Indian Table Tennis Sensations Stun Chinese Powerhouses at World Championships

In the realm of table tennis, the Chinese dominance is a well-established narrative. They typically steamroll through competitions, leaving little room for doubt. The 2022 World Team Table Tennis Championships exemplified this trend as the Chinese women’s team clinched the gold medal without dropping a single match. Sun Yingsha, in particular, boasted an impeccable record, having never been defeated in such events, triumphing in all her 26 singles matches in international team tournaments.

However, in a dramatic turn of events, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula emerged as the unlikely protagonists, scripting their own narratives of success. Their performances on Friday were nothing short of remarkable, marked by monumental victories in their singles careers.

The duo caused quite the stir by stunning the world’s top-ranked players. Ayhika Mukherjee overcame World No. 1 Sun Yingsha, while Sreeja Akula outplayed No. 2 Wang Yidi. Their stellar performances propelled India to a surprising 2-1 lead against China in the opening encounter of the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan. Although the Chinese powerhouses eventually managed to restore order and secure a 3-2 victory, their dominance was notably challenged, shaking them unlike in recent memory.

Remarkably, this wasn’t the first time Indian women had outshone their Chinese counterparts. Less than six months prior, Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee had triumphed over Wang and Cheng Meng, securing the Asian Games doubles bronze—a feat previously deemednearly improbable in women’s table tennis.

Ayhika Mukherjee’s distinctive playing style, featuring the Dr. Neubauer Gorilla backhand rubber, played a pivotal role in unsettling the formidable Sun Yingsha. Her 3-1 victory (12-10, 2-11, 13-11, 11-6) provided India with a crucial early lead. However, India’s top-ranked player, Manika Batra, faltered against world No. 4 Wang Manyu, losing 1-3 (3-11, 8-11, 15-13, 6-11). It was then up to Sreeja Akula, newly ranked in the top 50, to elevate the team with a clinical 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 13-11) triumph over No. 2 Wang Yidi. Although Manika Batra managed to claim a game in her match against Sun Yingsha, she ultimately succumbed to a 1-3 defeat (3-11, 6-11, 13-11, 9-11). Meanwhile, Wang Manyu proved too formidable for Ayhika Mukherjee in the decider, securing a 3-0 victory (11-9, 13-11, 11-6).

While the defeat may have pinched India, especially considering the promising position they found themselves in, it also injected a renewed sense of belief for their upcoming group matches. Their next challenge against Hungary holds the potential to secure a quarter-final finish and possibly secure a Paris Olympics quota from the event.

Ayhika Mukherjee’s unorthodox playing style, coupled with her change of pace from the anti-spin backhand rubber, kept the top-ranked player, Sun Yingsha, on the back foot. Despite trailing in every game, Ayhikashowcased resilience, consistently finding a way to surge ahead. Notably, in the opening game, she fought back from deficits of 3-5 and 7-10, saving three game points and clinching victory with a rally dominated by her backhand strokes.

Sreeja Akula, on the other hand, relied on her formidable forehand to unsettle the world No. 2, Wang Yidi. Asserting dominance from the outset, Sreeja demonstrated her prowess with big forehands, seizing control of crucial points. Her composed demeanor and strategic use of backhand slices paved the way for a straight-game victory, a rare sight against a Chinese opponent.

Reflecting on her triumph, Ayhika Mukherjee expressed her elation, stating, “I really feel great beating Sun Yingsha. Today was my day… I was confident and I just told myself that I should enjoy the match.”

Indeed, the unexpected victories of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sreeja Akula have not only challenged the established order but have also sparked hope and excitement for the future of Indian table tennis on the international stage.

Super Bowl 2024 Breaks Records: Taylor Swift’s Presence and Usher’s Halftime Show Propel Viewership to New Heights

This year’s Super Bowl drew in an average of 123.4 million viewers in the United States, marking it as the most-watched broadcast since the 1969 Moon landing. Initial US TV ratings positioned Sunday’s game closely trailing Apollo 11’s momentous touchdown, which garnered an estimated viewership of 125 to 150 million individuals. The match saw the Kansas City Chiefs triumph over the San Francisco 49ers with a score of 25-22 in overtime.

The anticipation surrounding Taylor Swift’s attendance to support her boyfriend Travis Kelce likely contributed to the heightened viewership figures. Speculation had been rife leading up to the event regarding Swift’s return from Japan, where she had been touring. According to Variety, there is ongoing discussion regarding the extent of her impact on the audience numbers, although consumer research firm Numerator, through a flash poll, concluded that 20% of Super Bowl viewers were inclined towards the Chiefs due to the singer’s association with Kelce. The cameras certainly captured the Swift factor, with footage showcasing her entrance into the arena, interactions with actress Blake Lively and rapper Ice Spice, and a celebratory kiss with Kelce post-match.

Out of the 123.4 million average viewers, 112 million tuned in to CBS for the game, while the remainder accessed it through platforms such as Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, CBS Sports, and NFL digital channels. Nielsen, the media analysis firm, reported a record-breaking 202.4 million individuals watched at least a portion of the game. This year’s figures might have also received a boost due to Nielsen’s revised methodology in counting viewers watching outside their homes, such as in social gatherings or public venues like bars.

Comparatively, last year’s Super Bowl matchup between the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles attracted 115.1 million viewers. The defending champion status of the Chiefs, coupled with Usher headlining the halftime show, added to the allure of this year’s event. Usher’s halftime performance featured guest appearances from Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Will.i.am, Lil Jon, Ludacris, and Jermaine Dupri.

Post-game festivities for Usher included his marriage to long-time partner Jennifer Goicoechea in Las Vegas, where the Super Bowl took place. The couple tied the knot at Vegas Weddings’ Terrace Gazebo, an outdoor wedding venue accommodating up to 30 guests, as per People magazine. A representative for the singer confirmed the marriage, expressing their anticipation for the couple’s continued journey together raising their children amidst love and gratitude for the well-wishes received.

Defensive Dominance and Dramatic Turnovers Define Super Bowl Showdown: 49ers and Chiefs Battle to Overtime Thriller

In the much-anticipated clash under the dazzling lights of the city, offensive fireworks were expected from the star players of both teams. However, it was the defensive units that stole the spotlight, turning the game into an error-laden contest marked by four turnovers.

The first turnover occurred early in the game, on the fifth play, as San Francisco’s running back, Christian McCaffrey, unexpectedly fumbled the ball – a rare occurrence for him, given that it was only his third fumble of the season. Despite this setback, the 49ers managed to open the scoring with a field goal at the onset of the second quarter.

As both Patrick Mahomes and 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy struggled to ignite their respective offenses, San Francisco introduced a trick play into the mix. Wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who hadn’t thrown a competitive pass since high school, executed the play to perfection, connecting with McCaffrey for a touchdown.

The Chiefs responded with a field goal just before halftime, narrowing the gap. They then took the lead with a field goal and a touchdown by Marquez Valdes-Scantling late in the third quarter.

Undeterred, the 49ers swiftly retaliated, and it seemed like coach Shanahan would finally overcome the Super Bowl woes from his two previous appearances. Shanahan made a bold decision to go for it on fourth down, a move that paid off as Purdy successfully converted. Two plays later, Purdy found Jennings, making him only the second player in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass in the same game – a feat previously achieved by Nick Foles in the Eagles’ victory over the Patriots in 2017.

However, the jubilation was short-lived as Jake Moody’s attempt for the extra point was blocked. This turned out to be a pivotal moment, leaving the score at 16-13. The Chiefs capitalized on this opportunity, tying the game with a field goal on the next drive. Harrison Butker’s fourth field goal leveled the score at 19-19, forcing the game into overtime after Moody’s third successful kick had given the 49ers a slim lead with two minutes left in regulation time.

Empowering Dreams: Inside India’s Rural Wrestling School Shaping Future Olympians

Just a few hours away from the bustling streets of New Delhi, Anushree Fadnavis, a photojournalist with Reuters, delved into the world of young female wrestlers undergoing training in the rustic countryside of Sisai, a village nestled in the Indian state of Haryana.

Her lens captured the aspirations of these girls as they aimed to emulate the success of trailblazers like Sakshi Malik, who etched her name in history books as the first Indian woman wrestler to clinch an Olympic medal in 2016.

Traditionally a male-dominated sport in India, wrestling has witnessed a surge in interest among female athletes in recent times, with institutions like the Altius school playing a pivotal role in nurturing this emerging talent.

“I wanted to capture their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and their drive to succeed,” expressed Fadnavis, reflecting on her motivation behind the project.

Established in 2009 by Usha Sharma, India’s pioneering female wrestling coach, along with her husband, Sanjay Sihag, the Altius school stands as a beacon of empowerment, driven by Sharma’s firsthand experiences of navigating the constraints of a patriarchal society.

“In a village, an animal has more value to it than a woman, as an animal gives milk and there is a cost attached to it,” Sharma lamented, shedding light on the prevailing gender dynamics in rural settings.

Fadnavis spent two immersive days at the school, witnessing firsthand the camaraderie among the students as they supported each other in their modest training facilities.

“What surprised me was the grit and determination of the girls to train themselves for a sport that requires a lot of physical strength,” she remarked, noting the shifting societal attitudes reflected in parents’ willingness to send their daughters to a residential school far from home.

Except for Sundays, the students adhere to a rigorous schedule, commencing their day at 4 a.m. with fitness routines and training sessions, punctuated by academic lessons and self-prepared meals—a routine embraced by all, fostering independence and self-reliance.

“Women in the villages in Haryana have very little to no agency in their lives and hence are very dependent on their families and especially men in their lives,” Fadnavis observed, underscoring the transformative impact of the school on its students.

The stories of alumni like Sonu Kaliraman, who transitioned from a farm laborer to an international wrestler under the tutelage of Altius, serve as testament to the profound influence of female mentors in providing a nurturing environment for aspiring athletes.

“Most of them told me that having a woman coach really helps them, as they can be themselves and don’t have to overexplain things to anyone,” Fadnavis relayed, highlighting the significance of representation and mentorship.

A poignant moment during Kaliraman’s home visit, where her mother expressed pride in her achievements, resonated deeply with Fadnavis, evoking memories of her own journey from a career in software engineering to photography, inspired by a close friend.

“It felt great to see the girls have so many different opportunities and someone who could guide them on the right path,” she remarked, emphasizing the role of belief and encouragement in fostering success.

While not all students may ascend to podiums or lucrative contracts, their tenure at Altius equips them with a support network, lifelong friendships, and invaluable lessons for their journey ahead.

“When I opened the academy and we started getting medals, it felt nice to know that the same girls who used to graze cows and buffaloes are now being favored by the men in the family,” Sharma reflected, encapsulating the transformative impact of the school in reshaping societal perceptions and fostering empowerment among its students.

Boxing Legend Mary Kom Announces Retirement, Leaves Legacy of Six World Titles

Six-time World Champion and 2012 Olympic medalist Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom announced her retirement from boxing on Wednesday. Mary Kom, 41, decided to hang up her boxing gloves due to the age restrictions set by the International Boxing Association (IBA), which allows male and female boxers to compete in elite-level competitions only until the age of 40.

Expressing her desire to continue competing at the elite level, Mary stated, “I have the hunger still but unfortunately because of the age limit it is over I cannot compete in any competition. I want to play more but I am being forced to quit (due to the age limit). I have to retire. I have achieved everything in my life.”

Mary Kom holds a remarkable legacy in the sport, being the first female boxer in history to secure six world titles. Her illustrious career includes notable milestones such as being the first female boxer from India to claim a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games and winning a bronze medal in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Her journey in boxing began at the age of 18 when she made her mark on the world stage at the inaugural world meet in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Despite falling short in the final of the 48kg category, her exceptional talent and near-flawless boxing style left a lasting impression on spectators.

Over the years, Mary Kom’s dominance in the sport became evident as she continuously raised the bar of excellence. She became the first Indian to clinch a gold medal at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, triumphing in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2010 editions. Following her victory in 2008, she took a break from boxing after giving birth to twins.

After her remarkable performance in the 2012 Olympics, where she won a bronze medal, Mary Kom once again took a hiatus following the birth of her third child. However, she made a triumphant return to the ring, securing her sixth world title at the 2018 World Championships held in Delhi. Her victory over Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota showcased her unwavering determination and skill, solidifying her status as one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Mary Kom’s achievements extend beyond her world titles, as she holds the record for the most world medals by any male or female boxer, with a total of eight. Her retirement marks the end of an era in boxing, leaving behind a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

India Levels Series with Resounding Victory Over South Africa in Shortest-Ever Test Match

India secured a convincing seven-wicket victory over South Africa at Newlands in the second test, leveling the two-match series at 1-1 in a match that concluded within five sessions. In a pursuit of a modest target of 79, India finished their second innings at 80 for three, strategically countering a challenging wicket that still favored the bowlers.

Rohit Sharma led the charge, remaining unbeaten at 16, while Shreyas Iyer contributed 4 runs. The wickets of Yashasvi Jaiswal (28), Shubman Gill (10), and Virat Kohli (12) were the only setbacks for the Indian side.

The brevity of the match, completed in 642 balls, raised eyebrows, setting a new record for the shortest-ever test match with a decisive winner, surpassing Australia’s 656-ball victory over South Africa in 1932. Reflecting on the achievement, India’s captain Rohit Sharma commented, “Obviously it’s a great feat, but having said that we had to learn from whatever mistakes we made (in the first test). The bowlers still have to put the ball in the right areas and the boys got rewarded for it. When you come to this part of the world, it’s always difficult, but we take pride in our performance outside of India.”

South Africa, winning the toss and opting to bat, faced a dire situation in their first innings, getting dismissed for a mere 55 on a record-breaking opening day. However, they made a comeback by restricting India to 153 in their first innings, a phase where the visitors lost six wickets without adding a single run, an unprecedented occurrence in 147 years of test cricket.

Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the star performer for India, claiming six wickets for 61 runs. His exceptional line and length, coupled with poor shot selection from the South African batsmen, played a crucial role in dismantling the home side. The hosts were bowled out for 176 in their second innings just before lunch on the second day, setting the stage for India’s triumph.

Aiden Markram provided a glimmer of resistance for South Africa, scoring a rapid 106 despite challenging conditions. His century, achieved in 99 balls, was an impressive display of skill. However, Markram’s aggressive approach cost him dearly, as he mistimed a delivery from Mohammed Siraj, resulting in a skied shot caught by Rohit Sharma at mid-off. Markram’s innings included 17 fours and two sixes.

Reflecting on the match, South Africa’s retiring captain, Dean Elgar, expressed disappointment over their poor first innings with the bat. “A tough one for us, we were positive coming into the game, but the first innings with the bat… India bowled well and used the conditions to a tee,” he remarked. Elgar defended his decision to bat first, stating, “It (the wicket) was a bit of a ripper, to the naked eye it looked a nice one, but it played different to what everyone thought it would play. I still don’t regret my decision to bat first, but they outskilled us in the first session.”

The series, now leveled at 1-1, has seen a reversal of fortunes for both teams. South Africa dominated the first test, winning by an innings and 32 runs, while India showcased resilience and adaptability to claim victory in the second test. As the cricketing world reflects on this intriguing series, the focus will undoubtedly shift to the upcoming matches, with anticipation building for more competitive and enthralling encounters between these two cricketing giants.

Harmanpreet Kaur’s Pioneering Achievements Mark a New Era in Women’s Cricket

If you’re familiar with Harmanpreet Kaur, you likely remember her historic 171 not-out during India’s remarkable victory in the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-final against Australia. Kaur, now 34 and the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, has since added several groundbreaking accomplishments to her illustrious career in 2023, the 15th year of her international journey.

In February, Kaur achieved the milestone of being the first cricketer to play 150 T20s. The following month, she made history again by becoming the first captain to lead her team to victory in the Women’s Premier League. Later in the year, she co-captained India to their first-ever Asian Games gold medal in cricket, standing alongside Smriti Mandhana.

Wisden recognized her as one of its five cricketers of the year, a notable achievement for any Indian woman. BBC’s 100 influential women of the year and TIME magazine’s 100 Next list also featured Kaur, highlighting her increasing influence in the field.

Australia captain Alyssa Healy praised Kaur’s leadership, stating, “She’s an unbelievably talented cricketer and has showcased that for an extended period of time. But what she has done in leading this Indian side, and almost this new generation of Indian women cricket into the modern game, has been really amazing to watch.”

Kaur’s journey from a small town to cricket stardom is a compelling narrative. Hailing from Moga, known as the “drug capital” of Punjab, Kaur, the oldest of three siblings, began playing cricket with a hockey stick alongside boys in her neighborhood. Her life took a definitive turn when she met her mentor, Kamaldheesh Singh Sodhi, between 2006 and 2007, setting her on the path to a serious cricketing career.

Sodhi’s son, Yadwinder, who also served as Kaur’s first coach, emphasized her natural athleticism and fearless temperament, which fueled her passion for the game and contributed to her success. Kaur’s impact on women’s cricket in India, especially alongside vice-captain Mandhana, has been pivotal in elevating the sport’s popularity.

Former India captain Anjum Chopra acknowledged Kaur’s role as a trailblazer, stating, “Every era has two or three such figures, and Harman has been in the driver’s seat for a few years now, especially since getting the captaincy in T20s [in 2016].” Taking on full-time leadership across formats after the retirement of Mithali Raj last year further elevated her standing.

With over 6,500 runs in 290 international appearances, Kaur has led India to unprecedented success both at home and abroad. In 2020, she guided the team to their first T20 World Cup final, secured the inaugural ODI series win in England in almost 23 years, and won silver at the Commonwealth Games’ first women’s cricket competition.

Former India head coach WV Raman highlighted Kaur’s team-centric approach, saying, “The most important thing that I remember about working with Harman was the way she was always looking to do things for the team.” He commended her calm and receptive demeanor, emphasizing her dedication to the team’s success.

While Kaur’s prowess in limited-overs formats remains her stronghold, she made a significant impact in Test cricket in December. On her Test captaincy debut, she displayed an attacking mindset, contributing to India’s record 347-run victory against England in Navi Mumbai. Kaur further solidified her Test leadership credentials by leading India Women to a historic Test victory against Australia in Mumbai.

Speaking before the England Test, Kaur expressed her focus on team growth, stating, “I want this team to grow in a way that everyone says that this is the best team.” Despite her personal achievements, she emphasized the importance of team success, considering cricket a team sport.

Kaur’s playing style, described as one of the most aggressive in modern cricket, reflects her paradoxical personality. Her batting is defined by poise and power, while her private demeanor is characterized by affable reticence. However, her occasional struggles with on-field conduct have drawn attention. In June, she received a two-match ban from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for an outburst during an ODI against Bangladesh.

Anjum Chopra offered a perspective on Kaur’s occasional outbursts, stating, “You can be angry if you don’t feel a decision was right, but you can’t have an outburst in front of the world.” She emphasized the importance of authenticity, suggesting that sacrificing natural instincts for a picture-perfect persona would make an athlete less relatable.

Former India head coach WV Raman and Anjum Chopra believe that the next three years could be Kaur’s most consistent and best, considering her growing self-awareness and understanding of her cricket. With a team that shares her commitment to development, Kaur is poised to leave an unrivaled legacy in women’s cricket.

As the stars align, Kaur’s legacy could be marked by India’s first senior women’s World Cup win, whether in the T20 edition in Bangladesh next year or at home in the ODI edition in 2025, or perhaps both. Harmanpreet Kaur’s journey continues to shape the landscape of women’s cricket, inspiring the next generation of players and leaving an indelible mark on the sport.

Indian Boxers Shine at IBA Junior World Boxing Championships 2023

In a stellar display of skill and determination, reigning Asian Junior champions Nisha (52kg) and Akansha (70kg) secured medals, leading a formidable contingent of Indian pugilists who confirmed their places on the podium during the seventh day of the IBA Junior World Boxing Championships 2023 in Yerevan, Armenia.

The Indian girls showcased their dominance as all five boxers in action emerged victorious, advancing to the semifinals. Akansha (70kg) started the day aggressively, but her Uzbekistan counterpart, Kurbonboeva Rayhona, posed a challenge with a counterattack. Despite the setback, Akansha claimed victory with a 4-1 split decision. Nisha (52kg) exhibited her strength against Grace Conway of Ireland, securing a unanimous 5-0 decision. Shrushti displayed prowess in the 63kg category, winning comfortably as the referee stopped the contest in round two against Mariia Kazaova of Russia. Kritika (75kg) mirrored the dominance, preventing Melendez Sanchez of Mexico from settling down and winning the bout by referee stopping the contest in round one. Vini (57kg) advanced to the semis with a walkover as her opponent Nunez Naiomi of Trinidad and Tobago conceded.

While the girls excelled, the boys had a mixed day. Three out of the five competing boxers progressed to the final four. Hemant Sangwan (80+kg) and Sikandar (48kg) exhibited exceptional performances, winning with identical 5-0 decisions against Bachevvski Roselin of Bulgaria and Urmanov Ramzidin of Kyrgyzstan, respectively. In the 75kg quarterfinals, Sahil faced a tough challenge from Ruslan Esanov of Uzbekistan but secured a 3-2 split decision victory, showcasing impressive quick movements and decision-making. However, M. Kabiraj Singh (63kg) and Rahul Kundu (70kg) faced defeats in the quarterfinals.

With eight more medals added, India’s total medal count now stands at an impressive 17, with Megha (80kg) having already confirmed a medal after receiving a bye in the initial two rounds. A total of 17 Indian boxers, including 12 girls, are set to compete in the semifinals, reflecting the nation’s prowess on the international boxing stage.

India Abstains from Vote On UNGA Resolution On ‘Better World Through Sports’

Two days after the Cricket World Cup final, India has absented itself from voting on a General Assembly resolution on sports promoting “understanding among peoples and nations”.

Being absent during the voting on Tuesday does not amount to a formal abstention as it is not put on record.

The resolution, “Building a Peaceful and Better World through Sport and the Olympic Ideal”, was adopted with 118 votes while only Russia and Syria formally abstained.

India’s UN Mission did not respond to an IANS query about the absence.

The Assembly session was sparsely attended and 73 countries had stayed away.

The resolution said, “Sports can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding among peoples and nations.”

Sponsored by France, it tied the resolution to the Paris Olympics next year and called for an international truce for the event in a tradition going back to 776 BCE when the ancient Greeks stopped fighting during the games.

The truce is “to ensure the safe passage, access and participation of athletes, officials and all other accredited persons” attending the “Olympics and the Paralympic Games,” the resolution said.

It also called for ensuring the safety of the Games.

“Sports can play to prevent and counter-terrorism and violent extremism” and build “resilience against radicalisation to violence and terror recruitment,” it added.

Introducing the resolution on behalf of France, Tony Estanguet, the President of the Paris 2024 Olympic Organising Committee, said, “The games are the best incarnation of the powers of sport because they bring together tolerance, respect and sharing as values throughout the world.”

The Olympics show that “it is possible to live in harmony and in respect of other people,” said Estanguet, a former Olympic athlete. However, rancour and politics crept in.

Russia’s delegate complained that there was a “dangerous trend of political interference in sport and of turning it into an instrument for exerting political pressure”.

“Our Olympic and Paralympic athletes are being stripped of their dreams for which they’ve lived and worked” of competing under their own country’s flag, she said.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said that ensuring non-discrimination and political neutrality in international sports competitions is “crucial for building a better and more peaceful world through sport”.

But he countered Russia’s complaint, saying that it was suspended because it violated the Olympic Charter by including athletes from regions of Ukraine it had invaded and infringing on the territorial integrity of that country’s Olympic committee. (IANS)

Travis Head’s Heroics Lead Australia to Sixth Men’s Cricket World Cup Title

In a thrilling finale in Ahmedabad, Travis Head’s sensational century propelled Australia to a historic sixth men’s Cricket World Cup title, securing a six-wicket victory over the tournament hosts, India. Head’s remarkable knock of 137 runs off 120 deliveries proved to be the game-changer, rescuing Australia from a precarious position of 47-3 in their pursuit of 241.

“Travis Head struck a magnificent, match-winning hundred as Australia claimed a record-extending sixth men’s Cricket World Cup title, breaking Indian hearts with a six-wicket win over the tournament hosts in the final in Ahmedabad.”

Australia faced early setbacks as Mohammed Shami dismissed David Warner (7) with his first ball, while Mitchell Marsh (15) and Steve Smith (4) fell victim to Jasprit Bumrah’s superb opening spell (2-43). However, Head, in a display of resilience, joined forces with the watchful Marnus Labuschagne (58 not out off 110 balls) to steer Australia away from trouble. Their remarkable 192-run partnership laid the foundation for victory, with Glenn Maxwell hitting the winning runs after Head’s departure.

“Head’s superb 137, off 120 deliveries, helped rescue Australia from 47-3 early on in their chase of 241 to win as he became only the sixth player to score a century in a men’s World Cup final.”

India’s innings, though initially promising with a blistering start from Rohit Sharma (47), lost its way after his departure. KL Rahul (66 off 107) top-scored, and Virat Kohli (54 off 63) contributed a half-century. However, the dismissal of key batsmen and the lack of all-round options in the lower order hindered India’s progress. Pat Cummins (2-34) dismissed Kohli, leading to a cautious approach from Ravindra Jadeja, Suryakumar Yadav, and Rahul.

“Earlier, KL Rahul (66 off 107) top-scored for India, while Virat Kohli (54 off 63) chipped in with a half century but the innings lost its way after a blistering, boundary-laden 31-ball cameo from skipper Rohit Sharma (47) at the top of the order.”

As Australia’s seamers exploited reverse-swing, Josh Hazlewood (2-60) and Mitchell Starc (3-55) secured crucial wickets. India’s total surpassed 200 when Rahul departed, leaving the tail with the task of reaching a competitive score. However, Australia’s bowlers maintained control, and India was eventually bowled out for 240 in the final over.

“With Kohli’s dismissal coming in the 29th over of the innings, and given India’s lack of all-round options in their lower order, Ravindra Jadeja and Suryakumar Yadav, along with Rahul, were forced to bat cautiously.”

In Australia’s reply, Bumrah’s early double-wicket burst, combined with Shami’s dismissal of Warner, initially tilted the game in India’s favor. However, each breakthrough had an element of luck, with Warner and Marsh falling to short, wide deliveries. Head weathered the storm, survived against the seamers, and capitalized on the ineffective spinners to achieve his fifth ODI century.

“Early in Australia’s reply, Bumrah’s double-wicket opening burst, along with Shami’s first-ball dismissal of Warner, appeared to swing the game firmly back in India’s favour.”

Head’s century, marked by powerful strokes and strategic shot selection, played a pivotal role in Australia’s successful pursuit. Labuschagne’s half-century and Maxwell’s timely contributions secured the title with seven overs to spare.

“Shortly after smashing the returning Bumrah back out of the attack with three boundaries in an over, Head’s magic moment arrived in the 34th over, while he celebrated by smacking Jadeja into the stands in the next for the second of his four maximums (to go with 15 boundaries) in the innings.”

Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, praised the team’s bravery and character, especially highlighting Head’s contribution. Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain, acknowledged Australia’s superior performance, stating that India tried everything but fell short in the final.

“We saved our best for last. The players stood up and were pretty chuffed. This is a year we will remember for a long, long time. My heart was fluttering [at 47-3] but Marnus (Labuschagne) had a cool head straightaway and Trav [Head] did what he does. He is really brave, takes the game on, puts the pressure back on the bowlers, and to do it on the biggest stage shows a lot of character. I couldn’t be happier for Trav. He is a legend.” – Australia captain Pat Cummins

“We were not good enough today but I am really proud of the way we have played since day one. Today was not our day. We tried everything but it wasn’t supposed to be. We got early wickets but Australia stitched a partnership and took the game away from us.” – India captain Rohit Sharma

Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain praised Australia’s victory as one of the great World Cup wins, highlighting Cummins’ brave decision to bowl first and the team’s exceptional performance in all aspects of the game.

“Australia always find a way and this has to go down as one of the great World Cup wins. India were undefeated and playing the best cricket in the tournament, all their players were in form, and 120,000 fans were expecting to turn up and watch India stroll to their third World Cup win. That was some performance. It was a brave decision from Cummins to bowl first at the toss. A weak captain would make a decision that, if it goes wrong and you lose, it makes you look less bad. But he made a really brave decision and the right decision. He absolutely nailed it. He nailed everything today: field placements, bowling changes. Everything was spot on.” – Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain.

Australia Stun India, Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

The much anticipated and unbeaten winning spree of the Indian cricket team in the current tournament fell short of the hope and hype Team India had created leading up to the final match of the One Day International World Cup Cricket Tournament on Sunday, November 19, 2023

India’s rivals, Australia won a record-extending sixth men’s Cricket World Cup on Sunday, defying the odds and a partisan home crowd in Ahmedabad, India to defeat host nation  by six wickets.

India failed to live upto the expectations after it had dominated much of this tournament, cruising to 10 consecutive wins and ratcheting up the pressure in this cricket-obsessed nation that has waited 12 years for another one-day trophy.

But its near impregnable batting line-up faltered in the face of Australia’s savvy bowling while Travis Head’s spectacular 137 off 120 balls anchored Australia’s run chase as it cantered towards victory and another World Cup trophy.

Australia quietened the wild support from the 130,000-strong home crowd by dismissing their previously unbeaten opponents for 240 before Travis Head’s sensational century meant they romped to victory with seven overs to spare. After their bowlers expertly took advantage of a slow pitch, Australia were themselves reduced to 47-3 as India hit back in an electric new-ball spell.

But Head and Marnus Labuschagne calmly weathered the storm with a stand of 192 as Indian hope drifted away from the world’s largest cricket stadium. Head was caught for 132 from 120 balls with just two runs needed, but Glenn Maxwell flogged the winning runs a ball later while Labuschagne ended 58 not out from 110.

The superb victory means Australia extend their record as the most successful side in 50-over World Cup history and now sit four titles clear of the rest of the pack. It also caps a six-month period in which they beat India to win the World Test Championship and retained the Ashes in England.

India, meanwhile, were left crestfallen as their bid for a first white-ball title since 2011 – an achievement which looked unstoppable as they made rampant progress through the semi-final and group stage – fell at the final hurdle.

One of Australia’s greatest nights

This was supposed to be India’s day in front of an enormous home crowd with their prime minister Narendra Modi, who this stadium is named after, up in the stands. Instead, it ended in crushing disappointment as Head produced one of the great World Cup knocks and Australia ran out surprise and comfortable winners.

By the time 29-year-old Head reached his century, some in the vast stands had already made their exit, while seamer Mohammed Siraj was in tears at the end.

Australia were contenders when this tournament began, without being tipped by many to go all of the way, just like when they won the 2021 T20 World Cup. Their campaign hit serious jitters early on with defeats in their opening two games, first by India and then South Africa, but they have won the title with nine consecutive victories, beating every team in the tournament in a row. Australia may have won it all before, but this ranks as one of their greatest nights.

Australia Stun India Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

Indeed, Australia and India opened their campaigns against each other in Chennai on October 8, when star India batter Virat Kohli combined with KL Rahul to steer his team’s chase of a moderate total and get their first win of the tournament.

India were in a similar situation in Ahmedabad, where Kohli (54) and Rahul (66) once again came together for a rescue act. However, India’s batting collapse on the biggest stage saw them put up a paltry target of 241 at the end of 50 overs.

Australia’s bowlers, led by Mitchell Starc’s brilliant display of fast bowling with figures of 3-55 in his 10 overs, kept the Indian batting powerhouse at bay with regular dismissals. Captain Cummins ended with figures of 2-34 in 10 overs, while fellow seamer Josh Hazlewood had 2-60 in his 10 overs.

Head ends India’s dream

Head did not play in the first four games of Australia’s campaign because of a broken hand, but Australia kept him in their squad, knowing the match-winning quality he possesses. He scored 109 in his first appearance against New Zealand but this innings was on another level as he first dealt with intense pressure before punishing the bowling.

After his opening partner Warner nicked the first ball of the chase through the slips, Head crashed two boundaries to settle Australian nerves. Warner then edged a wide ball to slip for seven off Mohammed Shami, while Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith both fell to the brilliant Jasprit Bumrah.

The crowd was alive again at that stage, although Smith’s lbw decision would have been overturned had he reviewed. Those wickets came in a manic opening period in which India took the upper hand but also gave up 15 extras in the powerplay alone, those in blue seemingly too eager to defend their low score.

content Australia Stun India Lifts Cricket World Cup 2023

Batting became easier on a slow pitch that had offered more turn in the day, and Head took advantage. He cracked 14 fours and four sixes, with the sixes all pumped high over mid-wicket. On 99 he would have been run out as he scampered to three figures, had Ravindra Jadeja’s throw hit from cover.

He was finally out for 137, caught at deep mid-wicket attempting to finish in style. As he left the field he was embraced by Labuschagne and was congratulated by the Indians with the result already decided.

Superb Aussies tie down India

Head’s innings will take the headlines, but this victory was built on a sensational performance with the ball and a brave decision to bowl first at the toss by Pat Cummins.

Captain Rohit Sharma gave India a rapid start with 47 from 31 balls, but from 76-1 in the 10th over, Australia applied a stranglehold on India’s star-studded batting line-up and did not let go.

Head played a crucial hand too, brilliantly catching Rohit as he ran back from cover, before Shreyas Iyer was caught behind off Cummins four balls later to leave the hosts 81-3.

That left Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to attempt a rebuild, but the canny Australia bowlers kept the scoring to a crawl through a mix of short, slower balls and athletic fielding, all while captain Cummins mixed his pack to great effect.

Kohli and Rahul put on 67 in 109 balls before the former captain played on to Cummins for 54 in the 29th over to leave the vast stadium stunned in silence. Rahul then nicked a beauty from Starc, ending any real hope of a significant India score.

India’s lower order had hardly been needed in this tournament, and when finally called upon, Ravindra Jadeja managed only nine and Suryakumar Yadav 18 with just four boundaries coming after the first 10 overs.

India’s worst performance with the bat came at the worst possible time in the tournament, but huge credit must go to Cummins and his champion attack.

‘We saved our best for last’ – what they said

 Australia captain Pat Cummins: “We saved our best for last and a couple of big-match players stood up and we’re pretty chuffed. We were desperate in the field, I thought it all started against South Africa last week. The boys were fantastic. We’ve got an ageing squad but we are still throwing ourselves around. We were really chuffed with 240 because we were happy with anything under 300.”

India captain Rohit Sharma: “We were not good enough today but I’m really proud of the team and how we played from game one. We tried everything we could from our side but it wasn’t supposed to be. We were looking at 270 or 280 but then we kept losing wickets. We couldn’t get a partnership together and that is exactly what Australia did to win the game, they stitched a good partnership after they lost three wickets.”

Player of the match, Australia’s Travis Head:

“Not in a million years did I think that would happen [being man of the match today and in the World Test Championship final]. What an amazing day. I’m just thrilled to be a part of it. It is a lot better than being sat on the couch at home! I’m very lucky that everything went well and I was able to get back and the support that the boys showed, I didn’t think this would happen. I was nervous in the first 20 balls but Marnus [Labuschagne] batted brilliantly and it is great to bat with him. It was an amazing partnership.”

Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix- Countdown Starts!

The wait is almost over after so many months of wondering what it will look like to see the world’s best racing cars here on the busy Las Vegas Strip.

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is a planned Formula One Grand Prix due to form part of the 2023 Formula One World Championship, with the event taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, on a temporary street circuit including the Las Vegas Strip.

It seems to be a big, impossible challenge, revamping one of the most well-known streets in the world the Las Vegas Strip, into a racing circuit. But the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Vegas Grand Prix, set for Nov.16 to 18th, is hustling to do just that in a $560 million civil-planning and engineering feat underway before the track goes hot within a few hours.

Las Vegas F1 Grand Prix Countdown StartsThe F1 World Championships season consists of a series of races, known as the Grand Prix, held usually on purpose-built-in circuits and, in a few cases, on closed city streets.But it is going live in the busy streets of Las Vegas, with enough modifications and protections erected in the brightly lighted streets inside the city itself.

Have you ever heard names like Michele Alboreto, John Watson, Eddie Cheever, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg,  Derek Daly, Marc Surer, Andrea de Cesaris, Niki Lauda, Derek Warwick, Elio de Angelis, Mario Andretti; they are all legends in the grand prix car racing challenges.

Of course, you might have heard of Lewis Hamilton, who holds the record for the most race wins in Formula One history, with 103 wins to date. Michael Schumacher, the previous record holder, is second with 91 wins, and Sebastian Vettelis, third with 53 victories.

You might wonder about the prize money for the winner of the F1 race.To put this in perspective, Mercedes’ win as ‘constructors’ champion in 2020 saw them take home $135 million, while Aston Martin – known as Racing Point at the time – took home $60 million for finishing last, which, as you can see was less than half of Mercedes’ winnings.

F1 is returning to Las Vegas for the first time since the 1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix, with an all-new circuit twisting through some of the city’s most famous landmarks set to provide thrilling scenes under the lights.

The new Las Vegas Grand Prix has strong support from the state and local government and will be held at night on a course awash in neon lights and before a crowd of up to 100,000 each day of the weekend. Pook estimates that 20,000 to 25,000 people attended the inaugural Caesars Palace Grand Prix for comparison’s sake.

Tickets were priced at roughly $2,000 a year ago for the Las Vegas race. Prices for practice on Thursday and qualifying races on Friday have also dropped dramatically. The current  price dropped about 50% from $385 to $180 for Thursday and on Friday.

Vegas track has 17 corners, is one of the three longest in Formula One, and has one of the lengthiest straights: nearly 1.2 miles along Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip. Drivers are expected to reach a top speed of 212 mph, running around in 50 laps. But those are just specs. What makes it unique is the location, The Las Vegas Strip.

The CEO of F1’s parent company issued a public apology to Las Vegas for the many challenges its residents have tolerated and endured on the road to bringing the Las Vegas Grand Prix to the city by this weekend. There will be 105,000 people, so the sheer scale of it, even for Las Vegas, will be the most significant event Las Vegas will have, said Greg Maffei.

And that is not just the race crowd itself, as thousands are expected to visit Las Vegas next week to be a part of the race experience, even if they don’t have tickets to the event.

Just after the event, these roads will have to be repainted for normal traffic patterns.Thousands of temporary lights will have to be dismantled. A three-story huge grandstand across from the Bellagio fountain will be dismantled as well.

(Dr. Mathew Joys, is an accredited journalist and columnist contributing to English and Malayalam media. He is the GIC Global Media Chair and Director of Indo American Press Club.)

India To Take On Australia In World Cup 2023 Final

India will take on Australia in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Sunday, November 19 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. It is going to be a special occasion at the largest stadium in the world as Team India will chase their third title in what has been dubbed as the ‘3 ka dream’ while the five-time champions, Aussies will eye a record sixth title.

India are on course for a historic third One Day International World Cup title, having just reached the final of the 2023 Cricket World Cup. The Men in Blue defeated New Zealand to book their place in the final of the 2023 edition. With that, India’s unbeaten run in the World Cup is now extended to 10 matches.

Only one win remains in between the Rohit Sharma-led Indian cricket team and the Cricket World Cup trophy. India have not an ICC trophy since 2013 and the Indian cricket team is on the cusp of ending that drought at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

India To Take On Australia In World Cup 2023 Final (The Guardian)
Picture: The Guardian

Australia beat South Africa by three wickets in the second semi-final of the ICC ODI World Cup. Australia crept into Sunday’s World Cup final against India after winning a low-scoring thriller against South Africa at Eden Gardens by three wickets.

Chasing 213 after a superb century from David Miller had helped the South Africans recover from 24 for four and 116 for six, Australia’s batsmen took it in turns to throw away their wicket in front of a crowd of nearly 48,000.

India and Australia had last clashed in the final of a World Cup back in 2003. Australia won that game by 125 runs and lifted the World Cup trophy for the third time. It also went on to win the following edition in 2007.

This would be the fourth final for India in the ODI World Cups and the country that started the trend of winning the World Cup on home soil when they won it in 2011 under MS Dhoni’s captaincy, would look to continue on the momentum.

Since then, Australia and England won the World Cup on their home soil in 2015 and 2019 as well. This will also be India’s first victory against Australia in a World Cup final and after West Indies and Sri Lanka, they could become the second team to defeat the Aussies in a World Cup final. The last time these two teams met in a final, India lost badly in 2003 in South Africa.   India last won the title in 2011 after beating Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It won its first World Cup title in 1983 under the captaincy of Kapil Dev.

India would also become only the second team after Australia to win the World Cup three times or more, Currently, they are tied at two along with the West Indies. India would also become the only team to win the World Cup twice at home after having hosted it four times.

New Zealand Secures World Cup Semi-Final Spot, Set to Face India in Repeat Showdown of 2019 Clash

New Zealand has officially secured a spot in the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup, setting up a clash with India reminiscent of the 2019 tournament. The Kiwis’ advancement was confirmed when Pakistan fell short in chasing a formidable 338-run target against England within an unlikely 6.4 overs. Although Pakistan could potentially match New Zealand’s 10 points, they can no longer surpass the Kiwis on Net Run Rate (NRR).

Before the final set of group matches at the 2023 World Cup, Pakistan needed Sri Lanka to defeat New Zealand for a smoother path to securing a spot in the final four. A loss for the Kiwis would have given Pakistan an opportunity to surpass them in points with a victory over England. However, the Lankans suffered a crushing five-wicket defeat in Bengaluru.

India is set to face New Zealand in the ODI World Cup semi-finals for the second consecutive time. Four years ago, the Kiwis emerged victorious in a rain-affected match in Manchester, resulting in a 21-run loss for India across two days. In the current edition, India had previously defeated a Williamson-less New Zealand side by 4 wickets in the group stage last month. With the return of their captain, the Kiwis present a formidable challenge to India’s aspirations of reaching their first World Cup final since their 2011 triumph in Mumbai.

Despite the earlier setback, India enters the semi-final with increased confidence, poised to finish at the top of the group stage after their last match against the Netherlands on Sunday. Rohit Sharma’s team has maintained an undefeated record throughout the tournament and aims to continue this streak against the Dutch side in Bengaluru.

The match on Sunday will mark the conclusion of the group stage, with India resuming action on Wednesday for the first semi-final in Mumbai. Following that, South Africa will face Australia in the second semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday.

Is Saudi Arabia Buying IPL?

Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in buying a multibillion-dollar stake in the Indian Premier League (IPL), international cricket’s most lucrative event, following a string of investments that have upended professional sports, including football and golf, a media report said.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s advisors have spoken to Indian government officials about moving the IPL into a holding company valued at as much as $30 billion, Bloomberg reported.

The talks were held when the Saudi Crown Prince visited India in September for the G20 Summit held under India’s Presidency, the report said.

Saudi Arabia proposed investing as much as $5 billion into the league and help lead an expansion into other countries, the report said.

Is Saudi Arabia Buying IPL (Times Now)
Picture: Times Now

As per earlier reports, the IPL ecosystem value has risen from Rs 87,000 crore to Rs 92,500 crore, marking an increase of around 6.3 per cent, as per a report by D&P India Advisory Services.

In USD terms, this translates to a growth from $10.9 billion to $11.2 billion, representing an increase of approximately 3.3 per cent.

The league has always been a spectacle of cricket, business and entertainment. This year was no exception, as the league continued to captivate audiences, both on television and digital platforms, the report said.

According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the IPL telecast on the Star Sports Network attracted a staggering 505 million viewers with an impressive watch time of 427.1 billion minutes. On the digital front, JioCinema reported that 449 million viewers tuned into its platform, with over 126 million viewers choosing connected TV options to savour the IPL action.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful sovereign wealth fund, which has anchored many of the kingdom’s previous sports investments, could ultimately be the vehicle used to do a deal with the BCCI if an agreement is reached. No final decisions have yet been made.

India Beat South Africa By 243 Runs At Kolkata’s Eden Gardens

India beat South Africa by 243 runs at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Sunday, November 5th, 2023, with which the men in blue continue their perfect win streak in the ongoing edition of the 50-over World Cup.

Virat Kohli scored his 49th ODI century on Sunday to match Sachin Tendulkar’s world record. And there was perhaps no better day to achieve this feat than his 35th birthday. Eden Gardens also happens to be the ground on which Kohli had scored his first ODI century 14 years ago.

