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India break T20I jinx, bid adieu to Nehra with win vs Kiwis

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TeamIndia

New Delhi, Nov 1 : Veteran pacer Ashish Nehra could not have asked for a better send-off as India thrashed New Zealand by 53 runs at the Ferozshah Kotla here on Wednesday to bring up their maiden win against the Kiwis in T20 Internationals.

India’s opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan (80 from 52 balls) and Rohit Sharma (80 from 55 balls) blasted identical half tons to set the tone with a 158-run record opening stand and guide the hosts post a massive 202/3.

In reply, the tourists failed to get going as only five of their batsmen — Kane Williamson (28), Tom Latham (39), Mitchell Santner (27), Ish Sodhi (11) and Tom Bruce (10) could manage to reach double figures.

The Kiwis found both their openers — Martin Guptill (4) and Colin Munro (7) back in the hut inside the first four overs with just 18 runs on the board.

The credit for Guptill’s dismissal went to Hardik Pandya’s quick reflexes, latching on to a superb running catch at long-off off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

Munro failed to make full use of the life when he was dropped by Pandya off Ashish Nehra, and was beaten by a pacy yorker from Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Tottering at 33/2 by the end of the powerplay, the onus was on skipper Kane Williamson (28 off 24 balls) and Tom Latham to take out of troubled waters.

Williamson, who started off by clobbering Bhuvneshwar for a six before enjoying a reprieve from Kohli at mid-off off Nehra, fell prey to Pandya’s first delivery of the match, comfortably caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The dismissal of Williamson brought in Tom Bruce (10 from 10b), who started off with a boundary off Pandya but fell immediately to left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

One ball later, Axar dismissed Colin de Grandhomme (0) as the Kiwis found themselves tottering at a precarious 84/5 after 13 overs.

They were soon reduced to 99/7 as the Indian bowlers tightened the noose.

Chahal dealt the final nail on the coffin by dismissing New Zealand’s last hope — Latham, smartly stumped by Dhoni as the asking rate kept on mounting.

Merely a formality with the Kiwis requiring 61 off the last over, Kohli threw the ball to Nehra for one last time in his 18-year-old international career.

As Nehra went back to his run-up to bowl his fourth of the over, a young ball boy took everyone by surprise when he came up running to touch the veteran pacer’s feet.

Earlier, India made full use of the horrible fielding effort from the Kiwis to decimate the Kiwi bowlers.

While Dhawan belted a 52-ball 80, to eclipse his previous highest T20I score of 60, Rohit continued his glorious form to smash a 55-ball 80, comprising six boundaries and four sixes.

With the dew setting in, the New Zealanders found it tough to grip the ball, which was well utilised by the Indian duo, reaching 80/0 midway through the innings.

Dhawan had by now reached his third T20 fifty with a single off an inside edge off left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who cramped him for room.

The southpaw turned up the heat by smashing a couple of sixes even as Rohit got to his 12th T20I half century by clobbering Santner for a maximum and two consecutive boundaries as India’s score crossed the 150-run mark in no time.

Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who was till now at the receiving end of Dhawan’s onslaught, got the better of the southpaw with a googly outside off.

Dhawan’s stay at the crease was ended when he failed to connect the ball and instead nicked back to stumper Latham.

Two balls later, Sodhi packed the dangerous Pandya (0), who was promoted up to accelerate the scoring rate.

With 3.2 overs left, skipper Virat Kohli (26 off 11 balls) walked into the middle amid loud cheers from the capacity crowd and began sending the bowlers to the leather hunt in the company of former skipper Dhoni, who was at 7 off two deliveries.

After the match, Nehra took a lap of honour around the ground with the entire team with him.

His long-time Delhi team-mates Kohli and Dhawan hoisted him up on their shoulders as he waved energetically at the crowd.

With the win, India have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber and will next face the Kiwis at Rajkot on Saturday.

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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