The players were sharing the same locker room and the lockers of the North Korean players were deliberately placed between those of their South Korean teammates so that they could become close quickly, according to Yonhap news agency.The Koreas fielded a single team to major sports events only twice, both in 1991. One event was the world table tennis championships and the other soccer’s World Youth Championship. But this is the first time they’ve assembled a single team for the Olympics.The Koreas explored how to cooperate in the Olympics after the North’s leader Kim Jong Un abruptly said in his New Year’s address that he was willing to send an Olympic delegation. As part of the rapprochement deals, the Koreas also agreed for their athletes to march together under a single flag during the Feb. 9 opening ceremony. Some experts say North Korea may want to use improved ties with the South as a way to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions.The International Olympic Committee has allowed 22 North Korean athletes, including the 12 hockey players, to compete in Pyeongchang in exceptional entries given to the North, which initially had none for the games. The 10 others will compete in figure skating, short track speed skating, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing. They will come to South Korea on Feb. 1.The joint hockey team deal has triggered a backlash in South Korea, with a survey showing about 70 percent of respondents opposing the idea because it would deprive South Korean players of playing time. The IOC-brokered agreement requires at least three North Korean players to suit up for each game, meaning that three from South Korea’s original roster cannot play in those games.ADVERTISEMENT View comments North Korean women’s ice hockey players arrive at the South Korea’s national training center, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Jincheon, South Korea. Twelve North Korean female hockey players have crossed the border into South Korea to form the rivals’ first-ever Olympic team during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games. (Song Kyung-Seok/Pool Photo via AP)SEOUL, South Korea — Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.A dozen North Korean hockey players wearing white-and-red winter parkas crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea earlier Thursday, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area.ADVERTISEMENT 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting The North Koreans traveled on to a national athletes’ village in southern South Korea, where they were welcomed by their South Korean teammates and Canadian coach Sarah Murray, who presented them flower bouquets in an outdoor welcoming ceremony.“I sincerely welcome your arrival,” Lee Jae-kun, head of the athletes’ village, told the North Koreans after they got off a bus.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutPark Chol Ho, a North Korean coach who arrived with the 12 athletes and two support staff, told reporters that he’s happy to team up with South Koreans. “I’m very pleased with the fact that North and South are united as one to participate in (the Olympics). I expect we’ll see good results if we unite our efforts … though we don’t have much time,” he said.The Korean players later shouted “We are one!” and took a group photo. North and South Korean players plan to practice separately for several days as Murray needs time to learn about the North Koreans. Read Next NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers Murray has said that the North Koreans’ hard-hitting style would make them suited to be her fourth line, a group of players who are typically asked to provide strong physical play in short bursts while giving their teammates with greater scoring responsibilities a chance to rest.Murray, who examined the North Koreans first hand during an event in Gangneung last year, has identified five players as memorable, but among them, only forwards Jong Su Hyon and Kim Hyang Mi made the trip for the Olympics.The unified Korean team will open their group action against Switzerland on Feb. 10. It will then face Sweden on Feb. 12 and Japan on Feb. 14. What draws attention is its Japan match, as many in both Koreas still harbor bitter resentment against Japan’s 35-year colonial rule that ended in 1945, three years before two different governments were formally established on the Korean Peninsula.Conservatives in Seoul have held a series of small-scale rallies in recent days. On Monday, activists burned Kim’s photo and a North Korean flag as the head of the North’s popular girl band passed by them during a visit to the capital. North Korea responded Tuesday by warning similar actions could disrupt ongoing reconciliation efforts.South Korean officials hope an Olympic-inspired mood of detente would serve as a stepping stone to the resumption of diplomatic talks that could slow down North Korea’s nuclear advancement. North Korea, however, has insisted it won’t discuss its nuclear program during its ongoing talks with South Korea, and some experts warn that tensions could flare again after the Olympics. Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles01:13US says it will resume talks with North Korea soon00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa D-League: Zark’s-Lyceum destroys AMA by 24 Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH MOST READ Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding LATEST STORIES
