Welcome to Spodcast, the daily sports update on Firstpost.
We begin with great news in badminton this Monday. PV Sindhu won the finals of the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals in China on Sunday. Sindhu, ranked sixth in the world, defeated World No 5, and defending champion, Nozomi Okuhara in straight sets 21-19, 21-17 to clinch that elusive gold medal at a major tournament.
The score line belies the seesaw nature of the match as the two shuttlers pushed each other to the limit. The 62-minute final saw Sindhu take a 14-6 lead in the first game, only for Okuhara to win 10 of the next 12 points to get to 16-16! But Okuhara sent the next two points wide, handing Sindhu three game points. Okuhara saved two of the three game points, but Sindhu won the last one to close out the game 21-19.
The second game also saw Sindhu get to a 6-4 lead, after which Okuhara engaged her in long rallies and equalised the score at 7-7. Right before the mid-game break, Okuhara lost a video referral which saw Sindhu go up 11-9. The Indian stayed ahead of the Japanese shuttler, and at 17-16, Okuhara committed a couple of errors that helped Sindhu get three match points. There was to be no comeback from Okuhara in the second game, and Sindhu converted her first match point to win the final.
Sindhu is the first Indian to win this tournament. The sight of PV Sindhu falling to her knees after the last point, with tears running down her face, will likely become an iconic moment in Indian sports. This win is a big relief to the badminton ace who had faltered in the finals of many tournaments including the Olympics and the Asian Games.
Belgium won the 2018 Hockey World Cup defeating the Netherlands 3-2 in an exciting final that was decided by a penalty shootout.
It was perhaps fitting that the two best teams of the tournament played a goalless draw in the final - the Dutch started off very aggressively in an effort to dominate the match, piling on the pressure in the first and second quarters. However, the Belgians soaked up the pressure and counterattacked after changing ends. The two finalists created plenty of chances to score, but neither side managed to push ahead. Interestingly, Belgium didn’t secure even one penalty corner in the entirety of the match! Netherlands, on the other hand, had two penalty corners but failed to convert either one.
The two teams were goalless after 60 minutes, which meant a penalty shootout would decide the 2018 World Cup. One would have thought that the Netherlands, who had beaten Australia 4-3 in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals, held a slight advantage. But the shootout was level, with both sides scoring two goals from five attempts each. Jeroen Hertzberger and Jonas de Geus scored for Netherlands while Florent van Aubel and Victor Wegnez netted the penalties for Belgium.
Arthur de Sloover took the fifth and final attempt for Belgium, and he was on target. However, Netherlands goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak asked for a referral for a foot, and de Sloover’s goal was withdrawn after TV replays showed the ball did touch his feet while he was pushing it into the net.
That sent the final into sudden death. Van Aubel went first for Belgium and he once again found the net. Jeroen Hertzberger took the shot for the Netherlands but, unfortunately for him, Belgium goalie Vincent Vanasch came up with a brilliant save, his fourth of the night. That save meant Belgium had become world champions.
This is the second big international win for Belgian hockey after the silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Meanwhile, former champions Australia handed England an 8-1 drubbing to win the bronze. Tom Craig scored a hat-trick while Jeremy Hayward struck twice for Australia in the bronze medal play-off. Australia have now defeated England 21 times in 28 matches.
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli became the second-fastest batsman in Test cricket to get to 25 centuries. He reached the milestone in his 127th Test innings, a determined 123 against Australia in the second Test at Perth. Don Bradman, who took a mere 68 innings to get to 25 centuries, is far ahead in first place. Sachin Tendulkar is in third place with 130 innings.
The century at Perth is also Kohli’s sixth century in Australia, equaling the six centuries scored by Tendulkar, the most for any Indian batsman in Australia. When Kohli came in to bat, India were reeling at 8/2. He partnered with Cheteshwar Pujara to first stabilise the innings, then with Ajinkya Rahane to get India to a respectable total. Kohli was eventually out to a controversial catch that looked like it had been grassed. India suffered yet another collapse, with the last five wickets falling for just 32 runs, finishing with 283 in response to Australia’s 326.
2018 has been a phenomenal year for Kohli. He is the 11th batsman to complete 1,000 Test runs in a calendar year overseas, and the third Indian to achieve the mark after Rahul Dravid and Mohinder Amarnath. He is also the first Indian captain to reach the milestone, and the third overall, after Australia's Bob Simpson and South Africa's Graeme Smith.
Spin legend Shane Warne tweeted, “Congrats to @imVkohli on another magnificent 100. A completely different class to any other batsman playing international cricket & on the planet. An absolute joy to watch - well played!”
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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2018 13:15:46 IST