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Saturday,12-June-2021

National

Perfect reward for season-long consistency: Sunil Chhetri to FC Goa

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Team India football captain Sunil Chhetri has congratulated FC Goa on becoming the first Indian club to play in the AFC Champions League by confirming their position at the top of the league table in the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL) season.

Goa beat Jamshedpur 5-0 on Wednesday to end the ISL league season on 39 points, putting them completely out of the reach of second-placed ATK, who are on 33 points with one match to play.

“Congratulations are in order for FC Goa on bagging the AFC Champions League spot. The perfect reward for season-long consistency,” tweeted Chhetri on Thursday.

Earlier, Football and Sports Development Limited (FSDL) chairperson Nita Ambani also congratulated FC Goa and said: “Congratulations to FC Goa for creating history and becoming the first-ever Indian football club to qualify for the prestigious AFC Champions League.”

“Their success is testament to the efforts put in by the players, coaching staff and management.”

In addition to winning the Champions League spot next season, FC Goa will also receive the ‘League Winners Shield’ and a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh for winning the league phase.

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Pacer Chetan Sakariya prepares for SL with energy development programme

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Left-arm pace bowler Chetan Sakariya, who has been picked in India’s squad for the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka, has said he is currently working in Chennai on ‘energy system development’ which helps in sustaining energy over a long period of time through dedicated training routines.

“I feel my movements are swifter, my core is stronger, and I believe I am bowling a tad quicker as well. This side of training is not something I knew a lot of growing up, but I have felt a lot of change in the way I feel about myself. It has been a busy routine in Chennai, but one I am happy and satisfied with. I am looking forward to learning a lot more with the Indian team,” said the 23-year-old Saurashtra bowler who was picked by Rajasthan Royals for Rs.1.2 crore at this year’s IPL mini-auction. He picked seven wickets in seven matches.

“The franchise was very supportive of that (training in Chennai) and arranged everything — like my accommodation and travel — so that I could become a better version of myself. For the last 15 days, I have had two intense training sessions every day, with a short break for lunch and rest,” Sakariya was quoted as saying by espncricinfo.com.

Sakariya, who hails from a village just 10 kilometres from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, said he would have been satisfied even if he were picked as a net bowler for the tour of Sri Lanka.

“I would have been happy just going to Sri Lanka as a net bowler, so this is a massive surprise. At the IPL, I thought I exceeded my own expectations. Initially, I thought I may have to wait for my turn at the Royals, but once I got into the camp, the kind of confidence and faith everyone showed in me, I got the vibes that I will start. So while it is a surprise to be picked for India, I am very much ready and confident with the way I have prepared.”

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Ruturaj Gaikwad wants to pick Rahul Dravid’s brain in Sri Lanka

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Opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was a surprise selection in the 20-member India squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, has been forced to follow ‘early to bed-early to rise’ routine due to lockdown in Pune, his hometown, over the last month.

“In Pune, there has been a lockdown since May, and things have been open only from 7-11 am. So I wanted to ensure I did not spend that time sleeping,” Gaikwad said.

“I wanted to utilise more of that time for my fitness work and gym work. I did not want myself to be caught off-guard and be in a situation where I was picked but was not conditioned enough,” the right-handed batsman told espncricinco.com.

Gaikwad said he was not aware of the news of his selection initially as he was not following it. He was in his bed and had switched off mobile data to ensure repeated alerts do not disturb him.

However, once he started receiving repeated calls, he picked up the phone and learned the news of his selection.

“When I go to sleep, I generally switch off mobile data. I know if it is an emergency, someone will generally call twice. When my phones started ringing continuously, I was not first sure what it was. Then two journalists informed me of my selection,” said Gaikwad.

“I had to wake my parents up to tell them. They were quite deep in sleep, and were not fully able to process what I was telling them at first. But this morning they woke up really happy and made some pedas (sweets) at home, and I was happy to make an exception and have them to celebrate the happy news.”

Gaikwad, who endured an ordinary run in Vijay Hazare One-dayers and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s but racked up five half-centuries in 13 matches across Indian Premier League’s 2020 and 2021 editions, says he is not sure if he will get a chance to play in Sri Lanka. But he said he wants to use this opportunity to learn.

“I was not thinking much about my selection. Even now, I am not thinking on the lines of ‘will I play’. I am looking forward to learning the knack of adaptability, something that will be very important going forward.

“Dhawan and a few of the other seniors have played a lot of international cricket, so I would like to learn from them by chatting to them about how they assess conditions, how they have adapted, how they have used their experience and learnt from their failures.

“I am also really excited to train and spend a month under Rahul Dravid, who was our India A coach when I was part of the team two years ago. He was with us on three tours, and we started to get familiar with each other. So when he was appointed the National Cricket Academy chief, I was personally disappointed at not being able to pick his brains anymore. But now, getting a chance to do that will be very useful for me,” added Gaikwad.

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Indian cricket team begins England trip with intra-squad practice tie

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India cricketers, who are serving a 10-day quarantine period here ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final, began their England sojourn with a two-day intra-squad practice match here at Hampshire Bowl.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released pictures as well as a video on Saturday with the highlights of first day’s play on Friday.

India captain Virat Kohli is seen batting, defending and clipping the ball off his toes, as also Shubman Gill and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who is seen hammering a big shot.

Pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Siraj are seen bowling. Newcomer Arzan Nagwaswalla is also seen in action. Spinner R Ashwin is also seen rolling his arm over.

Pant apparently reached a milestone as he is shown lifting his bat in celebration.

The Indian team is on a three-and-a-half month tour of England where it plays the WTC final against New Zealand from June 18 and then a five-Test series in August-September.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, India are not allowed to play any local club or county team unlike in the past.

Even New Zealand played an intra-squad warm-up game last month on arrival in Southampton.

However, unlike the Indian cricket board, New Zealand Cricket passed on the details of the match especially the outstanding performances from the day’s play.

The Indians had reached Southampton on June 3. Their workload increased gradually as directed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which is hosting the WTC final.

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