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Sri Lanka warns Proteas

Colombo (Agencies): Rangana Herath warned South Africa Thursday to expect yet more spin in the second Test after the visitors were skittled for their lowest total their lowest total since the Proteas´ readmission to international cricket. Sri Lanka are chasing their first Test series win against the Proteas since 2006 and need just a draw to clinch the honours against the world´s second ranked Test side.

South Africa lost the opening Test in Galle inside three days after being dispatched for 126 the first innings and 73 in the second. Herath said pitch conditions were ripe for a repeat of last week´s drubbing, in which the left-arm spinner took five wickets and off-spinner Dilruwan Perera returned overall match figures of 10-78. “If you see the surface, it´s dry. It will be more of a spin friendly surface,” the 40-year-old veteran spinner said ahead of the final Test starting Friday in Colombo. “We have Dilruwan (Perera) and if we require we also have Dhananjaya (de Silva). He couldn´t bowl in Galle, but he is certainly ready to bowl during games,” Herath told reporters. Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis top-scored with a gritty 49 in his team´s first innings while paceman Kagiso

Rabada impressed with four wickets in Sri Lanka´s first innings.


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Hamilton signs two-year contract extension

HOCKENHEIM (Agencies): Lewis Hamilton finally ended speculation over his future on Thursday as the four-time world champion signed a blockbuster two-year contract extension with Mercedes.

Hamilton’s deal is worth a reported Sh5.2 billion (£40 million, $52 million) per year, cementing the British star’s status as Formula One’s highest paid driver and his country’s top earning sportsman.

Following months of speculation about the negotiations and whether Hamilton would move to another team, the 33-year-old is now tied to Mercedes until the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Hamilton insisted he had always been on course to remain with Mercedes, telling the team’s website after the announcement: “This contract extension has basically been a formality since Toto and I sat down during the winter, so it’s good to put pen to paper, announce it and then get on with business as usual.

“I have been part of the Mercedes racing family for 20 years and I have never been happier inside a team than I am right now. “We are on the same wavelength both on and off track – and I am looking forward to winning more in the future and shining even more light on the three-pointed star. I’m very confident that Mercedes is the right place to be over the coming years.

“Although we have enjoyed so much success together since 2013, Mercedes is hungrier than ever – from Dr Zetsche and the board members at the top of Daimler, through Toto (Wolff) and the team management, to every single person I meet in the corridors of Brixworth and Brackley.”

Hamilton will be nearing his 36th birthday at the conclusion of his latest contract, and he has made no secret of his desire to forge a career in fashion or music. For now, Hamilton is chasing his fifth world crown this season to join Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only other driver to have won more than four titles.

He is second to Schumacher, in terms of Grand Prix wins, and holds the record for the most pole positions in the history of the sport. “The competitive passion that burns bright inside me is shared by every single member of this group — always chasing the next improvement and digging even deeper to make sure we come out on top,” Hamilton added.

“I can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in the next two-and-a-half seasons.” Mercedes have dominated F1 since 2014, winning four consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles. Hamilton has won three of those titles, with the fourth going to former team-mate Nico Rosberg, who retired after becoming champion in 2016. Mercedes’ announcement is a huge boost for the team ahead of the Grand Prix in Germany on Sunday, with Hamilton trailing Sebastian Vettel in the championship by eight points.

Team boss Toto Wolff was relieved to get Hamilton to sign up for another two years and he believes the driver can make more history with the British-based outfit.

“We have been aligned with Lewis ever since we first sat down to discuss the details of this contract after last season, but there has understandably been a lot of interest and speculation around the whole process, so it’s good to put all of that to rest and get this thing announced,” Wolff said. “But what I enjoy most about working with him is getting to know the man inside the racing helmet – his relentless drive for self-improvement.

