Michael Clarke flies young Nepalese spinner to Australia to train at his academy

The young leg-spinner from Nepal Sandeep Lamichhane is currently staying with a local family as he prepares to play for Michael Clarke’s club.

Sandeep Lamichhane,16, from Nepal impressed Michael Clarke recently during his coaching spell in Hong Kong. The former Australian captain was impressed with the leg-spinner’s outstanding potential and that promted him to allow Lamichhane to train at his academy at Sydney and play for his club.

Sandeep Lamichhane

“It is a really exciting opportunity to have such a talented Nepalese cricketer travel this distance to come and test his skills and improve his game at my academy. Sandeep is a fantastic young man who enjoys his cricket and is extremely passionate about the game,” said Clarke, who sponsored the boy to get him to Australia.

Lamichhane who has already represented Nepal under-19s is staying in Sydney with a local family as he prepares for the upcoming season where he is going to play for Pup’s club Western Sydney.

“Thank you very much @MClarke23 for your kind words and for inviting me to Australia. Looking forward to give my best,” Lamichhane tweeted on Tuesday.

Manchester City eyeing nothing less than a win in Manchester derby: David Silva

Table-topper Manchester City sit marginally above Manchester United on goal difference after both sides won their first three league games but the Citizen swill miss Sergio Aguero for the crucial clash on Saturday.

Nothing less than victory will do for Manchester City in Saturday’s feisty Premier League derby against Manchester United, playmaker David Silva has said.

David Silva

Silva, who scored both goals in Spain’s friendly win over Belgium last week and two more against Liechtenstein in their World Cup qualifier on Monday, has featured in all of City’s league games this season under manager Pep Guardiola.

Table-topper City sit marginally above United on goal difference after both sides won their first three league games.

“It’s going to be a very beautiful game. The two teams arrive to this game having taken good results and after making wholesale changes in every sense,” the 30-year-old told Spanish radio station Cope.

“We’ve started the season very well and it should be a great game. But we won’t be playing for a draw. We will go out to win the match.”

City have won three times and drew one in their last five top flight meetings with United at Old Trafford.

“It’s a ground where in the last few years things have gone okay for us. We know they are a very difficult rival – but we won’t settle for a draw,” Silva added.

IPL 2016: Delhi Daredevils vs Rising Pune Supergiants, Preview – Match 33 at Feroz Shah Kotla

New Delhi: A supremely confident Delhi Daredevils return to their den and have a struggling and injury-ravaged Rising Pune Supergiants in their firing line up next in the Indian Premier League here tomorrow.

 IPL 2016: Delhi Daredevils vs Rising Pune Supergiants, Preview - Match 33 at Feroz Shah Kotla

Injuries to key players such as Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen and Faf Du Plessis have completely disturbed the team composition and the debutants are now starring down the barrel with only two wins from eight games so far.

Left with six more matches, the task is only getting tougher with each passing day for the team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Now, RPS face a side that has gradually turned into a formidable outfit, thanks to a brilliant team effort under the watchful eyes of the iconic Rahul Dravid.

After years of struggles, Daredevils’ turnaround this season is a perfect example of how a side should be shepherded. They are comfortably placed at number two in the points table.

The players are sticking to the basics whether it is batting or bowling. The seniors are taking more responsibilities and the youngsters are being given enough opportunities to excel at a stage where performances are taken note of.

The biggest plus in the last two games for the Daredevils has been the performance of their skipper Zaheer Khan. When he opened the bowling, he has managed to get early breakthroughs and has been impressive in the death overs, too.

Zaheer has found his rhythm and it is difficult to score off him. Amit Mishra has also played a crucial role in Daredevils’ consistent show this season.

Adding to that, their batsmen are in top form. Quinton De Kock has been scoring runs consistently and the way young Rishabh Pant batted while opening against Lions last night, Daredevils have plenty of options at the top.

The return of JP Duminy has only bolstered the middle-order.

