Morgan says tea-sipping celebration was nod to Sophie Turner

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:05 PM IST


Alex Morgan said her tea-sipping celebration at the Women's World Cup was a nod to actress Sophie Turner's amusing Instagram posts.

No, it wasn't a dig at England or a random reference to the Boston Tea Party, or any number of other theories out there.

"My celebration was actually more 'that's the tea,' which is telling a story, spreading news," the U.S. forward said.

Morgan has been criticized for the celebration. Her former teammate on the Orlando Pride, Lianne Sanderson, a broadcast commentator during the World Cup for beIN Sports, called the celebration "distasteful."

"She can celebrate however she wants and I'm a big believer in the Americans and how they celebrate but this was disrespectful," said Sanderson, a former striker for England's national team.

Morgan pretended to sip tea after scoring the go-ahead goal in Tuesday night's semifinal victory over England. Goalkeeper Alysaa Naeher preserved the 2-1 victory by stopping Steph Houghton's penalty kick late in the game.

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News Cricket

Sania Mirza pens down an emotional message after Shoaib Malik bids adieu to ODI cricket

Staff Writer Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:25 PM IST


Shoaib Malik announced his retirement from ODI cricket after his team's last World Cup game against Bangladesh. The former skipper played just three games in the tournament and was axed from the playing XI after accumulating eight runs. He made the news public while speaking to the press after Pakistan's fifth win in the World Cup.

His wife Sania Mirza took to social media to post an emotional message for her husband.

"Every story has an end, but in life every ending is a new beginning’ @realshoaibmalik ?? u have proudly played for your country for 20 years and u continue to do so with so much honour and humility..Izhaan and I are so proud of everything you have achieved but also for who u r (sic)," Sania Mirza wrote.

Following his ODI retirement, Shoaib stated he is disappointed that he was blasted for his ordinary performance in the tournament and is being judged on the basis of just three games he played during the World Cup.

"I have no regrets. But it’s just that I have been too flexible in my batting order. I have batted wherever the team wanted. I have been dropped many times, I missed a few years of international cricket and have been around for 20 years, Malik said. I am disappointed to be judged on three bad games here," said Malik.

News Cricket

After Michael Holding, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur comes down hard on NNR rule

Staff Writer Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:22 PM IST


Win, win, win, win ... out.

Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by 94 runs at Lord's for a fourth straight win and still missed out on the Cricket World Cup semifinals.

Going to the last four instead was New Zealand, a team Pakistan beat by six wickets in the final over last week.

Pakistan secured fifth place and finished on the same points as fourth-placed New Zealand. Both teams had five wins but the Black Caps advanced with a superior net run-rate.

To reach the semis, Pakistan had to win by an unprecedented 316 runs. It didn't take on the challenge and finished on 315-9 with Imam-ul-Haq scoring a 100-ball 100 and Babar Azam 96 in 98. The updated maths meant, to advance to the semis, Pakistan had to bowl out Bangladesh for 7 or less, and that equation died in the second over of the chase.

"I do feel net run-rate needs to be looked at. One really poor game and you're really battling to recover," Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said. His side rued losing its opener to West Indies by seven wickets after being dismissed for 105.

With the benefit of hindsight, Arthur added, "I'd like it to be number of wins and then head to head and then net run-rate in the future that determines places when points are level."

Feature Cricket

Imran Tahir’s Void in an Emotional Contest

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:18 PM IST


Although it is an inconsequential match from the standpoint of the foregone conclusion of the semifinalists for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, given the context in which the two teams played the last time in a World Cup scenario in England, Imran Tahir’s South Africa are more emotionally loaded in their bow out match.

Imran Tahir brings a significant chapter of South Africa’s cricket history to rest after deciding to retire at the end of South Africa’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign. As it turns out, South Africa lost out on contention from the very outset and as a result, will now have the ignominy of playing Australia in their final round robin match.

