Cricket World Cup: Ten highlights from 2023 tournament

Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed celebrate their win in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 20 November 2023
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Cricket World Cup: Ten highlights from 2023 tournament

  • Cricket World Cup ended on Sunday with Australia toppling unbeaten India
  • Series saw huge totals, shock wins, heartbreaking losses, records and controversies

AHMEDABAD: After 46 days and 48 matches, huge totals, shock wins, heartbreaking losses, records and controversies, the Cricket World Cup ended on Sunday.
AFP Sport looks at 10 highlights from the 2023 tournament:




South African cricketers celebrate after winning the ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and Sri Lanka in New Delhi, India, on October 7, 2023. (AP)

The tournament was just two days old when South Africa’s Aiden Markram smashed the fastest World Cup century off 49 balls against Sri Lanka in New Delhi.
His team also entered the record books with the highest ever tournament total of 428 in a 102-run win. 
Markram’s blitz bettered the 50 balls Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien needed to hit a hundred against England in Bengaluru in 2011.
However, Markram said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if his record was beaten by the end of the tournament. He was proved right by Glenn Maxwell just 18 days later. 




Abdullah Shafique celebrates after scoring a century against Sri Lanka during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (AFP)

Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique made centuries as Pakistan chased down the highest target in World Cup history to beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in Hyderabad.
Rizwan overcame leg cramps to score 131 not out while Shafique hit 113 as Pakistan overhauled their 345-run target.
Sri Lanka’s imposing total of 344-9 was built around hundreds from Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama. 




Afghanistan players celebrate after defeating England in a ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match at Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi, India on October 15, 2023. (REUTERS)

Afghanistan pulled off one of the greatest World Cup shocks when they defeated defending champions England by 69 runs in New Delhi.
Chasing 285 to win, after opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz had hit a blistering 80, England were bowled out for 215 with spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan claiming three wickets each.
Eight days later in Chennai, Afghanistan chased down 283 to shock neighbors Pakistan with Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah and Gurbaz all scoring fifties.
In between, the Netherlands exploited South Africa’s dislike of chasing by stunning the Proteas by 38 runs in what Dutch media described as “the miracle of Dharamsala.” 




Australia's David Warner tosses the bat as he walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between Australia and Netherlands at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi, India, on October 25, 2023. (AFP)

Maxwell took Markram’s fastest World Cup century record by hitting a 40-ball hundred in Australia’s 309-run rout of the Netherlands at New Delhi. 
Australia made 399-8 before the Dutch were dismissed for just 90 in 21 overs. 
Maxwell’s ton was also the fourth fastest century in all ODIs. 




New Zealand's Lockie Ferguson, left, and Trent Boult shake hands with Australian players after they lost the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match against Australia in Dharamshala, India on October 28, 2023. (AP)

Australia edged out New Zealand by just five runs in the highest-scoring World Cup game in history in Dharamsala. 
Australia scored 388 as Travis Head top-scored with 109 and fellow opener David Warner made 81.
New Zealand battled hard with Rachin Ravindra making 116. 
With a total of 771 runs, it was the highest scoring game at a World Cup, beating the 754 scored in South Africa’s win against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. 




India's Mohammed Shami, left, celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews, center, during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023. (AP)

Mohammed Shami took five wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for just 55 as India secured a semifinal place with a colossal 302-run win in Mumbai.
Sri Lanka’s woeful innings featured five noughts, with both their openers falling for golden ducks as they flopped in pursuit of 358. 




Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews, foreground walks off the field after he was declared timed out during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in New Delhi, India, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. (AP)

Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews branded Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan as “disgraceful” after he became the first player in 146 years of international cricket to be given “timed out.”
Mathews was adjudged to be out after failing to take strike within the two-minute time limit when he came out to bat in New Delhi.
Shakib refused to withdraw the appeal.
“I had to take a decision to make sure that my team wins,” he said. 




Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrates after winning the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between Australia and Afghanistan at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on November 7, 2023. (AFP)

Australia captain Pat Cummins described it as “the greatest one-day innings ever played” as Glenn Maxwell’s stunning 201 not out guided Australia into the semifinals in a sensational three-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Mumbai.
At 91-7, chasing 292, Australia were staring at defeat before Maxwell’s 128-ball innings which featured 21 fours and 10 sixes as he became just the third batsman to score a World Cup double century.
He achieved the mark despite battling cramps and back spasms which meant he was reduced to hobbling pace while Afghanistan were left to rue Mujeeb Ur Rahman dropping a simple catch when Maxwell had made just 33.




