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IPL 2021: Sunil Narine’s all-round show sends Kolkata into Qualifier 2

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A match-defining all-round show from Sunil Narine helped Kolkata Knight Riders set up a Qualifier 2 clash with Delhi Capitals after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in a tight Eliminator match of IPL 2021 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Monday.

Narine first took 4/21 in his four overs, breaking the back of Bangalore’s batting. With the bat, Narine slammed his first three balls for three sixes to effectively kill the chase, which Kolkata completed with two balls to spare. Kolkata delivering Bangalore a knockout punch also brought an end to Virat Kohli’s stint as a captain in the IPL.

Chasing 139, Shubman Gill started off with a flick through square leg of Mohammed Siraj. In the next over, Venkatesh Iyer joined the party, pulling George Garton over backward square leg. Gill then tore into Garton in the third over with a hat-trick of boundaries. Harshal Patel, introduced in the final over of power-play, made the first strike for Bangalore as Gill was foxed by an off-cutter and holed to mid-on moving to his right.

Post power-play, Kolkata lost another wicket as Rahul Tripathi was struck plumb on the front pad by a Yuzvendra Chahal googly. Nitish Rana broke the shackles with reverse hits going for a six and four each off Glenn Maxwell in the tenth over, which also saw a running Shahbaz Ahmed spilling a catch of Iyer. But in the next over, Patel took out Iyer, gloving behind to keeper KS Bharat.

Sunil Narine’s promotion to five paid off as he slammed three sixes off Daniel Christian over fine leg, square leg and long-off in the 12th over to simplify the equation. Chahal had his second wicket of the match in the 15th over as Nitish Rana mistimed slog-sweep to long-on. Narine had luck on his side as Devdutt Padikkal dropped the catch off Harshal Patel in the 17th over.

In the next over, Mohammed Siraj dismissed both Narine and Dinesh Karthik. With seven needed off the final over, Shakib Al Hasan walked across for a scoop over short fine leg off Christian before finishing off the chase with a quick single.

Earlier, Bangalore were off to a quick start with 53/1 in the power-play. Kohli got going with a sweep off Shakib Al Hasan before slamming Shivam Mavi for back-to-back fours in the next over. Padikkal took two boundaries off Lockie Ferguson in the fourth over. But the New Zealander had the last laugh in his second over as Padikkal chopped one to his stumps.

Post power-play, Kolkata squeezed the run flow as 17 runs came off the next four overs, including Bharat’s wicket, holing out to long-off off Narine. That began a batting slide for Bangalore as three overs later, Narine had his second wicket of the match with Kohli set himself for a slog-sweep, only to be bowled through the gate.

Narine struck with his third wicket in the 15th over, getting the ball to just turn in and going between bat and pad to disturb the stumps of AB de Villiers. In his final over, Narine took out his fourth wicket as Maxwell sliced a slog-sweep to short third man. Christian and Shahbaz Ahmed fell in the last two overs but Bangalore just managed to cross the 130-mark, which wasn’t sufficient to prevent their second straight eliminator loss in the IPL.

Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 138/7 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 39, Devdutt Padikkal 21, Sunil Narine 4/21, Lockie Ferguson 2/30) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (Shubman Gill 29, Sunil Narine 26, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/16, Harshal Patel 2/19, Mohammed Siraj 2/19) by four wickets

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ICC T20 World Cup: Bangladesh high on confidence as they begin campaign vs Scotland

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Australia-vs-Bangladesh

 Bangladesh will be high on confidence when they take on Scotland in a First Round, Group B match at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium here on Sunday (October 17), having hit top-gear with victories against the two best sides in the world — New Zealand and Australia — at home in August-September this year.

Bangladesh come into the tournament with nine T20I wins in the calendar year, only behind South Africa who have 12. Since losing to New Zealand in March away from home, Bangladesh have been unstoppable in T20Is, registering series wins over Zimbabwe (2-1), Australia (4-1) and New Zealand (3-2).

Over the years, Bangladesh have done enough to shed the tag of underdogs, showing marked improvement across all formats. At the T20 World Cup 2021, they have a chance to showcase just how far they have come in the shortest format of the game.

With form on their side, Bangladesh are favourites to top Group B in the First Round where they have been drawn alongside Scotland, Oman and Papua New Guinea.

The T20 World Cup has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Bangladesh. They were one of the stories of the inaugural tournament in 2007, when they made it past the first group stage and into the Super 8s but through the 2009, 2010 and 2012 editions they failed to register a single win.

They returned to winning ways in 2014 when the tournament was expanded to 16 teams, topping Group A of the First Round only to lose all four matches in the Super 10 stage. It was a similar story in 2016, where they crashed out in heartbreak after a devastating loss to India. Needing 11 off the last over to stay alive in the tournament, they brought the equation down to two off three balls, only to lose three wickets across those three deliveries, bringing an end to their World Cup dreams. They would once again finish winless in the second stage of a T20 World Cup, going down in their final game against New Zealand.

