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Sport

Indian Team Has Very Good Chance At Tokyo Oly: Jarmanpreet

Defender Jarmanpreet Singh, who has been one of the shining stars for the Indian men’s hockey team in the past two years, is currently focussed on maintaining consistency in order to find a place in the side which will travel to Tokyo next year for the Olympic Games.

“I think everyone is really excited for what is to come for Indian hockey in the next few years. I want to make sure that I am part of the team when we go out there and win medals,” said Jarmanpreet.

“I believe that Hockey India has done an exceptional job to provide a platform to players like myself, and I want to repay their support by giving my best on the field. I also think that we have a very good chance to go a long way at the Tokyo Olympics, but before that, just like the rest of the sporting world, I am also hopeful that the mega-event goes ahead as planned,” he added.

The Tokyo Olympics were slated to be held in July-August this year but had to be postponed to next summer following the coronavirus outbreak.

“I was delighted with the way the FIH Hockey Pro League campaign was going for me before the pandemic struck. I felt I had decent outings against the World Champions, and I was really looking forward to the next few games, but now it is just about taking it day-by-day here at the national camp,” said the 24-year-old.

“I feel now our focus has had to shift to maintaining our rhythm and our fitness. But the best thing is that we have also managed to get together, brainstorm and build a clear path towards what we want to achieve in the next few years as a team,” he added.

Jarmanpreet came into the senior team set-up in 2018, and in his debut tournament, wore a silver medal around his neck as India finished second behind Australia at the Champions Trophy 2018 held in The Netherlands.

Jarmanpreet Singh, India Defender



He then went on to win a gold medal with the senior team in only his second tournament at the senior level as India were jointly crowned the Champions of the Asian Champions Trophy 2018 in Muscat, Oman.

Speaking on his early days with the Indian team, Jarmanpreet said, “I think playing for India in itself was a dream come true for me, but to have won back-to-back medals in my first two tournaments is a story I can tell my grandkids one day (laughs).”

“I have had the privilege of representing my country at the highest level, and have also won medals, so it gives me real joy. My aim always is to try to do my best for the team, and to make sure that I am following what my coaches are asking me to do – because I know if I am able to do those things, we will be really successful as a team,” he added.

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Football Sport

India Women Set To Hit The Pitch: Maymol Rocky

Maymol Rocky, head coach of Indian women’s football team, is excited as the team begins its preparation for the forthcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers.

Thirty women footballers have been called up for a national camp that will start from Tuesday in Goa. This is the first senior national women’s camp after coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“The girls have not played football for almost nine months. They are all excited to join the camp. We haven’t seen the women’s team playing for a long time. As of now joining the camp and running on the lush green pitch is what everyone is waiting for,” Maymol said while speaking to the-aiff.com.

“We have been in touch over online sessions and phone calls. But physical interactions always value more, at least in terms of guiding and coaching players. The girls have been following the diet regime and strength and conditioning routine since the start of this unprecedented scenario but the need of the hour is getting used to ball once again,” she added.

The head coach said the initial target of the team would be to get the coordination back.

Maymol Rocky

“Football is a team game and the purpose doesn’t get served until everyone is in sync. We’re looking forward to starting from scratch and get in the grooves quickly.”

In June this year, AFC granted India the right to host the Women’s Asian Cup in 2022.

Talking about the tournament, she said: “The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is the biggest tournament that India women’s senior national team will be playing in years. We competed in Olympic qualifiers but the AFC Women’s Asian Cup is a different ball game altogether.”

“We all are excited about that but there lies a huge responsibility in terms of delivering on the pitch. We’ve to be at the top of our preparations so that we can compete from the get-go. Although we still have a year or more, the preparation is a long-term process and competing with the likes of Asian’s superpowers will be a massive task,” Maymol added.

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

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Cricket Sport

Team India’s ODI Blues continue as players retain ‘T20 Mode’

Lack of bowling options to back up the regular bowlers and inability to switch to the ODI format quickly enough has already plunged India to a series defeat against Australia with one match still left to be played.

India, trailing 0-2 after conceding record totals to Australia in both the ODIs at the Sydney Cricket Ground, have now lost five ODIs in a row. Prior to this they had lost three in New Zealand in February before Covid-19 pandemic halted international cricket.

The two losses in Sydney have, however, have revealed the massive difference between the Australians and Indians when it comes to adapting to the 50-over format from T20 cricket they have played over the last two months.

Skipper Virat Kohli said after the loss in the first ODI that the players hadn’t got out of the T20 mode yet.