India won the toss and decided to bat first. The team put 326 on the scoreboard – with Kohli’s unbeaten 101 and Shreyas Iyer’s 77 run knock-off 87 deliveries – losing five wickets in 50 overs.

India Beat South Africa By 243 Runs At Kolkata's Eden Gardens 2Riding on Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 101 India put on 326 for 5 against South Africa at the Eden Gardens, celebrating his 35th birthday in the most befitting manner. Kohli reached the landmark when he scored a single off Kagiso Rabada in the 49th over of the Indian innings in front of a packed Eden Gardens crowd that kept chanting his name. Prior to the match against South Africa, Kohli narrowly missed out on his 49th ODI century during India’s match against Sri Lanka on Thursday at the Wankhede Stadium.

Kohli put on on brilliant 134-run stand for the third wicket with Shreyas Iyer (77), who played a sublime knock. Earlier, it was captain Rohit Sharma, whose 24-ball 40 gave India a flying start. Suryakumar Yadav (22 off 14 balls) and Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 29 off 15 balls gave India a perfect flourish.

“Every opportunity to play for India is a big one for me, and to be able to do this (49th ODI hundred) on my birthday in front of such a huge crowd at the Eden Gardens is the stuff of dreams. It’s something that you wish for as a child. So I am very grateful to God that I am blessed with these kinds of moments. So much love from the fans as well. Just continue to try and help the team in any way possible,” Kohli said in the mid-innings interval.

The entire South African team was bowled out for 83 runs in less than 28 overs, with which India marked its eighth consecutive victory in the tournament. Ravindra Jadeja took five wickets in nine overs.

The win assumes more significance because South Africa is not just any team, but the No.2 in the ongoing tournament standings, and the only team other than India to have reserved a slot in the semi-finals. So, it was a big test for India.

Also, it was the heaviest-ever World Cup defeat, in terms of margin, for South Africa.

India are currently in terrific form, having won all seven matches they have played so far. Rohit Sharma and his team defeated Sri Lanka by 302 runs in their previous match, the second-biggest win in the tournament history. They have two batters with over 400 runs (Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma), while Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav are doing a terrific job with the ball.

England’s World Cup Dreams Dashed with a Sixth Defeat

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, England’s World Cup journey has taken a devastating blow with their sixth defeat in seven matches, leaving no room for mathematical possibilities of making it to the final four. This formidable defeat marked the end of their title defense aspirations. Fakhar Zaman, on the other hand, emerged as the savior for Pakistan, playing a spectacular innings to keep their semi-final hopes alive.

Currently, Pakistan and New Zealand find themselves in a neck-and-neck battle, both standing on equal points with one league game remaining. The outcome of this crucial fixture will determine their final rankings. Pakistan is set to face England in their last league match, while New Zealand takes on Sri Lanka. Kane Williamson’s Kiwi team, currently sitting at fourth place on the points table, holds the advantage in terms of net run rate.

Australia, on the other hand, continues to march on relentlessly, securing their fifth consecutive victory with a 33-run triumph over England. While their spot in the semi-finals is yet to be confirmed, they are well-positioned with upcoming matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Adding further intrigue to the mix, Afghanistan remains a dark horse, still in contention. They must clinch victories in at least one of their final two games against Australia and South Africa and heavily rely on their net run rate to keep their semi-final hopes alive. The World Cup stage is set for thrilling showdowns as teams vie for a coveted spot in the final four.

India’s Strong Presence in World Cup Semifinals

In the ongoing ICC World Cup 2023, Rohit Sharma-led team India is facing Temba Bavuma’s South Africa in their eighth match at Eden Gardens. India has already secured a place in the semifinals after a dominating performance against Sri Lanka, where they won by a massive 302 runs at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. This marks the seventh time that India has reached the semifinals in the 50-over World Cup.

Historical Journey to the Semifinals

India’s journey to the World Cup semifinals dates back to the 1983 Prudential Cup in England when they clinched their maiden World Cup title. This victory established India’s reputation as a cricketing force. They reached the last four in the following two editions held in India, in 1987 and 1996.

In 2003, India reached the semifinals in South Africa and came close to the final. The 2011 World Cup, hosted by India, saw them in the semifinals again. They repeated this feat in 2015, 2019, and the current 2023 World Cup.

1983 Prudential Cup Victory

In 1983, India defied expectations as underdogs in the third World Cup, held in England. They progressed to the semifinals and faced the formidable hosts, England, in Manchester on June 22. India’s performance in this World Cup silenced many critics and skeptics.

India reached the finals and defeated Sri Lanka to win their second World Cup title. This historic victory played a crucial role in establishing India as a cricket powerhouse.

2015 World Cup Disappointment

In the 2015 World Cup, India faced Australia in the second semifinal held in Sydney. Australia outperformed India in all aspects of the game, ultimately winning by a margin of 95 runs.

Key performances from Australian players, including Steve Smith and Aaron Finch, powered Australia to a total of 328 runs for 7 wickets in 50 overs. India’s response fell short despite notable innings from players like MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, and Ajinkya Rahane.

2019 World Cup Heartbreak

The 2019 World Cup was held in England, and India reached their sixth semifinal in Manchester, the same place where they played their first World Cup semifinal in 1983. However, they faced a different opponent, New Zealand.

Indian bowlers raised hopes by restricting New Zealand to 239 for 8 in 50 overs, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking three wickets. Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson were the top scorers for New Zealand.

However, New Zealand’s Matt Henry removed Indian openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma early in the innings. Despite efforts from Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni to stabilize the Indian innings, their departure marked the end for India. India lost the match by 18 runs.

Conclusion

India’s journey in the ICC World Cup semifinals has been marked by several highs and lows. They have shown remarkable consistency, with seven appearances in the last four stages, but victory has not always been guaranteed. The team’s historic win in the 1983 Prudential Cup set the stage for future success, and India’s strong presence in the 2023 World Cup semifinals reflects their enduring cricketing legacy. While they aim to clinch their third World Cup title, fans eagerly await their performance in the upcoming matches.

India’s Dominant Display Propels Them to World Cup Semi-Finals with a 302-Run Victory Over Sri Lanka

India secured their spot in the 2023 World Cup semi-finals with a commanding performance, overwhelming Sri Lanka by a staggering 302 runs in Mumbai on Thursday.

The unbeaten hosts executed a flawless strategy at the Wankhede Stadium, with three of their batsmen achieving half-centuries, propelling them to a commanding total of 357-8. Subsequently, their fast bowlers decimated Sri Lanka’s top order, reducing them to a precarious 3-4 and ultimately dismissing them for a meager 55 in just 19.4 overs.

Jasprit Bumrah (1-8) delivered a crucial breakthrough on the first ball of Sri Lanka’s chase, trapping Pathum Nissanka leg before with a late outswinger. Mohammad Siraj (3-16) followed suit, dismissing the other opener, Dimuth Karunaratne, with his first delivery.

The pivotal moment arrived when Siraj dismissed captain Kusal Mendis with a well-executed leg cutter. This sudden collapse, with Sri Lanka losing four wickets for just three runs, brought back memories of their dismal performance when they were bowled out for 50 by India in the Asia Cup final.

The in-form Mohammad Shami then took over, claiming two vital wickets in his opening over, further diminishing Sri Lanka’s resistance.

Picture: The National News

Shami was particularly lethal, taking five wickets for a mere 18 runs, including the dismissal of the last recognized batsman, Angelo Mathews, whose stumps were uprooted by an inswinging delivery, epitomizing Sri Lanka’s challenging day.

On the batting front, Virat Kohli narrowly missed equaling Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 ODI hundreds, but it was still a memorable day for India.

Kohli and Gill’s partnership of 189 was disrupted after the early exit of India’s captain, Rohit Sharma. Despite this setback, Shreyas Iyer stepped up with a scintillating 82 off just 56 balls, which included six towering sixes, one of which measured an astonishing 106 meters.

Iyer’s explosive innings came to an end when he was caught out off Dilshan Madushanka, the left-arm pacer who left a lasting impression by finishing with figures of 5-80, making him the leading bowler in the World Cup with 18 wickets.

Sri Lanka had opportunities to dismiss both Gill and Kohli early in their innings. Gill was on eight when a diving Charith Aslanka dropped a challenging catch at backward point following a fierce drive off Madushanka. In the next over, Kohli was given a lifeline at 10 when pacer Dushmantha Chameera couldn’t hold onto a return catch from a leading edge.

Picture: The National News

These missed chances proved costly, as Kohli went on to complete a fifty at a run-a-ball rate, featuring eight boundaries. Gill, closely following Kohli’s lead, reached his half-century in 55 balls before smashing the first six of the match with a powerful pull shot over midwicket.

However, Gill’s promising innings came to an end just shy of a century when he was caught behind by wicketkeeper and Sri Lanka’s skipper, Kusal Mendis, while attempting an uppercut off Madushanka.

The atmosphere in the stadium turned somber as Kohli chipped a Madushanka cutter to cover-point, concluding a 94-ball innings that included 11 fours.

Despite this momentary dip in momentum, Iyer displayed his explosive prowess, propelling his team to an imposing total.

India’s dominant performance not only secured their place in the semi-finals but also sent a clear message to their competitors in the tournament.

South Africa Edges Pakistan in World Cup Thriller

In a dramatic showdown in Chennai, South Africa secured a thrilling one-wicket victory against Pakistan, significantly denting Pakistan’s hopes in the ongoing World Cup. This was South Africa’s first World Cup triumph over Pakistan since 1999, a significant milestone in their cricket history. The loss marked Pakistan’s fourth consecutive defeat in a global tournament, a streak they had never experienced before.

Semifinal Race Analysis

As the World Cup intensifies, the race for the semifinals is heating up. Let’s take a closer look at the current standings and prospects for the teams:

South Africa: With a solid 10 points to their name, South Africa appears to be on the brink of securing a spot in the semifinals. Another victory will almost certainly seal the deal for them.

India: The host nation has been dominant, winning all five of their matches. They are on the verge of clinching a semifinal spot, with one more win likely to make it official.

New Zealand: With eight points in their bag, New Zealand aims to secure at least two victories in their remaining four games to solidify their semifinal chances.

Australia:Australia, with three wins out of five matches, is in a good position to reach the semifinals. Their upcoming matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh provide them with opportunities to strengthen their standing.

Sri Lanka:Back-to-back wins have rejuvenated Sri Lanka’s campaign, bringing them back into the semifinal conversation. However, they might need to win all their remaining fixtures to ensure a spot in the semifinals.

Pakistan:Having suffered four defeats out of six matches, Pakistan’s semifinal hopes are hanging by a thread. To stay in contention, they likely need to win all their remaining matches and rely on favorable net run rate calculations.

Afghanistan:Although mathematically not out of the equation, Afghanistan will probably focus on adding more upsets to their credit, as they have already achieved two in the tournament.

Bangladesh:With only two points from five matches and a lackluster performance so far, Bangladesh’s chances of progressing to the semifinals seem increasingly dim.

England: The defending champions, England, have experienced a dismal title defense and are facing elimination. Their own assessment acknowledges that their journey in the tournament is near its end.

Netherlands: The Netherlands, despite their underdog status, have shown resilience and secured a notable upset. They will aim to defeat the other teams in the lower half of the points table before bidding farewell to the tournament.

The World Cup continues to offer thrilling moments and unexpected twists as teams battle for a coveted spot in the semifinals.

India Dominates England to Secure Sixth Consecutive Victory

The Indian cricket team at the World Cup has been unstoppable, and their latest triumph against England at the Ekana stadium only reinforced their dominance. England, once considered prime favorites and the defending champions, fell short in a 100-run loss as India put up a remarkable performance with both bat and ball.

India set a target of 230 runs, which England would have hoped to chase down, given the challenging conditions. However, it was India’s bowlers who stole the show, maintaining precision from the outset.

Jasprit Bumrah, the spearhead of the Indian bowling attack, played a pivotal role in England’s early downfall. He removed Dawid Malan and Joe Root in quick succession. Malan’s dismissal came as he attempted a risky cut and ended up chopping the ball onto his stumps. Root, known for his tendency to play across the front pad early in his innings, fell victim to a well-executed inswinger from Bumrah.

As India replaced Mohammed Siraj with Mohammed Shami, the pressure intensified on England. Ben Stokes struggled to connect with balls outside off-stump, resulting in a series of dot balls. His impatience led to his dismissal as he swung across the line and lost his stumps. In the same over, Jonny Bairstow played onto his stumps, leaving England at 45/4.

The introduction of Kuldeep Yadav in the 14th over further compounded England’s woes, and they found themselves at 52/5. Kuldeep’s deceptive delivery pitched outside off and spun back so fiercely that England’s captain, Jos Buttler, couldn’t prevent it from crashing into the stumps. Kuldeep also dismissed Liam Livingstone, ending with two crucial wickets. Shami finished with four wickets, while Bumrah cleaned up with a perfect yorker to Mark Wood’s stumps.

The win wouldn’t have been possible without Rohit Sharma’s exceptional performance with the bat. India was in early trouble at 40/3, but Sharma, along with KL Rahul, orchestrated a recovery with a 91-run partnership for the fourth wicket. While the rest of India’s top order struggled, Sharma showcased his ability to grind runs on a challenging pitch. Known for his pull shot against pace bowlers, Sharma’s footwork against spin often goes underappreciated. He displayed his nimble footwork against the spinners, using sweeps and deft placements to maneuver the field.

Rahul’s dismissal was a setback for India, and as he tried to clear the infield, the ball ended up safely in Bairstow’s hands. The slowness of the pitch eventually got the better of Sharma too. He had read Adil Rashid’s googly early but couldn’t clear the boundary, finding Livingstone at deep midwicket.

A surge from Suryakumar Yadav (49 runs off 47 balls) allowed India to cross the 200-run mark. Suryakumar’s ingenuity was on display as he played an array of innovative shots. Whether it was moving inside the line to help a short delivery over fine leg for six or executing fierce sweeps, Suryakumar’s innings was a crucial contribution to India’s perfect campaign.

India’s convincing victory over England showcased their strong team performance, with key contributions from Rohit Sharma with the bat and their potent bowling attack. England, once favorites, have struggled in the tournament, while India continues to shine in pursuit of World Cup glory.

Cricket fraternity including Kapil Dev, Virender Sehwag attend last rites of Bishan Singh Bedi

The cricketing world, with luminaries such as Kapil Dev and Virender Sehwag, came together to bid farewell to the legendary Indian spinner, Bishan Bedi. Bedi, who had been battling illness, passed away at the age of 77. His last rites were attended by a host of Indian cricket legends, including the World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev, Madan Lal, Virender Sehwag, Kirti Azad, Ashish Nehra, Ajay Jadeja, and Murali Kartik, who had learned the art of spin bowling under the guidance of Bedi.

This solemn gathering also included several first-class cricketers, emphasizing the profound impact Bedi had on both the professional and personal lives of those who shared the field with him.

Bishan Bedi, hailing from Amritsar and born in 1946, had a distinguished career, representing India in 67 Test matches. During his illustrious career, he managed to claim 266 wickets, which included an impressive 14 five-wicket hauls and one memorable 10-wicket haul. He was an integral part of Indian cricket’s renowned quartet of spin bowlers, alongside Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chadrasekhar, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan. Together, they formed the backbone of India’s bowling lineup for over a decade, from 1966 to 1978.

Not only was Bishan Bedi an exceptional cricketer, but he was also a remarkable human being, as acknowledged by a former cricketer who attended the ceremony at the Lodhi Crematorium.

In addition to his on-field achievements, Bedi made substantial contributions off the pitch. He briefly served as the manager of the Indian cricket team in 1990, accompanying them on tours to New Zealand and England. His cricketing acumen made him a valuable national selector, and he was a mentor to numerous budding spin bowlers, including Maninder Singh, Sunil Joshi, and Murali Kartik, all of whom cherished his technical insights.

Bishan Bedi was also celebrated for his leadership qualities. He captained the Indian cricket team for nearly four years in Test matches, taking the reins after the retirement of Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in 1975 and leading the team until 1979. His legacy as a cricketer, leader, mentor, and human being remains etched in the annals of Indian cricket history, and his presence will be dearly missed by the cricketing fraternity.

The Journey to the 56 International Championship

In the realm of card games, where countless classics like Poker, Bridge, and Blackjack have captured the hearts of players worldwide, a hidden gem stands out among the rest. Meet “56,” a captivating and strategic card game combining luck, skill, and deception. While less widely known than its famous counterparts, 56 has garnered a devoted following due to its engaging gameplay, tactical depth, and historical roots in the Malayali community.

Madhu Kutty and I are roommates from NSS College of Engineering in Palakkad. We met our teammate Rajeev George in November 2019 when our mutual friend Frank from New Haven organized 56 games at his residence. We made a team for the Kerala Boat Club game in December 2019. You can guess what happened. We lost most of the round-robin games. In January 2020, we played a local tournament in Boston;  there, too, we lost most of the round-robin games. Then came the regional New Jersey tournament, and the same losing saga continued. The worst part was not the loss. It was the part that we did not understand why we lost.

Then came COVID and shutdowns in March 2020. Now, we started to play a lot online. I knew Tommy personally and since we knew they were two-time champions at 56 International, we decided to learn from them. They graciously taught us techniques and the ability to read the unsaid “calls”.

56 International is the world championship of 56 held among the Malayali community for 25 years. It started as a small tournament 24 years ago organized by Appachen and Mathew Cheruvil in Detroit. We mainly played against Tommy and his teammates online for some time. Regular online play at Cheettukaliclub.com helped us study and analyze the game of 56. There is nothing to replace practice. Only practice can get you closer to perfection. You realize standard hands and patterns that can then be played from muscle memory rather than trying to analyze at that point.

And then came the 56 International in Chicago in 2021. We qualified for the round-robin stage and lost in the round of 16. 56International Chicago was a great experience: the food, the drinks, the singing and all the fun.

We were annoyed we made a crucial mistake and lost the game. I am sure there were more, but we did not even realize those due to inexperience.

The best part of International is that we made new friends with like-minded people across America.Then, we kept learning more and looking forward to the Tampa tournament.

Meanwhile, we started playing live at Simon’s office with Tommy and Shaji once a week.

The hurricane spoiled our plans to test all our learning as the rain date was when Madhu already booked his tickets for India. Our stopgap team could not win more than three matches required to make it to the knockout round. One more disappointing year as we could not implement everything we practiced for a year.

Individually, there are only certain things you can achieve in life or there are limits. A team can achieve much greater things, whether in your career or personal life or when you are planning to change the world. But you need to build trust among members, know how each other thinks, and you need to coordinate. You need to analyze past games and reassess strategies. Teams can create beautiful things that individuals cannot. Take the Beatles as an example; I think they never made a great song individually but made many as a team.

Every week, we practically had Malayali food at fancy restaurant steak prices (Every loss was $ 20 each, and we were losing 4-5 games a night). In Rajeev’s words, we were paying steak prices for Malayali beef “uLarthirachi”.

Long story short, we won the 24th 56 International tournament in New Jersey in October 2023. The triumphant smiles on our faces are a testament to the hard-fought battles we endured at the recent tournament. Our journey from the grueling hours of practice to the exhilarating moments on the field has been filled with relentless efforts. This essay aims to celebrate our victory, reflect on the excitement of the games, express our gratitude to the organizers, and highlight the incredible camaraderie among players that made our triumph possible.

Winning a tournament is no small feat; it culminates countless hours of dedication, determination, and sacrifice. Our journey was marked by late-night strategy sessions. These very struggles strengthened our resolve and made the victory all the sweeter. We each understood the value of hand analysis, patience during tough matches and perseverance.

The tournament was a rollercoaster of emotions as we battled formidable opponents. The excitement of each game was palpable, with the stakes growing higher as we advanced through the rounds. The tension in the air, and the thrill of competition pushed us to perform at our best. Every call, every cut, and every well-executed play sent waves of jubilation through our team. The games were a testament to our skill, teamwork, and determination and will be etched in our memories forever.

Our Pre-Quarter was a tough one with Sreekumar, Thankachan and Santhosh. They had beaten us during round-robin. But this game went into a tie. Then the two tie-breakers games also tied and we barely and luckily survived the sudden death.

Our semi-finals with Alex, Sajan and Kochumon was a fantastic game. We were down considerably but we waited for that one mistake and we caught on it and that also went to a tie. The first game in tie we called a 40 and won. They called a 48 for the next one and in that one “Pidi” we had we could eke out 9 points.

The finals with Benny George and team from Chicago was a hard-fought one. They were outstanding players. They never made a mistake and we lost the first game. Then we won the second game towards the last two shuffles. Then the third game went to a tie again. During the tiebreaker hands, the second hand we got the almost perfect hand to win but involved risks when we called 56 Diamonds because if the trump was concentrated in one hand we would have lost. But fortune favors the brave sometimes.

Behind every successful tournament are dedicated organizers who work tirelessly to ensure its smooth execution. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers for their unwavering commitment to the sport and their meticulous planning.

While the thrill of victory is undoubtedly sweet and loss disappointing, the camaraderie among players truly enriches the sporting experience. Throughout the tournament, we witnessed not only the fierce competition but also the mutual respect and friendship that transcended the boundaries of teams. Shared moments of celebration and commiseration with opponents underscored the sportsmanship that defines our community. We are grateful for the friendships forged on and off the field, as they remind us that sport is not just about winning but also about the bonds we create.

Our triumph is a testament to the power of resilience, teamwork, and dedication.As we bask in the glory of our triumph, we are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination, and the memories we have created will stay with us forever.

We look forward to future tournaments, knowing that they will be filled with challenges, excitement, and the enduring bonds of friendship. We among ourselves formed a family friendship, including our spouses.

The beauty of a card game is you can play it all your life. It will help you maintain a sharp mind. Unlike cricket or basketball, where the body’s physical limits apply, the mind has infinite possibilities. I believe passionately that after a certain age, like maybe thirty five, you should only play cards 🙂 You cannot physically hurt yourself playing cards.

Plus, playing cards is the main thing you learn in a college hostel in Kerala among Malayalees or in a field or regular long train journeys. This game recreates our nostalgic moments, whether in our homes with our relatives or our paddy fields with our local populace. Many of us would have night outs to play 28 or 56 but never to study for an exam; thats how card crazy we are as a community.

We credit our spouses for their support who let us go through all this, which does not bring them any joy, money, or fame but they agreed just for our passion for the game.

As we drove back to Connecticut, we played one of rock’s greatest anthems, written and sung by Freddie Mercury

I’ve paid my dues

Time after time

I’ve done my sentence

But committed no crime

And bad mistakes

I’ve made a few

I’ve had my share of sand

Kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the champions, my friends

And we’ll keep on fighting till the end

We are the champions

We are the champions

No time for losers

‘Cause we are the champions of the World!

Like Sachin Tendulkar in 2011, Virat Kohli carries Team India on his shoulders

Virat Kohli came tantalizingly close to matching Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI centuries. With just five runs needed to chase down New Zealand’s 274, Kohli was on 95 when he flicked a delivery from Matt Henry straight into the hands of Glenn Phillips. He acknowledged the crowd’s applause with a sheepish smile and a wave of his bat as he walked back to the dugout, just shy of his century.

While Kohli missed reaching the three-figure mark on this occasion, it seems only a matter of time before he equals and then surpasses his idol’s record. But beyond individual achievements, Kohli is playing a role akin to Tendulkar’s during the 2011 World Cup. He serves as the talisman and nucleus of the Indian team. In the 2011 World Cup, Tendulkar was India’s highest run-scorer, amassing 482 runs at an average of 53.55, including two centuries and two half-centuries. In the current campaign, Kohli has already accumulated 354 runs at an average of 118 in five matches. With the exception of the Pakistan game, he has played a crucial role in all of India’s victories in this tournament.

When asked about Kohli’s form and approach, Indian captain Rohit Sharma was left almost speechless, stating, “Nothing much to say about Virat. We’ve seen him do this for so many years. He backs himself to do the job.” Describing Kohli’s genius seems to have exhausted superlatives.

As much as Kohli is an asset to his own captain, he poses a formidable challenge to rival captains. New Zealand’s stand-in captain, Tom Latham, explained the difficulties of facing Kohli, saying, “As a captain, you have to be proactive but also work to your plans. Virat has a response to most plans.” These sentiments mirror the descriptions of Tendulkar’s batting.

All of Kohli’s performances in this World Cup have come at critical junctures of the matches and have had a significant impact. In the opening game against Australia, he came to the crease early, with India chasing 201 on a turning wicket. Despite early setbacks, Kohli displayed composure and provided a masterclass on anchoring a chase on difficult pitches. His approach was typical Kohli, with sharp running between the wickets, precise placement of singles, occasional boundaries, and gradually asserting dominance over the bowlers.

Kohli followed this with an unbeaten half-century against Afghanistan on a batting-friendly track and a vital 16 against Pakistan. He then played a match-winning knock of 103 not out against Bangladesh in a tricky situation when India lost both openers early. In these scenarios, Kohli has consistently brought calmness and patience, guiding the team to victory. Since Tendulkar’s retirement, Kohli has taken on the role of carrying the hopes of a billion people on his shoulders.

It’s symbolic that Kohli carried Tendulkar on his shoulders for a lap of honor at the Wankhede Stadium after India’s World Cup triumph in 2011. Kohli described this gesture poetically, saying, “He has carried the hopes of a nation for so many years. This was that gift from all of those people for him because he kept giving, giving, giving for India, and I thought what better way at his home ground to realize his dream and then he gets a lap of honor.”

For the next decade or more, Kohli would shoulder the hopes of his nation. He was already an established batsman, but in the years that followed, he became the flag-bearer of the nation, excelling in all formats, becoming an all-time legend, arguably the finest ODI batsman the game had ever seen, and a successful captain who molded the team in his own image, making them an indomitable unit.

If MS Dhoni was the finisher, Kohli carved a niche as the chase-master. Steep run chases brought out the best in him, with 23 of his 48 centuries coming in successful chases. He boasts an astonishing average of 90.40 in 96 games that India has won while chasing. But it’s not just the numbers; it’s the way he approaches chases that makes it an unforgettable experience. His settling in, gradually setting the tempo with boundaries, accumulating singles and doubles, and achieving the target with minimal fuss – this is the spectacle of Kohli. His innings of 95 against New Zealand was quintessential Kohli.

From this point on, fans will eagerly flock to stadiums and screens, not only to witness India’s victories but also to see Kohli equal Tendulkar’s record. Even more gratifying for Kohli and his team would be if someone carries him on their shoulders for a lap of honor on the night of November 19th in Ahmedabad.

Cricket Coming To The 2028 LA Olympics

Flag football and squash will make their Olympic debut in 2028, among five new sports added to the schedule for the Los Angeles Summer Games, as revealed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Monday. Alongside these additions, cricket, lacrosse, and baseball-softball will also join the roster, aimed at diversifying the viewer base.

In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach highlighted the selection of these additional sports as being in harmony with American sports culture and their potential to introduce iconic American sports to a global audience, while also bringing international sports to the United States, thereby making the Olympic Games LA28 distinctive.

Cricket, a sport of massive popularity in India, a country with a population of 1.4 billion, will return to the Olympics for the first time since 1900, featuring the shorter T20 format, a three-hour variation that has thrilled cricket enthusiasts. Sachin Tendulkar, a renowned cricketing figure, expressed his excitement, saying, “This marks the dawn of a new era for cricket as it will be a golden opportunity to foster inclusivity and showcase new talent from emerging cricketing nations.”

Lacrosse will make its Olympic return, having been previously contested in the 1904 and 1908 Olympics and more recently as a demonstration sport in 1948. In LA, the version being played is called sixes, a fast-paced variant of lacrosse introduced in 2018. The IOC acknowledged the Indigenous North American origins of the sport.

Flag football, a non-contact iteration of American football, secured a place in the Olympics following a campaign by the NFL advocating for its inclusion. Notably, more children aged 6 to 12 in the U.S. participate in flag football compared to tackle football.

Squash, played by 20 million enthusiasts across 180 countries, will debut at the 2028 Olympics after previous attempts to secure a spot fell short. Former world champion squash player Jonathon Power emphasized the sport’s passionate following and its potential for unique venues due to the use of glass walls in gameplay. He stated, “They put some of the tournaments at the foot of the pyramids or in Grand Central Station. They can basically put this four-wall glass court in some really spectacular settings.”

While baseball and softball have been part of previous Olympics, including the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, they are not slated to feature in the upcoming Paris Games in 2024.

Additionally, the IOC announced that modern pentathlon and **weightlifting** will continue to be part of the Olympics despite not being initially included in plans. Modern pentathlon made changes by replacing its horse riding event with obstacle racing to reduce costs. Weightlifting had faced scrutiny following a doping scandal, prompting the IOC to closely monitor anti-doping efforts in Paris next year.

In early 2022, 28 sports categories were announced for the LA Olympics, including skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing, reflecting the ongoing efforts to keep the Olympic program dynamic and appealing to a diverse global audience.

The Journey to the 56 International Championship

In the realm of card games, where countless classics like Poker, Bridge, and Blackjack have captured the hearts of players worldwide, a hidden gem stands out among the rest. Meet “56,” a captivating and strategic card game combining luck, skill, and deception. While less widely known than its famous counterparts, 56 has garnered a devoted following due to its engaging gameplay, tactical depth, and historical roots in the Malayali community.

Madhu Kutty and I are roommates from NSS College of Engineering in Palakkad. We met our teammate Rajeev George in November 2019 when our mutual friend Frank from New Haven organized 56 games at his residence. We made a team for the Kerala Boat Club game in December 2019. You can guess what happened. We lost most of the round-robin games. In January 2020, we played a local tournament in Boston;  there, too, we lost most of the round-robin games. Then came the regional New Jersey tournament, and the same losing saga continued. The worst part was not the loss. It was the part that we did not understand why we lost.

Then came COVID and shutdowns in March 2020. Now, we started to play a lot online. I knew Tommy personally and since we knew they were two-time champions at 56 International, we decided to learn from them. They graciously taught us techniques and the ability to read the unsaid “calls”.

56 International is the world championship of 56 held among the Malayali community for 25 years. It started as a small tournament 24 years ago organized by Appachen and Mathew Cheruvil in Detroit. We mainly played against Tommy and his teammates online for some time. Regular online play at Cheettukaliclub.com helped us study and analyze the game of 56. There is nothing to replace practice. Only practice can get you closer to perfection. You realize standard hands and patterns that can then be played from muscle memory rather than trying to analyze at that point.

And then came the 56 International in Chicago in 2021. We qualified for the round-robin stage and lost in the round of 16. 56International Chicago was a great experience: the food, the drinks, the singing and all the fun.

We were annoyed we made a crucial mistake and lost the game. I am sure there were more, but we did not even realize those due to inexperience.

The best part of International is that we made new friends with like-minded people across America.Then, we kept learning more and looking forward to the Tampa tournament.

Meanwhile, we started playing live at Simon’s office with Tommy and Shaji once a week.

The hurricane spoiled our plans to test all our learning as the rain date was when Madhu already booked his tickets for India. Our stopgap team could not win more than three matches required to make it to the knockout round. One more disappointing year as we could not implement everything we practiced for a year.

Individually, there are only certain things you can achieve in life or there are limits. A team can achieve much greater things, whether in your career or personal life or when you are planning to change the world. But you need to build trust among members, know how each other thinks, and you need to coordinate. You need to analyze past games and reassess strategies. Teams can create beautiful things that individuals cannot. Take the Beatles as an example; I think they never made a great song individually but made many as a team.

Every week, we practically had Malayali food at fancy restaurant steak prices (Every loss was $ 20 each, and we were losing 4-5 games a night). In Rajeev’s words, we were paying steak prices for Malayali beef “uLarthirachi”.

Long story short, we won the 24th 56 International tournament in New Jersey in October 2023. The triumphant smiles on our faces are a testament to the hard-fought battles we endured at the recent tournament. Our journey from the grueling hours of practice to the exhilarating moments on the field has been filled with relentless efforts. This essay aims to celebrate our victory, reflect on the excitement of the games, express our gratitude to the organizers, and highlight the incredible camaraderie among players that made our triumph possible.

Winning a tournament is no small feat; it culminates countless hours of dedication, determination, and sacrifice. Our journey was marked by late-night strategy sessions. These very struggles strengthened our resolve and made the victory all the sweeter. We each understood the value of hand analysis, patience during tough matches and perseverance.

The tournament was a rollercoaster of emotions as we battled formidable opponents. The excitement of each game was palpable, with the stakes growing higher as we advanced through the rounds. The tension in the air, and the thrill of competition pushed us to perform at our best. Every call, every cut, and every well-executed play sent waves of jubilation through our team. The games were a testament to our skill, teamwork, and determination and will be etched in our memories forever.

Our Pre-Quarter was a tough one with Sreekumar, Thankachan and Santhosh. They had beaten us during round-robin. But this game went into a tie. Then the two tie-breakers games also tied and we barely and luckily survived the sudden death.

Our semi-finals with Alex, Sajan and Kochumon was a fantastic game. We were down considerably but we waited for that one mistake and we caught on it and that also went to a tie. The first game in tie we called a 40 and won. They called a 48 for the next one and in that one “Pidi” we had we could eke out 9 points.

The finals with Benny George and team from Chicago was a hard-fought one. They were outstanding players. They never made a mistake and we lost the first game. Then we won the second game towards the last two shuffles. Then the third game went to a tie again. During the tiebreaker hands, the second hand we got the almost perfect hand to win but involved risks when we called 56 Diamonds because if the trump was concentrated in one hand we would have lost. But fortune favors the brave sometimes.

Behind every successful tournament are dedicated organizers who work tirelessly to ensure its smooth execution. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the organizers for their unwavering commitment to the sport and their meticulous planning.

While the thrill of victory is undoubtedly sweet and loss disappointing, the camaraderie among players truly enriches the sporting experience. Throughout the tournament, we witnessed not only the fierce competition but also the mutual respect and friendship that transcended the boundaries of teams. Shared moments of celebration and commiseration with opponents underscored the sportsmanship that defines our community. We are grateful for the friendships forged on and off the field, as they remind us that sport is not just about winning but also about the bonds we create.

Our triumph is a testament to the power of resilience, teamwork, and dedication.As we bask in the glory of our triumph, we are reminded that the journey is as important as the destination, and the memories we have created will stay with us forever.

We look forward to future tournaments, knowing that they will be filled with challenges, excitement, and the enduring bonds of friendship. We among ourselves formed a family friendship, including our spouses.

The beauty of a card game is you can play it all your life. It will help you maintain a sharp mind. Unlike cricket or basketball, where the body’s physical limits apply, the mind has infinite possibilities. I believe passionately that after a certain age, like maybe thirty five, you should only play cards 🙂 You cannot physically hurt yourself playing cards.

Plus, playing cards is the main thing you learn in a college hostel in Kerala among Malayalees or in a field or regular long train journeys. This game recreates our nostalgic moments, whether in our homes with our relatives or our paddy fields with our local populace. Many of us would have night outs to play 28 or 56 but never to study for an exam; thats how card crazy we are as a community.

We credit our spouses for their support who let us go through all this, which does not bring them any joy, money, or fame but they agreed just for our passion for the game.

As we drove back to Connecticut, we played one of rock’s greatest anthems, written and sung by Freddie Mercury

I’ve paid my dues

Time after time

I’ve done my sentence

But committed no crime

And bad mistakes

I’ve made a few

I’ve had my share of sand

Kicked in my face

But I’ve come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the champions, my friends

And we’ll keep on fighting till the end

We are the champions

We are the champions

No time for losers

‘Cause we are the champions of the World!

Ravindra Jadeja Is 2nd Indian To Achieve ODI All-Round Feat

In their final Asia Cup Super 4 match, Team India continued their remarkable performance against Bangladesh in Colombo. Opting to bowl first, India dismantled an erratic Bangladeshi batting order, reducing them to 59/4 in 14 overs. Although Bangladesh briefly rallied with captain Shakib Al Hasan (80) and Towhid Hridoy (54) providing resistance, Shakib’s dismissal just after the drinks break in the 33rd over triggered yet another collapse. In the very next over, Ravindra Jadeja dismissed the new batter, Shamim Hossain, achieving a significant milestone in his ODI career.

This dismissal marked Jadeja’s 200th wicket in the ODI format, placing him in an elite group alongside the legendary former Indian captain, Kapil Dev, as the only two Indians to have both 200 wickets and over 2000 runs in ODIs. Among international cricketers, Jadeja joined the esteemed ranks of Sanath Jayasuriya, Shahid Afridi, Shakib Al Hasan, and Daniel Vettori, all of whom have accomplished this remarkable feat.

Jadeja’s achievement also made him the seventh Indian bowler to reach the coveted 200-wicket milestone in ODIs. In this illustrious list, he joins Anil Kumble (337), Javagal Srinath (315), Ajit Agarkar (288), Zaheer Khan (282), Harbhajan Singh (269), and the aforementioned Kapil Dev (251).

Picture: TV News

Kapil Dev, with a career spanning 253 wickets and 3783 runs in 225 ODI matches, was a true pioneer, becoming the first Indian bowler to reach the 250-wicket mark in ODIs. In contrast, Jadeja’s bowling record stands at 200 wickets in 174 ODI innings, with an average of 36.83 and an economy rate of 4.89.

Moreover, Jadeja’s contributions with the bat in ODIs have been equally noteworthy. He has accumulated 2578 runs from 123 innings, boasting an impressive average of 32.22 and securing 13 half-centuries.

In their final Super 4 clash against Bangladesh, Team India chose to rest several key players, including star batsman Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and Hardik Pandya. Despite these absences, India secured their spot in the final, where they will face Sri Lanka, who clinched a thrilling 2-wicket victory in a last-ball finish against Pakistan in their previous match.

Cricket League Launched In Dallas

Dallas Mayor Eric L. Johnson announced the launch of a new sports league and another cricket team for the city as part of the new venture, National Cricket League (NCL). He was joined by Azhar Qasmi, NCL CEO, Dallas business executive Arun Agarwal who is serving as NCL chairman and advisor, Haroon Lorgat, former chairman of the International Cricket Council, as well as cricketers and Lollywood and Bollywood celebrities to celebrate the impending Dallas team launch.

The NCL also announced the new Dallas headquarters and the league’s first event, a nine-day nonstop cricket tournament taking place in December.

Picture : WFAA

The NCL is an exciting new venture that aims to introduce the short, fast-paced form of cricket, called “sixty strikes”, to the United States. It includes six teams with international players, coaches and mentors from all over the world. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer. In the U.S. alone, there are over 30 million cricket enthusiasts, with 4.4 million subscribers paying to watch cricket on various TV channels. It has rapidly gained popularity, especially the “sixty strikes” format.

“It is my hope that we will be able to cheer on our city’s team in a stadium in Dallas soon. The National Cricket League has my full support as it works to bring the first dedicated cricket stadium to Dallas,” said Mayor Johnson.

The mayor and NCL leadership stressed that the new Dallas team and stadium location will be announced very soon. “This will be a Dallas team. When we say Dallas, we mean Dallas – not Arlington, not Frisco. We’re proud to create another team to represent our city,” said Agarwal.

The first league tournament will be December 19-29 at Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida. In addition to cricket, this nine-day nonstop tournament will feature 30+ performances from celebrities around the world.

In 2022, sporting events in Dallas produced more than $647 million in economic impact for the city, supported more than 4,000 jobs and generated $16 million in local tax revenue. And more major sporting events are coming soon to Dallas, including the 2026 FIFA World Cup, the 2030 NCAA Men’s Final Four, and the 2031 NCAA Women’s Final Four.

“If you aren’t already one of the 30 million cricket enthusiasts in America, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the sport,” said Mayor Johnson. “Sports present unique opportunities to bring together people of all backgrounds under one roof. They strengthen communities. They generate excitement. And they foster civic and national pride.”

More details about the Dallas team and stadium location will be revealed in the coming weeks. The names of the six league team owners are also forthcoming, and the drafting of players is expected to take place in October.

National Cricket League

The National Cricket League is an exciting venture that aims to introduce the short and fast-paced “sixty strikes” format of cricket to the United States. “Sixty strikes” matches typically last around 90 minutes and are known for power hitting and high-scoring matches. While cricket may be new to the American audience, it is incredibly popular in other parts of the world with 2.5 billion global followers. For more information, visit nclcricket.com.

India Thrash Pakistan In Asia Cup With Virat Kohli’s 47th One-Day International Century

Having set a target of 357, India bowled out Pakistan for 128 runs, its third-lowest total against India. It was India’s biggest margin of victory — by runs — over its neighbor and bitter rival.

After bad weather halted play on Sunday, when Pakistan won the toss, the game extended to the reserve day and threatened to end in no result after several more rain interruptions but India’s bowlers bowled out the opposition in just 32 overs. Two injured bowlers did not bat for Pakistan.

Kuldeep Yadav finished with a five-wicket haul as Pakistan struggled against the left-arm wrist spinner. As well as taking five wickets, his eight overs cost only 25 runs.

Earlier, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul posted unbeaten hundreds as India amassed 356-2.

Kohli and Rahul put on an unbroken 233 for the third wicket off 194 balls, India’s highest partnership for any wicket in the Asia Cup.

It is also the fourth-highest total at the R Premadasa Stadium, with no one-day international team having successfully chased 357 at the venue, and India’s joint highest ODI total against Pakistan, equalling the 356 scored in Visakhapatnam in 2005.

“We wanted to walk out to the park and have some game time. Many of the guys didn’t have game time,” India captain Rohit Sharma said. “Virat and Rahul batted so well when we had to score big runs, and then the bowlers were superb when it was our time to bowl.”

“We have back-to-back games [playing Sri Lanka on Tuesday] and it’s tough on the players, but we are looking forward for the challenge.”

India resumed on Monday on 147-2 and soon took complete control.

Rahul, back in the side after injury, scored a run-a-ball century. It was his sixth ODI hundred and the first since March 2021. He finished 111 not out off 106 balls with 12 fours and two sixes.

Only former captain Kohli could do better than that as he became the quickest batter to get to 13,000 ODI runs. The previous record holder, Sachin Tendulkar, needed 321 innings to reach the milestone but Kohli got there in 267.

Kohli’s 47th ODI hundred came off 84 balls — after reaching his fifty in 55 deliveries — and it was his fourth consecutive century at the ground. Only Hashim Amla of South Africa has scored four successive tons at the same venue, at Centurion.

Kohli finished unbeaten on 122 off 94 deliveries with nine fours and three sixes.

“India’s batters had a plan for our bowlers. And then Rahul and Kohli followed up and finished very well,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said. “It was disappointing as we were never in the hunt during the run chase.”

Pakistan’s bowling looked strong when the teams met in a first-round game in Kandy but this time India went on the attack.

Pakistan’s bowling was weakened without Haris Rauf. The paceman sent down five overs on Sunday but wasn’t available to bowl on Monday as he felt “discomfort in his right flank”, the Pakistan Cricket Board said. Naseem Shah also walked off midway through his final over with a shoulder niggle. Neither bowler batted.

India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all have one win apiece in the Super Four round. India is top on net run rate.

Bangladesh is the fourth team in the group and has lost two matches.

India made two changes for the match from the line-up that beat Nepal in its previous game. Rahul, who missed the group stage, returned in place of Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah, who had flown back to India and missed the Nepal game due to personal reasons, replaced Mohammad Shami.

Pakistan opted to play an unchanged team, sticking to the same XI that had beaten Bangladesh in their first Super Four game in Lahore.

The first-round day-nighter between India and Pakistan was washed out after India was bowled out for 266 in the 49th over. (Virat Kohli notches 47th one-day international century as India thrash Pakistan in Asia Cup – ABC News)

India Celebrates Praggnanandhaa, Chess Champion

Eighteen-year-old Indian prodigy R Praggnanandhaa could not pull off a repeat of his giant-killing acts of the last few days as fancied Magnus Carlsen beat him in the tie-break to win the in the final of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan last week.  The two classical games on Tuesday and Wednesday had ended in draws, stretching the final into a tie-break.

After a keenly contested first game, the second game was a rather tame affair with Praggnanandhaa falling behind quickly and agreeing to a draw.

Carlsen, who had been under the weather due to food poisoning and did not look at his best in the first classical game, showed why he is so tough to get past with his remarkable comeback in the tie-break.

He ultimately beat Praggnanandhaa 1.5 – 0.5 in the tie-break to win the trophy. Norwegian Grand Master (GM) Carlsen, 32, became a first-time winner of the FIDE World Cup – with which he also retained his No. 1 global rank.

