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World Cup Qualifiers: India held 0-0 by Kuwait as Sunil Chhetri bids farewell to national team

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Kolkata, June 6 (IANS) India and Kuwait battled it all out for ninety minutes but the game ended goalless, handing a major setback to the home in their hopes to qualify for the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Thursday. The team will faces an uphill task of beating Qatar in a must-win final game in a few days.

With this being the final match of the iconic skipper, the crowd showed up in numbers as 58,291 was the official attendance at the Salt Lake Stadium.

The first half saw both teams share equal possession, but it was Kuwait who had created the better chances but a great job between the sticks by Gurpreet Singh saw the team remain level. India had a nervy start to the game with a few misplaced possessions but slowly grew into their passes and gained rhythm but were unable to create any significant chances.

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Igor Stimac decided to change things up as he brought on Brandon Fernandes and Rahim Ali after the first half in place of Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad. Ali almost became the hero minutes after being introduced as he was through on goal but a good save by Sulmain Abdulghafoor denied the number 20.

Controversy brewed in the 75th minute when Anwar Ali brought down Alsumaini in the box but a penalty was not awarded to Kuwait. It was a solid debut by 22-year-old Jay Gupta who was solid at the left-back position keeping the tricky Eid Alrashidi in check for most of the game.

Edmund Lalrindika became the first I-League player to make his national team debut under Stimac when he was subbed on for Jay Gupta showcasing the attacking intent of the team but his debut was overshadowed by a fight that broke out between him and Sami Alsanea which saw both players get a yellow card.

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Chhetri took his time following the full-time whistle and thanked the fans for their tremendous support.

The Indian national team stood and clapped for one of the finest players to play for the Blue Tigers as the 39-year-old lapped the stadium, taking in the feeling one last time and was given a guard of honour, which saw the skipper cry.

India will now face Qatar on June 11 in their final game of the second round of qualifiers.

— IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Putting pressure on opposition matters in T20s', says Rohit

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North Sound (Antigua), June 23 (IANS) After securing a 50-run win over Bangladesh in their second Super Eight game of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, India skipper Rohit Sharma said his side’s batting approach of going hard from the word go and putting pressure on the opposition is what matters the most now.

On a fresh pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, India dominated from the word go with immaculate ease, as every batter looked to attack, resulting in four batters having strike-rate above 150, as they posted a commanding 196/5.

Vice-captain Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 27-ball fifty was laced with four fours and three sixes, which was key in India amassing 62 runs off the last five overs. Virat Kohli made a solid 37, while Rishabh Pant smashed an entertaining 36 and Shivam Dube overcame his struggles to hit 34, with Rohit himself making a quick 23.

The attacking strategy worked well as India also posted the highest T20I score at the venue. They also hit 13 sixes – the most number of maximums they have hit in a T20 World Cup game, as Bangladesh struggled to contain them for prolonged periods in the match.

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“Look, all eight batters need to play their role, whatever it is. We saw only one guy get a fifty, but we still got 198 (196). In T20s, I don’t believe you need to get fifties and hundreds. How you can put pressure on the opposition is what matters.”

“All the batters were trying to do that from the word go. That’s how we want to play and encourage ourselves to go forward. Yes, you need to understand the conditions as well, but we have a lot of experience in the squad, and we back them to use that experience on the field,” said Rohit after the match ended.

For India to secure their qualification for the semi-finals, they simply need to beat Australia at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia on Monday or avoid a huge defeat to save their net run rate from suffering a big dent.

“I’ve been talking about that for a long time. It’s just about going there and putting it to work knowing what is expected out of us, what we need to do and how we need to play. Considering everything, we played really well.”

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“We adapted to the conditions. There are factors (like the wind) you need to take into account and be smart on how to choose those options. We were smart with the bat, and with the ball. Overall it was a great effort,” added Rohit.

He also spoke about how Pandya’s vintage knock and his 53-run stand with Dube helped India get out of a troubled phase against Bangladesh. “I mentioned in the last game that his partnership with Surya (was crucial against Afghanistan). Him batting well the way he did puts us in a very good state.”

“We want to finish off innings really well after the top five-six set the platform to finish the game. Hardik being Hardik, we know what he’s capable of. This was a perfect example of what he can do with the bat. He’s a very important player for us. If he can keep doing that, we will be in good positions,” concluded Rohit.

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–IANS

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'I have no intentions of getting into coaching', says Abhinav Bindra

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New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) India’s 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra believes that the Indian shooting contingent have the “potential to secure multiple medals” at the Paris Olympics, scheduled to kickstart from July 26.

