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Ashes series under threat from Australia pay dispute, says players union – report

MELBOURNE (AFP): Australia’s cricketers union is reportedly warning its players this summer’s home Ashes series might be scrapped, even if a new pay deal can be reached tentatively with Cricket Australia (CA).

According to Fairfax Media, the head of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), Alistair Nicholson, sent an email on Saturday to players, warning the Test series against England was under threat.

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Hasan Ali signs up for Caribbean Premier League: sources

LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan pacer and Champions Trophy hero Hasan Ali has been signed by West Indies’ popular T20 venture Caribbean Premier League (CPL), sources within the Pakistan Cricket Board said.

According to the sources, the star bowler will be featuring for CPL franchise St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, which also boasts the likes of Faf du Plessis, Samuel Badree, Carlos Brathwaite, Lendl Simmons and Brad Hodge.

Hasan Ali’s latest signing comes on the heels of his agreement with Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) earlier this month, under which he will also be playing for Comilla Victorians in the upcoming season later this year.

The 23-year-old is currently waiting for his US visa, which will enable him to play for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in some matches which are scheduled to be held in Florida in early August.

Hasan Ali is confident of performing his best in his CPL stint and is looking forward to playing cricket during the off-season – an opportunity that would help him stay fit for when national duty calls, the sources said.

The pacer, who burst onto the international scene after successful stints in the Pakistan Super League, bagged 13 wickets in the ICC Champions Trophy, winning the Golden Ball as well as Player of the Tournament awards along with capturing the hearts of his fans with his trademark celebratory style.

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Aisam ul Haq in final of ATP Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

NEW PORT (Web Desk): Pakistan’s tennis ace Aisam ul Haq, along with his partner Rajeev Ram of USA, has qualified for the final of ATP Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in New Port .

The top seed of the tournament, Pak American duo faced third seed India-Australia pair of Leander Paes and Sam Groth in the nail biting semi final.

Aisam and Rajeev could win only four games in first set of the match but came back strongly in the second set, saving multiple match points with score of 7-6 to take the game into super tie breaker.

The Pak-US duo continued their battle in the thrilling super tie breaker to win it 11/9 and qualify for the final where they will meet Australian pair of Matt Reid and John Smith.

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PHF names 60 probables for Asia Cup training camp

LAHORE (APP): Some senior players, who were not considered by sacked head coach Khawaja Junaid and the previous national selection committee, have been included in the list of 60 probables, who will attend the national training camp in Islamabad from July 24 for the Asia Cup.

The newly-appointed national selection committee, headed by Olympian Hassan Sardar, announced the list of the probables in which some senior players like Irfan Senior, Rashid Mahmood, Rizwan Senior, M. Ateeq, Tousiq and Kashif Shah have been recalled.

The 10th Asia Cup is being held in Bangladesh from Oct 12 to 22.

The training camp will be held at Naseer Bunda Stadium, Islamabad, under new head coach Farhat Khan.

No goalkeeper is included in this list as the PHF has already announced a list of 10 goalkeepers, who will attend a separate training camp in Karachi.

Our sports reporter from Islamabad adds: The two-week training camp for goalkeepers starts from Saturday (today) at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium.

Former Olympian goalkeeper Nasir Ahmed of PIA will impart training to budding goalkeepers.

“We are going to hold a separate camp for goalkeepers in Karachi,” said PHF secretary Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, adding the new coaching staff and selection committee have been appointed for achieving better results.

“The new appointments have been made in order to bring improvements in the national side,” maintained the PHF secretary, stating the training camp at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium will continue for two weeks.

Probables:

Defenders: M. Irfan, M. Aleem Bilal, Niwaz Ishfaq, Rashid Mahmood, Toseeq Arshad, M. Rizwan Jr., M. Atif Mushtaq, Tasawar Abbas, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Abu Bakar Mahmood, Mubashir Ali, Asad Aziz, M. Faisal Qadir, Taimoor Malik, Hassan Anwar, Qazi Asfand, Tazeem-ul-Hassan, M. Junaid Kamal, Saleem Nazim, Kashif Shah, Ali Hussain, Kashif Javed, Ali Hassan Faraz, Sami Ullah, M. Zeeshan, M. Zubair, M. Ateeq, Sohail Manzoor.

Forwards: M. Irfan Jr., Umar Bhutta, Arslan Qadir, Ali Shan, Ijaz Ahmad, M. Rizwan Senior, Abdul Haseem Khan, Azfar Yaqoob, M. Dilber, Rana Umair, Karim Khan, Shan Irshad, M. Bilal Qadir, Shajeeh Ahmed, M. Atiq, Rana Suhail Riaz, Mohsin Sabir, Sami Ullah, Saran Bin Qamar, Khizer Akhtar, Rizwan Ali, Kashif Ali, Ali Akber, Umer Sarfaraz, Fahad Ullah, Fraz Dar, A. Jabbar, M. Naveed, Nohaiz Malik, M. Sabir, Umar Hamdi, Faisal Rasheed.