“We have been playing T20 cricket. Probably that’s something that can have an effect. Body language wasn’t great after around 25 overs,” he had said. His obvious reference was to the fielding lapses his teammates made, dropping catches and leaking runs in the first game.

But another example of their inability to adapt came during Sunday’s game when team vice-captain KL Rahul, who made 76, failed to rotate the strike regularly. During his 66-ball stay, the wicketkeeper-batsman played 44 per cent of the deliveries as dots i.e. without scoring even a single run off them.

In the Indian Premier League, the focus had been on hitting fours and sixes, and on that count he excelled on Sunday, hitting 46 off nine deliveries with the help of four 4s and five 6s. But his remaining 30 runs took 57 balls and that was caused mainly because of the 29 dot deliveries he faced.

Though David Warner, who too played the full IPL season for SunRisers Hyderabad, also played out well over 45 per cent of his deliveries as dots but as against Rahul who had come in the middle-overs with a target in sight, the Australian had walked in as an opener and was responsible for providing a platform to other batters.

A better comparison would be with Steve Smith, who too batted in the middle overs for Australia but played only 23 per cent of his deliveries as dots in comparison to Rahul’s 44 per cent. He made a 64-ball 104 in the second ODI which Australia won by 51 runs.

India’s other problem had been their inability to take wickets early on, especially in the power-play as Australians managed to get off to a good start on both occasions.

Jasprit Bumrah, who was phenomenal in IPL 2020, conceded runs at 7.3 and 7.9 in the two matches. He also failed to get early wickets finishing with just one each in the two games.

India’s biggest concern, however, has been the lack of an all-round option that could act as back-up to regular bowlers. The visitors tried a semi-fit Hardik Pandya for four overs on Sunday and he did well but if they have to come back to win in Wednesday’s match, they may have to make him bowl more overs. Since he is not game-ready to bowl, it may be hard and risky for him.

Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was India’s match-winning spinner in ODIs till recently, conceded 160 runs in 20 overs he has bowled, picking just one wicket. They may now have to turn to Kuldeep Yadav, who hasn’t played too many games in recent times.

Also Read: Dhoni, Kohli, Mithali among ICC Player of the Decade nominees

Also Read: Kohli’s absence an opportunity for youngsters: Ravi Shastri

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Football Sport

Senegal Football Legend Papa Dies

Legendary Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba Diop has passed away at the age of 42.

Diop, who won 63 caps for Senegal, scored the goal which secured a historic 1-0 win over France in their opening FIFA World Cup match in 2002, a tournament where Senegal made it to the quarterfinals.

“FIFA is saddened to learn of the passing of Senegal legend Papa Bouba Diop. Once a World Cup hero, always a World Cup hero,” FIFA confirmed the news on Sunday evening on their official Twitter handle.

“Among Diop’s many accomplishments, he will always be remembered for scoring the opening goal of the 2002 World Cup. RIP, Papa Bouba Diop,” a tweet from FIFA read.

Senegal president Macky Sall also paid tribute on Twitter, saying: “The death of Pape Bouba Diop is a great loss for Senegal.”

“I pay tribute to a good footballer, respected by all for his courtesy and his talent, proudly reminding us of the Lions saga in 2002. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family and to the football world,” he added.

The midfielder joined Fulham from Lens two years later and excelled as a powerful defensive midfield enforcer and was affectionately known as the ‘Wardrobe’ due to his stature.

“We are devastated to hear news reports this evening that Papa Bouba Diop has passed away, aged 42. Rest well, Wardrobe,” tweeted Fulham FC.

Current Senegal international Sadio Mane wrote on Instagram: “Pape Bouba, it was with a broken heart that we learned of your (death). Know that you will forever remain in our hearts even if you left without saying goodbye to us.”

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

Also Read: Australia seeks apology over ‘repugnant’ Tweet by China

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India News Sport

Guha slams ‘demigod superstar’ culture in Indian cricket

Historian Ramachandra Guha, a former member of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) that ran the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) during the reforms process ordered by the Supreme Court, has lashed out at the superstar culture in Indian cricket that has allowed top cricketers to have veto power over every decision.

In an interview to www.espncricinfo.com about his new book, The Commonwealth of Cricket, Guha lavished praised on former India captain Bishan Bedi but blames the Board, especially the Vinod Rai-headed CoA, for not showing enough spine to stand up to the likes of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

“When Bedi once gave a television interview where he said some sarcastic things, he was banned for a (Test) match in Bangalore in 1974. Players had to get more power, they had to get organised, they had to be noticed, they had to be paid properly, which took a very long time. The generation of Bedi and (Sunil) Gavaskar was not really paid well till the fag end of their careers,” said Guha.

