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'Not injured': Neeraj Chopra on pulling out of Ostrava meet

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Olympic gold medallist javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra has clarified that he is ‘not injured’ and pulled out of the Ostrava Golden Spike 2024 athletics meet as a precautionary measure to keep himself risk-free in the Olympic year.

The 26-year-old athlete has to issue an update on his health after the organisers said in the official statement that Neeraj has sustained an injury during the training which will restrict his participation in the event that is scheduled to commence on May 28.

“Hello everyone! Following a recent throwing session, I decided not to compete in Ostrava as I felt something in my adductor. I have had problems with it in the past and pushing it at this stage can lead to injury,” Neeraj clarified via Instagram story.

“Just to clarify I am not injured but I don’t want to take any risk during the Olympic year so had to take this decision. Once I feel it’s fully recovered, I will get back to competitions. Thank you for your support,” he added.

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Earlier, the organisers said Neeraj picked up an injury in adductor muscle while training two weeks ago. He will only attend the athlete meet as a guest.

“Due to an injury that he sustained in training two weeks ago (adductor muscle), he will not be able to throw in Ostrava,” the organisers had earlier said in a statement.

“He will arrive at the event as a guest,” it added.

Neeraj started his season with a second-place finish at the Doha Diamond League earlier this month. He also returned to domestic competition after almost three years to win gold in the Federation Cup with a throw of 82.27m, pushing DP Manu to the second spot in Bhubaneswar.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Jaffer backs Rohit, Kohli to continue opening for India in Super 8

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Former India cricketer Wasim Jaffer has voiced his support for maintaining India’s opening batting pair of Virat Kohli and captain Rohit Sharma in the Super Eight stage of the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Despite their lacklustre start in the tournament, Jaffer believes that the experienced duo will regain their form in the Super 8 fixtures, starting with their crucial match against Afghanistan in Barbados on June 20.

Jaffer’s remarks come at a time when Kohli and Rohit have struggled to find their footing in the tournament. Kohli, who entered the World Cup riding high on his scintillating form in the IPL 2024, has managed only five runs across three innings. His highest score was a mere four runs against Pakistan. Similarly, Rohit has amassed just 68 runs in his three outings, with a single notable knock of 52 against Ireland.

Speaking to Star Sports, Jaffer underscored the importance of sticking with the seasoned pair despite their recent struggles. “Now that you are stuck with both of them, I don’t think it’s gonna make sense because you’re gonna split both of them up,” Jaffer explained.

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“You might probably think of playing Yashasvi Jaiswal. That’s probably what you’re thinking, and then Rishabh Pant, who has done so well at number three, he has to bat even lower down the order, probably at number four. Then where does Suryakumar Yadav bat? So it’s going to mess up the whole batting order, so I think they’ll probably stick with that.”

Jaffer emphasised that reshuffling the batting order could lead to further complications, disrupting the roles of key players like Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav. Pant, who has been effective at number three, and Yadav, who thrives higher up the order, could find their contributions hampered by such changes.

“Rishabh has done well at number three. Suryakumar, you don’t want to bat him any lower than that, so I think they’ll stick with that. But yeah, they have to go really hard in the powerplay. We’ve seen when Australia have done that against England, they were so ahead in the powerplay, getting that 74 runs. That’s where you can make a mark. So Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the way they are batting, you could see that happen in the powerplay in West Indies.”

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India’s qualification to the Super Eight was sealed with a convincing seven-wicket win against co-hosts USA. As they prepare to face an in-form Afghanistan in their first match in the Caribbean, Men in Blue’s confidence in Kohli and Sharma’s ability to bounce back will be a crucial factor in their strategy.

–IANS

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Mandhana becomes second Indian woman to score 7000 international runs

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) In a significant milestone, India opener Smriti Mandhana crossed the 7000-run mark in international cricket during the first ODI against South Africa at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Mandhana’s achievement placed her in elite company, making her the second Indian woman to surpass 7000 runs including all formats. She followed in the footsteps of former captain Mithali Raj, who amassed a remarkable 10,868 runs in her illustrious career.

Close on Mandhana’s heels is current captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who has accumulated 6,870 runs, underscoring the strength and depth of India’s batting lineup.

