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Have to be at our best to beat a world-class Indian team, says South Africa skipper Wolvaardt

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Have to be at our best to beat a world-class Indian team, says South Africa skipper Wolvaardt

Bengaluru, June 12 (IANS) South Africa skipper Laura Wolvaardt insisted her team will have to be at their best if they are to beat a ‘world-class’ Indian team in the upcoming multi-format series, ahead of their warm-up match against Board’s President XI on Thursday. South Africa will begin their tour of India with three ODIs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on June 16, 19 and 23, followed by a one-off Test and three T20Is at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The last time South Africa toured India; they won the five-match ODI series 4-1 in March 2021.

“We’ve had a couple of good tours before this where we sort of tried different combinations. In the T20Is against Sri Lanka, we definitely gave a bunch of youngsters some opportunity to try and put up their hand. If everyone is healthy and fit, we’ll be looking to play our best 11. We won’t be experimenting too much or taking this Indian side too lightly.”

“They’re a world-class side and we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them. So, trying to get everyone settled into their roles before the T20 World Cup is pretty important as well, with it being some of our last cricket that we’re going to be playing before then,” said Laura in a pre-series press conference.

The tour to India is South Africa’s last international assignment before the Women’s T20 World Cup happens in Bangladesh from October 3-20. The three ODIs hold huge importance as they carry ICC Women’s Championship points, where South Africa are placed in the third spot and are in line for automatic qualification for the 2025 Women’s ODI World Cup in India.

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“There’s a lot that we’re focusing on at the moment, obviously, with the ODIs having points up for grabs, the T20Is being in prep for the World Cup and then the Test match being pretty special too. We’ve tried to sort of cover everything and there isn’t really one that’s massively more important than the other. So, we’d like to do well all around and there isn’t any format that we’re taking lightly,” added Laura.

Asked what South Africa are aiming to achieve from the lone warm-up game, Laura remarked, “Warm-up games are always a tricky one. You don’t want to do too well and get overconfident. But you always don’t want to do too bad and start on the back foot. But I think tomorrow is mainly about conditions for us.”

“We’re lucky to be playing on the ground where our games will be as well. That doesn’t happen too often for a warm-up game. So conditions will be crucial to see how much it turns and bounces. It’ll be more about that and making sure that the whole squad sort of gets a chance on the conditions and has a look of it.”

India are coming off after winning the T20I series in Bangladesh 5-0 and played in WPL 2024 in March, where Laura and her Proteas team-mates like Marizanne Kapp, and Nadine de Klerk featured in the five-team competition. Laura thinks the experience of playing in Bengaluru via WPL will come in handy in the ODI leg of the tour.

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“The WPL was absolutely amazing and the amount of cricket that the Indian girls get to play over here is really cool. Luckily a few of us were able to play in the tournament as well. With myself being able to get a few games, I got used to the conditions and playing over here, which was nice.”

“They obviously have world-class players. So we’ve done a lot of sort of homework and discussion on that. So, hopefully, we have our plans sorted out by the first game. When I was here, it was a very nice wicket to bat on. So I’m not sure if it’ll be similar at this time of year.”

Last year in November, Laura was confirmed as South Africa’s full-time captain after taking the job on a temporary basis. Quizzed about the impact of leading South Africa as a batter and human being, Laura admitted there has been a lot to learn for her.

“Firstly, there’s been obviously on-field stuff – being just a batter before and having to learn a lot about bowlers and bowling plans has been quite a big eye-opener for me cricket-wise. It’s helped me as a batter as well, as I’m starting to see the game more from a bowler’s perspective and that sort of helps me when I’m out there in the middle.”

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“Then in general life as well, I think it’s helped me by forcing me to come out of my comfort zone a little bit. Usually, I’m quite a quiet reserved person and would sort of stick to myself. But you can’t really do that when you’re captain. So I have to sort of mingle and check in with people and be a bit more sociable than I used to be. So it’s helped me grow as a person and as a cricketer as well, and it’s been good so far.”

Importantly, the trip to India is South Africa’s first series post the departure of long-serving coach Hilton Moreeng, who left after more than 11 years in charge. For now, Dillon du Preez is the interim coach.

