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Shubhankar Sharma:

Shubhankar Sharma: "I couldn't finish it off today"

06/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25983499

Talented Indian prospect Shubhankar Sharma held his head high after finishing tied ninth in his debut at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship on Sunday.

After surprising the star-studded field when he led by two shots after day two and three at the Club de Golf Chapultepec, the 21-year-old, who was the youngest competitor in the field, signed off with a 3-over 74, finishing six shots behind winner Phil Mickelson, who triumphed over reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas in a playoff.


It was not to be a dream finish for the highly impressive Indian, who stayed in title contention on the back nine of an enthralling Sunday afternoon before his hopes unraveled with four bogeys over his closing six holes.

While disappointed, Sharma, who has won twice on the European Tour and Asian Tour since last December, only looked at the positives as he proved he belonged amongst the world’s elite in Mexico.

“A little bit disappointed, I was leading and I think I couldn't finish it off today. But that's what the game is about. And what I learned, especially playing with Phil, I'll cherish it forever,” said Sharma.

Veteran star Mickelson, who picked up his third World Golf Championships victory and 43rd PGA TOUR title, had mistaken Sharma as a journalist when the young Indian approached him at the practice putting green on Saturday. After playing together in the final round in front of a large gallery, the five-time major champion will certainly remember the Indian now and took time to pay credit to Sharma.

“I saw how well he struck the golf ball. He hit a beautiful tee shot on 1, you can tell he can really play. I saw some of the putts, some of the highlights with the putter. I know he's a very talented player and I believe he's leading the Order of Merit on the European Tour, so I know what a great player Mr. Sharma is. I probably shouldn't say that, he's 26 years younger than me!,” said Mickelson, who closed with a 66 and pipped Thomas with a par on the first extra hole at the par three 17th hole.

Sharma’s solid showing in Mexico pushed him further up on the latest Official World Golf Ranking as he jumped from 75th to 66th position. He was ranked 521st just last November. His rise will enhance his chances of qualifying for the next World Golf Championships event later this month, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, which is exclusive to the top-64 golfers.

Sharma rued his luck on the tricky putting greens at Chapultepec. “I just felt like nothing went in. Maybe my speed was wrong, something was off. Even on nine, I hit it in the middle of the hole it lipped out again. I never felt like I could get the speed right or maybe the line, it just wasn't going in, it wasn't my day,” he said.

He believes he will learn greatly from the experience of playing alongside Mickelson. “If you would have asked me four months ago that I would be playing with Phil at a WGC on the last day, I would have just laughed,” said Sharma.

“Just playing with him has been fantastic. He's obviously a great man, showed me a few great shots. He's not afraid to go out there and get it out there and hit it at the pin, and he took some crazy clubs off the tee but that's what Phil is all about. I'll never forget it. Especially on 16 where he made birdie, it was the loudest roar I ever heard in life.  It was fantastic,” said Sharma.
Australia wrap up First Test by 118 runs

Australia wrap up First Test by 118 runs

06/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25982911

Australia needed just 22 balls and 20 minutes of playing time to wrap up the first Sunfoil Test match against the Standard Bank Proteas at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Monday morning. The winning margin was a conclusive 118 runs.

Quinton de Kock (83 off 149 balls, 11 fours) and Morne Morkel added 5 runs to the total before Josh Hazlewood dismissed De Kock lbw to back up Mitchell Starc (4/75 and a match return of 9/109) with figures of 3/61.


Starc was named Sunfoil Man of the Match. Apart from the Proteas disappointing batting performance in the first innings the essential difference between the two sides was the lower-order batting. Australia were able to make 100 runs for their last three wickets in the first innings while Starc blew away the South African lower order in both innings.

Aiden Markram’s second innings century made him the fourth South African to score a century in his debut Test against Australia. He follows Eddie Barlow, Jacques Rudolph and current captain Faf du Plessis in this achievement.

Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, says he takes pride in the character and fight shown by his players in the 118-run loss to Australia in the first Sunfoil Test match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Monday. The Proteas fought back with both bat and ball in the second innings to take the thrilling match into the fifth day,  an effort the captain has praised after a below-par performance in the first innings.

Du Plessis described the loss as ‘disappointing’, but believes the squad will take key learnings from the experience into the second Test match starting at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

“It was very disappointing,” he said after the match. “ We would have liked to start the series on a positive note. There are quite a bit of learning opportunities for us to take from this Test going forward. Our bowlers were good in this Test, both teams were 160 for five in all four innings so the learning we can take is to put more pressure on the tail. If you look at them (Australia), once they got through our top seven batsmen it was quite easy for them to get through the tail.

