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Paine wary of overworking Aussie pace battery against Pakistan

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Australia captain Tim Paine said he will need to use his fast bowlers in short spells in the test series against Pakistan if they are to defy hard, slow pitches and high temperatures in the United Arab Emirates. With injuries to regular fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, Australia have included an uncapped duo Brendan Doggett and Michael Neser in their squad and recalled veteran Peter Siddle for the two-match series next month. “It’s going to be over 40 degrees and really high humidity so we’re going to have to be clever about how we use our bowlers,” Paine told reporters. Australia have not won a test series in Asia since 2011 and their success this time could depend on left-arm quick Mitchell Starc, who picked up 24 wickets in Sri Lanka in 2016. The 28-year-old will return to action from a foot stress injury and Paine has hinted about going a little off script to bring the best out of his trump card in grinding conditions. “I expect him to be bowling short spells and as fast as he can,” Paine added. “We’re hopeful – no, we’re sure – Starc will have a really big series, and if he does, it will go a long way towards winning it for us.” Pakistan has hosted most of its international matches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah since 2009 when a gun and grenade attack injured six Sri Lankan players in Lahore while killing eight Pakistanis. Australia will travel to Dubai looking to rebuild after the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal which led to long bans for the nation’s two top batsmen, Steve Smith and David Warner. Paine said a patient approach would be required to counter the conditions – something they failed to accomplish in a 2-0 trouncing by Pakistan on their last visit to the UAE in 2014. “I think games traditionally in the UAE take a long time so we are going to have to be really patient,” he said. “We have spoken about partnerships and patience and pressure, which is going to be a real key over there.” Australia will play the first test against Pakistan from Oct. 7 in Dubai, followed by the second test at Abu Dhabi from Oct. 16.

International hockey teams refuse to play in Pakistan

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The International  Hockey Federation (FIH) cancelled the hockey open series which was scheduled in Pakistan, citing that the teams are not willing to travel to Pakistan. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had invited Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Oman and Qatar to come and join hands with Pakistan to revive International hockey in the country. But Oman, Sri Lanka and Qatar had had already refused Pakistan’s proposal citing busy team schedules. Whereas the other teams also part ways to come and play in Pakistan. The series was scheduled to take place from 26 to 30 September in Lahore. Earlier, PHF wrote a letter to the FIH influencing them to convince the teams to come and play in Pakistan. The PHF already is going through several controversies as the team’s performance has gone from bad to worst. Many former Olympians bashed on the current federation for not working in a right direction to lift the status of hockey in the country.

U.S. Open champ Osaka eases to victory on return to action in Tokyo

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka cruised to victory in her first match since lifting the U.S. Open title, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-1 in the last-16 at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo on Wednesday. Osaka, who stunned Serena Williams to become Japan’s first grand slam singles champion earlier this month, produced another display of fearless power-hitting to put away Slovak Cibulkova in just under an hour. The 20-year-old, cheered by the capacity home crowd, raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set and then went on break her opponent three times in the second to ease to victory. “It was really difficult,” third-seeded Osaka said courtside. “I’m just grateful that I could play in front of you guys.” Osaka will either play Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic or Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit in the quarter-finals. Earlier in the day, two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza suffered a shock 6-1 6-2 defeat by American qualifier Alison Riske. World number 75 Riske scored her third victory over a top-20 ranked opponent this year, recording 19 winners to just nine unforced errors. In her fifth quarter-final of the season, Riske will next face fourth seed Czech Karolina Pliskova.

Scandal-hit Australia vow ‘hard but fair’ series against Pakistan

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Skipper Tim Paine vowed Australia will play “hard but fair” against Pakistan they embark on their first Test tour since a ball-tampering scandal and with fresh controversy raging following allegations by England’s Moeen Ali. The squad jetted out late Wednesday for their first Test series since the ill-fated tour of South Africa early this year, which led to 12-month suspensions for Steve Smith and David Warner and triggered an outpouring of public anger. Australia have five uncapped players in their squad for a tour in which they plan to adopt a more respectful culture and move away from the win-at-all-costs mentality blamed for the explosive ball-tampering row. “The Australian way has always been to play hard and fair and that’ll be no different this series,” Paine told reporters before departing for the United Emirates. “There’s always a lot of eyes on the Australian cricket team wherever we play, so that will be no different, and this team is really clear on what’s expected and our standards, and we’ll uphold them.” Two reviews into the state of the game were set up in the aftermath of South Africa — one focusing on the culture within Cricket Australia and the other into the team. While the team has had a shake-up and Darren Lehmann was replaced as coach by Justin Langer, they open the two-Test series days after further off-field problems emerged after Moeen said in his autobiography that an Australian player called him “Osama” during the 2015 Ashes. Moeen, a practising Muslim, said he was on the receiving end of the slur, a reference to terror leader Osama bin Laden, from an unnamed opponent during his Ashes debut against in Cardiff. Cricket Australia has launched an investigation, calling the comment “unacceptable”. Australia will play its first Test against Pakistan in Dubai from October 7.

