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January 26 Digest

Title for Nehwal

Calcutta: Saina Nehwal on Sunday snapped her 15-month long title drought by clinching the Syed Modi International India Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament crown in Lucknow with a straight-game victory over compatriot PV Sindhu in the women’s singles final. Saina defeated Sindhu 21-14, 21-17 in 40 minutes. National champion K. Srikanth went down fighting against China’s Xue Song 21-16, 19-21, 13-21 in the men’s singles final in 38 minutes.

Boniface hopeful

Bangalore: After being chosen for the prestigious Padma Shri award, wheelchair tennis player Boniface Prabhu on Sunday hoped to get clearance from the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

“I hope PCI takes note of my achievements, including the Padma Shri award, and selects me to represent India at Rio Olympics,” he said. “If PCI allows me to compete in Rio Paralympics, I will do my best to win a Gold and do my country proud,” said Boniface.

After participating at Atlanta Paralympics in 1996, he hasn’t played in any of the paralympics ever since, despite being the highest-ranked Indian player.

Chelsea go past Stoke

London: Jose Mourinho got something of a bittersweet birthday present when his Chelsea side beat Stoke City 1-0 in the FA Cup fourth round at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Chelsea are drawn to play Manchester City next.

Chelsea deservedly went ahead after 28 minutes with Oscar’s stunning free-kick that flew over the wall and high and wide of diving Stoke ’keeper Asmir Begovic. An outstanding creative performance from Eden Hazard in the midfield and Oscar’s goal seemed to justify Mourinho’s decision to allow Juan Mata to leave for Manchester United.

Barca, Atletico prevail

Madrid: Barcelona and Atletico Madrid climbed back to the top of La Liga as Barca coasted to a 3-0 victory at home to Malaga and Atletico won 4-2 at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday. The joint leaders have 54 points from 21 matches, with Barca ahead on goal difference. Real are lurking ominously on 53.

The Barca fans paid tribute to veteran midfielder Xavi before kick-off at the Nou Camp after he reached the milestone of 700 official games for the Spanish champions this month. Pique, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez were the scorers for Barca.

Arda Turan scored a brace, while David Villa scored one in Atletico’s 4-2 win over Rayo. Jonathan Viera and Joaquin Larrivey netted for Rayo, while Saul Niguez scored an own goal.

Test series

Auckland: New Zealand Cricket on Sunday named an unchanged squad that beat West Indies 2-0 in December for the two-match Test series against India starting February 6.

The most notable name missing was that of Martin Guptill, who struck his fifth ODI century in the tied third match against India on Saturday. Jesse Ryder will travel with the squad as cover for Ross Taylor. The India-born Ish Sodhi is also part of the squad.

The squads

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson

New Zealand XI: Peter Fulton (captain), Roald Badenhorst, Jono Boult, Anton Devcich, Tipene Friday, Jono Hickey, Shawn Hicks, Iain McPeake, Hamish Rutherford, Tim Seifert, Ill Tugaga, Henry Walsh

Cook to skip Windies tour

London: Captain Alastair Cook will sit out of England’s limited-overs tour of West Indies as the team prepare for the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March. Cook will not be part of the squad to the Caribbean, during which the visitors will play three ODIs and three T20Is starting February 28.

Asked if he would be captain against the West Indies, Cook said: “No, I won’t be. The Twenty20 guys have got their World Cup in Bangladesh and I think we see it as a great six weeks for them to start building the team.”

Our Bureau & Agencies