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‘That’s rubbish’: India says Dhoni not retiring

London (Agencies): Indian coach dismisses theory that Dhoni’s actions at Leeds were a sign of impending retirement India coach Ravi Shastri says social media speculation that veteran MS Dhoni is about to retire is “rubbish”.

Vision of Dhoni asking umpires for the match ball at the end of India’s eight-wicket loss to England was taken by some conspiracy theorists as a sign that the 37-year-old was about to call it quits and he wanted to ball as a memento of his final international game.

But Shastri quickly squashed the rumour and said there was a simple explanation for Dhoni wanting to keep the ball.

“That’s rubbish,” he told Times of India. “MS is not going anywhere.

“MS wanted to show the ball to (bowling coach) Bharat Arun. He wanted to show him the wear and tear the ball had endured, to get a general idea of what the conditions were like.”

Speculation about Dhoni’s playing future has intensified in recent years as he draws closer to the end of his career; Sam Ferris was famously called onto the stage next to Dhoni at the 2016 World T20 after he asked the Indian if it would be his last major tournament.

But the wicketkeeper-batsman, a title-winning captain at both the 50-over and 20-over World Cup, appears on track for at least the 50-over version in the UK next year and possibly the next World T20 in 2020.

The veteran was booed by some sections of the Lord’s crowd last week during a sluggish innings in the second ODI, a reaction that was followed by a strong defence from skipper Virat Kohli.

“This comes up again and again when he is not able to play in the normal way he does,” Kohli said. “It’s very unfortunate people just jump to conclusions very quickly. “When he does well, people call him the best finisher ever and when they don’t go well, they all pounce on him.

“We all have bad days in cricket and today was a bad one for everyone, not just him. “Other people jump to conclusions, but we don’t – we totally believe in him.”

Former skipper Sourav Ganguly this week said if India are to persist with Dhoni at No.6 in their one-day side, the top order needs to ensure he only has a handful of overs to bat, which was not the case at Lord’s.

Ganguly called for Test batsman KL Rahul to be given an extended run in the side at No.4, adding Dhoni has been “struggling” when he’s been tasked with building a longer innings. “If Dhoni’s got to play, he has to get into positions where he has to keep hitting,” Ganguly told Sony. “If he has 24-25 overs to play, you’ve got to build an innings and he’s struggling at the moment.

“He may turn it around, you don’t know what’s in store for great players – he’s been a great player for India in the shorter formats – but at the present moment he’s not been turning it around and it’s been that way for a year, year-and-a-half or probably more. “So they need a good player at four and five, and then if they think MS Dhoni is the way forward, him at six and Pandya at seven.”



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England to host Pakistan for ODI, T20I series before World Cup 2019

Monitoring Desk

London: Pakistan will play five one-day internationals and a lone T20I against England in England before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

According to the schedule announced by England and Wales Cricket Board on Thursday, Pakistan will be England’s first opponents of the home international season next year with the tour featuring five ODIs and a T20I, as both countries prepare for the World Cup which starts on May 30, 2019.

Pakistan will start the England tour with a Twenty20 international on May 5, 2019, which will be played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

The T20I will be followed by five one-dayers to be played between May 8 to 19.

The opening match of the ODI series will be played on May 8 at The Oval, followed by the second ODI at Ageas Bowl, Southampton on May 11, third ODI at Bristol on May 14, fourth ODI at Trent Bridge, Nottingham on May 17, and the final ODI at Headingly, Leeds on May 19.

The series will provide Pakistan team an opportunity to gel in with conditions in United Kingdom ahead of the World Cup.



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Neymar might be joining Real Madrid

Madrid (Agencies): World’s most expensive player Neymar could be on his way to Real Madrid as Paris Saint-Germain have opened the door for their star leaving the Parc des Princes. Spanish giants have been keenly linked with Brazilian superstar since he completed a world record £198million move to Ligue 1 last summer.

