Anand suffers shock defeat against Kramnik

vishwanathananand

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
22.01.2018

Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand’s quest for a record sixth title suffered a setback as he slumped to a shock defeat against Vladimir Kramnik of Russia in the seventh round of the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament, here.

Having done quite well so far, Anand went for unwarranted complications against Kramnik who was at his best to match his opponent.

The Italian opening by the Indian became very complicated when Anand decided to keep his king in the middle of the board and Kramnik showed deep understanding in finding the right manoeuvres.

As it happened in the game, Anand’s king proved to be under more danger than the counterpart and Kramnik skillfully deployed his forces to carve out a fine victory in 36 moves.

The loss proved costly as Anand slipped to joint sixth spot from his overnight joint second position.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan stretched his lead to a full point after his third straight victory in the tournament.

On the receiving end was Wei Yi of China who was outdone from a Catalan opening where the former played white.

Top rated Magnus Carlsen was stretched but eventually converted a full point against Yifan Hou of China, the highest ranked woman player.

With six rounds still to come, Mamedyarov is sitting pretty on 5.5 points out of a possible seven and is now followed by Anish Giri of Holland, Wesley So of United States, Carlsen and Kramnik who all have 4.5 points each.

Anand, on four, shares the sixth position along with Sergey Karjakin of Russia.

The other Indian in the masters B Adhiban played out a draw with Maxim Matlakov of Russia to inch his tally up to 1.5 points. Adhiban has suffered four losses and drew the remaining three games thus far.

In the challengers section, grandmaster Vidit Gujrathi was again held to a draw by Lucas Van Foreest of Holland.

The Indian took his tally to five points in all and remained a full point behind tournament leader Anton Korobov of Ukraine who also split the point in his seventh round game.

image used for reference only

We want to get a whitewash against India, says Rabada

391340-logo-bcci700

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
19.01.2018

Johannesburg, Jan 19 (PTI) Five days before the final Test on a pitch that bore an excessively green tinge, pacer Kagiso Rabada said South Africa are gunning for a whitewash of India, having trampled the visitors in the first two matches.

The hosts have taken an unassailable 2-0 lead with convincing wins in the first two Tests, with Rabada producing a match-winning spell at the Newlands.

“Obviously we know how to play fast bowling and we’ve got respect for their attack. Every game you go into, you want to win. So obviously we want to get a whitewash against India.”

Rabada said that India are too reliant on skipper Virat Kohli, who scored his 21st Test hundred at Centurion.

“I think they do rely on him. But it is just like we rely on a couple of players too. I’m not saying India don’t have any quality players, they do. But it’s just a fact – Kohli scores most of their runs.

“It is really enjoyable bowling to the likes of him. He was named ICC Player of the Year (sic), so it’s quite cool to go up against the best.”

When asked about India’s lack of preparation going into the series, he said, “I don’t know what’s going on in their preparation. That’s not something we want to look at really.

“We’ve got no concern with their preparation. We’re concerned with how we want to get them out and how we want to win against them. I’m not going to diagnose their problems.”

The young pacer though feels that the Indian attack has given a good account in the two Tests.

“The fast bowlers are excited to bowl at the Wanderers.

We always are as it has pace, bounce and swing. Bumrah is a very good bowler, he’s already opening the bowling now. He’s done very well with the one-day stuff and now he’s doing very well in the Test matches too.

“Mohammed Shami is very experienced and got some pace.

Umesh Yadav, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who caused a lot of trouble in Cape Town, they’ve got good fast bowlers.”

His team 2-0 up, he is not thinking about cricket now.

“I haven’t seen the pitch yet. Cricket is off my mind now and the hard work starts again on Monday. Then we’ll have a look at the pitch. We know how the conditions behave here.

“India played really well the last time they were here, Kohli got a hundred. Wanderers is a good wicket, it’s normally a moving wicket. It’s a pitch where if you bat well you can score some runs, and if you bowl well you’ll take wickets.”

Rabada said playing India is a challenge though there is a difference between their overseas record since 2011, and their record during their dream run in the 2015-17 period.

“Playing against the Indians is extremely challenging.

They are known for their great batsmen and they’ve got really good bowlers as well. So they are very competitive, they’re throwing everything they have at us, and their batsmen want to make a statement.

“They’ve made a statement everywhere else in the world, and they wanted to come here and really beat us. So things are going to get a bit messy out there. But that’s just the nature of it, with two quality sides coming against each other. Off the field, we’re friends,” he added.

Federer shines as Djokovic survives brutal heat test

rogerfedrer

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
18.01.2018

Melbourne, Jan 18 (AFP) Defending champion Roger Federer cooly swept into the Australian Open third round today as Novak Djokovic survived a gruelling fitness test under the brutal Melbourne sun.

