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New Aurora of Winter Sports in Pakistan

From deep sea ports to fertile plains, from the scorching hot deserts to snow covered heaven touching peaks and rushing ice cold streams, Pakistan is a land of Wonders which offers this soul touching nature round the year. The captivating landscape and the overwhelming hospitality offered by its residents makes it a dream destination for tourists from every nook and corner of the world. Pakistan is home to three of the highest mountain ranges in the world boasting five of the world’s highest peaks. Pakistan is a sports loving nation, and its players have brought laurels to the country in various sports such as Cricket, Squash and Hockey. Apart from these games, winter sports are getting popular among the youth, particularly in the mountainous region of this beautiful land.

Pakistan Air Force, other than its operational responsibilities also actively participates in Nation Building as well as promotion of sports in the country. PAF has been assigned the responsibility of organizing Winter Sports on national and international level. At present 4 ski setups are working in Pakistan; Naltar and Malam Jabba are packed with state of the art international facilities while those at Rattu & Kalabagh are learning facilities at a smaller scale.

 Close to the meeting point of Karakoram and Hindukush, and some three hour uphill drive from Gilgit city, lies Naltar valley, the birth place of all winter sports in Pakistan. It was back in 1958 when Pakistan Air Force decided to set up a Snow Survival School in Naltar Valley. Flight Lieutenant Shah Khan, who was given the responsibility to establish this school, introduced ski in its syllabus. Soon after, the locals started using improvised wooden skis after seeing PAF Officers practicing on slope. After getting the state of the art equipment and latest ski lift in 1962, competitions between civil & military teams became regular feature at this venue. PAF started to nurture the young skiers in this sport as well as provided them with education and jobs. Eventually this effort started to payback in 2010, when Mr Abbas a PAF employee participated in 2010 Winter Olympics making him the 1st ever Pakistani to participate in this prestigious event. Mr Abdul Kareem another PAF employee brought laurels to the country by carrying the national flag in 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Established under the patronage of Pakistan Air Force in 1990, Winter Sports Federation of Pakistan (formerly known as Ski Federation of Pakistan), is an umbrella of different organizational and regional ski federations. In recent years, WSF has also introduced snowboarding, ice hockey and figure skating in its calendar. Although all of these sports require great stamina and balance but figure skating is a sport which not only requires extraordinary balance but also a unique skill of performing stunning moves on ice skates. WSF is keen to groom girls and young children in the fields of skiing, snowboarding and figure skating. In this regard, Sadia Khan Cup is organized every year which holds competitions between girls and young children in all fields. This competition is named after a young girl and an ambitious skier who died at the age of 25 in a tragic car accident. This winter, a young eleven year old girl Mallak performed some jaw dropping moves in the newly built ice skating rink and won gold medal in this discipline. To groom young children in this exciting sport, WSF is planning to hire a foreign coach to train the young players, heralding a new era of sports in the country.

WSF conducts international winter sports competitions in Pakistan on regular basis and the expertise gained from such events in turn helps in promotion of this sport in the country. The year 2017 was the year of revival of winter sports in the majestic valley of Swat as the Malam Jabba ski slope was put in shape again which was closed due to poor law and order situation in the area. An international competition, CAS International Karakoram Ski Championship was held in which more than 30 athletes from all over the world participated in the categories of alpine, slalom & giant slalom events. This gave the world a message that Pakistan is a peace loving nation and is capable of conducting international events at any venue all over the country.

WSF provides ski facilities and equipment free of cost to locals of these snow covered areas as well as desiring participants from all regions of Pakistan. Winter Sports have bright prospects in the country as WSF is working on multiple fronts to flourish the winter sports in this snow blessed country. WSF is soon inaugurating a full scale winter sports simulator in Karachi which will enable players from southern region to practice near their homes. In addition to this simulator, WSF is also looking forward to establish ski slopes on glaciers which will enable conduct of winter sports in summers also and ambitious athletes of our country won’t have to wait for winters to experience the thrill on snow. But a need is still there for more people to participate in such sports. Universities and schools need to introduce this sport to their students and encourage them to participate in this exciting activity. They can contact winter sports federation through internet or mail and get themselves enrolled. The efforts being made by WSF will not only help hunt for talent in Pakistan but also promote tourism and socioeconomic activities in these far flung areas leading to their prosperity and well-being.

