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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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2nd Test: Australia opt to bat first against India

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Perth, Dec 14: Australia captain Tim Paine won the toss and decided to bat first in the second cricket Test against India here on Friday.

The Indians made two changes to their playing XI.

Hanuma Vihari will play his second Test match after being brought in as a replacement for Rohit Sharma.

There was a change in the visitors’ bowling line-up as well, with fast bowler Umesh Yadav replacing star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ashwin had bowled well in the first Test, which India had won by 31 runs. But the Indians opted for an extra fast bowler keeping in mind the nature of the wicket.

The hosts went in with an unchanged line-up.

Teams:

Australia: Aaron Finch, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jo sh Hazlewood.

India: Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah.

IANS

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Valencia impress in win over Man United

Valencia, meanwhile, had an incentive to win their final group match to be in better placed in next week’s draw for the Europa League round-of-32.

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Valencia

Valencia (Spain), Dec 13 : Valencia ended their 2018-2019 Champions League campaign with a 2-1 victory against a listless Manchester United.

Wednesday’s action in Group H began with United and Juventus already qualified for the Champions knockout stage and BSC Young Boys doomed to finish last, reports Efe.

Valencia, meanwhile, had an incentive to win their final group match to be in better placed in next week’s draw for the Europa League round-of-32.

Both sides started brightly in front of 36,500 fans at Valencia’s Mestalla. The only goal of the first half went to the hosts, courtesy of Carlos Soler’s opportunistic strike in the 17th minute.

Valencia retreated in the minutes after the goal, essentially ceding the midfield to United, though the visitors failed to capitalize and the Spanish side came roaring back in the 30th minute with a near-miss by Michy Batshuayi.

The visitors found themselves trailing 2-0 just two minutes into the second half as the result of an own goal by United defender Phil Jones, who redirected the ball to his goalkeeper in an attempt to break up a pass intended for Batshuayi.

Unfortunately for Jones, keeper Sergio Romero had come off his line and the ball rolled into the net.

United struggled to react and their first shot came only in the 74th minute, a fine effort by Andreas Pereira that forced a great stop by Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.

While the Premier League club avoided the shutout with Marcus Rashford’s goal in the 87th minute, the loss represented a missed opportunity to grab the top spot in the group as Juventus were upset 1-2 by Young Boys.

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Al Ain stuns Wellington, reaches Club World Cup quarters

Four minutes later, New Zealand playmaker Andrew Bevin made a second assist, setting his countryman Aaron Clapham up for the second goal in a close-range finish.

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Al Ain stuns Wellington,

Al Ain (UAE), Dec 13 : Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates made a thrilling comeback after beating Team Wellington of New Zealand 4-3 on penalties in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup play-off, advancing to a quarter-final clash with Esperance Sportive of Tunisia.

The 2018 OFC Champions League winner Wellington shocked Al Ain with three goals in the first half here on Wednesday, while the 2017-2018 UAE Pro-League champion rallied back to a 3-3 tie that lasted during the extra time at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, reports Efe.

Argentine midfielder Mario Barcia opened the scoring for Wellington on a long-range effort that went past Al Ain keeper Khalid Eisa, just 11 minutes into the game.

Four minutes later, New Zealand playmaker Andrew Bevin made a second assist, setting his countryman Aaron Clapham up for the second goal in a close-range finish.

Midfielder Mario Ilich gave Wellington a 3-0 lead, one minute before the first-half stoppage time, as he finished a corner-kick cross by teammate Henry Cameron.

The host side showed more drive and solidarity, and managed to get on the scoreboard in the first minute of the stoppage time, thanks to its Japanese left-back Tsukasa Shiotani’s right-footed shot after dribbling past Wellington’s defence.

After the intermission, Brazilian forward Caio sent a cross-pass from the left side, to which Malian midfielder Tongo Doumbia connected, sending the ball home for Al Ain’s 3-2 goal in the 49th minute.

In the closing minutes, Swedish striker Marcus Berg, who entered into the field as a substitute, netted the 3-3 equalizer for Al Ain on a close-range volley, making use of Ibrahim Diaky’s assist.

The 3-3 draw lasted during the extra time, so the winner had to be decided by penalty shoot-out where a brilliant performance by Al Ain goalkeeper Eisa saved two penalty shots to lead his side to win 4-3.

IANS

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