England reach T20 WCup semifinals, Australia eliminated

England reach T20 WCup semifinals, Australia eliminated
England’s Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes celebrate after winning their T20 World Cup Super 12 cricket match against Sri Lanka at Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney on Saturday. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 November 2022

England reach T20 WCup semifinals, Australia eliminated

England reach T20 WCup semifinals, Australia eliminated
  • New Zealand, England and Australia all finished with seven points from five matches in Group 1
  • The Kiwis topped the group with a healthy net run-rate of 2.113

SYDNEY: England advanced to the semifinals of the T20 World Cup and eliminated host Australia on net run-rate after their last over four-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Saturday.
New Zealand, England and Australia all finished with seven points from five matches in Group 1 but the Kiwis topped the group with a healthy net run-rate of 2.113.
Australia paid the price for a heavy loss to New Zealand in the opening game and finished with at a net run-rate of -0.173. England had a net run-rate of 0.473.
Ben Stokes kept his composure and made an unbeaten 42 off 36 balls as England reached 144-6 in 19.4 overs after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat.
Sri Lanka could not have advanced even if they had beaten England but the islanders squandered a blistering start of 52-1 in five overs before ending up at a disappointing 141-8.
“We knew we had to find a way to win the game coming here today, so thankfully we did that,” England skipper Jos Buttler said.
England will face the Group 2 winner in the semifinals at Adelaide next Thursday. New Zealand will play the Group 2 runner-up at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
“We go there (Adelaide) looking forward to whoever we play at what is one of the best stadiums in the world,” Buttler said.
Opening batter Pathum Nissanka braved pain on his twisted ankle and made 67 before England hit back through their spinners. Adil Rashid was 1-16 and fast bowler Mark Wood picked up 3-26 after being smacked for two sixes by Nissanka in his first over.
England sank Sri Lanka in the death overs when Nissanka holed out to long on in the 16th over and then Wood claimed three wickets in his return spell, allowing the islanders to score only 25 in the last five overs.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa was one of the Sri Lanka batters to reach double figures before falling for run-a-ball 22 and offered a tame catch at mid-on in Wood’s last over.
“It was an amazing fight but still we could have done better in the batting part,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said as Sri Lanka bowed out of the tournament with two wins and three defeats.
“We played good cricket in patches but we started with a few injuries so it cost us a good tournament. If the injuries were not there, we could have done better.”
England had an injury scare when Dawid Malan limped off the field after sustaining groin injury during the fielding.
But England didn’t feel Malan’s absence with Alex Hales (47) and Jos Buttler (28) racking up 70 runs in the first six overs.
Sri Lankan premier spinner, Wanindu Hasaranga (2-23) ignited the collapse by removing both batters in his successive overs. Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone then fell cheaply and Moeen Ali offered a tame catch against the offspin of Dhananjaya de Silva (2-24) in the covers as England slipped to 111-5 in the 15th over.
But Stokes, promoted at No. 3 in place of injured Malan, kept cool with wickets falling around him and carried England home with two balls to spare.
The semifinalists from Group 2 will be determined on Sunday when all six teams will be in action. At Adelaide, South Africa needs a win against the Netherlands while Pakistan, whose progress depends on the results of other games, will be up against Bangladesh. India will then meet Zimbabwe at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead
Updated 04 December 2022

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead

Viktor Hovland shoots 64 in the sun and mud of Bahamas for 3-shot lead
  • Hovland was at 13-under 203, and he made it look easy

NASSAU, Bahamas: The warm sun in the Bahamas brought out plenty of mud on the rain-soaked fairways and created some wild shots for just about everyone but Viktor Hovland. He made 10 birdies Saturday to build a three-shot lead in the Hero World Challenge.

Hovland ran off six birdies on the back nine at Albany and finished with a bogey from a mud-shot on the 18th for an 8-under 64, putting him in position to join tournament host Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners of this tournament.

“I hit a lot of just good quality iron shots to give myself 7 to 12 feet. It wasn’t like I hit one just incredible shot and stuff it or make it like I did the other days, but it was just kind of consistently giving myself looks,” Hovland said.

He was at 13-under 203, and he made it look easy. It wasn’t that way for the rest of the 20-man field, even with some of the best scoring of the week.

Scottie Scheffler, who can go to No. 1 in the world with a win, dropped only one shot and had an eagle on the par-5 15th for a 66 that put him in the final group with Hovland. It was a good day on his card. It was tough on the emotions seeing so much mud on his ball that he had no idea where it was going.

