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Ben Stokes, In Ashes Exile, 'Working On Golf Swing' In New Zealand Gareth Bale Wants Beyonce To Perform At His Wedding, But She Might Cost A Fortune The Ashes: Australia Crush England By 10 Wickets In 1st Test The Ashes: Australia Squad For 1st Two Tests Causes Uproar, Stuart MacGill Lashes Out At 'Morons' 1st Test: Suranga Lakmal Rattles India's Top Order On Rain-Hit Day One Christian Eriksen's Hat-Trick Takes Denmark To FIFA World Cup 2018 Indian Women win Asia Cup Hockey after 13 years PV Sindhu Slams IndiGo Staff After 'Bad Experience', Airline Counters Claim Josh Hazlewood Urges Nathan Coluter-Nile To 'Crack Open' England Batsmen Rafael Nadal Prepares To Seal World Number One Status Lewis Hamilton Claims 4th World Title, Max Verstappen Wins In Mexico Women's Asia Cup: India Thump Singapore 10-0 To Start Their Campaign Cristiano Ronaldo Eyes More FIFA Success as Real Madrid Dominate Awards, Gets Trolled India vs New Zealand: Dean Jones Tries To Downplay Virat Kohli Milestone, Gets Trolled Kuldeep Yadav Cements Place in Indian Bowling Attack India vs Australia, 2nd T20I: Virat Kohli, Out For Zero, Sets A World Record FIFA U-17 World Cup: Jeakson Thounaojam Creates History, Colombia Sweat Hard To Win 2-1 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Preview: Another Acid Test Awaits As India Face Colombia FIFA U-17 World Cup: Sachin Tendulkar's Inspiring Message For Indian Team South Africa Bank On Kagiso Rabada, Bangladesh Aim To Avoid 2-0 Cleansweep India Women's Team Remain Unchanged At No.4 But Gain Three Points Arsene Wenger Savours 21st Anniversary as Arsenal Sink Brighton Former Australian Bowler Defends Virat Kohli In Squabble With Matthew Wade A Message From Virat Kohli For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sports Minister On Virat Kohli's 30 Centuries, A Question From Steve Smith MS Dhoni Gives Kedar Jadhav The Death Stare After Run Out Scare India vs Australia: Mohammed Shami Working On New Plans For Steve Smith, David Warner Pakistan vs World XI: Darren Sammy Applauds Hassan Ali After Being Knocked Down By Him US Open: Best Season Of My Career, Says Rafael Nadal After 16th Grand Slam Title US Open: Rafael Nadal Downs Juan Martin Del Potro To Enter 23rd Grand Slam Final T20 Global League: Kings XI Punjab's Preity Zinta to own Stellenbosch team No Rafael Nadal vs Roger Federer at US Open as Juan Martin del Potro stuns Swiss MS Dhoni Enthralls Fans By Taking Jasprit Bumrah's Man Of The Series 'Award' For A Spin Maria Sharapova lashes out at Caroline Wozniacki's jibe over US?Open schedule India vs Sri Lanka: Fans Furious As Debutant Shardul Thakur Dons Jersey No. 10. Here's Why Will Play Against Pakistan Even On One Leg,' Injured MS Dhoni Told Selector MSK Prasad Yuvraj Singh Goes Shirtless. Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh Team Up To Troll Him India vs Sri Lanka: No Regrets About Changing Batting Order, Says Virat Kohli MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh Face Flak On Twitter In Controversy Surrounding Real Estate Firm Neymar slams Barcelona bosses after scoring brace in PSG home debut 1st ODI Preview: India Begin Search for World Cup Core, Take On Sri Lanka Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo lead sports stars in condemning Barcelona attack’

Ben Stokes, In Ashes Exile, 'Working On Golf Swing' In New Zealand
New Delhi:MMNN 29 November 2017
Suspended England allrounder Ben Stokes landed in New Zealand Wednesday, joking about "working on my golf swing" amid speculation he is set for a dramatic Ashes call-up. The fiery all-rounder was tight-lipped after touching down in Christchurch, where he hopes to play first-class cricket for the Canterbury in New Zealand's domestic one-day competition. Kiwi-born Stokes said he was looking forward to seeing his parents in the South Island city he left when he was 12. "It's been that long since I've been back here, I'm 26 now," he told reporters, refusing to discuss the trolley full of cricket gear he was pushing and instead quipping about golf. Stokes is barred from international cricket as British police investigate his alleged involvement in a late-night fight outside a Bristol nightclub. But the suspension announced in September does not apply to domestic cricket, meaning Stokes could turn out for Canterbury as early as this Sunday. His stint with the New Zealand side is widely seen as an attempt to stay match-fit if Stokes receives the call to travel to Australia and bolster an England side reeling from a 10-wicket defeat in the first Ashes Test. Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported that England had contingency plans to fast-track Stokes back into the Ashes squad within 48 hours if police decide not to charge him over the fracas. That could see him play in the Third Test in Perth starting December 14. But first he has to sort out his immediate future with Canterbury, which is expected to discuss the issue at a board meeting on Wednesday night. "The Ashes hasn't been discussed whatsoever... There's still a bit of water to go under the bridge," Canterbury coach Gary Stead told Australia's RSN Radio. "I hope from a coaching point of view we can make this work. "We've got a pretty young team here and to play alongside a premium world-class allrounder would be great for them." Stokes was born in New Zealand but moved to England as a child when his father Gerard, a former rugby league international, took a coaching role. Both his parents have since moved back to Christchurch. The ECB has emphasised that Stokes is on a private trip that had not been set up by the organisation

Gareth Bale Wants Beyonce To Perform At His Wedding, But She Might Cost A Fortune
New Delhi:MMNN 28 November 2017
Real Madrid star Gareth Bale wants to hire American popstar Beyonce for his wedding next year, British media has reported. The Welsh international is set to marry his long-time girlfriend Emma Rhys-Jones and reports suggest that the couple want Beyonce to entertain their guests. They are expected to tie the knot in Italy. The wedding was reportedly delayed after Rhys-Jones' father was imprisoned for fraud in the United States. The former 'Destiny's Child' star is rumoured to charge up to 1.5 million pounds for a private appearance and it is believed that Bales' representatives are in talks and negotiations to work out a date and come to a decision. Bales' season with Real Madrid this season has been curtailed with injury. However, the 300,000 pounds-a-week man is expected to return for the Madrid club after a two-month long calf injury lay-off. He will feature against third-tier Fuenlebrada in the Copa del Rey. The forward has not played since Real's 3-1 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund on September 26. Bale has scored 70 goals in 159 matches for Madrid, winning three Champions League and one La Liga title

The Ashes: Australia Crush England By 10 Wickets In 1st Test
New Delhi:MMNN 27 November 2017
Australia cruised to a crushing 10-wicket win over England to go one-up in the Ashes 2017 series in the opening Test at the Gabba on Monday, with captain Steve Smith praising his team's character. Openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft added to England's agony by peeling off the required runs without the loss of a wicket before lunch on the final day. Warner finished unbeaten on 87 off 119 balls with newcomer Bancroft hitting the winning runs to remain 82 not out off 182 balls in Australia's 173 without loss. In the process, they broke an 87-year-old Test record for the all-time highest unbeaten opening partnership in a successful Test chase. "We had to show some really good character throughout. Obviously losing the toss, and the wicket was a lot slower than we anticipated it would be. We had to work really hard," said Australian captain Steve Smith. "I'm pleased with the way we have played. Bowling first at The Gabba, it's hard. The bowlers had to be on. The way we pulled it back to win from the position we were in it's extremely pleasing. I'm proud of the way the boys fought." The Australians only needed 56 runs on the final morning go one up after England imploded on Sunday's fourth day. England captain Joe Root said the result did not tell the full story. "For three days we were excellent. Bar Steve's knock we were right in it," he said, referring to Smith's battling first innings century. "It's frustrating. We have to move on quickly and make sure we don't make the same mistakes in Adelaide." It was Warner's 25th Test fifty and ninth in the Ashes, while debutant Bancroft posted his first half-century in only his second Test innings. "It was good fun, to share a good partnership was nice. To get the win in the end was good," said Bancroft, who was allegedly headbutted by England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow in a late-night altercation in Perth earlier in the tour. An England and Wales Cricket Board statement confirmed team management have asked Bairstow about the alleged incident.
Gabba fortress Warner said it was great to get the win without losing a wicket. "That's what we cherish, coming out being disciplined to try and get the job done as best as possible," he said. England's doleful defeat was played to the background sounds of the travelling Barmy Army supporters singing 'We'll Take the (Ashes) Urn Home' in the sparsely-populated Gabba ground. It was an attritional battle between the traditional rivals over the first three days of the Test, raising England's hopes of a first win at the ground in just over three decades. But skipper Smith's match-defining unbeaten 141 over eight-and-a-half hours to give Australia a 26-run innings lead and Josh Hazlewood's two late wickets on Saturday swung the momentum firmly Australia's way. England were knocked over for 195 off 71.4 overs, losing their last six wickets for 82, to set Australia an unthreatening target to chase down in the remaining four sessions of play. Australia stretched their unbeaten record at their Gabba fortress to 29 years since their last defeat to Viv Richards' West Indies team in 1988. England have not won in Brisbane in 31 years, a stretch of eight Ashes Tests. The five-Test series heads to Adelaide Oval for the first-ever Ashes day-night Test, starting on Saturday.

The Ashes: Australia Squad For 1st Two Tests Causes Uproar, Stuart MacGill Lashes Out At 'Morons'
New Delhi:MMNN 17 November 2017
The Ashes 2017 gets underway on November 23 with the first Test slated to be held at The Gabba in Brisbane. On Friday, the Australia announced their squad for the first two Ashes Tests, throwing more than a few surprises. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was handed a shock recall after a seven-year Test absence and comes into the 13-man squad along with batsmen Cameron Bancroft and Shaun Marsh. The selections caused a massive uproar on Twitter and were described as "bombshells" in Australian press, while former Test bowler Stuart MacGill lashed out at those concerned. MacGill, who played 44 Tests for Australia, taking 208 wickets, took to Twitter to make his displeasure known. In a stunning selection, 32-year-old Paine, who was once on the brink of retirement over a serious finger fracture, was preferred to Wade and Peter Nevill for his first Test match since October 2010. Bancroft, a 24-year-old right-hander, is in line for his Test debut at the expense of opening batsman Matthew Renshaw following a prolific series of scores for Western Australia in this season's domestic Sheffield Shield competition. Shaun Marsh, 34, makes yet another return to the Australian side and is slated to bat at number six to shore up the batting instead of all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright. Australia squad: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc

1st Test: Suranga Lakmal Rattles India's Top Order On Rain-Hit Day One
New Delhi:MMNN 16 November 2017
Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal wrecked the high-profile Indian top-order in overcast conditions to leave the hosts reeling at 17 for three on a rain-affected day one of the first Test at Eden Gardens on Thursday. Lakmal's sensational spell, in which he struck thrice without conceding a run in six overs, saw him removing opener Lokesh Rahul on the first ball of the match after play began three and a half hours late due to wet conditions. His other two victims were Shikhar Dhawan (8), who played a loose shot in testing conditions to play on to his stumps, and India captain Virat Kohli (0), who was trapped in front off a ball that came in sharply. Bad-light and rain led to multiple interruptions before umpires decided to call off the day's play with just 11.5 overs being bowled. In the second over after tea, skipper Kohli was trapped anticipating an away delivery when the ball sharply cut back in. Kohli went for the review but was given out on umpire's call to bring his innings to an end with zero from 11 balls. Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on eight after playing 43 deliveries in an anxious stay at the crease with Ajinkya Rahane at the other end. Bad light and rain meant only an hour's play was possible in the day. The first session was washed away due to drizzle and a wet outfield, and the second session began at 1.42 pm as play was possible only for 43 minutes. The post-tea period began at 3.30 pm and there was no change to India's score in the session but the Lankans added the prized-wicket of Kohli in a 17-minute session. Dinesh Chandimal won a fine toss and opted to bowl under overcast conditions as Lakmal made full use of the Eden greentop. Relishing the conditions, Lakmal produced an unplayable delivery that pitched on middle stump line and went away to take a feather edge of Rahul. It was an agonising end to Rahul's streak of seven successive fifties. He was picked in the eleven ahead of Murali Vijay but fell to a beauty. Continuing his dream start, the Lankan new-ball bowler almost cleaned up Pujara with a fuller inswinger following Rahul's dismissal. But luckily for the most dependable India batsman, the ball which darted back in went inches above the middle stump. Touring here for a Test series for the first time since 2009, Sri Lanka has lost 10 matches and drawn six as they search for a maiden win on Indian soil

Christian Eriksen's Hat-Trick Takes Denmark To FIFA World Cup 2018
New Delhi:MMNN 15 November 2017
Christian Eriksen's magnificent hat-trick inspired Denmark to a 5-1 demolition of the Republic of Ireland in Tuesday's second leg of their play-off in Dublin to clinch a spot at next year's World Cup. Following Saturday's stalemate in Copenhagen, Ireland got their home leg off to the perfect start when Shane Duffy headed them into the lead after only six minutes, but Denmark struck twice before the break and three more in the second half to seal their place in Russia. "It is an incredible feeling. We have been fighting for so long to get to the World Cup. We are very much looking forward to it," said Eriksen. "It is not often I score any hat-trick so of course it is incredible." The equaliser arrived in fortuitous circumstances on 19 minutes when Cyrus Christie helped bundle in Andreas Christensen's effort, but there was nothing lucky about Eriksen's thunderbolt for the second or his second-half brace. Nicklas Bendtner, on as a late substitute, completed the rout in the final minute with a penalty after a clumsy trip on him by James McClean, extending Ireland's wait for a first World Cup appearance since 2002. "We're really disappointed. We were well beaten in the end," said Ireland coach Martin O'Neill. "The two goals we conceded within a couple of minutes knocked us. We had to chase the game and Denmark took advantage. They deserved to go through." O'Neill, who had already agreed a new contact to lead Ireland into the qualifiers for the 2020 European Championship, will ship criticism for again selecting his team without the craft of Wes Hoolahan. The 35-year-old, one of four Ireland players likely to retire from international football, was only introduced at the interval with Ireland needing three goals to redeem their cause. Duffy will certainly be around for the next campaign and his role as a central figure was solidified by his second crucial goal of the campaign. After Daryl Murphy earned a free-kick on the halfway line, Robbie Brady's delivery was telegraphed perfectly for the giant centre-back to arrive on cue to nod past the onrushing Kasper Schmeichel. That early breakthrough ensured the game opened up and Murphy nearly added a second only to ripple the side-netting with a volley.
- Eriksen magic - Denmark began to take encouragement from the space they were finding behind the home side's rigid defence and a piece of magic from Pione Sisto conjured the equaliser. His raid from the wing left Stephen Ward for dead and the left-wing cross found Christensen, whose close-range effort clipped the inside of the post and deflected in off the luckless Christie. Three minutes later and the task deepened for Ireland. Ward was again exposed by losing the ball and Nicolai Jorgensen picked up Eriksen and he found the top corner past Darren Randolph with a first-time shot from 25 yards. O'Neill's decision to ring the changes at the break did little to ease the pressure as Sisto forced a reflex save from Randolph with a shot from distance. All Ireland could muster was the odd half chance from set-pieces, leaving space for Denmark and Eriksen to capitalise on. After nearly grabbing his second on 56 minutes, the Tottenham talisman made no mistake on 63 minutes when he completed a flowing move between four players by curling a left-footed shot beyond the outstretched arm of Randolph. While McClean and substitute Shane Long spurned openings for Ireland to try claim some respectability, they conceded again from another Ward error. The Burnley man's feeble attempt at clearing a cross enabled Eriksen to dash in and rocket his shot into the top corner for his hat-trick. To compound Ireland's woe, they conceded a late penalty which Bendtner gave Randolph no chance with by hammering into the top left corner.

