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Thursday,21-October-2021

Sports

Lionel Messi sends ‘strength’ to COVID-19 affected people

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Lionel Messi has called for people to “stay at home” and heed the advice of authorities in a bid to counter the coronavirus epidemic.

The Barcelona and Argentina forward’s message came as the global death toll from the outbreak surpassed 5,000 on Saturday.

Messi said he is currently spending time with his family after the suspension of all major domestic and continental football competitions in Europe, as well as the postponement of the first two rounds of South America’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

“Health must always come first,” Messi said in an Instagram post. “It is an exceptional time and we must follow the instructions of health organisations and public authorities. Only by doing this can we effectively combat it.

“It is the time to be responsible and stay at home. It is also a perfect opportunity to enjoy family time, something that’s not always possible.”

Messi’s words were accompanied by a photo of the 32-year-old with two of his children.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner said he hoped “we can turn this situation around as soon as possible” and offered moral support to those directly impacted by the virus.

“These are complicated days for everyone,” Messi said. “We are worried about what is happening and we want to help by putting ourselves in the place of those who are having the worst of it, either because it has directly affected them or their family and friends, or because they are working on the front line to combat it in hospitals and health centres. I want to send a lot of strength to all of them.”

National

BCCI wants Dravid to be India’s chief coach; sources say Rahul’s ‘agreed but…!’

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Rahul-Dravid

 Former Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid has agreed to coach the national side after the ICC T20 World Cup but there are a couple of issues which he wants to be sorted out before joining, said a BCCI official.

Earlier, there were reports that Dravid would be the interim coach for the upcoming home series against New Zealand.

However, the BCCI official has now confirmed that “Rahul has agreed to coach the Indian team till 2023 World Cup”.

The official told IANS that BCCI chief Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah had a meeting with Dravid on the side-lines of the IPL final on Friday evening and they managed to convince him.

“There are a couple of issues which Dravid wants to settle with the BCCI and hopefully that will be done,” he added.

Asked what are the “issues”, the official said, “Like, Dravid wants to have new support staff… changing the entire old one. And a couple of other things. I am sure everything will be sorted out. Because BCCI wants Dravid to lead the charge.”

It is learnt that former Mumbai pacer Paras Mhambrey may take over from Bharat Arun as the bowling coach.

Sources further said that Dravid had suggested Australian Tom Moody’s name for the coach’s job, but the Board didn’t show too much interest.

The 48-year-old Dravid has been in charge of the India A and U-19 set-up for the past six years. He currently heads the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

“He will resign from there and take over the charge (of Team India),” sources added.

Dravid had recently coached a second-string Indian team to a tour of Sri Lanka even as the national senior team was playing concurrently in England.

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International

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

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 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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International

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

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 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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