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Sunil Kumar Wins India’s First Greco Roman Medal At Asian Games Since 2010

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Practising defence from ground position in the last three weeks with top wrestlers worked wonders for Sunil Kumar, who won India’s first Greco Roman medal at the Asian Games in 13 years, bagging a bronze in the 87kg category even as three of his compatriots exited the tournament on Wednesday. Up against Kyrgyzstan’s Atabek Azisbekov, the Indian wrestler fought a strategic bout in which twice he defended well from ‘par terre’ position, denying his opponent a scoring opportunity from the ground position for a 2-1 win. He kept sliding in circles on his right, not letting Azisbekov get a grip to lift him from ground. It was Azisbekov, who got on board first with a passivity point in the first period. Sunil levelled the score on Azisbekov’s passivity as a major part of the bronze play-off was shorn of attacking moves. (Asian Games Medals Tally)

The Indian camp also successfully challenged the referee’s two-point decision given in favour of Azisbekov, who had managed to throw Sunil out but was not in control of the push-out move.

Sunil was already ahead on criteria and got the decisive point towards the end when his rival lost a challenge.

India had won two medals in Greco Roman in the Guangzhou edition with Ravinder Singh (60kg) and Sunil Kumar Rana (66kg) winning a bronze each in 2010.

“The defence from the ground position is the biggest weakness in India’s Greco Roman wrestlers. We specifically worked on this aspect during our 18-day training stint in Azerbaijan, where we made Sunil practice with top wrestlers including the world champion in his category,” Manoj Dhankar, India’s Greco Roman coach at Asian Games told PTI.

“We had five world champions there. On days, we would ask Sunil to practice only defence from ground position. He would practice defence from ‘par terre’ at-least 50 times a day. It worked well here,” Dhankar, who himself is an Asian Gamed medallist, added.

India’s chief coach Hargobind Singh said the draw was such that they expected a medal from Sunil.

“We knew it will be difficult to beat Iran. Sunil was expected to beat the Kyrgyzstan wrestler since he does not enjoy good results against the Indians. He has lost twice to Harpreet Singh in the past,” said Singh.

Sunil had begun with a close 4-3 win over China’s Fei Ping and followed that up with a technical superiority victory over Tajikistan’s Sukhrob Abdulkhaev, winning the quarterfinal in the first period itself.

The 2020 Asian champion then bumped into formidable reigning Asian champion Naser Alizadeh from Iran and lost 1-4 to go out of the gold medal race.

The other Indians in contention — Gyanender (60kg), Neeraj (67kg) and Vikas (77kg) — could not even win a single round.

Gyanender lost his opening bout 1-7 to Iran’s Meysam Dalkhani, while Neeraj lost 3-5 to Uzbekistan’s Makhmud Bakhshilloev.

Vikas lost his bout by technical superiority to China’s Rui Liu.

On Thursday, the two remaining Indian Greco Roman wrestlers — Narinder Cheema (97kg) and Naveen (130kg) — will present their challenge.

The women’s competition will also begin on Thursday and fast-rising Antim Panghal (53kg) will be in action along with the talented Pooja Gehlot (50kg) and Mansi Ahlawat (57kg).

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Debutants Jaipur Patriots Draft Sreeja Akula As First pick Ahead Of UTT 2024

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The Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) franchises put their thinking caps on and found a way to pick the best possible squads for UTT 2024 at the Player Draft on Wednesday. The upcoming season of the league is scheduled to be held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai from August 22 to September 7 and will feature eight teams for the first time and a total of 48 players, including 16 foreigners. Newcomers Jaipur Patriots, who got the first pick in Round 1, went for in-form India star and current World No. 25 Sreeja Akula, who recently became the first Indian to clinch a WTT Contender singles title.

Puneri Paltan Table Tennis, who chose not to retain a player, picked Ayhika Mukherjee to kick off proceedings. Ahmedabad SG Pipers, the other franchise to make their UTT debut, went for Manush Shah as their first choice and then bagged the services of women’s World No.10 Bernadette Szocs of Romania in the second round.

