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IPL 2024: Michel Hussey believes Dhoni can carry on for ‘another couple of years’

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Former Australian cricketer and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting coach Michael Hussey believes Mahendra Singh Dhoni can continue playing for another couple of years, amid the ongoing speculation about whether this is Dhoni’s final dance in the IPL arena.

CSK has been handling Dhoni’s workload after his knee surgery. He only encounters a few deliveries when he comes out to bat. He even batted at No. 9 against Punjab Kings.

The former skipper still managed to leave his mark, with a strike rate of 226.66 and 136 runs scored in ten innings. With a hint of uncertainty, Hussey expressed hope that Dhoni would grace the field for “another couple of years.”

“Your guess is as good as mine at this stage. He keeps his cards very, very close to his chest. We are hoping he does keep going. I know fans probably want to see him batting a little bit higher in the order,” Hussey said on ESPN’s Around the Wicket show when asked if Dhoni would be back next year.

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“But that (the knee surgery) is why we have had to manage him a little bit and he only comes in at the back end. But there has been no one better in being able to come in and hit the ball so cleanly from ball one than MS. He has been phenomenal,” he said.

Battling through injury and adversity, Dhoni showcased his mastery with the bat, defying age and expectations with every innings. Though his appearances at the crease were fleeting, his impact was profound for his fans across the globe.

“He is still batting so well. He does prepare well – he gets into the camp very early and hits a lot of balls. He has been in good touch all season really. I guess we just got to try to manage him from the body side of things. He had a knee surgery after the last season. So he has been managing that from the initial stage of the tournament.

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“From a personal point of view, I hope he keeps going for another couple of years. But we will just have to wait and see. He is the only one who will make that call. And he likes to sort of build the drama a little bit as well. So I wouldn’t expect a decision anytime soon.

Dhoni, ever the strategist, had entrusted the reins of captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad, a young talent, whom he has nurtured across the years. Hussey reminisced on the moment when Dhoni declared Gaikwad as the new skipper, signaling a passing of the torch that sent ripples through the cricketing fraternity.

“MS sort of announced that he was not going to be attending the pre-tournament captains meeting. And we’re like, ‘Oh, no. What’s going on?’ He said Ruturaj was going to be captain from then on. So it was a little bit of a shock to start with but it has been managed really well,” said Hussey.

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“I know Stephen Fleming (head coach) had been working closely with Ruturaj in the lead-up to the tournament. In fact, he has been grooming him for a couple of years now. We have sort of known for a little while that he was the right man to take over the job when MS decided to step aside.

“MS wanted to still be here while the new captain took over, to try to help him along the way and sort of mentor him a little bit. So that’s worked really well as well. And obviously, Stephen Fleming is a great role model for him (Gaikwad) as well. So it’s been quite seamless actually,” he signed off.

–IANS

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'Thank you for everything', Toni Kroos gives heartfelt tribute to Real Madrid prez Florentino Perez

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Madrid, May 26 (IANS) Real Madrid’s most loyal servants stepped onto the Santiago Bernabeu for one final time on Saturday. On a night where it was all about Toni Kroos, the German gave a heartfelt tribute to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

Once the match and all tributes for the 5-time Champions League winner were over, Kroos and Perez stepped onto the pitch and had a photo clicked with all 22 trophies that the Kroos garnered during his time in Madrid.

“To my dear president, thank you for everything,” the German midfielder gave a shirt to Florentino with this dedication.

The ‘German Sniper,’ announced his shocking retirement just days before and will be playing his final game in a Los Blancos shirt on June 1 (June 2 as per IST) in Real Madrid’s attempt to grab their record extending 15th UEFA Champions League trophy.

Following the Champions League final he will be making his way back to Germany to join up with the National Team for the 2024 European Championship, which will take place in his home country.

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Over the course of his decorated career there is only one trophy that still eludes one of the greatest players of the game and that is the Euros.

A deep Euro’s run could be the fairytale ending to a career unlike no other.

–IANS

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Real Madrid playout goalless draw with Betis; Dovbyk wins top scorer, Unai Simon best keeper awards

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Madrid, May 26 (IANS) Real Madrid prepared for next weekend’s Champions League final with a 0-0 draw at home to Betis.

