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Extremely severe cyclone Fani to hit Odisha coast on Friday afternoon

The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, on Friday afternoon, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm, Fani, over westcentral Bay of Bengal, was very likely to cross the Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri, tomorrow afternoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said here today.
 
The IMD has already issued a cyclone warning for the coastal areas of Odisha and West Bengal and Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of Andhra Pradesh.
 
In a bulletin issued at 1230 hours today, the IMD said Fani had moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of about 16 kmph in the previous six hours and lay centred at 1130 hours IST near latitude 16.7°N and longitude 84.8°E, about 360 km south-southwest of Puri (Odisha), 190 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and 550 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal). 
 
"It is very likely to move north-northeastwards and cross Odisha Coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, around Puri by the afternoon of 3rd May with maximum sustained wind speed of 170-180 kmph gusting to 200 kmph," the bulletin said.
 
The cyclone is being tracked by Doppler Weather Radars Vishakhapatnam & Machilipatnam.
 
The bulletin said light to moderate rainfall would occur over most places in North Andhra Pradesh with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts and isolated heavy to extremely heavy falls (>20 cm) over Srikakulam district today.
 
There could be heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Srikakulam district tomorrow, it said.
 
In  south coastal and adjoining interior Odisha, the IMD said there could be light to moderate rainfall at most places today, with heavy to very heavy rainfall and extremely heavy falls over Ganjam & Gajapati districts at isolated places.
 
"It is likely to increase with moderate rainfall at most places and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places over coastal Odisha and adjoining districts of interior Odisha on 3rd. Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over Balasore, Mayurbhanj districts of north Odisha on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin also forecast light to light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places very likely over coastal and adjoining districts of West Bengal tomorrow; and heavy to very falls at isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal on May 4.
 
"Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy falls at isolated places over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim on 4th May," it said.
 
The bulletin said Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya would experience light to moderate rainfall at most places, with isolated heavy to very heavy falls on May 4 and 5. There could be isolated extremely heavy falls over Assam and Meghalaya on May 4.
 
There could also light to moderate rainfall at many places over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura on May 4, with isolated heavy falls.
 
The bulletin said gale winds, with speed reaching 180-190 kmph, gusting to 210 kmph, were very likely to prevail over westcentral Bay of Bengal around the system centre during the next 24 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
It said squally winds, with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, were very likely to prevail along and off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha Coasts and become gale wind, speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph, from tonight. It is very likely to become 170-180 kmph, gusting to 200 kmph, along and off south Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh (Srikakulam district) coasts; and 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph along and off remaining districts of coastal Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh (Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram Districts) by tomorrow forenoon for the subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter.
 
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"Squally wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph gusting to 60 kmph is very likely along & off West Bengal coast from 2nd May evening. It is very likely become gale wind speed reaching 60-70 kmph gusting to 85 kmph from 3rd May afternoon and become 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph from 4th May early morning for subsequent 12 hours and decrease thereafter," it said.
 
The sea condition will be phenomenal over westcentral Bay of Bengal, off north Andhra Pradesh coasts, till tomorrow and over northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha and West Bengal till May 4.
 
Sea conditions are very likely to be very rough to high off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, along and off south Andhra Pradesh coasts till May 3.
 
The bulletin warned that storm surge of 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide was very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.
 
Fishermen were advised not to venture into deep sea areas and those out in deep sea in the above aeas were advised to return to the coasts.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause extensive damage to kutcha houses and old pucca and badly managed pucca structures in Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha.
 
It said there could be extensive uprooting of communication and  power poles. There could also be disruption of rail and road links and extensive damage to standing crops, plantations and orchards. Large boats and ships may get torn from their moorings.
 
The IMD suggested total suspension of fishing operations, extensive evacuation of people from coastal areas, and diversion or suspension of rail and road traffic. People in affected areas have been advised to remain indoors.
 
The cyclone could also cause damage, on a lesser scale, in Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Balasore districts of Odisha and east and west Medinipur, south and north 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata districts of West Bengal and Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam and Vijayanagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh, the bulletin added.
 
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Modi attacks Congress, says law won't spare those who toyed with national security

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a sharp attack on Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi on Saturday saying the law will not spare anyone who "toyed" with national security and suggested links between them and Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
 
Better roadways, trains & cheaper airline fares boost ease of living: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a sharp attack on Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi on Saturday saying the law will not spare anyone who "toyed" with national security between 2004 and 2014 and suggested links between them and arrested British national Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case.
 
Addressing a public rally here, he said the "society of thieves" was ganging up to remove the country's 'chowkidar' who was out to expose and catch them. 
 
Without taking the names of the either the party or its leaders, Modi said the Congress conspired to weaken the country's defence forces when it was in power between 2004 and 2014. He also congratulated "India's first woman Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for exposing those who misled the nation and played with the nation's security for their own entertainment."
 
"Between 2004 and 2014, they conspired to weaken the country's defence forces. The nation is now understanding that. And when our government is bringing the defence forces of the country out of their web of conspiracy, they are feeling pricked," he said.
 
Modi said the truth was hurting the Congress and its leadership because they were being exposed. 
 
"One letter of the middleman of helicopter scam and the 'raazdar' (holder) of Congress' secrets Christian Michel -- who has been extradited -- has exposed that he had deep friendship with top Congress leaders. He was well aware of every file movement (on chopper deal) in the Prime Minister's office. 
 
"Possibly, the middlemen knew more than even the Prime Minister at that time. He even got all information of meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Security which he used to send abroad," he said.
 
"I fail to understand if the Congress ran the government or Michel 'mama's darbar' (uncle's court). I want to clearly state today that investigation will take place against all those who worked for the interest of the middlemen instead of national interest," he added.
 
Modi said his government was taking strong decisions for the nation's security. "I assure you that those who did injustice to the nation's defence forces will be brought to justice. I assure you that law won't spare anyone."
 
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The Prime Minister started his speech with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram' chants and said it was necessitated because "some people in our country have problem with these slogans as well".
 
In a reference to Rahul Gandhi, he said the leader of the country's oldest party asks why Modi greets people with 'Bharat Ma Ki Jai' slogans. 
 
"In Madhya Pradesh, a new government has been formed -- which has not even won a complete majority. And look at that government's priority -- the first thing the hung Assembly led by the Congress did was to attack 'Vande Mataram'," Modi said, referring to the Madhya Pradesh's order suspending singing of Vande Mataram on the first working day of every month in the Secretariat.
 
"It (the order) kicked up a storm and now they are trying to find a way out," he said. 
 
"Second thing they did was to try and stop the pension of those who fought against the Emergency to defend India's democracy. But due to efforts of the BJP workers, they had to take back their order on 'Vande Mataram', and now they would also have to reinstate the pension of those who fought against Emergency," the Prime Minister said.
 
He also attacked the Odisha government for not doing enough for women and said the Central government's efforts for women empowerment were not reaching the women of Odisha as "the state government is not serious about women welfare". 
 
He said Odisha was lagging behind on parameters related to women health and well-being.
 
IANS
 

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Cyclone Titli triggers flood-like situation in Odisha

Heavy rains triggered by the severe cyclonic storm Titli have caused flood-like situations in several districts of Odisha on Friday.
 
Cyclone Titli makes landfall in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Heavy rains triggered by the severe cyclonic storm Titli have caused flood-like situations in several districts of Odisha on Friday.
 
The situation remains vulnerable, especially in Ganjam, Rayagada and Gajapati districts where the remote areas have been cut off due to the incessant rains after Titli hit the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh coast on Thursday morning.
 
During a review meeting via video conferencing, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday directed the three district collectors to closely monitor the situation and shift the people living in vulnerable areas to safer places.
 
He directed them to focus on early restoration of power supply and emergency services.
 
The Chief Minister has also asked the collectors to submit crop and house damage assessment reports within seven days.
 
Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said two Indian Navy choppers from Vishakapatnam will be pressed into action in Ganjam district to expedite the relief and rescue operations.
 
"The two choppers are on their way to Ganjam. They will carry out relief and rescue operations in Aska and Puroshotam areas," said Padhi.
 
He said 14 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and 12 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) have been deployed in various districts.
 
Road and electricity restoration works were also in full swing in the affected districts.
 