Not only are South Africa playing Australia for the first time since the infamous sandpaper gate in Cape Town in March, 2019, but also, it will be in a situation which has completely upset the apple cart. South Africa will be fighting for redemption while Australia will be asserting domination as they have right through their World Cup campaign, barring the match against India.

The memory of South Africa playing Australia in a terse semi-final in the 1992 edition that ended in a tie, with Australia going through on the fact that they beat South Africa in the previous round, continues to rankle, now with greater pain and raw emotion. Australia went onto to lift the World Cup. But South Africa have struggled ever since to live down the emotional fracas and labels that ensued that very disturbing loss. Now it would seem they would do anything to have a history even close to their run in the 1999 edition.

Those memories, re-ignited by the World Cup returning to England, have become now a distant mirage as South Africa have not even come close to contesting for a place in the semi-final, let alone rewrite history. What will be even worse is the fact that South Africa will go into the final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 knowing that they have no chance but to cop humiliation and pray for a good showing.

In that light, once again, the end of a career of a player like Imran Tahir, who brought his spin skills over from Pakistan to debut for South Africa in 2011 at the age of thirty-two to now retire at forty years of age with 172 wickets from over one hundred one day internationals calls to light the very real problem facing South Africa cricket where they possess match winning talent but are unable to convert it into a cohesive team performance capable of overturning their World Cup fortunes and history.

Feature Cricket

Semifinalists along expected lines

Partab Ramchand Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:15 PM IST


On the eve of the World Cup the general opinion was that the semifinalists would come from the quintet of Australia, England, India, New Zealand and South Africa with Pakistan having an outside chance and West Indies termed as the dark horses. This judgement was made on recent form and current rankings and now that the semifinalists have been spotted it can be said that things have largely worked out according to predictions.

Australia were always in the forefront and their qualifying was never in doubt with the defending champions showing why they have won the title five times. So too India who got off to a great start and maintained it the loss to England notwithstanding. The hosts blew hot and cold and were in some danger of not making the semifinals. But they rose to the occasion when it mattered most and it would have been a travesty if England had not qualified after being the No 1 ranked team and with a run of sterling achievements in recent times. New Zealand too were almost always there and even though their campaign ended on a limp note with three successive losses they were able to ward off Pakistan’s challenge on NRR.

Pakistan on reflection probably just missed out because of their one shoddy display against West Indies in the opening match. But the biggest disappointment of the competition has been South Africa. They were never really in the hunt for a semifinal spot and the fact that they are likely to finish only above West Indies and Afghanistan shows how much they have fallen off. There must now be serious doubts as to whether South Africa will ever win the World Cup.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for a brief while stayed in the hunt. But the former a pale show of a team which has won the trophy once and been runners-up twice never really inspired confidence. Bangladesh however won a lot of hearts by their gallant showing and they proved once again why they were the most improved team in international cricket. And after South Africa West Indies were the major disappointment. Their campaign never really took off and the fact that they finished only above Afghanistan tells its own sorry tale.

Feature Cricket

Six star players who failed miserably in World Cup 2019

CT Contributors Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:09 PM IST


We have reached the semi-final stage of the ICC World Cup 2019 with Australia, India, England and New Zealand making it to the last four. The league stage in the 10-team tourney had a fascinating ride in England and Wales. Several performances caught the eye and there were many players who lived up to the billing. Several others performed more than their abilities to spice up the tournament.

Certain nations who failed to live up to the hype and expectations were hampered by certain star players not turning up. This factor ended up hurting these sides. From South Africa, to that of West Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh, a few notable players didn't quite get up and show responsibility. New Zealand, who qualified for the semis despite three successive defeats, will also look back and see certain areas not giving them the ideal platform.

In this article we look at six players who failed miserably in World Cup 2019.

Chris Gayle (WI)

The Universe Boss was expected to live up the campaign with his effortless hitting and long range sixes. He was in supreme form coming into the tournament. But Gayle struggled in CWC 19. Gayle managed just 242 runs from eight innings. Windies would have liked him to set the platform more than what he offered.

