BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Babar Azam’s patient unbeaten century guided Pakistan to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand yesterday and revived their hopes of reaching the Cricket World Cup semi-finals.New Zealand, unbeaten in their first six games of the tournament, remained second in the standings behind Australia and should still make the last four comfortably while Pakistan are now only one point behind hosts England.“Whenever we are in a corner we play our best, it was a great team effort,” Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said. “All the bowlers bowled well and there was some of the finest batting I have ever seen. Babar played one of the best innings I have ever seen. They handled the pressure so well.”The match was delayed by overnight rain and New Zealand collapsed to 46-4 after deciding to bat.Captain Kane Williamson steadied the ship with a gritty 41 before Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 132 which lifted the Black Caps to a respectable total. Neesham struck three sixes and five fours in his unbeaten 97 and de Grandhomme made 64.Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman fell cheaply to Trent Boult and Imam-ul-Haq was brilliantly caught by a diving Martin Guptill off Lockie Ferguson for 19 but Azam and Mohammad Hafeez steered Pakistan to 110-2.Hafeez departed for 32 but Haris Sohail joined Azam and the pair calmly added 126 to take their side to the brink of victory before Sohail was run-out by Guptill for 68.Azam held his nerve, however, and guided Pakistan to their target with five balls to spare.The 1992 world champions play Afghanistan and Bangladesh in their last two group games and will be confident of making the last four while England will be sweating as they prepare for difficult matches against India and New Zealand. “We are not thinking about 1992, we are going match by match,” Sarfaraz said.Williamson was not too despondent after his team’s first loss of the tournament.“The surfaces in the last three games have been difficult and we were outplayed on a tough surface by a strong side,” he said.“We were right in it but their batsmen played beautifully well and took the game away from us. There are so many games in the round-robin you can’t win them all.” NEW ZEALAND innings Guptill b Mohammad Amir 5 Munro c Haris Sohail b Shaheen Shah Afridi 12 Williamson c Sarfaraz Ahmed b Shadab Khan 41 Taylor c Sarfaraz Ahmed b Shaheen Shah Afridi 3 Latham c Sarfaraz Ahmed b Shaheen Shah Afridi 1 Neesham not out 97 de Grandhomme run-out 64 Santner not out 5Extras: (b-2, lb-3, w-4) 9Total: (6 wickets, 50 overs) 237Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-24, 3-38, 4-46, 5-83, 6-215.Bowling: Mohammad Hafeez 7-0-22-0, Mohammad Amir 10-0-67-1, Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-3-28-3, Imad Wasim 3-0-17-0, Shadab Khan 10-0-43-1, Wahab Riaz 10-0-55-0. PAKISTAN innings (target: 238 runs from 50 overs)Imam-ul-Haq c Guptill b Ferguson 19Fakhar Zaman c Guptill b Boult 9Babar Azam not out 101Mohammad Hafeez c Ferguson b Williamson 32Haris Sohail run-out (Guptill) 68Sarfaraz Ahmed (c) not out 5Extras: (w-7) 7Total: (4 wickets, 49.1 overs) 241Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-44, 3-110, 4-236.Bowling: T. Boult 10-0-48-1, M. Henry 7-0-25-0, J. Ferguson 8.1-0-50-1, C. de Grandhomme 2-0-12-0, M. Santner 10-0-38-0, J. Neesham 3-0-20-0, K. Williamson 8-0-39-1, C. Munro 1-0-9-0.
