Shohei Ohtani hammered his 43rd home run of the 2021 MLB season to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 4-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

The Japanese two-way star delivered the homer with the Angels leading 1-0 and runners on first and second at the bottom of the sixth inning.

Ohtani skied his three-run shot over center field from his first Kolby Allard pitch to set up with the win.

The homer was crushed with 107.2 mph exit velocity and travelled a projected 426 feet, per Statcast.

Ohtani now leads the MLB for home runs with 43, three ahead of in-form Kansas City Royals slugger Salvador Perez, with Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr third on 39.

The 27-year-old is homing in on history, with no Angels player ever ending a season top of the HR charts, while he may eclipse Troy Glaus' franchise record of 47 from 2000.

The win improves the Angels record to 67-68 but they are well back in fourth in the American League (AL) West and Wild Card race.

 

Perez hits homers 39 and 40

Ohtani may have padded his MLB home run lead, but Perez moved into second spot with his 39th and 40th blasts in the Royals' 10-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Perez produced the home-run double despite a neck contusion which prevented him from catching.

Alex Verdugo walked it off for the depleted Boston Red Sox with a hit to deep right-field as they won 4-3 over the Cleveland Indians, with Rafael Devers homering earlier. The Red Sox are 79-59 and second in the AL Wild Card race.

Adrian Houser sent down the Milwaukee Brewers' first shut-out in seven years as they defeated the St Louis Cardinals 4-0. Houser had seven strikeouts and allowing only three hits.

Trea Turner and Corey Seager hit homers as the Los Angeles Dodgers won 6-1 over the San Francisco Giants to improve their Wild Card hopes, while Kyle Seager blasted the Seattle Mariners to a 8-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to stay in the hunt.

The Toronto Blue Jays survived a late scare as the Oakland Athletics piled on five ninth-inning run to win 10-8 and boost their Wild Card aspirations.

 

Yankees almost held hitless

The New York Yankees had not been held hitless in a game since June 11 2003 but they appeared destined to end that run near the end of the seventh inning against the lowly Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. Gleyber Torres delivered a seventh-inning RBI single after 25 Yankees were held hitless. Joey Gallo then had an eighth-inning two-run homer but the Orioles won on Pedro Severino's sacrifice fly in a blow to the Yankees' Wild Card hopes.

 

Rays' rookie Wander keeps streak going

It seems like there is no stopping Tampa Bay Rays' rookie Wander Franco, after he extended his historic on-base streak to 34 games with an RBI single in his side's 11-4 win over the Minnesota Twins. Franco, who was absent on Friday due to a headache, had two runs with an RBI double on Saturday.

 

Saturday's results 

New York Mets 11-9 Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles 4-3 New York Yankees
Chicago Cubs 7-6 Pittsburgh Pirates
Toronto Blue Jays 10-8 Oakland Athletics
Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 Minnesota Twins
Boston Red Sox 4-3 Cleveland Indians
Washington Nationals 4-3 New York Mets
Miami Marlins 3-2 Philadelphia Phillies
Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 St Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox 10-7 Kansas City Royals
Seattle Mariners 8-5 Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies 7-6 Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres 10-2 Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels 4-1 Texas Rangers

 

Dodgers at Giants

It is hard to look past the Giants and Dodgers meeting again in the third and final game of their series.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty insisted nerves did not get the better of her as she let slip a 5-2 lead in the third set to bow out of the US Open after a shock third round loss to Shelby Rogers on Saturday.

World number 43 Rogers stunned the 2021 Wimbledon champion 6-2 1-6 7-6 (7-5) in a seesawing contest that lasted two hours and eight minutes.

Barty had a double-break lead in the third set and served for the match, before Rogers stormed back to win the next four games and triumph in a tie-break in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd who cheered home the American.

It was the fourth time in the tournament that Barty had been broken serving for the match.

"No, I felt comfortable on the court," Barty told reporters when asked if there was an element of nerves. "I think that tension is natural. But I felt fine.

