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Footballs made in Pakistan to be used in FIFA World Cup 2018

KARACHI (Monitoring Desk): Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov has said that his country will be using footballs manufactured in the Pakistani city of Sialkot for use in matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup scheduled to be held in Russia this summer.

“Pakistan is one of the most renowned countries in the world in the manufacture of sport equipment,” Dedov was quoted as saying. “We want to enhance our cooperation with Pakistan to other sectors as well,” he added.

The city of Sialkot is famous all over the world for producing the finest quality of sport goods. Footballs manufactured in the country have also been a part of the footballing extravaganza since a long time.

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IPL: Morgan and Hales miss out on contracts

NEW DELHI (Agencies): England one-day captain Eoin Morgan joined Test skipper Joe Root in missing out on a deal in the Indian Premier League auction.

Root, 27, was not selected on Saturday, with Morgan and England limited-overs opener Alex Hales unsold on Sunday. Morgan, 31, has previously played in the IPL, with Hales eighth in the T20 international batting rankings. Mark Wood got his first deal at Chennai Super Kings, and West Indies’ Chris Gayle was bought by Kings XI Punjab.

The 38-year-old Jamaican batsman was bought for £220,000 at the third time of asking, having initially been snubbed. He only managed 200 runs in nine innings for previous franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, and they decided to buy former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum instead.

Fast bowler Tymal Mills, the second most expensive buy in 2017, and left-arm seamer David Willey were among the other England players to miss out. Fellow quick Wood, back in the England limited-overs side after his latest injury absence, was sold for £167,000, while wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings – recently appointed Kent captain – will join him at Chennai after he went for £71,000. Paceman Chris Jordan, who like Billings has played in the IPL before, was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for £110,000.

Sandeep Lamichhane became the first player from Nepal to land an IPL deal when the 17-year-old was picked by Delhi Daredevils for £22,240. Ben Stokes was sold to Rajasthan Royals for £1.4m on Saturday – the highest price of the auction – although the figure represents a decrease on the £1.7m Rising Pune Supergiant paid last year.

The England all-rounder is due to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 13 February charged with affray after an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September. With the IPL having assured franchises before the auction they would be able to replace Stokes if he was ruled out for the whole competition, the Durham player fetched the highest price.

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Pakistan secure top T20 ranking after winning series against New Zealand

Monitoring Desk

MOUNT MAUNGANUI: Pakistan defeated New Zealand in the third match of the T20 series by 18 runs on Sunday and clinched number one spot in the ICC T20 international ranking.

Pakistan set a target of 182 for the opponent with the help of Fakhar Zaman’s 46 runs. Pakistan scored 60 runs in the last five overs in their innings.

Fakhar scored 46 off 36 deliveries after Pakistan won the toss and made first use of a batsman-friendly track.

Fakhar attacked the New Zealand fast bowlers and Pakistan had 25 on the board after three overs when Colin de Grandhomme came into the attack. He enjoyed success in his first over, with Ahmed Shehzad caught behind for 18.

In reply New Zealand were not able to achieved the target and fallen short of 18 runs. New Zealand final score was 163/6 in 20 overs.

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Hasan Ali ruled out of third T20 following ankle injury

Monitoring Desk

MOUNT MAUNGANUIL: Fast bowler Hasan Ali has been dropped from the third T20I against New Zealand on Sunday because of an ankle injury during training.

The energetic fast bowler Hasan Ali was injured while playing football during a training session Pakistan Cricket Board informed.

Pakistan Team Physiotherapist, Vib Singh said that Hasan Ali did not make adequate progress to be declared fir till the match against New Zealand.

The team management has not yet informed the replacement of Ali in today’s match.

Pakistan notched their first victory of the tour over the Black Caps on Thursday by crushing New Zealand by 48 runs in Auckland, after a humiliating losing streak that included a 5-0 ODI series whitewash.

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Madushanka’s debut hat-trick seals tri-series title

Monitoring Desk

DHAKA: Dushmantha Chameera blasted out the top order, Akila Dananjaya squeezed through the middle overs, and debutant Shehan Madushanka – playing only his seventh senior cricket match – closed out the tournament with a hat-trick. That the Sri Lanka attack had seemed incapable of menace in the first two matches of the series is a distant memory now. Defending 222, the bowlers constricted the Bangladesh chase, dismissed the opposition for 142, and propelled Sri Lanka to their third victory on the trot and the tri-series title.

