India tour of SA likely to begin on January 5 or 6

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A News by PTI
published by ptinews.com
19.09.2017

1:15 HRS IST
Johannesburg, Sep 19 (PTI) The Indian cricket team will start its new year with a tour to South Africa, which is likely to commence on January 5 or 6 in Cape Town.

According to ‘ESPNCricinfo’, both the countries’ cricket boards — Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the BCCI — will be finalising the dates of the matches in the next few days.

Despite holding discussions since the beginning of the year, CSA and BCCI are yet to finalise the schedule.

As per the ICC’s Future Tours Programme, the tour will have a four-Test series, three One-day Internationals and three T20Is.

The BCCI had earlier made it clear that the Indian team would not arrive in South Africa until the last week of this year as their home series against Sri Lanka would end only on December 24.

The Indian Cricket Board wants its players to take a short break before they depart for South Africa. They had also insisted on preparation time for the team ahead of a big series and requested to play at least one warm-up match.

Traditionally, the New Year’s Test has been played at Newlands from January 2.

CSA was keen on having the first Test from January 4 to ensure maximum gate money, considering the match is usually a sellout during the holiday week in South Africa.

“India are now expected to land in the last few days of December and would definitely play one practice match before the first Test,” an official involved in the discussions was quoted as saying.

Discussions between CSA and BCCI got complicated because the Indian board was not impressed with South Africa finalising the schedule for the Australian series, scheduled to start on March 1.

But the March 1 start of South Africa-Australia series would make the time frame for the India tour a tight one.

“Now they (CSA) are trying to fit in everything within a short window,” the official said.

Immediately after the South Africa tour, India would travel to Sri Lanka to play a Twenty20 tri-series before returning home for the IPL.

Kohli remains on top, Bumrah climbs up to 2nd in T20 rankings

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A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
18.09.2017

Dubai, Sep 17 (PTI) India skipper Virat Kohli maintained his top spot in the latest ICC rankings of T20 batsmen, while pacer Jasprit Bumrah climbed up a place to be at second position in the bowlers’ table.

Kohli leads number-two ranked Aaron Finch of Australia by 39 points, while Evin Lewis of West Indies has grabbed a career-best third position after jumping up a place.

Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has risen 21 spots to be at career-best sixth position after his player of the series performance helped complete a 2-1 win over the World XI in the recent Independence Cup series at Lahore.

In the bowlers’ list, Bumrah has overtaken South Africa’s Imran Tahir to jump up to the second spot. The table is headed by Imad Wasim of Pakistan.

India’s star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has remained static at 10th position.

In the team rankings, India remained on fifth even as the West Indies have toppled England after a 21-run win at Chester-le-Street last night.

The Windies side was in fourth position with 117 points before the match last night but is now third with 120 points.

On the other hand, England have lost four points to slip from second to fourth with 119 points.

Play resumes in 1st ODI, Australia set

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Published by ptinews.com
18.09.2017

20:35 HRS IST
Chennai, Sep 17 (PTI) Australia were set a revised target of 164 in 21 overs against India after play resumed in the first One-day International, following a long rain delay at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here today.

The visitors were to begin their runchase at 6 PM IST but showers kept the players in the pavilion.

Earlier, Hardik Pandya (83) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (79) shared a 118-run partnership to resurrect the Indian innings from 87 for 5 to post a competitive 281 for seven.

Messi double inspires Barca to Juventus revenge

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Published by ptinews.com
13.09.2017

9:20 HRS IST
Barcelona, Sep 13 (AFP) Barcelona defied an outgoing off-field crisis as another Lionel Messi-inspired display exacted revenge on Juventus to open their Champions League campaign with a resounding 3-0 win.

Messi was involved in all three goals as he beat Gianluigi Buffon for the first time in his career to open the floodgates just before half-time late last night.

Ivan Rakitic added a second after Messi’s run and cross opened up the Juventus defence before the Argentine rounded off the scoring by drilling home his second of the evening 19 minutes from time.

