Hashim Amla guides South Africa to 6-wicket win over Pakistan

South Africa's Hashim Amla in action in the Test match against Pakistan. (Reuters)
Updated 28 December 2018
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Hashim Amla guides South Africa to 6-wicket win over Pakistan

CENTURION, South Africa: South Africa won the first test against Pakistan on Friday as Hashim Amla held together a shaky run-chase to see his team to a six-wicket victory in a game settled on the third day but turned on its head in one session a day earlier.
Amla made 63 not out to take South Africa to 151-4 and past the target of 149.
Opener Dean Elgar contributed 50 and shared a match-clinching partnership of 119 with Amla for the second wicket before Elgar’s departure a ball after getting to 50 sparked a flurry of wickets near the end.
South Africa steadied themselves to take an early lead in the three-match series. It was all over well before tea on Day 3 after a green-tinged pitch at SuperSport Park provided lots of help to both teams’ fast bowlers and the batters duly struggled against the pace, bounce and movement.
Pakistan were bowled out for 181 in its first innings after taking the risky option of batting first — a decision that ultimately backfired. South Africa replied with not much more, 223 all out, in their first innings.
At 100-1 at tea on Day 2, Pakistan had forced their way in front. The tourists looked set to build a significant lead and put themselves in a position of strength only to lose nine wickets for 89 runs in a sudden, game-changing collapse that left South Africa with a modest score to chase instead.
“I felt that was probably the match-turning moment,” South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said. “Both teams were similar in the first innings, very good (bowling) attacks on a tough batting pitch.
“That period there when we got nine wickets, incredible effort from the bowlers.”
South Africa’s match-winner was Duanne Olivier, the fast bowler who wasn’t meant to be playing in the series-opener but was drafted in after injuries to fellow quicks Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi.
He finished with six wickets in the first innings and five in the second, bowling short-pitched, fast and hostile spells to collect 11-96 in the match and the 10th-best figures ever for a South African in a test. His wickets included four of the nine to fall in that crucial post-tea session on Thursday.
“We are definitely disappointed that we had our opportunity to put runs on the board and we didn’t capitalize after tea (on Thursday),” Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said. “And we lost too many wickets in one session.
“We have quality fast bowling, they bowled really well but we have to score runs. If we don’t score runs, it’s not easy.”


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 24 May 2019
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.