Cristiano Ronaldo crosses landmark UCL goal to propel Real Madrid against PSG

Title defenders Real Madrid made a huge statement on Wednesday night after a comeback win against Paris-Saint Germain in the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16. Madrid’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo netted a brace that included his landmark 100th Champions League goal for a single club.

The hosts, fresh from a 5-2 battering of Real Sociedad, unleashed their Champions League mode early in the game as they dominated possession and didn’t shy away from taking the shots. However, their attacking play caught their defence napping as Adrien Rabiot slotted home the all important away goal from close range. Kylian Mbappe’s cross wasn’t handled well as slick Neymar backheel in box meant Rabiot had a free shot from close range.

Cristiano converted from 12 yards to level the score just on the stroke of half-time. The penalty was Cristiano’s 100th Champions League goal in the Madrid shirt. That equaliser also made the Portuguese the first man to score in seven consecutive Champions League matches. He had scored in all the six Group Stage matches.

As for the visitors, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani missed glorious opportunities to put them in front, while Karim Benzema’s worst run of form continued. Both strikers, Cavani and Benzema were taken off early in the second half though. Although he didn’t score, Neymar was tormenting the Madrid defence with his blistering runs in the final third.

Leaving Gareth Bale on the bench and starting Isco was a big call taken by Zidane, but the introduction of Marco Asensio was a masterstroke. His entrance proved to be decisive and pave the way for a Real triumph. The 20-year-old made an instant impact on the wing, bagging two assists within just seven minutes of his introduction. Asensio assisted Cristiano Ronaldo for his second, with a low driving cross in the box and then set up Marcelo for Real’s third and seal the game.

Zidane was pleased with his team’s performance but was wary of the second leg in two weeks’ time. “This club has 12 Champions Leagues and there is a reason for that,” Zidane said. “We can be very happy with what we did against a very good team tonight.”

While Unai Emery lamented the referee’s decisions against PSG. “It was a repeat,” Emery said, when the 6-1 defeat at Barcelona last season was brought up. He was not talking about the result or the collapse but refereeing which he said “damaged” PSG, his focus drawn to the penalty Madrid were given.

Shane Warne’s second innings with Rajasthan Royals

Shane Warne is making a return to the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the 2018 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The former Australian captain who had led the team to victory in the inaugural season of the league is to set to take up the role of a mentor this time.

The RRs are returning to IPL after a period of two years during which they were banned from the game on allegations of betting and spot-fixing. In an attempt to recreate the old magic, the management has roped in the legendary spinner who had captained the team from 2008-11. During his stint with the RRs he had played 52 games and picked 56 wickets in total. Joining him will be another Royals old hand, Zubin Bharucha, a former Mumbai batsman, as Head of Cricket.

A statement released by the RRs said, “In his role as mentor, Warne will have a multitude of tasks to fulfil, both on and off the field. His main role will be to work closely with the senior leaders in the team, particularly the captain, to ensure all areas of strategy and tactics are covered.”

Having bagged top notch players like Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat, the most expensive Indian player in this year’s auction, the team is expected to make a noteworthy comeback in this season.

 

SOURCES: DNA, The Quint

ICC appoints Indra Nooyi as first independent female director

The introduction of the first female director was approved by the International Cricket Council in June 2017. Accordingly, on Thursday, February 9, 2018, Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, was appointed as the organisation’s first independent female director. Nooyi is supposed to join the Board by June 2018.

Nooyi is a global business icon, consistently ranked among the world’s powerful women by the Fortune magazine. As the head of PepsiCo, she is responsible for the global food and beverage portfolio, including brands, which generates more than $ 4 billion each in retail sales each year. Nooyi is also the chief behind an initiative called Performance with Purpose. It is PepsiCo’s impressive business strategy of integrating sustainability with financial performance.

ICC chairman, Shashank Manohar said, “We are delighted to welcome Indra to the ICC. To have some of Indra’s calibre is fantastic news for the global game”, as reported by the Times of India.

She has been appointed for a two-year term but can be reappointed for further terms, with a maximum of six years.

When asked about her views on being the first female director, Nooyi said, “I am thrilled to join the ICC as the first person to be appointed to this role. And I look forward to working with my colleagues on the board, ICC’s incredible partners, and cricketers around the world to grow our sport responsibly and give our fans a new reason to follow every ball and shot.”

