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India Paddle Festival begins with local lad Akash Pujar winning U-16 category race

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Mangalore, March 8 (IANS) The India Paddle Festival, India’s first-ever international stand-up paddling (SUP) championship got off to a colourful opening ceremony at the pristine Sasihithlu beach on Friday. The first day apart from the opening ceremony featured a junior U-16 race which saw local lads Akash and Ravi Pujar winning the top two spots while South Korea’s Jihoo Hwang finished third.

The opening day featured the U-16 Junior category race that saw local lad Akash Pujar walk away with the winner’s trophy with a remarkable time of 43:04 minutes. Following closely behind was another local contender and Akash’s cousin, Raju Pujar, who secured the second position with a time of 47:24 minutes. Jihoo Hwang from South Korea secured the third position, completing the race in 52:52 minutes.

Speaking after winning the U-16 Junior category title, Akash said, “I have dedicated the past six months to continuous training, while also managing the academic pressure of being in the 10th standard. Despite the challenges, of preparing for my boards as I am in class 10, I ensure I do not pause my training and I guess that is what paid off today.”

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Akash will be also competing in the men’s open category on Saturday and is looking forward to the competition field that has some of the top SUP athletes from across the world.

Jihoo Hwang of South Korea said, “The conditions here in India are more challenging compared to those back at home, but I thoroughly enjoyed the race today. It’s my first time in India, and I’m relishing the experience, thanks to the pleasant weather, good waves, and the kind and friendly people I’ve met here.”

The inaugural India Paddle Festival is being held at the Sasihithlu beach, Mangalore from March 8-10 with athletes from the USA, Thailand, Spain, South Korea and hosts India vying for the top honors across three categories.

World No.2 Fernando Perez and Esperanza Barreras in both men’s and women’s category along with Bianca Toncelli, the junior world SUP champion will be seen in action on Day 2 of the India Paddle Festival. The India Paddle Festival is presented by the Karnataka Government and hosted by Surfing Swami Foundation.

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The Day 2 of the India Paddle Festival will commence with a yoga session, followed by the heats and finals of the technical races for both men and women open categories.

–IANS

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ECB missed trick, playing in IPL better preparation than facing Pak: Vaughan

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan opined that playing in IPL would have served English players “better preparations for the T20 World Cup than playing against Pakistan” after the hoast of players returned home from the cash-rich league.

Will Jacks, Phil Salt, and Jos Butler were among the players who ended their IPL campaign before the playoffs and returned home to participate in the four-match home series against Pakistan.

“I think you’re going to miss the trick by sending all their players home. You know, I think Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Jos Butler, in particular, playing in the IPL in the eliminators, pressure, crowd, expectation. I would argue that playing here is better preparation than playing a T20 game against Pakistan,” said Vaughan on the Club Praire Fire Podcast.

After the culmination of the series against Pakistan, England will head for the T20 pinnacle in the West Indies and the USA, starting on June 1 (local time). The defending champions will not play any warm-up match and will take on Scotland in their opening match on June 4.

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The first game of the series was called off due to rain while in the second match, England sealed a 23-run win in Edgbaston on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead.

Pakistan won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. England skipper Jos Buttler gave his side a great start to the game scoring 84 runs while Will Jacks hit 37 as the two batters propelled their side’s total to 183 in 20 overs.

Reece Topley grabbed three wickets in the second innings with Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer chipped in with two scalps each to restrict Pakistan to 160/9.

England will now square up against Pakistan in the third game, scheduled to be played at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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IPL is better preparation for England than T20 games against Pakistan: Vaughan ahead of T20 WC

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan opined that playing in IPL would have served English players “better preparations for the T20 World Cup than playing against Pakistan” after the hoast of players returned home from the cash-rich league.

Will Jacks, Phil Salt, and Jos Butler were among the players who ended their IPL campaign before the playoffs and returned home to participate in the four-match home series against Pakistan.

“I think you’re going to miss the trick by sending all their players home. You know, I think Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Jos Butler, in particular, playing in the IPL in the eliminators, pressure, crowd, expectation. I would argue that playing here is better preparation than playing a T20 game against Pakistan,” said Vaughan on the Club Praire Fire Podcast.

After the culmination of the series against Pakistan, England will head for the T20 pinnacle in the West Indies and the USA, starting on June 1 (local time). The defending champions will not play any warm-up match and will take on Scotland in their opening match on June 4.

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The first game of the series was called off due to rain while in the second match, England sealed a 23-run win in Edgbaston on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead.

