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Preparation of AFC women’s Asian Cup is on right track, says coach Maymol

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New Delhi [India], February 20 (ANI): Indian women’s football team head coach Maymol Rocky feels the side is on the right track in their preparation of the Asian Cup despite a 2-0 loss against Serbia earlier this week.
The Indian women’s team played its first match after lockdown against Serbia in Turkey and faced a 2-0 defeat on Wednesday.
Despite the loss, coach Rocky stressed the positives which emerged from the game and downplayed the loss saying that Serbia is the superior side than India.
“We played a match against Serbia wherein we went down 0-2. But looking back, the positives which emerged from the match are immense. Technically, Serbia are a much superior side than us in comparison to our new-look team,” the AIFF website quoted Maymol as saying.
“We had our chances but failed to convert them. We played at a high intensity. This is just the start and makes me believe that we are on the right track in our preparation for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022,” she added.
Captain Sangita Basfore admitted that getting back to playing international football is a “different feeling.”
“It’s almost as exciting as playing for your country for the first time. Sporting activities had come to a standstill due to the lockdown. But we had continued to train indoors over regular zoom meetings,” said Sangita.
“The two-month camp in Goa enabled us to shrug off all the sluggishness and focus ahead. Getting back to playing international football is a completely different feeling,” Sangita expressed.
Talking about the match against Serbia, Sangita pointed out that the coach has noted the points where the side needs to improve for going forward.
“The match was a tough one. Serbia were a superior side. The most significant aspect is that such matches are part of our learning curve. The coach has jotted down the areas for improvement and we have been working on improving those areas,” said Sangita. (ANI)

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Indian men’s hockey team return to international competition with roaring win against Germany

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Krefeld [Germany], February 28 (ANI): Playing their first international match in over 12 months, the Indian men’s hockey team led by PR Sreejesh put up a scintillating show as they outclassed hosts Germany 6-1 in the first of their four-match Europe tour on Sunday.
India’s goal scorers were Nilakanta Sharma (13′), Vivek Sagar Prasad (27′, 28′), Lalit Kumar Upadhyay (41′), Akashdeep Singh (42′), and Harmanpreet Singh (47′), who outplayed the hosts and led their team to a winning start on their first assignment of 2021.
Hungry to perform, the Indian men’s hockey team played with an intent to win. They went on an attacking mode right from the start, putting pressure on the German line-up. After creating potential opportunities in the striking circle, India earned a penalty corner in the 13th minute of the first quarter, which saw midfielder Nilakanta Sharma breaking the deadlock for the visitors.
However, in the next minute, the German forward Constantin Staib scored an equaliser making the scoreline 1-1 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter started with the hosts putting pressure on India and earned themselves two back-to-back PCs in the initial minutes. The Indian side made brilliant saves and created a quick counterattack which led to midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad scoring two back-to-back goals in the 27th and 28th minute taking India’s lead to 3-1 at half-time.
In the 3rd quarter, the hosts started off on the front foot again and earned as many as six PCs. However, the Indian penalty corner defence led by Skipper PR Sreejesh held sway to thwart each of the German’s attempts. Soon after a solid display in defence, Indian forwards Lalit Kumar Upadhyay and Akashdeep Singh netted scored brilliant goals in the 41st and 42nd minute, respectively to put the world number four Indian team in the driver’s seat, leading the scoreline 5-1 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
Another glorious opportunity came for the Indian men at the 47th minute in the form of a PC, which saw a direct flick from Harmanpreet Singh giving India a 6-1 lead in the first match. Playing under pressure, the hosts did try hard to make a comeback, and they even pulled out their goalkeeper to put an extra attacker in the team but a great overall performance from the Indian side ensured a 6-1 victory.
“It was absolutely thrilling to play after so long and the coach’s advice to us was ‘go and enjoy the game’ and so we did. This was the same German side who are playing the FIH Hockey Pro League matches, and I feel we did well against this squad, considering we were playing after a year. We had worked a lot on individual skills and had planned tactical play against Germany back in the camp. We just had to execute it today and it was really exciting to be back with a win,” stated PR Sreejesh after the scintillating performance.
After a day’s break, the Indian men’s team will take on hosts Germany on Tuesday, March 2. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Rohit wondering about what pitch would be like in 4th Test

