Firstpost Spodcast Episode 251: Indian cricket team's selection meet postponed, PV Sindhu reaches Indonesian Open quarters and more
In today's episode, we discuss postponement of Indian cricket team's selection meet, PV Sindhu's performance at Indonesia Open, India's gold rush at shooting Junior World Cup and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, where we take a look at the day's big sports headlines.
In cricket news, India's national selection panel meeting to pick squads for the West Indies tour has been pushed to Sunday amid intense focus on skipper Virat Kohli's availability and veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni's future.
The meeting was scheduled for today but was postponed following Committee of Administrators' directive that the chairman of the panel, instead of BCCI secretary, will convene it.
A senior BCCI official said, "There are some legal modalities that need to be followed due to the rule change and it took some time. Also the BCCI's cricket operations team needs to apprise the chairman of the availability of the captain for the meeting. The fitness reports of the players will be available on Saturday evening."
One issue that is likely to be debated is the availability of Virat Kohli, who has been on the road for a while. There is a school of thought that the skipper could be rested considering the long domestic season ahead, which begins in September, and in this scenario Rohit Sharma could be handed captaincy for the shorter formats. However, with the two Tests against the West Indies being part of the ICC Test Championship, Kohli could well be included in the Test squad. A similar approach could be taken for pacer Jasprit Bumrah.
The MSK Prasad-led panel will also look at restructuring the middle-order, the failure of which was one of the primary reasons for India's exit from the World Cup. It is expected that picking the middle-order could lead to the biggest debate as the panel has a few choices among Karnataka's Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey and Mumbai's Shreyas Iyer, who has been knocking the doors after scoring heavily in domestic cricket. They may also consider talented young Punjab batsman Shubhman Gill. It could also be the end of the road for the Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav, both of whom failed to perform in the World Cup. Younger bowlers like Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini are also likely to be considered for inclusion.
Importantly, 38-year old MS Dhoni, whose finishing abilities with the bat have been on the wane, would be the centre of discussion amid speculation that the former captain is contemplating retirement even though he hasn't mentioned it. Dhoni's selection or omission would be an indicator of things to come in the future. India are set to play 3 T20s, 3 ODIs and two Tests in a full-fledged tour to the Caribbean islands, starting August 3.
The ICC has suspended Zimbabwe Cricket with immediate effect for violation of global body's constitution which doesn't allow any government intervention.
The current elected members of Zimbabwe board were suspended by government agency Sports and Recreation Committee (SRC) which was in violation of articles 2.4 (c) and d.
The ICC's statement said, "Zimbabwe Cricket has been suspended with immediate effect. The ICC Board unanimously decided that Zimbabwe Cricket, an ICC Full Member, is in breach of Article 2.4 (c) and (d) of the ICC Constitution which imposes an obligation on Members to provide a process for free and democratic elections and to ensure that there is no government interference in its governance and / or administration for cricket respectively."
ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar said, "We do not take the decision to suspend a Member lightly, but we must keep our sport free from political interference. What has happened in Zimbabwe is a serious breach of the ICC Constitution and we cannot allow it to continue unchecked."
The ICC has directed that the elected Zimbabwe Cricket Board be reinstated to office within three months, and progress in this respect will be considered again at the October Board meeting. As a consequence of this suspension, ICC funding to Zimbabwe Cricket will be frozen and representative teams from Zimbabwe will not be allowed to participate in any ICC events.
Indian Premier League franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad have appointed England's World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss as their head coach. He replaces former Australia cricketer Tom Moody at the helm of the side. Bayliss will relinquish his responsibilities with England after the Ashes against Australia in August and September.
Bayliss had previously coached the Kolkata Knight Riders from 2012 to 2015, when they won two IPL titles.
The statement by SRH said, "After very careful consideration, the Sunrisers franchise has decided to take a new direction with the Head Coaching role and will be parting ways with the services of Tom Moody. Trevor Bayliss, England's 2019 World Cup-winning coach, has been appointed Head Coach of Sunrisers Hyderabad. Trevor has already won 2 IPL trophies with KKR and has also won the Big Bash League and Champions League with Sydney Sixers. He is a proven winner and we feel that his successful track record will be ideal in taking Sunrisers Hyderabad forward."
Tom Moody was appointed SRH coach in 2012 and led the team to the playoffs in 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2019, and a title win in 2016. He thanked the players, support staff and fans following the announcement.
