Afghanistan’s Head coach Jonathan Trott and seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi praised the assistance of bowling consultant Dwayne Bravo, whose expertise they believe has been integral to their success in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup so far.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACC) appointed Bravo prior to the global showpiece, and their decision has so far proven fruitful, as the former Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies all-rounder’s influence has been invaluable to their charge.

Contesting Group C alongside co-host West Indies, Afghanistan have been rampant so far, as they easily brushed aside Uganda, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, on their way to qualifying for the Super Eight knockout phase.

Bravo, 40, a legend in the game’s shortest format, featured in the West Indies 2012 and 2016 T20 World Cup titles, and more importantly has played over 550 matches, and this experience that he brings to the Afghanistan setup has certainly been felt.

“Obviously, Bravo is really well-respected. His work ethic is great, along with the other coaches. His knowledge of the game and the amount of T20 cricket he has played, the conditions and obviously his knowledge of the local grounds and how they are going to play (are great assets),” Trott said, during the post-game briefing after their seven-wicket win over PNG on Thursday.

"I've obviously played against him and getting to spend a lot of time with him is great and it is great to have him on our side. He works with the bowlers and he works with the batters as well. He was a really good all-rounder, wasn't he? Lots of experience to draw from and we are pleased we've secured his services," the former England star added.

Farooqi, who has taken a tournament-high 12 wickets at the T20 World Cup, says Bravo has given them valuable insights on how to bowl at critical stages of the match.

"DJ Bravo, I have been with him from the last four years. I have played with him in the same team. He knows me and I know how big a player he is. He gives us tips on how we bowl in the death, how we bowl in crucial situations. He is a big player. He is a mentor to us," he said.

"He has given me ideas on how I should bowl in the death in the pressure time. How I should use the slow ball, how I should use the long ball (yorker). That for us is a good thing," Farooqi noted.

Afghanistan will play West Indies on Monday in their final preliminary round match, which is merely to decide, who will enter the knockout stages with their unbeaten record intact.

For the Super Eight, Afghanistan are drawn alongside Australia and India, with Bangladesh or Netherlands to be their next opponent.

Ons Jabeur pushed Karolina Pliskova all the way in their delayed quarter-final match, but it was the Czech that came out on top.

After rain delayed the match on Friday, and start of play on Saturday, a tough battle ensued, but Pliskova reached her third semi-final of the season with a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 win.

Pliskova edged the first set on the tie-break before Jabeur forced a decider with an equally impressive win in the second.

Despite going toe-to-toe once more in the third, Pliskova just did enough to hold off top-seed Jabeur, getting a vital break to set up a meeting with Diane Parry.

Meanwhile, Emma Raducanu advanced to her first semi-final since 2022 after receiving a walkover from Francesca Jones, but her match against Katie Boulter was suspended due to rain after the first set, which lasted an incredible 80 minutes.

In 's-Hertogenbosch, Bianca Andreescu will play in the Libema Open final after her straight-sets 6-4, 6-2 victory over Dalma Galfi on Friday, earning a place in her first final of the season.

Data Debrief: Jabeur unable to stop the break

Jabeur had the opportunity to win seven break points during the quarter-final, but had a measly 14 per cent conversion rate (1/7). Pliskova, meanwhile, won half of hers (2/4).

The Czech also won 94 per cent of her service games (17/18), just one more than Jabeur. It was the fine margins that won out in Nottingham.

Lamine Yamal described his historic Euro 2024 bow as a "dream" after Spain hammered Croatia 3-0 in their Group B opener on Saturday.

Starting at the age of 16 years and 338 days, Yamal became the youngest player to ever feature at the European Championships, and he rewarded Luis de la Fuente's faith with a terrific performance.

The Barcelona winger saw his inviting cross prodded home by Dani Carvajal for La Roja's third goal, after Alvaro Morata and Fabian Ruiz had put them in control.

Only fellow youngster Pedri matched his total of three chances created, while he led all players for crosses (three) and saw his three successful dribbles equalled only by Dani Olmo.

Speaking after the game, Yamal said of Spain's fine display: "We trust ourselves a lot. We went out to give it our all, because three points already does a lot in the group stage.

"It's a dream. I'm very happy to have played in the European Championship.

"The team is very confident. Now we have to go all out against Italy. Nothing changes for one game. We go with the same confidence. The work of these last few months has been reflected today."

Spain are now in the driving seat in a group many regard as the toughest at the tournament ahead of facing Italy and Albania.

