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Sri Lanka eases ban on Gunathilaka before Pakistan tour

COLOMBO (Agencies): Sri Lanka´s cricket board Tuesday halved a six-match ban imposed on all-rounder Danushka Gunathilaka for misconduct, amid speculation several players may drop out of an upcoming Twenty20 series final in Pakistan.

The board´s decision clears Gunathilaka to play in the three-match series starting October 26 in the United Arab Emirates, though the final squad of 15 will not be announced until Friday.

The final will be played on October 29 in Lahore, where the Sri Lankan team bus came under attack from militants in 2009. No top international cricket side has returned to Pakistan since then. “The Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket decided to revise the suspension imposed on Gunathilaka upon consideration of the appeal,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

Gunathilaka was suspended for unspecified “misconduct” during Sri Lanka´s humiliating home series thrashing by India in which the islanders lost 9-0. His fine — 20 percent of his annual match fees remains unchanged. Gunathilaka was dropped from the squad for the ongoing five-match one-day international series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). His reprieve comes as players express private concerns about the board´s decision to play the Twenty20 series final in Lahore.

A source close to the board said skipper Upul Tharanga and Lasith Malinga were likely to pull out of the entire series due to security concerns about the final. The board announced Monday that it would go ahead with the tour and “confirmed its commitment to play the third T20” in Lahore after assessments by government agencies, independent security experts and the International Cricket Council.

Sri Lanka Cricket chief Thilanga Sumathipala would accompany the team, the board added. In August he called for an end to Pakistan´s isolation from world cricket. Pakistan shifted their “home” matches to the UAE after the 2009 militant attack. Since then, only low-ranked Zimbabwe has toured Pakistan, playing five limited-overs games in Lahore in 2015. But a World XI squad comprising 13 players from seven top cricket-playing nations played in Lahore last month, with Pakistan hoping the visit would help end years of international isolation.

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Babar Azam has now the record of most runs, centuries in 33 ODI innings

F.P. Report

KARACHI: After scoring his seventh ODI century against Sri Lanka in the 33rd innings, Babar Azam makes another record of getting more runs and centuries in the 33 innings.

Babar smashed six boundaries to score 101 off 133 deliveries and this innings makes sure the achievement of several records simultaneously. After scoring crucial inning of 101, Azam has now scored 1659 runs in the first 33 innings of his ODI career, nine more than South African great Hashim Amla.

He is also now the quickest to seventh ODI ton by reaching it in 33 innings, next to him is Hashim Amla with seven tons in 41 ODI innings. Zaheer Abbas reached seven ODI centuries in 42 innings while Quinton de Kock reached his seventh ODI century in his 50th innings.

His current batting average 57.20 is second best among all the batsmen who have batted at least 30 innings in one-day-internationals. Only above him is Ryan ten Doeschate whose batting average is 67.00, mainly because of greater numbers of not-outs in his career.

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Second ODI: Azam, Shadab lift Pakistan to 32-run victory

ABU DHABI (Monitoring Desk): Babar Azam’s seventh ODI hundred combined with a sublime all-round performance from Shadab Khan saw a listless Sri Lanka slump to their ninth consecutive ODI defeat. They lost by 32 runs, but the margin would have been much greater but for a fighting hundred by Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga; no one else scored more than 22. Sri Lanka were on top in the first quarter of the match, having reduced Pakistan to 101 for 6, before Azam and Shadab put together a gritty 109-run stand to propel Pakistan to 219.

It was a particularly grave indictment on Sri Lanka’s batting display that they were in the chase for most of their innings, despite what was, by modern standards, a modest target. The batsmen didn’t find many answers to the relentlessly accurate spin trio of Shadab, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik, on a surface on which runs were especially hard to come by. Tharanga was handed at least four chances during the course of his hundred. The chasm between the sides appeared so wide that Pakistan could afford to be that generous and still bowl Sri Lanka out for 187.

With Sri Lanka’s current ODI plight and Pakistan’s bowling prowess, Sri Lanka weren’t expected to make light work of the chase on a slow surface. Sri Lanka lost two early wickets – Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis – and consumed plenty of dot balls in attempting to absorb the pressure, as if surviving a tricky Test match session. Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne added a scratchy 40 runs off 72 balls, and when the latter was eventually dismissed, the asking rate had already climbed to close to 5.50.

