Australia set India 294 for ODI victory

An Aaron Finch century hasn’t been enough to lift Australia past 300 in their do-or-die one-day international against India in Indore.

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Australia finished with 6-293 which the hosts will be confident of chasing down given the short boundaries and favourable batting conditions at Holkar Stadium on Sunday.

Finch, who missed the first two matches of the five-game series with a calf injury, smashed 17 boundaries including five sixes in his knock of 124 off 125 balls.

Australia must win to keep the series alive after slumping to 2-0 down with losses in Chennai and Kolkata.

With Finch and skipper Steve Smith at the crease Australia looked destined for a massive total.

But following their 174-run stand, the Australians stalled with tight Indian bowling restricting them to three boundaries in the final 11 overs.

Australia started strongly with Finch and Warner combining for a 70-run opening partnership.

But a Hardik Pandya off-cutter skidded through Warner’s defences and clipped the top of off stump with the Australian vice-captain on 42.

Smith was furious with himself after getting out caught at long-off from the final ball of Kuldeep Yadav’s ninth over for 63 off 71 balls, his second consecutive ODI half-century.

Glenn Maxwell (five) was promoted to No.4 in the batting order but failed to fire a shot, out stumped to Yuzvendra Chahal the ball after Smith was dismissed.

Travis Head (four) had his middle stumped knocked out of the ground by a Jasprit Bumrah slower ball as Australia lost 5-51 in the space of 10 overs.

That brought Peter Handscomb to the crease but he and Marcus Stoinis struggled to launch a meaningful assault on the bowlers in the death overs.

Marcus Stoinis finished with an unbeaten 27 off 28 balls but struggled to find the boundary when Australia needed it most.

Handscomb was out for three to an outstanding bit of fielding from Manish Pandey off the bowling of Bumrah (2-52).

Pandey took the catch at long-off as he was falling over the rope, threw the ball in the air and jumped back into the field of play to grab it on the second attempt.

Handscomb will take as wicketkeeper when Australia bowl following Matthew Wade’s axing.

Germany votes, history beckons for Merkel

Polling stations have opened across Germany in an election that is likely to see Chancellor Angela Merkel win a historic fourth term and a far-right party enter parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

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Some 61.5 million people are eligible to cast their ballots in the election in which Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) are expected to post a commanding lead over their centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) rivals.

Merkel’s conservative bloc is on track to remain the largest group in parliament, opinion polls indicated, but a fracturing of the political landscape may well make it harder for her to form a ruling coalition than previously.

With as many as a third of Germans undecided in the run-up to the election, Merkel and her main rival, centre-left challenger Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats (SPD), urged them to get out and vote.

“We want to boost your motivation so that we can still reach many, many people,” the chancellor, 63, said in Berlin on Saturday before heading north to her constituency for a final round of campaigning.

In regional votes last year, Merkel’s conservatives suffered setbacks to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which profited from resentment at her 2015 decision to leave German borders open to over one million migrants.

Those setbacks made Merkel, a pastor’s daughter who grew up in Communist East Germany, wonder if she should even run for re-election.

But with the migrant issue under control this year, she has bounced back and thrown herself into a punishing campaign schedule, presenting herself as an anchor of stability in an uncertain world.

Visibly happier, Merkel campaigned with renewed conviction: a resolve to retool the economy for the digital age, to head off future migrant crises, and to defend a Western order shaken by Donald Trump’s US election victory last November.

Both Merkel and Schulz worry that a low turnout could work in favour of smaller parties, especially the AfD. On Friday, Schulz described the AfD as “gravediggers of democracy”.

An INSA poll published by Bild newspaper on Saturday suggested that support was slipping for Merkel’s conservatives, who dropped two percentage points to 34 per cent, and the SPD, down one point to 21 per cent – both now joined in an unwieldy “grand coalition”.

The anti-immigrant AfD rose two points to 13 per cent, putting it on course to be the third-largest party.

Should she win a fourth term, Merkel will join the late Helmut Kohl, her mentor who reunified Germany, and Konrad Adenauer, who led Germany’s rebirth after World War II, as the only post-war chancellors to win four national elections.

