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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

Cricket World Cup Round Three recap

In the third round of this year’s Cricket World Cup, we got to see some teams open their World Cup account, some fall behind others and of course close, thrilling encounters. India started their campaign late against a rather weakened, but fearless South Africa. Bangladesh came oh so close to worrying New Zealand. And Australia came back from 79-5 to beat the West Indies by 15 runs.

Unfortunately, fans were not able to see Sri Lanka fight Pakistan as that match was rained out in Bristol. Let’s which factors steered the three matches played in the directions they did. Also, stick around till the end to see my predictions for four matches: England v Bangladesh, Afghanistan v New Zealand, Australia v India and South Africa v West Indies. 

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Dharma Chandru Cric Ph (3) by Chubby Chandru is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

India vs South Africa

Winner: Jasprit Bumrah

The hype around Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling has been around for years, but Wednesday’s match against South Africa was actually his World Cup debut. And he did brilliantly. He got the two South African openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock out, but more importantly, his ten overs only yielded 35 runs.

Winner: Yuzvendra Chahal

India knew spin was the key to victory and Yuzvendra Chahal stepped up. He took four wickets at 51 runs from ten overs, bowling both Faf du Plessis and Russie van der Dussen, catching David Miller and stumping Andile Phelukwayo.

Loser: Shikhar Dhawan

Shikhar Dhawan has a reputation for performing well in international tournaments but since arriving in the UK, he hasn’t been able to strike gold yet. In India’s warm-up matches, Dhawan was only able to score 2(7) and 1(9). When it really mattered, against South Africa, Dhawan was caught behind for just eight runs.

Winner: Kagiso Rabada

Even though South Africa failed with the bat, their bowlers gave one hell of a fight. Especially fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. India shouldn’t need 43 overs to chase 228, but Rabada fought till the last ball. Rabada managed to find the two wickets of Dhawan and KL Rahul and conceded only 39 runs, including a maiden.

Winner: Rohit Sharma

Yup. That man again. Rohit Sharma alone has won matches for India and he did it again. While the rest of the Indian batsmen struggled against South Africa, Sharma ended up scoring a century and putting 13 fours and two sixes past the ropes along the way. His century awarded him Man of the Match.

 

Bangladesh vs New Zealand

Winner: Ross Taylor

Batting against Bangladeshi fast bowling and heavy spin isn’t easy by any means but Ross Taylor stayed at the crease, defending his wicket. Taylor scored 82(91). Taylor was also involved in a 105-run match-winning partnership with captain Kane Williamson, who scored 40.

Loser: Mushfiqur Rahim

After fairing just 19 with the bat, wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim made an even bigger mistake in the second innings. After Tamim Iqbal had collected the ball at mid-on and threw it at the batting end, Taylor was set up to be run-out but Rahim’s arms came in the way, knocking the bails off the stumps before the ball, saving Taylor. Taylor then went on to score his 82, costing Bangladesh dearly.

 

Australia vs West Indies

Winner: Sheldon Cottrell

First with the ball, then in the field, Sheldon Cottrell impressed. His two wickets for 56 runs were a part of Australia’s dismal collapse, in the beginning, claiming the names of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, saluting them back to the pavilion. But the craziest moment came when he helped dismiss Steve Smith by taking a catch on the boundary line. When Cottrell had grabbed onto the ball, he threw it back up in the air as his momentum took him past the boundary edge, then came back in as the ball was returning to secure the wicket.

Winner: Alex Carry

The Australian wicket-keeper knew exactly what to do when he came out to bat. He knew before runs, the Australians somehow had to prevent losing their wickets, so Alex Carey did exactly that. After defending for a few overs, Carey then leaked runs scoring 45 from just 55 before being caught behind by Shai Hope.

Winner: Steve Smith

It seems that Steve Smith might be one of the most consistent batsmen in this tournament, along with the likes of Sharma, Taylor or Babar Azam. Smith batted with such composure against the West Indies, it was as if the batting collapse prior to his innings never occurred or was never in the back of his mind. Smith, just like Carey, had defended for quite some time before going onto the attack. The result? A masterclass 73(103) by the Aussie.

