India Vs England, 3rd ODI : England Win Last-Ball Thriller; India Take Series 2-1
- NEW DELHI : With the series already a lost cause, England picked Kolkata's Eden Gardens as the venue to break their victory drought in India since that dreadful World T20 final as they beat the hosts in a nail-biter by five runs on Sunday. India needed 16 runs from the final over in chase of 322. Kedar Jadhav blasted the first two balls for a six and a four but Chris Woakes kept his cool to have him out caught for 90 (75b) and eventually hold India to 316/9. India won the series 2-1 and England found a much needed confidence before the three-match T20I series beginning next week. It was at this venue where Ben Stokes was left holding his head after conceding six fours to hand West Indies WT20 trophy. For two deliveries on Sunday, it seemed the dreadful night had returned to haunt Eoin Morgan's team but this time, they managed to end on the winning side and thus recorded their first victory on the tour having already lost a five-match Test series 0-4 last year.
- England posted their third successive 300 plus total after being sent in and yet again India were devoid of a solid start meaning the middle order was exposed much earlier to their liking. It was a dead rubber alright but Virat Kohli must have looked to iron out the only flaw in his team, when it comes to batting, seems to have - a dependable opening pair. Ajinkya Rahane (1) replaced Shikhar Dhawan in the playing XI and at the opener's slot but failed. David Willey let slip a swinging delivery between his defenses to clatter the stumps. India lost an early wicket in yet another big chase. KL Rahul (11) too disappointed when his attempt to play a non-existent pull resulted in a top-edge after he had raised hopes with a six and four. At 37/2 in six overs, it fell to captain Kohli and the middle order to take control of the chase. With last match centurion Yuvraj Singh in tow, Kohli went about his business passing a nervy phase during which he was beaten and dropped on 35. The relatively livelier and bowling friendly track made it a tad difficult for the Indian pair to get into their grooves quickly with the England bowlers finally finding the discipline that eluded them in the first two matches.
- However, a little deviation in line or length resulted in punishment - Kohli unfurling his trademark whiplashes down the leg side and majestic cover drives to settle nerves. With a couple, he reached his half-century that was peppered with eight fours. But this was a pitch that suited England's bowling and Stokes was the beneficiary when Kohli edged one to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler at 55. That brought Yuvraj and MS Dhoni together, the stars of India's recovery in Cuttack. Six overs later, Moeen Ali lured Yuvraj into a flick that flew to Billings at midwicket boundary which ended his promising knock at 45. By 32nd over, England had also knocked down Dhoni and with a cushion of 148 runs to defend, they were the favourites. But Jadhav and Pandya gave England another scare as they engineered an excellent recovery to raise a century stand for the sixth wicket, hitting half-centuries apiece. It was two consecutive fours off Woakes from Jadhav that signaled the revival in the 39th over. Pandya, who was wildly swinging his bat for nothing before, managed a top-edge in the next over that flew over third man for a six.
- Between 39th and 45th over, the duo wiped out 66 runs off the target and the equation became a manageable 47 off 30. But such has been the template of the series that a straightforward win has been hard to come by. So, Pandya was cleaned up by Ben Stokes for 56 and Ravindra Jadeja dazzled with two fours in a row before departing. Jadhav exploded at the end but it wasn't enough as his tilt at clearing the ropes off the penultimate delivery was cut short by Billings at deep point. This was after a late surge led by Stokes and ably supported by Woakes powered England to 321/8. Stokes scored a quickfire 57*, his second fifty in three ODIs and Woakes struck a 19-ball 34 to negate India's timely strikes which once threatened England's hopes of a big total. With the pitch slightly on the greener side, it was expected to assist the bowlers early on and the India new ball pair of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pandya got enough movement to plant doubt in the mind of England openers. With each swing and a miss, a wicket looked an increased possibility but bowlers strayed often to hand timely release as well. Despite Jason Roy and his new opening partner Sam Billings successfully laid a solid foundation worth 98 runs with the former hitting his third successive half-century of the series.
