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'Credit to Ashutosh for taking match to the last ball,' says PBKS batter Shashank Singh

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Mullanpur, April 10 (IANS) After a narrow 2-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), Punjab Kings all-rounder Shashank Singh praised fellow batter Ashutosh Shama for his power-hitting and credited him for keeping the side in the hunt till the last minute of the game.

Chasing a target of 183 against SRH on Tuesday night, Punjab Kings got off to a slow start with the bat, and found themselves needing 67 in four overs. In the middle were the two rising stars Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma, who had already showcased their tenacity and power-hitting in the previous game, leading their side to a dramatic win over the Gujarat Titans last week.

As the home crowd cheered for their Kings on every ball, the hope remained the two youngsters could do it once again for their side. With 29 runs left to chase in the final over, Ashutosh slammed a couple of sixes to put pressure on the opposition. But a good delivery from speedster Jaydev Unadkat ended Kings’ hope and despite Shashank’s last-ball six, SRH won the game by 2 runs.

“We always play to win. So, we are upset whether we lose by 2 runs or 20 runs. A loss is a loss. But the way we took the game to the final ball, we have to credit Ashutosh for his innings. The way he came down and batted was brilliant. Till the last ball, we had faith and we were discussing in the middle that the chase was possible. We kept telling each other that we would be able to do it. But Unadkat managed to get that one ball that he needed to bowl to restrict us,” Shashank said in a post-match presser.

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The duo scripted an unbeaten partnership of 66 off 27 balls, once again showcasing their on-field camaraderie. While Ashutosh remained unbeaten on 33 off 15 balls, Shashank finished on 46 not out in 25 balls.

On being asked about the secret behind their tremendous partnerships, Shashank revealed how the belief shown by the team management and coaching staff has helped them gain confidence.

“We did a lot of match simulations in the pre-season Punjab Kings camp. We bat in the middle overs, so we were given a lot of scenarios. We had to chase 60-70 runs in 5 overs and we were able to do so a few times. So, we have faith and we both trust each other. Even if we need 60 runs in the final 4 overs, we feel confident we can get one big over and get the win. The credit has to be given to the coaching staff, support staff, and the management who have given us self-confidence and belief,” said Shashank.

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The 32-year-old further opened up on the learnings from the match and said he would discuss with coaches how he can continue to improve further.

“Individually, I was able to middle the ball a lot in the game which has given me a lot of confidence. But if we are unable to get the win, then there is always scope for improvement. So, we have to discuss the same with coaches now on how we can ensure we get those crucial 2-3 runs, or which bowlers in which situations I can target to do even better. That is the learning for us,” he added.

After winning the toss and electing to field the Punjab Kings bowling attack did well to shackle the explosive top order of the opposition. Arshdeep was the star, picking up four wickets and giving away just 29 runs in his four overs, while Harshal Patel and Kagiso Rabada also maintained a low economy rate. But Nitish Reddy’s 37-ball 64 helped Sunrisers post a challenging total on a tricky batting surface.

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Speaking on his role for the team, Shashank said that he has to finish off the games for Punjab Kings and get the win. “In the middle overs, our task is to take the game deep to the last over and win the game for our side. It is not possible every time. But if we can spend time on the crease, and adjust well to conditions, then it improves our chances. The more I could finish off games, the more beneficial it will be for the team,” he signed off.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Hardik, Kuldeep star as India thrash Bangladesh by 50 runs, inch closer to semis (ld)

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North Sound (Antigua), June 22 (IANS) Vice-captain Hardik Pandya top-scored with an unbeaten 27-ball fifty and took 1-32 in a top all-round performance, while wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav bowled a stellar spell of 3-19 as India thrashed Bangladesh by 50 runs to claim their second Super Eight stage win in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Saturday.

On a fresh pitch, Pandya smashed four boundaries and three sixes in his undefeated knock, which was key in India amassing 62 runs off the last five overs. Coupled with attacking 30s from Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Shivam Dube, India posted a commanding 196/5 in their 20 overs, their highest total in the competition.

In reply, Kuldeep bowled a wonderful spell, helped by bounce and a bit of grip to leave Bangladesh in disarray. The rest of the bowlers produced another outstanding show, and the fielders backed them up very well to restrict Bangladesh to 146/8 and inch closer to the semifinals. India will confirm their semifinal spot if Afghanistan fail to beat Australia at St Vincent.

India dominated from the word go with immaculate ease, as every batter looked to attack, resulting in four batters having strike-rate above 150. It resulted in them posting the highest T20I score at the venue and also hitting 13 sixes -– the most number of maximums they have hit in a T20 World Cup game.

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Pushed into batting first, with cross wind blowing, Rohit Sharma didn’t let the spinners settle by sweeping Mahedi Hasan for four, followed by repeating the same shot against Shakib Al Hasan for a similar result.

Kohli joined in taking the attack to the spinners by smacking Shakib for a clean six over long-on, followed by using his bottom hand strongly in flicking Tanzim Hasan Sakib for four.

Rohit danced down the pitch to hit Shakib for a big six, before slicing him past backward point for four more in the fourth over. Shakib eventually had the last laugh as Rohit got a top-edge on slog and was caught by a backward point to fall for a rapid 23.

Kohli used his bottom hand well in swinging Mustafizur Rahman for six, followed by slamming leg-spinner Rishad Hossain down the ground for another maximum. But in the ninth over, Tanzim’s clever change in pace got Bangladesh back in the game –- getting a slower off-cutter which kept straight to castle Kohli for 37.

Though Suryakumar Yadav swiped him for a six, Tanzim got extra bounce on a length delivery outside off-stump to take Suryakumar’s glove edge behind to keeper. Pant, who was at 12 off 15 balls, greeted Rahman with a drive through the gap between cover and mid-off for four.

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He was quick to heave a slower ball from him high over mid-wicket for six and flicked a full toss in the gap between square leg and fine leg for four more to take 14 runs off the 11th over. Hossain was next in the firing line, as Pant smashed him with the spin over long-on for six and then swept him behind for four more. But Hossain bounced back as Pant reverse-swept straight to short third man, falling for 36.

Pandya and Dube dealt in singles before the former cut loose by hammering Mahedi with the wind through extra cover for six and four respectively. Dube hammered three quick sixes before being castled by a slower googly from Hossain for 34. Pandya continued to be at his free-flowing best – slamming two sixes, before hitting three fours in the final over off Rahman to take India past 190 and get his fifty on the last ball of the innings.

Chasing 197 was always going to be an uphill task for a middling Bangladesh batting line-up. Despite the stiff target, Tanzid Hasan began strongly by hitting four boundaries, followed by Litton Das smashing two boundaries. Pandya got the breakthrough when Das couldn’t control his pull on a wide delivery and was caught at deep mid-wicket.

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Tanzid was dropped on 24 by Pant off Bumrah but was trapped lbw on the back leg by a stunning googly from Kuldeep. Towhid Hridoy was next to fall as Kuldeep got a leg-break delivery to turn in slightly and go past an attempted slog-sweep to trap him plumb lbw.

More success followed India as Kuldeep had Shakib mistime a loft to cover, followed by Bumrah deceiving Najmul Hossain Shanto with an off-cutter which he sliced to a short third man, and Arshdeep bowling a similar delivery to take out Jaker Ali.

Hossain impressed with his hitting abilities by smashing a four and three sixes, before giving a top edge on pull to extra cover off Bumrah, who finished with an economy rate of just 3.2 in another comprehensive win for India and maintained their unbeaten run in the competition.

Brief scores:

India 196/5 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 50 not out, Virat Kohli 37; Tanzim Hasan Sakib 2-32, Rishad Hossain 2-43) beat Bangladesh 146/8 in 20 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 40, Tanzid Hasan 29; Kuldeep Yadav 3-19, Jasprit Bumrah 2-13) by 50 runs.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Kuldeep picks 3-19 as India thrash Bangladesh by 50 runs, inch closer to semi-finals

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North Sound (Antigua), June 22 (IANS) Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav shined with a game-changing spell of 3-19, while fast-bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Arshdeep Singh picked two wickets each as India thrashed Bangladesh by 50 runs to claim their second Super Eight stage win in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium here on Saturday.

After vice-captain Hardik Pandya top-scored with an unbeaten 27-ball fifty and smashed four boundaries and three sixes in India making 196/5, their highest total in the competition, Kuldeep bowled a wonderful spell on a pitch having bounce and a bit of grip to leave Bangladesh in disarray.

The rest of the bowlers produced another outstanding show, and the fielders backed them up very well to restrict Bangladesh to 146/8 and inch closer to the semi-finals. India will confirm their semifinal spot if Afghanistan fail to beat Australia at St Vincent. Chasing 197 was always going to be an uphill task for a middling Bangladesh batting line-up.

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Despite the stiff target, Tanzid Hasan began strongly by hitting four boundaries, followed by Litton Das smashing two boundaries. Pandya got the breakthrough for India when Litton couldn’t control a pull shot on a wide outside off delivery and was caught at deep mid-wicket.

Tanzid was dropped on 24 by Rishabh Pant off Bumrah but was trapped lbw on the back leg by a stunning googly from Kuldeep. Towhid Hridoy was next to fall as Kuldeep got a leg-break delivery to turn in slightly and go past the attempted slog-sweep to trap him plumb lbw.

Though Najmul Hassan Shanto and Shakib Al Hasan hit some boundaries, Kuldeep took out the latter by forcing him to mistime a loft to cover. More success followed India as Bumrah deceived Shanto with an off-cutter sliced to short third man, followed by Arshdeep bowling a similar delivery to take out Jaker Ali.

Rishad Hossain impressed onlookers with his hitting abilities by smashing a four and three sixes, before giving a top edge on pull to extra cover off Bumrah, who finished with an economy rate of just 3.2 in another comprehensive win for India.

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Brief scores:

India 196/5 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 50 not out, Virat Kohli 37; Tanzim Hasan Sakib 2-32, Rishad Hossain 2-43) beat Bangladesh 146/8 in 20 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 40, Tanzid Hasan 29; Kuldeep Yadav 3-19, Jasprit Bumrah 2-13) by 50 runs

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Keshav Maharaj credits 'small moments' behind unbeaten campaign

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 22 (IANS) South Africa spinner Keshav Maharaj feels that the team has found ways to win “small moments” in the game that has helped them to stay unbeaten in the T20 World Cup so far. South Africa are cruising in the showpiece tournament with a six-match winning streak. Proteas have kept calm during the crunch situations and prevailed over their opponents in four close matches including the one-run win over Nepal in the group stage.

“If you look at previous World Cups, the small moments, we haven’t really won. It’s good to see that all the games have come really close and we’ve found a way, so it’s building the character within the team. And it prepares us for certain opportunities that we could get and cross over the line in those small moments, [these] are things that we’ve never done before. So, it’s good to see us getting into that,” Maharaj said.

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The left-arm spinner went on to say that South Africa have made every effort to get past the “hurt” caused by the 2023 ODI World Cup semi-final exit in India.

“This team believes that we can be really great as a unit. Obviously, with the last World Cup, bowing out in the semi-finals, it’s both the character and there’s a lot of hurt. So, we just take it one game at a time and focus on trying to get the results to go our way and not looking at the negatives, just trying to highlight the positives as much as possible,” Maharaj said.

South Africa’s next match against West Indies in Antigua on Sunday will feature a showdown between the teams’ left-arm spinners. South Africa boasts Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi while West Indies relies on Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie, who have been their standout bowlers in the tournament with Hosein claiming nine wickets and Motie eight in six matches.

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Maharaj acknowledged the spin battle, stating, “It’s always a battle of the spinners. I’m just going about my business. They’ve bowled exceptionally well in the tournament. I’ve watched quite a few spells of them, so obviously they’re quite a dominant force as well. They [West Indies] have got a very strong batting line-up, but [I will] just try to stick true to my processes and my principles.”

“It’s more a case of focusing on each and every game, not getting too ahead of ourselves. We’ve been very focused on our processes and trying to win each and every game and letting the rest take care of itself,” he added.

–IANS

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Football: Bayern Munich’s rehab and conditioning coach Thomas Wilhelmi passes away at 57

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Munich, June 22 (IANS) FC Bayern Munich have announced the death of Thomas Wilhelmi, the German club’s rehab and conditioning coach who has died at the age of 57 following a long illness. Wilhelmi worked for Bayern since 2007 and played a big part in the numerous successes of the last 17 years.

“Our entire club, and not least the coaching staff and the team with whom Thomas Wilhelmi worked so intensively for so long, are in deep mourning. Thomas Wilhelmi loved and lived FC Bayern and his profession: he always had his finger on the pulse of the players and was always there for them, especially during periods of injury, when top athletes need the most encouragement,” said Jan-Christian Dreesen, CEO of FC Bayern.

“For over 17 years, he was part of the team behind the team and could always be relied on. He made an invaluable contribution to the many titles over this long period. We will never forget him, and his human and professional qualities. Thomas Wilhelmi will always be a part of the FC Bayern family. Our thoughts are with his wife and two daughters,” he said.

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Wilhelmi joined the club in 2007 from Bayer Leverkusen and worked under various coaches, including Jupp Heynckes, Louis van Gaal, Pep Guardiola, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Jürgen Klinsmann, Carlo Ancelotti, Hansi Flick, Niko Kovac, Julian Nagelsmann and Thomas Tuchel.

For players such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer, Serge Gnabry, and Alphonso Davies, he was an important support, particularly during their rehab periods. During his time, FC Bayern won 13 Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup twice, seven DFB Cups, the UEFA Super Cup twice, and the German Supercup nine times.

–IANS

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Hockey Pro League: Flawless Dutch women secure second straight title with three matches to spare

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Utrecht (Netherlands), June 22 (IANS) Returning to action for the first time since February, the Netherlands Women defeated Germany 4-0 for a dominant win – their 13th from 13 matches this season – and secured their fourth title overall with three matches to spare in FIH Hockey Pro League here on Saturday. The odds were stacked against their opposition, Germany, who had not beaten the Dutch in regulation time since the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, as the home team, which was on the cusp of wrapping up a second straight title, came out strong and never allowed them many chances.

Just a month before the Paris Olympic Games, the World and FIH Pro League winners Netherlands made a triumphant return to international duty with a comfortable win. The first half was evenly contested and it was essentially two sharp plays from the Dutch that made all the difference.

The prolific Yibbi Jansen fired them ahead from a quickly taken free hit in the 8th minute. It was then Luna Fokke who laid off to Jansen before covering 20m to complete a sensational deflection and double the home side’s lead. The third quarter was hotly contested with both teams squandering a single penalty corner opportunity each.

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The final period served up plenty of action, the Dutch stealing the ball from the pushback to win a penalty corner which Jansen rocketed home to extend her lead at the top of the women’s goal-scoring list with 1an impressive 17 goals so far this season.

Frederique Matla then slotted in a drag flick two minutes later for her side to put one hand on the trophy. And while the Germans had a strong spell in the middle of the quarter, it was not enough to make any dent in the significant deficit, with the Dutch reasserting control to close out the match and with that, the title.

–IANS

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