Rising Pune Supergiant have enjoyed massive turnaround under captain Steve Smith. Now as they chase their maiden Indian Premier League title in Sunday’s final against Mumbai Indians, Smith said it has been a “great little ride” for him.The 27-year-old Australian had replaced Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain of the Pune franchise ahead of the start of this season. The change in captaincy appeared to have been prompted by Pune’s ordinary outing last year when they finished seventh in the points table after winning just five of their 14 matches.Although the decision raised many eyebrows, it has certainly yielded the desired results.Pune are just one win away from clinching the title and for a franchise, which won’t be getting an extension as per current rules, this will be an enormous achievement.Reflecting on his journey throughout the tournament, Smith said he had lot of fun working with Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming.”I have had a lot of fun through this tournament. It has been a great little ride. We have played some great cricket to make it this far. Obviously, it has been a lot of fun to work with Fleming and MS Dhoni to try and get the best out of this group that we have.”We have played some consistent cricket at the back end of this tournament, which is very important heading into the business end. Great to have played the way we have. Hope we can put on one more good show,” Smith said on the eve of the final.advertisementOn paper, Pune have the upper hand against two-time champions Mumbai, considering that they defeated Mumbai thrice in this season, including a comprehensive 20-run win in the crucial Qualifier 1.Smith can take a lot of tips on absorbing the pressure in such a high-octane game from former India skipper Dhoni, who will be playing a record seventh IPL final.”It has obviously been a pretty compacted tournament this year. So the fact that we had a couple of days break to relax and regroup after a really good game against Mumbai, it has been nice. The guys had a good training session and we are all ready to go,” he said.Smith also lauded the likes the Rahul Tripathi and Washington Sundar, who played a key role in Pune’s road to the final.”Yeah, those guys are quite young and haven’t played these kind of high-pressure final games. That can play into your favour sometimes because you can just come out and play with freedom.”I thought Washington was absolutely fantastic against Mumbai the other night, for a 17-year-old to come out on the big stage against some quality players and to do what he did was outstanding.”Those guys, the young guys, have been a real big part of our success throughout this tournament. Hopefully they can have a bit of success on Sunday night too,” he said.
India’s spin king Harbhajan Singh is celebrating his 37th birth anniversary.Wishes poured in from all corners of the world with past and presnt cricketers leading the way. His longtime India teammate, legendary batsman Virender Sehwag made a revelation about Harbhajan’s singh life journey.Hpy B’day @harbhajan_singh Frm thinking of going to Canada & bcum a truck driver to support family,to bcmng 1 of d best bowlers,grt journey pic.twitter.com/o12qAeQmc4- Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) 3 July 2017Harbhajan also got a special message from wife Geeta Basra, who posted a photograph on her Instagram account captioned, “Happy burrdayyyy Pati Dev.. love you #bestlifepartner #soulmate #birthdayboy @harbhajan3.”Happy birthday @harbhajan_singh have a good one paji!!lots of love ?? to your family and beautiful daughter ?????º?????? pic.twitter.com/MVju5TA1qV- Suresh Raina (@ImRaina) 2 July 2017Happy birthday @harbhajan_singh …. To many more fun times. And yes you are number 1???????? pic.twitter.com/3yzvw4f1FM- Gaurav Kapur (@gauravkapur) 2 July 2017Happy birthday @harbhajan_singh have a great one bro- Deep Dasgupta (@DeepDasgupta7) 2 July 2017Happy birthday bhajjupa..wish u great year…love to the family…@harbhajan_singh pic.twitter.com/HrROjR8Utv- parthiv patel (@parthiv9) 2 July 2017@harbhajan_singh happy birthday brother have a good one!- Mitchell McClenaghan (@Mitch_Savage) 2 July 2017@harbhajan_singh happy birthday Bhaju ..may god bless u and ur family ..have a great day- Sourav Ganguly (@SGanguly99) 2 July 2017Many many happy returns bhajju pa have a greatest year. Best Regards to the family @harbhajan_singhadvertisement- Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) 3 July 2017Harbhajan made his debut for India in 1998 as a 19-year-old in a Test match against Australia in Bengaluru. He went onto play 103 Tests bagging 417 wickets and is among the only 12 bowlers in history to take more than 400 wickets in the format.Harbhajan also played 236 One Day Internationls pocketing 269 wickets with the white ball.Harbhajan was a regular member of the Test squad until India’s dismal tour of England in 2011. Since that period, he has played only five more matches with his last appearance in 2015 in Sri Lanka.In 2001, Harbhajan became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket when he bamboozled Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne to achieve the feat in the second match of the series at the Eden Gardens. Harbhajan picked 13 wickets in that match as India made one of the greatest comebacks to beat favourites Australia.Following on, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid put on a mammoth 376-run stand as India declared their second innings at a massive 657 for seven. Laxman had scored 281 while Dravid hit 180.Chasing 394 for a win, Australia were off to a solid opening stand before Harbhajan ripped apart Australian batting line-up with 6/73 to give India a historic win to level the three-match series 1-1.Harbhajan’s record in the Indian Premier League (IPL) is as outstanding as his international figures. He has been playing for the Mumbai Indians since the very beginning in 2008 and has picked up 127 wickets and scored 799 runs in 136 matches with one five-wicket haul.He also led an unfancied Mumbai Indians team to Champions League glory in 2011 with a squad full of young and inexperienced players.
