Unprecedented success of the Pro Kabaddi League last year will ensure that the second season is going to be even bigger. This year the league will start with defending champions Jaipur Pink Panthers taking on runners-up finalists U Mumba on today the 18th July 2015, at the National Sports Club of India (NSCI) in Mumbai. "The wait after almost a year is over. We, the players, could not wait to step on the mat. We have missed it like anything. Fans have been waiting for a long time for the season to start and what better way to start than having the two best teams from last season. That said, we need this excitement for our home stretch. It's a crucial period and we're looking for the maximum number of points. We came so close last season and with the final once again being held in Mumbai, we owe the fans the trophy," said Jeeva Kumar, defender and left cover of U Mumba. "At the start of last season, none of the eight teams had any idea how the league would pan out, who would advance the furthest, etc. It's only after our campaign ended, in this case we won the inaugural season, that we realised our true potential. That said, we have set newer and higher goals. We want to retain our title. Doing it once is easy. Doing it a second time is tougher. But we are taking one game at a time. The planning is short term. Being the defending champions has made us work harder at the practice sessions as we know the rival teams have improved and will be coming for us," said Gautam, a triple gold medallist at the Asian Games (2006, 2010, 2014). By Premji
French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi aged 25 has died of critical head injuries sustained at last year's Japanese Grand Prix. Bianchi was in coma since the accident at Suzuka last October. He expired at a hospital in Nice, near his parents' home in the south of France. Bianchi, 25, was in coma since the October 5 accident, in which he collided at high speed with a mobile crane which was being used to pick up another crashed car."Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end," said the Bianchi family. "The pain we feel is immense and indescribable." "We are devastated to lose Jules after such a hard-fought battle," his Manor F1 team Tweeted. "It was a privilege to have him race for our team." "Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world," the family statement said. "We would like to ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time, while we try to come to terms with the loss of Jules." We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice's CHU who looked after him with love and dedication," the family statement said. "We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months. Furthermore, we thank Jules' colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times." "It's hard to get up in the morning while telling yourself that you're not sure whether your son is going to live and every day is like that," Bianchi's father, Philippe, said. By Premji
The Supreme Court appointed Justice Lodha Committee has rendered its verdict and announced the quantum of punishment for Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra and their respective Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises for the spot fixing and betting scandal that rocked the Twenty20 tournament in 2013. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team official Meiyappan and Rajasthan Royals co-owner Kundra were found guilty of betting in the 2013 edition of the Twenty20 cricket tournament. The Committee has decided the following: 1. Gurunath Meiyappan is declared not eligible for participation in the sport of cricket for a maximum period of five years.2. He is suspended for life from any cricket matches3. Raj Kundra has brought the game into disrepute.4. He is ineligible for the participation in the sport of cricket for the maximum period of five years5. He is suspended for life from cricket activities6. He is suspended for life from being involved with the BCCI in any type of cricket matches.7. Chennai Super Kings suspended for a period of Two Years! 8. Rajastan Royals is also suspended from the IPL for two years. By Premji
