Test Points: Little Value in Lower Contests

Test Points: Little Value in Lower Contests

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 14 November, 2019, 5:16 PM IST


While the overwhelming reaction to the ICC World Test championship has been generally positive, the world Test championship points have been a matter of some debate and discussion. To that end, it would seem that in a contest such as the one between India and Bangladesh, even Test match points are little incentive in such a scenario, at least for the lower ranked team.

There is little doubt that the World Test championship brings a greater context to tie in all the bilateral series around the world. With a larger interest and prize at stake at the end of the two year cycle, the introduction of the World Test championship has ensured that every match counts and that no match will be considered redundant or only of academic interest. To that end, the system rewards results over draws, with draws becoming a final resort for teams that have no chance to win the points for themselves.

That said, the skewed nature of the system has already revealed itself.

India have a relatively easier opposition against Bangladesh than they did against South Africa and therefore, stand a more opportune chance to win the points on offer with no quite as much effort. Although South Africa, in the end, proved to be easy pickings for India, that context seemed to hold greater relevance in the points system than this David versus Goliath battle that is the two Test match series between India and Bangladesh.

Not only are India playing in home conditions but also, they are sitting pretty at the top of the table, courtesy of their 3-0 whitewash of South Africa and the punishment handed to the West Indies not so long ago. With easy points on offer, it would seem India can afford to experiment only to a reasonable extent. It is one of the advantages of the ICC World Test championship points system because no team will be able to take a series lightly by fielding a second string line up against the lower ranked teams.

But with even the limited scope to rest and rotate players, India clearly have a huge advantage over Bangladesh who are struggling for respectability. With that in mind, it would appear that even if Bangladesh were to do the unthinkable – which is highly unlikely in the present scenario, the fact that their points in the end will count for little when it comes to qualifying for the final makes this situation almost status quo as far as their options are concerned.

For teams such as India who would normally view the series as something of a side note, a match practice essentially to test their bench strength, the points are a lucrative incentive, particularly when compared to other series and cricket boards where the bilateral series cricket calendar is not an even playing field. For Bangladesh, it is a case of take everything they can get and it still might not be enough to get them across the line. They must continue to draw their motivation elsewhere.

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News Cricket

Watch - Shoaib Akhtar dismisses Ali Zafar after entertaining tweet-war

Garima Kotroo Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:49 PM IST


The entertaining banter between former Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar and popular actor Ali Zafar has finally come to an end. The 44-year-old legendary pacer Akhtar, who was locked in the war of words with Ali Zafar on social media, accepted the challenge of young singer for a one-on-one cricket match .

Both of them had a friendly feud on Twitter and after a series of tweets, they finally slug it out on the field against each other. In that nerve-wrecking battle, Akhtar was seen in his usual form as he delivered the toe-crushing yorker to Zafar which rattled his stumps.

In his reply, Zafar also tried his best to derail the Rawalpindi Express and he shattered the iconic fast-bowler with a deadly bouncer.

Check out the latest video of Shoaib Akhtar- Ali Zafar's friendly cricket match.

Here’s see what Shoaib Akhtar said to Ali Zafar in a hilarious tweet-war.

Zafar was also quick to respond.

Feature Cricket

5 batsmen who can break Brian Lara’s record of 400

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:34 PM IST


Australian opener David Warner smashed a brilliant 335 not out against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval during the second Test of the series. Warner had hit the runs from 418 balls with 39 fours and a six. Had Aussie captain Tim Paine not declared the innings at 589 for 3, Warner could have challenged Brian Lara’s world record of 400. As the cricketing fraternity sings praises of the Australian southpaw, we look at five batsmen who could possibly challenge Lara’s historic score.

#5. Mayank Agarwal

Having toiled hard in domestic cricket for years, Indian opener Mayank Agarwal has demonstrated his hunger on the big stage in a short international career. The 28-year-old clearly wants to make up for lost time. In just nine Tests, since making his famous debut at Melbourne last year, Agarwal has compiled 872 runs at an average of 67.07 with three hundreds and as many fifties. Two of his centuries were converted into double hundreds. With his aptitude for scoring big, Agarwal could be one of the challengers to Lara’s record, perhaps the dark horse.

