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Asia Cup: Pakistan to face Bangladesh in crucial match today

Monitoring Desk

ABU DHABI: Pakistan will face Bangladesh in an Asia Cup Super Four match today at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi; the winner of the match will cement its place in the final against India.

The match is nothing less than a semi-final for both the teams with the winner of the match facing India in the final of the tournament on September 28.

Pakistan were handed a nine-wicket thumping at the hands of arch-rivals India on Sunday while Bangladesh and Afghanistan played a last ball thrilling encounter with Bangladesh winning the game by three runs.

Both teams have had individual performances but have fallen flat in the face of pressure with Shoaib Malik chipping in with important runs for the men in green and Mustafizur Rahman’s bowling in the last five overs fast becoming his biggest strength for the Bangladeshis.

According to sources, pacer Mohammad Amir might be rested for today’s game with Junaid Khan likely to be a part of the playing eleven.

The match will start at 4:30pm Pakistan Standard Time (PST).


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Asia Cup: India, Afghanistan match ends in a tie

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Afghanistan continues to impress the fans and critics after shocking the Indian team in Dubai on Tuesday night in the Super Four stage, the match ended in a tie after thrilling last over.

Afghanistan opener, Mohammad Shahzad’s 124 lifted the score to 252-8 in 50 overs while India were all out in 49.5 overs with the scores level.

Title holders India have already qualified for Friday’s final where they meet the winners of Pakistan and Bangladesh match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Earlier, Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan won the toss and opted to bat in the Super Four Asia Cup match against India in Dubai on Tuesday.

The match is inconsequential as title holders India have already qualified for the final to be played in Dubai on Friday while Afghanistan are out of contention.

The second finalist will be decided in the last Super Four game between Pakistan and Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

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Starc ready to carry burden of lone pace-man against Pakistan

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Mitchell Starc is ready to step up and do the heavy lifting as Australia’s sole specialist pace bowler should the tourists opt for a three-pronged spin attack in next month’s two-test series against Pakistan.

Using a trio of slow bowlers in the United Arab Emirates remains a strong possibility for the Australians as they explore means to capture 20 wickets in the absence of injured pace duo Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

Cummins played the lone paceman role in Bangladesh last year when Australia selected three specialist spinners for the first time in 40 years and the 28-year-old Starc is poised to emulate his fellow quick against Pakistan.

“I haven’t had to do that before,” Starc told on Tuesday. “If I need to bowl long spells and be the only out-and-out quick, then I can definitely fill that role. We’ve got guys like (all-rounder) Mitch Marsh who is back bowling now, I’m sure he’ll be a big part of the team with bat and ball. We’ve got other part-timers to call on if need be. If conditions suit spin and they go down the road of the extra spinners, I can change my role slightly again.”

Starc, who tested a new run-up to prevent further injuries but retained his old one as he was losing pace, went wicketless in his first test in the region but has been Australia’s most successful bowler in South Asia since that 2013 match in India.

The left-arm paceman took 24 wickets on the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka, the biggest haul by an Australian in a three-test series, and will look to replicate that form in Dubai, which hosts the first test from Oct 7, and Abu Dhabi 11 days later.

“It’s something I´ll probably look at and try to take little things out of to take into this series on the subcontinent with where and how I bowled — the lengths and some reverse swing,” Starc added. “In the UAE we’ll use the Kookaburra ball as we did in Sri Lanka — hopefully we can get it moving around and I can get a few wickets and help the team out.”

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Javed blames poor domestic system for team’s performance

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Batting legend Javed Miandad held the below-par domestic cricket system responsible for Pakistan team’s declining performance in int’l cricket.

In the on-going Asia Cup, Pakistan lost both games to India, but if they beat Bangladesh on Wednesday in the virtual semi-final, then they will set up another meeting with the arch-rivals in the final. Talking to APP, Miandad disappointed on Pakistan team’s poor performance in Asian Games said our team management seemed having no plan in Asia Cup. “We can only dominate low-ranked teams but are helpless in front of tougher ones,” he said.

He said the way Pakistan players dropped Rohit Sharma’s catches looked like as they were all club players who were practicing on the field. “If our players are dropping such easy catches then I am sorry to say they do not deserve to be in the team,” he said. Speaking on steps needed for improvement in cricket, Miandad said Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to prolong its domestic cricket season to six months. “ODI cricket tournaments should be increased and all national team players must be bound to participate in the six month long season,” he said and added that then the final squad for any international tournament must be picked from the best performing players.

Miandad, who coached Pakistan cricket team at various occasions, also advised PCB to bring in former or first class cricketers at regional and district levels in order to utilize their talent for uplift of the game. “We have a lot of talented former cricketers all over Pakistan and we must utilize their services to develop cricket,” he said.

Responding to a question on skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s performance, he said the first thing I see in Sarfraz is his wicket-keeping and then his batting which is not up to the mark. He said Pakistan must not take Bangladesh lightly in the match on Wednesday and give their best in the game to set up the final against India.

