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IPL 2024: Samson’s usage of Parag at number four makes him standout captain this year, says Morgan

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New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) One of the main selection questions for India ahead of the men’s T20 World Cup squad selection possibly at the end of this month is choosing the right candidate for the wicketkeeper-batter slot.

There are plenty of contenders for that slot, comprising Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Jitesh Sharma and Dhruv Jurel. Eoin Morgan, England’s 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup winning captain, has backed Pant to be the preferred choice for the wicketkeeper-batter slot in the Indian team for T20 World Cup.

“It would be Rishabh Pant, because of the player that he is. I don’t see him being hampered in any way after coming back from that car crash. For me, he’s a very destructive player and is also left-handed. A left-hander in that middle-order role which he can play will also add a huge amount of pressure as opposed to the generic right-handers,” said Morgan, an IPL expert, in a virtual interaction organised by digital broadcasters JioCinema.

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Pant made a return to competitive cricket action through Delhi Capitals’ first game against Punjab Kings at Mullanpur on March 23, nearly 15 months after suffering various injuries, including reconstruction of right knee ligaments, in a life-threatening car crash in December 2022.

Pant’s scores in IPL 2024 for DC so far have been 18, 28, 51, 55 and 1, coming at an average of 30.60 and strike-rate of 154.54. He’s shown signs of coming back to his prime best with the bat and gloves, taking four catches while effecting a stumping in the competition. In 66 T20Is for India, Pant has made 987 runs, including three half-centuries, at an average of 22.43 and strike-rate of 126.37.

Right after IPL 2024 ends on May 26, everyone’s focus will shift immediately to Men’s T20 World Cup, hosted by USA and the West Indies from June 1-29. India will be entering the tournament with an aim to add their second T20 World Cup title after winning the inaugural edition in 2007.

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But India’s recent record in T20 World Cups hasn’t been encouraging – failing to make the semi-finals in 2021 and being handed a ten-wicket thrashing by eventual champions England in the semi-finals of 2022 edition.

Morgan, who won 2010 T20 World Cup title with England, believes India’s biggest challenge will be to quickly adapt to conditions on offer in USA and West Indies when they kickstart their campaign against Ireland at the Nassau County Stadium in Eisenhower Park, New York on June 5.

“In terms of the upcoming T20 World Cup, I see India’s biggest challenge being adapting to conditions. They will be playing Ireland and Pakistan (plus USA) in New York, on a pitch that we don’t know what it’s going to be like. It will be a new stadium, which should be a brilliant and excellent venue.”

“But they will be playing on a pitch of which we have no previous information about. For me, that can cause issues because one of the hardest thing that comes in winning away from home is always about how you play conditions. In T20Is especially, it can be difficult. So, the tournament slowly moves collectively down to the Caribbean islands.”

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“But if you would ask me about the tournament and the template on how you wish to win as a team, be clear in your roles and how you want to achieve things will help you in taking confidence to the next stage of the competition. So, their biggest challenge will be adapting to conditions in USA and West Indies,” he concluded.

–IANS

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India beat Pakistan to clinch World Championship of Legends title

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Edgbaston, July 14 (IANS) India Champions crowned the World Championship of Legends winners after beating Pakistan five wickets in a pulsating finale.

The Yuvraj Singh-led side showcased their dominance in the competition and secured the coveted title in a match that went down to the wire as two teams fought hard.

Pakistan Champions, opting to bat first after winning the toss, posted a competitive total of 156/6 in 20 overs.

Kamran Akmal (24 off 19) and Maqsood (21 off 12) gave the team a solid start, but regular wickets kept the scoring in check.

The standout performer was Shoaib Malik, who scored a crucial 41 off 36 balls, anchoring the innings. Captain Younis Khan failed to make a mark as he was clean bowled by Irfan Pathan for 7. The middle-order collapsed and Misbah-ul-Haq was retired hurt after a brisk 18, late contributions from Sohail Tanvir (19* off 9) ensured Pakistan posted a respectable score.

Indian bowlers, led by Anureet Singh who claimed three wickets with support from Vinay Kumar, Pawan Negi and Irfan Pathan (one wicket each) were instrumental in containing Pakistan’s batting lineup.

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In response, India Champions started their run chase with intent. Despite losing Robin Uthappa (10) early, Ambati Rayudu’s explosive 50 off 30 balls set the foundation for the chase for the Men in Blue.

Suresh Raina too departed cheaply for 4 in the same over, helping Pakistan make a comeback. But a strong partnership between Rayudu and Gurkeerat Singh Maan (34 off 33) kept India on track.

Rayudu and Mann also departed in a space of 10 runs but the momentum stayed firmly in India’s favour with Yusuf Pathan’s blistering 30 off 16 balls before the latter was dismissed in the penultimate over.

