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Plunkett To The Rescue!

 

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Liam Plunkett’s late cameo helped England secure a thrilling tie in the first one-day international against Sri Lanka

 

Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett hit a last ball six to ensure that England’s one-day series with Sri Lanka ended up in a thrilling tie. England in the one-day format are under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan. In the last 15 months much has been made of the Three Lions’ attacking approach, England were hoping to carry on their winning momentum from the test matches into the one-day series.

Winning the toss, home captain Morgan opted to field. The decision seemed justified as Dhanushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, and Kusal Mendis were all back in the pavilion before the score reached 100. Those early dismissals brought Sri Lanka’s experienced duo of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Matthews to the crease.

The pair put on a watchful stand of 64, the main reason for that was due to the brilliant and well-disciplined bowling of the ever improving Adil Rashid,who bowled quite wonderfully in his 10 overs.

Adil’s superb bowling was putting pressure on the Sri Lankan’s to up the scoring and that helped break the partnership. Moeen Ali was able to profit from Chandimal’s impatience as the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper was well caught by Chris Woakes. The tourists were still in trouble at 120-4.

When Prasanna came into the crease, he was able to add much-needed impetus to the Sri Lanka innings. The Sri Lankan clubbed 59 off just 28 deliveries, which was exactly what the tourists scorecard needed, but when Prasanna was out off the bowling of Chris Woakes, Upul Tharanga also was dismissed very soon after.

A collapse seemed on the cards which has happened far too often this summer in the Sri Lanka batting line-up. Thankfully for Sri Lanka Shanaka and Farveez Maharoof were able to help get the Asian side’s score up to 286-9 in their 50 overs.

On a pitch that seemed like it was giving some assistance to batsmen, Sri Lanka seemed to be about 15-20 runs short. What happened next in this match I don’t think anyone saw this coming, if anyone. England got their run chase off to a disastrous start.

The usually reliable England to order crumbled, Alex Hales,Jason Roy and Joe Root were all back in the hut before the score had got to 20. Outcome Bairstow next, the man who had been England’s saviour in the test series, but even he didn’t really trouble the scorers as the Yorkshireman was out for three.

It was left to Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler to recover the situation, but when Morgan was the fifth man out with the score not even getting over 100, an absolute mauling for England was on the cards.

Thankfully for England in the one-day format, they have been able to call on Jos Buttler and yet again the wicketkeeper-batsmen produced the goods. After Moeen Ali’s fell in quick succession to his captain’s, it was left to Chris Woakes and Buttler to drag the hosts back into the game.

The seventh wicket pair brilliantly put on 138 for the seventh wicket to drag England right back into contention. Sadly for England disaster struck as Joss Buttler holed out and was excellently caught on the long off boundary by Dasun Shanaka. David Willey was the next batsmen in.
Yorkshire all-rounder Willey has impressed with the bat over the years, but sadly in this game, the 24-year old struggled to make an impression. David Willey was duly put out of his misery and was dismissed for just seven.

At this point, Sri Lanka were firmly in the box seat, but what was about to happen next I am sure not even the most optimistic of England fan would have saw coming. The hosts England were needing 15 an over, which with the greatest respect to England seemed near impossible, but cometh the hour cometh the man.

That man on this occasion was Liam Plunkett. The Yorkshire all-rounder has been in good form with the bat this year and the 29-year old took his good form on to the international stage for England. The Three Lions thanks to lusty blows from Plunkett were able to tie a game that they seemed almost certain to lose.

The tie was secured with a six off the last ball, this was only the eighth time in England’s one-day international history that they had a tied a match. The second one day international between the two sides will be on Friday in Bristol.

Dan The Man For England

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A last-gasp Daniel Sturridge goal helped England get their Euro 2016 campaign back on track as The Three Lions edged out Wales 2-1 in a game that was dubbed ‘the battle of Britain’. England came into this game knowing that one result was only really going to suffice, victory.

For football fans from the UK, much build-up wouldn’t have been needed for this game, but with Slovakia defeating Russia yesterday the pressure on England to win grew even more.

