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Haider Rasool becomes first Pakistani hockey umpire to supervise 100 matches

LAHORE (NNI): Haider Rasool has become country’s first ever international hockey umpire to complete a century of supervising international hockey matches.

He gained this unique distinction of standing in his 100th match during hockey world league in Johannesburg, South Africa on Thursday, said the information made available to media here on Friday.

Before the start of the Hockey World League match Germany and South Africa Haider received the Golden Whistle from the FIH. The golden whistle is awarded to umpires on completing 100 senior international matches.

Haider a former national goal keeper also attended quite a few national camps including the one for the World Cup 1998. He started to blow whistle on domestic circuit in 2002 and next year attended an umpiring seminar conducted by the Asian Hockey Federation in the Malaysian city of Ipoh.

He umpired his first tournament outside Pakistan: 2nd edition of the Indian Premier League, in 2004. Declared ‘International Umpire’ in 2005 by the FIH. First Junior International Tournament (6-Nation in Malaysia) in 2005. First Senior International Tournament (MIA International Challenge, Singapore) in August 2005. For Haider, it has been a story of the rise and rise since then.

After umpiring quite a few regional qualifiers and invitational tournaments, where he got good reports by the tournaments’ Umpire Managers, Haider was promoted to the ‘Promising Umpires’ list of the FIH in Feb, 2008.

This enabled him to stand, among others, in continental tournaments like the Pan Am Championships (2008) and the Asian Games (2010) as well as other high profile events such as the Junior World Cup 2009 and the Commonwealth Games 2010.

Again, his consistently high quality performance got him excellent evaluations, and Haider Rasool became a ‘Grade 1’ international umpire in Dec 2010. This up gradation enabled him to stand in the Champions Trophy’s editions.

Next step up was the ‘World Development Panel’ in 2013, a notch below the World Panel (the top most tier). He was among the reserves for the Olympics in 2012 and 2016. Haider is very hopeful to blow whistle in the 2018 World Cup and also to be promoted to the World Panel- soon.

“I am very delighted to stand in my 100th international match and I am thankful to Allah Almighty for giving me this honour”, Haider told media. He attributes his success as an international hockey umpire to his country.

“I am thankful to Pakistan Hockey Federation for extending help and support to me toachieve a milestone in my hockey career to have supervised one hundred international matches”, he said.

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Pakistan, Sri Lanka go for first win in final league game

LEICESTER (APP): Pakistan and Sri Lanka are both looking to end their ICC Women’s World Cup campaign on a high in Leicester today (Saturday) and all-rounder Shashikala Siriwardena believes a positive attitude can earn Sri Lanka the victory it craves.

Both sides have lost all six of their ICC WWC games to date but have the opportunity to finish with a win at Grace Road, said a press release issued by ICC on Friday. Sri Lanka lost by eight wickets to South Africa last time out and despite being without a victory to its name, there have been positives to take form the competition.

Siriwardena is convinced her team is learning with each passing match and is confident of putting it all together against Pakistan. “We will be going in with a positive attitude because, apart from against South Africa, we have done really well against good countries in this tournament,” she said. “Our batters always try to pass 200, that’s a huge achievement for us in this kind of tournament.

“We are really happy with the batting performance in this tournament, we have a good combination of spinner and fast bowlers, so we will go into the game with Pakistan with a positive attitude and we would like to go back to Sri Lanka with the win.

“It’s really important that we bounce back against Pakistan because we have the ICC Women’s Championship over the next few months, so winning against Pakistan would be a big boost for us as a unit. “We have lots of young players with us at this tournament and they need confidence from at least one win, so it would be really helpful for us.” Rain affected Pakistan’s previous match against the West Indies, as it eventually lost by 19 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

Javeria Wadood made an unbeaten knock of 58 in that loss and captain Sana Mir claims the confidence her side should take from an improved batting performance can lead it to a first win when it takes on Sri Lanka.

“The batting has not been up to standard, so I’m very happy that it is improving and we were able to get a 50 in the last game,” said Sana. “It was very important for the top order to score runs in our last game, and we need to bring our A-game in all three facets.

