The last teams standing: India takes on Australia in the Cricket World Cup final

Surya Kiran team of Indian Air Force performs aerobatic display over Narendra Modi stadium ahead of the final match of ICC Men's Cricket World Cup between India and Australia in Ahmedabad, India, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 18 November 2023
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The last teams standing: India takes on Australia in the Cricket World Cup final

  • The final will be played at Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket venue with a seating capacity of 132,000 
  • The stadium, commissioned in 2015 and built for tournament final eight years later, will likely set an attendance record 

AHMEDEBAD: India, a country of 1.4 billion people, will come to a virtual standstill on Sunday when its cricket team led by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli takes on five-time champion Australia in the Cricket World Cup final.
It will be played at Narendra Modi Stadium, the world’s largest cricket venue with a seating capacity of 132,000. It was commissioned in 2015 and built with the purpose of hosting the tournament final eight years later. In the process it will likely set a world cricket attendance record.
From Chennai to Dharamsala and Mumbai to Kolkata, India has played in front of partisan crowds during the six-week tournament. The home side has channeled that weight of expectations and pressure to win nine consecutive games — the only unbeaten team.
Kohli, not surprisingly, has been the focal point for this Indian performance. Now the foremost one-day international batter in history with 50 centuries, he has scored 711 runs in 10 innings at average of 101.57. It is an insurmountable tally, with Sharma (550 runs) and Australia’s David Warner (528) well behind.
India’s dominance in this World Cup, however, has been underlined by its bowling attack. Mohammed Shami has been the leader — 23 wickets in only six games. And Shami wasn’t in contention for the first four games when India opted for Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur/Ravichandran Ashwin.
Pandya’s left ankle injury ruled the allrounder out of the tournament and made more room for Shami. Also helping India was Jasprit Bumrah, who took 18 wickets in 10 games, while spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav chipped in with 31 wickets between them.
India’s bowling has been so impressive that it has yet to chase any total over 273 runs in this tournament and restricted the opposition to sub-100 scores twice and under-200 scores two other times. Among them, Australia was bowled out for 199 in its tournament-opening match at Chennai on Oct. 8.
“The difference is our bowling attack,” said opener Shubman Gill. “Our bowlers have either defended the total or restricted the other team to a below-par score.”
Going for its sixth title, Australia is the most dominant side in World Cup history. It has lost two finals — to the West Indies in 1975 and to Sri Lanka in 1996. Now in its eighth final, it stands between India’s quest for a third title.
The two sides have a previous knockout history — they have met on two occasions. Australia beat India in the 2015 World Cup semifinal at Sydney, enroute to its fifth title. In 2011, Yuvraj Singh’s heroic half-century allowed the eventual championship-winning home side to beat Australia in the quarterfinals at Ahmedabad.
The 2003 final in Johannesburg was the last time the teams met in a championship match. Skipper Ricky Ponting smashed an unbeaten 140 off 121 balls as Australia won by 125 runs, amassing 359-2 before India surrendered meekly with 234-9.
Sharma will once again look to take the attack to Australia captain Pat Cummins and his fellow bowlers. Sharma especially loves short deliveries and has hit the most sixes in this tournament — 28.
Australia lost its first two games — to India and South Africa — and was in 10th and last place in the standings with no points on Oct. 15. Since, Warner, Mitchell Marsh (426 runs in nine games) and Adam Zampa (22 wickets) have been the cornerstones of its revival.
“It’s why we play the game, we want to take on the best,” Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc said after his team’s semifinal win over South Africa.
“India has been the best in the tournament so far and we both find ourselves in the final. We played them in the first game of the tournament, now we get to take them on in the last. What a place to be at the end of a World Cup.”


‘Excellent’ Bashir takes four wickets to put England on top

Updated 17 sec ago
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‘Excellent’ Bashir takes four wickets to put England on top

  • India were on the back foot at 219-7 on Day 2 of the fourth Test match
  • Bashir missed the opener due to visa delay and is playing his second Test

RANCHI, India: Spinner Shoaib Bashir took four wickets to lead England’s bowling charge and put India on the back foot at 219-7 on day two of the fourth Test on Saturday.