The horses for courses approach has done wonders for the side and it will be not be a surprise if fans again see changes in the playing XI tomorrow.

Carols Brathwaite had returned against Kolkata Knight Riders and made an impact straightaway. He scored 34 off 11 and then took three wickets to be the Man of the Match.

But the West Indian was not played in the game against Gujarat Lions last night. Since the nature of the Feroz Shah Kotla track has changed it is possible that Brathwaite comes back.

Shahbaz Nadeem was impressive last night when he removed two top-order Lions batsman ? the dangerous Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch ? and the hosts may keep him in the side.

Sanju Samson, though, needs to fire. Except for one match, he has not shown his true worth. He has got starts but has not capitalised on those. He is one player who has managed to keep his place untouched in the side and need to respond to the faith reposed in him by the management.

Pune Supergiants have struggled to defend. Even the score in the vicinity of 200 could not be saved. The bowlers have let the side down, but Dhoni hardly has options.

Ashok Dinda, Albie Morkel, R Ashwin, Thisara Perera have all looked pedestrian. If the side is to move up from its current sixth position, they will have to come up with some inspiring performances.

Teams From:

Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Sam Billings, Khaleel Ahmed, Carlos Brathwaite, Nathan-Coulter-Nile, Quinton De Kock, JP Duminy, Akhil Herwadkar, Imran Tahir, Shreyas Iyer, Mahipal Lomror, Chama Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Shahbaz NAdeem, karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant, Pratyush Singh, Sanju Samson, Pawan Suyal and Jayant Yadav.

Rising Pune Supergiants: MS Dhoni (capt), Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Mirugan Ashwin, R Ashwin, George Bailey, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Scott Boland, Deepak Chahar, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khwaja, Albie Morkel, Ishwar Pandey, Irfan Pathan, Thisara Perera, Ashok Dinda, Peter Hanscomb, Ishwar Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Saurabh Tiwary and Adam Zampa.

BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur proposes 10 years of jail term for fixers in private bill​

New Delhi: BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur, who is also a Lok Sabha MP, has introduced three private member bills including a significant ‘National Sports Ethics Commission’ bill which recommends “10 years of jail term” for any sportsperson indulging in match-fixing.

BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur proposes 10 years of jail term for fixers in private bill​

It is a significant step taken by Thakur considering that the BCCI has been mired by fixing scandal that rocked the 2013 IPL witnessing the arrest of three tainted cricketers including former India pacer S Sreesanth along with Ajit Chandila and Ankit Chavan.

“It is only fair to bring in accountability to be fair to sports lovers. As such there is no law which is there to curb match-fixing. It is absolutely mandatory to have a law that can combat the menace,” Thakur told PTI when asked as to what made him introduce the bill in Lok Sabha.

According to the bill that has been placed in the Lower House, it’s objective is “to establish a national sports ethics body to ensure ethical practices in sports as well as strive towards elimination of doping practices, match fixing and fair play, fraud of age, gender and sexual harassment of women in sports.”

The bill further states: “This comes as an aftermath of the recent corruption and match fixing charges that were thrown up in Indian Cricket and other sports by multiple players.

“The concerned players are currently charged under inappropriate sections of Dishonesty and Cheating under Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as Prevention of Corruption Act in the courts but the sportspersons often get easily free because these laws don’t apply for sports.”

The private member bill by Thakur, if passed, will not only impose a life ban but also 10 years of jail time as well as fine of five times the bribe amount in cases of match fixing.

Miami Open: Victoria Azarenka avenges Angelique Kerber loss to reach final

In-form Victoria Azarenka battled past an ailing but determined second seed Angelique Kerber to set up a Miami Open final showdown against Svetlana Kuznetsova with a 6-2 7-5 victory on Thursday.

With the victory, the 13th-seeded Belarusian gained revenge for a quarter-final loss to the second-seeded German at the Australian Open, her only defeat of the season, but had to fight tooth and nail to earn it in a 94-minute tussle.