Having only one of batting, bowling or fielding working in a match is not enough and that’s what we’re trying to address for Sri Lanka. “It’s very promising to see us getting some runs, Javeria is an extremely important player for us, and it’s important to finish on a high note.

“Sri Lanka is playing some good cricket, but it’s good that our batters are playing in a good place. “A win would add value to our day, that would be a big boost to morale but playing good cricket is more important for us.” In Sri Lanka, the match can be watched live on Channel Eye and channeleye.lk. For further information, contact your local listings.

Squads: Pakistan: Sana Mir (captain), Asmavia Iqbal, Ayesha Zafar, Bibi Nahida, Diana Baig, Ghulam Fatima, Iram Javed, Javeria Wadood, Kainat Imtiaz, Marina Iqbal, Nain Abidi, Nashra Sundhu, Sadia Yousaf, Sidra Nawaz and Waheeda Akhter.

Sri Lanka: Inoka Ranaweera (captain), Chamari Athapaththu, Chandima Gunaratne, Nipuni Hansika, Ama Kanchana, Eshani Lokusooriya, Dilani Manodara, Harshitha Madhavi, Chamari Polgampala, Hasini Perera, Udeshika Prabodani, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Shashikala Siriwardena, Prasadani Weerakkodi and Sripali Weerakkody.

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Time for international cricket to resume in Pak, says Sarfraz Ahmed

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said international teams played the Champions Trophy tournament in England despite security concerns, hence it is time that international cricket returns to Pakistan.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, the national team captain of all three formats of the game said Pakistan cricket is facing a detrimental loss because of having no cricket at home.

Ahmed said captaining national test side is a challenge and the team will certainly miss Misbahul Haq and Younis Khan. He added that he is aiming to bring consistency to the team. The skipper further said the team has a good combination of senior and junior players

“A team always need senior players in the squad and they must be included if they are performing well.”

Ahmed said due to the Pakistan Super League (PSL), young players got much-needed exposure. “Shadab Khan and Fakhar Zaman have played domestic cricket but PSL gave them an identity,” he said.

He added that Pakistan cricket has a got a new life after winning the Champions Trophy as people now have expectations for the team. “We have to progress more. We have to win more series,” he said.

“Things have become better in the last two years. We have to now give more good performances.”

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Amir, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim promoted in new PCB central contracts

LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): The Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday announced new central contracts for the year 2017-18 (July 1, 2017- June 30, 2018) for 35 players in four categories.

Various youngsters have been included in the list of contracted players, while promotions and demotions have been carried out on basis of performance and fitness of players.

“The Central Contracts were awarded after keeping in mind the performances, fitness, and discipline of the players,” said a statement from the PCB.

“A number of young players have been awarded Central Contracts this year keeping in mind that the teams in all formats will be going through a transitionary period after a number of retirements,” the statement added.

According to the new list, Mohammad Amir has been promoted from B category to A category; Wahab Riaz has been demoted from B to C category, while Imad Wasim and Hasan Ali have been promoted from C to B category.

Umar Akmal was not offered the central contract by the PCB.

Players currently suspended due to the PSL spot-fixing inquiry were also omitted from the list of the contracted players.

However, Mohammad Nawaz, who was suspended for two months in May for failing to report a corrupt approach, has been offered a category D contract.

“As per the understanding [by] players and the PCB, the monthly retainers for all categories are increased by 10%,” said the PCB.

Six players have been included in category A, four in category B, 11 in category C and 14 in category D.

Following is the list of players who have been awarded the new central contract:

Category A: Sarfraz Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Shoaib Malik, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Hafeez and Mohammad Amir.

Category B: Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Asad Shafiq and Hasan Ali.

Category C: Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Haris Sohail, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Junaid Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Abbas and Shadab Khan.

Category D: Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Zakir, Usman Salahuddin, Aamer Yamin, Usman Shinwari, Fahim Ashraf, Rumman Raees, Imam-ul-Haq, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Umar Amin, Mohammad Hassan, Mohammad Asghar and Mohammad Irfan.