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Pakistan can still make a comeback, says Aqib

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: The former pacer and head coach Lahore Qalandars Aaqib Javed said that Pakistan Cricket team can still make a comeback and win the title of Asian Champions if they play their natural game in the remaining matches.

Talking to, the member of Pakistan’s victorious squad of World Cup 1992 said that team took unnecessary pressure in two games against India. “Pakistan and India games are always of pressure, but it seems that Pakistan cricketers took too much pressure of it and couldn’t deliver in these two matches against arch rivals,” he said.

“What I have seen is that players aren’t playing against their natural styles. Fakhar is a flamboyant aggressive batsman but he is trying to play steady knock while Imam who is known for steady batting was trying to play shots like Fakhar,” the former fast bowler said.

He, however, said that it is still not over for Pakistan and team can make a strong comeback. “We have to make a comeback and I am sure we will,” Javed said, adding that the game against Bangladesh would be an encounter of two teams with poor form.

“Pakistan will have to prove that their form is still not that poor,” he said. While expressing disappointment at Aamir’s form, Aaqib said that its management’s duty to keep his confidence high.

“To drop him after one match will only dent his confidence. Pakistan must play him in remaining two matches,” he said. “Team has already been bashed by fans, but it is high time for Sarfraz and co to forget everything and show in the ground of what they’re capable of,” the head coach of Lahore Qalandars suggested.

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Sarfraz Ahmed is a great captain, says Ganguly

Monitoring Desk

ISLAMABAD: Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has said that Pakistani batsman Sarfraz Ahmed is great as a captain and leaders like him are not born every day.

The comment came amid widespread criticism of Ahmed’s leadership skills following their two consecutive defeats at the hands of India in the ongoing Asia Cup. Ganguly further applauded Ahmed’s captaincy during the 2017 Champions Trophy saying that it was impeccable.

“Sarfraz is a great captain and cricketers like him are not born every day,” Cricket Country reported. “He is a courageous player and the way he captained the team during the Champions Trophy last year was impeccable,” he added.

Ganguly also advised Pakistan Cricket Board and former cricketers to support and encourage Sarfraz as he has done good captaincy in the tournament, so far. Pakistan will face India in the final of the Asia Cup if they managed to beat Bangladesh in their third Super Four clash to be held on September 26.

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Wozniacki, Kerber, Kvitova reach Wuhan third round

WUHAN (Agencies): No. 2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki reached the third round of a tournament for the first time since June at the Wuhan Open on Tuesday.

Wozniacki defeated Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-4, 6-1, making just nine unforced errors to Peterson’s 36. Wozniacki made early exits in her past five tournaments, including three first-round losses. She last reached the third round at the pre-Wimbledon warm-up in Eastbourne, where she won the tournament.

She next faces Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig from Puerto Rico, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-2. Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber beat Madison Keys 6-0, 4-1 after the American retired due to a left knee injury. In the round of 16, Kerber has lined up Ashleigh Barty, last year’s finalist.

Two-time Wuhan Open winner Petra Kvitova cruised past Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-3, 6-4. Defending champion Caroline Garcia opened against qualifier Katerina Siniakova in the night session, followed by a match between top-ranked Simona Halep and 2016 runner-up Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.




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Pakistan can still win Asia Cup: Mickey Arthur

DUBAI (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan cricket coach Mickey Arthur said on Tuesday, Pakistan still has a chance to win Asia Cup.

Speaking to media, Arthur said, “Pakistan will win their last Super Four game against Bangladesh on Wednesday.”

“They will win and compensate for their two losses against India by beating them in the final,” he added.

Arthur who took charge of the Pakistan cricket team in 2016, took them to victory in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy last year in England.

The South African however, refuses to accept the fact that the team’s “switch was off’ during the Super Four game against India.

“Switch off is a harsh term,” Arthur said, adding, “We could not bring the Indian bowling under pressure with our batting.”

“We needed to take early wickets against India, however we lost the chance due to our fielding,” he added regretfully.

Further, he said, “If we had taken early wickets, the situation would have been different.”

“India outclassed us completely,” he added.

Speaking about the Pakistan team, Arthur said, the Pakistan team is young with the most experienced player being Shoaib Malik who has played 270 one-day internationals (ODI), while captain Sarfraz Ahmed has played 94 ODI’s and Mohammad Amir having played 46.

The South African further said, ‘The team is going through a formation stage and a huge loss such as the one against India has certainly shaken their confidence.”

“The loss of confidence is the reason behind our batting failure,” Arthur said.

Giving an example of Fakhar Zaman Arthur said, “When the Indian bowling starting increasing the pressure on him, he could not start aggressively which led to him only scoring 12 off 31 at the end of the power play.”

On the subject of bowling, Arthur said, it was concerning that the bowlers did not bowl according to plan.

“Our bowling was disappointing and did not have any patience,” he added.

Pakistan next faces Bangladesh in an all-important game on Wednesday at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

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Malik promises Pakistan comeback against Bangladesh

DUBAI (Monitoring Desk): Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik has asked former cricketers and nation to back the team ahead of all-important Super-Four match against Bangladesh in the ongoing Asia Cup.

The Men in Green have faced severe criticism following their poor performance in the tournament so far, where they only managed to win two out of four matches.

The Green Caps have suffered two humiliating defeats against arch-rivals India by eight and nine wickets respectively, whereas one of those wins came against Afghanistan in a nail-biter, courtesy Malik’s brilliance.

The last defeat leaves the Green Caps with one more chance to cement their place in the all-important final when they will face Mashrafe Mortaza-led unit on Wednesday. But the 36-year-old, who is Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in the tournament so far with 181 runs at an average of 90.50, while talking to the media on Tuesday, said the team is inexperienced and needs backing at this stage.

“Yes we are going through a tough time,” said Malik. “We’ve lost two matches against India, but that is not the end of the world. It is the time to give these players confidence. We should not forget that majority of these players are still very young. We are still evolving as a unit and I can assure you that you will see some major changes in our plans and execution in the next match.”

Talking about team’s dismal performance against India, Malik said: “Obviously lack of experience is the difference between both teams. We have to look up to the Indian team and learn from it. The way they polish their players is exemplary for all of us.”

Being the senior in this young team, Malik has more responsibility than just keeping his good form going and the 36-year-old revealed that he did share his views with the other batsmen.

“These boys are extremely talented but the much-needed experience is missing,” he said. “The just have to learn to play according to the situation and I am sure they will make a comeback in the next match.”

Discussing about the playing conditions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Malik believes the pitches are not suited for runs in excess of 300. “These are not the pitches where team can target 300 or 350,” he said. “These are slow tracks and if you want to score big, you have to spend time in the middle.”

Talking about his own performances, Malik said that his focus is on playing according to the situation. “I don’t make things difficult for me and I don’t like putting extra pressure on myself,” he said. “I just try to play according to the demand of the situation.”

Pakistan and Bangladesh will play in the virtual semi-final in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, where the winner will face India in the final on Friday.

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Modric ends Ronaldo-Messi era to be crowned world’s best

LONDON (Agencies): Luka Modric ended Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long domination of football’s individual awards by being crowned FIFA’s best player of the year on Monday.

The Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder starred for both club and country as Madrid won a third straight Champions League, and he inspired Croatia to reach the World Cup final for the first time.

“The emotion is huge because it is thanks to the work of everyone. So many people have come together and so many have supported me,” said Modric.

Modric beat out Liverpool’s Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah and Ronaldo, who along with Messi did not attend the glitzy awards ceremony in London.

Both are in action for Juventus and Barcelona on

Wednesday, but their no-show attracted criticism after so many years on top.

“Everyone has their own reasons,” said Modric. “Obviously I would have liked them to be here but they aren’t.”

Modric’s success means Ronaldo remains tied with Messi having won FIFA’s award in different guises five times each.

At 33, Croatia’s run to the final was the culmination of a brilliant career for Modric that had often been overshadowed by Ronaldo’s goalscoring in their time together in the Spanish capital, before the Portuguese left for Juventus in July.

Modric scored twice and also netted in penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia, but it was his playmaking ability that caught the eye in winning the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup.

“It was an unbelievable season, the best season in my life,” said Modric. “I’m still not realising how good a year I had collectively, individually, and I’m very proud for everything I achieved this year and it will be remembered forever.”

For a sixth straight season, Ronaldo was the Champions League’s top scorer with 15 goals and also scored four times at the World Cup, including a hat-trick against Spain in a thrilling 3-3 draw to open Portugal’s campaign.

However, Portugal’s last 16 exit to Uruguay in Russia and Ronaldo’s failure to score in the semi-finals or final of the Champions League opened the door for Modric.

– Salah scoops best goal –

For the first time in 12 years, Messi was not among the finalists with Salah earning a place on the podium for his incredible 44-goal debut season with Liverpool that carried the Reds to the Champions League final.

Salah did not go away empty-handed, however, as he picked up the Puskas award for best goal for his strike against Everton in the Merseyside derby last December.

Modric was joined by Real team-mates Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and Marcelo in the FIFPro team of the year, also featuring David De Gea, Dani Alves, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo. “I am as happy as if I had won it,” said Ramos of Modric’s success. “He deserves it, he is an excellent player and has marked an important era in the history of Real Madrid.”

France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps won the best coach of the year prize in recognition for his work in leading Les Bleus to success in Russia.

Deschamps, who became just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, beat off competition from Dalic and his former France team-mate Zinedine Zidane, who won a third consecutive Champions League title with Real Madrid before resigning in June.

Thibaut Courtois won the best goalkeeper award for helping Belgium reach the World Cup semi-finals as well as the FA Cup with Chelsea before a summer move to Madrid. Brazil’s Marta was crowned best women’s player for a record sixth time for her role in winning the Copa America to beat out Lyon duo Ada Hegerberg and Dzsenifer Marozsan.

Lyon boss Reynald Pedros did win the award for best women’s coach, though, after winning the Champions League with the French giants.