Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sindhu defends Macau Open title!

Two-time World Championship bronze medallist P V Sindhu lifted her first title of the season by successfully defending the USD 120,000 Macau Grand Prix Gold trophy after seeing off Kim Hyo Min of Korea in the women's singles finals, here Sunday. 

World No. 11 Sindhu prevailed over 91st-ranked, Kim 21-12 21-17 in the summit clash that lasted 45 minutes at the Tap Seac Multi-sport Pavilion here. 

The bronze-medallist at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Sindhu faced tough competition from Kim, who had come into the finals after beating seventh seed Chinese Yu Sun but the experienced Indian held her nerves to stave off the challenge from the Korean. 

Kim started off on an aggressive note and found the gaps easily to lead 3-0. Sindhu slowly started to decode her rival's game and not only clawed back at 6-6 with deceptive net play but led 7-6. 

Kim wriggled her way out of difficult situation with the help of her back hand returns but she faced resistance from the experienced Sindhu, who used her smashes to notch up winners and entered the interval 11-8 up.

Sindhu dominated the long rallies after the break and caught Kim at the forecourt twice. She also earned points with her soft taps to rush to 19-9 when Kim failed to return a net shot.

The Korean earned a couple of winners with her cross court returns but Sindhu soon reached the game point after making Kim run to four corners of the court. The Indian then clinched the opening game in 20 minutes with a sharp return which Kim couldn't negotiate.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Sindhu storms into Macau Open final!

Leading woman shuttler P.V. Sindhu entered the women's singles final of the $120,000 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold, registering a comprehensive win over Thailand's Busanan Ongbumrungpan here Saturday. 

Defending champion Sindhu had a facile 21-14, 21-15 win over the World No.23 in 42 minutes at the Tap Seac Multisport Pavilion here. With this win, the Indian World No.11 also extended a 5-0 lead in career meetings.

Busanan tried her best but she failed against the two-time World Championships bronze medalist Indian, who played aggressively. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Phillip Hughes: The showstopper is no more!

The Baggy Green Cap 408 is now history. It belonged to someone who was humble, kind and generous. He was an artist whose inimitable bold brush strokes made Australian cricketing canvas look bright and dazzling.

But, on Thursday the artist walked into a silent land where no one can go with him hand in hand.

The cricketing world has come to a standstill; cricketers are left in a state of shock and fans across the globe are mourning the death of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes.  

Hughes was felled by a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday and after a 48-hour battle, the talented southpaw who had the world at his feet breathed his last.

The phrase, "for the love of the game” is referred to the passion that athletes have for the sport they play. Far away from the playing arena, the usual impression created in one's mind is that of sportspersons spending most of their time honing their skills, often sacrificing life's simple joys.

No matter whom they represent - club or nation, every athlete plays the sport to win. But, despite such dedication, the very saying "for the love of the game" isn't uttered to refer to athletes who have lost their lives while playing the sport they love.

Sadly, encountering death while playing a sport is an unfortunate fate. And when Hughes collapsed on Tuesday afternoon, the world had only hoped he cover-drives death away and springs back to life. However, with just three days shy of his 26th birthday, the world was left devastated as both a nation and the game lost a dear son. 

His friend, Alan Jones said that Hughes had wished to score his 26th first-class century to coincide with his 26th birthday. Alas it was not to be...

Australia is heartbroken. The showstopper is no more.

Rarely has cricket united hearts. But on the saddest day, players across nations shared the pain, cried in sorrow as a pall of gloom descended on the cricketing world.

It wasn't the first ever bouncer bowled in the history of the game. The likes of Mike Gatting (Nose broken), Andy Lloyd (Hit in the temple), Rick McCosker (Broken jaw), Nari Contractor (Skull fracture), Ahmed Shehzad (Skull fracture) had serious injuries but recovered after undergoing surgeries.

Even Hughes was expected to come back. Everyone thought it was a matter of time. But little did the world knew that Hughes was running out of time.

The blow to head is not new and can happen to any cricketer. A pull and a miss. Timing was the key. But Hughes was just a fraction late and that meant it was too late. When the clock stopped at the SCG, the scorecard showed Hughes was unbeaten on 63 and Hughes will forever remain so.
The news came as a bolt from the blue as twitter was flooded with condolence messages. And while the entire world is still weeping, another young man is in a complete state of distress.

