SPORTS DAY: Morkel runs riot in SA triumph

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SPORTS DAY: Morkel runs riot in SA triumph

A roundup of international sporting highlights

Sports editor

CRICKET
Morkel bowls SA to triumph
Morne Morkel delivered his career-best performance to bowl South Africa to their second-biggest victory, in terms of runs, over Australia in the third Test at Newlands on Sunday. The triumph was complete with 11.2 overs remaining on the fourth day when the Australians, who were chasing 430 to win, were dismissed for 107 in a scant 39.4 overs and in just more than three hours. South Africa took all 10 wickets for 50 runs to earn victory 322 runs, or one fewer than the record 323-run margin they beat Australia by at St George’s Park in 1970. Morkel took 5/23 to finish with career-best match figures of 9/110.
SOCCER
Baxter delighted after Bafana deliver
Bafana Bafana returned home to Johannesburg with the swagger of champions after winning a tournament in Zambia that coach Stuart Baxter never wanted to take part in. Baxter wanted Bafana to travel to the King’s Cup in Thailand where they would have met the hosts‚ Slovakia and United Arab Emirates, in this week’s Fifa international window. His beleaguered South African Football Association employers sent the team to Zambia instead and Baxter will be delighted that they forced his hand after his charges beat the hosts 2-0 to lift the Four Nations tournament trophy at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Saturday evening.
FORMULA ONE
Vettel steals victory from Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel made full use of the virtual safety car to sneak in front of Lewis Hamilton and hold off the frustrated champion to win Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Mercedes engine’s infamous “party mode” that delivered Hamilton a blistering pole lap on Saturday could do little once Ferrari’s Vettel nosed ahead when re-entering from pit-lane midway through the race at Albert Park. Pole-sitter Hamilton had appeared set to coast to victory with a clear pace advantage, but the race turned on its head with the safety car, which was called after Romain Grosjean’s Haas failed and rolled to a stop at turn two.CRICKET
Ban for Smith, fine for Bancroft
International cricket bosses suspended Australia captain Steve Smith for one match and docked his entire match fee for the current Test after he admitted responsibility for the ball-tampering scandal in the game against South Africa. Opener Cameron Bancroft, 25, was hit by three demerit points, fined 75% of his match fee and warned for his part in attempting to “change the condition of the ball in order to gain an unfair advantage” on Saturday, the International Cricket Council said on Sunday.
SOCCER
Pirates can win title‚ says Palacios
Orlando Pirates’ development and perennial caretaker-coach in times of crises, Augusto Palacios, believes the Buccaneers can win this season’s Absa Premiership title. Bucs’ head coach, Milutin Sredojevic, has continually‚ and probably cleverly‚ played down his team’s ambitions and chances even after they closed the gap on leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to one point‚ though having played one game more‚ with last week’s away win over AmaZulu. Palacios‚ though‚ knows a thing or two about winning a league title in the closing part of a season with Pirates.
RUGBY
Relations in the red
Sporting relations between South Africa and Australia are not at an all-time high and after Saturday’s Super Rugby clash between the Stormers and the Reds‚ they were further strained. The Stormers won a spiteful game 25-19 in which Reds tighthead Taniela Tupou was lucky to be on the field after he escaped on-field punishment after launching his 130kg frame at Stormers wing Craig Barry’s head. He connected without using his arms but referee Marius van der Westhuizen‚ who was a couple of metres from the incident‚ and his team of officials‚ failed to act. There were several more unsavoury incidents as the Reds took pushing the line to the limit.
SOCCER
Neymar injury could weaken Brazil
Brazil are one of the favourites for the 2018 World Cup, but injury to superstar Neymar still weakens the “Selecao”, Germany winger Leroy Sane said Sunday. “Brazil aren’t as dependent on Neymar as they were in 2014,” said Manchester City winger Sane. “They are better positioned and have a few new stars, but it still makes a big difference whether Neymar plays or not.” Germany host Brazil in a mouthwatering friendly at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday as part of both teams’ build-up to June’s World Cup in Russia. Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, is recovering from foot surgery.
CRICKET
England ‘need a hero’ against Kiwis 
The fall of Joe Root’s wicket on the last ball of day four on Sunday left England calling for a hero to salvage a draw in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland. England’s position at 132 for three, 237 in arrears, revived memories of the cliffhanger Test the last time the sides clashed in Auckland five years ago, when the match went down to the final ball. On that day in 2013, at Eden Park, England started 390 behind with only six wickets remaining, but batted the whole day and survived the final three overs with nine wickets down to claim a nailbiting draw.TENNIS
Federer loses No 1 ranking after loss
Roger Federer’s latest reign atop the world rankings will end after the Swiss great’s shock loss to Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round of the Miami Masters on Saturday. Kokkinakis, ranked 175th in the world, needed a wild card just to get into qualifying. But he showed nerves of steel in a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) triumph over the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Federer will be replaced by Spain’s Rafael Nadal when the rankings are released at the end of the tournament.
BASKETBALL
Houston Rockets set record
James Harden scored 27 points as the red-hot Houston Rockets won their franchise record 59th game with a 114-91 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday. Harden, who only played three quarters, shot 11-of-24 from the field and nailed a couple of long-range three pointers for the Rockets who won their eighth consecutive game. The NBA-leading Rockets improved to 59-14 to overtake the 1993-94 championship team for the most wins in franchise history.
AFP, Reuters and TimesLIVE

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