LISTEN: Episode 127 of Spodcast where we discuss Virat Kohli's sweep at ICC Awards, Rahul Dravid's take on Pandya-Rahul controversy and more

  • Virat Kohli swept the individual honors in the awards announced by International Cricket Council on Tuesday

  • Rahul Dravid weighed in on the controversy surrounding Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul.

  • South Korea defeated a belligerent Bahrain to book their quarterfinal slot at the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Welcome to Spodcast, where we cover the major sports headlines of the day.

Virat Kohli swept the individual honors in the awards announced by International Cricket Council on Tuesday. He was named ICC Men's Test Cricketer of the Year, ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Year, and the Men's Cricketer of the Year. The annual awards are selected by the ICC Voting Academy that is comprised of former players, members of the media and broadcasters.

The Indian skipper was named captain of the ICC’s Test and ODI teams of the year, a testament to the Indian team’s domination in both the formats. The ICC statement said, “...Virat Kohli named captain of both sides following a remarkable 2018 as batsman and skipper.” The ICC Test team also features two other Indians - wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah. Kohli ended 2018 as the top-ranked Test and ODI batsman while India finished the year as the top-ranked side in Tests and number two in ODIs. On receiving the honour, Kohli told the media, “I feel grateful and very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing. Having recognition at global level from ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”

Former cricketer Rahul Dravid weighed in on the controversy surrounding Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. The current India-A and Under-19 coach told the newspaper The Hindu, “It is not that players did not make mistakes in the past. It is not that mistakes will not be made in the future despite our best efforts to educate the youth. But let us not over react please.” Dravid, who is widely known for his erudite personality and highbrow demeanor in cricketing circles, is also responsible for mentoring the youngsters in the Under-19 and the India A squads. He explained, “It's not that I've not enjoyed myself or (not) gone out. But when you represent your country and people recognise you, fortunately or unfortunately, there are responsibilities that come with that recognition. So you've got to lay down those rules for yourself.”

The BCCI‘s Committee of Administrators plans to conduct behavourial counselling programmes for all cricketers at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. Speaking about this, Dravid said, “Players come from different teams and their roles of responsibility need to be addressed. Issues will always be there and we have to educate and guide then. They should be told they can’t abuse the system. I learnt from watching seniors in Karnataka, from parents and coaches. They were my role models. No one sat me down and gave me a lecture. I observed and learnt. The best learning process happens in the dressing room from your seniors. But we should not over-react.”

Indian cricketer Mithali Raj said on Tuesday that she has moved on from the controversy surrounding her falling out with former coach Ramesh Powar and CoA member Diana Edulji.

Not too long ago, the women's cricket team was at the centre of a controversy following a semi-final exit from the T20 World Cup in the West Indies. Mithali had accused Powar of bias, and Edulji of trying to finish her career. Yesterday, speaking before the start of the series in New Zealand, she said, “What has happened has happened, I have moved on. Cricket has taught me to move on whether it's scoring a hundred or getting out on zero you have to be prepared for the next game, you need to tune in for the next day.” She added, “As professional cricketers, everyone understands what it takes to play international level, we are here to represent the country and want the team to play as a unit and get the best result.”

The women’s team will play three ODIs and three T20s during their tour of New Zealand. Mithali stressed on the need to bring focus back to cricket and said winning in New Zealand would help in that direction. She said, “This is what as international athletes and cricketers we look forward to, and I'm looking forward to the series because it is very important to get back the focus on the sport and on the team performance and this is a great opportunity.” She added that as captain and the most experienced player in the team, she would bring the players together. She said, “Right now all of us are in a good form, Smriti, Harmanpreet or young Jemimah - all are amongst runs. We also have a good middle order in Hemlata and Deepti Sharma. All of them have played a match-winning performance for the team. They won't look on me completely but yes as an experienced batter I do have a responsibility to get the batting unit to perform.”

Some news from the Australian Open now. Rafael Nadal continued his quest for an 18th major title while Petra Kvitova made it to her first Grand Slam semi-final since the knife attack that nearly destroyed her career.

Nadal, seeded second at the Open, beat unseeded American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in a ruthless display. In fact, Nadal has not dropped a set so far in this tournament. He looks in ominous form as he seeks to win a tournament he has won just once before. Tiafoe made the headlines after defeating fifth seed Kevin Anderson, but provided little opposition for Nadal. The Spanish star said after the match, “I had some trouble at this event all my career, so I'm very happy with the way I played tonight...I feel lucky to be where I am.”

Czech player Petra Kvitova has struggled to get past the last eight at a major tournament after a burglar slashed her left hand in December 2016. That incident left her with lasting nerve damage in the fingers of her racquet hand, even forcing her out of the game for six months. However, Kvitova, seeded eighth, has bounced back and is currently on a sensational 10-match unbeaten streak including a title win at the Sydney International. She defeated Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-4 in an emotional win yesterday that left her in tears after she qualified for a semi-final after what seems like ages. She said after the match, “...I didn't imagine to be back on this great stadium and play with the best. I'm calling it as my second career. So it's the first semi-final of the second career. I'm really enjoying it.”

5) Some football news now, first from the EPL. Cardiff City's record new signing, striker Emiliano Sala from Argentina, is missing and presumed dead after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel. His flight vanished from radars around 20 kilometres north of Guernsey on Monday night. French civil aviation authorities confirmed that 28-year-old Sala “was on board the plane”, and there was apparently another passenger as well.

A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island off the coast of France, said the pilot had requested to lower his altitude shortly before air traffic control in neighbouring Jersey lost contact with the plane. A search was conducted but was called off on Monday because of high winds. The search resumed, with two helicopters, two planes and a lifeboat trying again on Tuesday morning.

Guernsey police issued a statement saying, “So far over 1,000 square miles have been searched by a total of five aircraft and two lifeboats. There has been no trace of the aircraft. The search is continuing.”

Neither Cardiff nor Nantes have commented publicly on the disappearance, but Nantes have postponed their French Cup match against Entente SSG on Wednesday. Nantes fan group 'A La Nantaise' released a statement calling for supporters to gather in the centre of the city for a vigil in the evening.
Sala was to move from Nantes after Cardiff signed him for 17 million euros.

An update from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup now. Qatar overcame jeers and abuse to set up a quarterfinal clash with South Korea.

As AFP put it, “Qatar beat Iraq 1-0 in a full-blooded contest to reach the Asian Cup quarter-finals.” Qatar’s football team have been at the receiving end of repeated abuse from spectators during the tournament due to the long-running Gulf blockade of the oil-rich country. But that only seemed to spur the Qataris on. Bassam Alrawi curled a free kick into the Iraqi goalpost to score the only goal of the match in the 62nd minute.

That made it four wins in four games for Qatar, who have had a politically charged tournament.

Meanwhile, South Korea defeated a belligerent Bahrain to book their quarterfinal slot. Hwang Hee-chan scored in the 43rd minute, but Bahrain hit back as Mohamed Al Romaihi equalised in the 77th minute. The game was then evenly matched for nearly half-an-hour until Kim Jin-Su scored in the 107th minute. Korean captain Son Heung-min said, “It was a tough game...It's all about attitude as well, and I'm a bit unhappy with our performance...I think we're better than that.”

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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2019 12:35:22 IST