Newly appointed Test skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has admitted that it will be a real challenge for him to follow the footsteps of his predecessor and Pakistan’s most successful captain Misbah-ul-Haq in the longest format of the game.At a reception held at the Prime Minister’s residence in honour of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy victory on Tuesday, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shaharyar Khan announced that he had offered the role to Sarfraz, who accepted it.Sarfraz has been rewarded with the country’s Test captaincy after he led the national team to an elusive Champions Trophy title in England.Pakistan trounced India by a record 180-run margin in the final at the Kennington Oval in London on June 18 to lift their maiden Champions Trophy title.Sarfraz feels that leading Pakistan in Tests will be completely different to that of ODIs and Tests.”It will be very different to ODIs and T20s,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Sarfraz as saying.”Misbah bhai did so well for so long and he really built the side up, a side that had some great success and was very stable. So it will be a real challenge to follow on from that. And Tests anyway are not easy. You need some serious patience. I will try and do as best as I can. I’ve had some success with the limited-overs captaincy and hope I can do likewise with the Tests,” he added.The wicketkeeper-batsman took over the T20I captaincy from all-rounder Shahid Afridi after the 2016 World T20 and became ODI captain when Azhar Ali resigned in February this year.advertisement”I’ve come step by step. When I became T20 captain, I was vice-captain first. When I became ODI captain, I was vice-captain. Now I’m Test captain, I was vice-captain,” said Sarfraz.”So of course this is a challenge but I’m prepared for it. My responsibilities have increased so I will have to work harder on my fitness but I’ve been working hard on the ‘keeping and batting as well,” he added.This announcement from the PCB chairman ended the long-lasting speculation over the over the identity of Misbah’s successor as Test captain.The 42-year-old, who retired at the end of Pakistan’s tour of West Indies in May, was longest serving and most successful Test captain for Pakistan, leading them to 26 wins in 56 matches.Misbah retired from the International cricket after Pakistan’s first series win against West Indies in the Caribbean island.Misbah played 75 Test matches, scoring 5,222 runs and is currently seventh on the list of Pakistan’s all-time Test run-getters.The 42-year-old also inspired Pakistan to the top of the ICC Test team rankings for the first time in history in 2015, although their stint at the top was short-lived as India replaced them soon after.He served as Test captain from late 2010 onwards going to become the most successful test captain for his country.Sarfraz’s Test captaincy debut will be against Sri Lanka in the UAE, which will comprise three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is starting October 19.
Australia skipper Meg Lanning led from the front with a brilliant unbeaten half century to guide her side to an eight-wicket win over India and seal their semi-finals spot in the ongoing Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.The Australians have now 10 points in their kitty from six outings and sit on top of the table while India are fourth on the ladder with 8 points from six matches.The Indian eves now face a must-win situation in their final group tie against New Zealand on Saturday, to qualify for the last four stage of the tournament.Along with Australia, hosts England and South Africa have booked their place in the last four.Put in to bat, India rode on a defiant century from opener Punam Raut (106 off 136 balls, 11*4) and skipper Mithali Raj’s 69 (off 114 balls, 4*4, 1*6) to post a below-par 227-run target which the Southern Stars chased down without much hiccups at the County Ground here.Punam and Mithali lifted India with a 157-run second wicket stand after a disastrous start but failed to continue the momentum in the later stages of the innings.All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur (23 off 22 balls, 1*4, 1*6) was the only other batswoman to reach the double-digits as the middle order comprising Veda Krishnamurthy (0), Sushma Verma (6) and Jhulan Goswami (2) failed to provide any substance to the total.The 34-year-old Mithali, during her knock got past former England captain Charlotte Edwards’s record of 5992 runs and also became the first woman to breach the 6000-run mark.In reply, the Australians got off to a brilliant start with the opening duo of Nicole Bolton (36 off 48 balls, 6*4) and Beth Mooney (45 off 68 balls, 5*4) setting the tone with a 62-run stand.advertisementThereafter, Lanning (76 not out off 88 balls, 7*4, 1*6) and Ellyse Perry (60 not out off 67 balls, 8*4) held the innings together with a 124-run unbeaten stand for the third wicket to dent India’s hopes.Perry also took two wickets with her gentle medium pace giving away 37 runs during the Indian innings.Brief Scores: India 226-7 (Punam Raut 106, Mithali Raj 69, Harmanpreet Kaur 23, Ellyse Perry 2/37) lose to Australia 227/2 (Meg Lanning 76 not out, Ellyse Perry 60 not out, Beth Mooney 45) by 8 wickets.
