Dominant India complete 3-0 sweep against New Zealand

Members of the Indian cricket team with the winners trophy after their win in the third and last one-day international cricket match against New Zealand in Indore, India, Tuesday. India won the series 3-0. (AP)
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Updated 25 January 2023

Dominant India complete 3-0 sweep against New Zealand

  • India won the first ODI in Hyderabad by 16 runs and the second ODI in Raipur by eight wickets

INDORE, India: Powered by centuries from openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, India beat New Zealand by 90 runs on Tuesday to win the third one-day international and sweep the series.

Gill scored 112 runs off 78 balls and Sharma struck 101 off 85 as India piled up 385-9 in 50 overs.

In reply, Devon Conway scored 138 off 100 but it wasn’t enough as New Zealand were bowled out for 295 runs in 41.2 overs at Holkar Cricket Stadium. Shardul Thakur (3-45) and Kuldeep Yadav (3-62) did most of the damage.

The Black Caps lost the three-match series 3-0. India won the first ODI in Hyderabad by 16 runs and the second ODI in Raipur by eight wickets.

Put in to bat, the Indian openers shared an impressive stand of 212 runs in 26.1 overs.

It was the highest first-wicket partnership in ODIs against New Zealand, exceeding 201 runs by Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir for India in 2009.

Sharma reached 100 off 83 balls, his second-quickest ODI century. India’s skipper hit nine fours and six sixes for his 30th ODI hundred.

At the other end, Gill scored a third ODI hundred in four innings. He hit 13 fours and five sixes to reach the landmark off 72 balls.

Overall, Gill scored 360 runs in three innings against New Zealand. It was the joint-highest for any batsman in a bilateral three-match ODI series along with Pakistan’s Babar Azam against West Indies in 2016.

India then lost both openers in 12 deliveries, and continued losing wickets at regular intervals. From 230-2 in 28 overs, its last seven wickets added only 155 runs in 22 overs.

Hardik Pandya held anchor with a 38-ball 54 after Virat Kohli (36), Ishan Kishan (17) and Suryakumar Yadav (14) were out cheaply on a batting-friendly pitch.

Jacob Duffy took 3-100 in 10 overs, and Blair Tickner finished with 3-76.

Chasing 386, Pandya bowled Kiwi opener Finn Allen for a two-ball duck.

But Conway held his end to propel New Zealand’s innings. He scored 50 off 41 balls, and then accelerated to 100 off 71 balls, including seven fours and seven sixes.

Conway’s 138 was New Zealand’s third-highest ODI score against India. Overall, he hit 12 fours and eight sixes. Henry Nicholls scored 42 off 40 balls to put on 106 runs for the second wicket.

Thakur struck a double blow in the 26th over to remove Daryl Mitchell (24) and Tom Latham (0) off successive deliveries. He also dismissed Glenn Phillips for 5 to break New Zealand’s resolve.

Contributions from Mitchell Santner (34) and Michael Bracewell (26) were not enough to trouble India’s score.

Casemiro scores twice, Man United beats Reading in FA Cup

Updated 29 January 2023

Casemiro scores twice, Man United beats Reading in FA Cup

  • The Brazil international struck twice in four second-half minutes as United won against second-division Reading 3-1

MANCHESTER, England: Casemiro was a serial winner with Real Madrid and on Saturday he kept Manchester United’s trophy hunt going strong in the FA Cup.

The Brazil international struck twice in four second-half minutes as United won against second-division Reading 3-1 and progressed to the fifth round.

On Wednesday, Erik ten Hag’s improving team put a foot in the League Cup final by beating Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the first leg of the semifinals.

There is growing belief among United fans that a six-year wait for a trophy will come to an end this season, with the club also still in the Europa League where a much-anticipated clash with Barcelona is coming next month.

If Ten Hag is to lift silverware in his first season as manager, Casemiro will be pivotal to that success.

The midfielder won five Champions Leagues and three Spanish titles with Madrid but left last summer for a new challenge in England.

Ten Hag wanted to add his winning mentality to a team that had seen Manchester City and Liverpool dominate the Premier League in recent years. His influence was evident against a Reading team that withstood United’s dominance until the 54th minute.

It was a performance that underlined how much Casemiro was missed when he was suspended for the 3-2 loss to Arsenal last week, which left United 11 points behind the league leader.

With Casemiro in the starting lineup, United have lost only two of 21 games in all competitions, compared to four of 11 without him.

While he is better known as a midfield enforcer, he has showcased his other attributes in his short time at Old Trafford, including his impressive range of passing.

Against Reading, it was his clinical finishing that broke the visitor’s resistance.

First came a delicate chip to lift the ball over goalkeeper Joe Lumley after racing onto Antony’s pass into the box. Then, in the 58th, he let fly from around 25 meters to double United’s lead.

His mastery was evident when Reading forward Andy Carroll’s frustration boiled over and he was sent off for a second yellow card after a wild challenge on Casemiro in the 65th.

Another Brazilian, Fred, came off the bench to add a third for United with a backheel a minute later.

Amadou Mbengue scored a consolation for Reading, but there was never any danger of a comeback.

While they are fighting for survival in the league, Leeds, Leicester and Southampton are advancing in the cup.

Securing top-flight status remains the priority for all three, but the cup is providing welcome relief from their battles against relegation.

Leeds won against third-tier Accrington Stanley 3-1, Leicester overcame fourth-tier Walsall 1-0, and bottom-of-the-league Southampton won against second-division Blackpool 2-1 on Saturday.

Goals from Leeds’ Jack Harrison, Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra ended any chance of a miracle for Accrington in front of its home fans at Wham Stadium. Leslie Adekoya, however, gave them something to cheer with a late consolation goal.

It was only Leeds’ second win since Nov. 5, both of them coming in the FA Cup.

Leicester — cup winner in 2021 — needed a late goal from Kelechi Iheanacho to end Walsall’s resistance in a match that also saw Youri Tielemans miss a penalty.

Leicester’s only other win since Dec. 20 was in the previous round of the cup.

Romain Perraud scored twice in Southampton’s win. Charlie Patino pulled one back for Blackpool.

Sunderland 15-year-old substitute Christopher Rigg thought he scored a famous winner against the Premier League’s Fulham, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

Rigg struck in time added on at Craven Cottage, but the second division team’s celebrations were soon cut short.

Sunderland took an early lead through Jack Clarke, and Tom Cairney equalized for Fulham to set up a replay.

There will also be replays for Sheffield Wednesday and Fleetwood (1-1), Ipswich and Burnley (0-0), Luton and Grimsby (2-2) and Blackburn and Birmingham (2-2).

Second division Bristol City was through to fifth round after beating West Brom 3-0.

New Tottenham signing Arnaut Danjuma scored on his debut as Spurs beat Preston 3-0.

Danjuma, who has joined on loan from Villarreal, struck late on after going on as a substitute.

Heung-Min Son had already set Tottenham on course for the next round with two second-half goals.

Atletico hit out at Real Madrid ‘influence’ on referees

Updated 29 January 2023

Atletico hit out at Real Madrid ‘influence’ on referees

  • Atletico had Stefan Savic sent off in extra time in the 3-1 defeat but were angry that Ceballos was not shown a second yellow card in the second half of the regulation 90 minutes

MADRID: Atletico Madrid CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin complained that Real Madrid’s “huge influence” exerts pressure on Spanish referees after his side’s Copa del Rey defeat, a suggestion dismissed by the victors.

Los Blancos beat Atletico in the cup quarterfinal derby clash on Thursday night and Atletico were convinced that Dani Ceballos should have been sent off at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I have full respect for all the officials and I am convinced they always have the best of intentions, but anyone looking in from the outside can see that for decades the same thing almost always happens,” said Gil Marin in a statement. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise anybody anymore, it isn’t news. It’s very clear and you just have to look back at history.

