Australia made it nine World Cup qualifying wins in a row on the road to Qatar 2022 with a straightforward 3-0 triumph over China at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha. 

The Socceroos finished top of their group in the previous round and made a winning start to the third qualifying stage thanks to goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and substitute Mitchell Duke. 

China had won their previous four qualifiers and managed to restrict their opponents to minimal opportunities in the opening quarter of the contest on neutral territory. 

But Mabil acrobatically volleyed home to give Australia the breakthrough – the goal allowed to stand despite a high boot from the winger – and Boyle fired in a second from the edge of the box less than two minutes later. 

Graham Arnold's side had a penalty shout for handball turned down, but they had a third goal that their dominance deserved with 70 minutes on the clock. 

Duke was on hand to tap home after Mabil was denied from one of his five shots on target – the joint-most of any player in a game in the 2022 Asian World Cup qualifiers – as he scored just 59 seconds after being introduced off the bench. 

That was the fastest any substitute has scored in the Asian qualifiers since Tana Chanabut for Thailand after 36 seconds against the United Arab Emirates in October 2016.

England captain Joe Root has regained top spot in the ICC men's Test batting rankings following his impressive displays in the ongoing series with India.

The 30-year-old has recorded centuries in all three Tests, which is tied at 1-1 ahead of the fourth match at The Oval this week, aggregating 507 runs at an average of 126.75.

Root was fifth on the list at the start of the series but his form throughout 2021 has seen him overtake Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and previous number one Kane Williamson to lead the way for the first time since December 2015.

Kohli has slipped out of the top five, with Rohit Sharma overtaking his team-mate with his highest ever position.

The 916 ranking points accrued by Root is one below his career-best aggregate from August 2015 and has been bettered by only four other England batsmen – Len Hutton, Jack Hobbs, Peter May and Denis Compton

"Obviously it's a nice thing to hear," Root said. "I've got to keep trying to score in this series and get us over the line.

"As nice as it is, there is still so much hard work to do. Our focus does not change. I'm obviously proud to have achieved this and I'd like to stay there now by playing like I am.

"Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but I do feel very good at the minute. I've got to stay focused now."

In bowling terms, Root's England team-mate James Anderson has moved back up to number five in a list led by Australia's Pat Cummins.

England levelled their five-match series with India thanks to an innings victory in the third Test at Headingley last week.

All-rounder Moeen Ali has been confirmed as England's vice-captain for the fourth Test after Jos Buttler was given a paternity break ahead of the arrival of his second child.
 

The Australian government has been praised by FIFPro after evacuating women footballers and other athletes from Afghanistan. 

Many sportswomen in Afghanistan have gone into hiding after the Taliban seized control of the country's capital Kabul. 

Football's governing body FIFA contacted a number of governments last week to request help getting footballers out of the country and it has been reported at least 50 have made it to Australia.

"We are grateful to the Australian government for evacuating a large number of women footballers and athletes from Afghanistan," FIFPro, the international organisation for professional players, said in a statement.

"These young women, both as athletes and activists, have been in a position of danger and on behalf of their peers around the world we thank the international community for coming to their aid.

"There remains much work to do to support and settle these young women and we urge the international community to make sure that they receive all the help they need."

Former Afghanistan national team captain Khalida Popal hopes more players can be helped to escape the country.

"The last few days have been extremely stressful but today we have achieved an important victory," she said.

"The women footballers have been brave and strong in a moment of crisis and we hope they will have a better life outside Afghanistan.

"But there is still much more work to do. Women's football is a family and we must make sure everyone is safe."

FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann added: "It has been an incredibly complex process for everyone involved to secure their evacuation.

"Our hearts go out to all the others who remain stranded in the country against their will."

The Wallabies and All Blacks will clash in the Bledisloe Cup in Perth before Queensland hosts the remainder of the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand pulled out of next weekend's third and final Bledisloe Test due to concerns over coronavirus, with the showdown initially set for August 28 at Optus Stadium.

The fixture will go ahead in Perth, with a date for the game set to be confirmed in the coming days following SANZAAR's announcement on Tuesday.

