Waveriders shoot out Warriors for trophy
Replace defensive Dhoni with aggressive Virat: Chappell
Aussies blown away by Steyn storm
India seek IOC help for drafting anti-fixing law
Somdev wins Delhi Open
Astroturf good for Indian hockey: Balbir Sr
The puck stops here
Canada's Jeff Carter tries to hit a bouncing puck past Sweden's goalie Henrik Lundqvist (R) as Sweden's Alexander Steen looks on during the third period of their men's ice hockey gold medal match at the Sochi Olympic. Reuters
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Ranchi, February 23
It came as a befitting result for last year's runners-up. The Waveriders won 3-1 in the shoot-out after the regulation 70 minutes ended in a 3-3 tie.
Majority of the credit should go to the Waveriders goalie Nicolas Jacobi, who had a brilliant day under the bar and made numerous saves to guide the Delhi side to the title.
Apart from making quite a few saves in regulation time, Jacobi stood like a rock in the shoot-out to deny Warriors' first three attempts before Robert Hammond scored.
Rhinos finish third
Earlier, defending champions Ranchi Rhinos beat Uttar Pradesh Wizards 3-2 via penalty shoot-out after the two teams were locked at 1-1 in regulation time.
The hosts started the match on a positive note and got the first scoring chance in the first quarter through a penalty corner but wasted the opportunity.
The Wizards, on the other hand, capitalised on their first penalty corner through VR Raghunath who converted the chance in the 15th minute.
But the Rhinos equalised five minutes from half time through Manpreet Singh's fine solo effort. Manpreet beat three UP defenders before slotting the ball into the opposition net with a fierce strike from the top of the circle in the 30th minute. After the change of ends, both the teams tried their level best to break the deadlock but their efforts fell flat. — PTI
Most Valuable Player:
Highlights of the League this season...
New team, old struggle
The addition of a new team, Kalinga Lancers, and a complete overhaul of last year's bottom-placed Mumbai Magicians raised hopes of a change in this year's hierarchy. But both the teams have not fared well against the big teams. Mumbai, despite bringing in a new coach, could only finish second last. Kalinga, though impressed with their fighting spirit, the newcomers lacked the firepower and finished last.
Young and the greats
Last season saw the rise of Mandeep Singh as the consummate goal-scorer. What was great to see was how the young forward fed off the experience of greats such as Moritz Furste and Floris Evers. This season has also seen Indian youngsters gelling with top international players. Nikkin Thimmaiya has been a livewire in UP attack and his on-field relationship with Dutch legend Teun de Nooijer has been the difference for the youngster.
Rise of Punjab
Punjab Warriors entered both the seasons as favourites. After failing miserably last year, finishing second-last, the Punjab side was under great pressure to live up to their favourites tag. And the team has delivered. The main difference for the team was the fitter Australians this year. Apart from veterans Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles, youngsters Simon Orchard and Jake Whetton have made a huge difference this season.
Sandeep top goal-scorer
Sandeep Singh was the top-scorer last year for Mumbai Magicians. A lot has changed since then. He has been out of the Indian team since June 2013 and started this season in a different camp, Punjab Warriors. But what has not changed even in this season is that the tall defender has been on the top of the scorers list. He has scored 11 goals, three more than Gonzalo Peillat of the Lancers, while VR Raghunath of UP is third with 7 goals.
New Delhi, February 23
Writing in a column for a cricket website, Chappell argued for Kohli's elevation as soon as possible after India's shambolic recent tour of New Zealand in which the team failed to register a single win in any format.
"Dhoni is a brilliant captain in the shorter versions of the game, and a master at timing his run to the finishing line as a middle-order batsman. However, as a Test captain he's too reactive and has a tendency to let the game meander along, like an absent-minded professor strolling in the park," Chappell wrote.
"His conservatism allows the better players among opposition batsmen too much freedom and too many easy runs. Consequently, big partnerships, like the match-saving one by Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling, build too often," he said.
Chappell said Kohli has the aggression which is needed to fire up a team in trying circumstances.
"A suitable alternative is now available in Virat Kohli. He has leadership experience as captain of Indian youth teams and, more importantly, he's now the right age and has matured into a top-class batsman. Even more importantly, he has shown his mettle overseas by scoring runs in difficult arenas like the WACA and the Bullring," he said.