Pakistan won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. England skipper Jos Buttler gave his side a great start to the game scoring 84 runs while Will Jacks hit 37 as the two batters propelled their side’s total to 183 in 20 overs.

Reece Topley grabbed three wickets in the second innings with Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer chipped in with two scalps each to restrict Pakistan to 160/9.

England will now square up against Pakistan in the third game, scheduled to be played at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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Malaysia Masters: Sindhu falters in thrilling final against China's Wang Zhi Yi (Ld)

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Kuala Lumpur, May 26 (IANS) Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu came close to winning the Malaysia Masters women’s singles title but fell short to China’s Wang Zhi Yi in a thrilling three-game final 21-16, 5-21, 16-21, here on Sunday.

It was Sindhu’s first BWF World Tour Final since Spain Masters in April 2023. Overall, it was her seventh tournament of the year. She has returned from injury at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

The 28-year-old Indian had been on a roll throughout the tournament. She displayed her aggressive style and exceptional movement in the semifinal, where she pulled off a dramatic comeback against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan after losing the opening game. She had earlier defeated top seed Chinese shuttler Han Yue in the quarterfinals.

However, against the world no. 7 Wang, things were different. The first game started brightly for Sindhu. Intercepting shuttles with impressive anticipation, she dominated the net and secured a comfortable 21-16 win.

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The second game, however, turned into a nightmare. Sindhu struggled with the drift on the court, committing uncharacteristic errors and losing 5-21.

Determined to bounce back, Sindhu began the third game with a fiery display. Her aggressive net play pushed Wang on the back foot, building a commanding 11-3 lead. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be sustained. The Chinese shuttler, showing resilience, capitalised on Sindhu’s fatigue and clawed her way back into the game.

A series of long rallies and Sindhu’s mounting frustration ultimately allowed Wang to complete a stunning turnaround, winning the final game 21-16 and claiming the title.

The loss in the final means Sindhu’s two-year title drought continues after she last won a major title at the Singapore Open in 2022.

–IANS

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Sindhu loses to Wang Zhi Yi in Malaysia Masters final

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Kuala Lumpur, May 26 (IANS) Ace Indian shutter PV Sindhu finished runner-up at the Malayasia Masters, BWF Super 500 turnament, after losing to second seed Chinese Wang Zhi Yi in the women’s singles final, here on Sunday.

Sindhu, seeded fifth in the tournament, suffered a hard fought 21-16, 5-21, 16-21 loss at the hands of asian Champion Wang in a match that lasted for 79 minutes at the Axiata Arena.

It was the 28-year-old Indian’s first BWF World Tour Final since Spain Masters in April 2023. Overall, it was her seventh tournament of the year. She has returned from injury at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

More to follow.

–IANS

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Monaco GP: 'It’s not going to be enjoyable', Verstappen predicts tough race for Red Bull

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Monaco, May 26 (IANS) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has struggled with his car ever since the first practice session in Monaco as he finished sixth on the grid following the qualifying session.

Following the end of the qualifying session on Saturday, Verstappen revealed how much he struggled with the car and how the race on Sunday would “not going to be enjoyable.”

“To be honest, I was positively surprised all the way until Q3 that we were actually looking like we were in the mix – it was a big surprise to me. But it’s just like driving on a knife’s edge. I can’t drive on the kerbs, to be honest. That’s why we are losing so much time in Sector 2… I have to drive around everything while everyone else is just ploughing over it,” said the Dutchman to reporters after the qualifying session.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc shone brightly at his home race qualifying as he grabbed pole position followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at P2, teammate Carlos Sainz at P3 and Lando Norris at P4.

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“It’s costing a lot of lap time, the car is like a go-kart over the kerbs and the bumps, so it’s just incredibly difficult. If you turn in one centimeter too late you might bounce half a meter more to the left or the right, and that makes it just very unpredictable.

“We were very good in the medium to high-speed, where you don’t have the bumps so much, so that’s where I felt really comfortable and it was actually a lot of fun to drive, but we lost too much in all the low-speed,” added the three-time World Champion.

Verstappen was not the only Red Bull driver who struggled on the day as teammate Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q1 making it evident to the struggles the team is facing when it comes to pace on the track.

“It’s not going to be enjoyable, every lap that I did so far, in the low-speed it’s a challenge to be consistent. Of course, in the race, you don’t push it to the limit, everyone is saving [the car] and just making sure you have the tyres to go with it. We’ll all calm down a little bit but we don’t have the fastest car anyway, so all the cars that are ahead of us are faster. We’ll just try to follow. It’s Monaco, things can happen, but I also don’t expect miracles,” said Verstappen, who won last year’s race in Monaco.

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–IANS

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