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IPL 2024: Moody, Jaffer, Uthappa marvel at Dhoni's impressive fitness after nine-ball 28 vs LSG

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Mumbai, April 20 (IANS) Former Australia cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody and ex-India players, Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa have hailed Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s fitness after the former Chennai Super Kings’ skipper came up with another brilliant knock in the death overs of Match 34 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 in Lucknow.

Dhoni nailed the last bite by scoring an unbeaten 28 off nine deliveries to help CSK reach a modest 176/6 in 20 overs, helping the five-time champions when they looked like finishing with only 150-odd. Dhoni gave the finishing touch to the innings after Ravindra Jadeja kept CSK afloat with an unbeaten 57.

However, K.L. Rahul (82) and Quinton de Kock (54) shared a 134-run opening partnership during a batting masterclass, helping Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the highest successful run chase at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow on Friday.

Moody said Dhoni was still very fit, very focussed and hungry even at 42 and was doing well even without playing any cricket before IPL 2024.

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“42 years old, still very fit, still very focussed, still very hungry, but the puzzle is, he does not play any cricket coming in and playing in the IPL. It is hard to come out of the cold and suddenly have that expectation to be able to perform at an elite level is near impossible,” Moody was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

After not getting to bat in CSK’s first two matches, Dhoni hammered an unbeaten 38 off 16 balls against Delhi Capitals in a losing cause at Vizag on March 31. Last week, the former India captain blasted a hat-trick of sixes in the final over in a blazing 4-ball unbeaten 20 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium that helped CSK beat MI by 20 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.

Considering Dhoni’s blistering form, former India cricketers Wasim Jaffer and Robin Uthappa too joined the queue to praise the veteran batter with Uthappa saying that the only thing that could stop Dhoni is his health.

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Jaffer said hitting in the death overs is very difficult, but Dhoni still does it very smoothly. It is incredible to watch Dhoni deliver without any match practice, said Jaffer.

“It’s incredible. Hitting in death is one of the most difficult things against the bowlers who are on top of their game, playing international cricket, and he does that so easily. It’s incredible to watch him do that without any match practice,” said Jaffer.

Uthappa said the only thing stopping Dhoni would be his own body but claimed that the CSK star’s mind is still up to it and looking to play innovative shots.

“Well, I think the only thing that’s stopping him is his health. I think his fitness will be the only thing that stops him from playing any further. He loves the game. He’s deeply passionate about it and wants to continue playing it. But if there’s anything that will stop him, I think it will be his own body. That will probably give way because the mind is there. The mind is innovating. The mind is staying up to date. He’s like, oh, everyone’s playing the ramp shot. I can do it too,” Uthappa said on JioCinema.

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Zaheer said the roar accompanying Dhoni’s walk to the middle or while he is batting seems to be getting louder with each knock, adding that it was unbelievable to see Dhoni put pressure on the bowlers.

“The roar is getting bigger and better and louder, and so is MS Dhoni’s presence there out on the field. He’s just getting better and better with every inning that he’s playing and just the sheer impact of him, just unbelievable to see him go out there and put this kind of pressure on the bowlers, just phenomenal,” said Zaheer on JioCinema.

Early this season, Dhoni handed the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad after leading CSK to their fifth IPL title in 2023.

–IANS

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Golf: Scheffler hauls himself into contention with 63, lies second at Charles Schwab

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Texas (USA), May 26 (IANS) Scottie Scheffler is back in contention as he shot 7-under 63, his best round of the week at the Charles Schwab Challenge. Now at 10-under, he is second but four shots behind leader Davis Riley (66) who is 14-under.

Scheffler made a great charge at the end. He birdied 15-16-17 and pulled closer to Riley.

Riley shot a 4-under 66 at Colonial Country Club, setting up the Sunday question of whether he can hold off world No. 1 Scheffler for his first solo victory. Riley was at 14-under 196.

Scheffler is second alone at 10-under. He has played his last 41 holes in 13-under since his first triple-bogey of the year in the first round.

Pierceson Coody and Hayden Buckley were a stroke behind Scheffler after 69s.

Tony Finau was alone in sixth at 7-under after a 68. Collin Morikawa (67), who played in the final group at the Masters and the PGA Championship this year, was at 6-under. Morikawa was tied with three others, including Keegan Bradley.