In 1975, England's Peter Lever almost killed New Zealand's Ewen Chatfield. After Chatfield was brought back to life, Lever said, "I felt sick and ashamed at what I had done, and all I could think when I got back to the pavilion was that I wanted to retire."

If Lever could feel that, imagine what Abbott must be feeling now. We can't, none of us can. He must have been broken, inconsolable.

Just a month ago, both Hughes and Abbott made their T20 debut together in Dubai against Pakistan. They shared the same dressing room, shared high-fives. Each one plied their own trade. Hughes with the bat and Abbott with the ball.

After six weeks, both Hughes and Abbott were back to the same business. Although, this time they were pitted against each other, they were out in the middle doing what they both love to. Playing cricket.

But catastrophically, a single delivery shook the world, with Hughes leaving the world with a task to fulfill. To take care of Abbott. He did no wrong. He is not guilty. He is not at fault. Neither of them were. 

 Cricket lovers are left mourning the loss of Hughes, Abbott is left with a double blow to deal with - to come in terms with the loss of his dear friend and to survive from the nightmarish replays of that one single delivery which will  haunt him for the rest of his life.

From Michael Clarke to Ricky Ponting, the whole of the Australian side stood beside Hughes bedside with a prayer on the lips. The players were hoping for a miracle.

They all joined hands, stood by each other, kept vigil on their dear Hughesy but alas this time the little champion couldn't hang around, the battle was lost.

Soon flags flew at half-mast at cricket grounds in Australia, a day's play between Pakistan and New Zealand was suspended, well wishers left bouquets, players bowed heads in prayer and tears welled the eyes of Australian players who filed out of the hospital after bidding farewell to their beloved team-mate.

The journey of a young man who became the youngest to score a century in each innings of a Test has ended. It's time for his family to gather strength and spend the rest of their lives with fond memories as the pallbearers will soon carry the coffin of 25-year-old Phillip Joel Hughes.

Cricket, sometimes, is cruel. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Messi sets Champions League goals record!

  Barcelona forward Lionel Messi set a Champions League scoring record of 74 goals when he netted a hat-trick in Tuesday's 4-0 Group F win at APOEL Nicosia.  The Barca and Argentina captain surpassed the record of 71 he jointly held with former Real Madrid and Schalke 04 striker Raul when he put his side 2-0 ahead shortly before halftime. Luis Suarez too netted his first goal in the Barcelona jersey on Messi's big night. The 27-year-old added two more goals in the second half to complete his 31st career treble, his fifth in Europe's elite club competition and the first in which he has scored all three with his less-favoured right foot. ​'I am pleased to have achieved such a nice record in such a nice and important competition but the really important thing is the three points,' Messi said in a television interview. ​His achievement is the latest milestone in a stellar career and comes three days after he broke the six decades-old La Liga scoring record with a hat-trick in Barca's 5-1 home win over Sevilla. Messi overhauled former Athletic Bilbao striker Telmo Zarra’s tally of 251 goals, set in 1955, and has 253 in 289 league games for the Catalan club he joined as a 13-year-old. Messi's 74 Champions League goals came in 91 appearances, while Raul needed 142 for Real and Schalke 04 for his 71. Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who ended Messi’s four-year run as World Player of the Year in 2013 with his second award, has scored 70 Champions League goals in 107 matches. Barca had already qualified for the Champions League last 16 along with group leaders Paris St Germain, who won 3-1 at home to Ajax Amsterdam. Barca need to beat the Ligue 1 side when they meet at the Nou Camp on Dec. 10 to secure top spot. 'We will try to keep going in the same way and meet the objectives we set ourselves at the start of the season,' Messi said.

'The PSG match is going to be tough. They have some very good players and they are a team who are growing and improving all the time. 'But we are playing at home so we'll try to play a great match and finish first in the group.'

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth Win China Open Titles!

 Kidambi Srikanth beat home favourite Lin Dan of China to record the biggest win in his career and win the prestigious China Open Super Series men's singles title. Saina Nehwal had earlier won the women's title by beating Japan's Akane Yamaguchi in straight sets. 