Winner: Nathan Coulter-Nile

He’s in the side as a bowler, but when Australia needed someone to bat well, Nathan Coulter-Nile stepped up. The no. eight batsman nearly earned his maiden century, scoring 92 from just 60 deliveries, setting him up at a strike rate of 153.33! That match-turning innings fairly earned him Man of the Match.

Winner: Chris Gayle

If you were to check the scorecard, you’d ask how does someone call themselves a winner after scoring just 21? Well, you’d be surprised what occurred during Gayle’s 21. From ball one to 17, Gayle had crossed a personal achievement of 3000 World Cup runs! And in the innings prior to, Gayle in the fielding saw him become a hero to the crowd, saluting the crowd every time the ball just came in his hands. Hmm…is there a way to insert a laughing emoji in this article?

Winner: Shai Hope

After coming into this World Cup on impeccable form, Hope scored his maiden World Cup half-century. After taking four catches in the first innings, Hope went on to score 68(105), putting the West Indies in a winning position.

Losers: The Umpires

But the West Indies didn’t win, did they? Honestly, even though the Windies lost wickets late, I still feel like they deserved the win. And the umpiring stole it from them. By the time captain Jason Holder was dismissed in the 46th over, West Indies hadn’t lost a review despite using a review four times to that point. Meaning the umpires had been wrong multiple times. But the worst bit came in the fifth over, when Gayle was dismissed by an LBW from Mitchell Starc. Gayle shouldn’t have been dismissed as the ball prior to was a No-ball, but none of the umpires had caught it. As commentator Michael Holding puts it: “Umpiring in this game has been atrocious. Even when I was playing, when they weren’t as strict as now, you were allowed 1 appeal, you don’t appeal 2,3,4 times. If umpires are intimidated that means they’re weak – this has been atrocious by both umpires.”

Winner: Starc

Starc still bowled excellently, though. He earned his sixth five-for in One-Day Internationals, conceding just 46 runs in this match. Towards the end of the innings, Starc ended up getting the key wicket of Holder, who had crossed the fifty mark, threatening Australia’s winning chances. But Starc made sure that didn’t happen and Australia took the two points home.

 

Those were some action-packed matches, but I don’t suspect that’ll be the end of it. India will take on Australia next in a thrilling blockbuster for sure, as the rivalry between the two sides has heated up in the last few years. Bangladesh will look to beat England once again while England needs to get back to winning, after losing to Pakistan. New Zealand’s next encounter is against Afghanistan, who need a win, and South Africa will search for two points against the West Indies. Let’s see some of my predictions for a few of these matches:

 

England vs Bangladesh @ Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Saturday, June 8:

If England bats first: Bangladesh to win by two wickets.

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

 

Afghanistan vs New Zealand @ Taunton County Ground on Saturday, June 8:

If Afghanistan bats first: New Zealand to win by five wickets.

If New Zealand bats first: New Zealand to win by 100 runs.

 

Australia vs India @ The Oval, London on Sunday, June 9:

If Australia bats first: Australia to win by 20 runs.

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

 

South Africa vs the West Indies @ The Rose Bowl, Southampton on Monday, June 10:

If South Africa bats first: West Indies to win by three wickets.

If West Indies bats first: South Africa to win by five wickets.

Cricket World Cup preview part three: West Indies, Sri Lanka and India

Just one day left before the biggest cricketing festival of the year starts and one more preview to do! The World Cup kicks off tomorrow with England opening up against South Africa and you can check out our preview of those two teams along with Australia here. West Indies will play Pakistan first on Friday, May 31 in Nottinghamshire, Sri Lanka will have to face New Zealand the following day in Cardiff and India are pitted against South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday, June 5. You can check out yesterday’s preview of Pakistan and New Zealand along with Afghanistan and Bangladesh here. Also, at the end of this article, I’ll reveal my predictions for Round One’s games. 

