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Bengal Pro T20 League: Aim to contribute in growth and development of cricket in WB, says new franchise owner

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New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) The inaugural edition of Bengal Pro T20 League is set to begin in June 2024 following the conclusion of IPL 2024. Franchisees have started preparing for the much-awaited league and have set their eyes on the local talent of Bengal.

The Bengal Pro T20 League is conceptualised on the lines of the IPL involving 8 franchise teams in both the men’s and women’s categories and the newly formed franchise teams are excited to be part of the showpiece event.

Servotech Power Systems Ltd, who has been recently onboarded as the franchise owner for one of the teams in the Bengal Pro T20 League, is focusing on broadening the reach of cricket across diverse demographics in Bengal.

“Our entry into Bengal cricket brings along with it the entry of fresh energy and enthusiasm into the sport that will inspire both players and fans alike and will increase our brand presence. We want to nurture the next generation of Bengali cricketers by providing them with right kind of opportunities and platform on the national and international stage,” Rishabh Bhatia, the Marketing Head of Servotech Power Systems Ltd told IANS.

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“Our strong focus on community engagement and grassroots initiatives will help broaden the reach of cricket across diverse demographics, fostering inclusivity and participation at all levels. Bengal has always been a hub of talent and we are enthusiastic that our entry into Bengal cricket will mark a new era of growth and we will be able to bring the right kind of talent to light,” he added.

The newly formed franchise’s main objective is to foster the growth and advancement of cricket in West Bengal. In pursuit of this goal, they will prioritise the identification, and cultivation, of promising talent from within the state.

“We do plan to nurture local talent via the Bengal Pro T20 League by providing a platform for aspiring cricketers from Bengal to showcase their skills and fulfill their potential. We will identify, groom, and promote promising talent, ensuring that they receive the necessary support, guidance, and exposure and provide them with the resources and opportunities needed to succeed in professional cricket,” he said.

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“Overall, we aim to contribute to the growth and development of cricket in Bengal but also empower young cricketers to pursue their dreams and aspirations in the sport. We feel that it’s a win-win situation for both the players and the cricket ecosystem of Bengal,” the Marketing Head of the company signed off.

–IANS

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'You absolutely need to have the discipline…': Watson's advice on social media usage

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) While IPL 2024 produced towering scores, stellar spells and unforgettable memories for cricket connoisseurs, the tournament also saw numerous instances of players being trolled and abused on their social media handles by anonymous fan accounts.

In this ever-growing digital age, social media has become an inseparable part of cricketers’ lives. A good performance on a particular match day will bring them huge praise from fans. But if they have a bad on-field performance day, then the players are at the receiving end of unsavoury comments from the same fans who cheered for them on the day they do well.

Shane Watson, the former Australia all-rounder, believes the modern-day cricketers need to develop a discipline where they don’t get into reading nasty comments on their social media accounts.

“Not just cricketers, people in general and performers when you’re putting yourself, especially in the public domain, one thing is yes, there’s huge advantages to social media. I enjoy looking at social media because I love learning things. So, in my feed there’s whether it’s cooking or coffee or different things about learning and parenting come up in my feed that I love,” said Watson in an exclusive interview with IANS, on the sidelines of his new book ‘The Winner’s Mindset’ launched by HarperCollins Publishers India.

“But when it comes to social media around your own performances, you absolutely need to have the discipline to be able to not go into the comments at all. Whether you’ve had a good day or especially when you’ve had a bad day, because you’ve had a good day, people are building up even bigger than what you really are.

“So, you can get a little bit overconfident and ahead of yourself. The downside is you read the comments when you haven’t had a good day and there’s going to be people piling in on you and your performances, like personal attacks,”

Granted that cricket, with its religion-like status in India, involves high emotions of fans who want to see their favourite teams be on a winning spree. In his book, Watson has written about how reading comments made by faceless trolls can have a huge impact on players putting out their best performances and of techniques which can help them overcome it.

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“It’s hard enough to perform at your best when it’s just you and your own thoughts, and trying to manage those to bring the best version of you every time you step out. If then you’ve got people who don’t know you, have got no understanding of the work and everything that you are putting into bringing the best that you possibly can to be best version of you, then that infiltrates your mindset.

