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November 18, 2019
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Ashes 2017, 4th Test: Steve Smith-David Warner to Australia’s rescue after rain cuts short Day 4

first_imgAustralia captain Steven Smith and David Warner’s resolute batting ensured there were no more hiccups for the home team crawled to 103 for 2 in their second innings before rain forced early stumps on Day 4 of the fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday. (Scorecard)The rain has practically ended England’s chances of registering a consolation win in this series with just one more day of play remaining.The MCG floodlights were illuminated and ground staff covered the center wicket in the hope that the match would recommence before the umpires eventually called off play for the day.First-innings century-maker Warner, batting with extreme caution, was unbeaten on 40 from 140 balls when play was interrupted with Smith 25 not out and the pair needing to build a big partnership on the final day to salvage a draw.Australian opener Cameron Bancroft was dismissed for 27 when he chopped a ball from Chris Woakes back on to his stumps. Then Usman Khawaja, who got off the mark with a massive six off English spinner Moeen Ali, departed for 11 when Jimmy Anderson found the edge and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took a routine catch.Earlier, England couldn’t add a single run to their overnight score this morning as Pat Cummins removed James Anderson for a duck off the first ball of the day which left former skipper Alastair Cook stranded on 244*.It is the highest score by an opener to have carried his bat through an innings surpassing New Zealand opener Glenn Turner’s 223* against the West Indies way back in 1972.advertisementThe left-hander also became the first batsman to achieve the rare feat in an Ashes series since Geoffrey Boycott at Perth in 1979.The 33-year-old is also the first England batsman in 20 years to carry his bat, with Mike Atherton (94 not out) the last to do so against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1997.Cook’s effort was the 52nd time a player has achieved the feat in over 130 years of Test cricket. Only 46 players have ever carried their bat in the longest form of the game.The last to do so was West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite, who was 142 not out against Pakistan in Sharjah last year.Cook’s 244 not out is also the highest score by a touring batsman at the MCG. The 208 scored by West Indies’ Viv Richards in 1984 was the previous record.Cummins finished with 4 for 117 while fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood and spinner Nathan Lyon captured three wickets each as the Australians struggled in the absence of injured strike bowler Mitchell Starc.last_img read more

November 18, 2019
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Let The March Madness Begin!

first_imgThursday marks something of a national holiday for American sports fans, when office productivity plummets. The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, better known as March Madness or the Big Dance, begins in earnest.A few play-in games have already happened, but Thursday and Friday feature the real opening extravaganza: 16 games each day, from noon to midnight.The single-elimination tournament means every game is a must-win for all 68 schools, producing tense, dramatic finishes. Upsets are eagerly anticipated as elites like Kentucky fend off unknowns trying to spark an improbable run and become the next tournament darling, like last year’s Dayton.Fanatics, novices and even President Barack Obama are trying to predict the winners of every game of every round by completing an estimated 70 million tournament brackets, according to the American Gaming Association — that’s more brackets completed than votes cast in the last presidential election. Here’s a brief explanation of how a basketball tournament transcended sports to become a national craze:MADNESS FROM THE STARTCollege basketball has long filled the gap in the American sports calendar when baseball and football are dormant. In 1939, Oregon beat Ohio State in the inaugural eight-team tournament.It seems modest now, but it was a risky venture: a year earlier the rival National Invitational Tournament had begun at New York’s old Madison Square Garden, already the most famous venue in basketball.The two tournaments competed for years, before the NCAA, as college sports’ governing body, managed to force member schools to participate in its tournament if they were invited (the NIT still exists as a consolation tournament).The NCAA field kept growing as TV coverage spurred interest, so more spots were given to smaller schools. The potential for a David to slay a Goliath set the stage for what remains the most-watched basketball game ever: the 1979 final pitting little-known Indiana State, led by Larry Bird, against powerhouse Michigan State, led by Magic Johnson.A quarter of U.S. homes tuned in for the classic game that transformed Bird and Johnson into rival superstars and catapulted college basketball into the American consciousness.THE BIG DANCE GETS BIGGERThe fledgling ESPN cable network began broadcasting the tournament’s oft-ignored early rounds in 1980, giving national exposure to lesser-known schools. CBS popularized the term “March Madness” through the 1980s as unlikely champions like North Carolina State and Villanova captivated Americans.TV ratings skyrocketed, and so did revenue for the NCAA. In 2013, according to the latest figures available from Kantar Media, TV advertising revenue was a staggering $1.15 billion, more than even the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl (though pro football, by far the most popular American sport, has far fewer postseason games).This year, 68 schools play in 14 venues across the U.S. Every game will be on TV and streaming online. The champion must win six games as the field winnows, from the Sweet 16 to the Elite Eight to the Final Four. The semifinals and championship will be played April 4-6 in a football stadium in Indianapolis.AN AMERICAN OBSESSION: BRACKETS! UPSETS!Fans competing in online bracket pools — often for money, though that’s technically illegal — have up until the moment the first game tips shortly after noon Eastern (0400 GMT) Thursday.Brackets will be busted by unpredictable upsets, like tiny Mercer’s dethroning of Duke last year. One of the most famous upsets was achieved in 2001 by Hampton.Who does Kentucky, this tournament’s overwhelming favorite, play in its first game? Hampton. That game just happens to be scheduled for prime-time on March 20. Kentucky is favored to win by 32 points, according to oddsmakers. But in March, anything is possible.(RICK FREEMAN, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more