What you missed this weekend: 8/16-8/18

It’s only a matter of a few weeks before the NFL and NBA get underway as Europe’s La Liga and English Premier League have already started. We still have some pre-season domestic news though along with some UFC and MLB action and the Ashes between England and Australia witnessed a thrilling second test of cricket. 

3786926194_54f695ab06_o
215-365 Today at the Ashes Test Match by John Garghan is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

GOLF: BMW Championship

Tiger Woods’ season has come to a disappointing end. After 18 holes, Woods shot even-par 72, which was seven-under overall, and unfortunately, he doesn’t qualify for the next round.

UFC-241: Stipe Miocic

After just a little over four minutes into round four, Stipe Miocic won back his heavyweight title against Daniel Cormier. Although Cormier had 73 more strikes than his counterpart, all it took was just one knockout for Miocic to win his beloved prize. This is the fourth time a champion ended up losing in Anaheim.

NFL: 

Injury news

Los Angles Chargers have lost Derwin James for three to four months due to foot surgery. New Jersey Jets LB Avery Williams tore his ACL in a practice game against the Atlanta Falcons and will probably miss the whole season. The Arizona Cardinals starting cornerback, Robert Alford, broke his tibia bone and will have to sit out for half of the season. The Baltimore Ravens will have to do without Taven Young, who will miss the season due to a neck injury.

Josh McCown

The former Jets quarterback has done a U-turn on his decision to retire and has signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. He has signed just a one-year deal with the Eagles.

LA Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys had the edge against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night in Hawaii, winning 14-10. Devin Smith and Tony Pollard both reached the endzone for Dallas while only JoJo Natson Jr. was able to convert for the Rams.

MLB: 

Gleyber Torres

Gleyber Torres makes his name with the New York Yankees by becoming the second-highest Home Run scorer in a season with the Yankees. He scored his 29th Home Run right before turning 23 years of age.

Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols brought light to his name by becoming the player born outside of the United States with the most hits. The Dominican-born player went to 3,168 hits on Saturday night for the Los Angeles Angels against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Soccer: 

Barcelona

Barcelona was welcomed to a shocking start in La Liga by losing 1-0 to Atletic Bilbao. The hero was Aritz Adruiz who scored in the 89th minute.

Cricket: 

The Ashes

Despite Steve Smith scoring 92(161), Australia ended up trailing England by 8 runs at the end of the first innings, being bowled out for 250. To Australia’s dismay, Smith was retired out first due to a concussion after being hit in the neck by a Jofra Archer bouncer. When he returned to bat, Chris Woakes caught him LBW after Smith mistakably left the ball. The second innings didn’t start well for England, especially when skipper Joe Root was caught behind the first ball but England found a hero at Lord’s once again in Ben Stokes, who scored his seventh test match century.

Australia needed 267 runs to win in just a few hours, so a draw was the most likely outcome, but for a good amount of time, the England bowlers excellently created doubt in the Australian batting ability. David Warner and Usman Khawaja were both dismissed caught off of Archer’s bowling, but substitute Marcus Labuschagne bravely got to 59 before being controversially being caught out by Joe Root at square leg. In the final hour, England needed four wickets to win and Australia wasn’t in reach of victory, but the likes of Archer, Joe Denly and Jack Leach were unable to find the wickets and the match was declared a draw.

Australia currently leads the five-match series 0-1 after two tests.

To: The Ashes

Edgebaston Cricket Ground,

Birmingham, England, U.K.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

20400136566_cf8ce1c923_k
Howzat – The Ashes Trent Bridge 2015 by Airwolfhound is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Dear cricket,

What reason do I have to constantly have faith in the beauty of this game? What is it about a leather ball being hit by a wooden bat which I love so much? Or is there more to this game of cricket?

Do you know how strong my love for this game is? And not just me, but for nearly every fan who fills his or her leisure time by involving themselves in this sport? Be it from playing to watching to talking about it, is it possible to ever stop loving cricket?

Love for cricket is universal with people from all walks of life able to find a passion for it, be it an old taxi driver in the Carribean, an English father or a poor child in Pakistan. It was this passion which also started a war in cricket, a war which has lasted since the 1880s.

From this war came ashes. Not the ashes of soldiers or gunfire. The ashes of passion. The Ashes. When the stumps at The Oval Cricket Ground in London were burned after Australia beat England on English soil for the first time, ashes were burnt, a newspaper reported “The Death of English Cricket” and war was born.

But after winter comes spring and spirits are reborn. Since “The Death of English Cricket”, every two years The Ashes take place, marking the summit of the cricketing calendar. I’m a Pakistani teenager who has nothing to do with either England or Australia, but what can I do? The Ashes is like a gem to behold, whom anyone would give anything to see at least once in their life. When England take on Australia, it’s as if the rest of the cricketing world disappears from the face of the Earth.

Despite not being English or Aussie, The Ashes have provided moments throughout history which just simply can’t be replicated. And the excitement never dies or ages. Be it in the early 20th century when Sir Donald Bradman walked out to bat for the last time at The Oval and was dismissed LBW for duck or in 2009 when Monty Panesar and Jimmy Anderson batted 11 overs to force a draw.

The Ashes is why I love cricket. Five test matches, five battles, one everlasting war. Will Australia recover and retain the Ashes or will England find success on their home soil and send the Aussie soldiers back home with their heads bowed? I’ve asked a lot of questions in this letter, but you know what? Ignore them. All of them. Just allow us cricket fans to enjoy and love cricket at it’s best. Allow this flame to burn forever, turning our hearts to ashes.

