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The Gautam Gambhir way: Back players staunchly, high on instinct & recognise match-winners quickly

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New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The cricketing world is abuzz with anticipation about what Gautam Gambhir will bring as the new head coach of the India senior men’s team, following his appointment on July 9.

At 42, Gambhir becomes the youngest head coach of the Indian team, taking over from Rahul Dravid, who ended his stint with T20 World Cup win last month. His three-year tenure in the top job starts on July 27 with the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka.

Gambhir, a gutsy former left-handed opener, mentored Lucknow Super Giants to IPL playoffs in 2022 and 2023. He then became the mentor for the Kolkata Knight Riders, a team he had previously captained to two IPL titles, and under his guidance, they went on to win IPL 2024.

“I think it’s a very good appointment. If you look at Gautam’s entire career, he has always been very proud of his country. When he used to play, he used to serve the country with a lot of dedication. He is getting that chance again, but this time as a head coach. So, I am sure he will give his 100% to this country and Indian team.

“Rahul Dravid sir has done a great job for this team, and there is no doubt about it. I feel this marks start of a golden moment for the Indian team, as Gautam is joining at the right time. I have the full confidence that Gautam will take this Indian team to further greater heights,” says Manvinder Bisla, a member of KKR’s 2012 IPL winning team under Gambhir’s leadership, to IANS.

In 2012, Gambhir expressed confidence in Bisla’s ability to excel in the title clash against Chennai Super Kings, favoring him over the highly regarded Brendon McCullum. The result was Bisla scoring an impressive 89 runs in 48 balls, leading KKR to their first IPL title.

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Bisla remembers how supporting players strongly, something he experienced, can be beneficial for Gambhir in his new position as the head coach of India.

“The best captains or coaches, they are always result-oriented and are always looking around to find ways of achieving best results. It is not necessary that only a big name will win matches for you. Most of the times, it becomes very important to select the right players, give them confidence and back them.

“The way Gautam used to back the players as a captain, he never made you feel at all that there is a difference between you and a big player in the side. So, when he gives you a chance, he is having that complete confidence in you and your skills, as well as to not underestimate yourself. He’s having that absolute faith in you to do well and make the team win the match.

“When I played alongside him and then saw him working as a mentor at the KKR camp in the IPL, where they won the title, he has always treated everyone equally. It’s not like there is a big name player in the team, so he is treating him differently. Even if a squad member is not getting a chance to play, he is not treating him differently.

“You can easily go and talk to him; he listens to you. So, these are the qualities which will come to the fore when coaching the Indian team, and he will get very good results. Plus, if you look at Indian cricket, and the good space they are in, to continue in the way the team is playing, that continuity is very important, and I think Gautam is a perfect choice for that,” he said.

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Bisla highlights Ramandeep Singh as an example of a pace bowling all-rounder who thrived as a finisher for KKR in their IPL 2024 triumph with Gambhir’s backing.

“Ramandeep Singh was in the IPL for many years, but the way he played this time in the IPL, it brought his capabilities to the fore in a fantastic manner. So, it was very important to back him, especially as he’s an uncapped player.

“The way Ramandeep performed in IPL 2024, that really stood out because the number he used to bat, that is a very difficult job to thrive. It also shows that Gautam has the quality to get the best out of all the players in the team,” said Bisla.

Bisla believes that Gambhir doesn’t heavily rely on data for strategic preparation and instead trusts his intuition. “From what I have seen of Gautam, don’t think he will be that big on data. Everyone wants to use their resources in the best way possible. But he is more into a gut feeling type of person, in terms of the players who can win matches and are ready for the battle on-field.

“When you play for the country, every match is like a battle, and its very important to be 100% ready for every ball. He likes gutsy players, and the ones who can win matches, he backs them up. Plus, that gut feeling is also Gautam’s speciality.”

he further explained how Gambhir’s approach is to overlook personal accolades and rely on his astute ability to identify match-winning players with ease.

