Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], February 12 (ANI): Hockey Jharkhand defeated 4-time champions Hockey Haryana in 2018 to lift the Hockey India Junior Women’s National Championship (A Div) title, a marquee domestic fixture held in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
They repeated this feat in 2019 when they beat Hockey Haryana yet again in the Final by 2-1 to defend their title. This dominant performance at the domestic level has witnessed a surge in young players emerging from the tribal belt of Jharkhand and some of them have even found success in the National Teams, both Senior and Junior.
“It was a huge moment for us. We beat Hockey Haryana 4-2 in the Final in 2018 and the team defended the title in 2019 by beating the same opponent Hockey Haryana 2-1 in the Final,” recalled Salima Tete who was part of Hockey Jharkhand’s win in 2018.
“I feel this dominance at the domestic level has brought the spotlight on players from Jharkhand,” opined Salima who was part of Indian eves recent tour of Argentina where she scored two goals in seven matches.
Currently, the Senior India squad has two players — Nikki Pradhan and Salima Tete from Jharkhand. Nikki also became the first hockey player from the state to feature in the prestigious Olympic Games when she represented India at the Rio Olympic Games. While Nikki is a seasoned midfielder in the Indian squad, Salima too has proven her mettle and continues to be a regular in the team.
In the Junior Women’s side, Jharkhand has a strong representation through young prodigies Beauty Dung Dung, Sushma Kumari, and Sangita Kumari who had a successful outing in the team’s tour of Chile where they remained unbeaten.
“Many players from Jharkhand hail from deprived economic background and hockey is the only way of life we know. The players from here have a burning desire to achieve and the recent success of the Indian Women’s Team has really changed how hockey is perceived in the state,” Salima said in a Hockey India release.
“There is a lot of focus on developing grassroot level hockey and many players are taking up the sport as a serious career option. It feels proud to see players emerge from my home state and are doing well for themselves in the National team,” she added.
With the Hockey India National Championships scheduled to resume from March this year, Salima is hopeful her state makes a hat-trick when they take on top teams from across India at the 11th Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2021 to be held on home turf in Simdega, Jharkhand.
“It will be a great moment for the state if they can bag a hat-trick of titles in front of a home crowd at the Junior Women’s National Championships this year. I know they were all geared up to achieve this last year itself, but the pandemic halted their plans,” said Salima who Captained the Indian Team at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, 2018 where the team won a historic Silver medal.
“There is tremendous scope for women’s hockey in India with a lot of recognition and accolades coming our way and I am hopeful more women’s players take up the sport in Jharkhand and make the Indian Team in the future,” she signed off.
Salima Tete is part of the Indian Women’s Core Probable Group for the Tokyo Olympic Games and she will join her teammates in SAI Centre, Bengaluru on February 14 for the National Coaching Camp. (ANI)
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Never intended to degrade, insult any league: Steyn apologises for IPL comment
New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): After sparking controversy over his remarks on the Indian Premier League (IPL), South Africa pacer Dale Steyn on Wednesday issued an apology and said his remarks were “never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues”.
Taking to Twitter, Steyn wrote: “IPL has been nothing short of amazing in my career, as well as other players too. My words were never intended to be degrading, insulting, or comparing of any leagues. Social media and words out of context can often do that. My apologies if this has upset anyone. Much love,” he added.
The speedster had said that sometimes emphasis may be placed on the amount a player is bought for in the IPL and as a result, cricket ends up taking a backseat.
The pacer had also hinted that other leagues are more rewarding to him as a player as compared to the most successful domestic T20 league — IPL. Steyn is currently playing for the Quetta Gladiators in the ongoing Pakistan Super League.
“I wanted some time off. I found that playing in these other leagues was slightly more rewarding as a player. I think when you go to IPL, there are such big squads and so many big names and so much emphasis on maybe the amount of money players earn and everything like that, so sometimes, somewhere down the line, cricket gets forgotten,” Steyn had told Cricket Pakistan.
India’s Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday rubbished all the claims which stated that sometimes the emphasis is on the money in the IPL rather than the game. Rahane, who has even captained teams in the showpiece event, said the IPL gave players the perfect platform to express themselves in the shortest format of the game.
“See, I am here to talk about the fourth Test match and not here to talk about PSL or Sri Lanka Premier League. IPL gave us that platform to express ourselves and also to a lot of Indians players. I am not sure what Dale Steyn has said, I am here to talk about this Test match,” Rahane had said during a virtual press conference.
The pacer had announced his retirement from Test cricket in August 2019 and he bid adieu to the longest format as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker with the red ball. (ANI)
When teams get bundled out for 40-45 on seaming tracks, nobody talks about that: Kohli
Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 3 (ANI): India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday agreed that spinning tracks do become a talking point quite often and he added that there is not much noise when a match finishes inside three days on a seaming track.
India had managed to defeat England by ten wickets within two days in the third Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium. 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.
