Firstpost Spodcast Episode 237: Hosts England's superb win over India at World Cup, Austrian Grand Prix, NBA free agency and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

England put on an all-round display on Sunday at the 2019 World Cup, completely outplaying India to win by 31 runs.

England, who came into this match on the back of successive defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia, looked well prepared and executed their plans to perfection, making India look clueless in the process.

The hosts won the toss and chose to bat. The openers played cautiously, making just 47 runs in the first 10 overs, but keeping all wickets intact. Then next 10 overs saw utter carnage as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow took the bowling apart. England brought up the 150 in the 21st over. India finally took the first wicket in the 23rd over but there was to be no respite. Their spinners were attacked relentlessly and conceded 160 runs in 20 overs, taking just one wicket between them. Ben Stokes came good once again for England, making 79 from just 54 balls as England reached 300 in the 47th over. Mohammad Shami had a mixed day at the office, taking 5 wickets but bleeding 44 runs in his final three overs. England finished with 337/7. Jasprit Bumrah’s accurate bowling proved to be the difference between a much bigger total and a somewhat more achievable 338.

India’s chase began painfully. KL Rahul was out for a nine-ball duck, which meant Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma batted with extra caution so as to not lose another wicket. India made just 28 runs in the first 10 overs, the slowest start in this World Cup. The 100 came in the 22nd over as Kohli and Sharma built a steady partnership. That stand yielded 138 runs before Kohli was dismissed on 66. India continued to score fairly slowly as Sharma brought up his century but was dismissed soon after. He made 102 from 109 balls but struggled throughout his innings. Rishabh Pant came in at number four and got busy. He was joined by Hardik Pandya and the two youngsters tried to up the ante but eventually perished under the pressure of a high run rate. India had played too cautiously and left too much for the final overs. Pant made 32 from 29 while Pandya made 45 from 33 balls. India just couldn’t find the boundaries required and the scoring slowed down considerably once MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav were at the crease.

England’s bowling was so disciplined that India’s only six in the match came in the 50th over. India’s finished at 306/5 from their 50 overs, ending up 32 short of a victory. Dhoni’s and Jadhav’s lack of intent to make a fight of it at the end has given rise to much debate over India’s lack of firepower.

After Sunday’s convincing win, England, who came into this match on the back of successive defeats by Sri Lanka and Australia, will be assured of a place in the last four if they beat New Zealand in their last group match on Wednesday. India, who were unbeaten before the loss to pre-tournament favourites England, will look to qualify by beating Bangladesh when they return to Edgbaston on Tuesday.

In Formula One news, Max Verstappen triumphed in Sunday’s thrilling Austrian Grand Prix after overcoming a poor start, beating out Charles Leclerc to storm to the sixth victory of his career and end Mercedes’ record unbeaten start to the season.

The 21-year-old Dutchman, who won last year’s race at the Spielberg circuit, recovered after dropping to seventh and charged through to battle past Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in stirring fashion with two laps remaining. Verstappen’s dramatic overtaking manoeuvre was immediately announced as under investigation by the stewards, Leclerc feeling that he was given insufficient space as the Red Bull driver forced him wide off the circuit.

It was ‘game on’ with 12 laps to go as Verstappen set after Leclerc with a fastest lap to trim the gap to 4.8 seconds. Within three laps, it was down to 3.7 seconds. “Blistering pace, Max, keep it up,” Red Bull told their driver over the radio. With five laps to go, it was down to less than a second. The Dutch driver made his first attack on lap 68, at Turn Three, but Leclerc resisted. One lap later, Verstappen made it stick as he swept inside him and pushed the Ferrari wide before racing to the flag just 2.7 seconds ahead.

Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas came home third ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the second Ferrari while defending champion Lewis Hamilton finished fifth after suffering front wing and heating problems.

Verstappen said, “After that start, I thought my race was over. But after the pit-stops we were flying. It was hard racing – and if that’s not allowed, what’s the point in racing in F1. We may as well go home.” His victory brought Red Bull’s engine supplier Honda their first win since the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix after returning to Formula One.

In MotoGP news, Maverick Vinales cruised to his first win of the season at the Dutch MotoGP in Assen on Sunday, comfortably seeing off world champion Marc Marquez who extended his lead at the top of the championship table.

The 24-year-old took control at the 'Cathedral of Speed' with a dozen laps to go, quickly pulling clear for his sixth career MotoGP win in his 80th race. It is his first win since Australia last year.

The mustachioed Vinales, finished five seconds clear of Marquez, said, "This is honestly one of the tracks I like most in the calendar. I want to congratulate my team, they did a great job. I'm living my dream, it's been such a long time since my last victory!"

Meanwhile, Marquez left Assen in good spirits as he pulled 44 points clear of Andrea Dovizioso, who finished fourth on Sunday, in the title race.

In the Moto2 event, Augusto Fernandez capitalised on Lorenzo Baldassarri wiping out Alex Marquez to ride to a debut win. Baldassarri crashed into the championship leader in the closing laps, and the two ended up in a heap on the gravel as Marquez's hopes of a fourth consecutive win were dashed.

Switzerland’s Thomas Luthi, who took fourth at Assen, now leads the Moto2 standings on 117 points while Marquez is on 111.

In football news, Guillermo Ochoa saved a sudden death penalty as Mexico edged past Costa Rica 5-4 on penalties to reach the CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finals in Houston, Texas on Saturday.

Ochoa stopped Costa Rica's Keysher Fuller after the teams played a 1-1 draw following extra time in front of 70,788 fans at the NRG Stadium.

Jimenez handed Mexico the lead in the 44th minute, with Bryan Ruiz levelling from the spot for Costa Rica eight minutes later after Joel Campbell was judged to have been brought down by Luis Rodriguez inside the area. Television replays later showed that the foul was outside the box.

Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira saved Raul Jimenez's first penalty in the shoot-out, but Randall Leal smashed Costa Rica's third penalty wide, setting the stage for Ochoa to send Mexico through by stopping Fuller.

Mexico will face Haiti in the semi-finals on Tuesday. Haiti have had a great tournament so far. One of the biggest surprises of the event after winning all their games in the group stage, Haiti scored three second-half goals to stun former champions Canada 3-2 and advance to the last four for the first time. It was a gut-wrenching loss for the Canadians who won this tournament in 2000 but haven't made it to the semis since 2007.

NBA free agency news. Two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant announced on Sunday that he will depart the Golden State Warriors, his team since 2016, for the Brooklyn Nets.

The 30-year-old star forward made his announcement on social media moments after the start of the NBA's free agency period, saying he will sign a maximum-level deal with the Nets.

Durant commands top dollar despite the fact that he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in game five of this year's finals and is expected to miss all of the 2019-20 season.

Multiple US media outlets reported that Boston Celtics playmaker Kyrie Irving would be joining Durant in Brooklyn on a four-year deal worth $141 million.

While the Warriors are saying goodbye to Durant, three-point sharpshooter Klay Thompson was expected to reach terms quickly on a five-year deal worth $190 million to stay with the club.

The future remained unclear for two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who led the Raptors to the title after being traded from the San Antonio Spurs, whom he sparked to the 2014 crown.

The Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers have long been expected to make high-priced pitches to Leonard, who grew up in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also in the hunt for Leonard, seeking a third star to unite with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who is set to join the Lakers in a deal with New Orleans.

Leonard could opt to stay with Toronto, and the Raptors reportedly have been assured they will be able to make the final presentation to Leonard after other suitors have made their pitches.

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Updated Date: Jul 01, 2019 14:02:32 IST