Category Archives: sports
Reasons for India’s loss in ICC World Cup 2015
Only two teams (West Indies and Australia) have successfully defended the ICC World Cup title. That statistic will remain the same for at least another 4 years. India’s campaign at the World Cup is over. The defending champions won 7 matches on the trot, but fell at the penultimate hurdle. Over a billion hearts in the country and countless across the world were broken. After all, it’s not easy to swallow a loss for the Men in Blue, especially when they were so close to clinching the top prize in ODI cricket. It’s natural to feel sad, to be left stunned at the margin of the loss. Some fans cried, others covered their eyes, some others fell completely silent, as they saw their dream shatter into a million pieces in front of their eyes. All that is natural. The question is – what are you feeling? Is it anger? Because if it is, then that is unnatural. In sport, a winner can only be crowned when the other team loses. There is no shame in losing in the semifinal of a World Cup and the loss can’t be pinned on just a few players.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people see it that way. Some fans smashed television sets, while others burnt posters of players. Sections of the Indian media felt the loss was shameful, but is that really surprising? NDTV World Cup expert and former India captain Sunil Gavaskar wasn’t surprised. Gavaskar told NDTV, that there has been disappointment and there will always be that odd section that will go over the top but that is part of Indian cricket.
India’s 95 run loss was the heaviest, in terms of runs, in a World Cup semifinal. So was it the margin of defeat that angered some fans and sections of the media? Sure, going by India’s resurgence, the match was a 50-50 call, but is it really surprising that Australia, who are the number 1 ODI team in the world, won? Former West Indies captain Brian Lara had picked India as the winner before the semifinal clash, but even he later admitted that the result was expected. With India’s rise over the last 6 weeks India can give themselves an opportunity to defeat Australia, but Australia have been the better team and they proved that. The best two teams are now in the final.
Even if we forget about the 3 ‘minnows’ that India beat, we can’t ignore the wins against Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and even Bangladesh in a knockout match. The way this team picked itself up after a disappointing summer Down Under was spectacular. The way the bowling, often called the biggest chink in the Indian armour, came together to become a potent force was fascinating to watch. The way the Dhoni of old, who marshals his troops like a General leading from the front, inspired the team to 7 straight wins would have given the true cricket lovers a lot to smile about.
Yes the wait for a 3rd ODI World Cup title will now be a longer one, but then, not too many fans would have backed India to reach the semifinals, and they did. They just ran into a superior team on the day, a team that they haven’t beaten in either Tests or ODIs since December last year, a team they were playing in their own backyard. Cricket is a sport, it’s not war and no one likes a sore loser.
Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year
Serena Williams was named Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the year on Monday, becoming the first tennis player since Chris Evert in 1976 to win SI’s Sportsperson honour during their playing career.The honour comes after Serena’s season for the ages that saw her come just two matches short of a Career Slam.
Serena won the Australin Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year before falling at home, in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open to Flavia Pennetta. She fell two wins short of becoming the first women’s tennis player to win all four Grand Slams in one season since Steffi Graf in 1988.
Serena is also just three Grand Slam wins shy of Margaret Court all-time record of 24, crossing which would make her the greatest women’s tennis player in history.
BWF Super Series Finals: Saina Nehwal crashes out as Indian challenge ends
India’s challenge ended at the BWF Super Series Finals after Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth lost their respective women’s and men’s singles matches in contrasting styles on Friday.
Having won one match and lost one, Saina had to win her final league match against Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei today but she squandered one-game advantage to go down 21-16 18-21 14-21 in a battle that lasted 50 minutes to bow out of the tournament.
Earlier, Srikanth, who had already exited after losing yesterday’s match, continued with his poor run of form as he suffered his third successive defeat in the men’s singles, losing to Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien-chen 17-21 13-21 in a 32-minute contest.
With Saina losing two out of three matches, Carolina Marin and Nozomi Okuhara have advanced to the next round. Three players have finished with one win and two losses each. Saina missed the cut after taking into account of games won versus games lost.
