Photo Credit: Mumbai Indians’ official Facebook page
The Indian Premier League (IPL) continues to encapsulate the audiences despite the World Cup 2015 drawing to a close only a few weeks ago. In these early stages, the pacesetters have been Rajasthan Royals, who have won four on the bounce. Just when it looked like the 8-wicket thrashing that was handed out to the mighty Chennai Super Kings would end up being the talking point of the day’s play, Mumbai Indians stole the thunder later that evening. Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore was outplayed but all the noises, or the lack of it, came from Kieran Pollard when he decided to use a Sellotape to cover his mouth. This cheeky decision from Pollard came after repeated warnings from the umpires about his constant chatter towards compatriot Chris Gayle.
James Anderson, Bangladesh create history
West Indies’ ODI skipper Jason Holder came to the rescue with a timely hundred, yet again proving his mettle with the bat at No 8 when his team was facing a backs-to-the-wall scenario. Holder’s ton helped West Indies to a draw but the scene-stealer was James Anderson, England’s bowling lynchpin who surpassed Ian Botham’s long-standing Test record. After snaring the wicket of Marlon Samuels, Anderson’s 384th snap, the pace ace became his country’s highest wicket-taker. Overall though, it was an enthralling Test match in Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
Bangladesh meanwhile, continued their rich vein of form that started with a superb World Cup campaign, which saw them reach the semi-finals. Playing at home, Bangladesh went one better, beating Pakistan convincingly in the three-match ODI series. While Pakistan are still rebuilding with a new captain, Bangladesh showed the giant leap they had taken in the cricketing ladder.
Chelsea edge closer to title; Liverpool’s misery deepens
With just 30 percent possession, Jose Mourinho emerged triumphant in a tactical battle yet again as Eden Hazard’s well worked goal was enough to put the lid on the game. Manchester United looked energetic and fluent in their play but sadly lacked cutting edge upfront and were dented with a couple of key figures missing.
After going through a nine year trophy-less spell, Arsenal register a place in the FA Cup final for the second consecutive time, beating Reading in a hard-fought game. Goalkeeper Adam Federici spilled a tame shot from Alexis Sanchez in extra-time and it proved to be the difference between the two sides after the scores were locked 1-1 at normal time.
Liverpool meanwhile slumped to lowly Aston Villa 1-2 and failed to give their outgoing club legend, Steven Gerrard the dream send-off that he was promised.
UEFA Champions League
The Champions League Quarter-Finals kicked-off and Real Madrid was lucky to escape with a draw against Spanish Champions and local rivals, Atletico Madrid. Gareth Bale though, missed a glorious chance early in the game. The surprise package of the evening though was FC Porto capitalizing on a Bayern Munich defense that was in tatters as they ran out with a comfortable 3-1 win at home.
Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo reach landmarks, Luis Suarez in fine form
In other Champions League quarter-finals, Luis Suarez taught kids around the world how a nutmeg is done as he twice undid Brazilian defender David Luiz’s attempts to thwart him. Barcelona won 3-1 against Paris-Saint Germain and have one foot in the semi-finals.
Lionel Messi, despite not getting the elusive goal was inspired form against in the Champions League and ought to have scored in Paris. The goal was destined to arrive at Camp Nou, it seems. Valencia were carved apart and Messi slotted the ball in to put Barca in charge of the title race.
“Anything you can do” is the policy with which these football geniuses live by with every passing week and Ronaldo registered his 50th goal of the season. He became the first player in Spanish football history to achieve the feat for five consecutive seasons.
PSV Eindhoven wrap up Eredivisie
In Holland though, the title is wrapped up as Ajax Amsterdam’s stronghold on the title is finally broken. PSV Eindhoven brought an end to their seven year league drought and manager and club legend, Phillip Cocu, in his very first full season took them back to the glory days. There were grand celebrations in downtown Amsterdam as skipper Giorginho Wijnaldum and team paraded on the top of a bus. Strikers Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong were the heroes in this campaign and were well supported by Wijnaldum and Luiciano Narsingh. Their rock-solid defense also deserves praise.
Novak Djokovic clinched the Monte Carlo masters, beating Thomas Berdych in the final but it was the semi-finals that caught everyone’s eye. A resurgent Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 in an arena where the Spanish legend has dominated over the years. Nadal’s strength over the years has been to come back from a set down but this time he surrendered momentum in the second set with the score on 3-3. Nadal had raced to a 40-0 lead before Djokovic yet again exercised his class. The 27-year-old World No 1 has only lost two games the entire season as he continues to rake in the silverware.
Sania Mirza is now the best in the world in doubles Tennis as the Hyderabadi capped off a proud month for non-Cricketing sports for India. Saina Nehwal, after a brief fall, is now back up to the No 1 Badminton women’s crown she rose to earlier in the month.
Amidst all the criticism that Ferrari has been receiving, there was the war of words between teammates and F-1’s big guns, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. While this was ensuing, Hamilton raced to a win in the Bahrain Grand Prix.