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T20 World Cup: England have to adapt to playing on slower pitches, says Nasser Hussain

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Gros Islet (St Lucia), June 22 (IANS) Former captain Nasser Hussain believes defending champions England need to address issues in adapting to playing on slower pitches after losing to South Africa by seven runs in their second Super Eight stage game of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024.

At the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium on Friday, England did well in restricting South Africa to 163/6. But in their chase, England struggled to get going against South Africa’s slower balls and were reduced to 61/4.

Harry Brook played a calculated 53 and shared a sensational 78-run partnership off 42 balls for the fifth wicket with Liam Livingstone, who smashed a 17-ball 33, as the duo capitalised on South Africa’s bowlers’ bowling pace-on deliveries.

England needed 25 runs from 18 balls to win the match, but South Africa corrected their mistakes and gave away only 17 runs in the last three overs to seal a thrilling win and be now on top of Group 2.

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“No batter likes it when the ball stops in the pitch a bit, but my one concern about England is that their players really like facing balls with pace on as we saw against West Indies earlier in the week.”

“This was not a minefield, just a slower pitch and if you look at where England have played their best cricket in this tournament, it has been Antigua when there was pace and bounce and here in St Lucia when there was pace and bounce against the West Indies.”

“If Jos Buttler’s team defeats the United States on Sunday to get into the semifinals, they could end up facing India in Guyana, for example, and they will need to address how to play on the kind of surface they were dealt here.”

“Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone showed they can cope with coming in during the middle overs and put the foot down straightaway, but despite England playing good cricket, they failed to get over the line,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail.

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Hussain also applauded South Africa’s wicketkeeper-opener Quinton de Kock for smashing 49 runs off 20 balls in the power-play, which included him hitting relentless boundaries off Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, and Sam Curran. His blitz ensured South Africa’s power-play score was 63/0, which bettered England’s 41/2.

“It was a case of de Kock winning the matchups at the start of the game. It was no surprise that England started with the off-spin of Moeen Ali, a bowler who has dismissed him six times in T20s. But the other match-up was in de Kock’s favour because he loves batting against Jofra Archer.”

“It’s the natural line and length of Archer that the South African left-hander enjoys facing so much — delivering from close to the stumps and hitting the back of a length. We have seen it in South Africa previously that de Kock just loves picking him off on the leg-side and that over that cost 21 runs was decisive.”

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“South Africa have had some close games and keep managing to, which is actually the opposite of what they normally do in World Cups. They tend to blast people away in tournament cricket at the start, then get some close games in a knockout situation and come unstuck. It could be a good sign for them,” he concluded.

–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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