Battling Pakistan holds up South Africa victory march

Updated 04 February 2013
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Battling Pakistan holds up South Africa victory march

JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq held up South Africa’s push for victory with a defiant fifth wicket partnership on the third day of the first Test at the Wanderers Stadium yesterday.
Pakistan were 183 for four at the close after being set to make an improbable 480 to win.
The match seemed headed for an early finish when the first four wickets fell for 82 runs, but Pakistan captain Misbah (44 not out) and the stocky Shafiq (53 not out) defended grimly for more than three hours, adding an unbeaten 101.
South Africa remained in a strong position to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, however, with a second new ball due after five overs on Monday and only wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed of the remaining batsmen likely to offer sustained resistance to the South African fast bowlers.
Both Misbah and Shafiq had let-offs.
Shafiq edged an outswinger from Vernon Philander to Graeme Smith at first slip when he had 40 and the total was on 155. Shafiq had almost reached the boundary edge when his dressing room alerted him to a television replay which showed that Philander had bowled a no-ball.
Four balls later, Misbah, on 31, sliced a drive against Jacques Kallis to backward point, but Robin Peterson, diving to his right, could not hold a waist-high chance.
Before Misbah and Shafiq came together everything had seemed to be going South Africa’s way.
AB de Villiers hurried to a century before South Africa declared on 275 for three, leaving Pakistan with an hour’s batting before lunch.
De Villiers needed only 33 balls to move from his overnight 63 to 103 not out.
He and Hashim Amla added 68 in nine overs before the declaration, which came immediately after De Villiers punched Umar Gul to the cover boundary to reach his 15th Test century off 117 balls. He hit 11 boundaries.
Amla was unbeaten on 74 off 114 balls with seven fours. The pair put on an unbeaten 176 for the fourth wicket, easily the best partnership of the match.
After being routed for their all-time low total of 49 in the first innings, Pakistan made a more confident start to the second innings and Mohammad Hafeez was somewhat unfortunate to fall to a diving catch by AB de Villiers when he glanced Philander to leg.
Nasir Jamshed and Azhar Ali put on 57 for the second wicket but tight bowling by Dale Steyn and Philander after lunch slowed the scoring rate down.
The left-handed Jamshed, playing in his first Test match, looked solid before he was out for 46 when he pulled Steyn tamely to midwicket.
Azhar followed three overs later for 18. Having been subjected to some hostile short-pitched bowling from Steyn he was trapped in front of his stumps when he played across a full delivery from Kallis.
Morne Morkel took his first wicket of the match when Younes Khan was caught behind for 15, nibbling at and then attempting to withdraw his bat from a fast delivery outside his off stump.


Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

Updated 38 min 25 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia set to face Mario Balotelli after striker earns Italy recall

  • Saudi Arabia play Italy on May 28
  • Balotelli set to play for the Azzurri for the first time in four years

TURIN: New Italy coach Roberto Mancini on Saturday recalled Nice striker Mario Balotelli to the Azzurri fold for three upcoming friendlies as he begins the job of reviving Italian fortunes.
Mancini was appointed last Monday, six months after Gian Piero Ventura was sacked following the four-time world champions’ failure to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The 53-year-old, who left Zenit Saint Petersburg to take the job, unveiled his first 30-man squad for matches against Saudi Arabia, France and the Netherlands.
Mancini takes charge of his first game against the Green Falcons in St. Gallen, Switzerland on May 28.
As expected, the 27-year-old Balotelli was included for the first time in nearly four years.
Balotelli has scored 13 goals in 33 appearances for the Azzurri but has not played international football since Italy’s humiliating group-stage exit from the 2014 World Cup.
Balotelli was last called up by coach Antonio Conte in November 2014 but did not play because of injury.
He has now been given another chance by Mancini, who coached him at both Inter Milan and Manchester City.
Balotelli has resurrected his career since joining Nice in 2016 after less successful spells with AC Milan and Liverpool, scoring 26 goals in all competitions this season, without any of the bad-boy behavior that previously dogged his career.
Italy are not spoilt for choice with forward so Balotelli’s success with Nice could not be overlooked by Mancini.
As a youngster, Balotelli was part of the Inter side coached by Jose Mourinho that won the Champions League in 2010.
He also won three Serie A titles with Inter before switching to Manchester City and helping them claim the Premier League crown in 2012.
Meanwhile, Mancini’s squad was without goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon who this week confirmed he would not play again for the national side.
The presence of Buffon — who holds the record for Italy caps with 176 — proved controversial during friendlies in March with his critics wanting him to move over for a younger generation.
In his absence, Mancini has recalled Salvatore Sirigu, who has had a successful season since joining Torino, alongside AC Milan teenager Gianluigi Donnarumma and Genoa’s Mattia Perin.
Among the veterans there was no call-up for Roma captain Daniele De Rossi, with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini absent through injury.
The captain’s armband is expected to go to AC Milan center-back Leonardo Bonucci.
Five players have been given a first call-up — Chelsea left-back Emerson Palmieri, Torino midfielder Daniele Baselli, Crotone midfielder Rolando Mandragora, Sassuolo striker Domenico Berardi and Atalanta defender Mattia Caldara.
Along with defenders Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani, midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini and strikers Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi are among the promising youngsters who are expected to put Italy back on the road to victory.
The squad will meet for the first time at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano near Florence on May 23.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino);
Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St. Petersburg/RUS), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Emerson Palmieri Dos Santos (Chelsea/ENG), Alessio Romagnoli (AC Milan), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea/ENG)
Midfielders: Daniele Baselli (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Jorginho (Napoli), Rolando Mandragora (Crotone), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Nice/FRA), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Sassuolo), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Simone Zaza (Valencia/ESP)