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Pakistan’s renewed bowling attack worries Windies

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Shadab Khan
Pakistan's Shadab Khan celebrates after dismissing West Indies' wicket-keeper Chadwick Walton. — AFP

West Indies players and staff need to join their heads and devise a strategy to fend off the danger posed by Pakistan’s renewed bowling arsenal, Captain Jason Holder said Sunday.

Shadab Khan produced an outstanding debut performance as Pakistan completed a comfortable six-wicket victory over the West Indies in the first fixture of a four-match Twenty20 international series at Kensington Oval.

Put in on a bright, breezy afternoon, the world champion hosts were restricted to 111 for eight off their allotted 20 overs with the tourists knocking off the runs with almost three overs to spare to extend their T20 winning streak over their rivals to four following a 3-0 sweep in the United Arab Emirates last September.

Brought on as the fifth bowler when the West Indies batted in what looked like ideal conditions, 18-year-old Shadab’s mesmerising mixture of leg-breaks and googlies earned him figures of three for seven, the most economical ever in the history of T20 international cricket by a debutant in a complete four-over spell.

“We need to just sit down and work out our plans against all their bowlers,” Holder said.

“Obviously we are coming up against some guys who we have never played. In this situation, we need to find how best to play them given the conditions that we have,” he added.

Shadab removed opening batsman and wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton and dangerous middle-order strokeplayer Lendl Simmons in his first over before adding the scalp of Sunil Narine in his second.

“We struggled with their slow bowlers, and it’s a situation where we need to counteract their slow bowlers in the middle. Those were the guys who really put the strangle on us up front,” said the West Indies skipper.

Holder and company will have a chance to level the series 1-1 when they take on Pakistan in the second T20 on Thursday.

Ronaldo tops Messi in earnings

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Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was the best paid footballer in 2016-17. — AFP/File

PARIS: Real Madrid’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo was the best paid footballer in 2016-17, with 87.5 million euros ($95.3m) in earnings, ahead of his Argentinian rival at Barcelona, Lionel Messi (76.5m), according to figures to appear in Tuesday’s edition of France Football.

Messi’s Brazilian teammate Neymar is third with 55.5 million euros ahead of Real Madrid’s Welsh forward Gareth Bale (41m) and  Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi (28.5m), who plays for Hebei Fortune in the Chinese Super League.

Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho is the best paid coach, with income of 28 million euros, the magazine said.

France Football said it based its figures on salary, bonuses and advertising income for the 2016-2017 season.

Bangladesh eye rare away glory in Sri Lanka

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Mashrafe Mortaza
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza shares a light moment with teammates during a practice session at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium in Dambulla on Monday. — AFP

DAMBULLA: Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said Monday he’s confident his side can secure a rare series win away from home when they face Sri Lanka in the second One Day International this week.

The tourists lead 1-0 going into Tuesday’s contest at Dambulla and know that victory would secure their third ever series win away from Bangladeshi soil.

Bangladesh dominated Sri Lanka with bat and ball during the opening game Saturday of the three-match series to clinch a crushing 90-run win against their more illustrious opponents.

A win on Tuesday would see them take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

“I am fully confident we will play our best. It will give us a good chance (of victory),” said Mortaza.

“They will try very hard too since they are 1-0 behind. They will try to push us from the start. They know how to play aggressive cricket. We have to execute our plans properly and start anew,” he added.

Bangladesh have only ever beaten fellow-strugglers Zimbabwe and an under strength West Indies team in an away series.

But at home they have enjoyed a fine run of form lately, winning five consecutive series in the past two years before narrowly losing to England in October.

They failed to win a single match in their most recent away series in New Zealand however, although Mortaza said his teammates had learnt from the disappointment.

“New Zealand was difficult for us but that experience will work for us here,” he said.

Sri Lanka, who are staring at a fifth consecutive ODI series loss against a Test nation, added fast bowlers Nuwan Kulasekera and Nuwan Pradeep to their squad due to fitness concerns over Suranga Lakmal.

Team manager Asanka Gurusinha said Lakmal was likely to play though and warned Bangladesh that his side were hurting from the humiliation of Saturday’s defeat.

“(The) team is really pumped up after losing the first game. We know the pressure is on us because we don’t have any more chances,” he said.