Ronaldo sees red as Juventus beat Valencia

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VALENCIA: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus lasted only 29 minutes as he was red-carded but the Italians began their Group H campaign impressively with a 2-0 victory at Valencia on Wednesday.
Penalties either side of halftime by Miralem Pjanic sealed the points for the visitors as Valencia’s return to European competition after a two-year absence fell flat. The night was meant to be all about Ronaldo’s first Champions League appearance for the club he has tormented so often down the years for Real Madrid. His first real impression, however, was not what anyone in the Mestalla could have imagined though as he was sent off for the first time in the Champions League in his 154th appearance. After a lively opening half hour the Portuguese forward, scorer of a record 121 Champions League goals, was involved in a tangle in the penalty area with Valencia defender Jeison Murillo as he awaited a cross from the left. It did not appear too sinister but German referee Felix Brych, after consulting with his assistant behind the goal, pulled out his red card to the dismay of Ronaldo. After leaving the pitch the five-times Champions League winner, whose stoppage-time penalty for Real Madrid knocked Juve out in the quarter-finals last season, waited by the tunnel entrance, seemingly on the verge of tears. Juventus responded to the shock in a positive fashion and were ahead before halftime. They had already threatened to pierce Valencia’s rearguard with Joao Cancelo having an effort turned on to the woodwork by Valencia keeper Neto and Sami Khedira wasting a good chance for the Italian champions. On the stroke of halftime, Daniel Parejo’s reckless challenge on Cancelo earned him a booking and gave Pjanic the chance to send 10-man Juventus into the interval ahead. Five minutes after the break the home crowd fell silent when Jeison Murillo pushed Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci in the back and Brych pointed to the spot again. Once again Neto guessed right but Pjanic’s penalty was placed into the corner. Valencia dominated possession after that but Juventus’s well-drilled defence held firm until stoppage time when Brych awarded the third penalty of the game. Parejo stepped up but Wojciech Szczesny saved his spot-kick to sum up the Spanish side’s frustrating evening. Bonucci, who was imperious throughout, said Juve’s togetherness had helped them prevail in difficult circumstances. “We proved to be a very united team,” he said. “We continued to play our football even with 10 men. “We all suffered together in the final stages of the game but this is a great group and we proved it again tonight.” Ronaldo’s red card will mean he is likely to miss Juve’s clash against his former club Manchester United who they face in the third round of fixtures.

‘The boys were not up to the mark with their performance,’- Mickey Arthur

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The Head coach Pakistan cricket team, Mickey Arthur admitted that his boys were not up to the mark as they lost to India in the Asia Cup by eight wickets on Wednesday. Mickey while talking to the media in Dubai said that the performance of green caps was way disappointing against their arch-rivals. “Yes our performance was too bad and we need to plan something potent to turn the results in our favour, ” Mickey said. He said that the batsmen didn’t take responsibility which led them down miserably hence now he will personally work on the weaknesses of each batsman to compete strongly in upcoming matches. “There are so many things to be discussed for next matches, we will try not to repeat our mistakes,” he said. To a query about out-of-form Mohammad Amir, Mickey said that he is a World class bowler but there are some issues which they had talked to him and hopefully he would overcome them soon. “Amir is our key bowler but he is not in-form which is obviously a concern for us. We had a chat with him the other day, hopefully, he will be back in form soon,” he said. Pakistan will now face Afghanistan on September 21 at Super Four stage. The men in green will once again lock horns with the blue caps in another high-profile game of the Asia Cup on September 23.