Coming into the game Wales who impressively beat Slovakia in the last game after being pegged back, made two changes to their side. Jonny Williams and Dave Edwards made way for Hal Robson-Kane and Joe Ledley respectfully.

As for England,their team showed no changes in a match that anything other than a win would see the Three Lions all but knocked out of the tournament. The match itself in the early stages after quite a big build up, disappointed as England struggled to assert themselves in the game and Wales were looking a little nervous.

The 1996 semi-finalists were lacking a cutting edge and an end product for all their possession they were having. Raheem Sterling though however, who was later taken off had a glorious chance to put his side in front after skying over when well place to convert Adam Lallana’s centre.

That miss, though, however, wasn’t going to be costly for the English. There was a scare for England before hand as Wales’ star player Gareth Bale opened the scoring with a stunner of a free-kick.

Just like in the Slovakia game, England goalkeeper Joe Hart’s positioning was questionable as a free-kick from some 40 yards shouldn’t be really finding the back of the net.

England were no doubt a bit rattled, manager Roy Hodgson who has a wealth of experience, really needed to draw upon that now as his side were staring down the barrel.

Roy’s men were in need of a good team talk, some might even say a ‘Carlsberg team-talk’. One thing was for certain if the score stayed the same England would have been all but out of the tournament.

If you are of the England persuasion, however, you would be happy in the knowledge that didn’t happen. Knowing England needed to change the momentum of the game. Hodgson made what would turn out to be two very inspirational substitutions.

In the first-half Wales’ back three weren’t tested enough, but with the introduction of subs Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy, England had more pace in the side and were eventually starting to ask questions of the Welsh backline.

Sturridge, in particular, seemed to make his intent clear, he wanted to be more direct. Although the Liverpool man saw a few speculative efforts go well over the bar initially, the former Manchester City and Chelsea would make go on to make a key contribution in the end.

Fellow sub-Jamie Vardy would help get England back into the game by scrambling in an equaliser. That goal was the least England deserved at that point, from that point onwards there only looked to be one winner, England.

Wales who hadn’t offered much going forward were in need of a firm rearguard to keep out the wave after wave of England attacks. The Welsh were getting deeper and deeper in their own half after the England attacks intensified.

An England winner looked inevitable and the winner duly came from the boot of Daniel Sturridge, in the 92nd minute. From sadness, the English fans were ecstatic as their team pulled off a dramatic injury time win.

Quite a different story from the Russia game, what a difference a week makes.

The A Team

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Four time champions Australia reached a new level of supremacy with a convincing seven wicket win over arch rivals New Zealand, in the cricket world cup final. The success on home soil for Australia means that they have won cricket’s top prize on five separate occasions.

The fitting tribute for the Australian captain Michael Clarke some may say, Clarke a few days earlier stated that this tournament will be his last as he is set to retire. Another factor which makes the world cup win all that more special for the Aussies is that of the sad passing of Phil Hughes earlier this year.

Hughes the 26 year old who rose to stardom by hitting successive centuries earlier in his career, sadly lost his life after never regaining consciousness after being hit by a bouncer in Sydney – many of Australia’s players have said that they want to win the world cup in his honour .

Emotionally there was something riding on this game for New Zealand and Daniel Vettori. Thirty six year old Vettori who has been a brilliant servant for the New Zealand game is rumoured to be retiring from one day internationals, after the world cup – so Vettori will no doubt be wanting to go out on a high note. The left arm spinner was captain of the national side from 2007-2011 – and would have looking to be a leader in the bowling department for New Zealand here.

This eagerly anticipated clash between the two Tasman rivals saw New Zealand play away from home for the first time in the tournament. The Kiwis who have won all their games in their run to the final, included Matt Henry for the injured Adam Milne.

Australia came into this one unchanged – and with the run they’re on why change?

In the build up to this match much was made of winning the toss and batting first. The visitors New Zealand won the toss and batted first – but that decision very quickly seemed to be the wrong one.

The Kiwis were no doubt looking to put runs on the board to defend like they did in the quarter final against West Indies, however in this game the Black Caps were blown away.

