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FIFA World Cup 2018 : France Rides to World Cup Final on Defense’s Back

defender Samuel Umtiti lost his marker, a corner kick found his forehead, and he turned the ball into the net for the only goal in France’s 1-0 victory over Belgium.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — They talked about the attacking for two days before France played Belgium in a World Cup semifinal here, about Kylian Mbappé’s speed and Eden Hazard’s dribbling and Antoine Griezmann’s style and Kevin De Bruyne’s playmaking.

But France is back in the World Cup because of the simplest of things: defender Samuel Umtiti lost his marker, a corner kick found his forehead, and he turned the ball into the net for the only goal in France’s 1-0 victory over Belgium.

The goal, in the 51st minute, sent France to its first World Cup final since 2006, and gave it a chance to win the title for the first time since its one and only world championship, claimed on home soil in 1998.

France’s manager, Didier Deschamps, was the grinding midfield heart of that team, the player who did the hard work behind the flash of bigger stars like ZInedine Zidane. He has crafted a team that now draws comparisons to those French heroes — dangerous in attack, diligent in midfield, rock-solid in defense.

This France can only match that France, though, if it wins one more game. That will come Sunday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, the site of Wednesday’s second semifinal between Croatia and England.

Umtiti’s goal ensured France would be there. It came, seemingly, out of nothing: a corner won by France, the ball crossed in by Griezmann, Umtiti running to the near post to meet it. But, crucially, he had stepped away from his marker, Toby Alderweireld, just as the play began, and even though Marouane Fellaini arrived at the final moment to offer at least a token challenge, it was too late. Umtiti’s header sailed over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and France, outplayed for a large portion of the first half, suddenly had its destiny in its hands.

The goal gave the French a brief burst of energy, but they soon settled into the kind of practical, businesslike approach that was their manager’s calling card as a player. Raphael Varane and Umtiti cleared whatever balls were served into the penalty area, N’Golo Kanté smothered Eden Hazard every time he moved inside, and Hugo Lloris raced off his line to punch away anything that got past them and looked even remotely dangerous.

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Virat Kohli postpones sports awards for Pulwama martyrs

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Virat Kohli

New Delhi, Feb 16: The Virat Kohli Foundation announced on Saturday that the India skipper has decided to postpone the RP-SG Indian Sports Honours in honour of the 49 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers who were martyred in a terrorist attack in Kashmir recently.

“Virat Kohli annually rewards excellence in sports and nurtures promising athletes through the Virat Kohli foundation. The RP-SG Indian Sports Honours that was supposed to happen tomorrow night has been postponed by Virat as a mark of respect to the CRPF jawans who were martyred at Pulwama by a tragic terror attack,” the foundation said in a statement.

Virat had also tweeted the about same on Friday.

The attack, one of the worst ever in the history of the terrorism in Kashmir, took place on February 14 when a suicide bomber ‘Adil Ahmad Dar’ rammed a vehicle laden with explosives into a bus full of CRPF personnel.

“The who’s who of entertainment and sports industry were supposed to be present for the award ceremony. Every partner and all the sport stars and delegates associated with this award have been informed and communicated with stating that hosting an event was unacceptable at this moment when India is mourning the death of its jawans,” the statement added.

“The Virat Kohli Foundation, an organisation dedicated to assisting the underprivileged sections of society, provides scholarships to promising young athletes, as well as individuals and initiatives that have promoted sport at the grassroot level.”

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IND vs AUS: Kohli returns as BCCI announces squad for ODI, T20 series

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Virat Kohli will lead India in the T20I and ODI series against Australia.

New Delhi, Feb 15: Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) on Friday announced the Indian squad for the upcoming series against Australia starting February 24.

Rookie leg-spinner Mayank Markande was opicked for the two-T20I series against Australia even as skipper Virat Kohli returned to lead the side following a break.

Kohli had sat out the final two ODIs and the three T20Is against New Zealand, but is back to lead the team in the entire series against the Kangaroos.

Keeping in mind the preparations for the upcoming ICC World Cup, the BCCI selectors named two different squads for the subsequent five-ODI series against the Australians.

The only difference between the squads is seasoned pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar returning to the 15-man squad for the final three matches, replacing Siddharth Kaul, who was included for the two T20Is and the first two 50-over games.

Wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik, who was part of the ODI squad in Australia and New Zealand, has not been included in the squad with Rishabh Pant getting a call-up.

The T20Is will be played on February 24 and February 27 in Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru, respectively, followed by the ODI series starting in Hyderabad on March 2.

Nagpur will host the second match on March 5, while Ranchi and Mohali will host the third and fourth games on March 8 and March 10, respectively. The final match will be played at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on March 13.

Squads:

For 1st and 2nd ODI: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohamed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Siddharth Kaul, KL Rahul.

For remaining 3 ODIs: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant.

For T20I series: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Sidharth Kaul, Mayank Markande.

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Pakistan Open golf to return after 10 years

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Imran Khan

Lahore, Feb 14: The Pakistan Open will return to the Asian golf circuit from March 27, following a 10-year hiatus, officials announced on Thursday.

The country’s national championship, which was inaugurated in 1967, will be held for the first time on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) at the highly-acclaimed Defence Raya Golf and Country Club offering a prize fund of $80,000.

“We are delighted to announce the return of the Pakistan Open for the first time since 2009. We are confident that the championship course will be in superb condition once again when we return next month,” Asian Tour Chief Operating Officer Cho Minn Thant said in a statement.

“I would also like to thank the Pakistan Golf Federation (PGF) for its outstanding support of the game. The tournament’s return is a massive step forward and we hope to inspire a new generation of golfers in Pakistan as we continue to strengthen the game across Asia,” Cho added.

The ADT, launched in 2010 as a gateway to the premier Asian Tour, first sanctioned an event in Pakistan in 2017, where Thailand’s Poosit Supupramai secured his breakthrough win here.

In 2018, the Asian Tour marked its return to Pakistan by staging an event in Karachi where Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand sealed his maiden victory.

The Pakistan Open was held previously on the premier Asian Tour where England’s Chris Rodgers and Malaysia’s Airil Rizman claimed their respective maiden wins in 2006 and 2007. The last edition was staged on the domestic circuit in 2009.

The Pakistan Open, jointly sanctioned by the PGF and the ADT, will feature an international field of 144 players, with 50 players from the ADT, 80 players from the PGF, nine invitees and five amateurs.

With the addition of the Pakistan Open in the 2019 ADT schedule, players will have another opportunity to boost their rankings on the Order of Merit and play their way on to the Asian Tour.

The leading seven players on the final ADT Order of Merit will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2020 season.

All ADT events are afforded with Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. The winner of each tournament receives a minimum of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

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