Sources: The Hindu, The Times of India

Winter Olympics begin with two Koreas unified under one flag

Pyeongchang (S. Korea), February 09: The opening ceremony of the 23rd Winter Olympics saw the athletes from two Koreas marching into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under the Korean unification flag. The two delegations walked out in matching uniforms under one flag, offering a hope of a breakthrough in the tense geo-political drama that has stirred global fears of a nuclear conflict.

According to The Guardian, the flag was jointly carried by South Korean bobsledder Won Yun-jong and North Korean ice hockey player Hwang Chung-gum. During the parade of nations, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

North Korea’s decision to participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang came in January when the two countries held high-level official talks for the first time in two years. It was considered a symbolic breakthrough amid rising global nuclear tensions.

Along with Kim Yo-jong, US Vice President Mike Pence was present during the opening ceremony, seated just ahead of the North Korean representative. Only earlier this week, United States had announced plans to impose tough sanctions against Pyongyang (capital of North Korea) for staging a military parade featuring an Inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) only days before the opening of Games.

North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympic Games comes after a gap of eight years. The hermit kingdom had skipped the Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014. This year, they have sent a small delegation of 10 players, along with a unified team with S. Korea for women’s ice hockey.

SOURCE: New York Times, The Guardian

 

Real Madrid renew Ronaldo contract with staggering €9 million/year raise

The long-standing issue of Real Madrid and star player Cristiano Ronaldo has finally been settled. Being promised a new bumper deal after his match winning brace in the UEFA Champions League Final last season, Ronaldo’s deal was stalled amidst transfer speculations that were given higher priority. Reports surfaced that Ronaldo had felt cheated and also demanded a move back to Premier League with former club Manchester United.

But all of that ended when Cristiano confirmed his stay in Madrid last month. And now was offered a new deal that’ll see him earn a staggering €9 million/year raise in salary. According to Spanish paper ABC, he will earn €30 million a year, an increase of almost €9 million on his current deal. That will see him earn the same as PSG Neymar but less than Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

However, it has sparked some controversy as well. Despite the massive increase in wages, Real Madrid have not given him a contract extension. Cristiano’s deal still expires in 2021 and is only awarded a pay rise.

No matter the ton of contributions that Ronaldo has provided to Real Madrid, the move can be questioned as the soon to be 33-year-old looks out of his prime. It’s a big question on how can he impact the defending La Liga champions, considering his poor form in front of goal this campaign. That being said, Champions League is another story in itself. The Portuguese became the first ever player to score on every single match-day of the Champions League group stage this season, with his 9 goals in 6 games. Cristiano will be the driving force for Real Madrid if the defending champions want to see of Paris-Saint Germain in the round of 16 this month.

 

IPL Auction 2018 – What teams have in their kitties?

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Sunrisers Hyderabad has retained their captain David Warner. The team has been selected very carefully according to all possible pitches. With Sakib Al Hasan, Manish Pandey, and Hooda the team has a strong middle order. The team has spinners like Nabi and Rashid, who could possibly be put together in the playing XI in case of a turning track. They also have three fast bowlers that is Bhuvaneshwar, Kaul, and Thampi. The team has quite a few good backups such as Pathan and Williamson.

Kolkata Knight Riders

The team did not retain their captain Gautam Gambhir. And, are still to announce the new captain. The team looks decent but they hardly have a backup in case one of their star players are left injured. The batting order of the team looks nice with Narine and Lynn the probable openers like the last season. The real point of worry here will be if the middle order Uthappa, Karthik, and Russell are not able to perform. The bowling line up looks decent.

Delhi Daredevils

The team has retained Shreyas Iyer, Chris Morris, and Rishab Pant. DD last year had failed to reach the knockout stages and this time have seemed to have banked on the youth. The team seems to have ticked in all departments while selecting players. Gautam Gambhir, who had been leading the KKR for quite a few years now, has returned to his home team. He will lead the team and hopes to make DD a winning side, he said in his recent tweet.

Chennai Super Kings

The Chennai team after returning after two years retained MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja. They went on to exercise the right to match for Dwayne Bravo. They lost Ravichandran Ashwin but got in Harbajan singh who will bring a lot the table. More importantly Harbajan brings in the experience into the team. He has been a part of the squads whenever they have been crowned champions.