“It’s obviously been a bit different for us. Hilton was on every single tour for the past 11 years. So to not have him here is a bit weird. But luckily Dillon was in the setup and the environment for about four or five years. So nothing has really changed too much from sort of an operational point of view.”

“We still try to keep things as much the same as before, just so that it’s not completely new and fresh. But then at the same time, the new additions that we have in the group have brought a lot of outside energy and some outside knowledge as well. So it’s been good and I’ve really enjoyed the new, fresh people,” concluded Laura.

–IANS

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Paris Olympics: Athletes call for peace, IOC President says they are 'peace ambassadors' of our time

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Paris Olympics: Athletes call for peace, IOC President says they are 'peace ambassadors' of our time

Paris Olympics: Athletes call for peace, IOC President says they are 'peace ambassadors' of our time

Paris, July 22 (IANS) Hundreds of Olympic athletes representing their counterparts from the territories of all the 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Refugee Olympic Team made a powerful call for peace here on Monday. Four days before the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, these athletes gathered in a solemn moment in the Olympic Village. Wearing scarves with the message “Give peace a chance” and holding flags with the same words, they emphasised the powerful role that sport can play in fostering peace and mutual understanding.

The event held in the Olympic Village in Paris included athletes from NOCs whose countries are currently in conflict or war with each other.

“When our founder, Pierre de Coubertin, revived the Olympic Games 130 years ago –- right here in Paris –- he saw it as a way to promote peace among all nations and people of the world. He was a true ambassador for peace. Today, you –- the Olympic athletes –- you are the peace ambassadors of our time,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.

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“You, the Olympic athletes, will show us how our world would be if we all lived in the same Olympic spirit of peaceful co-existence. You will compete fiercely against each other. At the same time, you are living peacefully together under one roof, here in the Olympic Village. You are respecting the same rules and most importantly you are respecting each other. In this way, you are sending a resounding message of peace from Paris to the world,” he said.

President Bach invited athletes to extend their call for peace: “Please share this call for peace with all your fans, your family and friends back home. In this way, our many voices will become one. This one voice will resonate all around the globe. May this call inspire all the political leaders of the world to take action for peace.”

He concluded: “Together we say: Give Peace a Chance!”

On the occasion, the Paris 2024 Olympic Truce Mural was inaugurated in the presence of the IOC President; the Paris 2024 Organising Committee President, Tony Estanguet; Masomah Ali Zada, Chef de Mission for the IOC Refugee Olympic Team for Paris 2024; Emma Terho, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC); and the entire Executive Board of the IOC. Together with the athletes representing all five continents, they signed the Olympic Truce Mural.

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“In this Village, there is a symbol within the symbol: it’s the Olympic Truce Mural,” said President Tony Estanguet. “It is the place of gathering and encounters, the place of sharing and peace. It reminds us of the message as humble as it is crucial: the Games cannot change everything, but they can carry something very strong, with the strength of example. An example of peace, solidarity, and progress. An example we value and need more than ever in those troubled times”, he said.

The Olympic Truce Mural has been a feature of every Olympic Village since the Olympic Winter Games Turin 2006, serving as a powerful symbol of sport’s ability to promote peace, and offering a unique opportunity for athletes from around the world to show their support for the values of peace, respect, solidarity, inclusion and equality. Each edition of the recent Olympic Games has a uniquely designed mural in the Athletes’ Village that features signatures from thousands of athletes, coaches and team officials, calling for peace and showing their support for the Olympic Truce.

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The tradition of the “Olympic Truce”, or “Ekecheiria”, was established in Ancient Greece to allow safe participation in the ancient Olympic Games for all athletes and spectators.

The IOC decided to revive the concept of the Olympic Truce for the Olympic Games, with a view to protecting, as far as possible, the interests of the athletes and sport in general, and to harness the power of sport to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation more broadly.

Since 1993, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly expressed its support for the Olympic Truce ideal and for the IOC’s mission by adopting every two years – one year before each edition of the Olympic Games – a resolution entitled “Building a Peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal”.

