quality starts and has been the victim of blo
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When John Hampshire was appointed coach of Zimbabwe in the lead-up to their first Test match in 1992, the Yorkshireman was quick to lay out the extent of their ambitions. The batsmen were taught how to leave, and the bowlers instructed to bowl a foot outside off stump. When Zimbabwe crossed 400 in their first innings against India, taking nearly two days to do so, a player had the temerity to suggest that they might declare. Hampshires spiky response made it clear that they would be doing nothing of the sort. Zimbabwe drew the match, and viewed it like a victory.Forever the underdog (aside from the years of Bangladeshs Test infancy), Zimbabwes ambitions have rarely risen since. The countrys pitches are the very definition of nondescript, boasting little pace, average bounce, no real turn to speak of. Little wonder then that, asked how difficult it had been to take 10 wickets on the final day to beat Zimbabwe in their 100th Test, Rangana Heraths eyes became wide as the air escaped from his mouth.In truth it shouldnt have even been close. With Tino Mawoyo and Brian Chari seeing off the first hour of the day, Mawoyo and Hamilton Masakadza taking care of the second, and lots of batting to come, Zimbabwe should have notched up the 27th draw in their history, leaving everyone to debate Heraths decision not to declare earlier. You cannot plan for whether its raining or not, was how he saw it. We had a plan with the coaches to declare before the end of the [fourth] day but we couldnt do that because of the rain. You cant rely on the weather, so you have to keep on playing as it is.When Mawoyo got a rough decision from umpire Simon Fry, given out lbw to a delivery from Dilruwan Perera that was comfortably missing his leg stump, Zimbabwe embarked on their standard collapse and questions around Heraths decision-making receded. We were really happy with the start we had, but then when we started to lose a few wickets we panicked, said Graeme Cremer.Yet over the next 45 minutes, the air of inevitability around Zimbabwes defeat dissipated. Sean Williams and Peter Moor dug in, and Herath found himself being tested in his first Test as captain. Unlike fifth-day pitches back home, he could not wheel away from one end all day knowing that he could do the job all on his own. Nor could he post three slips and a gully and back his quicks to wrap it up. Field placements were changed, bowlers were rotated.Eventually it was Lahiru Kumara who showed why he had been picked at the age of 19, with just two first-class matches under his belt. Kumara endured a tough introduction to Test cricket on day two, when he registered a first-ball duck with the bat, started his bowling with five wides down the leg side and was taken off after two overs.Over the next three days, on a slow pitch with no lateral movement, his pace proved its worth. In the first innings he had separated a 132-run stand when, bowling in the heat of the day, he sent down a bouncer that Moor could only fend to slip. Now, with the sun at its hottest once again, he rattled Moor with a series of short deliveries before trapping him lbw, jumping on the crease.For me hes an interesting character, Herath said of Kumara. Hes quick and Im sure hes a good prospect for Sri Lankan cricket. I tell you a lot of credit goes to the fast bowlers. There was not much assistance for the spinners and the Zimbabweans batted well. But the fast bowlers played their heart out and gave 100%, which is the main thing.That was the back of Zimbabwes innings broken, but Sri Lanka still had to contend with Cremer. And Williams was in belligerent mood, blocking out delivery after delivery, then reverse-sweeping the spinners for four when he wanted to silence the fielders around the bat. Asela Gunaratnes inclusion at the expense of another spinner began to look questionable, given the friendly nature of his medium-pace.Before tea, Herath changed ends. During the interval, clouds welled up in the south, as they had prior to the fourth evening being lost to rain. The light faded. But fourth ball after the break, Williams edged to slip. When Herath trapped Donald Tiripano lbw soon after, it looked like Herath was just doing what Herath does on the final day of Test matches: bowl his side to victory. Sri Lanka didnt care that Tiripano had edged it, giving them a sixth dubious decision - and 10 lbws in a game where not one had gone against them. Its just one of those things that happens in cricket, Herath said.The clouds moved off, and the sun came out. Carl Mumba started blocking. At the other end Cremer looked immovable. Herath switched ends. He then took the second new ball and switched ends again. The overs ticked down. 15, 14, 13, 12. Zimbabwe, through their captain Cremer, were on their way to their objective. Herath switched ends. Then something unbelievable happened. For the first time in over seven hours at the crease, Cremer lost his head.Out of nowhere, with Zimbabwe less than 10 overs from drawing, he leaped down the pitch, missed one from Herath, and was stumped. Having cheered every dot ball wildly, the small crowd went quiet. I blame myself for losing this game, said the Man of the Match. If I was there then at least if Carl [Mumba] or Chris [Mpofu] had got out then I would have felt a lot better about myself, but I think my wicket was the turning point in us losing this game.It wasnt quite over yet. Mpofu, one of Test crickets worst No. 11s, saw off the over from Herath. Then Mumba took care of two more. Seven overs to go. On the balcony, Heath Streak was in the same seat hed occupied all day. Even with No. 10 and 11 out there we still thought, Shee, weve still got a chance here, reflected Cremer.Dilruwan returned. Mpofu fended one to midwicket, then dabbed another square on the leg side. The crowd cheered. 