Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB) — Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) defending champions Rangpur Riders will take on Chittagong Vikings in the first match of the latest edition of the league.
Before the tournament, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, the Rangpur Riders captain, said they are confident about a good start.
“We have a balanced team. We won the title last year, so there is a high expectation around. But I think we have a better team compared to the last one,” he told reporters on Friday during practice session.
Chris Gayle played the pivotal role for the Riders in the last season. He hit 146 off 69 balls, helping the Riders beat Dhaka Dynamites by 57 runs.
The Caribbean batting-star will feature for the Riders this year as well though he is yet to join the camp. But a source confirmed UNB that Gayle might come before the first match and will take the field.
Riders secured the service of Alex Hales, who already joined them and is set to play from the first match. They also have AB de Villiers in their team but he will join from the Sylhet phase of the league, scheduled to start from January 15.
Mashrafe won four of last five BPL seasons as the captain which might be a plus point for the Riders. But, Masrhafe believes it is nothing but a matter of pressure on the team.
“We always had to start the tournament with a lot of pressure, especially when you go to defend the title. There is no guarantee of winning the title just by assembling a good team on paper. We have to start the tournament in a positive manner,” Mashrafe said.
Chittagong Vikings are confident this time although they finished the last edition at the bottom of the points table.
Mushfiqur Rahim, the former captain of Bangladesh team, will lead the Vikings. “We have some young cricketers in our squad who can change the match at any time and who are effective in the T20 format. We are eager to do something memorable this time,” he said on Friday during the practice.
Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB) — Runners-up Dhaka Dynamites will take on Rajshahi kings in their first Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) match on Saturday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
Dynamites’ all-rounder Andre Russel on Friday said this edition of BPL would be competitive.
Dhaka won the league in 2016 but failed to retain the title and lost the final by 57 runs to Rangpur Riders. Chris Gayle, the Caribbean explosive batsman, hit a tremendous innings of 146 off 69 balls which let Dhaka down in the match.
“I think we have a good team. Our expectation is still to win ... we have to start on the right foot first,” Russell said.
Shakib Al Hasan, the star all-rounder, will play an important role in his team’s success this season. Russell was full of praise for his teammate.
“Shakib is a very good skipper. I have played with him at KKR and Jamaica Tallawahs as well. He plays hard and at times he may get grumpy, and that’s how the captains are,” Russell said.
On the other hand, Lance Klusner, the Kings head coach, said they are not bothered about other teams.
“I am not trying to put too much attention to other teams. I think our focus will be on ourselves. Obviously, there are some really good teams out there and there is no easy game. But our focus will be on ourselves and what we can do to try and win the games,” he said.
Rajshahi finished the last BPL second from the bottom of the points table. But they are confident enough to show their prowess.
“We have got a good bowling attack. It’s just about finding the balance, and we have lots of variety so that’s something is an advantage for us,” Klusner said. “At the same time, we have some wonderful batters, and we will try to look at some decent scores to defeat."
Chicago, Jan 5 (AP/UNB) — Two goals away from reaching 100 for her career, forward Alex Morgan is on the roster for the U.S. women's national team as it opens training camp ahead of the World Cup in France this summer.
Morgan was among 26 players named to the roster by coach Jill Ellis on Friday. The defending champions leave for Portugal on Saturday and will play a pair of exhibition matches against France and Spain later in the month.
Tierna Davidson, Kelley O'Hara and McCall Zerboni have returned to the team following injuries. Davidson broke her ankle in September while playing for Stanford. Zerboni fractured her elbow in a match for the U.S. team against Chile, and O'Hara is coming off ankle surgery.
Ellis included four goalkeepers in the camp: Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher are joined by Jane Campbell and Adrianna Franch. Campbell, returning after her last call-up in April, has three appearances with the team while Franch is still looking for her first cap.
Also included was defender Emily Fox, coming off her sophomore season at North Carolina. She made her first two appearances with the United States in November.
"We recognize that we have formally entered a World Cup year and I know the players' focus and enthusiasm will reflect the importance of the work we have to do in January," Ellis said in a statement Friday.
The roster by position, with club affiliation.
Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride) and Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Tierna Davidson (Stanford), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage), Emily Fox (North Carolina), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars) and Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns).
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage) and McCall Zerboni (NC Courage).
FORWARDS: Tobin Heath (Portland Thorn), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Utah Royals), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign).
Barcelona, Jan 5 (AP/UNB) — Borja Iglesias scored early to help Espanyol beat Leganes 1-0 and end a six-game losing streak in the Spanish league on Friday.
Espanyol hadn't won since Nov. 5 and would have set a record for longest losing run in the history of the Barcelona-based club with another defeat.
Iglesias scored with a ninth-minute header after David Lopez's long strike hit the crossbar.
Espanyol forward Leo Baptistao squandered two good chances to put the result beyond doubt, but the hosts' defense kept Leganes, which was unbeaten in seven games, from seriously threatening.
Leganes' Gerard Gumbau was sent off with a second yellow card in stoppage time for a dangerous high kick on Hernan Perez.
"It wasn't our best day today, but we were coming off a bad streak that we probably didn't deserve," said striker Iglesias after scoring his ninth league goal.
Also, defender Jorge "Coke" Andujar scored late to give 10-man Levante a 2-2 home draw with Girona.
Girona led twice and had the numerical advantage from the 69th after Sergio Postigo received his second booking.
Birkenhead, Jan 5 (AP/UNB) — Tottenham recorded the biggest away win in club history on Friday as Fernando Llorente scored a hat trick to help crush fourth-tier Tranmere 7-0 in the third round of the FA Cup.
Tranmere held out until right back Serge Aurier got Tottenham rolling with a shot from 25 meters (27 yards) five minutes before halftime.
Aurier, returning from a groin issue that had sidelined him for eight matches, powerfully struck a swerving shot into the corner of the net for his first of two goals.
Son Heung-min led Tottenham's attack throughout the match and set up Llorente and Aurier early in the second half before making it 4-0 with a goal of his own in the 57th.
Llorente then added back-to-back goals in the 71st and 72nd and late substitute Harry Kane showed no mercy by capping the demolition.
It was Kane's 159th goal for Tottenham, tying him with Cliff Jones for fourth on the club's career scoring list.
Llorente was making his second start of the season. It was his second hat trick for Tottenham after also scoring three times against Rochdale last season in a FA Cup fifth-round replay.
"I am so, so pleased because the team is performing very well away from home, they're showing great character," said coach Mauricio Pochettino, whose team is third in the Premier League.
Pochettino made eight changes to his starting lineup from Tuesday's win over Cardiff City.
"I'm happy today because we keep (up) the level and we keep going in that competition which is important for the club," Pochettino said. "It's so important to manage the squad to try and give some rest to the players when they need (it)."
Pochettino gave debuts in the second half to George March and TJ Eyoma.
Besides the biggest road victory for the club founded in 1882, it was also its largest margin of victory since beating Wigan Athletic 9-1 in 2009.