Olympic flame set for London arrival

LONDON: The Olympic flame will make a dramatic arrival in London on Friday to tour the capital before it plays a starring role in the opening ceremony in one week's time.

A Royal Marine commando will abseil from a helicopter with the torch, which will spend the night safely housed in the Tower of London, where the Queen Elizabeth II keeps her ceremonial jewels.

The 8,000-mile (12,800-kilometre) relay culminates in the capital after snaking around Britain and visiting the Republic of Ireland.

Its arrival will add to the anticipation building ahead of the Games.

Snatched press photographs show that preparations for the opening ceremony next Friday are at an advanced stage, with the show orchestrated by "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle featuring an idyllic English village.

Much of the £27 million ($42 million, 34 million euro) ceremony remains under wraps.

As the preparations for the Games intensify, the competitors are limbering up.

The US basketball 'Dream Team' spearheaded by superstars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James underlined their status as gold-plated favourites as they ran out easy winners against the Great Britain team, winning a warm-up game 118-78 in Manchester.

The Dream Team's form contrasted with the bad news for tennis star Rafael Nadal, who has been forced to pull out of the Games because he is not in the shape to compete after struggling with tendinitis in his knees.

The man expected to be the star of the London Games, the world's fastest man Usain Bolt, is also struggling with fitness.

The reigning Olympic 100 metres and 200 metres champion has been given a new orthopaedic bed at the Jamaica team's training base in Birmingham, central England, to ensure a long-standing back problem does not flare up.

Bolt will not compete at a top meeting in Monaco on Friday after complaining of tightness in his hamstring in the aftermath of his defeat by compatriot Yohan Blake at the Jamaican Olympic trials last month.

Preparations for the Games have been dogged by concerns over security after a firm supplying private guards for venues said it could not supply all of the 10,000 it had promised.

But London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe insisted security would not be compromised, as the government had drafted in 3,500 extra troops to cover the shortfall by security giant G4S, with another 2,000 on standby.

"This is not an issue that has remotely compromised security. This was actually about the supply and the mix, it's never been about the numbers," Coe said.

Coe however got into a testy exchange with an interviewer about criticisms of the organisers' approach to protecting sponsors' rights.

Asked by a BBC radio presenter if he would be able to wear a Pepsi T-shirt to the Olympics, Coe replied "No, you probably wouldn't be walking in with a Pepsi T-shirt because Coca-Cola are our sponsors and they have put millions of pounds into this project but also millions of pounds into grassroots sport.

"It is important to protect those sponsors."

Asked whether he could wear Nike trainers, since Adidas are a sponsor, Coe added: "Let's put some reality in this. You probably would be able to walk through with Nike trainers. Does that satisfy you?"

During a tour of security at the Olympic Park in east London, interior minister Theresa May also said security had not been compromised.

"What I've seen here is a very organised control room, people absolutely focused on their role of providing the safety and security for the Olympic Games," she said.

Tennis: Federer stuns Djokovic, makes eighth Wimbledon final

In the pair's 27th meeting but first on grass, Federer booked his place in his 24th Grand Slam final where he will face either Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Victory on Sunday will take the 30-year-old level with Pete Sampras's

record of seven Wimbledon wins, allow him to reclaim the world number one ranking and clinch a 17th career Grand Slam crown.

Djokovic, who was bidding to reach a fifth successive Grand Slam final, had defeated Federer six times in their last seven meetings.

But Federer, playing in a record 23rd successive major semi-final, was not to be denied as he buried the heartache of having been knocked out in the quarterfinals in the last two years.

He also took his record of semi-final victories to eight out of eight at

the All England Club.

With Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar and pop singer Kylie Minogue watching from the Royal Box, Federer provided the early entertainment by easing to the first set in just 24 minutes.

The Swiss earned the break point he needed in the sixth game when Djokovic, who fell on the surface made slippy by the closed roof above, could only net a running backhand.

