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Pakistan to face India in Asia Cup today

F.P. Report

DUBAI: Pakistan cricket team is all set to face arch-rivals India in the much awaited Asia Cup match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today.

Both the teams will face each other since Pakistan crushed India by 180 runs in the final of the Champions Trophy at The Oval in last year and it will be the first time in the United Arab Emirates since 2006, the last of their regular matches which were also held in Sharjah between 1984-2000.

Both teams have faced each other 12 times in the Asia Cup.

India have won six games while Pakistan came out as winners in five matches. One match between India and Pakistan was abandoned.

During a press conference on Monday, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Indian captain Rohit Sharma played down the hype surrounding the much-awaited clash, insisting that the Asia Cup is much more than a contest between the arch-rivals.

Indian skipper Sharma said his team will be looking beyond Pakistan.

The match will begin at 4:30pm Pakistan Standard Time.

Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Dinesh Karthik, Khaleel Ahmed

Sarfraz Ahmed (captain/wicketkeeper), Fakhar Zaman, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Harris Sohail, Imam ul Haq, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammed Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammed Amir, Shoaib Malik, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi


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Banned Smith likely to be welcomed back, says Waugh

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Banned Australian cricketer Steve Smith is likely to be welcomed back with open arms when he returns to club cricket in Sydney at the weekend, believes former captain Steve Waugh.

Smith and David Warner were banned for a year for their part in a ball-tampering scandal during a test in South Africa that engulfed the world game and prompted a review of the Australian team’s culture and drive to implement a new player code of conduct.

The pair, who were also sacked as captain and vice-captain of the side, were allowed to play Twenty20 competitions in other countries and lower level club cricket at home but are unable to appear in first-class level games until next March.

“The Australian public, they are forgiving,” Waugh told Fox Sports News on Tuesday. “He (Smith) made a mistake and he’s paid a heavy price for it.

“But if he gets back out there and plays with the same enthusiasm and passion, he loves playing cricket, he loves scoring runs, he wants to get back playing for Australia, I think Australians will move past what happened before. “They obviously remember it, but they’re big enough to realise you can make a mistake and grow from that and be stronger.”

Smith is due to appear for his Sutherland club against Mosman on Saturday at Glenn McGrath Oval in Caringbah and Waugh said he hoped the 29-year-old would quickly get back into form and earn his way back into the national side when the ban ends. “We need him back in Australian cricket,” Waugh said.

“You can’t lose someone of his quality overnight and expect to replace it and he’s still only relatively young.” Waugh said he expected that Warner would get a similar response when he appears for Randwick-Petersham, but warned the duo and Cameron Bancroft, who was also banned, would need to work hard to get back into international form.

“It’s going to be a challenge for all of them to come back in to the fold,” Waugh said. “It’s not going to be as easy as people think. “You’re out of the game 12 months, the game does move on, you lose that aura of invincibility about you a bit, you become a bit more fragile, maybe a bit of self-doubt creeping in. “It’s going to be a real challenge for all three of those players to come back strong.”


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Stokes, Hales charged with bringing game into disrepute: ECB

LONDON (Agencies): Ben Stokes and Alex Hales have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute by the England and Wales Cricket Board following a late-night street brawl last year.

The independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) was tasked with leading an internal investigation into the incident outside a nightclub in Bristol, southwest England, which took place last September.

The England pair will have to answer to two counts of breaching ECB directive 3.3, which states: “No participant may conduct themself in a manner or do any act or omission at any time which may be prejudicial to the interests of cricket or which may bring the ECB, the game of cricket or any cricketer or group of cricketers into disrepute.” Stokes denied a charge of affray and was cleared following a trial last month. His teammate, Hales, was with Stokes during the altercation but was not charged.

All-rounder Stokes, whose co-defendant Ryan Ali was also found not guilty, had been charged following the fight hours after England played the West Indies in a one-day international in Bristol, southwest England, in September 2017.

The 27-year-old missed the second Test against India last month but was recalled for the third match of the series following his aquittal. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Stokes came to England in 2003 after his father Ged was appointed coach of the Workington rugby league side. The incident outside the nightclub saw England eventually decide against playing him in the 2017/18 Ashes, which they lost 4-0 after he had been removed from the position of Test vice-captain.

Stokes returned to international duty during the post-Ashes tour of New Zealand. Big-hitting batsman Hales, 29, last played for England in the third Twenty20 match against India in early July. The disciplinary panel hearings will be held in London on December 5 and December 7.


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Kohli’s absence could prove the difference, says Sarfraz

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed believes India could feel the absence of their talismanic captain Virat Kohli in tomorrow’s blockbuster match, even if the side has other good options.

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are set to clash in their crucial Group A match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

While Sarfraz can rely on a full-strength side, India will have to make do without their superstar batsman and regular captain Kohli, who was rested for the tournament.

