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Women’s Day: How Women’s Premier League is helping women’s cricket in India come of age

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Women’s Day: How Women’s Premier League is helping women’s cricket in India come of age

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) For a multitude of reasons, 2023 can be considered a pivotal year for women’s cricket in India. Under the captaincy of Shafali Verma, India secured a remarkable achievement by winning the inaugural Women’s U19 World Cup in South Africa.

Later in the year, the senior women’s team won a historic gold medal in T20 debut of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. It then played Tests at home after a gap of 11 years with back-to-back wins over England and Australia. Not to forget, the BCCI announced match-fee parity for the men’s and women’s international players.

But if there’s one moment which takes the top spot, it is the debut of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) at Navi Mumbai on March 4. The fulfilment of a long-standing cherished desire shared by many cricketers and followers of women’s cricket had finally become a reality, garnering widespread attention and eyeballs from all quarters.

The matches in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai during WPL 2023 were filled with a capacity crowd, underscoring the overwhelming support for women’s cricket in India. This year’s WPL has seen the BCCI take the tournament into two new venues – Bengaluru and New Delhi, with 11 games hosted by each venue.

Unlike the previous year, where female spectators were granted free entry, tickets are now mandatory to watch any match at the venues. The first half saw matches in Bengaluru getting great footfall for all the games it hosted, reinforcing the fact that there’s a strong audience for WPL.

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The M Chinnaswamy Stadium was packed to the brim when the games featured the Royal Challengers Bangalore, with the home crowd supporting Smriti Mandhana & Co the way they would do for the men’s team in the IPL.

“It’s like a dream come true, to see where the game is today. This is where the game should be and it should have always be here. To see the game taking its rightful place, it’s a really nice feeling.

“So many of my friends from Chennai and Hyderabad came to watch matches in Bengaluru and after I finished my work, I went to the WPL games to catch up with them and has been a great feeling to meet former cricketers while watching the games in the stadium,” recalled Mamatha Maben, the former India captain, to IANS.

Though Delhi has been a little slow in catching the vibe and frenzy associated with the WPL, there’s a school of thought that it will come into its own during the weekends. Besides the bustling crowd, the WPL has played a crucial role in giving domestic players the opportunity to mingle with top cricketers in the world.

“WPL has changed not just my life, but it has changed so many lives of domestic players. It is going to change many more lives and it put a thought in every body’s head that you can also dream and can play alongside an Ellyse Perry, Sophie Devine or Smriti Mandhana.

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“A year ago, I never thought that I can share a dressing room with those three. Everybody can dream now and can achieve their dreams,” said Asha Sobhana, the RCB leg-spinner who became the first Indian bowler to pick a five-wicket haul in the WPL, in a virtual interaction.

Shweta Sehrawat, a top scorer in U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, became a more effective communicator by overcoming shyness through WPL.

“I wasn’t opening up about talks around the game and I learnt from WPL 2023 that how to initiate that communication, put forward your thoughts and express yourself in such a way that you get the solution you are looking for. I got a lot of help in terms of communication and in cricketing terms, I learnt a lot of new things from the players as well as Jon (Lewis, head coach) sir and Ashley (Noffke, bowling coach),” she recalled in a conversation with IANS ahead of WPL 2024.

What has also been fascinating is the franchises’ decision to organize off-season camps following the conclusion of WPL 2023. UP Warriorz held one from July 31 to August 10, 2023, to enhance the skills of its Indian players in Bengaluru.

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Delhi Capitals also had an off-season camp for the Indian players in the women’s team in August 2023, while RCB also invested in the off-season camps for its women cricketers, focusing specially on fitness and conditioning.

“Over the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time in camps. For at least three-four days a month, we would congregate for a camp and over the summer, we had a continuous 50-day camp which was specifically for fitness. It helped me get the best out of my bowling in terms of my run-up, alignment, and efficacy with the ball. It’s not easy to organise 50-60 days of camp, and I am grateful to the franchise for the benefits it gave me,” stated Asha.

With Delhi Capitals and UP Warriorz set to face-off at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on International Women’s Day on Friday, one can be pleased with the tournament’s impact in various facets, both on and off the field, while showcasing the depth of women’s cricket in India.

As time goes by, WPL will be cherished for its significant contribution to the coming of age of women’s cricket in India, propelling the sport to new heights and speeding up its growth in the country.

–IANS

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Women's Asia Cup: Shafali Verma's 81 steers India to 178 against Nepal

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Women's Asia Cup: Shafali Verma's 81 steers India to 178 against Nepal

Women's Asia Cup: Shafali Verma's 81 steers India to 178 against Nepal

Dambulla, July 23 (IANS) Opener Shafali Verma’s scintillating half-century (81 off 47 balls) coupled with Dayalan Hemalatha’s 47 powered India to 178/3 against Nepal in the Group A match of the Women’s Asia Cup at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium here on Tuesday.

Stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana opted to bat first after winning the toss as India rested regular captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Pooja Vastrakar for the match.

Shafali and Hemalatha showed no mercy from the beginning of the match. The 20-year-old made her intentions clear in the first over by hitting two fours against Kabita Kumwar’s first over. She continued the onslaught from the one end while Hemalatha held the other end strong.

Shafali made sure that boundaries came at regular intervals and showed no mercy to any Nepalese bowler in the middle. Her ferocious batting took India to 50/0 at the end of the Power-play. Shafali flexed her arms and hit Rubina Chhetry for a six on a full toss in the seventh over as she switched gears. In no time, she brought up her 10th T20I half-century off 26 balls in the eighth over.

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The youngster didn’t look back and intensified her attack as Nepal looked clueless to break the partnership. However, they had a chance to send Hemalatha back to the pavilion in the 12th over but captain Indu Barma dropped the catch at long-off.

In the 14th over, Sita Rana Magar finally got hold of Hemalatha (47) as Rubina Chhetry made no mistake at long-on to give India the first blow of the match. Shafali also got a respite in the next over before finally getting out on 81. She struck 12 fours and a six during her 48-ball knock.

Sajeevan Sajana and Jemimah Rodrigues came together for a brief 23-run partnership and steered the side to the 150-run mark. Sajana (10) failed to extend her stay in the middle as she was trapped lbw by Kabita Joshi in the 19th over. In the end, Rodrigues showed her attacking prowess and hammered quickfire 28* off 15 balls studded with five fours while Richa Gosh remained unbeaten on six off three balls as India posted 178/3 in 20 overs.

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For Nepal, Sita Rana Magar bagged two wickets and returned with the figures of 2-25 in her four overs.

Brief scores:

India 178/3 in 20 overs (Shafali Verma 81, Dayalan Hemalatha 47; Sita Rana Magar 2-25) against Nepal.

–IANS

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Union Budget: Increased allocation for Khelo India draws positive response

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Union Budget: Increased allocation for Khelo India draws positive response

Union Budget: Increased allocation for Khelo India draws positive response

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Sports industry watchers on Saturday welcomed the government’s decision to allocate increased funds for Khelo India, the Centre’s flagship project that will get Rs 900 crore in the 2024-25 financial year.

The Rs 900 crore that Khelo India received is the highest allocation from the Sports Ministry’s total budget of Rs 3,442.32 crore in the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday.

The budgetary allocation for sports for this financial year is very slight as the Olympic cycle concludes in August while the next Commonwealth Games and Asian Games are two years away.

The Khelo India budget for the previous financial was hiked to Rs 880 crore from Rs 596.39 crore in the 2023-24 budget. This year, the government added a further 20 crore to it.

The government has also increased support for the National Sports Federation (NSF) by Rs 15 crore, raising it to Rs 340 crore. The Sports Authority of India has received a hike of Rs 26.83 crore, from Rs 795.77 to Rs 822.60.

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The increase in budget has received a positive response from people associated with the sports industry.

“There is an increased budget for the sports sector through the Khelo India scheme and this should give an impetus to both high performance and grassroots build-up. An additional budget for sports infrastructure is also a big bonus. Right motivation during the Olympic buzz,” said Prasanth Shanthakumaran, Partner and Head, Sports Sector, KPMG in India.

“The 2024 Union Budget marks a significant milestone for Indian sports, with an unprecedented allocation of Rs 3,442 crore (announced in the interim budget in February). This funding underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing sports infrastructure and nurturing grassroots talent.

“As the Paris Olympics approaches, this enhanced support will boost our athletes’ preparations and morale,” Siddhartha Upadhyay, President and Founder of STAIRS Foundation, wrote in a note.

–IANS

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Tennis: Andy Murray confirms he will retire after Paris Olympics

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Tennis: Andy Murray confirms he will retire after Paris Olympics

Tennis: Andy Murray confirms he will retire after Paris Olympics

Paris (France), July 23 (IANS) Scotland’s former World No.1 Andy Murray on Tuesday announced that the upcoming Paris Olympics will be his final tournament as a tennis player. Murray announced that he will bring his illustrious playing career to a close after the Paris Olympics, the 37-year-old confirmed on Tuesday via social media.

