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Rohit Sharma becomes first batsman to hit three double centuries

MOHALI (AFP): Rohit Sharma on Wednesday became the first batsman to hit three double centuries in one-day internationals as he powered India to 392-4 in their second match against Sri Lanka.

The opener, captaining the team in absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, smashed 12 sixes and 13 fours in an unbeaten 208 after the hosts, who trail the three-match series 1-0, were put in to bat in Mohali.

Sharma reached 200 in the 50th over, bowled by opposition skipper Thisara Perera. His first hundred came off 115 balls, and his second off just 36 balls.

The right-hander scored 209 against Australia in Bangalore in 2013, and followed that double-hundred with his highest score of 264 against Sri Lanka a year later in Kolkata.

Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Virender Sehwag (India), Chris Gayle (West Indies) and Sachin Tendulkar (India) have recorded a double century each in ODI cricket.

Sharma made a bright start with his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan (68) after the Indian batsmen´s horror showing in the opening ODI, when they were skittled out for just 112.

Sharma’s 213-run stand for the second wicket with Shreyas Iyer, who scored 88, also stood out on a hazy day in Mohali.

Dhawan, who hit nine boundaries during his 67-ball knock, was caught at mid-wicket off Sachith Pathirana. But the wicket proved to be a minor blemish on India´s innings as Sharma dominated the bowlers with the attack-minded Iyer for company.

Sharma took a special liking to first-ODI hero Suranga Lakmal, hitting the paceman for four towering sixes in one over.

Iyer also changed gears after completing his maiden fifty in just his second ODI, smashing the Sri Lankan bowlers around the park.

Perera got three wickets with his medium-pace bowling but was still hit around the park by Sharma, who had vowed to bounce back after India were mauled in the first game. Sharma’s unbeaten 208 steered the hosts to an imposing 392-4 and then restricted Sri Lanka to 251-8 to level the three-match series at 1-1 in Mohali.

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Misbah made place for Amir in team: Mickey Arthur

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Team Coach, Mickey Arthur has said Muhammad Amir has completely changed his behavior and attitude and now is a important part of the team.

This he said while talking to media persons at Karachi. Mickey Arthur said that former skipper Misbah-ul-Haq is the real force behind the comeback of Muhammad Aamir in the team and he created space in the team for him.

He added that all the people in the team and board supported the Misbah’s decision in this regard and for the cricket.



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Jansher urges PSF to invest on young players

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Legendary and squash wizard Jansher Khan Tuesday urged the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) to invest on young talented players to restore the past glory of the sports.

Talking to media persons, legendary squash player who won the British Open World Championship for record six times, said the Pakistan Squash team suffered humiliating defeats against Egypt and Switzerland teams in the WSF World Team Squash Championship played in Marseille in France.

He attributed the poor performance of the players to lack of proper concentration on the game and not doing required hard work to compete at the international level. The players were only on joyride rather to give due concentration on the game.

He said that Pakistan Squash No.1 player Farhan Mehboob was not sent to the tournament whose presence in the team would have made a difference and benefited the team. He said that Farhan Mehboob was the most experienced and talented young player among the present lot but he was ignored in the tour. He said the performance of the players sent to the tournament was not up to the mark and let the team down in the tournament. “Investing on such players is waste of tax payers’ money,” he went on to say.

Jansher, who won World Team Squash Championship and World Open Individual for the record eight times, said that Pakistan ranked 19th in the 25th World Team Squash Championship which was very disappointing for the countrymen and for Pakistan, a country rules the world of squash a record 37 years.

He said that Pakistan produced champions in squash and ruled the game for years but now Pakistan lagging behind even its archrival India who finished 7th in the tournament. “India has not achieved much in the game of squash but it still performed well than that of Pakistan in the Championship which is shocking for us,” he added.

He asked the PSA to invest on young players instead of relying on the senior ones. “We invested a lot on the senior players but they cannot make any progress or improved their skills. More investment on senior players is the waste of precious capital and time. These players cannot compete at the international stage as they are not serious and shied away from hard work. Their fitness level is not good enough to compete with international players,” he added.

He said the federation should formulate a comprehensive five year plan and invest on fresh blood to reclaim the lost glory in the game of Squash. “Our youth are talented and needed full attention to hone their skills and improve their fitness to take the Squash game forward,” he added.

He advised the federation to arrange junior squash championships like organized by the Malaysia, Japan, China and Hong Kong so the young players get the opportunity to play with international players and learn from their experiences and improve their game.

The Squash legend, who dominated the game for 10 long years, welcomed the Professional Squash Association decision of holding Pakistan Open Tournament (Men’s) carrying the prize money of $50,000 US dollars and Women’s carrying $25,000 US dollars tournaments after 10-year and appreciated the efforts of the PSF in this regard.

He said that the Professional Squash Association had stopped organizing any squash events in Pakistan but the new office-bearers of PSF got succeeded in persuading the association to organize the Pakistan Open Tournament (Men’s and Women) event.

He also urged for appointing professional and committed people in the Pakistan National Squash Academy (PNSA) to work for the promotion of the game, welfare of players and bring forward talented and deserving players to revive Squash in the country. He suggested to Pakistan Squash Federation to fully concentrate of upcoming talent and polish them at grassroots level if they want to achieve the desire result.

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Dubai Baseball Cup: Pakistan beat India to bag gold

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: The Pakistan Baseball team won gold after defeating India 11-2 in the Dubai Baseball Cup at Emirates Little Baseball Field on UAE’s Independence Day.

The Greenshirts scored 11 runs in nine innings, while India could only manage once apiece in the second and third innings. Umair Imdad Bhatti was the player of the match with five runs to his tally, which included a home run.

Pakistan Baseball Federation (PBF) Executive Director Syed Fakhar Ali Shah told the media that the win will help Pakistan climb up the rankings ladder. “The team played really well and performed outstandingly against India,” he said. “This will help Pakistan in rising up the world rankings.”

Fakhar added that the match was held as an alternate to the West Asia Cup, which was held in Islamabad earlier in February where teams from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan took part, but India were unable to participate as they were not granted visas.

“The Indian team was not issued Pakistani visas and missed the event which also affected their ranking, so Pakistan and Indian Baseball Federation decided to play a rankings match at a neutral venue. Following the agreement both federations requested the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and they gave this match the desired stature,” he said.

Fakhar said the match was held in Dubai on WBSC’s request. “The reason for selecting Dubai as the neutral venue is that the WBSC has been requesting the president of PBF Syed Khawar Shah to work on the development of baseball in Arab countries, as they want to promote the sport in the region.”

At the prize distribution ceremony, the president of UAE Baseball Softball Federation said: It was good to see India and Pakistan baseball teams in Dubai and I hope that the series will be fruitful for the promotion and the development of baseball in Dubai.

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Cook not thinking about retirement ahead of 150th Test

Monitoring Desk

SYDNEY: Alastair Cook has “no idea” when he will be retiring and is completely focused on beating Australia in his 150th Test this week to keep the Ashes series alive, the former England captain said on Tuesday.

Cook, England’s most prolific Test run scorer, has made 62 runs in four innings as the tourists have gone 2-0 down in the five-match series and some former players turned pundits have suggested he might be about to call time on his career. “I haven’t made any decision on anything. All my focus is on this game, the biggest of our lives coming up,” Cook said in Perth.

Cook captained England on their last Ashes tour Down Under when spinner Graeme Swann retired mid-series with the tourists 3-0 down and headed for a 5-0 whitewash. Former Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson and England batsman Kevin Pietersen have suggested that Cook had the look of a man who might be ready to hang up his bat.

“For the people who are saying that, they’ve had no contact time with me,” Cook, who is 33 later this month, said. “They wouldn’t know the extra nets I’ve been doing behind closed doors. “I was with (my batting coach) yesterday for an hour-and-a-half in the morning, desperate to keep working on my game.

