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'Retiring as a legend': FIFA pay tribute to Chhetri with Messi, Ronaldo comparison

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Following Sunil Chhetri’s official announcement in which the striker announced that he will be playing his last game for India against Kuwait on June 6, many boards, teams and players have come out pay tribute to the Indian captain’s stellar career.

The official handle for the FIFA World Cup has posted a tribute for Chhetri as well which included the iconic photo of him standing with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on a podium, which signifies the top three active international goal scorers.

The picture was coupled with a caption, “Retiring as a legend”.

“Sunil Chhetri, the world’s third-highest active international goalscorer, will play his final game for Indian Football in next month’s FIFA WorldCup qualifiers,” added the official account for the FIFA World Cup on X (formerly known as Twitter).

The 39-year old played his 150th game for his country against Afghanistan last month. He has scored 94 goals so far in his international career with fans hoping he finds the back of the net at least one more time in the blue tigers jersey during the game vs Kuwait at Salt Lake Stadium.

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FIFA World Cup’s official account also posted a video of Chhetri’s previous interview in which he talked about the comparisons made between him, Messi and Ronaldo.

“Some of the fans go overboard and think about comparing (with Messi & Ronaldo) but there are footballing fans who understand there is no comparison between the kind of players that we are but I will definitely compete with them with all my might in terms of giving the best for your country. There I probably would not lose,” Chhetri had said to FIFA +

–IANS

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Men’s T20 WC: Obed McCoy replaces injured Jason Holder in West Indies’ 15-member squad

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St. John’s (Antigua), May 26 (IANS) Pace bowler Obed McCoy has been named as the replacement for injured Jason Holder in co-hosts’ West Indies’ squad for the upcoming Men’s T20 World Cup. West Indies is in Group C of the tournament and will play its first match on June 2 in Guyana against Papua New Guinea.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) said in its statement on Sunday that Holder sustained the injury during his 2024 County Championship stint for Worcestershire and added the team’s medical staff will provide all necessary support to the fast-bowling all-rounder for ensuring his swift and complete recovery.

“Jason is an experienced player in our set-up. His absence will undoubtedly be felt both on and off the field. We look forward to having a fully fit Jason with us again soon. While it is unfortunate to lose a player of Jason’s caliber, we are confident in the abilities of Obed McCoy.”

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“Obed has shown remarkable skill and promise in his performances, and this opportunity will allow him to further showcase his talent on the international stage. We believe he will bring a fresh and dynamic energy to the squad,” said lead selector Desmond Haynes.

McCoy has picked 33 wickets in 27 T20 games this year, and is known for his skillful variations, particularly at the back end of the innings. He was the leading wicket-taker on the West Indies A team’s recent tour to Nepal, and is turning out for the side in their ongoing T20I series against South Africa at Jamaica.

CWI added that Kyle Mayers, Matthew Forde, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr. and Andre Fletcher are the five reserve players who would be ready to step in if needed to the Rovman Powell-led West Indies’ side for the Men’s T20 World Cup.

“We are fortunate to have such depth and quality in our ranks. Our reserve players are all A-class talents who have proven their abilities in various formats of the game, but certainly T20. Each one of them is fully capable of slotting into the team seamlessly should the situation arise,” added head coach Daren Sammy.

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West Indies won the Men’s T20 World Cup twice – first in Sri Lanka in 2012 and then in India in 2016. Now hosting the tournament for the second time at home after 2010 edition, West Indies will be eyeing to be the first team to win a Men’s T20 World Cup on home soil.

Following their tournament opener against PNG, West Indies will face Uganda on June 8, followed by playing New Zealand at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad on June 12, and facing Afghanistan on June 17 in St Lucia.

West Indies Squad: Rovman Powell (Captain), Alzarri Joseph (Vice Captain), Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Shamar Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, and Romario Shepherd

Reserves: Kyle Mayers, Matthew Forde, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh Jr. and Andre Fletcher

–IANS

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IPL 2024: Powerplay in both innings is going to be what shapes the game, says Mitchell Starc

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Mitchell Starc, the fast-bowling spearhead of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), believes the power-play in both innings of IPL 2024 final will be a major factor in shaping the outcome of the title clash.

KKR is up against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2024 final at the MA Chidambaram Stadium and are eyeing to win their third IPL title after 2012 and 2014. KKR have beaten SRH twice already in this season of the IPL.

