News Tennis

Nick Kyrgios, Wang Yafan win Mexico Open titles

AP Updated: 4 March, 2019, 11:18 AM IST


Nick Kyrgios won the Mexico Open for his fifth ATP Tour title, beating second-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4 in the hardcourt event at The Princess Mundo Imperial.

The 23-year-old Kyrgios, ranked 72nd in the world, beat second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the second round, then knocked off Stan Wawrinka and John Isner to reach the final.

Kyrgios won for the first time since the Brisbane event early last year, with all five of the Australian's titles coming on hardcourts.

Zverev, the German star ranked No. 3, has 10 ATP Tour victories, winning five times in 2017 and four last year.

Earlier, China's Wang Yafan won her first WTA Tour title, beating fifth-seeded Sofia Kenin 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. The 24-year-old Wang, ranked 65th, overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the second set.

In women's doubles, Victoria Azarenka won a title for the first time since giving birth to son Leo in December 2016, teaming with Zheng Saisai to beat third-seeded Guiiana Olmos and Desirae Krawczyk 6-1, 6-2.

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News Cricket

Virat Kohli in danger of losing number-one Test ranking

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 2:30 PM IST


Kane Williamson completed a meticulous double century and New Zealand compiled its highest score in tests on day 3 of the first Test match against Bangladesh. Williamson struck a four from the last ball of the innings to reach 200 not out before declaring New Zealand's innings at 715-6, a lead of 481 runs. Williamson's innings propelled New Zealand on to its highest test total, which ground down the Bangladesh bowlers.

Williamson has become a relentless run-scoring machine for New Zealand with 20 centuries and 29 half centuries in 71 tests at an average of 52. He has now scored almost 900 runs in the eight tests New Zealand has played in the past year, with a double century, two centuries and three half centuries in that time.

Williamson has lifted himself to second place on world test batting rankings, behind India captain Virat Kohli, and he also became only the fourth New Zealander after Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor to pass 6,000 runs in tests.

Williamson has reached a career-best 915 rating points in the ICC Player Rankings for Test batsmen. He is seven points behind Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who is the number one Test batsman with 922 points.

News Cricket

Faf du Plessis names his biggest weapon as captain

Harshit Anand Updated: 4 March, 2019, 2:28 PM IST


South Africa won the first ODI against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg by eight wickets. Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi had set up the base for the victory. Both picked three wickets each and helped the hosts restrict Sri Lanka to an average total of 231 runs.

Tahir was the stand-out bowler since he ended up with figures of 3/26. Du Plessis termed him as his biggest weapon. "He is probably my biggest weapon as a captain over the years,” Du Plessis said of Tahir. Notably, Tahir's contract was not renewed for the 2019/2020 season by Cricket South Africa.

Faf also credited Lungi Ngidi, who took early wickets of Niroshan Dickwella and Upul Tharanga. Ngidi was returning to the side after a while. "Imran bowled brilliantly in the middle overs today but it was really important to get wickets with the new ball,” said Du Plessis.

The Proteas skipper himself played a major role in team's win as he scored a brilliant century. Wicket-keeper batsman, Quinton de Kock had also made a terrific half-century.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli breaks another World Record

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 1:55 PM IST


Virat Kohli was looking impressive during the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad before he missed a googly from Adam Zampa and was trapped in front of the wickets. The appeal was turned down by the on-field umpire but Australia reviewed it and got the wrong decision successfully overturned. Kohli's knock of 44 runs was laced with 6 fours and a six.

After Kohli's dismissal, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu were also dismissed in quick succession, leaving the hosts in big trouble. MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav scored match winning fifties during their unbeaten 141-run stand to take India home. Jadhav scored 81 not out while Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 59 as India won the series opener by six wickets.

Meanwhile, Kohli ended up breaking a long-standing world record during his 44-run knock. The Indian skipper completed 12,000 runs in List A cricket and became the 50th player to achieve the feat. He reached the milestone in 248 innings and broke former Australia batsman Michael Bevan's record. Bevan had completed 12,000 runs in List A cricket in 297 innings.

News Cricket

Usman Khawaja gives ultimate praise to MS Dhoni

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 1:40 PM IST


Australian opener Usman Khawaja has lauded MS Dhoni for the way he led India to win in tense situation during the first ODI in Hyderabad. Praising MS Dhoni for staying calm and compose under pressure, Khawaja stated Dhoni executes run-chases to perfection most of the times.

