Super Kings skipper Dhoni in no rush to decide IPL future
Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he is in no rush to make a decision about his Indian Premier League (IPL) future after the 41-year-old guided his team to their 10th final in 14 seasons.
Four years after quitting international cricket, Dhoni remains the league’s most popular player, his presence guaranteeing impressive support for Chennai even away from home.
Dhoni has reinvented himself as a lower-order power-hitter to remain effective despite being well past his prime.
Media reports say it could be Dhoni’s last IPL season but the wicketkeeper-batsman remained coy about his future after overseeing Chennai’s progress to Sunday’s final in Ahmedabad.
“I don’t know, I have eight to nine months to decide, the small auction may be around December, so why take that headache right now?” Dhoni said, after Chennai beat champions Gujarat Titans in Tuesday’s qualifier.
“I have ample time to decide.”
The former India captain, who led the side to two World Cup titles, has been hampered by knee issues this season and wore a brace in the match against Gujarat.
“I will always be there for CSK, whether that is in the playing form or sitting somewhere outside… I don’t really know,” Dhoni said.
“Frankly, it takes a heavy toll. I have been out of home for literally four months… It takes a lot, but I have ample time to decide.”
Dhoni is known for his astute leadership, ice-cool temperament and innovative field placements but he described himself as an “annoying” skipper.
“I can be a very annoying captain because I shift the fielder one or two feet here and there every time,” he said.
“Imagine you are fielding and every two balls or three balls, I am like, ‘Okay two feet to your right, three feet to your left.’ It can be annoying.
“The only request I ask from the fielders is ‘keep an eye on me. If you drop a catch, there won’t be any reactions but just keep an eye on me’.”
Sabalenka cites mental health reasons to skip French Open media duty
JULIEN DE ROSA/ AFP
Belarusian tennis star Aryna Sabalenka skipped her post-match press conference at the French Open on Friday citing mental health reasons.
The tournament organisers instead released an interview with the world number two conducted by a hand-picked group of reporters in which she said she had not felt safe at her previous press conference.
At Wednesday’s event Sabalenka was asked about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and her country’s role as a staging ground for Russian troops and weapons.
Sabalenka said that her choice not to take part in Friday’s press conference was supported by the French Open organisers.
“After my match (on Wednesday) I spoke with the media like I normally do. I know they still expect some questions that are more about the politics and not so much about my tennis,” she said.
“For many months now I have answered these questions at tournaments and been very clear in my feelings and my thoughts. These questions do not bother me after my matches.
“I know that I have to provide answers to the media on things not related to my tennis or my matches, but on Wednesday I did not feel safe in the press conference,” she said.
A French tennis federation spokesperson told Reuters Sabalenka would not be fined.
“It was to protect her,” the spokesperson said, adding that whether she attends other press conferences would be her decision.
Sabalenka will play either American Sloane Stephens or Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in the next round.
In 2021, former world number one Naomi Osaka of Japan was fined $15,000 for skipping a post-match press conference at the French Open and threatened with tough sanctions by the board of the four Grand Slam tournaments.
She subsequently withdrew from the tournament citing mental health concerns and later said she had been battling depression and anxiety for years.
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Europa League kings Sevilla beat Roma on penalties to win seventh crown
VLADIMIR SIMICEK/ AFP
Europa League thoroughbreds Sevilla worked their magic yet again to beat AS Roma 4-1 on penalties and lift the trophy for a record-extending seventh time, handing Roma boss Jose Mourinho his first defeat in six European finals.
After an unspectacular match ended 1-1 after extra time, Sevilla ruthlessly punished the Italians in the shootout, with Gonzalo Montiel firing home the winning spot kick, just as he did for Argentina in the World Cup final against France.
The defender had missed his first effort but was handed a reprieve when Roma keeper Rui Patricio was adjudged to have come off the line too early and he made no mistake with his second, sparking jubilant celebrations.
Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou was their hero in the shootout, saving penalties from Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibanez while the Spaniards were flawless in their own execution, scoring their first four.
Sevilla, the undisputed kings of the Europa League, have now won all seven of the finals they have played in the competition, and are well-versed in the drama of the occasion, having seen their opponents score first in the last four finals.
It was a tense and ill-tempered affair from the start on Wednesday, with Roma defending deep with a five-man backline against Sevilla, who had almost 65 per cent possession but were kept mostly outside the Italian’s crowded box.
The match was tetchy with referee Anthony Taylor dishing out 14 yellow cards, the most ever in a Europa League game, and playing almost 30 minutes of stoppage time in total.
Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead from a counter-attack in the 35th minute but Sevilla then took control of the game and found the equaliser thanks to an own-goal by Mancini in the 55th minute.
Sevilla dominated the match after that but Roma had the better chances from counter-attacks and set-pieces, including a Chris Smalling header that hit the crossbar in the 10th minute of added time in extra time.
It was the third consecutive Europa League final that ended in a penalty shootout.
The win means Sevilla will compete in next season’s Champions League despite finishing outside the top four in the La Liga.
Mourinho had never lost a European final before Wednesday, having last year led Roma to the inaugural Europa Conference League title, becoming the first coach to win all the European trophies.
Losing was clearly a painful experience for the Portuguese who handed his runners-up medal to a fan in the stand after the presentation.
“That’s what I did, I don’t want silver medals. I don’t keep silver medals, so I gave it away,” he told Movistar.
It was written in the stars. ✨
7️⃣ times, @EuropaLeague 𝑪𝑯𝑨𝑴𝑷𝑰𝑶𝑵𝑺. ⚪️🔴
— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) May 31, 2023
Carlsen ‘excited’ about chess league debut in Dubai
World Rapid Chess champion Magnus Carlsen is looking forward to the “exciting prospect” of the upcoming Global Chess League (GCL) in the UAE. A joint venture between Tech Mahindra and world governing body FIDE, the GCL will feature Carlsen, a former five-time world chess champion, as an icon player.
With six teams, the inaugural edition of the GCL will be held from June 21 – July 2 at the Dubai Chess & Culture Club in association with the Dubai Sports Council. Grandmaster Carlsen said: “It is an exciting prospect for me to be a part of. This will be something new. Something that has not been done this way in over-the-board chess. I am looking forward to exploring this format in the future.”
The league will see each of the six franchises play a total of 10 matches in a double round-robin format, with the winner of each match being decided in a best-of-six board scoring system played simultaneously. The top two teams will qualify for the final and be crowned the World Champion Franchise Team.
Carlsen, who is known for his experimental views on chess, believes that team format matches are something that he really prefers. “Personally I very much enjoy team events and the team spirit within the group. I am looking forward to meeting the other players in the team, and competing with and against the exciting young generation of Indian players. One of the really good things about this tournament is that men and women can compete against each other at the same stage.”
Carlsen also rated the Indian talent that is coming through very highly by saying, “I think India is doing a lot of right things so far, and it is a matter of time before it is clearly the leading chess nation in the world.”
Hailing Tech Mahindra’s involvement with the league as a welcome move, Carlsen said: “I am happy that an ambitious partner like Tech Mahindra has joined the chess ecosystem. I believe this is a positive move for chess.”
Finally, in the conversation, Grandmaster Carlsen also reminisced about his best memories from his chess journey and said that he is thankful for his family’s support. “My family has always been very supportive without ever pushing me, and for that, I’m very grateful. The year we travelled together when I was 13, earning my Grandmaster norms, will always be a fond memory,” he said.