A shout from the crowd then caused Djokovic to check his service motion and Federer pounced with a low return, which the Serb could only dump, into the net.

Federer served up two successive aces in the ninth game to lay the

foundation for wrapping up the opening set.

Djokovic, who came back from two sets to love down to beat Federer in the semi-finals of the US Open last year, hit back in the second set, breaking with a razor-sharp backhand down the line for a 2-0 lead.

The match was level when the champion fired his fifth ace of the contest to take the second set.

A Djokovic double fault then gave Federer break point in the sixth game of the third, which the Serb saved after a brutal, 23-shot rally.

Another fierce exchange, this time 26 shots, gave Federer a second break point but Djokovic's iron defence kept him level at 3-3.

However, Federer carved out two set points in the 10th game when Djokovic missed an easy overhead.

The champion saved the first but Federer converted the second with a

leaping smash into an open court.

Federer was suddenly and comfortably on top, capitalising on a loose Djokovic service game to break for a 2-0 lead in the fourth set.

Djokovic was under siege and fought off three break points to hang on at 4-2 down.

But Federer claimed victory in the ninth game on his first match point when Djokovic netted a service return. (AFP)

Pakistan lose fifth ODI and series against Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: Angelo Mathews hammered a brisk 80 not out as Sri Lanka posted a thrilling two-wicket victory over Pakistan in the fifth and final one-day international in Colombo on Monday to clinch the series 3-1.

Mathews smashed two sixes and four boundaries in his 76-ball knock to help his team achieve a 248-run target with two balls to spare in the day-night match.

Sri Lanka needed 15 runs to win in the last over bowled by paceman Mohammad Sami before Mathews completed the win with a four.

Dinesh Chandimal was the other main scorer for Sri Lanka with 54.

Paceman Sohail Tanvir bagged three wickets and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi two to reduce Sri Lanka to 138-6 before Mathews received valuable support from Jeevan Mendis (19) and Nuwan Kulasekara (10 not out) to steer his team home.

Afridi removed well-set Kumar Sangakkara (40) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene off successive balls to put pressure on Sri Lanka.

Sangakkara, who was dropped on 25 by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed off Sami, failed to capitalise on the chance as he could add 15 more runs.

Ahmed made amends when he smartly stumped Sangakkara off Afridi, who then held a return catch off his next ball to dismiss Jayawardene.

Tanvir jolted Sri Lanka when he removed openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga, but Sangakkara and Chandimal put on 78 for the third wicket.

Pakistan's opener Imran Farhat, playing his first one-dayer in four months, earlier cracked an impressive 56 and Umar Akmal an unbeaten 55.

Pakistan batted steadily after losing out-of-form opener Mohammad Hafeez (six), with Azhar Ali (30) and Farhat adding 60 for the second wicket and then Akmal putting on 61 for the fifth wicket with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (32).

Akmal smashed two sixes and five fours in a 61-ball knock for his 15th half-century in one-dayers.

Hafeez, who was bowled by paceman Kulasekara, scored just 20 runs in his last four one-dayers.

Farhat dominated the Sri Lankan attack in the initial overs, twice hitting Kulasekara for three fours in an over.

He fell pulling seamer Thisara Perera to deep mid-wicket where he was caught by Chandimal after smashing nine fours in his 12th half-century in one-day internationals.

Leg-spinner Mendis, playing his first match of the series, was the most impressive bowler with 2-30 while Kulasekara finished with 2-53.

Sri Lanka made one change from the team which won the last match by 44 runs on Saturday, replacing Sajeewa Weerakoon with Mendis.

Pakistan brought in Farhat and Sami in place of Younis Khan and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will now play a three-Test series, starting in Galle on Friday.

Aleem Dar—Asia’s No 1 umpire to supervise most matches

NOTTINGHAM: Pakistan’s outstanding umpire Aleem Dar has now achieved another landmark for him and his country as he became the Asia’s No 1 umpire to supervise most matches.