“That’s probably not a guy who’s given in. To be honest with you, I have no idea (when I’ll retire). And I’ve said that since I gave up the captaincy.” The opener said retirement might not end up being his own choice if he continued to fail to make runs and said becoming the first England player to play 150 Tests was “quite special”, especially as the last 147 have been consecutive.

Cook has enjoyed an Ashes triumph in Australia in 2010-11 as well as the 2013-14 debacle and said the current party would not fail for want of trying. “I will say this about this England side, I’ve never seen a side a work as hard as this side,” he said.

“Win, lose or draw, whether we play well or we play rubbish, the effort from the guys is unbelievable. There’s a group of men in there, 16 or 17 of them, desperate to do well.”


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Manchester City eye record against Swansea

Monitoring Desk

MANCHESTER: Manchester City look unstoppable in their relentless surge towards the Premier League title, and only have lowly Swansea standing in the way of Pep Guardiola’s men setting a new record of consecutive wins on Wednesday.

City are 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League and the managers of Manchester United and Chelsea both effectively conceded defeat in the title race at the weekend.

Their victory against Jose Mourinho’s United on Sunday was their 14th straight win in the Premier League — a single season record that also equalled the best-ever run Arsenal established over two seasons in 2002. Yet despite their frightening form, City defender Kyle Walker is urging caution. “We have to keep our feet on the floor and keep working hard, preparing physically and mentally,” he said. “We have another important one on Wednesday against Swansea. We have to keep getting three points.”

Guardiola has declared repeatedly that his team will lose a league match at some point this season but few people would expect that to happen at second-from-bottom Swansea. David Silva is in dazzling form, with goals in each of his past two appearances and a man-of-the-match display on Sunday but the Premier League’s leading scorers have an array of talent supporting him.

However there could be consequences on and off the field following derby victory. Captain Vincent Kompany was substituted after an hour with what appeared to be the latest in a sequence of muscle injuries. With John Stones out until early January with a hamstring injury, it means Guardiola has just two fit senior centre-backs — Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala.

And the Football Association has demanded answers from both United and City following reports of an ugly fracas in the Old Trafford tunnel after the match that reportedly left City assistant coach Mikel Arteta bloodied. Guardiola must decide whether to recall striker Sergio Aguero, who was an unused substitute on Sunday, after Gabriel Jesus played in a front three against United alongside Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane.

Swansea striker Wilfried Bony may feel he has a point to prove against his former club. Bony had a disappointing year-and-a-half in a City shirt, scoring just 10 goals in 46 appearances after joining them from Swansea in January 2015. An uninspiring season on loan at Stoke failed to rebuild his reputation and the Ivory Coast forward is now back at the Liberty Stadium for a second spell.

After failing to score in his first eight games back at Swansea, Bony has now found the net in each of his past two. He struck on Saturday as they beat West Brom 1-0, climbing off the bottom of the Premier League and easing some of the pressure on manager Paul Clement. “We have to go into our next game with no fear,” said winger Nathan Dyer.

“Manchester City are doing very well so we will have to ensure we are concentrating for the full game and then take the chances we create.”

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Gayle’s record 146* carries Rangpur to maiden title

DHAKA (Cricinfo): Chris Gayle hoisted Rangpur Riders to their maiden BPL title, his unbeaten 146 leading them to a 57-run win in the final against Dhaka Dynamites. Dhaka, the defending champions and favourites ahead of the final, were brought down to earth by relentless six-hitting from Rangpur’s batsmen, 21 in all, in front of a packed Mirpur crowd.

Gayle’s innings ticked what was possibly the only remaining blank box in his T20 checklist – a century in a tournament final. He broke two of his own records, smashing 18 sixes to go past the mark of 17 he set during the 2013 IPL, and going past his 126 not out from the first qualifier, played four days ago, to make the highest score in the BPL, 146 not out. He also became the first batsman to score five BPL hundreds.