Salaries:
Category A: Rs 650,000
Category B: Rs 450,000
Category C: Rs 260,000
Category D: Rs 179,000

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Bangladesh’s Tamim denies reports of ‘hate crime’ against family

DHAKA (AFP): Bangladesh’s star opening batsman Tamim Iqbal has denied reports of alleged ‘hate crime’ against his family, after he abruptly cut short his season at Essex county on Tuesday.

Media reports claimed that Tamim had left Essex club after his family was allegedly the subject of an ‘acid attack’.

According to Bangladesh’s Daily Star website, Tamim, his wife Ayesha Siddiqa and one-year-old son left for home after the alleged incident took place while they went out for dinner.

The publication, citing a source close to the Bangladesh Cricket Board, said Tamim’s wife – who wears a hijab – was targeted by some miscreants who “attempted to throw acid at her”.
However, the batsman took to Twitter earlier today to reject the reports.

“Some reports of attempted hate crime against my family NOT true. Season at Essex shortened for personal reasons.#lovecricketinEngland,” he posted.

Essex County Cricket Club had announced on Tuesday that the batsman had left the club due to “personal reasons”.

“Essex County Cricket Club can confirm that overseas player Tamim Iqbal has left the club with immediate effect due to personal reasons. We wish him all the best, and it would be appreciated if Tamim’s privacy is respected during this time,” the statement read.

The 28-year-old left-handed opener, who also plays for PSL franchise Peshawar Zalmi, starred with the bat for Bangladesh in the recent Champions Trophy, scoring a splendid century against England, falling five short of another century against Australia and hitting 70 in the semi-final against India.

 

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Tsotsobe given eight-year ban for contriving to fix matches

CAPE TOWN (AFP): Lonwabo Tsotsobe, once the number one bowler in ICC Ranking, has been banned for eight years by the Cricket South Africa after the former South African pacer admitted to having breached the anti-corruption code on several counts.

He was charged and provisionally suspended in April by CSA for several breaches of its Anti-Corruption Code relating to the 2015 RAM SLAM T20 Challenge Series.

The CSA statement stated that Tsotsobe has admitted one charge of contriving to fix a match in the 2015 RAM SLAM; two charges of failing to disclose to the CSA the full details of an approach to engage in corrupt conduct; two charges of failing to disclose full details of matters evidencing a breach of the Code by another participant; three charges of failing or refusing to co-operate with an investigation and two charges of obstructing or delaying the investigation by destroying evidence and concealing information.

Tsotsobe, in a statement, has apologised to Cricket fans saying that he was vulnerable due to his financial state which persuaded him to participate in fixing.

“I wish to apologise to cricket lovers all over the world. I was, at the time, in a very vulnerable financial state and this dilemma too easily persuaded me to participate in spot fixing,” Tsotsobe said in a statement released by Cricket South Africa.

“There are no words to describe the regret I have in relation to my actions and I hope that the cricket world could consider my apology and understand my deepest feeling of remorse,” the former South African pacer said.

According to Cricket South Africa, the ban will run for eight years from 24 April 2017, which is the date that Tsotsobe was provisionally suspended from participating in all cricketing activities following the notice of charge issued to him by CSA.

“Mr Tsotsobe has ultimately admitted his mistakes in contravening the CSA Anti-Corruption Code and, whilst no fix actually took place, it is clear that he was active in plans to participate in spot-fixing and hence the sanction imposed on him,” said CSA Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat while commenting on the ban.

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Naseem wins IBSF U-18 championship

BEIJING (Online): Young Pakistani player Muhammad Naseem Akhtar has won the International Billiard & Snooker Federation (IBSF) world under-18 championship in Beijing on Tuesday.

He defeated Chinese rival Peifan by 5-3 in the final. His highest break in the tournament was just 74 but he lost only two frames in his four knockout phase victories before the final.

That run included a 4-0 semi-final drubbing of Israeli Amir Nardeia, who compiled an event-high 119 century break and also dispatched of the defending champion Jackson Page in the last eight.

