Australian Open: Sania Mirza advances, Rohan Bopanna exits

Melbourne, Jan 20: Sania Mirza advanced to the women's doubles third round but Rohan Bopanna
was knocked out in his men's doubles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament here on
Friday (January 20).

Sania and her partner Barbora Strycova from Czech Republic beat Australian-Chinese pair of
Samantha Stosur and Shuai Zhang 6-1, 6-4.

The fourth seeds needed an hour and 21 minutes to win. The Indo-Czech pair will play against
Japan's Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato.

But Bopanna and his Uruguayan partner Pablo Cuevas lost to unseeded Australian pair of Alex
Bolt and Bradley Mousley in the second round 6-2, 6-7 (2), 4-6.

The 15th seed were beaten in one hour and 55 minutes. Bopanna's loss ended India's challenge in
the men's doubles competition after veteran Leander Peas, partnering Brazilian Andre Sa, and
Purav Raja and Divij Sharan lost in the first round on Thursday.

Sania-Barbora broke serve twice to claim an early 4-0 lead. That lead was enough for them to win
the first set comfortably 6-1.

Stosur-Zhang responded in the second set, breaking Sania's serve in the second game and then
consolidated holding their serve to go 3-0 ahead.

The Indo-Czech pair pulled level, winning the next three games straight and then capitalised on
another break to go 5-4 up.

They then saved five break points and required four match points to win the second set and the
contest.
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Johanna Konta grinds down Naomi Osaka in Australian Open second round

If Johanna Konta goes on to win the Australian Open it will be with the sort of controlled efficiency
she showed to overpower the Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on
day four.

The world No9, who absorbed her opponent’s best work in a lively start then ground her down, is
through to the third round in the toughest section of the women’s draw but playing with the sort of
consistency that makes her a genuine threat.

She squandered two break points in the fifth game and had to save one of her own in the eighth,
but Osaka was a little too eager in the shot and blew her chance, powerless to reach the fourth and
fifth aces to fly past her in just half an hour. Konta’s serving was phenomenal, hitting 89%, so the
Japanese teenager was doing well to even make a game of it.

Konta got another look on the Osaka serve in the ninth game, and this time she nailed it with an
angled backhand into the deuce corner, then finished the job to go a set up with chilling precision.

Although Osaka remained competitive, she could not handle Konta’s relentless attacks on either
wing and, nursing a strain in her left wrist, she suffered on the backhand as the British No1 drove
on to an impressive win in just over an hour on a warm, humidity-free morning.

She moved well and her repeatable, machine-like serving action provided a solid base for her open-
court game. Although there are tough matches in front of her if she is to match her achievements of
last year, when she made the semi-finals, Konta could not be in better shape to win her first major.

She made only 13 unforced errors, hit nine aces, one double fault and won 32 of 36 first serves.
Those were numbers that the promising Osaka, who saved two match points, could not cope with.

“I guess it’s surprising that the work and the travel is exactly the same as it always was,” she said
courtside when asked how her life had changed from being a hunter to the hunted. “I’m looking
forward to staying here as long as possible. Naomi is one of the up and coming players, with really
impressive results over the past year or so. I knew it was a given that I had to be there for every
single point.”

In the first round of the men’s doubles, Ken and Neal Skupski beat the Colombian 14th seeds Juan
Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 6-4. The Liverpool brothers might have played compatriot
Dan Evans and Nick Kyrgios in the next round, but the Australian withdrew after losing his singles
the previous night, gifting progress in the draw to Serbian Dušan Lajović and Croatia’s Viktor
Troicki.
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Gujarat's Motera to become 'world's biggest cricket stadium', foundation stone laid

Ahmedabad, Jan 17: Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) Vice President Parimal Nathwani, along
with other office bearers on Monday (Jan 16) laid foundation stone for the "world's biggest cricket
stadium", coming up in Motera area here.

