Gold For Neeraj As India Women Pugilists Shine At Nations Cup
- NEW DELHI: Reigning national champion Neeraj (51kg) struck gold, while three others settled for silver medals as India's women boxers finished commendable 3rd at the 6th Nation's Cup in the Serbian city of Vrbas on Sunday. Haryana-girl Neeraj, who was competing in her maiden international tournament, defeated Kazakhstan's Jaina Shekerbekova to win the lone gold for the country. However, former World Championships silver-medallist Sarjubala Devi (48kg), Priyanka Chaudhary (60kg), Pooja (69kg) and Seema Poonia (+81kg) had to be content with silver medals after losing their respective summit clashes. While Sarjubala went down 3-2 to Russia's Yulia Chumgalakova in a closely-fought contest, Priyanka lost to Kazakhstan's Rimma Volosenko.
- Pooja also fought hard in her clash against Valentina Khalzova but ended up on the losing side for a silver. "I am very happy with how the girls have performed in this tournament. We came here with just about 25 days of training and the girls have done us proud," chief coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu, on his maiden assignment as the national women's coach, told PTI from Vrbas. Seema, who made it to the final without fighting a single bout as her category featured only three boxers, also went down to a Kazakh in Lyazzat Kungenbayeva. India thus finished the event with a gold, four silver and a bronze medal.
- The bronze medal came through former Asian Games bronze-medallist Kavita Goyat, who lost her semifinal contest owing to a knee injury, which might require surgery on return to India. This was the Indian eves' first tournament under Sandhu, who served as the country's chief men's coach for over two decades. India were behind Kazakhstan and Russia in the elite category of the tournament, which also featured schoolgirl, junior and youth division competition.
1st ODI Talking Points : Kohli, Jadhav And a Chase Beyond Epic Proportions
- Against England on Sunday, India gunned down England's massive score of 350/7 thanks to centuries from Virat Kohl and Kedar Jadhav to take a 1-0 lead in the series. With that, not only did India manage to successfully chase a target of or over 350 for just the third time, but also recorded the fourth-highest successful chase in ODI history. We take you through the various passages of play that turned it into an epic encounter England's batting depth in batting comes to the fore That England posted their highest ODI score against India owes to fifties of varied proportions from Jason Roy, Roe Root and then Ben Stokes in the latter-half of the innings. The new rejigged side and a change in format seems to be brought out a newly-discovered confidence.
- Roy looked in marauding form reaching his fifty off 36 balls. That England struck a crucial partnership every time a big wicket went down meant that they never squandered the early advantage provided by Roy at the top. England went in to score 115 in the final 10 overs, while conceded 22 extras that included four no-balls. It was one that summed up a forgettable day in the field for Virat Kohli in his maiden game as India's full-time captain. Ben goes berserk Ben Stokes is a changed man since the catastrophe of the World Twenty20 final last year. He has scored runs and picked up wickets for England in all formats and almost every series ever since. Even in the Test series which England lost, Stokes was one of the better performers for England. In Pune, Stokes who came out at the fall of Root's wicket, and in no time, notched up the quickest fifty by an Englishmen against India (off 33 balls) with two fours and two sixes. But his impact was beyond that.
- Before one could realise, the sixth-wicket stand between Stokes and Moeen Ali yielded 73 runs as England went from 244 for 5 to 317 for 6. Is this the Virat Kohli brand of cricket? Definitely not; at least in terms of bowling. The Kohli-era is one where there is virtually no room for error. So in his first game as India's permanent captain, that is something one would have expected the Indian team to emulate. But instead, India were abysmal on the field. Their groundwork was sloppy and bowling wayward. The two bowlers to bowl their full quota of overs: Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin combined for 129 runs with Bumrah bowling three waist-high full-tosses that were called no-balls; free hits followed. Not just that, Ashwin returned with figures of 0/63 in eight overs - his worst in ODIs in which he has bowled more than five overs. Ashwin's 63 were also the joint-most he has conceded in an ODI without taking a wicket. He conceded only 20 off his first four overs before going for 43 in his next four. England hurt India with quick blows India's pursuit of chasing down 351 was dealt a huge blow when they were reduced to 63/4.
- Openers Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul could score just 9 before falling to David Willey. Yuvraj Singh, on his ODI comeback began well with a six and a couple of boundaries before he offered a faint nick down his leg for Buttler to complete a catch. Then came a poor shot from Dhoni, and a big wicket for England. With Kohli the lone man standing, India's hopes were severely dented. Kohli and Jadhav revive India's chase With Kohli out there, there was hope. But he couldn't have done it alone. Support then came from Kedar Jadhav; the same Jadhav who received an earful from Kohli for throwing his wicket away on debut during the Sri Lanka series in November 2014. Perhaps the thrashing was still fresh in his mind. Hence, not only did Jadhav opt to give Kohli credible support, he even outdid him in terms of strike-rate. The same confidence from Jadhav allowed Kohli to then take center-stage. He had already scored four boundaries and two sixes before Jadhav joined him so resuming the assault wasn't going to be much of an issue. He did so with a six off the part-time of Joe Root; and that opened the floodgates.
- Kohli reached his century with a six but 22 runs later holed out to Willey ending a massive 200-run stand. As Jadhav remained the key, he was hampered by bouts of cramps, but he fought it to bring up his second ODI century off just 65 balls, and India closer to win. He went down playing a pull but followed it with a six and four off Stokes bringing the difference between runs needed and balls left to three. All-round Pandya provides finishing touches On his return to the national side from injury, Hardik Pandya had been the pick of the Indian bowlers on a day where the rest had been hammered all around. He picked up the wickets of Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler after both had gotten off to starts and held on to the all-important catch of Joe Root for 78. Then, at the fall of Kohli's wicket, Pandya walked in and played calculated shots. He saw Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja perish but that didn't bog him down. Pandya scored three vital boundaries and a six to ensure India wiped off the remaining 33 runs.
