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Premier League: Three massive games this weekend to help decide title

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London, April 26 (IANS) Three decisive matches this weekend — one of them the biggest derby in London — will go a long way toward deciding this season’s Premier League title, and perhaps also the scramble to avoid relegation. The first game is on Saturday lunchtime when Jurgen Klopp’s tired Liverpool side travels to face West Ham at the London Stadium.

Liverpool travel to east London after a derby defeat to Everton on Wednesday dealt a massive blow to their title hopes, leaving them third in the table, two points behind Manchester City and three behind Arsenal, with City having a game in hand. Klopp’s side again lacked energy at Goodison Park, and with less than 72 hours to prepare, it’s hard to see how it can recover physically against a side that is going to look to test it from set pieces – as Everton did.

The good news for Liverpool is that West Ham are also exhausted after their run to the Europa League quarterfinals, with the club surrounded by rumours that Julen Lopetegui is being lined up to replace David Moyes as coach at the end of the season.

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The other two decisive games are on Sunday, with league leaders Arsenal crossing north London to play traditional rivals Tottenham in a key game for both sides.

Arsenal’s impressive demolition of Chelsea on Wednesday means they have a one-point lead over Manchester City, but City have a game in hand. Mikel Arteta’s side must hold its nerve against a rival that also needs a win. Tottenham sit fifth in the table, six points behind Aston Villa, but with two games in hand and three points are vital if they want to stay in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Spurs haven’t played since April 13 when they lost 4-0 to Newcastle, and at this stage of the season, it’s hard to know if that break will allow tired legs to recover or break their rhythm.

Manchester City purred to a 4-0 win away to Brighton on Thursday night, with Phil Foden and Kevin de Bruyne in outstanding form, and they visit struggling Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Forest’s defeat to Everton last weekend left them a point above Luton Town and Luton could move two points above Nuno Espiritu Santo’s side if they win away to mid-table Wolverhampton on Saturday afternoon.

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If Luton lose on Saturday, that could lift some pressure from Forest against Pep Guardiola’s side, who has Erling Haaland as their only fitness doubt, but the way Manchester City demolished Brighton suggests they are hitting top form at the right moment.

Aston Villa will move nine points clear of Tottenham if they beat a chaotic Chelsea on Saturday. Unai Emery extended his contract with the club for another season in the week, while Chelsea suffered a 5-0 humiliation away to Arsenal and need to show a reaction of some kind.

Chelsea have the firepower to hurt Villa on a good day, but the Villa pair of Ollie Watkins and Leon Baliey are much more effective in front of goal.

Elsewhere, Newcastle United should keep up the pressure on a top-six finish and could confirm Sheffield United’s return to the Championship on Saturday.

Manchester United are currently sixth but have been wildly erratic in recent games and Burnley must see their visit to Old Trafford as a chance to overtake Luton in their survival bid. Everton are almost safe after consecutive wins, while Brentford’s five-game unbeaten run has also moved them closer to assuring top-flight survival. Finally, Fulham and Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Brighton play two mid-table derbies with little at stake other than pride.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: USA becomes first team penalised for stop-clock rule against India

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New York, June 13 (IANS) The United States cricket team became the first side to be penalised under the new stop-clock regulations designed to speed up the pace of play in T20 international cricket against India in Group A match of the T20 World Cup at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.

The USA were pulled up for not starting the next over in time and as a result, their opponents India were awarded extra runs.

The regulation, which became a permanent feature in men’s ODIs and T20Is from June 1, stipulates that the fielding side must begin the next over within 60 seconds of the previous one ending. If they fail to do so three times in an innings, a five-run penalty is imposed and runs are awarded to their opponent.

With India chasing a target of 111, they needed 35 runs off the final five overs, a challenging task on a difficult batting pitch. At the start of the 16th over, the stop-clock regulation came into play as the USA failed to start the over on time for the third time in the innings. The umpires promptly imposed the five-run penalty, reducing India’s target to 30 off 30 balls, significantly easing the pressure on the batting side.

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The umpires were seen explaining the penalty to Aaron Jones, who was captaining the USA in the absence of the injured Monank Patel. Despite the tense situation, the USA team had to accept the penalty and continue with the game.

The introduction of the stop-clock was meant to improve over rates, and its trial period showed promising results, saving around 20 minutes per ODI match. However, no team had been penalized for sticking to the stop-clock thrice in a single innings until this match, making the USA the first to suffer the consequences of this new rule.

India capitalised on the penalty and went on to win the match by seven wickets with 10 balls to spare, thanks to crucial contributions from their middle-order batsmen. The victory ensured India’s place in the Super 8s with three wins in three games, showcasing their dominance in the tournament.

