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Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo Hitting Top Gear Ahead Of Atletico Clash

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Real Sociedad winger Takefusa Kubo has waited a long time to make good on his potential but finally he is shining in La Liga. The Japan international has scored four goals in his last four league games and is the Basque team’s key figure ahead of the visit to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Imanol Alguacil’s side have plenty of other dangerous weapons, including Brais Mendez, Mikel Oyarzabal and Mikel Merino, but Kubo is playing particularly well. With victory on Sunday La Real, fifth, could overtake Atletico and climb into fourth place, which is where they finished last season to qualify for the Champions League.

Atletico are in formidable form after a convincing derby win over rivals and league leaders Real Madrid and two impressive comeback wins over Cadiz and Feyenoord, the latter in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Real Sociedad have started well in Europe themselves, dominating last season runners-up Inter Milan albeit in a draw before pocketing a 2-0 win at Salzburg on Tuesday.

Kubo has five strikes in La Liga, with only Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham ahead of him on six.

The 22-year-old’s most recent came in the 3-0 Basque derby win over Athletic Bilbao which cemented La Real’s status as the region’s current best side.

Kubo celebrated in humourous fashion, appearing to pull up injured before breaking out into a “twerk” dance move.

Athletic defender Yuri Berchiche twice clipped him around the head as he jogged back for the restart.

“I was calmly going back to my own half and I was hit twice, I realised it was Yuri who was very angry,” said Kubo.

“I didn’t want to get involved … if I go down there it’s probably a red, but I didn’t want to.”

The winger has become known for his honest post-match interviews, which he conducts in a chatty and jovial demeanour.

If circumstances had been slightly different, Kubo could be at one of Spain’s traditional big two.

Barcelona brought him to La Masia at age 10, before the club were hit with a punishment for breaking rules in the signing of youth players.

Kubo was forced to leave, heading back to Japan, and was eventually signed by Real Madrid in 2019.

Los Blancos loaned him to Mallorca, Getafe and Villarreal, where he did not find much success, and eventually sold him to Real Sociedad in 2022.

Kubo has said he saw La Real as a last chance to make it at the top level and grasped it with both hands.

The visit to the Metropolitano will be another opportunity to showcase his status as one of La Liga’s best players, after a complicated climb to the summit.

Real Madrid host Osasuna on Saturday looking to extend their one-point advantage on champions Barcelona, who visit lowly Granada on Sunday.

La Liga’s top goalscorer Bellingham continued his superb form by helping Los Blancos snatch a 3-2 win at Napoli on Tuesday in the Champions League.

Girona, third, face Cadiz in Andalucia where they hope to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat by Real Madrid last weekend which brought them down to earth after they topped the table.

Player to watch: Inaki WilliamsThe Ghana international forward has started the season in fine form, showing the finishing quality he has not always produced so consistently. He has scored three times in his last four games. Williams will look to keep filling his boots on Friday against bottom side Almeria.

Key stats2 – Betis teenager Assane Diao, 18, is the youngest player to score on each of his first two La Liga starts in the 21st century

16 – Rayo Vallecano full-back Alfonso Espino has completed more tackles than any other player

95.4 – Barcelona centre-back Andreas Christensen holds the best pass completion percentage in the top flight

Fixtures

Friday

Athletic Bilbao v Almeria

Saturday

Cadiz v Girona, Real Madrid v Osasuna, Real Mallorca v Valencia, Sevilla v Rayo Vallecano

Sunday

Villarreal v Las Palmas, Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad, Alaves v Real Betis, Celta Vigo v Getafe, Granada v Barcelona

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

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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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