Welcome to Spodcast.

Some relief for Indian cricket fans on Tuesday. India defeated Bangladesh by 95 runs in their second warm-up match as MS Dhoni and KL Rahul scored impressive centuries.

Batting first, India put on a more self-assured performance. Shikhar Dhawan fell early, but Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played cautiously against the new ball on a typical English pitch. Sharma made only 19 runs from 42 balls while Kohli scored 47 runs from 46 balls. Vijay Shankar, of whom much is expected in the World Cup, failed to get going as he was dismissed after scoring just two runs from 7 balls.

With India at 102/4 in the 22nd over, the old warhorse Dhoni walked out to join KL Rahul and put on a master class on middle-overs batting partnerships. Rahul was the more aggressive of the two, scoring boundaries at will, as he sealed the questions over the much debated no 4 slot for India. Rahul and Dhoni had contrasting approaches as they went about adding 164 runs together. Rahul scored 108 runs from 99 balls, including 4 sixes. Dhoni used the platform created by Rahul to launch a brutal assault in the final overs. He eventually hit 7 sixes and 8 boundaries, making 113 from 78 balls as India’s score went past 350. Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja played short cameos as India finished with 359/7.

In reply, Bangladesh were all out for 264 in 49.3 overs. Liton Das, who made 73, and Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored 90 runs, were the only batsmen to offer some resistance. Kuldeep Yadav took 3/47 in his 10 overs while Yuzvendra Chahal took 3/55, gaining confidence from an improved performance even as pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled only 14 overs between them. Bumrah took 2/25 from his 5 overs.

The World Cup starts tomorrow as hosts England take on South Africa in London.

News from the French Open now. Women’s world No 1 Naomi Osaka was just two points from a sensational Roland Garros exit on Tuesday before fighting back to secure a place in the second round.

Defending champion Simona Halep also had a difficult match and needed three sets to survive a first round scare.

Osaka, the top seed, is hoping to add the French Open to her US and Australian Open titles. She prevailed over Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 after coming very close to becoming only the second top seed to lose in the first round in Paris in the modern era after Angelique Kerber in 2017. At one stage, Schmiedlova was just two points away from a famous victory. She twice served for victory in the 10th and 12th games of the second set. She said, “It hurts that I lost so many chances…She’s the number one, it was not easy in my head.”

Osaka said, “I think this is the most nervous I have ever been my entire life during a match…First time playing a Grand Slam as No. 1. I have won the last two, so I kind of want to win this one really bad…. I have never played on the Chatrier court before. This was my first time. And, yeah, I kind of feel like I’m having the thought of wanting to prove myself again…”

Third seed Simona Halep overcame a second-set blip against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. Halep, who won her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris last year after three previous final defeats, will face Poland’s Magda Linette in the next round. She said, “The level of the match was great and her level in the second set was really high. So I tried to make her move more and that was better for me.”

Meanwhile, India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian partner Marius Copil knocked out sixth-seeded Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus with a straight-set win in the first round of the men’s doubles on Tuesday. The unseeded Bopanna and Copil sent the South African-Kiwi pair packing with a 6-3 7-6 (1) win which came in just one hour and 18 minutes. Divij Sharan and Leander Paes are the other Indians featuring in the men’s doubles with their respective partners.

It was another embarrassing doping episode for Indian wrestling on Tuesday as Under-23 Asian Championship silver medallist Reena flunked a dope test, resulting in a provisional suspension.

Wrestling Federation of India president Brij Bhushan Sharan confirmed the suspension, saying, “Reena had failed the dope test for consuming a banned substance. We were intimated by the World Wrestling Federation a few days back. We asked her and she said she took an injection to treat pain on the advice of a relative who happens to be a coach.”

Reena had a won a silver in the 53kg category at the championship held in Mongolia in March. She had also won a bronze in the junior Asian championship last year in July, apart from winning a silver in the Asian cadet championship in 2015.

An upset Sharan said, “It’s not good news. We again have to cough up Rs 16 lakh to pay the penalty to the UWW. Now we can afford but it was not possible a few years back. We have already paid Rs 32 lakh in the last 12 months and this is now the third case.” He claimed he had requested both NADA and the Sports Ministry to send representatives to collect samples during the trails. He explained, “If they do and 2-3 offenders are caught, it will instil fear in the minds of others. It will work as a deterrent. But it has been not been done.”

Sharan said the WFI has instructed coaches attached with the Indian teams to report to the federation any suspicions of wrongdoing. He said, “The personal coaches, who do not have expertise and knowledge about banned substances have a huge role in it. The wrestlers also have to behave responsibly…we…issued a circular recently that coaches will also face consequences if wrestlers fail dope tests.”

An operation in Spain against several footballers, ex-players including former Spain international Raul Bravo and club executives accused of fixing matches in the first and second divisions was underway in Spain on Tuesday, according to AFP.

Police said they were conducting raids in several unnamed areas and planned to detain 11 people – “retired and active footballers in the first division, active players in the second division and executives of a club.”

According to the report, a source close to the probe claimed that matches were allegedly fixed during this season and the 2017-2018 campaign. Among them were several games played by Real Valladolid, a club majority-owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo since September.

The players named include Raul Bravo, Borja Fernandez who played for first division Real Valladolid, and Carlos Aranda, a retired player who appeared for a string of Spanish clubs. Samuel Saiz, a Leeds player loaned to Getafe this season, is also allegedly involved as is Inigo Lopez Montana, who played for Extremadura and Deportivo La Coruna in the second division this season. The president of SD Huesca, another football club that climbed into first division this season before being relegated again, is also under investigation.

Police claimed that the suspects are accused of match-fixing, belonging to a criminal gang and money laundering. They added that their months-long investigation had “confirmed that the suspects reached agreements with various players to ‘fix’ at least three matches in the first, second and third division…The match-fixing related to the third division was unsuccessful, forcing the players involved to compensate the loss by doing another in the future.”

Match-fixing has been a recurring problem in Spanish football. In February 2018, at least 24 people were arrested nationwide in an operation into alleged match-fixing in Spain’s lower leagues. That also spread to other sports like tennis. In January, Spanish police dismantled a gang that allegedly rigged professional tennis matches, detaining 15 people and probing dozens of others including a player who competed in last year’s US Open.

Updated Date: May 29, 2019 13:23:44 IST