New Delhi:The first time I watched a race in the flesh — from the grandstands, gulping in all that deafening, glorious noise — it was at Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix a dozen years ago. Michael Schumacher announced his retirement and I’d leapt into action, insisting on watching him race at least once. That morning looked hopeless as he began in sixth, but down came the downpour, and the German icon — nicknamed “rainmaster” for his superhuman wet-weather ability — valiantly slaughtered his competition to take the win, following many an impossible overtake. It was his last win.
This Sunday, Daniel Ricciardo similarly started his Red Bull in sixth place and, through swashbuckling lunges and flawless pitlane-poker, not to mention unforeseeable good fortune, took the win. The Australian driver has his own tradition of pouring champagne down his shoe and drinking it, but before glugging, he stood on the top step, giggling helplessly, as if third-place driver Kimi Raikkonen, a man of infamously few words, had just told him a naughty joke. This is unlikely. This was laughter of sheer disbelief, for while Ricciardo indeed drove without fault and finished imperiously ahead, the race was never in his hands.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team have many a reason to celebrate, from Ricciardo’s drive — that elegant, muscular overtake on Lewis Hamilton will be one of the year’s top overtakes, mark my words — to the way the crew doubled up on their pitstops, twice, with unerring precision. Max had an absurdly off day, nearly hitting Lewis Hamilton and ruining Sebastian Vettel’s race, but even his screwy moments make for great television. Ten second penalties appear of little consequence when talking of Formula One’s current cowboy.
Despite all this, the real headline from the weekend belongs to Ferrari. The Italian outfit had a horrid Sunday: first, Raikkonen was squeezed out by teammate Vettel far too aggressively at the start, then Vettel was bumped off by an overeager Verstappen, and, finally, Raikkonen proved unable to pass Valtteri Bottas at the end. Not a grand day to wear scarlet, no.
Yet the big takeaway is how Ferrari outqualified Mercedes in Shanghai, a track traditionally suited to the silver cars, by more than half a second. This is enormous, and while Sunday’s race might have provided breathless and unpredictable spectacle, it was Saturday’s qualifying that made it apparent Mercedes is not where it would like to be. Mercedes are winless in three races, after having the run of the last few seasons. The men in red have a car that appears quicker in a straight line, is visibly better balanced, and, as is now clear, can extract a time from their softest-compound tyres that can, at least on occasion, make ‘party mode’ — the vaunted Mercedes setting for setting blisteringly quick Qualifying laps — look like a party that serves Virgin Marys.
Formula One development cycles mean a team with a sizeable advantage usually maintains it for a few years. Ferrari had to contend first with the Red Bull years and then the Mercedes stretch. At long last, the prancing horses are underdogs no more.
South Africa will learn from defeat:du Plessis
PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis has said that his side will learn from their defeat to Pakistan in the first One-day International at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The Proteas were given a timely reminder of how much work lies ahead before the Cricket World Cup in May as they lost by five wickets.
Hashim Amla’s 27th ODI century and debutant Rassie van der Dussen’s 93 was not enough for the Proteas, who lost only two wickets in scoring 266 runs after winning the toss.
The experienced Mohammad Hafeez’s 71 and opener Imam-ul-Haq’s 86 steered the tourists to their first win of their away series after they were well-beaten in all three Test matches.
Du Plessis felt that his team were short of where they should have been.
“The two guys [Amla and van der Dussen] batted really well, but perhaps there were 10 or 15 runs that we could have pushed a little harder for,” he said after the opening fixture of the five-match series. “Pakistan bowled better than us over fifty overs here. And then they batted really well [too], you have to give credit where it’s due. Some great learnings for us, and we know where we can get better,” said the South African captain.
“An in-form Hashim Amla is great for us. Rassie played beautifully, he had intent right through his innings. We need to adapt. You’re not going to always get conditions for the fast bowlers,” du Plessis added.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed also credited his batsmen for their first win of the tour. “The batting was very responsible,” a relieved Sarfraz said. “In the middle overs, Shadab [Khan] was great, as well as Imad [Wasim]. And the way our fast bowlers bowled was very good. And then the way Imam and Hafeez controlled the match in the run chase was simply outstanding.”
