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Team India secures comprehensive victory at Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Dec 29: India bounced back in style to register an eight-wicket win against Australia on the fourth day of the second Test match at the historic Melbourne Cricket Ground, chasing down the fourth innings target of 70 runs.

Debutant Shubman Gill stayed unbeaten on 35 while captain Ajinkya Rahane completed the job he started in the first innings with a century as he blunted the Aussie attack with a signature unbeaten 27 and deservingly scored the winning runs.

The victory was India’s fourth at the MCG which means Melbourne has become India’s most successful venue away from home. This is a huge feat for India as Australia have traditionally been the toughest team to beat at home, especially for Asian countries.

Memories of the horror show of Adelaide must have come back to haunt the Indian cricket fans early on Tuesday morning as the impeccable line, length and pace of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins saw Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara sent back early. But Gill and Rahane stemmed the rot like they did in the first innings to take the visitors home. This was India’s second win in a row at Melbourne in Test cricket.

Earlier, the Indian bowlers ended the dogged resistance of the Australian tail, which managed to face 37.1 overs on the fourth morning and added 67 runs to their overnight score of 133/6.

It was frustrating but the Indian bowlers kept at it and the breakthrough finally came when Pat Cummins was sent back by Bumrah for 22, which broke a dangerous a 57-run stand.

Young all-rounder Cameron Green gave a great example of his temperament as he scored a patient 45 off 146 deliveries, adding another 21 runs with Mitchell Starc before falling to debutant Mohammed Siraj. The Hyderabad paceman accounted for Nathan Lyon soon, before Ravichandran Ashwin ended Josh Hazlewood’s brief stay in the middle as the hosts set India a target of 70 runs to win.

The foundation of the victory was set by the Indian batsmen who responded in style after their historic low of 36/9 in the second innings of the Adelaide Test. India took a massive lead of 131 runs as they scored 326 with skipper Ajinkya Rahane leading from the front with a knock of 112, which came to an end due to a run out.

Rahane stitched a 57-run fifth-wicket stand with Rishabh Pant before joining forces with Ravindra Jadeja to add another 121 runs that put India in the driver’s seat. Jadeja scored 57 while debutant Shubman Gill impressed with a chancy knock of 45 at the top of the order. Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon picked up three wickets apiece for the hosts.

India’s batsmen complemented the performance of its bowlers who were outstanding after Tim Paine decided to bat first after winning the toss. While Jasprit Bumrah ended the innings with 4/56, it was the guile of Ravichandran Ashwin that broke the back of the Aussie batting as he accounted for the key wickets of Matthew Wade, Steve Smith (for a duck) and Tim Paine. Siraj chipped in with two wickets in his debut Test innings while Jadeja picked up one.

But the real damage was done by the Indian bowlers on the third day as they showed great discipline to remove 6 Australian wickets, in the hosts’ second essay, on a pitch that was getting slower and becoming easier to bat on.

Umesh Yadav provided the breakthrough before hobbling off the field due to a calf injury. Down by a bowler, Bumrah and Ashwin dug deep in their reserves to bowl lengthy spells and picked up key wickets. They were backed up brilliantly by the duo of Siraj and Jadeja. The left-arm spin of Jadeja accounting for the wickets of Matthew Wade and Tim Paine.

It’s all to play for as the series is now tied at 1-1 with two matches to go and poised perfectly for the third match at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground.

Qatar unveils 4th stadium for FIFA World Cup

DOHA, Dec 19: The Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan which hosted the 48th Amir Cup final on Qatar National Day became the fourth fully operational FIFA World Cup 2022™ tournament venue to be inaugurated.

India's biggest construction firm, Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T), along with Qatari contractor, Al Balagh Trading & Contracting have built the architectural marvel.

The stadium – which will become the new home of Al Rayyan Sports Club – follows Khalifa International, Al Janoub and Education City in being declared ready to host the first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. The 40,000-capacity venue will host seven matches during Qatar 2022 up to the round of 16 stage.

Following a spectacular pre-match ceremony featuring music, cultural performances and stunning visual effects, along with a riddle recited by presenters Hamad bin Mohsen Al Naimi and Ali bin Rhema Al Marri, the final between Al Sadd and Al Arabi kicked off. Al Sadd won the match 2-1 to claim the Amir Cup for the 17th time in front of a socially distanced crowd of 50% the stadium’s capacity.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, who was in attendance praised the SC (Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy) for the successful completion of another Qatar 2022 tournament venue.

“Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is a wonderful venue for football,” said Infantino. “The atmosphere is incredible, with the seats extremely close to the pitch. Even with a socially-distanced crowd, I could feel the passion for the game. I am sure this will be a perfect football arena in 2022 when it hosts matches during the World Cup.”