The AfD’s expected entry into the national parliament is likely to herald an era of more robust debate in German politics – a departure from the steady, consensus-based approach that has marked the post-war period.

Too many X-rays done on kids, experts warn

Concerns have been raised too many unnecessary X-rays are being used on infants with common respiratory conditions like bronchiolitis and asthma.

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Medical experts are calling for a re-think of the procedure’s use in children as part of the latest recommendations of the Choosing Wisely initiative launched on Monday by NPS MedicineWise.

Emergency department physician Dr Sarah Dalton, RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President, says in some cases X-rays are happening “too frequently”, placing the child at harm.

“Unfortunately what we see is that so many of these children that come in to emergency departments with breathing problems and are having chest X-rays that doesn’t really change the treatment that we offer but it does put them at risk of the radiation that is associated with the X-ray and that is what we are trying to stop,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

Dr Dalton said very rarely does an X-ray change the treatment of a child with typical bronchiolitis – a common condition in babies where they get a virus that makes it hard to breathe.

An X-ray should always be ordered if a doctor suspects pneumonia, a complication of bronchiolitis, she said.

“But there really is only a very small number of children who when I listen to their chest I think they do need a chest X-ray, in most situations when we examine children with this kind of problem there is no indication of it being pneumonia and therefore they don’t really need the X-ray,” Dr Dalton told AAP.

“One of the studies showed that if you do 100 X-rays for children with bronchiolitis it will only change the treatment course for one child.”

Dr Dalton is calling on her fellow doctors to “pause for a second” before recommending an X-ray.

“The challenge is working out when they’re needed and when they’re not,” she said.

“For any parents who might be concerned about the idea that ‘less can sometimes be more’, I would say to them we want to make sure we are only ordering a test when it is medically beneficial for your child.”

The initiative is also advising against the use of X-rays for lower back pain in adults.

Another important focus of the newly-released Choosing Wisely recommendations is getting people back to work and doctors have asked not to certify a patient as totally unfit for work unless clinically necessary.

“Where appropriate we are encouraging willing patients to continue working in some capacity as part of their overall healthcare management,” said Associate Professor Peter Connaughton, President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Doctors have also been warned about prescribing opioids for the treatment of acute or chronic pain.

Hill runs prep Wallabies for the Highveld

The old-school fitness camp the Wallabies suffered through is set to pay huge dividends as they return to South Africa’s Highveld, assistant coach Mick Byrne says.

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Australia’s record at altitude against the Springboks is dismal, having won a total of just three times in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria – and only once in the last 54 years.

Coach Michael Cheika has suggested it is a purely mental roadblock that his players must overcome.

But they have also done the hard yards to ensure they can meet the physical demands of the challenge as well.

Cheika smashed his players with cardio in June and then again in the lead-up to Australia’s Rugby Championship opener last month, sending them on hill runs in Newcastle with their mouths taped shut as he pushed them past the point of exhaustion.

Former AFL ruckman Byrne said it will all come in handy when crunch time arrives during their clash with the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (AEST).

“I know (strength and conditioning) coaches will have a crack at me but it isn’t rocket science,” Byrne said.

“They talk about it being science but I didn’t have a lot of sports science around me when I played and we were able to get fit. It’s about hard work.

“Getting a good base of work, which we did in that August window, has set us up for the year really well.

“It’s going to be a help every week, but I guess if you’re looking for more oxygen and you’re not fit, you’re in trouble. If you’re fit you’ll be OK.

“We’re still not there, we’ve still got work to do but what we did in that window and how hard the players worked, we’ve seen some good results.”

Byrne acknowledged that the challenges of playing 1500m above sea level cannot be dismissed or simply talked down as something that both teams have to deal with.

“Obviously, you can’t hide away from the fact that altitude’s a different atmosphere,” he said.

“But I think the players adapt to it pretty quickly.

“The worst thing you can do is talk about it, so you just get on with it.

“We’ve put plans in place, we’ve come here, started our sessions this morning and just get on with our week.”

