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Lahore Qalandars launches second edition of player development programme

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): The Pakistan Super League franchise Lahore Qalandars have launched the second edition of its players’ development programme, named the rising stars, in its quest to find new talent.

The programme will commence from August 27.

The PDP, to commence from August 27, will run in three phases with the talent hunt being the first phase. Sixteen players selected from each venue will form teams, which will participate in city-based tournament in the second phase. The third phase will see 15 players flying to Australia.

This time, the development programme will have players selected from Azad Kashmir as well. Trials to select teams from Azad Kashmir will be held in Mirpur on August 27 and 28 and in Muzaffarabad on August 30 and 31.

The Kashmir phase of trials will be followed by trials in various cities of Punjab including Rawalpindi (September 4 and 5), Sargodha (September 7 and 8), Layyah (September 10 and 11) Bahawalpur (September 13 and 14) and Lahore (September 16 and 17). Trials in Gujranwala will be held on September 19 and 20 and on September 22 and 23 in Faisalabad.

Fawad Rana, chairman of Lahore Qalandars, said that the players development programme is aimed at providing talented youth a platform to showcase their talent and excel in the field of cricket.

“We are a nation with a unique and proud heritage. We have a relentless, fearless zest for life and an abundance of talented youth,” he said at the occasion.

“Qalandars have created this platform for this youth to make its mark, to excel and showcase their talent across Pakistan and to the rest of the world through this PDP and Sydney tour,” he added.

The first edition of the programme held last year witnessed a footfall of over 113,000 Cricketers making it one of the biggest talent hunt programmes, not only in Pakistan but also in the cricketing world.

It also discovered a unique talent like ambidextrous fast bowler Yasir Jan and launched the careers of aspiring cricketers like Usman Qadir, Saif Badar, Mohammad Irfan and Ghulam Mudassar.

“The aspiring cricketers will not have to seek nationalities of developed cricketing nations for opportunities. All they have to do is to come to Qalandars and we will give them a chance at a competitive level,” said CEO Lahore Qalandars Atif Rana.

Atif added that like the previous edition, this time too the best four performers of the programme will be made part of Lahore Qalandars squad in the Pakistan Super League.

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Pakistan’s Mansoor Zaman reaches Asian Junior Squash Championship final

KARACHI (PPI): Pakistani professional squash player Mansoor Zaman has qualified for the final of Asian Junior Squash championship, which is currently being held in Amman, Jordan.

Mansoor defeated Alireza Shameli of Iran in the semi-final of the U19 category. He only took 34 minutes to take down his opponent to win the match 12-10, 11-6, and 11-8.

Pakistan will now play Jordan – represented by Mohammad Al-Sarraj – in the championship final. Top-seeded Sarraj defeated Pakistan’s Abdul Malik in the tournament’s second semi-final.

However, Pakistan’s Huzaifa Ibrahim and Asadullah were defeated in the semifinals of U13 and U15 categories, respectively.

Ibrahim went down fighting against top seed Joachim Chuah Han Wen of Malaysia in the semi-final of the U13 category.

Asadullah, on the other hand, lost to Muhammad Amir Amirul Bin Azhar – a top seed from Malaysia – in the U15 semi-final.

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Amir allowed to travel to Pakistan for fitness tests by Essex

KARACHI (PPI): English county Essex has confirmed that its oversea signing from Pakistan, fast bowler Mohammad Amir, has been allowed to travel back to Pakistan to attend fitness tests being conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

The county, in a statement released on Friday evening, said that Amir has been released on the request of PCB and he will return to the county after the tests.

“Essex Cricket overseas star Mohammad Amir will return to Pakistan tomorrow for a series of fitness and medical tests at the request of the Pakistan Cricket Board,” said the county spokesman.

“Amir is scheduled to return to England on August 26, in time for the crucial Specsavers County Championship game against Somerset at The Cloudfm County Ground,” the statement adds.

Amir has been impressive with his superb performance with Essex this season with 12 wickets in two county championship matches and 13 wickets in 12 Natwest T20 tournament matches.

The Pakistan international will still be involved in Friday’s NatWest T20 Blast clash against Sussex Sharks as the Eagles hunt for a quarter-final place.

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Umar Akmal got at least seven chances to improve his fitness: PCB

LAHORE (APP): Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has hit back at batsman Umar Akmal over his statements regarding his omission from the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 squad.

In a press release, Umar was given as many as seven chances to improve his fitness and match the standards of his teammates as laid out by the team management.

The cricket board stated that the batsman was given a program to improve his fitness like other players before the West Indies tour and after he failed the tests in Lahore, he was left out of the team.

‘After clearing another test before the squad selection on eve of the ICC Champions Trophy in England, Umar was included in the eventual 15 member squad,’ the PCB stated. PCB added that the cricketer failed to attain the desired level of fitness and the team management was left with no option but to drop him from the squad.

