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Akram poised to replace Sethi as PCB chief

ISLAMABAD (INP): The victory of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the general elections is set to shake up the institutional structure of Pakistan with major changes in the top brass of state-owned institutions.

As Imran Khan is sure to take charge as the next Prime Minister of the country, his long-time friend Wasim Akram is expected to take over the reins of country’s cricket board, the PCB.

Currently, Najam Sethi, a veteran journalist, is the PCB chief, however, Imran’s rise to power has paved way for the left-arm bowler to take control of PCB, which would definitely be reshuffled owing to Imran Khan’s cricketing past.

Akram’s selection as the next PCB chief was also confirmed by one of his family members in a conversation with a sports portal.

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Ronaldo fined $3.7m in tax evasion case

MADRID (Agencies): Star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo will pay a 3.2 million euro ($3.7m) fine after settling a tax evasion case with Spanish authorities.

Ronaldo, 33, will also be sentenced to 24 months in prison as part of the deal, officials said on Friday, though he is unlikely to serve the jail term as Spanish law states that a sentence of under two years for a first offence can be served on probation.

The Portuguese forward, formerly of Spanish superclub Real Madrid, was accused last year of defrauding authorities of 14.7m euros ($16.5m) in unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2014 via shell companies based in the British Virgin Islands and Ireland, known for their low corporate tax rates.

In addition, prosecutors allege Ronaldo declared only 11.5 million euros ($13.6m) of Spanish-related income from 2011 to 2014, during which time his actual earnings were close to 43 million euros ($50.8m).

They also accuse him of “voluntarily” refusing to include 28.4 million euro ($33.6m) in income linked to the sale of his image rights for the 2015 to 2020 period to a Spanish company. Ronaldo, a five-time World Player of the Year, has previously denied the allegations.

Tax evasion

He is one of a number of sporting stars accused of tax evasion by Spanish authorities in recent years. In 2016, Barcelona favourite Lionel Messi was found guilty of evading nearly $5m of taxes.

Former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho and player Angel di Maria were both accused of defrauding Spanish authorities, as was Javier Mascherano, who once played for Barcelona.

Earlier this month, Italian club Juventus announced they had signed Ronaldo from Real Madrid in a deal worth upwards of 110 million euros ($128m). He will reportedly earn close to 30 million euros ($34m) a year in wages, after taxes.

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Mathews is key to Sri Lanka’s World Cup hopes: Sangakara

COLOMBO (Agencies): Kumar Sangakkara has hailed the importance of Angelo Mathews to Sri Lanka’s chances at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

The Sri Lankan batting legend, who is the only player in history to score four consecutive centuries at the Cricket World Cup, believes Sri Lanka need Mathews’ all-round ability to be able to launch a challenge at next summer’s tournament.

While Sri Lanka’s batting isn’t an issue in Sangakkara’s eyes, their lack of depth in the bowling department does raise doubts. “I think they’ll go well [at the World Cup],” said Sangakkara ahead of the South Africa vs Sri Lanka ODI series, penciled in from Sunday 29 July.

“They have some excellent batsmen. I think bowling is where the concern is, whether we can restrict sides to manageable or chaseable totals, or restrict sides below totals that our batsmen can get.”

Mathews was reinstated as Sri Lanka’s ODI captain back in January, but injury has limited his availability since then. However, he has been named in their squad for the upcoming ODI series against South Africa.

He played solely as a batsman during last year’s ICC Champions Trophy, failing to bowl a single ball at the tournament due to a hamstring injury. Sangakkara thinks this will have to change if Sri Lanka are to make an impact at the World Cup.

“It’ll also be the balance of the side, how Angelo Mathews goes about, whether he’s fit enough to bowl, because that’s the most crucial aspect of Angelo in the side; that balance he gives us being the all-rounder.

“I have a lot of confidence in the fact that Sri Lanka is another team who does well in big tournaments.” As for the chances of Sangakkara dusting off his boots to make a return at the World Cup? He was less optimistic about that!

“You can’t reverse the clock! Age catches up with everyone and I’m pretty happy and comfortable watching it from the stands. “There are times when I miss it and times when I see the hard yards done by the players that I don’t.” While a player of Sangakkara’s undoubted quality is a loss for Sri Lanka, they will be hoping to spring a surprise at next year’s tournament.

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Steyn to retire from white ball cricket after 2019 WC

MUMBAI (Agencies): Plagued by injuries over the last couple of years, veteran South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn is aiming to retire from limited overs cricket after the 2019 World Cup in England.

“I will be trying to get to that World Cup (in England). But after the World Cup I don’t see myself playing white ball cricket for South Africa. By the time the next World Cup comes, I will be 40,” Steyn said at a promotional event, here on Thursday.

Steyn is hopeful that his huge experience would help him earn a place in that UK bound World Cup squad.

“If you look at the (SA) batting line-up, our top six have played 1,000 games, but lower half – from eight to eleven who are currently playing – not even 150 games. You need to draw on experience.

“I hope that will be my trump card when the selection comes to the World Cup. I may not necessarily play all the time. But I think my experience will help with me just being there,” he said.