“Madrid are a club with a huge influence, with a lot of interests around them. They create so much pressure that it’s normal that it affects the people who have to take decisions.”

The officials are “aware of what awaits them if they harm them with a mistake, or even if they get something right. We often see a campaign against whoever they believe has hurt them,” Gil Marin added

The Atletico boss said his club cannot change the “system” alone and that the color of a team’s shirt should not have an impact on fair decision-making.

Atletico had Stefan Savic sent off in extra time in the 3-1 defeat but were angry that Ceballos was not shown a second yellow card in the second half of the regulation 90 minutes.

“The second yellow was obvious, undoubtable,” Marin insisted.

“But at 1-0 down in the 71st minute, playing for the semis of the cup in their own stadium, it would be a big thing to leave Madrid with 10 players.”

Atletico, out of the Champions League and the Spanish Cup are languishing in fourth, 13 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, having played an extra game.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti dismissed Atletico’s concerns in a news conference on Saturday.

“It was a hard-fought, even game, I think for our part we deserved to win,” said the Italian.

“The rest is topics I won’t speak about. The only ‘system’ I know is the one that I will use tomorrow.”

Real Madrid, second in La Liga, face third place Real Sociedad on Sunday night.

Bayern held at home to Frankfurt after Kolo Muani goal

Updated 28 January 2023

Bayern held at home to Frankfurt after Kolo Muani goal

  • The result was Bayern's third consecutive 1-1 draw, with the reigning German champions still looking for their first win of 2023
  • Union Berlin's 2-0 derby win over city rivals Hertha earlier on Saturday meant Bayern's three-point cushion on top of the table had been erased by kick-off

BERLIN: Bayern Munich saw their lead in the Bundesliga cut to just one point on Saturday after Randal Kolo Muani’s equalizer held the German champions to a 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt.
The result was Bayern’s third consecutive 1-1 draw, with the reigning German champions still looking for their first win of 2023.
Union Berlin’s 2-0 derby win over city rivals Hertha earlier on Saturday meant Bayern’s three-point cushion on top of the table had been erased by kick-off.
Bayern lacked fluency early in a testy opening half, which saw both center-back Matthijs de Ligt and goalkeeper Yann Sommer pick up yellow cards.
With 34 minutes gone, former Man City forward Leroy Sane settled his team’s nerves by hammering a cross from veteran forward Thomas Mueller past the outstretched hand of Frankfurt ‘keeper Kevin Trapp.
After the goal, Bayern rekindled their early season form and produced their best spell of the match, with France defender Dayot Upamecano going close to doubling their lead just three minutes later.
Bayern continued to push for a second goal after the break but Frankfurt, who had only lost once in their previous 11 games in all competitions dating back to early October, looked dangerous on the break.
Eintracht coach Oliver Glasner brought on Japan international Daichi Kamada just past the hour and the change had an almost immediate impact, Kamada exchanging passes with Kolo Muani before the latter struck the ball past Sommer and into the net.
Earlier on Saturday, Union took the lead away to Hertha late in the first half through Dutch defender Danilho Doekhi, who headed in a free-kick from captain Christopher Trimmel.
Union doubled their lead halfway through the second half through midfielder Paul Seguin to run out victors over a spirited but toothless Hertha.
Visiting fans began singing “city champions” with 10 minutes remaining, celebrating their fifth consecutive derby win.
Union’s win deepened the woes of Hertha, who are second bottom having won just three games all season.
After the match, Union coach Urs Fischer sought to play down expectations, telling AFP’s sports subsidiary SID that his side “did not look like a top team.”
“It was a hard-fought derby. It was close over 90 minutes. In the end, we were lucky winners. We were efficient,” he said.
Elsewhere, Freiburg beat Augsburg 3-1 at home to move into fourth place.
First-half goals by towering Austrian striker Michael Gregoritsch and fellow forward Lucas Hoeler put Freiburg in the driving seat.
A 29th-minute penalty from Mergim Berisha gave the visitors hope, but Freiburg sealed their first win of 2023 through an 85th-minute strike from Philipp Lienhart.
In Bremen, Germany striker Niclas Fuellkrug scored both his side’s goals in a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg, overtaking RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku to top the Bundesliga scoring charts with 13 goals this season.
Promoted Bremen, who had lost six of their past eight matches came up against an in-form Wolfsburg who were unbeaten in 11 games under former Bayern coach Niko Kovac.
Borussia Moenchengladbach compounded Hoffenheim’s misery with a 4-1 away win.
Two first-half goals and a second-half assist for captain Lars Stindl from midfielder Jonas Hofmann, Gladbach’s only representative in Germany’s 2022 World Cup squad, gave the visitors a comfortable victory.
Hoffenheim suffered their sixth defeat in their last eight games, leaving them just three points clear of the relegation playoff spot.
Mainz overcame the disappointment of Wednesday’s last-gasp loss to Borussia Dortmund, thrashing Bochum 5-2 at home, their first win in seven league matches dating back to October.
A hat-trick from Austrian forward Karim Onisiwo, plus goals by Lee Jae-sung and Silvan Widmer lifted Mainz into 11th ahead of a midweek German Cup meeting at home with Bayern.

