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As the Indian cricket team gets ready for the 2019 World Cup that starts on 30 May, the BCCI is keeping an eye on Kedar Jadhav's fitness, and will likely take a call on his participation next week. That decision could even be announced on the day the Indian team is scheduled to depart for the United Kingdom.
A BCCI source told CricketNext, “The...national selectors have been kept apprised of Jadhav’s recovery process on a day-to-day basis... It’s too early to say whether Jadhav will be fit enough to take part in the tournament but (a) call on that will be taken next week, probably as late as the departure date of the Indian team which is May 22.”
As per ICC rules, the MSK Prasad-led selection panel is allowed to make changes to their squad by 23 May and not a day beyond. Among the players on standby in case of a last minute call up are Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Navdeep Saini and Ishant Sharma. The selectors are said to be primarily looking at Rayudu and Patel as Jadhav’s replacement should his shoulder not heal in time.
India will play two warm-up games, against New Zealand and Bangladesh on 25 and 28 May respectively, before getting their campaign off to a start against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.
In news from Indian football, Croatian Igor Stimac was yesterday appointed head coach of the Indian football team for a two-year term. The national team has been without a coach since the departure of Stephen Constantine in January, following the creditable show at the AFC Asian Cup.
51-year-old Stimac, who was part of Croatia's 1998 World Cup squad that finished third in France, comes with an experience of over 18 years in coaching, structuring, and developing football and players back home, and internationally. He was also a part of the squad, which qualified for the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship 1996, and, in his younger days, he was part of Yugoslavia U-19 national team that won the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1987. As a coach, Stimac's crowning achievement was Croatia’s qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. During his tenure as the national coach of Croatia, he handed debuts to the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ante Rebic, Alen Halilovic, and Ivan Perisic, amongst others. His last assignment was with Al-Shahania Club in Qatar.
AIFF president Praful Patel said, "Igor is the right candidate to coach the Blue Tigers. I welcome him on board. Indian football is going through a transition, and I am confident his vast experience will guide us to higher echelons." General secretary Kushal Das added, "Indian football would benefit immensely under Igor Stimac. His credentials as a coach and experience as a player are sure to add immense value to the players, and the Indian football ecosystem. The momentum gained needs to be sustained."
Technical committee head Shyam Thapa, a former India international, said, "Mr Stimac's recommendation was unanimous. All the members of the technical committee including the AIFF technical director Mr Isac Doru were immensely impressed, and convinced about him being best suited for the job. He is a World Cupper, and has guided Croatia to the World Cup as a coach. Who else could have been a better candidate?...He also impressed us with his extensive research on Indian football.”
Stimac's very first assignment will be the Kings Cup in Thailand where the Blue Tigers take on Curacao in their first match on 5 June.
In other football news, French striker Antoine Griezmann has told Atletico Madrid he will leave them in the close season.
28-year-old Griezmann has a contract until 2023 with Atletico, but has a buyout clause of 120million euros ($134million) and has been the target of several approaches from La Liga rivals Barcelona.
Atletico’s official Twitter feed had a message that said, “Antoine Griezmann has told the club he will not continue as a Rojiblanco (red and white, the club's colours) next season.”
Soon, Griezmann posted a video explaining, "After speaking with Cholo (club coach Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to speak with you, the fans, who have always given me a lot of love...I wanted to tell you I have taken the decision to leave. I have had five wonderful seasons here and you will always be in my heart...The truth is, it has been difficult to take this route but it is what I feel I need and I would like to thank all of you for the love you have shown me during these five years."
The affable forward known for doing dances from the video game Fortnite, when celebrating his goals, was part of the 2018 World Cup winning French team. With 133 goals in 252 games at Atletico, Griezmann has been a constant and reassuring presence, and is rarely unfit or injured. He was a Champions League runner up in 2016, losing to arch-rivals Real Madrid. Griezmann finished third for the Ballon d'Or in 2016, after France lost in the final to Portugal at the European Championships and was a huge presence as Les Bleus romped to a memorable World Cup win at Russia 2018 after which he also finished third for the Ballon d'Or. He also won the Europa League in 2018 with Atletico.
In hockey, The Indian men's team were blanked 0-4 by World No 2 Australia in the fourth match of their tour Down Under. Blake Govers and Jeremy Hayward scored a brace each for the hosts thrashed the visitors easily.
After remaining unbeaten in their first three matches of the tour, World No 5 India were handed a lesson in hockey by the Kookaburras. India started the match well as they pressed Australia higher up the field, but were dealt two successive blows within a span of five minutes. Seconds from the first quarter Australia secured their first penalty corner, which resulted in a penalty stroke for the hosts and Govers made no mistake from the set piece. Then, five minutes into the second quarter, Australia earned back-to-back penalty corners and the second chance saw Hayward beautifully flick the ball low into the right side of goal past India goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak to make it 2-0 20 minutes into the game.
Struggling to keep possession, India won their fifth penalty corner through Sumit Kumar, but Australian goalkeeper Johan Durst made a brilliant double-save to deny Harmanpreet. The third quarter witnessed a closer contest between the teams but Australia defended stoutly to keep India’s strikers at bay. Desperate for a goal, India withdrew their goalkeeper for an extra outfield player but the move backfired. Australia capitalised, and scored two goals in the last two minutes. Goal number three came off a penalty corner conversion by Hayward, and Govers scored his second goal through a fierce reverse shot to round off a disappointing day for the Indians.
The fifth and final match of the tour will be played on Friday.
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Updated Date: May 16, 2019 14:31:35 IST