Aleem Dar achieved this landmark after standing in 74th match of his International career between England and West Indies on Friday (today).

Aleem Dar has broken the record of Indian umpire Venkat Raghav who served in 73 matches in his career.

Talking to media, Aleem Dar said that he was able to achieve this record because of the support from his family and friends.

“Umpiring is my passion and I would continue to do it,” he said.

Aleem Dar has now also become the world’s no sixth umpire to supervise most matches.

Zimbabwean Brown joins Kenya coaching staff

The programme which is aimed at strengthening the structure of the sport, was initiated last year by the outgoing Cricket Kenya chief executive Tom Sears after Kenya's dismal performance in the 2011 World Cup.

Sears, who is set to leave his post at the end of June said the appointment of Brown as head of elite development will be a huge benefit in many areas.

"Robin is a vastly experienced coach who has played and coached at the highest level and is highly respected in the game," said Sears.

"His primary role will be to ensure we are identifying the best players in our system from junior level right through to our Emerging Players squad and ensuring they receive all the coaching and support they need to fulfil their potential."

Brown played seven one-dayers for Zimbabwe between 1983 and 1987 and was appointed coach to replace compatriot Kevin Curran in 2007. He left the post after only one year. (AFP)

Strauss confident about his future as captain

COLOMBO: Andrew Strauss heads home from Asia confident his future as captain is secure after England ended a miserable run in Tests by beating Sri Lanka to draw the series and retain their number-one ranking.

The tourists eased to an eight-wicket win in the second and final Test at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo on Saturday to make amends for the 75-run loss in the first Test in Galle, which was their fourth straight Test defeat this year.

England's losses, including an embarrassing 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, had left them teetering on the brink of losing their top ranking.

The one blemish in the hard-fought series against Sri Lanka was Strauss's own batting form. He made just 114 runs in four innings at an average of 28.50.

The left-hander appeared to have found his rhythm when he hit 61 in the first innings of the second Test, but he fell for a duck in the first over of the second innings as England chased a modest target of 94.

Strauss has not added to his 19 Test centuries in 25 innings and has just one three-figure knock in his past 50 innings, raising questions about his future in the side.

But the skipper said he had never doubted himself or his leadership role.

"I never had any doubts about whether this was the time for me to go," the 35-year-old veteran of 94 Tests said, adding he was focused on his side performing well.

"I am very determined and committed to seeing us improve as a side. It's been an interesting week or two, but we as a side should not get carried away with whatever the issue of the day is.

"We have done that very well over the last couple of years, and obviously I needed to do it in this Test. We needed to do it as a team and I thought we did it well."

Strauss admitted England had been under pressure after their four consecutive defeats but was delighted the hard work had eventually paid off.

"We had to make sure we learnt the lessons from our defeats over the last four Test matches," he said.

"I saw a steely determination on everyone's part to make sure we finished the winter on a high and it was fantastic to be able to do that."

Off-spinner Graeme Swann's match haul of 10 wickets left England chasing just 94 to win, which they achieved easily despite slipping to 31-2 after the dismissals of Strauss and Jonathan Trott.

Alastair Cook remained unbeaten on 49 and Kevin Pietersen, who hit a century in the first innings, smashed 42 not out off just 28 balls, bringing up the win with a six off Tillakaratne Dilshan.

"They are horrible chases because everyone expects you to win," said Strauss. "It's almost like trying to sink a three-foot putt. You know it should go in but it doesn't always."

The number one ranking will remain on the line as England return to the comfort of home conditions for Tests against the West Indies and number-two ranked South Africa. (AFP)

Asia Cup: ACC rejects BCB's final over plea

ACC Chief Executive Ashraf-ul Haq told that the field umpires didn't report about the incident and as per laws their note of concern was necessary. 'The chapter is now closed for the ACC.'

