England in driving seat at Port Elizabeth

England in driving seat at Port Elizabeth

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29724001

PORT ELIZABETH: Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope made centuries to hammer a South Africa team already hit by a ban for their top bowler as England took control on a potentially decisive day of the Test series here at St George’s Park on Friday.

Stokes made 120, Pope 135 not out for his maiden test century, and England surged to 499-9 declared on the second day of the third Test.

South Africa couldn’t safely see out 18 overs at the end and lost Pieter Malan (18) and Zubayr Hamaza (10) to be 60-2 in reply. Spinner Dom Bess took both wickets.

England were on top throughout a one-sided day and South Africa were relieved when rain finally allowed them to get off the field in the early evening. Bess constantly troubled the batsmen and fast bowler Mark Wood was clocking speeds of 90mph (145kph) at the other end.

With star all-rounder Stokes leading the charge once again, England built a commanding position in the match and had possibly carved out a key moment in the series, which is level at 1-1 but leaning heavily in the tourists’ favor with one more Test to come.

South Africa were way behind trailing by 439 runs and burdened by the additional blow of fast bowler Kagiso Rabada being banned for the series-deciding fourth and final Test in Johannesburg next week.

Rabada’s ban was announced on Friday morning, a punishment for his provocative celebration in the face of England captain Joe Root on the first day of the Test.

With that news hanging over them, the South Africans appeared completely deflated in the field and Stokes and Pope took full advantage on a pitch that’s pretty tough for bowlers anyway.

Stokes and Pope took their careful 76-run partnership overnight to an unbroken and flourishing stand of 187 by lunch. They put on a mammoth 203 for the fifth wicket by the time Stokes hit a square drive to be caught by Dean Elgar after lunch and give Dane Paterson a first Test wicket on his debut for South Africa.

On a day when the start of play was delayed by nearly an hour, also because of rain, the overall outlook for South Africa was particularly gloomy.

Stokes, voted the world player of the year this week, played cautiously at the end of the first day to consolidate England’s promising position but broke free on the second morning and was in complete attack mode.

He lashed 12 fours and two sixes in all as he charged to a ninth Test century. Three of those hundreds have come in the last five months and Stokes continued to punish South Africa on this tour. He blitzed 72 off 47 balls, took a record-equaling five catches in an innings, and collected the match-winning wickets in England’s series-tying victory in the second Test in Cape Town.

Stokes also had strong support from Pope in Port Elizabeth, and Pope went on to a big century after Stokes’ exit.

Sam Curran added 44 down the order in a half-century stand with Pope, and tailender Wood (42) and Pope added 73 for the ninth wicket as South Africa fell apart. They launched a barrage of boundaries, with No. 10 Wood hitting five sixes. Pope finished with 18 fours and a six.

England’s 499-9 declared was the fourth highest total ever in a Test at St George’s Park and the second best by a visiting team. Only Australia in 1950 made a bigger statement at the ground by a touring team.

England, 224-4 overnight, added 111 runs in first session, another 91 after lunch, and were rampant by scoring those 73 runs for the last wicket in just over eight overs before the declaration.

Rabada, who was South Africa’s best bowler on the first day, took no wickets on the second and looked as if his morale was shot. Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj had to lead the struggling and dispirited home attack with 5-180.

On a miserable day for him, Rabada had Wood out caught just before the end of England’s innings but was pulled up for a no-ball.


ENGLAND (1st Innings, overnight 224-4):

Z. Crawley c Van der Dussen b Nortje 44

D. Sibley c Elgar b Nortje 36

J. Denly lbw b Maharaj 25

J. Root b Rabada 27

B. Stokes c Elgar b Paterson 120

O. Pope not out 135

J. Buttler c and b Maharaj 1

S. Curran c Elgar b Maharaj 44

D. Bess c Malan b Maharaj 1

M. Wood c Nortje b Maharaj 42

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-14, NB-4, W-4) 24

TOTAL (for nine wkts decl, 152 overs) 499

FALL OF WKTS: 1-70, 2-103, 3-134, 4-148, 5-351, 6-354, 7-413, 8-426, 9-499

BOWLING: Philander 16-5-41-0; Paterson 24-3-62-1 (1w); Rabada 28-7-97-2 (4nb, 2w); Nortje 25-4-97-1 (1w); Maharaj 58-15-180-5; Elgar 1-0-6-0


SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings):

D. Elgar not out 32

P. Malan c and b Bess 18

Z. Hamza c Pope b Bess 10

A. Nortje not out 0


TOTAL (for two wkts, 18 overs) 60

BOWLING (to-date): Broad 4-1-18-0; Curran 5-0-25-0; Bess 6-1-12-2; Wood 3-2-5-0

TO BAT: F. du Plessis, H. van der Dussen, Q. de Kock, V. Philander, K. Maharaj, K. Rabada, D. Paterson

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020
A dismal year for the national game

A dismal year for the national game

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29724004

ABSENCE from inaugural FIH Pro League, failing to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, turmoil at home, allegations of corruption and lack of vision surrounded Pakistan hockey as incumbent PHF chief retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar played gimmick, first by sending PHF secretary Shahbaz Sr. home and bringing Asif Bajwa for the second time and later silencing the critics by inducting them into the fold. It can be described as “year of miseries”.

By keeping mum instead of reprimanding and sending PHF hierarchy home for Pakistan’s slump to its worst-ever 17th ranking in the world, former Test cricketer-turned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s silence deeply pertaining to national game annoyed the nation.

The nation is paying for what Khokhar and Shahbaz have collectively sowed despite “enormous funding”. The money was allegedly wasted due to ill planning.

According to last five years (2014-15 to 2018-19) figures available with Dawn, the government had doled out Rs420,422,790 to the PHF which include annual and special grants besides grants on the PM/President directives. After reports of alleged corruption in the press, the government didn’t release any funding to PHF in 2018-19. The federal government grant is besides the Sindh Chief Minister’s financial support to the tune of millions of rupees to the PHF.

Khokhar had disclosed in a press conference on July 18 that the PHF received Rs610m from the federal and Sindh governments during last four years and spent on 28 foreign tours. However, some of the foreign trips including juniors visit to Canada were a wasteful exercise and the PHF wasted government exchequers money.

The hockey fraternity has not mentally recovered from shock of missing the Rio Olympics when they received yet another bad news that Pakistan hockey team won’t be able to compete at Tokyo Games. Alas! A nation that has ruled the world hockey is now among the also-rans.

The country received first shock of the year on Jan 24th when the FIH suspended Pakistan from the inaugural Pro Hockey League after they couldn’t compete due to a paucity of funding.

Shahbaz, who had resigned on Dec 30, 2018 citing government’s apathy, resumed charge as PHF secretary on Feb 7 and Khokhar said ‘he had not accepted his resignation’.

It is pertinent to mention that Shahbaz in his resignation had said: “If government had no time to look into hockey affairs then he too had no time for the same.”

In Shahbaz’s absence, 1984 Olympic gold medallist Ayaz Mahmood and the PHF treasurer Ikhlaq Usmani worked on ad-hoc basis.

Five days after resuming power, the 1994 World Cup winning captain offered olive branch to the critics of the game but to no avail as 10 former Olympians on April 8 again urged PM to sack PHF. The 10 ex-Olympians include Manzoor Hussain Jr, K. M. Junaid, Khalid Bashir, Hanif Khan, Waseem Feroz, Saleem Nazim, Tariq Aziz, Col Mudassir Asghar, Naveed Alam and Mohammad Saqlain.

On May 4, Khokhar dropped a bombshell by appointing former Olympian Asif Bajwa as new PHF secretary for second time by accepting Shahbaz’s resignation. It may be mentioned that Bajwa had earlier served under successive PHF chiefs namely Gen Asiz, Qasim Zia and Akhtar Rasool from 2013 to 2018.

Bajwa, who took over on May 6, had said in his opening statement:”Don’t expect miracles at 2020 Olympics”. It is quite interesting to note that Khokhar had targeted Tokyo in 2016 after being elected as the PHF chief.

The appointment of Bajwa raised quite a few eyebrows indicating that no other sane person was available in the country then to reappoint a person on an important post on which he had already served.