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P1074751 by Anthony Hawkins is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

West Indies

Last World Cup: After their group stage was a roller-coaster ride, West Indies were thrashed by New Zealand in the quarter-finals, who scored 393-6, beating the Windies by 143 runs thanks to Martin Guptill’s 237(163)*. In the group stages, they lost to Ireland and India by four wickets, to South Africa by 257 runs, who scored 408-5 against them. However, there were some positives. The Windies dismantled Pakistan, beating them by 150 runs. At one point in that match, Pakistan went from 1-4 to 25-5 and Jerome Taylor bowled 3-15 in his seven overs. The West Indies also beat Zimbabwe by 73 runs with Chris Gayle scoring 215(147) in the Windies’ 372-2.

World Cup best: No matter how good this West Indian side can be, none will ever come close to that of the ’70s. In 1975 and 1979, Clive Lloyd lifted the World Cup trophy twice, both in England.

Strong point: After seeing the West Indies put 421 past New Zealand in a warm-up game, it’s clearly the batting. This time around, West Indies have a confident batting lineup with Chris Gayle, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer. In his last eight innings, Hope has scored three centuries and two half-centuries, providing the Windies security in the middle.

Weak point: Although the pace bowling can be expensive at times, they are usually reliable. But as of late, the lack of a match-winning spinner may cost the West Indies. Without Sunil Narine in the side and Davendra Bishoo struggling to find form, captain Jason Holder will have to place faith in off-spinner Ashley Nurse.

Player to watch: Hope. His scores speak for themselves and his One-Day International (ODI) average of 51 is on par with the likes of Virat Kohli and Babar Azam.

Prediction: Their batting will win them some matches, their bowling will lose them some. They can beat any opponent on their day, but being dark horses, a guess in the ballpark would be a ninth-placed finish for me.

 

Sri Lanka

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Mahela Fielding by Kesara Rathnayake is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Last World Cup: It was the last World Cup of famed Sri Lankan duo Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena but they didn’t make it any further than Pakistan or the West Indies, losing to South Africa in the quarter-finals. Sri Lanka beat South Asian rivals Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the group stages, but their most impressive win was against England, in which they chased 310 with just losing one wicket.

World Cup best: The sight of Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto handing the World Cup trophy to Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya in Lahore in 1996 will remain evergreen for cricketing fans. It was their first World Cup and they went on to beat Australia in the finals. Since ’96, Sri Lanka came close by placing runners-up in 2011 in India.

Strong point: Even though they have struggled to perform as of late, Sri Lanka is known to be a good batting side. The experience in the Sri Lankan team resides with the batting in names such as Angelo Matthews or Thisara Perera. In 2017, they successfully beat India in the Champions Trophy in 2017 after chasing down 322 after losing just three wickets.

Weak point: Oof…where do I start? Lasith Malinga’s getting old and the other fast bowlers are rather inexperienced. The spinners are unconfident. But the worst part of it all is the fielding. Sri Lankan fielding in recent times can feel like a joke. You can expect to place a bet on Sri Lanka dropping some crucial catches in the coming weeks.

Player to watch: The captain, Dimuth Karunuratne. Forget about his limited captaining experience, he’s only played 18 ODIs for Sri Lanka and has been made captain. His average is only 20.53 and in 18 innings, he’s only found two 50+ scores. Karunaratne is going to have to step up to the occasion and provide Sri Lanka a way to win, especially after his side lost both of their warm-up matches to South Africa and Australia.

Prediction: Even Afghanistan is capable of defeating this depleted Sri Lankan side. They’re going to need a miracle to win even a single match. The competition’s on a whole other level. It looks like Sri Lanka might end up having to settle for tenth place.

 

India

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Dharma Chandru Cric Ph (6) by Chubby Chandru is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Last World Cup: Although India played some good cricket in 2015, Australia, who went on to be champions, proved to be too strong for them as India were knocked out in the Semi-finals.

