Afghanistan stun Australia with 21-run T20 World Cup win

Afghanistan players celebrate the dismissal of Australia’s Matthew Wade during their T20 World Cup cricket match at Arnos Vale Ground, Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on June 22, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 23 June 2024
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Afghanistan stun Australia with 21-run T20 World Cup win

  • Afghanistan made 148-6 and then bowled out their opponents for 127 in 19.2 overs for their first ever victory over the Australians

ARNOS VALE, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Gulbadin Naib was Afghanistan’s man with the golden arm, bowling his team to a surprise 21-run victory over previously unbeaten Australia in their Group One Super Eight encounter in the T20 World Cup at the Arnos Vale Stadium on Saturday.

Set a target of 149, Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41 balls, six fours, three sixes) had the Test and One-Day champions on course until he became Gulbadin’s third wicket in the 15th over, opening the door to a result which keeps the duel for semifinal spots alive going into the final two fixtures in the group on Monday.

Gulbadin finished with four for 20 from his four overs of medium pace to turn the match as Australia suffered their first-ever defeat to the Afghans in a senior international encounter, being dismissed for 127 with four balls left in the match.

“It is a great moment for me, my nation, my people,” said an exultant Gulbadin on receiving the Man of the Match award. “I learned a lot about the pitch from when we batted and I am glad that (captain) Rashid (Khan) had faith in me.”

Earlier, Pat Cummins claimed his second hat-trick in as many matches as Afghanistan lost momentum after another century opening stand from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, settling for a total of 148 for six having been put in.

A top score of 60 off 49 balls (four fours, four sixes) by Gurbaz and 51 off 48 balls (six fours) from Zadran gave the Afghans an excellent platform of 118 — their third century partnership of the tournament — by the 16th over.

But having ridden their luck via half-chances and misfields in gaining the ascendancy, four wickets for eight runs put the innings back in the balance. Marcus Stoinis made the breakthrough and leg-spinner Adam Zampa applied the brakes with two wickets.

Yet it was Cummins, who claimed a hat-trick against Bangladesh against in Antigua on Thursday, who essentially switched off the Afghanistan innings with the wicket of Rashid Khan at the end of the 18th over before adding Karim Janat and eventual hero Gulbadin at the start of the 20th over.

“It was an off night for us in the field and we own that,” conceded Australian captain Mitchell Marsh. “We knew it was a difficult wicket but both teams bowled on it, both teams batted on it and we were simply outplayed by a better team on the night.”

In reflecting on a historic night for his team, Rashid acknowledged the reward of returning to the opening pair of Gurbaz and Zadran.

“It was important to return to the previous playing eleven after we tried a few different things in the last match against India,” he explained. “We had in our minds that 140 was a good total on this wicket. The belief was there and as a captain, having so many bowling options like Gulbadin makes the job easier.”

With two teams from the group advancing to the semifinals, Australia will now have to win their final match against unbeaten leaders India in St. Lucia on Monday to be assured of a place in the last four.

Afghanistan, also on two points like Australia, will stay in St. Vincent where they face Bangladesh later on Monday by which time they will know what is required to qualify for the semifinals for the first time.


Dunlap becomes first player in PGA Tour history to win as an amateur and a pro in the same year

Updated 22 July 2024
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Dunlap becomes first player in PGA Tour history to win as an amateur and a pro in the same year

  • On Sunday at Tahoe Mountain Club in the only PGA Tour event that uses the modified Stableford scoring system, Dunlap took the lead with a 55-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th

