Sharma ton helps India seal World Cup semi-final spot

India's Rohit Sharma celebrates making his century during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Bangladesh and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England, on July 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 02 July 2019

Sharma ton helps India seal World Cup semi-final spot

  • Sharma hits his fourth century in the 28-run win over Bangladesh

BIRMINGHAM, UK: India opener Rohit Sharma hit his fourth century of the World Cup as Virat Kohli's side booked their place in the semi-finals with a 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
Sharma's attacking 104 laid the foundation of India's 314 for nine after Kohli elected to bat first in India's penultimate match of the league phase.
Yet for the second match in a row Sharma -- as happened during India's 31-run defeat by England at Edgbaston on Sunday -- was dropped in single figures before making a hundred.
India's bowlers then combined to dismiss Bangladesh for 286 with two overs to spare after star batsman Shakib Al Hasan top-scored with a valiant 66.
Jasprit Bumrah took four wickets and fellow paceman Hardik Pandya three, including the prize scalp of Shakib.
Defeat ended Bangladesh's slim hopes of a place in the last four after they had impressed during wins over South Africa and the West Indies.
The day belonged to the in-form Sharma, who played an attacking knock, hitting seven fours and five sixes in his 92-ball innings while being cheered on by another largely pro-India crowd in Birmingham.
Sharma and opening partner KL Rahul put on 180 -- the highest stand for the first wicket in the tournament -- to get India off to a flying start.
But Sharma should have been out for nine only for Tamim Iqbal to drop a simple catch at deep midwicket following a mistimed pull off paceman Mustafizur Rahman.
Sharma was finally was caught at extra cover by Liton Das off the bowling of Soumya Sarkar and Rahul, who filled an opener's slot following an injury to Shikhar Dhawan, was caught behind off Rubel Hossain for 77.
Mustafizur took five wickets, including star batsman Kohli for 26, to check India's surge.
The paceman struck twice in the space of three balls to dismiss both Kohli and Pandya.
Rishabh Pant once again showed his worth at the number four position with a brisk 48, using the short boundary at one side of Edgbaston to his advantage.
M.S. Dhoni, who received flak for his slow innings in India's defeat by England on Sunday -- their only loss so far this tournament -- chipped in with a 33-ball 35.
Paceman Mohammed Shami struck early in Bangladesh's reply when Tamim, who made 22, chopped the ball onto his stumps.
Shakib struck his sixth fifty-plus score that includes two hundreds to keep Bangladesh in hunt.
But Pandya's second spell saw the all-rounder account for Liton and Shakib to leave Bangladesh struggling at 179-6 in the 34th over.
Shakib, who has been Bangladesh's go-to man, played well for his 46th ODI fifty but was undone by a slower ball and caught at extra cover.
Mohammad Saifuddin made an unbeaten 51 only to run out of partners as Bumrah ended the match with two wickets in successive deliveries.
Bangladesh face Pakistan in their last group match at Lord's on Friday.
India meet Sri Lanka on the final day of the round-robin phase on Saturday.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.