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Barcelona manager Valverde dismisses talk of Neymar move

NEW YORK (AFP): Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde swatted down talk of star striker Neymar departing for a world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, dismissing “rumors” Friday and saying the squad wants him to stay.

Amid reports Neymar s future at the Camp Nou is in doubt, Valverde says the Brazil international is beloved and wanted at Barca for years to come.

“This is a time of rumors. We understand it s how it is,” Valverde said. “He is with us right now. One of us. It s a player we love and we want. Not only football-wise, but also for the things he brings to the locker room.

“It s only rumors. There s no need to worry about something we don t know if it s going to happen or not. If it happens in the future, we ll see. But no need to worry about it now.”

The comments came as Barcelona opened a US exhibition tour to prepare for the upcoming campaign.

They face Juventus on Saturday in New Jersey, Manchester United on Wednesday in suburban Washington and El Clasico rival Real Madrid in Miami on July 29.

Barcelona midfielder and captain Sergio Busquets also shrugged off talk of Neymar departing as rumor.

“It s a period of rumors and there s a lot of news going on,” Busquets said. “He s the only one who knows. If he has to say something he will. There s nothing I have to tell him. He already knows where he is. I don t think he could be in any better place. I hope he stays here for many years.”

Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano called Brazilian star Neymar the future of the Spanish giants, telling ESPN on Friday that he hopes the 25-year-old striker stays as well.

“In the case of Ney, obviously he is young, and I hope he s here with Barcelona for many more years,” Mascherano said in a posting on the US-based sports network s website.

“He is a really important player for the club. Because of his age, he s the future of the club, and we hope we can keep on counting on him.”

Reports suggest Neymar has already told Barca teammates he wants to move, but Mascherano says such talk has not affected the Brazilian, who has scored 105 goals in 186 matches for Barcelona and 52 goals in 77 caps for his country.

“He s accustomed to the pressure and people talking,” Mascherano said. “There s always going to be rumors and news around him.”

Asked what advice he might have for Neymar after his own pondering of a move to Juventus a year ago, the Argentine said he sees Neymar enjoying Spain.

“It s really difficult to give advice,” Mascherano said. “Firstly, I m not anyone to be giving advice and secondly, I see him really happy here, really happy.”

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Pietersen eyes South Africa international return

LONDON (AFP): Kevin Pietersen said Wednesday he has not ruled out resurrecting his international career with his native South Africa even though he’ll be pushing 40 when he requalifies.

The 37-year-old batsman will become eligible to play for the Proteas in 2019 having not been selected for England after being sacked in the aftermath of the 2013-14 Ashes defeat in Australia.

“You are talking about in two years’ time. Would I? Who knows? We’ll have to wait and see where I am,” said Pietersen after smashing a thrilling half-century to lead Surrey to a 10-run win over Essex in front of almost 24,000 fans at the Oval in the Twenty20 Blast in an explosive return to English cricket.

“I’m going to be playing a lot of cricket in South Africa over the next two years, so we’ll see. “I love batting: I will bat for as long as I love the art of batting. I do at the moment, but I’m an old man now, I’ve just hurt my calf, I didn’t field. “Who knows where I’ll be in two years’ time? If I enjoy batting, we’ll see where I get to. I’m in a very happy place.”

Pietersen hit four sixes in an over on his way to 52 off 35 balls in a Surrey total of 150 for nine on Wednesday. In reply, Essex were restricted to 140 for seven. Pietersen, who suffered a calf injury which prevented him from fielding, was playing his first English domestic match for nearly two years.

He had a lucky escape in the 10th over when he was dropped by Dan Lawrence off Ashar Zaidi and added 43 with Dominic Sibley. Pietersen was eventually out in the 16th over, three balls after reaching his 40th half-century in T20 cricket.

 

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Zahir stuns top seed to enter squash tourney quarters

KARACHI (PPI): Qualifier Zahir Shah pulled a sensational upset in the first round of 7th PARCO Roshan Khan Open Squash Tournament 2017 beating top seeded player Tayyab Aslam in straight sets here Wednesday at RKJK Squash Complex, Fleet Club.

The seedings seemed to have worked the other way round, qualifier Zahir Shah played as if he was the favorite in the match while Tayyab Aslam of ZTBL was the weaker opponent. Zahir recorded a convincing 11-8,1 2-10, 11-9 victory in 42 minutes to secure an unexpected place in the quarterfinals.

Secretary Sindh Squash Association (SSA) Rashid Ahmed praised Zahir Shah and said that he put a brilliant show beating Tayyab, who is a top notch player in the national cicuit. Zahir will face PIA?s Ahsan Ayaz, who defeated qualifier Waqas Mehboob of PAF recording a 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 victory in 31 minutes.

Another qualifier Kashif Asif of SNGPL also made it to the quarterfinals beating Faraz Muhammad of Navy by 13-11, 11-8, 11-2 score in 36 minutes.

Unseeded Ali Bukhari also pulled an upset beating third seed Asim Khan of SNGPL by 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7 score in 47 minutes. 5.

Fourth seed Israr Ahmed of SNGPL was given tough time by qualifier Abbas Shaukat of Army before he registered a 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8 victory after a see-saw battle in 56 minutes.

