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West Indies’ Shai Hope makes history in thrilling Test win over England

HEADINGLEY (Agencies): It was one of the great Test matches. Headingley has seen some remarkable final days and West Indies created their own extraordinary tale by chasing down 322 to level the series. Shai Hope achieved what Kraigg Brathwaitenarrowly missed, becoming the first batsman to score twin hundreds on the ground in first-class cricket and, at 6.43pm, with the floodlights illuminating the ground almost as much as the day-night Test last week, Hope tucked the ball through square to complete one of the most unexpected redemption stories in the game’s history.

Such was the application and skill of West Indies’ batting, anchored by the 144-run third-wicket stand between Brathwaite and Hope that, once they got through the morning session, the prospect of victory was closer than many would accept. There was constantly talk of how quickly it could change, but the collapse never came. At tea, moments after losing Brathwaite for 95, they needed 123 off 35 overs; when Roston Chase was superbly caught by substitute Mason Crane at mid-on, 76 off 19.5 overs.

There was a chance with the new ball looming and the light fading that it could still unravel for West Indies, but Chase’s wicket may actually have helped. He was finding the old ball hard to time, and it brought in Jermaine Blackwoodwho chanced his arm (or batted normally for himself). He clubbed two tension-easing fours before, in brilliantly brazen style, hammering James Anderson’s second ball with the new ball straight for six. He was stumped with two runs needed, but his 41 off 45 balls ensured England never regained a foothold. From losing 19 wickets in a day, to this. Their first win in England since Edgbaston in 2000.

Hope brought up his century from 175 balls – the second fifty proving much harder work off 105 deliveries – and on 106, with 37 runs required, he benefited from the 13th drop catch of the match when Alastair Cook at first slip spilled a top-edged cut. The last West Indies batsman to score two centuries in a Test was Kieran Powell, against Bangladesh in 2012, and Hope’s performance – from a man who averaged 19 before this Test – epitomised more than anything the team’s revival. Those who paid £10 to get in witnessed an ‘I-was-there’ moment.

It was the second-highest successful chase at the ground behind Bradman’s 1948 Australians, slotting in ahead of England’s final-day hunt against Australia in 2001. Joe Root became the fourth England captain to declare and lose a Test but it was a perfectly reasonable target to set and it needs to be hoped a streak of positiveness isn’t knocked from Root’s mindset. England did not bowl badly, although Chris Woakes wasn’t at his best, on a surface that behaved far better than expected.

Missed chances, though, proved costly from early in the day. In the fourth over, Cook had also dropped Brathwaite when he had 4. Another chance came from Brathwaite, on 29, amid bizarre circumstances when he popped a return catch to Broad which burst through the hands and cannoned into the non-striker’s stumps with Kyle Hope well out of his crease. A wicket, but the more valuable one would have been Brathwaite’s, as one of the players with the ability to defy England for long periods. It was 40 overs before he offered another chance, edging Moeen Ali to slip, and by then the groundwork for victory had been laid.

Hope’s innings was magnificent. His first boundary was a rifled back-foot straight from a short-of-a-length delivery by Woakes and his fifty came off 70 balls, a slightly quicker rate than Brathwaite and he ensured Root could never dry up the scoring. As in the first session of the second day, it was an examination of both batsman’s techniques against a moving ball and the pair also played Moeen smartly to nullify his threat. After their 246-run partnership in the first innings, it was the first time since Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan at Colombo in 2000-01 that the same West Indian batsmen had shared two hundred stands in a match.

In mid-afternoon, England tried to conjure something with forceful spells from Broad and Ben Stokes, the latter not used until the 47th over of the innings, but both batsmen withstood everything, including a few zipping deliveries from Broad and the occasional ball which jumped off a length. England grew increasingly frustrated, especially Broad who took a kick at one of the followthrough marks which brought a rebuke from umpire S Ravi and may interest the ICC.

Eventually it was spin which brought the breakthrough, Brathwaite driving away from his body to give Stokes a catch at slip. England would have had expectations of making further inroads into the middle order, but Hope and Chase sensibly soaked up the pressure after tea as Root gave Anderson an extended 10-over spell either side of the break which gave him precious little time to rest before the new ball.

The harder ball zipped under the lights, but also came quicker off the bat – the middle and edges – as it dawned on England that the game had escaped them. With the target closing in Blackwood swung fiercely at Broad, edging a boundary and then clearing third man for six. There was still time for one more dropped catch – Stokes, of all people, shelling Blackwood at deep midwicket – but by then West Indies were all-but home. Lord’s, next week, is one of the more unexpected deciders.