The approximate cost for building the stadium is Rs Rs 700 crore. On the occasion, Nathwani
announced that the construction of the new stadium, being built in place of the old 'Sardar Patel
Gujarat Stadium', will be over in two years.

"Upon completion, this new stadium at Motera will be the biggest cricket stadium in the world with
seating capacity of 1.10 lakh, putting behind the Melbourne stadium (in Australia), which
accommodates 90,000 spectators," claimed Nathwani.

He also said that noted architect firm 'M/s. Populous' has been roped in as the principle architect to
design the stadium. This is the same firm which had designed the Melbourne Cricket Ground, said
Nathwani.

The VP was accompanied by GCA joint secretary Jay Shah, son of GCA and BJP chief Amit
Shah. Several other office bearers of GCA along with Gujarat skipper Pathiv Patel were present on
the occasion.

The old stadium, which had seating capacity of 54,000 was razed recently by the GCA to build the
new stadium, spread across 63 acres.

"The total cost of the the project is estimated at Rs 700 crore. The stadium will have 76 corporate
boxes, four dressing rooms, a club house and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Engineering firm
'L&T' has awarded the work to build this stadium through tender process" said Nathwani.

To cope-up with the traffic congestion issues, which is common during matches, Nathwani
announced that the stadium will have three entry points instead of one.

"In the new stadium, traffic will be segregated in three directions. Apart from the old Sabarmati to
Motera road, there is a planning to integrate Metro Rail, which will pass from here. Third option is
to link the Sabarmati Riverfront road with the stadium," said Nathwani.
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Azharuddin’s nomination for HCA president rejected

The nomination of former India cricket captain Mohd Azharuddin for the post of presidentship in
the Hyderabad Cricket Association elections (scheduled to be held on January 17) was rejected by
the Returning Officer K. Rajeev Reddy.

Mr. Rajeev Reddy informed The Hindu on Saturday morning that he had to reject Azhar’s
nomination as the latter had not given “a satisfactory explanation whether the BCCI ban on him in
the wake of the match-fixing scandal was not lifted and that he failed to provide adequate proof
that he was enrolled as a voter”.

It may be recalled here that Azhar filed his nomination on behalf of the National Cricket Club.

Sources close to Azhar have now hinted he would take up the issue with the Justice Lodha panel as
he feels denied the opportunity as per the panel recommendations.

“The panel recommendations have clearly suggested that former international cricketers are eligible
to contest and that Azhar even submitted the 2012 High Court judgement copy regarding the
setting aside of the BCCI ban. But, the decision of the Returning Officer seems to be motivated and
not fair,” says one official who was closely involved in Azhar filing the nomination but refused to
disclose his name at this juncture.

For his part, the Returning Officer makes it clear that once the list of candidates is displayed there is
no way going back by him and it is for the aggrieved parties to take up whatever follow-up action
they deem fit.

This effectively means that there will now two candidates – Vidyuth Jaisimha and Dr. G.
Vivekanand - in the fray for the President’s post.

Interestingly, for the Secretary’s post, only T. Seshnarayan, former Executive Committee member
and secretary of Bharat Cricket Club, figures in the list of candidates in the fray which means he
would be elected unanimously.

But, there are many senior HCA office-bearers who strongly feel “that this whole process would be
declared as null and void as it is in violation of the Supreme Court judgement with regard to the
conduct of the elections”.
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Free kick specialist Messi fires Barca into cup last eight

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as holders
Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Wednesday to overturn a deficit from the first leg and
advance to the quarter-finals of the King's Cup.

A Luis Suarez volley put Barca ahead in the 35th minute while Brazil international Neymar earned
and converted a penalty three minutes into the second half to score his first goal since October and
put Barca in front in the tie after losing the first leg 2-1.

Athletic responded immediately though, substitute defender Gorka Elustondo crossing for
Barcelona-born Enric Saborit to head home in the 51st minute. The goal emboldened the visitors
for a 10-minute spell but Barca withstood the pressure.