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West Ham fined 100,000 pounds

LONDON (Agencies): West Ham United have been fined 100,000 pounds ($130,000) by the English Football Association for the crowd disturbances that marred their 3-0 home defeat by Burnley in the Premier League last March.

Supporters had invaded the pitch, with one brandishing the corner flag and another tussling with West Ham captain Mark Noble in chaotic scenes at the London Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2012 Olympics. Fans also directed their anger at West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan, both of whom were forced to leave the directors’ box early for their own safety.

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Pak team given a heroic welcome

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Junior Squash team received a heroic welcome when they returned home on early Tuesday following their astounding show in the 19th Asian Junior Squash Team Championship at Pattaya, Thailand.

After registering wins in all their pool matches, Pakistan team outclassed traditional rivals India 2-0 in the final to claim the gold medal. The team arrived at International Airport Islamabad on late Monday where they were given a warm welcome by Director academies Pakistan Squash Federation, Air Commodore (retd) Aftab Sadiq Qureshi along with other PSF officials. Later, a reception was held for the winning team at a local hotel.

Talking to media on the occasion Secretary PSF Tahir Sultan said that Pakistan players played with great passion to emerge victorious in the event. “This is a great achievement. I congratulate the whole nation on that. Our players produced superb performances throughout the event,” he said. He said that after winning all their pool matches, especially the one against India Pakistani players once again wanted to face them (India) in the final. “Our every player remained match of the event,” he said. Pakistan team was comprising of Abbas Zeb, Haris Qasim, Farhan Hashmiand Muhammad Hamza Khan.

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Phehlukwayo’s all-rounder performance helps Proteas level the series

DURBAN (Agenies): An all-round performance from Andile Phehlukwayo took South Africa to a series-levelling victory the 2nd ODI against Pakistan of the five-match series at Durban.

Phehlukwayo took four wickets for just 22 runs in 9.2 overs, while he scored precious 69 runs on off 80 deliveries.

South Africa were pursuing a moderate target of 204 runs on a slow track and they were dented by the 18-year-old pacer, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took three early wickets in the inning.

The three victims of Afridi, Hashim Amla, Reeza Hendricks and the skipper Faf du Plessis contributed 8, 5 and 8 runs respectively, leaving South Africa reeling at 29/3.

It was once again the stubborn newcomer, Rassie van der Dussen, who kept the hosts’ inning together. David Miller played a useful cameo of 31 runs off 26 deliveries and contributed 51 runs with der Dussen.

The partnership looked threatening for Pakistan, however, Shadab Khan removed the dangerous-looking Miller on just the second delivery of his spell and cleaned up Heinrich Klaasen on a golden duck.

South Africa seemed to be in trouble, losing half of their side for just 80 runs with the inexperienced Der Dussen and the bowling all-rounder Phehlukwayo at the crease.

Phehlukwayo was lucky and looked shaky at the start of his inning, however, he managed to hang in there in the middle to support his batting partner.

The left-handed batsman took chances against Pakistani bowlers, who were impressive throughout the day, but luck favoured the batsman as he managed to stay alive at the crease.

It was Der Dussen’s rigid approach and Phehlukwayo’s courage that took the hosts home in 42 overs at a loss of five wickets. The two scored unbeaten 80 and 69 runs respectively.

Earlier, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed alongside Hasan Ali put 90-run partnership on the scoreboard to rescue Pakistan from 112/8 to 203/10 against South Africa in the second ODI at Durban on Tuesday.