Kerber, who had her upper left leg covered in heavy strapping, looked dead and buried on several occasions in the second set but was able to stay alive with a gutsy break when Azarenka served for the match at 5-4.

Parity was short-lived, however, as Kerber handed back the break in the next game and Azarenka did not waste another opportunity to seal the deal to move one win away from a third Miami title and second straight tournament triumph.

“I am very happy I stayed really strong in the end and actually started really well,” Azarenka, who beat Serena Williams to claim the Indian Wells title on March 20, said in a courtside interview.

“I started to dictate (early) and I think the beginning was really important,” she added of the victory over the Australian Open champion.

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“She’s such a fighter and an amazing player. I’m glad I kept pushing and kept trying to break her rhythm. Glad I stayed really strong.

“For me it was really painful to watch my match from the Australian Open and I’m really glad that I corrected my errors there and improved my serve. Although there were a lot of breaks, when I needed it, it came strong.”

As well as avenging the Melbourne defeat, Azarenka improved to 7-1 in head-to-head meetings against the German and took her 2016 record to an impressive 21-1.

Next up for the 26-year-old is Kuznetsova in the final, after the Russian held off a strong challenge from Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3 in searing afternoon heat.

The 15th-seed relied on a never-say-die attitude and a powerful baseline game as she improved her career record to 3-0 against the Swiss, ending the match with a crunching backhand crosscourt winner after nearly two hours on court.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” Kuznetsova, who won the Miami title in 2006, said courtside.

“I have not been feeling my best but I have been fighting every ball and just trying to run as much as I could.

“I was praying to finish it in two sets so I can have a little bit of time to rest,” smiled the Russian, referring to Saturday’s final.

Kuznetsova, who pulled off a stunning upset when she ousted world number one Williams in the fourth round, won a tight opening set after ending a brilliant baseline slugfest between the two with an overhead smash.

Though she failed to hold serve in the first game of the second set, the Russian broke her 19th-seeded opponent in the second and fourth games to lead 3-1, then fought back from 15-40 down on serve in the ninth to seal victory.

Amnesty report alleges labour abuse at Qatar World Cup venues

Migrant labourers faced abuse that in some cases amounted to forced labour while working on a stadium that will host soccer matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a new report released by Amnesty International alleged Thursday

Rights groups and news organizations have previously raised serious concerns about working conditions in Qatar, but the latest Amnesty report stands out because it links alleged mistreatment directly to work on a World Cup venue. The group’s findings will intensify pressure on Qatar to accelerate labour reforms as the tiny and immensely rich Gulf country races to transform itself with sweeping infrastructure projects ahead of the games.

FIFA Investigation World Cups

Amnesty compiled the 52-page report based on interviews from February to May last year with 132 construction workers at the Khalifa International Stadium, one of several arenas that will host World Cup matches. The London-based group also interviewed 99 migrants doing landscaping work in a surrounding sports complex that is not directly related to the games, and three other gardeners working elsewhere.

Foreigners account for roughly 90 per cent of the 2.5 million people living in Qatar, many of them low-paid migrant workers from South Asia. Most of the workers interviewed in the Amnesty report were from Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

All of those interviewed reported some kind of abuse, including squalid or crowded living quarters, salary payments being withheld for months, and measures including passport confiscation that make it difficult to leave the country. Migrant workers elsewhere in Qatar have reported similar problems previously.

Many in the Amnesty report said their sponsoring employer failed to obtain or renew their working permits, leaving the workers subject to fines and detention.

Each reported going into debt to pay recruitment fees — illegal under Qatari law — ranging from $500 to $4,300 to secure work. Most discovered on arrival that they would be paid less than promised by recruiters back home. Some of those interviewed reported earning basic salaries of well below $200 a month, plus allowances of around $50 a month for food.