The franchise-based league is promoted by Niraj Bajaj and Vita Dani under the auspices of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). “Today’s Player Draft is a testimony to the fact that some of the best players in the world now want to come and play in the UTT. We are very excited for UTT 2024. This is the first time we have eight teams, and we want to make this even bigger and better. We wish all the teams the best of luck for the upcoming season,” said UTT promoters Vita Dani and Niraj Bajaj.

A total of 48 players, including 16 foreigners, will be in action as teams finalised their six-member squads after the Player Draft.

“More or less, what we had discussed and strategised we got what we wanted. We wanted Sreeja and we got her in the first pick. We have a strong squad and we are confident that we can go all the way,” said Jaipur Patriots COO Imran Shaikh.

“SG Sports prides itself in getting a balanced team with excellent support staff, and we hope to create an environment of camaraderie and togetherness in the team. We’ve enjoyed success in other leagues and other sports with this same formula, so just looking to continue the same thing,” said Kartikeya Rao of Ahmedabad SG Pipers.

U Mumba TT went with the tried and tested formula by once again picking Nigerian star paddler and World No.19 Aruna Quadri. They also picked Asian Games bronze medallist Sutirtha Mukherjee. “Really glad about the way the draft went for us at U Mumba. There are no gaping holes in our squad. We were a bit worried about certain areas before the draft, but things worked out quite well and overall, I am very happy with the balance we have got,” said U Mumba CEO Suhail Chandhok.

PBG Bengaluru Smashers will have Alvaro Robles of Spain and Lily Zhang of the USA to support their retained star, Manika Batra.

“I am extremely happy with the squad we have got. Having retained Manika Batra, we have managed to pick the experienced duo of Alvaro Robles and Lily Zhang as foreign internationals, with Anthony Amalraj and Jeet Chandra as the perfect support cast for Indian men’s paddlers. Talented young paddler Taneesha Kotecha also comes as a great addition, and we are confident that this team will present a strong challenge,” said PBG Bengaluru Smashers owner Punit Balan.

Defending champions Goa Challengers, who had retained India star Harmeet Desai ahead of the draft, have a completely new look. They picked Yangzi Liu of Australia alongside young Indian paddlers Yashaswini Ghorpade and Sayali Wani. Mihai Bobocica of Italy, who had competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, will be their foreign men’s paddler.

“The drafting process is always very exciting, although we were a tad unlucky with pick number five during the drafting process. We had the same pick last year and we won the trophy. Hoping to replicate the same this year,” commented Vivek Bhargava, the owner of Goa Challengers.

Last edition’s runners-up Chennai Lions also went for a fresh look, with Japan’s Sakura Mori, Frenchman Jules Rolland, and local stars Poymantee Baisya, Mouma Das, and Abhinandh P.B. joining Indian table tennis legend Achanta Sharath Kamal, who was retained by the team. “We have a very mature team, some youngsters as well, but generally a very mature team. I’m quite happy with the picks that we’ve got considering the spot,” said G.S Ravi, owner of Chennai Lions.

Dabang Delhi will rely on Sathiyan G. along with Andreas Levenko of Austria. They also added young Indian paddlers Diya Chitale, Lakshita Narang, and Yashansh Malik to their squad.

“The draft was good for us. We anticipated we had an auction strategy in place, and for us, it has worked out well. The majority of the players that we had anticipated as part of the strategy we’ve got there,” said Durganath Wagle, CEO, Dabang Delhi TTC.

Squads:

Ahmedabad SG Pipers: Manush Shah, Bernadette Szocs (Romania), Lilian Bardet (France), Reeth Tennison, Pritha Vartikar, Jash Modi

Chennai Lions: Achanta Sharath Kamal, Sakura Mori (Japan), Jules Rolland (France), Poymantee Baisya, Mouma Das, Abhinandh PB

Dabang Delhi TTC: Sathiyan G, Orawan Paranang (Thailand), Diya Chitale, Andreas Levenko (Austria), Yashansh Malik, Lakshita Narang

Goa Challengers: Harmeet Desai, Yangzi Liu (Australia), Yashaswini Ghorpade, Sudhanshu Grover, Sayali Wani, Mihai Bobocica (Italy)