Messi had squandered two free kicks in the first half but avoided the possibility of extra time and
penalties by curling a dead ball in off the post in the 79th, his second set piece goal in four days.

"We didn't lose our composure, we created lots of chances and I think we deserved to go
through," Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters after a first win in 2017 following the defeat in
the first leg and Sunday's 1-1 draw with Villarreal.

"We controlled the game today and Athletic practically had no chances."

Barcelona had been livid with the referee's decisions in the first leg after Gerard Pique and Neymar
were denied penalties and Bilbao's Aritz Aduriz was fortunate not to be shown a red card.

The Nou Camp exploded with rage on Wednesday when Neymar was harshly ruled offside as he
squared for Suarez to find the net.

Barca channeled their sense of injustice to craft a brilliant opening goal, however, Messi wriggling
free of two players in midfield to slip the ball to Neymar who turned his marker and crossed for
Suarez to acrobatically volley home.

It was the Uruguayan's 100th goal for the club since joining from Liverpool in 2014.

Barca struck again at the start of the second half when Neymar cut into the area from the left and
danced past one defender before falling over the body of Eneko Boveda and winning a penalty.

The Brazilian coolly converted to score for the first time since the 4-0 win over Manchester City on
Oct. 19.
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FICA urges overseas players not to play PSL final in Lahore

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) has suggested the overseas
players in a report to decline participating in the second edition final of Pakistan Super League
(PSL) that will be held in Lahore.

According to FICA, level of risk in Pakistan remains "at an extremely elevated state" and that "an
acceptable level of participant security and safety cannot be expected or guaranteed."

Earlier, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officially verified to conduct PSL final of second edition in
Lahore after taking the decision in a governing board session held in Karachi.

According to PCB spokesperson, the final will be held on March 7 and if overseas players do not
agree to play in Lahore due to security concerns then new drafting will be held in last week of
February to select local players or those who are ready to play in Pakistan.

The league matches of second edition of PSL are scheduled to be played in Dubai and Sharjah
from February 9 this year.

The spokesman of PCB also said that the board has taken all the precautionary measures including
four bulletproof buses and best air travel for players for final in Lahore.

But the latest FICA report may reduce the chances of participation of overseas players. Although
FICA does not have the power to stop players from participating in PSL final, but this report might
influence some governing bodies not to issue No Objection Certificate (NOC) to players as FICA
has warned the players to “check their insurance coverage" with a hint that it could be invalidated
by travelling to Pakistan.

FICA says its report is based upon "updated security advice we have received" from its "expert
security consultants."
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Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja take world cricket by storm with this feat

Ravindra Jadeja’s career-best bowling performance in Chennai propelled him to the second spot in
the International Cricket Council’s rankings for Test bowlers on Wednesday. He sits behind India’s
top off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

According to the International Cricket Council, this is only the second time the top two spots in the
bowlers’ rankings have been occupied by Indians.

The first time was when legendary left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi and leg-spinner Bhagwath
Chandrasekhar were ranked one and two in 1974.

Ravindra Jadeja recorded his best bowling performance in an innings by taking 7/48 on Tuesday
which paved the way for India’s biggest win against England by an innings and 75 runs. Jadeja’s
previous best figures were 6/138 against South Africa in Durban in 2013-14.

On Tuesday, the slow left-arm spinner from Saurashtra also took a match haul of 10/154, his best
bowling figures in a Test surpassing an 8/46 against South Africa at Mohali in 2015-16.

Jadeja’s performance has earned him 66 ICC rankings points and brought him within eight points
of Ravichandran Ashwin, who has 887 points. Another left-arm spinner, Sri Lanka’s Rangana
Herath is ranked third with 867 points. Jadeja finished with 26 wickets in the five-match series
versus England which India won 4-0. Ashwin bagged 28 wickets.
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Virat Kohli named Team India ODI, T20 captain

Mumbai: Virat Kohli is set take full control of the Indian cricket team across all formats to carry
forward the legacy of World Cup winning former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The selectors, who meet here on Friday to pick the squad for the three-match ODI series and T20I
series against England are expected to name Test skipper Kohli as full time captain for the limited
overs cricket as well.


