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Nasser Hussain praises Joe Root for getting it right in Headingley Test




Former England captain Nasser Hussain said that England captain Joe Root had an excellent day in the field on the first day of the third Test. He added that as a bowling unit, England learned from their mistakes at Lords.

“Joe Root had an excellent day in the field, starting with keeping Anderson on for a long spell so that he could have another go at Kohli. Eight overs is a lot for a 39-year-old in such a congested series but it paid off – as did Root’s decision to hold Anderson back in the afternoon when Sam Curran and Craig Overton were taking wickets,” wrote Hussain in his column for Daily Mail on Thursday.

Anderson was the pick of the pace quartet for England, taking the wickets of the top three of I’dia’s batting for just six runs in eight overs. Craig Overton took three wickets for 14 runs in 10.4 overs while Ollie Robinson and Sam Curran scalped two wickets each.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone gets it wrong at times and there’s no doubt England and Joe Root got it badly wrong on that fateful final morning at Lord’s. But the best thing about their bowling performance on day one was how much they learnt from that mistake,” added Hussain.

The 53-year-old described how England corrected their mistake at Headingley. “I do understand why they got it so wrong in the second Test. It was because their main man in Jimmy Anderson was targeted by Jasprit Bumrah on that third evening and you have to allow for the emotion that got to them. Here they corrected it spectacularly.”

“Here England realised the way they were bowling was good enough to dismiss Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, two of the greats in world cricket, so it was good enough to send back Shami and Mohammed Siraj. That meant bowling top of off stump repeatedly,” explained Hussain.

He talked about’how England’s pace quartet followed a plan and executed the same. “The key at Headingley is bowling the right length. That means 30 centimetres fuller than at most other grounds because the ball can do too much and miss the edge of the bat if you hit that back of a length that can be so effective elsewhere.”

At stumps on day one, England are 120/0 and lead by 42 runs. Openers Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns are unbeaten at 60 and 52 respectively after India were bowled out for just 78 in 40.4 overs.


ANALYSIS: Contract rebel Ousmane Dembele mirrors Barcelona’s woes




FC Barcelona’s winger Ousmane Dembele released a scathing statement on Thursday in which he said, “I forbid anyone to give the impression that I am not involved in the sports project. I forbid anyone to attribute intentions to me that I’ve never had.”

He added that he was fully involved with the club and that he has always given everything for his colleagues.

The statement seems to be a response to comments from coach Xavi Hernandez and club director Mateu Alemany, who have both questioned Dembele’s commitment to the club. Alemany even went so far as to state that if the winger doesn’t want to be a part of their project, he will be sold immediately.

The genesis of this rift between the club and the player goes back to the contract negotiations which have been dragging on for months. Dembele’s contract expires on June 30 and the club risks losing him on a free transfer to one of Europe’s elite sides.

To prevent the eventuality, Barcelona have tried to convince Dembele to stay, but with the caveat that they cannot satisfy his new salary demands.

Barcelona’s financial woes have been well-documented, with the club racking up millions of euros on debts, posting a loss of 481 million euros in the 2020/21 season alone.

A major reason for these debts to reach sky-high levels is the high spending on transfer fees and wages for players such as Dembele, who simply haven’t lived up to expectations.

When Dembele came to Barcelona for 140 million euros, he was seen as a more-than-capable replacement for Neymar after having impressed for Borussia Dortmund at both club-level as well as in Europe. His body, however, has failed him multiple times as he has suffered one injury after another.

His injury record has been so poor that he has not been able to get more than 20 starts for the club in league matches, with this season in particular being his worst. A combination of injuries, COVID-19 and contract disputes have combined to reduce him to a paltry four starting games in the league.

When Dembele is on the pitch, he has shown flashes of brilliance such as the display versus Chelsea in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16. These moments, however, haven’t led to consistent success. Dembele has yet to register more than eight goals in a single league season.

These troubles may make it seem prudent for Barcelona to sell the winger, but the problem is that the club does not have enough money for reinforcements. Their money problems have been so bad that they could not even register new signee Ferran Torres until they got veteran defender Samuel Umtiti to agree to a reduced salary.

Their squad particularly lacks someone of the French winger’s profile as the only other player they have who can somewhat replicate his skillset is wonderkid Ansu Fati, but he has also had a lot of injury trouble. The latest happened during a recent Copa Del Rey match against Athletic Bilbao, which could potentially leave him out for as long as six weeks.

The worst part about Dembele’s problems is that his situation is not an isolated incident at all. Barcelona have been facing similar troubles with Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann, whom they signed for a combined amount of 255 million euros.

Not only did the two players not make their mark as expected, but Barca have also failed to offload them as both of them are on sky-high wages that other clubs are simply unwilling to pay. As a result, Barca have had to resort to loaning them both to Aston Villa and Atletico Madrid, respectively, just to get them off the wage bill.