Captain Morata moved to seven European Championship goals with his opener, with only Cristiano Ronaldo (14) and Michel Platini (nine) ever scoring more.

Morata later seemed to be holding his leg in discomfort when he was withdrawn for Mikel Oyarzabal, but the striker has assured fans he will be fit to face Italy on Thursday.

"It was important to start like this," Morata said. "We pressed a great team very well. We must go for the games from the start and now think about the next one."

On the knock he suffered in the second half, he said: "It was just a blow, I was loading other parts of my leg. 

"The best thing was to go out and have another team-mate play better."

Nedim Bajrami scored the fastest goal in European Championship history as Albania made a stunning start to their Group B clash with Italy on Saturday.

Just 23 seconds into the teams' first game at Euro 2024, Bajrami pounced on a terrible throw-in from Italy left-back Federico Dimarco before powering his shot inside Gianluigi Donnarumma's near post.

The strike – which was just Albania's second at the Euros – was officially timed as the fastest after kick-off in the competition's 64-year history.

However, Albania's lead lasted just 10 minutes as Alessandro Bastoni equalised, the Inter centre-back heading Lorenzo Pellegrini's cross home at the far post.

Within another six minutes, Albania were behind as Nicolo Barella lashed home from range to put the Azzurri on top.

Harry Kane dreams of winning a major tournament with England to mark "the pinnacle of anyone's career", with the Three Lions star hoping to end his trophy drought at Euro 2024.

Bayern Munich striker Kane will lead his country out once more when Gareth Southgate's side open their European Championship campaign against Serbia on Sunday.

Having fallen short in the delayed Euro 2020 final against Italy, as well as World Clup semi-final elimination to Croatia in 2018, Kane is without international glory – and his lack of club success is much discussed, too.

Kane acknowledged his own shortcomings as the England captain aims for national success in Germany.

"I love playing for my country," he said at Saturday's pre-match press conference. "It means the world to me every time I step out onto the pitch wearing that shirt.

"To win a major tournament with England would be the pinnacle of anyone's career. That's the aim.

"For me personally, the trophies haven't quite happened yet, but it just makes me more determined and more hungry to go out there and do that.

"It starts with this summer, where we have a good opportunity. We have a lot of hard work in front of us, but that opportunity is there and I'm looking forward to making it happen."

Kane is England’s record goalscorer overall (63 goals) and their most prolific player at major tournaments (12 goals at World Cup/Euros).

He scored or assisted in all seven of his starts in qualifying (eight goals, two assists) and heads into this tournament after a fine club season with Bayern.

The former Tottenham forward scored 36 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for the most prolific debut campaign in the competition's history.

Yet international success is all that matters over the next month for Kane.

"Every tournament brings different expectations," Kane added. "We've earned the right to be classed as one of the favourites.

"In past tournaments, we've done a lot of things well and done the country proud but, ultimately, we're here to win it and there'll be nothing better for us and the nation itself than if we do that."

As for his own success, individual achievements are far from Kane's priority.

"Back in 2018, the Golden Boot was an amazing achievement, but that's always a consequence of winning games and trying to win the European Championship, which is what we're trying to do," he said.

"If I win the Golden Boot along the way, fantastic as I'm helping my team.

"We have some great goalscorers in the team, players who are on form, who've had fantastic seasons, so now it's about taking that into a major tournament." 

England have everyone in contention for their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia with Luke Shaw possibly able to appear from the bench, Gareth Southgate has revealed.

The Three Lions begin their fourth – and possibly final – major tournament under Southgate on Sunday, taking on Serbia in their first match in Group C in Gelsenkirchen.

Their preparations have been far from ideal, with Harry Maguire missing the tournament due to a calf injury and fellow centre-back John Stones battling a knock and illness.

Luke Shaw, meanwhile, has not played since February due to a hamstring problem, and was thought unlikely to feature until England's third group game against Slovenia.

However, Southgate has confirmed the Manchester United left-back is in contention to make the bench for Sunday's game, with Stones and the rest of his team-mates fully fit.

"Everyone is available. We have a decision whether Luke is a possible to use from the bench or not but everyone has trained today and is available," Southgate said on Saturday.

England are playing at an 11th edition of the Euros, racking up more games at the tournament (38) than any other team has managed without winning it.

As Southgate looks to end 58 years of hurt at major tournaments, he is breaking the competition down into a series of short-term targets.

"I'm hugely excited," he said. "To lead your country into a major tournament is an amazing honour. I'm very privileged. It's as exciting as it was ahead of Russia, if not more so. 

"In terms of our standing, you've seen Germany and Spain, there are a lot of good teams in this tournament. 

"We firstly have to progress through the group and then there's the opportunity to go further. Our focus is on qualifying from the group.

"When you’re trying to achieve exceptional things, you have to break it down into manageable chunks and the first priority is to get out of the group and work from there."

While many have written Serbia off ahead of the match, head coach Dragan Stojkovic is convinced his side are ready for the challenge of facing a tournament favourite.

"We should have maximum concentration and the quality at the maximum level, and I would not make a difference between the first, second or the third match, each of those matches are of extraordinary importance," Stojkovic told reporters.

"We know that we are starting against one of the favourites playing against England, but we have really done a lot to prepare as best as possible. 

"Trust me, they [the players] can hardly wait for the match to start, because physically and tactically at the same time, I am convinced that we are ready to face the challenges that come with England."

Poland believe they have what it takes to beat the Netherlands on Sunday, even without their talisman, Robert Lewandowski.

The striker is Poland's all-time top scorer with 82 goals in his 150 appearances for the national side.

Seven of those goals have come at major tournaments (two at World Cups and five at European Championships), and he scored three goals in their qualifying campaign to help them into the tournament.

However, Lewandowski has been ruled out of the Eagles' opener after sustaining a hamstring injury in their final warm-up friendly against Turkiye on Monday.

They are also missing striker Karol Swiderski due to an ankle injury, while Arkadiusz Milik withdrew from the squad as well.

Zielinski, who will wear the captain's armband in Lewandowski's absence, remained confident Poland have the players to get a victory.

"It is a great pity Robert Lewandowski cannot help us in this match," said Zielinski.

"He is a world-class player, and we will miss him. But whether it is me or the team-mates, we will add something extra to achieve the goal, which is to win."

"The qualifications were not exactly what we would have expected. The most important thing is that we are here, and we will do whatever we can."

Lewandowski is in contention to feature in Poland's other two Group D matches, with Austria and France also lying in wait.

Probierz will manage just his third game without the 35-year-old in the side, but echoed Zielinski's optimism ahead of a stern test against the Netherlands.

"There's nothing to hide, we will miss him. But other players will have to do what they can to get a result. I hope he will have other opportunities to play," he said.

"We have to change this team generationally. We will do whatever we have to do as a team to play well. We will not step back, we will progress.

"Everyone is saying we are going to lose. Everyone is writing us off. But we have a team that wants to fight for each other."

Spain sent out a statement in their opening game at Euro 2024 by thrashing Croatia 3-0 in Berlin, with Lamine Yamal assisting as he became the competition's youngest-ever player to feature.

La Roja claimed a 5-3 extra-time victory when these sides met in the last 16 at Euro 2020, but they enjoyed a far more serene outing on Saturday.

Fabian Ruiz released Alvaro Morata to put them ahead after a quiet start, then some clever footwork led to the midfielder's deflected strike beating Dominik Livakovic three minutes later.

Luis de la Fuente made Yamal the Euros' youngest-ever player at the age of 16 years and 338 days, and he rewarded his coach by assisting Dani Carvajal's third on the stroke of half-time.

Croatia looked a shadow of the team that took bronze at the 2022 World Cup and saw a potential consolation chalked off late on, Ivan Perisic being punished for encroachment as he teed up Bruno Petkovic on the rebound from the forward's saved penalty.

The opening exchanges were low on excitement as Spain struggled to combine their patient approach play with penetration, but Fabian provided the telling pass after 29 minutes.

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder split the Croatia centre-backs with an excellent throughball, allowing Morata to race clear and finish left-footed.

Fabian doubled Spain's advantage shortly afterwards. Receiving the ball from Pedri on the edge of the box, he turned Luka Modric before seeing his low drive take a slight deflection on its way into the bottom-right corner.

Croatia sought a response as Unai Simon denied Marcelo Brozovic and Josko Gvardiol volleyed wide, but their troubles deepened in first-half stoppage time, Carvajal pouncing to prod Yamal's inviting cross home.

Yamal could have had a goal to go with his assist seven minutes after the break, but Livakovic made a stunning save to keep his left-footed strike out.

Marc Cucurella made a brave last-ditch block to keep out Josip Stanisic's shot, and Croatia were denied a consolation in bizarre circumstances with 10 minutes remaining.

Simon's mistake led to Rodri pushing Petkovic over in front of a gaping goal, and though the Croatia substitute saw his spot-kick saved, he tapped home Perisic's left-sided cross on the rebound.