South Africa’s star batsman AB de Villiers has said that there would be a question mark on India’s number one ranking if they falter in the three-match series starting on December 16.”There’s been this feeling and stats show it, that their batters score bigger and they generally perform better at home, which is normal. This will be a big test for them. There’s always been the label that they struggle in South Africa,” de Villiers told The Independent. “If they don’t have success here, there’ll definitely be a question mark about their No. 1 ranking,” he said.De Villiers said he admires Sachin Tendulkar in the Indian team but hoped that the batsman does not strike form in the three-Test series starting in Centurion.”Sachin is a legend of the game and I will always look up to him and it’s great that he is here. It might be his last series in South Africa, so you’ve got to enjoy having the man around, but I’m hoping he doesn’t score too many hundreds.”The 26-year-old de Villiers has scored 4,540 runs in 63 Tests and has been a mainstay of South Africa’s batting line-up.De Villiers said the visitors would gain from having South African Gary Kirsten as coach but the hosts have quality bowlers to contain their much-vaunted batting line-up.”He (Kirsten) has got a lot of knowledge of conditions here. They’ll have all the necessary information. They are a class team and they gave us a run for our money the last time they were here. I back our seam bowlers. Dale (Steyn) and Morne (Morkel) will be big danger men. We are playing at home and we should know the conditions,” he said.advertisementDe Villiers, who had scored an unbeaten 278 against Pakistan in November, to become the highest scorer for South Africa in Tests, said “I would like to achieve a lot more. I have my goals now and I just want to go out there and win games for the team.”About his captain, the star batsman said, “I am the type of guy that needs a boost every now and then from the coaching staff and the captain. Graeme Smith’s always been there for me, backed me 100 per cent, even during the bad times,” he said.- With PTI inputs
Somdev Devvarman jumped 30 places to reach career best singles ranking of 80 in the ATP charts following his stupendous show at the SA Tennis Open, where he ended runner-up on Sunday.Somdev DevvarmanSomdev lost the summit clash to local favourite Kevin Anderson but earned 150 ranking points, that helped him climb the ranking ladder up.Somdev had broken into top-100 in August last year but kept floating inside and outside that bracket in the next few months.Comeback boy Karan Rastogi is the next best Indian at number 328.Meanwhile the re-united partners Mahesh Bhupathi (5) and Leander Paes (6) kept their rankings intact in the doubles chart.In the WTA ranking, Sania Mirza’s ranking was unchanged in both singles (135) and doubles (66).Poojashree Venkatesha was second best ranked Indian at number 514, a gain of 20 position, in the singles chart.
Kolkata won the toss and elected to field against PunjabWelcome to the coverage of the Indian Premier League 2014, Final between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders from the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore.Full IPL Coverage | Scorecard | Match Photos Kolkata Knight Riders defeated Kings XI Punjab by three wickets with three balls to spare at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Piyush Chawla is running all around the Chinnaswamy like he was a certain Usain Bolt! He has his bat in the air, raises his arms in triumph. SRK has the same pose too, but in a standing position. Can someone catch Chawla? No they can’t. So they wrestle him down to the ground. Everyone are falling on him. What a moment this is! Low full toss outside off and it’s carved away over point. Sweeper was nowhere to be seen and the ball slowly trickles away to the fence. As soon as the ball crossed the ropes, Chawla set off, running a victory lap. The Kolkata team tried to stop him, but looking at his run no-one could. What a chase and what a final to finish off the tournament. Kolkata richly deserved champions and for the 2nd time. Punjab are a devastated team, if that is right way to describe them. Lots of fireworks as Chinnaswamy Stadium sees all kinds of celebrations. Preity Zinta