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T20 World Cup: Will think whether to play both Kuldeep and Yuzi, says Dravid ahead of Afghanistan clash

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Bridgetown, June 20 (IANS) As the Super Eight stage of the T20 World Cup 2024 approaches, India’s head coach Rahul Dravid has hinted at a potential change in the playing XI that could see wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav making his tournament debut against Afghanistan on Thursday. This strategic adjustment comes as India transitions from the pace-friendly pitches of New York to the spin-friendly conditions of the Caribbean.

India’s campaign in the league stage was marked by dominance, securing victories in all three completed games, with their final match washed out due to rain. The team’s prowess was on full display at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York, where the conditions favoured fast bowlers over spinners, leaving little room for Kuldeep Yadav to showcase his skills.

Looking ahead to the Caribbean leg of the tournament, Dravid emphasized the importance of flexibility and adapting to different playing conditions.

“Tough to leave anyone out. All four being left out do possess the quality. But conditions were in favour of pacers. If we feel the need to play an extra spinner in Kuldeep and Yuzi we will give it a thought,” Dravid said at the pre-match press conference.

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“We are lucky to have players with all-round abilities. We had eight batters, but we (also) had seven bowling options,” he added.

With the Super 8 stage set to unfold in the spin-conducive environments of the Caribbean, Dravid’s comments suggest a shift in strategy. Kuldeep Yadav, known for his ability to turn games with his wrist spin, is likely to play a crucial role. Dravid highlighted this tactical consideration, saying,

“Spinners come into play — We picked the squad keeping in mind all kinds of options. In NY we had eight batting options. Yes, wrist spinners will come into play.”

The inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav could provide India with a significant edge, especially in the conditions expected in the Caribbean. Alongside him, Yuzvendra Chahal, another skilled wrist-spinner, remains a potent option, offering depth and variety to India’s bowling attack. This combination could prove to be a formidable challenge for opposition teams.

Dravid also underscored the importance of flexibility in the team’s batting order, highlighting the strategic thinking that goes into such decisions, reflecting on previous games and the unique challenges of T20 cricket.

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“Each situation is unique. Can’t set it in stone. I believe in flexibility. In the Pakistan game, we moved Axar [Patel], specifically thinking around it… Rishabh [Pant] up the order [at No.3], lots of thinking goes into it. I don’t think in Tests [cricket], we will have that flexibility. In T20s where it is a lot about matchups, you see it happening more [flexibility in batting position],” Dravid explained.

The concept of “match-up” in cricket refers to the tactical deployment of players based on their effectiveness against specific opponents. This strategy was vividly illustrated during a tense league match against arch-rivals Pakistan. With India struggling at 19/2 after the early dismissals of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, Axar Patel was promoted to No.4. His quick-fire 20 off 18 balls provided much-needed stability, showcasing the benefits of a flexible approach.

Reflecting on the upcoming matches, Dravid expressed his enthusiasm for the Caribbean leg of the tournament. “Lovely to come to the Caribbean and play cricket. A couple of practice sessions. We are prepared. Afghanistan are a very dangerous side. Their players play more in leagues than our players. They are not a team to be taken lightly. Deservingly in Super 8,” he noted.

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–IANS

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'Pleasure for everyone if final concludes peacefully', Argentina coach ahead of Copa America final

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Florida, July 14 (IANS) Ahead of the Copa America final against Colombia, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni hopes for a peaceful match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Monday (as per IST).

Scaloni’s comments came at the heels of the clashes that erupted between Uruguayan players and Colombia supporters after the former’s 1-0 loss in the semifinal match in North Carolina.

“I hope the fans can enjoy themselves, I sincerely wish for that. Besides the joy of winning the title, it would be a pleasure for everyone if the final concludes peacefully,” Scaloni said during a press conference on Saturday.

Scaloni showed compassion in response to the incident between Uruguayan players, recognising the anguish that results when family members find themselves in such circumstances.

“We expect players to set a positive example, but in such circumstances, reactions can be difficult to predict. I hope incidents like these are not repeated. Witnessing your loved ones amidst such chaos must be deeply distressing,” he remarked.

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Speaking on forward Angel Di Maria’s farewell match for Argentina, Scaloni remains committed to the goal of winning the trophy over individual accolades.

“Even though it may be his final match, our primary consideration remains the team’s needs. Whether he plays or not will be decided accordingly,” Scaloni expressed.

Argentina sealed the final berth after defeating Canada 2-0 in the semi-final. Argentina hope to build on their previous finals success, having won the Copa America in 2021, the Intercontinental Cup in 2022 against Italy, the European champions, and the World Cup in Qatar against France.

