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This has been the best World Cup group stage ever: FIFA president

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(Last Updated On: December 7, 2022)

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said this week he is thrilled with the opening round of matches in this World Cup which has thrown up some surprising results including some major upsets.

“I have seen all the matches, and this has been the best group stage of a World Cup ever. The matches have been of great quality in beautiful stadiums,” said Infantino.

“There are no more small teams and no more big teams. The level is very equal,” he said adding “this shows that football is really becoming truly global.”

According to him, the knockout stage matches had “over 51,000 on average [spectators]. Record-breaking figures on TV – we already had over two billion viewers.

In addition, he said FIFA expects “to reach the five billion [TV] viewers [mark] around the world,” before the tournament ends and is also hoping that the on-field action will continue to be as riveting as the first 56 games.

Down to the final 8

With the quarter-finals almost upon us, the 2022 World Cup has entered its crunch stage and a host of major nations have been sent packing and only eight teams are left.

Fans of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will meanwhile be pleased to see the two icons are still in it – meaning a showdown between the two greats is still a possibility.

The eight teams that are still in the running for this year’s title are England, France, Netherlands, Argentina, Croatia, Brazil, Morocco and Portugal.

England defeated Senegal to progress and set up a meeting with France, who beat Poland in the last 16. The Netherlands overcame the USA and will play Lionel Messi’s Argentina in their next match.

Croatia will face Brazil in the quarter-final while Morocco, who sprung an upset on Spain, will face Portugal, who coasted past Switzerland.

This next stage will be played on Friday and Saturday.

Croatia will take on Brazil in Friday’s early match, while Netherlands meets Argentina later in the day. On Saturday, it’s Morocco up against Portugal and then later that day England tackles France.

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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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