Dhoni stepped down as ODI and T20I skipper on Wednesday. His decision may be unexpected
but his timing was perfect, as selectors had given the signal that Kohli is ready to take over the
leading role in the shorter formats as well.

Dhoni has made himself available to play under a new captain so he still remains the best bet as a
wicket keeper-cum batsman. The selectors have a job in hands as many players are injured giving
hope to fringe players to either make comeback or break into the Indian team.

BCCI’s Chief Executive Officer Rahul Johri is expected to perform the duty of the secretary of the
Board in place of the sacked Ajay Shirke. Two key batsmen Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane
who performed openers role in the New Zealand ODI series are injured, which may result in recall
for Shikhar Dhawan, if fit. K.L. Rahul missed the ODI series against New Zealand due to an injury
and he too can fill the slot of an opener.

Suresh Raina’s comeback in the ODI team will be on the table, though he is expected to make into
T20 squad without much fuss. Cheteshwar Pujara is also keen to play limited overs and his form in
Tests and in the ongoing DY Patil T20 Cup makes him a good candidate for discussion.

Key off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin didn’t feature in the Ranji Trophy knockouts for Tamil Nadu
citing injury and selectors might not risk him. Ashwin who was rested for ODI series against Kiwis,
played all five Tests against England along with left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and both may be
rested for atleast one format. Spinners Jayant Yadav and Axar Patel have also been injured and
their fitness remains a concern.
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MS Dhoni steps down as captain of India limited-overs sides

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has stepped down as captain of the Indian team. He will, however, be
available for the selection for the One-Day International and Twenty20 International series against
England and the same has been conveyed to the senior selection committee. The committee will
meet on Friday (January 06) to select the team for the three-match ODI series against England
starting on January 15.

Although the next captain was not announced, Virat Kohli, currently captaining the Test team, will
take over the mantle.

Dhoni has unprecedented success as a limited-overs captain, winning the ICC World Twenty20 in
2007, the ICC World Cup in 2011 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.

"Mahendra Singh Dhoni has informed the BCCI, that he wishes to step down as the captain of the
Indian cricket team from the One-Day Internationals and the T20 Internationals formats of the
game," Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said in a release.

Dhoni holds the record for most matches as captain of an international side, with 331 games across
formats. He is also the only player to captain in 50-plus matches in each of the three formats apart
from being the only captain to win all three ICC Trophies - World Cup, WT20 and Champions
Trophy.

Having made his international debut in 2004, Dhoni quickly rose up the ranks in Indian cricket. He
was named captain of the T20I side in 2007 and had a massive impact as he led the team to the
inaugural World T20 title. He then became the ODI captain after Rahul Dravid relinquished the
post, and eventually, ascended to full-time Test captaincy once current India coach Anil Kumble
retired. He relinquished Test captaincy and retired from the longest form of the game in 2014 but
continued to captain the side in limited-overs.

His last series as captain came against New Zealand at home, where he led the Indian side to a 3-2
series win.

Mr Rahul Johri, Chief Executive Officer of the BCCI said, "On the behalf of every Indian cricket
fan and the BCCI, I would like to thank MS Dhoni for his outstanding contribution as the captain of
the Indian team across all formats. Under his leadership, Indian team has touched new heights and
his achievements will remain etched forever in the annals of Indian cricket."
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National equestrian championship named after police horse Shaktiman

It was not just beauty but skill and strength, of both the horses and the men manoeuvring the
animal, that thrilled scores of audiences at the 35th All-India Police Equestrian meet that began on
Monday.

The nine-day meet, which would see the sportsmanship of 460 riders and the strength of 290
horses, kicked off with a stunning march past of horse mounted officers of different State police
departments and paramilitary outfits of the country.