“Who’s good at those? You pretty much have no idea what the golf ball’s going to do,” Scheffler said. “It’s not something that I would practice at home just because it’s not something that I believe should happen on the golf course.”

The Masters champion’s best work was not so much his five birdies and his eagle, rather not letting the mud balls get in his head.

Everyone had to deal with it, some worse than others. Justin Thomas figures the one guy who caught a break was PGA Tour official Rick Wild, who records all the scores at the end of the day. Good thing it’s a small field.

“Only 20 people coming in and complaining versus 120. I think that’s probably a little easier on him,” Thomas said. “It’s unfortunate. And you can get some really, really unlucky breaks and unfortunate situations. But like I said, everybody has to deal with it and the more you let it get to you, probably the worse off you are.”

Thomas was bogey-free for a 66, tied for third with Cameron Young (68).

Young, the PGA Tour rookie of the year, handled his misfortune well. With a 31 on the front nine and his sixth birdie of the round on No. 10, he was leading by two and in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 11th.

He went to lay up with a 4-iron and saw the ball shoot straight out to the right and into the bush, leading to a penalty shot before playing the next one and making bogey. He had another bogey on a par 5 and had to settle for a 68, leaving him five shots behind.

“The one that really hurt me was on 11,” Young said. “I feel like I made a pretty good swing and it was into the weeds. It just takes a mediocre shot there to give yourself a pretty good look at birdie. So that definitely, definitely hurt. Yeah, there were a few.”

Kevin Kisner had a hole-in-one on the 12th hole with a 6-iron, the lone bright spot on a day when he shot 77.

“I was putting probably the worst of my career today so I decided just to make it from 189 yards,” Kisner said. “But it was a lot easier on par 3s because you got to hit a clean golf ball.”

Because a majority of the course was in reasonable shape, the PGA Tour decided to play the ball down. Officials were concerned about four or five fairways, but the mud made its presence felt from fairways that were deluged with rain on Wednesday.

Hovland carded three straight birdies early on the front nine, all from 15 feet or longer, and then he really took off on the back nine. He twice two-putted for birdie. He hit 6-iron to 12 feet on the par-3 12th, hit 9-iron to 7 feet on the next hole and then got some separation with an 8-iron to 15 feet on the 16th and a 7-iron to 8 feet on the par-3 17th.

“He played so good I almost felt bad about my round,” Xander Schauffele said after a 69 left him six back. “It was clean. It was so good I didn’t even realize what he was doing until he got to the end.”

Woods won the World Challenge in 2006 and 2007 when it was at Sherwood Country Club in California. He is not playing this week because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot that caused him to withdraw on Monday.


Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers
Updated 04 December 2022

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers

Big day at World Cup looms for France, Poland goalkeepers
  • Lloris is a naturally quiet and courteous leader of this talented France team
  • Szczęsny is the only goalkeeper at this World Cup to have saved two spot kicks — one against Saudi Arabia and the second against Lionel Messi

DOHA: It’s a huge day for goalkeepers with big reputations when defending champion France face Poland in the round of 16 at the World Cup on Sunday.

Hugo Lloris will tie a national team record for Les Bleus four years after lifting the trophy as captain. Opposite number Wojciech Szczęsny is a penalty-saving, wise-cracking No. 1 who seems to be enjoying the tournament more than any other player.

Both get a stage to shine at Al Thumama Stadium trying to deny two of the most feared forward in Qatar — Kylian Mbappe and two-time FIFA player of the year Robert Lewandowski.

“The key to stopping Mbappe? It’s me,” Szczęsny quipped when Poland’s place in the knockout bracket was confirmed.

Lloris will face Lewandowski in an international game for the first time when he matches France’s record of 142 appearances held by Lilian Thuram, the right back in the 1998 world champion team.

“It’s quite something and I’m very honored,” Lloris said Saturday. He was in the same France squad as Thuram as an uncapped 21-year-old in 2008 though was never played with him.

France coach Didier Deschamps, who played often with Thuram and was captain in the 1998 final in Paris, paid tribute to them.

“They have shown exemplary professionalism for the national team,” Deschamps said Saturday.

Lloris is a naturally quiet and courteous leader of this talented France team and he praised Szczęsny, who he previously faced at opposite ends of the north London rivalry between Tottenham and Arsenal.

“He’s playing a magnificent tournament,” Lloris said. “Poland deserve to be here at this stage and they’ve got a great goalkeeper as well.”