“It’s like a main final for us. We are pretty confident that we can play much better than we did,” Gurusinha added.

India’s first FIFA tournament to be staged in Delhi

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FIFA U-17 World Cup India
fter a week-long inspection, authorities selected six cities across the country including Mumbai and New Delhi for the U-17 matches, FIFA said. — AFP/File

NEW DELHI:  The Under-17 World Cup will kick off in New Delhi, marking India’s first-ever FIFA tournament, world football’s governing body said Monday despite initial concern over air quality in the world’s most polluted capital.

After a week-long inspection, authorities selected six cities across the country including Mumbai and New Delhi for the U-17 matches, FIFA said.

“The match schedule has been created following a thorough analysis of players’ health, competition format, team movements, weather, local festivities, geography and other factors,” said Jaime Yarza, head of FIFA tournaments, in a statement.

Last month FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament director Javier Ceppi said that air quality in Delhi was a “serious concern”, particularly since the tournament will be held in the same month as the Diwali festival, when residents celebrate by setting huge amounts of fireworks.

Pollution levels spiked to record levels in Delhi around Diwali last year, forcing schools to shut as authorities ordered a series of emergency measures including a temporary ban on construction.

A 2014 World Health Organization survey of more than 1,600 cities ranked Delhi as the most polluted.

Monday’s statement said at least eight matches would be held at each venue, with India’s football-mad city of Kolkata set to host the final at its Salt Lake Stadium.

While cricket is India’s number one sport, Kolkata is often regarded as the premier football city and it is just as common to see youngsters kicking a ball on the streets as wielding a bat.

India are currently 130th in the FIFA world rankings, wedged between minnows Suriname and the Dominican Republic and with little sign that an upturn in fortunes is around the corner.

The Under-17 World Cup will be held from October 6-28.

India close in on win after Jadeja’s allround brilliance

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Ravindra Jadeja struck a fifty to give India a handy first innings lead before returning to claim three Australian wickets as the home side stood 87 runs away from a series-clinching victory in the fourth and final test on Monday.

After two days of fluctuating fortunes in the finale of an evenly-matched series tied at 1-1, India surged ahead in the morning session when they fashioned a valuable 32-run lead before being dismissed for 332 on the stroke of lunch.

On the liveliest of the four pitches used in the series, Australian top order struggled against the bouncing ball before Jadeja (3-29) and Ravichandran Ashwin shared six wickets between them to bowl out the tourists for 137.

Chasing 106 to complete a 2-1 series victory, India were 19 for no loss at stumps at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium which is hosting its first test.

Openers Lokesh Rahul (13) and Murali Vijay (six) will resume on Tuesday, with the hosts looking set to complete a comprehensive win inside four days after thoroughly dominating the third day.

Earlier, Jadeja made 63 and featured in a 96-run partnership with wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha after India resumed 52 runs adrift and with four wickets in hand.

Jadeja was hit on the helmet after deflecting a ball from Cummins, who peppered the batsman with short deliveries. The 28-year-old connected on one of them to slog his fourth six before dragging a delivery from the same bowler on to his stumps.

Steve O’Keefe sent back Kumar in the next over and Cummins (3-94) got rid of Saha, who made 31, with another short delivery.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon (5-92) dismissed debutant Kuldeep Yadav for seven to wrap up the India innings and complete his second five-wicket haul of the series.

Australia’s top order let them down when they walked out to bat.

Karun Nair spilled David Warner at slip off Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the second time in the match but the opener, who has managed just one fifty in the series, was unable to capitalise and was caught behind for six off Umesh.

Much depended on skipper Steve Smith and the highest scorer of the series hit three delectable boundaries before guiding a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery onto his stumps to depart for 17.

Umesh (3-29) then had Matt Renshaw caught behind as Australia lost three wickets before they had wiped out India’s first innings lead.

Jadeja dismissed Shaun Marsh, Pat Cummins and Steve O’Keefe before Ashwin joined the party, claiming 3-29.

Glenn Maxwell topscored with a fluent 45 before paying the price for offering his pad, and no shot, to Ashwin.