World Cup best: Not sure which side would be scarier to face: Kapil Dev’s India which won the World Cup in 1983 or MS Dhoni’s India which won in 2011.

Strong point: Unlike Sri Lanka, where it was difficult to pinpoint which problem was the worst, with India, it’s hard to pinpoint which part of the team is the best. But I’m going to go with what will win India the World Cup if they do: spin. Indian spinners are thriving and now captain Kohli has to choose between three successful spinners to play: Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav or Kedar Jadhav.

Weak point: Although the middle order’s been a worry for some time, India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan struggled to perform in India’s warm-up games against New Zealand and Bangladesh. India has cover in the middle order now after KL Rahul’s century against Bangladesh at Cardiff, along with Kohli, Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Jadeja.

Player to watch: Yadav. He’s young, he’s hungry and he’s a wicket-taker. His 87 wickets at an average of just 21.74 in ODIs is exciting to see and he will definitely cause India’s opponents trouble.

Prediction: This India side is good enough to win the World Cup, but I think they’ll finish second, losing to hosts England in the Finals.

 

All ten teams are ready to start their World Cup campaigns, starting tomorrow, May 30 at The Oval  in London. India get a bit of a break as their next match is still a week away, but the rest of the other teams have matches within this upcoming week. This World Cup will be one of the most competitive in history as anyone has a fair shot at winning. Hopefully, that competitiveness will translate into matches and fans will be surely entertained.

 

Round one predictions:

England vs South Africa @ The Oval, London on Thursday, May 30:

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

If South Africa bats first: England to win by six wickets.

 

Pakistan vs the West Indies @ Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire on Friday, May 31:

If Pakistan bats first: Pakistan to win by 45 runs.

If the West Indies bats first: West Indies to win by 55 runs.

 

New Zealand vs Sri Lanka @ Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Saturday, June 1:

If New Zealand bats first: New Zealand to win by 80 runs.

If Sri Lanka bats first: New Zealand to win by four wickets.

 

Afghanistan vs Australia @ The Ageas Bowl, Bristol on Saturday, June 1:

If Afghanistan bats first: Australia to win by seven wickets.

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

 

What you may have missed this weekend in sports: 1/18 – 1/20

Well, we’re only three weeks into 2019, but it may be hard to find another weekend later on in the year as entertaining as this past weekend was. Despite there being only two NFL games, the two ended up playing with fans’ hearts. Interesting headlines were also made in boxing, college basketball, the NBA, the English Premier League and in cricket. But first and foremost, the Super Bowl teams have been decided.

Tom Brady, a National Football League player.” by Jeffrey Beall is licensed under CC BY 4.0

NFL Playoffs

Tom Brady and the Patriots not done with Atlanta yet

As if what the New England Patriots did to Atlanta two years back wasn’t bad enough, this year, Atlanta will have to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl in their own backyard. Despite both the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots being close in the AFC Championship, with the Patriots winning by one touchdown in overtime, 37-31, it was clear from the start who would win, as Tom Brady’s side was winning 14-0 at the half. Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs were struggling offensively, as he faced constant pressure from the Patriots’ defensive line. However, through the use of shotgun passes, the Chiefs came back and managed a 31-31 tie before falling in OT.

Favorites Saints knocked out in New Orleans

Despite beating them once this season already, Los Angeles found a win against the New Orleans Saints in overtime, 26-23. As expected, being at home in New Orleans, the Saints dominated early, ending the first quarter 0-13. However, a Los Angeles touchdown eased the pressure as the half-time score read 10-13. In the dire final moment, the Rams secured a field goal to tie 23-23 and then followed up with another monster 57-yard field goal to win 26-23.

However, it could be argued that Saints should’ve progressed to the Super Bowl before overtime. When the score was tied at 20 with just 1:45 left, Robey-Coleman of the Rams made helmet-to-helmet contact with a Saints receiver and should have been called for pass interference, but their was no penalty called. If a penalty was called, the Saints would’ve been in prime scoring position to put the Rams away.

