UCL Matchweek 3: Atletico Madrid host Liverpool; Real Madrid, AC Milan and Manchester face away challenges
(Football news) UEFA Champions League continues to bring fans exciting games. Liverpool, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, PSG, Barcelona, Manchester City, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund will all be in action on Tuesday in the prestigious UCL.
Manchester City travel to Club Brugge in an attempt to comeback after their defeat against PSG in the previous UCL game. City came into the game on the back of a comfortable win against Burnley. There are question marks over the availability of Ederson and Gabriel Jesus after their late arrival from international duty. It goes without saying that Manchester City will be heavy favourites but as it stands Brugge are ahead of them on the table and they also managed to hold PSG to a draw. If they do manage to take away something from this game then Brugge might be on their way to do something special this season.
Two of the best breeders of talent go against each other as Ajax host Borussia Dortmund. Erling Haaland and co. won 3-1 against Mainz at the weekend whereas Ajax defeated Heerenveen by 2-0. Raphael Guerriero, Gio Reyna and Mahmoud Dahoud will miss the match due to an injury while there are still doubts over Marcel Schmelzer's fitness. The two strikers Sebastian Haller and Erling Haaland are in red hot form and the two will have a massive influence on the end result.
The big game of the week is Atlético Madrid taking on Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitan. Liverpool are almost unbeatable at the moment and Mohammed Salah is in the form of his life. The Merseyside club ran riot over Watford at the weekend but this is a completely different ball game. Atletico Madrid will defend deep which might cause Jurgen Klopp a few headaches along the way. The game comes too early for Curtis Jones and Thiago Alcantara to come back while Atletico will be without Stefan Savic who is suspended.
AC Milan travel away to Porto in an attempt to open their account in their UCL comeback season. The two teams are at this moment battling for the 3rd spot behind Liverpool and Atlético Madrid. Milan are in the midst of an injury crisis as Ante Rebic, Alessandro Florenzi, Mike Maignan, Junior Messias, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Frank Kessie, Theo Hernandez, Brahim Diaz are all set to miss the game due to various reasons.
Inter will host Sheriff Town who have shocked the entire world by defeating Real Madrid at the Bernabeu as they sit on top of the table with 6 points whereas Inter have got just 1 point. If Sheriff Town manages to win this game then it will be a legendary event in every possible way. Inter will be my missing Stefano Sensie through injury.
PSG will play RB Leipzig at Parc des Princes. A late Mbappe penalty helped the French club defeat Angers at the weekend. Despite all the dream team and Galacticos 2.0 talks PSG haven't been all great this season. Neymar and Lionel Messi should be fit to play the game. Keylor Navas and Leondro Parades are injured while Angel Di Maria is suspended for the encounter.
Real Madrid travel away to Shakhtar Donetsk, a team that defeated them twice last season. Madrid's last UCL game was an embarrassment as they lost at home against Sheriff. Marcelo and Ferland Mendy have returned to the squad while Isco, Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal and Dani Ceballos remain out while Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic are newest to join the treatment table. Madrid's weekend game was postponed which has given them ample time to prepare for this game.
Aus captain Finch to be available for T20 WC warm-up game against India
Dubai, Oct 14 (Cricket news) Australia captain Aaron Finch's recovery from a knee surgery in August has been ahead of schedule and he will be available for the T20 World Cup warm-up game against India on October 20.
Finch underwent a surgery in August to repair cartilage in his right knee and there were initial doubts regarding his availability for Australia's two warm-up games against New Zealand (October 18) and India (October 20).
“Yeah, it is all good. I think it's nine weeks tomorrow, post-surgery, so everything has come along really well. It is probably a couple of weeks ahead of schedule," he said at the pre-tournament virtual media interaction on Thursday.
"Originally it was probably touch and go to be available for the two warm up games, but at the moment it is looking like there will be no problems, so looking forward to getting out and getting back into it,” added the 34-year-old Finch, who also opens the batting.
Finch reiterated that a struggling David Warner, who was dropped from Sunrisers Hyderabad playing team during the fag end of the Indian Premier League in the UAE, would be ready for the T20 World Cup.
“I think over the years, we have seen when he (Warner) is got to bat against the world (teams), he is far (better player). I have got no issues with the preparation that he has had," said Finch of Warner who has played 81 T20 Internationals.
“We have seen him in great spirits, he is coming here with a great attitude and he is organising things behind the scenes, he is doing everything that he loves to do, I have got no issues that come game one he will be ready to go.” Australia open their T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa on October 23 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The 34-year-old Warner, a swashbuckling opener, only played two IPL games for SRH in the UAE leg -- one against Delhi Capitals and the other against Punjab Kings -- in which he scored 0 and 2 respectively.
The Australian players have had a disjointed preparation for the T20 World Cup due to various reasons, including COVID-19 lockdown in their country but Finch said his side have come into the tournament with confidence.
