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Rohit Sharma, who will be leading the Indian side for Asia Cup 2018, said that it is always a matter of excitement to play against Pakistan as they are a great side and have been playing good cricket, lately.

The World Cup is still eight months away but India skipper Rohit Sharma feels that the six-nation Asia Cup starting Saturday will give his side a chance to work towards a “perfect combination” going into next year’s mega event.

India are still searching for a perfect middle order combination in the one-dayers even as they have a settled top three batsmen in stand-in skipper himself, Shikhar Dhawan and regular captain Virat Kohli.

Asked if the Asia Cup will be a build up to next year’s World Cup in England, Rohit said: “In a way, you can say that. Every team wants to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind. But we shouldn’t be looking too far ahead. Obviously the Asia Cup gives every team an opportunity to get the combination right before the World Cup.”

However, during the captains’ press meet, the talented Mumbaikar said that while the World Cup will be at the back of his mind, it is better to take one game at a time.

READ: Asia Cup: Virat Kohli’s tour de force against Pakistan and other top batting performances

“I won’t understand how Angie (Angelo Mathews), Sarfraz (Ahmed) or Mashrafe (Mortaza) are looking at it and what their strengths and weaknesses are. But as the tournament progresses, we will understand what teams are doing.

“The World Cup is too far ahead. We will play a lot of games before that. A lot of players will get an opportunity to stake claim for a berth in that World Cup squad. It’s a great opportunity to try for that perfect combination,” said Rohit.

India begin their Asia Cup campaign against Hong Kong on September 18 before taking on arch-rivals Pakistan the next day. Source : ht

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Dinesh Karthik, whose sensational late-order blitz helped India pull off a tense chase in the Nidahas Trophy final against Bangladesh, said that he has learnt a lot from MS Dhoni and he should not be compared with the former India captain.

Dinesh Karthik has become the toast of the nation with his 8-ball-29 against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy tri-series final but he still feels like a “student in an University where MS Dhoni is a topper”, when comes to the tag of a best finisher.

“When it comes to Dhoni -- I am studying in a university where he is the topper. He is one of the guys I have always looked up to. It is unfair to compare me with him,” Karthik told journalists during an interaction, on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Karthik made his international debut in September 2004 during Champions Trophy in England, three months before Dhoni’s debut against Bangladesh in a bilateral series in December.

In the next 14 years, Dhoni became India’s most successful captain and one of its greatest limited overs exponent while Karthik struggled in the fringes, waiting for his chances.

 “His (Dhoni) journey has been totally different and my journey is a different one. He is a terrific guy. He is somebody who used to be reserved, shy. Today, he is a person, who is really vocal in helping the youngsters. I feel these comparisons are very unfair. As I said, he is probably a topper in a university, where I am studying. I am just happy in the space I am in,” Karthik said.

Having been around for a decade and a half, Karthik is finally enjoying his time under spotlight, something he has so richly deserved. He attributes it to his good karma and divine intervention.

“It feels good that all the attention is on me. All the good karma and good things I have done over the years helped me hit that six. It is just that the shot went for a six... probably the two mm extra that it went for it became a six.”

The feeling is yet to sink in and Karthik admitted it.

“It is hard for me to put in words. I am just happy to play this sport. When you play domestic cricket, it is a hard grind, To suddenly get so much attention feels so good but you also know that you want this to be a start of something special,” he added.

Karthik also said the time spent with Mumbai cricketer Abhishek Nayar over the years had helped him strengthen the mental aspect of his game.

“He (Abhishek Nayar) has been the most important factor in the last two and half years in my career. He has helped me prepare for games. He has made me think in terms of strategy. He also knows what is the right way to work hard. He has been the river and I have been the boat,” he added.

Karthik also defended rookie Vijay Shankar who didn’t have the experience of tackling Mustafizur Rahaman’s slower deliveries.

“Vijay Shankar has the skill. He has done really well as a bowler. For someone, who is a batting all-rounder, he did well under pressure. I see a really good future for him. He has got a good attitude. He is a special talent and he has it in him to play for a long, long time,” the 32-year-old stumper said.

He may have been a bit upset with Rohit Sharma’s decision to promote Shankar ahead of him but lavished praise on Mumbaikar’s style of captaincy.

“His (Rohit Sharma’s) biggest strength is that he has won three IPLs as skipper and has immense belief in his ability to lead a team. He does a lot of homework. He is strategically very strong. He is a very thorough captain and is someone who is highly-skilled,” Karthik said.