The Bangladesh batting effort was hamstrung by the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, who landed heavily on his bowling hand while fielding in the 42nd over, and sustained an injury that will keep him out of the first Test. The remainder of their batsmen though, did not have the measure of this slowing Mirpur surface. Mahmudullah alone prospered, scoring a valiant 76 while wickets fell around him. His was the last act of the tournament, chipping Madushanka into the hands of extra-cover with Bangladesh needing 80 runs to win.

The victory also highlights a potential blind spot in international cricket’s regulations. Chandika Hathurusingha was Bangladesh’s coach only three months ago, and is now with the Sri Lanka side. His knowledge of Bangladesh conditions, and of the opposition, were clearly instrumental to this victory. Perhaps the question ought to be raised whether there must be a cooling-off period before coaches can switch sides.

Hathurusingha’s acumen aside, Sri Lanka were animated and energetic during the defence of this score. The fielding was dynamic, with two run-outs – including one from a Thisara Perera direct hit – pulled off. It was Chameera’s bowling, though, that set the tone for Bangladesh’s innings. With the pitch responding to his natural short length, Chameera had Tamim Iqbal top-edge a pull to midwicket before Sabbir Rahman fell in similar fashion a few overs later. In between the wicket-taking balls, there were few loose deliveries. Chameera bowled six overs in his new-ball spell, and conceded only 13.

Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim – the two remaining senior batsmen – attempted a recovery from 22 for 3, but the partnership was laboured, and soon the pressure to hit out had built. This was when Dananjaya struck. Having already raised a close lbw shout, he had Mushfiqur top-edge a sweep to short fine leg. Soon after, Mehidy Hasan offered Dananjaya a return catch, when the ball stopped a little on the pitch. With Bangladesh having slipped to 90 for 5 in the 29th over and no batsman but Mahmudullah appearing comfortable on this surface, the hosts were in an increasingly difficult spot.

Mahmudullah battled on for a while, hitting two calculated sixes off Dananjaya and one off Suranga Lakmal, but the required rate was now touching seven, and the pressure was too much. Madushanka, who bowled accurately enough and with sharp pace, was the beneficiary of poor lower-order strokes. Mashrafe Mortaza sent a thigh-high full toss into the palms of midwicket, then Rubel Hossain attempted a huge heave first ball only to be bowled. Mahmudullah’s wicket – off the first ball of the next Madushanka over – completed the hat-trick. That Madushanka was played at all was a Hathurusingha move.

The bowler, who is of little repute, was handpicked by Hathurusingha ahead of the tour, and deployed in the final, probably as a surprise.

Bangladesh will rue their scrambled batting, after their bowlers had been intense through the back end of Sri Lanka’s innings. Rubel Hossain delivered a spate of searing yorkers as he collected figures of 4 for 46. Mustafizur Rahman used his cutters intelligently through the middle overs and collected 2 for 29. They had been outstanding during Sri Lanka’s last 15 overs, in which seven wickets fell for only 64 runs. It was clear at that stage that run-scoring had become tough, but in dismissing Sri Lanka for 221 – the last wicket coming off the final ball of the innings – Bangladesh will have felt they had given their batsmen a good chance.

Sri Lanka’s batting was largely laboured, though there was one flash of belligerence near the start of the innings. Perhaps attempting to attack himself into form, Kusal Mendis struck three sixes and a four off successive Mehidy Hasan deliveries, on his way to a nine-ball 28. Sri Lanka’s two senior batsmen – Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal – spent the most time at the crease, scratching away for a combined 173 deliveries to return scores of 56 and 45 respectively. Niroshan Dickwella was the other serious contributor, making 42 off 57 balls, but largely failing to score with the cute behind-the-wicket shots he favours because the ball came so slowly off the pitch.

This trophy is Sri Lanka’s first in ODI cricket since November 2016, when they had won a tri-nation series in Zimbabwe. Bangladesh will be bitterly disappointed to miss out on the title, after securing rollicking wins in their first three games.

