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Virat Kohli Retains Number One Position In ICC Test Rankings

Virat Kohli, who led India to a semi-final finish on his first assignment as captain in a 50-over World Cup, has retained the top position in the ICC Test batsmen's rankings, released by the world cricket regulatory body on Tuesday. Virat Kohli is leading the chart with 922 points, just nine points ahead of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. With 881 points, Cheteshwar Pujara is the other Indian in top three of the ICC Test batsmen's rankings. In the ICC Test all-rounders' rankings, India's Ravindra Jadeja secured the third spot, behind West Indies' Jason Holder and Shakib Al Hasan of Bangladesh.

In the Test team rankings, India remained in top position followed by New Zealand (2) and South Africa (3) with England (4) and Australia (5) the others in the top five. In the bowlers' list, Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are sixth and 10th respectively.

Veteran England pacer James Anderson, who was overtaken by South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada in November last year and subsequently by the present No. 1 Pat Cummins of Australia, is ranked second.

Anderson's fellow England fast bowler Stuart Broad (19th) will be looking to retain a top-20 place, which he maintained since 2009, while Moeen Ali (25th, 621 points) is only 12 points behind his best ever rating points achieved in August 2017.

Captain Joe Root is the highest-ranked batsman on either side in sixth place while Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler are in 26th and 27th places, respectively.

For Ireland, Kevin O'Brien's scores of 40 and 118 on debut against Pakistan and a subsequent half-century against Afghanistan have lifted him to 68th place while Gary Wilson is 140th in the batting table.

Stuart Thompson is their highest-ranked bowler in 64th position with Tim Murtagh just two places behind. Boyd Rankin, who played one Test for England in 2014, would be looking to improve his 106th position.

India Bid For Final Berth Against Unstable New Zealand

Two-time champions India after proving their dominance in the league stage will look to brush aside New Zealand and book a final berth when the two sides face-off in the 1st semi-final at the Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday. All-round performances and some individual batting prowess saw India top the World Cup 2019 league stage. However, with the No.4 conundrum still unsolved and middle-order woes mounting, India will fancy their chances against an unstable New Zealand. The 2015 World Cup runners-up will be wary of India, specially after registering a slump in performances, during the concluding stage of the preliminary round.

India, whose league stage match against New Zealand was washed out, have suffered just one defeat at this World Cup so far, against England, and ended on top of the 10-team group stage, making them strong favourites to beat the Black Caps.

Opener Rohit Sharma became the first batsman to score five centuries in a single World Cup when he made 103 in a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Headingley on Saturday, while fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah has been the spearhead of a well-balanced bowling attack.

Meanwhile, India captain Virat Kohli is renowned for relishing the big occasion.

But if New Zealand, whose attack is set to feature experienced left-arm quick Trent Boult and fit-again fast bowler Lockie Ferguson -- can find a way through India's top three, they could expose a lengthy tail.

New Zealand, who only qualified for the semi-finals in fourth place on the basis of net run-rate, have lost their last three games -- against Pakistan, holders Australia and England.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, has been in fine form, making match-winning hundreds against South Africa and the West Indies.

But the rest of the top order have had a largely forgettable World Cup, with the Black Caps losing 13 wickets in the powerplay at just 23.38 each -- the worst record in the competition.

Williamson's 481 tournament runs represent nearly 29 percent of New Zealand's total at this World Cup.

Squads:

India: Lokesh Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Mayank Agarwal

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee, Tom Blundell, Ish Sodhi

Afghanistan Batsman Ikram Ali Khil Breaks Sachin Tendulkar's Long-Standing World Cup Record

Afghanistan batsman Ikram Ali Khil on Thursday broke cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar's long-standing record to become the youngest player to register a 80+ score in the World Cup history. Ikram Ali Khil, at the age of 18 years and 278 days notched up 86 runs in Afghanistan's last league match against West Indies, but failed to help his side end their winless run in the World Cup 2019. However, Ikram bettered Tendulkar's record, who had scored 81 runs at the age of 18 years and 318 days in a World Cup match against Zimbabwe in 1992.

