SydFC to keep Janko gunning for contract

Keep Marc Janko gunning for a contract extension at Sydney FC and he’ll continue his goal-scoring blitz.

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That’s what coach Graham Arnold is hoping for after the marquee striker set records tumbling on Sunday in a game the coach admitted was heart-stopping.

Janko scored a hat-trick to hand the Sky Blues a 5-4 victory over Brisbane at Allianz Stadium in the process breaking Besart Berisha’s league record for scoring in consecutive matches, finding the back of the net in a seventh straight appearance.

He also went two better than Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero’s club record of 14 goals in a season to extended his lead in the race for the golden boot where he sits four clear of Wellington’s Nathan Burns on 16 strikes.

But at 4-1 the Sky Blues allowed the Roar back into the game, in a match that featured three penalties and five goals in the last 15 minutes.

“I must have a strong heart,” Arnold said.

“It’s been tested of late.”

The Austrian skipper, who set Sydney back $1.4 million for his services this season, has expressed a desire to stay on for their next campaign but is yet to pen a deal.

“There’s no use signing him yet, because you keep him off contract and he keeps scoring goals,” Arnold joked.

It wasn’t all about Janko on Sunday however, with Sydney also equalling a club record of nine games unbeaten to rise to second on the ladder.

Arnold praised Janko’s team spirit and said the 31-year-old was never interested in personal glory.

“He’s bought into everything that we’re doing here,” Arnold said.

“Never at any time did Marc think about any individual records today.

“I got him to make a speech to the players before the game, it was all about supporting your teammates and working hard together.”

Henrique got the Roar off to a flying start, putting the visitors ahead in the fifth minute with Matthew Jurman netting the equaliser against his former club just two minutes later.

Janko then had his chance make history, converting his first penalty to put Sydney ahead in the 38th minute.

He gave the hosts the lead in the 52nd, the marquee striker completing his treble from the spot in the 76th minute.

Roar were given their own spot-kick just three minutes later with substitute Andrija Kaludjerovic converting in the 80th minute to claw them back to 4-2.

Steven Lustica found the back of the net to draw the Roar closer in the 84th before Sydney skipper Alex Brosque responded five minutes later.

Roar were to have the last word with Dimitri Petratos netting against his former side in the final minute to ensure the 5-4 result.

“It was a crazy game,” Roar coach Frans Thijssen said.

“If you score four goals you expect to go home with points.

“In the end we leave with nothing so that’s disappointing.”

Aussies to face Pakistan in WC quarter

Pakistan booked a World Cup quarter-final date with Australia, downing Ireland by seven wickets at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

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The final pool fixture of the tournament was a veritable playoff.

The winner would tackle title favourites Australia at the same venue on Friday, while the loser could pack their bags.

William Porterfield won the toss and delivered a captain’s knock of 107, but received scant support and the Irishmen were rolled for 237.

It proved to be decidedly subpar.

Pakistan openers Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed were rarely ruffled in a 120-run stand.

Ahmed fell for 55 due to a mistimed pull shot, while first drop Haris Sohail was run out soon after due to a horrendous mix-up with Sarfraz.

But captain Misbah-ul Haq settled proceedings and when he played on in the 39th over, Pakistan only needed another 30 runs to get over the line.

Umar Akmal stopped scoring to ensure Sarfraz got his ton, which happened in the 46th over when the right-hander chipped George Dockrell to the mid-wicket fence.

Sarfraz then played out the rest of the over, allowing Umar to smash the winning runs with 23 balls spare.

Sarfraz put on a masterclass of studious batting, stroking just six fours as he carried his bat to finish 101 not out.

Pakistan dropped catches and wasted their review in the first innings, but outclassed Ireland where it mattered.

This was despite the absence of towering paceman Mohammad Irfan (hip) and veteran batsman Younis Khan (omitted).

Australia will obviously offer a lot more resistance.

However, Pakistan can also draw on an impressive 29-run win over South Africa when looking for causes for confidence.

Ireland will be cursing their luck, given they beat the West Indies who progressed to the knockout phase due to a superior net run-rate.

The Irishmen only have themselves to blame after a nervous performance in their most important game of the tournament.

Porterfield always looked comfortable and in control, but his teammates tried to push the tempo and gave away too many cheap wickets.

Gary Wilson, the only other Irishman apart from Porterfield to pass 18, was dismissed for 29 in the 41st over.

It was the beginning of the end of Ireland’s spirited Cup campaign.

They rarely threatened with the ball, while keeper Wilson dropped a chance when Sarfraz was on 37 and Pakistan were 0-90.

Of the many catches that went down on Sunday, it proved the most costly.

“We need to give a lot of credit to the fast bowlers. It was a slow pitch and they bowled their hearts out,” Misbah said.

“Sarfraz’s knock was brilliant and what was needed.

“We can win the World Cup. We have the momentum.”

Porterfield called his side’s exit “very disappointing”.

“We’ve played some very good cricket,” he said.

“We were 40 or 50 short of what would have been a very competitive total.”

WA close to making Shield final

An unbroken record partnership between Cameron Bancroft and Michael Klinger against NSW has all but ensured Western Australia will play Victoria in the Sheffield Shield final.

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With Victoria beating Tasmania in Alice Springs to sew up top spot on the Shield table ahead of next week’s final, WA only needs to draw the match at the WACA Ground against NSW.

Thanks to Bancroft and Klinger they are now on the verge of doing exactly that.