Snooker is extremely popular in Pakistan and the amateur game has been growing in the country over the last number of years. Pakistan players have emerged triumphant in the IBSF World Championship before but this win marks the first at any underage level.

Five out of the eight quarter-finalists were from the continent with a further seven Asian players featuring in the last 16 as well.

It’s very likely that the World Under-21 Championship will follow suit, with the prestigious junior title to get under way on Wednesday in the Chinese capital city, and where eight out of the last ten champions have hailed from Asia.

While Naseem will likely not gain a Main Tour card for his exploits in the younger discipline, a two-year ticket will be awarded to the under-21 champion as has been the norm in recent years.

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Ravi Shastri favourite to be new India coach

NEW DELHI (Agencies): Former skipper Ravi Shastri has emerged as the front-runner to be the new coach of India, but a final decision remains on hold until captain Virat Kohli has been consulted.

Shastri, 55, was among five high-profile candidates interviewed on Monday for the post left vacant by ex-Test captain Anil Kumble, who resigned amid difficulties over his relationship with Kohli which he described as “untenable”.

An advisory committee of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman has been tasked with selecting the new coach to head the world´s number-one ranked Test team. The cricketing greats considered presentations from Shastri, Virender Sehwag, Australia´s Tom Moody, Englishman Richard Pybus and former India manager Lalchand Rajput.

But after a gruelling round of interviews the committee decided there was “no hurry” to name the coach, and felt Kohli should be consulted before the final decision was made.
Speculation has been rife that Shastri, who served as India´s team director between 2014 and 2016, is on friendly terms with Kohli and will therefore get the nod.

“All members of the Indian cricket team are in favour of cricketer-turned-commentator Shastri taking over the role,” reported The Times of India on Tuesday. “All 15 members of the team are unanimous on this. It´s not even 14-1,” the daily reported, citing an unnamed member of the Indian cricket team.

Ganguly told reporters that Kohli would be briefed on the developments once the team returned from their limited-overs tour of the West Indies. “Sri Lanka tour is in a week´s time, the board headed by (secretary) Amitabh Choudhary and (chief executive) Rahul Johri will probably continue with the same set for the time being,” said Ganguly.

“We want to speak to Virat Kohli once he is back from America, all three of us along with the respective people concerned. “We will explain to him that the coaches want to function in a certain way and make sure that everybody is on the same page before we make the announcement.”

Kohli made no recommendation for who should fill the coaching role, Ganguly added, which would run until the World Cup in 2019. Shastri, who has represented India in 80 Tests and 150 one-day internationals between 1981 and 1992, originally applied when a one-year contract to coach India was made available in 2016.

A decision by India´s cricket board to allow Shastri to interview via Skype while on holiday at the time angered Ganguly, who complained publicly about the selection process. Shastri was then pipped to the post by Kumble.

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Allrounder Raza gives Zimbabwe historic ODI triumph

HAMBANTOTA (AFP): Sikandar Raza starred with the bat and ball to help Zimbabwe edge out Sri Lanka by three wickets and clinch a historic series victory in the fifth one-day international on Monday.

Taking the series 3-2 in Hambantota, the 11th-ranked Zimbabwe registered their maiden series win in Sri Lanka and first overseas triumph in eight years.

Off-spinner Raza claimed three wickets to restrict the hosts to 203-8 after Zimbabwe elected to field first. He then anchored a tense chase with an unbeaten 27 as the visitors won with 71 balls to spare.

Zimbabwe opener Hamilton Masakadza top-scored with a fluent 73 before rookie off-spinner Akila Dananjaya struck back with four wickets to rattle the Zimbabwe middle-order.

The visitors slipped from 137-1 to 175-7 — losing six wickets for 38 runs — but Raza and skipper Graeme Cremer (11 not out) hung on for an unbeaten 29-run stand as the perennial underdogs erupted in celebrations.

“Happy that Sikandar came to the party. It turned around very quickly but happy we pulled it off in the end,” an elated Cremer said following their win.

“This win is very special, fans must be jumping around back home. We knew we´re playing good enough cricket to put them under pressure.”

