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USA sack head coach Gregg Berhalter after Copa America exit

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Washington, July 11 (IANS) The USA have sacked head coach Gregg Berhalter following their Copa America group-stage exit.

The 50-year-old rejoined the men’s national football team in 2023 for a second spell, having led USA to the last-16 of the 2022 World Cup, but defeats to Panama and Uruguay on home soil have brought an end to 14-match tenure.

“Gregg Berhalter has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, effective immediately,” US Soccer Federation said in a statement.

U.S. Soccer Sporting Director Matt Crocker will lead and has launched a search for Berhalter’s replacement.

“We are deeply grateful to Gregg for his commitment the past five years to the Men’s National Team and to U.S. Soccer. Gregg has earned the respect of everyone within our organization and has played a pivotal role in bringing together a young team and moving the program forward. We wish Gregg all the best in his future endeavors, and we know he will find success in his next coaching position,” said Crocker.

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Berhalter compiled a 44 wins, 17 losses and 13 draws record in 74 matches as USMNT head coach and 29 wins, 9 losses and 7 draws record in official competitions during his tenure, leading the USMNT to a successful 2022 World Cup qualification campaign.

“Our immediate focus is on finding a coach who can maximize our potential as we continue to prepare for the 2026 World Cup, and we have already begun our search process,” Crocker added.

Berhalte’s first stint as head coach ended in 2022 with an investigation into his past conduct. He was four years into the role when he admitted kicking his wife when they were teenagers.

In 2022, he became the first former national team player to coach the US at a World Cup, leading the youngest team on the field in the tournament to a second-place finish in Group B with five points after draws against Wales and England and a win against Iran, before falling to the Netherlands in the Round of 16.

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Under his guidance, the USMNT won the 2021 Gold Cup and two Concacaf Nations League titles.

–IANS

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LPL 2024: Gurbaz, Shadab star as Colombo Strikers cruise to 9-wicket win over Jaffna Kings

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Colombo, July 14 (IANS) The Colombo Strikers returned to winning ways with an emphatic 9-wicket victory over the Jaffna Kings in the ongoing Lanka Premier League 2024 at the R Premadasa Stadium, here on Sunday.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Shadab Khan starred in the comprehensive victory for the Strikers, who chased down a below-par target of 110 in just 9.5 overs. This win keeps the Thisara Perera-led side in third place on the points table with three wins from six games.

Chasing the modest target, opener Angelo Perera set the tone with a quick 16 off 8 balls before being dismissed early. His opening partner, Gurbaz, along with Muhammad Waseem, kept the scoring rate high despite some rain interruptions. By the end of the powerplay, the Strikers were cruising at 66/1, with Gurbaz in dominant form.

The unbeaten partnership between Gurbaz and Waseem of 87 runs from just 45 balls ensured that the Strikers reached their target inside 10 overs, significantly boosting their net run rate.

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Gurbaz, the explosive Afghan batter, remained unbeaten on 57 off 33 balls, hitting four sixes and four boundaries. He completed his fifty in just 30 deliveries, and with support from Waseem (35 off 18 balls, including 2 fours and 3 sixes), the Strikers finished the game (112/1 in 9.5 overs) with 61 balls to spare.

Earlier, Colombo Strikers’ bowlers put on a clinical performance, restricting the Jaffna Kings to 109 for 9 in their 20 overs. The decision to bowl first paid off as the Strikers’ bowlers kept a tight leash on the Jaffna batters. Binura Fernando and Shadab Khan were the standout performers, with Fernando finishing with figures of 2 for 24.

Shadab Khan delivered a brilliant spell, taking 4 for 10 from his four overs. The Pakistani all-rounder, who already has a hat-trick in this edition, nearly claimed another, dismissing Avishka Fernando and Fabian Allen off consecutive balls in the 9th over, narrowly missing his second hat-trick as batter Vijayakanth Viyaskanth found himself lucky.

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Shadab’s performance in the middle overs was instrumental in dismantling the Jaffna Kings’ middle-order. Matheesha Pathirana, Thishara Perera, and Isitha Wijesundera also chipped in with one wicket each, maintaining pressure throughout the innings. The disciplined bowling performance from the Strikers ensured the Jaffna Kings were restricted to a below-par score.

