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Ireland announce squad for South Africa, Afghanistan T20Is

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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2022)

Ireland on Wednesday announced their squad for the two T20Is against South Africa as well as the first three games of the five-match series against Afghanistan in August 2022.

The selectors have kept faith in the group that played the three-match T20I series against New Zealand recently by retaining the same 14-member squad for the upcoming series against South Africa (two matches) and Afghanistan (three of the five matches).

Despite being whitewashed 3-0 at home by New Zealand, there were several positives for Ireland, including the lower-order batting form of Mark Adair and Curtis Campher. Paul Stirling gave yet another glimpse of his white-ball exploits with a 29-ball 40 in the final T20I, the ICC reported.

Amongst the bowlers, Josh Little finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series with eight wickets in three games including a four-for in the second T20I. 

Squad: Andrew Balbirnie (Captain), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, Gareth Delany, George Dockrell, Stephen Doheny, Fionn Hand, Josh Little, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, Paul Stirling, Harry Tector, Lorcan Tucker, Craig Young

Speaking on the squad selection, Chair of National Men’s Selectors Andrew White said: “We are now getting down to the final stages of our preparations as we build towards the Men’s T20 World Cup in October.

“The squad has faced two high-quality opponents in recent weeks, in India and New Zealand, and have stern tests ahead against South Africa and Afghanistan.

“We believe, while the results have not gone our way, the brand of cricket that [head coach] Heinrich Malan is instilling in the squad is showing positive signs and the players are beginning to equip themselves well as they build towards the World Cup in Australia.

“We have, however, sought to give ourselves a level of selection flexibility later in the Afghan series, and will announce a squad for the final two T20Is of that series in due course.”

The upcoming series against South Africa and Afghanistan will be the dress rehearsal for Ireland going into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup later this year. After failing to make it to the Super 12 last year in Oman and UAE, Ireland will be eager to make a mark later this year in Australia.

This year, they are pitted against Scotland, West Indies and Zimbabwe in Group B in the First Round that begins on 16 October.

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FIFA brings opening match of World Cup in Qatar forward by one day

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(Last Updated On: August 14, 2022)

FIFA has officially brought forward the opening match of this year’s World Cup by one day to 20 November in a rare change so that hosts Qatar feature in the gala game.

FIFA said in a statement this week that football’s top officials universally approved the decision, while Qatar said it would give unspecified help to fans affected by the change.

On the old schedule, Qatar against Ecuador was to be the official inauguration match on 21 November but Senegal against Netherlands would be the first match of the day. England against Iran would have been the second.

Qatar had also been frustrated as it has invested in a huge opening ceremony show.

“Host country Qatar will now play Ecuador on Sunday 20 November as part of a stand-alone event,” said FIFA.

“The opening match and ceremony of this year’s tournament at Al Bayt Stadium have been brought forward one day following a unanimous decision taken by the bureau of the FIFA Council today (Thursday).”

The bureau is made up of FIFA leader Gianni Infantino and the six heads of the continental confederations.

“The change ensures the continuity of a long-standing tradition of marking the start of the World Cup with an opening ceremony on the occasion of the first match featuring either the hosts or the defending champions,” added FIFA.

Under the new plan, the Group A game between Senegal and the Netherlands has been shifted from 13:00 (14:30 Kabul time) on 21 November to a 19:00 start. There is no change to England’s opening Group B clash against Iran.

Qatari organizers, who have spent billions of dollars preparing for the event, immediately welcomed FIFA’s gesture.

“Opening the first FIFA World Cup to be held in the Middle East and Arab world is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Qatar,” said the organizing committee in a statement.

“The impact of this decision on fans was assessed by FIFA. We will work together to ensure a smooth tournament for the supporters affected by the change,” they added without giving details.

Ariana Television Network (ATN) meanwhile announced in July it had secured the exclusive rights to broadcast the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in Afghanistan.

According to company officials, the broadcasting schedule will be revised to include the events of November 20.

Ariana Television Network, the Official and Exclusive broadcaster of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ in Afghanistan, has worked closely with FIFA to bring what is undoubtedly the world’s most prestigious event into as many homes in Afghanistan as possible.

While not much has been revealed about the opening ceremony, the Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is reported to have special plans for the event, with some reports indicating he has a big fireworks display planned.

For the revised match schedule CLICK HERE

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Benzema, Ronaldo and Haaland nominated for Ballon d’Or, Messi misses out

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema is among the 30 nominees on the shortlist for the prestigious men’s Ballon d’Or trophy, organizers France Football magazine announced on Friday.

The French international has had an incredible season for Real Madrid, scoring 44 goals in 46 games and helping them win the Champions League and LaLiga, Reuters reported.

Seven times reigning winner Lionel Messi was not nominated for this year’s Ballon d’Or for the first time since 2005 and nor was his Paris Saint-Germain team mate Neymar.

Other nominees are Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester City striker Erling Haaland – who has just joined the club from Borussia Dortmund – and last season’s joint Premier League top scorer Mohamed Salah of Liverpool.

Among the 20 players on the shortlist for the women’s Ballon d’Or is Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural award in 2018, and Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas.

Arsenal striker Beth Mead, who won the European Championship with hosts England last month and was named the Player of the tournament, is also nominated.

The honour for the best player in the world will be presented on Oct. 17. The trophy will now be awarded based on a regular season from August to July rather than a calendar year.

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Afghanistan beat Ireland by 22 runs in 3rd T20I

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

Afghanistan defeated Ireland by 22 runs in the third T20I in Belfast on Friday.

Sent to bat first by the hosts who won the toss, Afghanistan posted 189-5 in the 20 overs. 

Rahmanullah Gurbaz top scored with 53 off 35 balls, followed by Najibullah Zadran who struck 42 off 18. Hazratullah Zazai and Ibrahim Zadran contributed with 39 and 36 each respectively.

Chasing 190-run target, Ireland lost Paul Stirling in the very first over and ended their innings with 167-9.

George Dockrell was their highest scorer with 58 (not out). 

Naveen-ul-Haq claimed three wickets while Mujib-ur-Rahman and Fazalhaq Farooqi each picked up two wickets.

Ireland lead the five-match series 2-1. The next match will be on Monday.

 

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