Monthly Archives: October 2015

England Strikes Back

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Cook leads England reply with classy unbeaten 168

England’s Alastair Cook has now scored a Test century in all nine countries he played in.

First Test, Abu Dhabi, day three

Pakistan 523-8 dec: Malik 245, Shafiq 107; Stokes 4-57

England 290-3: Cook 168*, Bell 63

England trail by 233 runs

It was an uphill battle, but a resolute Captain Alastair Cook leads England’s reply with a splendid unbeaten 168 in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

On Cook’s watch, England ground along to 290 for 3 by the close, a position of relative serenity given their travails in the field on the first two days.

The bulk of his work was split between two century partnerships, first with Moeen Ali, who was a qualified success in his first outing as a Test opening batsman, and then with a hard-grafting Ian Bell, who eventually found his feet, and his footwork, after a horrifically jittery start before slashing at a wide one from Wahab Riaz in the closing overs of the day.

He batted throughout the third day but England lost two wickets in three overs late on as they closed on 290-3, needing 34 more to avoid the follow-on.

Those two wickets for four runs boosted Pakistani spirits on another day when bat dominated ball, on a soporific surface which has been widely criticized.

Cook’s 28th Test century was typical of so many of his previous 27, founded on patience, discipline and excellent shot selection.

His approach was unaffected by the departure of Moeen, who was caught behind for 35 pushing at Rahat Ali shortly before lunch to end a patient first innings as a Test opener.

Cook had made 147 by the time he offered a chance, substitute fielder Fawad Alam dropping a tumbling effort at backward square-leg off a top-edged sweep.

Blue Jays Beats Rangers in Dramatic Win

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Blue Jay’s Bautista flips his bat after hitting a tiebreaker.

With two out and the game tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin’s throwback to the pitcher hit Shin-Soo Choo’s bat.

This allowed Rougned Odor to score the go-ahead run even though plate umpire Dale Scott had waved the play dead.

The Blue Jays protested the game and the fans went crazy, throwing stuff on the field, but Odor’s run held up to give the Rangers the lead.

And then Texas gave the game right back to Toronto.

In the bottom of the inning, the Rangers made three consecutive infield errors, with each of them involving shortstop Elvis Andrus’ glove.

He bobbled Martin’s grounder to start things off.

Then Mitch Moreland threw what should have been an easy forceout into the turf, and it bounced out of Andrus’ glove to put runners at first and second.

Then Andrus dropped the throw at third base on Ryan Goins’ poor sacrifice bunt attempt to load the bases.

Toronto wound up scoring four runs to take the lead, with the big blow being Jose Bautista’s three-run homer that sparked the first of two bench-clearing shoving matches on the field.

Toronto fans will always remember it as the game their Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers 6-3 and advanced to the American League Championship Series despite having lost the first two games at home.

Meanwhile, everyone else will recall it as perhaps the wildest, strangest and most-argued postseason inning ever.

Malik-Shafiq Duo Demolishes England

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Shafiq helped Pakistan put on a record score against England for the fifth wicket

Scoreboard: England 56 for 0 (Cook 39*, Moeen 15*) trail Pakistan 523 for 8 dec (Malik 245, Shafiq 107, Stokes 4-57) by 467 runs

Shoaib Malik registered his maiden Test double century to put Pakistan in a commanding position on the second day of the first Test against England.

Malik, playing his first Test in five years, hit 245 and shared in a record fifth-wicket partnership of 248 with fellow centurion Asad Shafiq (107).

Shafiq alongside him chipped in with a century of his own, and though both men survived notable moments of good fortune on the first day of the contest, neither offered another sniff of an opportunity.

It was until an improbable clatter of wickets after tea, when fatigue and the impending declaration enabled England’s toiling seamers to massage their stats, in particular Ben Stokes who emerged with the oddly respectable figures of 4 for 57.

The Malik-Shafiq partnership was a fifth-wicket record for Pakistan in Tests against England, beating the 197-run stand at Lord’s between Javed Burki and Nasim-ul-Ghani that had stood since 1962.

It continued their run of staggering batting form in Tests in Abu Dhabi, where they have never yet lost a match and where they have now recorded 11 hundreds in their last two-and-a-half Tests, dating back to the visit of Australia last October.

Too Hot for England?

England toiled in the Abu Dhabi heat, failing to take a wicket until the final session of the day.

However, Alastair Cook and Moeen Ali saw the tourists to 56-0 at the close.

Cook, in particular, looked fluent as he reached 39 not out while Moeen (15 not out) was more watchful against a combination of intimidating pace from Wahab Riaz and wily spin from slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar.

Captain Cook, who has now shared in half-century partnerships with Moeen in each of their four innings batting together, did have one momentary scare when he almost chopped on.

In the same motion, the left-hander appeared as though he might try and handle the ball but, luckily for England, he resisted and saw England to the close 467 runs in arrears.


England captain Alastair Cook stood firm to bring his team back.

Smooth Sailing for Andy Murray in Shanghai Masters

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Respecful: Murray showing sportsman behavior after what was an easy win.

Great Britain’s tennis hero Andy Murray secured a comfortable win over America’s Steve Johnson in an opening match of the Shanghai Masters event.

Murray, 28, had won the match with a distinct margin of 6-2, 6-4.

Although the world number two had dropped serve in the first game of the match he was rarely troubled by the Johnson in his first outing since GB’s Davis Cup semi-final victory over Australia on 20 September.

He will be going up against John Isner, another American in the third round.

Isner’s 6-3 7-6 (7-5) victory over Belgian David Goffin prevented a dress-rehearsal meeting between the world number 16 and Murray before next month’s Davis Cup final.

World number one Novak Djokovic also reached round three, beating Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 6-2 6-1.

Rafael Nadal also made it through but had a much tougher time.

It took Nadal two hours and 43 minutes to overcome Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4).

Looking ahead to facing Isner, Murray told Sky Sports: “I think he quite likes the conditions here because it’s quick and he’s a tough guy to play against.”

After starting slowly against Johnson, Murray broke the American’s serve three times to claim the first set.

The Scot encountered greater resistance in the second set and two double faults in a row helped gift Johnson two break points at 3-3. But a precise drop volley allowed Murray to see off the danger.

With Johnson serving at 4-5, a lob set up three match points and Murray clinched it at the second opportunity when the American sent a forehand long after one hour and 16 minutes.