Sagan wins world title, Matthews third

Peter Sagan stayed quiet all day before timing his effort to perfection in the final sprint to become the first rider to claim three road race world championship titles in a row.

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The Slovakian surged ahead with less than 50 metres left when he pipped local favourite Alexander Kristoff to the line.

Australian Michael Matthews took third place after being boxed in during the lead-up to the sprint.

“It was not easy. It came down to a sprint, that was unbelievable,” Sagan said.

“I’m sorry (for the Norwegian fans) but I’m happy to be world champion again.”

It seemed that France’s Julian Alaphilippe and Italian Gianni Moscon would fight it out for gold when both jumped away from the leading group 11km from the line on the ascent to Salmon Hill, a 1.4-km effort at an average gradient of 6.4 per cent.

But they were eventually reined in and most of the top sprinters contested the win.

Sagan, who was kicked out of the Tour de France this year for sending Mark Cavendish crashing in a sprint, was clearly the strongest as he added to his titles in Doha and Richmond, Virginia.

Tim Wellens broke away with 70km left and was followed by seven riders — Spain’s David De La Cruz, Dutch Lars Boom, Italian Alessandro De Marchi, Colombian Jarlinson Pantano, Austrian Maro Haller, Australian Jack Haig and Norway’s Odd Christian Eiking.

They built up a maximum gap of 45 seconds as France tried to take control at the front of the peloton.

The break was ended 25 km from the finish after the peloton was split in the penultimate passage up to Salmon Hill.

In the final ascent, Alaphilippe burst away from the leading pack and only Moscon could follow as they opened up a 10-second gap.

They came up just short, though. The Frenchman contested the sprint but ended up 10th.

India clinch series with hat-trick of wins against Australia

Three of India’s top four batsmen scored 70 or more as the hosts chased down a 294-run victory target with 13 balls to spare for their third successive victory in the five-match series.

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Earlier, Aaron Finch smashed 124 on his return but Australia, cruising at 224-1 at one stage, suffered a mini-collapse to settle for 293-6 in the Holkar Stadium.

India’s ninth consecutive ODI win also ensured they are now the top ranked team both in tests and the one-day format.

Bangalore hosts the fourth match on Thursday.

Australia captain Steve Smith won the toss for the first time in the series and opted to bat first.

Openers Finch and David Warner give Australia a solid, if not spectacular, start with a 70-run stand as the tourists looked determined to preserve wickets.

Pandya bowled Warner for 42 but Finch and Smith added 154 runs for the second wicket with a 325-plus total looking well within Australia’s reach.

If Finch, who smacked five sixes and 12 boundaries in his nearly run-a-ball knock, plundered his runs, Smith accumulated them quietly, hitting five boundaries in his 63.

Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav dismissed both to trigger a collapse as Australia lost five wickets for 51 runs to fall short of the 300-mark.

India reached the 100 mark in 15 overs without losing a wicket with Rohit Sharma leading their robust reply with a blistering 71.

The opener smacked four sixes, one of them sailed over the stadium, as he and Ajinkya Rahane (70) scored 139 runs to take the hosts nearly halfway down the target.

India soon suffered a mini-collapse of their own, losing four wickets, including their openers and skipper Virat Kohli, for 67 runs.

Batting at number four, Pandya hit four sixes and five boundaries in his aggressive knock to take India close to victory.

Manish Pandey completed the formality with a quickfire 36 not out to see his side home.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Underdog Tigers embrace AFL GF hype

Richmond might be AFL grand final underdogs but they plan to embrace a huge week of hype and won’t be afraid to dream big.

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The Tigers are riding high after a stunning preliminary final win in front of nearly 95,000 – mostly Richmond – fans at the MCG, as they begin their preparations to face minor premiers Adelaide.

Star forward Jack Riewoldt knows how crazy the atmosphere can be around Punt Road Oval during the season and expects nothing less than fever pitch from the Tiger Army ahead of their first grand final since 1982.

“Just embracing it and not being afraid to talk about what could be,” Riewoldt replied when asked how they plan to handle the storm that’s about to hit Tigerland.

“The week is always going to be different, but we’re really excited and enthusiastic about it.