“Cricket is a team game and there is no point in winning the orange cap, or purple cap if one is not eventually winning the tournament, as the goal of the team does not get settled then. If your team does well to lift the trophy, there will be at least 2-3 players who will be in the best form of their life.

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“The team’s goal is to win the championship, and that can only happen when all the players of the team are on the same page, and everyone’s goal is the same. When that happens, it is not necessary to see who is the man of the series, as the important thing becomes whether you win the tournament or not.

“Gautam also understands x-factor in players and the talent in them very quickly. In a way, Gautam is bringing an x-factor with him too – recognising very quickly that this player can win matches for me and has the right attitude to do that.

“It is not just limited to someone having an average of 60 with the bat, or his strike rate is very good or he bowls really well. He also sees two more important things – whether a player is ready to fight for the team on ground, and if he stands with his team in difficult times,” he said.

Gambhir’s immediate focus is to build up the T20I team since Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja retired, and also get ready for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series later this year in Australia.

After the completion of the Champions Trophy and World Test Championship in 2025, he will be faced with the task of navigating major transition periods in both ODIs and Tests.

The outcome of all this will heavily rely on the abilities Bisla highlighted of Gambhir the coach: providing unwavering support to players, relying on intuition, and quickly identifying match-winners.

–IANS

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Colombia must be at best to beat Argentina: Lorenzo

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New Jersey, July 14 (IANS) Colombia will need to be at their best to have any chance of beating Argentina in the Copa America final, Cafeteros manager Nestor Lorenzo said.

Argentina, the reigning Copa America and World Cup champions, occupy top spot in FIFA’s latest world rankings and, according to Lorenzo, are favorites going into Sunday’s duel at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Meanwhile, Colombia – who are seeking their second Copa America title and first since 2001 – are 12th in the rankings, despite a 28-game unbeaten run dating back to early 2022.

“We need to be the best version of Colombia to defeat the champions of everything,” Lorenzo said, who also alluded to Argentina’s victory over Italy in the 2022 CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions.

“If we had not performed well we would not be here. But to beat Argentina you have to have the best version of each player and multiply it.”

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Colombia reached the final by defeating Uruguay 1-0 in their last match, despite playing for more than 45 minutes with only 10 men. Argentina advanced by overcoming Canada 2-0 in the other semifinal.

While conceding that Argentina were formidable rivals, Lorenzo was quietly confident that his team could cause an upset.

“The reason is because we are not satisfied,” he said. “The group is hungry. I said that we have to play at our best level to beat Argentina, but we are confident that we can do it.”

Lorenzo also paid tribute to Colombian fans and expressed hope that his team would bring them joy on Sunday afternoon.

“There is no more joyful and fanatical fan,” Lorenzo said. “We would like to be able to reach finals of big tournaments regularly and not make our fans wait for so long.”

“But staying at the top is not easy. This group has a bright a future. I hope this [run of success] continues and that in the future it won’t be such a surprise to see Colombia in a final,” he added.

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–IANS

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India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends title

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Edgbaston, July 14 (IANS) India Champions crowned the World Championship of Legends winners after beating Pakistan five wickets in a pulsating finale.

The Yuvraj Singh-led side showcased their dominance in the competition and secured the coveted title in a match that went down to the wire as two teams fought hard.

Pakistan Champions, opting to bat first after winning the toss, posted a competitive total of 156/6 in 20 overs.

Kamran Akmal (24 off 19) and Maqsood (21 off 12) gave the team a solid start, but regular wickets kept the scoring in check.

The standout performer was Shoaib Malik, who scored a crucial 41 off 36 balls, anchoring the innings. Captain Younis Khan failed to make a mark as he was clean bowled by Irfan Pathan for 7. The middle-order collapsed and Misbah-ul-Haq was retired hurt after a brisk 18, late contributions from Sohail Tanvir (19* off 9) ensured Pakistan posted a respectable score.

