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Danish Kaneria admits role in spot-fixing after six years

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s leg spinner, Danish Kaneria has admitted his role in a spot fixing scandal after six years of denials.

According to British media report, Danish Kaneria during an interview admitted his role in spot fixing which led to the imprisonment of former Essex team-mate Mervyn Westfield.

Leg spinner Danish Kaneria, who was given a life ban by English cricket chiefs that effectively applied worldwide, said in an interview for an Al Jazeera television documentary quoted by the Mail: “My name is Danish Kaneria and I admit that I was guilty of the two charges brought against me by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2012.

Kaneria added that “I want to apologize to Mervyn Westfield, my Essex team-mates, my Essex cricket club, my Essex cricket fans. I say sorry to Pakistan.”

Westfield spent two months at Belmarsh prison in south-east London after pleading guilty to accepting 6,000 pound ($7,862) from an illegal bookmaker, Anu Bhatt, to concede 12 runs in his first over of an English county 40-over game against Durham in 2009. He conceded only 10, but still took the money.

Kaneria was the “middle-man” in the scam, having introduced Westfield to Bhatt, but avoided criminal charges when English legal authorities decided they lacked the evidence for a conviction.

He last played for Pakistan in the Trent Bridge Test of 2010, and has not appeared in any first-class game since March 2012, with all major boards upholding the ECB ban under International Cricket Council guidance.

Kaneria further added that if the ECB and ICC and other bodies would give me a second chance I can help to educate young people in cricket, teach them that if you do wrong you are finished like me.

Kaneria said the fear of embarrassing his father, who died in 2013 and had been suffering from cancer, explained part of the reason behind his repeated denials of wrongdoing.

Leg spinner claimed that he didn t have the courage to face him and tell him that I was wrong. He was a very, very proud guy. Very, very proud of me and what I did, representing Pakistan, representing my country.

Meanwhile Westfield told the British media that he accepted Kaneria s apology, saying: “This whole chapter of spot-fixing changed my life, but I have never blamed anyone for the terrible mistake I made.

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Steyn, Rabada named for Australia tour

Monitoring Desk

Cape Town: South Africa have included express pacemen Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada in a 15-man squad for next month’s ODI series against Australia.

Rabada’s overturned two-match suspension for making physical contact with Steve Smith was one of the main talking points of this year’s Test series in South Africa prior to the ball-tampering furore.

Steyn recently marked his international return from injury against Zimbabwe, having gone almost two years without playing an ODI.

The 35-year-old was on the sidelines throughout this year’s Test series between the rivals, which was overshadowed by the incident that led to long bans for Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Australia’s three-match ODI series against South Africa starts in Perth on November 4. The two sides will then play a one-off Twenty20 on the Gold Coast on November 17.

Skipper Faf du Plessis is one of five members of the touring party who helped the Proteas win an incredibly spiteful Test series that was stacked with controversy.

“Never in my 14 years of refereeing have I seen such animosity between two teams,” match referee Jeff Crowe said earlier this year, having been in charge of the first two Tests.

The Proteas were unable to call on injured veterans Hashim Amla (finger) and JP Duminy (shoulder), but all-rounder Chris Morris returns from injury.

“Chris confirmed his fitness with his excellent form for the Titans in the first two rounds of the 4-Day Domestic Series,” Cricket South Africa (CSA) National Selection Panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi said in a statement on Wednesday.

“He is the leading wicket-taker in this competition to date and also adds value as a batting option in the lower-order.

“With Wiaan Mulder ruled out at the moment through injury we need to look at our resources as far as batting all-rounder options are concerned and Dwaine, in particular, fits into this category.

“We have also lost a lot of experience in our specialist batting order through the injuries to Hashim Amla and JP Duminy, and Farhaan gives us another experienced option in the top order.”

Both South Africa and Australia will be looking to ramp up their preparations for the 2019 World Cup.

Fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, who missed the ongoing UAE tour because of back injuries, are both hoping to return for Australia in the ODI series

South Africa’s 15-man ODI squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn.






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Pliskova and Svitolina secure spots at WTA Finals

MOSCOW (AP): Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina secured the last two places at the season-ending WTA Finals despite neither winning a match on Wednesday.

The fifth-ranked Pliskova lost to Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2 at the Kremlin Cup, giving the idle Svitolina a spot in the tournament in Singapore. Kiki Bertens then lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 a short time later, handing Pliskova the final spot.

Bertens, however, could still make it if top-ranked Simona Halep skips the tournament with a back injury. Halep withdrew from the Kremlin Cup because of the injury.

Also, Sloane Stephens was eliminated in her opening Kremlin Cup match by Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2. The third-seeded American, who had a first-round bye, lost her opening service games in each set.

Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, secured qualification for the WTA Finals last week after a strong season which included reaching the French Open final.

Jabeur will next face Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. The eighth-seeded Estonian beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 7-6 (3).

The 34-year-old Zvonareva, a former Wimbledon and U.S. Open finalist, will next play Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian beat Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

In the men’s draw, third-seeded Karen Khachanov defeated Lukas Rosol 6-4, 7-5, and Ricardas Berankis beat Aljaz Bedene 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the quarterfinals.


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Messi would struggle in current Man United team, says Scholes

London (AFP): Paul Scholes says even Lionel Messi would struggle to shine in the current Manchester United team and that the struggling club are being laughed at by their rivals.

The former United and England midfielder has been a frequent and vocal critic of his old club, who are languishing in eighth place in the Premier League — five points adrift of any other member of the “Big Six”.

They had to watch Manchester City win last season’s title in record-breaking fashion and Pep Guardiola’s men are flying high at the top once more, alongside Liverpool and manager Jose Mourinho’s former club Chelsea.

“That shouldn’t make any difference but it does,” Scholes told ESPN. “United now feels like Liverpool from years ago, like we’re making all the same mistakes as they did.

“We were watching Liverpool and City from afar and smirking as they changed managers and players every year, never getting anything right. It feels like we have turned into a Liverpool or a Man City.

“I feel like people at Liverpool and Man City are looking at us and laughing like we did at them many years ago.”

Mourinho has spent more than £350 million ($460 million) on players since arriving at Old Trafford in 2016.

Despite that, he has clashed with the club’s hierarchy over recruitment while costly signings including Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba have failed to flourish under his management.

“I don’t think there’s a lack of quality there,” said Scholes. “I do think they miss a couple of real class players that other top teams seem to have — a link player between the midfield and the forwards and also a controlling midfield player.

“It feels like every player who comes into the team struggles. I feel like we could sign Lionel Messi at the moment and he’d struggle in this team.

“I think (Mourinho) still is (a great manager), but you wonder why his side keep getting outplayed.”



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Dubois swaps Olympic prospects

LONDON (BBC): Daniel Dubois is talking about his switch from the relative comfort zone of amateur boxing to the demands of the professional game. Billed by some as the next Anthony Joshua, the athleticism of his 6ft 5in frame understandably draws comparisons with the unified heavyweight champion of the world.

GB Boxing bosses thought his talent could blossom at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo but instead this 21-year-old is nine fights into a paid career which promises much. “Let’s learn on the job and learn what goes on in the professional ring and outside of the ring,” Dubois tells BBC Sport. “All of the safety harnesses are gone when you’re a pro.

This is what I have been working for from the age of eight. So there’s no turning back as this is what I’ve been heading towards as a person.” Locals drinking coffee at the prestigious Peacock Gym in London’s Canning Town know the Dubois fighting family. Daniel is one of his father Dave’s 11 children. His 17-year-old sister Caroline is a world junior champion currently competing in the Youth Olympics, while teenage brother Prince is clocking up wins on the youth circuit. All three know the significance of the Peacock. The greats have grafted in this east London boxing hub – Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, Marco Antonio Barrera, Lennox Lewis, Prince Naseem Hamed, Steve Collins, Ricky Hatton and Chris Eubank.

Floyd Mayweather packed the place out to work out almost a decade ago. The demand to train here even once led to management building a shed – minus planning permission – on the roof to house travelling fighters. Dubois first felt the energy of the place aged eight, when he watched his father keeping fit at the facility. “I was brought up with my dad as a single parent from day one,” Dubois says. “He was pretty strict, kept me on the straight path. He had a massive impact, made sure I stuck with it. “He was big into keeping me strong, getting me into fitness. As a kid I was skinny, slim, there wasn’t really any muscle on my frame. Then when I was about 16 I started eating a lot. “My dad and I had a goal to get to heavyweight so around then he started feeding me anything and everything. I’d be on full chickens – it was a heavyweight diet programme.


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O’Sullivan makes 15th maximum break at English Open

LONDON (BBC): Ronnie O’Sullivan hit his 15th career maximum 147 break at the English Open, two days after describing the venue as a “hellhole”.

The five-time world champion made the total clearance in the final frame of his second-round 4-0 whitewash of Allan Taylor at the K2 in Crawley.

However, he will have to share the £17,000 total prize after Thepchaiya Un-Nooh’s 147 on Tuesday.

On Monday O’Sullivan, 42, criticised the venue, saying it smelt of urine.

But the defending champion was in superb form against Essex cueman Taylor, also making a 135 break in the second frame, as he wrapped up victory in just over an hour.

