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10-man India lose to Asian Champions Qatar 1-0

Abdel Aziz Hatim scored the only goal of the match after Rahul Bheke was sent off as India lost to Qatar in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier.

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NEW DELHI: A dominant Qatar defeated a 10-man India 1-0 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 preliminary joint round 2 qualification at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, in Doha. Qatar led 1-0 at half-time, with Abdel Aziz Hatim making the difference between the two sides, slotting in a 34th-minute winner.

The last time the two teams met in September 2019, India had held the Asian champions to a goalless draw. Courtesy the result, India stayed on three points from six matches, while Qatar sat pretty on top of Group E with 19 points from seven matches.

Qatar, as they are known to, played it amongst themselves right from the kick-off in their effort to find spaces through the Indian midfield. They earned their first corner in the second minute but the shot from Abdel Karim Hassan sailed over.

The very next minute, the Asian champions had their first shy at the Indian goal but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu dived low to his right to collect Abdel Aziz Hatim’s grounder.

The Blue Tigers did sniff a counter in the seventh minute when Manvir Singh latched on to a loose ball and laid off it for Bipin Singh on the left flank, but the latter was not able to find anybody with his cross.

The first yellow card of the evening was flashed to Rahul Bheke in the eighth minute for a tackle on rival captain Hassal Al Haydos. 10 minutes later, the impact was larger – Bheke was given marching orders after receiving his second yellow card of the match for a handball offence. The resultant vicious curler from Haydos was punched away by Gurpreet.

In between Sunil did chest a long ball in the 11th minute but was shielded by Musaab Khidir even as he acrobatically tried to have a connect. Manvir did manage to collect it and tried to make an inroad, but was thwarted. With India down to 10 men, Qatar’s domination further increased. Suresh Singh moved into the vacant slot left over after Bheke was red-carded, and the youngster stuck to the basics, pressing hard and was not overawed, given the fact that he was fighting it out with the two of the best from the continent – Al Haydos and Abdel Karim.

India had their first real chance in the 29th minute when Ashique Kuruniyan managed to slip past his marker and essayed it behind the defensive line for an onrushing Manvir. But the striker’s touch let him down from what was a clear chance for India.

Five minutes later, Qatar surged into the lead. Abdel Karim found Almoez Ali inside the box, who turned and laid it off for Abdel Aziz. The jungle of legs didn’t allow the latter to have a clear shot on goal, but being allowed the luxury of that extra split second, Abdel Aziz managed to send it past Gurpreet.

Qatar dominated, India pressed and kept it compact. A counter on the 42nd minute, however, almost led to the equaliser. Sunil, with all his experience, shielded Bassam Alrawi as he found Manvir. The lanky forward, sidestepped, went on the outside, and then swivelled the other way to open up a left-footer, but this shot was blocked by a melee of Qatari legs.

The Blue Tigers had a close shave in added time, this time Gurpreet keeping Abdel Karim at bay, as Qatar headed into the interval with a solitary goal lead. However, it didn’t end on a sweet note for India in the first half, as Head Coach Igor Stimac was flashed a yellow card.

Changing over, Udanta Singh came in for Sunil Chhetri, the armband being worn by Sandesh Jhingan. And almost immediately after, Gurpreet had to be at his best to thwart Abdel Karim from point-blank range.

Six minutes later, he palmed away a snap shot off Mohammed Muntari who with a swift turn had foxed everyone in the box. There was no doubting Qatar’s total dominance, and they earned a barrage of corners during the phase but they couldn’t create the impact they intended to.

Meanwhile, Gurpreet’s heroics continued. His physical presence, those big hands, reflexes and attitude as he fisted, punched, and even used his legs to maximum effect to thwart Qatar.

In the 68th minute, Lalengmawia ‘Apuia’ Ralte replaced debutant Glan Martins, and then in the 75th minute Akash Misra came in for Bipin Singh. Apuia was calm and kept moving into the vacant spaces to provide support whenever India had possession. One such occasion came in the 76th minute when Apuia and Akash played a one-two and laid it for Ashique. But the latter couldn’t keep it in the slot for either Udanta or Manvir – the rival defence intercepting it.

The next minute, Almoez Ali was yellow-carded for bringing down Suresh Singh from behind. Stimac introduced a double substitution in the 84th minute, Abdul Sahal coming in for Ashique and Liston Colaco replacing Suresh.

