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Kolkata Knight Riders 167 all out (Tripathi 81, Bravo 3-37) beat Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 (Watson 50, Russell 1-18) by 10 runs

An intensely tactical battle between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Chennai Super Kings ended with the Knight Riders triumphant by ten runs, with both teams having dominated the first half of their batting innings, only for the opposition to come roaring back. Eventually, the Knight Riders’ comeback trumped that of the Super Kings.

That was down in no small measure to Rahul Tripathi‘s excellent 81 off 51 at the top of the Knight Riders order. Back in his favoured opening spot, Tripathi was brisk in the powerplay, and then carried the innings on his bat when the expected fireworks from the star-studded middle order didn’t materialise. Shane Watson got a fifty of his own in the Super Kings chase, but only one other batsman crossed 25. That’s not because this was a bowlers’ pitch – though it certainly wasn’t a batting beauty – but because bowlers from both sides executed their plans with precision.

The Knight Riders were 93 for 2 after ten overs after opting to bat first, but the Super Kings kept them to 167 when they looked like getting in excess of 190. The Super Kings in turn were 99 for 1 in 12 overs and in cruise control mode, but Dinesh Karthik had held Sunil Narine back entirely for the death, and the Super Kings stumbled against a bowler who hasn’t just been among the T20 greats, but been particularly thorny for a majority of the Super Kings batsmen. Narine bowled overs 12, 14, 16 and 19 while Andre Russell was also kept exclusively for the death, bowling overs 18 and 20, as the Knight Riders choked off the batsmen’s run supply. An asking rate that was comfortable began to mount, and the combined pressure from the bowlers and the scoreboard eventually proved too much for the Super Kings middle order.

Tripathi as opener, Narine at No. 4

Narine’s failures at the top of the order had come against quick bowlers who could dig the ball in and get it to rear up uncomfortably. The Super Kings didn’t have that kind of bowler, but the Knight Riders decided to move Narine down the order anyway, pushing Tripathi up. Tripathi’s best performances in the IPL have also come as an opener, and he showed that the promotion was a sensible one. He didn’t try to knock the ball around at the start, swatting across the line more often than not and getting good returns. At the end of the powerplay, he had 31 off 18, having kept the Knight Riders’ run rate healthy despite Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana both scoring at less than a run a ball.

Tripathi was particularly severe when the bowlers pitched too short or too full, which they did often enough. Narine himself came in at No. 4, being used tactically as a floater. The move worked, with the left-hander making 17 off nine balls, which injected momentum when the match was poised, and left enough time for Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell to capitalise at the death – that, however, didn’t come.

The Super Kings fightback

Karn Sharma, in the XI ahead of Piyush Chawla, bowled his full quota in one spell after coming on when the powerplay ended, and did a significant job in reining the Knight Riders in. He picked up 2 for 25 despite going for 12 runs in his first over, and dismissed both Rana and Narine. The latter fell to a superb one-two act on the long-on boundary, Ravindra Jadeja running to his right from midwicket and getting hold of the ball while diving full length but flicking it up to Faf du Plessis before he grounded it.

Sam Curran, Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur then bowled excellently, as the Knight Riders’ batting unravelled. In the first ten overs, everything had gone to plan for them, and it was all set up for a grandstand finish. Instead, the Super Kings seamers found the good-length area, which made the ball stick, denying batsmen space to rock back or pace to go over the top.

Morgan gloved a sharp bouncer from Curran behind and Russell was out in similar fashion to Thakur, though the ball wasn’t as short. Tripathi seemed to be tiring, but not so much that he didn’t punish bowlers when they erred. Deepak Chahar strayed too full down leg twice in his last over and was taken for a four and a six, while Bravo was slashed over point when he went short and wide. Tripathi fell to Bravo soon after, but he had amassed a substantial score and kept the Knight Riders fighting in an almost solo effort.

Watson, Rayudu in cruise control

The Super Kings began in much the same manner as the Knight Riders had. Du Plessis continued the form he’d shown against Kings XI Punjab, before edging a short and wide one from Shivam Mavi behind, and Watson and Ambati Rayudu were in perfect control thereafter. Runs came at a fair clip, and the first ten overs all had at least one boundary each. The second-wicket pair had added 69 runs when Rayudu holed out to long-on, but with 69 needed off 47 balls with eight wickets in hand, the chase was well within the Super Kings’ control.

The Knight Riders’ strangle

Narine struck the first blow in the final unravelling, trapping Watson in front for a 40-ball 50 an over after Rayudu had gone. The batsman reviewed but the bowler won out on umpire’s call with ball tracking suggesting the ball would clip leg stump. Crucially, the Super Kings now had two new men with 67 needed off 41 balls, with 17 of them to come from Narine.