Victory puts Barca on top of Group D alongside Sporting Lisbon, who were 3-2 winners at Olympiakos.

Barca’s start to the season has been dominated by calls for president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign following Neymar’s world record move to Paris Saint-Germain and the Catalan giants’ bungled moves to replace the Brazilian.

However, Ousmane Dembele impressed on his full debut following a 105 million-euro move from Borussia Dortmund, as Barca proved as long as they have Messi there is life after Neymar.

Juventus showed even more upheaval since the sides last met in last season’s quarter-finals with six changes from their trip to the Camp Nou just five months ago.

The Italian champions progressed comprehensively 3-0 on aggregate back then and threatened to expose Barca again early on with Marc-Andre ter Stegen forced into three early saves to deny Mattia de Sciglio, Paulo Dybala and Miralem Pjanic.

Dembele was showing plenty of promise, but often tried to beat one man too many in his quest to impress as Barca struggled to create early on.

Their best effort before opening the scoring came when a Messi free-kick rebounded back into Luis Suarez’s path and his fierce effort was turned over by Buffon.

Dembele was involved in the move as Messi broke his personal duck against Buffon in the final minute of the first half.

Messi picked up the Frenchman’s pass before exchanging a one-two with Suarez and firing with unerring accuracy just inside the far post.

Juventus had a big chance to respond right at the start of the second half, but Dybala couldn’t match his international teammate’s finish and he lifted his shot over the bar.

Messi was inches away from his second as another rasping left-foot drive came back off the inside of the post, rebounded off the back of Buffon’s head and dropped just wide.

Nadal hails ‘best season’ and ‘incredible era’

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Published by ptinews.com
11.09.2017.

9:6 HRS IST
New York, Sep 11 (AFP) Rafael Nadal described the year 2017 as “one of the best of his career” on Sunday after winning a third US Open and 16th Grand Slam.

World number one Nadal defeated South Africa’s world number 32 Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in a brutally one-sided final during which he did not face a break point.

Nadal also claimed an unprecedented 10th French Open in June after finishing runner-up to Roger Federer at the Australian Open.

“In terms of results, this has been one of the best seasons of my career, of course,” Nadal admitted of a year in which he won at least two Slams for the fourth time in his career.

Had he gotten the better of Gilles Muller at Wimbledon, where he lost the final set of his fourth-round clash 15-13, the year might have been even more memorable.

“I have been winning titles, playing three finals of Grand Slams, so that’s a lot. That’s so difficult. The other slam that I was not in the final, I lost the match 15-13 in the fifth to be in the quarterfinals.

“So was very competitive year for me. And on clay, I won almost every match. Of course is an emotional season because I have been through tough moments in terms of injuries.”

Nadal’s win on Sunday was the latest chapter in an epic story of domination by the sport’s superstars.

From Wimbledon in 2003, an incredible 53 of 58 Slams have now been claimed by just five men — Federer (19), Nadal (16), Novak Djokovic (12) and Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka with three apiece.

Only Andy Roddick, Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic have broken the spell.

“We are in an era that is not nice to say, because I’m part of it, but we are in an era that some players make incredible things in this sport,” said Nadal.

“It’s difficult to win a lot of titles. We should be very happy. Probably even Roger and me and Novak, much more than we ever dreamed.”

To hammer home their enduring appeal and dominance, Federer and Nadal shared the four Slams in 2017 — Federer winning the Australian Open before capturing a record eighth Wimbledon.

Will play for another 10 years if I remain fit: Kohli

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Published by ptinews.com
09.09.2017

20:29 HRS IST
New Delhi, Sep 8 (PTI) India captain Virat Kohli will like to “play for another 10 years” if he is able to train as hard as he is at this point of time in his career.

Kohli, who will turn 29 in less than two months time, today spoke about how players at times don’t realise where to stop as far as training is concerned.

