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After fighting it out over 42 games in the league stage, top eight teams are now up in arms against each other in the all-important quarterfinals of the ICC World Cup.

The near-flawless performances by India and New Zealand have ensured their quarterfinals berth while strong contenders including Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka have also managed to make the knockout stage after minor hiccups.

Pakistan and West Indies are the other quarter-finalists who managed to make the quarters cut by the skin of their teeth. But Bangladesh, ranked ninth in ODIs, remains the biggest surprise in the list of quarter-finalists.

Here's a look at the performance of the eight quarter-finalists in the World Cup so far:

India:

Quarterfinal Opponent: Bangladesh

The defending champions appeared nowhere close to being ready for the coveted World Cup especially after their horrid tour of Australia ahead of the tournament. But the MS Dhoni brigade surprised the fans and their opponents alike. The team that once appeared out of sorts on the quick wickets Down Under has recorded six consecutive wins in as many games. India stormed past arch-rivals Pakistan to kickstart their World Cup campaign with a win. The team bettered their spirited performance against Pakistan with a pulsating 130-run win over the sturdy South African brigade. Building on their winning momentum, Dhoni's men got the better of UAE, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe in their remaining four games. India's bowling unit that has often been criticized for failing to deliver over the past few years, has clearly made the difference. The Indian bowlers have also managed to take 60 wickets in their six games in the tournament so far. Their top finish in Pool B ensured India faced a weaker opponent in Bangladesh in their quarterfinals clash.

Top Batsman: Shikhar Dhawan has been India's most consistent batsmen in the World Cup so far. The left-hander, currently placed seventh in the list of leading run-scorers, has amassed 337 runs with two hundreds and a fifty in six games.

Top Bowler: Indian bowling spearhead Mohammed Shami has been prolific with the ball for his team. The right-arm seamer is currently placed second in the list of leading wicket-takers with his tally of 15 wickets in five matches.

New Zealand:

Quarterfinal Opponent: West Indies

The Brendon McCullum-led team was touted to deliver at home, but no one would have anticipated the Kiwis to dismantle the opposition with such ease in the tournament. The team has won all of their six games and is yet to be beaten in the World Cup. The Kiwis began their World Cup campaign with an emphatic 98-run win over experienced Sri Lanka. They went past Scotland and then humiliated England by eight-wickets in their third game. But, it was their thrilling one-wicket win over the mighty Australians that established themselves as the team to beat in the tournament. Later on, they hammered Afghanistan and Bangladesh with ease in their final two Pool games. Despite struggling with the bat on a few notable occasions, their consistent bowling unit has undoubtedly made a difference for New Zealand. Trent Boult and Tim Southee have been prolific in the pace attack while veteran Daniel Vettori has been at his usual best in the spin department. The team finished at the top in Pool A and will face West Indies in the quarterfinals.

Top Bowler: Trent Boult has been an absolute livewire with the ball for New Zealand. The left-arm bowler is currently placed third in the list of leading wicket-takers with 15 wickets in six games in the tournament so far.

Top Batsman: Opening batsman Martin Guptill leads the honours for New Zealand. The right-hander has scored 261 runs including one hundred and a fifty in the tournament.

South Africa:
  
Quarterfinal Opponent: Sri Lanka

The Proteas, who've been relatively unlucky in the World Cup history, were expected to get rid of the 'chokers' tag under the reigns of pragmatic AB de Villiers this time around. But the team, who displayed strong performances ahead of the tournament, cracked under pressure against India following their easy win over Zimbabwe in the opening game. However, the Proteas came back strong to post a mammoth 257-run win over West Indies in their third game. The team also crushed the Irishmen by 201 runs in their fourth game but failed to edge-past the spirited Pakistani brigade in their fifth match. South Africa defeated UAE in their last game and finished second in Pool B. The team boasts a strong batting line-up and arguably one of the most deadly bowling attacks in the world of cricket. But, their never-ending dependency on AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn has often led to their downfall in the tournament. The Proteas will have to be at their prolific best if they intend to sneak past the experienced Sri Lankan side in the quarterfinals.

Top Batsman: The South African batting sensation AB de Villiers has been the major driving force behind his team's success in the tournament. The Proteas captain has amassed 417 runs in six games including one hundred and two fifties. He is currently placed third in the list of leading run-scorers in the tournament.

Top Batsman: Morne Morkel has been leading from the front in the bowling department. The lanky seamer has scalped 13 wickets in his six games so far.

