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Josh Hazlewood Urges Nathan Coluter-Nile To 'Crack Open' England Batsmen
MMNN:3 November 2017

Josh Hazlewood is hoping fellow pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile can "crack open" England's batsmen and "create a few scars in their top order" ahead of the first Ashes Test starting on November 23. England start their Ashes tour on Saturday (November 4) with a two-day match against a Western Australia XI side, captained by Coulter-Nile, in Perth. Coulter-Nile was sidelined from Western Australia's Sheffield Shield game against NSW in Sydney, and will instead get a chance against the English tourists in the two-dayer. Hazlewood, who is expected to lead the Australian new-ball attack with Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in the Ashes series opener in Brisbane later this month, told Coulter-Nile to go after the tourists' batsmen. "Maybe he can crack open a few guys early and create a few scars in their top order and middle order," Hazlewood told reporters late Thursday. "It's disappointing he's not playing in the Shield game against us but he's obviously had injuries in the past few years so they're easing him back into it." The injury-jinxed Coulter-Nile bowled 15 overs in the opening Shield round last week in his first first-class game in more than two years. Coulter-Nile took three for 18 from six explosive overs for WA as Tasmania were skittled for 63 in last week's Shield match in Perth. "That top order, it will be their first real hit-out in Australia and to have a guy like Coults there to warm them up and to maybe create a few scars, would be nice," Hazlewood said. "Obviously their plan is to jump straight into it on the bounciest and quickest wicket and get used to conditions that way." Hazlewood said an Australian Test pace attack comprising Starc and Cummins would be a handful for England in the first Test in Brisbane, where the wicket traditionally rewards fast bowlers with bounce and movement off the pitch. "They're not going to fear me or (off-spinner) Nathan (Lyon) but the other two guys obviously put fear into the batsmen," Hazlewood said.


Hardik Pandya Takes Breathtaking Catch To Dismiss Martin Guptill, MS Dhoni's Reaction Is Priceless
MMNN:2 November 2017

Hardik Pandya might have missed out with the bat in the first Twenty20 international between India and New Zealand at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday night, but the all-rounder surely made his presence felt by taking an absolute stunner to dismiss Kiwi opener Martin Guptill. Pandya sprinted on the long-leg boundary and dived full length to send Guptill packing in the second over of New Zealand's innings. He was mobbed by his teammates but the most priceless reaction came from former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. India had piled on the runs after being put into bat in Ashish Nehra's farewell match. Some electric batting by openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan helped the hosts post 202 for three. Chahal bowled the second over and Guptill tried to attack the leg-spinner almost immediately but his plan failed to work as Pandya produced a brilliant effort to send him back to the pavilion on 4. Earlier, Pandya had failed to deliver with the bat after being promoted up the order. The all-rounder came in at one-down after Dhawan's dismissal but fell prey to Ish Sodhi in just his second ball for a duck. In the field, skipper Virat Kohli gave Pandya just one over with the pacer getting the big wicket of Kane Williamson. Barring a solid knock from Tom Latham (39) and an unbeaten 27 from Mitchell Santner, other New Zealand batsmen failed to get going as the visitors were completely outclassed by the Men in Blue. India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series as New Zealand lost the 1st T20I by 53 runs. India had won the ODI series 2-1.


Pooja Ghatkar, Shahzar Rizvi Win Gold at Commonwealth Shooting Championship
MMNN:1 November 2017

Indian pistol shooters on Wednesday pulled off a clean sweep in the 10m air pistol event at the Commonwealth Shooting Championship with Shahzar Rizvi, Omkar Singh and Jitu Rai winning gold, silver and bronze medals respectively. In the 10m women's air rifle event, Pooja Ghatkar bagged a gold while Anjum Moudgil won the silver medal. The bronze in this event went to Martina Lindsay Veloso of Singapore. India had a productive second day at the range winning as many as five medals, including two gold, two silver and one bronze medal. Earlier, Heena Sidhu claimed the 10m air pistol gold, while Deepak Kumar fetched a silver in the 10m air rifle event to give India a fine start at the Championships yesterday. Sidhu shot a combined score of 626.2 (386+240.8) to claim the top honours. This was Sidhu's second successive international gold after she, along with Jitu Rai, claimed the top position in the 10m air pistol mixed team event in the ISSF World Cup Finals in Delhi earlier this month


Rafael Nadal Prepares To Seal World Number One Status
MMNN:31 October 2017

Rafael Nadal said on Monday that he is ready to consolidate his year-end number one ATP ranking by winning his opening match at the Paris Masters. But the 31-year-old Spaniard - who is also trying to balance the delicate political situation in his native country with his status as an international sportsman - refused to hype up his potential coronation. "I need to win a match. I'm here to try my best - as in every tournament," he said before starting as top seed in the event which is missing Roger Federer due to fatigue. "Hopefully if this (number one) happens, it will be something important for me. "But the season is not over and it's not the moment to think much about that. "I'll just try to think about trying to have the right preparation for the tournament and then try to be ready for the first match." Nadal, who reclaimed the top ranking in August for the first time in three years, is due to start at Bercy against South Korea's Hyeon Chung, who opened on Monday with a 6-0, 6-2 first-round defeat of German Mischa Zverev. Federer is skipping Paris after winning back-to-back titles in Shanghai and Basel and is resting to be prepared for the ATP Finals starting in less than a fortnight in London. Nadal, who withdrew from Basel with a knee problem, does not fault his main rival for looking after personal interests. "Everyone makes the calendar which he thinks will be the best for him," Nadal said. "For him, everything was working well that way. He had a little bit better chance, of course, if he came here. But you never know. "You would think that he would have more points if he had played on clay. But you never know (that) if he played on clay if he would win Wimbledon or he would be able to play as well as he did. "He took his decisions and he did it well. Probably after winning Shanghai and winning Basel he believes that will be better for his body and for his preparation for London to not be here, to rest." Catalonia crisis 'sensitive' Ten-time Roland Garros champion Nadal said that he is hoping to do well in "the most important city for my career". Questioned about the political situation in his native Spain between Madrid and Catalonia, Mallorcan islander Nadal, also a Catalan speaker, was notably circumspect. "In my situation it's very difficult to answer these kind of things because things are, let's say, sensitive in my country. "Anything that I can say will not go the right way. The real thing for me (is that) it's a sad situation and at the same time a difficult situation; it's difficult (for me) to talk 100 percent freely. "I want the things to get better. I don't want the fracture between people in Catalonia. I feel close to Catalonia. I love the people in Catalonia, and most of the Spanish people feel the same. "Love from the rest of the Spanish country, it feels love for Catalonia and that's it. And that's the reason that's why we are sad about that situation.


Lewis Hamilton Claims 4th World Title, Max Verstappen Wins In Mexico
MMNN:30 October 2017

Lewis Hamilton clinched his fourth drivers' world championship in unexpected but dramatic fashion on Sunday when, after a first lap collision with title rival Sebastian Vettel, he finished ninth in the Mexican Grand Prix. The 32-year-old Briton, who would have needed to finish in the top five to be sure of the title if Vettel had won the race, battled from last position in his Mercedes after suffering a puncture that needed an opening lap pit-stop as Dutchman Max Verstappen won the race for Red Bull. Vettel, already a four-time champion, came home fourth for Ferrari after driving through the field from 19th following his part in the early crash with Hamilton. He also pitted for a new front wing. Hamilton's title triumph made him the first Briton to be a four-time champion, elevating him clear of Jackie Stewart, and alongside Vettel and Frenchman Alain Prost. Only German Michael Schumacher with seven titles and Argentine Juan-Manuel Fangio on five have claimed more championships than the Englishman. "I don't know what happened at turn three, I gave him plenty of room," said Hamilton. "It doesn't feel real man. It's not the race you want when you're 40 seconds down, but I never gave up." After five wins in the previous six races, it was a disappointing way for Hamilton -- who said he wanted to win the title in style -- to win the crown. Verstappen won the race convincingly ahead of Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and his Finish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. "I'd like to say a big thanks to everybody in this Mercedes team," said Hamilton. "What you've done the past couple of years is incredible. I'm so grateful."
- 'Start was crucial' - Vettel finished fourth ahead of Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India, Williams' Canadian rookie Lance Stroll on his 19th birthday, and local Mexican hero Sergio Perez in the second Force India. Dane Kevin Magnussen finished eighth for Haas ahead of Hamilton and two-time champion Fernando Alonso, who battled hard to resist Hamilton before finishing 10th for McLaren. Verstappen led from the first lap once Hamilton and Vettel had clashed. "The start was very crucial, I went around the outside and from then on I was just looking after the car and the tyres," said the Dutchman after a third race win. "Big thanks to Red Bull, without them it was not possible. After last week (when he received a five-second penalty in Austin which lost him third place), it was a perfect race." Mercedes' non-executive director Niki Lauda, a three-time world champion, hailed Hamilton's achievement. "Lewis won it, he deserves it," said Lauda who said Vettel was at fault for the opening lap collision. "I don't know why Sebastian drove so aggressively to destroy his race. Lewis was in front and Vettel hit him with his front wing, I just don't understand it." The race was run in near-perfect conditions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, with an air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and the track at 24, Vettel making a decent start from his 50th pole position. But with a long 890-metre straight run to Turn One, both Verstappen and Hamilton made attacks, the Dutchman fighting his way round the outside to snatch the lead.
- 'Deliberate?' Hamilton followed him and as he passed Vettel, the pair collided, the German's Ferrari running into Hamilton's rear right wheel and causing a puncture amid a flurry of flying debris. Both had to limp back to the pits where Vettel took a new front wing and Hamilton, slower to complete the lap, took a new set of tyres. They rejoined in 19th and 20th places with the Englishman a long distance from the field ahead. "Simply, simply lovely," said a delighted Verstappen on his Red Bull team radio as he pulled out a comfortable advantage ahead of Bottas. "Did he hit me deliberately?" asked Hamilton. "Not sure, Lewis," came the reply. As a result of that collision, Hamilton's hopes of taking the title with a win were severely deflated, but not those of being champion - Vettel needing to win, or finish second, to keep his challenge alive. Remarkably, for Hamilton, he was lapped for the first time since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix before he and Vettel began to pass their way through the field to set up a tense closing period. Knowing Vettel was unlikely to climb to second, Hamilton knew he would be champion, but he fought hard to score points and took ninth place with a battling pass of Alonso in the closing laps


Women's Asia Cup: India Thump Singapore 10-0 To Start Their Campaign
MMNN:28 October 2017

Indian eves got off to a roaring start at the Women's Asia Cup 2017 with a dominating 10-0 victory over Singapore on Saturday. Navneet Kaur (3rd & 41st minutes), Rani (15th & 18th) and Navjot Kaur (30th & 50th) netted the ball twice, while Lalremsiami (18th), Deep Grace Ekka (25th), Gurjit Kaur (41st) and Sonika (45th) scored once each to ensure India notched up winning points in their opening match of Pool A. India began with positive intent by attacking Singapore's circle constantly, looking for an opportunity to score. The effort worked as the team won back-to-back penalty corners in the first quarter. Though the first PC was saved by Singapore goalkeeper Felissa Lai, it hardly dented India's spirit as they were precise in their counter. It was Navneet and Rani's goals in the 3rd and 15th minute that gave India a 2-0 lead in the first quarter itself. India continued their fine run in the second quarter as well, adding four more goals, to go into the 10-minute half-time break with an imposing 6-0 lead. After Grace scored off a PC in the 25th minute, dragflicker Gurjit was fierce in her strike to score India's seventh goal through another PC in the 41st minute. India stayed resolute as they continued to put pressure on Singapore's defense, pumping two more goals in the third quarter through Navneet and Sonika. The final 15 minutes saw India win back-to-back PCs but Singapore defense averted conceding goals. However, a quick-thinking Navjot scored a field goal in the 50th minute to earn her team a 10-0 lead. India's defense, meanwhile, put up a strong display throughout the match.


1st T20I: Hasan Ali Powers Pakistan to 7-Wicket Win Over Sri Lanka
MMNN:27 October 2017

Medium pacer Hasan Ali finished with a career best bowling to once again anchor Pakistan's convincing seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Hasan, who took 14 wickets in Pakistan's preceding 5-0 whitewash of the one-day series, took 3-23 in 3.3 overs as Pakistan skittled Sri Lanka out for a paltry 102 in 18.3 overs. Only Seekkuge Prasanna (23 not out) and debutant Sadeera Samarawickrama (23) put some resistance against a varied Pakistan bowling attack. Pakistan did lose Fakhar Zaman (six), Babar Azam (one) and Ahmed Shehzad (22) but were seen through to the target by Shoaib Malik 42 not out and Mohammad Hafeez 25 not out with 16 balls to spare. That gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Malik hit four boundaries in his 31-ball knock while Hafeez's 23-ball innings had three hits to the ropes as the pair added 39 for the unbroken fourth wicket stand. It was again Pakistan's bowling which led them to victory. Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals after looking to build the innings at 51-2 in the ninth over. But they lost their last eight wickets for another 51 runs and were bowled out for their second lowest Twenty20 total against Pakistan. All six Pakistan bowlers took wickets with spinner Mohammad Hafeez (2-10) and pacer Usman Shinwari (2-24) supplementing Hasan to the best effect. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed praised his bowling. "The basic aim is to get wickets and that we are doing," said Ahmed, whose team has now bowled the oppositions all out for the 23rd time -- the most by any team in all Twenty20 cricket. "It was a complete team effort and we are doing everything well," said Ahmed, who now has ten wins in 12 Twenty20 internationas as captain. Sri Lankan skipper Thisara Perera admitted his team was undone by Pakistan's superior bowling. "If we look back we didn't score runs so we have to put a good total on the board to win, full marks to Pakistan's bowling which is one of the best in the world at the moment," said Perera, captaining Sri Lanka for the first time. Sent into bat, Sri Lanka lost Dilshan Munaweera for nought off the third ball of the first over while Dashun Gunathilaka made 11-ball 18 with three boundaries. Samarawickrama and Ashan Priyanjan (12) had added 22 for the third wicket but wicket started to fall in cluster and Sri Lanka could never recover. Just like in one-day series, Hasan was at his best in taking wickets, removing Sachith Pathirana (four), Isuru Udana (nought) and Vikum Sanjaya (four) to improve on his previous best of 3-49 against the West Indies in Dubai last year. Perera made six. It was left to Prasanna to hit two sixes in his run-a-ball 23 to get past 100-mark. The second match is also in Abu Dhbai on Friday before the teams fly to Lahore for the last match on Sunday.


'Cheeku...', MS Dhoni's Gems To Virat Kohli Caught On Stump Mic Again
MMNN:26 October 2017

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has often been described as a cricketing enigma. During his successful tenure as captain, neither fans nor cricket experts could fathom how he arrived at some of the most important decisions on the field. The wicketkeeper-batsman rarely speaks to the media and isn't exactly social-media savvy. Nobody saw Dhoni's Test cricket retirement coming and that surprise element was visible again when he decided to step down from limited-overs captaincy. In a sense, the good old stump mic has become the only source for fans to get a peek inside Mahi's head. The 2nd ODI between India and New Zealand offered fans another chance to gauge Dhoni's cricketing acumen when the stump mic picked up some interesting tidbits. "Cheeku, do-teen jan ko idhar chhor de (Cheeku, keep 2-3 fielders here)," Dhoni was heard telling captain Virat Kohli as Kedar Jadhav bowled. Dhoni was also heard asking Kohli whether he should re-set the field. "Cheeku, ek ball aur rakhegaa, (Cheeku, will you keep it for a delivery more). Ek ball jo pehle rakhaa tha mein catch ke liye (A delivery ago as I had placed it for a catch)." Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had earlier, during an interview with NDTV, alluded to how Dhoni plays a key role in field settings. "Dhoni bhai is still our captain," Chahal said. "Sometimes, when Kohli bhai fields at mid-on or long-on, then we need someone who can guide us too. It is not possible for Kohli to come up and tell what needs to be done. Then, Dhoni takes over," Chahal said. Chahal explained how Dhoni signals to Kohli and tells him to relax in whatever position he is fielding at. "Dhoni signals Kohli to remain at his place. He says - tu wahi reh, mai dekh lunga (You stay there, I will handle)," Chahal added


Cristiano Ronaldo Eyes More FIFA Success as Real Madrid Dominate Awards, Gets Trolled
MMNN:24 October 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo has set his sights on a "lucky seventh" piece of FIFA silverware after collecting his fifth Men's Player of the Year award on Monday. Ronaldo's Real Madrid side, who won both La Liga and the Champions League last season, dominated the 2017 Best FIFA football awards at a star-studded ceremony in London on Monday. The Portuguese ace has scored 44 goals in just 48 games for club and country so far this calendar year, including two in a 4-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in Cardiff on June 3. Ronaldo saw off competition from longstanding Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, the world's most expensive player. But, typical of a footballer who has enjoyed huge success at both Manchester United and Real, Ronaldo was not satisfied. "I want seven. Five is good but seven is my lucky number so seven would be great." Real boss Zinedine Zidane took the corresponding manager of the year award, with the Spanish giants providing five players in the FIFPro team of the year. Ronaldo won the inaugural Best FIFA men's player of the year award last year following the end of a six-year merger between the FIFA honour and France Football's Ballon D'Or. The 32-year-old previously won the FIFA World Player of the Year award, the precursor to the Best FIFA award, in 2008. He has now won the last two FIFA men's trophies as well as three of the last four Ballon D'Or awards. "Thanks a lot for voting for me," said Ronaldo after receiving his trophy from Argentina great Diego Maradona and Brazil's Ronaldo at the London Palladium theatre. "I mention Leo and Neymar, great to be here. Real Madrid supporters, my team-mates, my coach, they all support me all year. "We are in England for the first time and I win consecutive awards," he added. "This is a great moment for me. I have fans all over the world." Zidane won out ahead of Chelsea's Antonio Conte and Juventus's Massimiliano Allegri to be crowned men's coach of the year after becoming the first man to oversee a successful defence of the European Cup in the Champions League era. "I'd like to thank all of the players for making this possible," said Zidane. "This is a very special prize." Real's superb campaign was recognised in a FIFPro team that featured Ronaldo and club-mates Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos. The XI also included FIFA's goalkeeper of the year, Gianluigi Buffon. AC Milan's Leonardo Bonucci and PSG's Dani Alves were in the defence, with Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta in a side also featuring Messi and Neymar.
Giroud wins best goal Juventus and Italy shot-stopper Buffon topped a three-strong shortlist for the goalkeeper award ahead of Real's Keylor Navas and Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer. Monday also saw the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2017 go to Arsenal's Olivier Giroud. The France striker received the award named in honour of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas for a spectacular 'scorpion-kick' against Crystal Palace in January. The Frenchman's flicked volley with his left foot that went in off the crossbar won ahead of goals from Venezuela's Deyna Castellanos, 18, and South African goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke. Meanwhile tournament hosts the Netherlands' achievement in winning their first major female football title, the 2017 Women's European Championship, was recognised with Women's Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards for Sarina Wiegman and Lieke Martens respectively. Supporters of Celtic won the Fan Award for the way they marked the 50th anniversary of the Glasgow club's European Cup triumph. The Fair Play award went to Francis Kone for saving the life of goalkeeper Martin Berkovec, who nearly suffocated as a result of swallowing his tongue during a Czech league match in February.


India vs New Zealand: Dean Jones Tries To Downplay Virat Kohli Milestone, Gets Trolled
MMNN:23 October 2017

Dean Jones seems to get a kick from riling up Indian cricket fans and the former Australian batsman was once again up to his mischief following the first One-Day International between India and New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. India skipper Virat Kohli completed a few milestones on the day, one of which was that he became the fastest to score 1000 runs in ODIs against New Zealand, leapfrogging none other than Dean Jones to top spot. Jones had taken 19 innings to reach the landmark while the Indian run-machine got there in 17 innings. Jones took to Twitter to congratulate Kohli but had a sly message on the side. Replying to a Indian fan's post, Jones wrote: "Well played @imVkohli !! But then again .. it's only New Zealand!" Most fans on Twitter understood that Jones was just making some mischief and decided to have some banter with the Australian Kohli leads the list of fastest to 1000 ODI runs vs New Zealand ahead of Dean Jones. Another Indian, Virender Sehwag (21), is third while Jacques Kallis, who took 23 innings to achieve the feat, is fourth. Mark Waugh and Brian Lara (24) share the fifth spot. Besides becoming the fastest to 1000 ODI runs vs New Zealand, Kohli struck his 31st hundred to become the second-highest century-maker in One-day International cricket. Kohli went past Ricky Ponting's 30 centuries and is now behind only Sachin Tendulkar, who has 49 ODI hundreds to his name. Earlier, the Indian skipper completed double century of ODI appearances and became the 13th Indian cricketer and 72nd overall to play 200 ODI matches. Kohli's century, however, was overshadowed by Ross Taylor (95) and Tom Latham (103 not out). The duo put on a record stand and helped New Zealand earn a clinical victory. Both the batsmen batted with a lot of purpose, chasing down a target of 281 in 49 overs with minimum fuss


Kuldeep Yadav Cements Place in Indian Bowling Attack
MMNN:18 October 2017

India's rising star, spinner Kuldeep Yadav, believes bowling on concrete has made him battle-ready for any surface that a rival cricket power can lay out for him. Kuldeep, who claimed a hat-trick in his country's triumphant one-day series against Australia, has become a household name at 22 and with just two Tests and 11 one-day internationals to his name. He played a big part in India's 4-1 win over Australia, but many believe the real test will come in tours of South Africa and England next year. Ahead of India's series against New Zealand, starting Sunday, Kuldeep told AFP in an interview that his varied left-arm wrist spin will be a weapon on any track. "It doesn't matter to me where I am playing because since my childhood I have bowled on cemented wickets. So if you can turn the ball on concrete then you can spin it anywhere," Kuldeep said. "If you have skill, good variation and are beating the batsmen in the air then you can find success anywhere," added Kuldeep, who hails from the northern city of Kanpur. Kuldeep started as a pace bowler but at the age of nine he switched to wrist spin at his coach's insistence. "I started my career in 2004 as a fast bowler. After practising for a few months my coach advised me to switch to spin. "I did not like it at the start, but the first ball I bowled was wrist spin and I had no idea what it was. So, he must have thought I have a talent and he worked on it. "Initially it was tough but when I got down to it, the hard work paid off."
Warner wicket Kuldeep has made his mark in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition with the Kolkata Knight Riders. But his rise as a top-class spinner has been instrumental in India becoming top of the world Test and one-day rankings. The latest addition to India's rich spin tradition made an instant impact with four wickets in his debut Test against Australia in Dharamsala this year. He impressed in Sri Lanka in September and then bamboozled Australian batsmen, including star opener David Warner, with his wrist spin, winning many more fans. "Australia are a good team and compared to other sides always play dominating cricket. Their batsmen don't allow you to settle and just want to dominate a bowler," Kuldeep said. "Australia are a dangerous side because they play freely and put you under pressure. I played in the West Indies and then in Sri Lanka but they don't play as attacking as the Aussies." Kuldeep grew up watching videos of spin legend Shane Warne and still calls the Aussie great his reference point in learning the rare art. Warne recently compared Kuldeep to Pakistan's established Test spinner Yasir Shah, saying the Indian can become "the best leg-spinner" if he remains patient.
'I don't plan much' "It's great to be compared to a top spinner like Yasir Shah. It's heartening to see praise coming from my idol. It reassures my belief in my talent," said Kuldeep. "It makes me happy that he (Warne) backs me and I feel there is some more talent in me." Kuldeep has formed a partnership with leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and they are providing competition for veterans Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. "You cannot replace anyone. Ashwin and Jaddu bhai are the number one and number two spinners of India and I will always look up to learn from them," Kuldeep said of his seniors. "They have done extremely well in Test, ODI and T20 cricket. We are very young and have to play much more cricket to even get close to them," he added. Kuldeep insisted that individual success comes out of the team's hard work and praised skipper Virat Kohli for nurturing young talent. "It has been a team effort and especially the way Virat Kohli has led the team and backed us youngsters. It has made all the difference and been the biggest factor for our success," he said. "I don't plan much. I just think that every game is important and the more I keep performing, the better my chances of enjoying a long run with team India


Asia Cup 2017: Red-Hot India To Play South Korea In Super 4s On Wednesday
MMNN:17 October 2017

An unbeaten India would start as overwhelming favourites against an under-performing but dangerous South Korea in their first match of the Super 4 stage in the 10th Asia Cup hockey tournament on Wednesday. India, who finished the pool stages with an all-win record, looked the most dominating team in the tournament so far in all aspects of the game. Korea, on the other hand, were far from impressive as they finished second in Pool B behind the ever-improving Malaysia. Playing under a new chief coach Sjoerd Marijne, the Indians rose to the occasion and have displayed beautiful one-touch hockey, which they are known for. The Indian strike force comprising Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Upadahay and Chinglensana Singh has been the most impressive, scoring field goals at will with their deft stick work. The Indian midfield has been controlled well by talismanic Sardar Singh in the company of skipper Manpreet Singh. The backline, too, have shown bright under the watchful guard of Amit Rohidas, Harmanpreet Singh and young Dipsan Tirkey. What would be a matter of concern for Marijne is the penalty corner conversion rate even though Harmanpreet has been on target on a few occasions. But going by India's performance so far -- 5-1 win over Japan, 7-0 thrashing of Bangladesh and 3-1 win over arch-rivals Pakistan -- they are expected to prevail over Korea with consummate ease. In terms of world rankings as well, the Indians start as favourites. While India are placed sixth in the world, Korea occupy the 13th spot. In the absence of the experienced PR Sreejesh, two young Indian custodians -- Suraj Karkera and Akash Chikte -- have risen to the occasion and have shown that they are no pushovers at the international stage. But all said and done, the Indians can't afford to relax and be complacent, especially against a side like the Koreans, who are known for their fast, counter-attacking play. The nimble-footed Koreans will be eager to prove a point, especially after a unimpressive showing in the pool stages, and can rattle any opponents with their pace on their given day. Having said that, the Indians are expected to win the encounter with ease, but they can't afford to relax, especially at this stage where all the four top teams will play against each other and the top two sides will eventually progress to the final. Meanwhile in the other Super 4 match of the day, Pakistan will take on Pool B toppers Malaysia, who have turned out to be the surprise package from the pool stages.


India vs Australia: Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni Cheer Fans With Left-Handed Batting
MMNN:14 October 2017

Fans had thronged the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad to witness an electrifying third Twenty20 International match between India and Australia to decide the winner of the series. After handing a 4-1 defeat to the Aussies, India were the clear favorites to win the T20 series. The hosts had won the first match and were looking to win the remaining two. However, David Warner-led side roared back in the second T20 to level the series and set up a virtual final on Friday. But due to wet outfield the match was called off and left the fans disappointing. However, in between all the chaos and field inspection, India batting stars, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya took to the field to try left-handed batting, giving fans a reason to cheer. The official Twitter handle of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) uploaded photos of them batting left-handed. Hyderabad had been receiving heavy rains for more than a week which left the outfield unfit for play. According to the umpires, the outfield was so sodden that there was no real chance of play despite the fact that it did not rain for quite a while. After the match was delayed, the ground at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium was inspected three times but despite all efforts from the groudstaff play was not possible. BCCI uploaded a photo of both captains, Kohli and David Warner, sharing the trophy as the series ended in a 1-1 draw. With the Australia series done and dusted, India now shift their focus to a three-match ODI and T20 series with New Zealand, commencing October 22


International Cricket Council Confirms Test Championship And ODI League
MMNN:13 October 2017

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has approved the much-talked about Test Championship and One-Day International League, the global cricketing body's chief executive Dave Richardson said on Friday. The Test series league will see nine teams play six series over two years - three home and three away, while the ODI league will be a direct qualification pathway towards the ICC Cricket World Cup and will be contested by the 12 Full Members plus the winners of the current ICC World Cricket League Championship. The ICC gave the green light to a nine-team Test league and a 13-team ODI league aimed at bringing context and meaning to bilateral cricket during its board meeting in Auckland. The schedules of the leagues, due to start in 2019 and 2020 respectively, will now be finalised. In the first edition of the ODI league, each side will play four home and four away series each comprising of three matches moving to all teams playing each other from the second cycle onwards. "I would like to congratulate our Members on reaching this agreement and putting the interests of the development of the game first. Bringing context to bilateral cricket is not a new challenge, but this is the first time a genuine solution has been agreed on," ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said. "This means fans around the world can enjoy international cricket knowing every game counts and in the case of the ODI league, it counts towards qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup," Manohar said. "This is a significant point in time for ICC Members and our collective desire to secure a vibrant future for international bilateral cricket. The approval of both leagues is the conclusion of two years of work from the Members who have explored a whole range of options to bring context to every game," ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said. "The ICC Board decision today means we can now go and finalise a playing schedule for the first edition as well as the points system, hosting arrangements and competition terms," Richardson said. "Our priority was to develop an international cricket structure that gave context and meaning across international cricket and particularly in the Test arena. This has been delivered and every Test in the new League will be a five-day Test format," Richardson added. "However throughout the discussions about the future of Test cricket it became clear that whilst context is crucial we must also consider alternatives and trial initiatives that may support the future viability of Test cricket. The trial is exactly that, a trial, just in the same way day-night Tests and technology have been trialled by Members," he said. "Four-day Tests will also provide the new Test playing countries with more opportunities to play the longer version of the game against more experienced opponents, which, in turn, will help them to hone their skills and close the gap with the top nine ranked teams," he added. A number of decisions around event hosts were taken by the ICC Board in Auckland. The ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier will be held in Zimbabwe in March 2018. The process for the appointment of the ICC female independent director was also confirmed in the meeting.


Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez Could Leave In January, Says Arsene Wenger
MMNN:12 October 2017

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger conceded on Thursday he may have no option but to sell star players Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the January transfer window. The pair are both out of contract at the end of the season and are yet to agree new deals. As things stand, they will be able to leave the Emirates Stadium for free, meaning January will be Arsenal's last opportunity to cash in on their two most high-profile players. "It is possible," Wenger told a press conference ahead of his side's trip to Watford on Saturday. "Once you're in our kind of situation, we have envisaged every solution, yes." Asked if Arsenal had set a deadline for contract negotiations with the pair to conclude, Wenger replied: "No. Not at the moment." Chile forward Sanchez, 28, joined Arsenal from Barcelona in July 2014, a year after 28-year-old Germany playmaker Ozil's arrival from Real Madrid. The signings electrified Arsenal's fan base, but for all their quality, the duo have thus far been unable to end the club's 14-year wait for the Premier League title. Sanchez has been linked with a number of major clubs, among them Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Ozil, meanwhile, is reported to have attracted interest from Manchester United, who are managed by his former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho. Earlier this week, Ozil's agent, Erkut Sogut, indicated talks with Arsenal were progressing positively. "That's my understanding, yes," said Wenger. "I always said the fact that we didn't find an agreement last year doesn't mean the player will necessarily leave. Both players look happy here and overall I hope the situation can be turned around."
- Wilshere in 'best form' -
Ozil could feature at Watford, having returned to training following a knee injury. But Sanchez is due to be assessed after playing in Chile's 3-0 loss to Brazil on Wednesday, which ended their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup. "I will have to speak to him," Wenger said. "Yesterday afternoon I watched the whole Brazil against Chile game to see how difficult the game was. "I must say he got some special treatment -- it was a very physical game and mentally I will have to assess the situation when he comes back tomorrow." Centre-back Shkodran Mustafi also endured a miserable international break, the Germany international suffering a thigh injury against Azerbaijan that will sideline him for four to six weeks. But his absence will soon be offset by the return of Laurent Koscielny, who is closing on a comeback from an Achilles injury. "Koscielny has a definite final test tomorrow," Wenger said. "At the moment, he's not available. He trained on his own and the first signs are positive, so we decided to give him a test tomorrow." Striker Danny Welbeck is back in contention after a groin injury, while left-back Sead Kolasinac faces a late fitness test on a hip complaint. Jack Wilshere is yet to play a minute of Premier League football and has lost his place in the England squad, but Wenger believes the midfielder is on course to go to next year's World Cup in Russia. "I believe that Jack at the moment is in the best form I've seen him in for a long time," Wenger said.


India vs Australia, 2nd T20I: Virat Kohli, Out For Zero, Sets A World Record
MMNN:11 October 2017

India had a forgettable outing in the 2nd T20 international against Australia on Tuesday as the visitors bounced back in the series with a crushing 8-wicket win at the Baraspara Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday. Jason Behrendorff (4/21) ripped through the high-profile Indian batting to restrict the home team to a below-par 118, which the visitors chased down in just 15.3 overs. The 27-year-old Western Australian swung the ball both ways on a helping pitch and had Rohit Sharma (8), Shikhar Dhawan (2) and Virat Kohli (0) among his high-profile scalps. The India captain departed after getting a faint inside edge while attempting a flick and the looping ball was caught by the left-arm pacer himself. Interestingly, it was the 28-year-old Kohli's first duck in T20I cricket. It was also the first duck by an Indian captain in 85 T20I matches Behrendorff was also responsible for handing legendary Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid their last ducks I don't think we were good enough with the bat. The wicket was bit sticking to start with. It was difficult for them as well, but after the dew set in, they got away," said Kohli after the loss. "But we speak about when the situations are not in our favour is when we have to put 120 percent on the field. It is the attitude that matters most and it is something the team embraces," he added. He was all praise for Behrendorff. "I thought the ball to Rohit was very good. His line and length was very tight. He made us think. Credit to him for hitting the right areas. He definitely had a top class day today," said Kohli.


FIFA U-17 World Cup: Jeakson Thounaojam Creates History, Colombia Sweat Hard To Win 2-1
MMNN:10 October 2017

A bright India provided hope for a brighter future but their dream ended in a heartbreak following a 1-2 defeat to Colombia on Monday in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, leaving the many heads totting the stands teary-eyed. So near, yet so far. India's striker Jeakson Thounaojam created hopes for the Indian flag to fly high in the 82nd minute of the game by scoring an equaliser against Colombia in India's second group match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. To the surprise, and delight, of the sizeable crowd at the stadium, Jeakson became the first ever Indian player to score a goal in the World Cup. But, the dream ended in a heartbreak following a 1-2 defeat to Colombia on Monday leaving the many heads totting the stands teary-eyed. When defensive midfielder Jeakson Thounaojam neutralised Colombia's lead, India were moments away from securing their maiden draw in only the second attempt. But that was not to be as Juan Penaloza (83rd) scored his second of the night on the counter to leave the home players, as well as the crowd, crestfallen Nonetheless, a charged up India produced one of their finest performances before going down in front of disappointed but proud group of spectators, who witnessed a historic first ever FIFA World Cup goal. India scored when Jeakson, the tallest player in the side, headed in a Sanjeev Stalin corner, sending the whole stadium into a state of delirium. The move to make four changes by coach Luis Norton de Matos proved to be a wise one as the taller Indian players ensured they were equal to the task, when it came to the aerial battle against the well-built Colombians. It was a very different India that turned up after the 0 -3 loss to USA three nights ago. They were on the ball from the word go and even though the Colombians had more of possession, India very much managed to make their presence felt. There was heightened activity in the Colombian box, with Ninthoinganba Meetei initiating surging runs down the right flank, each steps raising hopes for the improbable. This was in the in the beginning of the Group A match. To the surprise, and delight, of the sizeable crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, India had Colombia at their mercy in the 16th minute. But, to the disappointment of the thousands occupying the stands, Abhijeet Sarkar, having found a clear view of the goal, shot over. India's hopes went up in smoke after coming agonizingly close to scoring their first ever World Cup goal. In the cut-throat world of international football, Colombia may be many, many rungs above India, but the host nation had the momentum on this night. And they used it to rattle the Colombians on a few occasions. India came close again, closer would be appropriate, but Rahul Kanoly's volley thudded against the post instead of finding the back of the net. The pain on coach Luis Norton de Matos was palpable as the Indians once fumbled after coming so close. With both teams failing to break the deadlock, India went into the breather with their heads held high, but cursing their fate. The two chances would haunt them for long. Hitting the framework, they say, is bad omen in football and the saying stayed true as Colombia broke the deadlock, and Indian hearts, with a fine strike after the change of ends. It was Juan Penaloza who put Colombia ahead in the 51st minute. The midfielder ran to the edge of the box and kept the Indian defenders guessing with his deft footwork, before unleashing a rasping left-footed volley to the bottom left corner of Dheeraj Singh's post. The assist was made by captain Thomas Gutierrez, and as the ball found the back of the net, the Latin Americans ran towards their dugout and celebrated. They were relieved to have opened their account after suffering a reverse against Ghana in the opening encounter. India's number one goalkeeper, on this occasion, had no chance even though he had another brilliant night under the bar pulling off a couple incredible saves, showing nice anticipation. Down by a goal in this crucial encounter, India looked eager to respond as Meetei delivers a cross from the right flank, only to find Rahul Kanoly's shot wide off the target.


FIFA U-17 World Cup, Preview: Another Acid Test Awaits As India Face Colombia
MMNN:9 October 2017

The longingness to be noticed will again be the main driving force for India as they brace up to face another mighty opponents in Colombia in the FIFA U-17 World Cup here on Monday. In the country's maiden appearance in any World Cup game, India got a taste of the cut-throat world of international football as they were blanked 3-0 by USA in the tournament's opening night at a nearly packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. India showed heart but lacked in skill and quality against a much superior United States of America. And a similar task awaits the host nation as well. Midfield lynchpin Suresh Singh felt India would need to improve their final pass, but an improvement in department would not be enough against Colombia's all-round superiority. The hosts would like to take some inspiration from Niger, another World Cup debutants, who kicked off their campaign in the tournament with a win over North Korea last night. If the African nation can, so can the Indians. Though it is easier said than done. First up, India tried, but could not really show the world that they belong to this league in a tournament that has produced players who would go on to become stars. Coach Luis Norton de Matos was not happy with the outcome of the opening game, and he would be hoping that his players put up a better show against the South American giants. "Colombia are tough opponents and they possess the necessary elements to hurt us. We have to be on our toes all throughout and have to focus on the task at hand. They (Colombia) will also give us a tough physical fight but we are ready for it. We will play to win," Matos said. Against USA, the team showed sparks on occasions, but the Portuguese would want his players go beyond that tomorrow. India did create chances and impressed with the skills, once also coming agonisingly close to scoring their first-ever World Cup goal. But USA was clearly the better of the two teams, dominating throughout the game in front of a strong home crowd egging them on. Komal Thatal, the striker with a blond hairdo, caught the eyes with his runs down the left and dribbling skills. Thatal, who hails from Bhaichung Bhutia's state Sikkim, created quite a few openings for India. Though he was once guilty of wasting a chance in the second half when his lob was off target. His partner up front, Aniket Jadhav, also impressed with his game, and both have a bright future. The defensive duo of Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh tried their best to keep USA at bay, but the gulf was too much for India to bridge. Physically as well as technically, India lagged. But for some brilliant saves and fine anticipation by goalkeeper Moirangthem Deeraj Singh, India would have lost by a bigger margin. Playing in their maiden FIFA tournament, rank outsiders India were outclassed by a side that was a few notches above the 'Boys in Blue'. India were way behind as far as the accuracy in passes, the first touch, positional sense were concerned against USA. India were pushed back in their own half most of the time in the face of incessant US attack. Tomorrow will be a different day with a different opponent, but the raids are likely to continue. More or less, it is going to be the same against Colombia. Outside the field of play, Matos will hope that a sizeable crowd will again turn up to cheer them on. Having tasted defeat against Ghana in their first game, Colombia will be desperate to open their account and will certainly go all out. They will look to score as many as possible to bag full points and improve their goal difference. Colombia have so far competed in five editions of the tournament, finishing third on two occasions. They hustled and bustled their way to India with a last-ditch victory over continental rival Paraguay, but they will still be a handful for the Indians. The first to land in India for the tournament, Colombia have acclimatised themselves with the conditions, though they started the tournament with a reverse


India vs Australia: Steve Smith Ruled Of T20 Series In Massive Setback To Struggling Visitors
MMNN:7 October 2017

The Australian cricket team was dealt a massive blow on Saturday as captain Steve Smith was ruled out of the Twenty20 series against India due to a shoulder injury. Cricket Australia confirmed that vice-captain David Warner will stand in as captain for the three-match series. Marcus Stoinis will replace Smith in the squad for the remainder of the series. Smith will return home and is expected to be fit for next month's Ashes. "Smith landed awkwardly on his right shoulder while diving in the field during the fifth ODI against India last Sunday," team doctor Richard Saw stated in a Cricket Australia release. Australia lost the fifth ODI in Nagpur by seven wickets as India completed a 4-1 series win over the world champions to reclaim the number one spot in the ICC rankings. "Following the match he complained of shoulder soreness, which has not settled and is restricting his ability to bat and throw," Cricket Australia stated. "Subsequently he has had an MRI scan which has excluded serious injury, but we believe the best course of action is for him to not continue to aggravate his shoulder and allow it to recover." Smith will return to action in the domestic Sheffield Shield competition. "He will have further investigation upon his return to Australia but we remain confident he will be available for the start of the Sheffield Shield season." Smith had attended Australia's practice on Friday as it took place after afternoon showers forced India to abandon their session for a second successive day. Australia have looked out of sorts in the limited-overs series and with the skipper being ruled out, it will be a big task for Warner to salvage some pride ahead of next month's Ashes.


FIFA U-17 World Cup: Sachin Tendulkar's Inspiring Message For Indian Team
MMNN:6 October 2017

Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar joined the chorus in wishing the young Indian team for their campaign in the upcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup that kick starts on Friday against the formidable USA at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Tendulkar took to Twitter and wrote, "My best wishes to the @IndianFootball U-17 team for the World Cup! Enjoy your game & chase your dreams because dreams do come true! @FIFAcom." Just like in his playing days, when the former Indian batsman inspired a generation of players to pick up a cricket bat and play, the 44-year-old uploaded a video on the social networking site where he spoke extensively on the importance of not only playing well on the field but also prove to the world that our country is capable of hosting tournaments of such stature and can be greats hosts as well. "From tomorrow, the U-17 World Cup will be played in India. It is a big moment for all of us. The kind of response the tournament has garnered, it is simply incredible. I am very happy about it. But here, India have a great opportunity to prove something on and off the field. Off the field we need to show that we are good hosts and how we have responded to such a big tournament and on the field how tough a opposition we are to play against. I am so sure that the boys are going to go there and give their best. Come on India. Dikha do. All the very best boys," he said in a video uploaded on Twitter. Tendulkar called time on his international career in the year 2013 and till date is regarded as one of the best cricketers to have ever played the game. The Mumbai-born star has more international runs than anybody in the history of cricket and it is highly unlikely that his century of centuries will be ever broken.


South Africa Bank On Kagiso Rabada, Bangladesh Aim To Avoid 2-0 Cleansweep
MMNN:5 October 2017

Having failed to take advantage of favourable first Test conditions, the Bangladesh batsmen have a chance to make amends against the least experienced bowling line-up South Africa have fielded in many years. But conditions are likely to be more bowler-friendly in the second Test starting at the Mangaung Oval on Friday and, on the evidence of Potchefstroom, the tourists are ill-equipped to counter even a South African attack stripped of four front-line fast bowlers because of injury. Morne Morkel could not finish the first Test because of a side strain, adding to a casualty list which includes Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris. It leaves Kagiso Rabada, 22, as the leader of the attack. His tally of 92 wickets in 21 Tests dwarfs those of his likely pace partners, Duanne Olivier (13 in four Tests), Wayne Parnell (13 in five) and Andile Phehlukwayo, who took a single wicket in his debut appearance in Potchefstroom. Balanced against that is the emergence of left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who is being hailed as South Africa's best spin bowler of the modern era. Maharaj picked up seven wickets in Potchefstroom to take his total to 50 in just 12 Tests. Despite a convincing 333-run win in the first Test, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was unequivocal in calling for a pitch with more pace and bounce. "When you play countries like Bangladesh it is important to get whatever you can (in conditions) to get an advantage," he said. Weather conditions, though, could play a role. South Africa only recently emerged from winter and Bloemfontein, 280 kilometres (174 miles) from Potchefstroom, is similarly susceptible to cold overnight and early morning conditions which affect grass growth and pitch preparation. In the only first-class match played at the Oval this season, 11 wickets fell on the first day, but only another nine went down while 1,010 runs were scored on the next three. Bangladesh's misreading of conditions in Potchefstroom was extraordinary for a team with an experienced player in captain Mushfiqur Rahim and a coaching staff headed by Sri Lankan Chandika Hathurusingha and former West Indian bowling great Courtney Walsh. Not only did Rahim pass up the opportunity to bat first in ideal conditions after winning the toss, but Bangladesh picked only one spin bowler in Mehidy Hasan. Their three seam bowlers, with the exception of left-armer Mustafizur Rahman, were largely ineffectual on an easy-pace pitch. Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, whose 54 Test wickets are the most of any member of the touring squad, would probably have been more effective and may well be picked for Bloemfontein, even if conditions are not spin-friendly


India Women's Team Remain Unchanged At No.4 But Gain Three Points
MMNN:3 October 2017

India have remained static at No.4 position but gained three significant points to reach 116 in the ICC Women's Team Rankings for the first time following the annual rankings update. The Indian women's team, which had reached the final of the ICC Women's World Cup in July, has closed in the gap to third-placed New Zealand. New Zealand maintained their third position with their pre-update tally of 118 points. India captain Mithali Raj said her team is aiming to climb up to No. 3 position. "Gaining these valuable points is no mean achievement and have come after some fine performances over the past year, including at the World Cup. I'm sure this will inspire our team in matches ahead," said Mithali. "We are now close to New Zealand in the rankings and will aim to be number three," she added. The table is headed by England, who have dethroned Australia from the top position. England are now level with Australia on 128 points but ahead on decimal points after the annual update, following which results from the 2013-14 season are no longer included. The rankings now take into account 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons at 50 per cent each while the 2016-17 season accounts for 100 per cent. England and Australia are the only sides to see a change in the rankings. The Windies are in fifth position but have lost four points to be at 101, South Africa at sixth are on 93 points, Pakistan have lost one point and are on 72 while Sri Lanka too are unchanged in points to be at eighth position.


Arsene Wenger Savours 21st Anniversary as Arsenal Sink Brighton
MMNN:2 October 2017

Arsene Wenger celebrated the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Arsenal in winning style as the Gunners cruised to a 2-0 victory over Brighton on Sunday. There are many reasons for Arsenal fans to look back fondly on the day Wenger was hired but, after several years of underachievement, the Frenchman finds himself engaged in a fight to restore his tarnished reputation. It is too early to predict whether Arsenal can end their 13-year wait to win a fourth Premier League title under Wenger, but there were some encouraging signs as Brighton were put to the sword at the Emirates Stadium. Nacho Monreal opened the scoring in the first half before Alex Iwobi, converting Alexis Sanchez's majestic assist, wrapped up the points after the interval. Arsenal's sixth win from their last seven matches in all competitions moved them to within six points of leaders Manchester City heading into the international break. Fittingly, Wenger marked his milestone date with a notable record of his own. Brighton are the 45th different Premier League club to be defeated by Arsenal since Wenger took over in 1996, breaking the record he shared with Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson. Just 64 hours after winning at Belarus's Bate Borisov in the Europa League on Thursday, Arsenal were back in action and Wenger freshened up his side by making nine changes. Wenger this week claimed Arsenal are a more unified team since the transfer window closed just after their humiliating 4-0 defeat at Liverpool. There was ample evidence to support that theory as his team tore into Brighton right from the start. Alexandre Lacazette almost gave them the perfect start after just 65 seconds when his fierce drive flashed past Albion goalkeeper Mat Ryan, only to cannon back off a post. Albion striker Tomer Hemed was serving the first of a three-game suspension, so Izzy Brown started up front and the youngster went close with a header from Pascal Gross's free-kick. That effort aside, it was one way traffic as Wenger's men left Brighton trailing in their wake time and again. Irrepressible Sanchez and Iwobi tested Ryan from long-range before Monreal gave Arsenal the lead in the 16th minute. Granit Xhaka's free-kick to the far post was headed back by Lacazette and after Shkodran Mustafi had his shot cleared off the line, Monreal chested down and fired home from 10 yards. It was Monreal's first league goal for Arsenal since March 2013 and the Spanish defender celebrated with a fist-pumping roar of delight. Solly March nearly silenced Arsenal's cheers moments later when he unleashed a powerful 20-yard shot that crashed back off a post. The Gunners should have doubled their lead before half-time when Brighton defender Lewis Dunk slipped, putting Lacazette through on goal. But Lacazette let Brighton off the hook with a tame shot straight at Ryan, while Aaron Ramsey saw his low strike repelled by the Australian keeper following an incisive Arsenal counter. Those misses didn't prove a source of regret as Sanchez produced a sublime contribution to set up Iwobi's first goal since January in the 56th minute. Exchanging passes in a blur of movement, Ramsey and Lacazette worked the ball smoothly into Sanchez inside the penalty area. Faced with three Albion defenders, Sanchez knew a shot would be blocked, so he instinctively guided a back-heel towards the unmarked Iwobi, who had the simple task of firing home from eight yards. Sanchez was in irrepressible mood and it took a combined of Dunk and Ryan to keep out his goal-bound shot, before Sead Kolasinac's header was cleared off the line by March.


