Lionel Messi In blue and white verticle line jersey

PSG suspends star player Lionel Messi for two weeks

Ligue 1 leaders Paris St. Germain have suspended their star player Lionel Messi for two weeks. The suspension came as a result of an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia by the Argentinian footballer.

As per a report by RMC Sport, Messi’s suspension will be valid for the next two weeks and it could include no chance to play games and participate in group training. Messi will miss the upcoming Ligue 1 matches against Troyes and Ajaccio but might return for the match against Auxerre on May 21.

Messi’s trip followed PSG’s surprise 3-1 loss to Lorient on Sunday, leaving the defending champions with a five-point lead over Marseille with five games left in the season. Lionel Messi played the entire 90 minutes.

L’Equipe had reported that PSG coach Christophe Galtier pledged to give his players two days off — Monday and Tuesday — if they beat Lorient. Instead, the team trained on Monday and had Tuesday off.

The World Cup-winning skipper whose contract with PSG is about to expire soon requested permission to take the trip, but PSG denied the request. The suspension comes at a very crucial moment for PSG, who had hoped to extend Messi’s contract beyond the current season.

With this suspension, the rumors about Messi not extending his contract with PSG becomes even more strong.

Virat Kohli in RCB Jersey

Delhi boys Kohli and Gambhir fined 100 percent after heated exchange

Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir have been fined 100 percent of their match fees after an altercation happened between the both during the Lucknow Super Giants and Royal Challengers Bangalore match yesterday.

As per a statement from IPL, both Kohli and Gambhir were found in violation of Article 2.21, which covers: (a) public acts of misconduct; (b) unruly public behaviour; and (c) inappropriate comments which are detrimental to the interests of the game. Meanwhile, Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq was fined 50 percent of his match fee for a level 1 breach of the same Article.

Last month, when Royal Challengers Bangalore had hosted Lucknow Super Giants at the Chinnaswamy stadium, Gambhir had broken into a crazy celebration before having an intense handshake with Kohli after LSG’s win. The former India opener and the current LSG mentor also shushed the crowd with a finger on his lips.

So this time, Virat Kohli gave it back in style but with a “boss-like” twist. The story however didn’t end there. After RCB’s 18-run win over LSG, Kohli and Gambhir engaged in an ugly spat before the teammates came and interfered.

This isn’t the first time the two have engaged in a war of words. Back in 2013, the two were involved in an ugly exchange when Gambhir was the captain of Kolkata Knight Riders and Kohli was leading RCB.

Andrew Strauss steps down as ECB's strategic advisor

Andrew Strauss steps down as ECB’s strategic advisor

Former England player Andrew Strauss has decided to step down as the Strategic Advisor to the ECB Board and Chair of the Performance Cricket Committee. The former skipper of the England national team has been a prominent figure in the England Cricket Board, who served as the interim Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket between February and May 2022.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at the ECB and am proud of having contributed to a successful period for our England teams. With increasing commitments outside of the organization, sadly I’ve decided it’s time to step away from my current role. I wish the new Board all the very best as it continues in its mission to grow our game,” said Strauss, who has also previously served as Director of England Cricket for over three years.

Strauss, who had recommended several reforms for English cricket were turned down by the counties. These recommendations were made to enable players to play in all kinds of conditions a player can get to experience around the world. In the same vein, restructuring the domestic set-up, which will focus more on playing red-ball cricket. Apart from that one of the key recommendations proposed included the use of Kookaburra balls which seams for a longer duration than the Duke balls which are mainly used in England.

ECB Chair Richard Thompson said: “Andrew has given outstanding service to English cricket over many years in a number of different roles. I’ve greatly valued the advice and expertise he has provided in my time as Chair, and have enjoyed working with him. We are currently implementing the vast majority of recommendations from his impressive High Performance Review, which I believe will help our England Men’s teams to sustain their success. I have no doubt he has much more to contribute to the game and hope he will return in the future.”

Strauss, who has been one of England’s most successful Test skippers, has been a vital part in the success of the men’s cricket team in white ball format. After the disastrous performance in the 2015 World Cup, Strauss appointed the managing director of men’s cricket helped revolutionize white-ball cricket forever and make The Three Lions a dominant force in the years to come.

With Strauss departing, the ECB has appointed four non-executive directors in their management with the likes of Penny Avis, Baroness Zahida Manzoor, Jennifer Owen Adams, and Gareth Williams, respectively. Additionally, as per the board, the appointment of two more cricket directors in non-executive roles is underway.

Indian Women Cricketer Richa Ghosh

BCCI Central Contracts: Richa Ghosh, Jemimah get promoted; Shikha Pandey dropped

Team India’s young batting sensation Richa Ghosh has been rewarded for her tremendous performances in the recent past. The right-hander, along with Jemimah Rodrigues has been elevated to the B category in the BCCI central contract while the likes of Shikha Pandey and Poonam Yadav have been left out.

