Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

The United States returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion to kick-start their bid for Olympic glory, while Barbra Banda tied a Games record with a second successive hat-trick for Zambia.

Sweden had sensationally put an end to USA's 44-match unbeaten streak at the start of the women's tournament, with Megan Rapinoe admitting the beaten world champions had "played a bit tight" in a 3-0 defeat.

However, Vlatko Andonovski's side responded impressively to that setback on Saturday, thrashing New Zealand 6-1 in Saitama, in the process registering their largest margin of victory in an Olympics fixture.

Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan gave USA a 2-0 half-time lead, the latter on target to mark her 100th cap. Further efforts from Christen Press and Alex Morgan added to the score after the break, while they were helped out by their opponents scoring two own goals.

It is the Swedes who sit on top of the table, though, as a strong second-half performance sealed a 4-2 triumph against Australia.

Meanwhile, Banda equalled the record for most goals scored by a woman at a single Olympics, matching Christine Sinclair's tally of six for Canada at London 2012 with another treble, this time against China.

Zambia's captain scored all her country's goals in a 10-3 loss to the Netherlands in their Group F opener. She followed up with three more in a thrilling 4-4 draw on Saturday, though China's Wang Shuang went one better as she hit four in a see-saw contest.

Vivianne Miedema later moved level with Banda on six goals at this Olympics. The forward had scored four as the Dutch crushed Zambia, then managed another two in a 3-3 draw against Brazil.

Ellen White continued her impressive start to the tournament with the winner as Great Britain defeated hosts Japan 1-0 to qualify for the last eight.

Having scored twice in the opening 2-0 win over Chile, White made it 13 goals in her past 14 international outings when heading in a cross from Lucy Bronze in the 74th minute.

Also in Group E, Canada overcame Chile 2-1 thanks to a brace from Janine Beckie, putting them second in the standings ahead of a clash with Team GB to finish the round-robin stage.

Manchester United certainly can't be accused of standing still this year. A day after sealing the signing of Jadon Sancho, they confirmed a new contract for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer until at least 2024.

But there's still plenty to press on with for Solskjaer and United. While the signing of Sancho addresses one area that has been a problem in recent years, it appears there are still two glaring weaknesses in the first-choice starting XI.

It would seem United have identified the man to take care of one of them, with Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane reportedly set to bolster their defensive options. In one sense it will have been a signing long in the making, given the club were supposedly close to buying him from Lens as a teenager only for Los Blancos to get the deal over the line in the end.

Although it took Varane a little time to truly establish himself at the Santiago Bernabeu, he's gone on to enjoy a hugely successful time in the Spanish capital, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns, among a host of other trophies.

Below, Stats Perform delves into the Opta data to see how Varane might improve United and where else they could do with reinforcements.

Physical dominance is the key

There are some obvious strengths that Varane would bring to United at the back – chief among them is his pace, which they arguably don't have a great deal of at centre-back.

While Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire may not be considered painfully slow, neither boasts the same kind of speed as the Frenchman and that would undoubtedly be a considerable asset for United.

Recent reports have suggested Solskjaer wants to play more attack-minded football in 2021-22, and having a faster centre-back could be crucial in that sense.

In theory, it would allow United to play slightly higher up the pitch. While they didn't exactly defend deep in 2020-21, their average starting position of 42.3 metres from their own goal was deeper than six other teams – Varane's pace could potentially provide them with a little more security in a high line.

In terms of possession, there's not a great deal separating Varane and Lindelof, the man whose position is surely in doubt. The Sweden international averaged fractionally more successful passes (58.1 to 55.9) and accurate passes in the opposing half (17.81 to 17.77) per 90 minutes last season, but that could be a reflection of slightly differing styles of play implemented by the teams rather than ability.

Opta sequence data suggests they are similar as well. While Lindelof (14) may have been involved in four more goal-ending passing sequences, the expected goals (xG) value attached to Varane in those instances is actually higher (8.9 to 8.8), meaning the current United man's influence is likely being exaggerated by particularly good finishing from his team-mates.

Even their ball carrying tendencies aren't hugely different, though Lindelof does boast a greater average carry distance of 11.3m to 10.9m, while his average progress up the pitch of 5.7m is a minor improvement on the 5.4m posted by the Madrid man.

