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Messi’s World Cup chase takes center stage in Qatar

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(Last Updated On: December 8, 2022)

Lionel Messi’s hopes of winning an elusive World Cup will come up against the tactical scheming of veteran coach Louis van Gaal as Argentina face the Netherlands in Friday’s quarter-final at Lusail.

Messi, 35, once again carries his nation’s hopes on his shoulders as he looks to crown an extraordinary career that includes seven Ballon d’Or awards and multiple club titles, but only one Copa America to show for his efforts with Argentina, Reuters reported.

Messi can expect little in the way of sympathy from the 71-year-old Van Gaal, who is determined to give the Dutch their first World Cup title after runners-up finishes in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

The coach’s planning will largely focus on containing Messi and catching Argentina on the break, as Van Gaal thumbs his nose at his critics by playing a brand of football at odds with the usual attacking Dutch approach.

The tactical plan is key to his side’s hopes of winning tomorrow as the Dutch look to take revenge for their semi-final defeat in 2014 when Argentina beat them in a shootout.

“We can surprise teams with our plan. We were also the better team then and Messi didn’t see much of the ball,” the coach told reporters this week.

He can also point to a run of form that has seen the Dutch go 19 games without defeat since he returned to the hot seat for a third spell 15 months ago.

Messi spoke briefly about the Dutch threat after Argentina’s 2-1 win over Australia in the round of 16, where he marked his 1,000th career appearance by scoring and being named Man of the Match.

“Another difficult one is coming,” he said.

Messi can expect vocal support from Argentine fans in Qatar, who are set to vastly outnumber their orange-clad Dutch counterparts.

On the losing side against Germany in the 2014 final, where Argentina failed to add to World Cup triumphs in 1978 and 1986, Messi was grateful for the support.

“These are incredible moments. We want to thank all the people who are here. The whole of Argentina would love to be here,” he said.

Quarterfinals

Friday: Brazil v Croatia & Netherlands v Argentina
Saturday: Morocco v Portugal & France v England

Where to watch

Afghan fans need not miss out on any of the excitement of this year’s tournament which is being broadcast live and exclusively by Ariana Television in Afghanistan.

For the full broadcast schedule CLICK HERE

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ILT20: Sharjah Warriors match against Dubai Capitals rained out

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(Last Updated On: January 27, 2023)

Rain forced the Sharjah Warriors vs Dubai Capitals to match in the ongoing ILT20 to be called off after five overs of play at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, in the UAE on Thursday night.

Dubai Capitals were 17 for 4 in five overs when heavy downpour ended the 17th match of the ILT20. As a result, both teams shared one point each.

Sharjah Warriors had won the toss and elected to bowl after a delayed start due to rain. The match started at 7.15pm (UAE time) as a 19 over contest after an hour and 15 minutes of delay from the scheduled start.

Sharjah’s medium pacer Naveen-ul-Haq, fresh from this five-wicket haul in the last match against Gulf Giants, bowled a tight first over giving away just one run.

UAE’s Junaid Siddiqui struck in the second over, bowling out opener Hazratullah Zazai for 1 with the fifth ball and trapping Bhanuka Rajapaksa leg before with the next delivery. When Naveen also had opener Daniel Lawrence play into the hands of Joe Denly at mid-off, Dubai Capitals were tottering at 8 for 3.

The mantle of lifting the team out of trouble fell on skipper Rovman Powell and Dasun Shanaka. Powell hit the first boundary of the innings steering Naveen past point.

Junaid bowled a brilliant fourth over giving away just four runs while Naveen struck again in the fifth over to force Shanaka to edge to wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 2. At 17 for 4 in five overs, rain returned and forced the umpires to call off the match.

Sharjah Warriors will remain in fourth position with five points from six matches while Dubai Capitals are at the fifth spot with five points from six matches due to a lesser run-run rate.

“The feeling in the camp is pretty good. The guys are still upbeat about their chances in our next game. It’s just unfortunate that the weather took precedence today. But such is the nature of the sport we play,” said Dubai Capitals captain Rovman Powell after the match was called off.

“We had a super start. But you can’t control the weather. Unfortunately, the rain got the better of us. We can take a lot from how we started. Junaid and Naveen were absolutely fantastic with the new ball today,” said Sharjah Warriors’ Joe Denly.

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Desert Vipers secure 7 wicket win against MI Emirates

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(Last Updated On: January 25, 2023)

Alex Hales and Sherfane Rutherford’s sparkling unbeaten half centuries and skipper Colin Munro’s cameo knock carried Desert Vipers past MI Emirates in the 15th match of the DP World ILT20 at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night. 

Desert Vipers, through a fine display of intelligent bowling, had also restricted MI Emirates to 169 for 5 despite half centuries from Kieron Pollard and Nicholas Pooran.

Hales hit an unbeaten 62 runs off 44 balls with six boundaries and two sixes while Sherfane Rutherford scored a breezy unbeaten 56 off 29 balls with four boundaries and three sixes to put on an unbeaten 94 off 52 balls for the fourth wicket. 

Desert Vipers’ skipper Colin Munro set the momentum through a fine knock of 41 runs off 22 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. 

Speaking about their performance Desert Vipers’ Sherfane Rutherford said: “I want to keep things simple and just watch the ball. I was just trying to react to the ball. The key was just to use the pace and that worked for me.”

Meanwhile, MI Emirates’ Trent Boult said: “It becomes easier to bat on in the second innings here. I thought they played extremely well. They timed their innings quite nicely. That’s a luxury when you’re chasing 170.”

 

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Rashid Khan takes 500 wickets in T20 cricket

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(Last Updated On: January 24, 2023)

Rashid Khan has completed 500 wickets in T20 cricket – only the second bowler after Dwayne Bravo to reach this landmark.

Bravo has taken 614 wickets at an average of 24.13 in 556 matches.

On the other hand, Rashid completed his 500-wicket mark in 371 games. He took the scalps at an average of 18.10 and an economy of 6.30.

Afghanistan ace spinner has 4 five-wicket hauls and 9 four-wicket hauls in his career.

He is currently leading MI Cape Town in the ongoing SA20 league. He took three wickets against the Pretoria Capitals to enter the record books.

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