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Afghanistan to host Bangladesh T20 series in India

Monitoring Desk

NEW DELHI: Afghanistan will host Bangladesh for three Twenty20 internationals in India next month, the country´s cricket board chief said.

The Afghanistan cricket team, which has had its training base in India since 2015, will play their matches on June 3, 5 and 7 in the northern Indian city of Dehradun.

“ACB is delighted to host Bangladesh for the T20I series in Dehradun in early June which will be a good opportunity for both sides to play competitive cricket,” Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chairman Atif Mashal said in a statement.

Afghanistan cricket CEO Shafiq Stanikzai said selectors would pick from the pool of players currently taking part in a training camp in India. “These matches will be important for both sides to gain valuable points in the ICC rankings and the lead-up to the 2020 ICC World Twenty20,” Stanikzai said.

Bangladesh Cricket Board chief executive Nizam Uddin Chowdhury said he was looking forward to “a very competitive series”. “Afghanistan have some fine players for this format and they will have the advantage of familiarity with the conditions in Dehradun,” he said.

Afghanistan, who became a full ICC member along with Ireland last year, will play the first Test match in their history — against top-ranked India — starting June 14 in Bangalore.

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Pliskova ends Halep’s Madrid dominance

Madrid (Agencies): Karolina Pliskova turned on the style to end Simona Halep’s Madrid Open dominance with a 6-4 6-3 quarter-final victory on Thursday.

Halep, who thanks to Caroline Wozniacki’s loss to Kiki Bertens in the previous round will retain her world number one spot, had dominated Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna a day earlier to stretch her run in the Spanish capital to 15 matches.

But Pliskova was in inspired form, making life uncomfortable for favourite Halep, who hit an uncharacteristic 26 errors. Halep – who held a 6-1 head-to-head record over her opponent prior to the match – consequently sees her run as two-time defending champion come to an end, while Pliskova can now look forward to a last-four meeting with Petra Kvitova or Daria Kasatkina.

Halep made a swift start, breaking her opponent with a blistering forehand that Pliskova could only put into the net. A couple of unforced errors saw Pliskova hit straight back, though, and the Czech showed great variety and neat touches en route to breaking again with a crunching forehand return. Pliskova saw a couple of set points come and go on Halep’s serve in game nine, but served out to love at the next opportunity. Halep struggled to turn the tide in the second set and Pliskova had the break in game three when the Romanian went long with a double backhand. Pliskova showed no signs of cracking under the pressure and a deserved triumph was sealed with a break to love, Halep going into the net to compound a miserable outing

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Preity Zinta hails Mujeeb

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Indian film actress and owner of Kings XI Punjab Preity Zinta hailed the young Afghan spin sensation Mujeeb Ur Rehman for his recent performance in the Indian Premier League against Rajasthan royals.

In a Twitter post, Preity Zinta has said “Our cub that roars louder than any lion. What a wonder and consistent performance by Mujeeb Zadran in this IPL 2018.”

Mujeeb bagged the Player of the Match award during a match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Sunday night.

He was recognized as the winner of the award for his outstanding performance to contibute into the winning momentum of his team, Kings XI Punjab.

Played in Indore, the Kings XI Punjab managed to defeat the Rajasthan Royals by six wickets to secure the third sport in the points table of the ongoing competition.

Mujeeb managed to take three wickets from the 4 overs he bowled to help restrict the Rajasthan Royals to score 152 runs from 20 overs.

He secured a economy rate of 6.75 by giving 27 runs from 4 overs and was subsequently awarded the Player of the Match award.

The Kings XI Punjab managed to defeat rival Rajasthan Royals by six wickets and 8 balls remaining.

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Gujrat Warriors crowned Super Kabaddi League champions

F.P. Report

LAHORE: Gujrat Warriors beat Faisalabad Sherdils to be crowned champions of Pakistan’s inaugural Super Kabaddi League on Thursday.

Gujrat Warriors, who qualified for the final after beating Kashmir Jaanbaaz in the semifinal last night, outclassed Faisalabad Sherdils by 38-26 to win the tournament.

Faisalabad Sherdils had defeated Sahiwal Bulls by 33-24 to secure their berth in the final.

The tournament, hosted by Strawberry Sports Management, was played between 10 franchise-based teams which represented different cities of the country. The teams were picked through a draft and were divided into two pools.

Pool A consisted of Gujrat Warriors, Gwadar Bahadars, Lahore Thunders, Sahiwal Bulls and Karachi Zorawars. Pool B was made up of Islamabad All-Stars, Faisalabad Sherdils, Peshawar Haiders, Multan Sikandars and Kashmir Jaanbaaz.

The league had kicked off in Lahore on May 2 amid a star-studded affair that saw performances from famous singers and actors including Reema Khan and Sara Raza Khan.

Revolving around very basic skills, the game of kabaddi is played by two teams of seven, in which a ‘raider’ enters the other half of the court to tag or wrestle opponents before returning ‘home’ while holding his breath and chanting ‘kabaddi, kabaddi’.

