As we edge closer to the resumption of the Hero I-League season, one of the stalwarts of Indian Football who has been mesmerising fans over the years, has decided to call it a day on his career as a professional footballer. Lalrindika Ralte, popularly known as Dika among his teammates, is someone who has played the game professionally for over a decade, winning accolades from across the land, and also for the country.
As Ralte looks forward to the next chapter in his life, caught up with him to talk about memories of the past, and plans for the future. Upon his retirement from the ‘beautiful game,’ Ralte feels that it is time for him to spend more time with his family, something that becomes difficult as a professional footballer.
“It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve taken in my life so far. Could I have played for a couple of more seasons? Maybe. But I took the decision to retire with my family in mind. Nothing is more important than family,” Lalrindika said.
“I have to take care of my wife and kids, and also my parents. They have also been asking me to spend more time with them, and that is something that becomes a bit difficult as a football player. So, I decided to hang up my boots,” he stated.
However, the former attacking midfielder made it clear that retirement from football does not mean that he will be moving away from the game that he has loved.
“This does not mean that I will be leaving football altogether. I do have plans to get into coaching in the future, maybe build my own academy in the Lunglei village, here in Mizoram,” said Ralte. “I very much want to be around football; I want to keep working for Mizoram football and for Indian football.”
Didika is the first player to make it professionally, from his village, but more have followed suit in the following years. The likes of Blue Tigers winger Lallinzuala Chhangte and Edmund Lalrindika are currently carrying forward the love for football that Ralte had started in his own village.
“People in our village love football. I may be the first one from my village to play professionally, but there have been many who love the game and would have loved the chance. Of course, the facilities that are available to everyone to help them become an athlete is not something that we had access to back in those days. I want to make sure that the next generation of kids can access these things,” he said.
Being the first professional footballer from his village, Dika may be an inspiration now to the youngsters of Lunglei, Mizoram. However, he had a similarly drawn inspiration from another legend of Indian football back in his younger days.
“In terms of playing style, I loved watching Sunil Chhetri and Zinedine Zidane when I was young. But my real inspiration was Mama (Shylo Malsawmtluanga),” informed Dika. “I did not get to see much of his game in his prime, but he was the first professional footballer from Mizoram, and he showed us all the way.”
“When we first heard that there was someone from Mizoram who made it to one of the big clubs in Kolkata and was doing really well there – it motivated me. As a youngster, it gave me the belief,” he recalled. “Before him there were no Mizo footballers out there, but reading about him, and hearing about him motivated so many of us youngsters who wanted to play football.”
The midfielder is one of those few players who was lucky enough to play in the same team as his idol when he joined East Bengal back in 2012. “It was such an honour to play with him in the same team. He was towards the end of his career back then, but the amount we all learned from him was immense. He really is kind, and a good human being,” Didika informed.
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FRENCH OPEN: DJOKOVIC BEATS NISHIOKA, STORMS INTO R2
World Number 1 Novak Djokovic on Monday defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to register a thumping straight-set win in the opening round of the ongoing French Open 2022.
The defending champion beat Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 to claim the victory at Roland-Gross and storm into the second round. Earlier on Monday, Rafael Nadal claimed a straight-sets victory over Australian Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. With this win, the Spaniard has booked a second-round meeting with French lefty Corentin Moutet. Against Moutet, Nadal will be seeking the 300th Grand Slam match win of his career.
Apart from Nadal, World No.1 Iga Swiatek needed just 54 minutes to get through her opening round under the roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier, posting a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.
Amanda Anisimova scored her second win over Naomi Osaka in as many Grand Slam tournaments this year, advancing in straight sets to the Roland Garros second round.