The rookie off-spinner rattled the Indian reply to England’s first innings of 353 in a marathon spell of 31 overs unchanged spread over three sessions in Ranchi.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhruv Jurel, on 30, and Kuldeep Yadav, on 17, were batting at the close of play with an unbeaten stand of 42 but India still trail the visitors by 134 runs.

The in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal made 73 but Bashir bowled him after the left-hander attempted to defend a low ball that caught the toe of the bat and crashed into the stumps.

Bashir, who missed the opener due to a visa delay and is playing his second Test, was ably supported by two wickets from fellow spinner Tom Hartley.

Joe Root hit an unbeaten 122 for England, who trail 2-1 and are fighting to stay alive in the five-match series.

But the day belonged to Bashir, who came on to bowl in the ninth over of India’s innings and remained unchanged from his end until Root replaced him shortly before stumps.

“I think he’s been excellent since he’s come into the squad,” Root said of the 20-year-old Bashir.

“The way he bowls is a great little insight into his character and personality, he is quite cheeky and great fun to be around,” he said.

“There’s clearly a huge amount of skill in what he does. To be able to continually put pressure on some very good players of spin, I know the wicket was helpful at times, but he did an amazing job and it’s a great sign for English cricket moving forward.”

Bashir removed Shubman Gill (38) and Rajat Patidar (17), both out lbw, and then had Ravindra Jadeja caught at short leg to put India in trouble at 131-4 at tea.

“I think they bowled well,” India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said of the opposition spinners. “Bashir bowled well. He has just kept it simple and picked up wickets for that.”

Mhambrey said Bashir “stuck to his strength, he’s not a big spinner, he is a tall guy, keeps his length, and keeps it simple. It’s the same for Hartley as well.”

Fast bowler James Anderson struck first to send back India skipper Rohit Sharma, caught for two before lunch, but the left-handed Jaiswal rebuilt the innings in an 82-run stand with Gill.

Jaiswal, who tops the series batting chart with 618 runs, including two match-winning double centuries in the second and third Tests, raised his bat to applause after reaching his fifty.

The 22-year-old hit 171 on debut in the West Indies last year and has since amassed 934 runs over eight Tests and 14 innings.

He survived a close call on 40 when he appeared to edge an Ollie Robinson delivery to Ben Foakes for a caught behind but the third umpire denied England’s appeal after many replays.

Anderson moved to 697 Test wickets in the first session after Root ran out of partners and England’s innings ended.

The 41-year-old is poised to become only the third bowler to take 700 wickets in Tests, after Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800) and the late Australian spin wizard Shane Warne (708).

England resumed on 302-7 and Root put on 102 runs with overnight partner Robinson, whose departure on 58 brought a quick end to the innings.
Jadeja returned figures of 4-67 with his left-arm spin and wiped out the tail.


US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race

Updated 24 February 2024
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US and local glory as Senor Buscador wins $20m Saudi Cup main race

  • 6-year-old, owned by Saudi Sharaf Mohammed S. Al-Hariri and American Joe R. Peacock Junior, won the race by a head

LONDON: Senor Buscador came from a long way back to win a dramatic Saudi Cup race on Saturday under jockey Junior Alvarado, beating Ushba Tesoro and Saudi Crown.

The 6-year-old, owned by Saudi Sharaf Mohammed S. Al-Hariri and American Joe R. Peacock Junior, won the race by a head to make up for a second-placed finish at the GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational last month.

The winning team take home half of the $20 million pot, with $3.5 million going to the Ushba Tesoro team and $2 million to the locally-owned Saudi Crown team.

“The plan, as of now, is Dubai,” winning trainer Todd Fincher said after the race at King Abdulaziz Racecourse, referencing the Dubai World Cup race set to run on March 30.

“I don’t have the words to put it all together that express how pleased and grateful I am for this victory and for representing my country and winning this race, I still don’t have the right words,” Alvarado told Arab News.

“He (Senor Buscador) had more speed just because some horses broke from different positions, I never like to change the style of the horse.

“I was in a good spot in the back just looking at everything just biding my time, letting him get his feet under, and he’s a horse that when he’s ready he will start letting you know, he will start picking up (pace) and after that you just start riding along with him,” he added.