With captain Yuvraj Singh (15*) and Irfan Pathan (5*) at the crease, India sealed the win, finishing at 159 for 5 in 19.1 overs.

Pakistan’s bowlers, despite their best efforts, couldn’t halt India’s march towards the target. Aamer Yamin was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-0-29-2, supported by Sohail Tanvir and Sohail Khan, who took one wicket each.

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Brief Scores: India Champions: 159/5 in 19.1 overs (Ambati Rayudu 50, Gurkeerat Singh Mann 34, Yusuf Pathan 30; Aamer Yamin 2/29) beat Pakistan Champions: 156/6 in 20 overs (Shoaib Malik 41, Kamran Akmal 24; Anureet Singh 2/43) by 5 wickets.

–IANS

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Sonam Kapoor exudes grace at the Wimbledon Women's Final in London

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Mumbai, July 14 (IANS) Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, recently seen in the streaming movie ‘Blind’, attended the Wimbledon Women’s Final in London.

Making a fashion statement, the actress exuded elegance and style. She donned an outfit designed by Bottega Veneta. For the occasion, she chose a sophisticated striking long yellow, blue, and black dress layered with the Optical Crinkle Cotton Check ensemble from the Pre-Fall 24 collection.

The outfit featured a long-sleeved white, blue, and black shirt and a matching long skirt. She accessorised her look with a pair of sleek Tex Mule shoes in black, also from the Pre-Fall 24 collection.

Adding a touch of exclusivity, Sonam carried the Liberta bag in black from the Winter 24 special preview, making a chic and timeless fashion statement at the prestigious event.

Sonam, who is known as a fashion icon in the Hindi film industry, has long been celebrated for her impeccable fashion sense. Her consistently brilliant sartorial choices have made her a favourite among top fashion brands worldwide.

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As she gears up for her comeback after her pregnancy, Sonam has two major projects lined up, including ‘Battle for Bittora’, with details of the second tentpole project being kept under wraps.

The actress and her husband Anand Ahuja welcomed their son, Vayu Kapoor Ahuja, in August 2022.

–IANS

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Tour de France: Jasper Philipsen edges Wout Van Aert in chaotic Stage 13 Sprint as big crash mars finale

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Paris, July 13 (IANS) A wild day at the Tour de France, the most prominent cycling race in the world, ended on Saturday with Jasper Philipsen taking his second win. Visma-Lease a Bike were tested after Adam Yates, the teammate of race leader Tadej Pogacar, managed to get in the break, prompting a fierce chase in crosswinds. After the race came back together, Biniam Girmay set his team to work in pursuit of a fourth win, but ultimately it was Philipsen who won the day.

A crash-strewn finish after crosswind chaos in south-west France resulted in a second sprint win for Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) over his Belgian rival Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) in Pau. Philipsen came from deep to show his class and hold off Van Aert and the German Pascal Ackermann (Israel-Premier Tech) after a crash on the home straight dashed the hopes of Belgian champion Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny) and a handful of other outsiders.

The in-form green jersey Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) could only finish a distant fourth after his hopes of a famous fourth win did not materialise after a stage that felt more like a hilly spring classic than a sprint stage of the Tour de France. The sight of the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) taking ninth place in the bunch gallop only emphasised the bonkers nature of the 165.3km ride from Agen, which was animated from the get-go as blustery winds twice tore through the peloton and caused dangerous splits and some serious soul-searching.

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Pogacar retained his 1 minute 06 seconds lead over Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) ahead of a decisive weekend in the Pyrenees, with defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) lurking in third place a further eight seconds back.

All three riders found themselves in a split off the front of the peloton in the opening hour after winds on exposed roads saw six Visma riders and half a dozen others go clear in pursuit of a select breakaway that included the world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin–Deceuninck) and Pogacar’s UAE team-mate, Adam Yates.

After this select group returned to the peloton, a second wave of echelons occurred around 60km from the finish with the peloton splitting in three. The first two groups came back together after swallowing up the breakaway – but the final group on the road, which included sprinters Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan) and Fernando Gaviria (Movistar), would never see the front of the race again.

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The attacks rained down on the lumpy approach to Pau but the main field eventually came back together in time for the finale, which was marred by a crash that saw a handful of riders hit the deck after Belgium’s Maxim van Gils – bringing up his Lotto Dstny team-mate De Lie – violently clipped the shoulders of a retreating Amaury Capiot of Arkea B&B Hotels.

The incident occurred on the opposite side of the road as the battleground occupied by Philipsen, Van Aert and Ackermann, who put on a show to finish in that order after a fast and unforgiving three-and-a-half hours in the saddle.