Built on the site of a deconstructed stadium, the new venue is adjacent to the Mall of Qatar and within walking distance of Al Riffa Station – on Doha Metro’s Green Line. The stadium’s most striking feature is a glowing façade, comprised of patterns that characterise different aspects of Qatar: the importance of family, the beauty of the desert, native flora and fauna, and local and international trade. A fifth shape – a shield – brings together all the others, representing the strength and unity that is particularly relevant to the desert city of Al Rayyan.

Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the SC, said: “The inauguration of Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Qatar National Day is another important milestone on the road to 2022 and a triumph of the efforts of everyone involved to put on such a successful event during a global pandemic.”

Nasser Al Khater, Chief Executive Officer, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC, said: “We look forward to developing the Qatar 2022 fan experience further next year when we host more major tournaments, including the FIFA Club World Cup and FIFA Arab Cup – events which are sure to excite football lovers in Qatar, across the region and around the world.”

The match was attended by a host of famous faces from the football world, including Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, and UEFA President, Aleksander Čeferin. Also in attendance were star names such as Samuel Eto’o, Tim Cahill, Mohamed Aboutrika and Ali Al Habsi.

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona dies at 60

TIGRE, Nov 24: Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona has passed away at his home in Tigre after suffering a cardiac arrest, according to a spokesman.

The flamboyant player, best known for leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title, was 60.

Earlier in November, Maradona had undergone a surgery for a brain clot.

His personal doctor, neurologist Leopoldo Luque, had said that the problem likely was caused by an accident.

He was, however, released from a Buenos Aires hospital just over a week after undergoing the surgery, and was to continue his recovery in a private home.

Maradona's lawyer, Matias Morla, had said he will continue to receive treatment for alcohol dependency. He was reportedly staying in a house near his older daughters.

He had celebrated his 60th Birthday on October 30 and had showed up that night for Gimnasia's national championship match against Patronato, which his team won 3-0.

He left before the end of the first half, which had raised questions about his health.

Before his birthday, Maradona had been isolating at home after coming into contact with a person who showed systems of COVID-19.

Along with Brazil's Pele, Maradona was known as one of the greatest footballers of all time.

Maradona has continued to cause controversy since his heyday as a player, getting sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the United States for doping and later dropping in and out of the game as a coach.

Years of drug use, overeating and alcoholism truncated a stellar career and altered his appearance from the lithe athlete who could slalom effortlessly through teams to a bloated addict who nearly died of cocaine-induced heart failure in 2000.

But he reinvented himself in a stunning comeback in 2008 as coach of the Argentina team, persuading managers that with sheer charisma he could inspire the team to victory, despite a lack of coaching experience.

In Argentina, he was worshipped as 'El Dios' - The God - partly a play on words on his number 10 shirt, 'El Diez.'

He was largely responsible for Argentina's World Cup victory in 1986 in Mexico, scoring two famous goals in one game against England in the quarter-finals.

Rafael Nadal wins 13th French Open title, equals Federer’s all-time record with 20th grand slam

PARIS, Oct 11: The Covid-19 pandemic might have changed many things in the world of sports but one thing has remained constant, Rafael Nadal’s dominance on clay. On Sunday, the Spaniard blew away the challenge of long time rival Novak Djokovic in straight sets (6-0, 6-2, 7-5) to win a record-extending 13th French Open title.

The triumph is an iconic moment in the history of men’s singles tennis as Nadal equalled Roger Federer’s all-time grand slam record of 20 titles. In his long standing rivalry with the Swiss ace, this is the first time that Nadal has equalled Federer’s tally of Grand Slams.

Djokovic himself has been outstanding as he is just three short of the two legends with 17 slams to his name.

But on Sunday the Serbian had no answers to Nadal’s excellence on the Parisian clay. Nadal started with a blitz as he won the opening set without dropping a game.

It was one way traffic in the second set too as Nadal broke Djokovic two times to win 6-2.

In the third set Djokovic showed some resilience and even broke Nadal’s serve for the first time in the match taking a 4-3 lead but he lost his serve again in the 11th game as Nadal broke back and served out the set 7-5 to win the match in straight sets.

“Congrats to Novak for another great tournament. Sorry for today. We’ve played plenty of times together - one day one wins, another the other,” said Nadal.

“After all the things I have been through in my career with injuries, I could not have done it without my family.”

Nadal said he wasn’t even thinking about matching Federer’s record.

“It’s been a very tough year. Winning here means everything to me so it’s not about equalling Roger on 20, for me today it’s just a Roland Garros victory,” said Nadal who had skipped the US Open due to the global health crisis and was playing just his second tournament since February.

“Roland Garros means everything to me. I spent most of the most important moments of my tennis career here.

“Just playing here is a true inspiration. The love story I have with this court and city is unbelievable.”

