News Cricket

New Zealand announce 15-man Cricket World Cup squad

AP Updated: 3 April, 2019, 10:17 AM IST


Wicketkeeper Tim Blundell, who made a century on his test debut but has yet to play a one-day international, has been included in New Zealand's 15-man squad for the cricket World Cup.

The 28-year-old Blundell was the major surprise in the squad announced Wednesday by coach Gary Stead and selector Gavin Larsen. New Zealand is the first nation to name its World Cup lineup.

Blundell has played two tests and three Twenty20 internationals but missed New Zealand's last domestic ODI season and has averaged only 23 at a strike-rate of 79 in 40 List A matches.

He came into contention when New Zealand officials decided they needed a specialist keeper to back up wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Latham at the World Cup, which starts May 30 in England.

Tim Seifert, an aggressive top-order batsman who has ODI experience and scored 84 and 43 in T20 internationals against India this season, was likely the preferred candidate to back up Latham before breaking a finger in the final round of the domestic season.

Seifert will be over that injury in time for the World Cup but Blundell, New Zealand's back-up test keeper behind B.J. Watling, is now seen as a better gloveman.

The selection of leg-spinner Ish Sodhi ahead of Todd Astle is the other talking point of the squad.

Astle appeared to have edged ahead in the race for the specialist spinner's berth when he was chosen for New Zealand's final ODI series of the summer against Bangladesh. But he has played only nine ODIs and selectors may have been swayed by the greater experience of Sodhi, who has played 30 ODIs.

Astle bowls into the wicket more than Sodhi and was thought likely to be suited to English conditions, but Sodhi has recently been in outstanding form, taking 26 wickets in his last four first-class matches.

Hard-hitting batsman Colin Munro has been retained despite a recent loss of form which saw him lose his opening role to Henry Nicholls, who now combines at the top of the order with Martin Guptill. Munro has been chosen as back up in middle order.

Among a bevy of allrounders, Colin de Grandhomme appears to have edged out Doug Bracewell for the final spot. De Grandhomme has stronger batting credentials and his medium pace swing bowling may also suit English conditions.

The other allrounders are Jimmy Neesham and left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner.

Seamers Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry have both been in good form throughout the domestic summer and have been selected alongside the regular new ball pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

The squad was named at Tai Tapu Primary School, a small country school near Christchurch. Expectations of the team are high after New Zealand reached the final of the last World Cup in 2015 which it co-hosted with eventual champion Australia.

"There's had to be some tough calls and there will be some disappointed players," Stead said. "The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup."

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Tom Blundell, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

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News F1

Mick Schumacher 2nd fastest in F1 test debut for Ferrari

AP Updated: 3 April, 2019, 10:36 AM IST


More than 12 years after Formula One great Michael Schumacher drove his last race for Ferrari, his son showed he might be ready to carry on the family legacy.

Mick Schumacher drove in his first F1 test for Ferrari and set the second fastest time.

Shortly before the end of the afternoon session in Bahrain, the 20-year-old Schumacher posted a time of 1 minute, 29.976 seconds. That was briefly the fastest time of the day before it was surpassed by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who was 0.597 seconds faster.

Schumacher completed 56 laps, with only Verstappen and defending champion Lewis Hamilton doing more.

The performance is likely to generate even more excitement about the prospect of seeing a Schumacher driving in Ferrari's famed red car again.

Five of his father's record seven F1 titles were won with Ferrari from 2000-04. His 50-year-old father also holds the record for F1 wins with 91.

Despite the focus, the younger Schumacher appeared calm and was smiling when he arrived at the Ferrari garage and drove onto the track for the first time, watched by his mother, Corinna.

Schumacher was sixth fastest in the morning session, which was twice interrupted by rain, with a best time of 1.32.552 over 30 laps.

Schumacher, who won the F3 European Championship title last year, is competing in F2 for the Prema Racing team this season and finished eighth and sixth in his first two races at the weekend.

There has been speculation he could be in F1 by 2020 if he shines this season.

Schumacher is part of Ferrari's driver academy, as was the 21-year-old Charles Leclerc — who is now racing for Ferrari after just one season with Alfa Romeo Sauber in F1 last year.

Michael Schumacher drove his last race for Ferrari on Oct. 22, 2006, at Interlagos in Brazil. He retired but returned to F1 with Mercedes for three more seasons in 2010.

The former driver was skiing with his son in December 2013 when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock, splitting open the helmet.

Doctors worked to remove blood clots from his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded. Schumacher's condition stabilized after he was placed in a drug-induced coma, from which he later emerged. But updates on his health have been scarce since he left the hospital in September 2014 to be cared for privately at his Swiss home by Lake Geneva.

News Football

Soccer legend Pele meets rising star Mbappe in Paris

AP Updated: 3 April, 2019, 10:32 AM IST


When Kylian Mbappe netted France's final goal in a 4-2 win over Croatia last July, the rising star became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final — emulating soccer great Pele.

After exchanging praise for one another for months, the pair finally met on Tuesday at an event organized by a Swiss watchmaker in a lavish Parisian hotel. Their meeting had initially been planned for last November but was canceled because of the 78-year-old Pele's poor health at the time.