Karthik had also held back two of Varun Chakravarthy’s overs, and on a slowing pitch, two mystery spinners to batsmen fresh at the crease began looking like a masterstroke. Narine’s first two overs went for just eight runs and netted the wicket of Watson, while Chakravarthy proved an able foil. Although Curran biffed a four and a six in Narine’s third over, the Super Kings’ final assault never materialised. Chakravarthy foxed Dhoni, and Russell’s pinpoint back-of-a-length delivery hustled Curran into a weak slash. Russell’s lengths proved impossible to get away at the death, and it was only off the last three balls of the match that he went for boundaries, Jadeja hitting 6, 4, 4 when any runs added were only academic.

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Vasiliy Lomachenko undergoes shoulder surgery after losing lightweight titles to Teofimo Lopez

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Just days after losing his lightweight championship unification bout to Teofimo Lopez Jr., Vasiliy Lomachenko underwent shoulder surgery. The procedure was to repair Lomachenko’s right shoulder and should keep him out of the gym until early 2021, according to Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole.

Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KO) was favored against Lopez (16-0, 12 KO) but was largely ineffective for the first seven rounds of the fight, allowing Lopez to build up a nearly-insurmountable lead. Lomachenko would come on late, but it was too late for him to turn things around as Lopez won the fight by scores of 116-112, 119-109 and 117-111.

Lomachenko also suffered a torn right labrum in his 2018 bout with Jorge Linares, the fight where he became world lightweight champion. “I couldn’t use my right arm to throw my right hook,” Lomachenko said after the Linares fight.

The situation is similar after the fight with Lopez, with Lomachenko saying he suffered pain when trying to throw his right hook, a key part of Lomachenko’s strategy from his southpaw stance. According to Iole, the surgery was not believed to be as extensive as that which Lomachenko underwent in 2018. But the issues with Lomachenko’s shoulder started prior to the fight.

“When he came in from the Ukraine for his last stages of preparation for the fight, he was having some difficulty with the shoulder,” surgeon Dr. Neal S. ElAttrache told Yahoo Sports. “It turns out he had badly bruised the rotator cuff and chipped a piece of cartilage, which we didn’t realize at the time. But we knew he’d badly bruised the rotator cuff and badly bruised the bone where the rotator cuff attaches to the shoulder. That was roughly six weeks before the fight and we got him to where he was comfortable enough to train. He said he was able to train OK, but it continued to cause him pain during the fight.

“We operated on him last night and he had what we call a hemorrhagic thickened bursitis. That’s the tissue that lubricates and cushions the rotator cuff, which is where we had treated him and injected him before the fight. On the inside of the shoulder where he had previously dislocated the shoulder, he had chipped the cartilage on the inside of the socket. That was right next to the [previous] repair so I did a small touch-up of the repair so I could cover up the bare cartilage in the front of the shoulder.”

The loss to Lopez snapped a 13-fight winning streak for Lomachenko, and was only the second defeat of his pro career, with the first coming in 2014 in only the second bout of his pro career.



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BBL 2020-21 – Mohammad Nabi’s versatility lauded as he returns to Melbourne Renegades

Afghanistan allrounder Mohammad Nabi will return as one of Melbourne Renegades’ overseas players for the BBL.

Nabi, who is the No.1-ranked T20I allrounder, has been part of three previous campaigns for the Renegades: in 27 matches he has scored 476 runs at a strike-rate of 130.76 and has taken 21 wickets with an economy rate of 7.17.

He is the second signing for the Renegades in recent days following the return of James Pattinson from the Brisbane Heat. They have lost Dan Christian (Sydney Sixers), Tom Cooper and Jack Wildermuth (both Brisbane Heat) as they look to rebuild the squad having finished bottom last season following the title-winning 2018-19 season.

Nabi is also the first overseas player from outside of England to be confirmed for this year’s BBL. ESPNcricinfo revealed earlier this week that teams will be able to have three overseas players in their XI instead of the previous two.

“Nabi’s versatility makes him a very valuable member of our team. He can bat and bowl in a number of different situations and he reads the game so well,” Renegades coach Michael Klinger said. “We’ll again be looking for Nabi to play a key role in our middle order and he’ll be called upon to bowl some important overs.”

Current Renegades squad: Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch (capt), Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Jon Holland, Shaun Marsh, Mohammad Nabi, James Pattinson, Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland, Beau Webster.

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Ranking Wisconsin’s 2020 Big Ten opponents

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Well, we are getting Big Ten football in 2020, even if it looks a bit different.

After the Big Ten’s original 10-game conference season was postponed, the conference will play football the fall of 2020 in the form of an eight-game schedule. It will remain an all-conference slate and each team will play a ninth game against its divisional counterpart (No. 1 in West vs. No. 1 in East, No. 2 in West vs. No. 2 in East, and so on) on Dec. 19.