"I just didn't quite have enough physically or mentally in the tank but that's okay.

"We've had a great year so far. We're looking forward to celebrating the good stuff that we've done, learning from the hurt, learning from the experiences, and moving on."

Barty's third round exit adds to her ordinary record at Flushing Meadows, having never progressed further than the fourth round.

The Australian, who was absent from the US Open in 2020, was beaten by China's Wang Qiang in the 2019 fourth round as second seed, and went down to Karolina Pliskova at the same stage in 2018.

Barty would not be drawn on her record at Flushing Meadows, instead preferring to focus on her strong year, having been on the road for the past six months.

"The last six months have been a roller coaster," she said. "I think back to the very first match that I played on this trip. I was 5-2 down in the third set in the first round of Miami. Tennis has a funny way of evening things out, doesn't it?

"You can't win every single tennis match that you play. I'm proud of myself and my team for all the efforts we've put in in the last six months. It's been pretty incredible. I don't think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn't change a thing.

"With all of the tough moments that we have had, it's created some of the most enjoyable experiences. I've learnt so much about myself, about them, the way that we work together. It's been truly an incredible six months."

Rogers becomes the first American woman to defeat the world number one in the first week of a major tournament since 1994, when Steffi Graf was shocked by Lori McNeil.

"I'm not sure I can," Rogers said on-court when asked how to describe the comeback from 5-2 down. "I tried to fight for every point. I didn’t want to leave, I said 'make balls, try to stay in this match'."

Rogers will face impressive British qualifier Emma Raducanu in the fourth round, while Barty confirmed she will now take a break but play at next month's Indian Wells.

Louis van Gaal praised the Netherlands for "completely outplaying" Montenegro and hopes his side's 4-0 win will fill them with confidence ahead of their crucial clash with Turkey. 

After being held 1-1 by Norway in van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge, Oranje turned on the style in Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Montenegro at Philips Stadion.

Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot and added a second just after the hour mark to put the Netherlands on course for a seventh straight home win.

That was the first time in 70 caps Depay had scored the first two goals for his country in a match, the Barcelona forward taking his goals tally to 30 across that period.

Captain Georginio Wijnaldum put the result beyond doubt with the hosts' third and Cody Gakpo rounded off the scoring 14 minutes from time with his first international goal.

Gakpo curled a sublime effort away from Matija Sarkic into the top-right corner, making him the fifth PSV player to score for the Netherlands in Eindhoven this century.

Montenegro wasted a number of chances throughout the contest, yet Van Gaal is pleased with the improvements made by his side in his short time in charge since replacing Frank de Boer.

"We started very badly, but in the end we were more careful than against Norway," he told NOS.

"In Norway we started well, but we were not very good throughout the game. Today, the 70 minutes after the opening phase were good.

"We had to win today. If we didn't we would have missed our target. I think that brought some pressure with it.

"We have completely outplayed Montenegro. We have had little time and still have to get to know each other better. 

"But if you can beat such a defensive team 4-0, it gives a boost to the next game."

 

That next game comes against Group G leaders Turkey in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

The Netherlands lost the reverse fixture 4-2 in March and trail Turkey by a point with five games remaining, while Norway are level on points with Oranje in third.

Buoyed by the dazzling attacking display and result against Montenegro, a side ranked 55 places below the Netherlands, Wijnaldum is already looking ahead to the Turkey match.

"Hopefully we can give Turkey, one of our director competitors, a slap," he told NOS.

"This was an important performance after our European Championship exit and the Norway game. We were disappointed with the result against Norway.

"It's difficult to explain why we started a bit slow today. They even got a few opportunities from our mistakes. That shouldn't happen and against another side it might have been 1-1 or 2-1 to them."

Depay was the star of the show with his two goals, while also leading the way by creating a game-high six big chances, albeit none of those opportunities leading to an assist.

"It's always special when I come here [to Eindhoven], and so I'm very happy to have scored twice," Depay told UEFA's official website.

