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Dhoni and boys eye to regain their lost pride

CSK will step into the new season with many changes, as their top order batsman Shane Watson retired from all forms of cricket following last year’s IPL, and also because the team opted not to retain spinner Harbhajan Singh.

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‘We will come back strong. That’s what we are known for,” MS Dhoni had said after Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) final match last season in UAE. Having failed to qualify for the playoffs of the Indian Premier League for the first time, the intent to come back strongly was clearly visible. Despite witnessing a dismal run in the last season, CSK will still enter the 2021 edition of the IPL as one of the favourites, given the franchise’s track record on Indian soil. Not to forget the experience the side has at its disposal.

The team will step into the new season with several changes as Shane Watson retired from all forms of cricket following last year’s IPL while CSK opted not to retain Harbhajan Singh. Despite the absence of these two, CSK still has surfeit experience in the squad. Also, the Dhoni-led team will see the return of Suresh Raina, who had missed the last edition of the tournament. Raina’s return will bolster the team’s batting line-up.

In the mini-auction, held in February, CSK went all out for all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham. The franchise bought the player for a whopping Rs 9.25 crore, making him the most expensive uncapped Indian player at the mini-auction. Also, in the absence of Harbhajan Singh, CSK had to add an experienced spinner to the team, and the team ironed that problem out with the addition of Moeen Ali.

The team also has Sam Curran and Shardul Thakur and both of them will be brimming with confidence as they were at their best in last month’s ODI series between India and England. Hence, the duo will look to continue with their recent form, heading into the IPL.

On paper, CSK’s squad looks solid. However, while many players have been in action recently in some or the other tournaments, the stumbling block for the team will be the lack of game time for players like Dhoni, Jadeja, Raina. Dhoni and Raina retired from international cricket last year while Jadeja is returning from an injury setback. Given that these players form the core of the team, Dhoni, Raina and Jadeja finding rhythm as soon as possible will be the key or else it could scupper their plans.

South Africa’s Faf du Plessis has also been a very consistent performer for the side. The batsman was the highest run-getter for CSK last season, amassing 449 from 13 matches. Another South African, Lungi Ngidi, will also give strength to the team with his lethal bowling. The pacer’s stats in the shortest format of the game is quite impressive.

Ngidi has 28 wickets under his belt for South Africa from 16 T20I matches, with the best figures of 4/19. The same dominating performance was on display in the last edition in which he scalped nine wickets from only four matches. However, CSK will be without the service of Josh Hazlewood in the upcoming edition as the Australian pacer pulled out of the tournament earlier this month.

In the mini-auction, the franchise also picked Cheteshwar Pujara, who last played an IPL match in 2014, bringing the batsman on board for Rs 50 lakh. Moreover, Ruturaj Gaikwad earned a lot of praise after his remarkable debut in the last season of the IPL. Gaikwad fell early in the first three outings before scoring 65 not out against Royal Challengers Bangalore, 72 against Kolkata Knight Riders and 62 not out against Kings XI Punjab (renamed Punjab Kings) to sign off on a high.

But most importantly, the tournament is back on Indian soil and nothing like watching Dhoni marshal his resources on low and slow turners.

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INDIA OPEN 2021 POSTPONED DUE TO SURGE IN COVID CASES

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Badminton Association of India (BAI) General Secretary Ajay Singhania on Monday announced that the upcoming India Open 2021 has been postponed due to the upsurge in coronavirus cases here in the national capital.

“After consulting BWF we have decided to postpone the India Open 2021 due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in Delhi and a new week-long lockdown which will be in effect from 10 pm today. The situation is not suitable to organise the tournament. It is sad that this tournament is getting cancelled for the second time. We are sure that we will host this tournament whenever the situation gets better,” Singhania said at the virtual press conference.

“Considering the current challenges, BAI is left with no option but to announce the postponement of the tournament for the time being. We had an entry of 228 players and close to 300 people gathering including coaches, support staff and officials and the circumstances are such that the 2021 edition of the Yonex-Sunrise India Open seems, for now, a very risky affair,” he said.

“Several rounds of discussions were held with BWF as well as the Delhi Government and other stakeholders and accessing the safety of players and officials, BAI needed to take this decision,” he added.