The USA are now faced with a must-win situation in their final group match against Ireland. A win or no result would see them through to the Super 8s, but a loss could leave their qualification hopes hinging on net run rate.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Arshdeep, Suryakumar propel India to Super Eight with a seven-wicket win over USA (Ld)

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New York, June 13 (IANS) Suryakumar Yadav scored a 49-ball unbeaten half-century after Arshdeep Singh claimed a four-fer as India thrashed USA by seven wickets in a Group A match to qualify for the Super Eight stage in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

It was India’s bowlers who set up the win as they delivered a masterclass in seam and swing bowling, setting the stage for their batsmen to chase down a manageable total and secure a vital victory in their T20 World Cup campaign. Arshdeep claimed four wickets for nine runs in four overs while Hardik Pandya bagged 2-14 as India restricted USA to 110/8 in 20 overs.

After setting a modest target of 111, USA’s Saurabh Netravalkar shocked India with early wickets — Virat Kohli got out nicking behind for a golden duck while Rohit Sharma was caught by Harmeet Singh for three. It was the stuff of dreams for the 32-year-old, who had spoken about the desire to chat with Kohli, among others, after the match.

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Skipper Rohit Sharma was opened up by an in-swinger from Netravalkar. On both occasions, Netravalkar had the ball slanting away from the right-handers. Rohit turned the bat face a tad early to get a leading edge to mid-off where Harmeet Singh, Rohit’s junior at school, took an excellent catch running back.

Out came Suryakumar Yadav, Netravalkar’s close friend from Mumbai. The two have known each other from their Under-15 days and played club cricket together before being teammates at in the Ranji Trophy. Yadav added 29 runs in 32 deliveries for the third wicket with Rishabh Pant. Pant was cleaned up by Ali Khan for 18 runs as the ball shot low and skidded through the batter’s defence.

With another Mumbaikar Shivam Dube as his new partner, Yadav repaired the innings. He began with his trademark flick for six over long leg but was treading caution. With 55 needed off 45 balls, Yadav looked to create shots out of the box.

An over prior, he’d tried to sweep Corey Anderson off his lengths and nearly got bowled and then in a bid to break the shackles, SKY tried to open the bat face and play the lofted drive but ended up slicing it to short third. Netravalkar, who can do no wrong, made circles underneath after doing exceedingly well in getting to the ball but trembled for a fraction as the ball descended, and it slipped through his hands.

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Five penalty runs were awarded to India with 35 needed off 30 as thrice in the inning USA failed to start the over within the time limit. Everything fell in peace for India as Yadav–the NO.1 T20I batter as per the ICC Rankings, scored a 49-ball half-century and took India to a seven-wicket victory. Dube remained unbeaten on 31.

Earlier in the day, India’s clinical bowling display, spearheaded by Arshdeep Singh, restricted hosts USA to a modest total of 110/8. On a day when conditions favoured the bowlers with abundant swing and seam movement, India won the toss and elected to field.

It took just one ball for Arshdeep to make an impact. His very first delivery was a beautiful in-swinger that struck Shayan Jahangir’s pad, giving India an early breakthrough. The hosts found themselves at 2 for 2 as Andries Gous, attempting to tackle a short-of-length delivery, succumbed to the extra bounce and was caught out. Both wickets fell in Arshdeep’s electrifying first over.

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Nitish Kumar provided a glimmer of hope for the USA, displaying his clean-hitting ability with some powerful shots, including a straight hit off Hardik. But his promising innings of 27 was curtailed by Arshdeep, who struck again, thanks to a brilliant catch by Siraj at deep midwicket. Arshdeep’s remarkable spell ended with figures of 4 for 9, while Hardik Pandya’s disciplined bowling earned him 2 for 14 in his four overs.

Brief Score:

USA 110/8 in 20 overs (Nitish Kumar 27, Steven Taylor 24; Arshdeep Singh 4-9, Hardik Pandya 2-14) lost to India 111/3 in 18.2 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 50 not out, Shivam Dube 31 not out; Saurabh Netravalkar 2-18, Ali Khan 1-21) by seven wickets.

–IANS

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Indian Grand Prix 3: Abha Khatua, misses national mark, maintains good form with shot put title in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru, June 12 (IANS) Asian Championship silver medallist Abha Khatua, who set a national record in the Federation Cup athletics last month, came up with a below-par effort to win the title in the Indian Grand Prix 3 2024 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.

In men’s javelin throw, Sachin Yadav topped the standings after recording a personal best of 82.69m on his penultimate attempt. Rohit Yadav finished second with 75.52m while Asian Games silver medallist Kishore Jena did not start.

Jyothika Sri Dandi and Subha Venkatesan also came up with personal best timings in the women’s 400m.

However, the focus was on Abha Khatua as she had set a national record of 18.41m in the women’s shot put at the Federation Cup athletics last month.

