We’re only a few months away from Rio Olympics 2016 and Euro Championships 2016, less than a few weeks away from the French Open 2016, and maybe still a year away from the end of India’s famous T20 league. The never-ending tournament is now approaching its business end, while things in F1 are heating up a bit, and football is gearing up for a long “off-season” where teams will have to complete in the Olympics as well as Euro. More importantly, Test cricket has returned after four long months.
Whatever the case, here’s a sporting lowdown on what has happened over the week, and what to expect over the next seven days:
After five weeks of non-stop T20 cricket, fans are none the wiser about what four teams could make it to the playoffs in what order. As many as six teams could end up with eight wins each (out of 14), but it was Royal Challengers Bangalore that stormed up the table on the back of two (more) blazing Virat Kohli centuries this week. They’re lodged firmly in the Top 4, and must only win their final game to be assured of qualification. Kolkata Knight Riders lost their way a bit, while Gujarat Lions bounced back after being humiliated by Royal Challengers early in the week. As of now, Sunrisers are in pole position with two matches to go, with the Lions, Royal Challengers, Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and a lost Delhi Daredevils scrambling for the three spots.
With nine matches left to play in total, all eight teams will play their final games this weekend. This time next week, only the final will be left to play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. Our bet is on a repeat of the 2009 final between Hyderabad and Bangalore.
18-year-old Max Verstappen made history by winning the Spanish Grand Prix – the fifth F1 race of the 2016-17 season. Trouble is again brewing between the two Championship contenders, Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, after they crashed out together on the first lap. This was their first non-finish since 2011, and owner Toto Woolf isn’t very pleased with his kids. Either way, it was good for the sport, as it always is when one team doesn’t bore with domination, with Verstappen becoming the youngest F1 driver ever to win a race.
The world’s most famous race – the Monaco Grand Prix – is coming up next weekend. “Home boy” Nico Rosberg will be aiming for a fourth win here in a row.
Liverpool were deconstructed and destroyed by perpetual Europa League Champions, Spanish Team Sevilla – who have now won more European crowns over the last decade than all English teams put together. After taking an early lead, Jurgen Klopp’s underwhelming season took a final disastrous turn with Sevilla’s striker Coke scoring twice, ending with a 3-1 win that ensures that the Merseyside team won’t be playing in the Champion’s League next season.
Manchester United finished out of the Top 4 in fifth, and will be desperate to salvage something from a frustrating season under Louis Van Gaal. Their FA Cup Final against Crystal Palace on Saturday, 21st May, will be a last chance to get some silverware in a season that has ensured they won’t play Champion’s League football next season. One suspects that Van Gaal’s immediate future depends solely on this game, too. Many fans will be hoping for Jose Mourinho to come in and clean house, but a win here could mean that Van Gaal serves out his contract.
Andy Murray shocked the world and himself by winning the Rome Masters, defeating none other than Novak Djokovic in the final. Djokovic looked spent after two sapping matches against Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori, and lost in straight sets to a resurgent Murray, who has raised his clay game to a new level since 2015. As a result, Murray is back to No. 2 in the world – and will start the French Open in Paris next week as one of Djokovic’s main rivals. Bad news for Roger Federer fans: After pulling out of Rome, he announced that he won’t be playing the French Open with a back-problem, yet to recover from his surgery fully. Looks like the clock is finally moving fast for the 34-year old Swiss legend – this is the first time he won’t participate in a slam since 1999.
The French Open. The draw will be announced, but Rafael Nadal, who is seeded fourth here, is sure to avoid Djokovic and Murray right till the finals. We know what that means.