MS Dhoni is an inspiring captain who is open to ideas, says Stephen Fleming

The coach of new IPL team Pune Supergiants Stephen Fleming on Friday made light of the speculations over retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from international cricket and hailed his “remarkable” fitness.

Asked about Dhoni’s future in the context of India’s loss on Thursday in the World Twenty20 semi-final, Fleming said what he saw in him was a “sprightly wicketkeeper batsman, a fresh captain with a remarkable fitness”.

In reply to a question, Fleming, interacting with reporters about Pune Supergiants for the forthcoming IPL season, did not visualise any possible “conflict of egos” in the team that also has Australian captain Steve Smith and South African skipper Fa du Plessis.

“Leadership can take many forms. MS Dhoni is an inspiring captain who is open to ideas,” he added.

Chennai Supper Kings' whistle launch

Fleming said the Pune team has a good blend of overseas players and young talent.

With Dhoni as captain, the team has players like Mitchell Marsh, Kevin Pietersen, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin and the two overseas skippers in Fa du Plessis and Steve Smith who has had a stint with the Pune team in earlier edition.

“We are very excited about the squad that we have compiled and cannot wait get underway. We will be training here in Pune for the next week before heading to Mumbai for the opening game. There is a lot of work to do being a new franchise and new team,” Fleming commented.

Shane Warne wants to coach Team India

Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne said he would love to work with the Indian cricket team. Warne said he would not hesitate to coach a side that has the backing of billion plus supporters.

Leg-spin legend Shane Warne on Friday expressed his desire to coach the Indian cricket team if he is approached for the role in the near future.

Former Indian cricketer Ravi Shastri is currently the team director. He is expected to leave his post after the conclusion of the World Twenty20 tournament.

The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to appoint a full term coach for the national side.

And Warne said that he had never said no in his life to anything when it comes to the game and is open to coach the side if such an opportunity arises.

“I would love to work with the Indian team. I think they are a very talented team, wonderful team to work for. There is a lot of pressure, a billion plus people supporting the Indian team, if you make a mistake you cop it. If the opportunity came about, I would think about it,” Warne said.

“I have never said no in my life to anything. I have always been open for anything, whether that is coaching India, coaching an Indian Premier League (IPL) team, coaching England, maybe not. I definitely want to stay involved in cricket. I love commentary and I hope people enjoy listening to me. I am not sure I am ready to coach right now, maybe down the track but I never say no to an opportunity.”

“If an opportunity presents itself or comes to my door I would always weigh it up and then give an honest answer about what I think. If you can’t give 100 percent to whatever it maybe then you are better off saying no. But that if opportunity came and you say you would love to do it then everything else stops and you can take up that opportunity that may be,” the 46-year-old added.

India suffered a shock seven-wicket loss to the West Indies in the World T20 semi-final clash at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday. Batting first, India posted a competitive total of 192/2 in 20 overs, thanks to Virat Kohli’s 89.

In reply, a brave Windies side, riding on Lendl Simmons’ unbeaten 83 and Johnson Charles’ 52, chased down the total posting 196/3 in 19.4 overs.

Warne heaped praise on India’s star batsman Kohli but said that lack of basics let the hosts down in the semis.

“Yesterday India didn’t get their basics right, they bowled a few no-balls, etc. etc. I was disappointed because I had backed India to win the tournament before a ball was bowled. I thought India vs England final would be good,” he said.

“When you got a star player like Kohli, I think you got a blank piece of paper and you say ‘who is your first pick T20 player’ and for me it is Kohli. I would select him at No.3, that is my first selection. Second would probably be Chris Gayle for the opening position.”

Warne further added, “Talking about Kohli, I don’t think India rely too much on him at all. He has done so well. He batted beautifully last night. 192 was a good score but the Indians didn’t bowl well enough. And a couple of no-balls cost them, the dew cost them, (Ravichandran) Ashwin bowled only two overs. (Ravindra) Jadeja’s tactics of bowling wide of off-stump and three points, he went for 48 runs in his four overs, I don’t think he got it quite right either.”