Martin Guptill (NZ)

Guptill may have livened up CWC 19 with his fielding skills and catching, but with the bat he has been a dud. He hardly offers anything and is a man out of form at the top for Kiwis, who have struggled badly with their batting. A senior player like Guptill has managed just 166 runs so far. This is poor return.

Fakhar Zaman (PAK)

The explosive batsman was backed throughout Pakistan's campaign, but Zaman failed to show any substance with the bat. He struggled against spinners and often fell to lose shots. He fired blanks and that hurt the side in crunch games. The middle order was burdened because of his failure. With 186 runs, Zaman missed the plot.

Kagiso Rabada (SA)

A lot was expected out of Rabada who bowled like a champ in IPL 12. He was way off his mark and the wicket column tells you the story (8). Unlike other pacers, who stood up and produced the goods, Rabada's inability to pick up wickets hurt South Africa badly and they were never in the tourney.

Rashid Khan (AFG)

A lot was expected from the best spinner in the world, but Rashid was way off his standards. He conceded runs aplenty and was easily negotiated by the batsmen. Just seven wickets shows how far he was then the rest of the bowlers in the tournament. Rashid was too predictable and bowled in bad areas.

Angelo Mathews (SL)

The Lankan veteran ace struggled massively in World Cup 2019. Barring the match-winning knock against England, Mathews was never to be seen. He looked stuck and short of answers in the middle. Not what Lanka expected from a leading player like Mathews.

News Tennis

15-year-old Coco Gauff still unfazed, unbeaten at Wimbledon

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:06 PM IST


It was easy to forget that Coco Gauff is still just 15 as she stood on the grass of Centre Court, pounding her chest and shouting, "Let's go! Come on!" to celebrate a 32-stroke point that forced a third set in her match Friday evening at Wimbledon.

Up in the stands, Mom rose to pump a fist and yell, "Yes!" Thousands of spectators jumped out of their seats, too, roaring. By then, Gauff already twice had been a point from losing in the third round to Polona Hercog of Slovenia.

Most players, no matter the age, would not be able to find a path past that kind of a deficit on this imposing a stage, would not be able to handle that sort of stress and figure out a way. Gauff is, quite clearly, not most players. That much has been established. How far can she go, both this fortnight and in the future? The tennis world is watching, waiting to learn the answers.

That Gauff, ranked 313th and facing another unseeded player, was scheduled to appear at Wimbledon's main stadium says plenty about what a sensation the Floridian already is. That she won this one, and how she did so — erasing a pair of match points and coming back to beat Hercog 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 — offer some insight into what Gauff might become.

"Obviously, this moment is an incredible moment," Gauff said. "I'm still excited I get to keep living it."

As it is, she was the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the professional era, winning three matches last week against higher-ranked women in the preliminary rounds.

Then, by upsetting five-time champion Venus Williams, who is 39, in the first round of the main event, Gauff became the youngest woman to win a match at the All England Club since 1991, when Jennifer Capriati reached the semifinals at 15.

That was followed by a win against 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, who is 30, before getting past Hercog, 28. When a reporter wanted to know how Gauff might spend the prize money she's already earned of about 175,000 pounds ($220,000), she replied: "I mean, I can't buy a car, because I can't drive."

News Football

Upset with Barcelona, Atlético says it wants Griezmann back

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 12:03 PM IST


Barcelona's attempt to sign Antoine Griezman hit a setback after Atlético Madrid accused the Catalan club of negotiating with the player without its consent before his contract was over.

Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed Friday the club is trying to sign the France forward, but Atlético told Griezmann's staff the player must report to the start of the team's preseason on Sunday "in compliance with his contractual obligations."

Atlético said it felt disrespected after learning that Barcelona and Griezmann reached an agreement in March, just days after the team was eliminated by Juventus in the round of 16 of the Champions League. It said Barcelona and Griezmann had been negotiating the terms of the agreement since mid-February.

"Atlético wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behavior of both, especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atlético at a time of the season when the club was involved in the Champions League tie against Juventus, as well as the league title race against FC Barcelona," the club said.