Venus Williams last graced Centre Court in a Wimbledon singles final in 2009, since when she’s got used to playing the supporting role for sister Serena in four triumphant All England Club campaigns.So the 37-year-old, carrying the hopes of the Williams clan while her younger sibling takes time out to have a baby, should be forgiven a moment of self-doubt after a clinical victory over Britain’s Johanna Konta on Thursday gave her a shot at another title.”Serena’s always in my corner and usually it’s her in these finals and I’m trying my best to represent Williams as best I can,” Venus told the BBC after her 6-4 6-2 win.”I missed (Serena) so much before this match and … I just wish she was here and I wish she could do this for me. I was like, no, this time you do it for yourself. So here we are.”The SW19 major has been kind to both sisters, who have turned its manicured lawns into something of a personal fiefdom since the turn of the century.Seven of Serena’s record 23 grand slam victories have come here. So have five of Venus’s seven – the first as long ago as 2000 and the last in 2008.On Saturday the older Williams will seek to become the oldest major winner in the women’s game since it turned professional, eclipsing her sister’s record.Standing in her way will be Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who lost her previous Wimbledon final in 2015, to Serena.”One more win would be amazing. It won’t be a given, but I’m going to give it my all,” Venus said.advertisement”We both play really well on grass. The last time she played Serena so I’ll have to ask Serena for some pointers.”In the meantime, she carries the best wishes of Serena’s fiance Alexis Ohanian.”So happy to see a Williams in the finals of #Wimbledon – congrats, sis,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sven Ulreich saved two penalties Saturday as Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund 5-4 in a shootout to win the season-opening German Supercup.The game went straight to penalties after Bayern scored late in a goalmouth scramble to earn a 2-2 draw in regular time.Christian Pulisic had fired Dortmund into an early lead but Robert Lewandowski equalized against his former club shortly afterward. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang thought he’d won it for the home side, only for Joshua Kimmich’s shot to be deflected in via Lukasz Piszczek and Roman Buerki.Kimmich missed his penalty kick, but Ulreich saved against Sebastian Rode and Marc Bartra for Bayern to win the minor trophy for the second straight year.”It was a deserved victory,” Ulreich said.It was Bayern’s fourth Supercup since the match between league and cup winners was revived in 2010, and it reduced the pressure on Bayern after some poor pre-season results.Carlo Ancelotti’s side lost 3-0 at home to Premier League team Liverpool on Tuesday and followed it with a 2-0 defeat to Serie A side Napoli on Wednesday.Pulisic pounced on some loose control from Javi Martinez and then stayed calm to slot the ball past Ulreich for Dortmund’s early lead in the 12th.Sebastian Rudy, playing his first competitive game for Bayern after his summer transfer from Hoffenheim, played a brilliant ball over the top for Kimmich, who ran forward and ensured Lewandowski couldn’t miss in the 18th.Both Kimmich and Lewandowski looked to have been offside, but referee Felix Zwayer checked with his video assistant and the goal stood. No TV replays were available to confirm the decision.advertisementThen it was all Bayern for the rest of the half.Thomas Mueller drew a great save from Buerki after some fine play from Franck Ribery, then hit the post with a header. Corentin Tolisso – on his competitive debut after his Bundesliga record transfer from Lyon – went close with another.Dortmund emerged stronger in the second half and Aubameyang scored with just under 20 minutes remaining to get the fans cheering again.However, Bayern – as it did so often last season – scored late again and Ulreich proved the hero in the penalty shootout.
Alexander Zverev battled into the early hours of Tuesday to defeat a surprisingly troublesome Darian King 7-6(9) 7-5 6-4 at the U.S. Open.The fourth-seeded German got all he could handle in the first set from the little-known 25-year-old, who made it through qualifiers to become the first player from Barbados to compete in a grand slam. (Also read: Venus Williams leads American challenge at US Open)Dressed in knee-high socks and striped headband that recalled a 1970’s-era Bjorn Borg, Zverev looked out of synch early in the match, the booming serve that helped bring him five titles this year lacking its usual punch. (Also read: Why do they call you The Goat? Kid asks Roger Federer at press conference)The German was uncharacteristically wasteful in a one hour, 21 minute first set, committing 31 unforced errors, before going on to draw first blood. (Also read: Maria Sharapova edges No. 2 Simona Halep at US Open in Grand Slam return)”Obviously Darian came out playing really good tennis and I couldn’t find my rhythm,” he said on court after he finished the nearly three hour match with an overhead smash.”It was an entertaining first set.”
