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Indian women beat Japan 4-2 to reach Asia Cup hockey final

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Kakamigahara (Japan), Nov 3: India set their date with China in the final of the 9th women’s Asia Cup after beating hosts Japan 4-2 in the semi-final here on Friday.

The Indian eves rode on a brace from Gurjit Kaur and field goals from Navjot Kaur and Lalremsiami to advance to a fourth Asia Cup final. India won the title in 2004 and finished runners-up in 1999 and 2009.

Gurjit gave India a perfect start, successfully converting a penalty corner in the seventh minute before Navjot’s field goal in the ninth minute made it 2-0 for the tourists.

In the same minute, Gurjit inflated India’s lead to 3-0 with a brilliant field goal.

But Japan was no pushover. It managed to dominate the Indians in the second quarter and reduced the deficit to 2-3 through field goals from Shiho Tsujii (17′) and Yui Ishibashi (28′).

The third quarter saw Lalremsiami score her first goal of the tournament to put India ahead 4-2, and the defenders did well to keep the Japanese at bay thereon.

India entered the knockout stage of the tournament following big wins over Singapore 10-0, China 4-1 and Malaysia 2-0 to top their pool, and on Thursday defeated Kazakhstan 7-1 in the quarter-final.

On Sunday, India will aim to avenge their 3-5 loss to China in 2009 as the winner of this year’s edition will qualify for the 2018 World Cup in England.

IANS

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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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Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur ruled out of Asia Cup

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Mumbai, Sep 20: Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur have been ruled out of the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 owing to injuries, the BCCI announced on Thursday.

BCCI’s senior selection committee has now replaced the trio by Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Siddharth Kaul, who will be joining the team in Dubai on Thursday.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya had suffered an acute lower back spasm during the game against Pakistan on Wednesday and is undergoing treatment and assessment by the BCCI medical team.

Meanwhile, left-arm spinner Axar Patel injured his left index finger while fielding against Pakistan. He was sent for scans and the results showed that he had a tendon tear.

On the other hand, right-arm pacer Shardul Thakur had experienced right hip and groin soreness after the match against Hong Kong.

The Rohit Sharma-led Indian side, who had thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets on Wednesday, will take on Bangladesh in their first Super four game on Friday.

IANS

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