I-League: TRAU, Churchill Brothers share points in high-octane encounter - The Daily Guardian
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I-League: TRAU, Churchill Brothers share points in high-octane encounter

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Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 21 (ANI): A high octane top-of-the-table clash between TRAU and Churchill Brothers ended in a 1-1 draw at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan on Sunday to force the I-League title to be decided on the last day of the season.
Luka Majcen’s strike was cancelled out by Phalguni Singh’s effort as the teams shared the points — with both goals coming in the first half.
Although TRAU stay on the top of the I-League table, the Nandakumar-coached side are level on points (26) with Churchill Brothers and could be sharing their pole position with Gokulam Kerala FC if the Malabarians get a win against Mohammedan SC. If Gokulam win, three contingents — TRAU, Churchill Brothers and Gokulam Kerala FC — will have the chance to get their hand on the coveted trophy come March 27.
Churchill, desperate to put behind their woes in the Championship stage of the season that saw them succumb to two back-to-back defeats, started the match on an attacking note. The Red Machines could have taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute Luka Majcen was found inside the box by a well-weighted pass. Majcen’s shot from close range however failed to find the net, as TRAU survived an early scare.
Out to prove a point, Churchill played with the tenacity of champions in the opening minutes and heaped pressure on TRAU. In the 12th minute, Clayvin Zuniga was found by Luka Majcen inside the box, but Zuniga, who was already in an offside position could only rattle the bar with his effort. Seven minutes later, Churchill Brothers upped the ante and Zuniga once again tested TRAU’s Amrit Gope with a powerful shot. Gope made a world-class save to deny Churchill the lead.
In the 23rd minute, Bryce Miranda missed a sitter and probably the best goal-scoring opportunity of the match. With the goalkeeper out of position, Miranda had to just tap the ball home from close range, after Wendell Savio had found him inside the box. Instead, he fluffed his shot.
All of Churchill’s dominance finally paid off in the 27th minute when the referee pointed to the spot for a clumsy tackle inside the box. Luka Majcen stepped up to take the penalty kick and smashed it home to hand Churchill the lead as the scoreline read 1-0.
Playing catch-up to Churchill Brothers for much of the first half, TRAU rarely showcased shades of their former selves. With Komron Tursunov leaving for international duty with Tajikistan, the Nandakumar-coached side struggled to jot attacks as Bidyashagar Singh was left isolated up front.
However, all it took for the Manipur-based club was one through-ball in the 43rd minute to bring the match to level terms. A well-weighted pass by Bidyashagar Singh split the defensive pairing of Hamza Kheir and Keenan Almeida in two as Phalguni Singh beat them for speed and latched onto the ball. With just the opposition goalkeeper to beat, Phalguni slotted the finish home and made the scoreline read 1-1.
After the half-time scoreline read 1-1, TRAU, spurred by their equalizer had a great chance to take the lead in the 48th minute when Joseph Olaleye tried to find Bidyashagar Singh inside the box. Had Olaleye’s pass been better, TRAU could have taken the lead.
In the 54th minute, much against the run of play, Wendell Savio hit the crossbar with a curling shot from outside of the box. The ball fell to Clayvin Zuniga, who could have had a chance to score, but was unable to control the ball as TRAU survived a dangerous spell of play. Two minutes later, Kingslee Fernandes found Luka Majcen inside the box but Majcen skewed his shot wide off the goal.
Churchill Brothers upped the ante after missing a couple of chances and pinned TRAU to their own half. Clayvin Zuniga came agonizingly close to handing Churchill Brothers the lead in the 69th minute when he burst past the TRAU defence line. His shot, however, got lost in the jungle of TRAU legs causing chaos inside the box.
The Red Machines continued their attacking dominance but once again were left frustrated in the final third as TRAU committed bodies in defence and defended in numbers. Half chances for Clayvin Zuniga and Luka Majcen went amiss and TRAU playing on the counter, had rare chances in front of the goal.
TRAU could have taken home all the three points with one minute of regulation time to go as Bidyashagar was played in on goal by Joseph. The forward tried to round the advancing Shibinraj but the Churchill keeper did brilliantly to take the ball off his feet.
In the end, the scoreline read 1-1 as both teams shared the spoils of battle. With this draw, Gokulam Kerala FC could very well go level on points with TRAU and Churchill Brothers at the top of the league if the Malabarians win their clash against Mohammedan SC. (ANI)

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BABAR AZAM ENDS KING KOHLI’S REIGN AT TOP OF ODI BATTING CHART

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Pakistan captain Babar Azam has ended Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, becoming only the fourth batsman from his country to attain the number one position in the latest update released on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old’s player of the match effort of an 82-ball 94 in the last match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League series against South Africa in Centurion has helped him gain 13 rating points to reach 865 points and he now leads the Indian captain by eight points. Babar, a star of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cups in 2010 and 2012 and who has been playing ODIs since 2015, had started the series against South Africa at 837 rating points but moved up to 858 (ahead of Kohli) after his score of 103 in the first match. He dropped to 852 by the time of the last weekly rankings update with a score of 32 in the second ODI.

