Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
Some bad news for the Indian team that is touring Australia. Young Indian opening batsman Prithvi Shaw has been ruled out of the entire Australia series. Shaw, who scored a century on debut against the Windies, was drafted into the team to open for India during the Australia series. But he missed the first two Tests due to an ankle injury. He picked up the injury in the warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI as he rolled his left ankle when taking a catch on the deep mid-wicket boundary and tumbled over the rope.
The team management wanted to give him time till the Boxing Day Test match to recover. The BCCI has now called on Mayank Agarwal as a replacement for Shaw in the series.
With current openers KL Rahul and Murali Vijay unable to cope with the Australian bowling, we could see Agarwal make his Test debut in Australia.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya, who has recovered from a back injury he suffered during the Asia Cup in September, has also been included in the team, and will travel to Australia to join the team.
In other cricket news, it looks like another war of words is brewing between old foes-turned-friends Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds.
Symonds was interviewed by Fox Sports of Australia to mark 10 years of one of the ugliest controversies that hit cricket in 2008. Symonds claimed that Harbhajan had called him a monkey during a Test match between India and Australia in Sydney that year. One of Symonds’ parents is West Indian, which made the allegations very sensitive. Harbhajan has always maintained that he used a Hindi slur, and not the world monkey.
Recalling the aftermath during the interview, Symonds said, “We go to a very wealthy man's place for a barbecue, drinks and dinner one night and the whole team's there and he had guests there, and Harbhajan said 'mate, can I speak to you for a minute out in the garden out the front'...He goes, 'look, I've got to say sorry to you for what I did to you in Sydney. I apologise, I hope I didn't cause you, your family, your friends too much harm and I really apologise for what I said, I shouldn't have said it'.”
He added that Harbhajan was tearful during that apology. He said, “..He actually broke down crying, and I could just see that was a huge weight off his shoulders, he had to get rid of it. We shook hands and I gave him a hug and said: 'Mate, it's all good. It's dealt with.”
Harbhajan dismissed Symonds’ account as he tweeted, “I thought he was a very good cricketer, but Symonds has turned out to be a good fiction writer — he sold a story then (in 2008) and he is ‘selling a story’ now (2018). Mate, the world has come of age in these 10 years and it’s time you also grew up.”
With this turn of events, will we see the Monkeygate controversy flare up again? Symonds has previously spoken about how his life went downhill following ‘monkeygate’. The all-rounder said he felt let down by the overall cricket establishment and resorted to drinking heavily as a coping mechanism. In June 2009, Symonds saw his Cricket Australia contract withdrawn after he was sent home from the World T20 following alcohol-related indiscretions. He recalled, “I suppose this would be the moment where my whole persona to cricket changed. I didn't realise how powerful one player, one incident, how much money was at stake and the ramifications.”
Some football news from the UEFA Champions League now. Liverpool will take on Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in last 16 round of the Champions League. It will be a battle of two great clubs that have both won the League five times each. Liverpool was, of course, the runner-up in the last season, losing to Real Madrid in the final on May 2018.
The club has carried that great form into this season as well, leading the points table in the EPL. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich, under new coach Niko Kovac, have been somewhat undercooked this season in the Bundesliga.
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said, “That's the team of the hour, the league leaders in England, they are playing really good football, very physical, really stepping it up. We are looking forward to it.”
There are some interesting matches coming up in the next round. Beleaguered Manchester United will face a strong Paris Saint-Germain while Manchester City will take on German club Schalke 04. Among the Spanish clubs, Real Madrid take on Ajax, Barcelona will face French club Lyon while Atletico Madrid will play against Italian club Juventus, the new home of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Juventus vice-president Pavel Nedved predicted that it would be a close match. He said, “A very difficult match, with few goals.”
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, who are in great form, will meet Tottenham Hotspur for the second season in a row, having faced each other in last year's group stage. Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke remarked, “...A strong opponent, the chances are at 50-50. The team has top players. We are also strong, it will be interesting,”
The ugly side of the beautiful game showed its face again this week. In the EPL no less. Chelsea supporters were interrogated by police after reports of anti-Semitic chants on a train following a match against Brighton on Sunday.
What’s worse, this particular incident took place three days after the club Chelsea issued a harsh condemnation of supporters who were heard singing an anti-Semitic chant during a Europa League match against Hungarian team Vidi. Earlier, Chelsea had also suspended four people amid a police investigation into allegations of racial abuse aimed at Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling during a league match at Stamford Bridge on 8 December.
Prior to the Brighton game, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck met with traveling fans and made it clear that it was an important day for the club's image, given the recent controversies.
The club described the anti-Semitic chanting in Hungary as ‘abhorrent’, adding that those who "can't summon the brainpower to comprehend" the message that discriminatory remarks will not be tolerated "will face the strongest possible action from the club." In fact, Chelsea's Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, is Jewish.
But that seems to have cut no ice.
Regarding Sunday’s incident, police said, “Three men were spoken to by officers, but at this time no one has come forward to make a complaint.”
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2018 18:37 PM