Bavuma not interested in 'sideshows', Kohli prepares for 100th T20I innings

By Sports Desk September 27, 2022

Fit-again captain Temba Bavuma is not interested in "sideshows" as he prepares to lead South Africa in a three-match Twenty20 International series against India.

Bavuma has not played for his country since suffering an elbow injury during a T20I series in India three months ago which ended 2-2.

The batter has since spoken of feeling "let down" after he was not selected for the inaugural SA20 auction this month.

Questions have been asked over Bavuma's credentials in the shortest format less than a month before the T20 World Cup in Australia begins.

The Proteas skipper is ignoring such "distractions" ahead of the opening T20I against the top-ranked side in the world at Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

He said: "I've tried to put all those things behind me. My biggest focus is on the role that I have, which is to lead and serve the team as best as I can, make sure that the guys are in the best place possible going into that big World Cup tournament.

"All other distractions, all other sideshows, that's stuff that I'll deal with on a personal level, but now, here, being within the team, as long as I'm still wearing that shirt, it will be to lead and serve the team as best as I can."

Bavuma added: "This is our last series before the World Cup. Obviously we will be looking for this series to fill whatever gaps we feel there are in the team. We have guys who have been playing a lot of cricket and I guess we will be managing their intensity.

"We also have guys who need some cricket under their belts. It will be to give those guys some game time because this is our last preparation in different conditions compared to Australia but still match time nevertheless.

"The last time we were here, we were tested in all departments of our game and I think we answered well."

South Africa have beaten England and Ireland since drawing with India, who come into this series on the back of a 2-1 triumph over Australia.

The two sides will also meet in Group 2 at the World Cup in Perth on October 30.

 

Kohli to reach another landmark

Virat Kohli finally ended his long wait for an international hundred against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup this month.

The former skipper is set to bring up another century, as his next T20I innings will be his 100th. Kohli will be only the 10th player to be at the crease 100 times in the shortest format on the international stage.

Kohli has scored 3,660 runs from 99 innings, 684 more than the next best aggregate for any batter in their first 100 innings in men's T20Is (Martin Guptill – 2,976 runs).

Proteas enjoying life on the road

South Africa have won each of their past four completed T20I games away from home.

The Proteas have been victorious six times on tour in 2022. Only in 2021, when they won 14 times away from home, have they bettered that tally in a calendar year.

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  • Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win

    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

    Victory for Roberto Martinez's side would have seen the 2018 semi-finalists become the second side to book their spot in the knockout stage, alongside France, but the Red Devils fell short.

    Having seen a first-half free-kick from Hakim Ziyech disallowed, the same tactic provided dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri's dangerous ball took a slight touch off team-mate Romain Saiss to put Morocco on course for just a third win in their World Cup history.

    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work to leave Group F wide open with one round of games to go.

    Belgium saw the majority of possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came into the side as a very late change for Yassine Bounou.

    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

    Lightning struck twice for Martinez's side after the break, as Sabiri whipped in a dangerous free-kick from the left to the near post which found its way past Courtois via a faint touch off Saiss, who was awarded the goal, with no offside flag to save Belgium this time.

    Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was wiped away in added time, Ziyech winning the ball off a poor touch from Axel Witsel and teeing up Aboukhlal to smash home.

     

    What does it mean? Belgium's fine run ends

    Winning their past eight group-stage matches at the World Cup, victory would have seen Belgium set an outright record in that regard, while they had not lost at this stage of the tournament since 1994.

    Morocco, with just two wins from 17 previous fixtures at the tournament (D6, L9), were largely unfancied before a ball was kicked in a group that contained two semi-finalists from Russia 2018, but they have avoided defeat against both.

    A famous triumph inflicted Belgium's first ever defeat to an African nation at the World Cup, and Morocco now just need a point against Canada to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.

    Moroccan magic

    Heading into the game, Morocco had failed to score in 53 per cent of their World Cup matches (9/17), which stood as the joint-highest percentage of any nation to have played at least 10 matches in the tournament.

    While chances from open play were limited, Morocco's effectiveness from set-pieces proved crucial, with the same move against Belgium working twice – though the first was ruled out.

    Disappointing De Bruyne

    Usually one to pull the strings in midfield, Morocco's fine organisation left Kevin De Bruyne's influence on the match being limited, the Manchester City man creating just one chance for his team during the game.

    De Bruyne ended up being the man at the end of attacking sequences for Martinez's side, with more shots (three) than any of his team-mates but failing to hit the target with any, while also losing possession on a game-high 27 occasions.

