Skipper Babar Azam and Fawad Alam scored half centuries as Pakistan staged a remarkable recovery on the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park on Saturday (IST), finishing the day on 212/4 after reeling at 2/3 in the early stages.
Azam (75) and left-hander Alam (76) prevented a disastrous collapse, putting on 158 and blunting the home barrage before the latter retired hurt due to injury.
Winning the toss and electing to field, Kraigg Brathwaite’s decision seemed a smart one, with Kemar Roach dismissing Abid Ali in the first over for one.
The slip cordon was busy in the early overs, as Roach and new-ball partner Jayden Seales found their rhythm. Roach found Azhar Ali’s outside edge as he was caught by Joshua da Silva for a duck, while Seales joined in the celebrations after a successful review to dismiss Imran Butt.
Azam and Alam calmed the proceedings, taking Pakistan to 62/3 when lunch was called after 25 overs. Seeing off the barrage from Roach and Seales, the pair played out four maidens against Kyle Mayers and Jason Holder, who came on in spurts of four and six overs respectively.
Seeing off the shine in the first session gave Pakistan freedom after lunch, with the two seasoned players reaching half centuries. Azam brought up his 18th Test fifty with a back-foot drive for four, while Alam also brought up his half-century with a boundary, Pulling Alzarri Joseph to the fence.
The hot and humid Jamaican conditions played a part in proceedings, with Jahmar Hamilton taking the keeping gloves from Joshua da Silva, who was struggling from cramps. Pakistan too felt the effects of the weather, struggling to bat.
Alam retired hurt on 76, and Azam fell soon after for 75, edging to Jason Holder, taking a low catch at second slip.
The wicket put the brakes on Pakistan’s fightback, though Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Rizwan prevented a collapse, pushing the score past 200 before the light was called 74 overs into the day.
Rizwan (22 not out) and Ashraf (23 not out) will resume on Day 2, with Alam likely to return at the fall of day two’s first wicket.
Brief scores: Pakistan 1st innings 212 for 4 in 74 overs (B Azam 75, F Alam 76 retd hurt; Kemar Roach 3/49).
Djokovic confirmed for ATP Cup; drops hint he will compete at Australian Open
Serbia’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic has confirmed himself for January’s ATP Cup tournament in Sydney, dropping a hint that he could compete in the season-opening major, the Australian Open, commencing on January 17.
Djokovic — who finished year-end world No. 1 for the record-breaking seventh time, moving ahead of his idol, American legend Pete Sampras (six years) — has perhaps given the clearest hint that he will be there in Melbourne to defend his Australian Open title in January.
A total of 16 countries will compete in the third edition of the ATP Cup beginning January 1, 2022, with four groups announced at the official tournament draw on Tuesday, according to sen.com.au.
“18 of the top 20 tennis players in the world will feature in the tournament set to run from January 1-9 as the main ATP precursor to the Australian Open.”
Djokovic has so far kept the Australian Open organisers and his fans guessing about his Covid-19 vaccination status, adding to the uncertainty over whether he will compete in the major.
Djokovic’s father Srdjan recently said that Novak “probably won’t” play the Australian Open as the tournament organisers’ decision to not allow unvaccinated players — or players who don’t share their Covid-19 vaccination status — amounts to “blackmail”.
The Australian Open director Craig Tiley has stated that only fully vaccinated players will be allowed to compete in the tournament. Djokovic, the nine-time and defending Australian Open champion, has refused to divulge his vaccination status, or whether he intends to get vaccinated before the event.
Djokovic celebrated his 350th week atop the ATP Rankings on Tuesday, extending his record for the most weeks in the top spot, even as the Serbian set sights on Germany’s women’s tennis great Steffi Graf’s record of 377 weeks at the top of the WTA rankings.
Among the other top players who have confirmed their participation in the ATP Cup for their respective countries are, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.
The event will see four winning countries advance to the semifinals following the group stage.
Anderson’s omission will cost England dear: Aussie opener Warner
Australian opener David Warner has said that James Anderson’s omission from the England side for the opening Ashes Test at The Gabba, which began on Wednesday, will cost the tourists dear as the veteran pacer’s “line, length and control is always outstanding”.
Anderson was not included in the tourist’s 12-member squad on Tuesday as the England team management felt the workload of five Ashes Tests would be a bit too much for the 39-year-old.
There were speculations that Anderson was carrying an injury but an England spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday, that it wasn’t the case. Rather, the decision to leave out Anderson had to do with managing his workload in the high-octane series.
Warner felt that Anderson’s omission for the Brisbane Test could be a huge bonus for Australia.
