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Bhatia tied 2nd with Scheffler as they trail Korean star Tom Kim in Travelers golf

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Cromwell, June 22 (IANS) Akshay Bhatia stayed in the group tied at second place in the US$20 million Travelers Championship as Korea’s Tom Kim (65) retained his first round two-stroke lead on Friday.

Kim celebrated his 22nd birthday in style by firing a 5-under 65 and remaining bogey-free for a second straight day.

Indian American Bhatia, who shot 64 on the first day, added a 65 with seven birdies and two bogeys. He birdied twice in the first three holes and added further birdies on the sixth, eighth and ninth and then 15th and 17th. A bogey on fifth was his first dropped shot and the next came on 18th.

Another Indian American Sahith Theegala (69-67) was T-24.

He said, “It was great. I hit a lot of quality shots. I got up-and-down when I needed to, other than 18, but other than that I played good. The wind was supposed to be out of the south and it was northeast the majority of the day, so it was pretty interesting how that came about.”

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“I’m playing great. I mean, this is why I’m playing, this is seven in a row for me, I just want to keep building on good golf and kind of learning as I go. I feel like I’ve been working really hard on my technique especially this week, and I feel like my coach and I have found a feel that works, so we’re just kind of trying to build on that and focus on that as much as I can,” added Bhatia.

He went on, “There’s so many trees guarding you, like 10, 11, 12, 13, it is really hot during that stretch. I mean you can’t feel a breath of wind. So when you’re standing over, or you’re waiting for your opponent to putt, you’re dying. So, it’s definitely extreme, but it also makes the golf course a little easier.”

Seeking a fourth PGA TOUR victory, the hugely-talented Kim continued his impressive form at TPC River Highlands to reach a career-low 36-hole score of 13-under 127 as he kept his nose ahead of close friend and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (64), Collin Morikawa (63) and Akshay Bhatia (65) who sit in tied second place on 129.

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Compatriot Sungjae Im hit a 64 to move up to tied sixth on nine-under, four back, in what is the eighth and final Signature event of the 2024 PGA TOUR season.

Leader Kim said, “I’ve been playing really, really solid. It’s not about this week, it’s about keeping building these momentum blocks for the rest of the season,” explained Kim, who is competing in his eighth successive week on TOUR.

His round was highlighted by five birdies over his first 10 holes, before his game cooled off down the home stretch. Not only was Kim’s ball-striking laser-like where he missed only one fairway and one green, his putting was equally impressive where he nailed three birdie putts from between 13 to 16 feet. If Kim secures victory on Sunday, he will become the first Asian winner in the tournament’s history, eclipsing K.J. Choi’s joint runner-up finish in 2014.

He attributed his strong run of form to the extra time spent on the range, even after his sublime first-round performance where he fired a season’s low of 62.

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He is under no illusion that maintaining his advantage will be easy with the quality of the chasing pack, led by Scheffler who also celebrated his 28th birthday on Friday.

After struggling for most of the season, with a tied fourth at the RBC Canadian Open being his only top-10 earlier this month, Kim stressed the importance of maintaining his form not just for this week, but for the remainder of the season with the FedExCup Playoffs looming, plus the Olympic Games and Presidents Cup on the horizon as well.

–IANS

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Anahat, Bawa advance to Rd 4 in World Junior squash

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Houston, July 14 (IANS) Anahat Singh and Shaurya Bawa advanced to the fourth round of the World Junior Squash Championships in on Saturday in the girls’ and boys’ sections respectively.

Reigning women’s National champion Anahat, seeded 5/8, defeated Samantha Jaffe (17/32) of the US 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 in the third round and will meet Japan’s Akari Midorikawa (9/16) for a place in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Bawa (17/32) rallied to beat Rustin Wiser (9/16) of the US 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 in the third round and will lock horns with Segundo Portabales (17/32) of Argentina in the pre-quarterfinals.

Other Indian results:

Boys:

3rd round: Shaurya Bawa (17/32) bt Rustin Wiser (9/16) (US) 4-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6; Yuvraj Wadhwani (17/32) lost to Javier Emilio Romo Lopez (5/8) (Ecuador) 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 6-11.