Alvarado was full of praise for his charge and the King Abdulaziz track.

“It was a very exciting race, I think the best of the horses was running today, mine was one of the best horses and he proved it today that he was one of the top performers and one of those horses in the world,” he said.

“It’s definitely a different track, a different feeling, but the horses move out very well on it and it feels like probably top three one of the best tracks I’ve rode in the world for sure,” he added.

The first edition of the Saudi Cup race was held in 2020 and the event attracts the world’s finest thoroughbreds and jockeys for the biggest prize in world racing.


Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth

Updated 24 February 2024
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Foden strikes as title chasing Man City beat Bournemouth

  • With Liverpool in League Cup final action against Chelsea on Sunday, City took advantage to close the gap in their game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side
  • Foden netted in the first half at Dean Court and City survived a rocky second half to win for the 13th time in their last 14 games in all competitions

BOURNEMOUTH, UK: Phil Foden fired Manchester City to a 1-0 win against Bournemouth as the Premier League title chasers moved within one point of leaders Liverpool on Saturday.
With Liverpool in League Cup final action against Chelsea on Sunday, City took advantage to close the gap in their game in hand on Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Foden netted in the first half at Dean Court and City survived a rocky second half to win for the 13th time in their last 14 games in all competitions.
Chasing an unprecedented fourth succesive Premier League title, Pep Guardiola’s men weren’t at their best on the south coast but displayed the resolve required to grind out a vital victory.
While Liverpool remain in pole position, City are hot on their heels after extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 17 games since losing at Aston Villa in December.
City head to Luton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday before hosting Manchester United in a crucial league game next weekend.
Guardiola left Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, but City were quickly into their stride.
Foden flicked a pin-point pass to Erling Haaland, who swept toward goal only to misfire with a drive that whistled wide.
Bournemouth almost made Haaland pay for that miss when Milos Kerkez’s well-struck effort forced a fine save from Ederson.
But City were quickly back on the offensive as the live-wire Foden brought Bournemouth keeper Neto into action for the first time with a long-range blast.
It was a warning Bournemouth failed to heed as Foden put the visitors ahead in the 24th minute.
Haaland muscled his way into the penalty area and drilled a shot that Neto could only push out to Foden, who had the simple task of tapping into the empty net.
Foden’s 16th goal in all competitions this season was almost followed by a Bernardo Silva moment of magic when the City midfielder curled narrowly wide.
Bournemouth are without a league win in seven games since Boxing Day, but they recovered to give City a genuine scare.
Ederson saved well from Ryan Christie’s strike just before half-time and the Brazilian was called into action again immediately after the interval.
Justin Kluivert was given too much time and space outside the City area and the Bournemouth forward’s low drive was repelled by Ederson at full stretch.
After another narrow win against Brentford in midweek, Guardiola was again shifting uneasily on the touchline as Bournemouth grew in confidence.
Marcus Tavernier wasted a chance to equalize with a poor finish from Antoine Semenyo’s cross.
Tavernier was guilty of an even worse miss moments later, scuffing wide from 10 yards with the goal at his mercy.
Usually so unruffled, City were reeling for once, but Ederson preserved their lead with a superb save from Dominic Solanke’s header.
In his last action before being replaced by Julian Alvarez, Haaland’s powerful surge ended with a good save by Neto.
City were nervous right up to the final whistle, but Bournemouth’s Dango Ouattara squandered a good chance before Enes Unal’s header crept inches wide.


Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

Updated 24 February 2024
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Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

  • Qalandars gave 176-run target to the Kings, but it seemed slightly low for a batting track
  • Karachi struggled against Lahore’s pace attack, yet they reached the target in the last over

ISLAMABAD: The storied rivalry between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars culminated in an electrifying Pakistan Super League (PSL) showdown at Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, with the former’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss playing a crucial role in their two-wicket victory in the match.

The Qalandars faced an early setback when opener Fakhar Zaman was caught by Shan Masood with the team’s total at just 9. However, Sahibzada Farhan rose to the occasion with an unbeaten 72-run knock off 45 deliveries, including four 6s and four 4s.