"It felt like we had more creativity on the pitch than last time. It also felt like I received the ball more at the right time, so that I could be a threat or face an opponent. That was important."

Hugo Lloris told France to put the "euphoria" of their World Cup triumph firmly behind them following another disappointing performance against Ukraine.

Les Bleus were held to a 1-1 draw in Kiev on Saturday in their latest qualifier for Qatar 2022, meaning they have now drawn five matches in a row for the first time in their history.

Anthony Martial's first international goal in five years cancelled out Mykola Shaparenko's excellent opener but, despite having 61.5 per cent of the ball, Didier Deschamps' men could not create enough meaningful chances to find a winner.

Substitute Moussa Diaby hit the post, but only five of France's 16 shots were on target, as they made it five games in a row in Kiev without a victory.

Lloris thinks his side need to put their 2018 triumph in the past if they are to get their qualifying campaign for next year's finals on track.

"There was a lack of commitment, of aggressiveness. The euphoria of the 2018 World Cup is over," he told M6.

"We're feeling a little lack of confidence. There's also a lot of development in terms of players, but it's up to everyone to increase their level of performance.

"We must remain positive and make a success of the start of the match against Finland."

Deschamps felt there was an improvement to France's display in the second half, although he was frustrated at their inability to create opportunities.

"It was much better in the second half after the scene in the first where we could have opened the scoring and, in the following minute, we were behind," he said.

"The sequence of matches is difficult, but it's not an excuse. Of the 11 who started, many had never played together.

"You can always do better against a very tight opponent. You need a little more accuracy and movement. We had the ball but we must be able to create a few more chances."

Novak Djokovic powered through to week two of the US Open by sinking Kei Nishikori, a player who must be sick of the sight of the Serbian.

For a 17th consecutive time in their rivalry, Djokovic beat the former world number four, who was runner-up at this tournament seven years ago.

A 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory in three hours and 33 minutes for Djokovic moves him into the fourth round, ever closer to the calendar Grand Slam he is chasing, having already won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

Nishikori beat Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals in 2014, before losing to Marin Cilic in the final, but that was the last time he got the better of the man from Belgrade.

Djokovic won their 2018 semi-final at Flushing Meadows for the loss of just nine games and a 6-2 6-0 win for the world number one over Japan's Nishikori at the Tokyo Olympics in July suggested this latest clash in New York, the 20th between them, could be similarly one-sided.

Yet it became clear early in this clash that Djokovic faced a substantial test. He trailed 4-2 in the opener and could not save the set, despite forcing a tie-break. A stunning lob from Nishikori gave him two serves for the set, and he held his nerve to move in front.

Djokovic broke in the third game of the second set though and staved off a flurry of break-back points on his way to levelling the match.

When Nishikori served a double fault to allow Djokovic two break points in game four of the third set, it was inviting trouble. Djokovic won the second of those when his low slice and net rush prompted Nishikori to net a backhand.

Against the flow of the match, Nishikori broke back, helped by two consecutive double faults, but order was restored as Djokovic rolled through the next two games to move a set away from the next round.

Nishikori probably needed Djokovic's body to fail him, or for something as bizarre as last year's disqualification to occur, but nothing of the sort happened in set four, the world's best player in a class of his own.

Djokovic said: "I don't think I started off very well. I was too passive and too far back in the court and he was dictating the play. It took me a little bit of time to adjust to his game.

"By the beginning of the second set I felt like I was getting my groove back, getting my rhythm back. I was very pleased with my focus."

DATA SLAM

Nishikori will look back to the second set and ponder 'what if?', because he had seven break points and took none of them. Djokovic had three in that set and took two, and there lies greatness. Tennis comes down to taking chances as they arrive, being clinical, and after the chaos of the first set this was a ruthless Djokovic show.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 45/52
Nishikori – 38/56

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 15/7
Nishikori – 6/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 7/16
Nishikori – 2/13

Anthony Martial was delighted to end his long goal drought for France despite their failure to beat Ukraine in Saturday's World Cup qualifier.

