The News International - Sports

Jun 232017
 
Konta and Svitolina crash out of Birmingham event

BIRMINGHAM: Britain’s Johanna Konta crashed out of the Aegon Classic in the second round, suffering a 6-1 6-3 loss to impressive American Coco Vandeweghe at the event here on Thursday. Second seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine was also knocked out at the Edgbaston Priory Club after suffering a surprise three-set defeat by Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi. Vandeweghe, coached by Australian former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, dominated the first set with her strong serve too much for fourth seed Konta as she wrapped up the set in 24 minutes. Konta, the world number seven, improved in the second but never truly looked like mounting a comeback against the 25-year-old Vandeweghe, who was a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2015.”I was particularly happy with how I competed. I think that is the most important thing,” said the American. “I was ready to go from the start and that is what you want – to be firing and moving well and I felt that way today. “I was making her earn every service game, that was my focus. I think it finally started to wear into that second set and that is what got me the break,” she added. Vandeweghe faces Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals on Friday after the Spaniard’s 6-1 6-4 win over American Alison Riske. Giorgi won six of the last seven games to triumph 6-4 4-6 6-2 over Svitolina, who said she was hampered by a sore foot. The 25-year-old Italian will meet Australian Ashleigh Barty in the last eight. France’s [Read More…]

Jun 232017
 
Fakhar Zaman: From village boy to hero

MARDAN, Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman was once banned from playing cricket in his village and beaten by his brothers because he was simply too good — but he has returned a hero after his starring role in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win. His eyes bright, the tall 27-year-old posed for selfies and was garlanded with flowers as he was welcomed back to his home in Katlang in northwestern Pakistan. Fakhar said he was still taking it all in after he top-scored with 114 off 106 balls to lead Pakistan to a shock victory over arch-rivals India in the final, after making his ODI debut earlier in the tournament. “I did not feel much at that time,” Fakhar told AFP, referring to Sunday’s final in London. “Then I came here, and people started coming here… They all are giving me love, so now I feel that I have done some great heroics.” Bottom-ranked Pakistan produced a breathtaking display in the climax of a tournament featuring the world’s top-eight One-day International nations. They piled up 338 for four, bolstered by left-handed opener Fakhar’s maiden hundred, in what was just his fourth One-day International. His efforts set social media alight during the match, with laudatory articles and memes quickly going viral. But, Fakhar said, it was not always so: in fact his village once refused to allow him to take part in local cricket games. “I played one or two hard-ball matches in school and scored some runs. I then became popular in the whole [Read More…]

Jun 182017
 
India crush Pakistan

KARACHI: India defeated Pakistan 7-1 in their match of Hockey World League Semifinal Round at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Sunday.  It was Pakistan’s third successive big defeat in the tournament, which doubles up as the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup. It was India’s biggest-ever win over Pakistan. India gave a wonderful demonstration of structured hockey in front of a full house. Their attacks were well orchestrated and finishing was excellent. India converted two of their four penalty corners; Pakistan none out of five. The first quarter did not give any indication of things to come. The most evenly fought 15 minutes of the match had both the sides earning one penalty corner. Aleem Bilal’s flick went very high above the bar. Harmanpreet Singh’s flat, fast and angular push beat goalkeeper Amjad. The two teams had a PC in the first five minutes of the second quarter as well but failed to strike. In the 23rd minute, India extended the advantage with an excellent quick passing move capped by Talwinder.  After Pakistan wasted two chances in quick succession, Talwinder scored his second of the day. A left side move resulted in a high ball in the circle which was well tapped in by Talwinder with the stick held above the head. India persisted with their offensive play and Ramandeep’s two successive shots were well saved by Amjad. Within three minutes of resumption, Harmanpreet again converted a PC, this time via a forceful high flick on the left side of [Read More…]

Jun 182017
 
Mayweather says fight with McGregor is what people want

LOS ANGELES: Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather says he has no problem coming out of retirement to fight mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in what some are predicting will be one of the richest fights in history.  “McGregor is a tough competitor.  People all around the world demanded this fight so I had to give them what they wanted to see,” Mayweather told BSOTV in an interview that aired Saturday.  “They asked for this fight. I was in retirement, but they wanted me back and I´m back.” Mayweather was making his first public comments since Wednesday´s announcement of the much-discussed fight which will take place August 26 in the US boxing capital of Las Vegas.   The 40-year-old Mayweather has been retired since beating Andre Berto in September 2015 and improving his career record to 49-0. The matchup with McGregor gives Mayweather a chance to reach the 50-0 career milestone.  Asked about financial details of the fight, Mayweather said both sides are pleased.  “Both parties are very happy,” Mayweather said.  “He´s very happy, I´m very happy and I can´t wait.” But many boxing experts have slammed the event as an exhibition spectacle, pointing to the fact that the 28-year-old McGregor has never had a professional boxing match and only dabbled in the sport as a teenager.  The pair have yet to get together face-to-face since the announcement but they are expected to announce a promotional tour soon that will take them to a couple of major US cities.  “You´re supposed to [Read More…]

Jun 172017
 
Murray talks up Bonding experience in traumatic times

LONDON: Iconic British secret agent James Bond’s ability to unite the British people is required now more than ever, tennis star Andy Murray said in a candid interview with The Times on Saturday. The 30-year-old defending Wimbledon champion was speaking about unity after a year in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and suffered three deadly terror attacks as well as this week’s devastating fire in London. Murray, talking ahead of the key Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s which gets underway on Monday in London, told The Times: “Every time a new James Bond movie comes out everyone’s so pumped for it and we start comparing the Bonds. “People know James Bond as being a British icon. “With everything that’s happened over the last year, the country has a decision to make. “Does it divide us or does it bring us together. The closer together we become, the better it is for the country,” said Murray, who came out in support of a pro Scottish independence vote  in 2014. Murray, whose mother Judy joined him in being honoured by Queen Elizabeth II on Friday, said unlike Bond he craves to go unrecognised. “I don’t like being the centre of attention and obviously when you lose a match and there are lots of people around, you just want to go unnoticed,” he said. Murray has been promoting this weekend’s ‘The Great Get Together’ to honour the politician Jo Cox who was murdered a year ago. He agreed [Read More…]

Jun 172017
 
Show no fear, Afridi tells Sarfraz

LONDON: When he was Pakistan’s captain, one of Shahid Afridi’s greatest ambitions was to win a world title for his country. He failed to realise that dream after having lead Pakistan to the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup and to a first-round exit from the 2016 World Twenty20 championship. On Saturday, Afridi hoped that his successor Sarfraz Ahmed will succeed where he failed. Sarfraz, the aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman, will lead Pakistan in a dream final of the ICC Champions Trophy against India on Sunday (today). “Before I dwell on Pakistan’s strategy for the big match, I want to say that the final has given Sarfraz a God given opportunity of leaving a lasting legacy. The feisty wicket-keeper batsman is still learning the art of captaincy, yet has grown in stature as leader in every game this tournament. My advice to Sarfraz for the final is simple — take all decisions wholeheartedly and without any fear whatsoever,” Afridi wrote in his column on the official ICC website. “In big games, you need captains to have a clear mind since they are the ones who have to steer the ship. Sarfraz needs to back his own abilities to the hilt since a confused or timid approach can hurt the team and dampen the chances of success.” Afridi stressed that Pakistan’s senior duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will have to deliver. “Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to come to the party for the big game, both these players have contributed [Read More…]

Jun 162017
 
Kovalev walks off stage in build-up to rematch with Ward

LOS ANGELES, California: Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev made his point then stormed off the podium as he butted heads Thursday with American champion Andre Ward in the final news conference before their world title rematch. There appears to be genuine dislike between the undefeated Ward and challenger Kovalev, who is seeking to regain his three world titles when he faces Ward Saturday night in the US boxing capital of Las Vegas. On Thursday, the 34-year-old Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) amped up US-Russian boxing tensions by taunting Ward and then walking off the stage. “I already said enough and I will prove it June 17. And you get prepared,” Kovalev said, turning and pointing his finger directly at Ward before leaving by the back door. Ward, who was sitting in his assigned seat on the podium, immediately shot back, “Turn my microphone on. Don’t you point your finger at me.” The Russian sent Ward to the canvas in their first fight in November but failed to close the deal and is now hoping to prove his claim that he was robbed of a victory. Ward, 33, won the controversial first fight by the narrowest of margins, 114-113, on all three judges’ scorecards, which earned him the IBF, WBA and WBO belts. In the build-up to Saturday’s contest, Kovalev mocked Ward’s “Son of God” nickname by referring to him as the “Son of Judges.” Three of the four major belts will be at stake as the pair meet for the second time [Read More…]

