Firstpost Spodcast Episode 220: India, New Zealand register contrasting wins at World Cup, Igor Stimac loses first match as national team coach

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India made a good start to their 2019 World Cup campaign, defeating South Africa by six wickets on Wednesday.

Chasing a modest target of 228, India cruised to victory on the back of Rohit Sharma's 23rd ODI century. The opener made 122 not out as India won with 15 balls to spare, living up to their favourites tag with a clinical performance. Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli fell without scoring much, leaving India in a spot of bother, but KL Rahul helped steady the by way of an 85-run third-wicket partnership with Sharma. Rahul was dismissed by Kagiso Rabada in the 32nd over, which brought MS Dhoni to the crease.

Dhoni was reliable as always, making 34 runs from 46 balls while taking India closer to victory. Sharma was dropped on 1 by Faf Du Plessis, and again on 107 by David Miller who misjudged a simple catch, rounding off a pretty ordinary day in the field for the Proteas. Hardik Pandya sealed the match with a flurry of boundaries as India got home with more than two overs remaining.

South Africa have now lost three matches and their semi-final chances look pretty dim unless they pull off something special. Meanwhile, India's next match is against Australia at the Oval on Sunday.

New Zealand fought off a stiff challenge from Bangladesh to win by two wickets in a thrilling match on Wednesday. Set 245 to win, New Zealand were cruising at 218/5 in the 43rd over, thanks to Ross Taylor's 82 from 91 balls. But the Kiwis lost the wickets of Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham in quick succession, leaving tailenders Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry with the job of getting the team home. Santner and Henry scored 20 runs in less than three overs but Henry was bowled with New Zealand seven runs from the win. But they had just two wickets remaining. Santner and Lockie Ferguson hot a boundary each to get New Zealand over the line with 17 balls remaining.

In football news, India lost 1-3 to higher-ranked Curacao in their opening match of the King's Cup football tournament. Wednesday's match was the first under new coach Igor Stimac. India captain Sunil Chhetri became the most capped Indian player, surpassing Bhaichung Bhutia's 107 international matches. He scored the lone goal for his side in the 31st minute from a spot kick for his 69th goal, though it did not make any difference to the result of the match.

The 82nd ranked Caribbean island nation of Curacao, some of whose players are part of the Premier League and other European leagues, scored three goals in the space of 18 minutes - through Roly Bonevacia in the 16th minute, Elson Hooi in the 18th minute, and Leandro Bacuna in the 33rd minute.

Gianni Infantino was re-elected FIFA president unopposed at the congress of world football's governing body in Paris on Wednesday as he claimed to have turned the organisation from being "toxic and almost criminal" back to its core values. His re-election was marked by a round of applause from the congress after the statutes were changed earlier in the day to no longer require a vote if there was only one candidate for the position.

The 49-year-old Swiss-Italian lawyer now has a four-year mandate to try and accomplish his grandiose plans for football which were partly frustrated in his first term. He has been in charge of FIFA since February 2016, after succeeding Sepp Blatter in the wake of a damaging corruption scandal that Infantino claimed the body had now shaken off.

He claimed, "Nobody talks about crisis at FIFA any more or rebuilding it from scratch. Nobody talks about scandals or corruption, we talk about football. We can say that we've turned the situation around...This organisation has gone from being toxic, almost criminal, to being what it should be - an organisation that develops football and is now synonymous with transparency, integrity. Today, everything is open and transparent. It is not possible at FIFA to make hidden payments or do anything unethical with our money. There is no more place for corruption."

In hockey news, Indian men's hockey team coach Graham Reid said complacency has no place in modern sport. The FIH Series Finals, where India start as overwhelming favourites having been pitted against seven other lower-ranked sides, was on the coach's mind as he sent out a message.

Reid said, "Complacency for me is not an option in high-performance sport. I always try and respect the opposition no matter who they are. They can always score a goal against you and there is no referral here as well."

World No 5 India are the highest ranked side in the tournament which starts today. South Africa at 16, and Asian Games gold medallist Japan at 18, are the closest to hosts India in terms of the world ranking. The other participating teams are 21st-ranked Poland, Uzbekistan, the United States, and Mexico.

Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2019 12:50:36 IST