With the title in the bag and nothing to play for, Carlo Ancelotti used the game to rotate his side to try and have his players in the best shape for next Saturday’s match against Borussia Dortmund, but the fact Thibaut Courtois played over an hour in goal, with Andriy Lunin didn’t get a single minute, could be a pointer for the big final.

Nico William scored midway through the second half to give Athletic Club Bilbao a 1-0 win away to Rayo Vallecano in Rayo’s centenary game.

Nico took advantage of great work from Alex Berenguer down the left in the 66th minute, just after Athletic had substituted goalkeeper Unai Simon after he had gone 60 minutes without conceding a goal, to guarantee to win this season’s ‘Zamora’ trophy for the best goalkeeper.

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Relegated Almeria said goodbye to La Liga in style as they won 6-1 at home to Cadiz, whose relegation was confirmed last weekend.

Sergio Arribas and Luis Suarez both scored twice, while Gonzalo Melero added an own goal did for Cadiz, who had taken a first-half lead through Brian Ocampo, reports Xinhua.

Girona got the last round of games of the season underway on Friday with a 7-0 demolition of Granada, whose coach Jose Ramon Sandoval announced he was quitting as coach before the game. He criticized players’ attitude at the already-relegated club.

Artem Dovbyk scored a hat-trick to take his tally of league goals to 24 for the season and give him a one-goal lead over Alexander Sorloth, who was unable to overtake him in Villarreal’s 1-1 draw away to Osasuna after suffering a first-half injury.

Ante Budimir put Osasuna ahead with his 17th goal of the season, with Jose Luis Morales leveling in the 57th minute, to see Jagoba Arrasate end his successful spell as Osasuna coach with a draw.

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Atletico Madrid ended their season with a 2-0 win away to Real Sociedad thanks to an eighth-minute goal from Samuel Lino and an injury-time strike from Reinildo Mandava, which ended Real Sociedad keeper Alex Remino’s chance of ending the season with the best goalkeeping record.

–IANS

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Leverkusen beat Kaiserslautern to lift German Cup title

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS) Bayer Leverkusen clinched the DFB Cup after Granit Xhaka’s sole goal was enough to down Kaiserslautern 1-0 at Berlin Olympia stadium.

Second-division outfit Kaiserslautern started brightly into the encounter and tested Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky in the early stages as Daniel Hanslik unleashed a dangerous effort.

Leverkusen remained unimpressed and gained the upper hand as the match progressed as Jeremie Frimping, Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz kept Kaiserslautern’s defense busy, reports Xinhua.

The unbeaten Bundesliga champions showed no mercy and opened the scoring with 15 minutes into the final when Xhaka hammered home a loose ball from 19 meters into the top left corner to leave Kaiserslautern custodian Julian Krahl hapless.

Leverkusen gained momentum and should have doubled its advantage, but Schick couldn’t make the most of Alejandro Grimaldo’s good build-up work.

Kaiserslautern sparked to life in the closing stages of the first half as Leverkusen’s Odilon Kossounou received his marching orders for his second bookable offense. The second division side nearly capitalized on its numerical advantage but for all that, Tobias Raschl wasted a promising opportunity to restore parity.

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After the restart, outnumbered Leverkusen assumed control again but continued wasteful in front of the target as neither joker Amine Adli nor Josip Stanisic could beat Krahl.

Kaiserslautern chanced its luck with long-range efforts, but Hradecky was equal to the shots from Ragnar Ache in quick succession at the hour mark.

Leverkusen’s defense stood firm, but Xabi Alonso’s man failed to extend the lead as Wirtz and Frimpong pulled wide in the closing stages.

“We have suffered a lot today. The red card made the second half really difficult for us. Everyone fought though. It is a forgiving end of the season after we couldn’t win against Atalanta Bergamo in Dublin,” said Alonso.

–IANS

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Para-Athletics Worlds: Sun Pengxiang, Wen Xiaoyan set World Records as Chinese stars dominate

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Kobe (Japan), May 25 (IANS) Chinese para-athlete Sun Pengxiang won men’s javelin throw F41 gold with a new world record while Wen Xiaoyan lowered her own world record by winning the women’s 200m T37 final at the Para-Athletics World Championship here on Saturday. Liu Cuiqing set a new world record by triumphing in the women’s 200m T11 final.

