SPORTS DAY: Returning Ngidi fires up World Cup hopes
Your roundup of the sporting news of the day
SA recall Ngidi for Sri Lanka ODI series
SA have recalled fast bowler Lungi Ngidi to their one-day international squad for the five-match home series against Sri Lanka, restoring their first-choice fast bowling line-up ahead of the World Cup in England. Ngidi made a successful return to provincial cricket this month after injuring his knee in November and along with Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn, is an important element of the side as SA seek to win a first World Cup trophy. “His recent form for the Titans in the (domestic) One-Day Cup has been most impressive and he is clearly match fit for international cricket again,” Cricket SA selection convener Linda Zondi said on Sunday. There is also a first call-up for fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who is also back from injury. SA have rested experienced opener Hashim Amla, while all-rounder JP Duminy has still not returned from a shoulder injury sustained in October. The first ODI against Sri Lanka will be played in Johannesburg on March 3, with the series to conclude in Cape Town on March 16.
Frustrated Hunt fumes
Premiership leaders Bidvest Wits had no business dropping two valuable points and drawing 1-1 against a 10-men Mamelodi Sundowns at home in Milpark on Saturday night‚ asserts frustrated coach Gavin Hunt. Hunt’s irritation is understandable as his charges failed to capitalise on their numerical advantage over a handicapped Sundowns side who played close to 60 minutes with 10 men after defender Wayne Arendse was shown the red card towards the end of the first half. Sundowns dropped to third place but still have two matches in hand over Wits and second-placed Orlando Pirates. Hunt‚ who is gunning for a second league title with Wits in three seasons‚ felt his team had enough opportunities before the sending off to secure the result that could have taken them four points clear of the Brazilians.
Osaka will learn to deal with fame, says Nishikori
Kei Nishikori is confident his Japanese compatriot Naomi Osaka will learn to cope with pressure as she deals with her new elite status in tennis. Nishikori, playing as top seed at the Dubai Championships starting on Monday ahead of seven-time champion Roger Federer, has been there, done that in terms of national superstardom. But he believes the painfully shy 21-year-old ranks ahead of him as a national sporting hero after winning back-to-back Grand Slam titles at New York and Melbourne and igniting fresh tennis hysteria across the Pacific. “It’s much more than me, maybe a year ago she wasn’t ranked top 10. Suddenly everything changes: she’s No 1, I’ve (only) been top 3 before. “There is more pressure, for sure. Being No 1, winning Grand Slams, that’s something I never had before. It’s a bit different. It’s more than me, I think.”
De Bruin believes Lions did enough to win
Lions coach Swys de Bruin felt his side did enough to win Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter against the Stormers‚ despite falling just short at Newlands. Stormers replacement scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies sniped over almost seven minutes into injury time for a try that levelled the scores. SP Marais slotted the conversion to give the Stormers a vital 19-17 win that ended a four-year losing streak against the Lions. The Lions dominated the first half and led 14-6 at the break as the Stormers conceded nine penalties and a yellow card in that period. But somehow the home side stayed within touching distance.
Shock Sri Lanka loss major jolt for SA
SA’s shock Test series defeat against Sri Lanka came as a major jolt to a team who had become accustomed to dominating Test matches at home. The unheralded Sri Lankans exposed flaws in both SA’s top-order batting and their much-vaunted fast bowling attack in winning both Tests in a two-match series. Coach Ottis Gibson was asked after the second Test in Port Elizabeth whether SA’s policy of playing on pace-friendly pitches had affected the form and confidence of the home team’s batsmen, who struggled to totals of 235, 259, 222 and 128 against Sri Lanka. “No,” he said. “We’ve got runs on these pitches before. We just haven’t batted well enough in this series.” The reality, though, is that batting struggles have become a trend, with none of the current top six batsmen averaging above 40 since the start of 2018. Successive series wins against India, Australia and Pakistan were achieved when moderate totals proved enough because of SA’s bowling firepower.
Lealiifano on Wallabies radar after firing up Brumbies
The Brumbies were revelling in their best win in years on Sunday after inspirational cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano put himself on the Wallabies radar ahead of the World Cup. The Canberra-based Super Rugby team crushed the Waikato Chiefs 54-17 to bounce back from an opening round loss to the Melbourne Rebels. It was an emphatic performance from a side missing star flanker David Pocock, who sat out the game following a concussion the previous weekend. They ran in eight tries to two for the highest score against a New Zealand side since 2016, when the Brumbies shocked the Hurricanes in the opening round. While it was the forward play that provided the platform, the link work of flyhalf Lealiifano opened up space in what was hailed by pundits as his best performance since his return from a cancer battle.
Dirrell claims WBC super middleweight belt
Anhony Dirrell captured the vacant World Boxing Council super middleweight world title with a 10-round technical split decision over Turkey’s Avni Yildirim Saturday in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The action-packed bout was stopped in the 10th of 12 scheduled rounds on the advice of the ringside doctor because of a gaping cut over Dirrell’s left eye. With the cut deemed to have resulted from an accidental headbutt in the middle rounds, they went to the scorecards, with two ringside judges scoring it 96-94 for Dirrell and one seeing it 98-92 for Yildirim. Yildirim, who began celebrating as soon as the bout was stopped, looked on in disgust as the belt was handed to Dirrell, who regained a title he first won with a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika in August 2014 only to lose it in his first defense against Badou Jack.
Williams is ‘world's best fullback’
Liam Williams was labelled the “world’s best fullback” by rugby great Barry John after his starring role in Wales’ dramatic 21-13 win over England. Victory, sealed by wing Josh Adams’s try two minutes from time off a pinpoint cross-kick from replacement fly-half Dan Biggar, left Wales as the only team capable of a Grand Slam in this Six Nations after they recovered from a 10-3 halftime deficit to dash England’s hopes of a clean sweep. The 27-year-old Williams, who plays alongside several England stars, including captain Owen Farrell, at Premiership Saracens, was masterful in both attack and defence, where he neutered the threat of the Red Rose kicking game.
Struggling Leicester sack coach Claude Puel
Leicester announced the sacking of manager Claude Puel on Sunday following the struggling Premier League side’s sixth defeat in seven games. Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Crystal Palace dropped the 2015/2016 champions to 12th, only eight points above the relegation places. The club said: “Leicester City Football Club has today (Sunday) parted company with Claude Puel, who leaves his position as first team manager with immediate effect.” First team coaches Mike Stowell and Adam Sadler would assume caretaking responsibilities. “The club would like to thank Claude for his efforts in leading the team during his 16 months in the role and wish him well in his future career,” the club added. Puel’s assistant manager, Jacky Bonnevay, has also been let go.
Hoddle ‘lucky’ to be alive after cardiac arrest
Former Tottenham and England manager Glenn Hoddle admits he is a “lucky man” after surviving a cardiac arrest. Hoddle collapsed at BT Sport studios in October while preparing to work as a pundit on a show with former Leicester star Robbie Savage. A sound supervisor for the television channel was on hand to administer CPR and managed to stabilise Hoddle, who was then taken to hospital. The 61-year-old had a quadruple heart bypass before returning home to recuperate and is now on the way to making a full recovery. Hoddle, who confirmed he will return to punditry duties with BT Sport in March, admits he recalls very little of what happened that day. But the former Tottenham and Monaco midfielder feels grateful to have been around so many people when it happened because they saved his life.
– AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE