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CWG organisers apologise for ‘shameful’ closing ceremony

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Boxing legend MC Mary Kom led the Indian contingent at the Closing Ceremony. However, the athletes' march past was not shown live on TV. (PC- PTI)

Canberra, April 16: The organizers of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have apologised for Sunday’s closing ceremony on Sunday night which has been roundly criticised for not including athletes.

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Athletes, including the competing countries’ respective flag-bearers, marched on to the arena before the ceremony commenced, meaning the audience at Carrara stadium could see them, but the TV audience couldn’t. Many athletes were seen leaving the stadium while the closing speeches were still in progress, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ceremony was even criticised by Australian broadcasters, Channel Seven, with former CWG bronze Medallist Johanna Griggs saying during the live coverage she was “furious” with the decision.

“They’re actually wrecking a tradition that is so important and part of the Commonwealth Games,” Griggs said, live on air. “Unfortunately tonight, the organizing committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

Commonwealth Games Chairman Peter Beattie acknowledged on Monday that organisers made a mistake featuring athletes in the pre-show instead of the television coverage.

“If the athletes didn’t come into the stadium until the broadcast time they would have been stuck in a field or a paddock somewhere,” Beattie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

Beattie, who had previously described the CWG as “inspirational” and “innovative,” said he was disappointed the viewers at home did not get to see the athletes.

“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the closing ceremony. However, having them come in to the stadium in the pre-show meant the TV audience were not able to see the athletes enter the stadium. We got that wrong,” the Commonwealth Games chairman said.

“The people who are angry are justified. The people who have been critical are also justified,” Beattie said.

“Unfortunately tonight, the organising committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

In a social media post on Monday morning, Beattie said the closing ceremony telecast should have been organised more appropriately.

“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he wrote.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who actually spoke at the closing ceremony, also criticised the organisers on Monday.

“At the end of the day, we appoint an agency to run the day to day operations of the Games,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

“Whoever made that decision not to allow those athletes to march in should hang their heads in shame.”

Athletes themselves have said they were disappointed to not be included in the closing ceremony.

Angus Brandt, a member of the Australian basketball team which won a gold medal, said the entire Australian basketball team was disappointed to be left out.

“It was a little disappointing with the athletes being brought in before the actual ceremony began,” Brandt said on Australian Television on Monday.

“We were looking forward to being part of the Closing Ceremony and being recognized for what we had done in the games.”

The host broadcaster of the CWG, NEP Group, also released a social media post saying it was “disappointed.”

IANS

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Asia Cup: Rohit, Jadeja star in India’s 7-wkt win over Bangladesh

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India Vs Bangladesh

Dubai, Sep 21 : India dished out another comprehensive performance to thrash Bangladesh by seven wickets in a Super Four stage match of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Friday.

Skipper Rohit Sharma led India from the front with a fluent unbeaten half-century to overhaul the paltry target of 174 with more than 13 overs to spare, after the men-in-blue rode on left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s magical spell of 4/29 on winning the toss and opting to chase.

The defending champions were off to a brilliant start once again with Rohit (83 not out off 104 balls; 5X4, 6X3) and Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 47; 4X4, 6X1) putting on 61 runs before the southpaw was trapped leg-before by left-armer Shakib Al Hasan in the 15th over.

Thereafter, Rohit and new man Ambati Rayudu (13) added 45 runs for the second wicket before the No.3 batsman was caught behind off pacer Rubel Hossain.

With India cruising to an easy victory, former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33 off 37; 4X3) was promoted up the order and the talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman played the perfect second fiddle to the skipper, who clobbered Shakib for three sixes, one among those to get to his 36th ODI fifty.

Dhoni soon joined the party, belting two consecutive boundaries off skipper Mashrafe Mortaza to raise India’s 150 and also the 50-run stand for the third wicket.

Mortaza, however, avenged the thrashing with the wicket of the stumper, who in an attempt to finish off the innings with a six, gifted his wicket away with India just four runs shy of victory.

Dinesh Karthik (1 not out) then joined his skipper to complete the formalities in style.

Earlier, Jadeja, playing his first ODI since July 2017, wreaked havoc among the Bangladeshi middle-order that comprised the key wickets of Shakib Al Hasan (17), Mushfiqur Rahim (21), Mohammad Mithun (9) and Mosaddek Hossain (12), to help India restrict the opposition for a paltry 173, centred mainly around a 66-run eighth wicket stand between lower-order batsmen Mehidy Hasan (42) and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza (26).

Jadeja was complimented well by the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/32) and Jasprit Bumrah (3/37).

Put in to bat, Bangladesh immediately found themselves on the backfoot after Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah removed the openers Liton Das (7) and Nazmul Hossain Shanto (7), respectively, with just 16 runs on the board.

Thereafter, Jadeja spun his magic around the Bangladesh batsmen which reduced them to 65/5 by the 18th over, before Mahmudullah (25) and Mosaddek steered the total past the 100-run mark with a brief 36-run sixth wicket stand.

Towards the end, Mehidy and Mashrafe batted sensibly to take the side past the 150-run mark even as the Indian bowlers came back well to restrict them to a below-par score.

Brief Scores

Bangladesh: 173 (Mehidy Hasan 42, Mashrafe Mortaza 26; Ravindra Jadeja 4/29, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/32, Jasprit Bumrah 3/37) lose to India: 174/3 (Rohit Sharma 83 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 40, M.S Dhoni 33) by 7 wickets.

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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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Asia Cup: Afghanistan thrash Bangladesh by 136 runs

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Afghanistan Cricket Team

Abu Dhabi, Sep 21 : A disciplined all-round effort saw Afghanistan thrashing Bangladesh by 136 runs in their last group match of the Asia Cup here on Thursday.

Chasing 256, Bangladesh were bundled out for 119.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Gulbadin Naib and Rashid Khan picked up two wickets each to hand Afghanistan a comfortable victory.

Chasing a decent target, Bangladesh never looked in the contention as they lost their wickets at regular intervals.

Shakib Al Hasan (32), Mahmudullah (27) and Mosaddek Hossain (26 not out) mainly contributed to the Bangladeshi score. No other batsman clicked and went back to the pavilion one after another, posting single digit individual scores.

Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain scored towards the end but the lack of support denied the run chase.

Earlier, Afghanistan rode on some brilliant batting by Rashid Khan (57 not out), Gulbadin Naib (42 not out) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (58) to post a decent score.

Besides the trio, opener Mohammad Shahzad (37) also played handsomely.

For Bangladesh, Shakib Al Hasan took four wickets while Abu Hider Rony scalped two wickets.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 255/7, (Hashmatullah Shahidi 58, Rashid Khan 57 not out; Shakib Al Hasan 4/42) against Bangladesh 119/10 (Shakib Al Hasan 32; Rashid Khan 2/13)

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