Pakistan skipper Azhar says England series ‘not over yet’ after 1st Test loss 

England's Chris Woakes (R) plays a shot as Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan keeps wicket (L) during play on the fourth day of the first Test cricket match between England and Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on August 8, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 09 August 2020

Pakistan skipper Azhar says England series ‘not over yet’ after 1st Test loss 

  • It was a particularly bitter defeat for Pakistan as they had been the better side for much of this Test 
  • Pakistan, who have not lost a series against England for 10 years, must regroup quickly 

Manchester, United Kingdom: Pakistan captain Azhar Ali insisted there was all to play for following a dramatic three-wicket loss to England in the first Test at Old Trafford, where his side were “one punch away” from victory.
England, chasing a target of 277 — only one higher total has been achieved to win in the fourth innings of a Test at the Manchester ground — were in trouble at 117-5.
But a sixth-wicket stand of 139 between player of the match Chris Woakes, who finished on 84 not out, and Jos Buttler (75) changed the course of the game during Saturday’s fourth day.
It was a particularly bitter defeat for Pakistan as they had been the better side for much of this Test.
But the loss of several wickets late on Friday during an eventual second innings of 169 cost them dear in a match where Shan Masood made a Test-best 156 in the first innings and leg-spinner Yasir Shah took eight wickets in all.
Pakistan, who have not lost a series against England for 10 years, must regroup quickly before the second Test in a three-match campaign starts at Southampton on Thursday.
“It’s disappointing but not over yet, there are still two Tests to go,” Azhar told reporters.
“There a lot of positives from this game, we outplayed England on most parts of this Test match.
“I wouldn’t say we lost the match in (our) second innings, but we missed a chance to knock England out of the game there.”
Pakistan, however, were still in command during an England top-order collapse on Saturday that saw four wickets lost for 31 runs.
“We were sure we’d wrap it up if one more wicket fell,” said Azhar.
“But they (Buttler and Woakes) attacked from the off and snatched the game away from us.
“Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition.”
“We were in control of the game; we were one punch away from finishing the game off, but they came and dominated us during that period.”
Azhar, a specialist batsman, managed just 18 runs in a match where he was out for a duck in the first innings.
But although he has now scored a mere 139 runs in his past 12 away Test innings, Azhar denied captaincy was affecting his batting.
“When I bat, I’m not thinking about the captaincy, whether or not I’m out of form,” he said. “And when I’m captain, I don’t think about my batting at all.” 


Lakers roll past Nuggets 126-114 in NBA western conference finals opener

Updated 19 September 2020

Lakers roll past Nuggets 126-114 in NBA western conference finals opener

  • Top-seeded Lakers opened a double-digit lead in the first half that they easily extended in the third quarter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: Slow starters in the first two rounds, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared to be in a hurry to put away the Denver Nuggets.
It was a strong statement to their opponent — and maybe to the NBA’s MVP voters.
Anthony Davis had 37 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James added 15 points and 12 assists hours after finishing a distant second in the MVP voting, and the Lakers rolled to a 126-114 victory on Friday night in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
The top-seeded Lakers opened a double-digit lead in the first half that they easily extended in the third quarter.
“It took a quarter for us to kind of figure it out,” James said. “Not saying we fully figured them out because it’s too early in the series to say that, but we started to get a better feel. Just started to get in a better rhythm defensively and we started to get some stops in that second quarter and we were able to build that lead up going into halftime.”
James acknowledged being “pissed off” at receiving just 16 first-place votes to winner Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 85 from a panel of global sports writers and broadcasters who cover the league, and the Nuggets may have felt the wrath of that.
“It definitely sparks him and like he got a chip on his shoulder like he’s got something to prove,” Davis said.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 18 points and Dwight Howard rejoined the rotation with 13 in a powerful return to the conference finals for the Lakers, who hadn’t been to the NBA’s final four since winning their last championship in 2010.
Los Angeles dropped Game 1 against both Portland and Houston before winning the next four games. The Lakers quickly knocked off any rust for another long layoff in the bubble against a Denver team that’s had things much tougher.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray each scored 21 points for the Nuggets, playing in the conference finals for the first time since the Lakers beat them in 2009.
Denver overcame 3-1 deficits against Utah and the Clippers, becoming the first team to do that twice in a postseason. The Nuggets immediately fell behind again, digging themselves a big hole when Jokic and Murray each picked up three fouls in the first half that just got deeper in the second half.
“We know how it’s going to be. We know we’re the younger team. We’re just going to play through it,” Murray said about the fouls discrepancy. “We’re going to find a way and we’re not going to go away so easy.”
Game 2 is Sunday.
Davis scored 14 points in the first quarter, but the Nuggets shot nearly 64 percent, with Murray’s 3-pointer as time expired giving them a 38-36 lead.
Alex Caruso converted a three-point play to open the second and start a 17-1 run by the Lakers to start the period and make it 53-39 before the Nuggets made their first field goal after more than five minutes.
The lead stayed right around there for the remainder of the half, as the Lakers paraded to the foul line while Jokic, Murray and Paul Millsap went the bench with three fouls. Los Angeles shot a whopping 24 free throws in the period — more baskets than either team made in the half — and led 70-59 at the break.
An 11-2 burst in the third blew it open at 92-71 and the Lakers cruised home.