Indian bowlers, led by Anureet Singh who claimed three wickets with support from Vinay Kumar, Pawan Negi and Irfan Pathan (one wicket each) were instrumental in containing Pakistan’s batting lineup.

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In response, India Champions started their run chase with intent. Despite losing Robin Uthappa (10) early, Ambati Rayudu’s explosive 50 off 30 balls set the foundation for the chase for the Men in Blue.

Suresh Raina too departed cheaply for 4 in the same over, helping Pakistan make a comeback. But a strong partnership between Rayudu and Gurkeerat Singh Maan (34 off 33) kept India on track.

Rayudu and Mann also departed in a space of 10 runs but the momentum stayed firmly in India’s favour with Yusuf Pathan’s blistering 30 off 16 balls before the latter was dismissed in the penultimate over.

With captain Yuvraj Singh (15*) and Irfan Pathan (5*) at the crease, India sealed the win, finishing at 159 for 5 in 19.1 overs.

Pakistan’s bowlers, despite their best efforts, couldn’t halt India’s march towards the target. Aamer Yamin was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-0-29-2, supported by Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan, who took one wicket each.

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Brief Scores: India Champions: 159/5 in 19.1 overs (Ambati Rayudu 50, Gurkeerat Singh Mann 34, Yusuf Pathan 30; Aamer Yamin 2/29) beat Pakistan Champions: 156/6 in 20 overs (Shoaib Malik 41, Kamran Akmal 24; Anureet Singh 2/43) by 5 wickets.

–IANS

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Sonam Kapoor exudes grace at the Wimbledon Women's Final in London

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Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, recently seen in the streaming movie ‘Blind’, attended the Wimbledon Women’s Final in London.

Making a fashion statement, the actress exuded elegance and style. She donned an outfit designed by Bottega Veneta. For the occasion, she chose a sophisticated striking long yellow, blue, and black dress layered with the Optical Crinkle Cotton Check ensemble from the Pre-Fall 24 collection.

The outfit featured a long-sleeved white, blue, and black shirt and a matching long skirt. She accessorised her look with a pair of sleek Tex Mule shoes in black, also from the Pre-Fall 24 collection.

Adding a touch of exclusivity, Sonam carried the Liberta bag in black from the Winter 24 special preview, making a chic and timeless fashion statement at the prestigious event.

Sonam, who is known as a fashion icon in the Hindi film industry, has long been celebrated for her impeccable fashion sense. Her consistently brilliant sartorial choices have made her a favourite among top fashion brands worldwide.

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As she gears up for her comeback after her pregnancy, Sonam has two major projects lined up, including ‘Battle for Bittora’, with details of the second tentpole project being kept under wraps.

The actress and her husband Anand Ahuja welcomed their son, Vayu Kapoor Ahuja, in August 2022.

–IANS

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Tour de France: Jasper Philipsen edges Wout Van Aert in chaotic Stage 13 Sprint as big crash mars finale

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Paris, July 13 (IANS) A wild day at the Tour de France, the most prominent cycling race in the world, ended on Saturday with Jasper Philipsen taking his second win. Visma-Lease a Bike were tested after Adam Yates, the teammate of race leader Tadej Pogacar, managed to get in the break, prompting a fierce chase in crosswinds. After the race came back together, Biniam Girmay set his team to work in pursuit of a fourth win, but ultimately it was Philipsen who won the day.

A crash-strewn finish after crosswind chaos in south-west France resulted in a second sprint win for Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) over his Belgian rival Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) in Pau. Philipsen came from deep to show his class and hold off Van Aert and the German Pascal Ackermann (Israel-Premier Tech) after a crash on the home straight dashed the hopes of Belgian champion Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny) and a handful of other outsiders.

