LONDON (AP):Claudio Ranieri shed his coy and cautious demeanour yesterday to flaunt his euphoria about Leicester being on the brink of the Premier League title in the most stunning season in the club’s 132-year history.Breaking the habit of a season, when Ranieri has mostly restricted himself to prioritising top flight survival, the manger finally publicly acknowledged the target is delivering the title.With 12 points to play for, Leicester have a five-point lead over Tottenham as they looks to collect the biggest prize in English football for the first time.The pursuit of the title has overshadowed the landmark already achieved: steering Leicester into the Champions League for the first time by securing a top-three finish.”Hey man, we are in Champions League!” Ranieri said at a giddy news conference appearance at the central England club. “Dilly-ding, dilly-dong, come on! You forget.”You speak about blah, blah, blah, but we are in Champions League! Come on man!”Leicester’s hierarchy were mocked for hiring Ranieri last July having only just avoided relegation from world football’s richest league.The 64-year-old Italian had been out of work for almost a year after being fired by Greece for making a wretched start to European Championship qualifying.And he hadn’t coached in England for 11 years since being fired by Chelsea. Now Ranieri’s team is a staggering 29 points ahead of defending champion Chelsea, with the two teams meeting in the last round.”Fantastic, fantastic. Terrific. Well done. Well done to everybody,” Ranieri said. “The owners, the fans, to the players, the staff, everybody … it’s a great achievement, great achievement. Unbelievable. And now we go straight away to try to win the title. Yes. Yes man!”Amid the unusual expressiveness, Ranieri still had a serious message for his players: “Keep calm.”One key player will be missing this weekend: top scorer Jamie Vardy. The 22-goal striker is banned for tomorrow’s visit of Swansea and is waiting to discover if the suspension will be extended after admitting that his conduct toward the referee was improper after being sent off in last Sunday’s draw with West Ham.”Now we go straight away to try to win the title. Yes man, only this remains,” Ranieri said. “I talk to my players, ‘Come on, now is the right moment to push’.”I always believe. I am a positive man. If Tottenham go above us, congratulations, but I prefer to be five points ahead.”
Champs WI now third in T20s DUBAI, UAE, CMC – West Indies have slumped to third spot in the International Cricket Council’s Twenty20 rankings, just a month after emphatically winning the Twenty20 World Cup in India. They have been bizarrely overtaken by New Zealand who bowed out to losing finalists England at the semi-final stage of the recent tournament. The Black Caps are now 10 points clear of West Indies at the top of the standings on 132 points, after leaping from third place and overtaking both India and the Caribbean side. Following their four-wicket victory over England in the T20 World Cup final at Eden Gardens on April 3, West Indies had vaulted into second spot, just one point behind India who topped the rankings with 126 points. New Zealand were third on 120 points. Since then, however, New Zealand have gained 12 points without playing a single game, while the second placed India have gained three and West Indies, in contrast, have lost three points. According to the ICC, the West Indies suffered from the fact the points from the 2012-13 season, which included those from their maiden T20 World Cup triumph in Sri Lanka, have now been dropped. Lara: Return of Bravo, Pollard vital for Tri-Nations PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC Batting legend Brian Lara wants to see the return of the likes of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, for next month’s Tri-Nations Series involving Australia and South Africa. Both players have been overlooked by selectors for One-Day Internationals since the controversial abandoned limited overs tour of India two years ago but Lara said having them involved in Twenty20 Internationals alone, was a backward step. “In terms of the Tri-Nations, I think it’s going to be a pretty exciting Tri-Nations series,” the former West Indies captain said. “And hopefully we can have the likes of Pollard and Bravo some guys who have not played that form of the game [recently] back in the team because they are integral of any West Indies team. “Just to have them for the T20 version I think is doing a disservice to West Indies cricket.” Renegades open to Gayle’s return MELBOURNE, Australia, CMC Melbourne Renegades have hinted they are not opposed to re-signing superstar West Indies opener Chris Gayle for the new Big Bash season, despite his now infamous “don’t blush baby” controversy. The development follows the announcement from Cricket Australia’s chief executive, James Sutherland, who said recently cricket authorities here would not prohibit Gayle from a return to the glitzy Twenty20 showpiece. Gayle sparked a firestorm of controversy earlier this year when he appeared to openly flirt with Channel TEN report Mel McLaughlin during a live television interview, during a game against Hobart Hurricanes. However, despite a US$10,000 fine from Renegades, a verbal censure from Cricket Australia and widespread calls for a Big Bash ban, Renegades head coach David Saker said he was unaware of any move to prevent Gayle’s return.