"Dhoni's latest injury may be fortuitous. It gives the selectors a chance to evaluate Kohli's leadership credentials in the one-day arena, and if he's successful, they should appoint him Test captain," he added. —PTI
Port Elizabeth, February 23
With rain predicted for Monday, Steyn charged in and took four wickets, including the key scalp of Australia captain Michael Clarke, as the tourists lost 10 wickets for 90 runs having looked comfortable at 126 without loss chasing a record 448 for victory.
Only opener Chris Rogers showed any real resistance with a fine 107, this third ton in four Tests, as he shared a century opening stand with David Warner (66), but for the remainder it was a procession as none of the other batsmen reached double figures.
The result left the three-match series level at 1-1 with the third Test starting in Cape Town on Saturday.
After JP Duminy had removed Warner and Morne Morkel grabbed the wicket of Alex Doolan (five), Shaun Marsh picked up a pair in the match and now has six ducks in his last 11 Test innings. He was lbw to Vernon Philander.
Then began the Steyn onslaught as Clarke (one) was brilliantly caught by Faf du Plessis at second slip and Steve Smith trapped lbw first ball.
That wicket showed evidence of reverse swing and Steyn produced more as he clattered into the middle stump of Brad Haddin (one) for the second time in the match.
Mitchell Johnson was the fourth lbw victim of the innings when he was struck on the pads by Philander.
Ryan Harris (six) was also trapped in front of his stumps but the key moment came when, with just seven minutes remaining in the day's play, Rogers was run out trying to take a quick single to substitute fielder Alviro Peterson.
Nathan Lyon (zero) was the final wicket to fall, lbw to Dean Elgar and although replays showed he had hit the ball, Australia had used up their reviews. South Africa earlier declared their second innings on 270 for five as Hashim Amla plundered an unbeaten 127, his 21st Test century to move joint third on South Africa's all-time list with Gary Kirsten, still behind Graeme Smith (27) and Jacques Kallis (45).
Brief scores: South Africa 423 & 270-5 (Amla 127 no), Australia 246 & 216 (Rogers 107, Warner 66, Steyn 4/55). — Reuters
New Delhi, February 23
"Ethics have become even more important in the current context in India. Of late, there has been a spate of incidents which amount to match/spot fixing in the game of cricket. This has led to increased demand for greater regulation to prevent similar incidents in future," Singh said in the letter, now made public under the Right to Information Act to activist Subhash Agrawal. Singh said a number of countries have already passed legislations making fixing in sports a criminal offence. He also said that he understands IOC has also studied such criminal activities and methods to combat them.
"I would be grateful if the IOC can share its knowledge of prevention of 'match/spot fixing' with the government of India in order to enable us to bring about a comprehensive bill which will reduce incidents of such events," he wrote. The minister was responding to a letter from Kepper on May 24, 2013 on the issue of lifting ban on Indian Olympic Association and road map for it. — PTI
New Delhi, February 23
Somdev domination was evident from the fact that he conceded just 10 points on his eight service games. Playing his fourth Challenger level final, Somdev needed just 59 minutes to bag his third title and first since 2010 when he had triumphed in Turkey. His first title came in 2008 in USA.
Nedovyesov was gunning for his fourth Challenger title but it was not his day. Nothing worked for him even as he made a superb start, hinting a cracker of contest was in store. Playing three three-set matches, including one during his doubles campaign, in the tournament had taken away all his energy. He admitted that he was mentally exhausted coming into the final.
Nevertheless, Somdev's dominance was a treat for close to 3000 fans, who had turned up to watch the country's No 1 player in action at RK Khanna Tennis stadium. "Aleksandr is a fantastic player. He made it incredibly tough for me initially. He was struggling a bit after that... I wish him success for the rest of the season," Somdev said after the win. — PTI
New Delhi, February 23
Balbir said he does not share the widely-held belief that India and Pakistan lost ground in world hockey after initial domination due to the introduction of astroturf surfaces and change in rules.
"I don’t believe that the change in rules and playing on astroturf has given a disadvantage to India and Pakistan. It is just an excuse (for the poor performance in recent years). Rather it should be beneficial to sub-continental hockey," said Balbir. — PTI
The puck stops here
Sochi, February 23
Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Chris Kunitz each scored as Canada capped an unbeaten run through the tournament to claim their third gold medal in four Winter Games and their first outside North America in 62 years.
It also marked the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Games that a team had marched through the competition without a loss.
Carey Price made 24 saves to record his second straight Olympic shutout.
Canada's campaign was anchored by an almost impenetrable defense that allowed only three goals over six games, including shutouts over the United States in the semifinals and Sweden in the final.