“It is the one that has eluded us. We have been close a couple of times but we have also been quite a distance off in other times. We are still very confident going into (the World Cup).
"We have got a group that have played a lot of T20, not a huge amount together, guys are at different stages of preparation and getting back to playing. It comes down to getting it done on the day," said Finch who has played 76 T20Is.
"Every team can win any game, we know that in T20 cricket, there are match winners right across the board, so we just have to urn up and get it done at the right time.” Asked where Steve Smith would bat, Finch said, “Similar to Maxi (Glenn Maxwell). He (Smith) is someone who can be really adaptable through that middle overs. He provides us with a lot of options and a lot of flexibility.” The Australia captain also said that there has been no distraction from the developments related to Ashes against England.
“No, there hasn’t been any distraction from that, to be honest. All that talk is behind the scenes between boards and players association and things like that, so none of that has come into the player’s chat over here,” he signed off.
Also Read : Watson says Hazlewood hard bowler to face due to his 'control over ball', compares him with McGrath
News Source : PTI
Can Sergio Aguero and Ousmane Dembélé's return turn Barcelona's season around?
(Football news) Barcelona have had a bumpy start to the season as they sit 9th on the La Liga table. The Champions League is where Barcelona has struggled the most with 2 losses in 2 games as the Blaugrana sit 4th on the UCL table. Injuries is one of the factors that has played its part in Barcelona's struggle.
Ronald Koeman has been handed a boost by the return of Sergio Aguero and Ousmane Dembélé to training and the pair are all set to return for Barcelona's important La Liga clash against Valencia. Dembélé's career since arriving at Barcelona in 2017 has been plagued with injuries. The winger has played only 81 matches in 4 seasons in Barcelona colours. The Frenchman is still 24 years of age which might be the only reason that Barcelona has still not sold him and still expect him to overcome the injury issues.
Aguero on the other hand was signed from Manchester City for free this summer. Last two seasons have been very unusual for the Argentine who didn't feature due to various reasons, one of which was injuries. Aguero is yet to play a minute for Barcelona but his return is a huge positive for Koeman.
The one thing that remains to be seen is how Koeman uses the two returning players. Aguero will definitely play through the middle and Dembélé can play on either wing. Aguero's return will mean that Memphis Depay will have to move wide left which is where both Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati prefer to play. Martin Braithwaite's return will cause another headache for the Dutch manager.
Koeman would welcome the headache of who to play which is better than what he had before where he didn't have enough players. Aguero and Dembélé will without a doubt improve the Barcelona side if they do manage to stay fit. What is interesting to see is whether the pair start the game against Valencia or come off the bench.
A look back at what happened in the 1st half of Indian Premier League 2021
(Cricket news) The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League is all set to return for it's 2nd phase. The tournament was cancelled earlier this year after a Covid outbreak and it is now back, shifted from India to the UAE. The first half of the tournament just like every other edition was filled with excitement and drama. What better match to mark it's return than Chennai Super Kings Vs Mumbai Indians on 19th September.
Delhi Capitals under new captain Rishabh Pant are currently on top of the table with 12 points in 8 matches followed by Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians who all have a game in hand. Sunrisers Hyderabad are at the bottom, having won only one match.
Also read: The sudden shift from Test cricket to T20, turning defense into offense
Some big names like Ben Stokes, Pat Cummins, Jos Buttler, Adam Zampa, Chris Woakes and Johnny Bairstow will be missing the 2nd phase due to various reasons and teams have been allowed to choose replacements. Wanindu Hasaranga, Nathan Ellis, Glenn Phillip and Tim Southee are some of the players who have been roped in.
As for individual statistics, Shikhar Dhawan with 380 runs leads the race for Orange cap closely followed by KL Rahul and Faf Du Plessis. RCB pacer Harshal Patel with 17 wickets currently holds the purple cap. Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Devdutt Padikal are the only players to have hit a century while Deepak Chahar is the only bowler to have picked up 4 wickets in a match.
How Japan’s Olympic success has been followed by COVID failure
Lund (Sweden)/Sendai (Japan), Aug 28 (The Conversation) From a sporting perspective, the Tokyo Olympics were a massive success for Japan. Finishing third behind the Olympic behemoths of the US and China, Japan secured a record 27 gold medals.
Yet, as the closing ceremony reached a crescendo, on the Tokyo streets ambulances were taking patients from hospital to hospital in a desperate search for available beds.
During the first week of August, there were 2,897 cases of ambulances unable to admit patients to hospitals nationwide, a sharp increase from previous weeks. And with the delta variant now dominant, each day is currently seeing a record-breaking number of new COVID-19 cases.
Just before the Olympics, everything had seemed to be on track: Japan’s vaccination programme had just reached the impressive milestone of one million vaccinations per day, case numbers were manageable, and both the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government had promised a “safe and secure” games. Since then, though, Japan’s situation has nosedived.
