Listen: Full script of Episode 144 of Spodcast where we discuss PV Sindhu's win at Senior Nationals, Shannon Gabriel's apology and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

PV Sindhu sailed into the last four stage at the 83rd Senior National Badminton Championship on Thursday, while Vaishnavi Bhale and Ashmita Chaliha showed superb resilience to book their maiden semi-final spots on an eventful day.

Thursday saw three pre-quarter-finals postponed because of uneven court surfaces at the Assam Badminton Academy. Saina Nehwal, who was up against Shruti Mundada in the pre-quarters, looked at the surface and made it clear she won't risk playing on that "uneven" court with the All England Championship just around the corner.

BAI secretary Omar Rashid postponed the three pre-quarterfinal matches involving Saina, Parupalli Kashyap and B Sai Praneeth to the evening session after consulting the players. The organisers prepared a fresh court on a thick wooden plank on the cement flooring at the TRP indoor stadium for Saina and Kashyap's pre-quarterfinals matches, while second seed Praneeth preferred to play at the adjacent court at the Assam Badminton Academy.

Meanwhile, Sindhu went about her business as usual, beating Riya Mookerjee 21-16, 21-7 in 28 minutes to progress to the semi-finals.
Vaishnavi, who had won the All India ranking tournament in 2015 and finished second in 2016, won 19-21, 22-20, 21-11 in a hard-fought match against third seed Shriyanshi Pardeshi. Local sensation Ashmita Chaliha kept her cool to set up a semi-final clash against Sindhu. The 19-year-old left-handed sensation, who won her first two senior international titles at the Dubai International Challenge and Tata Open International Challenge in 2018, won 16-21, 21-17, 21-19 over Aakarshi Kashyap.

Saina finally walked out to play her match late evening after the organisers managed to prepare a fresh court over a wooden plank at the TRP Indoor stadium.

The Olympic bronze medallist beat Shruti 21-11 21-10 to set up a clash with Neha Pandit on Friday, while her husband and fellow shuttler Parupalli Kashyap, seeded third, beat Rahul Yadav C 20-22 21-17 21-17 in the next match which ended at 11:45 pm. The former Commonwealth Games champion will face young Lakshya Sen for a place in the semis on Friday.

West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel made an “unreserved apology” for his comments to England captain Joe Root during the third test against England in St Lucia as he sought to clear the air.

On Wednesday, Gabriel had accepted a charge for breaching the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct. He has been banned for the first four one-day internationals against England next week.

The bowler issued a statement that said, “The exchange occurred during a tense moment on the field...The pressure was on and England’s captain Joe Root was looking at me intensely as I prepared to bowl, which may have been the usual psychological strategy with which all test cricketers are familiar. I recognise now that I was attempting to break through my own tension when I said to Joe Root: ‘Why are you smiling at me? Do you like boys?’ His response, which was picked up by the microphone, was: ‘Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.’ I then responded: ‘I have no issues with that, but you should stop smiling at me.’”

He also claimed there were no hard feelings between him and Root, and that he viewed the incident as an opportunity to learn the “need for sensitivity and respect in... interactions with all”.

An ISL update now. FC Goa saw a return to form as they thrashed ATK 3-0 on Thursday. Sergio Lobera's team dominated the match, denying the visitors space and time on the ball. Jackichand Singh scored in just the first minute of play while Ferran Corominas scored twice in the second half, overtaking Bartholomew Ogbeche at the top of the Golden Boot standings.

Goa got off to a lightning start, scoring a goal in the very first minute. 53 seconds into the first half, Seriton Fernandes moved forward down the right flank and fed Corominas into the box. The striker found Jackichand who, from the centre of the box, thumped a first-time strike into the net. While Goa went on the rampage in the second half, ATK struggled to keep things under control.
This win takes the Gaurs to second place on the points table, giving them a prime position to clinch a play-off spot. ATK have been left six points adrift of the fourth spot with two games to play, and it is beginning to look unlikely that they will go through.

A mishap on the cricket field involving Bengal fast bowler Ashok Dinda has sparked off calls for the introduction of facemasks for bowlers. Dinda was hit hard on his forehead as he attempted a return catch during a T20 game. The ball was smashed hard straight at Dinda by batsman Birender Vivek Singh. The 34-year-old bowler tried to catch the ball but it slid from his hand and struck his forehead. Dinda lay on the ground after the severe blow and needed immediate medical help.

That incident prompted Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat to suggest the idea of face masks for bowlers so that such injuries can be avoided. He tweeted, “About time that a “face-mask” for bowlers makes its way into all that has evolved in cricket. It’s scary how this kind of incidents have become frequent in our game!”

He found support from spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who tweeted in response to Unadkat, “Been saying it since 2011, these kind of incidences never used to happen in the pre T20 Era. Something has surely changed, wonder what it is.”

Regular viewers will have noticed that umpire Bruce Oxenford started using a shield in international matches in 2016 to protect himself from the speeding ball. It was an innovation in the world of cricket to ensure safety. Given the Dinda incident, it will not come as a surprise to see a bowler's mask on the field soon. Many batsmen started using neck guards following the untimely demise of Phillip Hughes on the field after he was hit on the back of his neck by a speeding cricket ball during a domestic cricket match in Australia.

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Updated Date: Feb 15, 2019 12:18:24 IST

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