January 2021

Riding on a brilliant start, taking a 1-0 lead in the 2nd minute of the game, home team Argentina beat the Indian Women’s Hockey Team 2-0 here at Cenard, Buenos Aires. This was India’s second match with the World No. 2 ranked side after matches with the Argentina Junior Women’s and their ‘B’ teams. In the previous match, India conceded late goals resulting in a 2-3 score line favouring the home team. 

In today’s match, early pressure created by the Argentina’s forwardline helped push India on the backfoot in the very first quarter. A foot-foul by Indian defender in the striking circle, gave away a PC to the home team which was well-capitalized by the experienced squad. Silvina D’elia scored the goal, in a tactically executed PC, fetching her team a 1-0 lead in the 2nd minute of play. 

Though India didn’t let this early setback dent their spirit and worked a disciplined structure to find opportunities in the striking circle, they could not manage to breach the strong Argentinian defence to score. “If you don’t convert your opportunities, you know the other team will and that’s what happened today. Our structure was much better in this match and that’s why in the first two quarters we created good opportunities in the circle,” explained Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne about India’s performance. 

After the early jolt, Indian defence ensured an effective formation that kept the Argentinian forwardline at bay. With no goals scored in the second and third quarters by either team, the match went down to the wire with intense play being showcased in the fourth quarter of the match. It was Argentina who showed their experience as they held sway to convert opportunities. In the 54th minute, a defensive error on India’s part saw them earn a PC. Agustina Albertarrio did well to convert the goal, eventually helping her team clinch a 2-0 victory. 

“Argentina was very effective in their PCs and that was, for me, the deciding factor today. We feel we are getting closer to win, but small mistakes can make a huge difference in the match especially against a top-class team like Argentina,” stated Marijne. 

India will take on the Argentina on Saturday, 30th January at 09.30pm IST. 

Rani in action.

Indian Women’s Hockey Team went down fighting against a dominant Argentina ‘B’ in a thrilling encounter. Despite a late surge by India, the home team secured a 3-2 win. For Argentina ‘B’ goals were scored by Sol Pagela (25′), Constanza Cerundolo (38′) and Agustina Gorzelany (39′) while for India Salima Tete (6′) and Gurjit Kaur (42′) scored. 

In the first quarter, it was India who got off to a flying start winning a PC in the first minute. An intentional foul by Argentina while defending the PC led to the visiting side being awarded a penalty stroke. Unfortunately for India, the goal was saved. Without letting this missed opportunity slow their rhythm, the Indian team struck in the 6th minute through young Salima Tete who has been in good nick this tour. 

“We had a very good start to the match and though we couldn’t score off the penalty stroke, we were able to convert after a good interception in the 6th minute. In the first quarter, we were in control and kept a check on Argentina but the second quarter, they upped their game,” explained Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne. 

A slump in India’s defence in the second quarter was well-capitalized by the experienced home team. Sol Pagela’s 25th minute goal equalized the scoreline to 1-1. But the game tilted in their favour when India gave away two goals in the 38th and 39th minute. “I believe these two goals could have been stopped. We had restricted their circle entries to just 5 in this quarter but allowed them to convert twice in those five attempts. Though Gurjit scored in the following minutes to reduce the lead by one goal, we missed some good scoring opportunities thereafter. I feel we were a bit too rushed in our pursuit to convert. We must do much better to win from Argentina in the next following matches,” stated Marijne. 

Playing the Argentina Tour after covid-19 restrictions kept the Indian team out of competition for a year, the Indian Team has tested their core group in the past four matches where they secured two draws (2-2,1-1) and suffered two narrow loss (1-2 and 2-3). In their upcoming matches this week, the Indian side led by Rani will face the formidable World No.2 squad. “In the third and fourth matches, Argentina played with an experienced side that had recently won against Australia ‘A’ and this was a perfect platform for our players to adapt to their level. In these four matches, all the players in the Indian core group got a chance to show their best. In the upcoming four matches we will field our best side to see what we can create against the World No.2 team. There have been good learnings from these four matches, and I want to see how our main team performs against them,” he said. 

