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No dearth of Dhoni fans in Chennai football club

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s skill of cricket was as much as that of football. He was the goalkeeper of the school team. After that wherever Dhoni played football, his talent was appreciated by everyone. Even stalwarts from the Indian national football team, Jeje Lalpekhula to Anirudh Thapa, praised his talent.

Not many people know that he also practised several times with the national football players. Even in the Chennaiyin FC squad, a football club based in Chennai, there is no dearth of Dhoni’s fans. Whenever Chennai Super Kings had a practice session a lot of football players of this team used to come to see him. Dhoni had friendly relations with them. Indian national team striker Jeje Lalpekhula, who has been an integral part of Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), remembers Dhoni as “being quite good at football.”

A day after ‘Captain Cool’ announced his retirement from international cricket, Lalpekhula took a trip down memory lane to speak about the training sessions where ‘Thala’ Dhoni would join them for a training session. “He just loves to play football. If he is around, whenever we’re playing a small-sided game during training, he’d always try to join us,” said Lalpekhula with a smile.

“Dhoni has played football as a kid and you can gauge how much he still enjoys playing even now,” he said while adding, “He was always so good with the ball at his feet.”

“Dhoni may have been a goalkeeper back in school. But when he’s playing, it has been evident that his skills with his feet have not left him. He’s quite good at football,” Lalpekhula continued.

The 39-year-old has been so helpful that he even offered tips to players, whenever around, to heal with injuries. “In one of the Hero ISL matches I suffered a cramp and had to limp out. After the match, he came down to see me and mentioned some of his teammates in the cricket team who also suffered from cramps and how they dealt with it.”

Midfield general Anirudh Thapa, another Chennaiyin FC player, highlighted Dhoni’s talks where “he always shared his experiences”.

“MSD used to come whenever we had a team lunch. He stayed back to talk to the boys and share about his learnings. He’s a very down to earth guy,” Thapa maintained. “There were others who also asked him to come and sit with them but instead he always preferred to sit with the footballers,” he continued.

“He’d say, ‘Let me sit with the boys and share some experiences’,” said Thapa. MSD told them about the struggles he has had to face in his life and about his journey in cricket. “He’s had such an amazing career over the years. I’d like to wish him a happy retirement,” he exclaimed.

Another latest addition to the Chennaiyin FC squad, who is a huge fan of Dhoni is local boy Edwin Sydney Vanspaul. The 27-year-old described how the city lives and breathes every moment that Dhoni is in Chennai.

“People here are just crazy about him. They may have jobs and other responsibilities with their family but if MSD is in town and Chennai Super Kings is have a training session, they would all head to the stadium, just to watch them practice,” laughed Vanspaul. “And when MSD comes out to bat in the nets, these guys just go bonkers. It’s like when Cristiano Ronaldo goes for a training session in Portugal or Spain.”

Although Dhoni hails from Ranchi, the city of Chennai was very quick to adopt the star cricketer and make him one of their own. They even gave him the title of “Thala” (Head), something that does not come so easily for a sportsperson. “Generally these titles are given to film stars. Ajith Kumar is also called ‘Thala’ here. But for Dhoni, it did not take him long to earn that title,” explained Vanspaul.

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India were unfortunate not to get 3 points, says Bhaichung Bhutia

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The performance of the Blue Tigresses in their opener of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 against IR Iran has left the two Padma Shris who were present at the stadium extremely impressed.

Blue Tiger legend and former captain Bhaichung Bhutia felt “women’s football has come a long way.” “I am extremely impressed by the manner the girls played. They were unfortunate not to get three points. The Iranian goalkeeper also came up with some amazing saves which further denied us,” Bhaichung smiled. “The first match is always the most difficult one, and the manner we operated tactically pleased me like anything,” Bhaichung averred. “The Blue Tigresses were so organized, and maintained their shape all throughout. They were able to open up during the attacks, and narrow it down while defending – all of which are hallmarks of a well drilled squad,” Bhaichung commented.

“Coach Thomas Dennerby needs to be complemented. He has done an awesome job,” Bhaichung, the first Indian footballer to play 100 international matches, certified. “We came across as a well-trained team. We moved back to positions fast and there was always someone to support the other.”

