The IPL final hogged the limelight in India in May even as major sporting events lighted up other parts of the world. The IAAF World Relays kickstarted its inaugural edition in the Bahamas, the NBA finalists were decided in the US while close at home India won a historic bronze at the Uber cup. Read on to catch up all the sporting action from May in our column 'The Month That Was'
Connect with Cricket: It’s Knight’s night in IPL 7 finale
After a month and a half of slam-bang T20 cricket, it all came down to the last few matches of the league stage of the Indian Premier League to decide the match-ups of the playoffs. While Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) sealed the top spot (22 points), Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were battling for the second place, leaving the fourth spot up for grabs.
Yusuf Pathan’s 72 off 22 against Sunrisers Hyderabad meant that KKR finished second above CSK with a better run rate, with both teams having finished with 18 points. The last game of the league stage between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals became a virtual knock-out game, with plenty of ifs and buts added to it. Royals would have thought they had done enough when they posted 189 on board, but MI scored 195 from just 14.4 overs to make their way into the playoffs.
CSK eliminated MI, but were outdone by KXIP in Qualifier II. Suresh Raina’s blitzkrieg knock of 87 from 25 was just not enough as CSK fell by 24 runs in their chase after Virender Sehwag’s hundred had taken KXIP to 226/6.
KKR got the better of KXIP in Qualifier I and they were looking to repeat the feat in the final. Winning the toss and electing to chase, the decision seemed to have gone haywire for KKR after Wriddhiman Saha (115*) and Manan Vohra (67) led Punjab to 199/4. It turned out to be the Knight’s night in the end as Kolkata chased down their target in 19.3 overs riding on Manish Pandey’s 50 ball 94, giving them their second IPL title.
There was more good news for KKR’s captain Gautam Gambhir as he made his way back into India’s Test squad for England. Pankaj Singh and Stuart Binny were surprise inclusions for the Test squad, while Zaheer Khan is the only noticeable absentee. The big guns were given a rest for India’s ODI tour to Bangladesh and Raina will be leading the side in M S Dhoni’s absence.
Elsewhere, world T20 champions Sri Lanka won the only T20 against England. The 5-ODI series has been closely contested affair, with teams being bundled out and making high scores alternatingly. After four games, the series stands at 2-2.
Squash, Wrestling and Table Tennis
Dipika Pallikal, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal participated in Allam British Open squash championship that took place in Kingston upon Hull, England. While Pallikal, who was back in the top-10 of the world rankings thanks to her final appearance at the Texas Open in April, and Ghosal bowed out in the very first round, Chinappa rolled over till the quarterfinals. A 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-1 defeat at the hands of Kiwi Joelle King inside 43 minutes, however, brought an end to the Indian challenge in the tournament.
As for wrestling, there was a sense of anticipation as Olympic medallists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt were planning to make their debuts in new weight categories. Kumar won silver in the 74 kg division, while Dutt made it one better by clinching the gold in the 65 kg category.
There was more good news in table tennis as Ayhika Mukherjee followed up her victory at the Slovak Open with her second successive ITTF Junior Circuit girls title at the Polish Junior and Cadet Open.
On the fast lane…
It’s between Rosberg and Hamilton
APMercedes driver Nico Rosberg of Germany celebrates after winning the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix, at the Monaco racetrack on May 25, 2014. The win was his second victory this season and the fifth in his career.
Lewis Hamilton won the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg, taking the lead in the championship for the first time. It didn’t last long though, as Rosberg got the better of him at Monaco to re-establish his supremacy. After six races, Rosberg now has 122 points with Hamilton a close second with 118 points.
Things were not all good for Mercedes though, as incidents on the track led to differences between their two drivers. Mercedes said that they would step in if required, but that proved to be unnecessary as the two drivers, who have been friends for years now, settled their differences over a conversation.
Is there a way to stop Marquez?
APSpain's Honda rider Marc Marquez waves to fans after taking the pole position in the Italian Moto GP at the Mugello race circuit, in Scarperia, Italy which he evenutally won.
In his 100th grand prix at home in Spain, Marquez briefly fell behind to Rossi before dominating the rest of the race to finish first. At France, he fell to 10th place in the opening lap despite starting at pole position but made it to the top spot before 13 laps before pulling away from the rest of the field. And in Italy, Marquez trailed to Jorge Lorenzo for the bulk of the race, despite starting in pole again. After edging past Lorenzo with seven laps to go, the two riders traded passes before Marquez delivered the killer blow in the final lap.
