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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.

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Rooney returns to Everton from Manchester United

LONDON (AFP): England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney completed a move back to his first club Everton on Sunday, the player told the Press Association in a statement.

The 31-year-old who had become a peripheral figure under Jose Mourinho last season signed a two year contract with Everton bringing the curtain down on 13 trophy-laden years at Manchester United.

“It is some time since I said that the only Premier League club I would play for other than Manchester United was Everton, so I am delighted that the move has happened,” he said in the statement.

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NAB investigates references on merit-basis, clarifies officials

ISLAMABAD (APP): The officials at National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has spoken up after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has recommended the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to order National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to pursue case against Sharif family over Panamagate.

The officials revealed that NAB investigates such kind of references on merit basis.

It was also revealed by the officials that unless and until the reference is proved in NAB, the person against whom it is filed is not guilty.

Moreover, the officials also clarified that it is not necessary that the defendant should be arrestedon the basis of asset related reference.

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JIT recommends case against Nawaz and Family

ISLAMABAD : – Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has recommended the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) to order National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to pursue case against Sharif family over Panamagate, reports Dunya Tv.

Dunya News has obtained copy of the JIT report filed in the top court today that comprises of 256 pages and ten volumes.

Out of the ten volumes, nine were made public by the top court and are available at the registrar office.

According to the report, the probe committee has found lifestyle of the first family not in lines with the income that they are shown to earn in documents. Which is why, it is recommended, the JIT states, that the case be forwarded to NAB to lodge a reference against the family.

A lot of offshore companies are linked with family’s businesses in London, the report reads.

Reportedly, the record put forth by PM s cousin, Tariq Shafi in his two JIT appearances failed to match those obtained from central bank of Dubai.

“We would like to inform that after check in records of Dubai Customs, it seemed that there wasn t any scrap machinery transported from Dubai to Jeddah during 2001-2002.”