Leander Paes of India has won the mixed-doubles title at Wimbledon along with Martina Hingis to give him 16 Grand Slam titles in his career, eight in men’s doubles and eight in mixed. Tennis ace Leander Paes is once again at his vintage best as he partnered Martina Hingis to win the Wimbledon mixed doubles title. The pair beat fifth seed Austrian-Hungarian duo of Alexander Peya and Timea Babos 6-1, 6-1 in a match that lasted only 40 minutes. Paes has won Grand Slams with four different male partners, starting with the French Open and Wimbledon with Mahesh Bhupathi in 1999. Success came to him when he partnered with Martin Damm, Lukas Dlouhy and Radek Stepanek. Paes is strongly linked with Bhupathi and Stepanek. Paes had 24 partners in mixed doubles, winning Grand Slam titles with four of them, Lisa Raymond, Martina Navratilova, Cara Black and Martina Hingis.Paes has proven over the years that he has the ability to get along with players from diverse backgrounds and ages. Raymond was 25 when she won Wimbledon with Paes in 1999 and Navratilova was 47 when she and Paes won Wimbledon. Paes has a knack for making his partners feel like a million bucks. Hingis has repeatedly mentioned that she feels invincible on court with Paes by her side. “Leander has been there and done that before. He has given me a lot of confidence and we have a great chemistry,” Hingis said after winning the Australian Open. "Coming out and playing like that on one of the most prestigious courts that we've grown up with and winning a title like that, again for the second time in a Grand Slam without losing a set, that is really special," he said after the Wimbledon crown. Paes said after winning the Australian Open mixed doubles with, “If you know yourself really well and you're honest with yourself about your strengths and more importantly your weaknesses, then you choose a partner whose strengths are your weaknesses.” By Premji
After IPL, India has seen ISL or Indian Super League for Football became a crowd puller to its core. The first season saw that the people who loves football has received it with both hands. Now for the second season, auction of the players is being done. Indian national football captain Sunil Chhetri was the biggest earner at the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL) auction in Mumbai, who is sold to Mumbai City FC for Rs 1.20 crore. Central midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, had become the ISL's first millionaire when he was purchased by Pune FC for 1.5 crore from a base price of Rs 27 Lakh. These two names, were the only players to attract bids in excess of a crore. Rino Anto, is sold to defending ISL champions Atletico de Kolkata for Rs 90 lakh, who was India’s defender, from a starting price of just 17 lakh. Chhetri, 30, is a four-time AIFF Player of the Year and India's leading goal scorer, who had a base price of Rs 80 lakh. Pune midfielder Anas Edathodika went to Delhi Dynamos FC for Rs 41 lakh, Jackichand Singh went to Pune FC for 45 lakh from a base price of 20 lakh and Thoi Singh for 86 lakh to Chennaiyin FC. Atletico de Kolkata and North East United went hard for Japanese born Pune midfielder Arata Izumi, who was sold to the defending champions for 68 lakh, from his base price of 40 lakh. "We really wanted him, so we're very happy," said a team owner. Salgaocar goalkeeper Karanjit Singh was purchased for his base price of 60 lakh - the second highest after Chhetri - by Chennaiyin FC. The last player sold at the auction was Seityasen Singh, a winger for Royal Wahingdoh, for 56 lakh to North East United. By Premji
In yet another tragic incident, a young cricketer, Bavalan Pathmanathan, died on Sunday after being hit on chest by a ball in Long Ditton. The 24-year-old was hit by the ball when he was batting for Hersham-based Manipay Parish Sports Club at Long Ditton Recreation Ground during a division three match of the British Tamils Cricket League (BTCL). Immediately after the incident an ambulance, two cars, along with another air ambulance reached to the scene to assist him. Pathmanathan was treated at the scene and then taken into Kingston Hospital in a serious condition. But the cricketer subsequently passed away with the cause of death believed to be heart failure. Surrey CCC also shared the sadness and shock that the tragic incident has caused, both with within the county’s wider cricketing community and Tamil community cricket family. Surrey CCC Chief Executive Richard Gould said: “Everyone at the club has been deeply saddened to learn of Bavalan’s death and would like to extend their sympathies to his family, friends and everyone who knew him from within the community of cricket.”