Cristiano Ronaldo Has A 'New Animal' And It's Worth An Eye-Popping USD 3 Million
MMNN:29 September 2017

Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo has a fleet of exquisite cars and the Real Madrid icon has added another "animal" to his collection. Ronaldo took to Instagram to share a video of his new Buggati Chiron, priced at a whopping USD 3 million. In the video, Ronaldo can be seen driving his new Buggati with son, Cristiano Jr, giving him company in the passenger seat. "New animal in the building Bugatti Chiron," Ronaldo wrote on Instagram. Chiron which is seen as a successor to the Buggati Veyron, the one-time fastest car in the world, has been personalised for the former Manchester United forward and features a CR7 logo on the headrests. Ronaldo unveiled the latest addition to his amazing collection of cars after making his 400th appearance for Real Madrid. The 32-year-old is already well-versed with what a Buggati offers, having already owned the Veyron but the Chiron could be the most expensive of the lot. In February this year, Ronaldo had also featured in Bugatti's promotional video for the Chiron. Meanwhile, Ronaldo scored twice on his 400th Real Madrid appearance as the Champions League holders defeated Borussia Dortmund 3-1 on Tuesday night. Ronaldo, without a goal in his last two outings following his return from a five-match domestic ban, took his Real haul to 411 on what was also his 150th career appearance in Europe.


Lionel Messi's Barcelona eke out win vs Sporting Lisbon at UEFA?Champions League
MMNN:28 September 2017

Lionel Messi will have to wait for his 100th goal in Europe after Barcelona eked out a 1-0 win at Sporting Lisbon thanks to an own-goal in the UEFA?Champions League on Wednesday. Center back Sebastian Coates was the unlucky scorer when Messi's free kick deflected off another Sporting defender and Barcelona's Luis Suarez. The ball then hit Coates and bounced into the net four minutes after halftime. We ended up losing to a freak own-goal," Sporting coach Jorge Jesus said Barcelona offered little else in attack, other than a couple of shots each by Messi and Suarez, and needed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen to ensure the points with a key save as Sporting hemmed the visitors into their area. The ugly slog of a match was interrupted in the 90th minute when a fan invaded the pitch to approach Messi, before being escorted off. "We knew that to get a win here we would have to dig in. The stadium has a great atmosphere and the adversary was very strong," said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde, whose first season in charge has produced an eight-match winning streak and first place in both the Spanish league and the Champions League group. Barcelona took the lead in Group D with six points from two matches after beating Juventus 3-0 in their group opener. Juventus and Sporting have three points. Juventus beat Greek side Olympiakos 2-0 in the group's other game Wednesday, with Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Mandzukic scoring for last year's finalist. The match at Jose Alvalade Stadium was that rarest of wins for Barcelona, one that depended more on its defense anchored by the solid Ter Stegen than its vaunted attack. Newcomer Nelson Semedo continued to impress on Barcelona's right side, and Samuel Umtiti has consolidated himself as Gerard Pique's partner in the center of the back line. The only trouble spot was on the left, where Jordi Alba had trouble keeping the speedy Gelson Martins in check, but his fellow defenders were there to cover. Limited to a long-range attempt by Cristiano Puccini and the crosses of Martins, Sporting's Seydou Doumbia tried to draw a foul on the edge of the area when he went down after contact with Pique. The referee booked the striker, who also injured his left leg as he fell. Doumbia was replaced not long after by Bas Dost just before halftime. Barcelona broke through after Sporting's Marcos Acuna earned a yellow card for fouling Semedo on the right side of the area. Messi crossed the resulting free kick into the packed area, where it was grazed by a Sporting player before ricocheted off Suarez and Coates. "It was a very good free kick by Messi," Valverde said. "It was touched and we know what can happen when the ball gets into the area." After Messi and Suarez both threatened again, Sporting had its best moments of the game. The hoem side went close to an equalizer in the 71st when Dost deftly let a pass run through to the unmarked Bruno Fernandes, only for Ter Stegen to save his shot. Barcelona substitute Paulinho had a great opportunity to seal the win late, but goalkeeper Rui Patricio denied him in a one-on-one. Messi, who is on a scoring run this season with 12 goals, was left on 99 career goals for Barcelona in European competitions. The Argentina star has scored 96 in the Champions League.


Hardik Pandya Is Better Than Me, Says Former India Captain Kapil Dev
MMNN:27 September 2017

Hardik Pandya has been making the headlines off late due to his performances and has impressed one and all with praise coming in from all corners for the Baroda all-rounder. A recent notable addition to that list of admirers is former India captain Kapil Dev. Speaking about Pandya in a press conference, Kapil said that Pandya has the ability to become a far better cricketer than what he is now with a lot of hard work but also sent out a warning of not putting added pressure on the youngster. "Hardik Pandya is better than me. But he has to do a lot of hard work. It is still too early. We should not create unnecessary burden on him. He has the talent and ability to be a great player," the 58-year-old said. Earlier, former India captain Rahul Dravid said that Pandya has turned his career around by playing as the situations demanded in the ongoing One-day International (ODI) series against Australia. Dravid further added that he hoped that the current India A players are able to emulate Pandya's batting approach. "A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he's willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. It's not about playing just the one way you want to play," Dravid was quoted by PTI as telling ESPNcricinfo.com. Pandya has been instrumental in India taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ongoing 5-match ODI series against Australia. In the first match, he scored 83 off 66 balls and added 118 runs along with MS Dhoni to take India to a challenging total of 281 for 7 after the hosts found themselves in a spot of bother, having lost half their side with not too many on the board. In the third ODI, Pandya's blistering 78 off 72 balls took the game away from the Aussies and helped India clinch the series with still two matches to play. The fourth ODI will be played on Thursday, September 28 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.


That's Cheating', Tony Pulis Rounds On Alexis Sanchez After Arsenal Win
MMNN:26 September 2017

West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis branded Alexis Sanchez a cheat after accusing the Arsenal star of diving to win a free kick in Monday's Premier League clash. Pulis was furious that Sanchez went unpunished after winning a first-half free kick on the edge of the Albion penalty area with a theatrical fall after a challenge from Craig Dawson. Referee Bobby Madley later turned down Albion penalty appeals when Jay Rodriguez was brought down by Shkodran Mustafi with the scoreline at 0-0, and also gave Arsenal a spot-kick which was converted by Alexandre Lacazette. Arsenal won 2-0 thanks to Lacazette's brace and Pulis was quick to make it clear he was unhappy with Chile forward Sanchez. "The disappointing thing is Sanchez falls for the first free kick, that's cheating," Pulis said. "Jay is very honest and does not get rewarded. Everyone saw what happened. Sanchez actually dives for the first free kick and he should be booked for diving. "Then you see the tackle in the box. The referee had a great view. Everyone has seen it and can make their minds up." Earlier, Lacazette stole the spotlight from record breaker Gareth Barry as the Arsenal striker's double clinched a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Monday. Albion midfielder Barry broke Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record by playing in his 633rd game, but it was Lacazette who ended the night as the centre of attention at the Emirates Stadium. The France forward opened the scoring with a first-half header and stroked home a penalty after the interval to give him four Arsenal goals since his club record £52 million ($70 million, 59 million euros) move from Lyon. Lacazette is the first Arsenal player to score in his opening three home league appearances since Brian Marwood in 1988. The Gunners are up to seventh in the Premier League after extending their unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions since their humiliating loss at Liverpool. "He gets stronger in every game. Good first touch and movement," Gunners manager Arsene Wenger said of Lacazette. "West Brom disturbed our build up in the first half but in the second half we controlled the game and did not give anything away." With Sanchez starting for just the second time this season in the Premier League, it was the first time the Chile forward had been on the pitch at the same time as Lacazette following the striker's pre-season arrival. It took only seconds for the pair to combine to good effect as Lacazette's pass put Sanchez into a dangerous position just outside the Albion penalty area. Craig Dawson responded by fouling Sanchez, who took the free-kick himself and fired just wide of Ben Foster's goal. Barry has never been much of a creative force, even in his heyday, but the 36-year-old almost ushered his side into a shock lead when his sumptuous pass sent Jay Rodriguez into the Arsenal area. Rodriguez cleverly cut back on Shkodran Mustafi and looked certain to win a penalty when he was up-ended by the Arsenal defender. But Rodriguez clambered back to his feet and, with referee Bobby Madley not punishing the foul, the Albion forward unloaded a shot that Petr Cech pushed against the far post before Arsenal scrambled clear.
- Dominance -
Albion manager Tony Pulis was furious no penalty was given and his frustration only mounted as Arsenal took the lead in the 20th minute. On his first league start since the collapse of his desired move to Manchester City, it felt inevitable Sanchez, making his 100th Premier League appearance, would be at the centre of Arsenal's opener. Jonny Evans conceded a free-kick right outside the area with a foul on Mohamed Elneny and Sanchez stepped up to curl the set-piece goalwards. Foster managed to tip the shot against the crossbar, but Lacazette alertly followed up to head into the empty net from close-range. The absence of Mesut Ozil, languishing on the bench after being ignored by Wenger, was hardly noticed as Sanchez went close to doubling Arsenal's lead with a low free-kick that flashed wide. But Albion immediately raced down the other end and should have equalised. Rodriguez met Grzegorz Krychowiak's cross with a far post header that beat Cech, only for Nacho Monreal to scamper back just in time to acrobatically clear off the line. Albion went close again before the interval when Barry's shot was pushed out by Cech and Rodriguez scuffed wide. Pressing for a killer second goal after the interval, Lacazette saw his shot deflected wide off former Arsenal defender Kieran Gibbs. Arsenal's dominance was rewarded in the 67th minute when Aaron Ramsey surged past Allan Nyom on the touchline and the Albion defender responded by barging over the Welshman. Madley pointed to the spot and Lacazette clinically dispatched the penalty. Lacazette could have bagged his hat-trick in the closing stages but, despite his wayward finish, Arsenal were already home and dry


PV Sindhu Nominated For Padma Bhushan By Sports Ministry
MMNN:25 September 2017

Shuttler PV Sindhu was on Monday nominated for the prestigious Padma Bhushan -- India's third highest civilian award. The Indian ace's career graph has been on an upward curve since last year, when she became the first Indian to win a silver medal at the Olympic Games. In March 2015, Sindhu became the youngest recipient of the Padma Shri. Following her brilliant performances last year, the Indian shuttler has gone from strength to strength this year. Sindhu became only the second Indian to win a silver at the World Championships after Saina Nehwal. "Yes, we have recommended Sindhu for Padma Bhushan," a Sports Ministry official told PTI. Besides her World Championship silver at Glasgow, Sindhu became the first Indian to clinch the Korea Open Superseries title to add to her 2016 China Open Superseries Premier and India Open Superseries titles. "Very happy that my name has been recommended for Padma Bhushan. I would like to thank the govt and the sports ministry," said Sindhu. Sindhu now has three Super Series, three World Championship medals, an Olympic silver and a host of other podiums finishes. Sindhu is the second sportsperson to be recommended for the prestigious award after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), earlier this month, nominated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the Padma Bhushan. A senior BCCI official confirmed that the Indian cricket board had only sent one name for the Padma awards this year and it was a unanimous decision to nominate India's former captain. The 36-year-old has scored 9737 runs in 302 ODIs besides 4876 runs in 90 Test matches. He has also played 78 T20 Internationals, notching up 1212 runs. He has 16 international hundreds (6 in Tests and 10 in ODIs) along with 100 international half-centuries. As a wicketkeeper, Dhoni has held 584 catches across formats (256 in Tests, 285 in ODIs and 43 in T20 Internationals). He has also effected 163 stumpings. Dhoni is already a recipient of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Shri award. If Dhoni is conferred with Padma Bhushan, he will become the 11th Indian cricketer to get the third highest civilian honour.


Former Australian Bowler Defends Virat Kohli In Squabble With Matthew Wade
MMNN:22 September 2017

In the all the mayhem unleashed by Kuldeep Yadav on the Australians in the second ODI at the Eden Gardens on Thursday, a feud between India skipper Virat Kohli and Australian wicket-keeper Matthew Wade went under the radar. Kohli, who has a history of run-ins with the Aussies, was once again involved in a confrontation with an Australian player. The incident took place when the Indian captain decided to run a bye with Wade down injured. The Australian wicket-keeper and the bowler, Marcus Stoinis, took exception and confronted Kohli. Wade, who was already struggling in the Kolkata heat, was struck in the arm by a Stoinis delivery. Kohli, who was at the non-striker's end at the time, took off for a run. Both Wade and Stoinis confronted Kohli at the end of the over. However, the Indian captain has received support from the unlikeliest of sources -- another Australian. Former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark, dubbing the incident as 'piddly crap', came out in support of Kohli. "He (Wade) misfielded one. Whether the Indian batsman knew he was injured or not was probably a secondary question," Clarke was quoted as saying to Sky Sports Radio by the Herald Sun. "It's one run. Is this the biggest issue this team has got? If I'm Matthew Wade and I'm Marcus Stoinis -- and full credit to him for standing up for Matthew Wade -- I'd be worrying about my own cricket, rather than all this other stuff. "This is piddly crap." Kohli is not one to back down from a fight and the Indian skipper was seen giving Wade a grand send-off after he was dismissed by Yadav. Wade was the first wicket in Yadav's hat-trick and Kohli was seen giving him a mouthful after he was castled by the left-arm wrist spinner. India went on to win the second ODI by 50 runs in Kolkata to take a 2-0 series lead. The hosts will look to wrap up the series when the two teams clash in the third match in Indore on Sunday.


A Message From Virat Kohli For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sports Minister
MMNN:21 September 2017

Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Wednesday launched the revamped 'Khelo India' initiative, which earlier focused on infrastructure development but will now look to ensure all-round growth. The government has approved Rs 1,756 crore for a period of three years for revamping the initiative, launched by the ministry last year by merging three schemes - Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan, Urban Sports Infrastructure Scheme and National Sports Talent Search Programme. The programme aims to promote 20 universities across the country as hubs of sporting excellence, which would enable talented sportspersons to pursue the dual pathway of education and competitive sports. Reacting to this new development, Indian cricket captain applauded the effort of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Sports Minister. "'Khelo india' a much awaited initiative by our hon'ble PM & Sports Minister. Surely this will catalyse sports in India," tweeted Kohli. A holistic approach has to be taken and there will be a seamless network which will enable a pathway from schools to Olympics," Rathore, who recently took charge, said after a cabinet meeting. "In the age group of 10 to 18, health and education will be mapped and schools will be graded. Sports facilities will also be mapped with geographical location. Sports and education will be mixed." Rathore said very soon, sports-specific mobile apps, equipped with relevant information, will be launched. "The apps will have tips for athletes and information of Indian and international athletes." The winner of the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games said under the scheme, efforts will be made to upgrade and educate coaches at the community level. Asked about the impending Sports Code and efforts to bring sports in the Concurrent list, Rathore said he was taking a "step by step" approach. Responding to a query if he was satisfied with the standard of coaching in India, he remarked, "best is required, good is not enough


BCCI Nominates MS Dhoni For Padma Bhushan Award
MMNN:20 September 2017

The Indian cricket board has nominated Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the country's third highest civilian award -- the Padma Bhushan -- for his contribution to the game. A senior BCCI official confirmed that the Board has only sent one name for the Padma awards this year and it was a unanimous decision to nominate India's most successful captain. "Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been nominated by the BCCI for the Padma Bhushan award. It was a unanimous decision by the members. He has been one of the greatest names in contemporary cricket and the most appropriate choice of the Indian cricket board," BCCI acting president CK Khanna told PTI. Dhoni's credentials are impeccable and as the only Indian captain with two World titles (2011 50-over World Cup and 2007 World T20), the BCCI did not have to ponder over likely names. " He is one of our greatest ODI cricketer with nearly 10,000 runs. Not many players have played 90 Test matches. There is no one better than him, who could have been nominated," Khanna added. The BCCI has not sent any other nominations for the Padma awards this year. The 36-year-old has scored 9737 runs in 302 ODIs besides 4876 runs in 90 Test matches. He has also played 78 T20 Internationals, notching up 1212 runs. He has 16 international hundreds (6 in Tests and 10 in ODIs) along with 100 international half-centuries. As a wicketkeeper, Dhoni has held 584 catches across formats (256 in Tests, 285 in ODIs and 43 in T20 Internationals). He has also effected 163 stumpings. Dhoni is already a recipient of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Shri award. If Dhoni is conferred with Padma Bhushan, he will become the 11th Indian cricketer to get the third highest civilian honour. Some of the notable international cricketers, who have been the recipients of Padma Bhushan award are Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Chandu Borde, Prof DB Deodhar, Col CK Nayudu, and Lala Amarnath. The lesser known names include Raja Bhalindra Singh of Patiala, who played 13 first-class matches, and Vijaya Anand -- the Maharaja of Vizianagram, who was India's captain during their 1936 tour to England.


On Virat Kohli's 30 Centuries, A Question From Steve Smith
MMNN:19 September 2017

The ongoing limited-overs cricket series is as much a battle between the two captains as it is between their respective teams. Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, considered two of the finest batsmen in the world at the moment, are not just leaders of their teams but also chief run-getters. In the limited-overs format, Kohli holds an edge over the Australian. In 99 ODIs, Smith has 8 centuries to his name, while Kohli has notched up 30 tons in 195 ODIs. Hence, it came as no surprise when Smith was asked about Kohli's record in the post-match press conference in Chennai on Sunday. While Smith said his counterpart was a very good player, he also had a little query for the reporters. "I think India play a lot more ODI cricket than we do. I'm not sure how many games Virat has played. He is a very good player," he said. The 28-year-old added that he wasn't concerned about personal records. "I am not worried about personal accolades. I am here to try and win a series. The Indian team has a very good top seven and all guys are capable of scoring big runs. Our bowlers have to be on the top of their game to keep them quiet this series," Smith said. Ahead of the series opener, Kohli had echoed a similar sentiment when it came to personal milestones. "I don't play for the three-figure mark. For me winning is most important. I can be 98 or 99 not out but if the team wins then I am happy," said Kohli. The stylish right-hander has had a brilliant run with the bat in the shorter format of the game for the past couple of years. Kohli added a new feather to his cap in the ODI series against Sri Lanka by notching up his 30th ODI century, equalling the great Australian batsman Ricky Ponting and now only has Sachin Tendulkar ahead of him who has scored 49 ODI centuries. Kohli's men eased to win over the visitors in the 1st ODI after impressive performances from Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Thanks to Pandya's blistering career-best 66-ball 83 and Dhoni's 79 off 88 balls, India posted a competitive 281 for seven despite losing the top half for less than 100 after opting to bat. However intermittent showers during the break played spoilsport as Australia were set a revised target of 164 off 21 overs via Duckworth-Lewis method. The young wrist spinners -- Kuldeep Yadav (2/33) and Yuzvendra Chahal (3/30) then ran through the middle and lower order as India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.


MS Dhoni Gives Kedar Jadhav The Death Stare After Run Out Scare
MMNN:18 September 2017

Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced yet another magical innings to dig India out of a massive hole and inspire the team to a 26-run (DLS) win over the visiting Australians in the first ODI of the five-match series at Chennai on Sunday. In the process, Dhoni became only the fourth Indian -- after Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly -- to score a century of fifties in international cricket. However, things could have been very different if Australia had taken the chance to run out the former India skipper after he was left stranded in the middle of the pitch by Kedar Jadhav. Dhoni, known for his calmness on the field, wasn't too pleased and what followed next can be dubbed as a rarity. In the 22nd over of India's innings, things were looking bad for the hosts but Kedar Jadhav had held one end up and was joined by Dhoni. Dhoni on 7, at the time, played the ball to cover and set off for the run but got no response from his partner. Dhoni turned to get back but slipped a little and was left stranded, Hilton Cartwright got to the ball and hastily tried to throw down the stumps but missed. It resulted in an overthrow and the two Indian batsmen completed the run but right after that Dhoni turned and gave Jadhav a death stare and shook his head that surely must have ruffled Kedar's feathers. The very next ball, Jadhav, batting on 40, tried to pull a Marcus Stoinis short delivery but only managed to give an easy catch to none other than Cartwright, who was standing at short mid-wicket Dhoni now has 9,737 runs in ODIs and requires 263 more runs to complete the 10,000-run milestone in the 50-over format. Earlier, Dhoni received a rousing welcome from the crowd when he came into bat to pull India back from troubled waters. India lost three quick wickets and were reeling at 11 for 3 and 87 for 5. Dhoni's innings helped India reach a competitive 281 for seven. Chasing the target, Australia did not have the best of starts and kept losing wickets at regular intervals with Pandya (2/28) helping himself with a couple of wickets. The young wrist spinners -- Kuldeep Yadav (2/33) and Yuzvendra Chahal (3/30) then ran through the middle and lower order as India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.


PV?Sindhu enters Korea Open Superseries badminton semi-final, Sameer Verma exits
MMNN:15 September 2017

PV Sindhu defeated Minatsu Mitani 21-19, 16-21, 21-10 to enter the semi-finals of the Korea Open Superseries being held in Seoul. PV Sindhu raced to an early 5-2 lead in the first game, but Minatsu Mitani fought back, managing to take an 11-9 lead at the break. The back and forth nature of the match continued after the break, with neither player managing to take a convincing lead. PV Sindhu eventually found her rhythm and edged her Japanese opponent 21-19 in the first game. Minatsu Mitani started the second game well, taking a 5-1 lead and pushing PV Sindhu on the back foot. Sindhu then won a flurry of points and took an 11-9 lead going into the break. But just like in the first game, the player who led in the break ended up on the losing end of the game. Sindhu was forced onto the backcourt as Nitani dominated the nets and won the second game 21-16. PV?Sindhu came out all guns blazing in the third game, although Mitani's unforced errors certainly helped. She took an early 6-2 lead before entering the break with a formidable 11-3 lead. Mitani did manage to reduce the deficit to six points just after the break, but Sindhu maintained her composure and won the final game 21-10 to enter the semi-finals of the Korea Open Superseries.
Sameer Verma exits
Sameer Verma's campaign at the Korea Open came to an end after he lost to World No 1 Son Wan-Ho of Korea 20-22, 21-10, 21-13 in the quarter-finals. Sameer Verma started the match well, fighting hard to win the first game. However, Son Wan-Ho easily won the next two games to move into the semi-finals. Son Wan-Ho had previously beaten Indian shuttler Parupalli Kashyap to enter the quarter-finals.


India vs Australia: Mohammed Shami Working On New Plans For Steve Smith, David Warner
MMNN:14 September 2017

Mohammed Shami has been recalled to the India side for the first three ODIs against Australia and is ready with all his plans in place for the visiting side. The Indian speedster has chalked up some strategy which he wants to effectively implement against top Australians like rival skipper Steve Smith and senior batsman David Warner. "We have some plans for each of their batsmen -- (especially Smith and Warner). There's always some new plan in place. The key is about executing it on the field," Shami told reporters at the Eden Gardens on the sidelines of the Bengal Ranji team's training session. India will take on Australia in the first ODI of the five-match series on September 17 at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. India will play their second ODI against Steve Smith's men at the Eden Gardens and the pacer is excited to play his career's maiden ODI at the historic venue. The Bengal pacer, who has played 49 ODIs, has never played an ODI at his home venue. "It's a matter of pride to play an ODI at my home ground. I hope to make it count and deliver for my team," Shami, who last played an ODI against West Indies in July, said. Close on the heels of their 9-0 clean sweep in Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli-led Team India would be eyeing another dominating display but Shami felt it would not be easy. "Australia are a strong team. It's difficult to say that (clean sweep) but we will try our best for a good show. The conditions will play a big role," he added. Kohli and boys will play five ODIs against Australia followed by three Twenty20 Internationals. Chennai, Kolkata, Indore, Bengaluru and Nagpur will host the ODIs while the T20Is will be held in Ranchi, Guwahati and Hyderabad.


