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Ahead of white-ball series against India, Wanindu Hasaranga steps down as Sri Lanka T20I captain

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Ahead of white-ball series against India, Wanindu Hasaranga steps down as Sri Lanka T20I captain

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Ahead of Sri Lanka’s white-ball series against India later this month, leg-spin all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga has resigned as the side’s T20I captain. Hasaranga was appointed as Sri Lanka’s T20I captain last year and led the team in 10 matches.

His last captaincy assignment saw Sri Lanka crash out of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup in group stage. In a statement issued by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Hasaranga said it was in the best interest of the team that he decided to relinquish his captaincy duties and would remain in the side as a player.

“Sri Lanka will always have my utmost best efforts as a player, and I will support and stand by my team and leadership as always,” wrote Hasaranga in his resignation letter to SLC. The governing body accepted his resignation and stated that Hasaranga would remain an important player for them in their international cricketing plans.

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Sri Lanka’s next international assignment is taking on India in a home bilateral series, comprising three T20Is and as many ODIs, starting from July 26. It remains to be seen who becomes the Sri Lanka captain for the T20I leg of the tour, with the hosts having the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya as their interim head coach.

–IANS

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Paris Olympics countdown: Records and medals on mind as India eye best-ever performance

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Paris Olympics countdown: Records and medals on mind as India eye best-ever performance

Paris Olympics countdown: Records and medals on mind as India eye best-ever performance

Mumbai, July 20 (IANS) Indian sports underwent a renaissance in 1996 in Atlanta when Leander Paes won a bronze medal in men’s singles tennis, ending a 44-year-old drought for the country’s second individual medal at the Olympics.

As the clock ticks down for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, the question is whether India will undergo another transformation in the French capital.

That medal bagged by Leander Paes kind of triggered the growth points in Indian sport and since then the country has claimed at least one medal from the subsequent editions of the Olympic Games with at least one medal and 12 years after Atlanta, Abhinav Bindra added gold to glory by bagging India’s first individual gold medal in shooting.

It was from the same Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 that India, after a gap of more than half a century, returned with multiple medals as Vijender Singh clinched a bronze medal in middleweight boxing and wrestler Sushil Kumar came through the repechage rounds to bag bronze in men’s 66kg freestyle.

India hit another peak four years later when an 83-member contingent returned with six medals — two silver and four bronze. And in the last edition of the games in Tokyo, which were held in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, India set another record by achieving their best-ever medal haul of seven including a historic maiden gold in Athletics by javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and a bronze in men’s hockey that ended a 41-year wait for glory in the sport that India has dominated for decades, winning eight gold medals.

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At the 33rd Olympic Games which will be officially declared open on July 26, Indian sports will face another trigger for transformation as it is for the first time that the country is hoping to win medals in double digits.

India’s progress in sports will be put to a true test in Paris. It will be the responsibility of the contingent of 117 sportspersons — 37 female and 70 male to return with a big haul.

India will be looking forward to many of its sportspersons making historical achievements in Paris. Having won the first gold medal in athletics, Neeraj Chopra is eyeing another medal — hopefully gold. The 26-year-old from Haryana will be India’s biggest hope in Paris and is looking forward to back-to-back gold medals.

Chopra has continued to excel after winning gold in Tokyo, repeating his success at the World Championships and the Golden League Final. Though his struggles with injuries have thrown a spanner in the wheel and made him miss a few events, Chopra is still India’s best bet for a medal in Paris. The relay teams have also done well in recent times, especially at the World Championships where it reached the men’s 4×400 team reached the final.

Woman shuttler P.V. Sindhu is also eyeing history, hoping to become the first Indian to win three individual medals in the Olympics, having won a silver medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and a bronze in the Tokyo Olympic Games. If Sindhu wins a medal in Paris, she will become the first Indian sportsperson to win an individual medal in three consecutive editions of the mega-events.

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Besides Sindhu, the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will be India’s biggest hope in Paris. The former World No.1 pair has made giant strides in the last couple of years and will be hoping to become the first male shuttlers to win Olympic medals.

Also high on the medal radar will be boxer Nikhat Zareen, a two-time World Champion in the women’s 45-50 weight category. Zareen has also bagged gold in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 and bronze in the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Just like Sindhu and Neeraj Chopra, boxer Lovlina Borgohain and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu will be hoping to claim a medal in the second successive Olympic Games. Lovlina had won a bronze medal in Tokyo and now after moving up into a higher weight category (women’s 75kg). The boxer from Assam had endured a lean period after Tokyo but has recently regained form and bagged a gold medal in the 2023 World Championship and silver in the Hangzhou Asian Games. Ditto for Mirabai Chanu, who won a silver medal in the 49kg weight category in Tokyo and will be India’s lone representative in weightlifting in Paris. Chanu also won a gold medal in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 but the competition in Paris will be far tougher.

