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Want to play against different types of opponents & gain experience before Paris Olympics: Lakshya Sen



Lakshya Sen, who scripted history by becoming the youngest Indian shuttler to win a men’s singles medal at the 2021 World badminton championships, is focusing on playing more matches against different opponents in order to gain much-needed experience before competing at the all-important Paris 2024 Olympics.

Making his World Championship debut, the 20-year-old showed his class and knocked out top players like Kenta Nishimoto and Kevin Cordon on his way to the podium in the recently concluded event in Huelva, Spain.

Sen said he wants to learn from his mistakes and gain more experience with each tournament.

“I have time before the Paris Olympics and I want to play more matches and big tournaments against different kinds of opponents in order to gain some much-needed experience and improve my game to compete at that level,” Lakshya Sen told IANS in an interview.

“Not just playing, I want to win big tournaments and improve my rankings, so that I can qualify for the Olympics and fulfil my biggest dream to win a medal for the country,” he added.l

With a medal at the World Championship, Sen joined the elite list of Indian male shuttlers — the legendary Prakash Padukone (bronze in 1983) and B Sai Praneeth (bronze in 2019), Kidami Srikanth (silver in 2021), who have won medals at the prestigious event.

In an all-Indian semi-final, the young shuttler lost to compatriot Kidambi Srikanth. Though Sen lost that match, he gave his 100 percent on the court and feels a medal in his debut World Championship will boost his confidence.

“I was a bit disappointed with the result of the semi-final match. It was a closely-contested clash and I couldn’t win. However, I tried everything on the court whatever I could and overall it was a good match,” the young shuttler said.

“It feels really good to win a medal in my debut Championship and it will be a confidence-booster for my upcoming tournaments,” he added.

The youngster from Almora, Uttarakhand featured in many international competitions before the Championship, which helped him get into a rhythm.

“Tournaments prior to the Championship helped me in getting match-practice and playing continuous matches helped me gain my rhythm. Obviously, there was a fatigue factor due to playing back to back games but I managed it well,” he said.

Unforced errors committed by Lakshya Sen were a noticeable thing in the semi-final match and he also admits that there is a need to work in this area.

“Yes, I committed a few unforced errors at crucial junctures. Though I am trying to be a bit more consistent and to not give easy points to my opponents because I understand a good player will not allow me to score so easily against him,” he said.

Lakshya has looked more composed than ever, willing to play longer rallies and wait for his opportunities to hit winners. Against Zhao Jun Peng in the quarter-final, Lakshya showcased his mental strength by saving a match point.

In the last few years, the young shuttler has looked more composed than ever. He is willing to play longer rallies and wait for his opportunities to hit winners, something on which he has worked with his coaches.

“I have been trying for a very long time now because you don’t get easy scoring opportunities at the highest level. You have to wait for the right moment, so I am trying to play longer rallies. I have been practicing it in my training and it’s coming good now though it needs more improvement,” he said.

Sen is aware that it’ll take a lot more effort to consistently reach the podium in the senior circuit. “I am trying to build up my strength, stamina, skills and my overall game,” the shuttler said.

Sen could not make it to the Tokyo Olympics after missing several tournaments due to a back injury and also because of the reduced opportunities in the COVID-19-affected badminton calendar.

According to Sen, it was a tough period for him but people around him helped him in dealing with all the issues.

“Every athlete goes through injuries during their career and it was a tough time for me. But I motivated myself by saying I am young and there will be lot of opportunities in future and if I am fit I can play (in the Olympics),” he explained.

“I talked to my mental trainers and utilised my time well. Since I had issues in the back, I focused on my skill training. My physio and doctors sorted everything for me. And as you know, training plays a huge role in making a comeback after injuries, my coaches, my dad helped me in all that aspect,” he added.

The Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bangalore has recently roped in Korean coach Yoo Yong-sung, a two-time Olympic silver medallist, as their head coach. Sen, who trains and practices at the academy, will benefit from the tactical expertise and practical intelligence of the former Olympic medallist.

However, the shuttler wants to take at least a week’s rest to rejuvenate and recover from playing a lot of tournaments for the last two and a half months.

“Yes, I met him (Yoo Yong-sung) today and I am excited to work with him but I don’t want to rush things. I have played a lot of tournaments for the last two and a half months and will take a small break to recover from all the niggles and pains. Then I will get back to training,” Sen concluded.