But it could be argued United don't need their right-sided centre-back to be forward-thinking all the time because that's one of Maguire's key strengths. If anything, having a dependable partner could allow for their captain to have even greater prominence going forward, as he may feel more relaxed about stepping up with better protection behind.

And that's where Varane could really shine as an upgrade on Lindelof. The Swede's effectiveness in physical duels has been routinely questioned since he joined from Benfica in 2017 – a prime example being when Mbaye Diagne bullied him as West Brom scored in their 1-1 draw with United in February.

While it's impossible to guarantee Varane wouldn't have also been dominated in that instance, he does have a better record in situations where physicality is important. In 2020-21, he won 2.4 aerial duels per game across all competitions compared to Lindelof's 1.8.

That equates to a 72.3 per cent success rate for Varane, as opposed to 59.4 for Lindelof. In fact, Maguire – the most dominant defender in that respect in the Premier League last season (100 duels or more) – only marginally edges the World Cup winner (72.9 per cent).

But when we broaden the comparison to encompass all duels, Varane comes out on top among all three of them (66.5 per cent). Maguire wins 63.8 per cent of those contests, whereas that drops to 53.1 per cent for Lindelof.

United fans have been crying out for a more physically dominant defender to partner Maguire, and in Varane they may have identified a centre-back to rival him in those stakes.

Is the Fred-McTominay axis necessary?

Centre-back certainly isn't the only area United fans would be eager to see an upgrade – there's little doubt they have room for growth in midfield, regardless of whether or not Paul Pogba leaves.

The Frenchman actually featured more from the left during the second half of 2020-21 and looked more comfortable out there with some creative freedom, rather than sitting behind Bruno Fernandes in the middle.

That meant Fred and Scott McTominay were, more often than not, the first-choice pairing at the base of the midfield.

Now, it must be said that both players have clearly improved significantly over the past couple of years and they do offer a lot to United in certain areas.

For instance, in the Premier League in 2020-21, Fred won possession more often than any other United player (228) and his 81 tackle attempts were only bettered by Aaron Wan-Bissaka (88). McTominay ranked fourth for tackles (51) and joint-second for fouls won (42), which speaks to his improved ability on the ball as well as a knack for relieving defensive pressure in transition.

But neither are particularly creative. Fred laid on 25 key passes with an expected assists (xA) value of 2.1, while McTominay created 17 chances that combined to an xA total of 0.7.

Of course, you can't expect every outfield player to offer creativity. In many cases a player's productivity – or lack of – is intrinsically linked to the role they're playing or system they're part of, and Fernandes has done a lot of the heavy lifting. But United are a side who generally have more of the ball than their opponents – do they need two 'destroyers'?

If Solskjaer is to implement a more forward-thinking setup in 2021-22, he would be wise to finally ditch the Fred-McTominay axis. More often than not, it comes across as extremely conservative.

But the caveat to that is Solskjaer's rather limited options. Donny van de Beek endured a pretty dreadful first season as he showed very little authority whenever he played, Pogba was more useful towards the left so his lack of work rate off the ball wasn't exposed, and Nemanja Matic just isn't athletic enough anymore even if he is still a talented ball-player.

Pressure now on Ole

Who's to say if another midfielder, Varane and Sancho will be enough to overthrow Manchester City while also holding off a Liverpool side who promise to be back with a vengeance and defending European champions Chelsea.

But such decisive addressing of the team's weak points should at least give Solskjaer the right tools to work with. It'll then be on him to prove conclusively he's the right man for the job, because further under-achieving with such a strong squad won't be tolerated for long, regardless of his new contract.

Jose Mourinho was sacked less than a year after signing his renewal in January 2018.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Solskjaer's United finished as runners-up to Manchester City in the 2020-21 Premier League season and reached the final of the Europa League, losing 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal.

United confirmed the Norwegian's new deal contained an option for a further year.

Solskjaer said: "Everyone knows the feeling I have for this club, and I am delighted to have signed this new contract. It is an exciting time for Manchester United, we have built a squad with a good balance of youth and experienced players that are hungry for success.

