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Shami hat-trick seals deal for India in thriller against Afghanistan



Virat Kohli

Southampton, June 22 : Mohammed Shami (4/40) grabbed a magical hat-trick as India scripted a 11-run last-over win over Afghanistan in a thrilling World Cup clash here on Saturday.

Chasing 225 for victory, Afghanistan needed 16 runs in six balls riding Mohammad Nabi”s valiant 52 off 55 balls and including four boundaries and a sixer.

Nabi smacked Shami for a four to bring the equation down to 12 off 5, and then refused a single to keep the strike.

But in the next three balls, Shami had Nabi caught by Hardik Pandya at long on and then castled Aftab Alam and Mujeeb ur Rahman in successive deliveries to grab a hat-trick and hand India their fourth victory in five matches.

Shami became India”s only second bowler to bag a hat-trick in a World Cup since Chetan Sharma in the 1987 edition.

Pace ace Jasprit Bumrah (2/39), wristspinner Yuzvendra Chahal (2/36) and all-rounder Pandya (2/51) all grabbed two wickets to help Virat Kohli and Co. escape a scare they never thought would come their way.

Afghanistan spinners had restricted the famed Indian batsmen to 224/8 after Kohli chose to bat first on a sluggish wicket.

Chasing the modest target, Afghanistan lost Hazratullah Zazai (10) early, with Shami getting the ball to go through the gate and crash onto the stumps.

India lost a review early on when a Shami delivery struck Zazai on the pads and umpire Aleem Dar turned down loud appeals. Kohli decided to go for a review as replays showed the ball pitching outside line.

Skipper Gulbadin Naib (27) and Rahmat Shah (36) then shared a 44-run second wicket stand before Pandya had the former holed out to Vijay Shankar at deep midwicket.

There was drama in the 29th over when Bumrah hit Shah”s pads and was convinced he has got his man, but the umpire was not convinced, leaving Kohli furious as India did not have any reviews left.

But as things panned out, India”s agony was shortlived as the pacer removed both Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi (21; 45b; 2×4) in the same over.

While Shah holed out to Chahal who took a low catch running in from fine leg, Shahidi was done by a short-of-a-length ball, angled into the batsman as he failed to negotiate it and the ball popped up off his outside of the bat for Bumrah to take a return catch.

From 106/2 after 28 overs with 119 needed from the remaining 22 overs, the Afghans suddenly found themselves in a spot of bother with the loss of their two set batsmen.

Nabi and Najibullah Zadran (21) tried to still keep their hopes alive but once the latter was gone, and Chahal removed Rashid Khan (14), it was all down to Nabi who, in the end, failed.

Earlier, Afghanistan tweakers spun a web around Indian batsmen to restrict them to 224/8 in 50 overs despite half centuries from Kohli and Kedar Jadhav.

This is India”s lowest first innings total batting all 50 overs since 2010.

Kohli struck his third consecutive fifty with a classy 67 off 63 balls, his innings laced with five fours, while Jadhav scored 52 off 68 deliveries (3×4, 1×6).

But a spirited Afghanistan, smarting from their heavy defeat to England in the last game, rode Nabi”s 2/33 and wickets each for Rahman (1/26), Rashid Khan (1/38) and Rahmat Shah (1/22) to keep the run-flow in check throughout the innings.

Skipper Naib (2/51) took two wickets in the last over, removing Jadhav and Shami (1) to cap off a brilliant bowling display by the team which still finds itself at the foot of the points table, without a win, and battling off-field issues and in-fighting.

M.S. Dhoni laboured to 28 off 52 balls (3×4) bringing back memories of the days when he was questioned for his slow pace in the twilight of his career.

Dhoni was stumped in the end off Rashid, as he tried to up the ante by dancing down the track. This was only the second time he got out stumped, and the first time since 2011.

There was an injury scare to star player Rashid who hurt his left leg while fielding at long on in the 50th over off Naib. Rashid tried to stop a boundary but picked up an injury, and was later seen hobbling off the pitch.

India lost their openers, Rohit Sharma (1) and K.L. Rahul (30) early with Kohli the only player who looked good on the day. Jadhav tried hard to get going in the end, and his fifty was well paced but Dhoni failed to rotate the strike enough and got stuck on a two-paced wicket.

Shankar (29) got a start batting at No. 4 but failed to cash in while fellow allrounder Pandya (7) had a bad day with the bat.

Brief scores: India: 224/8 (Virat Kohli 67, Kedar Jadhav 52; Mohammad Nabi 2/33, Gulbadin Naib 2/51); Afghanistan: 213 all out in 49.5 overs (Mohammad Nabi 52; Mohammed Shami 4/40)


My eyes fixed firmly on Women’s World Cup trophy: Mithali Raj

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.




