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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali passes away

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Legendary former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who had been hospitalised following respiratory problems, has on Saturday passed away at the age of 74.

He was suffering from a respiratory illness, a condition that was complicated by Parkinson’s disease from last 32-years.

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One of the greatest boxers in the history, Ali retired in 1981 and soon found signs of sluggishness and neurological damage. He thereafter received treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

Ali, known as Cassius Clay before he converted to Islam, began boxing training at the age of 12 years.

He won the World heavyweight championship at the age of 22 in 1964. He again won the title again in 1974 and 1978.

Wefornews Bureau

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Cricket Australia Tells ICC It Couldn’t Identify Those Who Racially Abused Indian Cricketers: Report

Play was halted for a few minutes on the fourth day of the third Test on January 10 after Mohammed Siraj complained of racial abuse from the crowd

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Tim Paine

Cricket Australia has told the ICC that it was unable to identify spectators who racially abused Indian players during the Sydney Test and the six who were ejected from the stands were not the real culprits, a media report stated on Tuesday.

‘The Age’ reported that the CA investigators “have cleared the six men ejected from their seats during the Sydney Test of racially abusing Mohammed Siraj.”

CA has sent the findings to the ICC after a probe. The ICC had given the body 14 days to lodge a report.

“CA, which is awaiting a final report from NSW Police, is satisfied that the six men who were walked out of the lower tier of the Clive Churchill and Brewongle stand by police on the fourth afternoon of the Test did not make remarks of a racial nature to players,” the newspaper said.

“The report (of CA to the ICC) says while they believed players had been racially abused, CA investigators were unable to identify the culprits,” it said.

Play was halted for a few minutes on the fourth day of the third Test on January 10 after Siraj complained of racial abuse from the crowd.

This prompted the security personnel to enter the stands and look for the mischief-mongers before six people were asked to leave.

The BCCI had lodged a formal complaint and the CA had offered an unreserved apology.

The newspaper report said CA “interviewed multiple Indian players and took witness accounts from spectators, among them people who contacted CA to volunteer what they saw and heard during the match.”

“Sources now say the Indians had warned on the ground that they wouldn’t resume play until their complaint was acted upon,” the newspaper said.

“CA was told the men were singing to Siraj, who after complaining to umpires then pointed in their direction when police arrived.”

The newspaper also claimed one of the six men kicked out had said during the match that Siraj was upset after being hit for two sixes in an over and had gone to umpires when a crowd member said “Welcome to Sydney, Siraj”.

In its complaint, the BCCI had alleged that Siraj and his senior pace partner Jasprit Bumrah were abused racially for two consecutive days during the match in Sydney.

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For Rishabh Pant, lessons on terrace of Roorkie home come handy

It was a pleasant coincidence that the day Pant helped India win their second consecutive Test series in Australia, Sinha’s sugar levels went down.

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Rishabh Pant

New Delhi, Jan 20: On the cemented terrace of his Roorkie home in Uttarakhand, father Rajinder Pant would tie a pillow to the chest of his tiny son Rishabh and bowl with a cork ball to him from close distance to take the fear of facing fast bowlers out of his mind. That, coupled with the Maltova-mixed milk, gave strength to Rishabh’s muscles — a testimony of which was delivered in Brisbane on Tuesday as he hammered an unbeaten 89 to guide India to a match and series triumph.

That novel practice method was a roaring success as Pant, who would take two tiffin boxes to school to save time for cricket practice after school hours, became fearless and that is reflected in his shots. Anyone who watched him accelerate during his 138-ball knock in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Gabba on Tuesday would vouch that Pant had learnt his lessons well in the tiny Uttarakhand town.

Unfortunately for Pant, his father is no more to watch his talented 23-year-old son play the “most important” innings of his fledgling Test career. But Pant’s mind would surely have gone back to those early coaching classes on the terrace and when he would carry two tiffin boxes to school — from one he would eat during the school timings, and from the other he would eat after his daily extra cricket practice sessions soon after school hours.