He has been named captain of Kolkata Knight Riders for the upcoming IPL and he would like to grow in stature after the platform that Nidahas Trophy has provided him.

“(The forthcoming) IPL is extemely imporant. It is a fabulous tournament. Indian cricket is where it is because of the IPL. We get to rub shoulders with the best. On a personal note, it is very important tournament for me,” Karthik said.

The feisty Karthik is excited about his new role and wants to live up to the legacy left behind by Gautam Gambhir.

“I am very excited about the captaincy role. May be, it is time for me to embrace captaincy. The team has a very good bowling attack. I have to sit down with the coaches and see where I need to bat,” he added.

About the return of CSK and Rajasthan Royals, he said it will be a totally different dynamics to the tournament.

“CSK and Rajasthan Royals bring a totally different dynamics to the game. I am sure it is going to be a fabulous tournament,” Karthik said. Source : ht

 

 

 

 

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Cheteshwar Pujara scored only his second Test outside the sub-continent, ending his wait since a 153 at Johannesburg on the 2013-14 tour, marking a turnaround in a career that has seen more dips than highs since then.

Cheteshwar Pujara ended an almost five-year wait for a century outside the sub-continent, and the Indian dressing room will be grateful of his timing to come good with the team in dire need of redeeming act in the fourth Test at the Ageas Bowl on Friday.

The India No 3 scored only his second Test outside the sub-continent, ending his wait since a 153 at Johannesburg on the 2013-14 tour, marking a turnaround in a career that has seen more dips than highs since then.

Pujara’s sheer tenacity made the difference between India taking a handy 27-run first innings lead, having dismissed England for 246 on Day 1, and completely throwing away the advantage set up by their bowlers.

The almost six-hour effort would have gone on — he was 132 not out when India were 273 all out — but for India’s lower order batsmen throwing away their wickets, none more shocking than R Ashwin playing on to his stumps attempting a reverse-sweep against off-spinner Moeen Ali when he had to back his partner. England were six for no loss in their second innings.

Moeen comeback

Moeen made a sensational Test comeback, triggering a lower order collapse with four wickets in 17 deliveries, finishing with 5/63. It was his eight-wicket haul, including six in the second innings, which led to an India defeat here four years ago.

It dashed Indian hopes of a decent first-innings lead on a track where batting last will be a big disadvantage. Moeen had his five-for when he had Ishant Sharma caught off bat and pad, but the No 10, as he always does, had given Pujara vital support with a 27-ball 14, helping him close in on his 15th century.

Pujara fights

Pujara farmed the strike with last man Jasprit Bumrah in, and his heart was in his mouth when England reviewed a leg before decision off Moeen. He lofted Moeen for a couple to reach his century — a reward for a player who values grinding it out in tough conditions.

It was a brave effort by Pujara, who scored 72 in Trent Bridge. On 57, a Stokes bouncer hit him on the helmet, causing a dent. He then ducked into an Anderson delivery to take a glancing blow.

A packed crowd had come to see England fight back and they got their money’s worth. But those hoping for another Virat Kohli special were only half satisfied. Kohli, coming in after scoring two centuries and fifties each, became the second fastest Indian to complete 6,000 Test runs. Needing six at the start of his 119thinnings, he got there only behind Sunil Gavaskar (117 innings) but got there faster than Sachin Tendulkar (120 innings).

He started brightly but struggled for focus against seam and Moeen, after he came on before lunch. Kohli and Pujara added 92 runs for the third wicket when the India captain, a picture of discipline playing deliveries outside off-stump, pushed at a Sam Curran delivery to be caught at slip for 46.

The collapse

Pujara edged a four to get to fifty, but batted with assurance and steadily after needing 12 deliveries to get off the mark. But it was mayhem at the other end. Ben Stokes, bowling with a dodgy knee, started it by having Ajinkya Rahane (11) leg before.

Rishabh Pant, at No 6, uncharacteristically blocked everything before falling leg-before to Moeen for a 29-ball duck. Hardik Pandya flicked Moeen to Joe Root at short midwicket before Ashwin’s shocker came. Moeen bowled Mohammed Shami first ball to be on a hat-trick which Ishant denied. Source : ht

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Virat Kohli becomes second fastest Indian to 6000 Test runs

Written by Friday, 15 September 2017 06:09

The Indian captain reached the milestone on the second day of the fourth Test against England at Southampton. Kohli reached the milestone in his 119th innings, which makes him the ninth fastest in Test history.

