Thursday, 6 October 2016

Raina returns to India's ODI squad for New Zealand series

Batsman Suresh Raina staged a comeback while Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav was the lone new face in India's 15-member ODI squad for the first three games of a five-match series against New Zealand starting October 16.

Raina, who had been rested from the ODI series against Zimbabwe in June, returns to the fold even as senior off-spinner R Ashwin, pacer Mohammed Shami and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja were given a break.

Medium pacer Jasprit Bumrah, batsman Mandeep Singh and Kedar Jadhav were included in the squad announced by new Chairman of selectors M S K Prasad after a meeting of the committee in Mumbai on Thursday.

The team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, retained batsman Manish Pandey, while paceman Umesh Yadav was brought back into the team after missing the Zimbabwe tour. 

India Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni(Capt), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Umesh Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav. 

The first match of the series will be held at Dharamsala (October 16), followed by games in Delhi (October 20), Mohali (October 23), Ranchi (October 26), and Visakhapatnam (October 29).


Squad for Men’s Asian Champions Trophy 2016 Hockey tounament announced

Hockey India today announced the squad for the fourth edition of the Asian Champions Trophy organized by the Asian Hockey Federation which will be held in Kuantan, Malaysia, starting 20 October 2016.
The 18-member squad will be led by goalkeeper P.R Sreejesh while 24-year-old midfielder Manpreet Singh will be his deputy for the tournament.

Defender Jasjit Singh Kular, from India’s hockey hub Sansarpur, finds himself in the squad and will be expected to double-up as drag flicker in place of V R Raghunath who is rested for the tournament. Making a strong comeback after a long lay-off due to injury is Birendra Lakra, who showed his prowess in the recently held Obaidullah Khan Heritage Hockey Cup in Bhopal and the MCC-Murugappa Cup in Chennai. He will form India’s defence along with the experienced Rupinder Pal Singh, Kothajit Singh, Surender Kumar and Pardeep Mor.
While the midfield line-up remains unchanged, the forwardline will miss Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh. The duo will be replaced by Talwinder Singh and Lalit Kumar Upadhyay.
Scheduled two months after the Olympic Games, the men’s Asian Champions Trophy will see India, Korea, Japan, China and hosts Malaysia challenge defending champions Pakistan. “The Asian Champions Trophy is an important tournament for us and going by the world rankings, India will go in as favourites to win the title. The team has been upbeat since their return to the camp after the Olympic Games and are eager to start the season on a winning note,” expressed Roelant Oltmans, Chief Coach India Men Hockey Team and Director High Performance.
Meanwhile, Captain P.R Sreejesh emphasised on playing with caution. “We may be the top ranked team in Asia right now but no team can be taken lightly. The defending Champions (Pakistan) are known to spring a surprise and Korea too will be a team to watch out for as they have been playing good quality hockey lately,” stated the goalkeeper.


Goalkeepers1. P.R Sreejesh (Captain)
2. Akash Chikte
Defenders3. Rupinder Pal Singh
4. Pardeep Mor
5. Jasjit Singh Kular
6. Birendra Lakra
7. Kothajit Singh
8. Surender Kumar
Midfielders9. Chinglensana Singh Kangujam
10. Manpreet Singh (Vice Captain)
11. Sardar Singh
12. S.K Uthappa
13. Devindar Walmiki
Forwards14. Talwinder Singh
15. S.V Sunil
16. Lalit Kumar Upadhyay
17. Nikkin Thimmaiah
18. Affan Yousuf
source: Hockey India

Sharapova's doping ban cut from 2 years to 15 months

Maria Sharapova's doping ban was reduced from two years to 15 months today, meaning the Russiantennis star can come back in April and return to Grand Slam play at the French Open.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport cut nine months off the suspension imposed on Sharapova, who tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player, appealed to CAS in June seeking to overturn or reduce the two-year suspension imposed by the International Tennis Federation.

The CAS panel found that Sharapova "bore some degree of fault" for the positive test, saying a 15-month sanction was "appropriate."

The ban took effect on Jan. 26 and was originally due to run until Jan. 25, 2018. Now she will be eligible to return nearly a year earlier.

"I've gone from one of the toughest days of my career last March when I learned about my suspension to now, one of my happiest days, as I found out I can return to tennis in April," Sharapova said in a statement.

"In so many ways, I feel like something I love was taken away from me and it will feel really good to have it back," she added. "Tennis is my passion and I have missed it. I am counting the days until I can return to the court."

Steve Simon, CEO of the WTA tour, welcomed the ruling.

"We are pleased that the process is now at completion and can look forward to seeing Maria back on court in 2017," he said.

An independent ITF panel had found that Sharapova did not intend to cheat but that she bore "sole responsibility" and "very significant fault" for the positive test.

The panel also said the case "inevitably led to the conclusion" that she took the substance "for the purpose of enhancing her performance."

Sharapova acknowledged taking meldoni um before each match at the Australian Open, where she lost in the quarterfinals to Serena Williams.

Sharapova said she was not aware that meldonium, also known as mildronate, had been included on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances from Jan. 1, 2016.

