Firstpost Spodcast Episode 229: England's Eoin Morgan's six-hitting spree, Michel Platini's arrest and more
England's Eoin Morgan's six-hitting spree, Michel Platini's arrest and more in latest edition of Firstpost Spodcast
Hello and welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
1. In World Cup news, England put on another fantastic display of their batting prowess on Tuesday as captain Eoin Morgan scored a record-breaking century that led to a 150-run win over Afghanistan.
England chose to bat first and began slowly, reaching 46/1 in the first 10 overs. After settling in, Jonny Bairstow smashed the ball around, striking three sixes and 8 fours as he made 90 from 99 balls. England were at 164/2 in the 30th over when skipper Morgan replaced Bairstow. What followed can only be described as carnage. Morgan teed off from the get go, slamming sixes at will. By hit 17 of them on Tuesday, the most by any player in an ODI innings. Morgan’s ferocious hitting saw him finish with 148 runs from 71 balls. He was particularly severe on Rashid Khan, who went for 110 runs in just 9 overs. Joe Root gave his captain able company, scoring 88 from 82 balls, but such was Morgan’s innings that Root, who finished with a strike rate of 107, looked pedestrian in comparison. After Morgan’s dismissal, Moeen Ali played a brilliant cameo, scoring 31 from 9 balls, including four sixes. England finished with 397/6 and their innings yesterday included 25 sixes. Mujeeb ur Rahman was the best of Afghanistan’s bowlers, conceding only 44 runs in his 10 overs as the rest of the bowling bled profusely. Dawlat Zadran took 3/85 while Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib took 3/68.
In reply, Afghanistan posted their highest World Cup total of 247/8, putting up a spirited fight. But 397 was too much for the newcomers, and they never looked close to overhauling it. There was a worrying moment when Hashmatullah Shahidi, on 24, was hit on the side of the helmet by a Mark Wood bouncer and fell to the turf. But after several minutes' on-field treatment, Shahidi resumed his innings in a new helmet. He completed a gutsy 68-ball fifty on his way to 76, while his fourth-wicket stand of partnership of 94 with Asghar Afghan was a record for any Afghanistan wicket at a World Cup. Asghar made 44 while Rahmat Shah made 46 runs as Afghanistan, to their credit, played out the full 50 overs and put on their highest total in this tournament. England restricted their opponents to 247/8, winning by a huge margin of 150 runs. Pacer Jofra Archer took 3/52 while spinner Adil Rashid took 3/66.
2) Big news in football now. The corruption in international football took centre stage again on Tuesday.
Former UEFA president Michel Platini was arrested in France over the awarding of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar. The French football legend was elected to the post in 2007 and served as president until 2015, when he was banned by the FIFA Ethics Committee for a series of breaches.
A report from Mediapart in France said the 63-year-old was taken into custody as part of an investigation into the awarding of hosting rights. The report also mentioned that Claude Gueant, who once advised ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy as Secretary General, was also taken in for questioning but not arrested. Sarkozy’s adviser for sports Sophie Dion was also questioned by police, according to Reuters. Dion was detained along with Platini. Under French law, suspects can be held for questioning for up to 48 hours.
The newspaper Le Monde reported that prosecutors were particularly looking into a lunch hosted by Sarkozy nine days before the vote that awarded the tournament to Qatar. Platini and Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al Thani, then Prime Minister of Qatar and now the country’s Emir, were guests at the lunch. Platini has since acknowledged that he supported Qatar over a rival bid from USA, but said Sarkozy "never asked him to", the newspaper said. In 2014, Platini admitted holding a secret meeting with disgraced former football official Mohammad Bin Hammam days before casting his vote for Qatar. Bin Hammam, the ex- president of the Asian Football Confederation, was subsequently banned from football for life following an expose by The Sunday Times. Another investigation by The Telegraph into Platini and Bin Hammam’s relationship claimed that the pair met “between 30 and 50 times” while serving on FIFA's executive committee.
Platini was expected to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s chief in 2016 before both were banned for four years.
Qatar was named as host country for the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 but there have been a number of controversies regarding their suitability to host a tournament of such a level. Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner claimed an e-mail had been publicised amid allegations Qatar had 'bought' the Wold Cup - although the bid team have denied any wrongdoing. There have been multiple concerns over the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, chief among them the poor and inhuman treatment of migrant workers with estimates that up to 4,000 may die before the start of the tournament.
FIFA, football's governing body, said it “reiterates its full commitment to cooperating with the authorities in any given country of the world where investigations are taking place in connection with football activities.”
3) In a major development, the government yesterday gave a written guarantee to the IOA and IOC that all eligible athletes will be allowed to participate in events held in the country.
The government's decision comes after the International Olympic Committee had decided to "suspend all discussions" with India regarding hosting of global sporting events after Pakistani shooters were not issued visas for the World Cup held in New Delhi in February this year. The IOC had then said that it will not allow India to organise Olympic-related events in the future, unless written assurances are obtained from the government. The Olympic committee had also revoked the Olympic qualification status for two quota places in the 25m rapid fire event from the New Delhi World Cup due to the denial of those visas in the wake of the Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Last year, Kosovan boxer Donjeta Sadiku was also denied participation in the World Women's Championships in New Delhi since India does not recognise the nation.
On Tuesday, Union Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Jhulaniya wrote in a letter to Narinder Batra of the Indian Olympic Association, “The Government of India has always attached high importance to the development of sports in the country and the hosting of international sporting events. It is the vision of our Government to enhance sporting capabilities of our people through our association with the IOC and based on the values and principles of Olympic Charter.”
4) Newly retired Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh has formally written to the BCCI seeking the board's permission to play in T20 leagues around the world.
Yuvraj called time on his glorious international career last week and expressed his desire to play overseas leagues for "fun".
The BCCI has barred active players from taking part in overseas T20 leagues and that is one of the reasons Yuvraj considered retirement - to make himself available for competitions around the world.
Last month, Irfan Pathan became the first Indian player to be included in the Caribbean Premier League draft though he remains an active first-class player and did not take prior permission from the BCCI. The BCCI had also withdrawn his brother Yusuf's NOC for participation in a Hong Kong T20 tournament two years ago. Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan, who had retired from international cricket, were allowed to be part of the T10 League in the UAE.
Yuvraj had said some days ago that he was looking forward to playing in foreign T20 leagues. He explained, “I want to play T20 cricket. At this age I can manage to play some kind of fun cricket. I want to go and enjoy my life. It's been too stressful just thinking about my international career, performing and big tournaments like the IPL.”
A source from the cricket board told PTI, “He wrote to the board yesterday. I don't see an issue in him getting the nod to play in overseas leagues now that he has retired from international cricket and IPL.”
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