isn’t in tears, she manages to compose herself, though she looks very disappointed. A special innings from Manish Pandey, someone needed to produce an innings to topple Saha and it was upto the local boy – Pandey, who has been brought up on this wicket to provide it. Uthappa failed tonight, and that placed additional pressure on Pandey. But he showcased his skills at the right time and came good on the big stage. He took on each bowler and some of his big hits were a treat. advertisementPunjab picked wickets at regular intervals, but there were too many boundary balls given away. The asking rate wasn’t allowed to get to the opposition which is a credit to Kolkata as well. Karanveer Singh picked 4 wickets, showing what a nerveless performer he is, despite going for runs. Finally it was left to Chawla – who was a Punjab player for the first six seasons to deliver the knockout blow to his former side. Amidst all this, one shouldn’t forget that it was the 9th win in a row for Kolkata which keeps their winning streak alive going into next season.Kolkata are 2014 Indian Premier League champions!! 19.3 overs: FOUR!! Piyush Chawla takes it on the fulla and slices it over backward point for a boundary. Chawla SCORES THE WINNING RUNS for Kolkata!! Parvinder Awana will bowl the FINAL OVER for Punjab. It’s 5 runs off 6 balls for Kolkata!! With Piyush Chawla(9) and Sunil Narine(1) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 195/7 after 19 overs.TEN RUNS off the over!!18.6 overs: SIX!! Piyush Chawla rocks back and smashes it over deep midwicket for the maximum. That’s a CRUCIAL SIX for Kolkata!! With Piyush Chawla(2) and Suryakumar Yadav(3) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 185/6 after 18 overs.EIGHTEEN RUNS off the over!!Piyush Chawla comes to the crease for Kolkata.16.6 overs: That’s OUT!! Karanveer Singh has got Manish Pandey out caught at cover. Pandey was looking for the big shot but slices it high in the air for George Bailey to complete a simple catch. Manish Pandey departs after scoring 94 runs off 50 balls with seven boundaries and six sixes. BIG WICKET for Punjab!! With Ryan ten Doeschate(4) and Manish Pandey(77) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 161/4 after 16 overs.TEN RUNS off the over!!15.6 overs: FOUR!! Ryan ten Doeschate waits for it and crashes the cut past backward point for a boundary. Ryan ten Doeschate comes to the crease for Kolkata.15.3 overs: OUT!! Shakib Al Hasan has been run-out by George Bailey’s direct hit. Shakib punches it towards cover and sets off for a quick single while Bailey covers ground quickly and fires in a direct hit to catch him short at the crease. Shakib Al Hasan departs after scoring 12 runs off seven balls with two boundaries.15.2 overs: FOUR!! Shakib Al Hasan gets forward and hammers it towards long-on for a boundary. Miller ISN’T HAPPY with his effort!! With Shakib Al Hasan(8) and Manish Pandey(75) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 151/3 after 15 overs.NINE RUNS off the over!!14.6 overs: FOUR!! Shakib Al Hasan swivels across and scoops it towards fine leg for a boundary. CRUCIAL BOUNDARY for Kolkata!! advertisementWith Shakib Al Hasan(0) and Manish Pandey(74) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 142/3 after 14 overs.FOURTEEN RUNS off the over!!13.5 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey hangs back and pummels the pull shot over midwicket for a boundary.13.4 overs: SIX!! Manish Pandey gets a big stride forward and mauls it over long-on for the maximum. Pandey KEEPS THEM COMING for Kolkata!!Shakib Al Hasan comes to the crease for Kolkata.13.3 overs: That’s OUT!! Karanveer Singh has got Yusuf Pathan out caught at long-on. Pathan was looking for the big shot but holes out to Glenn Maxwell who takes it comfortably. Yusuf Pathan departs after scoring 36 runs off 22 balls with four sixes. BIG WICKET for Punjab!! With Yusuf Pathan(36) and Manish Pandey(62) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 128/2 after 13 overs.EIGHTEEN RUNS off the over!!12.6 overs: SIX!! Yusuf Pathan takes it on the full and sends it deep into the stands over long-on for the maximum. That went MILES IN THE AIR!! 12.2 overs: SIX!! Yusuf Pathan goes on the backfoot and heaves it over deep square leg for the maximum. Pathan has PUNISHED that one!! With Yusuf Pathan(17) and Manish Pandey(60) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 107/2 after 11 overs. 