“But now to elevate them into demigods and icons — one of the things I talk about is (Virat) Kohli and (Anil) Kumble and their rift (Kumble was forced to step down as coach after the 2017 Champions Trophy). How essentially Kohli had a veto over who could be his coach, which is not the case in any sporting team anywhere,” Guha questioned the power given to the Indian captain.

Ramachandra Guha, Sourav Ganguly

Guha also touched upon an incident during a CoA meeting when he had asked the committee to consider demoting Dhoni in the central contracts system as he had retired from Test cricket. The rest of CoA, he says, was too scared to do that.

“(MS) Dhoni had decided: I’m not going to play Test cricket. He was only playing one-day cricket. And I said (in the CoA) that he should not get a (Grade) A contract. Simple. That contract is for people who play throughout the year. He has said, ‘I’m not playing Test cricket’. Fine. That’s his choice and he can be picked for the shorter form if he is good enough. (They said) ‘No, we are too scared to demote him from A to B’. And more than the board, the CoA, appointed by the Supreme Court, chaired by a senior IAS officer, was too scared. I thought it was hugely, hugely problematic. So I protested about it while I was there. And when I got nowhere, I wrote about it,” he explains.

Guha also lashed out at the current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, saying that the former India captain has capitulated.

“(Sourav) Ganguly (the BCCI president) has capitulated. I mean, there are things he should not be doing, given his extraordinary playing record and his credibility, whether he should be practising this shocking conflict of interest. The kind of example it sets is abysmal. I say this with some sadness because I admired Ganguly as a cricketer and as a captain. I’m glad I’m out of it and I’m just a fan again. I can just enjoy the game and not bother about the murkiness within the administration,” he said.

Guha called Bishan Bedi a man of character.

“He is a person of enormous character, integrity and principle. He never equivocates, he never makes excuses. And he calls it as it is. These kinds of people are rare in public life in India. To find someone like Bishan Bedi, who is ramrod straight in his conduct, in any sphere of public life in India today is increasingly rare. He is also an incredibly generous man,” Guha said of Bedi.

Also Read: Don’t change traditional dates for BCCI: Allan Border

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Football India News Sport

The ‘King of Football’ will be missed: Igor Stimac

Igor Stimac, head coach of the Indian men’s football team, has paid a rich tribute to Diego Maradona, saying the Argentine was the “king of football”.

Maradona, who enthralled fans across the world with his skills, passed away on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home in the Tigre district on the northern outskirts of Buenos Aires.

“Diego Maradona – the “King of Football”, the legend. How can someone describe him with one word or just an adjective? After representing my country for so many years and playing for so many clubs over the course of my career, I am still in awe of this maestro,” Stimac was quoted as saying by the-aiff.com.

Stimac played against Maradona on two occasions. Before the FIFA World Cup in 1994, when Argentina played an international friendly against Croatia, Stimac had a chance to play against the legendary footballer.

“His balance and acceleration were things that every defender was scared of. You could barely knock him down while he was running with the ball. His no-look passes were intimidating. We played a friendly match played in Zagreb, Croatia before they would travel to the USA to participate in the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Very often, he was dropping deep to receive the ball, and his long deliveries to (Gabriel) Batistuta and (Caludio) Caniggia were absolutely perfect,” said the former Croatia defender.

India head coach Igor Stimac

“He was everywhere on the pitch. Sometimes, he was running past the defender through the right-flank. Next, he was seen playing a quick one-two with the forwards to work an attacking move. It was a menacing task to contain with the deadly attackers, obviously led by none but Diego and as a central defender, it was a real test for me. Thankfully, we came out with a stalemate in front of 38,000-strong Croat supporters at the Maksimir Stadium that night. But, Diego’s performance was very, very special that night and we were really fortunate to have shared the pitch with him,” he added.

Before that, in the 1992-93 La Liga season, both had faced each other when Maradona represented Sevilla, while Stimac was donning the Cadiz CF shirt.

“During 1992-93 La Liga campaign, I had another opportunity to play against him when he was with Sevilla. He was the biggest star among the stars including Davor Suker, my then national teammate, Diego Simeone, and their FIFA World Cup-winning coach Carlos Bilardo,” said Stimac.

Maradona led Argentina to victory at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and was particularly well-known for the two goals he scored against England in the quarter-final clash. One was later voted “Goal of the Century”, while the other is generally referred to as the “Hand of God”, a reference to the fact that the goal should have been disallowed for handball.

