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The Good, Bad and the Ugly ft. Indian Hockey team's brilliance and IOA-AIFF catfight

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The Good, Bad and the Ugly ft. Indian Hockey team's brilliance and IOA-AIFF catfight

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SportsCafe Desk


The week gone by was dominated by India’s tour to England and obviously, the extravaganza of FIFA World Cup. However, there were some significant stories from the world of sports that kept on giving us enough things to discuss over a cup of chai, and that covers this edition of SportsCafe's GBU.

The Good

While the Indian cricket team’s performance in the first T20I at Old Trafford served as a reminder to the English about the challenges that lay ahead, another Indian team in the same continent showed their true potential to the world. After Harendra Singh’s appointment as chief coach of the men’s hockey team, India put up a memorable performance in the Champions Trophy held at Breda, Netherlands. Although they finished in second spot, the tournament showcased that India is on the right track to once again become a force to be reckoned with in the game. In the tournament, India got the better of Olympic champions Argentina and proved it was no fluke by beating Pakistan in the following game. The team held Belgium and hosts Netherlands to draws, and irrespective of their loss to Australia in the final, they will indeed savour the success and will be in good stead for this year’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

Ball tampering has always been the dark art in the game of cricket and Sandpaper-gate served as the watershed moment. It has come under the scanner even more since then and ICC has come down heavily on the perpetrators announcing new stricter sanctions as the penalties for ball tampering. While that should be welcomed, South African skipper Faf du Plessis’ comments have made for an interesting outlook. "The ICC has made the penalties a lot more strict, but they still haven't said what is allowed and what isn't allowed. Is chewing gum allowed? Is it not? Are you allowed mints in your mouth? As Hashim Amla said, he likes putting sweets in his mouth when he spends a long time in the field, so there's nothing wrong with it. For me, I need clarity still. I'm looking forward to speaking to the umpires before the game to make sure there's clarity,” du Plessis said on the matter. Given the fact that du Plessis himself was found guilty twice of tampering in the past, he is the best person to talk about it. Also, it is blatantly clear that the ICC needs to ensure that there is no grey area in the rules and it will good for the game since players won't be able to use lack of knowledge as an excuse.

The Bad

With the Asian Games starting on August 18, India is gearing up to send their largest ever contingent to participate in the tournament. However, the way Sambo Federation of India (SFI) has approached their selection is nothing but a shame for the game. When IOA announced last week that India would compete in sambo, Indian Express reported that the SFI named a team that included the daughter-in-law of the federation’s secretary along with another player who hasn’t competed even at the national level for the last three years. While Rishal Sharma didn’t compete in the trials last month, Sarojit Kaur hasn’t participated in the last three national championships but was included in the Asian Games team. Upon realizing the same, the IOA struck off five names from the list of six participants and only one – Shrikant – has been cleared to compete. While IOA’s steps are a welcoming one, it is a shame that after getting a chance to participate in a prestigious tournament like Asiad, SFI adopted, putting it mildly, a questionable way to select players. 

On the other hand, while India is expecting their badminton contingent to bring home some medals from the Asian Games, their performance in the Indonesia Open has been a major disappointment. While Kidambi Srikanth failed to overcome his challenging opening round against Japan’s Kento Momota, a player he lost to in Japan as well, HS Prannoy, despite an impressive victory over the legendary Lin Dan, came a cropper against China’s World No 3, Shi Yuqi. Sindhu, who was seeded third for the tournament, secured hard-fought victories against Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong and Japan’s Aya Ohori, but the rustiness got the better of her in the third round as she lost to China’s He Bingjiao - a player seeded five places beneath her. While this time, last year, things looked very rosy for Indian badminton, recent results should give the players a chance to introspect and perform as per the billing. 

The Ugly 

The cat-fight between the COA and BCCI has reached a position where no one is ready to accept what is logical and what is not. A day after BCCI gave Tamil Nadu Cricket Association the permission to allow the outstation players for the third edition of the TNPL, CoA informed the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) through a mail that BCCI provisions do not permit outstation players to participate in tournaments hosted by another association. The CoA has also directed the concerned BCCI members to withdraw the No Objection Certificates (NOCs) issued to players who registered for the outstation players' draft. Although the outcome of the latest fight is yet to be announced, it is crystal clear that the two-way management of the board has clearly failed to manage the chaos.  

While the COA-BCCI fight is no more a new thing in Indian sports, the recent IOA-AIFF fight has just become very ugly. While AIFF claimed that Asian Games could give a very good exposure to the football team, keeping an eye on the AFC Cup of 2019, IOA also stands right in their statement in which they cleared that it would be unfair to give a team a chance to participate out of the rule just for the exposure and there are no places for also-rans in the tournament. While both are right in their own right, the IOA could certainly resist from making baseless comments like “they don’t deserve to play” and all and could make a more balanced comment publicly. After all, the sport is garnering some momentum in the country in the recent years and explaining the opinion in a more respectful way could have helped. 

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