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Hopes dashed, England fans taste bitter defeat once again

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Moscow :Some England soccer fans sobbed while others looked to the future with confidence after their once improbable dreams of a first World Cup final in more than 50 years were dashed by Croatia .
“We blew our chances,” 17-year-old Josh Ogunde said after watching the 2-1 semi-final defeat with friends near Trafalgar Square in central London as the disappointed crowds streamed home.
“I just believe we can come back another time, and I hope before I die I see England win the World Cup,” Ogunde said.
Matt Reece, 25, who works in marketing, said England had far outperformed the low expectations of them when the tournament began.
But he lamented England’s failure to take full advantage of what appeared an unusually easy route to the final, avoiding most of the heavyweight teams in Russia.
“They’ve been unbelievable the whole tournament but at the end of the day, it was our best chance ever and we haven’t taken it,” Reece said.
After watching their team stumble at major tournaments for decades, often falling to much smaller nations, England supporters had begun to think that 2018 might be a different story.
If they had beaten Croatia, England would have reached only their second World Cup final. In their other appearance, in 1966, in London, they entered popular folklore by beating West Germany, an achievement that many fans have long thought they would never see again.
Despite taking the lead early in the first half on Wednesday, England suffered the familiar story of World Cup heartbreak as Croatia equalised in the second half and then claimed the winner in the second period of extra time.
In Moscow, some England fans emerged from the Luzhniki Stadium in tears and being hugged by others while jubilant Croatian supporters celebrated around them.
“It was a good game. Croatia deserved to win,” Mark Burcher, 50, said. Asked how far he thought the still young England team could progress in the next World Cup, he said: “This far, if not the final.”
“A couple of weeks ago, I would have taken this result,” said one man in a red England shirt who declined to give his name. “It’s something to have got this far.”
But Raj Singh, a Canadian who supports England because he has relatives in Britain, said the team may have passed up their best opportunity in a lifetime to reach a World Cup final.
“No way will they have such an easy route next time. Look at the other teams they’ll be up against. France are a young team, Brazil are young,” he said.


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Chahal registers best ODI bowling figures by a spinner Down Under

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Mumbai :Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal on Friday recorded the best bowling figures by a spinner in an ODI clash in Australia, during the series-decider against the Aussies in Melbourne.

Chahal picked six wickets while conceding just 42 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), registering a dominant performance against the hosts, in a crucial clash. He also became the first spinner to pick six wickets in an ODI in Australia.

The bowler’s excellent performance certainly played a key role in India restricting Australia to a total of just 230.

 

The 28-year-old cricketer further equalled the best-ever ODI figures registered by any bowler in an ODI clash in Australia, alongside former Indian fast-bowler Ajit Agarkar.

Agarkar had accumulated the same tally as recorded by Chahal, against the hosts at the same venue, back in 2004.

Australian paceman Mitchell Starc enjoys a bowling tally, which trails the figures registered by the duo by a single run, having picked six wickets for 43 runs against India at the MCG, back in 2015.

English fast-bowler Chris Woakes is the fourth name on the list, after accumulating figures of 6/45 against Australia in Brisbane, 2011.

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Phogat becomes first Indian nominated for Laureus Awards

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Mumbai: Ace Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat has become the first Indian to receive a nomination in the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards to be held in Monica on 18 February.

The 24-year-old Indian, who made a sensational comeback after battling a long injury lay-off to win a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Jakarta Asian Games in 2018, has been nominated for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year.

The Haryana wrestler, who was stretchered off after dislocating her knee during the quarterfinals of 50kg freestyle event at the 2016 Olympic Games, has been nominated alongside US Tour Championship winner Tiger Woods, who won his first tournament in five years.

 

Also nominated are four inspirational Winter Olympic athletes; Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu, Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris, US ski racing legend Lindsey Vonn and Dutch Paralympic champion Bibian Mentel-Spee.

The last time an Indian sporting feat made its way to the Laureus World Sports Awards was in 2004 when the Indian cricket team and Pakistan cricket team shared the Laureus Sport for Good Award for playing an International match despite political tensions between the two countries.

Most recently, Magic Bus from India won the Laureus Sport for Good award in 2014. However, Vinesh makes history as the first Indian athlete to be nominated in one of the seven main categories at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

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All foreign stars will play PSL ties in Pakistan, says Mani

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LAHORE: All star cricketers will come to Pakistan to play in the eight matches of the fourth Pakistan Super League (PSL) scheduled for Karachi and Lahore, chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ehsan Mani said.

The PSL matches will be staged from Feb 14 to March 17 at three venues — Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi — in the United Arab Emirates before the remaining fixtures move to Pakistan with Karachi staging five games, including the final, and Lahore three.

Talking to media on sidelines of a friendly cricket match between the Sports Journalists Association of Lahore (SJAL) and the UK-based Pakistani journalists at the Gaddafi Stadium, Mani said a good number of star cricketers had signed up in the six PSL franchises.

 

However, because of security concerns, prominent overseas players have been reluctant to travel to Pakistan. But with the passage of time, the number of prominent cricketers willing to visit Pakistan has risen. In the recent development the ex-South Africa captain A.B. de Villiers has already pledged to play two matches of Lahore Qalandars in Lahore on March 9 and 10.

To a query, Mani said the talks with Cricket Australia are still on to convince them to send their national side to Pakistan for two games of the five-match One-day International series in the UAE in March despite reports of Australia’s expressing their reluctance regarding playing here.

The PCB chief declared that he has persuaded CA to send a security delegation to assess the current situation in Pakistan before taking a final decision, which is expected to be taken before the PSL begins in the second week of February.

Mani further said that talks were on with the cricket boards of South Africa and England to send different age-group teams to Pakistan.

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