India will take on World No.2 Argentina on 27th January 2021 at 0400 hours IST. 

Sushma Kumari

Maintaining their unbeaten streak during the Tour of Chile, an impressive and dominating performance from the Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team saw them defeat Chile Senior Women’s Team 2-0 in their fifth match of the overseas tour held here at the Prince of Wales Country Club on Saturday evening. The two goals for India came in the last quarter through Sangita Kumari (48′) and Sushma Kumari (56′).

It was a very open contest between the two teams during the first three quarters, with neither team managing to break the deadlock. There were chances for both the teams through open play and set pieces, but the defenses stood up tall to deny their opponents.

India looked like they were under pressure during a phase of play in the second quarter when they conceded back to back Penalty Corners, but some good defending inside the striking circle made sure the hosts couldn’t take the lead.

A similar story unfolded in the third quarter, but it was India who were on the attack, seeing a Penalty Corner execution being defended well by Chile’s Senior team in the 32nd minute. The hosts themselves had a Penalty Corner three minutes later, but again it was the defense who were successful.

What had become a tight and nervy contest by the start of the fourth quarter, it was India who drew first blood as they orchestrated a beautiful team move to open the scoring through Sangita Kumari (48′). The young Forward took her chance confidently, and maintained her goal-scoring form. Minutes later, Chile had a glorious chance to equalize through a Penalty Corner, but India’s rushers performed their task decently.

In the 56th minute, it was the visiting team’s turn to get a Penalty Corner, which proved to be the decisive moment in the match. A well executed drag-flick and a successful strike off a rebound by Sushma Kumari hit the back of the net, and extended India’s lead to two goals, which they were able to maintain for the remaining few minutes to snatch their fourth win in five matches in Chile.

The Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team will play their sixth and last match of the Tour of Chile on Sunday evening (locally) / early Monday morning (Indian Standard Time) as they face the Chile Senior Women’s Hockey Team at 0400hrs IST.

Rajasthan Royals today announced the appointment of former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara as the Director of Cricket for the upcoming Season 14 of the Indian Premier League. Kumar will commence work with the team immediately.

Kumar, the current President of the Marylebone Cricket Club, will be responsible for overseeing the entire cricketing ecosystem of the Royal’s franchise including coaching structure, auction plans and team strategy, talent discovery and development, as well as the development of the Royals Academy in Nagpur.

Welcoming Kumar to the family, Mike Fordham, Group CEO Rajasthan Royals, said: “Kumar brings a wealth of cricket knowledge both as a player and a leader. We are thrilled to have him join the team and we are confident that Kumar will motivate, challenge and inspire our players and coaches that will translate to success on the field.” 

An undisputed great of the modern game, Kumar scored over 28,000 runs for Sri Lanka over a hugely successful 16-year and has the highest Test batting average of any player in the last 46 years.

The southpaw first graced the IPL in its inaugural season back in 2008, and started with a stylish fifty on debut against MS Dhoni’s CSK. That first season saw him amass 320 runs in ten games, guiding Kings XI to a top-four finish. The following seasons saw the southpaw maintain the consistency that people came to expect of him, scoring consistently over 300 runs in his first four seasons. In his final IPL season, back in 2013, Sangakkara turned up as a leader for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, leading the team both on and off the pitch, helping them secure a playoff spot in an extraordinary manner.

He is highly experienced in T20 cricket, winning the ICC World T20 in 2014 and helping Sri Lanka reach the ICC World T20 finals also in 2009 and 2012. He played for T20 franchises in India, England, the Caribbean, Australia and Bangladesh. Since ending his playing career in 2017, after a glorious record-breaking summer for Surrey, he has remained deeply engaged with the game with various roles: he has been a long-term member of the MCC World Cricket Committee and became the first non-British President of the MCC in October 2019; he is a member of Sri Lanka’s National Sports Council; and he has embarked upon a successful broadcasting career as a regular expert commentator for SKY Sports and Star Sports.