“It’s nice to get a 147 for the crowd. Whether it’s a good 147 or a bad 147, in their eyes it’s just a 147 so they’re all happy,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport.

“For me it’s more about piecing together a cue action that is capable of winning tournaments.

“I guess 147s and hundreds make for good soundbites, but for me as a purist it’s always more about feeling like you can win tournaments.”

It is O’Sullivan’s second maximum in 2018, having made one against Elliot Slessor at the China Open in April.

His two hundred-plus breaks in the match also took the world number three to 956 career centuries.

Responding to O’Sullivan’s criticism of the venue, World Snooker said other players’ feedback was “overwhelmingly positive” and felt the K2 was “an excellent venue with very good facilities”.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, 2010 world champion Neil Robertson and world number 13 Ryan Day went through to the third round, but China’s number two Liang Wenbo lost to Scotland’s Eden Sharav.

The afternoon session sees world number one Mark Selby play Ben Woollaston and four-time world champion John Higgins face Nigel Bond.

Veteran Jimmy White meets Matthew Stevens at 19:00 BST with the winner taking on O’Sullivan, while world champion Mark Williams plays Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher.


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Abbas, Fakhar and Azhar Ali extend Pakistan’s dominance

Monitoring Desk

ABU DHABI: It was the day all days this series were supposed to be like. With a Pakistan team that has historically been near-invincible in the UAE against an Australian Test unit that was near-unrecognisable, the hosts, at last, dominated in every single facet. Their fast bowlers outbowled Australia’s, their spin bowlers were a class apart, and the batting was in a different league to the visitors’ calamitous effort that they offered this morning. The upshot was Pakistan lead by 281 runs with eight wickets still in hand. With three days remaining in this Test, any fourth-innings batting heroics this time, however Herculean they may be, are unlikely to prevent an Australian defeat.

Australia’s only chance of victory lay in turning over Pakistan cheaply, but those hopes were dashed courtesy another deft innings from debutant Fakhar Zaman. This one was more to type, the opener clever enough to understand he would be able to cut loose in the way that’s become his strength, quick runs being the best way to put the game out of Australia’s reach. He put on 66 of them, and looked on track to reach the debut hundred he was so agonisingly denied yesterday. But a stunning catch from Nathan Lyon off his own bowling dashed Fakhar’s hopes. Lyon looked to be taking evasive action after Fakhar struck the ball hard, but the cherry lodged itself in his hands, and Australia could celebrate a fleeting moment of joy.

Even Azhar Ali, who had struggled for runs over the past 18 months, found form today, finishing unbeaten on 54 when the day drew to a close. He looked more confident than he has in months, looking more certain when he used his feet. He was also willing to be patient when the bowling grew tight, refusing to yield in the manner he had in two of his three previous innings this series. While Lyon remained – by a distance – Australia’s best bowler, it wasn’t compliments but numbers in the wickets column that Australia needed to feel more hopeful at the end of the second day.

For the second time in as many Tests, Pakistan punched big holes in Australia’s middle order, establishing firm control right from the outset. It was Mohammad Abbas, the flavour of this season, who continued to endear himself to Pakistan’s fans. He teased and tested Australia’s batsmen in a game of patience, as Shaun Marsh and Travis Head were his third and fourth victims this morning, adding to the two scalps he had from last evening. The pair fell in almost identical fashion: Abbas pitching on a line just outside off stump and nipping away ever-so-slightly, the outside edges almost drawn to the ball as if they were in its magnetic field.

Sarfraz Ahmed, keen to take advantage of the new ball while the pitch was cooperative, kept Abbas in for a lengthy seven-over spell, and Pakistan seem to have unearthed a gem who looks dangerous whatever the conditions or situation. He can bowl in England, West Indies or the UAE without so much as noticing where he is. Right-handers, left-handers, new ball, old ball. He is a trump card Pakistan may continue to play for years to come.

Mitchell Marsh looked solid for the time he was at the crease, and with Aaron Finch, who had managed to survive all morning, Australia needed a partnership of the sort Sarfraz and Fakhar had put on on Tuesday. But within the last half hour before lunch, the session’s pendulum swung decisively in Pakistan’s favour as the spinners made their presence felt. First it was Yasir who took Marsh’s edge, another catch for the reliable Asad Shafiq at first slip. Bilal Asif then struck the hammer blow when he removed the opener Finch for 39, with short leg diving to take a smart catch after the ball had skimmed the inside edge. And there was still time for Asif to remove the Australia captain Tim Paine in the last over before lunch, trapping him on the crease as the ball spun sharply into his pads.

