Ajeetesh Sandhu carries one-shot advantage into last round as Golconda Masters heads for pulsating finale.Shubhankar Sharma, Feroz Ali Mollah also in contention
Hyderabad, February 27, 2016: The Golconda Masters 2016 seems to be heading for a pulsating finale as three names emerged as top contenders for the crown on the penultimate day of the event at the picturesque Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC).
While Chandigarh lad Ajeetesh Sandhu managed to hold on to his lead for the third consecutive day with a determined five-under-66 that took his total to 17-under-196, Gurgaon’s Shubhankar Sharma and Kolkata’s Feroz Ali Mollah were within striking distance at 16-under-197 and 15-under-198 respectively after they shot matching scores of six-under-65.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (62-68-66), looking to break a three-year winless streak, carried a one-shot advantage into the final round of the Rs. 40 lakh event as he continued as the wire-to-wire leader.
Ajeetesh, leading by two at the halfway stage, had a shaky start to the third day as he found the water on the third that led to a bogey. The mild-mannered 27-year-old then rallied with six birdies, including four on the last five holes, to end the day ahead of the rest. He closed his round with a magnificent 25-feet birdie conversion on the 18th.
“There’s always pressure when you’re leading and in that context I think I played well, especially after the early bogey. I struck it well even though my hitting wasn’t as good as the first round. I felt I putted better on the back-nine. I had a fantastic wedge shot on the 14th that landed inches from the pin. The birdie on the 15th was even better as I recovered from the bushes and set up a tap-in,” said Sandhu.
He added, “After the 15th I knew I had some birdie holes coming up, so I focused on finishing well. The long putt on the last puts me in a good frame of mind ahead of the final round. I think round four is now going to be like a matchplay contest between Shubhankar, Feroz and myself.”
Shubhankar Sharma (66-66-65), the winner in Bengaluru last week, will be looking to make it back-to-back titles as he heads into the last day. The 19-year-old Sharma, began the day two off the pace, but was soon in the lead with two birdies on the first five holes even as overnight leader Ajeetesh dropped a stroke. Shubhankar holed two more birdies to hang on to his lead till the 12th.
The Asian Tour rookie’s bogey on 13 pushed him down to second place. But Shubhankar came up with an eagle-two on the 15th and a 22-feet birdie conversion on the 18th to stay in touch with the leader.
Shubhankar said, “I’ve started well on all days and that has repeatedly given me the much-needed impetus. After the bogey on the 13th, I told myself that I have to make at least three birdies on the last four holes to be in a good position at the end of the day. I achieved my goal with the eagle and birdie on the last four. The eagle on 15, where I drove the green, really got me back in the game.
“I’m happy that I’ve kept the errors out of my game this week. I was reading the greens well to begin with but I’ve sorted that out as the tournament has progressed. If I do go on to win, it would be great to win back-to-back titles. However, I’m not getting ahead of myself at the moment but just focusing on the task at hand.”
The experienced Feroz Ali Mollah (68-65-65), the current Rolex Ranking leader, would be the other contender in the final round. Feroz, who won the season’s opening event, two weeks back in Kochi, mixed an eagle and five birdies with a bogey to close the day two shots behind the leader.
The 46-year-old Mollah, a former Indian Open champion, fired an eagle-two on the 15thjust like his playing partner Shubhankar Sharma after landing his drive five feet from the flag. He finally missed a long birdie putt on 18 by a whisker which would have given him a share of second place.
Bengaluru’s Khalin Joshi carded a 65 to be placed fourth at 13-under-200. Defending champion Harendra Gupta (67) of Chandigarh was in 10th place at nine-under-204.
Udayan Mane’s seven-under-64 was the day’s best score. It placed the Bengaluru-based professional in 15th position at six-under-207.
On Friday, Iran voters also went to the polls to elect 88 members of the 5th Assembly of Experts. Two Armenians have been elected as members of the Majlis of the Islamic Republic of Iran – Karen Khanlarian and Zhorzh Abrahamyan. In an interview with “Armenpress” Karen Khanlarian informed that Armenian voters participated in the elections in the Northern and Southern electoral districts. “There were 3 candidates in the Southern electoral district.
Although the final results are yet to be announced, preliminary data shows that reformist-backed candidates aligned with President Hassan Rouhani won all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran. Top conservative candidate Gholamali Haddad Adel was set to lose his seat, Reuters reported.
“The people showed their power once again and gave more credibility and strength to their elected government,” Rouhani said.
Iran ministry, 6,229 candidates from all three major camps – reformists, principlists and moderates – in total were cleared to compete for the 290-seat legislature, but 729 of them waived their candidacies.The Assembly’s next term, lasting until 2024, is very likely to choose the next Supreme Leader of Iran. Because of 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s age, his successor could well be among those elected this week. Rouhani and his key ally and ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were leading the race for the Assembly of Experts, and appeared to be sure of winning seats, according to Reuters. Rafsanjani was among the founders of the Islamic Republic, and is known for his pragmatism and robust reputation.
