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Sania in doubles final of Hobart International

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Sania Mirza

Hobart: Former World No.1 Sania Mirza continued her dream comeback to the WTA circuit when on Friday she entered the women’s doubles final at the ongoing Hobart International.

Mirza, back from a two-year absence from the tour after having her baby, paired with Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok to win their semi-final clash over Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, 7-6(3), 6-2, and move into the summit clash.

Mirza and Kichenok beat Bouzkova and Zidansek in a match that lasted one hour and 24 minutes.

The Indo-Ukranian pair had 15 break points in the match and were able to convert just four of them, but they were only broken twice in the match, to garner the straight-set victory.

The Indian star, who has three Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles and another three Grand Slam titles in mixed doubles, is now into her 62nd WTA doubles final and would be seeking her 41st title.

The 33-year-old Indian, who has spent 91 weeks as the top-ranked player in the WTA doubles rankings in her career, had not played on the WTA since a semi-final run at the 2017 China Open.

During her time away from the circuit, she gave birth to her first child, Izhaan, who has been on site in Hobart this week.

Mirza and Kichenok will now face the second-seeded Chinese pair of Zhang Shuai and Peng Shuai on Saturday.

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Kapil Dev questions ‘in-form’ Rahul’s absence from Test team

New Zealand were completely whitewashed in the five-match T20I series. However, they made a strong comeback and went on to win the three ODIs and have now won the first Test in the two-Test series.

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kapil dev

New Delhi, Feb 25 : Former India skipper Kapil Dev has criticised Virat Kohli’s boys following their thrashing in the Test series opener in Wellington, a game which they lost by 10 wickets at the Basin Reserve on Monday.

“We have to praise New Zealand, they are playing very good cricket. The three ODIs and this Test match, they have been excellent. If we analyse this match critically, well, I do not understand how one can make so many changes. There is a new team in almost every match. No one in the team is permanent, if there is no security over your place, it will affect the form of the players,” Kapil told ABP News.

The Indian batting line-up, which boasts of players like Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, failed in both the innings at the Basin Reserve — a reason which Kohli himself admitted for the reason for their downfall against the Black Caps.

“Such big names in the batting order, if you cannot score even 200 runs in 2 innings, you have not been able to conquer conditions. You have to focus more on planning and strategy,” Dev added.

New Zealand were completely whitewashed in the five-match T20I series. However, they made a strong comeback and went on to win the three ODIs and have now won the first Test in the two-Test series.

Kapil was also surprised at the non-inclusion of K.L. Rahul — who was the Player of the Series in T20Is — in the Test squad.

“I do not understand. There is a lot of difference between when we played and what is happening now. When you build a team, you have to give confidence to players. When there are so many changes made, it does not make sense. Management believes in format-specific players. Rahul is in great form, he is sitting out, it does not make sense. I believe when a player is in form, he needs to play,” he added.

Team India will now aim to level the series when they take on the Black Caps in the second and final Test beginning Saturday at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

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PM Modi inaugurates 1st edition of Khelo India University Games

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Khelo India School Games-min

Cuttack, Feb 22 : The inaugural edition of the Khelo India University Games was launched here on Saturday with a dazzling opening ceremony with Prime Minster Narendra Modi too gracing the occasion with his virtual presence.

Speaking to the august gathering through a video link, the Prime Minister declared the Games open and exhorted the athletes to better their own performances.

“It is a historic moment for Indian Sports. With the launch of Khelo India University Games India has entered the league of countries where university games are organized at this level. I congratulate the organizers from Odisha who have put together this spectacular event and wish the 3000+ youth athletes from across the country all the best for the Khelo India University Games.

“In the coming few days, the goal is to win medals but even more to better your own performance. Your hard work here will take you, your families and your country’s dream ahead. You have torch bearers like Dutee Chand here to inspire you. This is the start of a new sports revolution in India,” said the Prime Minister.