"I have a fantastic coaching team around me, and we are all ready to take that next step on our journey. Manchester United wants to be winning the biggest and best trophies and that's what we are all striving for. We have improved, both on and off the pitch, and that will continue over the coming seasons.

"I can't wait to get out in front of a packed Old Trafford and get this campaign started."

Former United striker Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho on a caretaker basis in December 2018, after the Portuguese boss was sacked, and was handed the job on a permanent basis three months later.

He committed to a three-year deal at the time and has now signed up to stay at Old Trafford.

There is change afoot at the club, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward due to leave at the end of the year.

Woodward said Solskjaer had justified the club showing their faith in him with the extension.

"Ole and his staff have worked tirelessly putting the foundations in place for long-term success on the pitch," Woodward said.

"The results of that have become increasingly visible over the past two seasons and we are all looking forward to seeing this exciting team develop further in the years ahead.

"What is especially pleasing is the way this progress has been achieved with a blend of young, homegrown talent and top-class recruits, playing attacking football in the best traditions of Manchester United. We are more confident than ever that, under Ole's leadership, we are heading in the right direction."

Solskjaer has yet to win a trophy as boss of the Red Devils, or reach a major domestic cup final.

However, United have finished third and second in the league in his first two full seasons at the helm, guaranteeing lucrative Champions League income.

They finished five points ahead of third-placed Liverpool last term, losing just six of 38 domestic league games, albeit that was not enough to be competitive with City, who took the title by 12 points.

Their 2020-21 win percentage of 55.3 in the Premier League was the second highest United have achieved in a season since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in 2013, beaten only by the 65.8 per cent they managed under Mourinho when finishing second in the 2017-18 campaign.

The 73 league goals they scored was the highest United have tallied in the post-Ferguson era, with the team's 12 away wins in the top flight also the most they have mustered since the long-serving Scot stepped aside.

In fact, United have not lost away from Old Trafford in the Premier League since going down 2-0 to Liverpool in January 2020 – that is a run of 26 matches.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a new three-year contract, the Premier League club announced on Saturday.

Daniil Medvedev says it is a "joke" that players do not have longer at changeovers but will not "cry about the heat" after coming through his Tokyo 2020 opener, while Novak Djokovic started at a canter as he looks to add the next step of a Golden Slam.

Representing the Russian Olympic Committee, Medvedev appeared fatigued at times in his 6-4 7-6 (10-8) triumph over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The conditions in the Japanese capital were sweltering on Saturday but Novak Djokovic was able to keep his cool in coasting to a 6-2 6-2 win against Hugo Dellien.

MEDVEDEV CALLS FOR MORE TIME

Medvedev, who saved three of four break points and now has a 3-0 head-to-head record over Bublik, was pretty pointed about what he feels should be done about the heat.

"Like they do in Mexico, the matches maybe should start at six (pm) because the heat actually gets much, much lighter. We all try to practise at six," said Olympics debutant Medvedev, who next plays Sumit Nagal.

"The fact that we have only one minute between changeovers is a joke. If you ask, let's say 200 tennis players that are here, I think 195 will tell you that one minute is a joke. It should be 1:30.

"But you have to play, that's the Olympics, you go for the medal. You're not here to cry about the heat. It was really tough for both of us. We talked about this after the match on the court. It was unbelievably hot. But you need to get through it."

Fellow Russian athlete Aslan Karatsev (11) defeated Tommy Paul 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with Jeremy Chardy, while Lorenzo Sonego (13), Ugo Humbert (14), Fabio Fognini (15) and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (16) all progressed.

 

DJOKOVIC UP AND RUNNING

Since winning bronze in Beijing 13 years ago, Djokovic has not had the best of luck at the Olympics – losing in 2012 and 2016 to Juan Martin del Potro on both occasions.

But with a host of big hitters from the ATP absent – including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – Djokovic is the overwhelming favourite in Tokyo.

Only Steffi Graf in 1988 from either the WTA or ATP Tour has ever completed a sweep of all four slams and an Olympic gold in a calendar year, and Djokovic needs Olympic gold and victory at the US Open to match the feat.

He needed just 61 minutes here to beat Dellien of Bolivia.