Praggnanandhaa defeated world No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura in the fourth round and eventually went on to shock world No. 3 Fabino Caruana 3.5 – 2.5 via the tie-break in the semifinals on August 21, earning the reputation of a ‘giant killer’.
Former world champion GM Viswanathan Anand had won the FIDE World Cup in 2000 and 2002. But, back then, it was held under a different format.

PM Narendra Modi hailed Praggnanandhaa for his remarkable performance at the FIDE World Cup and said he showcased exceptional skills to give a tough fight to the formidable Magnus Carlsen in the finals. “This is no small feat. Wishing him the very best for his upcoming tournaments,” he added.

Praggnanandhaa, or Pragg as he’s popularly known, made headlines for becoming the world’s youngest player to play in the finals and the third-youngest person to qualify for the Candidates Tournament, putting him in the league of prodigies like Carlsen himself and Bobby Fischer.

The teenager’s achievements have bolstered his reputation in the field. With younger players making a mark, it also signals a “generational shift” in the game itself and that shift “is likely to heavily favour India,” Devangshu Datta, a columnist and Fide-rated chess player wrote in The Times of India.

During this World Cup, four Indian players advanced to the quarterfinals, securing an impressive 50% of the available slots. Currently, there are 21 Indian players who hold positions within the top 100 junior players in the world, all under 20 years of age; among them, four rank in the top 10 and seven in the top 20.

These youngsters “will almost certainly dominate chess for a decade or more,” says Datta. And the theory is a plausible one, because thousands of young Indians are now playing chess – a trend that began in the 2000s after Anand’s victories made headlines – and has since steadily picked up speed.

Smartphones and cheap internet access have made it easy for children to hone their skills through apps and online tournaments, while basic chess coaching is easily available as well. This is significantly different from the way things stood even a couple of decades ago.

“For Indians players who arrived on the scene even two decades after Anand, access to regular training under a GM (Grandmaster) was almost inconceivable,” notes sports writer Susan Ninan in The Indian Express.

Picture: HT

Surprising Picks for India’s 2023 ODI World Cup Squad Announced

With the 2023 ODI World Cup set to take place in India from October 5 to November 19, cricket enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating an exhilarating display of skill and entertainment. The focus will undoubtedly be on the host nation, which, despite consistently fielding a formidable team, has faced disappointment by failing to clinch an ICC trophy since 2013.

Over the years, India has repeatedly come close to securing another coveted ICC title, only to stumble at the semi-final hurdle. One persistent issue has been their middle-order dilemma. The middle-order batsmen have often faltered during crucial moments, eliciting substantial criticism. This problem was evident in the T20 World Cup last year, where India’s journey came to an end in the semi-finals, succumbing to eventual champions, England.

Matthew Hayden, the former Australian cricketer, weighed in on the upcoming World Cup by unveiling his own India squad selections. Hayden’s choices included a few unexpected inclusions. He listed five batters: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, and Suryakumar Yadav. Additionally, he opted for three wicket-keepers: KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson.

Drawing from his extensive experience as a two-time World Cup victor, Hayden identified his trio of all-rounders as Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel. Jadeja and Axar would also serve as spin bowling options. Furthermore, his selections for seam bowlers encompassed Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, and Shardul Thakur. An intriguing omission from Hayden’s roster was Kuldeep Yadav, who had secured a spot in the Asia Cup squad. Also noteworthy was the inclusion of the sidelined Sanju Samson.

Delving deeper into his analysis of India’s challenges in ICC tournaments, Hayden shared his insights during an interview with PTI. He remarked, “The issue certainly isn’t rooted in skill. Thus, it becomes a matter of both seizing opportunities and adopting the right mindset. 

Cricket occupies a central place in the Indian way of life, representing the very DNA of sports and facing limited competition from other pursuits. Contrarily, in Australia, I could stroll down the street without being readily recognized, especially with my rather unkempt beard and cap (chuckles). Our nation also boasts a plethora of competitive sports apart from cricket—rugby, football, water sports, surfing, and outdoor activities. In India, however, the focus remains largely insular, accompanied by a considerable amount of pressure.”

As the anticipation for the 2023 ODI World Cup intensifies, former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden has presented an intriguing perspective on India’s potential squad composition. Hayden’s choices, while surprising in some instances, reflect his strategic insights into building a robust team for the tournament. 

Moreover, his assessment of the challenges faced by the Indian cricketing ecosystem sheds light on the unique pressures and expectations that surround the sport in the country. Cricket’s significance in India’s cultural fabric is undeniable, shaping not only the players’ performance but also the collective mindset of a nation that holds the sport in unparalleled esteem.

 

India’s Captain Rohit Sharma Inaugurates Bay Area Cricket Academy

Six IPL Trophies, five of them as captain; Owner of the highest score in One Day International History, a mammoth 264; A 2007 T20 World Cup Winner; Winner of 3 Asia Cups; One of the best opening batters of his generation, the current captain of the Indian National Cricket Team for all three formats of the game, Rohit Sharma, Inaugurates Bay Area Cricket Academy here last week. 

Cricket fans queue up

Rarely does a player of his caliber make a U.S. visit, but when they do, public interest in cricket spikes. It did so on August 5th this year, when Rohit Sharma arrived in the Bay Area to inaugurate his cricketing academy – CricKingdom – in its very first location in the United States.

The red carpet event was graced by prominent figures from the cricketing world and beyond. Rohit Sharma was joined by his wife and manager Ritika Sajdeh, as well as ace USA bowler Saurabh Netravalkar, the mayors of Milpitas and Fremont, and USA Cricket officials such as West Zone coordinator Prakash Giri. 

While it was a momentous day for Bay Area cricket at our local ‘US Cricket Store,’ the event did not come cheap. It cost $150 to enter and fans were charged up to $500 for a picture or autograph. 

But that did not deter the cricket enthusiasts who lined up outside the store long before the event started. From elementary school children to grandparents, young cricketers, and their parents, fans were eager to meet the cricket star face to face. One young fan said, “I can’t believe I saw him in real life! After watching him on TV so much I finally saw him in person!”

An engaging press conference

Speakers blasting music by Yo Yo Honey Singh heralded Sharma’s grand entrance into the venue. Once the excitement subsided, a local Bay Area dance group performed to Bollywood hits such as the title song from Shah Rukh Khan’s most recent movie Pathaan. 

The press conference that followed was completely engaging. Sharma is known for his witty responses to reporters’ questions answers, but what was apparent was his dedication and passion for the game! Sharma showed himself to be a true team player and a perfect captain for his country. 

When asked which game he would remember for his entire life, Sharma mentioned not just the games to which he had made strong contributions, but also the matches where India had done well as a team even though his own performances may have fallen short! 

Sharma was very modest, humbly sharing how he idolized Sachin Tendulkar and feeling tongue-tied around him. It was an eye-opening revelation to realize that athletes are actual people too. What we see on TV is just such a small part of athletes’ lives, and we don’t realize all that goes on behind the scenes. Sharma talked about his struggles with injuries and the pressures of being captain of the Indian cricket team. 

Sharma graciously answered some questions from reporters. His answers have been lightly edited for publication.

If there was one game that you will remember your whole life, which one would it be?

RS: When you have a career of 15-16 years, there are so many games that you don’t want to forget. For example, my first ever 100-run partnership with Sachin, going back to 2008 in the CB Series. I had never played with him. What happened was I got to bat with him in the finals, and I have always idolized him.  Even when I was in the dressing room with him I never used to really talk to him, because from childhood I had seen him, and now he was sitting in front of me. I was just wondering, ‘What is Sachin Tendulkar?’ What does he look like?’ Then he came to bat with me and we got a 100-run match-winning partnership. We went on to win that first final and …the CB series also, which was the first time that India won. 

The 2007 World Cup was also really special. My 264 was also memorable and my test cricket debut hundred.

And then, although I didn’t make a significant contribution in that test match, the one that we won in Gabba (Australia) in 2021. That was probably the best test match that India has ever played or the best that I have ever watched. India has never won there. India won in Gabba…the most difficult place in Australia, … to win that test match with so many injuries, like 7 or 8 of … our players were injured on the tour.

You started your career off as a spin bowler, so shouldn’t you have a couple of chances to roll your arm over?

RS: Of course, that has been on my mind for the past 4-5 years. Unfortunately, as an off-spinner, I have to hold the ball with my middle finger and my index finger, and you have to have a revolution on the ball for it to do something off the pitch. I got hit here 2 or 3 times, – dislocation, fracture, and things like that. So whenever I bowl, it hurts. That was actually compromising while holding my bat. I didn’t want to do that, because on a team, my main role is to score runs with the bat, not off-spin. That is where I had to sacrifice my bowling so that I could be 100% on my batting. I’ve given it enough time, enough work on the fingers, but it never turned out well. 

How did you get the nickname ‘Hitman’?

RS: That was a production guy in India from Star Sports. One of the crew from Star Sports, when scored my first double hundred against Australia in 2013 – I think it was a world record for hitting 16 sixes which was later equaled by Shane Watson a few years later – but until then, in 2013, 16 sixes was a world record. So when I was at the presentation ceremony for man of the match and also player of the series, one of these guys – we call him PD – he was the one that came to me and said, “You know, you are a hitman yaar. The way you hit the ball is a hitman.”

This was actually said to Ravi Shastri while he was commentating on air, and Ravi Shastri said, “He is the hitman of Indian cricket.” After that, actually, it started catching on, and my team started calling me that. You know how it spreads. Now, 10 years later, everybody knows it. 

Historic Triumphs for Indian Women Wrestlers at U20 World Championships

On August 18, Antim Panghal etched her name in history by becoming the first Indian female wrestler to secure consecutive U20 world titles. She masterfully defended her 53kg crown, showcasing an impressive blend of agility and strength, resulting in an extraordinary achievement.

Joining Panghal in this historic victory, Savita (62kg) also claimed the world champion title, contributing to the Indian women’s team triumph in the team category at a world championship—an unprecedented milestone in the annals of sports.

This remarkable achievement underscored a watershed moment for Indian wrestling as a whole, with an impressive total of seven wrestlers clinching medals. Among these were three gold medals, one silver, earned by Antim Kundu (65kg), and three bronze medals secured by Reena (57kg), Arju (68kg), and Harshita (72kg).

Picture: The UNN

Panghal, hailing from Hisar in Haryana, exhibited her dominance against her Ukrainian adversary Mariia Yefremova, securing a convincing 4-0 victory. Throughout the tournament, her ferocity and control were evident, conceding merely two points in her journey.

Her prowess as a future leader in this category was unmistakably apparent. This was further demonstrated when she challenged Vinesh Phogat for the Asian Games trials, confidently asserting her ability to defeat the decorated senior wrestler. Panghal’s conviction in not receiving a direct entry highlighted her dedication and self-assuredness.

Having made history as the first Indian female grappler to claim a junior world championship title the previous year, Panghal showcased a seamless transition to the senior circuit. In her bout against Yefremova, she exhibited astute defense, countering leg attacks with remarkable presence of mind.

Panghal’s rapid movements and well-executed double-leg attacks, underpinned by her impressive strength, left her Ukrainian opponent struggling. The contest culminated with Panghal’s decisive right-leg attack, seamlessly transformed into a takedown maneuver, sealing her victory.

In the 62kg final, Savita set the mat ablaze with a commanding technical superiority win against Venezuela’s A Paola Montero Chirinos. Displaying finesse and control, the wrestler from Rohtak accumulated points with ease. A take-down two-pointer marked the beginning, and Savita steadily extended her lead against a perplexed Chirinos.

By the conclusion of the first period, Savita held a commanding 9-0 advantage, subsequently clinching victory early in the second period without relinquishing a single point.

However, Antim Kundu fell short of victory in her final, succumbing to a 2-9 defeat against the local favorite, Eniko Elekes.

Reena secured the 57kg bronze with a resilient 9-4 triumph over Kazakhstan’s ShugylaOmirbek. Leading 5-0, Reena navigated through last-minute drama to secure her spot on the podium. At 5-2, the umpire awarded four points to Reena’s Kazakh counterpart, which was later overturned, resulting in Reena’s final score of 9-4.

Prior to securing her medal, Reena demonstrated her mettle by prevailing in two repechage rounds earlier in the day.

Bringing the Indian campaign to a fitting close, Harshita pinned her Moldovan rival Emilia Creciun. With a 6-0 lead at that point, Harshita executed a decisive move, putting Creciun’s back to the mat to secure a victory by fall.

August 18 witnessed historic accomplishments by Indian women wrestlers at the U20 World Championships. Antim Panghal’s consecutive title victory and Savita’s triumph contributed to an unparalleled achievement for the Indian women’s team in the world championship history. The success was further amplified with a total of seven medals, including gold, silver, and bronze, showcasing India’s prowess in the wrestling arena.

Amazon, Google Wooed By India For $750 Million Cricket Rights

India’s cricket governing body is trying to lure global giants Amazon.com and Alphabet to bid in a media rights auction of its team’s games amid waning interest from firms who had recently competed fiercely for the wildly successful Indian Premier League.

The proposed starting date of the auction process for the media rights of the so-called bilateral series, played by the Indian team against other countries, for the next five years got postponed by at least two weeks as the Board of Control for Cricket in India reaches out to more firms to drum up interest in the property, according to people familiar with the matter.

Picture : Economic Times

The lukewarm response by media firms ahead of the auction highlights the struggle to make money amid weak advertising revenues, with the shorter-format IPL being the top cricket property garnering higher viewership over the years. BCCI invited bids for the media rights on Wednesday and gave firms time up to Aug. 25 to buy the bid documents, the governing body said on its website.

The sale process is running two weeks behind a timeline suggested by its adviser, Ernst & Young, under which auctions would have been completed by August end, they said, asking not to be named as the information is not public. EY expects the sale of rights to 102 matches to raise at least $750 million, almost the same price for what it was sold five years back, the people said.

In contrast, the rights to IPL, which was auctioned last year, had surged almost threefold from the previous offering. The IPL remains one of the world’s most popular sporting contests and is still garnering the most eyeballs among cricket events.

BCCI raised record amounts of money by selling media rights for the IPL through an auction as Viacom, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, and Walt Disney Co. outbid rivals, including Sony. However, Ambani’s JioCinema put the 2023 edition of IPL online for free and Disney struggled to make profits due to weak advertisement revenues.

Viacom 18 will aggressively bid for the digital media rights to the bilateral series, while Disney undergoing a round of cost reduction globally, might take a cautious stance, the people said.

Representatives for BCCI, Disney and EY declined to comment. Spokespersons Viacom 18, Amazon and Alphabet didn’t respond to emails seeking comments.

Star India, a Disney unit since 2019, had bought rights for the bilateral series in the five years from 2018 for 61 billion rupees ($741 million) and has clocked losses of about 10 billion rupees from the asset, the people said. A decision on breaking up the media rights into digital and linear this time around and conducting an e-auction is yet to be taken, they said.

Bollywood Star, Cricket Greats Combine To Launch World Cup Campaign

The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) have joined forces to unveil a new campaign ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India later this year.

The ‘It Takes One Day’ campaign was launched in Mumbai on Thursday just 77 days out from the first match at this year’s World Cup, with the campaign aiming to connect fans across the world to the ‘Navarasa’ which symbolises the nine emotions fans most commonly experience during a cricket match.

A film featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan – along with renowned cricketers JP Duminy, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik, current World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Jonty Rhodes and Jemimah Rodrigues – was released in conjunction with the campaign launch and showcases many decorated moments in the history of the Men’s Cricket World Cup.

The campaign displays the journey of raw emotions experienced by both players and fans collectively over One Day, with the film connecting the nine ‘Navarasa’ emotions – anguish, bravery, glory, joy, passion, power, pride, respect and wonder – and explores how it takes one day to experience this rollercoaster.

ICC CEO Geoff Allardice was thrilled to launch the campaign and is eagerly awaiting the commencement of the World Cup in Ahmedabad on October 5.

“This campaign is a true celebration of One Day International cricket and builds a sense of anticipation of what we can expect when the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 returns to India. The emotions, or Navarasa, are felt by fans and players alike during One Day and this campaign brings to life that shared experience,” Allardice said in a statement.

“Cricket and cinema are at the heart of Indian psyche, and we’ve infused the two to create appeal far and wide. The involvement of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan together with an exceptional line-up of cricketers will only help us deepen our connect in this country, while captivating the attention worldwide.”

BCCI secretary Jay Shah echoed Allardice’s sentiments. “The ODI format holds an unparalleled significance with its ability to deliver thrilling moments, intense battles, and unpredictable outcomes that will truly captivate fans globally. As we embark on this journey, we are proud to see the launch of the Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign and create real excitement for the event across the world,” he said.

“We are fully committed to creating a world-class event that will witness the birth of a new generation of heroes, providing fans with unforgettable experiences and we believe the campaign does this. The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India will be a celebration of cricketing excellence, cultural diversity, and the unifying spirit of the game.” (IANS)

Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Invests In America’s New Pro Cricket League

Anand Rajaraman left India to study abroad at Stanford University three decades before he invested in a T20 professional league in the hopes of finally igniting cricket in the United States. He wondered if he was leaving behind his beloved sport permanently.

Rajaraman, who was born in Chennai and grew up with many of his older brothers and sisters, fell in love with cricket after India, the underdog team, won the World Cup in 1983, a historic victory that changed cricket forever.

However, progression in innovation, with famous cricket site Cricinfo being one of the main well known sports locales on the web, guaranteed this maturing tech wizard had his fix in landscape where the well known English bat and ball game was scarcely noticeable.

Just at the right time, too, as a new generation of flamboyant cricket players, led by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, began to make a mark for India, a rising powerhouse.

In an interview, Rajaraman, co-owner of the groundbreaking San Francisco Unicorns in Major League Cricket, told me, “People from previous generations who moved from India to the U.S. or wherever couldn’t follow the sport anymore because there was no internet.”

“Yet, I moved when the web was simply starting and that permitted me to follow the game and stay in contact with it despite the fact that I wasn’t in India.

“We additionally had interestingly the capacity to utilize satellite dishes to observe live broadcast of games in the U.S.”

Rajaraman played cricket with a tennis ball socially during his school years, frequently prompting confounded looks from those strolling by considering what was happening.

In those days Rajaraman would never have forecasted that a very long time down the track he would be a main piece of a juvenile cricket association in his took on country, tricking top players from stalwart cricket countries with solid compensation.

“I never envisioned that the chance would emerge despite the fact that I’ve forever been a gigantic fan,” he said.

After school, Rajaraman put his focus on Silicon Valley and left on an exceptionally fruitful profession as a business person. Alongside Venky Harinarayan, co-proprietor of the Unicorns, he was an establishing accomplice of early online business organization Junglee, which was procured by AmazonAMZN – 0.9% in 1998 for $250 million.

They additionally later established Kosmix, which was gained by WalmartWMT 0.0%, and were early financial backers in Facebook.

Indeed, even in the midst of a feverish vocation, Rajaraman’s energy for cricket never faltered and he was perceptibly mixed in 2008 by the coming of the Indian Chief Association – the breathtaking expert T20 association which has progressively turned into a juggernaut throughout recent years.

“It was the start of cricket moving from a game that was being played between public groups and turning into an establishment model,” he said. ” That alongside the T20 design which required a five-day sport and bundled it into a three-hour design.

“Both these developments I believed were the right things expected to carry cricket into the U.S, which is an establishment sports country.”

After useful examples, most quite in 2004 when an eight-group T20 proficient association called Ace Cricket collapsed after only one season, improvement for MLC began toward the end of last decade.

Rajaraman was inevitably approached early about owning a franchise due to his background and natural enthusiasm for cricket. Naturally, he was captivated by the extravagant plans. Obviously, as a quick financial speculator, he needed to assess the proposition completely.

He stated, “Clearly I wanted to evaluate it not only as a passionate cricket fan but also as a business opportunity because I invest in start-ups for a living.”

“The large scale factors are extremely, positive. We have the largest sports market in the world and the second most popular sport in the world. In the United States, there are sufficient cricket devotees who stay up late to watch games.

“So that shows the potential in the event that you can make a nearby establishment association, where games are being played at early evening for the neighborhood crowd. That potential is enormous,” he continued.

Rajaraman was persuaded, and he and Harinarayan began constructing a franchise from the ground up.

The six establishments – San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Texas and Washington – are in key business sectors with a solid number of ostracizes from South Asia.

Having lived in the Sound Region city of Palo Alto for north of thirty years, Rajaraman was the conspicuous contender to assume control over the San Francisco establishment.

The Golden State Warriors, the NBA’s most powerful team and the seventh most profitable sports franchise in the world, are now part of the Bay Area’s sports scene, and the pressure to establish an identity has begun with a name.

“We needed to pick a name for the group that mirrors the district, in addition to a dull name that is normal for a games group,” he said about the decision for the San Francisco establishment to be called Unicorns.

“San Francisco Inlet Region is about innovation and Silicon Valley, that is individuals’ opinion on San Francisco.

“In Silicon Valley, an organization that is massively fruitful is known as a unicorn. That term has grown over time, now referring to extremely successful athletes as unicorns.

The unmistakable name, notwithstanding, was at first welcomed with some suspicion.

“Many individuals, incorporating individuals engaged with the association, saw it to be an extremely dangerous name since it isn’t utilized for sports groups,” Rajaraman said.

“Yet, Silicon Valley is tied in with facing challenge and succeeding. It’s not necessary to focus on doing the anticipated move.”

The Unicorns’ playing unit and logo will be orange, light blue and naval force blue tones addressing the Brilliant Entryway Scaffold, San Francisco Sound and the Pacific Sea.

The new group drove by previous Australia captain Aaron Finch, be that as it may, will not be playing at home in the debut season beginning on July 13 with all games in the 18-day competition to be played in Dallas and Morrisville, North Carolina.

An arena in St Nick Clara is in progress and set to have global cricket in spite of the fact that won’t be prepared for the following year’s T20 World Cup in the U.S. furthermore, Caribbean. ” It won’t be an immense arena, I’m thinking around 10,000 (swarm limit),” Rajaraman said.

“Something like the little grounds in New Zealand, where you have a couple of stands however really lush banks for families. That is the energy we are going for with an American feel to it.”

“We needed to pick a name for the group that mirrors the district, in addition to a dull name that is normal for a games group,” he said about the decision for the San Francisco establishment to be called Unicorns.

“San Francisco Inlet Region is about innovation and Silicon Valley, that is individuals’ opinion on San Francisco.

“In Silicon Valley, an organization that is massively fruitful is known as a unicorn. That term has grown over time, now referring to extremely successful athletes as unicorns.

The unmistakable name, notwithstanding, was at first welcomed with some suspicion.

“Many individuals, incorporating individuals engaged with the association, saw it to be an extremely dangerous name since it isn’t utilized for sports groups,” Rajaraman said.

“Yet, Silicon Valley is tied in with facing challenge and succeeding. It’s not necessary to focus on doing the anticipated move.”

The Unicorns’ playing unit and logo will be orange, light blue and naval force blue tones addressing the Brilliant Entryway Scaffold, San Francisco Sound and the Pacific Sea.

The new group drove by previous Australia captain Aaron Finch, be that as it may, will not be playing at home in the debut season beginning on July 13 with all games in the 18-day competition to be played in Dallas and Morrisville, North Carolina.

An arena in St Nick Clara is in progress and set to have global cricket in spite of the fact that won’t be prepared for the following year’s T20 World Cup in the U.S. furthermore, Caribbean. ” It won’t be an immense arena, I’m thinking around 10,000 (swarm limit),” Rajaraman said.

“Something like the little grounds in New Zealand, where you have a couple of stands however really lush banks for families. That is the energy we are going for with an American feel to it.”

In the volatile American cricket scene, after years of disappointment and false dawns, anticipation is growing for a tournament that is expected to spread throughout the United States and beyond.

“For what reason we’re ready to get top players into the MLC is because of the great compensation cap, which is vital,” Rajaraman said. ” In the next five to ten years, I believe MLC has a chance of becoming one of the top three cricket tournaments in the world.

“Being a part of it is very exciting. I had no assumption this would occur, all my vocation has been about innovation.

“It’s amazing to combine the things I love, and we’re really looking forward to creating a long-term, successful franchise with devoted Bay Area fans,”

Alcaraz Wins Wimbledon in a Thrilling Comeback Against Djokovic

Following quite a while of premature moves, men’s tennis at last has a legitimate conflict between the ages. In a frightening rebound that shook the All Britain Club’s respected Center Court, Carlos Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spanish star who has blitzed the game in his concise profession, pulled off the almost unimaginable, beating Novak Djokovic in a Wimbledon last on the grass that the man generally perceived as the best ever to play the game has long treated as his back yard.

In addition to attempting to win a Grand Slam, Djokovic wanted to put an end to the hopes of another well-known newcomer who was trying to challenge his dominance of the sport, which has resulted in 23 Grand Slam tournament victories. Alcaraz is the leading figure of the following gathering of players who should move the game past the time of the Huge Three, a period that incorporates Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and that Djokovic has administered longer than many anticipated.

Alcaraz won the U.S. Open last year in exciting, gymnastic design, serving notice that men’s tennis would have been stirred up by a strange ability. This year, he pulled out from the Australian Open to nurture a physical issue and was crushed by Djokovic in the elimination rounds at the French Open. In any case, the buzz around him and his future won’t ever lessen.

“It’s perfect for the new age,” Alcaraz said, “to see me beating him and making them feel that they are proficient to make it happen.”

Down after the principal set and battling just to stay away from shame, Alcaraz rediscovered his novel blend of speed, power and contact and sorted out the nuances of grass-court tennis at the last possible second.

In an epic, 85-minute second set, when he was one point away from what appeared to be an insurmountable two-set deficit, he clawed his way back into the match.

He took control of the match in the middle of the third set, but in the fourth set, he faltered as Djokovic, the four-time defending champion and seven-time winner of Wimbledon, rediscovered the footwork that has been the foundation of his success for a long time.

Alcaraz rose once more to claim victory, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, not only overcoming Djokovic’s endless skills and talents but also breaking his spirit. Djokovic is as dangerous as he has ever been when facing defeat.

At the point when the energy swung one final time, as Alcaraz wrenched a strike down the line to break Djokovic’s serve right off the bat in the fifth set, the Serb with the steely brain crushed his racket on the net post. He had wasted a chance to take control a few points earlier by hitting a floating forehand in the middle of the court and sending it into the net. Presently, only a couple of moments later, what has so seldom happened to him as of late — a misfortune to an overall novice on a fabulous stage, particularly this terrific stage — was occurring.

Djokovic, the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, finally beat Nadal and Federer, his longtime rivals, last month. But this defeat cost him a chance at one of the few prizes he hasn’t won: becoming the first player since 1969 to win all four major tournaments in a single year and complete the Grand Slam in men’s singles. Two years ago, he was one match away from accomplishing the feat. This time, at 36 years of age, an age when most bosses have resigned to the transmission corner, he was eight matches away.

It appeared to be so close, but Alcaraz demonstrated why everyone has been so obsessed with him for so long in the final game. He beat Djokovic with his most seductive shots: a silky drop shot, a skillful topspin lob, a powerful serve, and a final ripping forehand that Djokovic reached for but was unable to hit over the net.

Alcaraz dropped to the ground and moved on the grass, his hands over his face in dismay. He embraced Djokovic at the net, warmly greeted the umpire, got a free ball from the grass and drop-kicked it into the group prior to heading into the stands to embrace his folks and his mentor, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Alcaraz stated, “It’s amazing for me to beat Novak at his best, in this stage, make history, and be the guy to beat him after 10 years unbeaten on that court.”

In the wake of taking the top dog’s prize from Catherine, Princess of Ridges, on a day that drew out Top notch VIPs like the entertainers Brad Pitt, Daniel Craig, Emma Watson and Hugh Jackman and the vocalist Ariana Grande, he got to mess with Lord Felipe VI of Spain, who additionally watched the youthful Spanish player’s victory. Alcaraz addressed the king, “Now that I won, I hope you are coming to more of my matches.”

One of Alcaraz’s many tutors, Nadal, the incomparable Spanish player who had deposed one more Wimbledon symbol, Federer, in 2008, composed via virtual entertainment that Alcaraz had brought “monstrous satisfaction” to Spanish tennis.

“A very firm hug, Champion, and enjoy the moment!!!” wrote Nadal, who had recent hip and abdominal surgery and was unable to participate in the tournament.

The misfortune made an intriguing second for Djokovic, who recognized that on this day basically he had lost to a superior player.

“An extreme one to swallow,” Djokovic said of the misfortune. After that, he looked at his son, who was smiling at him from a seat near the courtroom, and fought back tears. He thanked his family for supporting him. We can all love one another, and I’ll give you a big hug.

On Saturday, Mats Wilander, the seven-time Huge homerun victor who is currently quite possibly of the most regarded voice in the game, put Djokovic’s possibilities beating Alcaraz and winning the four 2023 Huge homerun occasions at 90%.

“He has such a large number of weapons,” Wilander said. ” He is familiar with the sport in its entirety. He knows everything exactly how to do it. The rivals aren’t prepared for him.”

Wilander appeared to be prescient in the opening minutes of Sunday’s final. It appeared as though the most important men’s tennis match would be fought between two players who had entered Centre Court under completely different circumstances.

Djokovic had his typical July Sunday. However, Alcaraz was playing in his most memorable Wimbledon last, and that weight was made heavier after the pressure prompted, full-body cramps he endured during his elimination round confrontation with Djokovic at the French Open a month ago. That had been the principal significant second when Alcaraz, the favorite and the world No. 1, did not live up to his promise. Sunday was unique. Be that as it may, not from the start.

From the initial minutes, Djokovic stuck Alcaraz in the back corner of the court with low cutting shots that made it unthinkable for Alcaraz to go on the assault. He squashed assistance returns, focusing on the earthy colored patches of soil at Alcaraz’s feet and sending him running in reverse. Before the half-hour mark of the match, Djokovic had a 2-0 lead and was being set up.

After an epic second set that lasted three times as long as the first, Alcaraz’s chance of reaching his first Wimbledon final came down to a crucial tiebreaker. Djokovic excels at tiebreakers. Entering the last, he had won 14 straight in Huge homerun matches.

The second drawn out the best in the two players — the huge serves to the corners; frightful drop shots; fresh, point-saving victors with the adversary shutting in at the net — and the stuffed group, with rotating serenades of “Novak, Novak,” and “Carlos, Carlos” reverberating around the Middle Court overhangs.

And afterward right when maybe Djokovic was ready to snatch a directing two-set lead, he sent two strikes into the net to allow Alcaraz an opportunity to draw even. Alcaraz then broke Djokovic’s serve with a backhand return down the line to tie the match at one set apiece.

The previous heavyweight champion Mike Tyson once said that everybody has an arrangement until they get hit in the mouth.

Alcaraz had handled a shot to Djokovic’s jaw, and Djokovic felt it. Djokovic made a lot of mistakes in the third set. He fought to recapture a traction in the match, never more so than a game halfway through that went to 13 deuces, that finished with a Djokovic forehand into the net.

As he generally does when he is down, Djokovic took an extensive restroom break before the fourth set. He talks to himself in the mirror while splashing water on his face. Ordinarily, he arises an alternate player, and Sunday was the same, as he held onto the drive again, breaking Alcaraz’s serve halfway through, getting back in his mind and accepting the set as Alcaraz, again tense and on edge, twofold blamed.

They were back where they started nearly four hours later. Almost five hours of show would boil down to a couple of seconds.

“He astounded me. Djokovic said of Alcaraz, “He surprised everyone.” In his eyes, Alcaraz had taken elements of his, Nadal’s, and Federer’s styles and produced a prowess on grass — his grass! — much sooner than he anticipated. I haven’t played a player like him, of all time.”

Alcaraz Wins Wimbledon in a Thrilling Comeback Against Djokovic

Following quite a while of premature moves, men’s tennis at last has a legitimate conflict between the ages.

In a frightening rebound that shook the All Britain Club’s respected Center Court, Carlos Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spanish star who has blitzed the game in his concise profession, pulled off the almost unimaginable, beating Novak Djokovic in a Wimbledon last on the grass that the man generally perceived as the best ever to play the game has long treated as his back yard.

In addition to attempting to win a Grand Slam, Djokovic wanted to put an end to the hopes of another well-known newcomer who was trying to challenge his dominance of the sport, which has resulted in 23 Grand Slam tournament victories. Alcaraz is the leading figure of the following gathering of players who should move the game past the time of the Huge Three, a period that incorporates Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and that Djokovic has administered longer than many anticipated.

Alcaraz won the U.S. Open last year in exciting, gymnastic design, serving notice that men’s tennis would have been stirred up by a strange ability. This year, he pulled out from the Australian Open to nurture a physical issue and was crushed by Djokovic in the elimination rounds at the French Open. In any case, the buzz around him and his future won’t ever lessen.

“It’s perfect for the new age,” Alcaraz said, “to see me beating him and making them feel that they are proficient to make it happen.”

Down after the principal set and battling just to stay away from shame, Alcaraz rediscovered his novel blend of speed, power and contact and sorted out the nuances of grass-court tennis at the last possible second.

In an epic, 85-minute second set, when he was one point away from what appeared to be an insurmountable two-set deficit, he clawed his way back into the match.

He took control of the match in the middle of the third set, but in the fourth set, he faltered as Djokovic, the four-time defending champion and seven-time winner of Wimbledon, rediscovered the footwork that has been the foundation of his success for a long time.

Alcaraz rose once more to claim victory, 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, not only overcoming Djokovic’s endless skills and talents but also breaking his spirit. Djokovic is as dangerous as he has ever been when facing defeat.

At the point when the energy swung one final time, as Alcaraz wrenched a strike down the line to break Djokovic’s serve right off the bat in the fifth set, the Serb with the steely brain crushed his racket on the net post. He had wasted a chance to take control a few points earlier by hitting a floating forehand in the middle of the court and sending it into the net. Presently, only a couple of moments later, what has so seldom happened to him as of late — a misfortune to an overall novice on a fabulous stage, particularly this terrific stage — was occurring.

Djokovic, the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, finally beat Nadal and Federer, his longtime rivals, last month. But this defeat cost him a chance at one of the few prizes he hasn’t won: becoming the first player since 1969 to win all four major tournaments in a single year and complete the Grand Slam in men’s singles. Two years ago, he was one match away from accomplishing the feat. This time, at 36 years of age, an age when most bosses have resigned to the transmission corner, he was eight matches away.

It appeared to be so close, but Alcaraz demonstrated why everyone has been so obsessed with him for so long in the final game. He beat Djokovic with his most seductive shots: a silky drop shot, a skillful topspin lob, a powerful serve, and a final ripping forehand that Djokovic reached for but was unable to hit over the net.

Alcaraz dropped to the ground and moved on the grass, his hands over his face in dismay. He embraced Djokovic at the net, warmly greeted the umpire, got a free ball from the grass and drop-kicked it into the group prior to heading into the stands to embrace his folks and his mentor, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Alcaraz stated, “It’s amazing for me to beat Novak at his best, in this stage, make history, and be the guy to beat him after 10 years unbeaten on that court.”

In the wake of taking the top dog’s prize from Catherine, Princess of Ridges, on a day that drew out Top notch VIPs like the entertainers Brad Pitt, Daniel Craig, Emma Watson and Hugh Jackman and the vocalist Ariana Grande, he got to mess with Lord Felipe VI of Spain, who additionally watched the youthful Spanish player’s victory. Alcaraz addressed the king, “Now that I won, I hope you are coming to more of my matches.”

One of Alcaraz’s many tutors, Nadal, the incomparable Spanish player who had deposed one more Wimbledon symbol, Federer, in 2008, composed via virtual entertainment that Alcaraz had brought “monstrous satisfaction” to Spanish tennis.

“A very firm hug, Champion, and enjoy the moment!!!” wrote Nadal, who had recent hip and abdominal surgery and was unable to participate in the tournament.

The misfortune made an intriguing second for Djokovic, who recognized that on this day basically he had lost to a superior player.

“An extreme one to swallow,” Djokovic said of the misfortune. After that, he looked at his son, who was smiling at him from a seat near the courtroom, and fought back tears. He thanked his family for supporting him. We can all love one another, and I’ll give you a big hug.

On Saturday, Mats Wilander, the seven-time Huge homerun victor who is currently quite possibly of the most regarded voice in the game, put Djokovic’s possibilities beating Alcaraz and winning the four 2023 Huge homerun occasions at 90%.

“He has such a large number of weapons,” Wilander said. ” He is familiar with the sport in its entirety. He knows everything exactly how to do it. The rivals aren’t prepared for him.”

Wilander appeared to be prescient in the opening minutes of Sunday’s final. It appeared as though the most important men’s tennis match would be fought between two players who had entered Centre Court under completely different circumstances.

Djokovic had his typical July Sunday. However, Alcaraz was playing in his most memorable Wimbledon last, and that weight was made heavier after the pressure prompted, full-body cramps he endured during his elimination round confrontation with Djokovic at the French Open a month ago. That had been the principal significant second when Alcaraz, the favorite and the world No. 1, did not live up to his promise.

Sunday was unique. Be that as it may, not from the start.

From the initial minutes, Djokovic stuck Alcaraz in the back corner of the court with low cutting shots that made it unthinkable for Alcaraz to go on the assault. He squashed assistance returns, focusing on the earthy colored patches of soil at Alcaraz’s feet and sending him running in reverse.

Before the half-hour mark of the match, Djokovic had a 2-0 lead and was being set up.

After an epic second set that lasted three times as long as the first, Alcaraz’s chance of reaching his first Wimbledon final came down to a crucial tiebreaker. Djokovic excels at tiebreakers. Entering the last, he had won 14 straight in Huge homerun matches.

The second drawn out the best in the two players — the huge serves to the corners; frightful drop shots; fresh, point-saving victors with the adversary shutting in at the net — and the stuffed group, with rotating serenades of “Novak, Novak,” and “Carlos, Carlos” reverberating around the Middle Court overhangs.

And afterward right when maybe Djokovic was ready to snatch a directing two-set lead, he sent two strikes into the net to allow Alcaraz an opportunity to draw even. Alcaraz then broke Djokovic’s serve with a backhand return down the line to tie the match at one set apiece.

The previous heavyweight champion Mike Tyson once said that everybody has an arrangement until they get hit in the mouth.

Alcaraz had handled a shot to Djokovic’s jaw, and Djokovic felt it. Djokovic made a lot of mistakes in the third set. He fought to recapture a traction in the match, never more so than a game halfway through that went to 13 deuces, that finished with a Djokovic forehand into the net.

As he generally does when he is down, Djokovic took an extensive restroom break before the fourth set. He talks to himself in the mirror while splashing water on his face. Ordinarily, he arises an alternate player, and Sunday was the same, as he held onto the drive again, breaking Alcaraz’s serve halfway through, getting back in his mind and accepting the set as Alcaraz, again tense and on edge, twofold blamed.

They were back where they started nearly four hours later. Almost five hours of show would boil down to a couple of seconds.

“He astounded me. Djokovic said of Alcaraz, “He surprised everyone.” In his eyes, Alcaraz had taken elements of his, Nadal’s, and Federer’s styles and produced a prowess on grass — his grass! — much sooner than he anticipated. I haven’t played a player like him, of all time.”

Marketa Vondrousova Wins Wimbledon and Her First Grand Slam Title

The Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova is no longer one of the most unlikely Wimbledon champions. Vondrousova stunned herself, her family, and the tennis world when she defeated Ons Jabeur, a pioneering Tunisian who was a heavy favorite, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

Vondrousova, 24, turned into the principal unseeded player to win Wimbledon and the most recent in a long queue of Czech-conceived ladies to lift the main prize in the game, returning to Martina Navratilova’s mastery of Wimbledon during the 1980s, after Navratilova had deserted to the US.

Vondrousova is a left-handed player with a nasty slice serve, like Navratilova, who watched the match from a box. She used it in the tenseest moments throughout the afternoon when Jabeur attempted to take control of the match or mount yet another comeback.

The similitudes with Navratilova, a forceful serve-and-volleyer who burst into the game as a youngster, for the most part end there.

Vondrousova, who won a mistake filled match that compensated for what it needed quality with shock, is currently a definitive unnoticed player subsequent to going three-for-three at pulverizing tennis fantasies. In 2021, she defeated Naomi Osaka at the Olympics in Tokyo, just a few days after Osaka set the Olympic standard as a favorite to win a gold medal at home.

On Thursday, Vondrousova defeated Elina Svitolina, a Ukrainian new mother who fought hard to reach the semifinals and inspired her people as they fight against Russia’s invasion.

On Saturday evening it was Jabeur’s chance to have her fantasy squashed by Vondrousova’s precarious and unconventional game in a competition that Vondrousova said was difficult to win, given her sparse history of progress on grass.

“At the point when we came I was very much like, ‘Attempt to win two or three matches,'” Vondrousova said. ” Presently this occurred, it’s insane,” Vondrousova said.

She had a lot of organization asking exactly the same thing, taking into account she had a cast on her wrist following a medical procedure during Wimbledon last year. This time, Vondrousova’s husband decided to stay at home and care for their bald Sphynx cat instead of coming to watch her play on Saturday.

Stepan Simek, on the other hand, rushed to find a cat sitter after Vondrousova defeated Svitolina in the semifinals and boarded a flight to watch his wife play in the Wimbledon final. They intended to commemorate their first wedding anniversary on Sunday.

“There will be one day we will have grandchildren and I’m simply anticipating the day when I can recount the narrative of their grandma winning Wimbledon,” Simek said.

Vondrousova’s dearest companion and copies accomplice, Miriam Kolodziejova, said she didn’t really accept that Vondrousova could bring home the singles championship.

She stated, “It’s like a dream for us.”

For Jabeur, the misfortune in a moment straight Wimbledon last against a cultivated undeniably less rival than different ladies she thump en route to the slope of tennis history, was nothing not exactly disastrous. Jabeur has now lost three of the last five Huge homerun finals, missing the mark regarding turning into the main lady of Middle Easterner drop and from Africa to come out on top for the main titles in tennis.

She, like the majority of tennis players, has long desired to win Wimbledon, and the previous year, she set her phone’s lock screen to a picture of the women’s trophy.

In the first set, Jabeur broke a nervous Vondrousova’s serve multiple times. She played tight from the outset yet held a 4-2 lead in the main set when she started to unwind, sending forehands into the net and drifting strikes past the gauge.

Jabeur lost her serve to begin the second set and was down a set before she knew it. As far as concerns her, Vondrousova was doing all she expected to, keeping the ball in play, whipping her twisting, turning shots that were so not quite the same as the power which Jabeur had looked in her new matches.

Jabeur regained her composure and even took a 3-1 lead in the second set, but she was unable to recover, was unable to locate the court, and threw too many shots into the middle of the net. Five of her last six games were defeats.

Vondrousova at long last finished Jabeur’s horrendous evening with a running strike volley out of the shadows court, and one more lady from Czech Republic was the Wimbledon champion, staggering anybody who could have imagined that situation however only not with Vondrousova in the featuring job.

“My mentor let me know after the last, he was like, ‘I was unable to accept how quiet you are,'” Vondrousova said. ” That was the title’s primary key.

Jabeur, who is known as the “Minister of Happiness” due to her almost always upbeat demeanor, removed her bandana from her head as the ball twice bounced far out of her reach. She then began her slow, sad, and becoming more and more familiar plod toward the net.

Vondrousova arrived a little behind schedule. At the end of the final point, she had collapsed on the grass. She got up to give Jabeur a hug, but she was soon back in the middle of the court, kneeling, trying to figure out how she had done this unlikely run. Jabeur sat in her seat and cleaned away tears.

There were seriously during the prize service, as Jabeur held the second place platter in one hand and covered her eyes and her nose with the other.

She said, “This is the most painful loss of my career,” before attempting to channel some positive energy.

“I won’t surrender, and I will return more grounded,” she let a group know that was at long last ready to thunder for her the manner in which it had been needing to throughout the evening.

For Vondrousova and Czech tennis, the festivals were simply starting. The Czech Republic, with a populace of generally 10.5 million individuals, has turned into a ladies’ tennis production line dissimilar to anything that exists in the game. There are eight Czech ladies in the best 50, the majority of them, as Vondrousova, in their mid-twenties and more youthful.

At the point when the competition started, Petra Kvitova, positioned tenth on the planet, seemed like the most probable Czech finalist. A double cross Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, Kvitova had won a grass court competition in Berlin only weeks prior.