Szczęsny is the only goalkeeper at this World Cup to have saved two spot kicks — one against Saudi Arabia and the second against Lionel Messi. Szczęsny himself conceded the latter one for brushing the Argentina great’s face with his glove when stretching for a cross. It was scoreless at the time in a game Argentina won 2-0 on Wednesday.

Szczęsny’s told the story of how he bet Messi during a lengthy video review that the penalty wouldn’t be awarded, only adding to his quirky time in Qatar.

The character of the 32-year-old Juventus goalkeeper, who is set to play his 70th game for Poland, is no surprise to long-time teammates.

“It’s not that Wojciech Szczęsny started to be such a great goalkeeper in this tournament — he’s been a great goalkeeper for years,” forward Arkadiusz Milik said Saturday through an interpreter. “It’s not a coincidence that in his career he played for wonderful clubs.”

Poland likely will need Szczęsny and Lewandowski to excel in their first knockout game at a World Cup since 1986. Since that 4-0 loss to Brazil, France won both their world titles and also was a beaten finalist.

Deschamps highlighted Lewandowski’s qualities as clever, technically gifted and knows how to use his body intelligently against defenders.

“He didn’t get a lot of the ball in the group stage, but with just one chance he can be very dangerous,” the France coach said.

Giving Poland some hope is that France lost in the round of 16 last year at the European Championship against Switzerland. Mbappé had the decisive penalty saved in a shootout after a 3-3 draw.

“We talked about that a lot,” said Lloris, who couldn’t stop any of the five Swiss spot kicks that night in Bucharest. “You have to be confident, but if a penalty is well taken, then the goalkeeper has no chance of stopping it.”

In Qatar, Szczęsny might be just the one to prove that wrong.


Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title
Updated 04 December 2022

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

Fury stops Chisora to retain WBC heavyweight title

LONDON: Tyson Fury retained his World Boxing Council heavyweight title with a decisive stoppage win over British rival Derek Chisora on Saturday.
Fury, still unbeaten as a professional, dominated from the start, and with Chisora's eyes starting to close, referee Victor Loughlin stopped the fight shortly before the end of the 10th round at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The 34-year-old now boasts a record of 33 wins from 34 fights with one draw.
Fury's latest win also paved the way for a unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk, the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion.
Usyk was at ringside on Saturday as he returned to the venue where he deprived Britain's Anthony Joshua of all those titles in September last year before defeating him again in Jeddah this July.
Soon after Fury's hand was raised in victory, he was involved in a ringside face-off with Usyk with only the ropes separating him from the Ukrainian.


Messi stars as Argentina set up World Cup quarter-final date with Netherlands

Messi stars as Argentina set up World Cup quarter-final date with Netherlands
Updated 04 December 2022

Messi stars as Argentina set up World Cup quarter-final date with Netherlands

Messi stars as Argentina set up World Cup quarter-final date with Netherlands

DOHA: Lionel Messi finally scored a goal in the knockout rounds of the World Cup on Saturday as he inspired Argentina to a 2-1 win over Australia that sets up a mouthwatering quarter-final showdown with the Netherlands, who proved too strong for the United States earlier.
The Argentina captain marked his 1,000th career appearance with his 789th goal to open the scoring in the first half at Doha’s Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
It was a classy finish from a player appearing at his fifth World Cup but who had never previously found the net in a knockout tie at the tournament he is looking to win for the first time at the age of 35.
It looked like Argentina were going to run away with the game when Julian Alvarez took advantage of a goalkeeping mistake to double their lead just before the hour mark.
Yet an Australia team who had already defied all expectations in Qatar just in reaching the last 16 went down fighting.
They pulled one back when a Craig Goodwin shot deflected in off Enzo Fernandez for an own goal and only a last-ditch challenge from Lisandro Martinez prevented Aziz Behich, of Dundee United in Scotland, from scoring a remarkable late equalizer.
“It was a really physical game but I am very happy with the victory and that we have taken another little step forward,” Messi told Argentine television.
Argentina were one of the pre-tournament favorites and have since bounced back from losing to Saudi Arabia in their opening game to progress to the last eight.
Australia, meanwhile, go home after failing in their quest to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, but it has been a memorable campaign for Graham Arnold’s Socceroos.
“It’s all about making the nation proud and I’m pretty sure we did that,” Arnold said.
“Everyone said we were the worst Socceroos to ever qualify for the World Cup and the worst Socceroos ever.
“That’s gone now.”
Argentina can now look forward to a last-eight tie next Friday against the Netherlands, a pairing that evokes memories of some classic World Cup contests, including the 1978 final won by the South Americans and a 1998 quarter-final decided by a brilliant Dennis Bergkamp goal.
Louis van Gaal’s Dutch side also started slowly in Qatar but they still topped their group and on Saturday they produced their best performance yet to beat the United States 3-1.
Their victory was set up by a wonderful early opening goal at the Khalifa International Stadium, with Memphis Depay finishing at the end of a 20-pass move.
Daley Blind got their second goal just before half-time and a late strike from Denzel Dumfries sealed a deserved victory after Hajji Wright had pulled one back.
“We always want to improve and, since the start of the tournament, it’s been getting better and better with each game,” Van Gaal said.
For the United States it was a familiar story — they enjoyed plenty of the ball but were hampered by the lack of a cutting edge.
USA coach Gregg Berhalter’s men head home after scoring just three goals in their four matches.
“When you look at the difference of the two teams, there was some offensive finishing quality that Holland had that we were lacking,” said Berhalter.
“We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now, who’s scoring in the Champions League, playing for Barcelona, experienced at scoring at this level.”
The last-16 action continues on Sunday as holders France take on Poland before England meet Africa Cup of Nations winners Senegal.
While Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski will attract most of the attention when the French and Poland face off, the game will also be significant for France captain Hugo Lloris as he equals Lilian Thuram’s national record of 142 caps.
“It is no small achievement. I am really honored at the figures and very proud, even if it is very much secondary to the fact that we are on the eve of the last 16 of the World Cup,” Lloris said.
England are expected to see off Senegal at Al Bayt Stadium but their manager Gareth Southgate has no intention of underestimating Aliou Cisse’s men.
“They have some excellent individual players who can cause problems, but a good structure as well,” he said.