Speaking exclusively to IANS, he further added that the depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense. Asked if he has any plans to take over the coaching role in the near future, Bindra said “no”.

The former Indian shooter also explained about the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation, designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the 2024 Games.

Below are excerpts from the interview:

IANS: Paris Games are just a month away, how many medals do you think India can win in shooting? Since Tokyo was empty!

AB: Predicting the exact number of medals is challenging, but I am optimistic about our chances in Paris. Our shooters have been training rigorously, and with the right support and preparation, I believe we have the potential to secure multiple medals.

IANS: Who do you think can become the next Abhinav Bindra of shooting? Any chance of taking over the coach’s role in the Indian side?

AB: The depth of talent in Indian shooting is immense, and I am confident that we will continue to produce many champions in the years to come. As for myself, I have no intentions of getting into coaching.

IANS: Indian shooters perform well in other major tournaments, but when it comes to the Olympics, they often fall short. What do you think is the reason?

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AB: We must rally and support our athletes wholeheartedly. Shooting has won Olympic medals in the past, and there is no reason why we can’t achieve this success again in the future.

IANS: How is the collaboration between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation designed to inspire physical activity and celebrate the Paris Olympics?

AB: The collaboration between the IOC, Reliance Foundation, and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation is built around the “Let’s Move India” initiative. This program aims to inspire physical activity by engaging people of all ages in celebrating the Paris 2024 Olympics. Through a series of digital challenges and regional school initiatives, we are encouraging individuals to participate in various forms of movement, be it dance, local sports, or athletic celebrations. This partnership not only highlights the importance of physical well-being but also brings communities together in a shared celebration of our athletes heading to Paris 2024.

IANS: What role do schools play in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as part of this collaborative effort?

AB: Schools play a pivotal role in the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) as they serve as the primary platforms for engaging young minds. Through OVEP, we integrate the core values of Olympism—excellence, respect, and friendship—into the educational framework. Schools across the country participate in physical activities, educational workshops, and community events, fostering a culture of physical fitness and sportsmanship. This involvement ensures that children not only stay active but also internalize the positive values associated with the Olympic movement. Through my foundation – ABF, we work with schoolchildren to experience these values through sport, art and activities, which helps them imbibe values and 21st century life skills.

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IANS: How has the initiative positively impacted children in Odisha and Assam, and how many children have benefited from it?

AB: The initiative has had a significant positive impact on children in Odisha and Assam, enhancing their physical activity levels, promoting gender inclusivity, and improving educational outcomes. Through our collaborative efforts, we have reached and benefited over 7 million children. These children have gained access to better sports facilities, training, and educational resources, fostering a holistic development that combines physical fitness with academic growth.

IANS: In what ways does the Abhinav Bindra Foundation contribute to promoting physical well-being?

AB: The Abhinav Bindra Foundation contributes to promoting physical well-being through various initiatives focused on sports science, athlete training, and community engagement. Our high-performance training centers provide grassroots athletes with access to state-of-the-art facilities and professional coaching. Additionally, our STEAM and Sport4Her initiatives aim to develop young athletes, particularly girls, while our Sport of Life and Athlete Mental Wellness programs offer surgical assistance and mental health support, respectively. We also focus on addressing environment and climate change through the Olympic Forest Project. By integrating global best practices, we strive to create a supportive environment that nurtures physical and mental well-being.

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IANS: What is the Olympic Movement’s mission in terms of enhancing physical and mental health through sport?

AB: The Olympic Movement’s mission is to make the world a better place through sport by enhancing both physical and mental health. This mission is accomplished by promoting regular physical activity, fostering community spirit, and encouraging healthy lifestyles. The “Let’s Move” initiative exemplifies this mission by inspiring millions of people worldwide to engage in daily physical activity, which in turn improves overall well-being and creates a more active, healthier global community.

IANS: Why is it important to support Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics, and how does this collaboration aim to achieve that goal?

AB: Supporting Indian athletes for the Paris 2024 Olympics is vital to highlighting the incredible talent and dedication within our sports community on a global platform. Through initiatives like “Let’s Move India,” we aim to generate widespread support and enthusiasm, significantly boosting our athletes’ morale. The Olympic movement is gaining traction in India, and with Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of hosting the Olympics in 2036, programs like OVEP and Let’s Move India are crucial in connecting young audiences with the global community. Furthermore, our efforts to promote physical activity at the grassroots level are essential in nurturing a strong pipeline of future Olympians.