The big difference for Bangladesh in this edition of the tournament is unlike in the previous six campaigns, they won’t be underdogs — not in the First Round and not in the Super 12 stage if they reach it.

Bangladesh have made steady progress since the 2016 heartbreak, and have hit top gear just in time for the 2021 World Cup. They sit sixth on the ICC T20I team rankings, ahead of the likes of Australia, West Indies and Afghanistan. Their T20I series wins over Australia and New Zealand this year — their maiden series wins over either nation — are testament to how well they are playing this season.

Captain Mahmud Ullah, who recently became the country’s most successful T20I captain after surpassing Mashrafe Mortaza in the first T20I against New Zealand, is one of several seasoned campaigners in the Bangladesh squad along with Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim. They will form the backbone of the batting line-up. The presence of Afif Hossain lower down adds more depth to the batting lineup.

In the absence of Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh will be hoping that Mohammad Naim and Liton Das can fill the void at the top of the order. In just 11 games together, the two have become the country’s third most prolific opening partnership in T20Is and Bangladesh will want them to set the World Cup ablaze.

With the ball, Mustafizur Rahman will be tasked with the responsibility to lead the attack. The emergence of Nasum Ahmed since making his T20I debut in March has further strengthened the attack that also consists of Taskin Ahmed, and Mohammad Saifuddin among others.

The squad: Mahmudullah (captain), Mohammad Naim, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Saifuddin, Shamim Hossain.

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Biennial World Cup would allow teams ‘to dream’, says FIFA chief Infantino

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Gianni

 FIFA president Gianni Infantino says that a plan to stage the World Cup every two years would provide “a chance to dream” for countries and regions that have never won football’s showpiece tournament.

FIFA’s member associations are set to vote on the proposal in December and, if approved, a radically revamped international calendar could be implemented as soon as 2025.

“Our job is to constantly think about how we can improve football in the world, to make football truly global,” Infantino said at an event in Venezuela’s capital Caracas.

“The FIFA president is president of the 111 countries (and regions) and all those countries (and regions) have the right to dream, a dream like the Vinotinto [Venezuela’s national team] dream. They also have to be able to achieve that dream because if you have to dream for eternity, in the end, you prefer to do other things.”

Infantino said the minds behind the inaugural World Cup in 1930 could not have imagined how much the game would grow and downplayed suggestions that staging the event on a more regular basis would diminish its prestige, reports Xinhua.

“When it was decided to organize a World Cup every four years, more or less 100 years ago, FIFA had 40 countries,” Infantino said. “It’s time to re-analyze the issue.”

He added: “If Messi has to travel 350,000 kilometres to play a World Cup and Cristiano Ronaldo 50,000 to play … I think it’s normal that in June the South Americans are a bit more tired than the Europeans.

“Since 2002, Brazil have not won a single World Cup knock-out match against a European side … Not for 20 years, and that’s Brazil.”

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and European governing body UEFA have expressed their opposition to the idea of a biennial World Cup. The Confederation of North, Central America, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have said they are open to discussing the proposal.

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Dimitrov stuns Medvedev with grand comeback at Indian Wells

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Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set and a double-break down to shock top seed Daniil Medvedev to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP Tour BNP Paribas Open here.

Dimitrov, the 23rd seed rolled back the years as he battled back from 4-6, 1-4 down to move past the Russian 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 and produced one of the comebacks of the season on Wednesday, reaching the quarter-finals in Indian Wells for the first time.

After appearing in total control, Medvedev lost his way, making just 34 percent of his first serves in the second set as Dimitrov forced the World No. 2 into errors with his aggressive game. The Bulgarian won eight straight games and eventually advanced after two hours and 16 minutes.

It is the first time Dimitrov has defeated a top-two opponent since 2016 when he overcame Andy Murray in Miami. The World No. 28 has now reduced his ATP Head2Head deficit with Medvedev to 2-3. Dimitrov will next face eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole defeate’ Russia’s Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 6-3.

With his victory, the eight-time tour-level champion is into the quarter-finals at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time this season. Dimitrov enjoyed a run to the last eight at the Australian Open in January, where he also beat a top-five player, then-World No. 3 Dominic Thiem.

Fuelled by momentum, Dimitrov, who hit 25 winners in the match, did not let up as he continued to frustrate Medvedev in the decider. He continued to approach the net effectively and sealed his victory when Medvedev hit a forehand long.

Medvedev had won 18 of his past 19 matches on North American soil, capturing his fourth Masters 1000 title in Toronto and his first major at the US Open. The Russian was aiming to reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells for the first time.

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas too advanced to the quarter-finals, beating Alex de Minaur of Australia 6-7(3), 7-6(3), 6-2 in three hard-fought sets.

In other matches, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman defeated Casper Ruud of Norway 6-3, 6-3; Hubert Hurkacz of Poland beat Aslan Karatsev of Russia 6-1, 6-3, Taylor Fritz beat Jannik Sinner of Italy 6-4. 6-2; Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 64, 7-6(6).

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