The Sports Week That Was and Will Be

And so it has ended! With the Euro football Championships 2016 around the corner, cricket season will go cold for a while. An overdose of T20 cricket (or is there such a thing) in the first half of the year means that Test season has started with a bit of a whimper. Meanwhile, it will be the busiest time of the year for every other sport in the world. 

Here’s a roundup, and what to look forward to over the next seven days:

CRICKET

The Sri Lankan cricket team finally resembled a cricket team in the second innings of the second Test against England at Chester-le-Street. After losing by an embarrassing innings and 88 runs (despite England scoring less than 300 in their only innings) in the first Test, Sri Lanka were made to follow on again in the second Test after scoring just 101 to England’s 498. All looked lost until the Lankans finally woke up, fighting with a Dinesh Chandimal century, giving England some competition to rack up 475, which left them to score only 80 to win. England won the Test easily again, and with it, the series, but they won’t be happy with their second innings bowling effort. Alastair Cook became the youngest ever batsman to cross 10000 runs, and the only Englishman to do so. His average has dipped over the last few seasons, but he is still England captain, and their most solid opener. Perhaps the final Test at Lords in a week will be more competitive.

The Indian T20 League Final played out between favorites Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday night. Virat Kohli and his men were expected to carry on their winning streak, especially on home soil, but David Warner and his band of boys shocked them with a marauding 209, before the Challengers failed to challenge the total, falling short by eight runs despite Chris Gayle’s heroics. The best bowling team of the tournament defeated the best batting team – always a good omen for cricket as a whole. Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended with the Purple Cap (23 wickets), and Warner won his first title, and Hyderabad their second after 2009. Virat Kohli will wonder what other records he needs to shatter in order to be part of a title-winning team again. The Champions Trophy in England next year could well be his greatest test, especially after he failed so miserably in the Test series last time.

TENNIS

The French Open was rocked by Rafael Nadal’s pullout, but chugged on through crippling rain delays and lack of star power to present a fairly straightforward semifinal line-up: Andy Murray has struggled throughout, but managed to come through against local man Richard Gasquet to book his semifinal against defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who himself had to come through a scare in the first round. Wawrinka will start as favorite to reach his second consecutive final. But Murray can’t be counted out to reach his first ever final in Paris. The other semifinal is as interesting: Novak Djokovic, best player in the universe, is back in his 31st major semifinal, and will face an upcoming future champion (finally, someone), the Austrian player Dominic Thiem, who profited from the pullouts of Nadal and Tsonga in his half. Djokovic, of course, is the overwhelming favorite, but nobody would begrudge Thiem his fairy tale run to the final. Or perhaps even a title. Dogs could fly too.

Prediction for the final: Novak Djokovic v/s Stan Wawrinka

In the women’s half, look no further than Serena Williams. Again. She has looked patchy, but does just enough to steam through. She must be hurting after losing in the Australian Open final to Angelique Kerber. Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, who were gunning for their fourth Slam in a row, lost in the third round, furthering the belief that their form has dipped over claycourt season. In the Mixed Doubles, Sania Mirza and her partner Ivan Dodig are on a crash course to face Leander Paes and Martina Hingis – a mouth-watering clash in a major.

F1

Lewis Hamilton won his first ever Monaco Grand Prix over the unfortunate Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo after the pit-lane goof-up by his team. He is now closer to teammate Nico Rosberg in the championship standings after six races, and will hope to take forward his patchy season from here on. It was good news for Team India as Sergio Perez took third place – their first podium of the season. 

FOOTBALL

The Champions League 2016 final happened on Saturday night between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Once again, Real pipped a heartbroken Atletico to the title at the last moment, this time with a perfect penalty shootout after defeating them in added time back in 2014 on the same stage. Madrid won their 11th title, while Diego Simeone’s Atletico went trophiless in a season they could have won the league as well as in Europe after beating Barcelona and Bayern Munich over four legs.

The Euros begin on June 10th in France.

 

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