Firstpost Spodcast Episode 3: Heatwave strikes England, Pune Challenger in threat and more on our daily sports podcast

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost where we do a quick run through of the big sports news of Wednesday.

Today, we’re touching upon the heatwave in England that forced the Indian cricket team to shorten a practice match, an existential threat to the Pune Challenger tennis tournament, farmer protests mark the 16th stage of the Tour De France, and Brazilian winger Malcom, who was headed to AS Roma, is now with Barcelona.

We start with the Indian cricket team's tour of England. The test team is playing a one-off practice match before the first test match against England that starts 1 August. But the match was cut short by a full day, thanks to a heatwave in the UK. Yes, you heard that right, a heatwave in the UK. Talk about omens. This truncated game means the Indian team will head to the venue for the first Test, Birmingham, and a day.

The pitch for the match at the County Ground in Chelmsford is reported to be "lush green", in contrast to the more barren outfield

Groundsman Stuart Kerrison said, "It really has been ridiculously hot. I might put a sprinkler on for seven hours overnight, but within two hours it is dry again. The pitches are tending to get slower and starting to crack."

Some disappointing news for fans of Indian tennis. The Pune Challenger, a major fixture for Indian tennis pros, is in danger of being scrapped after a revamp in the ATP Challenger tour.

Challenger Tour events are the second highest level of competition in men's tennis, after the ATP World Tour. It is a gateway to top-flight tennis.

The ATP announced many changes in the Challenger tour: starting 2019, the singles main draw size will increase from 32 players to 48. The hosts will have to provide hotel accommodation to all main draw players. This will increase the cost of hosting KPIT Challenger for Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association from Rs 1 crore to 1.5 crore.

Tour De France update now: French rider Julian Alaphilippe of Team Quick-Step won Stage 16 of the Tour de France after the race was disrupted for 15 minutes by protesters. Riders, including overall race leader Geraint Thomas, were hit as police aimed tear gas and pepper spray at protesters who blocked the road.

Approximately 30 kilometers into stage 16, a protest by French farmers brought the riders to a halt, with bales of hay thrown onto the road. The protesters were arrested after police used pepper spray and tear gas, which blew into the faces of some of the riders. Some of the riders had to wash their eyes after the incident, which brought the race to a halt for 15 minutes.

In Football news, Barcelona have signed another Brazilian. Winger Malcom had agreed personal terms with Roma, but the Bordeaux midfielder opted to join the Blaugrana instead after the Catalans hijacked his transfer late on. Malcom follows in the footsteps of midfielder Arthur, acquired by Barca earlier this summer from Gremio, and Philippe Coutinho who moved from Anfield to Camp Nou in the January transfer window.

Updated Date: Jul 25, 2018 13:50:34 IST