New Delhi: Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu were jointly recommended for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, while star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was among 20 sportspersons picked for the Arjuna Awards.
Besides Chopra, other prominent names recommended for the Arjuna Awards were junior world champion sprinter Hima Das and Asian Games gold-medallist middle distance runner Jinson Johnson, cricketer Smriti Mandhana, hockey players Manpreet Singh and Savita Punia, multiple Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Manika Batra and Asian Games doubles gold-medallist tennis player Rohan Bopanna.
These recommendations are subject to approval by Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Once ratified by him, President Ram Nath Kovind will present the awards on September 25 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Kohli will become the third Indian cricketer after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and the talismanic former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (2007) once the sports ministry officially accepts the committee’s recommendation.
“Yes, Virat Kohli and Mirabai Chanu’s names have been recommended by the awards committee,” a top source said on condition of anonymity.
It is learnt that India’s top male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth was also in Khel Ratna contention for his good show in the Super Series Circuit last year but lost out to the 24-year-old Chanu, who is the reigning world champion in the 48kg category.
Asian Games gold-medallist boxer Amit Panghal was discussed but the committee decided against against recommending him due to a failed dope test back in 2012, a source said.
Former Asian Games bronze-medallist and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar was the lone boxer to get the Arjuna honour this year.
Three shooters — Rahi Sarnobat, Ankur Mittal and Shreyasi Singh — also figured in list of 20 recommended sportspersons while there were two from para-sports — Ankur Dhama and Manoj Sarkar.
This year’s award ceremony was postponed to September 25 from the usual August 19 National Sports Day event due to clash of dates with the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia.
The Khel Ratna awardees are entitled to a cash prize of `7.5 lakh, while the Arjuna winners are given `5 lakh.
Kohli, the world’s No.1 Test batsman as per the ICC rankings, has been in stupendous form for the past three years and missed out despite nominations in the years 2016 and 2017.
The BCCI has been nominating Kohli for the Khel Ratna for the past three years but in 2016, it was given to Sakshi Malik, P. V. Sindhu and Deepa Karmakar for their good show at the Rio Olympic Games.
Pakistan announce 15-man squad for World Cup, no place for Amir
LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan on Thursday announced their Squad for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Pakistan Squad ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 include:
- Fakhar Zaman
- Imam Ul Haq
- Abid Ali
- Babar Azam
- Shoaib Malik
- Mohammad Hafeez
- Haris Sohail
- Sarfaraz Ahmed (Captain & Wicket Keeper)
- Shadab Khan
- Imad Wasim
- Hassan Ali
- Faheem Ashraf
- Junaid Khan
- Shaheen Shah Afridi
- Mohammad Hasnain
The Chief Selector Inzamam Ul Haq also announced Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif for the five-match Series against England.
The 10-nation ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 will be held in England from May 30 to July 14.
However prior to that, Pakistan would play one T20 International (T20I) at Cardiff on May 5 and five One Day Internationals (ODIs) against England.
The first match of five-match ODI Series between Pakistan and England will take place at London on May 8, second at Southampton on May 11, third at Bristol on May 14, fourth at Nottingham on May 17, and fifth at Leeds on May 19.
In the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Pakistan will play their matches as following schedules;
- On May 24 against Afghanistan at Bristol
- On May 26 against Bangladesh at Cardiff
World Cup Matches:
- On May 31 against West Indies at Nottingham
- On June 3 against England at Nottingham
- On June 7 against Sri Lanka at Bristol
- On June 12 against Australia at Taunton
- On June 16 against India at Manchester
- On June 23 against South Africa at London
- On June 26 against New Zealand at Birmingham
- On June 29 against Afghanistan at Leeds
- On July 5 against Bangladesh at London
Finch expects ‘no issues’ with Smith, Warner’s return
London: Australian skipper Aaron Finch has welcomed the return of Steve Smith and David Warner into the national squad, saying that the duo’s comeback would not be of any issues to the team.
