Cricket’s ‘magic’ up in smoke without live audience: Kohli

India's Virat Kohli says playing cricket without fans around is not fun. (Reuters File Photo)
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Updated 09 May 2020

Cricket’s ‘magic’ up in smoke without live audience: Kohli

NEW DELHI: India captain Virat Kohli believes cricket will be robbed of its “magical moments” if games are forced into empty stadiums when the sport emerges from its pandemic lockdown.

“It might happen. I honestly don’t know how everyone’s going to be able to take that, because we are used to playing in front of so many passionate people,” said the star batsman.

“It will be played at a very good intensity, but that feel of the crowd connecting with the players, everyone feeling that tension around the stadium, those emotions are difficult to recreate,” he told the Star Sports television channel.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted all major sports and cricket is suffering without its cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) which should now be reaching its final stages.

“We will play the sport how it’s supposed to be played but those magical moments would be very difficult to come by,” Kohli said.

Some European football leagues are already making plans to restart in empty stadiums.

But the IPL has not announced its intentions and there are now major doubts on whether the Twenty20 World Cup will start in Australia in October.

The International Cricket Council has said it is “exploring all options” for the tournament.

Australia’s wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, who was to play for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, said it would be a “hollow feeling” if games are played in front of empty stands.

“Cricket as we’re used to is going to be different for a bit. There’s the T20 World Cup and the IPL that we’re all looking to play, but it’s hard to picture anything without the fans,” Carey said in an instagram session with Delhi’s official website.

“It’s going to be a hollow feeling, but I feel the fans will at least have some live cricket to look forward to on TV.”

Australia batsman Usman Khawaja, meanwhile, said that playing against India behind closed doors in the much-anticipated test series at the end of the year might end up being an advantage for the home side.

“It’s definitely an advantage” he told Fox Sports News with a laugh on Saturday. “I remember the last time they came over for a one-day series, the roar for India was much bigger.

“Especially in Melbourne, the amount of expats they have over there, they flock in. And when India’s on top they really let you know it.

“It’s a really weird feeling. When you’re in India, you expect to be outnumbered massively but you can be outnumbered in Melbourne, as well as Sydney to some extent also.”

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Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

Updated 15 August 2020

Bayern stuns Barcelona 8-2 to reach Champions League semis

  • Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic

LISBON, Portugal: With four goals in the first half hour and four more in the last half hour, Bayern Munich humiliated Barcelona 8-2 on Friday to reach the Champions League semifinals for the second time in three years.
Thomas Müller scored twice and Ivan Perišić and Serge Gnabry added on in Bayern’s stunning start to the standout quarterfinal between the only past champions left in the last eight.
Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho (twice) piled on in the second half as Barcelona conceded eight for the first time since 1946.
Barcelona got on the board with an own-goal by David Alaba in the first half and a goal by Luis Suárez in the second among only seven shots on target.
Seeking its first title since 2013, Bayern will next face either Manchester City or Lyon, who meet on Saturday in the last quarterfinal.
Paris Saint-Germain and Leipzig will play in the other semifinal of the mini-tournament being staged without fans in Lisbon amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The humiliating loss ended a disappointing season for Barcelona, one that included a coaching change and public disputes between players and team officials. It is the first time since 2008 that the Spanish club finished a season without a significant title. It hasn’t lifted the European trophy since 2015.
The commanding victory kept alive Bayern’s quest for a sixth title, which would move it ahead of Barcelona. It will be back in the semifinals for the first time since 2018 when it lost to Real Madrid in the last four. The German champion was eliminated by Liverpool in the round of 16 last season.
It is the first time since 2007 that no Spanish club has made it to the semifinals.
The result adds pressure on coach Quique Setién, who had already been criticized after Barcelona relinquished the Spanish league lead — and title — to Real Madrid after the competition resumed following the pandemic break.
Barcelona, which was eliminated by Liverpool in last year’s semifinals, hasn’t reached the final since the title run in 2015. It got past Bayern in the last four that year. The German club has the most wins against Barcelona in the European tournament.
In a hectic start at Benfica’s Stadium of Light, Barcelona paid for defensive mistakes against Bayern’s potent attack, which reached 39 goals in nine games in this Champions League.
Just four minutes in, Müller scored from inside the area after a breakaway that started when Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets gave the ball away at midfield.
Barcelona equalized three minutes later when Alaba found his own net while trying to intercept a pass by Jordi Alba to Suárez.
Barcelona had a couple of great chances shortly after, with Suárez’s close-range strike being saved by Manuel Neuer and Messi’s curling cross shot hitting the far post.
Messi also missed after a run into the area, and Bayern went back in front with Perišić’s powerful shot past goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
Bayern added the third and fourth goals three minutes apart after Gnabry beat Gerard Piqué to a pass into the area, and Müller completed a cross into the area after Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo conceded possession.
Suárez pulled Barcelona closer in the 57th, but Kimmich added the fifth goal after Alphonso Davies cruised past the Barcelona defense.
Lewandowski scored with a header in the 82nd, and Coutinho — a former Barcelona player who struggled at the Catalan club — closed the scoring with goals in the 85th and 89th minutes.
With his double, Müller reached six goals in five matches against Barcelona on the occasion of becoming the German player with the most appearances in the Champions League at 113.
Bayern also had a 53rd-minute goal disallowed for offside.