“Sunrisers played here a couple of nights ago but it is a different wicket, it will be about adapting with the bat and ball, I think powerplay in both innings is going to be what shapes the game, we were on the better side of that in Ahmedabad and hopefully it is the same here, but we know in T20 cricket anything can happen,” said Starc in a pre-game chat with broadcasters.

Asked about KKR’s preparation for the title clash, Starc said, “We had one (practice session) interrupted by rain last night. We all got warmed up and ready to go and then the rain came, so hopefully that’s not the case tonight.”

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“It was nice to get here early after our game in Ahmedabad, obviously we watched the other game (Qualifier 2) here last night unfold which resulted in us playing the Sunrisers, everyone is ready to go.”

After having a lean time in IPL 2024, Starc has been amongst the wickets, especially with his three-fer against SRH in Qualifier 1 playing a huge factor in KKR having an easy passage into the final. As of now, Starc has scalped 15 wickets in 13 games, averaging 28.66 at an economy rate of 11.07.

“I felt that my rhythm was building up being back into T20 cricket after a fair while, so thankfully that has been the case and got back into rhythm – the intensity and how quickly you need to adapt in T20 to conditions or how the batting team goes about it.”

“Our bowling unit has been fantastic throughout, the openers at the top order have been phenomenal as well and we have just gone about our business as a group, trying to improve game on game and find ourselves in the final. It has been nice personally to contribute to that and hopefully it is another successful night tonight,” he stated.

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Middle-order batter Rinku Singh thinks KKR’s success in IPL 2024 has been shaped by the positive team environment. “Team atmosphere is superb. Whenever we enter the dressing room, Ramandeep Singh plays Punjabi songs and it changes the environment.”

“GG (Gautam Gambhir) sir and Chandu (Chandrakant Pandit) sir have given us a lot of freedom. The thought process remains the same (for the final), playing according to the match situation.”

“It’ll be a dream come true to win a senior trophy. I’ll try to give my best. Hopefully we win the match. We have played a match here as well, so we know how the wicket plays. I never look too far ahead, I always stay in the present,” he concluded.

–IANS

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IPL 2024: Hyderabad elect to bat first in the title clash against Kolkata

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Chennai, May 26 (IANS) Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain Pat Cummins has won the toss and elected to bat first against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL 2024 title clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday. It’s the third time an IPL final is going to be played between top two teams in the points table.

Two-time champions KKR have beaten 2016 winners SRH twice in this IPL season – once in the league stage and in Qualifier 1 respectively. Sunday’s final is being played on a red-soil pitch, with 63m and 70m square boundaries, along with a straight boundary at 77m. It is the pitch where Punjab Kings beat Chennai Super Kings by seven wickets on May 1.

After winning the toss, Cummins said Shahbaz Ahmed takes Abdul Samad’s place in the playing eleven. “Looks like a good wicket, played on a different wicket the other night. There was no dew on the other night’s game, but when it does, it’s very damaging.”

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“We’ve had now dew the other night, I don’t feel there’ll be any today, I want to have a crack with the bat first. We have a style that doesn’t work always, but when it does work, it’s very damaging. We have done well defending scores,” he said.

KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer, leading a side in an IPL final for the second time, said they have bowled first on winning the toss and his playing eleven is unchanged from their Qualifier 1 win over SRH in Ahmedabad earlier this week. KKR have been unbeaten while chasing in IPL 2024.

“We’ll get a fair idea about how the pitch will play. It’s a red soil and we played our last game on a similar surface. We need to stay with the present, stick to the basics and execute all our plans. Every individual is taking responsibility, this is a big game, we’ve plenty of people who’re playing in a final for the first time, nervous, but this is also a good chance,” he said.

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Playing XIs:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wicketkeeper), Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Shreyas Iyer (captain), Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Ramandeep Singh, Mitchell Starc, Vaibhav Arora, Harshit Rana and Varun Chakaravarthy

Substitutes: Anukul Roy, Manish Pandey, Nitish Rana, KS Bharat and Sherfane Rutherford

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Travis Head, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nitish Reddy, Heinrich Klaasen (wicketkeeper), Shahbaz Ahmed, Pat Cummins (captain), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat and T Natarajan

Substitutes: Umran Malik, Glenn Phillips, Mayank Markande, Abdul Samad and Washington Sundar

–IANS

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Boxing World Qualifiers: Abhinash Jamwal, Nishant Dev register comfortable victories on Day 3

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Indian boxers continued their winning run on day three of the second World Boxing Qualifiers for Paris Olympics as Abhinash Jamwal and Nishant Dev comfortably won their respective 63.5kg and 71kg bouts in Bangkok on Sunday.