“A part from Kohli, the Indian team has other good players too,” Sarfraz said. “[But], Kohli is a big player, and [his absence] could make a difference for India.”

The Men in Green’s captain, however, expects that the Rohit Sharm-led India must have made their adjustments to counter for Kohli’s absence.

“The Indian team must have done their home work,” Sarfraz said. “Good teams always take the field prepared.”

The margin of error in brief tournaments such as Asia Cup are limited. Keeping that in mind, Sarfraz has told his team to “play every match as it’s against India”.

He expressed satisfaction at his team’s form heading into the big game and made a special mention of opener Fakhar Zaman, who had hammered a swashbuckling ton when the sides had last met, in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy.

“Fakhar Zaman is improving his performances each and every day,” Sarfraz said.




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Late Murray penalty earns Brighton 2-2 draw at Southampton

LONDON (Agencies): Brighton & Hove Albion’s Glenn Murray converted a 90th-minute penalty to snatch a 2-2 draw at south-coast rivals Southampton after they fought back from two goals down in a pulsating Premier League clash on Monday.

The result left Southampton in 13th place, one spot above Brighton who also have five points from as many games after their late pressure paid dividends.

Murray, who blasted his spot-kick past goalkeeper Alex McCarthy as the Seagulls scored their first away goals of the season, acknowledged they were fortunate to avoid defeat.

“After the way we performed in the first half we got away with one,” the striker told Sky Sports. “We were very poor and were under par. The second half was a different game. We put them under pressure and got our reward at the end.” Southampton’s Denmark midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg gave them a 35th-minute lead with a scorching shot from 30 metres after they missed two good chances in a one-sided first half.

The writing seemed to be on the wall for Brighton after Danny Ings made it 2-0 for the home side with a penalty in the 65th, having had his heels clipped by left back Gaetan Bong.

But the visitors came roaring back as Duffy gave them hope with a close-range 67th-minute header after Anthony Knockaert’s cross from the right and they nearly equalised in the 89th when McCarthy kept out a Juergen Locadia effort from five metres.

Brighton hit the outside of the post through substitute Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s clever effort and then won a corner from which James Ward-Prowse bundled Duffy over leaving Murray to score from the spot to delight the visiting fans. “We’re disappointed with the award of the penalty,” said Southampton manager Mark Hughes. “Shane Duffy is a big lad and he’s gone down easily under an innocuous challenge. They will look for anything they can get and the referee has bought that.”

There was still time for late drama as Southampton came close to snatching a winner but visiting goalkeeper Matt Ryan kept out a fierce Ryan Bertrand free kick. “It’s the second game we’ve come back from 2-0 down,” said relived Brighton manager Chris Hughton, referring to his side’s 2-2 home draw with Fulham on Sept. 1.

 “You have to look at the character but also some of the frailties that put us in that position in the first place, credit to the lads they responded well.” Saints goalscorer Hojbjerg was understandably frustrated. “It’s nice to make a good goal like this but I want to win, that’s all that matters,” he said.

“We have to look forward and take the positives out of the game and learn from the less positive things. Maybe there’s a hangover from (the relegation battle) last season, a nervousness. Maybe we need to get that out of the system.”

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Tiger Woods returns to Ryder Cup

WASHINGTON DC (Agencies): Playing in the Ryder Cup will be the culmination of an amazing comeback season for Tiger Woods, one the 14-time major champion feared might never happen after back surgery.

The 42-year-old American has shown flashes of the form that made him golf’s dominant player in younger days in his first campaign after spinal fusion surgery, a last-gasp operation to try and extend his legendary career.

“It was a last-ditch effort; i tried everything else because fusion is the last-ditch effort and nothing beyond that. So didn’t know what my playing career would be like. This is all uncharted territory,” Woods said.

So far, Woods’ performances are steadily improving and the medical charts are showing no back issues after years of nagging problems. Woods has hit drives longer than his youthful days, led the British Open in the final round in July, finished second in last month’s PGA Championship and fired a 62 earlier this month, his lowest US PGA opening round since the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic.

And the former world number one achieved his goal of securing a Ryder Cup captain’s pick from Jim Furyk, who pulled him from a planned assistant captain’s role after seeing the quality of his game. “Deep down, I wanted to make the team. I really wanted to play on it, i had not started playing golf really yet, but still, it was a goal at the end of the season to make this team,” Woods said.

Woods went into spinal fusion fearing his chronic back pain might linger for life. “I had resigned (myself) to it because I had lived in a pretty difficult situation for a while. I just wanted the pain to go away, it was painful sitting, laying, moving, anything. It was just constant pain in my back and down my leg,” Woods said.

Now Woods, who had 79 career PGA titles, hasn’t given up his quest to reach the record 18 major wins of Jack Nicklaus or Sam Snead’s all-time PGA mark of 82.