–IANS

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Sub-jr Women's South Zone Hockey: Andhra, T.N, and Kerala win on Day 3

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Sub-jr Women's South Zone Hockey: Andhra, T.N, and Kerala win on Day 3

Sub-jr Women's South Zone Hockey: Andhra, T.N, and Kerala win on Day 3

Kollam (Kerala), July 22 (IANS) Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu, Hockey Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala Hockey won their respective matches in the women’s category on the third day of the 2nd Hockey India Sub-jr Women’s South Zone Championship 2024 here on Monday.

In the first match of the day, the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu defeated Telangana Hockey 8-0. Captain Jovian Defny Mj (9’, 32’, 44’) led from the front and scored a hattrick. Kowsica S (8’, 51’) also scored a couple of goals whereas Subika M (11’), Gopika R (41’) and Harita J (59’) also scored one goal each to help the team secure the victory.

In the other match of the day, Hockey Andhra Pradesh defeated Hockey Karnataka 3-0. For Hockey Andhra Pradesh, Patan Mujiya Begum (29’, 59’) stood out to be the top goalscorer whereas Lakshmi Pariki (12’) also scored one goal against Hockey Karnataka.

In the last match in the women’s section, Kerala Hockey won 11-0 against Le Puducherry Hockey. Parameswari Pinapothula (22’, 34’, 37’, 46’) scored the most goals in the match. Abhay Jyothi A S (19’, 48’, 57’) also scored a hattrick for her side joined by Samad Reshma (28’, 52’) who also scored a couple of goals to take the game away from Le Puducherry Hockey. Sabitha (41’) and Kaushika (43’) also scored one goal each.

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–IANS

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Scotland's Charlie Cassell breaks Kagiso Rabada’s record with seven-for on ODI debut

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Scotland's Charlie Cassell breaks Kagiso Rabada’s record with seven-for on ODI debut

Scotland's Charlie Cassell breaks Kagiso Rabada’s record with seven-for on ODI debut

Dundee (Scotland), July 22 (IANS) Scotland pacer Charlie Cassell broke South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s nine-year-old record for best bowling figures on debut in Men’s ODIs when he picked 7-21 in 5.4 overs against Oman in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 match here on Monday.

Cassell was added to the Scotland squad for the matches against Oman after fellow pacer Chris Sole made himself unavailable due to personal reasons. Cassell made an impact immediately with pinpoint accuracy, by trapping former Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood lbw off his very first ball in international cricket.

His second delivery breached the defences of Ayaan Khan, making it the first-ever instance of a bowler having picked up wickets off his first two balls in ODI cricket. Two balls later, Cassell dismissed Khalid Kail.

Cassell’s sensational debut continued yielding wickets and he had a five-wicket haul with the dismissal of Mehran Khan in the 18th over. With this, he joined an exclusive list of 15 players, who had picked a five-for on Men’s ODI debut.

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But it got even better when Cassell ran through the Oman tail to finish with 7-21, the best-ever bowling figures by an ODI bowler on international debut, going past the figures of 6-16 which Rabada took on his ODI debut for South Africa against Bangladesh in July 2015.

Cassell now has the seventh-best bowling figures by a player in ODIs, as Oman were bowled out for 91 in 21.4 overs after being asked to bat first. Pratik Athavale top-scored with 34 while only two other batters reached double digits.

–IANS

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Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

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Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

Paris Olympics: NBA legend LeBron James voted as flag-bearer by USA contingent

London, July 22 (IANS) LeBron James, a National Basketball Association (NBA) legend, has been announced as the first men’s basketball player in history to be the official flag-bearer of the USA Olympic contingent during the opening ceremony of the Paris Olympic Games, starting on July 26. He was voted for the honour by all members of the US contingent who will be representing the country at the Games.

“It’s an incredible honour to represent the United States on this global stage, especially in a moment that can bring the whole world together. For a kid from Akron, this responsibility means everything to not only myself but to my family, all the kids in my hometown, my teammates, fellow Olympians and so many people across the country with big aspirations. Sports have the power to bring us all together, and I’m proud to be a part of this important moment,” said James upon being bestowed this honour.

