Lewis spearheads Windies to T20 win

Opening batsman Evin Lewis smashed 12 sixes in an unbeaten century as the West Indies beat India by nine wickets in a one-off Twenty20 international in Jamaica on Sunday.


Lewis upstaged hometown hero Chris Gayle by smashing 125 not out off 62 deliveries, a run rate of more than two per ball as he scored the third-highest total in a T20 international.

West Indies won with nine balls to spare, making 1-194 off 18.3 overs in reply to India’s 6-190 at Sabina Park in Kingston, Lewis clinching the victory in style by sweeping spinner Ravindra Jadeja over the boundary rope.

The 25-year-old Trinidadian became the third player to score two T20 international centuries, after Gayle and New Zealander Brendon McCullum.

Only Australians Aaron Finch (156) and Glenn Maxwell (145 not out) have recorded higher scores.

Gayle, in his first appearance for the Windies since they won the World Twenty20 15 months ago, compiled a relatively subdued 18 off 20 balls, while Marlon Samuels chipped in with 36 not out.

The West Indies might have become easy-beats in Test cricket, but they showed on Sunday how dangerous they can be in the shortest version of the sport, especially with the bat.

“Five games in a row, in the ODIs, I didn’t do well but I kept believing in my ability and today I came out trumps,” Lewis said, referring to his slim pickings in the one-day international series that preceded the one-off T20.

West Indies captain Carlos Brathwaite revealed he had offered his batsmen a sweetener.

“Yesterday we asked for the batters to go out and express themselves,” Brathwaite said.

“I gave them the captain’s incentive, whoever goes and gets a 50 gets half my match fee. We wanted to put smiles on the faces of the fans.”

India captain Virat Kohli scored 39 off 22 balls as his team wrapped up their short Caribbean tour on a sour note after they won the ODI series 3-1.

“West Indies have a good T20 team,” Kohli said. “They have carried on with the same team for a couple of years, and in experimental stage we’ve had ups and downs.”

Lions boss Gatland holds head high

Warren Gatland believes he might be the only coach who could have guided the British and Irish Lions to their Test series draw with New Zealand.


The Lions boss admitted there were times he hated the 2017 tour of his homeland, where the local media turned criticism personal on a number of occasions.

Gatland had always expected a certain level of flak as a Kiwi leading the tourists, but not the invective that came his way as the Lions won the second Test 24-21 and then drew Saturday’s final clash 15-15 to seal a share of the spoils.

However, the Wales boss conceded he knew the risks associated with taking the Lions head coaching job for a second-straight tour, especially after claiming a series win in Australia in 2013.

“I thought it was a hiding to nothing,” said Gatland of opting to lead the Lions for a second tour in succession.

“It is one of those positions that you are offered and it’s very difficult to walk away from.

“Trying to win in New Zealand is the ultimate challenge.

“When I reflected on it I felt if I wasn’t offered the position it would have been fine. Once I was offered the job you can’t walk away from that sort of challenge, particularly someone like myself when you are competitive.

“I think if anyone else had been doing it, we might not have drawn the series.”

The New Zealand Herald mocked up Gatland as a clown in a front-page caricature that upset the Lions boss given its direct personal nature.

Gatland has stated throughout the tour, however, that the Lions received a fine welcome from the New Zealand people – and he even insisted he maintains a good relationship with All Blacks boss Steve Hansen.

Gatland firmly believes he was able to turn his understanding of the New Zealand psyche to the tourists’ advantage, and will now leave the Land of the Long White Cloud feeling vindicated by his performance as Lions boss.

The Lions have still only ever won one Test series in New Zealand, back in 1971. But their 2017 draw now ranks as their second-most successful return against the All Blacks.

Quiet as southern Syria ceasefire begins ahead of Geneva talks

A monitor said clashes and shelling had halted in the three southern provinces covered by the truce, Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida, as it went into effect at noon local time.