They have also spent big money on players who were simply not up to Barca’s standards — 41 million euros on winger Malcom and 37 million euros on midfielder Andre Gomes, both of whom were seen as head-scratching transfers at the time, who further justified this impression by failing to make any impact at all and having to be sold for a loss to other clubs.

It’s hard not to see all these problems being self-inflicted wounds as the club was a financial juggernaut, making millions from multiple sources, from TV deals and advertisements to shirt sales, and having some of the best players in the world, including Lionel Messi, whom many consider to be the greatest player to ever grace a football pitch.

All of these positives could not offset the mismanagement from the former club president Josep Bartomeu, who faced several allegations of corruption, income-tax fraud, and launching a smear campaign against some of the club’s players.

The Spanish giants are now a shell of their former selves and though new president Joan Laporta has taken some positive steps, they are a long way off reaching the heights they once used to occupy.

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Reigning ISL champions Mumbai City sign Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio




Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC on Friday completed the signing of 30-year old Brazilian striker Diego Mauricio, who joined the Islanders on a short-term deal until May 31 this year.

The Rio-born forward had joined ISL team Odisha FC in the 2020/21 season where he scored 12 goals and had two assists in 20 games. Mauricio joins the Islanders off the back of a short stint with Qatari second division side Al Shahania, where he was the top scorer with eight goals in nine games across all competitions.

The Brazilian has arrived in Goa and will undergo a mandatory quarantine before joining the Mumbai City camp.

Mauricio started off his footballing career in 2006 through the famed academy of Flamengo in Brazil before moving onto the first team where plied his trade until 2012. Over the next few years, he had stints in Brazil (Sport Recife & Red Bull Bragantino), Russia (FC Spartak Vladikavkaz), Portugal (Vitoria FC), Saudi Arabia (Al Qadisiyah), China (Cangzhou Mighty Lions) and in South Korea (Gangwon FC and Busan IPark) before returning to Brazil in 2020 with Centro Sportivo Alagoano.

“I had a good experience last season playing in the ISL but I feel like I have a lot more to achieve in India,” said Mauricio.

“The expectations are high when you join a club of Mumbai City’s stature. I already know the ambition of the club is to win games and defend the ISL title and we will also be playing in the AFC Champions League which is a big motivation not only for me, but for all the players. I am ready for the challenge and I can’t wait to get onto the pitch,” he said.

Coach Des Buckingham said, “I am delighted to be able to welcome Diego to the club. He possesses great quality and he has shown it in his time in the ISL last season. His familiarity with the competition will certainly help us and we’re confident that Diego can be an asset to the club. We look forward to having him join our group soon.”

Mumbai City FC are the current ISL League winners and champions, winning the unique ‘double’ in the 2020/21 season, and will represent India on the Asian stage in the 2022 AFC Champions League.

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U-19 CWC: Prest slams unbeaten 154 as England score massive win against UAE




England skipper Tom Prest continued his sublime form with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 154 to help his side defeat the UAE by 189 runs in a Group A match of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup at the Warner Park here on Friday (IST).

The UAE now take on Bangladesh to decide who will join England in the Super League quarterfinals from Group A.

Prest won the toss and chose to bat and after coming in at No.3, the Hampshire batter slammed 13 fours and four sixes in just 119 balls as his side posted an imposing 362/6.

Only Dan Lawrence has made a higher individual total for the England Under-19s but Prest had to wait until the 12th over to get out to the middle as George Thomas (42) and Jacob Bethell (62) shared an opening stand of 69.

Prest, who was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’, had shown his form with 93 in the win over Canada last time out but he was not to be denied another century as he dominated the UAE’s attack and shared a half-century stand with Bethell and then James Rew (24).

When William Luxton, 47 off 45 balls, joined him at the crease, England were 182 for three in the 31st over but together they added 117 runs in just 92 balls. England went past the 300-mark for the second match in succession despite the best efforts of Jash Giyanani who was the pick of the UAE bowlers with 2/60 from his 10 overs.

England’s total always looked like it would be difficult to overhaul and the UAE were reeling when they were reduced to 61/5 in the 15th over, with seamer Josh Boyden taking two wickets to take his tournament tally to 10.

Ali Naseer’s 54 off 44 helped reverse some of the momentum as he put on 59 with Nilansh Keswani for the sixth wicket. But when Nilansh departed, the last four wickets fell for 53 runs as leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed excelled on his first outing in the West Indies with 4/30 from his 10 overs.

England dismissed the UAE for 173 to confirm their place as Group A winners as they progress to the Super League quarterfinals with their all-win record intact.

Brief scores: England 362/6 in 50 overs (Jacob Bethell 62, Tom Prest 154 not out) beat UAE 173 in 38.2 overs (Ali Naseer 54; Rehan Ahmed 4/30) by 189 runs.

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