Love, no one special.

Winners and Losers: England vs. Ireland Day 1

It’s been a long wait for fans of test cricket due to the World Cup (congratulations to England for winning it), but the white kits and red ball returned to Lord’s Cricket Ground in London with a four-day fixture between England and Ireland. And Day 1 did not disappoint. Well, that is if you’re not English. In Ireland’s third-ever test and Lord’s debut, things couldn’t have gone more perfectly. 

1024px-Cricket_Ireland_flag.svg
Cricket Ireland flag by Sannita is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

After losing the toss, Ireland bowled England out for just 85, at the same ground in which England had won the World Cup ten days ago! The hero of the day was fast bowler Tim Murtagh who took five wickets in nine overs at his home ground. After lunch, Ireland scored 207, giving themselves a lead of 122 runs and giving England one over to bat again. Along with Murtagh, let’s see who else won the hearts of the Irish on Day 1 and who disappointed the hopes of the English.

Winner: Tim Murtagh

At this point, I’m pretty sure Ireland’s team meeting went something like this: “Hand the ball to Tim, hope for the best.” Well, his day couldn’t be any brighter than the smile on his face after walking off the field during the first innings break. Murtagh took five wickets from just nine overs, placing his name on the Honors’ Board.

His first victim was debutant Jason Roy who played the swinging ball too early, edging it to Paul Stirling in slip. The second opener Rory Burns fell in a similar fashion, being caught behind, just like Moeen Ali later. Wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow was bowled on duck and Chris Woakes was caught LBW for not as well.

But Murtagh wasn’t done for the day as he played a cameo with the bat as well. Scoring 16(10), Murtagh was responsible for hitting Stuart Broad for three boundaries within one over! Surely at this point, Murtagh has secured the Man of the Match award.

Loser: Jason Roy

After a splendid World Cup performance, Roy was poised to be the solution to England’s opening options, but it seems no one can replace Sir Alastair Cook. Roy turned out to be quite the opposite, playing Ireland’s swinging deliveries to early rather than waiting and the price he paid was departing for just 5(11).

Loser: Joe Root

Body language says a lot and the captain’s body language perhaps speaks the loudest (the only person who defies this rule would be Pakistan’s captain Sarfaraz Ahmed). Throughout the day, it seemed as if Joe Root stopped caring due to frustration. First, Root was caught LBW on 2(7) by Mark Adair then he went on to drop two catches in the slips in Ireland’s innings.

Loser: Jonny Bairstow

Bairstow’s innings was chaotic from the start. In his one over at the crease, he was probably confronted by the umpires as many times as he faced deliveries for impeding on the protected zone of the pitch. On one delivery, Bairstow withdrew from the crease right before the bowler’s release, and that ball ended up clipping off-stump. But Bairstow’s stay was short anyway after he was bowled by Murtagh himself.

Winner: Andrew Balbirnie

Ireland batted well after they bowled spectacular. After a decent opening partnership, Andrew Balbirnie came in and got his second test fifty with 55(69), comprising of 40 runs in fours. Along with Stirling, the two put together an 87-run partnership from just 89 deliveries, giving Ireland the lead.

Winner: Ollie Stone

Yes, there actually was one good performance from the England side. After his four fours took Stone to 19(18), Stone did his job with the ball by picking up three wickets at 9.66 apiece from 12 overs. His first wicket was a masterpiece, removing Balbirnie’s middle stump out of the ground. He then followed up by getting Gary Wilson caught in the slips for duck and closed off with finding the wicket of Murtagh, caught at deep mid-wicket by Burns.

What you may have missed this weekend: 7/12-7/14

Just like how there were three finals last weekend, there were three more this weekend, two of which were extremely close, breath-taking encounters. We’ll start off with the closing of Wimbledon in which both the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Finals took place as Simona Halep took on history seeking Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic fighting against Roger Federer in London. Also in London on the same day was the Cricket World Cup Finals, where both England and New Zealand were looking for their maiden World Cup titles. We’ll also cover a special night for the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB after they played the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. 

42895052122_ca850f1196_k
Novak Djokovic by Kate Tann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Wimbledon

Halep prevents Williams from making history:

Williams was on the verge of a record 24th Grand Slam title but it seems she will have to wait even longer. Unfortunately, it felt as if Williams was unable to compete against Halep as both sets ended 6-2. Halep smartly played risk-free tennis and out-forced errors for Williams 26-3 on her way to being handed the Wimbledon title by Princess Megan Markel.

Djokovic holds off Federer till final tie-breaker:

Three of the five sets in the final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were decided by tie-breakers but by the end of the second set, it seemed that Djokovic was no match for Federer. After Djokovic won the first set 7-5 on tie-breakers, Federer smashed his opponent 6-1 in the next set. The third set went to a tie-breaker yet again with Djokovic edging out his opponent 7-4. Federer then again won the fourth set comfortably again, this time 6-4. All the action was yet to come in the fifth set. After the two tied 12 all on rounds, Djokovic won on tie-breakers 7-3.

Cricket

England wins first World Cup title at home:

After losing three World Cup finals, England won the 2019 Cricket World Cup in perhaps the greatest One-Day International match in history. After England’s fast bowlers restricted New Zealand to 241-8 at Lord’s Cricket Ground, New Zealand bowled out England for 241 as well, forcing a super over to decide the winner.

