ROUND-UP: A Stokes’ special; Root’s response; Bravo to lead; F1 monitoring; and Serena’s win


International Round-up: Stokes bowls England to series-levelling win; Stokes born for the big moments, says Root; Bravo to captain Red Force in Four-Day; F1 monitoring Australian bushfire ahead of 2020 season; and Serena starts fourth decade with win

CRICKET: Stokes bowls England to series-levelling win

England forced a dramatic 189-run victory over South Africa late on day five of the second Test in Cape Town to level the series at 1-1.

With the tourists still needing three wickets in the final hour, man of the match Ben Stokes claimed them all to cap a stunning all-round performance.

He removed Dwaine Pretorius and Anrich Nortje in consecutive balls before dismissing Vernon Philander to secure the win with just 8.2 overs remaining.

The Proteas looked to be grinding their way to a draw, with opener Pieter Malan making a superb 84 off 288 balls on debut, before Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock resisted for almost 34 overs.

England’s attack was also limited with all-time highest Test wicket-taker James Anderson missing most of the last two sessions because of injury.

But De Kock slapped a long hop from Joe Denly to mid-wicket to fall for 50 and Van der Dussen, who spent 140 balls over his 17, flicked Stuart Broad to leg gully.

England’s chance of victory was boosted but they still needed Stokes to seize it, the all-rounder finding seam movement and bounce in a devastating spell to secure the tourists’ first win at Newlands since 1957.

The third Test of the four-match series starts in Port Elizabeth on 16 January.

England player Ben Stokes celebrates the wicket of Vernon Philander to win the match for England during Day Five of the second Test between South Africa and England at Newlands on January 07, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

CRICKET: Stokes born for the big moments, says Root

Joe Root said Ben Stokes is “born for the big moments” after the all-rounder inspired England to victory in the second Test against South Africa.

All-rounder Stokes hit 72 from 47 balls, took six catches and claimed the last three wickets in England’s 189-run win in Cape Town.

“He’s someone that never backs down from a challenge,” captain Root told the Test Match Special podcast. “You put him in difficult situations and he will never shy away from it.”

Stokes’ performance came in England’s first Test of 2020 and followed a stellar 2019 that ended with him being crowned as the BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year.

The 28-year-old was the catalyst for England’s victory in the World Cup final and followed that up by playing one of the all-time great Test innings in the third Ashes Test against Australia.

“You look at all the special things he has done in the past year,” added Root. “He’s a great example to a young group of players.”

Darren Bravo

CRICKET: Bravo to captain Red Force in Four-Day

Darren Bravo has been named captain of the Red Force team for the opening match of the 2020 Cricket West Indies Four-Day Tournament starting on Thursday. It will be the 30-year-old’s first stint as skipper of the national team. Bravo recently captained the President’s XI in a 50-over warm-up match against Ireland in Barbados. The President’s XI won that match by three wickets with Bravo stroking 70.

Yannick Ottley will be the TT vice-captain for the encounter against the Jamaica Scorpions at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba.

Coach of the squad is former West Indies fast bowler Mervyn Dillion, while David Furlonge is the manager/assistant coach.

Red Force Squad: Jeremy Solozano, Kyle Hope, Darren Bravo (captain), Isaiah Rajah, Joshua Da Silva, Yannick Ottley, Yannic Cariah, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Terrance Hinds, Uthman Muhammed, Odean Smith, Bryan Charles, Keagan Simmons.

Technical staff: Mervyn Dillon (coach), David Furlonge (manager), Lyndon Knights (physiotherapist).

Australia is fighting an unprecedented bushfire season, fuelled by record temperatures and widespread drought

MOTORSPORT: F1 monitoring Australian bushfire ahead of 2020 season

Formula 1 says it is monitoring the Australian bushfire crisis before the start of the 2020 season in Melbourne on 13-15 March.

The country has witnessed the worst fire season in its history which has claimed a record-breaking 8.4m hectares, an area larger than Scotland.

Air quality in Sydney and Melbourne has been at unhealthy levels as fires rage in New South Wales and Victoria.

F1 says it is in constant contact with the race organisers on the issue.

The F1 community, including the teams, and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation are also planning some form of support for the victims of the fires, although details are still being worked out.

At least 25 people and millions of animals have died since the fire season started in September and almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

Serena Williams hit eight aces and landed 74% of her first serves, but still had to fight off three break points

TENNIS: Serena starts fourth decade with win

Serena Williams started her fourth decade on the WTA Tour with a straight-set victory over Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi at the Auckland Classic.

The 38-year-old American, playing for the first time since losing in September’s US Open final, won 6-3 6-2.

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki started her final season with a 6-1 6-0 win over Paige Mary Hourigan.

At the Brisbane International, world number four Naomi Osaka beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari in three sets.

That extended the 22-year-old Japanese’s winning streak to a 12th match, having not lost since her US Open last-16 defeat by Belinda Bencic.

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