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West Indies qualify for 2019 Cricket World Cup

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Evin Lewis of West Indies

Harare (Zimbabwe), March 21: Rain came to the rescue of the West Windies, who qualified for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup after defeating defending champions Scotland by five runs via the Duckworth-Lewis (DL) Method in a Super Six fixture of the World Cup Qualifier here on Wednesday.

Scotland, chasing 199 for a place in the World Cup, were 125 for five in 35.2 overs when a heavy downpour prevented further play in the match. When play was called off, Scotland needed 74 runs in just over 14 overs at the Harare Sports Club.

While the result ended Scotland’s hopes of featuring in their second successive World Cup and fourth overall since 1999, Afghanistan and Ireland are now back in contention if rain affects Thursday’s match between the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

If there is no result, then net run-rate will determine the second qualifier behind the Windies.

In the Super Six winner-takes-all match, the Windies, put in to bat, lost Chris Gayle on the very first ball of the match, his seventh career golden duck, and then saw Shai Hope return to the pavilion 12 balls later to slip to two for two.

Evin Lewis (66, 87b, 7×4, 2×6) and Marlon Samuels (51, 98b, 4×4) revived the Windies’ innings by adding 121 runs for the third wicket in 168 balls. But Lewis departed and 12 runs later Samuels and Shimron Hetmyer also returned to the hut.

The Windies innings was wrapped up for 198 in 48.4 overs, with the last eight wickets falling for just 75 runs in close to 18 overs.

Scotland bowlers maintained a very discipline line and length as is evident from the fact that they delivered 174 dot balls and conceded just 12 fours and three sixes. The most impressive of the lot was 26-year-old Safyaan Sharif who picked up the prized scalps of Gayle, Hope and Rovman Powell conceding 27 runs.

Brad Wheal also rose to the occasion and bowled his heart out, to be rewarded with figures of three for 34, while off-spinner Michael Leask snapped up the wickets of Samuels and Hetmyer off successive deliveries to finish with two for 36.

The Windies needed quick wickets to not only qualify for the World Cup but also end Scotland’s dreams of featuring in the ICC’s pinnacle 50-over event for the second successive time and fourth since 1999.

And Kemar Roach obliged Jason Holder by accounting for the in-form Kyle Coetzer and Michael Jones, while the captain dismissed Matthew Cross as Scotland slipped to 25 for three.

The Windies, sniffing a win, continued to apply pressure and were eventually rewarded at the score of 67 in the third over when Ashley Nurse brilliantly caught Calum MacLeod (21) off his own bowling to end the 42-run resistance and then dismissed Berrington (33) was adjudged leg before as Scotland slipped to 105 for five.

George Munsey lived dangerously for his 32 not out and kept Scotland in the hunt for a place in the World Cup as they reached 125 for five before Mother Nature smiled on the two-time former world champions as rain came down in force to end any chances of resumption.

The victory by five runs meant the Windies finished the Super Six with maximum eight points and not only qualified for the World Cup but also qualified for the March 25 final where they will meet the other qualifier.

Brief scores: Windies: 198 all out in 48.4 overs (Evin Lewis 66, Marlon Samuels 51, Carlos Brathwaite 24; Safyaan Sharif 3/27, Brad Wheal 3/34, Michael Leask 2/36) vs Scotland 125-5 in 35.2 overs (Richie Berrington 33, George Munsey 32 not out, Calum MacLeod 21; Kemar Roach 2-20, Ashley Nurse 2-35). Windies beat Scotland by five runs via Duckworth-Lewis Method.

IANS

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Ozil quits international football amid furore over photo with Erdogan

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Mesut Ozil with Tayyip Erdogan

Berlin, July 23 (IANS) Germany’s attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil announced his retirement from international football on Sunday, a month-and-a-half after his photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked a controversy.

The 29-year-old Ozil, a cornerstone of Germany under coach Joachim Low, announced his decision on Twitter, after defending the photo taken with Erdogan and Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan in May, reports Efe.

“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level whilst I have this feeling of racism and disrespect. I used to wear the German shirt with such pride and excitement but now I don’t,” the Arsenal star said.

“This decision has been extremely difficult to make because I have always given everything for my teammates, the coaching staff and the good people of Germany. But when high-ranking officials of the DFB (the German football federation) treat me as they did, disrespect my Turkish roots and selfishly turn me into a political propaganda, then enough is enough,a he added.