 

Boxing

At the age of 40, Manny Pacquiao did not just win against Adrien Broner, he out-classed him. Pacquiao won unanimously, but even statistically, the fight was his. Within the first three rounds, Broner faced 70 jabs from the Filipino, and in total, Pacquiao won 118-110 on points. Afterwards, Pacquiao claimed he’d be willing to fight Floyd Mayweather as well.

 

NBA

Cousins’ impressive debut

After injuring his Achilles while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans and signing with the Golden State Warriors, DeMarcus Cousins made his debut. It was as Stephen Curry describes, “Poetry in motion”. In the Warriors’ 112-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Cousins scored 14 points, along with six rebounds and three assists. He did fouled out after just 15 minutes, but if he played longer, we surely would’ve seen more from him.

Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid rivalry renewed

When asked if Joel Embiid had fouled Russell Westbrook in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 115-113 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, Westbrook simply responded with, “Go home bro.” This clearly frustrated Embiid, who defensively responded by saying Westbrook was the one who needed to “go home.” The conflict started on-court when it appeared that multiple times, both players fouled each other. Both sides play each other again on February 28th.

 

College Basketball

Losses by top 25 teams

2 Michigan to Wisconsin (64-54)
4 Virginia to 1 Duke (72-70)
7 Kansas to West Virginia (65-64)
8 Texas Tech to Baylor (73-62)
14 Auburn to 12 Kentucky (82-80)
20 Oklahoma to Texas (75-72)
25 Indiana to Purdue (70-55)

 

Soccer

Arsenal stun Chelsea

When fifth-placed, defensively weak Arsenal took on organized, fourth-placed Chelsea, it only made sense for Chelsea to win, but The Emirates had other plans that night. Chelsea’s pacy attack failed to score any goals, as they fell to the Gunners 2-0, thanks to goals by Alexandre Lacazette and Captain/Defender Laurent Koscielny. Despite this, the teams’ positions in the Premier League table did not change.

Crystal Palace temporarily trouble Liverpool

Liverpool got themselves the three points against Crystal Palace on Saturday, but Crystal Palace left Anfield making a statement. Within the last six minutes, the score went from Liverpool 3-2 Crystal Palace to Liverpool 4-3 Crystal Palace, goals by Sadio Mané for Liverpool and Max Meyer for Crystal Palace. Liverpool managed to grab three points and retain their position at the top of the table on an entertaining night at Anfield. Crystal Palace currently sit 14th with 22 points.

US Women’s team gets off to losing start

The US Women’s team, ranked number one, lost in a friendly against hosts France. USA lost 3-1, with the US’ only goal being Mallory Pugh’s late in the 91st minute. The US play Spain next tomorrow at 20:30 (8:30 PM) GMT or 2:30 PM EST and will be live on ESPN2 in the United States.

 

Cricket

India wins ODI series in Australia

Despite winning the first ODI is spectacular fashion, Australia was quick to succumb to the Indian batting line and Wicket-keeper MS Dhoni’s fine finishing abilities. India won the series 1-2 after beating Australia in the third ODI by seven wickets, with the Aussies setting the Indians a low total of 231. India’s bowling was dominated by spinner Yuzvenda Chahal, who upon being called up to the team for the third ODI, was gifted six wickets for 42 runs. In the second innings, captain Virat Kholi taught the Australians batting with his 46(62) and two half-centuries followed suit in MS Dhoni’s 87(114)* and Kedhar Jadhav’s quick 61(57)*. Chahal received Man of the Match while Dhoni got Man of the Series.

Pakistan turn things around against South Africa

Although Pakistan was tipped to find victory in the One-Day series against South Africa, at the innings break of the first ODI, it seemed that South Africa controlled the match. South Africa had finished their batting innings on 266-2, with Hashim Amla scoring a record-breaking 108(120)* and debutant Rassie van der Dussen scoring 93(101). However, it wasn’t enough as Pakistan chased the target in 49.1 overs with five wickets remaining. Imam Ul-Haq scored 86(101) and Man of the Match Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan to victory with his 71(63)*.