Afterwards, the Rugby Championship will head to Queensland for doubleheaders across four consecutive weekends in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville, where the centenary Test between the All Blacks and Springboks will be played.

The Wallabies play South Africa on September 12 at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, where the All Blacks then going head-to-head against Argentina.

September 18 will see the teams travel to Brisbane for Argentina-New Zealand and Australia-South Africa contests at Suncorp Stadium.

Australia and Argentina face-off at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville the following weekend on September 25, before the New Zealand-Argentina centenary encounter.

The Rugby Championship concludes on the Gold Coast on October 2, with the Pumas facing the Wallabies and Springboks taking on the All Blacks.

"We thought last year was tough when we had to implement a Tri-Nations tournament in Australia with South Africa absent due to the pandemic, but the current disruption caused by the 'delta variant' of COVID-19 has seen government authorities tighten up border bio-security measures substantially," said SANZAAR CEO Brendan Morris.

"This is understandable and therefore, we had no option but to basically move the remainder of The Rugby Championship to Queensland.

"On behalf of SANZAAR and the national unions, I would like to sincerely thank the Queensland Government for working with us around the clock to provide a travel, accommodation, training and playing environment that will safely allow us to complete the tournament.

"SANZAAR and the national unions are incredibly grateful and will work closely with the states' health authorities to ensure all bio-security measures are adhered to." 

Rugby Australia (RA) CEO Andy Marinos added: "This is a world Rugby first and a truly special celebration of the game, in what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime event."

Rugby Australia remain "confident" the third Bledisloe Cup clash will be staged in Perth, despite New Zealand pulling out of the game next weekend.

The All Blacks and the Wallabies were due to meet at Optus Stadium on August 28, but New Zealand Rugby (NZR) opted against travelling due to concerns over coronavirus.

Rugby Australia (RA) announced it was "incredibly disappointed" at the move, while Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie stated in no uncertain terms he was "bloody angry" over the decision.

Playing the Test in the United Kingdom or South Africa had been suggested as an alternative, but RA chief executive Andy Marinos hopes the trans-Tasman rivals can still do battle in Perth next month.

"We're working hard now with the West Australian government and the stadium to see if we can't move that to September 4," Marinos told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"We remain optimistic and confident we can get the game away eventually in Perth."

NZR chief executive Mark Robinson denied claims that RA had not been told that the All Blacks would not fulfil the fixture before it was announced.

He said: "We had calls right through from Wednesday, Thursday, we put something in writing on Thursday and then we spoke to them before anything was released.

"Certainly I know that senior All Blacks and Wallabies were discussing the situation and our players were making them aware of the reality of our situation."

NZR also announced the All Blacks' two home Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa – scheduled for September 25 and October 2 – will not be played in New Zealand following government advice that the Springboks would not be able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

SA Rugby has offered to host the remainder of the 2021 Rugby Championship after coronavirus cases in New Zealand saw three All Blacks Tests called off.

With travel and quarantine restrictions tightened in New Zealand, it was announced the national team's matches against the Springboks in Auckland and Dunedin had been cancelled.

The All Blacks also will not travel to Perth for their third Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia – a decision their SANZAAR rivals said they only learned of through the media.

These developments have left Rugby Championship plans in tatters after just a single round of matches.

The tournament was replaced by the Tri-Nations in 2020 when South Africa withdrew. This time, SA Rugby is able to provide a potential solution, confirming in a statement its offer to SANZAAR.

"We have advised SANZAAR that we are ready and able to host the remainder of the competition in South Africa, pending our government's approval," said CEO Jurie Roux.

"But we are now well-versed in turning on rugby Tests within the prevailing COVID restrictions and have the venues and accommodation necessary. We just need the go-ahead."

The Springboks are still set to face Argentina, as scheduled, in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, although the two teams will not then fly out to Australia as they await an announcement on the rescheduling of the tournament.

South Africa has already this year hosted a British and Irish Lions tour, which the Springboks won 2-1.

Rugby Australia (RA) has been left "incredibly disappointed" after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) opted against sending the All Blacks to Perth for game three of the Bledisloe Cup against the Wallabies.

