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SA v IND: It’s a great opportunity to do well in these conditions, says Dravid

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India head coach Rahul Dravid has urged his team to grab the great opportunity of performing well in South Africa. He added that a large chunk of a players career is defined by the performances coming against good oppositions in their backyard. India begin the quest for a maiden Test series win in South Africa with the first match starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion from Sunday.

“It’s a great challenge. But I look at it as a great opportunity for anyone, whether you are in-form or out of form, it’s a great opportunity to do well in these conditions. It’s always something that we look forward to as a batsman. To be honest, playing in conditions away from home and having that opportunity to do well and test yourself against some really good opposition in their home conditions,” said Dravid in the pre-match virtual press conference.

“A lot of your career is defined by those kinds of performances. I think it is a good opportunity for everyone to step up and put in those kinds of performances that will help the team win. From an individual perspective, it is something that they and the people will remember them for,” added Dravid.

Dravid, who made 624 runs in 22 innings at a low average of 29.71 as a player in South Africa, is aware of the challenges in adjusting to conditions in the Rainbow nation. “It has always been a challenge because of the alien nature of the conditions. It does take a little bit of time to get used to the wickets. Especially when we start here in Centurion where even on the first couple of days in the nets you realise that it is slightly and considerably different to what you are used to.”

At the same time, he has expressed confidence in previous playing experience of the Indian team in South Africa to help in adapting quickly to the conditions. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, and Wriddhiman Saha are on their fourth tour of the country. Captain Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Ajinkya Rahane, and Mohammed Shami are on their third tour while vice-captain KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah are on their second tour of South Africa.

“But I think there has been good quality and experience in this team as well. What we can take confidence from now is that a lot of our players have now been travelling quite extensively over the last few years. The team has been quite settled. In terms of batting and bowling, we have got some young players but we have also got guys with experience for whom this is not necessarily their first tour. They have been here before, so they are well aware of those conditions. Hopefully, they will be able to adapt quickly. We have done our bit in training, done our best and it is now about being able to best adapt to the conditions and execute when the game starts.”

Talking about the preparation, Dravid feels that India are well-prepared despite having no warm-up match in the lead-up to the series opener. “In the past, when India has done well in the series, you generally had a good lead-in time in terms of preparation leading into the series, particularly leading into the first Test match. Honestly, that’s the nature of the way things are at the moment in the kind of schedules we are working with. Also, with the kind of COVID situations we have and quarantines and bubbles, it’s not easy to get exactly what you want.”

“But I think the team has responded very well. We have had some really good quality practice over the last week. We had some really good centre-wicket sessions, probably the next best thing after a tour game. But we worked hard and trained over the week. In terms of the conditions, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. You put in six to seven good days of practice, net sessions, and quality work.”

“The bowlers have run in hard and are able to balance out the fitness work they are required to do as well. I think we are ready, prepared, and really happy with the way the guys have responded, the high intensity at our practice sessions, and how relaxed and calm the boys have been around the group. It’s been great,” concluded the 48-year-old.

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Thomas Cup: All the players have gone crazy, slept with medals around their necks, says HS Prannoy

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When they left Indian shores for the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Bangkok, none of the Indian men’s team players had expected that they would win their maiden title.

They had expected to win a medal, probably bronze. But a gold medal was beyond their imagination, and that is the reason why the players went to bed late on Sunday night with medals still around their necks.

“We never thought we will win the Thomas Cup; we were thinking that we had a good chance of winning a medal but this is beyond our dreams,” said HS Prannoy, who won two tie-deciding third singles matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals to propel the Indian team into the final against Indonesia.

“All the players have gone crazy since the win against Indonesia in the final. We had a huge celebratory dinner, spoke to friends and family and just enjoyed ourselves. Most of us slept Sunday night with medals around our necks, It’s such a beautiful medal,” said Prannoy during an online interaction with select journalists from Bangkok.

The 29-year-old from Kerala said, though they ran onto the court for wild celebrations after Kidambi Srikanth defeated Jonatan Christie in the second singles to seal India’s 3-0 victory against Indonesia, the feeling and importance of the achievement only sunk in early on Monday morning.

