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Pakistan put Irish to sword

CRICKET: Ireland's cricketers were brought down to earth yesterday in their first game since their World Cup heroics in India. Pakistan gained some revenge for their famous defeat in 2007 with a seven- wicket thrashing before a crowd of 2,000 in the first game of the RSA Series.

The start was delayed to 2.0 after morning rain, and the game reduced to 36 overs. Ireland batted barely half that amount, as a good start was squandered in testing conditions. Paul Stirling top scored with 39 off 22 balls as Ireland disappointed, collapsing from 44-1 to 96 all out, with left-arm seamer Junaid Khan bagging impressive figures of 4-12.

Mohammed Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar put on 73 for the first wicket before Alex Cusack came on and removed Umar via a sharp slip catch by Stirling. Cusack then dismissed Hafeez (52) and Shafiq (4) for figures of 3-13, but Pakistan waltzed home with eight overs remaining.

Meanwhile in Leinster, an eighth-wicket partnership of 151 runs between Damian Poder and Matt Petrie helped Merrion to a remarkable one-wicket win over Pembroke in the Leinster Senior Cup. Merrion reached their target of 282 with just five balls remaining.

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Having batted Australia into submission during the Ashes, England pair Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott lit up the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka yesterday with superb twin hundreds in Cardiff.

Cook (129no) and Trott (125no) were in superb form with an unbroken stand worth 240 to see England to 287-2 at stumps.

With Sri Lanka posting 400 and rain taking more time out of the game yesterday, the hosts may not be able to force a result, but in Cook's 17th Test century, Trott's sixth and England's highest partnership against Sri Lanka, they have reason enough to be cheerful.

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GOLF: After a decent third round together at the BMW PGA Championships at Wentworth yesterday, pals Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will look next to meet up in the US Open. McIlroy outscored Lowry, with a 68 for a one-over-par tally compared to Lowry's 69 and a two-over-par score.

They will now head their separate ways as Lowry competes in tomorrow's 36-hole US Open qualifier at Walton Heath while McIlroy heads to the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial event in Ohio and will hope to join up again at Congressional.

Meanwhile, Luke Donald -- who is closing in on Lee Westwood for the world No 1 spot -- was joint leader with Italian Matteo Manassero after they both shot third-round 72s for five-under-par tallies. Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti and Westwood are two back on three-under after shooting 69s.

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TENNIS: A relentless Novak Djokovic shrugged off Juan Martin Del Potro while Andy Murray overcame a nasty ankle injury as the second and fourth seeds joined champion Rafa Nadal in the French Open fourth round yesterday.

Djokovic took his 2011 winning streak to 40 matches with 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-2 triumph over the Argentine and Murray thrashed Germany's Michael Berrer 6-2 6-3 6-2 despite turning his ankle when trying to reach a ball early in the second set. Nadal cruised to a 6-1 6-3 6-0 win over Croat qualifier Antonio Veic.

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IRELAND'S Barry King has clinched a place in the doubles final on the Turkey ITF Futures circuit for the second week on the trot.

A week ago, the 26-year-old Dubliner and Limerick's Sam Barry finished runners-up in the hardcourt event in Samsun. And yesterday King and Mayo man Daniel Glancy earned a meeting against the same pairing in the hardcourt tournament in Antalya.

In the quarter-final, King and Glancy received a walk-over and defeated Turkish duo Durukan Durmus and Fatih Taha Erun 6-3 6-1 in the semis.

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ATHLETICS: Irish 400m record holder David Gillick has switched plans about making his return to competitive 400m action where he has a world-class 44.77 time to his credit.

Last week Gillick announced his first race would be the Diamond League meeting in New York on June 11 but, having examined the quality of the opposition, he felt that he would need the benefit of a previous outing before taking on such strong field which includes Olympic and world champion Jeremy Wariner.

So he has managed to secure a 400m race in Clermont, Florida a week earlier.

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CYCLING: Down native Martyn Irvine became the first Irish winner of a stage in this year's An Post Rás, after a superb solo ride in which he made one final attack inside the last 10km and hold out for victory.

He beat Ralf Matza (Germany Thuringer Energie) and Bernardo Riccio (Italy D'Angelo D'Antenucci), second and third respectively, on the stage which went from Tramore to Kildare Town.

Gediminas Bagdonas of the Sean Kelly An Post team remains on top of General Classification, 32 seconds ahead of Anatoliy Pakhtusov.

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RUGBY UNION: Saracens were crowned English league champions for the first time when they overcame Leicester 22-18 in a gripping Premiership decider at Twickenham yesterday.

The match was a repeat of last year's final, which Leicester snatched at the end, but this time Saracens scored the game's only try through James Short and came home via the boot of ice-cool 19-year-old out-half Owen Farrell, who kicked the remaining points.

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ROWING: Ireland's women rewrote the record books when they qualified for the final of the double sculls at the World Cup Regatta in Munich yesterday.

Sanita Puspure and Lisa Dilleen had already laid down a marker by reaching the semi-finals but a gutsy row gave them a solid qualifying position before a finishing burst put them in second place behind Yuliya Bichyk and Tatsiana Kukhta of Belarus. It's the first time an Irish women's crew has reached an Olympic boat class final at a major regatta.

Sunday Indo Sport