Brendan McCullum so often the slayer of attacks this time departed for a three ball duck, the New Zealand captain sadly wasn’t able to produce the innings which blew the South African attack away in the semi- finals.

If the quarter final against West Indies is to go by, that didn’t matter – but unfortunately for the Kiwis Kane Williamson and Martin Guptil departed soon after their captain did. Those dismissals brought semi final hero Grant Elliott and the experienced Ross Taylor to the crease.

Elliott and Taylor after the early carnage were charged with rebuilding the New Zealand innings – and that they did, all be it in painstaking fashion. The fourth wicket pair put on 111 – and the platform looked set for the Kiwis’ power hitters such as Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi.

Sadly though for New Zealand the end of that fourth wicket partnership sparked a massive collapse as seven wickets fell for 33 runs. The Kiwis after that batting collapse crumbled to 183 all out.

Before the game the Melbourne pitch was adjudged to be a batters paradise – but in the end the MCG was anything but. The pace and bounce was just to much for the Black Caps to deal with as Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner took three wickets apiece.

Australia's players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Australia’s players hold the trophy aloft as they celebrate their fiffth world cup success.

Any hopes of the rematch of the two Tasman rivals being a low scoring thriller like the match in the group stages were dashed very quickly. Although New Zealand’s bowler of the tournament – and maybe the bowler of the tournament Trent Boult had Aaron Finch caught and bowled for two, you felt the Aussies had enough quality in their batting to knock the runs off.

Finch’s opening partner David Warner was able to make a near run a ball 45 – but even when Warner was second out with the score on 63, the winning line seemed near. The dismissal of the Aussie opener brought Australia’s captain Michael Clarke and maybe the person to replace him as captain – Steven Smith.

Although they may have started off slowly Smith and Clarke improved their scoring. In particular Michael Clarke seized upon on anything short and with some brilliant drives and lovely cut shots – the stage seemed set for Australia’s captain to guide them home.

However there was time for New Zealand to take one more wicket – and it was that of Michael Clarke. The Australian captain was bowled by Matt Henry with just nine needed, that wicket was prolonging the inevitable -and the inevitable duly came as Steven Smith who hit a record fifth consecutive fifty, pulled Henry to hit the winning runs.

Bradford Vs Sunderland FA Cup Team News

Bradford can call on their talisman Billy Clarke for this one. Clarke and Filipe Morais will have to be at their best to help Bradford beat premier League Sunderland.

Bradford can call on their talisman Billy Clarke for this one. Clarke and Filipe Morais will have to be at their best to help Bradford beat premier League Sunderland.

FA Cup Fifth Round
Venue: Coral Windows Stadium
Kick Off: 14:30 GMT
Date : Sunday 15th February

In an FA Cup so far full of shocks, both teams will be fancying their chances in this years FA Cup. Bradford who enjoyed a famous FA Cup win over Chelsea, will be no doubt be not fearing any team – after beating the best team in England at the moment.

Sunderland who beat Fulham in the last round through a replay, like Bradford have been to a cup final in recent years and will not fear anyone – but this challenge for the Black Cats is different as this is a game the Premiership will be expected to win.

Bradford Team News

Bradford who last time out defeated League One high flyers will be looking for the same kind of battling spirit here. The Bantams who started the influential Billy Clarke in the win over Mk Dons could have the 27 year old in the starting line up for this match as well.On loan Sunderland goal keeper Jordan Pickford is unavailable because of the loan agreement with parent club Sunderland.

Bantams boss Phil Parkinson has no fresh injury worries for this one. Mark Yates who also scored in that famous FA Cup win over the Blues is available .

Sunderland Team News

The Black Cats who suffered the embarrassment of being the first home side to lose to QPR in the Premier League have a few injuries to worry about. Former skipper Lee Catermole (Knee) and Emanuelle Giacherrini (Ankle) both miss out – but former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Jack Rodwell is available again after serving a suspension and having a groin injury.

Apart from that the Premier League side are at all full strength and will be looking to likes Jermaine Defoe and Adam Johnson to inspire them to an FA Cup win here.

