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Saturday,12-June-2021

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Dhoni not just a sportsperson but a phenomenon, says PM Narendra Modi

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses 125th year celebrations of CII via video conferencing, in New Delhi on June 2, 2020. (Photo: IANS/BJP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has paid rich tribute to former India skipper MS Dhoni as he hanged his boots from international cricket, calling him not just a sportsperson but a phenomenon, which was much appreciated by MSD.

On India’s 74th Independence Day, Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket via a social media post, thus bringing an end to an illustrious career spanning 16 years.

“On 15th August, in your trademark unassuming style you shared a short video that was enough to become a long and passionate discussion point for the entire nation,” Modi said in a letter addressed to Dhoni.

“130 crore Indians were disappointed but also eternally grateful for all that you have done for Indian cricket in the last decade-and-a-half,” he added.

MSD replied with a tweet: “An Artist, soldier and sportsperson what they crave for is appreciation, that their hard work and sacrifice is getting noticed and appreciated by everyone. Thanks PM @narendramodi for your appreciation and good wishes.”

Dhoni, who made his ODI debut in 2004, changed the face of Indian cricket with his calm demeanour, sharp understanding of the game and astute leadership qualities. He represented India in 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20Is.

One of the most admired and respected cricketers, Dhoni is also among the most successful captains in world cricket. It was under his leadership that India lifted the World Cup in 2011 after having led India to triumph in the World T20 in its maiden edition of the tournament held in 2007 in South Africa. With India winning the Champions Trophy in 2013 in England, Dhoni became the first and is still the only captain to have won all three ICC Trophies.

“One way to look at your cricketing career is through the prism of statistics. You have been one of the most successful captains, instrumental in taking India to the top of the world charts. Your name will go down in history as being one of the world’s batting greats, among the greatest cricketing captains and certainly one of the best wicketkeepers the game has seen,” stated the prime minister.

“Your dependability in tough situations and your style of finishing matches, particularly the 2011 World Cup final, will forever be etched in the public memory for generations. But, the name Mahendra Singh Dhoni will not be remembered merely for his career statistics or specific match-winning roles,” he added.

Modi further said that looking at the former Indian cricket team captain as just a sportsperson would be injustice. “The correct way to assess your impact is as a phenomenon!

“Rising from humble beginnings in a small town, you burst onto the national scene, made a name for yourself and most importantly made India proud. Your rise and conduct thereafter gives strength and inspiration to crores of youngsters who like you have not been to cushy schools or colleges, neither do they belong to illustrious families but they have the talent to distinguish themselves at the highest levels.

“You have been one of the important illustrations of the spirit of New India, where family name does not make young people’s destiny but they make their own names and their own destinies,” he added.

The Prime Minister further said that it doesn’t matter where one comes from as long as he/she knows where they are headed and that’s the spirit which Dhoni has exuded in many youngsters.

“Where we come from does not matter as long as we know where we are headed – this is the spirit that you have exuded and inspired many youngsters with. Many of your memorable on-field moments exemplify a particular generation of Indians.

“This generation of Indians does not hesitate to take risks and back each other’s abilities in even the toughest situations- seen in the way you took risks many a time in backing little known youngsters to deliver in high pressure situations. The 2007 T20 World Cup finals is a perfect example of this spirit,” he added.

India, under the leadership of Dhoni, had won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa after defeating Pakistan in a pulsating final.

“This generation of Indians does not lose their nerve in decisive situations; we saw that in many of your innings and games. Our youth does not lose heart in the face of adversity and, most importantly, are fearless, just like the team you led,” Modi said.

“No matter what hairstyle you sported, your calm head remained the same in victory or defeat, which is a very important lesson for every youth,” he added.

Dhoni holds the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army unit of the Parachute Regiment (106 Para TA battalion). The honour was accorded to him by the Indian Army in 2011.

Referring to that, Prime Minister Modi said: “I would like to also mention your special association towards India’s armed forces. You were most happy being among our army personnel. Your concern towards their welfare has always been remarkable.”

Towards the end, the Prime Minister wished Dhoni for his life beyond cricket and hoped that the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman would now get more time to spend with his wife Sakshi and daughter Ziva.

“I hope Sakshi and Ziva get to spend more time with you. I convey my good wishes to them as well, because without their sacrifices and support nothing would have been possible,” said Modi

“Our youth could also learn from you how to balance professional and personal priorities; I remember seeing a picture of you playing with your cute daughter even as everyone around you was celebrating a victory in a particular tournament! That was vintage MS Dhoni.

“Wishing you the very best for your future endeavours,” he signed off.

National

Pacer Chetan Sakariya prepares for SL with energy development programme

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Left-arm pace bowler Chetan Sakariya, who has been picked in India’s squad for the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka, has said he is currently working in Chennai on ‘energy system development’ which helps in sustaining energy over a long period of time through dedicated training routines.