Pakistan vs World XI: Darren Sammy Applauds Hassan Ali After Being Knocked Down By Him
MMNN:13 September 2017

Pakistan on Tuesday took a giant step towards reviving international cricket at home with a 20-run victory over the World XI in a match in front of excited crowds amid tight security. The Twenty20 match, accorded international status by the International Cricket Council (ICC), is only the second time Pakistan has hosted an international match since militants attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lankan team in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff. Long before the match started, around 9,000 police officers and paramilitary forces were deployed to the area, cordoning off the team's hotels and stadium. But the large security presence did little to temper the enthusiasm of fans in the cricket-mad country. The match was marked by moments of friendship, camaraderie and warmth between the two sets of players. One particular incident during the World XI innings captured the spirit of the occasion. Hassan Ali's toe-crushing yorker resulted in Darren Sammy lying flat on his back. The West Indies all-rounder applauded the bowler, who then helped Sammy get back up on his feet Pakistan, sent into bat by World XI skipper Faf du Plessis, notched 197-5 with Babar Azam hitting a rapid 52-ball 86. His career best Twenty20 score had ten boundaries and two sixes. The World XI started off well with Tamim Iqbal hitting 18 with three boundaries and Hashim Amla smashing three boundaries and a six in his 17-ball 26 but left-arm pacer Rumman Raees dismissed both in the same over to put the brakes on their innings. Despite Skipper Faf du Plessis and Sammy's best efforts towards the end, the visitors were unable to see their team through. The second game is scheduled for today and the third on Friday -- both in Lahore.


US Open: Best Season Of My Career, Says Rafael Nadal After 16th Grand Slam Title
MMNN:12 September 2017

Rafael Nadal described the year 2017 as "one of the best of his career" on Sunday after winning a third US Open and 16th Grand Slam. World number one Nadal defeated South Africa's world number 32 Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in a brutally one-sided final during which he did not face a break point. Nadal also claimed an unprecedented 10th French Open in June after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open. "In terms of results, this has been one of the best seasons of my career, of course," Nadal admitted of a year in which he won at least two Slams for the fourth time in his career. Had he gotten the better of Gilles Muller at Wimbledon, where he lost the final set of his fourth-round clash 15-13, the year might have been even more memorable. "I have been winning titles, playing three finals of Grand Slams, so that's a lot. That's so difficult. The other slam that I was not in the final, I lost the match 15-13 in the fifth to be in the quarterfinals. "So was very competitive year for me. And on clay, I won almost every match. Of course is an emotional season because I have been through tough moments in terms of injuries." Nadal's win on Sunday was the latest chapter in an epic story of domination by the sport's superstars. From Wimbledon in 2003, an incredible 53 of 58 Slams have now been claimed by just five men -- Federer (19), Nadal (16), Novak Djokovic (12) and Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka with three apiece. Only Andy Roddick, Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic have broken the spell. "We are are in an era that is not nice to say, because I'm part of it, but we are in an era that some players make incredible things in this sport," said Nadal. "It's difficult to win a lot of titles. We should be very happy. Probably even Roger and me and Novak, much more than we ever dreamed." To hammer home their enduring appeal and dominance, Federer and Nadal shared the four Slams in 2017 -- Federer winning the Australian Open before capturing a record eighth Wimbledon.
Federer's mark no big deal
Despite his success, catching the 19 majors of Federer is not particularly high on Nadal's list of priorities. "I really never thought much about that. I just do my way. He does his way. Let's see when we finish," he said. "I have 16. So three is big difference. I really don't think much about these kind of things. "Well done for Roger that he is having an amazing season, too, and well done for me because I'm having a great season, too. "Tennis is not all about the Grand Slams, so there are tournaments to come and I'm excited about this last part of the season." It's all a far cry from the end of last year when Nadal was ranked at nine in the world and Federer was 16. It was also a 2016 season that saw the injury-hobbled Nadal lose in the first round at the Australian Open, withdraw after two rounds of the French with a wrist problem, skip Wimbledon and exit the US Open in the last 16. However, in 2017, Federer and Nadal have won five titles apiece and on Monday they will be back at number one and two in the world for the first time since 2011. "I was surprised in January. Now I am not that much surprised," said Nadal. "There are things that probably Roger and me share -- that is passion for what we are doing, passion for tennis, passion for the competition and the spirit of improvement all the time."


India vs Australia: Fans Slam BCCI For Picking Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav Over Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina
MMNN:11 September 2017

The 16-man squad failed to impress die-hard Yuvraj fans, who asked the Indian cricket board and its selectors whether Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav were better than the World Cup winner The national selection committee last week picked up a fourth string 14-member Board President's XI squad for the warm-up game against Australia, giving out a clear signal that Yuvraj Singh is no longer among the country's top 74 cricketers. The selection pattern suggested that the squad, which crushed Sri Lanka, was bound to be retained for the Australia series with some minor changes. The Duleep Trophy forced the selectors to name the next 45 players for the day/night pink ball experiment. Another veteran Suresh Raina found a place in that 45, which meant he was on the selectors' radar. That made it top 60 players in the country, which left the selectors with no option but to pick youngsters who did well in the Indian Premier League and Vijay Hazare Trophy. Yuvraj did not even find a place in that batch of 14. Hence, it come as no surprise when the star left-hander failed to make the cut to Virat Kohli's squad for the first three ODIs against Australia. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav made their way back to the national side with Shardul Thakur missing out on a spot. All-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were given a rest. The 16-man squad failed to impress die-hard Yuvraj fans, who asked the Indian cricket board and its selectors whether Manish Pandey, KL Rahul and Kedar Jadhav were better than the World Cup winner. Fans also questioned the exclusion of Suresh Raina from the team. The first three ODIs will be played in Chennai, Kolkata and Indore. The teams then travel to Bangalore and Nagpur for the final two games, before they take part in a three-match T20I series.
Squad:
Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.


US Open: Rafael Nadal Downs Juan Martin Del Potro To Enter 23rd Grand Slam Final
MMNN:9 September 2017

Rafael Nadal moved one win away from a third US Open title and 16th Grand Slam crown on Saturday when he defeated weary Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2. The 31-year-old Spaniard, the 2010 and 2013 champion in New York, will be playing in his 23rd Slam final and third this year, looking to add the US title to his record 10th French Open. In Sunday's final, the world number one will face 32nd-ranked Kevin Anderson, the first South African in the championship match in 52 years. Anderson reached his maiden final at the majors by beating 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. For 2009 champion Del Potro, Friday's match was one too many as the physical and emotional toll of seeing off Roger Federer in four sets in the previous round left him spent. "I have had an amazing season after some tough moments with injuries in recent years," said Nadal, who started 2017 by finishing runner-up to Federer in Australia. "It's a very emotional year for me. I am in the final again and get the chance to fight for another title which is very important." Nadal said the key to Friday's win was a change of tactics after the first set. "I played too much to his backhand and I felt he was waiting for me there," said Nadal after his 15th successive Grand Slam semi-final win. "I changed it and it worked very well. I made him move more and make it all more unpredictable." Nadal finished with 45 winners and 20 unforced errors to Del Potro's 23 and 40. Despite a 4-0 winning record over Anderson, Nadal said he will not underestimate his opponent on Sunday. "He is a very dangerous player with a big serve and plays very well on this surface. I have known him since we were 12. "He's had many injuries but the way he has come back is a great example to the kids." Del Potro, who saved two match points against Dominic Thiem in a last-16 tie from which he almost retired with illness, gained the only break of the first set in the fifth game off a fortunate net cord. - -
'Been long road'
However, few would begrudge Del Potro a little luck after he was pushed to the brink of retirement by four wrist surgeries that saw his ranking slip as low as 1,045 and forced him to miss 10 Grand Slam tournaments. Nadal hit back with venom, gathering three breaks to take the second set in just 26 minutes as the Argentine suffered a power cut of staggering proportions. The Spaniard, watched by Tiger Woods in his player's box, then raced into a 3-0 lead in the third before Del Potro stopped the rot, having lost nine games in succession. The Argentine saved two set points in the eighth game but Nadal soon wrapped it up at the next time of asking, pushing his opponent into desperate defense before the delivering the killer blow into an open court. Nadal, beaten by Del Potro at the same stage in 2009, tightened the noose with two breaks for 4-1 and easy hold for 5-1. It was all over in the eighth game when Nadal buried unleashed a backhand winner. Anderson, 31, will attempt to become his country's first Slam champion since Johan Kriek at the 1981 Australian Open. Cliff Drysdale was the last South African man in the US final in 1965 but he was defeated by Manuel Santana. "It has been a long road. This means the world to me," said Anderson, whose career was at a crossroads in January when hip problems forced him out of the Australian Open and his ranking slumped to 80. "This is why we work so hard. I was pretty nervous with it being the first time on the sport's most famous stage." Carreno Busta, also playing in his first semi-final at the Slams, had not dropped a set at the tournament, helped by playing four qualifiers, and he was a set to the good on Friday, breaking in the seventh game. The Spaniard had pocketed the opener hitting just two winners and only one unforced error. But 6ft 8in (2.03m) Anderson eventually imposed himself much to the approval of watching Hollywood star Robert Redford and Microsoft founder Bill Gates


T20 Global League: Kings XI Punjab's Preity Zinta to own Stellenbosch team
MMNN:8 September 2017

Preity Zinta, who is a co-owner of IPL team Kings XI Punjab, will now own the Stellenbosch team in the T20 Global League of South Africa that starts later this year Preity Zinta has become the third Indian after Shah Rukh Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders and GMR's Delhi Daredevils to own a team in the T20 Global League of South Africa. Preity, who is a co-owner of Indian Premier League team Kings XI Punjab, will own the Stellenbosch franchise. The ownership of the Stellenbosch franchise was up for grabs after Brimstone Investment Corporation Limited had decided to end their interest in pursuing ownership early August. It was the only team among the eight to take part that did not have an owner. "I am extremely proud to announce and warmly welcome Preity Zinta to South Africa and the T20 Global League family," said Cricket SA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat. "The introduction of a Bollywood star like Preity Zinta speaks volumes for the T20 Global League and finalises an eminent and enviable group of owners. Her experience and stardom will add value to the T20GL," said Lorgat. "I firmly believe that this is the most exciting time for young South African cricketing talent. This league will give them an opportunity to take the leap from becoming the best in the country to becoming the best in the world," said Preity Zinta. No Indian cricketers will be involved in the league. South African marquee player for the Stellenbosch franchise, Faf du Plessis, expressed delight at learning about Preity Zinta being his new team owner. "I'm very excited to see that Preity Zinta has come on board. I have heard from my team mates that she is very good to work with, so I'm looking forward to working with her and seeing how she impacts our team space. She is also very passionate about the sport and I am sure local fans will have an awesome time at Boland Park," Du Plessis said. The Stellenbosch team plays its first home game on Saturday, 4 November at Boland Park, Paarl against the Jo'burg Giants.


No Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer at US Open as Juan Martin del Potro stuns Swiss
MMNN:7 September 2017

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, beat Roger Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 to set up a semifinal clash against Rafael Nadal, who breezed past Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals So much for the first US Open match-up between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Federer failed to live up to his end of the bargain. Hours after Nadal did his part with an easy-as-can-be victory to get to the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, Federer was unable to join him for what would have been the most-anticipated showdown of the entire two weeks, wasting chances to take control and missing makable shots in a 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 loss to 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro on Wednesday night. Federer entered the quarterfinals with an 18-0 Grand Slam record this season, including titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon to raise his record count to 19 Major championships. But he tweaked his back at a tournament last month, curtailing his preparation for the US Open, and he was not quite at his best for stretches. He needed five sets to win each of his first two matches - and Wednesday, he succumbed to the same formula of massive forehands and booming serves that del Potro used when he upset Federer in the final eight years ago. Before the tournament began, Nadal was honest as can be when asked whether he hoped to face Federer at the only Grand Slam tournament where they've never met. The answer, the No. 1-seeded Nadal said earnestly, was no - because he'd rather go up against someone easier to beat. Well, as it turns out, he'll go up against del Potro on Friday, when the other semifinal features two men who have never been this far at any major: No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain vs. No. 28 Kevin Anderson of South Africa. Nadal, who has won two of his 15 Grand Slam trophies in New York, overwhelmed 19-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, then had to wait hours to see what Roger Federer would do under the lights Arthur Ashe Stadium was packed, and both men had loud groups of supporters. Federer's fans would cheer for del Potro's faults, considered bad etiquette in tennis. Del Potro's faction would break into raucous, soccer-style songs of "Ole, ole, ole, ole! Del-po! Del-po!" "Well, I think it's my home court, too," del Potro said in an on-court interview. The 2-hour, 51-minute contest was filled with some sublime shotmaking by each player, and some real moments of shakiness for the 36-year-old Federer, whose forehand in particular was problematic. The turning point was the third-set tiebreaker, which Federer was a single point from winning on four occasions. At 6-4, Juan Martin del Potro hammered a good return that caught Federer off-guard, resulting in a forehand into the net. At 6-5, del Potro delivered a service winner. At 7-6 - set up by a double-fault from del Potro - Federer missed a backhand, and his wife, Mirka, put her hands to her temples, before standing to offer encouragement. At 8-7, Federer's fourth and last set point, del Potro hit a huge forehand winner. That began a run of three points in a row for del Potro to claim that set, the last when Federer pushed a backhand volley long. The suspense in the fourth set was brief: At 2-all, Federer dumped an overhead into the bottom of the net to gift a third break point of the game, which del Potro converted with a stinging cross-court backhand return winner to nose ahead for good. Del Potro showed no ill effects from his 3 1/2-hour, five-set comeback victory in the fourth round - or the illness that's been bothering him and had the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Argentine coughing into a towel late in the second set. His forehands were powerful and precise, including one reflex pass hit so hard and so close to Federer's head that he ducked out of the way. Roger Federer was uncharacteristically off at moments, including a very bad forehand volley that was way off the mark and set up del Potro's match point. Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, strolled past the 53rd-ranked Rublev. "He gave me a lesson," acknowledged Rublev, the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist since Andy Roddick in 2001 Rublev didn't put up much of a fight, with seven double-faults among his 43 unforced errors. "I will try now to practice harder to improve everything for the next time if we play each other," Rublev said, "to try to compete better." Truth is, the way Nadal is playing at the moment, few would be able to offer much in the way of a challenge. He has won his past three matches in straight sets, his uppercut of a forehand at its dangerous best. "He's been playing better and better every day," said Carlos Moya, the 1998 French Open champion who is helping coach Nadal. "The last couple of matches have been very good. He is confident. He had a few doubts at the beginning of the tournament that I believe now are gone and he is able to play his best tennis."


US Open: Venus Williams Edges Petra Kvitova, to Face Sloane Stephens in Semis
MMNN:6 September 2017

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams became the oldest semi-finalist in US Open history at age 37 on Tuesday by defeating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2). US ninth seed Williams, seeking her third US Open crown, advanced to a Thursday matchup for a spot in Saturday's final against 83rd-ranked compatriot Sloane Stephens. Stephens, who missed 11 months with a left foot injury before returning at Wimbledon, matched her best Grand Slam showing by outlasting Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4). Williams, who improved to 2-4 all-time against the Czech 13th seed, will return to the world top five for the first time since January 2011 after dominating the tie-break. "I'm so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire," Williams said. "I try to tell myself enjoy the competition, enjoy the battle and I think I was able to do that." Williams, the oldest Slam semi-finalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994, won the 2000 and 2001 US crowns. She was runner-up this year at Wimbledon and the Australian Open and could reach three Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2002. Kvitova battled back from a five-month absence after a knife-wielding home intruder injured her left hand last December. Williams swatted a backhand winner to break for a 5-3 edge and held to take the first set but Kvitova led 3-0 when rain forced a closure of the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof. Kvitova fought off two break points in the fifth and seventh games to hold on the way to a third set, then broke to lead 2-1 only to double fault away a break to set up the tie-breaker. If Americans Madison Keys and CoCo Vanderweghe win Wednesday, they will produce the first all-American US Open semi-finals since 1981. "That would be huge," Williams said. "I'd love that." "This is amazing," Stephens said. "I hope there are four Americans in the semi-finals." Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who has not dropped a set, cruised into his first Grand Slam semi-final by defeating Argentine 29th seed Diego Schartzman 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Carreno Busta, the first player to face four qualifiers in any Grand Slam, booked a Friday semi-final against the later winner between South African 28th seed Kevin Anderson and 17th-seeded American Sam Querrey. "Incredible," Carreno Busta said. "It's something that I always dreamed about but something I never thought was going to arrive here. It's a great feeling." While legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are each one win from their first US Open meeting in an epic semi-final, this side of the men's draw is guaranteed to produce a first-time Slam finalist. "It would be fantastic to play him in the final," Carreno Busta said of Nadal. "But we have to play step by step." Stephens has won 13 of her past 15 matches and matched her 2013 Australian Open semi-final run for best Slam effort. "This is just incredible," Stephens said. "When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could never have dreamed of coming back and having these results. It's indescribable." 'I'm not a robot. Sorry.' Sevastova, who matched her best major run from last year at New York by ousting Maria Sharapova to reach the last eight, led 3-1 in the third set before Stephens rallied. "I just told myself to keep fighting and stay consistent," Stephens said. "I knew if I just stick with it and stayed in every point I'd have my opportunity and I did. "I was able to play loose and 'Bam', here we are." In the tie-breaker, Stephens took four of the last five points, three on Sevastova errors before hitting a down-the-line backhand winner ensured her win gto reach the top 35 in next week's rankings. Sevastova admitted nerves got to her in the tie-breaker, saying, "It's normal. You play for semi-finals of US Open. I'm not a robot. Sorry." Czech reigning number one Karolina Pliskova, last year's US Open runner-up, must reach the final or lose the top spot to already-ousted Garbine Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion.


Caribbean Premier League: Kieron Pollard Bowls No-Ball To Deny Evin Lewis 2nd Fastest Ton In Cricket History
MMNN:5 September 2017

Pollard was severely criticised on social media for bowling a big no-ball with St Kitts and Nevis Patriots needing just one run to beat the Barbados Tridents. The 25-year-old Lewis was batting on 97 off 32 balls with captain Chris Gayle for company and the score at 129/0. West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard found himself at the centre of a huge controversy after he bowled a no-ball to deny opposition batsman Evin Lewis his century in the Caribbean Premier League match. Pollard was severely criticised on social media for bowling a big no-ball with St Kitts and Nevis Patriots needing just one run to beat the Barbados Tridents. The 25-year-old Lewis was batting on 97 off 32 balls with captain Chris Gayle for company and the score at 129/0. "It hurts (missing out on the ton), but hitting 97 not out off 33 balls? I'll take that any day," Lewis said in the post-match press conference If Lewis had got to this century in 33 balls, it would have been the second fastest in cricket history, just short of Gayle's 30-ball Indian Premier League ton in 2013. Pollard's act was reminiscent of Suraj Randiv's infamous ball to Virender Sehwag in 2010, where he bowled a no-ball to leave the Indian opener stranded on 99. Sehwag criticised Randiv's actions in the post-match press conference. Sri Lanka Cricket and off-spinner later apologised to Sehwag.


MS Dhoni Enthralls Fans By Taking Jasprit Bumrah's Man Of The Series 'Award' For A Spin
MMNN:4 September 2017

MS Dhoni proved on Sunday beyond any doubt that he is the master behind the stumps in international cricket and now it seems he is also the safest hands behind the wheel in the Indian cricket team. The 36-year-old took the utility vehicle won by Jasprit Bumrah, which he received with the 'Man of the Series' award for the ODI series with Sri Lanka, for a victory lap around the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Other Indian players such as Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma crammed into the red car for a spin. India thrashed hosts Sri Lanka by six wickets in the fifth and final ODI to clean sweep the series 5-0. The two teams will face off for a final time on this tour to play a Twenty20 on September 6. Bumrah starred with the ball for India, ending the ODI series as the highest wicket-taker with 15 scalps, six more than the second best Akila Dananjaya. Following the prize distribution ceremony, Dhoni took the keys of the utility vehicle and got behind the wheel. Manish Pandey left the driver's door open and stationed himself there while Hardik Pandya occupied the passenger seat and Ajinkya Rahane got in the back. Kedar Jadhav, with the series trophy in hand, sat himself down on the roof while Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, KL Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bumrah, Rohit and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all crammed themselves in the open cargo area. The former India captain's love for bikes is well documented. Dhoni had done a somewhat similar thing in 2011 when he was given the 'Man of the Series' award and along with it a motorbike for his sterling performance against the visiting England side in the ODIs. At the time, Dhoni took the bike for a spin around the Eden Gardens with teammates Praveen Kumar and Suresh Raina in tow. Meanwhile, Dhoni added another feather to his illustrious cap as he became the first man in One-day International cricket to complete 100 stumpings. The 36-year-old dislodged Dananjaya's bails to complete his century of stumpings. Ahead of the second ODI against Sri Lanka, the former India skipper had 98 stumping to his name, one behind Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. He equalled the Sri Lankan at 99 when he claimed the scalp of Danushka Gunathilaka off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.


Maria Sharapova lashes out at Caroline Wozniacki's jibe over US?Open schedule
MMNN:2 September 2017

Maria Sharapova hit back at Caroline Wozniacki over a US Open scheduling row on Friday, saying of her bitter Danish rival: "I'm in the 4th round. I don't know where she is." Wozniacki was furious that her second round match was played on an outside court while five-time major winner Sharapova was playing all of hers in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The Danish woman said it was "unacceptable and questionable" for Sharapova, who is playing her first Grand Slam since the end of a drugs ban, to be given the showpiece court. "With regards to scheduling, as you know, I don't make the schedule," said Sharapova after reaching the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Sofia Kenin of the United States. "I'm a pretty big competitor. If you put me out in the parking lot of Queens in New York City, I'm happy to play there. That's not what matters to me. All that matters to me is I'm in the fourth round. Yeah, I'm not sure where she is. Wozniacki, who has never won a Grand Slam, lost her second-round match to Ekaterina Makarova on Wednesday after being scheduled on Court 5 before getting bumped up to Court 10. "When you look on Center Court, I understand completely the business side of things, but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence -- performance enhancing drugs -- and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on Center Court, I think that's a questionable thing to do," fumed the Danish former world number one. Sharapova, the champion in New York in 2006, returned from a 15-month doping ban in April but was refused a wildcard for the French Open while injury ruled her out of Wimbledon. Her world ranking of 146 meant she needed a wild card to get into the main draw at the US Open. But she has responded to the decision by the US Tennis Association by knocking out world number two Simona Halep in the first round and recovering from a set down to beat Timea Babos in the second. On Sunday, she will face Latvian 16th seed Anatasija Sevastova for a spot in the quarter-finals. But she will need to cut out the errors that plagued her against 18-year-old Kenin, a fellow America-based player who was born in Russia. She was broken three times and her 38 winners just offset 33 unforced errors. "She had really nice words for me in the locker room, which was really nice," said Sharapova, older than her opponent by 12 years and regarded as an idol by Kenin. "I wasn't surprised with the way she came out and competed. She was down I believe a few match points in the previous match. "She's a grinder. She'll get many balls back. Despite not having the experience, she's a tough player


India vs Sri Lanka: Fans Furious As Debutant Shardul Thakur Dons Jersey No. 10. Here's Why
MMNN:1 September 2017

Shardul Thakur on Thursday finally made his India debut after having received his maiden call-up more than a year ago. He has been part of the Indian set-up since 2016 under Anil Kumble when he toured the West Indies. He was included in the squad for the various home Test series as well but was released to play in domestic cricket. He then featured in the IPL for Rising Pune Supergiants. Skipper Virat Kohli's promised player rotation policy helped Thakur make it to the playing XI as Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rested for the 4th ODI against Sri Lanka. The Mumbai pacer put in a decent effort, picking up one wicket and conceding just 26 runs in 7 overs. While fans were satisfied with his bowling performance, they criticised him for his choice of jersey number. Shardul sported 10 on his back, the number used for legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar for most of his career. MS Dhoni played a key role in helping debutant Shardul Thakur claim his first ODI scalp. Opener Niroshan Dickwella caught by Dhoni off the Mumbai pacer's bowling. The batsman was given not out by the on-field umpire but India decided to review the decision after Kohli looked at Dhoni who seemed convinced the batsman was out. TV replays showed the ball had brushed the bat. Shardul is expected to feature in India's last ODI match against Sri Lanka after Virat Kohli said that he would continue to experiment with the team's line-up. Kohli, also added that the three new players, who were given an opportunity for this match, will get another one. The batting order is flexible and the experiment will be made depending on the situation of the game, remarked the 28-year-old.


India vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Live Cricket Score: Kohli, Rohit On Fire As India Speed Towards Big Total
MMNN:31 Aug 2017

The series already sealed with an unassailable 3-0 lead, Virat Kohli's next aim would be to give a chance to players who have only warmed the benches so far such as Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur. Kohli himself had a couple of low-scoring games and he would look to get back to scoring some more runs along with KL Rahul, who has not exactly looked comfortable in an unfamiliar No. 4 position. The India captain has already hinted that he wants to rotate players and chinaman Kuldeep may get a look-in. In that case, either Yuzvendra Chahal or Axar Patel will make way. When the One-day International series with Sri Lanka was in its initial stages, the focus on Mahendra Singh Dhoni was more about his future, with conjectures on whether he was close to the end of his career. But as the series progressed, two undefeated match-winning innings, combined with some fluent work behind the stumps have effectively silenced all those voices. Now, with the 4th ODI of the series to be played on Thursday, the focus is on two landmarks that the veteran is closing in on - 100 stumpings in ODIs and 73 not out innings in the same format, which will both be world records


Bangladesh Stun Australia For Historic Test Win
MMNN:30 Aug 2017

Bangladesh registered their first ever win over Australia in Test cricket, beating Steve Smith's men by 20 runs in a thrilling opening game in Dhaka on Wednesday. All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan took five wickets for 85 runs to help the hosts bowl out Australia for 244 shortly into the second session on the fourth day. David Warner top scored with 112 for the tourists, who were chasing a target of 265 after bowling out Bangladesh for 221 in the second innings. Shakib lived up to his billing as the world's number one Test all-rounder, finishing with a match haul of 10 wickets with his left-arm spin and making 84 in Bangladesh's first-innings total of 260. Australia -- who are touring Bangladesh for the first time in more than a decade -- are currently ranked fourth to Bangladesh's lowly ninth in ICC Test rankings. They appeared to be coasting towards their fifth consecutive Test win over the minnows when Warner and Smith resumed the day on 109 for two. Warner, who was unbeaten on 75 overnight, reached his 19th Test century off 121 balls with two runs off spinner Taijul Islam. But Shakib brought Bangladesh back into the game, dismissing both Warner and Smith (37) to put pressure on the tourists. Pat Cummins hit a valiant 33 not out after Shakib bowled Glenn Maxwell (14) off the first ball of the second session, leaving Australia tottering on 199-8. Cummins hit three fours and two sixes to bring his side achingly close to a win, but Shakib's spin partner Taijul brought the curtain down on the innings with his dismissal of Josh Hazlewood for nought. Hazlewood, who was already nursing an injury, has been ruled out of the second and final Test of the series. - 'A great feeling' - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was watching from the stands, waved the nation's flag as the jubilant players embraced and celebrated their historic win. "It's a great feeling beating Australia, and I think it was a great effort by the boys, especially Shakib," said captain Mushfiqur Rahim of his all-rounder, who was named man of the match. "Our performance in home conditions has been pretty consistent and against England also we were very close in the first Test and we beat them in the second Test. "That's the belief we had and also our spinners did a great job," he added, saying Bangladesh would now be looking to seal the series. A dejected Smith said his men could have performed better with the bat in the first innings when they scored 217, since the bounce and spin proved especially devilish the second time around. "It was a great Test match. Credit to Bangladesh, the way they played," he said. "The first innings, I thought the partnership between Shakib and Tamim really set the game up for them. I thought we fought back really nicely after that. "We probably let ourselves down a bit in the first innings with the bat. We probably needed to make a few more there." Australia have not played a Test in Bangladesh since Ricky Ponting's team visited in 2006, six years after Bangladesh were granted Test status. They were due to play two Tests in the country in October 2015 but the tour was cancelled amid security fears after a wave of attacks by Islamist extremists in the Muslim-majority nation.


Will Play Against Pakistan Even On One Leg,' Injured MS Dhoni Told Selector MSK Prasad
MMNN:28 Aug 2017

Former India captain MS Dhoni played another crucial knock on Sunday to help the team clinch the match and series against Sri Lanka with a win in the 3rd ODI at Pallekele. This knock comes on the back of another stellar innings from the wicketkeeper-batsman in the 2nd ODI where he teamed up with Bhuvneshwar Kumar to script a thrilling win for the visitors. The back-to-back knocks helped highlight the value Dhoni adds to the Indian team even at this stage of his career. There is a lot of focus on Dhoni at the moment as Team India prepares to get its combinations right for the 2019 World Cup. Chief selector MSK Prasad's comment about looking at alternatives if Dhoni does not perform created quite a stir in the cricketing circles. Prasad was even trolled by Dhoni fans for his statement. However, Prasad's latest remarks are bound to bring a smile on the faces of fans of the World Cup winning skipper. Speaking at an event, Prasad shared an interesting anecdote about Dhoni and his commitment to the team. Prasad (who was a selector at the time) recalled an incident when Dhoni had injured himself ahead of India's Asia Cup match against Pakistan. "While training at the gym late in the night, Dhoni picked up weights and suddenly there was a catch in his back and (he) fell with the weight. Thankfully, the weight did not fall on him. He could not walk, he was literally crawling. He pressed the alarm bell, and the medical staff immediately came and attended him. He was taken on stretcher. "As I reached Dhaka, the journalists questioned about Dhoni and I had no answers. The game against Pakistan was crucial, that too, it was on a seaming track. So, I went to Dhoni's room to know what the issue was. He said, 'don't worry MSK bhai.' I even asked him what should I tell the scribes, and the answer again was 'don't worry MSK bhai.' I asked him whether we should call for a replacement, and he again told me not to worry,", Prasad said. Considering the importance of the match, Prasad was worried about Dhoni's potential absence. "There was so much pressure before a big match. The next morning I went to his room and he told me not to worry. But I felt things were not right. (As a selector) I couldn't take Dhoni's words for granted, so I called up the then chief selector Sandeep Patil and told him the situation. Immediately, Parthiv Patel was sent in as a replacement. By evening, Parthiv had joined the team," Prasad said. "I went to his room in the evening and he was just trying to get up from his bed. I asked him if things are alright. As per the Asia Cup rules, we had to submit the team list 24 hours before a game, so I had to check on him. He clearly said that he would play," he added. Prasad once again went to Dhoni for a chat. "Again at 11 pm, when I went to his room, he was not there. Fortunately, I went to the top floor and I saw Dhoni was trying hard to walk towards the swimming pool. He was literally crawling. Dhoni said he was trying to walk. I was thinking how could he even think of playing when he could barely walk. Dhoni looked at me and said, 'don't worry, you have anyway got Parthiv without telling me. So, you are safe," Prasad said. On match day however, a padded up Dhoni took everyone by surprise. "Before the team was announced in the afternoon, Dhoni was all dressed up for the game. He called me to his room and asked me why was I worrying so much? Then he said, 'even if my one leg is not there, I will still play against Pakistan'. This is what Dhoni is made of," Prasad said. Dhoni went on to lead India to a win over Pakistan in that match.


Yuvraj Singh Goes Shirtless. Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh Team Up To Troll Him
MMNN:26 Aug 2017

Yuvraj Singh knows his way around social media networks. Over the years the star left-hander has not just entertained fans on the pitch but also on popular platforms. Unlike most of his peers, Yuvraj indulges in banter and often draws chuckles from not just his fans but also teammates. In a recent Instagram post, Yuvi uploaded a shirtless photo of himself with the caption 'Mood'. The 35-year-old's photo triggered several hilarious remarks in the comments section. Among those 'trolling' Yuvraj were two close friends and teammates Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma. 'Sallu bhai', wrote Bhajji, while Rohit commented, "please define what you mean when you say 'Mood' because it's not very clear". The comments from the two cricketers made sure more fans got involved in this exchange. Yuvraj, who was axed from the ODI series squad, was compared to American tennis legend Andre Agassi by chief selector MSK Prasad. Prasad, however, clarified that the national team's door is still open for the veteran cricketer, who was ignored by selectors for the ODI series in Sri Lanka starting August 20. This move can be an indication of the mindset going forward with the World Cup coming up in 2019 in England. "Yuvraj has been rested," said Prasad. "Doors are never closed on anybody. Everybody has got a right to play cricket. It's their passion. They are chasing their passion. In terms of selection, we try to select the best possible team. Discussions happen about everybody. It is not just MS Dhoni (or anybody else). When we pick, when we talk about combinations, we talk about everybody


India vs Sri Lanka: No Regrets About Changing Batting Order, Says Virat Kohli
MMNN:25 Aug 2017

A change in batting order almost derailed India's chase in the second ODI against Sri Lanka at Pallekele on Thursday before a brilliant partnership between former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar rescued the visitors. Indian skipper Virat Kohli defended his decision to demote himself down the order and said he had no regrets. Kohli said that with the chase going well he wanted to give the other batsmen in the team a chance. From 113 for one in the 17th over, India were reduced to 131 for seven in the 22nd over with mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya taking six wickets in a sensational spell. But an unbeaten 100-run partnership between Dhoni (45 not out) and Bhuvneshwar (53 not out) for the eighth wicket ensured that India beat Sri Lanka by three wickets and went 2-0 up in the five-match series. With India cruising in the beginning of their run chase (231 from 47 overs under Duckworth-Lewis method), Kohli made changes in the batting order, himself coming down to the fifth slot from his usual one-down spot. Asked about this after the match, Kohli said he had no regrets about his decision to change the batting order. "When you're 110 for 1 in a chase of 230, you want to give everyone a chance to bat. I don't have any regrets. If I had come at No.3, I would have still missed that ball because he (Akila Dananjaya) was bowling that well," Kolhi, who was dismissed for just four runs, said. "It was quite an exciting game of cricket, fans and players must have been entertained. It is good for us to come through eventually. Two 100-run partnerships in a chase of 230 with seven wickets, that's quite bizarre. This kind of thing does not happen in this game often," he added. Kohli gave credit to unheralded mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya, who took six for 54 from his 10 overs to wreck havoc on the Indian innings. "We thought he was the off-spinner with a good leg-break, but he got four wickets off googlies. We'll be more careful next time. Credit to him for pitching the ball in the right areas." Dananjaya, who got married on Thursday, got the man-of-the-match award. "The off-spin was working, so continuously used the variations. I came back to the hotel at around 11pm last night," he said


Unmukt Chand and Virat Kohli: A tale of two talented Delhi cricketers
MMNN:24 Aug 2017

Almost to this day five years ago on August 26, 2012, India discovered a new cricket star in Unmukt Chand. Captain of the India under-19 team, Unmukt was man of the match for scoring an unbeaten century to beat Australia and win the World Cup. Ian Chappell announced Unmukt Chand was ready for Test cricket and good enough to join Indian cricket's swish set. Unmukt went on to captain Delhi, North Zone and India-A, speeding up the highway to fame. Stardom beckoned and the 19-year-old was on the celebrity circuit doing television debates, speaking at conferences and endorsing products. He even wrote a book. Then the script changed. Unmukt Chand failed to score big, his bat went cold and mismatch between performance and potential triggered a backlash. Unmukt's fall was as dramatic as his rise. Last season, he temporarily lost his place in Delhi's Ranji side. But why is Unmukt, someone expected to fly, struggling even to jog? Some say it's technical confusion where a young player is unable to adjust to different formats. They point to Unmukt's repeated failures to convert good starts, ordinary shot selection and tendency to go hard at the bowling when patience is a wiser option. Others feel Unmukt Chand is 'distracted' and lacks focus, an unfair charge considering his outstanding work ethic. Maybe, Delhi cricket's pervasive negativity that erodes the confidence of young players is responsible. Unmukt's career is a reminder that cricket is cruel and success comes only when talent is aligned to taqdeer. Millions of kids play cricket in gullies/ grounds/maidaans and stadiums, yet, in 85 years, from 1932 to 2017 (from Col CK Nayudu to Hardik Pandya), only 289 players have represented India. It is also difficult to ignore the similarity and irony surrounding the careers of Virat Kohli and Unmukt. Both are top-order batsmen who came through Delhi's chaotic club cricket. Both stood out because of their raw talent. Both made the Ranji side when young. Both led India to wins in the under-19 World Cup. The similarities end there and soon Virat Kohli and Unmukt's career took different trajectories. Virat Kohli went straight up after the World Cup moment in 2008 like a Diwali rocket --- ODI debut 2008, Test debut 2011, captain of India 2016. Today, he is on a different planet: No 1 batsman in the world with 13,000 international runs and 45 hundreds. Unmukt Chand is not in the frame; Ranji place under threat and he is without an IPL contract. One observer who tracked both players explains the continued rise of the Indian captain. Virat Kohli, he says, is a self-made champion who is sharp, intuitive and fiercely ambitious. Strongly self confident, he discarded all doubts, rejected tradition and broke all mounds. Raised fitness level to those of Novak Djokovic, defied convention about personal life and had multiple tattoos on his muscled arms. Unmukt is less flamboyant but a precious cricket talent. Only 24, he still has time to optimise his gifts, make the second innings count and keep his tryst with cricketing destiny


Shahid Afridi's 42-ball ton helps Hampshire blast Derbyshire in NatWest T20
MMNN:23 Aug 2017

Shahid Afridi blasted 101 in only 43 balls to inspire Hampshire's 101-run victory over Derbyshire in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals. All-rounder Shahid Afridi hit seven sixes and 10 fours to power Hampshire to 249 for eight, their highest Twenty20 score. Skipper James Vince made 55 from 36 balls as Hampshire passed their previous best of 225 for two against Middlesex in 2006 and, faced with an improbable target of 250, the Falcons crumbled to 148 all out with Liam Dawson and Kyle Abbott each taking three wickets Hampshire promoted Shahid Afridi to opener against the county he played for in 2003 and he swept and drove four boundaries from Wayne Madsen's first over before Calvin Dickinson took two fours from Hardus Viljoen. Afridi's previous high score in the competition this season was 18 but he pulled Ben Cotton for six before driving him over the top of the three-storey media centre. Shahid Afridi reached his fifty off only 20 balls with a top-edged six but after driving Imran Tahir for another huge six, he was dropped on 65 at long-on by Madsen. It proved expensive as Afridi dispatched Matt Critchley and Tahir for two more sixes on his way to a blistering hundred before he top-edged another big pull and was caught at long-leg.


MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh Face Flak On Twitter In Controversy Surrounding Real Estate Firm
MMNN:22 Aug 2017

While cricketers have been used as the faces to promote major companies of all hue, some of those moves tend to backfire as the firms in question fail to deliver. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was in the line of fire of those who had invested in the various housing projects of a real estate firm, of which he was the brand ambassador till last year, when he discontinued his association after the company's various projects were embroiled in controversies. Some of the people who had invested considerable amounts of money in the housing projects, took to Twitter to take pot shots at Dhoni and Harbhajan One person sent a tweet suggesting that Dhoni and Harbhajan had got villas from the company while their (the investors') money was getting sunk. In response, Harbhajan said: "Bhai tujhe kisne bola hamme villas mil Gaye hai? thenga Mila hamme.Bawakoof banaya gaya. Hamare naam ko use karke public k paise mare Gaye hai (who told you we got villas? We got nothing. We were fooled and our names were used to make money from the public) The same firm had reportedly promised to gift villas to the members of the 2011 World Cup-winning Indian cricket team. Harbhajan was among the people who later claimed that no villas were ever handed over


Neymar slams Barcelona bosses after scoring brace in PSG home debut
MMNN:21 Aug 2017

Paris Saint-Germain's world record signing Neymar launched a scathing attack on his former club's directors, saying "Barca deserve much better". The people in charge at the Catalan giants "are not the people who should be there, for the direction of Barca," Neymar told reporters after scoring twice on his home debut as PSG thumped Toulouse 6-2 in Ligue 1 on Sunday. "I want to speak the truth, I'm very sad with them," said the Brazilian star who cost the Paris club a world record 222 million euros ($261 million) to prise from Barcelona. "I spent four years there and I was very happy. At the start, I was happy. I spent four beautiful years there and I parted happy. But with them (the club's directors), no. "For me, they are not the people who should be there, for the direction of Barca," said Neymar. Barca deserve much better and the whole world knows it." Despite securing the massive fee for Neymar, Barcelona are struggling to replace him before the transfer window closes. The club have had bids in excess of 100 million euros for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele turned down. And the club have been criticised for splashing out 40 million euros ($47 million) for Brazil midfielder Paulinho, who has spent two years at Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande. But Neymar said he could not comment on what the club were doing before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. I cannot speak now I am in another team. I don't know what's going on there, but I see my old teammates sad, and it's that which makes me sad because I have a lot of friends there," he said. "I hope that things will improve for Barca and that they will become a team that can rival others." However, former Tottenham flop Paulinho's arrival has not been warmly received by Barca fanatical supporters at the Camp Nou. Over 80 percent of fans urged the club not to pay more than 20 million euros for Paulinho in a survey conducted by Barcelona sports daily Mundo Deportivo.


1st ODI Preview: India Begin Search for World Cup Core, Take On Sri Lanka
MMNN:19 Aug 2017

The Tests clinched without much of a strain, India will begin the journey to identify the core of their 2019 World Cup squad when they square off against a low-on-confidence Sri Lanka in a five-match ODI series, starting here from Sunday. The visitors won the three-Test series by a comfortable 3-0 margin and will look to take that momentum into the limited-overs' leg of the tour as well. However, India are not treating this as just another bilateral ODI series. Chief selector MSK Prasad clearly outlined this, stressing on the aspect of fitness as Team India begins its preparations for the 2019 ODI World Cup in England. The Indian think-tank has made a lot of moves in this regard, and prima facie, the most important of them at present is the simple declaration that KL Rahul will bat at no.4 throughout this five-match contest. Rahul has only played six ODIs thus far in his short injury-prone career, and in all of them, he has opened the innings. He started with a bang scoring a maiden hundred on his ODI debut in Zimbabwe in the summer of 2016, and then added a half-century later in the series as well. His next three ODIs came earlier in January against England, wherein he opened the innings again, but only managed 24 runs in three innings. If fit, he would have surely been a part of the Champions Trophy squad, but with Yuvraj Singh playing that tournament in England, he would have probably opened the innings (or warmed the bench). Rahul has been placed at no.4 because he cannot be left out of the playing eleven at present as pointed out by Prasad earlier this week, and not because he has prior experience playing ODI cricket in the middle order. Rahul does have prior experience of batting lower down the order in the IPL, though, for Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he found considerable success (397 runs in 12 innings at average 44.11 and strike-rate 146.49) doing so in the 2016 season. Yet, international cricket is a different ballgame than a domestic T20 league. Particularly, keeping in mind that the team management hopes this will prove to be a long-term move, ending the instability that has been associated with the no.4 spot since the 2015 ODI World Cup when Ajinkya Rahane relinquished it after a regularly average showing. This move also highlights that Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will continue to open the innings, with Rahane the third-choice opener given the presence of both Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav in the squad. With MS Dhoni occupying the no.5 spot, and Hardik Pandya taking in the all-rounder role at no.7, both Pandey and Jadhav will be vying for that solitary no.6 spot. Jadhav has endured difficult outings in the last two series, particularly in England when his fielding was a massive negative point. While he didn't get many changes to shine with the bat, he did bowl quite a few overs in the Champions Trophy as well as in West Indies. The Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium hasn't been a happy hunting ground for the Men in Blue, though. They have played 17 ODIs here, stretching back to 2004, and won nine of those matches, including bilateral and triangular series (in 2005 and 2010 involving West Indies and New Zealand respectively), and two Asia Cups in 2004 and 2010. Head-to-head against Sri Lanka, they have played 11 ODIs at this venue but only managed to win four of them. Perhaps the most important marker in India's history at Dambulla was their game here in August 2008, when Virat Kohli made his international debut. He returns here now, not only as a premier batsman in world cricket but also as the Indian skipper. Having led his side to a comprehensive Test series win, back in 2015 and again this year, it is perhaps an indicator of the shift in balance between the two neighbours. Rohit Sharma and Kohli himself are the only other part-time options available if Jadhav is indeed left out. India's full-time bowling combination looks settled though, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah expected to lead the attack. Kuldeep Yadav has proven himself to be the captain's frontline spin choice, and the second spinner's toss-up will be between Axar Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal. For Sri Lanka, meanwhile, this series is more than just a matter of saving face after their heavy losses in the Test series. The hosts need two more ODI wins to confirm their spot in the 2019 ODI World Cup by way of automatic qualification. If they do manage this feat against India in the upcoming series, they will move to 90 points and then West Indies will not be able to overtake them even if they win all the six ODIs against Ireland and England (taking their points from 78 to 88 at best) before the September 30 deadline. It is easier said than done, of course. India blanked Sri Lanka 5-0 the last time these two sides played a bilateral ODI series, back in November 2015 (in India). The hosts also lost 3-2 to Zimbabwe at home before the Indian tour, a defeat that prompted Angelo Mathews to quit captaincy. As such, new skipper Upul Tharanga will have his task cut out ahead of a major challenge. But he will be buoyed by the fact that this inexperienced Lankan side did manage to upset the Indian applecart in their last ODI meeting at the Oval in the Champions Trophy.


Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo lead sports stars in condemning Barcelona attack
MMNN:18 Aug 2017

Football icons and longtime rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo joined Spanish sports stars around the world in expressing their grief after Thursday's terror attack in Barcelona left 13 people dead. Barcelona's most famous street Las Ramblas was packed with tourists when a van drove into the crowds, leaving scenes of carnage. I want to send my condolences and all my support to the families and friends of the victims of the terrible attack in our beloved Barcelona, in addition to totally rejecting any act of violence," Barcelona star Messi, 30, wrote on Instagram We are not going to give up, there are many more of us who want to live in a world in peace, without hate and where respect and tolerance are the basis of coexistence," added the Argentine who arrived in the Catalan capital as a teenager 14 years ago. Real Madrid's Portuguese star Ronaldo took to social media to express his shock at the attack which also left more than 50 injured. Dismayed at the news coming from Barcelona. All the support and solidarity (to) the family and friends of the victims," he wrote on Twitter Like Ronaldo and Messi, other athletes took to social network in an outpouring of solidarity with the Catalan capital. "All my support for the families affected and the city," Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal wrote on Twitter, while his great friend, basketball player Pau Gasol, declared himself "devastated by what happened on the Ramblas in Barcelona. All my support for the victims, wounded and relatives in these difficult times. All football clubs in the Spanish first and second divisions will observe a minute's silence in memory of the victims when the new La Liga season starts on Friday. "All clubs will pay homage to the victims and their families after the tragedy in Barcelona," Spanish league officials said in a statement Spanish three-time world motorcycling champion Marc Marquez, also a Catalonia native, accompanied his message with an image of a circle formed with the motto "I love Barcelona" surrounding that same expression in Catalan with a big heart. From Portugal, Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas wrote: "What sadness, all my solidarity with the victims and their families. A lot of strength Barcelona And from Paris, a city that has also suffered similar terror outrages, Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish coach Unai Emery was "very saddened by the news coming from Barcelona, unfortunately one more black day. All my support for the victims and their families No to terrorism. No to the dictatorship of fear. Stop terrorism," wrote Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos on Twitter, with the image of a broken heart. FC Barcelona took to Twitter: "Deeply saddened by the attack on our city. All our thoughts are with the victims, their families and with the people of Barcelona Barcelona also said their players would wear black armbands in their home game against Real Betis on Sunday. Real Madrid issued an official statement expressing "its deepest sorrow regarding the attack which has taken place in the city of Barcelona and the club stands together with the victims, their families and their friends It also hopes for the quickest possible recovery to all those injured in the incident." Villarreal, meanwhile, decided to suspend the official presentation of Colombian striker Carlos Bacca "as a sign of mourning" for the attack. From the world of cycling, the general director of the Vuelta, which begins Saturday in the French city of Nimes, said: "We are dismayed by the dramatic attack in Barcelona and our condemnation of these events is total.