His comments come after MS Dhoni stitched an impressive and match winning partnership with Kedar Jadhav in the first ODI of the series.

India were in a spot of bother when Dhoni and Jadhav joined hands. Dhoni once again played the anchor’s role to perfection during an unbeaten 141-run stand with Jadhav. Dhoni remained unbeaten on 59 while Jadhav smashed 81 not out as India defeated Australia by six wickets.

"He [Dhoni] just executes well. He has the last three games, just stayed calm and backed himself to take it deep. Then when he needs to he hits a boundary. You can tell he sort of changes gears, he'll hit single, single, two then try to hit a boundary," Khawaja was quoted as saying by

"It doesn't always come off but the majority of times it does. He does that really well, that's experience."

News Cricket

Mohammed Siraj discloses how Dhoni and Kohli treat young bowlers in Indian team

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 12:47 PM IST


Mohammed Siraj, who was picked in Indian ODI side for Australia series, might not have had impressed a lot with his bowling but he has been doing well in domestic cricket for a while. He was erratic and expensive in his debut ODI against Australia. The lanky pacer opened up on his Australia experience.

“I had big shoes to fill of Bumrah. It’s was disappointing just to play in only one ODI, but I learned so much from taking part in the training sessions. I am feeling and bowling well and it is good to perform in the domestic circuit coming back from my stint with the Indian team,” Siraj told CricketNext.

He also revealed how Indian captain Virat Kohli and former captain, MS Dhoni guide Indian bowlers. He said, “Kohli and (MS) Dhoni backed me throughout on these tours. They provided useful tips in the practice sessions there like how to bowl in different situations, which areas to bowl and what type of yorkers to bowl.

“They (Kohli and Dhoni) spent time with all bowlers individually. Coaches (Bharat) Arun and Ravi (Shastri) sir’s inputs were also very good. They told me to bowl in the nets like I would bowl in match conditions and that helped me get a lot of focus. They instructed me not to try experiment too much, just bowl back of a length as much as possible,” added Siraj.

News Cricket

Ashish Nehra backs Shikhar Dhawan to hit form

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 12:30 PM IST


Shikhar Dhawan, the Indian opener, is struggling to get going for Men in Blue. After a free flowing 2018, he has been a shadow of his illustrious past in the ongoing year. He was dismissed without troubling the scorers in the series opener against Australia and now questions are being asked about his position in the squad ahead of the World Cup.

Nehra, however, is still backing Dhawan to hit form in the remaining matches of the series. He has amassed just 243 runs in nine innings in the ODIs format this year at an average of over 30. Former Indian pace bowler is not bothered about Dhawan's lean patch.

"Rahul there or not there, any player who is playing will look to score runs. It is not that Dhawan has played 10-15 innings without doing anything. Even for Rahul, he has scored just those two - 50 and 47 in the T20I format (vs. Australia). If he wouldn't have done that, the question would have been irrelevant. Yes, Dhawan needs to score runs but he didn't play much cricket. I feel he is one good innings away from coming back to form. I am not that worried about Dhawan," Nehra told CricketNext.

News Cricket

After becoming world no.1 batswoman, Smriti Mandhana reveals her ultimate career goal

Staff Writer Updated: 4 March, 2019, 11:58 AM IST


After achieving top rank in the ODIs, Indian women's team opener Smriti Mandhana now wants to win a World Cup title with Women in Blue. She became the number one batswoman in the ODI ICC Women's rankings last month following her sensational batting display. She will lead India in the three-match T20 series against England.

“As a kid when you start playing, you always think of winning the World Cup. Obviously, there are individual targets like, getting to ICC world no.1 spot. And reaching there was really pleasing but now I have to work even harder. To stay there is much more important than getting there,” said Mandhana.

“As a batter the most important thing is to reach the ICC world no.1 position. Definitely it was one of the small goals for me, but my major goal is definitely to win the World Cup,” she added.

The series against England will help the team to identify main players ahead of the T20 World Cup next year but the stand-in skipper’s primary goal is to win the series.

“Definitely we are looking to win the series and not just trying out new faces. We really have a very exciting team. It is important for us to believe that we are going into the series to win it rather than experimenting,” the skipper said.

“First goal is to win the series and if we can achieve that we will definitely be able to find new faces for the World Cup. It would be much easier rather than thinking the other way.”

