REALLY WANTED TO PROVE MYSELF AT TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYS DEFENDER VARUN KUMAR - The Daily Guardian
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REALLY WANTED TO PROVE MYSELF AT TOKYO OLYMPICS, SAYS DEFENDER VARUN KUMAR

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When Indian men’s hockey team drag-flicker and defender Varun Kumar didn’t make the final team of 16 members for the Tokyo Games, he was evidently disappointed. But when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) allowed hockey teams to expand their roster to 18 members with two P athletes, Varun’s name featured in the team.

Looking back, Varun says he feels very fortunate even though he was disappointed at first for not featuring in the 16-member squad. “When the squad for the Olympics was announced, my name was not part of the 16-member squad. I still remember that day very well and I was evidently disappointed,” recalled Varun in an official Hockey India release.

“But after a few days when IOC allowed hockey teams to expand to 18 players, Simranjeet and I were called up as P athletes. It came as a huge relief but somewhere at the back of my mind I was still upset about not making it to the final 16 and I really wanted to prove myself,” he added.

Varun further stated that the skipper Manpreet Singh having a one-on-one chat with him before the team left for Tokyo helped him. “It really helped that captain Manpreet had a long chat with me and pumped me up mentally. Manpreet has been a big influence in my career from a very young age as we played in the same academy and him talking to me made a lot of difference. I stopped beating myself up for not being good enough to make the 16-member squad. I started focusing on how I can make this opportunity count and deliver when the team needs me,” stated Varun.

What followed in Tokyo is now part of history as the Indian men’s hockey team went on to clinch the bronze medal. Varun played a key role in India’s 3-1 win against Argentina in the pool stage as he scored the first goal of the match. He was effective in the backline and impressed with his performance every time he was called up.

“It was indeed a fantastic experience in Tokyo. Winning the Bronze and standing on the podium along with my teammates is perhaps the best moment of my life. Now my priority will be to improve in every aspect. We have had a good break after the Olympics and we are all waiting to return to camp in October,” stated Varun.

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Want to be able to bowl closer to knockouts, says Hardik Pandya

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India all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Sunday informed that he is looking forward to bowling in the later stages of the ongoing T20 World Cup. India skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday said Hardik Pandya will be able to bowl two overs for the side in the showpiece event at some stage. Hardik also said his back is fine but he won’t be bowling as of now and will take a call along with the “professionals” about when he can eventually bowl.

“I don’t like to get too hyped by the situation, and my family makes sure of that too. I stay away from social media because you do get excited and get the vibes. It’s simple, and we leave emotions out of the way and keep things professional,” Hardik told host broadcaster Star Sports ahead of the toss.

“We make sure we tick the right boxes, and do the processes right. The back is fine. It was jittery, but I won’t be bowling for now. I want to be able to bowl eventually, closer to the knockouts. The professionals and I both have to take the call about when I can have a bowl,” he added.

Hardik did not bowl a single over for the Mumbai Indians in the UAE leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and he also did not bowl in the warm-up fixtures against England and Australia which was played last week.

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Unacceptable performance: Pollard after WI’s dismal show

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West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard has urged his side to forget their dismal batting display against England and move on quickly as they seek to defend their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup crown.

Pollard was one of ten batters to fall for a single-figure score as his side were skittled for 55 in a rematch of the 2016 final, a score England needed just 8.2 overs to surpass as West Indies’ net run-rate took a sizable early dent. The 34-year-old was honest about his side’s failings and expects to see a vast improvement in their remaining Group 1 fixtures, starting against South Africa on Tuesday.

Kieron Pollard in the post-match presentation said: “There’s not a lot to explain – it was an unacceptable performance, but we do need to take this on the chin and move on. It’s a matter of finding our straps, we have to find a way to get a fighting total on the board, today was a day where we couldn’t find that balance, but we need to forget this and move on. This is an international sport, such days happen, but we need to find a solution.

“We have played a lot of T20 cricket around the world, this is something we have all experienced, you’ll have to accept such days. Each game is important, we still have four games in the tournament and we’ll have to look forward.” The only positive from the match for West Indies was a spirited display with the ball as Akeal Hosein took two for 24.

“Got an opportunity due to the injury, things do happen for a reason, he (Hosein) has worked hard in domestic cricket, his attitude is fantastic, he has plenty of energy and that’s fantastic. I told the guys to give our best at the halfway stage,” the West Indies captain added.

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Warner is in good physical shape and that’s a good sign, says Justin Langer

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Australia coach Justin Langer praised batter David Warner and said that his side is unlikely to change the opening pair of Warner and Aaron Finch for the upcoming matches of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.

Australia defeated South Africa by five wickets in the first Super 12s match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. “There are some really good signs from Davey (Warner) yesterday. I think he pulled Rabada for four, he played a beautiful cover drive, he played a great cut shot, and then one held up on him a bit. But they’re good signs for me,” said Justin Langer.

“He’s in as good physical shape as I’ve ever seen him so that’s a very positive sign, [I’m] really confident he’ll come good. And Finchy (Finch), I thought one, Finchy’s captaincy was brilliant yesterday. And he’s another one that, he had knee surgery, it might take a little bit of time for him to get moving. He’s working hard in the nets in his preparation. I don’t think it’s so much a mental thing for Finchy,” he added.

Langer admitted he had nearly chewed his fingernails down to the quick in Saturday’s last-over thriller. But he expects more close low-scoring games as the tournament moves on.

