Zimbabwe leading Pakistan by 185 runs

Three late wickets gave Pakistan renewed hope after Zimbabwe had played into a strong position on the third day of the second Test at Harare Sports Club on Thursday.

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A five-wicket haul by Brian Vitori and a century stand between Tino Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza put Zimbabwe on top before both partners and nightwatchman Tinashe Panyangara fell in the last three overs of the day.

Zimbabwe were 4-121 at the close, an overall lead of 185 on a wearing pitch which has made stroke play difficult for batsmen of both sides.

Left-arm fast bowler Vitori took five for 61 as Pakistan collapsed to 230 all out, losing their last six wickets for 19 runs and giving Zimbabwe a first innings lead of 64.

Stand-in opening batsman Prosper Utseya was caught at midwicket off Rahat Ali for five when Zimbabwe batted again with regular opener Vusi Sibanda feeling ill.

But Mawoyo and Masakadza added 104 for the second wicket with some of the most impressive batting of the match.

Mawoyo made 58 off 165 balls before he was trapped leg before wicket by left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman shortly before the close. Masakadza followed up his first innings of 75 with 44 before he, too, fell leg before, to left-arm fast bowler Rahat Ali.

Rehman, the most impressive of the Pakistan bowlers, claimed a second wicket in the last over of the day when Panyangara was caught at short leg. Rehman took two for 20 in 15.2 accurate overs.

Earlier, Pakistan were well-placed to overhaul Zimbabwe’s first innings total of 294 until Asad Shafiq was fifth man out shortly before lunch, bowled by Tendai Chatara with the total on 211.

The match swung dramatically in Zimbabwe’s favour after lunch when Younis Khan, the mainstay of their innings, clipped Panyangara to midwicket after making a patient 77 off 223 balls with nine fours.

Rehman was leg before wicket to Panyangara off the next ball and Vitori ripped out the last three batsmen to give Zimbabwe an important lead on a tricky pitch.

Only 48 runs were scored in 28 overs during the morning’s play for the loss of two wickets, while six further wickets fell while 49 runs were scored in 22.5 overs between lunch and tea. The scoring rate picked up slightly after tea as 91 runs were scored off 36.2 overs.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq made a laboured 33 off 120 balls before he fell victim to the second delivery with the second new ball shortly before the morning drinks break, caught at first slip off Vitori, pushing at a wide ball slanted away from him.

Nibali still leads, Kiryienka wins stage

Italian Vincenzo Nibali clung on to his narrow lead of the Tour of Spain after a gruelling 18th stage on Thursday.

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Sky’s Belarusian rider Vasil Kiryienka won the stage after breaking away at the end of the 186.5km ride from Burgos to Pena Cabarga that featured five categorised climbs, including a tricky final ascent.

Australian Adam Hansen was third on the stage, 1min 18sec down, while Chris Anker Sorensen of Denmark was second at 0:28.

Kiriyenka’s breakaway to the summit of Pena Cabarga almost cost Nibali his lead atop the general classification, now cut to just three seconds.

The Sicilian couldn’t respond to a push by the Katusha team in the final ascent, and then the attack by RadioShack’s 41-year-old American rider Chris Horner, who was sixth across the finish line.

Nibali, who finished 10th 25sec off Horner, also gave away time to Spaniards Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), now third in the overall standings at 1:10, and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), fourth at 2:24.

“Horner is very strong, it’s incredible what he’s doing at almost 42 years of age,” Nibali told Spanish television at the end of the race.

“Horner showed he’s one of the great pretenders for this Vuelta.”

Kiryienka, who bowed out of the Tour de France in July after missing the time cut on stage nine in the Pyrenees, was one of an initial 15-strong group to break away from the main peloton, and attacked in Alto del Caracol, 45km from the finish.

The 32-year-old arrived at the foot of the Pena Cabarga with 1:30 on his rivals and managed his ride-in to perfection.

Friday’s 19th stage sees the riders tackle 181km with the finish again at altitude, demanding a first-category climb to Alto del Naranco before tackling the infamous Alto de l’Angliru on Saturday’s stage.

Cane out to play own game againt Boks

The comparisons are inevitable, but All Blacks loose forward Sam Cane will concentrate on playing his own game against South Africa in Auckland on Saturday.

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The openside flanker has been called into the starting XV for the Rugby Championship clash as replacement for injured skipper Richie McCaw.

It will be the 21-year-old’s 10th cap, whereas McCaw was earning his 119th when he limped off with ligament damage in his left knee against Argentina last weekend.

“He’s the best in the world and he’s been the best for a long time,” Cane said of McCaw.

“It’s a big challenge, but it’s important I don’t go out there and try to play Richie’s game. I’ll just try and play my own game and be myself.”

Cane draws confidence from his heavy involvement in the All Blacks’ 3-0 sweep of France in June.

With McCaw away on a six-month break from rugby, Cane was on the field for all but the last eight minutes of the series.

“It’s a big help just knowing you can play at that level and you can play for 80,” he said.

“When the going gets tough, you just dig in.”

Cane’s inclusion is one of two changes to the All Blacks’ starting loose trio, with Chiefs teammate Liam Messam back from injury.

The pair join No.8 Kieran Read, who takes over from McCaw as captain.

