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RCB, Royals hope to continue momentum

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Mumbai :RCB are placed fifth and Royals sixth on the points table with two points each, with both teams having won their last games after starting the tournament with defeats.

They had lost their opening games to Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively.

RCB notched up their first victory of the season, riding on South African star AB de Villiers’ brilliant half-century to beat Kings XI Punjab by four wickets.

 

RR celebrated their return to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium with a 10-run win over Delhi Daredevils in the rain-hit match, getting past a revised target of 71 runs in six overs as per the Duckworth-Lewis method.

De Villiers and Quinton de Kock, who scored 45 runs to lay the foundation against Punjab, will aim to continue the good work.

Captain Virat Kohli, who has 52 runs under his belt so far, will be itching to make a mark by getting a big knock.

Brendon McCullum also would like to get into the thick of things, especially after getting a golden duck.

Sarfaraz Khan has been disappointing as he managed to get only six runs in two matches and if he does not pulls his socks up quickly, he could lose his place to England’s Moeen Ali, who can also bowl a bit.

Chris Woakes, though successful with the ball, is yet to make an impression with his bat.

The RCB think-tank, including Gary Kirsten, could give a chance to Corey Anderson, who has the ability to hit long and hard.

Both Umesh Yadav and Chris Woakes, who have picked up 5 wickets each, would be keen to snatch the purple cap from MI’s Mayank Markande, who has bagged 7 seven wickets so far.

Much was expected from the spin duo of Yuzuvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar but they have managed to get only 4 wickets between them.

The in-form New Zealand quickie Tim Southee might get a chance to swing his arms.

RR captain Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson, who staged a recovery with a 45 off 40 balls and 37 off 22 balls, respectively, would like to continue in similar vein.

Rahane has scored 58 runs and Samson 86, with 49 being his highest score.

Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi would want to provide entertainment in the death overs as they did against Delhi.

Buttler had hammered two fours and as many sixes in his entertaining knock before being bowled off a slower-ball from Mohammad Shami.

Big Bash star D’Arcy Short will also look to get going, especially after getting only 10 runs in two games.

RR’s bowling attack comprising pacers Ben Laughlin and Dhawal Kulkarni had done well to keep DD batsmen in check with their variations.

Ben Stokes, the most-expensive signing at the IPL Player Auction 2018, hasn’t been in the best of batting form recently, but RR will hope he can start hitting a few balls out of the park soon. He has just managed 21 runs in two games.


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Most football associations support 48-team WC in Qatar:FIFA

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London: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said, “Most soccer associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries.”

Infantino told in a news conference that the Qataris were open to the larger format.

“FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over,” he added.

 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

Speaking on it, Infantino said, “We are doing football not politics.”

FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.

“Most football associations across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.

“If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great,” he further said.

Infantino also quoted that it was “premature” to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.

“I welcome all bids. The more the better,” he said.

Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.

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Ready to bat anywhere:Dhoni

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Mumbai: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, expressed his willingness to bat at any position in the Indian batting order, following a match-winning knock in the series-decider against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The veteran, who was named as the man of the series following consistent performances in the ODI clashes, stepped up with a quality knock yet again following an early dismissal for the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.

The 37-year-old cricketer scored 87 runs in 114 deliveries, stitching an unbeaten 121 run stand off 115 balls with Kedar Jadhav, as India chased down a target of 231 with four balls to spare.

 

“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni.

“Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he added.

The cricketer was full of praise for Kedar Jadhav, who he credited for providing valuable support at the other end, on a slow wicket.

“It was a slow wicket, so it was difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well, so we wanted to take it deep and that was the plan,” said Dhoni.

“Of course supported brilliantly by Kedar, who plays unorthodox shots. He did a great job in executing,” concluded the cricketer.

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Pakistan seek first win on SA tour as ODI battle begins

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PORT ELIZABETH: Pakistan will be looking to chalk up the first win of their South African tour when they face the Proteas in the first of five One-day Internationals in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s team, swept 3-0 in the preceding Test series, enjoy playing at St George’s Park, winning two of their three ODIs at the venue, with the other washed out.

Pakistan beat South Africa by 182 runs in 2002 when Abdul Razzaq and Saleem Elahi hit hundreds, and then by one run in 2013 in a game reduced to 45-overs-a-side due to rain.

 

South Africa hold an edge over Pakistan in ODIs as far as their head-to-head record is concerned.

So far, the Proteas have faced Pakistan in 73 ODIs, winning 47, losing 25 while one match ended in no result. Pakistan do not hold an impressive record (matches 29, wins 10, losses 18, one no result) in their matches staged against South Africa at the latter’s home venues).

Interestingly however, Pakistan on their last tour to the African country in 2013 when Misbah-ul-Haq the led tourists, clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1, the country’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil.

The tourists currently playing in South Africa have been dealt a boost with the news that Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two ODIs in the series — Saturday’s fixture and Tuesday’s match in Durban.

However, they will have to contend with fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who bagged 24 wickets at 14.70 during South Africa’s win in the Test series and now looks nailed to make his ODI debut.

Rassie van der Dussen should also make his ODI bow having finished as top-run scorer in the recently-concluded Mzansi Super League, South Africa’s new T20 competition.

The 28-year-old hit 469 runs in 11 innings, including four fifties, for champions Jozi Stars and should join Heinrich Klaasen — De Kock’s deputy as wicketkeeper-batsman — in South Africa’s middle order.

Left-handed Shan Masood could open the batting for Pakistan having impressed in the Tests while pacer Mohammad Amir is back in the visitors’ ODI squad for the first time since the Asia Cup staged in the UAE last September.

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