Despite consistently losing wickets, Lahore managed to post 175/6 by the end of the first 20 overs. Contributions came from Rassie van der Dussen (26), Shai Hope (21) and George Linde (26), but the 176-run target seemed slightly low for the batting track.

Lahore’s pacers, however, put up a strong defense of the total, with all seasoned bowlers taking at least one wicket.

 

 

Zaman Khan stood out, dismissing two batters and finishing his four overs with an economy rate of 6.25.

The Kings faced challenges from Qalandar’s bowling but ultimately reached the 176-run target, clinching the match by two wickets.

Kieron Pollard was the standout batter for the Kings, scoring 58 runs off 33 balls.

“Pulled out a thriller,” Karachi exclaimed in a post on platform X. “Another win in the bag.”


Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig

Updated 24 February 2024
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Kane’s injury time goal saves Bayern against Leipzig

  • Bayern had lost three matches in a row for the first time in nine years
  • The win reduced the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen to eight points with 11 games left

BERLIN: Harry Kane scored two goals in the second-half, including an injury time winner, to snatch Bayern Munich a 2-1 home win over RB Leipzig on Saturday, ending the side’s worst run since 2015.
Bayern had lost three matches in a row for the first time in nine years before the club announced this week that coach Thomas Tuchel would leave in the summer.
Bayern captain Manuel Neuer told Sky “it might seem a bit like the good old Bayern luck, but we deserved to win today.”
The win reduced the gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen to eight points with 11 games left.
Neuer said Tuchel’s exit “cast a bad light on us as players, that we weren’t able to make it work with a top coach like Thomas Tuchel.
“It’s our mistake. We want to keep things going professionally until the end.”
Kane broke the deadlock midway through the first half but Leipzig hit back with 20 remaining minutes, Benjamin Sesko equalising for the visitors.
With Bayern in danger of conceding further ground to Leverkusen in the title race, Kane stepped up and scored in the first minute of injury time, his 27th league goal of the season.
Kane had a golden chance to release the pressure on the home side just five minutes in but his point-blank header was pushed onto the post by Janis Blaswich.
The England captain went close once more just before half-time but a bicycle kick was directed straight at Blaswich.
Kane finally broke through after 56 minutes, slamming a low shot into the Leipzig goal, his 26th strike in 23 games.
Leipzig, who had not lost to Bayern in the league in two years, pressured the German champions, breaking through after 70 minutes through Sesko.
Sesko collected a short Dani Olmo pass and drove his shot low, with the ball deflected by Leon Goretzka and rolling into the net.
The match looked set for a stalemate until Kane latched onto a pass from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, before volleying past Blaswich to seize a valuable win.
Stuttgart were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Cologne.
Stuttgart were without injured Brighton loanee Deniz Undav, who had scored five goals in his past four league games, picking up the slack from striker Serhou Guirassy, who has only recently returned to club action after the Africa Cup of Nations.
Stuttgart took the lead in the 53rd minute, Enzo Millot finishing off the type of well-worked team move which has become the hallmark of Sebastian Hoeness’ side this season.
Cologne drew level nine minutes later, though, Eric Martel tapping in after being left unmarked at the far post from a free-kick.
After needing to win a two-legged relegation play-off to stay in the top division last campaign, Stuttgart have been this season’s Bundesliga surprise packages and stay third as they bid to return to the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
A disappointed Stuttgart captain Waldemar Anton said: “If you want to play international football you have to come out on top in games like this.”
Elsewhere, Union Berlin drew 2-2 at home to Heidenheim.
The visitors forged ahead through Nikola Dovedan on just three minutes thanks to a defensive blunder.
Germany left-back Robin Gosens drew Union level in the 44th minute, sending an ungainly shot across the face of goal and into the net, moments before Andras Schafer gave the hosts the lead.
Heidenheim, who are surprisingly within touching distance of the European placings in their first top-flight season, equalized through Jan-Niklas Beste, who chipped the ball home after a counter-attack.
Borussia Moenchengladbach thumped Bochum 5-2 at home, picking up a crucial three points to move eight clear of the relegation play-off spot.
Darmstadt went within inches of a third win of the season, having two goals chalked off in the dying stages for offside and handball in a 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen.
The result keeps Darmstadt last on 13 points.