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T20 World Cup: Afghanistan's all-round display seals first ever win over Australia

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Kingstown (St Vincent), June 23 (IANS) Riding on Gulbadin Naib’s four-wicket haul after Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran’s opening stand of 118, Afghanistan stunned Australia by 21 runs in the T20 World Cup Super Eight match on Sunday (as per IST) here at Arnos Vale Ground, securing their first-ever win over the cricketing powerhouse.

Afghanistan’s win brought an end to Australia’s impressive unbeaten run at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Now, both teams are neck-and-neck in the race to join India in the next phase of the tournament.

Australia’s skipper Mitchell Marsh won the toss and opted to field first, a decision that may well have proven fatal. Gurbaz and Zadran’s opening stand of 118 off 95 balls took Afghanistan to 148/6 in 20 overs.

In defense of 148, Gulbadin (4-20) and Naveen-ul-haq (3-20) wreaked havoc on Australia’s chase and bundled them out for 127 in 19.2 overs to seal their first-ever win over mighty Australia.

The Afghans executed their plan perfectly from the start, with the openers Gurbaaz and Zadran staying patient and precise during the Powerplay. With a mix of dots and boundaries, they avoided losing wickets. Six boundaries helped them reach 40/0 in the first six overs. By the mid-point, Afghanistan was 64 for no loss.

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On a pitch favouring spinners, Agar and Adam Zampa were attacked during the middle overs. Zampa’s expensive 13th over included two boundaries, a misfield, a close LBW shout, and a missed stumping by Matthew Wade.

Gurbaz reached his 50 in the 15th over and then Zadran did the same five balls later. Marcus Stoinis delivered Australia’s long-awaited breakthrough scalp when he removed Gurbaaz in the 16th over, breaking the deadly-looking 118-run partnership and turning the tide.

Then, Zampa took two wickets in the next over, including the crucial dismissal of Zadran, quickly leaving Afghanistan three down. The 18th over also favoured Australia, with Pat Cummins conceding just four runs and taking the wicket of Rashid Khan.

After achieving an unlikely hat-trick against Bangladesh, Cummins pulled off a second consecutive hat-trick after dismissing Karim Janat and Gulbadin in the 19th over finishing with figures of 3-28.

The Aussies dropped several catches and leaked runs, making their defense costly and leaving much work for their batting. In a fierce battle, Afghanistan posted a par score of 148/6 in 20 overs, reports ICC.

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Chasing 149, Australia suffered an early blow with Naveen dismissing opener Travis Head on the third delivery. He then did it again in his second over, removing Mitchell Marsh with a slower ball, piling pressure on Australia. Then, Glenn Maxwell came to the crease and hit two calming boundaries in the fifth over, but David Warner’s wicket gave Afghanistan the upper hand. By the end of the Powerplay, Australia was struggling at 33/3.

Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis pushed Australia to 70/3 halfway through the innings. Stoinis fell for 11 off 17 just after drinks, followed by Tim David (2 off 4) also departing cheaply. However, Maxwell’s six in the 13th over brought up his fifty off 35 balls.

Just as Afghanistan lost marginal hope, Gulbadin stepped up to the plate and tempted Maxwell into one outside the off stump, which was superbly snatched by Noor Ahmad behind point. It was all on the hat-trick hero Cummins as Wade’s dismissal left Australia at 108/7, requiring 41 runs off 29 balls.

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However, Cummins couldn’t replicate his form, missing the ball and putting Australia in a tougher position with three overs remaining and needing 36 runs.

Afghanistan’s exceptional fielding turned every opportunity into a wicket, making a crucial impact. Zampa’s dismissal marked Australia’s all-out for 127, falling 22 runs short of victory. This historic win marked Afghanistan’s first-ever triumph over Australia, a memorable moment for the team.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 148/6 in 20 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 60, Ibrahim Zadran 51; Pat Cummins 3/-28) beat Australia 127 in 19.2 overs (Glenn Maxwell 59; Gulbadin Naib 4-19) by 21 runs.

-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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England will miss Anderson, it's difficult to replace his rare skill: Ian Chappell

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes England are going to miss James Anderson in Test cricket, citing the difficulty to replace his rare skills of swinging the ball.

Anderson finished his 21-year Test career for England as the third-most successful bowler in the longest format with 704 wickets at an average of 26.45 in 188 matches, when the hosts’ thrashed the West Indies by an innings and 114 runs at Lord’s earlier this week.

“Jimmy Anderson retired as the greatest swing bowler the game has seen. There have been many other fine swing bowlers but none have plied their skill for such a long period at the highest level.

“Anderson had that rare ability to swing the ball both ways with very little change to his action. Where other good bowlers gave the batter a clue with their change of arm slot, Anderson was able to produce swing both ways minus the early warning signal.