“Certainly we’re going into the game under no allusions … they’ve been the form side of the competition and we’re going to have to play right up to our best if we want to challenge them.

“They’re a great side, they played in two great finals in this series already and have done a number on the sides they’ve played against.

“We know that we’re going to have to play our best to take it up to them.”

Riewoldt admits he didn’t play well in Saturday’s preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney.

But it’s not all about him any more.

There was a time when the Tigers would have lost more games than they won if the club’s eight-time leading goal kicker had a quiet day like he did against the Giants.

The 28-year-old kicked his only goal of the preliminary final 18 minutes into the final term and finished with eight possessions and two marks.

“Let’s not beat around the bush – I didn’t play very well,” he said.

“But my role is completely different to what it has been in the past.

“Although I probably didn’t have the kicks, marks and handballs I like to think that I led from the front.

“I just tried to keep those younger guys in the game and provide them with (opportunities for) their strengths, which is getting the ball to ground.

“I didn’t have the greatest game but whatever the role the side wants me to play, I just try and play to my best ability.”

Brownlow destiny awaits superstar Tiger

In all likelihood Richmond superstar Dustin Martin will win the Brownlow Medal on Monday night.

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And teammate Jack Riewoldt will be on hand to help him celebrate what could be a taste of greater success to come.

The Tigers are gearing up for the premiership decider against Adelaide on Saturday and, as huge an honour as the Brownlow is, Riewoldt suspects Martin will have other things on his mind.

“We’ll go along, drink waters, and hopefully celebrate what is an individual achievement, but no doubt Dusty will speak about what it means to him and his teammates,” Riewoldt said.

“We’re really proud of the year he’s put together but there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge with that.

“There’s been some interesting things pop up in Brownlow nights past, but he’s had a fantastic year.”

Riewoldt is right – there have been some huge Brownlow boilovers throughout the storied award’s history.

But with nearest rival, reigning Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield, ineligible through suspension surely no one can touch Richmond’s raging bull.

Asked if there is any chance of an upset result, 1978 Brownlow Medallist Malcolm Blight flatly replied “no”.

Blight, now a Gold Coast board member, told AAP he still watches most games.

“I suppose I’ve watched him play 15 or 16 times – I reckon he (Martin) would get votes in 12,” Blight said.

“I get a feeling he might break the (votes) record, which would be quite outstanding.”

Fellow AFL legend Leigh Matthews suspects no player has had a good a season as Martin, who is expected to break the record for votes won.

Setting aside months of speculation about his future, Martin has run rampant with his famous ‘don’t argues’ and ball-gathering brilliance for a career-best year.

He convincingly won the AFL players association most valuable player award – the Leigh Matthews trophy – and the AFL coaches association award.

The players vote on the Matthews trophy and they demonstrated why Martin is the short-priced favourite.

He won with 1333 votes and Geelong star Dangerfield was well off the pace on 776.

TAB Sportsbet has Martin at $1.01, while Hawthorn onballer Tom Mitchell is next in the betting at a distant $9.

Adelaide vice-captain Rory Sloane and fellow midfielder Matt Crouch are seen as outside chances.

They will stay at home and attend a club Brownlow dinner ahead of the grand final.

Mass grave of 28 Hindus found in Myanmar: army

Thousands of Hindus have fled villages where they once lived alongside Muslims, alleging that they were targeted by militants whose August 25 raids plunged Rakhine into communal violence.

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The announcement could not be independently verified in an region where access has been tightly controlled by Myanmar’s army.

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“Security members found and dug up 28 dead bodies of Hindus who were cruelly and violently killed by ARSA extremist Bengali terrorists in Rakhine State,” a statement posted on the army chief’s website said.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) is the group whose attacks on police posts triggered an army backlash so brutal that the UN believes it amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.

More than 430,000 Rohingya have fled the region to Bangladesh in under a month, telling stories of Myanmar soldiers teaming up with vigilante mobs to slaughter civilians and burn entire villages to the ground. 

Around 30,000 Hindus and Buddhists based in the area have also been displaced by the violence. 

Both communities have told AFP they were terrorised by Rohingya militants.