There were really during the prize service, as Jabeur held the second place platter in one hand and covered her eyes and her nose with the other.

She said, “This is the most painful loss of my career,” before attempting to channel some positive energy.

“I won’t surrender, and I will return more grounded,” she let a group know that was at long last ready to thunder for her the manner in which it had been needing to throughout the evening.

For Vondrousova and Czech tennis, the festivals were simply starting. With roughly 10.5 million people, the Czech Republic has transformed into a women’s tennis manufacturing facility unlike any other in the sport. There are eight Czech women in the top 50, most of whom are in their mid-20s or younger, like Vondrousova.

Petra Kvitova, ranked 10th worldwide, appeared to be the most likely Czech finalist when the tournament began. A double cross Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, Kvitova had won a grass court competition in Berlin only weeks prior.

Watching Muchova had enlivened Vondrousova, who had made the French Open last in 2019 when she was only 19-years of age. Muchova’s profession had likewise gotten derailed wounds yet there she was playing on one of the game’s greatest stages.

Like Muchova, Vondrousova didn’t be aware at first whether specialists would have the option to take care of her wrist issue. The injury sidelined her for a drawn out period, and Simek said it caused her to see the value in tennis more.

“You can’t play, play tennis as work, you need to appreciate it, you need to adore it,” Simek said. ” She truly appreciates it and she adores the game. She even enjoys watching the game, something that I don’t think many players do.

Vondrousova began a steady march through seven opponents at Wimbledon, including five seeded players and several known for their grass-court prowess, such as Jabeur. Muchova lost in the first round, but Vondrousova won the rest of the tournament. Jessica Pegula had a game point and a 4-1 lead in the final set in the quarterfinals, but Vondrousova came back and won the final five games.

Then, at that point, came her last two matches against rivals playing for purposes a lot bigger than themselves, a weight that can both stimulate and engage yet in addition debilitate and trouble a player.

Svitolina and Jabeur came to Centre Court tight and flat against Vondrousova, shadows of the players who had thrilled crowds and promised a comeback that would be talked about for years, if not decades. On the opposite side of the net was Vondrousova, a player most popular for the body workmanship on her arms, who had made a wagered with her mentor, Jan Mertl, a previous Czech player, that assuming she won a Huge homerun he would get a tattoo to honor the victory. Holding her victor’s platter, Vondrousova said they would head the tattoo parlor on Sunday.

Ayush Enters the Most Prestigious “Eagle Scout Court of Honor”

Ayush Puthyavettle, who graduated from Trumbull high School, Trumbull Connecticut earlier this month, was accorded the highest rank in Scouts, The Eagle Scout of Honor during a solemn ceremony held at the Old Mine Park in Trumbull, CT on June 17th, 2023.

Attended by Scout leaders from across the state, Ayush, the older son of Ajit and Deepa, long time residents of Trumbull, has accomplished this milestone after 10 years of hard work and dedication.

An Eagle Scout rank is the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America Program. It represents a significant milestone in a student’s Scout journey. “Today’s celebration is to recognize and celebrate Ayush, my brother, who has earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in Scouting,” said Tejas, the younger brother of Ayush, who was the emcee for the day.

In his greetings, State Assemblyman David Rutigliano, who had come in person to be part of the ceremony lauded the efforts and hardwork that have enabled Ayush to reach this milestone. Rep. Rutigliano encouraged Ayush have the values and lessons learnt over the course of his association with the Scout to stay with and be inspired for the rest of his life.

Describing it as “a significant milestone in my life as I stand before you as an Eagle Scout,” Ayush took the audience back his ten-year Scouting journey, stating “I am filled with gratitude, pride, and a sense of accomplishment. From my early days as a Cub Scout to now achieving the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, it has been a remarkable journey of growth, learning, and self-discovery.”

Ayush said, Scouting has taught him invaluable skills that go beyond building fires, navigating the wilderness, constructing shelters, and most importantly, “It has taught me how to adapt and make the best of any situation. I have learned the importance of teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. Through Scouting, I have grown both as an individual and as a member of my community.”

During his 10 years at the Scout, he was assigned with leading a group, organizing food drives, weathering extreme conditions, and embarking on challenging hikes. Ayush told the audience. He was part of “impactful service projects, such as leading a landscaping initiative at our local temple. Each experience has taught me not only practical skills but also the true extent of my capabilities.”

While thanking his mentors in Scout who have helped Ayush “instil in me the values through Scouting that will remain constant. The attitude to face challenges head-on, always being prepared, is a principle that will forever stick with me. No matter where life takes me, I will strive to embody the Scout motto: ‘Be prepared,’” Ayush said.

Describing the benefits of being part of the Scout, Ayush said, “Scouting has shaped me in ways that extend far beyond the badge on my chest. It has built a strong foundation of life skills, leadership qualities, and cherished memories. The values I have learned, the friendships I have formed, and the experiences I have had will forever remain etched in my heart.”

Ayush expressed his gratitude to his “parents, who have been my unwavering support system and the driving force behind my Scouting journey. Their love, encouragement, and belief in me have propelled me through the struggles and challenges along the way.”

He was grateful to “the Scout adults and leaders, for your guidance, mentorship, and for being the role models that have inspired me to reach for the stars. Your dedication to Scouting and commitment to helping young individuals like myself is truly remarkable.”

Ayush expressed gratitude to Mr. JC Cinelli, his Scoutmaster; Mr. Spalla, his mentor and guide; Mr. Selva, his mentor; Mr. and Mrs. Gombos, his den leaders; Ms. Crudale, his school  teacher; Mr. Fischer, his former boss at Mathnasium; and Mr. Abrahamson, his first Scoutmaster “for introducing me to the wonders of Scouting and inspiring me to embrace its values and opportunities.”

“As I embark on new journeys and embrace the ever-changing ambitions of life, the spirit of Scouting will remain within me,” Ayush promised. “The values, skills, and experiences gained throughout my Scouting journey will guide me in facing challenges, leading with integrity, and striving to be physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”

Sania Mirza Is Sony Sports’ New Ambassador

Mirza will feature in the live coverage of Roland Garros 2023 on Sony Sports Ten channels starting from May 28, 2023.
Sports broadcaster Sony Sports Network has appointed Indian Tennis legend Sania Mirza as the Tennis Ambassador of its network. In the new role, Mirza will be seen as an expert panellist on the the network’s Home of Tennis, during which she will present Roland Garros, Clay that Slays, and the three Grand Slams (the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, US Open), to Indian audiences.
“Following an illustrious career, where the fans saw her serving up aces on tennis courts, Sania Mirza will now also serve up expert insights off the court on Sony Sports Network’s Extraaa Serve,” the news release said. The Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Awardee will feature in the live coverage of Roland Garros 2023 on Sony Sports Ten channels starting from May 28, 2023.
Commenting on the association, the 36-year-old said, “I am very excited to be a part of the Tennis Broadcast with Sony Sports Network post my recent retirement. With a strong portfolio of three of the four Grand Slams, Sony Sports Network is the home of tennis in India. It feels great to be part of the network’s commitment to bringing the best tennis content to viewers in India.”
Rajesh Kaul, chief revenue officer of Sony Pictures Networks India, believes that the association will enhance the viewing experience of tennis fans in India. “We truly believe that Sania Mirza’s expertise and passion for tennis will be a great addition to our team, and we are thrilled to have her as the Tennis Ambassador for Sony Sports Network,” Kaul added.
Sania Mirza, an iconic figure in Indian tennis, boasts an illustrious career with six Grand Slam titles, including three women’s doubles and three mixed doubles titles. With victories at the Australian Open, US Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon, she stands as one of the most successful tennis players in Indian history. As the recipient of prestigious accolades such as the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award, and Padma Bhushan, Mirza brings a wealth of experience and recognition to her role as the Tennis Ambassador for Sony Sports Network.
Sony Sports Network solidifies its position as the Home of Tennis in India, offering coverage of three out of the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland-Garros, and the US Open. In addition to the Grand Slams, the network also broadcasts the Davis Cup, ensuring comprehensive coverage of major tennis events. By partnering with Sania Mirza, Sony Sports Network aims to deliver unparalleled tennis content and engage a wider audience of tennis enthusiasts.
Sania Mirza’s appointment as the Tennis Ambassador for Sony Sports Network highlights the network’s commitment to providing exceptional tennis coverage in India. Through its Home of Tennis campaign and exclusive partnerships with Grand Slam tournaments, Sony Sports Network offers an immersive viewing experience.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni: The Age-Defying Legend Reinventing His Game and Inspiring IPL Glory

Four years after stepping away from international cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has impressively reinvented himself as a powerful lower-order batsman for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Sports journalist Suresh Menon ponders the extraordinary transformation of the 41-year-old cricket icon.

When this IPL season concludes, it might be worth considering naming the trophy after someone who truly embodies the spirit and significance of the tournament – none other than Dhoni. As a perpetual face of the IPL, the “MS Dhoni Trophy” has an appealing sound.

In the first edition of the IPL in 2008, Dhoni was the highest-priced player, and 15 years later, he remains CSK’s most valuable asset. His presence encapsulates the very best and most thrilling aspects of the T20 franchise tournament.

Even among Chennai’s revered film stars and politicians, Dhoni holds a unique place during IPL season. The bond between CSK and its fans is exceptional, with Dhoni serving as the embodiment of the team. As a gifted six-hitter and skilled leader, he ensures no match is lost as long as he’s on the field.

Since the IPL’s inception in 2008, Dhoni has guided CSK to four victories. Every year since his international retirement, questions about him leaving cricket altogether have arisen. However, Dhoni remains focused on leading CSK to another title, potentially matching the Mumbai Indians’ record of five championships.

Dhoni’s originality as a captain and mentor to young players is still evident in the IPL. As he approaches 42, his leadership alone justifies his place on the team.

Dhoni once said that he desired a team willing to give their all when it mattered most, and he has found that in CSK. Despite carrying a knee injury this year, Dhoni has opted to bat at No. 8, telling his teammates, “Don’t make me run a lot.” His role, he explained, is “to bat at the death and hit out.”

Dhoni’s current strike rate in the IPL is 204, with 96 runs from just 47 balls and a six every 4.7 deliveries. His arrival at the crease as a No. 8 batsman generates immense anticipation.

His teammate Ravindra Jadeja admits to not being eager to enter at No.7, as the crowd often chants “Dhoni, Dhoni” in hopes of witnessing another wicket fall.

Dhoni’s reinvention holds lessons for players who bat below No.3 and for older batters. In T20 cricket, making an impact through big hits is essential. Dhoni demonstrates that a 20 off nine balls is more valuable than a 50 off 70.

Maintaining the fitness and passion to play T20 at 41 requires self-awareness and humility, qualities Dhoni has consistently displayed. He recognizes that the days of scoring big hundreds and fifties may be behind him, and there’s no sense trying to relive past glories.

Dhoni’s future in the IPL remains uncertain, but naming the trophy after him would be a fitting tribute. After all, it was his team that secured India’s victory in the 2007 World Cup, paving the way for the IPL’s inception.

Messi’s Saudi Arabia Adventure Raises Eyebrows Ahead Of 2030 World Cup

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has suspended superstar Lionel Messi for two weeks and intends to dock his pay following his decision to fly to Saudi Arabia to attend promotional events for Visit Saudi, his personal sponsor. Messi’s absence from PSG’s upcoming matches could compromise the club’s chances of securing what would be a historic 11th Ligue 1 title, as they are only five points ahead of the team in second place, Marseille, with five matches left to play. As senior officials at PSG have stated, the club intends to create a culture focused on a collective brand rather than on individual stars.

This point is particularly relevant to PSG, which has previously been accused of having a “team of superstars” rather than a true team working together. Hence, this suspension is the club’s way of drawing a line and setting the record straight. PSG’s President, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who leads Qatar Sports Investments, is determined to establish a new culture of team spirit at the club.

While PSG’s decision to suspend Messi is a brave one, it could cost them his services in the future. Despite being on a two-year deal, it’s likely that Messi will leave PSG this summer, with rumours of possible moves to Saudi Arabia, Inter Miami, or even back to Barcelona.

This incident comes in the months following Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup and this year’s world cup which saw Messi finally lift the trophy he had been chasing for so long. In contrast, Saudi Arabia hosted some of Messi’s promotional events. However, Qatar and Saudi Arabia may face a different type of battle: hosting the 2030 World Cup.

Picture :TheUNN

The bidding process for hosting the 2030 World Cup began in June this year, and the winner will be announced at the 74th FIFA congress in 2024. There are currently four confirmed bids. The first is a joint bid by Spain, Portugal, and Ukraine which was announced in 2022. The second bid is a South American co-production comprised of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile. In March of this year, Morocco replaced Ukraine and joined forces with Spain and Portugal following their semi-final finish at the World Cup. Finally, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Greece are expected to submit a combined bid.

However, Saudi Arabia’s bid may be negatively impacted by Messi’s recent suspension, which could suggest a lack of discipline and possibly affect the country’s ability to host large international tournaments.

“A South American bid for 2030 is very strong,” its co-ordinator Fernando Marin told The Athletic. “The region is a generator of talent that expresses itself all over the world. Additionally, on the 100th anniversary of the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, it would be a fitting location.”

Lionel Messi’s recent agreement to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia could possibly hinder South America’s joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup. Messi became an ambassador for “Vision 2030” last year, which according to the government is a “unique transformative economic and social reform blueprint that is opening Saudi Arabia up to the world”. As hosting the World Cup is linked to promoting tourism, it is speculated that Saudi Arabia’s bid for the tournament is connected to their overall vision. Saudi Arabia has been making efforts to improve its reputation globally by making it more attractive for foreign investors. Some of these include acquiring the English Premier League club Newcastle United, backing the LIV Golf breakaway tour, a 10-year, $650million deal to host Formula One races, and hosting the 2019 heavyweight boxing match between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz.

Messi signed the agreement with Saudi Arabia last year, and its terms and length have not been disclosed. Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly rejected a promotional offer worth over £5million per year to promote Saudi tourism. However, sources familiar with ambassadorial roles in the Gulf region claimed that Messi’s deal may be worth five times Ronaldo’s annual fee. Representatives for Messi declined to disclose the figures involved, and the Saudi government did not respond to requests for comment.

The joint bid between Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile for the 2030 World Cup was first introduced in 2017, where Messi and Luis Suarez of Barcelona teamed up to promote their countries. While Messi initially expressed great interest in supporting the bid, his role as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is raising concerns that it could impact South America’s chances of hosting the tournament.

The bid itself has been seen as a symbolic one, as the inaugural World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930, with Argentina finishing runners-up in that tournament. However, it has also been received with mixed reviews due to political tensions between Chile and Argentina that emerged from the Falklands War. The bid is also in competition with the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Morocco for the hosting rights.

Messi’s ambassadorial role in Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has raised questions due to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record which includes the imprisonment of activists and financing of international terrorism. Since Saudi Arabia is considered a controversial destination for sports teams and fans due to these issues, Messi’s agreement has been met with criticism from fans and human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

The relationship between Messi’s role in Saudi Arabia and the 2030 World Cup bid remains uncertain. While there is some concern that Messi’s Saudi ties could harm the South American joint bid, there has been no official statement from the Argentina Football Association or Messi himself on the matter. For many fans, the priority remains on the ethics of Messi’s association with Saudi Arabia and the impact it could have on promoting tourism in a country with a questionable human rights record.

“This is not his first visit to the kingdom and it will not be the last,” said Ahmed al-Khateeb, the Saudi minister of tourism, in a tweet that showed Messi’s welcome at King Abdulaziz International Airport.

“Discovering the Red Sea #VisitSaudi,” read the caption on Instagram, where Messi has over 370 million followers. The post was labelled as a “paid partnership” with Visit Saudi, which is a subsidiary company of the Saudi Tourism Authority.

Messi later joined Princess Haifa Al-Saud, assistant minister of tourism, on a tour of old Jeddah. “I am glad that he was mesmerized by its essence, heritage and beauty,” Princess Haifa said on Twitter.

Amidst a great number of scandals concerning the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lionel Messi has taken  a role in promoting their country as a tourist destination. The page now on the Visit Saudi website featuring Messi urges people to “unleash their inner thrill-seeker” and take part in all that the nation has to offer. Whilst his representatives have been tight-lipped about how regularly he will visit or if this partnership will clash with his home country’s efforts to host a World Cup in 2030 – the potential conflict of interests between him and UNICEF remain unclear.

The region is reportedly backed by ample resources which may aid in staging the global sporting event nine years from now should they choose to pursue their bid; however, there are worries that Morocco’s involvement with Spain/Portugal’s joint bid may steal away votes from Middle Eastern/North African countries who may have otherwise supported them, thus making it more likely for them to wait for 2034. Coupled with this, FIFA pulled out of sponsoring Visit Saudi for the Women’s World Cup following protests by many nations – though Messi’s mission remains vital. When asked about Neymar Jr.’s agreement to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia despite any alleged human rights violations, his team were not available for comment.

As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 2010, it raises suspicion as to whether his connection with such a state could go against his position. For example, UNICEF reported in 2021 that over 10,000 children had suffered death due to Saudi-led conflicts in nearby Yemen – but neither NEYMAR JR., UNICEF nor any other associated parties responded when asked about this apparent dilemma. Regardless of these issues, Neymar Jr.’s involvement is expectedly driven by immense financial gain – having earned an estimated $120million during 2020 according to Forbes Magazine alone – through partnerships such as one with Cryptofan Token Firm Socios ($20million deal), NFT-based game Sorare and much more besides Adidas, Pepsi, Budweiser and Ooredoo. Clearly there exists an ever growing tension between how much our most influential figures are willing to be used and what degree we are prepared accept them being sponsored/associated with depending on its negative influences – if any exist at all.

Therefore one can assume it may only get harder for Messi and other celebrities like him to make decisions and form relationships without coming under scrutiny from those around them.

Vedant, Actor Madhavan’s Son Bags 5 Gold Medals

Indian Actor R Madhavan’s son Vedaant participated in the 58th MILO/MAS Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championships and has won five gold medals for India. Madhavan expressed delight in sharing the news about his son’s victory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “Elated and very grateful,” Madhavan shared on Twitter.

According to the tweet, Vedaant participated in the 58th MILO/MAS Malaysia Invitational Age Group Swimming Championships. Photos shared on social media also feature Madhavan’s wife Sarita Birje with Vedaant.

Vedaant has also gained recognition at the Khelo India 2023 tournament. He represented team Maharashtra and won five gold medals in the 100m, 200m, and 150m events, as well as two silver medals in the 400m and 800m events. Madhavan shared the news in February on social media.

The 17-year-old, born in 2005, won his first international title in the form of a bronze medal at the Latvia Open in March 2021 and then bagged seven medals (four silver and three bronze) at the Junior National Aquatic Championships in the same year. He then bagged a gold medal at the Danish Open swimming event in April 2022. He moved to Dubai for a six-months swimming training in 2021. He has also won the 48th Junior National Aquatics Championships.

Vedaant received greetings from the film and sports fraternity to which Madhavan responded. Legendary cricketer Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar said, “This is the start of a beautiful journey.”

Music Mozart A R Rahman appreciated the parents and said, “Credits to you and your wife for the sacrifice and right decisions taken to nurture him.” Actor Abhishek Bachchan congratulated Vedaant on Twitter.

Arjun Tendulkar Makes IPL Debut

Arjun Tendulkar, son of the legendary Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 16, 2023. He was bowling for Mumbai Indians, the team once captained by his father. The Tendulkars became the first father-son duo to play in IPL, which started in 2008.

The 23-year-old left-hander was given the new ball in the match against the Kolkata Knight Riders at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. Arjun went wicketless in his two over spell, giving away 17 runs.

After the match, Sachin penned an emotional note on social media marking his son’s debut. “Arjun, today you have taken another important step in your journey as a cricketer. As your father, someone who loves you and is passionate about the game, I know you will continue to give the game the respect it deserves and the game will love you back,” he wrote on Twitter.

“You have worked very hard to reach here, and I am sure you will continue to do so. This is the start of a beautiful journey. All the best!,” hiz tweet further read.

Junior Tendulkar made his national team debut for the U19 side in 2018. In a Test series against Sri Lanka, he picked up his first wicket for the national team. He played his first domestic T20 match for the Mumbai team during the 2020/21 Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy.

USA, UAE Qualify For The 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier

The United States of America (USA) and United Arab Emirates (UAE) have qualified for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier after finishing in the top two places of the six-team ICC Mens Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-off in Namibia.

USA finished on top of the table with four wins from five matches, ahead of the UAE on head-to-head, who scored a final-day win over Jersey to level with the USA on points. Hosts Namibia and Canada put in some strong performances but fell just short of progressing with three wins each from their five games.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to progress to the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe, even though we see this as a big accomplishment for USA Cricket, we the players also know that it’s going to require lots of improvements for us to compete with the bigger teams.

The players and support staff has worked tirelessly prior and during this event, and the hard work paid off. As I said prior to the play-offs, we have an opportunity to play in two World Cups in less than twelve months, and this group continues to believe and work towards that goal,” USA captain Monank Patel was quoted as saying by the ICC.

The USA and UAE will now be vying with eight other teams during the qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe for two places in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup to be held in India in October-November.

In the qualifying tournament, the three automatic qualifiers from ICC CWC League 2 — Scotland, Oman and Nepal will be present in addition to the bottom five-placed teams in the ICC ODI Super League.

Currently, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies are confirmed to feature at the Qualifier in Zimbabwe, while Ireland must beat Bangladesh 3-0 in their upcoming Super League series to leapfrog South Africa and gain direct entry to the World Cup.

“We are absolutely delighted to confirm our spot for the qualifiers in Zimbabwe. Heading into the tournament in Namibia, we had a clear objective of delivering our best and playing positive and fearless cricket. I want to thank the players and our entire support staff for their untiring efforts that have resulted in our success.

Our batters have been exceptional for us recently and the bowlers and fielders have backed them up really well. The entire team needs to perform at the same level and display the same commitment and passion for us to excel in Zimbabwe,” said Mohammad Waseem, UAE captain.

Namibia’s Gerhard Erasmus was named Player of the Tournament in the qualifier play-off, with 279 runs in five games at an average of 69.75. USA’s Ali Khan topped the wicket charts with 16 wickets at an average of 12.37. (IANS)

Lionel Messi Makes History Hitting 100 International Goals

Argentina captain Lionel Messi passed 100 international goals as he scored his seventh international hat-trick in a friendly win at home to Curacao.

The 35-year-old forward reached the landmark when he opened the scoring on 20 minutes in Santiago del Estero.

He added two more before the break to complete a quickfire treble.

Chelsea midfielder Enzo Fernandez also scored, before Argentina paraded the World Cup trophy in front of more than 42,000 supporters.

It was Argentina’s second match on home soil since beating France in Qatar on penalties in December to win the World Cup.

Picture : Arab News

Messi scored his 800th career goal – and 99th for Argentina – in a 2-0 win over Panama in Buenos Aires last week as part of the team’s World Cup homecoming tour.

The Paris St-Germain striker reached three figures for his country when he took a pass from Villarreal’s on-loan Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Giovani lo Celso and fired a low shot into the bottom corner.

Three minutes later Nicolas Gonzalez outjumped goalkeeper Eloy Room to head home from four yards before the Fiorentina winger set up Messi for his second of the night.

Fernandez made it 4-0 with a shot from distance before Lo Celso released Messi to notch his third in just the 37th minute.

Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Montiel rounded off the scoring in the second half but the night belonged to Messi, who extended his record as Argentina’s all-time record scorer – Gabriel Batistuta is a distant second on 56.

He remains third on the men’s all-time international scoring list behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo (122) and Iran’s Ali Daei (109).

Nikhat Zareen Wins 2nd World Title In Boxing

It was the culmination of an arduous tournament in which she had to overcome as many as six challengers owing to her unseeded status.

Teary eyes and a roar towards the camera — Nikhat Zareen went through the full wringer of emotions after a closely-fought gold-medal match that saw her emerging as World Champion for the second straight year. It was the culmination of an arduous tournament in which she had to overcome as many as six challengers owing to her unseeded status.

Winning back-to-back golds at the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships was a feat achieved only by the legendary Mary Kom. At just 26 years, Nikhat is slowly filling those giant shoes. The crowd-favourite beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam 5-0 at a packed KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi on Sunday. But the unanimous decision was no reflection of how close the bout was.

“It’s a special day, a second World Championship gold, that too in a new weight category. Today’s bout was my toughest so far, facing an Asian champion. The next target is the Asian Games, so to win against her, in the first big championships since changing categories… The strategy was to use all the energy I had left, despite a tough tournament, and I threw everything at it,” said Nikhat after the match.

Shortly after Nikhat’s bout, Lovlina Borgohain won a contentious 5-2 decision against Australia’s Caitlin Parker to claim her first ever Women’s World Boxing Championship gold medal. The middleweight Assam boxer was awarded the fight 3-2 in a split decision. She then got two points from the evaluator and the observer under IBA’s new bout review system.

These two wins capped a dream weekend for Indian boxing after the two gold medals on Saturday.

It was a change in weight category, from 52 kg to 50 kg, that had left Nikhat unseeded at these World Championships. In her six gruelling, physically taxing bouts, she spent a cumulative 45 minutes ducking, weaving and charting a path over the roughest of seas to get her second World Championship gold.

In all these bouts, Nikhat was rarely allowed to play her natural game. She needed to think on her feet, change strategy and innovate. A mid-range boxer, she has the ability to stay just beyond the reach of her opponent, while being close enough to avoid an attack and then land a punch of her own. It’s that unique ability, mastered over years of practice with multiple international coaches, that has resulted in her becoming one of India’s top boxers.

“I think it’s because she’s got so much confidence in her own abilities. She actually enjoys boxing. She actually enjoys the challenge of having that combat,” said John Warburton, the boxing head of Inspire Institute of Sport and one of the international coaches who worked with Nikhat recently. “The way she’s fighting, she’s making a statement. ‘I can beat you in any way I want to beat you. I can beat you at long range, I can brawl with you and beat you’, and that’s her mindset,” he told The Indian Express.

Nikhat’s boxing journey came into prominence when she won the gold medal at the 2011 Youth World Boxing Championships. The Nizamabad native has now added the World Championship medals as well as the 2022 Commonwealth gold to that initial spark. Her next stop: the Asian Games in Hangzhou. And if the same performances continue: the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

It is a target that has been part of her life since the day she won her Youth World Championship medal. Early in her career, Nikhat had been under the towering shadow of Mary Kom. She has had her own fair share of battles against the celebrated Manipuri boxer, most notably before the last Olympics where she demanded a trial and lost. With Mary Kom’s age ruling her out of the next Olympics, Nikhat has positioned herself to finally take over that weight category.

While still bitter about missing out previously, her father Mohammad Jameel Ahmed feels that it was just a matter of time: “She has missed out on two Olympics at the peak of her career. Not just as a father, as a mentor and as someone who plans her career, it was disappointing for me to see things go this way. But there was nothing we could do except focus on the next target. Upar wala likhega, toh bilkul aayega. Hum toh chhodne wale nahi hai (If god wills, our time will come. But we won’t stop trying),” he said.

Sunday’s bout was among the toughest Nikhat faced at this competition. Her Vietnamese opponent, taller and longer in range, won the second round and almost seemed to have taken the third. But the judges scored all rounds in favour of the Indian.

Warburton thinks her abilities are special, and now with an Olympic weight category solely hers, she just has to continue boxing in the same vein as she has been doing over the last couple of years.

“She’s going to be World Champion two years running. She will likely be the Asian Champion. She will qualify for the Olympics, and in my opinion, she will win gold. I’ve worked with lots of people who have won Olympic medals, gold medallists, silvers, bronzes and World medallists. She has all the same characteristics that they have. The attitude, the willpower, and the technical and tactical abilities — she’s got the lot,” said Warburton.

As for Lovlina, luck may have played its part in her bout. The judges scored the contest in her favor and so did the evaluator and observer, despite a shaky performance and an especially poor third round.

She recently made the move to the 75-kg weight category as her previous weight was not a part of the 2024 Paris Olympics boxing programme. Before this win, her trophy cabinet was adorned with two World Championship bronze medals and an Olympic bronze, all in the 69-kg category.

Speaking about her gold later, she said: “I was a little stressed before the final. I tried to play how the coaches asked me to play. It wasn’t a complete success but I thought it was 90 per cent successful. It feels very good to win a gold medal and become a champion.”

India, Australia To Meet In World Test Championship Final

India secured a 2-1 series win over Australia after the fourth Test petered out into a draw last week in Ahmedabad, India. The tourists batted throughout day five in Ahmedabad and declared on 175-2 with a lead of 84 before the teams shook hands.

India secured their place in the World Test Championship final after Sri Lanka’s earlier final-ball defeat by New Zealand. They will play Australia for the Test title at The Oval on 7-11 June.

India’s place in the World Test Championship final against Australia is locked in after New Zealand ended Sri Lanka’s slim hopes of reaching the decider.

Sri Lanka needed to win their series in New Zealand 2-0 and rely on India not winning their fourth and final Test against Australia in Ahmedabad.But a classic knock of 121 not out from Black Caps star Kane Williamson steered New Zealand to a thrilling two-wicket win against Sri Lanka on the final ball of the match in Christchurch.

Australia started the day trailing by 91 runs on first innings after India amassed 571, with Virat Kohli scoring a majestic 186.  But Australia’s batters defied India on a flat wicket as Marnus Labuschagne finished unbeaten with a gritty 63 from 213 balls.

Earlier, opener Travis Head made 90 from 163 balls in a partnership of 139 for the second wicket with Labuschagne. Nightwatchman Matthew Kuhnemann was the first wicket to fall for six to Ravichandran Ashwin, with spinners bowling the majority of the overs in batter-friendly conditions.

It was India’s 16th consecutive series win at home, and will be their second appearance in the World Test Championship final after they lost to New Zealand in the previous final in 2021.

Australia’s place was confirmed after their victory over India in the third Test in Indore, but India were still battling with Sri Lanka for the second spot.

With India avoiding defeat, it means Sri Lanka can no longer qualify even if they beat New Zealand in the second Test of their series, which starts on Friday.

The draw also ensured India won the Border-Gavaskar trophy for the fourth successive time. India will next face Australia in three one-day internationals, with the first on Friday. India and Australia will meet in the second WTC final at The Oval in London, starting on 7 June.

Virat Kohli Joins Tendulkar, Sehwag With First Fifty After Longest Wait

Virat Kohli finally put an end to his run-drought in Test cricket by hitting his first half-century in red-ball cricket in 16 innings – the longest for him without a Test fifty. Kohli did that on Day 3 of the India vs Australia fourth and final Test in Ahmedabad. In the process, Kohli also became the fifth Indian to reach 4000 Test runs at home, joining an illustrious list headed by Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag.

Virat Kohli now has more than 4000 Test runs in India at an average of 58.82. This is the best among batters who have scored more than 4000 Test runs in India.

Picture : HindustanTimes

Kohli is the third fastest to reach 4000 Test runs in India. Kohli did it in his 77th innings in India. He went past current India head coach Rahul Dravid (88) and the legendary Sunil Gavaskar (87). Kohli needed 42 runs to reach the milestone and he got there in the final session on Saturday with a boundary off Nathan Lyon.

A few minutes later, Kohli also reached his fifty. This was his first Test fifty in close to 14 months. The last time he had reached half a ton was back in January, 2022 against South Africa.

Kohli now has more than 4000 Test runs in India at an average of 58.82. This is the best among batters who have scored more than 4000 Test runs in India.

Sehwag is the fastest to reach 4000 Tests in India in just 71 innings. At No.2 is Tendulkar in 78 innings. The little master, however, sits on top among the highest run-scorers in Tests in India with 7216 runs in 153 innings. He is followed by Dravid (5598), Gavaskar (5067) and Sehwag (4656).

Kohli came to the crease after India lost Cheteshwar Pujara just at the stroke of Tea on Day 2. India were in a good position but they were still a long way behind Australia’s first innings total of 480. India needed Kohli to stand up and put another noteworthy stand with Shubman Gill, who had just reached his century.

The former captain had a few nervous moments before the Tea break against Nathan Lyon. He got beaten once and got an outside edge that thankfully did not carry to Steve Smith at first slip. But Ahmedabad saw a different Kohli in the last session. He was confident and assured.

He made good use of the best pitch of the series and slowly started to make the scoreboard ticking. He put up a 58-run stand with Gill before the latter was dismissed for a well made 128.

Ravindra Jadeja then joined hands with Kohli and the two made sure there was no further damage. Kohli was unbeaten on 59 and Jadeja was batting on 16 when stumps was called on Day 2 with India at 289/3, trailing Australia by 191 runs.

Cricket Hall Of Fame Launches Council To Generate Interest In Cricket

In a development that will help the game of cricket reach the next level in the USA, Cricket Hall of Fame (CHoF) announced their acquisition of the team dedicated to cricket education in the country, the American Cricket Education Council (ACEC).

The first cricket game in the USA was played in 1845 but it has missed adequate and organic education programs with qualified and knowledgeable people to sustain the growth and development of the game here, said a release issued by CHoF.

The ACEC is an important step in making a difference in educational institutions with proper coursework to start or expand programs at schools and colleges.

ACEC is prepared to begin programs with the 2023-24 academic year in the USA through CricEdu.com. The link will also be accessible under Crickethof.org.

Picture : TheUNN

Commenting on the development, CHoF Executive Director, Mr Michael Chambers said, “In an important addition to support our mission and vision to ‘Educate Americans for Cricket’ CHoF has launched the American Cricket Education Council (ACEC) and it supersedes USA Center for Excellence in Cricket (USACEC) which has been around since 2008. Our Hall of Fame members and supporters will offer their time and expertise as key investments to promote and support cricket in western part of the world (Americas).”

The Cricket Hall of Fame (CHoF), first in the world established in 1981 is a non-profit organization dedicated to cost-sharing development of and meaningful support for our heroes (Honorees and Inductees) who have contributed to the game of cricket over the years, from maintaining the grounds to advancing trusted community engagement, and who in the true spirit of the game have also been engaged in quality of life development activities that their local urban or rural communities view as important and sustainable.

CHoF Board Director and Visionary, Mr Jatin Patel said, “Our credentialing is to combine resources, expertise, and infrastructure to empower scholastic cricket to educators and faculty members at colleges / Universities with enhanced resources and professional development opportunities and strengthen the future of the cricket coaches’ / educators and institutional instructors. Our Apex Panel members work in a variety of settings and carry vast experience with expertise in the US education & sports system and field of cricket. CHoF will connect to its vast network of legends and Cricket Hall of Fame inductees, including professionals in all these settings.”

Patel also added that rapid changes in the sport of cricket demands that instructors frequently update and enhance training skills to keep pace with their expanding role and increased responsibility with regards to legal requirements in the USA & to meet sports culture.

“ACEC advocates for rigorous education and training to prepare coaches or instructors at schools and colleges / universities within the USA education and sports system to adhere to best professional practices and promote cricket education in the academic profession through professional activities. Apex panel will lead and manage the programs with plans to expand the team to include other expertise who carry common values to support our vision and mission,” said Patel.

Sania Mirza Draws Curtain On Her Glorious Career

Tributes poured in for the former doubles World No.1 Sania Mirza, one of India’s most celebrated athletes, after she retired from professional tennis at the age of 36, playing her last match in Dubai on Tuesday.

Mirza and her American women’s doubles partner Madison Keys lost their Dubai Tennis Championships 2023 first-round match 4-6, 0-6 to Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova.

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From Mirza’s mixed doubles partner Mahesh Bhupathi, with whom Sania won her first-ever Grand Slam in 2009 (Australian Open), to former India pacer Jhulan Goswami shared their reactions on social media to the Indian tennis icon’s retirement.

Taking to Twitter, Bhupathi took a walk down the memory lane, sharing a picture from their Grand Slam win and said: “Welcome to retirement @MirzaSania you outdid yourself time and time again both on and off the court. Proud of you !!”

Goswami wished Mirza a happy retirement, calling her a role model and inspiration, “End of an era! Today #IndianTennis bids its goodbye to the icon who became a role model and inspiration for millions. Happy retirement @MirzaSania”

“Sania Mirza – An island of hope in a sea of mediocrity … A story of hard work, grit, determination & dedication finally comes to an end. From an emerging Tennis star to one of India’s national sports icons, thank you for all the memories & love…” All India tennis Association tweeted.

Women’s Tennis Association said: “Six-time major champion, Former doubles World No.1 Congrats on a fantastic career”

Former India cricketer Rudra Pratap Singh wrote: “You are one of the finest athletes of this generation and have set a great benchmark so high with your extraordinary performances. Happiest retirement to you!”

Mirza, a six-time Grand Slam winner, has won 44 WTA titles in her career. Her last doubles triumph came at the Ostrava Open2021 in the Czech Republic, where she partnered with China’s Zhang Shuai.

India tennis star wrapped up her legendary Grand slam career as Australian Open mixed doubles runner-up last month. (IANS)

Shubman Gill Slams Makes History With Maiden T20I Century

Shubman Gill, considered as the future of Indian cricket has proved that he does belong to the T20 internationals, scoring his maiden century in the format in the 3rd and final T20I of the series against New Zealand. Gill, who had famously scored a double hundred in the ODIs against the Kiwis earlier, reached the triple-digit score in the shortest format for the first time in his career. Gill completed his century in just 54 balls, becoming the 5th Indian to score a T20I hundred.

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Gill, who ended his innings at 126, has now registered the highest score for an Indian in T20 internationals. Earlier, Virat Kohli held the record for scoring the highest-score for an Indian in T20Is. Kohli had scored an unbeaten 122 against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. Gill surpassed him in the match against the Kiwis.

Gill continued his fine form and showcased his array of shots, hitting the New Zealand bowlers to all parts of the Narendra Modi Stadium to score 126 not out off just 63 balls balls with the help of 12 fours and seven sixes.

But the start was far from rosy for India after electing to bat as Mitchell Santner made a master-stroke decision by handing Michael Bracewell the second over and the off-spinner reposed his captain’s faith by removing an out-of-form Ishan Kishan, who was adjudged LBW with the second ball of the over.

In-form Gill struck two boundaries off Lockie Ferguson in the next over. He was at his ominous best, be it pick up hits, drives or pulls to continue his onslaught.

Gill has been receiving plenty of criticism for his performances in the shortest format for India of late. With someone like Prithvi Shaw waiting on the bench, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir had said that Gill’s “basic game” doesn’t suit the shortest format as much as Shaw’s does.

“I feel Shubman Gill has to get better against spin, on a spinning wicket. He had his struggles against Bangladesh as well. Yes, he has been fabulous in the 50-over format, got good wickets to bat on, with 5 fielders inside, But then, you’ve got to get better when the ball starts spinning, gripping and bouncing as well. He will get tested, not only against seam but spin as well,” Gambhir said on Star Sports.

“He still hasn’t found his feet in T20 format, when it comes to playing international cricket. Sometimes you have to play at a different tempo. His basic game suits 50-over format. Someone like Prithvi Shaw, his basic instinctive game is made for T20 cricket. Shubman Gill is someone whose basic game is made for 50-over format. How quickly he learns and adapts to this format will decide whether he will be able to play all the three formats,” Gambhir asserted. However, with his performance against New Zealand in Ahmedabad, Gill has proved that can be a superstar in the shortest format too.

Sania Mirza Ends Her Grand Slam Career With 6 Titles

“I never thought I’d be able to play in front of my child in a Grand Slam final, so it’s truly special for me.”

Sania Mirza’s final Grand Slam match ended with the runner-up plate but this line from her emotional post-match speech signifies the magnitude of her journey, and her achievement today, despite the loss.

Sania and Rohan Bopanna – still a doubles pair 22 years after they first partnered at the National Championship in India – went down in the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open 6-7(2), 2-6 to the Brazilians Luisa Stefani and Rafael Mataos.

It was a one-sided final for the most part, as the Indians struggled to convert their chances and counter their opponents’ defence. But the story is not just of the loss, it’s also about celebrating how Sania Mirza reiterated how she is a fighter till the end.

At 36 years of age, playing well beyond her original retirement plan in 2022 after yet another injury setback, she somehow gave herself a chance for more silverware on tennis’ biggest stage. This time with her four-year-old son watching, even joining her on court after her last win.

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Her previous Grand Slam final was back in 2017, also the mixed doubles at the Australian Open, which she lost. Her son was born in 2018 and, despite a fairly successful comeback after giving birth, the pandemic disruption and a number of injuries, she never reached another final.

And yet, when the unseeded, all-Indian pair reached the final beating the third seeds it felt like no surprise, and the loss to a younger pair feels like a disappointment.

It truly puts Sania’s tennis career in perspective. Even when she lost the final, she showed once again why she is India’s greatest woman tennis player. That we had the expectation of a fairytale farewell is also down to all the times she has bounced back, on and off court to prove detractors wrong.

It was an emotional final, perhaps the significance of the moment weighing a bit too heavily on the Indians at times as a string of nervy errors showed.

Sania, who said she is not one to cry in public, was visibly emotional after. “If I cry, these are happy tears. That’s just a disclaimer,” she said on court.

“I’m still going to play a couple of more tournaments but my journey of my professional career started in Melbourne. It started in 2005 when I played Serena Williams in the third round as an 18-year-old and that was, scarily enough, 18 years ago. I have had the privilege to come back here again and again, win some tournaments here and play some great finals amongst you all. Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life and I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at in a Grand Slam,” she added.

The Australian Open has indeed been a happy hunting ground for her. She made her Grand Slam debut here and was seeded in the singles main draw for the first time – a massive achievement for an Indian player in singles.

She also played her first Major final (mixed doubles 2008), and won her first Grand Slam (mixed doubles 2009, both with Mahesh Bhupathi) here.

It feels like a full circle, yet it isn’t; Sania has been so much more than her sporting success. One cannot talk about her plethora of tennis achievements – she owns almost every milestone in Indian women’s tennis – without mentioning the off-field barriers she had to overcome.

Sania’s fearlessness kept her unfazed on court when chaos surrounded her. And she had her share of scrutiny, perhaps more than a regular Indian sportswoman, due to her religion, life partner and residence. Yet she kept at it, and brought India its most glorious tennis memories in recent times when the sport has found few silver linings.

The numbers we know – six Grand Slams, singles rank as high as No 27, the doubles No 1 for a total of 91 weeks. But to truly celebrate Sania Mirza is to acknowledge her achievements both on and off court. The teen who fought off fatwas, the 35-year-old who couldn’t lift a water bottle without pain last October due to an elbow injury that ended her planned farewell season, the mother who travelled with her toddler to tournaments. For her last dance, she pushed herself back in shape to retire on court, on her terms. The fighter who pushed boundaries and changed the way Indian tennis and sportswomen are seen.

There are a couple of tournaments still left before her swansong next month in Dubai. Till then, let’s continue to enjoy the Sania Mirza forehands and forthrightness that made her stand out like no other. (The ESPN)

Pelé, Worlds’ Greatest Soccer Legend, Passes Away

Soccer fans worldwide are united in grief after the death of a sports legend who inspired generations. Pelé, the Brazilian soccer icon and the only man to win the World Cup three times, died Thursday at 82. In Brazil, where he played for soccer club Santos, mourners paid tribute to a global star who made the nation synonymous with soccer excellence. Pelé’s hypnotizing moves and creative style transfixed sports fans and revolutionized the game. “How to grieve the passing of a man who, through football, took the name of Brazil to the world?” Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said. Fellow Brazilian soccer star Neymar described Pelé’s moves as art, adding that while he’s gone, his magic will remain. Pelé died from organ failure caused by colon cancer.

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Pelé’s skill and grace on the field was unparalleled, and his goal-scoring prowess earned him a place in history. Sources list his tallies at anywhere between 650 (league matches) and 1,281 (all senior matches, some against low-level competition). His greatest moment on the field was the 1958 World Cup, where he scored two goals in Brazil’s 5-2 win over the host country in the final. He also played a key role in Brazil’s 1970 World Cup victory, scoring in the final and setting up Carlos Alberto with a nonchalant pass for the last goal in a 4-1 victory over Italy.

Pelé’s fame extended well beyond the soccer pitch. He was an ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations, and was a key figure for Black people’s pride in Brazil. In 1997, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his achievements.

