Firstpost Spodcast Episode 250: PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth impress at Indonesia Open, Hima Das wins gold at Tabor Athletics Meet and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

Badminton news to start the podcast today. PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth made impressive starts to their campaigns at the Indonesia Open, progressing to the second round with contrasting wins at the BWF World Tour Super 1000 tournament on Wednesday.

Rejuvenated after a month-long break from a hectic BWF schedule, Sindhu and Srikanth prevailed over Japanese shuttlers Aya Ohori and Kenta Nishimoto in women's and men's singles respectively. Sindhu, who is seeded fifth in the tournament, is looking for her first title of the season. She staved off a challenge from Ohori, coming back from a game down to win 11-21, 21-15, 21-15 win. Yesterday’s win made it her seventh straight victory over Ohori. The world No 5 will face Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt in the next round.

Eighth seed Srikanth, who had entered the finals at India Open this year, beat Nishimoto 21-14, 21-13 in 38 minutes on Wednesday. It was Srikanth's fifth win over Nishimoto, who had defeated the Indian only once in their six meetings. He will face Hong Kong's Ng Ka Long Angus in the second round. Meanwhile, B Sai Praneeth, who had reached the Swiss Open final this year, bowed out of the competition after losing 15-21, 21-13, 10-21 to Hong Kong's Wong Wing Ki Vincent, an opponent against whom he had a 2-2 head-to-head count before the match.

The search for a head coach for the Indian cricket team picked up some pace yesterday. The Committee of Administrators running Indian cricket has tasked the Kapil Dev-led ad-hoc committee to pick the next national coach, a move that could again divide the Supreme Court-appointed panel.

The ad-hoc body comprising former India captain Kapil Dev, Anshuman Gaekwad and Shantha Rangaswamy had earlier appointed WV Raman as the Indian women's team coach in December.

One of the members told PTI that the BCCI approached them to pick the men's head coach as well. Back then, the COA was a two-member panel — comprising chairman Vinod Rai and former India captain Diana Edulji, who had called the women's coach selection process unconstitutional. She had argued She that only the Cricket Advisory Committee (or CAC) was empowered to do so. But with serious doubts over the future of the CAC — comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman — the COA thought it prudent to hand the responsibility to the ad-hoc panel.

While Tendulkar has been cleared of conflict of interest charges, Ganguly and Laxman have been asked to choose one out of their multiple cricketing roles as per the BCCI’s constitution. The COA, however, is yet to take a call on the matter.

Interestingly, Kapil Dev and Shantha Ranagsawamy also fall in the ambit of conflict of interest as they are also responsible for the formation of the players' association as per the new BCCI constitution.

An update on Tour de France now. Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan picked up his first Tour de France stage win in a mass sprint at Toulouse on Wednesday as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe retained the overall lead.

Ewan timed his explosive burst to perfection, catching and overtaking Dutch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen right on the line after a long home straight. It was a narrow win with the photo-finish, which takes thousands of shots a second from both sides at the finish line, showing a marginal victory. Elia Viviani was third on a finish designed for the pure sprinters. In his first season with the Lotto-Soudal team, Ewan has now won stages on all three Grand Tours after three wins on the Giro and one on the Vuelta. The 25-year-old said, “It took me half the Tour de France to get my win, but I got it in the end. I let him go, caught his wheel and just had him on the line.”

Sprint points leader Peter Sagan of Slovakia kept his green jersey after finishing fourth behind Ewan. Meanwhile, defending champion Geraint Thomas and his Ineos teammate Egan Bernal also finished in the pack, meaning there was no change in the overall top three after a 167km run from Albi to Toulouse. There are two major mountains on in stage 12 with yellow jersey holder Alaphilippe vowing to defend his lead. He said, “It won't be easy tomorrow, there will be attacks, and it will be a big day on the Tour, but I'm up for it.”

In football news, Manchester United thrashed Leeds 4-0 in pre-season friendly match on Wednesday while Manchester City came from behind to beat West Ham United 4-1.

United led 2-0 at halftime after goals from Mason Greenwood in the seventh minute and England striker Marcus Rashford, who was named man of the match, in the 27th. Paul Pogba's pass split the Leeds defence and Aaron Wan-Bissaka's first-time cross was prodded home by Greenwood to open the scoring. Phil Jones, left unmarked on a corner kick, powered a header into the back of the net in the 51st minute. And then, Anthony Martial's 69th-minute penalty completed the scoring as Manchester United pulled of a very convincing 4-0 win over a largely clueless Leeds for their second consecutive victory on a preseason tour. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said, “The squad is strong, today just shows we have strength in depth, young players coming through and pace up front.”

Team officials said United striker Romelu Lukaku did not play Wednesday's match due to a training injury, while goalkeeper David De Gea was ill.

Manchester United will play Inter Milan in Singapore on Saturday, then Tottenham in Shanghai on 25 July. They conclude their five-match preseason tour against AC Milan in Cardiff on 3 August.

The other Manchester club, City, had a good friendly game against West Ham United. Raheem Sterling scored twice while Record Manchester City signing Rodri made his debut in a match that saw the Premier League champions come from behind to beat West Ham United 4-1 in Nanjing, China.

West Ham took the lead with a Mark Noble penalty before City levelled through David Silva, then Lukas Nmecha scored from the spot to give Pep Guardiola's side the half-time lead.

Then, England international Sterling, who enjoyed his best season last year for club and country, scored a brace in the second half as West Ham's defence went AWOL.

Spanish international midfielder Rodri joined City earlier this month on a five-year deal from Atletico Madrid. The 23-year-old officially became a City player a day after the La Liga club revealed the 70-million-euro release clause in his contract had been triggered.

Meanwhile, star Indian sprinter Hima Das clinched her fourth gold of the fortnight as she won the 200m race with a creditable time in the Tabor Athletics Meet in Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Hima won in 23.25 seconds though the race had a mediocre field with most of the competitors representing clubs of Czech Republic. Nonetheless, she is inching closer to her personal best of 23.10,

Hima's compatriot VK Vismaya was second with a season best 23.43.

This was 19-year-old Hima's fourth gold since 2 July when she ran her first competitive race in Europe. She has been keeping on improving since her first race.

Updated Date: Jul 18, 2019 14:04:17 IST