The rut set in straight after as the spinners knocked the wind out of the chase. Five wickets fell off the next 33 balls. Shadab took a wicket in each of his first three overs, getting prodigious turn with both his legbreak and googly.

Jeffrey Vandersay was involved in a 76-run, eighth-wicket stand with Tharanga, who found his range towards the close of the game, looming as the last line of defence against Pakistan taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Shadab was also taken for boundaries and his immaculate length started to waver as Sri Lanka narrowed the gap between runs required and balls remaining.

Pakistan could have established a near-impregnable position far earlier had they been less charitable in the field. Tharanga had lived a charmed life; he was dropped three times. That wasn’t the end of his fortune either, he was also given out caught before being overturned on review, and survived another review for lbw. He was trapped right in front later in his innings, but Pakistan ran out of reviews.

As the asking rate came down and Sarfraz began to panic, berating his players almost every delivery, Pakistan broke through with 51 runs still to get, Vandersay holing out at deep square off a Rumman Raees slower ball. Lakmal was then run-out following a mix-up with Tharanga. It was fitting, in this frenetic contest, that the game ended via another run-out as Tharanga became the first Sri Lankan batsman to carry his bat through.

The first innings had effectively boiled down to a contest between Sri Lanka and Azam after another top-order collapse. Ahmed Shehzad poked and scratched around while Fakhar Zaman also struggled for timing. Zaman was the first to go, Lahiru Gamage angling the ball across Zaman, whose outside edge flew to a wide slip. Shehzad joined him three overs later, driving a wide delivery from Suranga Lakmal straight to point.

Lakmal and Gamage were once again terrific with the new ball, getting sufficient movement. Mohammad Hafeez broke the shackles with a glorious six back over Gamage’s head, but edged the next ball – gently seaming away – to the keeper.

As Malik and Imad Wasim also fell cheaply, Azam continued to show signs of his quality, providing further evidence of his quality, and composure as a batsman. He held the innings together instead of letting the pressure of the situation get to him. Seemingly oblivious to the collapse around him, he guided the lower order, establishing a magnificent, match-changing partnership with Shadab.

There were no slog overs, no pinch hitting. Just mature, calm batsmanship by a pair whose combined age is less than that of recently-retired skipper Misbah-ul-Haq. The singles came freely and easily, and twos were routinely pinched. If the opportunity presented itself, the occasional boundary was struck, too, but not if a risk had to be taken.

Not until the first ball of the final over, anyway, when Azam tried to clear long-on with a tired heave. His job had been done, and he left the bowlers with enough room to do theirs. That, usually, is a winning strategy for Pakistan, and so it proved yet again.

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Sri Lanka’s Tharanga pulls out of Lahore T20: reports

DUBAI (Monitoring Desk): Sri Lanka’s ODI captain Upul Tharanga has pulled out of the scheduled T20 International scheduled to be held in Lahore later this month, international media reported on Monday.

According to a report by sports website Cricbuzz, the Sri Lankan skipper’s refusal to take part in the Lahore T20 also makes him ineligible to captain the first two games of the series as well.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had earlier said that the same squad would play all three games against Pakistan. In the ODI skipper’s absence, wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera is the most likely candidate to lead the Sri Lankan side in the three-match series.

Sri Lankan cricketers Dilshan Munaweera, Ashan Priyanjan, and Isuru Udana have already announced their willingness to participate in the match. SLC’s Executive Committee is scheduled to meet later tonight to discuss the matter and announce its final decision regarding the T20 match scheduled in Lahore later this month.

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Sri Lanka to play T20 in Lahore

LAHORE (APP): Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board, Najam Sathi has dispelled the impression that Sri Lanka is not visiting Pakistan to play a T20 international match on October 29 here at Gadaffi stadium.

“The Lankan side will be playing the third and the last T20 of the ongoing series at Lahore as earlier announced”,he confirmed this while talking to media here on Monday at Allama Iqbal airport on his return from Auckland, on Monday morning after attending ICC meeting. Chairman PCB said Lankan team short visit will be followed by the visit of the West Indies team in October for three T20 matches.