Pedri earns subdued Barca nervy derby win at Girona

Updated 28 January 2023

Pedri earns subdued Barca nervy derby win at Girona

  • Pedri netted the only goal from close range after an hour at an icy Montilivi on his 100th appearance for Barcelona
  • Despite the narrow margin of victory, Xavi believes his team is significantly stronger than when he took over in November 2021

GIRONA, Spain: Barcelona midfielder Pedri Gonzalez earned his side a tense 1-0 Catalan derby victory at Girona on Saturday, opening a six-point gap ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.
With Carlo Ancelotti’s side hosting high-flying Real Sociedad on Sunday, Barca put their rivals under pressure to get a result and keep up with them in the title race.
Pedri netted the only goal from close range after an hour at an icy Montilivi on his 100th appearance for Barcelona, after replacing the injured Ousmane Dembele.
The French forward limped off in the first half, pulling up after a sprint and asking to be replaced, a blow for Barcelona considering his superb recent form.
Barca coach Xavi Hernandez said the winger appeared to have a quadriceps injury.
Despite the narrow margin of victory, Xavi believes his team is significantly stronger than when he took over in November 2021.
“We have to be self-critical and improve in many ways, but we are happy, we have to look at where we came from,” Xavi told reporters.
“The change to the team and a lot of players is big, we have many things to improve on, but we’re on the right path.
“I think the (biggest difference) is the confidence of the players — when we arrived their confidence was on the floor.”
Defensively the Catalans have been strong, conceding just six league goals this season and winning their last three matches 1-0 — they are unbeaten in 13 consecutive matches across all competitions.
“I think at grounds like this you have to win, however you do it,” Barcelona defender Jules Kounde told DAZN.
“We can play better, but in these away games, against opponents playing well, winning is vital.
“I think keeping a clean sheet is key. The whole team works defensively, not just the back four. Everyone is working well.”

The league leaders were still without suspended Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, missing his final game after a three-match ban.
Girona created the first chance after just three minutes, Rodrigo Riquelme’s smooth through ball feeding Yan Couto, whose shot was blocked.
Dembele also had an effort deflected away at the other end after Ansu Fati won the ball from goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga.
The French winger, who fired Barcelona into the Copa del Rey semifinals against Real Sociedad midweek, was forced off injured after 25 minutes.
Dembele’s first years at Barcelona were hampered by injuries but since Xavi’s arrival, the forward had been able to stay fit and firing.
Xavi brought on Jordi Alba for Marcos Alonso at the break and it made the difference for Barcelona, who had been sluggish.
The left-back set up Pedri’s opener with a cross from the left, tapped in by the Spaniard at the back post at the end of the first incisive move Barcelona had put together all game.
Pedri, whom Xavi had intended to rest, reached a century of appearances for Barca at just 20 years old and celebrated with his 15th goal for the club.
“I know I have to improve in front of goal (but) right now they are going in for me,” Pedri told DAZN.
Ronald Araujo headed a cross off his own goal line under pressure as Girona pushed for an equalizer, throwing men forward.
Ivan Martin missed a fine chance in stoppage time for the hosts as Barcelona lost all control of the game but survived a nervy finale to earn the win.
Girona also appealed for a penalty as Eric Garcia tangled with Cristhian Stuani in the area.
“There are situations in the box in which these tangles are given and sometimes not,” said Girona coach Michel, who was sent off in stoppage time for complaining about a foul by Frenkie de Jong.
“Today, the final result is not due to the refereeing performance, I prefer to say these games are won by the players.”
Earlier Cadiz climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win over Real Mallorca.