The photograph was interpreted by some critics as Ozil’s explicit support for Erdogan’s re-election campaign amid ongoing tense relations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Having a picture with president Erdogan wasn’t about politics or elections. It was about me respecting the highest office of my family’s country,” Ozil said in a lengthy statement on his official Twitter account earlier in the day.

Ozil is considered a symbol of integration in Germany, where people of Turkish descent make up the biggest immigrant community, numbering 3.5 million, half of whom retain their right to vote in Turkey.

Ozil slammed DFB president Reinhard Grindel, who he accused of trying to benefit his own political views. He also accused the DFB president of racism.

“I know that Grindel wanted me out the team after the picture, and publicised his view on Twitter without any thinking or consultation, but Low and (director) Oliver Bierhoff stood up for me and backed me,” he revealed.

“In the eyes of Grindel and his supporters, I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.”

Low decided to keep both players on his 2018 FIFA World Cup squad even though fans raised doubts about Ozil’s loyalty to the German national team.

The controversy haunted both players during the World Cup and Germany’s early exit from the tournament added fuel to the fire.

“Are there criteria for being fully German that I do not fit?” Ozil asked. “My friend Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are never referred to as German-Polish, so why am I German-Turkish? Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim?”

Since his debut in 2009, Ozil has appeared in 92 matches for Germany’s national team, scoring 23 goals. He was part of Germany’s World Cup-winning squad in 2014.A

Ozil was also part of the German squads which reached the semi-finals of 2014 World Cup and two European Championships in 2012 and 2016.

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Sprinter Anas sets new national record

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Muhammed-Anas

Prague, July 21 (IANS) India’s star sprinter Muhammed Anas reset the national record on his way to the gold medal in the men’s 400 metre category at the Cena Noveho Mesta nad Metuji meet here on Saturday.

Anas clocked a time of 45.24 seconds to break his own record of 45.31, set at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year where he finished fourth.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) took to social media to congratulate Anas.

“Congrats Mohd. ANAS for breaking his own 400m #Indian record in #Czech Rep. New Record-45.24s, Previous Best-45.31s Congrats coach Galina Bukharina for success of #HimaDas and #Anas!,” the AFI wrote on Twitter.

Anas had broken the national record earlier as well when he clocked 45.40 seconds at the Polish Athletics Championship in June 2016. That performance saw the Kerala athlete become the third Indian after the legendary Milkha Singh and K.M. Binu to qualify for the Olympics in the men’s 400m category.

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Hockey World Cup: Indian women’s team to face hosts England

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India vs England Womens Hockey

London, July 21: The mood among the Indian women’s hockey team is upbeat as they are set to take on hosts England in their opening match of the World Cup here on Saturday.

India, grouped in Pool B, will take on World No.16 Ireland on 26 July followed by World No.7 US on 29 July apart from facing the Olympic Champions England in their home ground on the opening day of the prestigious tournament.

“The pressure will be on England and not on us,” asserted Indian Team skipper Rani Rampal on the eve of the match.

“Yes they will have the home ground advantage but we are not new to playing in front of big crowds. We have done well against England before and we will carry the confidence of doing well in our recent tournaments including the CWG where we had tasted victory against England in the Group Stage in Gold Coast.

“We will go into the match with the belief that we can beat them. We just need to make sure we don’t make silly mistakes like we did in the Bronze Medal match at the CWG which cost us the game,” Rani added .

India’s previous appearance at the FIH World Cup was in 2010 when the event was held in Argentina.

Rani then was the cynosure of India’s ninth-place performance as she had scored maximum of seven goals for the team during the course of the tournament.

While there will be a lot riding on Rani during the World Cup 2018 too, she has a unit that has shown confidence-inspiring performance over the past two years where India even climbed to a career-best ranking of World No.10.

After having arrived in London a week prior to the start of the tournament, the Indian Team has had good training sessions at the event venue Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium including two practice matches against Australia and Belgium.

“We have had good match practice against two of the top teams in the World. The team is upbeat and excited ahead of the first match and right now, our only focus is to do well against England. We have played USA and Ireland too in the past and have specific game plan against them. But for now, our focus is on the first match,” Rani said.

IANS

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