Firstpost Spodcast Episode 148: Pakistan athletes face the music in wake of Pulwama attack, Harmanpreet Kaur's ankle injury and more
Here's the full script of episode 148 of Spodcast, where we discuss the impact of Pulwama terror attack on Pakistan athletes, Harmanpreet Kaur's ankle injury and other updates from the Champions League and the Indian Super League.
The impact of the Pulwama terror attack could snowball into a countrywide boycott of Pakistani cricketers.
The ISSF Shooting World Cup has also been affected. Denied visas after the attack in Kashmir, Pakistan's shooting federation wrote to the ISSF
Cricketers from Bihar and Jharkhand were found to be involved in corruption in the selection process along with members of its cricket associations.
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
The impact of the Pulwama terror attack could snowball into a countrywide boycott of Pakistani cricketers. On Wednesday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said those asking for the boycott of the matches are justified in their demand. He told India Today, "I cannot make any comment (on cricket issues) except to say those who are demanding it have some justification. You can see many films and concerts have been cancelled. Things are not normal. If things are not normal, the jhappiyan-pappiyan (hugs and kisses) issues have always been there." He also added, "Since it's an international tournament, the ICC and our Indian cricket board have to take a call after consideration with our security establishment."
Meanwhile, more state cricket associations have decided to remove or veil the portraits of Pakistani cricketers. Yesterday, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association removed photos of Pakistan cricketers from the picture gallery of its stadium at Dharamshala. HPCA general manager HS Minhas said, "The reason is known to the entire nation. What our neighbour has done with us, our soldiers, it is neither acceptable now nor will ever be. No country will ever tolerate such things...after this incident, we do not want the pictures of Pakistani cricketers to hang on our walls. So, we have vacated the place and there is no space for them as of now."
According to Anand Jaiswal, president of the Vidarbha Cricket Association, pictures of former Pakistani cricketers were removed from its stadium in view of public sentiments after the Pulwama terror attack. The photos of Imran Khan, batting legend Javed Miandad and some other players were removed from the VCA Stadium at Jamtha three days ago. This move gathered momentum after cricket associations in Punjab and Rajasthan removed the pictures of former Pakistani cricket players from their respective stadiums in Mohali and Jaipur to protest the 14 February attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed. The Cricket Club of India in Mumbai covered a portrait of Imran Khan to protest the Pulwama attack.
As of now, ICC CEO David Richardson maintains that no change in World Cup schedule has been considered in the wake of the attack. Richardson said, "Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident and we will be monitoring the situation with our Members...There is no indication that any (of the) matches at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup will not go ahead as planned."
IPL chairman, and seasoned politician, Rajeev Shukla said until government gives a go-ahead, India will not play Pakistan. He said, "Our position is very clear. Unless government gives us nod, we are not going to play with Pakistan. Sports should be above all these things but if somebody is sponsoring terrorism, obviously it will affect sports also." About the World Cup tie, Shukla said a decision could be taken closer to the tournament, which is over three months away.
Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal also expressed his anger at the situation. He said, "This should settle once and for all. We cannot tolerate it any longer...Every three months we get to hear about our jawans losing their lives to terrorism and we cannot keep waiting for things to happen. We have to make things happen and we should settle this face to face, even if that means aar paar ki ladaai (fight on the battlefield)." However, he refused to take a stand regarding the World Cup game against Pakistan. Chahal said, "The decision to play the World Cup match against Pakistan has to be taken by the BCCI and the government."
Former India opener Chetan Chauhan was the most strident in his opinion that India must not have anything to do with Pakistan cricket anymore. He said BCCI must put pressure on the ICC to remove Pakistan from the competition. Chauhan said, "...we don't have the option of not playing just one match as there is a chance that we could meet them in semi-final or final. In that case, either we pull out of World Cup or play the full tournament." Chauhan, who is also the Uttar Pradesh sports minister, said, "...I believe India is still the market for 60 to 70 percent of ICC's global sponsorship. So, the BCCI should put pressure on the ICC and try to get Pakistan out of the World Cup...a World Cup cricket event can easily survive without Pakistan but it won't survive without an Indian team. I believe you cannot just ignore the public sentiment after the Pulwama attack."
It's not just cricket that is affected by the Pulwama attacks. The ISSF Shooting World Cup has also been affected. Denied visas after the attack in Kashmir, Pakistan's shooting federation wrote to the International Shooting Sport Federation demanding it drop the two 25m rapid-fire pistol quotas for 2020 Olympics in the season-opening World Cup.
A National Rifle Association of India official explained, "The ISSF has received a letter from the Pakistan federation, requesting it not to offer quota places in the events their shooters were scheduled to participate. This is what the ISSF secretary-general said."
Pakistan had applied for visas for two athletes in the rapid-fire category as the event in New Delhi also serves as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Meanwhile, ISSF president Vladimir Lisin and its secretary general Alexander Ratner are in Delhi for the big event. While Lisin could take up the matter with Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Ratner said the decision to allot quota places rests with the International Olympic Committee. ISSF released a statement that said, "... (The) World Cup in New Delhi faces an urgent situation as Pakistani athletes cannot get entry visas to participate in the competition, due to the terrorist attacks happened last days in India. The ISSF and the Organizing Committee of the competition are taking all efforts to solve the situation to avoid the discrimination of the Pakistani team. Besides that, the ISSF and the Organizing Committee are discussing the possible consequences for India as a host country for future international competitions, in all sports."