Former skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner are all set to make a return to the international arena after being named in the 15-member Australian squad for the 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, which is slated to take place in England and Wales from May 30 to July 14.
Smith and Warner are currently playing for Rajasthan and Hyderabad respectively in the Indian Premier League (IPL) after serving their one-year bans for their role in the ball-tampering scandal that took place in South Africa in March 2018.
Reflecting on their return, Finch said that the pair had done everything they were asked for in the last couple of months and, therefore, there would be no problem with Smith and Warner coming into the side.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done everything they’ve been asked in this last 12 months. They were very good around the group and continuing to do everything they can, that’s in the best interests of the side, and that’s a real key,” the ICC quoted Finch as saying.
“Knowing them both personally as well as I do, I don’t think that will be any kind of issue whatsoever. They’re both great guys and I can’t see there being any kinds of issues,” he added.
Echoing similar views, chief selector Trevor Hohns said that the duo’s reintegration into the team would be seamless.
“I’m quite comfortable and quite confident that they know what is expected and they know the environment they are stepping into, which is quite different to when they left,” he said.
Hohns further expressed confidence that Smith and Warner would cope well with the potential backlashing from English crowds.
“Probably going to England there will certainly be a little bit of aggro.I’m sure everyone expects that, particularly the two players themselves. The team will come in for a bit of heckling I would say,” he said.
Australia will kickstart their campaign at the 2019 ICC World Cup against Afghanistan on June 1.
Ajax eliminate Ronaldo’s Juventus with scintillating display
TURIN: Ajax Amsterdam followed up their elimination of Real Madrid by producing a spell-binding display of inventive, passing football to win 2-1 away to Juventusand end the Serie A team`s dreams of winning the Champions League.
Ajax`s 19-year-old captain Matthijs de Ligt headed the winner from the corner in the 67th minute of the quarter-final second leg as the Dutch side came from behind to clinch a 3-2 aggregate win and reach the last four for the first time since 1996/97.
Cristiano Ronaldo, aiming for a fourth successive Champions League title after winning the last three with Real Madrid, put Juventus ahead in the 28th minute with a typically emphatic header, his sixth goal of the competition.
But Donny van de Beek levelled six minutes later before the visitors swept Juventus aside in the second half with wave after wave of attacks as they earned a semi-final against Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.
“Can we can go on to win the competition? Well, we are in the semi-finals now. And we have eliminated two of the favourites in the last two rounds. The next games will be very difficult, but so were these ones. So who knows?,” said De Ligt.
Frenkie de Jong added: “We dominated after the break and were well worth our victory. In fact, we probably should have won by more.”
Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana gave his team an early scare when his clearance was charged down by Emre Can but the rebound flew wide.
Ajax settled well after that but, despite not playing well, Juventus went ahead when Ronaldo got away from the defenders to score the 126th Champions League goal of his career.
There was a long delay for the VAR review, the referee eventually going to the pitchside monitor with the ball back on the centre circle ready for the re-start, before the goal was confirmed.
Ajax kept their cool and took six minutes to level, helped by a somewhat lucky break.
Hakim Ziyech`s long-range shot hit a defender and fell perfectly for Van de Beek who, unmarked and onside, slotted the ball calmly past Wojciech Szczesny, and then had to wait for another long VAR check before the goal was confirmed.
Ajax took complete control in the second half and their geometric passing repeatedly opened up the Juventus defence, which sorely missed injured veteran Giorgio Chiellini.
Szczesny made one-handed save from Ziyech after Juventus were opened up again and then turned Van de Beek
s curling shot over for a corner. Juventus were rocking but, ironically, Ajaxs winner came from an old-fashioned header as De Ligt outjumped two defenders to score.
Ajax had chances for further goals and Ronaldo`s frustration boiled over in stoppage time when he was booked for a lunging tackle from behind near the centre circle.