In the first innings, Martin Guptill was rather unsuccessful with the bat again, scoring 18(19), but his partner, Henry Nicholls, went off to score 55(77). Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett were the picks of the bowlers with three wickets each. England was in trouble in the second innings, being at 86-4 until Ben Stokes came out to bat. Stokes and Jos Buttler held a 110-run partnership before Buttler was dismissed and England was bowled out for 241, Stokes being left on 84(98)*.

Stokes’ innings did not come without controversy though. After completing a single, a throw from Guptill was deflected off of Stokes’ bat and went for four. The umpire awarded six runs in total when in reality it was worth five, meaning England technically would’ve lost by one run. Stokes later said in a press conference that he would “Be apologizing for the overthrow for the rest of my life,” and that the deflection “was completely unintentional.”

England batted first in the super over. Buttler and Stokes both found the boundary and England set New Zealand a target of 16. After Jimmy Neesham hit a six, New Zealand needed two runs off the last ball with Guptill on strike. The two completed a single but Guptill was run out coming for the second, devastating the country of New Zealand and handing the win to England on boundary count, 26-17.

Stokes was named Man of the Match and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was named Player of the Tournament. The tournament’s best batsman was India’s Rohit Sharma with his five centuries and his 648 runs and the tournament’s highest wicket-taker is Australia’s Mitchell Starc with 27 wickets.

MLB

Angels dedicate win over Mariners to Tyler Skaggs:

After Tyler Skaggs passed away, the Los Angeles Angels threw a no-hitter game as the Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 13-0. After Skaggs’ mother threw the first pitch, the Angels scored seven in the first three innings. There were also some other interesting connections to Skaggs as CBS Sports explains in this Instagram post that night. Our thoughts and prayers are present to Skaggs’ family, team and friends from us at Fourth Quarter Sports.

View this post on Instagram

45

A post shared by CBS Sports (@cbssports) on

What you may have missed this weekend: 7/5 – 7/7

If you didn’t think much happened in the last few days around the world in sports, trust me, a lot more happened then you think. Along with the NBA Free Agency headlines, there were three soccer finals yesterday and a special 15-year old is causing an earthquake in London’s Wimbledon. So without further ado, let’s start by seeing what the Los Angeles Lakers are up to during the NBA Free Agency.

48164193957_b276c77d82_k
Coco Gauff by Kate Tann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

NBA

Lakers on the hunt:

After a dismal NBA season, the Lakers are being quick to patch their team by signing some big names. Right after Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard announced his decision, Danny Green announced he would be signing with the Lakers for a two year, $30 million deal. The other big name to come to Los Angeles is DeMarcus Cousins from Golden State Warriors and Rojan Rondo is set to rejoin his former team. The Lakers completed three more signings in JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Quinn Cook.

Clippers, Thunder secure big trade:

After the Los Angeles Clippers signed NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard, they were quick to move for Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George. However, the Clippers have had to give up a lot for George. First, they traded away Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, but also four future first-round picks, another protected first-round pick in 2023 and an extra potential two more picks of the Clippers.

 

UFC 239 (By RahimAli Merchant)

Jones beats Santos, Nunes wrecks Helms:

It was a busy week in Las Vegas for the world of sports, we not only saw the start of the NBA’s Summer league where Zion Williamson showed off, but we got to feel an earthquake or two that might have changed the whole atmosphere. The fight between Jon Jones and Tiago Santos was not affected by the earthquake, but they definitely hit the road running with a five-round contest that ended in a decision by the judges that gave Jones (25-1) the controversial victory.

Let’s not forget about the women. Though the men were the highlight of the night, Amanda Nunes did some quick work to Holly Helms with a head kick knockout in the first round to claim the victory. Both Helms and Nunes have proven that MMA is not just for the boys.

 

Wimbledon:

Coco Gauff advances to Round of 16:

After a shocking victory against 15-year old Coco Gauff’s idol, Venus Williams, Gauff sealed her place in the Round of 16 by beating Pelona Hercog on Friday. After losing the first round unfortunately by six sets to three, Gauff won a 7-9 tiebreaker in the second set, before nearly avoiding another tiebreaker in the third set, winning 5-7. Gauff is currently playing possibly her hardest opponent yet, Simona Halep. What’s most impressive about Gauff’s playing style is her youthful athletic ability on the court.

 

Soccer:

USA wins fourth World Cup title:

After beating France earlier in the tournament, the US proved they were favorites to retain the FIFA World Cup title and had one last game to play before lifting the trophy: the Netherlands. After a tight, scoreless first half, VAR played a role once again in giving the US a penalty in the 61st minute, which Megan Rapinoe scored. Just eight minutes later, Rose Lavelle netted a second for the US and the US won 2-0, adding a fourth star.

Mexico wins another Gold Cup:

The US Men’s National Team were involved in another soccer final on the same day as the Women’s, and just like the earlier, the favorites won, but in this game, the US wasn’t the favorites to win. The US had an excellent Gold Cup, without a doubt, but Mexico was far too strong. Despite Mexico only scoring once through Jonathan Dos Santos, the US wasted plenty of opportunities to score under pressure, and Mexico lifted the trophy at the end of the night.

Brazil beats Peru in Copa América Finals:

Peru made a Cinderella run to the Copa América Finals, but they were unable to compete with the hosts as Brazil routed Peru 3-1 to win their first Copa América since 2007. Everton continued his excellent tournament and international career by opening the scoring in the 15th minute before Gabriel Jesus typically added a second right before the half. Peru got one back through their hero Paulo Guererro, who scored a penalty in the 44th minute, but Richarlison put the nail in the coffin by scoring Brazil’s third in the 90th minute.

