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Williamson, Nicholls shine as New Zealand punish Sri Lanka




Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls both scored double centuries as New Zealand flayed Sri Lanka’s bowling to rack up an imposing 580 for four declared on the second day of the second test on Saturday.

The tourists had responded with 26-2 by the close of play at Wellington’s Basin Reserve and face an uphill battle to avoid being swept in the two-match series after losing the first test by two wickets in Christchurch on Monday.

Williamson also scored a century, his 27th in tests, in the second innings of that match, but Saturday’s magnificent effort in the company of Nicholls was an entirely different order of dominance.

After a rain-disrupted day one, Williamson resumed on 26 not out with his country 155-2 and barely put a foot wrong until he holed out in the deep in the late afternoon with 215 runs to his name.

The 32-year-old became the first New Zealand batsman to score 8,000 test runs as he marched to his sixth double century, pounding 23 fours and a couple of sixes in the 296-ball innings.

Nicholls pillaged runs at a slightly lower rate at the other end as he worked his way out of a recent form slump with his highest test score of 200 not out.

It was the first time two New Zealand batsmen had scored double centuries in one innings.

Sri Lanka are not the first team to regret winning the toss and choosing to bowl on an apparent greentop only to watch the Black Caps batting for a couple of days.

Daryl Mitchell scored a quickfire 17 and Tom Blundell 17 not out after Williamson’s departure as New Zealand swung the bat to inflate their tally before the declaration.

Seamer Lahiru Kumara (0-164) of the visiting bowlers suffered the most but Asitha Fernando and Kasun Rajitha were both also well into three figures in the debit column.

Matt Henry wasted little time in showing them how to bowl on the track, tempting opener Oshada Fernando into a push at the ball which Blundell gobbled up behind the wickets.

Doug Bracewell then celebrated his return to test cricket after a gap of nearly seven years with the wicket of Kusal Mendis, who departed for a duck after Doug Conway took a brilliant catch at point.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne, who was 16 not out, and nightwatchman Prabath Jayasuriya, unbeaten on four, will resume on Sunday with Sri Lanka a hefty 554 runs in arrears.

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Alcaraz dominates Lajovic, Andreescu breezes past Kenin in Miami – ARN News Centre





Carlos Alcaraz swatted aside Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-0 7-6(5) to keep his title defence on track at the Miami Open on Sunday, as Canadian Bianca Andreescu cruised past American Sofia Kenin in straight sets.

Spain’s teen phenom won Indian Wells to retake the top ranking last week and kept the momentum going at Hard Rock Stadium as he fired off 26 winners to set up a fourth-round meeting with Australian Open semi-finalist Tommy Paul.

“I always think that you have to go for it,” he told the Tennis Channel after the match. “That’s what I told myself in (those) tough moments.”

Lajovic stunned three-times Grand Slam winner Andy Murray in the first round but never hit his stride on Sunday, letting his only break point chance slip through his fingers in the first set as the US Open winner put on a near-flawless performance.

Alcaraz converted on a break-point in the third game of the second set with an expertly placed forehand winner but helped his opponent to a break in the 10th game with a handful of uncharacteristic errors.

Lajovic refused to go down without a fight, fending off three match points in the tiebreak. But Alcaraz never lost his nerve and clinched it with a blistering backhand winner before pumping his fist triumphantly.

“Everything was under control,” said Alcaraz, who greeted the Miami Heat’s six-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler courtside after the match.

“But end of match is never easy. The nerves came out. I made a few mistakes that I didn’t do around the whole match. So it was tough to win.”

Former US Open champion Andreescu harnessed her mighty serve to topple Kenin 6-4 6-4, sending over seven aces as the 2020 Australian Open winner failed to mount much of a defense after an early exit from Indian Wells.

The swift affair was welcome reprieve for Andreescu after lengthy battles against first- and second-round opponents Emma Raducanu of Britain and world number 10 Maria Sakkari, with Ekaterina Alexandrova waiting in the round of 16.