INDIA GO DOWN 2-5 AGAINST GRITTY JAPAN
The Indian Men’s Hockey team suffered a 2-5 defeat to Japan in their second encounter at the Asia Cup here at the GBK Sports Complex Hockey Stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Kosei Kawabe (40’, 56’) struck a brace, while Ken Nagayoshi (24’), Ryoma Ooka (49’) and Koji Yamasaki (54’) were the other goal-scorers for Japan in the Pool A match. Pawan Rajbhar (45’) and Uttam Singh (50’), scored the two goals for India. Japan started putting pressure on the young Indian team from the starting whistle of the match. In the 5th minute, Karthi Selvam struck a reverse hit inside the Japan circle to create an early opportunity for his team. But SV Sunil could not make contact with the ball in front of the goal and the opportunity was missed. Japan received the first penalty corner in the 11th minute of the first quarter, but goalkeeper Suraj Karkera made an excellent save to deny the opposition.
Ken Nagayoshi scored the first goal for Japan from a drag-flick in the 24th minute after India conceded back-to-back penalty corners. Trailing 0-1 at halftime, India started brightly in the third Quarter as Uttam Singh received a chance inside the circle to get his team level. But he was unable to trap the ball and the opportunity was missed.
Japan started counter-attacking straightaway as India started getting back into the game. Kosei Kawabe doubled his team’s lead in the 40th minute with a shot past the young Indian defence. In the final minute of the third quarter, Pawan Raj Bhar deflected the ball into the nets after receiving a pass from Birendra Lakra, as India reduced the deficit to 1-2.
Ryoma Ooka scored four minutes into the final quarter, but Uttam Singh managed to get one for India straightaway in the next minute to keep India in the hunt. Late goals from Koji Yamasaki and Kosei Kawabe sealed the deal for Japan as they won the match 5-2. India will play their next game against Indonesia on Thursday.
CHARU SHARMA SHARES VIEWS ON SENIOR PLAYERS AND ROLE OF COACHES, SUPPORT STAFF
Renowned Indian television commentator and compere Charu Sharma who was also the stand-in auctioneer at the 2022 Indian Premier League auction, after Hugh Edmeades, the original auctioneer collapsed due to postural hypotension gave his views on the ongoing IPL and how everyone in their respective franchise can contribute for their teams.
According to him, “Younger players who didn’t played well or didn’t make it to playoff will be backed as they have 10-12 years of cricket left in them.
Performance of experienced players like Pollard, Bravo etc. at IPL matters as it sets their value for other leagues too and since they are near to retirement so there are not much options left if they are unable to contribute.
Coaching staff has very less to offer on field. They can only assist the players during training session.”
He further added, “What happens in the ground is the sole responsibility of the players. Big names matter in cricket, so every player likes to be around big players and even owners tend to have big names as their coaches and support staff. Mentor’s position is to speak when his guidance is required.
Players like to talk to mentors more often for any doubts rather than coaches at first place. Head coach is the most important post, subsequently the batting coach, bowling coach and head analyst so head coach must be heard very attentively. Physios and trainers are underrated but again they play a very important role.”
Shafali Verma, Wolvaardt help Velocity clinch 7-wicket win over Supernovas
Fifties from Shafali Verma (51) and Laura Wolvaardt (51*) helped the Velocity clinch a seven-wicket win over Supernovas in their first Women’s T20 Challenge match here at MCA Stadium in Pune. It was a great day for Velocity on-field. As they chased down a competitive target of 151 with help from half-centuries from Verna and Wolvaardt. With this win, Velocity are at the second position in the points table with two points. On the other hand, Supernovas are still at the first position with two points.
Chasing 151, Velocity were off a shaky start as they lost Natthakan Chantham for just 1 at team’s score of 6 off a Pooja Vastrakar delivery. Shafali Verma and wicketkeeper-batter Yastika Bhatia resumed the chase. They soon brought up a 50-run stand. At the end of the powerplay in six overs, Velocity stood at 60/1, with Verma (47*) and Bhatia (10*). The 63-run stand was finally broken in the eighth over of the game when Deandra Dottin dismissed Bhatia for 17 off 13. Shortly, Varma brought her half-century in just 30 balls. She was finally dismissed by Dottin for 51 off 33, with assistance from Harmanpreet Kaur at the short third in the 10th over of the game.