Royal Challengers Bangalore 

This time the RCB seems to have done their homework. They did not have a seamers last time. This time, they have got Chris Woakes and Tim Southee. With Virat Kohli, Brandon McCullum, AB de Villiers helming batting line up they retain their destructive batting order. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Colin de Grandhomme being the smart picks for a middle order. The side has never won a title in the history of IPL, let’s see what awaits them this season.

Kings XI Punjab

The team has since the first season has been underperforming. This time the team seems to be a good one with some big names like Yuvraj, Gayle, KL Rahul, and Ravichandran Ashwin. The team boasts of a great batting line up which has the ability to thrash the bowling of the opposition. The tough choice will be to
pick the playing XI and balance out the team. The biggest drawback with this team is that they do not have a wicket-keeper.

Mumbai Indians

The biggest strength of Mumbai Indians is the number of all-rounders they have. Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, and JP Duminy. They have relied on Ishan Kisan, former under-19 captain. Overall the team looks strong.

 

Rajasthan Royals

Ben Stokes and Jaydev Unadkat won the highest bids, among international and national players respectively. The middle order seems very strong with Stokes, Short, Binny, and Smith. The Biggest disadvantage for the Royals remains that they are depending a little too much on International players. The only Indian capped players that the team has on their side are Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Jaydev Unadkat. With a restriction on the number of international player in the playing XI, RR will have a hard time deciding their picks.

Image Source- News 18, CricBuzz.com

Roger Federer wins record 20th Grand Slam with Australian Open win

The final Federer serve was challenged by Marin Cilic as the latter felt it bounced out of bounds. Every eye in the Rod Laver arena followed the hawk-eye on the screen excitedly. The screen showed the ball leave Federer’s racket, sail over the net, and bounce on the left side-line before crashing into the advertising board. The centre court at Melbourne Park erupted. Roger Federer had just won his sixth Australian Open championship and 20th Grand Slam title. He raised his arms, acknowledging the cheering crowd, and hugged Cilic at the net. A thrilling five-set final came to an end.

The final began at 7:30 in the evening with the roof shut owing to the warm weather. Federer was at his aggressive best in the first set. A flurry of strong forehands and few well-placed volleys unsettled Cilic. In a short span of 26 minutes, Federer won the first set, 6-2.

Cilic gained momentum and found his rhythm in the second set. He got his big forehand going. Both players held their service games and the set headed to a tie-break. Cilic brought his best on court in the tie-break. A few strong forehands and a smash saw him clinch the second set, 7-6.

Federer hadn’t dropped a set until now in the tournament. The match was set for an enthralling middle period.

Federer hardly broke sweat and finished the third set, 6-3. The match had Federer written all over it.

However, fortunes turned in the fourth set. Cilic played some sensational tennis. Federer’s first serve percent fell drastically and Cilic capitalised on the same. Cilic bagged the fourth set, 6-4.

The match headed to an exciting finish. Federer’s five set record wasn’t as great at Cilic’s, and the Croat certainly fancied his chances.

However, Federer played some classic tennis in the decider. He capitalised on Cilic’s many errors and double-faults, and clinched the set, 6-1. The final set had a stamp of vintage Federer.

Roger Federer became the fourth player, after Margaret Court, Steffi Graf, and Serena Williams, to win 20 Grand Slam titles. His closest male challenger, Rafael Nadal’s Grand Slam titles stand at 16.

After yesterday’s win, a flurry of records came by Federer’s name. He is tied with Novak Djokovic and Roy Emerson for the most Australian Open titles. He holds the record of winning 10% of all open-era men’s singles Grand Slam titles since Tennis turned pro in 1968. He has won 96 ATP titles and stands a realistic chance of making them 100 by year-end. His next tournament is in Dubai in February. If he wins in Dubai, he will secure the top-spot in the world rankings and become the oldest player to hold the distinction.

Federer couldn’t hold back his tears as he accepted the Normal Brookes Challenge Cup. “I’ve won three Slams now in 12 months. I can’t believe it myself,” he said.

He is set for an exhilarating 2018. Every Federer fan hopes that 2018, like 2017, is the year of Roger Federer.