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Tuesday,18-January-2022

International

Requested for PL U-23 Asia Trophy to be held in India: Nita Ambani

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Chairperson and founder of Football Sports Development Limited and Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani, on Friday said she has requested Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters to host the league’s U-23 Asia Trophy in India.

Nita Ambani joined Masters at the Premier League-ISL Next Generation Mumbai Cup to sign a new agreement that will see the ISL and Premier League continue to work together to share knowledge and expertise in all areas of the elite game.

“I have requested Richard if the Premier League Asia Cup U-23 can be held in India because it will be a big boost for Indian football,” she said.

On FC Goa becoming the first team to qualify for AFC Champions League group stages, Nita Ambani said: “We are delighted FC Goa created history by getting a slot to play in ACL. It is a dream to see India qualify for World Cup in 2026. As you know there will be 48 teams and there will be eight slots for Asian teams. We are currently 19th in Asia and if we can be 12th in the next two years, we have a good chance.”

Reliance Foundation Young Champs beat Manchester United 1-0 in the final league game of the Premier League-ISL Next Generation Mumbai Cup here. On the win, she said: “I think it was a great game to watch. I stand for development of youth games and I think participation in such games is very important for our children. From India as well as from England and the exposure our children have got today is something that they will treasure. Winning and losing will happen in their lives but this exposure and development of football that we are doing is far more important.”

“ISL has always believed in grassroots development. At Reliance Foundation, we are following the pyramid structure of developing football at the base level. This year we started with 6-12 age group children’s league. Then in the middle we have the youth sports and then on top of that sits the young champs.

“I believe the journey is very important. We develop talent at the young level. This partnership will really help us in developing ISL’s grasroots programme and the youth programme,” she added.

Nita Ambani pointed out that this has been a landmark year for ISL with ATK merging with Mohun Bagan, the Premier League renewing Mutual Cooperation Agreement and City Football Group buying majority stakes in Mumbai City FC.

“It has been a landmark year in ISL. We had so many big things. This Premier League tie-up, Mohun Bagan joining with ATK, CFG investments in Mumbai City and now Goa making it to the ACL,” she smiled.

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Want to imbibe qualities of players like Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz: Mariana Kujur

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Young Indian women’s team forward Mariana Kujur feels the Asia Cup, scheduled to commence here on January 21, is a great opportunity to make a mark in the senior side, adding that she would like to learn as much as possible from stalwarts such as Deep Grace Ekka during the tournament.

Defending champions India will open their campaign in the women’s Asia Cup against Malaysia on January 21.

Kujur, who hails from the hockey belt of Sundargarh in Odisha and is a product of the Panposh Academy, said she idolised her senior compatriots Deep Grace Ekka, Lilima Minz and Nimita Toppo who are all products of Odisha’s rich hockey culture.

“I am grateful for this opportunity. The women’s Asia Cup is a prestigious tournament in the international calendar and I want to use this opportunity to perform the role I’ve been assigned and live up to the team’s expectations. The past few weeks in the camp in Bengaluru have been good for me as I worked on understanding the level at which the senior team plays and I believe I have developed good on-field communication with the players particularly in the forward-line and the midfield,” said Kujur.

Having arrived in Muscat on January 16, the team has put in hard yards in order to get used to the conditions and Kujur said the team is upbeat ahead of their first game.

“After arriving in Muscat, we had a few good sessions of hockey. The weather is quite pleasant and we are getting used to the pitch at the Sultan Quboos Sports Complex. It is a beautiful venue and the team is quite excited ahead of the first match.”

Speaking about being part of the same team, which features one of her idols Deep Grace Ekka leading the team as the vice-captain, Mariana said, “Deep Grace is such a cool-headed player. She never lets the opponents get the better of her even in pressure situations. There is a lot that I can learn from her and she’s been quite supportive all along. She always advices me to play my natural game and not feel the pressure of playing for the Senior side. I think that way, all the players have been quite supportive and I am really looking forward to having a good outing here,” she stated.

