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LISTEN: Full script of Episode 165 of Spodcast where we discuss Gautam Gambhir's comments on Indo-Pak cricket ties, Mary Kom's Asian Championship absence and more

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Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir believes India should be ready to forfeit the final in the upcoming World Cup if it is against Pakistan.

Following the Pulwama terror attack on February 14, in which more than 40 Indian soldiers lost their lives, discussions have been raging in cricketing circles around India boycotting Pakistan on the cricket pitch. Former cricketers from India have been divided on the issue of playing Pakistan in international cricket. While Sachin Tendulkar said he would hate to concede two points to Pakistan in the world cup, Gambhir maintains his stand that India must boycott Pakistan.

He told CricketNext on Tuesday, “This is what BCCI needs to decide and I have always maintained there can’t be conditional bans. Either you don’t play them anywhere or open doors for them. What happened in Pulwama is absolutely not acceptable. I am sure it’s going to be difficult to boycott Pakistan in the World Cup but they are not playing them in bilaterals. The best they can do is to stop playing in the Asia Cup as well, that’s what I believe.”

Gambhir added, “There is nothing wrong in forfeiting the game and losing two points. The lives of...soldiers...are far more important. My point is if India decides to forfeit then the entire country should back the team even if India have to play Pakistan in the World Cup final, even if you have to let go of that final they should be ready for it.” He cited England's forfeiture of their 2003 World Cup round-robin game against Zimbabwe in protest of the Robert Mugabe regime. He said, “England decided in 2003 and they wouldn't go to Zimbabwe, they forfeited. If BCCI decides not to play against Pakistan, everyone should be mentally ready to give those two points...There could be repercussions and we may not qualify for the semi-finals. No media should blame the Indian team if they plan to boycott playing Pakistan.” Gambhir also took a strong stand regarding any possible international backlash. He said, “All of us need to decide if sport is more important or lives of our soldiers? I am all for facing a backlash if the international sporting federations decide to ostracise us. The sentiment of the country is far more important than sports, Bollywood, art or culture.”

Meanwhile, International Cricket Council CEO Dave Richardson on Monday said he does not foresee any threat to the high-profile India-Pakistan World Cup match, insisting that the two teams are bound by an ICC agreement to show up. He explained, “For ICC events, all teams have signed a members' participation agreement which requires them to participate in all the matches of the tournament and any unjustified non-compliance with that provision, the playing conditions will kick in and the points will be awarded accordingly.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board has paid the BCCI approximately USD 1.6 million as compensation after losing a case in the ICC's Dispute Resolution Committee.

PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said on Monday, “We incurred costs of around USD 2.2 million on the compensation case which we lost.”

PCB had filed a compensation case against the BCCI last year for an amount of around USD 70 million on account of not honouring a MoU signed between the two boards. According to the MoU, India and Pakistan were supposed to play six bilateral series between 2015 and 2023, which the BCCI had failed to honour. The Indian cricket board said they were unable to play against Pakistan as the Indian government did not grant them permission. India also dismissed the Pakistan board's claims as legally binding.

However, the PCB chief claimed, “The ICC committee did accept that Pakistan had a case and that is why the damages/cost we had to pay to the Indian board was around USD 1.6 million.”

The Board of Control for Cricket in India has said it will work with the National Anti-Doping Agency, or NADA, for the next six months. That decision is a major climb down from its previous position of not adhering to global anti-doping guidelines.

BCCI’s office-bearers and Committee of Administrators (CoA) came to that conclusion after a meeting with ICC chairman Shashank Manohar.

A senior board official told PTI, “It will be a six-month tripartite agreement between ICC, BCCI and NADA wherein the samples of our registered pool of players will be going to the National Dope Testing Labaratory through NADA, unlike now when Sweden-based IDTM does the sample collection. If we are not convinced, we won't renew the agreement.” The official added, “We maintained that we have no faith in NADA's Dope Control Officers. There has been too many examples of inefficient handling of samples by NADA DCOs. Here we are talking about some of the biggest names in Indian sport like Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. We can't blindly trust them.”

Essentially, the cricket board decided to come under NADA on the condition that its own chaperons will collect the urine samples, which will then be handed over to NADA. The World Anti-Doping Agency, or WADA, had clearly communicated to the ICC that the BCCI has to come under NADA's ambit so that the world body remains compliant and the matter was intimated to the BCCI during a board meeting in Dubai.

In order to remain WADA compliant, a national sports federation needs to provide at least 10 percent of the samples for testing. The BCCI official said, “We would be providing samples as per mandatory minimum requirement which is 10 percent. It would include top national cricketers and a lot of first-class cricketers”.

Indian tennis player Prajnesh Gunneswaran reached a career-high ATP rank of 84 after an impressive display at Indian Wells.

In the recently released ATP rankings, Prajnesh had collected 61 points after reaching the third round at the ATP Master series event. He had beaten world number 18 Nikoloz Basilashvili to register the biggest win of his career. That win helped him move up 13 places to a career-best ranking.

Meanwhile, Ramkumar Ramanathan dropped three places to 139 and Yuki Bhambri dropped out of top-200 for the first time in almost two years. Yuki is nursing a knee injury and slid 36 places to 207. The last time he was ranked outside the top-200 was in July 2017. The next best Indian players in the singles chart are Saketh Myneni, who is ranked 251, and Sasi Kumar Mukund who is ranked 268. Mukund, who was not even in the top-400 around five months back, has made good progress recently.

In the WTA rankings, Ankita Raina is India's top-ranked player at 168 while Karman Kaur Thandi jumped seven places to 203.

Indian boxing star MC Mary Kom says her decision to skip the Asian Championships is part of her plan to enhance her chances of Olympic qualification at a time when the competition in her weight category has become significantly "difficult".

Mary Kom, who claimed her sixth world title last year in Delhi, will look to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the World Championships in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The Asian Championship is scheduled for next month in Thailand.

She said, “This year is very important for me. Qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics is my main aim. Without competing in any competition, I cannot qualify for the Olympics. It would be difficult. I have to know all the opponents in my category (51kg) and judge how strong they are compared to me.” She explained further, “I have to first compete in the India Open and then slowly choose my tournaments in the 51kg category. I am looking to qualify for the Olympics at the Worlds and that is why I have decided to skip the Asian Championships to prepare myself best for the Worlds...Without proper planning I cannot qualify for the Olympics. India Open is also very important for me. So I have decided to choose some important tournaments to qualify for the Olympics.”

Mary Kom will be competing in the 51kg category after her preferred 48kg division did not make cut for the Olympic programme. The Manipuri boxer had competed in the 51kg category in Germany during a training stint earlier this month, and came away undefeated. She said, “I have already been competing in the 51kg category in the last one year. I now know the areas where I will have to work upon but fitness wise there are no issues. I just have to work upon my strength, power and stamina.”

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Updated Date: Mar 19, 2019 13:11:32 IST

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