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Sydney: New Zealand openers stand firm after Labuschagne’s double ton




New Zealand openers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell on Saturday made sure the visitors were not ousted away in the first two days of the ongoing third and final Test against Australia being played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

At the close of play on the second day, New Zealand were 63/0 in reply to Australia’s first innings score of 454.

After one and a half energy-sapping days in the field, both the New Zealand openers showed great application and grit and kept the Australian bowlers at bay in the final session on Day Two.

Earlier, resuming at 283/3, Australia didn’t have a great start as they lost overnight batsman Matthew Wade in the very first over of the day. Travis Head who came in next, also couldn’t manage to stay long at the crease and was back in the hut after contributing with just 10.

However, Australia’s No. 3 Marnus Labuschagne didn’t seem to be affected by the two wickets that fell early in the day and stitched a 76-run stand with skipper Tim Paine.

During the course of the partnership, Labuschagne also reached his maiden 200-run mark in Test cricket which also saw him get past Steve Smith’s Test average.

But just when the hosts seemed to take the game away, Colin de Grandhomme got the better of Paine (35). Soon after that, Labuschagne was dismissed by Todd Astle. The 25-year-old scored 215 off 363 balls. Thereafter, the Australian lower-order didn’t contribute much and they were eventually bundled out in the 151st over just at the stroke of Tea.

New Zealand openers had the task of not losing their wickets in the final session of the day and they were up to the task. Even though, both Latham and Bundell didn’t score many runs, they made sure they didn’t give away their wickets and took the team to 63 runs without any loss.

At Stumps, Latham and Blundell remained unbeaten at 26 and 34 respectively, having their team trail by 391 runs.

Brief scores: Australia 1st innings 454 all out (Marnus Labuschagne 213, Steve Smith 63; Neil Wagner 3/66), New Zealand 1st innings 63/0 at Stumps (Tom Blundell 34*, Tom Latham 26)


Andre Russell hit on helmet in PSL, taken to hospital




West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell was on Friday taken to a hospital here in an ambulance after he was struck on the helmet by a bouncer in a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match.

Russell — who was replaced by fast bowler Naseem Shah under the concussion-sub rule — had smashed two sixes off Muhammad Musa in the 14th over while representing Quetta Gladiators against Islamabad United.

He went for a pull-shot but misjudged the bounce as the ball hit him on his helmet.

Though the West Indian decided to continue batting after being examined by a physio, he was out the very next ball, caught at third man.

Russell was seen being stretchered out of the dressing room to an ambulance during the first over of the second innings.

Chasing a target of 133 all out in 20 overs set by Quetta Gladiators, United’s openers Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro smashed unbeaten 40 and 90 runs, respectively. United won the match by 10 wickets in 10 overs.

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No excuse for the loss, made mistakes: Rafael Nadal




World No. 3 Rafael Nadal, whose unbeaten streak at French Open spread over last six years was broken in Friday’s semi-finals, said world No. 1 Novak Djokovic got used to cooler Paris conditions at night better even as he himself could not produce the top level tennis expected of him.

“That’s sport. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I tried to give my best,” Nadal said after the match before adding that he could not convert the chances he got.

“I had a big chance with set point, 6-5, second serve in the third set. That is it. Anything could happen in that moment. Then I made a double fault, missed an easy volley in the tie-break. But it’s true that there were crazy points out there. The fatigue is there, too. These kind of mistakes can happen,” he added.

As the match extended into late evening and night, Nadal’s topspin shots that were bouncing high off the clay court began bouncing lower as conditions got cooler making it easier for Djokovic.

Nadal though refused to term it as an excuse and instead felt that Djokovic had got used to the conditions better.

“It does not matter. That is tennis. The player who gets used to the conditions better is the player who deserves to win. So no doubt he deserved to win,” said the world No. 3.

The Spaniard admitted he was not at his best. He made eight double faults against Djokovic’s three.

“But if you want to win, you can not make these mistakes. So that is it. Well done for him. It was a good fight out there. I tried my best, and today was not my day.

“It probably was not my best day out there. Even if I fought, put a lot of effort, the position on the shots were not that effective tonight,” Nadal said.

“Against a player like him who takes the ball early, you are not able to take him out of his positions, then it is very difficult.”

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South Africa have Windies on the mat after Quinton de Kock ton




South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock hit an unbeaten 141 to hand his team a strong first-innings lead on the second day of the first Test against West Indies who, with just six second-innings wickets remaining, are still 143 runs adrift and look set for an innings defeat.

Pace bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje took two wickets each as they reduced West Indies to 82 for four at stumps on second day after de Kock’s 170-ball knock had taken Proteas to 322 in first innings. West Indies had been dismissed for 97 in first innings on the first day.

The left-handed wicket-keeper batsman hammered seven sixes and 12 fours in his knock after half of the Proteas side was back in the pavilion with just 162 on the scoreboard.

The 28-year-old from Johannesburg had walked in after the fall of third wicket. Although none of his fellow batsmen could script a partnership with him, he found company in all-rounder Wiaam Mulder as the two added 53 runs for the sixth wicket.

After Mulder, Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada were dismissed in quick succession, de Kock added 79 for the ninth wicket with Nortje (7 off 29). He farmed the strike and went for the big hits. Aiden Markram, who made 60 on the first day, and Rassie van der Dussen, with 46, were the next highest scorers.

The 79 runs for the ninth wicket came in just over 12 overs.

Jason Holder, with four for 75, was the most successful bowler for the Caribbean side.

Windies were then reduced to 51 for four before Roston Chase (21 off 71) and Jermaine Blackwood (10 off 27) stemmed the rot with an unbeaten 31-run partnership in 12.2 overs.

Brief scores: West Indies 97 all out and 82/4 vs South Africa 322 all out in 96.5 overs (Q de Kock 141 not out, A Markram 60, R van der Dussen 46, J Holder 4/75, J Seales 3/75)

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