India are grouped in Pool A along with Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. They will begin their campaign against Malaysia on January 21, and will play Japan on January 23. India will take on Singapore in their last Pool A match on January 24.

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U-19 CWC: Haseebullah Khan’s century gives Pakistan a flying start

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Pakistan got off to a flying start in the Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup, as wicketkeeper-batter Haseebullah Khan smashed a century to help them crush Zimbabwe by 115 runs in a Group C match at the Diego Martin Sporting Complex here on Tuesday (IST).

Flaunting their batting strength, Pakistan put on 315/9, thanks to a Haseebullah 135 (155 balls, 10 fours, 4 sixes). Zimbabwe fell more than a century short in the chase despite an 83-run eighth-wicket partnership between Brian Bennett and Tendekai Mataranyika.

‘Player of the match’ Haseebullah also earned the distinction of posting the highest score of the U-19 World Cup so far. Haseebullah and Irfan Khan combined for a mammoth 192-run third-wicket partnership before the latter was forced to go for 81 from 77 balls after being caught by David Bennett off the bowling of Mcgini Dube.

Zimbabwe continued the fight-back, led by right-arm seamer Alex Falao, who took the wicket of Haseebullah on his way to 58/5 as Pakistan ended with 315/9. Zimbabwe had already produced a score higher than this against Papua New Guinea in their opening game of Group C but faltered in this chase.

Matthew Welch and Steven Saul combined at the top of the order to put on 34 for the first wicket. The next six wickets fell for 77 runs before a timely partnership of 83 runs between Bennett and Mataranyika gave Zimbabwe a glimmer of hope.

But with Bennett’s dismissal they were left needing 121 runs with only 58 balls remaining, Mataranyika followed his partner back to the hutch two balls later before the final wicket of Mcgini Dube fell to hand Pakistan a convincing 115-run victory.

Brief scores: Pakistan 315/9 in 50 overs (Haseebullah Khan 135, Irfan Khan 75; Alex Falao 5/58) beat Zimbabwe 200 in 42.4 overs (Brian Bennett 83; Awais Ali 6/56) by 115 runs.

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Australia’s No.1-ranked T20I woman batter Mooney out of Ashes with broken jaw

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The Australian women’s cricket team suffered a huge setback on Tuesday after their world No.1-ranked T20I batter Beth Mooney was ruled on the eve of the Ashes with a broken jaw.

The 28-year-old Mooney suffered the injury during Australia’s team training. Australia and England are scheduled to play the opening match of the multi-format Ashes when they clash in the first of the three T20Is on January 20 at Sydney.

The T20Is will be followed by a one-off Test and a three match ODI series.

Mooney was hit by a ball under the grill of her helmet during training and will undergo immediate surgery, according to Cricket Australia.

The injury all but rules Mooney out of the series, and the left-hander is also in doubt for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup beginning in March in New Zealand.

Mooney has been a mainstay of Australia’s top order across the formats, boasting the top individual ranking in T20I cricket and two centuries in both international limited-overs formats.

A replacement for Mooney is yet to be named, though Australia have backup with the Australia ‘A’ side joining the Ashes squad for series preparation.

While Rachael Haynes seems a likely option to step into Mooney’s spot, it also opens the door for a number of other ‘A’ team members such as Elyse Villani, Georgia Redmayne, Grace Harris and young gun Phoebe Litchfield.

Mooney’s injury is not Australia’s only issue, with Ellyse Perry’s arrival in Adelaide delayed due to a COVID-19 scare. Molly Strano and Katie Mack, two players in the Australia ‘A’ squad, will also miss action after testing positive for COVID-19.

Australia squad for the Ashes: Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (captain), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck.

Australia A squad: Georgia Redmayne (captain), Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Phoebe Litchfield, Katie Mack, Courtney Sippel, Molly Strano, Elyse Villani, Georgia Voll, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

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