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Golfer Rohana takes charge in 3rd round of TATA Open

Sri Lankan Anura Rohana followed up his stunning second-round 10-under 61 with a top-class five-under-66 in round three of the 16th TATA Open 2017 to storm into a three-shot lead on an extremely windy day at the Golmuri Golf Course here on Saturday.

Kolkata's Raju Ali Mollah was on track to revive his 2017 season as his three-under 68 took him to second place at 14-under-199 -- three strokes behind Rohana at the Rs. 1 crore event.

Rohana s (69-61-66) occupying tied second and one off the lead at the start of the day scored early birdies on the second and fourth to contend for the lead. But a couple of missed opportunities from close range cost him bogeys on the fifth and sixth.

The 44-year-old Anura a four-time winner on the PGTI then began his recovery with a birdie on the ninth. He followed that up with four more on the back-nine to achieve his target for the day a five-under.

Rohana who won on the PGTI earlier this year said, "I came back well after the two bogeys on the front-nine to end the day at 17-under which was my goal at the start of the round. I m happy that I have a three-shot cushion going into the final round considering that today was a tough day for scoring due to the wind.

"The birdie on the 17th was my best today. The 20-feet conversion on the 17th gave me a lot of confidence and will help me begin the last round in a positive frame of mind.

"The plan for round four is that I ll look for a score of four to five under to set up a good chance of winning. However I ll try to play steady on the front-nine and then assess the situation at the turn " added Anura who is currently in 12th place on the PGTI Order of Merit.

Kolkata s Raju Ali Mollah (66-65-68) made a move from overnight fourth to second place as a result of his solid 68. Raju s brilliant third round saw him make a tap-in for eagle on the second followed by three birdies and two bogeys.

The 40-year-old Raju a former winner on the PGTI has had a quiet season with just one top-10 out of 14 starts to be placed 67th on the Order of Merit. Mollah s performance at Jamshedpur has somewhat rescued his season as he is now likely to retain his tour card by finishing inside the top-60.

Noida golfer Vikrant Chopra s bogey-free 64 the best score of the day helped him close the penultimate round in tied third place at 13-under 200 total along with Om Prakash Chouhan (65) of Mhow and Delhi s Shamim Khan (67).

Chandigarh s Abhijit Singh Chadha the second round leader dropped to tied 10th place at 10-under-203 after a round of 74 on Saturday.

 

Pic: IANS

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Australian Open: Former champion Victoria Azarenka awarded wildcard

Former world number one and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has been given an Australian Open wildcard.

The 28-year-old pulled out of the US Open and Belarus' Davis Cup final earlier this year because of a custody dispute over her young son. "Vika's current situation is obviously very difficult for her. We have reached out to offer any support we can," said tournament director Craig Tiley.

Azarenka is ranked 201 in the world and has not played since Wimbledon.

The champion in 2012 and 2013 at Melbourne Park, Azarenka has claimed that a judge in California has not allowed her to travel outside of California with 11-month old Leo while a legal case is ongoing.

"I'm so excited about coming back to Melbourne for the Australian Open, it's my favourite tournament," Azarenka said.

"I've won there twice and always feel so comfortable on the court and the city is great." Azarenka has already received a wildcard to the WTA event in Auckland where she will begin her 2018 season.

The Australian Open begins on 15 January.

Source : BBC
Pic Source : NY Times

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Rubber match: Hoping to do something special in familiar conditions, says Thisara Perera

Smarting from Rohit Sharma's onslaught, Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera today said they were well prepared for the ODI series decider against India and would look to do "something special" in conditions similar to those back home. 

The islanders ' three-match ODI series against hosts India is tied 1-1.

"Definitely, Vizag is similar to Sri Lanka when it comes to weather and stuff. Mohali and Dharamsala were completely different. It was a total different story. We are well prepared. Here I hope we will be able to do something special as this is something similar to what we find at home," he told reporters on the eve of the match.

Perera said the team had a couple of training sessions and prepared well and they were taking it like just another game.

"We had a good couple of training sessions. We are well prepared for the game ahead," he added.

About India being under pressure ahead of the final game, he said it is the best team in the world and could be under some sort of pressure.

"From our side we take it as just another game. Not thinking too much as to whether the series is at stake or whatever. We want to play just another game. India are the best team in the world and I am sure they will be under some sort of pressure," the Lanka skipper added.

Perera said the team management had not finalised the playing XI as yet and said they would take a call after looking at the wicket tomorrow.

"We will take a look at the wicket and stick to a 12-man squad and decide tomorrow," he said.

He played down the defeat in Mohali and the onslaught from India captain Rohit Sharma, backing his bowlers to bounce back.

