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Sunday,16-May-2021

International

Karim Benzema brace takes Real to top of the table

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Karim Benzema struck twice to earn Real Madrid a comfortable 3-0 victory over Cadiz to take them provisionally back top of La Liga.

They are level with Atletico Madrid on 70 points but have a better head-to-head record than Diego Simeone’s side, who face Huesca on Thursday, DPA reported.

Benzema netted his 20th league goal of the season from the penalty spot after Vinicius Junior was fouled, after an even start to the game.

Three minutes later Alvaro Odriozola doubled the lead from Benzema’s cross, and the Frenchman netted again in the 40th minute from close range, heading home a Casemiro ball.

“I’m happy for the team because it’s not easy to play away from home and we had to pick up three points,” said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane. “We are happy for the win.”

“When you score a goal it’s easier but we scored three. We have to continue, rest now because we have a game on Saturday [against Real Betis].

“How Benzema is playing makes me happy, we know how important he is. He’s crucial for our game. We enjoy him and I hope that Real Madrid keep doing that for a long time.”

Zidane’s squad is heavily depleted due to injuries and the coronavirus, with the coach starting in midfield 20-year-old Antonio Blanco, who made his debut as a substitute last Sunday in the 0-0 draw with Getafe.

Blanco was impressive and helped Madrid control the game, although Iza Carcelen’s clumsy foul on Vinicius was the moment that put Madrid in the driving seat.

Cadiz, 13th, made several changes at the break and substitute Anthony Lozano was lively in attack but they failed to trouble Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Earlier, Youssef En-Nesyri struck in the 53rd minute to hand Sevilla a 1-0 win at Levante, to take them provisionally third before Barcelona host Getafe on Thursday.

Alaves earned an important 2-1 win over Villarreal to move 16th and three points clear of the relegation zone, while Elche and Real Valladolid, 19th and 17th respectively, drew 1-1.

Elsewhere Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao drew 0-0 and Osasuna earned a 3-1 win over Valencia.

International

Pollard was stunned by 1st contract offered by MI: Dwayne Bravo

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Kieron-Pollard

Dwayne Bravo revealed the role he played in Mumbai Indians (MI) signing Kieron Pollard in 2010. Bravo played for MI between 2008 and 2010 and the team was searching for a replacement after the Trinidadian left for Chennai Super Kings.

“When Mumbai Indians needed a replacement for me, I gave them Kieron Pollard’s name. When they tried contacting him, he was playing for a club, so I recommended Dwayne Smith and he became my replacement,” Bravo told Cricbuzz.

“The following year, when it was the Champions League, I called Rahul (Sanghvi) and said, ‘Pollard, he’s here. Come and sign him now before the tournament starts.’ Rahul and Robin Singh left Mumbai and came to Hyderabad, I’ll never forget they came with a contract which at that time was 200,000 USD. I called Pollard, who came downstairs and met them both in the lobby. He saw the contract. Now for someone coming from Trinidad, as a 19-year-old, that was wow. He said, ‘Dwayne are you serious?” said Bravo.

Pollard has turned out to be one of the most important signings in MI’s history, playing an integral role in the team’s five Indian Premier League (IPL) victories. He has scored 3,191 runs for MI at a strike rate of 150.87 and taken 63 wickets as well.

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India retain top spot in ICC Test rankings

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India have retained the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) annual update of the Test rankings. India are on 121 rating points while second-placed New Zealand are on 120.

England overtook Australia to take third place with 109 rating points. Australia currently have 108. The West Indies, who beat Bangladesh 2-0 and drew 0-0 with Sri Lanka in series played this year, have moved from eighth to sixth with 84 points, their best position since 2013.

The ICC said that the latest update eliminates the results of 2017/18. It rates all matches played since May 2020 at 100 per cent and those of the previous two years at 50 per cent

“India’s 2-1 win over Australia and 3-1 win over England over the past year and New Zealand’s 2-0 series wins over the West Indies and Pakistan have helped them keep ahead of the pack,” said the ICC.

Pakistan have gained three points but remain in fifth position.

South Africa are in seventh position, equaling their lowest in Test ranking history, while Sri Lanka are next on the list. Bangladesh have lost five points but remain in ninth position while Zimbabwe have gained eight points but are still nine points behind Bangladesh.

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Warner took news of being axed as SRH captain with class: Brad Haddin

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Batsman David Warner took the news of him being axed as SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) captain in the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) “with class”, said the team’s assistant coach Brad Haddin.

“He took it with class. It was a bit of a shock to everyone when the management decided to go in a different direction to try and spark something in the team. We weren’t playing at the standard we needed to but with Davey, the way he handled it, it was all class. He just got back on with the job,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket.

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson replaced Warner as captain. SRH ended up playing only one match under Williamson as the season got postponed after that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Warner was dropped in that game.

Haddin, the former Australia wicketkeeper who was also Warner’s team mate in the Australian team, said that the latter just got on with his job and had no qualms in bringing out drinks for the players.

“I dare say he would come back in the contention in the next few games. He’s one of the best in the world in that form of the game. You had to look at the way he reacted when he came on to the bench. He was around everyone; he was running the drinks out. He was really focussed on the meetings so he handled it with a lot of class in a difficult situation,” Haddin said.

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