Man-of-the-match Hafeez remarked the South Africa total was below par. “It’s a team effort,” the veteran right-hander said. “It was not a par score on this track, so we were confident chasing it. To be very honest, we were very sure as a team we should chase this one. The start given by Fakhar [Zaman] and Imam was brilliant, Babar [Azam] gave us momentum.”
With this win, Pakistan maintained their unbeaten record at St George’s Park. They have now won three out of the four matches they have played at the venue, with one match ending without result.The second game, also a day/nighter, takes place at Kingsmead in Durban on Tuesday.
Cricket a special part of my life but not the priority: Kohli
Mumbai :Indian skipper Virat Kohli has established himself as one of the world’s greatest batsmen in the modern-day cricket. Known for his committment and hardwork on the field, Kohli has been breaking records constantly and it seems that there is no turning back for the 30-year-old.
Having enjoyed a record-breaking 2018 year, Kohli continued his good form in this year as well as he not only achieved several individual records but also guided India to historic twin victories in Australia.
Kohli, the world’s no.1 Test and ODI batsman, guided India through a historic tour of Australia, during which the side clinched the Test and ODI series by 2-1 and settled with a 1-1 draw in the T20I series.
However, the swashbuckling batsman stated on his official app that though cricket is an important part of his life, his family still remains his biggest priority.
“Eight years down the line the priority would be my family, priority would be myself, Anushka and our family only by then. So that would be the priority for us. And cricket would obviously a part of my life always but I feel that family should be a priority at all times because nothing is bigger than life. Cricket is a part of life and nothing should be bigger than life. I know people will take things a bit too seriously that if you don’t say cricket is your life then you are not committed enough, I don’t believe in all that. If I am committed to talking right now about something, I am committed to this,” Kohli said.
He further went on to say,”But the larger picture always has to be life because whatever happens you come back home and whatever may happen in your life, you always come back home. So I think, the priority will be family, should be family and cricket will always be a very special part of my life but it is not the most important thing in life, it is the way I see it. But I think eight years down the line I will be totally focused towards my family.”
During India’s tour to Australia, Kohli added many records to his tally.
By smashing his 39th One-Day International century during India’s six-wicket win over Australia in the second match at the Adelaide Oval, Kohli became the second cricketer with most hundreds overseas. With 22 tons to his name now, the Indian skipper surpassed Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara who both have 21 centuries in their tally.
En route to his blistering knock, he also became the 11th highest run-scorer in the history of ODI cricket.With a total of 10,385 ODI runs in his tally, Kohli has went past Sri Lanka’s Tilakratne Dilashan (10,290 runs).
He has now brought up a total of 64 international hundreds to become the third batsman with most international centuries, overtaking former Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara (63).
MU star set to join Ronaldo at JuventusSports
London: Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian is set to move to Serie A giants Juventus on a six-month loan deal till the end of the 2018-19 season. The loan move will end Darmian’s misery at the Old Trafford as the full-back has struggled to leave a mark since moving in from Italian side Torino in 2015. The 29-year-old has just made 91 appearances in three and a half years for the Red Devils and have just played six matches this season.
According to GOAL, the loan move will cost Juventus 3 million Pounds, but the Old Lady will secure Darmian’s signing in the summer for free as his contract is set to expire after the end of this season. The signing of Darmian will allow Leonardo Spinazzola to move to Bologna from Juventus. Darmian featured for the Red Devils in their 2-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League, but it seems like that will be the right-back’s final game in the red jersey.
Darmian has played for AC Milan and Palermo and has 36 appearances for Italy to his name. Juventus would be bolstering their defense with Darmian’s signing and will expect that the full-back gives tough competition to their present options at the club.
Meanwhile, Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that the Red Devils won’t be making any signings in the ongoing January transfer window and will go to the remaining matches with the present squad. For United’s full-back options, Solksjaer has the likes of Antonio Valencia, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot and Ashley Young and will hope that the levels remain the same since his takeover from Jose Mourinho, who was sacked following Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool in the December Premier League match.
Manchester United are currently sixth in the league table with 44 points to their name after the completion of 23rd game-week in the Premier League 2018-19.