David Warner’s unorthodox batting

David Warner, who normally bats left-handed, decided to switch to his right hand after facing three dots from Chris Gayle. What followed was incredible. On his “wrong” hand, Warner scored 14 off three, compared to the earlier zero off three. This occurred in a Bangladesh Premier League match between Dhaka Dynamites and Sylhet Sixers, in which Warner, who plays for Sylhet, scored a total of 63(43) in the Sixers’ 158-8. Dhaka ended up winning by six wickets.

Why cricket is an art

The famed Greek thinker, Plato, once recorded a conversation between his teacher and Gorgias, a ‘rhetoric’. In it, Gorgias claims he practices the art of rhetoric, but Socrates argues that he wouldn’t even consider rhetoric a craft. Rather, he gives rhetoric the title of knack.

The difference? This he explains using a chef and a pastry maker. Both have skills sets which are branches of culinary, but one of them has a craft and the other a knack. When one has a craft, he does his job for the sake of people, such as a cobbler, who makes his shoes for people. The other, who holds a knack, has a set of skills but doesn’t do his work in regards to its effects on people.

In the case of this example, the chef is the one with a craft while the pastry baker holds a knack. But amongst this conversation between Socrates and Gorgias, another caste emerges: art itself.

England’s Steve Harmison bowling against New Zealand at Lord’s. May 20, 2004” by Peter Meade is licensed under CC BY 2.0

So why is art not necessarily a craft? Well going back to the chef, the skill sets he holds can be applied at any time, granted he has the right resources. If you tell him to make rice, for example, if he follows the same process every time, the rice will always turn out the same. But for artists, this may not always be the case. The way artists perform their skills can be different based on factors not in their control. The time, events which inspire, emotions all play into effect, which obviously fluctuates and are never static.

A writer may not write with the same emotion at night as he would in the morning. A writer may not display the same emotion in his writing every night. His poems will surely not always be the same. The events which happen to him, the feelings he responds with, determine what this writer would write.

But the door of art is wide open. Who is an artist can come from any mind, any soul. Meaning, the range of which activities can be considered art would be a very wide range. Perhaps even in the realm of sports.

Now sports are usually followed for entertainment purposes, but for most of its history, cricket was different. Before the World Wars, playing cricket was a sign of prestige, and typically, only the wealthy in England played. Towards the close of the British Empire, cricket had become popular in regions where the British had previously occupied.

The way art is expressed has always changed when interacting with new people or new ideas, such as the European floral designs in the Taj Mahal or the presence of Islamic-style architecture in Spain. As cricket spread, the way cricket could have been played was changed, along with the cricketers themselves. The same way cricket was played in England was not to be the same way it was going to be played in Australia, Sri Lanka, India, etc.

In England, where the ball swings much more and much later, the country has always had famed swing bowlers, from Freddie Flintoff to Stuart Broad and James Anderson. That is their art, to swing the ball. But those same bowlers won’t swing the ball as much in Pakistan or Sri Lanka, for example. They have the skills to do so, but the factors aren’t right. Just like how a writer can’t write with the same emotion whenever he wishes. In both cases, cricket and writing here are types of art.

Jimmy Anderson bowling at the WACA during the 2013-14 Ashes” by Dan Heap is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Outside of England, other places will produce other types of cricketers. The spinning pitches in Sri Lanka and India have given cricket greats like Rangana Herath, Murali Muralitharan and Anil Kumble. It would be really difficult to get cricketers to become successful in the art of spin from a place like Australia or South Africa. Speaking of Australia, famed cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle said after India’s first ODI vs. Australia that Australia had pitches which produced great batsmen, “flat-track bullies”. The kind like Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Steve Smith. The other thing he said was that Australia had a “fertile” line of fast bowlers. The kind of fast bowlers Australia can produce, the ones which fearlessly bowl bouncers, who bowl no less than 140 km/h. The kinds like Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Brett Lee and Dennis Lillee. Surely if these bowlers were born elsewhere, they wouldn’t be famed for their scary, pace bowling.

