Salah shines again as Liverpool beat Roma 5-2

LIVERPOOL: Inspired by two-goal Egyptian Mohamed Salah, Liverpool took a big step towards the Champions League final with a 5-2 win over AS Roma in their semi-final, first leg at Anfield on Tuesday. Two late Roma goals, however, will give the Italians, who came back from 4-1 down to beat Barcelona in the previous round, some hope of an upset in the return game next Wednesday. A pair of superbly taken goals from Salah, against his former club, gave Juergen Klopp’s side a 2-0 lead at halftime and Liverpool simply ripped Roma apart after the break. A Sadio Mane goal and then two Roberto Firmino goals put Liverpool 5-0 up and Klopp felt comfortable enough to take off Salah, who had been outstanding. Yet Edin Dzeko struck for the visitors in the 81st minute and four minutes later Diego Perotti converted a penalty to generate some tension for the return in Rome. Liverpool fans left Anfield with some of the shine of a wonderful attacking display removed by the two late goals and they may wonder why Klopp decided to take off Salah and why their team took the foot off the gas. Just as against Manchester City in the previous round, Liverpool had shown the sheer potency of their attacking trio. If Roma’s defence struggle half as much at the Stadio Olimpico, Liverpool will surely be heading to Kiev for the final on May 26 to face Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, who meet in the other semi-final on Wednesday. Roma began brightly, unfazed by the Anfield atmosphere, as they closed down Liverpool and attacked with intent down both flanks. The mood of the home crowd worsened in the 18th minute when midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken off on a stretcher with what appeared to be a serious injury after a sliding tackle on Aleksandar Kolarov. Liverpool looked edgy and they came close to falling behind when Kolarov unleashed a fierce drive from 30 metres which keeper Loris Karius rather unconvincingly got a hand to as the shot thundered against the crossbar. That served as a warning for Klopp’s side, who responded in devastating fashion. Stunning finish Mane should have scored in the 29th minute when put through after brilliant work from Firmino but the Senegalese forward shot over the bar with only keeper Alisson to beat. Moments later Mane was set up again by his Brazilian teammate but blasted wildly off-target from a promising position inside the area and his frustration was enhanced when he had a close-range effort correctly ruled out for offside. It was Salah who broke the deadlock in the 35th minute with a stunning finish, cutting in from the right and then leaving Alisson helpless as he floated a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner. Defender Dejan Lovren should have doubled the lead but hit the bar with a free header from a corner and that was the last let-off for the Italians. Salah made it 2-0 with his 43rd goal of the season when Firmino sent him clear. With Alisson advancing he beat the Brazilian with a deft chip that was straight out of the repertoire of former Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish. Some teams might have considered a 2-0 halftime lead a scoreline to be defended. Klopp’s side, however, are far from cautious and they took full advantage of some awful Roma defending. Mane was rewarded for his persistence in the 56th minute, sliding a low finish into the net after the unstoppable Salah had broken down the right and put the ball on a plate for his teammate. Salah then danced past Juan Jesus and played a similar low cross into the path of Firmino, who made no mistake to make it 4-0. Firmino made it 5-0 in the 68th minute when the shellshocked Roma defence left him unmarked at a corner and he headed in. Bosnian Dzeko pulled a goal back for Roma nine minutes from the end after he collected a wonderful floated pass from Radja Nainggolan and drove past Karius. A single away goal would probably not have been enough to give Roma any real hope for the second leg but when James Milner was ruled to have handled in the area, substitute Perotti slotted home the penalty to keep some tension in the tie.

Darren Sammy to return to Pakistan for Zalmi Excellence Awards

Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy will be returning to Pakistan to attend the Zalmi Annual Excellence Awards. Peshawar Zalmi chairman Javed Aridi took to Twitter to make the announcement. The awards which will take place on April 30 in Islamabad, will also feature the likes of former West Indies great Brian Lara and Sir Viv Richards alongside Darren Sammy. Javed Afridi also tweeted that former Australian bowler Jeff Thomson, England captain Nasser Hussein and Graham Gooch will also be in attendance. A first of it’s kind, Peshawar Zalmi will be hosting the awards in collaboration with PTV titled the Zalmi Lifetime Achievement Awards. Darren Sammy is one of the most popular cricketers in Pakistan who frequently takes to social media to post about Pakistan, cricket and his time here in the country while representing Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League (PSL). One of the most popular teams in PSL, Peshawar Zalmi won the second edition of PSL while finishing as runners-up in the third edition of the tournament this year.

