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'Marsh will be fit to bowl in T20 World Cup', says Australia head coach Andrew McDonald

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New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Australia cricket team head coach Andrew McDonald revealed that the T20 World Cup skipper Mitchell Marsh is not fit to bowl until the final week before the squad heads to the Caribbean, but will be fully fit for the tournament’s opening game.

Marsh has been out of action since the April 3 IPL 2024 clash for Delhi Capitals due to a right hamstring strain. He flew back home to Perth from India to begin his recovery.

In the next two weeks, Marsh will spend the first of two three-day pre-tournament training camps in Brisbane with members of Australia’s squad who are not playing in the IPL, before the team departs for the Caribbean on May 25 for the mega event.

Although Marsh’s hamstring had sufficiently healed over the previous two days to allow him to bat in the nets. However, McDonald feels he is still a couple of weeks away from returning to the bowling crease as Marsh’s recovery is a little “slower than expected.”

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“He’s progressing well. Probably a little slower than expected. But we’ve got plenty of time now that he has been ruled out the IPL. (Our) first game is just short of a month away now. So ample time for him to get ready,” McDonald was quoted by cricket.com.au website.

“You probably won’t see him bowl in the next couple of weeks here. It’ll probably happen the week before we leave. And then he’ll be able to ramp that up when we’re over there. We’ll be able to cherry pick the moments during the tournament where he’ll be useful with the ball, (and) we’ve got some all-round depth in the squad, which gives us good coverage anyway,” he added.

McDonald stated that there was no concern around a lack of match practice for Marsh over the last two months given Australia will have some practice games before their opening clash with Oman.

“No real concern about match fitness. We’ve got a couple of practice games when we get to Trinidad in the support period, so he’ll have plenty of match opportunities, and if not we’ll be able to simulate those through practice. By the first game against Oman, we’re confident he’ll be up and running,” McDonald said.

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The head coach also said that Australia would likely take one travelling reserve with up to seven players into consideration.

“Should anything shift or move, or new information comes our way and then we’ll have to make some decisions from there. But we’ll have 20-22 players up and running, should anything go amiss with the people that have been picked in the 15,” he said

Australia will open their T20 World Cup campaign against Oman on June 5 in Barbados.

–IANS

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Squash: Rathika Seelan enters Hong Kong PSA Challenge Cup QF

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Hong Kong, May 30 (IANS) Rathika Suthanthira Seelan advanced to the quarterfinals of the Hong Kong PSA Challenge Cup – 4th leg with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over local challenger Ka Huen Leung.

The sixth-seeded Indian edged out Leung 4-11, 5-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 in the second round after receiving a bye in the opening round.

The Tamil Nadu player, who won her maiden Professional Squash Association Tour title at the HCL Squash Tour in Indore last weekend, will meet third-seeded Malaysian Sehveetrraa Kumar in the quarterfinals.

–IANS

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Europe Tour: Indian jr men's hockey team registers shootout win over Germany

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Breda (Netherlands), May 30 (IANS) Indian junior men’s hockey team registered a shootout victory against Germany, while the junior women concluded their Tour of Europe with a draw against Oranje Rood.

The junior men triumphed in the shootouts, winning 1-1 (3-1 SO) after Mukesh Toppo (33’) scored in regulation time. For the junior women’s team, Sanjana Horo (18’) and Anisha Sahu (58’) scored in their 2-2 draw with Dutch club Oranje Rood.

After a quiet first half, during which neither the Indian junior men nor Germany could find the back of the net, Mukesh Toppo (33′) scored off a rebound from a penalty corner early in the third quarter. The Indians held their lead until Germany equalised four minutes into the fourth quarter, adding excitement to the game. Despite both teams’ efforts to take the lead, the score remained unchanged at the end of regulation time, leading to a penalty shootout.

India won the shootout 3-1, with Gurjot Singh, Dilraj Singh, and Manmeet Singh scoring. They concluded their Tour of Europe with a victory in their final game.

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Meanwhile, the junior women’s team played a quiet first quarter against Oranje Rood. Early in the second quarter, Sanjana (18’) broke the deadlock for India. Oranje Rood responded well, earning two penalty corners but the Indian defense held firm, ending the first half 1-0 in India’s favour.

