MISBAH-ul-Haq views Pakistan’s rise to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time as “not a destination but part of a journey”.Pakistan replaced fierce rivals India as the top-ranked side in the world in the longest format when Virat Kohli’s side drew their fourth and final Test against West Indies in Port of Spain yesterday, with four of the five days abandoned due to a wet outfield.A 2-2 draw in England enabled Pakistan to leapfrog India, who won 2-0 in the Caribbean but still drop to second in the rankings.Pakistan have achieved the feat despite not having played a Test in their homeland since 2009 due to concerns over security and captain Misbah, 42, feels there is more to come.“There is no greater feeling than to achieve the number one ranking in the most traditional and purest format of the sport. This is what cricketers play for and want to achieve in their careers,” said the veteran batsman.“Number one ranking is a reward for something we had planned as a group a few years ago and have worked extremely hard to achieve it. To top the Test table, which boasts some of the best sides and players, is something to be very proud of.“I want to compliment everyone who has been involved in the process, including all the players, the support personnel, the management, as well as our loyal fans and followers who remained committed to us and continued to back and support the side through the good and not-so-good days.“For us, the number one ranking is not a destination but part of a journey. Our long-term objective and strategy is to remain competitive, continue to challenge the top sides with good cricket and once again become the most followed side like the Pakistan teams of yesteryears.“If we can achieve these on a consistent basis, then I am sure there will be more laurels like this down the line.”Australia sit third in the rankings following their 3-0 defeat in Sri Lanka, level on points with England. (Omnisport)
The Wisconsin women’s hockey team bested St. Cloud State in both Friday and Saturday’s meetings last weekend, sweeping the series.The No. 2 Badgers (6-0-0, 4-0-0 WCHA) remain perfect in the season as they tallied two more wins on their record, elevating them to a total of six wins and zero losses.Sophomore Annie Pankowski has scored in every game this season. The Badgers are out-scoring opponents 35-2 on the year.But the most pleasant surprise this season has been UW’s stellar defense throughout their almost-perfect start, having only allowed two goals the entire year. At his weekly news conference Monday, head coach Mark Johnson said the returning pieces to his defensive scheme and the team’s overall attitude has led to the unit’s success.“Keeping the puck out of our net is certainly something we are going to be confident in,” Johnson said.Johnson is still skeptical of the idea that these near-flawless numbers would continue to be so strong as the season progressed, especially against UW’s next opponent in No. 6 Bemidji State (6-0-2, 3-0-1).“In the next month we will get to know more about our team,” Johnson said. “And it [playing Bemidji State] will certainly be the biggest test we have up to this point in our season.”Johnson said if the team is going to get better, they need to follow a system.“It’s a process of everyday — you have to come to practice, and you have to give it your best and practice hard,” Johnson said. “And then on the weekends, it’s like a test.”A true “test” awaits the Badgers this weekend, as they prepare for this Top 10 matchup. Puck-drop is at 7 p.m. Friday night and 3 p.m. Saturday at LaBahn Arena.
A great man once said, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”In the post-game press conference after an embarrassing 17-3 defeat at the hands of Stanford, USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin pulled out his best Vince Vaughn impression, dodging questions and shirking responsibility regarding USC’s offensive impotency. When asked why sophomore running back Stephen Carr and freshman wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown didn’t get more touches, Martin — after claiming that both Carr and St. Brown played a lot of snaps — responded with an at-fault coach’s all-time classic and sports version of the Fifth Amendment: “Next question.”Pleading the Fifth protects those in the court of law from self-incrimination. But, in the court of the Trojan football, “next question” is as useful as a third-down screenplay to redshirt sophomore Vavae Malepeai — two things Martin is quite familiar with.Anyone could tell that Martin knew his lackluster play-calling cost the Trojans the game but was masking his guilt by avoiding the question.Trojan football will most likely fall short of the 2018 Pac-12 title, but it’s not because of a lack of talent. It is because of a lack of coaching.For St. Brown, who caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown just a week ago against UNLV, to go an entire half without a single target is simply ridiculous.For Martin to ignore arguably the best USC receiver in years for a full half would be a fireable offense at other programs. USC has the talent at every single position to light up opposing defenses, yet the Trojans turned the ball over three times and failed to execute on third down.Martin claimed that it was a lack of execution that lost the Trojans the game, when, in fact, it was a complete lack of preparation and inconsistent offensive strategy that did the Trojans in. It seemed that sophomore wide receiver Tyler Vaughns was the only reliable receiver on USC’s roster because he ran the easiest routes possible.Vaughns is talented, but he should not be the be-all and end-all for the Trojan offense when there’s such a plethora of other talented receivers available. On multiple occasions, Martin ran poor plays when the Trojans needed big ones.While the Vaughns curl route was working for short yardage gains, Martin refused to dial up enough long routes to stretch the field vertically. Stanford demolished USC’s secondary by throwing all over the middle of the field to their physical tight ends. And although a couple of drops by senior tight end Tyler Petite and underthrown passes from freshman quarterback JT Daniels were not in Martin’s control, the lack of consistent strategy from the Trojan coaching staff is concerning. There’s not much you can do when your quarterback injures his throwing hand. But, when the offensive line — which came into that game with multiple guys not at their peaks — opened up holes left and right for ’SC running backs, there has to be questions regarding the decisions behind these plays.Aside from a poor first-quarter drive where the defense allowed 39 yards to Bryce Love, including a seven-yard touchdown scamper, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast kept a dangerous Cardinal offense at bay for a majority of the game. The defense did its job and more on Saturday, and was rewarded with the worst offensive performance by a USC team in over 20 years. Some may argue that the road environment at Stanford Stadium makes it hard for any team to pull out a victory. And while that may be true, it’s still unacceptable that a Trojan defense could hold a Cardinal offense to just 3 second-half points and still lose the game because of an offense that didn’t know what it was doing.This week’s game against Texas will be yet another tough road test that will reveal whether or not this USC ballclub is ready for the postseason. Martin, who assumed full control of the play calling from Helton this season, will have to change everything from this past week or risk yet another lost USC season. If you asked me on the stand whether or not Martin deserves to be USC’s offensive coordinator after last week’s performance, I’d plead the Fifth. Keith Demolder is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. His column, “Keith’s Keys,” runs every other Tuesday.