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Cricket - Irish women seek to rise in rankings : The Ireland women’s team will be out to improve their world ranking over the…

Cricket - Irish women seek to rise in rankings: The Ireland women's team will be out to improve their world ranking over the coming 12 days at the inaugural ICC Women's Cricket Challenge in South Africa, writes Emmet Riordan.

The event pits the teams ranked fifth to 10th in the world in 20- and 50-over matches and is designed to give more meaningful competitive action for those sides outside the traditional top four of England, Australia, India and New Zealand.

Ireland are ranked ninth, but a strong showing could see them move up ahead of next year’s World Cup qualifiers in Bangladesh.

With Heather Whelan taking a break from the game, Ireland will be captained by Ciara Metcalfe, who leads a young side that includes her Pembroke club-mates Kim Garth (14) and Louise McCarthy (16).

First up for Ireland today is an ODI clash against Pakistan in Potchefstroom, with 50-over matches to come against the West Indies, South Africa, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

India take five Commonwealth golds 

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: India flexed their sporting muscles to shoot up the medals table with five golds at the Commonwealth Games yesterday but organisational niggles continued to bedevil the event on the second day of competition.

A bomb scare in the athletes’ village luckily turned out to be hoax.

Day two of competition started well for the hosts with crackshot Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra teaming up with Gagan Narang to claim Indias first gold medal of the Games in the 10m air rifle pairs.

Elsewhere, Anna Meares retained her 500m time trial title to lead an Australian sweep of all three medals on the first day of cycling competition, while English swimmer Fran Halsall won a shock womens 50 metre butterfly gold and win her country’s first gold. England’s Liam Tancock struck gold in the very next race, the men’s 50m backstroke.

Robbie Renwick won Scotland’s first gold of the Games by a finger tip in the mens 200m freestyle.

Laxman helps India to pip Australia

CRICKET: VVS Laxman's unbeaten half-century helped India pull off a thrilling one-wicket win over Australia in the first Test in Mohali yesterday.

The Hyderabad batsman scored 73 runs off 79 balls and added 81 off 21.4 overs for the ninth wicket with Ishant Sharma (31).

India reached the 216-run target despite the best efforts of Ben Hilfenhaus, who took four for 57.

India had been pushed onto the back foot after Doug Bollinger’s two-wicket burst reduced them to 162 for eight at lunch.

Laxman and Ishant turned things around in the final hour, before the later was harshly adjudged lbw when 11 runs were required.

However, Laxman managed to see India home in the company of number 11 Pragyan Ojha

Barry captures first world points

TENNIS: IRISH teenager Sam Barry last night captured his first world ranking point in the adult pro ranks,  weeks after quitting the under-18 circuit.

Barry, who won three matches in the recent US Junior Open, won his opening match in the main draw of the ITF Futures event in Naples.

The Limerick 18-year-old, who defeated two opponents in the qualifying round of the Italian outdoor hardcourt event, yesterday saw off home player Stefano Napolitano 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Barry King and Daniel Glancy also advanced to the second round of the Naples tournament. Dubliner King beat Italy’s Daniele Pepe 6-3 6-0, and Mayo native Glancy edged Italian opponent Davide Melchiorre 2-6 6-4 6-4.

In the ATP Challenger Tour event in Mons, Belgium, Conor Niland went down in the opening round to Dutch player Ijor Sijsling 7-6 (5/7) 6-3.

Rebels dismiss Cipriani rumours

RUGBY: Melbourne Rebels have revealed Danny Cipriani was unable to attend a media day yesterday because he was still awaiting a visa before he can fly to Australia.

The new Super 15 franchise had hoped to unveil their star signing yesterday, but they downplayed any speculation the player may be reconsidering his options.

The club said they expected him to arrive Down Under in the next few days when the necessary paperwork is finalised.

Beijing blow as Sharapova suffers another early exit

TENNIS: Maria Sharapova suffered a second successive early exit after she was beaten in straight sets by fellow Russian Elena Vesnina at the Beijing Open yesterday.

Sharapova, the 12th seed, could only reach the second round before her 7-6 (7/3) 6-2 loss to the 63rd-ranked Vesnina, a week after she was beaten by 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm in the opening round in Tokyo.

Eighth seed Victoria Azarenka followed Sharapova out of the tournament after retiring due to a thigh injury when leading Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 2-3, while former world number one Ana Ivanovic built on her opening-round win over 11th seed Marion Bartoli as she beat Olga Govortsova 6-0 7-5.

The first round matches of the men’s draw were completed with top seed Novak Djokovic beating Chinese wild card Mao-Xin Gong 6-1 6-3. Second seed Andy Murray was similarly untroubled in beating qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 6-3.

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