What you missed this weekend: 6/21-6/23

Another week in this summer has flown by really quickly and with that, another weekend! Although domestically, there wasn’t much action on the field, the NBA and NHL leagues had their drafts for the next season. The MLB, a summer tradition, of course still continues and the US is currently involved in the Women’s FIFA World Cup and the Gold Cup. Speaking of the Americas, the group stages of the Copa America have nearly been concluded and some teams are either making their exits or pushing for a Semi-final spot in the Cricket World Cup as well. Let’s start off with some historic draft picks, first with the NBA.

35007094605_4af96b52fb_h
IMG_4921 by Dinur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

NBA Draft

Bol drafted surprisingly low:

Oregon player Bol Bol was expected to be one of the top picks but didn’t get drafted until Miami Heat picked him up as the 44th overall. Concerns about his injuries were likely the key reason. He did miss the rest of the last season after November following an ankle injury, but Bol himself says, “My foot is 100 percent healed.” Following the pick, Bol was traded to the Denver Nuggets, who have a different approach, a more positive one, to the Bol situation. Tim Connelly, the President of Basketball Operations at the Denver Nuggets said, “It’s hard not to be excited,” when referring to Bol.

Timberwolves exchange Saric for number six pick:

The Minnesota Timberwolves exchanged their no. 11 pick and Dario Saric for a number six pick from the Phoenix Suns. The Minnesota President Gersson Rosas was working for some time to move the Timberwolves’ pick up higher and settled for sixth. If the Suns chose to keep Saric, he would be a good pick after he averaged 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.

Hachimura becomes the first Japanese player drafted in the first round:

Only two Japanese players have ever been drafted before in NBA history, and Rui Hachimura became the first one to be drafted in the first round. The Washington Wizards drafted Hachimura as their ninth overall pick, citing his flexibility to play multiple positions and his key role in the Japanese national team, heading into the Olympics. Being a junior at Gonzaga, he averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

NHL Draft

Record eight US players picked in the first round:

Starting with Jack Hughes to the New Jersey Devils, eight players in total from the US under-18 national team were selected in the first round. The previous record was four in 2000, 19 years ago. Typically, the draft is dominated by European players. Here is a list of the American players drafted and by which team:

  • Jack Hughes to New Jersey Devils, no. 1
  • Alex Turcotte to Los Angeles Kings, no. 5
  • Trevor Zegras to Anaheim Ducks, no. 9
  • Matthew Boldy to Minnesota Wild, no. 12
  • Spencer Knight to Florida Panthers, no. 13
  • Cam York to Philadelphia Flyers, no. 14
  • Caul Caufield to Montreal Canadiens, no. 15
  • John Beecher to Boston Bruins, no. 30

MLB

A warm welcome home for Pujols:

Although Albert Pujols’ current team, the Los Angeles Angels lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 2-4 on Saturday, the moment of the match came for the Angels when Pujols homered in the seventh innings in front of his former home crowd. The sold-out St. Louis crowd greeted Pujols with loud cheers and salutes, to which Pujols responded by returning from the dugout and tipping his hat.

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Germany crushes Nigeria 3-0 in Round of 16:

Both Germany and the US are currently undefeated and both Germany and the US are yet to concede a goal in the entire tournament! Alexandra Popp scored the opener in her 100th appearance for the country with a header in the 20th minute. Seven minutes later, Sara Daebritz netted in a penalty for the Germans. Both goals were given with the assistance of VAR, to the dismay of Nigeria. The third goal didn’t come until the 86th minute after Lea Schüller scored.

Norway sends Australia home after penalties:

After the game ended 1-1 at the end of the two-hour mark, Norway beat Australia on penalties 4-1. Before penalties, Australia fell a player short after Alanna Kennedy was sent off. Both sides did have plenty of chances missed though as Norway had 11 shots off target out of their 24, and Australia, despite having six percent more possession, registered only 8 shots, four on target.

England too good for Cameroon:

Just like Germany, England beat their Round of 16 opponents, Cameroon, 3-0. England’s first goal, which came in the 14th minute, was a rarity, coming from an indirect free kick (a free kick inside the keeper’s box in which defenders can defend the goal) after the Cameroon goalkeeper, Annette Ngo Ndom, picked up the ball after it hit her own teammate last. The Cameroon players ran into some trouble with VAR after Ajara Nchout’s goal was deemed offside and the players clearly objected in the dying minutes of the first half. Alex Greenwood got the third goal in for England at the 57th minute after receiving a pass from a corner kick and netting it in the low right corner.

France survives Brazil scare:

France played an intense game at home against Brazil where the game had ended 1-1 at the end of the 90th minute. Valérie Gauvin opened the scoring for the French in the 52nd minute before Thaisa scored an absolute beauty in the 63rd minute for Brazil. Thaisa’s goal was originally called offside but was overturned after a VAR review. The moment of the game came in the 106th minute when Amandine Henry scored in the bottom left corner after receiving a long free kick and France beat Brazil 2-1.

Copa América

Machís, Martínez send Venezuela through to Quarter-finals:

After struggling to find some goals in their opening two matches, Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 to advance to the Quarter-finals and finish second in their group. In the first few minutes, one could tell it was all over for Bolivia as Machís ran easily through the defense to meet a cross with his head in the second minute, which found the back of the net due to poor goalkeeping. Atlanta United’s Josef Martínez ended up scoring a header too in the 86th minute, right after Leonel Justiniano was able to pull one back for the Bolivians four minutes earlier.

Peru qualifies for knockout rounds despite Brazil thrashing:

In the final game of Group A, Brazil beat Peru 5-0, but Peru’s four points were enough to get them past the group stage. All five goalscorers for Brazil were different with Casemiro, Roberto Firmino with a no-look goal and Everton scoring in the first half, before Dani Alves netted and Willian scored in the last minute. Brazil finished first in the group with seven points.

Argentina beats Qatar to qualify for Quarter-finals:

Argentina needed to win to survive in this Copa América and they did just that. Lautaro Martínez scored in the fourth minute and Sergio Aguero made it 2-0 in the 86th. Argentina finished second in their group, leaving Paraguay in third at Qatar packing their bags at fourth.

Cricket World Cup:

England no longer favorites:

It seems that England has lost their title of favorites once Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunuratne handed the ball to veteran Lasith Malinga. On a slow Leeds pitch, Sri Lanka scored 232-9 after Angelo Matthews stepped up with his 85(115)*, and was hoping that would be enough to bowl England out. Surely enough, it was. Not only did Malinga pick up four wickets, but he also picked up the most crucial of them, getting both of the English openers along with Joe Root and Jos Buttler out. Spinner Dhananjaya de Silva helped clean up the lower order, grabbing the wickets of Moeen Ali, who miscued a shot to Isuru Udana at long mid-on, and having both Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid caught behind. Ben Stokes played a heroic effort, scoring 82*, but the game ended when Mark Wood edged Nuwan Pradeep behind on duck at the end of the 47th over. England is still in the top four, but they play Australia, India and New Zealand next while Sri Lanka’s semi-final hopes are still alive.

Afghanistan nearly causes World Cup’s greatest upset:

Six days after India beat Pakistan by 89 runs, one wouldn’t think Afghanistan would be too big of a problem for Virat Kohli’s India either. But Afghanistan’s spinners Mujeeb Ur-Rehman and Rashid Khan attacked the Indian batting extremely well, leaving them desperate at 224-8. Rohit Sharma, six days prior, scored 140 but was dismissed for just one after being bowled by Ur-Rehman. Kedhar Jadhav also played a handy 52 off 68, but India would’ve thought they fell short on runs. Man of the Match Mohammad Shami got the crucial wicket of Afghanistan opener Hazratullah Zazai, but Rahmat Shah and Mohammad Nabi held their ground, frustrating the Indian bowlers. After an over of six yorkers by Jasprit Bumrah, Afghanistan needed 12 from the last over but Shami completed a World Cup hattrick, taking the wickets of Nabi, who was caught by Pandya at long mid-on, and bowling both Aftab Alam and Ur-Rehman.

Brathwaite can make history but not re-create it:

Three years after Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes against Stokes in the final over in Kolkata, Brathwaite was bound to do something similar against New Zealand in Manchester. The match started off West Indies’ way when Sheldon Cottrell found two wickets in the first over, trapping Martin Guptill LBW first ball and bowling Colin Munro. A 160-run partnership between New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made things right before Taylor departed for 69 off of Chris Gayle’s bowling and Cottrell added a third wicket in Williamson being caught behind.

Gayle was brilliant in the next innings, scoring 87(84), but the Kiwis did pick two early wickets in Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran. Trent Boult was brilliant for New Zealand, registering four wickets and three runs per over and securing a very important catch later on. After Gayle was dismissed in the 24th over, a middle-order collapse left West Indies’ fans worrying as West Indies were at 245-9 at the 45th over, Brathwaite on 60* at the time. With just one wicket left, Brathwaite hit five sixes to get him to his maiden One-Day International century and with just six runs needed to win from seven deliveries, Brathwaite went for six again, but Boult was sitting at the mid-wicket boundary, waiting for the catch. Brathwaite was left crying on his knees as New Zealand ended up winning by five runs.

Pakistan comes to light; South Africa in disarray:

Both sides needed a win in order to stay alive in the World Cup, but it looks like South Africa will be the one going home. Pakistan had a perfect start at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London with openers Imam Ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman involved in an 81-run partnership, before both batsmen were dismissed for 44. Babar Azam scored yet another half-century, but the most impressive batsman was Haris Sohail, who came in for Shoaib Malik, scoring 85 off just 59 to take Pakistan to 308-7.

South Africa, who have never chased a target above 300 in a World Cup before, was off to a bad start when Mohammad Amir got Hashim Amla out LBW with his very first delivery. Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis worked to recover with their 87-run partnership before Shadab Khan found the wicket of de Kock, who was caught at fine leg by Ul-Haq. From there, Pakistan continued to take regular wickets as Amir had a total of two and Khan and Wahab Riaz both had three wickets to their name. Andile Phelukwayo’s 46(32)* prevented Pakistan from bowling South Africa out, but Pakistan still won by 49 runs.

 

Cricket World Cup Round Six review

In just three days, we’ve seen a wild range of cricket matches and emotions. India outclassed Pakistan in Manchester, Bangladesh finessed their way to a record run chase against the West Indies and England blew away Afghanistan. In a sell-out match, India scored a high total (but not the highest this week) of 336-5, to which Pakistan could only respond 212-6 in 40 overs. West Indies thought they had an upper hand over Bangladesh, scoring 321-8 in the first innings, but Shakib Al-Hasan and Liton Das had other plans in mind. Finally, Eoin Morgan and co. put up 397-6 vs. Afghanistan, to which Afghanistan heroically scored 247-8. Let’s see which players can call themselves winners or losers and predictions for the next four matches.