Chasing 119, Australia started off at a low pace with skipper Aaron Finch being sent back by Anrich Nortje without scoring a single run. Following Finch, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh also lost their wickets and by the end of the 7.5 overs, Australia was 38/3.

Steve Smith played an innings of 35 runs in 34 balls and kept the hopes for his side alive. But at the end of the 15.2 overs, Smith and Glenn Maxwell were also sent back, leaving the team’s total to 81/5. It was Stoinis, who in partnership with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, ended the match with a boundary and took Australia home.

Earlier in the match, South Africa lost early wickets, with Australia’s Josh Hazelwood and Adma Zampa scalping two wickets each. Australia will now be facing Sri Lanka for their next ICC Men’s T20 World Cup clash on October 28 in Dubai.

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Worked hard on my swing yesterday in nets, says Shaheen Afridi

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Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi, who stole the show on Sunday with his brilliant bowling against India in the ongoing T20 World Cup, said he worked hard on polishing his skills in nets before the match.

Shaheen Afridi got the better of Rohit Sharma (0) and KL Rahul (3) and India were reduced to 6/2 in the third over.

The Pakistan pacer revealed that the plan was to pick early wickets and come back in the death overs to scalp some more. “Glad I was able to execute the team plan. The plan was to pick early wickets and then come back in the death and pick wickets again,” Shaheen Afridi told host broadcaster Star Sports after mid-innings.

“I worked hard on my swing yesterday in the nets. It becomes easy for batsmen if it doesn’t. I didn’t mind going for runs in order to pick up wickets,” he added.India skipper Virat Kohli once again showed what it takes to be a big match player as he hit a quality 57 to take India to a respectable 151/7 in the 20 overs against Pakistan.

Shaheen, who dismissed Kohli in the 19th over, said the ball is coming nicely onto the bat and hopefully Pakistan will be able to chase the score easily.

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ASALANKA, RAJAPAKSA SHINE AS SRI LANKA DEFEAT BANGLADESH

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Charith Asalanka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa played knocks of 80 and 53 respectively as Sri Lanka defeated Bangladesh by five wickets in the Super 12’s Group 1 match here at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Chasing 172, Sri Lanka lost the wicket of Kusal Perera (1) in the very first over as he was bowled by Nasum Ahmed. However, Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka counter-attacked and the duo took Sri Lanka’s score to 54/1 after the end of the powerplay overs. Both batters put on 69 runs for the second over. Shakib Al Hasan however, changed the game around for Bangladesh in the ninth over as he dismissed Nissanka (24) and Avishka Fernando (0), reducing Sri Lanka to 71/3 with the side still needing 101 runs to win from 68 balls.

Wanindu Hasaranga (6) failed to leave a mark with the bat and Sri Lanka was left struggling at 79/4 in the 10th over of the innings. Asalanka then found the support in the form of Bhanuka Rajapaksa and the duo did not let the asking run-rate creep up too high. Both of them kept on registering boundaries at regular intervals and Sri Lanka needed just 24 runs from the final four overs.

In the end, Sri Lanka registered a comfortable victory with seven balls to spare.Earlier, Mohammad Naim and Mushfiqur Rahim played knocks of 62 and 57 to help Bangladesh post a total of 171/4 in the allotted twenty overs. Sent into bat, Bangladesh got off to a steady start as openers Liton Das and Mohammad Naim put on 40 runs for the first wicket, but this stand was cut short by Lahiru Kumara in the sixth over as he sent Das (16) back to the pavilion. Shakib Al Hasan (10) failed to leave a mark with the bat and Bangladesh was reduced to 56/2 in the eighth over.

Mushfiqur Rahim then joined Naim in the middle and the duo frustrated the Sri Lankan bowling attack, registering boundaries at regular intervals. The duo put on 73 runs for the third wicket and it was finally in the 17th over that Chamika Karunaratne was able to send Naim (62) back to the pavilion, reducing Bangladesh to 129/3.

In the final three overs, Bangladesh managed to add 31 more runs to their total, taking it past the 170-run mark. Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah remained unbeaten on 57 and 10.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 171/4 (Mohammad Naim 62, Mushfiqur Rahim 57*; Chamika Karunaratne 1-12); Sri Lanka 172/5 (Charith Asalanka 80*, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 53; Shakib Al Hasan 2-17).

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Worked hard on my swing yesterday in nets, says Shaheen Afridi

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Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi, who stole the show on Sunday with his brilliant bowling against India in the ongoing T20 World Cup, said he worked hard on polishing his skills in nets before the match.

Shaheen Afridi got the better of Rohit Sharma (0) and KL Rahul (3) and India were reduced to 6/2 in the third over.

The Pakistan pacer revealed that the plan was to pick early wickets and come back in the death overs to scalp some more. “Glad I was able to execute the team plan. The plan was to pick early wickets and then come back in the death and pick wickets again,” Shaheen Afridi told host broadcaster Star Sports after mid-innings.

“I worked hard on my swing yesterday in the nets. It becomes easy for batsmen if it doesn’t. I didn’t mind going for runs in order to pick up wickets,” he added.India skipper Virat Kohli once again showed what it takes to be a big match player as he hit a quality 57 to take India to a respectable 151/7 in the 20 overs against Pakistan.

Shaheen, who dismissed Kohli in the 19th over, said the ball is coming nicely onto the bat and hopefully Pakistan will be able to chase the score easily.

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