MURRAY SCORES UPSET DOUBLES WIN

Andy Murray is the two-time defending men's singles champion in Tokyo, but struggles with injuries mean it would take a herculean effort to make it three in a row.

But he is also representing Great Britain in the doubles and together with Joe Salisbury upset French second seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 6-3 6-2 in their first time competing with one another.

Murray is not looking too far ahead, though, saying: "You take one match at a time, you know, so a lot of the players here are really motivated to play for their country. 

"This is such a rare opportunity for all of us and I think we all want to do well. So, yeah, just take it one match at a time."

Whatever the Boston Red Sox had in mind heading into Friday's showdown with Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees, it did not include their own starting pitcher leaving the game after recording just three outs.

Even after Eduardo Rodriguez was forced to leave the game in the second inning due to what the team described as migraine symptoms, the Red Sox had enough firepower to defeat their rivals 6-2 at Fenway Park.

After Rodriguez's unexpectedly early exit, Phillips Valdez stepped in to get out of a second-inning jam and strike out seven in three scoreless innings of relief on the day he was called up from the minor leagues.

Rafael Devers gave the home side the lead with a two-run homer off Cole in the fifth and added a three-run shot against Nestor Cortes in the seventh to put the game away. The latter was the 100th home run of Devers' career.

 

Mets blank Blue Jays

Pete Alonso accounted for all of the New York Mets' runs with a pair of homers and Tylor Megill had the best start of his career with six shutout innings in a 3-0 defeat of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Colorado Rockies picked up their 10th road win in 44 games away from Coors Field this season, rallying to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 as Charlie Blackmon had three hits incluing the extra-inning homer that sealed the victory.

Nelson Cruz homered in his first game after being traded to Tampa Bay and Ji-Man Choi's three-run homer in the ninth blew open a close game as the Rays beat the Cleveland Indians 10-5.

 

Rangers pounded again

Kolby Allard surrendered a three-run homer to Kyle Tucker to cap a five-run third inning for the Houston Astros that helped send the Texas Rangers to a 7-3 loss, their 10th consecutive defeat. The Rangers have been outscored 73-18 in that span and have not held a lead for 86 straight innings. According to Stats Perform, that drought is the longest since the Atlanta Braves went 96 innings without a lead in April and May 1977.

 

Brewers slam White Sox

In a matchup of NL and AL Central division leaders, the Milwaukee Brewers got a boost from Tyrone Taylor's seventh-inning grand slam to down the Chicago White Sox 7-1.

 

Friday's results

Chicago Cubs 8-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
Tampa Bay Rays 10-5 Cleveland Indians
Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Atlanta Braves
Boston Red Sox 6-2 New York Yankees
New York Mets 3-0 Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles 6-1 Washington Nationals
San Diego Padres 5-2 Miami Marlins
Cincinnati Reds 6-5 St Louis Cardinals
Kansas City Royals 5-3 Detroit Tigers
Minnesota Twins 5-4 Los Angeles Angels
Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 Chicago White Sox
Houston Astros 7-3 Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners 4-3 Oakland Athletics
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies 9-6 Los Angeles Dodgers

White Sox at Brewers

A pair of All-Star pitchers go head-to-head as Carlos Rodon and the Chicago White Sox (58-39) continue their series against Corbin Burnes and the Milwaukee Brewers (57-41).

The New Orleans Saints have long since enjoyed the benefit of continuity on offense in Sean Payton era, but in 2021 they will have to contend with some significant changes.

For the first time since the 2005 campaign, the Saints will begin a season with a quarterback not named Drew Brees as their starter.

Brees' retirement was regarded by some as overdue but, if his decision to ride off into the sunset was not viewed as a damaging one for New Orleans, the loss of the receiver with whom he had built a devastating rapport certainly is a significant blow.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported on Friday that Michael Thomas is expected to miss the start of the season having undergone ankle ligament surgery in June.

Thomas was limited to just seven games last year because of persistent ankle injuries and the procedure to fix those problems will, at least in the opening weeks, rob the Saints' 2021 starting quarterback of a two-time first-team All-Pro who has blossomed from 2016 second-round pick into one of the most dependable wideouts in the NFL.

Renowned for his route-running and his proficiency in making contested catches, Thomas produced at a historic level in 2019.