“You start to get the shovel out and start digging a deep hole mentally because of those people who’ve got no idea about actually who and what you are and what you’re doing. So, I recommend to everyone that I talk to around using social media, obviously there’s huge benefits to it, but it’s a really simple way to not have the downside of it by being very disciplined around not looking and reading the comments.

“If you don’t do that, then you just get the upside of social media, which there’s a lot, but you don’t have the downside, which then can significantly impact your ability to be able to perform because of those fears of failure, doubts, lack of confidence that comes by reading the comments and the negative comments in particular,” he explained.

In the book, Watson writes about the next step in cricket’s evolution being training cricketers’ minds to produce and execute skills under pressure. So how do cricketers build their mental skills and get it to help them perform under pressure. Watson, a two-time ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy winner, thinks it should begin from a young age, when their technical and physical skills are developing.

“When they’re developing all three together, then it’s a perfect storm from a young age. A lot of the time, the mental skills might be learnt indirectly from coaches who tell you specific things. To know why they’re so important and powerful, its because when you start to go off track, you don’t know why you were doing these things to then just pull yourself back into using and applying these mental skills.

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“I’ve seen it even with some of the greatest players. When things have gone off track, even when they’ve been dominant for a long period of time, they don’t know why these things that they used were so powerful and struggled to be able to get back on track.”

“So, by developing these mental skills and applying these and mastering these from as a teenager in particular, and then going into your 20s, you get closer to mastering your mental skills, which means you can bring the very best version of you from a younger age. Whereas for me, I started that at the age of 34.

“It took a couple of years really of integrating those in every aspect of my life, especially around my training and then performance in game, to be able to get closer to mastering it. So then I knew how to be able to bring the best version of myself and access all my skills.

“So, when you apply those mental skills from a younger age, you don’t have the stress, anxiety and worry that goes with performance to bring out the positive side – the best version of you every time when stepping in to perform,” he elaborated.

After his playing career ended, Watson has taken up coaching roles which require him to use his mental skills into bringing the best performances out of teams, something which he calls has been fascinating. He worked as the mental skills performance coach with the men’s NSW Blues squad from September 2023 to February 2024, apart from two IPL seasons as an assistant coach with the Delhi Capitals.

Apart from being Australian Cricketers Association President for four years and taking up commentary roles, Watson has coached Quetta Gladiators, who entered the PSL 2024 playoffs this year and will be flying to USA for his second season of coaching the San Francisco Unicorns in the Major League Cricket (MLC) season two in July.

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“It’s what I absolutely love – being able to be a coach. The core things that I worked on when I was at the Delhi Capitals, and now with the head coaching roles I’ve had as well, I’d say probably 70% is all to do with mental skills and around mental skills coaching, like setting that environment up at the start so people really understand the mental skills side of us as human beings.

“But then the one-on-ones that I do with players, that’s where I really get the most cut through because even the highest performers that I’ve worked and played with, they had a lot of very good times. But they also had times where they would sabotage their own performance because of having the wrong thoughts at the wrong times.

“Being able to educate people and pass on this information, even if they pick up one or two little things that it might not have to do with their ability to perform at their best, it absolutely could be very relevant to them in dealing with setbacks, failure, to be able to reduce and significantly pull out stress, anxiety and worry that goes with not performing and not getting the results you are looking for.

“So, there’s a number of different sides that I tap into as a mental skills coach, because that’s the thing that we’re chasing – to be able to perform more consistently better and pull out all our skills that we’ve worked so tirelessly for. But then to deal with failure and not have the stress, anxiety and worries that builds up when we haven’t got the results that we’re looking for especially holds importance if it becomes over a smaller period of time,” he concluded.

–IANS

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Diamond League Oslo: When and where to watch

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Oslo (Norway), May 30 (IANS) The sixth meet of the 2024 Diamond League is set to take place, here at the Bislett Olympic Stadium on Thursday.

The world’s best athletes will compete against each other as the premier meet comes to Europe for the first time, this season.