The final as a contest was over in the fourth over of Dhaka’s reply when Mashrafe Mortaza, playing his fourth BPL final, ran 25 yards towards the long-on boundary to complete the catch that sent back Evin Lewis. The rest of the game was, frankly, just a wait for Rangpur to start the party, and for their owners to shower gifts on their players.

Gayle and Brendon McCullum, the pair billed as the biggest attraction in this year’s BPL, picked the perfect moment for their combined onslaught. They put on an unbroken 201 for the second wicket, the biggest partnership in the BPL.

Shakib frustrates Charles

Shakib Al Hasan began brilliantly for Dhaka, keeping Johnson Charles, who was fresh from scoring his maiden T20 century, quiet in the second over. After four dot balls, three of which Charles tried to hit out of the park, Charles popped one meekly back to the bowler off the leading edge. Dhaka had drawn first blood with only five runs on the board.

Shakib hands Gayle a life

The second-wicket pair initially took things slowly before Gayle hit Mosaddek Hossain for three sixes in the sixth over. After the first one, though, Dhaka could have dismissed Gayle when he drilled one straight to Shakib at cover. He spilled the chance, though. Gayle was on 22 at that point. It did not take too long for Shakib to realise he had made a grave error.

Rude awakening for young Khaled

Gayle and McCullum was always going to go after Khaled Ahmed, the young uncapped pace bowler. In his first over, the 11th of the innings, Gayle top-edged him over the point boundary before connecting cleanly with a swipe over midwicket. Two successive sixes, and from a decent 63 for 1 after 10 overs, Rangpur had begun speeding away from Dhaka.

Gayle crunches into crucial spells

Dhaka’s spin attack was always going to test Rangpur, and with Shahid Afridi and Sunil Narine bowling well in their first few overs, there was some hope that they could pull things back. No chance.

Gayle lifted Afridi’s googly over long-on in the 12th over and then hit him for two more sixes in the 14th over. In between, he slog-swept Narine over midwicket, one of the hits that he really connected.

Hider drops McCullum, his head drops too

In the 15th over, McCullum skied Abu Hider over the square-leg region. Despite the wicketkeeper and another fielder approaching, Hider sprinted hard, calling for the catch and telling the others to back off. Having done that, he failed to even touch the ball, despite diving towards it. Gayle added salt to his wounds, blazing sixes off his next two balls.

Mayhem all the way

 Gayle went into overdrive in the last five overs, which produced 75 runs. This despite Narine only conceding two off the 17th over, in which Gayle brought up his hundred. Kieron Pollard went for 24 in the 18th over, with McCullum depositing his slower one over wide long-on and Gayle smiting him over midwicket and long-on. Gayle hit two straight sixes in the 19th over, in which Khaled conceded 21.

In the last over, McCullum took a single off the first ball and let Gayle take over against Shakib, who was bowling only his third over. Gayle declined a single off the second ball, an understandable move given how he was hitting the ball, and promptly hit three of the next four balls for six. The long-on and deep midwicket fielders simply stood still as the ball flew high over their heads.

Dhaka offer no fight

Dhaka’s reply became of academic interest once Shakib’s dismissal for 26 left them five down inside the ninth over. Mehedi Maruf had fallen in the first over, lbw to Mashrafe, and Joe Denly and Lewis followed soon after. Rubel had Pollard offering a catch to Gayle at short fine-leg, before Shakib and Jahurul added 42 runs for the fifth wicket. Jahurul reached his sixth fifty, the only bright note in Dhaka’s innings.

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New Zealand completes clean sweep against West Indies

Monitoring Desk

HAMILTON: New Zealand won the second test with a 240 runs against West Indies on the fourth day on Tuesday and complete the clean sweep in the series.

The visitors were struggled to face the New Zealand fast bowling attack in the second innings especially against Neil Wagner.

While chasing the target of 444 runs, the West Indies innings come to end at 203 for the loss of nine wickets after injured Sunil Ambris was unable to continue batting.

