• Kohli, Axar steady Indian innings after early collapse against South Africa
  • Fans pray for India's elusive world cricket trophy
  • T20 World Cup final a hunger game for Proteas, says Markram
  • India and South Africa to clash in T20 World Cup final on Saturday
  • Rohit Sharma says struggling Virat Kohli 'saving it for the final'
  • Low-profile Rob Walter leads South Africa to promised land of World Cup final
  • South Africa defeat Afghanistan by nine wickets to reach T20 World Cup final
  • India 'always under pressure' to end World Cup drought, says Rohit
  • Polarising Warner bows out with Australia T20 World Cup exit
  • Afghanistan qualify for T20 World Cup semis, eliminate Australia
Kohli, Axar steady Indian innings after early collapse against South Africa

June 29, 2024 08:18 PM

 India have been rattled early with South Africa sending back Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, and Suryakumar Yadav.

India had won the toss and chosen to bat first at the Kensington Oval.

After losing three wickets, both Kohli and Axar succeeded  in making 75 runs in 10 overs. 

Earlier,  Virat Kohli hit three fours in the first over but Keshav Maharaj hit back for South Africa by dismissing Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant in the second.


Fans pray for India's elusive world cricket trophy

June 29, 2024 03:14 PM

Cricket fans across India were praying, fasting and holding fire rituals for their team to end a global title drought in the T20 World Cup final Saturday.

Rohit Sharma's India face South Africa in a blockbuster climax in Barbados with both teams unbeaten in the ninth edition of the tournament.

India last tasted success in a world-level tournament in the 2013 Champions Trophy and have since faltered in the knockout stages of ICC events, despite being ranked number one in both T20s and one-day internationals, and number two in Tests.

Rohit and team came agonisingly close to winning the ODI World Cup at home last year, but lost to Australia in the final at the world's biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.

News channels repeatedly showed images Saturday of fans holding Hindu fire rituals to urge the gods to take the team to victory over South Africa, who will be playing their first-ever World Cup men's final.

Some featured pictures bedecked with flower garlands of captain Rohit, who has hit three half-centuries in the tournament, holding the World Cup trophy.

India knocked out defending champions England in the semi-final in Guyana and a triumph would be a fitting finale for outgoing coach Rahul Dravid.

"With a quiet prayer on my lips, I hope the team wins it for Rahul Dravid," Saad Majeed, an ardent fan wearing an Indian jersey, told AFP.

"Rohit is in top form and I am sure a final flourish from him would drive the team home to a memorable win, which will help us forget the previous heartaches."

Sumit Dagar, another fan, said in Delhi: "I will be fasting since morning and will eat only when India will win against South Africa today. There is no chance they will lose."

T20 World Cup final a hunger game for Proteas, says Markram

June 29, 2024 12:49 PM

South Africa captain Aiden Markram says his team are driven by an "extreme hunger" to win as they search for their first T20 World Cup title against India on Saturday.

Until Wednesday's victory over Afghanistan, the Proteas had suffered seven defeats in World Cup semi-finals, in both T20 and 50-over formats, and will be playing in the title game for the first time.

Markram says that far from being consumed by past shortcomings, his team has shown throughout the tournament, where they have been unbeaten, a powerful desire.

"There's a really strong will to win, I don't think it's on the level of desperation though but it's an extreme hunger to win games of cricket," he told a press conference on Friday.

His team may not be conditioned by the defeats of the past but, says Markram, they are certainly motivated by them.

"We haven't achieved ideally on the world stage what we would have liked to and I think that gets the juices going a bit for the boys to finally achieve it and try to achieve it at least," he said.

As well as some convincing wins, South Africa have edged victories in close encounters with Bangladesh, Nepal and England and those performances, says Markram showed his team's mental strength.

"I think you've seen it in the close results, we've probably not played some of our best cricket in certain games but that ultimately sort of drives you to go out and get the job done," he said.

"That's probably one thing that's really stood out for me in this group, you win those close games and take a lot of belief moving forward that sort of from any position you feel like you can still win the game," he said.

It has been a real team effort from South Africa with Quinton de Kock their top scorer with 204 runs at an average of 25.50 and David Miller adding 148 at 29.60.

The wickets have also been spread around with Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi all having double figures wicket tallies.

That hunger of the collective remains, says the Proteas skipper, despite the joy of ending the run of seven semi-final losses.

