Real Madrid's European reign ends with shock loss to Ajax

AP Updated: 6 March, 2019, 10:34 AM IST


Kings of Europe no more. Real Madrid's Champions League reign is over.

More than 1,000 days since winning the first of three consecutive European titles, Real Madrid unprecedented era of dominance ended with a whimper when the Spanish giant was stunned 4-1 by Ajax at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

The humiliating loss meant Madrid was eliminated 5-3 on aggregate in the round of 16, leaving the club looking at a trophy-less season in its first campaign since mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus.

"We were not going to win the Champions League forever," said Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernandez, who was sent off in the final minutes of the game. "Reigns eventually come to an end. Something like this was going to happen sooner or later."

In the end, the club renowned for assembling its team with expensive "Galactico" signings was undone by a club centered around a core of homegrown young talents.

Ajax, which is enjoying a resurgence thanks to young stars like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, needed less than 20 minutes to reverse a 2-1 deficit from the first leg, with Hakim Ziyech scoring in the seventh minute and David Neres in the 18th.

Dusan Tadic, who set up both first-half goals, added to the lead in the 62nd, and Lasse Schone sealed the Dutch team's triumph with a free kick from a tight angle in the 72nd. Marco Asensio had pulled the hosts closer a couple of minutes earlier.

"We always believed we had a chance, and we had 4,000 fans here who believed as well," Ajax coach Erick ten Hag said. "Over the two matches we definitely deserve to progress to the next round."

In Tuesday's other game, Tottenham won 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund to go through 4-0 on aggregate, reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2011.

Ajax was playing in the last 16 for the first time since 2006 and will be making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2003

For Madrid, it was the fourth straight home loss in all competitions, something that hadn't happened since 2004, and capped one of the worst weeks in the club's recent history. The team was coming off two demoralizing home losses to archrival Barcelona — 1-0 in the Spanish league and 3-0 in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey.

Out of the Copa del Rey and 12 points behind Barcelona in the Spanish league, the Champions League was Real Madrid's only realistic chance of winning anything this season.

"We are sad. We are hurt," Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari said. "We gave our best but it wasn't enough. All we can do is come back tomorrow and keep working hard. The season continues and we have to keep playing."

Madrid hadn't lost a Champions League knockout tie since the 2015 semifinal against Juventus. It had reached at least the semifinals in eight straight seasons and hadn't failed to make it past the last 16 since 2010.

In the group stage this season, it had lost 3-0 to CSKA Moscow at the Bernabeu for what had been its worst ever European loss.

Madrid was without suspended captain Sergio Ramos, who was sanctioned by UEFA for deliberately earning a late booking late in the first leg, and the defense struggled from the start on Tuesday. The attack also faltered again, with the forwards missing chance after chance.

The Bernabeu crowd went silent early when Ziyech opened the scoring after a breakaway that started with a run by Tadic through the right flank. The already nervous crowd was stunned again about 10 minutes later when Neres added to the lead from close range after Tadic got past a few Real Madrid defenders with a run from near the midfield, clearing Casemiro with a superb spin move and dribble. Neres beat Luka Modric to Tadic's through ball and went past Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois before finding the open net.

Things got worse for Madrid as both Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior had to be substituted before halftime because of injuries — being replaced by Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio.

Vinicius Junior was hurt at the end of a long run in which he nearly opened the scoring for Madrid. The young Brazilian appeared to be crying as he made his way back to the bench.

Bale struck the woodwork with a shot over Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana just before halftime.

Raphael Varane had hit the crossbar with a header less than five minute into the match, and he also missed from close range later in the first half. Asensio and Nacho Fernandez also wasted opportunities as Madrid's lack of scoring touch was costly again.

Although the hosts kept pressing, it was Ajax that kept threatening the most throughout the game, missing several chances to increase its lead.

Tadic got his goal with a left-footed shot from inside the area, which was upheld after a lengthy video review to see whether the ball had gone out of play before Ajax launched a quick counterattack. Asensio gave his team a glimmer of hope in the 70th, but it was snuffed out just two minutes later when Schone's curling free kick from the left flank beat Courtois and sealed the stunning triumph.

