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The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Hima Das, MS Dhoni and Russia

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The Good, Bad & the Ugly ft. Hima Das, MS Dhoni and Russia

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SportsCafe Desk


We have come with yet another week of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and like every week, the sporting world threw up all three aspects of the game for us to reflect upon. From Hima Das’ historic achievement to Russia’s World Cup doping to MS Dhoni being booed in Lord’s, it was an eventful week.

The Good

While this is a great achievement for Indian sports, we have categorize it only good due to lack of choice. Hima Das has definitely become the poster girl for India ahead of the upcoming Asian Games after she created history by becoming the first Indian women to bag a gold medal at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships and the first Indian to win gold at the history of the competition. India have previously won bronze medals in the tournament through Seema Punia and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon for discus throw in 2002 and 2014. Hima Das has now joined the elite club with javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who had won the gold in Poland two years in 2016 which was a world record effort. The video of Hima’s last stretch in the 400 m final race has since then gone viral as the 18-year-old clocked 51.46 seconds. The video of a teary-eyed Hima singing the national anthem was even praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the girl from Assam now becomes one of India’s biggest hopes in the Asiad.

A comparatively lesser significant new but definitely a positive one is BCCI’s helping hand to North East team in Ranji Trophy. The domestic tournament, this year, will see 30 teams competing for the coveted domestic title from across the country with the two new teams being from Bihar and North-East. BCCI did a brilliant job by allowing the two teams to become a part of India’s history and has divided teams in elite groups giving one of them a chance to play in the Ranji quarterfinals of the 2018-19 season. However, the board is not stopping only at that. It was announced on Sunday that they are deploying a ‘task force’ that will help develop the facilities in North-East states and make their transition to the big stage a bit more comfortable. North East have just one ground to practice for all their age-groups and also for holding selection trials. For them to give some competition to the veterans, they need some sort of infrastructure to play on a level field. 

The Bad

The world hadn’t stopped admiring Russia’s World Cup campaign after they bowed out against Croatia on penalties in the quarter-finals after shockingly eliminating Spain, the 2010 World Cup champions, in the pre-quarters, when reports emerged that the players had sniffed ammonia before the game that had delayed their fatigue. Russia have never been away from controversy when it came to the use of substances, both banned and non-banned while competing at the world stage and this news would surely taint an otherwise partly-successful World Cup campaign for the country. While Eduard Bezuglov, the Russian national team's chief medical professional, accepted the claim justifying that ammonia is not classed as a prohibited substance in international anti-doping regulations, the substance is known to improve athletic performance by stimulating breathing and improving the flow of oxygen in the blood. It was revealed after a video was released by German publication showing a Russian player rubbing their noses during games.

Coming back to the national boundary and it's favourite sport, it was like history repeating itself and despite all the evident BCCI couldn’t handle the situation any better. Anil Kumble’s resignation, which was famously spurred by the players, will always remain as a dark chapter of the Indian Cricket history for the way it had panned out in public. While a mammoth and age-old body like BCCI should have learnt from it, they ended up creating a similar scenario when India Women’s Team Coach Tushar Arothe decided to step down from his position. It was later reported by TOI that a tiff with the senior players like Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur, captains of India's ODI and T20 sides, who objected Arothe’s training methods had actually led to his resignation. Arothe later revealed that the players didn’t like his two net sessions per day schedule and vent out his frustration at BCCI. "You can't allow practice methods to be dictated by the girls. If these girls want to achieve something, they need to come out of their comfort zone. They don't want to do that. The BCCI should not entertain such requests from cricketers (to change the coach)," stated Arothe.

The Ugly

There is always some news worse than the other and in this case, it is unfortunately pertaining to Indian sports. Controversy hasn’t left India since the Indian Olympic Association had released the name of squads to play in the Asian Games. At first, it was AIFF who had openly criticized the IOA for not sending the Indian football team to the Asiad at such a crucial juncture when they are preparing for the AFC Asian Cup next year, and now it is the Handball Federation of India, who has filed a petition against the IOA after the association decided to keep them out of India’s Asian Games contingent. It was, however, not over there as the HFI has now publicly accused the AIFF of pressurizing the IOA to move against HFI. Through their joint secretary Nisheeth Nath Pandey, HFI has filed a writ petition at the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Friday, demanding that the Court directs the sports ministry and IOA to allow the Handball team an entry in Asiad. The Handball team had finished 12th in the last Asian Championships, which was held in Korea.

MS Dhoni’s career has seen mostly ups with the former skipper facing very less criticisms. However, Indian cricket fans are very hard to please and even as the middle-order batsman attained the milestone of 10,000 runs in his ODI career on Saturday, albeit in a losing cause, Dhoni was shockingly booed by a section of the Indian crowd at the Lord’s for his slow run rate. After India were reduced to 140/4 while chasing a target of 323, Dhoni decided not to take his genuine course of action. The batsman, known for his hard-hitting abilities was shockingly quiet throughout the game as the Indian ship sunk slowly. However, it was during the 45th over, when the ship had sailed and India needed over 100 runs in 30 balls that Dhoni’s slow play frustrated the crowd. The situation turned worse before Virat Kohli sent message downstairs to Dhoni asking him to accelerate. Dhoni tried hitting in the next ball and threw away his wicket. While the crowd cannot be blamed, Dhoni, who got to his 10k ODI runs in just 273 matches becoming the fifth fastest player to do that, couldn’t be blamed much either. Overall, this will be remembered as an ugly episode of the World Cup winner.

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