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Singapore Open: Satwik-Chirag, Aakarshi suffer opening round exit

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Singapore, May 28 (IANS) World no. 1 Indian duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty suffered an opening round exit of the Singapore Open BWF Super 750 after losing 20-22, 18-21 to World ranked 34 Swiss duo of Daniel Lundgaard and Mads Vestergaard. Earlier in the women’s singles, Aakarshi Kashyap lost 19-21, 20-22 to Pornpicha Choeikeewong of Thailand in the Round of 32.

Satwik-Chirag went down fighting in a closed encounter that lasted for 47 minutes.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who ascended to the top of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) men’s doubles rankings last week after a remarkable victory at the Thailand Open Super 500 in Bangkok, had a game point in the first game but could not convert and went on to lose the match.

Satwik and Chirag conceded the lead in the first game itself as they went behind 0-2 and then 2-5 before their opponents surged to a 4-9 lead and extended it to 6-12, winning four points in a row.

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The Indian duo fought back superbly and cut down the gap to 10-12. Scores went neck and neck before Satwik and Chirag tied the scores at 17-17. They had a game point at 20-18 before the Swiss duo came back strongly to win the next four points and win the game 22-20.

Satwik and Chirag took an early lead before Daniel Lundgaard and Mads Vestergaard caught up with them. Scores went neck-and-neck after that with the Indians having a slight edge at 12-10 and 15-13. But the Swiss stars fought back from 16-17 and went on to win the game at 21-18 to wrap up the match.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Erik Janza’s late deflection ends Denmark vs Slovenia in draw

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Stuttgart, June 17 (IANS) Erik Janza’s deflected late strike secured a 1-1 draw for Slovenia against Denmark, cancelling out Christian Eriksen’s early goal in a thrilling Group C opener of Euro Cup.

The Danes took the lead in the 17th minute, capitalising on a momentary lapse in Slovenia’s defense. A quick throw-in caught the Slovenians off guard, allowing Jonas Wind to execute a clever flick that found Christian Eriksen in space.

The Manchester United playmaker, making his 132nd appearance for Denmark, wasted no time in slotting a crisp low finish into the corner past Jan Oblak. It was a moment of sheer class from Eriksen, who, exactly 1,100 days after suffering a cardiac arrest in his country’s opening game of the previous Euros, was pulling the strings in the first half.

Denmark dominated the early proceedings, with Eriksen orchestrating the midfield and creating several opportunities. However, despite their control, they couldn’t extend their lead. In the second half, Slovenia came out with renewed vigour and began to challenge Denmark’s defense more frequently.

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The second half saw both teams squandering clear chances. Jan Oblak, Slovenia’s stalwart goalkeeper, produced an outstanding close-range save to deny Rasmus Hojlund, preserving Slovenia’s hopes. Moments later, Adam Gnezda Cerin missed a golden opportunity to equalise, glancing a header wide of an open goal, much to the disbelief of the Slovenian supporters.

As the clock ticked down, the previously subdued Benjamin Sesko nearly changed the game with a thunderous 25-yard drive that rattled the woodwork.

Slovenia’s persistence paid off in the 77th minute when Erik Janza decided to try his luck from the edge of the area. His shot took a significant deflection off Denmark’s Morten Hjulmand, wrong-footing Kasper Schmeichel and nestling into the net, much to the delight of the Slovenian fans.

The final minutes of the match were tense, with both teams pushing for a winner, but neither side could find the decisive goal. The draw leaves both teams with a point each as they look ahead to their next fixtures.

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Denmark will face a tough challenge against England in Frankfurt on Thursday, a match that promises to be a stern test of their credentials. Meanwhile, Slovenia will take on Serbia in Munich earlier that day, hoping to build on their resilient performance against the Danes.

–IANS

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Nagal loses Challengers final in Perugia

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Perugia, June 17 (IANS) Sumit Nagal’s remarkable run on the ATP Challenger Tour met a formidable obstacle as he fell short in the final of the Perugia Challenger, succumbing to World No. 37 Luciano Darderi in a brisk 62-minute match.

