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Maharashtra's Samad Fallah announces retirement from professional cricket

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New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Samad Fallah, Maharashtra’s highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy history, has officially announced his retirement from professional cricket. The left-arm swing bowler concluded a distinguished career that saw him claim 272 Ranji wickets and 287 first-class wickets overall in 78 matches at an average of 28.48.

Fallah also made significant contributions in limited-overs cricket, taking 75 List-A wickets and 62 in T20s. His defining moment came in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in March 2010, where he played a pivotal role in delivering Maharashtra their only senior-level silverware since the 1940-41 season, with a match-winning four-wicket haul.

In an Instagram video post featuring Fallah’s distinguished career, Fallah expressed his gratitude and reflected on his journey: “Retirement is not an easy identity. but had accepted it a couple of years back. Announcing it is formality… from not playing any age group to taking a fiver on debut and becoming the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy for my Maharashtra. this state has given me my identity… winning the Mushtaq Ali trophy finals by taking a 4-fer to take 10 wickets in semifinals of Ranji Trophy semifinals… Thank you, MCA for trusting me.. I gave my all and (am) so happy. I have played most BCCI finals for Maharashtra.. and will still be with my MCA till I win Trophies for my state. I say goodbye to my bowling which is the most amazing gift I had… Thank You all.”

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Fallah’s last official match was a Vijay Hazare Trophy game for Uttarakhand in March 2021. After moving to Uttarakhand for the 2020-21 season, he returned to Maharashtra. He made himself available for selection in all three formats but did not get another opportunity to resume his career.

Now 39, Fallah has taken on the role of head coach for the Nashik Titans in the Maharashtra Premier League and has decided to make his retirement official.

Having never played representative age-group cricket, he made his mark through eye-catching performances in tennis-ball tournaments, eventually breaking into club cricket. At 22, Fallah made his debut for Maharashtra, immediately making an impact with a match-winning second-innings six-wicket haul against Himachal Pradesh in November 2007.

Fallah quickly established himself as the leader of Maharashtra’s bowling attack, consistently taking over 20 wickets in every Ranji season from 2007-08 to 2014-15. His peak years saw Maharashtra build one of the best seam attacks in Indian domestic cricket, with Fallah, Anupam Sanklecha, Domnic Muthuswami, and Shrikant Mundhe driving the team to the Ranji final in 2013-14 and the semi-finals in 2014-15. One of his career highlights was the semifinal in Indore in January 2014, where he captured 7 for 58 on the first morning, helping bowl Bengal out for 114.

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At the time of his retirement, Fallah ranks as the second-highest wicket-taker among left-arm fast bowlers in Ranji Trophy history, with only Jaydev Unadkat (316) ahead of him.

–IANS

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Emotions are still going through, it was an unbelievable experience: Samson on WC win

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Sanju Samson, India’s vice-captain on T20I tour of Zimbabwe, recalled being a member of T20 World Cup winning team last month, saying emotions from the victorious scenes at Barbados are still going through his mind and called it an unbelievable experience.

“The emotions are still going through. The photos are still around. It was an unbelievable experience. I couldn’t stop smiling. Very fortunate to be part of the team. Credit to everyone who contributed. It was a complete team effort,” said Samson to broadcasters.

Talking about the change to bring in Mukesh Kumar and Riyan Parag, as well as being the deputy to Shubman Gill in the series, Samson remarked, “There will be some shuffle in the batting order, hoping to get some time in the middle. I have been leading RR for the last four years.”

“There have been some legends. I take care of legends and youngsters. You understand cricket a bit more. When you are a captain, you think about other players and team as well. I have been getting better.”

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Zimbabwe fast-bowler Richard Ngarava said he feels quite alright now after dealing with fitness troubles. “I have put in the hard yards over the past month. I had a knee issue, quite happy to be back in the team. Quite a lot of lessons you take from playing in the (T20) leagues. You come across a lot of coaches and fitness trainers. You get to learn a lot of things. At the end of the day, you want to do the simple things better.”