The council has also informed both the boards about the decision, the CE said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday expressed disappointment with Bangladesh for considering appealing an incident in the last over of the Asia Cup final which they believe cost them the match.

Bangladesh Saturday said it would appeal to the ACC to review the last over, accusing Pakistani paceman Aizaz Cheema of deliberately blocking batsman Mahmudullah Riyad from taking a second run.

Pakistan beat Bangladesh in a thrilling final on Thursday by two runs to lift the four-nation Asia Cup.

PCB director Intikhab Alam called Bangladesh's stance "disappointing".

It's really sad and disappointing to hear the statement from the BCB official," Alam said.

"It was a thrilling final and everyone praised Bangladesh for their fight and their decision to appeal is just an after thought after the result.

"The fact of the matter is that no match umpire of referee complained about this to Pakistan management and Bangladesh's complain will spoil a wonderful final which everyone enjoyed," said Alam.

BCB said it would seek five penalty runs for deliberate obstruction and a reversal of the result in their favour.

"We have seen video footage of the incident repeatedly. It is clear that Cheema blocked Riyad deliberately," Enayet Hossain Siraj, chairman of the BCB operations committee, told reporters.

"We will lodge a written appeal to the ACC very soon and will also give a copy to the International Cricket Council."

Bangladesh is currently considering an invitation to tour Pakistan for a limited over series next month.

They sent a delegation to assess security arrangements in Pakistan for the tour but said a final decision will only be made by the country's government.

Should Bangladesh go they will be the first Test playing nation to tour Pakistan since terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore three years ago.

The attacks, which left eight people dead and seven visiting players and an assistant coach wounded, suspended all international cricket in Pakistan as teams refused to tour the troubled country because of security fears.

Cricket: Pak team for Asia Cup, Misbah retained as captain

LAHORE: Pakistan’s 15-man squad was announced on Saturday for the Asia Cup to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh later this month.

The four-nation event will include defending champions India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan and will run from March 11-22.

Misbah-ul-Haq was retained as captain while Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Adnan
Akmal were dropped from the squad for the tournament.

Pakistan's defeats in the One-Day International and Twenty20 series to England prompted calls for a change in team management and captaincy, but the PCB opted to retain Misbah for the Asia Cup.

Chief selector Iqbal Qasim said opener Nasir Jamshed and wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed had been recalled for the tournament.

"We feel that since Nasir has done well in domestic cricket and in the recent Bangladesh Premier League he deserves a chance to play for the national team," Qasim said.

The PCB is also expected to announce the appointment of Australian Dav Whatmore as head coach later on Saturday. Mohsin Khan has been acting as interim coach for the England series.

Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Hammad Azam, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Aizaz Cheema.

England leapfrogs Pakistan in ICC ODI rankings

DUBAI: England took a sweet revenge of its 3-0 defeat in the Test series by outplaying Pakistan by 4-0 in the four-match ODI series which ended in Dubai on Tuesday. While doing so, England has moved ahead of Pakistan in fifth place on the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table.

Alastair Cook's side wrapped up the ODI series by beating Misbah-ul-Haq's men by five wickets in the last ODI in Dubai after having won the earlier matches by 130 runs, 20 runs (both in Abu Dhabi) and nine wickets (in the third in Dubai).

For this superb achievement, England has earned five ratings points which has put it on 111 ratings points while Pakistan has dropped to 104 ratings points after conceding five ratings points.

It is also the first time since 1987-88 when England has won all the matches of an ODI series against Pakistan.

Nearly 25 years ago in Pakistan, Mike Gatting's side had defeated Abdul Qadir's men 3-0 in a three-match series. England, in the series which was played immediately after the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987, won matches in Lahore (by two wickets), Karachi (by 23 runs) and Peshawar (by 98 runs).

England, after blanking out Pakistan, now has fourth-ranked Sri Lanka firmly within its sights. Sri Lanka is two ratings points ahead of England with a minimum of three matches remaining in the three-nation tournament Down Under where the other participating sides are host Australia and India.