picture of the ‘guard of honour’ given to Muttiah Muralitharan by his teammates when they came of the field in Harare after Muralitharan broke Courtney Walsh’s record. Zimbabwe 2004.” by Ajithjay is licensed under CC BY 3.0

In all these examples, cricketers possess the skills to do great things. But just like any artist, that skill cannot be replicated exactly wherever, whenever. The way Yasir Shah bowls in the UAE, he can’t be as marvelous in Australia. Many factors which are outside of cricketers’ hands affect the way cricketers play their game, just like how emotions or events affect poets and writers. Therefore, cricket is art.

 

What you may have missed this weekend in sports: 1/4-1/6

As promised, we have brought back the “What you missed this weekend” articles. You can see last week’s here! This week is much of the same in terms of the NFL news, as it’s real playoff heavy. But there is news from other sports you might be interested in. So let’s find out what you may have missed!

0 Philadelphia Eagles Nick Foles” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

NFL Playoffs

By RahimAli Merchant and Aman Huda

Colts beat Texans 21-7

Were you surprised in what the Colts defense did to the Texans? To be honest, I’m not! The Colts had the Texans’ number all season. They should’ve beaten them all three times instead of letting the Texans come back and win in overtime during their first meeting. The Colts took care of Texans, with both the offense and defense looking great! QB Andrew Luck had two touchdowns in the first half. Then they melted the clock, continuing to pressure Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the run game. Their next opponent will be the Kansas City Chiefs, and it’ll interesting to see how well the Colts’ secondary can play against MVP candidate QB Patrick Mahomes.

Cowboys beat Seahawks 24-22

Dallas won their fourth playoff game in the last 24 years. In 1995, the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl. They are looking to add another one this season. It was a nice win for the Cowboys, as they continue to prove they are worthy of being in the playoffs. The defense looks like it could be a championship defense. QB Dak Prescott didn’t look all that bad either, but can he continue to be great for the Cowboys? Their next opponent will be the Los Angeles Rams. The Dallas defense will be out to prove they can once again take down one of the best offensive teams in the league. They’ve already done it once to the Saints this season. Can they do it again?

Baltimore’s offensive errors cost them dearly

Within the first five minutes of play, the Ravens made mistakes which even high school teams wouldn’t. They fumbled three times, two of them from not receiving the snap. Their offensive line was also quite poor, with the QB having being sacked seven times. Melvin Ingram’s fourth-quarter touchdown seemed to be the gravestone for Baltimore, as that gave the Los Angeles Chargers a 20-3 lead. Afterward, despite scoring two touchdowns, Baltimore couldn’t do enough to repair the damage.

The Chargers’ next opponent is the New England Patriots. They have the ability on defense to slow down a Patriots team that’s been slow already. This is the playoff Patriots, and they are a totally different team in the playoffs. Do the Chargers have what it takes to knock them off?

A drama in which the hero dies

When everything seemed perfect for the Bears, everything fell into the Eagles’ claws, as QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles win as underdogs again. Both sides on defense showed strength, as at half-time, the score read Chicago 6, Philadelphia 3, all points from field goals. Philadelphia ended up getting the better end of it, as Cody Parkey, the Chicago kicker, hit the post twice when Chicago needed one point to win. The game ended Chicago 15, Philadelphia 16.

The Eagles’ next opponent is the Saints. They will be looking to avoid another embarrassing loss to them. The last time these two teams played, the Eagles looked like a team that just came into the league. Their QB at the time was also Carson Wentz, so hopefully, Nick Foles and the Eagles’ defense can find a way to win.