The European champions are in the market for a massive summer transfer after letting Cristiano Ronaldo depart for Juventus, according to Mundo Deportivo. The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez is under pressure from fans to replace the Portuguese star, with Neymar the only candidate seen as worthy enough to break the bank for, although Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is another alternative. PSG have always insisted that Neymar is not for sale, and they wouldn’t consider selling him – with the Champions League still the club’s Holy Grail.

However, Neymar, who played for Barcelona, is no longer their biggest asset – after Kylian Mbappe’s World Cup winning heroics. Mbappe, who became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup final, has therefore been made ‘untouchable’ by PSG. “Real has a great squad that is going to be reinforced with magnificent players,” Perez said earlier this week. “We are aware of the level of demand of the team each season. We are Real Madrid and we always want more.

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Tendulkar’s son out for a duck

Colombo (Agencies): India batting icon Sachin Tendulkar’s son made his batting debut with a duck in his first Under-19 appearance during the Youth Test match against the Sri Lankan U-19 team at the Nondescripts Cricket Club in Colombo.

Arjun Tendulkar, 18 was dismissed by Shashika Dulshan.  The all-rounder defended 11 deliveries  before being dismissed for a duck. His father Sachin Tendulkar was also dismissed for a duck in his ODI debut against Pakistan in 1989. The youngster had bagged his first international wicket on Tuesday. Arjun needed only 12 balls to claim his maiden international wicket. He had trapped Kamil Mishara lbw to bag his first India Under-19 wicket. Arjun, a left-arm pacer, bowled an in-swinging length delivery and the left-handed Mishara failed to read the line of the ball and departed for a paltry 9.


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‘Very bad’ preseason situation worries Man United boss

BENGALURU (Agencies): Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is worried by the absence of key players from the club’s pre-season training camp in the United States, saying that the situation was “very bad” ahead of the Premier League campaign.

United are without several World Cup participants, including France’s Paul Pogba, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini, and England’s Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford among others, as they rest following a gruelling tournament.

Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez is also absent from the camp due to visa issues. “The pre-season is very bad, the positive thing of the pre-season is only for the young boys that have a fantastic opportunity to train with us,” Mourinho told reporters. “I’m worried because I’m not training (with everyone) and then I go to the Premier League without lots of players, but it is what it is and we have to try and make the best out of it with the players we have here.”

The Portuguese insisted he is looking only towards the future and results in the preseason tournament matter little. “I’m not worried about playing Liverpool here or Real Madrid or Milan… I’m not worried if we lose badly,” he added.

United will play two friendlies, starting with Club America on Friday, ahead of next week’s International Champions Cup tournament, where they will face domestic rivals Liverpool, Champions League winners Real Madrid and Italy’s AC Milan. The Old Trafford side also play a friendly against German champions Bayern Munich on August 5, five days before they kick off their league campaign against Leicester City.


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Zaman, Imam rise in ODI rankings

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq have improved their ODI batting rankings, after the latest update from the International Cricket Council. Zaman has continued his good run of form in the ongoing ODI series against Zimbabwe which has helped him move up by 14 places and he now sits on number 24 in the rankings for ODI batsmen.

Zaman’s opening partner Imam has also seen a significant improvement in his rankings as the left-handed batsman has jumped 70 places to reach 94th position on the table. Meanwhile middle-order batsman Babar Azam has been leapfrogged by Joe Root into second place, after the English batsman scored back-to-back centuries against India. Root had scores of three, 113 not out and 100 not out, which have earned him 34 points and have now put him 93 points behind India captain Virat Kohli. Kohli has also strengthened his position at the top of the tree following scores of 75, 45 and 71. Although he has earned just two points, these are enough to lift him to a career-high 911 points, which are sixth best in the list of all-time points and the highest since Australia’s Dean Jones tally of 918 points in March 1991. In the bowlers’ list, the biggest news is the movement of India’s Kuldeep Yadav. The left-arm wrist-spinner took nine wickets in the series, including six for 25 at Trent Bridge, which have been rewarded with a rise of eight places to a career-high sixth position.

