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LISTEN: Full script of Episode 177 of Spodcast where we discuss MI's victory, Tom Blundell's inclusion in New Zealand side for WC and more

Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.

Hardik Pandya’s all-round performance helped Mumbai Indians best Chennai Super Kings by 37 runs in a battle of the heavyweights on Wednesday in Mumbai.

Pandya was characteristically quirky during a breathtaking cameo when batting, even hitting a spectacular helicopter shot in front of its main purveyor Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Put in to bat on a track that offered good bounce, Mumbai creamed 29 runs in the final over, with Pandya doing the bulk of scoring. He remained not out on 25 runs from eight balls, and was supported by Kieran Pollard who scored 17 runs from seven deliveries. The two all-rounders rescued Mumbai’s innings, which was floundering at 50/3 at one point. Suryakumar Yadav, who made 59 from 43 balls, and Krunal Pandya, who made 42, steadied the innings, getting the score to 125 in the 18th over, before Hardik and Pollard smashed towering sixes as they plundered 45 runs in the final two overs to post 170/5.

 LISTEN: Full script of Episode 177 of Spodcast where we discuss MIs victory, Tom Blundells inclusion in New Zealand side for WC and more

Kieron Pollard of Mumbai Indians plays a shot against Chennai Super Kings. Image courtesy: SPORTZPICS for BCCI

Chennai Super Kings never really got going in their chase, losing wickets regularly. Suresh Raina, who looked in good touch, was sent back by a stunning one-handed catch by Kieron Pollard at the boundary, a sign of Mumbai’s red-hot form at home on a sultry Wednesday. Kedar Jadhav attempted to salvage Chennai’s innings, scoring 58 in 54 balls. His partnership with Dhoni yielded 54 runs but Mumbai’s bowling and fielding was too good on the night. Hardik had Dhoni caught at square leg and sent back Ravindra Jadeja in the same over to leave Chennai tottering to 89/5 in the 15th over. Lasith Malinga and Hardik Pandya bagged three wickets each while Jason Behrendorff took two wickets, ensuring CSK managed only 133/8 in their 20 overs.

28-year-old wicketkeeper Tom Blundell was the surprise selection in New Zealand’s 15-man squad for the 2019 World Cup, despite never having played the format at the international level.

Blundell has played two Tests, scoring a century on debut, as well as three Twenty20 internationals for New Zealand. He will serve as a backup to Tom Latham for the World Cup. New Zealand coach Gary Stead said, “The key for us was finding the right balance for the squad and making sure we had our bases covered for what is going to be a very competitive World Cup. As a one-day unit we’ve been pretty consistent over the past few years and possess a very experienced group of core players, proven at the top level.”

Interestingly, Blundell’s last appearance for New Zealand was in a T20 international against Australia in early 2018. He did not play a single game for Wellington in New Zealand’s domestic one-day competition this season. His surprise selection comes at the expense of Tim Seifert, who had been the preferred wicketkeeper in T20 internationals this summer, and made his ODI debut in January against Sri Lanka. Indian fans will remember the aggressive Seifert, who made very brisk scores of 84 and 43 while opening in the T20s against. Siefert then broke his finger towards the end of the season. While he would have recovered in time for the World Cup, questions had been asked about his work with the gloves. Gary Stead explained that he would prefer to select a specialist to back up Latham, who only assumed the role in the ODIs two years ago.

Henry Nicholls had been previously mooted as a potential emergency wicketkeeper if Latham got injured, but is now expected to open the batting with Martin Guptill after Colin Munro fell out of favour. Munro still made the final 15-man squad with his ability to also bowl medium pace but is more likely to be batting cover. Ish Sodhi was preferred over Todd Astle as the second spinner, while Mitchell Santner is the first-choice slow bowler. Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme were named as the all-rounders, while Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry are, as expected, the four frontline pacers. Kane Williamson continues as the captain of the squad.

In badminton news, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth advanced to the second round while Saina Nehwal lost in the first round at the Malaysia Open World Tour Super 750 tournament on Wednesday.

Olympic and world championship silver medallist Sindhu, who is seeded fifth, staved off a spirited challenge from World No 20 Aya Ohori to win 22-20 21-12 . It was her sixth win over the Japanese player. Sindhu will now look to avenge her All England loss against Korea's Sung Ji-Hyun, whom she faces next in the second round.

Eighth seed Saina Nehwal, who came into the tournament after recovering from a pancreatic infection, fought hard before going down 22-20 15-21 10-21 to Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong.

In the men’s draw, India Open finalist Srikanth beat Indonesia's Ihsan Maulana Mustofa 21-18 21-16 in 38 minutes to qualify for the next round. He will play against Thailand's Khosit Phetpradab later today.

The Indian women’s football team scored a 2-0 win over Indonesia in the opening match of the Olympic qualifiers round two, going a step closer to making it to the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Dangmei Grace, who scored in the 27th and 67th minutes, proved to be the difference between the two teams, as Maymol Rocky's wards largely dominated the match in terms of both possession and chances created.

Maintaining the momentum from their fifth consecutive SAFF title, India applied pressure on Indonesia right from the first minute. Some crafty work down the wings by Sanju and Ratanbala Devi wreaked havoc on the opposition defence, which failed to counter the Indians between the lines.

Maymol, the coach, said after the win, “We wanted to start our qualifying campaign on a winning note and we have done so. Indonesia proved to be tough opponents that committed bodies in defence but we found a way to gather three points...It is important to keep the winning momentum alive and we were able to do so. We are taking one match at a time and our focus shifts on our next opponents Nepal (on 6 April).”

As for the Indian men’s football team, their spirited showings in recent times seem to be having a ripple effect with the position of the men's coach attracting over 250 applications, an unprecedented number that also includes some well-known names from Europe.

The post has been vacant since Stephen Constantine resigned following the Indian team's failure to make the knockouts of the AFC Asian Cup. Names like Giovanni De Biasi of Italy, Hakan Ericson of Sweden, France's Raymond Domenech and England's Sam Allardyce are doing the rounds. While they are undoubtedly big names, the All India Football Federation has also received applications from people who do not have the credentials and licence.

However, contrary to much of speculation doing the rounds, AIFF sources claimed they are not swayed by the high-profile names. The list of applicants also includes coaches from the Indian Super League and I-League. A source told PTI, “The big names doing the rounds need not necessarily fulfil the criteria of the AIFF. Early next week the concerned committee will make a short-list and the candidates would then be interviewed by the technical committee, and based on its recommendations, the executive committee would make the appointment from among the final list.”

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Updated Date: Apr 04, 2019 15:20:33 IST

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