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Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets in fourth ODI

SHARJAH (Monitoring Desk): If the purpose of a series is to find out which of two teams is the superior one, then this ODI felt nothing more than a rhetorical question. To have to play it at all was the equivalent of insisting upon an answer to the aforementioned rhetorical question. The problem with that is the answer is hardly ever surprising. That was emphatically the case with the fourth ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Sharjah, which Sarfraz Ahmed’s men won by seven wickets with 11 overs to spare. Four down, one to go.

This time Sri Lanka, who won the toss and batted, turned up the most abject performance of the series, losing seven wickets for 99 before recovering slightly to finish with 173. That was thanks to Lahiru Thirimanne, the visitors’ only batsman, apart from the captain, who emerges from this series with any credit. He made 62 off 94 balls, including four fours. The target was far too comfortable for Pakistan, despite early hiccups that had left them at 58 for 3, with half-centuries from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik guiding them home.

No matter what they try, it doesn’t seem to work for Sri Lanka. They made three changes to their XI and batted with an unmistakable air of freedom, having already conceded the series. Yet they careened to 173 all out in 43.4 overs. Pakistan’s bowlers put in an excellent collective performance – three of them took at least two wickets each – to establish the hosts’ dominance at the half-way mark.

It began when captain Upul Tharanga was bowled for a duck, debutant Usman Khan producing a wonder ball that ripped through the gap between bat and pad. Niroshan Dickwella then began to attack the opening bowlers, carting Usman for consecutive fours and hitting Junaid Khan for six over fine leg. The wicketkeeper-batsman was taking risks, though, and he pushed it a bit too far when he tried to go over the infield on the off side, cover point taking a simple catch.

Inevitably, the run rate began to slow down with Dinesh Chandimal and Thirimanne at the crease; the two batsmen have the lowest and fifth lowest ODI strike rates respectively this year. It was – unforgivably – a run out that broke the partnership, Chandimal the casualty. That brought the highly-regarded debutant Sadeera Samarawickmara to the crease, but he only lasted two balls, Imad Wasim beating him with the angle as the ball broke the stumps.

Shadab Khan soon joined the party, removing Seekkuge Prasanna and Thisara Perera off successive balls to leave Sri Lanka seven down before they had reached three figures. Akila Dananjaya, who has been stoic in the lower order, hung around with Thirimanne as they attempted to reach what might be a competitive score. The last three wickets did add 74, but in the end, it merely saved Sri Lanka some extra embarrassment rather than having any impact on the scoreline.

Chasing a smaller target than they had done in the third ODI, Pakistan might have felt comfortable with the straightforward task at hand. However, they were nowhere near as assured to start off on Friday, although the Sri Lankan bowlers were partly responsible for that. Fast bowler Lahiru Gamage was successful coming round the wicket to Imam-ul-Haq, trapping last game’s centurion plumb in front in the second over.

Zaman’s dismissal was more disappointing. He got yet another start before falling in exactly the same fashion as he had in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. He charged at the spinner – Dananjaya this time – and failed to get anywhere near the pitch of the ball, and was utterly beaten by the spin. Dickwella completed a simple stumping.

Seekkuge Prasanna removed Hafeez shortly after, though it was more down to a poor shot by the batsman. He failed to control a sweep shot off a wrong’un, the ball ballooning straight to deep square leg. Pakistan were 58 for 3, the match still salvageable for Upul Tharanga’s men.

From thereon, it could have turned into one of those awkward low-scoring thrillers that chasing sides find so horrible, but the combination of youth and experience got Pakistan out of a hole. Apart from a dropped catch that gave Shoaib Malik a reprieve, the veteran added an unbroken 119 with Babar with Babar that carried the side home. After a lengthy spell where they consolidated, they swatted the bowlers away towards the end, the last 26 runs coming off two overs. It was far too comfortable, as much of this series has been for Sarfraz’s men.

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Hasan Ali moved up to top of ICC ODI rankings

LAHORE (APP): South Africa batsman AB de Villiers has once again grabbed the top position in the ICC ODI players rankings while Pakistan’s Hasan Ali has emerged as a new number one among bowlers in the latest ranking updates carried out on Friday.

