Cricket Australia says Indian women's Test against Australia will be played on 'fresh' WACA pitch
Melbourne, Jun 19 Indian women team's Test against Australia later this year will be played on a fresh pitch, Cricket Australia said on Saturday, in stark contrast to ECB's decision to host Mithali Raj's side on a used track in the one-off match in Bristol.
India will tour Australia in September-October to play a day/night Test, three ODIs and as many T20 Internationals.
"It's standard practice in Australia to ensure fresh pitches are available for all men's and women's Test matches and this season will be no different," CA Head of Operations Peter Roach was quoted as saying by '7Cricket'.
"We have seen the women's game rise to a new level in recent times and it is important we provide the platform for that trend to continue." The WACA Ground in Perth will host a Test against India for the first time in 15 years from September 30 to October 3.
After that Manuka Oval in Canberra will host a Test against England in late January next year to start the multi-format Ashes series.
"The WACA Ground and Manuka Oval are terrific venue for Test cricket and with first-class ground staff, we are extremely confident that the facilities for the two women's Tests will be of the highest standard." England women's team captain Heather Knight had expressed displeasure at an used pitch being given for her side's one-off Test against India in Bristol, saying it's not ideal as they would want to play on a fresh strip.
The pitch at the Bristol's County Ground was used for a Gloucestershire T20 match a week back and Knight pointed out that it might become sluggish later in the Test.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had apologised for not being able to give a fresh wicket as the Test was only being added to the calendar in mid-April.
"We are all disappointed that the wicket for the LV= Insurance Test match against India will have had 37 overs played on it. We know that England Women deserve a fresh wicket and we are sorry that we were unable to provide that in this instance.
"We accept that this issue shouldn't have arisen and we will make sure it doesn't happen in the future," a spokesperson from the ECB had said. News source PTI
George Garton named in England’s ODI Squad against Sri Lanka
Chris Silverwood, the England Men’s Head has picked a 16 player squad for The Royal London ODI Series against Sri Lanka commencing at Emirates Riverside, Durham on Tuesday 29 June 2021.
England ODI Squad
Eoin Morgan (Captain)Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, George Garton, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
George Garton, a fast bowler from Sussex is selected in the squad for the first time. Having been a key player of Sussex in white-ball cricket over the past few years and been a member of the England system through the Lions since 2016, the left-arm pacer will be looking to make the most of this opportunity in the Royal London Series.
England Men’s Head Coach, Chris Silverwood, said: “We have been monitoring the progress of George Garton for quite some time. He has been a significant part of Sussex’s bowling unit in white-ball cricket for an extended period. His ability to bowl quick with his point of difference being a left-armer certainly gives us options in this series, and he deserves his chance at this level.
“This ODI series is important as we continue to build momentum ahead of the 2023 World Cup. Despite some injuries, the squad I have selected is strong and gives us depth across all departments. We are looking forward to competing and putting on a show for the fans.
“Several players are not available for selection due to injury. Jofra Archer (right elbow), Saqib Mahmood (abdominal) and Reece Topley (side strain) are all missing, but continue to make excellent progress from their respective injuries.
“We are pleased that Ben Stokes is returning to action with Durham this weekend after recovering from a fractured finger. If everything goes to plan, I hope he could be available for selection for the Vitality IT20 series against Pakistan next month.
“Unfortunately, following the second Test at Edgbaston against New Zealand, Olly Stone has been diagnosed with a stress fracture of his lower back and will miss the rest of the summer with the injury. It is a great shame as Olly was showing real promise with the ball and would have been part of our selection plans for this series.”
The Royal London ODI Series
1st ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Tuesday 29 June 2021, Emirates Riverside, Durham (11.00am BST)
2nd ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Thursday 1 July 2021, Kia Oval, London (1.00pm BST)
3rd ODI: England v Sri Lanka, Sunday 4 July 2021, County Ground, Bristol (11.00am BST)
Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill depart after promising start to leave India at 69 for two at lunch
Southampton, Jun 19 Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill staved off the initial swing threat posed by the opposition pace attack with disciplined batting before New Zealand fought back to leave India at 69 for two at lunch on day two of the World Test Championship final here on Saturday. After the opening day was rained out, cooler and overcast conditions at the Hampshire Bowl on day made it a no brainer to bowl first and Kane Williamson did just that.