Les Bleus were held to a 1-1 draw in Kiev, meaning they have now drawn five consecutive matches in all competitions for the first time in their history.

With Kylian Mbappe having been allowed to return to Paris Saint-Germain, Martial partnered Antoine Griezmann in attack for France, who drew with Bosnia-Herzegovina by the same scoreline last time out.

The Manchester United forward missed a great chance to break the deadlock, his shot saved by Andriy Pyatov following Paul Pogba's throughball. To compound his frustrations, Ukraine launched a counter-attack that ended in a sublime opening goal from Mykola Shaparenko.

That miss took Martial to 28 consecutive shots for the national team without scoring, but he fared better with his 29th, a half-volley from six yards out too much for Pyatov to keep out.

Martial's only previous France goal was in a 3-1 friendly win over Italy in September 2016, and the 25-year-old admitted it had been a frustrating wait.

He has now set his sights on beating Finland next week, a result that would go a long way towards solidifying France's place at the top of Group D.

 

"It's true that it feels good to score, especially after such a long period. It's been a long time!" he told M6.

"It was a difficult game for us, but we were able to come back to score, and that's the most important thing.

"We have one game left before the end of the international break, and we'll have to win it.

"I tried to slip it through the legs of the keeper but, unfortunately, he saved it. And then, they score at the other end.

"We were all disappointed, but we were able to come back and we will do the job against Finland."

Emma Raducanu came within one point of a sensational double bagel against Sara Sorribes Tormo and could face Ash Barty next at the US Open.

The 18-year-old Briton came through qualifying to make her Flushing Meadows bow this week.

And now Raducanu is remarkably into week two without dropping a set.

She saved her best performance yet for round three, winning 6-0 6-1 after passing up a match point on Sorribes Tormo's serve that would have sealed a flawless result.

Her place in the fourth round was a fine consolation for Raducanu, who reached the same stage at Wimbledon in July, then appearing in a grand slam main draw for the first time.

A match against Ajla Tomljanovic proved a step too far at the All England Club, but Raducanu may now get an opportunity to advance against another Australian.

If Barty beats Shelby Rogers later on Saturday, the world number one will face Raducanu next week – presumably far away from the Court 17 the teenager was consigned to on this occasion.

Given Sorribes Tormo beat Barty in straight sets in the first round of this year's Olympic Games, Raducanu should have nothing to fear.

"It's been two weeks in New York now," she told Prime Video. "And into the third week – I never thought I'd be here, but I'm just so, so excited."

Raducanu said of her latest triumph: "I was playing very well. I know Sara is an extremely tough opponent – she doesn't make a mistake, so you have to be on your game every single point.

"I had to work so hard, and there were some really, really long deuce games that could have gone either way, so I'm just really happy that I managed to maintain and stay on it and win in the end."

It was a far more comprehensive success than Raducanu was willing to admit, though, with the world number 150 having 11 break point opportunities to her opponent's zero.

Raducanu's blistering forehand averaged 92 miles per hour on serve, while she played 23 winners.

"Honestly, for this one, the plan was I had to hit through her, I had to hit the corners," she added. "If you trade against her, you're probably going to come out second best.

"I just took the game to her and hit more winners than errors today."

Anthony Martial scored just his second goal for France as the world champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine in World Cup qualifying.

Mykola Shaparenko's sublime strike had put the home side in front just before half-time, but Martial forced home an equaliser five minutes after the restart.

Substitute Moussa Diaby hit the post as Les Bleus toiled in vain to find a winner, with Didier Deschamps' men having now drawn five matches in a row in all competitions.

France were winless in four games in Kiev heading into this contest and there was little that was confident about their early play, Antoine Griezmann flashing a shot wide with one of his few openings.

Ukraine looked more dangerous on the break and Andriy Yarmolenko spurned a good chance when his header was saved by Hugo Lloris.

