World No. 3 Spaniard Rafael Nadal on Sunday won his 10th Italian Open title, after overcoming a second set comeback from No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final to triumph 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 50 minutes.
The victory gave second seeded Nadal the 36th ATP Masters 1000 crown, equalling top seeded Djokovic's all-time record, since the series was established in 1990.
In the 57th meeting of the ATP Tour's one of the most prolific rivalries, Djokovic was facing second seed Nadal, winner of 20 Grand Slam singles title winner, for the ninth time at the Foro Italico.
Nadal improved to 4-2 in Rome finals against Djokovic with the victory, and brought his ATP head-to-head record against the Serbian to 28-29 overall.
In the men's doubles final, second-seeded Croats Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic powered their way to their sixth Italian Open trophy, overcoming a tough challenge from fifth-seeded Rajeev Ram of the USA and Briton Joe Salisbury and winning the final 6-4, 7-6(4).
Djokovic had spent nearly five hours on court on Saturday, first winning his rain-delayed quarter-final against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas and then the semi-final epic against Italian Lorenzo Sonego, to reach the final.
Nadal, on the other hand, needed an hour-and-a-half-to take down Reilly Opelka of the USA.
Djokovic, who was bidding to record his first win on clay against the Spaniard since the 2016 Rome quarter-finals, showed little signs of fatigue in the opening set.
The Serbian raced to a 2-0 lead, staying aggressive and keeping the points short. But Nadal broke straight back, and his forehand speed steadily climbed as the set unfolded, earning 15 of his 21 winners.
Nadal claimed the decisive break late in the set, taking advantage of a shaky service game of the Serbian at 5-5 to claim the lead, sealing the set.
But a dip in Nadal's intensity gave Djokovic the opening he needed in the second set.
However, the Spaniard held firm and raised his level in the final set, reeling out forehand winners to take a 4-2 lead. He converted his second championship point after Djokovic sent a backhand long, sealing the victory.
( Courtesy IANS )
Australia Test captain Tim Paine said that his India counterpart Virat Kohli is someone he will always remember. The pair have had run-ins on the field, particularly during the India's 2018/19 tour in which they won the Test series 3-1.
"For Virat Kohli, I've said many times, he seems the type of player you would love to have on your team. He is competitive, he is the best batsman in the world. He is challenging to play against and he can get under your skin because he is so good and he is so competitive. But yeah, for me from where I came from, sharing a feud with him four years ago, He is certainly someone I will always remember," Paine said on the 'Gilly and Goss' podcast.
Paine recently received backlash from fans for saying that the India are good at "creating these sideshows", which "distracted" his team during the 2020/21 Test series. Australia ended up losing the series 2-1 despite India missing a number of their key players, including Kohli, due to a string of injuries. He later clarified that he did admit that the Indians outplayed Australia in the series.
"I did say that they simply outplayed us and that they deserved to win but they left that one out. The Indian fans have been slamming me on social media. They say that I'm making excuses again but it's all good fun," said Paine.
Courtesy - IANS
Former Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and England left-arm speedster Harry Gurney has decided to retire from cricket following a shoulder injury.
Gurney, 34, was part of KKR in 2019, and had picked up seven wickets in eight matches. His best figures of two for 25 came against Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Nottingham-born Gurney played 10 ODIs and two T20 Internationals for England in 2014.
Gurney announced his retirement plans on social media. "The time has arrived for me to hang up my boots. After trying to recover from the recent injury to my shoulder I am truly disappointed to have to end my playing career as a result of it," he wrote.
"From the first time I picked up a cricket ball at the age of ten, I was completely obsessed. Cricket has been my life for 24 years and has taken me on an incredible journey that I will cherish forever. Playing for England, IPL and winning eight trophies at home and abroad including the blast, big bash and CPL has exceeded my wildest dreams."
Reacting to Gurney's announcement, KKR tweeted: "We wish @harrygurney a successful retirement life, and would like to thank him for all the happy memories -- especially the one vs RR where a dramatic sandstorm turned into a magical #IPL debut in Jaipur 2019."
In an interview with KKR last year, Gurney had said: "Playing in Eden Gardens in front of 70,000 people was just the most incredible cricketing and life experience for me. What sets (the IPL) apart, I think, is the passion and love for the game in India. I feel really lucky to have experienced it once."
Gurney represented Nottinghamshire, Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash, Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League and Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) is reportedly considering expanding the T20 World Cup to 20 teams from its current number of 16.
While the 2021 tournament, which is currently scheduled to be held in India, will remain unchanged, the ICC is looking to add four more teams to the tournament from the 2024 edition, according to ESPNCricinfo.
Additionally, there is also speculation over the possibility of the ICC expanding the number of teams participating in the 50-over World Cup. The World Cup had been reduced to 10 teams from 14 in 2019 with the argument that broadcasters would prefer the lesser participation so as to reduce one-sided matches.