"Our bowling didn't click and that was disappointing. But these things happen in cricket. We want to put that game aside and bounce back. We have some plans for Rohit and for Shikhar Dhawan and now it is up to our bowlers to execute those plans. We will see what happens tomorrow," Perera said.

"Mentally we are all prepared. That is why I said that these things happen in cricket. We will not repeat these mistakes. First match we won, then they bounced back and we want to put our mistakes to rest and bounce back again," the big-hitting all-rounder said.

As for the pitch, he said, it looked a bit dry and expected it to be on the slower side.

"Took a look at the pitch, it looks to me a bit dry. Past matches there has been only one high scoring game. Today and yesterday there’s been good sunshine and I am sure there will be turn and the wicket will be slow," the Lanka captain said.

He said the plan was to take early wickets and capitalise on the batting line-up that was without Virat Kohli. It worked in Dharamsala but didn't in Mohali and expected the bowlers to deliver the goods in tomorrow's game.

"If you see we took two early wickets in Dharamsala and that enabled us to put more pressure on the Indian side. Their middle and lower order all of a sudden was under pressure. Our plan in to take early wickets in the first 20 overs and that will help us to put pressure on the opposition," Perera said.

"We had a good chat yesterday. These things happen. Those two guys (Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep) bowled really well in the first game , but failed to execute those plans in the second game. We have spoken about it and I am pretty certain they will delivery in tomorrow's game," he added.

Source: PTI

Pic: Hindustan Times

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If we play like we did in Dharamsala, we'll win series: Perera

Mohali, Dec 12 (PTI) Sri Lanka produced a near flawless performance in Dharamsala and captain Thisara Perera is expecting an encore from his team in the second ODI to win a maiden series in India.

"It is a good opportunity to win the series. Not many teams have won series in India. We want to do something special, like we did in Dharamsala," Perera said on the eve of the second match of the three-ODI series.

Adverse weather conditions in Dharamsala meant Sri Lanka had to spend an extra night in the hills and only arrived here in today morning. They arrived at the PCA Stadium late afternoon and practiced amid cold and overcast conditions.

Asked if there is an added pressure on the Sri Lankan team, Perera replied in the negative.

"It is not pressure. It is another game for us. Everyone knows if we win tomorrow we will win the series. We will give our 200 per cent," the all-rounder said before hinting that they would go with the same XI that beat India by seven wickets in the series opener.

The visitors are a confident lot, having ended their 12- match losing run in Dharamsala but they expect India to come back harder, just like they did against New Zealand last month after losing the opening game of the three-match series.

"Yes they can but we are focused on our job. It was good to win after 12 losses and we know if we can repeat that performance, we will win tomorrow," said Perera.

The Sri Lankan captain has the experience of playing at this ground, having represented Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

"It looks like a good batting track," he said referring to the surface, which was covered for major part of the day due to overnight rain.

Talking about the squad, Perera said only Dhananjaya de Silva has fitness issues.

"Only he is not fit out of the 15," said the skipper.

Asked about India not playing Ajinkya Rahane in Dharamsala on a pacer-friendly track, he said: "I am not an Indian selector, so I can't say why he did not play. Obviously he is a good batsman. I can't say anything more than that."

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Nigerian women's bobsled team make Winter Olympic history

Thirty years after the Jamaican bobsled team captured hearts around the world, three women from Nigeria stand on the brink of making history of their own in the same event.

Driver Seun Adigun and brakewomen Akuoma Omeoga, Ngozi Onwumere have qualified for Pyeongchang 2018, ensuring an African nation will be represented in the sport at the Winter Olympics for the first time ever.

Despite numerous success stories in the summer Games -- notably gold in the men's football at Atlanta 1996 --, no Nigerian has ever competed in a Winter Olympic event before.

Now, after completing all five qualifying races, the Nigerian women's bobsled team are on their way to South Korea in February.

"Ecstatic to say the least!" posted the Bobsled & Skeleton Sports Federation of Nigeria (BSFN). "To see a mere dream come to reality is a true blessing."

"Their hard work was inspiring and I hope Nigerians can appreciate what it took for them to achieve this," said BSFN president Solomon Ogba.

"They are all very successful people in their own right -- in sports and out of it, and somehow they are still motivated and still push for more success.

"I have watched them train and work hard to represent Nigeria at the Winter Olympics in a very technical and high-risk sport and they have achieved that."

Away from the ice, all three have been professional track and field athletes in their time.

Adigun, who once dreamed of becoming the first woman in the NBA, enjoyed particular success in the 100m hurdles, winning the national championships on multiple occasions and representing Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

 Now they go where no Nigerians have gone before.

"We are from a continent that would never imagine sliding down the ice at 80 or 90 miles per hour," Adigun told the BBC in March. "I find the idea of getting people to take to that inspiring in itself."

