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ISL announces venues of the 2023–24 Playoffs and semifinals

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Mumbai, April 15 (IANS) The Indian Super League on Monday announced the venues for the knockouts and semifinals of the 2023-24 edition, set to commence on April 19. In a thrilling culmination, Mohun Bagan Super Giant clinched the coveted maiden title of ISL Champions with Mumbai City FC securing the second spot, both teams thereby confirming their places in the semifinals.

Teams ranked third to sixth will battle it out in single-leg knockout matches to determine the other two semi-finalists. The semifinals will be played in a home-and-away format, with the winners over two legs playing the Grand Final on 4th May.

Playoffs Schedule:

April 19, Knockout 1 – Odisha FC (home) vs Kerala Blasters (Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar)

April 20: Knockout 2 – FC Goa (home) vs Chennaiyin FC (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa)

April 23: Semifinal 1 (First leg) Winner of Knockout 1 (home) vs Mohun Bagan Super Giant

April 24: semifinal 2 (First leg) Winner of Knockout 2 (home) vs Mumbai City FC

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April 28: semifinal 1 (Second leg) Mohun Bagan Super Giant (home) vs Winner of Knockout 1 – (Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata)

April 29: semifinal 2 (Second leg) Mumbai City FC (home) vs Winner of Knockout 2 (Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai)

The venue of the Indian Super League 2023-24 season final will be announced soon.

–IANS

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'Don't get the same buzz': Zampa keen to prioritise internationals over T20 leagues

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Sydney, May 26 (IANS) Australia’s leg-spinner Adam Zampa said he would like to prioritise playing international cricket as he doesn’t get the same level of buzz when featuring in various T20 franchise leagues around the world.

Zampa was due to play for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024, but pulled out of the competition due to fatigue reasons. After last playing international cricket in February, Zampa will be seen in action for Australia in the upcoming men’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA from June 1.

“I’ve really come to love playing for Australia. I always loved it, but playing under Dan Vettori, Andrew McDonald and Pat and Mitch as captains, it is just so enjoyable. I make good money playing for Australia and I would love to prioritise playing for Australia and being with my family.”

“I don’t get enough out of franchise cricket. It’s great for certain aspects of your life, and it can be really enjoyable, but it’s not like being in the Aussie dressing room, not for me anyway. I don’t get the same buzz out of it,” said Zampa to ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.

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The leg-spinner revealed he had thoughts about being a globe-trotting T20 leagues player, but is now content with not being part of that bandwagon. “There’s always a lot of chat about ‘can you play franchise cricket all year round’ and it was something I had thought about – at what age do I get through to try to then play a bit of franchise cricket.”

“But after 2023 and winning the World Cup and all that, and having a young family now as well, I’ve realised I want to play cricket for as long as I can, and instead of trying to play for nine or 10 months of the year, it’s play for six or seven,” he added.

Australia will play its 2024 men’s T20 World Cup games in Trinidad and then Barbados where Zampa will reunite with left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar, who was in the squad during the side’s triumphant campaign in the 2021 edition in the UAE (but played just one game). Agar also missed Australia’s 2023 men’s ODI World Cup title-winning run in India due to a calf injury.

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“I feel like there’s a little bit of unfinished business. Ash missed out on the last World Cup, he didn’t play during the World Cup we won in Dubai, and I really think this is his World Cup to put his stamp on.”

“I think the wickets are going to suit him, and I think he can play a major role. We feed off each other, we make each other train better, we think about the game a lot more when we’re around each other. So it’s great to have him back,” added Zampa.

He signed off by saying leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is a big future prospect for Australia. Sangha was in contention to be a travelling reserve for Australia until he suffered a hip flexor injury during a training camp in Brisbane.

“He’s had a lot of niggles and injuries in the last couple of years that he’s found it hard to get any continuous cricket in, but he’s years ahead of where I was at his age. Even now, I think ‘I wish I could do that’ and ‘I wish I had that part of his bowling’. He’s really smart and certainly going to have a long career for Australia.”