“Maybe, looking back, the experience of a Bala Devi upfront may have been handy. But injuries are part and parcel of football, and I am confident the others will fill in the void.” Bembem Devi, who was also present at the stadium went gaga the manner the Blue Tigresses approached the match. “The face of women’s football in India has totally changed. Everything was so well coordinated on the field. The fitness levels were exceptional. I am unable to recall as to when our women’s team was such a fit unit,” Bembem smiled. “All of these promise a bright future for us. The passing accuracy stood out.”

“Iran have always been a very physical team. But our players were fearless -the strength of our players stood out,” Bembem said. “Coach Dennerby has changed the total approach to the sport. The manner in which he approached the training sessions in the last 5 months is a lesson for me and coaches like us,” Bembem, the first woman footballer to have received the Padma Shri Award expressed.

“Just concentrate and don’t listen and think much about the last match. Keep concentrating and work harder. These are the days a player lives for. Make the most of it. One goal will change everything and it will come soon.”

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NFL Playoff Betting: X Tips For Beginners

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National Football League

The NFL Playoffs are here! Some NFL fans may feel a little sad knowing their team’s season, and others feel excited as their favorite team is making a run at the Lombardi Trophy. Either what, whether your team is at home or making a run toward the Super Bowl, we get another few weeks to watch the greatest sport in the world as well as try to make a few extra bucks before it’s all over.

If you are new to the gambling world and looking into betting on the NFL playoffs, you have come to the right place. Below we have outlined the best ways to bet on the NFL playoffs.

NFL Playoffs

Before betting on the NFL Playoffs, we need to know how they work.

​​14 teams will make the NFL playoffs in 2022, compared to 12 previous years. This will mark the second season of the NFL’s 14-team playoff format. 

Now, seven teams from the AFC and seven from the NFC will make the postseason. Under the NFL’s new format, 43.75 percent of the league’s teams will be involved in postseason play. Division winners will still be seeded 1-4 by the record, with the final three spots being filled by Wild Card teams.

How does the NFL playoff bracket work

Teams are seeded according to the following criteria, with the higher-seeded teams always having home-field advantage:

  • The champions of each division within the AFC and NFC are seeded according to the best record in positions one through four.
  • Each conference has three wildcard teams (the three teams with the following best overall records), which are seeded in the five, six, and seven positions according to record. 

Wild Card Round

The first round of the playoffs is called the Wild Card Round. The top-seeded division winner gets a bye from this round, and the remaining teams match up at seven vs. two, six vs. three, and five vs. four. 

Divisional Round 

The second round is known as the Division Round. It features the top division winners hosting the lowest seed remaining from the Wild Card Round and two remaining seeds facing off.

Conference Championship

The third round of the NFL playoffs is the Conference Championship Round to decide the AFC and NFC Championships. The winner of these two games will be heading to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl 

The biggest game is the Super Bowl, where the AFC and NFC champions battle it out for the Lombardi Trophy. 

Playoff Betting Tips for Beginners

  1. Don’t Overreact

Everyone is either watching or betting on the NFL playoffs, so overreactions can be a bit extreme week-to-week, especially after a blowout wins. Per Action Network, since 1980, teams are 6-25-1 ATS after scoring 40 more points the previous week during the playoffs.

  1. Analyze  Matchups

This is very important come playoff time. Most of what happened on the regular season no longer matters when teams face off in the postseason. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether one team is “better” than the other. This is why matchups become even more important than usual. Compare offenses/defense, special teams, red zone offense/defense, and even coaching.

Experience should also come into play, so make sure you consider when analyzing matchups. Another trend given to us by Action Network, quarterbacks making their playoff debut against a quarterback with at least one previous postseason start under their belt has gone 14-30 straight up and 12-31-1 ATS since 2002. Guys with zero playoffs start in this year’s playoffs, including Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow.

  1. Don’t Blindly Bet Favorites.

The general public likes backing favorites in the regular season and the postseason, but that’s not always the best bet. Since 2003, regular-season underdogs have gone 2121-2086-131 ATS for a -1.4% Return on Investment (ROI), while postseason dogs have gone 95-76-4 ATS for a +8.6% ROI.

2 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Don’t Bet Every Game

Just because there are fewer games weekly during the playoffs, that still doesn’t mean you need to bet every game. Continue going through each game and bet on the games that offer the best value. If you are new, maybe select one game per day throughout the weekend. With fewer games on the board, you still need to stay disciplined.