Compatriot Simi Adeagbo, a four-time NCAA All American and triple jump school record holder, is aiming to compete in the skeleton.

Source: CNN

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Raelene Castle: Rugby Australia appoints first woman chief

Australia's rugby union governing body has chosen Raelene Castle as its new chief executive, the first time a woman has been given the job.

Rugby Australia said Castle was "extremely impressive" with an "outstanding track record".

The appointment of the experienced sports administrator makes her the first female leader across all major national unions in world rugby.

She reportedly beat more than 200 candidates for the job.

At a press conference Castle told reporters that "it's interesting the media have an enormous fascination" with the fact that she is the sport's first female boss.

But she added: "The reality is sport has gender equity in it. There's people from both really delivering, particularly at grassroots level... so I don't think it's an enormous step to have a female chief executive, I'm excited about the opportunity."

Castle, an Australian-born New Zealander, had previously headed New Zealand's national netball body, as well as a team in Australia's National Rugby League.

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Serena Williams 'Very Likely' to Make Comeback at Australian Open: Organisers

Serena Williams will be ready to make her tennis comeback at the Australian Open with her return to Melbourne for the season's opening Grand Slam "very likely", organisers said Wednesday.

Williams, 36, won this year's Australian Open while pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl in September. She has not played a competition since, raising questions over whether the 23-time Grand Slam winner would attempt to defend her title next month.

But tournament director Craig Tiley is optimistic she will return for a crack at her seventh Melbourne Park crown after marrying Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month.

"She's got her visa, she's entered, she's practising and she's probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage," Melbourne's Herald Sun quoted him as saying.

"There's no question that she'll be ready in our view and she wants to break a record that is Margaret Court's. It would be a pretty significant accomplishment for her to be able to do that."

Australian Court has 24 major titles, making her the most successful player in Grand Slam history.

Tiley described the Australian Open, which will be held from January 15-28, as a "family-friendly event".

"We've had this before. Roger Federer travels with his four kids and we are a family-friendly event," he said, referring to Williams and her baby.

 

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White and Arum shoot down potential Pacquiao-McGregor boxing match

Rumors of a potential boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor were squashed by both Dana White and Bob Arum over the weekend. This comes on the heels of reports from international news agency AFP where Manny Pacquiao appeared to confirm that preliminary talks with McGregor have begun.

“If we can negotiate it, I have no problem. It is OK with both of us,” Pacquiao said. He also mentioned that it was his team (sans Bob Arum) that initially reached out to McGregor.

McGregor has been a target for many boxers after his 10th round TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather back in August. Despite McGregor having no previous professional boxing experience, the fight drew huge PPV numbers and was a financial success for both Mayweather and McGregor. Although McGregor lost, he remains a huge crossover star with massive earning potential against just about any boxer. Pacquiao is among the latest to take aim at the UFC lightweight champion but any ideas for a fight in 2018 have seemingly gone nowhere.

White addressed the rumors during the “UFC Fight Night: Fresno” post-fight presser and the idea that McGregor could compete in a boxing ring again before stepping back into the Octagon.

“That would be weird because he’s under contract with us,” White said. “If that’s true, I will be suing Manny Pacquiao and whoever’s representing him, so I’m assuming that’s not true. Yes, [McGregor’s next fight will be in the UFC].”

Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum also addressed the potential fight.

“Is it true that Pacquiao reached out to McGregor? Yes, but it’s old news,” Arum said shortly after the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux fight in New York. “I would do it for Manny but for me, if I promoted that fight, I would tell everybody up front, ‘Guess what, it’s not a [expletive] fight. If you want a spectacle, you can watch it.’”

Not exactly encouraging words from either side. Also worth noting is the vitriol between White and Arum. The two have had unkind words about one another in the media over the years and the Top Rank Promoter took another shot at the UFC president over the weekend.

“[Dana White] is a piece of crap,” Arum said when asked about White’s interest in being a boxing promoter. “It’s an acknowledgment how strong boxing is that he has a UFC that’s cratering and he needs boxing to save himself.”

Although at odds, White did manage to give Arum credit for his tactics.

“At the end of the day, we’ll see who stands where when the smoke clears and the dust settles. I’ll give it to him though, for a [expletive] 95-year-old dude, this guy’s still pretty feisty. I’ll give him that. I’m impressed.”

By Andreas Hale

12 December 2017

Photo Credit: Getty

 

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Roger Federer wins 2017 BBC Overseas Sports Personality award for record fourth time

Tennis star Roger Federer has won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year for a record fourth time after a public vote.

