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England beat India by 8 wickets to enter final

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London : India’s dream of winning a maiden global title lay in tatters after a questionable omission and an inexplicable batting collapse saw them crash to an eight-wicket defeat against England in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World T20.

Reigning ODI World World Champions England will now meet Australia in the summit clash after the Southern Stars beat defending champions West Indies by 72 runs.

India decided to leave their senior most player Mithali Raj, a move that will certainly be questioned, after India lost their last eight wickets for 24 runs to end up scoring a below-par 112 in 19.3 overs.

It was a walk in the park for England as seasoned campaigners Amy Jones (53 no, 47 balls) and Natalie Sciver (52 off 40 balls) added 92 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand to finish the match in only 17.1 overs.

It was yet another story of Indian women not showing enough temperament on big match days, having lost the 50-over World Cup final to England at Lord’s last year and the Asia Cup T20 final to Bangladesh, earlier this year.

As many as seven players failed to get double digit scores and the spin-attack was unable to adapt to a different surface at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium after playing all their matches at Providence in Guyana.

The bold decision to drop Mithali, the highest run-getter in the shortest format, may haunt the Indian team for the longest time to come as coach Ramesh Powar and captain Harmanpreet Kaur will have a lot of answering to do in the coming days.

India opener Smriti Mandhana scored briskly at the top of the order, making 34 off 23 balls

On a track where the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat, it was the Englishwomen,. who came up trumps with left-arm spinners Kirstie Gordon (2/20 in 4 overs) and Sophie Ecclestone (2/22 in 3.2 overs) varied the pace of their deliveries, something their Indian counterparts completely failed.

Skipper Heather Knight’s off-breaks also came in handy as she had the best figures of 3 for 9 in two overs as none of India’s middle and lower-order batters could force the pace.

Once Smriti Mandhana (33, 24 balls), Jemimah Rodriguez (26 off 26 balls) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (16, 20 balls) were dismissed, there wasn’t any Plan B with Veda Krishnamurthy completely out of form and Deepti Sharma (7, 10 balls) incapable of hitting big shots.

Poor game sense of not reading the pitch also played its part as most of the Indian batswomen charged at the deliveries rather than playing deep inside the crease.

That was the ploy that Jones and Sciver deployed while facing the Indian spin quartet, who were below average on the day.

At Guyana, it was a slow track where the ploy of taking pace off the deliveries worked for the likes of Poonam Yadav (0/29 in 4 overs), Deepti (1/24 in 4 overs) and Anuja Patil (0/27 in 3.1 overs).

However the Antigua track was even slower where they needed change the pace and bowl a little faster. The deliveries being slow through the air gave both Englishwomen enough time to rock on the backfoot and hit shots all round the wicket as a much-hyped clash turned into a lopsided contest.


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Sarfraz wants team to play fearless cricket in SA

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KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed urged his fellow team-mates to play “without fear” during their forthcoming tour of South Africa — a country where they have won only two Tests during their past five tours.

The Pakistani side is en route to South Africa to play three Tests, five ODIs and three Twenty20 Inter­nationals, with the first Test starting in Centurion on Dec 26.

Pakistan head into the series after losing 2-1 to New Zealand in the UAE last week. In the wake of the tough loss, Sarfraz said he still had high hopes of earning a good result against the Proteas.

“Conditions in South Africa are tough with bouncy and seaming pitches so anyone who plays without fear and with a big heart will succeed,” Sarfraz told AFP.

Pakistan’s two wins out of 12 Tests in South Africa came in 1998 and 2007, having lost nine with just one draw.

On their last tour in 2013, Pakistan were routed 3-0 and bowled out for their lowest Test score of 49 in the first Test in Johannesburg, with both senior batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq in the line-up.

Now without the two stalwarts, Pakistan will look to Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq to help guide the squad.

“We need big innings from both Azhar and Shafiq and they are capable of doing that, so if we put good totals on board we have a good bowling attack to win the match,” said Sarfraz, who also singled out recalled paceman Mohammad Amir as key to any success.

“Amir is back after a good performance at the domestic level so we hope he gets us key wickets in Tests,” said Sarfraz of Amir, who was dropped from the series against Australia and New Zealand due to poor form.

Pakistan open the tour with a three-day game against Cricket South Africa Invitation XI at Benoni from Dec 19.

The second Test is in Cape Town from Jan 3-7 and the third in Johannesburg from Jan 11-15.

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AC Milan crash out of Europa League

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London: Olympiakos Piraeus pulled off a stunning 3-1 Europa League win over AC Milan at the Karaiskakis Stadium that put them into the last-32 and sent the Italians crashing out as the remaining places in the knockout stage were decided.

All the goals in Greece came in a thrilling second half, with Milan defender Cristian Zapata scoring an own goal to make it 2-0 to Olympiakos in the 70th minute, before he pulled one back for his side two minutes later.

Yet Milan`s defensive frailty was punished when Konstantinos Fortounis scored from the penalty spot in the 81st minute to give his side the win that left them second in Group F on 10 points.

They edged out the seven-times European champions on goal difference and progressed along with group winners Real Betis.

Chelsea dropped points for the first time this season in the competition as they drew 2-2 with Vidi FC in Budapest, but the game was overshadowed by allegations of anti-Semitic chanting by the visiting fans.

Swedish side Malmo pulled off one of the bigger shocks of the round, winning 1-0 away to 10-man Besiktas to finish runners-up behind Genk in Group I.

Besiktas`s Ricardo Quaresma was given a straight red card for a reckless tackle on Franz Brorsson in the second half.

Bayer Leverkusen demolished AEK Larnaca 5-1 to finish top of Group A, with FC Zurich finishing runners-up following a 1-1 draw with Ludogorets.

Group C winners Zenit St Petersburg were comfortably beaten 2-0 away by Slavia Prague, who claimed the runners-up spot, rendering Bordeaux`s 1-0 win away to FC Copenhagen meaningless as both sides went out.

Celtic, who were beaten 2-1 at home by a Salzburg side that had already secured top spot in Group B, needed a helping hand from Rosenborg.

The Norwegians secured a 1-1 draw at home to RB Leipzig that knocked out the German side and sent the Scottish champions through.

Despite a 3-0 thumping by Sevilla, Krasnodar made it out of Group J as Standard Liege could only manage a scoreless draw away to Akhisar.

They will be joined in next Monday`s draw for the knockout stage by Villarreal, Rapid Vienna, Dynamo Kiev and Stade Rennais.

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India made a mistake by leaving out Jadeja for 2nd Test: Vaughan

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Perth: Former England cricketer Michael Vaughan on Friday said that visitors India made a mistake by not including Ravindra Jadeja in the playing XI for the ongoing second Test against Australia here.

The 44-year-old also went onto predict an Australian win.

“Think India have made a mistake not playing @imjadeja … Not only for his bowling but his Batting at No 8 … India have a very long tail this Week … Aussies to win … #AUSvIND #Perth,” he wrote on Twitter.

Virat Kohli, who lost the toss, decided to go ahead with four seamers on a green surface in Perth which resulted in Jadeja missing out. Ravichandran Ashwin was ruled out of the second Test due to an abdominal strain.

Australia’s openers made a solid start on the first day of the second Test against India in Perth on Friday, with under-pressure Aaron Finch not out 28 and Marcus Harris on 36.

After captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bat, the home side were 66 without loss at lunch in scorching conditions in the inaugural Test at the 60,000-capacity Perth Stadium.

On a pitch with a distinct greenish tinge, Harris looked solid throughout in only his second Test, smashing six fours in his 76-ball knock.

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