Pelé’s legacy will live on forever in the annals of soccer history. He will be remembered as one of the sport’s most beloved and talented athletes, and his name will continue to be mentioned alongside the likes of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo in any conversation about soccer’s greatest players.

On Monday, thousands of mourners gathered in Santos, Brazil to pay their respects to the late soccer legend, Pelé. The funeral was attended by high school students, supreme court justices, and Brazil’s newly inaugurated president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. A Catholic Mass was held at the stadium in honor of Pelé, and a song titled “Eu sou Pelé” (“I am Pelé”) was played.

Geovana Sarmento, 17, and her father attended the funeral wearing a Brazil shirt with Pele’s name. “I am not a Santos fan, neither is my father,” Sarmento said, “But this guy invented Brazil’s national team. He made Santos stronger, he made it big, how could you not respect him? He is one of the greatest people ever, we needed to honor him.”

Pelé was perhaps the world’s most famous athlete in the 1960s and 70s and his legacy lives on today. FIFA President Gianni Infantino asked every country to name a stadium after Pelé, and said “I am here with a lot of emotion, sadness, but also with a smile because he gave us so many smiles.” Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes said that Pelé was a humble man despite his global fame.

Pelé led Brazil to three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and remains one of the team’s all-time leading scorers with 77 goals. Neymar tied Pelé’s record during this year’s World Cup in Qatar. He had undergone treatment for colon cancer since 2021, and passed away due to multiple organ failure as a result of the cancer.

On Monday, Brazil said goodbye to one of its most beloved figures. Thousands of mourners gathered at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos to pay their respects to the late soccer legend, Pelé. High school students, supreme court justices, and Brazil’s newly inaugurated president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attended the funeral, which included a Catholic Mass and a song titled “Eu sou Pelé” (“I am Pelé”).

Pelé was a beloved figure throughout Brazil and the world, credited with putting the country on the world stage for the first time. He led Brazil to three World Cup titles in 1958, 1962 and 1970, and remains one of the team’s all-time leading scorers with 77 goals. Neymar tied Pelé’s record during this year’s World Cup in Qatar. Pelé’s legacy will live on, and his casket will be taken through the streets of Santos before his burial on Tuesday.

The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India

The Series: Part 2

The Wonderful Privilege of Running!

 How wonderful it is to run. Something so simple, the act of putting one foot in front of another, can bestow so much joy. Ask anyone who runs ! They feel only gratitude for all that they achieve, physically and mentally, as a runner.
Running seems to keep reminding them of the many amazing things our body can do and it helps them to appreciate their strength and challenge their limits to overcome weaknesses. Running is a privilege, and is still a niche among
athletes. Many still view it as a highly elusive sport. To help banish the hype behind something as basic as the
joy of running, brought about the concept for a series, on the incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India. Stories of strength and resilience and a show of daily perseverance in face of adversity. Runners are somehow the best people to have in one’s life too. The qualities that define their running also shine a light on the incredible personalities they themselves are in their personal lives too. These athletes are aware that there may be a day when
they won’t be able to continue pursuing this high endurance sport. Everyday, that they feel strong as a runner, they celebrate it !

As you read the stories that outline their running journey you will notice surprisingly consistent similarities in their spirit. Tales that reveal that these athletes may be reaping the benefits from running but their real strength as a
runner lies beyond sheer talent and consistent training. We connected with some of the Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India and asked them to share their running stories of passion and achievement to understand their “Why”. Sit back and enjoy this easy pace journey as we shed light into their journey and reveal the totally relatable
and inspiring top personality traits that these “Everyday Elite’ thrive on.

Everyday Elite: Anoop Sharma

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them”

They say a runner’s grit often comes down to steely inner strength and unshakeable faith. Let us start with the remarkable story of our “Everyday Elite” Anoop Sharma. A Mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur for whom
running is an integral part of life just like breathing or eating. An accomplished runner worth his mettle, he
understands very well that through hard work and focusing on compartmentalising one’s fears, all runners can learn
to remain in the moment. It is his core strength as a runner and one of the reasons why he is an irreplaceable member of his running group.

This Delhi based 51-year old athlete is a father of 2 and recalls how his better half, Kiran, who he calls his pillar of strength, has been his anchor through the various ups and downs of his fitness journey.

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Though it was not always this way for him. Throughout his younger days he played competitive football and kept fit but a subsequent shaky entry into adulthood into busy corporate work culture saw him fall into the unhealthy
trap of bad habits like most professionals at a young age. Popping pills for headaches and acidity and to cope with daily stress had become a norm. It was during such time that his brother a runner, cyclist and shuttler, brought his
attention to his health situation and suggested he start a routine for fitness.On his behest he started running 2-3 kms at his local park and started a regular fitness routine. It was at one such session at the local
park that he had a chance meeting with some dynamic members of the running group Dwarka Xpress runners. At that point he didn’t realise this routine of daily training with a group would be the catalyst that his health required . He soon discovered his innate ability to get into zone while working out and soon his confidence in his ability gained momentum as he started showing up for tough training sessions. This was during the same time when he confidently
signed up to take on the challenging and prestigious Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Now he looks back in amazement as to how seamlessly he completed the half marathon with an impressive debut time. His enduring passion to achieve
his goal, advice from a strong running group and a supportive family had made him an overnight champion within the running community. Since then there has been no looking back for this talented “Everyday Elite”

 

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He has shown that one can become a true champion with training and deliberate practice especially in the
fun company of one’s running buddies. He is a prime example of how by giving one’s best effort each and every time we invariably make our fitness goals achievable. He, of course, manages all of this by staying humble and without ever forgetting the big picture.

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With more that 150 half marathons, 8 full marathons and 4 ultras in his running kitty, there has been no looking back for this iconic “Everyday Elite”. He also got an opportunity to test his superior running mettle as he went on the
historic run from Kashmir to India Gate , August 2022, as a part of the “The Great India Run 2.o”. This delegation was a part of the national “Ghar Ghar Tiranga campaign”. With this herculean challenge, done and dusted, he easily
cemented his place amongst elite group of young and fast-rising ultra runners in India, showing that he is a natural leader equipped with laser-sharp focus . His inane ability to bring out the best in both himself and many around him in his running community makes him an admirable and a beloved athlete. Now, he feels, running for him, is synonymous with breathing itself.

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The pandemic did stir up some ups and downs in his life just like so many of us across the board but with his acute sense of paying it forward and friendship of his buddies within his running group, kept him grounded and strong
throughout the lockdown period. His training buddies are now are his go-to people for any support in his life. He swears by these friendships and says that training with them keeps him strong enough to navigate any tough situation that life would throw at him . “ Everyday elite ” runners toil tirelessly to pay it forward by getting as many people to benefit from running and a fit lifestyle. Anoop too pursues this high endurance sport while having a profound effect on the people around him as he exudes his effortless athletic candour in his daily runs. He is actively involved in supporting the running community in Delhi. During the covid period, he was the point person for any covid related emergency in his running group. Natural leaders like him have an ability to bring out the best in both themselves and those around them especially in time of crisis.

These “Everyday Elite” do not boast of a dramatically different genetic makeup but inspiring daily routines that show that endurance, power and agility are attained over a period of time, always silently backed with consistent effort and
basic human kindness. Anoop is a pioneer in his group for inspiring daily routines. His mantra for all newbie runners is to place importance on warm up and cool down exercises before any running workout sessions. This he feels is extremely important to remain injury free. He feels that the “beat yesterday“ mentality is not sustainable
for new runners and that following proven training schedules in running groups are the best for long term benefits for runners. He also advise against comparing oneself with other runners and advises to focus on one’s own customised training plan suggested by a trusted mentor. Even as he daily trains and tries to inspire as many people to take up running as a fitness lifestyle, he himself is working on a new and improved training plan for himself. For the year 2023 he has his eyes on the challenging Tata Mumbai Marathon and the most daunting Khardungla
Marathon . With his favourite tagline being #followyourpassion we are looking forward to follow his running journey well into year 2023.

Everyday Elite

Smita Dixit

‘Rest, Restart, Focus as many times as you have to , just don’t quit’

How wonderful it is to run ! We have heard many runners say this!

Our next everyday elite , an Ayurvedic doctor by profession says that everytime she heads out the door, no matter the
distance or the time, she is immensely grateful for the opportunity to put one foot in front of the other. It is an
opportunity to be closer to her fitness goals. Running daily for fitness since 2016, this 49 year old, mother of
two, feels fortunate that something so simple like running brings so much joy to her. She feels it to be a privilege and and she cherishes each and every step she takes during her daily workout.

Her fitness journey started in Mumbai where as a working mom she had countless sources of stress, leaving her barely with 30 minutes of her time of the day to finish a small walk. However, when a fatal fall from the staircase confined her to the bed for a good 4-5 months, she knew she had to follow an aggressive approach to get back to her
fit life. With the bones of her legs put into place by metallic plates and screws she was fast losing all confidence of leading a normal life ever again but her strong mind did not allow her to wallow in this fear for long.

Smita was not ready to give up any time soon and holding fort under this stressful time she pushed herself to try and walk daily. After 8 months of daily struggle to get moving despite being dependent on an attendant for every menial job she didn’t lose hope to move on her own. She recalls this time as the most mentally-challenging and tough time. With half the battle won she knew she had to strengthen her weak legs. Switching on to a mental state of total focus, she continued walking more, despite being slow. Regardless of the pain and struggle, she stayed focussed on getting
stronger, not just better. She slowly learnt to be tuned into to her fit state of mind each and every day. Soon she was jogging at her local park and even met some top-tier athletes who inspired her to not let her passion for getting fit, wane even a little bit. She got inspired to take her running to the next level and started training for marathons.

The need to succeed physically came from within her and in 6 months itself she had successfully completed a 10km run and within 10 months a half marathon. She soon was thriving under the satisfaction of finishing marathons and the challenge of training for more runs was like a gift, a gift of a new lease of life.

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With a her enduring passion and grit to lead a normal life she kept her routine of running. By 2017, when her support plates were removed from her legs, she was already on her way to attempt and finish 3 marathons, two 12 hr ultra runs, a stadium relay run and various 10km and 21km runs. A prime example of courage and resilience Smita’s run journey is nothing short of enviable. With a desire to become a top-tier runner she received a surprising bonus of
winning her first podium female 12.5km at the BNP ultra-run at Sanjay Gandhi national park in Mumbai in year 2018. With many prestigious wins like a silver podium in 10km at th IDBI federal Mumbai marathon(age category) and another silver podium at the GSC spirit of sports 2020 event in Mumbai, Smita is truly an iconic runner to
follow in the running community.

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Till date she is willing to be coachable and thrives on regular challenges she takes on with her running group.
She feels that consistency and training is the key for anyone to take up running as a sport. Her passion for running keeps her grounded and even a new city couldn’t stop from the path she had chosen. She soon joined a vibrant running group and continues an enviable running training routine. She trains with the group before she leaves for work and never misses her LSD runs on Sunday. She continues to compete and knows that as long as she keeps running she will never lack resilience to bounce back from any setback. She believes consistency is the key to
achieving any running goal and now has her eyes set on taking on the Tata Mumbai marathon in January and the Khardungla challenge in September in the year 2023

Everyday Elite

Sohan Sharma

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win”

As more a more people realise the fact that keeping physically fit can dramatically improve the quality of their life and make them live longer its safe to say that there are many takers for this ‘endorphin hit’ called running. They say, as runners, it is not about how far your legs can go, it is about how far your mind can take you. Although every runner starts their fitness journey for a variety of reasons, research clearly shows the reasons why people start running are vast and varied and most times as unique as the people themselves. Running as a sport has no remote
control. Each day requires an equal effort. After all plans fail, life gets in the way, things get hard but they all know the real secret is not giving up. Thats the magic pill. The never give up attitude. !

One such “Everyday Elite” is 52 year old Sohan Sharma, a legendary runner, who over a period of time has shown to the running community that being disciplined is the easiest way to stay motivated. This father of two grownup sons started running 5 years ago with his running group DXR . For Sohan, running is an obsession, an obsession to
do whatever it takes to be the best. His focussed concentration as he tackles any type of run has led him to achieve  many unbelievable milestones as a runner.

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His running buddies know that he has a tangible vision for all of his runs and is keen on growing his run trajectory with each year. In 2021 itself he ran an unbelievable consecutive 100 half marathons as a part of the virtual event
Hundred Days of Running. A much revered and irreplaceable member of his running group, he shows a vulnerability of taking on new challenges with his teammates, showing that one learns more from taking calculated risks.

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He is a proud daily runner and with his day starting at 5:45 am alongwith his morning gang. He is much respected
for his teamwork and consistency. Since the initial days of his joining the running group it was evident that he could
perform well under pressure and displayed an upward learning curve with each new run. He has a full time job, taking care of documentation of property at the Delhi registration authority, Janakpuri and believes that that after a
great run one can produce their best work and feel a heightened sense of concentration at work too. Many group members clamber to run the track with ‘Sohan sir ‘as they lovingly address him as he seems to show an effortless
way of working towards his running goals.

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Displaying humility and kindness with each of his runs, Sohan stands heads and shoulders above the league of runners in Delhi-NCR . He is a  crucial member of any important delegations to various marathons, The Ladakh
marathon, Morni Hill Marathon and various national level major runs of Delhi NCR like ADHM/ NDM/Super Sikh to name a few.

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Ultra running is his entire way of life now. He has championed as a strong runner as he believes that learning from failure or setbacks is all a part of setting goals and without it there is little room for evolving new abilities. It is
safe to say that as a runner he enjoys running outside his comfort zone, paving the path to some strong lasting
running habits. Using this ideology he approaches every new running challenge with great enthusiasm with his
running group. In 2023 too, his quest for perfection is going to make him a contender for a cracker of a performance at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023. From here he wishes continue to move forward towards his dream of qualifying for the Boston marathon.

Everyday Elite

D P S Rawat

“Passion is energy, Feel the power that comes from focussing on what excites you!”

To shed light on the mental dimension of an Everyday Elite we can safely say that their patience and perseverance is evident as we see them unapologetically show up for all level of athletic challenges. They have fine tuned their mind into compartmentalising their worries and aim focus on the task at hand. They would always be the ones to finish their cross lines having given their all. Such is the story of our next “Everyday Elite” D P S Rawat who believes that his love for running can be simply understood in one simple line “Life is a marathon run it”.

A retired ex-banker belonging to an army family started his running journey just as a hobby and proudly shares that running for sport is in his “Pahadi” blood. After retirement while his peers were taking on new work assignments he decided to be home to take care of his family, especially his wife. He found running to be that catalyst for him. He knew it was absolutely necessary to remain fit. Despite hardly finding spare time to run he knew that running gave him courage to make changes in his life and feel stronger. During his most vulnerable time, running helped him to
take a bit of control back in their own hands.

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Running 20 minutes a day might sound like a lot of exercise to some, or not much to others. However, it was clear to him that just about anyone can benefit from a daily 20 minute run. Such was the start of a wonderful journey of our
‘Everyday Elite’ D P S Rawat. In his initial days of running as he was a solo runner he went through the whole process of trial and error and ended up injuring himself in one such run. He was cautioned by the doctor against any running or exertion. Instead of losing hope, he like any ‘Everyday Elite’, developed a compulsive need to work on
their deficiencies and improve himself.

Determined to continue be fit he joined a wonderful running group and started regular runs. A chance suggestion, from a running group mentor Madan Godara, saw him sign up for a 5km in the senior citizen category at an upcoming marathon. He ended up returning home triumphantly with a podium
finish in the Hindustan marathon, his first glittering trophy!. This confidence led to more practice runs with this running group and he went on to many other running endeavours like successfully finishing the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2 hour 6 minutes. From here on he has become a firm believer in consistent training and his tag line became “life is marathon run it”.

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He gives all the credit of his running success and resilience to his buddies in his running group DXR. To his name he has an admirable 50+ podium finishes at various Delhi-NCR marathons in open and age category. As a runner he too faces various obstacles in his runs and many times his mind wants to give up. He has, however, always found strength in the sense of belonging in his running group. Emotional support from friends and family keeps him grounded as runner and he aspires to keep taking his performance to a higher level with each run.

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He feels that running is a complete exercise and with a mix of yoga and mobility drills he continues to feel fit and agile. On days he cannot complete his workout he feels as if he has missed out on something precious . This running
frenzy is now a full blown passion for this “everyday elite”. His goal for the next year is to keep competing in the big runs in Delhi-NCR region and keep beating his previous year’s timing. He has a clear vision for himself , he wishes to do some local runs and get competitive by acquiring atleast 12 podiums minimum. In the year 2023 he would be seen competing in the New Delhi Marathon in January and the acclaimed Super Sikh run in February.

The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India

The Series: Part 2

The Wonderful Privilege of Running!

 How wonderful it is to run. Something so simple, the act of putting one foot in front of another, can bestow so much joy. Ask anyone who runs ! They feel only gratitude for all that they achieve, physically and mentally, as a runner.
Running seems to keep reminding them of the many amazing things our body can do and it helps them to appreciate their strength and challenge their limits to overcome weaknesses. Running is a privilege, and is still a niche among
athletes. Many still view it as a highly elusive sport. To help banish the hype behind something as basic as the
joy of running, brought about the concept for a series, on the incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India. Stories of strength and resilience and a show of daily perseverance in face of adversity. Runners are somehow the best people to have in one’s life too. The qualities that define their running also shine a light on the incredible personalities they themselves are in their personal lives too. These athletes are aware that there may be a day when
they won’t be able to continue pursuing this high endurance sport. Everyday, that they feel strong as a runner, they celebrate it !

As you read the stories that outline their running journey you will notice surprisingly consistent similarities in their spirit. Tales that reveal that these athletes may be reaping the benefits from running but their real strength as a
runner lies beyond sheer talent and consistent training. We connected with some of the Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India and asked them to share their running stories of passion and achievement to understand their “Why”. Sit back and enjoy this easy pace journey as we shed light into their journey and reveal the totally relatable
and inspiring top personality traits that these “Everyday Elite’ thrive on.

Everyday Elite: Anoop Sharma

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them”

They say a runner’s grit often comes down to steely inner strength and unshakeable faith. Let us start with the remarkable story of our “Everyday Elite” Anoop Sharma. A Mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur for whom
running is an integral part of life just like breathing or eating. An accomplished runner worth his mettle, he
understands very well that through hard work and focusing on compartmentalising one’s fears, all runners can learn
to remain in the moment. It is his core strength as a runner and one of the reasons why he is an irreplaceable member of his running group.

This Delhi based 51-year old athlete is a father of 2 and recalls how his better half, Kiran, who he calls his pillar of strength, has been his anchor through the various ups and downs of his fitness journey.

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Though it was not always this way for him. Throughout his younger days he played competitive football and kept fit but a subsequent shaky entry into adulthood into busy corporate work culture saw him fall into the unhealthy
trap of bad habits like most professionals at a young age. Popping pills for headaches and acidity and to cope with daily stress had become a norm. It was during such time that his brother a runner, cyclist and shuttler, brought his
attention to his health situation and suggested he start a routine for fitness.On his behest he started running 2-3 kms at his local park and started a regular fitness routine. It was at one such session at the local
park that he had a chance meeting with some dynamic members of the running group Dwarka Xpress runners. At that point he didn’t realise this routine of daily training with a group would be the catalyst that his health required . He soon discovered his innate ability to get into zone while working out and soon his confidence in his ability gained momentum as he started showing up for tough training sessions. This was during the same time when he confidently
signed up to take on the challenging and prestigious Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Now he looks back in amazement as to how seamlessly he completed the half marathon with an impressive debut time. His enduring passion to achieve
his goal, advice from a strong running group and a supportive family had made him an overnight champion within the running community. Since then there has been no looking back for this talented “Everyday Elite”

 

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He has shown that one can become a true champion with training and deliberate practice especially in the
fun company of one’s running buddies. He is a prime example of how by giving one’s best effort each and every time we invariably make our fitness goals achievable. He, of course, manages all of this by staying humble and without ever forgetting the big picture.

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With more that 150 half marathons, 8 full marathons and 4 ultras in his running kitty, there has been no looking back for this iconic “Everyday Elite”. He also got an opportunity to test his superior running mettle as he went on the
historic run from Kashmir to India Gate , August 2022, as a part of the “The Great India Run 2.o”. This delegation was a part of the national “Ghar Ghar Tiranga campaign”. With this herculean challenge, done and dusted, he easily
cemented his place amongst elite group of young and fast-rising ultra runners in India, showing that he is a natural leader equipped with laser-sharp focus . His inane ability to bring out the best in both himself and many around him in his running community makes him an admirable and a beloved athlete. Now, he feels, running for him, is synonymous with breathing itself.

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The pandemic did stir up some ups and downs in his life just like so many of us across the board but with his acute sense of paying it forward and friendship of his buddies within his running group, kept him grounded and strong
throughout the lockdown period. His training buddies are now are his go-to people for any support in his life. He swears by these friendships and says that training with them keeps him strong enough to navigate any tough situation that life would throw at him . “ Everyday elite ” runners toil tirelessly to pay it forward by getting as many people to benefit from running and a fit lifestyle. Anoop too pursues this high endurance sport while having a profound effect on the people around him as he exudes his effortless athletic candour in his daily runs. He is actively involved in supporting the running community in Delhi. During the covid period, he was the point person for any covid related emergency in his running group. Natural leaders like him have an ability to bring out the best in both themselves and those around them especially in time of crisis.

These “Everyday Elite” do not boast of a dramatically different genetic makeup but inspiring daily routines that show that endurance, power and agility are attained over a period of time, always silently backed with consistent effort and
basic human kindness. Anoop is a pioneer in his group for inspiring daily routines. His mantra for all newbie runners is to place importance on warm up and cool down exercises before any running workout sessions. This he feels is extremely important to remain injury free. He feels that the “beat yesterday“ mentality is not sustainable
for new runners and that following proven training schedules in running groups are the best for long term benefits for runners. He also advise against comparing oneself with other runners and advises to focus on one’s own customised training plan suggested by a trusted mentor. Even as he daily trains and tries to inspire as many people to take up running as a fitness lifestyle, he himself is working on a new and improved training plan for himself. For the year 2023 he has his eyes on the challenging Tata Mumbai Marathon and the most daunting Khardungla
Marathon . With his favourite tagline being #followyourpassion we are looking forward to follow his running journey well into year 2023.

Everyday Elite

Smita Dixit

‘Rest, Restart, Focus as many times as you have to , just don’t quit’

How wonderful it is to run ! We have heard many runners say this!

Our next everyday elite , an Ayurvedic doctor by profession says that everytime she heads out the door, no matter the
distance or the time, she is immensely grateful for the opportunity to put one foot in front of the other. It is an
opportunity to be closer to her fitness goals. Running daily for fitness since 2016, this 49 year old, mother of
two, feels fortunate that something so simple like running brings so much joy to her. She feels it to be a privilege and and she cherishes each and every step she takes during her daily workout.

Her fitness journey started in Mumbai where as a working mom she had countless sources of stress, leaving her barely with 30 minutes of her time of the day to finish a small walk. However, when a fatal fall from the staircase confined her to the bed for a good 4-5 months, she knew she had to follow an aggressive approach to get back to her
fit life. With the bones of her legs put into place by metallic plates and screws she was fast losing all confidence of leading a normal life ever again but her strong mind did not allow her to wallow in this fear for long.

Smita was not ready to give up any time soon and holding fort under this stressful time she pushed herself to try and walk daily. After 8 months of daily struggle to get moving despite being dependent on an attendant for every menial job she didn’t lose hope to move on her own. She recalls this time as the most mentally-challenging and tough time. With half the battle won she knew she had to strengthen her weak legs. Switching on to a mental state of total focus, she continued walking more, despite being slow. Regardless of the pain and struggle, she stayed focussed on getting
stronger, not just better. She slowly learnt to be tuned into to her fit state of mind each and every day. Soon she was jogging at her local park and even met some top-tier athletes who inspired her to not let her passion for getting fit, wane even a little bit. She got inspired to take her running to the next level and started training for marathons.

The need to succeed physically came from within her and in 6 months itself she had successfully completed a 10km run and within 10 months a half marathon. She soon was thriving under the satisfaction of finishing marathons and the challenge of training for more runs was like a gift, a gift of a new lease of life.

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With a her enduring passion and grit to lead a normal life she kept her routine of running. By 2017, when her support plates were removed from her legs, she was already on her way to attempt and finish 3 marathons, two 12 hr ultra runs, a stadium relay run and various 10km and 21km runs. A prime example of courage and resilience Smita’s run journey is nothing short of enviable. With a desire to become a top-tier runner she received a surprising bonus of
winning her first podium female 12.5km at the BNP ultra-run at Sanjay Gandhi national park in Mumbai in year 2018. With many prestigious wins like a silver podium in 10km at th IDBI federal Mumbai marathon(age category) and another silver podium at the GSC spirit of sports 2020 event in Mumbai, Smita is truly an iconic runner to
follow in the running community.

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Till date she is willing to be coachable and thrives on regular challenges she takes on with her running group.
She feels that consistency and training is the key for anyone to take up running as a sport. Her passion for running keeps her grounded and even a new city couldn’t stop from the path she had chosen. She soon joined a vibrant running group and continues an enviable running training routine. She trains with the group before she leaves for work and never misses her LSD runs on Sunday. She continues to compete and knows that as long as she keeps running she will never lack resilience to bounce back from any setback. She believes consistency is the key to
achieving any running goal and now has her eyes set on taking on the Tata Mumbai marathon in January and the Khardungla challenge in September in the year 2023

Everyday Elite

Sohan Sharma

“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win”

As more a more people realise the fact that keeping physically fit can dramatically improve the quality of their life and make them live longer its safe to say that there are many takers for this ‘endorphin hit’ called running. They say, as runners, it is not about how far your legs can go, it is about how far your mind can take you. Although every runner starts their fitness journey for a variety of reasons, research clearly shows the reasons why people start running are vast and varied and most times as unique as the people themselves. Running as a sport has no remote
control. Each day requires an equal effort. After all plans fail, life gets in the way, things get hard but they all know the real secret is not giving up. Thats the magic pill. The never give up attitude. !

One such “Everyday Elite” is 52 year old Sohan Sharma, a legendary runner, who over a period of time has shown to the running community that being disciplined is the easiest way to stay motivated. This father of two grownup sons started running 5 years ago with his running group DXR . For Sohan, running is an obsession, an obsession to
do whatever it takes to be the best. His focussed concentration as he tackles any type of run has led him to achieve  many unbelievable milestones as a runner.

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His running buddies know that he has a tangible vision for all of his runs and is keen on growing his run trajectory with each year. In 2021 itself he ran an unbelievable consecutive 100 half marathons as a part of the virtual event
Hundred Days of Running. A much revered and irreplaceable member of his running group, he shows a vulnerability of taking on new challenges with his teammates, showing that one learns more from taking calculated risks.

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He is a proud daily runner and with his day starting at 5:45 am alongwith his morning gang. He is much respected
for his teamwork and consistency. Since the initial days of his joining the running group it was evident that he could
perform well under pressure and displayed an upward learning curve with each new run. He has a full time job, taking care of documentation of property at the Delhi registration authority, Janakpuri and believes that that after a
great run one can produce their best work and feel a heightened sense of concentration at work too. Many group members clamber to run the track with ‘Sohan sir ‘as they lovingly address him as he seems to show an effortless
way of working towards his running goals.

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Displaying humility and kindness with each of his runs, Sohan stands heads and shoulders above the league of runners in Delhi-NCR . He is a  crucial member of any important delegations to various marathons, The Ladakh
marathon, Morni Hill Marathon and various national level major runs of Delhi NCR like ADHM/ NDM/Super Sikh to name a few.

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Ultra running is his entire way of life now. He has championed as a strong runner as he believes that learning from failure or setbacks is all a part of setting goals and without it there is little room for evolving new abilities. It is
safe to say that as a runner he enjoys running outside his comfort zone, paving the path to some strong lasting
running habits. Using this ideology he approaches every new running challenge with great enthusiasm with his
running group. In 2023 too, his quest for perfection is going to make him a contender for a cracker of a performance at the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2023. From here he wishes continue to move forward towards his dream of qualifying for the Boston marathon.

Everyday Elite

D P S Rawat

“Passion is energy, Feel the power that comes from focussing on what excites you!”

To shed light on the mental dimension of an Everyday Elite we can safely say that their patience and perseverance is evident as we see them unapologetically show up for all level of athletic challenges. They have fine tuned their mind into compartmentalising their worries and aim focus on the task at hand. They would always be the ones to finish their cross lines having given their all. Such is the story of our next “Everyday Elite” D P S Rawat who believes that his love for running can be simply understood in one simple line “Life is a marathon run it”.

A retired ex-banker belonging to an army family started his running journey just as a hobby and proudly shares that running for sport is in his “Pahadi” blood. After retirement while his peers were taking on new work assignments he decided to be home to take care of his family, especially his wife. He found running to be that catalyst for him. He knew it was absolutely necessary to remain fit. Despite hardly finding spare time to run he knew that running gave him courage to make changes in his life and feel stronger. During his most vulnerable time, running helped him to
take a bit of control back in their own hands.

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Running 20 minutes a day might sound like a lot of exercise to some, or not much to others. However, it was clear to him that just about anyone can benefit from a daily 20 minute run. Such was the start of a wonderful journey of our
‘Everyday Elite’ D P S Rawat. In his initial days of running as he was a solo runner he went through the whole process of trial and error and ended up injuring himself in one such run. He was cautioned by the doctor against any running or exertion. Instead of losing hope, he like any ‘Everyday Elite’, developed a compulsive need to work on
their deficiencies and improve himself.

Determined to continue be fit he joined a wonderful running group and started regular runs. A chance suggestion, from a running group mentor Madan Godara, saw him sign up for a 5km in the senior citizen category at an upcoming marathon. He ended up returning home triumphantly with a podium
finish in the Hindustan marathon, his first glittering trophy!. This confidence led to more practice runs with this running group and he went on to many other running endeavours like successfully finishing the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2 hour 6 minutes. From here on he has become a firm believer in consistent training and his tag line became “life is marathon run it”.

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He gives all the credit of his running success and resilience to his buddies in his running group DXR. To his name he has an admirable 50+ podium finishes at various Delhi-NCR marathons in open and age category. As a runner he too faces various obstacles in his runs and many times his mind wants to give up. He has, however, always found strength in the sense of belonging in his running group. Emotional support from friends and family keeps him grounded as runner and he aspires to keep taking his performance to a higher level with each run.

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He feels that running is a complete exercise and with a mix of yoga and mobility drills he continues to feel fit and agile. On days he cannot complete his workout he feels as if he has missed out on something precious . This running
frenzy is now a full blown passion for this “everyday elite”. His goal for the next year is to keep competing in the big runs in Delhi-NCR region and keep beating his previous year’s timing. He has a clear vision for himself , he wishes to do some local runs and get competitive by acquiring atleast 12 podiums minimum. In the year 2023 he would be seen competing in the New Delhi Marathon in January and the acclaimed Super Sikh run in February.

What To Expect From World Cup 2026

Qatar 2022 will go down as the most “compact” FIFA World Cup in history – but 2026 will be very different. While all matches this time around were played within an hour’s drive of each other, the next World Cup will be played across three nations – Canada, the United States and Mexico.

And it will be an expanded competition, with 16 additional teams taking part, meaning more matches. However, the tournament will still be played out within five weeks from mid-June 2026.

Questions will be asked about the amount of travel players and fans will have to make, with the tournament being held in 11 US cities, along with three venues in Mexico and two in Canada.

Sustainability will, therefore, be an important issue with the considerable number of flights needed to transport teams, fans, media and Fifa officials across three countries.

Why will there be more teams than ever before in 2026?

FIFA is expanding the next men’s World Cup finals from 32 to 48 teams.

It means more money will be generated through sponsorships, merchandising, ticket sales and broadcast revenues, with FIFA expecting to earn $11bn over the four-year cycle up to December 2026.

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Bumper crowds are expected at the next World Cup as the popularity of football in North America continues to grow. FIFA is projecting as many as 5.5 million fans will attend the next tournament, beating the record 3.6m supporters who attended games in 1994, when there was an average attendance of 68,000 at each game.

The governing body claims that much of the increased profit will be redistributed to football development around the world, with projects including investment to expand the women’s game.

The expanded format will increase the number of competing teams from Africa and Asia.

In 2022, there were a total of 11 teams from across the two confederations at the finals – including Qatar, who qualified automatically as hosts, and Australia, who took part in the Asian qualifiers and then beat Peru in an intercontinental play-off.

In 2026, there will be a minimum of 17 teams from across the two confederations – and there could be as many as 19, depending on which two countries win through the six-team intercontinental play-offs for the finals.

A minimum of six Concacaf teams will qualify for the World Cup, including Canada, Mexico and the United States as hosts – and the federation will have two sides in the play-offs as well.

Where will the matches be played in 2026?

The 16 venues were announced in June, with all the grounds already built, and with the majority of big-capacity stadiums used by NFL teams in the United States.

Some of the stadiums will be upgraded before 2026 and some will require the laying of grass surfaces, as artificial turf is not permitted by FIFA.

As it stands, the format for 2026 will mean 80 matches across the tournament – although that could still change. The United States would host 60 matches, including every match from the quarter-finals onward, while neighboring Canada and Mexico would each host 10 matches.

Both the US and Mexico have hosted the World Cup before – but most of the venues in 2026 will be different. The US is using none of the stadiums from 1994, while Mexico has just one venue from 1970 and 1986 – the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The host venues for 2026 are:

United States

New York/New Jersey (MetLife Stadium)

Los Angeles (SoFi Stadium)

Dallas (AT&T Stadium)

San Francisco Bay Area (Levi’s Stadium)

Miami (Hard Rock Stadium)

Atlanta (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)

Seattle (Lumen Field)

Houston (NRG Stadium)

Philadelphia (Lincoln Financial Field)

Kansas City, Missouri (Arrowhead Stadium)

Boston/Foxborough (Gillette Stadium)

Canada

Toronto (BMO Field)

Vancouver (BC Place Stadium)

Mexico

Guadalajara (Estadio Akron)

Mexico City (Azteca Stadium)

Monterrey (BBVA Bancomer Stadium)

The geographical spread for the next World Cup has not yet been announced but it is likely that teams will play their group-stage games in regionalized zones.

There are three main venue clusters, which should help reduce the amount of travel needed at least for part of the tournament.

How will the 2026 finals be structured?

A final decision will be made by the FIFA Council in 2023.

The initial favored option was to have 16 groups of three teams. Each team would play two group games, rather than three, with the first two teams progressing to a new round of 32.

But the downside to that could be that the two teams playing in the last fixture could play out a specific result to send both teams through. That was alleged to have happened in 1982 when West Germany and Austria advanced at the expense of Algeria in the so-called ‘Disgrace of Gijon’.

Given the success of the four-team group format in 2022, the structure for 2026 will be revisited, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

“I have to say after this World Cup, and the success of the groups of four, we have to revisit or rediscuss the format whether we go for 16 groups of three or 12 groups of four.” The indications are that it will end up being 12 groups of four, effectively split into two halves (like two Euros in one go).

Another possibility, though one that appears unlikely, is that group games may not be allowed to finish as a draw. If the teams were level after 90 minutes, the outcome could be decided with a penalty shootout, without the need for extra time.

Where will the FIFA World Cup 2026 final be played?

The MetLife Stadium in New Jersey could host the final That decision has not yet been made but it will be in the next year.

The front-runner to host the final is the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which has a seated capacity of 82,500 and is home to the New York Giants and New York Jets NFL teams. The Azteca in Mexico has been put forward as a potential host for the opening match.

Both venues are contenders to host the 2026 final, but FIFA president Infantino said world football’s governing body will take their time with a decision. “There are still some discussions to go on and we’ll certainly choose the best cities for the openings and the finals,” said Infantino. “But every match will be like a final at this World Cup.”

And what about 2030?

That will be a special centenary event, 100 years after the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay, which was contested by just 13 teams. Uruguay has claimed for some time that it should be awarded the tournament, possibly in a joint bid with Argentina.

Spain and Portugal hope to be put forward by UEFA, but England dropped its interest in favor of bidding for UEFA Euro 2028 along with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Saudi Arabia could be another potential bidder, though that could mean another winter tournament because of the high summer temperatures in the Middle East. A decision on the hosts of the 2030 tournament will be made by the FIFA Council in 2024.

“CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!” Return Home To A Jubilant Welcome In Argentina

Argentina’s World Cup-winning squad arrived home to a jubilant Buenos Aires in Arentina, with massive crowds lining the streets and cheering their champions’ return. Captain Lionel Messi stepped off the plane first, holding the gold trophy aloft, followed by his triumphant team onto a red carpet at the airport, greeted by reporters, officials and a live band.

As the team bus departed the airport, it was immediately swarmed by cheering supporters dressed in the national colors of blue and white. Videos show the bus inching forward slowly behind a police escort, surrounded by tens of thousands of people waving the Argentine flag and setting off firecrackers in the night.

The air was filled with cheers as the crowd sang and danced; the players, standing on the open top deck, waved to their adoring supporters.

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Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of the capital later on Tuesday, which has been declared a national holiday, for the team’s victory parade following their thrilling penalty shootout victory over France in Qatar on Sunday, December 19th.

Crowds of supporters had camped out at the training site on Monday ahead of the team’s arrival, with photos showing fans spilling out of cars parked on its grounds. Some laid on blankets on the grass while others lounged on picnic chairs around coolers.

The team’s highly-anticipated return continues several days of nonstop celebration across the country and among fans overseas, following Argentina’s explosive win against France.

Superstars Messi and Kylian Mbappé faced off on the pitch, in what has widely been called the greatest World Cup final of all time.

Mbappé was defending France’s 2018 win at the tournament in Russia, while 35-year-old Messi was playing in his final World Cup match, looking to claim the trophy which had eluded him for so long.

Argentina took an early lead in the first half – but France roared back in the second half, reaching a 2-2 tie that forced the match into extra time.

Messi scored his second goal of the match to restore his team’s lead – but Mbappé scored a second penalty to grab his hat-trick and take the final to a penalty shootout, which ended with triumph for Argentina after France missed two shots.

Hundreds of thousands of people poured onto the streets of Buenos Aires after the World Cup triumph, flooding the central 9 de Julio Avenue. Social media videos showed jubilant fans climbing on top of street poles to wave the Argentine flag; others on the ground danced, sang and chanted in celebration.

The triumph in Doha was Argentina’s third World Cup win and its first since 1986, when the legendary Diego Maradona led the team to victory in Mexico. Sunday’s win also marked a change in fortunes for Argentina after three recent defeats in major finals – the 2014 World Cup, and the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.

“I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything,” said Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni after the match Sunday, according to Reuters. “I am proud of the work they did,” he added, fighting back tears as he was embraced by his players. “I want to tell people to enjoy, it’s a historic moment for our country.”

Those losses prompted Messi at one point to announce his retirement from international football – though the almost-unanimous national outcry convinced him to reverse track, before wining the Copa América in 2021. Now, with the World Cup also under his belt, Messi has cemented his status as one of the all-time soccer greats alongside Maradona and Brazil’s Pelé. (Courtesy: Reuters)

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France & Argentina Will Meet In The World Cup Final

It’s Kylian Mbappé vs. Lionel Messi on Sunday, December 18th, 2022 at the Soccer World Cup Finals in Qatar, just about everyone was waiting for — and hoping for.

France and Mbappé are headed back to the biggest game in soccer, and to a much-anticipated matchup with Argentina, after ending Morocco’s historic run at the World Cup.

In front of the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, France beat Africa’s first ever semifinalist 2-0 on Wednesday, with Mbappé playing a part in goals by Theo Hernandez in the fifth minute and substitute Randal Kolo Muani in the 79th.

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Mbappé became a global phenomenon by leading France to the World Cup title in Russia in 2018 and has a chance to cement his status as the sport’s new superstar when he comes up against the 35-year-old Messi, who has dominated the game with Cristiano Ronaldo for the past 15 years.

For some, that makes it the dream final, with France looking to become the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962 and Argentina on a mission to win soccer’s ultimate prize in what is likely to be Messi’s last World Cup.

“We need all our strength, all our energy to face a very competitive team with one of the legends in the sport with Messi,” France goalkepeer Hugo Lloris.

Earlier this week, the streets of Argentina turned into a party Tuesday as the national team beat Croatia by a comfortable 3-0 and earned this soccer-crazed South American country a spot in the World Cup final.

Fans poured onto the streets of the capital of Buenos Aires as soon as the match ended, with people waving Argentina flags out of their cars while others jumped and sang in joy amid a sea of wearing the national team’s jersey.

Buenos Aires had come to a standstill on what was a scorching summer afternoon as fans packed cafes, restaurants and public plazas, where giant screens followed the exploits of the Lionel Messi-led team.

The agonizing start of the tournament for Argentina was followed by a string of victories that have brought some much-needed joy to a country stuck in an economic standstill with one of the world’s highest inflation rates, closing in on almost 100% per year, and where close to four of every 10 people live in poverty.

The sky-high hopes for the Argentina team only increased here after the quarter-final against the Netherlands, an agonizing match that ended in a penalty shootout and led to a collective feeling the team that had shocked the world by losing its opening match against Saudi Arabia had finally found its groove.

There will be no team from the Arab world in the final of the first World Cup in the Middle East, a prospect that seemed nigh impossible before the tournament yet nearly happened in Qatar.

Morocco has been widely lauded for breaking ground for Africa and generated an outpouring of pride among Arab nations after topping a group containing Croatia and Belgium and eliminating two more European powers — Spain and Portugal — in the knockout stage. Their players gave France a far-from-easy ride, too, before collapsing on the ground in despair after the final whistle.

Remarkably, Hernandez’s early goal was the first scored against them by an opposition player in the tournament — the other had been an own-goal in the group stage — but Morocco responded to that and injury issues in its defense with a brave performance in front of tens of thousands of fans who dominated the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium.

France was forced into some last-ditch defending at times but has developed a knack of pulling out victories despite not playing its best.

Mbappé helped create the goal for Hernandez because his shot deflected off a defender and into the path of the left back, who let the ball bounce before driving a downward effort into the net from a tight angle.

Typically a defense-first team, Morocco was forced to come out and play even though it was reeling from losing Nayef Aguerd to injury in the warmup and another center back, captain Romain Saiss, after only 21 minutes because of a hamstring injury. Both players were doubts ahead of the game but were risked by Morocco coach Walid Regragui.

Roared on by its red-and-green-clad fans, Morocco came closest to scoring when Jawad El Yamiq hit the post with an overhead kick in the 44th minute and forced France to defend in numbers.

However, Mbappé enjoyed more space as Morocco tired late in the second half and, after dribbling past two defenders, his deflected shot was tapped in by Kolo Muani, who had been on the field for less than a minute.

The goal was celebrated in the VIP seats by Macron, who flew in for the match and had earlier visited the Souq Waqif bazaar in Doha before traveling to the stadium.

Mbappé is France’s leader on the soccer field and although he was kept relatively quiet by Morocco right back Achraf Hakimi — his teammate at Paris Saint-Germain — he showed glimpses of his skills and lethal pace, including a 60-meter run down the left that had supporters out of their seats.

At the end, Mbappé consoled a distraught Hakimi and they swapped jerseys before France’s players ran in a line toward their small pocket of fans behind one of the goals.

France will be competing in the final for the fourth time in the last seven World Cups.

TOP SCORER

The World Cup trophy isn’t the only thing at stake on Sunday. Messi and Mbappé are tied as the leading scorers with five goals as they chase the Golden Boot award.

THIRD PLACE

Morocco’s World Cup isn’t over. The team will play the third-place playoff match against Croatia at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

ICC Men’s T20 World Cup  2024 To Be Played In USA

USA Cricket is all set to co-host the premier cricketing extravaganza — the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup — in 2024. The tournament will be historic in two ways. The USA is not only co-hosting a global event but also has qualified as a participant for the first time. The 2024 edition of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will see more than a dozen teams taking part, including the USA.

Picture : USA Cricket

ICC’s decision to hold the tournament in the USA aims to promote the gentlemen’s game in the continent and inspire the next generation to play cricket. USA became an Associate member of ICC in 1965 and since then the game has been slowly growing and it has made rapid advances in the last 10 years. Acquiring status as an ODI playing nation, in 2019, was a major landmark.