But with temperatures touching an energy-sapping 40 Celsius and ice-towels in use, third seed Garbine Muguruza and 2014 winner Stan Wawrinka both wilted and were knocked out.

Maria Sharapova, in contrast, laid down her title credentials with dominant win against 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

World number one Simona Halep was also convincing in her straight demolition of Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Swiss 19-time Grand Slam champion Federer disposed of Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7/4), avoiding the worse of the furnace-like conditions in his night match.

“I practice with him so I had the information I needed,” he said, adding that the heat doesn’t bother him.

“If you want to get to the top, you’ve got to play in all conditions.”

It was never going to be easy for the German. While Federer had made at least the third round each year since his Melbourne Park debut in 2000, Struff had failed to go further than the second round at any Grand Slam.

Six-time Melbourne champion Djokovic had a much tougher time, coming through a four-setter against Gael Monfils in a thorough examination after being out for six months with an elbow injury.

He lost the first set before Monfils began struggling in the second and was heard at one point telling the umpire: “I’m tired and dizzy.”

The Frenchman remarkably recovered to make a fight of it before a relieved Djokovic, seeded 14, came through 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-3.

“It was tough conditions, brutal, especially the first 90 minutes,” he said.

“I’m still not 100 per cent, but building. I have a lot of faith and self-belief.”

The heat took its toll on a host of players, including Wimbledon champion Muguruza, who suffered with heat-blistered feet.

She was knocked out by 88-ranked Hsieh Su-wei from Taiwan 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 but refused to make excuses.

“I maybe could have done things better, but at the end, she deserves to win,” she said.

Wawrinka also failed to progress, clearly still struggling from a lengthy knee injury lay-off in his straight sets defeat by American Tennys Sandgren.

Kohli becomes second India batsman to reach 900-point mark

kohli

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
19.01.2018

Dubai, Jan 18 (PTI) Virat Kohli has become only the second India batsman after Sunil Gavaskar to reach the 900- point mark in the latest ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen, which were released following the conclusion of the Centurion Test.

Gavaskar, one of the ICC Cricket Hall of Famers, had achieved the milestone in his 50th Test when he scored 13 and 221 at The Oval in 1979 to jump from 887 points to 916 points, which remained his career-best.

Kohli, who recorded his 21st century at Centurion, got to the rare feat in his 65th Test after vaulting from 880 points to 900 points.

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid are the other two India batsmen who came close to the 900-point mark, but were unable to break the barrier. Tendulkar peaked to 898 points in 2002, while Dravid achieved 892 points in 2005.

Kohli is only the 31st batsman in the history of Test cricket to reach 900 points. Don Bradman sits on top of the table with 961 points, followed by Steve Smith (947), Len Hutton (945), Ricky Ponting and Jack Hobbs (both 942 points).

In doing so, Kohli has also leapfrogged Joe Root of England into second position as the top four positions continue to be occupied by Test captains who have all played in past ICC U19 Cricket World Cups.

Kohli trails Smith by 47 points but now leads Root by 19 points, who, in turn, leads Kane Williamson by 26 points.

Other batsmen inside the top 20 to head in the right direction are South Africa’s trio of Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar, while batsmen to head in the opposite direction include Cheteshwar Pujara, Lokesh Rahul and Quinton de Kock.

Amla, who scored 82 in the first innings, has moved up two places to eighth, while du Plessis has been rewarded for his contributions of 63 and 48 with a rise of two places that has given him a career-high ranking of 12th. Elgar has also gained two places and is now ranked 14th following scores of 31 and 61.

In contrast, Pujara has slipped one place to sixth, Rahul has fallen six places to 18th and de Kock is 20th after plummeting five places.

Outside the top 20, South Africa opener Aiden Markram has made an impressive gain after lifting 10 places to share 38th position with Roston Chase of the Windies. In the last three Tests, Markram, who captained South Africa to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup title in the UAE in 2014, has earned 20 places.

In the bowlers’ table, Kagiso Rabada’s reign as the number-one ranked Test bowler has lasted just one Test as he has slipped behind James Anderson following an ordinary performance by his high standards.

Hockey: India hammer Japan 6-0 in Nations’ Invitational

hockey

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
17.01.2018

Tauranga (New Zealand), Jan 17 (PTI) Dilpreet Singh and debutant Vivek Sagar Prasad struck a brace each as the Indian men’s hockey team thrashed Japan 6-0 in its opening match of the double-leg Four Nations Invitational Tournament here today.

Apart from Dilpreet (35′, 45′) and Vivek (12′, 28′), Rupinder (7′) and Harmanpreet Singh (41′) also scored in India’s win.

