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Pakistan to face Sri Lanka in Blind Cricket World Cup semis

Monitoring Desk

AJMAN: Pakistan are facing Sri Lanka in the semifinal of the Blind Cricket World Cup on Wednesday (today) at Ajman, UAE.

Sri Lanka elected to field first after winning the toss and invited Pakistan to bat first, who are fresh off the back of a world record victory against Australia.

Earlier, on Sunday, Pakistan blind team outclasses Australian team by 393 runs after posting a record total of 563-4 in 40 overs. Aamir Ashfaq smashed a brilliant 208, while Sana hit 143 and Haroon 105. In reply, the Aussies were dismissed for 170 runs.

In the second semifinal of the tournament today, Bangladesh won the toss and decided to bat against India.

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Afghanistan to play first test match in June against India at Bengaluru

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghanistan Cricket Team will play its first international test match against India in June 14 this year. The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) confirmed the report by informing the fans through twitter.

Last year in June, Afghanistan and Ireland joined full member club of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and taking the total number of Test-playing countries to 12.

Afghanistan only gained full one-day international (ODI) status in 2011 and in 2015, Afghanistan took part in their first 50-over World Cup and they have also played in the World Twenty20 competition.

Chairman ACB, Atif Mashal said on his twitter account that on June 14 the nation will witness another historic moment in Afghan cricket when Afghanistan face India in a test match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.


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Pele backs Brazil to win sixth World Cup

Monitoring Desk

RIO DE JANEIRO: Footballing legend Pele said that Brazil are favourites to win the World Cup in Russia, four years on from their humiliation on home soil.

Five-time winners Brazil were thrashed 7-1 in the 2014 semi-finals by eventual champions Germany at the Maracana, but Pele, considered one of the best players of all time, insisted that new coach Tite has formed a team ready to put his country´s painful memories to rest.

“Those who are Brazilian and believe in Brazil always point to Brazil as the favourites,” the 77-year-old said while attending the opening ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro league on Monday.

The Selecao romped to qualification as winners of the South American group, with Tite building an exciting side featuring the world´s most expensive player Neymar and new Barcelona signing Philippe Coutinho.

“One of the good things that happened was the arrival of Tite, he´s making a team,” Pele added. “In the last World Cup we had the best players in the world but the team was disorganised. “It seems that now we´ll have a team and a Selecao that gives us confidence.”

Pele, who won three World Cups with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970, has been struggling with ill health and Monday was his first public appearance with a zimmer frame, having attended December´s World Cup draw in a wheelchair.

“I´m fine, thank goodness, and I want to thank all those who sent me messages wishing me a good recovery from all over the world,” he said.

Pele, who scored over 1,000 goals during his career, also claimed that modern football produces fewer great players than in his era, despite the presence of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

“Today, there are only three players who really stand out; Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar,” he said. “Before, at the time of Cruyff or Beckenbauer, there were three in each team.”

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Shoaib Malik narrowly escapes head injury

Monitoring Desk

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket teams all rounder Shoaib Malik narrowly escaped head injury while trying to take a run as he was hit on his head with a wayward throw during the fourth one day international against New Zealand at Hamilton on Tuesday. Shoaib was assessed on field by match doctor and team physio.

“He did not show any sign of concussion and was able to carry on playing”, said a spokesman of the Pakistan Cricket Board here. After getting out he was re-assessed and was showing delayed concussion signs. He was doing well and resting, he stated. As advised by match doctor and team physio Shoaib will not be taking any further part in this match, he added.

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Mitchell Johnson pulls out of PSL 3

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Australian pacer Mitchel Johnson has pulled out of the upcoming edition of Pakistan Super League.

Sources privy to the matter have confirmed to media that Johnson, who was picked by Karachi Kings, has informed the PSL management of his unavailability. “Mitchel has informed the PSL that he needs some rest before the much attractive and lucrative Indian Premier League,” said one source.

The Australian fast bowler, who was in the platinum category of players for the PSL was picked by Karachi Kings after demoting to the Diamond category for the third season. Sources believe that Mitchell Johnson was unhappy over being demoted from the platinum category to the diamond category of players.

“This can be one understandable reason that he wasn’t happy about his category. He might have come if he was in platinum,” said a source. “Another reason was his unwelcoming relationship with Karachi Kings’ coach Mickey Arthur over an infamous homeworkgate scandal.

Johnson was one of four players suspended for the third Test of the 2013 tour of India along with Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson.

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U19 World Cup: Afridi stars as Pakistan humiliate Ireland

Monitoring Desk

WHANGAREI: Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi decimated the Irish batting line-up and guided Pakistan to a comfortable nine-wicket win in the International Cricket Council (ICC) U19 World Cup Group D match in Whangarei on Tuesday.

After deciding to bowl first in bowling friendly conditions, the Boys in Green remained on top and never gave Ireland any relief throughout their innings with immaculate line and length. Harry Tector’s men were eventually bowled out for just 97 in the 29th over, as JoshuaLittle finished with the top score of 24 off 20 balls with the help of two fours and one six.

For Pakistan, Afridi was the star of the show as he claimed figures of six for 15 in his 8.3 overs, which included three maidens as well, whereas captain Hassan Khan claimed three wickets with his tidy left-arm spin.

In reply, the Boys in Green cruised to the target in less than nine overs at the loss of just one wicket. Opener Muhammad Zaid finished the innings with the top score of 43 not out off 19 balls with the help of seven fours and one six. For his outstanding bowling performance, Afridi was named player of the match.