Indian Women win Asia Cup Hockey after 13 years
New Delhi:MMNN 6 November 2017
japan Indian Women’s Hockey Team created history as they beat China in a tense shootout to lift the Women’s Asia Cup 2017 after 13 years and qualify for next year’s Women’s World Cup as Continental Champions here at Kakamigahara Kawasaki Stadium in Japan. It was India skipper Rani who scored the winning goal for India while Savita made a great save in sudden death to ensure India the 5-4 score in penalty shootout. Earlier, it was Navjot Kaur who scored India’s lone goal in the 25th minute. It was in 2004 when Indian Women’s Team lifted the Asia Cup after beating Japan 1-0 in the final. It was advantage China right at the start as a stick check in the circle saw India concede a penalty corner in only the second minute of the game. However, Indian goalkeeper Savita was at her usual best to pad it away while an alert Deep Grace cleared the ball. Soon after, Indian forwards launched a swift attack with Navneet Kaur and Vandana working in tandem to find space in the Chinese D but an attentive Wang Na averted the danger. China, meanwhile, won their second PC but Savita was spot on yet again to pad away Meiyu Liang’s flick. It was not until the 25th minute when India found its first breakthrough when Navneet Kaur and Rani played give-and-take before penetrating the circle only to assist Navjot who took a clear shot on goal. It was a much-needed 1-0 lead for India. Though China launched a counter attack soon after, Indian defenders were up to the task in denying success. Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz showcased good dribbling skills to steer past Chinese defenders but a second goal was not to come by even as the clock ticked away to the third hooter. On China’s part, they stayed disciplined in their defence to deny India a chance to score through a PC in the third quarter. The final quarter was tense as China won a PC through successful video referral in the 47th minute. Tiantian Luo kept low as she improvised from the injection to find the right corner of the post, scoring a sensational equalizer for China. The following minutes saw both teams play on par with each other not allowing either of them to stay in control. With nine minutes left for the final hooter, India upped their attack desperately attempting to find a gap in the 15-yard mark but Chinese defenders were resolute not allowing any room for error. Meanwhile China won their fourth PC of the match with little less than three minutes to go for the final whistle. But it was brilliantly saved by rusher Sunita Lakra and almost immediately, India launched a counter attack but only to send the ball wide off the target and complete the full-time in stalemate resulting in a shootout. In the penalty shootout Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each to ensure India reclaimed the Asia Cup title after 13 years. Savita was adjudged Goalkeeper of the Tournament. It is a sweet double for both Indian Men and Women as they are crowned Asia Cup Champions this year. It was not until the 25th minute when India found its first breakthrough when Navneet Kaur and Rani played give-and-take before penetrating the circle only to assist Navjot who took a clear shot on goal. It was a much-needed 1-0 lead for India. Though China launched a counter attack soon after, Indian defenders were up to the task in denying success. Neha Goyal and Lilima Minz showcased good dribbling skills to steer past Chinese defenders but a second goal was not to come by even as the clock ticked away to the third hooter. On China’s part, they stayed disciplined in their defence to deny India a chance to score through a PC in the third quarter. The final quarter was tense as China won a PC through successful video referral in the 47th minute. Tiantian Luo kept low as she improvised from the injection to find the right corner of the post, scoring a sensational equalizer for China. The following minutes saw both teams play on par with each other not allowing either of them to stay in control. With nine minutes left for the final hooter, India upped their attack desperately attempting to find a gap in the 15-yard mark but Chinese defenders were resolute not allowing any room for error. Meanwhile China won their fourth PC of the match with little less than three minutes to go for the final whistle. But it was brilliantly saved by rusher Sunita Lakra and almost immediately, India launched a counter attack but only to send the ball wide off the target and complete the full-time in stalemate resulting in a shootout. In the penalty shootout Rani scored twice while Monica, Lilima Minz and Navjot scored a goal each to ensure India reclaimed the Asia Cup title after 13 years. Savita was adjudged Goalkeeper of the Tournament. It is a sweet double for both Indian Men and Women as they are crowned Asia Cup Champions this year.

PV Sindhu Slams IndiGo Staff After 'Bad Experience', Airline Counters Claim
New Delhi:MMNN 4 November 2017
Indian badminton star PV Sindhu took to Twitter on Saturday to speak about a "bad experience" when she was flying by IndiGo 6E 608 flight to Mumbai. The 22-year-old, in a series of tweets, named and shamed the airline ground staff, saying that the IndiGo employee had behaved "badly and rudely" with her. When he was approached by an air hostess and told to behave properly, he was rude with her as well, Sindhu wrote in a direct message to IndiGo. Twitterati came in their numbers and while some slammed the airline staff, others pleaded with Sindhu to not name the employee. Meanwhile, IndiGo came out with the statement, tweeted by ANI, refuting Sindhu's claim. The airline said that the badminton ace was carrying oversized baggage and that "member of the IndiGo ground operations remained calm Sindhu first posted, saying she had a bad experience and named the employee Before part two and three of her tweets could come, Twitter was flooded with pleas of users asking Sindhu not to name the airplane staff and to forgive him This is not the first instance that a sportsperson has taken to Twitter to speak about their bad experience on a flight. Sachin Tendulkar, who was travelling with his family, blasted British Airways on Twitter after the cricket legend faced flight and baggage issues. In a series of angry tweets posted in April this year, cricketer Harbhajan Singh brought attention to an alleged incident of racism and assault by a pilot from Jet Airways.

Josh Hazlewood Urges Nathan Coluter-Nile To 'Crack Open' England Batsmen
New Delhi: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.

Rafael Nadal Prepares To Seal World Number One Status
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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.

Cristiano Ronaldo Eyes More FIFA Success as Real Madrid Dominate Awards, Gets Trolled
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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

India vs Australia, 2nd T20I: Virat Kohli, Out For Zero, Sets A World Record
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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

FIFA U-17 World Cup: Sachin Tendulkar's Inspiring Message For Indian Team
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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.

Former Australian Bowler Defends Virat Kohli In Squabble With Matthew Wade
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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

On Virat Kohli's 30 Centuries, A Question From Steve Smith
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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.

India vs Australia: Mohammed Shami Working On New Plans For Steve Smith, David Warner
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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."

US Open: Rafael Nadal Downs Juan Martin Del Potro To Enter 23rd Grand Slam Final
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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."

MS Dhoni Enthralls Fans By Taking Jasprit Bumrah's Man Of The Series 'Award' For A Spin
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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.

Will Play Against Pakistan Even On One Leg,' Injured MS Dhoni Told Selector MSK Prasad
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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

MS Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh Face Flak On Twitter In Controversy Surrounding Real Estate Firm
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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, 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
New Delhi: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.

Kevin Pietersen says England axing saved marriage, called captaincy ‘worst year’
New Delhi: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 “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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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.

Live - India vs Sri Lanka, live cricket score, 1st Test, Day 1, Galle: Pujara eyes 100 after Shikhar Dhawan’s 190
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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 Leaguet
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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."

FIH?Hockey World League Semis: Preeti Dubey goal takes India to quarterfinals
New Delhi:MMNN 13 July 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
New Delhi:MMNN 11 July 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
New Delhi: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."

Ravi Shastri formally applies for post of Indian cricket team head coach
New Delhi: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
New Delhi:MMNN:3 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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi: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
New Delhi:MMNN:8 Jun 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.

ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Sri Lanka Cricket throw weight behind national side
New Delhi: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.

India U-17 World Cup team loses against Portugal's Vitoria de Setubal
MMNN:18 April 2017
India U-17 World Cup team lost 1 -2 to Portugal's Vitoria de Setubal U-17 in their first practice match of the exposure trip at the Jose Mourinho Training Center in Troia, Lisbon on Tuesday.
In a closely-fought match, the Indian colts matched their opponents, but the chances created were seldom converted into goals.
Though the Indian team dominated possession in the opening minutes of the match, Setubal U-17 created the first goal scoring chance of the match in the 16th minute when they rattled the Indian crossbar.
However, they could take the lead only in the 38th minute after Bruno Ventura scored from a penalty kick that was awarded for a reckless Indian tackle inside the box.
The half-time scoreline read 1-0 in favour of Setubal U- 17.
After the break, the Indian colts upped the ante and pressed for the equaliser.
But Aniket Jadhav's shot in the 47th minute went inches over the bar and a minute later his shot again flew whiskers wide of the goal.
The Indians finally managed to equalise in the 67th minute with Aniket successfully scoring from the penalty spot this time around.
India tried to take the lead but could not find the net, even as Setubal U-17 struck in the 85th minute to seal off the match in their favour.
India U-17 will next face Belenenses on April 25 in Jamor, Portugal.

IPL 2017: Virat Kohli Drops Hints That He May Play Vs Mumbai Indians On April 14
New Delhi:MMNN:11 April 2017
Virat Kohli does not take being sidelined too well, especially when his side is not performing as per his desires. The Royal Challenger Bangalore captain, who has been out of IPL 10 so far due to the shoulder injury he picked up during the Test series against Australia, is champing on the bits to get back and lead his side out of the predicament they find themselves in now. He dropped heavy hints in an Instagram post that he may return to action against Mumbai Indians on April 14.
Kohli posted a video of his gym session on his Instagram account where he is seen lifting weights.
"Can't wait to get back onto the field. Almost there now. 14th April," he says in his post.
RCB are not doing too well in the absence of the charismatic captain. They have gone down to losses to both Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab and have beaten Delhi Daredevils.
RCB were without AB de Villiers too in the first two matches, as he also down with a back strain. He returned against KXIP on Monday but the rest of the batting collapsed, leading to a loss.
Stand-in captain Shane Watson has not been to successful so far.
Kohli had earlier said that he would not return to action till he was 120 per cent fit.
His injury and not playing the last Test versus Australia at Dharamsala had led to Gujarat Lions' Australian coach Brad Hodge to suggest that he was saving himself for the IPL, a comment he later apologized for.

AB de Villiers is 'scariest player on the planet', remarks Allan Donald
MMNN:11 April 2017
Former South African pacer Allan Donald has dubbed AB de Villiers as the 'most scariest player on the planet' after the latter's splendid batting display during Royal Challengers Bangalore's (RCB) eight-wicket defeat against Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash on Monday.
De Villiers, who recently recovered from a back injury, came in as a replacement for Chris Gayle in his first match of IPL 2017 played at Indore's Holkar Stadium.
Although Royal Challengers Bangalore slumped to an eight wicket defeat, de Villiers smashed three boundaries and nine sixes in his 89-run knock off 46 balls to take RCB to 148 in their stipulated 20 overs.
However, the 33-year-old's knock went in vain as the Kings XI Punjab chased down the score with more than five overs to spare, thanks to Hashim Amla's 58*.
RCB will next lock horns with Mumbai Indians at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on April 14.

IPL 2017: Team Profile, Royal Challengers Bangalore
New Delhi:MMNN:4 April 2017
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have one of the most devastating teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Season 10, with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav and the captain himself -- Virat Kohli. The list would have also included the new sensation in Indian cricket -- KL Rahul -- had he not been sidelined due to the persisting shoulder injury which recurred during the Border-Gavaskar series. RCB's injury worries seems to have no end, as Virat Kohli will be out of action for at least two weeks, and even his replacement as captain, South African AB de Villiers, is now out with a back injury picked up during his domestic season.
Young Sarfaraz Khan, who was brought in as a possible replacement for Kohli, too injured his leg in practice and is likely to miss the tournament altogether.
This leaves Shane Watson, now named captain, with a list of problems that could be telling.
The team has specialist bowlers for Twenty20 cricket who, on their day, are capable to take the game away from the opposition single-handedly. Samuel Badree, Yuzvendra Chahal and Sreenath Aravind are certain to feature in the playing XI. The franchise spent big on getting Tymal Mills, the left-arm fast bowler from England.
In 2016, RCB fancied their chances of winning the tournament but suffered the heartbreak of losing their third final, to Sunrisers Hyderabad. RCB began the tournament very poorly, winning just two of their first seven matches, before making a stunning comeback. They won seven out of their next eight games and qualified for the final.
Complete squad: Virat Kohli, Shane Watson (capt), Sreenath Aravind, Avesh Khan, Samuel Badree, Stuart Binny, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aniket Choudhary, AB de Villiers, Praveen Dubey, , Chris Gayle, Travis Head, Iqbal Abdulla, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Tymal Mills, Adam Milne, Pawan Negi, Harshal Patel, Sachin Baby, Tabraiz Shamsi, Billy Stanlake.

'The Undertaker' calls it a day at WrestleMania
MMNN:4 April 2017
World Wrestling Entertainment legend 'The Undertaker' appears to have retired after losing to Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania 33 here, ending a 27-year long career.
'The Undertaker', whose real name is Mark William Calaway, dropped his trademark hat, gloves and leather coat after his loss in a no-holds-barred match, setting the social media abuzz with a barrage of retirement wishes. His dramatic departure from the ring was trending on Twitter with #ThankYouTaker.
His legions of fans, current and former WWE stars were quick to pay tribute to the multiple-time world heavyweight champion and Royal Rumble winner.
"If there's a dry eye at #Wrestlemania ur a bigger man then me. #ThankYouTaker," tweeted WWE star 'The Miz'. Some of the other big names who paid their respect were Mick Folley and Rick Flair.
His was the last fight of the eventful night with a record 75,000-plus crowd at the Camping World Stadium, seeing his momentous walk back to the WWE ramp for one final time.
Fireworks and musical performances added to the spectacular show as Orlando successfully hosted WrestleMania for the second time ever, the first being in 2008.
The night will also be remembered for John Cena finally bending one knee and proposing to Nikki Bella. The proposal followed their victory against over 'The Miz' and Maryse in a mixed tag team match and the crowd went wild when Bella said "yes".
"I want to thank my always expressive 'family' the @WWEUniverse for allowing me to have a #WrestleMania moment that I will NEVER forget!" wrote Cena to his 9.4 million followers on Twitter.
All 13 matches at WrestleMania 33 had the fans on the edge of their seats. The battle for both WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship saw challengers getting the better of the defending champions.
Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship while Brock Lesnar beat Goldberg for the Universal Championship.
The longest of the night was the unsanctioned match between Triple H and Seth Rollins, who triumphed over 'The Game' in battle lasting little over 25 minutes.
Mojo Rawly won the 33-man battle royal for Andre The Giant Memorial Trophy by eliminating Canada's Jinder Mahal in the end.

