Kohli’s century not enough as Bangalore eliminated from IPL, Mumbai through to playoffs

Royal Challengers Bangalore's Anuj Rawat reacts as his teammate Virat Kohli, right, finishes his century during the Indian Premier League cricket match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Titans in Bengaluru, India, Sunday, May 21, 2023. (Photo courtesy: AP)
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Updated 22 May 2023

Kohli’s century not enough as Bangalore eliminated from IPL, Mumbai through to playoffs

  • Gujarat Titans opener Shubman Gill’s century outdoes Virat Kohli’s successive ton
  • Gujarat topped the league with 20 points, will take on Chennai Super Kings in first playoff

MUMBAI: Gujarat Titans opener Shubman Gill hit a superb century to outdo Virat Kohli’s second successive ton as Royal Challengers Bangalore were eliminated from the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

Bangalore had to win the final IPL game in the league stage to claim the last available playoff spot, but Gill followed his century against Sunrisers Hyderabad with an unbeaten 104 off 52 balls as Gujarat reached 198-4 with five balls to spare for a six-wicket win.

Kohli with 101 not out — his record seventh century in the IPL — had earlier anchored Bangalore to 197-5 but Gill powered Gujarat’s run chase by hitting eight sixes and five fours.

“It’s all about getting a start and converting it into a big one,” Gill said. “Thankfully it’s working out for me in the business end (of the tournament). You have to keep applying yourself, that’s important.”

Bangalore’s loss meant Mumbai sealed the final playoff spot after all-rounder Cameron Green had cracked a belligerent unbeaten century off 47 balls in Mumbai’s all-important eight-wicket win against Hyderabad earlier Sunday.

Gujarat topped the league with 20 points and will take on second-place Chennai Super Kings in the first playoff on Tuesday with the winner advancing directly to next Sunday’s final.

Mumbai will meet third-place Lucknow Super Giants in the second playoff game on Wednesday. The loser of the first playoff will get another chance for a place in the final when it takes on the winner of the second playoff on Friday.

Gill defied the data favoring teams batting first and winning at Bangalore in the recent past with his superb stroke play and he combined well with impact player Vijay Shankar, who scored 53 off 35 balls.

Gill and Shankar put on a match-winning 123 runs for the second wicket. Gill raised the victory and also completed his second successive century with a straight six off Wayne Parnell in the final over.

Bangalore finished sixth in the standings with 14 points, behind Rajasthan Royals also on 14 points but with a better net run-rate.

After the start was delayed by nearly an hour because of rain, Kohli and captain Faf du Plessis combined in a 67-run opening stand off 43 balls.

But Gujarat spinner Noor Ahmad (2-39) and Rashid Khan (1-24) squeezed the runs in the middle overs as Kohli raised his half century off 35 balls.

Kohli upped the scoring rate in the death overs with his superb drives on both sides of the wicket and became the first batter in IPL history to score seven centuries.

Kohli followed his century against Hyderabad three days ago when he scooped Mohit Sharma (0-54) to long on in the final over for a single to raise his hundred off 60 balls only to see Gill’s brilliance take the win away from his team.


All-rounder Green finally scored big in the most important game for Mumbai.

Green had struggled with only two half centuries in the previous 13 games but finally struck form with 100 not out as he anchored Mumbai to 201-2 with two overs to spare.

“We came with the mindset to win and not worry what happens elsewhere,” Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma said. “Even if we don’t go through, we got ourselves to blame. If we do, (the) boys get credit.”

Asked to bat first, Hyderabad couldn’t capitalize on a blistering start of 140 between the opening pair of Mayank Agarwal (83) and Vivrant Sharma (69) before finishing on 200-5.

Last-place Hyderabad finished with four wins and 10 defeats.

Fast bowler Akash Madhwal put on the brakes with 4-37 in the latter half of the innings as he dismissed Sharma off a mistimed pull and then found the edge of Agarwal’s bat before knocking back the stumps of Heinrich Klaasen and Harry Brook.

Madhwal’s brilliant bowling helped Mumbai pull back nicely in the death overs. It conceded only 43 runs in the last five overs.

Green struck eight sixes and eight fours in a dominant 128-run stand with Sharma, who made 56 off 37 balls after getting dropped twice.

Both batters were aggressive against impact player Kartik Tyagi and pacer Umran Malik as the two bowlers conceded 82 runs off 5.5 overs between them. Malik was wayward in his line and length while Tyagi was also off the mark, giving plenty of opportunities to batters to go for big shots as Mumbai motored to victory.

“Not the campaign we hoped for,” Hyderabad skipper Aiden Markram said. “Lot of learnings along the way.”