Jun 162017
 
Henderson off to hot start at Meijer Classic

GRAND RAPIDS, United States: Brooke Henderson shot a bogey-free eight-under 63, her lowest round of the season, to take a one-shot lead atop a crowded leaderboard at the LPGA Tour’s Meijer Classic on Thursday. The 19-year-old Canadian is searching for her first win of 2017 and she has a slim lead after the first round of the $2-million event at the Blythefield Country Club. She delivered an eagle and six birdies, in a performance that comes on the back of a tie for 11th in her last outing at the Manulife LPGA Classic. “I felt like today was going to be a really good day,” she said. “Everything was just kind of going my way. I was hitting the ball really well and some putts were dropping, which is kind of a change from the last few weeks. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to the next three days.” But the pack is in hot pursuit, with nine players within two shots of Henderson. China’s Feng Shanshan, American Lexi Thompson and Henderson’s Canadian counterpart Jennifer Ha are among six golfers tied for second after shooting 64. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Feng Simin of China and Swede Madelene Sagstrom one shot further back. Henderson’s form comes as she prepares to defend her title in a couple of weeks at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She said Thursday’s round is a confidence booster. “I feel like my game is in a really good place,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to [Read More…]

Jun 152017
 
India pick Pant, Yadav for WI tour

NEW DELHI: Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav were picked on Thursday for India’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies comprising five One-day Internationals (ODIs) and one Twenty20 starting June 23. The two youngsters replace opening batsman Rohit Sharma and allrounder Hardik Pandya from the 15-man Champions Trophy squad, which is defending its title in England and Wales. Pant, who has played just one T20 international for India, and Yadav were already on the radar after being named among five players kept on standby for the 50-over tournament. The duo have been rewarded for their excellent showing on the domestic circuit, including impressive displays in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament. Pant, 19, hit two fifties for Delhi Daredevils in the recent IPL edition, following on from a 326-ball 308 in the domestic Ranji Trophy last season. His aggressive left-handed batting and ability to handle the pressure of a high-stakes match impressed chief selector MSK Prasad, who described him as a “player for the future”. Yadav piqued interest in his Test debut, clinching four wickets in India’s series victory over Australia in March. The 22-year-old from Kanpur in northern India also put in a strong showing for his IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders. The Virat Kohli-led India will leave directly for the Caribbean Islands after wrapping up their ongoing Champions Trophy campaign. India though do not officially have a coach for the West Indies tour, with Anil Kumble only contracted until the end of the Champions Trophy. [Read More…]

Jun 152017
 
French sensation Mbappe surprised by meteoric rise

PARIS: At just 18 years of age, Kylian Mbappe is the hottest property in football and the French sensation admits that he has been surprised by how quickly his star has risen. “I always had lots of imagination when I was little, so I am not going to say that I hadn’t imagined it,” Mbappe told AFP in an interview when asked if he expected to have won a league title and become a full international at such a young age. “I imagined succeeding early, but I didn’t really think things would happen so quickly. “Of course I always believed. The players who have succeeded in their careers are the ones who believed in themselves.” Billed as the new Thierry Henry, Mbappe made his top-flight debut for Monaco in December 2015 when still aged just 16, but it is in the last six months that he has gone from a player of great promise to one of the biggest stars in Europe. He scored 15 goals to help Monaco win a first French title since 2000 and won his first cap for France in March. He is now being linked to mega-money moves to one of the continent’s biggest sides this close season, with Real Madrid leading the chase alongside the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs. On Tuesday, he earned his fourth cap for Les Bleus, starring in a 3-2 friendly victory over England in front of almost 80,000 fans at the Stade de France The following [Read More…]

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