#4. David Warner

He nearly got there once, and there is no reason why he can’t get there again. After meeting the man himself (Lara) recently, David Warner admitted that he is hoping for one more shot at the Windies legend’s record. The advantage the opener has is that he scores big runs at a brisk pace. His 335 against Pakistan came at a strike rate of 80.14, and even his previous best of 253 against New Zealand was notched up at a strike rate of 88.46. Warner’s Test career strike rate itself stands at 73.60.

#3. Steve Smith

Another Aussie, the great Steve Smith, is also capable of crossing the 400 barrier. The former captain has an insatiable thirst for marathon runs, fuelled further by the unfortunate events of Newlands 2018. He made a sensational Ashes return, scoring 774 runs with three hundreds, including a double century. Earlier, in the 2014-15 home series against India, he had smashed 769 runs in four Tests. Smith’s passion to bat on and on makes him a serious contender to break Lara’s magical score.

#2. Rohit Sharma

The makeshift Indian Test opener has only just resurrected his Test career, but Rohit Sharma has been so impressive in his new role that he makes the short-list. The one thing that works heavily in Sharma’s favour is the fact that he is used to scoring monster runs in ODIs -- the only cricketer with three double hundreds in the format. Sharma recently notched up his maiden Test double hundred -- 212, which came off 255 balls against South Africa at a strike rate of 83.13. His dual talent of making sizeable runs at a swift pace could see him getting close to Lara’s record in the near future.

#1. Virat Kohli

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli also has the ability to become the first Indian to cross 400. The number one Test batsman, Kohli has as many as seven double hundreds in the longer format of the game. His best of 254 not out against South Africa came at a strike rate of 75.59. Before that, his 243 versus Delhi was scored off merely 287 balls, at a brilliant strike rate of 84.66. Like Warner and Sharma, Kohli also loves batting aggressively, and for long hours. His amazing consistency is what sets him apart from the rest and, on par with Smith.

Feature Cricket

Ganguly’s Lodha Rollback Agenda

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:12 PM IST


Even as there was euphoria in the mainstream media about Sourav Ganguly becoming a cricketer representative to occupy the top post in the BCCI, there was always a concern that Ganguly was already a seasoned administrator and would therefore, either act as one or having to toe the line with those who have held the post behind him. Those concerns have now come to the fore as the BCCI AGM has decided to appeal against the Lodha report reforms, not surprisingly including issues such as tenure for administrators as well as conflict of interest.

Sourav Ganguly appeared to be pro cricket. But there was always the contentious situation that as a former captain and administrator at the Cricket Association of Bengal under Jagmohan Dalmiya, Ganguly had moved on from his playing days to now becoming a full time administrator and therefore, thinking like one. While there was reason to believe that only a cricketer would understand the plight of his fellow players, it stands to good reason that just like all cricketers do not make great captains, every cricketer cannot be expected to act like a player when he dons the administrator’s hat.

Furthermore, while the world went gaga over Ganguly’s eventually unopposed election to the post, there was skepticism that he was being propped up as the face of reform but would be rendered a figurehead against forces and factions that have long ruled the BCCI as their personal fiefdom.

With N. Srinivasan and his cronies eyeing a backdoor entry, as well as the privileged post at the International Cricket Council (ICC) once more, it was expected that one of the items on the agenda of this obdurate former administrative stronghold would be rollbacking tenure to negate the cooling off period as prescribed by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha report as part of its recommendations to clean up cricket.

However, the BCCI’s first AGM under its own leadership has used the excuse of talented and experienced administrators being benched by the mandated cooling off period as well as the age cut off which has rendered administrators such as Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah out of the game. With the BCCI intent of appealing and reverting to their old ways, it is not hard to see why there has been such skeptical mutterings behind closed doors about how much of a change this appointment really is.

With the agenda of the BCCI blatantly put forth, while there is leeway for consideration when it comes to people such as Rahul Dravid, it is easy to see how the relaxing of the rules pertaining to conflict of interest, put in place to put cricket at the forefront, will bring back all of the old malaise.