Mithali Raj

New Delhi, Aug 8 : Veteran India batter Mithali Raj has said that she is “definitely looking” at the ICC Women’s World Cup, which has been postponed to 2022 and has added that her eyes are firmly fixed on the trophy.

On Friday, the International Cricket Council decided to postpone the World Cup, originally slated to be held in New Zealand in 2021, until February-March 2022 because of the impact the coronavirus pandemic.

“Whilst this is never great news to wake up to. I can understand the reasons why given the lack of cricket in some countries. I just hope those players who were planning to retire after the World Cup can hold on for one year…right Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami and Rachael Haynes,” cricketer-turned-commentator Lisa Sthalekar tweeted following ICC’s decision to postpone Women’s World Cup.

To this, Mithali replied: “Oh absolutely, my eyes are fixed firmly on the trophy. With all niggles recovered, mind and body fresh and stronger than before, I am definitely looking at World Cup 2022.”

Mithali had led the Indian eves to the final of the showpiece event in 2017 where they had to face a heart-wrenching defeat against England in the summit clash at the iconic Lord’s.

The right-handed bastwoman, one of India’s most successful female cricketer, has so far scored 6888 runs in 209 ODIs, 663 runs in 10 Tests and 2364 runs in 89 T20Is.

The 37-year-old has already retired from T20 cricket and now aspires to win India their maiden World Cup for which she will now have to wait at least until 2022.

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Madrid Masters tennis tournament cancelled: organisers




Madrid Masters tennis

The Madrid Open that was scheduled to take place from Sept. 12-20 has been cancelled due to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the Spanish Capital, Organisers said on Thursday.

“As an act of responsibility in view of the current situation caused by COVID-19 and having thoroughly evaluated the circumstance that the pandemic continues to generate… it has been decided that 2020 Muta Madrid Open will not take place this year,” organisers said in a satatement.

The tounament, which was to feature both men’s and women’s draws, was seen as an important event for players to prepare for the Frech Open which begins on Sept. 27.

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BCCI issues SOP; players must sign consent form before resuming training

BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.





New Delhi, Aug 2 : The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Sunday issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to the state associations for the resumption of cricket. While these will help the state bodies restart cricketing activities, all players will have to sign consent forms before getting back to training.

In the 100-page SOP, accessed by IANS, the BCCI has touched on principles while returning to training, ground and practice facilities preparation with an eye on the pandemic, gymnasium protocols, physiotherapy and medical protocols as well as protocols to manage a suspected COVID-19 case.

It also has the consent form where the players have to acknowledge that there is risk associated with resuming training and that the player has been informed about the protocols in place and the precautions taken by the association.

The player also needs to acknowledge that the association can’t guarantee complete elimination of risk despite taking necessary precautions and that the player is willing to resume training.

With an eye on the whole situation with regards to the coronavirus pandemic, the BCCI has shared its views with the state bodies with regards to resumption of cricket.

“The BCCI as the governing body for the sport of cricket in India is responsible for ensuring that appropriate protocols are put in place to protect the health and safety of players, staff and all stakeholders. Covid-19, an infectious disease primarily affecting the lungs, poses a serious threat to the health of individuals as is evident from its spread to almost all countries around the world with more than 17.5 million infections and over 0.6 million deaths as on 1st August 2020. As the world grapples with Covid-19, cricketing activity has come to a standstill and players confined to the four walls within their homes.

“It is said that cricket is a religion in India and the fanfare and fervor that cricket commands are far greater than any other sport or event in the country. Besides, it also helps generate tremendous revenue and employs players and staff across 38 State teams, both in the men and women category. BCCI is responsible for ensuring the resumption of cricketing activity in India to help secure employment of all its workforce and also provide a source of entertainment to the fans at the earliest.

“However, the BCCI is concerned about the high infectivity rate of SARS CoV-2 and in the interest of health and safety of all players, staff and stakeholders, the BCCI would not like to compromise on the preventive measures by resuming too soon,” the SOP read.

“The purpose of these protocols is to ensure the safe resumption of cricket activities and the below guidelines may be amended from time to time as may be required depending on the existing Covid-19 situation in the country and the guidelines issued by the Government of India at appropriate times. These guidelines have been prepared by the BCCI Medical Team.

“All BCCI affiliated State Cricket Associations will adhere to these guidelines and take additional measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection. Approvals must also be sought from local administration and health authorities before commencing any cricket activity. The health and safety of players, staff and stakeholders will be the sole responsibility of respective State Cricket Associations.”

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