Monday, January 15, 2018

ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP QUALIFIER 2018






ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP QUALIFIER 2018 SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

·        Hosts Zimbabwe to feature on the opening day on 4 March in Bulawayo; Windies to start campaign in Harare on 6 March

·        10 teams to fight out for two available places in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which is now 500 days away

·        Netherlands plus three highest finishing Associate Member sides to earn ODI status till 2022

Two-time world champions the Windies will be the star attraction when 10 sides converge on Zimbabwe next month for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, to battle it out for the two remaining places in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. The announcement marks 500 days to the ICC's pinnacle 50-over tournament, which will be staged in the United Kingdom from 30 May to 15 July.

Queen's Sports Club and Bulawayo Athletic Club in Bulawayo, Harare Sports Club and Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare and Kwekwe Sports Club, Kwekwe, will share 34 matches between them from 4 to 25 March, with Harare Sports Club staging the final.
The Windies, along with Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe, had missed out on automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by finishing outside the top eight on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings at the 30 September 2017 cut-off date. These four sides have been joined by Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Scotland and Papua New Guinea, who finished in the top four of the ICC World Cricket League Championship.

The remaining two sides for the Zimbabwe tournament will be confirmed in Namibia from 8-15 February when Canada, Kenya, Namibia, Nepal, Oman and the United Arab Emirates will fight it out in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2, with the finalists getting a step closer to cherishing their dreams of playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup.

Eighty-three teams had embarked on the road to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 way back in 2013 through the ICC World Cricket League, introduced to give the teams outside the top 12 meaningful competition as part of the World Cup qualification.

The 10 teams taking part in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 are split into two groups of five teams. The Windies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and winners of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 make up Group A, while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and runners-up of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 form Group B.

Each side will play the other teams in their group once with the top three from the groups progressing to the Super Six stage. The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage. All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group.

The finalists will both progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, whilst the Netherlands (ICC World Cricket League Championship winners) and the three highest finishing Associate Members will earn ODI status till 2022 upon the conclusion of the event.

As such, only matches between Afghanistan, Ireland, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, the Windies, Zimbabwe and potentially the United Arab Emirates (if they qualify) will have ODI status in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018.

Hosts Zimbabwe will feature on the opening day of the tournament on 4 March when they will take on the runners-up from the Namibia tournament at the Queen's Sports Club, Bulawayo, while the Windies will square-off against the winners of the Namibia tournament on 6 March at Old Hararians Cricket Club in Harare.

Scotland will defend the title they had won at Bert Sutcliffe, Lincoln, New Zealand, in February 2014 when they defeated the United Arab Emirates by 41 runs. Preston Mommsen had won the player of the final for his unbeaten 139.

Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani: "We are tremendously excited to be hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 event which will bring some of the world's most talented and gifted cricketers to our beautiful country. As the very proud hosts, we are very passionate about what we do on and off the field and we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure we deliver an extraordinarily memorable tournament.

"While the ultimate goal for the teams involved will be to secure one of the two remaining berths at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, tournaments such as the qualifier event always provide the platform for raw talent and unheralded players to emerge and this can only put the game of cricket in good stead."

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: "This will undoubtedly be a competitive and hard fought tournament with two tickets for the ICC Cricket World Cup up for grabs as well as ODI status. Seeing four Full Member sides up against our best Associate Member teams who have progressed through qualification will make for some exciting cricket.

"This is the conclusion of a four-year qualification process that began with regional events and progressed through to the global World Cricket League. There is a huge amount at stake for all ten teams battling it out for the remaining two spots at the ICC Cricket World Cup."

Groups:

Group A: Windies (A1); Ireland (A2); Netherlands (A3); Papua New Guinea (A4); ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (WCL Div.2) winner (A5)
Group B: Afghanistan (B1); Zimbabwe (B2); Scotland (B3); Hong Kong (B4); ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (WCL Div.2) runners-up (B5)

Fixtures (warm-up matches):

Tuesday, 27 February – Afghanistan v Windies, Harare Sports Club (HSC); Hong Kong v Netherlands, Old Hararians (OH); WCL Div.2 (winner) v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Kwekwe (KK); Zimbabwe v Ireland, Queen's Sports Club (QSC); Scotland v PNG, Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC)
Thursday, 1 March – WCL Div.2 (winners) v Windies, Harare Sports Club (HSC); Afghanistan v Netherlands, Old Hararians (OH); Hong Kong v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Kwekwe (KK); Scotland v Ireland, Queen's Sports Club (QSC); Zimbabwe v PNG, Bulawayo Athletic Club (BAC)