The ceasefire deal was announced Friday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and comes as Syrian government and opposition delegations are due to attend a new round of talks in Geneva from Monday.

“The main fronts in the three provinces between regime forces and opposition factions have seen a cessation of hostilities and shelling since this morning, with the exception of a few scattered shells fired on Daraa city before noon,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The monitor said the ceasefire was holding by early Sunday evening. In Washington, US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday that he was pleased fighting had not resumed.

“Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting. Good!” he tweeted.

The Syrian regime had announced its own unilateral ceasefire on Monday but fighting had continued on front lines in the three provinces.

The ceasefire deal comes after regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey agreed during talks in May in the Kazakh capital Astana to set up four “de-escalation” zones in Syria.

Syrian ceasefire seems to be holding. Many lives can be saved. Came out of meeting. Good!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2017

Implementation of that deal has been delayed as the three sides try to agree who will monitor the zones, one of which is located in southern Syria.

Rebels concerned

There has been no official comment from Syria’s government on the announcement, and there was no mention of the ceasefire on state television’s noon news bulletin.

The Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime, quoted the head of Syria’s parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee suggesting the agreement was negotiated in consultation with Damascus.

“No details on the agreement were presented, but the Syrian state has background on it,” Boutros Marjana told the newspaper.

“The final word on adding southern Syria to the ‘de-escalation’ zones belongs to the Syrian state, and there is coordination with Russia on that,” he added.

Smoke rise from Syrian village as a result of fighting near the city of Quneitra, in the Golan HeightsAAP

On Friday, before the ceasefire deal was announced, a delegation of rebel factions that attended talks in Astana expressed opposition to any ceasefire for just one part of the country.

In a statement, the factions said they were concerned about “secret meetings and understandings between Russia, Jordan and America on a deal for the south of Syria, separate from the north.”

Such an agreement “would divide Syria, as well as the delegation and the opposition, in two.”

‘Suitable atmosphere for talks’

The United States has largely stepped back from involvement in the diplomatic process to resolve the Syrian conflict since President Donald Trump took office in January.

Trump said he had discussed the conflict with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in a series of tweets on Sunday, two days after they met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

“We negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria which will save lives,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!”

Earlier on Saturday, Trump’s national security adviser HR McMaster had described ceasefire zones as “a priority for the United States”.


Washington’s involvement in the agreement has been interpreted as a sign it may be cautiously re-engaging with efforts to end the war, which has killed more than 320,000 people since it began in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

Jordan borders the southern area covered by the truce and is a key supporter of the main moderate rebel faction there.

Israel, which has occasionally launched what it describes as retaliatory fire against government positions in Quneitra province, said it would “welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria”.

“But this ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

A UN official on Saturday said the deal created positive momentum ahead of the Geneva talks resuming.

“It helps create a suitable atmosphere for the talks, and we will see that on Monday,” said Ramzi Ezzedine Ramzi, deputy to UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

Expectations for the seventh round of UN-sponsored talks remain low however, with little prospect of a major breakthrough.


Respect earned at home, Gatland ponders third Lions tour

The 53-year-old now has a Lions coaching record rivalled only by the great Ian McGeechan after leading the tourists to a triumph in Australia four years ago and the stalemate with the All Blacks in an epic series over the last three weeks.


The Lions lost the first test 30-15, won the second 24-21 and drew the third 15-15 to share the series.

After speaking at length of his pride at what the squad had achieved in rugby’s “ultimate challenge”, and how he thought they had earned respect in his homeland, the New Zealander was asked about his own future.

He reaffirmed that the 2019 World Cup would bring an end to his time in charge of Wales before being asked whether he might want to complete “the set” of Lions tours in 2021.

“There’s a possibility that there’s an opportunity there again, and it’s something that you might consider,” Gatland, looking a little bleary-eyed after a late night out celebrating the end of the tour, told reporters at the team hotel on Sunday.