India decided to stick to the playing eleven they announced two days ago despite change in conditions while New Zealand went in with a four-prong pace attack at the expense of a specialist spinner with all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme being the fifth seam bowling option.
Opening for the first time in England, Rohit (34 off 68) and Gill (28 off 64) came into the middle with a clear gameplan and applied themselves brilliantly against the potent pace duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
As he often does, Rohit batted with an open stance to negate left-arm pacer Boult's trademark inswinger while Gill stood outside his crease to tackle Southee's outswinger. There were times when Gill was not afraid to come down the track.
Gill, who had played the short ball extremely well in his debut series in Australia, pulled Boult off the front foot for India's first boundary of the final.
Rohit got going with a couple of fours off Southee in the following over, one a cut through point and the other a thick edge past the slip cordon. Gill welcomed Kyle Jamieson into the attack with a lovely straight drive off an inswinger. The New Zealand bowlers were struggling to keep things tight as India reached 41 for no loss in 11 overs without a maiden over being bowled. No runs were scored for the next three overs with the openers doing a fine job to survive the first hour of play. The young Gill took a nasty hit on his helmet grille after Jamieson caught him by surprise with a sharp bouncer.
The lanky pacer was the one who provided the much needed breakthrough by having Rohit caught at third slip with Southee taking a terrific catch.
Neil Wagner sent Gill back in his very first over with the one angling away and straight into the hands of wicketkeeper B J Watling, scripting New Zealand's late fightback in the session.
Cheteshwar Pujara (0 off 24) and skipper Virat Kohli (6 off 12) were in the middle when lunch was taken. News source PTI
Grand Rapids (US), Jun 19 Indian golfer Aditi Ashok missed the cut on her return to the LPGA tour at the Meijer LPGA Classic after turning in a 4-over 76.
After a 77 in the opening day, the Indian needed a very low round to make the halfway cut at Blythefield Country Club but could only manage a marginally better 76.
Irish rookie Leona Maguire shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-stroke lead.
The 26-year-old is trying to become the first Irish winner in LPGA Tour history. Last week in California, she tied for ninth in the LPGA Mediheal Championship after leading after the first round.
Su Oh of Australia was second after a bogey-free 65. Linda Duncan was 11 under after a 65.
Nelly Korda shot a 66 to get to 10 under, matching Anna Nordqvist (67), Mina Harigae (66), Brittany Altomare (66) and Lizette Salas (66). Lexi Thompson, the 2015 winner, had her second 68 to reach 8 under.
Brooke Henderson, the winner in 2017 and 2019 in the event that was cancelled last year, missed the cut by a stroke after rounds of 75 and 67. News source PTI
Archery: India women's firm favourites to make Tokyo cut
Paris, Jun 19 On a high after winning a World Cup gold in the first stage, Indian women's recurve trio of Deepika Kumari, Ankita Bhakat and Komalika Bari will start as firm favourites to grab the team's quota from the final Tokyo 2020 Qualifier here on Sunday.
Paris represents the final opportunity for India to upgrade their single women's quota place to team invitations in Japan as India would look to qualify a second and third recurve archers to join the Deepika who is all set for her third successive Olympics.
All they would have to achieve is finish among the top-three in a field of 28 teams which include heavyweights Colombia, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Mexico, which gave India a stiff challenge in the World Cup final in Guatemala City.
Less than two months after they lost the final in an intense shootoff in the first stage of the World Cup, the Mexican team of London Olympics silver medalist Aida Roman, Alejandra Valencia and Ana Vazquez will again stand in their way.
Of the 28 teams, four teams will be eliminated from the qualification round while the top-eight will directly make the quarterfinals as world number three Deepika along with southpaw Ankita and teenager Komalika would look to start well.
In their last attempt, Indian women's team had failed to qualify, losing to Belarus 2-6 at the World Championships in Den Bosch, the Netherlands two years ago, while the men's team had secured the first quota.
Since then India made a solitary change with Ankita making the cut to the team and it worked well as they won the World Cup first stage -- the women's team's first gold medal since Wroclaw-2014.
In the women's section, India so far have an individual quota secured from the Continental Qualification during the Bangkok Asian Championships in November 2019 as India number one Deepika is already bound for her third successive Olympics.
So the pressure will be evident for the less experienced duo of Ankita and Komalika.
"Of course we are under pressure," 19-year-old Komalika said after Friday's practice session.