‘Head Coach Mickey Arthur had placed Umar in his white ball format plans and gave him repeated chances for redemption, unfortunately though the batsman remained incapable of reaching the requisite fitness level,’ the cricket board mentioned.

‘The PCB awaits his response to the show cause issued to him yesterday and hopes that in the meantime, the batsman will refrain from making baseless allegations,’ PCB stated.

 

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Faisal Iqbal wants to replace Younus, Misbah

Web Desk

KARACHI: The retirement of Test legends Younus Khan and Misbahul Haq after the West Indies series has left a gaping hole in the Pakistan middle order, with several names being touted to fill the void.

Karachi’s middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal has thrown his name among the mix, and is confident of making a surprise comeback into the national fold — despite not donning the whites since January 2010.

Iqbal, despite being 35, still feels he has some years left in him and revealed that he has been working to stay fit.

“I have been working on my fitness and my skills. I know I am fit enough to be in the national team and will be considered if I perform in the upcoming domestic season,” Iqbal told The Express Tribune. “Two experienced players have left the team and a space in the middle-order is open. I am a middle-order batsman and that is where I have been performing well there for some years now.”

Iqbal scored 493 runs in the last Quaid-e-Azam trophy in seven matches. His runs came at a decent but unspectacular average of 37.92 and strike-rate of 52.55 — scoring one century and three half-centuries in 14 innings.

He added that the selection committee is selecting purely on merit, which means he just needs to catch their eye. “I am sure if I perform in the domestic cricket I will get a place in the team. I have been working hard for this and the time has finally come to earn back a place in the team,” he said. “When I was dropped from the team, I was told to keep performing in the domestic circuit and that I will be considered once a slot opens up in the middle-order. Hence, I will be doing my best this season in order to achieve my target of returning to the national side.”

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PCB issues show cause notice Umar Akmal

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Umar Akmal faces sanction from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) following the out-of-favour batsman’s public outburst against head coach Mickey Arthur.

Akmal addressed a news conference on Wednesday in which he lashed out at Arthur, accusing the South African of insulting him and refusing him access to the coaching facilities at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

“I accept my fitness isn’t up to the mark, and I am trying to work on it, and I asked to be allowed a trainer to help me,” Akmal said. “But Mickey said I shouldn’t even have come to the NCA and should be playing club cricket instead,” he said

Umar further claimed Arthur used “demeaning and insulting” language against him.

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ICC announces schedule of U-19 Cricket World Cup 2018

WEB DESK: The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the upcoming Under-19 World Cup which will be starting from January 13 2018 in New Zealand.

The first of the World Cup will be played between the defending champion West Indies and host New Zealand in Group A, day night match. Total 16 teams will participate in it and all the matches will be played in four cities of seven venues, including Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Pakistan will start their world cup campaign on the first day of the tournament by facing Afghanistan in its first match.

Apart from the test playing nations, the other teams in Group A are 2012 champion South Africa and Africa qualifier Kenya. Three-time champions India and Australia are clubbed together in Group B along with Zimbabwe and East Asia Pacific qualifier Papua New Guinea.

Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia comprise Group C, while two-time champions Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Asia qualifier Afghanistan and Europe qualifier Ireland form Group D in what is the 11th edition of the tournament and the third to be held in New Zealand.

The final will be played at Bay Oval in Tauranga on February 3, while both semi-finals will be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on January 29 and 30.

 

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Mickey Arthur verbally abused me, claims Umar

LAHORE (INP): Batsman Umar Akmal on Wednesday claimed that coach Mickey Arthur had verbally abused him in front of Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq.

He further claimed that Arthur is also abusive towards other players. Akmal also said that senior players did not stop the coach when he was being verbally abused and added that the coach had told him to play club-level cricket instead of coming to the academy.

Akmal further claimed that he was dropped from the team after an unjustified warning. He also said that he wants to inform the Pakistan Cricket Board regarding the behaviour of the coaching staff.

However, Arthur refuted Akmal’s claims and said Akmal was not telling the truth. Arthur added that he had asked Akmal to improve upon his skills and attitude.  Coach Mickey Arthur rubbishes Umar Akmal’s allegations
Akmal was dropped from the Pakistan squad for the Champions Trophy in Birmingham in May this year after the batsman failed two consecutive fitness tests in two months.

The middle-order batsman’s failure in fitness tests prompted selectors to bring in Haris Sohail in place of Akmal, asking the cricketer to return home to work on his fitness. Akmal had also been dropped from the team that toured the West Indies in April, after being the only player, among 31, to fail the fitness test during a camp held at the NCA in March.

In an annual assessment earlier this year, Akmal had weighed 91kg with a fat-level reading of 115.6. A measurement in excess of 100 is considered high. After being released from Pakistan’s squad for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Akmal had apologised to his fans, saying he was determined to come back stronger than ever and promised to remain committed to cricket.

