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Babar Azam claims top T20I batting rank

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: After their emphatic series win against the West Indies, Pakistan’s star batsman Babar Azam while bowler Shadab Khan is now second in the T20I team rankings.

Babar has claimed the number one rank in batting, whereas spinner Shadab swings to second position in a career-first in the ICC T20I Player Rankings.

Babar was in superb form during as he scored 17, 97 not out and 51 in the 3-0 series win against West Indies. He was declared player of the series for consistency and was rewarded with a two-place jump in the rankings, making him the top-ranked batsman in T20Is for the second time in a span of 10 weeks.

Shadab Khan, on the other hand, jumped 10 places to take second spot in the bowling charts following his five wickets in the series. Shadab garnered 125 points for the recently concluded series, giving him a 26 points edge over Afghanistan wrist spinner Rashid Khan, who is just 14 days older than Shadab.

Pakistan fast-bowlers Muhammad Amir and Hasan Ali are also on the charge in the latest rankings. Amir has moved 15 places to 12th, while Hasan has jumped 10 places to a career-high 30th position. Further, Pakistan’s left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz is the biggest mover in the latest rankings.

The 24-year-old took four wickets in the series, which helped him rise 66 places to a career-high 53rd rank. Other bowlers to advance in their rankings include Kesrick Williams (57th, up by seven places), Faheem Ashraf (68th, up by 24 places) and Shoaib Malik (82nd, up by five places).

Shoaib Malik is Pakistan’s highest-ranked all-rounder, in ninth position, after moving up two places. Windies’ Marlon Samuels has slipped one place to fifth. In the meantime, Pakistan have gained a four-point advantage over second-ranked Australia following the 3-0 win. Windies, in contrast, have dropped from fifth to seven after losing four points.


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RMI MCL begins, PPC Qalandars beat PPC Zalmi

Ali Sheikh

PESHAWAR: PPC Qalandars beat PPC Zalmi by 29 runs in the opening match of the second edition of RMI Media Cricket League on Wednesday. Speaker KP Assembly Asad Qaiser inaugurated the event.

This is the 2nd edition of the Media Cricket League organized by Peshawar Press Club for as part of healthy activities for the journalist community.

PPC Qalandars after winning the toss opted to bat first. But their strong opening pair failed to score as hard hitting Mehmood was bowled by Fahad in just second over of the match. At one point Qalandars were reduced to 28 for 3 as opening spells by Fahad and Zawar gave no chance to the batsmen to play free shots. Aftab then came to bat and made 19 runs hitting one six and one four in his 9-ball stay at the wicket. Aftab provided the platform Qalandars needed to score a fighting total. After Aftab, Qalandars captain Adil Pervez came to bat and he along with Akhtar Amin played superb shots all around the ground taking full advantage of some wayward bowling by Zalmi.

Akhtar Amin hit three consecutive towering sixes in one over before being bowled by Niaz. He faced only four balls for his 18 runs, while adil also hit one four and one six in his 12 runs. Durrani also score 17 runs off just four balls hitting two huge sixes and one four. Anwar remained not out on 8 runs. Qalandars scored 60 runs in the last three overs as they end their innings with 119 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in the allotted 10 overs. Fahad was pick of the bowlers with three wickets while Zawar and Niaz took two wickets each.

In response Zalmi managed to score only 90 runs as the Qalandar bowlers bowled superb and gave no room to Zalmi batsmen. Captain Adil Pervez took three wickets while Aftab took two wickets. From Zalmi only Zawar (25) and Ihsan (10) entered double figures. Aftab was named Man of the Match for his all round performance.

President Peshawar Press Club Alamgir Khan, General Secretary Shahab ud Din, Chairman Sports Committee Yasir Ali, Manager Administration of RMI Maj (retd) Syed Naveed ul Haq Jilani, Public Relations Officer of RMI Sajjad Khan, SSP Traffic Yasir Afridi and Marketing Director of Top Up mineral water company Faheem Khan was also present on the occasion.

It is pertinent to mention that RMI, Top Up, Directorate of Sports KP and Traffic Wardens Police sponsored the event.