The ITF said she also tested positive for meldonium in an out-of-competition control in Moscow on Feb. 2.

The 29-year-old Sharapova missed this year's French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, as well as the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sharapova said she was first prescribed the Latvian-made drug, typically used for heart conditions, by her family doctor for various medical issues in 2006. She cited a bout of the flu, possible onset of diabetes and a magnesium deficiency.

Meldonium increases blood flow, which improves exercise capacity by carrying more oxygen to the muscles.

More than 100 athletes, including many Russians and other eastern Europeans, tested positive for meldonium early in the year.

Some escaped with no sanctions because they argued successfully that they stopped taking the drug before Jan. 1 and that traces had lingered in their system. Sharapova, however, acknowledged that she used meldonium after Jan. 1.

Pakistan barred from Kabaddi World Cup in India

The 12-nation Kabaddi World Cup kicks off this week in India, with a row over a decision to bar arch-rivals Pakistan from competing threatening to overshadow the tag-wrestling sport's showcase event.

Formidable Iran clash with newcomers the United States in Friday's opening round of the competition that also includes top sides from Australia, South Korea, England, Poland, Kenya and Argentina.

With the World Cup last staged nine years ago, teams are relishing the chance to compete in the two-week event being held in India's western city of Ahmedabad.

But the traditional South Asian sport that mixes tag and wrestling and is growing in popularity has been hit with controversy over a decision to exclude highly fancied Pakistan.

International Kabaddi Federation (IKF) chief Deoraj Chaturvedi, who is from India, said Pakistan has been denied entry because of a spike in tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations.

"This is not the right time to engage with Pakistan," Chaturvedi said.

"Pakistan is a valuable member of the IKF but looking at the current scenario and in the best interest of both the nations, we decided that Pakistan must be refrained from the championship."

Pakistan accused the IKF of unfairly targeting the country, saying both rival nations should have been excluded if there were security concerns.

"We have called a meeting to discuss this issue but let me tell you that a Kabaddi World Cup is no world cup without Pakistan," said Pakistan kabaddi federation secretary Rana Muhammad Sarwar.

"This is just like a football world cup without Brazil," Sarwar said.

Pakistan captain Nasir Ali said his players had been favourites to clinch the cup after defeating India at the six-nation Kabaddi Cup held in Pakistan in May and last month's Asian Beach Games in Vietnam.

"We were hoping to win the world cup in India by beating India," Ali said, adding that fans were being denied matches between the top two sides.

Hostilities between the nations have flared after India said last week it conducted military strikes inside Pakistan against militants, sparking fury from Islamabad.

The strikes came after gunmen staged the deadliest attack on an Indian army base in more than a decade, which an enraged New Delhi blamed on Pakistani-based militants.

The World Cup comes as the ancient game, played in sandy parks across India for generations and once tagged with a dowdy image, is enjoying a new lease of life.

The Pro Kabaddi League, launched in India in 2014 with live television coverage, corporate sponsors and brightly coloured lyrca strips, has proved hugely popular and drawn players from Iran and South Korea.

Iran's skipper Meraj Sheykh, who has played in the league's last three editions, said his side had grown stronger by playing in India and other international tournaments.

"We have more young players playing for us now and they have the experience of playing in India," Sheykh told the Times of India newspaper.

Kabaddi requires yoga-like breathing skills as two seven-member teams send a raider into their enemy's half of the court to tag an opponent before returning - in just one breath. 

The 2016-17 season of the Ranji Trophy will start from Thursday.

For the first time, 28 teams will be taking part in the tournament's 83rd edition, with new entrants Chhattisgarh making their way into a ten-team Group C.

The Ranji Trophy had become a 27-team affair with the addition of Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Tripura in 1985-86. Thereafter, though the format of the competition changed often, the number of teams remained constant. The only change was Jharkhand replacing Bihar in 2004-05.

Russia beat India 1 - 0 in BRICS U–17 Football tournament

India failed to capitalise on the numerical superiority in the second half as they lost 0-1 to 10-man Russia in their opening match of the BRICS U-17 football tournament at GMC Stadium on Wednesday.

The all-important goal for Russia was scored by Lopatin Daniil in the 4th minute. The Indians made an all out attempt in search of the equaliser but the rival defence and keeper did well to deny the hosts the equaliser.

Russia, who used their superior height to their advantage, used the long ball to unnerve the Indian defence and succeeded in taking an early lead in the 4th minute through Lopatin Daniil. 

India vs Russia on 05.10.2016

The early goal gave them the advantage as they had better ball possession in first half. The Indians did put pressure on the visitors occasionally but could not breach the rival defence who thwarted their moves.

Russia were reduced to ten men four minutes after resumption after Unimov Nail received a red card from referee for a dangerous foul on substitute Aniket and the home team built up pressure and tried to make inroads.

But their moves were foiled by the Russian defence, with substitute Aman Chetri coming close to scoring midway in the second half when his left footer missed the target narrowly.

The home team enjoyed better ball possession in the second half, made desperate attempt to find the equaliser in the closing stage bur the Russian defence did well to keep their slate clean.

(PTI inputs)