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Earlier in the game, Colin Munro hit a half-century to help his team into what turned out to be an unassailable position

Perth Scorchers 6 for 185 (Munro 50, Doggett 4-22) beat Sydney Thunder 168 (Billings 83, Richardson 4-24) by 17 runs

Sam Billings‘ heroics in a thrilling chase ended in vain as AJ Tye‘s death bowling heroics denied Sydney Thunder’s late rally from a perilous position to deliver a 17-run win for the Perth Scorchers on Saturday. Brendan Doggett took four wickets on season debut for the Thunder to help restrict the Scorchers after Colin Munro‘s half-century followed a blistering Powerplay to begin the match but a rocky start to the chase ultimately doomed the Thunder’s efforts.

Billings and Ben Cutting teamed up for an 83-run partnership to revive the Thunder innings from 46 for 4 after six overs. But Tye claimed both men in the final six overs, including a spectacular 19th that included the wicket of Billings to snuff out the last remaining batting threat as the Scorchers managed to hold on to defeat the Big Bash table leaders. BBL leading wicket-taker Jhye Richardson then iced off the tail to end with four wickets and claim Man of the Match honors.

Top Doggett with the ball

Having ridden the bench for the first eight matches, Doggett finally got a chance in the XI in place of Arjun Nair. In four overs, he managed to surpass his entire contribution from the 2019-20 season when he scratched out just three wickets in eight matches.

Coming on at first change in the third over, Doggett was effective at banging the ball in back of a length to claim a pair of English openers. Liam Livingstone was the first to fall, skying an attempted heave over midwicket that swirled behind the stumps to Billings. Doggett teamed up with Billings again five balls later when Jason Roy was defeated trying to swat him over cover.

Doggett came close to dismissing Josh Inglis in his next over but a difficult one-handed chance at third man was shelled by Tanveer Sangha. However, Doggett claimed him two balls before the mid-innings break, spearing in a yorker to clatter middle stump. Doggett showed off his complete bag of tricks deceiving Mitchell Marsh in the 13th with a slower ball to round off his haul at 86 for 4.

But the rest of the Thunder bowling unit failed to support Doggett’s efforts. Munro and captain Ashton Turner combined for a 55-run stand before Richardson and Aaron Hardie teamed for a stirring 14-ball stand of 31 as the Scorchers carved out 99 runs off the last 7.3 overs to go into the break with all the momentum.

Top Billings with the bat

After Richardson claimed Usman Khawaja with a skier in the third over, Jason Behrendorff claimed Alex Hales and Callum Ferguson in back-to-back overs to stunt the Thunder reply. Behrendoff then helped enact a wild third wicket off his own bowling to end the sixth over when Alex Ross was run-out without facing a ball as the bowler hustled to square leg to deny a second run for Billings with a relay to Inglis, who was pulled away from the stumps before palming the ball on off a bounce to break the bails.

Billings managed to settle down with Cutting afterward as the two fought back during a sensational stand. On a pitch that did little to assist spinners on the night, the English batsman targeted Fawad Ahmed in the 13th with back-to-back sixes heaved over long-on, followed by a two to bring up his 50 off 29 balls. He survived a close shave early in the 14th over, slashing Hardie just short of Richardson charging in from deep third man.

Cutting mostly focused on turning over the strike during the stand but drove Hardie over cover and then flicked a full toss off his knees over square leg in the 14th to put pressure on the Scorchers attack. With 67 off the last six overs, the Power Surge was taken to start the 15th over and Billings began the sequence with a pair of boundaries against Tye before the Scorchers struck back.

Tyed down at the finish

Having cut the equation down to a very manageable 57 off 34 balls, Cutting threw his wicket away by upper cutting a short ball to Livingstone at sweeper cover. Richardson continued to mitigate damage in the second over of the Power Surge when he had Nathan McAndrew flicking a full ball off his pads to deep midwicket, making it twice that the Thunder managed to pick out one of the only two boundary riders during the fielding restriction sequence.