10.6 overs: SIX!! Manish Pandey clears his front leg and mauls it over the cow corner for the maximum. Pandey is playing a CRACKER OF AN INNINGS here!! 10.2 overs: SIX!! Manish Pandey rocks back and clouts the pull over deep midwicket for the maximum. That’s FIFTY for Pandey!!10.1 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey gets on top of it and swats it through extra cover for a boundary. With Yusuf Pathan(15) and Manish Pandey(42) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 87/2 after nine overs.FOURTEEN RUNS off the over!! 8.3 overs: SIX!! Yusuf Pathan stands tall and sends it over long-off for another maximum. Miller ALMOST GOT THAT ONE!! 8.2 overs: SIX!! Yusuf Pathan reaches out and slams it over extra cover for the maximum. That was HAMMERED by Pathan!! With Yusuf Pathan(2) and Manish Pandey(41) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 73/2 after eight overs.SIX RUNS off the over!!7.4 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey rocks back and smashes it over midwicket for a boundary. That went LIKE A TRACER BULLET!! With Yusuf Pathan(1) and Manish Pandey(36) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 67/2 after seven overs.EIGHT RUNS off the over!!6.2 overs: SIX!! Manish Pandey reaches out and smokes it over extra cover for a flat six. That was BEAUTIFULLY TIMED by Pandey!!Yusuf Pathan is the new man in for Kolkata Knight Riders.6.1 overs: OUT!! Karanveer Singh has got Gautam Gambhir out caught at long-on. Gambhir skips down the track looking for the big shot but mistimes it straight down the throat of David Miller who doesn’t drop those. Gautam Gambhir departs after scoring 23 runs off 17 balls with three boundaries. BIG BLOW for Kolkata!!First sign of spin, Karanveer Singh comes into the attack for Kings XI Punjab. advertisementWith Gautam Gambhir(20) and Manish Pandey(21) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 48/1 after five overs.SEVEN RUNS off the over!! 4.1 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey leans forward and thumps it back past the bowler for a boundary. CRACKING SHOT from Pandey!! 3.3 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey picks the length early and slaps it over midwicket for a boundary. First change, Parvinder Awana comes into the attack for Kings XI Punjab.With Gautam Gambhir(18) and Manish Pandey(6) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 31/1 after three overs.TWELVE RUNS off the over!!2.6 overs: FOUR!! Gautam Gambhir swivels across and hammers it through covers for a boundary. 2.1 overs: FOUR!! Gautam Gambhir presses forward and slices it through backward point for a boundary. With Gautam Gambhir(9) and Manish Pandey(5) at the crease, Kolkata Knight Riders are currently at 19/1 after two overs.NINE RUNS off the over!!1.1 overs: FOUR!! Gautam Gambhir reaches out and drills it through covers for a blazing boundary.Lakshmipathy Balaji will bowl from the other end for Kings XI Punjab.TEN RUNS off the over!!0.5 overs: FOUR!! Manish Pandey waits for it and flicks it through midwicket for a boundary.Manish Pandey comes to the crease for Kolkata.0.4 overs: That’s OUT!! Mitchell Johnson has got Robin Uthappa out caught at point. Uthappa goes for the drive on the up and sends it straight into the hands of Akshar Patel who takes it comfortably. Robin Uthappa departs after scoring five runs off three balls with a boundary. EARLY BLOW for Kolkata!!0.1 overs: FOUR!! Robin Uthappa leans into the drive and sends it scurrying through covers for a boundary. Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir are out in the middle for Kolkata Knight Riders while Mitchell Johnson will start the proceedings for Kings XI Punjab. Kings XI Punjab scored 199 runs at the loss of four wickets after batting first against Kolkata Knight Riders at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.That’s the END OF INNINGS for Punjab!!19.6 overs: David Miller punches it towards extra cover and steals a single.19.3 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha leans forward and drills it through extra cover for another boundary. Saha is ON FIRE here!!19.2 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha bends down and sweeps it towards square leg for a boundary.Umesh Yadav will bowl the FINAL OVER for Kolkata!! With Wriddhiman Saha(104) and David Miller(0) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 187/4 after 19 overs.SEVENTEEN RUNS off the over!!18.5 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha stands tall and smashes it over long-on for the maximum. That’s a BRILLIANT CENTURY for Saha!!18.4 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha rocks back and clouts the pull over midwicket for another boundary.18.3 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha takes it on the full and smacks it over square leg for the maximum.ELEVEN RUNS off the over!!David Miller comes to the crease for Punjab.17.6 overs: That’s OUT!! Piyush Chawla has got Glenn Maxwell out caught at short third man. Maxwell flays the reverse-sweep and sends it straight into the hands of Morne Morkel for a simple catch. Glenn Maxwell departs for a golden duck. BIG WICKET for Kolkata!!17.4 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha reaches out and slams it over covers for a boundary. With Wriddhiman Saha(62) and Manan