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Hockey Pro League: Flawless Dutch women secure second straight title with three matches to spare

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Hockey Pro League: Flawless Dutch women secure second straight title with three matches to spare

Utrecht (Netherlands), June 22 (IANS) Returning to action for the first time since February, the Netherlands Women defeated Germany 4-0 for a dominant win – their 13th from 13 matches this season – and secured their fourth title overall with three matches to spare in FIH Hockey Pro League here on Saturday. The odds were stacked against their opposition, Germany, who had not beaten the Dutch in regulation time since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, as the home team, which was on the cusp of wrapping up a second straight title, came out strong and never allowed them many chances.

Just a month before the Paris Olympic Games, the World and FIH Pro League winners Netherlands made a triumphant return to international duty with a comfortable win. The first half was evenly contested and it was essentially two sharp plays from the Dutch that made all the difference.

The prolific Yibbi Jansen fired them ahead from a quickly taken free hit in the 8th minute. It was then Luna Fokke who laid off to Jansen before covering 20m to complete a sensational deflection and double the home side’s lead. The third quarter was hotly contested with both teams squandering a single penalty corner opportunity each.

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The final period served up plenty of action, the Dutch stealing the ball from the pushback to win a penalty corner which Jansen rocketed home to extend her lead at the top of the women’s goal-scoring list with 1an impressive 17 goals so far this season.

Frederique Matla then slotted in a drag flick two minutes later for her side to put one hand on the trophy. And while the Germans had a strong spell in the middle of the quarter, it was not enough to make any dent in the significant deficit, with the Dutch reasserting control to close out the match and with that, the title.

–IANS

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Abhinav Bindra carries Paris Olympic Flame ahead of opening ceremony

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Abhinav Bindra carries Paris Olympic Flame ahead of opening ceremony

Abhinav Bindra carries Paris Olympic Flame ahead of opening ceremony

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Beijing Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra feels honoured to carry the 2024 Paris Olympic flame and said he is humbled to be part of the sporting pinnacle.

Bindra, who made history by simultaneously being the world and Olympic champion for the men’s 10-metre air rifle event, joined the Paris 2024 Torch Relay event on Wednesday and was thrilled to hold the spirit of the Games. The former shooter became the first Indian athlete to win a first-ever individual gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Carrying the Olympic flame yesterday in the Paris 2024 Torch Relay was an honour beyond words. The spirit of the Games lives in each of us, and I am humbled to be part of this incredible journey. Let’s continue to inspire, dream, and achieve together! #Paris2024,” Bindra posted on ‘X.’

The Paris Olympics will take place from July 26 to August 11, with 117 athletes from India representing the country in the mega quadrennial event. Some of the biggest names from the Indian contingent include two-time medallist shuttler PV Sindhu, who will be the country’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony alongside table tennis veteran Sharath Kamal on Friday.

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–IANS

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Paris Olympics: Sumit Nagal to face France's Corentin Moutet in men's singles first round

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Paris Olympics: Sumit Nagal to face France's Corentin Moutet in men's singles first round

Paris Olympics: Sumit Nagal to face France's Corentin Moutet in men's singles first round

Paris, July 25 (IANS) Indian tennis star Sumit Nagal is set for a challenging start at the Paris Olympics as he faces local hope Corentin Moutet in the first round of the men’s singles event on the clay courts of Roland Garros here. In the men’s doubles, India’s seasoned pair of Rohan Bopanna and N. Sriram Balaji are also up for a tough opening round, facing the French team of Fabien Reboul and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

It could be a tough encounter for Nagal as his 25-year-old opponent had reached the fourth round in front of his home crowd at the French Open. He took a set off World No.1 Jannik Sinner before ending his campaign in the fourth round. But what will gives Nagal hope is that they share a 2-2 head-to-head record.

The release of the draw on Thursday also revealed that the two legends of the game Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who have faced each other 59 times in their illustrious careers, could meet as early as the second round.