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 28 (ANI): India batsman Rohit Sharma on Sunday took a cheeky dig at the pitch critics, saying he is also wondering about what the 22 yards would be like in the upcoming fourth Test against England.
Rohit posted a photo of himself on Instagram in which he is lying on the ground and he captioned the post as: “Wondering what the pitch would be like for 4th Test.”
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners.
But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. After the match, Rohit had clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams.
“It was a nice pitch to bat on, once you are in, you can score runs as you saw. You just need to apply yourself and keep concentrating in order to score runs. If you look at the Chennai Test match, the second Test, it was turning hell of a lot than it did here. A lot of the batters got runs there in the second Test, in this Test, we need to be honest to ourselves and accept that we did not bat well,” Rohit had said during a virtual press conference after the third Test came to an end.
“In Chennai, it had a lot more to offer than this, we batted well on that wicket. We learn from our mistakes, guys applied themselves, Ashwin got 100 in the second innings of the second Test, Ajinkya got 50, Virat got 60-odd. If you apply yourselves, you can score runs. We accept as a batting unit, that we did not bat as well we would have liked to in this Test. We just need to take it to ourselves and we need to get back to the drawing board,” he added.
In the ongoing series, Rohit, Axar Patel, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash. (ANI)

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ISL 7: Goa hold Hyderabad to enter playoffs, set new unbeaten record

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Panaji (Goa) [India], February 28 (ANI): All FC Goa needed to progress to the playoffs was a draw. That they achieved with an efficient performance as they held Hyderabad FC (HFC) to a goalless draw at the Fatorda Stadium here on Sunday, setting a new Indian Super League (ISL) record for the longest unbeaten run in the process.
A brilliant defensive performance from Ivan Gonzalez and some crucial saves from Dheeraj Singh was enough for the Gaurs to get the point they needed. They were lucky not to concede late in the game and a good show from Hyderabad was not enough to stop Juan Ferrando’s men from qualifying for their fourth consecutive semifinals and extending their unbeaten run to 13 games.
Hyderabad is still unbeaten in 2021 and extended their unbeaten run to 12 games, but they had to settle for fifth on the table.
Playing without their main players was always going to be difficult for Hyderabad. They missed the services of their regular scorer Aridane Santana (fourth yellow) upfront and Chinglensana Singh (red card) in defence. But the Nizams were up for the challenge and were able to match their opponents.
HFC made it difficult for Goa with incessant pressing all over the pitch and had a few chances in the opening minutes. What they lacked was the poacher’s instincts in the final third.
Goa, as usual, dominated possession and passing but they could not convert it into chances. The first half had zero shots on target as neither goalkeeper was called into action much.
Both sides have scored more goals in the second session and Goa rang in an early warning when Alberto Noguera set Redeem Tlang free on the left. The winger covered some distance and crossed to Alexander Jesuraj, who was late to react.
With HFC trying to get the required goal to progress, tempers flared along with the pressure as Edu Bedia, Tlang and Joao Victor went into the referee’s books within a span of nine minutes.
Hyderabad had their best opportunity in the 84th minute. Victor chipped in a delightful ball into the box from outside the box. Joel Chianese and Liston Colaco, both of whom made runs in behind, failed to head in from close range.
After being withdrawn, Lluis Sastre was shown a red for throwing a bottle at the Goa bench. Noguera also received a yellow and will miss the first leg of the playoffs.
Hyderabad nearly took the lead in the injury time but Gonzalez came with a crucial interception to deny Liston Colaco from scoring a simple tap-in. Later, Adil Khan almost scored an own goal but an alert Dheeraj pulled off a stunning save to send his team into the playoffs. (ANI)

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Hyderabad capable of conducting IPL as per BCCI directives, says Azhar