TRUCKEE, California: Nick Dunlap became the first player in PGA Tour history to win as an amateur and a professional in the same year, rallying Sunday for a two-point victory in the Barracuda Championship.
In January at The American Express in La Quinta, the 20-year-old Dunlap — then a sophomore at the University of Alabama — became the eighth amateur to win a tour event and the first in 33 years. He turned professional days later.
“I never thought that I would have my name next to that, but it’s definitely an honor,” Dunlap said about the amateur-pro double. “It’s been a little tough after AmEx. You kind of lose a little bit of confidence and wonder if you can do it again.”
On Sunday at Tahoe Mountain Club in the only PGA Tour event that uses the modified Stableford scoring system, Dunlap took the lead with a 55-foot eagle putt on the par-5 15th.
Players receive eight points for a double eagle, five for eagle and two for birdie. A point is deducted for bogey and three for double bogey.
“I hadn’t made an eagle yet this week, so that was kind of the goal, and just play aggressive, not reckless,” Dunlap said. “This course, it allows you to make a lot of birdies if you’re in position.”
Dunlap added a birdie on the par-4 17th, cutting the dogleg with a 304-yard drive and chipping to 3 feet.
Nine points behind leader Mac Meissner entering the day, Dunlap had 19 points in the bogey-free round to finish with 49. He birdied six of the first 12 holes on the tree-lined Old Greenwood course.
“The only sour thing about this is that winning moment goes quickly,” Dunlap said. “It doesn’t stay as long as you may think, just because tomorrow I’m flying to Minnesota and trying to repeat and do the exact same thing.”
Vince Whaley finished second, making a 17-foot birdie putt on par-4 18th for a nine-point day.
“I didn’t hit it very good the whole day and I kind of kept myself in it with the short game,” Whaley said. “Then missed a couple I felt like I could have made coming in.”
Patrick Fishburn had 46 points, holing a 10-footer for birdie on 18 to cap a 12-point round.
“It was a great week,” Fishburn said. “This is probably one of my favorite stops of the year.”
Meissner was fourth at 44. He closed a five-point round with a bogey.
“I’m definitely pretty bummed,” Meissner said. “It was a frustrating day. I had a couple good looks early for birdie through the first 10 holes and didn’t capitalize. It was just tough.”
Taylor Pendrith and Patrick Rodgers tied for fifth at 43.
With two events left in the regular season, Dunlap jumped from 95th to 63rd in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 70 will advance to the playoffs.
“It’s been a goal,” Dunlap said. “It’s, honestly, one of the reasons I played here.”


Xander the Great! Schauffele wins the British Open for his 2nd major this year

Updated 22 July 2024
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Xander the Great! Schauffele wins the British Open for his 2nd major this year

  • Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 with a final round that ranks among the most memorable in British Open history, particularly the 31 on the back nine