NRAI Secretary General DV Seetharama Rao said the Indian federation will go by the "wishes and orders" of the government. He said, "The government has not asked us to not allow them. If the government does not give them the visa, we abide by that. We cannot do anything."
503 shooters from 58 countries will compete in the ISSF World Cup. Eight of the 10 events offer 16 quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Champions League update now. Cristiano Ronaldo's Champions League mission with Juventus stalled on Wednesday as Atletico Madrid secured a deserved 2-0 victory from a thrilling first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Ronaldo returned to the Spanish capital, where he enjoyed unprecedented success in this tournament with Real, but it was their rivals celebrating at the final whistle as goals from Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin put Atletico within sight of the quarter-finals.
Juve are certainly not dead and buried, particularly given Costa and Thomas Partey will both be suspended for the return in Turin after each picked up yellow cards.
Defeat in the last-16 for either team would be unthinkable, for Atletico, who know the final will be played here, at their own stadium, on 1 June, the perfect chance to wrestle the trophy off Real in the very city they share.
Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling sealed a dramatic 3-2 Champions League win for 10-man Manchester City at Schalke on Wednesday as the English champions scored twice in the last five minutes.
Sterling tucked away the winner at the Veltins Arena in the 90th minute just after substitute Leroy Sane fired home a stunning free-kick for the Premier League leaders against his former club in the last-16, first leg.
Schalke led 2-1 at half-time as the video assistant referee (VAR) twice intervened to award penalties, both converted by Nabil Bentaleb, cancelling out Sergio Aguero's opener
City were in real trouble with 22 minutes left when Nicolas Otamendi, who gave away the controversial first penalty, was sent off for a second yellow card before Sane's moment of brilliance and Sterling's winner.
The Indian women's cricket team suffered a jolt as vice-captain and leading batswoman Harmanpreet Kaur was ruled out of the limited overs series against England following an ankle injury. She injured her ankle during a training session in Patiala and suffered a grade 2 tear. She will undergo a rehabilitation programme at the NCA in Bengaluru where the extent of the injury will also be ascertained.
India are slated to play three ODIs against England in Mumbai starting 22 February. The ODI series will be followed by three T20 Internationals in Guwahati from 4 March.
With Kaur out of the squad, newcomer Harleen Deol, who played two warm-up games against the English women, has been named as her replacement.
The ODI series is important because it is a part of ICC Women's Championship and points will be carried forward. Kaur is also the skipper of the T20 side. If she is declared unfit for that series as well, Smriti Mandhana will be the stand in captain.
Cricketers from Bihar and Jharkhand were found to be involved in corruption in the selection process along with members of the Bihar and Jharkhand cricket associations.
In a sting operation carried out by News 18 India called 'Operation Clean Bowled', it has emerged that selectors and other members of both Bihar and Jharkhand Cricket Associations influenced selection processes on receiving bribes that were between Rs 50,000 and one crore.
Neeraj Kumar, the selector in the Bihar Cricket Association, was caught on record claiming that if Rs 74 lakh is paid to him, he can make any cricketer play at the Ranji Trophy level. The expose also revealed that two cricketers from Delhi forged resident certificates that described them as citizens of Bihar. And the rot apparently goes deeper. DP Tripathi, an umpire with BCA, was caught on camera taking money to select a woman cricketer in one of Bihar's district teams. Tripathi said it is easy to arrange for a fake Bihar resident certificate and induct the cricketer directly into the team. He demanded a payment of Rs three to four lakhs for such a forgery.
In Jharkhand, JCA members also claimed they could have anyone play in the U-16 and U-19 teams if a decent amount is paid to them. Mohammad Wasim, secretary of the JCA, was approached by the undercover team of the News 18 India team to include a player in the district Under-19 team. Wasim was caught on record saying he will need to assess the player. If the player's skills are not up to the mark, he claimed he could arrange documents for the player from another district in Jharkhand. The video showed Wasim saying a sum of Rs 50, 000 was enough for selecting a player in a district team.
He added that any player from any part of the country could play for the state U-16 team if an amount of up to Rs four lakh is paid.
An ISL update now. NorthEast United will have to wait longer to book their slot in the play-offs after their 1-1 draw against FC Pune City on Wednesday.
NorthEast could have sealed a place among the top four with a victory against Pune but the closely-fought clash at ended in a draw, which means they now have to wait till their final league match.
The first half was goalless, with both teams denying the opposition any real chance at scoring a goal. However, early in the second half, a Rowllin Borges strike gave NorthEast the lead. They looked set to take home three points and a spot in the play-offs. But that was not to be. Just 12 minutes later, Pune equalised though Adil Khan, who slammed home a volley. With 20 minutes left in the game, the scoreline read 1-1. However, it got worse for NorthEast - they were reduced to 10 men after Jose Leudo was red carded for violent conduct.
While Pune are out of the play-offs, NorthEast, who are in third place with 28 points, have no choice but to win their final league match against Kerala Blasters.
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