By ending Kohli’s 1,258 day-supremacy, Babar has emulated compatriots Zaheer Abbas (1983-84), Javed Miandad (1988-89), and Mohammad Yousuf (2003) as the number one ODI batsman. In Tests, Babar has attained a best of fifth position and is currently ranked sixth while in T20Is he is third but has been number one in the past.

Left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman is another Pakistan batsman to move up the ODI batting charts, gaining five slots to reach a career-best seventh position after his knock of 101 while left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi gained four places to a career-best 11th place and left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz moved up 29 places to 96th, have progressed thanks to their three-wicket hauls in the match.

For South Africa, all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo has gained 11 slots to reach 83rd position after notching a half-century while captain Temba Bavuma has progressed from 88th to 86th place.

In the ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings, Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 74 in the first match of their series against South Africa has helped him jump 24 places to 23rd position while Nawaz (up 36 places to 28), Hasan Ali (up 22 places to 62nd) and Usman Qadir (up 24 places to 68th) have moved up in the bowlers’ list.

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ZIMBABWE’S HEATH STREAK BANNED FOR EIGHT YEARS UNDER ICC ANTI-CORRUPTION CODE

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Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak on Wednesday was banned from all cricket for eight years after he accepted five charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

Streak was charged as a participant under the Code by virtue of his status as the coach of Zimbabwe from 2016 to 2018 and as the coach of various domestic teams. The charges are as follows: 2.3.2 – disclosing inside information under both the ICC Code and various domestic Codes, in circumstances where he knew or should have known that such information may be used for betting purposes. In particular, he disclosed inside information in relation to matches in the 2018 Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, the Zimbabwe versus Afghanistan series in 2018, the IPL 2018, and the APL 2018.

2.3.3 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, persuading, encouraging, or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach the Code. In particular, he facilitated or attempted to facilitate the introduction of four different players, including a national captain, to someone he knew, or should have known, may have wanted to approach them to provide inside information for betting purposes.

Under the provisions of the Code, Streak chose to admit the charges and agreed with the sanction with the ICC in lieu of an Anti-Corruption Tribunal hearing. He will be free to resume his involvement in the game on March 28, 2029.

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BABAR, RIZWAN SCRIPT PAK’S HIGHEST SUCCESSFUL T20I RUN CHASE

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CENTURION : Babar Azam’s stunning century and Mohammad Rizwan’s classy fifty helped Pakistan complete their highest successful T20I run-chase with 12 balls to spare against South Africa in the third game here on Wednesday.

Pakistan defeated South Africa by nine wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the four-match T20I series. The visiting captain struck 122 off just 59 balls (15 fours, 4 sixes) and shared a record 197-run opening partnership with vice-captain Rizwan, who ended unbeaten on 73 off 47 balls (5 fours, 2 sixes), as the tourists chased down 204 with two overs to spare.

Earlier, half-centuries by the in-form Aiden Markram (63 off 31 balls, 6 fours, 4 sixes) and Janneman Malan (55 off 40 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes) provided South Africa with a strong start that put them on course for well beyond 200, before they tailed off slightly at the end.

And Pakistan then made merry at a venue they have not lost at so far on their tour, securing a key win that meant they now cannot lose the series with just one match to come on Friday.

The Asian side won the toss and opted to field first, but that looked a wrong call as Markram and Malan both flew out of the blocks.

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VACCINATION PROCESS FOR OLYMPIC-BOUND ATHLETES TO START SOON: RAJEEV MEHTA

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Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta on Wednesday informed that the vaccination process for the Olympic-bound athletes will start soon in the country.

“We will start the vaccination process soon so that our athletes are safe. A lot is invested in them and we want to be sure that they are safe,” said Mehta during an online seminar organised by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and IOA on the occasion of 100 days to the Olympics. Tokyo Olympics will go ahead from July 23-August 8 this year. The Games were slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

India has reported the highest-ever single-day spike in COVID-19 cases with over 1.84 lakh new cases and more than 1,000 deaths in the last 24 hours. And with the ever-rising COVID-19 cases, vaccination of Olympic-bound athletes has become the talk of the town.

Union Youth Affair and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju is confident of the athletes bringing laurels for the country in the upcoming mega event.

“India must cross double digits. Our athletes are fully prepared and I think this will be India’s best Olympic so far,” said Rijiju.