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Australian captain Paine denies Warner rift

SYDNEY (AFP): Australian skipper Tim Paine Thursday denied David Warner was a divisive figure widely disliked within the team, insisting he would be welcomed back after his ban for a cheating scandal.

Disgraced former vice-captain Warner is serving a year-long suspension for his part in the plan to use sandpaper to tamper with the ball during the third Test in South Africa in March.

He was considered the mastermind of the scandal that rocked the sport and also saw former captain Steve Smith and batsman Cameron Bancroft suspended.

Respected News Corp cricket writer Robert Craddock this week questioned whether Warner could fit back into a team under the leadership of new coach Justin Langer given “half the players can’t stand him”.

But Paine said the comments were “off the mark” and “really unfair”.

“I certainly like Craddock’s writing and when he’s on TV I’m a fan of his,” Paine told reporters in Hobart in his first press conference since officially being made one-day and Test skipper.

“But I thought he was a little bit off the mark there and really unfair on David Warner as a person and as a cricketer.”

He said while Warner’s competitiveness might sometimes “rub the opposition up the wrong way,” he was well received within the Australian camp.

“Within our team he’s someone with that energy and that competitiveness who we love playing with, there’s a side of David that people don’t know which is a really loyal, really caring and a good team man to have around,” he said.

Langer, who was appointed this month to replace Darren Lehmann who quit as coach in the wake of the tampering scandal, has said he would welcome Warner back, but only if the meets his behavioural standards.

Paine said he had been in touch with all suspended players.

“All three are certainly going to be welcomed back into our team, if they’re prepared to toe the line with our new brand of cricket, which I know they will,” he said.

“I know they’ll all do the right thing and score enough runs to be back in our side and they’ll be certainly be welcomed back.”

Speaking to SEN radio this week, Craddock claimed some in the team had contacted Cricket Australia saying they didn’t want to play with Warner again. “If (Langer) wants cultural shift, how do you have cultural shift and Warner in the same team? That’s my question,” he said.

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Injured Murray could still return in time for Wimbledon

LONDON (Agencies): Andy Murray hasn’t ruled out returning from his troublesome hip injury in time for Wimbledon, according to his mother Judy.

Former world number one Murray has been out of action since last year’s Wimbledon and underwent hip surgery in January.

Murray had made the grass-court season his target as he continues his rehabilitation and was believed to be ready to play at a Loughborough Challenger event, which starts on May 21.

But reports this week suggested the two-time Wimbledon champion was in danger of missing his home Grand Slam after apparently scaling back his training programme.

However, Murray’s mother is adamant the 30-year-old can still be ready for the start of Wimbledon on July 2. “His goal was always to be ready for the grass-court season and, fingers crossed, that will happen,” Judy Murray told the BBC on Thursday. “I’m sure when he’s got some news he will share that.”

Murray has publicly committed himself to the Rosmalen grass-court tournament in the Netherlands that starts on June 11 and is also scheduled to play the prestigious Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club in west London.

Asked if she had any fears about the three-time Grand Slam winner’s career being over, Judy added: “I don’t think so; he’s still got a lot of things he wants to achieve in the game.

“The strength and depth of men’s tennis is so great that I don’t think anybody would want to come back into that environment unless you are 100 per cent.

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Squash quarterfinals on Friday

ISLAMABAD (APP): The main round of Pakistan Squash Circuit-1 for Men and Women kicked off on Thursday here at Mushaf Squash Complex with a draw of 16 players each.

A total of 8 matches for Men and as many as for women were played.

In men event, Farhan Zaman (Pak) beat Abbas Zeb (Pak) 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-3, 30 Min; Zahir Shah (Pak) beat Umair Zaman (Qat) 4-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-8, 34 Min; Danish Atlas (Pak) beat Zeeshan Khan (Pak) 12-10, 11-3, 11-7, 28 Min; Farhan Mehboob (Pak) beat Syed Ali Bukhari (Pak) 11-8, 11-6, 11-9, 21 Min; Tayyab Aslam (Pak) beat Mansoor Zaman (Pak) 11-5, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 38 Min; Amaad Fareed (Pak) beat Khawaja Adil Maqbool (Pak) 11-5, 11-4, 11-7, 19 Min; Israr Ahmad (Pak) beat Haris Iqbal (Pak) 11-4, 11-7, 11-4, 30 Min; Asim Khan (Pak) beat Shoaib Hassan (Pak) 11-8, 11-3, 11-6, 19 Min.

The top seed of Women Event Noorena Shams was outclassed by Noor Ul Ain Ejaz in straight set within 7 minutes only.

Similarly the youngest player Amna Fayaz also defeated 2nd seed of the event Anum Mustafa in 5 games match which lasted for 31 Minutes.