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Happy to be visiting Pakistan again, says Dutch Hockey Legend

ISLAMABAD (APP): Former Netherlands penalty corner specialist Floris Jan Bovelander shared his excitement regarding coming back to Pakistan as part of World XI tour.

“I am very happy to be back in Pakistan,” he said in a video statement shared by Pakistan Hockey Federation, private news channel reported. Bovelander can be seen in the video sitting in his office with a picture of Netherlands match against Pakistan in the background. Pointing towards the picture, he said: “As you can see in office here some good memories from the 90s and the 80s….this one [hanging picture is] from Olympics 1988 playing Pakistan.

“Of course, one of our finest moments in Lahore winning the world cup and beating Pakistan. Four years later, Pakistan beats us in final world cup. Good memories for Holland and Pakistani hockey.” The hockey legend also remarked that he believes that “Pakistan should be always at the top of hockey. Hopefully, with this event and with support from all of us, Pakistan hockey will be back.”

He shared that he looks forward to meeting friends and revisiting memories in Pakistan. “Hope this aspires the children, and [proves to be] motivation for youth to get back to hockey.” Bovelander was a part of the Dutch national squad which secured two gold medals at 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. During his career, Bovelander played 241 international matches for the Netherlands and scored a total of 216 goals.

Earlier, Netherlands’ Matthijs Brouwer and Rob Reckers along with New Zeland’s Kyle Pontifex and Phillip Ross Burrows had shared their excitement to visit Pakistan. The World XI will visit Pakistan on a three-day visit during which it will play two exhibition matches against the current Pakistan hockey team. The international players will arrive in Pakistan on January 19.


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New Zealand comprehensively defeat Pakistan in 4th ODI

Monitoring Desk

HAMILTON: New Zealand defeated Pakistan in the fourth ODI which was played at Hamilton on Tuesday and looking for a clean sweep after getting 4-0 leading the series.

Pakistan put a improved batting show after giving 263 target for the opponent with the help of Fakhar Zaman, Harris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Muhammad Hafeez fifties.

In reply New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro saw New Zealand off to a steady start before Shadab Khan struck to remove both of them, bringing Pakistan back into the game in defense of 262.

Shadab struck again to send Tom Latham back to the pavilion, with New Zealand at 99-4.  The Kiwis were looking stable again but Haris Sohail dismissed captain Kane Williamson for 32 to reduce the hosts to 154-5.

Henry Nicholls (52*) and Colin de Grandhomme (74*) then put the Black Caps in total command as they chased down the target without any further loss.

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Ruthless Nadal powers to first round win at Australian Open

Monitoring Desk

MELBOURNE: Top seed Rafael Nadal ruthlessly brushed aside Victor Estrella Burgos to power into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

The world No.1, a beaten finalist to Roger Federer in Melbourne last year, clinically took apart the 81st-ranked Dominican to forge a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 win in 94 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. He next plays Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. “I’m very happy to be back, it’s a very important beginning for me. It’s good news for me,” he said. “I want to enjoy every moment I’m here on this court.”

The Spaniard left nothing to chance with eight service breaks and 28 winners in a complete first-up performance, dispelling fears over any knee trouble. Nadal, 31, wore no strapping on his knee, appeared to move freely and combined his trademark power game from the back of the court.

It took his Australian Open record to 52-11 as he chases his second Melbourne Park title after beating Federer in the 2009 final. Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season. It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Open.

Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking, with Federer breathing down his neck.

Nadal only conceded three games in the match and had few problems with Estrella Burgos, who has a modest 6-15 record at Grand Slams.

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Sarfraz Ahmed must improve, says Younus

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Legendary batsman Younus Khan has urged current national team captain Sarfraz Ahmed to start performing on a personal level, otherwise his spot in the team may come under question.

Younus, whose UBL side won the National One Day Departmental Cup on Sunday, was quick to point out that this is more or less the same group of players that won the Champions Trophy last year and were on a nine-match winning streak going into the New Zealand series.

Pakistan’s most prolific Test batsman did say that the team is underperforming but felt some leeway must be afforded to them due to the unfamiliar nature of the conditions they are currently playing in. “Pakistani batsmen have almost always found it difficult to play against New Zealand in New Zealand,” he said. “The conditions there are quite different and are arguably even tougher than what you find in England, South Africa or even Australia.”

Younus urged fans and the media to support the players in their time of need. “They should be backed right now rather than being bashed by everyone,” he said. “However, they should be adopting to the conditions better; they can’t just keep using that as an excuse every time they travel anywhere. They will have to work hard on the skills required to flourish on such pitches. Their technique needs to improve, just blaming the conditions after every defeat won’t suffice.”

The World T20-winning skipper also discussed the performances of skipper Sarfraz, stating that they need to improve. “Sarfraz was instrumental in the Champions Trophy coming to Pakistan but in recent matches his performances have been anything but satisfactory,” said Younus.

“He needs to concentrate on his own game and improve quickly. As a captain, you have added responsibility since the level of your individual performance may have an impact on the performance of the rest of the team. Sarfraz will have to give himself time and work further on his skill-set and fitness.” Younus was quick to offer up his own services to the national team if they are required in any way. “I am working with UBL and will always be available for the national team if they want to hire me as their batting coach,” said the veteran.