Reacting to casualty reports, the Chief Secretary said: "We have seen media reports of the deaths of two or three persons in these districts. We are verifying it."
 
The water is flowing above danger level in Vansadhara, Rusikulya and Jalaka rivers. 
 
A total of 16 blocks have received about 200-300 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours while 60 blocks received 100-200 mm rainfall in the state. 
 
Some blocks received more than 300 mm of rainfall.
 
IANS

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8 die as cyclone Titli batters Andhra, Odisha coast

A very severe cyclonic storm, Titli, unleashed havoc in north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south coastal Odisha on Thursday, claiming eight lives in Andhra and causing widespread destruction, officials said.
 
Cyclone Titli makes landfall in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
A very severe cyclonic storm, Titli, unleashed havoc in north coastal Andhra Pradesh and south coastal Odisha on Thursday, claiming eight lives in Andhra and causing widespread destruction, officials said.
 
The cyclone, which made landfall between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha early on Thursday, triggered widespread rains in the two states, uprooted trees, electricity poles, communication towers, damaged houses and crops and snapped electricity supply.
 
Srikakulam and Vijayanagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh were affected by the cyclone, which hit the coast near Palasa close to the border with Odisha. Srikakulam district bore the brunt as the strong winds uprooted a large number of coconut trees.
 
Officials said five deaths were reported from Srikakulam district while three persons were killed in neighbouring Vijayanagaram district. Six fishermen were among the dead.
 
According to the Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre, Titli crossed between North Andhra and South Odisha coast near Palasa with wind speed of 140-150 km per hour.
 
Parts of the two Andhra districts received heavy rainfall triggered by the cyclone. A few places in Srikakulam district got over 20 cm rainfall, flooding the low-lying areas and roads.
 
Uprooted trees fell on the roads, disrupting vehicular traffic. The state-owned road transport corporation suspended all bus services on the Andhra-Odisha border area.
 
Several trains were cancelled or diverted due to the cyclone.
 
According to East Coast Railway, railway stations were damaged at several places. The station at Palasa suffered massive damage. Teams of railway officials were studying the impact of cyclone between Palasa and Brahmpur.
 
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu reached Visakhapatnam on Thursday evening and left for Srikakulam by road to review the situation.
 
Titli triggered heavy rainfall in eight districts in Odisha. However, there was no loss of life in the state.
 
Heavy rains lashed Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore districts as Titli left behind uprooted trees and displaced three lakh people.
 
Odisha is facing a possible flood in its coastal belt on Thursday, an official said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places were very likely in Odisha in the next 24 hours.
 
"We believe that the entire state, except some western parts, is likely to receive rain throughout the day. Depending upon the rainfall, we may see some flood in coastal Odisha. However, there is no flood-like situation as of now," said Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi.
 
"There may be flooding of the Vansadhara river as Gajapati and Rayagada districts received heavy rainfall due to the cyclone," he added.
 
The officer said that Gajapati district, which was most affected, received more than 200 mm of rainfall while Mohana block in the district received the maximum rainfall of 315 mm.
 
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday reviewed the cyclone situation.
 
Around three lakh people have been evacuated in the coastal state and 1,112 relief camps set up for the evacuees. As many as 105 pregnant women in Ganjam and 18 in Jgatsinghpur were shifted to hospitals.
 
All schools, colleges and anganwadis would remain closed on Thursday and Friday. Trees have been uprooted in large numbers in the coastal belt.
 
The system is very likely to move northwestwards for next 12 hours and then re-curve northeastwards towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha.
 
The coastal alert has been put at 10 -- the highest with fishermen prohibited from venturing into the sea for the next few days.
 
IANS
 

Six coaches of Utkal Express derail near Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh

Six coaches of the 18477 Utkal Express, from Puri in Odisha to Haridwar in Uttarakhand, derailed at Khatauli, about 25 km from Muzzafarnagar, in Uttar Pradesh, this evening.
 
The mishap occurred around 5.46 pm today, railway sources said, adding that details of casualties were not immediately available.
 
Television pictures from the scene showed that one of the coaches had climbed on to the top of another coach, and one of its ends had crashed into a building on the side of the track.
 
Gas cutters were being used to cut through the mangled steel to pull out those trapped inside the coaches. 
 
"Our focus right now is on rescue and relief operations. Officers and staff from the nearby railway stations have reached the spot," Ministry of Railways spokesman Anil Saxena told journalists in New Delhi.
 
Khatauli is located on the Meerut-Saharanpur section of the Delhi Division of Northern Railway.
 
"We have geared up our rescue and relief machinery. Senior officials of Delhi Division have rushed to the accident site. Staff and officers from the nearby stations have already reached there," Mr. Saxena said.
 
He said personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would also reach the site soon.
 
The train had left Puri yesterday and was due to reach Haridwar at 9 pm today, they said.
 
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on micro-blogging site Twitter that he was personally monitoring the situation and had instructed senior officers to reach the spot immediately and ensure speedy rescue and relief operations. He said medical vans had been rushed to the site of the accident.
 
"Have instructed Chairman Rly Board, Member Traffic to oversee rescue and relief operations. I am personally monitoring situation," he said. "Instructed General Manager, other senior officers to ensure all possible help to the people."
 
"In close touch with @CMOfficeUP , State Government officials, district administration to coordinate rescue and relief operations," he said.
 
Mr. Prabhu said he had instructed the Member, Engineering of the Railway Board, the Director General, Health and other senior officers to rush to the scene.
 
"Have ordered inquiry into the unfortunate accident to ascertain the cause. Strict action will be taken against any lapse," he added.
 
Mr. Prabhu said Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and Minister of State for Water Resources Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan were on their way to the scene of the accident.
 
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told journalists that two State Ministers -- Satish Mahana and Suresh Rana -- have also left for the spot.
 
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India test-fires BrahMos missile with indigenous components

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India today successfully test-fired its supersonic cruise missile BrahMos featuring Indian propulsion system, airframe, power supply and other major indigenous components.
 
The test-firing was conducted at 1020 hours today from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur in Odisha.
 
"The missile was successfully test-fired for its full range of 290-km during the launch jointly conducted by DRDO and BrahMos Aerospace," an official press release said.
 
"With this successful mission, the indigenous content in the formidable weapon has reached a high value, thus bolstering India’s defence indigenisation and the flagship ‘Make in India’ programme," it said.
 
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated team DRDO, BrahMos and the industry for today's successful mission.
 
Secretary, Department of Defence, R&D and Chairman DRDO, Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy and DG, Missiles and Strategic Systems M S R Prasad also lauded the successful launch. 
 
BrahMos Director General Sudhir Kumar Mishra, Director DRDL Dashrath Ram and ITR Director B K Das coordinated and witnessed the entire mission at the launch site and termed the successful flight test as a landmark achievement in enhancing India’s “Make in India” capabilities. 
 
Jointly developed by India and Russia, the versatile BrahMos has been operationalised in the Indian Armed Forces with all the three services.
 
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Kovind to visit Odisha, Jharkhand and Bengal from Sep 27 to Oct 1

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President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal from September 27 to October 1.
 
On September 28, the President will present Colours to the Corps of Army Air Defence at Gopalpur in Odisha, an official press release said.
 
On the following day, Kovind will visit Vikas Bharti, Bishunpur, Gumla in Jharkhand.
 
On September 30, he will attend the 33rd convocation of Ranchi University.  
 
On October 1, the President will visit the National Institute for Locomotor Disabilities in Kolkata, West Bengal, the release added.
 
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BHEL commissions 1320 MW supercritical power project in Odisha

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The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had successfully commissioned the 1320 MW IB Thermal Power Station (2x660MW) in Odisha.
 
Located in Jharsuguda district of Odisha, the project is owned by Odisha Power Generation Corporation Limited (OPGC), a joint venture company of the Government of Odisha and AES, a US-based energy company. 
 
BHEL had previously set up two units of 210 MW at IB Thermal Power Station which have been in operation for more than 20 years, a press release from the company said.
 
A substantial portion of power generated from the project will be supplied to the Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO), it said.
 
BHEL’s scope of work in the project encompassed design, engineering, manufacturing, supply, erection and commissioning of steam turbines, generators, boiler, associated auxiliaries and electricals, besides state-of-the-art Controls & Instrumentation (C&I) and electrostatic precipitators (ESPs).
 