“We have started our preparations to host the Lankan side in the same way we hosted the World XI last month and we look tour to the tour of the Lankan side to have international cricket in Pakistan”,said Najam Sathi. Chairman PCB said on the side lines of the ICC meeting he had productive talks and meetings with the officials of the Sri Lankan Board who have granted permission to their side to visit Pakistan .

It many be mentioned here that ten contracted players of the Sri Lankan side has asked their cricket board to shift the T20 game at natural venue, instead of Lahore. To a question he said PCB is engaged in a legal battle against Indian Cricket Board for not fulfilling its commitment regarding bilateral series between the two countries. “InshAllah (God willing) we will be winning this case as India signed a MOU on bilateral series and then backed out of it due to which we suffered huge financial losses and we want compensation in this regard”, he said.

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Pakistan to face Sri Lanka in second ODI today

Monitoring Desk

ABU DHABI: Pakistan will face Sri Lanka in the second ODI of the five match series on Monday and after winning the first match of the series it is likely that Pakistan will not changed the winning team.

After a bad performance in the test series as Sri Lanka white wash Pakistan for the first time in UAE however started the ODI series on a positive note and won the first match with an 83 runs against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan, nursing a 2-0 Test whitewash against Sri Lanka, avenged the defeat by outclassing the tourists with an 83-run win in the ODI opener on Friday.

Shoaib Malik´s swashbuckling 61-ball 81 and a return to form 103 by Babar Malik lifted Pakistan to 292-6 in the first ODI in Dubai, before they kept Sri Lanka to 209-8.

The match was Pakistan´s first since winning the Champions Trophy in England in June this year.

Hasan Ali, who was took 3 wickets for 36 runs while left arm pacer Rumman Raees took 3-49 to derail Sri Lanka.

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De Kock, Amla tons power South Africa to record-breaking win

KIMBERLEY (Agencies): Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla blitzed a century each, became South Africa’s most prolific ODI pair of all-time and scripted their biggest win by 10 wickets in ODI history.

South Africa’s mockery of a 279-run target followed Bangladesh’s own record-setting after they chose to bat in the first ODI.  Mushfiqur Rahim became the first Bangladesh batsman to score a century against South Africa in any format and led his team to their highest total against this opposition. But those efforts barely challenged the hosts.

On a flat track in Kimberley, where anything under 300 was considered sub-par, Bangladesh were at least 50 runs short. Mushfiqur did his bit, but found scant assistance. Imrul Kayes was the only other player to score more than 30 against a weakened South African attack. The home pack were already plagued by absentees through injury and lost a further 65 caps when Wayne Parnell could not be considered for selection after picking up a groin strain. Dane Paterson was handed a debut. It was a baptism of fire for Paterson, who conceded at 7.66 to the over and went wicketless after being tasked with sharing the new ball with Kagiso Rabada.

As the most experienced quick, Rabada took on the task of leading the attack. He produced an aggressive six-over new-ball spell, in which he took 1 for 11 and then returned to take 3 for 25 in three overs at the end. In between that, South Africa’s second-string seamers operated around Imran Tahir, but did not present much of a challenge.

Paterson and Andile Phehlukwayo did not have the pace threaten Bangladesh while Dwaine Pretorius fared decently when replicating Rabada’s short-ball tactics – though he leaned more towards slower bouncers.

While Bangladesh cashed in on the scoring opportunities Paterson and Phehlukwayo presented, they had too few substantial partnerships. Only Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur (59 runs) and Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah (69) sharing in stands of over 50. Even though South Africa did not apply sustained pressure, the incisions they made counted.

After Shakib became the fastest player to the double of 5000 ODI runs and 200 wickets, he fell to crafty captaincy. Faf du Plessis kept a slip in place when Tahir was bowling and Shakib edged a googly into Hashim Amla’s hands. Tahir was effective in the middle overs and made a nuisance of himself to the Bangladesh batsmen.

