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Consistency key for dangerous WI at World Cup: Lara

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MUMBAI: West Indies are replete with match-winners but consistency will be key to their success in English conditions at this year’s World Cup, batting great Brian Lara has said.
Teeming with tearaway fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen, West Indies were once considered invincible and won the opening two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979.
Their glory days, however, are long over and the twice winners had to go through a qualifying tournament to book their spot in the 10-team tournament in England and Wales.
The last bilateral series win for West Indies, who are ranked ninth in One-day Internationals, came in 2014 but they showed signs of improvement against England.
Jason Holder’s men drew a five-match ODI series against top-ranked England 2-2 at home recently, in a timely boost before the May 30-July 14 showpiece event.
The likes of opening batsman Chris Gayle, all-rounder Andre Russell and spinner Sunil Narine are also much in demand in Twenty20 leagues across the globe.
“Look at the Indian Premier League, look at the leagues around the world, we have got players that are the most wanted in the world,” Lara, 49, told reporters in Mumbai at a promotional event held recently.
“We have got match-winners, but we are going to need a little more than match-winners in English conditions to win the World Cup. We need a team that can create consistency.
“If we can get to the knock-out stages, we can knock out any team. We have seen that in the past. But consistency is going to take us right through to the finals.”
Former West Indies captain Lara, considered one of the very best the Caribbean islands have ever produced, retired after the 2007 World Cup at home with over 10,000 runs in ODIs. He also scored close to 12,000 runs in Tests.
Lara credited franchise leagues like the IPL for creating interest among kids in the West Indies and giving young players a platform to showcase their talent before they graduate to international cricket.


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Punjab fall short again

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Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.

On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.

 

Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.

However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.

After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.

Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.

Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.

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Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC

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Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.

The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.

The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.

 

“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.

“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.

Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.

“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.

“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.

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MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton

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London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.

Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.

 

Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.

Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.

United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.

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