Fourteen teams are participating in the event the first phase of which will be played at Government Shaheed Hasnain Sharif Higher Secondary School No. 1 while the knock-out stage will be played at Arbab Niaz Stadium. Final will be played on April 28.


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Djokovic splits from Agassi, Stepanek

Monitoring Desk

BELGRADE: Former world number one Novak Djokovic, struggling back from a long injury lay-off, confirmed Wednesday that he had split with his coaches Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek.

The 12-time Grand Slam winner lost his opening game at the ATP Miami Masters last month, the latest setback for the Serbian star as he bids to return from the elbow injury that sidelined him for six months and finally saw him have “minor” surgical intervention after a disappointing Australian Open.

“After Miami Novak Djokovic and his tennis coach Radek Stepanek decided to end their cooperation. The cooperation between Novak and Andre Agassi has also ended,” according to a statement on Djokovic’s official website. “Novak remains focused and eager to come back stronger and more resilient from long injury break that has affected his confidence and game.” There was no word about which future coaches might be lined up as Djokovic departed on a short family holiday ahead of preparations proper for the upcoming clay season. Stepanek joined Djokovic’s team in December 2016 and former world number one Agassi came on board in May 2017.

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Sri Lanka to host South Africa

Monitoring Desk

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will host South Africa for two Tests, five one-day internationals and a one-off Twenty20 game from July, the island nation´s cricket board said Wednesday.

The Proteas, who thrashed Australia 3-1 in their recent home Test series, will arrive in Sri Lanka in early July for their sixth tour of the island. The first Test in Galle starts on July 12 followed by the second at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo starting July 20. The limited-overs action begins with an ODI on July 29 in Dambulla.

The series will wrap up with a T20 showdown at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on August 14. South Africa claimed series wins in Sri Lanka during the 1993 and 2014 tours. South Africa are ranked second in Test cricket and have been a dominant side at home, with recent wins over Bangladesh, India and Australia.


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Ronaldo’s bicycle kick caps emphatic Real win

Monitoring Desk

TURIN: Cristiano Ronaldo scored with a bicycle kick which was outrageous even by his standards to lead Real Madrid to an emphatic 3-0 win away to Juventus in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg on Tuesday.

With his back to goal, Ronaldo launched himself into the air to meet Dani Carvajal’s chipped ball and produced a perfectly-executed bicycle shot which flew past keeper Gianluigi Buffon and put Real 2-0 ahead. The goal was greeted by applause even from Juventus fans who only minutes earlier had hounded and insulted Ronaldo when he shot wide.

The Portuguese had got Real off the mark with a third-minute goal, scoring for a record 10th successive Champions League game, and Marcelo was also on target as Juve’s five-year unbeaten home record in European competition crumbled. A red card for playmaker Paulo Dybala in the 66th minute completed a miserable evening for the Serie A champions, beaten 4-1 by Real in last season’s Champions League final. “When you play against sides like this, you need a little bit of luck and, more than anything else, to meet Ronaldo on a bad night,” said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri. “I am disappointed with the third goal because we should have tried to keep it down to 2-0 and then try to achieve something remarkable in Madrid.”

Point-blank save

Juventus had not lost at home in Europe since Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win in April 2013, a 27-match run, but that record was quickly under threat as their usually impregnable defence was split open with nonchalant ease after only three minutes.

Marcelo passed the ball between two defenders to set Isco free on the left and his low cross to the near post was flicked into the net by Ronaldo for his eighth goal in six meetings against Juventus.

Juventus responded well to the setback, launching a series of dangerous attacks, and Real goalkeeper Keylor Navas prevented what seemed a certain goal with a superb point-blank save from Gonzalo Higuain’s volley.

Defender Giorgio Chiellini also missed a good chance when he misdirected a header from a corner but Real were always menacing and Toni Kroos thumped a rising shot against the bar from 25 metres. Juve also began the second half in lively mood but lost their way in a dramatic eight minutes.

