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Messi bags hat-trick to hit 50-goal mark in 2018

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BARCELONA: Lionel Messi hit the 50-goal mark for club and country in 2018 after scoring his 43rd career hat-trick for Barcelona /
Messi’s brilliance powered Barcelona to a 5-0 victory at Levante and kept the defending champions three points ahead of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

It also avenged Barcelona’s only loss in the league last season when Levante stunned the visitors 5-4 in the penultimate round in a match that Messi missed.

Levante had a promising start, pressuring Barcelona up the pitch and creating scoring chances that included Emmanuel Boateng’s shot that hit the crossbar in the 33rd.

 

Messi put Barcelona in charge two minutes later when he dribbled across the box to draw in three defenders before flicking the ball back for the unmarked Suarez to stab home.

Messi made it 2-0 just before halftime when Sergio Busquets played him clear on a solo break after intercepting a pass in midfield. Messi got his second goal in the 47th when Suarez recovered the ball and passed wide to Jordi Alba. Suarez then used a dummy run to let Alba’s pass run through for Messi to drive in a left-footed shot.

Suarez also cued Messi’s third goal in the 60th when he dribbled through the legs of Cabaco before crossing for Arturo Vidal, who then found Messi all alone to tap the ball in.

“It’s fantastic. Beyond the numbers, which are excellent, I can sense that my team always wants more and has connected with our fans,” Sevilla coach Pablo Machin said. “This connection gives us a bonus and makes us super competitive.” In a match that pitted Machin against the team he coached last season, Ever Banega and Pablo Sarabia broke down Girona’s defense with a pair of second-half goals.


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ICC World Cup 2019: Team India to don new jersey for away matches

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The hype surrounding the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales is on an escalation with the tournament only a week away. The mega event is scheduled to get underway on May 30 and Team India is deemed as one of the favourites to get their hands on the coveted trophy. All the teams wear special kits for the World Cup and the Indian team also had unveiled their jersey for the tournament, however, there’s an addition to it.

As per the ICC’s World Cup schedule, the teams have home and away matches. The Men in Blue will not actually be completely Blue when they play those away games. The Indian team will play with a new and differently coloured clothing for all the away matches in the tournament. Their first match is against South Africa on June 5 at the Rose Bowl in Southampton.

Their away matches are versus Afghanistan on June 22 at The Rose Bowl in Southampton and versus hosts England on June 30 at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. As many as four teams- England, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan- have blue as their preferred colour. However, since England are the hosts, the other teams will have to change their colours when they lock horns with the Eoin Morgan-led Brits.

 

Different outfits for Team India

India’s jersey is yet to be released and will see the players wear a darker blue in the front, whereas orange will dominate the sleeves as well as the back.

On the other hand, teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa have a common colour – green jerseys. As a result, these teams will also need to look for alternatives for a few matches in the tournament. Australia, Windies and New Zealand should not have to change the colours since they already having distinct jerseys.

The opening match of the World Cup will be played between hosts England and South Africa at the Kennington Oval in London. Apart from India, England are also on the expected winner’s list for the 50-overs tournament as they are ICC’s number-one ranked ODI team at the moment.

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ICC World Cup 2019: Sachin Tendulkar picks his semi-finalists ahead of WC

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Legendary India cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has given his opinion into which four teams he feels will enter the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup 2019 which is scheduled to be played between May 30 and July 14 in England and Wales.

“India, England, Australia should be in the semis. The fourth could be one of New Zealand or Pakistan,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by ESPN Cricinfo. ((Complete coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019))

Earlier, speaking to Hindustan Times, Tendulkar had said India have a well-balanced squad and they are capable of pulling off something special in UK.

 

“We have a balanced team which can go out and do something special. The whole team has to chip in, there will be some performers (in different situations, who must say) ‘this is my game; I am batting well or bowling well’. Support is needed from the other end also,” the Master Blaster said.

Tendulkar also heaped praise on wicket-keeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he has a big role to play for Team India.

“Not only in batting, also behind the stumps. He has got the best view; the batters are always looking for the gaps and what areas to target. Standing behind the batsmen, he can see that. He has plenty of suggestions to make and that would come in handy,” Tendulkar said.

“His contribution will be in the form of an experienced keeper observing the game and making suggestions. Also, his experience while batting—how to play those critical moments, how to rotate the strike, when to strike, and when to just build a partnership—will count.”

The first match of the World Cup will be played between England and South Africa on May 30 while India open their campaign against South Africa on June 5.

Before that, the ‘Blue Brigade’ will take on New Zealand and Bangaldesh in two practice matches on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.

India’s 15-member squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.

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Shakib tops ICC ODI all-rounders list

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Dubai: Senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan Wednesday jumped to the top of the latest MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings for all-rounders, which doesn’t feature a single Indian in the top-10 chart.

Shakib, 32, grabbed the top spot just ahead of the ODI World Cup after showcasing fine form during the tri-nation series in Ireland, which Bangladesh famously won to claim their first title in a multi-nation tournament.

In the three matches of the series, Shakib totalled 140 runs, including two unbeaten half-centuries and also picked up two wickets.

 

Shakib now has 359 points, 20 clear of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, the previous holder of the top ranking, who has now slipped to No. 2.

Rashid’s Afghanistan team-mate Mohammad Nabi completes the top three, with 319 points.

Pakistan are the only other team to have two players in the top 10, with Imad Wasim at No. 4 and Mohammad Hafeez claiming the seventh spot.

They are separated by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner (No.5) and England’s Chris Woakes, who leapfrogged four places to No. 6.

West Indies captain Jason Holder is their top-ranked all-rounder at number eight spot followed by Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka.England’s Ben Stokes missed out on the top 10 by one spot, finishing eight points behind Mathews.

Kedar Jadhav, who is part of India’s World Cup team and is recovering from a shoulder injury, is the best-placed Indian at joint 12th spot alongside South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo and Moeen Ali of England.

Hardik Pandya completes the top 20 list.

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