Malinga set to take over as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling consultant: Report





Former Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga is set to become the fast bowling consultant coach of the national cricket team after the high-profile Cricket Advisory Committee recommended his name to Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) Executive Committee.

The 38-year-old Malinga, who played for more than a decade for Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians, will oversee the Sri Lankan team’s preparations for the upcoming T20I tour of Australia, where the side will play five matches, a report in the The Island said on Wednesday.

While Malinga is one of the most successful T20 bowlers in the world due to his sling-shot action and is a Sri Lankan icon, his appointment has reportedly not gone down well with several stakeholders of the game in the country.

The report said that while he was adored by millions of fans, “he wasn’t the most likeable person in the dressing room with a host of Sri Lankan captains having concerns about his conduct”.

“It is alleged that Malinga deliberately slowed down the over rate with the intention of suspending the captain, an allegation that SLC has not investigated. Cricket’s playing conditions at one point dictated that slow over rates would result in fines for players and suspension for the captain. Since then, the International Cricket Council has amended the playing conditions and the captain is no longer suspended,” the report added.

Sri Lanka lifted the ICC T20 World Cup in 2014 under Malinga’s captaincy, as he was filling in for the suspended Dinesh Chandimal, but his overall record as skipper is abysmal. He led the country in nine One-day Internationals and all nine ended in losses. Under his leadership, Sri Lanka lost 15 of the 24 T20Is it played.

The report said that the Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising of stalwarts such as Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan among others, had their reservations on endorsing Malinga as fast bowling consultant coach. However, since the recommendation reportedly came from former skipper and consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, it could not be denied, the report said.

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Afghanistan complete whitewash to grab crucial Cricket World Cup Super League points




Afghanistan completed a 3-0 series victory over the Netherlands to grab 30 crucial World Cup Super League points, here on Tuesday.

Half-centuries from Najibullah Zadran and debutant Riaz Hassan and a three-wicket haul from another debutant Qais Ahmad helped Afghanistan to a 75-run win, setting up a 3-0 series victory in the ODI series.

After deciding to bat first, Afghanistan were driven by 19-year old opener Riaz on debut. The Netherlands managed to send back the centurion from the last game, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, for 12, but Riaz and Rahmat Shah put on an 86-run partnership to revive the innings.

Once Saqib Zulfiqar broke the partnership by sending back Riaz, the Netherlands managed another wicket soon with Rahmat dismissed in the 33rd over. Najibullah Zadran compiled a fine half-century with aid from the lower middle-order. Najibullah finished on 71 off 59 balls as Afghanistan made 254/5 in their 50 overs.

In reply, the Netherlands made a strong start with Scott Edwards once again leading the charge. Colin Ackermann gave him solid company and the duo thwarted Afghanistan’s new ball plans. Their 50 came up in 10 overs with the openers laying a solid platform.

They carried on in the same vein, putting on 103 for the opening wicket before Afghanistan’s debutant Qais broke the stand with his maiden ODI wicket, that of Edwards, trapped in front by the leg-spinner. Fareed Ahmad sent back skipper Pieter Seelaar for a duck and Afghanistan had the opportunity to put a leash on the chase.

The spinners worked in tandem and soon the Netherlands went from 103/0 to 153/5 with Boris Gorlee, Bas de Leede and the well-set Colin Ackermann, who made 81 off 96 balls, also back in the hut. The tables had turned around at this stage and Afghanistan were right on top in the game. They went on to bowl out the Netherlands for 179 to seal a 75-run victory and secure a series whitewash.

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Australia to tour Pakistan with a full-strength squad, says George Bailey




Chief selector George Bailey on Tuesday confirmed that no Australian player has asked to be left out of the squad that is set to embark on their first tour of Pakistan since 1999.

Bailey added that the selection will be solely based on managing their workload.

“I believe the boards are still working through some of the minor details around that tour, so once that gets the formal tick of approval then we’ll announce the squad post that, but we’re reasonably well down the track,” Bailey was quoted as saying by Cricket Australia’s website.

“The two (security) briefings that I’ve sat in on, the security sounds very, very robust.”

The tour is set to start on March 3. It will consist of three Test matches to be played in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore and will be followed by a three-match ODI series from March 29 to April 2. A lone T20I will be played on April 5.

The last time Pakistan had an ICC event on its soil was when it co-hosted the 1996 World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka. The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 ensured Test cricket remained out of bounds until 2019.

In 2020, before the T20 World Cup, New Zealand and England had pulled out of the tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.

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