The in-form green jersey Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) could only finish a distant fourth after his hopes of a famous fourth win did not materialise after a stage that felt more like a hilly spring classic than a sprint stage of the Tour de France. The sight of the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) taking ninth place in the bunch gallop only emphasised the bonkers nature of the 165.3km ride from Agen, which was animated from the get-go as blustery winds twice tore through the peloton and caused dangerous splits and some serious soul-searching.

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Pogacar retained his 1 minute 06 seconds lead over Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) ahead of a decisive weekend in the Pyrenees, with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) lurking in third place a further eight seconds back.

All three riders found themselves in a split off the front of the peloton in the opening hour after winds on exposed roads saw six Visma riders and half a dozen others go clear in pursuit of a select breakaway that included the world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin–Deceuninck) and Pogacar’s UAE team-mate, Adam Yates.

After this select group returned to the peloton, a second wave of echelons occurred around 60km from the finish with the peloton splitting in three. The first two groups came back together after swallowing up the breakaway – but the final group on the road, which included sprinters Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) and Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), would never see the front of the race again.

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The attacks rained down on the lumpy approach to Pau but the main field eventually came back together in time for the finale, which was marred by a crash that saw a handful of riders hit the deck after Belgium’s Maxim van Gils – bringing up his Lotto Dstny team-mate De Lie – violently clipped the shoulders of a retreating Amaury Capiot of Arkea B&B Hotels.

The incident occurred on the opposite side of the road as the battleground occupied by Philipsen, Van Aert and Ackermann, who put on a show to finish in that order after a fast and unforgiving three-and-a-half hours in the saddle.

The mountains that loomed on the metaphorical horizon served as no deterrent to a group of 22 riders that went clear shortly after the start of a day with no shortage of contenders for the combativity prize.

Joining Van der Poel was one of his rainbow predecessors in Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), the Slovenian Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), De Lie and his Lotto Dstny team-mate Brent Van Moer, and the polka dot jersey of Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility).

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The breakaway had not been clear for long before the first gusts of wind began to wreak havoc. An acceleration from Vingegaard’s Visma team was expertly covered by Pogacar and Evenepoel as a dozen zipped clear for a brief foray ahead of the pack. If they were soon pegged back, it was a precursor to what was still in store.

With Yates threatening the general classification places of riders from Visma-Lease a Bike, Soudal Quick-Step, and Ineos Grenadiers, an alliance soon formed on the front to keep the gap no bigger than a minute.

The upshot of the fast pace and early drama also involved the UAE team of the race leader, with Spain’s Juan Ayuso – struggling with illness for a few days – forced to become the 17th rider to abandon after losing touch with the peloton. The climbing lieutenant’s presence in the mountains could well prove to be a huge loss for Pogacar in his bid to win a third Tour and complete a famous Giro-Tour double.

–IANS

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Copa America 2024: Argentina legend Messi hails 'dynamic' Colombia ahead of final

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Buenos Aires (Argentina), July 13 (IANS) Argentina captain Lionel Messi noted that Colombia will pose a formidable test when the two teams meet in the Copa America final at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in the USA on Sunday. Colombia is unbeaten in the past 28 matches and earned a place in the final by defeating Uruguay 1-0 in the semifinal, despite playing for more than half the match with only 10 men.

“We were able to watch the Uruguay-Colombia match,” Messi said. “We knew that either one of the teams [Uruguay or Colombia] was going to be very difficult.”

“There’s a reason Colombia hasn’t lost for so long. It’s a team that has very good players. They are very intense, with fast and dynamic players in attack,” the Argentina star was quoted as saying.

Argentina are vying to become the first team in history to successfully defend their Copa America crown while holding the World Cup title, reports Xinhua.

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Sunday’s duel at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium also added meaning for the Albiceleste given it will be the last international appearance of winger Angel Di Maria.

“Finals are something else, but we’re feeling good and calm, as we have been throughout the whole tournament,” Messi said. “We’re enjoying everything that is happening and focusing on the final.”

–IANS

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