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Opening batsman Xavier Marshall is the highest profile casualty from USA Cricket’s newly announced list of central contracts, which are only guaranteed through the end of 2020 instead of a 12-month basis as part of a number of severe cost-cutting measures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to multiple sources, the remaining eight players have all been given a flat $1800 a month salary, which is a 60-75% pay cut for most players compared to their original contracts from July 2019.

“The USA Cricket Board identified that the restructuring of the contracting model around the men’s national team was an important exercise given the unprecedented events of 2020,” said USA Cricket board chairman Paraag Marathe on Monday in a release announcing the new contract list. “We have not played any international cricket since February and we are currently uncertain as to when our next fixtures will be, whilst at the same time we are forecasting a decline in our current and future year revenues as a result of the pandemic.”

USA’s players had been the highest paid in the Associate world in the previous contracts list, with the highest tier contracts being “in excess of USD 90,000” as per a press release from USA cricket, while the lowest were believed to have been in the $60,000 range according to multiple sources. However, USA’s squad struggled at times to justify the pay. Despite being heavily favoured, they lost all four matches to Canada and Bermuda at the ICC Americas Regional T20 Qualifier in August 2019 to fall short of advancing to the T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai. Most recently, they were swept in four straight ODIs in February by Nepal and Oman before the pandemic disrupted their fixture list.

USA has had a home ODI series against Scotland and UAE postponed from April, while another ODI tri-series tour to Namibia to face the hosts and Papua New Guinea in September has also been postponed. USA’s opening round of qualifying due to take place in Canada this August for the next T20 World Cup has also been shelved after the tournament was pushed back to 2022. The Covid-19 infection rate in the country has also contributed to the postponement of the planned launch of the Minor League Cricket T20 franchise competition this summer, and it is unknown when the national team will be able to resume training activities ahead of their next scheduled series for early 2021 in Oman.

Marshall had been one of USA’s key performers at 2019 WCL Division Two in Namibia, scoring a century against Hong Kong in a win that clinched ODI status for USA. But his form was inconsistent upon receiving a central contract. He scored 55 runs in five innings at the ICC Americas Regional T20 Qualifier at Bermuda in August 2019. The last straw was USA’s win-less ODI tour of Kathmandu in February where he scored 54 runs in four innings. In all, he averaged just 17.00 in 13 ODIs for USA.

Also cut from the contracts list were Timil Patel and Elmore Hutchinson, USA’s two highest wicket-takers in 50-over cricket. Both have played 68 matches in 50-over cricket for USA since their debuts in 2012 with Timil claiming 81 wickets at 21.96 and Hutchinson 68 at 23.34. However, both have had their spots taken by younger men. Karima Gore, 22, has been the lead spinner ahead of the 36-year-old Patel, while Cameron Stevenson, 27, has replaced Hutchinson, who turned 38 on Tuesday.

Jessy Singh and Jaskaran Malhotra were the other two players slashed from the list. Singh has since been drafted by Guyana Amazon Warriors to take part in CPL 2020.

Though USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar was announced as a member of the pared down list of contracted players to nine, multiple sources have confirmed he is technically not included among the contracted players being compensated by USA Cricket and ACE. Netravalkar works full-time as a software developer for Oracle in San Francisco, California. His work visa status does not allow him to take official employment with other organisations outside of Oracle.

USA central contract list: Aaron Jones, Monank Patel, Steven Taylor, Karima Gore, Akshay Homraj, Nosthush Kenjige, Nisarg Patel and Rusty Theron.



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David Benavidez vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo: Fight preview, prediction, start time, card, odds, Showtime Boxing

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When ranking the most TV-friendly boxers in the game today, no list would be complete without unbeaten David Benavidez. It just so happens the 23-year-old is also one of the best fighters in the world at 168 and in possession of the WBC title he first won while still a teenager. 

Or maybe we should say, was in possession. Two years after having been stripped of his title following a positive drug test for cocaine, only to win it back last fall, Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) missed weight on Friday and lost his title on the scales ahead of Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET). 

Benavidez was nearly three pounds over the 168-pound limit, meaning only his opponent, hard-hitting Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) will be eligible to win the title at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Benavidez also declined the additional hour provided by the commission to try and shed the weight to keep his title.

“I put the blame on myself, the last three pounds wouldn’t come off,” Benavidez said after stepping off the scales on the Showtime weigh-in live stream. “Maybe it was not having the proper things I needed [during the quarantine]. It was just a couple of different things and I’m obviously disappointed but I still have a job to do tomorrow.

