LISTEN: Full script of Episode 141 of Spodcast where we discuss MSK Prasad's comments on India's World Cup team selection, Paul Scholes' entry into management and more

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The BCCI’s chief selector MSK Prasad said yesterday that Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Ajinkya Rahane are in contention for a place in India's World Cup squad. Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Prasad said virtually all spots have been locked in, barring "one odd" position. The final squad will be decided on April 23.

Prasad called the success and selection of Rishabh Pant a healthy headache. He explained, “The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is the reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible.”

Prasad also praised Vijay Shankar, saying the all-rounder provides a different dimension to the side. He said, “In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skillsets required at this level. We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team.”

The chief selector also hinted that Ajinkya Rahane could be included as the third opener in the squad. Rahane, who last played for India in an ODI in South Africa in February 2018, has been in pretty good form in List A cricket, scoring 597 runs in 11 innings at an average of 74.62, including two centuries and three half-centuries.

Refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi left Thailand on Tuesday after the government dropped extradition proceedings against him at Bahrain's request. That brought to an end a two-month detention ordeal that stirred global outcry.

Araibi, a former Bahraini national youth team player, was granted refugee status in Australia after fleeing charges connected to the Arab Spring protests. He was stopped at Bangkok's main airport on November 27 upon Bahrain's request as he arrived in Thailand for his honeymoon. He was detained in a Bangkok prison pending a court ruling on an extradition request from Bahrain. Araibi claimed he feared he would be tortured if returned to Bahrain. The Australian government has repeatedly called for Araibi's return and the case had become a cause celebre in the football world, with even FIFA urging the Thai football authorities to intervene.

This week saw an about face from the Bahraini government. Chatchom Akapin, director-general of the International Affairs Department at the prosecutor's office in Bangkok, said on Monday, “We have been informed that Bahrain wants to withdraw the (extradition) request... if they don't want him, we have no reason to keep him here.”

On Tuesday, Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight bound for Melbourne.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who had repeatedly urged Thailand PM Prayut Chan-O-Cha regarding Araibi's release, thanked the Thai government for "listening to the issues" raised by Australia. He said, “Now the next step is for him to return home. But as it always is in these cases, people aren't home until they're home.”

Bahrain, on its part, released a statement that said, “The guilty verdict against Mr. Al Araibi remains in place.... (Bahrain) reaffirms its right to pursue all necessary legal actions against (Araibi).”

The post-mortem presented at a hearing in Britain listed Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala's cause of death as "head and trunk injuries".

Sala had signed with English Premier League side Cardiff City and was flying to his new team from his old club Nantes in France when his plane went missing on 21 January.

As per English law, inquests are held to examine sudden or unexplained deaths. They are meant to determine the identity of the deceased, the place and time of death as well as how the deceased came by their death. The wreckage of the plane ferrying Sala was located on the seabed and his body was recovered but pilot David Ibbotson is still missing.

An inquest into Sala's death was opened, and adjourned until 6 November pending further inquiries. The 28-year-old footballer was formally identified by fingerprints.

Former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes was appointed as the manager of Oldham Athletic on Monday.

The club released a statement that said, “Oldham Athletic are delighted to announce footballing legend Paul Scholes as the new first-team manager on a one-and-a-half-year-deal.” Club owner Abdallah Lemsagam said, “Paul has won everything there is to win in football. He is a man who will bring a lot of footballing knowledge and his hunger to succeed in management will be there for everyone to see. It’s no secret how much he has wanted this job in the past and how much he loves this club, so I'm very happy to bring him into our family at Oldham Athletic.”

This is Scholes’ first managerial role. He supported Manchester United as a boy and spent his entire playing career at Old Trafford. The iconic club is having a forgettable season - the team is languishing in the middle of the points table in League Two, the fourth tier of the English game.

In a shocking incident, an Under-23 cricketer from Delhi assaulted the chairman of the DDCA senior selection committee Amit Bhandari.

According to CricketNext, the key accused has been identified as Delhi cricketer Anuj Dedha, who was one of the 56 probables announced by DDCA on 28 January.

Delhi & Districts Cricket Association member Siddharth Verma said, “Dedha was annoyed that he had not been picked for the Under-23 side. He was threatening Bhandari for a few days now. But what's shocking is the way they have attacked Bhandari. We have filed a police complaint already and strict action will be taken against all of them.”

(DDCA) president Rajat Sharma told PTI, “...I have personally spoken to the Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik. The guilty will not go unpunished. I promise exemplary action against whoever is found involved in this misdeed...The goons were pressurising him to select a player, who had failed to get into the U-23 team on merit. Amit claimed that the one man also threatened him with a revolver.”

Delhi's senior team manager Shankar Saini recalled the incident. He said, “A couple of men...went up to Bhandari. There were heated exchanges between Bhandari and the two men. They left...suddenly some 15 men armed with hockey sticks, rods and cycle chains came charging...When the other senior team players attending the trials along with us rushed to save Bhandari, they started threatening us...one of them said, "Don't get into this or else we will shoot you." They attacked Bhandari with hockey sticks and rods and he sustained head injury.”

Nupur Prasad, Deputy Commissioner of Police (north), told the media, “We are looking into the matter and a case will be registered after recording the statement of the victim.”

Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu will reignite their rivalry at the 83rd edition of the Senior National Badminton Championships that begins with the qualifiers today.

The tournament allows the top 8 players, ranked below 50 in the BWF World Rankings as on 18 January in men's and women's singles, to start directly from the pre-quarter-finals following the Super Draw on 14 February.

In the previous edition of the national championships held in 2017, Saina won the final after defeating Sindhu. Given their form, we could have another title clash between the two at this year’s edition. Defending champion Saina, who made a good start to the new BWF season with a title win at the Indonesia Masters, will look to conquer the Nationals for the fourth time, while Sindhu is chasing a third title.

Sindhu finished 2018 with a first time gold at the World Tour Final in December. She reached six other finals, including the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the World Championship. Saina Nehwal made it to four finals last year, and won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.

In the men’s draw, Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy have both skipped the tournament on account of health and fitness issues.

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Updated Date: Feb 12, 2019 12:36:06 IST

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