Meanwhile, England's director of cricket Ashley Giles had said in February that they are almost certain to have one coach in charge of their Test, ODI and T20 teams after Bayliss completes his stint.
In badminton news, PV Sindhu fought hard to progress to the women's singles quarterfinals at the Indonesia Open while Kidambi Srikanth lost in the second round of the men's singles event.
Sindhu, seeded fifth, had to dig deep into her reservoir of experience as she slogged it out for 62 minutes to beat unseeded Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark 21-14 17-21 21-11 in a second-round encounter.
The start was far from impressive for Sindhu as Blichfeldt took a 6-3 lead before the Indian got her act together to draw level. From that point on, Sindhu raised her game gradually and relied on her long reach and smashes to pocket the first game 21-14. The second game was a tough fight between the two shuttlers but Blichfeldt made a strong comeback to take a 9-5 and then a 10-7 lead. Sindhu then pocketed three straight points to level the scores at 10-10. But the tenacious Blichfeldt meant business as she took full advantage of Sindhu's unforced errors to clinch the second game and draw level. The decider, however, turned out to be a one-sided affair as Sindhu got her composure back and ran away with the game, winning by a 10-point margin.
Sindhu recorded her third win over world no. 13 Blichfeldt this year. She had earlier defeated the Dane in straight games in the Indian Open and the Singapore Open. Sindhu will next face third seed, Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the last-eight round.
Later in the day, eighth seed Srikanth was stunned by NG Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong 17-21 19-21 in a 39-minute second round contest.
Extending India's domination at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany, Sarabjot Singh shot a 239.6 to bag the men's 10m air pistol gold, winning the country's ninth yellow metal at the event on Thursday.
Sarabjot, who had earlier in the year struck gold in the same event at the Asian Championships in Taoyuan, was the only Indian to qualify for the final with a score of 575, finishing fifth in the qualification round. In the eight-man final which followed, 17-year-old Sarabjit made a sedate start. He was initially third and fourth before picking up pace from the seventh shot of the 24-shot final. He had stiff competition from his Chinese opponents as he shot a mediocre 8.4 in his 19th shot, which narrowed down his lead. Sarabjot then finished strong to win by almost two points.
His win meant that India swept both the men's and women's 10m air pistol crowns with 14-year-old Esha Singh winning the women's event on Wednesday. After six days of top class shooting and with one day to go, India remain on top of the medal standings with nine gold, nine silver and four bronze for a total of 22 medals.
Britain's Simon Yates won stage 12 of the Tour de France on Thursday, beating two other survivors of a mass breakaway in the Pyrenees.
Simon, twin brother of Mitchelton Scott captain Adam Yates, is the Vuelta a Espana champion. He also led the Giro d'Italia earlier in 2018 before a meltdown under pressure from eventual champion Chris Froome.
Simon Yates is over an hour adrift in the overall standings, but punched the air in joy after outwitting his rivals to add this Tour de France stage to victories in the Vuelta and Giro. Yates came over the final climb with Bora's Gregor Muehlberger and Astana man Pello Bilbao, but launched a long-range sprint for the line to win by a clear bike length.
Cameras on the distant peloton showed Adam Yates, connected by radio to his team car, smiling.
The two brothers come from Bury in Lancashire, where ex-England football internationals Gary and Phil Neville grew up. Simon said after the stage, "I'm here to help Adam, he's doing well and is ready...But I'm really happy with this win, I got the green light to go from the team and timed it well. But now it's back to the day job. I'm here to help Adam get the best result."
Meanwhile, defending champion Geraint Thomas and overall leader Julian Alaphilippe finished the slog over two tough climbs together as a top 10 shake-up failed to materialise. As an interesting aside, third placed Egan Bernal appears to be the darling of Colombia as increasing numbers of reporters from the South American nation arrived in anticipation of the 22-year-old pulling off something special.
Sindhu doesn't train with the rest of the Indian Olympic-bound team. She has been training at the Gachibowli indoor stadium in Telangana and does her fitness training at Suchitra academy.
India to play limited-overs series against Sri Lanka with squad of white-ball specialists, says BCCI's Sourav Ganguly
Big names such as skipper Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma will not be part of the tour as they will be engaged in a marquee five-match Test series in England.
"All attempts were made by the organisers and BWF to provide a safe tournament environment for all participants, but the recent surge in cases left no choice but to postpone the tournament," Badminton World Federation said in a statement.