“I’m definitely 100 times angrier coming into this fight. I don’t have my belt no more and the best I can come out of this fight is winning.”

Benavidez will still get to showcase his pressure stye and doesn’t plan on changing his approach anytime soon. 

“I really don’t feel any pressure. I’m going to continue doing what I have been doing since I was 18,” Benavidez told CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast earlier this week. “I feel like that’s why I have got to where I am at. I won the belt when I was 20 years’ old. I just go out there and do what I do. I’m an exciting fighter and the fans love me. My style brings out exciting fights. I don’t shy away from a fight. I’d rather bring the fight and make it a war.”

Benavidez rebounded in resounding fashion when a personal setback cost him the title the first time around by stopping division stalwart Anthony Dirrell to regain his crown.

Respect box? Subscribe to our podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where we take an in-depth look at the world of boxing each week, including a complete preview of Benavidez vs. Angulo with Rafe Bartholomew below.

A native of Phoenix, Benavidez was quick to point out that Angulo has a style that is nothing like the counterpunching and technical boxing style of Dirrell, which only raises the expectations for violence when they touch gloves this weekend.

Anuglo, a 36-year-old Colombian with a big right hand, is peaking at the right time in his career despite his age. Although his lone defeat came two years ago in a title loss by decision to Gilberto Ramirez, he has won two straight including an upset of unbeaten Anthony Sims Jr. in January. 

“This fighter Angulo is more of a pressure type of fighter,” Benavidez said. “He likes to go forward and throw a lot of big shots. It will be a different kind of game that I’m playing this Saturday. I feel like my fights are exciting when the person I’m fighting comes forward and forward. I’ve seen that type of style a lot in my career and I’m used to it. I’m looking to have a great fight.”

No stranger to the highlight reel, Benavidez made plenty of them in a 2017 knockout of Rogelio “Porky” Medina that saw him finish the fight with a flurry of clean punches that nearly reached double digits as Medina fell under the bottom rope and was counted out. 

“That was probably one of my favorite knockouts I ever had,” Benavidez said. “I watch it quite a lot and I feel like [Angulo] is kind of a replica of ‘Porky’ Medina. He’s the same type of fighter who comes forward and throws big shots. It could possibly be the same night. I’m looking to have a spectacular performance.”

Tall for the division at nearly 6-foot-2, Benavidez has given up his height often to fight on the inside. He claims he hasn’t done so to a reckless degree, however. 

“If you look at my fights very closely, by the time the fights are done I don’t come out with black eyes, I don’t come out with cuts,” Benavidez said. “It’s fighting in the pocket but it’s being very careful with your defense, too. Just because I’m fighting on the inside a lot doesn’t mean I’m taking the shots and just coming forward. Just because it’s hitting on the gloves doesn’t mean it’s hitting on your face and I feel like that creates room for counter shots and more room for opportunity like body shots. If I’m in close to the pocket, it’s definitely going to be a short night for whomever I’m in there against. 

Benavidez believes he “put the whole division on notice” with his stoppage of Dirrell via cuts and hasn’t hidden his disdain for or intention of seeking a unification bout against IBF champion Caleb Plant. Those plans will be delayed due to Benavidez missing weight.

“That’s the fight that we want to make happen as soon as possible,” Benavidez said. “I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me and I want his belt. That’s the fight I feel like has been cooking up and that’s the kind of fight that fans are excited about. That definitely has to happen as soon as possible. That’s the fight I want and the person I want to knock out. When we get in the ring, it’s going to get ugly. Trust me. I’m going to end up leaving with his belt. 

“He thinks he’s better than me. It’s just the way that he is. It’s his persona. Sometimes there are just these two dudes that don’t like each other. I don’t like the way he is and acts. I don’t like how he thinks he’s better than everybody. He thinks he’s going to rule the division and I’m not going to let that happen. This is my division.”

Also featured on the card are a pair of heavyweights looking to get back in the spotlight when Otto Wallin takes on Travis Kauffman. Wallin famously battled WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury ahead of his rematch with Deontay Wilder and cut Fury’s eye open early in the bout. Many were worried that the cut was bad enough that the fight could be stopped and put the Wilder rematch in jeopardy. Fury survived, however, and went on to win a very gruesome, bloody decision. It’s the only loss of Wallin’s pro career.

Kauffman has been in some brawls in his career, but at 34, his best days are behind him. He’s lost two of his last three, including a TKO defeat at the hands of Luis Ortiz in his last bout in December 2018. He’s only fought four times since 2016.