Virat Kohli has a lot of Australian spirit in him, says Michael Clarke
MMNN:17 Aug 2017

Former Australia cricket team captain Michael Clarke has admitted that although his country's media may not write positive things about India skipper Virat Kohli, it wouldn't be right to assume that the swashbuckling cricketer doesn't have enough fans Down Under. "I disagree that Virat doesn't have too many fans in Australia. I think Virat has a lot of Australian spirit in him," Clarke, who in India, was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz. To be honest, he plays the game really tough and is really competitive on the field, but he is a nice guy off the field," added Clarke. "So when people get to know Virat, they realize that what they see on the field is just his competitive spirit. I can't think of any Australian cricketer who wasn't like that every time we walked out on the field. I certainly think there is respect for Virat in Australia." Kohli has been involved in quite a few controversies with the Australian media over the past few years. From being pitted against a puppy, a kitten and a panda to be voted as the 'Vettel of the Week' on Fox Sports to being nominated as the 'biggest sports jerk of the week' by news.com.au, things have touched new lows every single time the two nations had faced each other. "You probably are not going to read the positive stuff (about Virat) in the Australian media though," said Clarke. "They all want to write a negative story. But I have a great relation with him and I think he is respectful Australia will be visiting India in September and October this year for limited-overs series that will feature five ODIs and three T20Is. Tough to beat India at home Clarke said that India will be difficult to beat at home but also said that Kohli and Co. should prove themselves abroad to earn their place as one of the greatest sides of all time. "The Indian team right now is full of confidence and the upcoming tour for Australia is going to be tough, said Clarke on NDTV. "This tour will be a great challenge for Australia as India, at the moment, are playing very well. Obviously the Australian supporters expect their team to be best in the world. But, India are ticking all the right boxes under the captaincy of Virat Kohli." Clarke added that if Kohli's team does well in the upcoming away tours against the top teams -- South Africa in January, Australia in 2018 and England in 2019 -- no one will question its No. 1 status. "If India can beat South Africa, Australia and England at away conditions, there will be no doubt that India is the number one team in the world," Clarke said. The former skipper, who has turned to commentary now, was relieved that the rift between Cricket Australia and the players' association came to an end. "It is fantastic that the deal has been done and everybody can focus on cricket. Australia will be travelling to Bangladesh very soon and then we come to India and then the Ashes, so it is wonderful that the game can now move forward. The players can focus on what they do the best - playing - and the administrators can do their job too. I think everybody is sick and tired of talking about it and very happy that it's over," he added.


India dismiss Sri Lanka to complete 3-0 rout, script historic cricket series win
MMNN:14 Aug 2017

India registered an emphatic win over clueless Sri Lanka, completing a historic 3-0 clean sweep of an away Test series. Bundled out for 135 in the first innings and made to follow on, Sri Lanka went down without a whimper to be all out for 181 at the Pallekele International Stadium on Monday The innings win inside three days meant India have for the first time inflicted a whitewash in a three-Test series away from home. Virat Kohli and Co won the first Test in Galle by 304 runs and the second by an innings and 53 runs in Colombo. At Pallekele, Sri Lanka never recovered from the stunning assault by Hardik Pandya (108 off 96 balls). And up against India's total of 487, the home team batsmen fell like nine pins. Resuming their second innings on 19 for one, it was abject surrender by the home team against the bowling of R Ashwin and Mohammed Shami, who finished with four and three wickets respectively. There was token resistance from the fifth wicket pair of skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews, but chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav broke the partnership at the score of 105 and the innings caved in It was another episode in Sri Lanka's sorry story in the series. They have struggled to get a partnership going, and whenever they have seemed like getting one, India have broken through. Seldom have India been so dominant in an away series. India were all over the Sri Lankan team in the series. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul not only laid a platform in Pallekele, but got runs rapidly to seize the initiative. In the third Test, they set the tone with an aggressive 188-run partnership. The middle-order made merry in the first two games, and for once when they struggled at Pallekele, the lower-order more than made up with Hardik Pandya slamming a brilliant hundred. The roll of dice also went against the hosts with Virat Kohli winning all three tosses and getting his team to bat first and set the tone. In their final act of the series, Sri Lanka needed opener Dimuth Karunaratne to produce one of his second innings specials like he did at Galle and Colombo. But the hosts were in trouble soon after resuming at 19/1. R Ashwin struck in his first over on Monday, the third of the day, to remove Karunaratne. The two have had a personal battle with Karunaratne scoring a hundred in the second Test. But here he had no chance, Ashwin producing an off-spinner's special to have him caught at slip. The ball drifted, turned and bounced and took the top of the bat and glove. Pallekele woke up to overcast conditions and like most pace bowlers, Mohammed Shami just loved it. In good rhythm through the match, Shami bowled a fiery spell. He pitched at three-quarter length and around the off-stump with an excellent seam position. His fuller delivery was too good for nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara and the thick outside edge was gobbled up by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Sri Lanka's hopes of a fight received a serious setback when rising star Kusal Mendis succumbed to the pressure built by Shami. Trying to break the shackles, the batsman attempted to work the ball to the on-side but missed to be trapped leg before. Chandimal (36 off 89 balls) was the fifth wicket to fall, caught at short leg by Cheteshwar Pujara off Kuldeep Yadav. And R Ashwin effectively hit the final nail 14 runs later when he trapped Angelo Mathews leg before.


Murali Vijay says he doesn't 'feel 100 per cent' but is ready for comeback
MMNN:11 Aug 2017

Murali Vijay missed the 10th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions Trophy 2017 due to a wrist injury. He underwent surgery and was expected to return for India's ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka, but recurrence of pain in his wrist forced him out of the team again. Murali Vijay,?India's No. 1 opener in Tests, is looking forward to an 'excellent opportunity' for what he terms will be the 'second innings', as the 33-year-old gears up for his comeback after a five-month gap in the ongoing Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). Vijay was troubled by a wrist injury for almost half of the home season 2016-17, as well as by a niggle in shoulder, in which India played 13 Tests. A fractured wrist troubled him for half of the season in which Virat Kohli's team won series against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. Murali Vijay featured in all of the home series, and bowed out after the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2016-17 at Dharamsala against Australia. Despite his injury, Vijay finished as the fourth-highest run-getter for India in those 12 Tests, scoring 771 runs at 36.71 with three centuries and as many fifties. He underwent a surgery in London and was also ruled out of the entire 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The right-handed opener was expected to make a comeback in the ongoing Test series between India and Sri Lanka, but recurrence of pain in the wrist prevented him to do so. Vijay says even though he does not feel 'a 100 per cent', he is now ready to make a comeback. "This is an excellent opportunity to start my second innings. It is an absolute pleasure to be back here. I've been waiting for this, and hopefully I can start it from here and build it there on," he was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo I don't feel a 100 per cent, to be honest. But mentally, yes, I'm up there. And, format doesn't matter to me. It's just been injuries, which are not under my control. I just want to get myself fit and play cricket," Vijay added. The 51-Tests veteran says he utilised the layoff time to set a few things right. "As you've seen, my career has become one-dimensional at the moment. So, I obviously want to enhance it. Batting is never a problem for me. It's just about mindset and injuries, which I want to manage properly now on. Any cricket is fantastic for me, because I enjoy playing," he added.


Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal stroll in Montreal Masters openers
MMNN:10 Aug 2017

A rejuvenated Roger Federer believes he is still reaping the benefits of his extended break from tennis after a comfortable opening victory at the ATP Montreal Masters gave him his best start to a season since 2006. The Swiss star, who celebrated his 36th birthday on Tuesday, swatted aside Canada's world number 116 Peter Polansky 6-2, 6-1 in just 53 minutes to book his place in the second round. Federer was joined in the last 16 by top seed and old adversary Rafael Nadal, who made similary short work of his opening assignment. Nadal, who will depose the absent Andy Murray as world number one if he reaches the semi-finals in Montreal this week, routed Croatian youngster Borna Coric 6-1, 6-2. Federer is riding high after a spectacular year which has netted him both the Australian Open and Wimbledon crowns. On Wednesday's evidence, few would bet against him adding the US Open to that haul after a masterful performance that left Polansky groping at shadows. A one-sided win gave him a 32-2 start to the season, his best beginning to a campaign since 2006 when he began 38-2 and finished the year at world number one. Federer attributed his renaissance to rediscovering full fitness after knee surgery in 2016 and taking a two-month break from the game earlier this year. I guess for me the key is that I'm actually healthy," Federer said. "I knew that when I was healthy, I was going to be able to have chances to win slams again, to play against the best, beat the best. "That's also reasons why I'm still playing today. If I felt like I couldn't do all these things, it would not be enjoyable or I wouldn't be doing it any more. "I think the belief was always there. The body always needed to be there, too. I think the break just rejuvenated me ... I came in refreshed. It was a different mindset." Monfils thriller Federer took control immediately against Polansky, holding his opening service game comfortably before quickly going 0-40 up in the second game. A Polansky double fault gave Federer the break and the Swiss was soon 3-0 up after holding serve to love in the next game. Polansky held his next two service games but never looked like breaking Federer's serve as the veteran moved into a 5-2 lead. Federer then broke Polansky to take the first set, following a signature backhand with a deft forehand volley that left the 29-year-old Canadian scrambling Federer was soon in control in the second set, scoring an early break and holding twice to move 3-0 up before a further break made it 4-0. Polansky earned a stay of execution after holding serve in the sixth game to make it 5-1, but Federer raced into the next round with a comfortable hold, finishing with an emphatic overhead smash. Federer will face Spain's David Ferrer in the third round. Ferrer upset 15th seed Jack Sock 7-6 (9/7), 3-6, 6-1. Elsewhere Wednesday, France's Gael Monfils saved four match points before digging deep to defeat Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori in an attritional three-set duel. Monfils prevailed 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 7-6 (8/6) to advance. There was almost another French Houdini act in the evening session, when Richard Gasquet fought back from triple match point down to earn three match points in the final set of his duel with Germany's Alexander Zverev. Fourth-seed Zverev however fought back brilliantly to claim victory in a tiebreak, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3). Zverev will now face Australia's Nick Kyrgios in the last 16. Kyrgios swatted aside Victor Troicki 6-1, 6-2.


Kevin Pietersen says England axing saved marriage, called captaincy 'worst year'
MMNN:9 Aug 2017

Kevin Pietersen has spoken about how getting axed from the England side saved his marriage and how much he hated life as skipper of the Three Lions Kevin Pietersen, who fought a lengthy battle with the England cricket management following his unceremonious exit from the national side post Ashes 2013-14, says that the axing came as a blessing in disguise, helping him save his marriage. Pietersen, who also captained England in 2008, lamented it was the 'worst year of his life'. Pietersen looked set to become the first batsman from England to make 10,000 runs but saw his career coming to a sudden halt after 104 Tests in which he accumulated 8,181 runs. Kevin Pietersen last played for England in the Sydney Test in January 2014, the final match of the Ashes 2013-14 series in which the visiting side was hammered 0-5 by Australia. He was shown the exit door post the horrible tour of Australia, and despite the maverick cricketer treading waters in the English domestic circuit, he was never included back in. More than three years since his last match for England, Kevin Pietersen has thanked the team bosses for axing him. "England did me a favour in sacking me in 2014 because it has helped me with my relationship with my kids no end. I didn't want to be a lousy dad. For the birth of my son Dylan in 2010 I had to fly back from playing in the Caribbean, see him being born then get a helicopter to Gatwick the next day to play in a semi-final for England. I was absent," Pietersen was quoted as saying by news.com.au. "Jess has been a rock to me but we've had tough times. People don't understand the pressure that goes on between the four walls of home when it's all going wrong, like it did for me on a daily basis for a year. We've put up with a hell of a lot while I was playing for England," he added. Pietersen, who captained England in three Tests and 12 ODIs in 2008, says the tenure was the 'worst year of his life'. He did not get to see his son Dylan enough. "I was under strict protocols. They tell you where you have be, you have to ask to do this and that. I had the best time playing for England. I wouldn't live here if I didn't love England. There have been hurdles. I was under the microscope. When I was captain, it was the worst year of my life. I took stock and gauged what and who was important," he said. "That massive fallout I had with England raised my profile and assisted and enabled me to turn a bad thing into a good thing. People think, 'Cricket, cricket, cricket'. Well, stuff cricket. It means that what Jess and the kids have now is so special. I've got such a wonderful life. I wouldn't want to be back on that England treadmill. It becomes monotonous," Pietersen added. The 37-year-old added that this will be his last year playing cricket in England. "That sacking and the hullabaloo it caused for six months has been the best thing for my life. Now I wake up with the kids, put them to bed, take them and pick them up from school. I watch most of Dylan's sport. I will hands down see my kids more than a lot of people. I'm now hopefully being the best dad my kids could have. All I care about is my family and my African roots," he added. "Not an Englishman" Pietersen, who sports a Three Lions tattoo says there was a time he tried too hard to be English. He said, "I tried too hard to be English when I played for England. I always got annoyed when people said I was South African. I concerned myself all the time with what can I say, can I talk differently?" "But you have to accept, you are what you are. When I played for England I played to win and I was proud to wear the Three Lions but am I English? No, I'm South African," Pietersen said. New found motive Pietersen says he now wants to save the rhinos that are headed for extinction. "There are more important things than cricket. It sounds crazy but I now want to try to save the 30,000 rhinos that are heading for extinction because of poachers. Rhinos are being killed every eight hours in Africa," he said. More than 6000 have been killed by poachers over the past decade. I knew I had to do something. I've achieved a lot in cricket but being part of stopping these animals dying out could top it all," he added.


Ravichandran Ashwin overtakes Harbhajan Singh in most five-fors list for India
MMNN:5 Aug 2017

Ravichandran Ashwin, who registered his 26th fifer in the Colombo Test against Sri Lanka, has moved past Harbhajan Singh on the list of most five-fors for India in Tests. Anil Kumble leads with 35 in 132 games. Continuing his dream run, Ravichandran Ashwin picked his 26th five-wicket haul in Test cricket on the third morning of the second Test to put India in complete control of the match against Sri Lanka being played at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground In the process, Ashwin leapfrogged Harbhajan Singh, whom he had replaced in the team, and now only Anil Kumble has more five-wicket hauls among the Indian bowlers Ashwin got his 26th fifer in his 51th Test and Harbhajan had 25 in 103 Tests. Kumble has 35 in 132 Tests, and if Ashwin continues at this pace, the former India leg-spinner's mark will be under threat in a couple of seasons. The Indian offie has bowled beautifully in this game, and he has been backed by brilliant close-in fielding. On second evening, KL Rahul had pulled off a stunner at silly point off opener Upul Tharanga's firm push to give Ashwin his first wicket, on Saturday morning Cheteshwar Pujara took a blinder off Angelo Mathews for Ashwin's first wicket of the day. Ashwin then bowled Dilruwan Perera and Nuwan Pradeep to complete his haul. Ashwin started this series with a four-wicket match haul in the opening Test at Galle, his 50th Test, to take his wickets tally to 279. Midway through the last home season he had become the quickest to 250 Test wickets.


Yuki Bhambri beats Guido Pella to storm into Citi Open quarterfinals
MMNN:4 Aug 2017

Yuki Bhambri defeated Guido Pella of Argentina 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, while Sania Mirza and Romanian partner Monica Niculescu defeated Jamie Loeb and Ashley Weinhold to enter third round Yuki Bhambri seems to be unstoppable in Washington.?The Indian, ranked No 200 in the world, overcame odds once again to beat Guido Pella of Argentina 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 and enter the quarterfinals of the ATP Citi Open on Thursday. Bhambri, who entered the main draw of the ATP 500 tournament, has had a dream run so far, scalping higher ranked players, including the defending champion Gael Monfils in the second round Wednesday. Pella, who had beaten Ramkumar Ramanathan in the first round, came into the match against Bhambri with giant-killing credentials of his own, having beaten Mischa Zverev. Both the players started strongly in the match, holding serve.?However, the Argentine World No 100, stepped it up in the tie-break to wrest the early advantage in the match. But Bhambri took control from then on, breaking Pella's serve almost at will to win the next two sets and progress into the quarterfinals where he will meet 15th seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa Anderson, world No 45, had overcome Dominic Thiem in the third round. Meanwhile, in the doubles draw, Sania Mirza and Romanian partner Monica Niculescu beat Jamie Loeb and Ashley Weinhold of the US?6-3, 6-2 to progress into the third round.


Khel Ratna: Sardar Singh, Devendra Jhajharia recommended for top award
MMNN:3 Aug 2017

The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award selection committee has suggested that both Paralympic champion Devendra Jhajharia and Sardar Singh be considered for the honour. It also recommended 17 names for the Arjuna Award Two-time Paralympic gold-medallist Devendra Jhajharia became the first paralympian to be recommended for the country's highest sporting honour -- the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Jhajharia's name was recommended along with former Indian hockey team captain Sardar Singh The 36-year-old Jhajharia, who is the first Indian to win two Paralympic gold medals (Athens 2004 and Rio 2016), was the first choice of the awards selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) C K Thakkar. Jhajharia won his medals in the javelin throw (F 46) event. The committee has picked 31-year-old hockey midfielder Sardar as its second nominee for the top honour and has suggested that both Jhajharia and Sardar be considered for the award jointly. The final call on this would be taken by the Union Sports Ministry. Besides, the awards selection committee has recommended 17 names for the Arjuna award. The list includes Indian cricket team regular Cheteshwar Pujara, women's team World Cup star Harmanpreet Kaur, Paralympic medallists Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati, golfer SSP Chawrasia and hockey player SV Sunil.


Parupalli Kashyap, HS?Prannoy progress to third round of New Zealand Open badminton
MMNN:2 Aug 2017

Parupalli Kashyap and HS?Prannoy registered easy victories against lower-ranked opponents in the second round of the New Zealand Open badminton Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap and US Open winner HS Prannoy progressed through to the third round of the New Zealand Grand Prix Gold in Auckland after registering victories in their respective matches in the men's singles event on Wednesday. Kashyap secured an easy win over local shuttler Oscar Guo 21-9, 21-8 in a one-sided contest that lasted for just 25 minutes. Prannoy, ranked fourth, on the other hand registered a straight-game win over Indonesia's Firman Abdul Kholik 23-21, 21-18 in 53 minutes. Other Indian shuttlers Siril Verma and Sourabh Verma also progressed to the next round, while Sahil Sipani and Neeraj Vashist made exit from the USD 120,000 event. Kashyap will now face Sourabh in the third round while Prannoy will lock horns with 10-seeded Wei Nan. 16-seeded Siril defeated Saputra Vicky Angga of Indonesia 21-14, 21-16 to enter the third round of the competition. Siril will now face Chia Hung Lu of Chinese Taipei. Seventh-seeded Saurabh also registered an astounding 21-16, 21-16 over Indonesia's Henrikho Kho Wibowo in a match lasting only 28 minutes. On the other hand, Neeraj bowed out of the tournament after suffering a 16-21, 13-21 defeat against America's Anthony Joe while 11-seeded Lin Yu Hsien defeated Sahil 21-9, 21-8. Pratul Joshi had to exit from the tournament after facing a 13-21, 22-24 defeat against top seed Tzu Wei Wang of Chinese Taipei.


Sachin Tendulkar joins PM Narendra Modi in praising Indian women's cricket team
MMNN:31 July 2017

Sachin Tendulkar supported PM Narendra Modi's comment that the Mithali Raj-led Indian women's cricket team may have lost the World Cup, but they managed to win the hearts of 125 crore people Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar has joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi in praising the Indian women's cricket team, which recently finished runners-up in the ICC World Cup in England. Modi said on this week's 'Mann Ki Baat' that the Mithali Raj-led side may have lost the World Cup, but they managed to win the hearts of 125 crore people. "My thoughts resonate with those of our PM @narendramodi shared on #MannKiBaat regd my fellow Indian women cricketers' exemplary performance," Tendulkar posted on his Twitter handle after the programme. The Prime Minister in his address, said he could feel their pain at losing the final against England by a narrow margin of nine runs at Lord's. "Our women cricketers did us proud at the recently-concluded Women's World Cup. I got a chance to meet them this week and I felt really nice talking to them. But I sensed that they felt really bad for not winning the World Cup," Modi said. "They looked tense. But I told them about my own assessment that this is a media driven world and expectations from players are hyped manifold. And when these expectations aren't met, they turn in aggression. We have seem many instances where if our team loses, the whole country is enraged. In fact, what hurts the most is when few people cross their limits and go on to say and write very shameful things," he added. He further said: "But this is the first instance when the country stood together with our team when they couldn't lift the title. Not just this, but the entire nation lauded the performance of these athletes as well. "I see this as a pleasant change. And I also told them that they are lucky to have this kind of support. It doesn't matter that you couldn't win the title as you have won the hearts of 125 crore people," Modi added.


India vs Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli Smashes 17th Test Century, Extends Visitors' Dominance
MMNN:29 July 2017

Indian skipper Virat Kohli smashed his 17th Test century to help India set 550-run target for Sri Lanka in the opening Test at Galle. Virat Kohli might have failed to deliver in the first innings but he quickly made up by smashing a brilliant century in the second innings, 17th of his Test career, to extend India's dominance in the opening Test against Sri Lanka at Galle. India dominated the first three days of the Test and on Day 4, the Indian skipper brought about a fine century to increase his team's lead against the hosts. Kohli played a chanceless innings and scored at a fast rate with the Sri Lankan bowlers having little answer on how to stop India's run-machine. Kohli fell to Nuwan Pradeep for just three on the opening day and would have been disappointed about not cashing in against a lacklustre Sri Lankan bowling attack. In the second innings, Kohli was not going to repeat his mistake and went about his business in ruthless fashion. As soon as he came into bat, Kohli took the attack to the hosts. Kohli had been bounced out in the first innings and the Sri Lankan bowlers tried to repeat the same tactic, early on, but to no avail. India had lost first innings centurions Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara early, Kohli and Abhinav Mukund (81) steadied India's second innings and put on 133 runs for the third wicket as the visitors reached 189 for three in 46.3 overs at stumps. After a rain-break that cost 86 minutes, playing time was extended until 6 pm local time to make up for the lost overs. Kohli and Mukund made hay while the sun was out as they barely countered any trouble from the Sri Lankan bowlers. This was the first time since February that the Indian skipper had crossed the 40-mark, after scoring 204 and 38 against Bangladesh at Hyderabad. His highest against Australia in five innings across three Tests was 15.