Pakistan cricket team to tour South Africa in December this year

Pakistan will tour South Africa for three Test matches, five ODIs and three T20 internationals from December 2018 to February 2019, Cricket South Africa announced on Monday. Pakistan, who will be visiting South Africa for the first time since 2013/14, will play the prime holiday season Tests in December and January, with Centurion awarded the Test starting on December 26 and Cape Town the traditional New Year Test starting on January 3. The third Test will be in Johannesburg from January 11. Pakistan will also play five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals. South Africa will then face Sri Lanka in Tests in Durban and Port Elizabeth in February, to be followed by five ODIs and three T20Is. Prior to this, Zimbabwe will tour South Africa in September this year, with three ODIs and three T20Is at some of South Africa´s smaller cricket venues. Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Thabang Moroe said that the scheduled 13 one-day internationals during the season would enable the national team to fine-tune their preparations for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. South Africa vs Pakistan fixtures Tour match: Dec 19-21: SA Invitation XI vs Pakistan, Benoni Tests: Dec 26-30: South Africa vs Pakistan 1st Test, Centurion Jan 3-7: South Africa vs Pakistan 2nd Test, Cape Town Jan 11-15: South Africa vs Pakistan 3rd Test, Johannesburg ODIs: Jan 19: South Africa vs Pakistan, 1st ODI, Port Elizabeth Jan 22: South Africa vs Pakistan, 2nd ODI, Durban Jan 25: South Africa vs Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Centurion Jan 27: South Africa vs Pakistan 4th ODI, Johannesburg Jan 30: South Africa vs Pakistan, 5th ODI, Cape Town T20Is: Feb 1: South Africa vs Pakistan, 1st T20I, Cape Town Feb 3: South Africa vs Pakistan, 2nd T20I, Johannesburg Feb 6: South Africa vs Pakistan, 3rd T20I, Centurion

Pakistan hockey star seeks heart transplant in India

ICMD, April 23, 2018 Pakistan’s World Cup winning field hockey goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed on Monday reached out to India for help in securing a heart transplant — despite years of breaking his rivals’ “hearts on the field”. The 49-year-old has been suffering for weeks from complications stemming from a pacemaker and stents implanted in his heart. Mr. Ahmed has been a sporting icon in Pakistan since helping the country win the 1994 World Cup in Sydney with his penalty stroke push against the Netherlands in the final. “I may have broken a lot of Indian hearts on the field of play by beating India in the Indira Gandhi Cup (1989) and in other events but that was sport,” Mr. Ahmed said. “Now I need a heart transplant in India and for that I need support from the Indian government.” Despite the strained ties, Pakistanis are eligible to apply for medical visas to India. Mr. Ahmed, who played 338 international matches, participated in three Olympics and various other high-profile events in a career spanning from 1986 to 2000, said the visa could be a lifesaver. “Humanity is paramount and I too would be obliged if I get a visa and other help in India”, said Mr. Ahmed. -- AFP

As many as 100 stadiums to be built to promote sports: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Professor Ahsan Iqbal has said that some 100 new stadiums would be built in the country to develop infrastructure for the promotion of sports activities. The stadiums would be constructed with the help of provincial governments on 50:50 basis, the minister said while talking to sports journalists of Rawalpindi-Islamabad at National Sports City, Narowal. Ahsan Iqbal, who is also Interior Minister, said President Mamnoon Hussain would visit Narowal by the end of the current month to inaugurate the National Sports City Narowal while an exhibition match would also be played on the occasion. Pakistan Sports Board Deputy Director General, Mansoor Ahmed, Executive Engineer Ayaz Akbar and Media Director Azam Dar were also present on the occasion. The minister said the National Sports City Narowal project was initiated in 2009, however, no funds were allocated for it during the Peoples Party government. He said after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the ministry of sports was devolved to provinces, however, after coming into power in 2013, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government restarted the project. So far Rs 2 billion had been spent as the project would be completed by the end of the current year by spending Rs 1 billion more. He said that the Sports City would have facilities to play cricket, football, hockey, tennis, squash while it would also include an athletic track, a swimming pool, a gym and a gymnasium. The minister said three hostels and an administrative block had already been constructed in the city. He viewed that after Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and Quetta, the National Sports City would be next to provide such a range of sports services. The plantation drive was being started in the city, he added. The minister said the Punjab government had allocated 44 acres land for the project, however on the recommendations of Pakistan Olympic Association 12 more acres were included in the project to provide international standard facilities to sportsmen. He said as many as 14 competitions of different games would be held in the stadium with the help of skilled coaches, while the city would feature world-class service. He said the Sports City would be run by an autonomous company, which would be generating funds for it in addition to bringing sponsors. There would also be a four-star hotel and sports clinics in the premises of the city. He said PTI chief Imran Khan was a ‘big sportsman’ but he had done nothing for the promotion of sports in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Squad for England tour ‘best of the best’: Sarfraz

