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'Just like Roger Federer’: Robin Uthappa praises Dhoni's brilliance behind the wicket

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New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Former Indian batter Robin Uthappa heaped praise on MS Dhoni after the former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper delivered a stunning run-out from behind the wicket on the last delivery of Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) inning, dismissing Anuj Rawat in the opener match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024.

The 43-year-old cricketer defied doubts and dazzled with his enduring fitness and agility despite undergoing knee surgery after the IPL 2023 season.

Robin Uthappa, echoed the sentiments of many, marveling at Dhoni’s dedication, likening his work ethic to that of the tennis legend Roger Federer. Uthappa’s insights into Dhoni’s recovery regimen, which included tennis sessions, offered a glimpse into the meticulous preparation that paved the way for Dhoni’s triumphant return to the IPL arena.

“He certainly does. His knee looks brand new at the moment,” Robin Uthappa told JioCinema on Friday.

“The fact that he is jogging and striding well just goes to show he has done the work behind the scenes. Just like Roger Federer. Nobody knows the kind of work ethic he has got, but he turns up in tournaments and looks really good. MS Is doing that.”

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Uthappa also shed light on how Dhoni used some tennis sessions to return to fitness while he was on the road to recovery after knee surgery last year.

“He is looking good, looking healthy and strong from the looks of it, seems to be batting well. Like I said in the past, CSK will play MS Dhoni on a wheelchair. But, I think he has begun well. He will be happy about it. He has been playing tennis, and paddle tennis to keep himself fit. He looks as good as gold at the moment,” Uthappa said.

CSK defeated RCB in the opener by six wickets after restricting them on par score.

–IANS

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IPL is better preparation for England than T20 games against Pakistan: Vaughan ahead of T20 WC

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Vaughan opined that playing in IPL would have served English players “better preparations for the T20 World Cup than playing against Pakistan” after the hoast of players returned home from the cash-rich league.

Will Jacks, Phil Salt, and Jos Butler were among the players who ended their IPL campaign before the playoffs and returned home to participate in the four-match home series against Pakistan.

“I think you’re going to miss the trick by sending all their players home. You know, I think Will Jacks, Phil Salt, Jos Butler, in particular, playing in the IPL in the eliminators, pressure, crowd, expectation. I would argue that playing here is better preparation than playing a T20 game against Pakistan,” said Vaughan on the Club Praire Fire Podcast.

After the culmination of the series against Pakistan, England will head for the T20 pinnacle in the West Indies and the USA, starting on June 1 (local time). The defending champions will not play any warm-up match and will take on Scotland in their opening match on June 4.

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The first game of the series was called off due to rain while in the second match, England sealed a 23-run win in Edgbaston on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead.

Pakistan won the toss and invited the hosts to bat first. England skipper Jos Buttler gave his side a great start to the game scoring 84 runs while Will Jacks hit 37 as the two batters propelled their side’s total to 183 in 20 overs.

Reece Topley grabbed three wickets in the second innings with Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer chipped in with two scalps each to restrict Pakistan to 160/9.

England will now square up against Pakistan in the third game, scheduled to be played at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday, May 28.

–IANS

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Malaysia Masters: Sindhu falters in thrilling final against China's Wang Zhi Yi (Ld)

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Kuala Lumpur, May 26 (IANS) Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu came close to winning the Malaysia Masters women’s singles title but fell short to China’s Wang Zhi Yi in a thrilling three-game final 21-16, 5-21, 16-21, here on Sunday.

It was Sindhu’s first BWF World Tour Final since Spain Masters in April 2023. Overall, it was her seventh tournament of the year. She has returned from injury at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

The 28-year-old Indian had been on a roll throughout the tournament. She displayed her aggressive style and exceptional movement in the semifinal, where she pulled off a dramatic comeback against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan after losing the opening game. She had earlier defeated top seed Chinese shuttler Han Yue in the quarterfinals.

However, against the world no. 7 Wang, things were different. The first game started brightly for Sindhu. Intercepting shuttles with impressive anticipation, she dominated the net and secured a comfortable 21-16 win.

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The second game, however, turned into a nightmare. Sindhu struggled with the drift on the court, committing uncharacteristic errors and losing 5-21.

Determined to bounce back, Sindhu began the third game with a fiery display. Her aggressive net play pushed Wang on the back foot, building a commanding 11-3 lead. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be sustained. The Chinese shuttler, showing resilience, capitalised on Sindhu’s fatigue and clawed her way back into the game.

A series of long rallies and Sindhu’s mounting frustration ultimately allowed Wang to complete a stunning turnaround, winning the final game 21-16 and claiming the title.

The loss in the final means Sindhu’s two-year title drought continues after she last won a major title at the Singapore Open in 2022.