Billings punched back against Hardie in the 17th, whipping a length ball for six over the leg side followed by a full toss flicked behind square for another boundary in a 13-run over. A bouncer hooked for four over fine leg against Marsh in the 18th ended an 11-run over, sandwiched around the wicket of Chris Green, that left the match evenly balanced with 25 needed off 12 balls with just three wickets in hand.

Tye then showed his value at the death by winning a duel with Billings. After thumping him in the chest with a short ball that Billings failed to scoop over fine leg, Tye speared in a wide yorker that Billings mistimed shuffling well outside off stump and the result was a drag on back onto the stumps to end his innings. Doggett could only manage one run off the rest of the 19th over, leaving 23 to get off Richardson. The BBL’s leading wicket-taker kept his cool, claiming Adam Milne with a bouncer before a yorker on the last ball wiped out Doggett.

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo’s USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna

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Curry scores 36 points in Timberwolves 130-108 loss to Golden State

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SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers, Andrew Wiggins took it to his old Timberwolves team for 23 points, and the Golden State Warriors beat Minnesota 130-108 on Monday night after coach Steve Kerr shook up his starting five.

Playing the Timberwolves for the first time since his trade last February, Wiggins showed a steadiness that was missing at times when he played in Minneapolis. He drove the lane for pull-up jumpers, dunked, hit from long range, made three steals, blocked three shots and grabbed all six of his rebounds on the offensive glass.

More Timberwolves coverage

Curry shot 11 for 21 overall and 7 of 12 from deep as the Warriors avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Malik Beasley scored 30 points with four 3s to lead Minnesota, which fell behind early with poor shooting and failed to gain any momentum from snapping a four-game losing streak Saturday.

Curry has 2,569 career 3-pointers after he passed Reggie Miller for second place in NBA history in Saturday’s road loss to the Jazz. Ray Allen is first with 2,973.

Miller offered a congratulatory message on the big screen Monday during a first-quarter timeout.

Golden State delivered a far better start after falling behind 14-0 to the Jazz and trailing by as many as 40 in the 127-108 defeat at Utah.

D’Angelo Russell was held out in what would have been his first matchup against his former Warriors team because of a bruised right quadriceps muscle.

Russell played 33 games for Golden State last season before the trade that brought Wiggins to the Bay Area.

“Well, last year was a complete mess for our team and our organization with all the injuries. We were fortunate to be able to sign D’Angelo,” Kerr said. “D’Angelo was a really productive player for us. He shot the lights out, had some big games.”

NEW LINEUP

Kerr mixed it up by starting Kevon Looney at center instead of rookie James Wiseman to improve the defense with a more veteran unit.

Kerr spoke to Wiseman earlier in the day, and the No. 2 overall draft pick handled it well. He will slide into Looney’s role coming in midway through the first and third quarters.

“He understands it’s not a demotion by any means, it’s simply a part of his development,” Kerr said.

Wiseman dunked on a putback off a missed 3 by Curry midway through the third.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Jarred Vanderbilt took a hit to the eye when fouled by Draymond Green at the 5:34 mark of the third, then Green got hit with a technical. … Minnesota hasn’t won on the Warriors’ home floor since a 124-117 overtime victory on April 5, 2016. … Ricky Rubio shot just 1 for 8 but dished out 11 assists. … Minnesota C Karl-Anthony Towns missed his fifth straight games after announcing Jan. 15 he tested positive for the coronavirus. The Timberwolves are 2-10 without Towns in the lineup this season — one of those wins a 120-110 home victory Saturday night against the Pelicans.

Warriors: Golden State totaled 45 bench points, with everybody but rookie Nico Mannion scoring. The plan is for second-round pick Mannion to go to Orlando for the G League bubble along with Jordan Poole and Alen Smailagić, who is getting close to being able to practice as he works back from surgery for a meniscus tear in his right knee. “It’s something I think could be very productive for all of them,” Kerr said.

UP NEXT

The teams square off again Wednesday night at Chase Center to complete their two-game series.