The event’s most thrilling experience was, however, the risky yet nail biting event called the six-bar
jump, during which riders manoeuvre horses to jump over six hurdles, each placed 11 meters apart.
While the performance of the horse-rider teams from Bihar, Rajasthan, Border Security Force, and
Delhi performed went well, it was the horse, Akash, and its rider Radhe Shyam from the Delhi
Mounter Police who rose to fame by winning the match in exactly 45 minutes.


Interestingly, the meet was named after Shaktiman, the horse that succumbed to injuries caused
during a Bharatiya Janata Party rally in Dehradun last year. Speaking at the event after inaugurating
it, Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel said, “Shaktiman was the best
horse and this national meet is named after him. We are honouring his memory.”

The Minister also alluded Shakiman to epic character Rana Pratap’s horse Chetak, which was
considered to be a paramount of vitrue and love for its master. He congratulated the Sardar
Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy here for maintaining high standards, and urged the
trainees to work towards making India a better place like the NPA.

The performance of each rider was met with much excitement by the crowd, which included 69
probationers of the National Police Academy. While each successful jump was met with cheer,
each fault faced sighs too.

The participants of home terrain, the National Police Academy, were welcomed with applauses
and cheers. Teams of Assam police, Assam Rifles, Gujarat police, Madhya Pradesh police, and
West Bengal police had attended the event, apart from the Telangana police team.

The meet ended with the four champions of the six bar jump team and the horses they rode having
a formal meeting with the Minister, who seemed amused at shaking hands of the mounted officers.

The winners were Radhe Shyam from the Delhi Mounter Police who bagged the first prize, Jitender
Kumar from the Rajasthan Mounted Police who rode Sonali the horse to win the second place,
and the third prize winners (shared) Sumesh Singh of the BSF on Saloni the horse and Md. Gul
Hassan of Bihar police who rode Komal the horse.
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Ricky Ponting finally joins Australian set-up...for now

Cricket Australia has finally got Ricky Ponting on board as a coach, but at the moment just on a
consultancy basis for the Twenty20 series in February.

As flagged by The Daily Telegraph a month ago, Ponting will join former teammate Justin Langer’s
coaching staff for the random three-match campaign against Sri Lanka, which clashes with
Australia’s Test tour of India.

Australia has been chasing Ponting’s services for years, desperate to get one of the sharpest minds
in cricket on their side of the fence.

Ponting already has an Indian Premier League title on his resume as a coach but his heavy business
commitments make him a difficult man to tie down.

At this stage Cricket Australia are unsure whether Ponting harbours further ambitions of becoming
involved in the system, but they will hope this is the beginning of a fruitful partnership.

This is Ponting’s first official involvement with Australian cricket since retirement and his coaching
triple act alongside Langer and Jason Gillespie -- where they will lead the country’s best Big Bash
cricketers into battle in Twenty20 internationals -- will be watched with interest.

"I always said when I retired that I wanted to get back involved and what better way to do it than
alongside a couple of my best mates in cricket, Justin Langer and Jason Gillespie," said Ponting.
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New Zealand dismantle Bangladesh to clean sweep Series.

In their first bat together in an international, Kane Williamson and Neil Broom dismantled
Bangladesh to help New Zealand win the final one-day international by eight wickets in the 42nd
over and take the series 3-0 in Nelson.

The result is a boost to their ODI prospects for the summer with a return Chappell-Hadlee series
against Australia and five matches against South Africa marked on the schedule.

New Zealand have never lost an ODI to Bangladesh in 10 fixtures at home.

With Martin Guptill straining his left hamstring, Williamson and Broom came together at 16 for one
in the third over. Tom Latham had been trapped lbw in the second, and a sense of vulnerability
prevailed when Broom was dropped on nought by first slip Imrul Kayes from Mustifizur Rahman
off his fifth ball.

The pair's partnership of 179 was a record for any wicket against Bangladesh and surpassed the
best for the second wicket against any country.