“We will need to take a lot more responsibility with the bat,” he explained. “ Once you get an opportunity to scores runs you must go big. I’m really proud of the character, when most teams are in a position of strength in a Test match other teams could rock up on day four and be bullied all day. It was great to see the fight from our bowlers on Saturday to bowl them out for 200. We didn’t have a great start with the bat but saw great character from the young guys which started their series off well.”

The performances from the inexperienced and younger batsman was the standout highlight from the defeat, particularly the maturity and mental aptitude shown by opener, Aiden Markram. Du Plessis believes  Markram’s career-best performance will fuel him with confidence and belief for the remainder of the series.

“That was a brilliant knock,” he said of the 143 from Markram. “ It says a lot about his character. He went through a tough phase during the one-dayers against India and you judge a guy by how he stands up during tough times. The run out between him and AB (De Villiers) would have been weighing on his mind, and Australia were trying to put pressure on him about it. To get through that says a lot about a young guy, the belief that he has in himself. We know the talent that he has as a batsman and it is great to see him score a terrific Test hundred.”

The second Test match starts at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, on Friday.
Scotland stuns Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

Scotland stuns Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

05/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25974584

A 208-run third wicket partnership between Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington helped defending champions Scotland surprise Afghanistan by seven wickets in a Group B fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 at the Bulawayo Athletic Club on Sunday.

MacLeod scored an unbeaten 157, his sixth century in 51 ODIs, and Berrington followed up his three for 42 with a watchful 67 as Scotland ruined Rashid Khan’s debut as Afghanistan captain at 19 years and 165 days when they achieved the 256-run target with 16 balls and seven wickets to spare.

Elsewhere, veterans Sikandar Raza and Brendan Taylor gave Nepal a cricket lesson when they scored entertaining centuries in Zimbabwe’s 116 runs victory in another Group B fixture in front of almost 2,500 spectators at the Harare Sports Club.

In Group A fixtures in Harare, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carved out a comfortable 56 runs victory over Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the DLS Method at the Harare Sports Club and Ireland maintained their dominance over the Netherlands when they won by 93 runs by the DLS Method at the Old Hararians.

In the feature match of the day, Scotland produced a clinical performance to upset Afghanistan.

Chasing 256 for victory, Scotland were in some bother at 21 for two, but a 208-run third wicket partnership in nearly 37 overs between player of the match MacLeod and Berrington sealed the match in Scotland’s favour. This was only the second victory for Scotland over Afghanistan in 12 ODIs.

The architects of Scotland’s victory were MacLeod and Berrington. MacLeod’s 157 not out came from 146 balls and included 23 fours and a six, while Berrington hit four fours in a 95-ball 67.

Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer lauded MacLeod and Berrington while also crediting other members for the effort.

“The standout (performance) for us today is MacLeod. It was an unbelievable effort from him. Earlier, the bowlers did their job, the spinners were effective in their short spells. We took wickets continuously and that was the key to our day. Richie ended with three wickets and some 70 runs, was brilliant in the field, his standards never drop.

“It’s a great start to the tournament but we will take every day as it comes. We need to pick ourselves again and get ready and raring to go against Hong Kong,” he said.

The result spoiled Rashid Khan’s day, who became the world’s first teenager at 19 years and 165 days to captain a men's international side and the youngest player ever, male or female, to captain in a full international match. He beat the record of Arran Thompson, who had captained England against Scotland in a women’s ODI in August 2001 at Reading aged 19 years and 260 days.

Earlier in the day, Mohammad Nabi fell victim to the nervous 90s when he was run-out for 92 as Afghanistan recovered from 71 for four to 255 all out in 49.4 overs. The all-rounder struck nine fours and three sixes in an 82-ball 92, while Najibullah Zadran, who was the other batsman when Nabi was run-out, finished with 67 from 69 balls with six fours and two sixes.

The two batsmen added 149 runs for the fourth wicket, but once the partnership broke at the score of 220 in the 42nd over, the remaining batsmen failed to offer any resistance as Afghanistan lost their last six wickets for 35 runs in 8.2 overs.

Brad Wheal (three for 36), Richie Berrington (three for 42) and Safyaan Sharif (two for 46) bowled excellently and ensured Afghanistan didn’t bat them out of the game.