Incidentally, at the same Stade Charléty, Deepika had clinched one of her four World Cup Final silver medals in 2013 and the former world number one is confident of a good show.
"Technically, we all are up there but all it takes is to shoot with a calm, uncluttered mind, without doubting your abilities," Deepika told PTI.
"A bit of pressure is good to bring out your best. We are confident of making it." So far, Belarus, China, Chinese Taipei, Great Britain, Germany, Korea, Russia, Ukraine and hosts Japan have already qualified for the Olympics slated from July 23.
Five landmark events that changed the course of Indian Cricket
Since it's first game in 1932 till today, Indian Cricket has come a long way. It's journey from being a dark horse to a sporting powerhouse was marked by several landmark events that in turn went on to change the face of Indian Cricket and helped it shape into what it is today - the most prosperous and indomitable fortress in World Cricket.
Here we look at top five of these historic events that we believe were instrumental in changing the course of Indian cricket.
1. India's first series win on foreign soil - New Zealand, 1968
Often regarded as the architect of Modern Indian Cricket, former Indian skipper Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi led from the front to ensure India of a notable mention in cricketing history during the test series against New Zealand in 1968. The Kiwis had the most magical bowling line up that could wreck the most dangerous batting order in the world. However, Indian spin duo of Bishen Singh Bedi and Erapalli Prasanna managed to get under the skin of the black cap's batting line up to guide India to their history first overseas win. With this result, India registered their first ever series victory on a foreign turf with a 3-1 win in a four match test series, thus announcing their serious arrival into the world of Cricket.
2. Winning the 1983 World Cup
Team India shocked the world with their victory in the 1983 World Cup finals against the two time champions West Indies at the Lord's. A young team India under Kapil Dev's courageous leadership had done the impossible and caused a major coup in world cricket. The visuals of Kapil Dev holding the World Cup at the Lord's balcony were a declaration of what future held on the cards for Indian Cricket and it's rise in the coming days. Back home, the inspiring win brought in a great sense of pride and self belief in the heart of a newly Independent India and the sport became a massive hit among the masses. Not only that, India's illustrious success inspired a generation of future cricketing greats of the country.
3. Natwest Trophy 2002
One of India's greatest series wins ever, Natwest series has been etched as one of the most defining chapters in the history of Indian Cricket. Team India, had become a formidable side with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VSS Laxman and Saurav Ganguly but seemed to lack aggression and had a mixed start to the 2000s. In the finals, England had handed India a target of 326, which in those days was considered insurmountable. The loss of Sachin, Dravid and Ganguly had further added to India's miseries. However, a young Yuvraj Singh and Muhammad Kaif pulled India out of troubled waters and guided them to what we today know as one of India's most iconic wins. The scene of Dada taking off his shirt and waving it at the Lord's balcony was a roaring announcement of what India was becoming as a nation - a superpower with a strong intent to win at all costs and well aware of its weight and worth, both on and off the field.
4. India winning the T20 World cup in 2007
The T20 format received mixed response in the beginning with some conservatives dismissing it as 'non serious cricket'. Many Cricket boards also had a dismissive approach towards the format. Nonetheless, the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup began in South Africa in the year 2007. India, after enduring a heartbreaking exit from the 50 over world cup at the hands of Bangladesh arrived for the tournament with a young and inexperienced team in the absence of regular veterans under a new captain - MS Dhoni. The events that unfolded in South Africa helped the fans quickly pick the format. India's journey was marked by many thrilling and exciting contests that included a fun bowl out victory against arch rivals Pakistan, Yuvraj Singh launching English pacer Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over and of course the nail-biting victory against Pakistan in the finals. All this contributed to the format becoming an instant hit among the cricket fans. The huge success of the tournament also added to the excitement for the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League. Not to forget, the victory also marked the arrival of India's most brilliant and successful captain MS Dhoni who in turn scripted many chapters of guts and glory for Indian Cricket.
5. Inception of the Indian Premier League, 2008
Indian Premier League or the IPL is the biggest testament of Indian supremacy in world cricket. Introduced in the year 2008, the glamour rich cricketing extravaganza instantly struck a chord with the fans around the world and went on to become one the most popular sporting spectacle. Since its inception till today, the tournament has only gotten bigger and better. The cash rich league featuring big names from India and around the world with the added 'tadka' of Bollywood celebrities as owners and ambassadors has added to the popularity of the game even among young girls, women and people from non-cricketing nations who otherwise take no major interest in the sport. Most importantly, the league has served as the biggest talent hunt platform for the youth of the country, giving them righteous rewards, experience and top notch exposure that has gone into building many world class cricketers for India.
Japan imposes stricter regulations on India's Olympic-bound, Indian Olympic Association says it's 'unfair and discriminatory'
New Delhi, Jun 19 The Indian athletes and officials travelling for the Tokyo Olympics have been asked by the Japanese government to undergo daily COVID-19 tests for a week prior to their departure and not interact with anyone from another country for three days on arrival, strictures that have left the IOA fuming.
Stricter regulations have been put in place for all travellers -- including athletes, coaches and support staff -- who have resided in 11 countries, including India, where different variants of COVID-19 have been identified, within 14 days of their arrival in Tokyo.
"The unfair and discriminatory" rules have drawn sharp criticism from the Indian Olympic Association. India's COVID-19 situation has improved considerably after a catastrophic second wave with daily cases declining from more than 3 lakh a few weeks back to just over 60,000 right now.
India has been clubbed in group 1 alongside Afghanistan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
"Before you travel: You must be tested every day, for seven days, prior to your departure to Japan," the advisory stated for the Group 1 countries.
"Physical distancing: For seven days prior to your departure to Japan, you must keep your physical interaction with all others, including from another team, delegation or country, to an absolute minimum," it added.
On arrival, athletes and officials will also not be allowed to interact with anyone else apart from their on delegation for three days.
"At the Games. You will be tested every day as is the case for all athletes and officials.
"For three days after your arrival in Japan, you will not be able to physically interact with anyone from another team, delegation or country." Athletes have been asked to check into the Games Village five days before their competition begins.
IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary general Rajeev Mehta, in a joint statement, questioned the new regulations.
"Athletes are allowed to arrive in the Games Village only 5 days before their event. Now 3 days will be wasted, this is the time the Athletes need to be moving towards their mode to Peak. Highly unfair for Indian Athletes," the joint statement read.
"Where and when will the Athletes have their Breakfast, Lunch Dinner etc during these 3 days, as everyone has food in the Games village food hall where all Athletes and officals of other NOCs are present all the time.
"If Food Packets are being delivered outside the Rooms of the Athletes then who will plan their body requirements like Proteins, food preferences etc and will it not affect the performance of athletes, who will not not get their preferred diet, just 5 days before the Olympics" Several athletes like weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, wrestler Vinesh Phogat and Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra are training abroad and will travel to Tokyo from their respective locations.
However, a major chunk of the Indian contingent will leave for the Games from India and the regualations will affect their training.
The IOA questioned the need for the regulations given that athletes from India will be fully vaccinated and will be undergoing daily tests for a week before their departure.
"Where and when will the Athletes practice as practice/training areas are never empty and Athletes and officials of other NOCs are present all the time.
"While we respect any country's decision to keep their country safe and secure, the athletes going out of India will be Double Vaccinated, have RTPCR tests done everyday for last 7 days before leaving...
"...then why make the Athletes suffer at a time when they need to peak, once again highly unfair for Indian Athletes who have worked hard for 5 years to be discriminated against just 5 days before the Olympics," the IOA statement read. News source PTI
India's Shefali Verma puts a fight back against England on day three at Bristol
In the latest cricket news, the combination of rain and Shafali Verma frustrated England Women on day three of the LV= Insurance as the rains forced the third Day of the ongoing only Test between the two sides to be called off an hour ahead of the scheduled close of the match day.
Indian women finished the day three at 83/1 after following-on and were still 82 runs behind England's first innings score of 396/9. Shafali Verma put up a brilliant show, remaining unbeaten on 55 off 68 when the play ended after the final session was washed out.
Deepti Sharma will be the other batswoman taking on the crease today as she remains unbeaten on 18. Opener Smriti Mandhana fell cheaply on the score of 8 early in the morning session.
Earlier, taking over from overnight score of 187 for 5, India were bowled out for 231 in their first innings, remaining 165 runs short of England's first innings total of 396.
All-rounder Deepti Sharma, with her unbeaten 29 was the only batswomen from lower middle order to put up some resilience as others displayed a poor show. From 167 with no loss of wickets, India lost eight batters for 30 runs with England's left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone claiming 4 for 88.
