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Saturday,19-June-2021

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1980 Olympic hockey gold medallist Ravindra Pal passes away

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Former hockey centre-half Ravindra Pal Singh, a member of India’s gold medal-winning team of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, passed away early on Saturday morning here. He was 62.

Singh, a bachelor who lived with his elder sister in a joint family, had recovered from Covid-19. He had a breathing problem, and ‘felt depressed’, and had anxiety. He was shifted to an oxygen bed in a ward after having recovered from Covid, though he continued to have the breathing problem. After his condition deteriorated on Friday, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit and put on a ventilator. He passed away early on Saturday.

“We changed a few hospitals for him, as in the other private hospitals even the doctors were careless and they didn’t provide him proper care. Finally, we admitted him to Vivekanada Polyclinic, which we trusted,” said a member of Singh’s family.

Besides plating in the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Singh appeared in several top international tournaments, including the Champions Trophy in Karachi (1980 and 1983), the Silver Jubilee 10-Nation Cup (Hong Kong, 1983), World Cup (Mumbai, 1982), Asia Cup (Karachi, 1982), the 1981 India-Pakistan Test series, and the Malaysian Quadrangular series in 1980.

Singh began his international career in 1979. He was picked in the Junior Indian team for the World Cup.

Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju condoled Singh’s death.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn that Shri Ravinder Pal Singh ji has lost the battle to Covid-19. With his passing away, India loses a golden member of the hockey team that won gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. His contribution to Indian sports will always be remembered,” he tweeted.

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National

India should have had a fast-bowling all-rounder in playing XI: Amit Mishra

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Veteran leg-spinner and a member of the Indian Premier League (IPL) side Delhi Capitals, Amit Mishra feels that while the India playing XI for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand “looks great”, a fast-bowling all-rounder could have further strengthened the side.

The first day of the WTC final at Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Friday was washed out because of rain and players would be hoping to get back to action later on Saturday.

“The playing XI looks great. We have Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, two excellent spinners who can also contribute with the bat. Ashwin and Jadeja’s batting skills will help India a lot. I think India could have named a fast-bowling all-rounder in the playing XI, someone who could have bowled six-seven overs when the regular pacers are tired and the ball is swinging,” Mishra told JK 24×7 news.

Noting that the Kane Williamson-led New Zealand had an advantage in this department, Mishra, who has played 22 Tests and taken 76 wickets, said, “I think it would have been better if India included a fast-bowling all-rounder. New Zealand have a fast-bowling all-rounder in their squad, so this is the one advantage that the Blackcaps have.”

Indian are fielding two spinners — Ashwin and Jadeja — and the pace trio of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah in the WTC final.

Mishra also said that India’s batting was stronger than its bowling.

“I think India’s batting line-up is stronger than the bowling unit. If you consider the all-rounders, we bat very deep. Only the three fast bowlers do not bat. So, I feel the batting is stronger.”

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Milkha Singh’s cremation in Chandigarh at 5pm with state honours

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Tributes have been pouring across the globe as legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh, 91, whose 400 metres Indian national record stood for 38 years and the 400 metres Asian record for 26 years, died at the age of 91 after a long battle with COVID-19 on Friday night.

Singh is survived by international golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and daughters Mona Singh, Sonia Singh and Aleeza Grover.

According to government officials, his cremation will be held in his hometown Chandigarh at 5 p.m. on Saturday with state honours.

Since he was tested Covid negative later, his mortal remains are currently kept at his residence in in Sector 8. The security has been beefed up security at his residence with prominent personalities expected to visit there to pay obeisance.

Five days back Milkha’s wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former India volleyball captain, had lost her battle to the virus at a private hospital in Mohali near here.

Condoling the demise of Milkha Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country has lost a colossal sportsperson.

“In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions. Anguished by his passing away,” Modi informed in a tweet.

In another tweet, Modi said he had spoken to Milkha Singh just a few days ago.

“Little did I know that it would be our last conversation. Several budding athletes will derive strength from his life journey. My condolences to his family and many admirers all over the world.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said: “India mourns the sad demise of legendary sprinter Shri Milkha Singh Ji, the Flying Sikh. He has left an indelible mark on world athletics. Nation will always remember him as one of the brightest stars of Indian sports. My deepest condolences to his family and countless followers.”

Milkha Singh passed away in a local hospital here at 11.30 p.m. on Friday, said a statement from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, where he was being treated for Covid-related complications.

Milkha Singh was admitted to the ICU of Covid Hospital of PGIMER on June 3 and was treated for Covid there till June 13 when after putting up a battle with Covid Milkha Singh tested negative.