Earlier in May, chief selector and former batsman Inzamamul Haq reported on Akmal s fitness. Umar Akmal could not maintain his fitness after Pakistan Cup, and that is why he was being sent back from England, he had said.
During the press conference, Akmal also asserted that he was working on his fitness in England since then to make a comeback to the palying eleven.

On the other hand, Arthur has denied the allegations asserting that he did not misbehave with the player however, he admitted to having censured the cricketer for questionable discipline and poor fitness.

South African cricketer Mickey Arthur is employed by the cricket board as the head coach of the team under whose command the national eleven led by skipper Sarfraz brought home Pakistan’s maiden Champions Trophy earlier this year.

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Nadal delighted at return to No. 1, Federer out

CINCINNATI (AFP) – Rafael Nadal was thrilled Monday to learn he would return to world number one for the first time in three years but sorry it came because Roger Federer withdrew from this week’s ATP Cincinnati Masters tournament.

Third-ranked Federer said he injured his back in Montreal, where he lost in Sunday’s final to Germany’s Alexander Zverev in a key hardcourt tuneup for the US Open.

Federer, this year’s Wimbledon and Australian Open champion, was the only player who could have denied second-ranked French Open champion Nadal the top spot in next Monday’s rankings.

“For me to be in that position is something very special,” Nadal said. “I have the passion and love for the game. That’s why I’m able to be back in that position again.”

It’s the first time Nadal has been number one since July of 2014.

The 31-year-old Spaniard, who won his 15th Grand Slam title this year at Roland Garros, will overtake Britain’s top-ranked Andy Murray, who withdrew from Montreal and Cincinnati with a hip injury.

Nadal, who has spent 141 total weeks in the top spot, has struggled with knee injuries since first becoming world number one in August 2008 after a Cincinnati semi-final run. He admitted doubting he could ever regain the top spot after so many years.

“If you don’t have doubts, it’s because you are very arrogant and I’m not very arrogant,” Nadal said. “There’s a young generation up and coming. It’s very tough to come back and be number one.”

Nadal knows that while he will claim the upper hand no matter how he fares this week, the year’s final Grand Slam event starting in New York on August 28 will have a major role to play in the fight with Federer for number one.

“Roger and I are having great seasons,” Nadal said. “One of us will have the chance to have that position for more weeks. I’m going to try and do my best this week and see what happens.”

Federer, a seven-time champion on the Cincinnati hardcourts, apologized but said he needed to rest with the US Open so near.

“I am very sorry to pull out of the Western and Southern Open as I always enjoy playing,” Federer said. “Cincinnati has some of the best fans in the world and I am sorry I will miss them.

“Unfortunately, I tweaked my back in Montreal and I need to rest this week.”

Federer was replaced in the draw by Italian 85th-ranked lucky loser Thomas Fabbiano, who will enjoy a first-round bye.

Nadal said he was sorry to see Federer join the list of players absent this week, which includes Murray, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

“It’s bad news for Roger he’s not playing,” Nadal said. “I’m sorry for all of them. I hope they have good recovery. We need to see them back for the sport.”

Nadal has been forced to alter training and event schedules more as he has gotten older.

“Of course we’re not 20 years old any more. We’re not playing all the weeks. That’s part of the sport. I skip many more events than the rest of my competitors.”

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Ranatunga slams Sri Lanka board over whitewash

Ranatunga said Sri Lanka’s XI could not be faulted for the humiliating 3-0 drubbing described by skipper Dinesh Chandimal as the worst series of his career, but squared the blame entirely with management.

“Sri Lanka cricket is going through the worst period,” Ranatunga told reporters in Colombo.

“You can’t blame only the players, they are demoralised. It is the fault of the management.”

The comprehensive series defeat compounded woes for a side beset by injury woes and leadership changes.

Ranatunga renewed calls for Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala to be sacked, and urged the International Cricket Council to investigate management at the board.

Last week, Ranatunga, 53, told AFP there was no “proper discipline” in the national side, which has suffered a string of humiliating home defeats in recent months.

“We don’t have selectors with a backbone,” Ranatunga said, referring to the panel headed by Sanath Jayasuriya, a former teammate of Ranatunga’s 1996 World Cup-winning side.

Ranatunga has accused Sumathipala of involvement in gambling — a charge which would preclude him from a board position at Sri Lanka Cricket — and urged the ICC to investigate. Sumathipala has vehemently denied the allegations.

Sumathipala told AFP last week that Ranatunga was leading a smear campaign against him in a bid to wrest leadership of the board for himself.

“Every time the game is affected at the middle, Sri Lanka cricketers are not performing to the expectation, we hear this kind of noise coming from the same quarter,” Sumathipala said.

Since retiring from the game, Ranatunga has entered politics and was an unelected cricket administrator in 2008.

Last month he demanded an investigation into Sri Lanka’s 2011 World Cup loss to India, which was marred by allegations of match-fixing. – AFP