An astonishing knock of 176 by de Villiers in the second ODI against Bangladesh in Paarl, which consisted of 15 fours and seven sixes and came off only 104 balls, has also helped South Africa edge India at the top of the ICC team rankings by taking a 2-0 winning lead in the three-match series, said the information made available by the ICC here on Friday.

The latest rankings, which take into account the first two matches of the South Africa-Bangladesh series and the first three matches of the ongoing Pakistan-Sri Lanka series in the United Arab Emirates, sees de Villiers climb to the top of the ODI table for the 14th time in his career.

De Villiers, who has leapfrogged Australian David Warner and India captain Virat Kohli, had first attained top position on 30 May 2010 and the number of days he has spent at the top is second most after retired Windies great Vivian Richards. De Villiers has now been at the top for 2,124 days while Richards was number one for 2,306 days.

Other batsmen to move up include Pakistan’s Babar Azam (up two places to a career-best fourth position), the South African pair of Quinton de Kock (up three places to fifth) and Hashim Amla (up two places to ninth), and Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim (up five places to 18th).

Among bowlers, Hasan Ali’s haul of five for 34 in the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi, which his team won by seven wickets for a decisive 3-0 lead in the five-match series, has given the pace bowler a big boost in ranking points.

The 23-year-old, who has taken nine wickets in the series so far, has moved up six places to become the fifth bowler at the top of the ODI rankings this year after Trent Boult, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada and Josh Hazlewood.

Outside of the top 20, Sri Lanka’s Suranga Lakmal (up three places to 36th), South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo (up 30 places to 52nd) and Bangladesh’s Rubel Hossain (up seven places to 61st) are the other bowlers to move northwards.

Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez is back as the top all-rounder, edging Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan. Hafeez, who first attained top ranking in January 2013, has reached the top spot for the ninth time.

Meanwhile, India will be looking to wrest back the top spot in the team rankings when they take on New Zealand in an upcoming three-match series.

South Africa and India are both on 120 points with South Africa ahead on decimal points. South Africa can reach 121 points if they complete a 3-0 series win over Bangladesh but India will overtake them if they win the opening match against New Zealand, to be played the same day as the last South Africa-Bangladesh match, on 22 October. If India win that match, they too will be on 121 points but ahead in decimal-point calculation.

However, India will have to win the series against New Zealand 3-0 to retain the top spot should South Africa win the last match against Bangladesh.

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Pakistan to face Sri Lanka in fourth ODI today

F.P. Report

SHARJAH: Pakistan is looking to extend their winning streak as they have to face the discouraged Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI at Sharjah today.

Pakistan has already won the series with a 3-0 and it was their seventh consecutive win ODI after defeating Sri Lanka in the second match of the five match series on Wednesday.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored a century on the debut and a career-best 5-34 by Hasan Ali helped Pakistan to beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets. Imam became only the second batsman from Pakistan and 13th overall to score a hundred on ODI debut before he finally fell for 100 off 125 balls.

Imam had been brought in for opener Ahmed Shehzad, who failed to perform with the bat in the opening two matches of the series.

Earlier, on Thursday, all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez was reported suspect bowling action for the third time.

The fifth and final ODI will be played in Sharjah on October 23. The two teams will also play three T20 internationals, the first two in Abu Dhabi (October 26 and 27) and the last in Lahore (October 29).


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Hafeez again reported for suspect bowling action

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan’s off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez has been reported for a suspect bowling action during the third One-Day International against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, the ICC announced on Thursday.

According to the spokesman of ICC, the match officials’ report, which was handed over to the Pakistan team management, cited concerns about the legality of the 37-year-old’s bowling action.
“Hafeez’s bowling action will now be scrutinised further under the ICC Illegal Bowling Regulations.

He is required to undergo testing within 14 days, and, during this period, Hafeez is permitted to continue bowling in international cricket until the results of the assessments are known,” said ICC.
Hafeez was first suspended from bowling in December 2014.

He was allowed to resume bowling in April 2015 after an independent reassessment of his bowling tests found his action to be legal. He was suspended for a second time after an independent assessment revealed that he had employed an illegal bowling action after being reported in the Galle Test v Pakistan in June 2015.