Plus, one of Floyd Mayweather’s rising prospects is back when Rolando Romero takes on Jackson Marinez for the WBA interim lightweight title in the co-main event. Romero boasts incredible power with 10 knockouts in 11 career wins. Marinez is no slouch himself, however, as he boasts an undefeated record at 19-0, though a more technical fighter with just seven career knockouts.

Fight card, odds

David Benavidez -1200

Roamer Alexis Angulo +750

Super middleweights

Rolando Romero -550

Jackson Marinez +400

WBA interim lightweight title

Otto Wallin

Travis Kauffman

Heavyweights

Prediction 

While Angulo is certainly the clear underdog due to his lack of speed and overwhelming craft, he has proven an ability to demand respect with the threat of his right hand and lower his opponent’s output because of it. Whether that will give Benavidez any pause likely will be decided when Angulo is forced to fight at close range where his opponent excels with short combinations. 

The propensity for fireworks is big in this one and Benavidez’s pressure style does welcome the threat of getting caught, like he did when he was dropped in the final round of his first meeting with Ronald Gavril that ended via split decision. The difference, however, is the advantages in speed and technique that Benavidez will hold in the pocket, which allows him to stand closer to fire without getting burned. 

As long as Benavidez maintains his poise and avoids an emotional reaction to missing weight, this is still a fight he should win.

Pick: Benavidez via TKO10

Who wins Benavidez vs. Angulo? Exactly how long does the fight last? Visit SportsLine now to see Peter Kahn’s best bet for Saturday, all from the fight game manager who’s 16-0 on boxing picks since the sport returned, and find out. 



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Recent Match Report – Delhi Capitals vs Kings XI Punjab 2nd Match 2020

Delhi Capitals 157 for 8 (Stoinis 53, Iyer 39, Pant 31, Shami 3-15, Cottrell 2-24) beat Kings XI Punjab 157 for 8 (Agarwal 89, Ashwin 2-2, Rabada 2-28, Stoinis 2-29) via the Super Over

Seam movement and bounce with the new ball. A 20-ball half-century that came out of nowhere. A two-wicket over ending with a nasty injury. A slow-burning, calculated rescue act that all but aced a tricky chase. A short run that wasn’t. Then, with one run required from three balls, somehow, Marcus Stoinis, who had also been the Capitals’ gamechanger with the bat, produced a dot and two wickets.

The second match of IPL 2020 contained pretty much everything, until an anticlimactic Super Over handed two points to the Delhi Capitals and heartbreak to the Kings XI Punjab, particularly to Mayank Agarwal whose 89 off 60 balls had rescued them from an abject 55 for 5 in their chase of 158.

Just as he was against the Kolkata Knight Riders last season, Kagiso Rabada was the Capitals’ Super Over hero. He took out KL Rahul with a well-directed bouncer, which following the batsman’s premeditated movement towards the leg side, and bowled Nicholas Pooran next ball. Pooran’s slog across the line wouldn’t have been cause for too much censure in the regular part of a T20 game, but it was an unwise shot off the third ball of a Super Over, in which teams are only allowed two wickets.

That left the Capitals just three runs to get, and they completed the job with no additions to the day’s quota of twists and turns.

A fast bowlers’ pitch

With only three venues hosting this tournament, the pitches will, at some point, slow down and offer plenty of assistance to the spinners. For now, though, they’re keeping the fast bowlers interested. Saturday’s surface in Abu Dhabi had a healthy covering of grass. Today’s pitch in Dubai was well-grassed too, and offered seam movement and plenty of bounce. Both teams filled two of their overseas slots with fast bowlers.

It was an Indian quick, however, who made the most of the early help. Delivering with his trademark upright seam, Mohammed Shami nipped the ball around, got it to spring off the pitch, and sent back Prithvi Shaw and Shimron Hetmyer in his second over. He had two catches dropped in his first over too, but one of them – Rahul putting Shikhar Dhawan down off a gloved hook – turned into a run-out.

A recovery, and an eye-catching debut

From 13 for 3 at the four-over mark, there was a bit of rebuilding to be done for the Capitals. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant ensured they wouldn’t lose another wicket for another 10 overs, but the Capitals’ run rate remained in check. Staying below 6 an over even at the 12-over mark.

One of the main reasons for this was the performance of Ravi Bishnoi, the 20-year-old legspinner, who performed the difficult act of keeping Pant quiet despite being the left-hander’s obvious target to go after. He did this by slanting the ball across Pant from over the wicket, and almost exclusively bowling sliders and wrong’uns that veered away from his hitting arc. He exhibited impressive control over his lengths as well, and only conceded 13 runs to Pant off 12 balls, ending their skirmish by bowling him off the inside edge.