The moderates’ and reformists’ electoral gains mean a legislature much friendlier to Houssani’s pragmatic course on détente with Western powers that started with the nuclear deal. Iran’s 290-seat parliament has been dominated by hardliners, otherwise known as“principlists,” who are wary of the re engagement with the West.
At the moment, they hold 65 percent of the outgoing MPs’ seats, while the rest is divided between reformists and moderates.
The nationwide election to the parliament and the Assembly of Experts – a council charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran – took place Friday, and was marked by an enormous turnout.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli told a press conference in Tehran on Saturday that vote counting in Tehran is still under way and will not end any sooner than late Monday, FARS news agency reported. The final results will be declared Tuesday.
He said that over 60 percent of some 54.9 million eligible voters took part in the elections, with over 53,000 polling stations set up for people to vote.
The crucial vote will very likely define the face and nature of Iran’s political course for years to come, experts say. Media agencies
Nagpur, 27 February 2016 – Building up to the ICC World T20 in India, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket for Good and UNICEF in partnership with BCCI launched the Team Swachh clinics during the ICC WT20 Host City Tour. This is to promote a nationwide initiative that aims to build a social movement for sanitation and toilet use there by leading to an open-defecation-free India.
The ICC WT20 Men’s and Women’s trophies travelled on the Nissan Trophy Tour float through the streets of Nagpur. Exhilarated fans got the opportunity to photograph themselves with the ICC WT20 Trophies.
A specially designed double-decker bus carried the children from a local NGOs and Indian cricket team player Umesh Yadav. The Indian cricket player interacted with fans as the cavalcade made its way to photograph themselves with the ICC Trophies.
Playing cricket-based games with the children along with advocating the use of toilets, Umesh Yadav engaged with the children when sharing cricketing tips and discussing the importance of hygiene and sanitation in the specially designed Team Swachh WASH clinic set up inside the Vidharba Cricket Association Stadium.
Calling the initiative a ‘social movement for sanitation’, Ms. Caroline Den Dulk, Chief of Communication, UNICEF India said, “The idea of team and team play is at the core of the Team Swachh initiative and it leverages the vast passion of the sport in the country to advocate toilet use and save lives of children.”
After Dharamshala, Mohali, Delhi, Kolkata and now Nagpur, the ICC WT20 Host City Tour will visit each of the venues that will host the ICC WT20 matches. It now travels to Chennai (1stMarch), Bangalore (3rd March) and Mumbai (6th March 2016).
Earlier in October 2015, the ICC Cricket For Good and UNICEF launched a five-year global partnership in New York. They decided to engage the broader cricketing community to empower children and adolescents. In particular, during the many ICC events over the next five years, they will develop and implement various community outreach programmes and initiatives in collaboration with coaches, cricketers and cricketing personalities.
Punjab Steelers bust Delhi Capitals’ win streak; Mumbai Challengers bounce back to leave Haryana winless
Pune, 27th February 2016: On the penultimate day of the Pune leg of the UBA Pro Basketball League Season 2, the crowd at the Shivaji Stadium in Pune witnessed north division action. The first game was between the unbeaten Delhi Capitals and Punjab Steelers, who were looking for their second win of Season 2. Punjab ended up upsetting the Delhi Capitals, handing them their first loss of the tournament. The second game was between the Mumbai Challengers and the Haryana Gold. Mumbai registered the win, improving to a 3-2 record, while Haryana remained in the loss column.
Mumbai Challengers bt Haryana Gold
After a hot start, the Mumbai Challengers have lost their previous two games and were looking to bounce back today in their match against Haryana Gold. Haryana are still looking for their first win in the tournament, hoping to finish the Pune leg with at least one victory.
Two new point guards started for each of the teams. For Mumbai, youngster Prudhvi Reddy was back into the starting lineup, after having missed the last two games for the team owing to the NBA-ACG Jump elite camp. For Haryana, their starting point guard last season, Himanshu Sharma joined the team for his first game in Season 2 today.
The point guard change seemed to help both teams, as the first half tuned out to be a battle of the no. 17s – Prudhvi and Himanshu. After a dismal first couple of games, Prudhvi finally showed the UBA world what he is capable of. He was perfect from the 3-point line in the first half and was at the receiving end of easy transition buckets as well. On the other hand, Himanshu Sharma was scintillating in his drives to the basket, finishing with both hands on either side of the rim. He ended up with 13 first half points, but his teammates failed to step up yet again. Although Himanshu managed to keep his team within fighting distance of Mumbai in the first half, he could not single-handedly do it throughout the game.
Mumbai’s offensive weapons had their way against the weak Haryana Gold defense. Ranbir, who won player of the match honours, was fluid offensively throughout the contest. Whether it was his 3-point shot, transition buckets or half-court penetrations, Ranir was doing it all today and ended up with a double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds. Mumbai centre was also great for his team today, putting his post moves to work and finishing the game with a big double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds. Jagdeep Bains was also efficient for his team with 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting.
Although Himanshu Sharma scored 22 points in the contest, only one other Haryana Gold player scored in double digits – centre Jaskaran Singh with 10 points. Mumbai surged ahead in the third quarter, building a huge lead and ending up breaking the team scoring record in the tournament so far with 114 points. Haryana have lost all their four games, while Mumbai bounced back to improve to a 3-2 record.
