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KXIP escape with four-run win after Dhoni special

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni Chennai Super Kings

Mohali, Apr 15 : A grimacing M S Dhoni pulled off a near impossible win for Chennai Super Kings before Kings XI Punjab scraped through with a dramatic four-run victory in the Indian Premier League here tonight.

Dhoni, battling back pain, took the match into the last over with a blistering 79 off 44 balls. However, his valiant effort did not prove to be enough as CSK ended at 193 for five in response to KXIP’s 197 for seven at the PCA Stadium.

The Super Kings needed as many as 76 off the last 30 balls and Dhoni got his team almost over the line with an innings comprising six fours and five sixes.

With 17 needing off the final over, pacer Mohit Sharma did the job for KXIP, who recorded their second win in three games this season. It was the first loss of the season for the Dhoni-led team.

Dhoni’s exhibition of powerful hitting was witnessed after the Chris Gayle show. The Jamaican showed that he was far from being a spent force as his second fastest fifty in the IPL helped KXIP put up a healthy total.

The 38-year-old, who twice went unsold at the auction before being picked up by KXIP for his base price, hammered 66 off 33 balls. The other contributions came from the in-form K L Rahul (37 off 22), Mayank Agarwal (30 off 19) and Karun Nair (29 off 17).

Gayle weaved a 96-run opening partnership alongside Rahul setting up the platform for a big score.

The West Indies raced to his half-century off 22 balls, a shade slower than his 17 ball fifty against Pune in 2013.

For CSK , Shardul Thakur and Imran Tahir picked up two scalps each while Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo got a wicket each.

Harbhajan gave Chennai the first breakthrough when Rahul was caught by Dwayne Bravo, but by then KXIP were comfortably placed and reached 100 in just 8.4 overs.

Two overs later Gayle too departed, handing over a simple catch to Imran Tahir at short fine leg off Shane Watson’s bowling.

Tahir dealt a double blow in innings’ 16th over removing a set Agarwal and Aaron Finch, who was out for a first-ball duck for the second game in a row.

Yuvraj Singh (20 off 13), who struggled in the first two games, seemed to get into his groove before Thakur had him caught behind off a short ball.

The Punjab openers made their intentions clear right from the first over when Rahul despatched medium pacer Deepak Chahar for two boundaries.

The second and third overs of the innings bowled by Harbhajan and Chahar somewhat contained the two openers, but the off-spinner was severely punished in his second over.

After a boundary, Gayle hit Harbhajan for a towering six over long off which was followed by two stylish boundaries from Rahul.

The first bowling change introduced by Dhoni to bring in Shradul Thakur did not help as Punjab batsmen continued their blistering strikes. The medium pacer was greeted by two boundaries by the West Indian while Rahul too hit a four of him.

Punjab raced to 50 in just 30 balls and there was no respite in sight for Dhoni’s bowlers.

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Coach Ravi Shastri reveals why Dhoni took the ball from umpire

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New Delhi, July 19: Team India coach Ravi Shastri on Thursday dismissed all speculation on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement.

Shastri’s comments came after social media on Wednesday was abuzz with speculation that the 2011 World Cup winning captain MS Dhoni will soon retire from all formats of the game.

Dhoni was seen taking the match ball from the umpires at the end of the third one-day international against England at the Headingley cricket ground in Leeds on Tuesday, and Twitter went on overdrive as fans began to wonder about the significance of the move.

“Is Dhoni retiring?” was the talking point as all and sundry began to wonder about the significance of the former India skipper walking away with the match ball despite India having lost the match. Dhoni asked for back towards the pavilion.

Thus coach put a full stop on all the speculation and said,” “That’s rubbish. MS is not going anywhere”.

Shastri said Dhoni took the ball from umpire to show it to bowling coach Bharat Arun.

Dismissing the speculation, Shastri said: “MS wanted to show the ball to Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like.”

“But right now, all this clamour is nonsense. He just wanted to show the ball to Arun to just have a look at it after close to 45 overs had been bowled,” Shastri told Times of India.

Dhoni had come under fire following his 59-ball 37-run knock in the second ODI of the series at Lord’s. In fact, the crowd at the iconic venue booed Dhoni in the same game where he completed 10,000 ODI runs.

Following that game, Kohli had come out in Dhoni’s support, saying, “When he does well, people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well, they all pounce on him. We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him.”

“Also, you want to take the innings deep; you don’t want to just lose by 160-170 runs, and he has the experience, but some days it just doesn’t come off. Other people jump to conclusions, but we don’t — we totally believe in him,” Kohli had said.

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Pant gets maiden call; Shami back for first 3 England Tests

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Rishabh Pant

New Delhi, July 18: Explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was on Wednesday picked as the second choice stumper as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recalled pacer Mohammed Shami in the 18-member squad for the first three Tests of the five-match rubber against England.

Pant was rewarded with the Test call-up following a successful run with the willow in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Shami, who was dropped from the lone Test match against Afghanistan for failing a fitness test, made his way back to the team after clearing the mandatory yo-yo test. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair has also been re-called to the squad while Rohit Sharma failed to make it.

Pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is recuperating from a thumb injury, has been included in the squad, but will be available for selection from the second Test onwards based on his fitness, a BCCI statement confirmed.

Meanwhile, fellow paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar has his back injury after featuring in the third One-day International (ODI) against England on Tuesday and was left out of the first three Tests.

“Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated a lower back condition in the third ODI against England. His condition is being assessed by the BCCI medical team and a call on his inclusion in the Test squad will be made soon,” the board said.

India’s squad for first three Tests against England: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Karun Nair, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.

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Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra wins gold at Sotteville Athletics Meet

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New Delhi, July 18: India’s star javelin-thrower Neeraj Chopra clinched a gold medal at the Sotteville Athletics Meet in France on Tuesday.

Chopra, who had won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, threw 85.17 metres to bag the top prize.

Neeraj is India’s top javelin thrower and he proved his mettle once again on the international stage when he won the gold medal with a massive margin.

While Neeraj Chopra threw a distance of 85.17 m, the second best was Adrian Mardare of Moldova who threw a distance of 81.48 m.

The bronze medal went to Lithuania’s Edis Matusevicius, whose best throw of the night was 79.31m.

The winning distance from Chopra was, however, less than what he achieved to win a historic Commonwealth Games (CWG) gold in Australia earlier this year. He had improved on his season’s best with an effort of 86.47m in Gold Coast to become the country’s first javelin-thrower to win a CWG gold.

Last week, he finished fifth at the Rabat Diamond League with a best throw of 83.32m.

So, the victory at the Sotteville Athletics Meet augurs well for his Asian Games preparation which will be held next month in Indonesia.

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