6160417072_3ece5fb50b_o.jpg

India vs. Pakistan

Winner: Rohit Sharma

Century number two in this World Cup for Rohit Sharma and who better to did than against Pakistan? Nearly every shot of Sharma’s was perfect, pulling the short ones, driving the full ones and he even played spin well, despite Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan looking threatening. Unfortunately, one poor shot in which he attempted to scoop Hasan Ali resulted in him being caught out at short fine leg by Wahab Riaz and Sharma had to depart for 140(113).

Winner: Vijay Shankar

Picture this: Your best fast bowler gets injured in the middle of his over and you bring on a part-timer to finish the over and guess what?! He gets the opponent’s opener out first ball.

After Bhuvneshwar Kumar left the field four balls into his third over due to an ankle sprain, Vijay Shankar continued the over. After Pakistani opener Imam Ul-Haq faced four out-swinging deliveries from Kumar, Shankar’s first delivery swung into leg-stump and the umpire had to give him out LBW.

Loser: MS Dhoni

Well, Mohammad Amir is a hard bowler to face, but no one wants to leave the field for just one run off two balls. It was a very short game for MS Dhoni as he didn’t find any catches behind the stumps either while keeping. And if you’re a keeper, the worst way to be dismissed is being caught behind by the wicketkeeper, and that’s exactly what happened to Dhoni after he edged a bouncer from Amir to Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.

Winner: Amir

There’s just something about England which allows Amir to perform well. He’s currently the World Cup’s highest wicket-taker with 13 to his name, adding three of them from against India. First, he managed to make Indian captain Virat Kohli walk after Kohli thought he edged the ball behind. Then his next two wickets were the dangerous Hardik Pandya and Dhoni. Amir is currently Pakistan’s best bowler but he does have a slight issue: the lack of wickets in the first 10 overs when they really matter.

Loser: Hasan Ali

Just like how Amir was forced to sit out of the side for some time until he regained his form, the same is going to have to be done with Hasan Ali. Ever since Australia’s last tour of the United Arab Emirates, Ali has struggled to find wickets and gradually became more expensive. He bowls short balls when unnecessary and hasn’t been able to land a good yorker as of late. This Sunday, against India, Ali became the most expensive bowler in World Cup history (until Rashid Khan bowled against England on Tuesday) with figures of 0-84.

Winner: Imad Wasim

Although it may not feel like it because of the team’s low morale, Wasim had a rather impressive performance, going for only 49 with the ball and scoring 46(39)* with the bat. He scored six boundaries, all fours and put up a 47-run partnership with Khan.

Winners: Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam

Two of Pakistan’s batsmen were able to prove their consistency. Fakhar Zaman scored a half-century, adding on to his previous 114 against India in the Champions Trophy finals in 2017 and Babar Azam pitched in with his 48(57). Together, the duo put up a 104-run partnership, lasting from the fifth to the 25th over, until Azam was bowled by a beauty of a delivery from Kuldeep Yadav and Zaman saw himself caught by Yuzvenda Chahal.

Loser: Shoaib Malik

Pakistan fans needed some hope and their most experienced batsman, Shoaib Malik steps up to the crease. And wow! Pandya has bowled Malik first ball. A full-length delivery removing off-stump, but it was too quick for Malik to get his footwork right and Pakistan has surely lost the match.

Winner: Pandya

Just like Wasim, Pandya used his all-round skills to perform well with both the bat and the ball, scoring 26(19) and taking two wickets, Mohammad Hafeez and Malik back-to-back.

Winner: Yadav

Turns out Pakistan was unable to play spin well as Yadav’s youthfulness was too good for the Pakistani batsmen to handle. When the Zaman-Azam partnership was threatening, Yadav removed both of them in consecutive overs, one being bowled and one being caught.

 

West Indies vs. Bangladesh

Winners: Mohammad Shaifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman

If these two pacers didn’t bowl well in the death overs, it’s likely that the West Indies would’ve given Bangladesh a target too high to reach. The West Indies had easily reached the 300+ mark, but Mohammad Shaifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman picked up three wickets each and limiting them to just 321-8. The duo’s wickets column are as followed:

  • Chris Gayle c. behind Mushfiqur Rahim b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 0(13) WI: 6-1 3.2 overs
  • Shai Hope c. Liton Das b. Mustafizur Rahman 96(121) WI: 297-7 47 overs
  • Shimron Hetmyer c. Tamim Iqbal b. Mustafizur Rahman 50(26) WI: 242-4 39.3 overs
  • Andre Russel c. behind Mushfiqur Rahim b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 0(2) WI: 243-5 40 overs
  • Jason Holder c. Mahmadullah b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 33(15) WI: 282-6 43.4 overs
  • Dwayne Bravo b. Mohammad Shaifuddin 19(15) WI: 321-8 50 overs

Shaifuddin was effective at striking when the batsmen had just arrived at the crease and were the most vulnerable while Rahman did an excellent job taking the wickets of West Indies’ most important run-getters.

Winner: Evin Lewis

Evin Lewis was struggling in this World Cup, struggling to adapt to English conditions, but that changed against Bangladesh. His 70 off 67 was crucial to prevent Bangladesh from obtaining too many early wickets as Lewis and Shai Hope put on a 116-run partnership, which lasted 127 balls.

