Sharma’s century helps India beat Afghanistan by 8 wickets at Cricket World Cup

Sharma’s century helps India beat Afghanistan by 8 wickets at Cricket World Cup
India's captain Rohit Sharma celebrates his century during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Afghanistan and India in New Delhi Wednesday. (AP)
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Updated 12 October 2023
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Sharma’s century helps India beat Afghanistan by 8 wickets at Cricket World Cup

Sharma’s century helps India beat Afghanistan by 8 wickets at Cricket World Cup
  • Sharma smashed 12 fours and four sixes on his way to the fastest century for an Indian batsman in a World Cup game, finishing on 131

NEW DELHI: Rohit Sharma’s quick hundred off only 63 balls helped India earn a second straight win at the Cricket World Cup by beating Afghanistan by eight wickets on Wednesday.

Sharma smashed 12 fours and four sixes on his way to the fastest century for an Indian batsman in a World Cup game, finishing on 131. He added 156 runs off 112 balls with Ishan Kishan as India steamrollered their way to 273-2.

Earlier, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai put on a 121-run partnership, the second highest ever in the World Cup for Afghanistan, as it finished on 272-8.

Sharma broke a plethora of records on the day as India joined New Zealand and Pakistan on two wins from two games.

“It was a good win for us, as it is important to get momentum going at the start of such a tournament,” Sharma said. “It was a good pitch to bat and I just backed myself to play my natural game. It is my job to set the start in run-chases, and I look to put the opposition under pressure. It is a special feeling to get another World Cup hundred.”

It was Sharma’s seventh World Cup hundred — the most by an Indian batsman — and his 31st in ODIs. He is now third on the list of all-time ODI hundreds, after compatriots Sachin Tendulkar (49) and Virat Kohli (47).

Kishan scored 47 runs off 47 balls, with five fours and two sixes. Kohli rounded up India’s night with 55 not out off 56 balls, including six fours, at his home ground.

Chasing 273, Sharma and Kishan set a hectic pace as they smacked 50 off 37 balls. The next 50 came off only 34 balls.

Sharma got to 50 off 30 balls, the second quickest in this World Cup, as he hit seven fours and two sixes. He then hit five more fours and two more sixes to score his second 50 off 33 balls. His third six took him past Chris Gayle’s tally of 553 for the most sixes in international cricket.

Kishan was out caught in the 19th over, against the run of play. Kohli then walked out to bat at his home ground with the capacity crowd at the Arun Jaitely Stadium chanting his name.

Sharma continued attacking the bowlers, scoring 29 off the next 19 balls, and added 49 off 42 balls with Kohli for the second wicket. He was bowled off Rashid Khan, trying to hit a googly out of the ground.

Kohli was joined in by Shreyas Iyer, who scored 25 not out and hit a 101-meter six. They added 68 off 56 balls for the third wicket, as India wrapped up the win with 90 balls to spare.

Earlier, Afghanistan made a cautious start after they won the toss and opted to bat. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) and Ibrahim Zadran (22) added 32 runs for the first wicket as the Indian pacers searched for their bearings on a flat track.

Mohammed Siraj proved expensive — he finished with 0-76 from nine overs, his joint most expensive spell in ODIs after returning the same figures against Australia on debut in 2019.

Bumrah got the breakthrough to dismiss Zadran, while Gurbaz holed out at square leg off Hardik Pandya.

Shardul Thakur, who was brought in for Ravichandran Ashwin, trapped Rahmat Shah lbw for 16.

It brought Shahidi and Azmatullah together, and they defied India’s bowlers for 128 deliveries. Their 100-run partnership came off 118 balls.

Shahidi scored 80 off 88 balls, including eight fours and a six, with his half-century coming off 58 deliveries. It was his third 50-plus score in World Cups, the most for an Afghanistan batsman.

Azmatullah also scored 50 off 62 balls, and overall scored 62 off 69 balls. He hit two fours and four sixes.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav bowled with great control, taking 1-40 in 10 overs. Pandya finished with 2-43 from seven overs, while Bumrah was India’s most successful bowler with 4-39.

Pandya got the breakthrough when he bowled Azmatullah in the 35th over, while Yadav trapped Shahidi lbw in the 43rd.

Afghanistan lost its last four wickets for 36 runs, with Bumrah dismissing hard-hitters Mohammad Nabi (19) and Rashid Khan (16), but finished with its second-highest World Cup total.

India’s next game is against archrival Pakistan in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

“It will be crucial for us to not think too much about external factors and just look at things we can control,” Sharma said. “We just need to show up and perform.”