However, there is now talk of getting the number back to 14 teams.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled to be held in October-November but there is uncertainty over India hosting the tournament due to the deadly second wave of Covid-19 ravaging the country.
The pandemic had led to the indefinite postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) last week. The United Arab Emirates has been kept as a standby venue for the tournament.
Dwayne Bravo revealed the role he played in Mumbai Indians (MI) signing Kieron Pollard in 2010. Bravo played for MI between 2008 and 2010 and the team was searching for a replacement after the Trinidadian left for Chennai Super Kings.
"When Mumbai Indians needed a replacement for me, I gave them Kieron Pollard's name. When they tried contacting him, he was playing for a club, so I recommended Dwayne Smith and he became my replacement," Bravo told Cricbuzz.
"The following year, when it was the Champions League, I called Rahul (Sanghvi) and said, 'Pollard, he's here. Come and sign him now before the tournament starts.' Rahul and Robin Singh left Mumbai and came to Hyderabad, I'll never forget they came with a contract which at that time was 200,000 USD. I called Pollard, who came downstairs and met them both in the lobby. He saw the contract. Now for someone coming from Trinidad, as a 19-year-old, that was wow. He said, 'Dwayne are you serious?" said Bravo.
Pollard has turned out to be one of the most important signings in MI's history, playing an integral role in the team's five Indian Premier League (IPL) victories. He has scored 3,191 runs for MI at a strike rate of 150.87 and taken 63 wickets as well.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav has admitted that he misses the guidance he used to get from MS Dhoni when the latter kept wickets. Kuldeep has seen his international appearances nosedive since the end of 2019, which was also the year that Dhoni played his last match for India.
"Sometimes I miss that guidance because he (Mahi) has great experience. He used to guide us behind the wicket, kept screaming. We miss his experience. Rishabh is there now, the more he plays, the more input he will give in the future. I always felt every bowler needs a partner who can respond from the other end," Yadav told The Indian Express.
Yadav has played seven ODIs in 2020 and 2021, as compared to 23 in 2019 alone. Dhoni played his last game for India in their semi-final defeat to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup on July 10 before eventually retiring from international cricket on August 15, 2020.
"When Mahibhai was there, I and (Yuzvendra) Chahal were playing. Ever since Mahi bhai left, Chahal and I haven't played together. I played only a handful of games after Mahibhai left. I must have played ten-odd games. I had even taken a hat-trick. If you look at the performance as a whole, it will look pretty decent but if one breaks it up then my performance sometimes can look not up to the mark. One has to also look at the opposition we are playing against," said Yadav.
India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah can cross 400 Test wickets if he can maintain his fitness for a long period, said West Indies pace legend Curtly Ambrose.
"India's got a few good fast bowlers. I'm a big fan of Jasprit Bumrah. He's so different than any bowler I have seen. He's so effective and I'm looking forward to him doing really well," Ambrose said on The Curtly & Karishma Show on YouTube
"He is (going to take more than 400 Test wickets) as long as he can remain healthy, fit and play long enough. He can seam the ball, swing the ball and bowl great yorkers. He's got a lot in his arsenal. So as long as he can remain on the park for a long period of time, I'm sure he can get up there," Ambrose explained.
Ambrose said that Bumrah's short bowling action may put more strain on him.
"You know in terms of fast bowling, it's generally about rhythm. So, you need to build a good rhythm before you can deliver. Bumrah has got a very short run up. He walks most of the way and maybe one to two or three jogs before delivery. So, it simply means he may be putting a little more strain in his body but if he can remain strong enough, I think he'll be ok. It's just about him staying strong to accompany that short run up. If he can do that, he'll go the distance," Ambrose added.
New Zealand Test players Kane Williamson, Mitchell Santner and Kyle Jamieson, who were playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), have opted to spend extra days in Maldives instead of India after their entry in England was delayed by a week.
The three have flown to Maldives from where they will travel to England after about 10 days. They were supposed to fly to England from New Delhi on May 11 according to initial plans after the postponement of IPL.
"There have been changes to the arrangements for New Zealand's UK-bound Test contingent, with Kane Williamson, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, and physio Tommy Simsek, transferring to the Maldives (rather than staying in New Delhi) ahead of travelling to England," said a statement from New Zealand Cricket.
"The decision for this group to transfer to the Maldives was taken after advice that their entry into the UK, initially thought to be about May 11, was likely to be delayed a further week," the statement added.
Williamson, Santner and Jamieson are part of New Zealand's Test squad that will play two Test matches against England -- between June 2 and 14 as well as the World Test Championship final against India from June 18.