Interim CEO, Vinay Bhimjiani, welcoming the ICC decision, said, “I am absolutely thrilled with this announcement. USA cricket is committed to making this event an unparalleled experience. The exhibition of the world’s best cricketing talent on US soil will act like a springboard for future growth of this game in this country. The arrival of the world’s second most watched sport to the world’s largest media market provides unprecedented value and exposure.”

Chairman, Dr Atul Rai, said that the association is extremely delighted with the ICC’s decision. “The event will not only promote cricket in the United States but also boost our strategic partnership with the ICC to open new avenues to host future events. The tournament will take cricket towards mainstream status.”

Conducting the World Cup of Cricket in the USA and West Indies will further enhance prospects for the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Lionel Messi Is Argentina’s Greatest Soccer Player

Argentina’s Lionel Messi has secured his place among the best and the greatest football players in history. Messi, by leading Argentina into World Cup quarter finals with his record goals in the World Cup 2022, has a carved a place in history for himself and for the South American nation. 

Lionel Messi’s passionate performances at the Qatar World Cup 2022 are earning him oodles of love from Argentines, but their old favoritism for Diego Maradona may resurface unless he brings home the trophy on his final attempt.

Lionel Messi scored his first goal in a World Cup knockout round in his 1,000th match to beat Diego Maradona’s tournament tally, as Argentina beat off a frenzied Australia fightback to win 2-1 on Saturday,  December 3rd and helped reach his country the quarter-finals.

Captaining his national team for the 100th time, Messi ignited this last-16 match midway through the first half, curling home cutely after some neat build-up play – his 789th career goal.

Messi led his side ahead after 35 minutes with a coolly taken low strike for his 94th international goal, passing the great Maradona’s eight World Cup goals, in a match where he was instrumental in almost every Argentine attack.

Messi’s quest to win that elusive World Cup title had a rocky start at Qatar 2022 – Argentina was stunned by Saudi Arabia in its opening group game – and La Albiceleste barely troubled Australia in the opening half hour. 

Many soccer pundits have passed comment on just how much Messi tends to walk in matches these days, but that wasn’t the case when the 35-year-old closed down Behich as he attempted to clear the ball. 

Picture : CNN

With over 750 senior goals for club and country, Lionel Messi’s credentials as one of the greatest goal scorers in football history are beyond any doubt.

However, the Argentinian master hasn’t quite lived up to these lofty standards on the FIFA World Cup stage.

Lionel Messi has scored nine goals in 23 matches at the FIFA World Cup, spanning five editions (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022). Messi is the second-highest goal-scorer for Argentina at the football World Cup.

Lionel Messi has netted 94 goals in 169 international matches in his career, making him the top goal scorer of all time for Argentina. Messi is also fourth on the list of highest goal scorers in international football and second amongst active players, only behind rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

Messi has a come a long way ever since he had entered the world soccer arena. The world had heard about Messi at Barcelona, the first time he came to play for Argentina. He did not say much then, but the country gave him a massive warm welcome to the team and quickly realized just how good he was. He played in 2005 Under-20 World Cup in the Netherlands when he was 17, winning the tournament together, it was mostly down to him!

Messi has won everything there is to win in club football, but he was desperate to come back and help us win something too. So it was amazing to see him winning his first major trophy at international level, at the Copa America last year.

Messi is not just a best player, he is the true leader of the team – even manager Lionel Scaloni has said that himself many times – and he will be helping them through this difficult start in that way too, not just by scoring goals.

Man of the match Messi admitted the final moments were tense.

“Things got complicated in the end with their goal but it’s a World Cup and it’s never easy,” Messi said.

“Now we have a really tough clash with Holland, who play very well. They have great players and a great coach, it’s going to be hard-fought. If a World Cup has been tough from the start, it gets even tougher at this stage.”

It has been a long journey for him to this moment. Of course, everyone can change off the field and learn different things. Messi now, at 35, is more mature, he has more experience and he is a family man – but he is still an amazing footballer too.

If he does win this World Cup then he should just retire straight away because he will have achieved everything possible. There will be nothing left for him to win.

Who’s Qualified For The 16, In The Knockouts At The FIFA World Cup?

All 32 teams started the 2022 FIFA World Cup with one goal: get to the knockout rounds.

Any player and coach will tell you that, in the single-elimination knockout stage, anything can happen. That’s why teams don’t care how they get there. They just want to get there.

Some paths will prove easier than others in the knockouts depending on the teams that qualify and the final pairings. The Round of 16 matchups are all predetermined with teams slotting in based on their finish in their respective groups (group winner or group runner-up).

Those nations that win their group are paired with a runner-up from a different group in the Round of 16 and a favorable first match can really set a team on its way to a deep run.

France became the first side to reach the Round of 16 on November 26 and since then nine other sides have followed them.

Like France, Brazil and Portugal also mathematically qualified after just two matchdays, but they’re still waiting to see if they’ll go through as a group winner or group runner-up when they play their finales. Meanwhile, Groups A-D were the first ones to wrap up play.

England booked their place in the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Wales to top Group B. They will be joined by USA who beat Iran 1-0.

Earlier on the same day, Netherlands and Senegal finished in the top two positions in Group A to seal their places in the knockout stages.

Picture : Forbes

The Dutch beat tournament hosts Qatar whose sorry campaign ended with three defeats from three, while Senegal edged past Ecuador who could have qualified with a draw.

They join France, Brazil and Portugal who each confirmed qualification with a game to spare in groups D, G and H respectively.

The defending champions became the first team to progress to the last 16 after snatching victory over Denmark on Saturday, with Brazil and Portugal joining them 48 hours later.

Finishing second in Group D are Australia who recovered from an opening match hammering from the French to win back-to-back games against Tunisia and Denmark respectively.

Here, we break down the permutations – including what Lionel Messi’s Argentina need to do to make the last 16 – for all the groups. How are they shaping up? And what does each nation need to qualify?

Oh, and think you know what will happen? You can still dive into our bracket game, where you can give your predictions, challenge friends and create mini-leagues.

How does Round of 16 work in World Cup?

The Round of 16 is the start of what is commonly referred to as the knockout rounds because every match is single elimination from here on out.

There are no points earned. There are no standings. There’s simply a winner and a loser.

What happens if knockout matches finish tied?

There has to be a winner on the day in the case of each Round of 16 match and for subsequent knockout-round matches. If teams are tied after 90 minutes of regulation, the match goes into a 30-minute period of extra time.

If the deadlock persists after those 30 minutes of extra time, then a penalty shootout will determine the team that moves on to the quarterfinals.

The Round of 16 pairings are set in advance of the World Cup Draw. Teams that finish in first place in the group stage match up against teams that are runners-up in their respective groups.

Round of 16 fixtures and schedule

Saturday December 3

R16 1 – Netherlands vs. USA (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; 3pm)

R16 2 – Argentina vs. Australia (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan; 7pm)

Sunday December 4

R16 3 – France vs. Poland (Al Thumama Stadium, Doha; 3pm)

R16 4 – England vs. Senegal (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; 7pm)

Monday December 5

R16 5 – Winners of Group E vs. Runners-up of Group F (Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah; 3pm)

R16 6 – Winners of Group G vs. Runners-up of Group H (Stadium 974, Doha; 7pm)

Tuesday December 6

R16 7 – Winners of Group F vs. Runners-up of Group E (Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan; 3pm)

R16 8 – Winners of Group H vs. Runners-up of Group G (Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail; 7pm)

FIFA World Cup Kicks Off With Host Qatar Losing To Ecuador

After 12 years of planning, $220 billion in government investment and countless controversies involving everything from workers’ rights to beer sales, the 2022 World Cup kicked off On November 20th, 2022 on the edge of the Qatari desert in a massive stadium built to look like a Bedouin tent.

It was a spectacular setting for the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East and the first to be held in a majority-Muslim country. And the night began with pomp worthy of those circumstances, with Morgan Freeman hosting a 30-minute opening ceremony that involved two sheiks, three camels, four drummers, the last 14 World Cup mascots and 32 dancers dressed as giant replicas of the participating teams’ jerseys.

Picture : Reuters

A packed crowd of over 67,000 fans filled the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, for a match between the hosts and Ecuador. Making its first World Cup appearance, Qatar looked severely outclassed. The opening game between the host nation and Ecuador ended in a 2-0 win for Ecuador, making Qatar the first host country to lose a World Cup opener.

Ecuador thought they had made a dream start within three minutes when they silenced the home fans as Enner Valencia headed in, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside in the build-up. Thirteen minutes later, Ecuador did take the lead after Valencia dribbled round Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb who grabbed his shin and the referee pointed to the spot. Valencia coolly rolled home the penalty.

Valencia added a second goal to seal Ecuador’s 2-0 win. That spoiled the team’s tournament debut and disappointed many in the sellout crowd, but the night was about more than just soccer.

The tournament has been awash in controversy from the start, however, with the bid process that awarded it to the country in 2010 marred by allegations of corruption and bribery. Five years later, FIFA, the governing body of global soccer, backed away from promises the tournament could be played in Qatar’s intense summer heat and moved the World Cup to the winter for the first time, scrambling domestic league schedules everywhere.

Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was greeted with loud cheers by the home crowd as he officially opened the tournament, inside a stadium designed to look like a traditional Bedouin tent.

“From Qatar, from the Arab world, I welcome everyone to the World Cup 2022,” the 42-year-old said. “How lovely it is that people can put aside what divides them to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together.”

For Qataris, the hope is this tournament will prove the country, the smallest and youngest ever to host the event, is ready to become a major global player.

Janaki Easwar, 13-Year Old India Origin Singer Performs In T20 World Cup 2022

Though India failed at the semifinal hurdle, the T20 World Cup final at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday had an Indian flavour. Janaki Easwar, a 13-year-old girl of Indian origin, performed along with the Australian rock band Icehouse before Pakistan took on England in front of more than 90,000 spectators.

After Team India crashed out of semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2022, Janaki Easwar has been the young Indian-origin singer who is the buzz of finale in MCG. The young singer rocked the historic ground where England locked horns with Pakistan.

Who is Janaki Easwar?

Janaki is a 13-year-old from Australia who is set to perform in the closing ceremony of T20 World Cup 2022. Easwar will be performing alongside Australian rock band Icehouse. The Australian singer rose to fame in 2021 to become the youngest ever contestant of ‘The Voice.’

Easwar parents have been living in Australia from 15 years but they hail from Kerela’s Kozhikode.

“Performing in front of a massive MCG crowd and getting broadcast to millions of people globally will be an unbelievable experience. My parents are ardent cricket fans. It is through them that I got to know the magnitude of this opportunity,” said the young singer while in media conversation with Indian Express.

Janaki Easwar excited to perform in World-Cup final

Janaki Easwar made her TV debut in traditional South Indian and she aims to represent her Indian and Australian Culture.

“I heard that the tickets are already sold out. I am looking forward to performing and also the game. It would have been nicer if India played the final, though,” she said.

“I believe the way I represented my culture on national television also helped as the performance at the World Cup final is going to be a great representation of multicultural Australia,” she further added.

England Beat Pak To Win T20 World Cup 2022

The ICC Twenty20 World Cup that concluded at Melbourne on Sunday, granted relevance to cricket’s shortest format. Lost in the medley of domestic leagues ranging from the Indian Premier League to the Big Bash, T20Is often become an after-thought in bilateral contests. A few games are casually held while the respective cricket boards tend to fatten their own indigenous leagues. With franchise-cricket mushrooming across the limited cricketing world while the globe at large favours football, the willow game needed a sense of permanence in a format that is often seen as a blink-and-miss routine.

Picture : Money Control

Tests and ODIs have their own votaries but T20s are seen as a backyard clash marinated in top dollar and hype. The T20 World Cup alters that perception once in two years and the latest event at Australia was no exception. That England, steeped in the tradition of Test cricket won the trophy is bound to grant the format some heft even if the commercial muscle rests with India. It is also a tribute to the flexibility coursing through the Old Blighty’s coaching infrastructure that the administration there treats Tests, ODIs and T20Is as distinctly unique formats by which even team-composition and attitudes are customised. That Joe Root does not figure in England’s T20Is is a pointer to keeping sentiment at bay.

Squaring up against England in the summit-clash was Pakistan. Even if the climax favoured Jos Buttler’s men and their power-cricket, Babar Azam’s troops showed that the fast bowling riches within Pakistan remain intact. Despite a meagre 137 for eight, Pakistan was able to stretch the contest due to its pacers even if Shaheen Afridi limped off towards the end. If England and Pakistan shrugged aside a middling group-stage performance to stay the course, India and New Zealand were the form-teams in the initial rounds before fading out.

The Men in Blue rode on Virat Kohli’s consistency, Suryakumar Yadav’s chutzpah and reasonably effective bowlers before they unravelled against England in the semifinal. That India needs kinetic energy in the way it approaches T20Is has become a non-negotiable requirement. The trope of staying long and then exploding at the death may work in ODIs but is a weakness in the shortest version. With key players in their mid-thirties, Indian selectors need to infuse fresh blood. Equally, that defending champion Australia and South Africa crashed out while Ireland and the Netherlands staged upsets, points to the evolution within the T20 segment. Meanwhile, the failure of the West Indies to even qualify proved tragic as the men from the Caribbean are intrinsic to cricket’s health.

The ICC Twenty20 World Cup that concluded at Melbourne on Sunday, granted relevance to cricket’s shortest format. Lost in the medley of domestic leagues ranging from the Indian Premier League to the Big Bash, T20Is often become an after-thought in bilateral contests. A few games are casually held while the respective cricket boards tend to fatten their own indigenous leagues.

With franchise-cricket mushrooming across the limited cricketing world while the globe at large favors football, the willow game needed a sense of permanence in a format that is often seen as a blink-and-miss routine. Tests and ODIs have their own votaries but T20s are seen as a backyard clash marinated in top dollar and hype.

The T20 World Cup alters that perception once in two years and the latest event at Australia was no exception. That England, steeped in the tradition of Test cricket won the trophy is bound to grant the format some heft even if the commercial muscle rests with India. It is also a tribute to the flexibility coursing through the Old Blighty’s coaching infrastructure that the administration there treats Tests, ODIs and T20Is as distinctly unique formats by which even team-composition and attitudes are customised. That Joe Root does not figure in England’s T20Is is a pointer to keeping sentiment at bay.

Squaring up against England in the summit-clash was Pakistan. Even if the climax favoured Jos Buttler’s men and their power-cricket, Babar Azam’s troops showed that the fast bowling riches within Pakistan remain intact.

Despite a meagre 137 for eight, Pakistan was able to stretch the contest due to its pacers even if Shaheen Afridi limped off towards the end. If England and Pakistan shrugged aside a middling group-stage performance to stay the course, India and New Zealand were the form-teams in the initial rounds before fading out. The Men in Blue rode on Virat Kohli’s consistency, Suryakumar Yadav’s chutzpah and reasonably effective bowlers before they unraveled against England in the semifinal.

That India needs kinetic energy in the way it approaches T20Is has become a non-negotiable requirement. The trope of staying long and then exploding at the death may work in ODIs but is a weakness in the shortest version. With key players in their mid-thirties, Indian selectors need to infuse fresh blood. Equally, that defending champion Australia and South Africa crashed out while Ireland and the Netherlands staged upsets, points to the evolution within the T20 segment. Meanwhile, the failure of the West Indies to even qualify proved tragic as the men from the Caribbean are intrinsic to cricket’s health.

The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India.
Madan Godara

Everyday Elite: Madan Godara is running to inspire as many to make it their lifestyle!

It is always a privilege to be able to bring the legendary voices from across India and their inspirational tales of grit and determination. In this series, we connected with some iconic runners from across the country. They generously took out time to share with us their inspirational tales of courage and achievement.

We kick off the series with the one and only Madan Godara aka Haryana Roadways. He headlines many marathon events as brand Ambassador and “Mentor de fitness”. Fondly known as respected Godara Sahab or Madan Sir, he is much loved by the young brigade of runners who have had the good fortune of being groomed by him over the years.

What makes Madan Godara’s story special is not just the myriad accolades and podiums that have come his way, but the man himself. A retired army man turned entrepreneur discovered running by chance when at his place of business an overweight colleague proudly showed him his new shiny marathon medal. It piqued his interest and he asked himself the question ”Why not me ?” What followed was something astonishing and unthinkable.He attempted his first 10km at the next marathon event in his city and finished it in record time of 48 minutes. With this run he clearly made a record of sorts and soon became a force to reckon within the Indian running scene. Ever since there has been no looking back for this running icon. With his no excuses attitude, he proves his mettle year after year.

Now he says that running is synonymous with living life itself and his daily mandatory minimum 5km run is like “manna from heaven”. You can catchup with him at various national events where he would be busy winning podiums with his running group, Dwarka Xpress runners or you would find him at 4:30am on the running track mentoring young group of local runners. With official 100 half marathons under his belt, 15 full marathons, 100km night runs and various podiums this 57 years old Ultra runner has many unbeatable records to his name.

He recounts, however, that it is only when he took on the unbelievable XXX trail run in 2018, did he come face to face with his biggest running challenge yet. Three days of incessant running in the urban forest called the Aravali Bio Diversity Park in Delhi involving back to back long runs daily was not just challenging physically but also a tough mind game. Conquering this run, which was a  mix of soft and hardsurface with gradient steep stretches, was by far the most gut-wrenching but surprisingly satisfying running experience for him. Over the course of the next 3 days he relentlessly smashed his daily goals and in his own characteristic style  and came out a jubilant overall winner of this event.

He believes that everyone should adopt running as a lifestyle to keep fit and alert throughout the day. He knows that while all might not be able attempt a 10km on their first run but they should at least start running slowly and gradually increase mileage with correct running form with some consistency. His suggestion to any novice runner is not to go for speed and pace initially and focus on gaining muscle strength to remain injury free as an athlete.

He is avidly looking forward to the race season in the year 2023 and is a huge advocator of discipline and setting morning routines. He is currently training to try and best his time at the New Delhi Marathon 2023. With this next milestone he would be closer to his dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

If you are ever in New Delhi you can be sure to catch him at the starting line of plenty of other races in the future.
You can also follow him on his inspirational Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/madan.godara.169

While a New year offers possibility of 365 days stretching out in front of us , the end of the year especially the November month offers as much opportunity to fall into good habits. Hope these nuggets of inspiration coming to you in the month of November from our “Everyday Elite” series inspire you to finish the year on a high and achieve all your fitness goals.

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India
Monika Kadian

Everyday elites train for many years and embrace disciplined routines and habits to take control of their health and achieve their fitness goals. Our everyday elites are accomplishing amazing things despite challenges like pandemic and physical limitations. There is something unique about each runners story but the universal pride that comes from crossing the finish line is one common factors in most of their stories.

“Everyday Elite” Monika Kadian, made her mark as a ultramarathoner by fighting illness and injury”

Our running icon for this series Monika’s story is one of extreme grit and determination. Mother of two and an iconic long distance runner with one of the most popular running groups in New Delhi, she is nothing short of a powerhouse of resilience. In a span of just a few years she went from barely managing running a few rounds of her local park to tackling ultramarathons across the nation. Any race less that distance seems too short for her now.

She runs with the spectacular family-oriented running group in Dwarka where she has been groomed to take on long distance running as lifestyle. She had struggled a lot with severe depression and now believes that running is her life saver. Running has not only help her shed a significant amount of weight but also helped her gain a positive outlook on life. She has managed to remain lean and fit with consistent running and no longer requires medicines to cope with the myriad issues that affected her health prior to her running journey. She singlehandedly with her dedication and hard work, has worked towards achieving her goals to stay fit . It is Monika 2.0 all the way.

With her unstoppable spirit she powered on to come on top of the 100 days of running challenge 2020 (HDOR) womens’ category, DXR. She won by covering an impressive distance of a whopping 2100kms in 100 days and it would be safe to say that with this feat she pretty much blew away her competition. By running an average of 21kms daily she proved that if she puts her mind to it she can achieve anything. She remembers that challenge as an unforgettable moment of triumph and satisfaction. She gives the credit to her running routine, an essential tool that helped her reinvent herself.

Taking on the challenge of each Ultra-run as a test of mental toughness she has grown from strength to strength with each passing year.

She has shown that with dedication one can steer one’s destiny and achieve any goal. She has made her mark in the running community by running unbelievable distances at various Stadium runs and Ultra-running events. She is now an inspirational runner to follow in the world of women’s running and has been setting the bar high with each of her spectacular runs. Now armed with her ultra-running super powers, she is leaner and mentally alert and she is all about taking on the next challenge. She has proved to be true superstar of running and definitely a name that no one should forget especially those who saw her valiantly overcome her battle with depression. A humble and extremely hardworking runner she gives all the credit of her success to her vibrant running group DXR . When not competing at various Ultra runs she is seen actively taking time to pay forward the gift of running to mentor young aspiring runners .

This year too she is gearing up to smash her own personal record at the upcoming Stadium run in New Delhi. She is gearing up to challenge her fitness levels by pushing her pain threshold as she feels that it is the only way she can continue to grow as a runner. She views running as a meditative process and she can’t imagine her life without its myriad benefits. Her motto is to keep doing better each time that and is looking forward to always better her athletic performance. Either which way we know that she will continue writing her very special ultra-running story, each and every time. You can follow her tales of grit on this Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/monika.kadian.718an

 

Next time you are thinking of skipping a run or miss a workout just keep these stories of grit and determination of these relentless ‘everyday elites” handy and ensure that your cup of motivation always keeps brimming to the hilt. These stories will surely get you excited to chase your own fitness goals.

“Everyday Elite”runners of India
Ritesh Udar

Each story of this series unfolds a different and unique running trajectory of an “Everyday Elite”. The readers get a VIP access to some awe-inspiring stories, an inside peek into some of  he biggest running challenges they have conquered and a very first look at their impressive upcoming year’s goals.

You may ask, why runners are so invested in the idea of challenging ourselves? Why do they do difficult things like long-distance running and embrace discomfort in order to grow? To find answers to these often asked questions we take a look at the sensational running journey of a young suave Pastry Chef from New Delhi. Having started running only 4 years ago, Ritesh Udar, our “Everyday elite” was trying to beat the monotony of his life and to increase his energy levels. His stint with the mad-mad world of ultra running, however, came during the covid lockdown period. The pandemic years seemed to have offered him a unique window of opportunity. With so much free time at his disposal Ritesh could not leave it at that. With running in his very DNA it wasn’t long before he started running long distance regularly. Months of disciplined training , deep determination, faith and encouragement from his running group saw him take his running trajectory to phenomenal heights.

Now running is an integral part of his life and the biggest takeaway for him is the importance of staying fit and active. He is a big advocate of being a part of any vibrant running groups and has completed unbelievable distances with his team mates. There has been no stopping him ever since and his iconic podium finishes at various long distance marathon events has earned him the name of the “golden boy” in his running group. He is determined to keep winning and he challenges himself to run longer distances each year and keeps relentlessly smashing his our personal records with each new run challenge.

He has run a total of 400 Half marathons, 15 full marathons , 15 ultra runs and a 24 hr stadium run till date. A truly superhuman feat, in such a short span of time, proving that he is an ultra marathoner extraordinaire, running unimaginable distances at unbelievable speeds.

He says however that the biggest achievement he felt was when he was asked to be a part to the dream team “The Great India Run” which ran continuously from Lal chowk, Kashmir to their final destination, Delhi. This run was organised to commemorate the occasion of the 75th Independece Day celebration in support of the “Har Ghar Tiranga campaign“ August 2022. Despite gruelling physical and psychological demands of this run, Ritesh powered on with his characteristic smile and triumphantly conquered each milestone with his teammates. The sheer magnitude of such a run would be a gut punch for any runner. Not for Ritesh. For him it was “pure ultra running”, an opportunity to again push his body beyond all limits and go beyond his pain barrier. The event went on to be an unmitigated success. This phenomenal performance has cemented his place among the top ultramarathoners of the country who thrive in challenging themselves to run further and longer.

Being the unstoppable elite runner that he is, instead of using the next few months for recovery we saw him head to Ladakh to take on the Khardungla Challenge (72km kms) which is the highest ultra marathon in the world. An event of this magnitude, set at a height of 17618 ft above sea level is an experience of a lifetime for any runner. Nothing is easy at this altitude let alone run a strong 72 km.

Unstoppable and on a high after achieving this once in a lifetime milestone he powered on to completed another awe-inspiring run, The Ladakh marathon(42kms), the very next day. Finishing two back to back tough ultra marathons in the most unbelievable time frames, surely leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind about Ritesh’s mental calibre as a legendary runner . His record breaking crazy attempts at unbelievable distances is a constant source of jaw dropping amazement and inspiration.

The numbers are stunning if you look at any marathon and his unbelievable finish times. Ritesh, of course, stays grounded and humble in his characteristic style and proudly basks in the attention that it brings him. As a runner he is determined to continue his running fervour and move forward boldly with confidence. Running is a time when he feels that there is magic in the air, his special time. He does not take his time for granted and keeps busy with training for his next running goal. He has set his goal is to try and Run a sub 3 hour full marathon in 2023. We are sure he would achieve his goal without blinking an eye considering his desire and willpower and deep love for the sport. You can follow this amazing everyday athlete on his Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ritesh.udar

We wanna make sure that our readers a just an inspirational story way from getting back on the track and towards a healthy lifestyle. So this hoping you manage to end the year on a high and do not let anything derail your life’s journey from the path of being fit and healthy.

Series: The Incredible “Everyday Elite” runners of India
Nandan Barua

As most of you are aware, runners are a special lot of individuals. They persevere relentlessly, thrive on pain and are passionate about beating their personal best records with each every marathon event that they compete in. Their consistency is inspiring and their sheer determination to cross the finish line makes running look like an effortless sport . Each kilometre that they have covered daily is as important to them as breathing itself.

Everyday Elite Nandan Barua is running to live his best life yet!

Champion runner and father of two, Nandan Barua, wrote his own personal fitness success story and highlighted it with his determination to never give up under any circumstance. Running for him is not just about amazing marathon runs, but about leading a healthy life, improving his fitness and feeling good inside his skin. For him it is all about keep his morale high, pushing himself out of his comfort zone and eventually winning the most difficult fight, the fight against oneself.

He is a Samsung electronics professional working in the corporate field for the last 20 years. He started his incredible running journey not in very ideal circumstances. A freak accident had confined him to full bed rest for a painful 2 months in 2013. An accomplished athlete playing football and track since his early college years this debilitating injury made him dig deep about his next course of action. With broken knees and spirit weakening with each day he knew at that point in his life that the only way he could bounce back into a meaningful existence, mind and body, would be too push himself towards a new goal. He pinned his hopes on running a half marathon as soon as his doctor gives him a go ahead. His body slowly recovered and the pain started ceasing and soon he started preparing himself mentally first for the big challenge that he had planned for himself. With Airtel Half Marathon dreams in his mind he slowly started training and struggled to push past his weakness, a little bit everyday. With a stubborn self belief and sheer hardwork, he powered ahead closer to his goal. When the event date arrived he successfully ran his half marathon and achieved his goal and gained an unwavering new sense of confidence in his physical capabilities and mental calibre.

He has shown that one can steer life from weakness to strength . With this new strong sense of achievement he went on to take on running daily as a lifestyle and has been running ever since. He knows now that whenever he needs motivation he just needs to look inside himself. Despite the difficult and uncertain times we currently live in, especially post- pandemic, Nandan lives his life knowing that this discipline is his lifeline to be fit. Now he truly believes that running is his therapy and advocates disciple and commitment to make seemingly impossible tasks become a reality.

On weekdays you would see him pounding the streets with some envious legwork in the wee hours of morning where he manages a cool 5-6 kms run without fail. He also is quite fond of his weekend runs with his fellow running group members, chit-chat long slow distance runs as they call it, especially on Sundays.

He believes the mantra that in 30 days one can create a habit, and this good habit can change the subsequent 30 years of ones life . Disciple is key he says, “Keep your mind strong and keep growing.” His advice to aspiring runners is admire all fellow runners but not try to copy them blindly. He says, “.. each runner is unique and inspiring in their own way ..so come what may, just don’t give up..”

With an envious and challenging goal of 2000 kms in year 2023 he is all set to test his tough at the Tata Mumbai marathon in January 2023. You can follow his inspirational journey on. His Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nandan.barua.58

These tales of the “Everyday elite” will take you on a journey of accomplishment and growth, new friendships, self – determination and the feeling of an overwhelming sense of joy that they must have felt on achieving the ultimate goal, crossing the finish line. Watch this space for more such inspiring tales.

Kohli Becomes The Highest Run-Scorer In Men’s T20 World Cup History

Star Indian cricketer Virat Kohli on Wednesday became the all-time leading run-scorer in the men’s T20 World Cup history during his team’s Super 12 match against Bangladesh, here.

Kohli reached the milestone when he crossed 16 runs in the seventh over of India’s innings, going past former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene’s record tally of 1016 runs. The Indian batter now has 1065 runs with an average of 88.75 and a strike rate of more than 132.46 in T20 World Cups.

Playing in his fifth T20 World Cup, the 33-year-old became the competition’s highest run-getter in only his 23rd innings, having scored 12 half-centuries. In comparison, Jayawardene had played 31 innings to set his record, though he faced fewer balls (754 balls) than Kohli did (773).

After Kohli and Jayawardene, Chris Gayle (965), Rohit Sharma (921) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (897) are at the third, fourth and fifth spot on the list of all-time run-scorers in the T20 World Cup history.

Picture: MINT

Kohli scored 185 runs in his maiden T20 World Cup in 2012; he was the competition’s top-scorer in 2014; and the second highest run-getter in 2016. He was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in the 2014 and 2016 editions, making him the only male cricketer to win the award twice. His six Player-of-the-Match awards are also the most in the tournament’s history.

The star batter began the 2022 T20 World Cup on 845 runs and scored two consecutive unbeaten half-centuries — against Pakistan and Netherlands — before being dismissed for 12 against South Africa.

Former India skipper also holds the record for being the highest run-scorer in all T20 internationals, and is ahead of Rohit, Martin Guptill, Babar Azam and Paul Stirling on the list.

Kohli’s brilliant knock (64 not out off 44) helped India beat Bangladesh by 5 runs via DLS method to go top of the table in Group 2 and inch closer to a semifinal berth at the ongoing T20 World. (IANS)

India’s Men’s And Women’s National Cricket Teams Will Have Equal Pay

(Reuters) – India’s men and women cricket teams will be paid the same appearance fees to represent their country, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Jay Shah said on Thursday.

The agreement will see women’s players at international level receive the same match fees as men across all formats – 1,500,000 rupees ($18,225) for tests, 600,000 rupees for one-day internationals and 300,000 for Twenty20 internationals.

The announcement was made on Thursday by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s Secretary Jay Shah. “We are implementing pay equity policy for our contracted BCCI women cricketers,” he said. “The match fee for both men and women cricketers will be same as we move into a new era of gender equality in Indian cricket.” Earlier this year, the BCCI said that a fully fledged women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) could begin as early as next year.

“We are implementing pay equity policy for our contracted BCCI women cricketers,” Shaw wrote in a post on Twitter. “The match fee for both men and women cricketers will be same as we move into a new era of gender equality in Indian cricket.”

Indian women’s cricketers currently earn 400,000 Indian rupees for test appearances and 100,000 for T20s and ODIs, and also play less cricket than their male counterparts.

Shah did not say whether there would be changes to the contract system for women.

Under their current annual contracts, women cricketers in the highest bracket earn 5 million rupees, while Grade B players take home 3 million and Grade C, 1 million.

Men in the Grade A+ bracket are paid 70 million, with those in Grades A, B and C taking home 50 million, 30 million and 10 million respectively, meaning the lowest graded male cricketers still earn twice as much as top-tier women cricketers.

India’s women’s team is ranked fourth in both the ODI and T20I rankings and beat Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup this month to claim a seventh title.

Virat Kohli Leads India To Incredible Four-Wicket Win Over Pakistan At T20 World Cup

In the build-up to the India-Pakistan Super 12 clash of Mens T20 World Cup at a sell-out Melbourne Cricket Ground, rain threatened to disrupt the biggest match of the tournament. But it set the base for one of the most thrilling cricket matches of the year.

With 90,293 fans at the iconic stadium and more than crore fans tuning in from around the world, the stage was set for something surreal to happen on the fourth Sunday of October. There was awesome swing, extra bounce, tearaway speed, momentum shifts, unreal strokeplay and spine-tingling drama on display on the eve of Diwali.

The biggest fireworks for the match, though, came from Virat Kohli’s bat which lit up the Melbourne night sky. The talismanic batter re-iterated why he is one of the best chasers in cricket, slamming an unbeaten 82 off just 52 balls and powering India to an incredible four-wicket victory over Pakistan in their first Group 2 match.

After the right-left fast-bowling duo of Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh picked three wickets each to restrict Pakistan to 159/8 in their 20 overs, Kohli and Hardik Pandya (40) shared a match-winning stand of 113 off 77 deliveries, lifting India from 31/4 to chase 160 on the last ball to get their campaign off to a winning start.

As India scored 55 runs in 11-15 overs, Pakistan brought back Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, who gave away just six runs each in the 16th and 17th overs respectively. With 48 needed off the last three overs, Kohli brought up his fifty by fetching a short ball from outside the off-stump to pull Shaheen Shah Afridi through mid-wicket for four and ended the over with another four, swivel-pulled over short fine leg.

Kohli then smacked back-to-back sixes off Rauf in the 19th over — a straight loft down the ground was followed by using the pace of the ball to flick off wrists over fine leg – to make it 16 runs needed off the final over.

Mohammad Nawaz dealt a huge blow on the first ball of the final over when Pandya miscued the slog and the thick edge went to cover-point. On the fourth ball, Kohli smacked a waist-high full toss high over a deep square leg fence for six, which was on a no-ball.

After Nawaz conceded a wide, Kohli and Dinesh Karthik ran three byes on the free-hit delivery before the latter was stumped on the fifth ball. Nawaz conceded a wide yet again and Ashwin finished off the chase with a loft over mid-off to win a thriller for India.

In pursuit of 160, India had a shaky start when K.L Rahul chopped onto his stumps off Naseem Shah in the second over. Two overs later, Haris Rauf had Rohit Sharma poking tentatively at a 145kph length ball and a thick edge flew to the first slip, who dived low for a sharp catch.

Suryakumar Yadav sweetly punched a drive off Rauf and then pulled off the front foot over mid-wicket to collect a brace of fours. But the right-arm pacer had the last laugh as his back of the length ball on stumps cramped Suryakumar for room, who looked to cut the ball away.

All he could do was to nick behind to the keeper, leaving India at 26/3 in 5.3 overs. Things went from bad to worse for India as a mix-up in the middle for a non-existent single resulted in run-out of Axar Patel.

Kohli and Pandya took some time before the latter drilled a straight drive off Shadab and smacked two sixes over long-on and deep mid-wicket off Nawaz, sandwiched between Kohli launching a glorious six over long-on to make it 20 runs off the 12th over.

Apart from collecting plenty of twos with Pandya, Kohli brought out his deft touch with a fine glance off Shaheen, cutting off his wrists past deep cover off Shadab and flicking past a diving short fine-leg off Shah to collect three quick fours, thus paving the path for him to be smiling with his arms aloft. It was a masterclass in chasing in front of a packed MCG.

Earlier, electing to bowl first, Bhuvneshwar Kumar found some swing in the opening over. Arshdeep bowled a perfect first delivery in his T20 World Cup debut by trapping Babar Azam lbw for a golden duck and then cramped Mohammad Rizwan for room on the hook, hurrying him for pace and extra bounce as the top edge was caught by fine-leg.

From 15/2 in four overs, Ahmed (51) and Masood (52 not out) set about resurrecting Pakistan’s innings, sharing a 76-run partnership for the third wicket. The change in gears came when Ahmed hit four sixes off six balls between the 11th and 12th overs — once off Ravichandran Ashwin and thrice against Axar Patel — to reach his fifty in 32 balls.

But Shami came back in the 13th over trap Ahmed plumb lbw. Pandya then took over to have Shadab and Haider Ali holing out to the outfield within five balls. He followed it up by cramping Nawaz for room and nick behind to the keeper.

Arshdeep struck on the fourth ball of his second spell, bouncing out Asif Ali and giving the keeper a simple catch off the glove edge. Masood cracked consecutive fours off Shami to bring up his third T20I fifty. Though Shaheen and Rauf applied finishing touches with some boundaries, 159 proved to be insufficient for Pakistan to keep Kohli and India away from victory.

Brief scores: Pakistan 159/8 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 52 not out, Iftikhar Ahmed 51; Hardik Pandya 3/30, Arshdeep Singh 3/32) lost to India 160/6 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 82 not out, Hardik Pandya 40; Haris Rauf 2/36, Mohammad Nawaz 2/42) by four wickets (IANS)

Mallikarjun Kharge Assumes Charge As President Of Indian National Congress

India/Profile Cover 5

Hectic preparations are underway at the Congress headquarters for the ceremony planned for October 26th, 2022, where party president Sonia Gandhi will hand over the baton to her successor, Mallikarjun Kharge, after India’s Congress party elected the experienced Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge as its president last week.

The first “non-Gandhi” to hold this post in 25 years, the veteran Congressman defeated diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor by a resounding majority. Of the total 9,385 votes cast, Kharge received 7,897 votes. Tharoor still surprised many by bagging 1,072 votes. Some 416 votes were declared invalid. Stating that “the process of revival of Congress has truly begun,” Tharoor has assured Kharge of all support.

Kharge’s victory is historic because he succeeds Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party leader, who has been in office since 1998, with the exception of the two years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul Gandhi presided. Kharge, an 80-year-old from the lowest rung of India’s caste system, is seen as a loyalist of the Gandhi family, which has produced three Indian prime ministers and is expected to retain its clout over the party.

That Kharge had the full support of the Gandhis was evident when outgoing President Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited Kharge’s home to congratulate him after his victory. Rahul Gandhi, who is in the midst of a countrywide long march, the “Bharat Jodo Yatra” (Unite India March), congratulated Kharge and lauded him for his “experience and ideological commitment” as well as his “democratic vision.”

The Congress hopes to revive its flagging fortunes with a new leader after losing two general elections and control of some state assemblies to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The most important issues facing the country right now is inflation, unemployment, a widening divide between the rich and poor and a growing environment of hatred spread by the ruling government,” Kharge told reporters after his win.

An Ambedkarite-Buddhist who has been with the Congress for over five decades, Kharge is taking over the leadership at a time when the party, rattled by defeats, disunity and revolts, is desperately looking for a national revival. 

He is the first full-time Congress president in three years, succeeding Sonia who has been at the helm since 1998, except for one and a half years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul was party chief. With his vast experience in governance and the organisation, Kharge assumes charge at a time when the Congress is at its weakest. The party is reeling from a series of electoral setbacks and the relentless exodus of leaders.

Kharge’s immediate challenge: the assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh later this year. In Gujarat, the party is widely viewed as having frittered away the gains of the previous polls, in which it had won 77 of 182 seats. There has since been an exodus of leaders from the Congress, which now has to deal with an aggressive Aam Aadmi Party as well.

Despite the change at the top of the Congress, the BJP, which advocates a hard-right, nationalist stance, appears to be in a strong position to win a third successive term in a general election due by 2024.

The 137-year-old Congress, which helped win India’s independence from colonial power Britain and then dominated politics for decades, has long championed a secular polity.

When it comes to CRICKET, SLING TV is the destination!

Denver, Colorado – SLING TV announced its Cricket series line up today that includes ICC fixtures and a variety of other series.

Sling TV offers the best cricket package available in the U.S. Between India vs. Australia, India vs. South Africa, ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, Pakistan vs. England & so many more matches, Sling offers fans the most year-round cricket available in the U.S. for the best price on the market.

For the upcoming ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, fans can watch the series for just $7/mo. compared to ESPN+ at $10/mo.

Sling will be showing all matches between Oct. 16 – Nov. 13 LIVE on Willow HD and Willow Xtra.

With a Sling subscription, fans will get exclusive features like Catch-Up TV that automatically saves every match up to 8 days after it airs. This feature is exclusive to Sling and will make viewing this year’s World Cup matches (held in Australia) far more convenient, considering the differences between U.S. and Australian time zones.

Bilingual commentary in Hindi and English for the entire World Cup and multiple screens which allows simultaneous viewing of any content on up to three devices.

Sling TV offers more than just Cricket for South Asian audiences. Sling is the only place that offers complete Desi entertainment packages with exclusive content, news, web series, dramas, family-friendly programs & cricket all in one place.

Top packages on Sling TV for South Asian Audiences: Desi Binge PlusSouth PlusUrdu Pack.

Desi Binge Plus – With SonyLIV, VOOT, MX ONE, EROS, Willow HD & Willow Xtra this pack offers top shows like “Scam”, “Kapil Sharma”, “Bigg Boss”, “India Idol”, “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, “Asharam” and more along with unlimited LIVE cricket.

GET THIS for just $15 $10/mo. for your first month – Limited Time Offer.

South Plus – With Simply South, Willow HD & Willow Xtra this pack is ideal for movie and cricket lovers. Get access to over 1000+ latest movies in Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam languages along with unlimited LIVE cricket.

GET THIS for just $10/mo.

Urdu Pack – This package offers subscribers the best of Pakistan dramas and entertainment, along with unlimited LIVE cricket. GET THIS for just $10/mo.

When you subscribe to watch cricket on Sling TV, you also get:

  • 50 hours FREE DVR, you can record and watch it when you want.
  • You can simultaneously watch on three devices.

Run with Mind not body!

Dwarka Xpress Runners the phenomenon that is rocking the Indian running community

DXR: “Naam to suna hi Hoga”

A few weeks ago at the Berlin marathon 2022 we saw history in the making, an inspiring performance by the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge finishing his marathon in record breaking time 2:01:09 shaving a full 30 seconds of his own marathon world record. Kipchoge, the 26.2 km goat , the marathon legend, gave a byte saying he had a feeling that he would do something momentous that day and “Oh boy “did he do it in style!.

Meanwhile approximately 5800 kms away from Berlin on the amicable streets of Dwarka, New Delhi, India , is a trailblazing group of elite runners resonating a similar spirit shown by Kipchoge in more ways than one. Each having an effortless smooth running form and not an ounce of wasted energy. Each believing that they would conquer the distance that they have set out to run on any given day.

Daily at 5am minimum 10 elite runners run with relaxed ease for two hrs as a part of the Vibrant running group DXR Dwarka Xpress runners (a 300 strong running group, 500+members including families).

Headlining this remarkable group is a duo of two legendary runners who need no introduction within the Indian running fraternity. At the helm the magical joint leadership of Sanjay Panghal (also know as the poet runner & Panghal Xpress)and the unstoppable endurance legend Ajeet Yadav. Both display daily that distance running is an easy and effortless feat and that anyone can run.

With ‘Run with the mind’ purpose these full-time Delhi Police cops initially started this small group in 2017 to keep themselves healthy and get their families and friends into a fun healthy lifestyle.

Even the Pandemic couldn’t stop the meticulous training runs of this strong group. During the period of Covid lockdowns they kept its members active by online sessions of physical activities. Some even few ran half marathons indoor. They were unstoppable as group.

Post covid they advised all runners to take any hint of illness, as a serious warning and encourage all to take regular health checkups. They made changes in training to include yoga and breathing exercises in it alongwith the Marathon training sessions.

Flanked on either side by other elite runners like Madan Godara(Haryana express)Dr Satish Sangwan(who has run every possible high altitude run in India) MP Jain, a Ladakh marathon veteran and Captain Satender Sangwan, who along with his unstoppable running and amazing wins at the national para games keep the group leadership vibrant. Supporting them in all their runs is also a brigade of elite young runners who eagerly participate and finish with record breaking timings as various marathon events across the country.

Each member of the group at some point has been groomed to run better by one or more of these fantastic athletes. It is a kind of selfless mentoring not many groups can boast off. The DXR elite share their wealth of experience with its members in their signature DXR style of sense of humour and light with.

DXR is a family running group so they have runners from age of 5 years to 85 years. They all participate in various events and win trophies for the team. The groups key ideology to keep the whole family fit is evident in the family run events that are planned by the group every now and then. From celebrating festivals with group runs to just a potluck luck of everyones favourite dishes after the run, there are many main innovative run ideas and themes that they share to bring the whole community running together .Dhoti- kurta/saree Run on Valentine day. Gol gappe, chhole bhature etc runs without taking any fees. Churma run, Chai pe charcha run are some examples.

