Pakistan capitalize at Lord’s as England’s top-order fail again

Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, right, celebrates with Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed, left, after taking the wicket of England's Alastair Cook during the first day of play of the first test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Lord's cricket ground in London, Thursday, May 24, 2018. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Updated 24 May 2018
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Pakistan capitalize at Lord’s as England’s top-order fail again

LONDON: Pakistan pacemen Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali took four wickets apiece as England suffered yet another top-order collapse at Lord’s on Thursday.
Hopes that a return home and a rejigged top-order picked by new national selector Ed Smith would help rid England of the batting slumps that plagued them during a run of seven straight Tests without a victory in Australia and New Zealand quickly proved illusory as they were dismissed for just 184 inside 59 overs.
Abbas, in his first match at ‘the home of cricket’, finished with excellent figures of four for 23 in 14 overs.
Meanwhile the recalled Hasan, who did not play in Pakistan’s win over Test debutants Ireland in Dublin concluded last week, took four for 51 in 15.2 overs.
Both bowlers maintained a disciplined line and length with Hasan, a stars of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy one-day tourmament triumph in England last year, telling Sky Sports: “There was no need for bouncers because we were getting a lot of help from the pitch for bowling full and straight.
“Getting experience of playing in England in the Champions Trophy was a good thing for us.”
Pakistan then consolidated their strong position by reaching stumps having lost just Imam-ul-Haq to be 50 for one — a deficit of 134 runs.
Azhar Ali was 18 not out and Haris Sohail, missed in the slips when Ben Stokes dived across Dawid Malan, unbeaten on 21.
Alastair Cook in his 153rd consecutive Test, which equalled Australia great Allan Border’s all-time record for successive appearances at this level, was the only England batsman to play an innings of substance, the left-handed opener making 70.
But shortly before tea Cook was bowled by Mohammad Amir, a team-mate when Essex won the County Championship last season, as the left-arm quick produced a brilliant delivery that cut away late off the pitch to clip the top of the off stump.
“We’re behind a little bit. Pakistan have had the better day,” said Cook, England’s record Test run-scorer.
“But with a five-day Test match you have a chance to come back. Fifty for one can very quickly become 80 for four.”
England, who had been 165 for five at tea, lost their last five wickets for a meagre 16 runs in 27 balls.
Joe Root, the England captain, opted to bat first in the opening match of this two-Test series despite the fact that both sides had concerns over the reliability of their respective top orders.
Overcast skies allied to a green-tinged pitch promised to assist Pakistan’s pacemen but Cook defended the decision of his successor as England captain by saying: “It was a really tricky one. The pitch is dry, the forecast is it’s going to get warmer, but there is live grass on it.”
And in truth several batsmen contributed to their own dismissal, with Cook looking on as the other three members of England’s top four all fell in single figures.
Abbas made the breakthrough when he bowled Mark Stoneman (four) with a late swinging delivery.
Root, promoted up the order to number three, also fell for four when a loose drive off Hasan saw him caught behind by opposing captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
Jonny Bairstow (27) and Ben Stokes (38) threatened to get going but could not stop the post-tea slide.
That this was indeed Pakistan’s day was clear when Asad Shafiq held a difficult catch at second slip to dismiss Jos Buttler after an edged drive off Hasan.
The innings ended when Amir running back at mid-on, caught Mark Wood.
It was the latest memorable Lord’s incident for Amir, who got his name on the honors board with six wickets against England at MCC’s headquarters in 2010 --- the same match where his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal led to a jail sentence and a five-year ban from cricket.
Thursday’s catch and the dismissal of Cook were moments of unalloyed joy, however, to set alongside Amir’s role in Pakistan’s Test win over England at Lord’s two years ago — a victory that helped them to a 2-2 draw in a four-match series.


Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

Updated 24 min ago
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Morocco proud of its Atlas Lions despite Portugal defeat, World Cup exit

  • While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed
  • Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game

MOSCOW: Morocco became the first team to exit the 2018 World Cup on Wednesday after a 1-0 loss to Portugal in Moscow left coach Herve Renard to reflect on what could have been had he been able to call up Cristiano Ronaldo.
Just five days after his hat-trick against Spain in a 3-3 thriller, the Real Madrid star was once again the difference-maker and scored the only goal of the game with a fourth-minute header.
While Morocco were on top for long periods, the Atlas Lions could not get the goal they deserved and needed. It was a similar outcome to the opening 1-0 loss to Iran when the North Africans had chances to win, but ended with nothing.
It leaves Morocco with zero points from two games in Group B and unable to finish in the top two with a final game against Spain on Monday now just a matter of pride.
“This is what happens in football,” Renard said. “In the penalty area at crucial times, the most gifted players are the ones who make all the difference. It is a lot easier to play with a player who can score from a goal opportunity. We have high quality players and should have been more effective as we had lots of chances.”
Ronaldo, named man of the match by FIFA after his fourth goal of the World Cup so far, recognized that it was a tough game for the European champions who now have four points from two games.
“I am very happy to score, but it is more important to win the game and get the points,” Ronaldo said. “We know if we lost we could be out. We knew they would be trying very hard and were very strong. It was a really tough game for us, but I managed to get the goal, and it was beautiful.”
Morocco were unhappy with the goal, with Renard asking reporters to look at the corner from which Portugal scored, hinting that Portuguese defender Pepe had fouled one of his players. “Have a good look at the corner kick and what the number three is doing and write the truth. I can’t say too much or I will be punished.”
As it is, however, Morocco are out regardless of what happens against Spain on June 25. Renard has, however, insisted that the team will leave Russia with their heads held high.
“I am not disappointed with the performance,” the French coach said. “I am very proud of my players, very proud of the country and proud of the staff. The whole Moroccan people are proud, even very proud, of this team. It felt like Casablanca in here and that is something you can never take away from the players.”
The well-travelled 49-year-old reflected on Morocco’s journey since he took the job in February 2016. “Then we were ranked 81 and now we are 41 and came to the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Here we have shown we can play football, we do play football.”
Portuguese coach Fernando Santos paid tribute to the North Africans.
“They played well and challenged us. It is maybe an unfair result for them, that is football. If you score, you can win. I am not happy with the way we played, but we played against a good team.”