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PV Sindhu loses to Okuhara in Thailand Open final

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P.V. Sindhu (File Photo)

Bangkok, July 16: India’s star shuttler P.V. Sindhu lost to reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in straight games in the women’s singles final of the Thailand Open here on Sunday.

The second seeded Sindhu lost 15-21, 18-21 in 50 minutes as the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist took a 6-5 lead in head-to-head record.

While fourth seeded Okuhara got a prize money of $26,250, Sindhu, a three-time World Championship medallist, bagged $13,300.

The Japanese was quick off the blocks, taking a 6-2 lead. But Sindhu did well to gain three consecutive points, trailing 5-6.

Okuhara then won a 23-rally battle to take a 7-5 lead before she went on to extend her lead to four points with the scoreline at 12-8, thanks to couple of unforced errors on the part of the Indian.

Sindhu sensed the urgency in reducing the deficit as she didn’t allow Okuhara to run away with the game. However, the Japanese cotinued to maintain at least a two-point game until she reached 17 points.

Thereafter, Okuhara produced four consecutive points in a hurry to pocket the first game 21-15. A body smash rattled Sindhu, who then hit a shot wide before hitting one onto the net to trail 0-1 in the match.

In the second game, Sindhu started brigh, racing to an early 6-2 lead. But Sindhu was left stranded at the six-point mark as Okuhara fought valiantly to garner five points on the trot to take a 7-6 lead.

The Indian then brought her high-jump smashes to the fore to reel in three successive points to lead 9-7 but the Japanese equalised at the nine-point mark. Sindhu managed to go into the midgame break with a two point lead.

Afterwards, Okuhara brought out some delectable cross-court net-game to trouble Sindhu and lead 14-12. Even though Sindhu quickly pulled level, Okuhara raced to a 17-14 lead.

Sindhu came out with a strong defence which earned her two quick points. Okuhara smashed at the left and Sindhu dived to put it slowly past the other net but the Japanese couldn’t reach there. Then Okuhara shot wide to manage to hold a slim 17-16 lead.

Then, Sindhu’s smash went long as she trailed 16-18. Under pressure, both matched shots for shots as a half-smash on the right from Sindhu made Okuhara lead by a point before the Japanese could only defend a smash into the net, with the scores tied 18-all.

Just like the first game, Okuhara then showed her aggression to force Sindhu on the defensive. And as the Indian’s shot hit the net, the Japanese got her match point.

In the men’s singles final, Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan defeated Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 13-21, 21-9 in 58 minutes.

The men’s doubles title went to Japanese top seeded pair of Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda, who defeated compatriots Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe 21-17, 21-19 in 44 minutes.

The mixed doubles final witnessed a huge upset as Indonesian eighth seeds Hafiz Faizal and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja stunned English top seeds Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock 21-12, 21-12 in 28 minutes.

In the women’s doubles final, Indonesian fourth seeds Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu thrashed Japanese third seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi 21-13, 21-10 in 53 minutes.

IANS

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Sindhu stands out in a big week for Indian sport

After beating Tai Tzu, Sindhu said she was prepared to play her again in the final, but that did not happen as the world’s top shuttler failed to make it.

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PV Sindhu

Indian sports fans had plenty to cheer for over a week as Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, Indian cricket and hockey teams were out-performing to be world beaters.

Sindhu got over her self-doubts to win a major title by beating all those who have been harassing her for long to win the season-ending World Badminton Tour Finals.

The cricket team could not consolidate the 1-0 lead in the four-Test series against Australia by losing the second Test at Perth while the hockey team was left with the consolation of drawing their pool match 2-2 with eventual winners Belgium and losing 1-2 to the other finalists the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

For over a year Sindhu had not won a championship and she was out of the top five in the rankings. She was also dogged by the mental block of having not beaten World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying after her victory over the Chine Taipei girl at the Rio Olympics two years ago.

During this period, she was beaten by her six times. Finally, she showed amazing court craft to go with her determination in overcoming Tai Tzu in the Group of Death where she also had to deal with the doggedly defensive Japanese Akane Yamaguchi who had beaten the Indian in the last year’s final.