 

MLB

By RahimAli Merchant

The New York Yankees-Zach Britton agreement

The Yankees reached an agreement with relief pitcher Zach Britton, which was a three-year, $39 million deal, league sources told ESPN. Britton was one of the most dominant closers in baseball with the Baltimore Orioles until he was traded to the Yankees for three prospects. With the Yankees, he went 1-0 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings and finished the season with seven saves and 34 strikeouts over 40⅔ innings in 41 appearances. He will continue to be a part of the devastating late-inning complement to closer Aroldis Chapman, setup man Dellin Betances and fireman Chad Green, as they look to pursue their 28th World Series title.

 

NBA

By Aman Huda

Warriors, Kings set three-point record

For the first time in NBA history, both sides scored 20+ three-pointers. There was a total of 41 three-pointers scored Saturday night. Starman Stephen Curry for the Golden State Warriors scored 42 of Golden State’s 127 points, but the margin between both California teams was very fine, as Sacramento ended up losing by just four points. This match did not go without referring controversy, however, which you can check out in Kevin Dannaher’s article. 

 

College Football

By Aman Huda and RahimAli Merchant

Cal CB Bryce Turner dies at 20

After being hospitalized on December 30th for an undisclosed medical emergency, Bryce Turner has passed away. After transferring from Long Beach City College, the 20-year old had just played one game before his passing.

Cal Coach Joe Wilcox said, “We are so deeply saddened by Bryce’s passing. This is an extremely difficult day for everyone. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Bryce’s family, friends, teammates and so many others who have been a part of his life. No words can accurately describe the pain we feel in our hearts right now. We’ll always remember Bryce and how he impacted all of us with Cal football.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bryce’s friends and family.

North Dakota State wins FCS Title

We will all find out who the CFB National champ is on Monday between Alabama and Clemson, but this past weekend we got to see North Dakota State win their second straight FCS National Championship title. This is their seventh title in eight years. All congrats are given to them for being able to dominate the FCS world for so many years. They are the only college football program to ever win five consecutive NCAA national championships, and the only football program to win seven FCS titles.

 

College Basketball

By RahimAli Merchant

St. John’s wins against Georgetown for the first time since 03′

St. John’s been looking like a team who could make a big impact in the tournament when it comes time in March. After losing their first game to Seton Hall last week, they rebounded by beating Marquette and Georgetown this week. They will likely get a spot in the top 25 rankings, but even if they don’t, a win over rival Georgetown after 16 years is the best feeling. That should help them carry over their momentum to the next few games, which will definitely put them in the top 25 if they manage to win them.

Losses by top 25 teams

14 Ohio State to 8 Michigan State (86-77)
5 Kansas to Iowa State (77-60)
6 Nevada to New Mexico (85-58)
13 Kentucky to Alabama (77-75)
9 Florida State to 4 Virginia (65-52)
2 Michigan- 21 Indiana (74-63)
24 Nebraska-25 Iowa (93-84)

 

Cricket

Pakistani batsmen not good enough

Despite efforts by Shan Masood 44(71) & 61(110), Captain/Wicket-Keeper Sarfraz Ahmed 56(81), Asad Shafiq 88(118) and Babar Azam 72(87), Pakistan could only put up a lead of 40, giving South Africa an entire two days to simply chase 41. It wasn’t necessarily the most easy thing for South Africa, as Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas managed to dismiss Theunis de Bruyn and Hashim Amla was retired hurt, but the loss by 9 wickets is still dismal in Pakistan’s point-of-view.

Unfortunately, due to slow over rate, South African Captain Faf du Plessis has been suspended for the third test, a dead rubber, as South Africa has already won the series 2-0.

Too-good India forced to settle for a draw

Man of the match for Australia in the fourth test vs India? Rain. With just a little over 25 overs played in the last two days, India couldn’t see victory despite putting up 622-7d and bowling Australia out for 300. Despite a five-wicket haul from young leg-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and 193 by Cheteshwar Pujara and 153* by Risabh Pant, India was unable to bowl out Australia a second time, after Australia were forced to follow on at home, for the first time in 37 years.