"Blackcaps (New Zealand team) trainer Chris Donaldson, who initially signalled his intention to return home on one of the NZ-bound charter flights before returning to England, has instead opted to remain with the UK-bound players and is also in the Maldives," the statement further said.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) batsman Tim Seifert has tested positive for Covid-19 and is not travelling with New Zealand's IPL players back home, a statement from the country's cricket board said on Saturday.
The opening batsman, currently in Ahmedabad, will be flown to Chennai where he will undergo treatment in the same hospital where Australian Michael Hussey, the Chennai Super Kings batting coach, is being treated before returning to New Zealand.
"Tim Seifert has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be travelling back to New Zealand on the charter flight with New Zealand's other Indian Premier League players, support staff and commentators," said a statement from New Zealand Cricket on Saturday.
"Seifert, who represented Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, failed both his pre-departure PCR tests and as a result will be taken into quarantine. Immediate advice is that he is experiencing moderate symptoms," the statement added.
Seifert becomes the third KKR player to test positive after spinner Varun Chakravarthy and pace bowler Sandeep Warrier.
Both Chakravarthy and Warrier were the first ones to test positive in the IPL earlier this week. Following more positive tests, in the camps of Chennai Super Kings (Michael Hussey and L Balaji), Delhi Capitals (Amit Mishra) and SunRisers Hyderabad (Wriddhiman Saha) a day later, the IPL was indefinitely postponed on Tuesday.
"Once Seifert has undergone treatment and the statutory period of isolation and has tested negative for Covid-19, he will be transferred back to New Zealand where he will undergo the mandatory 14-day period of managed isolation," added the NZC statement.
NZC chief executive David White said Seifert had returned seven negative tests in the 10 days leading up to his pre-departure protocols, and was confident he would be receiving the best of care from his franchise.
"Since receiving the news, we've organised support for Tim and have also -- via the players association, been in contact with his family to ensure they're kept fully informed and updated on developments," said White.
One of the two charter flights transporting New Zealand's IPL contingent back home has already departed India, and the other is scheduled to leave on Saturday after being delayed for logistical reasons.
Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins has said that the 2021 T20 World Cup should be held in India only if it is not going to be a drain on the country's resources in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
"It's probably too early to say. It's six months away. The priority should be for cricket authorities to work with the Indian government to see what's best for the Indian people," Cummins told Australian daily The Age.
Cummins recently left India after the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL), in which he was playing for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), was postponed after the raging second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, breached the tournament's bio-bubble.
"If it's going to be a drain on resources or it's not going to be safe, then I don't think it's right to play it over here. That's the first question which needs to be answered," he further said.
The T20 World Cup is set to take place in India in October and November this year. However, with the highly infectious strain of Covid-19 stretching the country's healthcare system to its brink, there have been speculation of the tournament being moved out of the country.
New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Uncertainty looms over India hosting the T20 World Cup this year after the Indian Premier League (IPL) was postponed on Tuesday following rising Covid-19 positive cases in four out of the eight competing teams, and all over India.
The IPL bio-bubble was supposed to be tight and impenetrable despite the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country. However, the emergence of positive cases in half of the IPL teams has put question marks over the Indian cricket board's ability to put up a safe bio-secure environment.
The World Cup is scheduled to be held in October-November in India.
Although the tournament is still five months away and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) feels there is still time, the forced suspension of the tournament is unlikely to go down well with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the other national cricket boards.
An ICC recce team that was supposed to visit India during the IPL cancelled/postponed its programme due to the pandemic.
A top BCCI official last week confirmed that the UAE has already been kept as a standby venue for the T20 Wold Cup.
"It would be the UAE. We're hoping again that it would be done by the BCCI. So, we'll take the tournament there, but it'll still be done by the BCCI," Dhiraj Malhotra, General Manager (Game Development), told BBC's Stumped podcast last week.
India is witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases with daily fresh cases in the range of 3.5 to 4 lakh. Apart from that, India is also reporting around 3,500 deaths a day.
If the situation doesn't improve going forward, other cricket boards too may be reluctant to send their teams. Even while the IPL was underway without any reported Covid-19 cases, some Australian players and commentator Michael Slater left the bio-bubble to return home.
If the T20 World Cup doesn't happen in India, it will be the first time India will be hosting an international tournament or a series outside the country.
The BCCI has hosted the IPL abroad twice previously -- in South Africa in 2009 and in the UAE in 2020. It also hosted part of the 2014 IPL edition in the UAE.
There had been talks to hold the IPL in the UAE this year also, but a section of the BCCI did not agree to it and instead decided to host it in India.
On Monday, two players of the Kolkata Knight Riders team – Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier – and the bowling coach of Chennai Super Kings, Laxmipathy Balaji tested positive while on Tuesday, a player each from SunRisers Hyderabad (Wriddhiman Saha) and Delhi Capitals (believed to be Amit Mishra) tested positive. Besides, two members of support staff of the CSK also tested positive.