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Thursday,29-July-2021

International

IOC chief Thomas Bach rules out cancellation of Tokyo Olympics

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Thomas-Bach

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach reiterated the IOC’s commitment to delivering the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games this summer, adding that preparation work for Beijing 2022 is also progressing steadily.

“We are fully concentrated on and committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, starting on 23 July (2021) with the Olympic Games and 24 August with the Paralympic Games,” Bach said at a media conference after an IOC executive board meeting on Wednesday, Xinhua news reports.

Speaking about Beijing 2022, the IOC chief said: “We can say, even one year before, that all the (competition) venues are ready, the technical preparations are excellent.”

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, all 12 Beijing 2022 competition venues have been completed, a high-speed railway linking Beijing and co-host Zhangjiakou is now operational, and nearly one million volunteer applications have been received.

The Tokyo Games were originally to have taken place last summer, but were postponed to this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the first Olympics in peacetime to suffer that fate.

With Japan hit by a resurgence of the virus in recent months, media reports claimed that the Games would once again be postponed and may even be cancelled.

“There is speculation about cancellation, about a Plan B. Some even make the proposal to postpone the Olympic Games to the year 2032,” Bach said. “But all these speculations are hurting the athletes who have already overcome challenges in their daily training and competition.”

“We are not losing our time and energy on the speculations. We are working on how the Games will take place, we are fully concentrating on the opening ceremony on the 23rd of July this year.”

Bach said that the IOC’s confidence is based upon the fact that many sporting events have been held successfully in the past year and many COVID-19 countermeasures had proved effective.

“We have seen during this winter season, more than 7,000 events have been organised by the international federations with 175,000 COVID-19 tests having been taken, and only 0.18 percent were positive. The competitions could be run, could be organised.”

At the meeting, it was also decided that the 137th IOC session, set to take place from March 10 to 12 in Athens, Greece, will now be held virtually.

International

2nd T20I: Depleted India go down to Sri Lanka by 4 wickets

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A below-strength India, who were forced to make seven changes in the XI after nine players were ruled out due to Covid-related issues, stretched Sri Lanka before losing by four wickets in the last over of the second T20 International here on Wednesday night.

India, who were asked to bat, had made 132/5 wickets at the R Premadasa Stadium as the batting line-up, which included only four specialist batsmen and wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson, couldn’t set a total in excess of 150 which they had managed in the first T20I (164).

Sri Lanka, riding on Dhananjaya de Silva’s 40 off 34 balls, won with two balls to spare after a few hiccups.

India skipper Shikhar Dhawan grafted 40 off 42 deliveries with five fours on a pitch that was difficult to bat on and shared an opening stand of 49 in seven overs with Ruturaj Gaikwad (21 off 18 balls). Debutant Devdutt Padikkal grafted 29 off 21 deliveries.

India were coasting at 81/1 after 12 overs before Dhawan fell. Soon Padikkal and Samson were bowled while trying to increase the scoring rate, with the former missing the line during a sweep and the latter letting the ball sneak past bat and pad and on to the stumps.

From then on, India lost track and could not make use of the last few overs.

The Sri Lankans, in reply, got off to a decent start, making 36/1 in the powerplay phase. However, a few wickets brought India back.

Over the seven overs after powerplay, India conceded only 36 runs and picked three wickets. But 15 runs off Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav’s (2/30) fourth over brought the Sri Lankans back. Kuldeep had earlier picked two wickets to peg the home side back.

With 46 required off 36 balls and six wickets in hand, the odds were in Sri Lanka’s favour. India picked a couple of more wickets but de Silva and Chamika Karunaratne (12 off 6), who hit a six off Bhuvneshwar, saw the host through.

Due to nine players in isolation, India were forced to hand T20 International debut to four players — Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, and Chetan Sakariya. Padikkal and Gaikwad made their international debuts.

The Covid-affected Krunal Pandya was among those who missed the match.

Earlier, before the match started, the Board of Control for Cricket in India had drafted the five net bowlers – Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh, R Sai Kishore and Simarjeet Singh – into the squad for T20Is on Wednesday and Thursday.

None of these reserve players, however, played the second game on Wednesday.

