Cricket - Kohli softens stance on relationship with Australians

MUMBAI India captain Virat Kohli believes his post-match comments in Dharamsala regarding his friendship with Australian players has been "blown way out of proportion" and clarified they were directed only at a couple of individuals.

The hard-fought series witnessed plenty of acrimony, the most notable being Kohli's criticism of counterpart Steve Smith for gesturing towards his dressing room for guidance on whether to review an lbw decision in the second test at Bengaluru.

Bayern keeper Neuer out for two matches with foot injury

BERLIN Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will miss the club's next two league matches due a training ground injury that required minor surgery, the German champions said on Thursday.

Neuer underwent surgery on a foot injury late on Wednesday, ruling him out of their Bundesliga matches against Augsburg on Saturday and Hoffenheim on Tuesday, Bayern said.

The Bavarians, who are chasing a treble of titles this season, are 13 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with nine games left and are close to a record-extending fifth consecutive league crown.

Olympics - Host South Korea aims for record haul at 2018 Winter Games

South Korea has set a target of 20 medals at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, including at least eight gold, to finish in the top four of the medals table for the first time, according to a senior sports official.

If South Korea achieves its target at next year's Games, it will surpass its record gold tally of six at the 2006 Torino Olympics and at Vancouver four years later.

South Korea won a record 14 medals at Vancouver, taking six silver medals and two bronze to finish fifth overall.

Mid-season international friendlies don't make sense to Mourinho

Scheduling mid-season international friendlies alongside qualification matches makes no sense, says Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, after defenders Phil Jones and Chris Smalling picked up injuries on England duty last week.

Smalling started in England's friendly defeat in Germany but then had to pull out of the squad with a leg injury, while Jones suffered a toe injury in training.

With both players missing England's 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Lithuania, Mourinho questioned the need for friendlies during the domestic season.

Video referees set to drive major rule changes - IFAB

Video referees could help introduce key rule changes in 25 areas of the game such as awarding a penalty goal for a handball offence on the goal line, soccer's lawmaking body has said.

David Elleray, the technical director of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), said video assistant referees could trigger key changes to the handball rule to make the game fairer.

Cricket - Scoring runs will help captaincy, says England's Root

LONDON England's new test captain Joe Root will seek to bolster his leadership skills with big scores and has promised to ensure the side are better prepared to defend the Ashes in Australia than they were on the previous trip.

Root has emerged as England's batting mainstay since his debut in 2012 and took over as skipper last month after Alastair Cook stepped down from the role following the side's 4-0 loss in the five-test series in India at the end of 2016.

Rugby - Australian players' union launches Super Rugby petition

SYDNEY Australia's players' union has stepped up the battle to keep five Super Rugby sides from the country in the competition as organisers work on pushing through a raft of changes that could be introduced as early as next year.

Governing body SANZAAR, made up of the South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina rugby unions, have reached an agreement on modifications to the heavily criticised 18-team tournament but no details have been released.

Golf - World No.1 Johnson the player to beat at Augusta: Spieth

World number one Dustin Johnson is playing the "best golf in the world" and will start as the favourite to win the Masters next month, Jordan Spieth has said ahead of Thursday's Houston Open.

Johnson maintained his impressive form by winning the WGC-Dell Match Play in Austin last weekend to mark his third victory in as many starts in 2017.

Spieth, who has a victory and two runner-up finishes at Augusta in the last three years, said he would have to be on top form to defeat Johnson at the first major of year, which starts on April 6.

Cricket - Hodge apologises to Kohli over injury comments

MUMBAI Former Australia batsman Brad Hodge has apologised to Virat Kohli for comments suggesting the India captain missed the fourth test in Dharamsala to rest his injured shoulder ahead of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 campaign, starting next week.

Kohli was ruled out on the morning of the series-decider against Australia after failing to recover from the injury he sustained in the third test in Ranchi, leaving Ajinkya Rahane to lead India to an eight-wicket victory.

Rugby - Messam to reach 150th Super Rugby cap milestone

WELLINGTON All Blacks flanker Liam Messam will become the eighth player to make 150 Super Rugby appearances when the Waikato Chiefs face South Africa's Bulls in Hamilton on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Messam will become the sixth New Zealand player to reach the milestone.

Australian captain Stephen Moore and former Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe are the only non-New Zealand players to surpass the mark.