The key equipment for the project was manufactured by BHEL at its Haridwar, Trichy, Hyderabad, Ranipet, Bhopal and Bengaluru works, while the construction of the plant was undertaken by the company's Power Sector - Eastern Region, Kolkata, the release added.
 
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1 killed, 3 feared trapped in MCL coal mine in Odisha (Lead)

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A coal miner was killed and three are feared trapped after a dump slide at an open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd. (MCL) in Odisha's Talcher, said an official on Wednesday.
 
At least nine have been injured in the incident.
 
"Body of a missing coal miner was recovered while the rescue operation was underway to search for remaining three workers trapped in debris following strata collapse last night here at Bharatpur open cast project in Talcher Coalfields of MCL," said an MCL statement.
 
It said labourers working in the night shift at Bharatpur open cast mine came under a dump slide due to a strata failure.
 
The accident occurred between 11 p.m.-11.30 p.m. on Tuesday when a portion of earth broke loose, trapping 13 workers and machinery at work, it said.
 
The fellow labourers and rescue teams immediately swung into action and rescued nine workers, who were shifted to the company's Central Hospital at Talcher for treatment of minor injuries.
 
While one body has been recovered, the rescue operation was underway with the help of MCL's mines rescue team, local police and MCL security personnel to search for the three missing workers.
 
The Director (Technical/Operations) and the Director (Personnel) are overseeing the rescue operations and an inquiry committee, under the General Manager (Safety and Rescue), has started an investigation to ascertain the cause of strata failure, the statement said.
 
IANS
 

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Commonwealth TT: India makes clean sweep of all seven gold medals at stake

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Indian paddlers clinched all the seven medals at the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships which concluded at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
 
The domination of Indian paddlers at the championships could be gauged from the fact that all finals today featured only the home players, making it more of a national event than an international one. In the final analysis, India won seven gold—the best ever haul—five silver and three bronze medals to be the table toppers. 
 
G. Sathiyan was expected to lead the individual medal tally but could not surmount the rampaging Harmeet Desai as he faltered when it mattered the most against the 26-year-old. Desai, who brought India from the brink to help it win team gold, yet again proved his mettle in the singles final.
 
But the best thing that happened at the championships was that no individual could replicate the gold-winning performance in other events.
 
Indeed, no one deserved to lose the singles final, but Desai deserved more to win the title. After being in arrears (0-2), he brought out the best in a crunch situation to outwit favourite Sathiyan. A particular rally in the fourth game which brought a winning point to Desai must have been really demoralizing for Sathiyan. Equally important was the win by the Surat boy in the next which kept lingering until he sealed it 17-15. No doubt, Sathiyan made it 3-3 after trailing for the first time, but the Gujarat lad played a great game to wrap it up in the decider.
 
Earlier, Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal failed to counter the fury of Anthony Amalraj and Manav Thakkar who claimed the men's doubles gold, downing the top pair 3-1, after the Indians had banished the Singpore and England pairs, respectively, in the semi-finals.
 
In women's singles, Ayhika Mukherjee seized the great opportunity to win her maiden gold in the championships when she blanked out Madurika Patkar 4-0. Madhurika was absolutely inert at least in the first three games despite her attacking posture. But Ayhika was clever enough to take pace off the ball, forcing her opponent make all mistakes. The former national champion showed glimpse of a fightback but Ayhika, after frittering away three match-points, won the fourth for a well-deserved victory.
 
In fact, Madhurika also had some harrowing moments in the semi-final against Sreeja Akula. The little girl from Telangana matched Madhurika’s strokes, but could not do much against the experience of her rival, particularly in the extended fifth game as Madhurika won 4-1 to seal her place. In the adjacent table, Ayhika put it across Ho Tin-Tin of England after dropping her third game to win by an identical margin.
 
In women's doubles, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Krittwika Sinha Roy defeated the other Indian pair of Sreeja Akula and Mousumi Paul 3-1. The pair had, in the semifinals, beaten the Singapore duo of Goi Rui Xuan & Wong Xin Ru in straight games, while Sreeja and Mousumi defeated the third Indian pair of Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee, also by a 3-0 verdict.
 
Results:
Men Singles:
Final: Harmeet Desai bt G. Sathiyan 9-11, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 17-15, 7-11, 11-9; Semifinals: G. Sathiyan bt Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 16-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Pang Yu En Koen (Sgp) 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.
 
Women's Singles: 
Final: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Madhurika Patkar 11-6, 11-4, 11-9, 19-17; Semifinals: Ayhika Mukherjee bt Ho Tin-Tin (Eng) 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4, 11-4; Madhurika Patkar bt Sreeja Akula 11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 14-12.
 
Men's Doubles: 
Final: A. Amalraj & Manav Thakkar bt A. Sharath Kamal & G. Sathiyan 8-11, 11-6, 13-11, 12-10; 
Semi-finals: A. Sharath Kamal & G. Sathiyan bt Pang Yu En Koen & Chua Shao Han Josh (Sgp) 12-10, 11-4, 14-12; A. Amalraj & Manav Thakkar bt Samuel Walker & Thomas Jarvis (Eng) 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5.
 
Women's Doubles:
Final: Pooja Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika Sinha Roy bt Sreeja Akula & Mousumi Paul 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10; 
Semi-finals: Pooja Sahasrabudhe & Krtittwika Sinha Roy bt Goi Rui Xuan & Wong Xin Ru (Sgp) 11-7, 12-10, 11-9; Sreeja Akula & Mousumi Paul bt Sutirtha Mukherjee & Ayhika Mukherjee 11-8, 11-8, 11-6.
 
Medal's Tally:                                                                                
 
India: 7 gold, 5 silver, 3 bronze
England: 2 silver, 3 bronze
Singapore: 6 bronze
Malaysia: 1 bronze
Nigeria: 1 bronze. 
 
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TT: Sathiyan, Archana win gold in mixed doubles, Sharath crashes out in singles

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On a day of mixed fortunes for the hosts, Indian mixed doubles pair of G. Sathiyan and Archana Kamath clinched the gold, while in the men’s singles second seed Sharath Kamal crashed out in the quarter-finals of the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships.
 
Sathiyan and Archana Kamath defeated Singapore’s Peng Yu En Koen–Goi Rui Xuan 3-0 in the final. The gold count for the hosts on the penultimate day of the championships stands at three.
 
Sathyan and Archana, thus, avenged the defeat of  A. Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula in the semi-final—at the hands of same Singapore pair.
 
The Indian pair was on top in the final as they piled on the agony on their rivals, particularly on a tired Peng who could not cope with the pressure applied by the top-seeded duo who simply decimated them.
 
Earlier second-seeded Sharath Kamal squandered three match points and then the quarter-final match, shattering his men singles medal hope. Though Sharath failed to go past the semi-finals in mixed doubles, he would definitely rue the singles loss to the younger legs of Peng which played a major role in the left-hander snatching victory from the jaws of defeat as he not only survived 1-3 deficits but also seized the advantage in the decider to enter the semi-finals.
 
The other Indians who made grade included top-seeded G. Sathiyan, who beat Nigerian Bode Abiodun 4-0 and Harmeet Desai who accounted  for Sushmit Sriram 4-1. Sanil Shetty joined Sharath when he went down to England’s Thomas Jarvis 1-4.
 
In the women's section, top-seeded Ho Tin-Tin of England disposed of unseeded Archana Kamath, the reigning national champion, 4-1 to enter the women singles semi-finals. But second-seeded Madhurika Patkar and fourth seed Ayhika Mukerjee easily followed the Englishwoman into the last four while, in a marathon battle, Sreeja Akula defeated Sutirtha Mukherjee 4-2 even as Madhurika downed Krittiwika Sinha Roy 4-1 and Ayhika beat Mousumi Paul in straight games.
 
Archana, who played well until this point, was unable to find her feet against the attacking Ho who cashed in on several unforced errors committed by the Indian. After losing the first game, the Bengaluru girl came back to level 1-1 but lost her rhythm from there to lose tamely.
 