England avenged their U-17 Euro loss by staging a 5-2 comeback win over Spain in the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup at the Vivekanada Yuvabharti Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday.Spain had defeated England on penalties earlier in May but the Three Lions’ fluid and pacey attack made sure that they became the World champions, the ninth different team to win in U-17 age category.Foden fittingly scored England’s fifth and last goal to lift a first FIFA U-17 World Cup in their history. Hudson-Odoi made a smart run and then placed the ball to find Foden unmarked, who sent the English fans all over the world in jubilation. Congratulations, @England! ???2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup champions ??????#FIFAU17WC?????? pic.twitter.com/G9mE0TI2tc- #FIFAU17WC ????????? (@FIFAcom) October 28, 2017The game was starting to run into mayhem as the Spanish got increasingly frustrated by England’s pace and finishing.The game got off to a lively start with both teams exchanging opening blows but it was Spain who got the lead. In a lighting counter-attack after Guehi lost possession in midfield, Spanish skipper Abel Ruiz latched onto the ball and moved it swiftly to Gelabert in the middle. He squared the ball cleanly to Sergio Gomez who slotted it past Anderson.Mohamed Moukhliss had the golden opportunity to help Spain double the lead in the 21st minute. He was through on goal with only the keeper to beat, but a bad touch let him down as Anderson came out to collect the ball.advertisementWhat Moukhliss couldn’t do, Sergio Gomez showed how to just 10 minutes later. It was Ruiz again who won the ball and passed it to Miranda who found Gomez in space. Gomez showed his predatory side again as Panzo failed to clear the ball with his header and Sergio blasted the ball in the net.England were pilling on the pressure at the fag end of the first half with Phil Foden making playing around with the Spanish defence. But it was hat-trick hero, Brewster who headed England back into the game.Steven Sessegnon, pacing through the right flank, delivered a peach of a cross as the tournament’s leading scorer jumped throughway to meet the ball with a thundering header.Congratulations @England for the superb display and thank you all for pulling off a great #FIFAU17WC . Hat’s off to the energetic crowd also https://t.co/M6doADc391- Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 28, 2017Sessegnon managed to do it once more and again Spain fell for it. Pace down the channels hurt them again as the right back crossed a delicious ball which Gibbs-White obliged, with much delight, by thumping the ball in for the equaliser.Phil Foden met a low cross from Hudson-Odoi, after George McEachran found him with a eye of a needle pass to send the Kolkata crowd into frenzy in the 67th minute.Sessegnon was all over the pitch, even helping out in defence. He saved his team by a goal-line clearance from a Victor Chust’s header.A bit later, Hudson-Odoi’s free-kick set the cat among the pigeons in the Spanish defence. Marc Guehi was alert to jump at the ball and plant it across the line for England’s fourth.As the final whistle blew to end a hugely successful tournament, India showed the world, that football finally won.
Kolkata, Nov 14 (PTI) Indias first World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev today compared current captain Virat Kohli with the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, terming them heroes on and off the field.”We look up to you (Kohli), you are our hero, much like Dalmiya (was off the field). You can change things and you have done this in terms of fitness which we all are proud of today.”Every captain comes out with something new and you have taken the fitness level to a new level. We, as cricketers, can say keep up the good work. You have the ability to believe in yourself, you can achieve the ultimate,” the legendary all-rounder said.Dev delivered lecture in the inaugural Jagmohan Dalmiya Annual Conclave along with Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala, and the programme was also attended by both India and Sri Lanka team members and former captain Mohammed Azharuddin.”We have two type of heroes — one is off the field and another on the field. If cricketers are enjoying today its possible because of Dalmiya, without him we would have struggled.”Terming Dalmiya the best cricket administrator in all sports in the last 50 years, Dev said: “Earlier we would ask can we get wages like Australia, England. Now all this has changed and they are now saying can we get wages like India. That has changed because of him.”A businessman known for his marketing acumen, Dalmiya was a key figure in bringing the 1987 and 1996 cricket World Cups to the sub-continent and took over as BCCI president for a second time after a gap of nearly a decade.advertisementHe passed away on September 20, 2015.Since joining the BCCI in 1979, Dalmiya played a major role in helping it to emerge as the wealthiest cricket board in the world, and Dev said the former president was quick to understand that a cricketer has a short career span of eight to 10 years.”Its important to have money on your side and Dalmiya understood that. Not everyone is Sachin Tendulkar, you only get to play 15-20 years at max and you are at your prime for eight-10 years. He ensured that you make your life in that career, that credit goes to my hero.”He wasnt the best of speakers but he was instrumental in bringing everybody together, a true leader who got things done. He was the hero of every cricketer in our country. What we are today is because of this man,” he concluded.Sumathipala remembered Dalmiyas support during the hard times when their ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was accused of chucking in 1995.”He was born with leadership qualities and negotiation skills by understanding and hearing all parties and settle the dispute at the best interest of everyone.”After we won the World Cup I was representing Sri Lanka at the ICC annual meeting in London where we had another issue to settle — the suspect action of Muralitharan. He helped us in addressing umpires and referees.” PTI TAP AH AH
