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Ferguson’s incredible 4-4-0-3 helps NZ exit T20 World Cup on a high



New Zealand signed off a disappointing T20 World Cup 2024 campaign with a dominant win over Papua New Guinea, chasing down a paltry target of 79 with seven wickets and 46 balls to spare at the Brian Lara Stadium, in Tarouba.

The scale of the mismatch was characterised by Lockie Ferguson’s figures of 3 for 0 from his four overs. The New Zealand speedster became only the second bowler to bowl four maidens in a T20I fixture after Canada captain Saad Bin Zafar achieved the feat in 2021 when he returned 2 for 0 against Panama.

While Ferguson was sharp and accurate, the moisture in the pitch and what remained in the air from the morning showers that delayed the toss by an hour made it a tough ask for PNG’s batters. The weather was a primary reason Kane Williamson inserted the opposition upon winning the toss, who in turn were 16 for 2 after the powerplay.

Charles Amini’s 17, the highest score of the innings, came in the most productive stand – 27 for the third wicket with Sese Bau – before he was pinned lbw for Ferguson’s second of the innings.

Trent Boult, playing in his last T20 World Cup match,  went on to pocket two wickets when he returned to bowl his final two overs at the death. Ish Sodhi, replacing Jimmy Neesham in the XI for his first match of the competition, also picked up a brace, taking the final PNG wickets in the 20th over as they were bowled out with two balls left in their innings.

But PNG were not about to bow out without a fight.Kabua Morea returning to the XI after playing the opener against West Indies, removed Finn Allen, caught behind, off the second delivery of New Zealand’s innings. He then pocketed Rachin Ravindra when the left-hander tried and failed to lift beyond deep midwicket at the start of the fifth over.

Further excitement on the field came when Semo Kamea trapped Devon Conway on the crease. His 35 – which included two fours and three sixes – had, however, taken the sting out of the chase. Conway and Williamson added 34 runs for the third wicket – New Zealand’s highest partnership of the tournament.

Williamson and Daryl Mitchell then completed the formalities, scoring the remaining 25 runs from 18 balls to earn New Zealand their second win, consigning PNG to a fourth defeat.

It began with a wicket: extra pace across Assad Vala that enticed a drive. There was even a bit of extra bounce which only served to make Mitchell’s catch at a wide first slip that little bit tougher. From that point on, Ferguson was locked in.

Did he know a place in the record books was in the offing? Probably not. But the movement through the air and off the deck, not to mention the high pace that was always going to ask unanswerable questions to a limited PNG batting line-up, meant Ferguson was likely to emerge with extraordinary figures.

The 33-year-old was primarily over the wicket to the left-handed Bau, who entered the fray upon Vala’s dismissal. Having switched to over the wicket midway through his second over (the seventh), Ferguson returned for the 12th from that angle and was immediately rewarded with a delivery into Amini’s pads that skidded on with the angle so sharply it was initially given not out on the field.

DRS corrected that error before Ferguson took matters into his own hands by hitting Chad Soper’s stumps for his third. Then came two leg byes down to deep third – which did not count against the bowler – and the final three deliveries, which were counted down by those in the commentary box, now fully invested in witnessing history. Kiplin Doriga’s mistimed pull almost broke the streak – though it also could have resulted in a catch at mid-off – before the right-hander charged Ferguson’s final delivery to no avail.

Ferguson looked a little sheepish as his team-mates filed over to congratulate him. Nevertheless, a forgettable T20 World Cup now has a memorable side note.

As valiant as PNG’s displays have been at their second T20 World Cup, there is good reason to look at their batting and wonder what might have been. Particularly when Allen and Ravindra were snared early.

Signing off with a score of 78, following totals of 95 against Afghanistan and 77 versus Uganda, highlights the limitations of their batters. Even the 136 for 8 against West Indies looked light at the halfway stage, having faced 55 dot balls when setting that evening in Guyana.

Even discounting the 23 scoreless deliveries off Ferguson, they failed to find a run from the 58 balls delivered by the rest of the New Zealand attack. Conditions were not kind to batters throughout, particularly those taking guard against the new ball duo of Boult and Tim Southee on a new track with variable bounce, but more intent could have been shown.

Particularly against Mitchell Santner. The left-arm spinner floated plenty up but conceded just one boundary. Perhaps spooked by Bau lifting Santner into the hands of long on, it took until Santner’s final delivery for someone to land one on him, as Doriga smeared a sweep shot to midwicket for four.

Of course, this match does not really qualify as a missed opportunity given New Zealand’s undoubted superiority. But it did serve as a reminder of the shortcomings that cost them victory against Uganda and allowed West Indies off the hook.

It was 15 days between appearances at this T20 World Cup for Morea. The left-arm seamer started against West Indies, arriving into the match with the expectation he would be a crutch for the attack over the coming fortnight. He ended up with figures of 0 for 30 from three overs, the last of which went for 13 as Roston Chase profited off a couple of full tosses to take the hosts over the line with an over to spare

Morea spent the next two matches on the sidelines as PNG opted for a more spin-heavy attack. Conditions dictated as much, but Morea would have every reason to consider himself an unfortunate casualty of this shift having been the side’s leading wicket-taker at the 2021 edition.

But here in Tarouba, he seized the opportunity to leave the World Cup on something of a high, returning home with figures of 2 for 4 from 2.2 overs. Allen’s hot-headed hack gave him a wicket with the second ball. And having tied Ravindra down for the rest of that first over, the Kiwi No.3 greeted his reintroduction for the fifth over with a desperate charge and swipe that nestled into the hands of Kamea in the deep.

It was at this point that the rain made a return. New Zealand were 20 for 2, level with the five-over par score, which they passed when Williamson punched a single off his first ball. It was the only run off the over, with Morea boasting figures of 2 for 2 from his first two overs. As it turned out the rain did not stop play, either. While not as headline-grabbing as Ferguson’s exploits, Morea’s 11 dots against an engaging and far more equipped New Zealand batting line-up were equally impressive.

Brief scores:
New Zealand 79 for 3 in 12.2 overs (Devon Conway 35, Daryl Mitchell 12*, Kane Williamson 18; Kabua Morea 2-04, Semo Kamea 1-23) beat  Papua New Guinea 78 in 19.4 overs  (Charles Amini 17;  Lockie Ferguson 3-00, Tim Southee 2-11, Trent Boult 2-14, Ish Sodhi 2-29, Mitchell Sntner 1-17) by seven wickets


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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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US space agency NASA releases Webb telescope photos of entwined galaxies




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.


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