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England in box seat to win Ashes opener
England outperformed Australia in every
facet of the game on day three of the Ashes
opener, setting the tourists a victory target of
412 runs in Cardiff.
Joe Root and Ian Bell posted half-centuries
to steady their side overnight, when 15
wickets fell and England amassed a total of
289 in their second dig.
Rain is predicted for tomorrow, but, with
six sessions remaining, England is incredibly
well placed to go 1-0 up in the five-test series.
History suggests victory is impossible for
Only one side has pulled off a similar run-
chase in Ashes history — Don Bradman’s
Invincibles in 1948.
Bradman and Arthur Morris scored tons
in Leeds during that test, chasing down 404
with seven wickets in hand.
There is, of course, no Bradman or Morris
in the current Australian XI.
Those keen to mention Steve Smith in the
same breath as Australia’s greatest cricketer
were given a stark reminder of why they
should not in the first innings.
Smith, Michael Clarke and Adam Voges all
made starts on day two and looked set, but
were unable to go on with it.
Shane Watson continued that trend on day
three, when he was trapped lbw in the second
over of play.
It was the the first time in test history that
No3,No4,No5 andNo6batsmenhave all
been dismissed in the 30s during an innings.
Whereas England’s tail wagged furiously
in both digs, Australia’s bowlers offered less
resistance in a collapse of six for 50.
Alastair Cook’s field placings, coupled with
disciplined and dazzling bowling, meant
Australia were rolled for 308 and conceded a
first-innings lead of 122 runs.
England slipped to 73 for three in response.
Mitchell Starc was clearly restricted by an
ankle injury he sustained on day one, but
started with three maidens and the scalp of
Josh Hazlewood trapped Gary Ballance lbw in
the first over after lunch, while Clarke plucked a
spectacular catch to dismiss Adam Lyth.
First slip Clarke flung himself to the right,
stuck out a hand and the ball somehow
lodged between thumb and forefinger.
But Root and Bell responded with a
97-run stand, while Ben Stokes belted nine
boundaries in his knock of 42.
Root again put Australia’s bowlers to the
sword and together with Bell gave England
the platform to push for victory.
Root followed up his first-innings century
with another stylish knock of 60 and Bell
(60) ended a poor run of form as England,
desperate to atone for the humiliating 5-0
reverse in 2013-14, was bowled out for 289
to end an eventful third day ’s play in which
15 wickets fell.
Bell’s innings came to an end after crashing
Mitchell Johnson over the covers, playing
inside a good length ball to be bowled — the
fast bowler’s first wicket of the match after 36
Root was quick to seize on anything
with width, much to a capacity-crowd’s
delight at Sophia Gardens, and may have
lost concentration when he was pinned on
the back foot by Josh Hazelwood and was
bowled off his pads.
Australia did fight back in the last hour by
taking five wickets but some lusty blows from
tailender Mark Wood (32 not out) allowed
England to set an imposing target on a pitch
offering some signs of life after a docile first
Stokes, Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad went
down swinging in a careless collapse of three
for nine in 15 balls, but Wood then slapped
a quick-fire 32.
The run rate was remarkable — England
scored 268 runs in 61.1 overs after lunch.
Australia was on the back foot from the
start of day three when they lost Shane
Watson (30) and Nathan Lyon (six) with the
addition of one run to the overnight score.
Veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who
enjoyed a superb Ashes series in 2013-14
when he finished top of Australia’s averages
with 493 runs, fell to James Anderson who
polished off the innings with the new ball.
England’s Joe Root looks dejected after being bowled by Australia’s Josh Hazlewood.
Clinical Federer demolishes Murray
Roger Federer does not
lose Wimbledon semi-finals
and he produced a display of
clinical majesty to down Andy
Murray and maintain his bid
for a record eighth title with
a sparkling 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 win
The second seed reached his
10th final at the All England
Club with a near-perfect
demolition of home favourite
Murray to set up a repeat of last
year’s showpiece decider against
world No 1 Novak Djokovic.
Murray could not lay a glove
on the Federer ser ve and the
Swiss upped the pressure at
crucial stages of each set before
wrapping up victory in two
hours seven minutes when
the British third seed sent a
Federer, who has won all 10 of
the semi-finals he has played at
Wimbledon, will now resume
his rivalry with Serb Djokovic,
who earlier booked his place
in the final with a straight sets
win over Frenchman Richard
“It’s been tough. Andy has
been playing very well for the
season,” a smiling Federer said.
“I expected four or five sets. I
played so well on the biggest
occasion today and that ’s
probably why I won it.
“I’ve been ser ving very well for
the entire tournament. My ser ve
was good again, against one of
the best returners.
“I kept the pressure up, I went
for my shots and was able to mix
it up the way I usually do it. It
all worked out very well.”
For much of the clash, Murray
matched the Swiss, but lacked
the 17 times grand slam
champion’s ability to increase
his level at the business end of
Federer broke to clinch
each of the three sets, sensing
Murray ’s vulnerability under
pressure and striking with
His ser ve was almost
unplayable throughout the
match with Murray crafting
only one break point during the
Federer’s first ser ve
percentage was a remarkable
76 and he won 84% of points
on his opening delivery,
ensuring Murray, one of the
game’s best returners, had
few opportunities to test his
opponent ’s resolve.
“ He ser ved fantastic, apart
from the first game where I had
the chance there,” Murray said.