“Having Jimmy out is a big thing for us,” Warner said on SEN 1170 Breakfast ahead of the start of the Test. “It’s not just his wicket-taking ability, but his line, length and control is always outstanding. As a batsman you can never get on top of him, so having him out is big.”
Warner, however, felt that Anderson’s replacement, Chris Woakes, would also be a potential threat to Australian batters.
“Someone like Chris Woakes could come in for him and he’s just as good as a bowler. He doesn’t have the wickets on the board but he’s a phenomenal bowler and he always hits those line and lengths. So, they do have good replacements for him.”
England were dismissed for 147 in 50.1 overs with Australia skipper Pat Cummins taking a five-for on the opening day of the Test.
UEFA Champions League: Leipzig clinch 2-1 win over Manchester City
Leipzig sealed the third place in Group A and booked its berth for the Europa League after goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva helped the ‘Red Bulls’ edge Manchester City 2-1 in the final round of the Champions League’s group stage.
Both sides staged well-positioned defences from the kick-off hence goal-scoring opportunities were at a premium in the opening period on Tuesday night.
Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer and City’s Kevin De Bruyne produced the first half-chances before Jack Grealish pulled wide from a promising position to waste a good chance for the visitors in the 22nd minute.
The hosts showed a clinical chance conversion at the other end of the green, as Laimer’s perfectly-timed through ball was sent to Szoboszlai, who rounded goalkeeper Zackary Steffen before finishing the job into the empty goal with 24 minutes played, Xinhua reports. Leipzig almost doubled its advantage two minutes later, but Steffen was on guard and defused Emil Forsberg’s dangerous effort from 12 meters.
The hosts continued on the front foot and should have extended the lead, but Steffen was equal to Silva’s header in the 39th minute.
Manchester City sparked to life before the half time as Peter Gulacsi had to tip Phil Foden’s hammer to the post before the Leipzig goalkeeper neutralised De Bruyne’s free kick in the closing stages of the first half.
After the restart, City assumed control and dominated possession but for all that the visitors couldn’t do damage to Leipzig’s bulwark.
To make things worse for the visitors, Leipzig doubled its advantage against the flow of the game as Silva benefitted on a counterattack via Forsberg to beat Steffen with a well-placed low shot in the 71st minute.
It was a short-lived joy for the hosts though as the ‘Sky Blues’ halved the deficit after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s cross fed Riyad Mahrez, whose diving header caught Gulacsi on the wrong foot in the 77th minute.
City’s comeback hopes suffered a heavy setback in the 83rd minute when Kyle Walker was sent off with a straight red card following a rude foul play on Silva.
The visitors pushed forward despite their numerical disadvantage, but Leipzig’s defence stood firm and secured all three points on home soil.
With the result, Manchester City top Group A with 12 points whereas Leipzig finish on the third spot to continue in the Europa League.
Dortmund crush Besiktas 5-0
A brace each by Marco Reus and Erling Haaland smoothed the way for Borussia Dortmund’s 5-0 victory over Besiktas at the last round of Champions League’s group stage on Tuesday. The “BVB” took the reins from the starting whistle and pressed Besiktas on the back foot.
Dortmund still needed some time to produce goal-scoring opportunities and had to wait until the 17th minute before Jude Bellingham pulled over the target from a promising position.
Besiktas posed no threat and failed to combine its ways through Dortmund’s well-positioned defence.
The hosts eventually broke the deadlock at the half hour mark when Bellingham had a lot of space following a counterattack and teed up for Donyell Malen, who slotted the ball past Besiktas goalie Ersin Destanoglu.
The visitors from Turkey had to swallow two more setbacks before the break as Welinton felled Mahmoud Dahoud inside the box. The defender received his marching orders and caused a penalty.
Reus stepped up and made no mistake to double the advantage from the spot.
Dortmund dominated the one-sided affair and made it three with eight minutes into the second half when Reus danced through Besiktas box before finishing off into the bottom left corner.
Haaland came in for Reus at the hour mark but didn’t need long to get his name on the scoreboards as the Norway international made it 4-0 after nodding home Nico Schulz pinpoint cross into the box in the 68th minute.
Haaland gained momentum and wasn’t done with the scoring as he wrapped up his brace after heading home Dahoud’s corner kick in the 81st minute.
Dortmund’s prolific striker had even the chance to clinch a hat trick but for all that Haaland couldn’t turn his two presentable chances into a tangible reward in the closing stages.
With the result, third-placed Borussia Dortmund will continue to play in the Europa League meanwhile Besiktas end its Champions League season on fourth place in Group C.
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