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Sri Lanka to probe 2011 World Cup cricket defeat

COLOMBO (AFP): Sri Lanka’s sports minister gave his support Wednesday for an investigation into the country’s controversial 2011 World Cup loss against India, amid fresh allegations of match fixing.

The South Asian nation lost the World Cup decider by six wickets at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, stunning the cricket-mad island. Then Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara resigned soon after the match.

Pressure has since been mounting for an inquiry into the shock defeat, with a former cricket captain and a previous sports minister going public with their suspicions that Sri Lanka deliberately lost the match.

“The allegations merit an investigation,” Dayasiri Jayasekera told reporters in Colombo. “As soon as I get a written complaint, I will start a probe.”

Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 off 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. India turned the game dramatically thanks partly to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka.

The sports minister at the time Mahindananda Aluthgamage has raised fresh concerns, telling local media there were “several disturbing factors about that game”.

Four last-minute changes were made to the Sri Lankan side without prior approval being sought from the sports minister, breaching convention.

“Then there are also questions about the behaviour of a very senior player. During the match, instructions sent to the field were ignored,” Aluthgamage said, without naming the player in question.

The former minister said he launched an inquiry after the match, but the investigation was scuttled.

His concerns followed quick on the heels of comments from former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga, who last Friday demanded an inquiry be held to expose the “dirt” on dodgy cricketers.

Last year, the International Cricket Council imposed a three-year ban on a top Sri Lankan official Jayananda Warnaweera for failing to cooperate with an anti-corruption investigation.

Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match fixing in the past, but Warnaweera was the first high ranking official to be found guilty and penalised.

Betting is illegal in most of the cricket-mad Indian subcontinent, but backstreet bookmakers — many with underworld links — still flourish.

Although no big-name Sri Lankan player has ever been convicted of corruption, several former stars have made allegations of match fixing or spot-fixing — when players deliberately bowl or field badly to give away a set number of runs.

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Kohli seeks smooth relations with Shastri

MUMBAI (AFP): India captain Virat Kohli said Wednesday he wants a good working relationship with new coach Ravi Shastri after the acrimonious departure of Anil Kumble.

And the skipper expressed confidence he can make it work with Shastri. “We know what’s expected and what’s on the plate,” he said ahead of India’s departure for a tour of Sri Lanka.

Kohli was accused of forcing out Kumble after the spin legend resigned last month, saying his relationship with the captain had become “untenable”.

Kohli kept silent during the selection process that culminated in the return of Shastri, who was team director between 2014-16.

Speaking to media with Shastri at his side, Kohli spoke of the captain-coach relationship and the way ahead for the world number one Test side.

“We have worked together for three years. I don’t think I need to understand anything else. We know what’s expected and what’s on the plate. I don’t think it will require any effort,” Kohli said.

“A lot of speculations and lot of things fly around, those things are not in my control.

“My job is to try and get the best out of this team along with the management and perform to the best of my abilities which I believe in,” the star batsman added.

Shastri, who has been given a two-year contract running up to the 2019 World Cup, also spoke of the need to communicate better in order for a team to prosper.

“I carry on from where I left. I don’t come with any baggage… My job is to put every player in a frame of mind where he is thinking only about his role and the team he is playing for,” said the former all-rounder.

Shastri, 55, edged other high-profile names including compatriot Virender Sehwag and Australia’s Tom Moody after a tough selection process.

But Shastri insisted that while coaches may come and go, it is the team which should get the credit for any success.

“The team has done exceedingly well over three years and they are the people who deserve the credit more than anyone else. Ravi Shastris, Anil Kumbles will come and go,” said Shastri.

“The fabric of Indian cricket will remain and the credit should go to everyone who’s participated in this Indian team.”

India will play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 game in Sri Lanka. The first Test starts on July 26 in Galle.

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Federer climbs to third place in ATP rankings

PARIS (AFP) – Roger Federer climbed to third place in the latest ATP rankings Monday on the strength of his record eighth Wimbledon triumph.

His 19th grand slam win saw the Swiss jump two places up the rankings still dominated by Britain s Andy Murray, eliminated from Wimbledon in the quarter-finals, while Rafael Nadal, knocked out in the fourth round, holds on to second place.

