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Sumit Nagal Becomes The Most Expensive Player At Tennis Premier League Season 5 Auction

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In preparation for the fifth season of the Tennis Premier League (TPL) powered by Clear, the eight franchises came out of the auction after assembling competitive rosters with a mix of fascinating talent from across the globe and Indian players during the event conducted at the Sahara Star Hotel in Mumbai. Sumit Nagal, who is the current All-India Tennis Association (AITA) No. 1 men’s singles player was brought into the league ahead of Season 5 of the TPL as the marquee player and was the most expensive pick at the auction.

Despite stiff competition from other franchises for the signature of India’s star tennis player, he was picked up by Ramku Patgir-owned Gujarat Panthers for 18.5 lakhs, thanks to decisive bidding by the Panthers’ celebrity ambassador, Arjun Kapoor. Additionally, the Gujarat Panthers picked up Karman Kaur Thandi for 8.5 lakhs, who has three singles ITF titles to her name. The Panthers also added Mukund Sasikumar to their roster as they showed a knack for savvy business by picking up the up-and-coming Indian player.

Defending champions Hyderabad Strikers backed by the graceful Rakul Preet Singh showed a great nous at the auction as they came into the bidding event with a clear plan. The most expensive pick-up for the ENN Sport-owned franchise was Ellen Perez at 14 lakhs. Perez has won five doubles titles on the WTA Tour, two doubles titles on the WTA Challenger Tour, as well as two singles and 19 doubles titles on the ITF Circuit.

The Australian player will bring a wealth of experience and talent to the Hyderabad team, who will be looking for their third consecutive TPL title. They were successfully able to retain the services of Nikki Poonacha, who played a pivotal role in the team’s success last season. The Strikers’ roster was complete when they brought Saketh Myneni, who was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2017 and represents India in the Davis Cup.

The Bengaluru SG Mavericks were swift to complete their roster for Season 5 of the TPL as Indian tennis icon Sania Mirza and owner Rohan Gupta navigated the auction expertly. They secured the services of Arina Rodionova for  17.1 lakhs as the Russian-Australian became the most expensive female player at the auction and will give the Bengaluru team an edge, especially in the women’s singles category.

Along with Rodionova, the Mavericks picked up Ramkumar Ramanathan for 8.6 lakhs. Ramanathan secured the Silver Medal for India at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou in the Men’s Doubles Category, playing alongside Saketh Meyeni. Bengaluru completed their roster with the capture of Vishnu Vardhan, who is a true team player and has showcased the ability to adapt in tough situations which has always allowed him to put on tremendous displays in TPL’s fast-paced and action-packed format.

Speaking about the composition of the Bengaluru SG Mavericks, Sania Mirza said, “We were determined to pick Arina Rodionova in the Season 5 auction, knowing her impressive set of talent and abilities. Additionally, with Ramkumar Ramanathan and Vishnu Vardhan, I think we have a fairly balanced squad and are confident of going all out for the title this time. We have witnessed the craze for tennis in India in the past four seasons and I am happy to see how the Tennis Premier League is steadily becoming a platform for young talent across the nooks and corners of the country.”

The Pune Jaguars was led by their celebrity ambassador Sonali Bendre and owned by Punit Balan showcased great decision-making during the auction. They picked up Lukas Rosol while warding off interest from Delhi Binny’s Brigade. The Jaguars picked up Indian tennis star Rutuja Bhosale, she is the former Indian number one in the WTA doubles rankings and represented the nation in the Fed Cup back in 2012, the same year, she achieved her highest junior ranking in the world as she reached rank No. 55. Manish Sureshkumar was the last player brought by the Pune Jaguars at the auction.

Delhi Binny’s Brigade also assembled an elite roster of players for Season 5 of the TPL with their ambassador Malaika Arora and owner Sneh Patel present at the auction. They bought Dennis Novak for 15.2 lakhs, who is the current Austrian No. 1 in the men’s singles category and will come into Season 5 of the TPL after qualifying for the Wimbledon Championships for a third consecutive year. They picked up Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who has a career-high ranking of No. 64 achieved in March 2019. He won the doubles title with Rohan Bopanna at the 2017 Chennai Open, in a historic final featuring four Indian players. The Delhi franchise picked up Vaidehi Chaudhari to complete their roster for the latest edition of the league.