  1. Overvaluing Top Seeds

The top seeds from each conference are usually overvalued once seedings are set. Many people assume that they must be the best teams as they’ve got the best records. They also assume that they’ll benefit from an extra week off. That’s not always the case.

Since 2000 (20 NFL Seasons), only 8 top seeds have gone on to win the Super Bowl. And during that same timespan, 11 top-seeded teams lost in the Divisional Round.

Betting the Divisional and Conference Championship games can be misleading at first glance. This goes back to earlier in the article, where we don’t want to overreact to teams with blowout wins. Teams are just 6-25-1 ATS after scoring 40 or more points in the previous week. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City scored over 40 points in this year’s Wild Card Round. Something to keep an eye on in their next matchup. 

Heading into the Divisional Round, you want to pay attention to home-field advantage. Teams playing at home in the Divisional and Conference Championship Rounds are 48-18 SU (72.7%) combined. 

Five Top NFL Sportsbooks with Bonuses

  1. BetUS – 125% Deposit Bonus up $2,500
  2. Bovada – $750 Welcome Bonus to New Bettors
  3. MyBookie – 100% Deposit Bonus up to $1,000
  4. BetOnline – 50% up to $1,000 Welcome Bonus to New Bettors
  5. BookMaker – 50% up to $1,000 Signup Bonus

There are sites like Safest Betting Sites that provide the most trusted online sportsbooks for the NFL Playoffs; make sure you take advantage of the bonuses and promotions that most of the sportsbooks have.

When betting on the NFL playoffs, after going through all the research and tips/trends, you cannot find an edge on a game, don’t bet it. Don’t feel like you have to bet every single playoff game. Sometimes the best bet is the bet you don’t make. Enjoy the 2022 NFL Playoffs.

Kurt Blakeway – Sporting Betting Analyst

Kurt is a Sports Betting Analyst for Safest Betting Sites. He enjoys all things MLB, NFL, CFB, and CBB. While he is a fan first, he is always trying to gain an edge on the books to make a little money. 

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LANNING, MCGRATH STAR AS AUSTRALIA DEFEAT ENGLAND IN 1ST T20I

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Tahlia McGrath’s all-round performance and Meg Lanning’s spirited show with the bat helped Australia defeat England by nine wickets in the first T20I of the three-match series here at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

With this win, Australia has gained an early lead in the ongoing Women’s Ashes and the second T20I will now be played on Saturday at the same venue. McGrath first took three wickets with the ball and then she backed it up by playing a 91-knock. Chasing 170, Australia got off to a decent start as openers Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy put on 26 runs inside four overs, but this stand was cut short by Sophie Ecclestone as she dismissed Healy (7) and this brought Tahlia McGrath to the middle. Lanning and McGrath ensured that Australia does not lose momentum as they kept chipping away at runs, and the hosts needed 85 to win from the final ten overs with nine wickets in hand.

McGrath and Lanning kept on scoring runs, and as a result, England was not able to create any sort of pressure. In the end, the hosts registered a comfortable nine-wicket victory. In the end, McGrath and Lanning remained unbeaten on 91 and 64 respectively. Earlier, Danielle Wyatt played a knock of 70 runs as England posted 169/4 in the allotted twenty overs. Sent into bat, openers Danielle Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont got England off to a steady start as they put on 51 runs inside the first six overs.

The 82-run opening stand was finally broken in the 11th over as Alana King got the better of Beaumont (30). Natalie Sciver then joined Wyatt in the middle and the duo did not let the momentum drop for England. Both batters kept on scoring runs at a brisk pace and this ended up creating more pressure on Australia.

The duo put on 59 runs for the second wicket, and the stand was broken in the 17th over by Tahlia McGrath as she dismissed Sciver (32).

In the final three overs, England managed to add 25 more runs to the total, taking the score past the 165-run mark.

Brief Scores: England 169/4 (Danielle Wyatt 70, Natalie Sciver 32; Tahlia McGrath 3-26); Australia 170/1 (Tahlia McGrath 91*, Meg Lanning 64*; Sophie Ecclestone 1-29).

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN: ANDY MURRAY KNOCKED OUT BY WORLD NO.120 QUALIFIER TARO DANIEL

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World No.120 qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan stunned three time grand slam champion Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2nd round of men’s singles here at the John Cain Arena in a match that lasted two hours and 48 minutes.

