Firstpost Spodcast Episode 106: Jose Mourinho's sacking, uncapped Varun Chakravarthy emerges as top buy at IPL auction and more

We begin with cricket. Australia defeated India by 146 runs in the second Test to level the 4-match series 1-1. Chasing a target of 287 runs in the fourth innings, India were bundled out for 140 on day five.

India started the day at 115/5 but Australia’s bowlers just blew away India’s lower order comprehensively. They took five wickets and allowed India to add only 25 runs to their overnight score. Mitchell Starc’s scorching pace, Pat Cummins’s accuracy and Nathan Lyon’s guile destroyed any hopes India had of fighting for a draw, as the tail collapsed yet again.

Lyon took three wickets in the second innings, and eight wickets in the match, which put the spotlight on India’s decision to go into the Test with no specialist spinner.

The Perth Test win is Australia’s first since the ball tampering controversy in March 2018. They had won only six of the 22 ODIs and Twenty20 matches they played since the scandal. Therefore, this win is a welcome boost in confidence for an Australian team that was deemed the most diffident in years.

The third Test will start on 26th December in Melbourne, the famous Boxing Day test.

Meanwhile, the BCCI dismissed reports that a boastful Indian captain Virat Kohli ridiculed Australian captain Tim Paine during the second Test in Perth.

The board’s press release said, “It is 'assumed' that Kohli said, 'I am the best player in the world and you are just a stand-in captain'. These claims were based on hearsay and the BCCI would like to bring into notice that no such words were spoken on the field by the Indian captain.”

There were some heated exchanges between the two captains during the run of play, but both men insisted that ‘no line was crossed.’ However, some reports in Australia claimed that Kohli, currently the world's No.1 Test and ODI batsman, boasted about being the best in the business. The BCCI claimed it “...got a clarification from the team management about the incident and would like to classify the reports as baseless."

After Australia’s win, Kohli said, “As long as there is no swearing on the field, and there's no personal attacks, the line doesn't get crossed. That's it! But look, in competitive spirit it stays on the field. I am not going to go into details but to be honest it's not of importance for me to speak on and it's something that's done.”

Tim Paine said, “It was a highly competitive Test match from both teams. There's a lot on the line and both teams desperately want to win and sometimes that stuff happens. It was just two competitive cricketers trying to do their best to win the game.”

The auction of cricketers for the 2019 season of the IPL was held in Jaipur on Tuesday.

The headline grabbers were uncapped player Varun Chakravarthy, English cricketer Sam Curran, and a nearly unsold Yuvraj Singh.

Varun Chakravarthy, a 27-year-old mystery spinner from Tamil Nadu, was the big newsmaker at the auction. He rose to prominence after a strong showing in the Tamil Nadu Premier League. He was credited for Madurai Panthers’ maiden TNPL title triumph this year. He started with a base price of Rs 20 lakh, but eventually went to Kings XI Punjab for a huge 8.4 crore rupees after a bidding war involving Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals as well.

Punjab were the big spenders of the day, splashing out 7.2 crores to acquire Sam Curran of England as well, the most any team paid for an overseas player this time around.

Yuvraj Singh, whose IPL fortunes have tended to swing wildly, was once again in for a jolt - he almost remained unsold until the Mumbai Indians picked him up for his base price of one crore.

That’s a big drop in value for a player who was bought for a massive 16 crores in 2015 by the Delhi franchise. Last year, he was acquired by Punjab for two crores, but was released by the team this year. Mumbai Indians tweeted after the purchase, “If you are wondering why this took time...we've just got back to senses! Welcome to Mumbai.”

Jaydev Unadkat, last season’s surprise bumper bid who was bought for 11.5 crores by Rajasthan Royals and then released, was once again picked up by Rajasthan for 8.4 crores. In a surprise purchase, Indian Test player Hanuma Vihari was sold to Delhi Capitals for Rs two crore, four times his base price.

Among overseas players, many Australian and English players are unavailable because of the 2019 world cup. So the franchises preferred West Indian players. Six West Indians - Shimron Hetmyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford - made it big yesterday. Royal Challengers Bangalore paid Rs 4.2 crore for Hetmyer. Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals also bid for the stylish West Indian batsman, who had a base price of Rs 50 lakh. Meanwhile, fellow West Indian Carlos Brathwaite, the star of the 2016 T20 world cup, was sold to KKR for Rs 5 crore. Windies wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran went for Rs 4.2 crore to Punjab. Delhi Capitals paid Rs 2 crore and Rs 50 lakh for Sherfane Rutherford and Keemo Paul while the Royals bought Oshane Thomas for Rs 1.1 crore.

Most surprising was the list of unsold players - it included high-profile players like Brendon McCullum, Shaun Marsh, Chris Woakes and Dale Steyn.

Football new now. In the biggest news from the EPL, Jose Mourinho was sacked from his role as manager of Manchester United.

The 3-1 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday, which left Manchester United 19 points behind the League leaders after just 17 games, was the final straw. AFP reported that the axing was almost inevitable as Mourinho fell out with senior squad members, blamed his superiors for a lack of backing in the transfer market, and oversaw a drastic deterioration in performances and results on the pitch.

Mourinho is the third manager to be sacked in four years - after David Moyes and Louis van Gaal - indicating there is a lot more to be fixed behind the scenes at the world's richest football club. When the first rumours swirled regarding Mourinho's exit, former club captain Gary Neville raged at a club that had become “rotten to the core.” After the Liverpool defeat, he described United's board as “so naive it's unbelievable.”

The high profile Mourinho’s departure from Old Trafford came a day after the third anniversary of his sacking from a second tenure with Chelsea. He had won the title with the Blues just six months prior. For the first time since leaving provincial Portuguese side Uniao de Leiria for local giants Porto in 2002, Mourinho leaves a club having failed to win a league title. He also didn’t help his own cause when he got into a power struggle - Mourinho routinely dropped the club's most expensive ever signing, the $113 million midfielder Paul Pogba. The manager was also stringent in his public criticism of Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial as well as others. What’s worse, the United board seems to have lost faith in their manager less than a year after handing him a new contract until 2020.

As Manchester City and Liverpool combined entertaining football with increasing success, United’s relatively drab play and their lack of results seem to have led to Mourinho’s sacking.

Lionel Messi has picked up yet another award. The Barcelona and Argentina forward received a record fifth Golden Shoe award yesterday after finishing last season as the top goal scorer in Europe.

Messi scored 34 goals in 68 games for Barcelona, which put him ahead of Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Tottenham's Harry Kane. Messi’s rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who has won the award four times this far, scored 26 goals in 52 matches for Real Madrid last year.

Messi was his usual modest self as he accepted the award. He said, “The truth is I had no idea this would happen when I started. I dreamt of playing professional football and enjoying success, I love the game, but I never imagined I would have so much. I enjoy the work, the effort, I'm at the best team in the world and play with the best team-mates in the world, so everything is easier.”

Updated Date: Dec 19, 2018 17:57:06 IST