A colourful 45-minute cultural show marked the ceremony, with a number of top dignitaries, led by Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik, Union Minister of Petroleum, Natural Gas & Steel Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju, witnessing the show.

As many as 4,000 spectators enjoyed the immaculately conceived ceremony inside the stadium even as scores watched it on LED screens just outside the stadium.

After the stupendous success of the Khelo India Youth Games in Guwahati last month, the Indian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to take it to the next level by hosting the Khelo India University Games (KIUG). The Odisha government promptly stepped forward and put everything in place in less than a month.

The KIYG officially began on Friday morning with competitions in archery, fencing, football, basketball and volleyball. It is the largest ever multi-discipline sports event being conducted at one venue for university students and hopes to unearth talented sportspersons for India.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, “It is a moment of great pride for us to be hosting the first edition of the Khelo India University Games here in Odisha in association with the Government of India and the KIIT University. Khelo India University Games will provide a great platform to showcase sporting talent at the national level.

“Some of the athletes will return with medals, some with experience and all with great memories from the Games. I welcome all of you to the sport-loving state of Odisha. And, on behalf of the Government and people of Odisha, I wish all the athletes the very best for their sporting events,” Patnaik said.

Rijiju, during his address, said that the people of India will definitely see many international champions coming out of the Khelo India University Games. “I’m sure we will find more Olympians and unearth more talent from the Games. It gives a platform for athletes to showcase their talent at the highest level and also for athletes to interact with one another to share expertise. I’m confident that through initiatives such as the Khelo India Youth Games and the Khelo India University Games, India will have more stars in the future.”

The opening ceremony was a glittering affair with 390 students performing and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Odisha. Aruna Mohanty choreographed a sequence which showcased dance forms such as Odissi and Sambalpuri.

The torch relay which kick-off the Games was led by India archer Muskan Kirar who passed on the baton to swimmer S.P. Likith who handed over the torch to former India hockey player Dilip Tirkey who lit the cauldron. The oath taking ceremony for the athletes was led by ace sprinter Dutee Chand who is taking part in the Khelo India University Games.

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Asian Wrestling C’Ships: Bajrang, Ravi among 4 Indians in final

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Bajrang Punia

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya on Saturday assured themselves of silver medals at the Asian Wrestling Championships underway at the KD Jadhav Wrestling Hall in the national capital.

Satyawart Kadiyan (97kg) and Gourav Baliyan (79kg) also assured themselves of silver medals. Naveen (70kg) lost in the semi-final and will face Uzbekistan’s Meirzhan Ashirov in the bronze medal match.

Bajrang was dominant in the 65kg category, beating the three opponents he faced by technical superiority. The Asian Games gold medallist started the day with a 11-0 win over Tajikstan’s Dzamshed Sharifov. He then beat Uzbekistan’s Abbos Rakhmonov 12-2 in the quarter final.

Bajrang then faced Iranian junior world champion Amirhossein Magshoudi. He won the bout 10-0 to go through to the final. He now faces Japan’s Takuto Otoguro in a rematch of the 2018 World Championships final.

Ravi beat Japanese Yuki Takahashi 14-5 in his first match of the 57kg category followed by a 6-3 win over Tugs Batjargal of Mongolia in the quarter-final. He then beat Kazakhstan’s world championship bronze medallist Nurislam Sanayev 7-2 to set up a title bout against Tajikstan’s Hikmatullo Vohidov.

Satyawart beat both his opponents by technical superiority. He beat Jordan’s Zaid Shishani 10-0 before beating Tajikistan’s Rustam Iskandari by the same scoreline. He faces Mojtaba Mohammadshafie Goleij of Iran in the final.

Baliyan beat Mongolia’s Batzul Damjin 3-1 in his first match of the day. He followed that up with a 6-5 win over Japan’s Shinkichi Okui to seal his place in the final where he faces Kyrgyzstan’s Arsalan Budazhapov.

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