Feature Cricket

West Indies emerge as the dark horses for the World Cup

Partab Ramchand Updated: 4 March, 2019, 11:26 AM IST


On the eve of the series against England Chris Gayle said he would retire from ODIs after the World Cup. Then midway through with his form as good as ever he admitted that he was having a rethink on that decision. And at the end of it all if he really went back on his decision the cricketing world would rejoice at having the entertainer extraordinaire carry on for some more time.

But obviously the comment midway through was made in jest in keeping with Gayle’s image of a fun loving cricketer who loves his dance steps almost as much as he enjoys batting has endeared him to cricket fans. The extrovert that he is he relishes playing to the gallery and being the centre of attention. Just the other day while announcing that he would retire from ODIs following the World Cup he came up with lines like ``You are looking at a great man’’ and ``I am the greatest player in the world’’ and ``Of course I am still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I will take that to the grave.’’ Which other cricketer would come up with lines like these that bring back memories of Muhammad Ali.

And yet as he walked off the field in the fifth and final ODI at St Lucia after scripting yet another famous West Indian victory – turning to salute all four corners of the ground – it was clear that even as he had played his last game on home turf the original decision would stay. But if his extraordinary form during the series was any indication it was certainly not because of any decline in his game. On the contrary even in his 40th year he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the game and rounded off an incredible series – 424 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 134 - with an innings of 77 in just 27 balls that included the fastest half century (19 deliveries) by a West Indian batsman in the history of the format. He hit 39 sixes from the 316 balls he faced in the series which means that incredibly every 8.10 balls he faced went for a six. During the series he became only the second West Indian batsman after Brian Lara to cross the 10,000 run mark in ODIs.

Thanks chiefly to Gayle a result between the No 1 ranked team in the world and the No 9 ranked team ended 2-2. And as he himself put it in a rather bland understatement ``we will get a bit of respect going into the World Cup.’’ The West Indies in fact have already emerged as the dark horses going into the competition.

News Tennis

Federer wins Dubai final to join Connors in century club

AP Updated: 4 March, 2019, 11:21 AM IST


Add a century of career titles to Roger Federer's staggering list of tennis achievements.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion became the second male player to win 100 tour-level tournaments in the professional era when he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Championships.

Jimmy Connors is the other player to reach the milestone, and the American ended his career on 109 titles.

"Welcome to the 'Triple Digit' tournament victory club," Connors said in a Twitter post to Federer, "I've been a bit lonely -- glad to have the company!!!"

By beating a player nearly half his age, the 37-year-old Federer continued his record of winning at least one title every season since his first in 2001 in Milan. Eight of his victories have come in Dubai.

"It's been a long, wonderful journey . I have loved every minute," Federer said. "It's been tough but the sacrifice has been very, very worthwhile and we'll see how much more I've got left in the tank.

"Reaching 100 is an absolute dream come true for me."

As well as his record haul of Grand Slam titles, which includes a record eight wins at Wimbledon, Federer has won a record six ATP Finals and topped the rankings for a record 310 weeks — including 237 straight.

In a battle of the generations, Federer avenged his loss to the 20-year-old Tsitsipas, a rising star from Greece, in the last 16 of the Australian Open in January.

Federer broke serve in the first game and took the set on his fourth set point.

The second set was more even, but Tsitsipas made the first big mistake in dumping an easy shot into the net to lose serve for a 5-4 deficit. His opponent then held serve to love to join Connors in the century club.

"I'm so happy I'm still playing," Federer said. "It all started as a junior world champion. It's been great. I wouldn't do it any differently."

News Football

After Barca losses, Madrid only has Champions League left

AP Updated: 4 March, 2019, 11:15 AM IST


Two demoralizing defeats to Barcelona have left Real Madrid with just one chance to salvage its season by winning a record-extending fourth consecutive Champions League trophy.

But it must do without the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, the star striker who fueled its title run before leaving for Juventus at the end of last season.

Madrid failed to score against Barcelona in two "clasico" matches at its Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the past week. Barcelona eliminated Madrid from the Copa del Rey semifinals with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday, and three days later left Madrid 12 points adrift in the Spanish league with a 1-0 win.

Madrid could do with rediscovering its scoring form to avoid another calamity when it hosts Dutch side Ajax in the return leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie. The visitors won the away leg in Amsterdam 2-1 thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio.

"We gave it our all (against Barcelona) but weren't decisive enough in the box," defender Dani Carvajal said. "On Tuesday, we need to lay it all on the line. They (Ajax) have had a good rest and we saw what they can do in the first leg. I hope the fans back us because we want to give them something to cheer."

Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund also need to overturn defeats by Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham to advance.

News Cricket

PSL cricket games moved from Lahore to Karachi

AP Updated: 4 March, 2019, 10:17 AM IST


The Pakistan Cricket Board moved three PSL matches from Lahore to Karachi after political and military tension between India and Pakistan.

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani says the decision was made "following the delayed opening of the Lahore airspace for commercial flights which has created substantial operational and logistical challenges."

Last Tuesday, an Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan and carried out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops. Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a fighter jet Wednesday and detaining its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday.

"Due to the recent and prevailing uncertainty, we felt it critical to make a decisive decision at this juncture," Mani said in a statement. "Ensuring all the matches are played in Pakistan falls in line with our vision to take all eight matches of the PSL to the people of Pakistan."

Lahore was due to host three matches from March 9-12 but these will now take place in Karachi, along with five other PSL games.

Tournament matches are also held in the United Arab Emirates. The Pakistan leg of the PSL will now start two days earlier on March 9 with the final still scheduled for Karachi on March 17.

"This has been a difficult and tough decision, which has been taken following discussion and consultation with all the franchises and service providers," Mani said.

PSL is an annual Pakistan domestic league competed between six franchises named after major cities — Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Islamabad, Peshawar, Islamabad and Multan.

News Cricket

Will IPL influence Men in Blue’s World Cup selection? Here’s what Sourav Ganguly said

Staff Writer Updated: 2 March, 2019, 10:27 PM IST


Virat Kohli had stated that performance in the Indian Premier League will not influence India's World Cup selection. Speaking on the eve of first ODI between India and Australia, Virat had clearly laid out the road map ahead of World Cup.

“No, I don’t see the IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very, very radical sort of analysis,” he had said.

When asked about IPL’s impact on the selection of the World Cup squad, Ganguly said: “World Cup is how you play in the World Cup. It’s (IPL) a different tournament. You just play and move on to the World Cup,” Ganguly opined.

He termed the upcoming World Cup to be the strongest because of the format.

“It’s difficult to pick a winning recipe, you just have to play well. This will probably be the strongest World Cup because everybody plays everybody.

“A lot of strong teams this time. India, Australia England, West Indies, New Zealand, Pakistan play very well in England. After winning against South Africa, I hope Sri Lanka turn it around. It will be a good World Cup,” said Ganguly.

News Cricket

World Cup 2019: Michael Hussey names his India squad for the showpiece event

Staff Writer Updated: 2 March, 2019, 10:09 PM IST


Former Australian cricketer Mike Hussey has picked his 15-member squad of Men in Blue for the World Cup. Hussey has omitted Rishabh Pant from his team as he preferred to go with Dinesh Karthik as second choice wicketkeeper batsman, while picking KL Rahul as a reserve opener. According to him, India are one of the favorites for the coveted title and it will not be easy for other teams to beat India in the showpiece event.

Mike Hussey's 15-member Indian squad for World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Amabati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja

Rohit and Dhawan have been kept as openers while Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu will follow next. Apart from choosing Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep as frontline spinners, he backed Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the main pace bowlers.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni overtakes Rohit Sharma to script another major record

Staff Writer Updated: 2 March, 2019, 10:04 PM IST


Men in Blue were in a spot of bother after losing three quick wickets in the first ODI against Australia in Hyderabad. However, veteran batsman MS Dhoni brought things under control and shared a match winning partnership with Kedar Jadhav.

Apart from playing some attractive strokes, they completed their individual fifties as well. After the quick dismissal of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu, they batted cautiously before unleasing their strokes.

Dhoni, who played another gem of an innings, hit a massive six against Coulter-Nile in the 38th over. With this big hit, he surpassed Rohit Sharma on the list of most number of sixes for India in ODI cricket. He now has 216 sixes in the format, one more than Rohit.

Most sixes for India in ODIs:

216 MS Dhoni*

215 Rohit Sharma

195 S Tendulkar

189 S Ganguly

153 Yuvraj Singh

131 V Sehwag

Earlier, Aussies posted a below par score of 236 for 7 from their allotted 50 overs. Indian bowlers had a reasonably good outing with Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav picking up two wickets each.