Listen: Full script of Episode 44 of Spodcast where we discuss India's Asia Cup win over Hong Kong, Roberto Firmino's late goal and more

Welcome to Spodcast. We’re looking at the big sports headlines of the morning.

India had a nervous start to their Asia Cup campaign as the unfancied Hong Kong team ran them a bit too close for comfort.

Shikhar Dhawan made his 14th ODI century, scoring 127 in 120 balls while Ambati Rayudu scored 60 runs. India scored 285 runs in 50 overs losing seven wickets. They made just 48 runs in the last 10 overs. In reply, Hong Kong finished with 259/8. Opener Nizakat Khan scored 92 runs, sharing a 174-run opening partnership with Hong Kong’s skipper Anshuman Rath, who scored 73. The first breakthrough came in the 35th over as Rath drove a Kuldeep Yadav delivery into Rohit Sharma’s hands.

Hong Kong then lost wickets at regular intervals and finished 26 runs short. Indian bowler Khaleel Ahmed took three wickets on his debut while Yuzvendra Chahal also claimed three wickets.

India take on Pakistan in their second match later on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, wrestler Pinki was a no-show for selection re-trials for the World Championships in October, thereby making way for Ritu Phogat in the 53kg category. Pinki had booked a place for herself in that category at both the Asian Games and the World Championships at earlier trials in Lucknow. She then had a disappointing Asian Games last month after which, according to WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar, they decided to hold fresh trials in the interest of the country.

They also decided to give Ritu, who competes in the 50kg category, a chance to compete in the 53kg category since she had missed out on the Asian Games trials due to a flight issue.

Tomar said, “We have to see the country's best interest at the World Championships. Ritu had missed the Asian Games trials because of (a) delay in her flight from Turkey. She had a good medal chance at the Asian Games too but missed out. And Pinki's performance in Jakarta was not encouraging.”

Pinki lost to Mongolia's Sumiya Erdenechimeg at the Asian Games. National women's coach Kuldeep Malik said he expected Pinki to prove her strength against a wrestler from a lower weight category. A miffed Pinki refused to show up at the re-trials. Malik said, “If she does not want to fight against a wrestler who is in a lower weight category, how will she compete at the Worlds with superior wrestlers?"

Tomar added, “...we did not give Ritu a direct entry...We asked her if she wants to give trials in 53kg, she said yes. We had informed Pinki too but this morning she refused to come for trails. So we have recommended Ritu's name for the 53kg category."

And why is Ritu not competing in the 50kg category? Tomar said the federation did not want to ‘disturb’ Vinesh Phogat who had won gold at the Asian Games.

The World Wrestling Championships will be held in Hungary from 20th to 28th October.

A badminton update, and PV Sindhu made it to the pre-quarter-finals of the China Open World Tour Super 1000 tournament. Sindhu, who is seeded third in the tournament, beat Japan’s Saena Kawakami 21-15, 21-13 in her opening round match.

Sindhu took the first game without much trouble, but Kawakami, ranked 39 in the world, pulled the game back from 0-6 down to make it 8-10 in the second. After the break, Sindhu shot ahead to 15-11 and eventually won the game 21-13.

Meanwhile, Hima Das said the Arjuna Award recommendation was unexpected despite having a great season in international athletics. Das is one of 20 sportspersons recommended for the Arjuna Awards which are awaiting approval from Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.

She said, “I didn't expect to win the Arjuna this year. I was thinking maybe next year I will be considered.”

Hima won the gold medal at the Under-20 World Championships in Finland earlier this year, and then claimed a gold and two silver medals at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

She produced her personal best timing of 50.79 seconds to win silver in the 400m race in Jakarta. Asked about her wins, she said, “The Finland race remains one of my favourites and also the semi-final at Asian Games when it had started raining."

So what’s next for Hima Das? She said, “There are (a) few targets in my mind. I will achieve those one by one. People expect a lot from me now and I will achieve that. I scored 50.79 at Asian Games, so even 50.78 is a step ahead.”

In football news, Roberto Firmino's late strike saw Liverpool win 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain on the opening night of the 2018 UEFA Champions League group stage.

In the other big match of the day, a Lionel Messi hat-trick helped Barcelona get off to a winning start.

Liverpool had an excellent start to the match and were 2-0 up by the 36th minute. Daniel Sturridge scored the first goal while James Milner scored the second off a penalty. But PSG pulled one back after Thomas Meunier scored their first goal. Then, Neymar assisted Kylian Mbappe in scoring the equaliser for PSG in the 83rd minute.

Firmino, on as a substitute, scored Liverpool’s third goal in second minute of stoppage time.

In Barcelona’s game against PSV Eindhoven, Messi scored three goals to complete his eighth Champions League hat-trick, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo. Barca won the match 4-0. Coach Ernesto Valverde said, “Messi makes the extraordinary routine.” Barcelona’s next match is against Tottenham Hotspur, who lost to Inter Milan 1-2.

Updated Date: Sep 19, 2018 11:53:19 IST