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April 20, 2018

Saturday Sport: Aussie Rules, India Premier League, Nadal Surges, Kohli too.




In Australia, Football heads into the fifth week of the current season's competition.  Today will see four matches, with St. Kilda meeting the GWS Giants, and Fremantle taking on the Western Bulldogs.  


St. Kilda has fallen on hard times this year, and the normally great and proud team has found itself at number 16 on the ladder.  Today they take on the number one, ladder leader, the Greater Western Sydney Giants, at the Etihad Stadium a.k.a. the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, Victoria.  Not much is going right at St Kilda and things don't get any easier with Greater Western Sydney sure to pose a stern challenge. Even the Saints coach finds that most of his players are out of form, and the team has won only one game and dropped three. The midfield has been inconsistent and while the numbers looked reasonable last week, Richardson believed his side was overwhelmed by Geelong's physicality, and that could again be an issue considering some of the Giants' personnel. Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel and Stephen Coniglio – who has quietly had an excellent start to the season – form an onball unit that is tough to play against, so Jack Steven and Seb Ross will need to be at their best and ensure their side is competitive from the opening bounce.  GWS has won three of the last five meetings between the two teams. 


Meanwhile, the Fremantle Dockers will take on the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium in Perth.  The Dockers made Greater Western Sydney earn a 31-point win in blustery conditions at Canberra last Saturday and return to Perth aiming to extend their unbeaten run at Optus Stadium to three games against an improving Western Bulldogs line-up. Fremantle has looked a much more potent team at its new home compared to on the road, averaging 101 points in Perth and only 55.5 in two away losses.  Fremantle has won four of the last five meetings of the two teams. 



In Monte Carlo, in international tennis, Tennis star Rafael Nadal crushed fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-0, 6-2 to charge into the Monte Carlo Masters semi-finals on Friday as he stepped up his bid for an 11th title in style.  A tight match had been anticipated, but Nadal produced one of the most dominant wins of his career as Thiem fell to pieces in the Monaco sunshine.  The Austrian didn't get on the scoreboard until the 10th game, drawing ironic cheers from the crowd.  But it was a ruthless performance from the 16-time grand slam champion, who has to successfully defend the title this week to remain ahead of Roger Federer at the top of the world rankings. 

Nadal will face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the last four today, and is heavily favored.  Dimitrov benefitted from a second-set collapse by Goffin to reach the semi-finals for the first time with a 6-4, 7-6 victory.  The 26-year-old won over Goffin, as he did last year in the ATP Title game.  



The IPL Cricket Season heats up in India.  The two month season promises, as always, great excitement, and fan presence has been great at the matches until today, with special trains and busses chartered to transport thousands of fans to the stadiums.  



Chris Gayle has shown that he is not done with cricket just yet as his unbeaten hundred blows Sunrisers Hyderabad away.  Chris Gayle turned back the clock on Thursday, scoring an unbeaten hundred, as Kings XI Punjab beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by 15 runs in their Indian Premier League (IPL) game at Mohali.  The 38-year-old West Indian, whose big hitting underpinned many a win for Royal Challengers Bangalore for nearly a decade, had seen his star wane in recent times, but he came back with a vengeance Thursday, and showed the stuff he is made of... still...  After scoring a match-winning 63 for Punjab against Chennai Super Kings last Sunday, the left-hander announced he was not done with the game just yet. He followed it up with 104 not out to help the King XI post 178-4 in their allotted 20 overs on Thursday. 



Meanwhile  Dinesh Karthik lead the way for Kolkata Knight Riders in straightforward win over Rajasthan Royals.  The final score resulted, Rajasthan Royals 160-8 (20 ov), Kolkata Knight Riders 163-3 (18.5 ov).  It proved a total Kolkata overhauled with ease and trip to the top of the table, thanks in large part to Karthik’s 42, although credit must also go to Robin Uthappa (48), Sunil Narine (35) and Rana (35).

Virat Kohli smashed 92 off 62 balls to become the highest run-scorer in Indian Premier League history but his efforts could not halt Royal Challengers Bangalore's slump in this year's tournament.  Kohli's innings took his IPL total to 4,619 runs in 153 matches, putting him ahead of Suresh Raina of Chennai Super Kings on 4,558.  Despite his stellar performance,  Bangalore went down to defending champions Mumbai Indians by 46 runs on Tuesday. The final result was Mumbai Indians 213/6 (20 ov), the Royal Challengers Bangalore 167/8 (20 ov). 


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