Ali showed courage and played a powerful inning of 59 runs to help his skipper who scored a fighting knock of 41. They both accelerated the score for Pakistan and gave their bowlers a defendable total.

South Africa after winning the toss put Pakistan into bat first. The green shirts having the good memories of the last match once again started their inning with Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman.

Imam, who played a handsome knock of 86 runs in the last match, couldn’t manage to deal well with the short ball and got out scoring just 5 runs.

Zaman, who was already facing problems to get his shots in the right zone, joined by Babar Azam who last time made his presence felt with a fine knock of 49. Babar fell to Rabada’s short ball which went straight up in the air and caught easily by Phehlukwayo.

Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik scored 9 and 21 respectively while Shadab Khan played a brief knock of 18 runs.

Phehlukwayo took four wickets, while Tabraiz Shamsi picked wickets of three front-line batsmen of Pakistan conceding 56 runs in his 10 overs. Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier took two and one wicket each respectively in the match.

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Hasan Ali’s counterattacking fifty hauls Pakistan to 203

DURBAN (Agenies): Only a check of the schedule would tell you it’s an ODI, much less that it’s being played at Kingsmead. The first innings today took Pakistan back to the Test series, where the short ball was an unconquerable demon, and Duanne Olivier and Kagiso Rabada invincible tormentors.

A series of dismissals when the ball was pitched short saw Pakistan hampered in their innings early on, before an inspired performance from Tabraiz Shamsi, deputising for Imran Tahir, helped reduce Pakistan to 112 for 8. The left-arm wristspinner, fighting for a World Cup spot, ended up among the better bowlers, taking three wickets, and at one point appeared to have set up his side for a seemingly straightforward chase.

It required the most delightful joie de vivre sort of innings from Hasan Ali – a character who matches that description to the fullest – to keep Pakistan in the contest. They were 59 of the most uncomplicated runs that saw Pakistan recover to 203. Hasan was responsible for 59 of the 90 runs which came in a ninth-wicket partnership with Sarfraz Ahmed, and was last man dismissed after Andile Phehlukwayo returned to remove both Sarfraz and Hasan in the 46th over.

Hasan’s innings remained in spirit the typical knock of a have-a-go hero, but the sweet timing of the strikes against legitimately world-class bowling gave it the air of conventional classiness you might not expect from Hasan. At any rate, it gave Pakistan more than a fighting chance. It was only thanks to career-best figures from Phehlukwayo that it wasn’t even more, his 4 for 22 including those vital last two wickets that finally put paid to Pakistan’s innings.

Faf du Plessis had won the toss again, this time deciding to let Pakistan bat first after much criticism around his side’s failure to pace their innings well. Pace was never a problem for his fast bowlers, though, who accounted for Pakistan’s top four in the first hour with deliveries that grew big on the batsmen. Imam-ul-Haq mistiming a pull shot off a Rabada ball was a harbinger for what was to come, and Babar Azam was dismissed cheaply much the same way. Then came the now-customary Fakhar Zaman dismissal off a short ball, when Olivier got one to rise towards his grille, the batsman fending it off to gully.

The middle overs might have been an opportunity for rebuilding, but Shamsi had other ideas. Brought in to replace Tahir, he had big boots to fill, and he acted like it. The first ball of his spell drew an edge from Malik that first slip would have pouched had one been placed, and off his fourth delivery, he snared fellow spinner Shadab Khan. It wasn’t long before debutant Hussain Talat, curiously promoted ahead of Sarfraz, fell to perhaps the ball of the innings. An exquisite stock ball beat Talat’s outside edge, drawing him out of his crease while Heinrich Klaasen deftly removed the bails.