He broke the single-season receptions record with 149, racking up a career-high 1,725 receiving yards at an average of 107.8 per game.

Per Stats Perform data, Thomas registered a burn, which is when a receiver wins his matchup with a defender on a play where he is targeted regardless of whether the ball is catchable, on 76.1 per cent of his 184 targets.

That was the fourth-highest rate among wide receivers in the NFL. Only one player who finished above him, Corey Davis (69), had even 50 targets.

Thomas was tied for the second-most burn yards per route, trailing only Stefon Diggs (3.9) with an average of 3.6.

He got open on 83.2 per cent of his targets, though he did so with an average depth of target of 8.1 yards, illustrating the Saints' dependence on shorter passes in the latter stages of Brees' career.

Thomas will now miss out on the chance to quickly develop an even better understanding with the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, vying to be Brees' successor.

The frustration of that for the Saints will be two-fold. Winston's aggressiveness -- he was second in the NFL in air yards per attempt (10.7) in his last season as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019 -- could unlock Thomas' potential as a downfield receiver to a greater extent than Brees did.

Meanwhile, Thomas' dependability would be a significant aid to an interception-prone quarterback or to a passer in Hill whose only four pro starts came last season.

Instead of enjoying those possible benefits, with Thomas on the sideline, Payton and the Saints have the imposing challenge of maintaining their offensive consistency without a Hall of Fame quarterback and without their All-Pro wide receiver.

The Saints are used to life among the NFL's offensive elite, but with the two most important parts of the equation on that side of the ball out of the picture, at least for the start of 2021, they face being removed from the top table.

Sri Lanka claimed a much-needed victory in the third and final match of the ODI series against India, chasing down a revised target of 227 with three wickets to spare in Colombo.

Opener Avishka Fernando made 76 and, despite a late wobble, Sri Lanka sealed just their second victory in 11 completed 50-over fixtures, with this their first success since beating Bangladesh in late May.

A much-changed India had reached 147-3 before a lengthy rain break changed the complexion of the innings. Following the resumption, they lost their final seven wickets for 68 runs to be bowled out for 225.

Prithvi Shaw (49), debutant Sanju Samson (46) and Suryakumar Yadav (40) all made useful contributions, while Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama claimed three wickets apiece for the hosts.

Sri Lanka's reply included a maiden half-century in the one-day format for Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who reached the milestone with successive boundaries during a second-wicket partnership worth 109.

Krishnappa Gowtham - another new name included in the India XI - eventually ended the stand, dismissing Rajapaksa for 65 in his opening over, while the impressive Fernando departed for 76 with victory in sight.

Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka had departed for a first-ball duck too, but Ramesh Mendis' unbeaten 15 saw the hosts across the line with 48 balls remaining.


Fresh faces for India

India had the chance to equal their record for most consecutive ODI victories against Sri Lanka, having gone into the contest on a five-match winning streak. However, a side featuring no fewer than five debutants was unable to seal a sweep.

Still, wicketkeeper-batsman Samson impressed in a run-a-ball innings that included five fours and a six, while fellow new faces Chetan Sakariya and Rahul Chahar both claimed two wickets.

Moving on up

This result was timely for Sri Lanka – and not just because of their recent wretched run of form in the white-ball format.

They sat second from bottom in the ICC's Cricket World Cup Super League prior to the game, with only Zimbabwe below them in the standings. This win lifts them one place, above the Netherlands, as they battle to qualify for the 2023 50-over tournament, which will be held in India.

Jeongeun Lee6 enjoyed a remarkable round on day two of the Evian Championship as she recorded a 10-under-61 to equal the record for the lowest round ever played at a major by a man or woman to hold the lead heading into the weekend.

Previously, Lee6's South Korean compatriot Kim Hyo-joo was the sole holder of the record, having shot 61 in Evian seven years ago on her way to claiming a first LPGA Tour title.

Having also enjoyed a fine first round of five under – one off overnight leaders Yealimi Noh and Pajaree Anannaukarn – Lee6's 61 on Friday means her score of 127 over 36 holes is the lowest in majors history, surpassing the 128 Brooks Koepka managed at the 2019 PGA Championship.