“In order to get to Jack’s record, I have to pass Snead’s record. Just simple math,” Woods said. “And I want to make that happen. I’m close. I have been close to winning tournaments this year. I think if I keep giving myself opportunities, I’ll get the job done. Woods, whose first major title came at the 1997 Masters, has seen huge support from crowds at events; his amazing shotmaking at an older age sparking roars and cheers rivaling those of his youth.


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Sloane Stephens loses early at Pan Pacific Open

TOKYO (Agencies): Fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens was eliminated from the first round of the Pan Pacific Open by Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-4 Tuesday. The 2017 US Open champion also lost to the unseeded Croat in the first round at Wimbledon.

Also, seventh-seeded Ashleigh Barty reached the second round by beating CoCo Vandeweghe 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, while No. 8 Barbora Strycova defeated Zarina Diyas 6-4, 6-4. In other matches, Johanna Konta defeated Gabriela Dabrowski 6-2, 6-0, and Alison Riske beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-4. Caroline Wozniacki is the top-seeded player at the tournament and Caroline Garcia is No. 2. Both had byes in the first round. Third-seeded Naomi Osaka, who won the US Open just over a week ago, also had a bye and plays Wednesday against Dominika Cibulkova.


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Police fully alive to ensure peace during Muharram

Hafiz Muhammad Aziz-ur-Rehman

HAFIZABAD: Police was fully alive to ensure peaceful and congenial atmosphere particularly during this holy month and it had taken all precautionary measures in this respect.

In this connection, a meeting of Tehsil Peace Committee was held here which was presided over by DSP Rana Jameel Ahmad, who called upon the members of the peace committee particularly Zakireen and Ulema to maintain interfaith harmony on the occasion of Ashura-i-Muharram. He told the meeting that the police have made fool proof arrangements for peaceful atmosphere and has deputed adequate policemen and Police Qoumi Razakars.

He, however, stressed upon the members of the peace committee to keep watchful eye over the anti-Islam and anti-state elements who always created law and order problems on such occasion to achieve their vested interest. The members of the peace committee assured him that they would strive to maintain traditional peace on Ashura-i-Muharram. Prominent among those, who attended the meeting included Syed Usman Shah Naqvi of Sunni Tehreek, Hafiz Allah Ditta of JUI, Liaqat Zawar alias Khannu of Shia community, Moulana Ghulam Mustafa Sultani Sunni Federation, Sheikh Muhammad Amjad President Markazi Anjuman Tajran and Incharge CPLC Rana Khalid Mahmood.


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Big clash to be finalised this week

Las Vegas (Agencies): Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (60-7, 39 KOs) will finalise their rematch this week, with two dates believed to be under consideration. The pair, who announced the fight on Saturday, look set to clash in early December in Las Vegas.

Ring Magazine reports that Dec.1 and Dec.8 are both potential options for fight promoters, and an official announcement could come as early as this week. Pacquiao later confirmed the news in an interview with reporters in his native Philippines.

“We will finalise the fight this week, either Mayweather or somebody else, where and when, what date,” he said. Mayweather comfortably beat Pacquiao in their first head-to-head back in 2015, but is yet to fight in this year. He beat Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor in Aug.2017 in his last appearance in the ring.



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Winner of Pak-India match to win Asia Cup: Iqbal

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Former Test spinner and chief selector, Iqbal Qasim believes the winner of Pak-India match will win the Asia Cup but said green-shirts have an edge over India due to the 2017 Champions Trophy win.

Talking to media, Qasim, who played in 50 Tests and 15 ODIs from 1976 to 1988, said Pak-India cricket rivalry is one of the most extreme and intensified sports rivalries in the world and obviously this match is going to be the same.

“But Pakistan morale and confidence will be higher than India due to the Champions Trophy win,” he said and added the Indian team will have to work harder than Pakistan in the match. Qasim, who ended his career with 171 wickets in his 50 Test matches, both Pakistan and India are tough teams and the one who will dominate the other first will win the Asia Cup.

Former cricketer Aamir Sohail said Pakistan is a much tougher team than India in Asia Cup as the 2017 Champions Trophy win has boosted green-shirts morale.

Aamir, who played 47 Test matches and 156 ODIs said Pakistan’s Champions Trophy win will give them more confidence when they face India in the competition. “Pakistan also has an edge over other teams as they have played in the UAE more than others,” he said.

Responding to a question regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between PCB and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2014 to play bilateral series from 2015 to 2023, he said former PCB chairman Najam Sethi had just given false hopes to the whole Pakistani nation about the Pak-India series otherwise there was no such thing on paper.

Former ICC president Zaheer Abbas said Pakistan has bright chances of winning the Asia Cup because UAE pitches are no stranger to our players. “It is their home ground and we can expect Pakistan to bring the Cup home,” he said.