Australia:

Quarterfinal Opponent: Pakistan

The four-time World champions have been near-flawless in the tournament so far. The Michael Clarke-led side began their campaign with a comfortable 111-run win over England. They were a bit too unlucky to share the points with Bangladesh after their second game was abandoned due to unrelenting rain. Their World Cup campaign hit a major roadblock when they suffered a close one-wicket loss against New Zealand. However, the team bounced back with a crucial 64-run win over Sri Lanka. The men from Down Under finished the Pool stage with a clinical seven-wicket win over Scotland. The team finished second in Pool A with nine points. With the quarterfinal scheduled in Adelaide, the Michael Clarke brigade will fancy their chances against Pakistan at home.

Top Batsman: The batting department hasn't really clicked for Australia so far, but destructive opening batsman David Warner has turned out to be the leading run-scorer for his team in the tournament. The left-hander has scored 264 runs including a hundred in five games.

Top Bowler: Mitchell Starc is arguably the most influential player for Australia in the tournament. The left-arm seamer has taken 16 wickets in five games and is currently leading the list of top wicket-takers in the tournament.

Pakistan:

Quarterfinal Opponent: Australia

The Pakistan cricket team embarked on their World Cup journey amid poor form and serious injury woes. And their mediocre performance against arch-rivals India in the opening game didn't really help their cause. The team continued to struggle and lost their second game to West Indies by 150 runs. Their first win of the tournament came against minnows Zimbabwe and the team managed to win all of their remaining three games. The Misbah-ul-Haq brigade registered their major win against South Africa in a rain-inflicted tie. Their seven-wicket win against Ireland in the do-or-die clash ensured Pakistan qualified for the knockout stage by the skin of their teeth. Pakistan will be counting on their winning momentum when they lock horns with mighty Australians in the quarterfinals tie.

Top Batsman: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has been the most consistent batsman for his team in the tournament so far. The right-handed batsman has amassed 316 runs including four fifties in six games.

Top Bowler: Wahab Riaz has turned out to be a lethal weapon for Pakistan in the World Cup. The left-arm seamer has taken 14 wickets at an economy rate of 5.49 in six games.

Sri Lanka:

Quarterfinal Opponent: South Africa

The Lankan brigade, marred with injury woes, has stormed into the World Cup quarterfinals after an excellent run in the final few games of the league stage. The subcontinent giants suffered an early hiccup after their 98-run loss against New Zealand in their opening game. The team came back strong to win their next three games against Afghanistan, Bangladesh and England. However, their winning run came to an end against the gritty Australian side after their 64-run defeat. Angelo Mathews-led side finished off the league stage with a big win against Scotland. With eight points in six games, Sri Lanka finished third in Pool A and qualified for the knockout stage. The Lankans will be counting on their consistent batting line-up to come good against South Africa in the all-important quarterfinals.

Top Batsman: Kumar Sangakkara has been in the form of his life for Sri Lanka in the tournament. The left-hander has amassed 496 runs alongside the record of four consecutive hundreds in ODIs. The 37-year-old veteran is currently leading the list of top run-scorers in the tournament.

Top Bowler: As expected, deceiving seamer Lasith Malinga has come out on top in the bowling department for the Lankans. The right-arm bowler has taken 11 wickets - most by a Sri Lankan bowler in the tournament so far.

West Indies:

Quarterfinal Opponent: New Zealand

The two-time World Cup champions have struggled to get going in the World Cup this time around. The team, in the absence of star players Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, has looked mediocre in the league stage. The Jason Holder-led side was shocked by Ireland in their opening game. But the team bounced back to post a 150-run win against Pakistan in their second match. Their losses against South Africa and India made the quarterfinals' berth a distant dream for the Caribbean giants. And the team had to rely on Pakistan's win over Ireland alongside their triumph over UAE to make the knockout stage. Though New Zealand appear clear favourites to win against West Indies, their unpredictable nature on play will remain a major area of concern for the Kiwis.

Top Batsman: Jamaican powerhouse Chris Gayle has been the most consistent batsman for West Indies in the tournament so far. The destructive left-handed batsman has scored 279 runs including the breathtaking knock of 215 runs against Zimbabwe. He is also the leading run-scorer for West Indies in the tournament.