‘On a roll’: Travis Head blitz fires Sunrisers Hyderabad to 266 and big IPL win

‘On a roll’: Travis Head blitz fires Sunrisers Hyderabad to 266 and big IPL win
Updated 20 April 2024
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‘On a roll’: Travis Head blitz fires Sunrisers Hyderabad to 266 and big IPL win

‘On a roll’: Travis Head blitz fires Sunrisers Hyderabad to 266 and big IPL win
  • Hyderabad have twice broken records this season with IPL totals of 277 and 287

NEW DELHI: Australia’s Travis Head smashed 89 off 32 balls to lead Sunrisers Hyderabad to another huge IPL total of 266-7 in a crushing 67-run victory over Delhi Capitals on Saturday.
Hyderabad have twice broken records this season with IPL totals of 277 and 287 and threatened to breach the mark once again at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant won the toss and put Hyderabad into bat on a batting-friendly pitch, which produced the fourth highest total of the T20 tournament.
Delhi were bowled out for 199 in 19.1 overs, with left-arm quick T Natarajan returning impressive figures of 4-19.
Hyderabad jumped to second spot behind Rajasthan Royals with five wins in seven matches.
Head remained the hero after he blasted a 16-ball 50 in an explosive opening stand with fellow left-hander Abhishek Sharma to tear into the opposition attack as Hyderabad reached 100 in five overs and 125 in six.
“On a bit of a roll there,” Head said of his form after he took second place in the batting chart with 324 runs including a century and two fifties. “Enjoyable, boys are on a roll.”
He said: “When you’re in good form, just trying to keep it simple. Reacted to the ball.”
Head and Sharma hit 12 sixes between them as the innings witnessed a joint IPL record of 22 hit over the fence and Hyderabad equalled their effort from the previous match when they smashed 287-3 in a win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru early this week.
Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav checked the carnage with two wickets in the seventh over as he sent back Sharma, out for 46 off 12 balls, and then Aiden Markram, for one.
Hyderabad then lost two wickets in the space of two deliveries after Kuldeep dismissed Head and fellow spinner Axar Patel bowled Heinrich Klaasen, for 15, at the start of the next over.
Shahbaz Ahmed then steadied the innings and kept up the attack as he hammered an unbeaten 59 off 29 balls.
Ahmed, a left-handed batsman, put on 67 runs with Nitish Kumar Reddy, who made 37, before Kuldeep dismissed Reddy to finish with four wickets.
Hyderabad lost two wickets in the final over including skipper Pat Cummins to a run out but Ahmed reached his first IPL fifty with a four and ended the innings with a six.
“I think powerplay was the difference,” said Pant.
“We were just catching up throughout the match. That was the massive difference. Hopefully we will come back with more thought process and clear mindset.”
Washington Sundar came in as the impact player in place of Head as Hyderabad added a spinner to defend the total.
Sundar opened the bowling and was hit for four straight boundaries by Prithvi Shaw, who was Delhi’s impact player, but got his revenge on the fifth when he dismissed the opener for 16.
David Warner fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar for one before up and coming Australian batsman Jake Fraser-McGurk smacked an 18-ball 65 and put on 84 runs with Abishek Porel, who hit 42.
Leg-spinner Mayank Markande dismissed the pair and the rest of the batting failed to live up to the challenge despite Pant’s 44.
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Pakistan wins the toss and elects to field in 2nd T20 against New Zealand

Pakistan wins the toss and elects to field in 2nd T20 against New Zealand
Updated 20 April 2024
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Pakistan wins the toss and elects to field in 2nd T20 against New Zealand

Pakistan wins the toss and elects to field in 2nd T20 against New Zealand
  • Pakistan retained the same playing XI from the washout that included three debutants — Usman Khan, Irfan Khan and Abrar Ahmed
  • Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan was ruled out of the series because of a slightly torn calf muscle that needs 10 days to heal

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the toss and elected to field against New Zealand on Saturday in the second Twenty20 of their five-match series.
The first game was rained out Thursday after only two balls could be bowled. Shaheen Shah Afridi had clean-bowled debutant Tim Robinson for a duck and New Zealand was 2-1 before rain denied further play.
Pakistan retained the same playing XI from the washout that included three debutants — Usman Khan, Irfan Khan and Abrar Ahmed. Fast bowler Mohammad Amir returns to action in his hometown after he came out of retirement for this June’s T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean.
Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan was ruled out of the series because of a slightly torn calf muscle that needs 10 days to heal.
New Zealand made one change and brought in all-rounder Cole McConchie in place of Josh Clarkson, who was ill and didn’t travel to the stadium with the team.
Both sides are using the series to prepare for the T20 World Cup.
Michael Bracewell is leading the Black Caps, who are without nine key players competing in the Indian Premier League. The squad was further depleted just before the tour when Finn Allen and Adam Milne were injured in training.
Rawalpindi will also host the third game on Sunday before the series moves to Lahore for the last two games next week.