“I definitely enjoy the challenge,” she said in a televised interview. “These victories are definitely very sweet and I’ve had many tough matches against Sofia.”

Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands stunned third seed Casper Ruud 3-6 6-4 6-4, while Denmark’s Holger Rune sent over seven aces and 27 winners to stop Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2. The seventh seed next faces American Taylor Fritz.

Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev advanced by walkover after Alex Molcan withdrew, while his Russian compatriot Andrey Rublev beat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2. Italian Jannik Sinner beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-4.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka defeated 31st seed Marie Bouzkova 6-1 6-2 and will next face former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who beat American Madison Keys 7-6(4) 6-3.

Olympic champion Belinda Bencic was knocked out 7-6(8) 6-3 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.

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Ronaldo leads the way for Portugal while England extend winning run – ARN News Centre





Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed two goals in his country’s 6-0 thrashing of Luxembourg in a Euro 2024 qualifier on Sunday, giving them a second win in four days.

The 38-year-old grabbed a double against Liechtenstein on Thursday and scored twice more in Luxembourg to extend his record tally of international goals to 122 in 198 appearances.

Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, Otavio and Rafael Leao added the other goals to put Portugal top of Group J after an easy start to their qualifying campaign.

Elsewhere, Harry Kane underlined his status as England’s greatest international goalscorer and Bukayo Saka dazzled again in a comfortable 2-0 win over Ukraine to put Gareth Southgate’s team in control of Group C.

Fresh from scoring his 54th goal in the 2-1 victory over Italy on Thursday, Kane made up for a couple of missed chances to break the stalemate in the 37th minute.

Arsenal youngster Saka, again England’s brightest spark, then doubled the lead before halftime with a sensational curler that left the visitors and their 4,000 fans deflated.

Ukraine had their moments and enjoyed some pressure after the interval but never really looked capable of claiming only a second victory over England in 10 attempts.

Meanwhile, goals by forward Mateo Retegui and midfielder Matteo Pessina steered Italy to a 2-0 win over Malta in the other Group C clash.

Italy opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Retegui broke free from his marker to power in a header from a corner with Pessina doubling the lead after 27 minutes when he tapped Emerson’s cross in from a short distance.

Vincenzo Grifo was close to make it three for the visitors shortly after but Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello skilfully blocked his attempt.

Italy came close to increasing their lead in the second half when Gianluca Scamacca produced an overhead kick from a corner but Bonello came to the rescue again with a one-handed reaction save.

Other matches in the second round saw Slovakia beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0, Iceland crush Liechtenstein 7-0, Kazakhstan overcome Denmark 3-2, Slovenia beat San Marino 2-0, and Finland edge Northern Ireland 1-0.

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Argentina FA training facility renamed after Messi – ARN News Centre





The Argentina national team’s training facility has been renamed after talismanic captain Lionel Messi in recognition of his World Cup heroics and star-studded career, the country’s football association (AFA) said.

The Casa de Ezeiza in Buenos Aires, which houses the national team set-up, will now be known as Lionel Andres Messi “in tribute to the best player in the world”, AFA president Claudio Tapia wrote on Twitter.

“Welcome to the world champion’s house,” Tapia said at the unveiling ceremony attended by current and former Argentina players.

Messi ended Argentina’s 36-year wait for the World Cup, emulating the late Diego Maradona when he led them to victory against France in a pulsating final in Qatar in December.

“I feel very happy. This tribute is very, very special,” Messi, 35, said after unveiling the plaque bearing his name. “Knowing it will be named Lionel Andres Messi is something very beautiful.”

The World Cup had been the one piece of silverware missing from Messi’s extraordinary career, during which he has been voted the world’s best player a record seven times and won the Copa America, 11 league titles and four Champions League titles among other major honours.

Messi scored his 800th career goal in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Panama in a friendly in Buenos Aires – Argentina’s first game in front of their home fans since the World Cup triumph.

He will lead Argentina in a friendly against Curacao on Tuesday before returning to club duty with Paris St Germain.

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