It’s been a hit and miss week for English sports and sporting heroes this week.
That’s Not Cricket
The English cricket team fell to a humiliating loss to India in their Winter Test. With a target of 482 runs to chase in the 2nd innings, England only managed 164 all out to allow India the win in Chennai and to draw level on 1 each in the Test. The 3rd test will begin on the 24th Feb in Ahmedabad in what should be the crunch tie. But the disappointing news from the England camp is that leading wicket-taker Moeen Ali will be leaving for England and miss the last 2 Tests.
As well as 8 wickets he scored the most runs in a dismal team-showing in this Test. He overcame Covid in the Sri Lanka tour just before coming to India and led the spin attack well but has cited needing proper rest and recuperation for his departure. This will be a big miss especially on the softer India wickets that respond well to spin. The latest team news for the 3rd Test is on the BBC here.
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Hopes were squarely on the shoulders of top British Players Johanna Konta and Dan Evans at the current Australian Open Tennis. Unfortunately, both fell at the first hurdle. Konta had to withdraw through injury in the first round. She was leading 6-4, 0-2 when the injury came and despite her and the trainer’s best efforts to continue, the British No. 1 had to retire and concede defeat.
For Evans, he faced an unlucky draw against compatriot Cameron Norrie. So, at least one Brit was guaranteed to reach the next round. It was to be the leftie Norrie, who’s matchplay and more attacking play sent Evans home.
Norrie went on to reach the 3rd round but his run was predictably ended by Rafael Nadal who is in blistering form this tournament defeating the Brit in straight sets 7-5, 6-2, 7-5. Norrie fared the best out of the British contingent and gave British Tennis a glimmer of hope in the post-Murray era.
English Teams Sitting Pretty
Whilst we can’t always count on our cricketers or tennis players, we can usually be safe betting on our English teams going deep in European competitions.
There was a big upset in the last 16 of the Champions League with Juventus falling to FC Porto 2-1 but the Liverpool lads took a healthy 2 goal margin into their 2nd leg. They had to play RB Leipzig in Austria on neutral ground because of travel bans in Germany. So, a bonus is the 2 goals count for away goals even though they played on a neutral ground.
In the Europa League, the Red Devils smashed Real Sociedad 4-0 in what could have been a tricky away trip to Spain. Tottenham also scored 4 against Wolfsburg away who got just 1 goal back to give them a slim chance in the 2nd leg on the 25th Feb. Rangers won in Antwerp 4-3 albeit only narrowly but having the away goals means they are favourites to reach the last 16. Leicester City and Arsenal both played out boring draws and their fortunes look more precarious because they both go away in the 2nd leg.