Lee6 – who adds a number to her name due to the fact five other Jeongeun Lees were on the LPGA Tour when she started – made a solid start that had her two under by the fourth hole after starting on the 10th, and she made it to the turn at four under for the day.

She then picked up another couple of birdies on holes one and four, but it was the final four where she truly came into her own.

Lee6 rattled off four birdies in succession, including a 16-foot putt on the last hole that remarkably showed no hint of nervousness despite the gravity of the achievement it confirmed.

Even with the historic nature of her feat, Lee was reserved at the end as she said: "I try to keep it on the fairway and keep it on the green and I focused on putting speed. That's it.

"I had a lot of birdie chances. I could play easily. My putting was really, really good, so, yeah, that's it."

Nevertheless, Lee6 is not so far clear that she cannot worry about those chasing her, as Anannarukarn enjoyed another impressive day to sit tied for second with Ariya Jutanugarn on 12 under – the latter's 63 was bettered only by Lee6.

After months of uncertainty over whether the tour will go ahead, the British and Irish Lions start their quest to secure a series win over South Africa on Saturday.

The two sides will go into battle at Cape Town Stadium without the roars of partisan Springboks fans and passionate Lions supporters who have made the trip, as no spectators are allowed in due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, neither team should require a raucous atmosphere to get fired up for a first contest between South Africa and the Lions in 12 years.

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has selected 21 of the 23 players who were World Cup winners in Japan two years ago in the matchday squad for such an eagerly awaited opening showdown. The world champions' preparation has been far from ideal, with 14 players and six members of the management team having tested positive for COVID-19 this month.

Captain Siya Kolisi was among those to have contracted the virus, but he will lead a formidable side that will be so tough to beat on home turf.

As for the Lions, Alun Wyn Jones has made an astonishing recovery to captain the tourists only four weeks after suffering a dislocated shoulder against Japan.

South Africa can win consecutive series against the Lions for the first time since they were successful in both 1962 and 1968, having come out on top by a 2-1 scoreline in 2009.

Yet the Lions have been racking up the points in their tour matches ahead of the three Tests, scoring 39 tries in six games in 2021 - which is 21 more than they managed in the entire 2017 trip to New Zealand.

Warren Gatland's men were beaten 17-13 by a strong South Africa A team during the warm-up fixtures, though, getting a taste of the sort of power they know they will come up against when facing the Boks.

 

TMO CHANGE STOKES THE FIRES

There is never a shortage of off-field sub-plots to fan the flames ahead of a Lions series - and this trip has been no different.

Lions head coach Gatland is said to be fuming over a chance of TMO for the first Test, with South African Marius Jonker replacing New Zealander Brendon Pickerill, who was unable to officiate due to coronavirus-related travel issues.

Robin McBryde, forwards coach for the Lions, said: "It [Jonker stepping in] was a bit unexpected. We only found out on Wednesday. There's a slight like lack of foresight because there's a reason why that position is neutral. There's no plan B put in place. You've just got to get on with it really."

Jonker was the TMO in a clash with South Africa A that saw Faf de Klerk avoid a red card for a high tackle on Josh Navidi.

VAN DER MERWE READY TO BE TARGETED

Duhan van der Merwe gets the nod to start against his country of birth, with the Scotland wing accepting he will be targeted.

Gatland said: "It's a challenge for him. I've spoken to him about what's coming on the weekend and he's fully aware.

"I presume every time he touches the ball, they'll be trying to hit him with everything they've got and there will probably be some verbals as well. So he's well aware of what's at stake and he's been incredibly relaxed."

 

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: Stuart Hogg, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Robbie Henshaw, Duhan van der Merwe, Dan Biggar, Ali Price; Wyn Jones, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tadhg Furlong, Maro Itoje, Alan Wyn Jones (captain), Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Sinckler, Tadhg Beirne, Hamish Watson, Conor Murray, Owen Farrell, Liam Williams.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the 14th Test series between South Africa and the Lions, with the Springboks winning eight of the previous 13 editions and the Lions triumphant in four.
- South Africa hold the head-to-head advantage in individual Test matches between the sides, winning 23 of their 46 previous Test encounters (L17, D6).
- The Lions are unbeaten in their past two Tests (W1, D1) and have not enjoyed a longer such run since a six-game run spanning the 1971 and 1974 tours (W4, D2).
- South Africa have lost just one of their previous 13 Tests (W11, D1), winning the last seven in a row – their longest winning run since 2013-14 (W8)
- Lions captain Jones will win his 10th Lions Test cap, becoming the eighth player to achieve that feat and the first this century.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Jadon Sancho has made the perfect step at the right time in his career, as he believes Manchester United's latest addition can showcase 'untapped talent' at Old Trafford.