Scotland beat Afghanistan by seven wickets, Bulawayo Athletic Club

Afghanistan 255, 49.4 overs (Mohammad Nabi 92, Najibullah Zadran 67, Mohammad Shahzad 30; Brad Wheal 3-36, Richie Berrington 3-42, Safyaan Sharif 2-46)

Scotland 256-3, 47.2 overs (Calum MacLeod 157 not out, Richie Berrington 67; Mujeeb Rahman 2-47)

Player of the match – Calum MacLeod (Sco)
Lethal Starc puts Australia on the brink after Markram's defiant century

Lethal Starc puts Australia on the brink after Markram's defiant century

05/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25974081

Mitchell Starc swept away the South African tail with lethal reverse swing for the second time in the match before being denied a potential hat trick and a 10-wicket haul by bad light in an eventful fourth evening of the opening Sunfoil Test match between the Standard Bank Proteas and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Sunday.

Starc took three wickets in five balls to finish his 16th over to leave the Proteas 9 wickets down and still well over a hundred runs away from their victory target of 417 but the umpires then ruled that the light was too bad for the quicks to continue with the result that Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith had to bowl out the rest of the day.

The Proteas finished the day on 293/9 with Quinton de Kock unbeaten on 81 (138 balls, 11 fours) in a welcome return to form and Morne Morkel having stoically blocked his way through 27 deliveries.

The teams will now come back for a fifth day with Australia needing one wicket for victory and the Proteas 124 runs.

The Proteas will be left to rue their poor batting performance in the first innings that saw them trail by 189 runs. They nevertheless restored their pride with a fighting second innings performance that seemed unlikely when they crashed to 49/4 inside the first hour with Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis joining Dean Elgar back in the pavilion.

Most of the rest of the day was dominated by South Africa’s future batting generation as 23-year-old Aiden Markram established himself as a special player on the global stage with an innings of 143 (218 balls, 19 fours) that equalled his career best score against Bangladesh earlier in the season. It was his third Test century and, like Jacques Kallis, he scored his first century against Australia in the seventh Test match of his career.

In the process he broke a worrying Proteas batting drought that saw them fail to score a century in the previous major series against India and only one against England last year.

His support came from two 25-year-olds, Theunis de Bruyn and De Kock, who shared respective partnerships of 87 for the fifth wicket and 147 for the sixth.

With another young batsman, Temba Bavuma, sitting out this match through injury the Proteas selectors know that the future looks secure when the current golden generation retires.

Probably the most remarkable statistic of the fourth day was Nathan Lyon’s failure to take a wicket although it didn’t matter as Starc and his seam bowling comrades did the job.

By comparison, Keshav Maharaj took the last remaining Australian second innings wicket to finish with career best figures of 9/225 in 63.2 overs.

At least the Proteas have shown that they are now ready to compete with Australia and the fact that this is a four Test series means that they will have plenty of opportunity to get back into the series.
Dinesh Karthik appointed new skipper of KKR

Dinesh Karthik appointed new skipper of KKR

05/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25972677

India’s wicket-keeper, batsman Dinesh Karthik has been appointed as Kolkata Knight Riders’ new Captain & Robin Uthappa as Vice Captain. The announcement was made in the KKR-Star Sports show called Knight Club. Present on the occasion were KKR’s MD & CEO, Mr Venky Mysore, and Dinesh Karthik himself.

Dinesh Karthik who has played 152 games since the inception of IPL said, “It is an honour to represent Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the most successful franchises in the VIVO IPL and I look forward to this new challenge. I am excited about the squad that has been assembled, which has a great combination of experience and youth. I will do my best to represent brand KKR and the millions of KKR fans.”


Announcing this appointment, Mr Mysore said, “It is indeed a start of a new phase for KKR, and we are delighted that someone as experienced as Dinesh Karthik will lead the side.” Mr. Mysore also announced the appointment of Robin Uthappa as Vice Captain. He said “Robin has been an integral part of KKR since 2014 and played a crucial role in KKR winning the championship. We are fortunate to have both Dinesh & Robin in leadership roles for KKR.”

In the lead-up to the announcement, KKR in conjunction with Star Sports run a fan-driven campaign on its social media as well as on-ground called “KKR KA CAPTAIN KAUN”.