With West Asia Cup debut, Palestine team hopes to nurture sports talent at home

Updated 28 January 2023

With West Asia Cup debut, Palestine team hopes to nurture sports talent at home

  • The Palestinian baseball team is participating in the ongoing tournament in Pakistan with other nations
  • Palestinian players from US and Gaza Strip formed a team which was then invited to play in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Palestinian baseball team, which is currently in Pakistan to participate in the 15th West Asia Cup, aims to uplift the Palestinian people through sports, its members said on Friday, as they called for “freedom of movement” in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The seven-nation event, organized by the Pakistan Baseball Federation (PBF), is being held at the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad from January 27 till February 1. Apart from the host Pakistan, teams from Palestine, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan are participating in the event.
For most of the Palestinians, nothing comes easily, be it survival in the occupied territories or fulfilling their aspirations. However, the Palestinian baseball players, who are making their international debut, say they are “excited” to be a part of the tournament.
“We are using sports to uplift our people and show that there is humanity in our people. Our people deserve to be represented well, you know, our people deserve to have sports, freedom of movement,” Nader Ihmoud, a second baseman and designated hitter, told Arab News.
Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1948 has been a major issue and has had consequences for the Palestinians in every field.
To participate in the West Asia Cup, Palestinian players from the Gaza Strip and the United States came together to form a team. The squad, which was formed two and a half years ago but has been facing difficulties in practicing together, was invited to the tournament by the Baseball Federation of Asia.
“Most of our players are in the US and half in Gaza and imagine we can’t practice together. We should be able to practice together wherever we need but we can’t because of the occupation does what it does,” said Ihmoud, who lives in the US.
“You can ask Gaza people [teammates] how hard it was for them to come to this tournament. It should be very easy for me to travel to Gaza and play with my teammates but it’s not.”
Tariq Suboh, the Palestinian catcher, said with this tournament the team want to do their part to put Palestine on the international sports stage with an impact. “We want the world to know our community for athletics,” he maintained.
“The players have not been able to properly practice because of the community’s financial constraints and distances [from one state to another] but together we are ready to showcase our passion,” Suboh added.
“We hope this [tournament] is the start of a bright future of baseball in Palestine.”
The PBF has partnered with Baseball United, first-ever professional baseball league that helps develop the game across the Middle East and South Asia, to host the West Asia Cup, an official World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) tournament.
In a country where cricket is the most popular sport — played, watched and loved by people — Shah has been carrying forward the legacy of his father, the late Syed Khawar Shah, to promote baseball by representing Pakistan in several international tournaments.
The baseball governing body, founded in 1992, has been conducting several international tournaments including Asian Baseball Cup and Asian Baseball Championship.
In October last year, the Pakistani team represented the country at World Baseball Classic (WBC) Qualifiers in Panama City, bringing a game in spotlight with the rare participation, but lost the opening match against Argentina.
This was also the first time Pakistan scored a run in the WBC since its participation in 2016.
Speaking to Arab News, PBF President Syed Fakhar Ali Shah said the sports body aims to help participants play an international league being organized by Baseball United in Dubai in November.
“They [Baseball United] are saying they might give $5,000 to each player if they join the league,” Shah added.