Firstpost Spodcast Episode 255: PV Sindhu progresses to second round of Japan Open, Sourav Ganguly surprised over Shubman Gill, Ajinkya Rahane's omission and more

  • Indian badminton players PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy moved into the second round of Japan Open

  • Sharath Kamal, said he hoped the new national Table Tennis coach does not try to reinvent the wheel with just one year left for the Tokyo Olympics

  • Sourav Ganguly said he was surprised to not see Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in India's ODI squad for West Indies tour

Indian badminton players PV Sindhu and HS Prannoy moved into the second round of Japan Open with contrasting wins over their respective rivals in the women's and men's singles events at Tokyo on Wednesday.

Fifth seed Sindhu, who faltered in last week's Indonesia Open final, took 37 minutes to get the better of unseeded Chinese player Han Yue 21-9 21-17 and set up a clash against Aya Ohori of Japan.

In the men’s draw, eighth seed Kidambi Srikanth’s poor run of form continued. He crashed out after suffering defeat at the hands of compatriot Prannoy, who stunned the higher-ranked Srikanth 13-21 21-11 22-20 in a match that lasted 59 minutes. Srikanth, who holds a superior head-to-head record against Prannoy, started well, clinching the first game 21-13. However, the unseeded Prannoy came back strongly, taking the second game 21-11. The decider went down to the wire with Prannoy having the last laugh. He will face Rasmus Gemke of Denmark in the second round.

In men's doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty defeated the English pair of Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge 21-16 21-17 to enter the second round.

Italian rider Matteo Trentin used a solo attack to win Stage 17 of the Tour de France after pulling clear of a group of breakaway riders.

It was Trentin's third career stage win at the Tour, but first since 2014. He rode at the front for most of the stage after taking part in a breakaway that formed just after the start of the 200-kilometer hilly ride from Pont du Gard to Gap.

Several top-class riders featured in the break, including eight former stage winners. They collaborated well and opened a lead of more than 14 minutes with 50 kilometres left after a much-welcome shower thoroughly rinsed the peloton on another hot summer day.

Trentin, the European champion, moved clear of the leading group about 14 kilometres from the finish at the bottom of the Col de la Sentinelle. He was first at the summit and went all out in the downhill leading to Gap. Kasper Asgreen finished second 37 seconds behind, with Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet completing the top three.

Trentin said, “I was scared of Asgreen and I was right because he finished second after getting a free ride in the break. His tactic was to wait and wait, and so I went for it because he's also strong on the climbs and fast in a sprint.”

Despite the result, there was no significant changes in the overall standings as Trentin and his breakaway companions were not a threat. Julian Alaphilippe of France has the yellow jersey, with defending champion Geraint Thomas in second place overall.

In the final stage before three decisive days at high altitude, the hilly trek to the foothills of the Alps was the last opportunity for riders without ambition in the general classification to fight for a stage victory.

One day after Sports Authority of India (SAI) confirmed that Dejan Papic will be the new Table Tennis coach of the India, the country’s senior most paddler, Achanta Sharath Kamal, said he hoped the new national coach does not try to reinvent the wheel with just one year left for the Tokyo Olympics.

Sharath said, “We are growing and we have found a system. The new coach will have to make changes within the existing system. Because if he tries to put in place a new system this close to the Olympics, things might go haywire.”

India’s previous coach, the long-serving Massimo Costantini, had quit after the Asian Games last year citing personal reasons. Under him, India had made rapid strides with historic performances at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games, where the country ended a 60-year-wait for a table tennis medal.

Sharath explained, “It is very difficult to coach India because it is such a huge country. It will take a while for the coach to understand the system and the players. Our main focus will be the Olympics...We have been working with or without a national coach. I have done it for 15 years, (Gnanasekaran) Sathiyan has been doing it, Manav (Thakkar) is also learning because it's an individual sport. The coach can help us but we need to work on ourselves individually. So I think we need to come to terms with the coach and he also has to come along with us instead of trying to create a new system. He can do that after the Olympics. He needs to follow the existing system.”

Speaking about the improvements India have made in table tennis, Sharath said, “We have improved tremendously since the last Olympic games. In 2016, in the men's team event, we finished 25th and now are world number's because of the system created by the Table Tennis Federation of India, UTT and SAI that we have been able to build a strong team…”

In cricket news, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly said he was surprised to not see Shubman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane in the squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series against West Indies.

Ganguly tweeted, “There are many in the squad who can play all formats ..surprised not to see Shubman gill ..Rahane in the one-day squad...Time has come for Indian selectors to pick same players in all formats of the game for rhythm and confidence.. too few are playing in all formats ..great teams had consistent players's not about making all happy but picking the best for the country and be consistent.”

On Sunday, India had announced the squads for the upcoming T20Is, ODIs and Test match series against West Indies. Many people expressed their displeasure over the omission of Shubman Gill from the squad as the player has been in good form, scoring 218 runs in the recently concluded five-match unofficial ODI series between India A and West Indies A.

After India’s exit from the World Cup, former BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale had backed Ajinkya Rahane, saying, “In my opinion, the Indian team needs a batsman like Ajinkya Rahane at number four. We have tried many options at the batting position for the past three months. We tried those batsmen who did not have a good record overseas. Rahane has always scored good runs in England.”

Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara called time on his international career, finishing as the third highest wicket-taker among his country's pace bowlers after Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga.

Importantly, Kulasekara was one of Sri Lanka's heroes during their victorious 2014 World T20 campaign in which he took eight wickets in six matches at an economy rate of 6.42. Kulasekara was ranked as the No 1 bowler in March 2009 ICC rankings and his career-best ODI figures of 5 for 22 came in 2013 against Australia in Brisbane.

For Indian fans, their biggest connect with Kulasekara would be MS Dhoni hitting him for the World Cup-winning six at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011.

The 37-year-old Kulasekara took 199 wickets in 184 ODIs and 66 wickets in 58 T20 matches in a career spanning more than 15 years. He also played 21 Tests for the island nation, taking 48 wickets. He last represented Sri Lanka in an ODI against Zimbabwe at home in July 2017 and hasn't played any competitive match since March 2018.

Updated Date: Jul 25, 2019 13:04:43 IST