As per the central contracts, a player in the A category gets paid Rs 50 lakh over and above match fees, and Rs 30 lakh and Rs 10 lakh are allotted for the B and C category respectively. Only three players are contracted in the A category including current Team India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, flamboyant left-handed batter Smriti Mandhana and premier all-rounder Deepti Sharma.

There are many surprise inclusions and exclusions that will certainly raise many eyebrows. A total of seven new players, who weren’t contracted last year, have entered the contracts list including left-arm spinner Radha Yadav and left-hand batter Yastika Bhatia.

Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad, who was part of the elite Grade A list last year, has been moved down to Grade B while all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar slips from Grade B to Grade C. The likes of Harleen Deol (Grade C), Sneh Rana (Grade C), and Shafali Verma (Grade B) have maintained the status quo from last year.

Pacer Renuka Thakur, who did not have a contract last year, has been bracketed straight into the B category after a stellar season.

Meanwhile, wicket-keepers Taniya Bhatia and Arundhati Reddy are the other major exclusions from the contracts list.

Contracted Players

Grade A (INR 50 lakh): Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma

Grade B (INR 30 lakh): Renuka Singh Thakur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Richa Ghosh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad

Grade C (INR 10 lakh):Meghna Singh, Devika Vaidya, Sabbineni Meghana, Anjali Sarvani, Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana, Radha Yadav, Harleen Deol, Yastika Bhatia

Washington Sundar is on cricket ground

Washington Sundar pulls out of IPL 2023 due to an injury

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s premier all-rounder Washington Sundar is ruled out of the remainder of IPL 2023 due to a hamstring injury the southpaw has suffered.

The news about Sundar’s injury was confirmed by Sunrisers Hyderabad on their social media accounts. Sundar, who played seven matches in the ongoing season will be dearly missed by the Hyderabad franchise. He took 3 wickets and conceded 146 runs at an economy of 8.26. On the other hand, he scored 60 runs with the highest score of 24 and an average of 15 runs.

Injuries have hampered Sundar’s cricketing career consistently for many years, with the hamstring strain being the latest in a series of fitness concerns and illnesses. In 2021, right after playing one of the best knocks he has ever produced in the Gabba Test against Australia, he suffered a finger injury while fielding for a County side in a warm-up game against India at Chester le Street.

Most recently, he injured his left shoulder after landing heavily on it while fielding in a Royal London One-Day Cup game for Lancashire and missed the tour of Zimbabwe. He also suffered a similar hamstring injury last February that forced him to miss T20Is at home against West Indies and subsequently missed a bunch of games for SRH with a hand injury.

Sunrisers Hyderabad who had a good start in the IPL is having a torrid time with the half of the season completed. The Hyderabad-based franchise is currently 9th on the points table with 2 wins and 5 losses. The 2016-IPL champions will next face Delhi Capitals in the return fixture at Arun Jaitley Stadium on April 29.

Ajinkya Rahane Playing Test Match

Ajinkya Rahane recalled into Test team; picked for WTC final

Mumbai-batter Ajinkya Rahane has been named in the 15-member squad for the World Test Championship final against Australia set to be played at The Oval from June 7. The right-hander who was dropped from the Test squad back in January 2022 has been recalled following an amazing performance for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.

Rahane topped the run charts for Mumbai in a mostly forgettable Ranji Trophy 2022-23 campaign, his 634 runs at 57.63 including two centuries not enough for his side to make it to the knockouts. Playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, however, Rahane found a new tempo to his innings and at the time of this squad announcement, he had blitzed 209 runs from five innings at a strike-rate of 199.04.

Ajinkya Rahane will be responsible to handle the middle order duties, which seem a bit weak due to the absence of Test regulars Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer.

Team India Squad for World Test Championship final: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat

The news of Rahane’s comeback to the Test team was widely appreciated by cricket fans and pundits. Here are a few reactions by the netizens:

Mark Chapman

Mark Chapman added to the ODI squad for series against Pakistan

Mark Chapman has been rewarded for his stellar performances in the recently held T20I series against Pakistan. The left-hander has been added to the ODI squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan that begins in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Chapman was in stellar form in the T20I series scoring 290 runs in five games. His runs tally is the most by any player in a five-match T20I series. After scoring two half-centuries, the southpaw brought his best form in the final T20I; scoring an unbeaten 57-ball 104.

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead was all praise for Chapman. In a post-match interview, he said, “The way Mark’s played against one of the best T20 bowling attacks in the world has been nothing short of outstanding.” He further stated, “His match-winning knock in the fifth and deciding match was particularly special and we’re happy to have someone in such strong form added to our ODI squad.

