SPORTS DAY: It’s a dead rubber and Faf is beaming

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SPORTS DAY: It’s a dead rubber and Faf is beaming

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sports editor


CRICKET
Faf has reason to be happy after Pakistan victory
Having recorded a seventh straight series win on home soil‚ captain Faf du Plessis had reason to beam after victory over Pakistan on Sunday. His team had just completed a nine-wicket win to take a 2-0 lead in the three-Test series. Having already won the first Test in Centurion‚ victory here means the final Test at the Wanderers starting on Friday is now a dead rubber. “I’m happy that we are dominating teams at the moment‚” said Du Plessis‚ who was especially pleased since his side had made a conscious decision not to drop Test matches at home. “Not too long ago we were No 7 in the world and losing a few series and not playing the way we liked. The first thing we said was that we need to win home series. We need to take care of them and play well and consistent.” They’ve been reasonably consistent overall since Ottis Gibson took over as coach. They’ve won 10 of the 14 series they’ve been involved in under the Barbadian.
SOCCER
Khune injury a blow for Chiefs, Bafana Bafana
Itumeleng Khune is out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury‚ ruling him out of Kaizer Chiefs’ bid to get back among the trophies over the next five months plus SA’s battle for African Nations Cup qualification. Khune suffered a shoulder injury in training‚ according to officials‚ but Chiefs have given no further details. Their website on Sunday offered injury updates on other players but totally ignored the plight of their captain and longest-serving player. But coach Ernst Middendorp provided some clarity at the end of Saturday’s game against champions Mamelodi Sundowns. “I can answer you quite quick. The season is finished for Itu Khune. That’s it. You will see him in the new season.” Khune sat with his shoulder in a sling in the stands at Soccer City on Saturday as Virgil Vries deputised for him and made a horror error which cost the home side the game.
CRICKET
SA skipper suspended for third Test
SA captain Faf du Plessis was suspended on Sunday for one Test because of his team’s slow over rate as they beat Pakistan in Cape Town. The ICC announced the punishment after SA won the second Test by nine wickets to take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Du Plessis and his players were also fined a percentage of their match fees. SA picked an all-pace attack for the match. Their four bowlers shared just under 122 overs as they twice bowled Pakistan out. Half an hour was added to play the first three days because of the slow over rate. After the three umpires charged the home team, match referee David Boon, the former Australia batsman, ruled SA were one over short of the minimum target and imposed the punishments. CYCLING
Cyclist, 90, fails doping test, loses crown
Carl Grove, a 90-year-old American cyclist, has been stripped of his age-group title and world record from the US Masters Track Championships after failing a doping test. The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued a public warning on Friday to Grove for a violation they said probably came from consuming meat contaminated with a banned substance. Grove had won the 90-94 age group individual pursuit crown in a world record 3mins 6.129secs last July 11 at Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. He was the lone competitor in his age group. He tested positive for epitrenbolone, a metabolite of the prohibited substance trenbolone, in a urine sample taken after his run. Grove had passed a doping test after competing the day before even though USADA later found a supplement he was using before the competition date had the presence of the banned substance clomiphene, although it was not listed in the ingredients.
TENNIS
Nishikori lifts first title in almost three years
Japan’s Kei Nishikori overcame Daniil Medvedev in the Brisbane International final on Sunday for his first ATP title in nearly three years and the 12th of his career. The 2018 finalist, Nishikori, who prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-2, won 70% of points on his first serve and converted five out of 15 break-point opportunities to snap a nine-match losing streak in finals. Nishikori beat Denis Kudla, Grigor Dimitrov and Jeremy Chardy on his way to the title. The world No 9 started slowly, trailing 3-0 in the opening set, but responded in typically determined fashion to win six of the next seven games for an early advantage.
FORMULA ONE
Legend Lauda back in hospital after lung transplant
Former Formula One champion Niki Lauda is in hospital in Vienna with flu, five months after a lung transplant, Austrian media sites reported on Sunday. Lauda, 69, an Austrian, was flown in early January from the Spanish island of Ibiza where he had been on holiday to a hospital in the Austrian capital, the publication Oesterreich reported. It said Lauda was in intensive care but should be discharged later this week, without citing sources. A spokesperson at the Vienna General Hospital could not immediately be reached for comment. Lauda, who was badly burned in 1976 in a Formula One race and later became an airline entrepreneur, had a lung transplant in August.
RACING
Jockey Espinoza back in saddle after injury
Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza was back in the saddle Saturday, five months after he was seriously injured when his mount died under him in a training run. Espinoza, 46, suffered fractured vertebrae and other serious injuries in the July 22 accident at the Del Mar racetrack. He had spent the past five months rehabilitating in the San Diego area and on Saturday was aboard former stakes winner St Joe Bay for trainer John Sadler for a five-furlong work at Santa Anita. “I feel good,” said Espinoza, whose injuries included a fracture of the C-3 vertebra in his neck, which left him with shoulder pain and numbness. “Basically, my fitness is returning, but it’s only one horse ... It’s like riding a bicycle. It takes a little practice, but I didn’t expect to come back at 100% after one work.” Espinoza admitted that early in his rehabilitation he doubted he would want to ride again after the horse, Kona Gold, died of cardiac arrest as they completed a training outing.
SOCCER
Bayern hand Ribery ‘heavy fine’ for Tweetstorm
Bayern Munich said on Sunday it will impose “a heavy fine” on Franck Ribery over an obscenity-laced outburst on social media, after the French striker became embroiled in controversy for eating a gold-coated steak. Ribery lashed out at critics in a string of angry posts on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday. It is the latest scandal to engulf the 35-year-old, who is deeply unpopular in his native France but revered by German fans. “I had a long talk with Franck and I let him know that we would impose a heavy fine on him and he accepted it,” the club’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said. “He used words that we, FC Bayern, cannot accept and that Franck does not have the right to use, as a role model and player of FC Bayern.”
TENNIS
Stars lament potential end of Hopman Cup
The likely demise of the Hopman Cup after three decades of the unique mixed teams tennis tournament has been greeted with sadness by players at this year’s edition, with Serena Williams calling the prospect “heartbreaking”. Swiss duo Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic beat Germans Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber in Saturday’s final in front of a sellout crowd in Perth, but it is expected to be the last instalment of the event. A dramatic finish to what was arguably the best Hopman Cup – in which Federer and Serena also faced off for the first time in a historic mixed doubles clash – came down to a single match point shared by both sides. However, the event is widely tipped to be scrapped to make way for the new ATP World Team Cup, which will start in 2020. While Tennis Australia has a contract with the West Australian State Government to run the ITF-sanctioned tournament until 2022, the new ATP event would make it very hard for the Hopman Cup to attract top men’s players.
CRICKET
Banned Warner, Smith make BPL debut
Banned Australian cricketers David Warner and Steve Smith made a low-scoring debut in the Bangladesh Premier League on Sunday, amassing just 30 runs between them as newly minted skippers in the Twenty20 league. The duo, who are serving international bans for ball tampering, faced off in the BPL opener in Dhaka, with Smith’s Comilla Victorians edging Warner’s Sylhet Sixers by four wickets. Their debut as foreign stars in the lucrative T20 franchise came as Australia’s Test cricketers in Sydney stared down defeat against a ruthless India.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE

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