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Asia Cup: Afghanistan pull off thrilling last-ball tie with India

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Mohammad Shahzad

Dubai, Sep 26 (IANS) Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comeback as skipper, albiet for a game ended in a thrilling tie against a resurgent Afghanistan in their final Super Four match of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing a competitive 253, the defending champions got off to a flier from the new opening pair of Lokesh Rahul (60 off 66 balls; 4X5, 6X1) and Ambati Rayudu (57 off 49; 4X4, 6X4) before a mini collapse, coupled with a few run-outs and umpiring errors, eventually resulted in a tie.

Needing 7 off the final over, Ravindra Jadeja (25 off 34; 4X1) struck a boundary on the second ball off leg-spinner Rashid Khan before taking two singles with last man Khaleel Ahmed in company.

With 1 needed off the final two balls, Jadeja pulled the fifth delivery — a shorter one towards midwicket only to find Najibullah running in from deep to grab it with both hands and help Afghanistan bow out of the tournament with their head held high.

Earlier, replacing the regular pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul and Rayudu got India to a 110-run opening stand before Mohammed Nabi managed to draw first blood with the wicket of Rayudu.

Rashid then joined the party by removing Rahul before Dinesh Karthik’s (44 off 66; 4X4) sedate knock stabilised things for the Men-in-Blue.

Karthik, however failed to get adequate support from the other end as Dhoni (8), Manish Pandey (8) and Kedar Jadhav (19) fell in quick succession before an umpiring blunder sent the Tamil Nadu stumper back in the hut.

Towards the end, Jadeja played a lone hand even as the bowlers — Deepak Chahar (12), Kuldeep Yadav (9) and Siddharth Kaul (0) — could hardly lend any support to the southpaw.

For the Afghans, pacer Aftab Alam and spin duo of Nabi and Rashid picked two wickets each while Javed Ahmadi picked one.

Earlier, electing to bat, Afghanistan rode opener Mohammad Shahzad’s entertaining century and a sensible innings from Nabi to post a healthy 252/8 against a relatively inexperienced Indian attack.

On a track where strokeplay wasn’t easy, Shahzad belted a brilliant 124 off 116 balls, laced with 11 boundaries and seven sixes, even as the rest of the top-five failed to reach double digits.

Nabi (64 off 56; 4X3, 6X4), however, played the perfect second fiddle to the wicketkeeper-batsman, raising a vital 48-run stand for the sixth wicket before finally losing Shahzad to part-timer Kedar Jadhav.

Thereafter, Nabi took the responsibility of pressing the accelerator even as the Indian bowlers bounced back well to leak just nine runs off the final three overs.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan: 252/8 (Mohammad Shahzad 124, Mohammad Nabi 64; Ravindra Jadeja 3/46) tie with India 252 (Lokesh Rahul 60, Ambati Rayudu 56, Dinesh Karthik 44; Mohammed Nabi 2/40, Rashid Khan 2/41).

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What we saw from Tewatia in nets is what we saw in Cottrell’s over: Smith

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Steve Smith Sports

Sharjah, Sep 28 : Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith was all smiles after his team pulled off a record chase to beat Kings XI Punjab by four wickets on Sunday in Sharjah. Rahul Tewatia turned it around for himself and his team when he hit give sixes off the 18th over bowled by Sheldon Cottrell and Smith said that this exactly what the team sees the 27-year-old do in the nets all the time.

“What we have seen from Tewatia in the nets is what we saw in that Cottrell’s over,” said Smith in the post-match presentation ceremony. “I told someone as along as he gets one, floodgates will open. He showed heart. He told me during the timeout we still believe.”

Tewatia was hardly able to get ball on bat before he went after Cottrell and RR were banking on Sanju Samson yet again. Samson scored his second consecutive half century and was dismissed on 85 off 42 balls.

“Sanju is striking the ball cleanly all over the ground. Taking pressure off everyone. We will have to adapt to the bigger grounds, but these shots would clear everywhere,” said Smith.

Smith had chosen to bowl first despite winning the first match played at the same ground after batting first. His decision seamed to have backfired when Kings XI Punjab creamed 223/2 but Rajasthan’s fireworks allowed them to get to 226/6 with three balls to spare.

“That was something else, wasn’t it? Generally it gets wetter so I thought we were in with a chance at the halfway mark. A lot of sixes hit here. We gave ourselves the chance. Yeah, good to get over the line,” he said.

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IPL: Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by 4 wickets

Match 9. It’s all over! Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wickets

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Rajasthan Royals IPL

Sharjah, Sep 27 : Rahul Tewatia’s five sixes off the 18th over bowled by Sheldon Cottrell coupled with Sanju Samson’s 85 off 42 balls helped Rajasthan Royals overhaul a target of 224 set by Kings XI Punjab on Sunday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. RR won the match by four wickets and thus broke the record for the highest successful run chase in the IPL history.

Mayank Agarwal’s century and his epic 183-run opening stand with captain KL Rahul helped KXIP score 223/2. RR in reply ended the match on 226/6 with three balls to spare.

RR lost their first wicket early in the form of the dangerous Jos Buttler.

Samson and captain Steve Smith, however, ensured that their side reach 100 before the 10th over. Smith soon fell on 50 off 27 deliveries off the last ball of the ninth over after which Tewatia was promoted ahead of Robin Uthappa.

In stark contrast to the way he played towards the end of the innings, Tewatia struggled to score runs for much of the early part of his innings while Samson went big guns at the other end.

The latter eventually fell to Mohammed Shami, thus making it look like KXIP are closing in on an easy victory.

However, Tewatia, who at one point had scored just eight runs off 19 balls, smashed 30 runs off the 18th over to flip the tables on KXIP. He was eventually dismissed on 53 but Jofra Archer saw them over the line with 13 runs off just three balls.

Earlier, Mayank scored 106 from 50 balls, his innings punctuated by as many seven sixes and 10 fours. Rahul, on the other hand, scored 69 off 54, smashing seven fours and one six.

Brief scores: KXIP 223/2 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 106, KL Rahul 69; Ankit Rajpoot 1/39) vs RR 226/6 in 19.3 overs (Sanju Samson 85, Rahul Tewatia 53; Mohammed Shami 3/53)

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Hamilton greatest F1 driver of our generation, says Serena Williams

Mercedes’ Hamilton on Saturday took his 96th pole position ahead of the Russian Grand Prix and would be looking to equal Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins on Sunday.

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Serena Williams

New Delhi, Sep 27 : Twenty three-time tennis Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has heaped praise on Lewis Hamilton, saying the reigning Formula 1 world champion is the “greatest drive of our generation” and that he would break German legend Michael Schumacher’s record.

“Lewis Hamilton and I have been super close, we have known each other for years, I love that guy, he has such a champion mindset, I look at what he does in training,” said Serena in a video posted on the official handle of F1.

“He is for me, the greatest driver our generation has seen and I am confident that he will break the record of Michael Schumacher. He lives his life on his sleeve, he says what he says, and this is the one thing I really appreciate about him,” she added.

Mercedes’ Hamilton on Saturday took his 96th pole position ahead of the Russian Grand Prix and would be looking to equal Schumacher’s record of 91 race wins on Sunday.

Hamilton had clinched the 90th win of his Formula One career when he bagged the crash-strewn Tuscan Grand Prix earlier this month.

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