Pakistan pulls off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium

DUBAI: ICMD, Sep 21, 2018 Shoaib Malik hit a six and a boundary to pull off a sensational last over three-wicket win for Pakistan against a spirited Afghanistan in the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Malik pulled the second ball of the final over by paceman Aftab Alam over the deep square leg boundary and then whacked the next to deep fine leg for a boundary as Pakistan pulled off a nerve-wracking win in 49.3 overs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Pakistan, cashing a stiff 258-run target, were home and dry to start the Super Four Stage with a much-needed win and now face arch-rivals India in Dubai on Sunday. Hashmatullah Shahidi missed out on a maiden hundred by a mere three runs but still steered Afghanistan to a challenging 257-6. Pakistan were off to a disastrous start when opener Fakhar Zaman was trapped leg-before off the sixth ball of the innings by spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for nought. Imam-ul-Haq scored a 104-ball 80 with five boundaries and a six while Babar Azam knocked an attractive 94-ball 66 with four boundaries and a six during their innings repairing the 154-run stand for the second wicket. But both fell within the space of four runs as spinner Rashid Khan (3-46) brought Afghanistan back in the game with the asking rate getting stiffer, as Pakistan needed 42 off the final five overs. Despite losing skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (eight), Asif Ali (seven), and Mohammad Nawaz (ten), Malik kept his cool to stop Afghanistan from posting their third straight win after beating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first round. Earlier, Shahidi hit three consecutive boundaries in the final over off Usman Shinwari but failed to get to three figures off the last delivery after Afghanistan won the toss and batted. Shahidi finished with a brilliantly-paced 118-ball 97 not out and added 94 for the fourth wicket with his skipper Asghar Afghan, who smashed five sixes and two fours in his 56-ball 67. But it was Shahidi who held one end against Pakistan's bowling in an innings which featured seven boundaries after left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (3-57) had put the brakes on Afghanistan's early progress. Shahidi had added 63 for the third wicket with Rahmat Shah who scored a measured 36. The total is an improvement by Afghanistan after scoring 249 and 255 in their previous two wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Pakistani fielders dropped four catches — three off debutant paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi who finished with 2-38. India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in Dubai and now meet Pakistan on Sunday, also in Dubai. Afghanistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on the same day. Top two teams from the Super Four Stages will play the final in Dubai on September 28.

ri Lanka out of Asia Cup after upset defeat from Afghanistan

ABU DHABI: ICMD, Sep 17, 2018 Minnows Afghanistan recorded a great upset win to knock Sri Lanka out of Asia Cup in Group B One-day International here at Sheikh Zayad Stadium on Monday. Chasing 250, Sri Lanka were all out for 158 in 52 balls to spare. They lost their second consecutive match by 91 runs.

Asia Cup: Pakistan thrash inexperienced Hong Kong by eight wickets

IC Sports Desk, Sep 16, 2018 Former champions Pakistan thrashed an inexperienced Hong Kong by eight wickets in a one-sided match to open their Asia Cup campaign in style on Sunday. Pakistan's bowling attack was too hot to handle for Hong Kong in Dubai as Usman Shinwari finished with 3-19 and Hasan Ali took 2-19, while leg-spinner Shadab Khan managed 2-31 to bowl Hong Kong out for 116 in 37.1 overs. Pakistan then completed the chase comfortably for the loss of opener Fakhar Zaman (24) and Babar Azam (33), while Imam-ul-Haq finished on 50 not out after just 23.4 overs. It proved another cakewalk for Pakistan, like their two previous victories against Hong Kong, by 173 runs in the 2004 Asia Cup in Colombo and by 155 in Karachi four years later. This was a perfect warm-up for Pakistan ahead of their high-profile showdown with arch rivals India, also in Dubai on Wednesday. Hong Kong struggled after captain Anshuman Rath won the toss and chose to bat in the Group A opener. Top-scorer Aizaz Khan (27) and Kinchit Shah (26) fought valiantly during their sixth-wicket stand of 53 runs to offer some respite after Hong Kong were left reeling at 44-5. Skipper Rath (19) and Nizakat Khan (13) were the only other two men to reach double figures. Bangladesh thumped Sri Lanka by 137 runs in the first Group B match in Dubai on Saturday. Afghanistan will take on Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super Four stage, with the top two from that table contesting the September 28 final in Dubai. Teams Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari Hong Kong: Anshuman Rath (capt), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Mohammad Nizakat, Christopher Carter, Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Scott McKehnie, Tanvir Afzal Umpires: Rod Tucker (AUS) and Ahmad Pakteen (AFG) Tv umpires: Shaun George (RSA) Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM) -- Courtesy AFP