This was his second suspension within 24 months of the initial suspension in December 2014, he was suspended from bowling in international cricket for 12 months from July 2015.

On November 17, 2016, the bowler underwent a reassessment of his action at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane and was allowed to resume bowling after his action was found to be legal.

This current report on his action, according to ICC, will be considered to be the first report and the procedure outlined in clause 4.1 of the ICC Illegal Bowling Regulations shall now apply. Hafeez, 37, got one wicket conceding 39 runs in 8 overs on Wednesday. He has taken 136 wickets in 193 ODIs.

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Pakistan, South Korea play 1-1 draw in Asia Hockey

DHAKA (APP): Pakistan and South Korea played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in their second match of the Super 4s stage in the Hero Asia Cup on Thursday at the Maulana Bhashani National Stadium in Dhaka.

Pakistan were given an early lead by Ajaz Ahmad (15′) but Korea’s Namyong Lee (48′) ensured they equalised. The draw for both the teams means that South Korea have 2 points from their 2 matches in Super 4s, while Pakistan have only one point, said the information made available here. The first quarter was a good one for Pakistan as they attacked the Koreans from the start while the latter focused on counter attacking their opponents.

Pakistan’s tactics to turn defence quickly into attack worked well for them in the 15th minute as they scored the opening goal of the match through Ajaz Ahmad. The Pakistanis had the chance to extend their lead in the same minute but youngster Muhammad Atiq failed to hit the target.

However, the second quarter was all about both team’s defensive skills as Korea made a total of 10 circle entries inside Pakistan’s circle in order to get the equaliser. Pakistan, on the other hand, focused on defending well in their circle and keeping their shape so as to deny the Koreans.

Pakistan had the best chance of the quarter in the 28th minute when goal-scorer Ajaz Ahmad was clear in front of the Korean goal, but could only shoot at goalkeeper Doopyo Hong. In the third quarter, Korea tried to push the Pakistani defence into tight spaces as they had a total of 20 circle entries at the end of the third quarter which saw them win two penalty corners in the 35th minute, but they could not be efficient in their conversion of the PCs.

Pakistan, on the other hand, had the opportunity to ensure the victory when they were awarded a penalty corner in the 44th minute but captain Mohammad Irfan dragged his shot wide of the target as the third quarter ended with Pakistan maintaining their 1-0 lead.

South Korea had to produce an improved performance in the fourth quarter if they had to make a comeback into the match. It was in the 48th minute when Korea were awarded a free hit on the edge of the Pakistani box, which turned out to be an advantage for the Koreans as they scored the equaliser through Namyong Lee.

Korea had several chances after their first goal as the Pakistani defence looked vulnerable towards the end of the match. Pakistan also had a golden opportunity in the 54th minute but Muhammad Rizwan Sr. failed to beat the goalkeeper from close range. Both the teams kept trying until the full-time whistle, but neither succeeded as the game ended 1-1.

On holding Pakistan to a 1-1 draw after conceding an early goal, Korean National Coach Shin Seok Kyo said, “I am happy to see my players overcome their physical exhaustion and remain on the track to the final. It would have been better if we won the match but we will continue to remain focused for our next match against Malaysia and reach the final.”

Pakistan Coach Farhat Khan expressed disappointment about his team’s missed chances. “I am extremely surprised to see how my players are wasting the scoring opportunities. I don’t know what is going wrong. We will go back and see the video and sit with the boys to ensure such mistakes don’t happen in our next match against India,” he said.

Goal of the Game was presented by former Pakistan captain Hasan Sardar to Ahmad Ajaz of Pakistan. Man of the Match Award was Presented by Mohammed Nurul Islam, former Bangladesh National player, to Muhammad Rizwan of Pakistan.

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Imam becomes only second Pakistani to score century on debut

Monitoring Desk

PESHAWAR: Pakistan debutant, Imam-ul-Haq in the third match against Sri Lanka scored a century and becomes the second Pakistani to score a century in the first match of the career.