Oranje Rood took the initiative in the third quarter. In their search for goals, Oranje Rood pushed India back, earning three penalty corners and scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead. The Indian junior women’s hockey team strove to level the score in the last quarter, achieving a breakthrough when Anisha (58’) scored in the final moments, ending the match in a 2-2 draw.

–IANS

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Singapore Open: Sindhu bows out after second round loss against Marin

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Singapore, May 30 (IANS) Two-time Olympic medallist shuttler PV Sindhu’s Singapore Open campaign ended in the second round after losing to familiar foe Carolina Marin of Spain, here on Thursday.

World no. 12 Sindhu suffered a 21-13, 11-21, 20-22 hard-fought loss in the second round of the BWF Super 750 Badminton tournament.

Earlier, the Indian ace defeated world No. 21 Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt of Denmark 21-12, 22-20 in the opening round to set up a meeting with former Olympic champion Marin.

The two shuttlers famously faced each other in the final of the Rio 2016 Olympics where the Spaniard emerged victorious

With a win on Thursday, Marin extended her head-to-head record over Sindhu to 12-5.

More to follow.

–IANS

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Latest global sensation: Praggnanandhaa's first win over Carlsen in classical chess sends netizens into frenzy

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) After Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa defeated world No. 1 GM Magnus Carlsen for the first time in a classical game during round three of the 2024 Norway Chess tournament in Stavanger, netizens went into a frenzy over the Indian prodigy’s significant achievement.

The 18-year-old Indian Grandmaster beat Carlsen on his home turf on white pieces, emerging as the sole leader with 5.5 points.

Carlsen and Praggnanandhaa had drawn their previous three encounters in this format, two of which in the 2023 World Cup final.

On Wednesday night, the 18-year-old Indian grandmaster punished Carlsen’s risky play. Carlsen never castled and eventually lost as his king couldn’t find a safe haven.

Following Pragg’s win over world no 1 Norwegian, social media was flooded with congratulatory messages.

“Latest global sensation from India!,” a fan wrote on X.

“Waking up to this mind blowing good news. #Praggnanandhaa, India’s 18-year-old chess prodigy, managed to defeat World No 1 #MagnusCarlsen for the first time in a classical game,” another user added.

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“This win is special indeed, defeating Carlsen in his home is no mean feat,” a fan posted on X.

“Here’s the one who is making India proud. He is a hero oh no he is a champion! Many congratulations to Praggnanandhaa! Here’s a game he played against Magnus Carlsen and won. @rpraggnachess thank you,” an X post read.

“R Praggnanandhaa you beauty. We surely have the next Vishwanathan Anand in the making,” another user posted.

–IANS

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'You absolutely need to have the discipline…': Watson's advice on social media usage

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) While IPL 2024 produced towering scores, stellar spells and unforgettable memories for cricket connoisseurs, the tournament also saw numerous instances of players being trolled and abused on their social media handles by anonymous fan accounts.

In this ever-growing digital age, social media has become an inseparable part of cricketers’ lives. A good performance on a particular match day will bring them huge praise from fans. But if they have a bad on-field performance day, then the players are at the receiving end of unsavoury comments from the same fans who cheered for them on the day they do well.

Shane Watson, the former Australia all-rounder, believes the modern-day cricketers need to develop a discipline where they don’t get into reading nasty comments on their social media accounts.

“Not just cricketers, people in general and performers when you’re putting yourself, especially in the public domain, one thing is yes, there’s huge advantages to social media. I enjoy looking at social media because I love learning things. So, in my feed there’s whether it’s cooking or coffee or different things about learning and parenting come up in my feed that I love,” said Watson in an exclusive interview with IANS, on the sidelines of his new book ‘The Winner’s Mindset’ launched by HarperCollins Publishers India.

“But when it comes to social media around your own performances, you absolutely need to have the discipline to be able to not go into the comments at all. Whether you’ve had a good day or especially when you’ve had a bad day, because you’ve had a good day, people are building up even bigger than what you really are.

