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Asian Cycling: Gold winner Sarita, mason's daughter from Jharkhand, aspires to provide better life for her parents

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New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) After clinching a gold medal in the junior Team Sprint event at the Asian Track Cycling Championships here, India’s Sarita Kumari, whose father works as a mason in Jharkhand, wants to provide a better life for her parents.

Her journey to the podium is inspirational. Despite her father’s profession of building houses, Savita, who has five sisters and two brothers, has a semi-constructed home.

She was selected in the Khelo India SAI centre in Patiala based on her running skills in 2021. It was there that she encountered a bicycle for the first time.

“At the SAI centre, I saw a bicycle for the first time, I had no idea where the brakes were and all. Our coach Joginder sir explained everything to us,” recalled Sarita.

Sarita exhibited her prowess in the Junior Women’s category at the recent Asian Track Cycling Championships 2024 in New Delhi, clinching the bronze medal with an impressive final time of 36.966 seconds. Her exceptional talent was evident from the qualifying round, where she clocked in at 36.912 seconds, securing her a well-deserved spot in the finals.

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Besides her bronze, Sarita was also the part of the women’s junior team, comprising Niya Sebastian, Zaina Mohammed, Ali Pirkhan and Sabina Kumari who created history by beating Korea with an impressive timing of 53.383s to win gold in the team sprint event.

Sarita’s parents are not quite aware of what sport she is doing as she revealed that “My father knows that I play for India, but he doesn’t know exactly at what level I am and what I play. My mother still thinks that I do athletics and doesn’t know that I do cycle racing” while revealing that her parents have never watched her doing sports as they didn’t have a TV or smartphone at home.

Sarita started sports with a fervent desire to adorn her country’s crest with medals, regardless of the sport in which she competed with the target to attain a good job and secure a better lifestyle for her folks.

“I was not fond of cycling, I just wanted to win medals for India, no matter what the game. Then I got selected in cycling, so I focused on that only. I aim to win medals for my country so that I can secure a job and provide a better life for my parents.”

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–IANS

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IPL 2024: 'Gambhir said I would be happy if we stand at podium with the trophy' reveals Nitish Rana

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Shortly after Kolkata Knight Riders clinched their third IPL title with an eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, in-form all-rounder Sunil Narine lifted team mentor Gautam Gambhir in jubilation and the two-time IPL-winning captain returned the favour to him.

One of the major talking points for KKR ahead of IPL 2024 was how would they perform with Gambhir returning as the mentor, with an eye to end their decade-long trophy drought, something which he talked in his first team speech at the pre-season camp in Kolkata.

On Sunday, Gambhir stayed true to his words as KKR lifted its third IPL title and 12 years after their first won the championship in 2012. “I want to share one short story that when GG bhaiya was named the mentor, I sent him a long message as I was really happy. But he replied saying, “Thank you but I would be happy if we stand at the podium with the trophy in our hands.” Today is that day and I will never forget that message,” revealed Nitish Rana in post-final chat with broadcasters.

The IPL 2024 triumph for KKR, shaped by their bowlers as they bowled out SRH for just 113, also left assistant coach and KKR academy head Abhishek Nayar joyful, after being called in to join by leg-spinner Varun Chakaravarthy.

“It means everything. I started playing IPL in the first season and it has taken me 16 years for the first title after two finals. I am really happy for the boys. I cannot express how happy I am. The big man (Andre Russell) turning up as usual. It is the most surreal feeling I have had in a long time.”

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Similar emotions were echoed by Venkatesh Iyer, who top-scored in the chase of 114 with 52 not out off 26 balls. “Really happy with it. As Varun mentioned, Abhishek Nayar deserves all the credit in the world.”

“Some contributions go unnoticed, I want to make sure they don’t. This guy deserves all the credit in the world for the way he has been working for this franchise. This win is for the fans who turned up year after year and waited for ten years.”