India's Virat Kohli celebrates after reaching his 50th century, breaking Sachin Tendulkar's record of most number of ODI centuries, during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup first semifinal match between India and New Zealand in Mumbai on November 15, 2023. (REUTERS)

Virat Kohli scored a record 50th one-day international hundred in the semifinal win against New Zealand in Mumbai, hailing the landmark as being “like a dream.”
Kohli, 35, reached his century — his third of the tournament — with a two off fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, having faced 106 balls, hitting eight fours and a six, to break the record of 49 ODI hundreds he had shared with Sachin Tendulkar.
He did so on his former India team-mate’s home ground, with Tendulkar among those applauding at the Wankhede Stadium as Kohli bowed toward his childhood hero and fellow 2011 World Cup-winner.




Australia players celebrate with the trophy after Australia won the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup final match against India in Ahmedabad, India, on November 19, 2023. (AP)

Opening batsman Travis Head hit 137 and took a spectacular catch to dismiss Rohit Sharma to steer Australia to a six-wicket win over India in the final for a sixth World Cup title.
India were dismissed for 240 before Australia reached their target with seven overs to spare in front of over 90,000 fans in Ahmedabad.
“That’s huge, that’s the pinnacle in cricket, winning a World Cup, especially here in India, and these are the moments you remember for the rest of your life,” said skipper Pat Cummins.


Czech teenager Mensik stuns top seed Rublev at Qatar Open

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Czech teenager Mensik stuns top seed Rublev at Qatar Open

  • The 18-year-old came through 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) against the fifth-ranked Rublev, a day after defeating three-time Grand Slam title winner Andy Murray
  • Mensik will face 2018 champion Gael Monfils for a place in Saturday’s final after the veteran won an all-French affair by beating third seed Ugo Humbert 6-2, 6-4

DOHA: Czech teenager Jakub Mensik stunned top seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets at the Qatar Open on Thursday to reach his maiden ATP semifinal and guarantee a spot in the world’s top 100 for the first time.

The 18-year-old came through 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) against the fifth-ranked Rublev, a day after defeating three-time Grand Slam title winner Andy Murray.

“It’s just been an incredible week. From the beginning I played very well and I knew I could play with the big players. It’s an amazing feeling to reach the semifinals after beating those good players,” said wild card Mensik who arrived in the Gulf ranked at 116.

“But the job is not done yet. Hopefully I can play like this again in the semis and go on to make the final.”

With his one-hour, 38-minute win on Thursday, Mensik became the youngest player to defeat a top-five player since Carlos Alcaraz overcame Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open.

Mensik will face 2018 champion Gael Monfils for a place in Saturday’s final after the veteran won an all-French affair by beating third seed Ugo Humbert 6-2, 6-4.

Monfils is the oldest semifinalist in Qatar tournament history aged 37 years and five months.

The other semifinal will see Australia’s Alexei Popyrin face Russian second seed Karen Khachanov.

Popyrin eased past Kazakh fourth seed Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-4 while Khachanov went through when Finnish opponent Emil Ruusuvuori retired with a back injury after just three games.


Al-Hilal book Asian Champions League quarter-final clash with Saudi Pro League rivals Al-Ittihad

Updated 23 February 2024
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Al-Hilal book Asian Champions League quarter-final clash with Saudi Pro League rivals Al-Ittihad

  • After a scare when they fell behind to Sepahan of Iran, Al-Hilal rallied to win the game 3-1 and go through 6-2 on aggregate
  • With Al-Nassr winning on Wednesday and Al-Ittihad successful earlier on Thursday, Saudi Arabia has three teams in the last eight of the competition

Al-Hilal defeated Sepahan of Iran 6-2 on aggregate on Thursday to book a mouth-watering Asian Champions League quarter-final tie against Saudi Pro League rivals Al-Ittihad.

After winning the first leg 3-1 away from home last week, the four-time winners of the competition survived a scare in the second leg before comfortably clinching victory by the same scoreline.

This was a bit harsh on the visitors, who played their part in an entertaining and open clash during which both sides created plenty of chances. In the end, however, as Neymar watched from the stands, the Saudis progressed comfortably, helped along the way when Sepahan were reduced to 10 men while ahead in the second half.

Salem Al-Dawsari, making his 400th appearance for the club, got the equalizer in the 76th minute, after Farshad Ahmadzadeh put the visitors in front nine minutes after the break. With just seven minutes left on the clock, Ruben Neves came up with a spectacular strike that gave Al-Hilal the lead, and there was still time for Aleksandar Mitrovic to add a third.

