A Gold Worth Its Wait
- LUCKNOW : It took 15 years coming, but when it did, the Junior Hockey World Cup gold turned a satisfying year for Indian hockey into a memorable one. Never before in the history of hockey had India won a Champions Trophy silver and a Junior World Cup in the same year. It's no mean feat in a sport that has often relied on its 20th century chronicles to win the support of people. The story behind this golden success, in particular, must act as a catalyst and not be allowed to become another flash in the pan. Behind this script are multiple actors and factors that proved to be the pivots on which India turned it around to reclaim the throne in the City of Nawabs.
- When you come to know that captain Harjeet Singh's father, who is a truck driver by profession, was away on duty in Maharashtra while his son lifted the trophy, the many unknown facets of this team come to the fore. Harendra's masterplan Harendra Singh was given the charge of India juniors -a pool of 42 players -in 2014. It was then that he drafted his Mission 2016. The seriousness of Harendra's approach towards pruning this team to 18 could be seen in the minutest of details he went into - like creating a Whatsapp group titled 'Mission 2016', drafting a team slogan, handing out a print to every player and listing 31 words starting with letter 'C' to counter any situation on or off the pitch. The world 'champion' was added to the list on Sunday to make it 32.
- The Boys in Blue kept crossing milestones - 2015 Junior Asia Cup and the four-nations trophy in Valencia in 2016 -before accomplishing final mission. Surjit Hockey Academy The role of Surjit Hockey Academy in India's WC success is huge, as 10 of the 18 players are from the famous hockey nursery in Jalandhar. Harjeet, Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Simranpreet Singh, Krishan Pathak, Hardik Singh, Gurinder Singh, Vikramjeet Singh and Parvinder Singh are all products of the academy. Include Gurjant Singh, who shifted from Surjit Academy to the Punjab Institute of Sports, and you have an entire team coming from a single academy .In fact, most of the boys in the above list have been together since schooldays, having played together for more than 10 years, including now for the national team. That explains the coordination of this team.
AIBA Grants Full Membership To Boxing Federation Of India
- NEW DELHI : India's return to the international boxing fold was complete today with the AIBA unanimously granting full membership to the recently-formed Boxing Federation of India (BFI) at a meeting on the sidelines of its 70th anniversary gala in Montreux, Switzerland. The BFI was voted to office in September earlier this year, ending four years of administrative logjam in the sport. "AIBA has voted unanimously to grant full membership to India," BFI President Ajay Singh, who is currently in Montreux to take part in the AIBA event, told PTI.
- The BFI has already been granted affiliation by the Sports Ministry but is awaiting recognition from the Indian Olympic Association, which has referred the matter to an affiliation committee. Indian boxing was thrown into disarray back in 2012 when the erstwhile Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) was first suspended and later terminated for "possible manipulation in elections". IABF paved the way for Boxing India in 2014 but the body could not run the show for even one year and lost a no confidence motion moved by disgruntled state units in 2015.
- After another year of wrangling, BFI took shape in September following elections conducted in the presence of observers from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) and the Sports Ministry. Since being voted in, the BFI has conducted the National Championships for both men and women and will be holding the Nationals for youth boxers next month. India's international suspension for the past four years had resulted in the isolation of the country's boxers, who were deprived of foreign exposure for most part.
- The lack of competitive boxing was a major factor in the boxers' medal-less Olympic campaign in Rio after only three made the cut, a sharp decline from the eight who participated in the 2012 edition. But with AIBA formally recognising the new federation, the opportunities in international training-cum-competition events are set to increase for Indian boxers.
Anand Joint Third In London Chess Classic
- LONDON : Viswanathan Anand played out a draw with long-time rival Vladimir Kramnik of Russia to end the London Chess Classic with a shared third result after the end of the ninth and final round here. The highlights of Anand's campaign were the innovative ideas he displayed, while the lone low point was the defeat against Hikaru Nakamura in the third round. Anand remained the biggest star if the fan following was anything to go by. Wesley So of the United States expectedly won the tournament with an easy draw with white pieces against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France in the final round.
- The Filipino turned American ended up with six points out of a possible nine and remained a half point ahead of second placed compatriot Fabiano Caruana who also played a draw with Anish Giri of Holland. Anand, Hikaru Nakamura of the United States and Kramnik tied for the third spot on five points apiece and it's almost a certainty now that the Indian ace will get a call back for the next year of the Grand Chess tour which will have a new event added to the existing four. Wesley So couldn't have wished for a better first appearance in London. His phenomenal debut brought him both the tournament victory worth $75,000 and, more importantly, a win in the Grand Chess Tour worth $100,000.
- "This is definitely my best achievement ever," So said. Anand was all praise for the new star in world chess. "I guess the word that comes to my mind is effortless," he said, adding, "It really looks effortless. He doesn't even seem to be trying very hard. He's been undefeated for so long. I'm very impressed by how easy he makes it seem." Anand played white and opened with the queen pawn that did not give him many chances as Kramnik was well armed. The result was a quick draw when Anand decided there was not much left to play for. The Indian was in fine fettle throughout the tournament and has every chance to be among the top eight that gives a chance to make to next world championship.
