Firstpost Spodcast Episode 239: India's crucial win over neighbours Bangladesh, Roger Federer's slow start to Wimbledon campaign and more
In today's episode, we discuss India's victory over Bangladesh at the ICC Cricket World Cup, Roger Federer's slow start at SW19, Tottenham's new signing and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
India qualified for the Cricket World Cup semi-finals after managing to defeat Bangladesh on Tuesday. They eliminated Bangladesh after Rohit Sharma’s century and Jasprit Bumrah’s four-wicket haul secured a nervous 28-run victory.
India batted first and put on a much better show in the first 10 overs compared to the dismal batting against England. Rohit Sharma combined with KL Rahul to score 180 runs, the highest opening partnership at this year’s tournament. Rohit Sharma, who scored his fourth century in this tournament, perished on 104 and Rahul was dismissed soon after on 77. The rest of the batsmen got starts but eventually, the scoring slowed down. Rishabh Pant was the only one to make it count, scoring 48 runs from 41 balls but he fell to a mistimed pull. That left Dhoni in charge of the death overs, and he made another relatively sedate 35 from 33 balls. India faltered at the end of the innings once again as only 63 runs came in the last 10 overs at the cost of 5 wickets.
Mustafizur Rahman took 5 wickets for Bangladesh as India finished at 314/9.
Bangladesh’s chase did not begin well. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, returning from a hamstring injury, and Jasprit Bumrah kept it tight up front but Mohammed Shami drew first blood for India by dismissing Tamim for 22. Fellow opener Soumya Sarkar could not convert the start he got into a big inning either, hitting Hardik Pandya straight to Kohli at short extra cover to depart for 33. Shakib Al Hasan struck a defiant 66, his sixth 50-plus score at the tournament but wickets kept tumbling at the other end. The lack of partnerships hurt Bangladesh, who were all out for 286 in 48 overs with Bumrah sealing the victory by claiming two wickets with the final two deliveries. He finished with 4/55 from 10 overs.
India are placed second on the table with 13 points, one behind leaders Australia, and play Sri Lanka in their final group match on Saturday. Bangladesh have been eliminated from the World Cup.
In tennis, eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer overcame a first set scare to reach the second round of Wimbledon on Tuesday beating South African debutant Lloyd Harris 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Federer admitted it had taken time to get going against a far from over-awed opponent, who was hampered later on with a calf injury. He said, “I struggled early on, my legs were frozen and the ball was not going where I wanted it to. He was hitting big and things were going quickly. I was nervous for a set and a half. So it took a good effort from me. Lloyd played a good match.”
Federer's great rival Rafael Nadal also went through after beating Japanese qualifier Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to set up a fascinating tussle with fiery Australian Nick Kyrgios, who put in a typically raucous and charismatic display to claim a 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 0-6, 6-1 win over countryman Jordan Thompson. There is a bit of history to the Nadal-Kyrgios equation. Kyrgios had, of course, stunned Nadal as a 144-ranked wildcard on his tournament debut in 2014. Earlier this year, Nadal commented that Kyrgios was “lacking respect”. The Australian commented, “Not sure that me and Rafa could go down to the Dog & Fox and have a beer together.” But Nadal refused to be drawn into an argument. He said, “I am too old to get into all this stuff. I believed in what I said but I am not going to get into a fight with anyone.”
Meanwhile, two-time French Open champion Dominic Thiem's lack of ease on grass was exposed once again, this time by veteran American serve and volleyer Sam Querrey, who won 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-0. Querrey had reached the semi-finals in 2017.
In the women’s draw, which saw many upsets earlier this week, world number one Ashleigh Barty and defending champion Angelique Kerber avoided the fate of second seed Naomi Osaka and came through their first-round clashes safely.
Barty beat China's Zheng Saisai 6-4, 6-2 while Kerber, the fourth seed, beat fellow German Tatjana Maria 6-4, 6-3. Seven-time champion Serena Williams joined them in the second round, but not before putting in a laborious performance to defeat Italian qualifier Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2, 7-5. The 37-year-old professed she is content with her performance as she has been struggling with a knee injury. Williams said, “It is the best I have felt since February.”
In football news, Tottenham smashed their club transfer record on Tuesday with the signing of French international midfielder Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for a fee that could rise to 63 million pounds.
Lyon confirmed that the initial fee will be 60 million euros, or 54 million GBP, with 10 million euros more in add-ons. Tottenham's previous record deal was the £42 million they spent on defender Davinson Sanchez in 2017.
The club released a statement that read, “We are delighted to announce the signing of Tanguy Ndombele. The France international central midfielder has signed a contract with the Club until 2025.”
The Frenchman’s signing came just hours after Spurs made their first signing in 18 months by securing teenage winger Jack Clarke from Leeds. Securing Ndombele, a player coveted by a host of top clubs around Europe, is a sign of intent from Tottenham, who moved into a new 62,000 capacity stadium last season. Their boss Mauricio Pochettino has challenged the club to match his ambition after reaching the Champions League final for the first time.
In women’s cricket, India's star opener Smriti Mandhana has agreed to re-join Western Storm for the 2019 season of the Kia Super League (KSL), the team announced in a release.
KSL is a three-year-old women's Twenty20 cricket competition in England and Wales managed by the ECB.
Mandhana was the first Indian player to participate in the KSL and had a record-shattering year. The left-hander shellacked a whopping 421 runs at an average of 60.14 in just nine innings to help her side to Finals Day for a third consecutive season.
Mandhana’s press release read, “Everyone involved with Western Storm made me feel so welcome and, if given the opportunity, I was always going to come back. The culture around the team, from top to bottom, was very good and I know that everyone will be looking for success once again.”
Western Storm Head Coach, Trevor Griffin, said. "Everyone knows what Smriti is capable of and she was absolutely sensational for us last year. Her performances on the field were superb and really set the tone for what we were trying to achieve in each match. It wasn't just the volume of her runs that was impressive, it was the manner in which they were scored that really caught the eye.”
Indian all-rounder Deepti Sharma will also be seen representing Western Storm in this year’s KSL. The tournament starts on 6 August and will feature six teams – Lancashire Thunder, Loughborough Lightning, Western Storm, Surrey Stars, Yorkshire Diamonds, Southern Vipers. The teams will play each other twice in a league format. The top three teams qualify for finals day on 1 September, with the second and third-placed sides competing for the chance to face the first-place league winners in the final.
The Hundred: Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana among four Indian women cricketers granted NOC for tournament
Opener Smriti Mandhana and all-rounder Deepti Sharma are among the four bound for the 100-ball tournament. The name of the fourth player is not yet known.
Federer was due to play in the 2-9 May Madrid Open, but made a late decision to switch to the lower-profile Geneva event where he should have a better chance of getting on a roll.
An Olympics singles gold medal is the only major honour missing from the Swiss great's collection - but the 39-year-old said he would understand if the Games were called off.