Lineups:
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Irfan Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Naseem Shah, Abrar Ahmed.
New Zealand: Tim Robinson, Tim Seifert, Dean Foxcroft, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell (captain), Cole McConchie, Ish Sodhi, Jacob Duffy, Ben Sears, Ben Lister.


KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL

KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL
Updated 20 April 2024
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KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL

KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL
  • Innings played key role in pushing Lucknow past Chennai’s 176-6 with six balls to spare.

LUCKNOW: KL Rahul’s solid 82 runs off 53 balls helped Lucknow Super Giants comfortably beat Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the IPL on Friday.
Rahul’s time at the crease, which saw him smash nine fours and three sixes, played a key role in pushing Lucknow past Chennai’s 176-6 with six balls to spare.
“I felt that if we bat well, we could chase it down... when your partnership goes on, you can take a few more chances. Glad that it happened,” said Rahul.
Chennai got off to a slightly jittery start after being invited to bat first, losing Rachin Ravindra (zero) and skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad (17) in the first five overs. Ajinkya Rahane looked to steady the side, with the help of Ravindra Jadeja, but fell in the ninth over after racking up a respectable 36 runs off 24 balls.
Lucknow’s clinical bowling restricted Chennai in the middle overs, with Shivam Dube (three) not being able to pop off.
But Jadeja soldiered on for the rest of the game, getting his half-century in the seventeenth over.
Reliable warhorse M.S. Dhoni, who smacked 28 runs off 9 balls, helped Chennai turn up the heat in the last three overs and pushed the team to 176-6.
Lucknow openers Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul set up the chase with a superb 134-run partnership, before de Kock, who hit five fours in his 43-ball 54, fell in the fifteenth over.
Rahul went onto smash an incredible 82 runs off 53 balls before being dismissed in the eighteenth over. A final push by Nicholas Pooran (23) helped seal the victory for Lucknow.
“We lost wickets regularly and were 10-15 short,” said Gaikwad.
“Good to play them again soon, will come back with homework done.”


Mumbai Indians survive Ashutosh Sharma scare to beat Punjab Kings

Mumbai Indians survive Ashutosh Sharma scare to beat Punjab Kings
Updated 18 April 2024
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Mumbai Indians survive Ashutosh Sharma scare to beat Punjab Kings

Mumbai Indians survive Ashutosh Sharma scare to beat Punjab Kings
  • Suryakumar Yadav hit an impressive 78 runs off 53 balls to help Mumbai Indians post a solid 192-7
  • Sharma hit an explosive 61 runs off 28 balls for the Punjab Kings, but it was not enough to carry the day

MULLANPUR, India: Mumbai Indians managed to fend off a valiant effort by Punjab Kings batsman Ashutosh Sharma to win by nine runs in a fiercely fought IPL thriller on Thursday.
Invited to bat first, Mumbai Indians started off on a decent note. After losing only two wickets in the first 12 overs, Suryakumar Yadav went on to smash an impressive 78 runs off 53 balls to help the team post a solid 192-7.
The second innings began on a disastrous note for the Punjab Kings, with fast bowler Gerald Coetzee and Indian pacer Japsrit Bumrah striking quick to leave them reeling at 14-3 at the end of the second over.
Sharma eventually managed to help rebuild the innings with an explosive 61 runs off 28 balls, aided ably by Shashank Singh (41) and Harpreet Brar (21), but it was ultimately not enough to carry them through the day.
Punjab Kings acting captain Sam Curran said it was “heart-breaking” for his team to take it close and still lose.
“This team loves a close game. Got well to get close, thanks to Ashutosh... Hopefully we can win the close ones and get the momentum,” Curran added.
Mumbai openers Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma kicked off the first innings with an 18 run partnership before Kishan, who hit eight runs off eight balls, fell in the third over leaving the team at 18-1.
Sharma, who scored a 25-ball 36, built another partnership with Suryakumar Yadav before falling in the 12th over. Yadav went on to smash 78 runs off 53 balls before being dismissed in the 17th over.
Young Tilak Varma went on to rack up a solid 18-ball 34, with the assistance of cameos from Hardik Pandya (10) and Tim David (14), to help Mumbai wrap up the first innings at 192-7.
The game seemed in the bag in the early portion of the second innings, partly due to sharp bowling by Coetzee and Bumrah, who took three wickets each.
When the glimmer of hope given by Sharma was extinguished, Kagiso Rabada put up a last-ditch attempt with eight runs off three balls but ultimately ended up falling in the last over.
“What a game. We started really well. Cricket’s a funny game. We thought we had it, they battled really well. Then it was like a see-saw,” said Coetzee.


Marketing as much behind expansion of Asia Cup as merit

Marketing as much behind expansion of Asia Cup as merit
Updated 18 April 2024
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Marketing as much behind expansion of Asia Cup as merit

Marketing as much behind expansion of Asia Cup as merit
  • Non-cricket fans may struggle to comprehend the links between the Asia Challenger Cup, the Asia Premier League and the Asia Cup

MUSCAT: Even to cricket aficionados — sometimes referred to as badgers — the various ways teams can qualify for the world’s major tournaments might appear opaque.