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News Cricket

Virat Kohli has massive praise for Shankar, says he made his batting easy

Harshit Anand Updated: 6 March, 2019, 12:43 PM IST


Vijay Shankar won a lot of accolades for his critical performance in yesterday's encounter between India and Australia in Nagpur. India won the second game by eight runs. Shankar scored 46 runs and picked up two wickets.

Virat Kohli had a special mention for Shankar. "I want to specially congratulate Vijay [Shankar] because of the way he batted and also for the way he bowled in the last over. That requires a lot of mental strength and he showed a lot of character," Kohli told Chahal.

"When Vijay and I were batting, we built a very good partnership. I think he [Vijay] batted really well, in a very good flow which made my job also easy. With that partnership, I thought India could post in excess of 270 but unfortunately, he was run-out. After that I had to reassess the total," said Kohli.

Virat Kohli scored his 40th ODI century yesterday. Aaron Finch termed Kohli's century as one of his finest ever innings. Kohli also became the fastest to 9,000 international runs as skipper. He was also adjudged the Man-of-the-Match. And if he continues playing the way he has been, Kohli would reach the magical 50 century landmark in ODIs soon.

News Cricket

"Kuldeep deserved headlines for both ODIs, not Kedar-Dhoni and Virat-Shankar": Sanjay Manjrekar 

Harshit Anand Updated: 6 March, 2019, 10:57 AM IST


India won a thriller against Australia in the second ODI in Nagpur. Vijay Shankar defended 11 runs in the final over off the game and as a result, the Men in Blue won the game by eight runs to take a lead of 2-0 in the five-match ODI series.

People credited Virat Kohli and Vijay Shankar for India's win. Kohli had made a brilliant century while Shankar scored 46 runs and took two wickets in the game. Somewhere down the line, people didn't credit Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah as much even though they took three and two wickets respectively.

Cricket commentator and analyst, Sanjay Manjrekar opined on the same and tweeted, "How easily we give batsmen all the credit. That India is 2-0 up is thanks more to the bowlers than the batsmen."

"50 overs format is so heavily loaded in favour of batsmen. The imbalance exists even before the game begins. It pains me when bowlers are not given their due. Kuldeep should have grabbed headlines in both games. But it was more Kedar, Dhoni last game & now Virat, Shankar."

News Wrestling

Professional wrestler King Kong Bundy dies at age 61

AP Updated: 6 March, 2019, 10:38 AM IST


King Kong Bundy, the 6-foot-4 (193-centimeter) professional wrestler best known for facing Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania 2, has died. He was 61.

Bundy died on Monday, said promoter and longtime friend David Herro. He posted on Facebook : "Today we lost a Legend and a man I consider family." The cause of death and other details were not disclosed.

Bundy, whose real name was Christopher Pallies, was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 458-pound (208-kilogram) wrestler made his World Wrestling Federation debut in 1981.

He faced Hogan in 1986 in a steel cage match at WrestleMania 2, which Hogan won. WWE said he was one of the "greatest ... big men to lace up a set of boots."

Hogan tweeted he was "overwhelmed" by Bundy's death. "R.I.P. big man until we meet again. HH."

Bundy had guest appearances on the sitcom "Married ... with Children," in which the family on the show shared the Bundy name.

He left the WWF, which later became World Wrestling Entertainment, in the late 1980s but returned in 1994 as part of The Million Dollar Corporation, a group managed by "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.

Bundy had been planning to appear next month at WrestleCon in New York City.

News Cricket

Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid lead England to win in 1st T20

AP Updated: 6 March, 2019, 10:30 AM IST


Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid guided a depleted England side to a four-wicket victory over the West Indies on Tuesday in the first Twenty20.

England excused four of their first-choice side after the drawn ODI series — Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali — but Bairstow plugged a big gap in the batting lineup with a career-best 68 from 40 balls.

Opening for the first time in 28 matches he broke the back of a 161-run target, which owed much to Rashid's miserly return of 1-15. Tom Curran walked away with four wickets as the West Indies posted 160-8 but it was Rashid's precise stint which did most to stall the home side.

Joe Denly and Sam Billings both fell with the end line in sight but Curran reappeared to hit the winning boundary with seven balls remaining.