Virat Kohli’s status as India’s premier batsman across all formats is undisputed and he added another feather in his cap on Friday, when he went past the 6000-run mark in Test cricket on day 2 of the fourth Test against England at Southampton.

Kohli reached the milestone in his 119th innings, which makes him the ninth fastest in Test history. He is also the second fastest Indian to the mark after Sunil Gavaskar. The former India captain had taken 117 innings to complete 6000 runs in Tests.

The record for the fastest to the mark belongs to cricket’s original run machine, Sir Donald Bradman. The Australian legend had completed the mark in an astounding 68 innings.

Banned Australian batsman Steven Smith and former West Indies great Gary Sobers occupy the second spot, having reached the mark in 111 Test innings.

Kohli has beaten greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Vivian Richards to the milestone. Both Tendulkar and Richards took 120 innings to complete 6000 Test runs.

The Indian captain is also nearing 10,000 runs in one-day internationals and has also crossed the 2000-runs mark in T20 internationals. Source : ht

 

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Paris Awarded 2024 Olympics, Los Angeles Gets 2028 Games

Written by Thursday, 14 September 2017 06:21

The International Olympic Committee named Paris and Los Angeles as hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics on Wednesday, crowning two cities at the same time in a historic first for the embattled sports body. Loud applause rang out at the Lima Convention Centre shortly after the IOC membership voted to approve a deal hashed out in July which arranged for Paris to be given 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. Paris and Los Angeles bid leaders joined International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on stage as the award was confirmed, embracing after an outcome hailed as a "win-win-win" by the IOC. Both Paris and Los Angeles made final presentations to IOC delegates before the formality of the rubber-stamp vote was taken.

"You can't imagine what this means to us, incredible, so strong," Paris 2024 co-chairman Tony Estanguet told delegates shortly before the vote.

It marked the final act of a campaign that had been stripped of the usual intrigue ever since Paris and Los Angeles agreed to carve up 2024 and 2028 in July following encouragement from the IOC.

Paris 2024 officials hugged and cheered following the vote, basking in victory after three previous failed bids to land the 1992, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

The 2024 Games will mark the third time Paris has staged the Olympics, coming exactly 100 years after they last hosted the Games.

Los Angeles 2028 officials also celebrated the return of the Olympics to US soil.

The 2028 Olympics will be the first held in the United States since the chaotic 1996 Games in Atlanta.

It will also mark the third time that Los Angeles has hosted the Olympics following successful editions in 1932 and 1984.

"Los Angeles reflects the face of America's future and the heart of American values of inclusiveness, generosity and unity," Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said during his final pitch to IOC members.

- 'Too many losers' -

Paris and Los Angeles emerged from the initial bidding race for the 2024 Games after a number of cities withdrew citing waning public support and concerns over budget.

Hamburg, Rome, Budapest and Boston all fell by the wayside during the competition, reflecting the political difficulties in persuading voters that staging the Olympics is worth the multi-billion-dollar price tag.

IOC chief Bach first signalled publicly that the double-award of an Olympics could be on the agenda in December last year, lamenting that the bidding process produced "too many losers".

As the tussle for 2024 unfolded, and as the field thinned to leave just Los Angeles and Paris, the IOC's determination to secure two high-quality bids for the next two summer games became apparent.

In July, the IOC announced it would award the staging rights for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same meeting in Lima, laying the way for a swift agreement between the two over the running order.

The drama-free conclusion to the race also eliminates the risk of the vote being tainted by the sort of scandal that has embroiled the ballot for the 2016 Olympics.

The IOC was left tackling a fresh wave of graft allegations last week when investigators in Brazil swooped on the country's Olympics chief Carlos Nuzman.

Nuzman stands accused of plotting to bribe IOC members into awarding Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Games at a 2009 vote in Copenhagen.

The allegations swirling around Rio's bid revived memories of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which led to 20 IOC members being either kicked out of the Olympics' ruling body or pleading guilty to accepting bribes for votes.

French investigators meanwhile have already announced they are investigating the 2013 vote in Buenos Aires which awarded the 2020 Olympics to Tokyo, following reports of secret payments into a Singapore-based bank account linked to the son of disgraced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack.

