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Jasprit Bumrah picks trainer CoA panel rejected for India job

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New Delhi, Dec 3 : The much-talked about legacy that former India trainer Shankar Basu had supposedly created over the years around the Indian team and the National Cricket Academy (NCA) seems to have fallen flat once again. Contrary to the general rule of injured Indian players undergoing rehab at the NCA, pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been working on his strength and fitness under Delhi Capitals trainer Rajnikanth Sivagnanam.

Interestingly, Rajnikanth is the same person who had been rejected for the position of Strength and Conditioning Coach back in August and the job was handed to Nick Webb under the Committee of Administrators (CoA). The panel for conducting practical exams consisted of the national selectors and Ranadeep Moitra — owner of the Endorphins Gym in Kolkata. And they placed Webb and Luke Woodhouse over Rajnikanth.

Speaking to IANS, a BCCI official not only questioned the turn of events, but also asked if the process followed in the appointment during the CoA regime needs a re-look.

“This is not a judgment on Nick in any way, but the process was harder for Rajni than anyone else. I had enquired from a member on the panel who was surprised at the apparent hostility towards Rajni. He was asked to do things by the gym trainer on the panel that no one else was. What was curious was that the person on the panel had not worked at the level that Rajni had worked at. It would be interesting to know who placed him on the panel,” he said.

Bumrah’s importance in the Indian set-up is pretty well known and sources in the know of developments told IANS that even the Indian team management didn’t wish to take any chance with his recovery post the stress fracture on his back and that is why he was sent to the UK for consultation.

“Can’t take a chance with one of your best bowlers even though his body was on auto heal mode. So, he was sent to the UK for consultation. We have an important tour of New Zealand coming up in the new year and he will be an integral part of the planning there. So, the team management was very clear that they are happy to wait and have him back at his best in time for the New Zealand tour,” the source said.

This isn’t the first case of India players refusing to head to the NCA for rehab and trainer across the country believe that it is the result of having trainers who are picked on reasons other than pure merit.

“You tell me something, who decided that NCA trainers have to be below 35? The last employment advertisement given by the BCCI for Strength & Conditioning Coach at the academy required the person to be below 35. So, who exactly are we trying to push and who are we trying to keep away? When national interest is at stake, why such a bizarre rule? We have been training domestic teams over the years and when we have reached a level of experience, we are told that the age is an issue,” one of the trainers associated with a state team told IANS.

“When India last won the World Cup in 2011, the trainer Ramji Srinivasan was 42. Why don’t you check with the likes of M.S. Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and all on what he brought to the table. This is all turning into a joke and the number of injuries to the players in recent times is enough proof of what we are saying is nothing but the truth.”

Another trainer who was among those who had written to joint secretary Jayesh George recently about the indiscrimination faced by the domestic trainers said that even international certification has been ignored when recruitment has been done.

“We have been ignored despite being part of the system since the mid-2000s. Nothing against youngsters coming in, but even the international certification courses done by some of us have been ignored and hopefully all this will now change under the new BCCI officials. Rajni is one of the best we have so I am not at all surprised that Bumrah is training under him and not at the NCA. If you check with other players also, they aren’t too keen on undergoing rehab at the academy,” he said.

“In fact, why don’t you check why Hardik Pandya is not at the NCA? Also, what was Moitra and Nisha Varma — former Reebok Master Trainer (North India) – doing interviewing aspirants at the NCA? The pandora’s box remains to be opened.”

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Sania scripts dream return, clinches doubles title in Hobart

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Hobart: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza along with Nadiia Kichenok came out with yet another brilliant performance as they defeated the China’s Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in straight sets to win the women’s doubles title at Hobart International on Saturday.

Former doubles No.1 Mirza and Kichenok defeated the second-seeded Chinese duo 6-4, 6-4 in a rather one-sided contest which lasted one hour and 21 minutes.

The Indo-Ukrainian pair were the first to break in each set, but ultimately needed to wrap up the match by delivering the deciding breaks late. The unseeded duo won the last three games of the opener, and eight of the last 10 points to seal victory, having nearly seen a double-break advantage slip away.

Though the duo won six straight games from 3-4 in the opener to lead 6-4, 3-0, the 33-year-old Indian was the one who saw her serve broken twice as the Chinese eventually restored parity at 4-4.

Nonetheless, Mirza and Kichenok finished the match off in style with their fifth break of the match, before the Ukrainian served out the match and the victory for the team.

It is Mirza’s first WTA title in just over two years and 42nd of her storied doubles career, while Kichenok won her fifth, and first since partnering her twin sister, Lyudmyla, to win the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in 2018.