Kidambi Srikanth recorded a rare feat by an Indian when he beat home favourite and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan (21-19, 21-17) to win the China Open Super Series tournament on Sunday. This was the biggest win of his career so far.

The 21-year-old from Andhra Pradesh showed nerves of steel to produce a dominating performance which helped him see off five-time world champion Lin 21-19 21-17 in the men's singles final which lasted 46 minutes here.

Srikanth, who won the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold last year, had finished runners-up at the 2014 India Open Grand Prix Gold event in Lucknow and was a quarter-finalist in this year's Malaysian Open.

He was also a part of the Indian badminton contingent that reached the semifinals of the mixed team event at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

This is the first time any Indian male shuttler has won a Super Series Premier event ever since the Super Series and Premier tournaments were introduced.

India completed a rare doubles in singles at the China tournament after Saina Nehwal's win in the women's section earlier. Saina beat Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 21-12, 22-20 in her sixth appearance at the China Open. Saina has now moved to number five in the world rankings.

While Srikanth took 46 minutes to bring Lin Dan down, Saina's women's singles final lasted 42 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sport Center.

This is Saina's third title of the year as the Indian had won the Australian Super Series in June, besides clinching the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold early in the year.

In her sixth appearance in the prestigious tournament, Saina had to draw from her reservoir of experience to stave off the challenge of the athletic Akane.

In the opening game, Saina led 3-1 early on and extended it to 8-4. She lost few points due to miscued strokes but the Indian managed to go into the interval with a four-point lead with the help of an angled stroke and down the line smash.

Saina controlled the shuttle and the pace of the game and forced her young rival to commit errors, opening up a healthy 14-7 lead.

Akane showed sparks of brilliance but it was not enough to threaten Saina, who moved into game point with a delicate net shot and then a disguised return to earn the bragging rights.

Akane produced a better performance in the second game. The 17-year-old was quick on her legs and bothered Saina with her straight smashes to enter the break with a slender 11-9 lead.

The closing moments of the second game turned out to be nerve-wrecking as both the shuttlers engaged in aggressive rallies before the experienced Indian clawed her way back at 14-14.

Saina mixed her strokes well to dominate the rallies but she still found it difficult to find a chink in the Japanese's armour who returned everything that was directed at her.

At 18-18, Saina earned a point with a disguised net shot but the Indian hit one long and then missed another point to allow Akane to close in at 20-19. However, a couple of long shots by the Japanese swung the match other way, sealing the title in the Indian's name.

Kohli ton completes whitewash!

India skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with a smashing unbeaten century to guide his team to a three-wicket win in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI), clean-sweeping the series 5-0 at the JSCA International Stadium here Sunday.

On a day of captains, Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews hammered a brilliant 139 not out to guide the visitors to a challenging total of 286/8 after electing to bat. However, despite a few hiccups, Kohli's knock of 139 not out off 126 deliveries -- his 21st ODI ton -- guided India home with eight balls to spare.

After hitting his first ODI century, Mathews gave Sri Lanka a brilliant chance in the match as he bowled Indian openers Ajinkya Rahane (2) and Rohit Sharma (9), who hit a world-record 264 in the previous match at Kolkata, with the score reading 14/2 in the fifth over.

In come Ambati Rayudu (59) and man of the series Kohli who joined hands to strike an important 136-run third-wicket partnership to stabilise the reeling Indian ship. Rayudu hit a smooth half-century, which included eight boundaries and a six, with Kohli giving him good company.

However, a terrible misunderstanding led to Rayudu's run-out with India's score at 150.

Ajantha Mendis' spin became a mystery for Indian batsman as the 29-year-old made a brilliant turnaround for the visitors, giving them a real chance to salvage a win.

Mendis took the wickets of Robin Uthappa (19), debutant Kedar Jadhav (20), Stuart Binny (12) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0) to turn the tables on India with the target suddenly looking monumental with their score at 231/7.

Kohli, however, slowly kept the run-flow going and finally found support in left-hander Axar Patel (17 not out).

Once he got the support he needed, the stand-in India skipper hit a flurry of sixes and boundaries and the target kept getting closer and closer till Kohli hit a six to win the match -- and clean-sweep the series.

Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start with opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) in punishing mood.
Debutant Niroshan Dickwella (4) was the first to be dismissed in the fifth over. The visitors suffered another setback in the next over as the dangerous Dilshan was sent packing by the innocuous medium-pace of Binny.

Sri Lanka lost some impetus after Dilshan's dismissal and lost further ground following two more quick strikes by India.

Wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal's (5 runs off 31 balls) struggle at the crease was brought to an end by Patel, who picked up two wickets.

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene's (32) blossoming innings came to a pre-mature end as Sri Lanka slumped to 85/4 after 18.3 overs.

Man of the Match Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne (52) got together and stitched a 128-run stand for the fifth wicket to bring the islanders back in the game.

The Sri Lanka skipper smashed 10 sixes on way to his maiden hundred and, thanks to his blitzkrieg at the fag end of the innings, the visitors managed to score 73 runs off the final five overs despite losing three wickets.

Dhawal Kulkarni picked up three wickets but received some stick from the Sri Lankan batsmen, conceding 57 runs off his eight overs. Patel and Ashwin chipped in with two wickets each while Binny took one.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saina in China Open final!

Leading Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal notched up a thrilling straight-game win to enter the women's singles final of the $700,000 China Open Super Series Premier here Saturday.

The Olympic bronze medallist defeated Chinese Liu Xin 21-17, 21-17 in 47 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sport Center to take a 2-0 lead in career meetings. This is Saina's second Super Series final after clinching the Australian Open in June.

Sixth seed Saina will now face Japanese World No.35 Akane Yamaguchi, who upset South Korean fifth seed Yeon Ju Bae 21-10, 25-23 in the other semi-final, for their first ever match.

The World No.5 Indian took time to get into her rhythm and Liu looked the better among the duo at the start, taking a 7-4 lead to pressurise Saina briefly.

However, the 24-year-old Hyderabadi began to control the proceedings and equalised at 11-all. Saina went on to earn points regularly despite tough competition from the Chinese World No.17.

Liu conceded more points and taking advantage of that, Saina clinched the game in no time.

In the second game, it was a neck-and-neck contest till the 9-point mark before Saina bagged a 12-9 lead. Liu raised her game and managed to equalise at 14-all, also taking a two-point lead (16-14).

But Saina sent a flurry of cross-court smashes to grab a six-point lead and seal the game in her favour.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Rohit slams second double ton, breaks record!

Rohit Sharma created history by smashing the highest individual ODI score with a breathtaking knock of 264 as India thrashed Sri Lanka by 153 runs in the fourth cricket one-dayer to take a 4-0 lead in the five-match series, here at the Eden Gardens Thursday. 

Courtesy Rohit's mayhem, India scored a mammoth 404 for five and then easily bowled out the islanders for 251 in 43.1 overs. 

Returning after a 10-week injury lay-off, Rohit had everything going his way after being let-off on individual score of four. 

The Mumbaikar paced his innings to perfection as he first got set during the initial 50 runs before exploding against a clueless Lankan attack, as he scored his 264 off only 173 balls that had 33 fours and seven sixes.  

In the process, Rohit also broke compatriot Virender Sehwag's earlier world record of 219 runs, which he had set against West Indies in Indore, back in 2011. 

Rohit is also the only batsman to register two double centuries in ODIs and also now holds the record for highest number of boundaries during his innings. 

The epic milestone was reached when Rohit hit an elegant cover drive off Nuwan Kulasekara to become the first batsman with two double hundreds in ODIs. 

Rohit did have a bit of luck going his way as he was dropped twice after reaching his double hundred. 

The stylish right-hander was all set to carry his bat through before he was holed out in the long-off region off the final delivery of the Indian innings. 

Finally, he received a 'Guard of Honour' from his teammates, who stood on both sides outside the dressing room with spectators also giving him a standing ovation. 

It couldn't have been a more memorable innings on the 150th anniversary of the hallowed ground which has seen many outstanding individual performances. 

Rohit's magnificent knock will rank among the very best played at this ground by the likes of VVS Laxman, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar to name a few. 

The fifth and final match of the series will be played at Ranchi on November 16.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

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