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Sharath led Chennai Lions lifts UTT trophy 2019

Ashish Mani Tiwari



Chennai Lions with the UTT 2019 trophy

New Delhi: An authoritative display from Sharath Kamal helped Chennai Lions thump Dabang Delhi in the final to win the Ultimate Table Tennis Season 3 title here today.

Sathiyan Gnanasekaran led Dabang Delhi was off the mark since from the inception of the final. Sharath Kamal along with Germany’s Petrissa Solja in the Mixed Doubles thrashed Delhi 8-1. Chennai cantered to the required 8 tie points in the first three matches itself, consigning the final two to the dustbin.

The Lions’ foreign imports, Germany’s Petrissa Solja and Portugal’s Tiago Apolonia, proved to be the stars of the grand finale, taming Bernadatte Szocs 2-1 and Sathiyan G 3-0 to take a formidable, and clearly unbeatable, lead.

Sharath and Petrissa then put up a master class in the Mixed Doubles, collating the last 3 needed points with utmost ease to clinch the title.

“This is an amazing win,” an exultant Sharath said after the victory. “We played near flawless table tennis and came up with the perfect plan for the final,” he added.

Rio Olympics silver medallist Petrissa Solja gave Chennai a flying start, decimating Bernadatte in the opening Women’s Singles. Taking advantage of an off-colour opponent, Petrissa raced away to a 5-2 lead in the opening set, and then bagged six straight points to pocket it 11-5.

A similar script followed in the second set too, with Solja wrapping it up 11-4 to the dismay of Bernadatte.

The Romanian, however, recovered in the final set, fetching a crucial point for Delhi. Down 0-2, she clawed her way back to take a handy 8-5 lead before sealing it 11-9.

In the opening Men’s Singles, Tiago came up with an inspired performance, walloping the higher-ranked Delhi captain Sathiyan 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.

World No. 71 Tiago showcased an array of shots to leave Sathiyan scampering around the table. Sathiyan struggled to find his rhythm, allowing Tiago to open up a 4-1 lead in the first set. The Portuguese made it 8-3 and then 11-6, to give Chennai the first whiff of a big victory.

The second set saw some amazing exchanges, with Sathiyan relying on his quickness near the table to extract points. Tiago was, however, quick on his feet and had answers to almost everything thrown at him. He won the second set 11-7 and the last one 11-9.

An ecstatic Tiago did a Sharath, jumping over the side boards to celebrate his tie-winning effort.

Sharath and Petrissa were in a different league in the Mixed Doubles, picking up points almost at will. Sharath played calmly, cutting down on unforced errors to make it easier for the pair.

Sathiyan and Bernadatte simply had no weapons left to fight back into the contest, perhaps still recovering from the thriller two days back. They lost 7-11, 2-11, 3-11 to allow Chennai Lions to roar in delight.


Chennai Lions beat Dabang Delhi TTC 8-1


Women’s Singles: Petrissa Solja beat Bernadette Szocs 2-1 (11-5, 11-4, 9-11)

Men’s Singles: Tiago Apolonia beat Sathiyan G. 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-9)

Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal / Petrissa Solja bt Sathiyan G. / Bernadette Szocs 3-0 (11-7, 11-2, 11-3)


Two much fun for Belihu, Gemechu at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon

Sayan Mukherjee



ADHM 2019
Andamlak Belihu bettered his timing by eight seconds this year.

New Delhi: Ethiopians trumped Kenyans in a long-standing rivalry between the two East African middle and long distance running powerhouses as Andamlak Belihu and Tsehay Gemechu defended their Airtel Delhi Half Marathon titles on Sunday.

Belihu clocked 59:10 to retain the men’s title at the 15th edition of the event while Gemechu (66:00) reset the event record, producing her personal best timing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Belihu improved by eight seconds on last year’s timing at the IAAF Gold Label Race, finishing ahead of compatriot Solomon Berihu (59:17) and Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie (59:33).

Ethiopia’s Guye Adola (59.06) set the course record in 2014, Belihu came up short by only 4 seconds.

In the women’s section, Ethiopians swept the podium as Gemechu was followed by Yelamzerf Yehualaw (1:06:01) and Zeineba Yimer (1:06:57).

Last year, Gemechu had produced a personal best of 66:50 to set a course record. The 21-year-old shaved off 50 seconds off her 2018 timing.

The winners got richer by $27,000 first prize. Gemechu pocketed an additional $10,000, for setting the course record.

“I am happy to have broken the course record. I was tired after participating at the World Championships in Doha. But I wanted to win in Delhi. I am very happy to have achieved my personal best as well,” said Gemechu.

Belihu said he was disappointed o have missed the course record by such a small margin.

“I am a bit disappointed to have missed the course record but overall it was a good race. I plan to run a few marathons and half marathons. But it depends on my training. I need to discuss with my coach before taking a call,” he said.

Among Indians, Srinu Bugatha topped in the men’s section with a timing of 1:4:33. Three- time ADHM champ Suresh Patel (1:04:57) was second, ahead of Harshad Mhatre (1:05:12).

In women’s section for Indians, Loganathan Suriya, the course record holder, triumphed with a timing of 1:12:49, followed by Parul Chaudhary (1:13:55) and Chinta Yadav (1:15:28).