Madhurika had a good measure of Krittwika, the national runner-up and despite losing a game she punished her rival when the opportunities presented themselves. Indeed, Krittiwika had a slight advantage in the fourth game but lost it 10-12 and then the steam.  However, for Ayhika it was rather easy as Mousumi could not cope with her rival’s quick returns and excellent placements.
 
Two extended games must have sapped the energy of both Sreeja and Sutirtha but the former held her nerves despite squandering five match-points to romp home winners.
 
The scratch pair of Sharath Kamal and Sreeja Akula, in the absence of Manika Batra, had little problem up to the stage of semi-finals. But once there, the mismatch became more palpable when the Indian duo took on Singapore’s Yu En Koen Pang and Rui Xuan Goi, who play together more regularly.
 
More often than not, Sharath had to plug the gaps that became a yawn as the match progress and Singaporeans made most of the situation. Despite taking the first game, the Indian duo came back strongly to take the next two and lead 2-1. But the Indians lost their way with Pang and Goi combining well to level the score and then complete the decider in double quick time, the Indian duo managing just four points.
 
In contrast, Sathiyan and Archana hardly dropped a sweat when they beat the other Indian pair of Harmeet Desai and Ayhika Mukherjee 3-0. The first two games got over in less than 10 minutes. Though Harmeet and Ayhika resisted a bit longer in the third but could not stop Sathiyan and Archana from progressing into the final. 
 
In men's doubles, two Indian pairs—Sharath and Sathiyan and Anthony Amalraj and Manav Thakkar—made it to the semi-finals while the two other pairs that will challenge the Indian domination will be Pang Yu En and Chua Shao Han from Singapore and the English duo of Samuel Walker and Thomas Jarvis, respectively, tomorrow.
 
In women's doubles, Pooja Sahasrabudhe and Krittiwika Singha Roy, Sreeja Akula and Mousumi Paul and Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee entered the semifinal while the fourth pair, top-seeded Madhurika Patkar and Archana Kamath went down to Singapore’s Goi Rui Xuan and Won Xin Ru 2-3 (5-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11) and missed the medal.
 
Mixed Doubles:
 
Final: G. Sathiyan-Archana Kamath bt Peng Yu En Koen–Goi Rui Xuan (SGP) 11-1, 11-7, 11-4; Semi-finals: G. Sathiyan-Archana Kamath bt Harmeet Desai-Ayhika Mukherjee 11-2, 11-2, 11-9; Peng Yu En Koen–Goi Rui Xuan (SGP) bt Sharath Kamal-Sreeja Akula (IND) 13-11, 8-11, 6-11 11-8, 11-4.
 
Men's Singles:
 
Quarter-finals:
 
G Sathiyan bt Bode Abiodun (NGR) 11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6; Thomas Jarvis (Eng) bt Sanil Shetty 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11, 12-10; Harmeet Desai bt Sushmit Sriram 11-4, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 11-8; Pang Yu En Koen (SGP) bt Sharath Kamal 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7, 12-10.
 
Women's Singles:
 
Quarter-finals:
 
Ho Tin-Tin (Eng) bt Archana Kamath 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Mousumi Paul 11-6, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8; Sreeja Akula bt Sutirtha Mukherjee 11-5, 11-6, 11-9, 17-19, 6-11, 17-15; Madhurika Patkar bt Krittiwika Sinha Roy 11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-9
 
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Table Tennis: Nine Indian women, six men qualify for main draw

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Nine Indians gained entry into the main draw of the women singles from among the 16 qualifiers to join the three seeds—Archana Kamath, Ayhika Mukherjee and Madhurika Patkar—in the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
 
In comparison, only six out of 11 Indians that went through the qualification process, made the main draw grade. The ones that fell by the wayside included Sourav Saha (group 2), Anirban Ghosh (group 5), Arjun Ghosh (group 6), Jubin Kumar (group 12) and Siddesh Pande (group 16).
 
This would mean that  in the women's section, exactly half the number of 24 that forms part of the main draw, with eight seeded players having been given direct entry, will be Indians. Among the other qualifiers, three were from Singapore, two from Nigeria and one each from Australia and Malaysia. The top-eight seeds get first-round byes, too.
 
The Indians that failed to make the cut included Pooja Sahasrabhude, Reeth Risya and Surbhi Patwari. However, they will have to do something worthy and to put up a better show in doubles to make the chance count.
 
Surbhi Patwar managed just one victory over Malaysian A Xin Tee when she beat her 11-5, 3-11, 11-6, 11-6 but lost the crucial match to group 11 leader Rui Xuan Goi of Singapore in straight games of 8-11, 1-11, 11-13 to be placed just behind the Singapore paddler.
 
In group 12, Reeth Rishya, clubbed with four players, managed a lone win over Sri Lankan Chamathsara 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 but lost her match against Singapore’s Eunice Zoe Lim 11-9, 10-12, 11-7, 9-11, 13-15. The Indian had a couple of match points which she frittered away to finish second in the group.
 
However, it was a very disappointing outing for Pooja who finished third despite being seeded at the top of group 14. After beating Scotland’s Lara Sterling 11-5, 11-8, 11-8, Pooja suffered a shock loss to Nigeria’s Ajoke Ojomu 6-11, 7-11, 11-13. She finished her campaign with yet another defeat to Singapore’s Tan-Llin Jassy. Pooja lost 3-11, 13-11, 5-11, 12-10, 7-11. The Nigerian qualified from the group.
 
Though the singles main draw in both sections begins tomorrow with the top Indian men seeds in action,  the real point of interest attraction for the day would be which of the Indian mixed pair will go on to claim the gold in the final to be played on Sunday.
 
Qualifiers;
 
Men: Bode Abiodun (NGR), Thomas Jarvis (ENG), Sushmit Sriram, Manush Shah, Lucan Tan (SGP), Muhamad Rizal (MAS), Jeet Chandra, Ronit Bhanja, Azeez Jamiu (NGR), Yu En Koen Pang (SGP), Marios Yiangou (CYP), Sudhanshu Grover, Javen Choong (MAS), Clarence Zheyu Chew (SGP).
 
Women: Chunyi Feng (Aus), Krittwika Sinha Roy, Sutirtha Mukherjee, Alice Li Sian Chang (MAS), Nimotalia Aregbesola (NGR), Sreeja Akula, Mousumi Paul, Prapti Sen, Xin Ru Wong (SGP), Selenadeepthi Selvaumar, Rui Xuan Goi (SGP), Eunice Zoe Lim (SGP), Divya Deshpande, Ahoke Ojomu (NGR), Sagarika Mukherjee, Anusha Kutumbale.
 
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Table Tennis: India win men's, women's team titles in Commonwealth Championships

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It was a double delight for India in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships as  their men overpowered England while the women dethroned eight-time champions Singapore to lift the team titles at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
 
England tried to change the script, but the Indian men brought in a twist to the tale through birthday boy Harmeet Desai to end the visitors' hopes of lifting the Host Association’s Cup, while the women played their characters to perfection to script their win for the India Cup in the 21st edition of the championships.
 
The Indian men beat England 3-2 while Indian women did the impossible downing Singapore 3-0 to dethrone the defending champions Singapore who had a stranglehold on the trophy since 1997. After having won the Cup for eight consecutive times, their vice-like grip was snapped when they chose to send a weak team.
 
The Indian men, on the other hand, could extend their reign for the second successive time after annexing the title in the previous edition at Surat in 2015. The Indian men had won their first crown in Kuala Lumpur in 2004.
 
Archana Kamath began it all for India but it took some time before she could shake off her rustiness to overcome Ho Tin-Tin, the promising player of Chinese origin with a pen-holder grip. Archana, when attacked on the forehand, found her returns going awry but her strong backhand rescued her against the Briton. After she won the extended second game, the Indian never looked back to put India on a winning path. 
 
Manika Batra decimated Denise Payet and Madhurika woke up from her passive play to tighten the noose around Emily Bolton and England for a 3-0 sweep.
 
Harmeet Desai, celebrating his 26th birthday, not only presented himself a wonderful gift but also brought India from the brink to a face-saving title victory. India, trailing 0-2 in the final, needed the Surat man to give that spark which was lacking. And he did not disappoint with a fantastic win over McBeath to pave the way for Sathiyan and Sharath to complete the task in their reverse singles.
 
