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Fazza Dubai Para-Badminton: Top Indian shuttlers enter quarterfinals

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Top Indian para-shuttlers led by Paralympics champion Pramod Bhagat (MS SL3), Tarun Dhillon, Manasi Joshi and Parul Parmar advanced to the quarterfinals here, continuing their winning march through the group stage at the 4th Fazza Dubai Para-badminton International 2022 here.

Bhagat, the highest-ranked player in Men’s Standing Lower (SL3) category, lived up to his billing as he topped the group stage with three wins as the group stage matches ended late on Thursday.

The Odisha-born player is also through to the last-8 stage of the mixed doubles along with Manisha Ramadass, who is expected to advance in her women’s singles SU5 and women’s doubles SL3-SU5 with Mandeep Kaur.

“It has been a good two weeks so far. I hope to continue the golden run in Dubai as well and keep my winning record here. These competitive matches are important to me as we have the big one later this year, the World Para Championships in Japan,” the reigning world and Paralympic champion Bhagat, who is set to play Indian junior Nihal Gupta in the quarters, was quoted as saying by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) in a release on Friday.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Manoj Sarkar and Nitesh Kumar, placed in the lower half of the draw in men’s singles SL3, and promising Hardik Makkar and Chirag Baretha (both in men’s singles SU5) are also through to the quarterfinals.

Dhillon in quarters of three events

In men’s SL4, Tarun Dhillon will play Korea’s Cho Nadan in the quarterfinals and is expected to be challenged by Thailand’s Siripong Teamarrom in the semifinals. A summit clash between Dhillon and Indonesian Fredy Setiawan looks likely.

Dhillon is also through to the last-8 stage of men’s doubles SL3-SL4 and mixed doubles SL3-SU5 events.

Among other names, top seeds Malaysian Cheah Liek Hou (MS SU5), Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai (MS SH6), Japan’s Daiki Kajiwara, and Hong Kong’s Chan Ho Yuen (MS WH2,) Indonesians Setiawan (MS SL4) and Suryo Nugroho (MS SU5) all topped their groups and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Joshi, Parmar, Manisha, and Nithya advance

In the women’s events, India’s reigning world champion Manasi Joshi, and Parul Parmar (women’s singles SL3) advanced as did Nithya Sre Sumathy Sivan, who should make it to the finals of women’s singles SH6.

Promising Manisha Ramadass continued her good run and is through to the women’s singles quarterfinals SU5. She is expected to face Denmark’s Cathrine Rosengren in the semifinals.

National

BWF World Tour Finals: Prannoy loses to China’s Lu Guang Zu; crashes out of semis contention

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 Indian shuttler H.S Prannoy continued to struggle in the BWF World Tour Finals as he suffered another narrow defeat in his second group stage match in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday. The second successive defeat virtually dashed his hopes of reaching the semifinals from Group A.

Prannoy, the lone Indian in the fray in the year-end competition, had started with a defeat against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka on Wednesday. On Thursday, he needed to win his second match to maintain his chances of advancing to the next stage.

But Prannoy went down to China’s Lu Guang Zu in his second Group A match, losing 21-23, 21-17, 19-21 in the one hour and 24 minutes encounter.

Prannoy, 12th in the world rankings and started the match with heavy strapping on his right knee, lost the first game but came back strongly in the second game against the world No. 17.

He led in the third and deciding game but could not carry on the momentum to eventually lose 21-23, 21-17, 19-21 in one hour and 24 minutes.

Prannoy and his Chinese opponent went neck and neck till 3-3 before Lu Guang Zu opened a lead and to extended it to 13-10. But Prannoy caught up with him at 15-15 and led 19-16. The Chinese once again caught up with him at 20-20. Lu Guang Zu won the next two points from 21-21 to win the first game.

Prannoy scripted a turnaround in the decider by edging ahead to 19-18 after trailing 10-14. However, unforced errors in the crucial stages by the Indian badminton player meant Lu Guang Zu scored the final three points in the match to stay alive in the tournament.

This was HS Prannoy’s second loss against the 26-year-old Chinese shuttler. HS Prannoy, 30, was beaten by Lu Guang Zu in the round of 16 of the French Open in October.

In his last match in Group A, Prannoy will play world No. 1, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, on Friday and will be hoping to end his campaign with a victory.

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Maharashtra

We want to build the biggest league outside India, says SA20 Commissioner Graeme Smith

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 In 15 years of its existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has emerged as the most prominent T20 league in the world. With T20 leagues proliferating around the world, all new entrants want to emulate IPL and become as successful in their region.

That is what upcoming South Africa’s domestic Twenty20 league aspires for — become the biggest league outside India.

With just over a month left for the start of the inaugural edition of SA20, commissioner Graeme Smith promised Indian fans an action-filled, world-class league.

“The goal of SA20 is to get South Africa cricket back to the place we all know it belongs – competing with India, competing with the likes of England and Australia and keeping the international game strong,” said SA20 Commissioner Graeme Smith at an event with Viacom18 Sports in Mumbai.