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Roger Federer confirms his participation in French Open

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Swiss tennis maestro Roger Federer has confirmed that he would be participating in this year’s French Open.

Taking to Twitter, Federer wrote: “Hi everyone! Happy to let you know that I will play Geneva and Paris. Until then I will use the time to train. Can’t wait to play in Switzerland again.” Earlier this month, the French Open organisers had informed that in agreement with the French public authorities and the governing bodies of international tennis, the French Tennis Federation made the responsible decision to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by one week, which will now be held from May 24 to June 13.

In his latest speech on March 31, the French President announced that a schedule to progressively get cultural and sporting events back up and running would be set up from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation.

“Using this as their starting point, the FFT worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the relevant government services on potential scenarios for organising Roland-Garros, while taking the international sporting calendar into account,” read a statement from organisers. ANI INPUTS

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RESURGENT MUMBAI GEARING UP TO TAKE ON IN-FORM DELHI

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Defending champion Mumbai Indians (MI) are all set for the big battle as they take on in-form Delhi Capitals (DC) at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday.

MI will need to address their middle-order woes if they are to go for a third consecutive win. Delhi, fresh after beating Punjab Kings by six wickets at the Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, have recorded back-to-back victories by defending low totals.

MI skipper Rohit Sharma has got starts and he would be keen to convert it into a big one and so would be Quinton de Kock. The team has a stellar lineup with the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and his brother Krunal—each of them can decimate the opponents on their day. Sadly, for MI, they are yet to fire on all cylinders. No wonder, after the last game, Rohit had conceded that his team “can bat a little better in the middle overs”.

The MI bowlers, led by pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, have been splendid in the last two games when they successfully defended low scores of 150 and 152 respectively. Strike bowlers Bumrah (3 wickets) and New Zealander Trent Boult (6 wickets) have been exceptional at the death. As for leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, he has grabbed seven wickets in last two games.

Meanwhile, for Delhi Capitals, the biggest positive has been the form of Shikhar Dhawan, who is the leading scorer so far in the tournament with 186 runs. Dhawan and young Prithvi Shaw form a strong opening combination, but the Mumbaikar needs to convert his starts into big scores.

Delhi opted for Australian Steve Smith on Sunday but, as they are next playing on the slow Chepauk track, they might go back to Ajinkya Rahane, who is looking better suited for such tracks.

Skipper Rishabh Pant has the ability to take any attack to the cleaners. The Delhi team also possesses a quality all-rounder in Marcus Stoinis. Their pace attack is led by South African Kagiso Rabada and Chris Woakes—the two have been impressive so far. They also have strong spin options, from R. Ashwin to Amit Mishra.

Delhi Capitals opener Shikha Dhawan feels that his team will face a mental challenge when the two teams lock horns at the Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.TEAM ANALYSIS

DELHI CAPITALS 

STRENGTHS

• Shikhar Dhawan & Prithvi Shaw in good touch

• Stoinis & Lalit Yadav good in a cameo role

• In Iast match R. Ashwin was economical

• Avesh Khan is a new sensation

WEAKNESSES

• Main strike bowler Kagiso Rabada is expensive

• Chris Woakes and Lukman Meriwala were expensive in the last match

MUMBAI INDIANS

STRENGTHS

• Trent Boult & Jasprit Bumrah are effective

• Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, a good wicket taking bowler

WEAKNESSES

• Third seamer not performing well

• Overall batting is not performing up to their potential

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Premier League’s top six clubs confirm launch of European Super League

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A group of 12 European clubs on Monday confirmed their plans to launch a new European Super League. Among these 12, six belong to Premier League—Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

This European Super League has been met with severe backlash ever since reports started doing rounds in the media. Despite this, the 12 clubs have now confirmed the formation and format for the new competition.

A joint statement released by the 12 clubs said: “Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new mid-week competition, the Super League, governed by its founding clubs. AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs. It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable.”

“Going forward, the founding clubs look forward to holding discussions with UEFA and FIFA to work together in partnership to deliver the best outcomes for the new League and for football as a whole. The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model. Further, for a number of years, the founding clubs have had the objective of improving the quality and intensity of existing European competitions throughout each season, and of creating a format for top clubs and players to compete on a regular basis.”

