Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
In IPL news, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal struck fluent half-centuries to guide Kings XI Punjab to a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in a thrilling match at Mohali on Monday.
Hyderabad lost the toss and were put in to bat by Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin. Kings XI then restricted the Sunrisers to 150/4 in their 20 overs. The prolific Jonny Bairstow fell in just the second over, and that slowed down the scoring. Disciplined bowling from Kings XI made life difficult for the SRH batsmen as David Warner and Vijay Shankar found the going tough. They failed to strike big and stitched 49 runs for the second wicket off 57 balls. When Shankar fell on 26, the score was 56/2 in the 11th over. Warner remained not out on 70 from 62 balls as Hyderabad finished with a par total of 150.
Punjab began the chase badly, losing Chris Gayle early to a brilliant catch at the long-on boundary by Deepak Hooda off Rashid Khan's bowling. KL Rahul was then joined by Mayank Agarwal and the two put together a 114-run partnership for the second wicket that nearly got Kings XI home. The two batsmen complemented each other brilliantly, as mixing caution with aggression to take the game away from Sunrisers. Rahul, who scored 71 from 53 balls, saw Punjab home despite some minor panic following the loss of Agarwal, who scored 55 from 43 balls. Kings XI needed 11 runs off the last over by Mohammed Nabi but Sam Curran and Rahul played sensibly, avoiding any harakiri, to get home with a ball to spare.
The Indian cricket team for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup will be announced on 15 April in Mumbai, according to a report by ANI on Monday.
As of now, New Zealand are the only team to have announced a 15-member squad for the World Cup.
India, who have been in great form over the past year, will be counted as of the favourites to lift the trophy. Hosts England and Australia are likely to offer stiff challenges to India's campaign. New Zealand, finalists in the 2015 World Cup, will be no pushovers either. All the teams will also be wary of Pakistan, winners of the 2017 Champions Trophy, who are notorious for their unpredictability.
As for the Indian squad, while most members of Indian squad pick themselves based on form, there will be scrutiny on the crucial No 4 slot in the middle order. India have tried multiple players in that slot since the last World Cup, but no player has been able to cement that spot. Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar are front-runners for that spot, while the talented Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer cannot be ruled out either.
India rely heavily on their top three batsmen - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Virat Kohli - to do the bulk of the scoring. Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya form the backbone of the middle-order.
India will open their campaign against South Africa on 6 June.
News from the Pro Kabaddi League 2019 now. Up and coming raider Siddharth Desai was bought by Telugu Titans for the highest winning bid of Rs 1.45 crore on Monday, which was day one of the season 7 players' auctions of the Pro Kabaddi League.
The athlete from Sangli, Maharashtra had earned widespread appreciation for his stellar show in season 6 of the PKL held last year. The winning bid for Desai was still Rs 6 lakh below the record League price paid for Bhiwani's Monu Goyat by Haryana Steelers at the auction last year.
Interestingly, Goyat was not among the 27 players retained by their respective teams ahead of this season's auction and was bought by UP Yoddha for 93 lakh. Other notable buys included star raider Nitin Tomar, who was retained by Puneri Paltan for Rs 1.20 crore while Tamil Thalaivas grabbed the impressive Rahul Chaudhari for Rs 94 lakh. U Mumba purchased all-rounder Sandeep Narwal for Rs 89 lakh.
Season 7 of the PKL will be held from 19 July to October, according to League Commissioner Anupam Goswami.
In women's hockey, Navneet Kaur struck twice as the Indian women's team overcame a 2-4 setback in the third quarter to level the score 4-4 in their third match against Malaysia on Monday in the five-match series.
India took an early 2-0 lead but made too many errors inside the circle while defending which led to back-to-back penalty corners. An aggressive Malaysia ensured that those opportunities were converted into goals.
Malaysia pushed harder, and two more penalty corners were converted by Nuramirah Zulkifli in the 35th minute and Nuraini Rashid in the 38th minute to make it 4-2 for Malaysia in the third quarter.
With their backs to the wall, India made a fantastic comeback in the final quarter. Two brilliant goals were scored - by Navneet in the 45th minute and by Lalremsiami in the 54th minute - as the visitors ensured a drawn match.
Chief India coach Sjoerd Marijne said after the match, "Obviously this wasn't our best match, we must forget this and move on...The girls were too easy going today which resulted in them making too many technical errors in ball possession but we hope to bounce back in the next match."