Top Bowler: Jerome Taylor has turned out to be a major force for West Indies in the bowling department. The right-arm seamer has scalped 14 wickets with an economy of 5.08 in the tournament so far. He is currently ranked fifth in the list of leading wicket-takers in the World Cup.

Bangladesh:

Quarterfinal Opponent: India

Bangladesh, a team ranked ninth in the ODIs, has been a major revelation in the World Cup. The team faced an uphill battle against Australia in their opening game but the rain helped the minnows in snatching a point away. Sri Lanka was too hot to handle for Bangladesh in their second game but the Mashrafe Mortaza's men came back strong against Scotland to regain the momentum. Their biggest win in the tournament came against struggling England who were humbled by 15 runs. The win boosted their chances of making the quarters and despite losing their last game to New Zealand, the spirited Bangladeshi side finished fourth in Pool A to enter the knockout stage. After a stellar performance in the league stage, Bagladesh now find themselves up against the in-form Indian team in the quarterfinals.

Top Batsman: Mohammad Mahmudullah has been a crucial find for Bangladesh and his performances in the league stage only makes the case stronger. The right-hander, who recently became the first Bangladeshi batsman to score a World Cup hundred, has amassed 344 runs including two hundreds and a fifty in five matches. He is currently placed sixth in the list of leading run-scorers in the tournament.

Top Bowler: Shakib Al Hasan has been the leading wicket-taker for Bangladesh in the World Cup so far. The 27-year-old all-rounder has takes seven wickets at an economy of 5.03 in the tournament.

 

Source- India Today

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The UAE will host the competition for the second time having previously held the event in 1996.
 
Iran was the only other country to present a final bid for the tournament after nine others dropped out at various stages in the process.
 
“I would like to congratulate the UAE Football Association on their successful bid to host the AFC Asian Cup 2019,” AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said.
 
The UAE won the right unanimously.
 
“The AFC executive committee was convinced by the merits of the UAE bid. I firmly believe that the UAE FA will host a tournament that could match and potentially even surpass the stunning AFC Asian Cup 2015 in Australia that we have all just witnessed.”
 
The UAE bid proposed to organise the tournament in three cities: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Al-Ain.
 
The 2015 edition in Australia in January, won by the hosts, is to be the last tournament of 16 teams.
 
In the UAE in 2019 it will increase to 24.
 

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Virat kohli

Virat is a national heartthrob. The young and the mighty star of the Indian team is very popular in the field. With 11 centuries under his belt, he is only behind Sachin Tendulkar. Beside this great achievement , he also have the honour of being one of the most stylish guys in the team.With ever changing funky hairstyles and tattoed arms, no wonder he got a hot Bollywood star girlfriend.

Chris Gayle

When Chris Gayle walks on the field the crowd can’t wait to see what he has in store for them. Being huge in size Gayle knocks those sixes with sheer force. The Gayleforce as he is known has scored two triple centuries for the West Indies team with such ease. No matter what team you support, this man is a treat to watch.

Dale Steyn

Whether you are a cricket fan or not you will want to watch South Africa play because of this hunk. This bowler is one of the fastest bowlers in cricket today.

Shahid Afridi

Due to his aggressive batting style he is known as Boom Boom Afridi. Having hit the most number of sixes in the history of ODI’s, Afridi is one of the most experienced players on the Pakistani Team.

Michael Clarke

He is the very able captain of the Australian team. Having won the Cricketer of the Year title, this is someone to look out for this year.

AB de Villiers

He is currently considered the best batsman in the world so we will all be watching when he steps on the field.

Brendon Mccullum

Captain and opening batsman for New Zealand, he is known for his fast scoring rate. This wicket-keeper/ batsman keeps the surprises coming.

Shane Watson

With his silky hair bouncing while he bowls, this previously injured star is bringing it all back this world cup. Being the highest paid Australian cricketer, he sure has got game.

Moeen Ali

This English cricketer of Pakistani descent is often referred to as “The Beard That’s Feared”. Watch out for those off-spins.

MS Dhoni

No list can be complete without MSD. He captained the Indian team that won the world cup in 2011 and we have big hopes from him now in 2015.

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Trent Boult led the charge of the New Zealand fast bowlers into cricket's Indian Premier League and nearly became a shock instant millionaire on another remarkable auction night.

The Black Caps left-armer's dreams came true with an $814,000 contract with Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the chance to partner South African speedster Dale Steyn in the tournament starting on April 9.