Home favourite and reigning Olympic champion Karsten Warholm is due to make his season’s debut in the men’s 400m hurdles. Tokyo 2020 Gold medal winner Jakob Ingebrigtsen is another home boy who will be in action in men’s 1500m.

Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (200m), Italy’s Marcell Jacobs (100m), Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei (5000m) and Sweden’s Daniel Stahl (discus) are the other Olympic champions who will be competing in Oslo.

There will be no Indian track and field athlete in action at the Oslo meet.

Diamond Disciplines at Oslo 2024-

Women: Discus Throw, 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 3,000 meters, 400-meter hurdles

Men: Pole vault, Triple jump, Discus Throw, 100 meters, 400 meters, 1,500 meters, 5,000 meters, 400-meter hurdles

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Live Streaming details for Oslo Diamond League 2024-

When to watch Oslo Diamond League 2024: The one-day meet of Diamond League 2024 series is scheduled on Thursday, May 30. The track and field action will start at 11: 30 pm IST onwards.

TV broadcast of Oslo Diamond League 2024 in India: Sports18 – 3

The live streaming of Diamond League will be available on JioCinema. Fans can also follow the scores on the official website of Diamond League.

–IANS

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Virat Kohli is just so mentally tough, says ex-Aussie all-rounder Shane Watson

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Shane Watson, the former Australia all-rounder, thinks Indian cricket stalwarts Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni stand out as the most mentally strong players he played alongside in his vast playing career.

Right-handed batter Kohli recently finished as the leading run-getter in IPL 2024 with 741 runs for the Royal Challengers Bengaluru and will be seen next in action for India in the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup, starting from June 1.

“The people that I’ve worked with one-on-one, I won’t take names in particular, but just a bit of a knowing that even the high-quality international cricketers that I’ve worked with, like at the Delhi Capitals, for example, just the things that I’ve seen are – one, just their ability to be able to step into each game confidently and knowing what the best version of them looks like, so they’re stepping into that every single time.

“Then the way they debrief a performance, especially when it’s not a great performance – how they debrief that and just turn their focus then to what they need to do in the lead up or during the next game to be able to bring a better version or give themselves a better chance of having a good performance. So, there’s two people that stand out for me, as I have played with both of these guys.

“One is Virat Kohli, who is just so mentally tough. He fully understands how to bring the best version of himself, which is getting in the battle, having his back up against a war where it’s you or me, and he’s fully engaged in every moment of every game. It’s that intensity that he brings to, just about every game, is superhuman.

“There’s only really a couple of other people that I’ve played with or played against who had that consistent intensity every moment of every game So that’s something about Virat, that we’ve seen in this IPL, just how engaged he is. That’s why he’s been able to sustain such high performances for such a long period of time,” said Watson in an exclusive interview with IANS, on the sidelines of his new book ‘The Winner’s Mindset’ launched by HarperCollins Publishers India.

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On the other hand, veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dhoni amassed 161 runs in 14 innings for the Chennai Super Kings in the recently-concluded tournament, including wowing the crowd with 14 fours and 13 sixes.

“But then you’ve got on the other side of the fence is MS Dhoni, who is opposite of that intensity from Virat. He doesn’t need to be like nine out of 10 with his intensity level; he needs to be at around six. But he needs to be in that sort of pocket where he’s still fully engaged and trusting his intuition because it’s as good as there’s ever been.

“Even at the ripe of age of 42, he still knows how to be able to let his mind be free to be able to access his skills that are so deeply ingrained. So, MS Dhoni, his understanding of the information and the world around him, to be able to break that into really simple concepts is one of his superpowers.”

“That’s the reason why he’s been able to be such a successful leader because he knows how to redirect players at the right time – whether it’s in game or in the lead-up to games. But then it’s also about him doing that for himself as well.

“So that’s why for me there’s no surprise why he continues to play so well even in this sort of smaller capacity that he has from a batting perspective, like last three overs. But you can see from a keeping perspective, he’s still keeping as well as he ever has. So those two guys (Kohli and Dhoni) stand out to me the most in terms of the current players,”,” added Watson.