Asked about what makes his bowling partnership with Blessing Muzarabani effective, Ngarava said, “We have been in the same academy, it’s been going for us for a long time. He’s one guy who pumps me when I am low and I pump him up when he’s low. Hopefully, we keep taking wickets. Hopefully, both of us can take fifers in the same match.”

–IANS

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'I’m a believer of dreams': Southgate and England stand on the cusp of greatness

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The 1996 Euros were not a pleasant one for English manager Gareth Southgate. The former Three Lions defender was the one who missed the penalty in the shootouts against Germany in the semi-finals of what was their home tournament. Deutschland went on to win the tournament.

After 28 years, Southgate has the chance to lead the nation to their very first European Championship in Germany. When asked about the chance to complete his fairytale ending, Southgate answered with a wonderful response.

“I am not a believer in fairytales, but I am a believer in dreams. We have had big dreams and felt the importance of that, but you have to make those things happen. The run we’ve had, the late goals and penalties, doesn’t equate to it being our moment. We have to make it tomorrow and perform. It would be a lovely story and it’s in our hands but the performance is the most important thing,” said Southgate to reporters in the pre match conference.

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Germany were eliminated by Spain in the quarterfinals of the tournament in what was perhaps one of the best games of the tournament.

Southgate is not the only one who has the chance to finally complete his dream. England captain Harry Kane has been criticized for many years on his trophy record. The all-time top scorer in English football claimed ‘it is no secret,’ when asked about his trophy aspirations.

“It is no secret that I haven’t won a team trophy. Every year that goes by, you are more determined to change that. Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to win one of the biggest prizes you could ever win and to make history with my mates. I’m extremely proud to be English, so no question I would swap everything I’ve done in my career to have a special night and a win,” concluded the Bayern Munich striker.

–IANS

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Durand Cup returns to Kokrajhar for the second consecutive year

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Kokrajhar, July 14 (IANS) The return of the Durand Cup tournament, now in its 133rd edition, is a very prestigious event for Kokrajhar in Assam. The three coveted Durand Cup trophies (Durand Cup, President’s Cup and the Shimla Trophy) were displayed at the Bodofa Cultural Complex, Chandamari here on Sunday.

The iconic trophies were presented in the presence of Pramod Boro, Chief Executive Member, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Nandita Gorlosa, Minister for Power, Sports & Youth Welfare.

Also present at the event were the Cooperation and Indigenous Tribal Faith & Culture (Archaeology) Dept Government of Assam, Lt General RC Srikanth VSM, Chief of Staff, HQ Eastern Command, Chairman Durand Cup Organising Committee (DCOC).

Kokrajhar hosted six group matches in the previous edition of the Durand Cup, when it became only the second city in Assam to host the prestigious tournament. The tremendous response received has ensured that Kokrajhar not only continues as hosts this year, but also hosts an additional match and that too a knockout game.

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Clearly enthused on the occasion, Boro while welcoming all dignitaries and guests said, “I am very happy that the Indian Army has favourably responded to our request of holding an additional game this year in Kokrajhar and have kept their promise to us. As a result a seventh game, that too a quarter-final knockout of the Durand Cup will be held here for the very first time. We are very grateful and such magnanimity will only do wonders to the already cordial civil-military relationship, existing in the Bodoland region.

“Like everyone here, I too will be rooting for our favourite Bodoland FC boys, however, we look forward to competitive and exciting football matches in the coming days and wish all visiting teams and guests a wonderful time at Kokrajhar,” he added.

Assam Sports Minister Gorlosa said, “We have seen last year how a tournament like the Durand Cup brought the entire Kokrajhar together and this year, thanks to the leadership of our Chief Minister and the Chief Executive Member, it promises to be bigger and better here. Boro has done a tremendous job with the infrastructure here and Kokrajhar is now firmly established on the footballing map of India, thanks to his tireless efforts. I wish the football-loving youth and fans of Kokrajhar a wonderful time supporting your local heroes, while also appreciating good football from all quarters.”