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Ahmed Baig wins Qatar Open

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Pakistan’s fast-rising golfer Ahmed Baig won the Qatar Open amateur Golf championship played in Doha Gulf Club on Saturday. 19-year-old Ahmed, who earlier won Pakistan’s edition of Faldo Challenge this month, emerged as the winner in the three-day championship, he played over 54 holes with a score of under 3.

The young golfer from Lahore couldn’t do well on day one where he played one-over-par after bogies in four holes which overshadowed his birdies on three holes. On the second day of the championship, Ahmed made a big move when he shot two-under-par (70) to bring himself back in contention for the title with a birdy on holes 5th, 7th, 9th, 14th and 16th. Ahmed looked comfortable on the third day as well and remained at-par on first 9 holes. However, a double bogey at 13th hole gave him a scare but he managed to finish as the leader with birdies on number 14th, 16th and 18th to keep his score to two-under.

With this win, Ahmed, the tournament champion, along with the winner in the professional category and two best Qatari finishers gets a berth at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2018, a European Tour event, to be held from February 22 to 25 at the same venue. He will also represent Pakistan at the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final to be held at the Laguna Lang Co Golf Club in Danang, Vietnam, in March this year.

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Uzair, Noor, Hamza, Hanif win FATA National Junior Squash titles

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR (APP): International Uzair Shoukat, Noor Zaman, Muhammad Hamza and Muhammad Hanif clinched the titles of the various age categories of the FATA National Junior Squash Championship played here at PAF Hashim Khan Squash Complex on Saturday.

Director General Youth Junaid Khan was the chief guest on this occasion and witnessed the final. President FATA Olympic Association Shahid Khan Shinwari, President Shinwari Welfare Organization Haji Aslam, Secretary Asad Khan Shinwari, former World Champion Qamar Zaman, Chief Referee Munawar Zaman, players, officials and large number of spectators were also present.

In the Under-17 final Uzair Shoukat recorded victory against Farhan Hashmi of Punjab in the 3-1 battle, the match provided great thrill for the sitting spectators and both Uzair Shoukat international faced tough resistance specially in the fourth set wherein both stretched to 13-11. The score of the other set was 6-11, 11-0 and 11-6.

In the second final of the Under-15 category top seed Noor Zaman defeated Hammad Khan of KP in straight sets, the score was 11-7, 11-5 and 12-10. Noor Zaman did not face any hardship in humiliating his rival in a one-sided affair. Hammad Khan won key matches but failed to click in the final against Noor Zaman who dominated the proceedings.

In the third final of the Under-13 category Muhammad Hamza defeated his strong rival Muhammad Ammad in a marathon five sets which was largely enjoyed by the sitting spectators. Both Muhammad Ammad and Muhammad Hamza stretched at full length against each other.

Muhammad Hamza failed to click in the first set won by Muhammad Ammad at 4-11 but he bounced back and won the second set by 11-5. It was the third set in which Muhammad Ammad recorded victory at 9-11. Muhammad Ammad played well and gave a tough resistance to Hamza to strike back.

Muhammad Hamza after going down by a set, came back strongly and recorded victories in the fourth and fifth sets by 11-7 and 11-9.

In the final of the Under-11 category Muhammad Hanif registered victory against Abdullah Nawaz of PAF in straight sets, the score was 11-6, 11-3 and 11-7. Muhammad Hanif did not face any resistance against his rival Abdullah Nawaz.

At the end, the chief guest gave away trophies and cash prizes to the position holders. A total of Rs. 150,000 has been distributed among all the position holders from the first round to the final of the all the four categories comprising Under-11, Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17.

Speaking on this occasion, Junaid Khan lauded the performance of the KP Squash Association wherein their players made a clean sweep in the female and male squash event while Laiba Ijaz won doubled gold medal. He also announced Rs. 100,000 for the association. He said they have initiated a comprehensive plan to have squash courts in all districts so that to provide ample opportunities to the youth to come and play squash in which Pakistan dominated for 37 long years in the world.

In his comment former World Champion Qamar Zaman thanked DG sports for giving cash incentives to all the medals winners of the recently held Quaid-e-Azam Games. He said they have been running female squash academy with own resources while Pakistan Air Force is providing all playing facilities inside PAF Jansher Khan Squash Complex, specially meant for female players. Qamar Zaman also thanked office-bearers of the Shinwari Welfare Organization for sponsoring the event and announced that soon a National Girls Junior Squash Championship will be organized. He also appreciated President FATA Olympic Association Shahid Khan Shinwari for extending all support to the youth of FATA to come and participate in healthy sports activities.