However, a VAR review showed Perisic was encroaching, so Petkovic's late finish was disallowed to cap a miserable start for Croatia.

Much-maligned Morata climbs the charts

Euro 2020 was a tournament to forget for Morata, who scored three goals but missed more big chances (six) than any other player before fluffing his lines from the spot as Spain were beaten on penalties by Italy in the last four.

However, Morata came into this tournament on the back of his joint-most prolific campaign in Europe's top five leagues, netting 15 times for Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, and he carried that form into Saturday's Group B opener.

He now has seven goals at the Euros overall (three in 2016, three in 2020, one in 2024), with only Cristiano Ronaldo (14) and Michel Platini (nine) bettering that tally.

Morata is also just the second Spanish player to reach double figures for goals at major tournaments, with 10. David Villa – their leading goalscorer at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup – netted 13.

Youth trumps experience

As Spain made Yamal the youngest player in Euros history, Croatia skipper Modric – aged 38 years and 280 days – became the oldest outfielder to appear at the tournament since Germany's Lothar Matthaus against Portugal in 2000 (39 years, 91 days).

Far from replicating Toni Kroos' metronomic performance in Germany's 5-1 rout of Scotland on Friday, Modric struggled to get a foothold against Spain's cultured midfield trio and was found wanting as Fabian turned him to score La Roja's second.

Veteran Modric and his team-mates struggled to get close to Yamal over on the Spain right, and it was an experienced Spanish campaigner who benefitted from the teenager's creativity.

While Yamal became the youngest player to assist in the history of the Euros, Carvajal became the oldest player to score for Spain at the competition, aged 32 years and 156 days.

After months of speculation regarding where Tee Higgins would play in the 2024 NFL season, the star wide receiver will officially remain with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Higgins will sign his franchise tag with the Bengals on Saturday, and is expected to be present when the team begins training camp next month.

The signing was first reported by Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer, and later confirmed by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Higgins had the franchise tag placed on him by the Bengals on February 26, and then asked to be traded a few weeks later.

In early April, however, he then said he intended to play for Cincinnati in 2024.

 

By signing the tag, which will pay him $21.8million in salary for the upcoming season, Higgins and the Bengals have until July 15 to work out a multi-year deal.

Higgins is coming off an injury-marred 2023 season, as he was limited to just 12 games due to ailments to his hamstring and ribs.

He finished the year with 42 catches for 256 yards and five touchdowns after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2021 and 2022.

The Bengals reached the AFC conference championship game in those two seasons before finishing last in the AFC South in 2023 with a 9-8 record.

A second-round pick by Cincinnati in 2020, the 25-year-old Higgins has 257 career receptions for 3,684 yards and 24 touchdowns in 58 games in his first four pro seasons.

The Bengals are scheduled to open training camp on July 26.

Brighton have announced that Fabian Hurzeler has become their new head coach, a club statement confirmed on Saturday. 

Hurzeler, 31, signed a three-year deal and arrives at the Amex having led St Pauli to the Bundesliga 2 title last season by winning 20 of their 34 matches.

“From the start of the process to appoint our new head coach, Fabian was always a standout candidate and one who had caught our attention with his exceptional work at St Pauli over the past eighteen months," Chairman Tony Bloom said. 

“He has a style of play that aligns with how we want a Brighton & Hove Albion team to play, and I’m confident it is one our supporters will appreciate and enjoy.

“Fabian also has an excellent coaching pedigree and has worked with the German federation at various age group levels. We are really excited to start working with Fabian to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Brighton's rise under the stewardship of De Zerbi has been admired by many, with the Italian helping the club qualify for Europe for the first time in their history at the end of the 2022-23 campaign. 

While the Seagulls finished just inside the bottom half of the Premier League table last season, they reached the last 16 of the Europa League, with Hurzeler looking forward to building on the solid foundations laid by the man before him. 

"The club has made incredible progress over the last few seasons and the aim is to continue building on that success," Huerzeler said.

"I am relishing the opportunity to coach in the Premier League, and I can't wait to meet the players, staff and, of course, the fans."

New Zealand's Trent Boult has confirmed that he will not play at another T20 World Cup.

Boult, who has 32 wickets in 17 outings in the tournament, will prepare for the Black Caps' final game of this year's edition against Papua New Guinea on Monday.

New Zealand exited a World Cup before the last four for the first time since 2014 after losing their opening games to Afghanistan and West Indies. 