Commenting on his appointment, Kumar Sangakkara said: “It’s a privilege to be joining the Rajasthan Royals and I am excited about the new challenge. To oversee the cricket strategy of a franchise in the leading cricket competition in the world, as well as building the development programs and cricketing infrastructure that will provide the future foundation of the IPL team’s on-field success, is an opportunity that really motivated me. I have really enjoyed speaking to the leadership group over the recent weeks and can’t wait to get going. The team includes some of the world’s best players and great personalities so it’s going to be fun and very exciting to work with this group.”

“I’m delighted that Kumar has come on board and we have already had some great conversations together. He is someone who has had an exceptional cricket career himself and obviously understands the modern game. It’s great to have an all-time wicketkeeping great with us, he is someone who’s donned many hats,  he was a fantastic keeper-batsman, he’s led Sri Lanka with grace and class throughout and has done it for years with the Sri Lankan national team across formats. He’s someone who’s shown great character both on and off the field and the values that one associates with him are the same which we embody here at Rajasthan Royals. It is wonderful to have someone like him at the helm and is going to be fantastic to learn from him. I can’t wait to get started and work with him in the coming seasons”, added Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson

Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar addressing the gathering. Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia (Centre) and sports nutritionist Ruchika Sodhi (second from right) during the event.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday distributed cheques of Rs 7.48 crores as financial assistance to 307 Delhi sportspersons.

In a sports ceremony organised in Chhatrasal stadium, Sisodia showered praise on the young athletes. Addressing the gathering, Sisodia said, “Sports play a crucial role in education. Delhi has been at the top position in School Games for last three years. On the other hand, it is receiving accolades for its improved education system. “

“The NITI Aayog ranked Delhi’s government schools as the best in the country. This is a proud achievement for Delhi.”

He further said “other governments pay attention to their sportspersons only after they win medals. But, Delhi government is helping the sportspersons during their struggle phase and enabling them to win medals by providing all possible assistance.”

Under the city government’s Play and Progress scheme, financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh for under 14 categories and Rs 3 lakh for under 17 categories is provided. The government provides assistance of upto Rs 16 lakhs to talented sportspersons from Delhi.

West Indies cricket star Kieron Pollard, who has scored over 10,000 runs in the T20 format, is all set to be the captain of the Deccan Gladiators in the upcoming season of Abu Dhabi T10, powered by sky247net. The competition will be played at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi from 28th January – 6th February 2021.

Pollard expressed that the T10 format suits his style of cricket, “The thrill and excitement of T10 is limitless. But it’s actually not too dissimilar to the kind of cricket I grew up playing. It’s not about see ball hit ball. You need to be able to think on your feet, anticipate and execute plans without pausing too much. It suits me to be honest and my experience stands me in good stead when reading the opposition.”

Pollard added that a team is never out of the game in T10 cricket, “It’s (T10) a great concept and one that’s designed to create continuous excitement. You are never out of the game so those watching on the screen are glued to it every ball.”

The 33-year-old said that he is very excited to play with the likes of Sunil Narine and Imran Tahir in the Abu Dhabi T10 tournament, “I’m most excited about playing with the group that we have assembled at Deccan Gladiators. I can’t wait to go out there with match-winners like Narine, Tahir, Shahzad, Ingram, the local UAE star Zahoor and others. We also have a few surprises up our sleeves for our opponents.”

The Deccan Gladiators team owner Gaurav Grover expressed that the side is aiming nothing short of winning the trophy, “The target of Deccan Gladiators this time would definitely be to win the trophy. With the changes in the helm this year, there are high expectations from the Gladiators. We have taken care of every flaw we had, which might have been the reason for last year’s defeat (in the final).”

Grover added that the Gladiators have enough firepower to win the competition, “We have West Indian powerhouse as our captain – Keiron Pollard and our Icon Player himself is fearless and unbounded spinner – Sunil Narine. Also, our team is packed with threatening bowlers such as fast bowler Aaron Summers and (leg-spinner) Imran Tahir. Talking about batsmen, we have Mohammad Shahzad, who is also a wicketkeeper.”