Operating in ‘disaster mode’ Japan is now facing not only record cases, but also record numbers of severely ill patients: 1,974 as of August 26 2021. In Tokyo alone, daily infections have topped 4,000 throughout August, including more than 270 severe cases at the time of writing.
New guidelines stipulating that only high-risk patients be hospitalised mean that more than 20,000 infected individuals in Tokyo are staying at home. Unsurprisingly, reports are emerging of patients whose conditions have deteriorated rapidly, in some cases ending in death.
To deal with this spike of patients unable to receive medical care, the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, has outlined plans to set up “oxygen stations” to give supplemental oxygen outside of hospital and to offer the Ronapreve antibody cocktail treatment for patients to use at home.
Also read: Bhavina Patel defeats China’s Zhang Miao 3-2 in the semifinals of the Tokyo Paralympics, will play for gold in the final
The government’s expert panel has described the situation as “out of control”, with the capital’s hospitals now operating in “disaster mode”. The panel is advising that at this stage, the public should take its own measures to protect itself from the virus. Public attention has fixed on the Tokyo metropolitan area, but the virus has now spread and is rampant throughout the country.
The role of the Olympics There was widespread opposition to the staging of the Olympics before they began, as the public was sceptical of the claims of a “risk-free” games. Undoubtedly the event helped the virus spread.
In the end it was not the athletes that were the problem, but rather the mixed messaging of staging the world’s biggest mega-event in the middle of a pandemic. Despite spectators not being allowed into Olympic venues, people still gathered to watch the games in parks and bars across the country. Public compliance with government measures deteriorated.
As the Suga government’s own chief COVID-19 expert, Shigeru Omi, has explained, the Olympics “affected the public’s perception” of the crisis, weakening the government’s own stay-at-home message and undermining the declaration of a state of emergency.
Vaccinations to the rescue? Taro Kono, the minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine rollout, has trumpeted his country’s success in inoculating its population. Japan went from vaccine laggard to one million doses per day in an astonishingly short time, and the majority of the elderly population have received two doses.
Still, with only 43% of the population fully vaccinated (approximately 54% had received at least one shot as of August 26), Japan is near the bottom of the OECD vaccination table.
So far Japan’s death rate has not increased in tandem with the infection rate. While there is likely some degree of lag, other countries have shown that high vaccination rates do help to erode the link between infection and death – meaning the climbing vaccination rate may have spared the country from an worse outcome.
Nonetheless, the dominance of the more infectious delta variant, together with Japan’s still relatively low vaccination rate, bodes ill for the coming months.
Where is this all going? Japan’s current wave has begun to slow but is yet to crest. Its impact on the health system is already visible and will likely worsen. The fallout in terms of long COVID will reveal itself in time.
A key problem is that the government has lost credibility. Staging the Olympics was only the latest in a series of mixed messages on COVID-19 – last year the government’s “Go To” travel campaign encouraged tourism in the middle of the country’s third wave, while the delayed vaccination campaign is partly the result of prioritising domestic-vaccine development over imports. The recent cover up of Japan’s first case of the lambda variant, as it was related to the Olympics, has added to public distrust.
The government meanwhile has expanded the scope of the current states of emergency that are in place, adding more prefectures. Suga’s top adviser Omi has called for a 50% reduction in mobility to flatten the curve and to relieve pressure on hospitals. Experts have also demanded legal changes to allow for stricter lockdown measures, like those implemented in Europe. Yet legal changes will require time.
With a general election scheduled for October, growing frustration over the government’s crisis management is threatening Suga and his Liberal Democratic Party’s electoral prospects. In post-Olympic polls, support for the government slipped below 30%, the lowest since the prime minister took office.
For various reasons, his party’s victory had seemed preordained. Although the opposition has so far failed to take advantage of the government’s failures, with two potentially devastating months ahead, now Suga’s position has never been more precarious. If the situation becomes dire, the challenge may even come before the election from within his own party.
Right now, it is hard to see the government regaining the public’s trust, and the short-term outlook is bleak. However, as the situation deteriorates, the Japanese public itself may sufficiently alter behaviour to slow the virus’s spread. (The Conversation)
News source: PTI
Australian women's teams's Megan Schutt, Jess Jonassen opt out of India series
Melbourne, Aug 18 (Cricket news) The Australian women's team's seasoned campaigners Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen have opted out of the upcoming multi-format home series against India due to various reasons.
The tour, starting September 19, involves three ODIs, three T20Is and one Day-Night Test.
While pace spearhead Schutt has requested the selectors to not consider her for selection due to personal reasons, spin bowling all-rounder Jonassen will miss the assignment after suffering a bone stress injury in her tibia. She is ranked world number in the ODIs.
Another notable absentee from the 18-member squad is Belinda Vakarewa, who is also skipping the series due to personal reasons.