Mandhana played a knock of 117 runs off 127 balls including 12 fours and a six to post her first ODI hundred on home soil and second against South Africa. During her sixth ODI century, she also build crucial partnerships with Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vatrakar to take India over 200-run mark.

Meanwhile, Deepti also completed 2000 ODI runs during her 37-run knock in 200th international match.

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Earlier, Harmanpreet won the toss and opted to bat first in the opening match of the three-game ODI series.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup:There's a reason why I've played for so long, and be in the team, says Bairstow

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North Sound (Antigua), June 16 (IANS) After England secured a 41-run win over Namibia in a truncated affair and seeing Australia beat Scotland to enter the Super Eight stage, wicketkeeper-batter Jonny Bairstow hit back at the critics for questioning his place in the side, saying there’s a reason behind him playing international cricket for a long time.

Under pressure due to scoring just 64 runs in his last four T20Is, Bairstow smashed 31 off 18 balls while sharing a 56-run stand with Harry Brook for the third wicket as England made 122/5 in their ten overs, which was enough for the defending champions to get an important win over Namibia.

“Look, people are allowed to have opinions, and yeah, look, it’s part and parcel of it. It’s not the first time that people have had a go at me, is it? So yeah, you take it on the chin, and you crack on.

“But look, at the end of the day, there’s a reason why I’ve played for so long, and there’s a reason why I’m in the team. So maybe sometimes the opinions and the views that come through certain people’s eyes are incorrect and maybe need to look at themselves,” said Bairstow in the post-match press conference.

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Bairstow is still one of the few players who plays all three formats of international cricket and he’s admitted it’s a tough juggling act for him this year, but is still proud of himself to maintain that balance.

“I’d like to be keeping wicket and batting in the Tests. That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do. I haven’t spent much time thinking about it. The games have been coming thick and fast. I think I’ve had about five nights at home since January 11th, when we left.

“So, it’s something that you just keep playing, you keep trying to learn, you keep enjoying the experiences and the challenges that get put in front of you, and I think that that’s the important bit.

“When you are on tour and when you’re fortunate enough to play in the different formats and the different countries that you have around the world, the willingness and the enjoyment and the challenges you’ve got to accept and sometimes overcome them and look at times it does get difficult.

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“At times, it is hard to adapt from format to format, and it does take a little bit of change, but look, it’s something that I’ve done for all my career, and I wouldn’t change anything of it to be quite honest with you because to be fortunate enough to play in all three formats for England it’s something that I’m very, very proud of,” he elaborated.

Asked if he’s okay with being moved up and down the batting order as per demands of the situation, Bairstow remarked, “Look I’m not sure that’s going to be a permanent thing I don’t know what’s going on with that. Here, that was the decision that was made.

“You go out there and you perform in the positions that you’re asked to do so. That partnership in the middle there, like I said, after losing two early on was an imperative partnership and something that, look, if Harry and I can bat for a period of time through the middle, there’s going to be some decent scores.”

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–IANS

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UTT 2024: Sharath, Manika among top Indian stars to be retained by franchises

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New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The experienced duo of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra were among the five Indian paddlers who were retained by their respective franchises ahead of the upcoming Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) 2024, which will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai from August 22 to September 7.

Last season’s runners-up Chennai Lions retained the services of legend Sharath Kamal, while Bengaluru Smashers opted to continue with the highest-ranked Indian, Batra, as the franchises preferred to stick with their top paddlers for the upcoming season.

It will be an eight-team league for the first time, providing a platform for young Indian paddlers to exhibit their talent alongside the world’s elite players. This significant expansion aims to elevate the standard of competition and foster the growth of emerging talent within the sport.

Defending champions Goa Challengers have retained Harmeet Desai, who played a pivotal role in their success last season, while Sathiyan Gnanasekaran will continue with Dabang Delhi TTC. U Mumba TT have also extended their association with talented youngster Manav Thakkar for yet another season.

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“Over the years, the franchises have not only looked to win titles but also focused on building the core of their team around their star player who can lead the team. The same thought process is visible in the player retention for UTT 2024 as we see the five franchises sticking to their star performers for yet another season,” UTT promoters Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani said in a joint statement.