India Vs Australia: Virat Kohli Describes Win As Best Of His Captaincy Career
New Delhi:MMNN:7 March 2017
Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday termed the second Test win over Australia as the best of his captaincy career, comparing his side to a snake that can sting from any direction.
"Yes, this is the best one. I don't want to say too much as the game panned out as it did. It was quite an emotional game for us," Kohli said after the 75-run win on Day 4 in Bengaluru.
"Everyone got along well. Talking about the head of the snake, the head did pretty well. It is not just about one individual here. This snake can sting from any direction. Some people need to keep that in mind," he added, taking a veiled dig at Nathan Lyon's comment about Kohli being the prized wicket.
Kohli heaped praise on the team's bowlers for ensuring that Australia's first innings lead was not too big. "Yes, our bowlers gave only 47 runs in the first session on day two. They (Australia) could have taken the game away from us because they were 40 without loss. Probably, the momentum changed at that stage. Then we picked up six wickets conceding less than 100 runs I think we picked up from here," he said.
Kohli said Ravindra Jadeja, who took seven wickets in the match, was "outstanding".
"Umesh and Ishant supported very well. These are the things you need as a team to change when the tide is going against you. But one thing is we never stop trying. We did not give in and we did not let the opposition roll over us and get a big first innings total," he said.
"To chase even 120 in the fourth innings will be difficult here. 150 can be a good total to defend. We surprised ourselves by winning 75 runs eventually at the close of the match," he added.
Kohli said the victory has also made it clear that India does not rely merely on him to do the scoring.
"Our opponents used to think that once I get out, the team will be under pressure. I told the team that everyone has to perform," he said.
"If my performance is good and the team wins I am always happy. So, our plan was that the focus should be on the team's performance and let opponents focus on me. This is what exactly happened in this Test match."

Kevin Pietersen joins Surrey for T20 Blast
MMNN:7 March 2017
Cape Town - Kevin Pietersen has signed for English county Surrey to play in the 2017 T20 Blast.
Surrey announced the news on their official website on Tuesday.
His first game of the season will be Surrey’s big game against the Essex Eagles at The Oval on Wednesday, July 19 and he will then stay with the squad for the entire competition.
Pietersen, 36, is one of the most iconic players of his generation. He broke out onto the world stage at The Oval in England’s historic Ashes victory in 2005 and first signed for Surrey in 2010.
Since then, he has played some of the most destructive and memorable innings of recent years in a Surrey shirt.
His 355 not out against Leicestershire at the Oval in 2015 came just two runs short of breaking Bobby Abel’s hundred-year-old record for the highest ever individual score for Surrey whilst his 234 not out against Lancashire at the 2012 Guildford Festival will live long in the mind of the packed crowd at Woodbridge Road.
Pietersen has most recently been in action in the Australian Big Bash League and Pakistan Super League, putting in match winning performances for both the Melbourne Stars and the Quetta Gladiators.
He will available for Surrey’s big Friday night fixtures against Middlesex (July 21) and Glamorgan (August 4) as well as the club’s first ever domestic T20 double header when Surrey take on Sussex on Sunday, August 13 and the final home game of the campaign against Gloucestershire on Thursday, August 17.
If Surrey are successful in reaching the knock out stages of the T20 Blast, Pietersen will also be available for selection in these games.
Speaking on Tuesday, Pietersen said: "I’m absolutely over the moon to be joining Surrey again. I’ve missed playing here at home and it’s going to be a special feeling walking out at The Oval again.
“We’ve got some seriously talented guys in our team and I’m very confident we can achieve something really special this season.
“I’ve had some great times at this club and ground over the years; it’s a special place with top people, and I’m looking forward to once again being part of it.”
Surrey CCC Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart, said: “Re-signing KP is a massive boost to the club and the NatWest T20 Blast competition.
“To have a player of his undoubted calibre available to us will add strength and experience to our squad and I’m sure all our fans will enjoy seeing him back playing in England again.
“His work ethic and appetite for success are infectious and our squad have always enjoyed having him around the dressing room and performing out in the middle.”

Pooja Ghatkar Captures 10m Air Rifle Bronze In ISSF World Cup
New Delhi:MMNN:24 Feb. 2017
Indian shooter Pooja Ghatkar claimed a bronze in the 10-metre Air Rifle event of the ISSF Shooting World Cup in New Delhi. Pune girl Pooja aggregated 228.8 points, to be third behind the Chinese duo of after China's Mengyao Shi, who won the gold medal with 252.1 points and Dong Lijie, who finished second with 248.9. This is the best performance by the 28-year old at this level. She has not finished better than 4th in any World Cup before this.
China's Mengyao Shi won the gold medal with a score of 252.1, setting a new world record in the event. Mengyao's compatriot Dong Lijie bagged the silver with a score of 248.9 on day one of the competitions.
Ghatkar, who had missed out on a Rio Olympic Games quota place by a whisker last year, said she was looking ahead having buried that chapter.
Ghatkar, who started the final with a 10.4, was consistent with her scores barring a couple of blips and was placed second with 104.6 at the end of first competition stage.
Even as the Indian kept producing good high scores, Lijie proved to be a tough competitor, while Mengayo extended her lead at the top.
Mentored by Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang, Ghatkar managed a fine 10.8 and 10.7 in her 19th and 21st shots to assure herself of a medal.
In the course of her campaign, Ghatkar faced an obstacle as the blinder of her gun fell and she had to shoot her final few shots with an eye closed, a remarkable achievement.
Helping her overcome the obstacle were the tips from Narang on the eve of the event. In the qualification, Ghatkar finished in second position with 418.0 behind eventual champion Mengayo (418.6) and ahead of the Lijie (417.7).

R Ashwin breaks Kapil Dev's record for most Test wickets in home season
MMNN:24 Feb. 2017
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added yet another feather to his cap by becoming the highest wicket-taker in a home Test season.
Ashwin achieved the feat when he snared Mitchell Starc to bundle out Australia for 260 in their first innings on the second day of the ongoing first Test in Pune.
The lanky Tamil Nadu bowler, who now has 64 wickets from 10 Tests - the most in a home season, surpassed legendary allrounder and former India captain Kapil Dev, who had 63 wickets from 13 matches in the 1979-80 season.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan holds the No.3 and No.4 spots with 54 wickets in 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons, respectively.
With one more wicket, Ashwin will break Indian record of most wickets in a season (home + away Tests). He is currently at level with Kumble, who had also taken 64 wickets in 2004-05 season. The Test record is held by South Africa's Dale Steyn, who ended with 78 wickets in 12 matches in 2007-08 season. With a possible seven more innings to bowl in, Ashwin has a good chance to surpass Steyn's tally by the end of the season.
Ashwin, who is the reigning world no.1 Test bowler and allrounder, has been the cornerstone of India's Test success on home soil.
Ashwin recently became the fastest to 250 Test wickets, going past Dennis Lillee's recrod of 48 Tests by three matches. He is the sixth Indian bowler after Anil Kumble (619), Kapil Dev (434), Harbhajan Singh (417), Zaheer Khan (311), Bishan Singh Bedi (266) to reach to 250 Test wickets.
Ashwin already has 24 five-wicket hauls and seven man-of-the-series awards in his bag. He has also scored 1850 runs, including four hundreds.

Abhinav Bindra says goodbye in bad year for seniors, youngsters shine
New Delhi:MMNN:20 Dec. 2016
Perfectionist Abhinav Bindra walked into the sunset after a glorious career but, in an unfortunate coincidence, dark clouds hovered over a house in disorder after the Indian shooting team returned with only luggage to boast for following a barren Olympic campaign.
Bindra was not far away from a fairytale ending.
India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist till date, he quit the sport he loved dearly and practised with single-minded devotion over the last two decades, after winning plenty of laurels across the world.
Bindra officially announced his retirement from shooting in September, saying, “It is time to move on and hand over the baton to the younger generation”. With the profile of the sport taking a beating of sorts post Rio, youngsters would do well take a leaf out of Bindra’s book of training.
The World Championship gold-medallist missed out on a second Olympic podium finish by a whisker in his last Games after losing in a tense shoot-off, but still he was by far the best Indian shooter on view in Rio.
It was appropriate that the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), governing body for the sport in the country, commemorated the glittering career of Bindra at a gala ceremony.
While the sport made noises outside, by the standards Indian shooters have set over the years, it was quiet inside the ranges. Performing regularly gave way to winning a rare medal or two intermittently.
The debacle in Rio was the first time since 2004 that India finished without a medal at an Olympic Games, prompting the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) to formulate a review committee headed by Bindra immediately after the multi-sport extravaganza to examine and identify in a cold and ruthless manner the reasons behind the failure.
Besides the shooters, the panel was equally scathing on coaches and the national federation in its damning 36-page report, and minced no words as it chastised the Rio flop show while recommending a systematic overhaul.
From Gagan Narang, Heena Sidhu to Ayonika Paul, none of the shooters were spared for the disastrous outing, with the panel talking to each shooter individually. Among the juniors though, talented shooters have emerged with quite a few shining on the world stage regularly, indicating a bright future.
The rise of junior shooters augers well for the sport, but the seniors have left a lot to be desired with their dismal showing, especially in the mother of all sporting events, where India has brought home four medals since the Athens Games, including a historic gold by Bindra at the 2008 Beijing edition.
Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang continued the trend at London 2012, winning a silver and a bronze each, and the shooters kept the good work going by returning with a decent haul from the Incheon Asian Games and Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Jitu Rai, who emerged as the brightest medal prospect in that period by regularly winning on the world stage, would prove to be the biggest disappointment as he failed to finish on the podium in both his pistol events at Rio.
The likes of Heena, Manavjeet Singh Sandhu, Narang, Apurvi Chandela and Jitu, among others, left the country thoroughly disappointed after they were unable to put on an impressive show.
The committee concluded that the consistent trickle of shooting medals since the 2004 Athens Games ended up making everyone involved in the sport complacent.
“Everyone took it for granted that there would be progress automatically, and forgot to ensure a systematic healthy process,” the report had stated.
“The committee was unanimous in its view that Indian shooting needs to change, change its attitude, its policies and practices, so that the booming talent gets a fair chance to flourish in a healthy atmosphere, and win all the medals that it can in the World Championships and the Olympics.”
It is an irony that the shooters let India down despite being provided all help while preparing for the mega sporting event.
Jitu revived his season by winning the Champion of Champions pistol award in the World Cup Final towards the end.
Meanwhile, India’s rich haul of 15 medals in the Asian Shooting Championship for rifle and pistol in Tehran saw a lot of positives. It saw some new stars emerge with Shahzar Rizvi and Ruchita Vinerkar being the most notable faces.
There were a few others such as Shubhankar Pramanik, Anmol Jain, Swapnil Kusale, Manavaditya Rathore, son of the India’s first Olympic medallist in shooting, and Anant Jeet Singh Naruka who did very well, continuing the work in progress.
In the junior category, there was lot to cheer about as India finished second overall with a total of nine gold, five silver and 10 bronze medals at the year’s second and final Junior World Cup in September in Azerbaijan.
They finished second in the tournament, an improvement of two places after being placed fourth in the year’s first World Cup.
Meanwhile, the ISSF (International Shooting Sport federation) has rung in some changes to international events that will rob a number of existing male shooters of their favoured events.
Bindra is heading the panel that has recommended the changes. Prepared to face brickbats, Bindra tried to reason with those who criticised the idea.
The ISSF announced that the double trap event will be replaced by trap mixed gender team event, while 10m air rifle mixed gender team event will replace the 50m rifle prone event.
The 50m pistol men event will be taken over by 10m air pistol mixed gender team event. All this is being done in an effort to correct the gender imbalance in medal events at the Olympics.

Australia vs Pakistan: Hilton Cartwright, Zimbabwe-born all-rounder, joins hosts' squad
Brisbane: MMNN:20 Dec. 2016
Australia called up uncapped, Zimbabwe-born all-rounder Hilton Cartwright on Tuesday as cover for their fast bowlers after the gruelling first Test win over Pakistan.
Cartwright, 24, joins the squad for next week's second Test in Melbourne as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird recover from their exertions in the Brisbane heat.
"We wanted to give ourselves the option of including an all-rounder in Melbourne to ease that workload somewhat," said interim national selector Trevor Hohns.
"To do that we wanted a batting all-rounder, someone to bowl seam-up and capable of batting in the top six as well, and after considering several names we came to the conclusion that Hilton fits that bill."
Cartwright, part of Australia's one-day squad for last month's three ODIs against New Zealand, gets the nod ahead of the more established Mitchell Marsh and Moises Henriques.
Steve Smith's team were taken to the wire by Pakistan before squeezing out a tense 39-run victory on Monday, with the bowlers getting through an exhausting 145 overs between them.
Coach Darren Lehmann said the recovery of Starc, Hazlewood and Bird, who bowled 56, 56 and 45 overs respectively in Pakistan's second innings, was being monitored closely.
Lehmann also threw his backing behind struggling lower-order batsman Nic Maddinson and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
Maddinson scored one and four at the Gabba, following his 12-ball duck on debut in last month's third Test against South Africa in Adelaide, another day-night match.
"We've had two pink-ball Test matches, so red-ball Test coming up and we know Nic's a fine player. He's just got to believe at this level," Lehmann said.
Wade, who displaced Peter Nevill, has scores of four, seven and one not out, along with a mis-stumping and dropped catches.
"Even though he hasn't got any runs at the moment, he's been working pretty hard with that," Lehmann said of the wicketkeeper.
"His keeping in this (Gabba) game -- he'd like to keep better obviously, but I thought he's improved his keeping out of sight in the last 12-18 months.
"Matthew's got the chance to nail down the spot and we'll see how he goes in Melbourne."
Lehmann said the revamped Australia team, chasing their third Test win after mass changes following their run of five straight Test defeats against Sri Lanka and South Africa, was coming together well.
"They're young, they're learning the game," he said. "I think one of the things we learnt from this game (at the Gabba), especially, is that you can't relax or think you're just going to get the wickets.
"It's a good result for a young group, but we've got to play well in Melbourne to try to clinch this series."
Selectors had named an unchanged 12-man squad for Melbourne before Cartwright's call-up.