An uncharacteristic mix-up between Buffon and veteran defender Chiellini started a Real attack which ended with Ronaldo’s astonishing goal, his 14th in the Champions League this season, in the 64th minute. Two minutes later, Dybala, booked in the first half for a dive in the penalty area, was given a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Carvajal.

Marcelo applied the coup de grace in the 72nd minute as he switched passes with Isco and then Ronaldo before rounding Buffon to score into an empty net. Ronaldo nearly grabbed a hat-trick and although Juve escaped further damage they face an almost impossible task in next week’s return.


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‘Turkish firms in Serbia have access to EU, Russia’

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA): Turkey’s ambassador to Belgrade Tanju Bilgic said the Turkish companies investing in Serbia have access to both EU and Russian markets.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bilgic said the positive implications of the two-day visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Serbia and the agreements signed during this visit are continuing.

A review of a bilateral free trade agreement was signed alongside twelve other agreements in the presence of Erdogan and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in October last year.

The Turkish ambassador emphasized that it is “extremely important” for Turkish companies to invest in Serbia to achieve the trade volume target of $2 billion.

“A target of $2 billion trade volume is not a dream, it is quite a realistic goal. Last year we achieved the trade volume of $1.1 billion. With the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement, this figure will increase,” said Bilgic.

Recalling that Serbia has signed a free trade agreement with Russia, Bilgic said Turkish companies investing here could easily access to both EU and Russian markets.

“The Customs Union Agreement between Serbia and the European Union (EU) provides important opportunities for Turkish investors because the EU is one of the major markets for Turkish exports,” said Bilgic.

Meanwhile, Halkbank Serbia’s Director Kenan Bozkurt said that Serbia is a “gateway to both East and West”.

‘Gateway to east and west’

“Our goal is to be a bridge between Serbia and Turkey, both in the region and to facilitate access to the EU market. Serbia is a gateway to both east and the west. We are aiming to reach Europe and Asia with our branches in Turkey and Serbia.

Halkbank is one of Turkey’s biggest banks and a state-run lender. It bought a 76.76 percent stake in Serbia’s local lender, Cacanska Banka, on May 20, 2015. The bank opened its first branch in Serbia in October 2015.

Bozkurt noted that Halkbank also wants to take part in Serbia’s agriculture.

“Halkbank has also participated in the agrarian forum twice, and we want to take part in such projects more often because our work is with the public,” said Bozkurt.

The bank operates with more than 400 employees and currently has 32 branches and offices throughout Serbia and several new branches to be opened by the end of 2018.

Halkbank is the second-largest state lender after Ziraat Bank in Turkey with 900 branches and 19,000 employees.

Nearly half of Halkbank’s shares are traded on Turkey’s main stock exchange, the Borsa Istanbul.


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Yousuf, Basit welcomes business partners

F.P. Report

KARACHI: ZamZam Pullman Makkah & Madinah are part of cosmopolitan Pullman brand, which is owned by Accorhotels, one of the biggest International hospitality operators in the world, and Makkah & Madinah. Umrah Season 1439 started with both iconic hotels opening their doors to business partners from Pakistan, featuring Pullman branded Rooms & Suites, and special oriental-inspired cuisine & Pakistani specialties based menus created by our talented Chefs. Both iconic hotels will continue welcoming the business partners from the Pakistan to create synergies leading to fantastic success stories.

Pakistan, an important market to our success

During 2017, according to Ministry of Hajj (Saudi Arabia), the esteemed pilgrims from Pakistan feature the top country origins with more than 22% volume with-in total International pilgrims, which is 50% higher from pilgrims volume in 2016. In this Umrah season, Pakistan remains as in focus for ZamZam Pullman Makkah & Madinah. Hotels are capable to provide tailor-made personalized experience to the esteemed pilgrims featuring the International cuisine with flair of oriental Pakistani specialties – thanks to our talented Culinary Delights team.

What’s new in Makkah & Madinah?

ZamZam well renovation has been completed already. Due to this, the space for tawaf around the holy Ka’ba in the courtyard has resumed to normal operations.