Chris Gayle, the man-of-the-series in the ODIs, fell to Chris Jordan's wide yorker which he could only squeeze to short third man. Shimron Hetmyer also failed to leave his mark on proceedings, chipping in with 14 before pumping a Curran full toss straight to mid-on.

Darren Bravo and Nicholas Pooran helped claw back some of the lost ground, as the fourth-wicket pair added 64 in 51 balls but were parted in style by the returning Jordan.

The reply began in a flurry of activity as Sheldon Cottrell's opening over contained 17 runs, a dropped catch and finally the wicket of Alex Hales.

Joe Root's hopes of sharpening his T20 skills lasted exactly two balls, lbw to Cottrell attempting to open up the leg-side, but Bairstow was unaffected.

He launched himself into a 13-ball sequence containing five boundaries and one six, driving England to 62 for two in the powerplay, well ahead of the West Indies benchmark.

Bairstow nicked Carlos Brathwaite on 34 but a fingertip catch skimmed off Hope's gloves and brought him four more. Brathwaite did manage to see off skipper Eoin Morgan but Bairstow was dropped again by Cottrell shortly after reaching a 27-ball 50 with his second six.

By the time he was held at wide long-on, he had left a target of 58 in 50 balls.

Billings and Denly, both of whom are still seeking to find their place in the England set-up, chalked off all but eight of the required runs in calm fashion before nerves struck.

Holder persuaded Denly to hole out with 14 balls remaining then Billings had a let-off next ball, Oshane Thomas just failing to hang to a mis-cued pull at fine leg.

Reprieved, Billings then swiped at a Cottrell cutter that knocked back his stumps. Four byes over Hope's head eased the growing tension allowing Curran to slog the winning runs.

News Cricket

Sir Ravindra Jadeja joins legends in elite list

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 11:25 PM IST


Ravindra Jadeja scored 21 runs in the second ODI against Australia in Nagpur. The left hand batsman crossed the 2000-run mark in his career and became the third Indian player to score 2000 or more runs and take 150 or more wickets in ODIs.

He joined the likes of Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar in this elite list. Sachin Tendulkar has amassed 18426 ODI runs and also took 154 wickets. Kapil Dev, on the other hand, has scored 3782 runs and took 253 wickets in one-day internationals.

He scored his 2000th run in the 41st over of the Indian innings on the bowling of Glenn Maxwell. He was dismissed after scoring 21 runs off 40 balls. He tried to get aggressive against in-form Pat Cummins but ended up giving a simple catch to Usman Khawaja. Jadeja now has 2011 runs and 171 wickets in ODI cricket.

News Cricket

 Virat Kohli equals Sachin Tendulkar’s world record

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 10:29 PM IST


Australia needed 11 runs off the last over with two wickets left, and lost to India by eight runs in the second one-day cricket international on Tuesday.

Chasing 251 to win, Australia was in it going into the last over until new all-rounder Vijay Shankar, a medium-pacer, trapped Marcus Stoinis on 52 with the first delivery, and bowled Adam Zampa on 2 with the third delivery.

"I was ready to bowl that over. Only if I do it will people know I can," Shankar said after his first two wickets in his sixth ODI. "It was just about being mentally clear, not be crowded mentally."

Australia was all out for 242 in 49.3 overs, and India led the five-match series 2-0. The third match is in Ranchi on Friday.

Virat Kohli was man of the match for his 40th hundred, nine less than Sachin Tendulkar's ODI record. Kohli’s 116 off 120 balls, including 10 boundaries, propped up India's par total of 250 all out in the 49th over.

"It's important to look ugly at times, and come through and win," Kohli said. "We might get these low-scoring games in the World Cup as well."

Kohli had to dig deep and combined for 67 with Ravindra Jadeja to take India past 200 in the 39th. In doing so, he reached 100 off 107 balls.

Virat Kohli has equaled Sachin Tendulkar's record of most tons in a winning cause in ODI cricket. The current Indian skipper has hit 40 tons in one-day internationals out of which 33 have come in a winning cause. Former Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 49 centuries in ODIs, also has 33 such tons under his belt.