Feature Cricket

The Problem with Smith’s Proxy Captaincy

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:11 PM IST


Brain fade became a buzz word after Steve Smith was caught on the wrong foot, looking over to the pavilion to ask advice for whether to go for a Decision Review System (DRS) referral. In yet another image that is not flattering to the former Australian captain is his upstaging his current captain in a faux pas of errors that is embarrassing for Cricket Australia.

For too long, it has been considered that Smith has had his weak moments when it comes to leadership, none more humiliating than when he was the captain that allowed the ball tampering sandpaper-gate fiasco to go ahead despite having full knowledge of the malicious planning behind the scenes.

Smith was castigated by more than one former Australian cricketer for showing weakness at the press conference as he confirmed Australia had been caught red handed and also, for throwing people under the bus by claiming it was a ‘leadership group’ that was responsible. While the Australians closed ranks claiming Smith should have taken the fall alone, the world viewed this another way.

To many, which other former Australian cricketers have confirmed in several interviews thereafter, this was a low moment in South Africa in 2018 and what happened in Cape Town in the course of the Newlands Test was simply a matter of time, when rather than if. While Candace Warner, David Warner’s wife, has laid responsibility for the family issues for the intense media scrutiny, the fact that these players brought not only a huge amount of ignominy upon themselves but also, brought the game itself into disrepute seems conveniently forgotten.

Smith and Ban served one year bans on the initiative of Cricket Australia which was also seen as being preemptive on the cricket board’s part to cover up the bigger story and also, to time it perfectly for the ban to conclude ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, the ban also stipulated neither Smith nor Warner could hold a leadership position for an additional year.

The public consensus, even in Australia, is that the whole truth never really came out and there were damaging pictures and camera footage that seemed to imply the involvement of more cricketers as well as the coach, who may have alerted the team on the field including Cameron Bancroft. The bowlers haven’t taken too kindly for insinuations that they could not have been aware that the nature of the ball was being deliberately changed.

Now there is more damaging evidence that suggests that when former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, accused Smith of white-anting the current Australian captain, Tim Paine, he was not passing an off-the-cuff remark to hurt the Ashes too scorer.

Evidence does suggest that Smith was not only involved in animated conversations with Paine in the course of the Pakistan Test series, particularly in the Adelaide Test. While it is not uncommon for senior team mates to be a part of the discussion and advisory groups close to the captain, what seems to incriminate Smith of acting as a captain by proxy is the evidence that suggests that he then supersedes the captain’s decisions by fine tuning the fielding settings of his own volition.

What makes this particularly problematic is that Tim Paine has made no bones about the fact that he was a reluctant stand-in skipper and there has been concern with so many twist and turns with Australia unable to have an appointed vice-captain seal a berth in the last five personnel, the call for Smith to return as captain is almost inevitable, time bound ban until April, 2019 notwithstanding.

Chappell’s red flag is important as it is glaring because it suggests that there is a proxy captaincy at play which is a violation of the ban and also, because it does undermine Paine’s position in the team which is never a good thing, particularly in a team that has been wrestling to unearth another player worthy of the coveted spot.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are similar as skippers - Yuzvendra Chahal

Staff Writer Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:10 PM IST


Yuzvendra Chahal has carved a niche for himself in the shorter formats of the game. The young Indian spinner is famous for his tricks in T20 internationals and it is not easy to hit him for boundaries. He will be seen in action in the upcoming T20I series against West Indies. He played a crucial role in Team India's win over Bangladesh in the last T20I series. Chahal has played under Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and feels they are pretty similar in captaincy. In his exclusive interview with Sportstar, the leggie shed light on the way Virat and Rohit lead India.

“They have a similar approach. Both of them give enough liberty to the bowlers. They back the bowlers to the hilt and give them the field placements they require, so there is not much of a difference. Maybe Virat is a bit more aggressive, Rohit isn’t. The thinking is the same — give the players the liberty and win matches for the team. They have always given me the opportunity to play freely, without thinking about anything else. That has always been helpful” Chahal told in an exclusive chat with Sportstar.

