Firstpost Spodcast Episode 244: Rain pushes India-New Zealand semi-final game to reserve day, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu wins gold and more

In today's episode, we discuss India-New Zealand's semi-final clash, results from Wimbledon, Mirabai Chanu's gold medal and more.

FP Sports July 10, 2019 14:53:48 IST
Firstpost Spodcast Episode 244: Rain pushes India-New Zealand semi-final game to reserve day, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu wins gold and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

The first semi-final of the 2019 World Cup between India and New Zealand remained incomplete due to rain showers and will resume on Wednesday.

The notorious Manchester weather pushed the first semi-final of the World Cup to the reserve day after India’s bowlers excelled to restrict New Zealand to a sub-par 211/5 on Tuesday. Rain forced players off the field after 46.1 overs and, as per ICC's playing conditions, the game will resume today from where it stopped.

New Zealand won the toss and chose to bat but never seized the initiative. Martin Guptill fell early once again, which saw the Kiwi batsmen retreat into a shell. They made just 27 runs and brought up the 100 only in the 29th over. Henry Nichols made a sedate 18 from 51 balls while skipper Kane Williamson made another half century, albeit a slow one. His 67b from 95 balls helped drag New Zealand to a decent score as he shared a 75-run partnership with Ross Taylor. Williamson fell with the score on 134 in the 36th over but Taylor anchored the innings to remain 67 not out as play ended with the Kiwis on 211/5 in 46.1 overs.

India bowling was on target all through the innings, never allowing the batsmen to score freely. Jasprit Bumrah took 1/25 in 8 overs, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 1/30 from 8.1 overs before rain stopped the match. Ravindra Jadeja also had a good day, taking 1/38 in 10 overs while Hardik Pandya finished with 1/55 from his 10 overs.

Resuming on Wednesday will certainly be advantageous for a refreshed Indian team. Any advantage earned on the scheduled day will be carried through to the reserve day. If the match doesn't happen on Wednesday, then India will progress to the final by virtue of finishing on top of the league table.

Seven-time champion Serena Williams is just two wins away from equalling Margaret Court's Grand Slam titles record of 24 but she wobbled several times in her Wimbledon quarter-final against Alison Riske before winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Tuesday.

The 37-year-old recorded her 97th success at Wimbledon to move second on the women's all-time list but came under serious pressure from her fellow American.

Riske converted all five of her break points while Williams succeeded with just six of her 16 opportunities. However, Williams relied on her power to keep her in the match. In doing so she managed to avoid the fate that befell world number one Ashleigh Barty at the hands of Riske on Monday.

She said after her win, “I'm glad that I was able to come through. She beat so many great players. She was really so close to taking the win today...It was really satisfying. I wouldn't have won that match a couple of weeks ago.”

Joining Serena Williams in the last four was Romania's former world number one Simona Halep, who fought back from 4-1 down in the first set to beat China's Zhang Shuai 7-6 , 6-1. For Halep — who aside from Williams was the only player in the quarter-finals to have won a Grand Slam, taking the French Open last year — it is the second time at a Wimbledon semi-final. She said, “I fought hard in the first set, even if I was down 4-1. I have energy, I feel fresh, I feel healthy, I feel confident when I step on the court.”

Serena will face off against unseeded Czech veteran Barbora Strycova. The 33-year-old has ousted four seeds on her run to the last four. Her previous best at a Grand Slam was the 2014 quarter-final also at Wimbledon but she out-played Britain's Johanna Konta once she extricated herself from a 4-1 deficit in the first set. Halep will play Elina Svitolina, the eighth seed, who came back from a break down in each set to beat Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4. It will be the 24-year-old Ukrainian's first Grand Slam semi-final.

Former world champion Mirabai Chanu led an Indian medal rush by notching up a gold on the opening day of the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship on Tuesday.

Mirabai lifted a total of 191kg (84kg + 107 kg) in the senior women's 49 kg event to win the gold medal in the Olympic qualifying event, the points from which will come in handy for the final rankings of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

She last took part at the Asian Championship in Ningbo, China in April where she lifted 199kg to miss out on a medal by a whisker.