Tournament Proper (first round):

Sunday, 4 March – PNG v WCL Div.2 winner, HSC; Ireland v Netherlands, OH; Zimbabwe v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), Queens Sports Club (QSC); Afghanistan v Scotland, BAC
Tuesday, 6 March – PNG v Ireland, HSC; Windies v WCL Div.2 (winner), OH; Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, QSC; Scotland v Hong Kong, BAC
Thursday, 8 March – Netherlands v WCL Div.2 (winner), HSC; Windies v PNG, OH; Scotland v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), QSC; Afghanistan v Hong Kong, BAC
Saturday, 10 March – Windies v Ireland, HSC; PNG v Netherlands, OH; Zimbabwe v Hong Kong, QSC; Afghanistan v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), BAC
Monday, 12 March – Windies v Netherlands, HSC; Ireland v WCL Div.2 (winners), OH; Hong Kong v WCL Div.2 (runners-up), QSC; Zimbabwe v Scotland, BAC

Super Sixes

Thursday, 15 March – A1 v B1, HSC; A3 v B3, QSC; A5 v B4 (play-off), OH; A4 v B5 (play-off), KK
Friday, 16 March – A2 v B2, HSC
Saturday, 17 March – 9th/10th position play-off, OH; 7th/8th position play-off, KK
Sunday, 18 March – A2 v B3, HSC
Monday, 19 March – A1 v B2, HSC
Tuesday, 20 March – A3 v B1, HSC
Thursday, 22 March – A1 v B3, HSC; A3 v B2, OH
Friday, 23 March – A2 v B1, HSC
Sunday, 25 March – FINAL, HSC



ABOUT THE ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP QUALIFIER


·        The tournament was known as the ICC Trophy until 2005 and started in 1979

·        Four Test sides, Bangladesh (1997), Ireland (2009), Sri Lanka (1979), and Zimbabwe (1982, 1986 and 1990), have previously won the tournament. Other winners are the Netherlands (2001), Scotland (2005 and 2014) and United Arab Emirates (1994)

·        The Netherlands and Papua New Guinea are the only sides who have featured in all tournaments since 1979

·        For the 2018 event, the Windies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and winners of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 make up Group A, while Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Hong Kong and runners-up of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 form Group B.
 
·        Each side will play the other teams in their group once with the top three from the groups progressing to the Super Six stage.
 
·        The teams each play three Super Six matches against the sides they did not meet in the group stage. All points won in the groups will be carried over to the Super Six stage apart from those gained against the bottom two from each group.
 
·        The finalists will both progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, whilst the Netherlands (ICC World Cricket League Championship winners) and the three highest finishing associate Members will earn ODI status for the next four years till 2022.




Monday, January 8, 2018

MESSI WELCOMES PHIL TO BARCELONA ! ROLLS OUT THE RED CARPET FOR COUTINHO

The Argentine put on another super show as Ernesto Valverde's side returned to 4-3-3 and gave their new record signing a taste of what is to come.

Philippe Coutinho will have to wait for his Barcelona debut, but the Catalan club's record signing was given a glimpse of what is to come on Sunday.
The Brazilian completed a €160 million move to Barca from Liverpool on Saturday  and is expected to undergo a thorough medical examination on Monday, with a return to action later this month as he recovers from a minor injury.
The 25-year-old was not at Camp Nou as Barca beat Levante 3-0, but he will have been watching his new team on television - and he will have been impressed with what he saw.
Barca clicked quickly back into gear following the winter break, having rested most of their first-team players for the Copa del Rey clash away to Celta Vigo on Thursday night.
For this one, Ernesto Valverde picked a strong side, with Ousmane Dembele back in the line-up for his first start since September, alongside both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
It was Messi's link-up with Jordi Alba, an impressive feature of Barca's play this season, which brought the first goal as the Argentine attacker volleyed in off the post with a typically fine finish.