Murray was broken in the third game of the match itself by the Japanese and in no time he took a 3-1 lead. The two-time Olympic champion clawed his way back in the sixth game to break Daniel’s serve and level the match 3-3. But in the very next game the Japanese broke Murray’s service to take a 4-3 lead. He pocketed the first set 6-4. Inn the second set too the Japanese broke Murray in the third game of the match. Murray lost the second set at the same score line of 4-6.

In the third set the Scot came up with a spirited performance by holding on to his serve and breaking his opponent to take a 2-0 lead. But in the third game the Japanese broke Murray’s serve, held his and leveled the score 2-2. In the ninth game of the match Daniel once again broke Murray’s serve. In the end the third set also was won by the Japanese with the same score as first and second set. With this defeat Murray’s wait for his first Australian Open title and a grand slam title win for more than five years continues.

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TEAM INDIA NEEDS MORE WICKET-TAKING BOWLERS

Saba Karim

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It will take some time for Rahul Dravid and the coaching staff to get Team India out of the current situation. In the first ODI, we should have restricted the South African batsmen within 250. The wicket was slow and the ball remained low. After that the Indian batsmen, who were looking to score well, collapsed and we lost. That is, we failed to bat well after bowling.

With this defeat it is too early to say anything about KL Rahul’s captaincy. As captain, he has captained ODIs for the first time. They should be given time. Well, he definitely needs to pay special attention to his batting. If runs are scored with his bat, then he will have confidence which will come in handy under his captaincy.

Team India needs wicket-taking bowlers at this time. South African batsmen made their job easy by playing sweep and reverse sweep against Indian spinners. Bhuvneshwar and Shardul also did not prove to be wicket-takers. Now the time has come that the bowlers who are present in the current team should be given a chance. It makes no sense to keep feeding old bowlers in the name of experience. Now it is the time to find Bumrah’s partner. In spin bowling, Ashwin and Chahal were probably playing together for the first time. It will definitely make a difference after the return of Ravindra Jadeja, who gives the team a real balance. Today, the strike rate of the bowlers should be considered more than the economy. Deepak Chahar can be given further opportunity, who can also bat well.

And there needs to be stability in the middle order. For how long the team will depend on the top order. The middle order players have to understand that they also need to fulfill their responsibility. There should be unity in the performance. The responsibility of finishing the match will also have to be taken. The truth is that the team had not yet recovered from the loss of two Tests that many problems emerged with the team in ODIs as well. I hope team India players will soon see the spirit of unity and victory.

The writer is a former wicket-keeper batsman and a selector of Team India.

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Rohit, Rishabh Pant and Ashwin named in ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021

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Three Indians — Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Ravichandran Ashwin have been named in ICC Men’s Test Team of the Year. Kane Williamson has been named as the leader of the ICC Test Team of 2021. Under Williamson, New Zealand had defeated India last year to win the World Test Championship.

Apart from three Indians, the side has two New Zealand players, three Pakistan players, one Australian, one Sri Lankan, and one player from England. Rohit Sharma came into his own as an opener in the longest format of the game. He cracked 906 runs in the calendar year at an average of 47.68 with two centuries. Both of the centuries were memorable knocks in contrasting conditions against England – one at home in Chennai and the other in overcast conditions away from home at the Oval. With key assignments coming up, Sharma will have a key role to play for India in 2022.

Rishabh Pant further established himself as India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter in all three formats, with his continuous development especially coming to the fore in the Test arena. He scored 748 runs in 12 matches at an average of 39.36 with one memorable ton against England at Ahmedabad. He also accounted for 39 dismissals in 23 innings, with his glovework continuing to improve.

The off-spinner Ashwin bamboozled many batters with his sheer wizardry. Ashwin scalped up 54 wickets in 9 matches at an average of 16.64 making a big impact in the home series against England and New Zealand. He also chipped in with 355 runs at an average of 25.35, which included a vital century against England in Chennai.

ICC Men’s Test Team of 2021: Dimuth Karunaratne (Sri Lanka), Rohit Sharma (India), Kane Williamson (c, New Zealand), Marnus Labuschagne (Australia), Joe Root (England), Fawad Alam (Pakistan), Rishabh Pant (India), Ravichandran Ashwin (India), Kyle Jamieson (New Zealand), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan), and Hasan Ali (Pakistan).

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