In women event, Noor Ul Ain Ejaz (Pak) beat Noorena Shams (Pak) 11-3, 11-3, 11-0, 7 Min; Zoya Khalid (Pak) beat Zahab Kamal Khan (Pak) 11-0, 11-8, 11-9, 15 Min; Moqaddas Ashraf (Pak) beat Rushna Mehboob (Pak) 11-9, 11-1, 11-5, 15 Min; Madina Zafar (Pak) beat Nimra Aqeel (Pak) 11-3, 11-3, 10-12, 11-6, 20 Min; Faiza Zafar (Pak) beat Aimnan Shahbaz (Pak) 11-9, 11-8, 11-4, 14 Min; Riffat Khan (Pak) beat Saima Shaukat (Pak) 11-9, 11-6, 6-11, 11-8, 24 Min; Noor Ul Huda (Pak) beat Komal Khan (Pak) 11-13, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-6, 31 Min; Amna Fayyaz (Pak) beat Anum Mustafa (Pak) 11-4, 13-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 31 Min.

The quarter finals of both men and women events would be played on Friday.

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Privileged to be part of historic Ireland Test, says Safraz

DUBLIN (Monitoring Desk): Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed says he is privileged to be part of the historic Test against Ireland as the European nation takes to the field for the very first time in a five-day match in Dublin on May 11.

Ireland will play against Pakistan at Malahide in Dublin from Friday in what will be a momentous first Test match for a country with a rich tradition of cricket.

The European side will become the first team to debut in Tests, after being awarded full member status last June along with Afghanistan, since 2000 when Bangladesh played against India in their first-ever Test. The match will be Ireland’s first step towards being ranked on the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Team Rankings, while also providing their players with the opportunity to make an entry into the individual rankings with strong performances against the seventh-ranked side.

And Sarfraz, who is confident of his side putting in a strong showing against the debutants, has showered praise on his opponents.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this historic Test match and all of us are really looking forward to it. Ireland, who have a great tradition of cricket, are playing at home and I wish them all the best in this big moment,” said Sarfraz. “Ireland players feature prominently in the ICC ODI and T20I player rankings, and I am confident that in due course they will also make their mark in the Test rankings.”

Ireland captain William Porterfield, meanwhile, says everyone has been looking forward to this moment.

“It is a massive occasion for everyone involved in Irish cricket. This is something that we have looked forward to since a long time. Everyone has been looking forward to this week, so it is a big occasion for all involved,” he said.

“For the 11 lads who will take the pitch, it will be a fantastic occasion for them and their families but we have to also remember everything that has gone before in Irish cricket in terms of getting us to this stage, over the years,” he added.

Pakistan will gain one point with a win against Ireland and reach 87 points, while a draw will see them slip to 84 and a loss will take them to 81 points. The table is led by India at 125 points with South Africa placed second at 112. Australia (106) and New Zealand (102) are placed third and fourth, respectively.

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Azhar top-ranked batsman

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan opener Azhar Ali is the top-ranked batsman in the Dublin Test from Friday, as per the MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings. Asad Shafiq (joint-25th) and captain Sarfraz Ahmed (32nd) are the others in the top-50 while upcoming left-hander Sami Aslam would be hoping to improve his position of 74th on the table, a press release issued here said.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah is leading Pakistan’s pack of bowlers at 16th position, while fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas (37th) and Mohammad Amir (39th) are the other prominent names in the team for Pakistan, who were top-ranked in Tests in August 2016. As for Ireland, players like captain William Porterfield and his opening partner Ed Joyce, all-rounders Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien, and fast bowler Tim Murtagh would all be looking to make a fine start to their Test careers, having achieved decent rankings in the shorter formats In ODIs, Stirling (35th), Joyce (42nd), Kevin O’Brien (51st) and Porterfield (58th) are the leading batsmen while Murtagh (20th), off-spinner Andy McBrine (42nd), Boyd Rankin (58th) and George Dockrell (63rd) are the leading bowlers.

Joyce, who has also represented England in international cricket, is the most experienced Ireland player in first-class cricket, having played 254 matches, scoring 18,414 runs with 47 centuries. Among bowlers, Murtagh goes in with the considerable experience of having taken 712 wickets in 210 first-class matches.


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Tiger Woods to play at Carnoustie

NEW YORK (BBC): Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods will play at The Open Championship at Carnoustie in July. Woods, a three-time winner of the Claret Jug, made his competitive return to golf in December, after 16 months out following multiple back surgeries.

The American, 42, finished tied for 32nd at the Masters in April, his first appearance at a major since 2015. Woods’ two previous appearances at the Scottish course saw him finish seventh in 1999 and 12th in 2007. The Open, won by Woods in 2000, 2005 and 2006, will be played from 19-22 July and is the third major of the year. The former world number one played only three events in 2017 and one in 2016 due with his ongoing injury problems. A second-place finish at the Valspar Championship in March was Woods’ best finish at a tournament since 2013.