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Mary Kom’s absence an opportunity for others: Mohammed Ali Qamar




The Indian women boxing squad will be leaving for Bangkok early next week to participate in the Asian championship without star pugilist M.C. Mary Kom. However, it does not perturb chief coach Mohammed Ali Qamar, who is confident of a good show.

“In the 2017 Asian meet, we won one gold, one silver and four bronze medals. This time we should do equally well, if not better,” Qamar told IANS on Saturday.

The only gold medal in 2017 meet was won by Mary Kom in the 48kg. “Mary’s absence is definitely a blow. We are going without her since she has decided to skip the meet to prepare for the World championship in the new 51-kg category. But there are young boxers, who are capable of shining for India,” Qamar said.

“Mind it, the Asian championship (April 16 to 27) is going to be extremely tough…..there will be top boxers involved. If we do well here, our confidence will be high for the World meet,” warned the Indian chief coach.

Qamar was a celebrated light flyweight boxer during his career – his name got etched in Indian sporting history in 2002 when he became the first Indian to win a boxing gold medal in Commonwealth Games. Presently holding the charge of Indian women’s team, Qamar is amazed by the depth of women’s boxing in India.

“I shall not be surprised if India win gold medal in 48-kg or 64-kg categories,” Qamar said without naming any particular boxer. While Nitu would be India’s representative in 48-kg, Simranjit Kaur would spearhead India’s challenge in 64-kg. In the World championship in Delhi last November, Simranjit won the bronze medal.

Apart from Simranjit, two other Indian medal winners in the World meet, Sonia Chahal (silver in 57-kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (bronze in 69-kg) are also there in the squad.

“There is a huge depth in Indian women boxing now. During our time, only a handful of girls played the sport. Since women’s boxing has been introduced in Olympics, lots of nations, including Europeans have come up. Cuba did not do much, but now that there are five weight categories in Olympics, they may also try it out,” said Qamar.

“The change in India is big. Previously, there were women boxers, who won titles at the national level many years at a stretch. Now things are completely different with the new generation. Even in national camp, you will find 50-odd women boxers. Beside this, there are many girls, who are capable of representing India..may be they lack in experience. The competition has become tough,” added Qamar.


Mumbai Indians announce partnership with DHL




Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Mumbai Indians (MI) on Monday announced its partnership with DHL Express. The international express service provider has joined MI as a principal sponsor and official logistics partner ahead of the 2021 season of the IPL.

This is DHL Express’s first cricket sponsorship. It has previously been involved with Rugby Sevens Series, ESL One, MotoGP and Formula 1 along with being involved with Premier League giants Manchester United.

“We are delighted to partner with global brand DHL Express. The combination of DHL Express’ international market network, and Mumbai Indians’ global fan following, brings in a unique dimension to our partner association programme, allowing both brands to leverage its vast consumer interface,” said an MI spokesperson.

“Globally, DHL supports some of the world’s largest and most popular sports formats — from football to rugby, Formula One and even e-sports. Today marks our foray into another crowd favourite, T20 Cricket. Cricket is a game that is well-loved and followed with ardent devotion in India, and many nations across the world. It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to come on board as a Principal Sponsor and Official Logistics Partner for Mumbai Indians,” said DHL Express India Senior VP and MD RS Subramanian.

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Not many can bowl straight balls on spinners’ track like Axar: Dhiraj Parsana




Dhiraj Parsana, former India left-arm spinner and the long-time curator at the Motera stadium here, remembers a young Axar Patel as someone who had a beautiful high-arm action when the youngster would visit Motera for camps and age-group cricket tournaments.

But with time and to adapt to limited-overs cricket, Patel has switched his bowling style to round-arm and that has held him in good stead in Test cricket as well, said the 73-year-old Parsana who is now living a retired life here.

Patel took 11 wickets for 70 runs in the third Test to help India win by 10 wickets and take a 2-1 lead in the series. He has taken three successive five-wicket hauls.

“He is different (from what we were or others have been). Axar is playing in the times of T20 and 50-over matches. He has played all three formats. But I remember when he started at Motera and used to come for trials and to play junior cricket for Gujarat. Back then, he had a beautiful action and despite his height he had a high-arm action. Now he is just coming a little bit side-arm which has helped him. He is a very intelligent bowler. Because of his height he cannot flight the ball too much since the bats are very good and the balls can go out of the boundary line (if he gives too much flight),” recalls Parsana, who played two Test matches and represented Saurashtra, Gujarat and Railways in 93 first-class matches.

He also served as the BCCI’s chief curator (West Zone) between 1997 and 2018 and chief curator in Ahmedabad from 1982 to 2018.

“There are not many bowlers, who can bowl straight balls on a turning track like him. The arm ball, that he bowls so well, is a left-arm spinner’s weapon. When you bowl an arm-ball you make the batsman play on the back-foot. It comes all of a sudden. So he has a great chance of getting bowled or lbw decisions and that is how he got them,” adds Parsana.

“He has to get the side-arm action because he is a very tall fellow, (close to) six feet. So if he goes as when he started as a junior with the ball he could go very high. But now when he delivers the ball, he has to go low down. Most of the bowlers are bowling flat (nowadays),” said Parsana who is happy that someone from Gujarat has made it to the India team.

Gujarat, as a Ranji team, hadn’t produced too many Test cricketers. Parsana was the last one to play for India before Parthiv Patel made his debut in 2002, 22 years after the former left-arm spinner played the last of his two Tests. Parsana though feels that he got his chance when he was past his prime but was fortunate to get a chance ahead of many others due to his all-round ability.

“I was very happy someone from Gujarat got an opportunity (in Tests). He (Axar) is in the right time, right place. He has got a really bright future,” adds Parsana.

“Axar knew those (England) guys were struggling and going for the spinning ball. So he trapped them with the arm ball that went straight. It was great and intelligent bowling,” he added.

“Axar is a fine all-rounder, very intelligent. He has come through the ranks, playing age group cricket. He was a very consistent bowler and batsman. I think he deserves the opportunity. The competition nowadays is much tougher than it was in my days. There are many fighting for a place — Jadeja, Nadeem etc. It is very tough in the professional arena.”

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SunRisers Hyderabad’s David Warner looking ahead to IPL 2021




SunRisers Hyderabad’s David Warner is already looking forward to the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and leading the franchise again, even though the dates of the T20 tournament are yet to be announced.

“One of my things to do is lead this unbelievable franchise @sunrisershyd the entire team from fans, Owners, staff, players and ground staff. We have always had an amazing bunch of people be apart [sic] of the franchise and I am looking forward to the coming season. #orangearmy #cricket #india,” he wrote on Instagram.

Warner, 34, captained SunRisers to the IPL title in 2016, when his team defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by eight runs in the final played in Bengaluru.

A hard-hitting Australian opening batsman, Warner was laid low by a groin injury during the recent series against India in Australia. He is planning to return to action on March 4 in a domestic match.

“Just to clarify a comment I made on commentary last night, that “My Groin”will need on going treatment and will have an annoying pain for at least 6-9 months. I am returning to play for NSW on the 4th March 2021 [sic],” Warner tweeted on February 23.

Warner has played 86 Tests, 128 ODIs, and 81 T20 Internationals.

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