"We were obviously a happy bunch the other night after qualifying for the final but it's amazing, I'm sure all teams do it, but straight after that game in the changing room, you still reflect and you say, guys we've still got one more step to go," he said.

"It's not driven by coach or by captain, the whole unit sort of feels that and is driven by that. As a general rule, sportsmen are highly competitive people and nobody would want to lose in a situation of a final so I think there's no sense that the guys are satisfied regardless of the result. I think there's still a massive hunger for us to go out and win Saturday's game," he added.


India and South Africa to clash in T20 World Cup final on Saturday

June 28, 2024 10:48 AM

Unbeaten throughout almost a month of cricket across the USA and the Caribbean, India and South Africa will face off at the Kensington Oval on Saturday in the T20 World Cup final both looking to end long waits for glory.

A tournament which has been a mixed bag in terms of quality, entertainment and attendances, has certainly succeeded in setting up a final between the two best teams in the shortest format.

India crushed defending champions England by 68 runs in Guyana on Thursday, the day after South Africa thrashed Afghanistan by nine wickets in Trinidad to end a long and agonising wait for a title game.

This will be South Africa's first senior men's final since the inaugural Champions Trophy in Bangladesh in 1998 when the Proteas beat the West Indies in the title match.

Over the years they have been labelled 'chokers' by their critics and had many question how a nation that has produced so many talented players, hasn't been able to make a final for 26 years.

Skipper Aiden Markram was part of the team which were beaten by Australia in the ODI World Cup last year but says the players haven't reflected much on the years of near-misses and disappointments.

"We haven't spoken about it to be honest. I think it's a personal and individual motivation that you get to a final; to earn the opportunity to hopefully lift the trophy," he said after the win over the Afghans.

"So you reflect back to five months ago we couldn't get over the line in that semi-final and you look at (here) a few things went our way. We managed to win the game and we found ourselves in the final."

Certainly there has been no hint that South Africa have lacked belief in this tournament -- they topped group D with a 100% record including wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Then in the Super Eights, they won all three games with victories over England and co-hosts West Indies and the USA.

Rohit Sharma says struggling Virat Kohli 'saving it for the final'

June 28, 2024 10:47 AM

India captain Rohit Sharma suggested fellow star batsman Virat Kohli's run-drought could well end in the T20 World Cup final against South Africa after his opening partner fell cheaply once again on Thursday.

Kohli's run of low scores at the tournament continued when he was dismissed for just nine in a semi-final win against defending champions England in Guyana.

He pulled Reece Topley for six but two balls later the left-arm paceman bowled Kohli as he knocked over the leg stump.

Former captain Kohli, 35, has now scored just 75 runs in seven innings this tournament at an average of 10.71.

But Rohit was convinced it would not be long before Kohli, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation, was back to his best.

"Virat is a quality player," he said. "Any player can go through that. We understand his class. When you have played for 15 years, form is never a problem. He's probably saving it for the final."

Rohit, by contrast, has scored 248 runs, including three fifties, at an average of over 41 at the tournament.

And on Thursday his 57 -- which followed a blistering 92 against Australia last time out -- was the cornerstone of India's 171-7.

That total proved far too many for England as India won by 68 runs after the title-holders collapsed to 103 all out, with spinners Kuldeep Yadav (3-19) and Axar Patel (3-23) doing the bulk of the damage.

India will now face South Africa in Saturday's final in Barbados, with the match at the Kensington Oval a clash of the tournament's two unbeaten teams.

Low-profile Rob Walter leads South Africa to promised land of World Cup final

June 28, 2024 10:46 AM

After years of high-profile coaches, it is the relatively unknown Rob Walter who stands on the brink of South African cricket history as he prepares his side for their first-ever World Cup final.

The Proteas booked their place in the T20 final with a brutal defenestration of Afghanistan and will now face India in Barbados on Saturday.

Walter is the antithesis of that 'high profile' coach -- he was never a star player, he stays resolutely grounded in interviews and if he is prone to outbursts of raw emotion he does not put them on public display.

Just one journalist attended his press conference for that semi-final.

The previous 12 South African white-ball coaches include such storied names as Mike Procter, Bob Woolmer and Mark Boucher and yet it is the 48-year-old Walter who has succeeded in shaking off the "choker" tag that dogged a side that could reach semi-finals but no further.

Walter said he believed the team had already overcome their biggest psychological hurdle.

“Getting through the semi-final, not having done that before, came with its own pressure," he told AFP.

