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LISTEN: Full script of Episode 169 of Spodcast where we discuss Rishabh Pant's blitz against Mumbai Indians, Indian hockey team's last-minute woes and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

The 12th edition of the IPL began on Saturday and Chennai Super Kings thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening match on Saturday. On Sunday, Andre Russell of Kolkata Knight Riders spoiled David Warner’s big comeback as KKR defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets in a thrilling win.

Chasing a target of 182 in 20 overs, Nitish Rana held the Kolkata innings together in the middle overs, scoring 68 runs from 47 balls. With 53 runs required of the last three overs, Russell smacked Hyderabad’s bowlers all over the park in a stunning display of power. He smashed 19 runs of the 18th over as well as 21 off the 19th over, including four sixes and four boundaries. His assault meant that KKR needed 13 runs off the last over. Youngster Shubman Gill hit two sixes in the 20th over by Shakib Al Hasan to win the match with two balls to spare.

Earlier, David Warner had a fabulous comeback to top-flight cricket as he pummelled 85 runs from 53 balls, including three sixes and nine boundaries. The former Australian vice-captain, who is returning after the embarrassing ball tampering scandal that kept him out last year, scored his 37th IPL fifty. Warner’s innings was so brutal that four of KKR’s regular bowlers, including Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav, did not even bowl their full quota of four overs. Warner now has the most 50-plus scores in IPL, 40 in all, which puts him ahead of Virat Kohli who has 38. Warner has also scored three centuries in the IPL. Vijay Shankar also made a quick-fire 40 from 24 balls to take SRH to 181/3 in 20 overs.

In the second IPL match on Sunday, Rishabh Pant's destructive innings of 78 runs from 27 balls powered Delhi Capitals to a 37-run win over Mumbai Indians, giving further proof of why Pant should be part of India’s World Cup squad.

He hit seven sixes and seven boundaries that made Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium look like a tiny ground and left the Mumbai Indians’ bowlers, including the formidable Jasprit Bumrah, traumatised, and gave the rechristened Delhi Capitals the fresh beginning they desperately longed for. Thanks to Pant’s blitz, Delhi scored 99 runs in the last six overs, ending with an imposing 213/6 in their 20 overs. South African Colin Ingram, who scored 47 off 32 balls, and Shikhar Dhawan, who scored 43, pulled Delhi Capitals out of trouble with an 83-run stand for the third wicket after the visitors lost openers Prithvi Shaw and skipper Shreyas Iyer quickly.

The Mumbai Indians’ batting never really looked like they’d chase down 213. Veteran Indian player Yuvraj Singh was the only batsman who stood out. He rolled back the years with some fluent hitting, scoring 53 runs off 35 balls, including three sixes. But his knock went in vain as the rest of the batting, barring a quick 32 from Krunal Pandya, failed. Kagiso Rabada and Ishant Sharma took two wickets each as Delhi Capitals dismissed Mumbai Indians for 176 in 19.2 overs, winning by 37 runs. Jasprit Bumrah chose not to bat following a shoulder injury. With just two months to go for the World Cup, his injury will lead to jitters in the Indian camp.

Hockey news now. A tardy India settled for a draw against South Korea, after holding a lead for most of the match, in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament on Sunday.

India had defeated Japan 2-0 in their opening match on Saturday but the perennial problem of conceding goals at the fag end of a match hurt them once again on Sunday.

India made an aggressive start with midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad creating space inside the striking circle within the first minute but the Korean defenders held strong to avert an early goal. The Koreans counter attacked immediately, entering India's circle, but defender Surender Kumar tackled well to clear the ball.

India took the lead in the 28th minute through Mandeep Singh and looked set to earn their second consecutive win of the six-team tournament. With a little over eight minutes remaining for the final whistle, the game was stopped due to rain. When play resumed, Korea put up an attacking front to win back-to-back penalty corners, but did not get any success. With 53 seconds remaining, Korea won another penalty corner, but India goalkeeper PR Sreejesh brilliantly saved Jonghyun Jang’s powerful drag-flick. Then, a defensive error led to Jonghyun Jang scoring from a penalty corner just 22 seconds from the final whistle. A referral by Korea got them the penalty corner and this time, Jang was on target to level the scores and snatch a draw for his side.

India’s next match is against Malaysia on 26 March.

In badminton news, Chinese top seeds Chen Yufei and Shi Yuqi pulled out of the India Open on Sunday citing medical grounds. That took some sheen off the $350,000 World Tour Super 500 tournament that starts on Tuesday and ends on 31 March.

Chen recently broke a five-year title drought for China at the All England Championship and Shi Yuqi is the defending champion of the India Open. With the top seeds withdrawing, PV Sindhu will receive the top billing and is a firm favourite to lift the trophy for the second time. She won the India Open in 2017 and reached the final in the last edition.

However, China will be fielding its biggest contingent at the India Open this season with as many as 25 shuttlers competing in the tournament. World No 7 He Bingjiao will lead the Chinese challenge in women's singles, and is looking forward to an exciting duel with Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu. She said, “A lot of elite Indian players are playing around the world and they got good results. The likes of Saina and Sindhu are quality players. I need to prepare well against them...Sindhu has a very good level and when I play against her, I sometimes win and sometimes lose. The experience of playing Sindhu is very exciting.”

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Updated Date: Mar 25, 2019 16:26:48 IST

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