12 Dec 2019

Today's sports news: what you need to know

11:35 am on 12 December 2019

Latest - All Whites midfielder Sapreet Singh failed to get on the field as his German club Bayern Munich completed Champions League group play with a 3-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.

Sapreet Singh in action for Bayern Munich.

Sapreet Singh Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Singh was named on the bench for what would have been his debut in the competition.

Both sides had already secured their places in the last 16.

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus netted a superb hat-trick as they came from behind to beat Dinamo Zagreb 4-1 in Croatia.

Italian side Atalanta and Spanish club Atletico Madrid grabbed the last two spots in the knockout round.

Group winners: Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Leipzig, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris St-Germain, Valencia.

Runners-up: Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Lyon, Napoli, Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur.

Test cricket returns to Pakistan

Rain has affected the opening day of the first cricket Test to be played in Pakistan in 10 years.

Dimuth Karunaratne

Dimuth Karunaratne Photo: Photosport

After deciding to bat first in Rawalpindi, Sri Lanka ended the day on 202 for 5 with just 68 overs possible.

The two-match series marks Pakistan's first tests on home soil since the attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore a decade ago and the current touring side have been promised watertight security during the visit.

Dimuth Karunaratne and Oshada Fernando put on 96 runs for the opening wicket before the tide turned in favour of the homeside.

Pakistan's 16 year old fast bowler Naseem Shah led the hosts' recovery with two wickets.

Whyte cleared to fight

British heavyweight Dillian Whyte has been reinstated as WBC interim champion and will get a mandatory shot at the title currently held by Deontay Wilder.

Dillian Whyte celebrates his win.

Dillian Whyte Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The decision comes five days after the UK Anti-Doping agency withdrew a charge against the 31-year-old Whyte for a doping violation and follows a WBC investigation.

The WBC said it found no sufficient or conclusive evidence that Whyte intentionally took a banned substance with the aim of enhancing his performance.

Whyte won the title on July 20 by beating Colombian Oscar Rivas but the WBC provisionally suspended recognition of his status as interim champion 10 days later over an irregular urine sample he had provided out-of-competition in June.

Wilder is set for a rematch with mandatory challenger Briton Tyson Fury in February after their last clash ended in a draw.

Whyte will become the mandatory challenger after that fight.


Kohli leads the way again

India captain Virat Kohli led a six-hitting fest against the West Indies during a blistering unbeaten knock of 70 off 29 balls, guiding his team to a 67-run series-clinching victory in the third and final Twenty20 international in Mumbai.

Asked to set a target in the decider at Wankhede Stadium, the hosts batted the Caribbean side out of the contest with an imposing total of 240 for three from their 20 overs.

In reply, the twice world champions in the format finished on 173 for eight with captain Kieron Pollard top-scoring with 68 from 39, his innings studded with six sixes and five fours.

Kohli smashed seven sixes in his knock.

The sides will next play three one-day internationals, beginning with the first match at Chennai on Sunday.


Barty named player of the year

Australia's Ash Barty has been named WTA Player of the Year after capturing her maiden Grand Slam singles title and reaching the top of the world rankings.

World number one Ashleigh Barty has been eliminated at Wimbledon.

Ash Barty Photo: Photosport

The 23-year-old, who quit tennis to play cricket in 2014 before returing to the game in 2016, became the first Australian to win the French Open since Margaret Court in 1973 when she beat Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in June.

She also won the prestigious Miami title and became the first Australian woman to reach the WTA World number one ranking since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

Barty's 57 match wins this year was the most by any player.

Bianca Andreescu took the newcomer award after winning the U.S. Open to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title, while Swiss Belinda Bencic was named "comeback player of the year" after regaining her place in the top 10.


Ferguson should play

The Black Caps are being urged to take a four pronged pace attack into today's first test against Australia in Perth, with former international turned commentator Ian Smith calling for a test debut for fast bowler Lockie Ferguson.

Lockie Ferguson playing for Auckland.

Lockie Ferguson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ranked second in the world, the Black Caps have built their rise up the Test standings on the back of team stability in their seven-straight undefeated series.

They have two of the best exponents of swing bowling around in Trent Boult and Tim Southee, while Neil Wagner is an effective quick while Mitchell Santner is a developing finger spinner.

