Tennis legend Akhtar Ali was a great person: Jaidip Mukherjea - The Daily Guardian
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Tennis legend Akhtar Ali was a great person: Jaidip Mukherjea

Renowned tennis player and coach Akhtar Ali dies in Kolkata on Sunday, aged 81.

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Tennis legend Akhtar Ali, who passed away on Sunday aged 81, was a “great person” and we had a “good rapport”, said Jaidip Mukherjea, his Davis Cup doubles partner and former national champion.

“He was a great person. Our rapport was very good. I last met him about two weeks ago; he was not keeping well. He had dementia, and probably knew that his days were numbered,” former national champion Mukherjea told IANS from Kolkata, also the home city of Ali.

“He was three years older than me. We started playing tennis together as youngsters, at South Club here in Kolkata, and we, along with Premjit Lall, practiced together at the club. He was my Davis Cup teammate and my Davis Cup coach. He was a national champion before I became one. On my first tour of England he was there with me as a player,” said 78-year-old Mukherjea.

Remarkably, Ali never lost a doubles match in Davis Cup in the five years that he played the world’s premier team competition, starting 1958. He played eight Davis Cup ties, and out of seven singles matches, he won five. But his most striking statistic is that he won all four doubles matches, for which he formed a formidable doubles pair with both Mukerjea and Lall.

Ali was later appointed the non-playing Davis Cup captain and also coached the Indian Davis Cup team.

“He was a fantastic coach; he was a good player also. But his coaching achievements are much better. He has coached top players like Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan, myself, Vijay Amritraj, and Leander Paes, all of them,” Mukherjea pointed out.

Ali won the Junior National title in 1955, at the age of 16. He was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2000.

He passed away at around 2.30 am on Sunday at his residence in Kolkata, his daughter Nilofer, who was at his bedside, told IANS over the phone from Kolkata. His burial is scheduled to take place at Sola Ana graveyard in Khidirpur, Kolkata, after Asar namaz, the last one before sunset.

Zeeshan, son of Ali and a former Davis Cup player and non-playing captain, was in the national capital conducting a tennis camp when he heard the news. His sister said he was on his way to Kolkata and was expected to reach there before the burial. IANS

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Two opponents having a word: Stokes on altercation with Siraj

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): Commenting on his on-field altercation with India pacer Mohammed Siraj, England all-rounder Ben Stokes on Thursday said people always look at these things thinking “it is all wrong” while suggesting that it was just two opponents having a word and going toe to toe against each other.
Tempers flared on the first day of the ongoing fourth Test between India and England as Virat Kohli and Ben Stokes clashed in the middle after Stokes exchanged words with Siraj and umpire Nitin Menon had to intervene.
The chat between Kohli and Stokes heated up at the end of the 13th over. The Indian skipper was visibly unhappy with something Stokes said to pacer Mohammed Siraj and as a result, he decided to have a lengthy chat with the swashbuckling English all-rounder.
“The thing in cricket nowadays is that it becomes a massive talking point when two opponents have a word with each other. People seem, I do not know, not lose their heads but they think it is all wrong. Look at it from a different way, guys care about what they are doing and what they are representing. Playing against each other, we are competitors and we are not going to back down to anyone, whoever it may be.
“It is nice to see two competitors going toe to toe against each other and no one is backing down. For me, that was it, two competitive guys trying to get over each other,” Stokes said in the virtual press conference after the end of day’s play.
Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara showed great application as India ended the opening day of the fourth and final Test against England in the driver’s seat despite losing opener Shubman Gill at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday. 11 wickets fell on the day as England was bundled out for 205 after skipper Joe Root won the toss and decided to bat first.
At stumps, India’s score read 24/1 with Rohit (8*) and Pujara (15*) at the crease — trailing the visitors by 181 runs in the first innings. (ANI)

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Stokes was swearing at me, so Kohli intervened: Siraj

