Firstpost Spodcast Episode 242: USA clinch FIFA Women's World Cup, Tajikistan stun India at Intercontinental Cup and more
In today's episode, we discuss USA's FIFA Women's World Cup triumph, India's defeat to Tajikistan at the Intercontinental Cup and cricket news from the World Cup and The Ashes
Welcome to Spodcast, the sports update on Firstpost.
In football news, the United States retained the women's World Cup on Sunday, defeating Netherlands 2-0. A Megan Rapinoe penalty and a Rose Lavelle struck once each to give the title holders a comfortable win in the final played in Lyon, prompting new questions over a potential visit to Donald Trump's White House.
Rapinoe scored the first goal 61 minutes into the match, kicking the ball from 12 yards to put the USA ahead. Eight minutes later, Lavelle set off on a piercing run towards the box, dropped her shoulder to set up the shooting opportunity, and fired in from 18 yards, making it 2-0. Sunday’s win underlines the USA's status as the dominant force in international women's football as they claimed the World Cup for the fourth time in eight editions.
Rapinoe ends the tournament with the Golden Ball for the best player ahead of England's Lucy Bronze and Lavelle, while also winning the Golden Boot as her six goals came from fewer minutes on the field than teammate Alex Morgan or England's Ellen White.
The US women’s team has also made headlines for their political stance. Rapinoe was in the news for also declaring she would boycott any team visit to the presidential mansion after the tournament. Coach Jill Ellis remained non-committal on whether the team would carry out the visit if invited, saying she "wouldn't bet" on an invite coming.
However, the US President put their spat to one side to congratulate the team, tweeting, "Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!"
Tajikistan scripted a sensational comeback to beat India 4-2 in the first match of the Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Defending champions India made the best start possible on the night with veteran Sunil Chhetri scoring a brace in the first-half but the visitors scored four goals in the second half, taking advantage of India's poor defending, to grab all three points from the first match.
Three minutes into the game, Mandar Rao Dessai played Lallianzuala Chhangte through inside the box. The left winger came under a heavy challenge as the referee pointed to the spot. Captain Chhetri stepped up to the spot and placed a Panenka into the top-right corner to hand India the early lead. He then put India two goals ahead just minutes before the half-time whistle, netting his 70th goal in International football.
The second half was very different. Tajikistan came out with great gusto, and pulled one back within just 10 minutes. Komron Tursonov was played through on goal, as he galloped past the defence. He also played a vital part in the second goal, as his cross from the right found Sheriddin Boboev who merely had to tap it in past the Indian goalie. Soon after, Muhammadjon Rahimov powered through the defence and slotted it past Gurpreet to make it 3-2 for Tajikistan. In the 75th minute, Panshanbe Ehsoni crossed it in for substitute Shahrom Samiev to volley it in, making it 4-2.
In cricket news, Australia head coach Justin Langer confirmed that batsman Usman Khawaja will miss the rest of the World Cup due to a hamstring strain. Khawaja suffered the left hamstring injury in Australia's surprise 10-run defeat by South Africa at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Mathew Wade is most likely to replace Khawaja in the Australian squad.
Langer said, “It's such a pity for Khawaja, for someone who's been so integral to how we've been playing. Like Shaun (Marsh, who broke his arm on Thursday) ...I feel that sad for him that he's going to miss the World Cup semi-final. Matthew Wade is coming up, he's in great form, he's had a great 12 or 18 months back home but he also just scored two hundreds (for Australia A) so he's in great nick.”
Marcus Stoinis too was hampered by a niggle in the match against South Africa, an issue which had already sidelined the all-rounder for two group-stage matches. Mitchell Marsh has been added to the squad as cover for Stoinis.
India’s opening batsman Rohit Sharma closed the gap to captain Virat Kohli at the top of ICC’s ODI batting chart on the back of his astonishing run of the form in the World Cup. Kohli's 442 runs at an average of 63.14 in the ongoing tournament, which included five half-centuries, gained him one point, taking him to 891 points. Rohit narrowed the gap between them from 51 points to only six after becoming the first batsman to score five centuries in the World Cup. His 885 points going into the semi-finals are his career-high.
Pakistan's Babar Azam moved up to the third place, just behind his career-high second place achieved in June 2018. David Warner has re-entered the top 10 at number six after a highly successful group stage at the World Cup where he scored 638 runs, just nine less than Rohit. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson's consistent efforts have seen him rise four places and re-enter the top-10 at eighth place while Australia's Usman Khawaja has risen to a career-high 15th place. England openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have both risen in the rankings with Roy reaching a career-best 13th place.
India are ruling the roost in ODI rankings with pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah extending his lead at the top from 21 points to 56 points. He has taken 17 wickets in the nine league matches at the World Cup. New Zealand's Trent Boult remained in the second spot after a memorable league phase that included a hat-trick against Australia, the first-ever in ODI cricket at Lord's. Pat Cummins of Australia is in third place. Afghanistan spinners Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Rashid Khan remain in the top-10 despite their team losing all matches at the World Cup. Mujeeb and Rashid are ranked 6th and 8th respectively.
Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan, who has had an amazing World Cup, remains the top all-rounder while England's Ben Stokes has gained nine places to reach second position. In ODI Team Rankings, England remain in the first position at 123 points but only ahead of India by a few decimal points.
As the 2019 Cricket World Cup enters its last week, the upcoming Ashes series looms large for England and Australia. In a scare for England’s Test team, bowling spearhead James Anderson has just under a month to prove his fitness for the first Ashes Test against Australia after suffering a "low-grade calf muscle tear" while playing for county side Lancashire.
Anderson, England's all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests, will miss Lancashire's next two County Championship matches against Northamptonshire and Sussex after leaving the field during a match against Durham on 2 July due to tightness in his right calf muscle. He underwent an MRI, after which the ECB said, “The MRI confirmed that Anderson has suffered a low-grade calf muscle tear. As a result of the injury, he will commence a rehabilitation programme with the England and Lancashire CCC medical teams...He will be reassessed on an ongoing basis regarding his availability for the Specsavers Test match versus Ireland at Lord's on July 24 and the Specsavers Ashes Series against Australia starting on 1 August."
Jimmy Anderson, who is no longer a part of England’s ODI team, has taken 575 wickets in 148 Tests, fourth in the all-time list of Test wicket-takers. The Ashes series begins two weeks after the end of the 2019 World Cup. Birmingham's Edgbaston will be the venue for the opening match of a five-Test series on 1 August.
Currently, Australia hold The Ashes trophy but they have not won a Test series in England since 2001.
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Midfielder Henry, 31, is one of the stars of women's football, winning six women's Champions Leagues over two spells with Lyon and playing 93 times for her country.
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