Firstpost Spodcast Episode 226: India vs New Zealand game rained out, Toronto Raptors win their first NBA crown and more
India vs New Zealand game rained out, Toronto Raptors win their first NBA crown and more
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
1. More washouts at the cricket world cup. The match between India and New Zealand on Thursday was abandoned on account of rain, making it the third match to be abandoned in the 2019 World Cup. It was the fourth match of eight to be washed out in the past week, after two abandonments in Bristol and a rain out of the South Africa-West Indies game after 7.3 overs.
Organizers finally gave up at 3 pm local time, four and a half hours after the scheduled start at Trent Bridge. India and New Zealand, the only unbeaten teams in the tournament, split the points from the match. Tournament leaders New Zealand have seven points after four games while India have five after three games.
India’s next match is against Pakistan on Sunday in Manchester while New Zealand face South Africa next Wednesday in Birmingham.
2) The Indian men's recurve team had booked three quota places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Wednesday at the World Archery Championships. A day later, they defeated Netherlands in a closely fought match and progressed to the final.
India will take on China in s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) in the Netherlands for the gold medal. The last time that the Indian men's recurve team reached the final of a World Championship was back in Madrid in 2005.
India beat Netherlands 5-4 in the semi-final. Atanu Das, Pravin Ramesh Jadhav and Tarundeep Rai beat Netherland's Steve Wijler, Sjef van den Berg and Rick van der Ven in a semi-final shoot-off to book a place in the gold medal match. The hosts began by winning the first set 56-54 and third set 57-56 with India winning the second set and fourth set 52-49 and 57-55 respectively. With the teams locked at 4-4, a shoot-off was necessary. There, India prevailed by a slender 29-28 margin. Earlier, in the quarter-final, also on Thursday, India had made their intentions clear with win over the high-profile Chinese Taipei team.
3) Former World No 1 and Malaysia’s most successful badminton player, Lee Chong Wei announced retirement from professional badminton after an illustrious 19-year career.
Lee made the announcement at a press conference in the presence of Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.
The 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with nose cancer in July last year, said he made the decision after a recent check-up in Taiwan. The announcement arrived on the back of doctors' advice to ease off in order to avoid a relapse of the cancer. He has since made a recovery, but hasn’t been nearly as active in training. Although he did resume training in January, and even targeted a competitive return at the All England Championships in March and Malaysian Open in April, his plans did not come to fruition.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist said he had discussed the issue with both his wife and his doctor. He said, “She told me to rest. I took rest and discussed it with BAM and (Youth and Sports Minister) Syed Saddiq. I said after Raya, I will retire...my health is more important.”
Lee won silver medals at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games, as well as in three World Championships outings in 2011, 2013, and 2015. Of those six losses, four were at the hands of on-court rival and great friend Lin Dan, arguably the greatest player of his generation. The last two defeats were at the hands of another Chinese shuttler, Chen Long. Lee won a total of 69 titles over the course of his career. That includes a staggering 46 titles in the now-defunct Superseries – the Badminton World Federation's (BWF) top-flight circuit. He also spent a whopping 349 weeks, including a 199-week streak from 2008-2012, as the No 1 shuttler in the world.
4) In other cricket news, India will begin their World Test Championship campaign against the West Indies in a two-match series starting on 22 August while the tour begins with a couple of T20 Internationals in Florida from 3 August.
The tour of West Indies will be India's sole away Test assignment in 2019. Besides two Tests and three T20s, both teams will also play a three-match ODI series during the five-week tour.
The Tests series will kick-off the new ICC World Test Championship that will be played over the next two years. The Test Championship has been introduced to give greater context and competition in the "Ultimate Test" of the game.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) Chief Executive Officer Johnny Grave said, “The West Indies and India have a long and colourful rivalry, and the MyTeam11 Series will bring more thrilling competition across every format of the game.” CWI Commercial, Marketing and Communications Director, Dominic Warne said, “We're excited to bring two more T20Is to Florida, giving the West Indies diaspora in North America the opportunity to watch the team play 'live' and in person.”
The first ODI will take place on 8 August at the National Stadium in Guyana, the first time in three decades that the two sides will contest an ODI in the South American nation.
5) The poster boy of Indian table tennis, Sharath Kamal, was snapped up by new-entrants Chennai Lions in the player draft for the third season of Ultimate Tennis League (or UTT) on Thursday in Mumbai. A total of 40 players were up for grabs, including 11 Olympians and two youth Olympians from nine different nationalities.
Sharath played for the Warriors last season. India's highest ranked women's singles player and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manika Batra was roped in by RP-SG Mavericks Kolkata. The highest ranked player (World No 8) of the draft Cheng I-Ching of Chines Taipei was picked up by Goa Challengers.
G Sathiyan, who recently became the first Indian to break into top-25 rankings, was the only player to be retained by any franchise as defending champions Dabang Delhi TTC held on to him. The decision to retain Sathiyan was taken by Delhi ahead of the payer draft.
The 2019 season of UTT will witness three new teams while Challengers have seen a change in ownership and have been rechristened Goa Challengers. Maharashtra United, Falcons and Warriors have now been replaced by Puneri Paltan, Chennai Lions and U Mumba TT. Each team will now have only six players instead of eight. Also, every tie will only have five matches instead of seven. No player will be allowed to play more than one singles match per tie. Another rule change sees a singles player being drawn against another player regardless of their nationality. In the previous seasons, Indian players could only be drawn against foreign players. With this change, we now have the possibility of a Sathiyan vs Sarath clash or a Manika vs Archana match.
The league will take place in Delhi this year from 25 July to 11 August.
7) The Toronto Raptors captured their first NBA crown on Thursday, defeating Golden State 114-110 to become the first league champion from outside the United States by dethroning the defending titleholders.
Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam each scored 26 points while Kawhi Leonard and reserve Fred VanVleet each added 22 as Toronto won the best-of-seven series four games to two.
Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career after the first in 2014 with San Antonio, which traded him to Toronto last July.
The Raptors became the first Canadian club to win a major North American sports title since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays captured Major League Baseball's World Series.
Leonard was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career after the first in 2014 with San Antonio.
The Raptors spoiled the Warriors' farewell appearance at Oracle Arena. Golden State's home since 1971 will be replaced by a new $1 billion venue in San Francisco next season.
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Jaylen Brown scored 26 points, Jayson Tatum added 25 and the Celtics got right back into the East finals with a 117-106 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 on Saturday night. Kemba Walker added 21 to help Boston pull to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“There’s just two things that I won’t ever let be questioned and that’s character and work ethic," Meyers Leonard said. "So I’m trying to make my impact now from the sideline.”
Winning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, puts Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, at the age of 25, in an exclusive club with Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. But Giannis' theme for the offseason and next year remains getting better.