Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
We begin, of course, with India's historic and thrilling win in the first Test against Australia in Adelaide yesterday. India won the Test by 31 runs after bundling out Australia for 291 in the second innings. India last won a Test Down Under back in 2008. India have never won a Test series in Australia in 11 tours spread over 71 years.
India scored 250 in the first innings, thanks to a patient and determined 123 by Cheteshwar Pujara, then bundled Australia out for 235, taking a slender 15-run lead. India's batsmen put up a better show in the second innings, scoring 307 and setting Australia a target of 323 runs. The highest chase at the Adelaide Oval was 315/6 back in 1902, meaning the hosts had their backs to the wall. India's bowling was top notch all through the match, and Australia's top order wasn't up to challenge. Australia's scorecard in the second innings soon read 187/7 but the tail showed remarkable resistance, adding over 100 runs for the last three wickets before being bowled out for 291 on the fifth day. They had come very close to pulling off the impossible. For India, Cheteshwar Pujara scored 123 and 71 in the match, which earned him the Player of The Match award. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took 11 catches during the match to equal the record for the most catches by a 'keeper in a single Test.
Virat Kohli said after the match, "I'm super-proud of the bowlers, to have four bowlers and take 20 wickets is a great achievement and something that we haven't done in the past. It shows us that if the batsmen step up regularly, we will be gunning for a win in every Test match."
The controversy surrounding the role of coach for the Indian women's cricket team refuses to die down. Committee of Administrators member, and former cricketer, Diana Edulji had written a letter to fellow CoA member Vinod Rai asking that the selection process for a new coach be scrapped, and argued for the continuation of Ramesh Powar as the coach until at least the tour of New Zealand.
The women's team itself is a divided house at the moment. Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana favour Powar's extension while veteran player Mithali Raj is against retaining him. Powar's term ended on 30 November, a week after India lost the semifinals of the World T20 to England. The team management dropped Mithali for the knockout fixture, triggering a massive controversy that has not died down. Mithali accused Powar and Edulji of attempting to destroy her and being biased against her.
However, on Monday, Rai made it clear that scrapping the coach selection process was not an option because the BCCI had already invited applications for the position. The application deadline is 14 December. Former Indian cricketer Manoj Prabhakar, former South African batsman Herchelle Gibbs and former England all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas are among the applicants.
The cricket board is expected to name the new coach before the New Zealand tour that begins on 24 January, and includes three ODIs as well as three T20 Internationals.
An update from the 2018 Hockey World Cup. Four teams have qualified for the quarter-finals after topping their respective groups while eight teams are fighting it out for the remaining four slots in the quarters.
Two crossover matches were played on Monday " England versus New Zealand, and France versus China.
A dominant England brushed aside a hapless New Zealand 2-0 to set up a quarter-final clash with World No 2, and Olympic champions, Argentina. Will Calnan scored in the 25th minute to give England the lead. Later, a penalty corner in the 44th minute was converted by Luke Taylor to make it 2-0 for England.
In the second crossover match of the day, France, who have had an impressive run in this World Cup, defeated China 1-0 in an intensely contested encounter. Timothee Clement scored the only goal of the match in the 36th minute. The rest of match saw the two sides trade possession but fail to convert scoring opportunities.
Football news now. Cristiano Ronaldo has urged rival and ex-teammate Lionel Messi to push his limits by challenging himself in football leagues outside Spain. He said, "I'd like him to come to Italy one day. I hope he accepts the challenge like me, but if he's happy there then I respect that."
The two most popular and revered footballers in the world have been rivals for over 10 years, even winning 10 Ballon d'Or trophies between themselves, until their dominance was broken this year by Luka Modric.
Ronaldo, who moved to Juventus this year, was asked if he misses having Messi in his team. He replied, "No, maybe it's him who misses me...I've played in England, Spain, Italy, Portugal and for my national team, while he's still in Spain. Maybe he needs me more... For me, life is a challenge, I like it and I like to make people happy. He's a fantastic player and a good guy, but I don't miss anything here. This is my new life and I'm happy. I left my comfort zone and took on this challenge here in Turin, everything has gone well, I've proven I'm still an incredible player."
Ronaldo had a few words of encouragement for Modric but also challenged him. He said, "Congratulations to Modric, who has earned the award, but next year we will meet again and I will do everything to win the prize again. On the pitch I've done everything to win the Ballon d'Or, numbers do not lie, but I'm no less happy if I do not win, I have wonderful friends and a family, I play in one of the best clubs¦Of course I'm disappointed, but life goes on and I will continue to work hard."
An update from the Bundesliga in Germany now. Dutch footballer Arjen Robben has said he will quit Bayern Munich after his contract expires in June. The 34-year-old has been with Bayern since 2009, when he moved from Real Madrid. Prior to that, he played for Chelsea in the EPL.
Robben, who has recently missed two matches due to a thigh injury, is expected to return for Bayern's Champions League game against Ajax on Wednesday. He confirmed that he's leaving Bayern next year. He said, "...that's a fact...Of course it's a big step, which you don't just make in one day. I thought about it a lot and it feels good that it's now out, also for the fans and the club. It was the right point in time."
Word is, Bayern's bosses are also planning a major rejig next year. Robben said, "¦the club wants to change the face of the team and I want to prepare my future. I am simply happy and grateful that there is clarity for both parties."
A badminton update now. Indian shuttler PV Sindhu has been handed a difficult singles draw at the BWF World Tour Finals that will be held in Guangzhou in China.
Sindhu finished second in last year's edition in Dubai. This year, she will face defending champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, World No 1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei and United States' Beiwen Zhang in her Group A fixtures.
Sindhu has lost five times to Yamaguchi this season and has not won against Tzu Ying in two years.
Meanwhile, the men's singles draw has been kinder to debutante Sameer Verma. He is the second Indian men's player along with K Srikanth to qualify for the tournament. He will face World No 1 Kento Momota, Indonesia's Tommy Sugiarto and Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen. He has a 1-1 head-to-head record against Sugiarto and Wangcharoen. On the other hand, Momota could prove very challenging. Sameer defeated Momota en route to his Swiss Open title but the Japanese player's form has been indomitable ever since.