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ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Lankan batting trumps India

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London, June 8, 2017:  Sri Lanka rode on a solid batting display to register a seven-wicket victory over India in their Group B Champions Trophy match at The Oval here on Thursday.

Set a challenging target of 322 runs, the Lankans rode on half-centuries from Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka to cross the line in 48.3 overs and register their first win the tournament.

The duo dominated the Indian bolwers to add 159 runs between them and lay the foundation of a successful run chase.

Mendis was the highest scorer among the Sri Lankans, producing a steady 89 runs off 93 balls before being run out thanks to an excellent piece of fielding by Indian pacer Buvneshwar Kumar off his own bowling.

Gunathilaka smashed 76 off 72 deliveries with seven boundaries and two sixes.

Thursday’s result throws the group wide open as all the teams in the group — India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa — have identical records of a win and a draw.

India will now have to beat South Africa in their last group match on June 11 and Sri lanka face a must win contest against Pakistan a day later in quest to qualify from the semi-finals.

Sri Lanka suffered an early jolt when Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent back Niroshan Dickwella in the fifth over.

However, Mendis joined Gunathilaka in the middle and the duo proceeded to turn things around with some superb batting.

After Gunathilaka’s dismissal, Mendis and Kusal Perera added 26 runs between them off 29 balls.

However, poor communication between them coupled with an accurate throw by Bhuvneshwar Kumar deprived Mendis of what would have been an extremely well-deserved century.

Angelo Mathews joined Perera in the middle to produce another crucial partnership for Sri Lanka.

The duo added 75 runs between off just 62 deliveries before Perera had to retire due to an injury to his right hamstring.

Perera scored 47 runs off 44 bals with five hits to the fence.

Mathews continued to battle on and remained unbeaten on 52 at the end.

He received excellent support from Asela Gunaratne who scored a quickfire 34 runs off 21 balls with two boundaries and a couple of sixes.

Earlier opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan’s 125 powered defending champions India to 321/6 in 50 overs.

Dhawan, who registered his 10th century in One-Day International (ODI) cricket, shared a partnership of 138 with fellow opener Rohit Sharma (78; 79b; 4×6, 6×3).

Dhawan also shared an 82-run stand with Mahendra Singh Dhoni (63; 52b; 7×4, 6×2)) for the fourth wicket as India posted a highly-challenging total.

Asked to bat, the Indian right-left combination of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan laid a solid foundation as they made the most of the shorter length maintained by the Sri Lankan pacers.

Dhawan and Rohit initially ensured that they get through the early overs without any damage and then paced their innings nicely once they got settled.

Both the batsmen showed good cutting, pulling and hooking strore-making techniques as they milked runs mostly through the square of the wicket.

Rohit, having completed his 31st fifty, was cruising until being caught by Thisara Perera off pacer Lasith Malinga. That put India at 138/1 in 24.5 overs.

Then, India lost Virat Kohli (0) and Yuvraj Singh (7) cheaply within the next few overs but Dhawan kept finding fours to keep Sri Lanka at bay.

Captain Kohli disappointed the crowd when he edged behind a delivery from paceman Nuwan Pradeep in the fifth ball of the 16th over.

Yuvraj dragged a ball from Asela Gunaratne on to his stumps, and India score read 179/3 in 33.3 overs.

Even if they were at a spot of bother, Dhawan and new batsman Dhoni showed a lot of positivity, not staying away from punishing poor deliveries.

Dhoni made his intention clear as he opened his account with a six over point off pacer Suranga Lakmal.

His approach helped Dhawan and the latter completed his century in 112 deliveries. A cut towards point off Pradeep brought up his three-figure mark.

Dhawan stepped up after completing his century but his innings was halted at 125, when he couldn’t clear Kusal Mendis at long-on off a delivery from Malinga. The Delhi batsman’s knock featured 15 fours and a six from the 128 deliveries he faced.

Dhoni, however, continued to flay the Sri Lankan bowlers who erred in line and length, making it easy for him to showcase his brute power.

Later, Kedar Jadhav scored a quickfire 25 not out from 13 deliveries to take India past 320.

Teams:
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Matthews (Captain), Niroshan Dickwella (WK), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep.

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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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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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