Our Verdict

In a competition filled with shocks – calling this game would be very difficult. I very confidently predicted a 2-0 win for Chelsea in the previous round – but I was proven wrong. This match although there is a case of Bradford being two divisions lower, I don’t think that would make a difference.

Bradford throughout this tournament and in League One this year have played with a lot of spirit. The win against Chelsea and Mk Dons a promotion rival, shows this team know how to raise their game for the big occasion.

That fact has also concerned Sunderland boss Gus Poyet who ‘offered’ to have this FA Cup tie moved to Sunderland’s Stadium Of Light, which maybe suggest Poyet is worried about his team getting knocked out by a lower league opposition. The outspoken Black Cats manager also suggested that his players should ‘pass the ball forwards’ otherwise they ‘won’t be picked’ .

Mind games you might think – but Gus if it is an attempt of mind games, leave it to the experts (Jose Mouriniho). The Black Cats who enjoyed a good cup run in last years League Cup will not be under as much pressure here – but a ‘favourable draw’ so far might add a bit more pressure now considering some of the big teams who have already exited the competition.

Players like Jermaine Defoe and Adam Johnson will be key for Sunderland – but I don’t see the toughness around the rest of the squad that’s needed for a game like this. The black Cats have been embarrassed 8-0 this year by Southampton – and the defensive fragility was the main reason for that.

It could be argued that the Premier League side have got better defensively since that defeat – but with the intense atmosphere of Valley Parade and the fact that Bradford beat the best team in the land this year (Chelsea) , the Black Cats will have far from an easy ride at Valley Parade.

The match it self I think will be full of goals – but Bradford will come out on top here.

Bradford 3-2 Sunderland

Not Even The Hoff Could Save Millwall as Huddersfield Take Back All Three Points To Yorkshire

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan sealed an impressive win for Huddersfield as the Terriers sealed an impressive 3-1 at Millwall

Huddersfield striker James Vaughan scored for Huddersfield as the Terriers sealed an impressive 3-1 win at Millwall

A Nakhi Wells red card made little difference as West Yorkshire side Huddersfield Town claimed all three points against Millwall.

The hosts have had a very disappointing season and have found themselves occupying the relegation places for pretty much all of the season. Stefan Maierhoffer started upfront for the hosts, with Ricardo Fuller only on the bench. Magaye Gueye also starts for the hosts.

The visitors Huddersfield who have been inconsistent this year had their three ‘big guns’ available with Nakhi Wells, James Vaughan and Jacob Butterfield all starting for the visitors.

Knowing that the majority of the teams around them lost, this was a great chance for Millwall to take advantage – but they didn’t and couldn’t take advantage of the slip ups of the teams around them.

Huddersfield who are very much in mid table,to demonstrate their inconsistencies were brilliant in this game. After the match had finished Town boss Chris Powell described the performance as “the best since I have been here”.

It all could have been different if Stefan Meierhoffer’s hadn’t hit the post. That miss proved costly as Sean Scannell opened the scoring for the visitors. Right after the goal Huddersfield looked to press home their advantage – but they were unable to. That proved costly as Maierhoffer did eventually score from close range.

The remainder of the first half remained all square – but it was five minutes after the restart where the match would be turned on it’s head. Striker Nakhi Wells was sent off after receiving a second yellow after committing a bad foul.

Instead of galvanising the home side, it was actually the visitors who were given the lift. Jacob Butterfield got the crucial goal with a brilliant effort outside the box which enabled Huddersfield to retake the lead.

With Millwall having the man advantage, they surely needed to push for the equaliser -but it was Huddersfield who struck again. The Lions left themselves exposed which allowed Harry Bunn to draw a foul in the penalty area which left the referee no choice – but to point to the penalty spot.

The penalty was duly dispatched by James Vaughan which ended the game as a contest. There was no further goals as Huddersfield ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.

Millwall will reflect on this game and no doubt see this match as an opportunity missed to close the gap on the teams above them. As it now stands however The Lions are firmly in a relegation battle. Huddersfield on the other hand might be able to start to look up the table, this win takes the Terriers up to 14th in the table, 13 points off the playoffs.