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T20 World Cup: 'Pakistan didn't play well in all three departments', says Babar after shock loss to USA

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Dallas, June 7 (IANS) Following Pakistan’s shock loss to the co-hosts USA in the Super Over in their opening match of the T20 World Cup on Thursday, captain Babar Azam admitted that his team did not perform optimally in all three departments of the game.

Pakistan struggled early, losing three wickets to stand at 30 for 3 by the end of the powerplay. Babar Azam and Shadab Khan then stabilized the innings with a 72-run partnership off 48 balls. Despite their efforts the USA restricted Pakistan to 159/7, then matched the score and went on to win in the Super Over to create a major upset.

According to Babar, Pakistan were off the mark in the Powerplay, slow through the middle overs and disappointing at the death with the bat. Then with the ball they didn’t execute early plans with pace on, and failed to take wickets with spin through the middle overs.

“To be honest, whenever you lose a game, you are always upset. We did not play well in all three departments. For six overs, I think we did not capitalise properly, but later on, after the 10th over we got momentum, but again we lost too many wickets and then your momentum is gone. So, I think as a batting unit we need to step it up in the middle and in the end,” Babar said after the match.

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Babar top-scored with 44 from 43 balls on the day, helping his side rebuild after a loss of three wickets in the Powerplay. He admitted that losing back-to-back wickets was the turning point of the game.

“The first six overs, the ball was holding and was swinging. But later on, I didn’t feel it was a different wicket. It settled down a bit. Because of the early start – the matches are starting at 10.30 am – the fast bowlers will get a little help. There was some juice in the pitch early morning. So, they utilised that and executed their plan. It was difficult in the beginning, but we covered it.

“I think when we lost the wickets back-to-back, that was the turning point. But as a professional, you have to step up against such a team in the batting… in the middle order. This condition is not an excuse…they played well, but I think we played badly,” he added.

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The USA struck a boundary off the final ball of the regular overs to take the match to a Super Over, where Mohammad Amir leaked 18 runs, with wides and a string of overthrows seeing Pakistan concede a number of needless extras.

The Pakistan captain credited USA’s batters Aaron Jones and Harmeet Singh for their aggressive running between the wickets. “He (Amir) is an experienced bowler, he knows how to bowl and we are just trying to field the ball. But I think the US batsmen were a bit smart, when the ball was coming to the keeper he was running. So, I think that was a plus point for the batters in the Super Over.”

Pakistan will next play arch-rivals India in New York on Sunday. And Babar said that the death-over strategy with the ball for that crunch match will not change despite their loss against USA.

“The plan is simple: We try to hit yorkers and we are not changing any plans because the ball is reversing and our bowlers are very accurate, so our play will not be any different,” he concluded.

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–IANS

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Tennis: Former champion Barty to play Wimbledon invitation doubles

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London, June 20 (IANS) Former World No.1 Ashleigh Barty will return to Wimbledon this year in the legends’ invitation doubles draw, partnering fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua. Australian player Barty, who won three Grand Slam singles titles before retiring from tennis, will be reliving her success in doubles by playing in this event. “I can announce the band’s back together, ABCD,” Dellacqua told The AO Show Weekly on Thursday.

Barty, the 2021 Wimbledon champion, retired from professional tennis in March 2022 after winning her third major at the Australian Open. Last July, she gave birth to her first son, Hayden.

Between 2013 and 2017, Barty and Dellacqua won five WTA Tour doubles titles together, as well as reaching four Grand Slam finals — including Wimbledon 2013, where they lost the final to Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai. Dellacqua, 39, retired from the sport in 2018 and currently works as a commentator.

That’s another role Barty will be taking on this year. The 28-year-old will also be joining the BBC’s commentary team during Wimbledon.

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Main draw action at Wimbledon begins on July 1, with the invitation events starting on July 9.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Gourmet Musiala is serving football delicacies as Germany reach Round of 16 stage

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Berlin (Germany), June 20 (IANS) Jamal Musiala’s culinary preferences seem to entertain the entire country of the 2024 UEFA Euro tournament hosts. Social media channels seem packed with video clips showing the 21-year-old England-bred and Bayern Munich forward enjoying so-called “Maultaschen” (filled pasta cases), a Swabian specialty.

“I just love them and minutes ago had the first. There are more to follow later,” the gifted youngster said only minutes after his team’s 2-0 victory over Hungary in Germany’s second Group A encounter, which secured the team’s last-16 participation.

Despite having spent most of his youth and football education in England with Chelsea (2001-2019), Musiala was born in Stuttgart, the capital of the region called Swabia which seems to have affected his preferences, reports Xinhua.

