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Monday,25-January-2021

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Praful Patel: Won’t break promise to meet I-League clubs

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Newly-elected FIFA council member Praful Patel, on Saturday said he will use his position in the world body for the greater good of Indian football.

Speaking to IANS, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) president said he would soon resolve the crisis that has arisen after seven I-League teams decided to boycott the Super Cup.

“I am happy with the victory here, because my election to FIFA council is also a proud moment for India. I also feel personally honoured to become the first Indian to represent the country in the council of the world body, which is a prestigious thing,” said Patel, moments after a record-breaking victory during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress in Kuala Lumpur.

“This will help us to develop Indian football, help us to get more FIFA competition, more developmental funds, everything….it will help Indian football in the long run,” he added.

A total of 5 candidates including Patel were elected to FIFA in addition to the AFC president, and one female member for the 2019-2023 term. Patel secured the highest number of votes among the candidates, getting 38 votes out of a possible 46. In the AFC Congress, he was accompanied by AIFF senior vice president Subroto Dutta and general secretary Kushal Das.

The AIFF boss said Indian football would remain his biggest priority despite being elected to FIFA. “My responsibility is Indian football. This position I have gained today would be also to use and help Indian football. I have to use this opportunity to take it to greater heights,” he said.

Asked whether his elevated position in FIFA would help the Indian national team since it has been doing relatively well at the international level, Patel said: “That is one place where we have to work hard at the grassroots and increase all other activities to take the team forward. Of course I will use this position to get more international friendlies for India.”

Patel said there was no going back on his promise to meet the I-League clubs this month.

“We will find a solution to the problem. The work is in progress. You should know, I am in the middle of elections. I have national election in hand and till today had this FIFA election. I promised to meet them (the clubs) after 11th. I will meet them. I have already told them about it,” said Patel.

On Patel’s election, Das said “We at AIFF are extremely proud of him. This is a major development for India’s football fraternity. Best wishes on his new endeavour”.

Congratulating Patel, Dutta said: “He fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to higher heights. Asian football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member.”

National

One of the grittiest batters in the game, Cheteshwar Pujara turns 33

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Cheteshwar Pujara on Monday turned 33 and his teammates, including Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, led the pouring in of wishes for India’s Test batting mainstay.

During the recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, Pujara faced a total of 928 balls — the fifth-most by a visiting batsman in Australia in four or fewer Tests.

He scored 271 runs at a strike rate of 33.88, with the help of 29 fours and played a key role in India’s remarkable Test series victory, which included a historic win at the Gabba in Brisbane. As India chased down 328 in the final innings, Pujara endured as amany as 11 blows but put up a “great wall” against the Aussie onslaught.

During the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar series Down Under, Pujara had faced a total of 1,258 deliveries and had scored 521 runs at an average of 74.43 and a strike rate of 41.21 with the help of 50 fours and two sixes.

“Happy birthday pujji. Wish you good health, happiness and more hours at the crease. Have a great year ahead,” tweeted India skipper Kohli.

“He makes playing hours of cricket look easy and is one of the strongest guys I know. Happy birthday Puji,” said Ajinkya Rahane, who led India to their second Test series win in Australia, in an Instagram story.

“He takes body blows, grinds it out in the middle, braves it all & stands tall. 81 Tests, 6111 runs, 13572 balls faced, 18 hundreds. Here’s wishing Team India’s Mr. Dependable Cheteshwar Pujara a very happy birthday,” the official Twitter handle of BCCI said in their wishes.

“Happy birthday to the Wall 2.0 Cheteshwar Pujara. One of the grittiest batters in the game,” said the International Cricket Council (ICC) while extending birthday wishes.

Ashwin posted a video on social media to wish Pujara and termed the Indian batsman “Rock of Gibraltar”. In the video, Ashwin’s daughter can be seen extending birthday greetings to Pujara.

“Many more happy returns of the day Rock of Gibraltar Cheteshwar Pujara, can’t thank you enough for being my bunny though,” Ashwin said.

“Wishing you a very happy birthday Cheteshwar Pujara bhai. May you continue winning games for India and score a lot of runs,” said Umesh Yadav.

“Wishing a very happy birthday Birthday @cheteshwar1 who put his body on the line for the country proud of the brave fight you gave the Aussies! Best wishes for the England series,” tweeted Yuvraj Singh.

Pujara has played a total of 81 Tests for India in which he has scored 6,111 runs. Besides, he has also played five ODIs for the Men in Blue in which he amassed 51 runs.

He will next be seen in action in the four-match Test series against England beginning February 5 in Chennai.

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Shikhar Dhawan’s boat ride spells trouble for boatman

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Cricketer Shikhar Dhawan’s boat ride on the Ganga river in Varanasi, has landed the boatman in trouble.

Dhawan was seen in photographs, feeding birds during a boat ride.

Varanasi District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma told a news agency that action would be taken against the boatman but not the tourist.

“It was made clear by the police and the administration to the boatmen that they should not allow the tourists on their boat to feed the birds. Whosoever flouted these rules will be served notice and they will be asked as to why their license should not be cancelled.

“No action will be taken against the tourists,” Sharma was quoted as saying by the media.

The state government has banned feeding of birds by tourists in the wake of the bird flu scare.

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England to start summer with two-Test series against Black Caps

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England will start their home international summer with a two-Test series against New Zealand beginning June 2, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Monday.

The two Tests will be played at Lord’s (June 2-6) and Edgbaston (June 10-14).

Then England will face Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series at Sophia Gardens (June 23 and 24) and The Ageas Bowl (June 26). These matches will be followed by a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka between June 29 and July 4.

After the Sri Lanka series, England will take on Pakistan in three ODIs and as many T20Is from July 8 to 20.

“The prospect of our England men’s team taking on the world’s two top-ranked Test nations in New Zealand and India this summer is something for us all to savour,” ECB CEO Tom Harrison said in a statement.

Currently, the Joe Root-led England are in Sri Lanka participating in a two-match Test series. After that, they will be travelling to India to compete in four-match Test series, followed by five T20Is and three ODIs.

India will also be touring England for a five-match Test series, currently scheduled to begin from August 4 in Nottingham.

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