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Of the six groups, Group E, comprising ISL sides North-East United FC (NEUFC) and Odisha FC along with BSF, besides the local Bodoland FC team, will be based in Kokrajhar.

The first match is scheduled to kick off at the SAI Stadium between the popular Bodoland FC and NEUFC, in what can be dubbed as an all-Assam derby, on July 30.

All matches of the Durand Cup will be broadcast live on the Sony Sports Network and can also be live-streamed on the SonyLiv OTT platform.

A total of 24 teams, including two Services teams from Nepal and Bangladesh, will be seen in action across 43 matches, which will be played in the four host cities of Kokrajhar, Shillong, Jamshedpur (last two named making their debut as host cities) and Kolkata. Kolkata will also host the grand final at the hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) on August 31.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Mukesh, Riyan come in as Zimbabwe win toss and elect to bowl first against India

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Mukesh Kumar and Riyan Parag come into India’s playing eleven as Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bowl first in the fifth and final T20I of the series at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

India have already sealed the series with a 3-1 unassailable lead, thanks to their ten-wicket triumph in the fourth game on Saturday. Mukesh and Riyan replace Khaleel Ahmed and Ruturaj Gaikwad in India’s playing eleven, as they aim to end the series with a 4-1 scoreline.

“We were looking to bat first anyway. Our spinners have bowled well and the fast bowlers have been economical. The players have been hungry. It’s not easy to play back-to-back matches,” said India captain Shubman Gill after winning the toss.

Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said Brandon Mavuta has replaced Tendai Chatara in the playing eleven for Sunday’s game, which they are eyeing to win for ending the series on a high.

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“The wicket will get better when we bat second. Not difficult at all, the motivation is there, the confidence is there and the skillset is there. We want to do well and finish the series on a high. Chatara has been rested, he’s played four games in a row and we have a Test match coming up (against Ireland),” he said.

Playing XIs-

India: Shubman Gill (captain), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Abhishek Sharma, Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Riyan Parag, Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Ravi Bishnoi, Tushar Deshpande and Mukesh Kumar

Zimbabwe: Wessly Madhevere, Tadiwanashe Marumani, Brian Bennett, Dion Myers, Sikandar Raza (captain), Johnathan Campbell, Faraz Akram, Clive Madande (wicketkeeper), Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani

–IANS

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Copa America final: 28-game unbeaten Colombia stand in the way of Argentina’s record title win (preview)

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Miami, July 14 (IANS) The 2024 Copa America has boiled down to its final game. The defending champions Argentina, will be taking on a strong Colombian side at the Hard Rock Stadium on Monday (IST).

Argentina’s path to the finals was straightforward with their biggest hurdle proving to be Ecuador in the quarter-finals which the side won on penalties thanks to the heroics of Emiliano Martinez. Lionel Scaloni’s men defeated Canada 2-0 in the semi-finals of the tournament.

Colombia on the other hand are on a dream run which has seen them remain unbeaten in 28 games which is a national record. Their previous record was of 27 games and their victory over Uruguay in the semi-finals saw them create history.

Argentina’s Lautaro Martinez is currently the leading scorer at the tournament with four goals to his name whereas James Rodriguez sits miles above the rest in the assists leaderboard with six to his name with the next best being several players tied with two assists.

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Head-to-head: The two sides have faced each other 42 times in their history with Argentina holding a impressive lead with 25 wins to their name compared to Colombia’s eight, nine games ended in draws.

What the managers said-

“I hope the fans have a party, I want it with all my heart. Apart from the joy of winning the title, I think it would be a joy for everyone if it ends well,” said Scaloni to reporters in the pre-match conference. “Even though we know it will be his(Angel Di Maria) last game, we will always decide first what is best for the team. If he has to play it’s because he has to play, if we decide not to play him it’s because we think differently,” he added.

“We hope that everything goes well and that Angel can retire in the best possible way. We need to be the best Colombia, the best version, to beat Argentina, the champions of everything. To win against Argentina, we have to be very well-prepared, because they are the champions, it will be a very demanding match,” said Colombia head coach Nestor Lorenzo.

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–IANS

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