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We had played average cricket in 2011 WC: Gary

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Dubai: Gary Kirsten, the former South African opening batsman who coached India in the 2011 World Cup triumph, believes that the team had played average cricket in the tournament and was really good in the quarter-final clash against Australia.

“We had played average through the tournament, we had a really good quarter-final where we were under pressure. In my head, I just thought we are not playing that well and winning. Imagine, when we play well,” International Cricket Council quoted Kirsten as saying.

India clashed with Sri Lanka in the finals of 2011 World Cup. Sri Lanka posted 274 runs on the board for the loss of six wickets on the back of a brilliant century by Mahela Jayawardene.

 

In reply, India were struggling at 31/2 but Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni staged a tremendous comeback for the Men in Blue allowing the team to shrug off the target. Kirsten believes that the match was a tight encounter, but he knew that the team had good players so there’s nothing to worry about.

“It was tight all the way. We bowled OK – (274) is a really competitive score in the final. [I thought] this team was capable of doing that from a batting perspective. That for me was … ‘OK we can lose a few wickets here, we have got too many good players.’ That’s exactly what happened,” Kirsten said.

“We just had too many good players. Someone was going to get a hundred, and in the end, Gautam Gambhir got (97). He was the rock of our batting line-up. We just had great players around,” he added.

Kirsten also gave insights on why MS Dhoni, then ODI skipper of India promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh in the finals of the match.

“There was just some thinking around … having a left-hand-right-hand combination against [Muttiah] Muralitharan. That’s why he [Dhoni] was quite keen to go up the order. He just knocked on the window, and said, ‘I want to go in next and I’d be good for that’. I was not going to say no,” Kirsten said.

Gary Kirsten is currently coaching the Indian Premier League (IPL) side Royal Challengers Bangalore.

India takes on New Zealand and Bangladesh in the warm-up matches before the upcoming World Cup.

India will play against South Africa in their opening match of the World Cup on June 5.


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Ganguly backs Dhawan to shine at ICC World Cup

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Mumbai:There is not a bowler in the world that can stop Shikhar Dhawan when the opener is in determined mood and the left-hander will be crucial to Indias hopes at this years Cricket World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly has said.

Dhawan smashed 97 not out off 63 balls in Delhi Capitalsseven-wicket victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in Fridays Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at Eden Gardens, much to the delight of Ganguly, an advisor to the Capitals.

Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma are India`s batting mainstays in one-day cricket but Ganguly puts Dhawan, who has 16 centuries from 128 ODIs with a 93-plus strike rate, in the same league.

 

“The three best players in one-day cricket — Dhawan, Rohit, Virat,” Ganguly told the IPL website. “When he (Dhawan) gets set and gets in he`s unstoppable.

“All I expect from him is determination. When he is determined, no bowler in the world can stop him.”

Dhawan`s second fifty of this IPL season, which catapulted Delhi into the top four, augurs well for India ahead of the May 30 to July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.

Along with opening partner Rohit, the onus will be on Dhawan to give India strong starts in the tournament and the southpaw has performed well on English soil.

Named man of the series in their triumphant 2013 Champions Trophy campaign, Dhawan was also the tournament`s leading scorer four years later when India lost in the final to Pakistan.

“If he gets set, he takes the game away. This is how he plays for India,” Ganguly, who led India to the final of the 2003 World Cup, later told reporters. “He`s a class act.”

Two-time champions India begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

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Olympique Lyon’s Champions League spot under threat after Nantes defeat

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London: Olympique Lyonnais` Champions League qualifying hopes were hit as they were beaten 2-1 at Nantes in Ligue 1.

Third-placed Lyon, who hold the final Champions League qualifying spot, were undone by Anthony Limbombes late free-kick after Martin Terrier had cancelled out Kalifa Coulibalys opener for Nantes.

Lyon are on 56 points with six games left, six ahead of fourth-placed St Etienne, who play their game in hand at home against Girondins de Bordeaux on Sunday.

 

It was Lyon`s third straight defeat in all competitions after they were knocked out of the French Cup semi-finals by Stade Rennes and lost at home to lowly Dijon in the league last weekend.

The result leaves an even bigger question mark over coach Bruno Genesio`s future, with the club set to make a decision on whether to extend his contract at the end of the season.

With Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and Marcelo on the bench, Lyon got off to a bad start.

Coulibaly opened the scoring in the 11th minute after collecting a though ball from Majeed Waris.

Lyon were shaken by the hosts but weathered the storm and equalised one minute before the interval when Terrier curled a fine shot into the back of the net to finish off a counter-attack.

Limbombe earned Nantes victory seven minutes from fulltime with an inch-perfect free-kick, lifting the Canaries up to 15th in the table on 34 points.

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Defender Gomez sign two-year contract extension in East Bengal

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Mumbai: East Bengal fans will heave a huge sigh of relief after their star defender Borja Gomes decided to sign a contract extension with the club and not follow Jobby Justin to go out. The Kolkata-based club is in the process of becoming a part of the ISL next season with I-League’s future looking bleak.

East Bengal came agonizingly close to lift the I-League title yet again this season before Chennai City FC eventually won it as the Kolkata club finished second.And with I-League looking to either get dissolved or set to get demoted to the second division, it was important for East Bengal to finish high on the table.

However, that wasn’t enough for the club to retain their star striker Jobby Justin, who signed a pre-contract with two-time ISL champions ATK just after the I-League ended and the Super Cup was in its quarter-final stage. But, the club was quick to react after that setback and on Friday handed a two-year contract extension to Spanish defender Borja Gomez.

 

“East Bengal FC are pleased to announce the renewal of contract with Borja Gomez Perez for the next two seasons,” the club said in a statement.

“According to him, this is the best team and ‘fans are the best in India’,” the statement added.

The Madrid-born La-Liga star, who is nick-named as the ‘Senapati’, was one of the key members for the club last season and has been a motivator for the team both on and off the field. Gomez has previously played for Granada CF, Real Oviedo, Hercules CF, Real Murcia and more before East Bengal had signed him from UD Sanse in January last year.

East Bengal has already announced their bid for ISL in a board meeting and are currently waiting for the terms to get financially acceptable.

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