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Manpreet to lead Indian hockey team at CWG, no place for Sardar

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Dhaka: Manpreet Singh
Dhaka: Manpreet Singh in action during the Final against Malaysia in the Hero Asia Cup 2017 at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Oct 22, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, March 13: Ace midfielder Manpreet Singh is set to lead the Indian mens hockey team at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, starting April 4, while the experienced former captain Sardar Singh has been left out of the 18-member squad, announced by Hockey India on Tuesday.

The Indian team is grouped in Pool B along with Pakistan, Malaysia, Wales, England and will begin their campaign on April 7 against Pakistan.

Midfielder Chinglensana Singh Kangujam will be the vice-captain of the team.

It was under Manpreet’s leadership that the Indian team lifted the Asia Cup in 2017 followed by a bronze medal at the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar last year.

Freeman and drag-flick expert Rupinder Pal Singh will form India’s wall of defence along with Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh, Gurinder Singh and Amit Rohidas, while the goalpost will be guarded by India’s experienced goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh who made a strong comeback into the team during the New Zealand Tour where he displayed some exceptional goalkeeping abilities.

He will be backed by the 22-year-old Suraj Karkera who played a crucial part in the team’s good show in Bhubaneswar last year in his senior counterpart’s absence.

India’s midfield will see skipper Manpreet in the lead role, ably supported by the experience of Chinglensana along with young blood in Sumit and Vivek Sagar Prasad.

The Indian attack will feature a combination between experience and youth as S.V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh and Dilpreet Singh are all in the team.

Dilpreet Singh and Vivek Sagar Prasad who made their international debut during the New Zealand tour have been rewarded with this opportunity for a good show where the duo scored in important games.

Sardar’s exclusion comes on the heels of India finishing fifth under his leadership at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament. However a few eyebrows have been raised with Ramandeep Singh being dropped despite his decent show in the same tournament.

“This team has been picked keeping in mind the team’s performance in the previous tournaments since the Asia Cup 2017. We have tried out different combinations in the past events and we believe this will be the most effective combination for the Gold Coast 2018 XXI Commonwealth Games,” asserted Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne.

He stated that the team has a winning mindset and will look to aim for the best in the quadrennial event.

“This team has been improving with every match and while we could not produce a podium finish at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup 2018, it will have no influence on how we are going to play in Australia and we will be going there with a mindset to win,” said the 43-year-old Dutch coach.

In the previous two outings at the Commonwealth Games, India has finished second behind Australia.

Skipper Manpreet Singh, however, is confident of turning the tables this time.

“Our first aim is to do well in the group stage because we have some strong teams in our Pool. It’s extremely crucial to top our table and make the Semis but if we do meet Australia in the knockouts, I believe we will be up for a strong challenge,” the 25-year-old Manpreet said.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sreejesh Parattu Raveendran, Suraj Karkera.
Defenders: Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Kothajit Singh Kadangbam, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas.

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (Captain), Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (VC), Sumit, Vivek Sagar Prasad.

Forwards: Akashdeep Singh, Sunil Sowmarpet Vitalacharya.

IANS

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Ranveer Singh has ‘fan moment’ on meeting P.V. Sindhu

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Mumbai, Sep 26: Actor Ranveer Singh says he had a fan moment meeting Indian star shuttler P.V. Sindhu and added that he loves her spirit.

Ranveer met Sindhu on Tuesday at the Forbes India Tycoon Of Tomorrow event, where he was feted with the Youth Icon Award.

Sindhu shared a photograph of herself with the actor and captioned it: “Finally we meet! It was such a pleasure meeting you and an absolute fan moment.I congratulate you for all the success and I wish you all the very best for your future endeavours. I would rather call you ‘rockstar’ than Ranveer Singh.”

To which, Ranveer replied: “Yes, finally! it was a pleasure indeed! and likewise, a fan moment for me too… You make us so proud, champ! Love your spirit. May you continue to shine bright.”

On the acting front, Ranveer is currently busy shooting for filmmaker Rohit Shetty’s “Simmba”, which also features actor Saif Ali Khan’s daughter Sara.

IANS

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Asia Cup: Afghanistan pull off thrilling last-ball tie with India

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Mohammad Shahzad

Dubai, Sep 26 (IANS) Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comeback as skipper, albiet for a game ended in a thrilling tie against a resurgent Afghanistan in their final Super Four match of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing a competitive 253, the defending champions got off to a flier from the new opening pair of Lokesh Rahul (60 off 66 balls; 4X5, 6X1) and Ambati Rayudu (57 off 49; 4X4, 6X4) before a mini collapse, coupled with a few run-outs and umpiring errors, eventually resulted in a tie.