More experience will help avoid session-end dismissals, says Indian cricketer Smriti Mandhana
Bristol, Jun 19 Lack of experience in negotiating the closing stages of a session was a major reason behind the batting collapse India suffered on the second day of the one-off Test against England Women, reckons opener Smriti Mandhana.
Madhana, a stylish left-hander, and young Shafali Verma had forged a solid 167-run stand with their half-centuries in India's response to the massive England first innings total of 396/9 declared.
However, India lost five wickets in a hurry to lose the plot and were eventually forced to follow-on. "Definitely, a slight pressure of ending the day 'not out', might have played a part (in the loss of wickets in a heap) and that will come with experience," Mandhana said after rain forced early stumps on day three.
"The more we play Test matches, the more we'll get used to the conditions - one over before lunch or one over before the day's end and all those sessions, so we can be more mature about (approaching them) and not take pressure." However, she blamed her herself instead of inexperience, for her own dismissal.
"We aren't used to batting beyond 50 overs. But I wouldn't say I got out because of lack of experience in Test matches because I threw my wicket away in the last session of (Thursday)," she said.
Mandhana said the conditions were still good for batting and with talented batter Shafali Verma going strong, her side was in a good position.
India were 83 for 1 at stumps on the rain-interrupted third and penultimate day after following on, still trailing by 82 runs overall with nine second innings wickets in hand.
"The conditions changed slightly, it was just windy. It wasn't swinging that much. It was good to bat on though the conditions were cloudy and overcast," she added.
Verma and Deepti Sharma were batting on 55 and 18 respectively when the final session was washed out by rain. Mandhana scored just 8 runs in the second innings after a 78 in the first.
"I gave away my wicket though it was not such great a ball. I am disappointed." Mandhana was all praise for young Shafali, who missed on a ton in the first innings by just 4 runs, saying it was impressive to watch her bat.
"We both are very similar (in our approach) to keep things simple, so we don't really discuss much about batting in the middle.
"The way she changed her game and the maturity she showed, it is very positive for Indian cricket going forward. Her shots, in T20Is I've always watched them from the other end. I hope she keeps going the way she is." Asked about the discussion in the team after being asked to follow on, she said "The transition was pretty quick. We just had 10-15 minutes before we went into bat." "We did not bat that great in the first innings and the talk was that we have to make up for it in the second innings." Mandhana said the Indian debutants, five of them, had a good start and that everyone contributed.
"All the debutants have really got a good start. In general, everyone was excited to play this Test match, and not just the debutants because we all are playing after a very long time, so it is a really special match.
"But all the debutants have really stepped up - Deepti, Shafali, Pooja and even Taniya with the catch in the first innings- everyone has contributed." News source PTI
Ski Mountaineering set to be proposed as an additional sport to the official programme of Milano Cortina 2026
Ski Mountaineering will be proposed as an additional sport to the programme of the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement released on Friday. The IOC Executive Board has forwarded this proposal to the next IOC Session in July in Tokyo.
The Sport is governed by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF) and the Organising Committee of the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 had officially proposed the inclusion of Ski Mountaineering as an additional sport to the programme of this particular edition of the Games.
The proposal to include Ski Mountaineering consists of 5 new medal events - two men’s events (Sprint/Individual), two women’s events (Sprint/Individual), one mixed-gender relay event along with 48 athlete quotas (24 men/24women) to be found within the overall framework of the 2,900 quota.
The same five Ski Mountaineering events had also contributed to the success of the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020
The IOC Executive Board also highlighted some key features of ski mountaineering to support its potential inclusion.
These included the popularity of Ski Mountaineering in Italy, with deep historical and sporting roots across the alpine regions.Also, Ski Mountaineering has become a fast-growing winter sport among amateur/weekend practitioners with Europe being the continent where ski mountaineering has the biggest development. However, over recent years more and more participants, at both professional and amateur level, have been detected all over the globe.
The recommendation for the inclusion of ski mountaineering in the sport programme of Milano Cortina 2026 will be discussed and finalised at the IOC Session on 20-21 July 2021 in Tokyo. The determination of the full event programme and athlete quotas will be held at the IOC EB meeting in June 2022.
Caribbean Premier League tweaks its schedule to avoid clash with remainder of IPL in United Arab Emirates
New Delhi, Jun 19 The BCCI seems to have ensured the participation of the Caribbean players in the remainder of the IPL as the organisers of the CPL have revised their schedule to avoid a clash of dates with the popular Indian T20 tournament.