Pakistan open to welcoming Mohammad Amir to World Cup squad — chief selector

Updated 22 September 2023

Pakistan open to welcoming Mohammad Amir to World Cup squad — chief selector

  • Fast bowler retired from international cricket in 2020 citing discrimination, ‘mental torture’
  • Chief selector says if Amir to be considered for World Cup is willing to play domestic cricket

ISLAMABAD: Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said on Friday Pakistan was ‘open’ to the possibility of welcoming former fast bowler Mohammad Amir back into the squad ahead of the World Cup if he consistently performed well in domestic competitions.
Amir announced his retirement from international cricket at the age of 28 in December 2020, claiming he could no longer play in an atmosphere where he did not feel welcome in the national team.
Amir, who was jailed in 2011 for his part in a spot-fixing scandal, served three months in prison and a five-year ban from all forms of cricket before returning to the Pakistan squad in January 2016.
The left-arm bowler excelled in limited-overs cricket after that, helping Pakistan to the Champions Trophy title in 2017, but was dropped from the squad to tour New Zealand in 2020.
Questioned about the chance of Amir returning to the squad for the upcoming cricket World Cup starting next month in India, the chief selector said “the doors are open for everyone, including Amir.”
“Aamir is a great cricketer and he had decided to retire,” the official said.
“If he wants to play for Pakistan, the doors are open for everyone. If he comes back and plays first-class cricket and performs well, he will definitely be considered … I have said this before, neither the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) nor the selection committee closes the door [of opportunity] for anyone.”

In an interview with a local news channel when he retired, Amir said he had been “mentally tortured by the team management, subjected to frequent taunts, and felt deliberately sidelined.” 
Asked if he was leaving the sport altogether he said: “No, I’m not going away from cricket. If you have seen the atmosphere here and the way I’ve been sidelined, I got a wake-up call when I was not selected in the 35-man squad,” Amir had told Samaa TV.
“I don’t think I can play cricket under this management. I think I should leave cricket this time. I am being tortured mentally. I don’t think I can tolerate any more torture now.
“I’ve experienced a lot of torture from 2010 to 2015. I was away from the game and sentenced for my mistake. I’m being tortured again and again...”
Amir, who has 259 wickets across all formats, had retired from test cricket in 2019 to focus on the white-ball game.
He was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers in the 2019 50-overs World Cup in England with 17 wickets as they missed out on a semifinal spot.

LIV Golf Jeddah to stage regular season finale next month

Updated 22 September 2023

LIV Golf Jeddah to stage regular season finale next month

  • Individual and team titles, and 2024 league spots all on the line at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from Oct. 13-15

JEDDAH: LIV Golf makes its highly anticipated return to Royal Greens Golf & Country Club here from Oct. 13 to 15, when the league’s 2023 regular season will reach its conclusion and set the stage for the Team Championship — and the future for many golfers.

The event marks the 13th tournament of the league’s first full season. There are 13 major winners who will compete in King Abdullah Economic City, including 2023 PGA Championship winner and 2023 US Ryder Cup Team selection Brooks Koepka, 2022 Open Champion Cameron Smith, World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau, and two-time major winners Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer.

There will be much to play for amongst those atop the individual standings. Those further down the standings face a battle to secure their future, with players ranked 45 and below in the “Drop Zone” at season’s end facing relegation and losing their LIV Golf status for next year.

Smith currently leads the individual standings with 170 points after wins in London and Bedminster. In-form American Talor Gooch (149), a three-time individual champion this season, is in hot pursuit of the Australian. They are followed by seven contenders including 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah winner Koepka, 4Aces GC captain Johnson and Crushers GC captain DeChambeau, who shot a sensational 58 at LIV Golf Greenbrier earlier this year.

Those who finish in the top 24 in the overall standings will lock-in their position in the LIV Golf League for next season. Players finishing in the “Open Zone,” positions 25 to 44, however, may face trade or release by their respective teams. Meanwhile, those finishing in positions 45 and below sitting in the “Drop Zone” will be relegated and automatically qualify for the league’s promotional tournament, where they will have the opportunity to earn their spot back for the 2024 season.

Aside from the individual race, each player in the 48-man field has good reason to make their scores count, as the final team standings following LIV Golf Jeddah will determine seeds one to 12 for the LIV Golf Team Championship in Miami the following week, with the top four teams receiving first-round byes.

Through 11 events, 4Aces GC — featuring Johnson, Reed, Peter Uihlein and Pat Perez — sit atop the team standings with 172 points after wins in Adelaide and London. Torque GC, featuring Chilean stars Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira, Colombian Sebastian Munoz, and Spanish rookie David Puig, trail closely behind with 163 total points following wins in Orlando, D.C., Andalucia and Greenbrier.

The all-South African Stinger GC featuring major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Dean Burmester, currently sit in third place with 156 points. DeChambeau’s Crushers GC (146 points), including Paul Casey, Charles Howell III and Anirban Lahiri, hold a three-point edge in fourth place over RangeGoats GC (143 points). They boast five top-three finishes this season thanks to standout performances by Gooch, Harold Varner III, Thomas Pieters, and captain Watson.

Stunning Kante winner sees champions Al-Ittihad beat Al-Fateh and return to Saudi Pro League summit

Updated 22 September 2023

Stunning Kante winner sees champions Al-Ittihad beat Al-Fateh and return to Saudi Pro League summit

  • 2-1 home victory means the Jeddah club leapfrogs Al-Hilal, who drew 1-1 with Damac, at the top of the table

Champions Al-Ittihad returned to the top of the Roshn Saudi League after a 2-1 comeback win over Al-Fateh at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah on Thursday night.

