Listen: Full script of Episode 146 of Spodcast where we Indian boxers' performance at Strandja Memorial tournament and more
Welcome to Spodcast, where we cover the big sports headlines of the day. Today, we discuss Indian boxers' performance at Strandja Memorial boxing tournament, Harbhajan Singh's call to BCCI to boycott game against Pakistan in the 2019 ICC World Cup and other news stories.
We start with news on India’s boxers at the 70th Strandja Memorial tournament in Bulgaria, which marks the beginning of the European boxing calendar. Asian Games gold-medalist Amit Panghal, who is competing in the 49kg category, and former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen, who is competing in the women’s 51kg category, were among four Indian boxers who made it to the finals of the tournament on Monday in Sofia.
Amit, the only Indian male boxer still in the fray, defeated Morocco's Said Mortaji in a split 3-2 verdict to set up a clash with Kazakhstan's Temirtas Zhussupov, who defeated Argentina's Jose Leandro Blanc in the semi-final. Zareen, a two-time national medalist, defeated Poland's Sandra Drabik 3-2 in an intense seesaw battle. Another Indian boxer to make it to the finals was Manju Rani in the 48kg category, who defeated Bulgaria's Emi-Mari Todorovaand in the semi-final. Meena Kumari Devi qualified in the 54kg category after overcoming the challenge from Russia's Ekaterina Sycheva. She had won a bronze medal at the previous edition of this tournament. India had won a total of 11 medals at the 2018 edition, including two gold. That was India’s best ever showing at the prestigious tournament.
The latest ICC rankings for women’s cricket saw India opener Smriti Mandhana maintain her top in the ODI batting ratings while ODI skipper Mithali Raj remained in fifth place.
Mandhana, who leads the pack with 774 rating points, is followed by the Australian pair of Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning. New Zealand's Amy Satterthwaite is in fourth place, just ahead of Mithali. Other Indian players to make it into the top 20 are Deepti Sharma, who jumped one place to 17th, and India’s T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur who is ranked 19th.
In bowling rankings, veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami is the best-placed Indian at the third spot behind Megan Schutt of Australia and Pakistan's Sana Mir, who are ranked first and second respectively. Deepti Sharma and Poonam Yadav are ranked eighth and ninth. Deepti also features in the all-rounders chart with a career-high third rank. Perry is at the top of that list followed by West Indies' Stafanie Taylor.
Former Pakistan opening batsman Nasir Jamshed, along with two other men, has been given a trial date by a British court after being accused of conspiring to offer bribes to professional cricket players.
Jamshed, Yousef Anwar, and Mohammed Ijaz were arrested last February as part of an investigation by the National Crime Agency into alleged spot fixing in tournaments organised by national cricket boards from Bangladesh and Pakistan. The three men are accused of conspiring, between 1 November 2016 and 10 February 2017, to offer financial advantages to players in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) with the intention of inducing them to perform improperly by failing to play competitively in good faith. Anwar and Ijaz are also accused of conspiring together to bribe players taking part in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) to perform improperly.
Yesterday, all three entered not guilty pleas at Manchester Crown Court. The trial, estimated to last three weeks, will begin at the same court on 2 December.
Indian cricket is seeing more fallouts of the Pulwama terror attack. On Monday, former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh said India should boycott the match against Pakistan in the upcoming 2019 World Cup.
Harbhajan added that he believed India are strong enough to win the World Cup even if they decide to forfeit the match against Pakistan in Manchester on 16 June.
He said, “India should not play Pakistan in the World Cup. India are powerful enough to win the World Cup without having to play Pakistan. This is a difficult time. The attack that has happened, it was unbelievable and it's very wrong. Strict action will surely be taken by the government. When it comes to cricket, I don't think we should have any relations with them otherwise they will keep treating us like this.”
He also took a strong stand on India’s sporting ties with Pakistan. He said, “...Country comes first and we are all standing behind our country. Cricket or hockey or sports, it should be kept aside because this is a huge thing and repeatedly our soldiers are killed. We should stand with our country. Cricket or hockey or any sport, we don't need to play with them. We should not keep any kind of ties with Pakistan: we are powerful enough to feed the world on our own. Cricket, sports is not as important. We stand with every member of the defence force. Their sacrifices should not go to waste.”
The Pulwama attack had also cast some doubts over the participation of Pakistani athletes in the ISSF New Delhi World Cup but that seemed to have been resolved on Monday. The International Shooting Sport Federation event, which offers 16 quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, begins at the Dr Karni Singh Range this Thursday.
Pakistan's shooters were eventually granted visas to participate in the tournament, according to a top Indian shooting official. Pakistan had applied for visas for two shooters in the rapid-fire category — GM Bashir and Khalil Ahmed.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia said, “Their visa has been cleared and we have received communication from the Indian High Commission and the Pakistan shooting federation. The two shooters and the manager's tickets are also being booked.” Pakistan’s shooting federation had earlier said that it would not send its marksmen to India if the visas did not come through by the evening. The Indian government had cleared the applications, but that was before last Thursday's terrorist attack.
Caster Semenya, who is at the centre of the IAAF’s hearing regarding her appeal on the way the sport manages hyperandrogenic athletes, claimed yesterday that the International Association of Athletics Federations breached confidentiality regulations.
The South African 800-metres double Olympic champion is seeking to overturn a new set of IAAF regulations that are aimed at lowering the testosterone levels of hyperandrogenic athletes. The appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland could prove a landmark case for the sport with wide-reaching consequences.
In the Dutee Chand case, CAS claimed in their judgement that IAAF had not provided sufficient evidence to prove hyperandrogenic athletes gained significant advantages due to their testosterone count. The sports body now claims to have such evidence. It is believed that the South African athlete will present experts who will prove the flaws in the IAAF research during the hearing. Semenya believes the IAAF breached the confidentiality rules of the hearing when they released the names of five expert witnesses they will bring to the CAS to testify on their behalf. Her lawyers said in a statement, “The arbitration proceedings are subject to strict confidentiality provisions and this information should not have been released. Ms Semenya believes the IAAF press release is a clear breach of the confidentiality provisions that was orchestrated in an effort to influence public opinion in circumstances where the IAAF knew that Ms Semenya would not be prepared to respond because she was complying with her confidentiality obligations. As a matter of fairness, Ms Semenya raised this issue with the CAS and has been granted permission to publicly release information responding to the IAAF press release‚ including disclosing the experts who are testifying in support of Ms Semenya’s case. This information will be released tomorrow.”
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The two boards were forced into the alteration to the scheduled tour dates after West Indies' current ODI series against Australia was rocked by a positive Covid-19 test which saw Thursday's second match suspended.
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Having already lost the three-match WODI series by the same margin, the Indian women under Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur have now lost four successive white-ball series with two at home against South Africa.