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Djokovic, the top seed after World No.1 Jannik Sinner pulled out with an injury, begins his campaign against Australian Matthew Ebden, known in India as Bopanna’s partner when they won the Australian Open earlier this year. The unseeded Nadal, on the other hand, will play his first match against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

Two-time Olympic singles gold medallist Andy Murray of Great Britain has withdrawn from the singles competition but will still participate in the doubles event alongside compatriot Daniel Evans.

Second seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain will play his first match against Lebanon’s Hady Habib. The winner of this match will face either Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor or Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the second round, promising further thrilling encounters.

In the women’s draw, top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland will return to her favourite venue to face Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania. Team USA’s flag-bearer in the Opening Ceremony, Coco Gauff will play Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) in the first round.

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–IANS

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Two chess teams denied chance to compete in TN state event

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Two chess teams denied chance to compete in TN state event

Two chess teams denied chance to compete in TN state event

Chennai, July 25 (IANS) Eight young chess players, a pregnant lady and their coach will be hauling the All India Chess Federation (AICF), its affiliate the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association (TNSCA) and the latter’s affiliate Tirunelveli District Chess Development Association (TDCDA) to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for their monopolistic and anti-player action.

The CCI in 2018 had fined AICF a sum of Rs.6.92 lakh and also stopped its anti-player actions. The AICF is silent on the payment of penalty to CCI.

“Eight young students and I were part of two teams – Peculiar Pawns Tirunelveli A and Peculiar Pawns Tirunelveli B- wanting to play in the 30th Tamil Nadu State Team Championship 2024. However the TDCDA Secretary B.Paulkumar refused to give his permission for the teams at the last moment,” Pon Perumal S, CEO and Founder Peculiar PawnS Chess Academy, Tirunelveli told IANS

Perumal said the official reason for TDCDA’s refusal to give its nod is that the teams had players from other districts.

“The real reason could be that the TDCDA got upset as I am organising a private chess tournament in August this year,” Perumal alleged.

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“As per rules, with a proper `no objection certificate’ from their home district chess association, a player can play for a team from another district. In addition, the entry forms for all the teams should be routed through the respective district associations. Teams that have the permission of the district chess association will only be allowed to participate in the tournament,” Perumal said.

Perumal said entry fees of Rs.3,000 per team were paid to the tournament organisers for two teams through the Signinchess.com along with the player names on July 18, 2024.

The last date for the entries was July 20, 2024 and the tournament start date was July 24, 2024.

He had also sent the player details to TDCDA seeking its recommendation to represent the Tirunelveli District and marked a copy to Dharmapuri District Chess Association and the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association.

Soon after paying the fees, Perumal issued the prospectus for the tournament to be organised by him in Tirunelveli.

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“It is a private tournament. Soon after I issued the prospectus, the TDCDA Secretary Paulkumar informed the Dharmapuri District Chess Association that the Peculiar Pawns Tirunelveli A and B teams are not recommended as they have players from other districts,” Perumal said.

“Earlier, the team championship organisers had uploaded our team details on www.chess-results.com, including the board order. Later, our teams were removed from the portal,” Perumal said.

When contacted, P. Rajasekaran, joint secretary, Dharmapuri District Chess Association told IANS, “The details of Peculiar Pawns two teams were uploaded on www.chess-results.com based on their mails sent to us as well as the details fed while paying the entry fee. We had over 120 team entries and it was difficult to check each and every entry.”

Rajasekaran said on the receipt of mail from Paulkumar, saying that the two Peculiar Pawns teams were not recommended by the TDCDA, their details were removed from www.chess-results.com.

According to Rajasekaran, several other district chess associations had permitted teams with other district players to play in the tournament and it is only the TDCDA that has denied the chance to two such teams.

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However, this is not the first time that TDCDA’s Paulkumar is at the centre of the controversy.

Last year, three players – M Karunakaran, 68, V Palanikumar, 58, and Merryston David Scanny, 48- were not allowed to play in the Tirunelveli District Selection tournament at the last moment.

The reason? According to Scanny, Paulkumar did not allow them to play as they had played in a private tournament in Tenkasi district earlier.