His reappointment coincided with imposition of heavy cash penalty of $190,000 on PHF by the FIH for not fulfilling its commitment and backing out from the Pro Hockey League. It was announced that Pakistan’s fate will be decided in FIH disciplinary committee meeting in June.

According to Bajwa, backdoor diplomacy with Argentina, Holland and New Zealand counterparts in the disciplinary case before FIH produced positive results and the PHF managed to reduce penalty from $190,000 to $80,000 with bright chances of getting FIH nod to compete in 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifiers. Pakistan had requested the three countries against whom it had to play Pro league, to withdraw their claims.

The PHF secretary said the FIH could fine $100,000 but it reduced it to half ($50,000) with the instructions to use the remaining on grassroots activities

Khokhar explained Pakistan’s position of withdrawal from Pro League before FIH disciplinary committee at Lausanne where he was asked to pay $50,000 in three installments. After paying first installment of $17,500, Pakistan was drawn to play two matches against world No three Holland on their soil and had to win the both for a getting a ticket to Tokyo.

In back-to-back meetings held at Islamabad midway through the year, National Assembly Standing Committee on Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) slammed PHF for national team woes while the Senate panel of parliamentarian on recommendations of its three-member sub-committee report called for immediately sacking of PHF president and secretary.

While Bajwa got vote of confidence from PHF Congress at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium on July 23 Khokhar refused to resign by taking responsibility of Pakistan’s consistent decline.

Manzoor Jr who was appointed chief selector said he will prepare a healthy pool of players with an eye on 2022 Asian Games and 2024 Olympics. The co-selectord include Ayaz Mahmood, Waseem Feroz and Khalid Hameed The committee was extended with the induction of Kaleemullah and Naasir Ali. K. M. Junaid was brought in as head coach with Waseem Ahmed, Sameer Hussain and Ajmal Khan his deputies.

A little earlier Dr Junaid Ali Shah and Haider Hussain’s Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) for the second time in four years was declared ‘legitimate’ body by the PHF. Both of them were allowed to represent Karachi/Sindh in PHF Congress.

Fast emerging Oman hockey team visited the country in Oct and played matches against PHF Development squad at Lahore.

The greenshirts, led by Rizwan Sr, left for Germany on way to Holland to play Olympic qualifiers in October. Germany outplayed Pakistan 6-1 and 6-2 in the first and second preparatory Tests respectively at Mochangladbatch.

A rejuvenated Pakistan held Holland to four-all in the first of the two Olympic qualifying matches in Amsterdam on Oct 26 but the greenshirts were thrashed by the Dutch 6-1 in the second game the following day that dashed their Tokyo hopes.

In a first of its kind incident, noted Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui returned to Sindh government unused grant of Rs20m with profit. “I’m returning Rs27,614,326.31 through cheque,” he told a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Nov 23.

It may be mentioned that the grant was given to him for his Academy in North Nazimabad in 2014 but remained unused and he was asked to returned it with profit.

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) defeated Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) 5-4 on penalty shootout after being tied one-all in regulation time to win the national title for an overall fifth time. The 65th National Hockey Championship was dedicated to one of the greatest sports administrator retired Air Marshal Nur Khan.

Obituaries: Eminent Olympians retired Brig Abdul Hamid ‘Hamidi’, Khawaja Mohammad Aslam, goalkeeper Zakir Hussain.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020
Bismah leads from the front to help Challengers seal T20 title

Bismah leads from the front to help Challengers seal T20 title

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29724002

KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Bismah Maroof inspired PCB Challengers to the National Triangular T20 Women’s Champ­ionship title with a six-wicket defeat of PCB Blasters in the floodlight final at the National Stadium here on Thursday night.

Chasing a rather modest target of 129, the Challengers — who are coached by former first-class cricketer Aamir Iqbal — became recipients of the Rs500,000 on offer for the champions by reaching 130-4 with seven deliveries to spare. Bismah played a captains innings by shepherding the chase before finishing unbeaten 53 against her name.

Bismah — who looked in sublime touch as she struck five boundaries during her 45-ball innings — put on 61 for the third wicket with the veteran Nida Dar, who contributed a brisk 30 from 24 balls while sending the ball four times across the boundary line before falling to seamer Natalia Pervez (1-17 in three overs).

Blasters skipper Ramin Shamim grabbed the wickets of opener Ayesha Zafar (11) and Hafsa Khalid (7) to finish with figures of 2-24 in 3.5 overs with her off-spinners, while slow left-armer Anum Amin captured the prized scalp of in-form opener Muneeba Ali — who made only 10 this time — in taking 1-12 in four overs.

Earlier in the evening, Javeria Wadood Khan was the only Blasters batter to make a significant contribution. Upfront she easily outscored her opening partner Ayesha Nasim (11) in their partnership of 51in the first seven overs.

Just like Ayesha, Javeria too was stumped by Najiha Alvi for a well-played knock of 43 from only 35 balls and hit five fours and a brace of sixes.

Wicket-keeper/batter Sidra Nawaz scored a 16-ball 20 that included a solitary boundary, while Huraina Sajjad (14), Aliya Riaz (10) and Natalia (13) were the remaining batters to enter double figures.

Off-spinner Saba Nazir caught the eye with excellent analysis of 2-22 in fours; leg-spinner Aroob Shah claimed 1-17 in four tidy overs while pacer Fatima Sana also bowled accurately to take 1-21 in her four overs.

Bismah was later adjudged player-of-the-match, while Muneeba was deservingly declared the player-of-the-tournament for her outstanding run with the bat. The Blasters, on the other hand, received the runners-up cash prize of Rs250,000 from the PCB Women’s Wing head and chief selector Urooj Mumtaz.



Ayesha Nasim st Najiha b Sadia 11

Javeria W. Khan st Najiha b Aroob 43

Javeria Rauf c Hafsa b Sana 5

Huraina Sajjad run out 14

Aliya Riaz c Fatima b Sana 10

Sidra Nawaz lbw b Aiman 20

Natalia Pervez c Sadia b Fatima 13

Maham Tariq not out 7

Ramin Shamim not out 2

EXTRAS (B-1, W-2) 3

TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 128

FALL OF WKTS: 1-51, 2-59, 3-60, 4-73, 5-96, 6-110, 7-121.

DID NOT BAT: Anum Amin, Tuba Hasan.

BOWLING: Aiman Anwar 4-0-32-1 (2w); Fatima Sana 4-0-21-1; Sadia Iqbal 3-0-25-1; Nida Dar 1-0-10-0; Aroob Shah 4-1-17-1; Saba Nazir 4-0-22-2.


Muneeba Ali c Ayesha b Anum 10

Ayesha Zafar c Maham b Ramin 11

Bismah Maroof not out 53

Nida Dar lbw b Natalia 30

Hafsa Khalid c Javeria Khan b Ramin 7

Fatima Sana not out 9

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-8) 10

TOTAL (for four wkts, 18.5 overs) 130

FALL OF WKTS: 1-12, 2-34, 3-95, 4-111.

DID NOT BAT: Najiha Alvi, Aroob Shah, Sana Nazir, Sadia Iqbal. Aiman Anwar.

BOWLING: Anum Amin 4-1-12-1; Maham Tariq 2-0-21-0(1w); Ayesha Nasim 1-0-10-0(2w); Ramin Shamim 3.5-0-24-2; Tuba Hasan 2-0-18-0(1w); Natalia Pervez 3-0-17-1(2w); Aliya Riaz 3-0-26-0 (1w).

RESULT: PCB Challengers won by six wickets.

UMPIRES: Khalid Mahmood and Imtiaz Iqbal.

MATCH REFEREE: Iftikhar Ahmed.

OFFICIAL SCORER: Salman Hussain Kazmi.



Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020
India level series despite Smith’s defiance

India level series despite Smith’s defiance

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29724003
AUSTRALIAN batsman Steve Smith is cleaned up by India’s Kuldeep Yadav as wicket-keeper K.L. Rahul looks on during the second ODI at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday.—AFP
AUSTRALIAN batsman Steve Smith is cleaned up by India’s Kuldeep Yadav as wicket-keeper K.L. Rahul looks on during the second ODI at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday.—AFP

RAJKOT: India’s rejigged batting order fired on Friday as the hosts beat Australia by 36 runs in the second One-day International here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium to level the three-match series.

