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5th Test: Pleased with how the ball came out today, even though I went for a few, says Ashwin

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Dharamshala, March 9 (IANS) Veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who claimed match figures of 9-128 in his 100th Test as India thrashed England by an innings and 64 runs at the HPCA Stadium to register a 4-1 series win, said he was pleased with how the ball came out of his hand despite going for a few runs.

Ashwin took 5-77 in second innings, his 36th five-wicket haul in the format, also the most fifers in this format for India and breaking Anil Kumble’s previous mark of 35, as England were bowled for 195. He now joins spin legends Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble as the bowlers to bag a five-wicket haul in their 100th Test match.

“Very happy, can’t really put a wrapper on how I’m feeling. Lot happened, lot of talk about the 100th Test. Overwhelmed, a lot of well-wishers have come forward. Win the Test and take wickets, what more can a bowler ask for? Tried different actions, speeds, releases through the series.”

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“You need that skillset in India. Pleased with how the ball came out today, even though I went for a few. Cricket is a game played between your ears. Looks like a lot is happening because the new ball is biting off the surface,” said Ashwin after the match ended.

Asked about experimenting with various kinds of deliveries he bowls in Tests, Ashwin explained, “I am not insecure about what people feel about me. We have to get criticised. I take it on board, I lock away what I learn. If I’m confident of trying and executing something, I will try that. The amount of cricket we play, and the analysis, batters will line you up if you don’t change. Sticking to one method won’t work.”

Ashwin also had some praise for left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who took 5-72 and 2-40 in both innings, apart from making 30 with the bat to take Player of the Match award. “From the far end there was more bite, from the other end more speed. With the new ball I got some bounce and kick today. The way the ball is coming out of Kuldeep’s hand is unbelievable, I can’t be more happy for somebody.”

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–IANS

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Football: Italian coach Maresca to leave Leicester City for Chelsea

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London, May 28 (IANS) Chelsea are set to name Enzo Maresca as their new first-team coach after the 44-year-old announced intentions to leave Leicester City on Tuesday. Maresca confirmed his departure from the club he led to promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt in a post on social media.

“It’s with great emotion that I write to you today to say goodbye. In less than a year at the club, I’m proud to say we archived exactly what was needed which is coming back to the Premier League,” wrote the Italian.

Maresca was a cultured central midfielder who represented a host of teams, including Juventus, Sevilla, Malaga, Fiorentina, and Sampdoria, before moving into coaching, reports Xinhua.

He picked up valuable experience in the Manchester City youth system and had a brief spell with Parma before spending a year as Pep Guardiola’s assistant.

Last season saw him appointed to Leicester City with the task of taking the recently relegated side back to the Premier League. Maresca did that at the first attempt, with the team finishing top of the Championship.

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Chelsea had asked Leicester for permission to speak to the coach about the vacancy after the departure of Mauricio Pochettino at the end of the season. The Italian is expected to sign a five-year contract.

–IANS

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MotoGP 2024: Joan Mir, Luca Marini bullish as Honda Team get straight back to work in Mugello

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Italy, May 28 (IANS) Team Honda riders Joan Mir and Luca Marini will get back into action soon after an intense burst of action with back-to-back races and a test as the 2024 MotoGP World Championship season gathers pace at the Gran Premio d’Italia in Mugello, Italy.

The first back-to-back weekend of the season sees the Honda Team travel from Barcelona to Mugello for another weekend of MotoGP action. A classic on the MotoGP calendar, the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello is known for its incredibly straight and fast, flowing corners. The layout of the circuit will give both teams and riders a great opportunity to continue collecting data and working towards the future.

Local hero Marini enters the weekend eager to embrace the boost from his home fans off the back of a weekend of progress in Barcelona. Recent upgrades and changes to the Honda RC213V have helped Marini to improve his feeling and close the distance to the other Honda riders, authoring a strong start to the Catalan GP where he challenged for top Honda honours.

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On the other side of the Honda Team garage, Mir is targeting a return to his early-year form. Despite taking points and fighting for top Honda honours in Barcelona, Mir is hungry for more around the Italian track. His best premier class result at the track came in 2021 when he finished third.

Marini said he is looking forward to his home grand prix.

“Your home GP is always something nice and I am really excited to go there as a factory Honda rider for the first time. I really want to enjoy the weekend with the Italian fans and enjoy their support. We made progress in Barcelona and I know that we can keep building on what we found during our private Mugello test for this coming weekend,” said Marini.

“It’s all about making this progress at each round and continuing to feel better and better. You can understand a lot about a bike around Mugello so the weekend, and post-race test, will be very useful for us,” he added.

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Mir said, “We have this race and a test before a bit of a break in the calendar. I want to extract the maximum possible from this weekend to recover from the tricky weekend we had in Barcelona. Everyone in the team and HRC are working hard to make improvements and continue development. We have some ideas already from the test we had here, so let’s keep on going and enjoy riding.”

–IANS

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French Open: Sabalenka, Rybakina, Qinwen advance as Kerber is sent packing

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Paris, May 28 (IANS) Top stars including second seed Aryna Sabalenka, fourth seed Elena Rybakina, and No.7 seed Zheng Qinwen of China advanced to the second round of women’s singles at the French Open here on Tuesday. Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber failed to reach the next round of the clay-court grand slam as she went down to Dutch player Arantxa Rus, who won 6-4, 6-3.

Sabalenka cruised into the second round of the French Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Erika Andreeva on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The two-time reigning Australian Open champion needed just 1 hour and 8 minutes to move through to the second round and drop the elder of the two Andreeva sisters to 0-3 in Grand Slam main draws in her career.