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“This is a remarkable skill and it made Anderson an extremely tough opponent. England will miss Anderson as it’s difficult to replace his rare skill. Importantly, though, Anderson’s career is now a celebrated one where he’s recognised as the best swing bowler the game has produced,” wrote Chappell in his column for ESPNCricinfo on Sunday.

He also went on to laud Anderson for his hardwork in terms of maintaining his longevity and not wandering from his testing lines and lengths in Test cricket. “Twenty-one years at the top is a tribute to his fitness, skill and ability to learn. There was also his desire to keep playing when big life changes, like having a wife and kids, could easily have surpassed the priority of Test cricket.

“His subtle skills became more obvious as he continued to run in with the same smooth rhythm and produce a probing delivery on a testing line. He continued to do so no matter whether he was bowling to a right- or left-handed batter. That was another skill that set him apart from many swing bowlers – it made little difference what type of batter he was facing.”

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Chappell signed off by praising Anderson for maintaining his patience despite getting no rewards in his stern bowling spells, a factor which he thinks was crucial in the pacer’s success.

“The tributes for Anderson have been many, touching not just on his undoubted bowling skill but also his grumpiness, the changes of hairdo and his stubbornness with the bat. It’s not surprising that he was occasionally grumpy, which resulted in the odd terse comment.

“Most people’s patience would be severely tested if they regularly charged in to bowl only to beat the bat and receive no reward. Despite the occasional outburst Anderson retained his patience, which was partly responsible for his amazing success.

“As retirement loomed, the thing that stood out most in Anderson’s often reluctant comments was his desire to win. This was a crucial motivating factor in his success.”

–IANS

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'Pleasure for everyone if final concludes peacefully', Argentina coach ahead of Copa America final

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Florida, July 14 (IANS) Ahead of the Copa America final against Colombia, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni hopes for a peaceful match at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Monday (as per IST).

Scaloni’s comments came at the heels of the clashes that erupted between Uruguayan players and Colombia supporters after the former’s 1-0 loss in the semifinal match in North Carolina.

“I hope the fans can enjoy themselves, I sincerely wish for that. Besides the joy of winning the title, it would be a pleasure for everyone if the final concludes peacefully,” Scaloni said during a press conference on Saturday.

Scaloni showed compassion in response to the incident between Uruguayan players, recognising the anguish that results when family members find themselves in such circumstances.

“We expect players to set a positive example, but in such circumstances, reactions can be difficult to predict. I hope incidents like these are not repeated. Witnessing your loved ones amidst such chaos must be deeply distressing,” he remarked.

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Speaking on forward Angel Di Maria’s farewell match for Argentina, Scaloni remains committed to the goal of winning the trophy over individual accolades.

“Even though it may be his final match, our primary consideration remains the team’s needs. Whether he plays or not will be decided accordingly,” Scaloni expressed.

Argentina sealed the final berth after defeating Canada 2-0 in the semi-final. Argentina hope to build on their previous finals success, having won the Copa America in 2021, the Intercontinental Cup in 2022 against Italy, the European champions, and the World Cup in Qatar against France.

“Every final has its own unique challenges. We will approach it with determination to win. Every team understands the significance and pressure that comes with a final,” Scaloni concluded.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Luis de la Fuente claims Spain are not 'favourites' heading into finals

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Berlin, July 14 (IANS) The joint-record winners of the European Championship, Spain will be taking on England in a blockbuster final of the Euro 2024 at the Olympiastadion Berlin on Monday (as per IST).

Ahead of the highly-awaited encounter, many believe that the Spaniards are the favourites given the ruthlessness they have shown throughout the tournament but head coach Luis de la Fuente has stated that ‘there are no favourites’ in the matchup.

“There are no favourites. It’s an even match-up, just as our previous knockout games were. If we are not above the level we displayed in those games, we won’t have a chance of winning — and the same if we make mistakes,” said de la Fuente in the pre-game conference.

Spain have been one of the best teams at the tournament, they are playing with a fun, free-flowing identity, raising their game to a level which we are accustomed to seeing the La Roja perform at.

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They have scored 13 goals so far in the Euro 2024, the highest by any team in the tournament whilst only conceding three goals which has seen them remain the only team that has won all their games so far.

“It’s fantastic to be here and we are excited to be in the final. It’s one of the biggest sporting achievements there is. We are relaxed and looking forward to playing. Sunday will be a complicated game against a great team, between the best two teams [in the tournament], that’s why we are in the final,” he added.

Out of the two finalists, Spain have definitely had the harder road to Berlin. The side defeated Georgia 4-1 in the Round of 16 which set their clashes against Germany in the quarterfinal (2-1) before a 2-1 victory over France in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“These matches, which are so even, are often decided by the finer details. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the best chance of winning,” concluded the Spanish head coach.

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–IANS

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