 

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Afridi refuses to attend PCB 14 September event

LAHORE (Online): Pakistan’s former t20 skipper Shahid Afridi on Tuesday refused to attend the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) event scheduled on September 14 at Lahore.

According to private TV channel, Afridi expressed his refusal during a phone call with PCB Chairperson Najam Sethi. The flamboyant all-rounder will be playing the Afghan Cricket League (ACL) from September 11. Afridi is the only Pakistani player signed to play the ACL.

Currently, Afridi is in the United Kingdom to play the Twenty20 Blast — representing Hampshire. Previously, Afridi has turned down an offer for a farewell from the board, citing personal commitments. He was offered a farewell event by Sethi during a meeting in Dubai on April 23.

Afridi last played for Pakistan in 2016 during the World T20 in India. Following Pakistan’s early exit from the tournament, Afridi desired for a proper farewell match, which he couldn’t get. Later, in an interview to a private TV channel in December last year, Afridi had given up his desire and confirmed that he had already played his last game and wasn’t looking for a farewell anymore.

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Wrestler Wade Barrett looks forward to visiting Pakistan again

LONDON (Monitoring Desk): Professional wrestler and former bare-knuckle boxer Wade Barrett said he loved visiting Pakistan and plans to make another visit soon to encourage wrestlers.

Speaking to Media News in London, Barret said it was an honour for him to be amongst 25 wrestlers from 18 countries, who participated in one of the biggest international sporting events in the history of Pakistan.

Pro Wrestling Entertainment (PWE) had hosted the professional wrestling competitions in Pakistan in May 2017.

International wrestling superstar and five times intercontinental champion Wade Barret, who was in London for his Hollywood movie premier, visited PWE London office where he met PWE officials and Pakistani community members to share his experience and express his gratitude for the hospitality he received in Pakistan.

Wade Barret said, “I have been to many countries but the warm welcome and hospitality we received in Pakistan was amazing. We were provided top class security and we felt completely safe while moving around in Pakistan.”

Barret also said he met youth who wanted to become professional wrestlers but lamented the lack of facilities in Pakistan. He remarked that he will be visiting Pakistan again soon to train the wrestling enthusiasts.

Imran Shah, wrestling promoter and organiser, said he took wrestlers to Pakistan to change perceptions about Pakistan that its an unsafe country.

“We aim to promote soft Image of Pakistan in the world through sports. We will form academies throughout Pakistan to provide a healthy distraction to our youth, and an opportunity for them to present Pakistan in international arenas of sports.

He said, “ We are planning for the second season which will be bigger and better more international superstar will visit Pakistan. We have been invited to Austria to present world Heavyweight championship belt to the winner on September 2, and this has happened after our mega-event in Pakistan.”

 

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Richardson appointed match referee for Independence Cup

ISLAMABAD (APP): Former West Indies captain Richie Richardson has been appointed match referee by the ICC for the three-match T20 Independence Cup between Pakistan and the World XI side – the first instance since 2009 of an ICC match official overseeing cricket in Pakistan.

Richardson has been a member of the ICC’s Elite Panel of match referees since January 2016 and has officiated in 11 Tests, 19 ODIs and 18 T20Is till date. The Pakistan Cricket Board announced the ICC’s decision in a press release on Tuesday. “The Pakistan Cricket Board today announced that the International Cricket Council has appointed Sir Richie Richardson as match referee for the Independence Cup to be played between the World XI and Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium on 12, 13 and 15 September.”

The ICC has thrown its weight behind this series, working closely with the PCB to tackle security which satisfied the standards of the players’ body, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA). Zimbabwe’s tour in 2015 – the only international tour by a Test-playing team since the terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 – had gone ahead with local umpires and match officials.

Prior to Zimbabwe’s tour, several countries had refused to play in Pakistan, in the aftermath of the attack in Lahore. The PCB, however, has been gradually pursuing more matches in the country. Earlier this year, a few international players turned out in Lahore for the final of the Pakistan Super League.

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US Open: Sharapova easily won against Simona Halep

F.P. Report

NEW YORK: Maria Sharapova made a stunning come back to the Grand Slam level by beating the World Number 2 Simona Halep in the US Open Championship.

The Russian players easily won 6-4 4-6 6-3 in front of 24,000 crowd in night session crowd of  in New York.

Sharapova,  was playing her first Grand Slam match after coming back to tennis court as she facing the 15-month doping suspension from tennis federation.

Sharapova was the champion of 2006 an former World Number one needed a wildcard entry for the main draw as she was ranking 146th.

Sharapova returned from her suspension in April but was has struggling with injuries,

 

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Ali quick 84 runs puts England in command in second test

F.P. Report

HEADINGLEY: Moeen Ali quick 84 runs on the fourth day of the second teast against West Indies assist the England team in getting the commanding position in the match.

