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Vandana, Deep Grace, Deepika Shine As India Enter Women's Hockey Semifinal

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Experienced striker Vandana Katariya, vice-captain Deep Grace Ekka and Deepika slammed a hat-trick each as India stormed into the semifinals of the women’s hockey competition at the Asian Games with a 13-0 drubbing of Hong Kong in their final pool match in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Vandana (2nd, 16th, 48th minutes) scored three field goals, while Deep Grace (11th, 34th, 42nd) converted three penalty corners for India. Deepika (4th, 54th, 58th) was not to be left behind as she also emulated the feat of her senior teammates in India’s rout of Hong Kong. (Asian Games Medals Tally | Asian Games Full Schedule)

Sangita Kumari (27th, 55th), Monika (7th) and Navneet Kaur (58th) also registered their names on the scoresheet.

India are on top of Pool A with 10 points from four games and have much superior goal difference than second-placed side South Korea who have seven points with a match in hand. South Korea take on Malaysia in their final group league match later on Tuesday.

Two teams from each pool qualify for the semifinals.

It was a complete domination from the Indians as they toyed with Hong Kong’s defence from the word go to pump in six goals in the first two quarters and seven more after half-time.

It took India just two minutes to surge ahead when Vandana found the net from Navneet Kaur’s pass.

The Indians soon earned back-to-back penalty corners but wasted the chances as Hong Kong defended bravely.

India doubled their lead from a quick counter-attack through Deepika, who found the net from Vandana’s assist.

It was raining goals as Monika and Deep Grace scored two more in quick succession to hand India 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

A minute into the second quarter, Vandana scored her second with a tomahawk from edge of the circle.

Three minutes from half-time, Sangita tapped in Monika’s pass as India enjoyed a comfortable 6-0 lead at the break.

The trend continued after the change of ends as India’s relentless pressure resulted in seven more goals.

Deep Grace converted two penalty corners in the third quarter to complete her hat-trick.

Vandana followed suit with another tomahawk goal to bring up her hat-trick.

Deepika then converted two penalty corners with scorching flicks to match her senior teammates.

In between, Sangita and Navneet also found the net once each.

India will the second placed team of Pool B in the semifinals on Thursday. 

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)



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Euro 2024: ‘Infinite’ Pedri Is Spain’s Key Against Luka Modric’s Croatia

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Spain’s Euro 2024 hopes have been bolstered by Pedri Gonzalez’s return to form and the Barcelona playmaker could prove crucial in their stern opening battle against Luka Modric‘s dangerous Croatia. The Real Madrid midfielder, 38, is still the standard-bearer for his country and his midfield duel with Pedri lends a Clasico feel to the heavyweight clash in Berlin on Saturday. Spain, Croatia, Italy and Albania comprise Group B, the tournament’s toughest quartet, but a resurgent Pedri could give La Roja the edge they crave.

Pedri was vital as Spain reached the Euro 2020 semi-finals but repeated hamstring injuries have set his career back in the years since.

In the final weeks of the season and in Spain’s warm-up friendlies Pedri has shown strong signs of returning to his best.

The midfielder struck twice last week playing in an advanced role as Spain thrashed Northern Ireland 5-1 in their final warm-up friendly.

It opened debate in Spain over Pedri’s best position, as he sometimes operates deeper in midfield, but coach Luis de la Fuente says he needs the Canary Islander to make the difference in the final third.

“We want him to play closer to the area, between the lines, taking advantage of the final ball. I think we can get a great deal from him,” said De la Fuente, grateful for Pedri’s grit in his fitness battle.

“I thank Pedri, he’s an example of overcoming, effort, a school of values (in himself), he’s important for everyone.”

The coach has been a strong supporter of Pedri and the midfielder revealed with every injury setback, De la Fuente would call to offer support.

The coach says he does not know where Pedri’s ceiling is and encouraged the midfielder to keep improving.

“Pedri had to find himself, we don’t know what his best version is because he’s so good, he is infinite,” added De la Fuente.

“We coaches can give confidence to players, but it is the player who has to take the step forward.”

‘Better than before’

Up against an elite midfield trio in Modric, Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic and Al-Nassr’s Marcelo Brozovic, Pedri will be thrown in at the deep end.

In the World Cup Croatia reached the 2018 final and 2022 semi-finals, while Spain beat them in extra-time in the last 16 in Euro 2020.

Pedri scored a bizarre own goal from nearly 50 yards away after a mistake by Spain goalkeeper Unai Simon, the one minor blot on his copybook in a superb tournament.

“I’m finding that I’m much better than before, I think that you saw with my first goal (against Northern Ireland) that I’ve left the injury behind me,” said Pedri ahead of Euro 2024.

“I worked so much, after various setbacks, to reach the end of the season in good shape.”

Spain defeated Croatia on penalties in the Nations League final in June 2023 to win their first trophy since Euro 2012.

The goalless draw over 120 minutes exemplified how evenly matched the teams are, although Spain were without Pedri because of his fitness state at the time.