“Lot of us don’t actually know how far we can push ourselves. May be at times, without knowing, we are only able to realise 70 percent of our potential. Therefore it is necessary to push yourself until you are done. For example, if I train as hard as I train now, I will possibly play for another 10 years,” Kohli said during a promotional event here.

The Indian skipper, who has scored 4658 runs in 60 Tests and 8587 runs in 194 ODIs, through his ‘Virat Kohli Foundation’ (VKF) in association with the RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, will award scholarships to to individuals who have undertaken exceptional initiatives to promote sports at the grassroot level.

The VKF has pledged a minimum of Rs. 2 crore to be utilised every year on the beneficiaries of the scholarships.

The shortlisted athletes/initiatives will be tracked through the year and their progress monitored.

“India has made rapid strides as a sporting nation. The days of being a one-sport country are behind us. The time is just right to introduce an institution that will recognise and reward our top sporting achievers and put the spotlight on those who are expected to do the country proud in the years to come,” Kohli said at the launch of the RP-SG Indian Sports Honours.

“Initially, we are investing Rs 2 crore but the amount can go up depending upon the performance of the athletes. I wouldn’t have been anything without cricket. It has made me what I am today and if I can touch people’s lives, it will be a great thing,” Kohli said.

Sitting alongside Indian badminton team’s chief coach Pullela Gopichand, Kohli recollected how as a youngster the Hyderabad legend’s All England victory inspired him.

“I remember how I along with my friends watched Gopi sir’s All England victory. I had a friend who was a state level badminton player and we all watched the match together.

“We are all proud of Gopi sir for what he has achieved.

He has been producing world class badminton players (PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth),” said Kohli.

India set for total domination on Sri Lanka tour

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Published by ptinews.com
05.09.2017

Colombo, Sep 5 (PTI) India would aim to cap off their super successful Sri Lanka tour with another ruthless victory in the one-off T20 International here tomorrow.

Any other result than India’s resounding win looks highly unlikely tomorrow, consdering the visitors’ rampaging run in the preceding Test and ODI series, where they whitewashed the hosts 3-0 and 5-0 respectively.

The game provides India an opportunity to fine-tune team combination ahead of the upcoming T20 home series against Australia and New Zealand. In total, India would play nine T20

Internationals this home season and all contests will be a three-match series.

India are on an experimentation drive ahead of the 2019 50-over World Cup and one name they could have tried here is Rishabh Pant, who was not named in the squad.

It is all the more surprising since the selectors had an opportunity to send him for this stand-alone game when Shikhar Dhawan returned home to tend to his ailing mother this past weekend, leaving Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings in the fifth ODI.

Pant has previously featured in two T20Is against England and West Indies, but was kept out of this tour on account of his poor run for India-A in South Africa, as stated by chief selector MSK Prasad after the team selection.

In the lone T20 against West Indies at Jamaica, Virat Kohli had opened the innings with Dhawan with Pant slotting in at no.3. As such, their dual absence will necessitate atleast a couple changes from the Indian skipper.

Rohit Sharma slots back in automatically, for he didn t travel to the Caribbean earlier whilst KL Rahul and Manish Pandey will be expected to bring up the middle order.

Kedar Jadhav scored a much needed half-century in the final ODI, and he could be afforded another chance to prove his credentials as India prepare for a long limited-overs schedule at home.

Hardik Pandya was rested for that fifth match on Sunday, and he too is expected to return to the playing eleven.

Pandya hadn t featured in India s last T20I against the West Indies, with Kohli opting for five full-time bowlers back in July. His return to the playing eleven could allow for a bowling combination similar to the ODIs, with four full-time options to choose from.

Jasprit Bumrah is a shoe-in of course, whilst it remains to be seen if Shardul Thakur will get another go after proving expensive in the last match at Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s expense.

Kohli does like to field leg-spinners in the shortest format, and he played both Yuzvendra Chahal and Amit Mishra against England at both Nagpur and Bengaluru. He is expected to repeat this trick with Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav this time around.