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The opening ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics will take place on Friday at the River Seine.

‘King James’ is all set to represent his national colours for the fourth time in Olympics history with him already having won the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and gold in the 2012 London Olympics.

Although James is the first men’s player who has been bestowed the honour of being the flag-bearer, WNBA stars Dawn Staley (2004) and Sue Bird (2020) have previously been the female flag-bearers.

The USA basketball team will be a force to reckon with at the Games with the biggest NBA players all set to represent their national colours in what can only be described as a star-studded lineup with the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid and Anthony Edwards amongst a few of the many stars who will be taking part in Paris.

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–IANS

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Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

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Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

Paris Olympics: Indian shooting is unique, you can't predict anything, says Manavjit Singh

Faridabad (Haryana), July 22 (IANS) Trap Shooter Manavjit Singh Sandhu is hopeful of ‘two to four medals’ from the Indian shooting squad at the Paris Olympics. India’s 21-member shooting squad is the second largest after athletics in the upcoming Paris Olympics. It is also India’s largest-ever shooting contingent in the history of the Games, surpassing the previous best of 15 from Tokyo.

As the number of shooters has increased in the squad, their expectations have also multiplied manyfold, after firing blanks and returning empty-handed from the last two Olympics despite putting up a record number of players.

However, Olympian Manavjit feels that this squad, a blend of young and experienced members, will excel in the Olympics.

“The whole squad looks confident and I expect two to four medals, particularly from the young squad. Each player is well-trained and has worked hard for the spot. All the players are world-class and also carry a whole lot of experience. So the performance will be much better than previous appearances,” Manavjit told IANS on the sidelines of the ‘Glory of Five Rings’ event.

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“The interesting thing is that the nature of our shooting is quite unique. The least expected one performs at the top level. So you just can’t name anyone from the squad,” he added.

India’s last Olympic medal(s) in the sport came in the 2012 London Olympics when Vijay Kumar shot a silver in men’s 25m rapid fire pistol and

Gagan Narang claimed a bronze medal in men’s 10m air rifle. Narang is currently in Paris as India’s Chef-de-Mission.

India’s first Olympic medal in shooting was bagged by Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore when he claimed silver in men’s double trap in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Since then the country has clinched three more medals in the sport including Abhinav Bindra’s historic first individual gold in men’s 10m air rifle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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. Our biggest hopes in the 21-member shooting squad will be centred around rifle shooters Sarabjot Singh, Manu Bhaker, Sift Kaur Samra, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale and Rhythm.

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“Anjum Moudgil is the one who will strive for the medal and she is a champion player and when Anjum shoots well the other youngsters in the squad also get confidence from that. So how youngsters will perform all depends on the seniors they will have to share their confidence with the other members.

India’s shooting squad for Paris Olympics:

Rifle

Men’s 10m air rifle: Sandeep Singh, Arjun Babuta

Women’s 10m air rifle: Elavenil Valarivan, Ramita Jindal

Women’s 50m rifle 3 positions: Sift Kaur Samra, Anjum Moudgil

Men’s 50m rifle 3 positions: Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Swapnil Kusale

10m air rifle mixed team: Sandeep Singh/Elavenil Valarivan, Arjun Babuta/Ramita Jindal

Pistol

Men’s 10m air pistol: Sarabjot Singh, Arjun Cheema

Women’s 10m air pistol: Manu Bhaker, Rhythm Sangwan

Men’s 25m rapid fire pistol: Anish Bhanwala, Vijayveer Sidhu

Women’s 25m pistol: Manu Bhaker, Esha Singh

10m air pistol mixed team: Sarabjot Singh/Manu Bhaker, Arjun Singh Cheema/Rhythm Sangwan

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Shotgun

Men’s trap: Prithviraj Tondaiman

Women’s trap: Rajeshwari Kumari, Shreyasi Singh

Men’s skeet: Anantjeet Singh Naruka

Women’s skeet: Maheshwari Chauhan, Raiza Dhillon

Skeet mixed team: Anantjeet Singh Naruka/Maheshwari Chauhan

–IANS

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