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Shastri backs Dhoni once again, hits out at critics

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ravi shastri dhoni

Kolkata, Nov 14: Mahendra Singh Dhoni was once again backed by India head coach Ravi Shastri who on Tuesday said those commenting on the two-time World Cup-winning former skipper should look back at their own careers.

“People should look back at their career before commenting on Dhoni. The former captain has a lot of cricket left in him and it is the duty of the team to back the legend,” Shastri said.

The coach further added that the culture of the current team is based on performance and quality.

“There is no one better than Dhoni on the field given his ability behind the wicket and with the bat and his presence of mind and sharpness on the field.”

On in-form all-rounder Hardik Pandya being rested for the Sri Lanka series, Shastri said: “This team is not about one particular individual… we lose together, we win together.”

Shastri lauded the players’ athleticism, saying: “In terms of fielding, this team is the very best in the world at the moment and that’s something that separates this team from Indian teams of the past.”

India will take on Sri Lanka in three Tests beginning with the Eden five-dayer on November 16, and this will be Shastri’s first home Test series.

“This team always turns up on the park to win. We hope to win the series spread over one-and-half months before going to South Africa.”

IANS

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Asia Cup: Shahzad, Nabi guide Afghanistan to 252/8 against India

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Mohammad Shahzad

Dubai, Sep 25 : Opener Mohammad Shahzad’s entertaining century and sensible innings from Mohammad Nabi helped Afghanistan post 252/8 against Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led India in the final match of the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.

Right from the start Shahzad (124) played freely and punished Indian bowlers all around the park. The way he was playing can be judged that his partner Javed Ahmadi played 30 balls and scored five runs in the 65 run partnership for the first wicket.

Unperturbed by the fall of the wicket in the 13th over, Shahzad kept on playing fiercely. With 81 runs on the board, Rahmat Shah (3) was dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja in the 15th over.

In the very next over, Hashmatullah Shahidi (0) and captain Asghar Afghan (0) were dismissed by chinaman Kuldeep Yadav to make the scoreboard read 82/4.

Shahzad and Gulbadin Naib (15) then joined in the middle and Naib just gave the strike to his partner, who was smashing all over the park. In the process, Shahzad completed his century.

But while trying to increase the scoring rate, Naib was also dismissed by Deepak Chahar in the 29th over.

New batsman Nabi and Najibullah Zadran then joined in the middle and added a few runs before Zadran was sent back to the pavilion by Jadeja.

Towards the end, Khaleel Ahmed packed up in-form Nabi and Afghanistan finished the innings at 252/8.

For India, Jadeja picked up three wickets while Kuldeep took two wickets.

Brief scores: Afghanistan: 252/8 (Mohammad Shahzad 124, Mohammad Nabi 64; Ravindra Jadeja 3/46) against India.

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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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Chess Olympiad: Indian teams breeze past their opponents

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Chess Olympiad

Chennai, Sep 24 (IANS) Resting five times World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand, the fifth seeded Indian chess team under the open category breezed past the 94th seeded El Salvador scoring 3.5-05 points at the 43rd World Chess Olympiad held at Batumi, Georgia.

In the open category Indian Grand Masters (GM) P. Harikrishna, Vidit Santhosh Gujrathi and B. Adhiban finished their games quickly while GM K. Sasikiran took 52 moves to draw his game.

Similarly the Indian women’s team seeded fifth defeated 78th seeded New Zealand 4-0, resting one of the top players GM Harika Dronavalli.

GM Koneru Humpy, International Masters (IM) Eesha Karavade and Padmini Rout won against their New Zealand opponents quickly. On the other hand, IM Tania Sachdev had to sit more time before the chess board to wrapping up the game in her favour.

Meanwhile blind chess player Vaishali Narendra Salavkar, the first Indian female to be part of the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) Olympiad team won her game against her opponent from Sierra Leone. The IBCA team won 4-0.

Contrary to the earlier expectation that the players would sit in the descending order of their ELO rating points, the Captain of the Indian team in the open category made a change with regard to the fourth board.

As per the final board order, Anand plays on the first board, Harikrishna Aon the second board and Gujrathi on the third board.

The surprise switch is on the fourth board where Adhiban is playing instead of higher rated Sasikaran.

The fixed board order is the order in which the team players would occupy the playing table. Once it is finalised and submitted to the Olympiad organisors, it could not be changed.

The playing team consists of four players and the fifth player will be the reserve.

“Sasikiran is a solid positional player and is akin to what Rahul Dravid in cricket. But Adhiban is the equivalent of flamboyant cricket opener K. Srikkanth,” a senior chess player and a coach told IANS preferring anonymity.

He said normally the opponents on the lower boards are lower rated and slightly weaker.

“One of the strategies is to have an aggressive player at the lower end than to have a solid player who would play steadily,” he said.

He also said during the initial rounds Anand may be rested as a result the other players would move up on the board order leaving the fourth board for Sasikiran.

“This way there will be a strong Indian team,” he added.

An email to Indian team captain Ramesh on the team’s board order remain unacknowledged.

In the women’s team, the board order has been finalized in the descending order of the player’s rating viz Humpy, Dronavalli, Sachdev, Eesha and Rout.

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