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Djokovic barrels into Shanghai third round

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SHANGHAI: Novak Djokovic, the hottest player on the men’s tour in the second half of the year, stepped up his bid to dethrone Rafael Nadal from the top of the world rankings with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the second round of the Shanghai Masters.
The 31-year-old Serb was playing his first match on the ATP tour since lifting his 14th Grand Slam title at the US Open last month and looked in complete control as he won 34 of 40 points on his first-serve to book a place in the last 16.
Djokovic, who received a first-round bye, could pass Roger Federer at number two in world rankings if he reaches Sunday’s final. Nadal’s lead at the top will be trimmed as he is skipping the Asian swing to recover from a knee injury.
The Serb’s victory improved his perfect record against the 41st-ranked Chardy to 12-0 in matches played, and 28-0 in sets won, and will play either Italy’s Marco Cecchinato or South Korea’s Chung Hyeon next.
Fifth-seeded Marin Cilic became the highest seed toppled in Shanghai when 48th-ranked Nicolas Jarry of Chile rebounded for a 2-6, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 second-round win.
Cilic served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but couldn’t. Jarry won the next two games to advance to the third round.
World number seven Dominic Thiem’s bid to qualify for the next month’s ATP World Tour Finals suffered a blow as the sixth seed was edged out 6-4, 6-7 (8-10), 7-6 (7-4) by Australian Matthew Ebden.
Thiem, who also received a first-round bye, struggled to find his rhythm in a tightly contested encounter which lasted two hours and 45 minutes.
A couple of champions from last weekend also progressed.
Nikoloz Basilashvili, who downed Juan Martin del Potro for the China Open title on Sunday, won his sixth straight match after beating Canadian Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-2 in just under an hour to open his Shanghai account.
Up to a career-high ranking of 23, Basilashvili never faced a break point on his serve. The 26-year-old Georgian earned his first win in Shanghai after qualifying in 2015 and 2017 and will meet fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev in the second round.
Daniil Medvedev, who upset Kei Nishikori to win the Japan Open on Sunday, struggled but beat Chinese wild card Zhang Ze 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.
Briton Kyle Edmund, who moved to a career-high ranking of 14 this week, continued his impressive run in Asia with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic. Also, French qualifier Benoit Paire upset 15th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4.


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England reject Al Jazeera’s cricket fixing allegations as ICC launches probe

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London :Australia and England on Monday rejected fresh allegations about corruption in cricket by television news channel Al Jazeera, which claimed there had been 26 spot-fixing incidents in 15 international matches.

In a follow-up documentary to one aired earlier this year, the Qatari-based broadcaster reported on Sunday that a small group of England players allegedly cheated in seven games between 2011 and 2012.

It claimed Australian players were similarly involved in five matches over the same period, Pakistan players in three and players from other, unidentified teams in one match.

“In some cases, both teams appear to have delivered a fix,” it said, pointing to purported recordings of a match-fixer calling in the fixes to a notorious Indian bookmaker linked to organised crime.

It alleged that the suspected fixes were usually carried out by batsmen who agreed to under-perform.

Among the matches cited were England against India at Lord’s, South Africa versus Australia in Cape Town, and several games during England’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Take a look: ICC warns England, Sri Lanka players of match-fixing ahead of tour

The International Cricket Council (ICC) said it had launched an investigation and would work with professional independent betting analysts.

“The ICC is committed to working to uphold integrity in cricket,” said the head of the governing body’s anti-corruption unit Alex Marshall.

“As you would expect we will again take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make seriously and will investigate fully.”

The ICC also launched a probe after the original Al Jazeera documentary and in August Marshall said “we have been able to discount a number of claims made in the programme and continue to pursue other aspects”.

That documentary alleged corruption among Australia and England players in games in 2016 and 2017.

Those claims were dismissed by both countries, with the latest documentary sparking a similar response from Cricket Australia (CA) and the England Cricket Board (ECB).