The mountains that loomed on the metaphorical horizon served as no deterrent to a group of 22 riders that went clear shortly after the start of a day with no shortage of contenders for the combativity prize.

Joining Van der Poel was one of his rainbow predecessors in Poland’s Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), the Slovenian Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), De Lie and his Lotto Dstny team-mate Brent Van Moer, and the polka dot jersey of Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Mobility).

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The breakaway had not been clear for long before the first gusts of wind began to wreak havoc. An acceleration from Vingegaard’s Visma team was expertly covered by Pogacar and Evenepoel as a dozen zipped clear for a brief foray ahead of the pack. If they were soon pegged back, it was a precursor to what was still in store.

With Yates threatening the general classification places of riders from Visma-Lease a Bike, Soudal Quick-Step, and Ineos Grenadiers, an alliance soon formed on the front to keep the gap no bigger than a minute.

The upshot of the fast pace and early drama also involved the UAE team of the race leader, with Spain’s Juan Ayuso – struggling with illness for a few days – forced to become the 17th rider to abandon after losing touch with the peloton. The climbing lieutenant’s presence in the mountains could well prove to be a huge loss for Pogacar in his bid to win a third Tour and complete a famous Giro-Tour double.

–IANS

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Copa America 2024: Argentina legend Messi hails 'dynamic' Colombia ahead of final

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Buenos Aires (Argentina), July 13 (IANS) Argentina captain Lionel Messi noted that Colombia will pose a formidable test when the two teams meet in the Copa America final at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in the USA on Sunday. Colombia is unbeaten in the past 28 matches and earned a place in the final by defeating Uruguay 1-0 in the semifinal, despite playing for more than half the match with only 10 men.

“We were able to watch the Uruguay-Colombia match,” Messi said. “We knew that either one of the teams [Uruguay or Colombia] was going to be very difficult.”

“There’s a reason Colombia hasn’t lost for so long. It’s a team that has very good players. They are very intense, with fast and dynamic players in attack,” the Argentina star was quoted as saying.

Argentina are vying to become the first team in history to successfully defend their Copa America crown while holding the World Cup title, reports Xinhua.

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Sunday’s duel at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium also added meaning for the Albiceleste given it will be the last international appearance of winger Angel Di Maria.

“Finals are something else, but we’re feeling good and calm, as we have been throughout the whole tournament,” Messi said. “We’re enjoying everything that is happening and focusing on the final.”

–IANS

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Ahead of Euro 2024 final: Spain's conductor Rodri favours talking about others

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Berlin, July 13 (IANS) Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal seems to feel a mischievous glee when talking to Spain’s midfield conductor Rodri. “I do it every day. Every day I tell him to come to Madrid, there is more sunshine,” the 32-year-old reported ahead of the Euro 2024 final this Sunday against England. Carvajal always finishes his promotional tour by saying: “It’s a perfect match, more than perfect.”

The courted teammate is said to always smile but in fact, a possible move back home might currently not be on his mind, with minds focused on the upcoming final.

Carvajal’s efforts might fail as his teammate has a contract with Manchester City until 2027, Xinhua reports. Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola recently called him irreplaceable, despite Real desperately looking for a successor for the retired Toni Kroos. While Rodri is undoubtedly a match for the job, football fans see him conducting the game of Luis de la Fuente’s Spain team at the highest possible level.

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The Madrid-born midfielder seems to feel the game in every second. Slow down and keep things simple, or change into furious high-speed attacks, Rodri has to do it all. Termed by Guardiola as the world’s best midfielder, Rodri seems to have found his place after having played as a central defender at the 2022 World Cup due to Sergio Busquets ruling the midfield.

Without complaining, Rodri carried out the job in the back; needless to say, he can cover various positions satisfactorily.

Having started at the back for City, his genius-like ability in midfield became dominant. “He is calm and precise under high-pressure situations,” Kroos said of the silent leader.

Rodri isn’t only staying away from social media activities and, when presented on the podium in press conferences, seems happy when he can talk about others. With pleasure, he talks about wonderkid Lamine Yamal, predicting a glittering career for the now-17-year-old as “he has what no other has at his young age.”

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Having first been coached by defensive master Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid, time spent under the tutelage of Guardiola at City might have triggered Rodri’s attacking desires.

Scoring might not have turned into his favorite exercise, but he is around when opportunities pop up, with eight goals and nine assists in the previous Premier League season.

In the final against England, Spain’s conductor is set to meet several familiar faces but talks unemotionally about the issue.

“We have done a fairly good job so far. But there is always something to do better,” he said, leaving no doubts that doing better means winning the tournament.

Self-confidence around Spain has grown, with La Roja being the only Euro 2024 with six straight wins.

–IANS

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