“Every final has its own unique challenges. We will approach it with determination to win. Every team understands the significance and pressure that comes with a final,” Scaloni concluded.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Luis de la Fuente claims Spain are not 'favourites' heading into finals

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The joint-record winners of the European Championship, Spain will be taking on England in a blockbuster final of the Euro 2024 at the Olympiastadion Berlin on Monday (as per IST).

Ahead of the highly-awaited encounter, many believe that the Spaniards are the favourites given the ruthlessness they have shown throughout the tournament but head coach Luis de la Fuente has stated that ‘there are no favourites’ in the matchup.

“There are no favourites. It’s an even match-up, just as our previous knockout games were. If we are not above the level we displayed in those games, we won’t have a chance of winning — and the same if we make mistakes,” said de la Fuente in the pre-game conference.

Spain have been one of the best teams at the tournament, they are playing with a fun, free-flowing identity, raising their game to a level which we are accustomed to seeing the La Roja perform at.

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They have scored 13 goals so far in the Euro 2024, the highest by any team in the tournament whilst only conceding three goals which has seen them remain the only team that has won all their games so far.

“It’s fantastic to be here and we are excited to be in the final. It’s one of the biggest sporting achievements there is. We are relaxed and looking forward to playing. Sunday will be a complicated game against a great team, between the best two teams [in the tournament], that’s why we are in the final,” he added.

Out of the two finalists, Spain have definitely had the harder road to Berlin. The side defeated Georgia 4-1 in the Round of 16 which set their clashes against Germany in the quarterfinal (2-1) before a 2-1 victory over France in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“These matches, which are so even, are often decided by the finer details. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the best chance of winning,” concluded the Spanish head coach.

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–IANS

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'Bharat in Paris': Celebrating India's Olympic Movement and adoption of Esports

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) All roads on Sunday converged at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to witness the first major convening of traditional sports and Esports ahead of the Paris Olympics that is scheduled to be held from July 26 to August 11.

The maiden inaugural run, titled ‘Bharat in Paris’ is a celebration of India’s Olympic movement and a prelude to the inclusion of Esports in Olympics.

The ‘Bharat In Paris’ event marks the recognition of Esports amongst traditional sports. Inspired by the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to position India as a global sports power with aspirations of hosting the Olympics in the near future.

The run aims to integrate traditional sports with the fast growing Indian Esports segment, which even the Government of India, by the Prime Minister himself, has acknowledged recently.

The Bharat in Paris Inaugural Run was flagged off Chief Guest Giriraj Singh, Minister of Textiles in the presence of Guest of Honour Manoj Tiwari, Member of Parliament.

In his address Giriraj Singh said, “First of all, I recognise the efforts of Abhishek Issar and Ishan Verma for organising this event. Today India has made big strides in Olympics. India has achieved so much in the global sporting arena, which is unimaginable. India is winning medals in every sports making the country proud”

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He further stated, “the growing opportunity of digital India offers great possibilities in leveraging new Olympic medal sports such as ESports. This is a great occasion for India to establish its presence in the ESports industry and win medals along with traditional sports.”

Manoj Tiwari said, “Today’s 7-km run is good wishes going to the athletes going to Paris for the Olympics. It is our wish to the Indian contingent to double the medals tally. It is good to see the progress and fillip given to ESports along with traditional sports. The recognition of ESports in Olympics is a big step which will motivate enthusiasts and propel them to do better”.

UNIV Sportatech, a pioneer in the Esports policy adoption, with a vision to cultivate robust Esports ecosystem by advising the State Governments, is also hosting esports tournaments across multiple regions of the country, with the aim to create an enabling policy-led environment to empower the Government and have a trickle down effect for grassroots development of the sector.

The ‘Bharat In Paris’ event also includes an esports tournament, along with the run, where all winners are being attributed a cumulative prizepool of INR 2,64,000 (INR 1,50,000 for the podium finishers from the run and INR 1,14,000 for esports winners). The event is a representation of Indian citizens getting to participate in the Olympic sports (run, BGMI, Chess, FIFA) and show their skills.

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While there are three age-categories for the runners on the race day, the Esports tournament had three titles (BGMI – BattleGrounds Mobile India, E-Chess and EA Sports FC24) over the last 10 days culminating in Sunday’s grand celebrations. The 10-day esports tournament witnessed participation from 1500 applicants from all corners of the country. The winners have been flown in specially from Patna and Mumbai, while there are others from Kolkata and Delhi as well.