Brief scores:

India 132/5 in 20 overs (S Dhawan 40, D Padikkal 29, A Dananjaya 2/29, R Gaikwad 21) lost to Sri Lanka 133/6 in 19.4 overs (D de Silva 40 not out, M Bhanuka 36, K Yadav 2/30) by four wickets.

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Olympics: PV Sindhu storms into women’s singles quarterfinals

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PV-Sindhu

Midway through the first game against Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, coach Park Tae-sang told India’s PV Sindhu that she was rushing with her defence and should be more patient.

Sindhu, silver medallist at the Rio Olympics five years ago, changed her tactics and scored points at will as she has reached the women’s singles quarterfinals, beating her Danish opponent 21-15, 21-13 at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.

Playing aggressive and deceptive shots that kept her opponent on the run throughout the match, Sindhu outplayed Mia in just 41 minutes.

“I started off well. In the first game, I was rushing in defence a bit but my coach told me that I was playing the wrong way and I was able to change how I played. And then in the second game I think it was fine, I maintained the lead and was under control,” said Sindhu after the match.

Mia, who was ranked 11th in the world a couple of years back, had sent Sindhu packing from the Thailand Open in January this year though the Indian had won their last encounter, found the Indian star, gunning for gold here, too strong on Thursday and could not play her usual game as Sindhu took control from the start.

Sindhu will next play the winner of the match between Kim Gaeun of South Korea and Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.

Sindhu, playing solid and steady throughout the match, came into her own in the middle of the first game as she opened up a handy lead and went out to win it 25-15.

She was more dominant in the second game as she surged ahead to a 7-2 lead. Playing with the stadium drift behind her, the Indian could unleash her smashes and mixed them with deceptive drop shots that had Mia shaking her head in frustration.

Though Mia tried to fight back, Sindhu built on her five-point advantage to reach 20-11 and had nine match points, capitalising on some unforced errors by her opponent.

Mia saved two match points but Sindhu could not be denied on Thursday and sealed a well-deserved victory.

Sindhu has always done well in the big tournaments, which is evident in the silver medal she won in Rio de Janeiro five years back and her performance in the World Championships, in which she had a full set of medals, having won gold in 2019; silver in 2017 and �18, and bronze medals in 2013 and 2014.

The 26-year-old said she does not think of the importance of the tournament when playing and takes it match-by-match.

“A lot of people have told me that. I will take that as a compliment. But for me each and every game is important. It’s important to focus on every point, and not the match,” Sindhu told the BWF, the sport’s world governing body, after the match.

When the draw was made, everyone thought that the match against Mia would be the first big challenge for Sindhu in the knoclout stages. But the way she played on Thursday, it appears she is very focused and it will take a lot of effort to stop her.

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This is what I’m meant to do for the team: Dhananjaya de Silva

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Sri Lankan all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva has said that staying till the end of the innings was the role he is meant to do for the team. De Silva played an unbeaten match-winning knock of 40 off 34 balls in giving Sri Lanka a four-wicket win against India on Wednesday, their first win in six T20Is.

“This is what I’m meant to do for the team. In the previous match as well, what I’d been told was to bat 20 overs from one side. I wasn’t able to do that in the previous game. Today was my day and I did that. If I can bat at a run-a-ball until the final overs, letting others attack around me, I can raise my strike rate towards the finish as well. That was the coach, captain and selectors’ plan,” said de Silva after the match ended.

The 29-year-old also said that they knew the pitch for the second T20I will be slow, adding that the target for the hosts was to restrict India to a low score.

“We knew it was a slow pitch, so our target while bowling was to restrict them to 125 or 130. Our bowlers did well and we were able to manage that. When it came to our innings, we knew that it would be tough to bat as well, but if we dragged the game out to the 20th over, the equation becomes simple and we know what we have to do. I think even a T20 match, that’s the way to do it.”

De Silva spoke about the belief he had in his team-mates in the lower order while chasing 133.

“We know that in the last four or five batters we have a few that can hit a six. Chamika, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana and even Dushmantha Chameera can hit a big shot. What I’d wanted to do was to take the game deep, thinking that Wanindu or Chamika would be there with me to finish it off. Thankfully, Chamika was there at the end.”

With the series locked at 1-1, the final T20I between India and Sri Lanka is a winner-takes-it-all affair on Thursday.

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