United's long pursuit of Sancho has resulted in a deal that Stats Perform understands is worth £72.9million (€85m), making him the fourth most expensive signing in the club's history, behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku.

The 21-year-old, who left United's rivals Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund in 2017, has signed until 2026 with an option for a further year.

Sancho scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for BVB, with only Erling Haaland and Marco Reus having scored more since the winger made his debut.

In 104 Bundesliga appearances, Sancho netted 38 times, averaging a goal every 197 minutes, bettering the totals of the wide players he has joined at United in Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Daniel James.

Having secured a long-term target – Sancho was the subject of much speculation in 2020 – Solskjaer hailed the England international as the ideal player to bring into United's squad.

"Jadon epitomises the type of player I want to bring to the club, he is a forward player in the best traditions of Manchester United," Solskjaer told the club's official website.

"He will form an integral part of my squad for years to come and we look forward to seeing him blossom. His goals and assists records speak for themselves and he will also bring tremendous pace, flair and creativity to the team. 

"Old Trafford will give him the platform he needs to release his untapped talent and perform at the highest level. For a player of his age, Jadon has already achieved a great deal and showed the courage to go and prove himself abroad. We all look forward to welcoming Jadon to the squad as we prepare for the new campaign."

For his part, Sancho – who came through Watford's academy before moving to City at the age of 14 – explained it was always his plan to return to the Premier League.

He said: "I'll always be grateful to Dortmund for giving me the opportunity to play first team football, although I always knew that I would return to England one day.

"The chance to join Manchester United is a dream come true and I just cannot wait to perform in the Premier League. This is a young and exciting squad and I know, together, we can develop into something special to bring the success that the fans deserve. I am looking forward to working with the manager and his coaching team to further develop my game."

Sancho also thanked Dortmund directly, telling the Bundesliga club's official website: "I can't thank the people in charge at Borussia Dortmund enough for the chance they gave me as a very young player. 

"At BVB I was able to mature into the player I am today. The DFB-Pokal win last season was a great end to my time at BVB. But I will always remember the support and love of the incredible fans as something special."

Karim Benzema has had to delay his return to training at Real Madrid after testing positive for COVID-19.

The 33-year-old striker was on holiday in France when he was found to have the virus, and it means he must isolate before heading back to Spain.

Benzema played for France in the Euro 2020 finals after being called up to Didier Deschamps' squad for the first time since 2015.

He scored four goals in four games, hitting doubles against Portugal and Switzerland, but could not help France advance any further than the second round, with the Swiss ousting Les Bleus in a penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 draw.

According to reports in Spain, Benzema is undergoing his quarantine period in Lyon.

A short statement from his club read: "Real Madrid CF confirm that our player Karim Benzema has tested positive for COVID-19."

Benzema has been Madrid's leading scorer in each LaLiga season since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus in 2018, scoring 21 goals in 2018-19 and 2019-20 before improving to 23 goals last term, adding nine assists.

Madrid, who appointed Carlo Ancelotti to succeed Zinedine Zidane in June, begin their LaLiga campaign on August 14 with a match against Deportivo Alaves.

Looking to dethrone reigning champions Atletico Madrid in 2021-22, Ancelotti's team will step up pre-season efforts with a friendly against Scottish champions Rangers in Glasgow on Sunday.

Jadon Sancho has finally joined Manchester United after they sealed a deal to bring in the England winger from Borussia Dortmund.

The long pursuit of Sancho has resulted in a deal that Stats Perform understands will see United pay £72.9million (€85m) for Sancho, with no add-ons included within the deal.

It makes the 21-year-old the fourth most expensive signing in United's history, behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku.