The breakthrough came just before half-time. Martial was denied by Andriy Pyatov after being played in by Paul Pogba, and the home side broke forward, Roman Yaremchuk's cross was cleared by Kurt Zouma to Shaparenko on the edge of the box, and he swept a stylish first-time strike high past Lloris.

Martial's miss took him to 28 consecutive shots without scoring for France, but he had more luck with his next attempt. Adrien Rabiot's header dropped kindly for the Manchester United forward, whose half-volley from six yards was too powerful for Pyatov to keep out.

Diaby skipped into space after good work from Benzema but his low strike clattered off the base of the right-hand post, before Pogba tried his luck with a long-range strike that Pyatov held, as the visitors toiled to no further avail.


What does it mean? France solid but unspectacular in qualifying

France have nine points from five matches in Group D, giving them a five-point lead at the top having played two more matches than second-place Finland.

The world champions are unbeaten in qualifying for Qatar 2022 and remain in a good position, but there is growing concern around their uninspiring performances.

France's five successive draws include three games at Euro 2020, where after a 3-3 draw with Switzerland in the last 16 they lost a penalty shoot-out.

Ukraine are third in the World Cup group, having drawn all five of their games.

Pogba pulling the strings

Almost all of France's good work came through Pogba, who attempted a huge 66 passes in the Ukraine half as he tried to pick through a resolute defence.

There was little creativity aside from the United midfielder, which explained his ambitious shot as the clock began to tick down.

Can the rescue act continue?

France have conceded the opening goal in five consecutive matches, their longest such run since the days of Raymond Domenech from November 2009 to June 2010.

There is over a year to go until Qatar 2022, but France at the moment appear to be limping their way towards defending their crown.

What's next?

France host Finland in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, with Ukraine heading to the Czech Republic for a friendly a day later.

Memphis Depay scored twice to help the Netherlands get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Montenegro in Saturday's Group G clash.

Louis van Gaal's first game in his third spell in charge ended in a 1-1 draw in Norway on Wednesday, but the Oranje produced a much improved display at Philips Stadion.

Depay fired the Netherlands into a deserved first-half lead from the penalty spot and doubled his tally just after the hour mark with a clinical finish.

Georginio Wijnaldum added a third and Cody Gakpo scored his first international goal as the Netherlands picked up a win that keeps them level with Norway and one point behind Group G leaders Turkey, whom they face next.

Montenegro entered the game level on points with their opponents and felt they should have had a penalty when Adam Marusic went down under pressure from Frenkie de Jong.

The Netherlands were otherwise on top and went close through a Davy Klaassen header that hit the crossbar before their breakthrough arrived seven minutes before half-time.

Dusan Lagator dragged down Depay in the box and the Barcelona forward blasted the resulting penalty towards the top-right corner, sending Matija Sarkic the wrong way.

Milutin Osmajic wasted a promising opportunity for Montenegro early in the second half and Stefan Mugosa blazed over after pouncing on a terrible Tyrell Malacia backpass.

Those misses proved costly as Depay sent a zipping low strike past Sarkic at his near post after being played in by fellow forward Gakpo.

It was a familiar story eight minutes later as Wijnaldum collected Steven Berghuis' pass and calmly converted just moments after Mugosa scuffed a shot at Justin Bijlow.

The goal of the match belonged to PSV youngster Gakpo, who curled a glorious shot out of Sarkic's reach from outside the box, capping a wonderful night on Van Gaal's latest homecoming.

Lewis Hamilton knows strategy will be key in a "tough" Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, having agonisingly qualified in second.

The tight confines of this track mean pole position is key, and it was home hopeful Max Verstappen who took it by 0.038 seconds – his seventh of the year and 10th in Formula One.

Hamilton has work to do then, and he does not have the benefit of past experiences at Zandvoort.

The Mercedes superstar is one of only three drivers on the grid who was born when the event was last in F1 in 1985, while he has not raced at this circuit since the 2005 F3 Euro Series.

Having broken down on Friday and missed a session, too, Hamilton's knowledge of the likely race pace is very limited.