Jaipur Patriots: Sreeja Akula, Cho Seungmin (South Korea), Suthasini Sawettabut (Thailand), Snehit SFR, Ronit Bhanja, Moumita Dutta

PBG Bengaluru Smashers: Manika Batra, Alvaro Robles (Spain), Lily Zhang (USA), Jeet Chandra, Taneesha Kotecha, Amalraj Anthony

Puneri Paltan Table Tennis: Ayhika Mukherjee, Nina Mittelham (Germany), Joao Monteiro (Portugal), Ankur Bhattacharjee, Anirban Ghosh, Yashini Sivashankar

U Mumba TT: Manav Thakkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Aruna Quadri (Nigeria), Akash Pal, Kavyasree Baskar, Maria Xiao (Spain)

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

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“2 Overpaid Guys Playing IPL Final”: Mitchell Starc Reveals Hilarious Chat With Pat Cummins

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After SRH paid Rs 20.5 crore for Pat Cummins, KKR splashed Rs 24.75 crore on Mitchell Starc.© BCCI




Records tumbled during the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction last year as the Rs 20 crore mark was breached not once, but twice. After SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) signed Australia captain Pat Cummins for Rs 20.5 crore, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) broke the record once again, splashing Rs 24.75 crore on Mitchell Starc. The bidding sequence received some mixed response from fans and experts. While some justified the price, there were some who were left wondering about whether the duo deserved such high a bid.

While Starc was pretty expensive during the group stage of IPL 2024, he came when it mattered the most, delivering match-winning performances in Qualifier 1 and the final.

Cummins, on the other hand, thrived on his leadership role at SRH, and was instrumental in taking his team to the final, where the 2016 champions lost to Starc’s KKR.

During a recent interaction, Starc has now admitted that both him and Cummins were a bit overpaid, and also revealed that the two had laugh about it. 

“Did Laugh. Pat & I got paid a fair bit. We played the first game & nine weeks later we play again in finals. Suddenly it goes from 2 overpaid guys to these 2 are playing the final,” Starc said on Willow Talk Cricket Podcast.

Recently, former Australia pacer Brett Lee ignored his compatriots while naming the best bowler across formats currently. He described India’s Jasprit Bumrah as the best bowler in the world.

“He is the best bowler in all formats right now and leads the attack. Bumrah can keep up an amazing pace while shaping the new ball away. His tournament performance demonstrated his leadership abilities, taking about 15 wickets with remarkable economy. He is absolutely exceptional, and India is deserving of praise for their accomplishments,” added the former Aussie pacer.

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PCB Retain Muhammad Yusuf, Asad Shafiq In Revamped Selection Panel

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File image of Muhammad Yusuf© X (Twitter)




The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has retained former players Muhammad Yousuf and Asad Shafiq in the revamped selection committee which will pick the teams for the home Test series against Bangladesh next month. Yousuf and Shafiq were members of the previous selection committee which picked the T20 World Cup squad. The PCB sacked members Wahab Riaz and Abdul Razzaq after the team failed to go beyond the first round in the mega event but surprisingly has retained Yousuf and Shafiq.

Yousuf was also the batting coach of the Pakistan team while Wahab also served as senior team manager on the tours to Ireland, England and in the World Cup.

The new committee will also include the captains and head coaches of the red and white-ball teams. All the members including Yousuf and Shafiq will hold voting rights and have decision-making authority.

In a new development, the board has also nominated assistant team coach Azhar Mahmood and four of its board members/employees as the non-voting members of the committee.

These include the advisor to PCB Chairman Bilal Afzal, Manager of Analytics and Team Strategy Hassan Cheema, Director of High-Performance Nadeem Khan, and Director of International Cricket Usman Wahla.

The restructured committee will be responsible for selecting the squad for the two-Test series against Bangladesh, which is part of the World Test Championship (WTC) 2023-25 cycle.

Bangladesh will face Pakistan in two Tests, with matches scheduled in Rawalpindi from August 21-25 and in Karachi from August 30-September 3.

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

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