A resilient performance from the Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team against the Chile Senior Women’s Team in their fourth match of Tour of Chile saw the two sides play out a well fought 2-2 draw here at the Prince of Wales Country Club on Thursday evening. India’s two goalscorers on the day were Deepika (40′) and Gagandeep Kaur (55′) who led India’s fightback after Chile had twice taken the lead through goals from Mariana del Jesus Lagos (21′) and Fernanda Villagran (51′).

With three wins from three matches in their Tour of Chile, Indian Junior Women’s Team started the match brightly, as they tried to penetrate Chile’s defence, but could not find a clear opportunity inside the first 15 minutes. On the other hand, Chile tried to push the young India team on the counter attacks, with their tactic paying off in the second quarter.

It was in the 21st minute that Chile’s Mariana del Jesus Lagos found herself with enough time and space in front of goal to get her shot away, and give her side an important lead in the match. India were quick to fight back, and tried to take control of proceedings to find the equalizing goal before the half-time break, but came up against some resolute defending from the hosts as Chile maintained their one goal advantage.

A charged up Indian team took to the field in the third quarter, and were able to create a lot more going forward. After having been denied from multiple Penalty Corners, the Indian team finally found the equalizer in the 40th minute through Deepika, who finished off a beautiful team goal to make it 1-1. 

However, Chile did not get bogged down after conceding, and tried to look for an opportunity again in the match to take the lead. It was in the 51st minute that their efforts were rewarded, as the umpire awarded them a Penalty Stroke for an infringement by India inside the striking circle. It was Chile’s Fernanda Villagran who converted from the spot to restore the hosts’ one-goal advantage.

A late fightback from India resulted in another equalizer being scored, with Chile conceding a Penalty Stroke this time after their player was found to be infringing the rules inside the striking circle. Gagandeep Kaur stepped up to take the resulting stroke, and slotted it past Chile’s Goalkeeper to make it 2-2 in the 55th minute. Both teams tried to look for an opening in the last five minutes, but the goal never came for either, and the two teams finished level at 2-2.

The Indian Junior Women’s Hockey Team will continue their Tour of Chile as they play their fifth match on Saturday evening (locally) / early Sunday morning (Indian Standard Time), taking on the Chile Senior Women’s Hockey Team at 0400hrs IST.

Boxing Federation of India presidential contender Ashish Shelar.

Former Maharashtra sports minister and Boxing Federation of India presidential contender Ashish Shelar on Thursday expressed his confidence about winning the BFI elections on February 3.

At a media interaction in New Delhi on Thursday, Shelar revealed that he and his team had met virtually every state unit in the run-up to the elections and “have noted their dissatisfaction and anger”.

“We are going to win the BFI elections by garnering over 70 per cent of the votes,” Shelar, a BJP leader, declared in response to a specific question. “I have personally interacted with almost every state unit and have learnt that the current dispensation in BFI under Mr Ajay Singh had made many promises before coming to power but has delivered very little,” he added, just before filing his nomination papers for the president’s post.

“The federation itself has been run in an autocratic manner, with the state units being completely ignored, which has been a huge setback for Indian boxing at the grassroots level. The financial situation of the BFI is also very delicate due to gross mismanagement and lack of vision which requires urgent attention,” he said.

Shelar, who has held many top positions in sport, including as president of Maharashtra Cricket Association and Mumbai District Football Association, charged that “Ajay Singh and his men were desperately trying to cling to power, even rigging the Electoral College list through the Returning Officer”.

“The Delhi High Court had ruled that only the President or Secretary can finalise the voters’ list. Despite that, the RO has taken decisions on at least three states without having any power to do so, which are, as you can imagine, detrimental to us,” he revealed.

BFI secretary-general Jay Kowli said that he was most unhappy with the way the BFI had been functioning. “It was being run out of the Spicejet office in Gurugram in a dictatorial manner. None of us were ever taken into confidence and nothing has been done to promote and nurture boxing at the grassroots level.

