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CWG organisers apologise for ‘shameful’ closing ceremony

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Boxing legend MC Mary Kom led the Indian contingent at the Closing Ceremony. However, the athletes' march past was not shown live on TV. (PC- PTI)

Canberra, April 16: The organizers of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games have apologised for Sunday’s closing ceremony on Sunday night which has been roundly criticised for not including athletes.

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Athletes, including the competing countries’ respective flag-bearers, marched on to the arena before the ceremony commenced, meaning the audience at Carrara stadium could see them, but the TV audience couldn’t. Many athletes were seen leaving the stadium while the closing speeches were still in progress, reports Xinhua news agency.

The ceremony was even criticised by Australian broadcasters, Channel Seven, with former CWG bronze Medallist Johanna Griggs saying during the live coverage she was “furious” with the decision.

“They’re actually wrecking a tradition that is so important and part of the Commonwealth Games,” Griggs said, live on air. “Unfortunately tonight, the organizing committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

Commonwealth Games Chairman Peter Beattie acknowledged on Monday that organisers made a mistake featuring athletes in the pre-show instead of the television coverage.

“If the athletes didn’t come into the stadium until the broadcast time they would have been stuck in a field or a paddock somewhere,” Beattie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

Beattie, who had previously described the CWG as “inspirational” and “innovative,” said he was disappointed the viewers at home did not get to see the athletes.

“We wanted athletes to be part of and enjoy the closing ceremony. However, having them come in to the stadium in the pre-show meant the TV audience were not able to see the athletes enter the stadium. We got that wrong,” the Commonwealth Games chairman said.

“The people who are angry are justified. The people who have been critical are also justified,” Beattie said.

“Unfortunately tonight, the organising committee, together with the host broadcasters, just didn’t get it right.”

In a social media post on Monday morning, Beattie said the closing ceremony telecast should have been organised more appropriately.

“The speeches were too many and too long. I was part of that and I acknowledge it. Again, we got that wrong,” he wrote.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who actually spoke at the closing ceremony, also criticised the organisers on Monday.

“At the end of the day, we appoint an agency to run the day to day operations of the Games,” Palaszczuk told reporters.

“Whoever made that decision not to allow those athletes to march in should hang their heads in shame.”

Athletes themselves have said they were disappointed to not be included in the closing ceremony.

Angus Brandt, a member of the Australian basketball team which won a gold medal, said the entire Australian basketball team was disappointed to be left out.

“It was a little disappointing with the athletes being brought in before the actual ceremony began,” Brandt said on Australian Television on Monday.

“We were looking forward to being part of the Closing Ceremony and being recognized for what we had done in the games.”

The host broadcaster of the CWG, NEP Group, also released a social media post saying it was “disappointed.”

IANS

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Real Madrid tops Huesca 1-0 in La Liga action

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Huesca (Spain), Dec 10: Real Madrid played at less than its best but still managed to earn a 1-0 win over recently promoted Huesca, whose winless streak has now extended to 14 matches.

With nemesis Barcelona and rival Atletico Madrid having won their respective matches, Real Madrid did not crumble under pressure, although the club did not shine against a tough team that lacked precision, especially in the second half on Sunday, reports Efe.

Real Madrid got going early, when Welsh forward Gareth Bale tried his luck, but Serbian goalkeeper Aleksandar Jovanovic saved the day for Huesca, although not for long.

On his second opportunity, Bale did not disappoint, finding the back of the net on a left-footed shot off a cross from right back Alvaro Odriozola in the 8th minute.

Having taken the lead, Real Madrid waited for the opportunity to attack, while keeping the ball under control.

At the other end of the field, Huesca struggled to move the ball, but the club tried to take advantage of the space left behind the opponent’s backs and relied on the counter-attack.

Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Avila fired a powerful shot in the 17th minute, forcing a nice save by Real Madrid’s Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois.

Huesca’s Jovanovic had to save another shot by Bale in the 25th minute.

After the half, Huesca put pressure on its rival and besieged Real Madrid’s area, but the club did not make the most of the crosses sent into the box.

Bale fired a shot that Jovanovic barely blocked in the 62nd minute and he squandered another chance on a lob eight minutes later.

Real Madrid managed to hold its 1-0 lead until the end of the game despite Huesca’s efforts.

With the win, Real Madrid is in fourth place in the La Liga standings with 26 points, five points behind leader Barcelona, while Huesca remains in the 20th and last spot with seven points.