Already 2-0 against the younger of the two, top 40-ranked Mirra Andreeva, Sabalenka broke the World No.100’s serve five times, and tripled her opponent’s total of winners, to win her first-ever match against 19-year-old Erika. Sabalenka hit 27 winners to just 16 unforced errors in the 15 games that the two played.

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Rybakina started slowly but was near-untouchable as she defeated Greet Minnen 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of Roland Garros.

The former Wimbledon champion was playing her first match in over three weeks, since her defeat in the semifinals in Madrid to Sabalenka, after illness forced her to withdraw from Rome.

There was some rust in her game at the start of the match as she began with eight straight unforced errors, including a double fault to drop serve in the opening game.

In the end, she squandered her first match point at 5-1 with a netted drop shot attempt and needed a second chance to serve out victory.

But for the majority of the match, Rybakina was in dazzling form. From 2-0 down, she rattled off 10 successive games, raining winners down on Minnen from all parts of the court. The Kazakhstan player’s forehand was the bedrock of her run, but she also deployed successful drop shots repeatedly and was quick to swarm the net when the opportunity presented itself. In total, she fired 36 winners to 21 unforced errors and won 14 out of 21 points at the net.

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Chinese star Zheng Qinwen ended the final French Open tournament of the chequered career of Alizé Cornet as the No.7 seed romped to a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the first round. Cornet is participating in the final tournament of her storied career and a lot of people expected her to cause a huge upset one last time.

Cornet owns 25 Top 10 wins, spanning multiple generations of players and nearly two decades. Zheng, however, was in no mood to become the 26th. The Australian Open finalist dealt with the occasion coolly to end Cornet’s career in 1 hour and 23 minutes.

The Philippe-Chatrier stands greeted Cornet’s last dance before even the first point had been played, but it was Zheng who controlled the tempo of the match throughout. The 21-year-old struck 25 winners to 19 unforced errors, successfully using her raw power to keep Cornet at bay.

The Frenchwoman roused local hopes briefly in the first set as she pulled back from 4-0 down to 4-2, and was able to show off her array of defensive spins and angles as she dragged Zheng into some excellent exchanges.

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–IANS

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Shrimant Jha wins gold as Indian armwrestlers shine at Asian Championship 2024

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) In a superb display, the Indian Arm Wrestlers contingent won a total of seven medals including one gold and six bronze medals in the Asian Championship 2024 held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Shrimant Jha, who participated in two categories, was the top performer for India as he won the gold medal in the left-hand category para category, while he won one bronze medal in the right-hand para category.

Laxman Singh Bhandari (Left & Right hand) secured two bronze medals in the Masters category. Sachin Goyal, who is one of the stars of the Baroda Badshahs franchise in the Pro Panja League and hugely popular on social media, won a bronze medal in the competitive right-hand Senior category, according to a release on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ibi Lollen from Arunachal Pradesh clinched two bronze medals in the Women’s Right and Left-hand categories. Pramod Mukhi stood in fourth place in a fiercely intense bout, said the release.

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The Indian contingent was competing under the banner of the People’s Armwrestling Federation of India led by President Preeti Jhangiani.

Sharing her thoughts on the remarkable performance at the Asian Championship 2024, People’s Armwrestling Federation President Preeti Jhangiani said, “It was a great privilege for me as the President of The People’s Armwrestling Federation India (PAFI) to send this strong and competitive Indian contingent for the Asian Championship 2024.

“Our Armwrestlers performed well, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate them for bringing accolades to the country. It’s great to see more and more youngsters taking up Armwrestling as a career option and not just a hobby,” she said.

People’s Armwrestling Federation India (PAFI) is the sole Indian organisation with affiliation with the Asian Armwrestling Federation (AAF) and World Armwrestling Federation (WAF).

–IANS

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Manu, Mehuli, and Esha in 23-member shooting team for Munich World Cup; followed by camp in France

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has announced a 23-member rifle and pistol squad for the upcoming International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Munich, scheduled for an end-of-the-month start. Top shooters like Sarabjot Singh, Manu Bhaker, Rhythm Sangwan, Esha Singh, Rudranksh Patil, Anish, and Mehuli Ghosh have been included in the squad. The top three shooters in action during the first-ever Olympic Selection Trials, mostly make up the squad. India will participate in all the 10 Olympic events.

Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale, Akhil Sheoran, Sift Kaur Samra, Anjum Moudgil, Vijayveer Sidhu, and Bhavesh Shekhawat are the other known shooter that have been picked in the team.

Speaking before the departure of the squad, Kalikesh Narayan Sing Deo, Senior Vice-President, NRAI, said, “Some shooters had some obvious queries about the programme, given it is in the lead up to the Olympics, but we had a world with all them and convinced them of the importance Shooting at the Munich World Cup and Camp in France thereafter.

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“We have always been flexible on personal coaches and all we have said is that they adhere to the SOPs and maintain basic discipline. We have also spoken about the importance of a common and jointly worked out minimum training programme during this important period, whether during a world cup, camp or when at home, which is monitored actively by the High-Performance Director/National Coaches,” he said.

He added, “If such basic protocols can be followed, personal coaches are always welcome. We should all get together for the success of Team India.”

Speaking specifically on the Munich World Cup, he said, “For Munich, I would stress more on the fact that this is an important part of the exposure leading to Olympics and we are flexible to accommodate individual needs of shooters including the involvement of personal coaches.

“We understand that some shooters might have personal training plans so we have been flexible and given them the option to choose the number of events for example or play as RPO shooters. The focus is to be in a competitive environment, in a tournament which is played in a format similar to the Olympics,” he added.

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The team after competing at Munich World Cup will proceed to a camp in France before heading back for a two-week break at home. They will then assemble for a departure camp in Bhopal, before departing for the Olympic Games.

–IANS

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