In 2019, Paulkumar had barred then 11-year-old Karthik Rahul from playing in a tournament midway on the grounds that he had played in a private tournament

However, no action has been taken by AICF or the Tamil Nadu State Chess Association on these issues, despite complaints being lodged with it.

Going by the past events, Perumal may be right in his surmise that his teams were refused permission as he had announced organising a private chess tournament.

Paulkumar was not available for comments when contacted by IANS.

–IANS

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Women’s Asia Cup: Semi-finals is a very important thing for us, says Shafali Verma

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Women’s Asia Cup: Semi-finals is a very important thing for us, says Shafali Verma

Women’s Asia Cup: Semi-finals is a very important thing for us, says Shafali Verma

Dambulla, July 25 (IANS) Ahead of India facing Bangladesh in the first semi-final of 2024 Women’s Asia Cup, big-hitting opener Shafali Verma said the defending champions do realise that the knockout clash is a very important thing for them.

So far in the tournament, the Harmanpreet Kaur-led India have been unbeaten – defeating Pakistan by seven wickets, winning by 78 runs against UAE and beating Nepal by 82 runs to top Group A.

“Really happy with the way we all have gelled up with each other and are winning the matches. The semi-finals is a very important thing for us. Today, we all have come up for practice and hopefully, we will do our best thing to do good tomorrow,” said Shafali in the pre-match press conference.

With 158 runs, Shafali has been the second highest run-scorer in the tournament so far in an Indian batting line-up which has seen Harmanpreet, Smriti Mandhana and Richa Ghosh come good with the bat. She feels the lower-order batters like Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar are capable off pulling off big hits if needed.

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“We just back ourselves and as a batting unit, we are backing our strengths. The bowlers are doing a great job, but day by day, we have to keep improving ourselves. Every day, they (lower-order batters) are batting in the nets. Whenever they get a chance, I hope they get to hit sixes.”

Shafali signed off by saying India are putting in the hard yards to be better at fielding, an aspect which has been lukewarm for them in the Asia Cup. “We are working hard on our fielding. So, we will look to tick mark all the things – batting, bowling and fielding – and contribute for the best things in the semi-finals.”

Squads

India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (vice-captain), Richa Ghosh (wk), Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Renuka Singh Thakur, Dayalan Hemalatha, Uma Chetry (wk), Asha Sobhana, Radha Yadav, Tanuja Kanwer, Sajana Sajeevan.

Bangladesh: Nigar Sultana Joty (captain & wk), Shorna Akter, Nahida Akter, Murshida Khatun, Shorifa Khatun, Ritu Moni, Rubya Haider Jhelik, Sultana Khatun, Jahanara Alam, Dilara Akter, Ishma Tanjim, Rabeya Khan, Rumana Ahmed, Marufa Akter, Sabikun Nahar Jesmin.

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–IANS

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ENG vs WI: England name unchanged playing 11 for Edgbaston Test

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ENG vs WI: England name unchanged playing 11 for Edgbaston Test

ENG vs WI: England name unchanged playing 11 for Edgbaston Test

Edgbaston, July 25 (IANS) England have named an unchanged playing eleven for the third and final Test against West Indies in Edgbaston, starting on Friday. England have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after beating the visitors by 241 runs in Nottingham. They registered an innings and 114 runs victory in the opening Test of the series which was also the farewell match of veteran James Anderson at Lord’s.

The Ben Stokes-led side has backed its winning combination from the second Test with an eye on a clean sweep to start the home summer on high. After the completion of the series, England will host Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series in August.

England will continue with three pacers — Gus Atkinson, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes — and Shoaib Bashir as a specialist spinner with Joe Root to chip in as a part-timer. All-rounder Stokes also remains a bowling option for the side that will look to complete a 3-0 whitewash in Birmingham.

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England’s playing XI for the third Test: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Jamie Smith, Chris Woakes, Gus Atkinson, Mark Wood, Shoaib Bashir.

–IANS

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