- "I'm definitely going to play in the World Cup, that's my main chance to qualify for the Candidates'. In the mean time, I'm very excited to be in the Tour so definitely my ambitions are quite high. I'm going to play a lot of chess, and I'm going to enjoy it as well," said Anand on his plans for the future. Results final round: V Anand (Ind, 5) drew with Vladimir Kramnik (Rus, 5); Wesley So (Usa, 6) drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Fra, 4); Levon Aronian (Arm, 4) lost to Veselin Topalov (Bul, 2); Anish Giri (Ned, 4.5) drew with Fabiano Caruana (Usa, 5.5); Hikaru Nakamura (Usa, 5) drew with Michale Adams (Eng, 4).
Ravindra Jadeja, Karun Nair Star In India's Record Win
- Ravindra Jadeja could do no wrong on the fifth and final day at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai as India registered their ninth Test win of the year, also extending their unbeaten streak to a team record of 18. England's batsmen gift-wrapped wickets before heading for their Christmas break, losing all 10 in just two sessions and collapsing to a defeat by an innings and 75 runs, on Tuesday (December 20). The last day began with just one team having a realistic chance of winning the game. England were trailing by another 270 but had all 10 wickets in hand. India had a minimum of 90 overs to get the wickets they needed to make the scoreline 4-0.
- The pitch though, that saw a triple hundred being scored on day 4, wasn't deteriorating enough for the batsmen to be worried. What England would have been wary of was the pressure of the last day, the last day of a long, five-Test series when they were already, probably, thinking of the flight back home. None of that though showed in the first session where the under-pressure Alastair Cook and youngster Keaton Jennings batted through with steadfast determination. India did create chances - Cook was dropped early in the day by Parthiv Patel off Ravichandaran Ashwin and Jennings was put down by Lokesh Rahul, at short leg, off Amit Mishra - and a few edges didn't go to hand but it was England's session through and through as they went into Lunch at 97 without loss.
- Both batsmen were nearing their fifties by the break and it would have done the captain a world of good, with questions increasing on his position in the team. But when he was one short of it, Cook was taken out yet again by Jadeja. Through the series, Cook has had problems with saving his pads against Jadeja's quick turn in. Today he missed a similar one but Jadeja couldn't get him, even with DRS, with the ball-tracker reckoning that it was missing leg. Soon after though, with a delivery that was going further way down the legside, Jadeja had Cook caught at leg slip thanks to a sharp catch by Rahul. An innocuous ball to signal a sorry tour overall for the England captain. England still had a minimum of 55.2 overs to bat out when their captain departed but this was to be the beginning of the Jadeja magic. Jennings, at the other end, looked more in control and got to his second fifty-plus score in Tests but couldn't take it forward. It was Jadeja once again, who gave India a breakthrough, drawing Jennings but doing him over with the length to take a simple return catch. By now, India were still chasing an outside chance for victory, but were buoyed by two quick wickets.
- Moeen Ali, whose short-ball woes were exposed despite a fine 146 in the first innings, was targeted at will by Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma. But the wickets kept falling at the other end and it was Jadeja at the forefront once again. First he had Joe Root LBW on the sweep, with the help of DRS. India were reluctant to take it first but once again Virat Kohli went on the side of hope. Replays confirmed that Root was struck very full, with no edge, and with the ball going on to hit the stumps cleanly.Jadeja had his third, and possibly, the biggest wicket of the innings. The session got better when Ishant, producing an energetic spell in the Chennai heat, got Jonny Bairstow hopping first with good short balls and then had him get a big leading edge over mid-wicket. Jadeja was in the thick of the action once again, sprinting back to take a stunning catch that gave India their fourth wicket of the session. England had lost four men in the space of 26 runs and their target of batting out 42.4 overs more still seemed a fair bit away.
- By now India were sensing a chance to go for the kill. Ashwin was leading the crowd on with claps as Kohli rotated his fast bowlers from one end, an end from which the bouncers were getting more purchase. But despite a couple of edges both Moeen and Ben Stokes managed to take England to Tea with six wickets still in hand. England needed these two to see off a major part of the last session as well with the jitters now creeping in. From there on, it couldn't have gone any more wrong for England and any better for Jadeja. He first had Moeen, dancing down the track, deceived in length and spooning a simple catch to mid-on. Stokes was got with the dip in his very next over, getting an inside edge to short mid-wicket. At 193 for 6, England were already on a rapid spiral down. It got only worse as Mishra joined the act, spinning a googly through Liam Dawson's defence.
- By now, the sizable crowd was getting behind the bowler for every ball, and reacting with gasps of dismay when the batsmen were middling it. India too were expecting a wicket every ball. In a bid for more, Kohli brought in Umesh Yadav who was also given the new ball mid-over. The first delivery with new cherry struck gold as Adil Rashid got a leading edge to cover where, who else but Jadeja, again, took a sitter. India's quick over-rate now allowed them to possibly bowl more overs than specified before close of play to get the two remaining wickets. But they had their go-to man once again wrapping it up in quick time. Jadeja picked up the last two wickets in the space of four balls finishing with his career-best 7 for 48.