The way the first six races have panned out, it does seem like there is no stopping Marquez. But with other riders finally making their presence felt in the last couple of races, all hope is not lost yet.
Football fever: League action comes to an end
APReal Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, centre, kisses the Champion League trophy, after winning the Champions League final match between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in Lisbon on May 24, 2014.
The English Premier League and Spanish La Liga went down to the wire. Manchester City, who needed a win on the last day to ensure the title was theirs, got the desired result to finish with 86 points, two above Liverpool. The top three teams in Spain - Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid - kept losing points in the final few weeks. After Real dropped out from the title race, it became a winner takes all final gameweek fixture between Barcelona and Atletico. Barca went ahead in Camp Nou, but Atletico (90 points) equalised in the second half to grab a draw against Barca (87 points) that gave them the title.
Spanish teams also dominated the European events as Sevilla first defeated Benfica on penalties in the Europa League final before the all-Madrid Champions League final. Atletico scored first in Lisbon and the score stayed that way till moments before the final whistle. Real equalised in added time and then scored three goals in the second period of extra time to complete La Decima - the first club to claim the trophy ten times.
Shuttle speed: India win bronze in Uber Cup
The prestigious biennial Thomas and Uber cup tournaments were held in India in May where the top 16 nations in the sport participated. Hosting both the events for the first time, much was expected from the Indian Uber Cup team that included Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa. Riding on the expectations, the team gained a quarterfinal berth by topping their group beating Hong Kong (4-1), Canada (5-0) and Thailand (3-2) convincingly. India won the quarterfinals decisively beating Indonesia 3-0. However, the plot was lost against Japan despite leading the tie 2-0 with wins from Saina and Sindhu in the opening singles. Yet, India had assured itself of a bronze medal in the tournament, a historic first for the country after a solid performance in the tournament. The Thomas Cup for men held simultaneously, scripted a different story. India did not make it past the group ties.
Fast track: World Relays starts with a bang
Gatlin posts fastest 100m of the season
APJustin Gatlin, of the United States, celebrates his win in the men's 100m competition at 2014 IAAF World Challenge in Beijing on May 21, 2014.
Meanwhile, US sprinter Justin Gatlin was having his own race against time as he ran the two fastest 100m races of the season in a span of four days, the latter in Beijing (9.87 secs) bettering the former in Shanghai (9.92 secs) in the Diamond League. On the other hand, the comeback race for world 800m record holder David Rudisha at the Prefontaine Classic did not unfold as expected with him finishing seventh. Earlier in the month, India’s Vikas Gowda claimed a silver in the discus throw event at the Qatar leg of the Diamond league. Meanwhile, another sprinter, Tyson Gay, lost his shine as he was banned for one year for failing a dope test. Consequently, he returned his 4x100m silver Olympic relay medal from London 2012.
Bulls eye: Indian archers win a gold and silver at World Cup
Close, but not quite there would describe the Indian archery team that returned from Medellin, Colombia with a silver and a bronze in the second stage of the World Cup. The men’s recurve team lost the gold in a shootout to S. Korea. The mixed team lost to Mexico to finish with a bronze medal. It was a poor show at the Shotgun World Cup held in Almaty, Kazhakhstan where the best place secured by an Indian shooter, Parampal Singh Guron, was the 29th spot.
NBA: Spurs meet Heat in finals rematch
Durant is MVP of the season
APMiami Heat owner Micky Arison hands the Eastern Conference Championship trophy to Greg Oden on May 30, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-92 to advance to the NBA Finals.
Tennis Thrills: Li, Serena among early upsets at Roland Garros
APRussia's Maria Sharapova
Magic with sticks: Hockey World Cup begins
India face disappointing losses in first two games
The euphoria surrounding the football world cup has for sure relegated the ongoing Hockey World Cup to the sidelines. More disappointing has been the two losses suffered by the Indian men’s team in the first two matches against Belgium (3-2) and England (2-1). Being held at The Hague in Netherlands, goals at the closing moments of the game in the World Cup have proved to be a nemesis for the Indian team. Group matches against Malaysia, Spain and defending champions Australia in the following days will determine the team’s fate in the tournament.