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Deepa Malik and Bajrang Punia nominated for Khel Ratna

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Deepa Malik is set to be awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award 2019

New Delhi: Ace wrestler Bajrang Punia and para-athlete Deepa Malik have been nominated for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna on Saturday. Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award is the country’s highest sporting honour.

Punia recently defended his title at the Tbilisi Grand Prix as he won the gold medal and Deepa Malik had won bronze medals in discus throw and javelin throw at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta. Punia and Vinesh Phogat were recommended by the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) for the Khel Ratna award.

Deepa is the first Indian woman to get a medal at the Paralympic Games and has won 58 national and 23 international medals. Earlier, she has received Padma Shri and Arjuna award. Also, she has entered the Limca Book of World Records four times.

In 2018, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were awarded with the Khel Ratna Award.

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For Indian football’s sake, AIFF must disclose future plan for clubs, says Bhaichung Bhutia

Jaydeep Basu

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Former captian Bhaichung Bhutia is concerned about the state Indian football finds itself in.

New Delhi: Bhaichung Bhutia donned national colours for 17 years, 12 of them as captain. He hung up his boots in 2011, but did not stay away from the game.

He managed a professional club in Sikkim and remained the chairman of All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) technical committee. He heads a successful football school that has branches all over India.

“At least two footballers in the current national team, Ashique Kuruniyan and Aniruddh Thapa, were first spotted by our school,” he said with a tinge of pride in his voice.

Yet the soccer icon looked unsure when Sports Lounge asked him when the I-League could begin this season? “Will at all it be played this season,” Bhaichung asked back smilingly.

The smile on his face, however, vanished almost immediately. For him, it is not a subject to laugh about. Looking through the large window of the fashionable cafeteria in the Capital’s upscale Khan Market, Bhaichung spoke almost absent-mindedly.

“I hear they may start I-League in November. The announcement may come any time. But what Indian football urgently needs is a structure. That is missing for now.

“I felt assured when the AIFF in June said there would be a roadmap down the line for three years. But so far nothing has come out. Whether there will be a kind of merger between the ISL and I-League or two separate divisions, everything has to be laid out on the table. All stakeholders should be called and made a part of it.

“The I-League clubs should also know what is there in the offing. They would start preparing according to it. Even if there are divisions, there has to be promotion and relegation.

“But most importantly, there has to be an announced structure. Without it, you can’t operate,” the scorer of 42 international goals says emphatically.

There is one thing Bhaichung has no doubt about. The country’s top league, be it ISL or I-League, can’t flourish without the two Kolkata clubs.

“Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have to be there. The popularity, the support base, the emotion involved with these two clubs can’t be ignored. It has to be encashed. No league in India can reach dizzy heights without them.”

Bhaichung has a note of warning for the two clubs too. “If they have to play a truly professional league, then they also must change the style of functioning. The days are over when a football club can be run like a grocery shop.

“In I-League, year after year, the small-budgeted teams like Aizawl, Minerva, Chennai are winning the title. And these two clubs, despite spending money and having the support base and so-called tradition, are lagging behind. It clearly proves there is something seriously wrong in running those clubs.

Bhaichung Bhutia

Bhaichung Bhutia (from left) forged successful goal-scoring partnerships with Sunil Chhetri (centre) and IM Vijayan.

“It doesn’t happen anywhere. The Leicester City may have won the league once but it is not going to be repeated again and again. The EPL will continue to be dominated by Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea etc.

“It doesn’t mean the smaller clubs have no role to play in football. They will continue to work honestly and the supply line of footballers will remain intact,” said the striker, who spent three seasons in England for the now-expelled Bury FC.

Surprisingly, Bhaichung is not in favour of reducing the five-foreigner rule in Indian football. At least not for the moment. “There has to be something on the plate for the spectators. At the same time, let the local players face the competition,” he said.

Bhaichung has the moral right to say so. In the inaugural NFL in 1996-97, the clubs were allowed to field five foreigners. Yet Bhaichung emerged the top scorer with champions JCT.

There is one thing that bothers him. Who will take the responsibility of scoring for India once Sunil Chhetri calls it a day? “Once we hunted in pairs. First, it was me and IM (Vijayan). Then me and Sunil. Who is the next one?

“Well I am happy the way Ashique Kuruniyan and Abdul Sahal are shaping up. They are hugely talented.” Bhaichung feels assured the Indian football is in safe hands.

Find more football stories at Jaydeep Basu.

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Cricket News

Record-setting Virat Kohli leads India’s victory over South Africa in 2nd T20I

Press Trust of India

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Virat Kohli.

Mohali: Skipper Virat Kohli led India to a resounding seven-wicket win over South Africa in the second T20 International with an unbeaten 72-run knock as the hosts took a 1-0 lead in the short three-match series here on Wednesday.