Imam-ul-Haq got the chance in the team as a replacement of out of form Ahmad Shahzad and scored the century in his first match and closed the mouths of the critics as he was criticized that Imam was selected only because of his uncle and chief selector Inzamam ul Haq.

Imam-ul-Haq smashed two sixes and four boundaries to reach the milestone of 100 off 125 deliveries to become only 2nd Pakistani to score a century on his debut ODI.

Imam joined Saleem Elahi from Pakistan in club of centurions on debut, which now has 13 members from around the world.

Saleem scored 102* in September 1995 at Gujranwala and it was also against Sri Lanka.

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Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets to take 3-0 lead in series

ABU DHABI (Monitoring Desk): Albert Einstein believed doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results was the definition of insanity. As such, it seems to be insane to have organised five ODIs between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They’ve done this three thrice so far, and a different result is nowhere in sight.

This match was the most decisive of the lot, an all-round masterclass from Pakistan helped them ease to a series win over Sri Lanka by seven wickets, with more than seven overs to spare. Hasan Ali’s five-for helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 208, before a debut century by Imam-ul-Haq – just the second Pakistani to achieve that feat – made this game a heavily one-sided affair. Pakistan cruised to their seventh successive ODI win, while Sri Lanka slumped to their tenth straight defeat.

Pakistan needed no more than sober level-headedness in their modest chase. Fakhar Zaman and Imam provided more than just that. Imam looked unperturbed by the enormity of the occasion and wasn’t afraid to hit in the air. Although he was uncomfortable against offspinner Akila Dananjaya at times, it was a generally chanceless innings that would have undoubtedly eased some pressure on his uncle and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Zaman was stumped attempting a wild heave over midwicket after the openers added 78. But the hosts did not collapse like Sri Lanka after their opening partnership was broken. Imam simply grew in confidence, coming down the wicket to neutralise the spin, and continued to take the attack to the opposition.

Babar Azam added 30 and went, but there was no twist in the tale. The outcome was a forgone conclusion long before the winning stroke was played. The only excitement towards the end was the wait to see the 21-year old Imam complete his debut hundred. And he nearly didn’t.

In the 37th over, a peach of an indipper from Dushmantha Chameera took his inside edge, when he was on 89, and settled in the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Imam whipped around to watch it happen and began shuffling off the field well before he was adjudged out. The on-field umpires, however, asked him to wait as he made his inconsolable trek back to the dressing room, saying they wanted to check the legality of the catch. With each passing replay it seemed a little bit of the ball had touched the ground before Niroshan Dickwella had taken it. The big screen finally flashed “not out”. Both the Abu Dhabi crowd and Imam himself heaved a sigh of relief. And he knocked off the remaining 11 runs without further trouble to soak in all the emotion.

Earlier, Sri Lanka started brightly, as if liberated by not having a target to chase. Upul Tharanga’s touch looked to have never left him since he carried his bat in the previous game. He drove Junaid Khan and Rumman Raees regularly through the offside, his timing allowing him to score regular runs past mid-off.

He put on 59 with Dickwella in 10.5 overs – it was the first fifty partnership at the top of the order for Sri Lanka in seven games – but Hasan broke through just as it began to look ominous. He bowled Dickwella, who was slightly unfortunate considering the ball had kept low.

That, right there, was the end of the good times for Sri Lanka. They slowed down considerably, the new batsman Chandimal needing to settle and the set batsman Tharanga beginning to stutter. It seemed that Sri Lanka, having seen clumps of wickets fall early in the first two games, made a point of prioritising wickets in hand over run rate.

The result was a familiar sight. Pakistan’s spinners wrestled control of the middle overs and began to asphyxiate the batsmen. Chandimal made a painful 19 off 49 balls, and there was a sense of inevitability when he was out lbw after misreading a Shadab Khan googly.

Sri Lanka’s run rate, once over six, had dipped below four. Tharanga, not having played an aggressive shot for the best part of 20 overs, pulled a long hop from Shadab straight to deep square leg. With a dull sense of familiarity, the visitors began falling apart, again. No one was able to get used to the slowness of the Abu Dhabi pitch or throw the Pakistan spinners off their nagging lines and lengths.