“I totally believe that. There is always too much noise and conversation about spinning tracks. I am sure if our media is in a space to contradict those views or present those views which say it is unfair to criticise just spinning tracks then I think it will be a balanced conversation. The unfortunate part is that everyone plays along with that narrative and they keeping making it news till the time it is relevant,” said Kohli while replying to an ANI query during a virtual press conference.
“Then a Test match happens, if it finishes on day four and five, nobody says anything, but if it finishes inside two-three days, everyone pounces on the same issue, it becomes the issue everyone is talking about. We lost in New Zealand on day three in just 36 overs, I am sure nobody of our people wrote about the pitch, it was all about how India played badly in New Zealand and none of the pitches were criticised,” he added.
Elaborating further, Kohli said: “Nobody saw how much the ball was doing and how the ball was moving and how much grass was there on the wicket. The reason behind our success is that we never crib about the pitches we play on. We will continue that as a team, it is always been the case that spinning tracks come into focus way more, when teams get bundled out for 40-45 on seaming tracks, nobody talks about that.
“It is always about bad batting then, we need to be honest to ourselves from where we are talking and what is the idea behind continuing this narrative and what serves the people by talking about this narrative.”
When asked about his battle with James Anderson, Kohli said: “Anderson is a world-class bowler, I probably would have thought about how to handle him in 2014, from then onwards, I have treated every bowler as someone who is running in, I always look to play the ball, not the bowler. Having said that, he has gotten quite closed to dismissing me a few times, a couple of catches were dropped, I could have been out to him in the last Test as well, but that does not make anyone someone’s bunny. These are conversations quite one-sided, it just becomes a conversation when me and Jimmy are against each other.
“We have a lot of respect for each other’s skill sets, he is one of the best bowlers going around, you have to be at the top of your game when facing him. He hasn’t dismissed me in the last few games, but that does not make him any less of a potent bowler,” he added.
Kohli last scored a century way back in 2019 and he has not been able to get the three figures since then. When asked whether this is troubling him, Kohli said: I am not in any haste or desperation because I understand where I stand as a batsman and what is my responsibility in the team. People look at milestones, if the team does not do well, then they look at captaincy.
“If the team does well but that batsman doesn’t score, they look at individual scores. For me, these are just issues oscillating between one another. My responsibility is to score runs and make sure I keep pushing the team forward and get involved in partnerships. Along that process, milestones happen, then it’s great, but in the end, the team should win.”
The four-match series is currently being led by India (2-1) and the hosts just need to win or draw the final Test to qualify for the final of the World Test Championship (WTC).
On the other hand, England is out of WTC’s final contention, and they would be playing just to end the four-match series 2-2. If England win the last Test, then Australia would qualify for the WTC final. (ANI)
Youngsters express gratitude to coach Stimac for showing ‘trust’ in them
New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): Dreamy-eyed youngsters — some of them first-timers in a senior India national team camp — sounded ecstatic on finding their names in Igor Stimac’s list of 35 probables for India’s forthcoming international friendlies against Oman and UAE, both of which are scheduled to be played in Dubai on March 25 and 29 respectively.
However, none of them are willing to bask in glory despite being named in the list of 35 probables. Rather, they wish to stay humble and concentrate on the bigger task ahead — training harder in their quest to get into the final squad, and eventually make a debut for the country.
Hyderabad FC defender Akash Mishra stated that “being selected by the national coach” is a “huge motivation”.
“I need to thank Igor Stimac for finding me good enough to be in the camp. But this call up comes with extra responsibility for me to not let him down. It will be the best day of my life if I get to wear the national jersey. But it’s still far away. I need to keep working harder and not think about it much. If I am good enough, I will get a chance,” Mishra, an ex-Indian Arrows cadet expressed.
North East United FC’s midfielder Lalengmawia — also a former Indian Arrows cadet — feels that he has “got a step closer to achieving his dream.”
“The call-up is one of the best things which has happened to me. But I haven’t achieved anything as yet. There is still a long way to go. My dream is to represent my country and I can go to any extent to get it fulfilled. Thank you coach for your trust in me,” he quipped.
Kerala Blasters midfielder Jeakson Singh, best remembered as India’s goal-scorer at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, uttered that the call up is a “unique gift which excites him to massively improve as a player.”
“I am extremely excited. This allows me an opportunity to fulfil my dream of not just playing for my country but excelling at it. I am extremely grateful to coach Stimac for naming me on the list. I love challenging myself, and it is time to work the hardest in my life. I cannot let this slip at any cost,” he said in one breath.
FC Goa goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh hoped he can “grow as a player from hereon.”
“This call-up is very encouraging for me. The camp provides me with an opportunity to train with the best and learn from the best. I need to constantly keep pushing myself to achieve my dream of playing for my country. I understand this is just my first step. A big thank you to coach for having faith in me,” he said.
Another FC Goa player — striker Ishan Pandita — said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to be named for the camp. Any kid playing the sport will always aim to represent the country. And when the call comes, you have to take it. I am over the moon. But, I am ready to put in good work and work harder.” (ANI)
Ind vs Eng: Axar Patel was the best bowler in 3rd Test, says Harbhajan
Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 3 (ANI): Ahead of the fourth and final Test of the series against England, former India spinner Harbhajan Singh heaped praise on all-rounder Axar Patel for the way he bowled in the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium last week.