Sarfraz, who has been shy of batting too high up the order since becoming captain, finally came in at No. 8. While Pakistan fans might have hoped for a valuable partnership with Shoaib Malik to rescue the side, injudicious shot selection from Malik soon left Pakistan eight down. It was after that that Pakistan’s finest moments in the innings were to arrive, thanks to a refreshingly straightforward innings from Hasan. He threw off the shackles, attacked every bowler he faced, seamer or spinner, his 59 coming off just 45 balls. It included five fours and three sixes, taking Pakistan past 200 where once they looked like they might struggle to reach 125.

South Africa still may be expected to chase this; 203 is, after all, well below par. But where once this looked like it might be headed for an early finish, there may now be a contest to be enjoyed after all.

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Hockey no longer prevalent in Pakistan says Shahbaz senior

LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): The Federal secretary Shahbaz senior says the future of the Pakistan hockey is uncertain. He stressed on revamping players’ selection procedure and the present coaching structure.

Hockey las lost popularity among our youth in the last 15 years. “The youth prioritize cricket over hockey,” he said. Any game is unable to maintain its highest place after the loss of the passion from fans. One of the reasons for the inclination of the youth towards cricket is the financial stability that it offers. A good cricketer even upon failing to secure a place in the team gets placement in some department. He has lots of avenues and can play in the local and international leagues.

The government does not allocate sufficient funds for hockey. The Hockey Federation has no system or property, where they could pay attention to educational, appetite, gym, swimming pool and coaching and other necessities. There should be a system where junior to senior level qualified coaches and trainers are available and all the camps should be planned for the entire year. Considering the present condition, no high hopes should be pinned on the young team. The captain of the 1994 gold medal winning team said that our habit of bringing a bad name to others leaves none respected. They should be thankful since hockey earned them this position. It is their identity for which they are respected.

It is their national duty to give their opinions which could bring good name and add to the prominence of the national game. Speaking about the system of the European teams, Shahbaz senior seconded that there lies immense difference between Pakistan and European hockey. Unlike the English, hockey is played differently in every other area. The English players play same hockey everywhere, and we should follow them.

The former PHF secretary complained that the attitude of Pakistan Sports Board and Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry has been disappointing due to which the Hockey Federation has to face criticism, which in turn is bringing a bad name to the country and the game. I tried my best to seek help from the government but I resigned due to their apathy. Annually, Pakistan Hockey is in need of Rs200 million.

There is need for focusing on long-term planning. We have Japan, Belgium, India and Malaysia as examples before us; how they worked on development. We can revive hockey in two years upon provision of even half the budget of the aforementioned countries. Technocrats who do not work for the government should be appointed to revamp the hockey. Reforms that can greatly improve the future should be brought after consultations with the Olympians.

Our present coaching system has flaws. Attention will have to be paid to the coaches’ education. All the English coaches get promoted by earning higher education in addition to coaching from the club level. We will have to focus on the young coaches, who in addition to possessing coaching abilities enjoy a command over the English language. Furthermore, we need coaches who are patriotic and love the game.

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Cardiff striker Sala missing after suspected plane crash

LONDON (Agencies): Premier League club Cardiff City’s record new signing, Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, was missing on Tuesday after a light aircraft he was travelling in disappeared over the English Channel.

Sala, signed on Saturday from French club Nantes for a reported fee of 17 million euros ($19.3 million), was flying to Cardiff aboard a small plane that disappeared from radars around 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Guernsey on Monday night.

French civil aviation authorities confirmed that 28-year-old Sala “was on board the plane”. A statement from police on Guernsey, a British island just off the coast of France, said the pilot had requested to lower his altitude shortly before air traffic control in neighbouring Jersey lost contact with the plane.

After a search was called off on Monday because of high winds, two helicopters, two planes and a lifeboat joined renewed efforts on Tuesday morning to find the single-propeller plane. “So far over 1,000 square miles have been searched by a total of five aircraft and two lifeboats,” Guernsey police said at 1145 GMT.

