The Sports Week That Was and Will Be

It has been an incredibly cricketing week, to say the least. Not just because Test cricket returned to the Wankhede for us to savour LIVE after three long years, but because a lot of other events seem to simultaneously be unfurling. But for now, many of us are looking forward to watch a fascinating Test match unfold in Mumbai over the weekend. In all likelihood, there will be a result to it. This is the first Test match played in Mumbai without a Mumbai player in the Indian team. 

CRICKET 

David Warner has been going great guns in 2016, but his ODI form has reached next-level heights. Today, he scored his third century in the last 10 days, reaching seven ODI centuries for the year, second only to Sachin Tendulkar’s nine in 1998. His 119 at Canberra against the Kiwis in the second match was followed by a phenomenal 156 (out of a total of 264) in Melbourne – both of which resulted in wins, with Australia taking the three-match Chappell-Hadlee Series in a clean sweep. This marks a return of form for an embattled Smith-led team that lost 5-0 not too long ago in South Africa. The player of the series, of course, was David Warner – who has had a great year personally after winning the IPL in May with the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Australia now immediately begin a Test series against Pakistan next week – with both going through a lean spell, after Pakistan lost their two tests to New Zealand and Australia fresh from a series home defeat to South Africa. 

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Meanwhile, in Mumbai, England scored 400 in their first innings after winning the toss, with debutant Keyton Jennings, a South-African born opening batsman, scoring a century on debut for England. He replaced the injured teenager Haseeb Hameed, who was seen cheering from the stands after flying back down to support his team after his operation. Jennings was completely in control until he was deceived by a R. Ashwin special, and helped his team claw into the driver’s seat along with Jos Buttler, who made the tail wag with an excellent rearguard innings. India finished the second day on 146/1, with Murali Vijay back in form with a half-century and KL Rahul continuing to flatter to deceive after promising starts. Virat Kohli is yet to come in, and knowing his status, it could just be a full house at the Wankhede over the weekend. England need to desperately win this match to stay alive in the series. A draw means they lose it, with only one Test match to go in Chennai. 

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FOOTBALL

The El Clasico last Sunday ended 1-1 after Sergio Ramos equalized in the final few minutes at the Nou Camp, with Madrid maintaining their six-point lead over their Catalan rivals. Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score, but Zinedine Zidane’s team maintained their unbeaten streak, taking it to 34 matches in all competitions. 

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Liverpool blew a 3-1 lead at Bournemouth to lose 4-3, making them fall four points off the pace and third behind an in-form Chelsea and a marauding Arsenal. They are level with Manchester City on points, after Pep Guardiola’s City was destroyed by Antonio Conte’s Chelsea on the same weekend. Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United continues to struggle in the league, drawing with Everton 1-1, still sixth in the league and nine points off the league leaders. A few days later, however, they defeated Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League, bringing some smiles to a dour Mourinho, who seems to be banned from the touchline far more often these days. United play Tottenham on Sunday in a huge match – which could potentially decide if either of them stands a real chance of challenging for the title this year. 

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TENNIS

Novak Djokovic separated from his coach Boris Becker after winning six of his 12 Grand Slams with the German legend. Djokovic endured a difficult year after winning the first two Slams of the year and completing a career Slam at the French Open, falling to no. 2 in the rankings in the final week of the season. He is struggling for consistency and motivation, and needs a boost ahead of the Australian Open starting next month. 

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Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Serena Williams pulled out of the Mahesh Bhupathi-run IPTL because of India’s current cash-crunch problem, delaying his comeback from injury to next year. He will start the year ranked at 16 – his lowest since 2002, before he ever won his first Slam.

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