Speaking of Russell, last year, he had a rough time with KKR in the IPL, with certain fans calling for him to be ousted from the set-up. But this year, Russell turned out to be one of the vital cogs in KKR’s triumph, leaving the big-hitting all-rounder in tears.

“No words to describe. It means so much. I am happy that all of us were very disciplined and worked towards one goal. This franchise has done a lot for me. It’s a big gift from all of us to them.”

Rinku Singh was at his jolly best over becoming an IPL-winning player with KKR. “Outstanding feeling right now. My dream of seven years is complete. Finally I will lift the trophy. I am proud of my whole team and GG sir. It was God’s plan.”

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Pacer Vaibhav Arora, who shined alongside Harshit Rana in the season, was happy to play his part in KKR’s spectacular triumph. “My role is to take wickets with the new ball. After that the spinners were doing their jobs. So today also the aim was to take wickets in the powerplay, which happened as well.”

Bowling coach Bharat Arun said it is a moment which the whole unit will savour to the fullest. “I think it was pretty tough, the last two years. It was touch and go – we didn’t qualify. It needed a lot of introspection and now we can savour this moment. He (Harshit Rana) has been outstanding. It’s about backing your strengths.”

He also thought Mitchell Starc’s inclusion was a huge boost for the side. “I think Mitch coming into the team boosted the confidence of other youngsters in the side. He is probably the best bowler in the world. Once he understood the Indian conditions, he was excellent.”

Arun also lauded the move to get Narine as an opener, which was proposed by Gambhir. “Spinners mature with age, and with Sunny and Varun bowling in tandem, it was superb. He (Narine) brought a totally different dimension to our batting. It was Gautam who insisted that he opened and it paid dividends. It’s a great night and now it’s time to celebrate.”

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Opener-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz was a late entrant to KKR eleven due to Phil Salt’s stellar performance and had to go back home due to his mother’s health. Now he’s a two-time IPL winner after being part of Gujarat Titans side in 2022.

“My mom is watching from the home. She is feeling good now. I asked mom before the match if she wanted anything. She said just the win. When Salt was playing, I wasn’t expecting to get a chance but I knew it’s a long tournament and I needed to be ready. Once I got the chance, I was well prepared.”

For now, there’s a talk in the KKR camp about the celebrations, with Harshit Rana saying, “I cannot tell how happy I am.” Angkrish Raghuvanshi echoed the same sentiment. “It’s yet to sink in yet. Maybe it will after the party at night.”

All-rounder Ramandeep Singh said he will be busy in selecting songs for the KKR party in Chennai. “I am really happy. We worked really hard for it, so feeling really happy. It’s a great environment. Poora gaah payeya hoeya hai (We have had a ball). I am the DJ, I play the song people demand.”

–IANS

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Mamata Banerjee, Yuvraj Singh congratulate KKR for IPL 2024 win

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Celebrations fueled around after Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) outplayed Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in all departments to clinch their third IPL championship with a comprehensive eight-wicket win in a relatively one-sided IPL 2024 title clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee wishing KKR for their IPL title victory wrote on ‘X’, “Kolkata Knight Riders’ win has brought about an air of celebration all across Bengal. I would like to personally congratulate the players, the support staff and the franchise for their record breaking performance in this season of the IPL.

“Wishing for more such enchanting victories in the years to come!” she added.

KKR’s bowlers, led by stellar spells from Andre Russell (3-19), Mitchell Starc (2-14) & Harshit Rana (2-24), bowled out SRH for just 113, the lowest total in an IPL final. In reply, the batters, led by Venkatesh Iyer’s 52 not out off 26 balls, chased down the total in just 10.3 overs to make it the second time the side won an IPL title in Chennai.

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Former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh congratulating KKR wrote on ‘X’, “Congratulations to @KKRiders on being crowned @IPL 2024 champions. They’ve been the standout team all thru the season. Kudos to @SunRisers for a stellar run – but the better team prevailed today. Special shoutout to @GautamGambhir for his fearless mentorship, and to the King of Hearts, @iamsrk for his success in both cinema and cricket this year!”.

