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Messi scores on Argentina return in 3-0 win over Venezuela

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(Last Updated On: March 26, 2022)

Argentina scored twice in three minutes late in the second half, including a curiously mis-hit effort from Lionel Messi, to cement a 3-0 win over Venezuela in Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires.

Argentina had already qualified for Qatar before Friday’s game and were on top throughout against the last-placed side in the South American qualifying group and the only one of the 10 South American sides never to reach the World Cup finals.

They got the breakthrough their pressure deserved 10 minutes before half-time when Nicolas Gonzalez knocked home Rodrigo De Paul’s inviting low cross from six meters out.

Substitute Angel Di Maria scored a lovely second in 79 minutes when he ran on to a through pass from De Paul and then chipped the ball over three Venezuelan defenders from outside the box.

Messi himself got the third three minutes later when he chested down a Di Maria pass before sclaffing the ball past a helpless keeper, Wuilker Farinez.

“We are very happy,” said De Paul, “we love playing in this shirt. The best thing about this group is that it treats every game as a final.”

“This is what it’s all about. Never letting up.”

The defeat was Venezuela’s 10th in their last 12 games and the win extended Argentina’s unbeaten run under coach Lionel Scaloni to 30 games going back to July 2019.

The home side, who were without four players suspended for breaching COVID-19 quarantine rules ahead of September’s suspended game against Brazil, has never lost to Venezuela in eight home qualifiers.

The two-times world champions and current Copa America winners will be joined in Qatar by Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay, while Peru, Colombia and Chile are battling for fifth place and a playoff spot against a team from the Asian confederation.

The final round of games takes place next Tuesday.

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Ireland beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in first T20I match of series

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2022)

Ireland beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in the first of five matches in the T20 International in Belfast on Tuesday.

George Dockrell hit the winning boundary off the penultimate ball to lift Ireland on to 171 for three after they were set a target of 169.

Afghanistan’s total of 168 for seven had been boosted by 30 runs off the final two overs, with Ibrahim Zadran clubbing 29 not out off 18 balls.

Afghanistan’s top scorer, opener Usman Ghani, struck two sixes and six fours in his 59 off 42 balls.

The two sides will meet again on Thursday at the same Civil Services Cricket Club venue in Stormont for the second time in their five-match series.

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Former international cricket umpire Koertzen dies in car accident

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Rudi Koertzen, former international cricket umpire from South Africa, died on Tuesday in a car accident in the country, ESPNcricInfo reported citing his family.

“He went on a golf tournament with some of his friends, and they were expected to come back on Monday, but it seems they decided to play another round of golf,” his son Rudi Koertzen jr said.

Koertzen, 73, was on the International Cricket Council’s elite panel of umpires for eight years and officiated in 331 matches, a record at the time of his retirement in 2010 that has since been surpassed by Pakistan’s Aleem Dar.

“It is a very big loss, foremost for his family and then for South Africa and cricket,” Dar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricInfo.

“I stood in so many games with him. He was not only very good as an umpire but also an excellent colleague, always very cooperative on field and also always willing to help off the field.

“Because of the way he was, he was also well-respected by players.”

Koertzen died while driving from Cape Town to Despatch in Eastern Cape, where he lived with his family, ESPNcricInfo said.

Koertzen still umpired occasionally in amateur cricket in his hometown of Despatch in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

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ACB names players for five-match T20I series against Ireland

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2022)

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) on Monday announced the 16-member squad for the five T20I matches against Ireland scheduled to take place this month.

All matches will take place in Ireland and start on August 9. The tournament will run through until August 17. 

According to the ACB, the team will leave for Ireland on Friday.

Mohammad Nabi will captain the team. The other players are as follows: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wicketkeeper), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Darwish Rasooli, Karim Jannat, Afsar Zazai, Azmatullah Umarzai, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, Fazal Haq, Farid Malik, and Naveen ul Haq.

The reserves are Qais Ahmed, Usman Ghani, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Najat Masoud.

Noorul Haq Malikzi, the ACB’s head of the selection committee said: “We have selected a team for Ireland, which I am sure will have great achievements, because our priority is talent, young players, their performance and strength.”

The Afghanistan Cricket Board says that one of the goals of these competitions is to prepare for the Asia Cup and the World Cup, which will start in September and October respectively.

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