The final score, 6-1, 6-2, did little justice to Nagal’s recent surge in form and tenacity on the court. Having played 10 matches in the last 12 days, including a triumphant campaign in Heilbronn, Germany, where he clinched the sixth Challenger title of his career, Nagal had propelled himself to new heights in the ATP Rankings.

Nagal’s victory in Germany was a testament to his grit and skill, propelling him to a career-high ranking of 77 and virtually securing his spot in the men’s singles event at the Paris Olympics. However, the physical toll of his relentless schedule became evident in Perugia. The 26-year-old Indian entered the final after a grueling three-set semifinal battle against Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles, which left him visibly fatigued against a fresher opponent in Darderi.

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Darderi, the top-seeded Italian, wasted no time asserting his dominance, breaking Nagal thrice to take the first set in just 27 minutes. Nagal, showing glimpses of his resilience, managed to break Darderi’s eight-game winning streak by leveling the second set at 1-2.

However, the Italian swiftly regained control, breaking Nagal again in the sixth game to establish a 4-2 lead. Darderi’s relentless pressure proved too much, and he broke Nagal for the sixth time while the Indian was serving to stay in the match, sealing his victory.

Despite the defeat, Nagal’s remarkable journey in recent weeks has seen him rise to 71 in the live ATP Rankings. This ascent has significant historical resonance, as it places him above the legendary Leander Paes, who achieved a career-high ranking of 73.

Nagal now stands joint-fourth on the all-time list of highest-ranked Indian men since the advent of computerised rankings in 1973, sharing the spot with Sashi Menon and trailing only behind Somdev Devvarman (62), Ramesh Krishnan (23), and Vijay Amritraj (18).

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–IANS

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Mewar Premier League trophy unveiled in Udaipur

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Udaipur, June 16 (IANS) The much-anticipated trophy for the Mewar Premier League, which is set to begin from June 19, was unveiled on Friday in a grand ceremony at the Wonder Cricket Academy, Shikarbadi Cricket Ground

The Mewar Premier League is scheduled to take place from June 19 to June 28. The District Franchise League, held at the Wonder Cricket Academy Shikarbadi Cricket Ground, will feature day and night matches.

The unveiling of the trophy has set the stage for a thrilling series of matches in the heart of Udaipur, generating immense excitement and anticipation. The Mewar Premier League aims to promote cricketing talent and also to unite communities through the universal love for the sport, creating lasting memories and inspiring future generations of cricketers.

The event was graced by Gautam Ji Dak, cooperative and civil aviation minister, Government of Rajasthan. The ceremony saw the presence of several prominent figures, including the chairman of Mewar Premier League, Manoj Choudary, and the Founder of 100 Sports, Ravindra Bhati, along with other members of the Udaipur District Cricket Association (UDCA).

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Speaking about the Mewar Premier League, Gautam Ji Dak, said, “There is a new environment of sports in the country. UDCA has been working well for the game of cricket and I wish them well for the future. 100 Sports is also doing a good job under the guidance of Ravindra Bhati and I want everyone to come together and promote the game both at the national and international level. My message for fans is the City of Lakes might become the city of players after the Mewar Premier League.”

Jointly organised by the Udaipur District Cricket Association and 100 Sports, the League will feature, six formidable teams representing various districts of Mewar. Players such as Ashok Sharma, Shubham Garhwal, Mohit Jain, Aditya Garhwal will feature in the tournament.

–IANS

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Archery: Bhajan Kaur claims gold, secures Olympic quota for India

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Antalya, June 16 (IANS) 18-year-old archer Bhajan Kaur clinched a gold medal in the recurve women’s individual event, securing India a coveted quota place for the Paris 2024 Olympics at the Final Olympic Qualifier on Sunday.

Kaur’s triumph comes as a beacon of hope for Indian archery, especially after seasoned archer Deepika Kumari’s unexpected early exit.

Despite the early setback when second-ranked Deepika Kumari, who received two byes, was defeated 6-4 by Azerbaijan’s Yaylagul Ramazanova in her first match, Kaur and Ankita Bhakat carried the torch forward. The competition allowed only one individual quota per country, and Kaur’s exceptional performance ensured India claimed this spot.