Raminder Singh-owned and Taapsee Pannu-backed Punjab Tigers shifted their approach from last season as this time around they looked to buy Indian talent. However, the Tigers’ most expensive pick at the auction was one of the international stars from last season, Conny Perrin who was brought alongside in two extremely sought-after Indian tennis talents. Arjun Khade was picked up by the Punjab Tigers, he has won four ITF Futures singles titles and has also won three challenger and seven ITF Futures doubles titles. Digvijay Pratap Singh was the last pickup for the Punjab Tigers at the auction.

Last season’s finalists, the Mumbai Leon Army owned by Shyam Patel and backed by the magnanimous Sonu Sood assembled an impressive roster of players for season 5 of the innovative league. Their most expensive pick-up was the Latvian professional tennis player Ernest Gulbis for 14 lakhs. Gulbis has six ATP titles to his name. His best performance at a Grand Slam was reaching the semifinals of the 2014 French Open.

The Mumbai Leon Army secured the services of Sowjanya Bavisetti, who has a career-high singles ranking by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) of 500, achieved in 2022. She also has a career-high WTA doubles ranking of 402, which she achieved back in 2014. Their last pickup at the auctions was Vijay Sundar Prashanth, who caught everyone’s eye when he won against Indian Davis Cup player Yuki Bhambri at the 2015 Aircel Chennai Open. Prashanth has a career-high ATP singles ranking of 335 achieved back in 2015. He also has a career-high ATP doubles ranking of 107 achieved in 2023.

The newest team to become part of the TPL, the Bengal Wizards, owned by Mr. Yatin Gupte and backed by Indian tennis legend, Leander Paes also conducted themselves with class during the auctions. Despite stiff competition from Gujarat, the Wizards were able to secure the services of Maria Timofeeva for 15.5 lakhs. The 19-year-old Russian has won one singles title on the WTA Tour along with five singles titles and six doubles titles on the ITF Circuit since making her debut back in 2021 will give the Bengal Wizards immense youthful energy during the matches.

They also picked up Sriram Balaji, who has a career-high ATP singles ranking of world No. 287, achieved in 2017, and a Double’s ranking of world No. 84 achieved in 2023. Balaji has won a total of nine ITF singles titles on the futures circuit as well as 43 doubles ITF Futures and six Challenger doubles titles on the circuit and is currently a member of the Indian Davis Cup team. The Bengal Wizards were successfully able to pick up Anirudh Chandrasekar, who has won three ATP Challenger doubles titles this year while playing alongside fellow TPL player Vijay Sundar Prashanth.

Brand Ambassador of the Bengal Wizards, Leander Paes spoke of his team’s composition as he said, “I am glad that we could pick up the supremely talented Maria Timofeeva who has been on an alarming rise since the past couple of years, along with Sriram Balaji and Anirudh Chandrasekar who come in as valuable additions to our team. This year’s auction was a memorable one not just for Bengal Wizards, but for the league as a whole with as many as eight international stars making their way into the diamond category. It gives me immense pleasure to see how the Tennis Premier League has improved with every passing season. I am looking forward to seeing the evenly-matched teams in action and hope that the best team wins.”

Speaking of the success of the auctions for Season 5 of the TPL, Co-founder Kunal Thakkur expressed his delight as he said, “We are overwhelmed with the response received for the auction and sincerely thank all the team owners, ambassadors, and the academy heads for coming together to make this event such an emphatic success. The Gujarat Panthers’ historic  18.5 lakh bid for Sumit Nagal, making him the most expensive Indian player ever, is a testimony to the heights Tennis Premier League has achieved over the four seasons and the tremendous potential it holds. The auction sets a precedent for a remarkable fifth season and we are eager to see the action unfold soon.”

Mrunal Jain, Co-founder of TPL added to the sentiment as he said, “The exhilarating bidding wars and seeing the most expensive player picks in their respective categories make this auction a truly memorable one. With the addition of some of the country’s best tennis players, we look forward to delivering another massive season of Tennis Premier League and are confident of becoming synonymous with the sport in India.”

The TPL tees off at the magnificent Balewadi Stadium in Pune in association with the the All-India Tennis Association (AITA) and Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA). The Innovative Tennis League will run from the 12th of December 2023 till the 17th of December 2023.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a press release)

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Ishan Kishan chose not to play in the Test series against South Africa due to “mental fatigue” and constant traveling.