“There has been no trace of the aircraft. The search is continuing.” It is thought Sala was one of two passengers on board, but French civil aviation authorities were unable to confirm that. Sala, who had been at Nantes since 2015 and had scored 13 goals in all competitions this season, had signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with relegation-threatened Cardiff subject to receiving international clearance.

Neither club has commented publicly on the disappearance, but Nantes have postponed their French Cup match against third-tier side Entente SSG on Wednesday as a mark of respect. When he put pen to paper at Cardiff on Saturday, Sala, who also has Italian nationality, said in a statement: “I’m very happy to be here. It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.

“For me it feels special (to be the club’s record signing). I have come here wanting to work and to help my team-mates and the club.” Sala’s last post on Instagram showed him surrounded by players from Nantes. “La ultima ciao (the last goodbye),” he wrote.

Cardiff, who currently sit third from bottom of the English Premier League with 19 points, said they were “very concerned”. “We are awaiting confirmation before we can say anything further. We are very concerned for the safety of Emiliano Sala,” the club said in a statement.

The accident, if confirmed, comes only three months after the Thai billionaire owner of Leicester City football club died in a helicopter crash that shocked the club and supporters around the world. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others died on October 28 shortly after taking off from the pitch of the club’s stadium in central England.

Disconnected cockpit pedals, which are used to control the rotor on the helicopter’s tail, were found to be the cause of the accident by investigators. Sala began his footballing career at French club Bordeaux, who he joined in 2010, and spent loan spells at other French clubs including Orleans, Niort and Caen.

He joined Nantes in 2015 for one million euros and appeared to be peaking as a player in recent seasons, overcoming technical shortcomings that had held him back earlier in his career. He was tipped for a move to Turkish giants Galatasaray last summer.

“He’s a very likeable lad, very hard working,” his coach at Nantes, Vahid Halilhodzic, said of him recently.

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Nadal relentlessly marches on as emotional Kvitova makes Open semis

MELBOURNE (Agencies): Rafael Nadal continued his relentless march towards an 18th major title Tuesday as an emotional Petra Kvitova swept into her first Grand Slam semi-final since a terrifying knife attack almost ended her career. On day nine of the Australian Open, the fairytale runs of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Danielle Collins were also extended as they too swept into the last four.

Second seed Nadal inched closer to winning an event he has only claimed once before when he trounced unseeded American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in another ruthless display from a man who has not dropped a set so far. Tiafoe had announced himself by beating fifth seed Kevin Anderson, but was no match for a player at the peak of his powers as he attempts to become only the third man to win all four Slams twice and the first to do so in the Open era. “I had some trouble at this event all my career, so I’m very happy with the way I played tonight,” said the Spaniard, who faces another young gun Tsitsipas in the semi-finals. “I feel lucky to be where I am.”

Greek sensation Tsitsipas powered into the last four with a measured 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. The 20-year-old, who ended Swiss great Roger Federer’s tournament, became the youngest man to reach the semis at Melbourne Park since Andy Roddick in 2003 and the first player from Greece — man or woman — to get so far at Grand Slam.

“I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for,” said the 14th seed, who lives in Cyprus but trains at the academy of Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou in France. “I feel a bit emotional but not too much -– I know I really worked hard to get here, playing in semis of a Grand Slam.”

Czech Kvitova had not gone past the last eight at a major since a burglar slashed her left hand in December 2016, forcing her out of the game for six months and leaving her with lasting nerve damage in the fingers of her racquet hand. But the eighth seed has bounced back and is on a sensational 10-match unbeaten streak after claiming the Sydney International warm-up title.

She proved too much for Ashleigh Barty, crushing the local hope 6-1, 6-4, and was in tears afterwards as she reflected on her long journey back to the top. “Really, I didn’t imagine to be back on this great stadium and play with the best,” the two-time Wimbledon champion said. “I’m calling it as my second career. So it’s the first semi-final of the second career. I’m really enjoying it.”