"I haven't done any long running, so I don't really know too much of what the track's like with heavy fuel," he explained in a news conference.

"I only have my reference from 2005, and I don't remember that.

"I have no doubt it's going to be tough tomorrow, just from watching these guys – I think Max and his team were quicker than us on the long run.

"It's not a track that you can particularly overtake in, so it's going to be [about] strategy tomorrow and how you can utilise the tyres."

Zandvoort became just the fourth of 34 tracks Hamilton has raced at in F1 without taking pole, but he still enjoyed the experience.

"What a track," he said. "Wow. It is absolutely incredible driving this track, with the banked corners, and today was one of the sessions I've enjoyed most.

"Qualifying here is just phenomenal with the light car. [It was] so close at the end, but obviously yesterday didn't help. I'm glad we got back to where we needed to be today."

Further improvement and a victory on Sunday would make Hamilton the first man to reach 100 F1 wins, but Verstappen is chasing history of his own.

Having last week, at the Belgian Grand Prix, become only the second Benelux driver to win in the region, he could now break new ground as the first Dutchman to celebrate a home victory.

Verstappen acknowledged the importance of his qualifying performance but forecast challenges ahead.

"It's still very difficult to pass around here," he said. "Even in qualifying, everyone was trying to find a gap, not like some other tracks where everyone's trying to find a tow. I do think it's going to be tough.

"But also it's quite tough on tyres around here with all the high-speed corners, so it's not a very straightforward race. There are a lot of laps around here.

"Of course, it's important to be up front."

Otavio marked his senior international debut with a goal as Portugal beat nine-man Qatar 3-1 in Saturday's international friendly at the Nagyerdei Stadium in Hungary.

Portugal made 11 changes on the back of their dramatic 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland on Wednesday and initially looked disjointed in the opening quarter of the contest.

But quickfire headers from Andre Silva and Otavio put Portugal in control before half-time, at which point Qatar were a player light following Meshaal Barsham's dismissal. 

Without talismanic skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Santos' side were given a scare when Abdelkarim Hassan pulled one back, though Boualem Khoukhi was next to be sent off and Bruno Fernandes made certain of the win with a late penalty.

Qatar lost 4-0 to Serbia on Wednesday but made a bright start to their latest friendly and nearly took the lead when Almoez Ali sent an angled shot crashing against the post.

Abdulaziz Hatim then called Anthony Lopes into action, but Santos' men took the lead through their first attempt as Silva headed in Joao Mario's cross from six yards.

Otavio's maiden goal followed just 84 seconds later, the Porto attacker climbing highest to guide Goncalo Guedes' centre away from Barsham.

Qatar's hopes of finding a route back into the game were dented when, following a lengthy VAR review, Barsham was issued a red card for catching Guedes outside the box.

However, shortly after Joao Mario skied a glorious chance over the bar from close range, the 2022 World Cup hosts had one back through unmarked Hassan's header.

Felix Sanchez's side could not build on that goal, though, and Fernandes converted from 12 yards after fellow substitute Diogo Jota was fouled by Tarek Salman inside the box, a decision that led to Khoukhi being dismissed for his protests. 

Janneman Malan's 121 and a Tabraiz Shamsi five-for led South Africa to a 67-run win by DLS in a rain-affected second ODI against Sri Lanka, levelling the three-match series in Colombo.

A downpour delayed the start and limited the contest to 47 overs, which became 41 in the second innings after more rain – Sri Lanka's target of 284 trimmed to 265.

But the Proteas were never in trouble. Despite missing injured captain Temba Bavuma and the rested Quinton de Kock, stand-in skipper Keshav Maharaj was quickly rewarded for his decision to bat first.

Opener Malan stuck around for three hours and 17 minutes, during which time he enjoyed stands of 96 for the second wicket with Reeza Hendricks (51) and 86 for the fourth with Heinrich Klaasen (43).

Dushmantha Chameera belatedly got Klaasen and Malan from consecutive deliveries, but by that point there were just 12 balls remaining, with South Africa finishing on 283-6.