The Badgers lost a number of key players from last year, including linebacker Zack Baun, center Tyler Biadasz, wide receiver Quintez Cephus and running back Jonathan Taylor, all taken in the NFL draft, and will start redshirt freshman quarterback Graham Mertz after incumbent Jack Coan suffered a foot injury in preseason practice. Still, this is not the first time Wisconsin has lost key contributors to the draft or had uncertainty at QB in the Paul Chryst era. Expect a stout defense once again and for running backs Garrett Groshek and Nakia Watson to get significant work out of the backfield.

As far as its 2020 schedule, Wisconsin will miss Ohio State and Penn State – two of the best teams in the conference – in the regular season. The Badgers were originally supposed to play Maryland and Rutgers in its 10-game schedule but is now scheduled to only play Michigan and Indiana from the East division.

Here’s how Wisconsin’s 2020 Big Ten opponents shake out, in order of easiest to hardest.

 

  1. Purdue (home, Nov. 7)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Purdue 45-24 at home last season.

Wide receiver Rondale Moore originally decided to opt out but will now play in 2020. That will certainly help Purdue and sophomore signal caller Jack Plummer, who was very average as a freshman, throwing for 1,603 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions in seven games. The Boilermakers do have incredible defensive end George Karlaftis but it is not like this is one of the better rosters in the conference.

 

  1. Northwestern (away, Nov. 21)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Northwestern 24-15 at home last season.

The Wildcats were absolutely putrid in 2019. There is no other way to put it. However, considering the recent success Pat Fitzgerald has brought to the program, one can expect Northwestern to bounce back to at least a .500 level. Fitzgerald’s Wildcats almost always have a good defense and Indiana grad transfer quarterback Peyton Ramsey, who started seven games and completed 68% of his passes for 2,454 yards with 13 touchdowns and five picks for the Hoosier in 2019, should make the offense respectable.

 

  1. Illinois (home, Oct. 23)

Last matchup: Illinois defeated Wisconsin 24-23 in Champaign, Ill., last season.

The Illini were feisty last season as Badgers fans know all too well. With quarterback Brandon Peters returning for his redshirt senior season there is no reason to think Illinois won’t be a tough out in 2020. Last season Peters threw for 1,884 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight picks and ran for 213 yards and three scores, so if he can improve on those numbers then Illinois will be an even tougher out.

 

  1. Nebraska (away, Oct. 31)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Nebraska 37-21 on the road last season.

Is this the year for Scott Frost and Nebraska? With new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick, it could be what Adrian Martinez (10 TD,  9 INT) needs to improve after his disappointing sophomore season. The Huskers will also need their defense (27.8 points, 388.8 yards per game allowed in 2019) to take a step up if they want to compete in a real way.

 

  1. Indiana (home, Dec. 5)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Indiana 45-17 on the road in 2017.

These isn’t your father’s Indiana football team! Coming off an 8-5 season and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten East, the Hoosiers are not the easy out they used to be. Tom Allen’s squad won eight games for the first time since 1993 and a big part of it was because of dynamic quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who threw for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns while completing 68.8% of his throws. He will be back for his redshirt sophomore year after playing just six games in 2019, so it will be interesting to see how a healthier and more experienced Penix performs in this shortened season.

 

  1. Iowa (away, Dec. 12)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Iowa 24-22 at home last season.

The Hawkeyes will probably have the same type of hardnosed, giant-killer type team that they usually do in 2020. They will lean on ball control and good defense, which will be extra important for them this season with Nate Stanley now off to the NFL. Iowa limited opposing teams to 308.5 total yards and 14 points per game (fifth-best in the nation) but lost A.J. Epenesa, Michael Ojemudia and Geno Stone in the 2020 NFL draft. If it can overcome their absences on defense then the Hawkeyes should be in good shape regardless of who is under center.

 

  1. Michigan (away, Nov. 14)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Michigan 35-14 at home last season.

Michigan will have to replace Shea Patterson but the Wolverines return talented skill position players, including running back Zach Charbonnet and wide receiver Ronnie Bell. That should make things easier for whomever wins the starting quarterback job. Michigan should have a good defense once again even though it lost some players to the NFL, including linebacker Josh Uche in the second round. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis is also in his second season with the Wolverines, so Michigan’s offense should operate better in its second year in the system.

 

  1. Minnesota (home, Nov. 28)

Last matchup: Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 38-17 on the road last season.

If wide receiver Rashod Bateman had decided to opt out for the entire season then the Gophers would not be at the top of this list. But he chose to come back, which means the Gophers will have the best receiver Wisconsin plays in the regular season and Tanner Morgan, who is arguably the best quarterback it will go up against. Bateman is an excellent deep threat, catching 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season (20.3 yards per catch), so him being back for 2020 will open things up for a high-powered Minnesota offense that has continuity and also returns running back Mohamed Ibrahim (5.3 yards per carry).



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