Winner: Hope

Well, sure, having hope and optimism is always nice, but I’m referring to the batsman Shai Hope. But let’s be honest. Does the West Indies have any better batsman at the moment? He’s already scored a half-century against Australia and nearly got a century against Bangladesh here before he got caught by Liton Das on 96. His control is a spectacle to see but the greatest marvel is his temperament, going however slow necessary to establish himself and adapt to the bowling.

Winner: Shimron Hetmyer

Although the West Indies had wickets in their hand by the time Shimron Hetmyer had come out to bat, the other batsmen played a bit defensive, requiring a batsman to put his foot on the accelerator. Hetmyer did exactly that. He made 50 in no time, taking up just 33 balls, pushing the Windies to 242-4 by the time he was dismissed in the 40th over.

Winners: Al-Hasan and Das

Nearly every time Bangladesh wins a historical game, it always involves a long-lasting, middle-order partnership. Nearly every time that happens, Al-Hasan is one of the two batsmen. It was such against New Zealand two years ago at Cardiff, against South Africa a few weeks back in London and now vs. the West Indies in Taunton. Al-Hasan scored his second consecutive century of the tournament and Das nearly did so as well, scoring 95 from just 69. The pair lasted 22.3 overs and scored 189 runs in that short period of time!

Losers: Shanon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas

No matter how good West Indian batting can be, it’s always the fast bowling which the opponents are wary of and it’s always the fast bowlers which have won matches for the Windies. Monday was just not one of those days. Opening bowler Oshane Thomas bowled just six overs as he was deemed too expensive by the captain. His six overs went for 52, bowling at an economy of 8.66, although he was able to pick the one wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim. Extras was another big issue for the Men in Maroon as the Windies bowled a total of 26 of them that day, five of them being Thomas’.

Although Shanon Gabriel only bowled one wide instead of the five, he was far more expensive, bowling 8.3 overs for 78 runs, an economy of 9.17. Bangladesh was able to score many runs off of Gabriel, resulting in not just a win, but a very easy and comfortable win.

 

England vs. Afghanistan

Winner: Eoin Morgan

Many doubted Eoin Morgan would have even played in this match after he suffered back spasms against the West Indies, but Morgan came out to bat and that was the end of the match for Afghanistan. Every single strike was clean from the England captain, hitting seventeen sixes, scoring a total of 148 runs from just 71 deliveries. One hundred and four of those runs were just in sixes and Morgan hit more than 1400 meters of sixes on Tuesday.

Winner: Moeen Ali

There have been questions regarding Moeen Ali’s forms as of late as he failed to get going with the bat in the first few matches and was dropped in the following matches. However, coming into the match against Afghanistan, Ali picked the spinners easily, scoring a four and four sixes, propelling the Birmingham man to 31(9)*. He was fine with the ball as well, like usual, conceding only 35 runs in his seven overs for a good One-Day economy of five.

Loser: Rashid Khan

The world’s number one spinner faced the harsh reality of how cruel international cricket can be. Just two days after Ali became Pakistan’s most expensive World Cup bowler with figures of 0-84 against India, Rashid Khan was hit by England’s batsmen for 110 runs from just nine overs, conceding 11 sixes. This will definitely be a day to forget for Khan.

Winner: Rahmat Shah

Without context, the scoreboard cannot tell you the full story. Of course, Afghanistan’s 247-8 was nowhere near England’s 397-6, but Afghanistan actually batted quite well, considering their previous matches. Failing to score 200+ yet in this World Cup, Afghanistan tackled England’s large score head on. Rahmat Shah was a crucial part of that as his 46(74) prevented a middle-order collapse from taking place. He also did well in the field, securing two catches to dismiss Joe Root and Morgan.

Winner: Hashmatullah Shahidi

Cricket fans would’ve been waiting for Hashmatullah Shahidi to put up a good performance after his half-century help Afghanistan beat Pakistan and they got treated to exactly that. Shahidi was able to achieve his maiden World Cup half-century, scoring 76 from 100 balls, before being bowled by Jofra Archer.

 

Round Seven predictions:

Australia vs. Bangladesh at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire on Thursday, June 20:

If Australia bats first: Australia to win by 30 runs.

If Bangladesh bats first: Australia to win by six wickets.

 

England vs. Sri Lanka at Headingley, Leeds on Friday, June 21:

If England bats first: England to win by 55 runs.

If Sri Lanka bats first: England to win by seven wickets.

 

Afghanistan vs. India at The Rose Bowl, Southampton on Saturday, June 22:

If Afghanistan bats first: India to win by nine wickets.

If India bats first: India to win by 190 runs.

 

 

Cricket World Cup Round Five preview

After a weekend of exciting cricket, let’s change things up. Instead of reviewing what’s already happened, why not look forward and start asking some questions? But if want to catch up on what you may have missed this weekend, don’t worry, RahimAli Merchant and I have that ready for you. 

After Monday’s match between South Africa and the West Indies was abandoned due to rain at The Rose Bowl in Southampton, fans turn their heads towards Bristol, where South Asian sides Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka tomorrow. The following day, Pakistan will be looking to continue their winning form against Australia and on Thursday, first-place New Zealand clash with third-place India. Finally, on Friday, England travels to Southampton to meet the West Indies. 

Teams, of course, will have to change and adapt some of their strategies and also work with some important players being out. It’ll be interesting to see how these teams will face their upcoming challenges in the bid for a semi-finals spot. Also, read to see some predictions for these matches. 