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Wozniacki wins first major title at Australian Open

Monitoring Desk

MELBOURNE: Caroline Wozniacki finally lifted her first Grand Slam title at the 43rd attempt as she beat Simona Halep 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-4 to win the Australian Open on Saturday.

The Dane, who will take over as world number one, burst into tears as she secured the title against the battling Romanian top seed on her first match point of a grueling, epic encounter.

Both players needed medical attention on court before the Dane prevailed in 2hr 49min in energy-sapping hot and humid conditions on Rod Laver Arena. Wozniacki, 27, has long carried the unwanted moniker of best player never to win a major, having reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014, and first becoming number one in 2010.

Both of them were in their third major final – their first in Australia – and both had saved match points in earlier rounds to get there. Wozniacki started the stronger and broke Halep’s opening service game with the early evening temperature still above 30 Celsius (86 Farenheit).

The Dane sped into a 3-0 lead behind a consistent first serve. Wozniacki had not won a set in either of her previous two Grand Slam final appearances and tightened visibly serving for this one at 5-3. Halep aggressively took advantage and moved to three break points at 0-40.

A big second serve and a first ace saved two of them but the relentless Halep forced Wozniacki long with a sliced forehand and the final was back on serve. In the tiebreak the Dane went 4-1 up before a second mini-break and two solid serves gave her the tiebreak 7-2.

Wozniacki was growing in confidence and Halep needed to save four break points at 1-1 in the second set in a brutal game that lasted 11 minutes. Soon after Halep signalled to her coach Darren Cahill in the player’s box that she wasn’t feeling well and there were worrying scenes as she had her blood pressure taken and an ice towel applied in the next changeover.

Halep re-emerged with her energy drained and needed the luckiest of net cords to hold for 4-3. Cramping and almost limping, she decided to stand and deliver in the next game, keeping the points short. Incredibly the tactic paid off as she broke Wozniacki with a ripping drive up the line and served at 5-3 to level the match.

Wozniacki forced two break back points which Halep saved, before levelling on her third set point. The tournament’s extreme heat policy was invoked meaning the players took a 10-minute break before the start of the third set. When they resumed Wozniacki held before wearing Halep down with a series of long rallies and securing the break for 2-0 as the match clock hit the two-hour mark. Halep dug deep and got it back to 2-1 on her sixth break point of a gruelling game when Wozniacki double-faulted after almost 12 minutes.

Both players were feeling the heat and two more breaks of serve were exchanged as they struggled to find any rhythm until Halep held for 3-3. Wozniacki’s weaker forehand let her down twice from deuce and Halep led for the first time in the match at 4-3. Now it was the turn of the Dane to call the physio. With her left knee freshly strapped she broke Halep yet again to level at 4-4. Finally, having not held since the first game of the third set Wozniacki managed it again and crucially led 5-4 with Halep having to serve to stay in the match.

She couldn’t manage it and a backhand into the net brought an end to her brave challenge.

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Rashid joins IPL

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Afghanistan’s “million dollar baby” Rashid Khan has just been picked up on auction for a whopping $1.35 million USD by IPL Sunrisers Hyderabad. Khan returns to the same team after a successful season with them last year.

The 19-year-old leg spinner continues to wow the cricket world as he racks up achievements across the world. Khan is currently playing for the Strikers in Australia BBL. However next week’s semifinals will be his last match of the tournament before he flies to the UAE to join his national team for next month’s tournament against Zimbabwe.

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U-19 World Cup: Pakistan to face India in semifinal

Monitoring Desk

CHRISTCHURCH: Pakistan will face the traditional rival, India in the semi final of ICC Under-19 World Cup in Christchurch on Tuesday.

India easily defeated Bangladesh by 131 runs in the quarterfinal today to cement its place in the U-19 World Cup semis. Pakistan had already qualified for the semifinal after thrashing South Africa in a quarter final.

Australia will take on high-flying Afghanistan in the other semifinal at Hagley Oval, Christchurch on Monday.

Both the semifinals will start at 2:30am Pakistan time (10:30am New Zealand time).