Ranked third in the tournament, Kaur showcased her prowess throughout the event. After receiving two byes, she overcame Mongolia’s Urantungalag Bishindee 6-2, Slovakia’s Ursa Cavic 7-3, and Poland’s Wioleta Myszor 6-0 to secure her place in the quarterfinals. Her winning streak continued as she defeated Moldova’s Alexandra Mirca 6-2 in the semifinals and Iran’s Mobina Fallah 6-2 in the final, earning her the gold medal and an Olympic berth for India.

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Ankita Bhakat, seeded ninth, also delivered a commendable performance. She received two byes and then defeated Israel’s Shelley Hilton 6-4, Mikaella Moshe 7-3, and the Philippines’ Gabrielle Monica Bidaure 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals. However, Bhakat’s journey ended in the quarters with a close 6-4 loss to Iran’s Mobina Fallah.

Despite the successes of Kaur and Bhakat, the Indian men’s and women’s recurve teams faced early exits, missing out on the team quotas which would have allowed India to field three men and three women at the Olympics. However, hope remains as both teams are positioned at the top among the countries that have yet to secure team quotas. Their standings in the world rankings offer another route to qualification.

–IANS

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Smriti, Deepti & Pooja did the work of contributing for the team: Harmanpreet Kaur

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Bengaluru, June 16 (IANS) After decimating South Africa by 143 in the ODI series opener at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur appreciated vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, as well as all-rounders Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar for contributing to team’s victory.

On a slightly sluggish pitch, Smriti smashed a fantastic 117, her sixth ODI century, to take India to 265/8. She was well-supported by knocks from Deepti (37) and Pooja (31 not out), followed by the duo taking two wickets and one scalp respectively to bowl out South Africa for 122 in 37.4 overs. The result has meant India have gone 1-0 up in the three-game series.

“It’s definitely a good start, and it was a great team performance. The message was very clear: just be there and keep backing yourself. We have a long batting line-up; we have at least six batters who can bat for 50 overs.”

“I know in a game everyone can’t contribute; only two or three players are going to take the team ahead. I think today Smriti, Deepti, and Pooja did that work,” said Harmanpreet after the match ended.

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Talking about the bowling combination and Pooja’s left leg injury scare, Harmanpreet said, “We already discussed that we are going with five bowlers, and maybe myself, Hemalatha, or Shafali might come and bowl a few overs when required. I hope (Pooja) she’s fine and not that bad. It was great for me that I got a few overs to bowl for the team.”

Smriti, named Player of the Match for her composed knock in tough situations for India laced with 12 fours and a six, said she was elated to have played a huge role in the hosts’ win. “We won the match so really happy that I could contribute, important to start the tournament well, we got 100+ win, nothing better than that.”

“As I said earlier, it was really a task not to go aerial and go for the grounded shots, we have played a lot of T20 cricket, today the need was for partnerships, credit to Deepti and Pooja for getting those. It was playing the situation.”

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“In one-day cricket and white-ball cricket, there will be days when one or two batters will carry the team. My role was to take it deep, once I was set, having got to 30-40. I don’t think anyone got out after getting set and that was the role given to me.”

Leg-spinner Asha Sobhana, who took 4-21 on her ODI debut, said her plan was to keep things as simple as possible, due to the pitch offering help for bowlers. “I just kept it simple, I wanted to bowl in the right areas, I was in a good rhythm, I wanted to continue. I have been practising this for years, I did not want to do anything extraordinary, wanted to focus on the basics.”

“There was a lot for turn on the wicket, did not want to give space to the batters, wanted to vary the pace so that the batters don’t pick my variations. This stadium is very special for me, by the grace of god everything went well. Pitch is amazing and a little bit of my effort as well.”

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“I woke up in the morning today and prayed to God that everything should go well, glad that it went well. They (team management) just told me to enjoy, they had lot of confidence in my skills, they wanted me to go out and explore. I’m happy that my nation won.”

South Africa skipper said she was disappointed over her batting line-up never being in the hunt to chase down the total posted by India. “Obviously, this is not the ideal way to start the series. I think there are a few positives, however. I thought it was a very decent score.”

“I thought one person needed to bat through; was a very chaseable target. I think the bowlers did pretty well; as I said, 265 was not too bad. We just lost our way with the bat. We had the batting line up to fix whatever had gone wrong earlier. But being 30 for 3 was not ideal.”

–IANS

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