He has formed a deadly partnership with Kuldeep Yadav and the two are eager to perform well against visitors from the Caribbean Islands.

News Cricket

Aakash Chopra trolls Razzaq for his comment on Bumrah, says growing up is optional

Staff Writer Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:08 PM IST


Former Pakistan cricketer Abdul Razzaq is earning his bread and butter by targeting Indian players. His comments on Hardik Pandya didn't go down well with cricket fanatics and now his statement on Jasprit Bumrah has attracted sharp response from different quarters. He questioned the credentials of Bumrah, terming him as a baby bowler. The former all-rounder further claimed that he would have easily dominated Bumrah with his batting.

“I have played against great bowlers like Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram, so Bumrah is a baby bowler in front of me and I could have easily dominated and attacked him,” Razzaq was quoted as saying by Pak Passion.

He was taught a lesson from cricket lovers and one of the best replies came from former Indian player Aakash Chopra, who showed Razzaq his right place.

“Another fine example of the fact that growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional. Well played. ”

Meanwhile, Razzaq also spoke about the declining standard of cricket.

“If you speak to players from 1992 to 2007, they will tell you what cricket was. There were world-class players at that time. Now there are no longer world-class players. There is no depth in bowling, batting or fielding. It is all basic now.”

News Cricket

Rishabh Pant is a match-winner and its our responsibility to support him - Virat Kohli

Staff Writer Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:07 PM IST


The Indian skipper Virat Kohli has come out in support of Rishabh Pant after he was lambasted for his performance in the T20I series against South Africa and Bangladesh.

Virat Kohli feels he should be left alone and its the responsibility of India’s team management to take care of Pant.

The left-handed batsman was drafted in the side after MS Dhoni decided to take a break from cricket. However, he has failed to live up to the expectations.

Ahead of the T20I series against Kieron Pollard’s team, Virat spoke about Pant.

"We certainly believe in Rishabh's ability. As you say, it's (also) the player's responsibility to do well but our responsibility is to give him space, to support him. He should get support and it is disrespectful if you don't get it," said Kohli.

"As Rohit (Sharma) said recently, he needs to be left alone, he is a match-winner. Once he comes good, you will see a very different version of him. He can't be isolated to such an extent that he doesn't do well. We are here to do things for him," he added.

News Cricket

Watch: Tabraiz Shamsi performs crazy magic trick after dismissing opponent

Staff Writer Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:04 PM IST


Tabraiz Shamsi has become famous for his different and unique celebration styles. The South African spinner has introduced a lot of crazy styles in the last few years. From using his shoe to call Imran Tahir to wearing a mask, he has done a lot after dismissing his rival batsman.

He is representing Paarl Rocks in the ongoing Mzansi Super League and added another unique celebration to his never ending kitty. He performed a magic trick on the field which surprised everyone.

After dismissing David Miller, he turned a handkerchief into a stick. Despite his performance, Durban Heat went on to beat Paarl Rocks by six wickets.

"I have always been fascinated by magic and different tricks. From the age of about 15 or 16, I wanted to become a magician as it was a hobby of mine," he said about his style.

“It wasn't just a phase, but something that really interested me as a small child. I still love it, but cricket obviously took over after that. Entertaining on the field is just my way of taking the pressure off myself and being able to enjoy things. I feel like when I am myself, I am able to play my best cricket."

News Cricket

Stop comparing Rishabh Pant with Dhoni or Saha - Former Indian stumper

Garima Kotroo Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:03 PM IST


Ever since the legendary cricketer MS Dhoni took a long-break from cricket, young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant was given the responsibility to fill his boots. But the 22-year-old left-hander has failed to meet the expectations in the past few tournaments.

He has witnessed a steep fall in his performance. Pant was dropped from the Test squad after he failed to improve his display.

While everyone is criticizing his recent form, former wicket-keeper Kiran More has come forward in his support.

"Pant is a talented wicket-keeper. Don't forget he is only 22 and don't compare him with Dhoni or Saha”. More is working with Pant to improve his stumping as well as batting skills.