LAHORE: A day before departing for a daunting tour to the British Isles, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed brushed aside criticism over the non-selection of Fawad Alam and emphasised that the 16-man squad selected for the tour is the “best of the best”. Pakistan has picked a fairly young Test squad, with five uncapped players: Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Imam ul Haq and Usman Salahuddin. While Alam’s exclusion caused widespread debate in Pakistan, the team continued to train in Lahore as per normal, undergoing extensive drills in preparation for the tour. “There is no pressure, but there is a will to form a squad with the best players,” Sarfraz said. “Invariably, a few will get left out, and only 16 make the squad, but there is nothing to worry. There is no problem for those who are not selected this time around, and it’s not like they will never be picked again. My hopes are very high and I am optimistic with these new boys. The best thing about them is that they are willing to perform on the big stage. “Fawad was called among the probables with an intent to consider him for the national selection. We have seen him in the nets and then considered everything before we picked the squad. It’s not like I voted him out; if it was in my hands, I would have picked all 25 players for the tour. This is Pakistan’s first visit to England for a Test series since 2016 when they drew 2-2 to become the top-ranked Test side. This will also be Sarfraz’s first away Test series as captain, and the first one in years without the retired Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. His first series as captain was in the UAE against Sri Lanka, where they slumped to a 2-0 defeat, their only Test series loss since relocating there in 2009. Sarfraz, while wary of the challenge ahead of him, was fully confident about this new side doing well in English condition. “Whenever there is an England tour, the conditions are always tough,” said Sarfaraz. “On our previous tour in 2016, we played matches in July, but this year we are starting a bit earlier, so obviously it will be difficult to some extent. But we are working hard to give these boys as much confidence as possible and prepare ourselves. We have two practice games and we have prepared well here [in Lahore]. The way our batsman and bowlers are doing their hard work to enhance their skills, I believe this is going to get us good results.” Before the England tour, Pakistan will play a one-off which happens to be Ireland’s Inaugural Test, and Sarfraz wasn’t in the mood to take them lightly. “They [Ireland] are a strong team with every player being a regular in country cricket, so I am expecting a good competitive match against them. We have a target that if we bat first, we will try to put on over 300, and then our bowling has the capability to take control of the game.” Pakistan’s preparation was dented after their leading spinner Yasir Shah was ruled out for 10 weeks. He picked up a stress fracture of his hip and is presently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. In the absence of Yasir, Pakistan’s selectors picked his closest replacement, leg-spinner Shadab Khan. However, Pakistan is likely to heavily rely on their pace battery, with Mohammad Amir and Rahat Ali leading the attack along with seamer Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali. “If Yasir was fit, he would have been an automatic selection,” said Sarfraz. “But we got four spinners in the camp and found Shadab is the best replacement. He has a good solid googly and a great stock delivery, so this is why we preferred him. But considering the condition there in England we are hearing the weather will be much cooler, and I am not even sure if we are going to play a spinner in the XI. We might go with our non-regular spinners Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq as part-time spin options.”