“Cricket Australia takes a zero-tolerance approach against anyone trying to compromise the integrity of the game, and to suggest anything otherwise is unsubstantiated and incorrect,” CA chief executive James Sutherland said on Monday. “We have full confidence in our players in also protecting the game.”

Prior to the latest broadcast, CA’s Integrity Unit conducted a review of the claims, which it said came from a “known criminal source”.

“From the limited information provided by Al Jazeera, our team have not identified any issues of corruption by any current or former player,” said Sutherland.

The ECB was also adamant that the claims lacked credibility.

“Whilst the limited information we have been given by Al Jazeera is poorly prepared and lacks clarity and corroboration, it has been properly assessed,” it said in a statement.

“Analysis of this by the ECB integrity team has cast no doubt on the integrity or behaviour of any England player, current or former.”

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Ongoing series against West Indies will be crucial for Dhoni: Ganguly

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Mumbai :Former India captain Sourav Ganguly on Sunday backed struggling Mahendra Singh Dhoni to do well in the World Cup and said the ongoing series against West Indies would be crucial for the veteran stumper looking forward to next year’s showpiece event.

A colossus in ODI cricket, of late Dhoni is struggling with his batting and his scores have dwindled in the last few years.

Starting with the five-match ODI series against West Indies, India have 18-odd matches left for the World Cup and the think-tank has brought in dashing Delhi wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant in the mix to spice up the scenario.

“I don’t know what combination they are thinking at. But I’m sure he (Dhoni) will do well in the World Cup. It’s a (against West Indies) big series for him,” Ganguly told PTI at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium while watching the ODI with Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi.

In the Asia Cup, Dhoni batted four times, scoring 77 runs with an average of 19.25 and a strike rate of 62.09. Overall in 2018, he has batted 10 times in 15 matches, for an average of 28.12 and a strike rate of 67.36.

Dhoni has an unimpressive record in the seaming conditions of England where he is yet to score a century from 20 ODIs, and averages 38.06, a sharp drop from his career average of 50.61.

“His overall record is very good,” Ganguly pointed out.”It all depends how the players perform going ahead to the World Cup. It’s about scoring runs. That’s why Pant has been given a chance,” he added.

All 10 teams will play each other in a round-robin format, with the top four qualifying for the semi-finals in the next year’s World Cup beginning with England versus South Africa at the Oval on May 30.

“India are a good ODI side. This World Cup will be worth watching. All teams play all and the best four go. It will be a competitive one,” Ganguly said.

Hosting its first ODI, the Assam Cricket Association invited Ganguly as the guest of honour and was felicitated with traditional Assamese gamcha (towel) and xorai, an offering pot with a stand at the bottom, a decorative symbol of Assam used for offering tamul pan (betel nut and leaves).

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RCB sell Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians in IPL 2019’s first trade

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New Delhi :Royal Challengers Bangalore have traded South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians in what has become the IPL’s first trade of 2019.

In the 2018 auction, Royal Challengers Bangalore had acquired the services of de Kock for INR 2.8 crore (USD 437,000). As per a report in ESPNcricinfo, Mumbai Indians have purchased the South African at the same price. In order to offset the deal, they have released Bangladesh fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman (INR 2.2 crore, USD 343,000) and Sri Lankan offspinner Akila Dananjaya (INR 50 lakh, USD 78,000).

Mumbai Indians already have two wicket-keepers in their squad in Ishan Kishan and Aditya Tare, and they might well use de Kock as a specialist batsman at the top of the order along with West Indian Evin Lewis. Also, since Lewis tapered off towards the fag end of the season in 2018, hence de Kock is a welcome addition to the squad.

The South African has earlier played for Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad and has good numbers in the competition. In 34 matches, he has scored 927 runs at an average of 28.09 and with a strike rate of 130. He has a century and six fifties to his name.

The last date for retentions and release is November 15, and the franchises are working on the different permutations and combinations before the auctions. A purse of INR 3 crore will be available to the teams in addition to the remaining balance after last year’s auction.

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