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Rayudu, allrounders take India to 252

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3:00 AM ET

India 252 (Rayudu 90, Pandya 45, Shankar 45, Henry 4-35, Boult 3-39) v New Zealand

India wanted to see how their batting goes under pressure when they decided to bat despite knowledge there was early moisture in the Wellington surface to be exploited. What they found out was not all pretty as New Zealand reprised World Cup 2015 once again to reduce India to 18 for 4 but the middle order rallied to take them to a total they could fight with. Under pressure, Ambati Rayudu led the revival with an innings of 90 that featured both seemingly dodgy defence and some sparkling stroke-play. Two allrounders played their part with 45s, Vijay Shankar off 64 balls to help rescue India and Hardik Pandya off 22 at the death. Now India had 252, which was 18 more than what England scored in the last ODI at Westpac Stadium. They won by four runs.

Readers from the US can watch the fifth ODI between New Zealand and India on ESPN+, by clicking here.

At the toss, stand-in captain Rohit Sharma seemed to have laid his batsmen the challenge of getting a par total in testing conditions. The first part of that challenge was for himself and Shikhar Dhawan. It will be fair to say the top order was undone by the movement. Rohit got a beauty that is not part of the curriculum in ODI cricket. A full ball from Matt Henry pitched around middle and off, Rohit played the original line, and then the ball moved late to go past his outside edge and knock back the off stump behind him. Five overs later, MS Dhoni got another brute: Trent Boult getting a really quick ball to move back in against the angle and hit the top of off.

In between, though, there were a couple of soft shots. Dhawan upper-cut Boult straight to third man, and Shubman Gill chipped one to square cover. This is the tricky part of the innings to judge. You want batsmen to buckle down when the ball is talking and is expected to quieten down after 15 overs or so, but you also dont want them to totally shut shop. It is possible Dhawan identified the short ball as his scoring option, but here Boult cramped him up and he couldnt get enough behind it. For the inexperienced Gill, after an early promising shot, the ball stopped a touch and lobbed up as he looked to drive on the up.

A repeat of the 92 all out couldnt have been ruled out at this point, but things were different here. The movement began to die unlike in Hamilton, but more importantly India had selected well for this match. Not only had they selected Shankar, an allrounder known to be more solid than spectacular with the bat, but they also promoted him to show exactly that.

In his 45 off 64, Shankar looked the best equipped of the Indian batsmen to negotiate the tough conditions. He let the ball move, played it late, and had the wherewithal to pick up risk-free singles. In the early stages of this 98-run partnership, Rayudu hardly scored at all. He is that kind of a batsman: tough to put in any bracket, not always free-flowing but capable of hitting at unusual times in unusual areas. Rayudu was 5 off 32 when he wafted at a Colin de Grandhomme delivery, but that didnt stop him from looking to hit in the air again in a short while. This six took him to 24 off 50, and India to 78 for 4 in 23 overs. At the other end, in what is a big credit to him, Shankar had inconspicuously scored 27 off 42.

Just as the partnership began to assume dangerous proportions, with New Zealand having left the spinners till too late, Shankar was run out. He hit towards long-on, Rayudu shouted no and waited for the ball to cross short midwicket, Shankar stood in the middle of the pitch, and then Rayudu made a belated surge towards the strikers end. Shankar sacrificed himself, and Rayudu proved him right with some imperious stroke-play later.

Rayudu was 44 off 81 when Shankar was run out in the 32nd over, but he now capitalised on some hard work done. New Zealand had to bowl some of the lesser bowlers to keep Boult and Henry for the end, and he cashed in, hitting de Grandhomme and Colin Munro to take 46 off the last 31 balls he faced. Just when he threatened to score the first hundred of the series, though, he ended up slicing Henry to sweeper cover. Henry followed it up with a lovely slower ball to dismiss Kedar Jadhav.

The depth in Indias batting shone, however. Pandya first ruined Todd Astles figures after he had done a stupendous job when bowling at the death. Before Pandya took him for a hat-trick of sixes for the fifth time in his international career Astle had bowled cleverly and conceded just 17 in 4.1 overs. Pandya, though, unleashed mayhem, hitting five sixes in all and two fours. One of those fours was perhaps his best shot. He dug out a near perfect yorker from James Neesham, but came down so hard on it he manufactured enough power on it to beat short third man. A catch just as spectacular one that should go in an already impressive highlight reel for Boult contained the damage and possibly denied India 10 more runs.

This article was originally published by Espncricinfo.com. Read the original article here.