On Wednesday, Abha, an Asian Championships silver medallist, won the gold in the Indian Grand Prix 3 with a throw of 17.93m on her final attempt. Shiksha finished second with 15.38m while Ambika V recorded a 14.32m throw for the third spot.

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Abha is yet to breach the Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying mark of 18.80m but she is currently 27th in the Road to Paris rankings.

The top 32 eligible athletes as per rankings and the entry standard will make it to the women’s shot put event at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Sachin Yadav topped the men’s javelin throw event with a personal best effort of 82.69m on his penultimate attempt. Rohit Yadav finished second with 75.52m.

The Paris 2024 Olympics qualifying standard in men’s javelin throw is 85.50m. Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena had breached the entry standard for the Paris 2024 Olympics last year.

Asian Athletics Championships bronze medallist Jyothika Sri Dandi clocked a personal best of 51.53s to win the women’s 400m final.

Tokyo Olympian Subha Venkatesan also logged a personal best of 52.34s to finish second. Meanwhile, Poovamma Raju Machettira was third in 52.62s.

Asian Games silver medallist Ancy Sojan beat Asian Championships bronze medallist Nayana James in the final to win the women’s long jump title. Ancy recorded a 6.52m jump on her final attempt which helped her overcome Nayana’s 6.48m leap. Bhavani Yadav Bhagavat finished third with 6.27m.

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–IANS

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ATP Tour: Musetti survives Koepfer scare in Stuttgart; Tiafoe reaches quarters

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Stuttgart (Germany), June 12 (IANS) Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti reached his third tour-level quarterfinal on grass on Wednesday at the Stuttgart Open, clawing his way past Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-7(9), 7-6(5), 6-3 in a hard-fought second round match.

The fifth-seeded Italian failed to convert five set points in the first set and then rallied from 3/5 in the second-set tie-break to stay alive in Stuttgart. He struck 15 winners in the third set to advance after two hours and 49 minutes.

With his 13th win of the season, Musetti levelled his ATP head-to-head series with Koepfer at 1-1. The No.30 player in the ATP Rankings also reached the quarterfinals in Stuttgart last year and will aim to go one step further this week when he next plays Alexander Bublik after the third seed defeated the 2023 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hamad Medjedovic 6-1, 7-6(4).

Bublik, who fired 18 aces against Medjedovic, clinched the biggest title of his career last season on grass at the ATP 500 in Halle.

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Defending champion Frances Tiafoe continued his title defence with a 7-5, 7-6(5) win against German Yannick Hanfmann.

Tiafoe, who beat Struff in the title match last year to win his third ATP Tour crown, saved all 11 break points he faced according to Infosys ATP Stats to triumph after one hour and 55 minutes.

The fourth-seeded American holds a modest 13-12 record on the season. He will hope he can rediscover his best level this week on the German lawns, where he next takes on Jack Draper or Marcos Giron.

–IANS

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Bengal Pro T20 League: We need to focus on building stands, says Siliguri Strikers skipper Priyanka Bala after loss in first match

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Kolkata, June 12 (IANS) Following their defeat in the opening match of the Bengal Pro T20 League, Siliguri Strikers Women’s team skipper Priyanka Bala emphasized the need to focus on building partnerships in the middle to secure victories in upcoming games. Siliguri Strikers Women lost the opening match to Harbour Diamonds on Wednesday here at the Jadavpur University campus grounds, Salt Lake. Harbour Diamonds Women began their campaign on a winning note.

Despite the loss, Priyanka Bala remains optimistic about the team’s prospects

“We played well but we have to improve on certain aspects so that we can make a comeback in the League,” said Priyanka Bala after the defeat in the opening match.

Batting first, Siliguri Strikers got off to a slow start with opening batters crawling their way in the middle. It was skipper Priyanka Bala who played a knock of 23 in 13 balls and took her side to 95/5.

Chandrima Ghosal also scored 24 runs in 22 balls but due to Siliguri Strikers starting very slow in the T20 match, the side wasn’t able to cross 100. Harbour Diamonds registered their first win in the opening match.

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“Today we didn’t build any partnerships, so our main focus will be to build a partnership in the next match. And in bowling we need to see our line and lengths and then bowl accordingly,” said skipper Priyanka.

Speaking about her innings, Priyanka said, “I batted just like I bat in any other game. Our run rate was quite slow, so I tried hitting some shots. If I would have been there till the end, we would have given them a good target.”

Siliguri Strikers will now lock horns with Murshidabad Kings on Friday in the women’s leg of the Bengal Pro T20 League.

The Bengal Pro T20 League, which is managed by Arivaa Sports, is conceptualised on the lines of the IPL involving 8 franchise teams in both the men’s and women’s categories.

–IANS

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