Hamilton hopes for ‘best v best’ duel with Vettel

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Hamilton hopes for 'best v best' duel with Vettel

LONDON: Lewis Hamilton lost a battle but regained a rival after Sebastian Vettel won Sunday’s Australian season-opener for Ferrari.

The outcome raised hopes of a genuine title tussle between the two dominant Formula One drivers of the past decade, even if overtaking opportunities were thin on the ground.

The first Ferrari victory since 2015 made Vettel, a four-times world champion with Red Bull, the only non-Mercedes driver to have led the standings since the V6 turbo hybrid power units were introduced in 2014.

Over the past three years, triple world champion Hamilton has had only his team mate, the now-retired 2016 title winner Nico Rosberg, and reliability to worry about with Mercedes winning 51 of 59 races up to Melbourne.

If Hamilton, winner of 10 races last year, was disappointed not to make a winning start to the campaign, the Briton also sounded enthused by the new challenge.

“You are seeing the best against the best,” he told reporters.

“I am really grateful to have that fight with him (Vettel),” continued the 32-year-old, who won his first title with McLaren in 2008. “Finally we can have an actual race. It’s going to be close… it’s great to see Ferrari there.”

Between them, Hamilton and Vettel have won seven of the last nine championships. Only Britain’s Jenson Button, in 2009, and Germany’s Rosberg last season interrupted their success.

HARD SLOG

But they have yet to race each other as main contenders for the crown, Red Bull and Ferrari waning as Mercedes entered an era of engine domination just as McLaren had faded away previously.

“It’s been a privilege to be racing in an era with him and now finally at a period of time when we can actually have a real race,” said Hamilton, who finished second after starting on pole with Vettel alongside.

“I wish we could race a lot closer in the cars that we have today, but still I think the fact that we are similar pace-wise, it’s going to be a very, very hard slog this season.

“Racing the best is what Formula One is all about and ultimately makes you work that much harder, having to raise the bar and I’m looking forward to that.”

Vettel, who joined Ferrari in 2015 after four successive titles with Red Bull, has 43 career wins to Hamilton’s 53 but every hope of closing the gap.

“Right now it looks like we have equal machinery,” Vettel said.

“I hope it stays that way and then we will see how it turns out, but it’s obviously a lot of fun to race for victories and a lot of fun to race against the best.”

Australia paceman Tait announces retirement

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Australia paceman Tait announces retirement

Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait has announced his retirement from all forms of the game on Monday due to persistent elbow injuries.

Tait, who had retired from first-class cricket in 2009 and one-day internationals in 2011, continued to play as a Twenty20 specialist, with his last match coming for the Hobart Hurricanes against the Sydney Thunder in the 2016-17 Big Bash League.

“I honestly wanted to play a couple more years, whether it was over in the UK or here,” the 34-year-old Tait told cricket.com.au.

“The elbow has pretty much gone off a cliff now, it’s done and dusted. “I suppose when you’re not contributing on the field as much as you’d like to, it’s time to finish up.”

Tait was instrumental in Australia’s 2007 World Cup triumph in West Indies, where he was the joint-second highest wicket-taker with 23 dismissals in the tournament.

“In his prime, Shaun was the world’s fastest bowler. It was incredibly exciting to watch him full flight bursting through the defences of the game’s best batsmen,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement.

Tait represented Australia in three tests, 35 ODIs and 21 T20s and made his last international appearance against India in the shortest format at Sydney last year.

Sarfraz has all praises for the young Shadab

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Sarfraz has all praises for the young Shadab
Shadab Khan celebrates his first international wicket.

Pakistan’s limited over captain, Sarfraz Ahmed has all praises for the young leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who bowled brilliantly against West Indies on his international debut. He took 3 wickets for 7 runs in 4 overs.

The 18-year old leggie is the find of Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) second season, he impressed cricket experts and fans playing for Islamabad United in the tournament.

In a video message for Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Sarfraz Ahmed said, “The way Shadab bowled, it was his first match and he deserves a lot of praise for that. I think it would be a big day for him and his family because he represented Pakistan today for the first time and was the man of the match. I congratulate him and his family.”

“This is a good sign for his (Shadab Khan) career. He bowled superbly in the first match he played and helped Pakistan bag a win with his leg-spin. I am hopeful that he will achieve much more in the future,” he added.