If Sharath Kamal was awful against Thomas Jarvis, who is No. 186 in the world, in the opening tie, Sathiyan was equally guilty of plotting his own downfall against Samuel Walker, ranked No. 86. And that too after taking a 2-0 lead. But credit must be given to the two English players, especially Jarvis who not only blocked superbly but had the experienced Sharath in a tangle with his accuracy. Unable to counter him, Sharath threw in the towel earlier than one had expected him to.
 
Sathiyan faced a determined Walker who inched his way slowly but surely to first draw level and up the ante in the decider, keeping a sizeable lead. But Sathiyan was able to break the shackles and twice levelled the score at 7-7 and 8-8 before the Briton romped home winners to give his side a nice cushion (2-0).
 
Enter Desai, the twist came for India as he defeated McBeath to provide the much-needed oxygen and India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
 
Meanwhile Manika Batra, who withdrew at the eleventh hour from singles and doubles, forced the referee re-draw the seeding list this afternoon. Manika informed TTFI and the referee of her pullout this morning, citing her indisposition. She, however, played her part and helped Team India win the women’s crown.
 
Men: 
 
Final: India bt England 3-2 (A. Sharath Kamal lost to Thomas Jarvis 7-11, 8-11, 4-11; G. Sathiyan lost to Samuel Walker 11-5, 11-9, 4-11, 8-11, 8-11; Harmeet Desai bt David McBeath 4-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8; G. Sathiyan bt Thomas Jarvis 11-2, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4; Sharath Kamal bt Samuel Walker 15-13, 12-10, 11-6); Semifinals: India bt Singapore 3-0 (A. Sharath Kamal bt Pang Yu En Koen 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5; G. Sathiyan bt Chew Zheyu Clarence 11-6, 11-8, 13-11; Harmeet Desai bt Beh Kun Ting 11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8); England bt Malaysia 3-1 (Samuel Walker bt Wong Qi Shen 11-5, 11-2, 9-11, 11-6; Thomas Jarvis bt Ashraf Muhamad Rizal 12-14, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7; Davis McBeath lost to Leong Chee Feng 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 10-12, 7-11, Samuel Walker bt Ashraf Muhamad Rizal 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-2).
 
Positions: 3&4: Singapore bt Malaysia 3-0; 5&6: Nigeria bt Wales 3-0; 7&8: Australia bt Sri Lanka 3-0; 9: Cyprus; 10: South Africa; 11: Bangladesh; 12: Scotland.
 
Women: 
Final: India bt England 3-0 (Archana Girish Kamath bt Ho Tin-Tin 8-11, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9; Manika Batra bt Denise Payet 11-6, 11-4, 11-3; Madhurika Patkar bt Emily Bolton 11-9, 11-7, 11-6); Semifinals: India bt Singapore 3-0 (Manika Batra bt Wong Xin Ru 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 13-11; Archana G. Kamath bt Goi Rui Xuan 7-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5; Madhurika Patkar bt Lim Eunice oe 11-6, 11-7, 11-7); England bt Nigeria 3-0 (Ho Tin-Tin bt Cecilia Akpan 11-9, 11-3, 11-4; Denise Payet bt Offiong Edem 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6; Emily Bolton bt Ajoke Ojomu 7-11, 11-7, 2-11, 11-5, 11-9).
 
Positions: 3&4: Singapore bt Nigeria 3-0; 5&6: Malaysia bt Australia 3-0; 7&8: Wales bt Sri Lanka 3-0; 9: Cyprus; 10: Scotland; 11: Bangladesh; 12: South Africa.
 
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Table Tennis: Indian women reach semi-finals; men follow

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Indian men and women were the first to book their semi-final slots after winning their Super Eights group matches in the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
 
Though the Indian men have a formality to complete—they play their last match against Wales in group F—their women finished their engagements in group F with emphatic triumphs over Wales (3-0), Malaysia (3-0) and Nigeria (3-0).
 
Besides India, England men and women, too, made the semi-final grade having notched up two wins each. Their men beat Singapore 3-2 while they claimed a 3-1 victory over Australia. Their women, on the other hand, beat Australia 3-1 and then trounced Sri Lanka 3-0.
 
With two slots left in each of the two sections, the teams that look to book their berths are Singapore and Nigeria, barring a problem or two in the last match.
 
Earlier, hosts’ men paddlers defeated Sri Lanka and Malaysia with identical 3-0 margins to seal their berth.
 
Anthony Amalraj, who got to play his matches today, had it rather easy against Sri Lankan Krishan Wickramaratha, cleaning him up with a 3-0 verdict in the opener but was found to be struggling a bit against Malaysian Feng Chee Leong. But the Indian overcame the initial hiccups to beat him 3-1. As for the rest of the matches, they were as simple as they can get as G. Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar formed part of the squad against Sri Lanka while Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai were pitted against Malaysia.
 
Coaches Australian Brett Clarke and Soumyadeep Roy gave ample opportunities to all the players before the knockout semi-final and finals tomorrow. Like in men, Archana was the common factor in all the three matches while the two coaches rotated the other players, including Manika Batra, Madhurika Patkar, Sutirtha Mukherjee and Ayhika Mukherjee. All the players came out with flying colours against their opponents.
 
Meanwhile only one of the two Indians, G. Sathiyan and Manav Thakkar, will progress to the medal round as they were drawn in the same quarter while the other three Indians were lucky to find themselves evenly distributed into the other quarters.  
 
All the Indian men were among the top eight seeds (based on their ITTF July ranking) while only three women—Manika Batra, Archana Kamath and Madhurika Patkar—were seeded and got first-round byes in the main draw. The remaining two—Sutirtha and Ayhika—will have to make it to the main draw through qualifiers.
 
Results (Super Eight)
 
Men:
 
Group E: England bt Singapore 3-2; Nigeria bt Australia 3-1; England bt Australia 3-1; Singapore bt Nigeria 3-0;
Group F: India bt Sri Lanka 3-0 (A. Amalraj bt Krishan Wickramarathna 11-5, 11-6, 11-3; G. Sathiyan bt Nirmala Jayasinghe 11-5, 11-3, 11-4; Manav Thakkar bt Milinda Lakshitha 8-11, 11-4, 11-8, 12-10, 11-1);  Malaysia bt Wales 3-0; India bt Malaysia 3-0 (A. Amalraj bt Feng Chee Leong 7-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8; A. Sharath Kamal bt M.A.H. Muhamad Rizal 11-9, 11-8, 11-6; Harmeet Desai bt Qi Shen Wong 11-2, 11-4, 11-4); Wales bt Sri Lanka 3-1.
 
Women:
 
Group E: Singapore bt Sri Lanka 3-0; England bt Australia 3-1; England bt Singapore 3-1; Australia bt Sri Lanka 3-0; England bt Sri Lanka 3-0.
Group F: India bt Wales 3-0 (Madhurika Patkar bt Charlotte Carey 5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8; Archana Kamath bt Beth Richards 11-8, 11-6, 11-7; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Lara Whitton 11-3, 11-8, 11-7); Nigeria bt Malaysia 3-1; India bt Malaysia 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Tee Ai Xin 11-6, 12-10, 11-6; Manika Batra bt Ho Ying 13-11, 8-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9; Madhurika Patkar bt Chang Alice Li Sian 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-5); Nigeria bt Wales 3-2; India bt Nigeria 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Offiong Edem 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-8; Manika Batra bt Ajoke N. Ojomu 11-4,1-3, 11-4; Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Cecilia Akan 11-4, 11-8, 11-8).
 
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Commonwealth TT: India dominates, Malaysia women upset Australia on opening day

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India opened their campaign in team championships in style, topping  their groups to qualify for the Super Eight stage in both sections of the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here today.
 
The domination of  the hosts  was such that they lost just two games—one by Sharath Kamal against Singapore’s and another by Ayhika Mukherjee against Chamathsara. But for this minor mishap the Indians sailed through.
 
The team management kept faith in the threesome of Sharath, Sathiyan and Harmeet Desai who did their job pretty much well to first beat Scotland 3-0 and then follow it up with a similar verdict against Singapore.
 
In the women's event, however, the coaches tried out the bench strength with different combinations in the two group matches. Manika Batra and Ayhika Mukherjee, who played against Sri Lanka posting a 3-0 triumph in the company of Archana Kamath, were rested for the match against South Africa. 
 