“Obviously the South Africa thing’s a little bit easier in terms of the timeframes and stuff and travelling. But we’d hope we don’t let the next four years go before we start planning and putting things into place.

“Those discussions need to happen now, about just having some reasonable preparation time,” he added..

“I’m not being stupid, as a coach, I wouldn’t be asking for a month. I think just a week in the UK or Ireland beforehand and a week in South Africa before the first game is reasonable.

“And maybe not have a midweek game in the first week before the test so we can prepare properly. Hopefully the powers in the game will act to preserve something that is special.”

One thing Gatland would be unable to bring to bear in South Africa would be the knowledge of the local psyche he thought had been vital to the squad’s success against the world champions.

“I think if anybody else was doing it then we probably might not have drawn the series,” he said.

“I think you’ve got to reflect on that and say that’s a pretty good achievement in terms of playing the best team in the world in their own backyard and drawing the series, particularly having lost the first test,” he added.

“We all said how important it was to win that first test, so to win the second test and draw the third was a great achievement.”


Gatland said his ears had pricked up last week when he heard opposite number Steve Hansen talking about how “the sun would still come up” if New Zealand lost the third test.

“Those were comments you don’t hear very often coming out of the All Blacks camp,” he said.

“I think we’d earned that respect for them to make those sort of comments. The thing about the All Blacks is they never worried about the opposition, always about themselves, always picked a team for themselves.

“We felt that we’d forced them to play a bit differently, they’d picked a team to combat some of our strengths and they don’t normally do that. And I think that’s a sign of respect for what we’ve achieved as a team.”

It was an immensely tough tour, Gatland said, which he “hated” at times, especially when he was the subject of personal attacks from the local media which he found “hard to take”.

The experience the Lions players had accumulated in the heat of the battle on the 10-match tour, he thought, would hold them in good stead when they faced the All Blacks again in the colours of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

“You get belief and confidence from performances. The mind is pretty powerful in that regard,” he said.

“For a lot of those players that have now beaten the All Blacks, drawn with the All Blacks, they can start communicating how to do that as players.

“What’s great about some of these players is that they have now been on two Lions tours and they haven’t been beaten. That’s something pretty special and something they can hold onto.

“And for some of them, they can start thinking about South Africa in four year’s time.”

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Brazilian port where slaves arrived given UNESCO status

The Valongo wharf in Rio de Janeiro where slaves from Africa first arrived in Brazil has been added to the list of World Heritage sites, UNESCO announced on Sunday.


The committee of the UN cultural body, meeting in Krakow, Poland, said Valongo was a reminder of the estimated 900,000 Africans who were brought there by slave traders starting in 1811.

The old stone wharf “is the most important physical trace of the arrival of African slaves on the American continent,” UNESCO said on its website.

For Valongo, the world heritage honour makes it a twin with Ile de Goree, a small island near Dakar harbour that was chosen in 1978 as the emblem of the departure points for slaves from west Africa on their way to the Americas.

Valongo deserved the recognition like Auschwitz and Hiroshima “to make us remember those parts of the history of humanity that must not be forgotten,” historian Katia Bogea, head of Brazil’s national heritage institute (IPHAN) told the UNESCO committee.

Today the Valongo site is not on the water, but well inland, following expansion of the original city. The remains were only discovered by accident in 2011 during massive works to refurbish the port area for the 2016 Olympics.

Historians had known that this was the area where the biggest slave trade in the Americas was centred, but few Brazilians were aware. Nearby, a couple discovered by chance that their house was sitting on a mass grave of what could be tens of thousands of slaves.

Valongo is where the slaves, often emaciated and sick after the voyage, were taken to be quarantined, sorted and sold.

“It’s a unique memorial, containing the last remaining vestiges of the slaves’ arrival,” anthropologist Milton Guran recently told AFP.

Guran also pointed to a far reaching consequence to UNESCO status: “It will oblige Brazil to recognize its African roots” and will also encourage educational tourism.