Corpses in rows

The army said that security officers found a total of 20 dead women and eight men in two graves, including six boys under the age of ten.

A strong smell led security officers to the burial site outside of Ye Baw Kya village, the army said. 

Unverifiable photos published by the government’s Information Committee showed corpses laid out in rows on grass near two mud pits where they were found.

Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay confirmed the grim discovery to AFP, as did a senior police officer in Rakhine who requested anonymity. 

The village where the bodies were found, Ye Baw Kya, lies near a cluster of Hindu and Muslim communities in northern Rakhine called Kha Maung Seik.

Last week Hindus from the area told AFP that militants swept into their villages on August 25 with sticks and knives, attacking people who stood in their way, killing many and taking others into the forest.

Hindu women are believed to have been abducted by the militants.

The grim discovery of the graves will further fuel already white-hot hatred between ethnic groups in Myanmar.

The epicentre of the unrest, in northern Rakhine, is dominated by Rohingya Muslims who are a minority elsewhere and have been the target of decades of state-backed persecution and discrimination.

Around half of their estimated 1.1 million population has fled over the last year.

Northern Rakhine is also home to ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, Hindus and a myriad of other groups.

Religious tensions have simmered for years, erupting into sporadic bouts of violence. 

But the scale of the latest unrest is the worst to hit the region in years. 

While the wretched lines of Rohingya streaming into Bangladesh have shocked and alarmed the world, there is scant sympathy for the Muslim group inside Myanmar. 

Many in the Buddhist majority view the group as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite their long-established roots in the country.

Federer leads Team Europe to victory in first Laver Cup

Despite cruising through the first two days, the Europeans needed the last match to finalise the victory and show the dominance expected from a team featuring five of the world’s top seven players.

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Federer delivered in a tight 4-6 7-6(6) 11-9 win over world number 20 Nick Kyrgios, with the Australian pushing to the final point as he sought a win that would have forced an overtime doubles match to decide the tournament.

But Kyrgios squandered a chance at match point and then smashed the ball into the net to end the battle, spurring Federer’s European team mates, led by top-ranked Rafael Nadal, to leap off the bench and embrace the Swiss at the net.

“I was ready to go. I had to be. That is what a team member does. The boys played fantastic all weekend but we knew it could change very quickly on Sunday,” Federer said.

“I was looking at getting ready maybe for doubles at the end… But I got it done.”

An earlier victory from big-hitting German Alexander Zverev also helped fight off the last-day comeback from Team World, which entered the day 9-3 down after dropping six of the first eight matches.

With matches worth three points on Sunday – versus two on Saturday and one on Friday – the group battled back with Americans John Isner and Jack Sock downing Croatian Marin Cilic and Czech Tomas Berdych, who was playing in front of the hometown crowd at Prague’s O2 Arena.

The American duo limited the hard-serving Europeans to three aces in a 7-6(5) 7-6(6) victory.

Zverev, the youngest player in the top 10 at age 20, then faced Team World’s highest ranked player at number 16, Sam Querrey. He broke the American’s serve midway through the first set and never looked back en route to a 6-4 6-4 win.

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That left Nadal to face Isner, winless in six career meetings with the Spaniard. But the world number 17 rattled Nadal from the beginning and delivered a barrage of 23 aces and several forceful winners and drop shots.

“I walked to the court like I had absolutely nothing to lose and I just went for it,” Isner said.

Federer then played hero, battling back after dropping the first set to Kyrgios who had looked to keep Isner’s giant-killing momentum going.

The Laver Cup, named after Australian tennis hero Rod Laver, has won plaudits from the players. Matches were close despite fears they would be little more than an exhibition.

Federer and Nadal, the game’s top two players who split this season’s four grand slams, teamed up on Saturday, putting aside a long-running rivalry to play doubles competitively for the first time, giving fans an eagerly anticipated treat.

With next year’s play moving to Chicago, a John McEnroe-captained Team World will look to bounce back against Bjorn Borg’s Team Europe.

“We were so, so close to pulling this off,” McEnroe said.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet and Michael Kahn; Editing by Christian Radnedge)