“So, you can get a little bit overconfident and ahead of yourself. The downside is you read the comments when you haven’t had a good day and there’s going to be people piling in on you and your performances, like personal attacks,”

Granted that cricket, with its religion-like status in India, involves high emotions of fans who want to see their favourite teams be on a winning spree. In his book, Watson has written about how reading comments made by faceless trolls can have a huge impact on players putting out their best performances and of techniques which can help them overcome it.

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“It’s hard enough to perform at your best when it’s just you and your own thoughts, and trying to manage those to bring the best version of you every time you step out. If then you’ve got people who don’t know you, have got no understanding of the work and everything that you are putting into bringing the best that you possibly can to be best version of you, then that infiltrates your mindset.

“You start to get the shovel out and start digging a deep hole mentally because of those people who’ve got no idea about actually who and what you are and what you’re doing. So, I recommend to everyone that I talk to around using social media, obviously there’s huge benefits to it, but it’s a really simple way to not have the downside of it by being very disciplined around not looking and reading the comments.

“If you don’t do that, then you just get the upside of social media, which there’s a lot, but you don’t have the downside, which then can significantly impact your ability to be able to perform because of those fears of failure, doubts, lack of confidence that comes by reading the comments and the negative comments in particular,” he explained.

In the book, Watson writes about the next step in cricket’s evolution being training cricketers’ minds to produce and execute skills under pressure. So how do cricketers build their mental skills and get it to help them perform under pressure. Watson, a two-time ODI World Cup and Champions Trophy winner, thinks it should begin from a young age, when their technical and physical skills are developing.

“When they’re developing all three together, then it’s a perfect storm from a young age. A lot of the time, the mental skills might be learnt indirectly from coaches who tell you specific things. To know why they’re so important and powerful, its because when you start to go off track, you don’t know why you were doing these things to then just pull yourself back into using and applying these mental skills.

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“I’ve seen it even with some of the greatest players. When things have gone off track, even when they’ve been dominant for a long period of time, they don’t know why these things that they used were so powerful and struggled to be able to get back on track.”

“So, by developing these mental skills and applying these and mastering these from as a teenager in particular, and then going into your 20s, you get closer to mastering your mental skills, which means you can bring the very best version of you from a younger age. Whereas for me, I started that at the age of 34.

“It took a couple of years really of integrating those in every aspect of my life, especially around my training and then performance in game, to be able to get closer to mastering it. So then I knew how to be able to bring the best version of myself and access all my skills.

“So, when you apply those mental skills from a younger age, you don’t have the stress, anxiety and worry that goes with performance to bring out the positive side – the best version of you every time when stepping in to perform,” he elaborated.

After his playing career ended, Watson has taken up coaching roles which require him to use his mental skills into bringing the best performances out of teams, something which he calls has been fascinating. He worked as the mental skills performance coach with the men’s NSW Blues squad from September 2023 to February 2024, apart from two IPL seasons as an assistant coach with the Delhi Capitals.

Apart from being Australian Cricketers Association President for four years and taking up commentary roles, Watson has coached Quetta Gladiators, who entered the PSL 2024 playoffs this year and will be flying to USA for his second season of coaching the San Francisco Unicorns in the Major League Cricket (MLC) season two in July.

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“It’s what I absolutely love – being able to be a coach. The core things that I worked on when I was at the Delhi Capitals, and now with the head coaching roles I’ve had as well, I’d say probably 70% is all to do with mental skills and around mental skills coaching, like setting that environment up at the start so people really understand the mental skills side of us as human beings.

“But then the one-on-ones that I do with players, that’s where I really get the most cut through because even the highest performers that I’ve worked and played with, they had a lot of very good times. But they also had times where they would sabotage their own performance because of having the wrong thoughts at the wrong times.

“Being able to educate people and pass on this information, even if they pick up one or two little things that it might not have to do with their ability to perform at their best, it absolutely could be very relevant to them in dealing with setbacks, failure, to be able to reduce and significantly pull out stress, anxiety and worry that goes with not performing and not getting the results you are looking for.

“So, there’s a number of different sides that I tap into as a mental skills coach, because that’s the thing that we’re chasing – to be able to perform more consistently better and pull out all our skills that we’ve worked so tirelessly for. But then to deal with failure and not have the stress, anxiety and worries that builds up when we haven’t got the results that we’re looking for especially holds importance if it becomes over a smaller period of time,” he concluded.

–IANS

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