2nd round: Ayaan Vaziralli lost to Wasey Maqsood (Canada) 3-11, 4-11, 9-11; Arihant KS lost to Low Wa-Sern (Malaysia) 11-9, 7-11, 4-11, 7-11; Wadhwani bt Ivan Santamaria (Colombia) 11-6, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4; Bawa bt Altamis A Sufian (Malaysia) 11-8, 11-7, 11-8; Avalokit Singh lost to Seojin Oh (S Korea) 6-11, 5-11, 7-11.

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Girls: 3rd round: Tiana Parasrampuria (17/32) lost to Lauren Baltayan (France) 5-11, 3-11, 3-11.

–IANS

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Former Pakistan allrounder Billy Ibadulla passes away at 88

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Former allrounder Billy Ibadulla, who was the first Pakistani to score a century on Test debut, passed away on Friday at 88.

The Pakistan Cricket Board extended its condolences to the deceased cricketer’s family.

“PCB extends its heartfelt condolences to his friends and family,” the board said in a statement.

Ibadulla made his Test debut against Australia in Karachi in 1964. He played a historic knock of 166 in the first innings of his first international appearance. His innings was part of a record-breaking 249-run opening partnership with fellow debutant and wicketkeeper Abdul Kadir, a record that still stands as the highest partnership between two debutants for any wicket in Test cricket.

Despite his spectacular start, Ibadulla’s Test career was brief. He played only three more Tests, and picked up one wicket in the format.

Ibadulla’s prowess was more pronounced in first-class cricket, where he amassed 17,078 runs at an average of 27.28 and claimed 462 wickets. He played 417 first-class matches, 377 of which were for Warwickshire, a club he served with distinction for over a decade.

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Later in his career, Ibadulla moved to New Zealand, where he played for Otago for a couple of seasons. His contributions to cricket extended beyond his playing days, as he stood as an umpire in 20 first-class matches and 12 List A games.

In List A cricket, Ibadulla scored 829 runs and took 84 wickets in 64 matches. His love for the game was passed down to his son, Kassem Ibadulla, who played 31 first-class games and 19 List A games for Gloucestershire and Otago.

–IANS

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Emotions are still going through, it was an unbelievable experience: Samson on WC win

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Sanju Samson, India’s vice-captain on T20I tour of Zimbabwe, recalled being a member of T20 World Cup winning team last month, saying emotions from the victorious scenes at Barbados are still going through his mind and called it an unbelievable experience.

“The emotions are still going through. The photos are still around. It was an unbelievable experience. I couldn’t stop smiling. Very fortunate to be part of the team. Credit to everyone who contributed. It was a complete team effort,” said Samson to broadcasters.

Talking about the change to bring in Mukesh Kumar and Riyan Parag, as well as being the deputy to Shubman Gill in the series, Samson remarked, “There will be some shuffle in the batting order, hoping to get some time in the middle. I have been leading RR for the last four years.”

“There have been some legends. I take care of legends and youngsters. You understand cricket a bit more. When you are a captain, you think about other players and team as well. I have been getting better.”

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Zimbabwe fast-bowler Richard Ngarava said he feels quite alright now after dealing with fitness troubles. “I have put in the hard yards over the past month. I had a knee issue, quite happy to be back in the team. Quite a lot of lessons you take from playing in the (T20) leagues. You come across a lot of coaches and fitness trainers. You get to learn a lot of things. At the end of the day, you want to do the simple things better.”

Asked about what makes his bowling partnership with Blessing Muzarabani effective, Ngarava said, “We have been in the same academy, it’s been going for us for a long time. He’s one guy who pumps me when I am low and I pump him up when he’s low. Hopefully, we keep taking wickets. Hopefully, both of us can take fifers in the same match.”

–IANS

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'I’m a believer of dreams': Southgate and England stand on the cusp of greatness

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The 1996 Euros were not a pleasant one for English manager Gareth Southgate. The former Three Lions defender was the one who missed the penalty in the shootouts against Germany in the semi-finals of what was their home tournament. Deutschland went on to win the tournament.