Sri Lanka, also on Tuesday, moved to 113 ratings points after defeating India by 51 runs in Brisbane while India slipped to join South Africa on 116 ratings points. However, India is still ranked above South Africa in second place when the ratings are calculated beyond the decimal point.

Australia, which has three wins from five matches in the three-nation tournament, had entered the series in number-one position on 130 ratings points and now sits on 129 ratings points but still enjoys a commanding lead over India and South Africa.

Michael Clarke's side is now clear favourite to finish at the top of the tree on the 1 April cut-off date. And if it achieves this, then it will receive a cheque of US$175,000 which is presented annually to the side which tops the Reliance ICC ODI Championship table at the cut-off date.

It will be the third successive year that Australia will finish as the number-one ranked ODI side at the cut-off date. It also won top honours from 2002 to 2007 before its winning streak was halted by South Africa which topped the table in 2008 and 2009.

The battle for the number-two position, however, remains tight as only three ratings points separate second-ranked India and third placed South Africa from fourth-ranked Sri Lanka. The side which finishes second on the 1 April cut-off date receives US$75,000.

Besides the series in Australia and New Zealand (between New Zealand and South Africa), the other series which will finish before the cut-off date is the Asia Cup in Dhaka in March which will feature Sri Lanka and India, besides Pakistan and host Bangladesh.

South Africa, which is in contention to finish as the number-one ranked Test side at the cut-off date if it defeats New Zealand in all the three Tests in March, has an opportunity to strengthen its chances to finish as the number-two ranked side on the ODI table at the cut-off date when it goes head to head with New Zealand in a three-match series which starts on Saturday in Wellington.

If the Proteas win all the three ODIs, they will rise to 118 ratings points but if the series result is reversed, then South Africa will plunge to 109 ratings points while New Zealand will rise to 95 ratings points after earning seven ratings points.

A 2-1 series win will mean South Africa will slip to 115 ratings points while New Zealand will move to 89 ratings points.

Cricket: Pakistan go down fighting against England

ABU DHABI: Alastair Cook hit a second successive hundred to guide England to a 20-run win over Pakistan in the second day-night international on Wednesday, giving his team a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

England put up a challenging 250-4 powered by Cook's 102 before they bowled well to restrict Pakistan to 230 in 49 overs at Abu Dhabi Stadium.

Misbah-ul Haq failed to match his counterpart during his 59-ball 47 as Pakistan lost track after being well set at 179-4, needing 72 in the last 11.1 overs.

Steven Finn, who took four wickets in the first match, finished with the identical figures of 4-34 to anchor England's win.

Pakistan got off to a good start with Mohammad Hafeez (26) and Imran Farhat (47) notching 61 by the 16th over before Hafeez was caught at mid-wicket off James Anderson.

Farhat, who hit five boundaries, added 31 for the second wicket with Azhar Ali (31) before Samit Patel took two wickets in the space of 12 runs, removing Ali and Younis Khan (five).

Farhat fell to a silly run out, leaving Misbah and Umar Akmal (21) to add 37 for the fifth wicket before Patel took a smart diving catch at cover to send Umar back with 72 still needed off 11.1 overs.

Shahid Afridi briefly threatened England with a run-a-ball 18 but his wicket and Craig Kieswetter's sky-high catch to dismiss Misbah settled the issue for England.

Cook said he was confident that 250 was a winning total.

"It was a slightly different pitch from Monday on which a 250-total was good enough and we bowled well upront. Finn was again outstanding," said Cook, who won a second successive man-of-the-match award.

Misbah said fielding made the difference.

"I think the batsmen showed improvement, but the fielding was the main difference. We lost wickets in cluster," said Misbah, whose team lost their last five wickets for 23 runs.

Earlier Cook scored his fourth hundred -- the first England captain and ninth batsmen for his country to hit back-to-back hundreds in one-dayers -- to carry on the good work after his career-best 137 in Monday's win in the series opener.