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James Harris ready for ‘huge challenge’ of Covid-19 after election as PCA chair

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Negotiations have resumed between players union, ECB and counties over potential pay cuts

James Harris has admitted that the English game still faces “a huge challenge” in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic upon his election to the role of chair at the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), but said that he is confident that he will be able to steer the organisation through choppy waters.

The PCA resumed its negotiations with the ECB and the first-class counties on Monday afternoon as they continue to discuss collective solutions including the possibility of further temporary salary cuts, but hopes that with the prospect of a full domestic schedule and fans returning to grounds this summer, such measures will soon no longer be necessary.

Harris, the Middlesex seamer, was confirmed as Daryl Mitchell’s successor on Monday, after serving as vice-chair alongside Heather Knight since last June and as Middlesex’s player representative before that, and described his election as a “huge honour” in his first media interaction in the position.

ALSO READ: England confirm two-Test New Zealand series for June

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill in those of Daryl Mitchell, who has done a brilliant job,” Harris said. “I was always keen if the role came up and thankfully I’ve had the support of lots of my colleagues around the country. It’s great that I can lean on Mitch – he’s got another month in the post and hopefully I can get up to speed and make sure I’m as clued up as I can be.

“No doubt, there’s a huge challenge in front of us. Everyone involved in the game did brilliantly last year, playing as much cricket as we did – at the start of last summer, it would have looked a long way off.

“It’s about seeing us through to the end of this pandemic [and building on] the work that Daryl did, getting the players’ committee together and coming up with everything that they have to see us through with collective agreements. There may be more of that required, but we hope there isn’t too much more. We want to be as responsible towards the game as we can be, so that we can build as strong a game as possible around the country.”

Harris also gave his endorsement for the Hundred, describing it as a “fantastic concept” which will be a “massive showpiece for cricket in this country”. The PCA’s initial response to the Hundred was lukewarm in 2018 when the ECB unveiled its new competition, with concerns raised over the 100-ball format and possible conflicts of interest, but has since thrown its support behind it.

“It’s just another part of a cricketer’s career,” Harris said. “Guys will try and make their way into Hundred teams, and it’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for guys in county cricket, perhaps who wouldn’t have necessarily got a look-in at certain times or for younger guys who might get pushed into the first team a bit earlier.

“It’s a different concept. It’s exciting. It’s something that’s going to bring a lot of eyes from around the world onto English cricket, which can only be a good thing.”

Harris becomes chair at a time when the PCA’s active playing membership is bigger than ever before, with 41 new members following the ratification of women’s domestic contracts at the end of last year. While he admitted that he has “a lot of learning to do across all areas of the game, both men’s and women’s”, Harris said that he had already reached out to Knight – who will continue as vice-chair – and Kate Cross, the England women’s representative in recent days.

“I’m going to support everybody as well as I can,” he said. “We’re building up relationships as much as we can already, and it’s a really exciting time in the women’s game as well, having those new members join the PCA and become full-time professionals. It’s a great time for everyone involved in the game whether male or female.”

One relationship that Harris will already feel secure in is that with the PCA’s chief executive, Rob Lynch, who was previously Middlesex’s commercial director and chief operating officer, and took over from Tony Irish on a full-time basis in October. Lynch, who had no say in Harris’ election, said that he had been “thrilled” to hear he had been chosen for the post.

“I’ve known him for four or five years and he was always one of my favourite guys to work with at Middlesex,” Lynch said. “We have to put some stability inside the PCA which has been one of the challenges over the last couple of years through some changes in leadership at the top. This year is about rebuilding and being clear about our purpose and our role in the game.

“Our job is to find the line between playing a responsible stakeholder role and also pushing tooth and nail for the rights that the players have, because we recognise that we’ll need to continue with that we’ve done. We’re all hoping to get back to a more normal set-up as soon as we can.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98

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Brady, Mahomes set to face off in a Super Bowl that will feel markedly different

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For Tom Brady, another trip to the Super Bowl — but this time, in a Tampa Bay uniform.

And for his new team, the Buccaneers, a first-of-its-kind home game, but without the usual home-field advantage.

