Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna / Dronacharya / Arjuna Award Nominees revealed

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has recommended fast bowlers Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and women’s team leg-spinner Poonam Yadav for the Arjuna Award.

Jasprit Bumrah, who made his India debut as recently as 2016, has gone on to become the leader of India’s bowling attack across all formats. The fast bowler made it to the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test team of the year in his maiden season in Test cricket in 2018. On the other hand, Mohammed Shami overcame personal and fitness issues to perform consistently for Team India in Tests in 2018. The Bengal pacer picked up 68 Test wickets in 2018 and played a crucial role in India’s historic Test series win in Australia.

Ravindra Jadeja made a similar comeback into the ODI squad and has bagged a ticket to England for the 2019 World Cup. The terrific fielder is among the top 10 in both the bowler and the all-rounder’s rankings in Test cricket. Poonam Yadav has also been a consistent performer for the Indian women’s cricket team. The crafty leg-spinner is among the top 10 bowlers in women’s cricket. A total of 53 cricketers have been awarded the Arjuna Award with Saleem Durani, in 1961, the first recipient. In 2018, Smriti Mandhana became the latest to be awarded the Arjuna Award.

Meanwhile, All India Football Federation (AIFF) has recommended the names of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Jeje Lalpekhlua for the prestigious Arjuna Award this year. The federation had been pushing the cases of the two footballers since 2017 but the Arjuna Award committee continued to ignore their claims. In 2017, the AIFF recommended the two footballers along with then Indian women’s team captain Bembem Devi but only the last named was conferred with the award. Sandhu and Jeje’s names were sent again last year but they did not receive the approval.

Both Sandhu and Jeje are the national team’s longest serving footballers after Sunil Chhetri, who has received both the Arjuna and Padma Shri. Sandhu is the only second footballer (the other being Sunil Chhetri) in India to play the Asian Cup final rounds twice in 2011 and 2019. Currently with Bengaluru FC, Sandhu had previously played for Norwegian side Stabaek. He holds the unique record of becoming the first Indian footballer to play a competitive match in a European top division league when he was fielded by his club in the away encounter against IK Start in 2016. Jeje, on the other hand, is an exceptionally talented striker, whose performance has often been overshadowed because of Chhetri’s presence as his co-forward. Inducted in the national team by then coach Bob Houghton in 2011, the 28-year-old from Mizoram has 23 international goals to his credit.

Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) recommends Rahul Aware, Harpreet Singh, Divya Kakran and Pooja Dhanda for Arjuna award; Recommends, Virender Kumar, Sujeet Maan, Narendra Kumar & Vikram Kumar for Dronacharya award.

The Table Tennis Federation of India recommended three players Sanil Shetty, Harmeet Desai and Madhurika Patkar for the prestigious Arjuna Award.

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has recommended pistol shooter Heena Sidhu and trap shooter Ankur Mittal to be considered for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. The national shooting body has further recommended Anjum Moudgil (rifle), Shahzar Rizvi (pistol) and Om Prakash Mitharwal (pistol) for the Arjuna Awards.

As per guidelines, to be eligible for the Award, a sportsperson should not only have had good performance consistently for the previous four years at the international level with excellence for the year for which the Award is recommended, but should also have shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline. The awards are given to honour excellence in sports by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India.

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