The 36-year-old Swiss topped the poll ahead of five other shortlisted nominees.
Federer became the first man to win Wimbledon eight times and extended his record to 19 Grand Slam titles in 2017.

Boxer Muhammad Ali and athlete Usain Bolt are the only other people to have won the BBC award three times.

He was shortlisted by an expert panel this year alongside Tom Brady (American football), Katie Ledecky (swimming), Tatyana McFadden (Para-athletics), Sally Pearson (athletics) and Michael van Gerwen (darts).

At 35, victory over Croatia's Marin Cilic made Federer the oldest man in the Open era to claim the Wimbledon singles title.

Earlier in the year, he returned from six months off to recover from a knee injury and won the Australian Open with a five-set victory in the Melbourne final over old rival Rafael Nadal.

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Lucian takes Sri Lankan Bodybuilding to new heights

Sri Lankan bodybuilder Lucian Pushparaj, fondly known as ‘Asia’s Black Lion’, was placed fourth on a highly competitive world bodybuilding event held in Texas, USA. Pushparaj represented Sri Lanka at the recently concluded ‘Mr. & Ms. Atlas’ event which was organised by the Global Bodybuilding Organisation.

This is a significant moment for Sri Lanka since this is the first time a local bodybuilder has been placed highly at a world event. Competing with 34 participants, Lucian Pushparaj was able to secure fourth place bringing Sri Lankan bodybuilding to levels hitherto unseen, analysts in Colombo stated.

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Sharma’s record double ton helps India level series 1-1

Mohali, India (AP) Rohit Sharma hit his third double hundred in ODI cricket Wednesday as India beat Sri Lanka by 141 runs and leveled the three-match series at 1-1.

Riding Sharma’s 208 not out, India scored 392-4 and later restricted Sri Lanka to 251-8. Angelo Mathews’ knock of 111 not out went in vain.

Chasing an improbable 393, Sri Lanka made a poor start and lost openers Danushka Gunathilaka (16) and Upul Tharanga (7) early.

The visitors were reduced to 62-3 when Washington Sundar (1-65) bowled Upul Tharanga (7) in the 16th over.

Mathews found support in Niroshan Dickwella (22) and put on 53 runs with him for the fourth wicket. Later, he added 44 runs with Asela Gunaratne (34) for the fifth wicket.

Yuzvendra Chahal (3-60) accounted for both Dickwella and Gunaratne, extinguishing any hopes of an unlikely chase.

Mathews reached his second ODI hundred off 122 balls, but didn’t get much support from the lower order to even have a go at the target.

That was after Sharma hit 13 fours and 12 sixes off 153 balls. His 208 runs was the highest individual ODI score in Mohali, beating Virat Kohli’s 154 not out against New Zealand in 2016.

Sharma’s two earlier double hundreds were 209 against Australia in Bengaluru in 2013 and 264 against Sri Lanka in Kolkata in 2014.

Put into bat, Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (68) put on 115 runs for the first wicket. Dhawan fell to Sachith Pathirana (1-63) in the 22nd over after scoring his 23rd ODI half-century off 47 balls.

Thereafter, Sharma and Shreyas Iyer (88) put on 213 runs. It was the highest second wicket stand at the ground in Mohali, improving on 173 runs by Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir against Pakistan in 2007.

Sharma reached his half-century off 65 balls. Iyer then scored his maiden ODI half-century off 50 balls. Together, they pushed India past 300 in the 44th over.

The stand-in skipper then scored his 16th ODI century off 115 balls. He is now fourth in the list of all-time Indian batsmen in terms of hundreds, after Tendulkar (49), Kohli (32) and Sourav Ganguly (22).

Iyer fell in the 46th over, caught in the deep off Thisara Perera (3-80). The latter also accounted for MS Dhoni (7), trapping him lbw two overs later.

Sharma, at the other end, unleashed a plethora of sixes as he scored the next hundred runs off only 36 balls. He got to the milestone off 151 balls.

Eighty-one runs came in the last five overs. That was the highest ODI total at the ground in Mohali after South Africa’s 351-5 in 2011. India’s previous highest total was 321-9 against Pakistan in 2007.

Pic: Hindustan Times

 

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Sri Lanka decimate India to end 12-game losing streak

Sri Lanka bounced back in style with the change of format as they bundled India out for a paltry 112 in 38.2 overs in the opening game of the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series at Dharamshala on Sunday. Pace bowler Suranga Lakmal, who bowled his allotted 10 overs on the trot, was the pick of the bowlers returning with figures of 4-13.

Sri Lanka wasted no time in chasing the target with opening bastman Upul Tharanga leading the way with 49 runs. Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella chipped in with 25 and 26 runs respectively to end India's misery.

The second One Day match will take place in Mohali on Wednesday (13).

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