“India will be called a sporting country in 10 to 15 years”: Sunil Gavaskar | Cricket News

The legendary Sunil Gavaskar said on Monday that India would rise to become a “sports country” in the next 10-15 years while hailing the historic achievements of javelin throwing sensation Neeraj Chopra, chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa and badminton star HS Prannoy. Chopra on Sunday became the first Indian ever to win a gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, while Praggnanandhaa made history last week by reaching the World Cup final aged 18. Prannoy defeated world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen en route to World Championship bronze.

“There used to be only a few sports that were talked about, media coverage only focused on those,” the Indian cricket icon told the media here, after becoming known as the Midwicket Stories' chief adviser.

“Now all sports have access and exposure and through the other sports we can see the (emerging) stars.”

The little master was filled with joy as he witnessed Chopra's triumphant moment in Budapest when he became world champion.

“I remember when he (Neeraj Chopra) won the gold at the Tokyo Olympics, the India-England series was running…

“I was watching from England and was asked to sing the song ‘Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle…'. I felt the same yesterday,” he said.

“We had seen Neeraj two years earlier when he won the gold medal at the Olympics. Last year he won a silver medal, but it was important for him to win the gold medal and he did it with a long throw,” said Gavaskar.

“On the other hand, at the Badminton World Championships, Prannoy reached the semifinals and defeated Viktor Axelsen. If you see, given the attention Indian athletes are getting…

“If you think of America and Australia as sporting countries, I think that in 10 to 15 years India will also be called a sporting country,” he added.

The former India captain said Chopra's historic achievements inspire others to explore the javelin.

“It inspires other[athletes],” he said. “You would have seen that this World Cup wasn't just about Neeraj, we also had three pitchers in the final.

“When one athlete is doing well, the other encourages them to start the sport as well. It was a joyful moment,” he added.

Gavaskar also supported Praggnanandhaa in winning many awards in his young career.

“Praggnanandhaa was second. He's only 18 and has a lot of titles to win in the future,” said Gavaskar.

“Don't underestimate Sri Lanka at the Asian Cup”

The former India captain also spoke about cricket, saying Sri Lanka must not be forgotten in talks on India-Pakistan's Asian Cup rivalry.

“At the Asian Cup, we talk about the rivalry between India and Pakistan… But don't forget that Sri Lanka is also there and won the Asian Cup. The rivalry between these three countries is always special,” he said.

He also declined to name his favorites for the World Cup semi-finals, saying he only cares about India's performances.

“I'm only interested in India, it doesn't bother me that the others make it to the semi-finals,” he said.

When asked about managing the workload of Indian cricketers, Gavaskar said it was vital to give players who are struggling a break.

“Everyone knows and understands their body best. The physiotherapist knows it too. The players know where they have problems and where their bodies fail.

“It's necessary to give this player a break because if you don't rest him for three to four days at this point, the injury can get worse,” he concluded.

(Except for the headline, this article was not edited by NDTV staff and is published via a syndicated feed.)

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