At the end of 10 overs, Velocity stood at 82/3, with captain Deepti Sharma (1*) and Laura Wolvaardt (7*). The duo took their side to a win, with Wolvaardt completing her half-century. At the end of 18.2 overs, Velocity stood victorious at 151/3, with Sharma (24*) and Wolvaardt (51*). Dottin was the pick of the bowlers for Supernovas, picking up 2/21.
Earlier, a fighting half-century by captain Harmanpreet Kaur (71) and her 82-run stand with wicketkeeper-batter Taniya Bhatia (36) helped Supernovas reach 150/5 in their 20 overs against Velocity here at MCA Stadium in Pune.
It was a solid outing for Supernovas with the bat with great contributions from Kaur, Bhatiya and Sune Luus (20*). On the other hand, despite a great start with ball, Velocity could not hold their grip on the match for long as the Supernovas skipper took them to the cleaners.
Put to bat first by the Velocity, Supernovas were off an extremely poor start as pacer Kate Cross sent Priya Punia back to the pavilion for 4 after she was caught by Ayabonga Khaka at the covers in the third ball of the first over. In the third over as well, Cross dismissed Harleen Deol for 7 off 9 after she was caught by Laura Wolvaardt at the backward point. In the next over, all-rounder Deepti Sharma got the big wicket of Deandra Dottin for 6 off 9, sinking the Supernovas to 18/3. From then on, captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia started the rescue act for the Supernovas. Both batters took on Velocity bowlers well.
At the end of powerplay in six overs, Supernovas stood at a sub-par 29/3, with Harmanpreet Kaur (7*) and Taniya Bhatia (5*). After the end of the powerplay, both the batters started attacking the Velocity bowlers, with pacer Ayabonga Khaka’s eighth over giving away 15 runs. At the end of 10 overs, Supernovas stood at 60/3, with Taniya Bhatia (20*) and Harmanpreet Kaur (21*). In the 12th over, the duo brought up the 50-run stand, with Taniya Bhatia (25*) and Harmanpreet Kaur (24*). In the 13th over of the innings, Kaur smashed spinner Maya Sonawane for a four and a six, with the bowler giving away 14 runs. This over turned out to be pretty expensive for Velocity and eased off a lot of pressure for Supernovas batters. The 14th over bowled by Deepti Sharma also gave away 11 runs.
In the 15th over of the game, Velocity finally got a breakthrough as Bhatia was run out for 36 off 32, ending her 82-run stand with Kaur.
This brought all-rounder Sune Luus to the crease, who had the responsibility to put finishing touches to Supernovas innings and post a fighting total on the board. In 15 overs, Supernovas stood at 103/4, with Harmanpreet Kaur (46*) and Sune Luus (1*). In the 17th over of the innings, Kaur brought her half-century. She survived an LBW appeal off a delivery by spinner Sneh Rana and took full advantage of it by smashing Rana for 4,6,4 in the final three balls of the over. The over gave away 15 runs and proved to give a boost to Supernovas innings.
In the final ball of the 19th over, Kaur was finally dismissed by spinner Radha Yadav for a quickfire 71 off 51 after her leg stump was dislodged while attempting to flick. Supernovas finished off their innings at a competitive 150/5 in their 20 overs, with Sune Luus (20*) and Pooja Vastrakar (2*) at the crease. Kate Cross was the pick of the bowlers for Velocity with 2/24. Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav got a wicket each too.
Miller’s ballistic knock takes debutant Gujarat Titans to final
David Miller played a ballistic knock of 68 from 38 balls and captain Hardik Pandya’s 40 off 27 balls guided debutants Gujarat Titans to a seven-wicket win over the inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.