ATP rankings:

1. Andy Murray (GBR) 7.750 pts

2. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 7,465

3. Roger Federer (SUI) 6,545

4. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6,325

5. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6,140

6. Marin Cilic (CRO) 5,075

7. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 4,030

8. Kei Nishikori (JPN) 3,740

9. Milos Raonic (CAN) 3,310

10. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 3,160

11. Alexander Zverev (GER) 3,160

12. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 2,805

13. Gael Monfils (FRA) 2,775

14. David Goffin (BEL) 2,605

15. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 2,570

16. Pablo Carreno (ESP) 2,350

17. Jack Sock (USA) 2,290

18. Lucas Pouille (FRA) 2,255

19. Roberto Bautista (ESP) 2,245

20. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 1,940.

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Brazilian football coach arrives in Karachi to train young players

KARACHI (PPI): Brazilian football Coach Romildo Sanchez arrived here on Tuesday on a 10-day visit to train young footballers and football coaches in Pakistan.

The US-based Brazilian has been invited by the Foundation United Soccer Academy, which works under the Foundation Public School.

Sanchez was greeted by a group of football coaches at the local hotel in Karachi before he spoke to media and vowed to help Pakistan find more talent in football.

“I believe Pakistan is on right path to become a power nation in soccer. In fact today when we were driving from the airport I saw people playing football on one side of the road and cricket on the other side. So, I understand that football is growing here,” he said while talking to media.

Sanchez, who is also the director of Players’ Club of Tampa Bay, said that watching footballers play on streets of Karachi reminded him of his days as a kid growing up in Brazil, where things were not too different.

“I grew up in Brazil playing on streets,” he said adding that those who grow up playing on streets become better players as they play the game without any fear.

“It’s the development phase, the learning phase, on streets. You play without pressure, you play for fun on streets with smile on face,” he said.

“All they need to do is polish their talent,” he added.

During the 10-day tour, Sanchez will hold football coaching camps at different schools and will also supervise training sessions for local coaches along with sessions with special kids and street child football team.

“Mr Romildo is here to train our students and kids. He’ll also be conducting sessions with coaches and with special children and street kids. He’ll also go to Hyderabad and coach the Hyderabad football academy,” said Murad Hussain, an official of Foundation United Football Academy.

Sanchez said that he’s aware of the things going on at the helm of affairs in Pakistan’s football, calling the situation very disappointing. He emphasised that all the stakeholders need to sit together and work for the betterment of football in the country.

“I am aware that FIFA has given Pakistan a deadline to figure out who is head of the federation,” he said.

“Problems at the federation need to be solved first, and groups need to come together because when you work together, football wins, country wins,” he added.

When asked, Sanchez said that for the growth of football all stakeholders will have to play their role, and more importantly a professional league should be formed for the players in Pakistan.

“The development phase needs you to have a good league to play. It takes a lot of efforts, not only from coaches but also the government needs to step in and do its job by building stadium and so on. The talent is there, but it needs to be developed. In order to be developed, you need to play competitive leagues in football,” he said.

He added that investing in football can change football’s fortune for Pakistan and people must think about it.

“It is a combination of business getting involved, government getting involved by building stadiums, leagues being formed; bringing professional players is key to promote football in the country,” he said.

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ICC clears Eranga’s bowling action

COLOMBO (AFP): Sri Lanka fast bowler Shaminda Eranga’s bowling action has been cleared and he can resume bowling in international cricket. Eranga underwent a reassessment of his action at the ICC accredited testing centre in Chennai with the conclusion that the amount of elbow extension in his standard deliveries was within the 15-degree level allowed by the ICC.

Eranga’s bowling action was found illegal in June last year after it was reported following the second Test in England. His action was assessed in Loughborough on June 6 when it was found illegal.

Incidentally, he was suspended from bowling in international cricket on the same day as he was hospitalised for experiencing an elevated heartbeat.

Eranga had played the third Test against England after his action was reported and the subsequent two ODIs against Ireland in June. He has not played any competitive cricket since then.

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England hold nerve in thriller to make final

BRISTOL (AFP): England progressed to their fifth World Cup final but not before South Africa gave them a mighty scare in Bristol. England nearly paid the price for switching off. A cruise when Sarah Taylor and Heather Knight were at the crease turned into a full-blown collapse when they lost three wickets – one of those to a brilliant run-out and another to a rank full toss – in the space of eleven deliveries. At 149 for 5, chasing 219, it was game on.