Coach Steve Hansen has full confidence that Cane is ready for the job.

“He’s a good athlete and mentally he’s able to put things into perspective,” he said.

“It’s not easy coming in and following a guy like McCaw because you’re compared with him all the time.

Hansen echoed Cane’s view about doing things his way, but also said the loose forwards needed a platform from the front five.

English player considers challenge to FIFA transfer rules

English-born striker Joe Yoffe, 26, currently plying his trade in the Icelandic second division, is planning to challenge FIFA regulations that he says limits his freedom of movement and his ability to earn a living as a professional footballer.

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The Manchester-born player is facing an uncertain future as his contract runs out at the end of September and he will not be allowed to register for a new club until January.

Despite being able to sign for free as a Bosman player, clubs in some European countries cannot register him until their transfer windows open again in January – something Yoffe says limits his right to free movement of labour guaranteed under EU law.

Yoffe has played for lower league and semi-professional clubs in England, Spain, Canada, Australia and Ireland and says he is now considering a legal challenge to the transfer regulations to make it easier for players in his position to find new employers.

“It’s something I’ve thought seriously about and there’s a number of players in my position who should do the same,” Yoffe told Reuters, adding that he hoped legal action would not be necessary to enable him to sign for a new club

If he goes ahead with his challenge it could have the biggest impact on the transfer market since 1995 when Belgian journeyman Jean-Marc Bosman won a ruling from the European Court of Justice that banned transfer fees for players out of contract.

FIFA’s transfer rules also currently limit to two the number of clubs that players can represent in a calendar year, meaning that players such as Yoffe – who often sign for cash-strapped clubs on short-term contracts – face enforced spells on the sidelines as they wait to become eligible again.

VERY DIFFICULT

“Players at the top end of the game are so financially independent that it doesn’t really affect them,” Yoffe said in an interview at the windswept home ground of UMF Selfoss, an Icelandic second tier club based some 40 kilometers east of Reykjavik.

“But for those of us yet to reach that level, it’s very difficult.”

With 10 goals in as many games for Selfoss this season, he should be a hot property on the Scandinavian transfer market – had it not been for the existing rules.

“You come to the end of your contract and you can’t sign for three or four months for a new employer – there’s no other job out there where that would be the case,” he said.

Footballers in Scandinavian leagues, who play through their summer, often fall foul of these regulations and Magnus Erlingmark, general secretary of Swedish players’ union SFS, admitted it was difficult to safeguard the interest of all parties.

“We would like to reduce the limitations on working but then the clubs might also want to turn back the clock to the time before Bosman. It’s a difficult balance,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Erlingmark warned that decisions to change the regulations should not be made in haste, as relaxing the rules might lead to greater insecurity for players.

“It’s difficult when you can bring players in and out as one wishes – it might lead to even shorter contracts, so it needs to be looked at carefully,” he said.

“But in the widest possible sense, players who are out of contract should be allowed to sign for new clubs.”

MORE HEALTHY

The union boss declined to comment on whether international players’ union FIFPro might support Yoffe’s specific case, but said that it was something “worth looking at from an international perspective.”

Last month UEFA president Michel Platini bemoaned the treatment of players as commodities, describing the current transfer system as “robbery” and said that “something more healthy” was needed to replace it.

Despite the uncertainty of his situation, Yoffe said that he will continue playing professionally and that he hopes that his successful season at Selfoss will act as a springboard to a bigger Scandinavian club next year.

“The last couple of clubs I’ve been at have been a little bit cash-strapped, and it’s definitely made me consider whether to keep on playing the game at a professional level or to go into other employment,” he said.

“But there’s been enough good times to keep you going through the bad times. I want to be the best that I can, and you feel that you want to prove, not just to other people but to yourself too, that you can keep going and reach the level that you deserve.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Ainslie takes over as Oracle tactician

British four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie has replaced John Kostecki as Oracle’s tactician ahead of races six and seven in the 34th edition of the America’s Cup.

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American Kostecki is no longer mentioned among the crew list published on Thursday by the holders with Ainslie now listed as the team’s tactician.

The Briton had previously been second helmsman for the American team.

Kostecki, 49, has seemingly paid the price for Oracle’s tactical errors in losing four of five races to challengers Emirates Team New Zealand thus far.

The 36-year-old Ainslie, who has won three Olympic sailing golds in the Finn class as well as one in the Laser class, was on board Oracle’s AC72 catamaran during a training run on Wednesday, while Kostecki was nowhere to be seen.

Philippe Presti, the American team’s French coach, had indicated to AFP on Wednesday that some “surprises” could be expected when Oracle announced their team on Thursday morning.

Oracle elected to use its postponement card to delay Tuesday’s second scheduled race after the Americans were beaten convincingly by their Kiwi opponents in the fifth race of the best-of-17 contest.

Oracle won the start of Tuesday’s opening race and led the first two legs, but a bold attempt at a foiling tack saw them slow dramatically and they ultimately finished over a minute behind Team New Zealand.

The responsibility for the blunder, acknowledged by Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill, was attributed to Kostecki.

Oracle began the finals two points adrift after a pre-regatta penalty, and have won just one race, leaving them stuck on minus one and still needing 10 more wins to retain the Cup.