The Indian star last won a trophy alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Brisbane International in the first week of the 2017 season, one of three doubles finals she reached that year before announcing her pregnancy in April of 2018.

Three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Mirza was making a return to competition after a two-year hiatus away from tennis, initially due to injuries and then welcoming a son in October 2018.

The former world No.1 won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016 following a successful 2015 season in which she claimed the Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles, all paired with Martina Hingis.

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Rajkot ODI: India level series with 36-run win

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Rajkot, Jan 17 : India beat South Africa by 36 runs in the second ODI at the SCA stadium in Rajkot to level the three-match series between the two sides 1-1. Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli helped India post a total of 341 to chase. In response, Australia were all out for 304 despite Steve Smith scoring 98.

Openers David Warner and Aaron Finch, who posted a record 258-run stand to help Australia stroll to a win in the first ODI, could not do a repeat of their heroics with the former being dismissed in the fourth over. Smith came in at number three and put up 62 with Finch before the Australian captain fell to Ravindra Jadeja on account of a close stumping call in the 16th over.

Finch had attempted to hit Jadeja over extra cover but missed the delivery due to the turn. Finch dragged his backfoot marginally outside the crease and wicketkeeper Rahul whipped the bails off immediately. Replays made it a tough call for the umpire to make but the decision went India’s way in the end.

However, Marnus Labuschagne, playing his first ODI innings, stuck on with Smith and the pair gave Australia the upper hand in the middle overs. They put up 96 for the third wicket before Labuschagne holed out at mid-off off Jadeja on 46. Smith however looked settled and was cruising to his ninth ODI ton when a loose shot cost him his wicket.

Kuldeep Yadav, who was wicketless in the first eight overs, bowled the 38th over and got Carey when the latter sent the ball straight to Kohli at extra cover. It was Kuldeep’s 100th ODI wicket and two balls later, Smith played on and had to walk back two runs shy of his hundred.

Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins were dismissed off consecutive deliveries by Mohammed Shami in the 44th over. Both players were done in by pinpoint yorkers directed at the middle stump. Shami sent in a leg stump yorker for his hat-trick ball and hit Mitchell Starc on his pads but the umpire didn’t raise his finger with the ball clearly going down the leg side.

Navdeep Saini then got India closer in the 47th with the wickets of Ashton Agar and Starc off the first and third balls of the over. Kane Richardson then delayed the inevitable by smashing Mohammed Shami for three fours and a six in the penultimate over. Jasprit Bumrah ended the match by dismissing Adam Zampa off the first ball of the last over.

Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan scored his third straight fifty with a sublime 96 from 90 balls, his innings laced with 13 fours and a six as skipper Kohli smashed a 76-ball 78 (6×4). But it was Rahul, batting at No.5 who gave India the much-needed push in the last ten overs with his aggressive batting and range of shots. Rahul was run out in the final over for 80 off just 52 balls, his quickfire knock studded with six fours and three sixes.

For the Aussies, leg-spinner Adam Zampa was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/50.

The decisive third ODI will be played on Sunday at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru.

Brief scores: India: 340/6 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 96, KL Rahul 80, Virat Kohli 78; Adam Zampa 3/50) vs Australia 304 (Steve Smith 98, Marnus Labuschagne 46; Mohammed Shami 3/77)

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Anand gets past Xiong for first win in Tata Steel Masters

It was a French Defence Winawer variation where none of the players castled throughout the game.

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Viswanathan Anand

Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Jan 17 : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand beat Jeffery Xiong of the United States to notch up his first victory in the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament here on Friday.

Anand was struggling for form but roared back to notch a win after one loss and three draws.

The Indian was very good in the round four match, playing some brilliant chess.

It was a French Defence Winawer variation where none of the players castled throughout the game.

Anand fired a king side attack early with his white pieces and enjoyed spatial advantage in the middle game.

Xiong tried to keep him at bay but in the end Anand found a crucial central breakthrough after which the resulting rook and pawns endgame was a walk in the park.

Anand moved to joint sixth spot with 2.5 points on a day.

Firouzja Alireza also scored a victory over Anish Giri of Holland.

Anish Giri dropped to 11th spot along with Nikita Vituigov of Russia on two points, Yu Yangyi of China is in 13th spot on 1.5 points and Kovalev stands last with just one point in his bag. Eight rounds still remain in the marathon event among 14 players.

Magnus Carlsen’s form was not too good even though he played his 112th game without a defeat.

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