He feels that the southpaw needs some time to settle down and it is not right to compare him with experienced players.

In the upcoming limited-overs series against Kieron Pollard’s team, all eyes will be on Rishabh Pant.

The youngster will have to perform in this series as another failure could lead to his axing.

News Cricket

Tainted cricketer Sharjeel Khan to lecture Pakistan team on anti-corruption code

Tarun Singh Updated: 5 December, 2019, 4:02 PM IST


After completing his ban for spot-fixing, Sharjeel Khan has been told by the PCB to lecture his teammates on anti-Corruption code as a part of his rehabilitation program.

“Sharjeel will not only meet with the players but also share his experience with them and lecture them on why players need to adhere to the Anti-Corruption code clauses,” a source in the PCB said.

The source revealed that Sharjeel can return to playing domestic cricket and the Pakistan Super League after sharing his experience and making other players understand the importance to adhere to the anti-corruption code.

The 30-year-old left-handed opener Khan was banned for five years from all forms of cricket after being found guilty for spot-fixing in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017.

However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has suspended half of the five-year ban imposed on him.

As a part of his rehabilitation program, Sharjeel Khan has already delivered many lectures to domestic players and under-19 cricketers on anti-Corruption code besides attending many Anti-Corruption classes himself during the course of his ban.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has drafted Sharjeel Khan's name for the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League starting from December 6 in Lahore.

News Cricket

I am not here to replace Hardik Pandya - Shivam Dube

Garima Kotroo Updated: 5 December, 2019, 1:40 PM IST


After making an electrifying debut in the last T20I series against Bangladesh, Indian all-rounder Shivam Dube has joined the Men in Blue for the upcoming three-match T20I series against Windies. However, Dube didn’t get enough chances to show his batting prowess in the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, but he performed exceedingly well as a bowler.

The talented debutant has gained a lot of popularity with his excellent show in the limited chances he has got so far. With this, Dube’s fans even speculated that he will replace Hardik Pandya in the Indian set-up. But, the 26-year-old southpaw, doesn’t think that it is an opportunity to replace Pandya as he just wants to do well for his country.

"I don't think it's an opportunity to replace Hardik but I think I have got a chance and I will try to do well for my country. I have got a job for my country and I will try to do that better."

The star Indian cricketer Hardik Pandya is currently recovering from his back surgery. He suffered a severe lower back pain during the final T20I encounter against South Africa after which he underwent a successful surgery in London.

Dube has a great chance to make his mark as a terrific all-rounder in the absence of Hardik Pandya. India will play its first T20I match of the upcoming three-match series against West Indies on December 6 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad and Dube is confident of India's win in the series.

News Cricket

Razzaq targets another Indian cricketer, says Virat not in the same class as Sachin

Tarun Singh Updated: 5 December, 2019, 1:35 PM IST


Former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who became a laughing stock on Twitter after calling India’s ‘Yorker-King’ Jasprit Bumrah a ‘baby bowler’, has raised eyebrows on Virat Kohli this time.

In his controversial statement, Razzaq believes that Virat Kohli doesn’t have the same class as the former Indian ‘Batting Maestro’ Sachin Tendulkar.

However, he admitted that Kohli is consistent and a good player for Team India, but he feels Virat Kohli is not as great as Sachin Tendulkar.

The 40-year old Abdul Razzaq futher spoke about the declining standard of cricket worldwide. "We are not seeing the same world-class players that we played against say between 1992 to 2007. T20 cricket has changed the game. There is no depth in bowling, batting or fielding. It is all basic now.

"Look at Virat Kohli when he scores, he scores. Yeah, he is a good player for them and is performing consistently, but I don't place him in the same class as Sachin Tendulkar, who was a different class altogether."

The ‘master blaster’ Sachin struck a century of centuries in international cricket and nobody stands even near to his century’s record.

However, the 31-year-old Virat Kohli, is also considered as one of the greatest batsmen in the modern era.

A comparison between Kohli and Sachin is unfair as both have played in different eras and are different personalities altogether.

