Listen: Full script of Episode 199 of Spodcast where we discuss Mumbai Indians' win over CSK, Liverpool's comeback and more
In this edition of Firstpost Spodcast, we talk about Mumbai Indians' win over Chennai Super Kings, Liverpool remarkable comeback win in Champions League and more.
Mumbai Indians defeated Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday to enter the final of IPL 2019. Suryakumar Yadav played one of his finest knocks on a challenging Chepauk pitch as Mumbai bested Chennai by six wickets in the first Qualifier.
On a sluggish pitch, which offered considerable turn and unpredictable bounce, Suryakumar batted in copybook fashion, scoring an unbeaten 71 off 54 balls as Mumbai Indians reached their target in 18.3 overs. Chasing a tricky target of 132 on a difficult pitch, senior players Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock were out without scoring much. Surya and Ishan Kishan traded in their natural flair for a cautious approach, adding 80 runs together which set the platform for Mumbai’s win. While Surya hit 10 fours, the normally aggressive Kishan struck just three boundaries and a six in his innings.
The ever-reliable Imran Tahir dismissed Kishan and Krunal Pandya off successive deliveries in the 14th over, causing a minor scare. Surya then partnered with in Hardik Pandya to take Mumbai home with 9 balls to spare. Surya was especially adept in his batting against Tahir and a wily Ravindra Jadeja, not taking any chances as they bowled impressive spells.
Earlier, batting first, CSK managed just 131/4 as Mumbai’s bowlers proved nearly unplayable. Mumbai Indians’ three spinners - Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya and Jayant Yadav, took 4 wickets between them, conceding just 60 runs in their combined 11 overs.
MS Dhoni failed to launch a much-needed assault on a sluggish home pitch but did enough in the company of Ambati Rayudu to propel Chennai Super Kings to 131, which proved a fighting total in testing conditions.
While Mumbai Indians are through to their fifth IPL final, CSK will have another chance to make it to their eighth final in the second Qualifier. CSK will face off against the winner of the 'Eliminator' between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
News from the Champions League now.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his side as "mentality giants" after they produced one of the most stunning comebacks in Champions League history to beat Barcelona 4-0 and progress to the final for the second consecutive year on Tuesday.
The Reds not only had a mountain to climb on the scoreboard after last week's 3-0 loss at the Camp Nou but were also deprived of two of their most potent attacking weapons - Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino - who are out due to injury.
However, in a stunning display of skills, Divock Origi and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum both scored twice as Barcelona surrendered a three-goal first-leg lead to exit the Champions League in the semi-finals for the second straight season.
After the win, Klopp gushed, “With any other team I wouldn't think it was possible. They are really mentality giants...It is unbelievable the season we had, the games we had, the injuries we had now. Going out there and putting in a performance like this on the pitch is unbelievable. I am really proud to be the manager of this team. What they did tonight was really special.”
On the other hand, Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has to face up to the second major European embarrassment of his time in charge. The Spanish champions blew a 4-1 first-leg lead to bow out at the quarter-finals against Roma last year. Valverde lamented, “The most hurtful thing is to repeat it...When you have a collapse of this nature we will have a few horrible days ahead.” Reports indicate he might struggle to retain his job despite Barcelona winning two LaLiga titles in his tenure.
In football news, Atletico Madrid captain Diego Godin announced on Tuesday that he would leave the club at the end of the current season.
Godin has been one of the best central defenders in the world under Atletico coach Diego Simeone. The 33-year-old would not confirm his next club but indicated regret at not being able to agree to a new contract.
An emotional Godin said, “I'm nervous, even more than for a match. These will be my final days at Atletico Madrid. I want to communicate all the love I have for this club, this shirt. I am Atletico because this is not a club, it's a family and a way of life. It has been my home and it's very hard to say goodbye. I never imagined this moment would come and I am not prepared.”
Godin has made 381 appearances for Atletico and remains a key figure in the team, but the Uruguayan has rejected offers to extend his contract, which expires on 30 June. He explained, “In short, I am captain of the team and have been here many years. We have not reached an agreement to continue so my time here is over. It has been the best of my career and my life.”
That said, Godin is unlikely to be the last high-profile player to leave Atletico this summer. After a disappointing season, Lucas Hernandez has agreed to join Bayern Munich, while uncertainty hangs over the futures of Filipe Luis, Juanfran, Thomas Partey, Saul Niguez and even Antoine Griezmann.
In tennis news, Andy Murray has been given a wildcard to play at London's Queen's Club next month even though he has yet to set a date for a potential return to the court after a hip surgery.
The British former World No 1, currently ranked 217 in the world, underwent a hip resurfacing operation in London in January and says he is now pain-free, but he has only been hitting balls from a stationary position so far. He has an official deadline of 18 June to apply for a wildcard for this year's Wimbledon, though tournament chiefs last week suggested there might be some wiggle room for the three-time Grand Slam champion.
Meanwhile, Queen’s Club, which is to be played between 17-23 June, could offer the five-time former winner a chance of some grass-court action ahead of Wimbledon, should he feel fit enough.
Murray had mentioned before the Australian Open that he planned to retire after this year's Wimbledon, but also revealed that the tournament in Melbourne could prove to be his final event.
The Afghanistan cricket team’s chief selector denied there was any rift between players after change of guard and claimed he expects the team to reach the semi-finals at the World Cup.
Afghanistan's star spinners Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi expressed concerns on social media when national cricket selectors decided to replace Asghar Afghan as the captain of the ODI team. Rashid and Nabi had commented that changing the captain of the team just before the World Cup could affect the morale of the team and cause some uncertainty among the players.
At the launch of Afghanistan's team jersey on Tuesday, chief selector Dawlat Khan Ahmadzai said Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi were upset with the decision but understood the motive behind changing the captain. He also put to rest any talk of distance created between the players due to the decision, especially between the two spinners and the new captain Gulbadin Naib.
Ahmadzai explained, “That comment from Rashid was his personal point of view. He said that it was not the right time to change the captain. But later on, he understood the decision. Nabi tweeted as well that everything is fine after a few days. We have our own discipline committee who looks after this. But on this topic, there is nothing serious we are doing. This debate is now over.”
He added that the new skipper is not an unknown player. Naib has been around the team for 7 years and is an experienced campaigner.
When asked what prompted the selectors to have a different captain for Afghanistan in different formats, Ahmadzai said, "We have done split because now the Test captain can focus on Test team and the other formats captains on their own. I think it will work."
Speaking of his country’s chances at the World Cup, the chief selector said the Afghanistan team has been preparing well for the last six months to play in English conditions. He went on to say that the team is eyeing a semi-final spot in the ten-nation event. He said, "We are ready to take part in the tournament and you will see a prepared unit at the World Cup. We are expecting to reach the semis. We can beat a few teams in World Cup, looking at the strength in our team. I think we can beat a few Asian teams. We don't have a weak team, they just need streamlining."
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The Egypt forward twice tested positive for COVID-19 during the international break and missed the 3-0 win over Leicester in the Premier League on Sunday.
Klopp described his one meeting with Maradona as like "meeting the Pope", but believes the love shown after his death could have helped prevent some of his excesses.
The 33-year-old played four ODIs — from which he took three wickets — and one T20 International. He last played for India in 2010. He featured in 14 Indian Premier League matches for Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad.