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Sunday,19-September-2021

National

Kiren Rijiju, Shelar bat for restoration of railway concession for sportspersons

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After Union sports minister Kiren Rijiju, former Maharashtra sports minister Ashish Shelar has also requested Union railways minister Piyush Goyal to restore the fare concessions for athletes travelling for various sports meets.

The concessions, across 38 categories which include sportspersons and senior citizens, were stopped by the railways ministry through its circular on March 19, 2020 in a move to discourage train journey and contain the spread of Covid-19.

With sporting activity resuming in the country now, a large number of sportspersons are heavily dependent on the railways for their travel and the fare concessions help state associations ease the financial burden of sending their athletes for various all India, state and national events.

Shelar, a former Mumbai Cricket Association president and BJP leader, wrote a letter to Goyal and spoke with him expressing his concern about the sportspersons. The 48-year-old, contesting for the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) president’s post in their upcoming polls, feels he was duty-bound to address this issue.

“It is a genuine concern of our sportspersons, which I have taken up at the highest level. I am confident of a positive response soon,” he said in an official statement.

In his letter to Goyal, Shelar wrote: “As sporting activity resumes across the country, complying with all Covid-19 norms of course, sportspersons are looking to travel from one city to another, from one town to another, to compete in various tournaments and competitions. In addition, many youngsters, boys and girls, need to travel for training, coaching and attending camps.”

“May I bring to your attention the fact that due to withdrawal of travel concessions, there is a great financial burden on the sportspersons and their respective sports federations. I would appreciate if the railway ministry restores travel concession for all sportspersons to support their sporting endeavours,” he added.

On Thursday, Rijiju had also written to Goyal, requested him to restore the privileges.

In a letter to Goyal, Rijiju wrote: “Now, since the training and sports competitions have started, the sports persons are facing difficulties due to withdrawal of the concession in passenger fares while travelling to participate in all India, state and national level tournaments.”

Rijiju said during his interaction with sportspersons and sports administrators, he has been apprised of the difficulties being faced by them due to withdrawal of the Railway concession.

“The Indian Olympic Association has also submitted a representation in this regard. In view of the above, I shall be grateful if you could kindly get the concession restored for sportspersons in passenger fares in the best interest of sports and Indian sportspersons,” he added.

National

RCB skipper Kohli finishes quarantine, joins team for first practice session

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 Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli joined his team-mates for the first practice session here in Dubai early on Saturday morning after spending six days in quarantine on his return from England.

Kohli and pace bowler Mohammed Siraj had reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on September 12 on a charter flight from London arranged by the franchise. The duo had gone into six days of mandatory quarantine following their arrival.

RCB posted a three-minute video on Saturday morning and tweeted, “Bold Diaries: Virat Kohli joins the RCB team after quarantine — There were smiles, hugs and laughter in the RCB camp as captain Virat Kohli, Mohammed Siraj and some of our foreign players had their first hit in the nets. #PlayBold #WeAreChallengers #IPL2021.”

The video showed Kohli and several teammates, who completed their quarantine on Saturday, entering the training ground with their kit bags for an early-morning session and being greeted by fellow cricketers and the coaching staff, including South African stalwart AB de Viliers.

Kohli was later seen playing a few lofted cover drives.

Siraj said in the video that, “All the batsmen look in great form. It’s a good thing for the team that (Glenn Maxwell), Virat bhai and AB (de Villiers) sir are all in good form.”

RCB’s director of cricket operations, New Zealand’s Mike Hesson, said that, “It’s always good to be face to face rather than discussing strategy (with the skipper) from a distance. It (six days of quarantine) gave him (Virat) a chance to freshen up. Now working on ensuring we are all on the same page.”

On Siraj, Hesson said, “He has got more and more confident over the last two seasons. Obviously, he has done well for India (in the Test series against England). He is aware of what he wants to do and therefore he shows more confidence.”

RCB will play their opening match of the second leg in Dubai against Kolkata Knight Riders on September 20.

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International

Coach Shastri hints that he might step down after T20 World Cup

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 Indian cricket team coach Ravi Shastri has given a big hint that he is likely to step down from the hot seat after the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman when he said that “I believe one thing — never overstay your welcome.”