Pakistan didn’t need any help, but they were assisted by a moment of madness from Marnus Labuschagne which ended Australia’s biggest partnership – 37 runs. After Starc drove Yasir tamely back to the bowler, Yasir got a touch onto the ball as it headed towards the stumps. Labuschagne had his bat in the air as he watched the ball hit the stumps, but inexplicably failed to ground his bat. Soon after, Asif broke through Lyon’s defences, before Abbas completed a five-wicket haul – and his career-best innings figures – to wrap up Australia’s innings.

With none of the batting concerns Australia had before this series coming close to being resolved, it appears hard to see a way out of this hole for Paine’s men. Pakistan, meanwhile, are on course to put last week aside as an unfortunate blip, and walk away with the authority to claim that their UAE formula still adds up.

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Germany ready for all Brexit scenarios: Merkel

Monitoring Desk

BERLIN: Germany is preparing for all Brexit scenarios, including the U.K. leaving the EU without agreement, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

Addressing lawmakers in parliament ahead of an EU leaders summit, Merkel expressed hope for reaching an agreement between the EU and U.K. on time, but also said that Berlin was ready for all options. “The chance of concluding a good and viable agreement on time is still there, and of course it is in our interest,” Merkel said.

“At the same time it is part of a responsible and future-oriented governance to be ready for all scenarios, including the possibility that the U.K. will withdraw from the EU without a deal. And as the federal government, we have also started preparing ourselves for that scenario,” she added.

Merkel underlined that the EU would like to maintain a close and trusted partnership relation with the U.K., even after its withdrawal from the bloc. Brexit negotiations between the EU and U.K. broke up on Sunday without a deal, due to disagreements on the Irish border issue.

EU leaders are gathering in Brussels on Wednesday evening for a two-day summit, which would focus on the U.K.’s exit talks from the 28-member bloc, issues of migration and internal security. British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to address EU leaders on the state of the U.K.’s exit talks at the gathering.

Later, leaders of 27 member states and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will discuss the way forward in Brexit talks. (AA)




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Greek FM resigns over dispute on Macedonia name deal

Monitoring Desk

ATHENS: The Greek foreign minister on Wednesday resigned after a disagreement over the Macedonia name change deal, the prime ministry said.

According to a statement, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted the resignation of Nikos Kotzias stating that the prime ministry would take over on the Macedonia name deal to ensure its completion.

Speaking to reporters, Tsipras said he would handle affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

Tsipras said that the move aims to prevent giving different messages about the name deal. “Greece and my government will fulfill the requirements of international obligations,” he said.

The resignation came after Kotzias had an argument with Defense Minister Panos Kammenos — who long objected to the name deal — during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, local media reports said. The name issue has kept Macedonia from joining the EU and NATO since its independence in 1991.

Macedonia’s international recognition was finalized in April 1993, when the country was unanimously adopted as a member of the UN General Assembly, but was admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to pressure by Greece. Despite the dispute between Athens and Skopje, many countries, including Turkey, recognize the country as Macedonia.

In June, the Macedonian and Greek governments signed the Prespa Agreement which requires Macedonia to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia and Greece to drop its objection to Macedonia joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and becoming a member of the European Union. (AA)



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‘Serbia must solve issues with Kosovo on EU path’

Monitoring Desk

BELGRADE: Austria fully supports Serbia’s path to the European Union, but first it must resolve its issues with Kosovo, said Austria’s president on Wednesday, on a two-day visit to the capital Belgrade.

“The Union must insist that open bilateral issues, border issues [with Kosovo] must be clarified,” said Alexander Van der Bellen at a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Van der Bellen, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, added that there is a prevailing opinion in the EU that these issues have to be overcome and he believes Vucic is working hard to resolve them.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade insists the country remains part of Serbia. Since then tensions have remained high between Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority and a small Serb minority in the north. Kosovo is recognized by over 100 countries, including Turkey, U.S., Britain, France, and Germany.

“If there is a conciliatory solution between the two sides, then the European Union, the United States, and all the direct and indirect participants will be very happy to examine this peaceful and agreeable solution,” said Van der Bellen. He added that Serbia is in the leading position among candidates for EU membership.

“It is quite clear and I think it is obvious that Austria fully supports the path of Serbia to the EU, and maybe this visit is small proof of that,” said Van der Bellen. Vucic, for his part, said he had told Bellen that Serbia is always ready to talk with Kosovo and hold an open dialogue on key issues, but repeated that a compromise solution is needed.

The two presidents are set to attend a Serbian-Austrian Business Forum, and Van der Bellen will meet with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. This is the third meeting of the two presidents this year. (AA)