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Shooting sport: Ashi Chouksey finishes second in Polish Grand Prix

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New Delhi, March 16 (IANS) Ashi Chouksey, who won three medals at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, last year, finished an impressive second in the ongoing Grand Prix Wroclawia & Dolnego Slaska international shooting competition in Wroclaw, Poland.

The shooter from the M.P. State Shooting Academy shot 464.7 in the final of the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions (3P) to finish behind local favourite Julia Piotrowska. Two other Indians in the field, Sift Kaur Samra and Anjum Moudgil, also made the final, finishing fourth and seventh respectively.

Ashi topped the qualification round earlier in the day with a solid 593 across the three positions of Kneeling, Prone and Standing. Anjum was fifth with 591 while Sift was sixth with 589. Julia qualified second, a point behind Ashi, but comfortably prevailed over the young Indian in the final with a score of 467.3. Aneta Brabcova of the Czech Republic was third.

Indian shooters have been doing well at the Poland Grand Prix. In earlier competitions, Paris Olympic quota holder Anish Bhanwala in the men’s 25m rapid-fire pistol and Niraj Kumar in the men’s 3P had also won medals.

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–IANS

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Bajrang Punia again suspended by NADA for anti-doping rule violation: Report

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Bajrang Punia has received a formal “notice of charge” from the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) for refusing to provide a urine sample. As a result, a multiple World Championships medallist, has once again been provisionally suspended by NADA, says a report.

Last month, Punia was provisionally suspended after he refused to provide his urine sample to NADA during the selection trials in Sonepat on March 10.

According to the Tribune report, “the latest order was issued by NADA on Thursday and he has been asked to respond to the latest suspension by July 11”.

Following reports of his inital provisional suspension order, the wrestler had clarified that he never “refused to give his sample” and requested NADA officials for a response about the expired kit which they had sent to collect his sample.

Later, Anti Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADAP) revoked the 30-year-old wrestler’s suspension, citing that NADA had not formally charged Bajrang for the anti-doping rule violation that allegedly took place in March this year.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Knew conditions well, tried to vary my pace & length', says Kuldeep

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North Sound (Antigua), June 23 (IANS) After his superb 3-19 played a key role in India’s comprehensive 50-run win over Bangladesh in their second Super Eights game of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav said he knew conditions well and was focused on varying his pace and length in outclassing batters.

Kuldeep had made his international white-ball debut in the Caribbean in 2017 and after not playing Group A matches in pace-friendly New York, he was brought back for the Super Eights, where he has now taken five wickets across two games.

“I was helping out the team-mates and carrying the drinks (in New York). That is more like playing as a 12th man. I would have loved to bowl there. But it’s more like an Australian sort of wicket.

“But here I made my T20 (and) ODI debut back in 2017. I knew the conditions very well, just the length and trying to vary my pace. So it’s perfect for spinners to come here and bowl,” said Kuldeep in the post-match press conference.

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Against Bangladesh, Kuldeep bowled a wonderful spell on a pitch having bounce and bit of grip to trap Tanzid Hasan lbw on the back leg via a stunning googly. He then got a leg-break to turn in slightly to go past a slog-sweeping Towhid Hridoy and trap him lbw. He completed his three-fer by forcing Shakib Al Hasan to mistime a loft to cover.

“It’s very important to play every game, take every game as a normal game. Now obviously we playing at Super Eight, obviously we have a lot of pressure as well. We’re going to play Australia in a couple of days’ time.

“The wickets are good for spinners, as you have seen in the last few games as well. Nothing changes. I’ve got four overs to bowl and that was my plan. Just sticking with the length and varying my pace. For me it’s nice,” added Kuldeep.

He also touched upon that despite the cross breeze challenging his bowling from the Sir Andy Roberts End, it was important for him to nail his lengths and read what the batters might do, instead about thinking how wind can hamper him.

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“It was difficult from this end as a spinner because my rhythm is like, not like running rhythm, it’s more like a one step and then aggressive. I didn’t think about the wind, just the length matters. And obviously reading the batter what they are expecting from me, just reading one step ahead, what they are thinking.

“So just keeping this in mind and changing the line and length, and obviously they were targeting the windy side, and just reacting to what they are doing. When the other team needs 10 runs or 12 runs per over and the batter’s going against you my plan is to just stick with the length.

“Obviously when they try to attack you, if you have a proper plan against them and you are bowling in probably the better length, you have maximum chances of getting the batter out. So that is my thinking, not thinking I have to get him out, just the length,” he concluded.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Putting pressure on opposition matters in T20s', says Rohit

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North Sound (Antigua), June 23 (IANS) After securing a 50-run win over Bangladesh in their second Super Eight game of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, India skipper Rohit Sharma said his side’s batting approach of going hard from the word go and putting pressure on the opposition is what matters the most now.

