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Saturday,12-June-2021

National

Srihari Nataraj inches closer to Olympic ‘A’ qualification mark

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Teenage swimmer Srihari Nataraj clocked 54.10 seconds in the men’s 100 metres backstroke preliminary round of the Uzbekistan Open Summer Swimming Championships in Tashkent on Thursday to inch closer to Olympic ‘A’ qualification time of 53.85 seconds.

The 19-year-old Nataraj, who hails from Bengaluru, has a personal best of 54.69 seconds, which is ‘B’ qualification mark clocked in the 2019 World Junior Championships held in Budapest.

The final will be held later in the evening. If he cracks the Olympic ‘A’ qualification mark in the men’s 100 metres backstroke he will become the first Indian swimmer to achieve the feat.

Six Indians swimmers, including Sajan Prakash, had achieved Olympic ‘B’ qualification time in the 2019. The ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee an automatic berth for the Olympics.

The 2020 season was disrupted by the Covid pandemic and as swimming competitions resumed this year, all the six swimmers are chasing ‘A’ cut time in their respective events.

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National

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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National

Always ensure everyone gets a chance on India A, U-19 tours: Rahul Dravid

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Rahul Dravid.

Rahul Dravid, a former India captain and director of cricket at Indian board’s National Cricket Academy (NCA), has said he gives every player an opportunity on India A tours to ensure they don’t face the frustration he had to face as a youngster.

“I tell them upfront, if you come on an A tour with me, you will not leave here without playing a game,” Dravid was quoted as saying by The Cricket Monthly.

“I’ve had that personal experience myself as a kid: going on an A tour and not getting an opportunity to play is terrible. You’ve done well, you scored 700-800 runs, you go, and you don’t get a chance to show what you’re good at. And then you’re back to square one from the selectors’ point of view, because the next season you have to score those 800 runs again,” added Dravid who is likely to accompany the India white-ball team on tour of Sri Lanka. He has travelled as coach of India A and India under-19 teams.

The 48-year-old former India No. 3, who scored 13,288 runs in Test cricket and 10,889 in ODI cricket, said he always tries to make five to six changes between games at under-19 level.

“It is not easy to do that, so there is no guarantee you’ll get a chance again. So you tell people upfront: this is the best 15 and we are playing them. This is not about the supposed best XI. At U-19, we make five-six changes between games if we can,” he adds.

Dravid has been credited with blooding youngsters and making them fit to take field at international level. The former batsman and a battery of former international cricketers are at the NCA grooming youngsters.

They pick a set of 150 players from across the domestic structure and give them real match practice and also accompany them to India A and India under-19 tours.

Dravid said that while passion in India is high, youngsters need to get facilities and training to be able to reach and perform at the highest level.

“Playing on the beach and playing on the road doesn’t make you a cricketer. It makes you someone who loves the game. That’s what we had. We had a lot of people who loved the game,” added Dravid.

“Unless you give that guy a proper matting wicket or a turf wicket, unless you give him some half-decent coaching, some half-decent fitness assistance — where was all this in the 1990s and the 2000s? There was no access to it. We were starved of knowledge. Even in terms of fitness, we used to look at the Australians and South Africans and we used to look at their fitness trainers, and what did we get? ‘Don’t do too much gym, your body will become stiff. Bowl, bowl and bowl. Run rounds and laps’,” he was quoted as saying.

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Crime

Another wrestler arrested in Sagar Dhankar murder case

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Crime

The Delhi Police on Friday arrested another wrestler in connection with the May 4 Chhatrasal Stadium brawl that led to the death of Sagar Dhankar, an official said.

The Delhi Police official said the arrested wrestler has been identified as Anirudh.

This is the 10th arrest in connection with the case, including that of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar who was arrested on May 24 by the Special Cell sleuths after being on the run for over 18 days.

The police have also arrested several members of the Neeraj Bawana and Kala Asauda gang.

Sushil Kumar had won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and silver in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

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