LISTEN: Full script of Episode 124 where we discuss Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul's immediate future, Australian Open results and more
In today's episode, we discuss Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul's impeding inquiry into the sexism episode, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic's progression to third round in Australian Open and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
The immediate future of Indian cricketers Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul remains undecided after the Supreme Court adjourned the much-awaited hearing pertaining to the Lodha Committee reforms.
Pandya and Rahul have been suspended by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) until the culmination of an internal inquiry. However, CoA members Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji continue to disagree over the method and means of inquest. Now, the apex court’s adjournment means that the two cricketers could well miss the first ODI against that will be played in Napier on 23 January. The hearing of the petition in the SC yesterday, which was filed by the Cricket Association of Bihar, was expected to address many issues - ranging from the appointment of an Ombudsman to spelling out a timeline for BCCI elections. Instead, the court ruled that it would proceed with the case only after the appointment of amicus curiae to replace Gopal Subramanium, who left that post recently.
The advocate appearing for the CoA asked that the court direct the appointment of an ombudsman in the BCCI urgently as the fate of two young promising cricketers hangs in the balance.
Regarding reforms in Indian cricket, the court approved the Lodha Committee reforms on 18 July 2016, and despite its clear instructions and amendments in certain suggestions, neither the BCCI, nor any state associations have implemented the reforms. The CoA petitioned the court to bar voting rights of non-compliant states and finalise a timeline for BCCI to conduct elections.
Owners of the IPL team Rajasthan Royals have decided to sell half of their stakes in order to provide a financial boost to the franchise ahead of the 2019 edition of Indian Premier League that begins in late March. Manoj Badale from the UK is the principal owner of Rajasthan Royals.
PTI reported that the current owners approached key BCCI officials to convey their decision to sell around fifty percent of their stakes. A senior BCCI official told PTI on condition of anonymity, “Rajasthan Royals are selling a major part of their stakes and the highest bidder will be getting it. What we have heard is that it is around fifty percent and some of the biggest business houses in the country are apparently interested in buying stakes.” Rumour has it that Sanjeev Goenka, owner of the former IPL franchise Rising Pune Supergiants, is keen on buying the stakes that Rajasthan Royals are selling. Goenka is also the principal owner of the Indian Super League football team ATK. He had bought the Pune franchise for the two IPL seasons when Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were banned after the spot-fixing scandal. The anonymous BCCI source added, “Mr Goenka has always been interested in coming back after he had a fairly good but short stint in the IPL. His team made it to the finals in one of the years. Let's wait and watch how it all pans out.”
A tennis update from the Australian Open now. Serena Williams looked to be on course for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam win after defeating Eugenie Bouchard in the second round. In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic recalled his emotional 2008 Australian Open final against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, prevailing 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Serena Williams, who won her first round match in just 49 minutes, needed only 70 minutes to brush aside the Bouchard 6-2, 6-2. However, she later claimed it wasn’t an easy match. She said, “It wasn't an easy match tonight. So I knew 'Serena, you've got to come out hot, you've got to come out firing, she's a really good player and I haven't had many matches since last year'.”
In contrast, US Open champion and fourth seed Naomi Osaka had a relatively easy outing, against Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek. She won the match 6-2, 6-4. The 21-year-old said, “I thought I served alright, this was my first time playing her and I'm just happy to win to be honest.”
Novak Djokovic, who is chasing a seventh Australian title, had an emotional outing against the man he beat in the 2008 Australian Open final, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Memories of that tense final came rushing back as match began. Djokovic said, “You could feel the tension on court at the beginning. We felt a lot of emotion and tried to play a great game.” However, it wasn’t quite a repeat of the 2008 final, as Djoker eventually won the match easily in three sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.
Women's top seed, and world number one, Simona Halep struggled against American player Sofia Kenin before winning 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. It was Halep’s second three-set match in a row. She spoke candidly after her match, saying, “I have no idea how I won this, it's so tough to explain what happened on court.”
Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat, who won gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Asian Games, becomes the first Indian to receive a nomination in the history of Laureus World Sports Awards. Phogat’s sensational comeback after a long battle with an injury sustained during the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics has earned her a nomination for Laureus World Comeback of the Year.
The 24-year-old wrestler from Haryana has made history as the first Indian athlete to be nominated in one of the seven main categories at the Laureus World Sports Awards. She been nominated alongside athletes like Tiger Woods, who won his first tournament in five years, as well as Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, US ski racing legend Lindsey Vonn and Dutch Paralympic champion Bibian Mentel-Spee.
The last time an Indian sporting feat was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards was back in 2004 when the India and Pakistan cricket teams shared the Laureus Sport for Good Award after playing an International match despite political tensions between the two countries. Most recently, Magic Bus from India won the Laureus Sport for Good award in 2014. However, Vinesh Phogat becomes the first Indian athlete to be nominated in one of the seven main categories.
The Laureus World Sportsman of the Year category will be an intensely contested award this year - nominees include F1 champion Lewis Hamilton, Kenyan marathon world record-breaker Eliud Kipchoge, Novak Djokovic, basketball player LeBron James, as well as footballers Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe.
Laureus World Sports Awards are considered the world’s premier international sports awards. Sports media from across the world select the highest achieving men, women and teams in sport over the calendar year as nominees. The winners are selected by the 66 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy and will be unveiled at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco on 18 February.
Indian cricket legends Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are academy member of the Laureus World Sports Awards. Yuvraj Singh was selected as Laureus' first Indian ambassador in 2017.
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