Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I

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New Zealand's Mark Chapman, left, celebrates with Dean Foxcroft after hitting a boundary during the third T20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand, in Rawalpindi on April 21, 2024. (AP)
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New Zealand’s Michael Bracewell, center, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam, right, during the third T20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand, in Rawalpindi on April 21, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 21 April 2024
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Chapman-inspired New Zealand shock Pakistan in third T20I

  • The 29-year-old left hander smashed a 42-ball 87 to anchor New Zealand’s chase of 179-run target in 18.2 overs
  • Shadab Khan (41) and Babar Azam (37) were main contributors in Pakistan’s 178-4 after the hosts were sent in to bat

RAWALPINDI: Mark Chapman hit a robust half century to help an under-strength New Zealand to a shock seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international in Rawalpindi on Sunday.
The 29-year-old left hander smashed a 42-ball 87 to anchor New Zealand’s chase of 179-run target in 18.2 overs against the much vaunted Pakistan bowling attack, silencing a packed 16,000 holiday crowd.
Shadab Khan (41) and Babar Azam (37) were the main contributors in Pakistan’s 178-4 after the hosts were sent in to bat by New Zealand.
Tim Robinson hit 28 off 19 balls and Tim Seifert 21 off 16 to set the tone for New Zealand’s chase.
New Zealand were strongly-placed at 53-2 in the sixth over before Chapman and Dean Foxcroft (31) took over, adding a solid 117-run in a third wicket partnership to square the five-match series at 1-1.
Pakistan won the second game by seven wickets while the first match was washed out after just two balls — both were also in Rawalpindi.
Chapman, whose only T20I hundred came at the same venue last year, clobbered four sixes and nine fours in his eighth half century in the format. He was ably supported by Foxcroft.
Pakistan skipper Azam brought spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi on in the 15th over with 61 to defend, but Chapman cracked two fours. He then smashed two sixes and two more fours off Naseem Shah’s next over to bring the target down to 21 of 24 balls.
Fast bowler Abbas Afridi, 2-27, dismissed Foxcroft, but by then New Zealand were just nine away from victory. Chapman and Jimmy Neesham (six not out) reached the target with ten balls to spare.
Earlier Shadab hit two sixes and four fours while Azam hit four fours and a six.
Opener Saim Ayub scored a 22-ball 32 and Muhammad Irfan Khan chipped in with a 20-ball 30 not out as Pakistan added 54 in the last five overs.
Azam and left-hander Ayub gave Pakistan a brisk start of 55 as the duo played some aggressive shots.
Shadab and Irfan boosted the innings with a brisk 62-run stand for the fourth wicket.
For New Zealand, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi was the best bowler with 2-25.
The final two matches are in Lahore on April 25 and 27.
Both teams are preparing for June’s Twenty20 World Cup in the United States and the West Indies.


T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

Updated 13 sec ago
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T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

  • The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs
  • The weather condition in England has jeopardized the T20 World Cup preparations for both teams

CARDIFF, Wales: The T20 World Cup preparations of England and Pakistan were further hurt after the third match of their warmup series was abandoned Tuesday without any play possible in Cardiff because of rain.
The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs in Edgbaston on Saturday.
The fourth and final match of the series is at The Oval in London on Thursday. Bad weather is forecast then, too.
The T20 World Cup begins on Saturday in the United States and the Caribbean, with England’s opening match against Scotland in Barbados on June 4 and Pakistan playing for the first time on June 6 against the US.