News Cricket

 Bowlers lead India to thrilling win

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 9:35 PM IST


India defeated Australia by 8 runs in the second ODI to go 2-0 up in the five-match series. Vijay Shankar was asked to bowl the last over of the innings with Australia needing 11 runs to win. He first dismissed Marcus Stoinis and then rattled Adam Zampa’s stumps to give Men in Blue their 500th win in one-day internationals. Kuldeep Yadav was star of the day, picking up three wickets in the game. Jasprit Bumrah was once again accurate and he went on to add two more scalps in his overall wicket tally.

Earlier, Kohli scored 116 off 120 balls as India was sent in and bowled out for 250 in the 49th over. Australia was in the chase until the last over. Australia was all out for 242 in 49.2 overs. The third match is in Ranchi on Friday.


News Cricket

There is a toss-up between these two players for the final spot in India's WC squad

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 6:12 PM IST


The whole cricketing community is awaiting the commencement of the ICC Cricket World Cup. The ICC showpiece event would commence from May 30 in England and Wales. There is a lot of curiosity around India's World Cup squad given the vast talent pool and options in consideration. 

As per reports in the Indian Express, there is a toss-up between Ravindra Jadeja and Vijay Shankar for a place in the Indian squad for the ODI World Cup. Selectors will be keenly following the performances of both Shankar and Jadeja throughout the ODI series between India and Australia to decide the player, who should travel with the Indian squad for the ICC megaevent. 

Vijay Shankar has scored 45 and 46 runs in his last two ODI knocks. Both the innings have come under pressure. Ravindra Jadeja bowled a very economical spell in the first ODI against Australia but it is notable that he didn't play in New Zealand ODIs and was not even picked in India's original squad for the Australia series. Hardik Pandya's injury paved way for Jadeja. 

News Cricket

"Vijay Shankar for no.4 and WC," Twitter goes crazy after he scores a classy 46

Harshit Anand Updated: 5 March, 2019, 5:48 PM IST


Indian all-rounder, Vijay Shankar drew widespread praise after he scored 46 runs off 41 deliveries in the second ODI against Australia at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. On a slow wicket, Shankar batted fluently and played shots that oozed class and elegance.

Shankar got a promotion and came to bat at no.5 for India. He hit five fours and a six in his 41-ball stay at the crease. His straight drives and pull shots served as eye candy for the fans.

Shankar has thrown his hat and is in the race to go to England and Wales for the Cricket World Cup that commences from May 30. He was unlucky to get run-out today but impressed one and all.

Take a look at how Twitter reacted to his dismissal:

News Cricket

"Kohli is better than Sachin and best ODI batsman hands down," Twitter hails King Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 5:42 PM IST


Indian skipper, Virat Kohli scored his 40th ODI century in the second game against Australia at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. Virat had last scored a century in Adelaide against Australia and after that, he was failing to convert his starts into a big score.

But you can't keep the King away from scoring centuries. And Kohli on a difficult wicket, when others barring Vijay Shankar struggled greatly, scored 116 runs and ensured that India reached a respectable total of 250 runs.

Take a look at some of the tweets after Kohli scored his century:

Feature Tennis

The master and the heir apparent

Partab Ramchand Updated: 5 March, 2019, 5:12 PM IST


It is sometimes difficult to believe that Roger Federer is nearer 38 than 37 or that he has playing professional tennis for 20 years – which is the age of his opponent Stefanos Tsitsipas whom he defeated in the final of the Dubai Open on Sunday and to whom he went down in a shocking loss in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January. In fact as he jokingly said after winning the title in Dubai ``I don’t know if Stefanos was born when I won my first title.’’ But Federer is quick to spot a prodigiously gifted talent. ``It is a privilege to play against possible future champions. I am sure Stefanos will have a wonderful career.’’

In fact it seemed somehow fitting that the title clash was between a living legend and a player who is widely thought to be the next big thing on the tennis circuit. But that’s for the future. At the moment it is once again Federer’s turn to bask in the sun and his triumph was made more memorable for Dubai marked his 100th singles title. He became only the second man in the Open era to reach this figure. The Swiss is now only nine behind American great Jimmy Connors who racked up 109 titles in a 24-year career.