Once she was through with the top two players of the world, Sindhu looked more comfortable in beating another sticky customer, Ratanchok Intanon of Thailand, in the semis before settling a score with another Japanese Nozomi Okuhara who had beaten her in the World Championships final last year.

Sindhu also avenged her loss against Tai Tzu at the Jakarta Asian Games final. She was also the beaten finalist to Spaniard Carlina Marin at the world championships. These defeats raised doubts about her temperament.

To add to her woes, she found it difficult to cope with the smart play of Saina Nehwal, losing to her twice, at the nationals and at the Commonwealth Games.

One big difference in her clashes with the top players is she could sort out Yamaguchi, beating her five times since her last loss whereas she had no clue as to what to do with Tai Tzu for such a long time.

After beating Tai Tzu, Sindhu said she was prepared to play her again in the final, but that did not happen as the world’s top shuttler failed to make it.

Whether it was just to psyche herself up or to announce a change in her game plan, Sindhu did say before the event in Guangzhou that she was well-drilled to win the championship this time.

This long-awaited victory should be the turning point in Sindhu’s run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, beginning with the 2019 calendar. Both Sindhu and her coach Gopichand may have chased away all apprehensions about her ability to win big.

The Indian cricket team may have lost the second Test at the brand new Perth Stadium, but it was the Australians who thought of declaring their second innings to protect their bowlers from the fiery Indian pacers, something Bishan Bedi did in 1976 at Kingston, Jamaica, when he declared the Indian innings at 97 for five with Anshuman Gaekwad, Brijesh Patel and Gundappa Viswanath already hurt badly while batting and he and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar were injured in the field.

By all accounts, it was the usual Perth pitch, but what prompted coach Justin Langer to say after the match that he seriously thought of declaring Australia’s second innings to save his bowlers from injury, never mind the last-wicket pair Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood added 30 priceless runs to psychologically knock the Indians out of the match after Australia lost four wickets in 15 balls for three runs.

Mohammad Shami looked so ferocious, taking six wickets. Luckily he did not have to face a ball as Umesh Sood, Ishant Sharma and Jaspirt Bumrah perished backing off to short-pitched stuff while the formalities were being gone through in the closing stages of the Test.

Suddenly, the Indians were unable to figure out road ahead, though skipper Virat Kohli sounded confident of fighting back. He is one batsman who looked the most competent to bat on the Perth pitch, scoring a hundred in the first innings. What tilted the Test in Australia’s favour was the century opening stand in the first innings between Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch.

They have a problem with the team selection for the Boxing Day Test. The openers are in a mess and Mayank Agarwal will come in for either Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul. Hardik Pandya will also join the squad to make it 19-strong. Already, there is a talk of asking Hanuma Vihari to open, seeing his technique to deal with pace, and whether to bring in Pandya in place of Umesh Yadav in preference to Rohit Sharma at No 6 to accommodate a spinner.

Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri are never short of ideas. Like they did in Perth by playing four fast bowlers instead of playing Ravindra Jadeja of Kuldeep Yadav, they could come up with another surprise at Melbourne. They might even ask Rohit to open with Mayank. Plenty to ponder about, Merry Christmas!

Playing the Hockey World Cup at home proved to be as miserable for the Indians as playing anywhere else. They played tough matches with both Belgium and the Dutch and naturally felt they could have gone further than the quarter-finals.

Like some of his predecessors, a despondent coach Harendra Singh blamed the umpiring for the defeat against the Dutch and was rightly reprimanded. These days the review system corrects umpiring goof-ups, but Harendra was unhappy with India playing with 10 men in the last quarter when Rohit Das was benched for 10 minutes, but when the Indians were unfairly tackled there was no reaction.

Belgium deserves to be the champions after their steady rise over a decade. They clearly looked the team to beat. Two powerhouses Australia and Germany also had an unforgettable World Cup.

The question is: Will Harendra be replaced by a foreign coach? No, he should not be, he deserves an extension as many of the players have come along with him from his days as junior India coach.