Steve Smith kept Australia on course with a typically busy 98 before dragging the ball onto his stumps and the tourists were all out for 304 in the final over.

The Indian top order had powered the hosts to 340-6 with opener Shikhar Dhawan (96) laying the foundation and KL Rahul providing the late assault with a whirlwind 80 at number five.

David Warner and Aaron Finch smashed unbeaten centuries to flatten India in the series opener in Mumbai but the hosts ensured there was no encore.

Manish Pandey plucked a one-handed stunner at cover-point to dismiss David Warner (15) and Ravindra Jadeja had Finch stumped for 33.

Smith revived Australia’s chase with his 96-run stand with Marnus Labuschagne.

Even after Labuschagne fell for 46, Smith kept Australia on course while approaching his own hundred.

Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav then intervened, dismissing Alex Carey and Smith in the same over.

Smith, who hit nine boundaries and a six in his 98, was aghast with himself after dragging the ball onto his stumps.

Smarting from a 10-wicket thrashing in Mumbai, India got off to a strong start after being put in to bat.

A couple of near-misses punctured Dhawan’s 81-run partnership with Rohit Sharma, who made 42 before falling to Adam Zampa after a clumsy attempt at a sweep shot.

Back in his usual number three spot, Virat Kohli (78) collaborated with Dhawan in a century partnership before a mini-collapse unfolded.

Dhawan holed out four runs short of his century, Shreyas Iyer fell to Zampa (3-50) and Ashton Agar and Mitchell Starc combined to complete a relay catch to send back Kohli.

Playing Rahul, primarily an opener, in the middle order also paid off for the hosts as the elegant right-hander showed his versatility with a 52-ball 80, which included three sixes.

Keeping wicket in the absence of Rishabh Pant, who suffered concussion in Mumbai, Rahul impressed with his glovework too, pulling off a smart stumping to dismiss Finch and taking a couple of catches.

India, however, may face a top order crisis in Sunday’s decider in Bengaluru after Dhawan (rib) and Rohit (arm) left the field with injuries.


R. Sharma lbw b Zampa 42

S. Dhawan c Starc b Richardson 96

V. Kohli c Starc b Zampa 78

S. Iyer b Zampa 7

K.L. Rahul run out 80

M. Pandey c Agar b Richardson 2

R. Jadeja not out 20

M. Shami not out 1

EXTRAS (B-5, LB-4, W-5) 14

TOTAL (for six wkts, 50 overs) 340

DID NOT BAT: K. Yadav, N. Saini, J. Bumrah

FALL OF WKTS: 1-81, 2-184, 3-198, 4-276, 5-280, 6-338

BOWLING: Cummins 10-1-53-0; Starc 10-0-78-0; Richardson 10-0-73-2; Zampa 10-0-50-3; Agar 8-0-63-0; Labuschagne 2-0-14-0



D. Warner c Pandey b Shami 15

A. Finch st Rahul b Jadeja 33

S. Smith b Yadav 98

M. Labuschagne c Shami b Jadeja 46

A. Carey c Kohli b Yadav 18

A. Turner b Shami 13

A. Agar lbw b Saini 25

P. Cummins b Shami 0

M. Starc c Rahul b Saini 6

K. Richardson not out 24

A. Zampa c Rahul b Bumrah 6

EXTRAS (LB-10, W-10) 20

TOTAL (all out, 49.1 overs) 304

FALL OF WKTS: 1-20, 2-82, 3-178, 4-220, 5-221, 6-259, 7-259 , 8-274, 9-275

BOWLING: Bumrah 9.1-2-32-1; Shami 10-0-77-3; Saini 10-0-62-2; Jadeja

10-0-58-2; Yadav 10-0-65-2

RESULT: India won by 36 runs.


SERIES: Three-match level at 1-1

UMPIRES: Richard Kettleborough (England), Virender Sharma (India)

TV UMPIRE: Michael Gough (England)

MATCH REFEREE: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2020
Hafeez to retire after Twenty20 World Cup

Hafeez to retire after Twenty20 World Cup

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29723847

LAHORE: Recalled Pakistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez said on Friday he will retire from international cricket after the Twenty20 World Cup later this year, vowing to end his career on a positive note.