The uncapped Maitlan Brown, who was part of the squad against New Zealand last year, has returned after a long layoff due to a hamstring injury.
Getting their first national call-ups are Stella Campbell and Georgia Redmayne.
The series is scheduled to begin with the ODIs on September 19 in Sydney (there is a possibility of a change in fixtures due to the ongoing coronavirus-enforced lockdown in New South Wales), followed by the lone Test at the WACA in Perth on September 30 and conclude with the T20Is in Sydney from October 7.
Also read: In this England team, so far only Root looked like scoring a century says Sachin Tendulkar
"We're fully supportive of the requests from Belinda and Megan to not be considered for selection and will continue to work with them to ensure they have the appropriate support," national selector Shawn Flegler said.
"As leader of the bowling attack, Megan's absence will provide the opportunity for someone else to play the type of role she has so well over a lengthy period.
"Jess is another big loss and will be disappointed to miss out, but she's another one that's worked hard over the winter and with a long summer ahead, her focus will be to get herself right with a lot of cricket left in the season." Redmayne, who has been playing for Welsh Fire in the women's Hundred, has been rewarded for her prolific WNCL form for Queensland last season, where she scored 531 runs at 132.75 with two centuries.
She was also Brisbane Heat's leading run-scorer in the WBBL with 357 at 32.45.
Pacer Campbell, who plays for New South Wales and Sydney Sixers, joins a growing list of young quicks in the Australia set-up alongside Tayla Vlaeminck, Darcie Brown and Maitlan Brown.
She only managed three wickets at 70.66 in last season's WNCL but was the Sixers' joint second-leading wicket-taker in the WBBL with ten scalps.
Australia squad: Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.
News source: PTI
Players who can turn around the match in India Vs England Series
Cricket news: England are all set to host India for a five-match Test series. England lost 3-1 in India earlier this year and will be keen to use their home advantage this time to turn things around. India on the other hand would be looking to win a test series in England for the first time since 2007. The youngsters had a good series versus the Sri Lankans and will be looking to perform well in the longer format of the game. This time they will be up against experienced players but will be backed up by senior Indian players. The England players will have the home advantage and will use it to baffle the Indians. James Anderson and Stuart will spearhead the bowling attack and will be a force to reckon with. Anderson’s swing can be devastating at times and can disarm the batting force. Umesh Yadav is back on the squad and will try to inflict damage on the English soil along with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Pujara has lately been criticised for his strike rate most recently in the World Test Championship final against New Zealand. But he has the calibre and patience to let his bat talk and deliver. He has been the backbone of the test team many times, standing strong against tough conditions.
Here are five Indian Players to look out for:
1) Ravichandran Ashwin- Ashwin was named man of the match in the last India versus England series that happened earlier this year. This time around the all rounder might not have much help from the conditions but will still be very crucial for India. Ashwin’s overseas record was never impressive before 2018. Ashwin had played nine test matches in SENA countries before 2018 and managed to scalp 24 wickets. After 2018 the off spinner has racked up 48 wickets in 12 Test matches in SENA countries although an overseas five wicket haul is still missing from his record book. Ashwin was the pick of bowlers in the three tests he played in Australia last time around. Although his record in England has not been the best, a series of matches in county cricket will surely work in his favour to change that. Ashwin also picked up five wickets in the WTC final against New Zealand which is another sign of things to come. The Tamil Nadu stalwart is also just five wickets away from overtaking Harbhajan Singh to become India’s third highest wicket taker with only Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev.
2) Mohammed Siraj- Siraj burst onto the scene in the Border Gavaskar trophy. The pacer made his debut in the second test match and instantly showed signs of greatness. Siraj ended the series as India’s highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets including an astonishing five-wicket haul in the second innings of the legendary Brisbane test. Despite the success in Australia the Hyderabad seamer was left out of the WTC final against New Zealand in favour of an experienced bowling attack. Siraj might not be the first name on the team sheet yet but if given a chance could prove to be very effective in typical English conditions. Siraj’s ability to hit the deck hard consistently and generate the odd swing makes him a tough player to keep on the bench for too long.
3) KL Rahul- KL Rahul has been handed a golden opportunity of a comeback in the Test team. KL was India’s opener in the 2018 away season but was subsequently dropped from the side after poor performances in England and Australia. After good performances in the shorter formats and especially in the IPL Rahul was brought back in the red ball squad for the Australia tour. His return to the side caused a lot of debates with former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar saying that his comeback sends a wrong message and demotivates Ranji Players. The Wicketkeeper expectedly didn’t play a single game and to make matters worse sustained an injury before the final test. Rahul scored an impressive hundred in the warm-up game against the county 11 in which he batted in the middle order and also kept wickets. With Shubham Gill ruled out of the series and Mayank Agarwal out of contention for the first test due to a head injury KL Rahul might have to open the batting. In his last match in England, Rahul scored a 4th innings hundred at the Oval. The series will be a great opportunity for the Banglore Batter to cement his place in all three formats of the game for years to come whether it is as an opener or in the middle order is a big question.