–IANS

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IPL 2024: KKR outplay SRH to win final by eight wickets, clinch third title (ld)

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders outplayed Sunrisers Hyderabad in all departments to clinch their third IPL championship with a comprehensive eight-wicket win in a relatively one-sided IPL 2024 title clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

KKR’s bowlers, led by stellar spells from Andre Russell (3-19), Mitchell Starc (2-14) & Harshit Rana (2-24), bowled out SRH for just 113, the lowest total in an IPL final. In reply, the batters, led by Venkatesh Iyer’s 52 not out off 26 balls, chased down the total in just 10.3 overs to make it the second time the side won an IPL title in Chennai.

On a red-soil pitch, only winning the toss was the lone right thing for SRH as they never got any partnership or momentum to post the lowest total in an IPL final. Starc and Vaibhav Arora bowled consistently in the good length area, and had the ball swinging continuously, followed by others getting grip to leave SRH in tatters.

Such was the fantastic bowling show that every KKR bowler had at least one wicket against their names. Starc gave KKR a bright start from the word go when he hit Abhishek Sharma’s top of off-stump with a delivery which began from leg-stump and then nipped away sharply, reminding everyone of how he began 2015 Men’s ODI World Cup final.

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In the next over, Arora’s seaming across delivery resulted in Travis Head nicking behind for a golden duck. After early movement, Starc bowled a short cross-seam delivery on which Rahul Tripathi tried to flick, but gave a massive top edge to mid-wicket fielder. Aiden Markram and Nitish Kumar Reddy looked to counter-attack with four quick boundaries.

But there was no stopping KKR as Harshit Rana bowled three slower balls, before bowling a nipping away seam-up delivery which took Reddy’s edge on the drive behind to keeper. Markram was next to fall, pulling to long-on off a short ball with extra bounce from Russell.

Wickets continued to crumble for SRH as Shahbaz Ahmed top-edged a sweep to short fine leg off Varun Chakaravarthy, followed by impact player Abdul Samad edging away from his body to keeper off Russell and Heinrich Klaasen played on to his stumps off a slower ball from Harshit.

A few boundaries from captain Pat Cummins, who top-scored with 24, took SRH past 100. But he and Jaydev Unadkat fell in quick succession as one of the most attacking batting line-ups of the tournament folded for 113.

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Chasing 114, KKR lost Sunil Narine cheaply when he went too early in his flick off Pat Cummins and thick leading edge was caught by deep mid-wicket, after hitting a pulled six. Venkatesh launched a counter-attack by dancing down the pitch to smack Bhuvneshwar Kumar for two successive sixes, after glancing him for a four to take 20 runs off the third over.

From the other end, Rahmanullah Gurbaz brought out his cut and loft to take two fours, followed by outside edges giving him two more boundaries. Venkatesh cut and pulled fiercely off T Natrajan for consecutive fours, before flicking and swiping handsomely to take six and four respectively off the left-arm pacer, as KKR reached 72/1 at the end of power-play, also the highest total in a six-over phase of the IPL finals.

Gurbaz took over by sweeping Shahbaz Ahmed for six and lofting the left-arm spinner for another maximum, happening on the either side of pulling Jaydev Unadkat for four. But Shahbaz had the last laugh by trapping a sweeping Gurbaz lbw.

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Shreyas Iyer opened his account by reverse-sweeping Shahbaz for four, followed by Venkatesh getting his fifty in 24 balls and he fittingly finished off the chase with a single to clinch third IPL title for KKR, undoubtedly the most consistent side in the competition.

It also the first time Shreyas becomes an IPL winning captain on his second attempt, something which will be a very sweet triumph for him after being excluded from the Indian Test team and BCCI central contracts earlier this year.

Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 113 in 18.3 overs (Pat Cummins 24, Aiden Markram 20; Andre Russell 3-19, Mitchell Starc 2-14) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 114/2 in 10.3 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 52 not out, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 39; Pat Cummins 1-18, Shahbaz Ahmed 1-22) by eight wickets.

