Kumar and Kohli dominate as India end Asia Cup campaign by thrashing Afghanistan

By Sports Desk September 08, 2022

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Virat Kohli impressed on either side of the ball as India ended their poor Asia Cup campaign with a resounding 101-run win over Afghanistan on Thursday.

India's thrilling six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka on Tuesday left their Super Four qualification hopes in ruins, but they took out any frustrations on their hapless opponents to end a dire title defence on a positive note in Dubai.

Skipper KL Rahul (62) and the outstanding Kohli, who required just 61 balls to bring up his mammoth haul of 122, led India to a scintillating start after they were put in to bat.

Afghanistan claimed the wickets of Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav (six) in quick succession in the 12th over, but were unable to build on those dismissals as India raced to a strong target of 212.

But Afghanistan's struggles with the ball were nothing compared to what was to follow with the bat; Kumar removed opening duo Hazratullah Zazai and Rahmanullah Gurbaz for ducks within the first over, and added three more wickets before the end of the sixth.

Deepak Hooda, Arshdeep Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin then got in on the act with a wicket apiece as Afghanistan were limited to just 111 runs at the end of a chastening outing.

Kohli scales new heights

Kohli's unbeaten 122 is the highest score managed by an Indian player in men's T20 internationals, overtaking Rohit Sharma's 118 against Sri Lanka in December 2017.

While Kohli will be disappointed with India's failure to reach the Asia Cup final, he will no doubt be relieved at ending a long wait for a 71st century in international cricket; he last did so 1,020 days ago, against Bangladesh in November 2019.

Kumar on fire as Afghanistan collapse

India had a star at either end of the crease on Thursday, with Kumar bringing up a remarkable five-wicket haul to continue his excellent form.

Kumar has now taken 31 wickets in T20Is in 2022, surpassing India's previous record across a calendar year (Jasprit Bumrah's 28 in 2016).

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  • West Indies Women select four U19 players for Tri-Series match against India West Indies Women select four U19 players for Tri-Series match against India

    The Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) Selection Panel has called up four of the West Indies Under 19 Rising Stars players who competed at the ICC Women’s U19 World Cup to the West Indies Women’s team.

    All-rounders Zaida James and Djenaba Joseph, wicketkeeper/batter Trishan Holder and fast-bowler Jannillea Glasgow have been selected as injury cover for Monday’s final Tri- Series match against India Women at Buffalo Park in East London.

    Stafanie Taylor, Chinelle Henry, Shakera Selman and Chedean Nation are currently going through a return to play rehabilitation ahead of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup.

    “The selection panel has included four Under 19 players for the final match of the Tri-Series as potential replacements for injured players,” said Chief Selector Ann Browne-John.

    “The four have been training with the senior team in South Africa since the conclusion of the ICC Women’s U19 World Cup.

    “We believe this is the perfect opportunity to utilize these four players, two of whom (Joseph and Holder) made their international debut against England last year, to reinforce the squad in the absence of injured senior players. They have been playing in South African conditions for the past three weeks so are well prepared. With final selection of the ICC T20 World Cup squad still to be done, it gives the selection panel another opportunity to see the best players available and select the best combination to participate.”

    Holder and Joseph made their West Indies senior debuts against England last December, while Glasgow and James were travelling reserves with the senior team last year.

    During the ICC Women’s U19 World Cup, James struck two half-centuries and had a four-wicket haul, whilst Joseph struck an unbeaten 44 not out in their Super6s match against England. Holder had a well-compiled 34 not out off 14 balls against Indonesia and Glasgow was the spearhead of the bowling attack.

    The West Indies Women play India Women on Monday 30 January in the final preliminary match at 3pm local time (9am Eastern Caribbean/8am Jamaica time).

    Full squad: Hayley Matthews (Captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shanika Bruce, Shemaine Campbelle, Shamilia Connell, Britney Cooper, Afy Fletcher, Shabika Gajnabi, Jannillea Glasgow (U19), Sheneta Grimmond, Trishan Holder (U19), Zaida James (U19), Djenaba Joseph (U19), Karishma Ramharack, Kaysia Schultz and Rashada Williams.

    Match schedule:

    16 January: warm-up match vs South Africa XI at Beacon Bay- South Africa won by 4 wickets.

     T20I Tri-Series Match Schedule

     (all matches to be played at Buffalo Park, East London)

     21 January: vs South Africa – South Africa won by 44 runs

     23 January: vs India – India won by 56 runs

     25 January: vs South Africa – South Africa won by 10 wickets

     30 January: vs India, 3pm local time (9am Eastern Caribbean/8am Jamaica)

     2 February: Tri-Series Final, 3pm local time (9am Eastern Caribbean/8am Jamaica

  • West Indies dismiss Zimbabwe XI for 122 in Bulawayo tour match West Indies dismiss Zimbabwe XI for 122 in Bulawayo tour match

    Alzarri Joseph, Shannon Gabriel and Gudakesh Motie each took two wickets for the West Indies who bowled out the Zimbabwe XI for 122 on Monday to establish a lead of 395 runs on first innings in their tour match in Bulawayo.