Hardik Pandya Reprimanded For Aggressive Celebration in Adelaide Twenty20

Hardik Pandya, who made his international debut against Australia in the Adelaide Twenty20, celebrated aggressively after picking Chris Lynn’s wicket. The International Cricket Council officially reprimanded the Indian all-rounder as this was his first offence.

Melbourne: Hardik Pandya, India all-rounder, has been reprimanded by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for celebrating aggressively after taking a wicket during the first Twenty20 International against Australia in Adelaide.

Following the match, which India won by 37 runs, Pandya admitted the offence and accepted the sanction proposed by Jeff Crowe of the Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees. As such, there was no need for a formal hearing.

The charge was levelled by on-field umpires Simon Fry and John Ward, third umpire Paul Wilson and fourth official Gerard Abood.

Pandya was found to have breached Article 2.1.7 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “Using language, actions or gestures which disparage or which could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batsman upon his/her dismissal during an International Match”.

For all first offences, Level 1 breaches carry a minimum penalty of an official reprimand and a maximum penalty of 50 per cent of a player’s match fee.

Heena Sidhu Secures Olympic Quota With Gold Medal at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers

New Delhi: India’s top pistol shooter Heena Sidhu secured an Olympic quota for the country after she led from start to finish and claimed the gold medal in women’s 10-m air pistol on day one of competition at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers for Shooting.

The current world record holder and former world number one, Heena shot 199.4 in the eight-women finals to finish ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Tien Chia Chen (198.1) and Gim Yun Mi (177.9) of Korea at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range.

Heena shot an impressive 10.3 in the second last shot of the finals to extend her lead to 1.5 points over her rival from Chinese Taipei. The Indian shot exactly 10 in her final attempt and it was enough to get her the top prize, despite a 10.2 from Tien Chia Chen.

Heena Sidhu

This was India’s ninth quota from shooting for the upcoming Olympic Games.

However, it was a bad day at the office for the host country in men’s 50-m rifle prone and women’s trap as none of the Indian participants could clear the qualification hurdle.

In men’s rifle prone event, young Swapnil Kusale finished 14th after aggregating 617.2 over a series of six shots. Sushil Ghale was 17th, while Surendra Singh Rathod was 24th in the pecking order.

In women’s trap, where only one quota for Rio Games was on offer, Shreyashi Singh lost out in the shoot-off.

stage 1 of men’s 25-m rapid fire pistol, London Olympics silver medallist Vijay Kumar was placed seventh with a score of 285 including seven Xs. The other two Indian participants in the event, Neeraj Kumar and Harpreet Singh, were placed 13th and 16th, respectively.

From India’s point of view, the day easily belonged to Heena, whose long wait to earn a quota for the quadrennial extravaganza ended finally in front of her home crowd.

Prior to this tournament, the 26-year-old Patiala-born girl clinched a gold medal each in the Asian Air Gun Championships and Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait last September and November, respectively.

Heena’s confidence was high as she entered the final as leader of the pack with a score of 387 in the qualification.

The other Indian participants in the women’s air pistol event, young Yashaswini Deshwal and Shweta Singh finished 11th and 12th, respectively.

“I was just concentrating on the process. I knew that I was doing well. I was confident that I would win a quota today,” Heena told reporters after the event.

Heena’s husband Ronak Pandit, who is also her coach, was as relieved as the shooter herself.

Three ISSF World Cups will be held before the Rio Games get going in August, and Heena’s preparation is going on the right track.

“There are three World Cups lined up but Heena will skip the first one. She is not a kid anymore who needs international exposure all the time,” said Ronak, who chalks out her schedule.

“After SAG (South Asian Games), she will compete in Rio World Cup which is very important,” he said.

Ronak said they will now focus on Heena’s “technical exercise” to fine tune her game.