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): On a wicket where the Indian spinners bowled beautifully, pacer Mohammed Siraj picked the important wickets of England skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow on the opening day of the fourth Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
While Siraj was impressive with the ball, he was also involved in a verbal duel with England all-rounder Ben Stokes which also saw skipper Virat Kohli getting involved. Speaking after the end of the day’s play, Siraj said that Stokes was swearing at him and Kohli handled it well.
“He (Stokes) was swearing at me, so Virat intervened and handled that well,” Siraj said.
Tempers flared in the first session on Day One as Kohli and Stokes clashed in the middle with umpire Nitin Menon having to intervene. The chat between Kohli and Stokes heated up at the end of the 13th over.
The Indian skipper was visibly unhappy with something Stokes said to Siraj and as a result, he decided to have a lengthy chat with the England all-rounder.
After the final ball of the 12th over, Stokes came down the wicket and he had a word with Siraj. Kohli was not happy with the turn of events and decided to take it up with Stokes. In the end, on-field official Menon had to intervene to separate Kohli and Stokes.
In the very next over, Siraj was also seen in an aggressive mood and he had a go at Stokes.
India bundled out England for 205 and then reached 24/1 at Stumps on Day One.
Commenting on his bowling effort, Siraj said: “We planned to bowl patiently and keep bowling at the same spot. Virat bhai told me that we have only two fast bowlers so we will keep rotating, and we will be well-rested. When I started bowling from the Reliance end, there was a little extra bounce and good movement from that end after I switched.”
“When I played in Australia or when I play here, I will put my effort on every ball otherwise it’ll affect the team, and it’ll release the pressure. I just want to bowl every ball giving my 100 per cent,” he added. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Rohit, Pujara hold fort after Axar, Ashwin show

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara showed great application as India ended the opening day of the fourth and final Test against England in the driver’s seat despite losing opener Shubman Gill at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday. 11 wickets fell on the day as England was bundled out for 205 after skipper Joe Root won the toss and decided to bat first.
At stumps, India’s score read 24/1 with Rohit (8*) and Pujara (15*) at the crease — trailing the visitors by 181 runs in the first innings.
After a disappointing show with the bat, England got off to a flying start with the ball as James Anderson struck with the third ball of the innings. The pace spearhead trapped Gill (0) in front of the stumps as India lost a wicket with no run on the board.
But Rohit and Pujara ensured that was the end of the visitors’ joy on the day as they played out the remaining 11.3 overs without losing any wicket.
Earlier, Axar once again hogged the limelight with his four-wicket haul while Ravichandran Ashwin scalped three as England was bundled out for 205. While it was Mohammed Siraj who picked the all-important wicket of Root in the first session, Ashwin broke the deadlock in the third session as he dismissed Ollie Pope.
Pope’s wicket sparked a collapse from which England couldn’t really recover. The visitors went down from 166/5 to 205 all out within 14.3 overs, losing half of their side for 39 runs as Axar struck twice in one over. Ashwin dismissed Pope a few minutes into the third session. Pope got unlucky as the inside edge hit the back pad and popped to short-leg fielder Shubman Gill.
India’s senior off-spinner then dismissed Ben Foakes in the 66th over to reduce the visitors to 170/7. Minutes later Axar dismissed Daniel Lawrence and Dominic Bess to leave England reeling at 189/9. It looked as the visiting side would get bundled out soon, but Jack Leach and James Anderson took England over the 200-run mark.
Earlier, electing to bat first, England openers Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley saw off the first five overs bowled by the Indian pacers — Ishant Sharma and Siraj, who has come into the side in place of Jasprit Bumrah. However, the introduction of Axar in the sixth over brought immediate reward for the hosts as the spinner clean-bowled Sibley (2), reducing England to 10/1.
The 27-year-old struck again in his second over as he had Crawley (9) caught at mid-off. The right-handed batsman tried to go over the top to create more pressure on the bowler, but ended up mistiming the ball and handed a simple catch to Siraj. Immediately after the first drinks break, England skipper Root (5) was trapped in front by Siraj and the visitors got reduced to 30/3 in the 13th over. The visitors ended the opening session on 74/3.
Brief Scores: England 205 (Ben Stokes 55; Axar Patel 4-68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-47); India 24/1 (Cheteshwar Pujara 15*; James Anderson 1-0) (ANI)

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ECB appoints Cindy Butts as Chair of Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket

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London [UK], March 4 (ANI): England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Thursday announced the appointment of Cindy Butts as the chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which will examine issues relating to race and equity in the game.
“The Board of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has taken a significant step toward ensuring cricket is a game for everyone with the appointment of Cindy Butts to establish and chair the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which will examine issues relating to race and equity in the game,” ECB said in a statement.
ECB said Butts has “extensive experience” in senior roles spanning governance, inclusion and equity across the justice/policing sectors and Government. Her current roles include serving as a lay member of the House of Lords Conduct Committee, a lay member of the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and as Panel Chair for the Judicial Appointments Commission.
She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Kick It Out, the organisation for equality and inclusion in English football. Previously, she held roles as the Deputy Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority and as a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
As Chair, Butts will work with the ECB Board to finalise the terms of reference for the Commission. She will lead the process to appoint a number of independent Commissioners who will bring further diversity of thought, background and experience to the Commission, providing constructive input and challenge to the ECB and the wider game.
The Commission, whose formation was announced in November 2020, will independently gather and assess the evidence of inequalities and discrimination of all forms within cricket and identify the actions the ECB will need to take to tackle these issues. It is known as the Commission for Equity in Cricket, in recognition that different groups of people face different access issues or barriers. The Commission will act with complete independence, examining any evidence it deems relevant and making the recommendations it considers necessary.
The Board’s engagement with the Commission will be led by the ECB’s Senior Independent Director, Brenda Trenowden, who is driving the Board’s work in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Ian Watmore, Chair of the ECB, in a statement, said: “The creation of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket is an important step in our ambition to make cricket a game for everyone. Cindy is extremely well-qualified to lead this work and will bring empathy, rigour and practical experience to the deliberations and recommendations of the Commission.”
Butts said: “I’m excited to be bringing together my lifelong love of cricket with my passion for equity and inclusion, to lead this work for the ECB. Over the coming months we will be looking to hear from a wide range of people who share a love of cricket, whether as spectators, players, coaches or administrators both present and past… I am committed to ensuring that cricket has a bright future in this country.” (ANI)

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Champions League: Liverpool, RB Leipzig to play second-leg tie in Budapest

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Liverpool [UK], March 4 (ANI): Liverpool on Thursday announced that the club’s Champions League last-16 second-leg match against RB Leipzig will be played in Budapest.
Puskas Arena in the Hungarian capital will host the fixture, the same venue where the teams contested the first-leg on February 17.
“Liverpool can confirm the Champions League last-16, second-leg tie with RB Leipzig will be played in Budapest,” Liverpool said in a statement.
The Premier League side said that the COVID-19 regulations in Germany have prevented Leipzig from traveling to the United Kingdom to play the match at Anfield as planned. The Reds, who hold a 2-0 lead from the first leg thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, will be classed as the ‘home’ club for the game.
RB Leipzig also made an announcement in this regard. “The second leg of our @ChampionsLeague last 16 tie against @LFC will also take place at the Puskas Arena in Budapest,” the German club tweeted.
The match between Liverpool and RB Leipzig will be played on March 11 (local time). (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 4th Test: Axar, Ashwin shine to bundle out visitors for 205

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 4 (ANI): All-rounder Axar Patel once again hogged the limelight with his four-wicket haul while Ravichandran Ashwin scalped three as England were bundled out for 205 on the first day of the fourth and final Test against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday.
While it was Mohammed Siraj who picked the all-important wicket of Joe Root in the first session, Ravichandran Ashwin broke the deadlock in the third session as he dismissed Ollie Pope. Pope’s wicket sparked a collapse from which England couldn’t really recover. The visitors went down from 166/5 to 205 all out within 14.3 overs, losing half of their side for 39 runs as Axar struck twice in one over.
Ashwin dismissed Pope a few minutes into the third session. Pope got unlucky as the inside edge hit the back pad and popped to short-leg fielder Shubman Gill.
India’s senior off-spinner then dismissed Ben Foakes in the 66th over to reduce the visitors to 170/7. Minutes later Axar dismissed Daniel Lawrence and Dominic Bess to leave England reeling at 189/9.
It looked as the visiting side would get bundled out soon, but Jack Leach and James Anderson took England over the 200-run mark for the first time since their marathon total of 578 in the opening Test in Chennai. But Ashwin ended Leach’s stint shortly after England went past the 200-run mark to pick his third scalp of the innings.
In the second session, Pope and Dan Lawrence took England to tea at 144/5. The English batsmen showed grit and determination but the hosts managed to take two wickets post-lunch to stay on top. The likes of Bairstow and Stokes showed fight and did not succumb to the constant pressure from the Indian bowlers. But Bairstow and Stokes both fell against the run of play and the duo of Pope and Lawrence then showed that they are here to compete and make the hosts bowling attack earn their wickets. Earlier, in the first session, the hosts made a quick start, reducing England to 30/3.
Brief Scores: England 205 (Ben Stokes 55; Axar Patel 4-68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3-47) vs India (ANI)

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