The midfielder missed half of this season injured but after returning from his latest hamstring problem in April, came back strongly, quickly convincing De la Fuente he was ready for the Euros.

If he can get the better of Modric and Croatia in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, three-time winners Spain will begin to believe they have what it takes to make it back there a month later for the final on July 14.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Babar Azam A “Fake King”: Pakistan Star Rips Into Skipper, Claims He Has Better Stats Amid T20 WC Poor Show

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File image of Babar Azam.© X (Twitter)




Former Pakistan international batsman Ahmed Shehzad is making a habit of criticising Pakistan captain Babar Azam. With Pakistan on the verge of elimination from the 2024 T20 World Cup, Shehzad has again launched a scathing attack on Babar on the Pakistan talkshow “Haarna Mana Hai” (Losing Is Not An Option!). This time, the show displayed a humiliating comparison between Shehzad and Babar’s T20 World Cup stats. Mocking Babar’s tag of “King” by calling him a “Fake King”, Shehzad stated that Babar’s stats are worse than his. Not only that, Shehzad also accused Babar of not letting young players grow in order to protect the Pakistan careers of his friends.

Babar has scored 517 runs in 16 T20 World Cup games to date, but at a poor strike rate of 112. In comparison, Shehzad has slammed 250 runs in 9 games at a strike rate of 126, and even has a century to his name.

“I feel I could’ve done better than those stats. But your (Babar’s) stats are worse than mine,” said a fuming Shehzad.

“You’ve faced 205 balls in powerplays in T20 World Cups, but you haven’t managed to hit one six!” slammed Shehzad.

“You destroyed the entire domestic structure. You sacrificed good performers in domestic cricket to adjust your friends in the team,” further criticised Shehzad.

Shehzad, in particular, blamed Babar for mishandling 22-year-old batsman Saim Ayub‘s development.

“It was your responsibility to take care of Saim Ayub’s development, but now his career is over at such a young age. People are criticising Ayub after just 25 games,” said Shehzad.

Shehzad has now asked Babar Azam to take accountability for his and the team’s poor performances. Pakistan are heading towards a group stage exit at the 2024 T20 World Cup.

“The least you can do now is raise your hand, accept that you had the support and apologize for not being able to deliver a trophy for Pakistan,” said Shehzad.

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England Thrash Oman To Reignite T20 World Cup Campaign

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England hammered Oman by eight wickets as the reigning champions revived their T20 World Cup campaign with a record-breaking win in Antigua on Thursday. Needing a heavy victory to bolster their net run-rate as they attempt to overhaul Scotland in the race to qualify for the second round, England routed Oman for just 47. England then made 50-2 in a mere 3.1 overs, captain Jos Buttler 24 not out and Jonny Bairstow, who hit the winning boundary, unbeaten on eight.

This overwhelming Group B victory meant England recorded the largest win in T20 World Cup history in terms of balls remaining.

Oman had no answer to England’s attack, leg-spinner Adil Rashid taking 4-11, while express quicks Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both had figures of 3-12 in an innings that ended with nearly seven overs to spare.

Number seven Shoaib Khan (11) was the only Oman batsman to reach double figures after Buttler won the toss.

England’s net run-rate climbed to 3.081, better than Scotland’s 2.16, although they stayed third on three points, behind the Scots’ five.

But amid speculation arch-rivals Australia, undefeated so far in Group B might ease up in their closing pool game against Scotland to engineer England’s exit, Buttler’s men now know they will go second if they beat Namibia in their pool finale on Saturday.

Even a win, however, would leave England awaiting the outcome of Sunday’s match between Australia and Scotland to discover if they have reached the Super Eights. 

‘Job done’

“I thought the tone was set really well by the bowlers, picking up the early wickets,” said Buttler as England returned to winning ways after a comprehensive 36-run loss to Australia last time out that followed a washout with Scotland.  

“Job done today, another big game in two days’ time.”

Defeat by Australia added to the pressure on Buttler and coach Matthew Mott, himself a native Australian, that had been growing since late last year when England lost six of their nine games during a woeful defence of their 50-over World Cup title in India.

“I’ve been around long enough to know how things work,” said Buttler. “We have confidence. We can only focus on ourselves, we’ve got a huge game against Namibia.”

Already-eliminated Oman, who ended the tournament having lost all four of the games, just scraped past the record lowest completed total of 39 at any T20 World Cup, posted by fellow-non Test nation Uganda against co-hosts West Indies in Guyana last week.

“We couldn’t do well in the batting, it was a big collapse,” said Oman captain Aqib Ilyas.

“Overall we couldn’t do much. There are still many positives and you just have to get better and better. Once in a year you play against bowlers doing 150 kph (93 mph) plus.”

Archer did the early damage with 2-12 in nine balls.

Oman then lost two wickets in Wood’s first over as they slumped to 25-4 in six overs.

The very next delivery wicketkeeper Buttler luckily removed the bails at the second attempt to stump Khalid Kail off Rashid’s first ball as wickets continued to tumble.

Phil Salt struck the first two balls of England’s chase for six, only to be bowled off the third by Bilal Khan, but his side were on their way.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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