After 28 years, Southgate has the chance to lead the nation to their very first European Championship in Germany. When asked about the chance to complete his fairytale ending, Southgate answered with a wonderful response.

“I am not a believer in fairytales, but I am a believer in dreams. We have had big dreams and felt the importance of that, but you have to make those things happen. The run we’ve had, the late goals and penalties, doesn’t equate to it being our moment. We have to make it tomorrow and perform. It would be a lovely story and it’s in our hands but the performance is the most important thing,” said Southgate to reporters in the pre match conference.

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Germany were eliminated by Spain in the quarterfinals of the tournament in what was perhaps one of the best games of the tournament.

Southgate is not the only one who has the chance to finally complete his dream. England captain Harry Kane has been criticized for many years on his trophy record. The all-time top scorer in English football claimed ‘it is no secret,’ when asked about his trophy aspirations.

“It is no secret that I haven’t won a team trophy. Every year that goes by, you are more determined to change that. Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to win one of the biggest prizes you could ever win and to make history with my mates. I’m extremely proud to be English, so no question I would swap everything I’ve done in my career to have a special night and a win,” concluded the Bayern Munich striker.

–IANS

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Durand Cup returns to Kokrajhar for the second consecutive year

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Kokrajhar, July 14 (IANS) The return of the Durand Cup tournament, now in its 133rd edition, is a very prestigious event for Kokrajhar in Assam. The three coveted Durand Cup trophies (Durand Cup, President’s Cup and the Shimla Trophy) were displayed at the Bodofa Cultural Complex, Chandamari here on Sunday.

The iconic trophies were presented in the presence of Pramod Boro, Chief Executive Member, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Power, Sports & Youth Welfare.

Also present at the event were the Cooperation and Indigenous Tribal Faith & Culture (Archaeology) Dept Government of Assam, Lt General RC Srikanth VSM, Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command, Chairman Durand Cup Organising Committee (DCOC).

Kokrajhar hosted six group matches in the previous edition of the Durand Cup, when it became only the second city in Assam to host the prestigious tournament. The tremendous response received has ensured that Kokrajhar not only continues as hosts this year, but also hosts an additional match and that too a knockout game.

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Clearly enthused on the occasion, Boro while welcoming all dignitaries and guests said, “I am very happy that the Indian Army has favourably responded to our request of holding an additional game this year in Kokrajhar and have kept their promise to us. As a result a seventh game, that too a quarter-final knockout of the Durand Cup will be held here for the very first time. We are very grateful and such magnanimity will only do wonders to the already cordial civil-military relationship, existing in the Bodoland region.

“Like everyone here, I too will be rooting for our favourite Bodoland FC boys, however, we look forward to competitive and exciting football matches in the coming days and wish all visiting teams and guests a wonderful time at Kokrajhar,” he added.

Assam Sports Minister Gorlosa said, “We have seen last year how a tournament like the Durand Cup brought the entire Kokrajhar together and this year, thanks to the leadership of our Chief Minister and the Chief Executive Member, it promises to be bigger and better here. Boro has done a tremendous job with the infrastructure here and Kokrajhar is now firmly established on the footballing map of India, thanks to his tireless efforts. I wish the football-loving youth and fans of Kokrajhar a wonderful time supporting your local heroes, while also appreciating good football from all quarters.”

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Of the six groups, Group E, comprising ISL sides North-East United FC (NEUFC) and Odisha FC along with BSF, besides the local Bodoland FC team, will be based in Kokrajhar.

The first match is scheduled to kick off at the SAI Stadium between the popular Bodoland FC and NEUFC, in what can be dubbed as an all-Assam derby, on July 30.

All matches of the Durand Cup will be broadcast live on the Sony Sports Network and can also be live-streamed on the SonyLiv OTT platform.

A total of 24 teams, including two Services teams from Nepal and Bangladesh, will be seen in action across 43 matches, which will be played in the four host cities of Kokrajhar, Shillong, Jamshedpur (last two named making their debut as host cities) and Kolkata. Kolkata will also host the grand final at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 31.

–IANS

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