On a fresh pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, India dominated from the word go with immaculate ease, as every batter looked to attack, resulting in four batters having strike-rate above 150, as they posted a commanding 196/5.

Vice-captain Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 27-ball fifty was laced with four fours and three sixes, which was key in India amassing 62 runs off the last five overs. Virat Kohli made a solid 37, while Rishabh Pant smashed an entertaining 36 and Shivam Dube overcame his struggles to hit 34, with Rohit himself making a quick 23.

The attacking strategy worked well as India also posted the highest T20I score at the venue. They also hit 13 sixes – the most number of maximums they have hit in a T20 World Cup game, as Bangladesh struggled to contain them for prolonged periods in the match.

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“Look, all eight batters need to play their role, whatever it is. We saw only one guy get a fifty, but we still got 198 (196). In T20s, I don’t believe you need to get fifties and hundreds. How you can put pressure on the opposition is what matters.”

“All the batters were trying to do that from the word go. That’s how we want to play and encourage ourselves to go forward. Yes, you need to understand the conditions as well, but we have a lot of experience in the squad, and we back them to use that experience on the field,” said Rohit after the match ended.

For India to secure their qualification for the semi-finals, they simply need to beat Australia at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia on Monday or avoid a huge defeat to save their net run rate from suffering a big dent.

“I’ve been talking about that for a long time. It’s just about going there and putting it to work knowing what is expected out of us, what we need to do and how we need to play. Considering everything, we played really well.”

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“We adapted to the conditions. There are factors (like the wind) you need to take into account and be smart on how to choose those options. We were smart with the bat, and with the ball. Overall it was a great effort,” added Rohit.

He also spoke about how Pandya’s vintage knock and his 53-run stand with Dube helped India get out of a troubled phase against Bangladesh. “I mentioned in the last game that his partnership with Surya (was crucial against Afghanistan). Him batting well the way he did puts us in a very good state.”

“We want to finish off innings really well after the top five-six set the platform to finish the game. Hardik being Hardik, we know what he’s capable of. This was a perfect example of what he can do with the bat. He’s a very important player for us. If he can keep doing that, we will be in good positions,” concluded Rohit.

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–IANS

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'I have no intentions of getting into coaching', says Abhinav Bindra

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) India’s 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra believes that the Indian shooting contingent have the “potential to secure multiple medals” at the Paris Olympics, scheduled to kickstart from July 26.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, he further added that the depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense. Asked if he has any plans to take over the coaching role in the near future, Bindra said “no”.

The former Indian shooter also explained about the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation, designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the 2024 Games.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

IANS: Paris Games are just a month away, how many medals do you think India can win in shooting? Since Tokyo was empty!

AB: Predicting the exact number of medals is challenging, but I am optimistic about our chances in Paris. Our shooters have been training rigorously, and with the right support and preparation, I believe we have the potential to secure multiple medals.

IANS: Who do you think can become the next Abhinav Bindra of shooting? Any chance of taking over the coach’s role in the Indian side?

AB: The depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense, and I am confident that we will continue to produce many champions in the years to come. As for myself, I have no intentions of getting into coaching.

IANS: Indian shooters perform well in other major tournaments, but when it comes to the Olympics, they often fall short. What do you think is the reason?

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AB: We must rally and support our athletes wholeheartedly. Shooting has won Olympic medals in the past, and there is no reason why we can’t achieve this success again in the future.

IANS: How is the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the Paris Olympics?

AB: The collaboration between the IOC, Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation is built around the “Let’s Move India” initiative. This program aims to inspire physical activity by engaging people of all ages in celebrating the Paris 2024 Olympics. Through a series of digital challenges and regional school initiatives, we are encouraging individuals to participate in various forms of movement, be it dance, local sports, or athletic celebrations. This partnership not only highlights the importance of physical well-being but also brings communities together in a shared celebration of our athletes heading to Paris 2024.

IANS: What role do schools play in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as part of this collaborative effort?

AB: Schools play a pivotal role in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as they serve as the primary platforms for engaging young minds. Through OVEP, we integrate the core values of Olympism—excellence, respect, and friendship—into the educational framework. Schools across the country participate in physical activities, educational workshops, and community events, fostering a culture of physical fitness and sportsmanship. This involvement ensures that children not only stay active but also internalize the positive values associated with the Olympic movement. Through my foundation – ABF, we work with schoolchildren to experience these values through sport, art and activities, which helps them imbibe values and 21st century life skills.

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IANS: How has the initiative positively impacted children in Odisha and Assam, and how many children have benefited from it?

AB: The initiative has had a significant positive impact on children in Odisha and Assam, enhancing their physical activity levels, promoting gender inclusivity, and improving educational outcomes. Through our collaborative efforts, we have reached and benefited over 7 million children. These children have gained access to better sports facilities, training, and educational resources, fostering a holistic development that combines physical fitness with academic growth.

IANS: In what ways does the Abhinav Bindra Foundation contribute to promoting physical well-being?

