Middlesex to get Malinga
Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga is to play for Middlesex in English county cricket’s Twenty20 competition, the club announced on Thursday. The 28-year-old, whose unusual “slingshot” action makes him difficult to face, is one of the world’s leading limited-overs bowlers and is currently the leading wicket-taker in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League, having taken 20 scalps for the Mumbai Indians. Malinga’s international commitments mean he will be unavailable for Middlesex’s opening three T20 matches against Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, but he is down to lead the attack in its final seven group games. His first appearance for Middlesex is due to be against Essex at Lord’s on June 21.
Coyotes to host Kings
The National Hockey League’s (NHL) conference finals begin this weekend, when the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes host the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings. The teams face off in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference final in Arizona tomorrow. Phoenix will also host Game 2 on Tuesday, before the series shifts to Los Angeles. The Eastern Conference final, which will feature the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils versus either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals, starts on Monday, with Game 2 on Wednesday. If the top-seeded Rangers beat the Capitals in Game 7 of their East semi-final at Madison Square Garden tonight, they will host the Devils in the first two games. If the seventh-seeded Capitals win, the Devils will host the opening two games of the series.
Ding Ning replaces Guo Yan
World No. 1 Ding Ning will replace Guo Yan in China’s table tennis women’s team for this year’s London Olympics, the sport’s world ruling body said. Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yan had originally sealed the two spaces available in the singles by virtue of their world rankings after occupying the top two spots in June last year, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) said. However, with Guo suffering from an undisclosed injury, the 21-year-old Ding, who took over the top ranking in November last year, will join Li in the singles and team events at the London Games, which take place from July 27 to Aug. 12. Each International Table Tennis Federation member association is permitted a maximum of two players by ranking in the singles and three in the team event. Guo Yan’s place in the team event will be taken by former world champion Guo Yue. Ding, who captured last year’s world singles title in Rotterdam, has risen from third to first in the rankings over the past year.
Blackburn plot return
Blackburn Rovers will instigate a number of changes in the coming months as they plan to fight their way back into the Premier League at the first attempt, the club’s unpopular Indian owners Venky’s said. Since the Indian poultry giant’s US$37 million takeover in November 2010, the club have struggled on the pitch, leading to regular fan protests as the 1995 Premier League champions failed to stave off the drop to the Championship. Blackburn’s relegation was confirmed with a 1-0 home defeat by Wigan Athletic on Monday, but B. Balaji Rao, a director and member of the family that owns Venky’s, is confident the club will quickly return to the elite group. “We were certainly not expecting to be relegated. It was the saddest bit of news for me since my mother passed away,” Rao said yesterday. “But we will bounce back within a year.”