“It’s only sinking in now that what an achievement we have had. It will definitely be an inspiration for the next generation of badminton players in the country. They will think that if these guys can win the Thomas Cup, we also can,” Prannoy said.

Prannoy said it was a very crucial week and an unbelievable experience for him and the nine other players that are part of the Indian men’s team because they have not seen this level of bonding between the players.

“All of us will never forget this week in our lives. I have played in team competitions earlier also and have known all these players on the circuit, but this entire week was totally different. Everyone was supporting each other, encouraging and guiding each other. It was a great experience,” said Prannoy.

Prannoy is scheduled to participate in the Thailand Open this week in Bangkok and will return to India after May 21. Just like all other players, he wants to share this joy personally with his family and friends. But before that, there is the unfinished business of the Thailand Open. Expect some more fireworks from the Indian players in Bangkok this week.

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Sarthak Chavan achieves historic podium finish at Thailand Talent Cup

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Honda Racing India rider Sarthak Chavan has created history by securing a podium finish at Thailand Talent Cup (TTC) 2022 Round 2 at Chang International Circuit, here.

This marks the first time in the racing history of Honda Racing India that an Indian rider has achieved this remarkable feat.

Showcasing his riding skills, the 15-year-old lad from Pune meticulously maneuvered his way in race 2 of the round to reach top 5 after his 12th position start on the grid. Giving a tough fight to the competition even under wet conditions, Sarthak boldly took on the finest of Asian riders and finished the race in third place with just 0.583 seconds behind the race leader.

“I am very happy with my performance in this round as I was able to give my maximum on the track. With learnings from the last round and training with my mentors, I achieved 3rd place on the podium. This win has boosted my confidence and I will continue to fight hard to bring more laurels for the country,” Sarthak said in a release issued by his racing company on Wednesday.

Sarthak’s teammate Kavin Quintal (16-year-old) too showed the might of a confident young Indian rider in the race. Starting 15th on the grid of 16 riders, the Chennai boy made a good start and overtook 5 riders in lap 1 itself. From there till the end of race 2, Kavin persevered through the stiff competition and closed at 9th position with the total time of 29:50.642.

The combined effort of the two riders helped the team gain 32 points. The Honda Racing India team entered the second round of Thailand Talent Cup 2022 with a total of 13 points. After securing 12th & 15th place on the grid in qualifying race of round 2, Sarthak Chavan and Kavin Quintal showed aggression in race 1 and climbed up to finish at 9th and 13th position respectively.

With this, Sarthak added 6 points and Kavin 4 points to his kitty. With the end of round 2 of Thailand Talent Cup 2022, Sarthak Chavan now holds a total of 35 points while his teammate Kavin Quintal has 10 points in his kitty.

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Rudrankksh and Abhinav, make it 1-2 for India in men’s 10m air rifle at Suhl Junior World Cup

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India made it a 1-2 in the men’s 10m air rifle competition of the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany, after Rudrankksh Balasaheb Patil won gold and Abhinav Shaw silver in a tight title-decider going 17-13 in the former’s favour.

The Indian duo shot consistently well throughout Wednesday morning, first crossing the eight-man final stage elimination hurdle and then putting up a show in the gold-medal matchup.

Earlier on Tuesday, day one of competitions, Rudrankksh had also topped the qualification stage with 627.5 points, leading three Indians into the top-eight stage. Paarth Makhija accompanied the duo, holding on to his fifth position in qualifying in the end classifications.

But Wednesday morning belonged to Rudrankksh who dominated all three stages of the competition over two days of shooting. In the final, it was Abhinav who started the stronger in the early stages, going up 4-2 after the first three shots.

Rudrankksh recovered quickly though, and went past his countryman, keeping his nose ahead till the very end to seal victory. Germnay’s Nils Palberg won bronze.

In Junior women’s 10m air rifle, Ramita of India, after topping qualification on Tuesday with a solid 630.5, also topped the final stage elimination with a score of 261.0. However, she settled for silver in the end, going down 8-16 to France’s Oceanne Muller, the reigning junior world champion and Tokyo Olympics finalist, in the gold medal match.

India are presently topping the medals tally as well with one gold and two silver medals.

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