Marwane Saadane gave the visitors the lead after 30 minutes, before Al-Ittihad’s Brazilian star Romarinho equalized eight minutes later.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante gave the reigning champions the lead in stoppage time of the first half with a stunning strike, and there would be no addition to the scoreline in the second half.

The 2-1 win leaves Al-Ittihad top of the table with 18 points from seven matches, one more than Al-Hilal, who drew 1-1 with Damac. Al-Fateh remain on 11 points in seventh place.

Saudi Pro League history was made in stoppage time of the match when Ittihad coach Nuno Santo introduced 16-year-old Talal Haji for Romarinho, making him the youngest footballer to play in the competition since the adoption of its current system in the 2008-2009 season.


Naseem Shah is ruled out of the Cricket World Cup in a big injury blow for Pakistan

Updated 22 September 2023

Naseem Shah is ruled out of the Cricket World Cup in a big injury blow for Pakistan

  • Naseem sustained shoulder injury during Asia Cup in Sri Lanka
  • Shah was replaced by Hasan Ali in a 15-member squad

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan sustained a big blow after its ace pace bowler Naseem Shah was ruled out of the Cricket World Cup on Friday due to a right shoulder injury.
Naseem sustained the injury during the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. He was replaced by Hasan Ali in a 15-member squad announced on Friday. The World Cup starts on Oct. 5 in India.
Hasan played his last ODI in June last year against the West Indies but was dropped due to his indifferent form in 50-overs cricket.
“Hasan is an experienced bowler and has performed well in mega events in the past,” chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq said in Lahore while announcing the squad.
“We were forced to make one change because of an unfortunate injury to Naseem Shah. We needed someone who could bowl with the new ball. He (Hasan) bowls well with both old and new ball, and is a team man. His presence lends energy to the team.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board said Naseem has been advised to undergo surgery, following a thorough medical examination and consultations with leading medical experts and is expected to recover in three to four months. It means the mercurial fast bowler is certain to miss a test series against Australia after the World Cup.
There were doubts over the fitness of fast bowler Haris Rauf, who missed out the last Super 4 game against Sri Lanka after sustaining an injury during the game against India.
“We had a few injury scares in the recent Asia Cup, but I am glad to share that all the players are fully fit and are eager to perform for their country in the all-important tournament,” Inzamam said.
“I have received encouraging reports from our medical panel about Haris Rauf. He has started to (shadow) bowl at the National Cricket Academy and will be available for selection.”
The core of the Pakistan team is the same which competed in the recent Asia Cup under captain Babar Azam, but couldn’t qualify for the final after losing to archrival India and Sri Lanka in the Super 4 portion of the tournament.
Spin all-rounders Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz both retained their places in the side with leg-spinner Usama Mir as the other spin option for Pakistan. Pakistan didn’t tinker with its batting lineup with left-hander test specialist Saud Shakeel as the only surprise inclusion in the 15-member side.
Pakistan is scheduled to play two warm-up games against New Zealand and Australia before it takes on the Netherlands in its opening World Cup game on Oct. 6 at Hyderabad.
Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (captain), Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usama Mir. Reserves: Zaman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Haris.

Ronaldo and teammates don Saudi traditional attire in Nassr Saudi National Day video

Updated 22 September 2023

Ronaldo and teammates don Saudi traditional attire in Nassr Saudi National Day video

RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo once again takes center stage as Al-Nassr release a Saudi National Day video filled with traditional dances, swords and garments.

Nassr fans were delighted to see their stars partake in the festive mood in the Kingdom as the club dropped a fun early Friday morning video celebrating the occasion.

The country’s national day is celebrated each year on the Sept. 23 and falls on a weekend this year.

The video mixes glimpses of the club’s past successes and history with its forward-looking revival, with some of the best players on the planet donning the famous yellow jersey in the past year.

The video begins with a group of youngsters gatecrashing the club’s headquarters in Tuwaiq and catching first-team players getting ready for national day festivities.

In the 2 and half minute clip, Winger Abdulrahman Ghareeb and keeper Nawaf Alaqidi are shown preparing drums for the celebration. Goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah shares Arabic coffee with Otávio as the Portuguese midfielder gets a haircut for the occasion.

Talisca, the blond-haired Brazilian attacking midfielder, is seen in the video taking measurements for head coach Luis Castro’s new white thobe. Senegalese marksman Sadio Mané rests a sword on his shoulder as drumbeats resounding around him.

But it’s Ronaldo who takes center spot in the clip as he performs the Ardah with teammates Abdullah Alkhaibari, Mercelo Brozovic, and Sultan Al-Ghanam.

Ronaldo, one of the best known names in the sport, arrived in the Kingdom last year in a move that has led to a number of top players from European championships joining the Saudi Pro League over the summer.

Sports authorities in the Kingdom are aiming to make the SPL one of the biggest leagues in the world and have invested heavily to support that goal.