Junior Hockey World Cup 2016: India Defeat Spain To Enter Semi-Finals
Bengaluru:MMNN:16 Dec. 2016
India came from a goal down to defeat Spain and enter the semi-finals of the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow on Thursday. The hosts will face Australia in the semi-final. India have won the Junior Hockey World Cup 2016 only once in 2001.
Spain took the lead in the 22nd minute as Marc Serrahima struck from the a penalty corner.
India responded in style in the 57th minute as Simranjeet Singh tapped home a rebound from close range.
Then, Harmanpreet Singh scored the winner for India in the 66th minute with a vicious Penalty Corner strike.
It was a far from impressive performance by the Indians, who are touted as title contenders as they fumbled in almost all departments of the game.
A packed Major Dhyan Chand Stadium stadium heaved a sigh of relief when Simranjeet Singh (57th) equalised for India after Marc Serrahima gave Spain the lead in the 22nd minute.
The Indians earned as many as nine penalty corners but could utilise just two with Harmanpreet converting the hosts' eighth set piece in the 66th minute to clinch a last four berth.
By virtue of this win, the Indian colts not only continued their domination over Spain but also managed to avenge their loss against the same opponents in the bronze medal match of the 2005 edition of the World Cup in Rotterdam.
Even though they enjoyed their share of ball possession, Indians looked completely off-colour in the opening half.
There was a distinct lack of co-ordination. There were sloppy mistakes while trapping and releasing the ball during the first half.
The Indian colts though created more openings but Spain utilised the lone opportunity thet got in the first half.
Spain came out with a tight defensive structure and relied on man marking to stop the attacking Indians.
India though had the two opportunities to take the lead when they secured two penalty corners early on in the opening half but wasted both as one first occasion skipper Harjeet Singh failed to stop the push and then Spanish goalkeeper Albert Perez came up with a fine save to deny Varun Kumar.
Spain then took the lead in the 22nd minute through Serrahima's penalty corner conversion much to the stunned silence of the partisan crowd.
Three minutes later Mandeep Singh's deflection from Santa Singh's cross found the back of the Spanish net but it was disallowed by the umpire because of raising ball to go into the breather trailing by a goal.
After the change of ends, the Indians went all out attacking in search of goals but fauiled to make any headway, courtesy miss-passing and miss-trapping.
Four minutes into second half, Spain almost extended their lead but custodian Vikas Dahiya came to his side's rescue to deny Serrahima.
The Indians continued to attack but goals eluded them as Spanish goalkeeper Perez came up with a double save to deny Armaa Qureshi first and then Manpreet (Jr) from the rebound.
It was story of missed chances as India wasted two more penalty corners soon.
Nilkanta Sharma then came close in the 53rd minute but his deflection from Harmanpreet's defence splitting pass went just wide of the goal.
India finally tasted success in the 57th minute from their fifth penalty corner. This time too, the hosts failed to stop the push but Sumit did enough to get a shot at the goal which was saved by the Spanish goalkeeper and from the rebound Simranjeet scored to the delight of the home fans.
In the last 10 minutes, India got four more penalty corners and the penultimate one was eventually converted by Harmanpreet to take the lead for the first time in the match.
It was a tense last couple of minutes for the hosts as they were reduced to 10 men after Armaan was shown yellow card for an unnecessary tackle.
Earlier in the day, Belgium defeated Argentina in a shoot-out to set up a semi-final clash against six-time champions and title holders Germany.
Belgium eked out a 4-1 win over Argentina in the shoot-out after both the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of regulation time in the first quarterfinal of the day.
Maico Casella (44th minute) scored for Argentina in the regulation time but Victor Wegnez drew level (69th) for Belgium just a minute from the final hooter to take the match into shoot-out.
In the shoot-out, Nicolas Poncelet, Arthur de Sloover, Victor Wegnez and Henri Raes converted their chances while Tomas Domene was the lone lucky player for Argentina. Germany had a relatively easy outing against England as they recorded a comfortable 4-2 win to seal their place in the last-four round.
The Germans raced to a two goal lead in the first half through Jan Schiffer (22nd) and Lukas Windfeder (31st) before Florian Scholten (52nd) and Tim Herzbruch (70th) found the net after change of ends for the defending champions.
England's goals came from the sticks of Edward Horler (65th, 66th minutes) in a span of two minutes.
Later in the day, Kiran Arunasalam drew the first blood for Australia with a fine field goal in the 18th minute before Jip Janssen (47th) equalised for Netherlands from a penalty corner.
Jack Welch then scored the winner for Australia in the 58th minute to take his side to the semi-finals.

Sun dents Sindhu's chances at BWF World Super Series Finals
HYDERABAD: MMNN:16 Dec. 2016
Sun Yu trounced PV Sindhu 2115, 21-17 to virtually assure herself of a spot in the semi-finals of the BWF Super Series Finals at the Hamdan Complex in Dubai on Thursday.
The tall Chinese youngster avenged her last month's China Open final loss to Sindhu with a dominant victory. Though Sindhu looked good in patches it was Sun who controlled the 49-minute contest.
Starting from the same side of the court where she lost the first game on Wednesday, Sindhu struggled to judge the flight of bird. At least, half-a-dozen times she erred on line calls and conceded easy points to Sun. But for a brief moment towards the end of the first game it was Sun who dominated the Indian in the first game.
Playing with effortless ease and forcing the Indian to play catchup, Sun powered ahead to 20-9. It was here Sindhu started getting her rhythm. The Indian displayed appreciable grit to save six game points. Sun clearly looked rattled, but a net chord saved her from further embarrassment.
Having dominated the late part of the first game, Sindhu started the second on a confident note. Both players used their height to good effect and treated the crowd with a volley of cross court jump smashes and some powerful drives from acute angles.
At the half-way stage Sindhu was cruising ahead and was leading 13-9. But Sun soon closed the gap as Sindhu showed unnecessary urgency to increase the lead. From 17-17, Sun reeled off four points to shut the Indian out of contest.

Pankaj Advani beats Peter Gilchrist in final to win his 11th World Billiards Championship
Bengaluru:MMNN:13 Dec. 2016
Ace Indian cueist Pankaj Advani Monday won his 11th World Billiards (150-Up format) Championships title by beating Peter Gilchrist of Singapore in the summit clash in Bengaluru.
Advani beat multiple world champion Gilchrist by six games to three in a gripping final contest to wrap up his 16th world title overall.
Coming into the finals with right frame of mind after defeating Myanmar's Aung Htay in the semifinals in the morning, Advani scripted a convincing victory over his Singapore-based British opponent.
The Indian champion beat Gilchrist 151 (98)-33, 150 (97)-95, 124-150, 101 (98)-150 (89), 150 (87)-50, 152-37, 86 (86)-150, 151 (110)-104, 150 (88)-15.
In contrast to his semifinal match, where he posted century break points in all the games, Advani was satisfied with going for short break points to put pressure on his rival.
Advani posted his only century break of 110 in the eighth game of the match, which almost dashed the hopes of Gilchrist to win the title as he trailed 3-5 against the Indian cueist.
Advani began on a strong note by pocketing the first two games, 150 points against 33 and 150 against 95.
However, Gilchrist bounced back in the next two games by winning 150 points against 124 and 150 against 101, after he engineered 112 and 89 break points in third and fourth games.
The 79-break point in the sixth game helped Advani to take a 4-2 lead over his opponent, but could not sustain it as he lost the seventh game after Gilchrist broke twice with 86 and 53 break points.
Eighth and ninth games belonged to Advani, especially the final one, as he shattered the hopes of Gilchrist by posting a thumping 150 against 15 points, and laid claim to his eleventh world billiards championship.
Earlier, Advani had beaten Htay 5-0 in the morning to storm into the finals while Gilchrist defeated India's Dhvaj Haria 5-1 in another semi-final.

Cristiano Ronaldo voted best in the world, wins fourth Ballon d’Or award
Madrid:MMNN:13 Dec. 2016
After giving a European Championship title to Portugal and another Champions League trophy to Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo ends 2016 with something just for himself his fourth world player of the year award.
Ronaldo on Monday won his third Ballon d’Or award, which this year is being handed out by France Football magazine separately from FIFA. Ronaldo also took home the Ballon d’Or prize in 2013 and 2014, and the FIFA award in 2008 while still playing for Manchester United.
The Portugal forward is also in contention for FIFA’s prize this year, along with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann, who finished second and third to Ronaldo on Monday, respectively.
“This was likely the best year of my career, individually and collectively,” Ronaldo said in a pre-recorded video. “It was unforgettable.”
Only Ronaldo and Messi have been voted the best in the world since 2007, when Kaka won the prize. Messi won a record fifth award last year.
“For me it’s a great honor to receive my fourth golden ball,” Ronaldo said. “I never thought in my mind to win (it) four times, so I’m so pleased, I’m so happy. I have to thank all my teammates, the national team, Real Madrid, all the people, all the players who helped me win this individual award.”
Messi was runner-up for the fifth time in his career, while Griezmann finished third after a remarkable year with France and Atletico Madrid. Luis Suarez was fourth and Barcelona teammate Neymar fifth in the results announced by the Paris-based magazine.
Ronaldo teammate Gareth Bale, who led Wales to the semifinals at Euro 2016, was sixth. Leicester had Riyad Mahrez finishing seventh and Jamie Vardy eighth. Madrid defender Pepe and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon tied for ninth.
The 31-year-old Ronaldo was picked from a list of 30 players by a group of international journalists selected by France Football, which for the previous six years awarded the coveted prize in partnership with FIFA. Football governing body, which relies on the votes of coaches, team captains, journalists and for the first time an online poll of fans, will be handing out its own award in January.
“I’m happy because I worked very hard to win this,” Ronaldo said. “It’s not easy to stay at a high level year after year. You can count on one hand the players who can do it, there are very few who can, and I do it year after year. That makes me very proud.”
Ronaldo is receiving the Ballon d’Or award a month after his contract with Madrid was extended until 2021, keeping him in Spain until he is 36 years old.
It has been an up-and-down season for him so far, but he couldn’t have finished the previous one more strongly.
Ronaldo converted the decisive penalty kick in a shootout against rival Atletico Madrid in the final of the Champions League, helping the Spanish powerhouse win the tournament for the second time in three seasons. Ronaldo also won the Champions League title with Manchester United in 2008.
Ronaldo scored a record 11 goals in the group stage of the European competition last season and finished with a total of 16, one short of the record he himself set in 2014. He is the tournament’s all-time leading scorer with 95 goals, and is two away from becoming the first player to score 100 goals in European club competitions.
It was with Portugal that Ronaldo achieved one of his greatest feats, helping the nation win its maiden European title after several close calls, including a runner-up finish at home in 2004 when it lost to Greece.
“To win a title for the first time with Portugal was something that was missing from my resume,” Ronaldo said. “It was one of the most important moments of my life.”
Ronaldo scored one of the goals for Portugal in the 2-0 win over Wales in the semifinals at Euro 2016, then watched from the bench as his teammates defeated France 1-0 in extra time. Ronaldo played only 25 minutes of the final at Stade de France in July before being substituted because of a left-knee injury.
Ronaldo also won the European Super Cup with Madrid, as well as UEFA’s award as the best player in Europe last season, a prize he also won in 2014.
Ronaldo is with Real Madrid in Japan to play in FIFA’s Club World Cup.

Junior Hockey World Cup: India Look To Carry On Winning Momentum Vs England
Lucknow:MMNN:9 Dec. 2016
Their campaign off to a rampaging start, India colts would look to carry forward the momentum when they face England in their second pool match of the men's Junior Hockey World Cup, here on Saturday.
Dubbed as one of the strong contenders for the title, the home team recorded a resounding 4-0 win over Canada in their opening at the Major Dhyan Chand Astroturf stadium on Thursday. Stakes are high for India in the tournament as they look to end their 15-year-old title drought as they last won the event in 2001 in Hobart and the colts would leave no stone unturned to reclaim the glory.
The Indians would also be eyeing an all-win record in the preliminary stages of the tournament which will enable them to top their pool and avoid six-time champions and title holders Germany in the quarterfinals.
But all said and done, the Harendra Singh-coached Indian side is on a dream run this year, having defended the Asia Cup and beaten Germany in a four-nation tournament in Valencia to lift the title.
A win will virtually seal their place in the quarterfinals and the Indians would be eager to raise the level of game a notch high against unpredictable Englishmen, who are be desperate to win their maiden title after having finished fourth twice in the past (1197, 2001).
In the tournament opener yesterday, the Indians outclassed Canada in all departments of the game, a fact which has been asserted by head coach Harendra.
"Look at the margin, possession of ball, circle penetrations, shots on goal, penalty corners, we were by far the superior side. We also did not concede a single penalty corner which that shows we were superior structure wise," he had said after Canada match.
But the Indians will have to keep in mind that with every match every team will grow stronger and from here on improvement will be the key factor. "There is always need for improvement and we need to keep on improving as the tournament progresses," Harendra conceded. Harmanpreet Singh was impressive yesterday with his defence splitting balls from the backline. Parvinder Singh and Mandeep Singh too had a good match as they threatened the opposition goal on numerous occasion.
Dragflicker duo of Harmanpreet and Varun Kumar is a real threat for any side and they have made their intentions clear by registering names in the scoresheet.
While Harmanpreet scored from a penalty stroke, Varun was bang on target from one of the six penalty corners.
But it will not be that easy against England as they are known for playing hard and physical hockey. They started their campaign on a positive note, beating South Africa 4-2. England coach Jon Bleby has already warned India.
"We are keenly looking forward to the match against India. We know that India are a tough side. They are in fine form and playing at home. So it is going to be a tough game but we are prepared and will try to go for a win," Bleby said.
Both the teams will also be keenly observing the weather conditions as heavy fog forced the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to rejig the timings of the final match of every day.
India and England will play at 6pm in the evening, the final match of the day, after extreme cold conditions and dense fog compelled the organisers to reschedule the timings. Meanwhile in other matches of the day, Korea will face Austria (Pool A), South Africa will take on Canada (Pool D) and Argentina will square off against Australia (Pool A).

