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Bangladesh, Netherlands hope for batting boost in Kingstown



Bangladesh will hope they can bounce back quickly from a what-might-have-been result against South Africa [Cricinfo]

Netherlands will hunt for their first big fish (Full Members side) when they take on Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup‘s newest venue in Kingstown, St Vincent. It is a fresh pitch where competitive cricket hasn’t been played for a while now. Both sets of batters, battered and bruised in New York, will look forward to a better experience.

Bangladesh endured a hectic travel schedule after their South Africa game in New York, with their chartered flight out delayed by five hours. They arrived early Tuesday morning in their Kingstown hotel, and cancelled training on that day.

Coupled with the travel stress, Bangladesh are dealing with heartbreak of a close defeat to South Africa. Their inability to put away Keshav Maharaj’s full-tosses in the final over cost them the game. Bangladesh have had trouble closing off T20I chases over the last eight years, and on Monday, Mahmudullah and Jaker Ali, reputed big hitters, could not find a boundary in the last three overs of their chase.

Their top order batting has also been worrying. Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto opened with Tanzid Hasan against South Africa, with Soumya Sarkar left out, but neither opening pair has managed a double-digit stand yet in this tournament. Litton Das showed a bit of form against Sri Lanka but gave it away cheaply against South Africa. Only Towhid Hridoy and Mahmudullah have shown batting form, while it has mostly been the bowling attack that has kept Bangladesh afloat.

Netherlands will have their hands full against Tanzim Hasan Sakib and Taskin Ahmed with the new ball, before Mustafizur Rahman and Rishad Hossain go at them in the middle overs. The pace trio has done well in the death overs too, and among the spin-bowling allrounders Mahmudullah has been mostly economical while Shakib Al Hasan, despite a poor start to the tournament, can never be counted out.

Netherlands themselves have bowled brilliantly in the T20 World Cup, beating Nepal in Dallas and pushing South Africa close in New York. Logan van Beek, Bas de Leede and Tim Pringle have bowled well in partnerships alongside Vivian Kingma and Paul van Meekeren.

Like Bangladesh, they too have batting problems. Max O’Dowd has made their only half-century so far, while the rest of the batters haven’t taken off, particularly Michael Levitt who was their form player leading up to the T20 World Cup.

This could be a tense scrap in Kingstown, with the result coming down to which bowling attack can better dominate on the day.

Taskin Ahmed has performed admirably as the attack leader. He has taken the big wickets of Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, Kusal Mendis and Dasun Shanaka in Bangladesh’s two games, while going at just 5.50 per over. It is still early days but if he can keep getting the ball to shape and maintain his overall fitness, Taskin could end as one of the top bowlers of the tournament.

Logan van Beek has already bowled arguably the ball of the tournament. His delivery to Reeza Hendricks in New York pitched on middle and off, squared up the batter, and flicked the off bail as van Beek flew into a celebratory run. He has been Netherlands’ best bowler in their two matches so far, picking up five wickets. Accuracy is van Beek’s hallmark, regardless of whether he is bowling with an upright or wobbly seam.

Bangladesh are still unsure about their top and lower middle order. Soumya Sarkar and Mahedi Hasan are among their batting options if they are looking for another change.

Bangladesh (probable): Tanzid Hasan,  Najmul Hosain Shanto (capt),  Litton Das (wk),  Shakib Al Hasan,  Towhid Hridoy,  Mahmudullah,  Jaker Ali,  Rishad Hossain,  Tanzim Hasan,  Taskin Ahmed  Mustafizur Rahman.

Barring last-minute injuries, Netherlands are likely to continue with the same XI.

Netherlands (probable): Michael Levitt, Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh,  Sybrand Engelbrecht,  Bas de Leede,  Scott Edwards (capt & wk),  Teja Nidamanuru,  Logan van Beek,  Tim Pringle,  Paul van Meekeren,  Vivian Kingma.


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Djokovic sets up Alcaraz rematch in Wimbledon final




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




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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Junior National Athletics Championship commences today



The spotlight will fall on the Under 20 age category when the Junior National Athletics Championship commences at Diyagama today as the four-day championship will be the final opportunity to qualify for the World Junior Championships.

Six athletes have already reached entry standards for the world event to be held in Lima, Peru in August.

Sri Lanka Athletics has spelt out the plan to form a team for the costly tour also leaving a space for those athletes who excel in the Under 18 age category. The World Junior Championship is open to Under 20 age category.

The day one programme includes at least ten events in the Under 20 age category.

However, it is not only the athletes in the Under 20 age category that will compete for honours.

The event will be vital for athletes in the Under 16, Under 18 and Under 23 age categories as well.

The Junior National Athletics Championship was earlier scheduled for June but inclement weather forced Sri Lanka Athletics to postpone the event to July. This postponement has affected athletes of some areas as some zonal championships commence during the Junior National.

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