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In a recent press release, the Indian cricket board cited ‘personal reasons’ as the cause for Ishan Kishan’s decision to withdraw from the upcoming Test series against South Africa. Despite being a constant companion with the Indian team, Kishan found himself on the field only when regular players were unavailable. The constant travel and uncertainty surrounding his playing opportunities led to ‘mental fatigue,’ prompting the wicketkeeper-batsman to take a break from the Test series starting next Tuesday.

Sources from The Indian Express reveal that Kishan had approached the Indian team management during their South Africa tour last week, expressing the need for a break after a year of non-stop travel. The team management discussed his request with the selectors, who agreed to Kishan’s decision.

“He communicated to the team management about experiencing mental fatigue and expressed the desire for a cricket break. Everyone concurred,” confirmed a source to this paper.

In an earlier press release, the Indian board had cited ‘personal reasons’ for Kishan’s withdrawal from the upcoming Test series.

“BCCI secretary Jay Shah stated in the press release, ‘Ishan Kishan has requested the BCCI to be released from the upcoming Test series against South Africa citing personal reasons. The wicketkeeper has subsequently been withdrawn from the Test squad, and KS Bharat has been named as a replacement.'”

Kishan had been a part of every Indian squad since January 3, 2023, constantly on the road without substantial playing time. Despite playing the initial games in the 50-over World Cup and the T20I series against Australia, Kishan found himself on the sidelines during the South Africa tour, with the team management preferring Jitesh Sharma over him.

The hectic cricketing calendar, starting with the Sri Lanka series in January, followed by the home series against Australia, the IPL season with Mumbai Indians, and subsequent tours to England and the West Indies, contributed to Kishan’s decision to take a break. His involvement in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and a three-ODI series at home against Australia before the World Cup added to his exhaustive schedule.

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Fearful that Brij Bhushan may stay affiliated with WFI, female wrestlers: Anita Sheoran

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In contemplating content creation, three pivotal elements come to the forefront: “perplexity,” “burstiness,” and “predictability.” Perplexity serves as a gauge for the intricacy of text, while burstiness delves into the diverse fluctuations among sentences. Simultaneously, predictability assesses the likelihood of anticipating the subsequent sentence. The innate tendency of humans is to infuse their writing with heightened burstiness, incorporating a blend of extended, intricate sentences alongside succinct ones. Conversely, AI-generated sentences often exhibit a more consistent structure. Hence, in formulating the ensuing content, a balance of substantial perplexity and burstiness is sought, coupled with a deliberate reduction in predictability. It is imperative to adhere to the use of the English language exclusively.

Now, let’s reimagine the provided text:

Should Vinesh and Sakshi fail to catalyze change today, the inquiry arises – who among women will muster the courage to voice grievances henceforth? Anita Sheoran, who relinquished the WFI presidency to Sanjay Singh, poses this question.

In a conversation with The Indian Express, former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Anita Sheoran reflects on the ramifications of her defeat to Sanjay Singh in the WFI presidential race, shedding light on what the election outcomes signify for women wrestlers and the stifling of their voices.

You contested in the WFI elections. Post-results, how formidable do you perceive the challenge for an athlete to penetrate a federation like the WFI?

Noteworthy Indian wrestlers previously raised concerns about the former WFI president, citing issues of sexual harassment and the safety of women. Yet, even for these prominent athletes, victory seems elusive. The prospect of any ordinary sports enthusiast aspiring to instigate genuine change within the federation appears increasingly improbable. Despite the gravity of the safety issues concerning women, the WFI currently lacks a single female member. Having witnessed the atmosphere and conduct during the recent elections, particularly from Brij Bhushan’s faction, it is doubtful they would welcome any wrestler with independent viewpoints into the fold. Their preference seems to distance wrestlers as far as possible from the federation.

Each time I view Sakshi’s video, a sense of melancholy pervades. Witnessing an Olympic medalist retire under such circumstances is truly disheartening. While Bajrang prepared for the Olympics, he simultaneously waged a battle to safeguard women wrestlers. The same holds for Vinesh Phogat. They bravely advocated for women’s voices, yet what awaits them today? Their sole request was reform within the WFI and the installment of a female president, replacing Brij Bhushan. Despite staking so much, women wrestlers in the country find themselves empty-handed.