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The top Asian was Sungjae Im (70) at 6-under and Tied-seventh, while Tom Kim (690 was 5-under and T-11.

–IANS

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Goalkeeper Debjit Majumder leaves Chennaiyin FC after three seasons

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC on Sunday announced that they have parted ways with goalkeeper Debjit Majumder, who has been with the club since 2021. During three seasons with the Marina Machans, Majumder made 38 ISL appearances for the side.

The ISL 2023-24 campaign particularly stands out as a highlight in Majumder’s career with Chennaiyin FC. Under the stewardship of head coach Owen Coyle, the goalkeeper played a pivotal role in the team’s journey to the playoffs.

Initially not the first-choice goalkeeper for Chennaiyin FC, Majumder’s opportunity arose following an injury to Samik Mitra. Seizing the moment, the experienced custodian showcased his mettle with stellar performances, securing his place in the starting lineup.

Across 19 appearances during the season, Majumder exhibited his shot-stopping prowess, tallying three clean sheets and an impressive 66 saves. Remarkably, his save count ranked third in the league, despite playing fewer matches compared to his counterparts, Amrinder Singh of Odisha FC and Bengaluru FC’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

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With a total of 82 appearances spanning seven seasons in the ISL, the goalkeeper boasts a rich reservoir of experience. Notably, he has an ISL Cup to his name, having achieved it during his stint with ATK FC in 2016.

–IANS

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Men’s T20 WC: Obed McCoy replaces injured Jason Holder in West Indies’ 15-member squad

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St. John’s (Antigua), May 26 (IANS) Pace bowler Obed McCoy has been named as the replacement for injured Jason Holder in co-hosts’ West Indies’ squad for the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup. West Indies is in Group C of the tournament and will play its first match on June 2 in Guyana against Papua New Guinea.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) said in its statement on Sunday that Holder sustained the injury during his 2024 County Championship stint for Worcestershire and added the team’s medical staff will provide all necessary support to the fast-bowling all-rounder for ensuring his swift and complete recovery.

“Jason is an experienced player in our set-up. His absence will undoubtedly be felt both on and off the field. We look forward to having a fully fit Jason with us again soon. While it is unfortunate to lose a player of Jason’s caliber, we are confident in the abilities of Obed McCoy.”

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“Obed has shown remarkable skill and promise in his performances, and this opportunity will allow him to further showcase his talent on the international stage. We believe he will bring a fresh and dynamic energy to the squad,” said lead selector Desmond Haynes.

McCoy has picked 33 wickets in 27 T20 games this year, and is known for his skillful variations, particularly at the back end of the innings. He was the leading wicket-taker on the West Indies A team’s recent tour to Nepal, and is turning out for the side in their ongoing T20I series against South Africa at Jamaica.

CWI added that Kyle Mayers, Matthew Forde, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr. and Andre Fletcher are the five reserve players who would be ready to step in if needed to the Rovman Powell-led West Indies’ side for the Men’s T20 World Cup.

“We are fortunate to have such depth and quality in our ranks. Our reserve players are all A-class talents who have proven their abilities in various formats of the game, but certainly T20. Each one of them is fully capable of slotting into the team seamlessly should the situation arise,” added head coach Daren Sammy.

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West Indies won the Men’s T20 World Cup twice – first in Sri Lanka in 2012 and then in India in 2016. Now hosting the tournament for the second time at home after 2010 edition, West Indies will be eyeing to be the first team to win a Men’s T20 World Cup on home soil.

Following their tournament opener against PNG, West Indies will face Uganda on June 8, followed by playing New Zealand at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad on June 12, and facing Afghanistan on June 17 in St Lucia.

West Indies Squad: Rovman Powell (Captain), Alzarri Joseph (Vice Captain), Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Shamar Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, and Romario Shepherd

Reserves: Kyle Mayers, Matthew Forde, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr. and Andre Fletcher

–IANS

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IPL 2024: Powerplay in both innings is going to be what shapes the game, says Mitchell Starc

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Mitchell Starc, the fast-bowling spearhead of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), believes the power-play in both innings of IPL 2024 final will be a major factor in shaping the outcome of the title clash.

KKR is up against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2024 final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and are eyeing to win their third IPL title after 2012 and 2014. KKR have beaten SRH twice already in this season of the IPL.