4) Virat Kohli- It’s difficult to not include Virat Kohli in this list for various reasons. The most prominent being his unbelievable performance in this very series three years ago. The Indian captain scored 593 runs scoring two centuries in the process in 2018 and was awarded the man of the series. Kohli hasn’t scored an International ton since his 136 in November 2019 against Bangladesh. The Indian skipper will be very keen to end his century drought and what better stage to do it. Apart from his captaincy, Kohli’s performance with the bat will be very key from India’s point of view. If India do decide to go for six pure batsmen as they have been doing recently then the pressure on each batter will increase and Kohli will have to step up for India to win.
5) Shardul Thakur- The Indian squad is very well balanced in all departments. The only thing missing is a fast-bowling all-rounder. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya missing from the squad leaves a big hole in the setup, especially while touring England. Shardul Thakur has shown incredible signs of having the potential to fill that hole. The pacer made his Test debut back in 2018 against West Indies but got injured after bowling ten balls. Thakur was part of the T20I and ODI squad for the Australia tour but stayed back for the test series to act as a net bowler. He along with T. Natarajan and Washington Sundar was handed a golden opportunity to play the last test after unexpected injuries to players. Shardul grabbed that opportunity by picking up 7 crucial wickets at the Gabba but his most valuable contribution came with the bat as Thakur played a fiery first innings knock of 67 runs. His aggressiveness with the ball and firepower with the bat could be India’s wild card in the series. Thakur might be down the current squad’s pecking order in terms of bowling but his prowess with the bat makes him a valuable asset considering the much highlighted weakness of the Indian tailenders.
Also read: India Vs England series, youngsters waiting to shine
Here are five England players to look out for:
1) Ollie Robinson- Ollie Robinson made an incredible test debut just a couple of months ago in the first test against New Zealand. The pacer took seven wickets and then got caught in a wave of controversy when his old racist and sexist tweets caught attention. Robinson later apologised but received a suspension and missed the second test. After an investigation, Robinson’s suspension was lifted and he was named in the squad for this series. With the absence of Jofra Archer, Robinson is the perfect candidate as a third quick bowler along with Broad and Anderson. His ability with the bat is an added advantage against a side like India. Robinson’s ability to consistently seam swing the ball is something which might be difficult for the Indian’s to deal with.
2) Sam Curran- After the recent withdrawal of Ben Stokes, Sam Curran’s importance in this England team has become much more than what it was before. Curran's ability with the ball and the bat makes him an almost perfect replacement for Ben Stokes. Curran’s swinging balls caused India a lot of trouble last time around and the Surrey all rounder will be looking to have the same impact but this time with added contributions with the bat. Sam Curran who is still only 23 years of age has already stamped his authority on the international stage. Curran will be very crucial for England in this series with the conditions massively favouring a bowler with his particular set of skills.
3) Stuart Broad- Stuart Broad along with his partner Jimmy Anderson will lead the English troops in the series. While Anderson is at the back end of his career Broad still has a few years left in him. The Nottinghamshire bowler like every other pacer did not have any tangible impact in India but this time around Broad will have a lot of pressure to deliver results. The pacer will be keen to have a massive impact after an average performance against New Zealand.
4) Joe Root- The England captain will have a lot of burden as a batsman in this series. The English batsmen have been very disappointing in the post covid era. Joe Root single handedly won the series for his side in Srilanka and tried his best to do the same in India. Root is the only batsman in the current squad who has consistently scored runs. He was another player whose performance was below par against New Zealand. There is no denying the fact that Joe Root’s performance will determine whether England manage to get the better of India.
5) Jos Buttler- Jos Buttler was England’s highest run-scorer in the 2018 series against India and will be equally important this time around if not more. Butler was rested after playing the first match of the tour of India and hasn’t played a test match ever since. The gloveman has been in good form in the limited-overs format throughout. Buttler’s absence was clearly felt in the New Zealand series. With his ability to counterattack and bat aggressively Buttler can win matches single-handedly. Whether he keeps wickets instead of Johnny Bairstow remains to be seen but Butter's batting ability is more than enough to make him one of the first names in the playing XI.
David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins among seven Australian Indian Premier League returnees to pull out of West Indies and Bangladesh tours
Melbourne, Jun 16 Seven top Australian cricketers who recently played in the IPL have pulled out of the country's white-ball tour of West Indies and Bangladesh.
The two tours are part of team's preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.
David Warner, Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams have requested not to be considered for the tours for various reasons while Steve Smith has been rested to fully recover from an elbow complaint which flared during the IPL, Cricket Australia said in a statement.