- The closest he came to claim a wicket was when Bairstow's upper-cut went straight to the third man but replay showed Bumrah had bowled a front foot no ball. To rub salt on his wounds, Morgan sent the next delivery soaring over the ropes for a six. Morgan and Jonny Bairstow steered the innings forward at a steady pace and were not averse from going for expansive shots when they saw a hint of an opportunity. Unfortunately for Morgan, who carried his excellent form from Cuttack to Kolkata with two fours and three sixes, he flicked one from Pandya to be caught for 43 - a lucky break for India and Pandya as he broke the partnership that had resulted in 84 runs at run-a-ball. Buttler failed again to be out for 11 but there was no respite for India. Bairstow, who successfully reversed a caught behind decision, went on to complete a strokeful fifty before becoming Pandya's third victim. Stokes and Woakes then combined for a late flourish, taking advantage of unmanned boundaries for easy fours. Bhuvneshwar bowled an expensive second spell to leak 35 runs in three overs. 26 of those went to Stokes who raced to a 34-ball fifty. Woakes' handy cameo in a 73-run partnership in just 6.4 overs helped England finish with yet another 300 plus total.
Swafford Claims First PGA Win In 93rd Start
- LOS ANGELES : Hudson Swafford finally joined the winner's circle Sunday, firing a five-under 67 for a one-stroke victory at the PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge. The 29-year-old American birdied three of his last four holes to claim his maiden USPGA Tour win in his 93rd Tour start. He compiled a 20-under 268 total to finish one stroke ahead of Canada's Adam Hadwin, who closed with a 70, one day after storming to a 13-under 59 in the third round at the La Quinta Country Club near Palm Springs, California. Bud Cauley and Brian Harman both shot 69s and finished in a tie for third at 18-under 270. Swafford is in his fourth year on the Tour and had never finished higher than a tie for eighth. In five previous starts this season his best finish was a tie for 13th at last week's Sony Open.
- Beginning the day two shots off the lead, Swafford got off to a rocky start with a bogey at the par-four No. 1 before stringing together five straight pars. Swafford then caught fire with a burst of three straight birdies to close out his front nine. On the par-four seventh, he hit his approach to five feet from the hole then easily made the short birdie putt. After making birdie on the par-five eighth, he drained a 14-foot putt for birdie on the par-four ninth. The win comes with some nice perks, as Swafford is now qualified for the Masters, the Players Championship, the Dean and Deluca Invitational, the Memorial, the PGA Championship and the 2018 SBS Tournament of Champions.
- Third round leader Hadwin was also in search of his first PGA Tour win but his two-under 70 left him just shy of victory. On Saturday, the 29-year-old from suburban Vancouver became the first Canadian shoot a 59, leaving him one stroke off the Tour record 58 fired last year by American Jim Furyk at the Travelers Championship. He birdied two of his final three holes Sunday to finish at 19-under 269. Of the nine players to card a 59 (or better) on tour, Hadwin is the fourth who failed to win the event. Dominic Bozzelli, who grabbed the first-round lead with a 64, finished in fifth place at 271, closing with a 71. Brendan Steele (70) and Chad Campbell (71) tied for sixth place at 272. Scott Stalling (66) took eighth at 273, and Sean O'Hair (69), Richy Werenski (70) and Scotland's Martin Laird (69) all came in at 274, tied for ninth.
Ogier Wins Season-Opening Monte Carlo Rally With New Team
- MONACO : Sebastien Ogier made the perfect start to the defence of his world title by winning the season-opening Monte Carlo rally on Sunday, clinching the 39th race win of his career and first for his new team. The 33-year-old Frenchman, who also won Monte Carlo in commanding style last year, won what he considers his favourite race for the fourth straight year. Over snow and icy roads in the French Alps, he finished 2 minutes, 15 seconds ahead of Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala and about 3 minutes clear of Estonia's Ott Tanak, who held on despite being hampered by engine problems. Ogier, who has won the past four world titles, is looking to become only the second driver to win five.