“I feel my movements are swifter, my core is stronger, and I believe I am bowling a tad quicker as well. This side of training is not something I knew a lot of growing up, but I have felt a lot of change in the way I feel about myself. It has been a busy routine in Chennai, but one I am happy and satisfied with. I am looking forward to learning a lot more with the Indian team,” said the 23-year-old Saurashtra bowler who was picked by Rajasthan Royals for Rs.1.2 crore at this year’s IPL mini-auction. He picked seven wickets in seven matches.

“The franchise was very supportive of that (training in Chennai) and arranged everything — like my accommodation and travel — so that I could become a better version of myself. For the last 15 days, I have had two intense training sessions every day, with a short break for lunch and rest,” Sakariya was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com.

Sakariya, who hails from a village just 10 kilometres from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, said he would have been satisfied even if he were picked as a net bowler for the tour of Sri Lanka.

“I would have been happy just going to Sri Lanka as a net bowler, so this is a massive surprise. At the IPL, I thought I exceeded my own expectations. Initially, I thought I may have to wait for my turn at the Royals, but once I got into the camp, the kind of confidence and faith everyone showed in me, I got the vibes that I will start. So while it is a surprise to be picked for India, I am very much ready and confident with the way I have prepared.”

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Ruturaj Gaikwad wants to pick Rahul Dravid’s brain in Sri Lanka

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Opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was a surprise selection in the 20-member India squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, has been forced to follow ‘early to bed-early to rise’ routine due to lockdown in Pune, his hometown, over the last month.

“In Pune, there has been a lockdown since May, and things have been open only from 7-11 am. So I wanted to ensure I did not spend that time sleeping,” Gaikwad said.

“I wanted to utilise more of that time for my fitness work and gym work. I did not want myself to be caught off-guard and be in a situation where I was picked but was not conditioned enough,” the right-handed batsman told espncricinco.com.

Gaikwad said he was not aware of the news of his selection initially as he was not following it. He was in his bed and had switched off mobile data to ensure repeated alerts do not disturb him.

However, once he started receiving repeated calls, he picked up the phone and learned the news of his selection.

“When I go to sleep, I generally switch off mobile data. I know if it is an emergency, someone will generally call twice. When my phones started ringing continuously, I was not first sure what it was. Then two journalists informed me of my selection,” said Gaikwad.

“I had to wake my parents up to tell them. They were quite deep in sleep, and were not fully able to process what I was telling them at first. But this morning they woke up really happy and made some pedas (sweets) at home, and I was happy to make an exception and have them to celebrate the happy news.”

Gaikwad, who endured an ordinary run in Vijay Hazare One-dayers and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s but racked up five half-centuries in 13 matches across Indian Premier League’s 2020 and 2021 editions, says he is not sure if he will get a chance to play in Sri Lanka. But he said he wants to use this opportunity to learn.

“I was not thinking much about my selection. Even now, I am not thinking on the lines of ‘will I play’. I am looking forward to learning the knack of adaptability, something that will be very important going forward.

“Dhawan and a few of the other seniors have played a lot of international cricket, so I would like to learn from them by chatting to them about how they assess conditions, how they have adapted, how they have used their experience and learnt from their failures.

“I am also really excited to train and spend a month under Rahul Dravid, who was our India A coach when I was part of the team two years ago. He was with us on three tours, and we started to get familiar with each other. So when he was appointed the National Cricket Academy chief, I was personally disappointed at not being able to pick his brains anymore. But now, getting a chance to do that will be very useful for me,” added Gaikwad.

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National

Indian cricket team begins England trip with intra-squad practice tie

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India cricketers, who are serving a 10-day quarantine period here ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, began their England sojourn with a two-day intra-squad practice match here at Hampshire Bowl.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released pictures as well as a video on Saturday with the highlights of first day’s play on Friday.

India captain Virat Kohli is seen batting, defending and clipping the ball off his toes, as also Shubman Gill and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who is seen hammering a big shot.

Pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj are seen bowling. Newcomer Arzan Nagwaswalla is also seen in action. Spinner R Ashwin is also seen rolling his arm over.

Pant apparently reached a milestone as he is shown lifting his bat in celebration.

The Indian team is on a three-and-a-half month tour of England where it plays the WTC final against New Zealand from June 18 and then a five-Test series in August-September.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, India are not allowed to play any local club or county team unlike in the past.

Even New Zealand played an intra-squad warm-up game last month on arrival in Southampton.

However, unlike the Indian cricket board, New Zealand Cricket passed on the details of the match especially the outstanding performances from the day’s play.

The Indians had reached Southampton on June 3. Their workload increased gradually as directed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which is hosting the WTC final.

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