7.4 overs left. But Dilruwan flighted the next one, Mpofu pushed forward, and the ball took off stump. A young Sri Lankan side had passed their first test. Zimbabwe had lost their 100th, but rediscovered some of their moral fibre. Test cricket felt alive in Zimbabwe once again, and so did the spirit of Hampshire. 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A lawyer for MLB, Matthew Menchel, confirmed Wednesday the league dropped its case against Biogenesis of America, its owner Anthony Bosch and several other individuals. The lawsuit had accused Biogenesis and Bosch of conspiring with players to violate their contracts by providing them with banned performance-enhancing substances. CINCINNATI -- One trip around the bases has Yu Darvish thinking more like a hitter.Darvish connected for only the second homer by a Rangers pitcher, and Adrian Beltre hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning Wednesday night for a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and a split of their two-game interleague series.Darvishs solo shot to center field was one of three homers by the Rangers, who wasted a three-run lead before rallying late. Beltres double off Blake Wood (5-2) snapped a 5-5 tie.The right-handers next start will be in an American League game with the DH preventing him from getting to try for an encore.Just take the DH off and let me hit, he said, through a translator.Well, maybe not.If I get another at-bat, I might strike out, he said. I want to keep that (home run) image in my mind.Darvishs big moment came in the fifth when he ended his 0 for 12 career slump. He tipped the bill of his batting helmet as he rounded third base and raised an index finger briefly as he headed for the plate. The only other Rangers pitcher to homer was Bobby Witt in 1997 at Dodger Stadium, in only their third interleague game.The way he did it -- his whole at-bat looked good, Beltre said. That wasnt a cheap home run. He hit it to straight center field.Darvish looked good in batting practice before the game and assured manager Jeff Banister that he could hit.When he came back after hitting the home run, he reminded me that hed told me he could hit, Banister said. Thats a big boy home run to center field. That ball was struck well.Hes the fifth pitcher to homer against the Reds this season.It was just a really bad pitch, something he could handle, pitcher Tim Adleman said.Nomar Mazara had a three-homer, and Ian Desmond followed Darvishs homer in the fifth with one off Adleman. The Reds have given up 10 homers in the last three games, including four sets of back-to-back homers.Darvish let a 5-2 lead slip away. He walked a season-high five batters and hit a batter in six innings. A passed ball and an error led to two unearned runs.Jake Diekman (4-2) went one inning andd got the win.dddddddddddd Sam Dyson pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 32 chances.The win snapped Texas three-game losing streak. The Rangers havent lost more than four straight this season. They improved to 28-8 in one-run games, best in the majors.Carlos Beltran was hitless in four at-bats, leaving him in an 0-for-24 slump that matches his career high from 2000.Darvish helped the Reds score two runs in the second. He hit Adam Duvall and walked two to load the bases. Duvall scored when Ramon Cabrera grounded into a forceout, and another run scored on Jonathan Lucroys passed ball.Shortstop Elvis Andrus throwing error set up another unearned run in the fifth. Cabrera had an RBI double as the Reds tied it with three runs in the sixth, aided by another walk.INTERLEAGUEThe Rangers are 11-6 in interleague play, with their pitchers going 4 for 21 at the plate. The Reds are 5-12.TOP TWOThe Rangers host the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, matching the top two teams in the AL. The last time they met so late in a season with both teams leading their divisions was 1999, according to STATS. The Rangers have won five of their last seven games with the Indians.TRAINERS ROOMRangers: RHP Tanner Scheppers had no problems after his third rehab appearance, an inning for Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday night. Hes missed the season recovering from surgery on his left knee.Reds: SS Zack Cozart missed his seventh straight game with an inflamed left Achilles tendon. He worked out on the field before the game. Manager Bryan Price said he could be back in the lineup this weekend.UP NEXTRangers: LHP Cole Hamels (13-4) opens a series in Arlington against the Cleveland Indians. Since the All-Star break, Hamels is 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA in seven starts.Reds: After a day off, they open a series in Arizona. 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