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The sixth season of the Pro Kabaddi League has reached the last stages. On Thursday, Gujarat Fortunegiants, who have been phenomenal through the season, booked a place in the final after a thrilling victory over UP Yoddha.
In a seesaw of a qualifier where fortunes swung both ways, Gujarat held their nerve and pulled off some stunning raids and tackles to win 38-31. Sachin Tanwar scored 10 raid points while K Prapanjan and Rohit Gulia scored 5 points each to help Gujarat reach their second successive final. Sunil Kumar, Iranian Hadi Oshtorak and Sachin Vittala scored three points each for the Fortunegiants.
The first half was a close affair between Gujarat and UP. Sachin Tanwar scored Gujarat's opening two points, then followed up with another successful raid to make it 4-1. UP countered with successful raids of their own to make it 4-5 with 15 minutes remaining for the first half. A successful tackle by Yoddha brought the scores level scores to 5-5.
However, Gujarat surged ahead after by a successful tackle and an 'all-out' to make it 19-14 at the halfway mark.
After changing ends, Gujarat took control of the match end were soon leading 28-14. UP managed to inflict an all-out to make it 37-24 just three minutes before the end, and even closed the gap to 30-34. But Gujarat stayed ahead to win the match 38-31. The Fortunegiants will face Bengaluru Bulls in the final on Saturday.
In tennis news, last year's finalists of the Maharashtra Open will meet once more in the semifinal this year. 2018 edition winner Gilles Simon and runner-up Kevin Anderson will square off after contrasting wins in their respective quarterfinal matches.
Anderson defeated Jaume Munar of Spain 6-3, 6-3 convincingly to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the tournament. Simon, on the other hand, had a difficult quarterfinal against compatriot Benoit Paire. Paire was serving for the match but Simon broke his serve and took the match to the third set. He eventually won 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
In the other quarterfinals, Steve Darcis of Belgium defeated fourth-seed Malek Jaziri 7-5, 6-2 victory while 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic defeated Ernests Gulbis 7-6(5), 7-6(5).
Indian fans were treated to a thrilling contest in men's doubles. Rohan Bopanna and his partner Divij Sharan saved as many as six match points in an absolutely thrilling match against Leander Paes and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela to qualify for the semifinals.
Asian Games gold medalists Bopanna and Sharan eventually won the match 6-7(4) 6-4 17-15 after an hour and 45 minutes. They lost the first set 6-7 but clawed their way back to win the second 6-4. The Super Tie-Breaker provided a brilliant cliffhanger in which Paes and his Mexican partner had six chances to close the match. The Indian pair defended six match points to make it 15-15, and needed just one match point to win the 24-minute tiebreaker 17-15.
In Premier League news, Manchester City edged past Liverpool to remain in the title race by inflicting The Reds' first Premier League defeat of the season with a 2-1 victory at the Etihad on Thursday.
City's recent shock back-to-back defeats to Crystal Palace and Leicester had allowed Liverpool to amass a commanding lead in their quest to win the first title since 1990.
But the champions now trail Jurgen Klopp's men by just four points thanks to Leroy Sane's winner 18 minutes from time after Roberto Firmino had cancelled out Sergio Aguero's first-half opener for the hosts.
In cricket news, former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has asked Australian fans to show some respect to Virat Kohli after the Indian captain was booed again at the Sydney Cricket Ground when he walked out to bat.
Kohli has received similar treatment from Australian fans in all the Test matches and Ponting, expressed his disappointment at such behavior, as did Australian batsman Travis Head.
Ponting told the media, "If it was booing then it's absolutely disgraceful. I said that in the Perth Test as well. Show some respect."
The Indian captain is no stranger to such reactions - he was jeered by fans in the 2012 Sydney Test during his first tour of Australia. He was also famously docked 50 percent of his match fee for showing his middle finger to the crowd after heckling by some spectators.
We reported yesterday about the passing of legendary Indian cricket coach Ramakant Achrekar.
The man famous as the one who shaped Sachin Tendulkar's near flawless technique with a cricket bat was given a tearful goodbye by his most famous disciple. Tendulkar, along with other cricketers who were coached by Achrekar - Vinod Kambli, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Chandrakant Pandit - took part in the procession to the crematorium, where his body was consigned to flames. Mumbai cricketers like Atul Ranade, Amol Mazumdar, Ramesh Powar, Paras Mhambrey, Ranji coach Vinayak Samant, Nilesh Kulkarni, Vinod Raghvan, were also present along with fans to pay respect to one of Mumbai cricket's most towering figures.
There was a bit of controversy surrounding Mr Achrekar's funeral. There were demands for a state funeral but that did not happen. Maharashtra Housing minister Prakash Mehta, who represented the state government at the funeral, said Achrekar not being given a state funeral was "sad and unfortunate." He said, "It is somebody's mistake and communication gap. I, as a government representative, I'm sorry. This is very sad. I will check what happened."
Ram Shinde, the state's water conservation minister, who also holds charge of the protocol department, told PTI, "Generally, decisions on according someone a state funeral are taken by the CMO. Had I been intimated Wednesday night, I would have certainly taken up the issue and ensured that Achrekar sir got a state funeral. When a public personality dies, the state government, depending upon the situation, decides whether to perform the funeral with state honours or not."
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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2019 12:34:05 IST