Asia Cup: Bangladesh crush Sri Lanka, win opener by 137 Runs

IC Sports Desk, Sep 15, 2018 The young Bangladesh side crushed team Sri Lanka by 137 runs in the opening Asia Cup match against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Saturday. Sri Lanka was all out on 124 runs in 35.2 overs, in the chase of 262 runs. Bangladesh middle-order batsman Mushfiqur Rahim notched his sixth one-day hundred to lift Bangladesh to 261 in the opening Asia Cup match against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Saturday. The former captain's 150-ball 144 with 11 boundaries and four sixes -- a career-best score -- lifted Bangladesh from a precarious 1-2 in the first over after they won the toss and batted in the Group B match. Rahim added 131 for the third wicket with Mohammad Mithun (63) to lead the recovery after recalled Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga removed Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan for ducks. Malinga finished with 4-23 in his first match in 13 months. Afghanistan is the third team in the group while title holders India, Pakistan and qualifiers Hong Kong are in Group A.

Irfan breaks record by bowling most economical spell in T20 history

ICMD, Aug 27, 2018 Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan — currently playing for Barbados Tridents — bowled the most economical spell in Twenty20 history on Saturday, only conceding a run from his final ball. The giant 7ft 1in (2.16m) left-armer, playing for Barbados Tridents against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League, dismissed star man Chris Gayle with the first delivery of the innings. Irfan, who hasn't played internationally for two years, also took Evin Lewis' wicket and ended with figures of four overs, three maidens, with two wickets for one run. The 36-year-old ended up on the losing side anyway, as after he had bowled his maximum four overs, the Patriots chased down their target of 148 with seven balls to spare to win by six wickets. "I'm really happy. I would've been happier if the team won, but I am happy that I bowled one of the best spells in T20 cricket," said Irfan after the match. "I liked bowling on the lively wicket, and I get extra bounce because of my height, so yes, a satisfying performance." -- Courtesy AFP

Asian Games kick off in Jakarta

ICMD, Aug 18, 2018 The 18th edition of the Asian Games officially kicked off on Saturday as the opening ceremony of the Games took place at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a dazzling display of lights, colors and fireworks. The loudest cheers during the countries’ parade were reserved for the contingent of the host Indonesia while the united Korean contingent also drew a lot of noise. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and North Korean Deputy Prime Minister Ri Ryong-nam could be seen clutching hands in the VIP seats as they raised their arms aloft to greet the team. Following the countries march, the Indonesian pop star Via Vallen came on the stage to perform the official theme song of the Games, Meraih Bintang. The President of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah then delivered his speech, at the end of which he requested the Indonesian president to declare the Games open. "You can feel proud of your home country Indonesia," said the OCA president, before Joko Widodo made the announcement of the Games opening which triggered a volley of fireworks. About 18,000 athletes and officials from 45 Asian countries will attend the Asiad, organizers said, looking to make their mark across a range of sports from swimming to sepak takraw and bridge. The Asian Games encompass nearly the full Olympic program and are considered the pinnacle by many participating nations, for whom Olympic success often proves elusive.