Diego Maradona

“El Diego had a heart of pure gold. He didn’t think twice before expressing himself. He never thought about how people would judge him. He lived on his own terms, left on his terms, rendering us shell-shocked. You will be missed, Diego,” Stimac said.

Also Read: OBIT: Diego Maradona

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Cricket Sport

Ind, Aus players take part in ‘barefoot circle’ against racism

Players of both Australia and India cricket teams on Friday paid tribute to Australia’s indigenous people by taking part in a ‘barefoot circle’ ceremony before the start of the first ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

“Players from both teams paid tribute to Australia’s indigenous people in a Barefoot Circle ceremony before the start of play,” ICC tweeted along with the pictures of the ceremony.

While many teams across the globe have taken a knee before games in their fight against racism, the Australian cricket team will participate in barefoot circle ceremonies before all international matches this summer.

“The barefoot circle is a cricket centric way for players and teams to take a moment prior to matches to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, connect to each other as opponents and pay respect to the country,” Cricket Australia says.

“This is done barefoot as a way to connect to country, but also a moment to reflect that we are all common ground, we are all human beings and we need to stand strong with each other, for each other,” it adds.

This series is the first time India are competing for points in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, which will determine qualification for the 2023 World Cup.

Ten points are awarded for a win and Australia already has 20 points from their 2-1 series win over England.

Friday’s match is taking place on the anniversary of the death of former Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes. Hughes was fatally struck by a bouncer during the Sheffield Shield at the same ground six years ago.

Also Read: Dhoni, Kohli, Mithali among ICC Player of the Decade nominees

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-Top News Sport World News

OBIT: Diego Maradona

Rarely can a sportsperson legitimately be described by as wide an array of adjectives that have been used for Maradona. His skills on the pitch made him captivating, talismanic, charismatic, and went on to establish him as a legend of the game and at the same time, his behaviour off it, and at times on it, have led to people calling him reckless, obnoxious, disgraceful, clownish, and so on…writes Rohit Mundayur

Widely rated as the greatest footballer of all time, there was no stopping Diego Maradona’s aura from reaching levels of divinity wherever he went, with or without the ball on his feet. His murals, most of which show him with a halo behind or over his head or in the garb of Jesus Christ himself, adorn the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Naples, Italy.

It was evident when Maradona arrived in Kolkata in 2008 and 2017 to cheering crowds. He had been retired from the game for well over a decade by then and his health was making more headlines than any football related activities. None of that mattered for the more than 1,00,000 people who flocked the Salt Lake Stadium on December 6, 2008.

It was also evident by the flood of tributes that came from all walks of life as news of his death spread around the world on November 25, 2020.

Rarely can a sportsperson legitimately be described by as wide an array of adjectives that have been used for Maradona. His skills on the pitch made him captivating, talismanic, charismatic, and went on to establish him as a legend of the game and at the same time, his behaviour off it, and at times on it, have led to people calling him reckless, obnoxious, disgraceful, clownish, and so on.

The dichotomy that came with loving Maradona was best captured by former England and Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand after Argentina’s group stage match against Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup. Maradona was in the stands and was at his absurd best, making obscene gestures and overdoing his celebrations as Lionel Messi and company got a crucial win.

“That guy was my idol. He is my idol. What that man did on a football pitch — he is the governor. He is the main man. He made me believe that football was achievable from an estate in Peckham. I have the most love for this guy, the way that he was on a football pitch. I don’t condone what he did last night. The pictures that we have seen. The finger gesturing. But I don’t condone people laughing at him either. I just hope he’s alright. The pictures that we saw weren’t great but I hope he’s going to be OK,” said Ferdinand in a video he tweeted later.

Born in a slum area in the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires on October 30, 1960, Maradona made his senior debut for Buenos Aires-based Argentinos Juniors in 1976. He went on to a play for Argentine giants Boca Juniors in the 1981-82 season. He then shifted to Europe where he spent two tumultuous seasons with Spanish giants Barcelona. His tenure with the Catalan club ended with a nasty brawl that triggered crowd trouble in the 1984 Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

Maradona then went to Italian club Napoli, where he had arguably the most productive period of his career. He won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup in his seven seasons with the club, leaving as their all-time highest goalscorer, a record that stood until Marek Hamsik overtook his tally in 2017. He went on to spend a season each at Spanish club Sevilla and Argentina’s Newell’s Old Boys before ending his career at Boca.