But England dug deep to find a way out. Fran Wilson and Jenny Gunn exhibited England’s batting depth to take them within six runs of victory. Wilson showed tremendous guts – none more than her scoop to a full ball over short third man off Shabnim Ismail with England needing 40 off 38 – to make 30, before falling in the 48th over.

It should have been easily from there on, but pressure can do strange things. South Africa were taking every step to make Nelson Mandela Day a memorable one. The game hinged on a knife’s edge as it went into the final over, off which England needed three. Ismail, entrusted with the responsibility of trying to polish off the last three wickets, put down a sharp chance off the first ball to reprieve Gunn. Nerves were jangling. Then with two needed off four, she foxed Laura Marsh with a slower ball. The England players were on tenterhooks now.

South Africa needed two wickets. Anya Shrubsole, hardly needed to bat in the tournament, was on strike. She saw width and flayed it through point to bring up the winning runs, runs that were like a dagger through South Africa’s hearts as another World Cup dream crashing down to ;eave them heart-broken even as a jubilant England side extended an arm of support to the wounded soldiers.

If South Africa were to reflect on the heart-wrenching loss, as they would in all likelihood, they’d perhaps rue letting England drift away when Taylor whipped, scooped and flicked her way to a half-century. Her 78-run stand with Knight had a deflating effect. They also didn’t help matters early in the chase by being a little off-colour on the field. Trisha Chetty, the record-holder for most dismissals in women’s ODIs, had a particularly bad day, fluffing two opportunities along with a number of fumbles to leak runs.

All of this meant South Africa had no control over proceedings until Dane van Niekerk brought them back with an inspirational effort – a one-handed pick up at cover to run Taylor out with a direct hit at the striker’s end in the 33rd over. They weren’t the same side from there on. Laura Wolvaardt’s acrobatic effort at square leg off a full toss sent Knight back. When Natalie Sciver was bowled around her legs by Sune Luus, South Africa’s hopes brightened.

The tournament’s best batting line-up was seriously being challenged by a gun attack. But England had a Gunn in their ranks too, and she biffed two boundaries off the 47th over to bring the equation to under a run-a-ball, shortly after Mosaline Daniels removed Katherine Brunt. But at the end, South Africa were left to rue a lower-order collapse of their own, which left them at least 30 short of what they should’ve got.

Wolvaardt and Mignon du Preez struck half-centuries, and together they put on 77 for the third wicket, to set South Africa for a tilt at 250, but they never gained momentum. Once Wolvaardt fell, England simply didn’t let the middle and lower order get away on a slow surface where manufacturing shots wasn’t easy.

Yet, Wolvaardt’s control of her batting stood out when runs were hard to come by. She batted with the maturity of a veteran, who knew how to make up for the slow start. At the other end, du Preez improvised, often manufacturing strokes by walking across or using the depth of the crease to either flick or cut and pull.

But the first sign of growing comfort resulted in Knight introducing spin. It was a sign that they’d done their homework. Laura Marsh and Alex Hartley tied the runs down in the middle overs, before Knight reaped the reward in her first over when Wolvaardt was out bowled trying to cut a skiddy delivery. Three balls later, a mix-up led to Marizanne Kapp’s run out.

South Africa’s last roll of the dice at 250 were Van Niekerk and Chloe Tryon, who replaced Masabata Klaas, only because they needed the middle-order muscle. When she chipped a simple return catch off her third delivery, South Africa’s innings had quickly descended into free fall. It needed a pugnacious unbeaten 76 from du Preez to give them a fighting chance, but it wasn’t quite enough.

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Egypt defeats Pakistan 3-2 in squash series

RAWALPINDI (APP): Egypt defeated Pakistan in the four-day international squash series 3-2, the final match of which was witnessed by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at Mushaf Ali Mir Squash Complex Islamabad on Sunday.

In the last two matches of the series played on Sunday, Pakistan’s Israr Ahmad and Farhan Mehboob beat Egypt’s Aboulghar and Karim Abdel Gawad respectively.

General Bajwa, the chief guest, witnessed the final match and closing ceremony of the Pakistan-Egypt International Squash Series 2017. He awarded trophies to the winners and runners up of the tournament.

Air Marshal Shahid Akhtar Alvi, senior vice president of Pakistan Squash Federation, former squash legends Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan, along with a large number of squash lovers witnessed the series.

