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Tokyo Insights: Manpreet’s team needs to pull up its socks



Mumbai, July 26 What defines a good team is how well it rises after a big defeat. The Indian men’s hockey team’s mettle will be tested truly on Tuesday when it takes on Spain in a Group A match after the 7-1 thrashing it received at the hands of world No 1 Australia.

Considering that India have never beaten Australia in Olympics in the last few decades, Manpreet Singh and his team had a tough task when they went into the match against Australia.

“We knew it was going to be the toughest game for us, and I feel we lagged somewhere. The story would have been different if we had converted those early chances, and I think converting chances in the early stages of the match plays a very important role. But, in the end, you must respect your opponents, who played better hockey on a particular day,” said Manpreet.

But they would have never imagined the humiliating scoreline even in their worst nightmares. What was more galling is that there was lack of fight put up by the Indians in the second and fourth quarters.

Former India star Joaquim Carvalho singled out the inexperienced forward line, open and aggressive play against an opponent on the rampage, and leaden-footed defenders as the cause of India’s humiliating defeat.

India had started their Tokyo Olympics campaign with a narrow 3-2 win against New Zealand. But it were the Black Sticks’ trans-Tasman neighbours the Indians have found their nemesis many a time — the 8-0 pasting in the 2010 Commonwealth Games final in New Delhi is an example of another embarrassing outing for the Indians against the Kookaburras.

Sunday’s defeat came at the biggest stage — the Olympic Games in which India have a proud and glorious record having won eight gold medals.

The only thing the Indian hockey can do now is pull up their socks and put up a better performance against Spain, which is struggling after suffering a narrow defeat against New Zealand on Sunday. They had started well by holding Rio Olympics gold medallist Argentina but the defeat against the Black Sticks was a big setback. Thus, Australia are on top of the table with six points, Argentina second at four points with New Zealand and India tied at three points from one win and one defeat. Spain have one point from a draw and Japan have none, having lost both their matches.

Sunday’s 1-7 rout against Australia not only hits the team’s morale but also drastically brings down the goal difference, which will finally come into play in case India and another team are tied on the same number of points and the same number of wins at the end of the group stage. India now have a goal difference of -5 (minus 5).

The best way forward for India at this moment is to win all three of their remaining matches. But that is easier said than done, especially after Sunday’s performance.

Skipper Manpreet Singh is aware that they have to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and win the match against Spain.

“As I said earlier, we are taking one match at a time, and we need to keep improving every day on a platform like this. Spain are also a very good team, and definitely, it’s going to be a challenging match for us, but we are up for it. All we have to do is to keep things simple and play to our strengths,” Manpreet was quoted as saying by Hockey India in a release.

The match against Spain will be very crucial for India because losing that match will hamper their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals — four teams from the six in the group will reach the last-eight stage.

Spain have a very good team and they can be very tricky opponents — like Argentina found out on July 24.

The Indians will have to make the most of their chances — especially on the penalty corners of which they missed six against the Aussies. They also have to defend well and in numbers and not allow the Spaniards many chances.

If they get past the Spaniards, they will have another challenge in the form of Argentina. That would be a matter for another day.


You will see me in yellow but not sure as player, says Dhoni on playing for CSK in 2022



Dubai, Oct 7: Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni on Thursday said that fans will see him in ‘yellow in IPL 2022, but he doesn’t know if he will be part of the franchise as a player or in some other role.

Dhoni, who has been CSK’s captain since the inaugural edition of the IPL in 2008, highlighted that there is a ‘lot of uncertainty’ because of the two new teams coming in and the mega auction, next year.

“Well, you can see me in yellow next year. But whether I will be playing for CSK? There are a lot of uncertainties around it for a simple reason that we have two new teams coming up. We don’t know the retention policy. We don’t know how many foreigners, Indian players we can retain, the money cap that every player will be cutting from the kitty,” said 40-year-old at the toss ahead of CSK’s match against Punjab Kings in Dubai.

“So there are a lot of uncertainties. Unless the rules are in place you can’t really decide that. So we will wait for it to happen and hopefully it will be good for everyone,” he added.

The former India captain also mentioned that it has been difficult to maintain fitness this season due to back to back matches in the UAE leg of the 2021 IPL.

“It’s tough to maintain fitness. Once the IPL was postponed, it meant there will be back-to-back games (whenever the tournament resumes). We had that sort of a stretch but, looks good, no concern with fitness,” said Dhoni.