Competition has always been high since tennis went Open in 1968 but over the years it is getting more and more intense. Connors was a fighter who hated to lose and this hunger for success along with his all court game saw him run up his fabulous record. Given the fact that tennis is even more competitive than it was in Connors’ heyday in the 70s and 80s Federer’s is a tremendous feat. But then such feats and records have come to be expected from Federer. Every year there is some talk whether this could be his final year on the circuit. But these have remained idle talk. And why should there be any talk of retirement when he is still winning tournaments. The Dubai win took him from No 7 to No 4 in the latest ATP rankings and with Connors’ all time record being an incentive one is sure that Federer no less hungry for success will continue to be around for some more time.

In the meantime Tsitsipas hasn’t done his reputation any damage. The Greek’s runner-up position at Dubai has seen him make the top ten for the first time. His has been a remarkable climb to the top and he is clearly the leader of the GenNext of players who are hoping to take over from the likes of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Whether that will be this year or the next remains to be seen. For the moment it is still the era of the ``Big Three.’’

Feature Cricket

Asian Games Push for Cricket

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 March, 2019, 5:09 PM IST


In what must look like a lifeline for the International Cricket Council (ICC), the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has brought back cricket amongst the disciplines for the 2022 games.

Cricket has always shared an awkward situation on the world stage. And it seems that although it would appear that the decision was another long rope for the ICC and for the sport to expand its exposure and interest from the perspective of globalization, several matters are still something of an uncertainty even as the OCA announced that it would include cricket back in the Asian Games scheduled for 2022 in Hangzhou.

With the ICC openly harbouring hopes of having cricket be represented at the Olympics, the Asian Games provides a platform and another feather on their resume that makes their case for the inclusion of cricket stronger. From that perspective alone, the ICC will welcome the inclusion although it will be hard pressed to influence some boards and teams about the veracity of participating in the games in 2022 and also, to the end of redefining its agendas which may and sometimes do differ from those of the opposing boards.

That said, India’s non-participation last time round did not stop the Asian Games from going ahead with cricket and also, gave Pakistan and Sri Lanka the opportunity to dominate proceedings in the natural scheme of things. With the games still being a fair bit away, speculation could go either way whether all Asian Test playing nations will throw themselves wholeheartedly into the games at Hangzhou.

While any exposure for the sport, on a global level, is a boost, what makes this scenario somewhat dubious is the fact that it has not always seen all around participation in that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) preferred their players stay home and play other tournaments vis-à-vis the Asian Games the last time it was held more than four years back. Besides in a multi format sport, there has been argument made for which format is the ideal representation at the global stage in a multi team tournament and the only reason Twenty20 appears to be winning the majority vote is mainly from the standpoint of convenience with its being the shortest format and also, requiring a lot less of the nomenclature that goes into Test cricket.

Apart from the obvious conundrum, there are, also, issues about the availability as well as viability of cricket grounds to best represent the game, something that has come in the way of cricket’s expansion plans. While time factor is being stated for why Twenty20 would be a more accommodating format, there are concerns in some quarters that the shortest format not necessarily being the ideal format to take the game to the world, the idea of cricket being represented as such could actually shortchange the game.

Although on the face of it, the inclusion of cricket in the Asian Games once more seems like cricket getting back on the propaganda wagon, how much credence and merit it holds is largely in question.

News Cricket

MS Dhoni dismissed for fifth golden duck in ODIs

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 5:05 PM IST


Three days after playing a match winning innings in the first ODI against Australia, MS Dhoni, the former Indian skipper, was dismissed for a first ball duck in the second match of the series. This was the fifth time when he fell after facing just one ball in his innings.

He came out to bat at the fall of Men in Blue's fifth wicket in the form of Kedar Jadhav. Dhoni tried to play a backfoot punch off the first delivery bowled by Aussie spinner Adam Zampa but the ball took the outside edge which was grabbed by Usman Khawaja at the first slip. The duck was Dhoni's 10th in one-day internationals.

Among the Indian players, Dhoni is the 16th batsman to register 10 or more ducks. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli have registered more than 10 ducks in their respective careers.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli scores 40th ODI century during second ODI against Australia

Staff Writer Updated: 5 March, 2019, 4:44 PM IST


The Indian skipper played one of the best innings of his career during the second ODI against Australia. He missed out on a big score in the first ODI of the series but made it count in the ongoing second match. The right hand batsman scored a well compiled hundred, his 40th in one day internationals. He stitched a fruitful partnership with Vijay Shankar.