The previous holders had been Williamson and Guptill with 159 last summer against Pakistan.

Broom made 97 off as many balls and Williamson finished on 95 off 116.

To paraphrase Ian Dury and the Blockheads, they hit the tourists with their rhythm sticks.
Williamson was delicate and precise; it wouldn't surprise if he'd asked the 12th men for a scalpel.
Broom, coming off his maiden ODI century on Thursday, offered control and grunt; it wouldn't
surprise if he'd requested a sledgehammer.

Irrespective, the brain and brawn combination made compelling viewing. Light rain fell at various
stages, but New Zealand gave the tentacles of the Duckworth-Method a wide berth. Once
established, Williamson and Broom ensured Bangladesh needed to take at least two wickets for
parity once the game became live beyond the 20th over of the second innings.
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Mitchell Starc helps Australia to innings win over Pakistan at MCG

You had to imagine it in the first place to believe it, but that is precisely the kind of foresight Steve
Smith brought to the MCG today in conjuring a dramatic Australian win in the second Test. It was
to the credit of the Australian captain that a day of cricket which initially promised little provided
such riches.

The statistical record of this game will reflect something far less enticing than the madcap scenes of
the final day, where Australia had an innings in hand but competed against the clock as much as
their brittle opponents, finally sealing victory as shadows covered the arena in the final hour of play.

Smith had a notable co-conspirator today in the form of Mitchell Starc, who started and finished his
side’s remarkable comeback. Any memories of the paceman’s lethargic opening four days in this
game will be quickly forgotten. Not even Keith Miller could have dominated in the two primary
disciplines of the game the way he did today for 84 runs and four wickets. Yasir Shah was the final
Pakistani batsman to depart amid chaotic celebrations when he spooned Starc to Jackson Bird at
mid-on.

At various points Pakistan looked capable of hanging on in this game. There were 18 overs
remaining in the day and 28 runs to play with when Sarfraz Ahmed stood undefeated on 43,
looking good to establish a small, potentially game-saving lead for his side. But again it was Starc
who snaked one through the defences of Pakistan’s only remaining hope. Wahab Riaz followed for
a five-ball duck – also bowled by the left-arm quick – before the last rites were enacted.

Friday’s play began with few competitive prospects outside of a punishment session for Pakistan’s
bowlers, but in the end it was their batsmen who suffered the greater reputational damage, having
crumpled in a heap to lose a Test they had dominated for two full days.
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Suresh Kalmadi turns down post of IOA life president after Sports Ministry's notice

Former Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi has declined the post of life president of the Indian
Olympic Association, according to reports. This was after the Sports Ministry issued a notice to the
IOA saying that all ties with them would be cut until Kalmadi and former president of the national
Olympic body, Abhay Singh Chautala, were removed from their posts as lifetime presidents.

“Suresh Kalmadi has informed IOA President N Ramachandran that he won’t accept the life
president’s post,” IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta told The Indian Express. “It was a sudden
decision. A member proposed the names during our Annual General Meeting and [IOA] president
approved it. It wasn’t on the agenda,” he added.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel had earlier said that both Kalmadi and Chautala were “facing serious
corruption charges”, adding that he would seek a report on their appointments. Kalmadi is accused
of corruption during his tenure as IOA president during which India hosted the 2010
Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. The IOA had been suspended by the International Olympic
Committee during Chautala’s term as president between 2012 and 2014 for fielding charge-
sheeted candidates at the elections.

Chautala had hit back at Goel, saying there was no corruption case against him. “I was surprised
by the reaction of Sports Minister Vijay Goel. He was claiming that there are criminal and
corruption cases against me. The case against me is not a criminal case, it is a political case,”
Chautala said.

“Mr Goel has failed in his responsibility as a sports minister. I would advise him to fulfill his
responsibility as sports minister because if he does that, our medal count will increase manifold and
he will get credit for that. Instead of getting into a controversy without knowing full facts, he should
focus on his job,” Chautala added.
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