Kohli (72 not out off 52 balls), who made a memorable 82 not out in his last T20 on this ground more than three years ago, helped India chased down the modest target with consummate ease, getting the team home in 19 overs.

In the process, Kohli has now scored more runs in men’s T20Is than any other cricketer.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan (40 off 31) too made a significant contribution and shared a 61-run stand with the skipper, who scored his 22nd T20 fifty. His 52-ball knock comprised four boundaries and three sixes.

The solid performance with the bat came after the bowlers restricted South Africa to 149 for five in 20 overs.

The third and final T20 will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday. It effectively became a two-match series after the opening game in Dharamsala was washed out on September 15.

India were always in control of the chase despite losing Rohit Sharma (12 off 12) early. The India vice-captain was trapped in front by Andile Phehlukwayo after he pulled debutant Anrich Nortje for two sixes in the second over.

While it was a treat to watch Kohli, Rishabh Pant (4) threw away his wicket again. India were cruising when he came into the middle and it was an ideal platform for Pant to take the team over the line alongside his captain.

It was an innocuous ball from debutant spinner Bjorn Fortuin but Pant hit it straight to the short fine-leg fielder Tabraiz Shamsi.cricket news

Earlier, South Africa captain Quinton de Kock (52 off 37) and debutant Temba Bavuma (49 off 43) played impressive knocks but India managed to limit South Africa to a below-par total.

South Africa did not get the final flourish they were looking for.

India bowled well in the death overs, conceding only 24 runs in the final four with pacer Deepak Chahar being the pick of the bowlers, taking two wickets for 22 runs in four overs.

Kohli sent a new-look South Africa in to bat with the visitors picking three debutants in Nortje, Fortuin and Bavuma.

While Reeza Hendricks departed cheaply, de Kock looked in sublime touch from the word go.

He cover drove spinner Washington Sundar on the first ball he faced before collecting three straight boundaries off pacer Navdeep Saini who was taken out of the attack after conceding 13 runs in his first over.

Bavuma, South Africa’s Test specialist, joined de Kock after the fall of Hendricks in the fourth over and he too looked in fine touch. He made his intentions clear by pulling Hardik Pandya over deep square leg for a six.

South Africa made only 39 for one in six overs but their innings picked up momentum after that as they reached 78 for one in 10 overs.

It took a brilliant catch from skipper Kohli to dismiss de Kock and shift the momentum in India’s favour.

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Tokyo Olympics qualification tough but Dipa Karmakar not losing hope: Coach

Press Trust of India

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Dipa Karmakar is currently rehabilitation from a knee injury.

New Delhi: Star India gymnast Dipa Karmakar has just not yet given up on her dreams of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, insists long-time coach Bishweshwar Nandi, after his ward failed to recover in time for next month’s World Artistic Gymnastics Championship.

Dipa’s Tokyo dreams suffered a severe setback, when she failed to recover from a nagging right knee injury to make it to the World Championships, an Olympic qualifier, to be held at Stuttgart, Germany from October 4 to 13.

Long-time coach Nandi admitted that the road to Olympics would be extremely tough considering Dipa will need at least two months to get back to training.

“Dipa was upset after missing the World Championship but she is mentally strong and I know that she will make a successful comeback to international gymnastics,” Nandi said.

“She is still undergoing rehab. I will start her training only after getting a clearance from the doctor and the physio. As her coach, I need to think about (her) life beyond gymnastics as well. Hopefully by November end, we’ll get the go ahead and after that another two months of training and she should be back.”sports news in english

Asked about the Olympics qualification, Nandi said: “There are three World cups starting about three months after the world championship but it would be much tougher to qualify now.

“She will need to win gold or silver in all the three World Cups next year to qualify. But she is taking it up as a challenge. We are not yet giving up hope.

“If she unfortunately misses the Tokyo, there is 2024 Paris Olympics,” Nandi put up a brave front.

Dipa, who had put Indian gymnastics on the world map after her fourth place finish at the Rio Olympics, was out of action for almost two years due to a knee injury lay-off.

She had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery in Mumbai and had to skip the Asian Championships at Thailand in May last year.

Returning to action in July, 2018, Dipa claimed a gold at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Mersin, Turkey.

She also won a bronze at the vault event of the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Cottbus, Germany in November after making her first appearance following the recovery from a knee strain, which had forced her to miss the vault final in the Jakarta Asian Games.

However, the 26-year-old from Agartala aggravated her knee injury during the vault final at the Baku Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in March this year and skipped the Doha World Cup.

She had planned to make a comeback at the Asian and World Championships but couldn’t recover in time.

“We never thought the injury would become so serious. She had suffered a jerk at the Asian Games but still she recovered to win a gold at Turkey, then clinched a bronze at Cottbus and then qualified at 3rd place at Baku but at the final, she had another jerk.

“After that, we consulted with the doctor and he said she will not be able to play for 5-6 months. So it all depends on her recovery. I will completely go by the doctor’s suggestion.”

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