* Dhoni turned 34 today. In the eve of his birthday, here are some interesting facts, which many of you may not know: * Dhoni is India’s most successful cricket captain, having led India to 27 test victories and a whopping 163 one-day victories. His win percentage is also unparalleled: 45% in tests and 61% in one-day internationals! * In 2007, it was Sachin Tendulkar, who recommended MS Dhoni’s name for India’s skipper, given Dhoni’s calm nature and friendly equation with the rest of the team. * Dhoni was conferred with the honorary rank of Lt Colonel by the Indian Territorial Army in November 2011. Dhoni has, time and again, iterated that he would like to play some role in the Army in the future. * MSD loves fast bikes. He has 23 of them, and counting! * Dhoni is the only player to win the ICC Player of the Year award, twice! * In 2012, SportsPro rated Dhoni as the sixteenth most marketable athlete in the world. * MSD is a ‘Rajput’ and has roots in Uttarakhand. * Dhoni is a non-vegetarian and loves his chicken! * Mahi’s wife, the beautiful Sakshi Dhoni, is known to carry electrical cookers along every time she accompanies her husband on cricket tours. * Dhoni played as a goalkeeper for his school’s football team, and also dabbled with badminton. * Dhoni made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bihar in the 1999–2000 season as an eighteen-year-old. * Dhoni was contracted by the Chennai Super Kings for 1.5 Million USD. This made him the most expensive player in the IPL for the first season auctions. * Dhoni is the only captain in the ODIs to score a century while batting at number 7. He did it against Pakistan in December 2012. * A biographical film based on the life of Dhoni, titled M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, is set to be released in 2015. The film features Sushant Singh Rajput playing the role of Dhoni. * Only Shahrukh Khan has more brand endorsements than Mahi in his kitty. * MSD has partnered with Telugu filmstar Akkineni Nagarjuna in buying a Supersport World Championship team and named it Mahi Racing Team India. * Having played 90 test matches, Dhoni was only 10 short of a personal milestone of 100 test matches – a feat accomplished only by 10 other Indians. But Dhoni never cared about personal records and never let emotion get in way of his game. He came, he conquered, and he left.
Bangladesh series has once again raised the questions about Team India’s potency and caliber on foreign soil. On the other hand, the series lost against the babies has aggravated Dhoni’s inability to lead the team from the front. "I am really enjoying my cricket... if it is justifiable if you remove me (as captain) and Indian cricket will start doing well, and if I am the reason for all the bad that's happening to Indian cricket, definitely I would love to step away and play as a player," Dhoni said at the press conference in Mirpur after losing his cool. "I am always the one who is responsible for anything bad that happens in Indian cricket. Everything that happens is because of me. Even the Bangladesh media is smiling," he said sarcastically.But many veteran Cricketers backs Dhoni and requests the media and nation to respect him as he is the best till 2016 World T 20. "It is a decision he has to take. Look, you can't take away the achievements from him. He is India's best captain by far. He has done almost everything, be it T20s, ODIs, Champions Trophy or World Cup. He took India to the number one ranking in Tests. So his achievement is manifold," Gavaskar told NDTV. "He deserves respect and recognition for it and it should be up to him whether he feels up for the job, whether he has the enthusiasm. I do not think it would be fair to remove him as captain. It is a decision, which out of sheer respect for the man, should be left to him." Asked if it is beneficial for Indian cricket to still have Dhoni as the ODI skipper, Gavaskar said: "Yes, I think it is beneficial for Indian cricket to have him as captain. He still has a lot to contribute." Vengsarkar also came out in support of Dhoni. "I don't think Dhoni should be replaced. He recently led India to the World Cup semifinals and this series is the first series after that. He should continue as captain," he told PTI. Bedi, known for his forthright views on Indian cricket, did not want to single out Dhoni for the team's debacle in Bangladesh. "I am not blaming an individual; rather it was the team's lethargy that cost India the series. Regarding Dhoni's captaincy issue, I can't say much. Nothing is coming out clear at the moment. See what he spoke to the media was just out of sheer frustration. He was just being sarcastic," he said. "That's part and parcel of being a leader. You are lauded when victorious and criticized in defeat. He has already left the Test captaincy. About ODIs, I don't know. But it's the first time I have seen him ruffled and that's not a good sign anymore," Bedi added.