Boult is sixth on the world test bowling rankings, but it was still scarcely believable stuff as his price skyrocketed in a bidding war, from a reserve of 5 million rupees (NZ$107,000).

And he took some team-mates with him, which underlined the strength of the country's fast bowling stocks. Adam Milne ($150,000 to the Daniel Vettori-coached Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Mitchell McClenaghan ($64,000 to the Ricky Ponting-coached Mumbai Indians) also secured first-time IPL deals.

Another first-timer, in-form batsman Kane Williamson, will join Boult at Hyderabad after he was sold for $129,000 which appeared a bargain for the team's Australian coach Tom Moody. The Sunrisers went on a buying spree, purchasing Kevin Pietersen, England captain Eoin Morgan and allrounder Ravi Bopara, with Steyn and David Warner already on their books.

Allrounder Jimmy Neesham ($107,000 to Kolkata) was the fifth New Zealander signed on the night, boosting the overall contingent to nine after Brendon McCullum and Matt Henry (Chennai), Corey Anderson (Mumbai) and Tim Southee (Rajasthan) were retained.

There was bad news for Ross Taylor and Luke Ronchi who were the two unluckiest of the 13 Kiwis to be unsold, but they can earn a reprieve in the second round as franchises reassess what funds they have left.

There would have been surreal scenes at the New Zealand team hotel in Dunedin as the players huddled around screens to follow the action live from Bangalore, on the eve of their Cricket World Cup match against Scotland in a case of highly bizarre timing from IPL organisers.

After Williamson went for a lower-than-expected price, Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh went for an IPL record $3.4 million to Delhi Daredevils. Then Taylor and Ronchi were passed over, and it looked a flat night for the New Zealanders until Boult loomed.

It was shades of a year ago when Anderson nearly became an instant millionaire, too, as he landed a $866,000 deal with Mumbai.

 

Boult attracted immediate interest. Vettori's Bangalore upped the ante to R30 million, and Ponting's Mumbai pulled out. Then Hyderabad came in, engaging in a bidding war with Bangalore before the Sunrisers got their man for R38 million.

Boult timed his run brilliantly in recent weeks, bowling superbly in the Black Caps' January ODI series and swinging the ball at pace. He snared a five-wicket bag against South Africa in their World Cup warmup match then showed his ability to dismiss class players with the vital wicket of Kumar Sangakkara in his haul of 2-64 on Saturday.

The IPL opens on April 9 and finishes on May 25, meaning Boult will have to cut short his stint in India to join the Black Caps in England for their two-test series starting at Lord's on May 21.

Other New Zealanders to miss out were Grant Elliott, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Hamish Rutherford, Anton Devcich and Hamish Bennett, while Martin Guptill and Jesse Ryder were among those who didn't appear on the auction list.

A few other big names didn't attract a bid, including Sri Lankan stars Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, South Africa's Hashim Amla and England power hitter Alex Hales.

Source- Stuff.co.nz

 

 

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With the World Cup around the corner, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar gave batsmen in international cricket a peek into his mantra for success while batting in the challenging conditions and wickets of Australia and New Zealand.

One of the most decorated cricketers in the history of the game, Tendulkar played in six World Cups from 1992 to 2011. The one in 1992 was his maiden appearance at the quadrennial extravaganza.

"Perth and Brisbane are renowned for their fast and bouncy wickets that will easily expose inexperience. Both, batsmen and bowlers have low margins for errors. As a batsman, if you understand the pace and bounce, then you could get on top of the bowling," Tendulkar wrote in his World Cup column for ICC.

He added: "For the bowler, the good-length spot is smaller in area on these wickets and the batsman can capitalise if the line and length falters. But if they extract bounce from the good length areas, then it would make the batsman's life difficult."

The 41-year-old, who retired from international cricket in November 2013, cautioned the batsmen to be wary of the wind factor in New Zealand.

"In New Zealand, batsmen will have to beware of the windy conditions due to the geographical locations of some of the venues. The wind sometimes can be strong enough to seriously affect a batsman's timing, playing against the wind your back lift is faster but the down-swing is considerably slow, while the ball is coming on faster ? and vice-versa from the other end."

Tendulkar is the most successful batsman in ICC's pinnacle event with 2,278 runs in 45 matches, including 482 runs in nine matches in India's successful campaign in the 2011 World Cup. He spoke about the ground shapes and long boundaries in Australia and New Zealand.

Source- DNA India