Jaffna Kings struggled to establish a solid footing in their innings. Opener Pathum Nissanka managed just 3 runs off 3 balls before being dismissed by Binura Fernando. Kusal Mendis offered some resistance with a brisk 17 off 11 balls, but contributions from other top-order batsmen were minimal. Key players like Rilee Rossouw (0), Avishka Fernando (11 off 15), and captain Charith Asalanka (13 off 12) failed to build significant partnerships.

In the middle and lower order, Viyaskanth provided some resistance with an unbeaten 25 off 24 balls, but he lacked support from his teammates. The Kings’ innings never gained momentum, finishing at 109 for 9, setting up a manageable chase for the Colombo Strikers, who executed their plan to perfection and secured a commanding victory.

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Brief Score:

Jaffna Kings 109/9 in 20 overs (Vijayakanth Viyaskanth 25, Kusal Mendis 17; Shadab Khan 4-10, Binura Fernando 2-24) lost to Colombo Strikers 112/1 in 9.5 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 57, Muhammad Waseem 35; Pramod Madushan 1/26) by 9 wickets.

–IANS

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Bhavtegh shoots near perfect to surge into contention at Porpetto Junior Shotgun World Cup

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New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Bhavtegh Singh Gill had a near perfect first day of qualification in the men’s skeet event at the on-going International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Porpetto, Italy, shooting down 74 of the first 75 targets to end the day in sole third spot in a 68-strong field.

They all come back on Monday to complete the two final qualification rounds before the top six head into the final.

India have so far picked one one bronze in the competition, courtesy Sabeera Haris in the women’s trap.

Two Americans Benjamin Keller and Jordan Sapp were leading the junior men’s skeet at this stage with perfect scores of 75 each. Bhavtegh’s only miss was in the first round. His compatriots Zoravar Bedi (69) and Munek Battula (66) were further down the standings in 25th and 47th spots respectively.

Vanshika Tiwari was the best Indian on show in women’s skeet, shooting a score of 67 to occupy 14th spot to stay in contention. Sanjana Sood shot 66 to take 19th while Zahra Deesawala’s 60 gave her 39th position in the standings.

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–IANS

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Alcaraz defends Wimbledon title with stunning victory over Djokovic

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London, July 14 (IANS) Carlos Alcaraz successfully defended his Wimbledon title, defeating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to claim his fourth Grand Slam crown.

The 21-year-old Spaniard showcased his extraordinary talent and resilience, emerging victorious with a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4) triumph at the iconic All England Club.

This victory marks Alcaraz’s back-to-back Grand Slam success, following his French Open win last month. At just 21, Alcaraz now joins Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Djokovic in winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

The highly anticipated match was a rematch of last year’s marathon men’s singles final, where Alcaraz had narrowly edged out Djokovic in a thrilling five-set battle. This time, however, Alcaraz was in control from the outset. He dominated the first game and never looked back, delivering a performance for the ages against the seasoned Serbian.

Alcaraz’s brilliance was evident as he broke Djokovic’s serve twice in both the first and second sets. His consistency and precision were key, enabling him to maintain the upper hand throughout the match. The Spaniard’s performance was a masterclass in tennis, marked by a series of classy winners and delightful touches at the net. His serve was impeccable, and his ability to stay composed under pressure was unparalleled.

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The third set brought late drama as Alcaraz let three match points slip away while serving at 40-0. Djokovic seized the opportunity to revive his hopes, pushing the set into a tense tie-breaker. However, Alcaraz, undeterred by the lapse, regained his focus and clinched the match in style. His two-hour, 27-minute victory made him just the second man in the Open Era to win his first four Grand Slam finals, following in the footsteps of Roger Federer, who won his first seven.

Djokovic, who had undergone knee surgery in early June, made a remarkable comeback to reach his record-extending 37th major final at Wimbledon. Despite his efforts, he was unable to match the intensity and consistency of the inspired Alcaraz. The Serbian’s performance, though valiant, lacked the energy he is known for, and he struggled to find his rhythm against the relentless Spaniard.