The move will leave coach Justin Langer without seven of his best players four months out from the T20 World Cup to be held in October and November.
Cricket Australia on Wednesday named a 18-man squad for the twin tours. Australia play five T20 Internationals and three ODIs between July 9 and 24. The five-match T20 tour of Bangladesh is yet to be confirmed.
"The tours are subject to agreement on bio-security arrangements and relevant government approvals," the CA said in the statement.
Cummins, Maxwell, Warner, Stoinis and Richardson were released from hotel quarantine late last month following the suspension of IPL and Australia's subsequent border closure for all arrivals from India, which led to the Australian contingent spending more than a week in the Maldives before they could return home.
Richardson left hotel quarantine around three weeks earlier than the rest of the IPL contingent after he, Adam Zampa and AJ Tye flew out of India before the federal government's travel ban had come into effect. Richardson, who has a young son, has declined to tour, while Zampa and Tye will go.
Jason Behrendorff, Moises Henriques and Riley Meredith have all agreed to go for the tour despite also being part of the IPL contingent that recently left hotel quarantine having returned home via the Maldives.
National selector Trevor Hohns said they "are naturally disappointed not to have all players available for the Australian team at this time however the NSP respects the decisions of those who have opted out of this tour.
“Steve Smith was unavailable for selection due to an elbow injury and will now be able to use this time to fully recover ahead of the World Cup and home Ashes Series." Hohns, however, said the missing out of some of the top players will present opportunities to others to push for selection in the Australian T20 World Cup squad.
“International tours in the time of Covid-19 undoubtedly present many additional challenges for athletes. This is a great chance for these players to make a case for the World Cup and all are considered very real prospects of making that tournament by performing well across these tours.” The squad is due to depart for the West Indies on June 28 for five T20 Internationals at Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia followed by three One-Day Internationals at Kensington Stadium in Barbados.
If confirmed, the team will then play five T20 Internationals against Bangladesh.
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha. News source PTI
India's Olympic-bound shooting team leaves for training-cum-competition tour of Croatia
New Delhi, May 11 The Olympic-bound Indian shooting team on Tuesday left for Croatia for a two and a half months training-cum-competition tour, its final tune-up to the upcoming Tokyo Games.
With coaches and support staff in tow, a 13-member Indian shooting team took off for Croatian capital Zagreb, where it will undergo a training camp before leaving for Osijek to take part in the European Championships (May 20 to June 6) followed by the combined ISSF World Cup (June 22 to July 3).
"Team India takes off in 20 mins. Bon Voyage, Get the nose to the ground and work hard for your inevitable success team," Raninder Singh, president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) tweeted just before the team's departure.
The two Olympics bound skeet shooters Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan will be based in Italy.
The Indians, including Gurjoat Singh Khangura, took part in the ongoing shotgun World Cup in Lonato, where they could not make the final of the men's skeet event on Monday.
Former India shooter Suma Shirur, who is now the high-performance coach of the national rifle team, sought blessings before their departure.
"With a "Bharat Mata ki Jay" we get ready to depart for Croatia. From there straight to Tokyo2020 Olympics. 80 days in total. The Indian Shooting team needs your blessings to give their best," Shirur wrote on her Twitter handle.
The team left in a chartered flight arranged by the NRAI.
After the stint in Croatia, the team will directly leave for Tokyo to participate in the Olympics, beginning on July 23.
The ISSF World Cup in Osijek is being organised in place of the one earlier scheduled in Baku, Azerbaijan (from June 21 to July 2), which got cancelled due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in that country.
There will be nine coaches for the 13 rifle and pistol shooters but some coaches like Samaresh Jung, Jaspal Rana and Ronak Pandit could not travel with the team for various reasons.
Foreign rifle coach Oleg Mikhailov was also a part of the travelling contingent but longtime pistol coach Pavel Smirnov could not leave on Tuesday as he did not get his visa. He is likely to join the team next week.
As per the standard COVID-19 protocols in Croatia, the Indian contingent will serve a mandatory quarantine before starting the training. World Cup gold medallist Sanjeev Rajput and world number in 10m air pistol, Elavenil Valarivan, also issued pre-departure tweets from their respective handles, both hoping to lift the spirit of the coronavirus-ravaged nation with their achievements in the sporting arena.
"Long tour ahead, wish us luck. Hope we are able to win medals and raise spirits of the nation," Elavenil wrote.
Alongside a few pictures of the shooters, two-time Olympian Rajput tweeted, "Off to Croatia for our preparation leading up to Tokyo2020. Hopefully the next time we enter India is with a handful of Olympic Medals. Thank you for the support as always. Do keep blessing us with your wishes! Jai Hind." News Source : PTI
Hit hard by foreign pull-outs, Royals seek to loan players from other teams
Great infrastructure, qualified coaches and exposure is key for development at the grassroot level
Sports have always played an important role in uniting the community. In a digital era of smartphones and social media, sports at the grassroot level not only provides some much needed physical activity for children but also paves the way for a thriving sports ecosystem for the future.