The hosts registered a comprehensive 10-wicket win over England in the third Test and took the 2-1 lead in the series. India is now eyeing the World Test Championship final spot in the last game of the series.
India only need to draw the final Test against Joe Root’s men in order to seal a spot in the WTC final. Axar, playing in just his second Test, scalped 11 wickets in the day-night Test to spin a web over the Englishmen.
According to Harbhajan, it is the bowler who should be credited for turning the ball even if the pitch had something for the spinner.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected, Harbhajan said, “At the beginning of our journey, the spinners are taught to hit the stump — the ball should hit the stump after the spin. If the wicket has spin then the bowler needs to judge how much spin is required, and if you’re missing the stumps constantly then it’s the bowler’s fault. If there is a spinning track or any other track, there is always a challenge to bowl.
“The most difficult balls were the ones where the batsman had to face with the bat and I believe Axar Patel was the best bowler in this game because the batsman had to play every ball and Axar himself didn’t know whether the ball will spin or not,” he added.
In the ongoing series, Rohit Sharma, Axar and Ravichandran Ashwin have been the standout performers and now in the fourth Test, skipper Virat 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.
The fourth Test of the series will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium from Thursday. (ANI)
WTC: Will be watching with interest, hopefully England can do the job for us, says McDonald
Wellington [New Zealand], March 3 (ANI): Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald has said that his side would be watching the fourth Test between India and England with keen interest and he added that everyone on his side is hopeful of the Three Lions defeating India.
If England manage to defeat India in the fourth and final Test of the series, then Australia would qualify for the final of the World Test Championship (WTC). However, if India win or draw the match, then Australia would qualify for the final.
“There’s a bit of self-interest there for us. We’ll be hoping they can do the job there. It’s going to be difficult for them, no doubt, some of the surfaces have been conducive to spin bowling and probably India’s strengths in their ability to play spin as well. We wish them well. See what unfolds, it’s out of our hands but we’ll be watching along with interest,” ESPNCricinfo quoted McDonald as saying.
“Think most people have been watching that series with some great interest in terms of the conditions and the short nature of the Tests has been very interesting to watch from afar,” he added.
Opening batsman David Warner is also hopeful of England defeating India, but he added that he would not be barracking for the visitors.
“I won’t be barracking for England. From a cricket perspective, we’d like to see a draw [in the series]. It would be ideal for us to make the World Test Championship final and if that happens it’s a great result for us,” said Warner.
However, even if England manage to defeat India in the fourth and final Test, Australia might not qualify for the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
If England win the last Test against India, then Australia was to qualify for the WTC final. But, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is now looking to bring forward Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) formal complaint against Cricket Australia (CA) should the latter qualify for the WTC final, reported Sydney Morning Herald.
Earlier this year, Australia postponed its three Tests tour of South Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result, CSA lodged a formal complaint with the ICC, seeking financial compensation and deduction in WTC points for Australia.
As per a report in Sydney Morning Herald, if the ICC decides to deduct points from Australia then the side would be eliminated from the WTC even if England was to win the final Test against India. Cricket Australia has been given the time until the end of this week to meet the deadline set by the ICC to inform whether the matter can be resolved through good faith negotiations.
If that is not the case, then the matter would be transferred from the dispute committee of the ICC and it would be given to an independent panel and they would be deciding whether Cricket Australia was within its right to postpone the series in South Africa. (ANI)
NZ vs Aus: Riley Meredith makes T20I debut, Zampa playing 100th game for Oz
Wellington [New Zealand], March 3 (ANI): Australia handed a debut cap to Hobart Hurricanes and Tasmania pacer Riley Meredith in the third T20I against New Zealand while spinner Adam Zampa is playing his 100th game for the country.
Meredith received his cap from national selector George Bailey after heroics in the recent edition of the Big Bash League (BBL). He became the 97th international T20 player after fellow BBL star Josh Philippe, who earned his maiden T20I cap in the series opener.
Meredith was picked up by Punjab Kings for Rs 8 crore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) mini players auction last month.
The 24-year-old had listed his base price as Rs 40 lakh heading into the auction. Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings had a bidding war for Meredith, but in the end, the pacer was picked up by Preity Zinta’s franchise.
New Zealand won the toss and decided to bowl against Australia. Visitors made only one change as Meredith replaced Daniel Sams in the playing XI.
On the other hand, New Zealand introduced batsman Mark Chapman in place of Mitchell Santner, who was ruled out of the third T20I.
Earlier in the day, New Zealand Cricket informed that Santner had a “head-cold” and “he is self-isolating as a precautionary measure while awaiting the results of a COVID test”. Pacer Adam Milne was added to the squad as cover for the spinner.
New Zealand playing XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mark Chapman, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.
Australia playing XI: Aaron Finch (c), Josh Philippe, Matthew Wade (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Riley Meredith. (ANI)
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