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India, Sri Lanka aim to push for final spot

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Nidahas Trophy Twenty20 International, Photo Credit [email protected]_Trophy

Colombo, March 11: India will aim to push for a place in the final of the Nidahas Trophy Twenty20 International (T20I) cricket tri-series when they take on Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium here on Monday.

All the three teams — India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — have played two matches and won a match each and Monday’s match gives both the teams the opportunity to move to the top of the table.

India, captained by Rohit Sharma, lost the first match to Sri Lanka by five wickets before defeating Bangladesh by six wickets on Thursday.

Sri Lanka will not only be confident having defeated India but at the same time, the hosts will be angry after losing to Bangladesh by five wickets in a high-scoring affair on Saturday night.

The hosts had put 214/6 on the board but failed to defend the big total, as Mushfiqur Rahim (72 not out) tore the home bowlers apart.

For this reason, India have to be wary of the Sri Lankans. But this side has shown that it has the strength to go out and deliver and will be eager to continue their good work like they did against Bangladesh.

For India, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has been outstanding, scoring 90 and 55 in the two matches, as he continued from where he left off in South Africa. His scores in the last 10 matches are 55, 90, 47, 24, 72, 18, 34, 109, 76, 51.

However, the worry for India has been the form of fellow opener Rohit, who has scored only 39 runs in the past five T20Is.

In the middle-order, India will depend on Manish Pandey, who posted 37 and 27 not out in the two matches.

Suresh Raina will also aim to have a big score after getting 28 in the last match. Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who has not been impressive so far with scores of 7 and 23, will also look to make amends.

As for the bowlers, medium pacers Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur and Vijay Shankar helped India restrict Bangladesh to 139/8 in the last match after being wasteful in the first match.

Spinners Yuzvender Chahal and Washington Sundar will again be key in the middle overs.

In the other camp, Sri Lanka will depend on Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis to score briskly at the top of the batting order. Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga will bat in the middle.

In their defeat to Bangladesh, all of the bowlers, barring Nuwan Pradeep, bowled with indiscipline, throwing full-tosses and easy deliveries at important moments and were made to pay for it.

Pradeep will need Thisara Perera and Dushmantha Chameera to step up, along with spinners Akila Dhananjay and Jeevan Mendis.

IANS

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FIFA World Cup: Croatia beat Nigeria 2-0

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Kaliningrad (Russia), June 17 :Croatia went to the top of Group D in the FIFA World Cup following their 2-0 easy victory over Nigeria at the Kaliningrad Stadium here on Saturday.

Veteran striker Mario Mandzukic played his part in both the goals from Croatia, who now have three points. The other teams in the group, Argentina and Iceland, played a 1-1 draw earlier in the day in Kazan.

Croatia, playing with a 4-2-3-1 formation, expectedly controlled the game from the beginning. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, playing in a two-man midfield, had their say in everything, making critical forward passes and stopping Nigeria’s mobility towards Croatian goal.

Croatian left winger Ivan Perisic had the first shot on goal as Mandzukic teed off a counter-attack but the Inter Milan man’s shot from outside of the box sailed over the cross-bar in the 13th minute.

Couple of minutes later, Andrej Kramaric then had his moment but he fired wide of the left post after being fed by Modric.

Croatia were mounting pressure with each passing time while Nigeria struggled to get into the box, let alone making a shot on goal.

Chelsea right winger Victor Moses was impressive but Croatia’s left-back Ivan Strinic, who plays for Italian club Sampdoria, controlled him well.

The first goal for Croatia resulted after Nigerian midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo deflected in a diving header from Mandzukic at the left post into his own net following a corner kick from Luka Modric in the 32nd minute.

Till the first-half end, Nigeria failed to create anything and hardly looked like getting an equaliser.

At the beginning of the second-half, Nigeria tried to push for an equaliser. They earned multiple corners but Mandzukic and his teammates showed their hard work to deny the Africans.

Then off a quick switch of play, Modric played a through ball to Perisic on the left and the latter fired in a swinging cross inside the box but Croatian right winger Ante Rebic’s right foot put a heavy touch for the ball to fly over.

Later, Nigeria tried to infuse attacking firepower by throwing in attackers Ahmed Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho. But Croatia were tight in their markings and cut down the spaces efficiently to keep Nigeria at bay.

The European team got its cushion goal in the 71st minute when William Ekong brought down Juventus star Mandzukic inside the box while defending a corner, leading to a penalty from which captain Luka Modric scored.

Afterwards, Croatia withdrew some of ther attackers to make it a heavy midfield and successfully defend their two-goal advantage for the convincing victory in the opening match.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: France beat Australia 2-1 in Group C match

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Kazan, June 16: Midfielder Paul Pogba scored the winning goal for France, who overcame Australia 2-1 in a FIFA World Cup Group C contest here on Saturday.

Pogba’s 80th-minute strike, a chip which kissed the cross-bar before moving in, gave France the 2-1 lead after Mile Jedinak’s 62nd-minute penalty had cancelled Antoine Griezmann’s conversion from the penalty spot four minutes earlier.

Griezmann converted a penalty which was awarded after Joshua Risdon fouled the Atletico Madrid forward inside the box in the 56th minute.

A few minutes later, Samuel Umtiti raised his hand to a free-kick from the right, resulting in a penalty. Jedinak stepped up to successfully convert the penalty and pull Australia level 1-1.

IANS

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David Warner to debut in Caribbean Premier League

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St. Lucia, June 16: Caribbean Premier League (CPL) outfit St. Lucia Stars have signed banned Australia batsman David Warner in their squad for the upcoming season beginning August 8, the West Indian club announced on Saturday.

Warner will replace fellow big-hitting Australian D’Arcy Short, who was ruled out of the tournament after being selected in Australia A’s tour of India.

“We are excited to bring David to the Saint Lucia Stars. David is arguably one of the greatest batsman of the modern era and a winning player,” Stars General Manager Mohammad Khan was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.

Warner, who was handed a 12-month ban following his role in the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, will make a return to competitive cricket in Canada’s inaugural Global T20 tournament for the Winnipeg Hawks later this month alongside his former skipper Steve Smith, who was also handed a 12-month suspension by CA.

The month-long CPL will also feature other Australians like all-rounder Shane Watson and Chris Lynn.

IANS

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