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Suryakumar and Arshdeep the architects of hard-fought India win



Arshdeep Singh returned his best T20I figures [Cricinfo]

USA had several things going against them.

The conditions: Before today, they’d never played at Nassau County Stadium; this was India’s fourth game at the venue.

Personnel: Monank Patel, the designated captain, was out injured.

The toss: Rohit Sharma called correctly and asked USA to bat in seaming conditions.

Experience: A motley crew with day jobs against cricketing royalty.

It had all the makings of a one-sided fare. Except, it was anything but.

At one stage, with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma both dismissed by Saurabh Netravalkar and India 15 for 2 in the chase of 111, USA dared to dream.

When Rishabh Pant was castled by Ali Khan, thirty-thousand screaming fans, many of them Indian-Americans, gave more wings to those dreams.

This was now USA’s game to lose.

But in Suriyakumar Yadav, India had a crisis man who bailed them out of choppy waters. He was helped along by Shivam Dube during the course of a half-century stand that proved to be a game-changer.

India are now through to the Super Eights, but USA are still very much masters of their own fate; a win over Ireland, even a washout will see them through, ahead of Pakistan whom they famously beat in a Super Over thriller last week.

USA were bowling cutters into the pitch. Suryakumar was struggling to hit the ball off the square, and was trying to manufacture strokes. Most times, it comes off. Here, it wasn’t.

An over after nearly getting bowled trying to sweep Corey Anderson off his length, he tried to open the bat face to play his trademark loft, only to slice the ball high. Saurabh Netravalkar circled under it after doing exceedingly well to get to the ball running back from short third, but couldn’t hold on to the chance.  The superhero who could not put a foot wrong until then was human, after all.

The ball that felled Kohli in the first over was a dream delivery. The batter nicking off with a perfect away-going delivery that had him jabbing. It was only Kohli’s second golden duck in T20Is.

The ball that got Rohit was somewhat similar. Except it was a lot closer to the stumps and had Rohit turning the face of the bat to take the leading edge. At mid-off, Harmeet Singh, Rohit’s school junior by a few years, ran back and held on.

India were shell-shocked at 15 for 2, which soon became 44 for 3 when Rishabh Pant was out to one that skidded low and through his defence.

It was almost as if the reprieve of Suryakumar deflated USA.  Suddenly, Aaron Jones was switching fields every ball, running up to have a chat between deliveries, all of it playing into the hands of the batters. Twice, USA were warned about delaying the game by not beginning their next over within their 60-second allowance. When they erred for a third time, the umpires awarded five penalty runs to India.

From 35 off 30, India now needed a run-a-ball 30. It didn’t matter then that Dube had at one point been struggling on 5 off 14, or that Suryakumar was far from his 360-degree mode.

In the 17th over, India truly broke the stranglehold when Suryakumar picked Shadley van Schalkwyk’s medium pace for a lofted six over extra cover and a trademark flick over his shoulder for four off back-to-back deliveries.

Off the first ball of the 19th, he got to a 49-ball half-century. The winning runs were hit one legitimate delivery later when Dube dug out a yorker-length delivery to long-off. It could have so easily been another knock that had Dube’s self-doubts spiralling, but that he dug in to remain unbeaten on 31 in what was a hard scrap should give him lot of confidence.

The day began with a two-wicket opening over in which Arshdeep Singh swung the ball back in. Shayan Jahangir, replacing Monank Patel, was out lbw, and Andries Gous picked out mid-off attempting to pull a skiddy short ball.

It wasn’t until Nitish Kumar and Corey Anderson added 25 off 18 heading into the final overs that USA had some injection of momentum that gave them a chance of getting towards 120.

However, overs 16-18 scuppered those plans. Hardik bowled a wicket-maiden in the 17th, dismissing Anderson for his second wicket, and Arshdeep had Harmeet Singh – who had top-edged Bumrah for a six to get off the mark – caught behind.

USA ended up with 110, which they’d look back at and wonder what could’ve been had they only got 10 more.

Brief scores:
India 111 for 3 in 18.2 overs (Suryakumar  Yadav 50*, Shivam Dube 31*; Saurabh Netravalkar 2-18, Ali Khan 1-21) beat  USA 110 for 8 in 20 overs (Nitish Kumar 27, Steven Taylor 24;  Arshdeep Singh  4-09, Hardik Pandya 2-14, Axar Patel 1-25) 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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