Coming off big wins last weekend, the University of Wisconsin Women’s Hockey team (24-1-1, 18-1-1 WHCA) is going into their matchup against No. 15 St. Cloud State (12-10-2, 8-10-2 WCHA) this weekend looking to maintain a high standard of play.The last time the two programs faced each other, Wisconsin walked away with two shutout wins.Focusing on the bigger pictureThe Badgers not only won twice against North Dakota this weekend, but also secured home ice for the first rounds of the WCHA playoffs. But the Badgers need to keep their winning streak up for the next few weeks if they want to clinch a top playoff seed.Minnesota isn’t far behind Wisconsin in the WCHA standings though. The Badgers are now facing the pressure of the Gophers bearing down on them for the top seed. Only one loss could see Wisconsin fall to the number two seed.Wisconsin keys to victory:Defense is a mustWith playoff season looming around the corner, the Badgers’ defense must be sharp to keep points off the board. This means that UW goalie Ann-Renée Desbiens will need to keep playing with the same accuracy that she has been playing with all season. But in order to do that, her defenders are going to need to support her and help prevent another team from scoring.Thankfully, Wisconsin has the top defense in the WCHA, a unit that allows only .6 points per game — the lowest season average in UW history.With defensemen such as Mellissa Channell, Jenny Ryan, Courtney Burke and Kim Drake all having over 25 blocks on the season, they just need to keep up their performances and they should find success.The main three: Nurse, Pankowski and ClarkWisconsin’s offense is going to be key in the next few matchups, but especially important against St. Cloud State. The Badgers’ leading scorers, forwards Sarah Nurse, Annie Pankowski and Emily Clark need to be given plenty of shooting opportunities.During Wisconsin’s last matchup, Nurse managed two of UW’s seven points in the series while Pankowski tallied one. Considering that each member of the trio has over 15 goals this season, allowing the three to capitalize on scoring opportunities will put Wisconsin in place to succeed.Containing Molly IllikainenIllikainen leads the Huskies with 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists). Her dangerous .233 shooting percentage has made her a staple scorer for St. Cloud State this season. She will be a challenge to the UW defense and Desbiens. Keeping her at bay will be paramount for a Wisconsin victory.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he hasn’t received any “indication” that Irving is planning to leave.“There’s not much I can say about that, honestly,” Ainge said, via NBC Sports Boston. “There’s ongoing conversations. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”Ainge added he had no regrets about acquiring Irving, regardless of what happens this offseason.“There’s always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risks,” Ainge said. “We made a risk by trading for Kyrie. And no matter what happens with Kyrie, I’ll never regret that. Just move on to the next deal.”The Celtics entered the season as the favorites in the East, but they finished with a 49-33 record and fell to the Bucks in five games in the conference semifinals.“The whole Kyrie thing, it’s unfortunate that one person gets credit or blame for a team’s failures,” Ainge said. “We had a lot of reasons why the team didn’t succeed this year. And Kyrie deserves his share of the blame but not any more than anybody else. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t handle things the right way.”Irving has repeatedly been linked to the Knicks and Nets. He has also become “more open” to signing with the Lakers, according to an earlier report from ESPN. Knicks free agency rumors: New York betting favorite to sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving Kyrie Irving free agency rumors: Star is ‘more open’ to signing with Lakers The report adds:His plans/desires today may not be the same as they are on June 30 (when free agency begins). With that said, in recent days, people around Irving have described the probability of him returning to Boston as a free agent as low.The Celtics acquired Irving in a blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers in August 2017. He averaged 23.8 points and 6.9 assists for Boston this season. Related News Kyrie Irving appears like he’ll be playing for a new team next season.The 27-year-old star, who will almost certainly opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, isn’t expected to re-sign with the Celtics, according to a report from SNY’s Ian Begley. Irving and Lakers star LeBron James won a championship together while they were teammates with the Cavaliers from 2014-17.Irving reportedly wanted a bigger role and asked Cleveland to trade him before he was eventually sent to the Celtics. Irving, however, said he apologized to James during a phone call in late January.
DES MOINES — The latest crop report shows the corn is planted across the state and beans are not far behind.Just two percent of the corn planting remained going into last week and farmers are now looking for some good warm growing days. Ninety-six percent of the crop has emerged. That’s two weeks behind where we were last year at this time and 15 days behind the five-year average.The report shows still about five percent of the soybeans still remain to be planted. Eighty-one percent of the beans that have been planted have emerged. That’s also two weeks behind last year.The corn condition improved slightly this week — with 62 percent rated good to excellent. Sixty-three percent of the beans rate in good to excellent condition — up from 61 percent last week.