Kolkata Knight Riders will begin their VIVO IPL 2018 journey at Eden Gardens on Sunday, April 08, 2018.
Morkel nears 300 club as Australia take lead past 400

Morkel nears 300 club as Australia take lead past 400

04/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25971542

Morne Morkel took three of the six wickets he needs in his farewell series to join the 300 club as the Standard Bank Proteas made a creditable fightback on the third day of the first Sunfoil Test match against Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Saturday.

On another day shortened by bad light Morkel took 3/42 in 13.4 overs to take his career total to 297 while Keshav Maharaj took 3/93 in 28 overs to give him eight dismissals in the match. AB de Villliers had another busy day in the slips and has now taken 5 catches in the match.


The pick of the bowlers was arguably Kagiso Rabada who was both economical and penetrative in taking 2/28 in 13 overs.

The ninth wicket fell to Dean Elgar who has remarkably dismissed Australian captain Steve Smith twice in his career as Australia reached the close on 213/9.

The visitors are nevertheless in an enormously strong position with an overall lead of 402 runs and, with two full days still to go, and, allowing for the uncertainties of bad light at this particular venue, they must still be the favourites to go one up in the series.

The Australians made a bright start to the day as David Warner and Cameron Bancroft put on 56 for the first wicket in only 13 overs but the Proteas still managed to take three wickets in each session, pulling Australia back by taking 3/63 in the second session and 3/38 in the shortened final session after the visitors had got away with 122/3 in the morning session.

Bancroft’s 53 (83 balls, 10 fours) was the only half-century of the day and it underlined the magnitude of the task facing the Proteas on days 4 and 5.
India's Shubhankar Sharma on the cusp of glory in Mexico

India's Shubhankar Sharma on the cusp of glory in Mexico

04/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25971464

Young Indian prospect Shubhankar Sharma will face the most important 18 holes of his golfing life yet on Sunday after he bravely maintained his overnight two-shot lead following the third round of the US$10 million World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.

The 21-year-old Sharma ground out a two-under 69 which included a clutch 13-foot par save on the 18th hole at the Club de Golf Chapultepec as he held off the likes of Phil Mickelson (65), Tyrrell Hatton (64), Sergio Garcia (69) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (69) on Saturday.


World No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson shot a 68 to share sixth place, three behind Sharma, who was literally taken the world by storm with a measured and composed performance this week.

With so much at stake where a victory over the game’s top stars will be worth US$1.7 million in prize money, an exemption onto the PGA TOUR through the 2020-21 season, 550 FedExCup points and starts in almost every major championship including THE PLAYERS Championship this season, the talented Indian is looking forward to the final round.

“Obviously a dream come true for me to be playing in this tournament and obviously leading, that's just fantastic.  Really happy with the way I played today, stuck in there. I made a few mistakes on the greens but the greens are tough this week so I think everyone's making a few mistakes. I wasn't too hard on myself.  Very, very happy that I could grind out a par on the last hole,” said Sharma, who is making his debut appearance in the World Golf Championships.

Sharma broke through with his maiden victory at the Joburg Open in December and followed up with another triumph at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia last month where he came from four shots back to win with a closing 62.

In his biggest test yet, the current No. 1 on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai and Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings will be grouped with five-time major winner Mickelson and England’s Hatton as he bids to become the youngest player to win a World Golf Championships tournament and only the second Asian after Hideki Matsuyama of Japan to do so.

“It will be a lot of fun,” said Sharma. “Obviously Phil is a legend in the game of golf and I've seen him on TV for as many years as I can remember. You know, I met him for the first time today and it's great that I'm paired with him tomorrow. It will be a lot of fun.”

Sharma has gone about his business in Mexico so quietly that when he sheepishly approached Mickelson, a 42-time PGA TOUR winner, at the practice putting green to introduce himself prior to his third round, the World Golf Hall of Famer initially waved him away thinking he was a journalist.

“To be honest, me and my caddie Baaz (Gurbaaz Mann), we both went up to him. He thought we were media and he said, "Not right now, after the round." Then he just realized and said, "So sorry, I thought you were media," and he said hi, I said hi. Then he made a few putts and he came back to me and said, "Have a good day." It was nice,” recounted Sharma, who turned professional at 16 as his father felt it was the best way to get better at the game.

“I was nervous today as well, but I think that is probably working for me and I think being a little bit anxious and a little bit nervous on the first tee is not too bad sometimes, just keeps you at the job and you try and be as concentrated as possible. That's what I tried to do.”

