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Afghanistan national team player to retire during T20 World Cup

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(Last Updated On: October 31, 2021)

Former Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan has said the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match against Namibia on Sunday will be his last.

Afghan, 33, has represented Afghanistan in 114 ODIs and six Tests, and if he plays Sunday’s game, will have featured in 75 T20Is.

Only Mohammad Nabi has played more international matches for the country.

With 4,215 runs so far across formats, he is Afghanistan’s third-highest run-scorer of all time.

Afghan announced the news in a video on social media on the eve of the fixture. This was confirmed by the Afghanistan Cricket Board in a statement on social media that said, “Afghanistan’s ex-captain Asghar Afghan who holds the highest winning streak as a captain in T20 internationals surpassing Indian legend MS Dhoni by one extra win, decides to bid farewell with all formats of cricket in Afghanistan’s third match against Namibia.

“[ACB] welcomes and respects his decision, expresses gratitudes for his services to the country. It will take a lot of hard work for young Afghan cricketers to fill his shoes.”

Having featured in the U17 side for Afghanistan, Afghan made his senior debut in 2004. He has since been a key member of the Afghanistan side that enjoyed a meteoric rise up the ranks from Division 5 in 2008 to playing a 50-over World Cup in 2015 and becoming a Full Member nation in 2018.

Afghan has been skipper for 115 of the matches he’s played, including in the country’s maiden Test. He has been captain in 52 T20Is, and led in 42 wins, putting him one ahead of MS Dhoni, who won 41 of the 72 matches he has led.

He retires with a century in both ODIs and Tests, having made 164 in the first innings against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.

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US officials to boycott Beijing Olympics

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2021)

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that U.S. government officials will not attend the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, CNN reported on Sunday.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last month that he was considering such a diplomatic boycott to protest China’s human rights record, including what Washington says is genocide against minority Muslims.

The administration has been under pressure from activists and members of Congress to skip the games, Reuters reported.

The White House declined to comment on CNN’s report on Sunday. Four sources with knowledge of the administration’s thinking previously told Reuters that there was a growing consensus within the White House to keep U.S. officials away from the Beijing Olympics.

CNN said the U.S. boycott would not prevent its athletes from competing in the games.

The State Department did not respond to questions about the report late Sunday.

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Klusener to step down as Afghanistan’s cricket coach

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Former South Africa allrounder Lance Klusener will step down as the head coach of Afghanistan’s national cricket team when his contract expires on December 31.

Klusener, who was appointed in September 2019, said in a statement issued on Monday he will not renew his contract.

“Having spent two years with the team, I will take away some memorable moments with me,” he said.

“As I walk away from Afghanistan cricket team and its cricketing structure, I look forward to the next stage in my coaching career and opportunities it brings.”

Klusener took over as head coach from Andy Moles, who was serving in an interim capacity after the exit of Phil Simmons following the 2019 World Cup.

While Afghanistan hardly played any cricket in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team did reasonably well under Klusener, winning one out of the three Tests, three out of the six ODIs and nine out of 14 T20Is.

Considered one of the best South African all-rounders during his playing days (1996 to 2004), Klusener scored 1,906 runs and took 80 wickets in 49 Tests. He also scored 3,576 runs and got 192 wickets in 171 ODIs.

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Messi claims record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2021)

Argentina’s Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or award for the best player in the world for a record-stretching seventh time on Monday, beating Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to lift soccer’s most prestigious trophy yet again, Reuters reported.

The forward added to his 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019 trophies after winning the Copa America for the first time with his country last July.

“It’s incredible to be here again. Two years ago I thought it was the last time. Winning the Copa America was key,” Messi said at Paris’s Theatre du Chatelet.

“It is a special year for me with this Copa America title. It meant a lot to win at the Maracana stadium and I was so happy to celebrate with the people from Argentina.

“I don’t know if it’s the best year of my life, I’ve had a long career, but it was a special one with the title with Argentina after the tough times and the criticism.”

Messi, who joined Paris St Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the close season after finishing as La Liga’s top scorer with the Spanish club, collected 613 points, with Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski, named best striker on Monday, getting 580.

Jorginho, who won the Champions League with Chelsea and the European championship with Italy, ended up third on 460, ahead of France’s Karim Benzema and Ngolo Kante in fourth and fifth places respectively.

Chelsea, named club of the year, also had keeper Edouard Mendy finishing second in the Yashin trophy behind Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, read the report.

According to the women’s Ballon d’Or went to Alexia Putellas after the Spain midfielder guided Barcelona to Champions League glory.

“The key moment was the Champions League final against Olympique Lyonnais,” she said.

Putellas is the third winner of the Ballon d’Or Feminin after Ada Hegerberg in 2018 and Megan Rapinoe in 2019. There was no ceremony last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On a good night for Barcelona, the 19-year-old Pedri was awarded the Kopa trophy for the best Under-21 player, Reuters reported.

“The best way to celebrate turning 19 is receiving this award. I’d like to thank everyone at Barcelona for helping me here,” he said.

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