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Indian women aim for maiden World T20 crown

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Providence (Guyana) | A young Indian squad will aim to emerge from the shadows of a winless past when it launches its bid for a maiden title with a tough opener against New Zealand in the first standalone Women’s World T20 starting here Friday.

India have not been very competitive in the shortest format compared to the 50-over game in which they scripted a path-breaking moment last year when they reached the World Cup final.  In the end, nerves got the better of them and they lost the title clash to England after being in complete control at one stage.

Captain Harmanpreet Kaur and recently-appointed coach Ramesh Powar insist that the team has learnt from that final loss and the presence of youngsters, including six World Cup debutants, makes the squad “fearless”.

India have never won the World T20 in their previous five attempts with their best result, a semifinal appearance, coming in 2009 and 2010. This is the first stand-alone World T20 for women after being held alongside the men’s event in the past editions.

In the lead-up to the World T20, India have hit good form, beating hosts Sri Lanka before blanking Australia A at home. What should give them additional confidence going into the opener is the wins against reigning champions West Indies and England in the warm-up matches.

Opener Smriti Mandhana, on whom India will be relying heavily in the Caribbean, said the Asia Cup T20 final loss to Bangladesh in June was a timely wake-up call. “After the setback in the Asia Cup, everyone went back and worked hard. You can see everyone is up to the mark where you need to be at the international standard,” said Mandhana, who is also the vice-captain. “The Sri Lanka series has been really good. For me personally, I didn’t get really good scores, but one match, Harmanpreet and I didn’t score a single run and we got 170. That was brilliant. “The bowlers too have improved massively in last three months, they are clear with their plans. And fielding wise, we are 10 percent better than in the last World Cup,” added Mandhana, who will open alongside veteran Mithali Raj.

While Mandhana’s performance will be crucial at the top, teenager Jemimah Rodriguez, Tanya Bhatia and Harmanpreet will make up the middle order.  The spin department, led by leggie Poonam Yadav, is India’s strength while the pace department lacks experience after the retirement of veteran Jhulan Goswami.

India have failed to go past the group stage in the previous three editions and they will have to play well consistently to advance to the knock-outs. After the opener against New Zealand, India will face Pakistan on November 11, Ireland on November 15 and three-time champions Australia on November 17. Coach Powar, a former India off-spinner, has high expectations from his team.

“They know that if we grow as individuals, the team grows, the Indian women’s cricket grows, and people will start noticing the game in India and around the world,” Powar told the ICC’s official website. “When you enter such tournaments, you have to break records, get noticed as an individual and team also, so I’m looking forward to that,” he added.

India squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Taniya Bhatia (wk), Ekta Bisht, Dayalan Hemalatha, Mansi Joshi, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Anuja Patil, Mithali Raj, Arundathi Reddy, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar, Radha Yadav, Poonam Yadav.

New Zealand squad: Amy Satterthwaite (c), Suzie Bates, Bernadine Bezuidenhout (wk), Sophie Devine, Kate Ebrahim, Maddy Green, Holly Huddleston, Hayley Jensen, Leigh Kasperek, Amelia Kerr, Katey Martin, Anna Peterson, Harriet Rowe, Lea Tahuhu, Jess Watkin.

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Let Pandya, Rahul play while inquiry is on: BCCI president urges CoA

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New Delhi | BCCI acting President C K Khanna on Saturday urged the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to lift the suspension on Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul for their much-criticised sexist remarks and refused to convene a Special General Meeting on the matter.

Khanna said calling the SGM to appoint an ombudsman to investigate the two players’ conduct, as demanded by Board officials, wouldn’t be right as the Supreme Court is due to take up the issue next week. Pandya and Rahul have been suspended pending an inquiry for their sexist comments on a TV chat show.

“They made a mistake, and they have already been suspended and called back from the series against Australia. They have also submitted an unconditional apology,” Khanna write in a letter to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) running the BCCI. “I suggest that pending inquiry we reinstate both the cricketers into the Indian squad immediately and allow them to join the team in New Zealand at the earliest,” he added.

The CoA wants the Supreme Court to appoint an ombudsman to decide the fate of the two players, who have already missed the ODI series against Australia and are set to sit out of the tour of New Zealand as well. They have also been thoroughly lambasted for their comments on hooking up with multiple women and joking about it on the show. Around 14 state units, mainly former BCCI president N Srinivasan’s loalists, had requested Khanna to convene an emergent SGM, which needs to be called in 10 days.

BCCI Treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry also wrote to Khanna requesting for an early SGM, so that board members can take a call on the appointment of ombudsman. “As per constitution of the BCCI, an ombudsman can be appointed at the Annual General Meeting (AGM). And moreover the matter (appointment of ombudsman) is already sub-judice,” Khanna replied to Chaudhry. Khanna also sought BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary’s view.

