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India eye maiden T20I win against New Zealand

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New Delhi, Oct 31: After a brilliant performance in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs), India will aim for a maiden win against the New Zealand when they take on the visitors in the first Twenty20 International (T20I) match here on Wednesday.

The three-match T20I series will also witness some promising players taking the field and veteran pacer Ashish Nehra signing off with the first match at his home ground.

Seeing the recent performances, many cricket pundits may have put their money on the Indian team, but World No.1 New Zealand could also turn the tables with their cent percent record against the hosts.

The two teams faced off twice in New Zealand, twice in India and once in South Africa and New Zealand won all the five matches.

There are several match winning players in the New Zealand squad. Apart from skipper Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls have the ability to change the game at any time.

Experienced batsman Ross Taylor was also recalled to the New Zealand set-up in place of injured legs-pinner Todd Astle, which will give a boost to their batting department.

The bowlers have also shown their class in the ODI series. Experienced pacer Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme will be the key in the shortest format.

Spinners Ish Sodhi, Adam Milne could add much more to their bowling line-up on the slow Ferozshah Kotla pitch here if they bowl on the right areas.

India, on the other hand, have ticked many boxes in the ODI series. But they would like to improve the performance in both the departments.

Youngsters like Shreyas Iyer, Lokesh Rahul and pacer Mohammed Siraj would want to make their their mark and other batsmen like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik would like to continue their momentum in order to register their maiden T20I win.

In the bowling department, Ashish Nehra will play a crucial role in the first match if Virat Kohli include him in the squad.

Nehra would be supported by Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played brilliantly in the recently concluded series.

Spinners — Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal — will also play an important role in the spin friendly wicket.

So, with the records favouring the visitors, it will be interesting to see if India could to change their fortunes this time around or not.

Squads
India: Virat Kohli (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Ashish Nehra (only for first T20I).

New Zealand : Kane Williamson (c), Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips (wk).

IANS

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

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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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