“I used to make him practice with a cork ball on the cemented rooftop of our Roorkee home where the ball came off faster. There was no turf pitch in the city at the time. I used to tie a pillow to his chest so that my little boy didn’t get hurt while facing faster deliveries. But he did get hurt; sustained fracture. It was also meant to take the fear [of facing fast bowling] out of him. That was extra coaching, apart from the coaching he received in school,” Rajinder Pant had said in 2019.

Soon, looking at the talent their son possessed, Rajinder and his wife Saroj took the big decision of sending Rishabh to Dronacharya Awardee coach Tarak Sinha in Delhi. Commuting was a big challenge, but the mother took that responsibility. She would wake up in the middle of the night to catch the 3 am bus from Roorkee to Delhi for an arduous five-hour journey, along with Rishabh, so that he could attend the Sinha-run Sonnet Club’s net practice sessions on Saturdays and Sundays at Sri Venkateswara College in south Delhi. She and her son would often stay at a Gurudwara near the college on weekends to so that he could practice on Sundays, before a grown up Rishabh rented accommodation in Delhi.

When Pant started living in Delhi, Sinha took charge and doubled up as his local guardian following permission from his parents.

On Tuesday, after India’s win and having himself won the Man of the Match award, Pant called up Sinha on WhatsApp. Obviously, the coach was happy with his ward’s performance and congratulated him.

Pant ended up with the highest aggregate for India in the Test series with 274 runs in three matches, and the third overall, behind Aussies Marnus Labuschagne (426 runs in four matches) and Steve Smith (313 in four matches).

It was a pleasant coincidence that the day Pant helped India win their second consecutive Test series in Australia, Sinha’s sugar levels went down.

“But, on a serious note, I am happy that Rishabh played responsibly and sensibly. His off-side play has also improved, and it was visible today. He started slowly and gradually accelerated his innings, especially after Australia took the second new ball he hammered several boundaries. Also, he now has a good temperament. And, I have a feeling that the Australians fear him,” Sinha told IANS.

Significantly, Pant, who was promoted to No.5 (in the first innings he batted at No.6), remained unbeaten after three-hour vigil at the crease while facing 138 balls.

“This was in his mind for a long a time — to remain unbeaten and take the team to victory — after some people had criticised him for not finishing off matches. He wanted to be a finisher, and he showed it today that he was on his way,” disclosed Sinha. “I also pointed it out to him that he had missed a few centuries by getting out in the nineties.”

Pant has got out three times in the nineties – twice against West Indies in 2018 and in the third Test against Australia in Sydney this month. On Tuesday, however, he didn’t get the opportunity to reach his century as India won and he remained unbeaten on 89. However, the knock may have cemented his place in the Test XI – and opened a window of opportunity for inclusion in the Indian ODI and T20 teams.

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Pujara is the team’s warrior: Shastri

Shastri said that the team is not interested in any debates. “I think let the boys enjoy it. Debates can carry on. Not interested in any debates,” added Shastri.

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Cheteshwar Pujara

Brisbane, Jan 20: Coach Ravi Shastri called Cheteshwar Pujara a warrior after the India No. 3 took multiple blows on his body, head and arm during his 211-ball 56 that helped lay a solid platform for the Indian team’s three-wicket win in the fourth and final Test at The Gabba on Tuesday.

“Pujara is the team’s warrior. On seeing his performance in Sydney and Brisbane, I told him, ‘Pujju you have finished them’,” Shastri told reporters.

The right-handed batsman’s slow run rate had been a topic of debate yet again over the course of the series. However, the gritty half-centuries on the final day of the third and the fourth Tests seem to have shown his importance in the Indian Test setup.

Shastri said that the team is not interested in any debates. “I think let the boys enjoy it. Debates can carry on. Not interested in any debates,” added Shastri.

Captain Ajinkya Rahane too lavished praise on the 32-year-old batsman. “The way Pujara played today regardless of getting many injuries due to bouncers on the head. He didn’t bother. His goal was to save the wicket,” added Rahane.

Pujara himself tweeted and thanked his fans and supporters on what began as a tough tour him as he struggled to get runs.

“Overcome with emotion and filled with pride. The character and skill shown by the entire squad has been commendable. Moments like these make the countless hours of toil and practice truly worth it. Thank you for all the support and wishes” Pujara tweeted.

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