x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sharad Pawar: World Cup may be most dramatic ever

World Cup news Cricket's governing body says critics of the 50-over format have been proved wrong.

COLOMBO // Cricket's governing body says critics of the 50-over format have been proved wrong by the ongoing World Cup that is shaping as the "greatest and most dramatic ever."

Sharad Pawar, the president of the International Cricket Council, says television audience figures for the tournament have set records. Combined with crowd figures, one-day international cricket "demonstrates the enduring appeal of the 50-over game."

Pawar said: "I have no doubt that it will continue to grow from strength to strength in the future."

Critics have been predicting the demise of the 50-over game since the advent of Twenty20 but, Pawar added: "They have been proven wrong."

Pakistan captain says team is blessed with talent

Pakistan takes momentum and confidence into Wednesday's first World Cup quarter-final against a West Indies team lacking in both.

"Despite all the problems, Pakistan is blessed with talent," the captain Shahid Afridi said of the off-field controversies going into the tournament.

"It's because of this talent that we are a dangerous team and can win against anyone. We now hope to carry on the momentum."

It is a different story for the West Indies who lost their last two Group B matches — including their capitulation against England — before stumbling into the knockout stages.

"The good thing is that it's not the knockout stage," Darren Sammy, the captain, said of his team's group stage failures. "If that happens [from now] then we will be going home.

"It is a worrying thing for us but I still back the calibre of players we have. Once we put our heads down and play each ball on its merit we could come up with better shots. That's something we must correct and correct very quickly."

Worry over fitness of Murali ahead of England quarter-final

Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, has said Muttiah Muralitharan's recover from a hamstring injury will be vital against England in Sunday's quarter-final.

Muralitharan had to leave the field twice at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium last Friday before capturing four for 25 in Sri Lanka's 153-run win against New Zealand.

"Murali did a pretty OK job bowling off one leg and getting us all those wickets. He bowled beautifully," Sangakkara said.

"Murali's done it before with an injury in Australia and he nearly won us a game there. Here it was something special, it shows how hungry he is to play and do well."

Du Plessis: South Africa fears nobody

Faf du Plessis says South Africa should have too much depth in every department for their quarter-final opponents New Zealand to counter, providing his team can maintain form.

The Proteas emerged as Group B winners to set up Friday's knockout match with New Zealand.

Du Plessis acknowledged that New Zealand could be dangerous but said that he isn't "too worried about what they've got." The all-rounder added: "If we play to our full ability, we're confident we'll win the quarter-final."