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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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Limo shortage feared in Atlanta on SB weekend

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9:14 PM ET

Associated Press

ATLANTA Limousine companies are blaming the state of Georgia for leaving them 300 to 400 vehicles short of whats needed to transport NFL owners, corporate clients and others this Super Bowl weekend.

Amy Patterson, vice president of operations and logistics with Atlantas Super Bowl Host Committee, said in a letter to Georgias public safety commissioner that she fears this will become a viral news story and a black eye for the state.

Brady, Belichick and Gronk. Gurley, McVay and Goff. There are plenty of stars who could wreck Super Bowl LIII. Bill Barnwell covers every angle.

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State law bars out-of-state limousines that arent insured and registered in Georgia. Limousine firms say they should get an exemption for special events such as the Super Bowl. The states public safety chief says he wont allow it.

The concerns were first reported by Atlantas Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV.

We are begging Gov. [Brian] Kemp to step in and protect the people of Atlanta, the people of Georgia, the people coming in from out of town to allow us to safely handle their transportation, said Jeff Greene, president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association. Greene calls the situation extremely, extremely urgent.

Kemp said hes leaving it up to Georgias Department of Public Safety commissioner, Col. Mark McDonough, and the colonel says he wont bend.

McDonough said the law is needed for public safety, noting that chauffeured vehicles have been involved in deadly accidents.

Theyre basically asking the colonel of state patrol to set aside state law. Thats kind of brash, McDonough told WAGA-TV. Thats not something Im going to give permission to do.

Watch: Manning on Tom Brady Watch: Manning on Jared Goff More episodes on ESPN+: Full series

Greene said limousine firms were allowed to use out-of-state vehicles to handle the crush of VIPs during the 1996 Olympic Games and the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. But McDonough said he cant find written proof that was allowed to happen.

The situation is between the limousine companies and the state, a representative of the Super Bowl Host Committee said in a Friday email to The Associated Press.

In a separate email to the AP, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesman Heather Kirksey said, We arent aware of a transportation shortage.

But limousine company owner Fred Rich said, Were going to have to break major contracts.

Were going to have to tell major, major corporate clients we cant handle their VIP travelers, Rich said.

Authorities have been urging everyone else to use public transportation.

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

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Sabres place Elie on waivers; Leafs cut Marincin

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5:18 PM ET

Associated Press

The Buffalo Sabres have placed underperforming forward Remi Elie on waivers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs pared their defensive depth by waiving Martin Marincin.

The Sabres announced the move Saturday, while a person familiar with the Maple Leafs decision told The Associated Press about Marincin.

Elie was placed on waivers for demotion to the minors a day after playing a team-low nine shifts in a 7-3 loss to Chicago. He played his second consecutive game after being a healthy scratch in Buffalos previous seven.

Elie has one assist in 16 games since being waived by Dallas and claimed by the Sabres on Oct. 2.

Marincin becomes the odd man out after Toronto acquired defenseman Jake Muzzin in a trade with Los Angeles on Monday. The sixth-year player has two assists in 10 games this season and will be assigned to the minors should he go unclaimed.

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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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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