TROON, Scotland: Xander Schauffele went from the most nerve-wracking putt of his career to the coolest walk toward an 18th green he ever imagined.
He won a nail-biter at the PGA Championship in May. He delivered a masterpiece Sunday in the British Open. Two different finishes, two different feelings.
One major conclusion.
Schauffele has more than enough game and all the confidence in the world to win the biggest championships. Questioned at the start of the season whether he could win a major, he now has two of them.
Schauffele closed with a 6-under 65 with a final round that ranks among the most memorable in British Open history, particularly the 31 on the back nine. It matched the best score of the week at Royal Troon with nothing less than the claret jug riding on the outcome.
He played bogey-free in a daunting wind and turned a two-shot deficit into a two-shot victory for his second major of the year.
It also gave the Americans a sweep of the four majors for the first time since 1982.
“It’s a dream come true to win two majors in one year,” Schauffele said. “It took me forever just to win one, and to have two now is something else.”
He won the PGA Championship at Valhalla by making a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a 65. In a final round set up for high drama at Royal Troon — six players one shot behind, nine players separated by three shots — Schauffele made a tense Sunday look like a nice walk along the Irish Sea.
“I think winning the first one helped me a lot today on the back nine,” he said. “I had some feeling of calmness come through. It was very helpful on what has been one of the hardest back nines I’ve ever played in a tournament.”
It sure didn’t show. Standing on the 18th tee, Schauffele said he turned to caddie and longtime friend Austin Kaiser and told him that he had felt calm down the decisive back nine.
“He said he was about to puke,” Schauffele said.
In the 90-year history of four majors, Schauffele became the first player to win two majors in one season with a final-round 65. Jack Nicklaus is the only other player to do that in his career.
And he never looked more calm, oozing that cool California vibe even as the wind presented so much trouble at Royal Troon.
Schauffele pulled away with three birdies in a four-hole stretch early on the back nine to go from two shots behind to leading by as many as three.
He won by two shots over American Billy Horschel and Justin Rose, the 43-year-old from England who had to go through 36-hole qualifying just to get into the field. They were among four players who had at least a share of the lead at one point Sunday.
They just couldn’t keep up with Schauffele. No one could.
“He has a lot of horsepower,” Rose said. “He’s good with a wedge, he’s great with a putter, he hits the ball a long way, obviously his iron play is strong. So he’s got a lot of weapons out there. I think probably one of his most unappreciated ones is his mentality. He’s such a calm guy out there.
“I don’t know what he’s feeling, but he certainly makes it look very easy.”
Even with so many players in contention early, the engraver was able to get to work early on those 16 letters across the base of the silver claret jug.
Schauffele kept staring at golf’s oldest trophy in his press conference, looking forward to gazing at it in private, wondering what kind of drink to pour from it. He said he’d leave that up to his father, Stefan, who missed his son’s first major title and was blubbering on the phone with him.
As to where that final round ranks — Henrik Stenson shot 63 when he won his duel with Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon in 2016 — Schauffele left no doubt where it stood in his own career.
“At the very tip-top,” Schauffele said. “Best round I’ve played.”
Playing in the third-to-last group, he matched the round of the championship with a score that was just over eight shots better than the field average.
The final birdie was a pitch over a pot bunker to 4 feet on the par-5 16th. The grandstands at The Open are among the largest, lining both sides of the fairway as Schauffele walked through and soaked up the cheers.
“I got chills,” he said.
The 30-year-old from San Diego became the first player since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to win his first two majors in the same season. And he extended American dominance on this Scottish links as the seventh Open champion in the last eight visits to Royal Troon.
It was the 11th straight year for a first-time British Open champion, tying a tournament record.
Rose started one shot behind and closed with a 67. That was only good for second place. He had a chance to set a record by going the longest time between majors after his 2013 US Open win.
“Gutted when I walked off the course and it hit me hard because I was so strong out there today,” Rose said. “Xander got it going. I hit a couple of really good putts that didn’t fall, and then suddenly that lead stretched. I left it all out there. I’m super proud of how I competed.”
Horschel, who started the final round with a one-shot lead in his bid to win his first major, dropped back around the turn and birdied his last three holes for a 68.
“I’m disappointed. I should feel disappointed. I had a chance to win a major,” Horschel said. “I just made a few too many mistakes today when I didn’t need to.”
The player Schauffele had to track down was Thriston Lawrence of South Africa, who birdied three of four holes to end the front nine with a 32.
Schauffele was two shots behind when it all changed so suddenly. Schauffele hit a wedge out of the left rough on the difficult 11th and judged it perfectly to 3 feet for birdie. He hit another wedge to 15 feet for birdie on the 13th, and capped his pivotal run with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th.
Lawrence finally dropped a shot on the 12th and didn’t pick up any shots the rest of the day. He closed with a 68 and earned a small consolation — a trip to the Masters next April, his first time to Augusta National.
Scottie Scheffler, who got within one shot of the lead briefly on the front nine, lost his way with a three-putt from 6 feet for a double bogey on the ninth hole. Scheffler finished his round by topping a tee shot on the 18th and making another double bogey. The world’s No. 1 player closed with a 72 and tied for seventh.
He stuck around to share a hug with Schauffele, the two top players in golf. Schauffele was the only player this year to finish in the top 10 in all four majors.
He finished at 9-under 275 and earned $3.1 million, pushing him over $15 million for the season.
Schauffele went from the heaviest major trophy at the PGA Championship to the smallest and oldest, the famed claret jug.
“I just can’t wait to drink out of it,” he said, smiling as wide as ever.


