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Champions League: Lunin flu makes Courtois clear favourite to play in final

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Madrid (Spain), May 29 (IANS) Thibaut Courtois’ chances of playing in goal for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League 2023-24 final against Borussia Dortmund look to be increasing with the news that Andriy Lunin missed Wednesday’s training session with flu.

Lunin has now missed two days without being able to train with the rest of the squad and he didn’t play a minute in the last La Liga match of the season against Real Betis on Saturday, while Courtois played over an hour.

Although the Spanish press report that Lunin is recovering well, the club preferred for him to miss Wednesday’s session to avoid the risk of infecting any of his companions, reports Xinhua.

Lunin was the first choice for Real Madrid for the majority of the season after Courtois tore his cruciate knee ligament in a pre-season training session, and his performances had led many to believe that he would get the nod from Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League final.

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However, Courtois’ performances in the four appearances he has made since completing his recovery show that he has quickly returned to his best form, and the Belgian is now the favourite to play in the final with Lunin on the substitutes’ bench.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Nepal eye good show against Bangladesh, says head coach Desai

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Kingstown, June 16 (IANS) Ahead of Nepal’s final match of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, head coach Monty Desai said his side is eager to put up a show against Bangladesh at the Arnos Vale Stadium.

Nepal were knocked out of the race to Super Eights after suffering a heartbreaking one-run defeat to South Africa and now face Bangladesh, who are in contention to grab the second and last Super Eight spot from Group D alongside the Netherlands, who are facing Sri Lanka.

“We are building our story, so I am not thinking about spoiling anyone else’s party. The message in the dressing room was that we still want to live in a world of imagination, where we want to believe that we crossed the line (on Friday).

“We want to think that we are on three points, looking forward to Bangladesh and playing to qualify for Super Eight. If you can bring that mentality and fight till the end, cross the line, at least we will go back with a proud moment of winning, and then probably think about the ifs and buts of other games. But yes, we want to put up a show,” said Desai in the pre-match press conference.

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Desai also admitted that he’s still soaking in the emotions of Nepal running South Africa real close in that nail-biting Group D game and believes their return to T20 World Cup fold after a decade will help in progression of cricket in the country.

“It’s very interesting, as when you don’t cross the line, it’s always seen as a team which has not been successful. But with the Associate team like Nepal who has never played against South Africa, if I had to only speak like a fan from outside, I know that they are capable more than that.

“But just as a fan who loves the game, I would say Nepal definitely have left their footprints with that game and to let the Test nations and world cricket know that they belong here. I have a strong belief in this class of the players who have come together.

“I know the numbers don’t match the professional numbers of battles of Test teams or well-established teams. But I strongly believe that when you talk about something which never changed previously, this will go down as something will change forever for Nepal,” he elaborated.

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A heartwarming sight in the T20 World Cup has been the outpouring of Nepal fans and supporting the side in huge numbers at Dallas, Lauderhill and Kingstown. Desai appreciated the massive support for the team from the passionate fans, but added that Nepal’s future progression is down to them playing against big teams and winning big moments consistently.

“I think the biggest success story of Nepal cricket is about these innocent fans. I say innocent because I am only looking at it through my lens. I know when I walk across the Tribhuvan University ground (in Kirtipur), I see so many of those Nepali fans on the banks, they might be having daily jobs, daily wages to live their life and they leave that and come to watch the game and support these young dreams.”

“They have stood with the umbrellas in the rain in the past. When we qualified (for the T20 World Cup), they were standing on the roof, they were climbing the trees. There are so many layers to the definition of ‘fans’ as the 12th man for Nepal cricket. I am sure it will be very hard right now for them to soak in their emotions.

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“Cricket is cruel sometimes. Again, I say South Africa had already qualified, we just needed to cross the line and stay alive in this tournament. I urge the fans back home to keep supporting these young dreams with the limited resources, not using an excuse. I think we have taken strides.

“The more we get exposure against these Test nations, again another opportunity tomorrow, we’ll go to that (game) against Bangladesh, and I think we’ll be up for it. I know all it requires now in those one-ball battles is courage and that is something which we are instilling and moulding in these young dreams,” he concluded.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'We've let entire nation down', says Matthews after SL's exit

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 16 (IANS) Sri Lanka veteran all-rounder Angelo Matthews said their early exit from the T20 World Cup has let down the entire nation.