GT have made it to the finals in their first foray into the tournament. Chasing a challenging 189-run target, Gujarat Titans got off to the worst possible start losing Wriddhiman Saha for a duck off two balls of Trent Boult’s bowling, caught behind by captain and wicket-keeper Sanju Samson. Matthew Wade then joined opener Shubman Gill and the duo took GT’s total beyond the 50-run mark in 5.1 overs to notch up a 50-run partnership in just 29 balls.
The partnership carried on as both the batters batted aggressively. The 72-run partnership was broken as Gill was run out by Devdutt Padikkal and Shimron Hetmyer for 35 off 21 balls. Left-arm medium-pacer Obed McCoy provided RR with the third breakthrough dismissing Wade for 35 off 30 balls.
Captain Hardik Pandya and David Miller joined hands and took Gujarat’s total beyond the triple-figure mark in 10.4 overs.
Pandya-Miller pair notched up 50-partnership in just 32 balls. The inaugural champions Rajasthan Royals tried to break the partnership but failed to do so as GT reached the 150-run mark in 16.1 overs. David Miller went on to score his half-century off 35 balls. Pandya-Miller went on to score a 100-run partnership. In the last over, Gujarat Titans needed 16 runs to win the match and Miller hammered Prasidh Krishna for three sixes off the first three balls to register a seven-wicket win and become the first team to enter the final.
Earlier in the day in-form Englishman batter Jos Buttler smashed 89 off 56 balls while skipper Sanju Samson played a good hand of 47 runs off 26 balls for Rajasthan Royals. Mohammed Shami, Yash Dayal, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, and Hardik Pandya scalped one wicket each for Gujarat Titans.
Put in to bat first, Rajasthan Royals had a decent start as their score read 55/1 after the powerplay. The first wicket of the night fell in the 2nd over. Yash Dayal removed Yashasvi Jaiswal after the RR opener drove the ball to the bounce and nicked it to the keeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Sanju Samson then joined opener Jos Buttler on the crease as the duo started clocking runs for Rajasthan. On the second last ball of the 10th over, skipper Sanju departed after Sai Kishore got the better of him for 47. Devdutt Padikkal was then removed by GT skipper Hardik Pandya in the 15th over while Mohammad Shami dismissed Shimron Hetmyer in the penultimate over. Amid falling wickets, Buttler continued smashing GT bowlers out of the park.
Jos Buttler ended up with 89 off 57 as 58 come off the last four to take RR to 188. It took till the last ball of the 19th over for Jos Buttler to get his first six.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 188/6 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 89, Sanju Samson 47; Hardik Pandya 1-14) vs Gujarat Titans 191/3 in 19.3 overs (David Miller 68*, Hardik Pandya 40*; Trent Boult 1/38).
FRENCH OPEN: ALCARAZ GOES PAST LONDERO, ZVEREV STORMS INTO R2
Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday kicked off his French Open campaign with a win as he trounced Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 on his Court Philippe Chatrier debut.
The teenager has taken the tennis world by storm this season with four titles, becoming the only player to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back in Madrid. German third seed Alexander Zverev started his French Open campaign on Sunday with a clinical performance in a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 win against Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.
Tallon Griekspoor also reached the second round on his Paris debut, upsetting 25th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3.
No.4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece started her French Open 2022 campaign on Sunday with a win over Clara Burel in their first-round match on Court Philippe Chatrier. It took Sakkari one hour and 28 minutes to defeat Burel 6-2, 6-3. Sakkari fired 24 winning points, nearly double her French opponent’s 13 whom she also broke five times.
The victory marks Sakkari’s 20th match-win of the season so far. She will next face Czech Karolina Muchova in the second round on Wednesday.
On the same day, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic dominantly advanced into the second round with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Reka Luca Jani of Hungary.
Leylah Fernandez was next seen in action. She won her first-round match overcoming France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 7-5 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Fernandez will face Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova in the second round, in their first meeting.
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