The 29-year old skipper seemed delighted with the convincing victory and told that it is always good to have an early lead in the series.

“The first match of any series is important and thanks to Almighty we won it,” he stated.

The wicketkeeper/batsman hailed the effort of his bowlers, especially Wahab Riaz’s spell, who bowled against a strong wind of Bridgetown.

“I would like to give credit to the bowlers. Imad [Wasim] gave us a great start, then Shadab, followed by our pacers Wahab [Riaz] and Hasan [Ali] who bowled really well. Especially Wahab, the two overs he bowled against the wind, it was quite difficult to bowl in those conditions,” he said

Pakistan won the first game convincingly by six wickets chasing a small target of just 112 runs. The visitors are 1-0 up in the four-match T20 series and they would like to keep up the dominance in the remaining three games.

‘Comfortable’ Ozil soon to decide on his Arsenal future

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'Comfortable' Ozil soon to decide on his Arsenal future
Mesut Ozil.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil insists he is comfortable at the North London club and will make a decision regarding his future soon with the German’s contract due to expire at the end of next season.

Manager Arsene Wenger said last week that contract negotiations with key players Ozil and striker Alexis Sanchez were on hold until the end of the current campaign.

“Do you think Arsene Wenger tells the journalists (about my future) before he tells me? I know him differently,” Ozil told German newspaper Die Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Arsenal have slipped to sixth in the Premier League, losing four of their last six encounters in all competition, including a 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Ozil acknowledged the recent slump in form and said his side was hoping to finish the season strongly.

“Of course, we have had a difficult time recently and we are not satisfied with sixth place,” the 28-year-old German added.

“I am convinced, however, that we will catch up again soon.”

Arsenal trail fourth-placed Liverpool by six points and are hosting third-placed Manchester City on Sunday.

Record-equalling Williamson ton puts NZ on top

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Record-equalling Williamson ton puts NZ on top
Jeet Raval congratulates Kane Williamson on his 17th century.

HAMILTON: A masterful Kane Williamson century propelled New Zealand ahead of South Africa by stumps on day three of the series-deciding final Test in Hamilton on Monday.

It was the 17th ton by Williamson, equalling Martin Crowe’s New Zealand record, and featured in a commanding 190-run stand with Jeet Raval for the second wicket.

Raval’s dismissal late in the day for 88 triggered a revival for South Africa as New Zealand slipped from 273 for one to 321 for four at stumps in reply to South Africa’s 314.

Williamson was unbeaten on 148 with Mitchell Santner on 13.

New Zealand, battling to square the series which South Africa lead 1-0, took control on the third day after rain delayed the start.

Raval resumed with Tom Latham who progressed from his overnight 42 to 50 before he was caught behind by a diving Quinton de Kock off Morne Morkel.

It was to be another 58 overs before a second wicket would fall as Williamson joined Raval to dictate the terms to a bowling attack toiling on a flat track.

South African skipper Faf du Plessis had identified Williamson’s wicket as a key to beating New Zealand, and the number three batsman showed why as he moved quickly into attack mode, mindful of time lost because of the weather.

Williamson worked the ball to all parts of the ground including a six off Keshav Maharaj over the bowler’s head.

He followed up with two more off Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel over the square leg boundary — three sixes in one innings from a batsman who only had nine from his previous 60 Tests.

The six off Philander made him the sixth and fastest New Zealander to reach 5,000 Test runs, seven innings quicker than the previous record set by Crowe.

When Williamson smacked part-timer Dean Elgar to the boundary for his hundred, he equalled Crowe’s New Zealand record of 17 centuries but took 16 fewer Tests to get there.

While Williamson punished the bowling, Raval was impressively patient as he picked up ones and twos off the pace attack of Philander, Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.

He batted for 390 minutes and faced 254 balls for his 88 before falling to the Morkel-de Kock combination.

Unlike Latham, whose edge had the wicketkeeper diving to his left to take a one-handed catch, the left-hander Raval had an inside edge which forced de Kock to dive right to take another one-handed catch down the leg side.

Rabada then accounted for Neil Broom (12) and Henry Nicholls (nought) in successive balls before Santner joined Williamson to guide New Zealand through to stumps.

For South Africa, Morkel has two for 74 and Rabada two for 83.