Ikram Ali, who was included in Afghanistan's squad as injured Mohammad Shahzad's replacement, said he idolises former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara.

The wicketkeeper-batsman also said he is fond of Sangakkara's abilities to rotate strike and tries to imitate him.

"Kumar Sangakkara is always in mind and my thoughts when I am batting out there," Ikram was quoted as saying by cricketworldcup.com

"His ability to rotate strike and find a boundary when needed, that is what made him a world class batsman. That is what I try to copy as much as I can.

"I'm very proud to have broken the record of a legend like Tendulkar. It makes me very happy," he added.

The 18-year-old has made nine appearance for Afghanistan, scoring 148 runs at an average of 24.67. His knock of 86 runs in the losing cause for Afghanistan was also his best-ever score in the One-Day International (ODI) format.

Rohit Sharma Scores 4th Century In One World Cup, Most By Any Indian Batsman

Rohit Sharma, who has been in sublime form in World Cup 2019, scored his fourth century of the tournament against Bangladesh on Tuesday to break Sourav Ganguly's record of most centuries in one World Cup. The former India skipper Sourav Ganguly scored three centuries in 2003 World Cup. Rohit Sharma had notched up his previous centuries in the World Cup 2019 against hosts England, arch-rivals Pakistan and South Africa. With his fourth century, Rohit Sharma equalled the record for most centuries in a World Cup with Kumar Sangakkara. The former Sri Lankan skipper scored four consecutive centuries in a World Cup, achieved in the last tournament in 2015.

Rohit, who now has five World Cup centuries to his name, also surpassed Australian opener David Warner to become the highest run-scorer in the World Cup 2019. He started with a six in the first over but mistimed a pull off paceman Mustafizur Rahman only for Tamim Iqbal to drop a simple catch at deep mid-wicket with the batsman on nine.

Rohit, who scored a century in India's first World Cup defeat to hosts England on Sunday, hit another two sixes and four fours as India reached 87/0 at the end of 15 overs.

A win for Virat Kohli's India would ensure a semi-final spot in the 10-team event.

Bangladesh needs to win both of their final fixtures, against India and Pakistan, and hope results elsewhere go in their favour.

Shoaib Akhtar Calls Sarfaraz Ahmed 'Brainless Captain' After Loss To India

Former Pakistani fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar has criticised the Pakistan team for their poor show against arch-rivals India in the World Cup 2019 encounter. Riding on a hundred by the vice-captain Rohit Sharma and half centuries from Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, India beat Pakistan by 89 runs. Shoaib was critical of Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed and called him 'brainless' while explaining the outcome of the match that took place in Manchester on Sunday. Sarfaraz won the toss and sent India to bat first in the crucial game and the decision back-fired, giving Pakistan their third loss of World Cup 2019.

Shoaib said that Sarfaraz made similar sorts of mistakes that Kohli made during the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

"Like Virat Kohli sent Pakistan to bat on a good batting surface in Champions Trophy, Sarfaraz made the same mistake today. How can someone be so brainless as a captain? He didn't even think that we are not good at chasing down targets and opted to field first after winning the toss," Akhtar said.

The former fast-bowler further mentioned that Pakistan had won half the battle when the toss went in their favour. However, Sarfaraz tried hard to lose the match.

"When you've won the toss, you already had the upper hand in the game but you (Sarfaraz) tried hard to lose the game. Yet again brainless captaincy, brainless management, at the same time there was no thinking behind the scenes," Akhtar added.

The 43-year-old former Pakistan spearhead further elucidated that had Pakistan opted to bat first and put even 260 on the board, they would have been in the game. "If Pakistan had scored 260 batting first on that wicket, the scoreboard pressure could've played an important role and Pakistan might have ended up on the other side of the result," he said.

With the loss against India, Pakistan are now in a situation where they have to win every game and that too with a big margin to better their net run-rate and to stand any chance of advancing to the knockout stages of the tournament.

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