The Ashes: Stokes back in the runs

Updated 15 December 2017
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The Ashes: Stokes back in the runs

LONDON: England may have been enjoying a rare good day in the Ashes with David Malan and Jonny Bairstow putting the Australian bowlers under pressure in Perth, but another good knock would not have gone unnoticed in the dressing room. The side’s outcast Ben Stokes returned to form in dramatic fashion, smashing 93 off 47 balls in New Zealand’s domestic T20 competition. Stokes, banned from international duties over an alleged fight outside a nightclub, is seeking to retain match fitness with a stint at New Zealand provincial side Canterbury.
He had struggled for runs with only 36 in three one-day outings, but hit a rich vein of form helping Canterbury to 217 for nine against Otago. Stokes scored 93 in 47 balls, including seven sixes and six fours as his side claimed an easy victory. The 26-year-old was unable to join his England team-mates for the series in Australia after being barred from international cricket over an alleged fight outside a Bristol nightclub. British police have passed his case to prosecutors for “charging advice,” a process that could take weeks.
 


LIVE: Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1 - Mohamed Salah scores, Al-Faraj equalizes

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago
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LIVE: Saudi Arabia 1 Egypt 1 - Mohamed Salah scores, Al-Faraj equalizes

6.15PM: The intensity has just dropped out of this game now, and is beginning to look like the "dead rubber" we thought it would be. Saudi Arabia seem content to knock it around the middle just now, and Egypt are happy to let them.

6.08PM: Much better from Saudi Arabia who are attacking with a lot more intent at the beginning of the second half, they're pinning Egypt back into their own half at the moment.

5.45PM - HALFTIME: What a story for Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who pulled off a fantastic save to keep Egypt ahead. Magical moment. But the second penalty gives Saudi Arabia hope for the second half. 

The Salah goal opened the game up much more, and the Green Falcons produced some much better football to create opportunities. 

One last push in the second half could see them claim a famous victory.

5.48PM: After VAR review, the penalty is confirmed and Salman Al-Faraj buries it! GOAL FOR SAUDI ARABIA! At last...

5.45PM: A SECOND PENALTY TO SAUDI ARABIA...

5.40PM: PENALTY TO SAUDI ARABIA - And Fahad misses it...the wait for a goal at this World Cup goes on for the Green Falcons!

5.36PM: Salman has a glorious chance for Saudi Arabia, but his shot inside the box is blocked on the line and goes out for a corner. Green Falcons' best chance of the game.

5.30PM: That's given the thousands of Egyptian fans in this Volgograd Arena something to cheer about, and they're the ones making all the noise now.

5.22PM: GOAL - Who else? Mohamed Salah with a wonderful touch chips it into the net to give the Pharoahs a 1-0 lead...

5.20PM: As we've seen for the majority of this tournament, Saudi Arabia keep the ball reasonably well in the first two-thirds ... but they are just lacking that quality needed in the final third to turn possession into goals.

5.12PM: There's one glimmer of hope about this World Cup for Saudi Arabia - according to the statisticians, they boast some one of the best passing accuracy figures at the tournament. Having made 1,107 passes in their two games before today, they boasted an accuracy of 83.9%, just behind Spain on 91.3%. Iran were at the bottom with 61.3%.

5.07PM: Saudi Arabia win their first corner of the match... and it is comfortably cleared by the Egyptian defense. But that was better from the Green Falcons.

5.00PM: Here we go, Saudi Arabia and Egypt's final game of the 2018 World Cup is under way...

4.50PM: Al-Ahli's Alexis Ruano is watching the game and is hoping for a Saudi Arabia win by the looks of it...

Meanwhile, the Egypt fans are in good voice in the stands too...

4.40PM: Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi spoke before the match: "It's very easy with hindsight, after the results that we have had, to come up with situations that you'd like to change. But unfortunately we coaches have to take most of our decisions before things pan out.

"We've seen that certain concepts work, we've seen alternatives, we've tried to bring in new players as well, and this experience that we have had specifically in the run-up to this World Cup has been very important."

4.15PM: This must be some sort of record because there is 45 minutes to go until kick-off and we have not spoken about Mohamed Salah yet. The news El-Hadary will start and enter the record books has taken the spotlight away from the "Egyptian King". We reckon that both for him and the rest of the squad that will come as a huge relief. Cominginto this match there were reports Salah was ready to quit international football, such was the circus that his playing/non-playing created — the latest episode of which saw both player and team management deny that rumor.

4PM: EL-HADARY SET TO MAKE HISTORY —  So the last matches of Group A have arrived and while hosts Russia will be battling it out with Uruguay to see who goes though as group winners, the Green Falcons and Egypt have little but pride to play for in Volgograd.

The big team news that has come out so far is that Hector Cuper has had a heart and will start Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. That means El-Hadary will become the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup. Aged 45 years, five months and 12 days he will smash the record currently held by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.

This may be a dead rubber, however, both sides will be keen to get a win. Saudi Arabia are looking for their first World Cup victory since 1994, while the Pharaohs are searching for their first win in the tournament ever.