“Sunrisers played here a couple of nights ago but it is a different wicket, it will be about adapting with the bat and ball, I think powerplay in both innings is going to be what shapes the game, we were on the better side of that in Ahmedabad and hopefully it is the same here, but we know in T20 cricket anything can happen,” said Starc in a pre-game chat with broadcasters.

Asked about KKR’s preparation for the title clash, Starc said, “We had one (practice session) interrupted by rain last night. We all got warmed up and ready to go and then the rain came, so hopefully that’s not the case tonight.”

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“It was nice to get here early after our game in Ahmedabad, obviously we watched the other game (Qualifier 2) here last night unfold which resulted in us playing the Sunrisers, everyone is ready to go.”

After having a lean time in IPL 2024, Starc has been amongst the wickets, especially with his three-fer against SRH in Qualifier 1 playing a huge factor in KKR having an easy passage into the final. As of now, Starc has scalped 15 wickets in 13 games, averaging 28.66 at an economy rate of 11.07.

“I felt that my rhythm was building up being back into T20 cricket after a fair while, so thankfully that has been the case and got back into rhythm – the intensity and how quickly you need to adapt in T20 to conditions or how the batting team goes about it.”

“Our bowling unit has been fantastic throughout, the openers at the top order have been phenomenal as well and we have just gone about our business as a group, trying to improve game on game and find ourselves in the final. It has been nice personally to contribute to that and hopefully it is another successful night tonight,” he stated.

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Middle-order batter Rinku Singh thinks KKR’s success in IPL 2024 has been shaped by the positive team environment. “Team atmosphere is superb. Whenever we enter the dressing room, Ramandeep Singh plays Punjabi songs and it changes the environment.”

“GG (Gautam Gambhir) sir and Chandu (Chandrakant Pandit) sir have given us a lot of freedom. The thought process remains the same (for the final), playing according to the match situation.”

“It’ll be a dream come true to win a senior trophy. I’ll try to give my best. Hopefully we win the match. We have played a match here as well, so we know how the wicket plays. I never look too far ahead, I always stay in the present,” he concluded.

–IANS

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IPL 2024: Hyderabad elect to bat first in the title clash against Kolkata

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain Pat Cummins has won the toss and elected to bat first against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL 2024 title clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday. It’s the third time an IPL final is going to be played between top two teams in the points table.

Two-time champions KKR have beaten 2016 winners SRH twice in this IPL season – once in the league stage and in Qualifier 1 respectively. Sunday’s final is being played on a red-soil pitch, with 63m and 70m square boundaries, along with a straight boundary at 77m. It is the pitch where Punjab Kings beat Chennai Super Kings by seven wickets on May 1.

After winning the toss, Cummins said Shahbaz Ahmed takes Abdul Samad’s place in the playing eleven. “Looks like a good wicket, played on a different wicket the other night. There was no dew on the other night’s game, but when it does, it’s very damaging.”

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“We’ve had now dew the other night, I don’t feel there’ll be any today, I want to have a crack with the bat first. We have a style that doesn’t work always, but when it does work, it’s very damaging. We have done well defending scores,” he said.

KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer, leading a side in an IPL final for the second time, said they have bowled first on winning the toss and his playing eleven is unchanged from their Qualifier 1 win over SRH in Ahmedabad earlier this week. KKR have been unbeaten while chasing in IPL 2024.

“We’ll get a fair idea about how the pitch will play. It’s a red soil and we played our last game on a similar surface. We need to stay with the present, stick to the basics and execute all our plans. Every individual is taking responsibility, this is a big game, we’ve plenty of people who’re playing in a final for the first time, nervous, but this is also a good chance,” he said.

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Playing XIs:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wicketkeeper), Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Ramandeep Singh, Mitchell Starc, Vaibhav Arora, Harshit Rana and Varun Chakaravarthy

Substitutes: Anukul Roy, Manish Pandey, Nitish Rana, KS Bharat and Sherfane Rutherford

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Travis Head, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nitish Reddy, Heinrich Klaasen (wicketkeeper), Shahbaz Ahmed, Pat Cummins (captain), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat and T Natarajan

Substitutes: Umran Malik, Glenn Phillips, Mayank Markande, Abdul Samad and Washington Sundar

–IANS

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