Australia and New Zealand were scheduled to meet at Optus Stadium on August 28, but Bledisloe III has been put on hold following the NZR's decision to keep the All Blacks grounded at home amid uncertainty due to COVID-19.

There have been rising cases of coronavirus in both Australia and New Zealand, with reports claiming the clash could be moved to the United Kingdom or South Africa.

NZR also announced the All Blacks' two home Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa – scheduled for September 25 and October 2 – will not be played in New Zealand following government advice that the Springboks would not be able to enter the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

"Without complete certainty on the team's next movements around The Rugby Championship we felt it was prudent for the team to stay put in New Zealand until SANZAAR have announced the full tournament schedule," said NZR CEO Mark Robinson on Friday, with the All Blacks having already retained the Bledisloe Cup.

"Once the team leaves our shores, they currently can't return until November 23 post their Northern Tour, so given the uncertainty, it makes sense to pause and get more clarity on these fixtures.

"We remain 100 percent committed to playing in the entire Fortinet Rugby Championship in 2021 and are working closely with SANZAAR to look at a range of options to reschedule these important matches."

Having been notified of NZR's decision to abort the Perth showdown via the media, RA CEO Andy Marinos said: "It's incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention.

"Despite this outcome, I am confident we will find a solution for the whole Rugby Championship in what continues to be a very challenging environment in which to work.

"We have been engaging in positive discussions with both teams as well as government partners and were confident we were close to finding a solution."

Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are the big names who will return to the Australia set up for the T20 World Cup.

The four stars did not feature in Australia's recent tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh. Aaron Finch's team suffered a 4-1 defeat in the latter series, while they also lost the T20 series to the Windies.

However, Australia's white-ball captain will be able to call on big hitters Smith, Warner and Maxwell, as well as paceman Cummins, for the World Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October and November.

They are joined by Josh Inglis, who has been rewarded for his outstanding form with a first international call-up.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a brilliant domestic season in both Australia and England, having been the leading run scorer in county cricket's T20 competition, and takes his place in the 15-man squad.

"Josh has been on our radar for some time with his performances in white ball cricket and more recently in the Vitality Blast where he topped the run charts," selection chair George Bailey said.

"He offers the squad flexibility in the batting order with his adaptability, counterattacking ability and power striking. He is a player we are excited about for the future."

Alex Carey is the biggest name to miss out at Inglis' expense, with Matthew Wade the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Nathan Ellis, Dan Christian and Daniel Sams have been named as travelling reserves.

Australia's T20 World Cup squad: 

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams.

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive Nick Hockley has given his full backing to the under-fire Justin Langer.

Australia head coach Langer has come in for criticism for his intense style of management, with reports the former opening batsman was recently involved in a heated exchange with a member of CA's digital team.

It has also been claimed that some Australia players have become increasingly disgruntled with Langer's approach.

However, Hockley endorsed the job Langer is doing ahead of the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, with a home Ashes series also on the horizon.

"Justin has done an incredible job in raising the culture, values and behaviours of the Australian men's team since he took on the role in 2018," Hockley said.

"His efforts have restored public faith in the national team. He is contracted as head coach through to the middle of next year, with the focus now on a successful T20 World Cup campaign followed by the home Ashes defence.

"The team has had an extremely disruptive and challenging 18 months during the pandemic.

"Despite those challenges the side has had great success in one-day, Test and T20 cricket, when all players were available.

"Justin, his coaching staff and the leaders within the team have an equally important part to play in ensuring a successful summer ahead."

Langer took over the team in the wake of the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, which resulted in Steve Smith being stripped of the captaincy and, along with David Warner being banned from competing for 12 months.

Australia won the 2019 Ashes in England under Langer's tutelage, with Smith returning to play a starring role in the series.

White-ball captain Aaron Finch has expressed his frustration that stories have been leaked from the camp over Langer's methods.

The opening batsman told SEN Radio: "There's always tension when results don't go your way in all sports.