“I didn’t really have any
opportunities. Then that puts
pressure on you. The pressure
builds throughout the set that
way... That ’s definitely the best
he ser ved against me. ”
At almost 34, Federer is the
oldest man to reach the final at
Wimbledon in 41 years since
a 39-year-old Ken Rosewall
finished runner-up in 1974.
Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a shot during his match against Andy Murray of Britain.
Defending champion Novak
Djokovic swept into his fourth
Wimbledon final with a
ruthlessly efficient 7-6 (7-2),
6-4, 6-4 victory over Richard
Djokovic, the world No 1,
sur vived an unusually sloppy
start and eventually dismissed
the French 21st seed with 12
aces and 46 winners in two
hours and 20 minutes on
The 28-year-old will go for his
third All England Club title,
and his ninth at the majors,
when he faces seven-time
Wimbledon champion Roger
Federer in the final.
Djokovic defeated Federer
in last year’s final and lost to
Murray in the 2013 showpiece.
“It was a very good
performance considering the
occasion. Semi-finals are always
tough and things could have
gone his way in the first set.
That was the turning point,”
Djokovic said after booking his
17th grand slam final berth.
Djokovic played down
concerns about a left shoulder
injury that twice needed
treatment and insisted he would
be ready for the final.
“It’s nothing that worries me
honestly. It will be fine for the
next match,” he said.
“I have a responsibility to play
well here in the cradle of tennis.
It is an honour to play in the
Wimbledon final — the most
watched tennis match in the
“I’m just glad to reach another
final. I will be ready for it.”
For the first time, Djokovic
has made the Wimbledon,
Australian and French Open
finals in the same year.
Djokovic, who also won
Wimbledon in 2011, now has a
remarkable 47-3 record in 2015
and one more win would give
the reigning Australian Open
champion his second grand
slam of 2015.
It would also go a long way
to erasing the heartache of his
French Open final loss against
Stan Wawrinka last month — a
defeat that denied Djokovic the
only major title to elude him.
Watched by a royal box
packed with celebrities
including Thierry Henry, Alex
Ferguson and Bjorn Borg,
Djokovic once again showed
how tough he is to take down.
Gasquet ’s surprise run had
brought him back to the
Wimbledon last four for the
first time since 2007.
The 29-year-old, who was
bidding for a first major final,
caused one of the bigger upsets
in this year’s tournament when
he knocked out Wawrinka in
Djokovic had won 11 of his
12 previous meetings with
Gasquet and, despite the
Frenchman’s strong showing,
the top seed would eventually
cruise to victory No 12.
He seemed set for another
quick-fire win after breaking
in the opening game against
Unexpectedly, the Serb lapsed
into an error-strewn period that
left him visibly frustrated as
Gasquet began to take control.
Unfurling his majestic one-
handed backhand whenever
the opportunity arose, Gasquet
broke back and matched
Djokovic blow for blow all the
way to the tiebreak.
But the tenacious Serb
could not be subdued forever
and, raising his game at just
the right moment, he blitzed
Gasquet in the breaker with a
series of searing winners.
It was rough on Gasquet,
but despite making only five
unforced errors he found
himself a set down.
Djokovic kept the heat on
Gasquet at the start of the
second set, breaking with a
brilliant forehand that curled
cross-court past his stranded
Confidence was surging
through Djokovic now and he
somehow stretched to track
down a powerful Gasquet
forehand and turn it into an
blistering on-the-run winner.
Although Djokovic twice
called for treatment on his left
shoulder, an injury sustained
in a first set tumble, even that
impediment couldn’t stop him
easing to a two-set lead.
With another Wimbledon
showpiece in sight, Djokovic
turned the screw, c leverly
moving Gasquet into awkward
positions to induce the errors
that brought a decisive break
in the third game of the third
set. — AFP
Djokovic charges in to four th Wimbledon final
Novak Djokovic of Serbia stretches for the ball during his match against Richard Gasquet of France.
Watson under pressure after latest flop
Shane Watson is facing a battle to keep his
spot in the Australian side for next week’s
second test at Lord’s after failing once again
with the bat in Cardiff.
The stage was set for the enigmatic
all-rounder to play a career-defining knock
on the third day of the Ashes opener as the
tourists resumed on 264 for five, 166 runs
behind England’s first innings total of 430.
But any hopes of heroics from the 34-year-
old were dashed in only the second over,
when Stuart Broad trapped him on the
crease as he tried to play around his front pad,
having added just one run to his overnight
score of 29.
The raised index finger of Marais Erasmus
sent him on his way, but almost inevitably,
given Watson’s penchant for referring
decisions, up came the T-sign.
But with Hawkeye showing the ball would
have just clipped the top of leg stump,
third umpire Chris Gaffaney sealed his
fate making, it is the seventh time he has
unsuccessfully appealed an lbw decision
against England since DRS was brought in
six years ago.
It was also the 13th time since 2009 he has
been trapped in front of the stumps against
the old enemy.
Watson’s departure kick-started a collapse
by the Australian tail that saw the last five
wickets go down for 50 runs, with England
finishing an entertaining day all out for 289
in its second innings.
Michael Clarke’s side now need an Ashes
record fourth-innings chase of 412 for
It was Watson’s bowling ability that earned
him selection over the in-form Mitch Marsh,
who belted two centuries in warm-up games
against Kent and Essex.
But he was used for only 12 overs across the
two innings by Clarke after failing to make
any real impression.
Even if Watson makes a score when
Australia bats again, Marsh must come
in for serious consideration for an Ashes
debut, which could be the start of the end of
chequered 54-test career that has yielded just
four centuries. — A AP
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