News Cricket

Largest cricket stadium to open in March, can restart games within 30 minutes of rain

Garima Kotroo Updated: 5 December, 2019, 1:14 PM IST


The largest cricket stadium is all set to open in India. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is planning to unveil the new Sardar Patel Stadium in the month of March. It will have the capacity of 1.10 lakh spectators. This iconic stadium, which is also known as Gujarat Stadium or Motera stadium, has been renamed in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

The chief of BCCI, Sourav Ganguly recently paid a visit to the stadium along with secretary Jay Shah and reviewed the construction process. He also had a quick look at the facilities during the inspection of the under-construction site.

The new stadium will have three practice grounds for the players along with an indoor cricket academy, four dressing rooms and 73 corporate boxes . Not only this, the complex will also introduce a solar-powered plant in order to utilize the power efficiently.

It will also have advanced drainage facilities that will flush out rain water in 30 minutes.

Once the new Sardar Patel stadium will be inaugurated, it will surpass the Melbourne Cricket Ground's capacity of 1,00,000 spectators. The governing body of Indian cricket is planning to host Asia XI and World XI on the occasion of its inauguration. However, the game, is yet to be approved by the International Cricket Council.


News Cricket

Is visa on arrival? Ashwin mocks rape accused Nithyananda as he sets up own Hindu nation

Tarun Singh Updated: 5 December, 2019, 12:49 PM IST


Swami Nithyananda, a self-styled Godman and a rape accused, has bought an island in South America and named it as ‘Kailasa’ for Hindu followers.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a dig at Swami Nithyananda and asked him if visa on arrival was available.

“What is the procedure to get visa? Or is it on arrival? #Kailaasa,” he wrote.

The controversial Godman has also created a website of his new nation that claims ‘Kailasa’ to be a nation without borders created by dispossessed Hindus from around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries”.

Ashwin could see the funny side of the whole episode and gave Twitter users an interesting topic to comment on.

The Indian agencies are working with the foreign ministry to bring him back as Nithyananda has fled the country after being accused of wrongful activities.

News Football

Mourinho loses in Old Trafford return; Liverpool win derby

AP Updated: 5 December, 2019, 10:17 AM IST


Jose Mourinho was standing on the edge of his technical area near the halfway line when Manchester United midfielder Daniel James came sliding off the field and clattered head-first into the right knee of the Portuguese coach.

Mourinho just about stayed on his feet but grimaced as he clutched his knee before hobbling away.

It was a rough return to Old Trafford for the former United manager .

Two weeks into his time at Tottenham and Mourinho has finally lost a game — and it just had to be against the club that fired him a year ago.

United won 2-1 to end Tottenham’s run of three wins since the arrival of Mourinho, with Marcus Rashford scoring both of the home team’s goals and celebrating them maybe with a little dig at his old manager.

“Doubters just spur me on,” Rashford wrote on Twitter after the match, potentially a reference to Mourinho who, in one standout incident during his time at United, turned his back to Rashford and folded his arms in disgust after the striker missed an easy chance in a Champions League match against Young Boys in November last year. Less than a month later, Mourinho was fired.

Tottenham, which slipped to eighth place and behind United in the standings, has now conceded two goals in each of the four games Mourinho has been in charge — a statistic that must concern a coach who usually sets his teams up to defend resolutely.

If Tottenham can't stop allowing goals, Liverpool can't stop scoring them.

The unbeaten leaders netted four goals in the first half and added a fifth late on in a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby to stay eight points clear of Leicester, which beat last-place Watford 2-0.

Liverpool scored five in a league game against Everton at home for the first time since 1965, despite leaving out two of the team’s formidable attacking trio — Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino — as well as captain Jordan Henderson.

Everton couldn’t take advantage and slipped into the relegation zone on another dark day for its under-pressure manager Marco Silva, who might not stay in the job after this latest loss given the manner of his team’s defending at Anfield.

There were also wins for Chelsea and Wolves — the teams in fourth and fifth place, respectively — while Southampton beat Norwich in a match between relegation contenders.