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IPL 2024: 'Nitish Reddy has become completely different batter now', says Abdul Samad

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Mullanpur, April 10 (IANS) Sunrisers Hyderabad’s lower-order batter Abdul Samad praised Nitish Kumar Reddy for his all-round efforts in the side’s two-run win over Punjab Kings in IPL 2024, adding that seam-bowling all-rounder has become a changed player in terms of batting.

On Tuesday evening, Reddy hit a 37-ball 64 to lift SRH’s innings from 64/4 to 182/9, which proved to be a game-changer. He also used his seam-bowling skills to dismiss Jitesh Sharma in the 16th over and finish with figures of 1-33 in three overs, apart from taking a superb catch in the deep to be adjudged Player of the Match.

“Last year, Nitish wasn’t batting like how he did against Punjab in this game. Last year, he was a middle-order batter and played conventional shots. He has now become a completely different batter this time around, and he did prepare really well ahead of this tournament.

“Even in our practice matches, he was doing well and made a good impact. Everyone has been impressed by him and that’s why he has been backed this season (to come good),” said Samad, who made 25 off 12 balls, in the post-match press conference.

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Asked about Reddy’s promotion to number four, Samad opined, “The confidence he had from the last game (where he finished off the match against CSK), we wanted to him to carry it forward. That’s why he was promoted up the order. Everyone had confidence him that he would deliver well in Tuesday’s match.”

In defence of 182, SRH were given an almighty scare as Ashutosh Sharma (33 not out off 15 balls) and Shashank Singh (46 not out off 25 balls) took them really close to chasing down the total through their partnership of 66 runs off just 27 balls.

“We dropped two catches and they came really close (to chasing down the total), otherwise we would have won by 15 runs. Shashank and Ashutosh played really well in the final overs so it was a good contest,” added Samad.

He also felt SRH’s success with the bat is majorly happening due to blistering starts in power-play this time, though it wasn’t the case in Tuesday’s match at Mullanpur. “One of the biggest things to have happened with us is the start in power-play. For last three-four years, we couldn’t get great starts in power-play.

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“But this time around, all the batters, right from opening to the middle order, are in great form. When you get the start of 70-80 runs in power-play, then it makes life easy in giving opposition the target of 220-240 runs, which is helping us in winning matches this time.”

With Nitish adding another chapter to uncapped Indian Players shining bright, Samad thinks the lesser-known players dishing out eye-catchy performances is happening due to their eagerness to prove themselves at the big stage.

“For many domestic players, this is their first season of IPL and they have got nothing to lose. They are really eager to perform well and they have a lot of hunger to put their best foot forward.”

Similar views were echoed by PBKS batter Shashank. “The only thing is the self-belief. Like the way we played in domestic cricket. Like you see Nitish here. He scored and took wickets in white-ball and red-ball both. Ashutosh, you see that he did very well in the Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare trophy. But the others who are coming in, like Angkrish (Raghuvanshi) from KKR.

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“So the players who are coming in, yes may be unknown here, but they are known players in the domestic circuit. We play domestically and they are doing very well. So it is the reward for that. Whatever you do domestically, you continue doing the same here.

“That performance brings you here. Cricket is a game of self-belief. I think at this level, whatever you perform, you bring confidence and self-belief here and then you do well here. Obviously luck is a part, but then that self-confidence is always there.”

–IANS

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'If they don’t want me…': Erik Ten Hag addresses exit rumours after FA Cup triumph

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London, May 26 (IANS) Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag silenced much of the criticism by defeating Manchester City to win the FA Cup final. Amid recent rumors suggesting that the Dutch manager is soon to be sacked, the 54-year-old addressed his future, stating that if “the club doesn’t want him, he’ll go elsewhere to win trophies.”

Ten Hag’s comment stem from the reports which suggested that the club’s stakeholders has already made it’s decision and he will be sacked despite the result in the FA Cup final. However, more developments on the matter should follow in the coming days.

“I don’t think about this. I am in a project and we are exactly where we want to be, we are constructing a team for the future. When I took over we were in a mess,” said Ten Hag in the post game press conference.

Manchester United’s 13 FA Cup trophy is sure to be one of the sweetest for the club considering the side is coming off a group stage exit in the UEFA Champions League and their worst ever finish in the Premier League.

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“The team is developing, the team is winning and the team plays to an identity but you need the players to be available and a a strong squad especially when you play in England and Europe. There is a lot of work to do but we have value in the squad, high potentials, the team is progressing and we are winning trophies,” added the former Ajax Manager.

“Two trophies in two years is not bad, three finals in two years is not bad. If they don’t want me, then I go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I do,” he concluded.

–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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