LISTEN: Full script of Episode 98 of Spodcast where we discuss Pakistan's issues at Hockey World Cup, Vijender Singh's US debut and more
Welcome to Spodcast. We're looking at the big sports headlines on this Friday.
We begin with news from the 14th Hockey World Cup that is being held in Bhubaneswar.
The Pakistan team is battling some misfortune this week. First, their captain Muhammad Rizwan Sr was ruled out of the ongoing tournament due to a hand injury. Team manager Hasan Sardar said, "Rizwan Senior fractured his little finger so unfortunately, he won't be able to play any further part in this tournament." To make matters worse, vice-captain Ammad Butt was banned for one match after an on-field clash during Pakistan's game against Malaysia.
Butt was banned after Malaysia lodged a complaint with the FIH against him for a rough tackle in the 1-1 draw on Wednesday. The Pakistan manager claimed it was a biased decision. Sardar said, "We weren't informed yesterday that Malaysia had appealed. They (FIH) informed us later. We were called for hearing today. If we look at the video against which they had taken action for a harsh dash, there wasn't any such dash. If we look at the video everybody would agree that Ammad not only stopped the ball but the umpire also didn't give any penalty corner against us nor the umpire showed any card to Ammad Butt."
He also claimed that the Dutch official who handed the ban probably did it to favour the Dutch team who play against Pakistan on 9 December. He said, "I think this is an afterthought but we have to play a match against the Netherlands and this decision was given by a Dutch technical delegate. They lost to Germany and this is a do-or-die match for them as well as us. So I think they have taken this harsh decision against us."
Pakistan has appealed against the ban.
Staying with the Hockey World Cup, France stunned Olympic champions Argentina 5-3 to book a spot in the knockout stage. France, ranked 20 in the world, were in a dire situation prior to the match. A draw between New Zealand and Spain meant that they would have to beat a much stronger Argentina, who are ranked second in the world, to proceed in the tournament.
France began aggressively, and scored their first goal in the 18th minute, then followed that up with a second goal in the 23rd minute, and another in the 26th minute. Argentina hit back, scoring their first goal two minutes later. But France made it 4-1 another two minutes later thanks to Gaspard Baumgarten.
Then followed a tense 15-minute period where Argentina tried to wrest the initiative as France looked to defend hard. But Argentina scored twice, converting two penalty corners in quick succession. Gonzalo Peillat scored twice in the 44th and 48th minutes, as Argentina made it 4-3.
But the Frenchmen were not to be denied. Francois Goyet scored in the 54th minute to make it 5-3 for France. With France qualifying, world number 8 Spain have been eliminated from the World Cup.
Some news from the world of boxing. Indian boxing star Vijender Singh, who has won bronze medals at the Olympics as well as the World Championships, will venture into US professional boxing this year. Vijender signed up with Bob Arum's Top Rank Promotions and will be assisted in his training by the legendary Manny Pacquiao's coach Freddie Roach. Arum is a Hall of Fame member who has promoted names like Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Vijender turned pro in 2015 and has remained unbeaten since then, but he has not competed at all this year. He said, "The relationship (with Arum) goes back two years and it's a formal contract now. After winning an Olympic medal, I had spoken about a desire to fight at the MSG arena and when I told Bob about this, he said 'the boy has a Madison Square Garden dream. OK we'll see what can be done.'" Before this, Vijender won the WBO Asia Pacific and Oriental super middleweight titles.
Vijender explained, "Bob introduced us to Freddie Roach and (Robert) Garcia. We discussed a lot of things and let's see how it goes. (Trainer) Lee Beard is still in the team but it's not yet decided if I am training in the UK or the USA or both. We will sort it out very soon."
Vijender is also upfront about his ambitions. The boxer said, "My main aim is Canelo, I am looking for a fight with him and I am now looking for a world title fight. Bob told me we might get that next year. He said fighting in the US is like a back-to-back business. After August he told me, we would go for the big things."
In the meantime, Vijender has been training in preparation and spending time with family. He said, "I have been relaxing, doing my training...I am mostly happy. My son is five now, he is growing up fast and he keeps me running."
In cricket news, Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah broke an 82-year-old record when he became the quickest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets during the third Test against New Zealand in Dubai. Yasir Shah reached the historic milestone in just 33 Test matches, 3 matches less than Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett's, who held the since 1936.
Shah had taken 14 wickets in the second Test match against New Zealand to help level the Test series 1-1. He is the fastest Pakistani bowler to reach 50 wickets, getting there in just nine Tests. He reached 100 wickets in 17 Tests, second only to English bowler George Lohmann who got there in just 16 matches way back in 1896.
After an impressive century from New Zealand captain Kane Williamson alongside able support from Henry Nicholls, Black Caps go into the final day of the deciding Test with a lead of 198 in the second innings for the loss of four wickets.
Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh is once again up for auction in the IPL after being released by Kings XI Punjab. The stylish left-hander has reduced his base price to Rs 1 crore for the IPL Player auction that will be held on 18th December. Jaydev Unadkat, with a base price of 1.5 crores, will be the highest priced Indian player.
Nine capped overseas players, like Brendon McCullum and Lasith Malinga, have listed themselves with the maximum base price of Rs 2 crore. Australia's Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch have opted out of the IPL to prepare for the 50-over World Cup and The Ashes later in the same year.
As we reported earlier, a total of 1000 cricketers from India and abroad have registered themselves for the 70 spots up for grabs in the upcoming auction.
An update from the ISL now. Mumbai City FC extended their unbeaten run to six matches after defeating defending champions Chennaiyin FC on Thursday as World Cup winning German captain Lothar Matthaus watched on as part of the audience at the stadium.
Mumbai boy Raynier Fernandes scored the first goal in the 27th minute and Modou Sougou scored in the 55th minute to give Mumbai City a 2-0 win in a match where Chennaiyin failed to convert any of their opportunities
Both teams began steadily but Mumbai always looked the more threatening side, with more than one go at the Chennai goal. Chennai had their best chance in the 32nd minute but striker Carlos Salom failed to capitalize. Mumbai are now in second place behind Bengaluru FC in the points table, with 20 points from 10 matches. Bengaluru are on 23 points while NorthEast are third with 19 points.