India seal T20I series win over South Africa despite Miller century

By Sports Desk October 02, 2022

David Miller's stunning century proved to be in vain as India earned a 16-run victory over South Africa to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in their T20I series.

India cruised to an eight-wicket win in the low-scoring opener on Wednesday, but the runs flowed in Guwahati on Sunday as Suryakumar Yadav (61) and KL Rahul (57) helped the hosts post an imposing 237-3.

Suryakumar and Rahul both hit half-centuries in the first match, and they were at it again as South Africa's bowling attack failed to get control of the match, with only Keshav Maharaj (2-23) picking up wickets as the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi struggled.

India's score was their fourth-highest in T20Is, aided by important innings from captain Rohit Sharma (43) and Virat Kohli's unbeaten 49. Yadav's runs, meanwhile, came from just 22 balls, five of which he despatched for six.

South Africa's chase started woefully, as captain Temba Bavuma and Rilee Rossouw were both dismissed for nought by Arshdeep Singh in the second over.

Quinton de Kock and Miller fought to keep South Africa in the game, as former captain De Kock made a snappy 69 not out while Miller hit 106no from 47 balls.

Despite those efforts, the Proteas never truly threatened to chase the challenging total as they lost the series with a game left to play, finishing on 221-3. The third match takes place on Tuesday in Indore.

Record-setting Suryakumar

Suryakumar became the fastest player to reach 1,000 T20I runs in terms of balls faced, as he hit five fours and as many maximums to post his second half-century in a row.

He reached 1,000 T20I runs in 573 balls, 31 fewer than the previous record-holder Glenn Maxwell required, and helped India to set a huge target as the Proteas bowlers were carted to all parts.

Rabada struggles to make a dent

A key member of South Africa's pace attack, Rabada failed to make a significant impact as he finished with figures of 0-57 in his four overs.

The most expensive of the visitors' bowlers, Rabada was hit for 10 boundaries as India stormed to a total out of South Africa's reach.

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  • Croatia 4-1 Canada: Russia finalists hit form to eliminate inexperienced entertainers Croatia 4-1 Canada: Russia finalists hit form to eliminate inexperienced entertainers

    Canada were eliminated from the World Cup after just two matches despite again playing their part in an entertaining encounter as Croatia won 4-1 at Khalifa International Stadium.

    Back at the finals after 36 years away, Canada thrilled in their opening game against Belgium, only to be narrowly beaten.

    It looked to be a similar story again on Sunday, although Croatia were ultimately deserving winners after two goals from Andrej Kramaric and one each from Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer overturned an early Canada lead.

    Alphonso Davies' opener was his country's first goal at a World Cup, but five defeats from five ends their hopes of progression as Croatia join Morocco on four points in Group F.

    That wait for a breakthrough goal extended only 67 seconds into Canada's fifth finals match, with Davies meeting Tajon Buchanan's cross to head the fastest goal of the tournament so far.

    Croatia soon took control, however, and after Milan Borjan twice denied Livaja either side of a disallowed Kramaric goal, two goals ahead of half-time turned the game on its head.

    Borjan had no answer to Kramaric, who squeezed in another finish, and Livaja got his goal with a low effort from the edge of the box.

    John Herdman's men came out for the second half with renewed optimism and went close through both substitute Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David, but Kramaric continued to threaten and clinically picked out the bottom-left corner to settle it.

    There was time for Croatia to add further gloss as poor Kamal Miller miscontrolled on halfway and gave Mislav Orsic a clear run to advance and unselfishly square to Majer.

    What does it mean? Canada prove unsuccessful entertainers

    Canada's tennis team clinched Davis Cup glory just before kick-off, and their countrymen did not have to wait long to celebrate again. After 50 shots without success across their prior four World Cup games, their 51st found the net through Davies.

    But Croatia were themselves more effective in attack than Belgium had been and recovered from that setback to win comfortably, picking holes in the Canada defence with consummate ease.

    Kramaric leads comeback

    Kramaric showed his class in scoring with two of five attempts, displaying the sort of ruthless touch in front of goal that would have delivered Canada victory against Belgium, if not in this game.

    This was the second match at this tournament to see a team concede first but lead before half-time, the other seeing Croatia's 2018 final conquerors France rally past Australia.

    Such a swift turnaround did not occur once over the previous five World Cups combined.

    Centurion looks his age

    It is rare Luka Modric, at 37, is some way short of being the oldest man in a midfield battle, but Atiba Hutchinson, at 39, is the second-oldest outfield player to play at a World Cup.

    While Hutchinson also became the first player to appear 100 times for Canada on Sunday, all that experience could not make up for a lack of pace that gave Croatia the run of the midfield.

    What's next?

    Canada are out but can still impact the rest of the group, facing Morocco as Croatia play Belgium in a winner-takes-all meeting on Thursday.

  • 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.

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