Dhoni, who has led CSK to three IPL titles, earlier indicated that he will be playing his farewell game in Chennai.

The 40-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman in an event celebrating 75 years of India Cements, earlier had said that he hopes to play his last IPL match in Chennai.

“When it comes to farewell, you can still come and see me play for CSK and that can be my farewell game. So, you will still get that opportunity to bid me farewell. Hopefully, we will come to Chennai and play my last game over there and we can meet the fans there,” Dhoni said while interacting with fans during the virtual event on Tuesday.

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Du Plessis’ fifty takes CSK to 134/6 against Punjab Kings



Dubai, Oct 7: A hard-earned fifty by Faf du Plessis (76 off 55) took Chennai Super Kings to 134/6 against Punjab Kings in the 53rd match of the IPL 2021 at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, here on Thursday.

Put in to bat first, CSK were off to a poor start as they lost the wickets of Ruturaj Gaikwad (12) and Moeen Ali (0) inside the powerplay.

Arshdeep Singh provided Punjab Kings the first breakthrough as he dismissed Gaikwad. The in-form opener tried to take on the short-pitch delivery bowled by Arshdeep but got a top edge and Shahrukh Khan completed the catch. Faf du Plessis was then joined by Moeen Ali, who didn’t trouble scorers and was dismissed for a duck.

Du Plessis looked in fine touch and hit back-to-back boundaries. But, he didn’t get the required support from the other end as Robin Uthappa (2), Ambati Rayudu (4) got out cheaply. Both Uthappa and Rayudu were dismissed by Chris Jordan, who is playing this game in place of Nicholas Pooran.

MS Dhoni, who came to bat next, hit a few boundaries before getting playing-on to his stumps a googly bowled by Ravi Bishnoi, leaving CSK struggling at 61-5 after 11.6 overs. From there on, Du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja batted sensibly and rebuilt the CSK innings.

The Proteas cricketer took calculated risks and completed his fifth fifty of IPL 2021 in 46 balls and kept Chennai Super Kings alive in the match. Jadeja, on the other hand, gave him the much-needed support by rotating the strike regularly.

In the final overs, Du Plessis batted freely and hit a few lusty boundaries to give impetus to CSK innings. His fine innings came to an end for 76 in the last over of the innings and he added 67 runs for the sixth wicket with Jadeja.

In the last few balls, Dwayne Bravo hit a four and helped CSK post a total of 134-6 in 20 overs.

Brief scores:
Chennai Super Kings Innings – 134-6 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis (76 off 55, Chris Jordan 2/20, Arshdeep Singh 2/35) against Punjab Kings

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Sports gears of Olympians in highest demand in auctioning



New Delhi: Sports gears of Olympians have received the highest bids with just one day left for the e-auction of the Prime Minister’s mementos to end, historical items and religious artefacts seem to have drawn more interest. The javelin used by Neeraj Chopra, which brought him the gold medal, received the highest bid of Rs 10 crore on the opening day, it was later cancelled on the suspicion that it could be a fake bid.

The auction opened on September 17 and since then all eyes are focusing on the sporting gear of Olympians and Paralympians. Weeks later, a javelin used by a Paralympic gold medallist remains at the top with a bid of Rs 1,00,50,000. However, till now it has received only two bids, according to the latest bid details on the PM”s memento’s site

In comparison, a metal mace whose base price was Rs 2,500 has received 54 bids, with the highest at Rs 5 lakh. The javelin used by Paralympic gold medallist Sumit Antil, with a base price of Rs 1 crore, received a bid of Rs 1,00,05,000 from one bidder, while a wooden model of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya saw 24 bids come in. The mandir’s base value was Rs 2,50,000.

A badminton racquet autographed by Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games gold medallist Krishna Nagar received a highest bid of Rs 80.15 lakh but there were only three bidders who showed interest in it. On the other hand, a small metallic figurine showing Lord Rama, Hanuman, Laxman and Goddess Sita, titled Bhagwan Ram Parivar, received 44 bids,

With the highest being Rs 1.35 lakh. Its base price was only Rs 10,000. Apart from religious items, a large-scale three-dimensional replica model of a DRDO tank placed inside a glass box has received 23 bids, with the highest being Rs 5 lakh. Its base price was Rs 75,000.

Another item, a memento of the Pune metro line with a sculpture of Chattrapati Shivajji on a horse and the metro line within the cityscape, received 24 bids, with the highest being Rs 43,000, while its base price was only Rs 3,000.

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