When he was younger, Sharma, his father Col Mohan Sharma, who is here this week, and some friends would stay up early into the mornings in India to watch the live telecasts of PGA TOUR tournaments and the majors. “Dad and me are very passionate about it. I remember all the majors pretty much by heart and pretty much all the shots, and I remember Phil winning in 2013 (The Open Championship) and the shot on the 13th was just fabulous,” said Sharma.

“The best I think was when Rory (McIlroy) won the U.S. Open. It went on until 6:00 in the morning back home. I remember I was so inspired that I didn't sleep, I just went straight to the range and hit balls for two hours. It's great for kids like me back then. It's very inspiring to see all these great players and that's the beauty of the game.”

Asked if he ever envisioned himself holding aloft a major or World Golf Championships trophy, he replied: “Every time, every time watching these majors. It really inspires you, especially watching it at night, it's a very different atmosphere. Everything is quiet and you see a guy make a putt and you see that roar on it TV, you can't contain yourself.”

If he keeps making putts and performing the way he has been at the WGC-Mexico Championship, Sharma will be the one inspiring the next generation of Indian and Asian golfers.
Starc, Lyon run through Proteas as Australia take charge of 1st Test

Starc, Lyon run through Proteas as Australia take charge of 1st Test

03/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25954161

Australia took a firm grip on the first Sunfoil Test match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Friday as the Standard Bank Proteas struggled first to avoid the follow on target and then get anywhere close to the visitors’ first innings total on the second day.

AB de Villiers stood man alone as none of the other specialist batsmen stayed long enough to share a substantial partnership with him. The major damage was done first by the spin of Nathan Lyon and then by the ability of Mitchell Starc to reverse swing the old ball effectively.

De Villiers was denied the opportunity to score his 6th century against Australia when he ran out of partners (71 off 127 balls, 11 fours) as the Proteas were bowled out for 162 in only 51.4 overs. It left the Proteas with a massive first innings deficit of 189 with Australia to start their second innings at the start of the third day’s play tomorrow morning.

Aiden Markram’s 32 was the second-best batting contribution for the Proteas.

Starc finished off the innings abruptly with figures of 5/34 in only 10.4 overs while Lyon picked up 3/50. Starc has had a good all-round match to date as his eighth wicket partnership of 49 with Mitchell Marsh was a key contribution as well.

With Marsh falling just four runs short of his third Test match century (96 off 173 balls, 13 fours and a six) Australia were able to post exactly 100 runs for their last three partnerships and that made an enormous difference to the total that the Proteas had to face. A total of 351 was probably a little bit better than par, bearing in mind the abrasive nature of the pitch and the spin that has been available throughout.

Keshav Maharaj claimed his fourth five-wicket haul (5/123 in 33.4 overs) and it came as no surprise that Steve Smith introduced Lyon into the Australian attack as early as the start of the eighth over. He achieved immediate success, getting rid of Dean Elgar and Hashim Amla in the space of his first five deliveries and the Proteas never really recovered.
Maharaj claims vital wickets on Kingsmead debut

Maharaj claims vital wickets on Kingsmead debut

02/03/2018, India, Multi Sports, The Sports Campus , Article # 25942687

Keshav Maharaj celebrated his home ground Test match debut with the key wickets of Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh on the opening day of the Sunfoil Test Series between the Standard Bank Proteas and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Thursday.

When bad light brought an early close with Australia on 225/5 after 76 overs after the visitors had won the toss on a good, although slow, batting surface, the match was evenly poised.


There could have been little doubt that the Proteas would have preferred to get a full day in fading light as they were only four overs away from the second new ball and only one wicket away from breaking through into the Australia lower-order.

Maharaj was key to the Proteas strategy after the Proteas decided to strengthen their batting with the inclusion of Theunis de Bruyn and field only four specialist bowlers. The strategy was sound as the surface was one that allowed Faf du Plessis to employ him early in the day and he sent down the most overs of any of the Proteas attack (2/69 in 24 overs).

His role and that of Vernon Philander, a typically economical and penetrative 2/36 in 17 overs, meant that the Australians were never able to get away to the free-scoring start they normally wish to employ.

There were two 56-run partnerships – the third wicket between David Warner (51 off 79 balls, 6 fours) and Smith (56 off 114 balls, 11 fours) and the fourth wicket between Smith and Shaun Marsh (40 off 96 balls, 6 fours).

For the rest the Proteas kept chipping away at regular intervals until Mitchell Marsh and Tim Paine added an unbroken 48 for the sixth wicket, leading to the close.