Tens of thousands of fans give out likes for Germany’s tournament surprise after watching the footballer enjoy his favourite dish. Only football seems to similarly affect the youngsters’ mood as the 30-time capped is causing excitement with his on-pitch performance throughout Europe.

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While English media talk about his transformation from a rookie nicknamed “Bambi” to a terminator, the Daily Mail asks “What poor soul allowed Musiala to play for Germany?” after he was part of the Three Lions under-21 side owning both nationalities. In January 2021 it was on former German coach Joachim Loew to convince the attacker to join team Germany and “outline to me my way in the German team.”

Claiming to have grown out of the state of a start-up “as I have gained physical strength,” the attacker is enjoying the “on-pitch freedom” given by German coach Julian Nagelsmann. “I told him to ignore the pressure and fully focus on his joy playing football as if he was performing in a school backyard,” the 36-year-old said.

Nagelsmann called Musiala “tough to defend” while the youngster in the German shirt is entertaining the crowd with his irresistible dribbling as he also scored twice in the tournament’s first two games.

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“Uff, what is there to say: He is a genius,” German captain and Barcelona midfielder Ilkay Gundogan quoted, calling Musiala’s performance and development “breathtaking.”

While being selected as the “UEFA Player of the Match” in Germany’s curtain raiser against Scotland (5-1), it was on Gundogan to take the crown due to his convincing performance against Hungary (2-0). It might be based on the youth of Musiala, that the Bayern youngster is dominating the headlines on the European continent as international media praise his exceptional talent.

“It’s our goal to take this flow into the next games. As for me, I meanwhile have the confidence to score goals as soon as I get the chance to do so,” Germany’s rising star said.

Being substituted off in the 72nd minute, enthusiastic applause dropped on the forward like a warm summer rain giving proof of him having gained the hearts of the German fans by storm.

–IANS

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ATP Tour: Jack Draper stuns defending champion Alcaraz at Queen's Club to reach quarters

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London, June 20 (IANS) British player Jack Draper earned the biggest win of his career Thursday in the Queen’s Club Championships, stunning top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets and reaching the quarterfinals here. Draper won 7-6(3), 6-3 against Alcaraz, who recently won his third French Open title at Stade Roland Garros in Paris.

Both men entered the match on winning streaks. Alcaraz had won eight consecutive matches thanks to his victory in the French Open in Paris, but Draper snapped that streak by claiming his seventh straight win after earning his first ATP Tour title last week in Stuttgart.

Draper, the big-serving lefty, thrilled his home fans with a dominant serving performance in which he did not lose a service game. The No. 31 player in the ATP Rankings made good use of his wide serve on both courts to win 76 percent of his service points according to Infosys ATP Stats and triumphed in one hour and 39 minutes.

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There was not much to differentiate the players in the first set when neither man earned a breakpoint. But Draper made a quick start to the tie-break when Alcaraz missed a forehand long, and the Briton never relinquished his advantage, closing out the set with a curling wide serve in the Ad court.

Alcaraz enjoyed his typical highlight reel moments in the match, including a point during which he guessed right on an attempted Draper putaway and laced a passing shot into the open court. But for the most part, the Spaniard was not able to dominate play as much as he usually does.

Instead, it was Draper who rallied the crowd to his side, crushing a backhand return winner to break for 4-2 in the second set. That proved the lone service break of the match.

Having lost his first two tour-level meetings against reigning Wimbledon champion Alcaraz, Draper let slip his first three match points on return at 5-3. But in the next game, the lefty rallied from 0/30 to close out his third Top 10 win (3-11) and his first victory against the elite group since the 2022 US Open, where he ousted then-World No. 8 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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By ending Alcaraz’s grass-court winning streak at 13, Draper climbed to a career-high No. 28 in the ATP Live Rankings.

Draper will next play fifth seed Tommy Paul, who eliminated Alejandro Tabilo 6-3, 6-4. Draper leads Paul 3-1 in their ATP head-to-head series, including a 2-1 record this year. The Briton emerged victorious in Adelaide and Acapulco, while Paul won in four sets at the Australian Open.

–IANS

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Euro 2024: Jovic's last-gasp goal helps Serbia hold Slovenia to draw, recover from defeat to England

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Munich, June 20 (IANS) Luka Jovic scored a stoppage-time equalizer as Serbia salvaged a draw against Slovenia in an entertaining Group C clash in the UEFA Euro 2024 in Munich on Thursday. Jovic scored a last-gasp equalizer in the fifth minute of the second half added time for a 1-1 draw that salvaged a point for Serbia. Serbia had lost their opening match to England on June 17 and with this draw opened their account in Euro 2024.