Kohli tops ICC test batting rankings

ICMD, Aug 5, 2018 Virat Kohli broke new ground by topping the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test batting rankings for the first time in his career when the latest edition was published Sunday. The India captain, already at the head of the equivalent one-day international batting chart, found himself at the summit of these standings after scoring 149 — his maiden Test century in England — and 51 during the series opener at Edgbaston. Unfortunately for Kohli, his impressive match haul of exactly 200 runs could not prevent an India defeat by 31 runs on Saturday's fourth day in Birmingham, with England now 1-0 up in a five-match series. Kohli's two innings boosted his ranking rating by 31 points and helped him end Steve Smith's 32-month reign as the top-ranked batsman in Test cricket. Former Australia captain Smith is currently serving a 12-month international ban for his role in a ball-tampering scandal during a Test against South Africa at Cape Town in March, Kohli is now on top of the rankings for the first time in an impressive 67-Test career that has yielded 5,754 runs at an average of 54.28, including 22 hundreds. He now leads Smith by five points, but will have to maintain the form in the remaining four Tests to end the series as the world’s highest-ranked batsman. Kohli is the seventh Indian, and first since Sachin Tendulkar in June 2011, to hold the number-one Test batting position. Apart from Kohli and Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag and Dilip Vengsarkar are the other India batsmen to have been in the top spot during their Test careers. However, at 934 points, Kohli has become India’s highest-ranked batsman, 14th overall, on the all-time tally of points. Kohli had entered the Edgbaston Test on 903 points, 13 points behind former opening batsman Gavaskar, and is now ahead of the ICC Cricket Hall of Famer by 18 points. Meanwhile James Anderson, England's all-time leading Test wicket-taker, remained on top of an unchanged top 10 in the Test bowling rankings following his impressive display at Edgbaston which included a brilliant duel with Kohli. The rankings will next be updated following the second Test between England and India at Lord's, which begins on August 9. Leading MRF Tyres ICC Test Player Rankings (as on August 5, following Edgbaston Test)

Belgium beat Brazil 2-1, will play France in World Cup semifinal

ICMD, July 6, 2018 Belgium has beaten Brazil 2-1 to reach the semifinals of the World Cup for just the second time. The Belgians led 2-0 at halftime and withstood late pressure from the five-time champions after Renato Augusto cut the margin with a header in the 76th minute. A Fernandinho own goal and a perfectly executed finish from Kevin De Bruyne gave Belgium a 2-0 lead over Brazil at halftime in the World Cup quarterfinal match at Kazan. Belgium took the lead in the 13thminute after a Belgium corner from Nacer Chadli was met at the near post by Vincent Kompany with a flick, then diverted into the back of the net by Fernandinho's shoulder. De Bruyne doubled Belgium's lead in the 31st minute following a swift counterattack following a Brazil corner. After the corner was cleared, Romelu Lukaku went on a mazy run through Brazil's midfield before laying a pass off to his left for the oncoming De Bruyne, who struck his shot low into the corner of the Brazil net and beyond the dive of goalkeeper Alisson. Brazil had chances to get back into the game, notably in the 37th minute when a curling shot from outside the area from Philippe Coutinho was palmed away by Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. Brazil substitute Renato Augusto pulled one back for the five-time champions, reducing Belgium's lead to 2-1. Augusto, who went on three minutes earlier as a replacement for Paulinho, connected with a cross from Philippe Coutinho and headed the ball into the net to beat 'keeper Thibaut Courtois in the 76th minute. Belgium, which last reached the semifinals in 1986, will next face 1998 champion France in St. Petersburg. It will be the first time since 2006 that four European teams will feature in the World Cup semifinals. The two other spots will be decided in Sunday's quarterfinals which feature Russia vs. Croatia and England vs. Sweden. -- Courtesy AP