Mumbai Test: Ravichandran Ashwin equals Kapil Dev's record of 23 five-wicket hauls
New Delhi :MMNN:9 Dec. 2016
Spin wizard Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday equaled Kapil Dev's record of 23 five-wicket hauls in Test cricket.
Ashwin, 30, didn't wait too long as he got the wicket of Ben Stokes in the third over of the second day's play of the fourth Test between India-England, being played at Wankhede Stadium.
The offspinner from Chennai has been in sublime form these last couple of years. Kapil took 131 matches to reach the figures, while Ashwin just took 43.
Ashwin, however, is still behind Anil Kumble (35 in 132 matches) and Harbhajan Singh (25/103).
The record for most five-wicket hauls in Test cricket belongs to Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan (67/133), followed by his great rival Aussie Shane Warne (37/145). New Zealand great Richard Hadlee (36/86) just beat the current India coach to the third spot by a single count.
Another Aussie great Glenn McGrath makes up the top five with (29).
Ashwin, at this rate, is likely to overtake most of them.

David Warner joins elite club with century against New Zealand
MMNN:6 Dec. 2016
David Warner’s knock of 119 from 115 balls put Australia well on the course for a big total in the second ODI match at Canberra on Tuesday. (SCORECARD)
A superb catch by Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson at cover was needed to dismiss the Aussie opener; a fitting dismissal for an excellent innings. Warner left the crease having helped his country post 213 on the scoreboard in 36.1 overs.
Warner’s 119 was not just phenomenal in helping Australia post a massive score against NZ, but it also cemented his name in the nation’s all-time scoring charts.
For starters, it was his 10th career century in one-day internationals which took him level with Matthew Hayden at fourth place in Australia’s all-time ODI century makers list.
Warner managed his record in 85 innings while Hayden played 154 innings over his career. He now sits behind Ricky Ponting (29 centuries), Mark Waugh (18 centuries) and Adam Gilchrist (16 centuries) in the Aussie chart of highest career ODI centuries.
The ton against New Zealand was also a reflection of his excellent form in 2016. He has now scored three centuries in his last five innings, including his 173 off 136 balls against South Africa in October.
It was also his sixth century in 2016, more than he had ever scored in a single calendar year since making his ODI debut in January 2009.
He has now broken the Australian record for most ODI centuries in a calendar year which was previously shared by Ponting and Hayden. The Aussie greats had scored five centuries each in 2007 while Ponting had done so previously in 2003 as well.
Warner also increased his stake in the game’s all-time record charts, rising to joint-third place for most calendar tons. He sits behind first-placed Sachin Tendulkar (nine centuries from 34 matches in 1998) and second-placed Sourav Ganguly (seven centuries from 32 matches in 2000). Astonishingly, Warner reached his six in just his 22nd match of the year.
While he did set the Australian record, he came very close to challenging Tendulkar for the overall record too. Twice this year, Warner was dismissed while batting in his 90s — he scored 93 against India in January and 98 against New Zealand in February.

India vs England: Parthiv Patel set to play 4th Test, injured Wriddhiman Saha rested
New Delhi :MMNN:6 Dec. 2016
With India wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha still recovering from a strain in his left thigh, comeback-man Parthiv Patel is set to play the fourth Test against England starting in Mumbai on October 8.
Patel, who impressed with scores of 42 and 67 in the two innings at Mohali on his comeback into the side after eight years, got another chance to impress the team management.
“Parthiv Patel will continue to be part of the Indian Test team for the 4th Test of the five-match Paytm Test Series to be held in Mumbai from December 8, 2016,” BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said in a release.
Saha, who had suffered the niggle during the second Test at Visakhapatnam, has been rested for the upcoming Test. “The BCCI medical team has confirmed that wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is still recuperating from the strain in his left thigh, which he sustained during the second Test match at Vizag,” the release said.
“As a precautionary measure, Saha has been advised rest. The BCCI medical team is monitoring the wicketkeeper batsman’s progress.”
Meanwhile, Delhi seamer Ishant Sharma, who has been part of the squad for the first three Tests, has been released for his wedding.
India leads the five-Test series against England 2-0 after winning the second and third Test by 246 runs and eight wickets respectively.

Saina Nehwal Crashes Out Of Macau Open With Shock Defeat To Zhang Yiman
MMNN:2 Dec. 2016
Saina Nehwal was stunned in straight games, 21-12, 21-17, by China's Zhang Yiman in the quarterfinals of the Macau Open on Friday, as the Indian shuttler made a premature exit from the tournament.
Saina, who has struggled to get going since her return from a serious knee injury last month, looked a pale shadow of her usual self in the last-eight clash against Yiman.
A poor start by Saina saw Yiman race into an 18-11 lead, before the Chinese world no. 226 closed out the game at 21-12.
The second game was a tighter affair, but Yiman prevailed 21-17 to draw the curtains on Saina's campaign at this year's edition of the Macau Open.
Gruelling three-game matches
Saina, who improved a place on Thursday in the world rankings to be at number 10, seemed to have been affected by the gruelling three-game matches that she played in the last two rounds here.
The 19-year-old Zhang, who is ranked at World No. 226, took an early 4-2 lead and then held a slender 9-8 lead at one stage. The young Chinese soon reeled off five straight points to jump to a 14-8 lead and kept marching ahead as Saina lost the opening game.
Saina, who had bounced back after losing the opening game in the last two matches, seemed to have changed gears as she zoomed to a 6-0 healthy lead in the second game. But Zhang came back to level the score 7-7 and surpassed her fancied rival, reaching 11-9 at the break.
Saina erased the deficit after the interval with two points but the Chinese managed to grab a 14-12 advantage and then jumped to 19-12 lead. The Indian picked up four points to narrow the gap but Zhang soon surged to seal the game and the match in her favour.

India Women demolish Nepal to maintain unbeaten streak
MMNN:2 Dec. 2016
India maintained their unbeaten streak in the 2016 ACC Women's Asia Cup T20 with a comfortable 99-run win over Nepal in their final league encounter at the AIT Cricket Ground, on the outskirts of Bangkok, on Friday (December 3).
Assured of a place in the final already, the defending champions decided to rest four of their key players. Experienced campaigners Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, wicketkeeeper Sushma Verma and spinner Preeti Bose were given a break ahead of the title clash as India used the opportunity against the weaker opponents to test their bench strength. The move paid off as most all-rounders, who normally bat down the order, were given a chance to get spend some time in the middle with India deciding to go with a rejigged batting order.
Put in to bat first, after the morning drizzle delayed the toss by 15 minutes, India posted a competitive 120 for 5 on the board despite slowing down considerably in the middle overs. All-rounder Shikha Pandey starred with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 39 off 32 deliveries and was supported by cameos from Vanitha VR and Anuja Patil.
Vanitha, who got her first game in the competition, walked out to open with Meghana Sabbineni and hammered a 14-ball 21, including three boundaries, before becoming Rubina Chhetry's second victim, on the first ball of the fifth over, in the powerplay.
Patil, often promoted as a pinch-hitter in the briefest format, walked in at one-down ahead of in-form Veda Krishnamurthy and struck a crucial 32-run stand with wicketkeeper-bat Nuzhat Parween. The duo took India past the 50-run mark in the ninth over but the Nepal spinners managed to put the brakes on in the middle overs.
Mansi Joshi, otherwise another option in the opener's slot, couldn't make the most of the opportunity but Pandey got some useful runs under her belt. The Goa all-rounder played the aggressor in her 51-run unbeaten partnership with captain Harmanpreet Kaur who stayed unbeaten on 14. Even as a heavy outfield meant India were denied a bunch of boundaries, Pandey switched gears in the final six overs as India amassed 49 in the final six overs to post 120 on the board from their quota of overs.
That Nepal were going to collapse sooner than later against India's experienced bowling attack was never in doubt. They were starved for runs throughout as the pacers first left them reeling at 10 for 4 in eight overs before the in-form spinners came into the picture to bowl them out inside 17 overs.
Shikha got the breakthrough in the third over and soon after, Joshi put in a forward dive to catch wicketkeeper-bat Jyoti Pandey off her own bowling. That a part-time medium pacer Meghana too produced a couple of wickets speaks volumes about the struggles Nepal faced with the bat. The Andhra Pradesh opener, who made her Twenty20 International debut in the recently-concluded series against West Indies at home, joined the party with her twin strikes. Her match figures of 3-1-3-2 were the most economical of the three fast bowling options India used.
Patil and in-form Ekta Bisht hit the final final nail in the coffin, sharing three wickets between them without giving away any runs. Poonam Yadav (3-9) helped clean up the tail to bowl out the opposition for a new tournament low of 21 runs.
Brief scores: India 120/5 in 20 overs (Shikha Pandey 39*, Meghana Sabbineni 21; Rubina Chhetry 2-21) beat Nepal 21 in 16.3 overs (Poonam Yadav 3-9, Meghana Sabbineni 2-3, Anuja Patil 2-0) by 99 runs.

PV Sindhu Surpasses Saina Nehwal In Badminton Rankings, May Face Her At Hong Kong Open
MMNN:25 Nov. 2016
PV Sindhu has surpassed Saina Nehwal in the world badminton rankings. In the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) charts, released on Thursday, Sindhu is No. 9 in the world while Saina is No. 11.
Sindhu, first Indian badminton player to win a silver medal at Olympics, gained two places after her recent China Open win. Saina, on the other hand, lost five places to be placed outside top-10 for the first time in eight years.
Saina had lost in the first round of 2016 China Open to Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand and that led to loss of points, as she had entered the final in the 2015 edition of the event.

Sindhu in semi-finals

The two Indian badminton stars, however, could play each other in the semi-final of the Hong Kong Open on Saturday.
PV Sindhu defeated Singapore's Xiaoyu Liang 21-17, 21-23, 21-18 in the last eight clash. Later in the day, Saina faces Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi.
Earlier, Saina Nehwal overcame Japan's Sayaka Sato 21-18, 9-21, 21-16, while PV Sindhu trounced Chinese Taipei's Hsu Ya Ching 21-10 21-14, to make it to the quarter-finals.

Australia vs South Africa: Fearless Faf du Plessis leaves stamp on memorable Test series
MMNN:25 Nov. 2016
Not often do you hear an Australian Test side, in the middle of a home summer, admitting to being “annoyed” by the opposition’s tactics. Even rarer is the sight of a their press clutching at straws, without the season-defining performances that have come to characterise so many Novembers and Decembers over the years.
“Matt Finish” was plastered all over The Adelaide Advertiser’s sports section, as a nod to Matt Renshaw’s gritty 8* to take Australia to stumps without any damage. Renshaw is a promising young batsman, with a lot of steel for someone his age, but is this what it has come to? A 12-over stonewall making front page headlines, in the absence of much else to write home about?
In a week where mints, lollies and confectionery of all sorts have filled reams of newsprint and hours of TV coverage, with assorted stock footage of Faf du Plessis, this was the surest indicator the South African captain had done something for the local press to finally move on.
On unrelenting boos and a sheer lack of grace, the Adelaide crowd reflected the behavior of the host broadcaster and their press pack in the week leading up to the Test. Du Plessis admitted to being “motivated” more than ever before at the start of the first day, and the boos only added on to it. Walking in to this innings with a series highest of 37 so far, du Plessis gave up on being defensive and brought out his free-scoring game he is known for in the shorter formats.
Where was he, again? Adelaide, home to one of his Test career’s defining moments so far. It is the site of his 2012 debut, where he combined with JP Duminy to script one of those rare fifth day draws on Australian soil. Psychologically, that set up South Africa’s series win, their second consecutive one down under. Things have changed markedly in these four years. He is now South Africa’s captain, in the middle of ball-tampering allegations the Aussie media have only been too happy to lap up in the aftermath of two disastrous defeats.
Du Plessis and his team mates have repeatedly insisted on their “mission” to whitewash Australia for the first time in a three-match series, and if as a batsman he refused to be cowed down and did not put a foot wrong on Day 1, he took it a few notches up as a captain. After a counterattack that saw him get to his sixth Test hundred with wickets falling around him, du Plessis indulged in some of his own gamesmanship by forcing a quick declaration at 259 for 9, with 12 overs to bowl to Australia’s top-order under lights.
Overhearing umpires talking to David Warner about his ineligibility to open the batting, having stayed off the field for a while, and almost instantly declaring the innings, is about as Australian as it gets. Twelve overs under the lights despite not enough runs to feel safe? We’ll take it. We can’t put a foot wrong. A few overs of safe batting to stumps, then come back tomorrow? Nah, we’re instinctive and aggressive beyond your collective understanding.
Such is the swagger and confidence among this South African lot, under an inspirational leadership, that nothing seems to sway them. The next few days might turn out to be the beginning of an Australian renaissance, but Faf du Plessis has left an indelible mark on one of his country’s most memorable Test series.

