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Saturday, June 3, 2017

MI wins IPL 2017 ~ Elina Svitolina wins Italy open

Much was to happen at Rajiv Gandhi International stadium at Uppal, Hyderabad on 21st May 2017 – IPL 10 finals – on that fateful day when the former PM was assassinated cruelly 26 years ago !

A half-controlled square-cut from Dhoni sped between backward point and short third man, and two balls later Smith reverse-swiped Krunal for six. Fourteen came off that over, and Rising Pune seemed to be back on track.  A small target of 130 against an attack of Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya,  Karn Sharma, ageing Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson, only 3 wickets lost in 19 overs – a last ball finish, not exactly the ingredients to glory.    It’s not about how you start things, but how you finish it, said  –  Mahela Jayawardene, MI Coach. 

Away, the Italian Open (also known by its sponsored name Internazionali BNL d'Italia) is an annual tennis tournament held in Rome, Italy. It is one of the most prestigious red clay tennis tournaments in the world after the French Open.  World number two Novak Djokovic said Andre Agassi will be his new coach after the Serb lost in the Italian Open final to Alexander Zverev. The 12-time Grand Slam winner parted company with his entire coaching team earlier in May. The news was confirmed after German Zverev, 20, stunned Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to win in Rome.

Djokovic had said the "shock therapy" of splitting with his backroom team, including Marian Vajda - who has been with him through almost all of his career - would help achieve better results. Boris Becker, a six-time Grand Slam winner, left in December after three years as the 29-year-old's main coach. Now he has brought in American Agassi, who retired in 2006 after a career which yielded eight Grand Slam titles wins.

Elina Svitolina fought back from a set down to stun Simona Halep 46 76 61 and win her first Internazionali BNL d’Italia title at the Foro Italico on Sunday. In a compelling final which was full of twists and turns, it was Svitolina who was able to put a slow start behind her and get across the finish line first, eventually prevailing in two hours and seven minutes to win her fourth title of the year.  Legendary tennis player, Rod Laver was in attendance at the Foro Italico on Sunday to receive the ‘Golden Racket’, a prestigious award which is presented annually at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to a male and female great of the game. This year the award was presented to Laver and Flavia Pennetta, who was unable to be there due to the birth of her son, Federico, on Friday. Australia’s Laver, who won 11 Grand Slam titles, was the champion at the Italian Open in 1962 and 1971. He was presented with the award by Nicola Pietrangeli before the men’s singles final on Sunday.

I never imagined that it will be a last ball finish, seeing the way MI crumbled.  They started too cautiously   with only seven coming off the first two overs, against Jaydev Unadkat's back-of-a-length cutters and Washington Sundar's flat, stump-to-stump offspin. Then Unadkat dismissed both openers in the third over - a short ball cramping Parthiv Patel's attempt to pull, a slower ball clipping Simmons' leading edge and popping back for a diving return catch. Mumbai never really recovered from there, despite Rohit Sharma smacking Lockie Ferguson for four fours in the sixth over. Adam Zampa removed Rohit and Kieron Pollard in the 11th over, and Mumbai were 65 for 5.  From there they crawled to 129 – seemingly low score.

Man of the finals, Krunal Pandya was Mumbai's hero with the bat, his 38-ball 47 dragging them from 79 for 7 to an eventual 129 for 8, a total that would enable their bowlers to scrap all the way. Then, helped along by Pune's ODI-style top-order approach, those scrapping bowlers managed to make the required rate creep steadily upwards - with five overs to go, Pune were only two down but needed 47 from 30.  With 33 required of 24, Bumrah bowled an excellent over, removing Dhoni and conceding only 3.  It boiled down to 13 off the last over by Mitchell Johnson with Manoj Tiwary at the crease and Aussie Capt Steve Smith who played 50 balls in all as non-striker.   Tiwary was undone by the slower ball, only managing to drag it round to long-on. Then Smith, having crossed over, timed an inside-out slice perfectly, but straight to sweeper cover.

With three balls left, Pune needed seven, with two new batsmen at the crease. Washington Sundar brought Christian on strike off the fourth ball, failing to make contact with a wide-ish yorker but managing to scamper a bye. Then Christian, slogging at another full slower one, was dropped by Hardik running forward from deep midwicket - he sprinted a second, and Pune needed four from the last ball.  Bowling from around the wicket, Johnson went full and straight. Christian whipped it away to the left of deep square leg. J Suchith, the substitute fielder, fumbled at the boundary, allowing a second run. That wouldn't do for Pune. They needed four to win, and three to tie. The batsmen chased a desperate third with Suchith's throw almost already in Parthiv Patel's gloves. Once Parthiv collected it safely, only one result was possible. Mumbai Indians, playing their fourth final, wrapped up their third title, winning by one run.

The last ball of Rising Pune Supergiant's two years in the IPL wouldn't be the last ball they wanted.  Now we will wait for an year for Team CSK to be back in the arena and matches being played at Chepauk.  Namma Ooru Chennaikku periya visil adinga !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd May 2017.

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