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Root’s England target rare series sweep in Sri Lanka

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London : England will look to complete the rare feat of securing a 3-0 series sweep in Sri Lanka when Joe Root`s confident touring side take on the depleted hosts in the third and final Test .

Ricky Ponting`s all-conquering Australian side were the first to win 3-0 in Sri Lanka 14 years ago, while a Virat Kohli-led India repeated the feat in August last year.

Having ended a 17-year-long wait for a series win in Sri Lanka, England will climb a place to second spot in Test rankings behind India, who they defeated 4-1 at home this year, reversing a 4-0 away series loss to Kohli`s side at the end of 2016.

 

“Only two sides have won 3-0 here… and they were both the number one side,” Root told reporters this week. “So it would give the guys a huge amount of confidence if we could carry the momentum, skill levels and smart nature with which we`ve played these first two tests into the next one.

“It would be a nice follow-on to this tour to be going on and playing in India now. It`s a very difficult place to go and play, but we would have a good chance. Better than we had previously.It`s hard to say (how we would do), but the most important thing is that we`re on that upward curve. We`re where we want to be,”he added.

The hosts have been weakened by the loss of spin ace Rangana Herath to retirement after the opening Test in Galle and they will also be deprived of promising off-spinner Akila Dananjaya, who took eight wickets in the last match in Pallekele, including career-best figures of 6-115 in the second innings.


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East Bengal, FC Barcelona explore possibility of tie-up

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Mumbai: East Bengal and Barcelona are exploring to establish and association between India’s premier football club and the LaLiga giants. Senior officials from the two clubs have met at the Quess House in Bengaluru to explore the possibilities of the proposed tie-up. The meeting was facilitated by Rakuten.

Bengaluru-based Quess controls the East Bengal football team,

FC Barcelona’s principal sponsor and global innovation partner, Rakuten is reportedly advising the LaLiga defending champions to expand their market worldwide. India can be one of the priority destinations for the club as LaLiga is already exploring the possibilities in the huge Indian sports market.

 

East Bengal has a Spanish connection. Coach Alejandro Menendez has been a former Real Madrid youth academy coach and East Bengal has extended his contract for two years. The club is reportedly willing to recruit a few more players from Spain next season.

Association with top international clubs is not unprecedented for Indian football clubs. East Bengal in the past has had a tie-up with Premier League side Leicester City, whereas another I-League team Minerva Punjab have recently signed an MoU with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach. Chennai City FC had also partnered with Swiss club FC Basel.

Quess had announced on Wednesday that they are exploring the possibility of a tie-up FC Barcelona.

East Bengal FC chairman Ajit Isaac said that the city-based team is keen on being part of the Japanese company’s expansion plans via Lionel Messi’s club, adds national daily .

“Senior officials of the Spanish giants, FC Barcelona and Quess East Bengal Football Club team, met to explore the possibility of an association between the two clubs. The meeting facilitated by Rakuten, the global innovation partner and sponsor of FC Barcelona, was held at Quess House in Bengaluru. Rakuten is incidentally advising FCB on expanding its footprint worldwide,” Isaac has stated on East Bengal’s social media platform.


A likely deal between the two clubs will also boost the growth of Indian football.

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‘Pogba doesn’t want to be at Man Utd’

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London: Paul Pogba does not want to be at Manchester United, claims Gary Neville, with transfer talk and the influence of his agent, Mino Raiola, leading the Real Madrid-linked midfielder to have his head turned.

Questions have been asked of the Frenchman’s future throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

Struggles under Jose Mourinho sparked the exit rumours, with there seemingly no way that both men could continue working together at Old Trafford.

 

A change in the dugout delivered an initial reversal in fortune for United and Pogba, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reigniting the spark in a talismanic figure.

The 26-year-old has, however, endured another dip and Neville believes his days in England could now be numbered, with his focus shifting amid reports of interest being shown from afar.

“I think he is world class,” former Red Devils defender Neville told Sky Sports.

“I don’t think he wants to be here, that’s his problem.

“I think his agent’s into him.

“I said two, three months ago when he was brilliant, he’s done brilliantly for Ole, by the way, he’s scored I think 11 goals, seven assists, but I honestly thought a couple of months ago we sat in this studio at the Liverpool game and everything was brilliant about Paul Pogba and I said ‘I believe that it will resurface, the issues will resurface’.

“We know his agent, we know the influence he has on him, we know that Pogba has got his head turned by other clubs and he’s playing like somebody who’s had his head turned.

“He’s playing like somebody who doesn’t quite want to be here.

“The problem is if a player doesn’t want to be at a club and he has the influence that I think he has in the dressing room, I think the likes of [Jesse] Lingard, [Marcus] Rashford, [Anthony] Martial, I think they do come off him.

“And I think if he’s not quite at it and not raring to go, then it is a problem, it is a massive problem.”

Pogba is tied to a contract with United through to 2021, with that agreement including a 12-month extension option.

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What I am learning from Ponting, Ganguly will use during WC: Dhawan

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Mumbai: India opener Shikhar Dhawan has said he is learning a lot from legends like Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly and would appropriately use that knowledge during the 50-over World Cup, starting May 30 in the UK.

Dhawan is currently playing in the IPL for Delhi Capitals, coached by former Australia skipper Ponting while former India captain Ganguly is associated with the franchise as advisor.

“Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly…I am very fortunate that I am working with them now. They both have been great leaders. It is very good to be close to them because I can get their insight, know what was their mindset, what was their approach when they used to play or captain their sides,” explained Dhawan, who has scored 5,355 runs in 128 ODIs.

 

“I am already learning so many things from them (and) it is helping me. I am grateful (for) that. I am sure those things are helping me in the IPL and I am going to take it to the World Cup,” he added.

Dhawan, meanwhile, also heaped praises on his Delhi Capitals teammate Prithvi Shaw, saying he is the next big thing in Indian cricket. “So Prithvi, I would say it is a very big achievement to play for India at the age of 19, especially India is a dominating country for batsmen (and there are) lots of batsmen, so someone coming in at 19 is a big achievement and he has done very well for the Indian team.

“He is a very talented boy and I am sure he is going to do wonders for our country,” the dashing left-handed batsman said after being roped in as the brand ambassador of lubricants firm–GS Caltex India–at a function here on Wednesday night.

Shaw had shone on his Test debut against the West Indies at Rajkot last year.

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