In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Arnold Wilson the Business Head of India On Track spoke about what it takes to make India a sporting nation, the challenges faced at the grassroot level, adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing more Indians compete at the highest level and his future goals.
You have been associated with India on Track for almost 7 years, in your experience what does India as a country need to become a sporting nation?
There are many things that are needed for our nation to be inclined towards sports. For starters, changing the thought process of parents and making them look at sports as an equally important factor as education by emphasizing the effects of sport on a child’s mental well being and overall health. Sports prepare children for the world because it involves discipline, commitment, winning and more importantly it teaches them how to overcome losing. Hence sports should not be considered as an add on or only a hobby class. To make India a sporting nation, multiple factors need to come together simultaneously. One of them is accessible sports infrastructure, second is to have coaches who can train at the grassroot level, academy level and elite level and the third is exposure. Exposure to playing and competing at a very young age by participating in tournaments within your communities to competing at the highest level is extremely important in order to represent India at the global level. In Argentina, kids start participating in football baby leagues before the age of 5 years, so you can imagine how many competitive games they’ve played by the time they represent their country in the Under 17 age category. The most critical part is to create enough and more grassroot opportunities for children. Opportunities for the kids to play, practice and train continuously is fundamental to becoming a sporting nation. It’s a lot of things and it’s difficult to put in one answer.
What are the different types of grassroot training programmes that you have been a part of?
We started with Arsenal Soccer Schools after which we worked with the NBA to create & launch NBA Basketball School in India. The NBA Basketball School philosophy is to share the game of basketball with young athletes across the world by teaching skills, values, and wellness in a positive and fun environment. The holistic approach is intended to strengthen the culture of youth basketball, teach life lessons, and empower young athletes to succeed both on and off the court. We have also worked with Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools and since the last 3 years we’ve been running LaLiga Football Schools across the country. We also have an International Football Development Programme where we partner with a Portuguese top division football club called G.D Estoril Praia and we have been sending talented children to Lisbon to train at the club and become part of the youth academy system. It gives them good exposure to football at the highest level and we also take care of their stay and food along with education from a school in Estoril. We also run an extensive grassroots development programme for Major League Baseball in India. Lastly, we successfully ran the inaugural ISL Children’s League in Kolkata which had 100 schools and clubs participate with an approximate attendance of 4000 students playing in the 4 month league across 4 age groups.
What are the world class training and condition techniques that India on Track implements in their grassroot initiatives?
When we partner with the NBA or LaLiga, the technical delivery is completely led by our global partners since they are market leaders in terms of their understanding of the sport and how these development programs are supposed to run. Both NBA and LaLiga have a large global network running various training programmes in many different geographies. In order to ensure the programme is delivered as per International standards, LaLiga & NBA recommend experienced licensed coaches who are part of the partner’s global network ensuring the technical product is never compromised. All of LaLiga’s coaches are UEFA license holders, these coaching licences are mandated by UEFA, the official governing body of European football. We also have national and regional ‘Train the Trainer’ programmes where coaches learn the training methodologies of LaLiga Football Schools & NBA Basketball School to ensure the quality of the training program is consistent across the country. It’s an extremely strong and robust system in place. As an organization we give utmost priority to the safety, security and comfort of the children and we have a strict code of conduct not just for the coaches but also the children and parents. Our curriculums are designed as age appropriate training, with clearly defined student to coach ratio. Lastly, all team members, coaches and managers go through a safeguarding training workshop before they start working directly with children.
In a cricket crazy country like India, how challenging has it been to promote sports such as football, basketball and badminton at the grassroot level?
Promoting sports in India is challenging for various reasons, but primarily parents want to ensure their children completely focus on education to ensure their future is secured. Sports is often considered as a distraction (especially around the time of examinations) with the exception of cricket because of the strong career path the sport has to offer in India. However, a trend that we have noticed in the past 5 years is that parents are now far more open to sports other than cricket. Some parents have started to look at sports as an important aspect for holistic development, some look at it as a hobby, a way children can enjoy themselves without expecting it to be a career option. These are positive indications of a changing mindset of parents, which is critical for the future of grassroots development in India.
There are several onground issues such as lack of proper training facilities, availability of these facilities, pricing structure, timing & days of the training sessions etc. Every challenge is unique in its own way depending on the partner school, catchment area, city etc hence we have to ensure the solution is customized to that specific challenge because all grassroots programmes are distinctively different from the other. By converting more schools to adopt our grassroots programs, the parents automatically come along. Even though we live in a cricket crazy country, there is enough room for everyone.
How are you/ India on Track adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue the work at the grassroot level?