In a statement, all these 12 clubs also confirmed the format for this new league. “20 participating clubs with 15 founding clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season. Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game,” the 12 clubs said in an official statement.

“An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue,” it added.

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Moeen and Jadeja spin a web around Royals

Spirited batting and bowling performances lead Chennai Super Kings to a 45-run victory over Rajasthan Royals at Wankhede Stadium.Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja shared five wickets between them to dismantle Rajasthan Royals as Chennai Super Kings registered a 45-run victory here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

A spirited batting performance by Chennai guided them to a total of 188/9 in their allotted 20 overs. In reply, Rajasthan only managed to post 143/9 despite getting a decent start. Chasing 189, openers Manan Vohra and Buttler provided a 30-run stand for the first wicket before pacer Sam Curran picked the former in the fourth over. Vohra departed after scoring 14 runs.

Skipper Sanju Samson (1) failed to leave his mark on the scoreboard and lost his wicket cheaply in the final over of the powerplay. It was again Curran who took the wicket of Samson and brought Rajasthan under pressure. Shivam Dube joined Buttler in middle and the duo stitched a 42-run partnership for third wicket. In the 12th over, Ravindra Jadeja sent both the batsmen back to the pavilion.

First, he picked well-set Buttler, who played a knock of 49 off 35 balls including two sixes and five fours, and then on the last ball of the over he grabbed Dube (17). Dube was caught in front of the wickets. However, the all-rounder reviewed the decision but the on-field umpire›s decision stayed firm. The trouble did not end for Rajasthan after losing two wickets in quick succession as Moeen Ali bagged new batsman David Miller (2) in the next over.

Fiery Moeen was again brought into the attack. In the 15th over, England all-rounder dismissed Riyan Parag (3) and last-match hero Chris Morris on a duck. CSK totally took control of the game as they dragged Rajasthan from 87/3 to 95/7 in no time.

Rahul Tewatia kept the fighting spirit alive but failed to put his side over the line. He played a knock of 20 runs. Jaydev Unadkat too contributed with the bat and scored 24 runs. For CSK, Moeen returned with the figures of 3-7 from his three overs while Jadeja and Curran bagged two scalps each.

Earlier, Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu scored at a firing rate before Dwayne Bravo›s 20 runs off 8 balls came handy in the death overs as CSK posted 188/9 in their allotted 20 overs.

Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, CSK was right on track for a big score before Chetan Sakariya dismissed both Suresh Raina and Rayudu in his third over.

Sakariya in the 14th over broke CSK’s momentum and came back to dismiss skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Most CSK batsmen got a move on but weren’t able to convert it in a big score. In the final four overs, CSK scored 55 runs despite losing four wickets.

Put in to bat first, CSK got off to a decent start before it was undone by Mustafizur Rahman, who dismissed opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad in the fourth over.

But Faf du Plessis continued his onslaught as he pulled off two back-to-back scoops for boundaries. The South Africa batsman then sliced a six over long-off before smashing another four as he took on Jaydev Unadkat in the fifth over.

Chris Morris ended Du Plessis› stint before completion of the powerplay to reduce CSK to 45/2. Moeen Ali continued from he left the other night as he whacked the ball right from the word go. However, Rahul Tewatia dismissed the England all-rounder in the 10th over against run of play as CSK lost the third wicket at the score of 78. In the 11th and 12th over, CSK got a move on as Suresh Raina and Ambati Ambati Rayudu clubbed 30 off 12 balls. However, Rajasthan Royals again made a comeback as Chetan Sakariya dismissed both the batsmen in the same over to reduce CSK to 125/5.

The next few overs saw CSK scoring at sluggish rate.Dhoni tried to free his arms by smashing two boundaries but wasn’t able to middle the next ball. In the end, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo’s contribution helped CSK get over the 180-run mark.

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Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja shared five wickets between them to dismantle Rajasthan Royals as Chennai Super Kings registered a 45-run victory here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

A spirited batting performance by Chennai guided them to a total of 188/9 in their allotted 20 overs. In reply, Rajasthan only managed to post 143/9 despite getting a decent start. Chasing 189, openers Manan Vohra and Buttler provided a 30-run stand for the first wicket before pacer Sam Curran picked the former in the fourth over. Vohra departed after scoring 14 runs.

