A round-up of today's other stories in brief

England level series after patient knock by Cook

Alastair Cook’s patient knock of 78 yesterday anchored a well-executed England run chase of 270 to beat New Zealand by eight wickets in the second one-day international at McLean Park, levelling the three-match series at 1-1.

England’s bowlers, particularly James Anderson, had done a superb job to dismiss New Zealand for 269 in 48.5 overs at a small venue with short square boundaries, where a score of at least 300 was needed to set a competitive total.

Joe Root (79 not out) then picked up from where Cook left off when the captain was dismissed by Tim Southee, while Jonathan Trott finished on 65 not out as England easily chased down the total for the loss of two wickets in 47.4 overs.

England’s victory ensured the series finale at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday would be a decider after New Zealand won the first match in Hamilton on Sunday by three wickets.

New Zealand’s innings was dominated by Ross Taylor’s 100, his seventh one day international century, and a brutal 74 from 36 deliveries by captain Brendon McCullum, but it was well short of a ground that consistently yields innings in excess off 300.

Ireland thoughts turn to India after 13-0 rout of Fiji

While Ireland equalled their largest ever senior men's victory with a 13-0 rout of Fiji, coach Andrew Meredith said the result will have "no relevance" for tonight's huge date with India.

It makes it two wins from two in the World League Round Two for Meredith's side following Monday's 5-2 success against Bangladesh as Alan Sothern grabbed his second hat-trick in two games while nine players in total were on the mark. Among them was Eugene Magee, who became the most capped Irish international in his 164th game.

The target remains overall victory from the six-team round-robin pool to ensure qualification for round three, though second place looks likely to advance, too. To this end, Bangladesh's surprise win over China provided a welcome bonus.

Meredith said: "It will be a game where the details matter and who defends better will win tomorrow. We're looking to defend a bit better but we have created a lot of opportunities in the last couple of games and I don't expect it to be so open."

IRELAND: D Fitzgerald, J Jackson, G McCabe, R Gormley, M Watt, C Cargo, E Magee, C Harte, S Loughrey, D Carson, S O'Donoghue. Subs: A Sothern, B McCandless, M Darling, P Maguire, P Gleghorne, P Brown, D Harte

Back injury forces Williams to withdraw

TENNIS:Serena Williams withdrew from the Dubai Championships because of a lower back injury just minutes before she was due on court for a second-round match against French woman Marion Bartoli yesterday.

The American’s withdrawal means that the world’s two best players are both out of the tournament after Victoria Azarenka, who beat Williams in the Qatar Open final on Sunday, also pulled out earlier in the week with a foot injury.

Williams, the newly installed world number one, aims to return at the Sony Ericsson Open, which starts in Miami on March 18th.

Bartoli will now play Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals after the Dane routed Chinese qualifier Zheng Jie 6-0, 6-1.

Mayweather to have six fights in 30 months

BOXING:Floyd Mayweather will fight six bouts over a 30-month period that could make the eight-time world champion the richest individual athlete in the world.

The 35-year-old will fight Mexican welterweight Robert Guerrero in the first of these bouts on May 4th.

The Guerrero fight will be Mayweather's first since beating Miguel Cotto for the WBA light-middleweight title by unanimous decision in May last year, extending his record to 43-0 (26 KOs).

The American then served a two-month prison sentence for domestic violence before he was released on August 3rd.The new television deal sees Mayweather, who holds the WBC welterweight and WBA light middleweight belts, leave HBO for Showtime.

Bulgarian federation president stands ground on Olympic snub

WRESTLING:Bulgarian wrestling federation president Valentin Yordanov sent back his Olympic gold medal from the 1996 Atlanta Games yesterday, protesting against the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation to drop the sport from the Games.

"As a sign of protest I am returning my gold medal, won at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne," seven-time world champion Yordanov wrote in a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge shown at an emotional news conference.

The wrestling world was shocked last week when the IOC made a surprise recommendation to drop the sport from 2020.

"With this act I express my solidarity with the millions of athletes and fans of our sport who are condemning the recommendation of the IOC," added the 53-year-old.

"Our sport is an integral part of the Olympic movement and one of the foundations of both the ancient and modern Olympics."

Bulgarian wrestlers have won 16 Olympic titles, making wrestling the most successful sport in the Balkan country.

Fury primed for Madison Square eliminator against Cunningham

Unbeaten Irish and British heavyweight champion Tyson Fury can’t wait to add his name to the list of champions that have fought at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Fury, who has the distinction of boxing for Ireland and England in the amateur ranks, will meet ex Cruiserweight World champion Steve Cunningham at the iconic venue on April 20th.

The fight is an official IBF eliminator for the number-two position. The winner must meet the number one or available contender to establish the mandatory challenger for heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko.

“Cunningham’s got all the tools; a former world champion, good fighter, he’s got a lot of skill. I’m looking to put on a devastating performance; the best of my career to date,” said Fury.

“I’m a historian of boxing myself so this is definitely the pinnacle of my career so far,” added the giant 6ft 9in fighter.

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