US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

Updated 4 min 51 sec ago
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US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

  • US earned debut spot at T20 World Cup as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies next month 
  • Cricket has curious history in US, lingering influence of colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence

FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: The US will make their debut in the T20 World Cup and while they earned the spot as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies, they are determined to show they can make an impact among the big boys.
Cricket has a curious history in North America — the first ever international match featured the US against Canada in 1844 but the lingering influence of the colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence.
The US has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1965 and frequently competed in the tournaments for non-Test nations.
But the Americans have never featured in either the T20 World Cup or the ODI version, with their only appearance in a major tournament at the 2004 Champions Trophy, where they were roundly beaten by New Zealand and Australia in the group stage.
Grassroots participation has grown over recent years though with thriving local leagues and the T20 format has been used to develop a stronger base with Minor League Cricket and Major League Cricket emerging in the past few years.
It is too soon for those structures to have had an impact on the national side but smart use of the qualification criteria has seen the side become increasingly competitive.
The team coached by Australian Stuart Law head into the tournament on the back of a 2-1 T20I series win over Bangladesh that has provided them with real belief.
The Americans won the opening two games before resting several key starters to provide some opportunity for their back-ups.
The US, captained by Monank Patel, will have to face giants India and Pakistan along with Ireland and Canada in the group stage.
The addition of former New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson has introduced some World Cup experience and top-class quality into the squad.
Anderson moved to the US in 2020 playing domestic cricket and — as his last game for New Zealand was in 2018 — he was able to switch in 2022 due to the ‘four year rule’ which applies in these cases.
Vice-captain Aaron Jones, who was born in New York but grew up playing in Barbados, says the American team is determined to make a statement in the tournament.
“We want to show everybody in the world that US can actually be a cricketing country and obviously be role models for the kids coming up,” he told AFP.
Jones is one of a number of players with experience of playing cricket outside the US and he has been impressed by the standard of the associate level nations.
“It’s just about getting the opportunity and obviously grasping that opportunity. Afghanistan is a really good team right now and they came through from associate. Ireland obviously came from associate. So the opportunity is there and we just need to really and truly take it and showcase our talent to the world,” he added.
Law has been able to work with a fixed core of players including pace bowler Ali Khan, who grew up in Pakistan and has played in the Caribbean Premier League.
Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 while Miami-born Steven Taylor has extensive experience in Caribbean cricket.
Jones, who was persuaded by Taylor to join the US team, rejects any idea that the US is in the tournament just to make up the numbers.
“We want to win games. We want to bring as much competition as any other team in the tournament,” he said.
The shortest form of the game does create the opportunity for more surprises and Jones believes his team are capable of producing some.
“We are a very good team. Obviously we showed that against Bangladesh, one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it an upset if we beat Pakistan or India. I will just say that we played better cricket on the day. It is a game of cricket. The bigger teams can lose as well.”


Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals

Updated 25 min 32 sec ago
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Towns, Edwards lift Wolves over Mavs 105-100 to avoid sweep in West finals

  • The Wolves avoided being the 16th team out of 21 to get swept after losing the first three games of a series that started at home
  • Luka Doncic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth triple-double of these playoffs, but he and co-star Kyrie Irving were just 13 of 39 from the field

DALLAS: Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half and the Minnesota Timberwolves held off the Dallas Mavericks 105-100 on Tuesday night to avoid a sweep in the Western Conference finals.

Anthony Edwards had 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Wolves stayed alive in their first trip to the conference finals in 20 years, and just the second in the franchise’s 35 seasons.

Towns, who was shooting 28 percent from the field in the series coming in, was 9 of 13 from the field, including four of five from deep.

“He got himself going by going to the hoop,” coach Chris Finch said. “Played quick off the catch. Stayed confident. He didn’t really look much for his 3 until the second half. He just had his feet set. He was ready. And they were huge.”

Now third-seeded Minnesota head home for Game 5 on Thursday night to see if they can make the series even more interesting against No. 5 seed Dallas.

Luka Doncic had 28 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in his sixth triple-double of these playoffs, but he and co-star Kyrie Irving were just 13 of 39 from the field. Irving, who was 14-0 in his career in closeout games coming in, finished with 16 points.

“That game’s on me. Just didn’t give enough energy,” said Doncic, who was 7 of 21 from the field, including 1 of 5 in the fourth when he and Irving had combined as closers to build the 3-0 series lead. “They won one game. We’ve just got to focus on the next one.”

The Wolves have led in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter of every game in the series, and this time they finished.