Even after 5 years it is still a humble self-supported group with humble aesthetics and the maximum turnout is seen by members during fun family events. It surely is a display of pomp and show or as they call it “Dhamaal”.

These talented runners have managed to in such a short span of just 5 years make this run family grow to more than 300 families(500+ members). What started as a basic fitness group has lately produced some legendary runners who are podiums finishers at almost every possible Indian marathon and many extreme high altitude challenging runs like the Khardungle 72 kms challenge.

Talking about excellence in the field of running it is worth a mention that more than 10 runners are in century club of Half Marathons(100x21kms till date), 24 hrs running, 12Hrs running challenge and of course Ultra running(42km+).They are loved and admired for making so many members believe that one can take on this high endurance sport to stay fit. They are also a hugely popular group and an overwhelming favourite icon at every race at Delhi- NCR.The mere presence of DXR at any Delhi NCR event is nothing short of a talented display of timeless performance.

Even if we look at individual performances , Group member Ajay Kumar took DXR literally to the highest peak in Russia on July 2021 as he trekked and conquered this highest peak of the caucecous mountains which stands at 5642 feet above sea level.

He proudly adorned the peak with the national Indian flag and the DXR team flag. Few special DXR members Manish Aggarwal and Monika Kadian lost weight and showed that one could get healthy by regular running and are proud of their new lean healthy lifestyle. They are now fitness icons of their own accord now and an inspiration to many in DXR. They showed that with consistency and discipline all can achieve goals.

A few passionate runners even have tried the impossible feat, like Sanjay Panghal and Shashi Kant Sahu have been keeping a non-stop running streak since the early days of the group formation, running every single day. The unique quality that makes the leadership and each member want to be the best version of themselves in every which way is a true hallmark of the value of this running group.

5 years of DXR only shows an upward graph which is also synonymous with various milestones and setting the bar high for the entire running community. Including winning trophies by group members at every event be it at low oxygen level terrain of Ladakh FM, ADHM, National level Stadium Runs, All incline high altitude challenge Abu Run, Ultra Shivalik run, The toughest Tuffman Mashobra marathon and annual participation by the group in Hundred days of running(HDOR) just to name a few.

Apart from its many achievements and accolades galore Sanjay Panghal has a vision not just for running community but for society as a whole to have as many people adopt at least an hour of running/exercises to be fit and save on medical expenses.

Additionally, Leading from the front with an acute sense of giving back , Sanjay and Ajeet also ensure regular group plogging runs.

All the runners take out time to plog the whole Dwarka running track and area and end the event with planting some tree saplings. Sanjay and Ajeet both feel its their mission to inspire as many people to get into fitness through running.They truly believe that through running DXR will help its member achieve what they are truly capable of.

As they celebrate their 5th year anniversary DXR is set to have a “Dhamaal” of a show on 23rd Oct 2022 at Dwarka New Delhi. On this momentous occasion Sanjay Panghal and Ajeet Yadav take on the role of Race Directors of the momentous event . They plan to organise a self-supported grand marathon event in New Delhi in characteristic DXR style at a very nominal cost for maximum participation. From goodies like iconic celebration tees , filled goodie bags, customised medals and trophies for all age category winners they aim to make running and winning accessible to all.

Running is an high endurance sport which helps us examine ourselves and the world around us. Why we seek out pain and try to break our pain barrier in the unending search for our stronger selves is a question that can be only answered by these courageous folks who run for sport. The passion and sometimes mad fervour that drive individuals especially seen in this running group DXR make us want to seek out the scared little individual inside each of us who have an immense ability to endure but just does not know it yet . One thing is for sure , this sport is definitely not for the faint hearted and those who have reached the other side seem to be enjoying a piece of paradise and seem to want to share that experience with everyone.

Lifting weights for stronger bones! Running to save my life!

It all started in April 2014! I had just taken up retirement from my most sought after job as a Television Producer job after a 17 year stint. Working hard and thriving in a work environment where women were groomed to taken on large responsibilities, I had grown leaps and bounds each year and had the good fortune to produce award winning documentaries and prime time shows. The core team I worked with comprised of some of finest individuals that the Indian Television industry could boast of. It would be safe to say that I was quite content with my busy professional shenanigans. However change is inevitable and there was a phase where I knew I wanted to go solo. Having taken stock of our family’s mortgage, we were seemingly comfortable when it came to savings. I too was quite content with my life’s trajectory, professionally, at this point in life. My life could easily be the envy of any middle class girl of my generation in India. Yes, I had powered through and achieved a lot and thrived in an environment of opportunity at life and at work. I knew now, I wanted nothing else other than pursue my passion, Sugarcraft, as a business. This soft retirement and the glamour of being my own boss in a new business propelled me toward every right step that needed to be taken to start my own business. This was also a time when my husband and myself were still navigating through the chaotic world that all new parents deal with, working couple with a toddler in tow.

As I spent the next few months finishing a Diploma in Cakes and Confectionary(my dream) I was all set to lead the life, once again, that many could have only can dream of, especially if you knew my peer group. An early retirement from the corporate work culture and pursuing a business which is one’s passion, Wedding cakes, I was on a roll with not much to complain about. I spent the subsequent months working on the promotion of my business and taking on small orders from friends and family. Also during this time, all my culinary stars seemed to align in my favour and somehow all my favourite and top notch Cake artists seemed to travelling through New Delhi teaching their Craft. Yes, stuff like this happens. Only if you wish it as much as I did. Considering myself the luckiest girl in the world I signed up for all of these international pastry and sugar craft certifications even while my small business continued to thrive side by side. I was finally working on handcrafted Sugar wedding cakes and (my forte) gravity defying show-stopping Chandelier cakes. My social media accounts were buzzing with queries and my peers in my cake decorating work were connecting with me for collaborations. This time was my “Say yes to everything” time and I managed to make a small niche for myself as an aspiring new cake decorator in New Delhi ready to work on showstopper cake orders

As time went I started taking on bigger and more challenging cake orders. Gravity defying beach cake, 100000 customer number cake, even a three tier chandelier cake as a promotion for my alumni culinary institute to name a few. It was during this time that for a 30kg 6 piece cake structure delivery I realised that maybe I had pushed myself too much physically. The mental and physical stress of the cake order and the logistics took its toll. I delivered the order and headed home know that this pain I felt was not just fatigue and that something was majorly amiss. Even while the client was msging me ecstatic about the spectacular cake and how much it was loved, I was fast heading to my orthopaedic specialist. I had a similar incident many years ago a years in 2006 after another such stressful day at work. The Delhi Chief Ministers interview after my 8 hour morning shift in the studio. I remember so clearly that day because of lack of resources my camera person and myself were left to our own accord to haul the lighting equipment for the shoot back and forth. That strain of incident had put me flat on my back for straight 2 weeks with acute L4 L5 pain and I was out of action for over a month. The last time it took every ounce of mental energy to get back to normal life and live a pain free work life. We as humans never learn I guess. This time the doctors visit showed that my previous condition had worsened with the birth of my child and I had transitioned into the early stages of osteoporosis called Oestpenia. This time again I was flat on my back for two weeks and was on calcium and haemoglobin supplements for 6 months. My workaholism, bad eating habits and lack of exercise had finally taken a toll on my now 42 year old body. A wakeup call that I can have high power job and big dreams but unless I have my health I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed, let alone accomplish anything in life. The doctor had suggested to me to take supplements to replenish my system and mildly suggested I get active. I used to think that being busy meant being active and fit, clearly a mistake on my part. Did I ever think life would be like this for me. Not even in my wildest dreams. It was supposed to be smooth sailing and follow the usual trajectory after all I studied well, worked hard , acquired assets and had a lovely family. Life of course doesn’t always sync with one’s plan, I guess , at least for most of us.

As I headed back home from the doctor that day I remember seeing a new board of a CULT workout centre coming soon right opposite our place of residence. My husband suggested we both join the next week and try it out, our two bits as a family to stay active and fit. I was very apprehensive initially and usually felt totally out of place at this workout centre during the sessions. In two weeks somehow the first few classes gave me much relief and I started regularly reaching for the 6am class. The endorphins release helped me stay regular.

The daily routine was a mix of strength exercises with stretching and mobility and occasional lifting weights. I was feeling healthier that ever before. The 6ams continued for 3 months and I was already 4 kgs lighter and pain free. I even had a small gang of likeminded people who would workout with me at the class at 6am daily. In the fourth month of my continuous workouts my health checkup showed my calcium and haemoglobin parameters as normal and soon I became medicine free. I had lost a good 6 kgs in 6 months and felt fit as a horse. This time also saw me taking on new work responsibility and I joined with a culinary institute as a Chef Trainer where I continued for almost a year. Mentally I was buzzing ideas and super alert.

Soon I joined a group of runners. This was a popular, self supported group of runners called Dwarka Xpress runners(DXR) with two amazing Delhi cops at the helm. My run journey soon turned out to be the most fun roller coaster ride of my life. Regular running and every Sunday participating in marathons of various distances. When one starts investing in ones fitness and health then invariably we also meet like minded people who steer us closer towards our goals. Its when I joined the group I realised that we all shared the same passion to workout for minimum 1 hour daily and maintain a disease free life. I continued running as it helped me build my endurance level even more then just strength exercises at Cult. What followed was a routine workout schedule which looked like this, I used to run with my group of runners Dwarka Xpress runners at 5am and then head for a group strength class at 6am at Cult and then be home at 7am to send my daughter to school and by 9am I used to be on the Delhi metro at 9am , heading towards work as a Chef Trainer at my culinary institute. By the end of year of running with group regularly I had lost 12 kgs and was the fittest I had been my entire life at age 42

Hindustan marathon 2020

From not knowing how to do two pushups I am now running longer distances in marathons every month across the nation. It is a stark realisation that If I don’t challenge myself I won’t get stronger! People seem to be perplexed why I run so much and why I am so particular about my workouts. They don’t know what I know now, that my next day of healthy living depends on it! Literally this routine has saved me life. Now I have added so much value to the life I am living as I have health on my side.

I never have looked back and I try and never miss more than two days of exercise unless there is an an emergency. This was a new lease on life that I had received at age 42 and its my super power now.. Knowing how to take care of my health. I haven’t in 3 years visited the kind doctor who asked me to get active that doctor for an illness related visit( though I did bake an awesome showstopper cake for his daughter later). I know I may not have a such smooth sailing in another 10 years when my medical condition does catch up with me but till then I know there is no reason to live my best life yet.

Yes, there will be many times our well meaning plans would be waylaid and our life trajectory gets a little out of place. I too experienced a turning point with an unprecedented change of city with the family just before the pandemic hit in March 2020. In a new city and on an unclear lockdown, we as family continued coping with each crisis as it came our way. For me it was very clear, I will continue the one thing that has always worked for me, my workouts and running. I signed up for many marathon virtual events to keep myself fit and consistent. I became my own motivation, a solo runner. As the situation settled down, I continued this streak and started seeking out likeminded individuals in my city and people passionate about being fit, come what may. The result of this pursuit was the formation of a new fitness group in my new city in our very own own community. A few of us have embraced the daily 5ams and finish our run workouts well before our day even starts. The whole group meets regularly every weekend for group runs and dance workout sessions. Sometimes it just might be a family visit run /walk to a nearby lake or a city landmark but the key ideology of the group is to be continuously on the move. Some members call me their “superstar mentor” and “guru maa” but I know as a fact that formation of the group too works in accordance with own my goal to keep my future fit and healthy. This new role of paying it forward is maybe my own indirect way of showing gratitude to the running group where I was groomed to embrace running regularly as a lifestyle.. Call it what you may, It is hugely gratifying and is a big tick on my life’s mission.

Yes I am wiser now in the sense that I can see clearly the things that are out of my control and yes I accept those but I still wanna continue living my life with this optimistic mantra that I can really create a life where I can thrive and grow stronger, that I still have something in my control , my health. ‘Health is wealth’ is no longer just a cliche for me. I am a living proof of it. I have changed my life’s trajectory from hospital visits to now running marathons by making the biggest investment of all, Investing in myself and my health. Trust me when I say this! The only important question you need to ask ourself as you get older is , How are you going to invest in yourself in this coming year.?

MS Dhoni Launches ‘Made-In-India’ Drone At Global Drone Expo 2022

Indian cricketing star Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who popularized the ‘helicopter shot’ has launched a quadcopter consumer camera drone named ‘Droni’. The made-in-India camera drone with advanced features is manufactured by Garuda Aerospace, of which MS Dhoni is the Brand Ambassador.

Garuda Aerospace has created a niche for itself by offering drone solutions for agricultural pesticide spraying, solar panel cleaning, industrial pipeline inspections, mapping, surveying, public announcements, and delivery services and has now ventured into the consumer drone market with the latest offering – ‘Droni’. According to the company’s founder and CEO, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, the product will be available in the market by the end of 2022.

The event in Chennai also witnessed the launch of a new ‘Kisan Drone’ that is aimed at the agriculture sector, particularly in spraying applications. This battery-powered drone is capable of carrying out agricultural pesticide spraying over a land area of 30 acres per day.

Speaking at the event, Dhoni recalled that he had taken a keen interest in agriculture during the COVID-19 lockdown. He emphasized the role of drones for agriculturalists. Speaking at the launch, Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Founder and CEO, of Garuda Aerospace, “Garuda Aerospace is focused on creating high-impact solutions for numerous purposes.  Our Droni drone is indigenous and can be used for different surveillance purposes.  It is efficient, seamless and high quality from tech and build standpoint.  By providing Made-in-India drones, we hope to not just become aatmanirbhar(self-reliant)for demand of drones but also place India on the global map as a hub for superior quality, safe and secure drone and drone-based solutions.”

President of the Indian Drone Association and Former Wing Commander in the Indian Airforce, Anand Kumar Das said, “I am extremely delighted to serve on a platform where industry stakeholders connect to gain insights about the drone industry and happy to organize the Global Drone Expo with Garuda Aerospace. This platform will play a significant role in promoting the drone industry and fostering growth.”

The Global Drone Expo witnessed 1500+ participants from 14 international drone companies and representatives from over 28 states and union territories which attracted investors, youth and stakeholders and outlined a path forward for the drone industry.  Industry experts, farmers, dealers, distributors, people from the banking and insurance sectors, education-financial institutions, government representatives, pilots and various investors were provided a platform to gain insights into the drone culture and the various possibilities associated with the use of drones.

Fateh Club California Wins ‘Chicago Kabaddi Cup”

Wind blowing on the umbrella of clouds in the sky; sounds of ‘welcome’ to guests from the speaker; people under the tents on the trees and sitting on reclining chairs around the kabaddi field; gossiping somewhere along with gossiping Shugli; See the scenes of Kabaddi Seeing enthusiastic sports lovers and players playing with the claps of the audience with their game; apart from the daring to spend dollars on the waves of the dhavi and the hugs of the jugglers, sport organizations from far and near, socio-religious organizations People associated with C parties; Clubs Sponsors and associates receiving respect from the camera; The photographer taking photos by keeping his eyes on the camera as if he is saying ‘I want to take a photo of you beautiful… ‘; Video and Selfies; Foodie lovers are having fun somewhere and roaring somewhere and during singer Roshan Prince’s singing, Sher-e-Punjab Sports Club Chicago (Midwest)’s annual ‘Kabaddi Cup Cultural fair. ‘

 The fair started with a prayer of thanksgiving to the Almighty. Crowds were starting to turn out, but the fair had ended with plenty of participation until the semi-final match. The pinnacle of the final match was that people got up from their chairs to witness the tremendous sportsmanship of the players. Every single point was enjoyed by many. Many were so excited they couldn’t stop themselves from dancing. Along with the players, the spectators and the club members also became more fast and commentators Makhan Ali and Kala Rashin made the taste of the Kabaddi match double by taking the names of the players and describing the real situation.

Four Kabaddi teams competed in this Kabaddi Cup, including Sher-e-Punjab Sports Club Chicago (Midwest), Sant Baba Jawala Singh Harkhowal, Baba Seva Das North Carolina and Fateh Sports Club California. Final match between Fateh Sports Club California and Sher-e-Punjab Sports Club Chicago (Midwest). Players of both teams tried their best for ‘single-‘ single point, but Fateh Sports Club California bagged the winning cup by scoring three and a half points against Teti.

Several amateur athletes had tattoos on their arms, groves, necks, shoulders and backs. Some players who were constantly playing also felt pain in their muscles and had to seek massage and relieving pain-relieving spray from fellow players.

 When a person who was drinking by standing near the cars hit a Kabaddi player with a drink, he said clearly no, “No brother, hale to match…! “At the same moment a wise gentleman encouraging Kabaddi players made a humble plea that we should advise players to stay away from drugs.” Later, the person who made a deal of peg handed over dollars to the player saying that ‘Keep your pride brother… ‘

In addition, Kabaddi lovers were happy with the game of the players and encouraged them with dollars. Prizes distributed to the winning teams. Kabaddi cup best jaafi Aman kaonke kalan and best dhavi sultan special felicitated by Rajveer Gill of Regal jewellers. There were volleyball matches of children studying in schools, colleges, universities, but more crowd stayed around Kabaddi matches. Volleyball prize fair was sponsored by managing director Amarjit Singh Dhindsa and director Lakhvir Dhindsa. The sponsor of the cultural program was Lakhvir Singh Johal.

The chief guest was Gurinderjit Singh Grewal, a businessman from Madison (Wisconsin). They presented badges to the sponsors and players along with the club members. Club President Amritpal Singh Gill, Club members including Ajaib Singh Lakhan who has been associated with Kabaddi tournaments for the last twenty years – Amardev Singh Bandesha, Deepa Bandesha, Balwinder Singh Chatha, Santokh Singh D. C. I. C. C. Members including Lakhwinder Singh, Jasroop Singh, Parminder Singh Walia, Gurmeet Singh Dhaliwal, Amrit Mangat, Rana Bhandal, Raja Tallan, Parminder Aujla and other members were busy in welcoming the guest house and honoring them hand in hand. Club President Amritpal Singh Gill has thanked the club members, sponsors and guests.

Illinois State Representative Michelle Musman also attended the fair and was specially honored with a poster designed about ‘Contributions of Sikhs in World Wars’ by his Hindu response to the Sikh community.

Apart from pakoras-samosas, jalebi and hot tea along with curry-rice, rajmanah, parantha and naan were present for the fairs. The Kulfian Wala did not have much fun at this fair, as the day was cloudy and cold. Maybe this is why Sophie and the ladies tripped round tea and went past Mood Tarare car doors. Many Shugal remained limited to the fair, but some of the drunkards started to scold.

After the final match of Kabaddi, people walked towards the stage, while some people were already sitting in front of the stage. In Chicago, realtor Jagmeet (Jassie) Singh and Laddi from Philadelphia, Roshan Prince came to the stage to sing, but in order to reconcile with the people, he started to get off the stage and climb on a chair and sing; some of his Started singing back to back. Then he picked up a child and started singing, but the child became uncomfortable and started crying. When he sang “Dance as much as you want, then don’t say that I have stopped the music”, the audience in excitement started dancing too. “Whose cars have red lights… There must be something… Performed covers of other songs including “Suhe Ve Chire Walia” “Kala Doria”. He started to talk and people’s response he went on stage.

 Meanwhile, Roshan Prince invited public-standing singer Jasbir Gunachaurye on stage and shared his share with the audience. Then people got on stage and started taking selfies with him. Even some members of the club started taking pictures of their family members with the singer. Behold, some youths climbed the stage in drunken state, while security guards were also deployed to avoid crowd on stage.

There was a disruption in the singing programme, leaving Roshan Prince and the audience feeling the same, but some club members shunned the youngsters coming on stage in order to control the situation. Security seemed to have become a bit strict. Shortly from behind, a commotion erupted between the youth and the security personnel howling towards the stage. Seeing the situation getting bitter, a security guard sprayed pepper spray that the eyes of two underage boys, including some youngsters standing nearby, were also sprayed and they immediately started wondering.

In this panic, a young man fell next to the sturdy chairs near the stage and crashed into a table with a sound system. Due to severe irritation in the eyes, the condition of the youth, including two boys, also got worse. The singing stopped and all eyes were on the scene due to the chaos next to the stage, but Roshan Prince hurriedly got off the stage in his car.

On the other hand, some people washed the eyes of the victims by pouring water and they started doing some more backbiting. The victims felt some relief only after continuously pouring tears in their eyes for a while. Friends and family of the victims were surrounded by security personnel. The police personnel also reached the spot and, assaulting the situation, began to do tricks to keep the situation under control Friends and family members of the pepper spray victims were lodging a complaint against security personnel with police.

Some people were blaming the security and some were saying that even some of our Punjabi people do not refrain from drinking alcohol in such family fairs. Some people said the security guard should have worked hard, not pepper spraying pepper spray. Hamatad-Tumatad started throwing out their light anger: some against security personnel, some against drunk youth and some songs against the loosened arrangements of time. The infiltration was done and the ambulance also came for medical help.

India Loses Against Sri Lanka, May Not Qualify For Finals in Asia Cup 2022

Sri Lanka on September 6th defeated India in its fourth Super 4 match in the Asia Cup 2022 in Dubai by 6 wickets. With this, India is almost out of the tournament, as it lost to Pakistan in its previous match. India’s journey in the series depends on Afghanistan’s performance against Pakistan on Wednesday.

Responding to the Indian challenge of 173 runs, Sri Lankan openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis dominated from the beginning and crossed 50 runs in just five overs.

After losing the toss, the Indian batters made a sloppy start and lost KL Rahul to Maheesh Theekshana and then followed the wicket of Virat Kohli to Sri Lankan bowler Dilshan Madushanka.

However, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma held the ground with Suryakumar Yadav for a good partnership crossing the mark of 100 in just 12 overs. But, soon India lost its skipper Rohit Sharma played a captain’s knock of 72 runs in just 42 balls, hitting 4 sixes and 5 fours. Suryakumar Yadav too followed Sharma and walked to pavilion by scoring 34 runs in 29 balls.

Hardik Pandya and Risabh Pant both scored 17 runs each and walked to pavilion. Following this, the Indian batting collapsed, and however, India managed to put 173 runs in 20 overs by losing eight wickets.

Pathum Nissanka scored an important 52 runs in 37 balls and while Kusal Mendis scored 57 runs in 37 balls.  Like in the previous match against Pakistan, Indian bowlers hardly managed to impress and failed to take early wickets. Though spinner Yuzvendra Chahal took 3 wickets, while Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Danushka Gunathilaka.

In the final over, 22-year-old Arshdeep Singh bowled exceptionally to keep the match neck and neck but an overthrow and fielding error allowed the batsmen to run between the wickets and take the game from the Indians.

With this win, Sri Lanka sits at the top of the points table, while India has been virtually knocked out and they will depend on the results of both Pakistani games. The Island nation is currently at the top of the Super 4 points table with four points and an NRR of 0.3512, while Babar Azam-led Pakistan is second in the tally with two points and an NRR of 0.126.

Hardik Pandya Leads India To A stunning Victory Against Pakistan In Dubai

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja‘s heroics with the bat helped India defeat Pakistan by five wickets to win their first Group A match in Asia Cup 2022 at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday, August 28th. After Pakistan made 147 all out in 19.5 overs, India needed 59 off the last six overs on a two-paced pitch.

From there, Pandya (33 not out) and Jadeja (35) shared a stand of 52 runs off just 29 balls. Even though the left-handed Jadeja fell in the final over, Pandya finished off things with a six over long-on to take India over the line and add another thrilling chapter in the history of India-Pakistan clashes.

Just like Pakistan, India had an eventful first over. Debutant pacer Naseem Shah struck on just his second T20I ball, as K.L Rahul inside-edged to his stumps. Virat Kohli, playing in his 100th T20I, was dropped by Fakhar Zaman at second slip while chasing a wide one. Kohli was nervous in his start as many inside and outside edges came off his bat.

He showed signs of his authoritative self when he pulled through mid-wicket off Shahnawaz Dahani in the second over. After a top-edge went over keeper’s head for a six, Kohli’s authority was visible in his slash through cover and whipping over mid-wicket to collect two boundaries.

Rohit Sharma, cautious till then, opened up in eighth over when he slog-swept Mohammad Nawaz over long-on. But the left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Rohit holed out to long-off on the final ball of the over. In his next over, Nawaz had another big scalp as Kohli chipped straight to long-off.

Jadeja started off his promotion at number four by smacking Nawaz down the ground for a 98m six. He and Suryakumar Yadav got a four each and relied mainly on strike rotation to keep the scoreboard moving.

The 36-run stand was broken by Naseem, who knocked off Suryakumar’s off-stump on the first ball of his second spell. With 41 needed off the last four overs, Jadeja and Hardik Pandya hanged in to bring the equation to 32 off the last three overs. Like India, Pakistan too were penalised for a slow over rate as one extra fielder came into the 30-year circle.

By then, Pakistan were struggling as their pacers got cramps and Jadeja survived an lbw appeal off Naseem Shah clearly in pain after a review showed the ball pitching outside the leg-stump. On the very next ball, Jadeja lofted with a straight bat down the ground for six as India needed 21 runs off the last two overs.

On the third ball of the 19th over, Pandya flat-batted Haris Rauf over extra-cover and got a boundary as Babar chased the ‘all, but couldn’t stop it from hitting the boundary rope. Pandya then swatted Rauf over wide long-on and brought out a short-arm jab on the last ball for a four splitting deep mid-wicket and long-on for perfection.

With seven needed off the final over, Nawaz struck on the first ball as Jadeja was clean bowled while going for an expansive slog. Pandya finished off the match in style by clobbering Nawaz over long-on to win an absorbing contest.

Pandya’s triple strike (3/25) in overs 11-15 meant Pakistan couldn’t really recover from it and crashed to 147 all out. With the bat, Pandya hanged around with Ravindra Jadeja to bring the equation to 32 off the last three overs. By then, Pakistan were struggling as their pacers got cramps and in the 19th over, Pandya flat-batted Haris Rauf over extra-cover and got a boundary as Babar chased the ball, but couldn’t stop it from hitting the boundary rope. Brief scores: Pakistan 147 all out in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 43, Iftikhar Ahmed 28; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-26, Hardik Pandya 3-24) lost to India 148-5 in 19.4 overs (Virat Kohli 35, Ravindra Jadeja 35; Mohammad Nawaz 3-33, Naseem Shah 2-27) by five wickets.

“I was remembering everything. I was being stretchered out of the ground, and it was the same dressing room. Yes, today I felt a sense of achievement because what I have gone through to come back and to get the opportunity… that journey is very beautiful,” said Pandya in a conversation with Jadeja in a video posted on bcci.tv on Monday.

“The comeback is greater than the setback.” With this line after India defeated Pakistan by five wickets in an absorbing Asia Cup 2022 contest, India all-rounder Hardik Pandya himself summed up his life completing a full circle in the Dubai International Stadium, seen from the pictures of 2018 and 2022.

“Hardik Pandya is the world’s best all rounder at the moment,” Wasim Akram raved on the night Hardik beat Pakistan with a stunning performance with the bat and the ball. All the usual Hardik signposts were visible: With the ball, the confidence to use the bouncer liberally, the hard lengths he is most comfortable with. With the bat, the careful deliberate positioning of the body and the areas he accesses and the eerie calmness, right till the end.

With Pandya now being able to deliver consistent all-round performances for India, it is a massive boost for the side ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.

India Bags 22 Golds At Commonwealth Games 2022

Badminton powers India to 22 gold medalsGolden double: Double Olympic medallist and world badminton champion P V Sindhu, ranked seventh, created history by not only winning her maiden gold medal — beating Michelle Li, ranked 13th, of Canada, the 2014 champion at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games (CWG) in straight sets, 21-15, 21-13 — at the CWG in Birmingham but also powering India to a double century of first place podium finishes — placing India fourth in the all-time gold medals list after Australia (998 gold medals), England (769 gold medals) and Canada (510 gold medals).

Golden hat-trick: It wasn’t just Sindhu who had the national anthem playing for her — in the men’s singles category, 10th ranked 20-year old Lakshya Sen rallied brilliantly from a set down to beat the 42nd ranked Malaysian Ng Tze Yong, 19-21, 21-9, 21-16. Adding the cherry on top were the men’s doubles duo of Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty who won India’s third gold medal in badminton in a single day by staving off the English duo of Sean Vendy and Ben Lane, 21-15, 21-13.

Golden comeback: It was a day of racquet sports, with India’s fourth gold medal of the day — and 22nd overall in this edition in its haul of 61 medals that also included 16 silver and 23 bronze — coming at the hands of Achanta Sharath Kamal, who, at the age of 40 and ranked 39th beat World No. 20 and 29 year old Liam Pitchford 11-13, 11-7, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8. To put things in perspective, Kamal, who had a brilliant run in what could possibly be his last appearance in CWG with a haul of 4 medals, including 3 gold, won his first CWG gold medal 16 years back, when Pitchford was just 13.

And the big miss!

The Indian men’s hockey team suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Australia as the kangaroos thrashed them 7-0 to win the gold, relegating the men in blue to a silver — their third defeat at the hands of the Australians in a CWG final who blasted five goals in the first half itself to take the game away from the Indians.

Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Vice President of AAPI Hosts Legendary Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar, Raising $54,000 Towards Heart to Heart Foundation

Legendary Cricket Star Sunil Gavaskar, well known around the world as an inspirational speaker, philanthropist, and the chairman of H2H Foundation has been on a Tour across the United States raising funds for Heart to Heart Foundation, which supports children with congenital heart diseases in India.

As a part of the fundraising tour, Gavaskar graced the home of Dr. Satheesh Kathula, an eminent Oncologist and the Vice President of AAPI. Several physicians and business leaders attended the fundraiser and they collectively raised $54,000, which supports 27 open heart surgeries.

“It was a memorable experience hosting the legend and raising funds for a great cause” Dr. Kathula said. “Mr. Gavaskar has really been spending his personal time and going one city to another to help children in need which is quite remarkable and commendable” he added. “He is one of the most humble people I have ever met” said Dr. Kathula. He thanked all the donors who made this possible with their generous contributions.

During the Meet & Greet event with Sunil Gavaskar, recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cricket inspired the hearts and souls of participants by telling us how India remains the world capital for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), with 300,000 children born each year.

Without medical/surgical care, over 25% of children die before their 1st birthday, contributing to over 10% of the Infant Mortality Rate and resulting in 250+ children dying every day; many more die in infancy or the preschool ages. Only a small fraction of children with CHD can afford the cardiac surgery, which can cost over $100,000 in the United States.

With frugal innovations in CHD care H2H Foundation has reduced the average cost of an open-heart surgery to only $2000$  per patient, which would otherwise be $75,000 to $125,000 in the United States and $5,000 to $9,000 in India. Gavaskar has personally sponsored 34 surgeries to match his 34 test centuries. The legendary cricket master is touring the United States to raise awareness and funds to support the cause.

Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children born with CHD, by providing FREE pediatric cardiac surgeries in collaboration with the group of Sai Sanjeevini Hospitals in India. Since February 2014, these hospitals have also been providing primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare exclusively to children with CHD and over 10,000 surgeries have been performed free of cost. 10,000 is also the number of innings played by Gavaskar. Additionally, for every test century, he has scored he has personally funded the same number of surgeries.

Gavaskar was the keynote speaker at the recently concluded AAPI Convention in San Antonio,  Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world. Gavaskar said “I really want to thank all the donors who opened their heart to help the children in need.”

Chicago Rowdies Beat Chicago Hurricanes In Cricket

Chicago Rowdies have been victorious in the three prior games that they have played, and Hurricanes came into their third game winning their past two games. This truly looked like a clash of the titans. Both teams have only local players vying for the topmost slot, and both teams are known to put their heart out when they compete.

Rowdies won the toss and decided to bat first. Skokie ground has proven to be favorable to the team batting first fifty percent of the time, which is not something you look past when you want to win. Pruthvish, captain of Hurricanes was not very pleased with the outcome of the toss but nevertheless took the field with his playing 11 to prove their might.

Rowdies’ openers Ahsan Syed and Wasim Patel both started off slow but steady. Garv the young gun who is only 17 looked like he was dominating the batters with Pruthvish providing ample support from the other end. But the Rowdies batters couldn’t be silenced past the third over. The fourth over yielded ten plus runs while the fifth was a devastating blow to the Hurricanes. Garv conceded 25 runs in the fifth over which accelerated the momentum for Rowdies. The initial partnership between Ahsan and Wasim yielded 59 runs. After Wasim’s departure the middle order did not rack up much in terms of partnership or runs. Liyakat Raja came in late but his contribution of 39 runs of mere 18 balls pushed the team total to 176 runs.

Urvish Desai’s spectacular bowling performance was the saving grace for Hurricanes. He hauled 4 wickets in 4 overs at a very economical rate of 3.25. Hardik Patel picked up 2 wickets at only 5.75. Salman Ahmed proved a little expensive but still managed to pick up 2 wickets. Garv and Pruthvish were on the more expensive side, both going for more than 11.00.

 With a solid total to chase the Hurricanes sent in Urvish Desai and Sunny Bhati. Urvish succumbed to a slow short ball and got out cheaply. Salman Ahmed who came in next put up a decent partnership with Sunny for 25 runs. Pruthvish and Sunny put together 41 runs but then succumbed to Liyakat. Sargam, Jay, and Jash did not do much damage. Aditya’s performance provided a glimmer of hope with his stellar 26 runs of 10 balls which was not enough to swing the game in the Hurricanes’ favor.

 Score: Chicago Rowdies: 176/9(20.0 Overs) Chicago Hurricanes: 158/8(20.0 Overs)Result: Chicago Rowdies won by 18 Run(s); Player of the Match: Liyakat Raja

Badminton Star Tanisha Crasto Given Golden Visa From The UAE

Tanisha Crasto of Indian heritage, one of the best new-generation badminton players, is the latest recipient of the UAE’s prestigious ‘Golden Visa’, an honor which is also awarded to elite athletes in recognition of their contribution to the sport.

At 19-years-old, she is one of the youngest beneficiaries of the visa, which grants her a guaranteed 10 years of residency in the country. Crasto is also considered one of the best new-generation badminton players, and the Golden Visa is often awarded to elite athletes such as herself in recognition of their contribution to the sport.

“What’s really special is that my visa lists me as a ‘professional athlete’ which is fantastic and really motivates me.” she said. “Previously my visa said ‘no employment.’ Now that I have the Golden Visa, I will be looking to play a lot more tournaments around the world. It’s going to be a great help because I travel out of Dubai for a lot of tournaments and now that I have the visa I can come and go freely.”

Tanisha, who was born in Dubai to Indian parents from Goa and studied at the Indian High School, Dubai, thanked the Dubai Sports Council for helping her secure the much sought-after 10-year visa.

“When I approached the Dubai Sports Council officials to enquire whether I was eligible for a Golden Visa, they responded positively and, before I knew it, called to say that my request had been approved,” she said.

Tanisha, who is essentially a specialist doubles and mixed-double player, says she can now turn her attention to improving her game and pursuing her lifetime ambition.

“My dream has always been the same — to win an Olympic gold medal,” she said. “But you can say that my current goal is to win a medal at the World Championships. That’s my immediate target.” The WBF World Championships take place in Tokyo, from August 21-28.

Tanisha, who trains under the watchful eye of former All England champion and current India coach Pullela Gopichand, explained why she essentially plays the doubles format.

“When I was younger, there were not enough players to play singles in Dubai,” she said. “So I used to play together with my Dad. Then over the years, I discovered that doubles was my calling.”

Tanisha is the first to admit that there is still a lot of improvement necessary in her game, to take it to the next level, and is prepared to work hard to achieve it.

“You never stop learning,” she acknowledges. “I believe I have so much more to learn about the game and I am confident that by training hard and with top players, I can grow my game, further.”

Tanisha joins a roll call of top sportsmen and celebrities who have been given a UAE Golden Visa including Portuguese football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, celebrated Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

44th FIDE Chess Olympiad Inaugurated In Chennai, India

A total of 187 teams in the open section will vie for the Hamilton-Russell Cup, and 162 teams in the women’s section for the Vera Menchik Cup at the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad in Chennai

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad was inaugurated on July 28 at the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai with fanfare, in the presence of Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, and M.K. Stalin, the chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu, the main initiator of the event.

A total of 187 teams in the open section will vie for the Hamilton-Russell Cup, and 162 teams in the women’s section for the Vera Menchik Cup, while the best combined results of a nation in both the sections will decide the winner of the Nona Gaprindashvili Trophy.

The Olympiad having over 2000 participants is being held for the first time in India, famously known as the birthplace of Chess. Addressing the gathering, the PM welcomed the players from different countries and expressed happiness that this year’s Olympiad is special as it is coinciding with the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations along with setting its own records.

From Napier Bridge to Guindy, from Adyar to Tambaram, the chess buzz has never enveloped Chennai as it has now. The evening witnessed a march-past of the participating teams and was a sound and music spectacle to behold.

A week ago, a video anthem was released wherein A R Rahman and Chief Minister M K Stalin are walking along Napier Bridge, which is painted black and white to resemble the squares on a chess board. Both are clad in all-white, flanked by dancers in black, resembling the pieces on a board, humming the anthem and shyly jiving.

The former world champion and one of Chennai’s own, Viswanathan Anand, could not hide his excitement. “I have never seen the city so excited about chess. I was so happy to see the bridge painted black and white and I am sure that everyone in the city would know about the Chess Olympiad,” he said.

Into the melee dropped superstar Rajinikanth, when he invited fledgling chess stars R Praggnanandhaa and his sister R Vaishali as well as their parents to his house. If the confluence of the biggest politician in the state, the biggest actor and the biggest music composer does not strike a chord, perhaps nothing would. The ambitious Tamil Nadu government, riding a wave of goodwill since the curbing of the pandemic, has pulled no shutters to celebrate the Olympiad.

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, too, was blown away by the city decked up to celebrate. “Tamil Nadu or say Chennai is the hottest hub of chess in the world now. So just to be there and be a part of the chess celebration is a reason in itself,” said Carlsen, who has abdicated his crown, announcing recently that he would no longer participate in the World Championship.

The grand old International Master Manuel Aaron, who began the city’s first chess club in 1972 at the Soviet Centre for Culture Studies, where Anand polished his game, feels his life is fulfilled. “I have never seen the city celebrating chess as passionately as they have now. I feel very fortunate that I could in some way contribute to the game’s following and popularity in the city. The popularity of the game will soar even further,” he said.

This is perhaps the impact that the Tamil Nadu government had envisaged when they began an aggressive push for the Olympiad — to stretch the game to the deep reaches of the city, those locales where chess is barely played, leave alone followed. The locality around the Napier Bridge that connects Fort St George and Marina Beach is not where you find children playing chess in every house. It’s not where you want to find your children, either. Not too long ago, driving at night along the bridge was considered dangerous, replete with stories of snatchers, pickpockets and even ghosts of British soldiers. Painting the bridge like a chess board is a metaphor, too.

It is undisputed that Chennai has been churning out Grandmasters more frequently than any other city in the country — 24 out of 73, apart from seven Women Grandmasters, 34 International Masters, 10,000-odd registered players — with a throbbing chess culture and history. But the game really is not as mainstream as it is hyped up to be. It is this gulf between the mass and the niche that the Chess Olympiad seeks to bridge.

Every pillar and post reminds you of the Olympiad. The faces of DMK luminaries, from the ruling party’s founder C N Anna Durai to former CM M Karunanidhi and now Stalin to the emerging Udhayanidhi Maran have been embossed onto a chess board. In every speech Stalin makes, there is a chess analogy or reference.

“Every one in the city is a king or a queen,” he said in a function. He has invited a clutch of ministers from neighboring states, and the buzz is that there might even be an alliance between him and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao. The only unhappy faces, so far, are in the city’s BJP unit, which has been demanding that photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi be added to the hoardings. Chess is no stranger to politics, after the numerous proxy wars on the board in the Cold War Era.

This edition of the Olympiad, from July 28 to August 10, is the first the country is hosting. India are seeded second in the open segment, fielding six teams, three each in men and women’s sections, with top-seeded USA and third-placed Norway, helmed by Carlsen, expected to put up a stiff challenge. But the gold that India shared with Russia in the last edition has infused a sense of optimism that they will win the Olympiad at home.

So much so that about 300 km from Chennai, in Thirupoovanur, a 14th-Century Shiva temple has gathered sudden attention because it’s called “Sathuranga Vallabhanathar”, literally translated as “King of Chess”. The story goes that the temple was built at the location where Shiva beat the daughter of the local king in a game of chess (“sathurangam” in Tamil) to marry her, an avatar of Parvathi. Add divinity to the mix, and this Olympiad has the makings of a wholesome blockbuster, a mass entertainer. Or as the Chennaities call it: “Mass-u!” (With inputs from The Indian Express)

Neeraj Chopra Wins Silver At World Athletics Championships

India’s Neeraj Chopra scripted yet another history, becoming only the second Indian to bag a podium finish to win a silver medal in the World Athletics Championships 2022.  World Athletics Championships are being held at Eugene, Oregon.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics javelin throw champion won the country’s only second medal at the World Athletics Championships, finishing with a historic silver in the men’s javelin final. The reigning World Champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who took gold with a humongous throw of 90.54m.

Chopra’s throw of 88.13m in his fourth attempt secured him not only a podium finish but also ended India’s 29-year-long wait for a medal at the World’s after Anju Bobby George’s bronze medal finish in the women’s long jump way back in 2003. The legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a medal — bronze — in the World Championships in the 2003 edition in Paris, France.

He is the first male track and field Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships, ending 19-year-long wait for a medal at the worlds. Chopra’s best effort of 88.13m in the final at the Hayward Field was short of Anderson Peters’ gold medal-winning mark of 90.54m. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch won the bronze with 88.09m. The 24-year old athlete earlier made the cut for the final courtesy an 88.39m mark in the qualification.

Chopra started with a foul throw and then registered 82.39m with his second attempt. He improved with his third attempt, when he threw the javelin 86.37m. He was still not set for a medal, but he registered a throw of 88.13m with his fourth attempt to shoot up to second place from fourth. His fifth and sixth attempts were foul throws. At the Tokyo Olympics last year, Chopra became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who clinched the yellow metal in 2008 Beijing Games.

Besides Neeraj, India’s second participant in the event Rohit Yadav bowed out finishing 10th with a best throw of 78.62m. Rohit’s first throw reached 77.96m, before he improved on it marginally by hitting the 78.05m mark. In what would turn out to be his third and final attempt, Rohit finished with his best effort of the competition but would overall be disappointed with his performance as he had had recorded a season’s and personal best of 82.54m while winning a silver at the National Inter-State Championships last month.

Neeraj Chopra Wins Silver At World Athletics Championships

Neeraj Chopra’s historic 88.13m throw gives India first-ever silver in World Athletics Championships

India’s Neeraj Chopra scripted yet another history, becoming only the second Indian to bag a podium finish to win a silver medal in the World Athletics Championships 2022.  World Athletics Championships are being held at Eugene, Oregon.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics javelin throw champion won the country’s only second medal at the World Athletics Championships, finishing with a historic silver in the men’s javelin final. The reigning World Champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who took gold with a humongous throw of 90.54m.

Chopra’s throw of 88.13m in his fourth attempt secured him not only a podium finish but also ended India’s 29-year-long wait for a medal at the World’s after Anju Bobby George’s bronze medal finish in the women’s long jump way back in 2003. The legendary long jumper Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a medal — bronze — in the World Championships in the 2003 edition in Paris, France.

He is the first male track and field Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships, ending 19-year-long wait for a medal at the worlds. Chopra’s best effort of 88.13m in the final at the Hayward Field was short of Anderson Peters’ gold medal-winning mark of 90.54m. Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch won the bronze with 88.09m. The 24-year old athlete earlier made the cut for the final courtesy an 88.39m mark in the qualification.

Chopra started with a foul throw and then registered 82.39m with his second attempt. He improved with his third attempt, when he threw the javelin 86.37m. He was still not set for a medal, but he registered a throw of 88.13m with his fourth attempt to shoot up to second place from fourth. His fifth and sixth attempts were foul throws. At the Tokyo Olympics last year, Chopra became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics after shooter Abhinav Bindra, who clinched the yellow metal in 2008 Beijing Games.

