LISTEN: Full script of Episode 147 of Spodcast where we discuss IPL 2019 schedule, Caster Semenya case and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

The Indian Premier League announced the schedule for the first two weeks of the 12th edition of the tournament on Tuesday. The IPL will begin on 23 March in Chennai with a match between old rivals CSK and RCB. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings, who were crowned champions on their return to the IPL after a two-year suspension, face three-time runners-up Royal Challengers Bangalore in the tournament opener. The rivalry between the two southern Indian teams is popularly dubbed as 'Kauvery Derby'.

That opening game will be followed by the first double-header of the season - Kolkata Knight Riders hosting Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens, and Mumbai Indians facing the revamped Delhi Capitals at Wankhede Stadium.

CSK had a fairytale return last year. They lifted the title for the third time under MS Dhoni's captaincy, defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets in the final. Rajasthan Royals, the other team returning from a two-year suspension, managed to reach the playoffs under Ajinkya Rahane.

With growing speculation that the India-Pakistan World Cup match could be in trouble following the Pulwama terror attack, the International Cricket Council yesterday announced it does not foresee any change in the schedule of the mega event.

We reported yesterday that former India player Harbhajan Singh had hoped India would call off their 16 June match against Pakistan in Manchester.

But ICC's CEO David Richardson clarified that there is no indication as of now that the match will be cancelled. He said, "Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this terrible incident and we will be monitoring the situation with our Members. There is no indication that any matches at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup will not go ahead as planned."

Speaking about Harbhajan's opinion, a senior BCCI official said, "Harbhajan had shared his point of view but he didn't clarify what happens if we are again pitted against them in semi-final or suppose final. Does that mean that we will be forfeiting World Cup semi-final or final? So we are all talking about hypothetical situations. For the record, India played Pakistan in a World Cup game in England in 1999 edition when Kargil War was at its peak."

In the wake of the Pulwama attack, many affiliated cricket associations and units have removed photos and portraits of Pakistani cricketers. One of the oldest, Cricket Club of India, led the way by covering a portrait of Pakistan PM Imran Khan. Punjab Cricket Associations and Rajasthan Cricket Association also removed pictures of Pakistani players.

Pakistan will not participate in the ISSF Shooting World Cup in New Delhi after a top official of their national federation confirmed that its marksmen had not been issued visas by the Indian High Commission.

Pakistan's National Rifle Shooting Federation President Razi Ahmed told PTI, "We were supposed to fly out by Wednesday morning as the championship begins from Thursday but we were not issued visas today so the visit is as good as off...I was a bit worried about getting the visas after the Pulwama incident and our fears have come true. It is disappointing that our shooters will not get a chance to try to qualify for the Olympic Games." A source in the federation confirmed that one of the shooters was also a Pakistan Navy Personnel. Razi said Pakistan had applied for visas for the two shooters, G M Bashir and Khalil Ahmed, in the rapid-fire category as the event in New Delhi also serves as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.

On Monday, the National Rifle Association of India claimed that it had received confirmation from the Indian High Commission that visas were granted to the two Pakistan marksmen and one manager, but in the end, that did not happen.

The ISSF event, which starts at the Dr Karni Singh Range on Thursday, offers 16 quota places for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Naomi Osaka crashed out of her first match since the Australian Open. The world No 1 committed 25 unforced errors that resulted in her exit from the Dubai Championships on Tuesday.

Dubai-based Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic defeated Osaka 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round. She took barely an hour to beat Osaka, breaking her serve as many as seven times. She said, "This is my home tournament, I live here. It's great to get a win like this in front of a big crowd. Beating the number one is always special."

Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova won their opening matches, while Elina Svitolina made a strong start to her bid for a third straight title. Kvitova, the 2013 winner, recovered from a first-set tiebreak loss to defeat Katerina Siniakova to win 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4. Halep, the champion in 2015, defeated 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 7-6, 6-4.

Another former world number one, Angelique Kerber, also advanced after defeating Dalila Jakupovic 7-6, 6-3.

Caster Semenya appeared on Monday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland at the start of a landmark hearing to challenge the rules proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
The double Olympic 800 metres champion said on Tuesday that proposed rules that would oblige her to lower her testosterone levels "do not empower anyone".

IAAF's controversial measures would force so-called "hyperandrogenic" athletes or those with "differences of sexual development" (DSD) to seek treatment to lower their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount if they wish to continue competing as women. Semenya released a statement that said she believes "she and other women affected by the regulations should be permitted to compete in the female category without discrimination" and that they should be "celebrated for their natural talents as are all other athletes with genetic variations."

On the other hand, the IAAF said, "If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength and increases in haemoglobin that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women."

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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2019 13:30:17 IST

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