Instead, Madurika Patkar and Sutirtha Mukherjee were tried out with Archana. They didn’t disappoint as they posted yet another 3-0 victory over South Africa.
 
The chasm in the competing teams here could be seen and what Sharath said on the eve of the championships could come true as India looked well on course for a golden sweep in team and individual events.
 
No doubt, the Singaporeans have brought a young women's team while England, just with experienced Samuel Walker, is the team to beat as they are likely to meet the Indian men in the knockout stage.  
 
If one were to look for an upset on the opening day, it came about in the women's section when Malaysia downed Australia, the group C topper.
 
Meanwhile, the Uganda team and Guyana members have got their respective government’s nod and they would be sending them for participation in the individual events. According to a communication to TTFI from the two federations, Uganda will be sending five members while there will be three from Guyana, who will compete in singles and doubles events which get underway from July 19 after the team finals.
 
Results (Team championships/Preliminary):
 
Women:
 
Group A: Singapore bt Scotland 3-0; Singapore bt Wales 3-0;
 
Group B: India bt Sri Lanka 3-0 (Manika Batra bt Bimandi Bandara 11-5, 11-4, 11-5; Archana Kamath bt Ishara Madurangi 11-5, 11-5, 12-10; Ayhika Mukherjee bt Chamathsara Fernando 11-3, 11-3, 8-11, 11-4); India bt South Africa 3-0 (Archana Kamath bt Danisha Patel 11-6, 11-2, 11-2; Madhurika Patkar bt Palesa Mtshoelibe 11-2, 11-5, 11-3; Sutirtha Mukherjee bt Simeen Mookrey 11-1, 11-4, 11-4)
 
Group C: Australia bt Cyprus 3-0; Malaysia bt Australia 3-1
 
Group D: Nigeria bt Bangladesh 3-0; England bt Nigeria 3-1.
 
Men:                                                    
 
Group A: England bt Cyprus 3-0; England bt Sri Lanka 3-0;
 
Group B: India bt Scotland 3-0 (G. Sathiyan bt Niall Cameron 11-4, 11-7, 11-8; A. Sharath Kamal bt Colin Dalgleish 11-2, 11-6, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Dylan Curry 11-2, 11-6, 11-1); India bt Singapore 3-0 (G. Sathiyan bt Yu En Koen Pang 11-7, 11-9, 11-8; A. Sharath Kamal bt Zheyu Clarence Chew 8-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-9; Harmeet Desai bt Shao Han Josh 11-4, 11-7, 11-6).
 
Group C: Nigeria bt Bangladesh 3-0.
 
Group D: Australia bt Wales 3-0; Australia bt South Africa 3-0.
 
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India have task cut out as Commonwealth TT C'ships get underway

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India may have got the toughest group opponents from among the teams participating in the 21st Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships, beginning at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here on Wednesday, but team captain and ace paddler A. Sharath Kamal is confident that India will retain the Host Associations Cup on Friday.
 
Sharath was not way off the mark when he talked about the draw as India are clubbed with Singapore and Scotland in group B, while England, the top-ranked team here and placed in group A, have Sri Lanka and Cyprus for company.
 
With the format allowing two teams from each group to qualify for the second stage, Sharath & Company are not losing any sleep. In fact, he said India would be aiming to sweep the gold medals.
 
His calculations are based on the weakest England, Nigeria and Singapore teams that have come here. He said it in as many words when asked for his opinion on the draw. "Indeed, we are in the toughest group but since England, Nigeria and Singapore have not fielded their best players, Indian men should win the team and open events," said the winner of 10 medals, including the 2004 singles and team championship gold medals.
 
With the Commonwealth Games getting all the attention in recent times, the focus has moved away from the Commonwealth Championship. But Sharath was appreciative of the efforts made by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI). 
 
"TTFI has done a wonderful job by offering free hospitality to all the teams and this has kept the event alive," said the 37-year-old.
 
Coming back to the championships Sharath said the way G. Sathiyan, ranked No. 24 in the world, has been playing of late India would always fancy their chance against even the toughest. "He is in the form of his life. Besides, two seasoned campaigners in Liam Pitchford and Paul Drinkhall (England) and Aruna Quadri and Segun Toriola (Nigeria) are not here. Singapore, too, have fielded a young side while other teams are not that strong. It makes our job easier," he said.
 
In comparison, the women team draw looks far easier than one would have expected. Again, on the basis of team ranking, Singapore is the top-seeded squad but India, at No. 2, form a part of group B with South Africa and Sri Lanka, while group A has Singapore, Wales and Scotland. The other groups have lesser teams in terms of ranking.
 
The Indian women, on their strength, should be able to cross the first-stage hurdle without dropping a sweat. However, they could face some stiff competition from Singapore as the hosts approach the final. Manika Batra may not be in the kind of form she was in, in the 2018 CWG and Asian Games, but she is capable of pulling it off in a team event like this, particularly when the home crowd would be rooting for her and Team India.
 
In their first group match, the Indian women take on Scotland, followed by Singapore.
 
The inauguration is slated for 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday and the championships will be declared open by Governor Ganeshi Lal. And the championships open with group matches in the women section for the team championships.
 
The six-day event will be telecast live by Doordarshan. 
 
Men: 
 
Group A: England, Sri Lanka, Cyprus; Group B: India, Singapore, Scotland; Group C: Nigeria, Malaysia, Bangladesh; Group D: Australia, South Africa, Wales
 
Women: 
 
Group A: Singapore, Wales, Scotland; Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka; Group C: Australia, Malaysia, Cyprus; Group D: Nigeria, England, Bangladesh
 
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Three Railway employees dead as train rams into tower car in Odisha

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Three Railway employees died when the 18005 Howrah-Jagadalpur Samaleshwari Express rammed into a maintenance tower car engaged in repair works between Singapur Road and Keutguda in Rayagada district of Odisha today.
 
The deceased employees were identified as Suresh, Technician, Maintenance Tower Car, Sagar, Senior Section Engineer, Electrical, Rayagada and Gouri Naidu, Technician, Electrical, Rayagada.
 
The engine, front guard-cum-luggage van and a general second class coach of the train were derailed due to the impact of the crash, which occurred around 1630 hours, East Coast Railway (ECoR) officials said.
 
The engine of the train also caught fire after it hit the tower car and was detached from the rake of Samaleshwari Express, they said.
 
The rest of the train and the passengers were not affected by the fire, which was confined to the engine. Fire tenders rushed to the scene and doused the flames.
 
Senior railway officers from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh left for the site of the mishap as soon as information was received, the officials said.
 
The station masters on duty at Keutuguda and Singapur Road stations have been placed under suspension.
 
The officials said the detached train returned to Rayagada this evening with the help of another engine attached to its rear. There were a total of 148 passengers on the train.
 
The Railways have ordered an inquiry by the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), Kolkata. The CRS is an independent statutory authority under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
 
"The matter is being viewed most seriously and the Railway Board has been apprised of the full details of the incident," the officials said.
 
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Fourth Saturday as holiday for Odisha govt employees

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The Odisha government has declared the fourth Saturday of every month as a general holiday for all state government employees.
 
The government also rescheduled the working hours in offices functioning under it to improve efficiency of administration and make it more citizen-centric.
 
"The day-to-day working hours in the government offices shall be from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. with half-an-hour lunch break from 1.30 p.m. to 2 p.m.," said a statement issued by the general administration department on Saturday.
 
However, the order is not applicable for vacation departments.
 
The first half of every fourth Saturday will be devoted by the heads of departments for deliberating on implementation of '5Ts' and for training and brainstorming of innovative ideas for the development of state, the statement said.
 
While addressing the senior officers here, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik emphasized on implementation of 5Ts - Technology, Teamwork, Transparency and Time leading to Transformation.
 
"I want all of you to identify services and processes where in the first phase you want to implement 5 Ts. Preferably wherever there is citizen interface. The CMO will monitor implementation of 5Ts," said the Chief Minister.
 
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BJD, BJP declare candidates for three RS seats of Odisha

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The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday announced candidates for the bye-elections to three Rajya Sabha seats from Odisha.
 