Besides Neeraj, India’s second participant in the event Rohit Yadav bowed out finishing 10th with a best throw of 78.62m. Rohit’s first throw reached 77.96m, before he improved on it marginally by hitting the 78.05m mark. In what would turn out to be his third and final attempt, Rohit finished with his best effort of the competition but would overall be disappointed with his performance as he had had recorded a season’s and personal best of 82.54m while winning a silver at the National Inter-State Championships last month.

12 Indian Basketball Players Make History While Competing For $1 Million On ESPN

For the FIRST TIME in international sports history, 12 Indian-origin athletes from around the globe will compete in the highest stakes basketball tournament in the world. 

India Rising is fondly nicknamed “The Avengers of Brown Basketball” by co-founder, former assistant coach of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and current Egyptian national team head coach Roy Rana. The team will be one of 64 competing in The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a single-elimination, eight-region competition that tips off on Friday, June 22 at 7 p.m. EST in Syracuse, NY, on ESPN, who will award the 2022 champion $1 million. 

“I spent most of my life praying, waiting, hoping, dreaming to see people who looked like me on these sports channels, and I’m done waiting,” said Gautam Kapur, co-founder and general manager of India Rising and former strategy manager at the NBA. “Growing up, I was always tall and naturally gravitated to basketball, but didn’t really have any role models who looked like me. Now, there are more than 60 professional, Indian-origin ballers worldwide, and nobody knows they exist. India Rising, the new home for brown athletes, aims to change that.”

“There are a lot of talented guys on this team, and this is only the beginning,” said Josh Sharma, India Rising’s seven-foot forward and former Stanford University Cardinal. “So, I think this is going to be that stepping stone for not only everybody on the team but the next generation of Indian ballers, so that the world recognizes the talent coming out of our community.”

This historic All-Star roster represents a diverse pool of talent from all corners of the world, including the NBA, G League, NBL (England, Australia), USports (Canada), 3×3 Leagues and multiple FIBA national teams.

“Winning games is our main priority right now, and secondly, it’s creating a sense of community for (Indian) athletes,” said Navin Ramharak, India Rising COO. “We’re creating a brotherhood and that goes beyond the game of basketball. Our third, and most important, goal is defeating cultural stereotypes. You don’t even need to necessarily win games to defeat stereotypes, but it helps the narrative tremendously. We want to start a cultural movement that if you’re Indian and looking to move into athletics, there’s a home for you to play and a community for you to belong.”

India Rising is currently fundraising to shoot a documentary series about their journey at the TBT, as well as the larger story of brown athletes in the international basketball ecosystem. To get involved or for more information, please visit the organization’s website www.indiarising.co

India Rising squares off against Syracuse Alumni team Boeheim’s Army
(No. 1 seed & defending champions of TBT 2021) in Game One on Friday, June 22, 2022 at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. More than 15 million fans are expected to tune in!

India Hammer England By 5 Wickets, Win Series 2-1

Hardik Pandya’s impressive all-round show along with Rishabh Pant’s fantastic maiden century in the 50-over cricket helped India thrash England by five wickets in the third and final ODI and win the three-match series 2-1 at Old Trafford, here on Sunday.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya (4/24) and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal’s (3/60) superb bowling efforts helped India bowl out England for 259 in 45.5 overs.

Skipper Jos Buttler played a vital knock (60 off 80) for England, who were invited to bat first by India captain Rohit Sharma. Apart from Buttler, Jason Roy (41), Moeen Ali (34), and Craig Overton (32) were the other main contributors with the bat for the hosts. Besides Pandya and Chahal, Mohammed Siraj (2/66), and Ravindra Jadeja (1/21) were the other wicket-takers for India.

Chasing a challenging total, India were in deep, deep trouble at 72-4 in 16.2 overs after losing the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan (1), Rohit Sharma (17), Virat Kohli (17), Suryakumar Yadav (16).

But Hardik and Pant batted sensibly, found regular boundaries and stitched a match-winning stand of 133 runs. Pandya (71 off 55) got out in the 36th over of the innings when India needed 55 runs.

However, Pant became even more aggressive and went on to hit his first ODI century. He remained not out (125 off 113) and along with Ravindra Jadeja (7 not out off 15) helped India to a thumping five-wicket victory in 42.1 overs.

Reece Topley (3/35) was England’s most successful bowler while Brydon Carse (1/45) and Craig Overton (1/54) also chipped in with one wicket each.

Brief scores: England 259 all out in 45.5 overs (Jos Buttler 60, Jason Roy 41; Hardik Pandya 4/24, Yuzvendra Chahal 3/60) lost to India 261-5 in 42.1 Overs (Rishabh Pant 125 not out, Hardik Pandya 71; Reece Topley 3/35) by five wickets.

‘83’ To Be Celebrated At Indian Film Festival Of Melbourne

Legendary cricketer Kapil Dev will be seen gracing the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022. Coming back after 2 years of virtually organizing the event, IFFM will now be physically held in the Australian city from August 12th to 20th, and the former Indian captain will be attending the event to celebrate Kabir Khan’s sports drama 83, which witnessed its theatrical release last year on December 24. The movie revolves around the journey of India’s cricket squad led by Kapil Dev.

While expressing his emotions about being part of one of the world’s leading and biggest Indian film festivals, the legendary cricket star told the news agency, ANI, “I look forward to being part of IFFM 2022. It’s a great platform for celebrating the best in Indian cinema. I truly do believe that sports and cinema are two major cultural experiences for not only Indians but various communities and countries that bind us together.”

With over 100 films in 23 different languages chosen for the festival, the lineup is more diverse than ever. The line-up this year is more diverse than ever before with over 100 films in 23 languages having been selected for the festival. 

The Movie 83, directed by Kabir Khan, will be celebrated at IFFM and the festival has invited legendary cricketer Kapil Dev to be the guest of honor. 

In 2019, IFFM was hosted by Indian celebrities such as Shahrukh Khan, Arjun Kapoor, Tabu, Vijay Sethupathi, Rima Das, Zoya Akhtar, and Karan Johar among others before the world was struck by a virus. The festival will take place in Melbourne from August 12-20.

Pointing out that cinema and sports are something that binds people together irrespective of several differences, Kapil Dev added, “It’s something for decades now that has united people. It’s a deep-rooted emotional connection and love we have for both cinema and sports, and when they come together it’s a rewarding experience for everyone.”

Phantoms & Destroyers Clash At CPL Season Opener

The most awaited sporting event in Chicago, Chicago Premier League 20/20 tournament, kicked off with much fanfare on Thursday. Skokie Sports was lit up with new LED lights on six light poles. The cricket pitch had ample of light in the middle, which eliminates an issue that most players face when they bat on any of the grounds in Chicagoland. The players and team owners were absolutely thrilled at the new addition to infrastructure which has been overlooked by many organizers. CPL owner Adil Azeem Khan said, “This is just the beginning of better cricketing infrastructure in Chicago and that he has planned several more improvements along the way to wow the Chicago crowd.”

Chicago Phantoms and Chicago Destroyers opened the 2022 Chicago Premier League (CPL) season. Phantoms won the toss and elected to bat first. Usama Farqaleet and Jasim Sajjad opened the innings but were marred by the quick fall of Usama to Yash Mehta’s bowling for 5 runs. Mujeeb Ahmed stepped in for Usama and not only did he hold his wicket down till the last over but made a spectacular 110 of 62 balls before he succumbed to Vineet Sinha’s quick pace and a poorly executed shot. Rest of the team contributed little in terms of runs but nevertheless rotating strike so Mujeeb could continue with his onslaught of the Destroyers offense. Phantoms set the target to 175 in 20 overs. Vineet Sinha was the best bowler on the offensive side with 4 overs, 19 runs, 2 wickets and an economy rate of just 4.75, Shaheer Hasan was the most expensive with an economy rate of 16.00. 

 Fahad Babar and Zohad Hussain opened the innings for Destroyers and with the exceptional batting line up did not have any pressure while they continued to destroy the bowling attack of the Phantoms. The fall of the first wicket came at the total score of 90 in the 10th over with Zohad succumbing to Umama Azmi. Shaheer Hasan took on the role of keeping the wicket on one end and continued to chip at the total but could not get a partnership going with falling wickets on the other end. Phantoms exerted pressure on the batters and got Fahad Babar, Venkatesh Naidu, Yash Mehta out within a span of 20 runs. The loss of wickets at frequent intervals slowed down the onslaught of Destroyers and put both teams on an even keel. 

Destroyers failed to recover their momentum from the fall of Yash Mehta in the 14th over. The game came to the wire in the last over and Phantoms held the Destroyers back by 4 runs to win the season opener by a 4-run margin. 

Mujeeb Ahmed was awarded the Player of The Match award for his contribution with his bat. He also collected the award for his century in the innings.

Cricket Comes To Bridgeport, CT

The City of Bridgeport, Connecticut, announced its support for the development of an International Standard Cricket Stadium and Practice Facilities in the city of Bridgeport, capable of hosting International level matches with an eye towards bagging a game or two in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup to be jointly hosted by the US and the Caribbean. The stadium proposal was presented by Connecticut Cricket Inc. (CCI), who anticipate the successful completion of the new stadium in time for the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup in the hope of hosting matches at the venue.

CCI leaders find Bridgeport to be the ideal location to bring top-level cricket to the Northeast United States. “Bridgeport has the perfect mix of accessibility, infrastructure and cricket history” said Ravi Nichani, a CCI principal. “The support and interest of the municipal leaders is gratifying, and we look forward to a long relationship between cricket and the City” added Mr. Nichani.

Bridgeport Mayor, Joseph P. Ganim, offered strong support of the City of Bridgeport to the future development of the cricket stadium in the city. “Bridgeport is impressed with the experience and capabilities of the CCI leadership and their proposed plan and looks forward to working together to achieve this goal of bringing the 2024 World Cup to Bridgeport, as well as establishing Bridgeport as an international cricket location” Mr. Ganim said.

Bridgeport, Connecticut is located 60 miles northeast of New York City, adjacent to the Long Island Sound and is well connected by Metro North, ferries to Long Island and interstate highways that connect Bridgeport to New York and New Jersey.

Rishabh Pant’s Name May Be In History Books Forever: Sehwag

Former India opener Virender Sehwag claimed that if wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant completes 100 appearances in Test cricket, his name will be written forever in the history books. Pant came into prominence due to his exploits in T20 cricket.

But of late, he has been a force to reckon with in Test cricket, amassing 1920 runs in 30 matches at an average of 40.85, including four centuries and nine half-centuries. In India’s last Test assignment, a two-match home series against Sri Lanka in March, Pant, 24, made 185 runs at a strike rate of 120.12, including a 28-ball fifty, the fastest by an Indian batter, on the second day of pink-ball Test at Bengaluru.

“If he goes on to play 100-plus Tests, his name would be etched in the history books forever. Only 11 Indian cricketers have achieved this feat, and everyone can recall those 11 names,” said Sehwag in an upcoming episode of Home of Heroes show on Sports18, to be aired at 7pm on Friday.

Sehwag himself had been one of the most destructive players to feature in Test cricket, compiling 8586 runs, averaging 49.34 at an astonishing strike rate of 82.23 apart from 8273 in ODIs at 35.05 with a strike rate of 104.33.

It wasn’t surprising that Sehwag still feels that Test cricket will remain the ultimate format of the game in the future despite the T20 format turning out to be more popular and lucrative. “In my humble opinion, Test cricket is the ultimate cricket. Why does Virat Kohli emphasise so much on playing Tests? He knows that if he plays 100-150 or even 200 Tests, he will be immortalised in the record books.”

Sehwag is also remembered for his penchant for hitting boundaries on the first ball, which he did so five times during the victorious 2011 World Cup campaign. Asked about it, Sehwag remarked, “Many, including (Sachin) Tendulkar, told me that I planned to hit the first ball to the fence. But I never did. I would be prepared to hit the first ball thinking it would more often be a loosener or a warm-up delivery.” (IANS)

16-Year Old Grandmaster Praggnanandhaa Wins Reykjavik Open Chess

R Pragganandhaa, the young Indian chess grandmaster, won the famous Reykjavik Open chess tournament with 7.5 points last week. The 16-year-old defeated compatriot Dommaraju Gukesh in the final round to claim the title. He earned 13.2 elo points for his outstanding performance. Pragganandhaa, Pragg as he is fondly called, finished the 7.5 points from nine rounds, finishing half-point ahead of four players — Max Warmerdam of the Netherlands, Mads Andersen of Denmark, Hjorvar Steinn Gretarsson of Sweden and American Abhimanyu Mishra, the world’s youngest GM, all of whom finished with 7.0 points.

Pragg had a few months back caused a sensation when he defeated World No 1 and reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen in a rapid game. On Tuesday, the 16-year-old topped the field comprising 245 players — most of them youngsters like him as the organizers had given a 50% discount on the entry fee for players 16 and under.

Praggnanandhaa entered the final round on Tuesday sharing the lead with Warmerdam and Andersen at 6.5 points. The two players from Scandinavian countries played out a 16-move draw on the top board, opening up a chance for the Indian GM from Chennai to win the last round and claim the title.

Pragg did just that even though his position in the game against Gukesh deteriorated as they reached the middle game. However, Pragg held on and then eventually reached a winning position thanks to back-to-back blunders by Gukesh. He bagged three points in that game and claimed the title outright.

Shane Warne: Cricket Legend From Australia Dies At 52

Legendary Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, one of the greatest cricketers of all time, has died of a suspected heart attack aged 52.

Warne took 708 Test wickets, the second most of all time, in 145 matches across a stellar 15-year international career.

He had been found unresponsive in his villa on the Thai island of Koh Samui on Friday, said his management company.

“It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack,” it added.

“Despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived.

“The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.”

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Warne’s family will be offered a state funeral for him.

Warne helped Australia win the 1999 50-over World Cup and claimed 293 dismissals in 194 one-day internationals between 1993 and 2005.

In 2000, he was named one of the five Wisden cricketers of the century, alongside Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Viv Richards.

He retired from international cricket in 2007 following Australia’s 5-0 Ashes clean sweep of England at home.

Warne also retired from first-class and List A cricket later that year, ending a seven-year spell with Hampshire, who he had captained since 2004.

He continued to play Twenty20 franchise cricket until retiring from all formats in 2013.

Warne worked regularly as a commentator and pundit, as well as holding coaching roles at T20 franchises.

He is survived by his three children with former wife Simone Callahan.

His death comes on the same day as legendary former Australia wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who died aged 74 of a heart attack, and was announced shortly after the close of play on day one of Australia’s first Test in Pakistan.

Warne’s mastery of leg-spin – a style of bowling that declined during the 1970s and 1980s when fast bowlers dominated – revolutionised cricket.

His magnificent control and canny variations bewildered even the greatest batters of his generation.

Only Sri Lankan off-spinning great Muttiah Muralitharan, with 800 dismissals, has taken more Test wickets than Warne.

He was also a fine slip fielder and capable lower-order batter, scoring 3,154 runs at an average of 17.32 and is the only batter in Test history to surpass 3,000 runs without making a century – falling for 99 twice, against New Zealand in 2001 and against England in 2005.

Warne was a larger-than-life figure whose fame transcended cricket and his sense of fun inspired successive generations of fans.

“Shane was a once-in-a-century cricketer and his achievements will stand for all time,” said Australia men’s Test captain Pat Cummins.

“So many of us in the playing group grew up idolising him and fell in love with this great sport as a result.”

Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley added: “Shane was one of the most talented and charismatic cricketers we have ever witnessed.

“He loved cricket, had an extraordinarily astute understanding of the game and his influence and legacy will last for as long as it is played.

“We are in a state of complete shock at his sudden passing and our thoughts are with his family, his many friends and the legion of fans from all over the world who loved and admired Warnie for his unbelievable bowling skills, his humour, warmth and engaging personality.”

Ashes dominance

Warne holds the record for the most Ashes wickets in history, with 195 dismissals in 36 Tests.

He made his Test debut against India in 1992 after only seven first-class matches for his native Victoria, but announced himself on the world stage in astonishing style in the 1993 Ashes in England.

With his first ball of the series, Warne bowled England batter Mike Gatting with a stunning delivery that pitched outside leg stump and clipped the top of off stump.

It became widely known as the ‘ball of the century’.

That was the first of six Ashes victories in a row involving Warne, until the run was ended by England’s famous 2-1 win in 2005, despite the leg-spinner taking a staggering 40 wickets in that series.

Warne gained revenge in 2006-07 when Australia won 5-0 and retired on the same day as long-time team-mates Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.

World Cup and domestic honors

Warne was a key part of Australia’s run to the 1996 World Cup final, where they were beaten by Sri Lanka.

He became vice-captain under Steve Waugh and starred in the 1999 World Cup triumph, being named man of the match after taking 4-33 in the final against Pakistan.

However, he was sent home the day before the 2003 tournament started after testing positive for a banned diuretic and served a one-year ban from the sport.

Australia would go on to win the 2003 World Cup by beating India.

Warne led Australia 11 times in ODIs but never captained the Test team, with batter Ricky Ponting replacing Waugh.

Warne captained Hampshire for four seasons during a spell with the county from 2000 to 2007, and they named a stand after him at their Ageas Bowl ground in 2012.

Under Warne, Hampshire won the one-day Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy in 2005 – although he was unable to play in the Lord’s final which was in the middle of the 2005 Ashes – and narrowly missed out on a County Championship title the same year.

He played his entire domestic career in Australia for Victoria.

He also played for Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League and Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, also coaching the latter.

In last year’s inaugural Hundred he coached London Spirit.

‘One of cricket’s great characters’

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew

Shane Warne wasn’t just one of the greatest spin bowlers in the game’s history – he was also one of cricket’s great characters.

His partnership with seamer Glenn McGrath made Australia virtually invincible in the 1990s.

In terms of a wrist-spinner’s repertoire, Warne perfected the art completely, spinning the ball vast distances and always with a touch of theatre.

He took that character with him into the commentary box and beyond cricket. He featured regularly on the world poker circuit, and while brushes with the authorities were also a feature of his life, his contribution to cricket will never be forgotten.

‘He was the greatest showman’ – tributes flood in for Warne

Former England captain Sir Andrew Strauss: “I’m utterly shocked and saddened. Shane Warne was cricket’s greatest star and he was a guy who, I suppose, you felt the rules of life didn’t apply to him. To hear about his untimely demise is genuinely shocking and I know the whole cricket world is in a great deal of mourning.”

Strauss added: “He was the greatest showman. There were other great cricketers when you look at their records would potentially equal Shane’s or maybe better it. But there was no greater star in cricket than Shane Warne, certainly in the time I have been around. You felt every time you were on the pitch against him it was his show. You were just a small part of his show.

“He used that to his advantage in terms of getting you out. He had such charisma and such passion for the game that it was infectious. If you were lucky enough to spend time with him off the pitch it was always a privilege. A man of great generosity of spirit, great passion for the game and a man who is going to be sorely missed.”

England captain Joe Root: “Really shocked and really sad to hear such a legend of the game passed so suddenly.

“We had just started the game and it filtered through the dressing room. It’s been quite a quiet dressing room off the back of it. It’s hit everyone quite hard if I’m being brutally honest.

“My experiences of Shane were of someone who absolutely loved the game of cricket. He was always a joy to be around, he gave so much energy to the sport. As a kid growing up he was a massive idol of mine and someone you wanted to emulate. The way he could win a game on his own, his skill levels were incredible.

“I’d have been 14 when the 2005 Ashes was on, in many ways that series was a massive influence on my career.”

Former England captain Mike Gatting: “It’s been devastating really, unbelievable. When you think he’s just 52 and he’s been an absolute legend in the game. I don’t use that word lightly either. It’s been unreal. We’ve lost a great cricketer and a great guy.

“The figures talk for themselves but he was inspirational to many, many young children. Certainly if you look at county cricket now, where he played himself for Hampshire.

“He inspired a lot of kids to take up spin bowling. The way he approached the game, he was knowledgeable, he loved the game. He was dedicated to the game but he also had a bit of fun as well.”

Rohit Sharma Is Country’s “Number 1 Cricketer:” Chetan Sharma Says

After naming Rohit Sharma as the Test captain for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, Chetan Sharma, Team India chief selector, said on Friday that the right-handed batter is the “number one cricketer” in the country.

After naming Rohit Sharma as the Test captain for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka, Chetan Sharma, the Chairman of All-India Senior-Selection Committee on Friday said that the right-handed batter is the number one cricketer in the country. Rohit Sharma was appointed as the new Test captain of the Indian men’s team while veterans Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were dropped from the Sri Lanka series. “As far as Rohit Sharma is concerned, he is the number one cricketer of our country, he is playing all three formats of the game. The important thing is how we manage Rohit, cricketers manage their bodies. From time to time we will be in discussion with Rohit. If such a big cricketer is leading the country, we as selection committee want to groom further captains, and grooming them under Rohit will be tremendous,” said Chetan Sharma during a virtual press conference.

“It is hard to predict what problems can arise in the future, Rohit is fit and fine right now. We will give rest to every cricketer of ours, we want to give them proper rest. A body requires rest, we will see how things pan out and we will decide how will be getting the rest,” he added.

Further talking about Rohit being named Test captain, Chetan said: “Rohit was a clear choice of ours, we are very happy with naming him as captain. We will groom future captains under him, let’s hope everything goes right and if things pan out how we want them to, it will be really good.”

“If Rohit keeps leading for a long time, then it would be really good for us. But no one can predict it, as long as Rohit is available and fit, he will be the Test captain. When he wants to rest, we will give him the rest,” he added.

Washington Sundar and KL Rahul are ruled out of Sri Lanka T20 and Test series unless they recover early, said Chetan Sharma, Chairman, All India Senior-Selection Committee. Ravichandran Ashwin is subject to fitness as well. Axar Patel is still recovering in rehab and might get fit by 2nd Test match said, Chetan Sharma.

Earlier this week, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a new schedule for India’s upcoming home series against Sri Lanka. The tour was supposed to start with the two-match Test, but now will begin with T20Is, with the first match being played at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow on February 24. The second and third T20Is will take place in Dharamsala on February 26 and 27.

Following the T20I series, the teams will play two Tests, which form a part of the 2021-23 ICC World Test Championship cycle. Mohali will host the first Test from March 4 to 8, while the second Test will be played in Bengaluru from March 12 to 16. The first Test will be former captain Virat Kohli’s 100th Test match, while the second Test will be a day/night affair.

India’s Test squad for SL series:Rohit Sharma (C), Mayank Agarwal, Priyank Panchal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, KS Bharat, Ravichandran Ashwin (fitness), Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep, Jasprit Bumrah, Shami, Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Sourabh Kumar.

Virat Kohli Breaks Sachin Tendulkar’s ODI World Record

Former India skipper Virat Kohli returned with yet another poor figure with the bat in the opening ODI match of the three-match series against West Indies on Sunday, yet he managed to smash another of Sachin Tendulkar’s world record.

With back-to-back boundaries during the 14th over of India’s chase of 177 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, Kohli became the second cricketer in ODI history to score 5000 runs in India, joining the legendary Sachin (6976 runs) in the elusive list, while also becoming the fourth batter overall to reach the milestone in a single country. The two others include former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who amassed 5521 runs in Australia, and Jacques Kallis, who scored 5186 runs in South Africa.

Reaching the mark in his 96th ODI innings, Kohli surpassed Sachin to become the fastest batsman to score 5000 ODI runs in a single country. The former Indian batter had achieved the feat in his 121st innings, during the match against West Indies in 2007.

Two deliveries later, Kohli failed to control the pull shot against a shorter delivery from Joseph as he top edged the delivery to the fielder at fine leg. He walked back scoring just 8 off 4.

Earlier that same over, in the first delivery, Joseph had got rid of India’s new ODI skipper Rohit Sharma, dismissing him for 60 and ending an impressive opening stand of 84 runs alongside the young Ishan Kishan.

India had won the toss and opted to bowl first against West Indies who were folded for 177 in 43.5 overs with all-rounder Jason Holder top-scoring for the visitors with his 11th half-century score.

Yuzvendra Chahal was the pick of the bowlers with his 4 for 49, which is now his third-best ODI figure. Washington Sundar picked three while the pace duo of Mohammed Siraj and Prasidh Krishna picked three between themselves.

24th Winter Olympics Games Under Way In Beijing

The 24th edition of the Winter Olympics is officially under way after the Olympic cauldron was lit in a restrained opening ceremony in Beijing.

Almost 3,000 athletes from 91 nations will compete across the Games.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been criticised for awarding the Games to China because of the country’s alleged human rights abuses.

IOC president Thomas Bach said one of the missions of the Games was to “unite humankind in all our diversity”.

The Olympic torch was placed into the centre of a giant snowflake, which was then illuminated to become the cauldron.

The snowflake is made up of placards with the names of the 91 nations competing in Beijing.

Speaking during the ceremony, Bach addressed “all political authorities across the globe” during his speech, asking them to “give peace a chance”.

“In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, we show the world: yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together,”

Beijing is the first city to host both a summer and winter edition of an Olympic Games, with the opening ceremony held in the iconic Bird’s Nest stadium that was built for the 2008 Games.

Just as in Tokyo six months ago, there were no paying spectators, friends or family present in the stands, although there were diplomats and team members applauding the athletes on.

Representatives of 56 ethnic groups from across China relayed the national flag into the stadium to begin the opening ceremony.

The Olympic rings themselves emerged from a frozen block of ice, with athletes entering the arena underneath them.

Curler Eve Muirhead and alpine skier Dave Ryding, both competing in their fourth Winter Olympics, carried the Great Britain flag into the stadium.

Bach told the athletes: “You will show how the world would look like, if we all respect the same rules and each other.

“Over the next two weeks you will compete with each other for the highest prize. At the same time, you will live peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village.

“There, there will be no discrimination for any reason whatsoever. ”

Why are the Games controversial?

A number of countries declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games, including the United Kingdom, with no ministers or officials attending the opening ceremony.

The Beijing government is accused of committing atrocities against the Uyghur Muslim population in the northwest province of Xinjiang, with the World Uyghur Congress describing the Games as “a genocide Olympics”.

There have been reports that, as well as interning Uyghurs in camps, China has been forcibly mass sterilising Uyghur women to suppress the population.

China has consistently denied allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang, insisting camps were not detention camps, but “vocational educational and training centres”, while the IOC says it must “remain neutral on all global political issues”.

There has also been widespread concern over the safety of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai after she made accusations of sexual assault against a top government official. Bach will meet face-to-face with Peng during the Games.

Russian president Vladimir Putin was in attendance at the opening ceremony, having met with China’s President Xi Jinping earlier in the day.

Cricket Legend Sunil Gavaskar To Address AAPI’s 40th AAPI Convention In San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX: February 7th, 2022: “Legendary Cricket Star Sunil Gavaskar, well known around the world as an inspirational speaker, philanthropist, and the chairman of H2H Foundation will be a keynote speaker during the 40th Annual Convention of AAPI to be held in San Antonio, TX from June 23rd to 26th, 2022,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula announced here.

Confirming his presence at the Convention, “The Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar told AAPI members who are part of the “greatest profession in the world,” and said, “It’s a unique honor to be part of the important AAPI convention in Texas. I am looking forward to meeting you all in Texas.” Mr. Gavaskar referred to his association with the “Heart to Heart Foundation” and how the Foundation is touching many hearts around the world.

According to Dr. Jayesh Shah, Chair of the Convention 2022, “While the theme for the historic convention is ‘Physician, heal thyself,’ especially when there are growing signs of burnout among physicians, by offering positive remedial resources as part of a first-ever Wellness Program being offered to participants, the special and unique once in a lifetime interactive session with the Cricket legend will allow the AAPI delegates to listen firsthand to the stories of his glorious cricket days, and the stories that tug at the hearts of the audience.”

“During A Meet & Greet Luncheon event with Sunil Gavaskar, recipient of Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards for his contributions to Indian cricket will inspire the hearts and souls of AAPI delegates by telling us how India remains the world capital for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), with 300,000 children born each year,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, President-Elect of AAPI said.

Without medical/surgical care, over 25% of children die before their 1st birthday, contributing to over 10% of the Infant Mortality Rate and resulting in 250+ children dying every day; many more die in infancy or the preschool ages. Only a small fraction of children with CHD can afford the cardiac surgery, which can cost over $100,000 in the United States.

With frugal innovations in CHD care H2H Foundation has reduced the average cost of an open-heart surgery to only $2000$  per patient, which would otherwise be $75,000 to $125,000 in the United States and $5,000 to $9,000 in India. Gavaskar has personally sponsored 34 surgeries to match his 34 test centuries. The legendary cricket master is touring the United States to raise awareness and funds to support the cause.

Heart to Heart (H2H) Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of children born with CHD, by providing FREE pediatric cardiac surgeries in collaboration with the group of Sai Sanjeevini Hospitals in India. Since February 2014, these hospitals have also been providing primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare exclusively to children with CHD and over 10,000 surgeries have been performed free of cost. 10,000 is also the number of innings played by Gavaskar. Additionally, for every test century, he has scored he has personally funded the same number of surgeries.

Dr. Kusum Punjaabi, Chair of AAPI BOT said, “At AAPI, the largest ethnic medical association in the nation, we are proud, we have been able to serve every 7th patient in the country. We serve in large cities, smaller towns and rural areas, sharing our skills, knowledge, compassion and expertise and caring for millions of people.”

“A huge thank you to all of the doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals for your dedication and commitment to service during this uncertain time,” Dr. Anjana Samadder, Vice President of AAPI said. “This is a unique opportunity for All of us, the front-line physicians who are putting our lives at risk to save the lives of others,” Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Secretary of AAPI said. “Thank you for fighting selflessly against this virus and helping keep everyone healthy and safe,” Dr. Krishan Kumar, Treasurer of AAPI added

Organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic medical organization in the country, representing the interests of over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, the historic 40th Annual Convention will offer a valuable platform for physicians and healthcare thought leaders from across the country and globally to convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of ideas on medical advances, and will help develop health policy agendas and recommend legislative priorities in the coming years.

The convention will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX located on the RiverWalk. This world-class facility will afford an intimate setting that will facilitate our ability to convey cutting-edge research and CME, promote business relationships, and display ethnic items. Vendor satisfaction and comfort are our top priorities, added Dr. Shah.

A dedicated Convention Committee Team led by Dr. Jayesh Shah including Mr. Venky Adivi, Chief Executive Officer of the Convention; Dr. Aruna Venkatesh, Convention Treasurer; Dr. Vijay Koli, Past President of AAPI & Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajam Ramamurthy, Convention Advisor; Dr. Rajeev Suri, President of TIPS & Co-Chair of the Convention, Dr. Shankar Sanka, Co-Chair of the Convention; Dr. Hetal Nayak, Co-Chair of the Convention; Kiran Cheruku, Co-Chair of the Convention; and Chief Operating Officers, Mr.  Reddy Yeluru and Me. Ram Joolukuntla, are working hard for the past several months to make the Convention truly historic.

Some of the major themes at the convention include: Yoga and Meditation practices, Welcome kit with books & self-care supplies, A Personal Reflexology Session, Take home wellness routine, Ailment based yoga therapy sessions, Workshop on Spiritual well-being, Book talk with Yoga Gurus, including on the science of Yoga & Lifestyle medicine, as well as an unique opportunity to visit first of its kind in San Antonio, Aum Ashram as part of the Wellness session.

Esteemed yoga gurus and experts, who are planned to share their wisdom and leading the Wellness Sessions include: Paramguru Sharatha Jois, Sadhvi Bhagawati, Saraswati Eddie Stern, Dr. Sat Bir Khalsa, Dr. Dilip Sarkar, Dr. Pankaj Vij, and Dr. Param Dedhia.

Besides Lifestyle medicine and wellness, There is an outstanding lineup of CME speakers to provide AAPI members education in all areas of medicine.

While encouraging AAPI members to register for the Convention, Dr. Gotimukula urged them to “Come, engage in a freewheeling conversation with the cricket legend where he will share interesting anecdotes and inspiring experiences. Interact with Sunil Gavaskar and tap into his wealth of wisdom on leadership, career, and life and take away insights on how to learn, lead, and live. Each delegate can get to take away cricket bats and other memorabilia signed by Gavaskar as souvenirs of a memorable event if you sponsor a child for congenital heart surgery!  For more information, please visit: www.aapiconvention.org  and www.aapiusa.org

Rafael Nadal Beats Daniil Medvedev From Two Sets Down In Melbourne Epic

Rafael Nadal won a record 21st Grand Slam men’s title in the most stunning fashion, fighting back from two sets down to beat Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in a classic Australian Open final.

Backed by a loud Melbourne crowd, sixth seed Nadal rallied to win 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena.

US Open champion Medvedev was going for his second successive major title.

Medvedev, 25, was in command before Nadal showed all of his renowned grit and fight to earn an extraordinary win.

The 35-year-old Spaniard has been at the centre of some of the sport’s most incredible triumphs – but this surely goes down as the most amazing Grand Slam victory of his illustrious career.

Nadal’s achievement comes only a few months after he thought he would never be able to return to the tour because of a foot injury.

In the absence of the deported Novak Djokovic and the injured Roger Federer in Melbourne, Nadal has moved one ahead of his great rivals in the race to finish with most major men’s singles titles.

It is the left-hander’s second Australian Open title and comes 13 years after his only previous success.

“Without a doubt it is one of the most emotional wins of my career,” Nadal, who had also previously lost four Australian Open finals, said after the trophy presentation.

Nadal’s emotional celebrations after adversity

Chronic pain in Nadal’s left foot restricted him to only one tournament in the final seven months of 2021, while a bout of coronavirus in mid-December also left him “very sick with fever”.

Those setbacks meant the Australian Open was just his second competitive event in five months, having won a warm-up tournament at Melbourne Park earlier in January.

Nadal sealed victory against Medvedev after five hours 24 minutes – and at 01:11 local time in Melbourne – when the second seed could not return a net volley on the first of the Spaniard’s three match points.

Dropping his racquet to the floor, Nadal stood motionless with his hands on hips as his jaw dropped. After a warm embrace with Medvedev, he walked towards his support team and exploded with emotion.

A triple first-pump was followed by a drop to his knees, his hands covering his face as he looked up to the sky.

Nadal slowly walked over to his players’ box, hugging Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley, on his way to embrace his father Sebastian.

The intensity of his celebration illustrated the euphoria Nadal felt after the obstacles he had overcome – on the night and in the recent months – to win.

Previously in his career, Nadal had only won three matches from two sets down and the most recent of those came at Wimbledon in 2007 against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny.

Victory came at the end of the second longest Grand Slam final in history, just 30 minutes short of the 2012 final at Melbourne Park when Nadal lost to Djokovic.

So much had he given to his record-breaking achievement that during the trophy presentation, Nadal was brought a chair so he could sit down rather than stand.

“I’m physically destroyed,” Nadal said in his post-match news conference.

Medvedev’s irritation at the pro-Nadal support

At two sets up, Medvedev had looked well on course to back up his victory in New York with another triumph at Melbourne Park.

Nadal lacked fluency with his groundstrokes in the first set, particularly on the backhand side, and Medvedev took five games in a row to seal it, Nadal dumping another backhand into the net, the Spanish left-hander’s 16th unforced error against just five from his opponent.

The younger man’s dominance was also illustrated by his winning 31 of the total points compared to 17 by Nadal.

With all the statistics in favour of Medvedev, the second set unexpectedly turned Nadal’s way at 2-1.

Nadal ended a 40-shot rally with an angled backhand winner, setting up break points for the first time in the match, and an unforced error from Medvedev handed over the game.

Suddenly Nadal had a spring in his step – and had the crowd getting noisier too – as he moved 4-1 ahead.

Three successive breaks of serve soon followed, a run that ended with a dramatic ninth game that stunned the Laver crowd.

It included a set point for Nadal, five break points for Medvedev and the game being halted when a protester jumped on to court before being dragged away by security.

The set eventually went to a tie-break which Medvedev finished the stronger and it appeared doubtful Nadal, already looking tired and sweating a lot, could fight back.

Another pivotal moment came in the sixth game of the third set when Nadal, facing going two sets and a break down, fought off three break points.

Both men continued to hold serve until the ninth game when Nadal, whose indomitable spirit began to grow, pounced.

Medvedev, perhaps as a result of the finishing line coming into view, lost clarity of thought when he tried to prod over a volley and instead hit it into the net.

That brought raucous cheers from the crowd and Medvedev responded with a sarcastic clap of his racquet.

The Spaniard broke and served out the set to love, sending the pro-Nadal crowd into further raptures.

A tense fourth set featured 15 break points, with Nadal taking two of his 10 opportunities to tee up a decider.

Medvedev continued to be irritated by the support being given to Nadal, and the frequent noise during his service points, prompting umpire John Blom to repeatedly ask for calm.

Nadal now looked the man with the mental resilience needed to see the job through.

He broke for 3-2 but then wobbled when he served for the match at 5-4, only to break straight back to lead 6-5 and serve out victory at the second attempt.

In his on-court speech, Medvedev thanked his team, and joked: “I’m sure my wife is watching back home but I think the TV will be broken now.”

Medvedev, who lost last year’s final to Djokovic, was aiming to become the first man in the Open era to win his second Grand Slam title at the next major event after his maiden triumph.

He was the highest seed men’s player in Djokovic’s absence.

“If we talk about tennis, I’m not that disappointed,” Medvedev said.

“It was a huge match, for sure, and there were some small points, small details, that I could have done better if I wanted to win. But that’s tennis. That’s life.

“Rafa played unreal and raised his level. I mean, two sets to love up, I wanted just to go for him, go for more.

“He was really strong, the way he played for four hours, I was even surprised.” (BBC)

Smriti Mandhana Wins ICC Women’s Cricketer Of The Year

The 25-year-old is only the second player, after Australian allrounder Ellyse Perry, to win the highest individual distinction in the women’s overall category of the annual ICC awards more than once. She was also named in the ICC Women’s T20I Team of the Year.

Mandhana, who was named ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year and ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2018, pipped fellow opening batters Tammy Beaumont of England, Lizelle Lee (South Africa) and Gaby Lewis (Ireland) to the the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy. Jhulan Goswami, who won the same award in 2007, is the only other Indian woman to ever win an ICC annual award.

The stats: In 2021, since India’s return to cricket on March 7 following a 364-day gap from the international scene — primarily because of the pandemic — Mandhana scored 855 runs in 22 international matches across three series, at an average of 38.86, posting a century and five fifties.

Mandhana was named the Player of the Match for her maiden Test hundred — 127 during India’s maiden women’s day-night Test, which they drew against Australia at Gold Coast.

Pakistan left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi was named the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year. He was awarded the Sir Garfield Sobers Award for taking 78 wickets across formats in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20 in 2021.

Her 15-ball 29 and fifty in the T20I series went in vain though as India fell short in both the matches and lost the series 2-1.
The Southpaw was in good touch in the series against Australia, starting with the ODI series where she scored 86 in the second ODI.

She compiled a brilliant century in the only Test (the first of her career), and was awarded the Player of the Match. She scored her second T20I fifty of the year in the final T20I, though India fell short and lost the series 2-0.

Mandhana made India’s first-ever pink-ball Test even more memorable by smashing her maiden century in the longest format.

Virat Kohli Steps Down As India’s Cricket Test Team Captain

Virat Kohli has stepped down as captain of India men’s Test team.  The 33-year-old, who stopped leading India’s limited-overs sides last year, had led the Test side since 2015.  He captained India in a record-breaking 68 Tests, winning 40 matches – the fourth best record of any Test captain in history.

“It’s been seven years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance every day to take the team in the right direction,” Kohli said on social media. “I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it’s now.”

He has played in 99 Tests in total, averaging 50.39 in the longer format, with 27 centuries. In 2021 Kohli led India to the final of the inaugural World Test Championship, losing to New Zealand in Southampton.

The signs were there. Virat Kohli was becoming extremely frustrated with captaincy. The manner in which he kicked the air and blew up after Dean Elgar won a review on day three of the decider here indicated he was running out of patience.

If he had a vision then behaving badly on the field of play was not a part of it. A day after India lost the series 2-1 to South Africa, Kohli resigned as the Test captain in a long tweet, here on Saturday, Jan. 15th.

The Delhi batsman, who took over captaincy in a rather dramatic fashion when M.S. Dhoni shocked everyone by stepping down as skipper after the Melbourne Test against Australia in 2014, formed a lasting relationship with coach Ravi Shastri.

High and low

His greatest achievement as captain was in leading India to its first ever Test series triumph in Australia. Passionate about Tests, the failure to beat South Africa in a Test series on this tour would go down among his greatest disappointments.

“There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey, but never has there been a lack of effort or lack of belief,” he added on Twitter.  “I have always believed in giving my 120% in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do.  I have absolute clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team.”

During his stint as captain, Kohli did not see eye-to-eye with Anil Kumble, which led to the legend being forced out as coach. Kohli also did not lead India to a title triumph in any ICC competition. Being removed as the ODI captain hurt Kohli. And his verbal duel with the BCCI did not help matters either.

The writing was on the wall. Rohit Sharma will be a natural successor to Kohli.

Kohli said in his tweet, “It has been 7 years of hard work, toil and relentless perseverance everyday to take the team in the right direction. I’ve done the job with absolute honesty and left nothing out there. Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me as Test captain of India, it is now. There have been many ups and also some downs along the journey: but never had there been a lack of effort or a lack of belief.”

Thanks Shastri & Co.

He thanked “Ravi Bhai and the support group who were the engine behind this vehicle that moved up in Test Cricket consistently. You all have played a massive role in bringing this vision to life. Lastly, a big thank you to M.S. Dhoni who believed in me as captain and found me to be an able individual who could take Indian cricket forward.”

Kohli’s major wins as captain included victory over Australia in 2018-19 – India’s first series win down under and one that Kohli at the time described as the “proudest” moment of his career.

He also captained India to a 2-1 away series lead over England last summer, before the final Test at Old Trafford was called off due to Covid-19. It has now been rescheduled for Edgbaston this July. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) congratulated Kohli and said he had taken the team to “unprecedented heights”.

Kohli paid tribute to his team-mates including MS Dhoni, who he took over from as Test captain. “I want to thank the BCCI for giving me the opportunity to lead my country for such a long period of time and most importantly to all the team-mates who bought into the vision I had for the team from day one and never gave up in any situation,” he wrote.  “You guys have made this journey so memorable and beautiful.”

USA Set For Historic Cricket Series Against ICC Full Member Ireland

For the first time since September 2019, USA are set to host an international cricket match when they face ICC Full-Member Nation Ireland in the inaugural T20I at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground here on December 22.

The series involves two T20Is, followed by three One-day Internationals and will conclude on December 30. The preparations haven’t gone as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the practice games getting cancelled and both teams training individually on the centre wicket.

Ireland have had to make many changes to their squad after several of their members — including Barry McCarthy, George Dockrell, Harry Tector and Gareth Delany — tested COVID-positive ahead of the limited-overs series. They will join the team after 10-day isolation.

With several uncertainties, Josh Little cut short his Lankan Premier League stint to join the Ireland squad here. For the USA, Karima Gore, Jaskaran Malhotra and Aaron Jones have been ruled out after being named in the initial squads. To cover for the absentees, four players have received their maiden national call-up, three of whom are U-19 players.

Ritwik Behera has been named in both the ODI and T20I squads, while Yasir Mohammed and Ali Sheikh have been called up for the T20I squad along with Ryan Scott. Rusty Theron too will be unavailable due to a groin injury.

All the games will be played at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground here.

Squads:

Ireland T20I: Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Shane Getkate, Josh Little, Barry McCarthy, William McClintock, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young.

Ireland ODI: Andrew Balbirnie (c), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, William Porterfield, Neil Rock, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Ben White, Craig Young.

USA T20I: Monank Patel (c), Ali Khan, Ali Sheikh, Gajanand Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Marty Kain, Nisarg Patel, Ritwik Behera, Ryan Scott, Saurabh Netravalkar, Steven Taylor, Sushant Modani, Vatsal Vaghela, Xavier Marshall, Yasir Mohammed.

USA ODI: Monank Patel (c), Aaron Jones, Ali Khan, Gajanand Singh, Jasdeep Singh, Jaskaran Malhotra, Marty Kain, Nisarg Patel, Nosthush Kenjige, Rahul Jariwala, Ritwik Behera, Saurabh Netravalkar, Steven Taylor, Sushant Modani, Vatsal Vaghela, Xavier Marshall.

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