–IANS

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Sindhu loses to Wang Zhi Yi in Malaysia Masters final

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Kuala Lumpur, May 26 (IANS) Ace Indian shutter PV Sindhu finished runner-up at the Malayasia Masters, BWF Super 500 turnament, after losing to second seed Chinese Wang Zhi Yi in the women’s singles final, here on Sunday.

Sindhu, seeded fifth in the tournament, suffered a hard fought 21-16, 5-21, 16-21 loss at the hands of asian Champion Wang in a match that lasted for 79 minutes at the Axiata Arena.

It was the 28-year-old Indian’s first BWF World Tour Final since Spain Masters in April 2023. Overall, it was her seventh tournament of the year. She has returned from injury at the Badminton Asia Team Championships in February.

More to follow.

–IANS

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Monaco GP: 'It’s not going to be enjoyable', Verstappen predicts tough race for Red Bull

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Monaco, May 26 (IANS) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has struggled with his car ever since the first practice session in Monaco as he finished sixth on the grid following the qualifying session.

Following the end of the qualifying session on Saturday, Verstappen revealed how much he struggled with the car and how the race on Sunday would “not going to be enjoyable.”

“To be honest, I was positively surprised all the way until Q3 that we were actually looking like we were in the mix – it was a big surprise to me. But it’s just like driving on a knife’s edge. I can’t drive on the kerbs, to be honest. That’s why we are losing so much time in Sector 2… I have to drive around everything while everyone else is just ploughing over it,” said the Dutchman to reporters after the qualifying session.

Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc shone brightly at his home race qualifying as he grabbed pole position followed by McLaren’s Oscar Piastri at P2, teammate Carlos Sainz at P3 and Lando Norris at P4.

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“It’s costing a lot of lap time, the car is like a go-kart over the kerbs and the bumps, so it’s just incredibly difficult. If you turn in one centimeter too late you might bounce half a meter more to the left or the right, and that makes it just very unpredictable.

“We were very good in the medium to high-speed, where you don’t have the bumps so much, so that’s where I felt really comfortable and it was actually a lot of fun to drive, but we lost too much in all the low-speed,” added the three-time World Champion.

Verstappen was not the only Red Bull driver who struggled on the day as teammate Sergio Perez was eliminated in Q1 making it evident to the struggles the team is facing when it comes to pace on the track.

“It’s not going to be enjoyable, every lap that I did so far, in the low-speed it’s a challenge to be consistent. Of course, in the race, you don’t push it to the limit, everyone is saving [the car] and just making sure you have the tyres to go with it. We’ll all calm down a little bit but we don’t have the fastest car anyway, so all the cars that are ahead of us are faster. We’ll just try to follow. It’s Monaco, things can happen, but I also don’t expect miracles,” said Verstappen, who won last year’s race in Monaco.

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–IANS

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Jrue Holiday pulls up clutch as Celtics complete 18-point comeback to extend lead over Pacers

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Indianapolis, May 26 (IANS) Boston Celtics pulled off a dramatic comeback, defeating the Indiana Pacers 114-111 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

In a gutsy performance on Saturday night, Jrue Holiday, battling an illness, emerged as the hero with a clutch three-point play and a game-saving steal in the final seconds.

The Pacers got off to a hot start, building an 18-point lead in the first half. However, the resilient Celtics refused to go down without a fight. Jayson Tatum, leading the charge with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Jaylen Brown (24 points) and Al Horford (23 points, 7 threes) provided crucial support, keeping Boston within striking distance.

The turning point came in the final stretch. With the score tied and 38 seconds left, Holiday, who was listed as questionable with an illness before the game, took over. He converted a contested three-pointer and drew a foul, giving the Celtics a crucial three-point lead. Indiana didn’t give up, but Holiday sealed the victory with a crucial steal on Andrew Nembhard (career-high 32 points) with just 3.3 seconds remaining.

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“For him to come out here and put it all on the line for us and come up with a big play to win the game, we’ve got a hell of a team,” said Tatum in the post match interview.

The win extends Boston’s playoff winning streak to six games. The Celtics now have a chance to clinch their second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons with a victory in Game 4 on Monday night in Indianapolis.

The Pacers, missing the crucial playmaking of All-NBA guard Tyrese Haliburton due to a hamstring injury, were unable to hold on to their early lead. This marks their first loss at home in the postseason, snapping a seven-game winning streak. With their backs against the wall, Indiana will need to find a way to respond and avoid a sweep if they want to extend their dream run.

Brief Scores:

Boston Celtics 114 (Tatum 36 pts, Brown 24 pts)

Indiana Pacers 111 (Nembhard 32 pts, Siakam 22 pts)

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–IANS

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