India will also be hoping to repeat its medal-winning effort in men’s hockey. Having ended a 41-year drought by bagging a bronze in Tokyo, India will be looking to end a 52-year barren period by winning medals in back-to-back Olympic Games after the 1972 edition in Munich. Craig Fulton has picked a strong side comprising young and experienced players but a recent slump in rankings and below-par performance in the FIH Pro League has undone the gains from the Hangzhou Asian Games where India won a gold medal after the 2014 Asian Games.

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In the French capital, India will be hoping for medals from shooting, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, athletics, badminton, hockey, and archery.

The shooters will be shouldering the biggest burden of the hopes as they will be hoping to find success for the first time since the 2012 Games when Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang won silver and bronze medals respectively.

India shooters fired blanks at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and also at the Paris Olympics. Our biggest hopes in the 29-member shooting squad will be centred around rifle shooters like Sarabjot Singh, Manu Bhaker, Sift Kaur Samra, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale and Rhythm.

With the government spending crores of rupees in training, equipment, and exposure trips for these sportspersons in the last few years, the Indians go into the Paris Olympic Games with high hopes and expect their best medal haul.

Numbers

India’s overall medal tally in Olympics — 35 (10 gold, 9 silver, 16 bronze)

India will be participating in 16 sports

Total Indian sportspersons in Paris: 117

Total Males – 70

Total females – 47

The biggest component of the Indian contingent

Athletics — 29

Shooting — 21

Oldest participant from India — Rohan Bopanna — 44 years

–IANS

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Jamshedpur all set to co-host Durand Cup for the first time from July 28

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Jamshedpur all set to co-host Durand Cup for the first time from July 28

Jamshedpur all set to co-host Durand Cup for the first time from July 28

Jamshedpur, July 20 (IANS) Steel city Jamshedpur was witness to celebrations as the Durand Cup, along with its two associated trophies, entered the city premises for the first time on Friday.

Jamshedpur, home to the Indian Super League (ISL) side Jamshedpur FC, has been selected as a host of the 133rd Indian Oil Durand Cup for the first time.

The other locations where the tournament will be played are Kolkata, Kokrajhar (Assam), and Shillong (Meghalaya).

Jamshedpur will host Group D of the tournament comprising Jamshedpur FC, Channaiyin FC, Indian Army Football Team, and the Bangladesh Armed Forces Football Team.

The opening match of this Group will be played between Jamshedpur FC and the Bangladeshi Armed Forces Football Team at 4 p.m. on July 28.

The rotating Durand Cup and the Shimla Trophy as well as the President’s Cup – which the winners of the tournament get to keep for themselves permanently – were put on display at the XLRI Auditorium here on Friday.

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Among those present were Jharkhand Sports Minister Hafizul Hassan, Lt Gen R.C. Srikanth, Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command, and Chairman, Durand Cup Organising Committee, and Chanakya Chaudhary, Vice-President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel.

“The Indian Army is proud to host this prestigious tournament in Jamshedpur. It is a city which is home to the Tata Football Academy, a beacon in grassroots development of the game. As we continue to spread the reach of the Durand Cup in these regions, we believe it will not only pave a new path for a stronger civil-military relationship, but also inspire the youth for a brighter, fitter, and productive future,” Lt Gen Srikanth said.

Hassan said, “Some of the best players of Indian football of the modern era learned their trade at the TATA Football Academy here. Hosting the Durand Cup for the first time is an honour and this will only increase the popularity of the sport in the city and the state overall,” he said.

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–IANS

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Golf: Vidhatri grabs maiden win as a pro in 9th leg of WPGT

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Golf: Vidhatri grabs maiden win as a pro in 9th leg of WPGT

Golf: Vidhatri grabs maiden win as a pro in 9th leg of WPGT

Hosur, July 20 (IANS) Vidhatri Urs holed a hat trick of birdies early in the round to cruise to a 2-shot win in the ninth leg of the Women’s Pro Golf Tour 2024 at the Clover Greens here on Friday. Vidhatri shot 1-under 70 for her third under-par round of the week after 68-69 on the first two days. She totalled 6-under 207 to complete a fine wire-to-wire win. This was Vidhatri’s first win as a professional, though she has won on the Tour as an amateur in the past.

Amateur Saanvi Somu (71) who bogeyed twice in the last three holes finished second, two shots at 209 behind Vidhatri. Experienced Gaurika Bishnoi shot even par 71 and was a further two shots behind at 2-under 211 for the sole third.

Vidhatri, who was third in her previous two starts as a professional, opened with two pars before finding three birdies on the trot to bolster her chances. Four pars from sixth to ninth saw her turn in 3-under.

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Bogeys on the tenth and the 11th were blips, but she made amends for them as she birdied the 15th. She could then afford a bogey on the last hole as her playing partner Saanvi dropped shots on the 16th and the 18th. Vidhatri’s 1-under 70 was one of the only two under-par rounds on the final day.