He has signed until 2026, with United having the option to extend that agreement for another year.

United were keen on Sancho last year but could not drive through a deal at the time, with Dortmund reluctant to sell one of their chief assets.

However, they have now been persuaded to part company with a player who scored twice in their DFB-Pokal final win over RB Leipzig last season.

Sancho established a strong understanding with the much-coveted Erling Haaland while at Dortmund and now joins a United side who have ground to make up on neighbours Manchester City.

He will look to build a similar rapport with his Manchester United team-mates, having experienced the agony of losing the Euro 2020 final on penalties alongside Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford.

Both Sancho and Rashford missed from 12 yards in the shoot-out as Italy prevailed after a 1-1 draw following extra time to deny England a first major title since the 1966 World Cup.

Having joined Dortmund in 2017, Sancho scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for BVB.

It was City that Sancho left to join Dortmund in August 2017. He had come through the youth ranks with Watford initially before moving as a 14-year-old to the Etihad Stadium.

The balance of power in Manchester, and indeed in English football, remains weighted in City's favour after they won the Premier League title by 12 points from second-placed United last season.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have Sancho among his attacking options for his team's opening Premier League game against Leeds United at Old Trafford on August 14.

Sancho is the only player from Europe's top five leagues to have scored 10 goals or more and had at least 15 assists across all competitions in each of the past three seasons while playing at that high level.

United's penalty shoot-out defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final in May means they remain without a major honour during Solskjaer's reign, which began when he was initially placed in caretaker control in December 2018 after Jose Mourinho was sacked.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants produced an MLB first as a controversial end to the latest series in their historic rivalry left ejected manager Dave Roberts apoplectic.

Dodgers manager Roberts sprinted to confront first-base umpire Ed Hickox in the ninth inning after he ruled Darin Ruf did not swing on a pitch outside the strike zone on a full 3-2 count with two men out and the bases loaded, awarding the Giants a walk that tied the game at 3-3.

Los Angeles thought the game was over moments earlier when Jason Vosler was ruled to have been thrown out at second base, only for the umpires to rule him safe on review, with Sheldon Neuse unable to keep his foot on the bag as he caught Chris Taylor's throw, meaning Thairo Estrada's groundball trimmed the Dodgers' lead to 3-2.

Hickox's contentious decision followed, setting up LaMonte Wade Jr to give the Giants a 5-3 lead with the next at-bat with a two-run single to right field.

The Giants held on to that advantage to take a three-game lead over the Dodgers in the National League West, with Los Angeles left to pick up the pieces after a third successive blown save from closer Kenley Jansen and his second in as many nights against San Francisco.

San Francisco prevailed 3-1 in the four-game series, which is the first in the modern era to have three games in which the team trailing in the ninth inning scored three runs to win, according to Stats Perform data. The Dodgers scored three runs in the last to emerge victorious on Tuesday, before the Giants scored three on Wednesday and four on Thursday to solidify their grip on the division.

But that piece of league history will have been of no interest to a furious Roberts.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he went [around and swung] and the game should have been over," Roberts said. "Eddie's a very good umpire, been around a long time. But in that spot, two contending teams, you just can't miss that call.

"The game should have been over and there's no other way to look at it.

"There's a lot of people that are really p****d off and I'm leading the way. We should have won that game. It's a game we really wanted, we had and we didn't. The game should have been over, man. I don't think the blame should be all on Kenley at all.

"I thought that play at second base, if we stretch, he's out and the game's over. The checked swing, the game's over and we're not having this conversation. I'm not reconsidering his [Jansen's] role."

Ruf, meanwhile, was able to reflect on the turning point with a smile.

"At that point, I'm just trying to have a good at-bat," Ruf said. "The 2-0 pitch was probably outside, but those things happen throughout the course of an at-bat. You just have to move on.

"After I got to 2-2, I just really wanted to see a pitch in the middle. He has three pretty good pitches and luckily I laid off the 2-2. The 3-2 was kind of a high backup cutter and luckily that call went our way.

"I'm just thinking, 'Please say I didn't go [and swing]. I think at full speed it was really, really close.

"Luckily that call went our way tonight and then LaMonte came up huge."

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