    Key Opta facts

    - Belgium have lost seven of their past 19 matches in all competitions (W9 D3), as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 74 games combined (W57 D10).
    - Morocco's victory over Belgium was their first win in five games at the World Cup (D2 L2). Meanwhile, it was the first time that they had recorded consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup since 1986.
    - Belgium are just the third side to lose their 50th game at the World Cup, after England in 2002 (v Brazil) and Spain in 2010 (v Switzerland), though the latter went on to win the tournament that year.
    - The Red Devils have only scored fewer goals after two games at a World Cup once before (none in 1930) – they had scored eight goals across their first two games in 2018.

    What's next?

    Morocco tackle Canada in their final group match on Thursday, knowing a draw will be enough to secure a spot in the knockout stage, while Belgium lock horns with Croatia on the same day.

  • Brazil v Switzerland: Richarlison has God on his side in Qatar Brazil v Switzerland: Richarlison has God on his side in Qatar

    Richarlison believes God recognised his effort to get to the World Cup, as the Brazil forward turned his focus to Monday's clash with Switzerland.

    Tottenham attacker Richarlison scored both of the Selecao's goals in their opening 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday.

    After bundling in a rebound, Richarlison scored the goal of the tournament so far to double Brazil's tally, sending an acrobatic attempt into the left-hand corner.

    Richarlison has scored nine goals in his last seven appearances for Brazil in all competitions, becoming the eighth Brazilian to score a brace on his World Cup debut, and first since Neymar in 2014.

    Since his debut for the national side in September 2018, Richarlison has scored more goals in all competitions for Brazil than any other player (19).

     

    However, his World Cup participation was in doubt when he suffered a calf injury while in action for Spurs against his former side Everton in October.

    "A few weeks ago, I was crying, not sure if it would come," Richarlison said, as quoted by the CBF's official website.

    "On the day of the exam, it was one of the longest days of my life. I remember it was a day off and I went for the exam, I stayed on the stretcher waiting for the result to come out.

    "The doctors went back and forth, I got nervous and time went slowly.

    "So, I think it was worth all the effort in my recovery. God saw my effort, saw how much I wanted to come to the World Cup.

    "That's it, now it's time to continue. We did the main thing, which was to win the first game, which is very important. Now it's time to think about the second game and rest well. It was the first, now there are six more important games."

    Brazil are favourites to top Group G, but Switzerland will be no pushovers. They won their first match too, beating Cameroon 1-0 thanks to Breel Embolo's goal.

    Switzerland are looking to win their opening two games at a World Cup for the first time. They last won consecutive games in the competition in 2006 against Togo and South Korea.

    Brazil will be without Neymar, however, with their talisman having suffered an ankle injury against Serbia that will see him miss the meeting with Switzerland, though coach Tite was confident the Paris Saint-Germain star will feature again in Qatar.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brazil – Vinicius Junior

    Richarlison rightly took the limelight for his efforts against Serbia, but he is not the only quality attacker Brazil have at their disposal.

    With Neymar out, the onus will be on Vinicius Junior – who has shown his world-class ability at Real Madrid – to step up.

    Before he was taken off inside the final 15 minutes of Thursday's match, Vinicius had been involved of 50 per cent of Brazil's 16 shots, having four attempts himself and creating as many chances, including the assist for Richarlison's stunning second.

    Switzerland – Breel Embolo

    Embolo has scored in three of his last four matches for Switzerland, with all three of his strikes being the winner in each game.

    The last Swiss player to score in consecutive World Cup games was Alexander Frei in 2006, while the only players to score in Switzerland's first two games at a World Cup are Leopold Kielholz in 1934 and Andre Abegglen in 1938.

    PREDICTION

    Brazil are unbeaten in their last 16 group stage games at the World Cup, and they are aiming to become the first team to go 17 without defeat in the group stages of the competition.

    Opta's model backs them to do just that, giving Brazil a 62.7 per cent chance of victory.

    The probability of a draw is 21 per cent, while Opta rate the likelihood of a Switzerland win at 16.3 per cent.

  • Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Sabiri and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Sabiri and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win

    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

    Victory for Roberto Martinez's side would have seen the 2018 semi-finalists become the second side to book their spot in the knockout stage, alongside France, but the Red Devils fell short.

    Having seen a first-half free-kick from Hakim Ziyech disallowed, the same tactic provided dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri put Morocco on course for just a third win in their World Cup history.

    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work.

    Belgium saw the majority of possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came into the side as a very late change for Yassine Bounou.

    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Romain Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

    Lightning struck twice for Martinez's side after the break, as Sabiri whipped in a dangerous free-kick to the near post which found its way past Courtois and, while Saiss was again in the proximity, there was no offside flag to save Belgium this time.

    Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was wiped away in added time, Ziyech winning the ball off a poor touch from Axel Witsel and teeing up for Aboukhlal to smash home.

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