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Punchy, cheeky, passionate: Eddie Jones masterplan rejuvenates England

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8:46 PM GMT

DUBLIN Mark this England victory down as the moment where Eddie Jones masterplan came together, where they laughed in the face of rugby logic and for one evening in a golden era of Irish rugby they asked questions of Joe Schmidts side that others have recently tried and failed to do.

A resurgent England upset Six Nations champions Ireland on Saturday, handing Joe Schmidt a first ever home defeat in the championship.

It was all going so well for France as they took a 16-0 lead into half-time. But a record-breaking comeback from Wales puts coach Warren Gatland on course to deliver on a bold prediction.

Winger Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick of tries and pivot Finn Russell provided decisive moments of genius as Scotland got their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start.

2 Related

You have to go back to the World Cup-winning days of 2003 and those ageless names of Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson to find an England performance to rival this. It was a match where everything came together as they brought physicality and a brilliant game plan to prevent Ireland from ever finding their stride. They were, simply, superb.

For Ireland, the likes of Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray will reflect on a game where they were never allowed space and had a wall of white constantly on their case. Ireland never found any momentum and were out-kicked. They never had a chance to turn it into an arm-wrestle or get a foothold. And England just kept the foot neatly pressed on Irelands throat and landed their game-winning punches.

This will make the rugby world sit up and take notice of Jones side once again but he will do his best to downplay expectation and talk of a game-to-game mentality. But the basic fact is that Ireland do not lose at home in the Six Nations, at least not under Schmidt. Last year they won the Grand Slam and dispatched the All Blacks. They were rising to what many thought would be one monumental crescendo to Japan and a potential World Cup triumph with the Six Nations already safely secured for the second year running. But England had a point to prove after their miserable fifth-placed finish last year and the ignominy of Ireland wrapping up that Grand Slam emphatically at Twickenham. They not only proved that point, they hammered it home with a four-try victory.

England travelled to Dublin as underdogs. Jones was painted by some in the build up as a poor mans Mourinho and a coach who had passed his sell-by date. Yet after this victory, he deflected any praise levelled in his direction in the post-match press conference onto the players and did his utmost to quieten any excitement about the World Cup in September. It was the old refrain of just focusing on the next task, with France arriving at Twickenham next Sunday. But away from public eyes, oh how hell enjoy this.

Jonny Sexton (far right) and his Ireland teammates try to comprehend a stunning 12-point defeat by England, their first loss at home in the Six Nations under coach Joe Schmidt.Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

This was a victory and performance in Jones image: punchy, cheeky, passionate, precise and ruthless. They had the outstanding Mako Vunipola at the heart of the win, but he was just one star performer among a huge cast. Billy Vunipola got through an almighty amount of work while Manu Tuilagi hunted anything and everything wearing green. Henry Slade came of age on the Test stage and England presented a multi-dimensional and layered attack mixing power and prowess that has not been seen in recent times.

It was the first Test where the Vunipola brothers and Tuilagi started together. My, how they clicked, constantly coming round the corner and hammering away. Kyle Sinckler looked in danger of spontaneously combusting such was the energy he brought to the Test. Tom Curry was a nuisance at the breakdown but will need to learn from his yellow card in the first half. Maro Itoje was also heroic and England will be keeping everything crossed that the knee injury that forced him off in the second half heals quickly.

In the backs Jack Nowell popped up all over the place, running through midfield and on the flanks and even packed down at openside when Curry was sin-binned. Jonny May did his job in scoring the opening try after two minutes England started irresistibly and also made the key contribution in kicking ahead smartly for Henry Slades first try of a late, match-clinching double.

And then there was Owen Farrell. In his first Test as sole captain of England, he led from the front and offered a calm, authoritative presence. His kicking game in tandem with Slade and Elliot Daly gave England a trio of playmakers, constantly pinning back Jacob Stockdale and Robbie Henshaw.

One of the games myriad subplots in the build-up was the battle of the two makeshift fullbacks with Henshaw and Daly both playing away from their usual positions. Daly did well, but while Henshaw is a wonderful centre, he needs to stay there rather than at 15. Elsewhere for Ireland, Bundee Aki never got a chance to get going, the half-backs didnt impose themselves on the game while England won the collisions and played with a heightened urgency which Schmidts side failed to match. The Ireland back-row were mere extras in this play, while Englands pack took the limelight.

Ireland will now lick their wounds and if Schmidt has a hairdryer, the players will likely be blasted with it. This wasnt part of the plan but such is the beauty of this competition, they have another four weekends to assign this game to an ugly corner of their recent rugby history.

Meanwhile, Englands Fortress Twickenham took a battering last year in the championship so next weeks match against France carries added importance. But while Jones was loathed to paint this Dublin win in any greater significance than a mere single victory, those World Cup foundations are appearing secure. England now must find a way to back this up next weekend and prove this is the norm, rather than the exception.