Given Avishka Fernando had been the match-winner for Sri Lanka in the series opener, making at least 50 in a third consecutive ODI, it quickly became clear this would not be their day when he went early for eight to a much-improved Kagiso Rabada (2-16).

Charith Asalanka starred alongside Avishka in the previous match and only he truly threatened to make a fight of the chase, scoring 77 off 69 – including three sixes – either side of the rain delay.

Chamika Karunaratne's late flurry (36 off 23, two sixes) was then ended by Maharaj, and Shamsi tidied up the tail for career-best figures of 5-49, leaving Sri Lanka well short, all out for 197.

Patient approach pays off

Sri Lanka's pace bowling attack has been effective in preventing boundaries this year, giving up just 44 per cent of their total runs conceded through fours and sixes ahead of this match – the second-lowest proportion among Test-playing nations in 2021, behind Bangladesh (42 per cent). But this did not slow Malan, who hit only 10 of the 135 balls he faced to the boundary but ran 65 singles, perhaps explaining his struggles with cramp.

Rabada back to his best

A poor showing from the Proteas' premier fast bowler in the first ODI saw him give up 66 runs, tied for the third-most in his career in this format. Yet Rabada was back on song from the outset on Saturday. He took two wickets in a stunning fifth over, conceding only a single run and prompting a further lbw review.

Rabada's contribution was overshadowed by Shamsi's efforts, but the Proteas need their main man to fire, meaning an ankle sprain in the field provides some concern.

Rohit Sharma led the way with his first Test century outside India as the tourists bossed day three of the fourth Test against England.

India had trailed by 99 runs on first innings, but they were on course for a hefty total batting second time around, reaching 270-3 at stumps at The Oval.

It was 34-year-old Sharma who did much of the leg work, amassing 127 on a flat pitch before falling victim to the first delivery after England took the new ball, caught on the pull off Ollie Robinson.

KL Rahul fell for 46 and Cheteshwar Pujara made a handy 61, with bad light bringing an early end to play in south London after India had built a lead of 171 runs.

Trailing by 56 overnight, on 43-0 in their second bat, India were looking for openers Rohit and Rahul to move them ahead in the game, yet they lost the latter midway through the morning session, with James Anderson drawing a thin nick through to Jonny Bairstow. England's initial appeals were rebuffed, but a review showed the batsman had feathered the ball on its way to the wicketkeeper.

From 83-1, India pushed on and Pujara bludgeoned Moeen over square leg to the boundary to nudge the tourists ahead in the match.

Rohit reached his century with a mighty six over long-on off Moeen Ali in the 64th over, with Virat Kohli leading the acclaim on the players' balcony. It was Rohit's eighth ton overall in the longest format, and his second against England, having made 161 in February of this year in Chennai, where India landed victory by 317 runs.

This match took a twist with the introduction of the new ball after 80 overs, as Robinson removed Rohit immediately and dismissed Pujara five balls later. Rohit got a top edge on a short ball and Chris Woakes held on well at long leg, before Pujara was snared on review, getting an inside edge into his thigh pad, the ball squirting out to Moeen at slip.

India took their lead past 150 when Kohli hit Robinson for two boundaries in three balls, finding the ropes either side of a big lbw appeal. Replays showed the ball to be zipping over leg stump by a couple of inches. But it was an overcast afternoon and as England sought to make late inroads, those hopes were scuppered by the light meters.

ROHIT JOINS ELITE LIST

Rohit had a day to savour, becoming the sixth India opening batsman to make a Test century against England at The Oval, joining a top-class line-up of those that have gone before him. Vijay Merchant was the first, in 1946, followed by Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Rahul Dravid and KL Rahul.

PARTNERSHIPS COME GOOD

Rohit and Rahul became the eighth pair of touring openers to plunder at least three first-wicket stands worth 80 or more in a Test series in England. Then Rahul and Pujara put on the equal highest second-wicket partnership by an India pair against England at The Oval, matching the 153-run partnership between Gavaskar and Dilip Vengsarkar in 1979. On that occasion, India recovered from a first-innings deficit of 103 to almost win the match, finishing nine runs short with two wickets standing when an epic contest was called a draw.

