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The Sports Express – October

Cricket

  • The Indian Premier League group stages concluded on the 3rd of November, with Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils taking up the top 2 spots on the table with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad taking up the remaining playoff spots. The past month saw a lot of unforgettable moments including Shikhar Dhawan becoming the very first batsman to score back-to-back IPL centuries, a wonderful century by Ben Stokes and a Chris Gayle 99. However, the most memorable day of the group stage came on the 18th of October when Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkatta Knight Riders went to a super over with KKR emerging victorious. This was tipped by the next match which saw not one but two super overs with Kings XI Punjab finally emerging victorious over the Mumbai Indians helped by an acrobatic Mayank Agarwal effort on the boundary.
  • The draft for the inaugural Lankan Premier League took place online with several local and foreign players up for grabs. Although the draft had its fair share of hiccups the squads were finalized with some notable picks being Chris Gayle for the Kandy Tuskers, Shahid Afridi for the Galle Gladiators, David Miller to the Dambulla Hawks. Unfortunately, the announcement of the England tour of South Africa caused Faf Du Plessis and David Malan to pull out of the tournament. However, the franchises are optimistic about finding quality replacements. The tournament is scheduled to start on the 21st of November
  • The Women’s Big Bash League and the Sheffield Shield signalled the beginning of domestic cricket in Australia, with all the Sheffield Shield matches being played in a hub in Adelaide and the WBBL being played entirely in Sydney. During the second round of the Sheffield Shield Marcus Harris and Will Pucovski broke the record for the highest partnership in the history of the competition putting on 486 runs for Victoria against South Australia, breaking the 30 year old record of the Waugh Twins for New South Wales against Western Australia.

Football

  • The English Premier League ended the month with defending champions Liverpool returning to the top of the table following consecutive defeats to Everton and Aston Villa, both of whom had won their first 4 games. Leicester City and a Tottenham Hotspur buoyed by  rampant Harry Kane and Heung Ming Son follow closely with Manchester City yet to discover their best form
  • Real Sociedad took a surprise  early lead in La Liga with Real Madrid close behind. Barcelona are struggling in 12th place, following no wins in their previous 4 matches.
  • Inter Milan with a brilliant Zlatan Ibrahimovic got off to a strong start in Serie A, with defending champions Juventus still finding their groove under new manager Andrea Pirlo.
  • Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund share top spot in the Bundesliga table with RB Leipzig following close behind
  • The Champions League returned with Bayern Munich getting off their title defence with 2 consecutive wins. Other notable results included Real Madrid getting shocked by Shakhtar Donetsk and Barcelona beating Juventus missing Cristiano Ronaldo due to his Covid-19 diagnosis.
  • Deeply unpopular Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his entire board resigned from their positions with an interim board being appointed to run the club until elections to select a new president can be held.

Tennis

  • Rafael Nadal continued his dominance at the French Open, winning the title for the 13th time out of 15, demolishing world number 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the finals. This title took Nadal to the top of the ladder of most Grand Slam victories in Men’s Tennis, equalling Roger Federer on 20 titles.
  • Iga Swiatek became the first Polish player and the youngest woman since Monica Seles in 1992, to win a grand slam title with her victory at the French Open following a victory in the final against Sofia Kenin. 

Cycling

  • Tao Geoghegan Hart won the Giro d’Italia, one of the 3 grand tours following a thrilling time-trial final stage which he entered tied at the top alongside Jai Hindley. This was his first grand tour title 

F1

  • It was all returns this month with F1 returning to some old locations
  • F1 returned to Germany, and it returned back to the iconic track of the country in the greens, the iconic track of Nurburgring. It’s been 9 years since the last time F1 raced on the track.
  • The Eifel GP was the first time we saw a Mercedes retire the car in the entire season. Even if Bottas didn’t have his luck on the track Lewis Hamilton equalled the all-time record for the most race wins in F1. Which was held on by the all-time great Michael Schumacher. He was Followed by Max Verstappen and in a very long time the Smiling man Daniel Riccardo 
  • The Australian had a bet going on with his Team Principal, That if he gets a podium this season his boss will get a tattoo and we were assured the tattoo will be coming.  
  • With Lewis Hamilton equalling the record, He was presented with a race helmet of Michael by his son Mick Schumacher which is now considered an iconic moment in F1. 
  • F1 also returned to Portuguese 1996 and the first time at Portimão Circuit. Lewis Hamilton now holds the record for the most wins in a season. He was accompanied by his teammate and the Redbull driver of Max Verstappen on the podium.
  • With the Portuguese GP, Mercedes were set to win their 7th consecutive Constructors Championship where just one car had to finish the race in 4th.
  • The next race was held in the historic circuit of Imola. This was the circuit that claimed the lives of  Aryton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in the 1994 San Marino GP.
  • The Emilia Romagna GP had a special weekend format of just 3 days rather than the usual two. Where Friday was media day, Saturday was practice (1.30 hrs) and qualifying and Sunday as race day.
  • This weekend format was an experiment to see if it could be done in the future where the FIA is planning to do 25 races a year.
  • While Valtteri Bottas was successful in grabbing pole from his teammate and got to lead the first stint of the race, with Hamilton switching strategies and being lucky with a VSC Lewis Hamilton collected his 93rd win in his F1 career.  While Valtteri Bottas could make it a 1-2 finish for Mercedes, Daniel Riccardo got his second podium of the season 2nd Podium in 2 races and he did not forget to do his iconic ritual the Shoey where Lewis Hamilton joined in which was a surprise.
  • Even though the Australian got lucky with Max Verstappen retiring from the race after a tyre failure he had to work hard to keep his place as Danil Kyvat was Hot on his tail at the closing stages. With many happy scenes in the paddock, one moment left all the fans heartbroken as George Russell was on set to get his first points in F1 but he went off to a wall behind the safety car trying to warm up his tyres. 
  • With Mercedes getting a 1-2 finish they are now mathematically  Double World Champions. Winning their 7th consecutive Double World Championships and Lewis Hamilton and Valterri Bottas the only drivers able to win the Drivers Championship.  
RACALBS

The author RACALBS