"Even against the West Indies (in a crucial Super Eight match), that was effectively a quarter-final.

"Now that they've done that I'm just hoping the guys will go out, play freely and express themselves."

If they do that successfully it will be a significant triumph for Walter, whose playing career peaked at schoolboy provincial level and who had only been involved in coaching at age group level before becoming South Africa's strength and conditioning coach in 2009, a position he held in 2013.

The recommendation of previous national coach Gary Kirsten helped Walter land a job as head coach of the Titans, South Africa’s most successful franchise.

South Africa defeat Afghanistan by nine wickets to reach T20 World Cup final

June 27, 2024 08:26 AM

South Africa thrashed Afghanistan by nine wickets to reach the final of the T20 Cricket World Cup for the first time on Wednesday.

After skittling Afghanistan for 56 at Trinidad's Brian Lara Stadium, the Proteas cruised to their victory target, finishing on 60-1.

South Africa's left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (3 for 6) and pacer Marco Jansen (3-16) spearheaded the demolition of a suspect Afghanistan batting line-up for just 56 off 11.5 overs after they chose to bat.

India 'always under pressure' to end World Cup drought, says Rohit

June 27, 2024 08:22 AM

India captain Rohit Sharma admitted Wednesday his team is "always under pressure" to end a world title drought which has now stretched to over a decade.

India tackle defending champions England in the second semi-final of the T20 World Cup on Thursday.

The cricket superpower won the inaugural edition in 2007 and were runners-up in 2014.

Their last 50-over World Cup triumph, meanwhile, came on home soil in 2011.

When the tournament returned to India in 2023, Rohit's side were comfortably defeated by Australia in the final despite having won all 10 games on their way to the championship match.

Polarising Warner bows out with Australia T20 World Cup exit

June 25, 2024 03:09 PM

David Warner's 15-year international career came to an anti-climactic end on Tuesday as Australia were dumped out of the T20 World Cup in excruciating fashion.

Australia and Warner could only watch on powerless as Afghanistan instead reached the semi-finals by beating Bangladesh by a nail-biting eight runs.

Australia's fate had hung in the balance after India defeated them by 24 runs in St. Lucia on a day of high drama.

The 37-year-old opening batsman Warner had always said the World Cup in the United States and Caribbean would be his farewell to international cricket.

He couldn't have imagined going out quite like this.

The combative Warner stood tall at the top of the Australian order ever since his international debut in January 2009, and as opening partners came and went.

He hangs up his pads as arguably Australia's greatest three-format player. He is the country's leading run-scorer in T20 cricket with 3,277 from 110 games.

Warner exited a glittering 112-Test career in January after plundering 8,786 runs at an average of 44.60, with a strike rate of 70.19. His one-day exploits were equally impressive, crunching 6,932 runs from 161 matches.

Warner was also one of the most consistent slip fielders in the game, whose name was among the first on the team sheet.

"He is probably our greatest-ever three-format player. He'll be a loss," Australia coach Andrew McDonald said recently.

"Other people have been gunning for him for a period of time, but for us internally, we've seen the great value and what he brings to the table, hence why we've kept picking him."

Afghanistan qualify for T20 World Cup semis, eliminate Australia

June 25, 2024 01:19 PM

Afghanistan advanced to their first-ever senior world tournament semi-final with a nerve-jangling eight-run victory over Bangladesh at the T20 World Cup on Monday that eliminated mighty Australia.

Amid excruciating tension at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent, Afghan captain Rashid Khan and seamer Naveen ul Haq were the heroes as Afghanistan battled through three rain stoppages to secure a famous victory under the DLS scoring method that was sealed after 1am local time.

Defending a modest total of 115-5 on a bowler-friendly surface, Rashid finished with figures of 4-23 while Naveen took 4-26 as Bangladesh were dismissed for 105, chasing a revised target of 114 off 19 overs.

An unbeaten 54 from Bangladesh opener Litton Das (49 balls, five fours, one six) threatened to deny Afghanistan's fairytale win and earn Australia the last semi-final spot.

But pacer Naveen claimed the last two wickets – Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman – off consecutive deliveries to trigger delirious Afghan celebrations and leave a disconsolate Das stranded at the non-striker’s end.

"We have worked so hard over the past few years and we were dreaming of this day. It’s a surreal experience," said a relieved but delighted "Man of the Match" Naveen.

"We always knew they were going to be coming hard at us to try to get the target in 12.1 overs but we stuck to the task and kept getting wickets."


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