This article was originally published by Espn.co.uk. Read the original article here.

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Moraes submits Assuncao, then taunts Dillashaw

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10:38 PM ET

Marlon Moraes defeated Raphael Assuncao by submission in the first round Saturday at UFC Fight Night in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Moraes (22-5-1) dropped Assuncao with two big right hands and eventually locked in a guillotine choke, getting Assuncao to tap at the 3:17 mark.

With the win, Moraes is expected to be next in line for a title shot against 135-pound champion TJ Dillashaw.

One possible impediment to Moraes title shot is if UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo moves up for a chance at a second belt. Cejudo defeated Dillashaw by first-round TKO on Jan. 19 to retain his title and has been adamant about moving up in weight.

Saturdays fight was a rematch of UFC 212 in June 2017, when Assuncao won in a close split decision.

Moraes has now won four fights in a row, while Assuncaos (27-6-0) four-fight winning streak was snapped.

This article was originally published by Espn.com. Read the original article here.

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Lopez continues takeover, pummels Magdaleno

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1:36 AM ET

FRISCO, Texas Lightweight Teofimo Lopez Jr., the dynamic 2018 ESPN prospect of the year, continued on Saturday night what he calls his takeover and his insistence that he will win a world title this year.

Lopez destroyed former lightweight and junior lightweight world title challenger Diego Magdaleno by seventh-round knockout in the Eleider Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev II co-feature at the Ford Center at the Star, the training facility of the Dallas Cowboys.

Final punch stats

Fighter

Total

Jabs

Power

Lopez

119 of 329 (36%)

4 of 106 (4%)

115 of 223 (56%)

Magdaleno

44 of 259 (17%)

7 of 88 (8%)

37 of 171 (22%)

Courtesy of CompuBox

Lopez, a 2016 Olympian for his parents home country of Honduras, went into the seventh round for the first time but had no problems handling the far more experienced Magdaleno and set himself up for a fight on April 20 on the undercard of the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan ESPN PPV card.

Lopez (12-0, 10 KOs), 21, of Las Vegas, was coming off a sensational 44-second, one-punch knockout of Mason Menard on Dec. 8 on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza undercard in New York, and vowed that he would win a world title in 2019. It remains to be seen if he will get that opportunity, but he continued to impress.

I learned something new. We learned there are going to be tough fighters, Lopez said. I didnt have to throw every second. We were picking our shots. Every time I picked I landed. He wanted to go toe to toe. No, were going to be smart about it. I felt like a champ. Thats how I feel.

After controlling the first round, Lopez forced Magdaleno back with several heavy shots just before the bell.

Oscar Valdez defeated Carmine Tommasone by TKO with a beautiful right uppercut, and Richard Commey earned a bout with lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko with a stoppage victory over Isa Chaniev.

Magdaleno got in his face after the round and jawed at him but that was about all he had to offer. Lopez pounded him throughout the second round. He hurt him with a right uppercut, cut him on the bridge of the nose and rocked him repeatedly with combinations to the head and body.

In the final seconds of the sixth round, Lopez landed a powerful left to the head for a knockdown but couldnt follow up in a meaningful way because the round ended. But Lopez continued to pound Magdaleno (31-3, 13 KOs), 32, of Las Vegas, in the seventh before landing two flush left hooks to the head that flattened him.

Magdaleno, whose only previous losses came in world-title fights, was out of it, but referee Gregorio Alvarez administered the full 10-count before waving it off at 1 minute, 8 seconds, after which Lopez did his traditional back flip, then taunted Magdaleno as he was down.

Top Rank wanted Lopez to get experience against a southpaw because he has designs on eventually facing unified lightweight champion and pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is also left-handed. Lopez says he feels he is ready now to fight for a world title.

Teofimo Lopez, whether you hate him or you like him, youre still going to watch him, Lopez said. I perform each every performance. What Im doing right now is entertaining. 2019, were ready right now [to fight for a world title]. We have to work in the gym. Theres always room for perfection.

This article was originally published by Espn.com. Read the original article here.

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Eagles Long named Walter Payton Man of Year

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7:34 PM ET

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year on Saturday for his activities off the field.

Long donated the entire amount of his first four game checks to fund his First Quarter for Literacy program, which gives free books and mentoring services to families.

Long also said he would match donations up to $25,000 from any opponent who wanted to donate.

In addition to the award, the NFL will donate $250,000 to the The Chris Long Foundation, which includes programs focusing on clean water, military appreciation, homelessness and youth.

This article was originally published by Espn.com. Read the original article here.

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