As may the term “badger”. Badgers are known for their tenacity, focus and persistence, qualities which can apply to those who dedicate chunks of their life to the game, its history, statistics, spectating, discussion and administration. This is not a complete list, but it provides a flavor.

A test case for tournament opaqueness is the Asia Cup. Non-badgers can be forgiven if they fail to comprehend the links between the Asia Challenger Cup, the Asia Premier League and the Asia Cup. They all fall under the aegis of the Asia Cricket Council and their existence represents an attempt by the organization to provide a more coherent regime for qualification into the big event — without using the word “qualification.”

The situation was much simpler in 1983, when the ACC was founded with the aim of promoting goodwill between Asian countries. In 1984, the first edition of the Asia Cup was held in Sharjah, where the ACC was based. It was One Day International in format and India won, but then boycotted the 1986 event because of strained relations with Sri Lanka. Strained political relations with India caused Pakistan to boycott it in 1991 event, whilst the 1993 cup was cancelled for the same reasons. Sadly, the ACC’s original aim was sorely tested almost from the outset.

Subsequent tournaments did not fit any regular temporal pattern. It was not until 2009 that the tournament was regularized onto a biennial basis. In 2015, the ACC announced the tournament would be played on rotation between ODI and Twenty20 International formats. Despite the introduction of a group stage to allow a slight expansion in the number of teams, the tournament has normally had only six competitors.

The International Cricket Council’s decision in April 2018 to grant T20I status to all 104 member nations – both men’s and women’s teams - has had far-reaching effects on cricket, including the Asia Cup. The number of countries with teams playing formalized T20 cricket at international level has grown rapidly.

It could be argued that the decision democratized cricket for both men and women. The 50-over ODI format requires a longer commitment and a deeper allocation of resources beyond the means of many of the boards administering cricket. T20 cricket offered a quicker, less resource-intensive route for the teams of associate member countries to test themselves not only amongst their peers, but also against the full members on the pitch. It has become a format for the many, not the few.

However, there remains a huge gulf between funds available to associate members and full members. This situation is exacerbated by the ICC’s decision-making regime which allows very little representation for associates. In the latest, 161st edition of the Wisden Almanack, its editor berates last year’s decision to increase the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s share of ICC’s central funds from 25 to 38.5 percent. It is not as if it needs the funds.

The BCCI argues that, since it brings the lion’s share of revenue into the game, it should be proportionately rewarded. This argument suggests a desire to control other members rather than encourage their development. Wisden’s editor asks: “Is it really beyond the wit of the administrators to distribute cash according to need, not greed?” By way of example, the West Indies cricket board receives just under 5 percent of ICC central funds. No wonder its premier players frequent the game’s franchise leagues.

The views of Wisden’s editor will probably be regarded in cricket’s power circles as a rage against the dying of the light for a previous regime, governed from England. Whilst it is true that regime was as concerned with its own protection as the current one, its idea of spreading the game was somewhat parochial. It is in that context that the ICC’s mission to spread the game should be seen. Now, cricket is not only played internationally in countries which raise the eyebrows of many when the name is mentioned, it is also accompanied by grass roots growth.

Given the recognized closeness between the ICC and the BCCI, whose secretary is also president of the ACC, the motives for restructuring the Asia Cup are worth exploring. If it is accepted that T20I cricket has the potential to provide a more level playing field, at least in terms of recognition of performance to a global standard, then the competitive structures should encourage meritocracy. This does lead to criticism that the breaking of records by associate players dilutes those set by full member players. There was such an example in Oman this week when Nepal’s Dipendra Singh Airee hit six sixes in an over, no mean feat in any standard of cricket.

This achievement will have set off the cricket badgers. One remarkable coincidence is that the umpire at the bowler’s end had also stood on another occasion when six sixes had been struck in an over. The badgers should also reflect on the possibility that the Asia Cup structure made this possible. At the base of the three-tier structure is the Asia Challenger Cup, from which two teams progress to the second tier, the Premier Cup. The winner of that is elevated to the Asia Cup with the full members. The pathway provides every ACC member with a chance to strive for this nirvana.

Yet the structure is not just about merit, it is also about commercial opportunity. Three stand-alone competitions offer the opportunity, it is argued, for each to be marketed separately, thus increasing their commercial potential. The most visible sponsorship at both the Challenger and Premier Cups has been by DafaNews and 1XBet, plus FanCode. This is sponsorship of a highly specific, and in some eyes potentially contentious, nature. Badgers may need to be tenacious in rooting out the relationship between the new Asia Cup structure and its sponsors.