The team got off to a dominant start, controlling the ball rather swiftly, passing around neatly and quickly to penetrate the Japanese circle.

India won their first penalty corner of the game in the seventh minute and it was young gun Harmanpreet Singh, who stepped up to drag flick.

His attempt though was blocked but since the obstruction came off his body, India were awarded a penalty stroke.

Experienced drag-flicker Rupinder hardly broke a sweat in converting a stunning goal to fetch India a 1-0 early lead.

India’s second goal came in the 12th minute when debutant Vivek was quick to pick up a rebound and fiercely strike the ball past the Japanese goal keeper earning India a 2-0 lead.

The second quarter saw India defend their lead as they were unrelenting in creating pressure on Japan, pressing them high up constantly, rarely giving them an opportunity to enter India’s D.

Meanwhile, Vivek Prasad found another excellent opportunity in the 28th minute to score, as the Indian attackers broke into the Japanese defence.

Vivek was swift to receive an assist in the circle and put the ball in the goal within no time. The teams went into the half time break with India having a comfortable 3-0 lead.

In the 35th minute, a brilliant run-in from Mandeep Singh, who found Dilpreet in the circle, created a goal scoring opportunity for India.

Though Dilpreet’s first attempt was padded away by the Japan keeper, he was quick to pick it up again and put into the nets fetching India’s fourth goal.

Japan earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 40th minute, but couldn’t find success. In the following minute a foot foul by a Japanese defender won India their second PC which was brilliantly executed by Harmanpreet Singh as India led 5-0.

file photo used for reference only

Nadal eases injury doubts with dominant win at Open

rafaelnadal

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
16.01.2018

Melbourne, Jan 15 (AFP) Rafael Nadal says he has no doubts over a knee injury as he destroyed his opening round opponent at the Australian Open on Monday.

The world No.1, a beaten finalist to Roger Federer in Melbourne last year, clinically took apart Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in 94 minutes in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

The Spaniard will play Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in the second round.

Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the open.

But he said his troublesome right knee felt absolutely fine during his rout of Estrella Burgos.

“It’s feeling good,” Nadal said. “If I did not feel myself ready I would not be here. I am happy to be here and happy to be on court again. I always have doubts, but at the same time I have confidence that I was ready to start the tournament and that was the case.”

Nadal, who wore no protective strapping on his knee, left nothing to chance with eight service breaks and 28 winners in a complete first-up performance.

It took the 31-year-old Spaniard’s Australian Open record to 52-11 as he chases his second Australian title after beating Federer in the 2009 final.

“It’s a positive start with a good result. If I do months without playing official match it’s always a little bit more difficult,” he said.

“But I started with positive feelings. That’s most important thing for me now.

“Of course, there are things to improve. But the thing that I need to improve, the matches will give me those things.

Victories are the most important thing now.”

Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking after the Australian Open, with Federer breathing down his neck.

India 80-2 at tea on day two

391340-logo-bcci700

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
15.01.2018

18:15 HRS IST
Centurion, Jan 14 (PTI) India were 80 for two at tea on day two of the second Test against South Africa here today.

Brief scores:

South Africa 1st innings: 335 all out in 113.5 overs (Markram 94, Du Plessis 63, Amla 82; Ashwin 4/13, Ishant 3/46).

India 1st innings: 80 for 2 in 28 overs (Murali Vijay batting 31, Virat Kohli batting 39; M Morkel 1/24).

If one failure dents confidence, don’t deserve to play: Bumrah

391340-logo-bcci700

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
12.01.2018

Centurion, Jan 11 (PTI) India couldn’t have hoped for a worst start to a long South African sojourn but pacer Jasprit Bumrah today asserted that if one debacle dents the team’s confidence then it “does not deserve” to be play Test cricket.

South Africa outplayed India by 72 runs inside four days in the opening Test in Cape Town to claim a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. The second Test is scheduled to start here on Saturday.

“Confidence is not dented after one match. If it happens, then you don’t deserve to play. Learn from the mistake you made and go forward. There is not a single cricketer who has not made a mistake,” asserted Bumrah, who took four wickets in the match.

“It was a first good Test and a good learning experience for me because I have never played over here in South Africa.

So I had a lot of things to learn from it. Now it is time to move forward and focus on the second Test,” Bumrah said on Thursday.

Bumrah said he would rather pick the positives, including getting A B de Villiers as his first Test wicket.

“It was not a dream debut. I was happy with whatever I learnt from that match. As a bowler you look to get the first wicket early and I got AB de Villiers.