In November, Viacom18 and SA20 announced a partnership to exclusively broadcast and stream South Africa’s recently-launched premier T20 league in India.

Smith added, “We have that opportunity now through the partners we have been able to attract — the six teams, we are going to put sixty to eighty of South African players on the map and bring that fandom to India and the new heroes will come to the IPL and play for South Africa all around the world – that’s our goal. We want to build something vibrant and being able to build the biggest league outside India is something that we would really love to achieve.”

The six teams in SA20 — Durban’s Super Giants, Joburg Super Kings, MI Cape Town, Paarl Royals, Pretoria Capitals, and Sunrisers Eastern Cape — are owned by IPL franchise owners. The popularity of South African players with Indian fans coupled with the pedigree of the team owners gives SA20 a robust platform to build one of the top international T20 leagues globally.

“SA20 is primed to become one of the most popular T20 leagues in the world,” said Viacom18 Sports CEO Anil Jayaraj at an event celebrating the partnership. “At prime-time in India, the cricket-loving audience will watch South Africa’s most revered players along with global superstars and our presentation will match the energy and excitement that will come with it.”

The league features teams playing each other twice in a round-robin stage before the semis and final played over four weeks. MI Cape Town and neighbours Paarl Royals kickstart the tournament at Newlands on January 10. The opening game will be followed by Durban’s Super Giants hosting the Joburg Super Kings at Kingsmead on January 11

The SA20 will see international superstars like Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis, Kagiso Rabada, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Rashid Khan, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Liam Livingstone, Maheesh Theekshana, Jason Holder in action.

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International

Bangladesh might have succumbed to pressure v India; not taking fake fielding issue any further: Sriram

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Bangladesh coach Sridharan Sriram has conceded his team might have succumbed to pressure in the thrilling five-run loss to India in their Super 12 Group 2 match of the ICC T20 World Cup, and has also said he has no intention of taking the potential fake fielding incident involving Virat Kohli during the match any further.

Bangladesh were cruising along at 66 without loss in seven overs, with Litton Das coming out all guns blazing and snatching the advantage of making 184/6 from India through a breath-taking 59 not out off 26 balls — laced with seven fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 226.9 — when rain put a halt to his pyrotechnics.

Bangladesh’s target was revised from 185 in 20 overs to 151 in 16 overs. They needed 85 more runs in nine overs to win the match, with all wickets in hand. India’s bowling attack, which took a beating in the power-play, got the much-needed respite thanks to the rain break and they went on to win the match by five runs (D/L method).

Sriram agreed the rain delay and the revised target brought the pressure on his side and it crumbled.

“Well, it was quite frantic for that brief (last) 10-12 minutes (of the match), which is understandable. I think the boys, nine runs an over or 9.75 runs an over, definitely I think the pressure got to them a little bit. Yeah, it was a little bit of a frantic 15-20 minutes if I can put it, yes,” said Sriram, the former Australia spin-bowling coach.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play their last Super 12 game against Pakistan on Sunday with a win not guaranteeing them a place in the last four, but the results of the remaining two Group 2 games — South Africa vs Netherlands and India vs Zimbabwe — could facilitate their semifinal entry.

Much heat has been generated over on-field umpires missing a potential fake fielding incident involving Kohli, which could have earned Bangladesh five runs in penalties and a victory against India, but Sriram said he is not here “to offer any excuses” for the defeat.

Wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan accused Kohli of fake fielding during the match, claiming that the umpires missed the incident and could have resulted in the opposition getting crucial five runs as penalty. The incident that Hasan talked about going unnoticed took place in the seventh over of Bangladesh’s chase when Kohli feigned a throw while standing at point, as if he was relaying a throw coming from Arshdeep Singh from the deep off the bowling of Axar Patel.

Neither the on-field umpires, Marais Erasmus and Chris Brown, spotted it, nor did the two Bangladeshi batters, openers Litton Das and Najmul Hossain Shanto, out in the middle, pointed it out.

Law 41.5, pertaining to unfair play, prohibits the “deliberate distraction, deception or obstruction of (the) batter”, and if an incident is deemed to be a breach, the umpire can declare that particular delivery as dead ball, and award the batting side five runs. But Hasan didn’t mention if either of Das or Shanto spoke to him or to the team about distraction or deception from Kohli pretending to throw the ball to the keeper.

Shedding light on the controversy, Sriram said, “No, we are not here to offer any excuses. I did speak to the fourth umpire as soon as it happened, but I think it was the on-field umpire’s call, and that’s what we were told, but we’re not here to offer any excuses.”

Sriram said the focus now is to beat Pakistan and wait for the results of other matches to go in his team’s favour.

“I’ve been very clear in all my press conferences. We’re just taking it one game at a time, plan for one opposition at a time. Every game we want to go, we obviously want to win it, but we’re aware of what challenges Pakistan present. We played them in New Zealand just recently (in the Tri-series), and we have high respect for that team, so we’re going to turn up and be at our best on that day.”

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