The 38-year-old was Thursday recalled to Pakistan’s Twenty20 series against Bangladesh starting in Lahore from January 24. Hafeez has been one of Pakistan’s key players—in all three formats, as a top order batsman and a handy off-spinner—since making his debut during an England tour in 2003.

But his career was dogged by questions over the legality of his bowling action, reported on three occasions during international matches. He was also banned from bowling for 12 months in 2015.

Hafeez, dubbed the “professor” for his knowledge of the game, said he enjoyed playing for Pakistan. “It has been a privilege,” he told media. “I want to play the Twenty20 World Cup and then exit from Pakistan’s international team.”

Hafeez retired from Tests in December 2018 after playing 55 Tests. The Twenty20 World Cup will be held in Australia in October-November this year.
Africa Cup of Nations change a 'catastrophe' for Klopp

Africa Cup of Nations change a 'catastrophe' for Klopp

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29723848

London: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has urged football’s governing bodies to ease the burden on the sport’s top players, calling the decision to switch the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to January and February a “catastrophe”.

The European champions face losing African player of the year Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita for a significant spell next season after the AFCON, which will be hosted in Cameroon, was switched back to its former slot in the calendar.

The tournament was moved to June and July for last year’s 24-team edition in Egypt, in large part to avoid clashing with the European club season.

However, the competition, won by Algeria, was played in the searing heat of the north African summer. The same period coincides with the rainy season in Cameroon.

Klopp said he understood the arguments for changing the schedule due to the tough conditions but criticised FIFA’s new 24-team Club World Cup, which Liverpool will be invited to after winning last season’s Champions League, in June and July of 2021 as further clogging up the calendar.

“The first thing is that FIFA plans a tournament in the summer of 2021. A week later the AFCON would have started I think. Another tournament for a lot of world-class players,” said Klopp, who has been a persistent critic of fixture congestion.

“These decisions are made without asking players, managers, without asking anybody.

“FIFA, who should sort all of that as the head of these different associations, doesn’t look like being involved. They are still happy having their 2021 Club World Cup and offering a lot of money for all the clubs involved.

“All of that leads to the AFCON going back to January and February, which is for us a catastrophe in that moment losing three players.”

Klopp, speaking at the club’s training ground on Friday, added that while the rearranged timing of the AFCON would not affect the futures of the African players already at the club, it could put him off signing more in the future.

“It doesn’t help African players,” he said.

“FIFA, UEFA and FAs (football associations) of all countries have to come together and finally sort that (out).”
Premier League refs told to use monitors for red cards

Premier League refs told to use monitors for red cards

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29723849

LONDON: Premier League chiefs have advised referees to use pitchside monitors to make a final decision on red cards, according to reports on Friday.

Officials in the English top-flight were initially believed to have been told the monitors should be used only occasionally when the Premier League brought in VAR this season. No referee has gone to review a decision using the monitors in the Premier League, instead relying on VAR to make the calls.

Michael Oliver did check the monitor before issuing a red card to Crystal Palace’s Luka Milivojevic during an FA Cup third-round tie against Derby on January 5. There have been growing calls for referees to use the monitors in a bid to curb some of the highly controversial decisions made by VAR this term.
Pope hits century as England dominate

Pope hits century as England dominate

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29723845

PORT ELIZABETH: Ollie Pope hit his maiden Test century in the third Test against South Africa, following Ben Stokes to three figures to put England in control at Port Elizabeth.

Stokes dominated the morning session on day two, powering his way to a punishing 120 before leaving the stage to his 22-year-old partner. Pope went on to 106 not out in a tea total of 426 for eight, reaching his landmark with the 14th boundary of his ninth innings as an international batsman.

Between them, England’s middle-order centurions ensured England passed 400 in the first innings of a Test for the first time since December 2017 in Perth.

After a 45-minute rain delay England resumed on their overnight score of 224 for four - a foundation built around slow and steady runs from the top order and a late stand of 76 from Root and Stokes.

