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Jadeja bogged down by illness, Dhawan recovers from ankle injury

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Jadeja Dhawan

Cape Town, Jan 3: India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been suffering from viral illness for the past two days, while opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has recovered from an injury ahead of the first cricket Test against South Africa, it was announced on Wednesday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that its medical team in consultation with the local medical team has decided that Jadeja will be taken to a hospital for treatment and said it expects him to fully recover in the next 48 hrs.

“The BCCI Medical Team has been monitoring him and is also in touch with the local medical team in Cape Town,” the statement said.

“The BCCI’s decision on his availability for selection for the opening Test against South Africa will be taken on the morning of the match on Friday,” it added.

Left-handed batsman Dhawan hit the nets at the morning training session at the Newlands Stadium on Wednesday as he recovered from an ankle injury. The injury was deemed “minor”.

Dhawan is fit and is available for selection for the first Test.

India have three options for the opening batting roles. Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul are the other two openers in the squad.

India squad for the three-match Test series: Virat Kohli (captain), Murali Vijay, Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

IANS

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FIFA World Cup: Ronaldo fires Portugal to 1-0 victory over Morocco

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Moscow, June 21: Cristiano Ronaldo became Europe’s all-time leading scorer as Portugal beat Morocco 1-0 in their FIFA World Cup Group B match here at the Luzhniki Stadium here on Wednesday.

Ronaldo sent Portugal ahead in the fourth minute by outmuscling his marker and firing in a bullet header after a Joao Moutinho corner at Luzhniki Stadium, reports Xinhua news agency.

The 33-year-old Real Madrid star has now scored 85 international goals, surpassing the mark held by Hungary legend Ferenc Puskas.

His strike here followed a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain in their opening World Cup match on Friday.

This result all but eliminates Morocco from the tournament while Portugal are almost guaranteed of a berth in the knockout stage, even before their last group fixture against Iran on Monday.

It was not a vintage performance from Portugal as the reigning European champions seemed content to allow Morocco to control possession while creating few chances on the counterattack.

Fortunately for Fernando Santos’s men, the African side’s lack of quality in the final third proved telling as a number of chances went begging.

Ronaldo’s strike gave his team the perfect start and the Portugal captain nearly made it 2-0 minutes later by rolling the ball back under his foot, turning and shooting just wide of the left post.

Despite trailing, Morocco looked the better team for large parts of the first half as they dictated possession but struggled to find a cutting edge in attack.

Younes Belhanda, Noureddine Amrabat and Karim El Ahmadi orchestrated play through the middle but their teammates were guilty of spurning a number of gilt-edged chances.

Khalid Boutaib directed a header straight at goalkeeper Rui Patricio and Mbark Boussoufa just failed to reach a Nabil Dirar cross before being crowded out by Portugal’s defence.

Morocco’s best chance of the first half arguably came in stoppage time when Belhanda’s flick-on from a set piece almost allowed Benatia to head in at the far post.

Herve Renard’s side continued to hold the initiative after the break. Belhanda shot straight at Patricio after being fed by Amrabat on the left and Belhanda’s towering header from a free-kick then forced a superb diving save from Patricio.

Santos replaced Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva with Sporting Lisbon’s Gelson Martins on the hour mark in a bid to capitailze on open spaces left by Morocco’s high defensive line.

But chances continued to fall for Morocco. Benatia twice blazed over after deftly controlling set pieces that were floated into the area and Hakim Ziyach saw his attempt from close range sail over after being partially blocked.

IANS

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FIFA World Cup: Scrappy Spain ride Costa goal to down gritty Iran 1-0

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Kazan, June 21: Diego Costa scored a scrappy second-half winner to help Spain edge past doughty Iran in a key Group B FIFA World Cup game here on Wednesday.

After a barren first-half where Spain were left frustrated as Iran defended brilliantly, Costa (54th) broke the deadlock albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

Costa’s neat turn and quick shot took a deflection off Iranian defender Ramin Rezaeian to beat goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Iran tried to launch a comeback and almost equalised when Saeid Ezatolahi’s goal was correctly ruled out because of offside by Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Vigliano Mauro.

Karim Ansarifard also rifled into the side netting for the Asian side as Spain were on the tenterhooks for most parts of the second-half.

This was Costa’s third goal of the tournament after netting a brace in Spain’s rip-roaring 3-3 draw against Portugal in the group opener.

Spain are now level on points with Portugal in Group B, while Iran are in third and Morocco are eliminated following their loss earlier in the day.

In need of a win after the draw, Spain had to wait for more than 20 minutes to get their first shot on target.

David Silva, who saw a lot of the ball until then as his team dominated possession, sent a free kick straight into the arms of keeper Beiranvand in the 25th minute for Spain’s first shot on goal.

Manchester City’s Silva had at least a couple of more chances to draw first blood. First, he fired over the bar at the half-hour mark and in the dying minutes of the half saw his shot bounce just wide of the far post off an Iranian defender.

With just one shot on target, Spain were bottled up throughout the half by a sturdy Iran defence.

Spain looked to up the ante after change of ends with Sergio Busquets unleashing a rasping long-range strike that forced Beiranvand into a brilliant double save.

Minutes later, Ansarifard latched onto a poor clearance and let loose a stinging effort that fizzed wide of the left post.

Costa then was in the right spot at the right time to swivel sharply and then get the lucky deflection to break Iran hearts.

IANS

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Uruguay bank on experience as Saudis cling to World Cup dream

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FIFA World cup

Rostov-on-Don (Russia), June 20: Experience will be the key when Uruguay look to seal their place in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup against Saudi Arabia here on Wednesday.

Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Egypt in their opening match means beating Saudi Arabia would leave Uruguay with six points and allow them to book their place in the knockout phase as long as Egypt does not beat Russia on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Uruguay disappointed against a rugged Egypt side in their first game, needing a late header from Jose Gimenez to seal the win and veteran coach Oscar Tavarez is expected to make changes with Carlos Sanchez and ‘Cebolla’ Rodriguez expected to start.

Rodriguez is an excellent provider, while Sanchez is a box-to-box midfielder with a habit of getting into the rival penalty area at the right time, and the pair should give more punch to a side which struggled to create chances against Egypt as Luis Suarez looked heavy and off the pace.

As well as boosting his options in front of goal, Tavarez’s changes mean he will have seven players aged 30 or more in his starting 11 ( Fernando Muslera (32), Diego Godin (32), Martin Caceres (31), Carlos Sanchez (33), Cristian Rodriguez (32), Luis Suarez (31) y Edinson Cavani (31)); and in theory Uruguay should be too strong for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia landed here after a frightening journey in which one of the engines on the aircraft which flew them in from Saint Petersburg caught fire.

The Saudi players were strongly criticised for their performance in their 0-5 defeat to Russia in their opening match in the World Cup, with one top official accusing them of making “just 5 percent effort.”

Saudi Arabia enjoyed 60 percent possession against Russia but failed to have a single shot on target and were pulled apart on the break. It remains to be seen whether this was due to ‘stage fright’ caused by meeting the pumped-up hosts (and their fervent fans) in the first game of the tournament, or from a lack of quality and concentration.

Coach Pizzi now has the task of ensuring his players focus on a game where anything other than a win will mean they suffer the ignominy of being one of the first teams to be knocked out of the tournament. And after becoming Saudi Arabia’s third first team coach in a three-month spell when he was appointed in November last year, he also knows what the price of failure is likely to be.

IANS

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