The Indian Premier League was suspended mid-season last month after the coronavirus breached its bio-bubble and is scheduled to restart in the UAE from September 19.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) will now be played in St Kitts and Nevis between August 26 and September 15, four days before the IPL's resumption.
The CPL was originally scheduled to start on August 28 and conclude on September 19.
The likes of big-hitting Chris Gayle, spinner Sunil Narine and all-rounder DJ Bravo among others are part of different IPL franchisees.
The development would please the BCCI, especially when participation of the Australian players in the IPL is under doubt.
"Both IPL and CPL are important to CWI, to our cricketers and to fans," Ricky Skerritt, the Cricket West Indies president said.
"CWI's role was to facilitate arrangements for a non-overlapping and smooth transition from one tournament to the next. Cricket administrators must collaborate if cricket is to survive the risks and costs of COVID-19." Skerritt said they would also soon finalise the guidelines for the franchises to be part of the bio-secure bubble.
"Any bubble-related decisions are made by the local St Kitts health authorities and CPL medical advisors (same as CWI), in the context of the local Covid-19 situation," he said.
"Just four weeks ago, St Kitts recorded community spread for the first time. For over a year, all cases were imported, identified, quarantined, and recovered. The first local Covid-19 (related) death happened just two days ago," he said.
It may be noted that the owners of two the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Punjab Kings also own teams in the CPL - the Trinbago Knight Riders and the St Lucia Zouks respectively. News source PTI
Milkha Singh: An unmatchable romance with a near miss
New Delhi, Jun 19 The track, to him, was like an open book in which Milkha Singh found the "meaning and purpose of life". And what a life he made for himself.
Before his 91-year-old body lost to COVID-19 on Friday after fighting it for a month, Milkha won the kind of battles that not many would have survived, forget about living long enough to tell the world about them.
"Don't worry, I am in good spirits...I am surprised, How could I get this infection?...I hope to get over it soon," Milkha had said in his last interaction with PTI before being hospitalised, sounding his usual jovial self, supremely confident of his legendary fitness.
One of independent India's biggest sporting icons was a tormented man but refused to let that come in the way of accomplishments which were unheard of in his era.
He saw his parents being butchered during partition, indulged in petty crimes to survive in refugee camps of Delhi, went to jail for those and failed three attempts at joining the Army.
Who could have thought a man like that would get the sobriquet of 'The Flying Sikh'? But Milkha earned it and earned it with a master-class on how to be bigger and better than one's circumstances.
He "revered" the track like "the sanctum sanctorum in a temple where the deity resided." To him running was both his God and beloved as he created his own little fairytale out of what what could have easily been a tale of horrors.
To talk of medals, the legendary athlete was a four-time Asian Games gold-medallist and the 1958 Commonwealth Games champion but his greatest performance was a near miss, the fourth place finish in the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Olympics.
His timing at the Italian capital remained the national record for 38 years and he was bestowed the Padma Shri in 1959.
But more than anything else, Milkha was the one who put Indian athletics on the world map by winning the gold in the then 440 yards race of the 1958 British and Commonwealth Games.
He became the first Indian athlete to win an individual gold in a Commonwealth Games, which led to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declaring a national holiday on his request.
Milkha put his career record at 77 wins out of 80 races. He also claimed to have bettered the 'Olympics record' of that time in a race in France, but with sketchy records available, it is difficult to confirm just like his actual date of birth which is officially November 20, 1929.
He lost the race of his life in the Rome Olympics, finishing the 400m final in 45.6 seconds, 0.1 second short of the bronze medal mark.
Hard to believe but he had slowed down in a colossal error of judgement as he wanted to preserve himself for the final 150m.
He remained tormented by that miss, one of the only two incidents in his life, which he described as unforgettable -- the other being the killing of his parents in Pakistan.
"The one medal I had yearned for throughout my career had just slipped through my fingers because of one small error of judgement," Milkha wrote in his 160-page autobiography that coincided with the release of a blockbuster biopic on his life 'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag'.
However, his timing at the Italian capital remained a national record for 38 years till Paramjeet Singh broke it in 1998 at a national meet in Kolkata.
Milkha had promised to give a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh to the one who breaks his record, he eventually did not because the flamboyant star believed that Paramjeet's feat would have counted for something only if he had achieved it in a foreign competition.