Kvitova will face unseeded American Collins in the semi-final on Thursday and she desperately wants to reach Saturday’s decider. “I want it bad, that’s right,” she said. Collins, the world number 35, had never won a Grand Slam match before entering this year’s tournament but she stunned three-time major champion and second seed Angelique Kerber in round four.

And the 25-year-old from Florida continued her Cinderella run by bouncing back spectacularly to down Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarter-finals. Collins, who has spent long stretches of her career playing small tournaments to build up her ranking points, was in big trouble after losing the first set to the world number 44. But she fearlessly battled back into the match to again stamp her mark on the tournament. “This has all been a really incredible experience,” she said. “This time last year I was playing a challenger (tournament) in Newport Beach. But, yeah, I think I’m really embracing it. It makes it a lot easier when you play in front of great fans and really good energy.”

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Ronaldo accepts fine for tax evasion, avoids jail

MADRID (Agencies): Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo was fined almost 19 million euros ($21.6 million) for tax fraud on Tuesday but will avoid serving a 23-month prison sentence after agreeing a deal.

Ronaldo, holding hands with his Spanish fiancee Georgina Rodriguez, came out of the court room smiling, pausing to sign autographs before leaving in a black van. The 33-year-old Juventus forward, who played for Real Madrid from 2009-18, agreed to settle the case by paying an 18.8 million euro fine and accepting a suspended jail sentence.

Under Spanish law, a first offender can serve anything less than a two-year sentence under probation and Ronaldo will not have to go to prison. His court appearance lasted about 15 minutes as the five-times world footballer of the year only needed to sign off on the previously settled agreement.

Earlier, Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid team mate Xabi Alonso walked in to face own tax fraud case with his hands deep in his suit pockets. “Yes, all good,” was his only response to reporters’ questions. Ronaldo had to enter the courtroom through the front door after his request for special security measures to avoid the spotlight was denied on Monday.

In 2017, Ronaldo denied the accusation that he knowingly used a business structure to hide income generated by his image rights in Spain between 2011 and 2014. After reaching the deal, he paid a fine of 5.7 million euros, plus interest of about 1 million euros, in July 2018, the prosecutor’s office said last week.

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Kohli becomes first to sweep top three ICC awards

LONDON (Agencies): Indian captain Virat Kohli capped a memorable 2018 season by becoming the first to win the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) cricketer, test and one-day international (ODI) player of the year awards, the ICC said on Tuesday.

Kohli, the top scorer in both tests and one-dayers in 2018, was also named captain of the ICC test and ODI teams of the year. The 30-year-old top-order batsman scored 1,322 runs in 13 tests at an average of 55.08, and scored 1,202 runs in 14 ODIs at an average of 133.55, notching up 11 centuries across the formats. “It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year,” Kohli said in a statement.

“To be rewarded in this manner… is a very proud moment for me and something that gives you more motivation to keep repeating the same things because you have to keep the standard of cricket up and keep bringing in consistent performances.” Kohli, who won cricketer and ODI player of the year in 2017, was the unanimous choice for the former award in 2018, with South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada finishing runner-up, the ICC said.

Rabada also finished second in the test player category, while Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was runner-up to Kohli for the ODI award.

ICC awards: Test team of the year: Tom Latham, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli (captain), Henry Nicholls, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Jason Holder, Kagiso Rabada, Nathan Lyon, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Abbas.

ODI team of the year: Rohit Sharma, Jonny Bairstow, Virat Kohli (captain), Joe Root, Ross Taylor, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Ben Stokes, Mustafizur Rahman, Rashid Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year – Virat Kohli (India)

Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year – Virat Kohli (India)

Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year – Virat Kohli (India)

Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year – Rishabh Pant (India)

Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year – Calum Macleod (Scotland)

Men’s T20I Performance of the Year – Aaron Finch (172 off 76 balls v Zimbabwe)(Australia)

Umpire of the Year – Kumar Dharmasena

Spirit of Cricket – Kane Williamson (New Zealand).