Haramain Railway Project will open in 2018 and will streamline the traveling between two holy destinations. Railway stations, pose minutes away from both hotels, looking stunning in architecture, and will improve the holy destinations experience for the pilgrims coming from both inside & outside Kingdom.

Jeddah Airport Extension (soft opening in 2018) will start welcoming prestigious pilgrims from around the globe. The new expension of Al Masjid Al Haram in Makkah is scheduled to open in 2018 – it will double the current capacity of number of pilgrims.

Both ZamZam Pullman Makkah & Madinah, will provide exclusive offers for business partners from Pakistan, enabling a better personalized experience. Pirwani Hajj Group Ltd is the preferred travel agent based in Pakistan. The esteemed business partner is known for astounding Hajj & Umrah services in Pakistan since last 30 years.

ZamZam Pullman Madinah offers shuttle bus service for the elderly to the Mosque of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), for a seamless stay.

In 2018, ZamZam Pullman Makkah, the first hotel to open in Iconic Abraj Al Bait Complex, is all set to bring new flair of cosmopolitan Pullman Hotels & Resorts to ever competitive hospitality market of Makkah. Pilgrims will be able to experience the iconic hotel from a new perspective during their journey of lifetime.

Pullman is the upscale international hotel brand of Accor, the world’s leading hotel operator, present in 92 countries with over 3.500 hotels and 160.000 employees. Located in the main regional and international cities and in prime tourist destinations. Pullman Hotels & Resorts is principally designed to cater for the requirements of cosmopolitan, seasoned travelers, whether they are travelling alone, with their clans or with colleagues. The brand’s establishments offer a new approach to upscale hospitality. The Pullman network has more than 80 hotels in Europe. Africa, the Middle East. Asia-Pacific and Latin America where ideas, histories and cultures meet. Our objective is to have 150 hotels around the world by 2015-2020 Pullman, like most of Accor’s brands, is proud to offer the Le Club Accorhotels loyalty program.


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Ghandhara Nissan unveils JAC X200

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Ghandhara Nissan Limited, the leading vehicle manufacturer of Pakistan has launched its locally assembled JAC Motors X200 1ton Pickup in Pakistan, which is mainly used for Distribution of Goods in urban and rural areas.

Consequently, the company held a gracious ceremony on April 3rd, 2018 at Global Marquee to unveil its latest product X200 Pickup Truck. Addressing to the invitees of the ceremony, Mr. Ahmad Kuli Khan Khattak (Chief Executive Officer) and Mr. Muazzam Pervaiz Khan (Sr. Executive Director- Marketing & Sales – Ghandhara Nissan Ltd.) emphasized on the historical background of the company. Mr. Oscar Yu (Head of Light Commercial Vehicle Business – JAC Motors) also addressed the gathering. Which consisted, among others, large number of bankers, logistic companies, local parts vendors and 3S dealers.

Addressing at the event, Ahmad Kuli Khan Khattak told the audience that Ghandhara Nissan Limited was incorporated in 1981 as a Private Ltd Company and acquired the license of sale for the distribution of Nissan vehicles in CBU condition in Pakistan. Ghandhara Nissan launches JAC Motors X200 1ton Pickup in Pakistan which is used for Distribution of Goods in urban and rural areas.

It is now being produced locally, previously it was imported in a built up condition from China. The network of dealers in Pakistan is widely spread in 8 major cities.

Mr. Ahmad Kuli Khan Khattak (Chief Executive Officer) claimed that it is a milestone which ghandhara NIssan has achieved in terms of local production for X200.

In such short time, this vehicle has made its mark in terms of its performance and quality standards. Ghandhara Nissan will ensure to sustain the consistency in the quality of locally assembled vehicles. JAC Motors is one of the leading companies of China, which is an expert in manufacturing Light Commercial Vehicles.

Production Capacity at Ghandhara Nissan for this specific model is 5000 units per annum on single shift basis. Senior Management from JAC motors china led by Mr. Oscar Yu (Head of Light Commercial Vehicle Business – JAC Motors) informed the audience that they will be offering more products in this strategic market. Their partner Ghandhara Nissan is very strong and professional, and a massive growth is expected in the near future due to CPEC in this region.


