Injured Taylor hammers career-best 181 as New Zealand beat England

New Zealand’s Ross Taylor bats during the fourth ODI cricket Test match between New Zealand and England at University Oval in Dunedin on March 7, 2018. (Marty Melville/AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Injured Taylor hammers career-best 181 as New Zealand beat England

DUNEDIN, New Zealand: Injury-hit Ross Taylor played through the pain to score a remarkable unbeaten 181 and seal a series-levelling win for New Zealand in the fourth one-day international against England Wednesday.
Taylor limped through much of his innings in Dunedin after aggravating a thigh injury, but batted on to compile a career-best innings and make it 2-2 in the series with one to play.
New Zealand ended on 339 for five in reply to England’s 335 for nine, winning by five wickets and taking the five-match series to a crunch decider in Christchurch on Saturday.
Taylor scored 17 fours and six sixes as New Zealand reached the target with three balls to spare, wincing with pain after every shot in the latter half of his innings.
“It’s still sinking in,” he said after tearfully leaving the field to a standing ovation, revealing team medics gave him the option of retiring hurt due to the pain.
“I was glad I made the decision to stay out there and swing.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson rated Taylor’s innings as “one of the great one-day knocks” and said he hoped the batsman would be fit for the decider.
“Ross’s knock was just sensational, he’s kind of been batting like that all year,” he said.
“Hopefully his injuries are minor and we can see him in the next game.”
Taylor’s heroics in scoring his 19th ODI century overshadowed a fine batting performance from England, marred by a late collapse that cost them dearly.
Jonny Bairstow blazed his way to 138 off 106 balls and Joe Root grafted out a hard-fought 102 before England self-destructed late in their innings.
England captain Eoin Morgan had no explanation for the collapse but was confident his side’s deep batting line-up would not fail so spectacularly again.
“It isn’t ideal. Normally one of us (batsmen) comes off, so it is a first,” he said.
“We won’t look into it too much at the moment if he happens consistently we’ll have to do something.”
New Zealand’s chase started disastrously when openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro both went for ducks.
Kane Williamson and Taylor rebuilt with an 84-run partnership before England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes dismissed the New Zealand captain at 45 in the 17th over.
Taylor and Tom Latham then combined for a 187-run partnership, with Latham contributing 71.
Taylor’s injury came when he was on 109 and had to dive to avoid a run-out, inflaming the thigh strain that forced him out of the previous match in the series.
Unable to run freely, he concentrated on hitting boundaries, taking New Zealand to the position where they needed 80 off the final 10 overs.
England slowed New Zealand’s momentum with Latham’s dismissal and Colin de Grandhomme’s departure on 23.
Henry Nicholls looked nervy when he came to the crease but worked well to give Taylor most of the strike.
With three runs needed off the final over, Nicholls faced two dot balls then smashed Tom Curran for six to seal the win.
England should have put the match beyond reach after Bairstow and Root had them at 267 for 1 in the 38th over.
But Bairstow’s departure sparked a collapse that saw six wickets go for 21 runs, ending their hopes of setting a monster total on the small University Oval ground.
A late cameo of 22 off 10 balls from Curran added a degree of difficulty to the target but also showed New Zealand’s batsmen that there were runs in the pitch.
Ish Sodhi led the Black Caps’ fightback with the ball, taking four for 58, while Colin Munro and Trent Boult took two wickets apiece.


Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

Updated 22 min 3 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia out to make up for wasted opportunities against Egypt in World Cup dead rubber

  • Green Falcons to face Egypt in final game of Group A
  • Both side already out of the World Cup after defeats to Russia and Uruguay

VOLGOGRAD: Fahad Al-Muwallad has promised to make up for wasted opportunities when he and his Saudi Arabia teammates face Middle East neighbors Egypt in their final match of the World Cup on Monday.
Al-Muwallad, the pacy forward heralded as the Green Falcons’ most dangerous goal-threat, was left on the bench for much of his team’s embarrassing opening day defeat to Russia. By the time he was introduced in the 64th minute, Saudi Arabia were already 2-0 down and would go on to concede three more without response. In their second match, the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay, the diminutive winger was recalled to the starting line-up and employed as a center forward, but struggled against a dominant defense that included the twin towers of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. 
“The first match was very difficult,” said Al-Muwallad, who spent the past six months on loan at Levante from Al-Ittihad.
“We were surprised, taken aback and confused. We wanted to win. Our match against Uruguay then became a decisive match because we needed to get the three points, but were unable to do so. Against Egypt, we have another difficult match and hope to get the three points.”
The poor results prompted much scrutiny at the highest levels of Saudi Arabian football with Turki Al-Alsheikh, the head of the country’s General Sports Authority, simultaneously taking responsibility and blaming the players.
Al-Muwallad, when asked if the administrative issues had affected their preparations for their final Group A match, instead focused on his team’s chance to make amends.
“Everyone has done their best,” he said.
“The managers of the team gave us a great deal of support, Saudi Arabia supported us. Perhaps we wasted a few opportunities, but we have a chance to make up for what happened since the beginning. We have a bright future ahead of us as players. We want to win the three points and we want to make the Saudi fans happy and hope that we will be able to do so.”
While the Green Falcons are without a World Cup win for 12 consecutive games, a streak running back to 1994, Egypt have never won at the tournament. Yet it is the Pharaohs that have the better record against their neighbors from across the Red Sea. After six FIFA-recognized meetings, Egypt lead the head-to-head series with four wins and a draw. With English Premier League top goalscorer Mohamed Salah in their ranks, Hector Cuper’s side will enter the match at Volgograd Arena as favorites. 
“Of course our match against Egypt will be a very difficult match,” Al-Muwallad said. “Every squad and team dreams of winning a World Cup game. We want those three points, regardless of the opponent and while we respect them, I think they recognize that the Saudi team a is a team to be reckoned with. We will enjoy the match.”
Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Saudi Arabia coach, said he has no specific plan to combat the threat of Salah, much like he employed no particular man-marking plan against Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. His Green Falcons, however, are well aware of the Liverpool forward’s threat.
“When you face an opposition that has high individual qualities, you have to show this to your players and prepare them so they know what to do to stave them off,” said Pizzi. “Salah has huge qualities and it is no coincidence that he has had such a wonderful career — especially this past year in England — so we will take precautions and try to contain him — although not only him — and stave off any sort of attacking play that they might try to develop.”
With midfielder Taiseer Al-Jassem pulling his hamstring against Uruguay and Omar Hawsawi and Mohammed Al-Burayk also struggling to be fit, Pizzi will likely need to shuffle his pack. Yet while the Argentine conceded he is already thinking about next January’s Asian Cup, he said he does not intend to use the dead rubber as a chance to give younger players experience. 
“We will field the best team possible,” Pizzi said. “Of course, we have 23 players in the squad, but we will choose the team that will provide us our very best opportunity in a match that is very important for us. We will give our very best and play our best possible line-up. 
“Regarding strategies and tactics, we know how Egypt play. I have a very good relationship with Hector Cuper and have known him for a very long time. So we will try to impose our way of playing and try to prevail with a win.”