Vohra(67) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 140/2 after 16 overs.NINE RUNS off the over!!15.5 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra stands tall and smashes it towards long-on for a boundary. With Wriddhiman Saha(60) and Manan Vohra(61) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 131/2 after 15 overs.TWENTY RUNS off the over!!14.5 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha goes for the pull and gets a top-edge over fine leg for the maximum. Morkel is OUT OF SORTS here!!14.3 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra hangs back and carves it over backward point for a boundary.14.2 overs: SIX!! Manan Vohra reaches out and slices it over third man for the maximum. With Wriddhiman Saha(51) and Manan Vohra(50) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 111/2 after 14 overs.NINETEEN RUNS off the over!!13.6 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra gets underneath it and sends it towards the cow corner for a boundary. That’s FIFTY for Vohra!!13.4 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha was looking to pull but gets an inside edge past the stumps for another boundary. That’s FIFTY for Saha!!13.3 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha waits for it and slaps it through square leg for a boundary.13.2 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha rocks back and tonks it over deep square leg for the maximum.With Wriddhiman Saha(36) and Manan Vohra(46) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 92/2 after 13 overs.TEN RUNS off the over!!12.6 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra shimmies down the track and steers it towards third man for a boundary. CLEVER CRICKET from Vohra!! With Wriddhiman Saha(33) and Manan Vohra(40) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 82/2 after 12 overs.FIFTEEN RUNS off the over!! 11.5 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha gets a big stride forward and smacks it over long-off for another maximum. BACK-TO-BACK SIXES for Saha!!11.4 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha skips down the track and sends it deep into the stands over long-off for the maximum.CRACKING SHOT from Saha!!With Wriddhiman Saha(21) and Manan Vohra(37) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 67/2 after 11 overs.NINE RUNS off the over!!10.5 overs: SIX!! Wriddhiman Saha picks the length early and smashes it deep into the stands over midwicket for the maximum. MEATY BLOW from Saha!! With Wriddhiman Saha(11) and Manan Vohra(30) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 50/2 after eight overs.FOURTEEN RUNS off the over!!7.5 overs: SIX!! Manan Vohra bends down and slogs it over the cow corner for the maximum. That was SMASHED by Vohra!! 7.2 overs: FOUR!! Wriddhiman Saha goes on the backfoot and slaps it towards deep midwicket for a boundary. Piyush Chawla comes into the attack for Kolkata Knight Riders. With Wriddhiman Saha(4) and Manan Vohra(23) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 36/2 after seven overs.FOUR RUNS off the over!! Shakib Al Hasan comes into the attack for Kolkata Knight Riders.With Wriddhiman Saha(2) and Manan Vohra(21) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 32/2 after six overs.EXCELLENT START by Narine, a big wicket and just two runs off the over!! Wriddhiman Saha comes to the crease for Punjab.The MYSTERY SPINNER strikes on his FIRST DELIVERY for Kolkata!!5.1 overs: OUT!! Sunil Narine has bowled George Bailey on a straighter delivery. Bailey walks down the track and misses the straighter one as the ball crashes onto the stumps. George Bailey departs after scoring just one run off two balls. Another BLOW for Punjab.First sign of spin, Sunil Narine comes into the attack for Kolkata Knight Riders. With George Bailey(0) and Manan Vohra(16) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 24/1 after four overs.THREE RUNS off the over!! George Bailey comes to the crease for Kings XI Punjab.3.4 overs: That’s OUT!! Umesh Yadav has got Virender Sehwag out caught at mid-off. Sehwag was looking to pull but mistimes it straight down the throat of Gautam Gambhir who doesn’t drop those. Virender Sehwag departs after scoring seven runs off 10 balls with a boundary. EARLY BLOW for Punjab!! With Virender Sehwag(5) and Manan Vohra(15) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 21/0 after three overs.SIX RUNS off the over!! 2.2 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra gets forward and flicks it through midwicket for a boundary. With Virender Sehwag(5) and Manan Vohra(9) at the crease, Kings XI Punjab are currently at 15/0 after two overs.SIX RUNS off the over!!1.6 overs: FOUR!! Virender Sehwag leans forward and drills it back past the bowler for a boundary. That was BEAUTIFULLY TIMED by Viru!! Umesh Yadav will bowl from the other end for Kolkata Knight Riders.NINE RUNS off the over!!0.4 overs: FOUR!! Manan Vohra goes for the drive and gets an outside edge towards third man for a boundary. Vohra was LUCKY there!! Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra are out in the middle for Kings XI Punjab while Morne Morkel will start the proceedings for Kolkata Knight Riders. TEAM NEWS: Punjab have David Miller, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson as the overseas players in their Playing XI. On the other hand, Kolkata will play Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Morne Morkel and Sunil Narine as the overseas players in their Playing XI today.TOSS: Kolkata Knight Riders won the toss and elected to field against Kings XI Punjab. What’s At Stake:It’s rematch of the first qualifier with Kings XI Punjab looking to avenge their defeat at the hands of their rivals Kolkata today. On one hand where Kolkata will looking to become only the second team – after Chennai Super Kings – in history to cinch the IPL title on two occasions, their counterparts Punjab will have their best chance to secure their maiden title this season.Both Kolkata and Punjab will be eager to secure their IPL 7 finals berth with a clinical win today. However, the losing team will have another shot to make the finals cut in the Eliminator match against the winner of Qualifier 2 between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.Road To Finals:Punjab: Preity Zinta’s ‘Red Devils’ have been one of the most entertaining teams in the IPL this season. George Bailey and his men clinched the top spot in the points table with a sensational 11 wins and a mere three losses out of 14 games they played. Despite losing the first qualifier to Kolkata by 28 runs, Punjab came back strong against IPL’s most successful team – Chennai Super Kings – to win the eliminator by 24 runs.Kolkata: Shah Rukh Khan’s Knight Riders witnessed some highs and lows during their journey in the IPL this season. Gautam Gambhir and his men secured the second spot in the points tally with nine wins and five losses out of 14 games they played. But, their most convincing win in this season came when it mattered the most, against a rival that was clearly touted as favourites. But, an all-round performance and a bit of luck helped Kolkata trample Punjab by 28 runs.Top Run Scorers(from):Punjab: With 552 runs, Maxwell sits pretty at the 3rd position in the runs chart while Sehwag has jumped to the 6th spot with 448 runs. Miller is not far back, at 7th place with 445 runs – meaning Punjab boast of three batsmen in the top-10.Kolkata: Robin Uthappa is in the form of his life with 655 runs, he is well placed to finish the tournament as the leading run scorer. The next best for Kolkata is Gautam Gambhir – with 309 runs he lies at a distant 22nd position.Top Wicket Takers(from):Punjab: Despite featuring in only 11 matches, Sandeep Sharma has earned a place in the top-10. He is 5th with 18 wickets while Akshar Patel, the find of the season for Punjab, lies just one spot below with 17 wickets.Kolkata: At 3rd position, Sunil Narine has been arguably the best Kolkata bowler on show. He has not just snaffled 20 wickets, but his overs have cost him a miserly 6.01 runs per over. There was some doubt if he could make it to the final but having decided against playing for the West Indies in the Test series against New Zealand, he will be very much there to lead Kolkata’s charge once again. Piyush Chawla is the next best bowler with 12 wickets, but he is at 17th spot. The figures only go on to show that Kolkata have not relied on a single individual but have performed as a team in their march towards the final.Head-to-Head Record:Overall: Kolkata and Punjab have faced each other 14 times in the IPL history wherein Kolkata have emerged victorious on 8 occasions while Punjab has won 6 times.2014 Season: Punjab trounced Kolkata in their first meeting at Abu Dhabi, but Kolkata came back strongly to beat Punjab twice during their 8-match winning streak this season.Kings XI Punjab:Perhaps the team to beat this year, Punjab are into their first final of the IPL. Already boasting of a devastating batting line-up, George Bailey’s men look to have all the ingredients required to annex the trophy.The batting has been powerful, the bowling more than decent and has been backed up by some electric fielding – all factors contributing to their success so far.Kolkata Knight Riders:If Punjab are bristling with talent, complete team effort has been the reason for the surge in Kolkata’s ranks. Looking down and out at one stage of the tournament, Kolkata bounced back in spectacular fashion, reeling off seven wins in a row to make it to the playoffs.Supported vociferously by the partisan home-crowd, they romped home against their final opponents in fine style to book an automatic slot in the summit clash. While the batting has been solid, largely led by Robin Uthappa, the