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Watson, the leading run-getter in the 2012 Men’s T20 World Cup, thinks mental preparation will play a huge part in various players adapting from IPL conditions in India to the ones they would face in the West Indies and USA for the showpiece event.

“It comes down to just understanding that even though it’s a Men’s T20 World Cup, it’s not bigger than any other game; as in it’s still the same skill set. As a batter, you’re still facing a bowler. You’ve got to assess the conditions and got to trust what you feel with the conditions. You’ve got to prepare as well as you can so that you’re bringing the best version of you from a skill set perspective.

“So, in the end, these are world-class cricketers who are going from an IPL, for example, and they’re gonna have to make little adjustments to the conditions and pitches that they’re gonna be facing. Also, whether it’s temperature, and a new team environment as well. That’s where by understanding these mental skills deeply and applying those into just who you are, you build a really strong, like a bulletproof cocoon around you.

“So then whichever direction and team you go into, or the conditions that you are facing, you do know how to tap into the very best version of you and tap into those skills that you’ve got so deeply ingrained. The masters of their mental skills are the ones who are able to do that quicker and more consistently to be able to step into the best versions of themselves,” he stated.

Pat Cummins had an amazing 2023 as a captain – leading Australia to World Test Championship title, retaining the Ashes in England and winning the ODI World Cup in India, apart from being adjudged as ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year. Though Cummins’ midas touch didn’t give Sunrisers Hyderabad the IPL 2024 title, Watson is impressed with things that stand out in terms of the ace fast-bowler’s leadership skills.

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“A couple of things to stand out in terms of Pat Cummins. One is that he allows people to be themselves. He allows people to play with freedom. So whether that’s you’ve seen someone like Travis Head for Australia, you’ve seen someone like Mitchell Marsh who have come under Pat Cummins’ leadership and they have absolutely thrived because he just said, you just go out and you just be you.”

“If you wanna like take the game on from ball one, then you do it, if you believe you’ve got the skills and you’ve got a run of it. You’re not like if you miss out in a couple of games, you’re not gonna be dropped. So that’s number one. But the other thing with you can see Pat on the field is he’s just himself. He’s a chilled, and relaxed guy that doesn’t get fired up.”

“He doesn’t get angry; he’s just very calm and stays that way and keeps that level of calmness. So, then people around him feel that as well. So that’s, that’s where they sort of move their energy to as well. That’s what you need under pressure, you need a captain who’s not going to be putting extra pressure on you to be able to execute your skills.”

“Instead, he gives you the right information to be able to clear your mind so you can, and are getting the best chance of executing your skills. That’s what Pat Cummins does so incredibly well. The reason why in my mind, he’s had so much success is that it’s just natural, which is who he is, how he is and he’s not trying to be someone else. He’s just being himself, which is getting the best out of people around him,” he concluded.

–IANS

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Flick wants to repeat successful Bayern times at Barcelona

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Berlin, May 30 (IANS) August 14, 2020, remains etched in the history of Catalan football. That evening, Bayern Munich dismantled Barcelona 8-2 in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, a traumatic experience for FC Barcelona.

Fast forward four years, the man who led Bayern to that victory, Hansi Flick, has signed a contract with the Spanish giants, valid until 2026. The 59-year-old addressed Barcelona fans in Catalan on the club’s social media channels, asking for their support. “Culers, that’s our moment. Forza Barca,” said the former German national coach, succeeding Barca icon Xavi.

In 2020, Flick reached the pinnacle of his coaching career, winning six titles with Bayern, a feat only matched by Pep Guardiola with Barcelona in 2009. Flick’s tenure at Bayern, although brief at 18 months, was highly successful, yielding seven titles, including the Champions League and two national championships, reports Xinhua.

Flick’s coaching highlights also include winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup as Joachim Loew’s assistant, where he significantly influenced the German team’s success. However, his time as Germany’s head coach from 2021 to 2023 was tumultuous, marked by a group-stage exit at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, leading to his dismissal – the first in the national team’s history.

