Pakistan close in on victory against Australia in first Test in Dubai

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Aaron Finch trudges off the pitch having been dismissed by man-of-the-moment Mohammad Abbas in Dubai. (AFP)
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Updated 10 October 2018
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Pakistan close in on victory against Australia in first Test in Dubai

  • Mohammad Abbas takes three quick wickets to leave Aussies staring at defeat.
  • Tourists slump to 136 for three chasing 462 for unlikely victory.

DUBAI: Hard-working fast bowler Mohammad Abbas took three wickets in seven balls to bring Pakistan closer to victory in the first Test against Australia in Dubai.
The right-arm medium pacer dismissed Aaron Finch (49) and the Marsh brothers — Shaun and Mitchell — for ducks as Australia slumped from 87 without loss to finish the fourth day at 136 for three, chasing 462 to win.
At stumps opener Usman Khawaja was batting on a fighting 50 and Travis Head on 34 as the pair had added an invaluable 49 for the unbroken fourth wicket stand to prolong Australia’s resistance on a weary and spinning Dubai stadium pitch.
Pakistan will need seven more wickets while Australia require another 326 runs for an improbable victory to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series, with the second Test starting in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 16.
Abbas said he was “happy to be among the wickets.”
“I used the crease to bring the ball in and got wickets from those deliveries,” he said.
“We need seven more wickets so, God willing, we will get them and get this win for which we have worked very hard and it will be good to take a lead in the series.”

DEJA VU FOR BAGGY GREENS

It was an action replay of the first innings as Australian openers put on 87 — they made 142 in their total of 202 on Tuesday — as Finch was trapped leg-before soon after tea with a sharp incoming delivery from Abbas.
Finch, who took an unsuccessful review, hit five boundaries in his knock.
Two balls later Abbas had the elder Marsh caught behind and in his next over trapped Mitchell right in front of the stumps only to get the decision on review.
But it was Finch and Khawaja in the afternoon session who batted with resolve.


Pakistan-born Khawaja, who top scored for Australia with 85 in the first innings, held one end intact with resolute batting, having so far hit six boundaries.
Abbas has figures of three for 26 to add to his four wickets in the first innings, but leg-spinner Yasir Shah was still wicketless in the match.
If Australia still wish to win this match they will have to rewrite the history books as the highest chase in all Test cricket is West Indies’s 418 for seven, made against Australia at Antigua in 2003.
Pakistan, who were 45 for three overnight, declared 7.5 overs after lunch on 181 for six at the fall of Asad Shafiq’s wicket for 41.
Pakistan made 482 in their first innings while in reply Australia were dismissed for 202.
Jon Holland, who took the key wicket of Azhar Ali for four on Tuesday, dismissed opener Imam-ul-Haq for 48, caught and bowled off a flighted delivery.
Debutant Marnus Labuschagne then had Haris Sohail caught close to the slips for 39, leaving Pakistan at 110 for four. Sohail and Imam had added 65 runs for the fourth wicket.
Holland had figures of three for 83 from 20 overs while off-spinner Nathan Lyon took two for 58.


New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

Updated 24 March 2019
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New Zealand’s Crusaders lose for the first time since mosque shootings

  • The Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs
  • The Crusaders have been asked by fans to change their name following last week's terror mosques attack that killed at least 50 worshippers

PRETORIA, South Africa: The Crusaders lost for the first time this season and the Chiefs won for the first time, shaking up Super Rugby at the top and the bottom of the standings on Saturday.
In their first game since the mosque shootings in their home city eight days earlier, the Christchurch-based Crusaders saw their year-long, 19-game winning streak ended in Sydney by the New South Wales Waratahs.
Wallabies fullback Israel Folau sealed the Waratahs’ 20-12 win and equaled Doug Howlett’s record of 59 Super Rugby tries when he followed up on a high kick and reacted quickest to score the home team’s third try in the 73rd minute. The Waratahs led 15-7 for most of the second half before Folau ensured there was no way back for the Crusaders.
The two-time defending champions’ first loss in a year was followed by another serious surprise in round six when the Hamilton-based Chiefs, winless and bottom of the overall standings, upset the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Chiefs didn’t just win. They hammered the Bulls 56-20 and seven tries to two. There were doubles by winger Solomon Alaimalo, center Alex Nankivell, and captain Brodie Retallick as the Chiefs, who once lost a Super Rugby final 61-17 at Loftus, produced a spectacular turnaround in form.
The Crusaders’ loss meant the Hurricanes drew level with them on points at the top of the New Zealand conference. The Lions, the losing finalists the last three years, moved a point behind the Crusaders in the overall standings after beating the Sunwolves in Singapore.
The Sunwolves were on the board first in that game through a penalty try which saw Lions wing Sylvian Mahuza yellow-carded for a deliberate knock down.
The Lions were inspired by hooker Malcolm Marx, who scored two tries and came up with numerous crucial turnovers in the 37-24 win. That capped a miserable couple of days for the Tokyo-based Sunwolves, who learned on Friday they would be cut from Super Rugby at the end of next season.
Also, the Hurricanes beat the Stormers 34-28, and the Sharks beat Melbourne Rebels 28-14 to both gain ground.
The Waratahs made a fast start against the Crusaders, scoring tries through lock Jeb Holloway and wing Cameron Clark to lead 12-0 after as many minutes. They then kept steady defensive pressure on the Crusaders who made an uncharacteristic 18 handling errors.
The Waratahs were able to pin the Crusaders within their half and those errors cost the champions their usual continuity.
“Looking up at the board I see we had 46 percent of possession so we’re building wins off defense,” Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. “I’m really happy that we were able to get tries when we can and then were able to build a big wall to stop these guys.”
The Crusaders were playing their first game in two weeks after last weekend’s scheduled fixture against the Highlanders was canceled in the wake of the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch which left 50 dead. On Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Crusaders and Waratahs players stood together silently before the game, arm in arm, to remember the victims.
Winger Wes Goosen scored two second-half tries and Beauden Barrett contributed 14 points as the Hurricanes rallied to beat the Stormers 34-28.
The match presented a stark contrast in styles between the Hurricanes, who lacked a reliable set-piece and tried to play the game at pace, and the Stormers, who sought to slow play and control possession through a powerful forward pack.
The Hurricanes finally emerged on top, snatching the lead with a try to Barrett 10 minutes from fulltime and outscoring the Stormers by five tries to three. The lead changed hands five times in a close match in which neither side managed to exert complete control.
“From the outcome point of view it was good, we were certainly after that win,” Barrett said. “But there were moments there where we were frustrated.”