With a throw of 48.94 meters in his second attempt, the 33-year-old Sun Pengxiang wowed the Universiade Memorial Stadium in Kobe by shattering the world record previously set by himself last year in Hangzhou. “I didn’t see that coming because my recent training lacked intensity due to my age and injuries, and I’m delighted with today’s performance,” said Sun, adding that he would further adjust himself for the upcoming 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

Iran’s Sadegh Beit Sayah and India’s Navdeep took the silver and bronze with throws of 47.92m and 42.82m respectively, in the field competition for athletes with short stature.

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The 26-year-old Wen Xiaoyan sprinted across the finish line in 25.75 seconds at the Universiade Memorial Stadium in Kobe, smashing the previous peak of 26.18 seconds set by herself in Hangzhou, just days after she refreshed the women’s 100m T37 world record. Wen, retaining her world championship title in the women’s long jump T37, has bagged four gold medals in short-distance races, universal relay and long jump during the nine-day tournament.

Noting that her record-breaking run was within expectations, Wen told Xinhua she felt she could have done better. Asked about the trick of breaking two world records in this tournament, Wen, with a huge smile on her face, said: “The secret lies in non-stop accumulation, scientific and systematic training, a lot of brainwork, and the spirit to overcome difficulties.”

The top para-athlete added that she would step up efforts in training her performance on the curve shortly. Taylor Swanson of the United States and China’s Jiang Fenfen finished second and third with personal bests of 26.89 seconds and 27.02 seconds in the race for athletes with coordination impairments.

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With a throw of 48.94 meters in his second attempt, the 33-year-old Sun Pengxiang wowed the Universiade Memorial Stadium in Kobe by shattering the world record previously set by himself last year in Hangzhou. “I didn’t see that coming because my recent training lacked intensity due to my age and injuries, and I’m delighted with today’s performance,” said Sun, adding that he would further adjust himself for the upcoming 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

Iran’s Sadegh Beit Sayah and India’s Navdeep took the silver and bronze with throws of 47.92m and 42.82m respectively, in the field competition for athletes with short stature.

The Kobe Para Athletics World Championships, held in East Asia for the first time, serve as a crucial qualifier for the Paris Paralympics. The championships have attracted over 1,000 athletes from 100 countries and regions competing in 168 events.

A total of 73 Chinese para-athletes are competing in the championships, which will conclude on Saturday. Originally scheduled for 2021, the event was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Rishabh Pant shares photo with teammates as India players leave for New York

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Mumbai, May 25 (IANS) Having made a grand return to action following a 15-month break because of a near-fatal accident, young wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant posed with some members of the Indian team as they departed for New York for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup here on Saturday. Pant was seen enjoying the adulation of fans and meeting his former teammates, taking selfies with fellow players at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport on Saturday.

Pant on Saturday posted a picture of some of his teammates including Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jasprit Bumrah and spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

Pant led Delhi Capitals in IPL 2024 and was also quite successful with the bat, scoring 446 runs in 13 games at an average of 40.55 and a strike rate of 155.40. However, he could not steer his side to the playoffs, as DC finished sixth in the table with 14 points from as many games.

The first batch of the Indian team, comprising captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid, reached Mumbai airport on Saturday for a late-night departure for New York to participate in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup starting from June 1.

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As per various visuals posted on social media platforms, the first batch of players, along with Indian team support staff, left for New York via Dubai and comprised of players who are not participating in the business end stage of IPL 2024.

Apart from Rishabh Pant, the other players that left for New York include Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Arshdeep Singh, Shivam Dube, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, along with reserve players Shubman Gill and Khaleel Ahmed were seen entering the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport for their travel to New York journey.

Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya were not seen in the visuals of the Indian team’s departure to New York, with some reports suggesting the latter is in London and could link up with Rohit & Co from there.

Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal and Yashasvi Jaiswal, along with reserve players Avesh Khan and Rinku Singh are expected to join the Indian side in New York in a couple of days.

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Samson, Chahal, Jaiswal and Avesh wrapped up their IPL 2024 commitments on Friday with Rajasthan Royals’ 36-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 2 at Chennai, while Rinku will play for Kolkata Knight Riders in the tournament’s title clash at Chennai on Sunday.

–IANS

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