Murray, a 46-time tour-level titlist, will represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games for the fifth time in Paris, where the tennis event runs from 27 July to 4 August. A two-time Olympic men’s singles gold medallist, Murray will then call time on his 20-year pro career.

“Arrived in Paris for my last-ever tennis tournament @Olympics. Competing for Great Britain has been by far the most memorable weeks of my career and I’m extremely proud to get to do it one final time!” wrote Murray in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Murray is set to compete in singles and doubles (alongside Daniel Evans) in Paris. He won his first Olympic gold by defeating Roger Federer in the final at London 2012, before defending his crown by edging Juan Martin del Potro in an epic final at Rio de Janeiro 2016.

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–IANS

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Jr Women, Men West Zone Hockey: Chhattisgarh defeat Madhya Pradesh 9-0

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Jr Women, Men West Zone Hockey: Chhattisgarh defeat Madhya Pradesh 9-0

Jr Women, Men West Zone Hockey: Chhattisgarh defeat Madhya Pradesh 9-0

Rajnandgaon (Chhattisgarh), July 23 (IANS) Chhattisgarh defeated Hockey Madhya Pradesh 9-0 in the women’s match on the third day of the 2nd Hockey India Junior Women and Men West Zone Championship 2024 here on Tuesday.

In the only match of the day, Sneha Patel (14’) gave Hockey Madhya Pradesh the lead towards the end of the first quarter before captain Palak Gupta (17’, 32’, 47’) and Chanu Khaidem Shileima (18’, 52’, 53’) both scored hattricks as Hockey Madhya Pradesh were well ahead in the contest.

Kajal (54’) and Krishna Sharma (59’) also chipped in with a goal each for Hockey Madhya Pradesh.

–IANS

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Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

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Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

Sub-jr Men, Women West Zone Hockey: M.P, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh win on Day 1

Surat, July 23 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh scored comprehensive victories in their respective matches in the women’s category, while Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra won in the men’s category on the opening day of the 2nd Hockey India Sub-junior Men & Women West Zone Championship 2024 here on Tuesday.

Hockey Madhya Pradesh began the Zonal Championship with a 13-0 victory against Goans Hockey in the Women’s category at Veer Narmad South Gujarat University Hockey Ground. The goal-scorers for Madhya Pradesh were Sajeda Begum (3’, 25’, 37’), Bhabar Keshar (5’), Captain Tanvi (19’, 21’, 23’, 34’, 52’), Hirva Purohit (22’), Ekta Jakhodiya (23’), Aqsa Khan (47’), and Geethasri Nammi (53’).

In the second match, Maharashtra registered a 4-2 win against Rajasthan in the women’s category. Rawat Anvi (10’, 53’) opened the account for Maharashtra but a quick brace from Lamoria Salini (19’, 25’) turned the table in Rajasthan’s favour.

Hockey Maharashtra fought back through goals from captain Yashasvi Prakash Kubde (25’, 44’) and Rawat Anvi to secure a comeback victory.

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Chhattisgarh Hockey defeated Hockey Gujarat 14-1 in the women’s category in the third match of the day. Naina (5’, 10’, 38’), Shyamlee Ray (8’, 40’), Dubee Rawat (24’, 46’, 53’, 56’), Sidar Madhu (26’, 44’, 50’), and Maurya Priyanshi (48’, 60’) got on the scoresheet for Chhattisgarh Hockey while Captain Ghadge Komal (9’) scored the lone goal for Hockey Gujarat.

The men’s category commenced with Chhattisgarh beating Goans Hockey 11-1. Sahu Piyush Kumar (24’, 37’, 39’, 45’, 46’, 49’, 55’) led the goalscoring efforts for Chhattisgarh. He was joined on the scoresheet by Avi Manikpuri (27’, 36’), Kujur Pritam (27’), and Om Kumar Yadav (42’). Gaonkar Ansh Ankush (59’) managed to score a consolation goal for Goans Hockey towards the end of the match.

The last match of the day saw Maharashtra defeat Rajasthan 3-1 in the men’s category. Vijkape Dnyaneshkumar (7’, 38’) and Thakur Siddharth Sachin (60’) scored for Maharashtra while the only goal for Rajasthan was scored by captain Amit Singh (13’).

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–IANS

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