Over the course of two one-sided hours England added another 111 without loss, Stokes responsible for 70 of them as he tapped into the kind of groove that very few players have access to. He started one run behind Pope on 38 but was first to 50, standing tall and twice crashing Kagiso Rabada through midwicket. Pope had already nailed a pleasing square drive and was soon raising his own bat, but made no attempt to match Stokes blow for blow.

Keshav Maharaj, who brought consistency and control throughout day one, was the man in Stokes’ sights, slog-swept for six within moments of entering the attack and shipping 12 from his first over.

Stokes saved an even bigger blow for his next visit, clearing the ropes, the grass bank and the ground’s perimeter fence in one clean swipe. South Africa could not plug the gaps, with fifth-wicket stand swelling from 100 to 150 at better than a run-a-ball.

The checkpoints kept coming - first England’s 300 and then Stokes’ 4000th Test run, courtesy of another muscular swipe off Maharaj. On 99 he stroked Dane Paterson for a single and marked his latest memorable moment by removing a glove and bending his middle figure.

That was a nod to his father Ged’s amputated digit and a reminder that Stokes senior was watching from a hospital bed in Johannesburg following his admission just before Christmas.

The very next ball saw Pope given lbw off Paterson only for DRS to show the ball missing leg stump, leaving England 335 for four at the interval.

Stokes began the afternoon in top gear but was stopped in his tracks when slashed to backward point, handing Paterson a maiden Test wicket. Having added 203 with Stokes, Pope was now the senior batsman on 79 and the Surrey man calmly marched towards his ton in 190 deliveries.

It came with a sweetly-struck on-drive off Nortje, with Pope taking a second to soak up the moment before embracing Dom Bess at the non-striker’s end.

Maharaj chipped off wickets away at the other end, Jos Buttler caught and bowled and Bess held at silly point but Sam Curran left his mark. The all-rounder swung merrily for 44 in 50 balls, striking six fours and a six before being held on the fence.
Rabada ban triggers dispute ahead of fourth Test

Rabada ban triggers dispute ahead of fourth Test

18/01/2020, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29723846

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa: Kagiso Rabada was criticised by former West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding and ex-England batsman Kevin Pietersen on Friday amid heated debate over the decision to ban him from the fourth and final Test against England.

The South Africa fast bowler pleaded guilty to a level one breach of the International Cricket Council’s code of conduct because of the way he celebrated the dismissal of England captain Joe Root during the first day of the third Test at St George’s Park on Thursday.

He was fined 15 percent of his match fee and handed one demerit point. As it was his fourth demerit point in a 24-month period he incurred an automatic one-match ban, ruling him out of next week’s fourth Test in Johannesburg.

“He has to learn,” said Holding, who was commentating for SuperSport television. “You can’t keep making the same mistakes. He has to remember he is damaging his team. South Africa without Rabada at the Wanderers—that’s a big blow.”

After bowling Root, Rabada charged down the pitch before celebrating with fists clenched almost within touching distance of the England captain. Rabada pleaded guilty to “using language, actions or gestures which disparage or could provoke an aggressive reaction from a batter upon his or her dismissal”.

Fellow commentator Pietersen said the way Rabada got close to batsmen after dismissing them was unacceptable. “He shouldn’t be celebrating in a batsman’s personal space,” he said, adding Rabada had behaved in a similar way after dismissing Zak Crawley during the second Test in Cape Town.

“I feel sorry for (South African captain) Faf du Plessis and (coach) Mark Boucher,” said Pietersen. “South Africa are going to miss their strike bowler at the Wanderers.”

However, former England captain Nasser Hussain defended Rabada. “Cricket has shot itself in the foot,” Hussain told Sky Sports. “Was there any physical contact? Was there any sledging? A bowler showed some emotion.

“I don’t think he made a mistake yesterday. He was foolish for someone on three demerit points to do that. I think we’re sanitising the game if we can’t have anything like that.” He said fans who had bought tickets to see Rabada bowl in the fourth Test would feal cheated.

Another ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan also backed the South African bowler. “Rabada getting a one game ban for celebrating taking the wicket of the opponents best player is absolutely bonkers...” he tweeted. “Over rates & slow play nothing gets done ... Celebrate a wicket and you are banned ... The World is bloody nuts ...”