    Batting a second time the West Indies were at the time of writing 18-1, a lead of 413. Raymon Reifer was the batter out for just one.

    In response to the West Indies’ first innings score of 517, Zimbabwe XI, resuming from their overnight score of 52-5, added 70 more for the loss of their remaining five wickets.

    Timycen Maruma, who was on 15 overnight was eventually dismissed by Motie for 37 while Milton Shumba, who was on nine added only four before he was bowled by Gabriel for 13.

    Tafadzwa Tsiga scored an unbeaten 21 and number-11 batter Faraz Akram added 19 managing to get the score past 100 after Zimbabwe XI had slumped to 87-9.

    Joseph took 2-12, while Motie returned figures of 2-24. Gabriel, who is returning from an extended break because of injury, finished with 2-21.

    The match concludes on Tuesday.

     

     

     

     

  • Fifteen years on from Portsmouth stunner, was Ronaldo ever a great free-kick taker? Fifteen years on from Portsmouth stunner, was Ronaldo ever a great free-kick taker?

    Cristiano Ronaldo has scored many famous goals.

    Undoubtedly, though, one of his most celebrated strikes came 15 years ago, on January 30, 2008.

    On a winter evening at Old Trafford, Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth rocked up in fine form on the road, having won seven of their 12 away games in the Premier League.

    Yet Ronaldo, in the midst of a 31-goal season in the top tier, was the difference. 

    Having put Manchester United ahead in the 10th minute, Ronaldo stepped up, just under 30 yards out from goal, three minutes later.

    His free-kick, taken in what would become his trademark style, went up, over the wall and swerved remarkably into the right-hand corner. David James, the Portsmouth goalkeeper, had no chance.

    That goal is often thought of as the typical Ronaldo free-kick. Power, panache and pinpoint accuracy.

    But is Ronaldo actually as good as a free-kick taker as that goal might suggest? Using Opta data, Stats Perform has taken a look.

    Quantity, not quality?

    Since that goal against Portsmouth up until the day his second spell at United ended (November 23, 2022), Ronaldo had more shots from direct free-kicks than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

    Of the 645 shots Ronaldo had, 41 resulted in a goal. That is from 700 club games, across stints at United, Real Madrid and Juventus.

    On the face of it, that goal tally does not stand out as particularly impressive, at least given the fact that Ronaldo netted 619 times in total.

    Yet he is behind only Lionel Messi (who else?) when it comes to goals from direct free-kicks, with the Barcelona great scoring on 51 occasions from such situations.

    That gives Messi an 8.1 per cent conversion rate from free-kicks in that timeframe, in contrast to Ronaldo's 6.3 per cent.

     

    Naturally, given their status in the game, Ronaldo and Messi will almost always pull rank when it comes to set-pieces, especially at a free-kick in a dangerous position.

    Miralem Pjanic, who ranks third for direct free-kick goals and was a club-mate of both players at Barca and Juve respectively, boasts better conversion rate than either (nine per cent).

    Neymar's 13 goals from 147 attempts gives him an 8.8 per cent success rate, while James Ward-Prowse's 12 per cent (15 from 125, though this figure of course does not account for his strike against Everton earlier in January) is close to double what Ronaldo managed.

    Indeed, when ranked against players from Europe's big five leagues that scored 10 or more direct free-kicks between January 31, 2008 and November 23, 2022, only Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dani Parejo had lower conversion rates than Ronaldo.

    Club by club

    So, having established that Ronaldo's free-kick finishing was somewhat erratic following that stunner against Portsmouth, let's check on how he stacked up at each club.

    Across his career in Europe's top five leagues, Ronaldo netted 48 free-kicks in all competitions, from 782 shots (6.1 per cent).

     

    Thirteen of those goals came at United, with five each in his final two seasons of his first spell at the club.

    Indeed, Ronaldo's peak when it came to free-kicks was definitely between the 2007-08 season and the 2013-14 campaign, when he scored 35 times from that type of dead-ball situation.

    His best single season tally was six, in the 2009-10 season – his first at Madrid.

    From 2014-15 onwards he did not manage more than three free-kick goals during a season, while he scored only twice from 86 such attempts while at Juve, and managed no goals from four free-kicks in his second stint at United.

    One of the greats?

    As well as his effort against Portsmouth, Ronaldo has many other memorable free-kicks in the bank.

    His stunning, 40-yard strike against Arsenal in the 2009 Champions League semi-final; a mesmerising hit from even further out in a Madrid derby in 2012; and who can forget that spellbinding, hat-trick sealing effort that secured a last-gasp draw for Portugal against Spain in a 3-3 thriller at the 2018 World Cup.

    Ronaldo might have gone off the boil from dead balls since the halcyon days either side of his move from Manchester to Madrid, yet there's no doubting that when he hits them true, there's not much any goalkeeper can do.

    While he may not go down as one of the greatest free-kick takers in history statistically, he has definitely been a scorer of some great free-kicks down the years.

    And who knows, maybe there'll be more to come in Saudi Arabia.

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