IANS

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1st Test: India creates history, beat Australia by 31 runs

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Adelaide, Dec 10: India on Monday created a historic 31-run win over Australia by beating them on their home ground after 10 years in the final day of the opening Test at the Adelaide Oval. With this win, India has taken a 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series.

This is the sixth Test win for India on Australian soil.

Earlier, resuming the day at 104/4, the hosts soon lost overnight batsman Travis Head (14) with the scoreboard ticking 115/5.

Head fell to a short pitched delivery from the experienced Ishant that resulted in a simple catch by Ajinkya Rahane at gully. The hosts still had a ray of hope with the other overnight batter Shaun Marsh (60) and captain Tim Paine (41) raising 41 runs for the sixth wicket before Bumrah packed away the former.

Bumrah jolted the Australians once again just at the stroke of lunch by getting Paine caught behind, leaving the hosts to the tail to achieve the target.

It was always going to be a tall ask for the tailenders to survive two full sessions but the Australians — Pat Cummins (28), Mitchell Starc (28), Nathan Lyon (38 not out) and Josh Hazlewood (13) — batted their skin out to reduce the deficit to only 31 runs.

Needing three wickets for an outright win, the Indian attack seemed to be on a mission as Shami started the post-lunch session with the wicket of Starc after the Aussie quick put on 59 runs for the eighth wicket with fellow pacer Cummins.

Starc’s departure brought in Lyon, who doubled his effort of getting six wickets in India’s second innings, with a solid 47-ball unbeaten 38 and more importantly being involved in two crucial stands.

Lyon first raised 31 runs for the 9th wicket with Cummins before adding another 32 runs for the final wicket with Hazlewood to leave the Indians frustrating before Ashwin managed to get Hazlewood caught by Lokesh Rahul to guide India to a fabulous victory.

Brief Scores: India 250, 307 (Cheteshwar Pujara 71, Ajinkya Rahane 70; Nathan Lyon 6/1 22) beat Australia 235 and 291 (Shaun Marsh 60, Tim Paine 41; Mohammed Shami 3/65, Jasprit Bumrah 3/68, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/92) by 31 runs.

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Gambhir’s retirement draws curtains on glorious career

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New Delhi, Dec 9 : The high points of Gautam Gambhir’s career are a stuff every aspiring cricketer dreams of. Top scorer in two World Cups, winner of two IPL titles with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), one of the most prolific opening pairs in world cricket alongside the great Virender Sehwag. The list goes on and on.

On Sunday, the combative former Team India player made his exit from the game as the Ranji Trophy match between his native Delhi and Andhra drew to a close.

The match ended in a dull stalemate at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium. The match itself however, faded into inconsequence as Gambhir was at the centre of attention of the spectators present in the stadium.

He made the occasion a memorable one, top scoring with 112 in Delhi’s first innings.

The 37-year-old has an enviable record. He has played 58 Tests (4154 runs), 147 One-Day Internationals (5238 runs) and 37 Twenty20 Internationals. He has also played 197 first-class matches.

But apart from the statistics, what fans will remember most is his combative attitude, the never-say-die spirit which stood out during those nerve wracking run chases or when the going became tough.

These qualities were on full display during two of the most memorable occasions for Indian cricket since the World Cup triumph in 1983 — winning the 2007 World Twenty20 and the 2011 ODI World Cup.

He played an integral part in India’s wins in both finals. At the the 2007 World Twenty20 final against arch-rivals Pakistan, he top scored with 75 runs from 54 balls.

He was the top scorer in the 2011 World Cup final as well with a composed 97 from 122 deliveries as India pulled off an exciting chase against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

Gambhir is also the lone Indian and only one of four cricketers to have scored hundreds in five consecutive Test matches. He is the also the only Indian batsman to score in excess of 300 runs in four consecutive Test series.

But even before he announced his retirement earlier in the week, the signs were there for the past couple of years.

Gambhir did not exactly see eye to eye with India captain Virat Kohli which played a part in his exit from the national squad. He also struggled in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in recent times and his last season after returning to the Delhi Daredevils was not a very memorable one.

On Sunday, as Gambhir walked off the field and into the sunset, the curtains came down on a glorious career. Indian fans, perhaps even several around the cricketing world will miss one of the most exciting and talented batsmen of his generation.

(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at [email protected])

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