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India win Test series as Australia force draw in Ahmedabad




Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia draw the fourth and final test against India on Monday, as the home side retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 series victory in Ahmedabad.

India took a 91-run first innings lead on Sunday to put themselves in an unbeatable position heading into the final day of the only test in the series that lasted the full five days.

Australia declared on 175-2, batting resolutely to frustrate India, who have held the trophy since 2016-17 and registered their 16th consecutive home series victory.

Head made 90 and forged a 139-run stand with Labuschagne, who made 63 not out, before players from both sides shook hands at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

India also confirmed their place in the World Test Championship final against Australia in June following Sri Lanka’s two-wicket loss to New Zealand in Christchurch earlier in the day.

“It was fantastic right from the word go,” India captain Rohit Sharma said of the series at the presentation ceremony.

“You saw how exciting it was. In all the test matches that we played, there was something in it for every one.

“After playing good cricket for 40-45 days, we stand here with the result, which we are quite happy with.”

India’s hopes of a third victory in the series hinged on a batting collapse but the wicket in Ahmedabad did not deteriorate as much as their spinners would have liked.

Australia had sent out Matt Kuhnemann to open the innings with Head on Sunday after Usman Khawaja hurt his knee while fielding.

Kuhnemann, who faced 35 balls for his six runs, was unlucky to be given lbw to a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery which, replays confirmed, would have missed the stumps.

Axar Patel denied Head a century by hitting the top of his off stump with a ball from the rough but Australia had reached safety by then.

India let batters Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara to roll their arms just for fun on a track where only 22 wickets fell in five days.

“That was a pretty flat wicket that one,” said Australia’s stand-in captain Steve Smith.

“It was a really well fought series. I think we started to play a lot better as the series went on.”

Smith led Australia in the last two tests after regular captain Pat Cummins flew home to be with his mother who passed away last week.

Virat Kohli was adjudged player-of-the-match for his painstaking 186, his first test hundred since November 2019.

Indian spinners Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who claimed a combined 47 wickets, shared the player-of-the-series award.

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Ronaldo leads the way for Portugal while England extend winning run – ARN News Centre





Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed two goals in his country’s 6-0 thrashing of Luxembourg in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday, giving them a second win in four days.

The 38-year-old grabbed a double against Liechtenstein on Thursday and scored twice more in Luxembourg to extend his record tally of international goals to 122 in 198 appearances.

Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Otavio and Rafael Leao added the other goals to put Portugal top of Group J after an easy start to their qualifying campaign.

Elsewhere, Harry Kane underlined his status as England’s greatest international goalscorer and Bukayo Saka dazzled again in a comfortable 2-0 win over Ukraine to put Gareth Southgate’s team in control of Group C.

Fresh from scoring his 54th goal in the 2-1 victory over Italy on Thursday, Kane made up for a couple of missed chances to break the stalemate in the 37th minute.

Arsenal youngster Saka, again England’s brightest spark, then doubled the lead before halftime with a sensational curler that left the visitors and their 4,000 fans deflated.

Ukraine had their moments and enjoyed some pressure after the interval but never really looked capable of claiming only a second victory over England in 10 attempts.

Meanwhile, goals by forward Mateo Retegui and midfielder Matteo Pessina steered Italy to a 2-0 win over Malta in the other Group C clash.

Italy opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Retegui broke free from his marker to power in a header from a corner with Pessina doubling the lead after 27 minutes when he tapped Emerson’s cross in from a short distance.

Vincenzo Grifo was close to make it three for the visitors shortly after but Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello skilfully blocked his attempt.

Italy came close to increasing their lead in the second half when Gianluca Scamacca produced an overhead kick from a corner but Bonello came to the rescue again with a one-handed reaction save.

Other matches in the second round saw Slovakia beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0, Iceland crush Liechtenstein 7-0, Kazakhstan overcome Denmark 3-2, Slovenia beat San Marino 2-0, and Finland edge Northern Ireland 1-0.

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Argentina FA training facility renamed after Messi – ARN News Centre





The Argentina national team’s training facility has been renamed after talismanic captain Lionel Messi in recognition of his World Cup heroics and star-studded career, the country’s football association (AFA) said.

The Casa de Ezeiza in Buenos Aires, which houses the national team set-up, will now be known as Lionel Andres Messi “in tribute to the best player in the world”, AFA president Claudio Tapia wrote on Twitter.

“Welcome to the world champion’s house,” Tapia said at the unveiling ceremony attended by current and former Argentina players.

Messi ended Argentina’s 36-year wait for the World Cup, emulating the late Diego Maradona when he led them to victory against France in a pulsating final in Qatar in December.

“I feel very happy. This tribute is very, very special,” Messi, 35, said after unveiling the plaque bearing his name. “Knowing it will be named Lionel Andres Messi is something very beautiful.”

The World Cup had been the one piece of silverware missing from Messi’s extraordinary career, during which he has been voted the world’s best player a record seven times and won the Copa America, 11 league titles and four Champions League titles among other major honours.

Messi scored his 800th career goal in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Panama in a friendly in Buenos Aires – Argentina’s first game in front of their home fans since the World Cup triumph.

He will lead Argentina in a friendly against Curacao on Tuesday before returning to club duty with Paris St Germain.

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Late Joselu double helps Spain beat Norway 3-0 in Euro qualifier – ARN News Centre





Spain’s late substitute Joselu struck two quick-fire goals on his debut to seal a 3-0 win over Norway in their first Euro 2024 Group A qualifier on Saturday as they got off to a promising start under new manager Luis de la Fuente.

Spain, who have won their last 23 European home qualifiers, took the lead in the 13th minute through Dani Olmo, who flicked the ball into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot after being set up by defender Alejandro Balde.

Norway tried to respond two minutes later when Martin Odegaard’s strike was blocked by Nacho, who returned to the Spain team after a near five-year absence.

Striker Alvaro Morata was close to doubling their lead in the 25th but the newly-appointed Spain captain was seconds late to latch onto a low cross by Olmo.

Norway could have levelled just before the half-hour mark with a powerful first-time shot by Fredrik Aursnes but Spain keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, returning for his first cap since October 2020, showed quick reflexes to parry the ball.

Spain, rebuilding with 61-year-old De la Fuente following a last-16 World Cup exit to eventual semi-finalists Morocco, continued to press as they were less focused on possession and much more on going straight for the opposing goal.

This proved enough against a motivated Norway side who nonetheless lacked bite up front in the absence of the injured Erling Haaland and spurned several more chances including from Marcus Pedersen and Alexander Sorloth in the second half.

Spain could only relax however when they doubled their lead in the 84th minute as striker Joselu nodded in a brilliant cross by midfielder Fabian Ruiz three minutes after coming on.

The 32-year-old struck again a minute later to make it 3-0 for the Euro 2020 semi-finalists from a rebound.

He became the first Spanish player to score twice on his debut since Fernando Morientes’ double against Sweden in 1998.

“I have to thank (the coach) for the faith he’s shown in me in his first match in charge. I tried to give my all to reward him,” Joselu said.

“Right now I feel like an 18-year-old kid again. I don’t think age matters – and this is an incredible day to prove that.”

De la Fuente, who previously managed Spain youth teams and saw them win Under-19 and Under-21 European Championships in 2015 and 2019, was happy with his side’s display.

“Besides, the attitude I’ve seen, the desire to win, makes me very optimistic,” he said.

Spain next face Scotland in Glasgow on Tuesday when Norway travel to Georgia.

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