Sri Lanka suffered two straight defeats against South Africa and Bangladesh in Group D before a washout against Nepal in Florida. The Island nation will take on the Netherlands in their final league-stage match on Monday.

Matthews said the side will play for pride in their last match at the showpiece event.

“I think first of all we’ve let the entire nation down and we are really sorry because we’ve let ourselves down. We never expected this. I mean, we came across a lot of challenges but those are not something to sort of worry about, but it’s unfortunate that we didn’t make the second round,” Mathews said in the pre-match press conference.

“We have just one more game in the tournament, and we’ll play for our pride. And we haven’t done justice to ourselves, especially the way we played in the first two games. So, it’s very unfortunate, we are heartbroken and we are hurting so much within ourselves,” he added.

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The 37-year-old said their dismal performance in the showpiece event didn’t do justice to their capabilities after defeating Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the lead up to the tournament.

“That’s something that we regret because the way we played Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh in Bangladesh, I thought we didn’t do justice for our capabilities in this tournament.

“I mean, as you say, when you come into a World Cup, you can’t take any team lightly but unfortunately the way we played against those teams just before the World Cup and then once we came back here and the way we played… obviously the wickets were quite different but we didn’t do justice to ourselves,” he said.

Matthews also mentioned the fact that Sri Lanka’s matches were scheduled at four different venues and they had to travel the most in this World Cup but he asserted it can’t be an excuse for the below-par outing.

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“We are very frustrated as I mentioned earlier a few times. I think in my career, we have never travelled this much for a World Cup. It’s not an excuse, but it is about the reality. I think that only Sri Lanka and the Dutch team played the four matches of this tournament in four different locations.

“As I said before it’s not an excuse, but in my career, this is the most travelled World Cup in history. But as I said before, we were not able to achieve our hope as a team or as a country. I’m very sorry about it,” he said.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Hazlewood's eliminating England remark 'blown out of proportion by…', says Starc

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Gros Islet, June 16 (IANS) After Australia ended their Group B matches in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup with a five-wicket win over Scotland, fast-bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc insisted that Josh Hazlewood saying about eliminating England was in their best interest was a throwaway line which the media blew out of proportion.

“I think a throwaway line has been blown right out of proportion by you lot. You don’t stuff around with mother cricket and trying to worry about other results. We’re here to win games. It’s international cricket.

“England now are on the other side of the draw, so it really doesn’t make that much difference for the next three games. So yeah, I think that was blown right out of proportion by you guys,” said Starc in the post-match press conference.

He went to say that he was not a huge fan of teams starting from the scratch in Super Eights. “I think there’s a big question to be asked about the pre-seeding, I’m not sure I’m a fan of that.”

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At the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Marcus Stoinis shined with a match-winning 29-ball 59, followed by Tim David making 24 off 14 balls as Australia chased down 181 in 19.4 overs, despite the required creeping up to 14 at one point.

“We’ve got phenomenal power in our middle, well right through our order really. But when you’ve got Stoin and TD and even (Matthew) Wade in the middle there, they haven’t had too many things to do the first few games. So, to have a good hit tonight or to get us home with the run rate going up a little bit and maybe being a comparatively a slowish start, it was good to get some time into those guys.

“But Stoin obviously did it for us. He got us going in the first game against Oman, against England, his ball striking in his second half of the innings was phenomenal. So, he’s in great touch which is good for us heading into the pointy end. But I don’t think, with as good as the wicket was, the rate probably didn’t get out of hand with the power that we’ve gotten as yet,” stated Starc.

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What would have concerned Australia is the six catches they shelled and allowed Scotland to post 180/5 in their 20 overs. “We certainly were off the mark in the field with the dropped catches and probably some other areas that were a little bit sloppy as well.

“So good to get that stuff out of the way now and now we’re into the pointy end. It didn’t feel different. It’s still a World Cup game and we’re still playing for Australia so we’re still trying to take wickets and win games,” added Starc.

In the clash against Scotland, Australia rested Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, which paved the way for left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar to bowl four overs for the first time in this T20 World Cup. Starc signed off by saying the move to get in some game time for Agar was with Australia expecting spin to play a major role in the competition.

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“We were in a position where we had plenty of options on the table. We had a chance to rest the two big boys (Hazlewood and Cummins) and get some gametime into Ash. We have another game here (against India) in the Super Eight, so (it was about) getting accustomed to or having a look at conditions here as well.

“Having some batting time into our middle order and some of our spinners obviously getting some time in different situations in the bowling innings, it was a good hit out. That was all we wanted and then we push onto the Super Eights,” he conlcuded.

–IANS

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Chennaiyin FC sign experienced Indian defender Mandar Rao Dessai

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Chennai, June 16 (IANS) Chennaiyin FC have announced the arrival of experienced Indian defender Mandar Rao Dessai to their squad ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Dessai is regarded as one of the most successful players in the Indian Super League (ISL), having won the league title in 2021 with Mumbai City FC and three League Shields — one with FC Goa (2020) and two with Mumbai City (2021 and 2023).

The 32-year-old from Goa became Chennaiyin’s seventh signing of the summer with a two-year contract that will keep him at the club till 2026.

The former captain of Mumbai City and FC Goa brings extensive experience and leadership to the team. Dessai is expected to form a formidable backline for Chennaiyin alongside players like Ryan Edwards, Elson Jose Dias Junior and PC Laldinpuia.

Commenting on the signing of Dessai, head coach Owen Coyle said: “In Mandar Rao Dessai we have got bags of experience coming in at left back. He’s a wonderful defender who can honestly say he knows the Indian football scene better than most, having made more appearances than nearly any other player in the history of the league.”

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Dessai began his professional career with Dempo SC in the I-League in 2013 before joining the Gaurs for the inaugural season of ISL in 2014. Since then, he has made 155 appearances in the league, including 14 playoffs, and has also registered six goals and 12 assists.

“Chennaiyin is a champion club. They’ve been champion two times and have been to playoffs so many times. I’ve played against them before and they always tried to have a good team. The coach also told me that I can be a good example for the youngsters and help the team grow,” Dessai said.

In 2020, Dessai created history by becoming the first player to make 100 ISL appearances. He was part of the East Bengal set-up last season where he spent 1195 minutes on the field in 17 ISL games.

Dessai has also played in the midfield on several occasions during his illustrious career. His versatility and vast experience will provide tactical flexibility to the team.

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He has also represented the Blue Tigers in various tournaments and was part of the Indian team that won the SAFF Championship in 2021.

–IANS

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'Seemed like the right time': Namibia's David Wiese announces international retirement

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North Sound (Antigua), June 16 (IANS) Namibia allrounder David Wiese has retired from international cricket after his teams final T20 World Cup group stage match against England on Sunday.

Namibia’s camapign ended after their third group stage loss on Sunday to defending champion England. Their only win in the tournament came against Oman.

After Wiese was dismissed by Jofra Archer in the final over of Namibia’s chase in a rain-curtailed match, he raised his helmet and bat to the crowd as he walked off before being greeted by his teammates, including captain Gerhard Erasmus, at the dugout.

“I mean, (the next) T20 World Cup is still two years away, I’m 39 years old now, so , in terms of international cricket, I don’t know if there’s much left in me,” Wiese said in the post match press conference. Obviously, I would still like to play the game for a couple more years, I feel like I’ve still got a lot to contribute and a lot to play,” he said.

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“But I just feel like what better place to end a special career for me personally with Namibia. I’ve had a lot of good times with them and to play my last game for them possibly at a World Cup against a world-class team like England, it just seemed like the right time,” he added.

Wiese, who usually bats in the middle order, was promoted up the order to no. 3, smashed two sixes and a four in successive Adil Rashid in his 27 off 12 innings.

Originally from South Africa, Weise has played in three consecutive T20 World Cups for Namibia.

Wiese made his T20I debut for South Africa in 2013 and his ODI debut in 2015. He also represented the Proteas in the 2016 T20 World Cup. In 2021, he debuted for Namibia in the T20 World Cup and played a key role in their qualification for the Super 12s.

Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus too confirmed that Sunday’s game against England was Wiese’s last game for Namibia.

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“Unfortunately it was his last game, which is a great moment for him to perform like that in his last game,” Eramus said in post match interview.

“Massive impact, in terms of the level of cricket he brought to our circle. He’s a great guy on the field in terms of performance but off the field he is someone we have really learned a lot from and he’s inspired us to new heights and greater heights,” the Namibia skipper said.

–IANS

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