"Wins and losses are what count. I think anytime that doesn't happen, that all gets amplified. It's just one of those things.

"It's disappointing that things are coming to the front the way that they are, that's never ideal. It's just one of those things that keeps popping up, which is disappointing.

"The camp we had on the Gold Coast, to go through our culture and values and things like that, especially from a playing group, was really important, and one that I think players got a lot out of.

"But when things are being leaked out from inside, that's not a great look."

Fierce rivals India and Pakistan will meet in their first game of the T20 World Cup on October 24.

The schedule for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman was confirmed on Tuesday, with the final taking place in Dubai on November 14.

Pakistan and India will do battle in their opening Super12 Group 2 match at 6 pm local time.

New Zealand will get their bid for glory underway against Pakistan in Sharjah two days later, while Afghanistan begin their campaign on 25 October against a qualifier

Holders West Indies play England in a repeat of the dramatic 2016 final in debut on October 23, the same day as Group 1 rivals Australia face South Africa in Abu Dhabi.

The opening game of the competition will see co-hosts Oman come up against Papua New Guinea in Group B on October 17, with Scotland and Bangladesh in action on the same day.

The first semi-final will take place in Abu Dhabi on November 10 and the second will be staged in Dubai the following day.

 

 

West Indies T20 World Cup schedule 

23 October

 England  vs   West Indies

 Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai

 

 26 October

South Africa  vs  West Indies


 Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai

 

29 October

West Indies  vs  B2

Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah

 

4 November
  West Indies   A1

Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi

 

 6 November

Australia  vs  West Indies

Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
  

 

  

Toutai Kefu is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after the Tonga coach and former Australia player was wounded during a burglary at his home.

Kefu and three members of his household were taken to hospital following an incident in the Coorparoo area of Brisbane that was reported to police at around 03:00 local time on Monday.

A man in his forties was confirmed to have suffered "serious injuries" after a violent altercation.

Two 15-year-old males have been arrested in relation to the incident, with Queensland Police confirming Kefu's wife, son and daughter were also receiving treatment for knife wounds at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital. A third alleged suspect is said to be unaccounted for.

"His initial condition was described as critical, but expected to survive," detective superintendent Tony Fleming told reporters on Monday.

"Mr Kefu is out of surgery and is stable now.

"His son is still receiving treatment as I understand and there's more treatment for Mrs Kefu and their daughter that will continue tomorrow.

"The mother has suffered very, very serious lacerations to her arm and I'm told her wounds are very significant."

Support for Kefu, who played 60 Tests for Australia, and his family poured in from across the world of rugby.

Superintendent Fleming stated that the family was awoken by noises in the house, with Kefu going to investigate.

"That person was accosted by at least one of the offenders in the premises and threatened to be stabbed if they didn’t hand over vehicle keys," Fleming said.

"Other members of the family came to that person's aid and during this time very significant injuries occurred to the family."

Kefu is Australia's most capped number eight of all time and helped the Wallabies win the 1999 World Cup. He coached Tonga at the 2019 tournament in Japan and was reappointed to the role earlier in 2021.

"Thoughts and prayers are with my Tongan brother Toutai Kefu and his family," former cross-code New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams wrote on Twitter, while the Wallabies tweeted: "You got this great man!! All our love and thoughts to you and the entire Kefu family!" 

Dave Rennie took the blame for Australia's record 57-22 Bledisloe Cup defeat to rampant New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.

The All Blacks ran riot in Auckland, scoring eight tries to retain the trophy for a 19th successive year and secure a bonus point-victory in their first game of the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand only led 21-15 at half-time, but Codie Taylor claimed a double as Ian Foster's side tore the Wallabies apart after the break.

Australia head coach Rennie took responsibility for a chastening drubbing at the hands of their trans-Tasman rivals.

He said: "Everything falls back on me. We went in with a plan. If we can't execute that plan, we'll seriously look at what we’re doing.

"We want to have an optimistic mindset around how we play, but you've got to play what's in front of you.

"In the end, the players are implementing what we're trying to put on the park. So clearly we'll take responsibility for it."

