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Cricket World Cup 2023: New Zealand cruise past Sri Lanka and edge closer to semi-finals

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New Zealand all but sealed a World Cup semi-final spot with an easy five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Bengaluru.

Sri Lanka, who were already eliminated, were bowled out for 171, with Black Caps seamer Trent Boult taking 3-36.

In a chaotic start, they slumped to 70-5 in 9.3 overs, with opener Kusal Perera smashing 51 from 28 balls.

New Zealand reached their target in 23.2 overs to give their net run-rate a significant boost and make it unlikely they can be overtaken in fourth.

Pakistan and Afghanistan can still match the Black Caps on 10 points but would need highly improbable margins of victory over England and South Africa respectively to overhaul New Zealand’s superior net run rate.

Sri Lanka could not make the most of a decent pitch after being put into bat, with Perera the only member of the top five to reach double figures.

Only stubborn resistance from final pair Maheesh Theekshana, who made 38 not out from 91, and Dilshan Madushanka, who added 19 from 48, helped them avoid a total capitulation.

The Kiwis started brightly in reply through Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra’s classy opening stand of 86, then losing five wickets for 76 as they looked to seal victory as quickly as possible, before Glenn Phillips wrapped up the win.

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Beauden Barrett recommits to NZ Rugby until end of next World Cup

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All Blacks back Beauden Barrett will play rugby in Aotearoa for the next four years after re-signing with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Blues until the end of 2027, the year of the next World Cup.

Barrett is currently in Japan playing for Toyota Verblitz but will be eligible for All Blacks selection on return to New Zealand in 2024 and will return to Super Rugby Pacific in 2025.

The 2027 World Cup will be held in Australia.

Barrett said this decision is a reflection of his desire to represent New Zealand.

“It’s a huge privilege to put on the black jersey and one I will never take for granted. I’m still really passionate about playing alongside my brothers Scott and Jordie for Coastal, Taranaki or the All Blacks so looking forward to adding value where I can on my return from Japan. I am also grateful for the continued support from Taranaki, the Blues and New Zealand Rugby.”

Barrett, a 123 Test All Black and two-time World Rugby Player of the Year, made his international debut in 2012.

He has scored 734 points and 43 tries during a career that includes a Rugby World Cup title in 2015.

Beauden Barrett and Caleb Clarke before the Highlanders v Blues Super Rugby Pacific, Dunedin 26th March, 2022

Beauden Barrett and Caleb Clarke before the Highlanders v Blues Super Rugby Pacific, Dunedin 26th March, 2022 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Debuting for the Blues in 2020 against his former Super Rugby team the Hurricanes, Barrett has played 30 matches in the Blues jersey, scoring 199 points for the team.

NZR chief executive, Mark Robinson, is thrilled Barrett will be continuing to play his rugby in New Zealand.

“Beauden is not just an exceptional player but also an outstanding leader on and off the field. His return is a testament to the strength and appeal of our rugby environment.

“It’s great to have him return next year and be eligible to continue his career with the All Blacks while also lining up for the Blues the following year, contributing to the ongoing success of rugby in New Zealand.”

All Blacks head coach, Scott Robertson said Barrett is a classy player.

“He is the second most-capped All Black back in history for a reason and to have his knowledge and experience in our game is a reflection of his loyalty.”

Blues chief executive, Andrew Hore, said the club were elated to have the star playmaker back in blue.

“Beauden is wonderful to have at the Blues, he’s one of rugby’s good people and treats everyone with respect,” said Hore.

“He’s been a key driver for many of our social projects and community work over the last few years, such as our Covid and flood response, and is someone who’s prepared to share his views in the team environment for the greater good.”

“Any contract extension is when we reflect on a player’s time at the club and in finalising this contract it gave the Blues and Beauden the opportunity to review where we’ve come from and commit to the vision we have for the team and club.”

“We know Beauden feels he has unfinished business here at the Blues and we’re confident he will come back with fire in the belly to take the club forward on and off the field,” said Hore.

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Williamson ton keeps Black Caps in first test

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Kane Williamson emerged as New Zealand’s saviour for the umpteenth time in his career and compiled a patient hundred to help the tourists finish day two of the opening test against Bangladesh on 266-8.

New Zealand batters struggled against Bangladesh’s spin-heavy attack on a turning track in Sylhet but Williamson batted close to five hours for his cultured 104, which included 11 fours.

His 29th test hundred drew him level with Australia great Don Bradman and India stalwart Virat Kohli.

Captain Tim Southee (one) and Kyle Jamieson (seven) will resume New Zealand’s bid to erase the 44-run deficit when play continues on Thursday in what promises to be a low-scoring contest.

Earlier, Bangladesh were all out for 310 after Southee claimed the last wicket of Shoriful Islam with the first delivery of the day.

New Zealand lost Tom Latham, Devon Conway and Henry Nicholls before reaching the 100-mark but Williamson featured in three half-century partnerships to keep New Zealand in the contest.

Daryl Mitchell (41) and Glenn Phillips (42) made useful contributions while Williamson held up one end.

The top-order batter took a single off Nayeem Hasan to bring up his hundred before left-arm spinner Taijul Islam (4-89) breached his stubborn defence after Williamson attempted a forward defensive shot.

At 253-5, New Zealand looked set to grab the lead but Bangladesh claimed four wickets in the final session to leave the match evenly poised.

-Reuters

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Pacific Games: Fiji football team out of gold medal contention after going down 2-0 to Solomon Islands

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The National Football team is out of gold medal contention of the 2023 Pacific Games competition after going down 2-0 to Solomon Islands.

They were down 1-0 at half time.

Fiji had scored a goal in the first half however it was disallowed as it was offside.

Solomon Islands will take on New Caledonia in the Men’s football final at 11am this Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Women’s team will take on Papua New Guinea at 8pm on Friday in the Women’s football final.

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