England-India dream final too close to call

Updated 23 June 2013
0

England-India dream final too close to call

BIRMINGHAM: Reigning World Cup holders India clash with hosts England in an intriguing Champions Trophy one-day final today that promises to be a thriller.
The sold-out game at Edgbaston will please organizers and fans alike as a finale to what has been billed as the last edition of the eight-nation tournament before it is replaced by a Test championship in 2017.
The final, worth $ 2 million to the winners and $ 1 million to the runners-up, will be contested by teams who’ve justified their status as the top-ranked one-day sides in the world.
India, winners of the World Cup at home in 2011, proved worthy of their number one ranking by cruising to the final with four straight wins — the last three by emphatic eight-wicket margins.
Second-ranked England, looking for their first major one-day title, made it to the final with three wins out of four, including a seven-wicket defeat of South Africa in the semi-final at the Oval in London.
Few would hazard to predict the outcome of the dream final between a young and ruthless Indian side and a typically gritty England in front of boisterous supporters from both sides.
If the weather holds — light rain has been forecast for Sunday — a classic contest in in store between India’s batting firepower and the crafty seam and spin attack of the hosts.
Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan has taken the tournament by storm with 332 runs in four matches at an average of 110.66, making him the competition’s leading scorer.
Dhawan’s scores of 114, 102 not out, 48 and 68, which leave him a strong contender for the player of the tournament award, and valuable opening stands with Rohit Sharma have boosted India at the top of the order.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been the pick of the bowlers with 10 wickets — joint-second in the tournament with England spearhead James Anderson behind New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan’s 11 scalps.
Jadeja and fellow-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been backed admirably by the three-pronged seam attack of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav in containing opposition batsmen.
“We have played with the consistency and passion we wanted to at the start of the tournament,” delighted India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “But the final will always be a huge challenge.” England, who begin an eagerly-anticipated Ashes series against Australia next month, will be desperate to bag a major one-day international (ODI) title after suffering defeats in three World Cup finals in 1979, 1987 and 1992, as well as losing the 2004 Champions Trophy final to the West Indies at the Oval.
Their batting revolves around skipper Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, who has answered critics of his perceived slow scoring in the ODI game by emerging as England’s highest run-getter in the tournament with 209 runs.
But the hosts’ hopes will rest on how well the brilliant Anderson and his new-ball partners, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, are able to contain the Indian batting.
Off-spinner James Tredwell, whose three for 19 in seven overs wrecked South Africa in the semi-final and won him the man-of-the-match award, has ensured England do not miss the injured Graeme Swann.
England have lost eight of their last 10 one-day internationals against Dhoni’s men, but all of them were on Indian soil.
When India last played in England in 2011, they were not only blanked 4-0 in the Test series, but lost the one-dayers 3-0. A World Cup game in Bangalore in 2011 between the two sides ended in a sensational tie.


Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

The gunners could not defeat 10-man Atletico Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 27 April 2018
0

Profligate Arsenal punished by 10-man Atletico Madrid

  • The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes
  • Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week

LONDON: Arsenal’s hopes of sending outgoing manager Arsene Wenger off with a trophy suffered a major blow as they could only draw 1-1 with 10-man Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Europa League semifinal on Thursday.
The Gunners played with an extra man for over 80 minutes at the Emirates Stadium, with Sime Vrsaljko’s early red card handing them the initiative.
However, they were made to rue a host of missed chances before and after Alexandre Lacazette headed them in front on the hour mark.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone was also sent to the stands shortly after Vrsaljko’s dismissal, but the Spaniards resisted manfully and pounced when their chance came as Antoine Griezmann prodded home a vital away goal eight minutes from time.
Arsenal now need to become the first away team to score in 12 matches at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium next week if Wenger’s last game in charge is to be the final in his homeland in Lyon on May 16.
Moreover, Arsenal’s hopes of Champions League football next season also hang on becoming the first side other than Real Madrid to eliminate Atletico from Europe for five seasons.
There was a far more highly-charged atmosphere for Wenger’s penultimate home game in charge than there had been for last weekend’s game against West Ham United.
And the hosts were given plenty of encouragement early on, even when still up against Atletico’s full complement.
Lacazette volleyed off the outside of the post and forced Jan Oblak into the first of a series of fine saves with a header from close range.
Vrsaljko had been booked within two minutes for bringing down Jack Wilshere.

And the Croatian left his side a man light after just 10 minutes when French referee Clement Turpin showed no leniency for another late challenge on Lacazette.
Moments later, Simeone was also dismissed by the officious referee for taking his protests too far when an Arsenal player wasn’t booked for what he thought was a similar foul.
Atletico’s excellent defensive record is what has carried them to five European semifinals in seven seasons under Simeone.
The visitors battened down the hatches with 10 men, but were reliant on Oblak to keep them in the tie.
Wilshere headed straight at Oblak when unmarked at the back post at the end of a flowing Arsenal move.
And the Slovenian then spread himself well with an outstretched leg to deny Danny Welbeck.
Having weathered the Gunners’ early storm, Atletico only began to threaten themselves late in the first half and David Ospina had to be alert to parry a fiercely struck Griezmann shot following a fine run from Thomas Partey.
Atletico retreated ever deeper toward their own goal after the break and were finally punished on the hour mark when Wilshere’s deep cross found Lacazette rising above Lucas Hernandez to head in his seventh goal in seven games.
However, the French international and Arsenal could have had more.
Laczette’s dangerous ball across goal found no takers before he headed another good opportunity wide.
And Arsenal paid heavily for their profligacy, and some comical defending, when Atletico grabbed a vital away goal on 82 minutes.
Griezmann outmuscled French international team-mate Laurent Koscielny and then benefited from a slip by Shkodran Mustafi after his initial effort had been saved by Ospina to prod his 27th goal of the season into the roof of the net.
There was still time for Oblak to show why Griezmann isn’t the only Atletico player wanted by Europe’s elite with a spectacular one-handed save to turn Aaron Ramsey’s header behind and keep Los Rojiblancos on course for another European final.