Rieko Ioane, David Havili, Sevu Reece, Ardie Savea, Brodie Retallick and Will Jordan also crossed in a devastating display from the All Blacks.

New Zealand head coach Foster was delighted to see his side take command in ruthless fashion following the interval.

He said: "We wanted to respond. The reason we had to respond is we knew the Aussies would lift. They played a combative, physical game in that first 40 and you could see they wanted to take us on up front.

"It was a good old ding-dong Test match in that first period. But we stuck to our plan, even when we lost a couple of things early. We didn't panic, or go away from what we wanted to do.

"What was exciting was when we got the opportunity, particularly with the ball, the group [Savea, Ioane and Taylor] were quite lethal at latching into the space in front of them.

"Plum [forward coach John Plumtree] is doing a lot of work in that ball-carrying space and breakdown space and today we reaped some rewards out of that."

New Zealand made it six Test wins in a row and stretched their unbeaten home run against Australia with an enthralling 57-22 Rugby Championship victory at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Wallabies, beaten 33-25 last weekend in Auckland, had won two of the three previous meetings in the Tri-Nations and Rugby Championship and looked like they might swing a frenetic contest their way early in the second half when the All Blacks were reduced to 14 men.

However, New Zealand stormed in front in sodden conditions, scoring three tries in 15 minutes to leave Dave Rennie's men demoralised after they had gone stride for stride with their hosts in the first half.

David Havili's converted try in the final seconds meant this was the highest score Ian Foster's side had ever posted against Australia.

The visitors' start was a demoralising one, Rieko Ioane plucking a pass from the air and surging 80 metres up the field to score with just three minutes played.

The Wallabies hit back in quick fashion, Andrew Kellaway darting over following a pinpoint kick from Noah Lolesio, who could not convert the try.

Australia defended resolutely to disrupt the All Blacks' rhythm, but another turnover in opposition territory saw them fall further behind, Brodie Retallick diving under the posts at the end of a sublime passing move.

Ardie Savea powered over for a third try of the half after Lolesio's penalty reduced the deficit, although Tate McDermott went over following a five-metre scrum to keep Australia in touch at the midway point.

However, six minutes after the restart – and with Savea in the sin bin – a stunning dummy and burst of speed from Aaron Smith allowed Codie Taylor a simple finish beneath the posts.

That try seemed to sap Australia's belief and, in turn, left the All Blacks buoyant. Damian McKenzie scored a penalty from 57 metres out and, scarcely a minute later, Sevu Reece snatched a looping pass down the left wing and raced away for try number five.

Three attempted tackles could not stop Taylor driving over for his second after a New Zealand attacking scrum, and quick work at the breakdown allowed Savea to set up Will Jordan to score once more in the right corner.

Kellaway got a consolation try in the driving rain but the All Blacks had the final say, Havili charging over after the siren sounded as celebrations began in earnest. Australia's winless run in New Zealand now stands at 27 matches.

 

Comprehensive

Not only was this the highest score New Zealand have managed against their old rivals, but the aggregate score in their 33 matches with Australia at Eden Park now stands at 874-443.

The Bledisloe Cup, which has not left their hands since 2003, has become a one-sided rivalry.

Risky business

In these two Bledisloe Cup Tests, Australia have adopted a more risky approach and each time had New Zealand a little worried early in the second half.

While it has made for great spectacles, their bold displays also proved their undoing: there were two intercept tries for New Zealand here and three in total in these matches.

Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch is expected to be fit for the start of the T20 World Cup after undergoing knee surgery.

Finch suffered cartilage damage in St Lucia last month and missed the tour of Bangladesh.

The opening batsman went under knife on Friday and the expectation is that he will be ready to lead his country when the T20 World Cup - staged in UAE and Oman - gets under way in October.

A Cricket Australia statement said: "His recovery is expected to take 8-10 weeks meaning he should be available for the opening games of the World Cup in mid-October."

Australia will face England, South Africa, West Indies and two yet-to-be-determined qualifiers in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Matthew Wade stepped in to skipper an under-strength Australia side in a 4-1 T20 series loss to Bangladesh.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.