4848868372_7e937bf202_b
england v bangladesh, bristol by Synwell is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka @ Bristol on Tuesday, June 11:

Form: Bangladesh could be called favorites to win this match despite losing their last two. Although their batting has shined, it’s been the talented bowling which has failed the Bangladeshis so far. Bangladesh was two wickets short of beating New Zealand after setting the Black Caps a target of just 245 and conceded 386 vs England. But, Bangladesh does have a win against South Africa which will make opponents wary of them.

Sri Lanka has a batting lineup which could easily make Bangladesh suffer. If they work. Captain Dimuth Karunuratne has shown his skill so far in the tournament with a half-century against New Zealand, but Sri Lanka needs others like Angelo Matthews or Thisara Perera to step up and score if Sri Lanka is going to counter a hungry bowling attack like Bangladesh.

Key Players: Going into this match for Bangladesh, although Bangladesh fans will definitely want Shakib Al-Hasan to perform, Bangladesh’s best bowler, Mustafizur Rahman will be important. Bangladesh needs to put pressure on the Sri Lankan batsmen to win and no one better to do that than Rahman.

For Sri Lanka, like I said earlier, Perera needs to get going. When he starts to attack, it’s very difficult, almost impossible, to stop the flow of runs. If Perera can score 40 or more, Sri Lanka can set a target which they should be able to defend.

Question of the match: How many runs can Nuwan Pradeep and Lasith Malinga restrict Bangladesh to?

Prediction:

If Bangladesh bats first: Sri Lanka to win by four wickets

If Sri Lanka bats first: Bangladesh to win by three wickets.

Australia vs Pakistan @ Taunton on Wednesday, June 12:

Form: Although Australia is coming back from a loss against India and Pakistan are entering this match from a win against England, that isn’t the complete picture. Prior to, Australia was on a ten-match winning streak and Pakistan were on a ten-match losing streak. Therefore, both teams have the capability to win or lose.

Key players: Usman Khawaja was on fine form in his tours of the UAE & India, scoring a myriad of tons and half-tons, but since the World Cup started, the short ball has been his biggest fear. Khawaja’s been hit twice in the head from bouncers against the West Indies since the Australian team arrived in the British Isles, and the Pakistanis, especially Wahab Riaz, might know to use the short ball as a tactic against Khawaja. I suppose Australia can bat well overall, even if Khawaja’s poor form continues, but he can win Australia the match early on if he gets going.

For Pakistan, well, we’ve already mentioned his name, Riaz. Although he’s a bit expensive, against England, his fast, pacy, short balls picked up wickets at the right times. He can also bowl a nasty yorker which intimidates his opponents. Oh, and yeah, Riaz has beef with the Aussies going back to the 2015 World Cup after Riaz sledged Shane Watson in the Quarter-Finals.

Question of the match: Can Pakistan’s in-form batting survive Australia’s famed fast bowling?

Prediction:

If Australia bats first: Pakistan to win by five wickets.

If Pakistan bats first: Australia to win by four wickets.

India vs New Zealand @ Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire on Thursday, June 13:

Form: This will be the biggest match of the week. Both teams have started the World Cup flawless, yet to lose a match. India beat a weakened South Africa, but more importantly, they put 352 past Australia. India’s batting is levels ahead of the other sides at the World Cup. Rohit Sharma stands on a century and a half-century in his two matches while Shikhar Dhawan also has a century to his name. The bowling attack is set up well too with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah trying the batsmen. The spinners know their roles too and take important middle overs wickets.

When it comes to New Zealand, their batting has been solid, though the opening could be of slight concern. However, more impressively is the fast bowling, as pacers took nine of New Zealand’s ten wickets against Afghanistan on Thursday. New Zealand’s fast bowlers will be the key to dismantling India.

Key players: At Trent Bridge, you will want a batsman who can strike the ball at a high strike rate. If there are any players on the Indian side which come into mind, it’s Hardik Pandya. Against Australia, he came in and smacked 48 off 27. Someone like Pandya in the side can give New Zealand a target too high to achieve.

For New Zealand, they will want to continue looking to their fast bowlers. Lockie Ferguson has taken the most wickets for his country so far with eight wickets in just three matches at an astonishing average of just 12.37. The last time these two sides met, in a warm-up match, India were bowled out for just 179, with New Zealand winning by six wickets.

Question of the match: How many wickets will Lockie Ferguson and co. be able to take against India?

Prediction: 

If India bat first: India to win by ten runs.

If New Zealand bats first: New Zealand to win by fifteen runs.

England vs the West Indies @ The Rose Bowl, Southampton on Friday, June 14:

Form: This goes for both teams: optimistic with some hiccups along the way. Both teams started in winning ways with England seeing past South Africa before losing to Pakistan and the West Indies beating Pakistan before losing to Australia (though you could argue poor umpiring costed the Windies the win). England, however, has had a chance to pick their form back up in Cardiff after beating Bangladesh by 106 runs, probably making them favorites in this match.

Key players: As per ex-England spinner Graeme Swann, England’s bowling hasn’t been strong enough. If the wicket is bowler friendly, like how the South Africa vs West Indies match should’ve been, then Chris Woakes will want some wickets, being the leader of the English bowling attack. For the West Indies, this man is on crazy form and this man can win the game for the Windies: Sheldon Cottrell. Against Australia, Cottrell had two wickets and catches each before pocketing two more wickets in the seven overs of play against South Africa.

Question of the match: Can the West Indies’ short bowling prevent England from crossing the 300-mark?

Prediction: 

If England bats first: England to win by 25 runs.

If the West Indies bats first: West Indies to win by 15 runs.