Jamwal, who has replaced Olympian Shiva Thapa in the 2nd qualifiers, was at his dominant best against Andriejus Lavrenovas of Lithuania in his first-round bout.

The Himachal Pradesh boxer was clinical with his punches in the opening round and only dominated the ring further as his confidence rose higher to earn a unanimous 5-0 verdict from the judges.

Later in the day the World Championship bronze medallist boxer, Nishant Dev also ensured a dominating 5-0 win over Armando Bighafa of Guinea-Bissau.

Dev never looked under any kind of pressure as he controlled the bout from the very first minute and continued with his flurry of punches in the second round too to put the opponent completely in the back foot and securing the judges unanimous verdict without any doubt.

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Among the 10 Indian participants in Bangkok, Sachin Siwach (57kg) and Abhimanyu Loura (80kg) had registered contrasting victories on the first two day of competition while Amit Panghal (51kg), Sanjeet (92kg), Narender (+92kg) along with women’s pugilists Jaismine (57kg) and Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) have received a first-round bye.

On Monday, Ankushita Boro will start her 60kg campaign against Namuun Monkhor of Mongolia while Abhimanyu Loura will face Kelyn Cassidy of Ireland in the 80kg round of 32.

India had already earned three Paris Olympic berths at the 2022 Asian Games so far.

–IANS

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'Don't get the same buzz': Zampa keen to prioritise internationals over T20 leagues

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Sydney, May 26 (IANS) Australia’s leg-spinner Adam Zampa said he would like to prioritise playing international cricket as he doesn’t get the same level of buzz when featuring in various T20 franchise leagues around the world.

Zampa was due to play for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2024, but pulled out of the competition due to fatigue reasons. After last playing international cricket in February, Zampa will be seen in action for Australia in the upcoming men’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA from June 1.

“I’ve really come to love playing for Australia. I always loved it, but playing under Dan Vettori, Andrew McDonald and Pat and Mitch as captains, it is just so enjoyable. I make good money playing for Australia and I would love to prioritise playing for Australia and being with my family.”

“I don’t get enough out of franchise cricket. It’s great for certain aspects of your life, and it can be really enjoyable, but it’s not like being in the Aussie dressing room, not for me anyway. I don’t get the same buzz out of it,” said Zampa to ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’.

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The leg-spinner revealed he had thoughts about being a globe-trotting T20 leagues player, but is now content with not being part of that bandwagon. “There’s always a lot of chat about ‘can you play franchise cricket all year round’ and it was something I had thought about – at what age do I get through to try to then play a bit of franchise cricket.”

“But after 2023 and winning the World Cup and all that, and having a young family now as well, I’ve realised I want to play cricket for as long as I can, and instead of trying to play for nine or 10 months of the year, it’s play for six or seven,” he added.

Australia will play its 2024 men’s T20 World Cup games in Trinidad and then Barbados where Zampa will reunite with left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar, who was in the squad during the side’s triumphant campaign in the 2021 edition in the UAE (but played just one game). Agar also missed Australia’s 2023 men’s ODI World Cup title-winning run in India due to a calf injury.

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“I feel like there’s a little bit of unfinished business. Ash missed out on the last World Cup, he didn’t play during the World Cup we won in Dubai, and I really think this is his World Cup to put his stamp on.”

“I think the wickets are going to suit him, and I think he can play a major role. We feed off each other, we make each other train better, we think about the game a lot more when we’re around each other. So it’s great to have him back,” added Zampa.

He signed off by saying leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is a big future prospect for Australia. Sangha was in contention to be a travelling reserve for Australia until he suffered a hip flexor injury during a training camp in Brisbane.

“He’s had a lot of niggles and injuries in the last couple of years that he’s found it hard to get any continuous cricket in, but he’s years ahead of where I was at his age. Even now, I think ‘I wish I could do that’ and ‘I wish I had that part of his bowling’. He’s really smart and certainly going to have a long career for Australia.”

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“I’m pretty glad that I’m 10 years older than him, not five because I feel like there’d be a time where I’d be in the classifieds (looking for a new job). I’m 32 now and the way things are going, hopefully I get a bit more time playing for Australia – but I won’t be 38 and trying to hold on because I know Tanveer is going to be pretty special,” concluded Zampa.

–IANS

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