Mohammad Amir, Pakistan cricket star, rubbishes reports on retirement
MMNN:28 July 2017

Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir has dismissed rumours about his retirement from Test cricket. Earlier in May, unsubstantiated media reports claimed that Amir was considering drawing curtains on his Test career in order to prolong his white-ball career. However, the left-armer has now put an end to any speculation about his Test future. "I have no idea what the thinking was behind this ridiculous story," cricket.com.au quoted Mohammad Amir as saying. I'm fit, strong and healthy and have no intentions of quitting any format. What I had said was that as a cricketer you have to take care of your body and look after your fitness levels and someone altered that statement and quoted me as saying that I wanted to quit playing Test cricket. "It's totally untrue and as long as I am fit I want to play in all formats," Mohammad Amir added. Mohammad Amir, along with fast bowler Mohammad Asif and former skipper Salman Butt, were found guilty of corruption in the Lord's Test between England and Pakistan in August 2010 by an independent Anti-Corruption Tribunal in February 2011. Since his return to international cricket last year, Mohammad Amir has taken 43 wickets in 14 Tests during a mixed period for Pakistan's Test side. The figures don't suggest that Amir has had an impressive comeback. But the left-armer says he's showing signs of getting back to his absolute best. "I was not under any false impressions that my comeback would be easy and that I would hit the ground running," he said. High expectations from Amir Amir said that during the ban, he didn't even touch a cricket ball and still people were expecting him to make an instant impact on his return to international cricket. "That was an impossible task and yet critics were writing me off straight after my comeback," he said. "It's been about 18 months since my comeback and I think I am now showing the results of the hard work that I have put in. People need to be patient and I had to be patient, too, as these things take time," Amir added


Dear Me: If you have the talent, no one can stop you - Dhanraj Pillay
MMNN:27 July 2017

Dhanraj Pillay, former Indian hockey team captain, writes to his younger self not to get blinded by the spotlight of fame Dear 14-year-old Dhanraj, Did you get asked by that one teacher again why you bother coming to school? That's been happening a lot, isn't it? You're not a particularly studious kid. But those words hurt, don't they? I know you're upset. Seething. But trust me, fate has something bigger in store for you. You're a misfit in school, but many years from now, there will be a chapter on you in school textbooks. And you will get there because of hockey. That's right, hockey! Let me tell you how. In the fishbowl that is Khadki, where you were born, you only have two options: you either go to work at the ammunition factory where your father works or leave to seek employment elsewhere. Evenings in the sleepy town are to be spent playing carrom or trying to avoid trouble. But often in Khadki, trouble finds you. Your elder brother Ramesh understands this. That is why he will make you come and stay with him in Mumbai in a couple of years. Ramesh is proof that even kids from Khadki can make it big. At first, it won't seem like you can follow in his footsteps. There will be a day when you are laughed off by the state's hockey officials when you ask if you can make it to the national team. But you put your head down and keep working hard. You know you will make it one day. And you do! At 21, you will make your debut for India against China in the Allwyn Asia Cup. Yes, you! The boy who grew up playing hockey on a dusty patch of ground in Pune. Then in a couple of months, you will be playing in the BMW tournament. India is playing Pakistan and you're in the starting XI. This is it. Your turning point When you boarded the flight to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, it was a dream come true. At the Games Village, you are amid greatness. There's the US basketball Dream Team and there's Carl Lewis. Looking at them makes you expect more from yourself. You're still a wide-eyed youngster. Shy. This Olympic world is alien to you. But you find your place on the hockey pitch. You don't just fit in, you belong. With the ball at your stick, you're an artist. You catch everyone's attention and the offers pour in from foreign clubs. A French hockey team, Lyon, wants you to play for them. The money is good. So you go to play there for three months. At Lyon, in Tony Fernandes you find the teacher you never had. Under Tony sir, your guru, your stamina and fitness levels will go up. It is here that you hone the biggest weapon in your arsenal: a sudden burst of pace with the ball. Your stints at Lyon leave you a changed man. More confident. Faster. Fitter. Hungrier. And it shows. At the 1994 World Cup, even though India finish fifth, you're the only Indian to be picked for the World XI. But it is one year later, at the South Asian Games in Chennai, when you will actually become a household name. You score a hattrick in India's 5-2 win against arch-rivals Pakistan. It was a grudge match. You will never forget that moment. But remember Dhan, the bright spotlight of fame can often blind. So don't get carried away in the flow. When you are older, you will see players who are incredibly talented. You feel they could even replace you one day. But they don't. They let the attention get to their heads. And they lose their way. You may be the poster boy for Indian hockey. But don't forget to stay grounded. There's one thing that Ramesh once said that I have always kept in mind: Making it to the Indian team is difficult, but staying there takes a lot of commitment, dedication and sacrifices. In the coming few years, you see exhilarating highs and experience dreadful lows. There will be an eighth place finish at the 1996 Olympics, and a ninth place finish at the 1998 World Cup. But a few months later, at the Asian Games you will taste victory as the captain. You return and are gifted a swanky house by Balasaheb Thackeray, a dream come true for a poor boy from Khadki. You should be overjoyed, instead you're left seething. You will learn this soon enough, Dhan, but often in India, you have to go to war for your own rights. You may be a world class player, but the authorities still stick six of you in one cramped room during national camps. You are made to sleep on mattresses laid out on the floor. And when you dare to ask for match fees after leading the country to Asian Games gold, you're dropped. Just like that. Many years later, you often wonder whether it was prudent to have taken on the officials. But if not you, then who? Since you were a child barely taller than a hockey stick, you've never been one to take injustice lying down. You're not about to start now. Your talent does not allow the federation to keep you off the turf for long. You find yourself in the team for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It is a team widely believed to be medal contenders. We feel like medal contenders. But it wasn't meant to be. Sometimes in sport, dejection springs out of the unlikeliest of mouse holes. On this occasion, it occurs in a group stage match against Poland, a team with little hockey history. India is 1-0 up, with just one minute 40 seconds remaining. You're on the cusp of a semifinal spot. And then Poland score. The wind knocked out of us, we end up finishing seventh. You have suffered heartbreak in your career before. But this is different. This one leaves a scar. It leaves you shattered. Broken. You may not believe me, but in this moment you lose the will to play. You break down each time you think about the defeat. But this is not how your story ends. Remember those days when you travelled 30 kilometres in the morning just to get to training at 7am while you were with Mahindra and Mahindra in Mumbai? You didn't go through all that for months to give up so easily. You will make it to another Olympics. You know this is going to be your last. You hope that at least this one time, the association hands you the honour of being the captain. But you are left disappointed. It is around this time that you realise that your career is drawing to a close. Against better judgement, you harbor hope that you will at least be given a send-off match. A testimonial of sorts. It never comes. I'm writing to you from 2017, Dhan. Things have changed so much in the sport. Matches last just 60 minutes now. Oh, and instead of halves, we play for four quarters. But for you, nothing will change. You still look at a hockey stick and the memories come rushing back. Each time you played, you wore your heart on the sleeve and your face contorts into a mask of intensity. You never smile on the turf. But it's not because you're not enjoying yourself. It's because you were immersed in your game. You may not have gotten the testimonial match or the Olympic captaincy, but the sport has given you so much more. You're a boy from a middle-class family in Khadki who made it to four Olympics. Became an Arjuna Awardee. A Khel Ratna. A Padma Shri. So don't let anyone tell you that a boy from Pune can't make it to the Indian team.


Live - India vs Sri Lanka, live cricket score, 1st Test, Day 1, Galle: Pujara eyes 100 after Shikhar Dhawan's 190
MMNN:26 July 2017

Shikhar Dhawan literally toyed with the Sri Lankan bowling attack in the post-lunch session to score 190 off just 168 balls on Day 1 of the first Test match between the two teams in Galle on Wednesday Shikhar Dhawan added 253 in 280 balls with Cheteshwar Pujara for the second wicket. The extent of the left-handed opener's domination can be seen in the fact that Pujara's contribution in the double-century partnership was just 74 The home team bowlers looked clueless against the rampaging Dhawan, who celebrated his return to the Indian team with a superb, attacking knock. The left-handed opener literally toyed with the Sri Lankan bowling attack as he raced to his century off 110 balls with 16 fours. Batting on 64 at lunch, he moved into top gear after the break. He went berserk at the start of the 33rd over, smashing three fours off Dilruwan Perera and cut Nuwan Pradeep to the point fence to jump from 82 to 100 within no time. Making a comeback into the team after October 2016, Dhawan profited from an early reprieve. The chance he offered at the score of 31 was the only blemish in Dhawan's innings who provided India a rollicking start. The Galle International Stadium has been a good venue for Dhawan, having scored a hundred here in 2015. He started the proceedings with a firm push off the first ball of the match for a single and was completely at ease against the new ball bowlers and the spinners. The boundaries flowed from his blade and the first came off the 7th ball, a delightful straight drive off Sri Lanka's experienced pacer Nuwan Pradeep. He was harsh on off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, first picking him off the toes and then coming down the track and driving him through the covers. To add to Sri Lanka's misery, he was given a reprieve when India were 59 for one, in the 14th over. It was the first good ball of the over by the wayward Lahiru Kumara, having conceded two easy fours and being warned for a beamer. However, he was unlucky to miss out on his maiden double century when he was dismissed by Nuwan Pradeep.


Anya Shrubsole:?Bowling star who gave England the Women's Cricket World Cup
MMNN:24 July 2017

Anya Shrubsole captured six wickets for 46 as England defeat India to lift the Women's Cricket World Cup title for the fourth time. England, it seems, had foreseen big things from Anya Shrubsole nine years ago when they handed her a debut at 16. The right-arm medium pacer, now 25, was the star of Women's Cricket World Cup final on Sunday as her six-wicket haul drove the hosts to a close win over India. (VIDEO?HIGHLIGHTS) While her ODI debut was impressive as she picked a wicket for 26 runs in 8.3 overs against South Africa back in August, 2008, it was the T20I debut 10 days later that brought her into limelight. She removed three of the top four South African batsmen, returning with figures of 3 for 19 in four overs as England, already 2-0 up going into that game, wrapped up the series 3-0. Two months later, she was awarded the Most Promising Young Women's Cricketer Award by The Cricket Society. The promising teenager featured in just one game in the World Cup that took place in 2009, returning with unspectacular figures of none for 27 in seven overs against Pakistan. England, however, didn't need her that much as they won the World Cup, their first one away from home. A few niggles and injuries troubled her over the next couple of years, but she always managed to come back with a bang and perform to the best of her abilities. By the time the next World Cup came around in 2013, this time in India, she was to share the new ball with veteran Katherine Brunt. Although she missed the opening game against Sri Lanka, Shrubsole was included in the side for the next game against hosts India. She picked one wicket, but added 12 more to her tally over the next three matches. England finished third after beating New Zealand in the third place play-off. A year later, England reached the final of the World T20 with Shrubsole leading the pack with 12 wickets en route to the final against Australia. They, however, lost to the Southern Stars by six wickets after getting bowled out for a paltry 105. Shrubsole did give them hope with an early breakthrough but the target proved too little. Shrubsole finally came of age on Sunday. Having been appointed as Heather Knight's deputy after Charlotte Edwards hung up her boots last year, the right-arm seamer knew the responsibility she had in hand. England lost to India in the tournament's inaugural game but came back strong, scoring a thrilling victory over South Africa in the semifinal to book a place in the final for the second time in three editions. Shrubsole had six wickets to her name in the tournament before Sunday but doubled that tally in an emphatic manner as India were bundled out for 219 after being 191/3 at one stage. Shrubsole started the innings by bowling out Smriti Mandhana, who had scored 90 against them in the inaugural fixture. She came back to remove a well-set Poonam Raut. Raut's wicket started the slide as Shrubsole picked four more.She also played a part in the run-out of Shikha Pandey. A perfect yorker to send pack Rajeshwari Gayakad wrapped things up for her and England as the celebrations began across the host nation. Her six-for is now the best figures in a World Cup final besides being the third-best in any World Cup game.


Usain Bolt breaks 10 seconds for first time this season in Monaco Diamond League
MMNN:22 July 2017

Usain Bolt won in 9.95 seconds, three hundredths of a second ahead of American Isiah Young. South Africa's Akani Simbine was third in 10.02 in Monaco Diamond League meeting Usain Bolt ran under 10 seconds for the first time this year as he narrowly won the 100 metres at the Monaco Diamond League meeting on Friday. The eight-time Olympic sprinting champion was slow out of the blocks, just as he was in his last race in Ostrava last month, and never managed to put a big gap between him and the field. Usain Bolt won in 9.95 seconds, three hundredths of a second ahead of American Isiah Young. South Africa's Akani Simbine was third in 10.02. Before the meeting, the Jamaican went to Germany to have treatment for back issues that have troubled him for years. It was his last outing before next month's world championships in London where he will race in the 100 metres and 4x100m relay. It was good, I'm going into right direction, still a lot of work to do," said Usain Bolt, who is scheduled to retire after the world championships. "I'm always here for the fans, and of course I will miss the vibe around the track. Mixed emotions always -- happy for my career, sad that it is ending. Sub 10 is always good. It was an exciting race, lots of energy. Olympic and world champion Wayde van Niekerk won a titanic battle against Botswana's Isaac Makwala to take the 400 metres. The South African, also the world record holder in the event, made a lightning start, then Makwala recovered to lead coming off the final bend before Van Niekerk powered down the final straight to win in 43.73 seconds. Makwala's time of 43.84 was a personal best. Van Niekerk's fellow South African, Caster Semenya, won a dramatic women's 800 metres in a season's best and meeting record time of 1:55.27. The Olympic champion snatched the win in the last few metres ahead of Burundi's Francine Niyonsaba and Ajee Wilson, who both set national records. The trio had been neck and neck down the final straight. Wilson's 1:55.61 shattered the previous U.S. record of 1:56.40 set by Jearl Miles-Clark in 1999. Elijah Manangoi upstaged a strong field to win the men's 1500 metres in a year's best time of 3:28.80. He sped past compatriot Timothy Cheruiyot on the final straight after the two broke clear of the field while Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz was well beaten in ninth. Manangoi's fellow Kenyan, Emmanuel Korir, also ran the fastest time of the year as he won the men's 800 metres in 1:43.10


Harmanpreet Kaur wins praise from Tendulkar, Kohli after epic ton in Women's Cricket World Cup semis
MMNN:21 July 2017

Harmanpreet Kaur's blistering century helped India beat Australia by 36 runs and reach the ICC Women's World Cup final, to be played against hosts England at Lord's on Sunday. The effort was lauded by Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and other top internationals cricketers All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur struck a sensational, unbeaten 171 as India stunned champions Australia by 36 runs to storm into the ICC Women's World Cup final on Thursday. (HIGHLIGHTS) Harmanpreet smashed 20 fours and seven sixes in a whirlwind innings of 115 deliveries to help India overcome a slow start and amass 281/4 in 42 overs, after the match in Derby was reduced following heavy rain in the morning. Indian pace bowlers Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey then led the spirited showing on the field before the champions were 245 all out in 40.1 overs, avoiding a big defeat thanks to a last-gasp 90 by Alex Blackwell. Blackwell shared a 76-run partnership with Beams for Kristen Beams for Australia's final wicket. Mithali Raj's side will face England in the final to be played at the Lord's on Sunday. India will vie for the title a second time. Harmanpreet Kaur played the innings of her life after India, having elected to bat, made a slow start. She played herself in before smashing the Aussie bowlers to all parts, hitting big sixes and cashing in towards the end as she was fed full tosses to hole out in the deep. India lost openers Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut within the first 10 overs. However, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur got together in a 66-run stand to steady the innings. While Mithali fell for 36, Harmanpreet held on and picked up pace to dismantle the Australian bowling. Harmanpreet completed her century from 90 balls, adding 71 runs from her next 25 deliveries. She raised a blistering 137-run fourth-wicket partnership with Deepti Sharma, who scored 25. Veda Krishnamurthy scored 16 not out help India raise a formidable total in the end. Delirium at Bhullar household The phone has not stopped ringing at the Bhullar household in Moga (Punjab) since the cricketer started swatting the Australian bowlers out of the park at Derby in the ongoing ICC Women's World in the second semifinal. Her father Harmander Singh Bhullar told Hindustan Times, "The real celebrations will only start when India wins the match and storms into the final." But he could not hide his feelings on the Harmanpreet's spectacular knock. "I am so proud of Harman. She has made not only us but the whole nation proud by doing well in the crucial match. She was really frustrated on missing out in the previous matches due to the finger injury she suffered against the West Indies. She will be relieved today. Waheguru jee has blessed my daughter today and hope to see India making it to the final and at Lords," he added. Batting at number four, Harmanpreet Kaur smashed 115-ball unbeaten knock of 171 runs to set up India to a huge total of 281 for 4 in 42 overs. Harman bettered her previous ODI best score of 107 runs. She hammered 20 fours and seven towering sixes during her blistering knock at the strike rate of 148.69. Harmanpreet, who started as a medium-pacer in Moga, switched to batting under coach Yadavinder Singh Sodhi. Daughter of a clerk in the local District Court became the first woman to be signed by Sydney Thunder in the second edition of T20 Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia. She would also be playing in the England Kia T20 League in August.


Kevin Pietersen slams England top order after South Africa rout
MMNN:20 July 2017

Kevin Pietersen came down hard on England batsmen for their underperformance against South Africa in the second Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham Kevin Pietersen has criticised England's top-order batsmen for being too passive and has called for the inclusion of Jason Roy and Dawid Malan in next week's third test against South Africa. Opener Keaton Jennings has totalled 44 runs in his four innings in the first two tests of the four-match series, which is tied at 1-1, while number three Gary Ballance has failed to score a fifty in his last 11 innings. England cruised to a comprehensive 211-run win in the series opener at Lord's but new captain Joe Root was given a rude awakening in the second test when South Africa won by a massive 340 runs at Nottingham to square the series. "They picked a poor test-match team," Pietersen told Sky Sports after scoring 52 off 35 balls in his return to domestic cricket for Surrey in the NatWest T20 Blast on Wednesday. "I know they won at Lord's but that was the brilliance of Joe Root. "There's individuals that are brilliant, but the collective don't fire as much as they should and there are some holes in that batting order." Root, who replaced Alastair Cook as England's test captain, scored a splendid 190 to set up England's win. While Cook has looked solid during the series, the left-handed opening batsman has in the past been criticised for his defensive approach. You cannot have a top three that bat as the top three bat or has poor technique, you cannot have that," said the 37-year-old Pietersen, who played 104 tests for England. "You've got to change that up, get them striking, get bowlers thinking 'Goodness, if I don't bowl this ball in the right place, I'm going to get whacked'. Malan and Roy are my choice." England will have to make at least one change to their batting line-up for next week's third test at The Oval as Balance has been ruled out with a broken finger. Roy has been a regular member of England's limited-overs squads but was not selected for the 50-over Champions Trophy at home last month. Malan improved his chances on his England debut last month in the deciding Twenty20 international against South Africa in Cardiff, where he starred with a series-winning 78 off 44 balls.


Roger Federer says Wimbledon success unbelievable after beating Pete Sampras
MMNN:17 July 2017

Roger Federer admitted that he never thought he'd be a record eight-time Wimbledon champion and would even have laughed if he was told he'd win two majors in 2017. The Swiss star, who will turn 36 in three weeks' time, eased past the mark of seven All England Club titles he had shared with Pete Sampras since 2012 with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 win over injury-hit Marin Cilic in the final. It was 16 years ago when Federer famously defeated Sampras at Wimbledon to announce himself as a star in the making. However, it wasn't until 2003 that he captured his first All England Club title. Now he has 19 majors, four clear of closest rival Rafael Nadal on the all-time list. "I didn't think I was going to be this successful after beating Pete here," said Federer who also won a fifth Australian Open in January. "I hoped to have a chance maybe one day to be in a Wimbledon final and have a chance to win the tournament. Winning eight is not something you can ever aim for. If you do, you must have so much talent and parents and the coaches that push you from the age of three on, who think you're like a project. I was not that kid." Federer had been written off as a faded force when he was knocked out of Wimbledon in the semi-finals by Milos Raonic last year. He immediately shut down his season to rest a knee injury, a decision which meant that for the first time in his professional career he would go through an entire campaign without adding to his trophy haul. But his Australian Open triumph led to back-to-back Masters at Indian Wells and Miami before he skipped the clay court season. A ninth Halle grass court title followed and on Sunday his record triumph in south-west London took his career trophy collection to a staggering 93. Sunday's straight-sets cruise meant he was the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the title without dropping a set. I am surprised that it's this good. I knew I could do great again maybe one day, but not at this level. So I guess you would have laughed, too, if I told you I was going to win two slams this year. People wouldn't believe me if I said that. I also didn't believe that I was going to win two this year." Federer also insisted he fully intends to defend his Wimbledon title in 2018 despite delivering what many fans fear sounded like a farewell speech to Centre Court. "We never know what happens," said the Swiss star, who had told the crowd in his victory speech: "I hope to be back, I hope this wasn't my last match". He later clarified his remarks, telling reporters: "Honestly, ever since I had the year I had last year, I think a year ahead of time, you know, with my schedule, fitness schedule, tournaments I would like to play. So I totally see myself playing here this time next year. There's never a guarantee, especially not at 35, 36. But the goal is definitely to be here again next year to try and defend."


Sundar Gurjar becomes 2nd Indian to win gold at Para Athletics World Championship
MMNN:15 July 2017

Sundar Gurjar, after a heartbreak at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, lived up to the expectations and clinched gold medal in javelin throw at the Para Athletics World Championship in London on Friday. At the Rio Games he was not allowed to compete for being late by two minutes to report for javelin throw event. He came up with his personal best throw of 60.36m, in the fourth throw among six attempts, to grab top honours in F-46 category (disability with single arm amputee). "I was eagerly waiting for this moment since the Rio fiasco and I am very happy that I was able to pull it off," said elated Sundar Gurjar while talking to HT after the event. "From the very beginning of the event I was sure of medal, but while attempting the first throw I had a sprain in my angle and for a moment I had a negative thought that again it's my bad luck that would deprive me of a medal. Thankfully it was a very minor sprain and in the next throw I touched 59.42m, which made it clear that I am going to take home gold," shared Gurjar, who hails from Rajasthan. It's the second time that an Indian para-athlete won gold at World Championship. Earlier, in 2013, Devendra Jhajharia won gold in javelin throw. He also went on to clinch gold in Rio Paralympics. "I am thankful to the God that my sport is back on the track. The Rio episode has put my sporting career in gloom and for quite some time I started thinking that my career has ended. But somehow with a help of my family and coach Mahaveer Prasad I was able to start my training and gradually picked up the momentum. The medal in the world championship was so important for me that had I missed it I would have gone mad," said Gurjar. Rio a passť, eyes on 2020 Tokyo Till 2015 November, Sunder was competing in the general category and also had a junior national gold to his credit. But due to an accident at his friend's place where some construction work was going on, he lost his left hand as a steal sheet fell on it. After that he competed in para-sport. "A medal in London is just a consultation and only a podium finish in 2020 Tokyo Paralympics can make up for the Rio loss. If everything goes as per plan and God will be kind to me I am going to make the country proud in Tokyo," said Gurjar, who is also competing in the shot put and discus throw events in London.


FIH?Hockey World League Semis: Preeti Dubey goal takes India to quarterfinals
MMNN:13 Jul 2017

Indian Women's Hockey team secured a hard-fought 1-0 win against Chile to book their tickets for the knockout stage of the FIH?Hockey World League Semi-final for women in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Preeti Dubey's 38th minute goal was enough to get India their first win of the tournament. Their match against South Africa ended in a goalless draw and they were beaten 4-1 by USA in their previous game. Both India and Chile looked to score early in the game. India thought they had taken the lead in the 12th minute off the penalty corner rebound. However, the goal was overturned after a video referral and the first half ended goalless. However, India finally made a breakthrough when Pretti Dubey slotted home in the third quarter. India looked to increase their lead thereafter, but had to switch tactics after Renuka Yadav was yellow carded. They thus started the final quarter with 10 men. Chile attacked relentlessly in the final quarter which led to some tense moments for India's defence. They even earned back-to-back penalty corners with 5 minutes to go. But India defended well in the death, thus giving them their first win of the tournament. India will next play Argentina on July 16 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.


Rafael Nadal beaten by relentless Gilles Muller in Wimbledon fourth-round epic
MMNN:11 Jul 2017

16th seed Gilles Muller stood firm in 135-minute fifth set of interminable tension to knock Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon in Monday's Round 4 match Rafael Nadal's hopes of a third Wimbledon crown sank with the setting sun as Luxembourg's Gilles Muller returned to haunt the Spaniard with a nerve-jangling 6-3 6-4 3-6 4-6 15-13 victory in a fourth-round classic on Monday. Twelve years after first getting the better of Nadal on the All England Club lawns -- since when his career has trundled along in unspectacular fashion -- 16th seed Muller stood firm in 135-minute fifth set of interminable tension. Nine times in that heart-pounding decider, 31-year-old French Open champion Nadal served to stay alive. Men of lesser resolve than the 34-year-old Muller would have cracked -- but the left-handed serve-and-volleyer was relentless in pursuit of victory and it was 15-times grand slam champion Nadal who succumbed when asked to walk the tightrope for the 10th time at 13-14. A miss-hit forehand gave Muller two more match points and this time there was no escape for Nadal as another error off his trusty weapon ballooned over the baseline. Muller stood motionless for a few seconds, taking in the enormity of his victory as the Court One crowd which has spent the past two hours on the edge of their seats, rose as one. There was little doubt he deserved the ovation. He outplayed Nadal in the opening two sets and then, after weathering a ferocious fightback, made the running in the fifth when his baseline craft matched Nadal's. He struck 30 aces and 95 winners as he moved on to a quarter-final with Marin Cilic -- his second in majors after reaching the last eight at the 2008 U.S. Open. "I'm just glad it's over," Muller, who was cheered on from the stands by Prince Felix of Luxembourg, said. Big battle "I did really well in the first two sets, then Rafa stepped it up. It was a big battle. When I had the last two match points, I thought I just had to give it a shot. "Somehow in the end I made it." Nadal has now failed to get past the fourth round since losing the 2011 final to Novak Djokovic, whose match against Adrian Mannarino was postponed to Tuesday because of the late-running drama taking place on Court One. Since then Nadal has lost to the likes of Lukas Rosol, Steve Darcis and Nick Kyrgios but this year, having claimed a 10th French Open, the Spaniard arrived at Wimbledon in peak form and fitness and looked a good bet for the title. Had he pulled this match out of the fire who knows where it would have taken Nadal. The crowd, despite loving an under-dog at Wimbledon, were firmly in his corner but even with their vocal backing he gave himself too much to do. "I think I didn't play my best the first two sets, then I was always playing against the scoreboard. And that's so difficult against a player like him," Nadal told reporters. "So well done to him. He played well. Especially in the fifth, he played a great game. "It was a great atmosphere. I put everything on the court. I played with all my passion." Muller, one of the few players on the tour who is happy to come to the net, harassed Nadal from the start and took the first set with a single break of serve in the sixth game. Nadal made a mess of an attempted dropshot to give Muller a break at 4-4 in the second set and the man from Luxembourg moved two sets ahead when Nadal netted a backhand When Nadal broke early in the third though it signalled a shift in momentum that took the match to a deciding set in which logic suggested the Spaniard would dominate. Muller had other ideas. Nadal was forced to save two match points, one with an ace, at 4-5, then two more again at 9-10, the first with a steadfast volley after moving Muller around the court. Muller came under fire at 6-6, saving a break point, and fought off four break points in an absorbing 18th game. After 32 holds of serve something had to give and surprisingly it was Nadal.