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“I’m pretty glad that I’m 10 years older than him, not five because I feel like there’d be a time where I’d be in the classifieds (looking for a new job). I’m 32 now and the way things are going, hopefully I get a bit more time playing for Australia – but I won’t be 38 and trying to hold on because I know Tanveer is going to be pretty special,” concluded Zampa.

–IANS

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Dipa Karmakar becomes first Indian gymnast to win gold medal at Asian Championships

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Tashkent (Uzbekistan), May 26 (IANS) Ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar bagged the historic gold medal at the Asian Women’s Artistic Gymnastic Championship here in Tashkent on Sunday to become the first Indian to achieve the feat.

In the final of the individual vault, karmakar finished at the top among eight gymnasts with an average score of 13.566. In both her attempts, the 30-year-old received identical scores of 13.566.

North Koreans Kim Son Hyang (13.466) and Jo Kyong Byol (12.966) bagged the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Earlier, Karmakar won the bronze medal in same event in Hiroshima in 2015.

She became a household name in the country after finishing fourth in the vault final at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Karmakar also bagged a bronze medal in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Karmakar returned to action last year after serving 21 months ban following a positive test for a banned substance.

–IANS

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Kohli, Samson, Bumrah feature in Hayden's IPL team of the tournament

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former Australia cricketer Matthew Hayden has named Virat Kohli, Sanju Samson and Jasprit Bumrah in his IPL team of the tournament ahead of the summit clash between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

The Australian revealed his 12-member team on broadcasters’ official X handle on Sunday. He picked Sunil Narine and Travis Head as the openers of his side. Narine has amassed 482 runs including a century and three fifties for Kolkata in the season at the top. On the other hand, Head accumulated 567 runs for the finalist and also notched up a hundred and four half-centuries to become the fourth-highest run-getter in the tournament.

The veteran cricketer named Kohli for the no. 3 spot after his stellar IPL season with Royal Challengers Bengaluru. He finished as the highest run-getter of the tournament after his campaign ended in Eliminator. In 15 games, Kohli slammed 741 runs including a century and five fifties.

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In the middle order, Hayden chipped in the Rajasthan Royals duo of captain Sanju Samson (531 runs) and Riyan Parag (573 runs), Lucknow Super Giants’ Nicholas Pooran (499 runs) and Hyderabad’s Heinrich Klaasen (463 runs).

In the spin department, Rajasthan’s Yuzvendra Chahal (18 wickets) and KKR’s Varun Chakaravarthy (20 wickets) were named while Mumbai Indians’ pacer Jasprit Bumrah (20 wickets) would spearhead the pace bowling department along with Rajasthan’s Avesh Khan (19 wickets) and Sandeep Sharma (13 wickets).

Hayden’s team of the tournament: Sunil Narine, Travis Head, Virat Kohli, Sanju Samson, Nicholas Pooran, Riyan Paran, Heinrich Klaasen, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakaravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Sharma.

–IANS

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Hardik Pandya to link up with India’s squad for T20 World Cup in New York: Report

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) India’s vice-captain Hardik Pandya will be linking up with the Rohit Sharma-led side in New York on Sunday afternoon ahead of the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup. Pandya was a notable omission in visuals of first batch of Indian team players and support staff departing for New York from Mumbai on Saturday night.

A report in Cricbuzz on Sunday said, Pandya had been vacationing overseas at an undisclosed location after Mumbai Indians’ campaign ended in IPL 2024 with a defeat to Lucknow Super Giants at the Wankhede Stadium, and is now on his way to New York to link up with the Indian team for the showpiece event starting from June 1.

Pandya had a torrid time in IPL 2024, where he was constantly under the spotlight for his disappointing all-round performances post an ankle injury layoff and was even booed by the crowd in both home and away games.