Meanwhile, SAI has issued a new SOP in view of the Covid-19 situation in the country. The SOP includes regular RT-PCR tests of athletes on a weekly basis to monitor their health.

Those contracting Covid-19 are immediately being moved to hospitals to ensure the best treatment and their complete safety and to isolate them from athletes who are negative.

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Rajasthan eye to revive their form against DC

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While South African pace bowling duo Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje will return to fuel Delhi Capitals’ (DC) bowling attack their opponents for Thursday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) match, Rajasthan Royals (RR), are struggling to field their top overseas players.

Jofra Archer’s chances of recovering from his shoulder injury and joining RR in the league phase this season is highly unlikely and on Tuesday, ace all-rounder Ben Stokes was ruled out for the season with a broken finger.

Stokes will stay with the team to provide support from the outside but will not be able to play, leaving a gap in the RR playing XI.

The Jaipur franchise put up a stiff fight in their first match against Punjab Kings with Sanju Samson’s century taking them to within four runs of Punjab Kings’ 221-run total.

RR may field either Liam Livingstone or David Miller in place of Stokes in the match against DC.

The Delhi Capitals, however, will be a buoyant lot. Not only are they coming back from a resounding win over Chennai Super Kings in the first match but they also have their frontline pacers Rabada and Nortje back. Both the Proteas fast bowlers had caused a lot of damage to opposition batting lineups in the last season.

Even with a pace attack that could be described as second string, DC managed to restrict CSK to below 200 on a very good batting surface. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan then went after the bowling, helping new captain Rishabh Pant start the season with a resounding victory.

On paper, especially with RR’s injury woes, DC look the outright favourites. However, as Sanju Samson showed the other day, in T20 cricket even one good knock can turn a match. Samson will be hoping to perform again with the bat and will also hope that Chris Morris, for whom RR shelled out a huge Rs 16.25 crore, comes good.

DC also benefited from some poor fielding from CSK players, many of who were rusty. It is unlikely they will get that kind of luxury against RR. However, they remain the favourites due to the depth in bowling and batting.

RAJASTHAN ROYALS

Strengths:

• Many power-hitters in the side: Samson, Buttler and Tewatia

• Riyan Parag is a new IPL sensation

Weaknesses:

•  Stokes injured, unavailable

• Expensive bowlers

DELHI CAPITALS

Strengths:

• Shaw and Dhawan in form.

• Aavesh and Chris Woakes

Weaknesses:

• R. Ashwin & Amit Mishra proved to be expensive in the first match

• Anrich Nortje out of the tournament owing to Covid-19.

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Shahbaz, Maxwell shine as RCB clinch a close win over Sunrisers

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David Warner’s half-century had put Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on course of a victory but Shahbaz Ahmed ran through their middle order to help Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) register a thrilling win in their Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday evening.

Earlier, Glenn Maxwell had scored a gutsy half-century to ensure that RCB, despite losing a flurry of wickets in the second half of their innings, set up a 150-run target. In response, SRH fell seven runs short of the target, thanks to some brilliant bowling in the second half by RCB. SRH was right on track for a win with Warner and Manish Pandey stitching a 83-run stand for the second wicket but the side lost the plot in the middle overs. SRH collapsed from 96/1 to 123/6 within 4.4 overs and was managed 143/9 in their allotted 20 overs. Shahbaz picked three key wickets and delivered when RCB needed him the most.

SRH had a bad start to their chase as opening batsman Wriddhiman Saha was sent back in the hut in the third over by Mohammed Siraj.

But skipper Warner and Manish carried the innings and ensured SRH didn’t lose a wicket as the duo took their side to 50/1 at the end of the powerplay.

While Manish played a run-a-ball knock, Warner was in his prime best as he took on the RCB bowlers and completed his fifty in just 31 balls.

RCB finally took a sigh of relief when Kyle Jamieson dismissed Warner in the 14th over. Warner’s wicket triggered a major collapse as SRH lost five batsmen in 4.4 overs.

In the end, Rashid Khan tried to get SRH over the line but was run out in an attempt to take a double.

Earlier put in to bat, RCB had a decent start before Devdutt Padikkal departed in the third over.

Shahbaz, who was promoted up the order, had his fair share of chances where he smoked a four but Shahbaz Nadeem got the better of him as RCB lost the second wicket just after the completion of powerplay. In the death overs, Maxwell kept slogging the ball to complete his gutsy fifty (his first since 2016 in IPL) as RCB went past the 140-run mark.

Brief Scores: RCB 149/8 (Virat Kohli 33, Glenn Maxwell 59; Jason Holder 3-30); SRH 143/9 (David Warner 54, Manish Pandey 38; Shahbaz Ahmed 3-7)

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