Mumbai Challengers (Ranbir Singh 29, Prudhvi Reddy 21, Gagandeep Singh 20) btHaryana Gold (Himanshu Sharma 23, Jaskaran Singh 10, Rajat 9) 114-78 (24-20, 24-21, 34-20, 32-17)
Punjab Steelers bt Delhi Capitals
After their first victory against the Haryana Gold, the Punjab Steelers seemed to have regained their lost confidence going into today’s game against the Delhi Capitals. Delhi was looking to keep their perfect record alive, going for their fifth straight win.
Punjab went into the game with Kaushal (from Karnataka) and international forward Gurvinder Gill as the two bigs, with the MVP of last season, Ravi Bhardwaj, coming off the bench. Gill was testing his shooting touch in the beginning of the game, happily taking and making jumpers in the first quarter, including a surprising 3-pointer to begin the game. Point guard Akilan brought out the inner scorer in him today, taking control of his team’s offense. The Delhi defenders were unable to control Akilan’s penetration as he got the basket with ease to finish craftily around the rim. His 3-point shot was falling today as well, making him virtually unstoppable.
Delhi Capitals found it difficult to set their offense in the first half. Punjab played aggressive perimeter defense to force multiple turnovers from the Capitals. Whenever the Capitals’ players did manage to drive into the paint, Gurvinder was waiting to protect the rim. Last season’s MVP Ravi Bhardwaj came off the bench in the second quarter to add to the rim protection for Punjab.
Capitals’ go-to scorer Vinay Kaushik struggled with his shot in the first half. Punjab gave him no space on the 3-point line, forcing him to take difficult shots. Ramesh was the only major contributor for the Capitals using his body in the post, ending up with 10 points in the first half. But Delhi had little contribution from their other players leading to Punjab ending the first half with a 20-point lead 46-26.
The second half followed much of the same script. Akilan (27 points) continued to fire away and knock down shots. Multiple steals from Akilan led to easy transition buckets. His backcourt mate Amrit Pal Singh (14 points) was efficient for the Steelers as well either finishing in transition or penetrating and creating for his teammates. Gurvinder continued to be destructive in the paint using his athleticism to finish around the rim. Steelers ended up blowing out the Capitals and finishing with a 86-58 victory, wining back-to-back games. Capitals were handed their first loss of the tournament.
Gurvinder Gill won the player of the match award with his 24 points and 16 rebounds.
Punjab Steelers (Akilan Pari 27, Gurvinder Gill 23, Amrit Pal Singh 14) bt Delhi Capitals(Ramesh 14, Vinay Kaushik 12, Yudhvir Singh 7) 86-58 (18-12, 28-14, 17-19, 23-13)
About the UBA Pro Basketball League
The UBA Pro Basketball League is structured on a league cum knockout basis. Season 2 is being held in two phases: 18 to 28 Feb in Pune (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex) followed by 21st March to 3rd April in Hyderabad (Gachibowli Stadium). There are eight teams in total divided into two divisions: Pune Peshwas, Delhi Capitals, Haryana Gold, Punjab Steelers (North division) and Chennai Slam, Mumbai Challengers, Bengaluru Beast and Hyderabad Sky (South division). Chennai Slam won the inaugural season last year with Pune Peshwas finishing second.
About United Basketball Alliance India Pvt. Ltd.
The United Basketball Alliance (UBA India) is a next-generation sports branding company. Its main objective is to make sport brands mean something to their sport viewers. To do that, UBA helps brands connect with viewers by providing insight-driven ideas across all media platforms. With respect to its Pro Basketball League, UBA India has already secured primetime television broadcasting arrangements with the Ten Sports Network, and is securing corporate sponsorships for tournament play, and creating merchandising opportunities.
Germany ends India’s winning run on South African Tour
28th February, 2016, Stellenbosch: The fans in Stellenbosch witnessed the first loss for the Indian eves on the South African tour as they went down to Germany 3-0 in an exciting encounter.
The first period of the match started with both the teams moving cautiously in order to understand each other’s game plan. Both Germany and India concentrated on maintaining ball possession and a lot of the game was played in the mid-field. The first period ended with the score at 0-0. The second period started with India looking to make more attacking strides. The attacking intent was soon awarded with a penalty corner in the initial moments of the second period but India failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The end moments of the second period saw Germany attacking and finally the break in the defensive dead lock came from a field goal by Lydia Haase. The score at half – time stood at 1-0 in Germany’s favour.
The third period of the match started with Germany carrying the attacking momentum. Germany made many attacking moves in the period and were rewarded for their pressing game in the end of the third period with a field goal from Pia-Sophie Oldhafer. The score at the end of the third period stood at 2-0 with Germany leading. The fourth period saw many attacking moves from both the sides with India leaving no stones unturned to establish equilibrium in the match. The Germans held a strong defensive line and played a counter attacking game. The German tactic was rewarded with a penalty corner which was successfully converted by Julia Muller to ensure a 3-0 lead for Germany. The match ended in a 3-0 win for Germany.
The next match of the South African tour will be played between India and Germany on 28th February 2016.