Despite earning their maiden win of the tournament against Uganda, Monday's fixture against Papua New Guinea means little for New Zealand.

And 34-year-old Boult confirmed that match will be his final appearance at a T20 World Cup.

"Speaking on behalf of myself, this will be my last T20 World Cup," Boult told the media.

With him bowing out from the T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will now have to fill a gaping hole in their bowling attack for 2026.

In the current squad, only three players will be under 30-years-old, with Tim Southee another standout name who looks set to step back in the coming years.

Both Boult and Southee have played a pivotal role in recent ODI and T20 World Cups, and Boult is hopeful the latest edition of the competition will not be the last time he features alongside his good friend. 

"I look at the partnership with Tim with very fond memories," he said. "We bowled a lot of overs together. I know the partnership very well, and obviously he's a very good friend on and off the ground.

"It was nice to wind back the clock a little bit and see a bit of swing bowling at the top. Some great memories, and hopefully a couple more still to come."

New Zealand's Trent Boult has confirmed that he will not play at another T20 World Cup.

Boult, who has 32 wickets in 17 outings in the tournament, will prepare for the Black Caps' final game of this year's edition against Papua New Guinea on Monday.

New Zealand exited a World Cup before the last four for the first time since 2014 after losing their opening games to Afghanistan and West Indies. 

Despite earning their maiden win of the tournament against Uganda, Monday's fixture against Papua New Guinea means little for New Zealand.

And 34-year-old Boult confirmed that match will be his final appearance at a T20 World Cup.

"Speaking on behalf of myself, this will be my last T20 World Cup," Boult told the media.

With him bowing out from the T20 World Cup, the Black Caps will now have to fill a gaping hole in their bowling attack for 2026.

In the current squad, only three players will be under 30-years-old, with Tim Southee another standout name who looks set to step back in the coming years.

Both Boult and Southee have played a pivotal role in recent ODI and T20 World Cups, and Boult is hopeful the latest edition of the competition will not be the last time he features alongside his good friend. 

"I look at the partnership with Tim with very fond memories," he said. "We bowled a lot of overs together. I know the partnership very well, and obviously he's a very good friend on and off the ground.

"It was nice to wind back the clock a little bit and see a bit of swing bowling at the top. Some great memories, and hopefully a couple more still to come."

France are preparing to open their Euro 2024 campaign against Austria on Monday, and Les Bleus cannot wait to welcome back a familiar face in N'Golo Kante.

The former Chelsea man has been hampered by hamstring issues before requiring surgery, while his move to Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad saw Kante dropped by Didier Deschamps.

Diminutive midfielder Kante had not appeared in international football over the last two years but made his return to Les Bleus' squad for the tournament in Germany.

Calling upon years of trophy-winning experience in the middle, Kante's France team-mates have been impressed with the 33-year-old's efforts in warm-up friendlies against Luxembourg and Canada.

"I had the impression that there were three of him," French forward Marcus Thurman joked at a press conference on Saturday.

"There's no time to play in training any more. As soon as we have him on our team, we win. He has reminded us in a week why he was one of the greatest midfielders in Europe."

Olivier Giroud echoed a similar sentiment when praising the two-time Premier League champion on Friday.

"He has not changed," veteran Giroud said. "He is the same player I have known for years in the national team and at Chelsea. He is everywhere. It's great to have him with us."

The 55-cap international appears set to start when France open their Group D campaign against Austria in Dusseldorf, if Deschamps' high praise last week is anything to go by.

"For those who had doubts about his abilities and the intensity of play, he is still at the same level," said Deschamps after Kante's surprise recall.

"Even though he hasn't been here for a while, he's not out of place."

Lamine Yamal has become the youngest-ever player to appear in a European Championships game, at 16 years and 338 days old.

Yamal started as Spain began their Euro 2024 campaign against Croatia in Berlin on Saturday.

He breaks the record previously set by Poland's Kacper Kozlowski, who played for the Eagles at Euro 2020 aged 17 years and 246 days.

Yamal is making just his eighth appearance for his country, with Spain boss Luis de la Fuente saying in his press conference on Friday that Yamal and fellow winger Nico Williams "have a gift from God".

Meanwhile, on the other side Croatia's Luka Modric, at 38 years and 280 days, is the oldest outfield player to play at the tournament since Lothar Matthaus for Germany against Portugal in June 2000 (39 years, 91 days).

He starts alongside Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic in midfield, with the experienced trio boasting an impressive 372 international caps between them. 

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