Towns, who picked up his fifth foul midway through the third quarter, put the Wolves ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining, then hit another from deep the next time down.

Edwards put the Wolves up five with a jumper just inside the arc with 39 seconds left, and Minnesota hung on despite Edwards fouling Doncic on a made 3-pointer for a three-point Dallas deficit with 12 seconds to go.

Doncic missed the free throw, and Naz Reid hit a bucket to push the margin back to five with 11 seconds remaining.

Towns appeared to be finding a rhythm, scoring 10 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter before picking up his fifth foul for elbowing P.J. Washington Jr. in the face as Towns went up for a shot.

The call against Towns prompted a technical foul against Finch from the second row, where he’s been confined since the start of the second round of the playoffs because of a knee injury that required surgery. Assistant Micah Nori has been roaming the sidelines.

Finch flirted with a second technical, which would have meant an ejection, a few minutes later when Edwards was called for his fourth foul going for a steal against Daniel Gafford.

Towns fouled out in the final two minutes, while Edwards and Rudy Gobert finished with five apiece.

“We weathered a lot of foul trouble out there, which was frustrating to say the least,” Finch said. “Credit to our guys. They found a way to win the game. It was a lot like Games 1 and 2, and we were able to get it done tonight.”

The Wolves avoided being the 16th team out of 21 to get swept after losing the first three games of a series that started at home. Now they’ll try to be just the fourth to force at least six games.

Mike Conley scored 14 points for Minnesota, and Rudy Gobert had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Jaden Hardy scored 10 of his 13 points in a 3:38 stretch that spilled into the first bucket of the fourth quarter, a corner 3 that pulled Dallas within two. Four of the game’s 11 lead changes came in the fourth.

The Mavs were without rookie center Dereck Lively II, who injured his neck when Towns accidentally kneed him in back of the head in Game 3.

Maxi Kleber, who has been out since May 3 with a separated shoulder, returned to give Dallas another option inside. But Daniel Gafford didn’t have his regular tag team partner as a rim protector at center, and the Wolves shot series-best 53 percent from the field.


Former Olympic pole vault champion Thiago Braz banned for doping: AIU

Updated 46 min 58 sec ago
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Former Olympic pole vault champion Thiago Braz banned for doping: AIU

  • The 30-year-old had protested his innocence saying he had consumed it “through sports supplements containing the banned substance“
  • Braz, who was provisionally suspended by the AIU on 28 July 2023, will be barred from competing until 27 November, 2024

PARIS: Brazil’s 2016 Olympic champion Thiago Braz will not be able to attempt to regain his title in Paris this year having been banned for 16 months for doping on Tuesday by the Athletics Integrity Unit.
“The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has banned Rio 2016 Olympic champion Thiago Braz for 16 months for the presence of ostarine glucuronide,” read an AIU statement.
The 30-year-old had protested his innocence saying he had consumed it “through sports supplements containing the banned substance.”
Braz — who took bronze in the COVID-delayed Tokyo Games three years ago — has got off lightly as the AIU had sought a four-year ban “contending in particular that he was ‘reckless’ and acted with ‘indirect intent’.”
His lawyers said in a statement they had appealed the decision, in order to overturn the sanction or further reduce the period of ineligibility, so that Braz can “freely participate in the Paris 2024 Olympics.”
However, they described the reduced ban as “extremely positive.”
The AIU has said it will consider appealing the shortened period of ineligibility.
“Athletes from Brazil, including Mr.Braz, have been specifically educated about the dangers surrounding the use of supplements from compound pharmacies in Brazil,” said AIU Head Brett Clothier.
“This has occurred via AIU online forums and AIU athlete advisory notices. In the light of these very clear warnings, it is disappointing to be dealing with such a case.”
The Disciplinary Tribunal ruled that, while Braz had been “personally informed” about the high risk of contamination involved in using the supplements and had consequently “ignored this risk,” he was not deemed to have manifestly disregarded the risk because he had relied on his medical team for advice.
A majority of the panel determined he was not at “significant fault or negligence.”
Braz, who was provisionally suspended by the AIU on 28 July, 2023 after returning a positive result following an in-competition test at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on 2 July, will be barred from competing until 27 November, 2024.


