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India are favourites against Pakistan: Kapil Dev

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New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) 1983 World Cup winning India captain Kapil Dev has said that he sees Virat Kohli and boys as favourites in their upcoming 2019 World Cup clash against Pakistan. “We have started very well by winning the first two matches comfortably,” said Kapil on Wednesday. “Hopefully the team continues playing in this manner and the weather doesn’t cause any problems.”

India’s match against Pakistan is scheduled to be played on June 16 before which India play New Zealand on Thursday. The Virat Kohli-led team has played South Africa and Australia thus far and won both matches. “I hope the team plays to the best of its abilities. India will certainly win the match because they are playing better at the moment.

“In my time Pakistan used to be favourites whenever we played them. Today it is India who are the better team — we are above them in the rankings and are playing better cricket,” the 60-year-old said.

Kapil also said that he would have liked to see Yuvraj Singh play one last time in Indian colours. 37-year-old Yuvraj, who was Man of the Tournament when India won the 2011 World Cup, announced his retirement from international cricket and Indian Premier League on Monday.

“A player like Yuvraj should be given a final send-off from the ground. I would have liked to see that because he has played some fantastic cricket in his career. We need leaders like Yuvraj because he is an icon for the coming generation. I’d like to congratulate him for his extraordinary career,” he said.

(Abhijit Upadhyay can be contacted at [email protected])

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Australia suspends Olympic bid amid COVID-19 recovery

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Sydney, May 25 (IANS) Australia’s Queensland has suspended its bid to host the 2032 Olympics recently as the state government focuses on economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed the bid process had been paused, reports Xinhua news agency.

“It’s just on hold. I wouldn’t read too much into that,” Palaszczuk told reporters last weekend.

“We’re focused absolutely on the economic recovery at the moment.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) said it fully supported the Queensland government’s position in placing the Brisbane 2032 candidature on hold.

AOC President John Coates said in a recent statement that meetings of the Olympic Candidature Leadership Group (OCLG) scheduled earlier this year were deferred, allowing governments to focus on dealing with COVID-19.

Coates said he’d proposed to OCLG members that the meetings would not proceed while all three levels of governments dealt with the pandemic.

He also told the AOC Annual General Meeting on May 9 that discussions with the IOC on the candidature would resume when appropriate.

“We all understand there are pressing issues of public health and community wellbeing for governments to address,” Coates said.

“The candidature will have its role to play in terms of jobs and growth in the Queensland economy once we have seen our way through the current crisis.”

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‘Hockey has lost its brightest star’: Balbir Singh Sr passes away

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New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) Hockey India has expressed condolences on the sad demise of legendary player Balbir Singh Sr who breathed his last on Monday morning in Mohali. The triple Olympic Champion and World Cup-winning team manager had been battling for life since May 8 when he was hospitalised.

“Today, we have not only lost our greatest hockey legend but we have also lost ‘our guiding light’. While his achievements in post-independent era have been well-documented, Balbir Sr remained the greatest fan of the sport and was always there when we needed his advice. Hockey has lost its brightest star and everyone at Hockey India is pained by this news,” said Hockey India President Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad.

He further said: “Balbir Singh Sr’s exemplary achievements, his passion for the sport, his life as an icon of the game will remain an example for generations to come. On behalf of the federation, I express my deepest condolences to his family.”

He was the most decorated athlete in Indian sports history with Olympic medals in 1948, 1952 and 1956 Summer Games. He coached the Indian team which won the bronze medal at the 1971 World Cup and was manager of the Indian team that won the gold medal at the 1975 World Cup.

He had scored five goals in India’s 6-1 victory over the Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Under his captaincy, India scored 38 goals and conceded none on its way to the gold medal in 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Beating England 4-0 in their own backyard during the final of the 1948 Olympic Games as an independent nation was Balbir Sr’s ‘greatest moment’.

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Former Pak batsman Taufeeq Umar tests positive for COVID-19

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New Delhi, Former Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. Umar featured in 44 Tests and 12 ODIs, amassing 2,963 and 504 runs respectively for Pakistan.

He played his last international match in 2014, a Test against New Zealand in Dubai.

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