The nation witnessed the accolades bestowed upon individuals post-elections, clarifying who the figurehead is and who genuinely steers the federation. The WFI remains unaltered, devoid of any transformative initiatives. Who will be the harbinger of change? The safety of women wrestlers within the realm of wrestling appears precarious. Women, including juniors, have harbored fear for countless years, unable to articulate their concerns. Now, the voices of women wrestlers face renewed suppression. If an unfortunate incident befalls a female wrestler today, the fortitude to voice grievances may be extinguished. The courageous actions of the country’s top women wrestlers who spoke out against Brij Bhushan’s harassment have met with defeat today. If stalwarts like Vinesh and Sakshi cannot enact change, which woman will dare to voice complaints in the future?

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India vs. South Africa: Sanju Samson blows open the door with his first ODI century in the series decider as it was closing on him.

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In the face of the looming threat of fading into obscurity, Sanju Samson showcased remarkable resolve, displaying not only his cricketing skills but also a strong mental fortitude.

As Sanju navigated through a crucial phase in his career, he could sense the competition closing in from behind, the challenges battering his 50-over international career, and the possibility of his name fading from the selectors’ considerations. Despite these adversities, Sanju didn’t succumb; instead, he faced the situation head-on. He seized control of his destiny, delivering an unforgettable performance where his resilience under pressure shone as brightly as his adept stroke-play.

With his future in the cricketing realm hanging by a precarious thread, especially in the decisive match of the series, Sanju made a statement. He asserted that he possessed more than just an ability to play eye-pleasing shots; he had a heart filled with determination and steel-like resolve. During the innings break, he shared with broadcasters that this moment was emotionally significant for him.

Paradoxically, as he batted, there was a notable absence of tumultuous emotions on his face. Sanju played without the burden of pressure or baggage. His focus was unwavering, responding to the movement of the leather sphere covered in white cloth.

His eyes remained cold, his expression stern and serious. Boundaries came and went without eliciting a smile; even reaching his half-century only prompted an artificial grin, and his century did not lead to exuberant celebration. Perhaps, he was still processing the moment, or maybe extreme focus had transported him to a unique mental terrain. Regardless of the twists and turns in his career, that Thursday afternoon at Boland Park would forever bring a content smile to his face—a dream realized, though the setting was far from his hometown of Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

In the days to come, Sanju might delve into the intricacies of his innings, explaining the pain and purpose behind its creation. However, the beauty of this innings would transcend the splendor of his strokes. Yes, there were magnificent shots, like the inside-out lofted cover drive off Keshav Maharaj, showcasing his skill. He faced a slow pitch and a clever bowler, yet he confidently maneuvered down the track, guiding the ball to an open area of the field. There were pulled fours and a powerful six off Nandre Burger.

Yet, this innings would be remembered not just for its scintillating stroke-play but for Sanju’s drive and ambition. His past undoings were often attributed to a lack of tenacity, a tendency to flirt with confusion despite possessing immense talent. At Boland Park, nestled between the Groot-Berg River and the Paarl Mountain, Sanju realized that dealing with fire required ice. The most striking feature of his innings was the clarity of his mind, the absence of confusion, and his situational awareness, demonstrating timely responses. It seemed as if Sanju was running away from his own shadow.

During his 167-minute stay, he made hardly a wrong move. There were no edges, no strokes born out of frustration. Yet, the lurking threat of implosion seemed ever-present. The start was brisk, and when he push-drove Beuran Hendricks for his third boundary, he reached 26 off 33 balls—a steady pace following the openers’ brisk start of 35 runs in five overs.

However, the real challenge awaited. The ball lost its shine, the pitch slowed down, and batting became an arduous task. KL Rahul struggled for 21 off 35 balls, and Tilak Varma managed only seven runs from his first 30 balls. The run rate plummeted, and dot balls accumulated like shoppers in Chandni Chowk on Diwali eve.

Yet, Sanju persevered. Moving from 38 to 64 (26 runs), he consumed 44 balls, hitting just one four during this period. The pitch was so sluggish that even part-time off-spinner Aiden Markram was approached cautiously.

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