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Ashish Nehra ‘satisfied’ to retire on a high

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Ashish Nehra India vs new zealand
Ashish Nehra waves to crowd after his retirement from all forms of cricket during the first T20 match against New Zealand at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.

New Delhi, Nov 2: Very few cricketers bid adieu to international cricket with both the bowling ends named after them and that too in their home ground but veteran pacer Ashish Nehra called himself “fortunate” to have all these during his farewell game — the first T20 International against New Zealand at the Ferozshah Kotla here.

Nehra could not have asked for a better send-off as the men-in-blue also won the contest by 53 runs on Wednesday to register their first victory against the Kiwis in the shortest format.

Recalling his debut Ranji match against Haryana in 1997 from the same end where he was asked to bowl the final over on Wednesday, the 38-year-old said he was satisfied and happy to end on a high.

“I still remember my first match in 1997 when I bowled my very first over in professional cricket against Haryana from the same end. There is no doubt that it’s emotional but I am happy and satisfied to end his career on a high,” Nehra told reporters in the post-match press conference.

“I am very lucky to play my final game in front of my home crowd. This is where I have played my 20 years of cricket. It feels great to retire when you are on top of the game.

“When I informed captain Virat (Kohli) and head coach Ravi Shastri of my decision during the first T20I against Australia at Ranchi, Virat asked me ‘Are you sure'”

“I said ‘this is the time when you are on top of your game and fortunately got a match in Delhi’, what better occasion could I get to hang my boots,” he further said.

After undergoing a dozen surgeries during his 18-year-long injury-littered international career, Nehra said it is his body that will be at peace post retirement.

“I will miss all this. That’s what you train for. One thing which will definitely be at peace will be my body.

“I said earlier that I can go a couple more years, but there can’t be a better time to walk away,” Nehra said.

“I last played Test cricket when I was 24 or 25, but at the end, to have played for 18 years and to be here standing in blue clothing and to have played my final match, I could not have asked for anything more.

“I have no regrets. I am always happy, retired or otherwise,” added Nehra, who took 44 scalps from 17 Tests.

Asked about his future plans, Nehra said he is yet to take a call on whether to go for coaching or commentary roles.

Nehra finished his international career with 34 scalps from 27 T20 Internationals besides taking 157 wickets from 120 One-day Internationals.

IANS

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FIFA WC 2018: Brazil edge past brave Costa Rica with last gasp goals

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brazil vs costa rica fifa 2018

Sochi, June 23: Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Junior scored late in the second half as Brazil ensured their passage to the second round with a hard-earned 2-0 win over Costa Rica in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Both Brazilians struck in the second half added time at the Saint Petersburg Stadium to hand the five-time World Cup winners their first victory in the tournament.

Costa Rica managed to hold fast for the full 90 minutes of normal play thanks to a solid display from goalkeeper Keylor Navas but one minute into stoppage time, Barça’s Coutinho rescued Brazil, driving through the defense to attack a loose ball in the penalty area, smashing it home between the legs of the Real Madrid man between the posts.

Then, in the dying embers of stoppage time, of which there were six minutes, Neymar, who was yet to score at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, connected to a simple cross to tap home and seal the game.

At the final whistle, the most expensive player in the world broke into tears of relief in the center of the pitch.

Brazil, one of this year’s favourites to win the trophy, all but secured its place in the knockout stages of the competition, recovering from a 1-1 draw in its opening match against Switzerland, who in turn is to meet with Serbia in the evening kick-off.

Costa Rica put on a tough display in the first half knowing that a loss would essentially resign them to booking an early ticket home, but the players tired towards the end of the 90 minutes and succumbed to the relentless attacking tactics of the Brazilians.

Brazil, who now top the table with 4 points, is set to play Serbia on Jun 27 in its final Group E match.

IANS

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Ahmed Musa double downs Iceland to keep Nigeria’s World Cup dreams alive

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nigeria vs iceland fifa 2018

Volgograd (Russia), June 23: Two brilliant strikes by Ahmed Musa propelled Nigeria to a 2-0 win over Iceland in a Group D match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup here on Friday.

Musa (49th, 75th minutes) scored both his goals in the second half as Nigeria revived their chances of advancing to the second round.

The Africans, who had lost 0-2 to Croatia in their campaign opener, now have three points from two matches.

They now face a must win clash against Argentina in their third and last group encounter.

Iceland have two points from as many matches. They had held mighty Argentina 1-1 in their first match.

The result also helps the chances for Lionel Messi’s Argentina to advance, as they can move from bottom of the table into second with a win over Nigeria, so long as Iceland do not beat Croatia by an equal or larger margin.

In the first half of the game, chances were few and far between. While Nigeria dominated possession, Iceland got the better chances to take the lead.

The best of them all was a Gylfi Sigurdsson effort which was tipped over the bar by Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

Nigeria nosed ahead four minutes into the second period when Victor Moses sprinted down the right wing and crossed towards Musa. The Nigerian controlled beautifully, before slamming home to give his side the lead.

Musa could have grabbed a hattrick had his attempt from 20 yards not come off the crossbar.

Musa then sped past Iceland right-back Kari Arnason on the wing to round goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson and score his second of the evening.

Iceland were handed a lifeline when Tyronne Ebuehi was late on a challenge on Alfred Finnbogason, and the referee gave a penalty — though only after reviewing the play on video.

But Sigurdsson sent his shot high over the bar and into the stands after a short run-up and Nigeria held on to take the three points.

IANS

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World Cup: Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1 in Group E tie

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

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Switzerland vs Serbia

Kaliningrad (Russia), June 23 (IANS) A late goal by Xherdan Shaqiri earned Switzerland 2-1 win over Serbia in a Group E clash of the FIFA World Cup at the Kaliningrad Stadium here.

Aleksandar Mitrovic handed Serbia the lead in the fifth minute during the match on Friday.

Switzerland equalised in the second half, thanks to a superb long range strike by Granit Xhaka (52nd).

Shaqiri (90th) found the winning goal in the final minute of regulation time.

Switzerland now have four points from two matches.

Serbia have three points from two games.

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