BJD president Naveen Patnaik declared party's IT Cell Chairman Amar Patnaik and spokesperson Sasmit Patra as party's nominees for the Upper House of Parliament.
 
Patnaik also announced his support for retired IAS officer Ashwini Baishnab, the BJP candidate from Odisha.
 
"The Prime Minister spoke to me as did the Home Minister. We (BJD) will support the candidature of Ashwini Baishnab, who was the private secretary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was the Prime Minister," said Patnaik.
 
"The party has decided that Ashwini Baishnab will be BJP's candidate for the upcoming bypolls to the Rajya Sabha from Odisha," tweeted BJP's state unit.
 
The polling will be held on July 5 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. while the counting of votes will take place at 5 p.m. the same day.
 
Three seats had fallen vacant after Achyuta Samanta, Pratap Keshari Deb and Soumya Ranjan Patnaik were elected to Lok Sabha and Assembly in the recently held elections.
 
While Samanta was elected from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, Deb and Patnaik were elected from Aul and Khandapada Assembly segments.
 
Samanta and Patnaik's term in the Upper House was to end in April, 2024 while Deb's term in the Rajya Sabha was till July, 2022.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Deogarh district of Odisha

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale, shook the Deogarh district of Odisha today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.6°N and longitude 84.6°E, occurred at 1747 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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Hockey: India outplay South Africa 5-1 to win FIH Men’s hockey Series Finals

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Playing to a plan, India outpaced South Africa 5-1 to win the FIH Men’s Hockey Series Finals in front of their home fans here on Saturday. Asian Games Champion Japan beat the USA 4-2 to claim the third place.
 
India and South Africa have earned a berth in the FIH Olympic qualifiers.
 
India lived up to their supremacy in the FIH World Rankings. It did not take them very long to take the lead with a goal from Varun Kumar from a penalty corner. The hosts mostly played in South Africa’s half during the first quarter and doubled their lead, with another penalty corner; this time from Harmanpreet Singh.
 
South Africa spared no effort to come back into the match but they struggled to create good chances. And it was India who added another goal to their tally with a penalty stroke ?from Harmanpreet Singh. At Half-time India led  3-0.
 
At the start of the second half, South Africa missed a good opportunity which, if converted, would have given hope and confidence to the African champions. Instead of that, India ?took a 4-goal advantage through Vivek Prasad who converted from a short distance as a result of an offering from Simranjeet Singh after brilliant dribbling in the circle.
 
South Africa were determined to find the target and they were a step away from doing so on two consecutive attempts from Keenan Horne and Richard Pautz towards the end of the third quarter.
 
The final quarter of this tournament saw the home team continue attacking and Varun Kumar scored his second penalty corner. He too was taking his goal tally in this event to six, therefore joining Harmanpreet Singh -- later chosen Man of the Match -- and Semen Matkovskiy at the top of the goalscorer standings. 
 
Meanwhile, the African champions also found the target as Richard Pautz was in the right place to hit the ball over the goal-line from a penalty corner.  
 
After the win, captain Manpreet Singh said, "This was quite a good tournament. We did well and can improve as well. We will work in the camp. Next step is in November (qualifiers), we will prepare for our opponents there."
 
India’s head coach Graham Reid said: “It was a really interesting tournament. There are always things which we can improve. I think that the areas that we worked on in the last two-three months, we’ll be continuing. The boys will now have a couple of weeks off, spend time with their families and recharge their batteries. Then we have a really hard month in July and we go to the Olympic Games’ test event in Tokyo in August. It will be a busy period.”
 
South Africa’s head coach Garreth Ewing opined: “First, we’ll take from this tournament a step to the next round. It was really good for us to spend some time together as a team. The first couple of games were tough but we progressed nicely, then we found our rhythm and we were very competitive and really happy to play against India in the final. We lost to a very good team tonight.”
 
Earlier in a match for the third place, true to the tactical principles they had showcased since the beginning of the tournament, Japan immediately started to put pressure on the USA while the North Americans were defensively well-organised and ready to seize every opportunity to move quickly upfront.
 
On one of their first counter-attacks, the USA won a penalty corner which Aki Kaeppeler converted into the first goal of this match for third place. 
 
However, Japan reacted quickly and following a drag-flick from a penalty corner by Yoshiki Kirishita, Kazuma Murata found the target one minute later.
 
Japan continued to attack and were close to taking the lead after a nice combination inside the circle but the US defence intervened. Half way through the second quarter, the Asian champions were awarded a penalty stroke. However, Hirotaka Zendana missed the target.
 
The Asian champions did not give up and in the same quarter they got another penalty stroke which, this time, Yoshiki Kirishita converted, therefore giving his side a 2-1 lead. In the meantime, Japan’s goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa had denied a further scoring opportunity for the USA with a brilliant save.
 
The second half started with repeated attacks from Japan on USA’s goal. But, despite a plethora of great chances, they were either unable to find the target or were thwarted by US goalkeeper Daniel Wisselink -- later elected Man of the Match -- who was having an outstanding day. Meanwhile, Rutger Wiese’s team always looked dangerous on the break.
 
The dying moments of the game were just thrilling. With one minute to go, the USA managed to get back into the match with a second goal from Aki Kaeppeler from a penalty corner. A shootout competition was looming … but the team of Captain Mohan Gandhi had hardly celebrated their equaliser when they conceded two goals from Kenta Tanaka before the final whistle!
 
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Men's Hockey: India rout Japan to set up title clash with South Africa

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India trounced Asian Games champions Japan 7-2 to set up a title clash with South Africa who overpowered the USA 2-1 in the FIH  hockey Series Finals here on Friday.
 
Hosts India and South Africa will now battle it out for one of the first two spots of this tournament which give access to the FIH Olympic qualifiers scheduled in October-November this year.
 
The all-Asian encounter started at a high tempo and it took only 90 seconds for Japan to open the scoring after a great pass from Kenta Tanaka was converted into a goal by Kenji Kitazato. India immediately put pressure on Japan’s goal in an attempt to get a quick equaliser.
 
After a great save from Yusuke Takano following a shot from Nilakanta Sharma and a missed opportunity by Gursahibjit Singh, the home team levelled the score with a penalty corner from Harmanpreet Singh, who celebrated his 100th cap in the best possible way. 
 
But Japan were determined to give a hard time to the 5th ranked team in the world. First, Kenta Tanaka, at the conclusion of one of his numerous fast runs, put the Indian defence under pressure. Then, in the 20th minute of the game, Kota Watanabe managed to hit the ball into the goal, making it 2-2.
 
But once again, India reacted with no delay. First Ramandeep Singh from a penalty corner and then Hardik Singh doubled their team’s tally within two minutes (4-2).
 
In the second half, India won numerous penalty corners and it was Ramandeep Singh -- later elected Man of the Match -- who converted, scoring his second goal of the night. He was soon copied by his teammate Gursahibjit Singh, increasing the score to 6-2 at the end of the third quarter.
 
The final quarter gave the opportunity to India’s youngest player Vivek Prasad to put his name on the scoresheet, much to the delight of the home crowd. Despite several penalty corners, Japan could not find the net in this second half.
 
Captain Manpreet Singh said after the win, “Japan played very well. They were attacking and did not give us easy chances in the first two quarters. But after that our players played very well, they got good chances and we converted penalty corners. We’re really happy because we’re qualified for the Final and for the FIH Olympic qualifiers. Tomorrow is a really important game for us because South Africa is doing very well. We hope we’ll play as we played today.”
 
Earlier, in the match between the USA and  South Africa, the first opportunity was created by the African champions with Austin Smith’s drag-flick from a penalty corner heading just centimetres wide of the goalpost.
 
South Africa was enjoying most of the ball possession but, as previously showcased in this tournament, USA was defending very well, leaving very little space for their opponents to capitalise upon.
 
South Africa had a further very good opportunity from a deflected ball after another penalty corner, but USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages cleared it. 
 
On a counter-attack, the USA got a penalty-corner which Aki Kaeppeler converted for the first goal of this semi-final, five seconds before the end of the first quarter. The next fifteen minutes did not provide many scoring chances. A good attempt from Keenan Horne went slightly off target. At half-time, the USA were still leading 1-0.
 