Javier Pastore has joined Elche following the termination of his deal with Roma.

LaLiga club Elche confirmed the signing of free agent Pastore on Saturday, on the same day another of Spain's lesser lights - Rayo Vallecano - had announced the acquisition of Radamel Falcao.

Pastore cost Paris Saint-Germain a reported €39.8million back in 2011 when he joined from Palermo as one of the Ligue 1 club's marquee additions following the Qatari takeover.

The Argentine enjoyed a brilliant first season in Paris, scoring 16 goals and adding a further six assists in all competitions in 2011-12.

Injuries did hamper his spell at PSG, though he enjoyed another fine campaign in 2014-15, playing 51 times, assisting 16 goals and scoring six himself. However, he subsequently failed to play more than 2,000 minutes in any of the next three seasons.

Pastore left for Roma in 2018, yet he played a total of just 37 times across three years before terminating his contract with the Serie A club.

Elche have now welcomed him on board and the 32-year-old will be looking to get his career back on track in Spain.

After terminating his Roma deal on Monday, Pastore posted a farewell message on his official Instagram account.

"It's not easy for me to leave this club, the city and these fans with the awareness of not being able to meet the expectations that they had in me," he wrote.

"Anyone who knows me, knows how much I have suffered and with what commitment I have worked.

"Ours was not a lucky story, but by leaving I also feel I have kept intact a feeling of respect and gratitude towards this city and towards the people who three years ago welcomed me with love and enthusiasm.

"I wish you will be able to celebrate great success soon: Rome, Roma and their fans deserve it."

Primoz Roglic would need an almighty slip up to fail to win the Vuelta a Espana, though Saturday's penultimate stage belonged to Clement Champoussin.

A monster, 202.2-kilometre route culminated in a summit finish on Mos. Castro de Herville, with 23-year-old Champoussin attacking with 1500m remaining to take the first stage win of his professional career.

The Frenchman crossed the line six seconds ahead of Roglic, who had led a chasing pack that caught breakaway leader Ryan Gibbons with around 4km left.

Roglic's second-place finish, two seconds ahead of nearest general classification rival Enric Mas of Movistar, should surely see the Jumbo-Visma rider claim La Roja for a third successive year.

It could all change in Sunday's time trial, but having won gold in such an event at the Tokyo Olympics, Roglic will know a third Vuelta crown is within his grasp.

Should he hold onto his GC lead, which stands at 2:38, Roglic will become only the fourth rider in history to win the Vuelta on three separate occasions, while he will also match Roberto Heras' feat of three consecutive triumphs (set between 2003 and 2005).

Stage 20 belonged to Champoussin, however. After Roglic, Mas, Adam Yates and Jack Haig had caught Gibbons, the AG2R Citroen rider lodged a surprise offensive, catching the quintet cold.

For a moment, with Roglic gaining ground, it looked as though Champoussin - who only turned pro last year - may have gone too soon, but he held on to claim a maiden grand tour stage success.

Behind Roglic, Adam Yates of INEOS Grenadiers just edged out Mas to secure a top-three finish. A dismal day for Miguel Angel Lopez saw him abandon the race with 20km remaining after he failed to keep pace with the general classification group.

STAGE RESULT

1. Clement Champoussin (AG2R Citroen) 05:21:50
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) +0:06
3. Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 83:11:27
2. Enric Mas (Movistar) +2:38
3. Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) +4:48

Points Classification

1. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 250
2. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 179
3. Magnus Cort (EF Education-Nippo) 145

King of the Mountains

1. Michael Storer (Team DSM) 80
2. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) 61
3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 51

What's next?

Sunday's final stage is a 33.8km time trial from Padron to Santiago de Compostela. A consistent climb is followed by downhill, technical sections and a flat straight to the line. 

 

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