The second and final leg of India’s tour of Bangladesh 2015 begins with the first One-Day International (ODI) at Dhaka, wherein the teams would clash with a lot at stake. While this series will be a real test of Bangladesh‘s resurgence in the format, a full-strength India will have to watch out for the firepower in their opponents’ ranks as they have the ability to beat the best on their day. The last time these two sides clashed in a 50-over game, protests and anger sparked in Bangladesh over the supposed erroneous decision which went in favour of Rohit Sharma in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-final. Though India ended up thrashing Bangladesh in that match, the memory of that painful loss clearly resides in the memories of their fans. There would certainly be a lot of interest as to how Mashrafe Mortaza’s men handle the might of India. If Bangladesh played out of their skin in the 2015 World Cup, they roared against Pakistan in the series that followed, thereby repaying their ardent fans. A clean sweep (3-0) of a side as strong as Pakistan no more comes under the category of fluke, and Bangladeshi cricketers know they have entered a dominion they cannot wander about carelessly like they did in the past. The young guns in Soumya Sarkar and Taskin Ahmed will surely pose a threat to India, but Bangladesh will rue the fact that their batting mainstay Mahmudullah will miss out on the action. The presence of Mominul Haque in the middle-order should cover the chasm left by Mahmudullah’s unavailability, and if he combines with Mushfiqur in this series to do the bulk of the scoring, India will face a tough challenge. On the other hand, a full-strength India would aim to thwart the Bangladeshi rejuvenation with disdain.
Despite missing out on what would have been his first double century in his 28th Test, Austrlia's Steve Smith has leapfrogged Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka, South Africa duo of AB de Villiers, and Hashim Amla in the latest ICC Test Rankings. It was Smith who stormed the runs from the past 18 months relentlessly. However, Sangakkara will have a chance to reclaim his number-one ranking when he features in the series against Pakistan, which starts in Galle on Wednesday. Steve Waugh spent 94 Tests as number-one -- more than any other Australia batsman -- while Don Bradman spent a record 6,320 days as the top-ranked batsman -- more than anyone else in the history of the game. Smith has gained 49 points from his efforts in Jamaica, which means he has also broken the 900-point barrier for the first time in his career. He now sits on 913 points, which has given him 24th spot on the list of best Test ratings ever. In the Rankings for Test bowlers, Australia fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have also achieved career-best rankings to date. Starc has moved up four places to 21st after match figures of four for 84, while Hazlewood has also gained four places following match figures of seven for 56 and is now in 27th spot.
Indian Opener Shikhar Dhawan hits a brilliant unbeaten 150 off 158 balls while another opener Murali Vijay is playing with 89 as India ended up up by 239 runs without loss on a rain curtailed first day of the one-off Test against Bangladesh at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah on Wednesday. Indian Captain Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first. India took five specialist batsmen in the final list. This was Shikhar Dhawan’s Third century in Test Career and first century after 15 long innings. His memorable comeback has put a stop for his critics for a while and stopped selectors worrying about his form. The left-handed opener was dropped for the last Test match in Sydney. The Dhawan-Vijay duo helped India to put a huge total on board. This is Indian’s highest ever opening stand against Bangladesh in Test Cricket. Dhawan and Vijay resumed the Indian first innings at 107/0 after rain relented in the third session. Since the beginning of the play, India was able to maintain a healthy run rate. Dhawan in particular was immense in finding the gaps with ease. On the other hand, Muurali Vijay reached his 11th half-century off 98 balls with a boundary to third man.
"The days of learning are long over and my cricket team would be solely focused on delivering results," said India's new Test captain Virat Kohli, while addressing a pre-departure conference here on Sunday ahead of the tour of Bangladesh. "We have learnt a lot, I don't think we need to play with a mindset of playing to learn. Obviously, we learn about the game all the time, even when we are watching it on TV. But we have played long enough now, we know what we want to achieve as a unit. So, we really want to achieve rather than go out of a match thinking what we have learnt from it," Kohli said when asked about his expectations from the team. Kohli said fitness is a prime concern to ensure that his side keeps a steady look. "The team is looking in good shape. We conducted a fitness test yesterday because we feel that fitness is one area where we need to strengthen," he said. "Everyone is really excited for a fresh beginning. I am certainly excited about leading the team," he added. India will play a lone test match with Bangladesh from June 10 followed by One Day Internationals. "I have captained teams before. At a certain level, you learn while doing the job. Tests are a difficult ball game compared to one-day internationals or Twenty20 matches because you have to strategize for a whole day in one go," he said. "I have learnt a lot while captaining in Australia. The team's skills are good and I am looking to continue with the consistency. It's all about how you improve on your mistakes," he added referring to his stint Down Under when he took over captaincy after the shock retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the format.