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Monday 25 January 2016

Djokovic Stretched To Limit At Aus Open 2016

#NovakDjokovic vs #GillesSimon
#AustralianOpen #GrandSlam #Tennis 2016

It was expected to be a canter for #Djoker, but what transpired at the #RodLaverArena on Sunday night was nothing short of extraordinary. Little known, Gilles Simon stretched the champion to a magnificent 5 setter in Round 3 of the Men's Singles draw winning hearts of millions watching that match worldwide.

After winning the first set rather comfortably, Djoker and Simon wrestled in the second set and it went to a tie-breaker. Simon ran through the tie-break 7-1 (many unforced errors from Novak) to level the set line.

Novak however gained composure to lead yet again, taking the third set 6-4.
However, not to be out done, Simon bounced back to take the fourth with an identical margin 6-4.

The pressure was clearly showing on Novak but he brought all his experience and gritty play to snatch the fifth one 6-3 and progress to the next round.

The gruelling game lasted 4 hours 32 min and the crowd was spellbound by the strokeplay of little known Gilles as he enthralled them with dazzling serves and strokeplay. Djoker made 100 enforced errors and had it been a more accomplished/experienced player, would have been packing bags for that display. 

He now faces Kei Nishikori in the next round.

The Australian Open is heating up as we move into the decisive week of the tournament and players scrambling for Quarterfinal berths!

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Ind v Aus T20 Series After High Scoring ODIs

#Ind v #Aus
#T20 Series, Game 1 - #AdelaideOval

After a super high scoring 5 ODI series, (300+ scores in all but one games), the centre-stage now moves to 3 T20 series starting at the Adelaide Oval on 26th Jan 2016.

26th Jan is India's #RepublicDay and #AustraliaDay too! So, its a great occasion for both teams facing off to determine the better T20 team. Given the team's batting strengths, its difficult to pick an outright winner although Aussie bowlers have held their own at crucial stages to snatch games from India during the ODI series. That could still be the deciding factor.

Having said that, the win at #SCG will give India renewed hope and much needed morale to take on the Aussies in their den and tame them as well. 

Both teams are packed with T20 specialists and games can change in matter of couple of overs. Thats how tight and close this one is going to be!

There was talk that #ViratKohli would be picked to lead India ahead of #MSDhoni considering his poor run of form. However, the Sydney win seams to have sealed MS his place as captain. His wobbly 40 in that chase were important too, especially that last over six against Mitch Marsh was very crucial before #ManishPandey sealed the game for them.

Australia will look at #DavidWarner and #GlennMaxwell to power their innings with some big hitting alongside #GeorgeBailey and #SteveSmith. Their Indian counterparts have even more firepower with likes of #RohitSharma, #ViratKohli, #MSDhoni, #SureshRaina and #YuvrajSingh (may be his last hurrah at world cricket stage .. if he fails to grab this opportunity).

#JamesFaulker, #MarkRichardson and #JohnHastings have bowled wonderfully at the death and  pulled things back for Australia in the ODIs. They will look to do the same here. For India, the death bowling remains a huge problem and that could just be the difference in the two sides at the end of it.

All eyes on the #AdelaideOval tomorrow when both teams line up for their respective #NationalAnthems and a cracking T20 game!!

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Saturday 23 January 2016

India Pull One Back Finally, Australia Take ODI Series 4-1

#India v #Australia 
5th ODI, #SCG

Finally, India pulled one back against Australia in the current ODI series after being thumped on four occasions. Manish Pandey along with Rohit Sharma steered India's run chase beautifully to see their first win in the last ODI at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Set a massive target of 330, Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan started solidly putting on a century stand. Quick wickets of Dhawan and Virat Kohli meant India were on the backfoot yet again in this series.
Manish stepped on to... the scene and in Rohit's company blossomed India's innings. Just when Rohit looked like getting a 3rd hundred of the series, tragedy struck. He edged one behind on 99!

The woefully out of form, M.S.Dhoni joined Manish and India started to fall behind the required run-rate but Manish's aggression and Dhoni's composure set the game up for a thrilling finish.
In the final over with 13 to win, Dhoni slammed a six over long off but was out the very next ball. However, Manish kept his cool and smashed the winning runs alongside completing his maiden ODI century. He was adjudged Man of the Match.

Earlier in the day, riding on David Warner and @MitchelMarsh tons, Australia piled on the agony for India yet again. Although their bowlers did better by capturing 4 early wickets, the same old story of inexperience surfaced. Debutatnt Jasprit Bumrah impressed with a two wicket haul and excellent death bowling.

We now move to the 3 match ‪#‎T20‬ series starting early next week and India will take a lot of confidence from this win although ODI series has been pocketd by Australia 4-1.

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Who Will Win The Cup?

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Match Fixing Scandal Rocks Tennis

#MatchFixing #Tennis

In a sensational scoop, the tennis world is rocked by a #matchfixing scandal where players have been bribed to lose matches or fix sets/games/matches to #Bookies' liking. Needless to say, this is a multi-million dollar scam with lot of big names involved.

Some #Wimbledon matches in 2015 were fixed and sources say that 16 of the top 50 ranked men's tennis players are actively involved in fixing their matches. This is a serious allegation and could bring the sport to big disrepute. 

The most startling statement came in from World No 1 #Novak #Djokovic when he agreed that he was approached by bookies in 2007. They approached him through his team members. They scrapped that offer but just goes to show, it is easy to access top players and get them agree on fixing matches for huge sums of money. 

Betting is legal is some parts of the world and banned in others, but, the business is rampantly run all over the world illegally. It is widely believed that #Mafia from Russia and Italy run this tennis betting racket through their channels.