Virat Kohli as captain across formats will ensure India owns this era: Will the selectors be bold?
MMNN:22 Nov. 2016
Virat Kohli likes to make a statement. In his batting, in his celebrations, in his press briefings, he likes to go out and assert himself. As captain of the Test team, he was no different.
The Indian team left for Australia in November 2014 without their regular captain MS Dhoni. It was trying times Down Under with the whole nation mourning the sad death of the promising young cricketer Phil Hughes. Kohli, as stand-in captain, had to be a statesman in the lead up to the series before making any cricketing decisions, something he did meticulously.
On the field, as the Test captain for the first time at his favourite venue Adelaide, Kohli picked Karn Sharma ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, a move that didn't pay off, with the Australians making merry against the rookie leg-spinner. Tactically, Kohli was a bit rusty. Adelaide can be a hard ground to defend and with a bowling attack that lacked any bite, Kohli struggled to keep control.
While the team was losing control of the game in the field, Kohli was taking his batting to another level. After scoring a hundred in the first innings, Kohli egged himself and his team in the second innings to chase down whatever target the Australians set. While many experts wanted India to play out a draw, Kohli made 141 runs at a strike rate of 81, getting out eventually while trying to hit a long hop from Nathan Lyon out of the ground. Kohli had lost, but like the legendary American singer Frank Sinatra, Kohli asserted, "I did it my way".
Fast forward to Vizag. Kohli has captained India in 19 Tests and has lost only one more match since that Adelaide heartbreak. While many have argued that his team hasn't been tested against tough oppositions away from home yet, Kohli has made the most of a friendly schedule by taking his team to the top of the Test ranking while continuing to do things his way.
Kohli has made changes to his team in almost every game, sometimes to our bemusement, but always while backing the plan in his head. He played five bowlers most of the time in a bid to go for more outright victories, something his predecessors weren't sure of doing even against weaker oppositions at home.
We expected series wins at home, but now we are confident of whitewashing any opposition at home. Kohli's own batting has also flourished during his captaincy. He averages close to 60 as captain, which is much higher than his career average of 48. Having lead India right from the U-19 level, captaincy sits easy on his head and gives him that extra push to do even better as a player. His four centuries as captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is testimony to his drive as a captain.
With his team on the top of the world in Tests and his batting form and consistency miles ahead of anyone else in the world, there can't be a better time to hand him the captaincy in limited overs format also. This isn't a reflection of MS Dhoni's ability as a captain, it's a move that is required to take this team forward. Teams thrive under leadership that is consistent, something Dhoni is losing as he sits out during the Test season.
Split captaincy has been tried by different teams at different times with varying success. Adam Hollioake took charge of an English ODI team that hadn't won a trophy in close to 10 years and led them to a win in Sharjah beating Asian giants India and Pakistan in 1997. Steve Waugh became captain of the ODI side much before taking charge of the Australian Test team. In both the cases, they had to choose a different captain in ODIs because the Test captains of the time didn't warrant a place in the respective ODI sides, just like Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq and England's Alastair Cook in the present day. Kohli, on the other hand, is the team's most valuable player in ODIs and T20s.
Dhoni is a great captain and an important member of the limited overs team but he would be the first one to admit that his trophy and his souvenir stumps cabinet doesn't stack up as frequently as it used to. India has a strong limited overs team and it will continue to win matches, even when leadership isn't ideal. This isn't a team in turmoil due to captaincy issues, but one that has the potential to be the best across all formats with better leadership.
Kohli has often paid tribute to Dhoni's captaincy and how he has learned from him. Having Dhoni's counsel on the field while captaining the team can turn Kohli into an even better captain. Captaining his side in the IPL has already taught him how to handle superstars. When Chris Gayle didn't play a game and Kohli was asked whether the big West Indian was rested, Kohli was blunt in his response, "No, he was dropped." You didn't expect a Delhi mohalla brat to be soft, did you?
Effective captaincy of a sports team begins in the dressing room. While many experts believe Michael Clarke was more superior as a tactician than his predecessor Ricky Ponting, the latter enjoyed immense respect from his team. Yes, he did have a great team but his authority in the dressing room was essential in his team achieving great results.
For the current generation of Indians, Kohli is the role model they look up to. They copy his methods, his work ethics, and his style. He is the natural leader for any youngster coming into the team. In his autobiography, the former Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist talks about the muddled dressing room situation he walked into when the captaincy was split between Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. A youngster coming into any team enjoys having a single point of authority to defer to. KL Rahul has often paid tribute to Kohli's mentorship both in the IPL and the national team for his rise as an international cricketer.
Of course, there is a chance that the limited overs team will miss Dhoni's leadership and fail to achieve anything under Kohli, but that's a risk this team has to take if it wants to be remembered as one that dominated this era. Sometimes you have to risk going too far to know how far you can go.

Ravichandran Ashwin shares cup of coffee with Navy officers post 2nd Test win
Vishakapatnam:MMNN:22 Nov. 2016
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin shared a cup of coffee with Indian Naval sailors and officers after his side clinched a massive 246-run victory over England in the second Test at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium on Monday. Interacting with the Men-in-white, the Indian ace spinner expressed his gratitude and appreciation to all the brave soldiers of the Armed Forces who are guarding the Nation.
Earlier, he had even shared a thoughtful video message on the social media as part of the Sandesh2Soldiers initiative. During the interaction, Ashwin presented an autographed cricket bat to Eastern Naval Command and Rear Admiral Dasgupta, who presented the ENC Crest to the 30-year-old spinner.
Rear Admiral B. Dasgupta, YSM, VSM, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet hosted Ashwin on board at INS Jalashwa, one of the frontline warships of the navy. India went 1-0 up in the five-match series with win over England in the second Test at Vishakhapatnam.
India had won the toss and elected to bat first. India scored 455 in their first innings, Virat Kohli top-scoring with 167. Cheteshwar Pujara scored 119, his third ton in as many matches, while Ashwin chipping in with 58 and Jayant playing a useful hand.
With 3 wickets apiece, Anderson and Moeen were the pick of the bowlers for England. England were bowled out for 255, which gave India a 200-run lead despite Kohli’s 81 and Jayant’s second crucial innings of the match. England did extremely well to ensure that India do not run away with the game.
Broad and Rashid picked up 4 wickets each to ensure that India were bundled out for just 204, with Kohli top-scoring once again with 81.
Kohli was named Man of the Match for his superlative effort. England will be without Broad at Mohali, which will probably give Chris Woakes another chance.

India vs England, 2016: KL Rahul added to India squad for second Test
MMNN:15 Nov. 2016
KL Rahul has come back into the India squad for the on-going five match Test series against England with the opening batsman included in the second Test to commence from November 17 in Visakhapatnam. Both teams have already reached the largest city in Andhra Pradesh after the first Test had ended in a nervous draw for India.
Rahul returns to the mix after missing the last six weeks, during which the national team played three Test matches, due to injury. He returned to the middle in the Ranji Trophy contest for Karnataka against Rajasthan and scored 76 from 85 balls in the first innings followed by an unbeaten 32 in the second innings.
His stay in the middle was watched by chairman of selectors MSK Prasad and selector Sarandeep Singh. With a perfect return to action, KL Rahul made the noise at the right mark. To aid his recovery process, Rahul had the BCCI physio look at his movement and rehabilitation process.
The inclusion leaves two options for the Indian selectors and Virat Kohli going into the Visakhapatnam Test. It could either mean axing of Gautam Gambhir who had a disappointing stay at the crease in Rajkot. But with the initial squad announced for two Test matches, dropping the axe on the Delhi player would be a harsh decision and somewhat hasty.
The other option would be to play six batsmen after the second innings collapse in the Rajkot Test which nearly brought about an England win until Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja calmed things down in the final session.

7 reasons why the last year was great for Sania Mirza
MMNN:15 Nov. 2016
As Sania Mirza celebrates her 30th birthday today, we look back at the last 12 months and just why they were great for this ferocious talent.
1. Sania was the numero uno player all through 2016, the first time in her career since taking the top spot in April 2015. Her entire run is now a staggering 84 consecutive weeks at the top. She is 4th on the list of most consecutive weeks spent at the top.
2. Sania managed to retain her year-end World number one ranking for the second year in a row. As they say, getting to number one is easier than retaining it. The Indian seems to be doing a great job at that.
3. Despite breaking up her most successful doubles partnership with Swiss Martina Hingis, and indeed one of the most dominant partnerships women's doubles has seen recently, Sania bounced back almost immediately with Barbora Strycova, winning 3 out of the 6 tournaments played (one win with Monica Niculescu) and was a finalist in another event. This has been incredibly satisfying for her knowing with the right partner she can keep her golden streak going.
4. Mirza won eight titles overall with three different partners in 2016, including her 3rd Women's doubles Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open with Hingis.
5. 2016 will also be remembered as the year which saw part of Sania-Martina unbeaten streak of 41 matches. The streak started in September 2016 at the US open, from where the duo went on to win 9 straight titles. There's was the 3rd longest such streak in women's doubles history.
6. Sania released her autobiography in July titled 'Ace Against Odds', co-written by her father Imran Mirza and sports journalist Shivani Gupta. This was her first attempt at not just sharing her struggle through the early years before the success and fame, but also setting a few controversies straight.
7. Sania was also listed in the Time 100, Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world.

Brazil’s Neymar takes honours, Lionel Messi returns for Argentina
MMNN:11 Nov. 2016
Just the prospect of Lionel Messi’s return gave Argentina so much confidence that one player openly said it would intimidate the Brazilians ahead of their South American World Cup qualifying match. Having the five-time player of the year back from injury didn’t translate into success, though, as Messi’s friend Neymar led Brazil to a convincing 3-0 victory at the Mineirao stadium on Thursday.
Neymar showed class in the lead up to Philippe Coutinho’s opening goal from the edge of the box. Then the Barcelona star scored his 50th goal for Brazil at the end of the first half with an elegant touch in front of the Argentine goalkeeper. Neymar also hit the post, lobbed midfielder Lucas Biglia, easily worked his way through the opposition defense and was fouled nine times as he pushed Brazil forward.
“Look at this guy. If Neymar had played here in that game against Germany in the 2014 World Cup, we wouldn’t have lost 7-1,” said Eric Angelo, a Brazilian fan who watched Thursday’s match and was also at his team’s humiliating defeat here two years ago. “We would have more confidence and maybe given the Germans a challenge.” Neymar was injured when Brazil experienced their worst defeat ever.
Messi began with a lot of style at Mineirao stadium and caused trouble for his marker, Fernandinho. In only five minutes the Manchester City midfielder was lobbied by Messi and picked a yellow card after a hard foul on the Argentine forward. But as Paulinho and Renato Augusto helped out with defending against the Argentine playmaker, the only opportunities Messi had were from free kicks near the penalty box.
Brazil coach Tite explained the strategy designed to make Messi feel so uncomfortable in his return after three games.
“We forced our way into the Argentina half more to the left so Messi wouldn’t be immediately near the ball, since he was on the right,” Tite said. “When he was forced to move it became better for us because that other side was already crowded.”
Assessing Brazil’s strengths, Tite said Neymar was great because he was playing box to box with the same quality.
“One of the biggest lies in football is that if you mark you will not have the energy to do well upfront,” Tite said. “That is not the case.”
Messi was disappointed with Argentina’s performance, and said vast improvement was needed to get the team into one of the four automatic qualifying positions for the World Cup.
“We can’t repeat what we have been doing because that won’t work,” he said. “We have to change a lot.”
Brazil and Argentina have been in contrasting form. Brazil has won its first five games under the coaching of Tite, while Edgardo Bauza’s Argentina team had draws against Venezuela and Peru and a 1-0 loss to Paraguay leading up to the loss on Thursday.
Brazil leads the South American qualifiers with 24 points from 11 matches and Argentina is sixth with 16. The top four teams qualify automatically for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. The fifth-place team advances to an intercontinental playoff. Next Tuesday Brazil visits eighth-place Peru and Argentina hosts third-place Colombia.
Back in September, Messi scored in a 1-0 victory over Uruguay in the only previous match under Bauza in this campaign.
Under former coaches Dunga and Argentina’s Gerardo Martino, Brazil and Argentina drew 1-1 in Buenos Aires in their first 2018 qualifier, with Messi also absent and Neymar having a less impressive performance.

Hit On The Helmet Thrice, Cheteshwar Pujara Stands Like A Wall Against England
MMNN:11 Nov. 2016
Being hit on the helmet is nasty. Ask any batsman who goes out there at the wicket and receives a fast bouncer and he'll admit that whenever you get hit on the head it jolts the batsman's concentration.
Today morning India's number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara got hit on the head, not once, not twice but three times. That too in space of 14 balls. Playing at home, his family, wife and father were watching from the stands at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium and were visibly worried.
Yet, he didn't allow his concentration to waver and kept England at bay. Pujara was Dravidesque in his rearguard action.
After Gautam Gambhir couldn't add much to his overnight score and departed for 29, Pujara walked out to bat for the first time at his home venue of Rajkot.
Having scored tons of runs in domestic cricket on this otherwise sleepy wicket, Pujara had never come across as incisive a paceman as Chris Woakes, someone who was regularly hitting the above 140 kmph mark and steaming in.
But facing fast bowling was never a problem for Pujara. The right-hander, who was the leading run-getter in the New Zealand series, had already hit five fours and raced to 24 off 29 balls when Woakes came into the attack with a sole mindset to break Pujara's tight technique.
In doing so, once each in the 33rd, 35th and 37th over, Pujara was hit on the head.
But now, he's well past that and continued to bat on. At lunch, Pujara was on 62, his partner Murali Vijay on 57 and India solid at 162 for the loss of one wicket with a trail of 375 runs.

Australia play down sledging problem after Phillip Hughes inquest
Perth:MMNN:4 Nov. 2016
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor and other senior figures today insisted verbal abuse is not a big problem after a coroner examining Phillip Hughes’s death called it cricket’s “ugly underside”. Hughes, who played 26 Tests, died from bleeding on the brain in November 2014 after being hit on the neck by a rising ball while batting in a domestic match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
During his inquest, concerns were raised by Hughes’ family about on-field sledging, or abuse, which they felt may have unsettled him.
On Friday, New South Wales coroner Michael Barnes said even if there had been attempts to intimidate players, Hughes did not appear to be affected and it “could not be implicated in his death”.
But Barnes called sledging an “unsavoury aspect” of cricket, adding: “An outsider is left to wonder why such a beautiful game would need such an ugly underside.”
The hearing heard claims that one bowler told him, “I am going to kill you”, although players on the field said they did not recall any such comment.
Taylor said he didn’t think sledging was a major problem in cricket, but he urged umpires to crack down if they thought players were going too far.
“I don’t think we have,” he said in Perth, where Australia are playing South Africa, when asked if cricket had a sledging problem.
“The game needs a competitive edge to it, but it doesn’t need a lot or rubbish talk either. If something positive does come out of this, it will be a reduction in the idle chat.
“Sledging is something that has always been talked about regularly, but the umpires should step in if they think it is over the top.”
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland agreed it was down to the umpires to stamp out backchat if it was becoming too much.
“If it has become a problem, then I would say the umpires are not doing their job,” he said, adding that he did not see it as a problem.
“I come back to the fundamentals — the game should still be played in the right spirit and for the sake of clarity, there’s codes of behaviour that are in place that deal with inappropriate behaviour.
“When that line is crossed, people should pay the price for crossing that line and I can only encourage the umpires and relevant officials to take action when it is appropriate.”
Former Australian Test opener Chris Rogers said he believed there was less sledging in the modern game, particularly in England where he feels umpires are less tolerant.
“Things are changing but I don’t see how it can be completely policed,” he said.

West Indies drop Samuels, include Dowrich for tri-series in Zimbabwe
MMNN:4 Nov. 2016
Shane Dowrich, the West Indies wicketkeeper-batsman, received a maiden call-up to the One-Day International (ODI) team for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, also including Sri Lanka, later this month, after his heroics with the bat in the just-concluded third and final Test where he helped his team to a rare away win in Sharjah.
Fast bowler Miguel Cummins has also been drafted into the 15-member squad while the experienced batsman Marlon Samuels and teenage fast bowler Alzarri Joseph were left out. Samuels's luck ran out after a mediocre outing against Pakistan in the Tests. The experienced batsman scored just one half-century, in the first Test, but his second best score on tour was just 30.
Dowrich, who had played eight Tests, wasn't at his best behind the stumps but chipped in with knocks of 47 and unbeaten 60 in the two innings after a top-order collapse on both occasions as West Indies earned a five-wicket consolation win in their last game on the UAE tour.
Senior players Denesh Ramdin and Kieron Pollard too were overlooked for the tri-series which also features Sri Lanka and kicks off on November 14 in Harare.
West Indies squad:
Jason Holder (Captain), Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johsnon Charles, Shanon Gabriel, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Sulieman Benn, Miguel Cummins, Shai Hope, Rovman Powell.