"Mera record todne wala India mein paida nahi hua (the one who can break my record is not born yet in India)," he had famously said in 1991 and he hung on to that belief even when that record was shattered.
Another one of his unfulfilled dream was to see another Indian do what he couldn't, bring home a track-and-field Olympics medal.
A self-proclaimed village 'bumpkin' from the undivided Punjab's Govindpura, Milkha's run for a better life started as a 15-year-old when he escaped from Pakistan to Delhi after witnessing a bloodbath that claimed his parents during the partition.
His approach to life in the refugee camp was irreverent. He worked as a boot polish boy, a shop cleaner near the old Delhi Railway Station and in between stole goods from trains to make ends meet.
The petty crimes landed Milkha in jail and he was bailed out by sister Ishvar, who sold her jewellery to get him released.
Milkha tried to step up in life by making repeated attempts at joining the army. He got through on his fourth attempt in 1952 and that proved to be the turning point which he so desperately wanted and needed.
He was posted in Secunderabad and ran his first race -- a cross country of five miles -- there when army coach Gurdev Singh promised an extra glass of milk to those who finished inside top-10.
He finished sixth and later got selected for special training in 400m. The rest, as they say, is well-documented history.
He won the selection trial the 1956 Olympics despite that he had been brutally assaulted by his rivals a day before that race.
Milkha disappointed at the Games as he failed to get past the preliminary heats but benefited from the experience and was able to persuade 400m gold winner Charles Jenkins to share his training methods.
In his autobiography, he had claimed that he trained so intensely after that disappointment that he would vomit blood and would fall unconscious on many occasions.
His life and career story is incomplete without the 1960 Indo-Pak sports meet where he outran Pakistani Abdul Khaliq before the Rome Olympics.
Khaliq was considered the fastest man in Asia at that time, having won the 100m gold in 1958 Asian Games.
After winning 400m gold in the same Games, Milkha had also beaten Khaliq in the 200m final.
At first, Milkha refused to go to Pakistan as he did not want to return to a country where his parents were butchered but was persuaded by Prime Minister Nehru to face his demons.
He beat Khaliq in the 200m race in Lahore and was christened 'The Flying Sikh' by then Pakistan President General Ayub Khan who congratulated him during the awards ceremony.
Milkha retired from athletics after the 1964 Olympics, two years after winning the gold in 400m and 4x400m relay events at the Asian Games held at Jakarta.
Before that he had already taken up the job of deputy director of sports in the Punjab government in 1961 on the insistence of then chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon. He quit Indian Army and also shifted his residence to Chandigarh from Delhi.
In 1991, he introduced a compulsory games period in schools and also set up sports wings in schools in the districts to tap talent at the grassroot level.
He got married to Nirmal Kaur, captain of the Indian volleyball team, in 1963. They met for the first time in 1956 in Sri Lanka when they were there for their respective national duties.
The couple was blessed with three daughters and a son, golfer Jeev Milkha Singh and what a fine successor to his legacy he turned out to be, becoming India's highest ranked golfer at the peak of his prowess.
It was quite stunning that an athlete of Milkha's stature was offered the Arjuna award, instituted in 1961, only in 2001.
He famously turned it down, saying the honour was not of the "stature of the services he rendered to the nation".
In fact, Milkha was a sum total of way more than his several races and medals. He was also much more than that near miss in Rome.
He was independent India's first love affair with the track, the one that this country can never get over. News source PTI
My goal is to make Malaysian cricket stronger and better - Winifred Duraisingam, captain of Malaysian Women’s Cricket team
Women’s cricket has significantly grown in popularity in the last few years with cricket news extensively covering all major women’s tournaments and iconic names inspiring the next generation of girls to take up the sport. While there are generational performers such as Ellyse Perry, Sarah Jane Taylor, Jhulan Goswami to name a few, who have proven innumerable doubters wrong, the role of women cricketers, especially in countries where cricket is still growing is equally important to lay the foundations in place.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, we’re speaking to one such cricketer, Ms. Winifred Duraisingam, captain of the Malaysia women’s cricket team. She spoke about her introduction to the sport and playing professionally, inspiring girls to take up the sport, grassroot development in Malaysia, experiences at the highest level, responsibilities as a captain and future goals.
Q 1) When did you first start playing cricket and what made you take up this sport professionally?