Shastri, who was squarely criticised for launching his new book in London and spreading the Covid-19 virus among the support staff two days before the fourth Test at The Oval, said on Saturday, “I believe so because I’ve achieved all I wanted,” when asked whether the ICC T20 World Cup would be his last outing with Team India as chief coach.

“Five years as No 1 (in Test cricket), to win in Australia twice, to win in England. I spoke to Michael Atherton earlier this summer and said: ‘For me, this is the ultimate — to beat Australia in Australia and win in England in Covid times.’ We lead England 2-1 and the way we played at Lord’s and the Oval was special,” Shastri told The Guardian.

“We’ve also beaten every country in the world in their own backyard in white-ball cricket. If we win the (T20) World Cup that will be the icing on the cake. There is nothing more. I believe one thing –never overstay your welcome. And I would say that, in terms of what I wanted to get out of the side, I’ve over-achieved. To beat Australia away and to lead the series in England in a Covid year? It is the most satisfying moment of my four decades in cricket,” said Shastri.

Within days of the book-launch function, where no masks were worn, Shastri had tested Covid-positive and went into isolation along with four members of his support staff. And when assistant physio Yogesh Parmar too tested positive, the players became anxious and finally the fifth and final Test in Manchester had to be called off.

“It was funny because in my 10 days I didn’t have a single symptom barring a little sore throat. I never had any temperature and my oxygen level was 99% all the time. I didn’t take any medication through 10 days of my isolation, not a single paracetamol. I tell the guys: ‘Once you’re double jabbed, it’s a bloody 10-day flu. That’s it,'” said Shastri.

On whether he discussed the emerging situation with players, Shastri replied, “No. I didn’t know who had got it (Covid-19). I didn’t know (the physio) got it suddenly and tested positive. He physically treated five or six players. I think that’s where the issue started. We were aware that the incubation period meant that someone might get it in the middle (of the Test). A lot of players had their families there. So it became a situation where you don’t know what that player is thinking. He’s got a young kid, you know, he’s got to think of them. It was a little, I would say, touchy.”

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National

I am being made a scapegoat for the cancelled Test: Shastri

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 Indian cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri has said that he was being made a scapegoat for the cancelled fifth Test against England at Manchester after he and three other members of the support staff tested positive for Covid-19 days after they attended a book-launch function in London.

The Virat Kohli-led side was on the threshold of creating history in the Manchester Test after beating England at The Oval in London. However, Shastri, bowling coach Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar and physiotherapist Nitin Patel tested Covid-19 positive after their RT-PCR confirmed the infection during The Oval Test.

A day before the start of the fifth Test, the second physiotherapist, Yogesh Parmar, too tested positive for the virus, which made the Indian cricketers anxious and led to the cancellation of the match.

However, Shastri said that he was getting flak for no fault of his.

“They tried to make it that way (make a scapegoat) but I wasn’t worried because incubation probably takes weeks. There were about 250 people there (for the book launch function) and no-one got Covid from that party. I’ve not got it at my book launch because it was on the 31st (August) and I tested positive on 3 September. It can’t happen in three days. I think I got it in Leeds. England opened up on 19 July and suddenly the hotels were back, lifts were back. No restrictions,” Shastri told ‘The Guardian’ on Saturday.

On whether he regrets going for the book launch, Shastri said, “I have absolutely no regrets because the people I met at that function were fabulous. And it was good for the boys to get out and meet different people rather than constantly being in their rooms. At the Oval Test, you were climbing stairs used by 5,000 people. So to point a finger at a book launch?”

The coach categorically said that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will not lose money on account of the cancelled fifth Test. The series was keenly poised with India leading 2-1 when the final Test was cancelled.

“The ECB have been outstanding and their relationship with Indian cricket is tremendous. People are talking about the money but I can guarantee the ECB will make that entire amount with interest. I don’t know if it’s a stand-alone Test next year or they give them an extra two T20 games, but the ECB will not lose a penny because of the relationship that exists. In 2008 when we had the [terrorist] blast in Mumbai, England came back and played the Test. We don’t forget that,” averred Shastri.

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