- Countryman Sebastien Loeb holds the record with nine, all won consecutively. Last month, Ogier announced that he was leaving Volkswagen to drive the Ford Fiesta for M-Sport this season, and he had only minimal practice time to get accustomed to the car before this race. Overnight, he led Tanak by 47 seconds and Latvala by 2:20. He was given some unexpected help, however, when Belgian driver Thierry Neuville sustained a puncture on Saturday's last stage when he was in the race lead, which meant that Ogier moved up into first place. Despite finishing third in Sunday's first stage - which was won by Spaniard Dani Sordo - Ogier padded out his lead over Tanak to nearly one minute.
- With Tanak struggling with engine problems and incurring a time penalty, Ogier was even further ahead after stage 15, which featured the climb to the 1,604-meter summit of the iconic Col de Turini. Tanak dropped down to third and Latvala moved into second. Stage 16 was cancelled for safety reasons because there were too many spectators, leaving just the final power stage. Neuville salvaged some pride by winning it to claim five bonus points and climb up to 12th overall, having drifted down to 15th after Saturday's mishap. Neuville will look to bounce back at the next event in the 13-race season, which is in Sweden in three weeks. On Thursday night, a spectator was killed after being hit by a car. Organizers said the spectator was struck by a car driven by New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon during the first of Monte Carlo's two night stages.
Fit-Again Saina Nehwal Lifts Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold
- SARAWAK (Malaysia) : Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal notched up her first title after a career-threatening injury by claiming the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold with a hard-fought victory in the summit clash on Sunday. Up against 18-year-old Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong, the top-seeded London Olympics bronze-medallist triumphed 22-20, 22-20 in a 46-minute clash. This was her 23rd title overall and the first after last year's Australian Open. The 26-year-old world No.10, who had been desperately looking for a title that boosts her confidence after recovering from a knee surgery last year, was squaring off against a rival ranked more than 50 places below her at 67th.
- The two were meeting for the first time in the circuit and Saina was on the backfoot in the opening game when Chochuwong reeled off four consecutive points to grab the early initiative. Chochuwong maintained the advantage going forward and was placed 11-5 at the break. However, Saina narrowed the gap to make it 10-13 before drawing level at 19-19 and then saving a game point. Chochuwong could not handle the pressure thereafter as Saina drew from her experience to clinch the opening game after a 20-minute slog.
- In the second game as well, Chochuwong was quicker off the blocks with a 3-0 lead but this time Saina did not leave it for too late and took the lead at 7-5. The Thai teenager, however, drew level at 8-8 and 11-11 but Saina did not allow her to clinch the momentum. The Hyderabadi remained in the lead, albeit slender, before blowing away four match points to help Chochuwong draw level at 20-20. But the Indian managed to get over the hiccup and wrap up the issue soon after for what would be a massive morale-booster for her.
Trai May Suggest Aadhaar eKYC For Outstation SIM Buyers
- NEW DELHI : Telecom regulator Trai is likely to recommend to the Department of Telecom (DoT) that Aadhaar-based eKYC be allowed even for outstation customers who want to get a mobile connection in a particular service area. Further, the regulator may suggest that the existing mobile subscribers in the country should be encouraged to go in for Aadhaar-based eKYC verification, for which telecom service providers could offer incentives like free data or talktime. The facilitation of Aadhaar-driven eKYC for the existing customer base will ensure proper verification of subscribers and address the security concerns pertaining to fake or bogus mobile connections, according to sources.
- It will also rid telecom operators of the hassle of keeping physical customer verification paper documents which could get damaged or misplaced in the long run. However, Trai is of the view that since eKYC verification cannot be mandated per se, a proper programme should be evolved by the telecom department in consultation with telecom service providers (TSPs) to nudge the existing subscribers to go for Aadhaar-based eKYC. It feels that the same should be done in a phased but time-bound manner. While Trai is in favour of telecom operators offering sweeteners so that people come forward for eKYC, the regulator is not likely to specify exact incentives.
- It may be recalled that in August last year, the government allowed application, validation and activation of new pre-paid and post-paid mobile connections using Aadhaar card and fingerprint at the point of sale. The e-KYC has made the process of application and authentication faster and simpler for new subscribers. Besides easing the verification process and enhancing security, the move has cut down the time for new SIM activation as against the previously lengthy document-based process of applying for a mobile connection.