Iyer had a better time against his designated target, hitting the offspinner K Gowtham for three towering sixes. Ever since his India return late last year, Iyer has shown he’s become a ruthless hitter against spin, and this ability should come in handy for the Capitals right through this season.

Stoinis goes berserk

Just when Iyer was looking dangerous, Shami returned to the attack in the 15th over and dismissed him with a well-disguised knuckle ball. There were no boundaries in that over, or the next one from Bishnoi, or the one after that from Sheldon Cottrell. After 17 overs, the Capitals were 100 for 6 and looking at a total in the region of 130.

They ended up with 158, thanks to one of the most remarkable slog-overs efforts the IPL has ever seen. The bowling wasn’t great – Chris Jordan and Cottrell didn’t vary their pace all that much, and kept missing their length while going for yorkers, both wide and straight – but Stoinis’ hitting was magnificent. He took guard on off stump to get closer to the line if the bowlers went wide, and that also allowed him to put away straighter deliveries behind square on the leg side. From there, it was all still head and stable base, and the last three overs brought the Capitals 13, 14, and an eye-watering 30 runs respectively.

Stoinis ransacked 49 runs in the last three overs of the Capitals’ innings. Only Virat Kohli and Andre Russell have scored more in that part of an IPL innings.

Ashwin’s two-way impact

Just as in the first innings, the new ball did a bit in the second too. Kings XI expected this, and also had a not-particularly-steep target to chase, so their top order played out this phase with a little more caution than Shaw and Hetmyer in particular had done for the Capitals. Rahul muscled a Mohit Sharma free-hit for a monstrous leg-side six but was otherwise circumspect until he was bowled by an inducker from Sharma in the fifth over. Agarwal was even more circumspect: he was on 4 off 10 at the end of the fifth over.

Ashwin came on for the sixth over, and took a wicket with his first ever ball for the Capitals, against the team he captained last season; Karun Nair was the victim, falling to a top-edged sweep. Four balls later, Ashwin burst through Pooran’s defences with an arm ball from round the wicket. Kings XI were 34 for 3, and were looking at negotiating 19 more balls from Ashwin, but in an attempt to dive and save a single down the ground, he dislocated his left shoulder and left the field in what appeared to be intense pain.

Glenn Maxwell fell in the next over, miscuing Rabada to mid-off, but Kings XI had a bit of a lifeline. With Ashwin unable to bowl any further, targets could be found among their other five bowlers.

Agarwal comes agonisingly close

When Kings XI lost Sarfaraz Khan at the end of the 10th over, they needed 103 from their last 60 balls with only five wickets in hand. Agarwal at that point was batting on 13 off 20.

The boundaries began to arrive for him, but still in small, measured doses: a pulled six off Stoinis in the 11th over, two fast-hands slashes square on the off side off Anrich Nortje in the 13th. Amidst all this, the left-arm spinner Axar Patel kept him and Gowtham quiet, finding a bit of in-drift and getting the ball to skid towards the stumps.

With 74 needed off 36, Gowtham went after Sharma, picking his slower delivery and launching it over the long-on boundary before flat-batting a short one over mid-off for four. He fell in the next over, off Rabada, but Agarwal kept Kings XI in touch with the required rate with two more fours off Nortje in the 17th.

If Ashwin had been able to bowl, Sharma may not have had to finish his quota. As it happened, Sharma bowled the 18th and conceded two sixes to Agarwal, who was by now picking his spot and finding it ruthlessly, even if it meant carving full balls over point. Then, in the 19th over, Agarwal got the bit of luck that his innings deserved, Iyer putting down a chance running to his left from deep midwicket and giving away another four.

Twelve came off that Rabada over – it could have been 13 but for a tight but erroneous call of short run when Jordan turned for a second run – leaving the Capitals’ sixth bowler, Stoinis, to defend 12 off the last over. Agarwal smacked the first ball for six, high over long-off, and seemed to have the match all sewn up two balls later with a drive that beat long-off to his left.

That left one to get off three balls. A dot ball followed as Agarwal slashed at and missed a bouncer outside off. Stoinis brought all but one of his fielders into the 30-yard circle, and bowled a wide full-toss. Did he mean to? Who knows, but Agarwal picked out deep point, the only fielder on the boundary.

Then, with one to get off the last ball, Jordan flicked powerfully, but just within range of Rabada, who moved a step to his right at square leg to pull off a terrific reflex catch. There was no logical reason for the Capitals to still be alive in this match, but logic was taking a day off.

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Diego Valeri scores twice in Portland Timbers’ blowout 6-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes

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