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Zalmi always working to find and groom new talent: Javed

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Champions of the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Peshawar Zalmi are extremely active in hunting and grooming new talent, team owner Javed Afridi has said.

Zalmi have been running different programmes and local leagues to unearth new talent from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and other parts of the world and has given the opportunity to many players to showcase their talents.

“There is a lot of talent in KP and we have been on the hunt for it since the inception of the PSL,” he said. “Players like Mohammad Arif, Khushdil Shah, Sameen Gul and others have been given a chance to impress and have been part of the Zalmi squad in the past.”

Afridi further highlighted how the team management is always on the lookout for new talent, especially the role played by head coach Mohammad Akram and batting coach and mentor Younis Khan.

“Our management includes Akram and Younis and they have kept a close eye on the young talent in the country. They are and will be working closely to identify new talent before the next edition commences,” he said.

The PSL franchise, which has gone beyond the border to find new talent, has been introducing local leagues every year and this year they plan to hold the Madrasa Cricket League.

“We have the Madrasa Cricket League coming up in August, which is aimed to promote peace and interfaith harmony among the youth. There is a lot of talent in those young men and that will be on display through this league,” said Afridi.

“Other than that, we have the Global Zalmi League and the Zalmi School League which has seen us work with amazing cricketers in the country and also abroad. Other than that, the 100-pitches project is also under way in KP and we plan to improve the grass-root structure of cricket,” he said.

The Global Zalmi League is an initiative by Peshawar Zalmi which allows cricketers residing outside Pakistan to showcase their talent, while the top performers are picked in the drafts of various T20 leagues across the world.

“A large number of people closely follow this league and it has helped establish the image of Zalmi outside our own country. We had two Chinese cricketers with us during the PSL last season and Zalmi has gradually evolved as a brand in no time,” he said.

PSL has given the Pakistan team some fine cricketers and there certainly are more to come. “Zalmi has been renowned for giving youngsters a proper run in the mega event. We have had the likes of Hasan Ali and Ibtisam Sheikh as examples with us, who have prospered through this platform and made a name for themselves. We have been very successful with this idea and are going to carry on with this in the future editions as well. We have always believed in a blend of juniors and seniors in the team and keeping the dressing room environment healthy,” he added.

He further said that Pakistan has a lot of talent and if picked carefully and on merit, it can result in a large pool of players that will be ready to replace the current squad in no time at all.

“The PSL has been very productive in this cause and as one of the few franchises in the league, we have always highlighted this aspect by giving youngsters a proper run and keeping them with stalwarts of the game such as Darren Sammy, Tamim Iqbal, Chris Jordan etc. We will be introducing more players in the future editions and I am sure the national team will benefit from this,” he said.

Talking about the success of the PSL, he said that since the introduction of the PSL in the Pakistan cricket calendar, the national team has moved up in the rankings and have found players like Hasan, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Asif Ali, Faheem Ashraf and more.

“I am sure franchises of others leagues around the globe are well aware of the progress of the PSL and its impact on our cricket in a very short time. It will only grow bigger in the upcoming years,” he added.


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Boxers likely to get two-weeks training in Iran for Asian Games

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Boxing Federation (PBF) is likely to send boxers for two-weeks training to Iran this month in order to prepare them for Asian Games to take place in Jakarta from August 18 to September 2. Talking to APP, PBF Secretary, Lt. Col. (R) Muhammad Nasir Ijaz Tung said currently the boxers training camp for Asian Games is underway here at Pakistan Sports Complex.

“A total of 18 male and 6 female boxers are being trained by coaches Arshad Hussain, Ali Bux and Ramzan in the camp,” he said. He said we are planning a tour to Iran from July 21 to August 8 (two weeks) in order to train the boxers for the Games. “Currently we are working to get visas for the boxers and as soon as we get them we will send boxers to Iran,” he said.