Saanvi had two birdies on either side of the course, but she also gave away a shot on the front nine and three more on the back nine for an even-par 71 which gave her the sole second place.

Gaurika started with a bogey but two birdies on the third and the fifth saw her turn in 1-under. On the back nine, she dropped a shot on 12th and parred the rest. Three players Khushi Khanijau (70), Shweta Mansingh (71) and Sneha Singh (73) were tied for fourth at 1-over 214.

Amateur Mannat Brar (76) slipped in the final round and was seventh while Jahaanvie Walia (71) and Gourabi Bhowmick (74) were tied for ninth. Karishma Govind (74) was tenth.

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HItaashee Bakshi (72-76-71), who finished T-12 stays on top of the Hero Order of Merit, while Sneha Singh, the topper in 2023 is lying second with Amandeep Drall (72-72-76), who was 14th this week, being third.

The 10th leg of the Hero WPGT will be held from July 23-26 at Prestige Golfshire, Bengaluru.

–IANS

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Sub-jr Men’s South Zone Hockey: Puducherry, Karnataka and Kerala win on Day 1

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Sub-jr Men’s South Zone Hockey: Puducherry, Karnataka and Kerala win on Day 1

Sub-jr Men’s South Zone Hockey: Puducherry, Karnataka and Kerala win on Day 1

Kollam (Kerala), July 19 (IANS) Le Puducherry Hockey, Hockey Karnataka and Kerala Hockey registered victory on the first day of the 2nd Hockey India Sub-Junior Men’s South Zone Championship 2024 played at the Hockey Stadium, here on Friday.

In the men’s category, Hockey Andhra Pradesh took on Le Puducherry Hockey in the first match. Le Puducherry Hockey won the game 8-4. For Le Puducherry Hockey, N. Nithishwaran (8’, 23’, 25’), Tamivalavan (11’), Praveen (31’, 34’, 42’) and Abdul Rehan (48’) were the goal-scorers, while for Hockey Andhra Pradesh, Balaji Poola (38’), Hussain Syed Jakeer (40’, 46’) and Devara Deva Sai Yadav (60’) got on the scoresheet.

In the second match, Hockey Karnataka took on Telangana Hockey. Hockey Karnataka won the match 9-0. For Hockey Karnataka, Shashith Gowda V.Y (10’, 46’), Patil Mailaragouda (16’), Sarthak G. (23’), Mohan B.P (34’, 39’), Kolekar Sohan Chandrashekhar (50’), Lennan Madappa C.P (54’) and Poovanna K.P (56’) were the goal scorers.

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In the last match of the day, the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu faced Kerala Hockey. Kerala Hockey won the match 6-1. For Kerala Hockey, Dinesh Minz (2’), Raju Bangari (20’), Suraj Bahala (28’, 32’, 53’) and Nadeem K N (39’) got on the scoresheet, while for the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, Gowtham (18’) was the lone goal scorer.

–IANS

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Harbhajan blasts Pakistan supporter for asking who is better between Dhoni and Rizwan

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Harbhajan blasts Pakistan supporter for asking who is better between Dhoni and Rizwan

Harbhajan blasts Pakistan supporter for asking who is better between Dhoni and Rizwan

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has lambasted a Pakistan cricket fan and journalist Farid Khan for comparing Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan with former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and asking who is better.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Farid Khan, who lists himself as having worked for the Pakistan Cricket Board, Pakistan Super League, Lanka Premier League (LPL) 2024, and T10 Global League, made the comparison of Rizwan with the former India great.

“MS Dhoni or Mohammad Rizwan? Who is better? Tell me honestly,” Farid, who claims to be Pakistan’s most engaging sports content creator on X, wrote in his post.

However, Harbhajan was furious with this comparison asking Farid, “What r u (sic) smoking nowadays???”

He dubbed the comparison a silly question claiming that Dhoni is the No.1 in world cricket even today and there was none better than him behind stumps”.

“What r u smoking nowadays???? What a silly question to ask. Bhaiyo isko batao (Brothers tell him). DHONI bhut aage hai RIZWAN se (Dhoni is far ahead of Rizwan). Even if u will ask Rizwan he will give u an honest answer for this. I like Rizwan, he is good player who always plays with intent..but this comparison is wrong. DHONI No. 1 even today in world cricket. None better thn him behind stumps,” said Harbhajan in response to the post.

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In 90 Tests, Dhoni has claimed 256 catches and 38 stumpings while in One-day internationals, he had taken 321 catches and made 123 stumpings in 350 matches. In 90 Tests, Dhoni scored 4,876 runs at 38.09 average, hitting six hundreds and 33 fifties.

In comparison, Rizwan has taken 78 catches and made three stumpings in 30 Test matches while in 74 ODIs, he has taken the same number of 76 catches and three stumpings. In 30 Tests, Rizwan had scored 1616 runs at a batting average of 40.4 with two centuries and nine fifties.

–IANS

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