Okuhara, having won all three matches, emerged on top while Marin’s record of 3-4 (-1) stands to be the second best in the group.
The Olympic bronze medallist Saina had everything to play for today and she showed her determination in a draining hard-fought match, but unfortunately she failed to sustain till the end.
The opening game was a closely-fought affair. Although Saina opened up a 3-1 lead, her rival kept breathing down her neck to catch her up first at 5-5 and then at 9-9 before the Indian went into the break with a slender 11-9 edge.
After the break, Saina used her net play and smashes effectively, besides capitalising on her opponent’s unforced errors, to run away with the game 21-16.
Tzu-ying saved three match points at 13-21 but Saina maintained her composure to seal the opening game with a cross court smash.
In the second game, Saina suddenly started to struggle and lagged behind 5-11 at the break owing to a number of unforced errors.
Up 5-3, the Taipei girl bagged four more points to open up a 9-4 gap and then extended it further to 13-5.
But Saina scripted a fabulous comeback by winning four points on the trot to reduce the gap to 9-13 and then another four points to further lessen the margin to 14-16 before catching her rival at 16-16. Tzu-ying hitting the net frequently also helped Saina’s cause.
However, the Taipei girl kept her nerves intact to secure three consecutive points to once again take a 20-16 lead. Saina saved two game points, but Tzu-ying bagged that one important point to take the match to the decider.
Saina completely ran out of steam in third game. Tzu-ying first took a 4-1 lead and then continued to surge ahead to surge to 17-9 before wrapping it up rather comfortably in the end.
Earlier, the 22-year Srikanth old from Guntur, who had a 1-0 record against the Taipei player, having beaten him at Hong Kong Open, today struggled with his strokes.
Srikanth proved no match to his opponent, winning just 30 points as compared to 42 by the Taipei shuttler.
In the opening game, the Taipei player straight away opened up a 3-0 lead and kept on extending it, even as Srikanth played the catch-up game to eventually lose it 17-21.
Srikanth, however, showed some fight in the second game and it was neck-and-neck till the break with scored tied at 11-11.
But after the interval, Tien-chen won five points on the trot to surge ahead. Although Srikanth won a couple of points, the Taipei shuttler did not give the Indian any more chance to make a comeback, bagging four more successive points to seal the match in his favour.
No home advantage at 2016 ICC World T20 given international participation in IPL: Kohli
Four years ago, MS Dhoni hit that magical six – which will be further etched in minds of each and every Indian – to lift the coveted World Cup in front of the home crowd. Five years later, a world championship will be hosted on the Indian soil again as India will host the World T20, starting March 2016, for the first time.
With the tournament taking place in India, many feel that the hosts will go in as favourites and try to repeat the heroics of 2011 World Cup in front of the home crowd but India Test captain Virat Kohli feels that India won’t have such a big home advantage any more.
“So many players from around the world have played the IPL for 8-9 years now so they are familiar with the Indian conditions,” Kohli said at the launch of 2016 ICC World T20.
When India last hosted an ICC event in 2011, they started the tournament as clear favourites. And they delivered too. But the IPL was three years old back then – with the second edition taking place in South Africa. With eight seasons complete, and with more and more cricketers from around the world making a name for themselves in India, conditions are not fully in India’s favour anymore.
“We saw them (foreign players) executing their skills very well in the shorter format when we played South Africa just now. They know where to bowl and what shots to hit in Indian conditions. It’s not such a big home advantage anymore, especially in a format like T20 where the cricket is so quick. Any team could be favourites,” Kohli added.
Ajinkya Rahane was a bit more positive about doing well in their own backyard but he did concede that the IPL factor will play an important role.
“Deep down inside, we have a better chance. I am sure we will do well. Every team is equally dangerous because almost all the players are playing the IPL,” Rahane said at the launch of 2016 World T20.