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Development model for Muslim world needs change: Bank

TUNIS, Tunisia (AA): The development model of the Muslim world, which heavily relies on state institutions must be changed, the president of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) said Wednesday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the bank’s annual meeting in the Tunisian capital Tunis, Bandar Hajjar said: “The IDB is the institution which will change this situation.”

He added that there was strong demand by member states for support from IDP.

The IDB governors held meetings with high-level officials about development challenges and reconstructed the bank’s structure to fulfil this demand, he said.

The bank is trying to bring together private and public sectors and other stakeholders to accelerate development in member states.

“Member countries need $120 billion only for the energy sector, but the bank could only cater to eight percent of these needs,” he said, adding that $3 trillion are required to address the gap in infrastructure.

“But we are encouraging the involvement of the private sector to work together in addressing our development challenges.”

Hajjar said member states have a population of 1.6 billion, 60 percent of them youth, and their needs are increasing every day.

The bank has also established a fund to carry out a feasibility study for member countries in order to help them finance their needs.

“We will come up with a crowdsourcing platform. We are bringing SMEs, and linking them with investors,” he said. Tunisian Prime Minister Yousef Chahed said: “There is no other option but to work in a way that addresses the needs of our people in the member countries.”

Chahed said the involvement of the private sector in development was vital.

“For this reason, we established a law on promoting public and private partnership in Tunisia.”

Tunisia has received $3.2 billion from IDB Group so far, the prime minister added.

Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said: “We need to come up with a strategy to support Islamic Solidarity Fund Development, which is one of the initiatives of the OIC.”

Representatives of 57 member states, senior government officials and ministers of finance, economy, planning and international development are attending the five-day meeting that kicked off on Sunday in Tunis. After side events in the first three days, the annual meeting started on Wednesday.


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France faces day 2 of mass strikes, transport chaos

PARIS (AA): Millions of commuters in France on Wednesday faced a second day of major travel disruption caused by rolling railway strikes to protest government reform plans.

The strike ends Thursday morning, but is due to resume four days later unless negotiations between unions and the government advance.

The rolling strikes which started on Tuesday, dubbed “black Tuesday” by the press, are set to disrupt traffic two days a week until June 28, making a total of 36 days of strike action over the next three months.

Students, trash collectors, some staff in the electricity and energy sector, and employees of Air France are taking part of what is described as the biggest wave of industrial unrest since President Emmanuel Macron’s election last May.

State railway operator SNCF said about one in seven high-speed trains were running Wednesday, about one in five regional trains, and about one in three Paris commuter trains.

Eurostar canceled five trains in each direction between London and Paris.

Four labor unions have called for the industrial action against government plans to revamp the debt-laden SNCF ahead of being opened to competition in 2019.

Reforms also include the cancellation of a special status historically given to railway workers, which guarantees them a job for life and early retirement, for new employees.

Lost revenue

According to SNCF head Guillaume Pepy, the strike was likely to cost the company €20 million ($24.57 million) a day in lost revenue at a time when it is already adding €3 billion ($3.69 billion) to its overall debt pile of €47 billion ($57.8 billion) every year.

The government is determined to continue to lead the reform “to the end, with determination,” government spokesman Benjamin Grivaux said Wednesday after the weekly ministerial council.

Grivaux said Macron asked the ministers to “continue to explain calmly” this reform and “never stigmatize anyone.”

Speaking to parliament, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Tuesday the way the SNCF currently operates is not sustainable.

“I respect the strikers because going on strike is a constitutional right… But… we also need to respect the millions of French who want to be able to get to work,” he said.

Meanwhile, students have blocked universities in Paris, Montpellier, Toulouse, and Nice to protest what they say are more selective admissions procedures.

Flight crews and ground staff for Air France also announced a further two-day strike for April 10-11 over a pay dispute.

A major union, the Communist Party-linked CGT, is also pushing for mass industrial action on April 19.