The first match of the Women's T20 Challenge was played in Jaipur on Monday, the first of four exhibition matches. The BCCI is organising a bigger tournament for the women in comparison to the inaugural edition last year when only a one-off game was played.
On Monday, the Trailblazers withstood the onslaught of hard-hitting Harmanpreet Kaur to pull-off a thrilling two-run win over the Supernovas in the opening game that included a run out on the final ball.
Chasing 141 for a win, the Supernovas came agonisingly close, finishing at 138/6 as Harmanpreet and New Zealander Sophie Devine, who slammed 32 runs off 22 balls, took the game deep with a 48-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The match came down to the final over, and the Supernovas needed 19 runs to win. Supernovas captain Harmanpreet, who made a brisk 46 not out from 34 balls, nearly got her team over the line with some sensational hitting but veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami held her nerve despite being hit for four boundaries. The Supernovas needed three runs off the last ball but Lea Tahuhu was run out.
Earlier, The Trailblazers made a slow start, with stroke making proving difficult on a slow surface. After the early wicket of New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates, captain Smriti Mandhana anchored a 119-run stand with Harleen Deol, who struggled to change gears in challenging conditions. Both Mandhana and Deol struggled to get going as Trailblazers crawled to 25/1 in six overs. After getting used to the slowness of the wicket, Mandhana went for her strokes, smashing 3 sixes and 10 fours. She made 90 runs from 67 balls, helping take her team to 140/5. That innings won her the Player of The Match award.
Cricketing greats Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman will depose in person for their alleged conflict of interest case before the BCCI ombudsman and Ethics Officer Justice DK Jain on 14 May. Reports claim that the complainant, Sanjeev Gupta of Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association, and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri have also been summoned for deposition by Justice Jain.
Gupta alleged that Tendulkar and Laxman are in conflict for their dual roles as members of Cricket Advisory Committee and as icon (Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians) and mentor (Laxman for Sunrisers Hyderabad) of IPL teams. Both cricketers denied having any conflict of interest, and in fact blamed BCCI for the mess as the Board never mentioned before their written submission that there is "tractable Conflict of Interest" which can be sorted on full disclosure.
A top BCCI source told PTI, "... both Tendulkar and Laxman had sought in person deposition before the Ethics Officer and as per principles of natural justice. Accordingly, they have been asked to depose in Delhi on May 14. The timing and venue will be notified later." He added, "The BCCI is a party to the case and just like in Sourav Ganguly's case, the parent body will give its view. There were erroneous reports that BCCI will not be represented. CAC is a BCCI subcommittee." It is understood that Johri will be representing the CoA.
This issue facing all three CAC members has put the cricket board in a tight spot. The BCCI's newly adopted constitution's Conflict of Interest clause has some grey areas, which many in the Board feel, need urgent addressing.
In squash, the lack of a head coach for over a year meant that Indian stars Saurav Ghosal and Joshna Chinappa had to rely on injured teammate Harinder Pal Sandhu for coaching advice en route to their historic triumph at the Asian Individual Squash Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
In what made for a curious sight, Sandhu, an active player and also Ghosal's best friend, was sitting courtside when the 10th-ranked Indian outplayed the reigning Asian Games champion Leo Au in straight games to become the first male squash player from India to win the continental title on Sunday night. Sandhu, who is recovering from a serious back injury, was sitting as the 'official' coach travelling with the squad. National coach Cyrus Poncha did not travel with the team for one of the most important events of the year.
This scenario is not a new one in Indian squash - the players had to bank on each other's advice during the Asian Games last year, creating an embarrassing situation for travelling support staff comprising Poncha and Bhuvneshwari Kumari.
Asked why Poncha was not with the team, PTI reported that Indian squash federation president Debendranath Sarangi sounded clueless as he answered, "National coach Poncha was very much with the team." PTI reported that the players, including Ghosal, confirmed they had not seen Poncha during the competition in Kuala Lumpur.
Poncha had told PTI last month that the SRFI had decided to rope in foreign coaches on an event-to-event basis rather than having one full-time, which is the norm in major Indian sports federations. A foreign expert was supposed to travel with the contingent to Kuala Lumpur but Sarangi said he is still awaiting sports ministry's approval on the appointment.
In football news, Spanish star Iker Casillas was discharged from a hospital in Portugal on Monday, and said his football future is uncertain. This comes five days after Casillas suffered a heart attack during training with his club.
He was admitted to a hospital last Wednesday after suffering what the Portuguese club called an "acute myocardial infarction" while training. Speaking to the media outside the hospital, Casillas said, "I feel much better. It will be rest for a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months. The truth is that I don't care. The important thing is to be here... I don't know what the future may bring... it's something that can happen to anyone and at any moment. It's hard to talk about, but you also have to be very grateful because I've been very lucky."
Portuguese media reported that Casillas had undergone surgery and that his season was over. Casillas, who turns 38 later this month, has played for Porto since 2015 and recently extended his contract with the club to next year, with the option of an additional 12 months.