Atlético said it believes the behavior "violates the protected periods of negotiation with players and alters the basic rules of integrity in any sporting competition, as well as causing enormous damage to our club and its millions of fans."

Atlético said officials from both clubs met Thursday at Barcelona's request. The Catalan club asked for a deferred payment of the buyout clause of 120 million euros ($135 million), a request Atlético said it "obviously" denied.

Griezmann's buyout clause was reduced from 200 million euros ($225 million) to 120 million euros on July 1. The France player had announced he was leaving Atlético before the season was over.

Opinion Cricket

Not Manjrejar, Jadeja’s verbal diarrhoea is a concern

Abhishek Chaudhary Updated: 6 July, 2019, 11:39 AM IST


The dust neve settles. It’s always just a whiff away from engulfing the narrative like it was a fresh controversy. In recent times, Indian cricketers have not shared a jovial relationship with commentators. The general belief in the dressing room is that ex-cricketers, who now don the hat of ‘critics’, are unusually harsh on Indian stars. It was this belief that saw Harsha Bhogle out of action for a quite sometime before ‘both parties’ decided to bridge their differences – whatever was there.

But the latest controversy runs way deeper than the Bhogle episode, because perhaps for the first time an active Indian cricketer has gone on to openly criticize a commentator. Ravindra Jadeja’s tweet that took the cricketing fraternity by storm a couple of days ago signals at a very disturbing trend that is becoming a part of the mainstream now.

Sanjay Manjrekar is a part of the commentary panel at the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Some of his comments have not gone down well with the fans and that has resulted in him being at the receiving end of some brutal trolling on Social Media. Social Media does not spare anyone these days and most of the former cricketers are aware that this is now a part of their job and have made peace with the fact. However, when the trolling transcends the world of social media and a cricketer like Jadeja, who has often been praised by Manjrekar for his brilliant fielding, takes to Twitter to make distasteful comments, it hampers the scope of a healthy, objective and fair commentary.

While their on-field heroics have ensured that Indian team today is perhaps one of the best in the history of cricket in the country, off-field their relationship with the media and critics is at an all-time low. From unnecessary digs at press media-persons in the press conferences to suggesting them to face the bowlers in the nets, it has all gone eerie!

It’s ludicrous to imagine that former cricketers should only sing paeans of the current team. That’s never happened in history of any sport and that is not going to happen even in Indian cricket. Cricketers need to understand that the perspective of those who have played the game in the past matters as much as those who are a part of the team. These ex-cricketers act and critics act as a link between the game and the fans, often elucidating on points that is not possible to grasp by mere viewing.

Captain Virat Kohli has been making quite a few conscious decisions on ground to ensure that there is an image makeover. The brash West Delhi boy image has made way for a suave gentleman attitude that sees him walk out despite not having edged the ball. It will be prudent on his part to ensure that some of the urbane attitude is also showered on those who observe the game from the ring side and then influence and shape the public opinion over it.

For years Indian cricketers have managed to be diplomatic and stayed away from making controversial statements. The silence was often frustrating, and the audience wanted to see a change. But if this is what the change looks like, fans would prefer silence over such ‘verbal diarrhoea.’

News Cricket

Shakib Al Hasan breaks Sachin Tendulkar’s world record

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 11:15 AM IST


Powered once more by the brilliant Shakib Al Hasan (64 runs in 77 balls), Bangladesh ended on 221 all out. Shakib finished his tournament with a total of 606 runs from eight innings, the third highest ever in World Cup history, behind India's Sachin Tendulkar (673 in 11 innings) and Australia's Matthew Hayden (659 in 10). Shakib averaged 86 runs.

"He's been absolutely beautiful," Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said. "He has done what he could do ... I think he's one of the best (World Cup) performances of all time."

Shakib's total could yet be overtaken after Saturday's two games involving three openers: India's Rohit Sharma and Australia's David Warner and Aaron Finch.

Shakib's record-tying seventh half-century at a World Cup matched Tendulkar's feat in 2003.