Needing 7 off the final over, Ravindra Jadeja (25 off 34; 4X1) struck a boundary on the second ball off leg-spinner Rashid Khan before taking two singles with last man Khaleel Ahmed in company.

With 1 needed off the final two balls, Jadeja pulled the fifth delivery — a shorter one towards midwicket only to find Najibullah running in from deep to grab it with both hands and help Afghanistan bow out of the tournament with their head held high.

Earlier, replacing the regular pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul and Rayudu got India to a 110-run opening stand before Mohammed Nabi managed to draw first blood with the wicket of Rayudu.

Rashid then joined the party by removing Rahul before Dinesh Karthik’s (44 off 66; 4X4) sedate knock stabilised things for the Men-in-Blue.

Karthik, however failed to get adequate support from the other end as Dhoni (8), Manish Pandey (8) and Kedar Jadhav (19) fell in quick succession before an umpiring blunder sent the Tamil Nadu stumper back in the hut.

Towards the end, Jadeja played a lone hand even as the bowlers — Deepak Chahar (12), Kuldeep Yadav (9) and Siddharth Kaul (0) — could hardly lend any support to the southpaw.

For the Afghans, pacer Aftab Alam and spin duo of Nabi and Rashid picked two wickets each while Javed Ahmadi picked one.

Earlier, electing to bat, Afghanistan rode opener Mohammad Shahzad’s entertaining century and a sensible innings from Nabi to post a healthy 252/8 against a relatively inexperienced Indian attack.

On a track where strokeplay wasn’t easy, Shahzad belted a brilliant 124 off 116 balls, laced with 11 boundaries and seven sixes, even as the rest of the top-five failed to reach double digits.

Nabi (64 off 56; 4X3, 6X4), however, played the perfect second fiddle to the wicketkeeper-batsman, raising a vital 48-run stand for the sixth wicket before finally losing Shahzad to part-timer Kedar Jadhav.

Thereafter, Nabi took the responsibility of pressing the accelerator even as the Indian bowlers bounced back well to leak just nine runs off the final three overs.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan: 252/8 (Mohammad Shahzad 124, Mohammad Nabi 64; Ravindra Jadeja 3/46) tie with India 252 (Lokesh Rahul 60, Ambati Rayudu 56, Dinesh Karthik 44; Mohammed Nabi 2/40, Rashid Khan 2/41).

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Kohli, Chanu conferred Khel Ratna; Neeraj, Hima get Arjuna award

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Arjuna Award Khel Ratna

New Delhi, Sep 25: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu were conferred with the country’s highest sporting honour — Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award — by President Ram Nath Kovind at the annual National Sports Awards ceremony here on Tuesday.

This year’s award ceremony was postponed to September 25 from the usual August 29 National Sports Day event due to the clash of dates with the Asian Games in Indonesia.

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is given for a ‘spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years’. Both Kohli and Chanu received a medal, a citation and a cash prize of Rs 7 lakh.

Besides the Khel Ratna, star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, sprinter Hima Das, table tennis star Manika Batra were among the 20 recipients of the prestigious Arjuna award.

The other Arjuna awardees were long distance runner Jinson Johnson, shuttler N.Sikki Reddy, boxer Satish Kumar, woman cricketer Smriti Mandhana, golfer Shubhankar Sharma, hockey stars Manpreet Singh and Savita Punia, Col. Ravi Rathore (Polo), shooters Rahi Sarnobat, Ankur Mittal, Shreyasi Singh, paddler G. Sathiyan, tennis player Rohan Bopanna, wrester Sumit, Pooja Kadian (Wushu).

Para athlete Ankur Dhama and para shuttler Manoj Sarkar were also conferred with the Arjuna award, that included statuettes, certificates and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each.

The President also gave away the Dronacharya awards to C.A. Kuttappa (Boxing), Vijay Sharma (Weightlifting), A. Srinivasa Rao (Table Tennis), Sukhdev Singh Pannu (Athletics).

Among the Dronacharya awardees for lifetime achievement were Clarence Lobo (Hockey), Tarak Sinha (Cricket), Jiwan Kumar Sharma (Judo) and V.R. Beedu (Athletics). The Dronacharya awardees were also given statuettes, certificates and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each.

The Dhyan Chand award, that also includes statuettes, certificates and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh each were given to Satyadev Prasad (Archery), Bharat Kumar Chetri (Hockey), Bobby Aloysius (Athletics) and Chougale Dadu Dattatray (Wrestling).

IANS

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