Sania-Hingis pair enters semis of WTA Finals
Indian ace Sania Mirza and Switzerland's Martina Hingis entered the semi-finals of the WTA Finals after beating Taiwanese combination of Hao-Ching Chan and Yung Jan Chan 7-6 (12-10) 7-5, on Friday.
The Indo-Swiss pair will be pitted against the winner of the match between top seeds Caroline Garcia-Kristina Mladenovic and Bethanie Mattek-Sands- Lucie Safarova.
It was a hard-fought two sets where both the teams held their service game till they reached 5 games all. It was in the 11th game of the first set that Sania and Hingis were broken. But the joy of their opponents was shortlived as they broke back in the very next game to take the first set into a tie-breaker.
The tie-breaker was a hard fought one as the Indo-Swiss pair saved three set points. They dropped a couple of set points before converting the third to clinch the set within an hour.
The second set was also fought on an even keel till the 10th game after which Sania-Hingis secured a crucial break and then held their serve to book a place in the last four.
This is the pair's first competition since they had split following an early exit at Montreal in July.

India v New Zealand, 5th ODI, Vizag: Under-fire Dhoni faces tricky Kiwis test in series-decider
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's leadership as well as finishing skills will be put through a stern test when an inconsistent India take on a rejuvenated New Zealand in the series-deciding fifth and final cricket ODI, here on Saturday.
With the series locked at 2-2, Dhoni and his men will be eager to clinch the issue while history beckons Kane Williamson's men as they have a glorious opportunity to taste their maiden success in a bilateral ODI rubber.
The only thing that can play spoilsport is the cyclone threat which can lead to complete washout.
While Dhoni's captaincy may not be under immediate threat but a series loss against New Zealand will certainly raise questions about 'Captain Cool's' ability to marshall his resources after his much publicised admission of being unable to rotate strike lower down the order.
Under Dhoni, India lost three ODI series - 1-2 against Bangladesh in Bangladesh, 1-4 against Australia Down Under and 2-3 at home against South Africa. The only ODI series victory in the last 18 months has been against a lowly Zimbabwe.
Away from home for four months spanning two continents, New Zealand's only success was a 2-0 win against a lowly Zimbabwe, following which they drew South Africa 1-1 before being whitewashed 0-3 by India in the Tests.
Their ODI campaign started off on a sour note in Dharamasala but some strong batting performances by skipper Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill in Delhi and Ranchi respectively have managed to catch India off guard and level the five-match series 2-2.
That they have never won against India in four bilateral contests since 1988 will be a big motivation for the Black Caps to buck the trend and return home with an act of redemption.
Weather permitting, a tantalising finish is on the cards as India would be equally hungry for success at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, a venue where they boast of a 4-1 record.
Their last win has been against Sri Lanka, a 5-0 whitewash way back in November-2014 and an under-fire Dhoni would not want another series loss at the fag end of his career.
The world No.4 India have just three more ODIs, against England, ahead of the coveted Champions Trophy in June next year and it would be an opportunity for Dhoni to give them a boost against a team which is ranked a notch higher.
The over-reliance on Virat Kohli has also been evident during the series as Indian Test captain was the prime performer in both victories during the first four matches so far. With their opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane yet to provide a much-needed solid start, India's batting is centred around their no 1 batsman Kohli.
Consider this, India's both the wins of the series had Kohli anchor the chase be it the 85 not out in a low-scoring chase in Dharamsala, or his majestic unbeaten 154 that hunted down New Zealand's challenging 285 in Mohali.
Chasing a modest 261 in the fourth ODI in Ranchi, Rahane returned to form with a half-century while Kohli looked in full flow on a slow wicket but both failed to convert their starts, and it was a familiar story for the inexperienced middle-order.
Failure or not, Indian fabled opener Sharma has been a permanent member of the line-up with Dhoni seeming to be in no mood to give youngsters the chance and Mandeep Singh is seen warming the bench.
Sharma's last big knock came in Australia, and it's been more than nine months he's yet to score a century in either longer or shorter format. His scores in the ongoing series read 14, 15, 13 and 11, something that is hurting India's cause more than anything else.
It's high time that the world record holder for ODI individual score of 264 return to form in the most-important match of the series, and at his mother's home town he would hope to make it special.
It's the same venue where Dhoni had got instant stardom with his fiery 123-ball 148 to take India to a huge 356/9 in their 58-run win over Pakistan in the first match of the venue.
The Dhoni special had come batting at no 3. The Indian skipper may not be like the old 'Dhoni' but having promoted to no 4 in Mohali where he scored a 91-ball 80 his intentions are right, if not his reflexes.
Following up with his brilliant half-century, Dhoni disappointed his home crowd with a 31-ball 11 before being cleaned up by James Neesham, and missing the line completely.
In his heyday, he would have dispatched it for six but Dhoni is struggling to get back to his old rhythm.
He has also made a stunning revelation of 'losing ability' to freely rotate in the middle as to expect a Dhoni special would be like expecting a youngster to finish a chase.
As for bowling, India have done reasonably well, especially the spin trio of Amit Mishra, Axar Patel and part-timer Kedar Jadhav who have ensured that they have not missed the regulars, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
On pace front, India would hope that Jasprit Bumrah who was indisposed and was replaced by a lacklustre Dhawal Kulkarni returns to full fitness.
Opener Martin Guptill's return to form in Ranchi to go with the consistency of Tom Latham who has five half-centuries from seven matches, combined Tests and ODIs, on the tour will give New Zealand a massive advantage up front.
Skipper Williamson at number 3 too has been consistent but it's their middle order who has often frittered away good starts, be it in Ranchi where they were on course for 300 or in the previous ODIs.
Left-arm spinner Anton Devcich who was included as a third spinner in Ranchi looked ordinary as Williamson may not mind bringing back either Corey Anderson or Matt Henry.
With conditions overcast, the last thing India would want is a wash-out. Despite weakening, cyclone Kyant and has gone further down south, there's forecast of localised downpours as both the teams will keep their fingers crossed.
The venue is slated to host its maiden Test in less than a month's time, when India take on England from November 17.
As a matter of fact, around the same time Visakhapatnam was ravaged by cyclone Hudhud and the scheduled last ODI here between India and West Indies was cancelled without a ball bowled on October 14, 2014.
It remains to be seen whether India give themselves a Diwali gift or New Zealand return home with their heads held high.

Yogeshwar Dutt's 2012 Olympics bronze won't be upgraded to silver
Mumbai:MMNN:25 Oct. 2016
Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt’s chances to get his medal upgraded to silver evaporated on Monday after the International Olympic Committee decided to drop the investigation against the deceased wrestler Russian wrestler Besik Kudukov.
Kudukov, who won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle 60kg category at the 2012 Olympics was tested positive for a banned steroid. The wrestler died in a car crash in 2013.
In a statement, released by the Russian Wrestling Federation, the organisation said Kudukhov’s sample from the 2012 Games was retested this year and found to be positive for the steroid turinabol.
The case was passed to a three-member IOC disciplinary commission, comprising Denis Oswald of Switzerland, Sweden’s Gunilla Lindberg and Ugur Erdener from Turkey.
According to the statement, on October 19, the committee decided to terminate the investigation against Kudukhov.
“The International Olympic Committee will not deprive wrestler Besik Kudukhov of his silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London,” first deputy president of the Russian Wrestling Federation Georgy Bryusov, also a vice president of the United World Wrestling, said in the statement.
According to reports that emerged in August, Dutt’s bronze medal would have been upgraded to silver as the Russian wrestler tested positive.
Dutt acknowledged the same on Twitter, however, he refused to accept the silver medal.

FIFA U17 World Cup from October 6 next year; Kolkata gets ratified as sixth venue
Kolkata:MMNN:25 Oct. 2016
India will stage the Under-17 football World Cup from October 6 to 28 next year, the sport’s world governing body FIFA announced while ratifying Kolkata as the sixth venue for the mega-event after an inspection.
The draw for the mega-event, to be held across six venues in India, will take place on July 7. “We first came here two years ago to see the stadium. The work that has done has been staggering. I am confident that the stadium will look 30 years younger. I grew up here watched football here, it gives me immense pleasure to say Kolkata has been ratified as one of the venue for World Cup matches,” Joy Bhattacharya, Project director — FIFA U-17 World Cup, said.
“Massive amount of work has gone into the stadium, impressive improvements since our last inspection in February. Lot of work has been done hence the ratification. The stadium has the potential to be one of the best in the country and can also compete internationally,” Competitions Department Lead, FIFA Delegation Marion Mayer-Vorfelder said.
State sports minister Aroop Biswas said 75 to 80 per cent work has been done and the stadium will be complete by January 31.
When asked about the chances of Kolkata holding the final, Tournament director, Javier Ceppi said, “This question keeps coming back and same thing I keep telling you. Before we can announce about final, we have to complete the work fully. We are extremely satisfied. Monsoon has been severe here so has been summer. We understand the weather constraint after January, we will have an assessment, then we will see whether a final or a key match can be played here,” he added.
When asked whether they are happy with the security arrangements, Ceppi said, “I have come to West Bengal 30 times. I have always felt very welcome and never felt threatened. We are working with the state government. We will try to deliver a friendly and a very good tournament.”
Ceppi later said ratification doesn’t means a blank cheque as the progress of the work that is being done will be assessed periodically.
Kochi, Mumbai, Guwahati, Delhi and Margao have already been ratified as venues following inspections by the FIFA delegation.

The football wrap: India move up 11 spots to 137th in FIFA rankings
MMNN:21 Oct. 2016
The Indian men's football team jumped 11 places in the Fifa world rankings to move up to 137th spot, according to a release from the All India Football Federation on Thursday.
“It’s been a total team effort," said coach Stephen Constantine.
"Unless Mr Patel [AIFF President Praful Patel) and Mr Das [AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das] allowed me to do the things and the manner I wanted it to be done, this won’t have been possible ever.”
However, Constantine stressed that this was the beginning of a long-term plan and the team is capable of achieving much more.
Recently in September, India defeated a much-higher ranked Puerto Rico 4-1 in a friendly in Mumbai. Their previous best ranking in the last six years was 138th in August 2010.

MS Dhoni’s return catch was big moment in the match: Kane Williamson
New Delhi:MMNN:21 Oct. 2016
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson lauded his bowlers for drying up the runs during India’s chase in the second ODI here, terming Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brilliant return catch by Tim Southee as a “big moment” in the match.
When asked about how the bowlers and fielders responded while defending a low total, Williamson said: “Someone like MS Dhoni, he can finish matches when he is allowed to play his shots. He is the best in the world. That catch was big for us.”
Williamson was happy with the manner his bowlers responded on a tricky surface and also gave an insight to how some adjustments led to the Indian skipper playing 37 dot balls.
“On this kind of a surface (Kotla), scrapping was important. You needed to put the ball in areas where it’s tough to get away and try and build that pressure. It was an extremely good effort considering that the ball was damp due to dew factor.”
Dhoni was cleverly stopped as the pushes for singles and doubles through the cover and extra cover region were stopped keeping a double cover in the region.
“We tried to make adjustments out there. The ball was going to cover more. So we put an extra fielder there. Sometimes thats how you adjust to the surface and adapt.
“The ball was damp and they did great job with small boundaries. We were fortunate pick (regular) wickets and play consistently which allowed us to rotate our spinners but credit to how our seamers bowled.”
With figures of 10-2-25-2, Trent Boult deservingly got a special mention from his skipper.
“I think he (Boult) was extremely clever. He tried to swing it early, made adjustment to come round the wicket gauging low bounce, trying not to give width. He was extremely accurate. 10 overs, 25 runs doesn’t happen often. It was a special performance.”
Williamson also explained the reason he went with a single specialist spinner in Mitchell Santner.
“Anton Devcich came in place of Jimmy Neesham in that all-rounder’s role. We thought looking at surface that we wanted to play our frontline seamers. There was bit of grass on the surface. We would have bowled (first) as well trying to get more out of it but at the same time it was nice to put a total on board.
“Certainly, it was a tough surface to increase the scoring rate. It had slow and low bounce. At halfway stage, we knew that we were little bit short but surface was lively. We learned from how India bowled on it. Fantastic effort by our seam bowlers led by Boult to squeeze them, the only way to do it.
“He didn’t want to dwell on his century which was a great one considering the nature of the track. For him, showing improvements is the key.
“It’s certainly nice to come out on a winning side. At the same time, best part was to show some improvement from previous one-dayer. It was extremely important for our unit.”
“We wanted to improve rather than chasing win. Signs of improvement — that’s always a focus. We are playing a very good Indian side. We need to touch on some areas and be better again.”

Saina Nehwal appointed member of International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission
New Delhi:MMNN:18 Oct. 2016
Indian suttler Saina Nehwal has been appointed as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission.
Saina received a letter to the effect from the IOC President Thomas Bach on Monday night.
“Following your candidature for the elections of the IOC Athletes’ Commission during the Olympic Games Rio 2016, it is with great pleasure to appoint you in consultation with the Chair, as Member of the Athletes’ Commission,” the letter said.
The Athletes’ Commission is chaired by Angela Ruggiero and has nine vice-presidents and 10 other members. The members are scheduled to meet on November 6.
Nehwal’s appointment has come just when she is set to resume practice after recovering from a knee injury.
Nehwal, who sustained an intra-articular injury (inside the joint) to her right knee, had said in an interview last month that she hoped to get back on the circuit in November.
Her father Harvir Singh was happy with her latest accomplishment. “I have become very emotional. It is a matter of great privilege for us that they recognised her and to be a part of the IOC. They thought that she could be of some use.
She lost (a medal in the Olympics) because of the injury. We are proud of her,” Singh said.