Nadal ‘not comfortable’ ahead of Olympics bid

Updated 22 July 2024
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Nadal ‘not comfortable’ ahead of Olympics bid

BASTED, Sweden: Rafael Nadal will head to the Paris Olympics chasing a third gold medal but admitted his “level was so far from what it should be” after losing in the Bastad clay-court final on Sunday.

The 38-year-old Spanish great went down to a straight-sets defeat to Portuguese journeyman Nuno Borges in his first final since capturing a 14th French Open in 2022.

“The level was so far from what it should be. Probably the energy too,” said Nadal.

“It has been a long week with long matches. Even if my body, I don’t have damage, that’s important — but mentally and physically, I am not used to playing four days in a row and playing long matches.”

Nadal was playing his first tournament since an opening round exit at the French Open in May.

He skipped Wimbledon to focus on his clay-court bag of tricks ahead of the Olympics which are being played at Roland Garros, the site of 14 of his 22 Grand Slam triumphs.

At the Games, Nadal will be looking to add to his singles gold from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and doubles victory at Rio in 2016.

As well as singles, in Paris he will team up with French Open and Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz.

“I played the final, that’s positive. I was able to play long matches without having an injury, that’s good,” added Nadal of his week in Sweden.

The former world number one has played just six tournaments in 2024 due to injury while his ranking has slumped to 261.

“In some way I felt that I arrived here practicing much better than what I played on the tournament during the whole week. That’s something that I am not satisfied with,” he explained.

“I arrived here with the feeling that I was playing a good level and I was not able to show that during the whole week. That is something that I am not happy with.

“Anyway it’s a final, so I can’t say it’s a bad result because it’s the first final since a long time ago. But I was not able to feel myself comfortable enough during the whole week to be satisfied with the week of tennis that I played.”


Nadal defeated in first tour final in two years

Updated 21 July 2024
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Nadal defeated in first tour final in two years

  • Borges dominates Spanish star as the latter struggled to find fluency

BASTAD, Sweden: Rafael Nadal lost his first final in two years on Sunday as the Spaniard went down 6-3, 6-2 to Portugal’s Nuno Borges at the clay-court Bastad Open.

The Spanish tennis great had shown signs of a return to form in Scandinavia as he made an impressive run to the final, just one week before tennis at the Olympic Games gets underway on the clay in Paris.

But Nadal, rather than celebrating his 64th title on the surface and first since Roland Garros 2022, was dominated by Borges as he struggled to find fluency with his serve and ground strokes.

“I don’t know what to say. I think I was wishing for this moment for a while already,” said Borges in his post-match interview.

“It’s crazy; in tennis, it doesn’t happen when you expect it sometimes. I know we all wanted Rafa to win; a part of me wished that too, but something even bigger inside of me really pushed through today ... I’m just really happy overall. I really don’t know what to say, I’m very emotional.”

Elsewhere, Matteo Berrettini breezed to a 6-3, 6-1 win against France’s Quentin Halys in the Gstaad final, earning the Italian his second clay-court title of the year. 

The sixth seed Berrettini capped off a fine week in Switzerland by needing just 59 minutes to dispatch the world No. 192 Halys.

“It feels unbelievable. It feels like it was yesterday that I won my first title here six years ago, but a lot of matches and a lot of things happened,” said Berrettini.

“I’m just so glad that I can keep playing and enjoying, and I think I found the energy of six years ago during this week. This place is special for me. I’m just so happy,” added the 28-year-old who has struggled with injuries since reaching a career-high world number six in May 2022.

Berrettini’s second title on clay this season, after winning in Marrakech in April, will ensure he breaks back into the ATP top 50 on Monday.

Currently ranked 82, Berrettini was outside of the top 150 in March but a return to fitness and a fine 16-6 record for the current season has seen the 2021 Wimbledon finalist begin to refind his best level.

Sunday’s final was briefly interrupted for rain just after Berrettini secured a crucial first break in the opening set.