Dinesh Karthik questions Kings XI’s revised target

KOLKATA: Dinesh Karthik, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain, was “surprised” by the revised target thrown up for Kings XI Punjab in the rain-hit match at Eden Gardens on Saturday. Chasing 192, Kings XI were 96 for 0 in 8.2 overs when the rain arrived; roughly 90 minutes later, they needed just 29 more off 28 balls (that is, 125 in 13 overs) to seal a victory and go top of the IPL table. The new target was calculated via the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method, an upgrade on the Duckworth-Lewis system. “We needed two wickets at that stage,” Karthik said after Kings XI romped to a nine-wicket win with 11 balls remaining. “It was important to get [Chris] Gayle and KL [Rahul] early and that was something I was wishing to happen, but they played some really good shots and got away. “If it would have been a 20-over game, they’d be needing eight an over. If we’d gotten two quick wickets, the [required] run rate would have kept going up if we’d bowled well. We came back after the rain and they said they needed just a run a ball, I didn’t understand that part. I’m sure [DLS] has been something people are still trying to figure out.” Karthik is not the first player to voice displeasure after a shortened game in this tournament. Gautam Gambhir, Delhi Daredevils’ captain, had said a target of 71 in six overs was “tough” on his team following their rain-marred game against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on April 11. Then, Royals batted first and their innings was stopped after 17.5 overs by the weather; they had got to 153 for 5. After a prolonged rain break, Daredevils were presented with their target of 71 in six. “We were very much in the game,” Gambhir had said. “It was a beautiful wicket to bat on, then 150-odd for 5 in 18 overs, we thought we could contain them to 170 and it was chase-able, especially with dew coming in later on. “We were very much happy with the first innings. But then in six overs 71 was tough. We had to go from ball one. Obviously, with these sort of games, things could go either way. [But] just two overs of Powerplay, it’s very difficult. If it was a 20-over game, it would’ve been much easier to chase.” Daredevils eventually lost that game by 10 runs.

Pakistan cricket team to leave for England-Ireland tour today

The Pakistan cricket team will leave today for a tour of the United Kingdom where they will play three test matches against England and Ireland, and two T20 international matches against Scotland. Pakistan will kick off the tour with a tour match against Kent on April 28 followed by a second tour match against Northamptonshire on May 4. Pakistan will then take on Ireland who will be playing their first ever test match on May 11 before taking on England in two test matches on May 24 and June 1. This will be followed by two T20 international matches against Scotland on May 12 and 13. Prior to leaving for the tour, Pakistan’s 16 member squad took part in a training camp at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Could only pick 16 out of 25 players for England tour, says Sarfraz Speaking on the last day of the camp, captain Sarfraz Ahmed weighed in on the Fawad Alam debate which has consumed Pakistan cricket, since his exclusion from the upcoming tour of Ireland and England. “This is completely untrue that Fawad was not picked up on the bases of techniques, management issue or any other fault in him." “Fawad has not played a Test since 2009 but he was called to the camp as one of the probable players who could've been selected for the upcoming tour. Just because he was called it does not mean it was a done deal that he would be picked for the team. Since Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali performed better, hence they were picked,” he explained. Sarfraz also added that he was looking forward to their encounter against Ireland and had high hopes from his young team.

Pakistani Cricket team Hasan Ali entertains with trademark style on team visit to Wagah border

Pakistan cricket team visited the Wagah border at the conclusion of their training camp on Saturday to witness the flag-lowering ceremony conducted daily at the historic venue. Medium pacer Hasan Ali, arguably one of the most entertaining cricketers in the world, couldn’t resist showing off his famous trademark style and thrilled the guards with his explosive wicket-celebrating gesture. To loud chants of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Jeevey Jeevey Pakistan’ from the on-lookers, the 24-year old carried out his unique moves – often dubbed as the ‘generator’ celebration by his delighted fans. “Always stay high like a moon mera Pakistan. Shukariyaa Pakistan,” the cricketer tweeted following the visit. The team, according to captain Sarfraz Ahmed, made the trip in order to freshen up and get some extra boost ahead of their departure to England on Sunday. Pakistan will take on Ireland in a lone Test on May 11, before playing a two-Test series against England on May 24 and June 1. The training camp for the final 16-member squad picked for the England and Ireland tours concluded at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Saturday. —Agencies

