New Zealand pair frustrate Pakistan and Yasir Shah in Abu Dhabi

The New Zealand skipper batted well for his 89 in the UAE capital. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2018
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New Zealand pair frustrate Pakistan and Yasir Shah in Abu Dhabi

  • Black Caps dig in after loss of early wickets in winner-takes-all clash.
  • Yasir Shah needs just two more wickets to become quickest man to 200 Test scalps.

ABU DHABI: New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson hit a fighting half century while BJ Watling batted with patience to delay leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s bid to become the fastest to 200 wickets on the first day of the third and final Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Williamson missed out on a 19th Test century but Watling was unbeaten on 42 as New Zealand closed on 229 for seven, a measured recovery after being reduced to 72 for four by a triple strike from Yasir in the first session.
Yasir began his 33rd Test needing five wickets to become the fastest man to reach the milestone of 200 Test wickets. The record is currently 36 Tests, set 82 years ago by Australian legspinner Clarrie Grimmett.
Yasir ended the day with three for 62 but was then thwarted by the fifth wicket stand of 104 in 249 balls between Williamson and Watling.
He failed to take any more wickets in the last two sessions and still needs another two wickets to hit the 200-mark and claim the record.
Williamson struck seven boundaries but these were the bright points in a day when defense came first.
The normally robust and aggressive Kiwi captain curbed his attacking instinct as he attmpted to carve out a first innings that might give his side some leverage in the match. The scoring rarely got above two an over.
Watling also dug in and the pair batted right through the middle session.
Williamson passed 50 in a Test for the 46th time but he was not able to convert his innings into another hundred. Having reached 89 off 176 balls, he mistimed a clip off Hasan Ali shortly after tea and found a gleeful Asad Shafiq oouching the catch at short midwicket.
Off-spinner Bilal Asif took over from Yasir, claiming Colin de Grandhomme for 20 and Tim Southee for two to finish with two for 57.
But Watling kept one end intact through his patient near-four hour batting, hitting only one boundary in his 180-ball display of self-denial.
With both teams needing a win to seal a series which is currently tied at 1-1, Yasir was the key and the leg-spinner induced a mini-collapse in the morning as the Kiwis slipped from 70 for one to 73 for four at lunch.
Yasir trapped opener Jeet Raval leg before with a faster one for 45. Raval reviewed but ball-tracking showed it would have hit leg stump.
With his next ball, Yasir clean-bowled Ross Taylor as the batsman went back but completely missed the ball.
Henry Nicholls saved the hat-trick but shortly after he attempted to sweep and Yasir flicking the ball as it went through to bowl him around his legs.
Yasir, whose 14 wickets helped Pakistan level the series in Dubai, has 25 wickets in the series so far.
It was teenage left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, making his Test debut as a replacement for injured medium pacer Mohammad Abbas, who gave Pakistan their initial breakthrough and claim his first Test victim.
The 18-year-old nipped one back sharply to rap opener Tom Latham on the pads. Pakistan reviewed the on-field not out decision and were rewarded when ball-tracking showed the ball would have cannoned into the stumps.
New Zealand, who won the first Test by four runs in Abu Dhabi, brought in fast bowler Tim Southee and off-spinner Will Somerville in place of Neil Wagner and Ish Sodhi.


River edge out Boca after extra time to win Copa Libertadores

River prevailed 5-3 on aggregate after the first leg finished 2-2. (AFP
Updated 10 December 2018
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River edge out Boca after extra time to win Copa Libertadores

  • River Plate came from behind to beat bitter Argentine rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 in extra time
  • The fixture postponed on three occasions and then relocated from Buenos Aires to Madrid

MADRID: River Plate won the Copa Libertadores by beating their fiercest rivals Boca Juniors 3-1 after extra time on Sunday, bringing an end to a final tainted by violence and moved more than six thousand miles away from Argentina.
Boca took the lead through Dario Benedetto but Lucas Pratto equalized before Juan Quintero and Gonzalo Martinez scored in extra time, aided by Wilmar Barrios being sent off, to win a fittingly dramatic contest for River.
It means River prevailed 5-3 on aggregate after the first leg finished 2-2 and the club reclaim the trophy they had last won in 2015, lifting it for the fourth time in their history.
“The only thing I feel is sadness for not winning the cup and giving it to the people of Boca,” Boca coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said.
“It is difficult to say to people that we haven’t won, especially those that made so much effort to come from Argentina.”
Postponed on three occasions and then relocated from Buenos Aires to Madrid, the supporters of these two great clubs showed in the Santiago Bernabeu why this fixture had been billed as one of football’s greatest ever.
Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin were among the 62,200 in attendance.
But, despite the bouncing huddles in the streets, the plumes of blue and red smoke, the swinging scarves, fluttering flags and fans that were chanting in their seats three hours before kick-off, there was nothing to extinguish the lingering sense of regret.
There was no repeat of the scenes that cast a shadow over Argentinian football and saw the original game at River’s El Monumental on November 24 postponed, when around 50 fans attacked Boca’s team bus and left some of their players injured.
Madrid, which will also host the Champions League final in June, was chosen in part because of its record of hosting major events and the security, which included around 2,500 police officers, did its job before kick-off.
Fans were separated into zones either side of the stadium and had to go through checks even to enter the area immediately surrounding it.
The shame was only that the operation was not as thorough 15 days ago and that a minority decided to take advantage.
Both clubs were allocated 25,000 tickets, with 5,000 of those reserved for residents of Argentina. The fear had been most of those buying would be tourists and neutrals, but the atmosphere suggested different.
Both teams had initially refused to play in Spain’s capital but as the losers, Boca’s sense of grievance will now become more entrenched.
They felt River were responsible for the chaos two weeks ago and should have forfeited the trophy. They took their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the appeal was rejected on Saturday.
When the players shuffled out two hours before kick-off to inspect the pitch, they held up their phones to capture the thousands already inside and the view of a stadium most of them had never played in before.
The cheers grew louder when they came out for kick-off. Then there were whistles as the teams swapped ends and each were greeted by their opponent’s fans behind the goal.
Jonatan Maidana was playing for Boca when they last won the Copa Libertadores 11 years ago and, now in the red and white of River, he almost gave his former club an early lead, slicing just over his own crossbar.
The game lacked quality but came alive one minute before half-time. Nahitan Nandez’s superb pass split two River defenders and Benedetto kept a cool head, guiding into the corner, before taunting the beaten Gonzalo Montiel.
River had been inferior but improved. Their first real attacking move was also a brilliant one as Leonardo Ponzio and Quintero exchanged passes before the latter pulled back for Pratto to sweep home.
The game meandered toward full-time and seemed destined for penalties until Barrios was shown a second yellow card for a tackle on Exequiel Palacios and soon after, Quintero struck.
It was a goal worthy of winning the tournament, as he collected 25 yards out, glanced up and whipped the ball in off the underside of the crossbar.
Leonard Jara almost snatched a late Boca goal but his shot nicked the outside of the post. Then, with Boca’s goalkeeper Esteban Andrada up for a corner, River added the final touch.
Martinez ran the ball into the empty net and River’s substitutes and staff were already pouring onto the pitch to begin the celebrations.