–IANS

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5th T20I: Never thought we will debut together, says Abhishek Sharma on debuting alongside Riyan Parag

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) Abhishek Sharma and Riyan Parag have been together since U19 days and even went on to win the 2018 U19 World Cup trophy as members of the Indian team. Six years later, paths of Abhishek and Riyan crossed again in Indian colours when the duo got to make their senior India men’s T20I debuts on tour of Zimbabwe.

After India won fifth and final T20I by 42 runs to win series 4-1, Abhishek told broadcasters how he never imagined he would make his international debut alongside Riyan. “Last few games it was pretty good for bowling and as Riyan said after the 1st game we all woke up.”

“Positive was the next match was next day so we did not think have time to think too much. We were talking about this in the IPL, if we get our caps it will be a dream come true. We never thought we will debut together. We spoke about it long back and it happened,” said Abhishek.

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Riyan, too, echoed in same vein. “Feels great. After the 1st game everyone woke up and we were clinical after that. Really proud of the boys and enjoyed it to the max. We (him and Abhishek) opened our jerseys together.”

“I went to his room, he opened it first and then I did. We played the 2018 World Cup together and next 6 years we did not play, now we are playing. Doing it with him was pretty special.”

In the series, Abhishek made a good impression with a 47-ball century and even picked some wickets with his left-arm spin bowling. “Special mention to Shubman (Gill) and coaches for trusting in my bowling after the first two games, where I did not bowl well also.”

“I’m working hard on my bowling and it’s good to have the backing from the management. We all saw (World Championship of Legends final) and it is always special when you play Pakistan and even more so when it’s a final, congrats to my mentor (Yuvraj Singh).”

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Riyan was involved in a crucial 65-run stand off 56 balls for the fourth wicket with vice-captain Sanju Samson, who made a 45-ball 58 on Sunday. “I had a chat with Sanju bhaiyya and spoke that now we had to build a RR (Rajasthan Royals) partnership. Once we had wickets in the end, we could go like hell and it was a tricky wicket, glad we could do well.”

He signed off by saying playing under Shubman Gill’s leadership was fun for him. “It has been fun, we have played age group together, under-16. He has been like a captain even when he was not captain. In the field he has been exceptional.”

–IANS

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5th T20I: Zimbabwe gotta rectify problems at the top; attitude is a grey area, says Sikandar Raza

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Harare, July 14 (IANS) After losing T20I series to India 4-1, Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza said the side have to rectify their problems at the top of the order with the bat, adding that attitude on the field is also a grey area for them to work on in future. Zimbabwe won the opening match by 13 runs, but let go of the early advantage to lose the series.

[8:52 PM, 7/14/2024] Niharika Ians: “I thought Blessing (Muzarabani) bowled well the whole series. Batting-wise, we are still below-par, but we are starting to rectify the problems at the top. You are going to have bad games here and there. The grey area for me will remain our attitude in the field, we are still making a lot of mistakes, that’s controllable, we are going to keep working hard and hopefully keep getting better,” said Raza after the match ended.

In Sunday’s game, Muzarabani and Ngarava were the bright spots with the ball, something which pleased Raza. “It was unfortunate that Richie (Ngarava) wasn’t fit at the start of the series. Had he been declared fit, he was gonna play all the games. To have him fit is certainly a blessing because we all know his quality. To have Richie and Blessing … every time I was in trouble I looked up to them and they did the job for the team, really happy for those two boys.”

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Zimbabwe are now slated to play one-off Test match against Ireland later this month, but Raza may not be a part of it, citing lack of his match practice in red-ball cricket. “My workload needs to be managed. I haven’t played any four-day cricket in the last two years post my surgeries. My shoulder isn’t 100%, I don’t want to be a guy who just gets a jersey.”

“I need to go back, respect my domestic cricket and also respect my domestic cricketers who have put a lot of runs. I will go back to play domestic cricket and test my own fitness. I am still available for Test match cricket but at this point of time, I am not because I haven’t played a lot of four-day cricket. I’ll leave for Manchester for The Hundred in a few days time, I am looking forward to that,” he concluded.

–IANS

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