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Arjuna Award is recognition of my hard work: Paddler Manika Batra

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Manika Batra during a programme

Elated after being among those selected for this year’s prestigious Arjuna Award, star paddler Manika Batra on Thursday said it was a recognition to her hard work over the years.

The 23-year-old Manika recently scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman paddler to win an Asian Games medal when she paired up with veteran Achanta Sharath Kamal to bag the bronze in the mixed doubles competition.

“It’s a real pleasure to be selected for this year’s Arjuna Award. I am excited to receive the award,” Manika told IANS after being signed as the latest face of Herbalife Nutrition.

“This is a recognition of my hard work, and the medals which I won in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. This is the time to be happy and excited,” she added.

Manika has also proved that her Commonwealth Games (CWG) success, where she emerged as the country’s top performer with four medals — a gold each in women’s singles and women’s team event, silver in women’s doubles, and a bronze in mixed doubles — was not a fluke and clearly she is the next big thing in table tennis.

Despite grabbing eyeballs with her brilliant performances this season, Manika has an unfulfilled dream which she is striving hard to achieve.

“From here on, the main target is to improve on my world ranking and find myself in the top-30 or top-20. With a better world ranking, I will have better chances at the Tokyo Olympics.

“The dream is to be among the top-10 in the world. I have the National Ranking zonals and then the Pro Tours where the focus will be mainly on improving my world ranking,” said Manika, who is currently ranked World No.56.

When prodded on the level of competition in the CWG and the Asiad, and how eventually she managed to break the shackles at Jakarta, Manika explained: “The level of competition in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games is totally different.”

“In the CWG, the battle is mainly against the Singapore paddlers whereas in Asiad, all the table tennis powerhouses compete, which makes it really tough,” she added.

Rating her Asian Games medal as the “greatest achievement” till date, Manika was however candid enough to admit that she wasn’t at her fittest self during the Asian Games.

“Even during the Asian Games, I felt I lack on the fitness standards of the Chinese and other Asian paddlers. I have to work more on my reflexes and movements.

“I am currently focussing on my agility and fitness with my fitness coach Subodh More with an eye to match to the standards of the Chinese,” she added.

On being quizzed if her height is the secret of her being touted as the next big thing in the table tennis world, the 5′ 11” paddler said it works both ways for her.

“My height works both ways…it is advantageous as the taller players have a better reach and require less movement but at the same time there is a negative which is we are more prone to back and knee injuries. I suffered from back pain recently but have worked on that and now I’m back to full fitness,” she recounted.

(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at [email protected])

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Dean Jones, former Australia cricketer and renowned commentator, passes away at 59

Former Australia cricketer and renowned commentator Dean Jones passed away on Thursday following a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai.

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Dean Jones

Former Australia cricketer and renowned commentator Dean Jones passed away on Thursday following a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai. He was 59. A batsman during his playing days, Jones played 52 Tests and 164 ODIs for Australia between 1984 and 1994 before venturing into commentary.

Jones was part of the Australian team that won the 1987 World Cup, playing a starring role in the campaign. Jones was Australia’s third highest run-getter in the tournament, scoring 314 runs in 8 matches. He was currently in India as part of the team of experts working on the Indian Premier League with host broadcaster Star Sports.

“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Mr. Dean Mervyn Jones AM. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time. We are in touch with the Australian High Commission to make the necessary arrangements,” Star India said in a release.

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It was all about being ruthless: MI skipper Rohit Sharma

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Rohit Sharma

Abu Dhabi, Sep 24 : Rohit Sharma, on Wednesday, returned to his usual, elegant self with a masterful innings to lead Mumbai Indians to a 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Rohit scored 80 off 54 as MI scored 195/5. In reply, KKR managed to score 146/9.

Interestingly, this marked MI’s first ever victory in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), having lost all of their matches in 2014 when a part of the group stage was played in the UAE.

“It was only two players from the 2014 squad. It was all about how we executed our plans today, we never let it go. We were in good position throughout the game but it was all about being ruthless, getting as many (runs) as possible. We knew the wicket was good and dew was coming down,” said Rohit in the post-match presentation ceremony in which he was declared Player of the Match.

As the KKR bowlers fumbled with their line and length and gave Rohit short deliveries, the MI captain replied with his trade mark pull shots to deposit the ball over the boundary.

“I back myself to play (the pull shots), love playing it and practiced it quite a bit. Pretty glad it came out well, they were all good (laughs), can’t pick one. I haven’t played a lot of cricket in the last six months time and was looking to spend some time in the middle; it didn’t come out well in the first innings but glad to have done it tonight,” he said.

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IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 49 runs

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Rohit Sharma

Mumbai Indians (MI) cruised to a 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 on Wednesday (September 23).

Earlier in the day, KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik won the toss and invited Rohit Sharma’s MI to bat first at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

The Mumbai side got off to a poor start after they lost Quinton de Kock (1) in the second over of the game.

However, things changed massively after that with Rohit Sharma and Suriyakumar Yadav forming a formidable partnership.

The duo knitted together a 90-run stand before Yadav was dismissed for 47. Saurabh Tiwary (21) and Saurabh Tiwary (18) constructed short innings with the Mumbai skipper who completed his half-century.

It was thanks to Rohit’s captain’s knock of 80 rubs which propelled MI to 195/6. Pat Cummins had a horror show with the ball for KKR on his debut as he ended up giving away 49 runs from his three overs.

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