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Indian hockey team held to 2-2 draw by sloppy Pakistan

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Gold Coast :All the excitement came down to the last seven seconds as the Indian hockey team’s perennial problem of conceding late goals left them with a disappointing 2-2 draw against a sloppy Pakistan in its Commonwealth Games opener here on Saturday.
A penalty corner earned in the last seven seconds, thought to be saved when taken, reinstated after an appeal by Pakistan, proved to be India’s undoing in what was a lacklustre clash for most part but for P Sreejesh’s brilliant saves.
Dilpreet Singh (13th minute), Harmanpreet Singh (19th minute) put India ahead before Mohammed Irfan Junior (38th minute) and Mubashar Ali (59th minute) drew parity and helped their team claim the moral victory.
“We were not happy with the performance. We wanted to win this game. We are disappointed with the result,” said a frustrated Indian defender Rupinder Pal Singh after the match.
However, he refused to blame it on the nerves of playing against the arch-rivals.
“It’s not special, we are playing a game. We were not emotional, just focusing on our strengths,” he said.
It was touted as the blockbuster clash of the preliminary stage and the turnout, at least, lived up to the hype. The diaspora of both the countries was out in good numbers. But adding to the fervour were the Australian fans, who showed up to just soak in the excitement of an Indo-Pak clash.
Not to forget the beat of the dhol, that usually amplifies the sloganeering, was also there adding to the atmosphere.
On the field, India dominated quite clearly despite being a bit sloppy themselves. Forward Dilpreet opened the scoring in the first quarter, helping the last edition silver-medallists end the first 15 minutes with a 1-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Harmanpreet Singh converted the second of the two penalty corner chances he got to put India in control.
Pakistan managed to earn a couple of penalty corners of their own but veteran Sreejesh guarded his citadel with the kind of elan that has made him a legend.
The Indians were clearly the superior outfit as far as controlling the ball was concerned, hoodwinking their rivals quite comfortably.
A weak penalty corner shot taken by Rupinder that was easily deflected by Pakistan goalkeeper Imran Butt started the slight change in momentum.
The competitive edge missing from their game in the first half, the Pakistani team was pulled back into the game by forward Mohammed Irfan Junior, who scored a field goal to narrow the gap between the two sides.
The goal was initially in the name of Muhammad Arslan Qadir but Irfan Junior’s faint touch was discovered during replays, prompting a revised credit.
Pakistan turned on the intensity in the final 15 minutes and were rewarded with three back-to-back penalty corners. But they just could not slot the all-important equaliser, denied by a solid Sreejesh and their own poor shots at the goal.
Mandeep Singh then had the chance to increase India’s lead in the dying minutes of the match but his shot was deflected.
With seven seconds left on the clock, Pakistan earned a penalty corner, causing some anxiety in the Indian camp, and the old fears turned out to be true.
The Indians ended up conceding the dreaded goal to let slip what should have been a comfortable win.


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UEFA probe Ronaldo for ‘improper conduct’ over goal celebration

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London : UEFA opened an investigation into Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal celebration after scoring a hat-trick in Juventus’ Champions League comeback win against Atletico Madrid last week.
European football’s governing body said Ronaldo was facing charges of “improper conduct” after he mimicked Diego Simeone’s crotch-grabbing gesture in last Tuesday’s 3-0 win that sent Juventus through 3-2 on aggregate.
After scoring the decisive penalty four minutes from time, Ronaldo turned towards the Atletico fans and replicated Simeone’s gesture after the Spaniards’ 2-0 first leg win by grasping his genitals and thrusting out his groin.
A decision will be taken by UEFA on March 21.
Juventus take on Dutch club Ajax in the Champions League quarter-finals over two legs, on April 10 in Amsterdam and April 16 in Turin.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri has said he is confident Ronaldo will not be fined or suspended.
“I think everyone celebrated their own way on the field and in the stands.
I saw nothing strange, just a celebration. There won’t be a ban,” said Allegri.
Simeone was fined 20,000 euros ($22,000) by UEFA for his gesture.
“He will have seen how I did it at the Wanda Metropolitano and, like me, was trying to show his character,” said the Argentinian coach.
Five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo is the record goal scorer in the European competition with 124 goals in 160 matches.

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Sachin echoes Virat Kohli’s workload views

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New Delhi: There cannot be a uniform structure for workload management during the Indian Premier League as each and every player will have different set of requirements, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar said .
There have been a lot of discussions about how the World Cup-bound players need to effectively manage their workload during a demanding tournament like the IPL, and the maestro has his own take on it.
“Preparation before the World Cup is different for each player and so their workload management will also be different,” Tendulkar said.
Tendulkar agreed with skipper Virat Kohli who recently said that it is up to the players to realise the kind of load they are taking as well as the form they are in. “To me, momentum is important. Every individual should be smart enough to assess if he needs to take a break or he needs to play games to stay in the thick of things. So the responsibility is on the individual to take a call,” said the world’s highest run-getter in Tests and One-day Internationals.
He then gave an example of how workload management will be different for different players. “As a pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s workload will be very different from a pure batsman like Virat Kohli and a wicket-keeper batsman like Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All these players have a lot of experience and they will certainly make the right call,” said Tendulkar, who is a mentor with IPL’s most popular franchise Mumbai Indians.
Tendulkar echoed what Kohli had said a couple of days earlier during a media interaction in Bengaluru. “If I’m able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest,” the Indian skipper had said.
“Someone else’s body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing. And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don’t want to miss out on such a big event.”
Kohli had said that it is up to individual players to deal with the issue to keep their body fit and be in contention for a place in the World Cup-bound squad. “From a responsibility point of view, all the Indian players will have the responsibility during the IPL to keep a watch on their fitness and their workloads,” he said.
“And to continue the frame of mind we have created in the Indian team – strive towards excellence and improve every day. Each player will take this tournament as an opportunity to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind,” he said.

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Kerala Blasters sign Rahul KP

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Mumbai : Kerala Blasters have wrapped up a deal to bring Indian Arrows forward Rahul Kannoly Praveen on board for the 2019-20 season, Goal has learnt.
The 19-year-old forward has become the fifth former India U-17 player to be roped in by Blasters after Dheeraj Singh, Mohammad Rakip, Nongdamba Naorem and Jeakson Singh.
Thrissur-born Rahul featured for Luis Norton de Matos’ Indian team in the U-17 World Cup held in India. He continued his development with AIFF’s Indian Arrows in the I-League and impressed in patches last season, scoring two goals in 17 appearances.
He has stepped up his game at Arrows this season under Floyd Pinto and contributed greatly to the team’s eighth-placed finish under the Indian head coach. He has three goals to his name this season.
Blessed with pace and dazzling feet, Rahul is good at taking on his opponent from wide areas and also has an eye for a pass. He was impressive against Gokulam Kerala and scored a terrific volley in the I-League match at Kozhikode earlier this season. He also featured in the Super Cup qualifier against Kerala Blasters as Indian Arrows won 2-0.
In what seems like a much-needed move after a disapponting season in the ISL, Kerala Blasters, under the new leadership of CEO Viren D’Silva, are off to a good start off the field and have added a promising local talent to the squad.

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