To put a bow on this make-it-up-as-we-go NFL season — a campaign upended but never fully undone by the coronavirus pandemic — it comes as no surprise that there is no such thing as a straightforward storyline.

Because of restrictions in place due to COVID-19, Tampa Bay’s home stadium will only be about a quarter full when the Buccaneers host the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7 in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs opened as a 3.5-point favorite.

The 43-year-old Brady will expand on his record by playing in his 10th Super Bowl, hoping to expand on another record by winning a seventh title, but the first one in his new home of Tampa Bay.

And 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs will be trying for back-to-back titles, something no quarterback has done since — who else? — Brady, back in his 2003-04 heyday with the New England Patriots.

The showdown will take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, where Brady’s Bucs will be the first team in the 55-year history of the Super Bowl to play on home turf.

“Whoever would’ve thought a home Super Bowl for us? But we did it,” said Brady, who led the wild-card Buccaneers to a 31-26 win over Green Bay on Sunday to make it three straight road playoff wins on the way back home for the Super Bowl.

But home-field advantage won’t mean as much as it normally might. This will be the first Super Bowl not played in front of a capacity crowd since the first one — Kansas City vs. Green Bay at the LA Coliseum — in 1967.

In a nod to how the pandemic has changed everything, the crowd for America’s No. 1 sports spectacle will be limited to 22,000 in the 75,000-seat stadium, with vaccinated health-care workers getting 7,500 of those precious tickets.

And even the visiting team — the Chiefs — won’t be staying in a hotel all week, the way both conference champions usually do for the Super Bowl. ESPN reported that Kansas City doesn’t plan to arrive in Tampa until the day before the game.

Most interview availabilities, as they have all season, will take place on Zoom from the teams’ hometown practice facilities. The farce that has become the Super Bowl’s “Opening Night” media session will be a virtual affair, as well. In short, teams will basically treat this like a regular road game (or, in the case of the Bucs, a regular home game), and the Super Bowl city will not much resemble the overflowing party hub it usually does as the big game approaches.

Despite all that, this has the makings of a good matchup, featuring the league’s top (Chiefs) and seventh-rated (Bucs) offenses, each with multiple ways to strike: Receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce are standouts for KC and former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is on Brady’s long list of options for Tampa.

It is a rematch of Kansas City’s 27-24 win on Thanksgiving weekend in Tampa. In that one, Mahomes threw for 462 yards — 269 of them to Hill — to help the Chiefs build an early 17-point lead.

This will be the second high-stakes postseason matchup between Brady and Mahomes. Brady was surgeon-like, leading New England to 524 yards in offense in a 37-31 overtime win over the Chiefs in the AFC title game in January 2019.

It gave New England its third straight trip to the Super Bowl, and Brady’s last of nine as a member of the Patriots.

In the two seasons since, Kansas City has represented the AFC.

The Chiefs have done it largely on the arm of Mahomes, though it’s his head and his foot that have been making more news of late. He threw for 325 yards and led the Chiefs to a 38-24 victory over Buffalo on Sunday. He did it despite a bout with turf toe that flared up at the end of a week he spent in the NFL’s concussion protocol following a hard hit in KC’s previous playoff win over Cleveland. (Also a concern now: Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher left Sunday’s game with an Achilles injury.)

Mahomes could join Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, John Elway and, of course, Brady on the list of QBs to win two in a row.

As for Brady? He’s leading the Buccaneers to only their second Super Bowl; the Bucs won on their first trip, back in 2002. Brad Johnson was the quarterback then. But nobody would mistake Johnson for Brady, who could join Peyton Manning as the only other quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two franchises.

It could happen the day after Manning gets the call from the Hall of Fame; Manning is newly eligible this year and is a shoo-in to get in the night before the game.

Soon enough, Brady will be there, as well.

Clearly, though, he still feels his home is on the football field.

“The belief he gave everybody in this organization, that this could be done,” said Bucs coach Bruce Arians, when asked to explain what Brady’s arrival meant to the franchise. “It only took one man.”



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