Earlier on his arrival, Air Marshal Asad Lodhi, vice chief of the air staff, received the chief guest.

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Federer beats Cilic to win record eighth title

LONDON (Agencies): Roger Federer has done it again, this time in more dominant fashion than ever before. Without dropping a single set over the Wimbledon fortnight, the ageless wonder has taken the title, defeating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

The title, his first at the All England Club since 2012, gives him a record eight Wimbledon championships, surpassing a tie with Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, who played from the amateur era. It also extends Federer’s record of career slam championships to 19. It’s his second major this year — he also won the Australian Open.

In the first set, both men held in their first two service games. But serving at 2-2, Cilic fell behind 0-30 after a fantastic backhand volley from Federer and then 0-40 after an unforced error. Three points later, Federer converted on the break opportunity. From there he took over with his serve, holding at love twice before finishing the set with another break.

The Swiss superstar’s dominance continued in the second set. After sandwiching two holds around a break, he took a 3-0 lead. On the changeover, Cilic began sobbing in his chair, covering his face with a towel as a trainer came to his side. It wasn’t immediately clear what was ailing the Croat, though.

He had slipped on the aforementioned 0-30 point in the first set but finished the set out without needing medical assistance. Cilic returned to the court after his breakdown, but things didn’t get any easier. Trying to serve-and-volley more often, he won just one game the rest of the set as Federer’s dominance continued.

Cilic got medical attention again between the second and third sets, receiving treatment on his left foot. It seemed to help somewhat, as he held solidly for three straight games with Federer matching with holds of his own. At 3-3, however, Federer got the break he was looking for as light rain began to fall. From there, Federer finished the match in straightforward fashion, raising his fists to the air after conquering the field at his favorite event once again.

At 35 years and 11 months old, Federer is the second-oldest major champion ever, behind only Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at 37. It’s one of the very few records the Swiss superstar has to chase, and based on his form over the past two weeks, it’s not a stretch to think it’s more than well within reach.

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Sanchez hints at Arsenal exit

SANTIAGO (AFP): Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez hinted that he is looking to leave the club in the current transfer window after revealing his desire to play in the Champions League.

“I want to play in the Champions [League],” Sanchez told reporters in his native Chile at a charity match in his home town of Tocopilla. “But the decision isn’t up to me. I need to wait on Arsenal.”

Sanchez, along with playmaker Mesut Ozil, has only one year left on their contract, and both were linked with a move away from the club after the Gunners finished fifth on the league table last season. It was the first time in 20 years under manager Arsene Wenger when Arsenal could not finish in the top.

However, last week Ozil disclosed his intentions to stay at the club by claiming that new contracts talk will begin once he is back in London.

The former Barcelona forward has been linked with moves to Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich, among other clubs, and his comments will only increase speculation he is set to leave London.

The 28-year-old joined Arsenal in 2014 from the Catalan giants, and has already made103 league appearances for the club, where he scored 53 goals and provided 22 assists.

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Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath’s triple strike rattles Zimbabwe top-order

COLOMBO (AFP): Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath captured three early wickets to rattle Zimbabwe’s top-order after the hosts conceded a 10-run lead on the third day of their one-off Test in Colombo on Sunday.

Zimbabwe were left reeling at 23 for four at lunch with Sean Williams unbeaten on one and the visitors leading by just 33 runs in their second innings. Skipper Graeme Cremer gave Zimbabwe the lead after his maiden five-wicket haul helped bowl out Sri Lanka for 346, but the visiting batsmen let the small advantage slip.

It was Herath’s left-arm spin that undid the fine work from leg-spinner Cremer (5-125), as the veteran bowler took the wickets of Hamilton Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda and Regis Chakabva. Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera joined forces to get the prized wicket of first-innings centurion Craig Ervine for five at the stroke of lunch.

Earlier, Cremer bowled overnight batsman Asela Gunaratne for 45 as the Sri Lankan innings folded midway through the morning session. Gunaratne, who will not field this match after injuring his hamstring in the first innings, played with grit after being dropped down the batting order.

He formed crucial partnerships along the way, including a 48-run eighth-wicket stand with overnight partner Herath (22) to lift the hosts from a precarious 274-7 on day two. Despite needing medical assistance during his 110-ball knock, Gunaratne helped Sri Lanka add 53 crucial runs to their overnight score of 293-7.