Messi broke the lines time and again with his passing, some of his deliveries delicious in their execution. He may be scoring at a slightly lower rate than in times gone by, but he is so complete these days and Coutinho must be purring at the prospect of playing alongside the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
A return to form for Suarez is also good news for Barca. The Uruguayan missed a clear chance in the first half as he smashed a shot onto the top of the bar when it appeared simpler to score, but later netted with an acrobatic effort to continue his recent improvement.
Suarez has now scored in six of his last seven league games for Barcelona (with eight goals in those matches), having only found the net in two of his previous seven. The South American striker, a former team-mate of Coutinho at Liverpool and also a friend of the Brazilian, looks likely to benefit from the arrival of Phil, as well as the return to 4-3-3 after Valverde's use of 4-4-2 while Dembele was out injured.

Dembele had his moments too and showed silky skills on occasions, while he also tested Levante's former Barca goalkeeper Oier Olazabal with a fierce drive from the edge of the area. At the age of 20, however, he is still not the finished article and will need time to reach his best after a lengthy layoff.


Coutinho is much more advanced at 25 and although he cannot play for Barca in the Champions League this season after already featuring for Liverpool in the competition, he will provide strength in depth and allow Valverde to rest Andres Iniesta in midfield in the second half of the campaign.
The Brazilian's arrival could also free Messi to spend more time further forward, just as he did on Sunday when he created havoc in the Levante area by evading several defenders before somehow managing to tee up Ivan Rakitic for a shot that sailed just wide.
And right at the end, more Messi magic in the box freed space for Paulinho to score a third as Barca picked up where they left off in La Liga following the winter break. The Blaugrana start 2018 in commanding form and Coutinho can only make them even stronger still.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Messi magic as FC Barcelona beat Deportivo Alaves to retain Copa del Rey - 3rd in 3 Years


FC Barcelona’s Copa del Rey triumph -- beating Deportivo Alaves -- means coach Luis Enrique could bow out after three seasons in charge with nine trophies against his name.


A Lionel Messi masterclass salvaged some silverware to end FC Barcelona’s season and gave coach Luis Enrique a victorious send-off as the Catalans retained the Copa del Rey with a 3-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring for FC Barcelona then helped tee up Neymar and Paco Alcacer to lead Barca to a record 29th Cup triumph after Theo Hernandez’s brilliant free-kick had briefly brought Deportivo Alaves level.
Victory means Enrique bows out after three seasons in charge with nine trophies to his name, including the Cup in every year of his reign.
However, once again it was Messi who inspired Barca to bounceback from the disappointment of losing their La Liga title to Real Madrid last weekend with a stunning individual display.
“He is the number one as he shows in his performances and it has been a true pleasure.”

Alaves boss Mauricio Pellegrino was equally in awe of the five-time World Player of the Year.
“He is an out of the ordinary player,” said Pellegrino.
“He has the ability to create goals as well as score them with the precision of his passing.”
Barca were without the suspended Luis Suarez and Sergi Roberto and Enrique was forced into another reshuffle just 11 minutes in as Javier Mascherano was forced off with a head injury.
Yet, while Barca’s depth has been much-criticised this season, Andre Gomes deputised ably at right-back after replacing Mascherano and Alcacer took his chance on a rare start on the big stage in Suarez’s absence.
In stark contrast to Barca’s glorious run of six finals in seven years, Alaves were appearing in Spanish football’s showpiece for the first time.
The Basques were roared on by the more enthusiastic support at a far from full Vicente Calderon in its last competitive fixture before Atletico Madrid move home next season.
And Alaves were left wondering what might have been had they gone ahead when Ibai Gomez’s effort came back off the post, ricocheted off the back of Barca ‘keeper Jasper Cillessen but somehow squirmed along the goal line and not into the net on 27 minutes.
Three minutes later Messi kicked off a thrilling four-goal spell in the final 15 minutes of the half as he exchanged passes with Neymar before curling his 54th goal of the season.
owever, Barca’s initial lead only lasted three minutes.
On-loan Atletico left-back Hernandez has been courted by Barcelona, but looks set to become the first player to cross the Madrid divide since 2000 by signing for Real Madrid in the coming weeks.
And the 19-year-old showed why he is in such demand by bending a sumptuous free-kick into the top corner.
Messi saw a free-kick of his own beaten away by Fernando Pacheco, whilst Ivan Rakitic drilled a low shot just wide as Barca immediately reacted to conceding.
Fittingly, Messi was involved once more when Barca did regain the lead as he received Neymar’s pass before playing in Gomes and the Portuguese’s low cross was tapped home by Neymar at the back post as he scored for the third consecutive season in the Cup final.
Barca then put the game to bed in first-half stoppage time when Messi again pulled the Alaves defence apart and his reverse pass freed Alcacer to smash the ball beyond Pacheco into the far corner.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Test Number 1 INDIA RETAINS ICC TEST CHAMPIONSHIP MACE and WINS $1 MILLION