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With the bat, Hardik amassed just 216 runs in 14 matches of IPL 2024 at an average of 18 and a strike-rate of 143.05. With the ball, he picked 11 wickets at an economy-rate of 10.75 and average of 35.18.

A lot was expected from him as a leader, especially after he captained Gujarat Titans to IPL 2022 title and IPL 2023 runners-up finish. But Mumbai Indians finished at the bottom of the points table.

The report added that Sanju Samson, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Avesh Khan, who played for Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2 of IPL 2024 in Chennai on May 24, will join the team later, so as traveling reserve Rinku Singh, who will be playing in the IPL title clash on Sunday night. It also said Virat Kohli sought permission to join the squad late.

Apart from Rohit, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and traveling substitutes Shubman Gill and Khaleel Ahmed, left for New York from Mumbai on Saturday night.

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India is set to play their lone warm-up game against Bangladesh at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on June 1. Their Men’s T20 World Cup campaign begins on June 5 against Group A opponents Ireland in New York, followed by a highly-anticipated clash against Pakistan on June 9.

India will then face co-hosts USA on June 12 in New York, before going to Florida to take on Canada on June 15 to wrap up their Group A league matches. India were the inaugural winners of the Men’s T20 World Cup in 2007 and are aiming to claim the silverware for just the second time through the upcoming tournament.

–IANS

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Nitu Ghanghas eyes LA 2028 Olympics, says "Confident that I will make it"

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Nitu Ghanghas may be temporarily away from public spotlight but the Haryana boxer is spending quality time at the Bhiwani Boxing Club preparing for the Los Angeles Olympics in July 2028.

A world champion in the 48 kg class, the 23-year-old Nitu could not make it to the Paris Olympics in the 54 kg division, a weight category where she is developing more power and adding skills to keep her reputation as a feisty fighter intact.

In a new episode of the Fit India Champions podcast, Nitu said, “From childhood I have always wanted to win, battled many odds and disappointments and came out on top with my family’s help. I am already looking forward now.”

Having excelled in the 48 kg class, a weight division that once exclusively belonged to London Olympics (51 kg) bronze medallist Mary Kom, Nitu wants to emulate her idol.

“I grew up seeing her and it was my dream to fight Mary didi. That opportunity did come (Commonwealth Games 2022 trials) but Mary Kom had to withdraw due to a knee injury after a minute into the opening round. I really wanted a full fight, so it was a bit disappointing,” said Ghanghas, who is a natural left-handed boxer like Mary.

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Nitu went on to win the Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham.

The ardent Mary Kom fan is considered as a potential successor to the Manipuri legend and missing Asian Games in Hangzhou and Paris 2024 has not left the 2023 world and Commonwealth Games champion heartbroken, instead more determined.

“I think all three of them can return with a medal from Paris. They are all capable fighters and have gained a lot of experience. As far as I am concerned, I will take it step by step as I get better and stronger in 54 kg division. My immediate target is the world championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in October this year and my coach Jagdish Singh is prepping me for it. I am confident that I have the mettle to make it to Los Angeles Olympics in 2028,” she added.

To qualify for the Asian Games and Paris Olympics, Nitu, proficient in the 48 kg class, had to upgrade herself to the 54 kg class but it was Preeti Pawar who pipped her to the Hangzhou 2023 squad.

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“I am from Bhiwani Boxing Club and I have a legacy to take forward. Vijender Singh’s Beijing Olympics was a massive trigger for girls like us to play boxing. In our village (Dhanana), it was unthinkable for a girl to play sport. But it was my father (Jai Bhagawan) who backed me up regardless of the fact that even our closest relatives thought we were crazy because I was going to take up boxing,” Nitu Ghanghas narrated during the podcast.

With age on her side and known for her aggressive style, Nitu remains among India’s top women boxers. With greater exposure and intense training, the Haryana girl is expected to grab the headlines again once the Paris Olympics are over.

–IANS

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