 

 

 

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Sachin Tendulkar Reveals The Lowest Phase In His India Career

Written by Wednesday, 13 September 2017 06:53

Legendary Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday said the phase around the 2007 World Cup was the lowest ebb for Indian cricket.

Tendulkar said the Indian cricket team witnessed a lot of changes after the first round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies and the move eventually reaped huge dividends.

"I think 2006-07 we were possibly our lowest (phase). We didn't qualify for the Super 8 stage of the 2007 World Cup. But we got back from there and started fresh thinking, we started moving in a new direction," the right-handed batsman said.

"We had to make a lot of changes. And once we had planned what we had to achieve as a team, we were committed to it and the results followed," he added.

In the 2007 Cricket World Cup, the Rahul Dravid-led India lost to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in group stages to crash out in the opening round.

"We had to change a lot of things. Whether they were right or wrong we didn't know. The change did not happen overnight. We had to wait for results. In fact it took me 21 years of my career to lift that beautiful World Cup trophy," said Tendulkar.

Tendulkar was part of the Indian squad which lifted the 2011 World Cup under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

 

 

 

 

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Perhaps we should have known Rafael Nadal would win the 2017 US Open as soon as he ended his 2016 season early to recover from a wrist injury. For as much fanfare as Roger Federer has received this year for his two Slam victories following an injury shortened 2016, it’s been largely forgotten that 2017 is the third season that Nadal has come back from injury to win at least two majors.

Sunday’s match was in practice as much of a foregone conclusion as it appeared to be on paper. That isn’t to say that Kevin Anderson didn’t acquit himself well in his first ever Slam final. But, Nadal’s unique brand of looping shots, quick movement and relentless pressure was always going to be a bad matchup for the 31-year-old South African. Anderson’s best chance at winning was to hope that he could have a banner serving day while his Mallorcan opponent arrived a bit off. But, neither was to come to pass.

Nadal began the match by putting Anderson under an immense amount of pressure. In the first game of the match, Anderson immediately was pushed by Nadal’s all-court game, and had to save a break point before getting on the scoreboard. After a quick hold from Nadal, Anderson once again found himself under pressure — barely surviving multiple break points to win a nearly 12-minute service game and even the match at 2-2. Offered only a brief respite as Nadal again held service relatively easily, Anderson finally succumbed to the onslaught and lost his serve at 2-3. After that point, Nadal never gave up the lead again. Each of the subsequent sets were easier going for Nadal, as he went up a break early and never gave Anderson enough breathing room to make a comeback, as Nadal took the match, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

What is even more impressive is that Nadal didn’t have to alter his game plan to ride roughshod over his opponent. In some ways, Nadal couldn’t have picked a better opponent for the title match than Anderson. While Anderson has an impressive serve and clean ground strokes, the 6’ 8” South African had difficulty moving up to Nadal’s angled looping shots. Then, when Anderson tried to move into the net, his awkwardness in the front part of the court became evident, as Nadal drew volley errors and passed Anderson repeatedly. Even where Anderson was able to hit impressive serves and booming groundstrokes, more often than not, Nadal was quick enough to get in place to hit an even more impressive shot past his opponent.

With his win, Nadal captured his third US Open title and his 16th Grand Slam title overall, leaving him within three titles of Roger Federer’s record of 19, as he was at the beginning of the year. Interestingly, each of Nadal’s US Open titles have come in seasons following a season in which he has been forced to take time away from tennis to recuperate from injury. In 2010, Nadal won his first US Open title, thereby completing his career Grand Slam and a three Slam season after his first major absence from the tour in 2009, where he was forced to skip the grass court season due to knee tendinitis. In 2013, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic for the second time in a US Open final, after missing the London Olympics due to a recurrence of his knee problems. And this year's title follows a 2016 season cut short due to a wrist injury.

The Rafael Nadal who won on Sunday is a different man than the one who captured the 2010 and 2013 titles. In 2010, Nadal was at the end of what was his best season, winning the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, and already making a case for himself as one of the game’s greats. Yet, when confronted with the possibility of his nephew joining the likes of Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver in the top echelon of tennis, his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal was skeptical, “They're the best. Rafael is very far away from those guys. Rafael is a good player. I think he's a very good player." Even Nadal himself was inclined to defer to Federer, saying before the 2010 French Open, "If somebody says I am better than Roger, I think this person doesn't know anything about tennis.”