"I think he is envying me, that's why he is trying to emulate me," a relaxed Pele joked after they were introduced on a small stage. "His style, the way he is playing, is Latino. Even Brazilian I would say. It's a shame he did not play for Santos (Pele's former club). But it's not too late."

Mbappe's rise to the top has been meteoric. After impressing with his former club Monaco, he received his first call-up with France in March 2017. He was sold to Paris Saint-Germain that summer for 180 million euros ($210 million) and won the World Cup less than 12 months later. Mbappe's most memorable game in Russia was in in a 4-3 victory against Argentina where he scored twice, earned a penalty and showed off his blistering speed under the eye of a powerless Lionel Messi.

Mbappe said he knew that he would "enter history" alongside Pele with a goal in the World Cup final.

After scoring twice in Brazil's 5-2 win against Sweden in the final of 1958, when he was just 17, Pele went on to win another two World Cups with Brazil.

It remains to be seen if Mbappe will do the same, but the French forward believes it's "statistically possible."

"But it would be unreal," he said. "Of course, as long as I will be able to win World Cups, my goal will be to win them because France is a great nation of football," he said. "We will be back in 2022 to try and win again."

Pele said Mbappe and his French teammates reminded him of Brazil's great national teams from the 1960's.

"Mbappe said France will prepare to win the next World Cup, but he should know that we (Brazil) are also going to get ready," Pele said.

News Football

Neymar to resume training with PSG

AP Updated: 3 April, 2019, 10:30 AM IST


Paris Saint-Germain says Brazil star Neymar will resume training on Wednesday after he was sidelined for more than two months with a foot injury.

PSG said in a statement that Neymar, who was injured playing against Strasbourg in a French Cup game in late January with a recurrence of a fifth metatarsal injury he sustained one year earlier, will return as planned for "on-pitch tests."

"A full medical and radiological assessment will be carried out by club's specialists in two weeks," PSG said.

According to L'Equipe newspaper, the Brazil star is hopeful of returning for the French Cup final at the end of April if PSG advances.

On Tuesday, Neymar also appeared in a video published by his country's far-right president where he promises to visit Israel.

Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro put the video on Twitter during his visit to Israel on Tuesday. Bolsonaro speaks into the camera, flanked by Israeli Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanhayu, before Neymar is shown sitting on a sofa and sending a message to the duo.

"Hello Bibi and Bolsonaro. Thanks for inviting us. Israel, we are coming," Neymar said.

Two-time surfing world champion Gabriel Medina, one of Neymar's closest friends, also promised to visit.

News Wrestling

“Winner Takes All” at First-Ever Women’s Main Event of WrestleMania

AP Updated: 3 April, 2019, 10:27 AM IST


WWE announced that the first-ever women’s main event of WrestleMania featuring Ronda Rousey (Raw Women’s Champion) vs. Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women’s Champion) vs. Becky Lynch will now be a “Winner Takes All” Match for both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championship titles. WrestleMania takes place this Sunday, April 7 in front of a capacity crowd at MetLife Stadium and streams live on WWE Network around the world at 7 pm ET.

Charlotte Flair is now an eight-time Champion after winning the SmackDown Women’s Championship this past Tuesday vs. Asuka. Flair is a former Division 1 volleyball player, philanthropist, author, and is the daughter of two-time WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair. Ronda Rousey is the current Raw Women’s Champion, Olympic medalist, the first female UFC Champion, and the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. She is also an actress and New York Times bestselling author. Becky Lynch is the 2019 Women's Royal Rumble winner, a two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion and was named Wrestler of the Year by both Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports in 2018. She was also the first woman ever to top ESPN’s WWE Power Rankings.

News Cricket

Ryan Harris makes a big statement on Mohammed Shami

Harshit Anand Updated: 2 April, 2019, 5:49 PM IST


Former Australia pacer and KXIP bowling coach, Ryan Harris has termed Mohammed Shami as the leader of the pack when it comes to bowling in Kings XI Punjab's squad. Shami is an integral part of the Indian team in Test and ODI formats respectively.

The Amroha-born pacer has been phenomenal in the last few months and is going to be important for the Men in Blue in the Cricket World Cup that commences from May 30 in England and Wales.

“I don’t have to work much on Shami, he does it himself. He has been outstanding around the (KXIP) group, talking about plans, talking to me. Most guys want to pick his brains. If not the best, he is one of the best bowlers in the world at the moment,” Harris told PTI.

“The first couple of days I met him (at KXIP camp), he told me how he improved his fitness and dropped 7-8kgs. How he did some training in hot conditions in Chennai, making him lose weight rapidly.

“Knowing myself as well who went through a stage where I was a little heavy, it makes a big difference when you are not carrying that extra bit of weight. You can go longer (in your spells) and it is easier on your joints. He is bowling with good pace and good consistency and it is good to see that," he added.

News Cricket

Adam Zampa & Marcus Stoinis take their bromance to another level

Staff Writer Updated: 2 April, 2019, 5:19 PM IST


Australia whitewashed Pakistan in the five match ODI series. The contest was one sided as visitors didn't give any chance to the hosts. More than Australia's victory, the bromance between Adam Zampa and Marcus Stoinis remained the hot topic during the series.

During the second match, both of them were seen s