He also surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s record of maximum runs scored in the group stages of the tournament. The former Indian skipper had accumulated 586 runs in the group stage of the World Cup in 2003.

News Cricket

Malinga's Sri Lanka seeks to ruin India's bid for top spot

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 11:11 AM IST


Lasith Malinga and Sri Lanka can make one last indelible mark on the Cricket World Cup.

India has booked an appointment in the semifinals, and Sri Lanka can ruin India's bid to top the standings in their group match finale on Saturday at Headingley.

On the same ground two weeks ago, Sri Lanka upended the tournament by shocking title favorite England. England's semifinal bid was put in jeopardy, and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan all came back into semifinal contention. England didn't put out those fires until two days ago when it advanced to the last four.

The shaggy-haired Malinga, 36 next month, has rolled back the years. He's replaced the injured Nuwan Pradeep as the strike bowler in a chaotic campaign, and his dozen wickets in the last five games have lifted him into the World Cup's top three wicket-takers in history.

This match will also mark the last World Cup outings for at least Angelo Mathews, bowler Suranga Lakmal, and all-rounder Jeevan Mendis in the oldest team in the tournament. But Malinga ties the team to its last great era, having featured in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup finals, where he took two wickets in both losing causes.

Apart from two washouts, the batting, especially the middle order, has been the letdown for Sri Lanka in this run. It didn't come right until last Monday at Chester-le-Street, where Avishka Fernando's maiden international hundred in his ninth one-dayer led Sri Lanka against West Indies to 338-6, its highest total in 18 months.

After a fine opening stand between Kusal Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne, Fernando shepherded big partnerships with Kusal Mendis, Mathews, and Lahiru Thirimanne. Finally, Sri Lanka posted a total north of 250, and Malinga and Co defended it to beat West Indies by 23 runs for their third win.

Fernando will meet India for the first time. The teams haven't met since 2017, when they played nine matches. India won seven, but Sri Lanka won the biggest, in the Champions Trophy at the Oval in a chase of 321. Malinga took two wickets on the day, including Rohit Sharma's.

Sharma has four hundreds at this World Cup, tied with Malinga's old teammate, Kumar Sangakkara, for the most in a single edition. Stopping Sharma from a fifth gives Malinga another motivation to try and finish his World Cup career in style.

News Cricket

No easing up for Australia at Cricket World Cup

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 11:06 AM IST


With their place in the semifinals sealed with two group games to spare, Australia's players might have been forgiven for briefly easing off amid a long and grueling Cricket World Cup schedule.

Hasn't turned out that way.

The defending champions fielded a full-strength team in their penultimate group match — an 86-run win over trans-Tasman rival New Zealand — and are likely to keep the big guns in the lineup for Saturday's contest against South Africa in Manchester as they look to clinch a first-place finish in the standings.

The intensity has persisted in training, too.

Just ask Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell.

In what proved to be a brutal net session on Thursday, Maxwell was hit on the right forearm by left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc before Marsh was struck on the right wrist by another quick, Pat Cummins.

Both players were hospitalized, with Marsh — a middle-order batsman — ruled out of the tournament because of a bone fracture that requires surgery.

A sore Maxwell was given the all-clear, while batsman Steve Smith and pace bowler Jason Behrendorff were declared OK despite hurting their fingers in fielding practice.

An eighth group-stage victory for the Australians would guarantee them top spot, whatever second-place India does against Sri Lanka earlier Saturday in Leeds. That would mean Australia returning to Old Trafford to take on New Zealand again in the semifinals, a repeat of the 2015 title match.

As for the South Africans, they were planning for this game to be potentially make or break for their hopes of qualifying for the semifinals.

All the jeopardy has been removed because of a disappointing campaign in which the Proteas have won just two of their eight games.

"When we looked at it, it was like, 'Sure, Australia in the last game will be a great opportunity for possibly one or two of the teams to play the last game almost like a quarterfinal,'" South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said Friday. "But it isn't the case now."

Du Plessis said it still was an important match for his team, particularly because it would be the last at a World Cup for some of the players who he didn't specifically name.