Djokovic shrugs off troubles in winning start at French Open

Updated 29 May 2024
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Djokovic shrugs off troubles in winning start at French Open

  • Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist in 2023, overpowered Russian teenager Erika Andreeva 6-1, 6-2 in just 68 minutes
  • Two-time runner-up Casper Ruud cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Brazilian qualifier Felipe Meligeni Alves

PARIS: Defending champion Novak Djokovic shrugged off his recent troubles to sweep to his 93rd career win at the French Open on Tuesday, extending his run of first round Roland Garros victories to a perfect 20.

Djokovic, chasing a fourth title in Paris and record 25th Grand Slam triumph, came through against 142nd-ranked French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

The 37-year-old, who saw career-long rival and 14-time champion Rafael Nadal exit the tournament on Monday, had arrived under a cloud.

For the first time since 2018, he is without a title and has yet to reach a final this season.

He has also endured recent misfortunes being accidentally hit on the head by a metal water bottle in Rome and then suffering stomach problems in Geneva.

“It was a solid performance,” said Djokovic. “I could have done better, especially on the return, but bravo to him for serving well.

“It’s a victory in three sets, that’s what matters at this moment. I felt better compared to the last few weeks. I was focused. I encouraged myself, I am satisfied with my state of mind.”

Djokovic, who has advanced to the French Open quarterfinals or better every year since 2010, will face Spain’s 63rd-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena for a place in the last 32.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist in 2023, overpowered Russian teenager Erika Andreeva 6-1, 6-2 in just 68 minutes under the roof of Court Philippe Chatrier as heavy rain caused a five-hour delay to action around the grounds.

World No. 2 Sabalenka fired 27 winners past the 100th-ranked Andreeva and broke serve five times in a dominant display.

“I’m trying to do well on clay, it is tough conditions here but I enjoy playing here and I’m just trying to bring my best tennis every time — whatever the surface,” said Sabalenka.

The Belarusian has made at least the last-four at her past six Grand Slams and is expected to be Iga Swiatek’s toughest rival in the Pole’s bid for a fourth French Open title.

There was better luck for Andreeva’s younger sister Mirra, who went to the fourth round as a 16-year-old in 2023.

She swept past Emina Bektas of the US in straights sets.

Two-time runner-up Casper Ruud, who won clay-court titles in Barcelona and Geneva in the build-up to Roland Garros, cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Brazilian qualifier Felipe Meligeni Alves.

“It’s great to be back here at Roland Garros,” he said. “Hopefully I can make it another good year here.”

Ruud was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic in last year’s final following a one-sided loss to Nadal in the 2022 showpiece.

Frenchwoman Alize Cornet’s career ended with a straight-sets defeat by Zheng Qinwen in her record-extending 69th consecutive Grand Slam appearance.

Cornet was no match for China’s Australian Open runner-up Zheng, losing 6-2, 6-1.

She made her debut at Roland Garros as a 15-year-old in 2005 and had not missed a Grand Slam tournament since the 2006 US Open.

Cornet reached a career-high ranking of 11th in 2009 and enjoyed a surprise run to the 2022 Australian Open quarter-finals.

“I already cried yesterday watching Rafa,” said a tearful Cornet after seeing Nadal lose what was likely his last match at the French Open.

Over on Court Suzanne Lenglen, former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina powered into the second round with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Belgian Greet Minnen.

Kazakh world No. 4 Rybakina is the only player to defeat Swiatek on clay this season, in the Stuttgart semifinals in April.

There was no celebration for Argentine qualifier Roman Andres Burruchaga who has sporting success in the blood.

His father Jorge famously scored the winning goal for Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the 1986 World Cup final against West Germany.

Ranked at 144, the 22-year-old came up short in a three-set loss to experienced Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.