The Swedish attack that had already been hit by injuries received another blow just before the opening faceoff when center Nicklas Backstrom was a shock late scratch. No reason was given for his absence.
Canada's big guns had been silent until the final but they opened up against the Swedes with Toews, Kunitz and Crosby, who scored the overtime winner in the final victory over the United States four years ago, all collecting their first of the Sochi Games when it mattered most. Toews put Canada in front 13 minutes into opening period when he redirected a pass from Jeff Carter between Henrik Lundqvist's pads.
Crosby brought the capacity crowd at the Bolshoy Ice Dome to their feet in the second when he gained control of the puck near the blueline, fought off a Swedish defender and flipped a backhand past a sprawling Lundqvist.
Kunitz delivered the knockout blow midway through the third when he rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar for a 3-0 lead.
Since ending a 50-year gold medal drought at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, Canadian hockey has undergone a remarkable renaissance their Olympic reign only interrupted by a seventh place finish in Turin in 2006, when Sweden took gold.
The ice hockey gold was the final medal to be decided in Sochi, coming just hours before the closing ceremonies across the Olympic plaza at Fisht Stadium. It took Canada's Sochi gold tally to 10th, third in the final medal table behind Norway (11) and Russia (13). — Reuters
Rio de Janerio, February 23
Dolgopolov toppled second-seeded David Ferrer 6-4, 6-4 to book his first ATP World Tour final since October 2012.
Meanwhile, Croatian Marin Cilic continued his recent run of sizzling form by overpowering John Isner 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to advance to the Delray Beach Open final against South Africa's Kevin Anderson. Anderson eased past a nervous American qualifier Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4 in their semifinal.
Cilic sets up Anderson showdown in Florida
Croatian Marin Cilic continued his recent run of sizzling form by overpowering John Isner 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in a late-night showdown to advance to the Delray Beach Open final against South Africa's Kevin Anderson.
Seventh seed Cilic made it through to a third final in as many weeks when he emerged victorious in a battle of big servers against American Isner in a rain-delayed semi-final that did not start until close to midnight on Saturday.
Fourth seed Anderson had no such delays in the first semi and was on and off the court in a flash after easing past a nervous American qualifier Steve Johnson 6-2 6-4 in the afternoon in south Florida. When the second semi-final finally got underway, Cilic's first serve was almost unplayable but he could not convert any of his four break points against Isner in the first set, which went to a tiebreak on the hardcourt surface.
Isner won the first three points but Cilic stormed back to take the next five and ultimately the set. Cilic quickly broke Isner in the second set and continued to serve strongly, closing out the contest just before 1 am on Sunday.
“It's been probably the best three weeks I've played in my life,” Cilic, who won in Zagreb a fortnight ago before losing in the final last week in Rotterdam, told reporters.
“With John, you have to be careful always with his big serve (but) maybe John was struggling a little bit with his neck or back. He wasn't hitting his first serve as big as usual.” — Agencies
London, February 23
Liverpool maintained their Premier League title push with a crazy 4-3 win over Swansea City at Anfield. Loic Remy marked his return from suspension in style as his last-gasp winner brought an end to Newcastle's home hoodoo with a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Barcelona go down 1-3
Barcelona were a shadow of the side that outwitted Manchester City in midweek, as the Spanish giants slumped to a shock defeat at Real Socieded. An Alex Song own goal in the 32nd minute put the Basque side on their way despite Messi equalising four minutes later. Antoine Griezman restored their lead in the 54th minute and David Zurutuza ghosted in to seal victory.
UEFA Euro 2016 draw
Nice: Roy Hodgson's side were drawn in Group E along with Switzerland — the team he led to the 1994 World Cup finals — Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania and San Marino.
England have never played Lithuania before, but San Marino have been regular opponents — in 1993 they famously scored after just 8.3 seconds against England after an attempted back-pass by Stuart Pearce. The UEFA Euro 2016 will be held in France from June 10 to July 10.
Groups in full: Group A: Netherlands, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Iceland, Kazakhstan; Group B: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgium, Israel, Wales, Andorra, Cyprus; Group C: Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia, Luxembourg; Group D: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland, Georgia, Gibraltar; Group E: England, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Lithuania, San Marino; Group F: Greece, Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands; Group G: Russia, Sweden, Austria, Montenegro, Moldova, Lichtenstein; Group H: Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta; Group I: Portugal, Denmark, Serbia Armenia, Albania, (France*)*France qualify automatically as hosts so any fixtures they are involved in in Group I will be played as friendlies with no qualification points at stake. — Agencies
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