Sports

Week In Review, April 15-21: Gukesh's Historic Candidates Win; Vinesh's 3rd Olympic Quota

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bengaluru together recorded the highest-ever aggregate in T20 cricket, and Real Madrid dashed Manchester City's double treble dream with a narrow win at the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. Here is a recap of all key sports results from April 15 to 21, 2024

FIDE/Michal Walusza
India's 17-year-old Grandmaster D Gukesh become the youngest-ever winner at Candidates chess, eclipsing the legendary Garry Kasparov's 40-year-old record. Photo: FIDE/Michal Walusza
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While the 2024 edition of Indian Premier League continued to enthrall in the fourth week of April, the major sporting developments from an Indian perspective came from other fields of play. (More Sports News)

Teenage prodigy D Gukesh scripted a golden chapter in Indian sports with his record-breaking victory at the prestigious Candidates chess tournament. Meanwhile, star India wrestler Vinesh Phogat confirmed her third consecutive Olympic appearance by qualifying for Paris 2024.

Let us recap all that went down across arenas from April 15 to 21.

Cricket

Bigger, 200-plus scores became the norm in IPL 2024 with an unreal display of power hitting. The week began with Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bengaluru aggregating 549 runs - the highest-ever in all T20 cricket - in match 30 of this season. The victorious SRH smashed their own record of the biggest IPL total, set days earlier, in the process.

In both games, Travis Head was the chief aggressor. The Australian World Cup-winner had bludgeoned a 24-ball 62 in SRH's 277 for 3 against Mumbai on March 27. He followed it up with a career-best 102 off 41 against RCB as the visitors scored a mind-boggling 287 for at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Amid the carnage, there were moments of nuance and resilience too. Jos Buttler showed that batters can grit their way back to fluency, even in a titanic run-chase like the one Rajasthan Royals faced against Kolkata Knight Riders. Buttler was at 42 off 34 balls at one point, but he steeled his way to a match-winning unbeaten 107 off 60 balls, as RR chased down a target of 224 off the very last ball, with just two wickets in hand.

At the end of the week, there was another fascinating high-scoring contest in store. RCB visited Eden Gardens and gave KKR a spirited fight, before falling agonizingly short by just one run in a pulsating run-chase. The match also saw the Virat Kohli 'no-ball' controversy erupt, as the batting titan was visibly cross with the TV umpire's decision over a full toss that Kohli deemed was over waist height.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring shores, Pakistan are hosting New Zealand for a five-match T20I series. The first three games were played over the past week, with the Kiwis levelling the series 1-1 with a thumping win in the third game; the tour opener was washed out. The second match saw the return of Mohammed Amir on the international field, after a 3.5-year gap, with ball in hand, making it talk as is his wont.

In Al Amerat, Oman, the ACC Men's T20I Premier Cup concluded with results that few would have expected. Not only did title favourites Nepal crash out of recknoning with a semi-final loss to United Arab Emirates, they also lost the third-place play-off against Hong Kong to return empty-handed. UAE emerged as the eventual winners, trumping hosts Oman by a 55-run margin in the final.

Football

The UEFA Champions League quarter-finals were decided. Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid dashed Manchester City's double treble dream with a 4-3 win on penalties, after the fixture was level 4-4 in aggregate.

Elsewhere, German titans Bayern Munich edged out Arsenal with a 1-0 victory in the second leg and Borussia Dortmund scripted a remarkable turnaround to best Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate. The Kylian Mbappe-powered Paris-Saint Germain completed the semi-final line-up with a triumph over the fancied FC Barcelona.

In English football, the FA Cup semi-finals saw Manchester City prevailing 1-0 over Chelsea and Manchester United pipping Coventry City 4-2 in penalties (3-3 at full-time). A Manchester derby awaits us for the final, at Wembley Stadium on May 25.

In the English Premier League, Liverpool defeated Fulham 3-1 to draw level on points with table-toppers Arsenal, who had earlier beaten Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0.

Back home, the Indian Super League saw a 10-man Mohun Bagan Super Giant overcoming a late resurgence from Mumbai City to lift the Winners Shield. MBSG will next meet Odisha FC in the semi-finals, while Mumbai City will take on Goa in the other last-four clash.

Other Sports

Despite their pedigree and terrific recent results, few experts gave the young Indian chess brigade a chance at Candidates, the tournament that decides the challenger to the world champion. But the 17-year-old Gukesh clearly had other ideas, as he swept aside the burden of history to become the youngest-ever winner in the event, eclipsing the legendary Garry Kasparov's 40-year-old record. Kasparov was 22 when he had won; Gukesh bettered it by a five-year margin.

In Bishkek, Indian wrestling mainstay Vinesh Phogat defied odds to clinch a Paris Olympics quota in the 50kg category, after reaching the final at the Asian Olympic Qualifier without conceding a single point. This will be her third consecutive appearance at the quadrennial sports extravaganza, after Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2021. She will be hoping to be third-time lucky, in the form of a medal in Paris.

In tennis, Casper Ruud attained his revenge against Stefanos Tsitsipas by winning the Barcelona Open final in straight sets for his biggest career title, barely a week after losing to the Greek in the Monte Carlo Masters summit clash. Earlier, Elena Rybakina eased to her third title of the season with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk in the final of the Stuttgart Open.

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And in Shanghai, Max Verstappen powered to yet another dominant Formula One race triumph in the form of the Chinese Grand Prix. The Red Bull racing driver emerged unscathed from two safety car periods to secure his 38th win from the last 49 staged in Formula One on what appears to be an unstoppable march towards a fourth straight championship.

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