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola ruled out chances of his side winning the “quadruple” this season despite City’s rampant displays.A second-stringed City side beat Leicester City 4-3 following a 1-1 draw after extra-time to march into the League Cup semis. During the post-match presser, when the Spaniard was asked if his team could win four trophies this season, he said there’s no chance.”Forget about it. That is not going to happen,” he told Sky Sports.City currently lead the Premier League by 11 points and are now in the last four of a competition they are looking to win for the third time in five seasons.And if they continue playing the attacking brand of football that has looked the most scintillating in Europe then triumphs in the Champions League and FA Cup do not seem outlandish possibilities either.City’s hierarchy certainly believe it is possible with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak having in the close season broached the possibility of winning the quadruple.He did not employ a manager who once won six trophies in a season at Barcelona without sky-high, sky blue expectations.GRAND EXPERIMENTPep’s latest grand experiment is going so sweetly that City have not lost a domestic game since last season’s FA Cup semi-final with Arsenal and their only loss anywhere this term was at Shakhtar Donetsk in a dead Champions League rubber for them.On Tuesday’s evidence, what must delight Guardiola as much as the breathtaking stuff being played by his A listers is that he appears to be blooding a new generation imbued with toughness as well as real quality who can slot in seamlessly if needed.advertisementPhil Foden, 17, one of the bright young hopes in the English game, 18-year-old Spaniard Brahim Diaz, and local defender Tosin Adarabioyo, 20, all played an admirable part in City’s win.Guardiola’s side prevailed after Bernardo Silva had put City ahead before Jamie Vardy equalised with what looked a harshly-awarded penalty in the seventh minute of added time.After extra time, City keeper Claudio Bravo saved the key Riyad Mahrez penalty to earn the shootout victory.”A lot of young players played. I am so happy for all the players. They showed me very good things,” said Guardiola.When later he was further pressed by reporters about winning four trophies, the Spaniard added: “That’s unreal….In football you drop points, you lose. I am not thinking about titles.”(Courtesy: Reuters)
Virat Kohli has been rested for three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka in December. Kohli had said before the start of the Kolkata Test that he was human and would ask for a break if he needed to.”It’s humanly impossible to maintain the same kind of intensity for a player who plays all three formats. Definitely, I do need a rest. When I think that my body needs to be rested, I’ll ask for it. I am not a robot you can cut my skin and check, I bleed,” Kohli had said.Kohli has so far featured in 9 Tests, 26 ODIs and 10 T20 Internationals this year, becoming the busiest Indian player since January. In the course of a hectic year, Kohli has amassed over 2000 international runs including 10 hundreds.In Kohl’s absence, Rohit Sharma will lead the side in the three-match series.Rohit Sharma will be India’s 24th ODI captain and the 7th Mumbai player to do so!#INDvSL- Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) November 27, 2017WATCH FULL VIDEOAll-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was rested for the Test series, makes a comeback. Ajinkya Rahane has also retained his place in the side after a spectacular run of form against Australia.Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took a break from the ongoing Test series to get married, has been named in the side for the ODIs.The only new addition to the team was pacer Sidhart Kaul.Besides, there were no major surprises in the ODI squad.#TeamIndia for the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka announced #INDvSLadvertisementRohit (capt), Shikhar, Ajinkya, Shreyas, Manish, Kedar, Dinesh, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik, Axar, Kuldeep, Chahal, Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Sidharth Kaul pic.twitter.com/w4GWP9weCa- BCCI (@BCCI) November 27, 2017 INDIA ODI SQUAD VS SRI LANKA: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sidharth KaulSHIKHAR DHAWAN BACK FOR DELHI TESTThere were no other changes for the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Delhi. However, Shikhar Dhawan, who had asked for a break from the Nagpur Test, was recalled into the side.#TeamIndia for the 3rd and final Test against Sri Lanka announced #INDvSLVirat (Capt), Vijay, Rahul, Shikhar, Pujara, Rahane (vc) , Rohit, Saha (wk), Ashwin, Jadeja, Kuldeep, Shami, Umesh, Ishant, Vijay Shankar pic.twitter.com/8hgxfTtMXU- BCCI (@BCCI) November 27, 2017 INDIA SQUAD FOR DELHI TEST: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain) , Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Vijay Shankar
CHICAGO — Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka had his unbeaten regular-season winning streak ended at 42 starts, allowing a career-high four runs in six innings, as the Chicago Cubs beat New York Yankees 6-1 on May 20.The Cubs honored the retiring Derek Jeter before the game, then handed Tanaka his first loss in nine major league starts.It was a surprising turn, considering Chicago came in with the majors’ worst record and the right-hander from Japan had been sensational.Tanaka (6-1) had been 34-0 in Japan and North America the last two seasons. He did drop Game 6 of the Japan Series last year before earning the save in Game 7. But postseason aside, he hadn’t lost since the Seibu Lions beat the Rakuten Golden Eagles on Aug. 19, 2012. And yes, he was definitely proud of that streak.“I think I was able to get the streak going because I had support from my teammates,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I’m a little bit disappointed because I think a lot of the fans were looking for me to keep on winning. Next time out, I’ll try to get a win again and get it going again.”Luis Valbuena had three hits with two doubles and scored two runs for Chicago. John Baker had two hits, scored a run and drove in one.Mike Olt drove in three. Jason Hammel (5-2) pitched solid ball into the sixth and Hector Rondon retired Jeter on a grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth, preserving the win on a hot and rainy night with thunder and lightning.Tanaka had his worst outing, allowing eight hits to match a career high. He struck out seven and walked one but didn’t really have his usual command.Manager Joe Girardi noticed some splitters up in the zone. Tanaka said there were issues with all his pitches, and Chicago’s Starlin Castro thought there was a dip in velocity from last month’s meeting in New York, when he threw eight scoreless innings.Some Cubs players thought familiarity this time around helped, although Girardi dismissed that idea.