sports world

The sports wrap: Sania Mirza-Barbora Strycova enter Qatar Open quarter-finals, and other top stories

Decision on Arsene Wenger's future at Arsenal to be taken at end of season; Mohammad Kaif appointed assistant coach of Gujarat Lions.

The big story: Mirza-Strycova breeze past Atawo-Xu

Sania Mirza and her doubles partner Barbora Strycova powered their way past USA’s Raquel Atawo and China’s Yifan Xu on Thursday to enter the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open. The Mirza-Strycova duo beat their opponents 6-2, 6-4.

In the last-eight stage, the Indo-Czech duo will face Canada’s Gabiela Dabrowski and Darija Jurak of Croatia, who laboured past defeating Elina Vesnina and Katerina Bondarenko through a tie-break. Both sets of players won a set each.

Other top stories

Cricket

  • Indian pacer Varun Aaron, who has returned from injury after a three-and-a-half month layoff stated that he won’t back out of bowling fast, “As far as I am concerned there is no question of compromising on pace. Till the time I am playing cricket, I will be only bowling fast,” the 27-year-old was quoted as saying by PTI.
  • Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has been appointed the assistant coach of Indian Premier League side Gujarat Lions for the upcoming Indian Premier League season.
  • In the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, Manjo Tiwari and 19-year-old Virat Singh’s unbeaten half centuries helped East Zone upset a star-studded North Zone by eight wickets.  
  • The International Cricket Council on Thursday announced that West Indies all-rounder Marlon Samuels’ bowling action has been found to be legal following remedial work and reassessment. 
  • Afghanistan stunned Zimbabwe by 12 runs via Duckworth/Lewis method at Harare in the first One-day International between the two teams. Zimbabwe were 99/4 chasing 216.  
  • India A’s skipper for the practice game against Australia, Hardik Pandya, sent out a warning to the visitors, stating that his team would treat the four-day match in Mumbai like a competitive fixture, “We are not treating it as a practice game, it’s an opportunity for all of us to do something amazing and get recognised in the selectors eyes,” Pandya was quoted as saying by PTI. 
  • The ICC Chief Executive David Richardson has revealed that the Emirates Panel of Umpires’ usage of the Decision Review System has helped them attain an accuracy rate of 98.5%.
  • Senior Maharashtra Cricket Association member Madhav Ranade wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India objecting to the local body’s decision to splurge on felicitating past cricketers. The stay of the district representatives are also discussed in MCA’s itinerary during the first India-Australia Test in Pune.

Football

  • Acclaimed English referee Mark Clattenburg has quit the English Premier League to take up a role in Saudi Arabia, ESPN reported.
  • Embattled Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s fate will be decided at the end of the season, BBC reported.
  • Arsenal were demolished 5-1 by Bayern Munich in their round-of-16 Champions League clash at the Allianz Arena on Thursday.
  • Real Madrid came from a goal down to beat Napoli 3-1 in the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Thursday. Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro ensured an easy Real win in the end.
  • Spain and Barcelona veteran Xavi Hernandez hailed Paris Saint-Germain’s performance against the five-time European Champions, calling their 4-0 win ‘the best in their history’. The 38-year-old singled out PSG Marco Veratti for praise.
  • With Barca and their star man Lionel Messi stuck in contract negotiations, teammate Javier Mascherano thought that the 29-year-old was “bigger than Barcelona”. 
  • Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho stated that progressin the Europa League and FA Cup could create “many problems” for his side, as they fight for a Champions League place for next season. United are also in the final of the League Cup, where they face Southampton.

Tennis

  • India’s Sania Mirza, who was summoned in connection with an alleged case of non-payment of Service Tax, has hit back at claims of evasion, denying the allegations.   
  • Rohan Bopanna and Tomas Berdych have lost 3-6, 4-6 to Ivan Dodig and Marcel Granollers in the second round of the Rotterdam Open 
  • India will host Uzbekistan in April at the Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association at Bengaluru for their next Asia Oceania group I Davis Cup tie.  

Golf

  • India’s Aditi Ashok endured a torrid start in the first round of the Women’s Australian Open on Thursday, finishing at one-over 74 which included dropping three bogeys in a row in the last four holes.
  • Veteran Indian golfer Jeev Milkha Singh closed with two birdies in last two holes for a two-under par 70 round and was tied 43rd to make a modest start at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 on Thursday.

Boxing

  • India’s Vijender Singh, after successfully defending the WBO Asia Pacific title, will be gunning for a second belt when he faces WBO Oriental middleweight champion Zulpikar Maimaitiali of China in Mumbai on April 1  

Chess

  • Padmini Rout drew with Zhao Xue of China while the experienced Dronavalli Harika also split point with Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan in the second round of the World women’s chess championship. The Indian duo will now play in tiebreak games against their opponents to progress to the last 16. Harika won her tiebreak in round one against Bangladesh’s Shamima Akter Liza.  