Even so, there were no sure hints coming forth as the Indian team enjoyed an additional off day ahead of the game and did not practice.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have made a few changes to their original T20 squad after suffering the 5-0 whitewash. Leg spinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka are prominent additions.

Pacer Suranga Lakmal makes a comeback after injury, as he had been ruled out ahead of the second Test in August. Mystery spinner Akila Dananjay has also been added to the squad.

Vandersay had made an impression for Sri Lanka in the World T20 last year, but suffered from injury issues since and hasn t been a regular feature of the side.

Surprisingly, left-arm leg spinner Lakshan Sandakan has been left out of the squad.

Pacers Vishwa Fernando and Dushmantha Chameera have also been left out after unimpressive showings in the recently concluded ODI series. Lasith Malinga has been picked again, however.

The Lankan team management had talked about resting Kusal Mendis as he was fatigued, and he has been duly left out.

It’s going to take hell of an effort to surpass Sachin: Kohli

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A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
04.09.2017

9:54 HRS IST
Colombo, Sep 4 (PTI) He termed it an honour to have equalled Ricky Ponting’s 30 ODI hundreds but India captain Virat Kohli feels that it will take “one hell of an effort” to reach anywhere near Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 49 hundreds.

“The great man (Sachin Tendulkar) is quite a bit away.

That’s going to take a hell of an effort. Again, I am not thinking about that. It’s only about the team where even if I score a 90 not out and the team goes across the line, it’s good enough for me,” Kohli said at the psot-match press conference when the inevitable question of Tendulkar’s record cropped up.

“It’s an honour for me to equal someone like Ricky Ponting. That’s not something that you aim for but obviously he s a great player and as batsmen we all respect what these legends have done.”

He once again stressed that a player can’t play for records and the team comes first.

“I look to perform as well as I can for the team. These things keep happening as you go along in your career. You don’t target these things, but those stat windows are hard to neglect because they pop up everywhere after you have achieved something,” said Kohli.

Delight as Serena Williams ‘welcomes baby girl’

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Published by ptinews.com
01.09.2017

Miami, Sep 2 (AFP) Tennis superstar Serena Williams gave birth to a baby girl, US media reported, prompting an outpouring of delight from fellow professionals, celebrities and fans of the sporting icon.

Williams, who will turn 36 later this month, was admitted to the St Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida on Wednesday before going into labor overnight.

There was no immediate confirmation of the birth from Williams’ representatives.

Elder sister Venus Williams described herself as “super excited” after being informed of the reports concerning the baby as she walked on to the court for her third-round match at the US Open in New York.

However she declined to take questions on the subject in her post-match press conference.

“I’m definitely available to answer questions about tennis. That’s all right now,” Venus told reporters.

Earlier, a producer with the Florida-based WPBF television station cited hospital sources as saying Williams’ daughter weighed in at six pounds and 13 ounces (3.09 kilograms). Celebrity magazine US Weekly cited an unnamed source close to the tennis star confirming the birth.

Williams, who is engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, was swiftly greeted with an avalanche of congratulations from well-wishers.

“Congrats Serena!!! So much joy for you!!!” Spanish star Rafa Nadal wrote on Twitter.

Pop diva Beyonce took to Instagram to send her message, posting a portrait of a pregnant Williams in a flowing white gown with the message: “Congratulations Serena!”

Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou added on Twitter: “Congratulations @SerenaWilliams for your baby girl. I am so happy for you and I feel your emotion. Recover well & enjoy without limitation.”

US tennis legend Chris Evert meanwhile chimed: “I’m so thrilled for her. And what a role model she’s going to be for her daughter.”

Media reports said 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena — who revealed she was pregnant in April — was induced overnight Thursday.

Other fans meanwhile wasted no time in anointing the tennis star’s daughter as a future champion.

“Hello to the future queen of tennis,” one post on Twitter read. “A future champion is born,” added another.

Those sentiments sparked light-hearted alarm for Spanish star Garbine Muguruza. Told that Williams’ baby is a girl, Muguruza replied: “Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis.”