The victory improved New Zealand´s home record to 13 wins, three losses and seven draws in their last 10 home series.

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Dhaka to face Rangpur in BPL final today

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Dhaka Dynamites and Rangpur Riders will face off in the final of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) on Tuesday (today).

Both the teams have played really well to reach the cement the place in the final of the BPL. Some hard big hitting batsmen are present in the both teams and the fans are waiting for some close and exciting match between these two teams.

Dhaka Dynamites have Shahid Afridi and Kieron Pollard, whereas Rangpur Riders have match winning hitters including Chris Gayle and Brendon McCullum.

Skipper of Dhaka, Shakib is the leading wicket-taker of the tournament while Afridi already has two four-wicket hauls.





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Real Madrid to face PSG in Champions league

NYON (Agencies): Holders Real Madrid will have to overcome a sizeable obstacle when the Champions League resumes in February after Monday’s draw pitted the 12-time winners against Paris St Germain.

Bidding for a hat-trick of titles in Europe’s elite club competition, Real paid a heavy price for not winning their group as they were drawn with the big-spending Parisians who were tipped as many people’s favourites ahead of the draw in Nyon.

Five-time champions Barcelona will face English champions Chelsea, one of five Premier league clubs in the draw. Tottenham Hotspur, who topped their group ahead of Real Madrid thanks to a 3-1 victory at Wembley, will face Serie A champions and last seasons’ runners-up Juventus.

Manchester City, who clocked up a record 14th successive Premier League victory on Sunday, are now listed as favourites after being handed a last-16 clash with Swiss club Basel. Five-time winners Bayern Munich, who finished below PSG in the group, will be happy with a two-legged clash with Turkish outsiders Besiktas.

Europa League champions Manchester United take on Sevilla while, Liverpool will meet Porto while AS Roma’s reward for winning their group ahead of Chelsea is a tricky tie against Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Champions League has proved beyond even the vast riches available to PSG and last season they were stunned in the last 16 by Barcelona, losing the second leg 6-1 after beating the Spanish side 4-0 in the French capital.

A clash with Real is hardly what they would have desired at such an early stage but with Neymar and Edinson Cavani having scored six goals apiece in the group, they will be hopeful – if they can keep Real’s nine-goal Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.

“This could have been the final, given the power of the two clubs. The last 16 is a bit early, we could say. Logically we are both challengers for the trophy,” Emilio Butragueno, Real’s director of institutional relations, said following the draw. “PSG get stronger and stronger, they had an impeccable group phase and have a lot of power. I don’t think it’s a good draw for them either. It will be a thrilling tie.”

PSG and real have played six times in Europe, most recently in the 2015-16 group stage when the sides drew 0-0 in Paris with Real edging the return match 1-0. Chelsea and Barcelona will renew a regular Champions league rivalry that last surfaced in the 2012 semi-final when Chelsea won 3-2 on aggregate before going on to claim the trophy for the only time in their history. Barcelona won the 2009 semi-final on away goals. “We’ve had some great times at Stamford Bridge, haven’t we?” Barca’s Andres Iniesta said on Twitter.

While Antonio Conte’s Chelsea were handed a tough draw, the other English qualifiers would have been reasonably content with their opponents, especially Manchester City. While Basel are a formidable side at home and have some big English scalps at home in the Champions League, Pep Guardiola’s side will be big favourites to progress. “We have to be careful, they deserve to be here,” City’s technical director Txiki Begiristain said.

Tottenham will face Juventus for the first time while Manchester United and Sevilla have also never met before. Bayern Munich will meet Besiktas for the first time since winning 2-0 home and away in the 1997-98 group stage.

“Bayern are a powerful team but we are not a piece of cake either,” Besiktas president Fikret Orman said. The first legs, with group winners PSG, Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Roma, Manchester City, Barcelona and Besiktas away first, take place on Feb. 13-14 and Feb. 20-21 with the returns on March 6-7 and March 13-14.