Firstpost Spodcast Episode 104: PV Sindhu breaks jinx to win BWF World Tour Finals, Belgium pips Netherlands to lift Hockey World Cup and more
Today we discuss PV Sindhu's victory over Nozomi Okuhara to win the BWF World Tour Finals, Belgium's thrilling victory over Netherlands in the Hockey World Cup final and more.
We begin with great news in badminton this Monday. PV Sindhu won the finals of the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals in China on Sunday. Sindhu, ranked sixth in the world, defeated World No 5, and defending champion, Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets 21-19, 21-17 to clinch that elusive gold medal at a major tournament.
The score line belies the seesaw nature of the match as the two shuttlers pushed each other to the limit. The 62-minute final saw Sindhu take a 14-6 lead in the first game, only for Okuhara to win 10 of the next 12 points to get to 16-16! But Okuhara sent the next two points wide, handing Sindhu three game points. Okuhara saved two of the three game points, but Sindhu won the last one to close out the game 21-19.
The second game also saw Sindhu get to a 6-4 lead, after which Okuhara engaged her in long rallies and equalised the score at 7-7. Right before the mid-game break, Okuhara lost a video referral which saw Sindhu go up 11-9. The Indian stayed ahead of the Japanese shuttler, and at 17-16, Okuhara committed a couple of errors that helped Sindhu get three match points. There was to be no comeback from Okuhara in the second game, and Sindhu converted her first match point to win the final.
Belgium won the 2018 Hockey World Cup defeating the Netherlands 3-2 in an exciting final that was decided by a penalty shootout.
It was perhaps fitting that the two best teams of the tournament played a goalless draw in the final. The two teams couldn't break the deadlock after 60 minutes, which meant a penalty shootout would decide the 2018 World Cup. One would have thought that the Netherlands, who had beaten Australia 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals, held a slight advantage. But the shootout was level, with both sides scoring two goals from five attempts each, with the final going into sudden death. Van Aubel went first for Belgium and he once again found the net. Jeroen Hertzberger took the shot for the Netherlands but, unfortunately for him, Belgium goalie Vincent Vanasch came up with a brilliant save, his fourth of the night. That save meant Belgium had become world champions.
Meanwhile, former champions Australia handed England an 8-1 drubbing to win the bronze. Tom Craig scored a hat-trick while Jeremy Hayward struck twice for Australia in the bronze medal play-off. Australia have now defeated England 21 times in 28 matches.
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli became the second-fastest batsman in Test cricket to get to 25 centuries. He reached the milestone in his 127th Test innings, a determined 123 against Australia in the second Test at Perth. Don Bradman, who took a mere 68 innings to get to 25 centuries, is far ahead in first place. Sachin Tendulkar is in third place with 130 innings.
The century at Perth is also Kohli’s sixth century in Australia, equaling the six centuries scored by Tendulkar, the most for any Indian batsman in Australia. When Kohli came in to bat, India were reeling at 8/2. He partnered with Cheteshwar Pujara to first stabilise the innings, then with Ajinkya Rahane to get India to a respectable total of 283. Kohli was eventually out to a controversial catch that looked like it had been grassed. India suffered yet another collapse, with the last five wickets falling for just 32 runs, finishing with 283 in response to Australia’s 326.
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Thailand Open Super 1000: PV Sindhu, Sameer Verma suffer defeats; Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Ashwini Ponappa pair enters semi-finals
The unseeded Indian pair toiled hard for one hour and 15 minutes to beat their world no. 6 Malaysian opponents 18-21, 24-22, 22-20 in a nail-biting quarterfinal duel.
Thailand Open Super 1000: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Sameer Verma produce the sole redeeming feature of Indian performance
For the second elite World Tour Super 1000 tournament in a row, Indian shuttlers produced a dismal performance, to crash out of the Toyota Thailand Open en masse by the semi-final stage, and leave the country empty-handed.
Thailand Open Super 1000: Sameer Verma stuns Lee Zii Jia in opening round; PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth also win
The win took Sindhu's head-to-head count against Busanan to 11-1. The only time the Indian lost to the Thai player was at the Hong Kong Open in 2019.