At the end of the fourth day, West Indian were 5/0 in their second innings and needing more 317 runs to achieve the challenging target of 322 runs.

West Indies have to play brilliantly and beat the England to level the series at 1-1.

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Floyd Mayweather stops Conor McGregor in 10th round in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AFP): Floyd Mayweather extended his perfect career record to 50 fights unbeaten by stopping Conor McGregor in the 10th round of one of the richest bouts in boxing history.

The former five-weight world champion faced flurries of early punches from UFC’s most iconic figure, who was making his debut in professional boxing at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

McGregor delivered a crisp uppercut in round one and, though he edged close to breaking the rules with several punches to the back of the head, he imposed himself admirably without ever looking as though he would knock out Mayweather.

The American, who came out of retirement for a potential $300m (£230m) pay day, executed a gameplan which pounced on McGregor’s lack of conditioning for the late rounds which prove so key on big fight nights.

As the Irishman tired, Mayweather upped his ferocity and by round nine the 40-year-old began to stalk his opponent, whose legs were weakening under more successful shots.

And in the 10th, with McGregor again near the ropes and offering little, the fight – which followed weeks of manic build-up, spiteful words and chaos – was over. He was not bowled over by a conclusive blow, but with Mayweather throwing rapidly, his target was left too vulnerable.

Referee Robert Byrd’s stoppage may have arrived too early for some, as McGregor’s early effort led to a belief inside the arena he could pull off the biggest upset in the history of the sport.

But the 29-year-old was wilting and was down 89-81 89-82 87-83 on the ringside cards when the stoppage came.

His effort and display should be commended, but Mayweather’s poise and invincibility remain constant into retirement.

Mayweather said: “He was a lot better than I thought. But I was the better man. I guaranteed everybody this would not go the distance. Boxing’s reputation was on the line.”

McGregor, who said he would return to the UFC but would not rule out boxing again, said: “I thought it was close and I thought it was a bit of an early stoppage. I was just a little fatigued.”

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Faf du Plesis believes World XI tour will open doors of international cricket to Pakistan

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Captain of World XI, Faf du Plessis has said that series with Pakistan is more just a game of cricket and we are looking forwards for the series between World XI and Pakistan.

Talking to local news channel, Faf du Plesis said that I am exicited and feeling great to be a part of the history making series in the Pakistan. This tour will open the doors of international cricket in Pakistan and hopefully the cricket loving nation will see the International and national heroes in Pakistan again, he added.

It is very glad from our side that we are playing a role to make sure that cricket played in Pakistan and bring backs the cricket where it belongs and it also great opportunity for young fans who didn’t have chance to see cricket in their own grounds, he added.

We (World XI) are hoping to give a tough time to the Pakistan and played a better cricket in the series, Faf du Plesis said.

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PCB announces 16-member squad for Independence Cup

LAHORE (APP): The National Selection Committee headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq selected a 16-member squad for the upcoming Independence Cup against World XI and have picked Sarfraz Ahmed to skipper the national side.

The three-match T-20I series would commence from September 12, with the remaining two matches scheduled to take place on September 13 and September 15, at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

“The team has been selected keeping in mind the conditions and the recent performances of some players in the domestic and international tours,” said the chief selector.

Inzamam added that the team is a combination of young and senior players.

Fahim Ashraf, Rumman Raees and Aamir Yamin have made a place in the squad due to their splendid performance in domestic tournaments, said Inzamam and added that Sohail Khan will be making a comeback.

“It would be good for the young players to get a chance to play on the home ground and perform in front of the local public”, added the chief selector.

Team Pakistan

1.        Sarfraz Ahmed

2.        Fakhar Zaman

3.        Ahmed Shehzad

4.        Baber Azam

5.        Shoaib Malik

6.        Umer Amin

7.        Imad Wasim

8.        Shadab Khan

9.        Muhammad Nawaz

10.    Faheem Ashraf

11.    Hassan Ali

12.    Amir Yamin

13.    Muhammad Amir

14.    Ruman Raees

15.    Usman Shinwari

16.    Sohail Khan

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World XI tour will opens doors of International cricket in Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Team Captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed has said that we are looking forward to play on our home ground in front of our own ground against the World XI tour to Pakistan.

Sarfaraz said that World XI tour will open the doors of international cricket in Pakistan and it was a very appreciable effort by the PCB for bringing the cricket back to home as we are the peace and cricket loving country and waiting for this moment since 2009.

Sarfaraz added that and now with the tour of World XI our wait is over and we looking forward for it.