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Flick earned a reputation as a player-catcher, maintaining close relationships with his players and fostering a strong team spirit despite internal club disagreements. In 2020, he was named Europe’s Coach of the Year.

Flick becomes the third German to coach Barcelona, following Hennes Weisweiler (1975/76) and Udo Lattek (1981-1983). Despite not speaking Spanish, Flick, a four-time German champion as a player, will rely on a translator’s support.

At Barcelona, Flick will reunite with familiar faces such as goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, German national team captain Ilkay Gundogan, and former Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski.

Flick expressed optimism, “The club’s game approach and mine fit perfectly together. We talk about pressing and attacking football. I won several titles with Bayern, and I want to continue that with Barca.”

Aside from a brief stint as assistant coach at RB Salzburg in Austria, this is Flick’s first job abroad. “I am hungry for success,” he said, expressing pride in coaching a club like Barcelona, “as I feel everyone’s passion for this special club.”

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Expectations are high, with the goal of returning to national and international glory despite the club’s reported financial challenges. Flick is also expected to integrate talents developed in Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.

–IANS

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French Open: Iga Swiatek saves match point to beat Naomi Osaka

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Paris, May 30 (IANS) World No.1 Iga Swiatek came back from 0-3 down to save a match point at 5-3 in the decider before overcoming Naomi Osaka and pulling off a great escape into the third round at the French Open here on Wednesday.

In a clash between two four-time Grand Slam winners, Swiatek, the top seed, pulled things back to 5-5 and ultimately prevailed 7-6(1), 1-6, 7-5 under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

While raindrops were pelted the stadium roof, and disrupted the schedule on the outer courts, Swiatek of Poland faced some tough questions from former World No.1 Osaka, a two-time winner at both the Australian and US Open, in this early second-round test.

Though she was playing her least favourite surface and is just five months into her comeback following the birth of daughter Skai, Osaka pushed Swiatek, a three-time winner at Roland Garros, to the absolute limit.

In a tense and thrilling match that had the look and feel of a championship final, Osaka was her vintage self. Despite being ranked No.134 in the latest WTA rankings, the Japanese star played like it was 2019, the year she won her first Grand Slam in Australia, achieved the World No.1 ranking and also won the WTA Tour Finals.

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However, in the end, Swiatek tapped into her energy reserves and fought back bravely to emerge victorious.

This was Swiatek’s 16th consecutive win at Roland Garros, the most since Justine Henin won 24 straight between 2005-10. This was also Swiatek’s 14th straight win this year.

Osaka actually won more points, had 17 more winners and more service breaks — but Swiatek was better when it mattered.

After splitting the first two sets, Osaka faced three break points in her opening service game — and saved them all. She then broke Swiatek with a backhand crosscourt winner to go 2-0 up. In Osaka’s second service game, she saved five more break points, before Swiatek’s forehand return found the net.

Now Osaka led 3-0 and went on to serve for the match at 5-3.

But at 30-all, she smashed a forehand into the net followed by a backhand that flew long. On Swiatek’s second break point, Osaka hit what looked like a makeable backhand just long and the match was back on serve.

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In the end, Osaka just could not close the deal. There were some tired-looking forehands and, with Osaka serving at 5-all, a double fault that gave Swiatek a pivotal 6-5 advantage.

Leading 30-15, Swiatek hit a screaming backhand crosscourt winner to go up 40-15. One more errant backhand from Osaka gave her the match.

Gauff ousts Zidansek

No.3 seed Coco Gauff edged former Roland Garros semifinalist Tamara Zidansek 6-3, 6-4 to move through to the third round. The American needed 1 hour and 31 minutes to edge the Slovenian, once ranked World No.22 but a qualifier in Paris this year, and bounced back to ease to victory after trailing 3-1 in the first set.

Gauff double-faulted twice in the opening game of the match en route to losing serve. But those were her only double faults of the first set. The World No.3 also trailed 2-1 in the second set after Zidansek broke back and held after losing the opening game — and also saw a 4-2 lead evaporate to 4-4. But after a break to 15, her third of the match, Gauff held her serve from 15-30 down and sailed safely into the Round of 32.

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–IANS

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