India vs West Indies 2017: Virat Kohli blames poor fielding for loss
MMNN:10 Jul 2017

India skipper Virat Kohli laid the blame on poor fielding and his batsmen falling short by 20-30 runs after the West Indies thrashed India by nine wickets in the one-off Twenty20 International here at the Sabina Park on Sunday. "We could have added 25-30 runs extra. We were on course for 230. In the field we dropped a few chances and if you don't grab them, you don't deserve them," said Kohli after the match. The India skipper said that the failure to have someone bat through and make 80 or 90 hurt them a lot. "If you have a good start up the order, one batsman has to bat through. I think Dinesh was good, but we needed someone to get 80-90 which a team needs in T20 cricket. Then we didn't start well with the ball and didn't field well either." Indian fielders dropped centurion Evin Lewis twice, once by Mohammed Shami and later by Dinesh Karthik as the left-handed batsman led them to a nine-wicket win. The captain, however, said that the Indian team is in experimental stage and through matches like these they are learning how to deal with various situations in T20 cricket. "West Indies have a good T20 team, they have carried on with the same team for a couple of years. We are in experimental stage and have had our ups and downs. But we need to keep going. T20 is anyone's game, and one game doesn't make a series."


Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal reach third round at Wimbledon
MMNN:6 Jul 2017

London, Defending champion Andy Murray and 10-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal both moved to the third at Wimbledon with a straight-sets wins here on Wednesday. World No 1 Murray took only an hour and 36 minutes to beat Germany's Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 while Nadal, who from 2012 to 2015 was defeated by players ranked respectively by No 100, No 135, No 144 and No 102, beat American Donald Young 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to reach the last 32 for merely the second time since he was runner-up to Novak Djokovic here in 2011, Xinhua reported. "Until right at the end of the match, the last three games when I did not serve particularly well, the rest of the match I served well," Murray said. "I was getting a lot of free points there. I served a lot bigger than I did in the first round which was good, he was not able to attack my second serve like he tries to do. So that was positive. "I moved pretty well, too. Against guys that play a lot of drop shots and come forward, you need to move well and I did that." Nadal will next play the No 30 seed Karen Khachanov in the third round while Murray takes on Fabio Fognini of Italy. "I think I'm doing the right things, but I do not know how deep I can go in the draw," said Nadal, who will once again become world No. 1 if he reaches the final here. Seventh seed Marin Cilic beat German Florian Mayer 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), 7-5; Japan's ninth seed Kei Nishikori fought off hard challenges to defeat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-1, 7-6 (6)


West Indies recall Chris Gayle for one-off T20I vs India at Jamaica
MMNN:5 Jul 2017

Chris Gayle will be in international T20 action for the West Indies for the first time in over a year, as they host India in the one-off T20 on July 9 at the Sabina Park in Jamaica West Indies recalled Chris Gayle for the first time since he helped the Caribbean side in winning the ICC World T20 2016 last year, for the one-off T20 against India on July 9. Apart from Gayle, the Caribbean side has also sought the services of Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard. While Narine had played for the West Indies against Afghanistan last month, Pollard was last seen in West Indies colours during their T20I series against Pakistan a few months ago. Gayle, on the other hand, had last played in the final of the ICC World T20 2016 against England in Kolkata. After helping his side win the tournament for the record second time, the burly and explosive batsman had indicated that he might have played his last match for West Indies, as the issues between the players and the formerly-named West Indies Cricket Board (now Cricket West Indies) were at their lowest point. Gayle's inclusion means the journey is not over for the left-handed batsman who remains a hot property in the T20 format. Gayle had smacked an unbeaten 100 against England at the start of the World T20 2016 to help his side get off to a flier. Adding Gayle - who is West Indies' leading run-scorer in T20Is - bolsters the batting further which has the likes of Marlon Samuels, Evin Lewis, Carlos Brathwaite (captain), and Kieron Pollard, to name a few. The one-off T20I will be the last assignment for the Indian team in the Caribbean, as it follows a five-match ODI series which is currently tilted in the favour of the visitors 2-1. With one more game left in the series, West Indies will fancy equalling it before heading into the T20Is. India and West Indies had played a two-match T20I series in Florida last year. While the West Indies clinched a narrow one-run win in the first game, the second match was interrupted by rains and was subsequently abandoned. The one-off T20I will be played on Sunday, July 9 at the Sabina Park in Jamaica. West Indies squad for one-off T20I vs India: Carlos Brathwaite (c), Samuel Badree, Ronsford Beaton, Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton (wk), Kesrick Williams. India squad: Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.


Ravi Shastri formally applies for post of Indian cricket team head coach
MMNN:4 Jul 2017

Ravi Shastri has formally applied for the post of head coach of the Indian cricket team following the resignation of Anil Kumble from the post following the ICC?Champions Trophy 2017. Ravi Shastri has formally applied for the post of India cricket team's chief coach. The former India team director confirmed to Hindustan Times that he has sent in his application to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which has fixed July 9 as the deadline. There are some other high profile names in the fray, including Virender Sehwag and Australian Tom Moody, but Shastri is the frontrunner for the job. Former West Indies batsman and coach Phil Simmons has also joined the race for the India coach's job, according to reports. Simmons has coached Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies. His most recent assignment was his home side, but fell out with the Windies board over his critical comments, leading to his exit. The former India all-rounder well in his first stint with the Indian team of around a year and half from 2014 to 2016 when he established a good rapport with captain Virat Kohli. He is also known to have the backing of the BCCI officials. Sunil Gavaskar, speaking to NDTV, credited Shastri for turning around India's fortunes. "After India lost in England, the BCCI asked him to come in as a team director... suddenly there was a change in the team's fortunes over a period of time." Gavaskar also felt that Shastri was the front runner for the post of head coach. "I would imagine the CAC would go back to a person the team feels comfortable with and give him the job," Gavaskar said. The new coach will be picked by the three-man Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman on July 10, immediately after India's tour to the West Indies. The new coach will take charge of the Indian team for the series against Sri Lanka.


MS?Dhoni likens himself with wine, believes he's getting better with age
MMNN:1 Jul 2017

MS?Dhoni's unbeaten 78 off 79 balls enabled India to post a winning score on a tough track and the former skipper is happy that he got a chance to play an innings of quality. There has been an element of inconsistency in his batting form but MS?Dhoni believes that he is like a vintage wine that tastes better with passage of time. His unbeaten 78 off 79 balls enabled India to post a winning score on a tough track and the former skipper is happy that he got a chance to play an innings of quality after the top three has been scoring bulk of runs in recent times. Asked how come he is getting better with age, pat came the reply: "It's like wine". The satisfaction was writ large having scored runs on a difficult track. Our top-order has been doing the bulk of the scoring in the last one-one and a half years, so it felt good to get an opportunity and score runs." "I think it was the nature of the wicket (what made the knock special). There was variable bounce and at times the pace. It was important to have a partnership at that stage. In my mind, I had 250, and we got there, with Kedar batting with me at the end. It was something the bowlers could defend, but they had to bowl well He seemed pretty vocal while giving precious inputs to the spinners (Kuldeep and Ashwin) from behind the stumps as it was caught on stump cam. "It's important (to guide spinners). Kuldeep has played a lot of games in IPL but when it comes to international cricket, it's important to know where to use your variety. Once he plays 5-10 games, he will realise it himself. The good thing is, compared to the last game, he bowled very well today.".


ICC?Women's World Cup: Mithali Raj praises Smriti Mandhana after Windies heroics
MMNN:30 Jun 2017

Smriti Mandhana was undefeated on 106 as India chased down a 184-run target with more than seven overs and seven wickets to spare in the ICC?Women's World Cup on Thursday India skipper Mithali Raj has heaped praise on Smriti Mandhana, who struck an unbeaten century to guide her side to a convincing seven-wicket victory over the West Indies in their ICC Women's World Cup match in Taunton. The 20-year-old left-hander from Mumbai returned undefeated on 106 as India chased down a 184-run target with more than seven overs and seven wickets to spare on Thursday. Mandhana, who scored 90 in the opener against England, faced 108 balls and struck 13 fours and two sixes. She added 108 runs for the third wicket with Raj (46) after India was in a bother at 33 for two. "When we lost two wickets I thought the match was even there but it was important to build a partnership. Smriti played well for her hundred, it was a crucial innings she played and overall the team looks good going into our next game," said Raj after the match "We stuck to the (bowling) plan, it was a good toss to win and I thought the spinners really turned the match. At one point I thought their openers were going very well." "The captain's (Stafanie Taylor) run-out and (Hayley) Matthews' wicket was the turning point. After that the girls really tightened up the grip," she added. Earlier, put into bat by Raj, Hayley Matthews had got the West Indies off to a good start despite the loss of Felicia Walters for just nine. However when Matthews tamely chipped one back to Deepti Sharma for 43, the West Indies innings stalled altogether. Incapable of rotating the strike against the India spinners, even the usually explosive Deandra Dottin - holder of the fastest century in women's T20Is - could manage just seven off 48 balls. Reduced to 91 for six, the West Indies mounted something of a recovery, thanks to Shanel Daley (33) and Afy Fletcher (36 not out). Fletcher provided a late impetus to the West Indies innings when she and Anisa Mohammed (11 not out), added 37 runs for the unbroken ninth wicket in just over five overs. India, chasing 184 for victory, lost Punam Raut without a run on the board, which soon became 33 for two following the departure of Deepti Sharma (six). This brought Mandhana and Raj together, who put on a match-winning 108 runs partnership to take the game away from the West Indies. Stafanie Taylor admitted that it was the West Indies' failure to keep the run-rate up in the middle overs that proved costly. "We didn't get the batting right in the middle. A good platform was set but in the middle we fell down and were really short where we didn't rotate the strike enough," she said. "We have the batters to do it but I think it's up to the batters to take more responsibility in their actions. It was crucial to get the scoreboard ticking because we know how this pitch plays. We had to get a total of 270 to be competitive." "We have to go back to the drawing board and see what's been happening and try to work on it. We have two days, we have to shake this off," she added. This was India's second successive victory in the tournament and it is now on four points along with Australia, but in second place on net run-rate. The Indian eves will next take on arch-rivals Pakistan in their next game on July 2.


Cristiano Ronaldo leaves FIFA?Confederations Cup to be with his surrogate twins
MMNN:29 Jun 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo said he had been given permission to miss the play-off in Moscow, against either Germany or Mexico, to meet his new arrivals. Portugal's superstar captain Cristiano Ronaldo revealed on Thursday that he will not play in the FIFA?Confederations Cup third-place match this weekend as he will finally meet his newborn twin boys. Hours after Wednesday's 3-0 defeat to Chile in a penalty shoot-out in Kazan, Ronaldo said he had been given permission to miss the play-off in Moscow, against either Germany or Mexico, to meet his new arrivals. Ronaldo, 32, is believed to have fathered the twins with a surrogate mother in the United States and already has a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jnr, from a previous relationship. The Real Madrid forward says he gave his "body and soul" for Portugal in the semi-final, which finished goalless after extra time, "even though my two sons were born". "The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national coach have an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget," the four-time world player of the year wrote on his official Facebook page. "I'm very happy to finally be with my children for the first time." Having won man-of-the-match awards in each of Portugal's three Confederations Cup group stage games, Ronaldo did not have his best match against Chile, whose defence managed to subdue the Real star. As well as meeting his newborn babies, Ronaldo faces an uncertain future having threatened to quit Spain as he faces allegations of tax evasion in a court in Madrid next month. .


Lasith Malinga gets suspended 1-year ban for media remarks on sports minister
MMNN:28 Jun 2017

Lasith Malinga's sanction is suspended for six months and the fast bowler will also be fined 50 percent of the match fee from his next One-Day International, Sri Lanka Cricket said. The charge against Malinga came from his response to criticism by Sri Lanka's sports minister over the team's fitness levels. Lasith Malinga'received a suspended one-year cricket ban after the fast bowler pleaded guilty to a charge of speaking to the media without permission, Sri Lanka's cricket board said Tuesday. The sanction is suspended for six months and Malinga will also be fined 50 percent of the match fee from his next One-Day International, Sri Lanka Cricket said. The charge against Malinga came from his response to criticism by Sri Lanka's sports minister over the team's fitness levels.Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara castigated players for allegedly being overweight soon after Sri Lanka failed to reach the semifinals at the ICC?Champions Trophy earlier in June, with the team dropping several catches against Pakistan. Malinga said players knew best about the game and likened the minister - who had suggested military training for the team - to a monkey occupying a parrot's nest. Sri Lanka Cricket appointed a three-member disciplinary committee with Malinga pleading guilty Tuesday to breaching his contract with the board by speaking to the media without permission. A special executive committee meeting later on Tuesday considered the finding of the inquiry and announced the sentence. It means the bowler will be free to play in the home series against Zimbabwe starting Friday. Team officials earlier made a presentation to Jayasekara over the players' fitness program, Sri Lanka cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha said.Also Tuesday, Sumathipala announced that fielding coach Nic Pothas will be interim head coach after the resignation of Graham Ford midway through his contract. Pothas will continue until the end of a home series against India starting next month. Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe play five One-Day Internationals and a test match..


India crush Windies by 105 runs
MMNN:27 Jun 2017

Opening batsman Ajinkya Rahane notched a century, captain Virat Kohli scored 87 and India crushed West Indies by 105 runs in a lopsided one-day international in Trinidad. Rahane compiled 103 and shared in an opening stand of 114 with Shikhar Dhawan as India made 310 for five wickets off 43 overs in the rain-shortened match at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain yesterday. West Indies never looked like reaching their target after losing two wickets in the first three overs, with pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar setting the visitors on the road to victory by dismissing Kieran Powell and Jason Mohammed for ducks. Opener Shai Hope offered decent resistance with 81 off 88 balls as the home team finished on 205 for six, giving India a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, after the first game on Friday was shortened by rain and declared a draw. Rahane did not make the India team for the recent Champions Trophy in England, but he grabbed his chance to impress the selectors. "Didn't get an opportunity in the Champions Trophy, and I was hungry," he said. "It's lovely to open with Shikhar. He's in great form, we understand each other's game really well. We complement each other. Wicket was slightly damp initially. We wanted to take our time initially, as well as play our shots." Kohli, meanwhile, was enthusiastic about the depth of the India squad. "It was a complete performance again," he said. "Jinks (Rahane) shows his mental strength, steps in and scores runs." The third match will be played on Friday at North Sound on the island of Antigua.




PV Sindhu storms into quarters
MMNN:23 Jun 2017

Agencies, Sydney Rio Olympic Silver shuttler PV SIndhu stormed into the quarter finals of the ongoing Australia Open Super Series badminton tournament after thrashing Chinese Chen Xiaoxin, in straight sets of here today. The World number three, stomped her Chinese opponent in straight sets of 21-13, 21-18 to seal her quarter final berth. Earlier shuttler Kidambi Srikanth defeated world No-1 Son Wan Ho to enter the quarterfinals. Loosing the first set, Srikanth made a commendable comeback to seal the game 15-21, 21-13 21-13 in the 57-minute long encounter. B Sai Praneeth also won his 2nd round match against China's Huang Yuxiang 21-15, 18-21, 21-13 in an hour and four minutes. Srikanth has been slated to face Sai Praneeth in the quarters next. However, World No 16 Praneeth carries an incredible 5-1 advantage over World No 11 Srikanth. On the other hand, in the women's double event, the Indian pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy had to suffer loss against Japanese seventh seeds Shiho Tanaka and Koharu Yonemoto 18-21, 21-18, 21-13 in the second round.




Virat Kohli forcing Anil Kumble out 'sad day for Indian cricket': Sunil Gavaskar
MMNN:21 Jun 2017

Anil Kumble resigned as Indian cricket team's head coach on Tuesday. He said his 'untenable' relationship with captain Virat Kohli led to the decision Sunil Gavaskar has lashed out at the way Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble had to relinquish his top post following an 'untenable' relationship with captain Virat Kohli. "I have very little knowledge about the differences between Virat and Anil. But it is a really sad day for Indian cricket," Gavaskar said. "India have won everything since the time Anil took over. I can't see Anil doing much wrong in one year. Difference happens in any team but see at the results," he told NDTV. During his playing days, Kumble was known as a feisty fighter, even winning matches by bowling with a broken jaw, and Gavaskar wondered why he did not stand up this time. "Anil must have had his reasons (of resigning). I would have thought Anil would carry on. Once the CAC expressed their confidence in him, Anil should have stuck around. Hope he will take it on the chin and comes back stronger. But it is the first time a known fighter like Anil did not stand up," said the former captain. He said India will have to appoint a coach before the team goes to Sri Lanka. "It is for the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) to take a call on that," said Gavaskar.




Pakistan media hail victory against India, call for more bilateral ties
MMNN:19 Jun 2017

Pakistan beat India by 180 runs in the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday to complete the ICC treble and the media was full of praise for the side's biggest victory in the ODI format since the World Cup in 1992. It was a historic night for Pakistan cricket at The Oval on Sunday as they beat India by 180 runs to clinch their maiden ICC Champions Trophy title and complete the ICC treble, having won the World Cup in 1992 and the World T20 trophy in 2009. To a few, this was a victory over India in an ICC tournament after nearly eight years, and that it came in the final of a tournament was the icing on the cake. However, what has actually made this victory all the more memorable for the country is perhaps that they came into the tournament as the least ranked side, experts had written them off. They had to somehow earn the qualification surpassing West Indies in the rankings and yet they won, and won it in style. Naturally, Pakistan media was full of praise for the team to have pulled off such a victory. The Pakistan media, too, hailed the victory with a few urging the two to engage in more bilateral ties as tension on the border and between the governments have limited such clashes to only ICC tournaments or multi-nation competitions.




ICC Champions Trophy 2017, India vs Bangladesh semi-final: 5 key player battles
MMNN:15 Jun 2017

India will take on Bangladesh in the second semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in Edgbaston. Ahead of this vital clash, here are some of the player clashes that could determine the course of this match Virat Kohli's India face a potentially tricky encounter against a determined Bangladesh side in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. This is the first time that India and Bangladesh will square off in this tournament and the winner will take on Pakistan in the final on Sunday.




Rafael Nadal to skip Queen's tournament to be fit for Wimbledon 2017
MMNN:14 Jun 2017

Rafael Nadal, who created history by winning the French Open for a record 10th time, has decided to pull out of the Queen's tournament in order to rest and prepare for Wimbledon. The 31-year-old Spaniard has had a hugely successful clay season, claiming a record 10th French Open crown on Sunday to earn a 15th Grand Slam title.





ICC?Champions Trophy: England have edge vs Pakistan in 1st semi-final
MMNN:13 Jun 2017

England take on Pakistan in the first ICC?Champions Trophy 2017 semi-final in Cardiff on Wednesday England will fancy their chances of extending the search for an elusive major global ODI silverware despite drawing a mercurial Pakistan in the first semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy here tomorrow. Three-time World Cup finalists England have been trying for the past 42 years to lay claim to a trophy in a major 50 -over tournament. In Eoin Morgan's well-balanced unit, the world sees a chance for England to realise their dream. READ?|?ICC Champions Trophy: Pakistan edge past Sri Lanka, enter semi-finals Notwithstanding Pakistan's remarkable turnaround after an embarrassing loss to arch-rivals India in their tournament opener in Birmingham, hosts England will take to the field at Sophia Gardens with their nose ahead. England have come a long way in a short space of time since a humiliating first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. They thrashed Pakistan 4-1 in a bilateral ODI series last year at home, including a world record score of 444 for three at Trent Bridge, which provides ample proof of their resurgence in recent times in a format they are still in the process of mastering. In Ben Stokes, they have one of the world's best all- rounder, who can inflict damage on the opposition with both bat and ball. It was not for nothing the Durham player was paid a handsome USD 2.16 million to take part in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) this season.




BCCI asks Virat Kohli to 'adjust' for a while with coach Anil Kumble set to continue till West Indies tour
MMNN:10 Jun 2017

With the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), consisting of former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, reportedly deciding to retain current Team India coach Anil Kumble as the coach, at least for the time being, all eyes are now on how Virat Kohli will adjust with his bete noir. According to a report in The Times of India, the trio have found it difficult to remove Kumble at short notice, as the team proceeds to West Indies for a short limited overs series just a week after the Champions Trophy. In view of such a situation, the report quoted a top source as saying that Kohli has been told to 'adjust' for a while more. "The CAC has bought some time for Kumble and ensured he is not ignominiously removed after India's run in the Champions Trophy . He will travel with the team to West Indies. It's a short tour so there shouldn't be any problems," The Times of India quoted the top source as saying.




ICC?Champions Trophy: India's semis chances and Group B's interesting scenario
MMNN:8 Jun 2017

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 has been plagued by rain and that has resulted in most of the teams still having a chance to qualify for the semifinals, especially in Group B where Pakistan Cricket team's stunning win over South Africa cricket team have opened things up and pressure on Indian cricket team as well.
ICC Champions Trophy 2017 has seen only one clear winner in seven matches so far and that is rain. With four of seven matches being affected by the weather, almost all the teams from both Group A and Group B still have a chance to enter the semifinal. (ICC?Champions Trophy latest standings) From Group A, England cricket team are the only side to have qualified for the semifinals after victory over Bangladesh cricket team and New Zealand cricket team.




Women's hockey team heads to Shillaroo
MMNN:2 Jun 2017

The Indian squad heads to SAI centre in Shillaroo for a 24-day camp starting June 1 ahead of preparations for the semi-final of Women's Hockey World League slated to begin in Johannesburg next month. The camp will feature all 33 core probable women which includes fresh faces who have been selected based on their performance at the recently-concluded Hockey India 7th Senior Women National Hockey Championship 2017. Swati from Hockey Madhya Pradesh joins Savita and Rajani Etimarpu in goalkeeping, while Navdeep Kaur, Hlunte Lalhlunmawii of Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Ritu of Hockey Haryana and Jyoti Dahiya of Association of Indian Universities will join defenders Deep Grace Ekka, P Sushila Chanu, Sunita Lakra, Gurjit Kaur, Rashmita Minz and Nikki Pradhan. Karishma Yadav of Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Nilanjali Rai of Hockey Madhya Pradesh, K Ngaihpari of Hockey Mizoram and Neha of Railway Sports Promotion Board will be the new inclusions among the existing midfielders that includes Ritu Rani, Monika, Namita Toppo, Udita, Lilima Minz and Renuka Yadav. The 10-member forward line at the camp will have Rani, Navjot Kaur, Sonika, Preeti Dubey, Poonam Rani, Vandana Katariya, Anupa Barla, Reena Khokhar, Jyoti Gupta and Navneet Kaur. India is grouped in Pool B along with US, South Africa, Chile and Argentina. Pool A features England, Germany, Japan, Poland and Ireland.




ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Sri Lanka Cricket throw weight behind national side
MMNN:18 April 2017

Preparations are in full swing for the hotly contested and coveted 2017 ICC Champions Trophy taking place in England and Wales in 2017, with the Sri Lankan national team undertaking a six-day high intensity endurance and performance program to better prepare for the matches ahead. National Captain Angelo Mathews commenting on the preparations was appreciative of the technical and resource support from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).
"The ICC Champions Trophy will be an important event for Sri Lanka as we are going through a transition and the young but extremely talented cricketers are learning to adapt to the challenges and demands of top-level cricket. I am sure this training program will provide them the experience and opportunity of acclimatization which we will find invaluable in our Champions Trophy campaign."
National Head Coach Graham Ford was confident that this young side has the talent and capacity to beat any team in the Champions Trophy and commented that all it needs is for the team to gel into a winning outfit. Ford was also appreciative of the SLC administration stating that "we lack for nothing in terms of resources. It is just about getting the mind set right now."
Meanwhile Manager Cricket and selector, Asanka Gurusinha said that the climatic conditions in Kandy and Diyatalawa where the team will spend time in altitude training will simulate the conditions the players will play under when they are in England. This is in addition to the best of facilities which are on offer in Kandy.
"The team will also leave eight days early to England where they will play two warm-up matches against the Scotland National Cricket Team which the management of Sri Lanka Cricket has secured at its own cost. This initiative from SLC will go a long way in ensuring that the national team has a better feel of the pitch and conditions in the UK." The two matches against Scotland are in addition to the other practice matches that the ICC has organized for all participating teams ahead of the Champions Trophy.




 

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