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Afghanistan storm into Super Eight; New Zealand knocked out

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Fazalhaq Farooqi was named the Player of the Match for his 3 for 16 [ICC]

Afghanistan booked their place in Super Eight, thereby knocking New Zealand out of men’s T20 World Cup 2024 after a seven-wicket win over PNG in Tarouba.

Their win was set up by new-ball spells from fast bowlers Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul Haq that saw PNG lose five wickets inside the powerplay. A total of four run-outs did not help PNG’s cause either as they were dismissed for 95.

Afghanistan romped home with 29 balls to spare with Gulbadin Naib staying unbeaten on 49. The result meant that for the first time since 2014, New Zealand bowed out before the semi-final stage of a men’s World Cup – ODI or T20.

With six points and a net run rate of 4.230, Afghanistan lead Group C.

A target of 96 would not have worried Afghanistan. Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran had added century stands for the opening wicket in each of their first two games. Gurbaz had struck fifties in those outings. As a result, the middle order had barely had time in the middle. On Thursday, Afghanistan’s worst fears nearly came true.

Semo Kamea brought in for vice-captain Charles Amini, almost struck first ball when Ibrahim was ruled out lbw. He used the DRS to his benefit but lost his stumps three balls later while trying to attack an inswinger from Kamea. In the next over, fast bowler Alei Neo knocked over Gurbaz, who also charged down to heave one across the line. PNG could have put even more pressure on Afghanistan had wicketkeeper Kiplin Doriga hung on to Naib’s outside edge in the fifth over.

PNG were left to rue those chances on a surface with dry grass, which, as Daren Ganga had said in his pitch report, contributed to variable bounce. The proof was in Azmatullah Omarzai’s dismissal when a length ball from Norman Vanua barely got up and bowled him.

But Naib, in the company of Mohammad Nabi, countered the conditions to ensure Afghanistan faced no further hiccups.

PNG made almost the right start after being sent in. A double through fine leg, a single through point, a cut shot for four – they were ticking along without any risk. But it all went south when captain Assad Vala was run out in the second over. Going for the third run, his bat was in the air at the non-striker’s end when Gurbaz nailed a direct hit at the bowler’s end. Had Vala slid his bat, he would have been safe.

Farooqi then did what he does best: flummox batters with swing. He had Lega Siaka caught behind by Gurbaz diving full length to his right and then, on the next ball, Sese Bau also nicked one behind.

When Naveen got Hiri Hiri to chop one onto his stumps on the first ball of the fourth over, PNG had lost four wickets in nine balls. Batting first on a used surface that hosted the West Indies-New Zealand clash just 24 hours ago, that was handing over advantage on a platter.

When Naveen crashed through Tony Ura for his 50th T20I wicket, PNG were reduced to 30 for 5. PNG needed to bat a few overs safely at that point, and Chad Soper and Doriga did that for 24 balls while scoring 16 runs. But in the tenth over, both were guilty of ball-watching, which resulted in Soper being run out.

Doriga then used the slog sweep and sweep to rotate strike against Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad. Neo punished the seamers when they bowled on his pads. The pair was effective without being enterprising and added 38 off 34 balls.

Once Doriga was done in by a wrong’un from Noor to be trapped lbw, PNG lost their last three wickets for just seven runs.

Brief scores:
Afghanistan 101 for 3 in 15.1 overs  (Gulbadin Naib 49*; Alei Neo 1-26, Semo  Kamea 1-16, Norman Vanua 1-18) beat Papua New Guinea 95 in 19.5 overs (Kiplin Doriga 27; Fazalhaq Farooqi 3-16, Naveen Ul-Haq 2-04, Noor Ahmad 1-14) by seven wickets

[Cricinfo]



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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final

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Novak Djokovic is trying to match Roger Federer's total of eight Wimbledon titles [BBC]

Novak Djokovic outclassed Italian underdog Lorenzo Musetti to reach the Wimbledon final and set up a showdown with reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 37-year-old impressed as he stayed on course for a record-equalling eighth men’s singles title at Wimbledon with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Musetti, 22, had one chance to get the break back in the final set but sent a forehand into the net and crouched down with his head in his hands, knowing the end was near.  Djokovic made sure his opponent did not get another opportunity.