–IANS

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IPL 2024: KKR outplay SRH to win final by eight wickets, clinch third title

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) outplayed Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in all departments to clinch their third IPL championship with a comprehensive eight-wicket win in a relatively one-sided IPL 2024 title clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.

KKR’s bowlers, led by stellar spells from Andre Russell (3-19), Mitchell Starc (2-14) & Harshit Rana (2-24), bowled out SRH for just 113, the lowest total in an IPL final. In reply, the batters, led by Venkatesh Iyer’s 52 not out off 26 balls, chased down the total in just 10.3 overs to make it the second time the side won an IPL title in Chennai.

Chasing 114, KKR lost Sunil Narine cheaply when he went too early in his flick off Pat Cummins and thick leading edge was caught by deep mid-wicket, after hitting a pulled six. Venkatesh launched a counter-attack by dancing down the pitch to smack Bhuvneshwar Kumar for two successive sixes, after glancing him for a four to take 20 runs off the third over.

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From the other end, Rahmanullah Gurbaz brought out his cut and loft to take two fours, followed by outside edges giving him two more boundaries. Venkatesh cut and pulled fiercely off T Natrajan for consecutive fours, before flicking and swiping handsomely to take six and four respectively off the left-arm pacer, as KKR reached 72/1 at the end of power-play, also the highest total in a six-over phase of the IPL finals.

Gurbaz took over by sweeping Shahbaz Ahmed for six and lofting the left-arm spinner for another maximum, happening on the either side of pulling Jaydev Unadkat for four. But Shahbaz had the last laugh by trapping a sweeping Gurbaz lbw.

Shreyas Iyer opened his account by reverse-sweeping Shahbaz for four, followed by Venkatesh getting his fifty in 24 balls and he fittingly finished off the chase with a single to clinch third IPL title for KKR. It also the first time Shreyas becomes an IPL winning captain on his second attempt, after being excluded from the Test team and BCCI central contracts earlier this year.

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Brief Scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 113 in 18.3 overs (Pat Cummins 24, Aiden Markram 20; Andre Russell 3-19, Mitchell Starc 2-14) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 114/2 in 10.3 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 52 not out, Rahmanullah Gurbaz 39; Pat Cummins 1-18, Shahbaz Ahmed 1-22) by eight wickets.

–IANS

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French Open: Naomi Osaka secures hard-fought victory over Lucia Bronzetti

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Paris, May 26 (IANS) Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka fought off a fierce comeback from Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti to secure her first victory at Roland Garros in three years. Japan’s Osaka, who recently returned from maternity leave, clinched the win 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, overcoming late resistance from the world number 67.

Osaka’s return to the clay courts of Paris was met with anticipation, as the former world number one aimed to improve her record at the French Open, where she has never advanced past the last 32. The match began on a gusty Court Philippe-Chatrier, where Osaka swiftly took control, winning five consecutive games to wrap up the first set in just 27 minutes.

However, Bronzetti was not to be dismissed easily. After initially struggling against Osaka’s powerful serve, the Italian found her rhythm in the second set. With tenacity, Bronzetti converted a critical break point at 5-4, forcing a decider and bringing the match to an unexpected climax.

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The final set saw Osaka in a commanding position, leading 4-0, but Bronzetti mounted a remarkable comeback, leveling the score. Yet, Osaka’s resilience shone through as she broke Bronzetti’s serve once more, regaining her lead and finally serving out the match to complete the two-hour battle.

Looking ahead, Osaka faces a daunting challenge in the second round, where she is set to meet defending champion and heavy title favorite Iga Swiatek. Swiatek, who will take on France’s Leolia Jeanjean in her opener, represents a significant hurdle for Osaka, but the match promises to be a highlight of the tournament.

Elsewhere in the tournament, Latvian ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko advanced with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Romanian Jaqueline Cristian. The 2017 champion will next face either Tatjana Maria of Germany or Dane Clara Tauson. Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, seeded 30th, overcame a set deficit to defeat Australian wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

–IANS

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