In mid March last year, 10 days before the government introduced the lockdown, we had already taken a call to shut our centers because safety of the children is of the utmost importance. Before the lockdown, we had 70 centers across 13 states in approximately 17 cities and we were training over 4000 children at the time. Since all programmes were shut, we started online training sessions in a similar format to the on ground sessions. Each batch would have 20 to 25 children with two coaches for a duration of 60 minutes. We came up with session plans by working very closely with our partners such as LaLiga and NBA that were specifically designed for children to train by themselves in a small space available with or without having a ball. The objective is to keep children engaged while also prioritizing their safety. We also created different marketing campaigns and approached more than a thousand schools about the online programs and offered free workshops for the students. Our pricing was very affordable at an average cost of Rs 100 per session; we offered multiple packages that included 4 or 12 group sessions along with 1 on 1 training packages.
Post June - July, the participation numbers started to dip due to the commencement of online schooling so we had to re-innovate and created the India On Track Online Sports Festival. The first edition was held in August and was a week-long calendar of activities with participation from NBA Basketball School, LaLiga Football Schools, Major League Baseball First Pitch and Prakash Padukone Badminton Schools. Special sessions held with the likes of Princepal Singh (NBA Academy graduate) who conducted a masterclass training session followed by an informative session. Similarly we had LaLiga Canada's Technical Director, Diego Gutierrez lead a session on the importance of mental health and nutrition. We had industry experts from different parts of America, Spain, China, UAE, Canana who conducted special informative and engaging sessions for our students. In May this year we will host the 3rd edition of the online sports festival. We also got the parents engaged by hosting special sessions for Father’s day, Mother’s day, Women’s day and even birthday celebrations to keep the spirits up.
Which are the top sporting entities that India on Track have been associated with to redefine sports and philosophy?
We have been associated with the LaLiga, NBA, Major League Baseball, we also partner with Roland Garros, not specifically for work at the grassroot level but we run various digital initiatives for them. We also run the International Football Development Program with G.D. Estoril Praia. Over the last 4 years we’ve worked closely with Star Sports to create and execute various on ground experiences for their global partnerships and Indian properties. Since the inception of the Indian Super League we worked very closely with the Pune franchise running major portfolios for the first 3 years. I ran the grassroots initiatives of FC Pune City which is where I got the opportunity to be part of Premier League’s Premier Skills coaching courses. These are only a few of India On Track’s associations with global sporting entities that I’ve been directly involved with.
What would it take to raise the standard of football and basketball and see more Indian athletes compete at the highest level?
It would be great if we have a structured national basketball league for men and women that has a structured grassroots system integrated as a participation criteria. With regards to football at the highest level, it’s important to figure out the merger between the I-League and Indian Super League but at the grass root level, it’s critical that the teams with a presence at all the levels of the I-League or ISL are ensuring they have a strong grassroots system in place. It’s a pyramid structure where the base being a vast grassroots programme on top of which you can build a youth academy format which feeds into the elite training that eventually contributes to creating the reserve team. This should be the ideal structure that should be followed but implementing this is dependent on the funding and the money behind the league and the teams. It’s easier said than done because ISL teams are struggling financially and the objective is to save money to buy players who can make an immediate impact because survival is the priority. Multiple ISL teams have either changed ownerships and have even changed cities due to financial issues, hence survival will always be a bigger priority than investment in the grassroot. Creating a pyramid structure with a strong grassroots system is critical because without that, clubs will be forced to rely on hotbeds of talent and won’t be able to connect with their own community and develop local footballers.
What is your goal in terms of development at the grassroot level? What do you hope to achieve in the future?
I want to be a part of creating the complete pyramid structure which has a strong grassroots system, youth academy centres and elite training programmes. But purely looking at grassroots development I want to partner with thousands of schools across the country and explain to parents that sports keeps children mentally healthy and prepares them with key life lessons at a very young age. Today, your passion for sports can be turned into a viable career option. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue your dreams and make a living out of it. The messaging has to be very clear to parents, schools and of course children.
Through our existing programmes we’ve managed to now create development centres that basically host the top talented students coming out of the grassroots programmes. Students from these development centres have now started to compete and gain exposure at a local level such as playing in Mumbai District Football Association. Students across our LaLiga Football Schools training programmes get scholarship opportunities to train with a LaLiga club, enabling them to get exposure at an International level. Similarly we hope to create a similar format for students training in the NBA Basketball School programme where they get exposure training in the NBA Academy.
In order to tap into a larger talent pool we want to work closely with schools and governments. We are currently running a 2000 students government project in Tripura out of which 400 talented students will be training at Development Centers. We are excited about the talent we will discover as most of them are tribal kids and are very eager to learn. We hope that more such students progress from one level to another and it’s a model that others can adopt. I also want to be connected with clubs, federations and top academies like Reliance Foundation which is the gold standard of a training academy in India. We are building a network so that talent can move into the space they should be and expand the network Internationally in the longer run.