Chapman has played seven ODIs so far, of which two have been for Hong Kong. He played his first ODI for New Zealand in 2018 and last played in the format in July 2022, when he scored a match-winning 101* against Scotland.

The Black Caps tour party will expand to 16 with the addition of Chapman and new arrivals Tom Blundell and Henry Nicholls, while T20 squad member Dane Cleaver is returning home to New Zealand as planned.

New Zealand ODI squad (updated): Tom Latham (capt), Tom Blundell, Chad Bowes, Mark Chapman, Matt Henry, Ben Lister, Cole McConchie, Adam Milne, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Rachin Ravindra, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Will Young

Team of Manchester United

Man United reach FA Cup final after penalty shootout victory over Brighton

After getting knocked out of Europa League, Manchester United reached the FA Cup finals after winning the penalty shootout against Brighton. The Red Devils won 7-6 after having a 90-minute goalless draw.

Victor Lindelof sunk the decisive penalty at Wembley Stadium as United reached a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final. The first 12 spot-kicks of the shootout had been scored before Solly March stepped up.

For United, Casemiro, Dalot, Sancho, Rashford, Sabitzer, Weghorst and Lindelof registered their names on the scoring sheet. In comparison, Brighton’s Mac Allister, Gross, Undav, Estupinan, Dunk, and Webster converted their penalties successfully. Solly March missed the target to lose the match.

Erik Ten Hag was much impressed with his team’s effort despite missing many first-team regulars. In a post-match interview, Ten Hag said, “On Thursday I saw a team I didn’t recognize but today we went back to usual. I could see determination and resilience. We fought for every yard and competed in every battle. We had good chances.”

Ten Hag also took the time to praise both Victor Lindelof – who scored the winning penalty – and De Gea – who was Manchester United’s best player. Speaking about Lindelof, the manager said, “He is quite cool when it comes to penalties and he’s quite cool in general. I thought Victor and Luke Shaw played brilliantly. They had great co-operation with Casemiro.”

Manchester United is having a great time. The club, this season has performed brilliantly under the leadership of Erik Ten Hag. After winning the Carabao Cup, the Old Trafford-based club is comfortably placed in the 3rd position in the Premier League.

Manchester United will now face Manchester City in the FA Cup finals on June 3 at Wembley Stadium.

Team of Manchester United

Sevilla knocks Manchester United out of Europa League

Manchester United have been knocked out of Europa League after losing 5-2 on aggregate in the second leg of their quarter-final clash against Sevilla.

Following the first-leg draw, there was all to play for in the second leg in Spain. The hosts got off to a dream start after a horrific piece of play by United goalkeeper David de Gea and Harry Maguire saw Youssef En-Nesyri find the back of the net. Loic Bade made it 2-0 from a corner at the start of the second half. De Gea then gifted the third to En-Nesyri. The Spaniard came out of his line to clear a long ball, only to give it away. The Moroccan striker scored his second of the night by lofting the ball into an empty goal.

Manchester United, who were without several key players, including the suspended Bruno Fernandes and the injured Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane were criticized heavily by head coach Erik Ten Hag. In a post-match interview, the Red Devils manager said, “We have to do better, that’s the demand. We were not composed, not calm.”

He further added, “We have shown on so many occasions good things, but tonight we weren’t ready for the game. At this level, playing for Manchester United, you have to be ready for every game.”

Manchester United will next face Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final on 23rd April at Wembley Stadium.


Zimbabwe’s Gary Ballance retires from all forms of the game

Former England and Zimbabwe international Gary Ballance has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. The stylish left-hander quits the game with five Test hundreds to his name, with the latest one (137 not out) coming in the only Test he featured in for Zimbabwe.

In a statement issued by Ballance in the Professional Cricketers’ Association, he said, “After much thought, I have decided to retire from all forms of professional cricket with immediate effect.” He further added, “I had hoped my move to Zimbabwe would provide me with a new-found happiness for the game and I will always be thankful to Zimbabwe Cricket for providing me with an opportunity to return to international cricket and welcoming me into their team.”

Additionally, the southpaw stated, “However, I have reached the stage where I no longer have the desire to dedicate myself to the rigours of professional sport and it would do Zimbabwe Cricket and the game itself a disservice, should I carry on. I wish them every success going forward.”

Ballance, who had made a switch to Zimbabwe, his birth nation, was heavily implicated in Azeem Rafiq’s explosive testimony during the DCMS parliamentary hearings in Westminster last November after his use of the racial slur “P**i” had been deemed to be “banter” in the initial report into allegations of institutional racism at Yorkshire.

Ballance, who played 23 Tests for England after making his debut in 2014 has scored 1498 runs for them – including four centuries and seven fifties. In addition, he also won the County Championship with Yorkshire in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. For Zimbabwe, he appeared in one Test, one T20I, and five ODIs.

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