Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
Cricket news first. India thrashed the West Indies by eight wickets in the first ODI in Guwahati yesterday. The West Indies put up a good batting performance on a flat pitch. With Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar sitting out the match, India’s bowling looked innocuous. 21-year-old West Indian batsman Shimron Hetmyer took the attack to India, scoring a quick century. He made 106 from 78 balls, which included six sixes. Opener Kieran Powell scored 51 off 39 balls and skipper Jason Holder scored a brisk 38 from 42 balls. Tailenders Devendra Bishoo and Kemar Roach added some quick runs at the end of the West Indies innings, and the visitors finished with a great score of 322/8 in their 50 overs.
In response, India lost Shikhar Dhawan early. He scored only four runs. Virat Kohli walked in and, combining with Rohit Sharma, set about chasing down the target in double quick time. Kohli was in his element - chasing a large total in a limited overs game. He made 140 from 107 balls, striking 21 boundaries and 2 sixes en route to his 36th ODI century. At the other end, Rohit Sharma was going at a relatively sedate pace, reaching his 20th ODI century in 117 balls. Kohli was finally out on 140, stumped by wicketkeeper Shai Hope off Devendra Bishoo’s bowling. Ambati Rayudu walked in and scored a steady 22 runs. Rohit finished the match in style with a six, bringing up his 150 in the process. He remained not out on 152 as India achieved scored 326 in just the 43rd over.
The next game in the 5-match ODI series is on 24 October in Visakhapatnam.
In hockey news from the Asian Champions Trophy in Oman, India scored their third consecutive win of the tournament after defeating Japan 9-0 on Sunday.
Japan, who won the gold in men’s hockey at 2018 Asian Games, are ranked 16th in the world. India, who are ranked fifth, were the favourites going into match.
They scored their first goal in the fourth minute when Mandeep Singh broke through the Japanese defence. He would score two more goals, in the 49th and 57th minute, to get to a hat-trick. Harmanpreet Singh scored two goals, in the 17th minute and the 21st minute. Gurjant Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Upadhyay and Sumit scored a goal each as the Indian team proved relentless in their hunt for a third win.
India had beaten Pakistan 3-1 in their previous game, and the confidence they gained from that win was on display as they went about dismantling Japan in clinical fashion.
Dilpreet Singh was awarded a yellow card for pushing a Japanese player, reducing India to 10 players. A yellow card in hockey means a temporary suspension for a duration of, at least, five minutes. However, Japan failed to capitalise, and struggled to keep up with India’s frenetic pace.
India’s next match is on 23 October against Malaysia, who beat India in the Asian Games semi-finals before losing to Japan in the finals.
In wrestling news, Bajrang Punia won a tense semi-final at the Wrestling World Championship to earn a shot at the gold in the 65kg category. He defeated Alejandro Enrique Valdes Tobier of Cuba 4-3 in a closely contested match that required all of Punia’s mental and physical prowess.
There were few attacking moves as both Bajrang and Tobier focused on upper body power. Bajrang scored the first points with a takedown but the Cuban wrestler reduced the deficit by pushing the Indian out. Moments before the first break, Bajrang took a 4-1 lead with a throw move. The second period was a stalemate until Tobier found a two-point move at the edge of the circle. The Cuban gave it everything but Bajrang managed to hold on to his slender lead, winning the bout 4-3.
Bajrang won a bronze at the 2013 edition of these games, but will be hoping that his red-hot form this season continues into the final. He won the gold in the same category at the 2018 Asian Games as well as the Commonwealth Games.
A badminton update now. Saina Nehwal, who had defeated Indonesia’s Gregoria Tunjung easily in the semi-final, put up a good fight in the final of the Denmark Open before losing 13-21 21-13 6-21 to world number one Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan.
The intense 52-minute final saw Ying take the first game 21-13 without breaking a sweat. The shuttler from Chinese Taipei was always in the lead throughout the opening game. She wrapped up the game in just 15 minutes. She lost the next by an equal margin. Saina's attacking approach helped her dominate the second game. Her booming cross-court smashes, and some indecision from Tzu Ying, saw Saina take an 11-5 lead at the break, and she won the game 21-13 to draw level.
The third game saw long rallies as Saina seemed to tire. Her unforced errors mounted in the third game and Ying won it 21-6 to win the final.
Sunday’s loss to Ying was Saina’s fifth loss to Ying this year. Ying leads their head-to-head 13-5.
In tennis news, Karolina Pliskova won the WTA Finals in convincing fashion, beating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. The 26-year-old despatched the world number 3 6-2, 6-4 in the finals in Singapore. The victory was sweet revenge for Pliskova, who lost to Wozniacki in the semi-finals at the same tournament last year.
Plisova seemed to be nursing an injury as she played with strapping on her lower right leg. But the world number 8 moved well while Wozniacki looked sluggish. She said after the match, “I felt good from the baseline and it was not all about my serve.” She saved two break points in her opening service game, then won five straight games. Meanwhile, Wozniacki struggled with rhythm in the first set, making several errors. Pliskova broke Wozniacki’s serve twice in the first set, and early in the second set, to win the final.
Some troubling news from the world of cricket. New claims of spot-fixing hit international cricket in a documentary released yesterday.
The Al Jazeera website claimed “evidence, from 2011 and 2012, pointed to a small group of England players allegedly carrying out spot-fixes in seven matches; Australia players in five matches; Pakistan players in three, with players from other teams carrying out spot-fixes in one match.”
The report also alleged that matches which involved such fixing included an England-India game at Lord's; a South Africa-Australia match in Cape Town, and several matches during the England-Pakistan series in the UAE. It claimed, “The files suggest that the suspected fixes were usually carried out by batsmen who agreed to underperform. Some of the world's most famous players were batting when the fixes allegedly occurred. Many of the matches appear to include multiple fixes, making a total of 26 fixes in the 15 matches.”
The International Cricket Council refuted the channel’s accusation that it does not take corruption in the sport seriously, and questioned Al Jazeera’s refusal to share raw footage. Alex Marshall, GM of ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said, “As with the first programme we have and will continue to ask for the cooperation of the broadcaster. We have made repeated efforts to engage with the broadcaster as it can play such a crucial part in the full and thorough investigation it has called for.”
The ICC has been seeking footage of the sting carried out by Al Jazeera since it was first aired earlier this year. It claims to have received no cooperation from the news channel.
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Updated Date: Oct 22, 2018 13:21 PM