A lot has happened over the last seven days in the sporting world. While Jose Mourinho leads his Manchester United side to China for their pre-season tour, while simultaneously attempting to break the bank to attain Paul Pogba, the rest of the world is gearing up for the Rio Olympics. However, here’s a lowdown on what is happening in other arenas:
Ah, there’s something about writing the words ‘Test Cricket‘. I feel traditional already, aching to applaud on the line of “well played, sah”. The home of cricket, the Lord’s Ground in London, bore witness to yet another English summer Test match defeat – their third in three years (Ashes 2014, India 2015) – to a young, Misbah-led Pakistani Test team. There was no James Anderson or Ben Stokes, both of who will return in the next Test match beginning today at Old Trafford. Pakistan won by 75 runs, their third consecutive victory over the England Test team – carrying on from where they left off in UAE late last year. Suddenly, people are hailing Yasir Shah as the best leg-spinner to hit the scene since Shane Warne. A 10-wicket haul at Lord’s, on a surface traditionally unhelpful to spinners, seals his name on the Honours Board along with his captain Misbah, who scored a first-innings century to put his team on top.
The last two times a visiting team won a Test at Lord’s, they went on to lose thrice to the home team in the same series. Australia lost the Ashes 3-2, India lost 3-1 after winning the first Test, and Pakistan will hope the same fate doesn’t await them.
Virat Kohli scored his 12th Test century on Thursday against West Indies in the first Test of four. India ended the day on 302/4, with Kohli unbeaten on 143 and looking good to get his first-ever international double ton. It’s almost like the format change made no difference to the Indian captain; he started from where he left off in his record-shattering T20 season. You remember. That was two months ago. Yet, on a slow, sluggish pitch in the Caribbean, Kohli made amends for his disastrous debut Test tour back in 2011. He has already doubled his three-Test score of that series (76) in one innings, and India will look to hammer the hosts inside four days to drive home their new 5-bowler strategy with R. Ashwin as the floating all-rounder. The move to send him above Wriddhiman Saha is a smart one, for he is a better Test batsmen than any other "batting all-rounders" India have chosen in the last decade.
INDIAN PREMIER FUTSAL LEAGUE
Thursday’s final round of group games saw Kochi snatch the semifinal place after drawing 3-3 with Chennai – who ended the stages without winning a single game. Chennai joined Bengaluru on the plane home after their neighbours met a similar fate, being destroyed by group-toppers Goa, and ending the league stage without a win. This means that Mumbai will face Kolkata in the first semi, while Goa will face Kochi to reach the final at home.
Earlier in the week, a 36-year-old Ronaldinho lit the league up with a stunning five-goal burst against poor Bengaluru, but had to leave the tournament to go back to Brazil and be the Paralympics brand ambassador. The two-time World Player Of The Year made a mockery of the Bengaluru defence, ignoring his ever-expanding waistline to make it seem as if we were playing FIFA Street back in the day on cheat mode.
46-year-old lefty Phil Mickelson hadn’t won a round since the 2013 British Open. Yet, he came to the Royal Troon and finished 17 under for the tournament – perfection on all accounts. And he lost by three shots. Henrik Stenson became the first male Swede to win the Claret Jug with one of the finest performances in major championship history. 20 Under, think about that for a second. To put things into perspective, the third-placed J.B. Holmes finished at six under – a full 11 shots behind Mickelson. This was the Federer-Nadal Wimbledon 2008 duel in Golf – a level so high that others could just watch and shake their heads in disbelief. In the final round, they went at each other like mad men, with Stenson finishing with a record-tying 63. This was the 11th time Mickelson finished runner-up at a major, and on any other day, in any other era, against any other player, he would have been holding the Jug once again. But on Sunday, he was unfortunate enough to face off against the reincarnation of Jack-Nicklaus-Tiger-Woods-at-peak spirit in the 40-year-old Swede.
The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place this weekend, with defending World Champion Lewis Hamilton only three points behind teammate and rival Nico Rosberg – a rare German who looks destined to finished second throughout his career.
TOUR DE FRANCE
Britain may not be happy with its current political weather, but with Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win, Hamilton’s F1 championship performances and two-time defending Tour De France Champion Chris Froome, they are a happy sporting nation right now. Froome blazed away in the 17th stage time trial, winning it in 30 minutes and 43 seconds, and putting in enough time to seal himself as a sureshot (pending death or disaster) winner of this year’s edition. He is almost four minutes ahead of nearest rival Bauke Mollema now. Froome won the 2013 edition after finishing second behind Bradley Wiggins in 2012, retired in 2014 and won the 2015 edition with Team Sky.
Froome now wants to win the gold at the Time Trial and Road Race at the Rio Olympics next month – an unprecedented triple – after winning the bronze in 2012. There is no betting against a man who is currently the best cyclist on the planet.