“I had been voicing my dissent against all this but without any effect. I am convinced that another spell by this team can ruin boxing. Something as basic as holding junior level national tournaments has not been done in the last four years. That is why I decided to support somebody who has the welfare of the sport and the boxers in his heart,” Kowli said.

“So many sports federations, even Bihar polls for the Assembly, were held despite the pandemic. But Ajay Singh postponed the BFI polls at the last moment as he realised that he would lose. Sadly for him, we are even better prepared now,” he said.

However, one BFI member slammed Shelar and Kowli’s claims, saying the federation under Ajay Singh has been doing “great work” in grass root level as well. “Junior nationals men and women held in 2017, 2018, 2019 and the young boxers were/are so happy with this new concept. We have done a lot on the grass root level as well. Anybody can check the records for that. It is on papers. For power, people are lying and they themselves are getting exposed. We have all the records with us to prove it,” he said.

The recent administration “mess” has also left some Indian boxers worried. “Olympic is this year and now a power tussle or election drama is on. We faced a lot in the past because of administration mess . We just wish all this settle soon so that we can focus more on the game rather than on this drama,” they told DLP on condition of anonymity.

As many as nine Indian pugilists will be seen at the Olympics later this year after starring performances in the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman last year.

(L-R) Cricketer Mohammed Shami, KKFI president Sudhanshu Mittal, Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, Wrestler Sushil Kumar, Ultimate Kho Kho promoter Amit Burman, cricketer Suresh Raina and Tenzing Niyogi, CEO, UKK.

While the sporting world is still trying to find ways to make a comeback fully after the coronavirus outbreak, the Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI) along with Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) is all set to uplift the skillset of its players with the introduction of a revolutionary High-Performance Assessment and Scientific Analysis & Evaluation Programme–“Rise in Sports Excellence”—for the very first time.
During a rigorous camp of almost a month, scheduled from January 18 to February 16, 138 players, including 18 women players, will be monitored by vastly experienced experts at Manav Rachna Sports Science Centre in Faridabad and SGT University in Gurugram to develop a pool of athletes who are assessed, scientifically monitored and transformed to become champions of the game.    

The Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju along with Rajeev Mehta General Secretary, IOA and popular sporting personalities like India’s individual Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar, only Indian to win consecutive Olympic medals, and top cricketers Suresh Raina and Mohammed Shami were present on Tuesday to inaugurate the coaching camp, where Kho Kho players have been selected from across the country for one of its kind scientific evaluation program.

The state of art expertise of the country’s top sports-tech institutes—Manav Rachna Sports Science Centre and SGT University, have been roped in to roll out this mammoth initiative.

“I have always believed sports science is the future of sports. To make India a sporting powerhouse, each sport needs to be developed, especially indigenous sports like Kho Kho which is a speed-reliant sport. The federation and Ultimate Kho Kho have done a commendable job in putting together such an exhaustive plan in such a short time. I congratulate Sudhanshuji (Mittal) as well as Amit Burman ji for lending their support. Indian sports need the backing of corporates and the presence of Amit ji surely is a step in the right direction,” said the Sports Minister Rijiju.

A 30-day camp will see players being monitored and analysed. The findings and parameters ranging from sports physiotherapy, rehabilitation, injury management, biomechanics, biokinetics, sports performance analysis, nutritional guidance and posture corrections will be put into action. The training will also mark the resumption of the sport after almost a 10-month gap. This training is compartmentalised in three phases—transition, preparatory and competitive one.  

“I would like to thank our Sports Minister, Mr Kiren Rijiju for coming here today and motivating the players. This camp will be a milestone for Sports Science and Technology in developing our players in many ways and am grateful for the support towards development by the Ministry, Sports Authority of India and Ultimate Kho Kho, our partners in this vision development. Our motive will be to create a large pool of players who can be developed into world-beaters and game ready for the upcoming challenges,” KKFI President Sudhanshu Mittal said.