Indian Hockey Is Back To Top Once Again : Ashley Jackson
- NEW DELHI : Impressed by the resurgence in Indian hockey, British midfielder Ashley Jackson said the country seems to be back among the top with its recent performances. "I think it's safe to say with the senior team's performances over the past four years and the junior team now becoming World Champions under the leadership of coach Harendra Singh, Indian hockey is back to the top of the table once again," Jackson said. "I have spent four-five years playing alongside Manpreet (Singh), Biru (Birendra Lakra) and Kothajit (Singh) who have all grown as players each year. It's also fun to see how some of the younger guys like Mandeep (Singh) and Simranjeet (Singh) are getting on with their game," he added.
- Jackson has been one of the most successful captains in the Hockey India League with his team Ranchi Rays winning the event on two occasions. This year too he is optimistic his team will set its sights high. "I think our expectations are always high because of what we achieved in the past, even last season we had a very successful league campaign finishing 1st by 8 points but came up short in the Semi Finals on shootouts," explained 29-year-old Jackson, who debuted for Great Britain in 2007. "We will set our sights high for this season as I'm sure everyone else will, if we are playing with smiles on our faces then that doesn't look good for all the other teams.
- We have a great group in Ranchi Rays so it's always fun," stated an excited Jackson ahead of his arrival in Mumbai where he will join his team Ranchi Rays for the week-long camp. The Ranchi-based franchise owned by cricketer MS Dhoni will begin its campaign on January 21 against Dabang Mumbai. Apart from hockey, Jackson is an ardent fan of cricket. That he is part of a franchise owned by India's most successful cricket captain MS Dhoni is only an added advantage to his love for the sport.
- "MS Dhoni is a pioneer of the modern game as we know it today, the first of the modern era of cricket, really taking a shot, making it to the next level where it is less about text book technique that they once taught us for hours and hours back home," says the Englishman who has played fair bit of cricket and football during his childhood days. "Dhoni is someone who gets the job done no matter how it looks and entertaining along the way. Having said that I'm a conventional cricketer from back home so I'd settle down to watch Joe Root bat the first three days of a test match any day," he admitted.
Dakar Rally : Stephane Peterhansel Wins Landmark 13th Title
- RIO CUARTO (Argentina): France's Stephane Peterhansel won his 13th Dakar Rally title on Saturday following a tight battle with French Peugeot teammate Sebastien Loeb. The 51-year-old Peterhansel added the 2017 title to his previous six wins on four wheels and his six on two, the first coming in 1991. Along with third-placed Cyril Despres the trio handed Peugeot their first podium sweep since 1990, before the French car maker withdrew from the race to return in 2015.
- Nine-time world rally champion Loeb and Peterhansel dominated the gruelling two-week race winning eight out of a possible 10 stages between them with the former taking five and the later three. Despres also won a stage for Peugeot who took control from the second stage. Earlier Sam Sunderland became the first Briton to win the motorbike section after the heartbreak of being forced to retire from two previous editions.
- The KTM rider secured victory after the 12th and final special, a 64 kilometer (40 mile) race into the Argentinian town of Rio Cuarto. The 27-year-old Dubai-based Briton entered the 2012 and 2014 Dakar rallies but retired each time with mechanical problems. It is the 16th year in a row that KTM have won the motorbike title. The 2016 winner, Toby Price of Australia, pulled out of this year's race during the fourth stage.
PV Sindhu's Chennai Smashers Beat Mumbai Rockets In An Epic Final To Win PBL 2017
- NEW DELHI : Chennai Smashers defeated Mumbai Rockets 4-3 in what turned out to be a classic final to win their maiden Premier Badminton League title at the Siri Fort Complex on Saturday. With both the teams winning two matches each, the final match of the night between Ajay Jayaram of Mumbai and Tanongsak S of Chennai became the title clash. The contest followed the script, stretching to three games as Tanongsak maintained his calm to seal a 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 win. Both teams won their trump matches with Mumbai, the 2016 finalists, launching a superb comeback after they had lost the opening two matches.
- In the opener, Chennai punted on their mixed doubles pair of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock from England as their trump match. They went into the lead at the break after a clever return from Gabrielle made it 6-5 and the pair won a close first game 11-9 in a see-saw battle. But the Adcock pair stamped their authority over the Mumbai pair of Nipitphon Puangpuapech-Nadiezda Zieba in the second game. They were trailing 5-6 at the break, on resumption they outclassed their opponent with lightning speed play, winning six straight points to seal the tie 11-6.
- By virtue of their trump match win, Chennai took an important 2-0 lead. Then in the second rubber, PV Sindhu continued her superb form beating world no 3 Sung-Ji Hyun 11-8, 11-8 to give Chennai Smashers 3-0 lead in the contest. With a capacity crowd backing her to the hilt, Sindhu along with Hyun put up a superb show for the Delhi crowd. That the clash was going to be a thriller was evident from the fact that the first point, which went Sindhu's way came after a 29-shot rally. Quickly, the Indian doubled her lead before the Korean clawed her way back, leveling it at 2-2.
- She then took the lead before Sindhu came back with two consecutive winners, two powerful smashes making it 4-4 and won the next two points as well when Hyun ended up hitting the net. The duo continued to battle with same intensity, producing a marathon rally of 44 shots which went Hyun's way. However, Sindhu prevailed 11-8.