In 2013, Nadal was also inclined to defer to his Swiss colleague in the greatest of all time, or GOAT, debate, saying “the question about who is the greatest is not about me or Roger, it is more about Rod Laver or Roger.” That was at a time when Nadal was closing in on Federer’s then-record 17 major titles, and Federer was coming off his worst season in a decade. Certainly, most observers had already begun to assert that Nadal had a reasonable claim on the title of GOAT, with his winning record against Federer. Yet Nadal, whether because he was more comfortable as an underdog, or due to the humility inculcated in him by his Uncle Toni, was unwilling to join the growing chorus of people asserting his candidacy for GOAT.

Yet, when asked to wax rhapsodic about his friendly rival this week in New York, Nadal demurred and offered a sarcastic joke instead:

"I don't want to look like I gonna be his boyfriend, no?"

That isn’t to say that the two rivals aren’t still close. And, the fact that the two have combined to win all of the Slams in a year for the fourth time might be the best advertisement ever for Federer’s new Laver Cup competition, where Nadal is next scheduled to play after his win in New York.

But this year’s Nadal is a much more assured player and man than we have ever seen. He was forced to substantially reassess his game after disappointing seasons and a crisis of confidence in 2015 and 2016, and added the scouting based approach of Carlos Moya to his coaching team, just as his longtime coach, his uncle, prepares to move on at the end of the 2017 season. It’s not that Moya has made significant changes in Nadal’s game — those weren’t necessary — but rather he assisted Nadal in finding the small refinements to his serve, backhand and all court game that enabled Nadal to return to the top of the game. But, perhaps the fact that Nadal now is surrounded by a team that sees him as one of the greats of the game first — as opposed to a nephew who needed to be trained — has imparted an additional degree of self-assurance in one of the most assiduously humble champions in all of sports.

In a marked contrast to Sloane Stephens’ gleeful trophy ceremony on Saturday, Nadal accepted his trophy and check with quiet pride. Even when he was given the opportunity to address the crowd in Spanish, he stopped first to give encouragement to those who are suffering due to the hurricanes ravaging the southern United States, Mexico and the Caribbean before thanking his fans for their support. A younger Nadal would have felt the same sentiment, but may not have had the confidence to speak up on such issues.

But, as he bit into a Grand Slam trophy for the 16th time, a bit of the teenage wonder peeked out at the crowd. As difficult as it was to imagine Nadal reaching this stage a year ago, it’s is equally difficult to imagine him anywhere else a year from now. After a career that has demanded as much resilience as it has talent, Nadal has returned to the spotlight a more confident, assured man than ever before.

It will be a tall task for anyone to catch him now.

 

 

 

 

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Ravi Shastri raises player burnout issue with BCCI

Written by Saturday, 09 September 2017 11:27

Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to provide the national team players adequate break between series in future to avoid player burnout.

Shastri, who joined the Committee of Administrators (CoA) meet on Friday via video link, shared his thoughts after his first tour since succeeding Anil Kumble as coach of the Indian team.

Shastri was unhappy with the limited gap between home series against Sri Lanka and the South Africa tour which starts in January next year. There will only be a one week gap between the two series.

India will play a series of five ODIs and three T20Is against Australia from September 17 to October 13. Four days later the team will play a series against New Zealand which will go on till November 7.

A week later Sri Lanka will play a full series against India from November 15 to December 24. Then, the team will be off to South Africa on December 28 where they will play three T20s, three ODIs followed by four Test matches.

He spoke about how England and Australia schedule tours where cricketers can take a Christmas break even on away tours and come back. India will be starting their home series against New Zealand during the Diwali period.

The BCCI expressed inability to have a longer gap for now between tours given the tight scheduling. There has been one practice game scheduled in South Africa before the first Test that likely to start from January 5, 2018, while team management wanted two practice games.

The team will depart for South Africa on December 28. The home series against Sri Lanka will finish less than one week before the team's departure. One option that may be exercised is to send the Test players early to South Africa for acclimatisation.

Shastri though, was satisfied with the England tour schedule which will also take place next year. He has requested the BCCI to take the captain and coach's suggestions in future while scheduling tours to avoid player burnout.

 

 

 

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Former Australian pacer Jason Gillespie is in talks to become Delhi Daredevils head coach for the next season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The 42-year-old ended his association with Yorkshire in 2016 and is currently part of Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League.

The Daredevils are presently without a coach in their ranks with Rahul Dravidhaving opted to continue as coach of the India under-19 team. This after the BCCI’s new rules regarding conflict of interest had left coaches and support staff personnel in the country to pick between working for IPL and national teams.