The pair combined for an unbeaten 317-run stand to leave WA 1-320 at stumps on the third day in reply to NSW’s first innings of 407.

The Blues now somehow need to bowl the Warriors out twice in the 112 overs available on the last day as well as having to set a target themselves.

Bancroft and Klinger came together on the second day with WA at 1-3 and set about batting NSW out of the match.

Bancroft is 144 not out at stumps in his highest first-class score and the 22-year-old opening batsmen has now made three centuries this season on top of a 99.

In total, he has amassed 736 runs at an average of 46.

Klinger remains not out 159 and has made four Shield centuries in his first season with WA after crossing from South Australia.

He has made 981 Shield runs at 65 this season on top of starring in WA’s one-day cup win and the Perth Scorchers’ Big Bash League triumph.

The pair’s 317-run partnership is WA’s best ever for the second wicket surpassing the 254 between Mike Veletta and Geoff Marsh against Queensland in Brisbane in 1985.

Bancroft was over the moon to have been part of such a crucial, record partnership with Klinger.

“We knew at the start of the day that we were going to have to do something like that just to put them under the pump and take them out of the game,” Bancroft said.

“For Maxy and I to be able to do something like that is just unbelievable and it probably hasn’t sunk in, but it was a good day for us.”

Pakistan in quarters after beating Ireland

Sarfraz Ahmed (101 not out) hit Pakistan’s first century at this year’s World Cup and added 120 runs with Ahmed Shehzad (63) to give the team their best start in the tournament.

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The 1992 champions overwhelmed their 238-run victory target with nearly four overs to spare but Ahmed’s struggle to get his first ODI century and Umar Akmal’s blocking at the other end to help his partner achieve the milestone made it a dull end to the match.

Pakistan’s chase got off to a slow start with the Irish bowlers maintaining a tight leash and conceding just two boundaries in the first seven overs.

It was when George Dockrell was brought into the attack that Ahmed and Shehzad broke loose, hitting two boundaries each in the 10th over of the innings.

Shehzad took 52 balls to bring up his fifty and Pakistan reached the 100-mark in the 19th over to put behind the slow start.

Ahmed needed 58 balls to reach his fifty and Pakistan seemed to have finally found an answer to their opening woes.

Shehzad threw his wicket in the 23rd over and Misbah-ul-Haq fell after contributing 39 but Pakistan’s victory was never really in doubt.

They will now face tournament co-hosts Australia in the third quarter-final at Adelaide on Friday.

Earlier, Ireland captain William Porterfield led by example, hitting his first World Cup century to lift Ireland to 237 contributing nearly half of the team’s total.

Porterfield’s decision to bat was a positive one but Ireland lost wickets each time a partnership appeared to be building.

The skipper picked up the length well and backed himself to go for his shots, one such instance had him swivelling to pull Sohail Khan for the first of the two sixes in the Irish innings.

Ed Joyce was lucky early in his knock, dropped by a wrong-footed Ahmed Shehzad at point and surviving a strong caught-behind appeal. The 36-year-old could not make the most of his seemingly charmed life, however, and fluffed a pull shot to depart after making 11.

Porterfield also needed some luck to bring up his 100. Batting on 94, the left-hander nearly ran himself out at the non-striker’s end after abandoning his bid for a non-existent single.

His century also came in streaky fashion with Porterfield driving the ball back to bowler Rahat Ali, who could not take the catch on his follow-through.

The Ireland skipper eventually fell in the 39th over, Shahid Afridi rushing from the edge of the circle to take a low, diving catch after Porterfield had mistimed a drive off Sohail Khan.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

England’s ever-lengthening list of questions remain

Saturday’s victory was enough to see England regain top spot in the table courtesy of a plus four points difference over Ireland — whose Grand Slam aspirations were dashed by a 23-16 loss to Wales — but there remains an ever-lengthening list of unanswered questions for Stuart Lancaster’s team.

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Where is their ruthless streak? What is their best 15? Do they have the temperament to consistently challenge the best sides? Why the apparent complacency against perceived inferior teams? The list goes on.

Before the game England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward said Scotland, who had conceded an average of 36 points per game in their previous seven visits to Twickenham, were so bad their rivalry had become “a myth”.

Scotland briefly troubled England and led 13-10 early in the second half but eventually succumbed to defeat despite a dogged performance.

While victory against France next week is almost given — having won four of their previous five Twickenham encounters against Les Bleus — England’s campaign is clouded by questions that should not be present in a side revving up for a World Cup assault in six months’ time.

“We know we’ll need to be more clinical if we are to get the job done against France,” head coach Lancaster told the BBC.

“We are (playing) the last game next week so we will know what we need to do in terms of the championship. But you’ve got to win the game first and that’s a big challenge against this French team.”

There was nothing in England’s performance against a wounded and under-resourced Scotland side that would have worried the likes of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Ireland or Wales.

England carved out 11 clean breaks, beat 26 Scottish defenders but crucially and inexplicably scored a meagre three tries.

Provided with the same chances, other World Cup title contenders would have put a Scotland side — more than likely consigned to the wooden spoon after four successive defeats — to the sword.

Woodward, England’s head coach from 1997 to 2004, said in The Mail on Sunday: “England have to recapture the coolness under pressure and ruthless streak. That is what wins you big rugby matches.”

(Reporting By Tom Hayward, editing by Pritha Sarkar)