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KKR owe big win to Varun Chakravarthy, Rana and Narine




Leg-spinner Varun Chakravarthy’s five-wicket haul and superb half-centuries from Nitish Rana and off-spinner Sunil Narine combined to guide Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to a crucial 59-run win over Delhi Capitals (DC) that kept the team in contention for the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs.

The win took KKR to 12 points from 11 matches, though they remain at the fourth place in the eight-team competition. And despite the defeat, DC remain static at the second spot, behind Mumbai Indians. Both DC and MI, as well as Royal Challengers Bangalore have 14 points each.

Four top teams qualify for the playoffs. Overall, the race for the fourth qualifying spot, if not for other potions above it, is still wide open, with even the wooden spooners Chennai Super Kings still in the fray, though mathematically and not on form.

KKR, who were asked to bat by DC captain Shreyas Iyer, recovered from early jolts to put a respectable 194/6 wickets on board, thanks to Rana’s scintillating knock (81, 53 balls, 13x4s, 1×6). Later, Chakravarthy (4-0-20-5) ripped apart the KKR batting line-up as the spinner claimed the first five-wicket haul of the current tournament to restrict DC to 135 for nine wickets in 20 overs.

Chasing the target, Delhi never looked in control, barring a 63-run partnership between Iyer (47) and Rishabh Pant (27).

DC lost openers Ajinkya Rahane, who failed to open his account, and in-form Shikhar Dhawan (6) with just 13 runs on board before Iyer and Pant stabilised the innings. Both DC openers were claimed by Pat Cummins (3/17), who looked quite impressive after some lacklustre performance in the recent past.

Chakravarthy, however, didn’t let the partnership develop as he cut short Pant’s stay in the 12th over, leaving DC at 76/3.

It was an absolute carnage by the KKR’s Chakravarthy as he went on to pick the wickets of Shimron Hetmyer (10), Iyer, Marcus Stoinis (6) and Axar Patel (9) in quick succession to leave DC at 112/7 wickets in 15.5 overs.

Kagiso Rabada chipped in with nine runs before becoming a victim of Cummins while Ravichandran Ashwin remained unbeaten on 14 as DC failed to cross the line by huge margin.

It was DC’s fourth defeat of the season.

Earlier, Rana (81) and Sunil Narine (64)rescued KKR from early blows, helping their side post a challenging 194/6 in the allotted 20 overs.

Anrich Nortje (2/27) struck twice to pack up Shubman Gill (9) and Rahul Tripathi (13) while Kagiso Rabada (2/33) dismissed Dinesh Karthik (3) to leave KKR tottering at 42/3 in 7.2 overs.

However, Rana and Narine anchored the innings with a crucial 115-run partnership and in the process also notched up their respective half-centuries.

Rabada struck again in the 17th over to send back Narine, whose innings contained six boundaries and four sixes. His fall saw KKR skipper Eoin Morgan (17) joining Rana in the middle and the duo were involved in a brief 37-run stand.

While trying to improve the run-rate, Rana and Morgan fell on the final two balls of the final over of the innings. However, it hardly affected KKR, which had already managed to put a decent total on board.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders: 194/6 wkts in 20 overs (Nitish Rana 81, Sunil Narine 64; Anrich Nortje 2/27) beat Delhi Capitals: 135/9 wkts in 20 overs (Shreyas Iyer 47, Rishabh Pant 27; Varun Chakravarthy 5/20) by 59 runs


Pro League perfect test for us ahead of Olympics, says PR Sreejesh




India’s veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League matches will be a perfect test for the team ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We are hopeful the FIH Hockey Pro League matches are held as per schedule this year, that way we get good matches against strong teams ahead of Tokyo Olympics in July. These matches will be a perfect test for us as players as well as a team and I am sure the final team selection for the Olympics will depend on how well we do in these matches,” said Sreejesh.

On January 18 last year, the Indian team had made a sensational debut at the FIH Hockey Pro League with a 5-2 win against the Netherlands. Though in the next game, the Dutch bounced back to hold India 3-3 in regulation time, Sreejesh’s heroics in the shootout ensured India began the coveted League with back-to-back wins. The final score was 3-1 in India’s favour.

“It was one of the most memorable matches. I feel all of 2019, our true potential was not tested and we longed to play top teams like Netherlands, Australia and Belgium. FIH Hockey Pro League gave us that opportunity and we wanted to make it count,” said Sreejesh.

India came up with impressive performances against the World Champions Belgium and Australia too, winning a match each and losing a game by a close margin.

“It was a great learning experience and each of us worked on bringing out our individual best and execute our roles to perfection. The FIH Hockey Pro League was the perfect stepping stone for the Olympics,” he added.

In the next leg of Pro League matches, India are scheduled to play against Argentina in April, Great Britain, Spain and Germany in May. The team will also compete against New Zealand at home in May.

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Shooters Bhavesh Shekhawat and Aakanksha win on final day of trials




Rajasthan’s Bhavesh Shekhawat and Aakanksha Bansal of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) won the men’s and women’s 25 metres rapid fire pistol (RFP) T2 competitions as the National Shooting trials concluded at Dr Karni Singh Shooting range here on Monday.

Bhavesh shot 32 in the finals to leave Delhi’s Arpit Goel behind in second on a score of 27. Haryana’s Adarsh Singh came in third with 23.

Army marksman and T1 men’s RFP winner, Gurpreet Singh, won the qualifying round yet again with a score of 580. Bhavesh qualified sixth with 576.

In the women’s event, Aakanksha shot 548 to emerge the winner after the precision and rapid fire rounds. Uttar Pradesh’s Arunima Gaur was second with 544. Haryana’s Tejaswi was third with 542.

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Pune Khelo India centre to focus on shooting, athletics, and cycling




The ninth Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE), opened at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Mhalunge-Balewadi here on Monday in the presence of four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist rifle shooter Anjali Bhagwat, will focus on three priority Olympic disciplines — shooting, athletics, and cycling.

The KISCE will get financial support for renovation to operationalise the 25 metres electronic target shooting range besides support in providing of road and track cycles. They will also be provided financial support for sports science backup, engagement of coaches, support staff, sports equipment and more.

The Sports Authority of India (SAI) said in a statement that it would provide technical expertise and assistance.

The Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex has played a dominant role in Indian sports history. Some of the major events hosted here include the 2008 Commonwealth Youth Games, the under-16 Asia Basketball Championship for women in 2009, the Khelo India Youth Games 2019, and more. The stadium was also the home venue for erstwhile I-League team, Pune FC, and Indian Super League side, FC Pune City.

KISCE will ensure that athletes, proficient in certain sports can be given world-class specialised training and these centres, become the best facilities in the country to train athletes in the priority sport for which they have been earmarked.

“We are happy to extend all kinds of support for the development of all the athletes and even in future we will continue doing so,” said Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju

Maharashtra’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Sunil Kedar, reaffirmed that the government was dedicated to strengthen the sports ecosystem.

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