Efforts to make PSL final a memorable event

ICMD, Feb 9, 2018 Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Friday that he had fulfilled his promise with the residents of Karachi by making arrangements for the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be played in the city. “All government agencies concerned and the public must now work together to make the event memorable and historic.” He expressed these views while presiding over a meeting to review arrangements for the forthcoming PSL final match in Karachi. The meeting was attended by provincial ministers for Home, Health, Local Government, and Sports departments besides the Chief Secretary, the Rangers director general, the Police inspector general, the Principal Secretary to the CM, the Karachi commissioner, secretaries for Health, Home, LG and Sports departments, and representatives of intelligence agencies. During the briefing, he was told that the stadium had the capacity to accommodate 40,000 spectators. Giving guidelines to the officials, the CM said that there should be close coordination between all stakeholders. “Integrated efforts should be made by all security agencies to enable the teams to play the match in a safe and secure environment.” “I have already issued directives for provision of civic facilities,” he said, emphasising the need to ensure that arrangements for the event would not become a cause of inconvenience to the public. IG AD Khowaja told the chief minister that he had sent a team to Lahore to be briefed on security arrangements put in place by the provincial government of Punjab for recent international cricket matches played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in October 2017. Security arrangements on the same model would be made for the PSL final, he said. Later, the chief minister constituted different committees and divided various tasks among them. An executive committee headed by the chief secretary would monitor the operations of all other committees to ensure that there were no glitches in arrangements. Separate committees were be formed for the intelligence/security and civic related issues. The security committee included officials from the Police Department, Rangers, Army and intelligence agencies. They would share their intelligence reports among themselves on a daily basis. The CM said civic agencies under the Local Government Department and the Karachi mayor would make arrangements for provision of lighting, drinking water, parking, sanitation and first aid in and around the stadium. The meeting decided that there would be aerial surveillance of the match venue using helicopters to be arranged by the Karachi corps commander. Commandoes would be deployed around the stadium and police teams would take control of security inside the stadium. The chief minister directed the health secretary to take Aga Khan Hospital and Liaquat National Hospital on board for provision of special health services if needed. The IGP was directed to prepare a traffic plan and identify and declare alternate routes for the convenience of commuters. It was decided that the law enforcement agencies would undertake a full dress rehearsal on February 11. “We have to facilitate each and every person who wants to watch the match in the stadium,” the CM said. The chief minister decided to convene a follow up meeting onFebruary 14 to review security arrangements. -- DT

Sri Lanka Cricket confirm Pakistan tour

Sri Lanka’s cricket authority confirmed on Monday that it will go ahead with its tour of Pakistan later this month for the third and final T20I match despite security concerns expressed by several players. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said its executive committee agreed unanimously that the October 29 match in Lahore should go ahead as scheduled following reassurances of the best possible security. The board said it “confirmed its commitment to play the third T20” in Lahore following assessments made by both Sri Lankan and Pakistan government authorities, independent security experts and the International Cricket Council. “Accordingly, the selection committee of the SLC will finalise a squad of 22 by Tuesday and announce the final 15 on Friday,” said the SLC in a statement. SLC chief Thilanga Sumathipala will accompany the team to Lahore, the statement added. The October 29 match will be the first played in Pakistan by Sri Lanka — or any other top international team — since militants ambushed its team bus en route to the Lahore stadium in 2009, wounding at least seven players. Doubts over whether the match would take place were raised over the weekend when some players expressed concerns for their safety and the board said it would review security reports, making a final determination on Monday. Lahore will host the T20I series finale following several matches played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where Pakistan have played their “home” internationals since the ambush. Since 2009, the only international team to visit Pakistan is Zimbabwe, who played five limited-overs games in Lahore in 2015. But after Pakistan successfully staged the final of its domestic Pakistan Super League tournament in Lahore under heavy security this March, the country hoped international games could once again resume. A successful series against a World XI team featuring top foreign players in Lahore last month further boosted calls for cricket to return to the militancy-racked nation. Sri Lanka Cricket chief Sumathipala in August appealed for an end to Pakistan’s isolation — a statement welcomed by Pakistani cricket officials and urged countries to come to play. He recalled that several Test nations did not want to visit Sri Lanka at the height of the Tamil separatist conflict, when bombs were exploding in the capital in the mid-1990s, but Pakistan and India had toured Sri Lanka at the time. – COLOMBO, AFP