It’s not often that I can get a hat trick sporting victories in a day. (To be fair, it’s not often that three of my sides play in the same day.)
England’s men started the morning with a T20 against India. Despite my earlier prediction, they finally found a bit of form and restricted the hosts to 120-9 off their twenty overs, though once again the death overs were expensive. Steven Finn was once again the pick of the bowlers with 3-22. Showing that they had taken the lessons from the ODIs to heart, India opened the attack with spin from both ends. This did tie down England to an extent, but KP was intent on breaking the shackles and did so to awesome effect. He hit 53 off 39 (5×4 3×6) deliveries before being adjudged LBW to a ball that pitched outside leg. By this time the match was all but won, and England got home with six wickets and eight deliveries to spare. Unfortunately England’s women were denied by rain after being well on top in their T20 match in South Africa. They were 15-0 chasing 111 to win and it’s probably the only way South Africa were going to avoid defeat.
Whilst that match was going on, Bath Rugby played London Irish in the Premiership. Bath won 12-13 thanks to a late penalty and some very good stoppage time defending. Bath were probably the deserved winners; ten of their points came from tries. They could have had the match well in hand, but Sam Vesty missed both conversions and a first half penalty. He was still responsible for eight of the points, however, scoring one of the tries as well as the match winning penalty in the 77th minute. The first try was the only scoring of the first half coming after Delon Armitage was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Tom Biggs. It was a very see-saw encounter with Bath coming from behind twice in the second half. The win takes them to fourth in the table.
To cap off the day, Liverpool beat West Brom 2-0 at the Hawthorns. The Reds did not play brilliantly, and showed why they dropped points to Man United and Norwich in the preceding weeks, but West Brom were awful. Their defence was nowhere for much of the first half and their offence only put pressure on the Reds a couple of times. Liverpool took the lead early through a penalty after Suarez was brought down. It’s worth pointing out that although Suarez gets a lot of criticism for diving and going to ground easily he stayed on his feet in the Carling Cup tie against Stoke when he could have had a penalty and made an effort to do so today. The West Brom fans were not happy with him or the referee, but their ire should be directed at their own defence. Despite efforts to put him off, Adam converted from the spot to give Liverpool the lead. Suarez continued to play well; though he still could not get the finishes that have eluded him in the league this year, he set up Liverpool’s second goal just before halftime. Carroll was the scorer, his third for the Reds this year, after Lucas stole the ball in midfield and Suarez put him through on goal. Liverpool’s defence held firm in the second half for just their third clean sheet this season. The only real disappointment for the Reds was Stewart Downing, who came close to scoring his first Liverpool goal, but hit the woodwork.