I started playing cricket outside the house, on the street as a young 8 year old. It has been more than 10 years since the boys started playing cricket on the street outside my house when I started to join. What made me start playing was seeing my brother Derek, who played this sport with the other boys. It made me want to join them and play as well. At the age of 8, I asked them if I could join in and bat but they were opposed to the idea because I was a small girl. Thankfully, my uncle David came up with a rule that anyone who gets the wicket will be able to bat. That being said, he even told me that he will teach me how to bowl. It felt really fun when I started to bowl and take wickets. The boys ended up keeping quiet and felt shy because a girl was taking their wickets. From there onwards, I enjoyed bowling more and the fire to continue bowling kept increasing. At the age of 13, I played for the Kuala Langat Club. I was the only girl who played and was the bowler. During this tournament, I played against the ex-Malaysian national player, Mr. Hector Durairatnam. He approached my uncle and asked who was that small boy who bowled against me earlier. To his surprise, my uncle replied, "that's my niece". Coincidentally, at that time there was a selection for the national team as well and they asked me to join the national team selection. I was at the mere age of 14 years old when I started representing my country in this sport. That's how I started playing cricket and never stopped loving the game.
Q 2) You are one of the 15 National Women cricketers to be awarded a contract by the Malaysian Cricket Association. In your opinion, how big of an impact will it have in encouraging more girls to take up this sport?
In my opinion, being one of the 15 National Women cricketers to be awarded a contract by the Malaysian Cricket Association has encouraged me to work harder. Since the valuation of the grade for each player will be reviewed once in three months, it is a must for every player to increase or maintain their performance. Plus, being given a monthly remuneration will definitely help me financially. I believe many girls out there will be driven to try their hand at cricket when they notice the rewards which comes along with it and strive to do their best at this sport
Q 3) What are the other activities or initiatives the MCA has undertaken to develop Women's and grassroots programs in Malaysia?
MCA has taken many initiatives to develop Women's Cricket. For example, MCA has focused on the young generation and curated a program called Adiwira. This event has been turned into a competition that has been held in many schools around Malaysia. Moreover, many more schools have collaborated with MCA to become a center where pupils can train under a proper training programme during their school days. This has allowed the expansion of the women’s team and participation. We can see the results from this expansion when Malaysia sent quite a number of U19 girls to China for a tournament.
Q 4) You were also among the 8 women to participate in the Men's MCA T20 Super Series 2020. Tell us about your experience in it?
It is very exciting as I got the chance to face new types of bowlers and batsmen. I would say it’s a lie if I didn't feel scared facing them, but I learned so many things on how to handle them during the tournament. As a captain for the Women's team, I took that opportunity to learn leadership skills with my captain during the tournament. Playing with the Men's team has really given me a new sight on how to become a better cricketer.
Q 5) As a captain what do you do to keep your team in high spirits and keep the dressing room environment positive and light?
As a captain, I will always give my full support to my teammates whenever they feel down in the field and even outside. It is very important for me to be patient in terms of handling my team during the game. If I lose my patience, I am sure my team will follow suit as well. This is a behavior I’d like them to avoid especially during training and game time. As for the situation in the dressing room, a positive environment definitely plays an important role in making sure the team feels positive vibes. For me, I will make sure the dressing room is clean and tidy. The players are discouraged from backbiting and cursing each other about an incident that happened during training or at the game. It is a need for me and my fellow teammates to listen to music before our games to boost our mood and lift our spirits.
6. What are your future goals and aspirations as the skipper of the Malaysian team and how do you plan to achieve them?
As the skipper, my ultimate goal would be to stand alongside my girls at the top of the cricket rank. I want to be the one who leads them towards those achievements and more. I will begin by setting a target for the women’s cricket team to be at the 25th rank. It will be my job to push them to the limit where we will train more and do better at each training session so we can be stronger and keep getting better. Besides that, I will ask them to watch more games together to make our bond tighter and our spirits continue blooming while expanding our knowledge. Plus, this is one way to continue learning the art of being a great cricketer. The goal is to continue learning the tricks and master valuable skills like some of the best women cricketers, Ellyse Perry and Heather Knight. Despite the pandemic, I believe there’s more that my team can achieve and as their support system, I’ll continue setting monthly and quarterly goals with them and have sit down sessions to see how we can tackle those goals and prep ourselves for worldwide competitions once we head back to some sort of normalcy again.