“If he has his good splitter tonight I think he gives a much better performance,” he said. “Since it’s the first time that he saw a team twice and they scored four runs, people are probably going to make a big deal out of it, but I think he’s given up four runs before in a start. So I wouldn’t make too much of it.”Coming off his first major-league shutout against the Mets last week, Tanaka gave up RBI singles to Emilio Bonifacio in the third and to Olt in the fourth to make it 2-0. The Cubs added to their lead with two in the sixth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Olt and Baker after Mark Teixeira singled in a run in the top half for New York.That was enough for Hammel, who allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings while striking out six and walking one.(ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap played like one of the league’s best players. Now, he’ll wait to see if he’s picked for his second straight All-Star game.Millsap had 28 points and 15 rebounds, five other Atlanta players scored in double figures, and the Hawks stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games in a row with a 113-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 28.“Paul was aggressive,” said teammate Al Horford, who also had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. “When he plays like that, we’re tough to beat.”Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of 33 and leads the Eastern Conference by a commanding seven games. This was a bit tougher than expected against the struggling Nets, who kept it close most of the way.The Hawks pulled away in the final quarter, leading by as many as 15. Millsap finished off Brooklyn’s last run with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:34 remaining, pushing Atlanta to a 109-98 edge.Millsap, who was more of a role player in Utah, had taken a lead since signing with the Hawks. He earned his first All-Star appearance a year ago and is expected to be among at least three Atlanta players getting in when the East reserves are announced Jan. 29. Horford and Jeff Teague are favored to get in, and Kyle Korver could make it as well.“We’ve definitely got a lot of guys who are deserving,” Millsap said. “It’s going to be tough if one of those guys doesn’t make it.”Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. It wasn’t enough to prevent Brooklyn’s 11th loss in 13 games.“That’s why they’ve won 17 in a row: they’ve produced every night consistently and their defense had been consistent every night,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “We had some stuff that gave them trouble, but they kept scoring and we couldn’t stop them.”Korver had 17 points for the Hawks, connecting on five 3-pointers and having another taken away with a video review showed he shot after a foul was committed on a teammate. Teague and Dennis Schroder had 13 apiece, while DeMarre Carroll added 12. Atlanta outrebounded the Nets 45-35.Brook Lopez scored 18 for Brooklyn off the bench, and Jarrett Jack chipped in with 14 points and 13 assists.The Hawks got off to a sloppy start, committing six turnovers in the first 7 minutes. But they seized control before the break, closing the second quarter on a 21-9 run that sent them to the locker room with their biggest lead of the half, 64-53.Atlanta has built a double-digit lead in every game during its winning streak, and improved to 33-1 this season when up by at least 10 points.Amazingly, the Hawks have already matched their win total for all of last season, when they slipped into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 38-44 record.And it’s not even the All-Star break.“We’re trying to grow and improve,” said coach Mike Budenholzer, who will lead the East in New York. “We want to keep our mindset there, just play each night, go out there and compete. That’s been good for us so far.”Hawks to 17th straight win, 113-102 over Nets(PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
TweetPinShare0 Shares TAMPA — New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild says offseason reports on Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka’s right elbow have been positive.“So far he’s felt good,” Rothschild said Monday at the Yankees minor league complex. “He’s had a good winter.”Tanaka is throwing and doing his normal conditioning program in Japan. Signed to a $155 million, seven-year contract in January 2014, Tanaka went 13-5 with a .277 ERA over 20 starts. He missed 2 1/2 months while rehabilitating a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow and returned for two late September starts. Boston chased him with an eight-run second inning in his finale on Sept. 27.“The last start he didn’t pitch well, but he didn’t feel bad,” Rothschild said. “We’ve got to manage a few guys in spring training and try and get them through healthy, and he’s one of them.”Rothschild also has received encouraging reports on CC Sabathia, who was sidelined with a degenerative cartilage problem in his right knee and had season-ending surgery in July.The six-time All-Star and 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner was 3-4 in eight starts with a career-worst 5.28 ERA.“He needs to pitch this spring,” Rothschild said.” He hasn’t pitched much the last two years, so you’ve got to watch his arm too and get that ready, and be smart about that. The knee, you’ve got to be aware of. There’s a lot that we’ve just got to pay attention to.”NOTES: The Yankees agreed to a minor league contract with 31-year-old right-hander Kyle Davies, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2011, when he was 1-9 for Kansas City. Davies was 11-9 with a 3.91 ERA last year in 26 starts for Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. He has a 43-69 big league record with a 5.59 ERA.MARK DIDTLER, Associated Press
PRAGUE – World pole vault champion Costas Filippidis set a season best 5.75 meters at the European Indoor Championships here, but finished fifth.His best was woefully short as the competition rose over him in an event won by the favorite, Renaud Lavillenie of France with 6.04 meters, followed closely by three other jumpers.Filippidis failed in his first attempt at 5.45 meters to go but then successfully made other heights up to 5.75 meters. He couldn’t make 5.8 meters.High-jumper Antonis Mastoras did better, jumping 2.28 meters on his first attempt to get into the final, along with Cypriot Kyriakos Ioannou, the 2009 silver medalist.Georgia Kokloni and Makis Stergioulis were disqualified from their heat at the 60 meters dash.TweetPinShare0 Shares
ATHENS — Sergio Markarian has quit as coach of Greece’s national soccer team after a second loss to the Faroe Islands in qualifying for next year’s European Championship.The 70-year-old Uruguayan apologized for the poor results and announced his resignation in a statement July 21.Markarian took over in February from Claudio Ranieri, but failed to lift Greece from the bottom of Group F, securing only a 0-0 draw in Hungary and losing 2-1 at the Faroe Islands last month.Ranieri was suspended in November after the tiny island nation beat the Greeks 1-0 in Athens last November.Romania currently leads the group with 14 points from six matches, one ahead of Northern Ireland, while Greece is last with only two points.TweetPinShare0 Shares
