Roger Alton

How Vegas became a sporting hotspot

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Anyone know the Hindi for schadenfreude? Who could have seen that coming: certainly not your correspondent, who had invested some time ago in India to win the Cricket World Cup. Not to be, sadly, and the red-hot favourites were given an absolute pasting in their own backyard by a team of unfancied Aussies who had lost both their opening games of the tournament.

It certainly disproves the Samson theory of sporting excellence: in days of yore a sportsman’s luxurious mullet (look at rugby’s Mickey Skinner, or football’s Frank Worthington and Stan Bowles) often meant a similar lush on-field display. But Travis Head – no longer sporting his bushy 1970s porn star ’tache – put paid to that notion with a match-winning ton as well as a stunning piece of athleticism in the field to catch Rohit Sharma, India’s captain, who could scarcely believe what he saw.

It capped a particularly tangy trophy presentation which the Indian players couldn’t be bothered to watch

India’s strongman Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t strike me as someone with a rip-roaring sense of humour, so it was pleasing to sense his fury as his national side choked at the end – and in a stadium named after him to boot. Looking as if he had just been slapped in the face with a wet fish, Modi handed Aussie skipper Pat Cummins the trophy and stomped off, leaving him alone on the podium as the fireworks went off.

It capped off a particularly tangy trophy presentation which the Indian players couldn’t be bothered to watch, sulking off to the dressing room while their fans booed the excellent (English) umpires, Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettleborough. But I expect I am not alone in feeling reasonably satisfied that one of the most arrogant sportsmen on the planet, Virat Kohli, for all his excellence, was left clutching a runners-up medal.

I may have been sceptical about the Las Vegas Grand Prix, but even the greats can get things wrong.

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