In the end, it was a more comfortable result for Al-Hilal than looked likely in the 54th minute, when Ali Aarabi swung over a cross from the left and Ramin Rezaeian headed the ball back across the face of goal for Ahmadzadeh to bundle home from close range.

The sparked plenty of nerves among the home fans in the Kingdom Arena but they were able to breathe a little easier when, with 19 minutes remaining, the visitors were reduced to 10 men. Siavash Yazadni brought down Malcom as the Brazilian was running through on goal and, after a check with the video assistant referee, he was shown a straight red card.

Al-Hilal quickly took advantage of the one-man advantage when, five minutes later, Ali Al-Bulaihi found Al-Dawsari outside the area and the winger turned to beat two defenders, then stroked the ball home. At that point, the home fans could rest easy in the knowledge that their team were as good as through to the last eight.

It was a fine goal by Al-Dawsari but just six minutes later, Neves pulled something even more special out of the hat. The ball fell to the Portuguese star outside the area, he chested it down and volleyed home a curling shot that flew into the top corner.

In the final moments of added time, Mitrovic scored a goal that might not live as long in the memory but showed his killer instinct as he swept home a smart pass from Malcom to make it 3-1.

With Al-Nassr winning on Wednesday and Al-Ittihad successful earlier on Thursday, Saudi Arabia has three teams in the last eight of the competition. The showdown between Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal is the quarter-final tie that many fans, inside and outside the country, will be most looking forward to. The first leg is scheduled for March 5.


Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal

Updated 22 February 2024
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Al-Ittihad progress to Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite early Benzema own goal

  • The Jeddah giants leave it late but progress after a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Navbahor of Uzbekistan

Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad squeezed into the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on Thursday thanks to a hard-fought 2-1 home victory over Navbahor of Uzbekistan, following a goalless draw in the first leg last week.

The Jeddah giants recovered from a Karim Bemzema own goal midway through the first half to take control of the game, level the score and eventually go through thanks to a late Navbahor own goal. It was no less than the Saudis deserved as they made most of the running and created the bulk of the chances.

Fabinho had the earliest opportunity to open the scoring but the former Liverpool midfielder fired just over the bar from outside the box.

The opening goal came from a familiar source but not in the way fans expected. The home crowd was silenced in the 25th minute when Jamshid Iskanderov floated over a free-kick from the right, and former Real Madrid star Benzema met it on the edge of the six-yard box to send a powerful header into his own net past a startled Abdullah Al-Mayouf.

The goal came out of nothing, against the run of play, but Al-Ittihad quickly regrouped, refocused their efforts and continued to dominate the game.

Benzema redeemed himself on the stroke of half-time, nodding down a corner to the near post where Abderrazak Hamdallah was waiting to sweep the ball home from close range.

The second half unfolded in much the same fashion, with Al-Ittihad enjoying most of the possession and creating more of the chances. Midway through the period, however, they were reminded of Navbahor’s goal threat when Filip Ivankovic fired just wide from the right side of the area.

With 15 minutes remaining, Benzema had the ball in the net, the correct one this time, when he fired home after some good work from Ahmed Hegazy. After a lengthy intervention, however, the video assistant referee ruled it out.

This only delayed the celebrations of the home fans, though, as three minutes from time the Tigers took a decisive lead, thanks to another own goal.

Substitute Saleh Al-Amri’s corner from the right failed to clear the first man but, in swinging a boot, Toma Tabatadze sliced his attempted clearance and the ball looped over the keeper into the far corner of the net.

Navbahor did their utmost to get back on level terms but time was against them and it was not to be. As a result, Al-Ittihad, back-to-back winners of the competition in 2004 and 2005, remain in the hunt for a third continental crown.


Saudi Arabia continue fine form with ICC World Cup Challenge League win over Kuwait

Updated 22 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia continue fine form with ICC World Cup Challenge League win over Kuwait

  • The 50-over competition serves as a preliminary qualifier for the World Cup
  • The Greens went into the opening Group B match full of confidence, having recently won the 20-over ACC Challenger Cup in Thailand

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s cricketers beat Gulf rivals Kuwait on Thursday in the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League play-off in Kuala Lumpur.
The 50-over competition serves as a preliminary qualifier for the World Cup, which is to be held in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia in 2027.
The Greens went into the opening Group B match full of confidence, having recently won the 20-over ACC Challenger Cup in Thailand as well as a quadrangular T20 series in Bangkok against the hosts, Maldives and Bhutan.