However, Steyn said that he would love to continue playing Test cricket even after 2019 World Cup. “When it comes to Test cricket, I would like to play as long as possible. I have finally come out of a cloud of injuries. I broke my shoulder and in my first game on return (against India at Cape Town), I landed in a foothole. It was rotten luck.”

“It’s quite difficult to come back from a broken shoulder, especially with your bowling arm. I feel that’s (injury) gone and now I am fit. I played two Test matches without an injury (against Sri Lanka recently), bowled at good pace and never went off the field because of niggles. It’s a big plus,” he added during an event organised by ‘Go Pro’.

Steyn however struggled for wickets against Sri Lanka. He got one each in the two innings of the opening Test and none in the second.

“Wickets are something that’s not guaranteed. I am happy I came out 100 per cent (fitness wise). That’s the biggest cloud I have gotten over, especially after the last two years,” he explained.

About South Africa being hammered 2-0 by hosts Lanka, Steyn complimented the islanders for playing to their strength, relying on spin in helpful conditions. “The wickets were tough to play on. Sri Lanka also played good cricket. They played their cards right. Preparation was difficult (for SA). They came out trumps. Hats off to them; they played better cricket,” he said.

Steyn in in favour of doing away with the toss and emphasised that cricket has changed so much there’s no point in sticking to age-old traditions.

“There’s been a bit of talk (of doing away with the toss in international cricket). I think there will be some for it and there will be some against it. It might not happen.”

And then with a bit of sarcasm added that if people talk about changes, then there has been enough to horrify the purists.

“(Cricket pioneer) W G Grace will be rolling in his grave if he heard something called the free-hit; a batsman can be out but he’s not out and score four runs off the ball because it’s a no-ball. Traditional cricket has gone out the window. T20 cricket has changed the game,” Steyn’s reply won’t amuse the custodians of the game.

“If someone says it’s (doing away with the toss) going against the traditional thing, he’s blind. The game has changed so much; you have to keep up with the times. England is doing something really well. In County Cricket, the toss is gone. You can look at the pitch as the visiting team and can decide what to do.”

“I think that’s a good way they are doing it, it might be the way to go forward – do away with the toss completely; When a visiting team gets to choose (to bat or field). You get to prepare the pitch, but we get to choose we want to do on it,” Steyn said.

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Spinner Rashid recalled to England squad for first test against India

HEADINGLEY (Agencies): Adil Rashid has been recalled to the England squad for the first test against India, despite the leg-spinner saying he wanted to focus on limited-overs cricket.

The 30-year-old signed a white-ball only contract with his county Yorkshire in February but said he “was not finished” with the longest format of the game.

Rashid, who has played 10 tests and picked up 38 wickets, was picked in the 13-man squad ahead of Jack Leach and Dom Bess, the two Somerset spinners who have featured in the last three tests.

Rashid earns his recall on the back of strong performances in one-day matches against India over the last few weeks. A hot and dry summer means spinners are likely to play an important role in the test series.

“Following his decision in February 2018, Adil has a white-ball-only contract to play for Yorkshire this summer,” England selector Ed Smith said in a statement.

“That arrangement is unchanged by his selection for England. However Adil fully understands that if he wishes to be eligible for Test cricket in the 2019 season, he must have a county contract to play four-day cricket.

“Moving forward, England Test players must be committed to the County Championship.” All-rounder Moeen Ali has been recalled to the test squad for the first time since the tour of New Zealand to offer another spin bowling option, while Essex seamer Jamie Porter earned his first call-up.

Chris Woakes, who is still recovering from thigh and knee injuries, was left out of the squad as the selection panel was keen to avoid rushing the all-rounder back too soon. Joe Root’s England host India at Edgbaston in first of five test matches from Aug. 1-5.

Full squad: Joe Root (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Sam Curran, Keaton Jennings, Dawid Malan, Jamie Porter, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes.




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MMA star McGregor makes plea deal to avoid jail time

New York (Agencies): Irish mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn criminal court on Thursday to disorderly conduct, in a plea deal that allows him to avoid prison time over a New York brawl.

The 30-year-old, who is nicknamed “The Notorious,” had been charged with multiple counts of assault and criminal mischief after attacking a bus filled with UFC fighters at the Barclays Center in April. The frenzied attack injured two athletes. McGregor pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct in a fleeting court appearance, and was handed a punishment of five days’ community service. All felony counts were dropped.

“I just want to say I’m thankful to the DA (district attorney) and the judge for allowing me to move forward,” he told reporters outside the court, dressed in a dark suit and striped tie. “I want to say to my friends, my family, my fans — thank you for the support.” Last month, McGregor expressed “regret” over the attack on a bus that contained rival fighters.

He had faced up to seven years in prison if convicted on all counts, and was released on $50,000 bail following his arrest. He was filmed lobbing a dolly through a window of the bus in a New York stadium at the end of a media event on April 5. The bus was moving slowly through the Barclays Center loading dock at the time.