When the players returned 30 minutes later, the Italian won six of the next seven games to claim his second Gstaad title.


Oscar Piastri claims maiden win at quarrel-hit Hungarian Grand Prix

Updated 21 July 2024
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Oscar Piastri claims maiden win at quarrel-hit Hungarian Grand Prix

  • Finished ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris
  • Piastri, 23, won by 2.141 seconds with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton finishing third for Mercedes

BUDAPEST: Oscar Piastri claimed his maiden Formula One victory on Sunday when he finished ahead of his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, after a vexed radio argument produced an extraordinary finish to an incident-filled Hungarian Grand Prix.
In a race of fluctuating fortunes and many quarrels on and off the track, the McLaren duo secured a comprehensive one-two after starting from the team’s first front row lockout since 2012, Norris finally obeying team orders to hand his team-mate his first career win.
Piastri, 23, won by 2.141 seconds with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton finishing third for Mercedes to claim his record 200th podium finish.
He survived a late collision with Red Bull’s three-time champion and series leader Max Verstappen, who flew off, but recovered to finish fifth.
Charles Leclerc came home fourth and Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz sixth, sandwiching a grumpy Verstappen who was called to see the stewards to explain his collision with Hamilton.
Sergio Perez finished seventh for Red Bull, having started 16th on the grid, ahead of George Russell in the second Mercedes, who started 17th, and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda. Lance Stroll was 10th for Aston Martin.
“It’s very special,” said Australian driver Piastri.
“I dreamt of this as a kid and if it was a bit complicated at the end, I did put myself in the right position at the start of the race.
“It’s a hell of a lot of fun racing with McLaren. This is an incredible feeling.”
Norris was first to congratulate his team-mate, after he had appeared to reject team orders and allow the Australian to pass in the closing stages.
“Well done, a good 1-2 and lots of good points for the team. Well deserved,” he said.
Norris had made an uncertain start and he, Piastri and Verstappen were three abreast into Turn One where Piastri exited in the lead as the Dutchman ran wide and cut back into second place, gaining a clear advantage and pushing Norris down to third.
This prompted an exchange of messages before race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase told Verstappen to allow Norris to pass, a command that clearly irked him.
“So, you can just run people off the track?” barked the Dutchman.

By lap 10, Piastri led Norris by 2.7 seconds with Verstappen third adrift by two seconds ahead of Hamilton and the two Ferraris, led by Leclerc.
Hamilton eventually reeled off a series of fastest laps to rise to third, but Verstappen on younger tires reeled him in, waiting to pounce as the Briton endured a lurid slide out of Turn 12 before pitting again on lap 41 after fending off the Dutchman.
At the front, Piastri was in cruise mode ahead of Norris with Verstappen third, 11.5 seconds adrift. Hamilton rejoined fifth behind Sainz, but with Leclerc, on new mediums, on his tail.
Norris pitted again for mediums on lap 46, rejoining fourth ahead of Hamilton, followed by Piastri on 47, handing the lead to Verstappen with Norris up to second, but told to “re-establish the order at your convenience.”
Verstappen made his second stop, for mediums, on lap 50, rejoining fifth behind Leclerc, but adrift of the Ferrari by 4.5.
In the lead, Norris was reminded of his team instructions and responsibilities as Piastri closed in.
“We know you’ll do the right thing,” said McLaren, but Norris, knowing he could reduce Verstappen’s championship lead, stayed silent when told not to stress his tires.
“Tell him to catch up, please,” he said.
As McLaren’s tensions boiled over, Verstappen lunged down the inside of Hamilton at Turn One on lap 63, but locked up and clipped the Mercedes. The collision sent him airborne briefly before he bounced clear and wide before rejoining in fifth.
McLaren then issued an ultimatum to Norris.
“There are five laps to go. The way to win a championship is not by yourself. It is with the team. You are going to need Oscar and you are going to need the team.”
With three laps remaining, Norris slowed dramatically to gift Piastri the lead.