Earlier the Pakistan-born Raza, who opened the bowling for the visiting side, returned with impressive figures of 3-21 at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium.

Raza, named man of the match, was complemented by Cremer, who took two wickets with his wily leg-spin, most notably the prized scalp of his opposite number Angelo Mathews (24).

‘Weapon with the new ball’

“Raza is a definite weapon with the new ball. I was hoping for a breakthrough or two and he gave us that in the powerplay,” Cremer said.

Sri Lanka suffered from a lack of partnerships but opener Danushka Gunathilaka (52) and Asela Gunaratne (59 not out) hit gritty half-centuries to steady the home side.

The hosts slipped to 153-8 in the 42nd over before Gunaratne and Dushmantha Chameera (18 not out) put on an unbeaten 50-run stand for the ninth wicket.

Paceman Tendai Chatara drew first blood after getting opener Niroshan Dickwella — who came into the match with two successive centuries — caught behind for three.

The wicket also pulled the brakes on Sri Lanka´s rampaging opening starts in the previous one-day internationals against the visiting African side.

Dickwella and Gunathilaka made ODI history in delivering back-to-back double century partnerships in the previous two contests against Zimbabwe.

Mathews said even though the conditions were “tough” for batting, their final run tally was far below what was expected.

“Credit to Zimbabwe, they gave us a really tough time and we didn´t have any answers,” said a disappointed Mathews.

The defeat was Sri Lanka´s worst bilateral ODI series in recent times. The eighth-ranked side face India for a full series later this month.

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Johanna Konta first British woman in Wimbledon quarter-finals for 33 years

LONDON (Agencies): Johanna Konta released her racket and slumped to her knees after becoming the first British woman to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for 33 years and looks every inch a potential winner here.

It was a hard-fought battle against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia but the No6 seed betrayed no sign of nerves as she completed a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 victory.

Asked what it felt like to become the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1984 to reach the final eight, Konta broke into a grin. “That’s pretty special,” she told the BBC. “I’m very excited about that and really looking forward to the fact I get to play here again.”

She will not say it as plainly as this but Konta believes she can be the first British woman to win Wimbledon since Virginia Wade, exactly 40 years ago. After every victory here she has spoken of her hope that she can be involved for the entire fortnight and is playing as well as anyone.

In a tight match it was Konta’s fearsome focus, particularly at the pivotal moments that proved the difference. She saved six of nine break points and produced big serves when she needed them most.

“There was very little between us out there,” said Konta. “I think it’s those situations that I dreamt of when I was a little girl and being part of those battles on big stages.”

Beginning play with the dubious honour of being the bookmakers’ favourite for the title, Konta burst out of the blocks, going up a break in the first game of the match. After setting up three break opportunities, she converted the second with Garcia pushing a forehand long and then held with ease to race to a 2-0 lead.

But Garcia is no slouch. As a 17-year-old wildcard at the French Open in 2011 she gave Maria Sharapova a scare in the second round, prompting Andy Murray to Tweet his belief that he was watching a future world No1 in action.

Now 23 and the 21st seed here, she has not yet lived up to Murray’s predictions but gave Konta a headache, setting up three break points as the Briton served for the opening set.

Konta saved the first with a crushing cross court forehand and the second with a crackerjack serve but came unstuck on the third. Garcia hit a backhand into the corner which was called out but the decision was overruled by hawk eye. A furious Konta believed the point should have been replayed but the umpire was unmoved.

But Konta recovered her composure for the tie-break, which she won 7-3. It looked like being a straight sets victory but Konta was broken in third game of second set, to a cry of allez from the Frenchwoman and again in the fifth game.

There was a suggestion from Andrew Castle in the BBC commentary box that Garcia’s coach and dad Louis-Paul was coaching from the box with hand signals, an illegal practice in grand slam competitions. His daughter certainly seemed to respond to his urgings, whether they were direct orders or not, as she levelled proceedings.

There was little to pick between the players in the deciding set but Konta had the advantage of serving first. As so often with tennis it was decided by a couple of points and two netted forehands by Garcia gave Konta the decisive break and a victory which puts her one step closer to a famous title.