“It was a happy moment, and from there on, we took a lot more wickets. As a bowler, my motto is not to get too excited and not to get too down after every match. I want to take confidence in to the next match,” he added.

Bumrah had a mixed first outing at Newlands. He was taken for runs in the first innings at a time when India needed to keep South Africa quiet, but roared back to form in the second innings and triggered the hosts’ 8-65 collapse on day four.

He outlined the differentiation in his performance was down to understanding the nature of the pitches here.

“It’s always challenging whenever you come to a new country. The wickets are different and the weather is different. So it’s always good to face new challenges. As you play more and more, you get to know a lot about the wickets.

“You get a fair idea about where to bowl and what kind of lines to bowl. It’s been good so far. I am still learning and hopefully in the further matches, I will be able to do better,” said Bumrah.

Bumrah said he prefers to not have any notions about the surfaces he bowls on. he also acknowledged that Indian bowlers erred in reading the bounce in the South African first innings, which yielded 286 runs for the hosts.

“We realized what mistakes we made in the first innings, so (on day four) we were trying to create pressure from both ends and focus on our lengths which were wrong in the first innings.

“We just tried to correct them and not overdo things because over here when there is help from the wicket, you try to do extra but that won’t help. So we were just trying to be disciplined and stick to basics,” he said.

When asked about the moment he was made aware of his Test debut, Bumrah said, “There was a general discussion that I would play the match. So I started talking to our bowling coach what kind of things I should do, what kind of wickets are over here and what should I expect.”

The Gujarat pacer said he was not nervous when his debut cap was handed to him.

“It’s not like I was playing a first First-Class game in my life. I have played a lot of four-day games. So my basic plan was to go inside, get a feel of the wicket and make changes accordingly.”

Messi puts on masterclass for watching Coutinho

lionelmessi

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
12.01.2018

Madrid, Jan 12 (AFP) Lionel Messi put on a masterclass in front of new recruit Philippe Coutinho as Barcelona trounced Celta Vigo 5-0 to ease into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals 6 -1 on aggregate.

Coutinho, dressed in a black shirt dotted with white stars, was in the stands at the Camp Nou for the first time since his 160 million-euro ( 192 million) move from Liverpool.

It didn’t take long for the Brazilian star to appreciate the playing riches on show on the pitch.

“The first half was extraordinary,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde.

Level at 1-1 after the first leg, the three-time defending champions were 4-0 up by half-time.

Messi grabbed the opening two goals in the 13th and 15th minutes, both finished with a sublime first touch with his left foot, both created by Jordi Alba.

Messi then returned the favour by setting up Alba to score past the hapless Sergio Alvarez in the Celta goal before Luis Suarez made it 4-0 on the night after 30 minutes when the Uruguayan burst through the defence.

The tie petered out in the second half but French international Ousmane Dembele showed why Barcelona paid 105 million euros for him last year when he dribbled past three defenders from the halfway line before being denied by a desperate tackle.

Dembele did have time to set up the fifth goal of the night three minutes from the end when his corner was headed home from close range by an unmarked Ivan Rakitic.

“It’s luxury to have Leo in the side, he’s the best in history. We always look for each other to score goals and today we have done it twice,” said Alba.

Earlier Thursday, Espanyol overturned a 2-1 loss in the first leg to defeat Levante 2-0 with Leo Baptistao and Gerard Moreno on target either side of half-time.

Sevilla also progressed with a 2-1 win at home to second-tier Cadiz for a 4-1 aggregate.

Wissam Ben Yedder, after 31 minutes, and Joaquin Correa in the 54th minute, were on target for Vincenzo Montella’s team.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid laboured to a 2-2 draw with Numancia to progress to the quarter-finals 5-2 on aggregate.

In a much-changed side, Lucas Vazquez scored both of Real’s goals after the 11th and 59th minutes.

But on both occasions, their modest visitors fought back thanks to a brace from Guillermo on the stroke of half-time and then after 82 minutes.

Numancia ended the game with 10 men after captain Dani Calvo was red-carded in the dying moments.

Picked Rohit over Rahane on current form: Kohli

kohli

A News by PTI
Published by ptinews.com
09.01.2018

.Cape Town, Jan 9 (PTI) India captain Virat Kohli has defended the selection of Rohit Sharma in the opening cricket Test, saying he was picked ahead of Ajinkya Rahane on current form.

“Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka,” said Kohli in the post-match media conference.

“These things can always be looked at in hindsight thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.

Rahane, who has not been amongst the runs of late, had a successful tour of South Africa four years ago. With 209 runs, he was third highest run-getter in the series behind Kohli (272 runs) and Cheteshwar Pujara (280).

India lost the first Test by 72 runs with batting letting them down in both the innings.