Formula One: Hamilton closes in on fourth world title with Japan win

Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2017
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Formula One: Hamilton closes in on fourth world title with Japan win

SUZUKA, Japan: Lewis Hamilton romped to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday to close in on a fourth world title after Sebastian Vettel retired with engine failure on lap four.
The Briton dominated from pole, steering his Mercedes to a crushing eighth win of the year, stretching his Formula One championship lead over Vettel to 59 points with just 100 left to play for.
“Honestly I could only have dreamed of having this kind of gap,” said Hamilton after holding off a late charge from Max Verstappen in Suzuka.
“The team has done a phenomenal job, they’re just so meticulous so a big thank you to the guys.”
The Red Bulls of Verstappen — who stunned Hamilton to win in Malaysia last week — and Daniel Ricciardo secured a double podium for the second successive race.
Valtteri Bottas finished fourth in the second Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari taking fifth and Esteban Ocon sixth for Force India.
Hamilton celebrated a fourth victory in Japan and a 61st career win with a ‘Mobot’ pose, a tribute to his friend Mo Farah, the Olympic champion athlete, who was watching trackside.
“Max drove an outstanding race and it got very close at the end,” said Hamilton.
“His car was looking so big in my mirrors. It wasn’t a walk in the park today. There’s still a long way to go,” added the Briton.
“Anything can happen in life so I have to keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this.”
Vettel’s title hopes, meanwhile, suffered a potentially fatal blow with four races left following nightmare start from the front row.
Ferrari mechanics worked frantically on the grid to fix a spark plug issue before lights out and Vettel was quickly complaining of a lack of power.
The German, who finished fourth in Malaysia and crashed from pole in Singapore before that, plummeted to sixth on the first lap before being told to retire the car as Hamilton roared away into the distance.
“It’s just a pity in the two races with the reliability issues,” said Vettel, who led the championship just six weeks ago.
“But now it’s important to get some rest and give my all for the last four races and see what happens.”
Ferrari, who have struggled with reliability issues since the summer break, later blamed the faulty spark plug for the car’s loss of speed.
“The misfortune of Ferrari is unbelievable,” said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “But Lewis drove a spectacular race.”
The warmer conditions were supposed to favor the Ferraris but Hamilton ruthlessly converted his record-breaking pole position by rapidly taking a stranglehold on the 53-lap race.
Verstappen raised pulses over the final two laps but ultimately his charge was too little too late to prevent a fourth successive Suzuka win for Mercedes.
Also in the points, Sergio Perez finished seventh for Force India ahead of the two Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean with Felipe Massa holding off Fernando Alonso’s McLaren to take 10th for Williams.


India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

Updated 19 September 2018
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India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup clash

  • Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan collapsing
  • Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday

DUBAI: India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.
Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all out in 43.1 overs at Dubai Stadium.
Skipper Rohit Sharma then struck three sixes and six boundaries in his 39-ball 52 while fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a six and six fours in his 54-ball 46 as India romped home in 29 overs.
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik both finished on 31 not out as India exacted some revenge for their humbling 180-run defeat against their arch-rivals in the final of the Champions Trophy in London last year -- the most recent match between the teams until Wednesday.
Both Pakistan and India had already qualified for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and will meet again in Dubai on Sunday.
Bangladesh and Afghanistan meet in Abu Dhabi in the last Group B match on Thursday, having already qualified for the second round after Sri Lanka crashed out.
The top two teams from the Super Fours will play the final in Dubai on September 28.
Once Pakistan's unpredictable batting crumbled, Wednesday's match turned into a damp squib for a near-capacity crowd comprising of Indian and Pakistani expats living in the United Arab Emirates.
Kumar ran through the top order by dismissing openers Imam-ul-Haq (two) and Fakhar Zaman (nought) inside five overs, before Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43) rebuilt the innings during their 82-run stand for the third wicket.
But after Azam was dismissed in the 22nd over, bowled by left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Pakistan lost their last seven wickets for 77 runs.
Azam hit six boundaries in his 62-ball knock while Malik, dropped on 26 by MS Dhoni off Hardik Pandya, cracked one six and one four in a vigilant innings which lasted 67 balls.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (six) became Jadhav's first wicket, holing out to long-on where substitute fielder Maneesh Pandey completed a brilliant catch, throwing the ball back into the field to avoid running over the rope and completing the catch.
But it was Malik's run out which derailed Pakistan, sent back by Asif Ali after setting off for a quick single.
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah took 2-23 but India lost all-rounder Hardik Pandya to injury.
Bowling his fifth over, Pandya fell in his follow through and was stretchered off with a lower back injury, the extent of which was being assessed by the India team's medical staff.