AB: The Abhinav Bindra Foundation contributes to promoting physical well-being through various initiatives focused on sports science, athlete training, and community engagement. Our high-performance training centers provide grassroots athletes with access to state-of-the-art facilities and professional coaching. Additionally, our STEAM and Sport4Her initiatives aim to develop young athletes, particularly girls, while our Sport of Life and Athlete Mental Wellness programs offer surgical assistance and mental health support, respectively. We also focus on addressing environment and climate change through the Olympic Forest Project. By integrating global best practices, we strive to create a supportive environment that nurtures physical and mental well-being.

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IANS: What is the Olympic Movement’s mission in terms of enhancing physical and mental health through sport?

AB: The Olympic Movement’s mission is to make the world a better place through sport by enhancing both physical and mental health. This mission is accomplished by promoting regular physical activity, fostering community spirit, and encouraging healthy lifestyles. The “Let’s Move” initiative exemplifies this mission by inspiring millions of people worldwide to engage in daily physical activity, which in turn improves overall well-being and creates a more active, healthier global community.

IANS: Why is it important to support Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and how does this collaboration aim to achieve that goal?

AB: Supporting Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics is vital to highlighting the incredible talent and dedication within our sports community on a global platform. Through initiatives like “Let’s Move India,” we aim to generate widespread support and enthusiasm, significantly boosting our athletes’ morale. The Olympic movement is gaining traction in India, and with Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of hosting the Olympics in 2036, programs like OVEP and Let’s Move India are crucial in connecting young audiences with the global community. Furthermore, our efforts to promote physical activity at the grassroots level are essential in nurturing a strong pipeline of future Olympians.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Thank God we at last beat Australia', says Naib after Afghanistan’s epic triumph

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Kingstown, June 23 (IANS) Pace all-rounder Gulbadin Naib, who took the Player-of-the-Match award in Afghanistan’s historic 21-run win over Australia in the Super Eights stage of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, said he was elated and relieved over his side finally beating their much-fancied opponents in international cricket.

At the Arnos Vale Stadium, Naib became the game-changer for Afghanistan though his spell of 4-20, where he bowled his four overs without any interruption. He took out Marcus Stoinis and Tim David, before getting the all-important wicket of Glenn Maxwell for 59 in the 14th over to end Australia’s hopes of winning the game.

The result means Afghanistan are still in the race to enter the semi-finals, and opens up Group 1 incredibly. The epic win also is very sweet for Afghanistan, who dealt with two heartbreaks previously while facing Australia in World Cups.

In the 2022 T20 World Cup, Afghanistan fell short of beating Australia by just one runs and in the 2023 ODI World Cup, their hopes of a win were dashed by a cramping and one-legged Maxwell making an unbeaten 200.

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“Thank god we at last beat Australia. It’s a great achievement for our cricket in Afghanistan. If you look at history of our cricket, it is not much. Last ten years, we achieved a lot of goals. This is a big achievement.

“We played very good cricket and in the first round we beat New Zealand. Then (to beat) Australia is not easy. They are a world champion team and it is a big achievement for our cricket. We can carry this to the next level. Our journey starts now. We are very lucky to have such a staff and management,” said Naib after the match.

Naib also paid gratitude to captain Rashid Khan for trusting his bowling skills again in a crucial juncture of the game. “We were waiting (for this win) for a long time. It’s a great moment not just for me but for my nation and my people.

“(It is a) big achievement for our cricket. I have no words to say but thanks to the fans for supporting our career and cricket journey. It’s a great teamwork, we worked hard for the last two months and the result is in front of you.”

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Rashid was also glad that Afghanistan got third time lucky in beating Australia in World Cups, which he described as a great feeling and hoped for their loyal fans back home to be proud of the side.

“It’s a massive win for us as a team and as a nation. In the World Cup, beating champions is a great feeling. It’s something we missed in last two years – in 2023 World Cup and also in 2022 in Australia where we lacked some runs.

“It is so much important for us home and for everyone and all over the world where Afghans are there. They were badly missing this win. I am sure they would be proud of this and would have enjoyed the game. It is just the beginning for us, big game next and we have all the chances of making the semis.”

In the batting, Afghanistan were propelled by Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran putting on an opening stand of 118 runs, before crumbling in the fag end of their innings to end up on 148/6, as Pat Cummins took another hat-trick.

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Rashid felt Afghanistan having the services of eight bowlers made things easy for them to bowl out Australia for 127 in 19.2 overs.

“The thought was although we didn’t finish as well as we would have liked to, but this is how this wicket is. The more important thing was that the opening partnership gave us the best start. That let us get to a total we had in mind.

“We all watched two games before, and on this wicket anything 130-plus we said we were capable of defending. We keep calm and have that belief. The beauty of this team is having too many allrounders gives you options. As a captain, it makes it easy,” he said

–IANS

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