Under pressure, Musetti sent a shot long before Djokovic walked to the net, knowing he had reached his 37th Grand Slam final and 10th at Wimbledon.

The Serb then moved his racquet over his shoulder and imitated playing a violin, in a gesture aimed at his six-year-old daughter Tara, with television cameras showing her grinning along.

Some fans, however, started booing, thinking Djokovic, who produced the same celebration following his win over Holger Rune in the last 16, was being disrespectful.

Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s showpiece, winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in a five-set epic, which lasted four hours 42 minutes and is regarded one of the best matches in the tournament’s history.

The pair meet again on Sunday in what could be another amazing chapter in Wimbledon folklore.

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Top ICC official Chris Tetley and Claire Furlong resign

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There was a lot of scrutiny of the matches in the US leg of the World Cup, particularly the games held in New York

A couple of senior officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), who were closely involved in organizing the Twenty20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies, have resigned. On Friday, it came to light that Chris Tetley, the ICC’s Head of Events, and Claire Furlong, the General Manager of Marketing and Communications, have announced their departures from the organization.

The resignations, coming as they did immediately after the conclusion of the World Cup and just about a week ahead of the ICC’s annual conference in Colombo, are believed to be related to the conduct of the championship. However, ICC insiders say the resignations are several months old.

One particular source has claimed that both Tetley and Furlong decided to leave the world body at the end of the last commercial cycle itself but stayed on in view of the Twenty20 World Cup in the US. The source went on to add that the two quit quite some time back but will continue to be with the ICC for a few more months ‘to ensure smooth transition of charge in a crowded event cycle.’ They will also attend the Annual Conference in Colombo from July 19 to 22.

The World Cup in the US, and particularly in New York, was a major project of the ICC and the two officials were closely involved in it. Many members of the ICC were priming to raise the issue of the New York games, which were low-scoring affairs due to the ‘up and down’ nature of the drop-in pitches at the NY stadium, at the Colombo conclave. A key member of the ICC board is learnt to have raised the issue through a letter to the members.

The number of fours and sixes, which are generally expected to be high in numbers in the Twenty20 games, was significantly low in the New York games. The Indian team, the eventual champions, however, did not comment on the nature of the pitches, stating that the conditions were equal for all the participating teams.

The matches in the US were conducted by an entity called T20 World Cup Inc which had built a modular stadium in the Nassau County of New York’s Long Island in record time. The stadium was dismantled immediately after the NY leg of the championship. NY hosted eight of the 16 games allotted to the US.

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US space agency NASA releases Webb telescope photos of entwined galaxies

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In this photo provided by NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute, two interacting galaxies are captured by the Webb Space Telescope in the infrared. Scientists say the neighnouring galaxies, nicknamed Penguin, right, and the Egg, left, have been tangled up for tens of millions of years

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released photos from the James Webb Space Telescope showing a pair of entangled galaxies.

The space agency released a photo of the two galaxies — one named Penguin and the other Egg — on Friday, marking the two-year anniversary of Webb’s activities capturing images of space.

“In just two years, Webb has transformed our view of the universe, enabling the kind of world-class science that drove NASA to make this mission a reality,” said Mark Clampin, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA, said in a news release.

“Webb is providing insights into longstanding mysteries about the early universe and ushering in a new era of studying distant worlds, while returning images that inspire people around the world and posing exciting new questions to answer. It has never been more possible to explore every facet of the universe.”

NASA says that the two galaxies — about 326 million light-years away — have been wrapped up with each other for tens of millions of years. One light year, a reference to distance rather than time, is about 5.8 trillion miles.

The Webb Telescope, which specialises in capturing infrared light, is considered the successor to the famous Hubble Space Telescope and has helped bring about a series of discoveries and ae-inspiring images from space over the last two years.

The cosmic dance between the two galaxies was set in motion between 25 and 75 million years ago, according to a news release from NASA.

“They will go on to shimmy and sway, completing several additional loops before merging into a single galaxy hundreds of millions of years from now,” it reads.

[Aljazeera]

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