He had an lbw appeal against Mushfiqur when he was on 41 and tried to run a googly down to third man. Mushfiqur was hit on the back pad flap outside the line and South Africa did not review. In Tahir’s next over, Mahmudullah missed a sweep and was hit on the pad. South Africa reviewed but the impact was outside the line.

Mahmudullah provided one of the highlights of the innings when he charged Rabada and tonked him back over his head for six but the bullishness did not last long. He top-edged a pull off Pretorius and David Miller took the catch to put the brakes on Bangladesh.

Mushfiqur was on 79 at the time and pushed on with Sabbir Rahman at the other end. A six over square leg off Paterson took him past 80, and twin reverse-sweeps off Tahir into the 90s. His century came up with a push through the covers, off the 108th ball he faced. Cameos from the tail-enders took Bangladesh over 270 but not as far as 300, though even that may not have been enough.

De Kock and Amla treated the chase like batting practice and denied their team-mates the chance to experience the same. Bangladesh’s bowlers also seemed to have bought into that mindset, with neither swing nor spin on offer and simply fed deliveries to the opening pair to hit. Rubel Hossain’s first ball was overpitched and swinging in to Quinton de Kock. He clipped it for four and didn’t stop at all from there. De Kock’s runs came mostly through the leg side at first and then shifted all around the wicket. His fifty came up off 56 balls with an inventive flick over his shoulder.

He had been scoring at a similar rate to Amla up to that point but then took more of the strike and accelerated past him. His century came up off 100 balls. Amla’s fifty was off 48 balls but he was happy to let de Kock take centrestage thereafter. A hallmark of Amla’s innings was his ability to rotate strike and prevent dot balls from accumulating. Amla only scored four boundaries in his first fifty runs, and eight in his century. By the time Amla got to his hundred, de Kock was eight away from 150, and had already registered his second-highest ODI score.

Had Bangladesh set a higher target, de Kock may have gone on to surpass his 178 against Australia. To rub salt in Bangladesh’s wounds, they only created two chances and fluffed both. At the start of the 38th over, when Amla, on 94, drove a ball back to Taskin Ahmed, the bowler could not hold on in his follow-through.

Then, with the match all but gone in the 43rd over, de Kock smashed one to Nasir Hossain at long-on. Nasir had to jump to take the catch over his head and could not hold on. South Africa had no problems, other than the fact that the rest of their line-up, which included AB de Villiers on his international comeback and David Miller in his 100th ODI, did not bat.


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Pakistan thrashed 3-1 by India in Asia Cup

DHAKA (Agencies): India won 3-1 against arch-rivals Pakistan in their last pool match of the Hero Hockey Asia Cup at Dhaka’s Maulana Bhashani Hockey Stadium.

Both Pakistan and Japan finished with four points but Pakistan has qualified for the next round of Super Four because of the better goal difference than that of Japan. Pakistan came on the score-sheet after Ali Shan scored in the 48th minute to give his side a chance.

Much to Pakistan’s disappointment Harmanpreet Singh had scored for Indian in the 45th minute giving India the lead for 3-0. Indian gained the advantage after Pakistan were down to nine men as Rizwan Sr and Abu Mahmood were shown yellow cards and given five minute suspension.

Rizwan was made to go out for because of a rough block, while Mahmood was penalised for taking the free hit before the whistle. Chinglensana drew the first blood as he scored in the 17th minute, giving India the lead, while Ramandeep scored the second goal. India are already through to the Super Four round after two convincing wins. Pakistan were surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw by a determined and fast-moving Japanese side. Japan play Bangladesh in their last match.

Pakistan enjoys a +7 goal difference while Japan has – 4. Hence, Japan needs not only a big win over Bangladesh but also hope for Pakistan’s defeat against India by a margin which suits them. Pakistan are three-time Asia Cup champions Pakistan while India have lifted the cup twice.

It is interesting to note that Pakistan won all the first three editions of the cup in 1982, ’85 and ’89. While India’s victories were achieved in more recent times, in 2003 and 2007 In all of Pakistan’s three Asia Cup wins, India were the runners up.

In 1985 and ’89, Pakistan defeated their neighbours in the final. The inaugural 1982 competition was played on a single league basis. There also the Green Shirts defeated India in the decisive last match. India’s first win, in 2003, came at Pakistan’s expense in the final. In total, the traditional rivals have met six times in the tournament.