The Indian Express has learnt that Gillespie himself has shown interest in being part of an IPL team a few months ago. Gillespie has been part of the IPL in the past, after having been roped in as the bowling coach for Kings XI Punjab in 2011. Sources at the Delhi franchise, meanwhile, confirmed that talks are indeed on, but nothing has been finalised yet.

“He brings a lot to the table. He has vast experience behind him. He has shown keenness to be a part of Delhi team and talks are still on,” a Delhi Daredevils official said.

Impressive CV

Gillespie played 71 Tests and 97 ODIs in a career spanning a decade for the Australians during their indomitable reign as the foremost cricket team in the world, forming a deadly new-ball pairing with Glenn McGrath. He then made a very successful switch to coaching, especially at Yorkshire, where he lifted the struggling county from the second division in his first season before helping them win back-to-back County Championship titles in 2014 and 2015.

He was also attributed with playing a significant role in the development of Yorkshire cricketers who then went on to become England mainstays like Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and David Willey. There were even talks of him taking over the England job following the sacking of Peter Moores last year but it didn’t work out. Since ending his time with Yorkshire and returning to his hometown of Adelaide last year, he’s continued to be in high demand as coach.

In addition to being touted to become Australia’s bowling coach at some point, Gillespie’s already worked this year in an interim capacity with both Kent — as bowling coach — and the Papua New Guinea national team — as head coach. He was also named as bowling coach of the Australia A team to tour South Africa, which unfortunately got scrapped owing to the pay dispute crisis Down Under.

Recently, during an interaction with the media in Bengaluru at the National Cricket Academy Gillespie insisted that he is still committed to the Adelaide Strikers. “I do a little bit of work for Cricket Australia. I’ll be looking to see what other opportunities are out there in T20 leagues around the world,” Gillespie said. The pacer was in the city with other five Australian coaches to conduct a re-certification programme for Level 3 Indian coaches. In other Delhi Daredevils related news, India’s former pace spearhead, Zaheer Khan, has confirmed that he’s keen on playing in next year’s IPL.

 

 

 

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Former world champion Viswanathan Anand suffered a disappointing final round loss against Sergey Karjakin of Russia to finish joint eighth in the St Louis Rapid Chess tournament here today.

After raising visions of a good finish, luck did not favour Grandmaster Anand much on the final day as he was first held to a draw by Le Quang Leim of Vietnam in the seventh round and then shared points with Fabiano Caruana of United States in the penultimate round.

The Indian ace ended on seven points, coming through one win, five draws and two losses in the event that gave two points for a win and one for a draw.

Levon Aronian of Armenia topped the rapid section with 12 points in all. On the final day, Aronian scored two good wins and a solitary draw.

The American duo of Hikaru Nakamura and Caruana were right behind Aronian on 11 points each and Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi was fourth on 10 points. Lenier Dominguez of Cuba was right behind on nine points.

Le Quang Leim and Sergey Karjakin shared the sixth spot on eight points each while Anand, Garry Kasparov and Navara David of Czech Republic shares the eighth position.

The event is still only half way through as the players will change gears again and play the blitz that will have eighteen games in all and the winner in the USD 150000 prize money tournament will be decided by the cumulative score.

For Anand, the road ahead looks difficult but things can still turn around if he can start off with a few wins in the blitz. A five-point margin is huge and the turnaround can only happen with some massive scoring by Anand.

Garry Kasparov was again the big news of the day simply with his presence. However, Kasparov, once the best player on the planet, could not keep pace with clock or pressure and lost two games besides getting lucky and winning one against Leim.

It was a heartbreak for the yesteryear champion as he simply lost from a won endgame through a super-trick from David Navara in the first game of the day. Le Quang Leim dropped a rook in the next game from a playable position to give Kasparov his only victory in the event thus far while Caruana proved stronger in what was a tricky endgame in the final round.

Standings after Rapid: 1. Levon Aronian (Arm, 12); 2-3: Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura (both USA) 11 each; 4. Ian Nepomniachtchi (Rus, 8); 5. Lenier Dominguez (Cub, 9); 6-7.

Sergey Karjakin (Rus), Le Qunag Leim (Vie) 8 each; 8-10: Garry Kasparov (Rus), V Anand (Ind), David Navara (Cze) 7 each.

 

 

 

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