Dumfries gets kissed as Oranje reach World Cup quarterfinals

Dumfries gets kissed as Oranje reach World Cup quarterfinals
Updated 04 December 2022

Dumfries gets kissed as Oranje reach World Cup quarterfinals

Dumfries gets kissed as Oranje reach World Cup quarterfinals

DOHA, Qatar: Louis van Gaal leaned to his left, wrapped his arm around Denzel Dumfries, and planted a kiss on the player’s cheek.
Dumfries probably deserved even more smooches from his coach on Saturday after leading the Netherlands into the World Cup quarterfinals with a goal and two assists in the 3-1 victory over the United States.
“Yesterday, or a day before yesterday, I gave him a big fat kiss,” Van Gaal said at the post-match news conference. “I am going to give him another big fat kiss so everybody can see.”
And so he did.
“There you go,” Van Gaal said, showing his affection for the right back, who plays for Italian club Inter Milan.
Dumfries did it all against the Americans as the Netherlands extended its unbeaten run to 19 games as it pursues an elusive World Cup title.
The Dutch national team carries the burden of probably being best soccer country to never have won the World Cup. The Netherlands has been the runner-up three times — 1974, 1978 and 2010 — and was third in 2014 after losing to Argentina on penalties in the semifinals.
However, the team failed to qualify in 2018, probably providing more motivation this time.
Dumfries scored Oranje’s final goal in the 81st minute on a volley after second-half substitute Hajji Wright scored in the 76th to briefly get the Americans back into the match. He also added assists on the other two goals at Khalifa International Stadium — Memphis Depay’s in the 10th, and Daley Blind’s in first-half stoppage time.
“It was a great game and I’m happy I can be important for the team,” said Dumfries, who is named for American actor Denzel Washington.
“I’m proud to have his name,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of Denzel Washington. He is a really strong personality who voices his views and I see that as an example.”
Dumfries said Oranje was “more focused” than it was in lackluster group games — a 1-1 draw with Ecuador and 2-0 victories over Senegal and Qatar.
“We knew that we could play better than we did in the first three matches,” he said.
The United States had more possession of the ball, and more attempts at goal — 16 to 12. But the Dutch dealt with that just fine.
“In Holland we’re used to having the ball, to having possession,” Dumfries said. “This is a different way of playing. I also understand the criticism in Holland because we can play much better with the ball.”
United States goalkeeper Matt Turner and the American defense were under constant pressure handling crosses into the 6-yard box.
“It was like they had a little bit of extra patience and cut the ball back, and we didn’t track well,” Turner said. “I felt like every time they crossed the ball they got a head on it or they got a piece of it.”
Cody Gakpo, who has scored three goals in the tournament, said what Van Gaal has been talking up: The Netherlands can finally win the title, though few think this is one of the nation’s best teams.
“We’ve believed in ourselves from the start and we’ve come here with a goal,” Gakpo said. “And that’s to try and become world champions. We believe in that.”