ICC CEO Dave Richardson did concede that India will start off as favourites because of home conditions but considering the trend so far, he said that this could be a very open tournament.
Richardson said, “India are favourites in home conditions. But looking at the last few editions, West Indies won in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka in Bangladesh, so it’s a very open tournament.”
India suffered heartbreak in the previous edition when they failed at the final hurdle, losing to Sri Lanka in the final at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur. Kohli said that the defeat in the final hurt the team.
“Obviously we would like to cross the finish line this time. Last time, I was personally very sad that we couldn’t win the finals. Last year, we were very motivated to win the cup. We had a great run throughout and unfortunately we couldn’t cross the line. But again we felt delighted for Sri Lanka, as they had two legends of the game who hadn’t won the World Cup themselves. So we felt good for them also, but as a team we felt sad as we couldn’t cross the line although we played some very good cricket,” Kohli said.
Kohli said that keeping things simple will be the key to success in this edition.
“What we did in that (2014) World T20 was keep things simple and in a country like India, where conditions are known to everyone now, keeping things simple will be very important. So any team can be dangerous if they don’t try too much out there in the middle,” Kohli added.
Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand, felt picking the moment will hold the key.
“I feel the team that will gain the momentum at the right time will be dangerous. In T20 especially, momentum is a very big thing. I feel whoever gets set will create a buzz,” Dhawan said during a panel discussion at the World T20 event.
The effect of IPL was visible in the recently-concluded South African tour of India, where the tourists had an upper hand over India in the limited overs segment. The Proteas won the three-match T20I series 2-0 with one match washed out and the ODI series 3-2. Time and again, South Africa T20 captain Faf Du Plessis has credited IPL for South Africa’s success in subcontinent.
After the T20I series win against India, David Miller – who plays for IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab – said, “It (IPL) makes a massive difference. We have come out on top against India. I think the IPL has helped not only the foreign players but the younger guys from India as well.”
India will open their World T20 campaign against New Zealand on 15 March in Nagpur before taking on Pakistan in Dharamsala on 19 March. Their other matches will be against the qualifying Group A winners in Bengaluru on 23 March and Australia in Mohali on 27 March.
Since its inception in 2007, no home team has won the World T20 in the five editions so far, and India will be aiming to buck the trend this time around.
Rohit Sharma weds Ritika Sajdeh: Raina, Harbhajan Singh and other celebrities attend
Indian batsman Rohit Sharma tied the knot with girlfriend Ritika Sajdeh on Sunday, reports a news daily. On Friday, Nita and Mukesh Ambani had hosted a grand bash for the couple at their 39 Altamount residence in Mumbai. The wedding was solemnised on Sunday at the poolside of a suburban Mumbai five star hotel, and followed by a reception. The reception was hosted by Ritika’s family.
The sangeet ceremony will be held on Monday evening.
Yuvraj Singh, his fiancee Hazel Keech and mother Shabnam Singh, Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav and his wife Tanya were among the star guestlist for the wedding. Many other top cricketers and politicians also attended the wedding. Rohit was wearing a traditional outfit designed by Raghavendra Rathore for the wedding and sporting a Troy Costa suit for the reception, reports the daily. Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik all got married this year. Yuvraj Singh and Hazel Keech are set to tie the knot next year in February.
Nadal is truly greatest of current generation: Amritraj
Backing Rafael Nadal to come back strong next year, former Indian ace Vijay Amritraj on Sunday said the Spanish star is the greatest of the current generation and will continue to play unbelievable tennis as long as he stays healthy.
“Actually, nothing much (has happened to Nadal). He made the world finals in London which means he is the world’s best player … As long as he is healthy he will play unbelievable tennis. He will come back extremely strongly next year, I think,” Amritraj told PTI in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of IIMBUE 2015 — IIMB Alumini Leadership Summit — in Bengaluru.