INDIA RETAINS ICC TEST CHAMPIONSHIP MACE, WINS $1 MILLION AWARD FOR FINISHING AS NO.1 AT THE 1 APRIL CUT-OFF DATE



·       Kohli: “The longest format of the game really tests a team’s character and I’m proud that we have proved ourselves to be the best”
                                
·       Mr Sunil Gavaskar: “Congratulations to the Indian team for its superb performances. Being at the top in this format is no mean achievement and proves that the players have been doing well on a consistent basis.”

·       Mr David Richardson: “I’m sure being recognized as the best Test nation is something that the team will really be proud of and I look forward to another year of outstanding Test cricket being played as they look to defend their position.”

·       South Africa needs to draw the Hamilton Test to finish ahead of Australia in second place

The Indian cricket team has retained the ICC Test Championship mace and has also won a cash award of $1 million for ensuring top position in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team rankings on the annual 1 April cut-off date.

Captain Virat Kohli received the mace and cheque from ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Sunil Gavaskar at a ceremony after the fourth and final Test against Australia in Dharamsala, in which Ajinkya Rahane led the side as Kohli could not play due to a shoulder injury.

India had entered the series against Australia needing to win at least one Test to retain possession of the prestigious mace, which it had reclaimed following the Indore Test against New Zealand in October 2016.

The second and third places in the rankings will be decided after the ongoing Hamilton Test between South Africa and New Zealand. If South Africa wins or draws the Test, it will be assured of second place but a loss will see Australia finish ahead of it in second place.

The side to finish second will get $500,000 while the side finishing third will receive $200,000. The fourth-placed team, which is England, will get $100,000.



Virat Kohli: “We are absolutely delighted to have topped the ICC Test rankings. The longest format of the game really tests a team’s character and I’m proud that we have proved ourselves to be the best.

“Being presented with the Test championship mace last year was an exhilarating experience and the feeling is no different this time.

“I’d like to both congratulate and thank everyone who has been part of this success. This includes not only all the players who have been in the squad but also the team management and support staff, without whom we could not have done so well. It has not been an easy journey but all the hard work has been worth it.

“We have maintained our position with some really good cricket in recent months. The team has shown the tenacity to bounce back from difficult situations.”

Sunil Gavaskar: “Congratulations to the Indian team for its superb performances in Test cricket. Being at the top in this format is no mean achievement and proves that the players have been doing well on a consistent basis.”

“The horizon has changed with the development of the limited overs formats but Test cricket has held on to its own even 140 years after it was first played. Everyone recognizes that Tests are the ultimate trial of a cricketer’s caliber. It’s good to see the players enjoy the challenges that Test cricket presents and have high regard for others who do well in the format.”

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson: “On behalf of the ICC, I would like to congratulate India for achieving and maintaining number-one status amid some stiff competition, particularly from Australia and Pakistan who both held the top spot over the last year, and South Africa who have had some great Test series wins of late. The team has shown great consistency over the last 12 months, it possesses a variety of talent and is an exciting team to watch.”

“I’m sure being recognized as the best Test nation is something that the team will really be proud of and I look forward to another year of outstanding Test cricket being played as they look to defend their position.”

About the ICC Test championship mace:

·       The ICC Test Championship mace is awarded to teams that reach the number-one spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings.
·       The team that is number-one ranked at the 1 April cut-off date gets a cash award of $1 million. The team placed second gets $500,000, the third $200,000 and the fourth $100,000.
·       India’s longest tenure at the top was from November 2009-August 2011 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
·       Other captains to have received the mace include Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith (Australia), Andrew Strauss (England), Dhoni, (India), Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan), Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla (South Africa).
·       The ICC Test Championship mace was produced by the then British Crown Jeweller, Asprey and Garrard, in 2001.
·       The mace, a 90cm silver and gold-plated trophy based on a cricket stump as its shank and topped by an orb representing the cricket world, was valued at stg£30,000 in 2001
·       Current Test rankings system was introduced in 2003
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