LISTEN: Full script of Episode 139 of Spodcast where we discuss confirmation of Emiliano Sala's death; Vidarbha's Ranji Trophy win and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

Thursday brought some closure to the tragic news surrounding Argentinian football player Emiliano Sala. The 28-year-old had been missing since 21 January when a plane carrying him to England disappeared over the Channel. After weeks of searching, the plane’s wreckage was found at the bottom of the English Channel. Yesterday, investigators recovered a body from the wreckage and transported it to Britain for identification. The BCC reported that Dorset Police had confirmed the body as that of Sala.

The police statement said, “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala. The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.”

Cardiff City, the club Sala was set to join, released a statement after the body was identified. The club said, “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”

Even as this tragedy heads towards a conclusion, there were reports this week that Sala's former club, Nantes, had made demands that Cardiff City pay his £15m transfer fee.

Vidarbha defeated Saurashtra by 78 runs to win the Ranji Trophy for 2018-19.

Saurashtra resumed play on the fifth day of the final at 58/5 but were dismissed for just 127, well short of the target of 206.

Vidarbha’s spinners Aditya Sarwate and Akshay Wakhare kept things tight and Saurashtra’s batsmen caved due to the pressure. The two spinners claimed nine of the ten wickets in the second innings as Vidarbha won with two sessions of play to spare.

Sarwate, who was declared Man of the Match, took three of the five wickets that fell on the last day to end with career-best figures of 11/57. He took six for 59 in the second innings. He had also scored 49 runs during Vidarbha’s second dig, a key contribution that helped set a stiff 206-run target for Saurashtra.

This win makes it Vidarbha’s second successive Ranji Trophy title. The team’s talismanic coach Chandrakant Pandit said, “Everyone thought it was a fluke when we won last year and we were under pressure to retain the title. But our focus was process, we never bothered about reputation.” Bowler Umesh Yadav, who has played for Vidarbha since 2008, said, “People did not know where Vidarbha was but it will not be the case now. It is huge for Vidarbha. The team is doing a great job.” Veteran cricketer Wasim Jaffer, who now bats at number four for Vidarbha, said, “I never thought I will win two titles with Vidarbha after playing 10 finals (eight with Mumbai).”

Ajinkya Rahane, India’s vice-captain in Test cricket, will lead the Rest of India side against newly crowned Ranji Trophy champions Vidarbha in the Irani Cup match that will be played from 12-16 February.

Vidarbha, who just defeated Saurashtra in a hard fought final, will be up against a formidable batting line-up. The Rest of India side has more than a few India players in the mix. Besides Rahane, players like Mayank Agarwal, who was instrumental in the series win in Australia, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer as well as fringe players like Ishan Kishan and Krishnappa Gowtham are part of the team. Two Saurashtra players - keeper-batsman Snell Patel who scored a hundred in the just concluded Ranji final, and left-arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja who has taken over fifty wickets - have also been included.

Meanwhile, India’s previous Test opener KL Rahul will lead the India A side in the second unofficial 'Test' against the England Lions at Wayanad.

We reported yesterday about the India v Pakistan Davis Cup tie that has caused some concern in the All India Tennis Association on account of the central government’s policy that Indian cricket teams are not allowed to tour Pakistan.

Now, AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee says he is confident that the national team will travel to Pakistan for the Davis Cup away tie because forfeiture could lead to a two-year suspension from the global governing body ITF.

Following the loss to Italy in the qualifiers, India were relegated to the zone group and were drawn against Pakistan for an Asia-Oceania Zone Group 1 away fixture. Though the cricket team has not been allowed by the Ministry of External Affairs to travel to Pakistan for any bilateral contest since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Chatterjee is confident that would not be a problem in case of tennis. He said, “We are affiliated to the International Olympic Council (IOC). Tennis is an Olympic sport. According to the Olympics solidarity programme, any body, which is under IOC is supposed to participate in all the events. This is the World Cup of tennis.”

Chatterjee added, “Cricket is ruled by an autonomous body (BCCI) and it is not an Olympic sport. It has got nothing to do with it. If we don't go, we will be banned for two years by International Tennis Federation (ITF).”

He also pointed out that Pakistan had recently participated in the Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, and at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati and Shillong. Chatterjee said, “Our Ministry of External Affairs only allowed them to come here and participate in Hockey World Cup and South Asian Games….Similarly, when we apply, they will allow our team.”

Yesterday was 20 years to the day that Indian cricket’s leading wicket-taker, Anil Kumble, etched his name in cricketing annals by becoming only the second man to claim all ten wickets in a Test innings. The achievement was made sweeter by the presence of arch-rivals Pakistan in the opposition camp. The historic figures of 10/74 are an integral part of cricketing lore, especially in India, and also occupy a special place in the storied India-Pak rivalry. The only other man to claim 10 wickets in an innings was Jim Laker of England way back in 1956.

Recalling that day’s play at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Kumble told Firstpost, “I can remember every wicket. The way it happened, it unfolded. I mean it is something that is very very special. So you don't tend to forget that. If you do there are lots of people who are around it who will talk about the ten wickets.”

In 1999, India were playing their first Test series against Pakistan Test in 12 years. They had lost the first Test in Chennai by a tantalizing 12 runs. The second Test in Delhi saw some desperation from the hosts as they hoped to match their counterparts. The tall leg spinner’s perfect 10 came in a spell of 18.2 overs as India celebrated their first Test victory over Pakistan in 23 matches, dating back to 1979-80.

Pakistan were chasing an improbable target of 420, and openers Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar counter-attacked to put up a 100-run stand. After that, it was all Anil Kumble. He induced an edge from the 19-year-old Afridi which went into the wicket-keeper’s gloves. That first wicket triggered a collapse and Pakistan soon went from from 101/1 to 128/6.

The Kotla match is also remembered for Javagal Srinath’s deliberate wider lines to Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis that ensured he left all 10 wickets for his good friend and statemate. Kumble explained, “Sri bowled an 8 or 9-ball over because 2 or 3 of them were wides. There was one opportunity when Sadagoppan Ramesh went really hard to take a catch for Waqar and it fell away from him. I was probably destined, this was just sheer destiny that I got 10.”

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2019 10:53:30 IST