–IANS

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T20 World Cup: 'Thank God we at last beat Australia', says Naib after Afghanistan’s epic triumph

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Kingstown, June 23 (IANS) Pace all-rounder Gulbadin Naib, who took the Player-of-the-Match award in Afghanistan’s historic 21-run win over Australia in the Super Eights stage of 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup, said he was elated and relieved over his side finally beating their much-fancied opponents in international cricket.

At the Arnos Vale Stadium, Naib became the game-changer for Afghanistan though his spell of 4-20, where he bowled his four overs without any interruption. He took out Marcus Stoinis and Tim David, before getting the all-important wicket of Glenn Maxwell for 59 in the 14th over to end Australia’s hopes of winning the game.

The result means Afghanistan are still in the race to enter the semi-finals, and opens up Group 1 incredibly. The epic win also is very sweet for Afghanistan, who dealt with two heartbreaks previously while facing Australia in World Cups.

In the 2022 T20 World Cup, Afghanistan fell short of beating Australia by just one runs and in the 2023 ODI World Cup, their hopes of a win were dashed by a cramping and one-legged Maxwell making an unbeaten 200.

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“Thank god we at last beat Australia. It’s a great achievement for our cricket in Afghanistan. If you look at history of our cricket, it is not much. Last ten years, we achieved a lot of goals. This is a big achievement.

“We played very good cricket and in the first round we beat New Zealand. Then (to beat) Australia is not easy. They are a world champion team and it is a big achievement for our cricket. We can carry this to the next level. Our journey starts now. We are very lucky to have such a staff and management,” said Naib after the match.

Naib also paid gratitude to captain Rashid Khan for trusting his bowling skills again in a crucial juncture of the game. “We were waiting (for this win) for a long time. It’s a great moment not just for me but for my nation and my people.

“(It is a) big achievement for our cricket. I have no words to say but thanks to the fans for supporting our career and cricket journey. It’s a great teamwork, we worked hard for the last two months and the result is in front of you.”

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Rashid was also glad that Afghanistan got third time lucky in beating Australia in World Cups, which he described as a great feeling and hoped for their loyal fans back home to be proud of the side.

“It’s a massive win for us as a team and as a nation. In the World Cup, beating champions is a great feeling. It’s something we missed in last two years – in 2023 World Cup and also in 2022 in Australia where we lacked some runs.

“It is so much important for us home and for everyone and all over the world where Afghans are there. They were badly missing this win. I am sure they would be proud of this and would have enjoyed the game. It is just the beginning for us, big game next and we have all the chances of making the semis.”

In the batting, Afghanistan were propelled by Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran putting on an opening stand of 118 runs, before crumbling in the fag end of their innings to end up on 148/6, as Pat Cummins took another hat-trick.

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Rashid felt Afghanistan having the services of eight bowlers made things easy for them to bowl out Australia for 127 in 19.2 overs.

“The thought was although we didn’t finish as well as we would have liked to, but this is how this wicket is. The more important thing was that the opening partnership gave us the best start. That let us get to a total we had in mind.

“We all watched two games before, and on this wicket anything 130-plus we said we were capable of defending. We keep calm and have that belief. The beauty of this team is having too many allrounders gives you options. As a captain, it makes it easy,” he said

–IANS

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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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Cummins becomes first player to claim two consecutive hat-tricks in T20 World Cup

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Kingstown (St Vincent), June 23 (IANS) Australia pacer Pat Cummins created history on Sunday (as per IST) when he became the first player to register a hat-trick in consecutive Men’s T20 World Cup matches.

The Aussie achieved the feat against Afghanistan when he had skipper Rashid Khan (17.6 over), Karim Janat (19.1 over) and Gulbadin Naib (19.2 over) dismissed with three consecutive deliveries across his two overs.

It was just the eighth time that a bowler has completed a hat-trick at a Men’s T20 World Cup and the first time a player has achieved the feat on multiple occasions, reports ICC.

Cummins is already a member of an illustrious group of seven players to have taken a hat-trick at a Men’s T20 World Cup, with Brett Lee (2007), Curtis Campher (2021), Wanindu Hasaranga (2021), Kagiso Rabada (2021), Karthik Meiyappan (2022) and Josh Little (2022) the other bowlers to have done so previously.

On Friday, he registered a hat-trick across two overs against Bangladesh on Thursday, becoming the second Australian after Brett Lee to claim a hat-trick in the T20 World Cup.

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–IANS

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