The fast bowlers were back to finish off the middle order, with Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana and Jeffrey Vandersay all falling within 12 balls. Hasan and Junaid were the men responsible, making all three batsmen mistime their shots. Suddenly, Sri Lanka were 141 for 6 in 36 overs, and even 200 seemed an eternity away.

Hafeez got rid of Thirmanne – a particularly unfortunate dismissal as he cut a ball onto his boot which then ballooned into the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Hasan removed Akila Dananjaya to wrap up his third five-wicket haul of the year and leave Sri Lanka reeling at 163 for 8.

A late flurry from Thisara Perera, finding five fours in his 37-ball 38 to drag Sri Lanka past 200 while Pakistan’s fielding disciplines fell apart – several mistakes on the boundary allowed ones and twos to be turned into many more.

Hasan restored the upper hand, snuffing out the resistance of tailender Dushmantha Chammera and ensured Sri Lanka couldn’t put up a total closer to what they would have aimed. Thisara was the last man dismissed, run-out while trying to look for a non-existent second run. Pakistan had knocked Sri Lanka over within 50 overs again. In a few hours, they had knocked them out of the series.

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Tickets for Pakistan vs Sri Lanka T20I in Lahore go on sale online

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday launched the first phase of online ticket sales for the upcoming T20I match between Pakistan vs Sri Lanka in Lahore.

Sri Lanka will play the 3rd T20I of three-match series in Lahore on October 29. The match will also mark the first-ever visit by a major Test playing country since the attack on Sri Lanka team in 2009.

In first phase, tickets of at least seven enclosures are presented for sales online, at comparatively lower prices than what it carried for three-match Independence series between Pakistan and World XI.

The ticket for Wasim Akram enclosure is now set at 5,000 PKR, the price was previously as high as 8,000 PKR. The price for Imran Khan and Fazal Mahmood enclosures is brought down to 3,000 from 6,000 rupees.

The face-value of tickets for Abdul Qadir, AH Kardar, Javed Miandad and Rajas enclosures stands at 1500 rupees. During World XI matches, these tickets were sold for 4,000 PKR.

The tickets for remaining enclosures will be available from Friday.

The PCB, in due course, will also announce designated venues for physical sale of tickets for the match.

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Pakistan squad for T20I series against Sri Lanka

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Experienced all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has returned to Pakistan’s T20I side for three-match series against Sri Lanka.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has made only one change in the squad that faced star studded World XI side in Lahore last month.

Fast bowler Sohail Khan has been dropped from the squad while experienced all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez has returned to the 16-member side.

Sohail played two matches against the World XI taking three wickets collectively (2/28 and 1/44) which seems not enough to impress the selection committee headed by Inzamam ul Haq.

Fast bowler Mohammad Aamir – who missed the ongoing ODI series due to an injury – is also included in the squad, however his availability is subject to his fitness clearance.

The three-match T-20I series will commence from October 26, 2017 with the third and final T-20I match scheduled to be held in Lahore on October 29th.

Pakistan’s 16 member squad for the series includes Sarfraz Ahmed, Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shahzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Amir Yamin, Muhammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Usman Shinwari and Umar Amin.

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PCB chairman to meet Sindh CM for PSL matches in Karachi

LAHORE (INP): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Najam Sethi will meet Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday to discuss preparations for hosting Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in Karachi.

Sethi took to Twitter to announce the news and asked fans to wish him luck. “I am meeting Sindh CM tomorrow to start preparations for PSL matches in Karachi. Wish me luck!”

The meeting will take place at CM House at 11am tomorrow. It will be attended by sports minister and other officials of the provincial government, sources privy to the matter said.

According to the sources, Murad Ali Shah has assured the PCB chairman of full cooperation for hosting a few PSL matches in Karachi. The chief minister has also assured of making all security arrangements needed for the events.

Sethi was a jubilant man on Monday following an announcement from Sri Lanka Cricket which confirmed that the Sri Lankan team will tour Pakistan for a T20I match later this month.

“This is a historic moment,” he said of the upcoming T20I in Lahore between the two sides, as Pakistan beat Sri Lanka in the second ODI to give fans even more to celebrate about.