According to the rules of the league, the six existing franchises were allowed to retain one Indian player. Puneri Paltan Table Tennis, who have decided not to retain any player, and new entrants Jaipur Patriots and Ahmedabad SG Pipers will select a player of their choice in the first round of the player draft. The first round will have only three picks.

The countdown for the new season began with all eight franchises picking up one foreigner and one Indian coach from the Coach Draft and will now look to build a six-player squad that will include four Indians and two foreigners (one male and one female).

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The new season will also see a change in the tournament format due to the inclusion of two more teams. The eight teams will now be divided into two groups of four teams each. Each franchise will play five ties during the league stage, facing the other three teams within their respective group and two randomly selected teams from the other group once.

The top two teams from each group will then qualify for the semi-finals.

Retained Players:

Chennai Lions: Sharath Kamal

Dabang Delhi TTC: Sathiyan Gnanasekaran

Goa Challengers: Harmeet Desai

PBG Bengaluru Smashers: Manika Batra

U Mumbai TT: Manav Thakkar

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Nepal eye good show against Bangladesh, says head coach Desai

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Kingstown, June 16 (IANS) Ahead of Nepal’s final match of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, head coach Monty Desai said his side is eager to put up a show against Bangladesh at the Arnos Vale Stadium.

Nepal were knocked out of the race to Super Eights after suffering a heartbreaking one-run defeat to South Africa and now face Bangladesh, who are in contention to grab the second and last Super Eight spot from Group D alongside the Netherlands, who are facing Sri Lanka.

“We are building our story, so I am not thinking about spoiling anyone else’s party. The message in the dressing room was that we still want to live in a world of imagination, where we want to believe that we crossed the line (on Friday).

“We want to think that we are on three points, looking forward to Bangladesh and playing to qualify for Super Eight. If you can bring that mentality and fight till the end, cross the line, at least we will go back with a proud moment of winning, and then probably think about the ifs and buts of other games. But yes, we want to put up a show,” said Desai in the pre-match press conference.

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Desai also admitted that he’s still soaking in the emotions of Nepal running South Africa real close in that nail-biting Group D game and believes their return to T20 World Cup fold after a decade will help in progression of cricket in the country.

“It’s very interesting, as when you don’t cross the line, it’s always seen as a team which has not been successful. But with the Associate team like Nepal who has never played against South Africa, if I had to only speak like a fan from outside, I know that they are capable more than that.

“But just as a fan who loves the game, I would say Nepal definitely have left their footprints with that game and to let the Test nations and world cricket know that they belong here. I have a strong belief in this class of the players who have come together.

“I know the numbers don’t match the professional numbers of battles of Test teams or well-established teams. But I strongly believe that when you talk about something which never changed previously, this will go down as something will change forever for Nepal,” he elaborated.

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A heartwarming sight in the T20 World Cup has been the outpouring of Nepal fans and supporting the side in huge numbers at Dallas, Lauderhill and Kingstown. Desai appreciated the massive support for the team from the passionate fans, but added that Nepal’s future progression is down to them playing against big teams and winning big moments consistently.

“I think the biggest success story of Nepal cricket is about these innocent fans. I say innocent because I am only looking at it through my lens. I know when I walk across the Tribhuvan University ground (in Kirtipur), I see so many of those Nepali fans on the banks, they might be having daily jobs, daily wages to live their life and they leave that and come to watch the game and support these young dreams.”

“They have stood with the umbrellas in the rain in the past. When we qualified (for the T20 World Cup), they were standing on the roof, they were climbing the trees. There are so many layers to the definition of ‘fans’ as the 12th man for Nepal cricket. I am sure it will be very hard right now for them to soak in their emotions.

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“Cricket is cruel sometimes. Again, I say South Africa had already qualified, we just needed to cross the line and stay alive in this tournament. I urge the fans back home to keep supporting these young dreams with the limited resources, not using an excuse. I think we have taken strides.

“The more we get exposure against these Test nations, again another opportunity tomorrow, we’ll go to that (game) against Bangladesh, and I think we’ll be up for it. I know all it requires now in those one-ball battles is courage and that is something which we are instilling and moulding in these young dreams,” he concluded.

–IANS

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