Sports UPDATE

Saina, Kashyap win in China Open

Shanghai: Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap advanced to the second round but it was rising shuttler Arundhati Pantawane who emerged as the star of the day as she registered a stunning victory over higher-ranked Japanese Eriko Hirose in the opening round of the China Super Series Premier here on Wednesday. Ranked 47th in the world, Arundhati outclassed World No. 14 Eriko 21-14, 21-18 in a first round clash that lasted less than half an hour. The Japanese was a runners-up at the 2011 All England and 2012 Japan Open. For top shuttler Saina, it was a relatively easy round as the sixth seed Indian overcame Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-14, 21-19 in a 39-minute opening match, while world number 12 Kashyap recorded his fourth victory over the eighth seeded Thai Boonsak Ponsana when he beat him 22-20, 21-15 in men’s singles opening round match that lasted 46 minutes. However, Anand Pawar could not get rid off Takuma Ueda of Japan and lost 21-18, 10-21, 11-21 in the first round of the men’s singles competition. Ajay Jayaram also failed to cross the first hurdle, suffering a 18-21, 19-21 loss to Wan Ho Son of Korea in a 45-minute match. The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy B lost in the opening round 14-21, 6-21 to Russian combo Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov. (PTI)

Anand salvages bad position for 4th draw

Chennai: Defending champion Viswanathan Anand survived by the skin of his teeth, steering the fourth game of the World Chess Championship to a gruelling draw against Magnus Carlsen of Norway here on Wednesday. With eight games still to come in the 12-game affair, the scores are tied at 2-2 and the battle is really heating up if the last two games are any indication. Anand was pushed to the wall for the first time in the match and this happened soon after he was seen pressing for a win in the third game that ended in a draw on Tuesday. It also showed that Carlsen has steely nerves. The Norwegian also changed his opening with black and it turned out to be a good ploy after his Caro Kann in the first black game. (PTI)

I have no plans to call it quits: Misbah

Karachi: Pakistan’s under-fire Test and ODI captain Misbah-ul-Haq refused to bow to pressure on Wednesday, insisting that he would continue to play at the international level as long as his form and fitness permitted him. “I have no plans to call it quits despite the recent disappointing results in Tests and one-dayers in Zimbabwe and against South Africa,” Misbah told reporters in Lahore after meeting with chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s interim management committee, Najam Sethi. “I will continue to play as long as I can do justice to myself and my team,” he added. Misbah, 39, also reacted calmly to remarks passed by a member of the PCB governing board, Shakeel Sheikh in which he said that what could one expect when a team of lions was led by a jackal. “Everyone has to remember that cricket is a team game and no one player can be expected to perform all the time. Unless all the players chip in it is difficult to win,” Misbah said. “Our batting has been a major concern for us in recent times and it is letting us down time and again. We shouldn’t be expecting one or two people to score and the rest to do nothing and yet win,” he said. Pakistan are set to go through a period of transition as it was announced, on Tuesday, that coach Dav Whatmore will not continue with the team once his contract expires in February. He and the PCB failed to reach an agreement to extend his contract, the board said on Tuesday. (PTI)

Venus Williams to play at Hobart WTA

Sydney: Venus Williams is set to play in the Hobart WTA International in January, organisers said on Wednesday. The seven-time Grand Slam champion, now ranked 48, will be making her first appearance in the tournament in the run-up to the Australian Open in Melbourne. “The tournament is played on the same surface as the Australian Open, so it will be a great place to get some good match practice against tough opponents before I head to Melbourne,” Williams said in a statement. She will join Australia’s former US Open champion Sam Stosur in the event from January 5-11. (IANS)

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