However, due to post-Covid complications, he was shifted out of Covid Hospital to medical ICU. But despite best of the efforts by the medical team, Milkha Singh could not be retrieved from his critical condition, said Ashok Kumar, official spokesperson for the PGIMER.

Mourning his demise, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said it was the end of an era and India and Punjab “are poorer”.

His Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar said that the country has lost a star.

“Upset and saddened to hear of Milkha Singh Ji’s demise. It marks the end of an era and India & Punjab are poorer today. My condolences to the bereaved family & millions of fans. The legend of the Flying Sikh will reverberate for generations to come. Rest in peace Sir!” Amarinder Singh said in a tweet.

“Milkha Singh has left us but he will always inspire every Indian to shine for the country,” Khattar added.

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She was trained to play aggressively: Shafali Verma’s dad on her 96 vs England

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Sanjeev Verma, father of India opener Shafali Verma, who scored 96 against England on Thursday, the highest for an Indian debutant in women’s Test cricket, was not surprised with the way his daughter went about the task for he says he had prepared her to play the aggressive way.

“I am happy with the fact that her runs contributed to India’s total and gave the team a good start. I was quite confident she would do well in the Test,” Verma, who set her on the road to become a hard-hitter, told IANS on Friday.

Referring to Shafali missing a century on debut, he said: “These things happen.”

Shafali’s 96 was one run more than what former India captain Rahul Dravid scored on his debut Test innings, also in England in 1996, and Verma felt that the training that she received as a youngster helped her.

“I am not surprised because she trained with Ranji Trophy cricketers of the Haryana state. Those guys bowl at 135-140 kmph. At the women’s cricket level, the speed of the deliveries is 100-110 kmph. So, naturally, she would find it easier to face the bowling in women’s cricket. You could see that in the way she faced up to the new ball bowlers,” said Verma, and thanked the Haryana Cricket Association for letting her train with the Ranji team.

“Also the process through which I inculcated six-hitting abilities in her as a child has been helping her all through her career,” he added on Friday while talking of the Rs.10 reward he would keep in a competition between his son and daughter for most sixes.

Verma said that Shafali learned to play attacking cricket from an early age.

“One of the things that helped her get into the attacking mould was a drill that we did together. I would pick an odd time, after 11 am or so, and take her and my son Sahil to the ground. I chose odd time to ensure there would be no crowd. Each of us would face six balls and whoever would hit most sixes or fours would get a reward of Rs.5 and sometimes Rs.10,” Verma, who runs a jewellery shop in Rohtak, had told IANS earlier.

Shafali’s two sixes in her first-innings knock made her only the third batter in women’s cricket to hit two sixes in a Test innings. There are only five women batters to have hit two sixes in their Test careers. Three of them — Shafali, Alyssa Healy of Australia, and England’s Lauren Winfield-Hill, who is playing in the one-off Test — have hit two in a Test knock.

Shafali explained it further at the press conference after the second day’s play.

“My brother and I would go and we used to have competition of who would hit more sixes. And whoever hit more sixes, he would get 10-15 rupees. For those Rs. 10-15 I used to hit sixes. And if I am able to hit well now, I have worked hard on my big-hitting, choosing balls to hit,” said the 17-year-old opener.

Shafali was, however, disappointed after she holed out to extra cover while trying to heave the ball for a six on the leg-side and get to the century.

“Any batsman, when he gets out in the 90s, he always feels disappointed, I also was disappointed. If you see, I will get great confidence from this innings. Next time I will try to reach 100,” added the opener who set the 2020 T20 World Cup on fire, scoring 163 runs in five matches to end as India’s top scorer and the fifth highest run getter.

“I never count my age when I go out to bat,” she added before explaining her strategy on Thursday’s knock.

“Starting is a bit difficult. I just thought that I should take time. Bowlers were also bowling well, I gave respect to the deliveries. We thought that if we wait at the wicket, the loose balls will automatically get converted into boundaries. We couldn’t hit full tosses because we were careful early on. We missed a few loose balls,” said Shafali.

Haryana Ranji Trophy team coach Ashwini Kumar had said that her biggest strength is fearless batting.

“At the start when we saw her talent, when she was less than 12, we began making her practice with the boys — with the current Ranji Trophy players like medium pacers Ashish Hooda, Sumit Kumar, Ajit Chahal, and off-spinner Amit Rana,” he had said earlier. “She plays fearless cricket and has god-gifted talent. She has a good hand-eye coordination.”

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