ZURICH — In the waning days of his Presidency, Sepp Blatter attempted to save his job Dec. 17 at the FIFA ethics committee he helped create and whose authority he does not recognize in his case.The suspended FIFA President had been expected to tell four judges he is innocent of wrongdoing during the hearing at the headquarters of soccer’s governing body, the first time Blatter has entered the building since he was banned for 90 days in October.“Blatter looks forward to a decision in his favor, because the evidence requires it,” Blatter’s lawyer, Richard Cullen, said in a statement after the hearing.“The evidence demonstrates that President Blatter behaved properly and certainly did not violate FIFA’s Code of Ethics. This investigation should be closed and the suspension lifted.”With a large bandage on his face, Blatter arrived at FIFA headquarters. A spokesman for Blatter, Thomas Renggli, said the Swiss official has had a minor procedure to treat a skin problem on his right cheek.At 5 p.m., Blatter and lead lawyer Lorenz Erni drove away from the building without making any comment.In 2012, Blatter was key to empowering a tougher and more independent FIFA ethics committee that he now insists cannot remove an elected President.“Now it has come back to haunt him,” Mark Pieth, a former anti-corruption adviser to FIFA, told The Associated Press this week.Blatter risks a life ban if the verdict — due early next week — is guilty for approving a payment of about $2 million from FIFA to Michel Platini in 2011. Platini has also been banned for 90 days.Otherwise, Blatter could be banned for several years for a conflict of interest between the two longtime FIFA executive committee colleagues. He is also likely to be quizzed about falsifying FIFA accounts.In a Swiss television interview last month, Blatter said it is “humiliating” for a FIFA President to be barred from office by his own ethics committee. He also said the ethics committee he ushered in after a previous corruption crisis had no right to take him down.Only the FIFA congress can remove a President, Blatter said at the time.In July 2012, FIFA moved from an in-house committee monitoring unethical conduct to a two-chamber group of prosecutors and judges with freedom and funding to pursue cases.Pieth led a group of anti-corruption experts and soccer officials who steered Blatter and FIFA toward modernizing reforms from 2012-14. Not all were accepted, but the two-chamber ethics court was crucial.“It must be said that he (Blatter) was the one who pushed it through congress,” Pieth, a Swiss professor of law, said in a telephone interview. “That was the moment we all believed he is serious, at least about the letter of the changes.”Blatter complained about the ethics committee’s power to Russian news agency TASS after his 90-day ban was imposed.“They can be independent but they don’t need to be against me,” he was quoted as saying in October.Blatter was charged by the ethics committee after Switzerland’s Attorney General opened criminal proceedings against him for the payment to Platini, who is boycotting his own ethics hearing on Dec. 18.The case centers on Platini getting about $2 million of FIFA money as uncontracted salary for working as Blatter’s presidential adviser in 1999-2002.Platini asked for a salary of one million Swiss francs. Blatter has said the former France international had a contract for 300,000 Swiss francs, plus a “gentleman’s agreement” to get the rest later.Swiss law obliged FIFA only to pay the deferred money within five years but Platini, by then UEFA President, reportedly asked for the balance in 2010 and was paid in February 2011.The timing has raised suspicion, coming months before a presidential election when UEFA urged its members to support Blatter against Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar. Blatter won unopposed after Bin Hammam was implicated in bribing Caribbean voters.Blatter also faced questions about false accounting because FIFA’s debt to Platini was not recorded in financial reports from 2002-2011.“The first part of the payment is in the accounts, the second no, but I am not a FIFA accountant,” Blatter said in an interview with Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport this week. “And what was or wasn’t in the accounts, was a debt to pay.”If he is found guilty, Blatter can appeal to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.(GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
TweetPinShare0 Shares Source:AGONAsport.com! (Facebook – Instagram) In their first ever European match, PAS Giannina came away with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Odd BK in the Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round. The win makes PAS Giannina the clear favorites to advance to the next round before next week’s second leg in Norway. The scorers for PAS where Michail, Lopez, and Acosta.PAS Giannina got off to a tremendous start when their captain, Alexios Michael, opened the score for the hosts, off a corner, in the 7th minute. It was a historic goal for PAS Giannina as it was the team’s first European goal in their history. Despite Odd dominating possession, PAS Giannina doubled their lead at the half hour mark. A cross from Karanikas was met by Lopez, beating Rossbach for the 2-0 lead. PAS took their two goal advantage into the break.With the lead, PAS grew in confidence and continued to control their comfortable advantage. Like in the first half, Odd failed to threaten the Greek side and in the 68th minute Acosta gave PAS Giannina a 3-0 lead. Great pressure from Ferferlis forced an error in the midfield, leading to PAS Giannina’s third goal of the night. Odd BK pressed for an important away goal, but with great defense from the hosts, PAS Giannina kept the clean sheet. The final whistle marked a historic victory for PAS Giannina in their first ever European match.PAS Giannina will take their 3-0 advantage to Norway for the second leg in one week’s time. The Greek club are the clear favorites to advance to the Europa League 3rd qualifying round after winning by three goals and not conceding an away goal. PAS Giannina will advance in the 2nd leg with a win, draw, loss by 2 goals or less, and a loss by 3 goals if they score in Norway. A loss by 4 goals or more will eliminate the Greek Club while a 3-0 loss will send the 2nd leg into extra time.