Squad for England tour 'best of the best' - Sarfraz

A day before departing for a daunting tour to the British Isles, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed brushed aside criticism over the non-selection of Fawad Alam and emphasised that the 16-man squad selected for the tour is the "best of the best". Pakistan have picked a fairly young Test squad, with five uncapped players: Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Imam ul Haq and Usman Salahuddin. While Alam's exclusion caused widespread debate in Pakistan, the team continued to train in Lahore as per normal, undergoing extensive drills in preparation for the tour. "There is no pressure, but there is a will to form a squad with the best players," Sarfraz said. "Invariably, a few will get left out, and only 16 make the squad, but there is nothing to worry. There is no problem for those who are not selected this time around, and it's not like they will never be picked again. My hopes are very high and I am optimistic with these new boys. The best thing about them is that they are willing to perform on the big stage. "Fawad was called among the probables with an intent to consider him for the national selection. We have seen him in the nets and then considered everything before we picked the squad. It's not like I voted him out; if it was in my hands, I would have picked all 25 players for the tour. This is Pakistan's first visit to England for a Test series since 2016, when they drew 2-2 to become the top-ranked Test side. This will also be Sarfraz's first away Test series as captain, and the first one in years without the retired Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. His first series as captain was in the UAE against Sri Lanka, where they slumped to a 2-0 defeat, their only Test series loss since relocating there in 2009. Sarfraz, while wary of the challenge ahead of him, was fully confident about this new side doing well in English condition. "Whenever there is an England tour, the conditions are always tough," said Sarfaraz. "On our previous tour in 2016, we played matches in July, but this year we are starting a bit earlier, so obviously it will be difficult to some extent. But we are working hard to give these boys as much confidence as possible and prepare ourselves. We have two practice games and we have prepared well here [in Lahore]. The way our batsman and bowlers are doing their hard work to enhance their skills, I believe this is going to get us good results." Before the England tour, Pakistan will play a one-off which happens to be Ireland's Inaugural Test, and Sarfraz wasn't in the mood to take them lightly. "They [Ireland] are a strong team with every player being a regular in country cricket, so I am expecting a good competitive match against them. We have a target that if we bat first, we will try to put on over 300, and then our bowling has the capability to take control of the game." Pakistan's preparation was dented after their leading spinner Yasir Shah was ruled out for 10 weeks. He picked up a stress fracture of his hip, and is presently undergoing an extensive rehabilitation. In the absence of Yasir, Pakistan's selectors picked his closest replacement, legspinner Shadab Khan. However, Pakistan are likely to heavily relying on their pace battery, with Mohammad Amir and Rahat Ali leading the attack along with seamer Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali. "If Yasir was fit, he would have been an automatic selection," said Sarfraz. "But we got four spinners in the camp and found Shadab is the best replacement. He has a good solid googly and a great stock delivery, so this is why we preferred him. But considering the condition there in England we are hearing the weather will be much cooler, and I am not even sure if we are going to play a spinner in the XI. We might go with our non-regular spinners Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq as part-time spin options."

Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik confirm to participation for ICC World XI against Windies

Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Thisara Perera are among the first set of players to confirm their participation for the ICC World XI in a T20I against the Windies to be played at Lord’s on May 31. The match is being staged to raise funds to rebuild and restore five major cricket venues in the Caribbean that were damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the International Cricket Council said in a statement on Thursday. Afridi and Malik were part of the Pakistan squad that won the ICC World T20 2009 at Lord’s, while Perera was a member of the Sri Lanka side that lifted the silverware in Dhaka in 2014. The three World T20 winners will lend a lot of weight to the ICC World XI side which will see more names being added in what is expected to be a star-studded line-up led by England’s white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, who has already been confirmed to lead the side, the statement added. Afridi while confirming his participation said, “I am humbled to have been selected for such a noble cause. Cricket is one big family and no matter how hard and tough we play against each other, there is tremendous comradery within the group. As such, it is our moral and professional obligation to stand up and support whenever and wherever we can, to assist our members, colleagues and cricket fans.” Malik stated, “It’s a matter of great honour and pride to be selected in an ICC World XI and a wonderful opportunity to play along with and against some of the biggest names in world cricket. As much as the chance of figuring in such a select group, I also see this as an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful cause. We have all heard of the damage caused by the two hurricanes in the West Indies last year and it is really good to see so many cricketers come together for the objective of raising funds to repair the damage to cricket venues.” “That the match is being played at Lord’s makes this event extra special for me. Lord’s obviously is one of the most revered cricket venues but I also have some very delightful memories there. One that really stands out is anchoring the chase along with Shahid Afridi when we beat Sri Lanka in the final to win the ICC World Twenty20 in 2009,” he added. Perera also said it was a privilege to have made it to the World XI side for a second time. “I’m privileged to have made the World XI side for a second time after having also played in the series against Pakistan in Lahore last year. I’m looking forward to the match at Lord’s next month with great enthusiasm as this is one of those rare opportunities when you get to rub shoulders with the best in the world. To be playing alongside so many top players from different countries will definitely be a high point of my career,” Perera said.