Interestingly, Pakistan has won as many as five times while India’s lone win against Pakistan in this event came in 2003. In that edition, they met twice. Pakistan won the pool match 4-2 but lost the final by an identical margin.

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Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal in Shanghai Masters

SHANGHAI (Agencies): Roger Federer extended his winning streak over Rafael Nadal this year to four matches after beating the top-ranked Spaniard 6-4, 6-3 to win the Shanghai Masters on Sunday.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner, who still trails Nadal 23-15 in their overall head-to-head series, didn’t face a break point and started and ended the match with service breaks. “I don’t know what my expectations were going in,” Federer said. “I thought I might struggle early on because it was a late finish last night. “I had no nerves before the match, surprisingly. I think I was pretty clear about how I wanted to play the match. I started off very well and relaxed from then on.”

Despite his dominance in 2017, Federer doesn’t rate his chances of catching Nadal in their head-to-head record. “It’s not going to happen. We don’t have enough years left on the tour,” Federer said. “We ranked too good so we play each other only in finals at the moment. … You can’t win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He’s too good of a player.”

Federer took advantage of three of seven break-point opportunities to snap Nadal’s 16-match winning streak, which included his China Open victory last week. Federer, who has won the past five encounters between the pair dating back to the 2015 Basel final, also beat Nadal in the Australian Open final, a round-of-16 match at Indian Wells and the Miami final this year.

“Have been a very difficult match for me,” Nadal said. “He played very fast, and he played well.
“Of course was not the best match for me of the week. When somebody plays better than you, sport is not very difficult.

That’s the real thing, no? When you play against somebody that is better than you in most of the things that really matters in this sport, in this kind of surface, then it’s tougher.” The Shanghai Masters is Federer’s 94th career title, moving him into a tie with Ivan Lendl for second place on the Open era list.

Nadal arrived on court with a bandage under his right knee, the same leg he twice smacked with his racket after losing his serve for the first time this week in the semifinal. Federer said he was surprised to see the wrap and didn’t feel Nadal was struggling with his movement.

In his postmatch news conference, Nadal elected not to discuss the knee injury, saying, “I don’t want to talk about that now, sorry, but after losing final is not the moment.” Asked if he would play upcoming tournaments in Basel, Switzerland and Paris, Nadal refused to confirm his participation.

Federer took advantage of a third break point in the first game of the match with a winning backhand passing shot. He broke Nadal’s serve again on a second break point in the fifth game of the second set when Nadal sailed a crosscourt backhand wide. In the final game, Nadal netted a forehand at 15-40 to end the 72-minute match.

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Sharapova wins first title since drugs ban

TIANJIN (Agencies): Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title in more than two years at the Tianjin Open on Sunday, showing plenty of grit and determination as she came from behind in each set to beat Belarusian teenager Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 7-6(8).

The former world number one, who returned to the tour in April following a 15-month doping ban, started the stronger, breaking Sabalenka in her opening service game, but struggled on serve and soon found herself trailing 4-1 in the first set.

The Russian managed to hold serve for the first time in the match at 4-2 and clung on grimly in the face of some hard hitting by her 19-year-old opponent before converting her fourth break point of the next game to get back on serve at 4-3.

Her nerves settled, Sharapova began to hit her stride, breaking Sabalenka again to go 6-5 up before closing out the set.

The Belarusian, playing her first WTA final, came back in the second set, opening up a 5-1 lead before serving to send the match into a decider, but Sharapova once again fought back to erase the deficit.

The 30-year-old broke Sabalenka twice in succession and held her nerve when facing a set point on serve at 5-4 to level things up, and broke the Belarusian to give herself the chance to serve out the match at 6-5.

But there was more drama to come. The Russian, who sent down seven aces during the contest, double-faulted when facing a break point to gift Sabalenka the game and send the set into a tiebreak.

Sharapova, whose last title came at the Italian Open in May 2015, had three match points but Sabalenka survived them all before double-faulting with the score at 8-8 to hand Sharapova another opportunity. This time, the Russian made no mistake, firing down a powerful serve to seal the victory.