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New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Former India skipper and current president of Hyderabad Cricket Association, Mohammed Azharuddin on Sunday said that Hyderabad is capable of conducting the Indian Premier League (IPL) this year in a bio-secure bubble.
“I strongly support the appeal by @ktrtrs. Hyderabad is absolutely capable of handling and conducting @IPL as per @BCCI’s directives and preparing a bio-secure bubble,” Azharuddin tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) working president KT Rama Rao made an appeal to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and IPL office bearers to include Hyderabad as one of the venues for the upcoming edition of the league.
“Open appeal to @BCCI and @IPL office bearers to include Hyderabad as one of the venues for upcoming IPL season. Our effective COVID containment measures are reflected in our low number of cases among all metro cities in India & we assure you of all support from the Govt,” Rao said in a tweet.
Progressing from the initial idea of hosting the 2021 edition of the IPL in one city, the BCCI is exploring the option of playing the league across four to five cities. While the logistical part will need further discussion, the idea has been floated and is being discussed by the senior officials of the board.
Earlier, speaking to ANI, a BCCI official in the know of developments had said the idea has indeed been discussed and while it is still early days, the 14th edition of the league could well be played in more than one city if things go as per plan.
“We are exploring the possibility of conducting the IPL at more venues than originally planned. The intent is to take it to more fans as the situation is moving towards normalcy. The feasibility of the bio-secure bubble and logistics will of course be crucial to determine the venues finally. It is a fluid situation and the health of the participants is our primary concern,” the official had said.
Some of the cities that have been discussed are Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad among others. While the tournament is still some time away, franchises too are open to the idea of having the league in more than one city as that will help to stay flexible with an eye on the COVID-19 situation.
“With multiple cities, obviously there will be individual bubbles. While we want fans from different cities to enjoy the games, the safety of the players and those involved in the league will be a priority,” the BCCI official had said. (ANI)

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Indian women’s hockey side display spirit in losing effort against Germany

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Dusseldorf [Germany], February 28 (ANI): Indian women’s hockey team battled hard but went down 1-0 to world number three Germany in the second match of the four-match series here in Dusseldorf on Sunday.
Amelie Wortmann (24′) scored the only goal of the game as the Germans held on to their slender lead to take a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
Coach Sjoerd Marijne made three changes to the side that lost 5-0 on Saturday. Just like the tournament opener, the hosts tried to make early inroads and earned a penalty corner just three minutes into the game.
India goalkeeper Rajani, though, held firm to thwart Germany’s efforts. The Indian defence grew into the game and were solid at the back to keep the score goalless after the first quarter.
However, midfielder Amelie Wortmann put her side in the lead six minutes before the end of the second quarter. The Indian side responded quickly, earning a penalty corner just three minutes after going behind, but were unable to breach past the German backline.
The Germans had the chance to double their lead early into the third quarter after being awarded another penalty corner, but yet again, the resolute Indian defence kept them at bay.
The Indian side continued to frustrate the Germans, this time in the fourth quarter, as they kept out a penalty corner for the third time in the match. But Germany protected their lead to earn a hard-fought win.
India will now take on Germany in their third match on Tuesday, March 2. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Hosts sweat it out in nets ahead of fourth Test

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 28 (ANI): Ahead of the upcoming fourth Test against England, Virat Kohli-led India on Sunday had a grind in the nets and everyone was seen having a hit in the middle.
Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) official handle tweeted the photos from the training session and captioned the post as: “#TeamIndia members gearing up for the fourth and final Test against England.”
In the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, Axar Patel, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Kohli would look to come to the party and end his century-drought.
Kohli had last scored a century way back in 2019 in a day-night Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens.
If India manages to win or draw the final Test against England, then the side would qualify for the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) and the side would take on New Zealand in the summit clash.
On the other hand, England is now out of the WTC final contention after losing the third Test against India.
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the pink-ball Test. The match saw both India and England batsmen failing to shine and getting out to balls that did not turn and skidded through from the spinners.
But critics have looked to blame the pitch for the failure of the batsmen. India batsman Rohit Sharma clarified that he did not think the pitch had any demons. Even skipper Virat Kohli was vocal about the dreadful batting display from the two teams. (ANI)

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