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Afghanistan set to face New Zealand in defining WC match

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(Last Updated On: November 7, 2021)

Two teams, who have never played each other outside of World Cups, and never in a T20 International before, are ready to face off on Sunday in what is clearly a defining match for not two but three teams.

The Super 12 match at the T20 Men’s ICC World Cup will see Afghanistan play New Zealand, but for India, the outcome of the match will decide their fate going forward.

While there’s only ever been two ODIs between Afghanistan and New Zealand, the lack of familiarity between New Zealand and Afghanistan adds a bit of uncertainty to Sunday’s match, which is Afghanistan’s last-ditch attempt to secure a spot in the semi-finals. However, it is also New Zealand’s last chance.

If Afghanistan win

An Afghanistan win opens up all sorts of scenarios.

It would take the team to six points, drawing them level on points with New Zealand and likely second courtesy of superior net run-rate.

That being said, a victory over New Zealand would not be enough to lock down Afghanistan’s spot in the semi-finals.

For Afghanistan, net run-rate will be key and they’ll have an eye on India’s game against Namibia on Monday. India will go into that match knowing exactly what they need to do to leapfrog both New Zealand and Afghanistan on NRR.

The situation for New Zealand: Eliminated

The situation for Afghanistan: Through to the semi-finals if India lose or if they finish with an inferior net run-rate

The situation for India: Through to semi-finals if they beat Namibia and secure a superior NRR than both Afghanistan and New Zealand.

If New Zealand win

A New Zealand victory presents the most straightforward of scenarios.

The Black Caps can lock down their spot in the semi-finals by beating Afghanistan as it would take them to eight points, out of reach of India and leaving Mohammad Nabi’s team on four.

If New Zealand win and Pakistan suffer a surprise loss to Scotland, the Black Caps could finish the group on top spot courtesy of a superior net run-rate.

The situation for New Zealand: Locked in for the semi-finals with a chance at top in the group

The situation for Afghanistan: Eliminated

The situation for India: Eliminated

Sunday’s match starts at 2.30pm Kabul time and will be played in Abu Dhabi.

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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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