Qatar had their best chance of the second half with about four minutes of regulation time left on the clock, when substitute Abdullah Alahraq rifled a long-ranger onto the near post. However, the ball ricocheted and went out of play. Sandesh Jhingan made a one last effort to launch a counter for India in injury time as he charged down the pitch and tried to play Manvir through on goal. However, a last-ditch tackle by the Qatari defence meant that the match ended in the latter’s favour.

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HALEP, MUGURUZA EASE THROUGH; KVITOVA, FERNANDEZ SUFFER UPSETS

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Former World No.1 Simona Halep got her 2022 Australian Open campaign off to a victorious start, as Romanian gritted past Magdalena Frech of Poland 6-4, 6-3 in their first-round battle.

In their sole prior meeting, Halep had defeated Frech with the loss of only two games on the clay courts of Prague in 2020. The two-time Grand Slam champion has now improved to 6-0 on the season thus far, having won her 23rd career WTA singles title at Melbourne Summer Set 1 two weeks ago.

Halep is seeking her first Australian Open title, which would go with her 2018 Roland Garros and 2019 Wimbledon crowns.

Another Romanian claimed a big win on Tuesday, as Sorana Cirstea bundled 2019 runner-up Petra Kvitova out of the Australian Open for the second straight year. Cirstea notched a 6-2, 6-2 first-round victory over the former World No.2 at John Cain Arena.

Aussie hope Maddison Inglis also captured an upset win as she shocked 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada, 6-4, 6-2. Inglis took an hour and 23 minutes to stun the No.23 seed and claim her first main-draw victory at a Grand Slam event.

Elsewhere, Garbine Muguruza got off to a winning start on the Australian Open’s main court in 2022 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over France’s Clara Burel.

Playing her first-ever match on Rod Laver Arena, British qualifier Harriet Dart started brightly against No.7 seed Iga Swiatek by winning three of the first four games.

From 3-1 down, though, the Pole rolled. Swiatek won the last 11 games in a 6-3, 6-0 victory to win her opening match Down Under for the fourth year in a row.

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Unbeaten in their last three games, FC Goa will look to climb up the ladder when they are scheduled to take on winless SC East Bengal in the 2021-22 Indian Super League at the Athletic Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday.

FC Goa hasn’t really burst to life under Derrick Pereira but the veteran coach has managed to remain unbeaten in the last three outings, playing out a 1-1 draw against NorthEast United FC in their last game. Jorge Ortiz has looked extremely sharp for the Gaurs even though they had the likes of Edu Bedia and Ivan Gonzalez missing against NorthEast United.

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SC East Bengal showed defensive solidity under interim coach Renedy Singh and held the fort until the very end against Jamshedpur FC before conceding in the dying minutes of the second half. But the red and golds have had no attacking teeth whatsoever with striker Daniel Chima Chukwu also jumping ship to Jamshedpur. They have roped in Brazilian striker Marcelo Ribeiro dos Santos but he won’t be available for selection against FC Goa. In their 11 league games, SC East Bengal has failed to score in five games.

SC East Bengal has new coach Mario Rivera back at the helm though and the Spaniard will have his task cut out with the team rooted to the foot of the table having just 6 points from 11 engagements. Rivera guided East Bengal to a second-place finish in the I-League two seasons back. “It is going to be my first challenge in the ISL and my first job is to change the mood of the team when it is not going through a good time. The table does not reflect the quality of the side. Now, we have to get the best performances out of the player and hopeful of changing our position on the table,” said Rivera.

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The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched an investigation after footage of “intoxicated” Australian and England cricketers being asked by police to go to bed came into the public domain.

In mobile-phone footage published by the Sydney Morning Herald, Joe Root and James Anderson could be seen alongside three Australia players—Nathan Lyon, Travis Head and Alex Carey—all still dressed in their whites following the conclusion of the fifth Test at Bellerive Oval.

“During the early hours of Monday morning, members of the England and Australia men’s teams shared a drink in the team areas of the hotel in Hobart,” the ECB’s statement read. “The hotel management received a noise complaint by a hotel guest, and as is commonplace in Australia, the local police attended the scene. When asked to leave by hotel management and the Tasmanian police, the players and management in question left and returned to their respective hotel rooms. The England party have apologised for any inconvenience caused.”

“The ECB will investigate further. Until such times, we will make no further comment,” ECB statement added.