The match continued in the same pattern at the start of the second half. South Africa had to look for the equaliser but they struggled to create opportunities as the USA’s defensive organisation was very solid. Additionally, the American side was quick to go on the attack whenever they turned over possession. However, Garreth Ewing’s team found the net towards the end of the third quarter when a penalty corner was fired home by the experienced Austin Smith.
 
South Africa came very close to taking the lead following two consecutive penalty corners right at the start of the final quarter but Jonathan Klages was in fine form and saved well. The USA reacted quickly with Kei Kaeppeler crossing the ball for Alberto Montilla who could not quite get into position to deflect it into the goal. The intensity of the match was increasing, with the ball moving quickly from one half to the other. With just 30 seconds left to play, the fate of this match was decided: following a shot from Nqobile Ntuli, South Africa’s Nicholas Spooner was in the right place to deflect the ball past the goal-line and give his team a place in the final.
 
South Africa’s Nicholas Spooner said, “0-1 behind, then coming back to score and then the 2-1 was 30 seconds to play. It’s incredible. Great performance from the team. We’re fortunate enough to get a win. I was in the right place at the right time and was lucky enough to hit the ball over the line at the end of the day.”
 
USA’s Head Coach Rutger Wiese said, “Congratulations to South Africa. What two battles we fought with them this week! Overall, I think our first four games were pretty good.”
 
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Hockey: Japanese test awaits India on their road to Tokyo

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India will look to register their place in the next round of hockey qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as they face an already-qualified Japan in their semi-final match of the FIH Series Finals here at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium on Friday evening. 
 
After finishing at the top of Pool A with three wins to their name, the World No. 5 Indian team will face the tough task of defeating World No. 18 Japan to secure their place in the final of the competition, and with it, a place in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers which are to be held later in October-November.
 
India has remained unbeaten in the competition so far as they finished with nine points from their three matches in Pool A, defeating Russia 10-0, Poland 3-1 and Uzbekistan 10-0. 
 
On the other hand, Japan finished second in Pool B with seven points from their three matches, behind leaders USA on an inferior goal difference. 
 
The Asian Games 2018 gold medalists started their campaign with a 3-1 win against Mexico, and then defeated World No. 16 South Africa 2-0, but could only manage a 2-2 draw against USA in their last pool match which saw them advance to the cross-over match against Poland.
 
In the cross-over encounter, Japan defeated Poland 6-2 to advance to the semi-final against India. 
 
The hosts do hold an advantage against the Japanese team as they have finished on the winning note in all of their last 13 meetings, scoring an overwhelming 61 goals in the process and conceding only 12 goals. 
 
However, Chief Coach Graham Reid says that his team is only focused on tomorrow's match and will not be depending on the past statistics, "We do have a good record against the Japanese side, and we beat them 2-0 in the last encounter at Sultan Azlan Shah Cup  but it is a new day and a new match for everyone involved. We like to focus on the upcoming match and treat it as a match that we need to win."
 
Speaking on the threat that Japan carry, Reid said, "Japan is a strong team and put in a great performance against Poland last night. It is a semi-final match that we need to win, and we will be focusing on doing the right things to make sure that we can tackle the threat that Japan carry."
 
The highest ranked team and favourites to win the tournament, India have scored a total of 23 goals which have come through 10 different goal-scorers in the FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019 so far and have only conceded once in the tournament, but the Japanese forward-line can test their resolve when the two teams face off for the second time this year. However, defender and vice-captain Birendra Lakra believes his team is in good form, and can stop their opponents from creating opportunities. 
 
"It is a tough challenge for us against a strong Japanese side, but we have been doing well as a unit throughout the tournament. Our defence will need to be strong as they have some good attacking players in their ranks. It will be important that we start the match well and take our good momentum into this match. The local crowd support has been amazing, and i am expecting a great performance from the team tomorrow."
 
In case Japan finish in the top 2, they will not secure a place in the Olympic qualifiers since they have already qualified as both host of the 2020 Olympic Games and winners of the Asian Games.
 
If Japan do finish in the top 2, the team that finishes third does NOT automatically qualify for the Olympic qualifiers. Such additional place is determined by the FIH World Rankings as at the completion of the continental championships (8 September ).
 
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4 vendors killed, 5 injured in wall collapse in Odisha

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At least four vegetable vendors were killed and five others injured when the wall of an abandoned rice mill collapsed inside a weekly market in Odisha's Dhenkanal on Sunday. Several two-wheelers were also damaged in the incident.
 
The injured were rushed to the district headquarters hospital. Three persons were later shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack after their condition deteriorated. The district administration cleared the debris and demolished the remaining portions of the abandoned wall.
 
The Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and Odisha Fire Services personnel carried out the rescue. "We are providing all necessary help to the injured. I am personally monitoring the situation. Whatever assistance is required will be provided by the Red Cross and the Chief Minister's Relief Fund," said Dhenkanal Collector Nikhil Pawan Kalyan.
 
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Hockey: USA , Japan chalk out contrasting victories in Pool B of FIH hockey series

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USA and Japan chalked out contrasting victories over their respective rivals to set up a clash for the top place of pool B in the FIH Men's hockey Series Finals here on Saturday.
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 USA routed  Mexico 9-0 while Asian Games champion Japan battled to down South Africa 2-0 to be levelled with six points each ahead of their last Pool game.?
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The match between Pan American Hockey Federation (PAHF) neighbours started on the right foot for the USA team. They scored just three minutes after the initial centre pass through Michael Barminski Jr from short distance after a fine cross from his teammate Alberto Montilla.?
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One minute before the end of the first quarter, Julian Croonenberghs deflected a powerful shot from Paul Singh into the goal, making it a perfect start for USA.?
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After the quarter break, the USA side continued to put pressure on Mexico and despite several brilliant saves, goalkeeper Jose Hernandez could not stop Tyler Sundeen from celebrating his 100th cap by scoring the third goal for his team a few seconds before half-time.?
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The game continued to follow the same pattern in the second half. Mexico was struggling to create meaningful attacking opportunities while Rutger Wiese’s players’ offensive efficiency continued. Sean Cicchi, twice with drag-flicks from penalty corners, Alberto Montilla, after a beautiful cross from Kei Kaeppeler, Christian de Angelis, from short distance, Michael Barminski Jr, after a nice team combination in a short space within the circle and finally William Holt, from a penalty stroke, consolidated the convincing USA performance.?
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For their last Pool games, USA will take on Japan while Mexico will face South Africa on 10 June.?
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 Earlier Japan’s Head Coach Siegried Aikman had expressed in very clear words his disappointment about his team’s performance in their first game, despite a win over Mexico. His players surely wanted to do better and they started immediately on a high tempo, piling multiple attacks on South Africa’s goal.?
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The first one finished with a good shot from Kenta Tanaka. This was quickly followed by his teammate Kota Watanabe, whose hopes of opening the scoring were denied by experienced goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse. An individual effort from Kazuma Murata – to be elected later Man of the Match - may have deserved a better fate but his attempt went slightly off the goalposts.?
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While the African champions tried to create opportunities to open the scoring, it was their Asian counterparts who managed to do so, in a beautiful manner. Suguru Hoshi, who celebrated his 100th cap today, gave a magnificent long pass to Kentaro Fukuda, who converted the offering into Japan’s first goal in this match, shortly before half-time.?
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One goal down, South Africa had to show a more offensive face in the second half. They did so, but Japan were in a determined mood and, despite Rassie Pieterse’s outstanding performance, Japan doubled their lead with Kazuma Murata concluding a magnificent team movement with a delightful deflection goal.?
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In the last quarter, South Africa created a great chance from a penalty corner but their two consecutive shots on goal were brilliantly cleared by Japan’s goalkeeper Takashi Yoshikawa. Japan were not only defending well but also taking every opportunity to add a third goal to their tally. While they did not achieve that, they came out as winners of this continental champions’ duel.?
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Japan’s captain Manabu Yamashita: “We had a good game today. All players worked hard together and showed good mentality. We had some really nice phases in that match. Against USA, we will need to improve further our performance.”?
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South Africa’s captain Tim Drummond: “We’re disappointed with the result but we all take a lot of confidence from how we played. We created good chances, we had a much better structure than against USA. Now, we need to recover quickly and learn quick because Mexico is a very important game for us.”
 
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