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Sunrisers Hyderabad produced a great all-round performance at their home ground on Wednesday to outclass Chennai Super Kings and win by six wickets against the table toppers. Suresh Raina captained CSK on Wednesday as Mahendra Singh Dhoni watched the proceedings from the dressing room, being ruled out of the game with a back spasm. It was the first time since 2010 that Dhoni did not lead the Chennai team, and his absence was apparent when Chennai bowled.
Raina won the toss and opted to bat first - that was the only thing that went right for CSK’s stand in captain. Hyderabad’s bowlers maintained a nagging line and length that never allowed Chennai’s batsmen to score freely. Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away just one run in the first over while Khaleel Ahmed conceded just three in the second. Openers Faf Du Plessis and Shane Watson were the only CSK batsmen who looked comfortable at the crease. Du Plessis scored 45 runs from 31 balls while Watson made a slow 31 from 29 balls. Ambati Rayudu, who scored an equally slow 25 from 21 balls, was the only other batsman to get a start. A sedate CSK inning ended with an under par total of 132/5.
In reply, SRH chased down the target with more than three overs to spare. David Warner punished Chennai’s bowlers severely, smashing a 24-ball half century. His 50 from 25 balls included 10 boundaries. When Warner fell, SRH were 66/1 in 5.4 overs in pursuit of the target of 133. Suresh Raina’s captaincy looked fairly clueless as Hyderabad plundered runs at will. Hyderabad’s dominating win on Wednesday demonstrated how important MSD is for Chennai’s fortunes. Jonny Bairstow took SRH home in the 17th over as he made 61 from 44 balls.
In tennis news, Rafael Nadal charged out of the blocks on Wednesday to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-1 in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters. Nadal, an 11-time champion at tournament, showed no sign of the knee problems which forced him to quit the Indian Wells semi-final against Roger Federer a month ago. The 32-year-old had expressed pre-tournament caution regarding the health of his knee - a worry that appears to have been overstated, going by the 76-minute master class on Wednesday.
Nadal won the opening five games in a matter of 17 minutes as he set the tone for another dominant display. He was equally in control during the second set, saving three break points in the fourth game and two more in the sixth. Bautista Agut has now lost to fellow Spaniard Nadal in all three of their meetings. Nadal improved his incredible record at the Monte Carlo Masters to 69-4 as he aimed for a fourth consecutive title.
He said after the match, “It was a great start, it's good to be back here...I can't pretend to not have pain at all, but professionals normally play with pain. It's part of the sport at the highest level and it's no limitations at all. I was able to move well and be confident with the things that I did.”
Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev rediscovered traces of his best form with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat of Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime. The German, who is a local, reached the third round as he tamed the 18-year-old who broke through for a Miami semi-final last month. Zverev said, “This is the first time this season I've felt really healthy...I've been training well but haven't been able to take that into matches. I live just 500 metres from here, I'm comfortable on this court. I'm starting to feel better about my game. I'm really ready for the clay season”
In football news, Chennaiyin FC scored their maiden win in the AFC Cup with a 2-0 victory over Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi Club to move to the top of their group on Wednesday. The former Indian Super League champions scored their first goal of the AFC Cup after a goalless draw against I-League side Minerva Punjab in their opening Group E match.
The visitors had a rare sight on goal in first-half stoppage time but Sujal Shrestha curled his free-kick from 25 yards into the arms of goalkeeper Karanjit Singh as the sides went into the breather on equal terms. After a scoreless 45 minutes, Chennaiyin's overseas player, Australian Chris Herd, landed one home in the 51st minute. In the 53rd minute, it was the turn of another overseas player, Brazilian Mailson Veriato, to score a goal as Chennaiyin went 2-0 up.
After gaining three points from the win, Chennaiyin sit above Abahani Limited Dhaka on goal difference after the Bangladesh side drew 2-2 with Minerva Punjab in Wednesday's other Group E clash. Mahmoud Al Amnah scored in the 16th minute to give Minerva the lead. But Nabib Newas Jibon pulled one back just four minutes later to make it 1-1. Sreyas Gopalan then slotted another one home to make it 2-1 for Minerva just before the break. But Abahani Limited Dhaka equalized just six minutes later as Sunday Chizoba put one past Minerva’s goalkeeper. The Punjab-based side are still searching for their maiden win in the AFC Cup.
Abahani will next face Chennaiyin on 30 April while Minerva will host Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi Club on 1 May in Bhubaneswar.
The debate around India’s 2019 World Cup squad continued on Wednesday when it emerged that Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu were named among the standbys for the squad. Speedster Navdeep Saini also found a place in the list of three back-ups for the World Cup.
A BCCI official told PTI, “Just like ICC Champions Trophy, we have three standbys. Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu are the first and second standbys while Saini is the bowler in the list. So if anyone gets injured, as per requirement, one of the three will be going.”
Pant and Rayudu's exclusion from the squad of 15 had created quite a stir on Monday. Sunil Gavaskar called Pant's omission surprising while Gautam Gambhir questioned the snub to Rayudu. Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad had justified preferring Vijay Shankar over Rayudu, praising Shankar’s "three-dimensional qualities". Rayudu took a dig at his omission from the squad, tweeting, “Just ordered a new set of 3d glasses to watch the world cup.”
In the bowling department, Khaleel Ahmed, Avesh Khan and Deepak Chahar will be travelling with the team purely as net bowlers, but they could also be drafted in if the management feels so. The BCCI official added, “Khaleel, Avesh and Deepak are not designated standbys. In case of bowlers, that possibility is there but when it comes purely to batsmen, it will be either Rishabh or Rayudu.”
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Updated Date: Apr 18, 2019 12:57:07 IST