The gathering was taking place in a public area in Hobart’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, and had extended to 6am when the police were brought in following a noise complaint from fellow guests. The players all left the area immediately.

“Tasmania Police attended the Crowne Plaza Hobart on Monday morning after reports were made of intoxicated people in a function area,” a police statement read, as per espncricinfo. “The guests were spoken to by police, just after 6:00am, and left the area when asked. No further action will be taken by police.”

In the home summer of cricket so far, Australia won the 2021-22 men’s Ashes 4-0 in what continues to be one of the greatest global sporting rivalries.

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South Africa limited-overs skipper Temba Bavuma on Tuesday said that his side would look to take the momentum from the Test series onto the upcoming ODI series against India.

India and South Africa will lock horns in a three-match ODI series, with the first match set to be played on Wednesday in Paarl. Earlier, the Proteas had defeated India 2-1 in the Test series.

“Yeah, momentum is a real thing, you would have seen after the first Test, how we managed to get some momentum in the Johannesburg Test and how we carried through. Momentum is a real thing, obviously, it is a different format and there is a different kind of pressure. Confidence is well within the team and we will be leading onto that to inspire the new guys,” said Bavuma during a virtual press conference.

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Talking about Quinton de Kock, Bavuma said: “It is good to see him again. We obviously missed him in the Test team but he has made his decision to retire from the longest format. We respect his decision, having him back has been good. Quinton will have a point to prove and I am sure he is also as excited as we are to see him in the team.”

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South Africa ODI squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock, Zubayr Hamza, Marco Jansen, Junkman Malan, Sisanda Magala, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne.

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The third round of 19th Asian Games equestrian (show jumping) trials for the team and the individual event concluded at Amateur Riders’ Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course in Maharashtra

The continental games will take place in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China from September 10 to 25. There were two rounds of show jumping which were held for the team and individual qualification. On January 13, the show jumping of 1.40 m was organised for the team qualification and on January 16, the show jumping of 1.50 m was organised for individual qualification.

In 1.40m show jumping category event, Zahan Setalvad secured first position while riding on Caprice with one penalty committed by him. Zahan finished his rounds in 68.30 seconds. Sehaj Singh Virk and Kirat Singh Nagra rode on their horses Laila Lardanos and Little Joe positioned 2nd and 3rd respectively, as they finished their rounds in 70.59 and 71.28 seconds.

1.50 m show jumping category event again witnessed Zahan Setalvad securing top position riding on his horse El Capitan. Zahan committed 4 penalties in his part of rounds and finished them in 76.94seconds. The 2nd and 3rd rank were awarded to Kaevaan Setalvad and Kirat Singh Nagra who rode on their horses Alasdair and Little Joe by finishing their set of rounds in 76.77 and 80.22 seconds respectively.

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India stand-in ODI skipper KL Rahul on Tuesday said that it would be a huge responsibility for him if he is made the Test captain.

India and South Africa will lock horns in a three-match ODI series, with the first match set to be played on Wednesday in Paarl.

Earlier, the Proteas had defeated India 2-1 in the Test series.

Rahul had replaced Rohit Sharma as skipper for the upcoming ODI series after the Hitman was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Pacer Jasprit Bumrah will serve as Rahul’s deputy in the series.

“I had not given it a thought till the names came out, till the articles or news have been doing the rounds. Obviously, I had the opportunity to lead the Test side in Johannesburg and it was really special. The result did not go our way but it was a great learning experience for me and it would be something I will always be proud of,” Rahul said during a virtual press conference.

“Leading the country is always special for anyone and I am no different. Yes, it would be a huge responsibility if given to me (being the Test captain). It is something that is exciting, I am not really looking to anything forward, I am just focusing on the present,” he added.

Rahul’s comments come days after Kohli announced his decision to stand down as India’s Test captain.

Kohli holds the record for most Test appearances as India Test captain (68) and he also holds the record for most Test wins by an Indian captain (40).

Only Graeme Smith, Ricky Ponting, and Steve Waugh have won more matches than Kohli as captain in Test cricket.

Last year, Kohli had stepped down as the T20I captain and then he was removed as the ODI skipper after the selectors wanted to have just one captain for the white-ball formats.

India squad: KL Rahul (Captain), Jasprit Bumrah (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Jayant Yadav, Navdeep Saini.

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