But Ferguson's possible Test debut is therefore likely to rely upon the fitness of Boult, who is still battling to overcome a side strain for the series opener.

However Smith says Ferguson should play regardless, after regularly bowling at speeds of close to 150 km/h during the one-day World Cup.

Fan support for Brave Blossoms

Thousands of fans lined the streets of Tokyo yesterday to cheer parading members of the Japan rugby team who made history at their home World Cup earlier this year, reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.

Japanese rugby fans, 2019.

Japan rugby fans Photo: PHOTOSPORT

As he did during the tournament, captain Michael Leitch led from the front as the players, dressed in black suit and tie, walked slowly along the parade route.

Event organisers said that approximately 50,000 fans lined the route, taking photographs and screaming the names of their favourite players.

"We've managed to make a big impact," Leitch said, pointing to the massed fans.

"I'm very happy about this."

The team's sponsor, Taisho Pharmaceutical, announced earlier on Wednesday that each of the Brave Blossoms and staff would receive a $28,000 performance bonus, twice the amount they received following the 2015 World Cup.


Woods to play on opening day

Captain Tiger Woods will kick off the United States' bid for an eighth successive win in the Presidents Cup when he combines with Justin Thomas in the opening match of the fourballs at Royal Melbourne today.

Woods and fellow former world No.1 Thomas meet Australian Marc Leishman and tournament debutant Joaquinn Niemann as the Americans look to put down a marker against the International team, which represents the rest of the world minus Europe.

Woods gave Dustin Johnson, who is on the comeback trail from a knee injury, a vote of confidence by naming the long hitter in a pair with Gary Woodland in the last of Thursday's five fourball matches.

They will meet Mexican debutant Abraham Ancer and major winner Louis Oosthuizen.

Woods is only the second playing captain in the 25-year history of the tournament. Hale Irwin, who led the United States to victory in the inaugural edition in 1994, was the first.

Woods said his assistant Steve Stricker would take over his captaincy duties while he was on the course.


Stokes should be fit for Proteas

All-rounder Ben Stokes is confident he will be fit to bowl in England's upcoming five-test series in South Africa after undergoing scans on his troublesome left knee.

Stokes felt pain during the opening day of the second test against New Zealand and did not bowl again that day, though he did return later in the match to bowl a further 25 overs.

"I got some scans when we got back in England and there's nothing really showing up on the MRI scans, which is good news," the 28-year-old told British radio station TalkSport.

"I just need to toughen up I guess but it's alright and it's just treatment now. I will be fine to bowl."

Stokes had surgery to repair torn cartilage in the same knee in 2016. The first test of the series begins at Centurion on Dec. 26.


Afghan takes over at Afghanistan again

Former Afghanistan cricket captain Asghar Afghan has been brought back to replace Rashid Khan and lead the team in all formats.

Leg-spinner Rashid, 21, was named captain for all formats with Afghan as his deputy in July after a dismal run at the 50-over World Cup in England.

Afghan, 31, who led his country to a maiden test win against Ireland this year, has been a regular member of the team since 2009 and was reinstated at the helm with Rashid demoted to vice-captain.

Under Afghan's leadership, the country won full membership status from the International Cricket Council and qualified for the 2019 World Cup but in a surprising move he was removed from the position less than two months before the tournament.

Afghanistan lost all nine of their matches at the World Cup in England and finished at the bottom of the standings.


Italian takes charge of ATP

Italy's emerging influence in the sphere of world tennis was underlined as Massimo Calvelli was confirmed as the new chief executive of the men's Tour's governing body the ATP.

The 45-year-old, formerly in charge of sports brand Nike's marketing division, will take up his post on Jan. 1, the same day as new chairman and fellow Italian Andrea Gaudenzi.

Briton Chris Kermode has combined the two roles since 2013 but failed to garner enough support in May from the ATP Player Council -- headed by Novak Djokovic -- and will stand down at the end of December.

An ATP statement said Calvelli was the "unanimous choice" of the ATP Board of Directors.

Italy will host the ATP Finals from 2021 in Turin, the city taking over from London which has had great success since 2009 in staging the event featuring the world's top eight players.