Table Tennis

  • India’s Sharath Kamal and Harmeet Desai won their opening round matches in contrasting styles to enter the pre-quarterfinals while second seed Vladimir Samsonov suffered a shock defeat to crash out of the competition in ITTF World Tour India Open on Thursday, PTI reported.

Hockey

  • Uttar Pradesh Wizards beat Ranchi Rays 4-0 to jump into third place in the points table of the Hockey India League on Thursday.

Badminton

  • India were handed a 1-4 drubbing by Korea in their second and final round robin league tie but still advanced to the quarterfinals from Group D at the Badminton Asia Mixed Team Championships on Thursday.
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London then and now – As experienced by Indians

While much has changed, the timeless quality of the city endures.

“I found the spirit of the city matching the Bombay spirit. Like Bombay, the city never sleeps and there was no particular time when you couldn’t wander about the town freely and enjoy the local atmosphere”, says CV Manian, a PhD student in Manchester in the ‘80s, who made a trip to London often. London as a city has a timeless quality. The seamless blend of period architecture and steel skyscrapers acts as the metaphor for a city where much has changed, but a lot hasn’t.

The famed Brit ‘stiff upper lip, for example, finds ample validation from those who visited London decades ago. “The people were minding their business, but never showed indifference to a foreigner. They were private in their own way and kept to themselves.” Manian recollects. Aditya Dash remembers an enduring anecdote from his grandmother’s visit to London. “There is the famous family story where she was held up at Heathrow airport. She was carrying zarda (or something like that) for my grandfather and customs wanted to figure out if it was contraband or not.”

However, the city always housed contrasting cultures. During the ‘Swinging ‘60s’ - seen as a precursor to the hippie movement - Shyla Puri’s family had just migrated to London. Her grandfather still remembers the simmering anti-war, pro-peace sentiment. He himself got involved with the hippie movement in small ways. “He would often talk with the youth about what it means to be happy and how you could achieve peace. He wouldn’t go all out, but he would join in on peace parades and attend public talks. Everything was ‘groovy’ he says,” Shyla shares.

‘Groovy’ quite accurately describes the decade that boosted music, art and fashion in a city which was till then known for its post-World-War austerities. S Mohan, a young trainee in London in the ‘60s, reminisces, “The rage was The Beatles of course, and those were also the days of Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald.” The likes of The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd were inspiring a cultural revolution in the city. Shyla’s grandfather even remembers London turning punk in the ‘80s, “People walking around with leather jackets, bright-colored hair, mohawks…It was something he would marvel at but did not join in,” Shyla says.

But Shyla, a second-generation Londoner, did join in in the revival of the punk culture in the 21st century. Her Instagram picture of a poster at the AfroPunk Fest 2016 best represents her London, she emphatically insists. The AfroPunk movement is trying to make the Punk culture more racially inclusive and diverse. “My London is multicultural, with an abundance of accents. It’s open, it’s alive,” Shyla says. The tolerance and openness of London is best showcased in the famous Christmas lights at Carnaby Street, a street that has always been popular among members of London’s alternate cultures.

Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)
Christmas lights at Carnaby Street (Source: Roger Green on Wikimedia Commons)

“London is always buzzing with activity. There are always free talks, poetry slams and festivals. A lot of museums are free. London culture, London art, London creativity are kept alive this way. And of course, with the smartphones navigating is easy,” Shyla adds. And she’s onto something. Manian similarly describes his ‘80s rendezvous with London’s culture, “The art museums and places of interest were very illustrative and helpful. I could tour around the place with a road map and the Tube was very convenient.” Mohan, with his wife, too made the most of London’s cultural offerings. “We went to see ‘Swan Lake’ at the Royal Opera House and ‘The Mousetrap’ by Agatha Christie. As an overseas graduate apprentice, I also had the pleasure to visit the House of Lords and take tea on the terrace.”

For the casual stroller along London’s streets today, the city would indeed look quite different from what it would’ve to their grandparents. Soho - once a poor suburb known for its crime and sex industry - is today a fashionable district of upmarket eateries and fashion stores. Most of the big British high street brands have been replaced by large international stores and the London skyline too has changed, with The Shard being the latest and the most impressive addition. In fact, Shyla is quite positive that her grandfather would not recognise most of the city anymore.

Shyla, though, isn’t complaining. She assures that alternate cultures are very much alive in the city. “I’ve seen some underground LGBT clubs, drag clubs, comedy clubs, after midnight dance-offs and empty-warehouse-converted parties. There’s a space for everybody.” London’s cosmopolitan nature remains a huge point of attraction for Indian visitors even today. Aditya is especially impressed by the culinary diversity of London and swears that, “some of the best chicken tikka rolls I have had in my life were in London.” “An array of accents flood the streets. These are the people who make London...LONDON,” says Shyla.

It’s clear that London has changed a lot, but not really all that much. Another aspect of Indians’ London experience that has remained consistent over the past decades is the connectivity of British Airways. With a presence in India for over 90 years, British Airways has been helping generations of Indians discover ‘their London’, just like in this video.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of British Airways and not by the Scroll editorial team.