“Today, Rafa showed why you are the king of clay. I was out-played by a better player,” said Djokovic.

Cricketer Dean Jones passes away at 59

NEW DELHI, Sept 24: Former Australia cricketer and renowned commentator Dean Jones passed away on Thursday following a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai. He was 59. A batsman during his playing days, Jones played 52 Tests and 164 ODIs for Australia between 1984 and 1994 before venturing into commentary.

Jones was part of the Australian team that won the 1987 World Cup, playing a starring role in the campaign. Jones was Australia’s third highest run-getter in the tournament, scoring 314 runs in 8 matches. He was currently in India as part of the team of experts working on the Indian Premier League with host broadcaster Star Sports.

“It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing away of Mr. Dean Mervyn Jones AM. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest. We express our deep condolences to his family and stand ready to support them in this difficult time. We are in touch with the Australian High Commission to make the necessary arrangements,” Star India said in a release.

“Dean Jones was one of the great ambassadors of the game associating himself with Cricket development across South Asia. He was passionate about discovering new talent and nurturing young Cricketers. He was a champion commentator whose presence and presentation of the game always brought joy to millions of fans. He will be sorely missed by everyone at Star and his millions of fans across the globe.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

Jones made his debut for Australia in a Test match in the West Indies in 1984. He scored almost 9500 international runs. He retired from international cricket with an average of 46.55 in Test cricket and 44.61 in ODIs.

Dhoni retires from international cricket

NEW DELHI, Aug 15: MS Dhoni, the former captain of the Indian cricket team, has announced his retirement from international cricket. Dhoni made the confirmation through a video on Instagram, its caption reading: “Thanks. Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired.”

Dhoni retires as Indian cricket’s most successful captain in limited-over internationals, having won three ICC trophies - 2007 T20 World Cup, 50-over World Cup in 2011 and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy - the only captain to do so. He last played international cricket during the semifinal of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in which India lost to New Zealand.

Having announced his retirement from Test cricket in December of 2014, Dhoni carried on playing ODIs and T20Is, leading India to the semifinals of the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 World T20. With 10,733 runs from 350 matches, Dhoni is fifth in the list of India’s all-time run-scorers in ODI behind Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

Dhoni’s future was a hot topic of speculation since his sabbatical from cricket since India’s World Cup exit. Ever since the defeat to New Zealand, Dhoni did not play any form of cricket in the last one year, hinting he might have played his last in India colours. Dhoni, however, would be turning up in the IPL where he will captain the Chennai Super Kings in the tournament’s 13th season in the UAE.

Dhoni burst on to the scene as a 23-year-old batsman, making his India debut in an ODI against Bangladesh in December of 2004. The following year, he slammed his maiden ODI hundred - 148 vs Pakistan at Vizag which shot him to prominence. After a disappointing 2007 World Cup in the West Indies, Dhoni was given charge of a young Indian team to play the first-ever T20 World Cup in South Africa, where India beat Pakistan in a riveting final to clinch the title.

From there, Dhoni’s career as batsman and captain took off and reached unprecedented heights. In March of 2008, he led India to the CB tri-series win in Australia, beating the hosts in back-to-back finals. In 2009, he shepherded India to the pinnacle of ICC Test Championships, establishing him as India’s best captain in a long time. He overtook Sourav Ganguly as India’s most successful Test captain with a 22nd win.

In 2010, under Dhoni, India won the Asia Cup, after 15 years, beating Sri Lanka comprehensively in the final. It was the perfect way to warm up for what was to come next. With the World Cup returning to India after 16 years, India were hot favourites to lift the most prized trophy in cricket after 28 years, and with Dhoni leading his men, India did just that. Struggling for runs in the tournament, Dhoni saved his best of last. He hit an unbeaten 91, to help India chase down 275 against Sri Lanka, and scored the winning run with a six, which remains perhaps the most iconic moment in the history of Indian cricket.

Post the World Cup, Dhoni’s captaincy prowess, in Test matches, began waning. India were blanked 0-4 in England and 0-4 again a few months later in Australia. But Dhoni revived his captaincy career by leading India to the ICC Champions Trophy win in 2013 in England, and thus completing a trifecta of ICC trophies. Dhoni took India close to three more world titles, but couldn’t quite lead the team over the line. India finished runner-up in the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh, followed by a semi-final finish in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 World T20.

In January of 2017, Dhoni announced he was stepping down as India’s limited-overs captain, but continues playing on. Dhoni was a pivotal part of India’s 2019 World Cup campaign, where in the crunch semifinal clash against New Zealand, which was a two-day affair, he almost got India home. He was out for 50. He walked off the field without showing much emotions, a trait that became synonymous with Dhoni throughout his career.


Wimbledon 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic
2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed

2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed



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