Skipper Sanju Samson (1) failed to leave his mark on the scoreboard and lost his wicket cheaply in the final over of the powerplay. It was again Curran who took the wicket of Samson and brought Rajasthan under pressure. Shivam Dube joined Buttler in middle and the duo stitched a 42-run partnership for third wicket. In the 12th over, Ravindra Jadeja sent both the batsmen back to the pavilion.

First, he picked well-set Buttler, who played a knock of 49 off 35 balls including two sixes and five fours, and then on the last ball of the over he grabbed Dube (17). Dube was caught in front of the wickets. However, the all-rounder reviewed the decision but the on-field umpire›s decision stayed firm. The trouble did not end for Rajasthan after losing two wickets in quick succession as Moeen Ali bagged new batsman David Miller (2) in the next over.

Fiery Moeen was again brought into the attack. In the 15th over, England all-rounder dismissed Riyan Parag (3) and last-match hero Chris Morris on a duck. CSK totally took control of the game as they dragged Rajasthan from 87/3 to 95/7 in no time.

Rahul Tewatia kept the fighting spirit alive but failed to put his side over the line. He played a knock of 20 runs. Jaydev Unadkat too contributed with the bat and scored 24 runs. For CSK, Moeen returned with the figures of 3-7 from his three overs while Jadeja and Curran bagged two scalps each.

Earlier, Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu scored at a firing rate before Dwayne Bravo›s 20 runs off 8 balls came handy in the death overs as CSK posted 188/9 in their allotted 20 overs.

Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, CSK was right on track for a big score before Chetan Sakariya dismissed both Suresh Raina and Rayudu in his third over.

Sakariya in the 14th over broke CSK’s momentum and came back to dismiss skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Most CSK batsmen got a move on but weren’t able to convert it in a big score. In the final four overs, CSK scored 55 runs despite losing four wickets.

Put in to bat first, CSK got off to a decent start before it was undone by Mustafizur Rahman, who dismissed opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad in the fourth over.

But Faf du Plessis continued his onslaught as he pulled off two back-to-back scoops for boundaries. The South Africa batsman then sliced a six over long-off before smashing another four as he took on Jaydev Unadkat in the fifth over.

Chris Morris ended Du Plessis› stint before completion of the powerplay to reduce CSK to 45/2. Moeen Ali continued from he left the other night as he whacked the ball right from the word go. However, Rahul Tewatia dismissed the England all-rounder in the 10th over against run of play as CSK lost the third wicket at the score of 78. In the 11th and 12th over, CSK got a move on as Suresh Raina and Ambati Ambati Rayudu clubbed 30 off 12 balls. However, Rajasthan Royals again made a comeback as Chetan Sakariya dismissed both the batsmen in the same over to reduce CSK to 125/5.

The next few overs saw CSK scoring at sluggish rate.Dhoni tried to free his arms by smashing two boundaries but wasn’t able to middle the next ball. In the end, Sam Curran and Dwayne Bravo’s contribution helped CSK get over the 180-run mark.

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Happy with performance at Asian Championships: Mirabai Chanu

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Mirabai Chanu said she is happy with her performance in the Asian Weighlifting Championships after she set a new world record in Clean and Jerk as she lifted 119 kg in the competition to cross the old mark of 118 kg.

She also created a new national record as she lifted a total of 205 kg (86 kg snatch + 119 kg Clean and Jerk) which also won her the bronze medal at the showpiece event.

The wrestler said in a tweet, “I am happy with my performance at the Asian Championship 2021. Thank you everyone for your love and support. I will continue to work hard and improve myself.”

Earlier in the day, Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju congratulated her for the achievement. “In her first international competition in more than a year, @mirabai_chanu makes a new national record of 205 kgs at the Asian Championships and won bronze medal. Her perfect clean and jerk lift of 119 kg is a new world record! Target Olympic Podium Mirabai!” he tweeted.

The weightlifter replied to the minister and thanked him for providing the best facilities and support. “Thank you so much @KirenRijiju for providing us best facilities and all kind of support,” Mirabai replied on Rijiju’s tweet.

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