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Saturday,19-June-2021

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Any time spent with Sunil Chhetri is invaluable, says Suresh Wangjam

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Midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam, who has risen through the ranks to become an integral member of the Bengaluru FC squad, feels any time spent with national team skipper Suni Chhetri is “invaluable”.

Adil Khan, Abdul Sahal, Anirudh Thapa, Pritam Kotal and others have always reiterated how much Chhetri has mentored them about diet, fitness regime and other aspects of life.

“Any time spent with Chhetri-bhai is invaluable. I consider myself extremely lucky to have the chance to share a dressing room and a training pitch with him. He personally speaks with me, advises me, encourages me and talks to me about things beyond football,” Wangjam told www.the-aiff.com.

“I’ve picked up reading books, am focusing on a better diet, sharpening my general knowledge. He has even affected my viewing choices on television. It has only been a gain for me and I am extremely fortunate,” he added.

The midfielder further said he owes “a lot to the foundation” provided by the All India Football Federation Elite Academy in his formative years. After representing the country in the first-ever FIFA World Cup hosted by India, he gathered invaluable experience during his stint with the Indian Arrows which is being immensely useful during his time at Bengaluru FC.

“I owe a lot to the foundation that I have started building my career on. The whole World Cup phase was so memorable and helpful, given the kind of exposure we received, the teams we played, the platform we got,” the midfielder said.

“Once the FIFA U-17 World Cup was done, we got the big opportunity to play in the I-League through the Indian Arrows and that again was a fantastic chance for me to gain experience that I am now using during my time at Bengaluru FC,” he added.

Suresh spent two seasons (2017-18 and 2018-19) at the Indian Arrows before shifting to the AFC Cup finalists at the start of 2019-20 season. The Manipur-born midfielder, in 11 matches during his first Indian Super League season, made 197 passes with a whopping success rate of 73.09 per cent.

National

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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Cricketer Suresh Raina calls on J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha

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Former India cricketer Suresh Raina called on J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday and apprised him about the functioning of cricket academies and schools adopted by him to nurture young sporting talent in the Union Territory.

An official statement said that Raina informed Sinha about the future strategy of his dedicated project to promote sports in J&K.

He also presented a copy of his book titled ‘Believe’ to the Lt Governor. Sinha appreciated the efforts of Raina in giving a fillip to sports in J&K.

The statement added that the Lt Governor has promised Raina of all possible support for his project from the administration.

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Ace sprinter Dutee Chand hopes to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

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Ace sprinter Dutee Chand said on Wednesday that she was well on track to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games because of her world ranking, currently 42nd.

“My world ranking is 42 which is within the stipulated number of 56 sprinters eligible to compete in the women’s 100m dash at the Tokyo Olympics. There are two ways to qualify for the Olympics. One is through the world ranking system and the other to achieve qualification time set by the World Athletics,” the 25-year-old said during a virtual media interaction.

For the Tokyo Olympic Games, World Athletics has set stricter qualification standards in track and field events and June 29 is the deadline to achieve a qualification mark in the respective events.

The Olympic qualification standard in women’s 100m is 11.15 seconds while Dutee’s personal best is 11.22 seconds.

“I will try to achieve the time of 11.15 seconds in the upcoming Indian Grand Prix IV in Patiala on June 25. In case I miss then I’ve another chance to achieve the mark at the National Inter-State Athletics Championships in Patiala starting on June 25,” said Dutee, the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games silver medallist in 100m and 200m.

The 100m national record holder is also one of the key members of the women’s 4x100m relay squad.

It is hoped that the women’s 4x100m relay team will make the cut for the Olympics Games before the deadline of June 29.

The Olympics Games start on July 23.

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