Unchanged from the 1-1 draw with Denmark, Slovenia registered the game’s first chance when Adam Gnezda Cerin shot straight at Predrag Rajkovic from just outside the area. The Serbia goalkeeper was called into action again soon after, blocking Jan Mlakar’s low effort after the Slovenia wide man had broken clear inside the box.

Dragan Stojkovic’s side improved as the first half progressed, Dusan Vlahovic flicking a header straight at keeper Jan Oblak before Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to make proper contact with a teasing ball towards the far post.

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However, Serbia were fortunate not to fall behind late in the half when Timi Elsnik sent a fierce strike against the post, with Benjamin Sesko directing the rebound high over the bar. Oblak produced a fine save at the feet of Mitrovic moments later as the teams went into half-time on level terms.

Mitrovic was denied by another superb Oblak stop within minutes of the restart as Serbia began the second period on the front foot. Slovenia remained a threat on the counterattack, though, and Rajkovic pulled a leaf out of Oblak’s book with a diving save to tip a curling Sesko drive over the woodwork.

The deadlock was finally broken after the hour mark. Karnicnik regained possession deep inside his own half before laying the ball off to Elsnik, whose low cross was slotted home at the far post by the Slovenia right-back.

The 29-year-old was also in the right place at the right time moments later to deflect Mitrovic’s shot onto the bar. Yet there was little that he or his team-mates could do about Jovic’s thumping header past Oblak from a last-gasp Ivan Ilic corner, which denied Matjaz Kek’s men a valuable three points.

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–IANS

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T20 World Cup: Suryakumar Yadav top-scores with 53 as India post 181/8 against Afghanistan

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Bridgetown, June 20 (IANS) Top-ranked batter Suryakumar Yadav combined attacking shots with immaculate timing to make an impressive 53 off 28 balls as India posted a competitive 181/8 in 20 overs against Afghanistan in the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup Super Eight match at the Kensington Oval here on Thursday.

With the pitch being damp and slow, Suryakumar hit five fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 189 and was mighty effective with his sweep shots to put Afghanistan under pressure.

His 60-run stand with Hardik Pandya (32) and a late cameo of 12 from Axar Patel helped India raise the tempo as 56 runs came in the last five overs. Captain Rashid Khan and left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi took three wickets each for Afghanistan.

With the ball holding onto the pitch, it meant the deliveries weren’t coming nicely on to the bat. Rohit Sharma was kept quiet by Farooqi despite getting a streaky four off him. He also survived an lbw appeal off Farooqi on review, as replays showed that the ball had pitched outside leg-stump.

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Farooqi struck in the third over when Rohit tried to take on his off-cutter holding off the pitch, but miscued off the toe-end to mid-on. Rishabh Pant took the attack to Afghanistan by stylishly flicking Farooqi for four, followed by reverse-sweeping, slog-sweeping (dropped by Naveen-ul-Haq on 11) and driving through cover to take three fours off Mohammed Nabi in the final over of Power-play, which yielded 13 runs.

But in an attempt to reverse-sweep against Rashid, Pant, he was beaten by the leg-break delivery and was trapped plumb lbw, with the review showing it would have hit the stumps. Rashid struck again in his next over by having Virat Kohli loft straight to long-off.

Suryakumar kept India going with his variety of sweeps fetching him three boundaries, even as Rashid trapped Shivam Dube lbw with a quicker leg-break which went past his attempted jab, with the review showing it hit flap of pad first in front of off-stump.

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Suryakumar left everyone in awe by moving across and whipping a low full toss from Azmatullah Omarzai for four, followed by driving him through mid-off for another boundary. With Pandya timing his drives for boundaries, Suryakumar proceeded to smack a drive from Omarzai down the ground for six.

Pandya tore into Noor Ahmad by going inside-out beautifully over extra cover for four, followed by smashing a six straight down the ground. Suryakumar smacked Farooqi high over long-on for six and flicked a four through mid-wicket to get his fifty in 27 balls before the batter holed out to long-off.

Pandya smacked Naveen for a 98-m six clubbed over the terrace of the stadium, before holing out to deep point off the pacer. India’s plans for a big finish were given another big dent when Ravindra Jadeja uppercut to short third man and become Farooqi’s third scalp. Axar picked his gaps well to take two boundaries off Naveen and take India past 180.

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Brief scores:

India 181/8 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 53, Hardik Pandya 32; Rashid Khan 3-26, Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-33) against Afghanistan

–IANS

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