Firstpost Spodcast Episode 245: New Zealand beat India in World Cup to reach final, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal to renew rivalry in Wimbledon and more
In today's episode, we discuss New Zealand's win over India to reach Cricket World Cup final, the much-awaited Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal rivalry in Wimbledon semi-final and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
1. Cricket news first, and it was heartbreak for India in the semi-finals, as they lost to New Zealand by 18 runs.
The Black Caps stunned India to reach their second successive World Cup final as they survived Ravindra Jadeja's late heroics to seal the win in the final over.
The match, which was forced into the reserve day due to rain on Tuesday, resumed with New Zealand batting on 211/5 from 46.1 overs. They added 28 runs in the remaining 23 balls to finish on 239/8 as Ross Taylor top-scored with 74 after skipper Kane Williamson had made a masterly 67 in awkward conditions.
Chasing what looked appeared a fairly easy target of 240, India got off to a disastrous start. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kolhi, and KL Rahul were all dismissed after scoring just one run each as the scorecard read 3/5 in the fourth over of the chase.
India never really recovered after that initial burst of great bowling from Trent Boult and Matt Henry. Dinesh Karthik scored a laborious six runs from 24 balls before being dismissed by Henry on the 25th he faced.
Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya stitched together a 47-run partnership that seemed to stabilise the innings. That said, New Zealand made it near impossible for the two flamboyant batsmen to even take singles regularly.
Pant perished while trying to score a boundary off Mitchell Santner. His dismissal was especially disappointing for skipper Kohli who looked visibly upset. Soon, at 92/6, it was down to MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to salvage the situation.
And they nearly did, thanks to a 116-run partnership that brought back memories of the powerful Indian team of a few years ago that set the benchmark for successful chases. Jadeja, who made 77 off 59 balls, was watchful at first, and later hit four sixes to bring India within sight of what would have been a sensational victory.
But he fell trying to force the issue and it again was down to Dhoni to see India through. With 31 required off the last two overs, Dhoni uppercut Ferguson for six over the offside that jolted the crowd awake.
But going for a second run to keep the strike, Dhoni was run out by Martin Guptill's direct hit by mere inches. He looked unusually despondent as he walked off after making for 50 off 72 balls. It was a case of so near yet so far for India as they lost yet another semi-final.
New Zealand made quick work of the remaining two batsmen, dismissing India for 221 to win by 18 runs and three balls to spare. New Zealand will face the winner of the second semi-final, between England and Australia, in the final on Sunday.
2) India captain Virat Kohli said MS Dhoni has not told him anything about his future plans amid speculation that the veteran may call it quits after team's semi-final exit from the World Cup.
Dhoni scored 50 off 72 balls in India's 18-run defeat and the skipper once again came to the veteran's defence on his slow approach during the middle overs. He said, “I think Dhoni had to hold the innings from one end and allow Jadeja to play freely.
He batted in the right way. He has been given a specific role as per the team situation and he played accordingly. They had a 100 run partnership from that situation...we are not denying that we made errors but in hindsight, we can criticize a lot.”
As for the rumours of retirement, Kohli said, “No, he hasn't told us anything as of now.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson had said during his turn with the press that Dhoni's run out was the turning point of the match.
3) Tennis news now, from Wimbledon. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are set to square off in a Wimbledon semi-final blockbuster on Friday, 11 years after their epic 2008 title duel which is widely regarded as the greatest Grand Slam final ever played.
Eight-time champion Federer racked up his 100th victory at Wimbledon and reached his 13th semi-final with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan's Kei Nishikori. The 37-year-old will be playing in the semi-finals of a major for the 45th time. That makes Federer the oldest man to make the semis of a major since Jimmy Connors at the 1991 US Open.
Nadal, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, made the last-four for the seventh time and 32nd at the Slams, by beating Sam Querrey 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. He broke Querrey six times, sent down 10 aces and 44 winners in a convincing display which will give him great hope of beating Federer for the 25th time.
Friday's semi-final will be the pair's 40th meeting and fourth at Wimbledon after Federer won the 2006 and 2007 finals before Nadal swept to his famous 2008 triumph.
Downplaying expectations, Federer said, “We have a lot of information on Rafa and so does he about us. I know people always hype it up in a big way. They did that again in Paris this year (when
Nadal won their semi-final in straight sets). I'd love to play against him here at Wimbledon. But I go about it like every other match.”
Nadal said, “It's great (to be facing Federer at Wimbledon again). It's difficult to imagine to be again in that situation and here we are. I'm excited to play against Roger here at Wimbledon again after such a long time.”
The other men’s semi-final will see four-time champion and top seed Novak Djokovic take on Roberto Baustista Agut, the 23rd-seeded Spaniard who has made the last-four at a major for the first time.
Defending champion Djokovic came back from a break down in the first set to carve out a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over David Goffin of Belgium. In a ruthless display, Djokovic reeled off 15 of the last 17 games to secure a place in the semi-finals of the majors for the 36th time.
Bautista Agut reached his first Grand Slam semi-final with a 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Argentina's Guido Pella.
4) News from Indian football now. Talismanic Indian captain Sunil Chhetri was named the AIFF Men's Footballer of the Year for a record-extending sixth time on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old striker, who has been in peak form in the last couple of years, had also won the honour in 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017. He currently plays for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League.
He is currently the second highest international goal scorers among active players with 70 strikes to his name, behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s 149.
He went past Lionel Messi, who is third in the list with 68 goals, during the 2019 Intercontinental Cup opener against Tajikistan. Chhetri is also the most capped player of the country with 109 matches, ahead of former captain Bhaichung Bhutia, who appeared in 107 matches.
Midfielder Abdul Samad was named the AIFF Emerging Men's Player of the Year. Ashalata Devi was named AIFF Women's Footballer of the Year 2018-19, while Dangmei Grace was adjudged the AIFF Emerging Women's Footballer of the Year 2018-19.
5) Rakhi Halder and Davinder Kaur won a gold medal each in the senior women's section as Indian weightlifters continued their impressive show on the second day of the Commonwealth Championships on Wednesday.
Kaur lifted a total of 184kg to win the women's 59kg gold while Halder clinched the yellow metal with a combined effort of 214kg in the 64kg category.
The Commonwealth Championships are being held simultaneously for the youth, junior and senior categories, and India’s medal tally went up as they won five gold medals in the junior and youth sections. On Tuesday, India had clinched 8 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals.
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