“Why would Khanna or Amitabh sign the notice for convening Special General Meeting when the matter is in Supreme Court. There would be a risk of Contempt of Court,” a senior BCCI official privy to the development told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

However, the official agreed that CoA chief Vinod Rai should have vetoed co-member Diana Edulji’s demand for provisional suspension and taken a call on quantum of suspension for the two suspended cricketers. “As per protocol, Mr Rai sought Diana’s suggestion but he could easily overrule her view of getting a legal opinion, which started this mess. He (Rai) could have easily done what he did in the women’s coach selection case,” the official observed.

The acting president urged the CoA and BCCI office-bearers to resolve the matter as soon as possible. “What Mr. Hardik Pandya said and Mr. K.L. Rahul acted as a by-stander to is inappropriate and absolutely wrong, but in my personal opinion, to treat them like lawbreakers is wrong too,” he wrote.

“Both these cricketers need game time before the World Cup which starts in four months time. We should give these growing cricketers chance to correct themselves morally,” he signed off.

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Women get lot of respect in other countries, but people don’t practise what they preach in India: PV Sindhu

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PV Sindhu

Hyderabad | Ace shuttler P V Sindhu on Friday noted that a lot of respect was given to women in foreign countries, but, in India, people do not practise what they preach.

Speaking at an event titled ‘SH(OUT) – Sexual Harassment Out: We are listening’, organised by the Hyderabad Police here, Sindhu said, “I feel really happy that there is lot of respect towards women in other countries, while in India, people actually tell us that we should respect women, but I think there are very rare people who actually practise it… who actually do it (respect). It’s just that they only say it and they don’t practise it.”

“I want to say and wish that everybody should respect others and especially women,” she said adding “women have to be strong and we have to believe ourselves as a woman we can do anything”.

Women who face sexual harassment, be it physical or mental harassment, should come forward and should not be ashamed of it, and they should talk about and speak about it, Sindhu stressed.

She said the #MeToo movement had brought lot of awareness about sexual harassment of women at workplace, adding that this movement educated both women and also men about the responsibilities towards the society.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner Anjani Kumar said that the vision of the initiative is to spread awareness across working women in all sectors on what amounts to sexual harassment and what measures are required to be taken for its prevention.

During the symposium, various provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013, were explained to the delegates with specific inputs on role and responsibilities of the organisations; constitution and functions of internal complaints committee; and reporting and redressal mechanism for women employees.

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No one is more committed to Indian cricket than Dhoni: Kohli

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Melbourne | “No one is more committed to Indian cricket” than Mahendra Singh Dhoni and batting at number five is the ideal spot for him, said Virat Kohli in stout defense of the former captain.

Dhoni faced criticism for slow batting in the ODI series-opener in Sydney before redeeming his pride and reputation with match-winning contributions in the Adelaide and Melbourne ODIs.

Acknowledging Dhoni’s contribution in the historic series-triumph in Australia, Kohli defended the former captain, saying he should be allowed breathing space.

“I think firstly as a team we are very happy for Dhoni. That he is amongst the runs, because it is very important to get runs under your belt to get that rhythm and get that confidence back. Especially when you have not been playing so much international cricket,” said the India captain at the post-match press conference.

“Many things happen on the outside. People say a lot of things but as an individual we know that there is no one more committed to Indian cricket than Dhoni and people should let him have his space because he has contributed so much for the nation.

“They should let him figure out things on his own and what he needs to do. He is one of the most intelligent cricketers and he is not someone who is not aware about what needs to be done. As a team we are totally in sync with what he is doing and we are all very happy for him,” said Kohli.

The skipper also reckons that the just-concluded Australia series has proved that number five is the most logical spot for Dhoni.

“Dhoni batted at number four in 2016 for a while. But after that he has been pretty happy playing at five and six for the team. We felt that number five was the ideal position for him. And if you saw him bat at Adelaide as well he was pretty comfortable in that position because that allows him to do a bit of both – get some game time as well as finish games off, attacking as and when required,” Kohli said.

Dhoni, batting at number four, played a crucial role in India winning the decisive third ODI with his unbeaten 87-run knock on Friday and at Adelaide too his unbeaten half-century had scripted India’s win.

“He was more himself from that game (Adelaide) on, and he built onto this knock today. We are pretty happy with the batting combination that we had in Adelaide. When someone like Hardik Pandya is not there you have to balance somehow. So a lot of things vary in that regard. But we as a team, and myself as captain, we feel that Dhoni at five is the most logical. It is the ideal place for him and the team as well,” Kohli said.

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