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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)


Bengaluru ODI: Smith ton takes Australia to 286/9 vs India




India Vs Australia
File Photo

Bengaluru, Steve Smith slammed a magnificent century as Australia put up 286/9 in 50 overs against India in the third and series-deciding final one day international here on Sunday.

Former captain Smith brought up his ninth 100 in 117 balls, third against India and got out on 131 from 132 deliveries as he tried to change gears and was caught at deep midwicket by Shyreyas Iyer off Mohammed Shami who was India’s best bowler.

Smith had hit 14 fours and a six in his innings. Despite restricting Australia to a score below 300 on what is generally a batsman-friendly track in Bengaluru, India had given away as many as 27 extras.

Shami (4/63) came back for his second spell in the end and picked up four wickets to shave off Australia’s tail and rein in on their scoring to not allow them to get to 300. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah was brilliant too although he went wicketless, giving away just 38 runs in 10 overs.

Besides Smith, fast-rising Marnus Labuschagne notched up his maiden ODI fifty as he scored 54 from 64 balls (5×4).

Smith and Labuschagne shared a 127-run stand for the third wicket which formed the visitors’ bedrock after electing to bat first.

India were dealt a blow early on as senior opener Shikhar Dhawan had to go for an x-ray with a call on whether he will take any further part to be taken once he is assessed.

Dhawan was taken off the field after he hurt his left shoulder in the series-deciding tie after he dived to save an Aaron Finch shot in the cover region before hurting his left shoulder in the fifth over.

India made early inroads as Mohammed Shami found David Warner’s outside edge to wicketkeeper K.L. Rahul who was played ahead of fit-again Rishabh Pant. Warner was gone for just three with his captain Finch (19) following suit soon, albeit in frustrating manner as he was run out due to indecision on Smith’s part while taking a single in the 9th over.

A livid Finch stormed out of the ground with the visitors in a spot of bother at 46/2. But as has been the case so often of late in Test cricket, Smith and Labuschagne joined hands to bring the team on track.

Similar in their playing style, the pair used square of the wicket a lot to score runs and punished the bad ball although Labuschagne was lucky not to get run out after Kuldeep Yadav failed to collect a Yuzvendra Chahal throw from the deep.

Smith got to 53 in 63 balls as he looked as consistent as ever with Labuschagne also notching up his maiden half century in 50-over cricket as he got to 53 in 60 deliveries.

It took a breathtaking catch from Indian captain Virat Kohli to break the stand as Labuschagne looked to accelerate in the 32nd over. The 25-year old played an inside out drive off Ravindra Jadeja which Kohli plucked inches off the grass diving low to his right.

Mitchell Starc was sent to bat at No.5 in a bid to up the ante and score briskly, but the experiment failed as Jadeja had him caught at deep mid-wicket fence by substitute Chahal to complete a two-wicket maiden 32nd over.

Alex Carey (35) and Smith associated for a quickfire 58-run partnership before Kuldeep got a timely breakthrough as Carey holed out to Shreyas Iyer at deep cover.

Bumrah followed it up with a near-perfect 43rd over, just conceding one run off the final delivery as Ashton Turner huffed and puffed at the crease.

Smith brought up his hundred by running a Navdeep Saini delivery down to third man but his celebration said it all as the Aussies fell behind in their run-scoring with Turner struggling to eventually get out caught behind in the same over.

Shami then removed Smith, Pat Cummins (0) and Adam Zampa (1) with toe-crushing yorkers as India ended on a high. Ashton Agar was not out on 11.

Australia made one change to the side, bringing in Josh Hazlewood for Kane Richardson while India named the same team.

Brief scores: Australia 286/9 in 50 overs (Steve Smith 131, Marnus Labuschagne 54; Mohammed Shami 4/63) vs India.

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Tata Steel Chess: Anand draws with Jorden van Foreest

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.




Viswanathan Anand

Wijk Aan Zee (The Netherlands), Jan 18 : Five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand was on Saturday held to a draw by Dutch Jorden Van Foreest in the sixth round of Tata Steel Masters.

Veteran Anand faced the Four Knights opening in the sixth round as black and unleashed an attack in the centre early by sacrificing two pawns.

Anand tried to make inroads as White’s king was stuck around the centre for a long time and
it was a cautious move by both players especially after white lost back one pawn.

The draw was agreed upon once Anand picked the second pawn.

Anand remained in joint sixth spot after three points from six games.

Anand needs a powerful finish to be in with a chance of finishing on the podium with seven rounds still remaining.

Meanwhile, World champion Magnus Carlsen’s got a sixth draw on the trot as his search for an elusive win continued.

It was the 18th straight draw between him and Fabiano Caruana of the United States in the Classical time control.

Elsewhere, Anish Giri bounced back from his previous round loss to defeat Vladislav Kovalev of Belarus while Daniil Dubov thrashed his Russian compatriot Vladislav Artemiev.

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Sania scripts dream return, clinches doubles title in Hobart




Hobart: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza along with Nadiia Kichenok came out with yet another brilliant performance as they defeated the China’s Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in straight sets to win the women’s doubles title at Hobart International on Saturday.

Former doubles No.1 Mirza and Kichenok defeated the second-seeded Chinese duo 6-4, 6-4 in a rather one-sided contest which lasted one hour and 21 minutes.

The Indo-Ukrainian pair were the first to break in each set, but ultimately needed to wrap up the match by delivering the deciding breaks late. The unseeded duo won the last three games of the opener, and eight of the last 10 points to seal victory, having nearly seen a double-break advantage slip away.

Though the duo won six straight games from 3-4 in the opener to lead 6-4, 3-0, the 33-year-old Indian was the one who saw her serve broken twice as the Chinese eventually restored parity at 4-4.

Nonetheless, Mirza and Kichenok finished the match off in style with their fifth break of the match, before the Ukrainian served out the match and the victory for the team.

It is Mirza’s first WTA title in just over two years and 42nd of her storied doubles career, while Kichenok won her fifth, and first since partnering her twin sister, Lyudmyla, to win the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai in 2018.

The Indian star last won a trophy alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Brisbane International in the first week of the 2017 season, one of three doubles finals she reached that year before announcing her pregnancy in April of 2018.

Three-time doubles Grand Slam winner Mirza was making a return to competition after a two-year hiatus away from tennis, initially due to injuries and then welcoming a son in October 2018.

The former world No.1 won the Australian Open doubles title in 2016 following a successful 2015 season in which she claimed the Wimbledon and US Open doubles titles, all paired with Martina Hingis.

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