Amritraj said Nadal is ranked among the Top-5 players in the world as he has won fourteen Grand Slams.
“I don’t think you can pick anything from him. He is a great champion. He has won 14 Grand Slams. He is ranked among Top Five in the world, nothing has happened to him … He is truly greatest of current generation,” he said.
Nadal’s performance has come under the scanner by experts around the world with critics arguing that the Spaniard’s graph is on the wane.
Nadal, who last won a Grand Slam title at Roland Garros 2014, did not win a major in 2015. The most shocking loss came when the ‘King of Clay Court’ was defeated by Novok Djokovic in French Open.
His other Grand Slam — US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon — exits in 2015 all had major elements of surprise also.
Asked about the line-up for great contests next year, Amritraj said Djokovic is the front-runner for winning major titles. “If you look at 2016 line-up you have to keep Djokovic in the front row, and then everyone else follow. The (preferential line-up) after Djokovic will be Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka,” he said.
“Nobody has won grand slam except Djokovic last year. Only guy to beat him in the French final was Warwinka. So who are the nearest competitors? These two — Federer and Nadal. Similarly Murray and Wawrinka are there. There would be others who will come along who can cause upsets,” Amritraj added.
Asked about Murray’s prospects, Amritraj said there is less pressure on him after winning a couple of Grand Slams, Wimbledon and then guiding Great Britain to win Davis Cup Team Trophy for the first time since 1936.
“I think the Davis Cup win gave him incredible amount of confidence and inspired him to individually do better next year. He has won a couple of Grand Slams, and knows what it is to win Wimbledon. Earlier, he did not have them in his kitty — all those monkeys are off his back now. He can play loose and freer. I think there is less pressure on him,” he said.
Rohit should stay in the Test squad: John Wright
John Wright believes that Rohit Sharma deserves to remain in the Indian Test team, irrespective of his existing record in the format.
Wright, who is in the city in his role as a talent scout for Mumbai Indians, coached the IPL side for two years, when he worked with the batsman.
“The thing about playing Test cricket is you want to feel at home in the team; you don’t want to be judged every time you go to the wicket, because you can’t express yourself properly,” he said at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday, as he watched Jharkhand take on Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“Particularly in India, that’s a big thing. Sometimes players like Rohit — because they’re so brilliant in the way that they play, because of their shot-making ability — take more risks.
“I’m sure there’s a place for Rohit Sharma among the top six batsmen in India in any form of the game.
“Sometimes you’ve got to stick with players. I hope he succeeds at Test cricket because he’s a match-winner.”
Wright, who coached India for five years, was impressed with Virat Kohli’s performance as Test captain. Although he would not be drawn on the ‘one captain for all formats’ debate, the New Zealander’s regard for M.S. Dhoni was obvious.
“If I put my Mumbai Indians hat on, when Dhoni walks to the wicket, it’s a wicket you want to get,” he said.
“It’s fantastic that Dhoni is playing domestic cricket. It’s a great signal for a start. Here’s someone who’s won World Cups, taken his country to No.1 in the Test rankings and he’s out playing for Jharkhand in a one-day competition and that says everything. He appears to be very motivated.”
Wright had no complaints over the pitches India rolled out for its recent home Test series against South Africa.
“From what I understand, one of the wickets turned quite a lot but the rest weren’t too bad,” he said.
“I know from my time here that if you went to South Africa, you wouldn’t get wickets that turned. And if you come to India you’ve got to expect that you’re going to get a rigorous examination with the turning ball.
“It’s not impossible for overseas teams to win here but it’s pretty difficult. History has proved that. When a visiting team arrives, the first question you ask as an Indian coach is: ‘Do they have a quality spinner that can make life as difficult for us as we can for them?’
“Obviously, India were much stronger in that department. The challenge will be when India goes back to South Africa —I imagine they’re going to get wickets with a bit of grass on (laughs). It’s just part and parcel of the game.”