‘No mountain too high for improving Liverpool’ – Klopp

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Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp believes his players have proved there is “no mountain they cannot climb” after stepping up a level to clinch a dramatic victory over Paris St Germain at Anfield. Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino struck a stoppage-time winner as the Merseyside club beat PSG 3-2 in a thrilling Champions League Group C clash on Tuesday. Having inflicted the first defeat of the season on the French champions, Klopp believes Liverpool have reaffirmed the credentials that took them to the final of the elite European competition last-term. “The cool development of this club is that when you hear Liverpool are playing PSG you don’t think we have no chance any more,” the German manager told reporters. “One, two or three years ago maybe people thought it’s a mountain we cannot climb. That is good that it is not like that now and that is because of last year. “It’s still so unbelievably difficult. What the boys make of the match plan is extraordinary. One of them a yard less tonight and it’s game over.” Liverpool will look to maintain their perfect start to the Premier League season when they host Southampton on Saturday.

Hazard left out of Chelsea squad for Europa League opener

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Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard has not been included in the squad for their Europa League group stage opener at Greek side PAOK on Thursday, the Premier League club said. The Belgian is among four players left in London by manager Maurizio Sarri along with centre-back David Luiz, midfielder Mateo Kovacic and left-back Emerson Palmieri. Hazard has made a flying start to the season with five goals in as many Premier League appearances, including a hat-trick in his most recent outing against Cardiff City at the weekend. Sarri’s decision to leave Hazard out of the Europa League Group L match will keep the attacking midfielder fresh for Sunday’s league trip across London to West Ham United. Chelsea top the Premier League table ahead of Liverpool on goal difference with five wins in their opening five matches.

‘We have collectively decided to launch SBL Pakistan in 2019’- Amir Khan

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The Super Boxing League (SBL) Pakistan is likely to take place after the fourth edition of the PSL, boxer Amir Khan revealed in a video message. Pakistan-born British boxer, Amir said that the league was delayed due to some reasons but now they are all set to stage the league next year. “I’m speaking to give you all an update that we have collectively decided to launch SBL Pakistan in 2019,” Amir said. He said that the dates are not confirmed yet but most probably it will be held after the PSL. “The dates are yet to be confirmed but the plans are to conduct it after the PSL in 2019,” he stated. Amir said that they have got the positive response from the new government over organising such a fruitful event for boxing in the country. “We will collaborate with the new government for organising this league in a successful manner,” he said. He added that Mr Prime minister is passionate about flourishing sports in the country and wants to take it to the next level. “Imran’s vision is to work tirelessly for the betterment of sports in the country hence he has ensured all-out support to us,” Amir said.

Pakistan’s flop batting surrenders to India in Asia Cup

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Pakistan’s batting was a big let down in this contest that disappointed a near-packed stadium and millions of viewers around the world. India carried the day by eight wickets, chasing the target of 163 in just 29 overs. It is said about Pakistan’s batting that it has the capability to lift a match by piling up runs and also deflate the hype with its hunky dory ways. That happened at Dubai stadium after Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat on a flat pitch which was on the slower side but Pakistani batsmen were fast in coming and going and only momentarily showed any fight. Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar got rid off Imam-ul-Haq in the third over as the left-hander came down the pitch and was caught behind. With three hundreds in five one-day games in Pakistan’s last series in Zimbabwe, Imam had easy outings but failed in his first real test. Fakhar Zaman also holed out in the next Bhuvneshwar’s over to leave Pakistan struggling at 3-2. It was left to Babar Azam (47 off 62 balls with six fours) and Shoaib Malik 43 off 67 balls with a six and four to lift Pakistan to 85-2. But once Babar fell to Kuldeep Yadav in the 22nd over the innings fell apart, with Pakistan losing their last seven wickets for 77 runs. Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed played a shot too early and was smartly caught by substitute Maneesh Panday for just six. Pakistan’s batsmen were so clumsy that an occasional bowler like Kedar Jadhav returned with career-best figures of 3-23 while Bhuvneshawar finished with 3-15. Malik looked well set but fell to a run out as a nervous Asif Ali called for a sharp single and then returned him. Pakistan were 100-5 and it was left to Faheem Ashraf (21) and Mohammad Amir (18 not out) to It was an easy chase for India who romped home as the much vaunted Pakistan’s bowling could not dislodge Rohit Sharma and in form Shikhar Dhawan. They put on a rapid 86 with Rohit hitting three sixes and six boundaries in his 56 while Dhawan knocked six boundaries and a six in his 46. Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are qualified for the Super Four. Pakistan will play India once again on September 23 in Super Four stage.