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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IPL Auction 2019: Unadkat most expensive player for Rs 8.40 cr to Rajasthan Royals

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IPL Auctions

Jaipur, Dec 18: Indian Premier League (IPL) auction is back to enthral the cricket fans and as many as 351 cricketers are set to go for the auctions on Tuesday. Jaydev Unadkat is the most expensive player who has been sold for 8.40 crore to Rajasthan Royals.

Carlos Brathwaite and Axar Patel have been sold for whopping of Rs 5 crore each to KKR and Delhi Capitals respectively.

IPL Auction 2019 Live Updates:

** Shivam Dube, with a base price of Rs 20 Lakh, has been sold to Royal Challengers Bangalore at Rs 5 Crore.

** Anmolpreet Singh, with a base price of Rs 20 lakh, sold for Rs 80 lakh to Mumbai Indians.

** Manan Vohra remains unsold at a base price of Rs 20 lakh.

** Devdutt Padikkal is sold to RCB for the base price of 20 Lakh

** CSK buy Mohit Sharma for Rs 5 crore.

** Fawad Ahmed remains unsold at a base price of Rs 50 Lakh, following which auctioneer Hugh Edmeades announces a 15-minute break.

** Spinners Rahul Sharma and Adam Zampa remain unsold at base prices of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore respectively.

** CSK buy Mohit Sharma for Rs 5 crore. He has played 84 IPL matches in his career so far.

** Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings have taken Mohit Sharma’s price to Rs 5 crore.

** Chennai Super Kings show their interest in fast bowler Mohit Sharma, who comes at a base price of Rs 50 lakh.

** Varun Aaron sold to Rajasthan Royal for Rs 2.4 crore.

** Mohammed Shami, based price Rs 1 crore, sold to Kings XI Punjab for Rs 4.8 crore.

** Mohammed Shami, who claimed his Test best spell of 6/56 in Australia on Monday, has gone past Rs 3.6 crore from a base price of Rs 1 crore.

** Ishant Sharma sold to Delhi Capitals for Rs 1.10 Crore, Lasith Malinga sold to Mumbai Indians for Rs 2 Crore.

** Jaydev Unadkat sold to Rajasthan Royals for Rs 8.40 crore.

** Wriddhiman Saha is sold to SunRisers Hyderabad for Rs 1.20 crore.

** Windies wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran, with a base price Rs 75 lakh, sold for Rs 4.2 crore to Kings XI Punjab.

** Jonny Bairstow, with a base price of Rs 1.5 crore, sold for Rs 2.2 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad.

** Ben McDermott is up next and he remains unsold.

** Naman Ojha is the first wicket-keeper to go under the hammer. He remains unsold

** Axar Patel sold to Delhi Capitals for Rs 5 Crore.

**Yuvraj Singh, with a base price of Rs 1 Crore, remains unsold.

*2019: Brendon McCullum, with a base price of Rs 2 Crore, remains unsold. Martin Guptill also remains unsold.

**Hanuma Vihari sold to Delhi Capitals for Rs 2 Crore.

** Carlos Brathwaite sold for Rs 5 crore to Kolkata Knight Riders.

**Windies star all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite has started a bidding war among the franchises. KKR and KXIP are fighting for him and his price has shot to Rs 3 crore from a base price of Rs 75 lakh.

**Woakes remains unsold.

**Chris Woakes is the first player among all-rounders in the first round of IPL auction.

**Another New Zealander Martin Guptill remains unsold at a base price of Rs 1 crore.

**Brendon McCullum remains unsold at a base price of Rs 2 crore.

**SOLD! Hetmyer, with a base price of 50 lakh, sold to RCB for Rs 4.2 crore.

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho quits club

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New Delhi, Dec 18: The Manchester United on Tuesday announced that manager Jose Mourinho has left the club.

“Manchester United has announced that Jose Mourinho has left the Club. We would like to thank him for his work during his time at Manchester United and wish him success in the future”, the Football Club said in a statement.

“A new caretaker manager will be appointed until the end of the current season, while the club conducts a thorough recruitment process for a new, full-time manager”, it added.

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