Firstpost Spodcast Episode 233: Bangladesh boost bid to reach World Cup 2019 semi-finals, Rafa Benitez sacked by Newcastle and more
In today's episode, we discuss Bangladesh's win over struggling Afghanistan, Andre Russell's chronic knee injury, Rafa Benitez's sacking and more.
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
Bangladesh boosted their bid to reach the World Cup semi-finals another superb performance by Shakib Al Hasan took them to a 62-run win over Afghanistan on Monday. Shakib scored 51 runs, becoming the leading run-scorer in this year's World Cup, and then ripped through the Afghan batting line-up with his career-best ODI figures of 5/29 from 10 overs.
Liton Das was promoted ahead of Soumya Sarkar to open the Bangladesh batting along with Tamim Iqbal. They put on a brisk 23 runs in the first four overs but Liton in the next over. That brought Shakib to the crease, and he upped the tempo with some aggressive hitting that maintained his fine World Cup form. Tamim and Shakib put on their fourth successive fifty partnership in one-day internationals while Shakib brought up his half-century in 66 balls, and also become only the second player to hit six consecutive 40-plus scores in a World Cup. Mushfiqur Rahim top-scored with 83 from 87 balls as Bangladesh finished with 262/7.
Afghanistan's chase began pretty well. Rahmat Shah and skipper Gulbadin put on 49 for the first wicket, raising hopes of an upset. But Shakib's introduction brought the breakthrough as the spinner weaved his magic. Rahmat carelessly flicked a flatter delivery to Tamim Iqbal at mid-on and departed for 24. Just 10 runs came from the next five overs and Hashmatullah Shahidi perished when he tried to accelerate, stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim off Mosaddek Hossain for 11. Gulbadin was dismissed for 47 by while Mohammad Nabi was bowled for a duck. Shakib became the first Bangladesh player to take five wickets in the World Cup when he had Najibullah Zadran stumped in the 43rd over. Samiullah Shinwari was the only other batsman to put up a fight as he scored 49 from 51 balls. Bangladesh eventually dismissed Afghanistan for 200 in 47 overs.
Bangladesh, who defeated South Africa and the West Indies earlier in the tournament, are now in fifth place in the 10-team group stage. They are one point behind fourth-placed England, who face Australia on Tuesday, in the race to seal a semi-final berth via a top-four finish.
West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, who has been struggling with a chronic knee injury over the last five years, has been ruled out of the World Cup after exacerbating that injury.
The Jamaican has visibly played through pain in a few matches in the tournament and even limped off the field in the defeat against England after bowling only two overs.
Russell dropped to the ground at the end of the 11th over, his second, after directing a short-pitch ball at England opener Jonny Bairstow. He left the field and didn't bowl another over. He returned soon afterwards, playing in the match that the WIndies lost to Bangladesh, where he was dismissed for a duck and then bowled six overs.
It did seem for a while that Dre Rus could make a comeback but he was dropped for the match against New Zealand. He will now be replaced by 26-year-old Sunil Ambris, who has played six One-Day Internationals for West Indies.
They are set to take on India on Thursday.
In football news, Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United after three years as manager when his contract expires next week, the Premier League club confirmed on Monday. Benitez, who won the Champions League when in charge of Liverpool in 2005, has been reportedly offered a contract worth £12 million-a-year at Chinese club Dalian Yifang.
Newcastle's statement said, "It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019...We have worked hard to extend Rafa's contract over a significant period of time, however, it has not been - and will not be - possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives. We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved."
Despite failing to keep Newcastle in the top flight shortly after taking over, Benitez became a hero as he led Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, and then stabilised the club by finishing 10th and 13th in the last two seasons.
However, the Spaniard did not hide his displeasure at the lack of backing he was afforded by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley.
India's ace men's singles player Prajnesh Gunneswaran sailed into the second round of the Antalya Open ATP 250 tournament with a straight-set win over Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia in Antalya, Turkey on Monday.
Gunneswaran, ranked 94th in the ATP chart, easily defeated the 286-ranked Tipsarevic 6-0 7-6 in the first round. Gunneswaran's brilliant performance against Tipsarevic, once ranked eighth in the world, would do his confidence a world of good ahead of his second-round clash, in which he will meet the winner of the match between American qualifier JC Aragone and Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain.
Meanwhile, Ramakumar Ramanathan entered the second round of the men's singles qualifiers at Wimbledon in London, but it was curtains for compatriot Saket Myneni. Ramanathan quelled the challenge of Lukas Lacko of Slovenia 6-3 6-2 in his opening round match, and will face Kamil Majchrzak of Poland in the second round. Myneni fought hard for two hours and 22 minutes before going down 4-6 6-4 5-7 against Guillermo Garcia Lopez of Spain.
Despite the absence of their main forwards, Chelsea tore apart bottom of the table Norwich at Stamford Bridge to move two points clear at the top.
The Guardian newspaper reported 18 clubs voted in favour of the ban at an emergency meeting on Monday, with Newcastle voting against and Manchester City abstaining. It is understood that both questioned the legality of the move.
Klopp expects Newcastle to fulfil their ambitions eventually, but he suggested it might be a rocky road to the top because money alone cannot guarantee success.