Saudi Arabia posted a solid total of 231 all over off the back of valuable contributions from Kashif Siddique, who scored 71 runs, star batter Abdul Waheed (40) and captain Hisham Shaikh (40).
Mohamed Shafeeq was best with the ball for Kuwait, finishing his innings with three wickets for 37 runs from his six overs.
In response, Kuwait’s batting line-up had little to offer in the face of efficient bowling from the Saudi attack.
Kuwaiti captain Mohammad Aslam showed some mettle and grit by batting for a 57-run half-century from 84 balls, but he was the only one to offer any resistance as Kuwait were bowled out for just 134 runs, some 97 runs short of the Saudi total.
Usman Najeeb was the pick of the Saudi bowlers as he picked up three wickets and conceded only 23 runs, while Ishtiaq Ahmad and skipper Shaikh claimed two wickets apiece.
In their next Group B encounter, Saudi Arabia face an Italian side riding high after beating one-time World Cup participants Bermuda by a commanding 157 runs.


Milan, Benfica and Marseille reach Europa League last 16

Updated 23 February 2024
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Milan, Benfica and Marseille reach Europa League last 16

  • Benjamin Bourigeaud scored a hat-trick for Rennes, including a pair of penalties
  • Benfica also saw off French opposition as a 0-0 draw away to Toulouse

PARIS: AC Milan overcame a spirited Rennes 5-3 on aggregate despite a 3-2 loss in Thursday’s playoff round second leg to reach the Europa League last 16, where they will be joined by fellow former European champions Benfica and Marseille.

Benjamin Bourigeaud scored a hat trick for Rennes, including a pair of penalties, but goals from Luka Jovic and Rafael Leao ensured Milan were never really in danger of blowing a 3-0 lead from the first leg.

Benfica also saw off French opposition as a 0-0 draw away to Toulouse was enough to send the Portuguese side through following their 2-1 victory in last week’s first leg in Lisbon.

Lens, who dropped down from the Champions League into the knockout playoff round, became the third French club to go out after Freiburg fought back from two goals down to win 3-2 after extra time.

David Pereira da Costa and Elye Wahi put Lens in control of the tie following a goalless opening leg, but Roland Sallai struck twice to force extra time in Germany.

Michael Gregoritsch grabbed the winner in the 99th minute for Freiburg.

Marseille kept French interest in the competition alive as they came from behind to beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-3 on aggregate after a 3-1 victory at the Velodrome.

Georgiy Sudakov stroked home a penalty early in Marseille before the hosts replied via Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s record-setting 31st Europa League goal.

Ismaila Sarr fired Marseille ahead on 74 minutes and Geoffrey Kondogbia added a late third on Jean-Louis Gasset’s debut as coach after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.

Last season’s runners-up Roma edged Feyenoord 4-2 on penalties in the Italian capital after 1-1 draws in both legs.

Qarabag, 4-2 winners last week away to Braga, blew a two-goal advantage after being reduced to 10 men as their Portuguese opponents took the tie to extra time in Baku.

The Azerbaijani team went back in front through Matheus Silva but it looked destined for penalties when Simon Banza’s penalty made it 3-1 on the night to Braga.

Nariman Akhundzade sent Qarabag into the next round though with a goal in the 122nd minute.

Sporting progressed 4-2 on aggregate despite a 1-1 draw at home to Swiss champions Young Boys.

Sparta Prague overturned a 3-2 first-leg deficit by scoring three times after Galatasaray’s Kaan Ayhan saw red to win the return fixture 4-1 at home.

Ajax scraped past Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt after extra time to reach the Europa Conference League last 16.

After a 2-2 draw in Amsterdam, the Dutch giants went ahead when Steven Berghuis struck in the first half of the second leg.

But they had center-back Josip Sutalo sent off early in the second half and Patrick Berg’s equalizer took it into extra time, with Kenneth Taylor’s 114th-minute effort putting Ajax through 4-3 on aggregate.

Dinamo Zagreb knocked out Real Betis 2-1 on aggregate and Union Saint-Gilloise of Belgium took down 2022 Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 over two legs.

Olympiakos also moved on along with Swiss side Servette, Norwegians Molde and Austria’s Sturm Graz.

Maccabi Haifa were the first team through after defeating Gent 2-1 on aggregate, with the second leg in Belgium on Wednesday played behind closed doors because of fears of riots linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

The draws for the last 16 of both competitions will be made at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on Friday.