bowlers have gelled well as an unit.Key player to watch in today’s crucial tie:Glenn Maxwell: The million-dollar man last season, Maxwell was snatched by Kings XI Punjab for a whopping Rs 6 crore this year. The 25-year-old is a terrific all-rounder to have in your side. He can bowl right-arm off-spin and bat anywhere in the middle-order. He shot to fame after smashing a 19-ball half-century in 2009-10 – the fastest fifty in Australia’s domestic cricket. His most recent antics of 33-ball 74, the third fastest fifty in T20 internationals, shows his batting prowess. He will have to play a key role if Punjab intend to clinch their first IPL title this year.Sunil Narine: The mystery spinner from West Indies, Sunil Narine, was been one of the most influential players for the KKR during their victorious IPL campaign in 2012. Narine was also the highest wicket-taker for KKR with 22 wickets in 16 matches last season. His exemplary performances also helped him in bagging the Player of the Tournament award in 2012. His ability to bowl tidy overs in pressure situations gives an edge to KKR’s bowling department.David Miller: The 24-year-old South African, aka ‘Killer Miller’ in IPL, is as explosive as they come in limited-overs cricket. After making a name for his power-hitting, Miller has turned into a gruesome strokeplayer in modern-day cricket. His ability to play a wide range of strokes, both off the front and backfoot has earned him quite a reputation in international cricket. Miller was also one of the most entertaining batsmen in the IPL last season. The young South African took the IPL by storm after scoring 418 runs with 28 fours and 24 sixes for Kings XI Punjab in 2013. The performance impressed his team owners to such an extent that he became one of the only two players to be retained by KXIP ahead of 2014 IPL auctions.Gautam Gambhir: Indian opening batsman, Gautam Gambhir, was one of the most consistent performers for KKR last season. The skipper, while leading from the front, helped Kolkata to it’s first-ever IPL title victory in 2012. The left-hander was also the highest run-scorer with 406 runs in 16 matches last season. Apart from being a devastating batsman, Gambhir is an active and responsible skipper on field.Robin Uthappa: The 27-year-old explosive batsman was the top run-scorer for now-defunct Sahara Pune Warriors with 405 runs in 16 matches in 2012. He is an outstanding fielder, a reliable wicketkeeper and can even bowl slow medium pace. Following the termination of Pune Warriors in 2013, Uthappa was bought for a whopping Rs 5 crore by Kolkata Knight Riders during the IPL auctions this year. His availability in the team will provide the much-needed balance at the top-order for Kolkata.Teams(from):Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey(c), Mitchell Johnson, David Miller, Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Gurkeerat Singh, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Thisara Perera, Akshar Patel, Karanveer Singh, Wriddhiman Saha(wk), Murali Kartik, Shivam Sharma, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Sandeep Sharma, Parvinder Awana, Anureet Singh, Shardul ThakurKolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir(c), Robin Uthappa(wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Suryakumar Yadav, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Sunil Narine, Vinay Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Jacques Kallis, Manvinder Bisla, Kuldeep Yadav, Veer Pratap Singh, Chris Lynn, Andre Russell, Sayan Mondal, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das
Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri celebrates after scoring his side’s 2nd goal. (AP Photo) Xherdan Shaqiri scored all three goals to put Switzerland into the second round of the World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Honduras. The Swiss will next face Lionel Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in Sao Paulo. Shaqiri scored his first goal in the sixth minute, dribbling into a crowd of defenders and curling a shot into the net off the underside of the crossbar. In the 31st, he collected a pass from Josip Drmic after a defensive error and easily beat Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares. Shaqiri completed his hat trick in the 71st. Drmic did well to beat Honduras defender Victor Bernardez on the left and pass to a charging Shaqiri, who one-timed his shot past a diving Valladares. Lineups: Honduras: Noel Valladares; Brayan Beckeles, Victor Bernardez, Maynor Figueroa, Juan Carlos Garcia; Oscar Boniek Garcia, Jorge Claros, Wilson Palacios, Roger Espinoza; Carlo Costly, Jerry Bengtson. Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Johan Djourou, Fabian Schaer, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami, Gokhan Inler, Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, Admir Mehmedi; Josip Drmic.