PARIS — Naomi Osaka is grinding her way through the French Open the hard way.To cling onto her quest for a third consecutive Grand Slam title, the top-ranked Osaka has twice had to rally from first-set woes.The latest opponent was former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, beaten 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the second round Thursday in a match with superb shot-making.The U.S Open and Australian Open champion from Japan, who surprisingly lost a set 6-0 in the first round, again started poorly.Azarenka, now ranked No. 43 and without a major title since winning the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, raced to a 4-0 lead on Court Suzanne Lenglen and kept Osaka under constant pressure.Osaka considered herself unfortunate to be drawn against Azarenka and the powerful, accurate tennis produced by the 29-year-old Belarusian playing in her 12th French Open showed why.Broken by a backhand volley at the net from Azarenka in the fifth game of the second set, Osaka seemed to be in deep trouble. But, as she did in beating first-round opponent Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Osaka again proved her resilience.The eighth game of the second set was pivotal. After saving two break points, Azarenka doubled-faulted. Osaka leveled at 4-4 and the momentum started to shift. It was the seventh break point Azarenka had faced in the set, and the first she had failed to save.But Azarenka still saved three set points before Osaka finally leveled the match with a backhand cross-court winner.The third set was packed with drama, too, with Osaka finally taming Azarenka with her third match point, when her combative opponent hit long.Osaka will next play Katerina Siniakova, ranked No. 42, in the third round.By: John Leicester, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
PARIS — Former UEFA president Michel Platini denied wrongdoing during police questioning Tuesday following his arrest as part of a corruption probe into the vote that gave the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.Confirming a report by online news publication Mediapart, a judicial official told The Associated Press that Platini was placed in custody when he was summoned at the Anti-Corruption Office of the Judicial Police outside Paris. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation.Platini, a former France soccer great, can either be released or formally charged after questioning ends.Platini’s communications team said he was also quizzed on the awarding of the 2016 European Championship to France, adding that he was “absolutely confident in the future” and has “strictly nothing to reproach himself with.”“Michel Platini expresses himself serenely and precisely, answering all the questions, including those on the conditions for the awarding of the 2016 Euro, and has provided useful explanations,” the statement said.Also detained Tuesday was Sophie Dion, a former sports adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy when he was French president, the judicial official said. Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee under Sarkozy, was heard as a witness and not detained.Platini’s lawyer, William Bourdon, said the former Juventus playmaker was also questioned as a witness and placed in custody only for “technical reasons.”French financial prosecutors have been investigating the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and previously questioned former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. France’s financial prosecutor services opened the investigation on grounds of private corruption, criminal association, influence peddling and benefiting from influence peddling relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.FIFA said it is aware of Platini’s situation but declined to comment further on his case.Platini’s lawyer and adviser did not immediately answer messages from The Associated Press seeking comments.Much intrigue has centered on Platini’s decision to vote for Qatar.Blatter, who was FIFA president at the time of the vote in 2010, blamed Platini for backing out of a secret “gentleman’s agreement” to award the 2022 tournament to the United States.Platini told the AP in 2015 that he “might have told” American officials that he would vote for the United States bid. However, he changed his mind after a November 2010 meeting, hosted by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy at his official residence in Paris and Qatar’s crown prince, now Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later.“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” he told the AP in 2015.But Blatter claimed in a 2015 interview with the Financial Times that Platini told him ahead of the World Cup vote: “I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.”Both Platini and Blatter were toppled from their positions of power at the top of soccer in 2015. Platini was banned by FIFA for financial misconduct in relation to a $2 million payment authorized by Blatter — a suspension due to expire in October.Qatar’s methods to bring the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time have been subject to investigations by FIFA. American attorney Michael Garcia found that some of Qatar’s conduct “may not have met the standards” required by FIFA but concluded there was no “evidence of any improper activity by the bid team.”By: John Leicester and Samuel Petrequin, Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shares