The Ultimate Kho Kho has been instrumental in investing and developing this home-grown sport. Close to 200 crores investment commitment has been made by the league promoter and Dabur group Chairman, Amit Burman for the next five years. While a major share of the investment is focused on the growth and development of grassroots and initiation of this scientific programme will help to build excellence which is key for any sport and its growth, globally.

“I have always focused on thinking ahead of time and developing and promoting ideas into brands. Ultimate Kho Kho is no different as we envision excellence at the grassroots and take the game to the next level. For the game to develop it is key that we introduce technology and upgrade and tap the potentials of our players, make them champions and world beaters, backed with high performance training,” UKK Promoter Amit Burman said.
Adding on the innovations, Tenzing Niyogi, CEO, Ultimate Kho Kho said: “Kho Kho has a deep cultural connect with a massive fan base. Ultimate Kho Kho with its latent demand holds the promise of a blockbuster league. With the influx of sports science changing the dynamics of training in team sports, this camp will help develop the athletes to transform and become champions of the game. During the camp we are also planning to test a new sports technology for tag sports in order to bring ‘edge of the seat’ action for audiences.”

An exhibition match was played where sports celebrities were teamed up with the Kho Kho players as the teams rolled out the fast-paced format which played under the revamped rules that are to be introduced during the Kho Kho league, slated for end of the year. The culmination of the camp will see players participating in a five-day tournament consisting of eight teams divided into two pools where players’ speed and gameplay will also be tested along with agility and strength conditionings.

Jehan Daruvala, Prema Racing. FIA Formula 3 Championship, Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France. 22nd June 2019.

Mumbai Falcons is all set to create history by becoming the first full-fledged team from India to compete in the prestigious F3 Asian Championship, commencing in Dubai on January 29.

The team that swept almost all the titles in the inaugural X1 League last year will be led by F2 stalwart Jehan Daruvala and British F3 Runner-Up Kush Maini, according to a press release here on Wednesday.

With former F2 and GT1 racer Armaan Ebrahim as the Team Principal and 8-time National Champion Rayomand Banajee as strategy and communications head, Mumbai Falcons is confident of winning the Championship.

“Our goal is to take Indian Motorsport to new heights. Asian F3 is just the beginning,” Navjeet Gadhoke, owner of Mumbai Falcons, which came into existence just last year, said. “With Jehan and Kush, we have the best driver line-up on the grid. We are confident of going all the way and winning the Championship,” he added.

“We have quietly been working on this and we are ready to enter the international stage in a big way,” Moid Tungekar, CEO of Mumbai Falcons, declared.

The Asian F3 Championship is the continent’s most competitive racing event, with nine strong teams boasting of multiple F2 and F3 drivers, competing. Last year, two racers from this Championship had even made it to Formula 1. 

Incidentally, MSport had fielded a team last year but had only one Indian driver in the lineup.

The five-round 15-race long season will kick off in Dubai on January 29 and conclude on February 20 in Abu Dhabi.

Jehan Daruvala, who is being hailed as the next big thing in Indian racing, is just one step away from Formula 1. The multiple International Karting Champion is the only Indian to have made it to the podium of an FIA World Championship (third in the 2014 FIA CIK World Karting Championship). 

He also remains the only Indian to win an official Grand Prix (New Zealand Grand Prix). His 26 Rookie Podiums in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is a record. He had multiple wins and was second runner up in the 2019 FIA F3 Championship, after remaining in title contention till the last round. A few weeks ago, he became the first Indian to win an F2 Race in its current iteration too. 

Kush Maini is the youngest Indian to ever win an Asian Karting race and is a multiple Karting Champion and race winner across Formula categories. He made waves last year when he was in title contention for the BRDC Formula 3 Championship. With 3 victories to his name, the young Indian proved himself, across some of the most iconic British circuits. Kush was the most prominent driver in the inaugural X1 Racing League, en route to winning the Indian International Driver’s title with Mumbai Falcons.