. I am enjoying spending time with them.
Q: We are in the beginning of May. The IPL was supposed to start. You specially look forward towards the IPL as that is one tournament in which you have done exceptionally well.
A: The importance of IPL is huge and I am missing it. More than IPL, I miss being on the ground. It’s a high profile tournament and as a player you get challenged throughout on the field which I love.
Q: You were going to play with the Chennai Super Kings in 2020, under the captaincy of M.S. Dhoni. You have played under his captaincy before. Were you looking forward to that as well?
A: Definitely I was looking forward to play for CSK under Mahi Bhai. We all know what kind of a team CSK is and the reputation it has. The kind of fan following they get with the support. The way MSD leads the team is always something to look forward to. Being a part of CSK is always nice.
Q: You have played under so many captains, who’s been your favourite and for what reason?
A: To name one would be very difficult. I have played under MSD and Gautam Gambhir. Both are very different. One is aggressive and the other one is very calm. These two are my favourites… They are different individuals and have a different way of thinking. One thing they both have similar, which is very important for the team, is that they believe in the player. It’s not like you have two bad games and they will take you out, they will give you longer runs and believe in you.
Q: You are the second youngest Test debutant for India. You were 17 years and 75 days when you made your debut for the Indian Test team. How important is it for every country that plays Test cricket to keep the tradition and culture of Test cricket alive? There are many experiments that are being done, you are playing under the light, you are playing with a pink ball. Is all this necessary to keep the game alive in its purest form?
A: As you said, it’s the purest form of the game. Test cricket is something a cricketer looks forward to play. Test cricket tests yours cricketing skills and therefore is called test cricket. Pink balls and playing under lights are just experiments, but five days of testing cricket is fun. Fiveday games are when you are tested.
Q: What are your thoughts on what is going around in the world, the Covid-19 fight?
A: These are tough times we all are going through. I can just urge everyone to stay at home and stay safe. Just pray that this gets over soon. Looking at the current situation it looks like it will take some more time.
Q: How do you think India has done in the fight against Covid-19, if you compare us to other countries from around the world?
A: We are doing very well, if you see the numbers right now at a lot of places in India and compare it to other countries. The number of people we have—the second largest population in the world. Keeping all these facts in mind, we have done a commendable job.
Q: What do you think will be the impact of the pandemic on the sporting world? The Olympics have been postponed, the NBA is not being played, everything has been put off.
A: Sports can wait. Right now, the most important aspect is to go back to a normal life, the way things were before the lockdown. It will affect sports as it is affecting everything else. I’ve not though about it. Once things go back to normal is when we will put our minds to it.
Q: What about cricket? IPL has been postponed. T-20 World Cup, which was supposed to happen in Australia, will also be under a lot of cloud. A lot of cricket will be missed this year.
A: Cricket, IPL, World Cup can wait. The most important thing right now is concentrating on our heath and being aware of our surroundings. And make sure we and the people around us are safe. To make sure all of us get out of this safely.
Q: As a cricketer, do you worry about your fitness? You can go to the gym at home, but net practice, fast bowling is something that is considered sacrosanct in a cricketer’s regimen. Is that a cause for worry?
A: We are all worried about our fitness. Not getting any kind of practice is worrying. But getting back to cricket with all the experience which all the cricketers have, one month of practice should be good. Once this is all over, we will need one month to 45 days to get back in shape to play.
Q: What have you been doing to keep fit?
A: I have a few weights at home, I do those. I am talking to trainers online as that helps. I have to give one and a half hours to myself and with so much time right now, it’s not a problem to take some time to work out in a day.
Q: The 2011 World Cup team— obviously there are a lot of reasons to bond over what happened years ago. Are you in touch with all your mates and teammates from then?
A: I am not in touch with everyone, but I am in touch with most of them on and off. I speak to Yuvi Bhai and Mahi Bhai. We keep talking about cricket on and off. Nine years is a very long association to have with someone. A lot of things have, of course, changed. There were players who were not even married at the time but now have kids. There will always be more topics to be discussed.
Q: In today’s time, with the current Indian cricket team, will we be able to replicate what you guys did in 2011? Who do you think is a formidable spinner in the Indian team today?
A: The team is going very well and is doing a good job. Chahal is very good, Kuldeep is a skillful bowler. These two will be very good.
Q: How have we done as a team when it comes to Test ranks? We have already lost to Australia, we did maintain that crown for a very long time. How do you think we have fared in all the avenues of cricket in the last couple of years?
A: In Test cricket we are doing well. Unfortunately, we lost the World Cup in the semis, but that is ok—it’s a part and parcel of the game. But as a team we are doing very well. It’s amazing to see them play. Earlier the team used to depend on select players, who used to shape the game. For the past 10 to 12 years, it’s been a team game.
Q: We saw your former captain Gautam Gambhir join politics. You are not retired as of now. But once you do are there any aspirations to join politics?
A: It’s too early to say anything right now, because I’ve still got five to six years of cricket left in me. Honestly speaking, I have not though about it. If I could do some good towards the country or where I come from, I would definitely do that.
Q: Any skills you have picked up during this lockdown?
A: Well, to be honest, my sleep cycle has become very good. Earlier I was sleeping six hours a day, now I sleep about 10 to 12 hours, which is very good for me.
Q: What message would you like to convey to your fans who were eager to watch you play in the IPL?
A: The only message I would convey to everyone is, stay at home and stay safe. The most important thing is to help the people around you. From cricketing point of view, once life is back to normal, we will see you on the field.
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AIBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: EIGHT INDIAN BOXERS SAIL INTO FINALS
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
TOKYO OLYMPICS: BRAZIL, GERMANY IN SAME GROUP IN MEN’S FOOTBALL
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.
BABAR AZAM MOVES TO 2ND POSITION, KOHLI FIRM AT FIFTH SPOT
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.
INTER MILAN, ATLETICO MADRID WITHDRAW FROM EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE
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
CONFIDENT ROYAL CHALLENGERS HOPE TO KEEP THE JUGGERNAUT ROLLING AGAINST RAJASTHAN ROYALS
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.
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.
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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