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Kohli urges Indian fans to stop booing Smith

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Steve Smith was booed throughout India's victory over Australia.

London: One thing which has been a constant in the ongoing World Cup is the continuous booing which Steve Smith has received from the fans in England and Wales. Be it the warm-up match against England or the tournament proper thereafter, Smith has been given a tough time by the fans across all venues.

And on Sunday, it was no different. Smith was constantly booed by Indian fans during the World Cup fixture between India and Australia at the Kennington Oval which the Men in Blue won by 36 runs.

Smith, who was the captain of the ball-tampering controversy which took place last year, was first booed, with chants of “cheater, cheater”, making the rounds while he was fielding at third man during the Indian innings.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya had just been dismissed, and the crowd tried to get under Smith’s skin with the chants.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli, who was batting at the time, looked up towards that section of the stadium and gestured them not to do so.

He instead made a “clap” gesture and pointed towards Smith. The Indian skipper also did the same when Smith walked past, with both players shaking hands.

Smith was booed for the second time when he walked out to bat during Australia’s big chase of 353. Another section of the crowd this time booed and started the same chants again.

Kohli, who was fielding at mid-wicket then, looked up and made a folded hand sign, before asking them to cut it out again.

Speaking about it in the post-match press conference, Kohli expressed his sympathy for Smith and apologised on behalf of the Indian crowd.

“Just because there are so many Indian fans here, I just didn’t want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn’t do anything to be booed in my opinion,” the 30-year-old said.

“He’s just playing cricket. He was just standing there, and I felt bad because if I was in a position where something had happened with me and I had apologised, I accepted it and I came back and still I would get booed, I wouldn’t like it, either.

“So I just felt for him, and I told him, I’m sorry on behalf of the crowd because I’ve seen that happen in a few earlier games, as well, and in my opinion that’s not acceptable,” he added.

Smith and David Warner have been repeatedly heckled on the field since their return to the Australian team following their one-year bans over the Newlands ball-tampering incident.

However, Kohli said he felt for Smith in his current circumstance.

“Look, I think what’s happened has happened like long back, the guy is back, he’s trying to play well for his side.

“Even in the IPL I saw him, it’s not good to see someone down like that, to be honest. We’ve had issues in the past. We’ve had a few arguments on the field. But you don’t want to see a guy feeling that heat every time he goes out to play.

“What’s happened has happened. Everyone has known that. He’s come back. He’s worked hard. He’s playing well for his side now,” he added.

Kohli has had run-ins with Smith and other Australian players in the past as well, the most memorable one being when he suggested the Australian batter had deliberately sought guidance from the dressing room while deciding whether to review a decision during Australia’s Test tour of India in 2017.

However, Smith had, at that time, said it was a “brain fade” moment for him.

Cricket Lounge

Australia crush Sri Lanka to go top in World Cup

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Australia beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs.

London: Australia beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs in their 2019 ICC World Cup group stage clash at the Oval on Saturday. The victory took Australia to the top of the table with eight points, while Sri Lanka remain at fifth place with four.

Chasing a target of 335, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 247, despite a 115-run opening stand between Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera.

Australia’s charge to 334/7 was largely powered by captain Aaron Finch’s 153 off 132 balls, which was part of a 173-run stand between him and Steve Smith (73 off 59) for the third wicket.

Finch hit 15 fours and five sixes and also shared an 80-run opening stand with David Warner (26 off 48).

Finch was dismissed by Isuru Udana in the 43rd over after which Sri Lanka managed to get a grip on the game with frequent wickets.

Smith was dismissed in the next over and by the time the Australian innings came to an end, they had lost seven wickets with Glenn Maxwell (46 off 25) and Mitchell Starc (5 off 4) at the crease.

Sri Lanka made a strong start to the chase with captain Karunaratne and Kusal pegging back the Australian pacers and Maxwell.

Starc, however, got the breakthrough by taking Kusal’s middle stump while the latter was on 52 off 36 balls. Sri Lanka never managed to get a significant partnership after that.

Lahiru Thirimanne, who replaced Kusal, became Jason Behrendorff’s first World Cup wicket and Karunaratne was dismissed on 97 off 109 by Kane Richardson.

While the top three wickets contributed 186 runs to the Sri Lankan total, the rest only managed 61. Starc ended the innings with figures of 4/55 while Richardson took three wickets.

Pat Cummins was the man who took the final Sri Lankan wicket and ended the match with two to his name.

Brief scores: Australia 334/7  (Aaron Finch 153 (132), Steve Smith 73 (59), Dananjaya De Silva 2/40) beat Sri Lanka 247 (Dimuth Karunaratne 97 (108), Kusal Perera 52 (36), Mitchell Starc 4/55).

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No individual competition with Amir, says Kohli ahead of Indo-Pak clash

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Virat Kohli is confident of a good show by India against Pakistan.

Manchester: On the eve of the marquee India-Pakistan clash at the World Cup, India captain Virat Kohli said on Saturday that while Mohammad Amir remained a threat, his team will focus on the other bowlers as much as on the left-arm speedster.

“I am not going to say anything for TRPs,” Kohli said in the pre-match presser on Saturday.

“Only the white or red ball matters to me, regardless of who the bowler is. As I had said earlier for (Kagiso) Rabada before the South Africa match, you have to respect any bowler’s skill set. At the same time, you should have faith in your ability to score against any bowler,” he said.

“And it isn’t like the match will be won or lost on the basis of whether I score well or he (Amir) takes a lot of wickets. The other 10 players also have to play well from both sides for getting a result. In my mind, I don’t have any competition with one particular player and I don’t see any need for me to prove myself against anyone. For me it is simple, if you don’t play well then even a part-time bowler can get you out,” Kohli said.