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, event ambassador Carmelita Jeter were present at the event to encourage the athletes.

Find more articles from the author at Sayan Mukherjee.

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Sports minister Rijiju to talk to Boxing federation over Nikhat Zareen’s trial demands



Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to talk to BFI over Nikhat Zareen's trial demands
Kiren Rijiju (left) and Nikhat Zareen.

New Delhi: Sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday said he will speak to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) over former junior world champion boxer Nikhat Zareen’s demand for a trial bout against MC Mary Kom before India’s squad for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers is decided.

Rijiju took to Twitter to assure the boxer that he will surely convey her demand to the BFI to take the best decision concerning the interest of the nation, sport and athletes.

He tweeted, “I’ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the NATION, SPORTS & ATHLETES.”

Rijiju also mentioned that as per the Olympic Charter, a Minister should not be allowed in the selection of players by the sports federations.

“Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per OLYMPIC CHARTER,” said Rijiju.

Mary Kom (51kg) claimed her eighth world medal at the recently-concluded championships in Russia. She was selected for the event ahead of Zareen, who was refused a trial by the BFI, which decided to go by Mary’s consistent performances while making the choice.

Nikhat demanded a fair chance as the basis of sports is fairplay. She wrote, “All I want is a fair chance. If I’m not given the opporunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about FairPlay & I dont want to loose faith in my country. Jai Hind.”

The BFI plans to send Mary Kom for the Olympic qualifiers on the back of her bronze-winning show at the world championships, moving away from the previous decision to give direct selection only to the gold and silver winners.

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Cricket News

Saha’s inclusion symbolic of Team India’s horses for courses policy

Makarand Waingankar



Wriddhiman Saha
Wriddhiman Saha is India's most technically accomplished wicketkeeper.

Mumbai: Everything fell into place in the Pune match for India. They won the toss and batted on a batting-friendly pitch. Everyone predicted that the wicket would be a turner but it was far from it.

As predicted in these columns the pitch curator Pandurang Salgaonkar, who was unnecessarily made the scapegoat for the Pune pitch fiasco in 2017, sprayed a tinge of grass on the 22 yards.

The red soil on which the pitch is made requires a lot of water for nourishment. Grass helps to bind the pitch together. In the morning there was a bit of seam movement and carry for the pacers.

The ball came on to the bat, enabling strokemakers to go for their shots, which wasn’t the case at Vizag where the ball kept low and the wicket was slow.

India made perfect use of the pitch, piling up a huge first innings score and then declaring at an opportune time to capitalise on the tired minds and legs of the South Africans. Not only the batsmen, the bowlers too excelled. They had a plan in place to dismiss the South Africans.

For the last three years, the Indian team has adopted a horses for courses approach in Tests. The inclusion of wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was a classic example. Rishabh Pant is talented and young. He got his chance but couldn’t cement his place, paving the way for Saha.

After the third day at Pune, the pitch became dusty and the ball started turning. Saha showcased all his skills while keeping against the tall Ravichndran Ashwin. He made keeping look easy, particularly the diving catches he took on both sides of the wicket.

Saha is by far the most technically accomplished wicketkeeper in the world right now. England and Australian wicketkeepers are adept at keeping against pacers. But Saha keeps wickets on Indian conditions primarily to spinners at both ends of the wicket.

After Day Three in Pune, the South Africans team became completely demoralised. The entire team was heartbroken as their captain Faf du Plessis admitted that Virat Kohli possessed answers for all questions asked of him by them.

Indirectly, du Plessis praised Kohli’s mental toughness. It is a trait that is contagious. Team India is supremely fit, be it mentally or physically, which make them supremely confident. They are like a family in a successful business venture.

After 4 Tests, India are now at the top of the points table of the ICC World Test Championship.

After their emphatic victories, India would continue with the same team. Way back in 1983, Sir Wesley Hall, who toured India as manager of the West Indies team told that the Windies team of the 60s and 70s were a combination of 5 batsmen, 5 bowlers and a wicketkeeper.

He had said, “If 5 batsmen cannot score 450 runs the sixth batsman is not going to do that and if 5 bowlers can’t take 20 wickets you cannot expect the sixth bowler to take any. You don’t expect bowlers to bat and vice versa. In that case a team would lose and they deserve to lose.”

Now, after so many years, India played with 5 bowlers. Towards the end of the third day, when the South Africans were all out in the first innings, the debate was about when India would enforce the follow on.

It is understood that the bowlers only told captain Kohli to enforce the follow-on. It was not a judicious move because the amount of Test matches these players nowadays play. But they did that and India won.

To maintain this momentum, India must continue with this combination. This Indian team is very competitive and for a place in the playing XI each and everybody will have to compete.

When Umesh Yadav didn’t get a chance to play in the Tests against the West Indies, he called up the selectors and requested them to let him play for India A.

He wanted to play rather than cool his heels. Because he wanted to keep himself ready whenever he was called up to play for Tests. He played a couple of matches for India A against South Africa A to get his rhythm back.

It’s like a musical instrument, if you don’t use it for days and when you’ll be called to perform, you’ll struggle. Yadav’s case is a perfect example of the healthy competitiveness that is present within the players in the squad, which augurs well for the future of Indian cricket.

Find more columns from our cricket columnist at Makarand Waingankar.

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