Dravid’s discipline, Kohli’s aggression inspires teen star Rishabh Pant
Kolkata:MMNN:18 Oct. 2016
A Virender Sehwag tweet is the equivalent of a testimonial these days. At 19, Rishabh Pant is the youngest to get one. Pant knows the tweet’s significance. “When Viru paa has tweeted about you, you know you have done something right,” Pant told HT from Delhi, a day before he was to leave for Kolkata for their Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka.
Pant made his Ranji debut against Bengal exactly a year ago. In 12 months, he has logged numbers that indicate there is something special about him.
In 11 one-dayers played in the under-19 level, Pant’s scores were 51, 26, 4, 71, 35, 6, 57, 78, 111, 14 and 1. The day he got his maiden century , against Namibia in the World Cup, Pant was picked for a hefty Rs 1.9 crore by the Delhi Daredevils at the IPL auctions. None of his U-19 mates selected in the IPL got past the base mark of Rs 10 lakhs.
In the four Ranji Trophy matches he has played so far, Pant has already scored a fifty (57 against Bengal), a big hundred (146 against Assam) and now, a triple century (308) that almost brought Delhi close to Maharashtra’s mammoth first innings of 635.
Something about these records suggest this wicket-keeper batsman is close to exploding on to the scene any day. But unlike some of us in the media on the hunt for the next big thing, Pant doesn’t think too far ahead. Ask him a question that’s a little longer perhaps and Pant shoots back saying ‘bhaiya woh last line samajh nahi aayi’ (I didn’t understand that last line). After meandering his way through Roorkee and Rajasthan before finally settling in Delhi, Pant likes to keep his life clean and simple, with a crystal-clear attitude towards batting --- if it’s in my zone, I will hit it.
“I don’t think much but I do set targets for myself. My job is to score runs and I will try to do that only,” said Pant. “I always wanted to score a double hundred in Ranji Trophy because I had never done that.” But isn’t this only your second Ranji Trophy, one asked. “I know. But I had never scored a 200 in my junior career as well. So it was always top of my bucket list,” he said.
Asked what his next target is, Pant refuses to divulge it. “I will only tell it once I have done it. That target is only known to me,” he said. Ask him how he planned his latest innings and even Pant doesn’t know how he got to a triple hundred. “The pitch was good, the ball was coming on to the bat. So I batted. I reached 100, then 150, then 200. I just batted on,” he said.
If it sounds too good to be true, Pant’s confession about being more alert in the 90s is confirmation that he isn’t one of those batsmen who ‘don’t think about closing in on a landmark’. “Of course I become a little aware of the situation. I tend to concentrate more when I am near a hundred,” said Pant.
Keeping wickets makes concentrating for long periods easy for Pant. But he isn’t willing to defend too long for no reason. “You have to decide when to defend and when to attack. I won’t defend against a loose ball. It’s about the process, not the result. That is what sir (the famed Tarak Sinha of Sonnet Club) told me,” he said.
Pant has been lucky with his coaches too. Not only did he get Sinha in his formative years, Pant also got Rahul Dravid as his U-19 coach and then as mentor when he was with Delhi Daredevils this year. “You can’t ignore Rahul sir’s significance. But I try to imbibe different things from different people. With Rahul sir, it’s his discipline. With Viru paa, it’s his aggression,” said Pant.
When it comes to aggression, though, Pant seems most smitten by Virat Kohli. “Virat bhai’s aggression is something I admire. I like his energy level. The way bhaiya pushes himself is amazing. We tell ourselves that if he can score consistently at that level, why can’t we do the same in domestic cricket? That’s a different motivation altogether,” he said.

On Gautam Gambhir’s birthday relive his two World Cup winning knocks
New Delhi:MMNN:14 Oct. 2016
Gautam Gambhir might have made a comeback to the Indian side after a long gap of two years, but there was a time when the left-hander was a regular feature in the Indian team in all three formats.
Gambhir celebrates his 35th birthday today and to mark the occasion we present to you the Delhi batsman's two World cup winning knocks
97 - 2011 World Cup vs Sri Lanka
What do you remember about the 2011 World Cup final? Probably each and every ball, but the one everlasting moment was when MS Dhoni striking a pose after hitting the winning six towards long-off off Nuwan Kulasekara. He remained unbeaten on 91 and walked away with the Man of the Match award. The rest as they say is history.
But to relegate Gambhir's 122-ball 97-run knock in your list World Cup memories will be a cardinal sin. Gambhir walked in to bat in the very first over in chase of 275 after India lost their opener Virender Sehwag for 0. Sachin Tendulkar (18) departed in the seventh over, but the left-hander showed tremendous composure under extreme pressure to forge a once in a lifetime innings.
Partnerships with Kohli (83) and MS Dhoni (109) laid the foundation for India historic win. But an ill-advised slog dancing down the track robbed Gambhir of an ultimate glory - a matching-winning century in a World Cup final. But despite getting out for 97, the knock will always find a high place in a list of greatest knocks by an Indian.
75 - 2007 WorldT20 final vs Pakistan
And to think that Gambhir had already made a telling impact in a final of a World Cup before 2011,is just amazing. And the stage could not have been better.
An India vs Pakistan World Cup final, but similar to the 2011 WC triumph, Gambhir crucial knock of 75 off 54 balls at the top became a mere footnote amidst India's unbelievable victorious campaign on the back of their disastrous 2007 50-over World cup outing, Dhoni gamble of giving the ball to Joginder Sharma in the last over.
Despite being the top-scorer, Gambhir lost out on the Man of the Match award to Irfan Pathan who logged in an impressive match-winning spell of 4-0-16-3. But Gambhir contribution at the top, blunting a potent attack consisting Mohammad Asif, Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul was pivotal in India posting a defendable total of 157 for five.

Yuvraj Singh Brings Rohtak To Life, Smashes 177 In Ranji Trophy Match
MMNN:14 Oct. 2016
Yuvraj Singh made a rip-roaring return to form on the cricket field after smashing a 177-run knock in Punjab's Ranji Trophy encounter against Madhya Pradesh. The sleepy village of Lahli, in the outskirts of the Rohtak city in Haryana, was brought to life yesterday with Yuvraj showing glimpses of what he is capable of.
Out of the national reckoning from a long time in the longer formats of the game, Yuvraj has been in woeful form in domestic cricket this season. In fact, his 177 against Madhya Pradesh was his first fifty-plus score in 14 first-class innings.
The 34-year-old hit a total of 24 fours and faced 295 balls in his knock. He had remained unbeaten on 164 at the end of first day's play on Thursday but could only add 13 runs today. Once Yuvraj got out, many spectators at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium left the ground as they had come to see their hero bat.
Yuvraj shared a 156-run stand with Gurkeerat Singh Mann (103), a partnership that came in just 179 balls. All MP bowlers, barring Ishwar Pandey who took 8 wickets, had to bear the brunt of the two Punjab batsmen. Yuvraj last played in whites for India in 2012. He last played an ODI game in December 2013 and earlier this year, featured in India's World T20 campaign at home.
With consistent showing by India fringe players on the A-team tours, Yuvraj is no longer a fancied option for the selectors to break into the Test and ODI teams. However, if the southpaw can come up with more knocks like these in the coming weeks, his chances will definitely improve and his fans will stay happy!

This tweet by Mohammad Kaif on Indian soldiers has a lesson for all of us
New Delhi:MMNN:7 Oct. 2016
From Virender Sehwag to Virat Kohli, several Indian cricketers took to Twitter to condemn the terror attack in Uri.
However, most of this admiration has been limited to words and hasn’t really translated into a change of heart for many of us. For instance, how many of us travelling in a Metro or a city bus would get up to offer our seat to someone who is in need. How many of us avoid rushing to a seat reserved for senior citizens, ladies and the physically challenged and feeling a sense of joy at having accomplished it?
The response can be mixed but a tweet by cricketer Mohammad Kaif has a lesson for all of us who think and act the way we shouldn’t.
Mohammad Kaif, former Indian batsmen recently took to Twitter to share a message for Indians that not only displays his thoughts for the nation but also shows a way to extend support for the armed forces.
Kaif requested people to help the Indian soldiers by offering them seats while travelling.
“Leaves of all Jawans have been cancelled. If in train or bus, you see a Jawan without a seat, do offer them a seat,” he tweeted.
Kaif did not attempt to preach, but only sent out a request that appears so easy to be followed. He does not exude the hyped feelings of nationalism, but does touch upon a raw nerve when it comes to making small sacrifices to help those in greater need.
Soldiers who guard our borders have pledged to readily make the ultimate sacrifice if need be. Time is that we reciprocate in small ways that we can.
When on field, former Indian batsmen was one of the defensive and aggressive players against Pakistan.

India ODI squad: Suresh Raina, Amit Mishra back for New Zealand series
MMNN:7 Oct. 2016
Suresh Raina and Amit Mishra have been included in India's MS Dhoni-led ODI squad for the first three ODIs of the five-match series against New Zealand starting October 16. Both cricketers last featured in ODIs in October 2015, during the South Africa series at home. They were not selected for the Australia or Zimbabwe tours this year, but now have a chance to push for further selection.
With Shikhar Dhawan sidelined for at least another two weeks with a broken thumb and KL Rahul not recovered from his hamstring pull, the newly formed senior selection committee chose Mandeep Singh as opening partner to Rohit Sharma. Hardik Pandya, the Baroda allrounder, was also recalled.
R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami have been rested keeping an eye on home Test series against England, Bangladesh and Australia in the next five months. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar ruled out of the Indore Test against New Zealand starting this weekend, the selectors have opted for Dhawal Kulkarni as the third fast bowler in the 15-man squad.
From India's previous ODI series - a tour of Zimbabwe in June, featuring five uncapped players - seven players have been dropped: Ambati Rayudu, Faiz Fazal, Rishi Dhawan, Barinder Sran, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal and Karun Nair. From that squad, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni and Jasprit Bumrah have been retained.
In his first public appearance as chairman of selectors, former India and Andhra wicketkeeper MSK Prasad stressed on Mandeep's performance for India A in Australia recently, and how Raina's experience and bowling gave him an edge in what he termed a squad "with several youngsters".
"Mandeep has played well in his brief chances with India in Zimbabwe and did exceptionally well as opener for India A in Australia, where I was present. He did well against players with international experience such as Kane Richardson and Marcus Stoinis," said Prasad, who played 17 ODIs and six Tests between May 1998 and January 2000. "Suresh Raina has been picked because he offers a good bowling option and with several youngster in the team he offers experience. I was also very impressed by Hardik Pandya, who did excellently in all formats in Australia."
This is Mandeep's second call-up to an Indian squad. Earlier this year, he went to Zimbabwe and played in three T20Is, with a personal best of 52*. He now looks primed for an ODI debut, having scored 198 runs in six games for India A in the quadrangular series they won in Australia, with a best of 95 coming in the final to fetch him the Man-of-the-Match award. In 75 List A matches, the 24-year-old averages 38.29 with three hundreds and 18 fifties.
Mandeep's India A captain on that tour, Pandey, has kept his place in the ODI squad having traveled to Australia and Zimbabwe in 2016. The 27-year-old Karnataka batsman was the highest run-getter (359 in seven games, with two hundreds) in the India A quadrangular series.
The bowling is a mix of experience and promise. The spin quotient is headed by Mishra and Axar, with the uncapped Haryana allrounder Jayant Yadav in the mix. With Bhuvneshwar injured, Ishant Sharma still not 100% after a bout of chikungunya and Shami rested, the new selection committee opted for Umesh Yadav, Bumrah and Kulkarni, was India A's most successful bowler in the one-dayers in Australia with nine.
With ten home Tests left to be played this season, this is a welcome break for Ashwin. He played the first two Tests versus New Zealand with a sore bowling finger - during which he became the fastest Indian bowler to 200 wickets - and has been given the chance to recuperate before the five-Test series against England begins in early November.
There were murmurs of Yuvraj Singh being recalled following his passing of a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore last week, but he was been overlooked.
Similarly, Gautam Gambhir did not find a place despite being seen as a possible contender having been recently added to India's Test squad as Rahul's replacement.
The New Zealand series will be India's first ODI outing since the tour of Zimbabwe in June, when Dhoni led a majorly revamped squad of fringe and lesser experienced players. The first ODI is in Dharamsala on October 16, followed by fixtures in Delhi (October 20), Mohali (October 23), Ranchi (October 26) and Visakhapatnam (October 29). Dhoni's team is ranked fourth in the ICC ODI Championship, three points behind New Zealand at third. The last time New Zealand played ODIs in India, they were whitewashed 5-0 in 2010.
ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mandeep Singh, Pandey, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jadhav, Jayant Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Amit Mishra.

Kabaddi World Cup: Yuvraj Singh to Saina Nehwal, sports stars cheer for Team India
New Delhi:MMNN:4 Oct. 2016
As defending champions India gearing up for the upcoming 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, starting October 7, 2016 in Ahmedabad, several Indian sporting stars have started cheering up for the home team.
Indian cricket stars Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, London Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal, MC Mary Kom, and present and former India Hockey captain PR Sreejesh and Sardar Singh along with otheers are sending their best wishes to the Indian squad for the biggest Kabaddi extravaganza.
2016 Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik, two times Asian Games gold medallist Pankaj Advani and champion boxer Vijender Singh have also sent their best wishes to the Indian team.
The Indian Kabaddi Team has appealed everyone to come together as #OneBigBlue to support them and help them lift the cup! India are the top contenders for the tournament, in which teams from 12 countries are going to participate.
Besides hosts India, other participating nations in the tournament are USA, England, Australia, Iran, Poland, Thailand, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan, Argentina and Kenya.

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino suggests 48-team World Cup
Geneva :MMNN:4 Oct. 2016
World Cup expansion plans got even bigger Monday, and the 2026 tournament could have 48 teams playing instead of 32. FIFA President Gianni Infantino outlined the idea that would see 16 teams go home after playing just one game in a new opening playoff round.
The 16 playoff winners would join 16 seeded teams to begin a 32-team group stage that follows the current World Cup format.
Expanding to 48 means “more countries and regions all over the world would be happy,” Infantino said in a speech in Bogota, Colombia.
Infantino’s suggested format would create a tournament of 80 matches instead of the current 64 – driving up the price broadcasters would pay for rights to the world’s most-watched sports event.
FIFA earned around $5 billion from the 2014 tournament in Brazil.
The 2026 World Cup format and bidding process will begin to be discussed next week when Infantino chairs a FIFA Council meeting in Zurich.
The United States, Canada and Mexico are potential bidders for a tournament that the North American soccer body CONCACAF believes it is overdue to host for the first time since the U.S. staged the World Cup in 1994.
The FIFA ruling council’s decision on the 2026 format is expected within months and is set to be a defining issue of Infantino’s presidency before he is due for re-election in 2019.
Infantino wooed FIFA voters by promising a 40-team World Cup before winning election in February. He is completing the mandate of Sepp Blatter, who supported a 32-team World Cup.
Now Infantino believes that “with 40 teams, the math doesn’t work.”
“You could have a tournament in which the 16 best teams advance to a group stage and the other 16 will came out of a `playoff’ ahead of the group stage, and the World Cup could end up with 48 teams,” Infantino said at a university in the Colombian capital.
How to define the “best” teams could ignite debate if seeding is decided on the merit of recent results, or a national team’s historical record at past World Cups.
On current FIFA rankings, the 16 best teams all come from Europe and South America, except for 15th-ranked Mexico.
Infantino’s previous employer, UEFA, provoked anger in recent weeks by changing future Champions League seeding and prize money distribution rules that favor traditional powers over emerging teams.
Staging a World Cup of 48 teams would also add stress on host nations with extra demands for stadiums and training bases.
That could favor candidates like the U.S. with existing infrastructure in place, or increase support for Infantino’s election campaign idea of regional hosting across multiple countries.