"No one knows what is going to happen after this tournament," he said.

"I don't think it's desperate times calling for desperate measures yet. I think it is just having a bit of time after this World Cup for everyone to go their separate ways and just sit and think what needs to be done."

Du Plessis said David Miller was "not 100%" so South Africa would likely be unchanged from the win over Sri Lanka, meaning paceman Lungi Ngidi misses out again.

News Cricket

Shaheen Afridi enters record books, achieves massive World Record

AP Updated: 6 July, 2019, 10:56 AM IST


The 19-year-old Shaheen Afridi swung the ball and took 6-35, the best figures by a Pakistan bowler in World Cup history, and the youngest bowler in tournament history to achieve a 5-for. He ended with 16 wickets in five matches.

Despite knowing it wouldn't advance, Pakistan was determined to finish with another win. It broke through in the sixth over when Soumya Sarkar (22) sent a delivery from Mohammad Amir (1-31) to Fakhar Zaman, who did well to catch low at point. It was Amir's 17th wicket of the tournament with the score at 26-1.

But the wicket Pakistan really wanted came courtesy of Shaheen when Shakib tried to push the run rate on and a failed cut gave an easy chance behind to Sarfaraz to make it 154-5 and the game effectively over.

News Cricket

Holding comes down hard on NRR concept, says Pak should be in semis if they beat Bangladesh

Staff Writer Updated: 5 July, 2019, 5:17 PM IST


Bangladesh is definitely out but fifth-place Pakistan, which has won its last three games, has a remote mathematical chance of advancing to the semifinals. It can draw level with New Zealand in fourth on 11 points if it beat Bangladesh but needs to win by at least 316 runs on Friday to advance. That has never been achieved before in ODI history.

Pakistan delayed its likely Cricket World Cup exit by winning the toss and choosing to bat against Bangladesh in their group match at Lord's.

Pakistan made no changes to the team that beat Afghanistan for its third straight win.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed had acknowledged the almost impossible task ahead for his team under the current system.

"It is very difficult (to advance) ... Only if you're batting first, if you score 600 runs or 500 runs," Sarfaraz said Thursday at a pre-match news conference. "So I don't know what the study is behind this, but I can't do anything."

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has criticized the NRR concept of choosing a semifinalist.

He stated if the number of wins and points are same for two teams, the result between the two should be considered.

"Pakistan should be in the semi-finals if they beat Bangladesh. NRR should be the last thing to consider. If points & wins are equal then the result between both teams should be the deciding factor. Since Pakistan beat New Zealand they should be in semi-finals," said Holding.

News Cricket

Brian Lara picks the better batsman between Sachin and Kohli

Harshit Anand Updated: 5 July, 2019, 5:15 PM IST


Who is the better batsman, Virat Kohli or Sachin Tendulkar? Well, this has to be one of the most debatable questions. Virat Kohli is the current kingpin of India's batting while Sachin Tendulkar once formed the spine of India's batting. West Indies legend, Brian Lara was asked to pick one between Sachin and Kohli. Lara picked his contemporary Sachin Tendulkar over India's present captain and world's no.1 Test and ODI batsman, Virat Kohli.

Lara said, "He (Virat Kohli) is a (run) machine. But sorry to say Sachin Tendulkar is my (choice).” He further added that Sachin left an unbelievable impression on the game.

“The (impression) Sachin left on the game is just unbelievable, because he sort of bridged that period, where you felt that when Indian batsman leaves Indian soil, Indian pitches, they are not that good. But Sachin Tendulkar was good on every surface and all of the Indian batsman are good on every single surface today, I think simply because they took a page out of his (Sachin’s) book,” Lara said.

“But getting back to your question, no doubt there is a huge gap between Virat Kohli and the rest of the world in all forms of the game. Rohit Sharma might have got four centuries in this World Cup, (Jonny) Bairstow or whatever, if you want somebody to bat in T20, T10, 100 balls (cricket) or Test cricket, it is going to be Virat Kohli today,” he said.