Firstpost Spodcast: Chelsea beat Arsenal to win Europa League, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 starts today and more on our daily podcast
Chelsea beat Arsenal to win Europa League, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 starts today and more on our daily sports podcast
Chelsea beat Arsenal 4-1 to win Europa League
England play South Africa in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 opener
Young Indian shooter Manu Bhaker secured India a seventh Olympic quota
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
1. In a chat with Firstpost, former Indian cricketer Ajit Agarkar said KL Rahul's 94-ball ton has changed the course of No 4 debate, and might have sealed the slot for him as of now. Speaking at an event in Mumbai, Agarkar said, “One innings shouldn't decide somebody's fate or should not write somebody off. I mean I had picked (Vijay) Shankar as my No 4 in the XI that I had picked a few weeks back. Looks like this innings is going to change that. I mean Virat anyway likes KL Rahul, he's a fabulous player anyway. Whether he can do it at No 4, we don't quite know.” He explained, “Whatever runs he's got at the international level usually have been at the top of the order. It's a different position to bat. The good thing is he's got runs, so there's a bit of form behind him. So even if they go that way, it may not be the worst thing considering he's got runs.”
Agarkar also praised India’s bowling as a well-balanced unit, even a potentially match-winning one. He said, "You've seen what (Jasprit) Bumrah does. He rarely has a bad day, which is such a plus. (Mohammed) Shami I think should play ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar at this point, if they go two between the three. I think he's in better bowling form and Hardik Pandya's the third (seamer). So, very potent. Just the balance, the all-round attack; if you look at the wrist-spin option, or if you play a finger spinner, there is a lot of variety in the attack. The only thing probably missing is a left-arm seamer, but I think Bumrah's quality more than makes up for most things. At the moment, they look in good shape. Fitness is not an issue, which is a real positive after a long IPL...Very few weaknesses in this team, if at all.”
Speaking at the same event, West Indian cricketer-turned-commentator Darren Ganga named the Windies the dark horses of the 2019 World Cup. He said, “West Indies could be considered dark horses in terms of their performances in one-day cricket over the last year and a half. This is a huge test for them, not having a huge expectation may be a blessing in disguise as they go into this World Cup. I've said it before that it will be a team that will surprise many of the opposition teams in this tournament, not because I'm West Indian. I think from what I've seen, the camaraderie, from what is happening behind the scenes, I think they potentially can get into that top four, but they are strong contenders there as well...They've got to try and score over 400 runs like we saw against New Zealand and give themselves a chance. How consistently they can do that, only time will tell.”
The World Cup begins today as hosts England take on South Africa. West Indies begin their campaign on 31 May against Pakistan. India’s first match is on 5 June.
2) French Open news now. Roger Federer breezed into the third round of the French Open for the 15th time on Wednesday after defeating German lucky loser Oscar Otte, while 11-time champion Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas also progressed.
37-year-old Federer saved four break points as he saw off the persistent Otte, who is ranked 144, in a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win on Court Philippe Chatrier. After the match, Federer said, “The Grand Slams are incredible. You can meet a player who qualified who (you) have not heard of before. It was difficult, he really played a great match.” Federer has won the French Open just once - that win came back in 2009.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal continued the strong start to his bid for a record-extending 12th French Open title with a comfortable victory over German qualifier Yannick Maden. Save for some nervous moments in the third set, Nadal looked in complete control against world number 114 Maden, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas had to fight hard to win against Bolivia's Hugo Dellien, as he ground out a 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 victory on his fourth match point.
3) In shooting, young Indian shooter Manu Bhaker secured India a seventh Olympic quota with a fourth-place finish in the women's 10m air pistol event of the ISSF World Cup on Wednesday.
Bhaker finished third in qualification with a total of 582 points, shooting a solid 98 in her last two rounds but the 17-year-old shot 201.0 in the final to secure the quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This is India's first quota in women's 10m pistol event.
Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma had won quota places in the men’s 10m air pistol events at the World Cups in Delhi and Beijing respectively.
4) An update on the latest doping scandal in Indian wrestling. U-23 Asian Championship silver medallist Reena was handed a provisional suspension for failing a dope test during the event in March.
The WFI is awaiting the outcome of the final hearing that will be conducted by NADA soon, and it has been learnt that the wrestler will be asked to pay Rs 8 lakh if she fails to come out clean. For every doping offence by its wrestlers, the national federation is bound to pay Rs 16 lakh to the United World Wrestling, the sport's governing body.
Last year, the WFI paid Rs 32 lakh in penalties to UWW for two doping offences committed by wrestlers Jatin and Manish. Jatin had won a gold in the Cadet Asian Championship in 2016 in the 69kg category while Manish was a bronze medallist in the 50kg category at Junior Greco Roman championship in 2017. They were handed life bans for failing to share the penalty with WFI.
A WFI official said candidly, “Why should the national federation pay the price for wrestler's mistake all the time? We paid Rs 32 lakh penalty to UWW last year and in all likely-hood, we will have to cough up another Rs 16 lakh. Reena will be asked to share the amount and if she fails to do that, she will also be banned for life...Jatin and Manish were banned for two years, as is the norm in junior wrestling, but they were handed life bans by WFI because they did not share half of the penalty.” According to WFI officials, Reena had taken an injection before the championship for treating pain on the advice of her personal coach. WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh had said on Tuesday that the federation has instructed coaches attached with the Indian teams to report to the WFI if they suspect any wrongdoing by wrestlers. He said, “...we had issued a circular recently that coaches will also face consequences if wrestlers fail dope tests.”
5) In football news, Eden Hazard scored twice and then admitted it was his parting gift as the Belgian's brace helped Chelsea sweep away Arsenal to win 4-1 in the Europa League final in Baku.
The Belgian is widely expected to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid after seven years in England, and this was the perfect way for him to bow out. Chelsea will be back in the Champions League next season, but there will be no return to Europe's top table for Arsenal. Unai Emery's side had to win here to qualify, yet they were not good enough on a bizarre night.
Emery was hoping to win this competition for the fourth time. He will get another chance next season, but for now Arsenal's 25-year wait to bring back a European trophy to north London goes on.
Not so long ago, the idea of Chelsea and City meeting in the biggest club game of all would have been laughable. Their only previous encounter in a final came in 1986 in the short-lived Full Members Cup, when Chelsea won 5-4 at Wembley.
A light show in the Chelsea blue spelled out "Champions for the Fans" as fireworks went off in the distance.
Champions League final win will finally deliver on the ambitions of the club's Abu Dhabi owners to turn Manchester City into European champions.