The Irish father-of-one was also captured on surveillance cameras throwing a chair toward a passenger window of the bus. The Irishman pocketed around $100 million for the superfight he lost in August in Las Vegas against ex-welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather. Their matchup was one of the richest boxing bouts of all time.

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Serena claims ‘discrimination’ over drug tests

PARIS (Agencies): Serena Williams claims she is the victim of “discrimination” by US doping chiefs who are testing her more than other players. At Wimbledon, Williams slammed “shocking” treatment over excessive targeting from testers in the run-up to the second Grand Slam of the season.

And in a tweet on Wednesday the 23-time Grand slam winner reignited the discussion. “…..and it’s that time of the day to get “randomly” drug tested and only test Serena,” she posted on her official Twitter page. “Out of all the players it’s been proven I’m the one getting tested the most. Discrimination? I think so. At least I’ll be keeping the sport clean #StayPositive,” she wrote.

The 36-year-old battled back from life-saving surgery after giving birth to get within touching distance of an eighth Wimbledon title. However, the American suffered a straight sets defeat by Angelique Kerber in the women’s final on July 14. She had arrived at the tournament on the back of a report revealing her anger about an unannounced test in June where the tester refused to leave her Florida house. Williams said at the time she had been tested five times on June, compared to one or none from some of her compatriots. Athletes returning from a long absence are often the subject of repeated drug tests, as they are seen as part of a higher-risk category than athletes in the flow of regular competition.


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Atletico edge Ozil-less Arsenal on penalties

Singapore (Agencies): New-look Arsenal left out controversy-hit Mesut Ozil but still impressed before they were edged 3-1 on penalties by Europa League champions Atletico Madrid in a friendly on Thursday.

Ozil, who caused a furore when he quit German national duty claiming racism, was rested after his World Cup exertions as 17-year-old midfielder Emile Smith Rowe took centre-stage in Singapore.

After Luciano Vietto’s opener for Atletico against the run of play, teenager Smith Rowe hit a dazzling equaliser — his first senior goal — in front of new boss Unai Emery as it finished 1-1 after normal time. Under International Champions Cup rules, the game went straight to penalties where substitute Atletico goalkeeper Antonio Adan starred, saving three before coolly slotting the winner himself.

Both sides started with unfamiliar line-ups but Arsenal were the dominant force in the first half before they were hit with a sucker-punch four minutes from the break. In a rare Atletico foray forward, Angel Correa crossed from the byline to his fellow Argentine Vietto, whose header looped past new Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

The German, starting ahead of Petr Cech in goal, otherwise had little to do as Arsenal, employing Emery’s trademark high press, kept Atletico in their own half.

French forward Alexandre Lacazette was denied from close range on three occasions, including a full-length save by Atletico’s Jan Oblak after good work from Smith Rowe. But Arsenal struck two minutes into the second half when Smith Rowe curled the equaliser into the top corner from the edge of the box, before being mobbed by his team-mates.

Mass substitutions in the last half-hour made for a disjointed finale before the penalty shoot-out. Arsenal, rebuilding under Emery after Arsene Wenger’s 22-year reign, are hoping for silverware this season and a return to the Champions League, while Atletico finished second in La Liga behind Barcelona.


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British Boxer Amir Khan greets Imran Khan

F.P. Report

LAHORE: British boxer of Pakistan origin, Amir Khan on Thursday congratulated Chairman, Pakistan Tekreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan over his party’s victory in the general elections of the country.

“Well done for achieving success in the elections, well done to the New Prime Minister of Pakistan”, he said in a congratulatory message to Imran Khan. “Let’s make Pakistan better and best of luck to you (Imran)”, he added.

He said Imran Khan has achieved this success in election after through over two decades long sheer hard work and commitment and a lot is expected from him to give Pakistan new identity.


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Serena says she is being ‘discriminated’

WASHINGTON (BBC): Serena Williams says she is a victim of “discrimination” as she is the most drug tested American tennis player.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion made the claim in a tweet on Tuesday, after doping officials visited her.

The American had previously expressed frustration about the volume of her tests earlier this month.

“Out of all the players it’s been proven I’m the one getting tested the most. Discrimination? I think so,” said the 36-year-old.

An article published by website Deadspin in June revealed that Williams had been tested out of competition by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) on five occasions in 2018.

It also claimed the player was not present when Usada officials visited her home on 14 June – Williams stated that the tester showed up 12 hours earlier than the agreed time.

It was eventually marked as a “missed test” – three of those would result in a Usada doping violation.

At the time of publication of the Deadspin article, Williams had been tested more than twice as many times as other top American players – male or female – including US Open champion Sloane Stephens (one) and sister and multiple Grand Slam winner Venus Williams (two).

Williams was asked about the findings of the report during Wimbledon earlier this summer.

“I never knew that I was tested so much more than everyone else,” said the seven-time champion, who lost to German Angelique Kerber in the final.

“Until I read that article I didn’t realise it was such a discrepancy with me as well as against the other players that they listed, at least the American players – both male and female.”

BBC Sport has contacted Usada for a response to Williams’ tweet.