Virat Kohli colossal again as India smash South Africa in Cape Town

India's Virat Kohli celebrates his century at Newlands in Cape Town as India smash South Africa to go 3-0 up in the six-game series. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Virat Kohli colossal again as India smash South Africa in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN: Virat Kohli and India’s spinners hammered South Africa again on Wednesday in the latest episode of a one-sided ODI series, winning the third game by 124 runs to go 3-0 up with three to play.
Kohli was colossal to make 160 not out from 159 balls — his second century of the series — and lead India to 303-6 after South Africa put the tourists in to bat.
In a repeat of the first two games, South Africa couldn’t deal with India spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who took eight wickets between them at Newlands as the home team was bundled out for 179 in 40 overs.
South Africa started the series as the No. 1 ODI team in the world and India No. 2 but those positions have been quickly reversed.
India came to South Africa on a compelling run of one-day form following eight successive series victories but even that didn’t indicate how dominant it would be in the first three games.
South Africa had won 17 straight ODI games at home before losing to India by six wickets and then nine wickets in the first two matches.
Wednesday’s performance was even more compelling by India.
Kohli came to the crease at the end of the first over and again dominated his team’s total with a brilliant one-day innings. Shikhar Dhawan’s 76 in a 140-run partnership for the second wicket was also a significant part of the Indian effort.
India captain Kohli, though, has been in consistently outstanding form on tour in South Africa, and his century was his second in the three one-day games against South Africa and his third in his last four ODIs.
He made 112 and 46 not out in the first two games of this series. Kohli hit 12 fours and two sixes in this one, finishing the innings with a big six over midwicket and a thumping four down the ground from the final two balls. Those boundaries took India past 300 and improved Kohli’s strike rate to better than a run a ball.
South Africa had pulled it back at Newlands after Dhawan was out to a diving catch by stand-in skipper Aiden Markram off spinner JP Duminy (2-60) to break India’s best partnership.
Prompted by that breakthrough, South Africa took five wickets for 96 runs to slow what was an Indian onslaught when Kohli and Dhawan were together.
India finished strongly, though, led of course by Kohli. He combined with Bhuvneshwar Kumar for an unbeaten 67-run partnership off 44 balls. Kohli made 43 of those runs from just 25 deliveries in India’s last stand.


Belief running high for Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons

Updated 20 August 2018
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Belief running high for Saudi Arabia’s Young Falcons

  • Where others have picked over-aged players, Saudi Arabia, in contrast, have brought their U-21 team
  • Al-Shehri arrived at the Games playing down the importance of results and focusing on performances

JAKARTA: Saudi Arabia’s football team are doing things differently at the Asian Games this month. The three-week tournament is open to players aged under-23, with countries having the option to select three over-age players. The result is hosts Indonesia have selected a 37-year-old naturalized Brazilian and South Korea, whose players can avoid mandatory military service if they win gold, have called upon Heung-min Son, the Tottenham Hotspur forward.
Saudi Arabia, in contrast, have brought their Under-21 team.

Coach Saad Al-Shehri, who has been in charge of the side for three years, does not shy from the fact his Young Falcons are here primarily to gain experience and develop ahead of a crucial U23 Asian Championships, which offers direct qualification to the Olympic Games.

Yet he is also aware the deeper his side go this month, the more it will ultimately benefit the Kingdom’s Tokyo 2020 objective.
“We are playing here with an Under-21 team in a tournament that is for Under-23s,” he said. “But I believe in these players. I worked with them at the Under-20 World Cup in 2017 in Korea and this team is the future of Saudi Arabia. I do not doubt that, and the Federation is in agreement.
“The players need more experience, more games and strong tournaments, but we all believe in them and our work will continue on this path. This is the squad that we want to qualify for Tokyo.”
Al-Shehri arrived at the Games playing down the importance of results and focusing on performances, but after two games in Jakarta, his team sit joint-top of Group F alongside Iran, with whom they drew 0-0 in their opening game. A comfortable 3-0 victory over Myanmar on Friday means progress to the knock-out stages is all but secure, with today’s match against North Korea offering an opportunity to secure an easier Round of 16 draw.
Finalists in 2014, North Korea were expected to prove the most difficult opponent of the group stage, yet a draw with Myanmar and a 3-0 humbling by Iran have altered expectations for both sides. Al-Shehri, who will be without key playmaker Ayman Al-Khulaif today through suspension, is now expected to make several changes to avoid fatigue in what will be the Young Falcons’ third game in five days.
“I have 20 players and trust them all,” Al-Shehri told Arab News. “I am confident we can play a good game against North Korea because we have players hungry and waiting to take their chance. Everybody is ready to play and be involved. Whether we win or lose… all we want is to play games. We need to play more games to improve and the further in the tournament we go, the more games we play, so if we get to the final it’s very good for us regardless. Every single game we play between now and the Tokyo qualifiers is very important for us.”
Al-Khulaif, 21, has been instrumental in his side’s results so far, proving a constant outlet on the right of midfield and drawing nine fouls, including two penalties. The Al-Ahli playmaker made his Pro League debut last season, coming on as a 90th minute substitute for Taiser Al-Jassem against Ohod, and will hope this tournament can help him catch the eye of new Al-Ahli boss Pablo Guede.
Forced to sit out today’s match, he is looking to the positives. “I am sad to miss the next game, but I trust fully in my teammates to get a good result and it gives me a chance to rest and, inshallah, prepare better for the knock-out stages.”