The winners were felicitated by India’s iconic ESports athletes – Tanmay “Scout” Singh, Ammar “Destro” Khan and Lokmanyu Chaturvedi at a special Meet & Greet Session giving an opportunity for ESports aspirants to take their autographs, take pictures with them, and hear from them their inspiring journey in the world of gaming/ESports.

Speaking about the initiative, Abhishek Issar, Founder, UNIV Sportatech, said, “The ‘Bharat In Paris’ Olympic awareness run is a celebration of Bharat’s rising force as part of the Olympic movement. Akin to the International Olympic movement of creating the Esports Olympics, today we are proud to have played our part in creating an inclusive approach having to accord winners of the run and esports at the same event.

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“We are proud to be taking esports ground up having to have advised the central Government for recognising esports as a sport and now empowering the state governments, like the Bihar Government, to create state esports policies. Given India’s fantastic digital infrastructure, and the central Government’s positive outlook, Esports may well be Bharat’s moment to take a podium finish at the Olympics.”

Ishan Verma, Founder, UNIV Sportatech, added, “Bharat in Paris’, an Olympic awareness run also aims to draw attention towards inclusion of esports at the Olympics. India’s esports market is growing rapidly, expected to reach USD 919 million by 2032. Interestingly, India currently holds a very small player pool, and recognising this anomaly UNIV Sportatech is committed towards building talent identification and incubation programs to support emerging talent nationwide. The Bharat In Paris Esports event is one small step in that direction. We hope a consistent build up of this approach will soon position India as a global esports leader and inspire future esports athletes.”

–IANS

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Copa America: Messi rallies Argentina ahead of finals clash against Colombia

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Miami, July 14 (IANS) Lionel Messi, a name synonymous with greatness will once again take the field in Argentina’s clash against Colombia in the Finals of the 2024 Copa America at the Hard Rock Stadium.

The World Champions have been on top of the world in the past three years. They won the Copa America in 2021, 2022 Finalissima and the 2022 FIFA World Cup cementing Messi’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time.

Messi has posted a photo on Instagram with a strong message intending to rally the nation ahead of the finals.

“Last day of the Copa America. Once again we reached the end… This incredible path would have been impossible without the work of everyone, those who are seen the most and those who are always behind the camera.

“Thank you all for the effort and passion, to all the teammates and the coaching staff, to the National Team workers and to all the Argentines who came to encourage us in the United States and to those who could not come but support us from our country and also from other places where they are living. A big hug to everyone, let’s go Argentina,” read the caption of the Instagram post.

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The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner was criticised for a majority of his career on his shortcomings with the national team but all that was in the past as the La Albiceleste squad has shown that the they stands behind their captain and are ready to take on the world.

Colombia have been unbeaten in their last 28-games and have been might impressive throughout the tournament as Lornzo’s men aim to bring their second ever Copa America trophy home.

If Argentina were to win the finals, the side will move past Uruguay as the clear record winners of the tournament with 16 to their name.

–IANS

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Wimbledon: Ticket prices for Djokovic vs Alcaraz final soar to USD 10,000

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) The ticket prices for the Wimbledon 2024 men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz have soared to record high due to the high demand.

Sunday’s title clash will be the rematch of the last year’s final between Djokovic and Alcaraz where the Spaniard prevailed in the five-set thriller to clinch his maiden grass-court major.

American sports commentator Darren Rovell claiming that it will be the “most expensive get-in finals in the history” with the price of the cheapest ticket costing USD 10,000 (roughly around Rs 8,35,193) on the online ticket reselling platforms.

“Djokovic-Alcaraz Wimbledon Final will be the most expensive get-in finals tickets in the history of sports. Right now, WORST SEAT for Sunday is more than $10,000,” Rovell wrote on X.

However, the ticket price for a Centre Court seat at Wimbledon’s official price list shows 275 pounds (around Rs 29,172.56) for the finals.

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On Sunday, Djokovic will seek revenge against Alcaraz and aim to equal Roger Federer’s record eight trophies at The All England Club. If he wins the title, the 37-year-old will become the oldest champion in tournament history and move to a record-extending 25 majors.

Djokovic is relishing the opportunity to test himself against Alcaraz again on the biggest stage.

The Serbian takes a 3-2 ATP head-to-head series into their final clash, with little to separate them. The second seed, who is chasing his first title of the season, arrived at Wimbledon having undergone knee surgery in early June.

The former No. 1 Serb has moved well throughout the event, dropping just two sets en route to his 10th Wimbledon final.

–IANS

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