Wild card Noman Khan of Sindh overpowered Waqar Mehboob of ZTBL after recovering from a set down to record 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 victory in 32 minutes.

Army’s Bilal Zakir was given tough time by teammate Sadam Ul Haq before he recorded a 17-15, 10-12, 11-4, 11-6 win in 49 minutes.

Second seed Amaad Fareed of SNGPL thrashed Army?s Raees Khan in straight sets registering a 15-13, 11-5, 11-1 victory in 30 minutes.

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US Open to break $50 million prize barrier

NEW YORK (AFP): Prize money at this year s US Open will top $50 million (43.3 million euros), organisers confirmed Tuesday, once again making the tournament the richest event in tennis.

The United States Tennis Association said in a statement that the tournament purse had been increased by $4 million, taking it up to $50.4 million in total.

The winners of the men s and women s singles will each pocket $3.7 million, while prize money for each round would increase by an average of 7.5 percent compared to 2016.

The men s and women s doubles champions would take home $675,000 while the purse for the qualifying tournament had increased to $2.9 million — a 49.2 percent increase over last year.

“Five years ago, we committed to the players that total player compensation for players would reach $50 million at the US Open, and we are honoring that commitment,” USTA chairman Katrina Adams said in a statement.

This year s US Open will be held from August 28 to September 10.

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Sri Lanka to probe 2011 World Cup cricket defeat

COLOMBO (AFP): Sri Lanka’s sports minister gave his support Wednesday for an investigation into the country’s controversial 2011 World Cup loss against India, amid fresh allegations of match fixing.

The South Asian nation lost the World Cup decider by six wickets at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, stunning the cricket-mad island. Then Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara resigned soon after the match.

Pressure has since been mounting for an inquiry into the shock defeat, with a former cricket captain and a previous sports minister going public with their suspicions that Sri Lanka deliberately lost the match.

“The allegations merit an investigation,” Dayasiri Jayasekera told reporters in Colombo. “As soon as I get a written complaint, I will start a probe.”

Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 off 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. India turned the game dramatically thanks partly to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka.

The sports minister at the time Mahindananda Aluthgamage has raised fresh concerns, telling local media there were “several disturbing factors about that game”.

Four last-minute changes were made to the Sri Lankan side without prior approval being sought from the sports minister, breaching convention.

“Then there are also questions about the behaviour of a very senior player. During the match, instructions sent to the field were ignored,” Aluthgamage said, without naming the player in question.

The former minister said he launched an inquiry after the match, but the investigation was scuttled.

His concerns followed quick on the heels of comments from former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, who last Friday demanded an inquiry be held to expose the “dirt” on dodgy cricketers.

Last year, the International Cricket Council imposed a three-year ban on a top Sri Lankan official Jayananda Warnaweera for failing to cooperate with an anti-corruption investigation.

Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match fixing in the past, but Warnaweera was the first high ranking official to be found guilty and penalised.

Betting is illegal in most of the cricket-mad Indian subcontinent, but backstreet bookmakers — many with underworld links — still flourish.

Although no big-name Sri Lankan player has ever been convicted of corruption, several former stars have made allegations of match fixing or spot-fixing — when players deliberately bowl or field badly to give away a set number of runs.

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Kohli seeks smooth relations with Shastri

MUMBAI (AFP): India captain Virat Kohli said Wednesday he wants a good working relationship with new coach Ravi Shastri after the acrimonious departure of Anil Kumble.

And the skipper expressed confidence he can make it work with Shastri. “We know what’s expected and what’s on the plate,” he said ahead of India’s departure for a tour of Sri Lanka.

Kohli was accused of forcing out Kumble after the spin legend resigned last month, saying his relationship with the captain had become “untenable”.

Kohli kept silent during the selection process that culminated in the return of Shastri, who was team director between 2014-16.

Speaking to media with Shastri at his side, Kohli spoke of the captain-coach relationship and the way ahead for the world number one Test side.

“We have worked together for three years. I don’t think I need to understand anything else. We know what’s expected and what’s on the plate. I don’t think it will require any effort,” Kohli said.

“A lot of speculations and lot of things fly around, those things are not in my control.

“My job is to try and get the best out of this team along with the management and perform to the best of my abilities which I believe in,” the star batsman added.

Shastri, who has been given a two-year contract running up to the 2019 World Cup, also spoke of the need to communicate better in order for a team to prosper.

“I carry on from where I left. I don’t come with any baggage… My job is to put every player in a frame of mind where he is thinking only about his role and the team he is playing for,” said the former all-rounder.

Shastri, 55, edged other high-profile names including compatriot Virender Sehwag and Australia’s Tom Moody after a tough selection process.

But Shastri insisted that while coaches may come and go, it is the team which should get the credit for any success.

“The team has done exceedingly well over three years and they are the people who deserve the credit more than anyone else. Ravi Shastris, Anil Kumbles will come and go,” said Shastri.

“The fabric of Indian cricket will remain and the credit should go to everyone who’s participated in this Indian team.”

India will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 game in Sri Lanka. The first Test starts on July 26 in Galle.