In all, the Indian contingent won 13 medals including eight gold, three silver and two bronze medals in senior, junior and youth categories.

Jhilli Dalabehera clinched the first place on the podium with a lift of 154kg (70kg+94kg) in the senior women's 45 kg event which is not an Olympic weight category.

In the senior women's 55kg, Soroikhaibam Bindyarani Devi and Matsa Santoshi won the gold and silver medals respectively. Bindyarani lifted 78 kg in snatch to bag the silver medal. Her effort of 105 kg fetched her a gold medal in clean and jerk as well as the overall gold. In the senior men's 55kg category, Rishikanta Singh grabbed the gold with a total lift of 235kg .

The qualification process for the 2020 Olympics is based on performances of the weightlifters in six events over a period of 18 months out of which the four best results logged by a lifter will be considered.

Despite protests by football clubs on Monday, the All India Football Federation on Tuesday decided to recommend the winners of Indian Super League to play in the AFC Champions League qualifiers, virtually according ISL the status of the country's top tier competition.

The executive committee of the AIFF will recommend the Asian Football Confederation to "positively" consider its request to grant ISL's winning team the ACL qualifier slot.

The winning team of the I-League, the official top tier competition so far, has been playing in the qualifying round of the ACL – Asia's top tier club competition. I-League 2017-18 champions Minerva Punjab FC played in the ACL qualifying round this year.

Usually, the slots of continental top-tier competition across the world are given to the clubs playing in the national top division leagues. Under the 'Entry Manual for AFC Club Competitions for 2017-2020', ACL slots are distributed among teams of the member countries of Asia which plays in their respective national top division league.

An AIFF statement said, “In the light of Master Rights Agreement as well as the fact that in the last 5 years the entire national squad are mostly being signed/playing for ISL clubs, and TV viewership and in-stadia audience having grown far more substantially vis-a-vis I-League, and ISL clubs complying with the entire AFC Club Licensing criteria, including strong grassroots, and youth development programmes which had also been certified by AFC, the AIFF Executive Committee recommends to the AFC to positively consider their request.”

The MRA mentioned above was signed in 2010 between the AIFF and Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), which runs ISL. FSDL is a subsidiary of AIFF's commercial partners IMG-Reliance.

In a meeting with these six I-League clubs on 3 July, AIFF president Praful Patel had said he will approach the AFC to ensure that the status quo remains and both the league continue to co-exist for another 2-3 years. On Tuesday, reacting to the AIFF's decision to recommend ISL for the ACL slot, Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj said that the clubs will go to court. Meanwhile, the AIFF appeared to be giving some room for negotiation as it said it would request the AFC to send a delegation to India to discuss this crisis. That said, PTI reported that the AIFF was not happy with the way things panned out after the 3 July meeting, especially with the clubs writing to the prime minister.

News from the Tour de France now. Italy's Elia Viviani was too fast for any of the other top riders in a classic 70kph bunch sprint at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour de France in Nancy on Tuesday.

Viviani edged out Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan who were second and third on a 1.5km home stretch. He won the dash for the line after he was led out by teammate Julian Alaphilippe, the overall race leader and first Frenchman to don the leader's yellow jersey in five years.

After the end of the day’s proceedings, he said, “It's all for one and one for all in this team, you need to defend each other and friendship goes a long way in this sport.”

Slovak Peter Sagan retained the lead in the points standings even though he faded to fourth in a photo finish with rookie Australian Ewan. Meanwhile, defending champion Geraint Thomas had a quiet day as he, co-captain Egan Bernal, and their Ineos teammates all finished in the pack. Thomas, who had a scare during stage 1 when he flew over barriers but avoided injury, said, “On the descent, with 10km to go. I didn't dare look at my Garmin (speedometer). I was just looking in front, making sure I stayed upright.”

Another rider creating quite a buzz at the Tour is Belgian debutant Wout van Aert, who headed the Jumbo Visma team with another show of cool power on a stage raced across open plains. While a nervy Richie Porte was seen shouting at a TV motorbike that had strayed too close on Tuesday, van Aert, in the same situation, offered the cameraman his water bidon on what was a sunny afternoon.

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