He played at a time when global broadcast deals were not even in the sphere of relevances for most European football leagues which meant that most of the world got a glimpse of Maradona only when he turned out for the Albiceleste of Argentina at the World Cup. He was immortalised in his country and beyond by his performance in the 1986 World Cup, particularly, the quarter-final against England in which he scored two of the most famous goals in the hallowed history of the tournament.

Diego Maradona

The first goal was scored with his hand and his explanation in the immediate aftermath that he had made contact with the ball “a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God”, led to the goal being known as “The Hand of God”.

Four minutes later, Maradona went on a 60-yard run with the ball from midfield, dribbling past six English players, and ended the move with a feint that left goalkeeper Peter Shilton on the ground, and scored what has since been called “The Goal of the Century”.

The extremes of his life is best summarised by the fact that his 17-year-long international career, which perhaps did more to forge an identity for Argentine football than anything else, ended when he was sent home from the 1994 World Cup after a failed drug test. He played only two matches in the tournament.

It may have been an ignominious end but hardly a surprising one. Fans had long accepted that Maradona’s devils were part of the package — a package that was too good to hate.

Also Read: BREAKING: Football Legend Diego Maradona Dies Aged 60

Also Read: Legendary Diego Maradona turns 60

Read More: Maradona Wishes Ronaldo Was Argentine

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Cricket Sport

New Zealand’s Greg Barclay is the new ICC Chairman

Greg Barclay, an Auckland-based commercial lawyer and director of New Zealand Cricket (NZC) since 2012, has been elected as the new chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“It is an honour to be elected as the chair of the International Cricket Council and I would like to thank my fellow ICC Directors for their support. I hope we can come together to lead the sport and emerge from the global pandemic in a strong position and poised for growth,” said Barclay as per an ICC media release.

Barclay, who is currently NZC’s representative on the board of the ICC, succeeds Shashank Manohar who stepped down earlier this year. He will step down from his position at NZC to replace Imran Khawaja at the helm, who had stepped in as the interim chairman when Manohar’s two-year term ended in July this year.

Barclay was a director of 2015 World Cup and is a former board member and chairman of the Northern Districts Cricket Association. He is also an experienced company director holding board positions with various New Zealand and Australian companies.

“I look forward to working in partnership with our Members to strengthen the game in our core markets as well as grow it beyond that ensuring more of the world can enjoy cricket. I take my position as a custodian of the game very seriously and am committed to working on behalf of all 104 ICC Members to create a sustainable future for our sport,” said Barclay.

“I’d like to thank Imran Khwaja for his leadership as acting ICC Chair during a difficult period for the game and I look forward to continuing a close working relationship with him in the future,” he added.

Also Read: ‘Universe Boss’ becomes the first to score 1,000 sixes in T20 cricket

Also Read: Oldest living test cricket player turns 109

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Sport Woman

‘Wasn’t sure about returning to court after pregnancy’

Ace Indian tennis player Sania Mirza has opened up about her time during pregnancy and how she felt she could never return to the court again.

Sania, who married to Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik in 2010, gave birth to baby boy Izhaan in October 2018. After that in January 2020, she made a return to tennis circuit and won the doubles title at the WTA Hobart International 2020 with her Ukrainian partner Nadiia Kichenok.

“Pregnancy and having a baby made me a better person,” said Sania in an open letter – ‘An Ode to All Mothers’ after watching ‘Being Serena’ on Discovery Plus.

“Pregnancy is something that I had experienced for the first time in my life. I thought about it and I think we all have a certain picture about it but once you experience it, you really understand what it means. It absolutely changes you as a human being,” she added.

Later came the part to overcome the physical obstacles and get back to her earlier self to make a comeback to the court.

“Getting back to shape and form after pregnancy can be a challenge and I can relate to Serena and every other woman on that. I think it’s normal for everyone because you don’t know how your body is going to react post-pregnancy and during pregnancy,” said the 34-year-old.

Lastly, the Indian tennis star — while depicting her transformation journey and the sheer joy of being on the court — said, “Having put-on around 23kg during my pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get back to being fit and playing tennis again.”

“However, I lost around 26 kilos with a lot of workout regimes and very strict diets and came back to tennis because that’s what I know, love and do. Finally, when I won at Hobart after coming back it was pretty amazing. I was honestly very proud of myself to have been able to put myself to compete at the highest level again and I think that’s where I was mentally,” she added.

Also Read: Dhoni, Kohli, Mithali among ICC Player of the Decade nominees

Also Read: Kohli’s absence an opportunity for youngsters: Ravi Shastri