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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.

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Muguruza stuns Venus to win first Wimbledon title

LONDON  (Agencies): Garbine Muguruza stormed to her first Wimbledon title and shattered Venus Williams’ history bid with a majestic 7-5, 6-0 victory in Saturday’s final.

Muguruza overwhelmed Williams with a supreme display of power hitting in 77 minutes on Centre Court to become only the second Spanish woman to win Wimbledon. Watched from the Royal Box by King Juan Carlos of Spain, the 23-year-old finally got her hands on the Venus Rosewater Dish two years after losing to the American’s sister Serena in her maiden Wimbledon final.

Fittingly, it was Muguruza’s current coach Conchita Martinez who was the first woman to raise the Spanish flag at Wimbledon in 1994 when she defeated Martina Navratilova. Venezuela-born Muguruza’s second Grand Slam title, following her French Open triumph last year, denied Williams, 37, in her attempt to become the oldest Wimbledon champion in the Open era.

Back in the Wimbledon final after an eight-year absence, Williams had hoped to clinch a sixth All England title, nine years after she last lifted the trophy. Instead, she paid the price for a surprisingly nerve-ridden display that condemned her to a second Grand Slam disappointment this year following her Australian Open final loss against Serena.

Since winning her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris, Muguruza had endured something of a sophomore slump as her ranking dropped out of the top 10. But she has rediscovered her mojo on grass and will climb to fifth when the new rankings are confirmed next week. Remarkably, of her four tour-level titles, two are now Grand Slams.

With persistent drizzle blanketing the All England Club, Williams and Muguruza were competing in the first Wimbledon final to begin under the roof, watched by a sell-out crowd including Hollywood actress Hilary Swank.

Twenty years ago, Venus admitted she was a bundle of nerves when she made a losing Wimbledon debut against Magdalena Grzybowska and, in her ninth All England Club final, once again there was anxiety coursing through the American’s error-strewn display. Fortified by a cross-court winner to bring up break point at 3-2, Williams looked poised to seize control, but instead a tame forehand into the net to let Muguruza off the hook.

It was the first of a series of vital escapes for Muguruza, who was matching Venus blow for blow in a series of bruising baseline rallies. Gifted two set point at 4-5, Venus couldn’t deliver the knockout blow and Muguruza over-powered her in a gripping rally to save the first before scrambling out of trouble on the second. Muguruza had the momentum now, her piercing ground-strokes gradually moving Williams into enough awkward areas to land the crucial first break at 5-5.

Williams was rattled by Muguruza’s barrage, fatally allowing the Spaniard’s lob to drop in and present her with set points that she gleefully gobbled up. Muguruza was just six when Venus first won Wimbledon and the 23-year-old’s third major final appearance was dwarfed by Williams’ 16 Grand Slam title matches.

But in all those finals, only Serena had produced the lethal power and poise Muguruza was showing and suddenly Williams was beginning to look her age. Still reeling from the shock of losing the first set, she served up a limp double fault on break point to hand Muguruza the lead at the start of the second set.

Williams was shattered and Muguruza went for the kill so ruthlessly that in the blink of an eye she had broken twice more to take a 5-0 lead. Muguruza had spoken eloquently this week of etching her name onto the Wimbledon honours board alongside Venus, Serena and the other All England Club icons. It took one last blizzard of thunderous winners to ensure her dream would come true.

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Mohammad Irfan shares news of ‘beautiful addition’ to family

LAHORE (NNI): Pakistan tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was blessed with a ‘beautiful addition’ to his family in the form of a son, who was born in a local hospital of Lahore on Saturday.

Irfan let the world know of this news when he took to Twitter and wrote, “My son, another beautiful addition in my family. Please pray for his health, success and life.”

The 35-year-old had two daughters and one son prior to the birth of fourth child. It has further been learnt that both the child and his mother are healthful. Mohammad Irfan is very happy on this special occasion, and says his son will bring good fortunes for him.

Let it be known that the left-arm pacer is facing a one-year ban from all formats of cricket as he failed to timely report the bookies’ offers of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials during the second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL), and was also fined $1,000.

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Sarfraz signs up for Yorkshire in England’s T20 Blast

LAHORE (Online): Sarfraz Ahmed pictured during the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed will feature for Yorkshire county in England’s domestic cricket competition NatWest T20 Blast next month.

Champions Trophy-winning captain Sarfraz, who was also handed the Test reins a week ago, has signed up to play five matches for Yorkshire Vikings in the ongoing T20 Blast, subject to him being granted the visa.

Teammate Azhar Ali congratulated the skipper on Twitter about his upcoming stint in the T20 Blast. Earlier this week, all-rounder Imad Wasim signed up for Durham county in the same tournament.

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir is already representing Essex in the T20 Blast, while former captain Shahid Afridi is playing for Hampshire. Pacer Junaid Khan left for UK earlier this week to feature for Lancashire in the T20 competition.

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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 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.

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.