Being an individual sport, the ramifications of fixing games isn't taken lightly by players who want to earn a quick buck. Country pride is not at stake (as opposed to other sports where betting, match fixing and bribery become national disasters. Football, Cricket to name a few!) hence it is pretty easy to get these guys to throw games and earn millions in betting money.

Where will this go? How will #ITF respond?
Hope it doesn't go the Football way or Cricket. Its pretty sad day in sport.



Saturday 16 January 2016

Australian Open 2016: Will Novak Achieve GRAND SLAM?

Novak Djokovic vying to complete the GRAND SLAM (all four majors in a row) and dont see anyone stopping him considering his form and class! There is clear daylight between him and the others at the moment. Note that, he had won French, Wimbledon and US Open (bt Federer at the Championships and Flushing meadows) and is looking ominous to go the distance here at the Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park. 
Roger Federer will probably on tour for the last time in his glittering career, trying to add to his 17 Grand Slam titles. Can he add one more? Rafa Nadal is on his way back but loads of injuries and back problems have hampered him for well over an year now. He looks a shadow of his golden prime from 2-3 years ago. Andy Murray looks out of sorts. So, the men's draw seems to petering out into a Djoker vs Fed/Nadal/Murray final.
Serena Williams seems to be hot favorite to win this SLAM in women's draw. While the Russians are always competitive, Serena looks a class apart and will look to go past Steffi Graf's 22 Grand slams.  
In women's doubles, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis will look to extend their unbelievable run of successes from 2015. Unbeaten since Wimbledon 2015, they are the golden pair to watch out and grab their third straight GRAND SLAM crown. 
In men's doubles, the Bryan Brothers will look to win this slam easily unless there is some big upset or likes of Leander Paes, Daniel Nestor, Andy Ram pull out something sensational.
All in all, looks like an interesting couple of weeks of action at the first grand slam of the year!

Friday 15 January 2016

Australia Lead 2-0 After Two Facile 300+ Runchases, Rohit Tons in Vain

2nd #ODI at #GABBA, #Brisbane
15th Jan 2016

#Australia cruise to another facile win against spineless #India in the second ODI at #GABBA, Brisbane, Australia today.

First, the Indian batsmen faltered late in their batting innings when 330 looked pretty easy, to end up on 308 in their 50 overs. Some good death bowling by Faulkner and Hastings too.

In reply, none of the Australian batsmen were troubled by this lacklustre bowling attack. Finch, Shaun Marsh, Bailey scored fifties while Smith chipped in with 46 and Maxwell 34. 

Easy win yet again for Australia, (lead 2-0 in 5 match series) and that should be worrying Dhoni really. His bowlers arent able to defend 300+ scores and not even able to make a match of out it!

Rohit should be the most disappointed man. Both his hundreds have gone in vain. In hindsight, his run-out could have been the turning point in this game. What do you think? (with him around 330 was a big possibility).

What happens next?
We move to #MCG on 17th Jan for the 3rd ODI, and supposedly this is India's chance to come back (do they have a choice?) with pitch that might suit their spinners?

Perhaps bat second? Not sure. I can guarantee .. if India was chasing in these first two games they would have floundered under the relentless Aussie attack. Its not about the quality of bowling (Australia are considerably weaker without their heavyweights), its about the mental fortitude which India is lacking big time.

Lets see what happens. For now, they sit down and lick their wounds.

India - 308 for 8, 50 overs
Australia - 309 for 3, 49 overs

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Monday 11 January 2016

India v Australia 2016 Cricket Rivalry Renews

#Ind v #Aus #ODI #Series #2016

The fierce (in the literal sense) rivalry between India and Australia #Cricket teams is all set to renew starting 12th Jan 2016 with a 5 ODI and 3 T20 series. India tour Australia and the series kicks off with the first #ODI at the #WACA #Perth.

Over the last few years, series between these two teams have been hotly contested mostly due to on-field verbal spats, ugly sledging and controversies. It all started with that infamous #MoneyGate scandal in #Sydney in 2008 when Harbhajan and Symonds got into an altercation that threw the sport into a great abyss (suspensions, threats from BCCI, fines, etc).

Australia brought fierce gamesmanship in the game under Steve Waugh and play their game very aggressively. The young Indian brigade has tried to match them word for word over the past few years. Although performances show Australia have an upper hand in terms of results, the Indian team has laid to rest its soft target image of the 90s and 80s.

So, how does it look this time around?

India is being led by the old veteran #MSDhoni (probably his last hurrah will be the #T20 #WorldCup to be played in Mar 2016 in India). With fading form and age, he has one last chance to show he is still the wily old fox who can inspire his team to win in Australia again (remember .. it was under his leadership that India beat Australia 2-0 in the Tri series of 2008). 

His deputy #ViratKohli is hot on his heels if he fails to perform and deliver results. Virat has taken the new India team by the storm with his win-at-all-costs and aggressive attitude. Youngsters want to follow him and his attitude seems to be rubbing on his young team.

So, how with Captain Cool handle this young brigade? remains to be seen.

Australia on the other hand are rebuilding a team again under the young #SteveSmith. A lot of their bowling strength is depleted since retirement of #MitchellJohnson last year and #MitchellStarc out with a hamstring problem. How are their young bowlers going to cope with international matches will determine Australia's outcome in the series.

There are dangerous players on both sides who can turn games on their own. Warner and Maxwell for Australia alongside Smith and Marsh' while Jadeja and Raina can turn it on for India apart from Dhoni, Kohli and Rahane. India's #RaviAshwin will be the huge difference between these two team's bowling departments. 

All in all, it looks like a humdinger of a contest between these two sides over the next two weeks. May the best "cricket" team win (not the worst behaving one)!

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