The last time India played Pakistan in an ICC tournament was at the 2017 Champions Trophy when Amir wiped out the mighty Indian top order comprising Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Kohli inside the first nine overs. India went on to lose the match by 180 runs.

While Amir’s form took a dip since then, he seems to have returned to his destructive best in the ongoing World Cup, recording his career best ODI figures of 5/30 in Pakistan’s previous game against Australia.

Kohli also did not disclose whether India will go with the same bowling combination as in the previous two matches or go for an extra pace option.

“We will consider different combinations depending on the conditions. If extra pace is an option, we will consider it. If it is a shortened game, we will consider it as well,” he said.

Kohli said that despite the hype surrounding the much-awaited fixture, the mood in the dressing room was the same as it would be for any other game.

“We have discussed nothing different from the time we landed in England. The mood in the dressing room hasn’t changed. We understand that any game we play for the country can be emotional and adrenaline-filled, so no one game is more special for us than the other.

“As cricketers who have been selected to play for the country, our responsibility is to treat every game equally, regardless of the opposition. For us nothing changes, we are a top side because of the cricket we play and we need to remember that. So the conversation has not changed at all and it won’t change in the future as well,” the India skipper said.

The build-up to the game has predictably seen a war on social media and through advertisements from both camps. When asked what message Kohli had for the fans, Kohli said they should enjoy the atmosphere.

“We expect it to be a full stadium and the fans should enjoy the game. In a World Cup you are bound to have full stadia in every match, so for us players it won’t be any different.

“I can’t tell the fans to think in a particular manner. The mindset of the player is bound to be different from that of a fan. You can’t mix the two and you can’t expect fans to think in a professional manner (like the players do). The fans should enjoy the game the way we have over the years, but as players we have to remain professional,” Kohli said.

The match at the Old Trafford in Manchester is scheduled to begin at 10.30 a.m. local time (3 p.m. IST).

India have played three matches in the tournament so far, winning two while one was a washout. Pakistan have played four matches thus far, off which they have lost two, won one, while one was abandoned due to rain without a ball being bowled.

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Root, Archer set up comfortable England win over West Indies

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Joe Root becomes the first Englishman to score three World Cup hundreds.

Southampton: England rode Joe Root’s unbeaten 16th ODI hundred and brilliance of their fast bowlers to register a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over a listless West Indies in a lopsided World Cup encounter at The Rose Bowl here on Friday.

After England captain Eoin Morgan opted to field first, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood took three wickets apiece to bundle out the West Indies for just 212 in 44.4 overs with some serious pace.

Archer (3/30) and Wood (3/18) got good support from Chris Woakes (1/16) while Nicholas Pooran (63; 78 balls, 4×3, 6×1) was the sole Caribbean batsman to offer some resistance.

Chasing a modest target, England were never in any sort of trouble as Root continued his good form to remain unbeaten on 100 off 94 balls, his innings laced with 11 fours.

Root thus became only the second England batsman to hit two tons in a single World Cup after Kevin Pietersen, who smashed two centuries in the 2007 edition. Root notched up his first century against Pakistan on June 3, but his team lost that game.

Opening the batting in place of Jason Roy who was out of the field for too long after pulling his hamstring while fielding, Root shared a 95-run opening wicket satnd with Jonny Bairstow (45; 46 balls, 4×7).

Bairstow failed to bring up his half-century, holing out to Carlos Brathwaite at third man off Shannon Gabriel.

Chris Woakes was promoted up the order and he too missed out on a fifty, getting out for 40 off 54 balls (4×4) to Gabriel. Root and Woakes stitched together a 104-run stand for the second wicket.

Ben Stokes (10 not out) hit the winning runs with a four off Windies captain Jason Holder as the hot favourites won with 101 balls to spare.

England are now second in the points table with six points from four games while the West Indies are placed sixth with just three points in their kitty from four matches.

Earlier, Woakes rattled Evin Lewis (2) with a brilliant yorker as England were off to a brilliant start. Woakes would have had Gayle too had Mark Wood not dropped him when he was batting on 15.

But that did not hurt the hosts as the big-hitting southpaw holed out to Jonny Bairstow at deep square-leg for 36 (41 balls, 4×5, 6×1), failing to beat the trap set for him by Liam Plunkett (1/30) who kept banging the ball short with the field set for it.

Windies then rode Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer’s 89-run fourth wicket stand to stem the rot after Shai Hope (11) was trapped in front by Wood.

Eoin Morgan threw the ball to Joe Root (2/27) in order to break the partnership, and the move worked as Root first had Hetmyer (39; 48 balls, 4×4) caught and bowled before getting rid of skipper Jason Holder (9) in similar fashion.

Pooran in the meantime brought up his 50 off 56 balls as Andre Russell joined him at the other end. Russell was dropped by Woakes off Adil Rashid when he was batting on 3, and in the same over the burly all-rounder smashed two sixes.

But Wood banged in another short ball and Russell fell for it, hitting it straight to Woakes at deep mid-wicket to allow him to make amends for his mistake moments ago.

From then on, it was the Archer show as he removed Pooran and Sheldon Cottrell off back-to-back deliveries in the 40th over and any plans Carlos Brathwaite had of playing a cameo was cut short as the all-rounder was dismissed for 14, caught behind by Jos Buttler off another Archer bouncer.

Shannon Gabriel was then clean-bowled by Wood to wrap up the show. It was also Wood’s 50th wicket in 50-over cricket.

Brief Scores: West Indies: 212 all out in 44.4 overs (Nicholas Pooran 63; Mark Wood 3/18, Jofra Archer 3/30); lost to England: 213/2 in 33.1 overs (Joe Root 100 not out, Jonny Bairstow 45, Chris Woakes 40) by 8 wickets.

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