The 27-year-old left-hander put on 67 for the opening wicket with Kevin Pietersen (26) after England won their second successive toss and batted.

He also added 49 with Jonathan Trott (23) for the second and 78 for the third with Ravi Bopara who made an attractive 58.

Cook was again at his fluent best, hitting 10 boundaries off 121 balls before he gave a return catch to leg-spinner Shahid Afridi in the 42nd over.

He hit paceman Umar Gul for two boundaries to reach 99 and then took a single off Abdul Rehman to reach the three-figure mark as he carried the batting right from the off.

England, who remained unchanged from the first match, also owed their progress to a dropped catch by part-time wicket-keeper Umar Akmal who let Cook off on 28 off Afridi, a costly laspe for Pakistan.

Ajmal, who finished with 1-54, again provided the breakthrough when he trapped Pietersen leg-before in the 16th over.

Paceman Cheema had Trott caught behind before Cook and Bopara followed their 131-run stand in the first match with another solid partnership.

Bopara, who hit four boundaries during his 66-ball knock, gave the finishing touch to the innings with a 56-run stand for the fourth wicket with Eoin Morgan whose 25 not out had one six.

The third and fourth matches will be played in Dubai on Saturday and Tuesday. (AFP)

Pakistan to launch more spin at England

ABU DHABI: Pakistan will once more depend on spin to maintain their dominance over England when the teams meet in a four-match one-day series starting here from Monday.

Misbah-ul Haq's men blanked England 3-0 in the Tests series with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal finishing with 24 wickets, left-armer Abdul Rehman taking 19 and allrounder Mohammad Hafeez five in a spin-dominated series.

Pakistan's spin repertoire will further be boosted by allrounder Shahid Afridi whose 5-36 helped Pakistan beat Afghanistan in a first-ever one-day between the two countries in Sharjah on Friday.

Even spinning allrounder Shoaib Malik, controversially included in the squad despite failures in the last six one-day matches, will pose problems for England who were routed 5-0 in India last year.

Pakistan captain Misbah acknowledged Afridi's heroics as leg-spinner.

Misbah, however, seeks improvement in his batting, especially in the top order. (AFP)

Pakistan win toss, bat against England in final

DUBAI: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and elected to bat against England in the third and final Test being played here at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Pakistan made one change, bringing back pace bowler Aizaz Cheema in place of Junaid Khan.

England remained unchanged from the Abu Dhabi Test, keeping faith with their batsmen despite their struggles against Pakistan's spinners in the first two Test matches.

Pakistan, leading the three-match series 2-0 following their ten-wicket win in the first Test in Dubai and 72 run victory in the second Test in Abu Dhabi, hope for making a clean sweep against England by winning the final Test.

Pakistan: Misbah-ul Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Taufiq Umar, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Umar Gul, Aizaz Cheema, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman

England: Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Monty Panesar

Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Steve Davis (Australia), TV umpire: Shahvir Tarapore (India)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (India)

Argentine Hockey team may visit Pakistan in March

ISLAMABAD: Ambassador of Argentine to Pakistan Rodolfo J. Martin Saravia on Thursday said that his country's hockey team will visit Pakistan in March 2012.

He expressed these views while talking to APP here after the final match of Pakistan Premier Soccer League, held at Jinnah Stadium here at Pakistan Sports Complex.

Expressing confidence over the security arrangements in Pakistan the Ambassador said, "I move freely in Pakistan and see no security threat, adding that his discussion with Pakistani officials (which he didn't disclosed) regarding visit of Argentinean Hockey
team were fruitful.

The Ambassador further stated that Pakistani peoples are very talented and, " we are ready to provide training and coaching facilities to Pakistani players in football".

Rodolfo J added that Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) organized the Premier Soccer League Championship successfully and congratulated PFF chief, Fasial Saleh Hayat, saying that the PFF has performed an excellent job for the promotion of football in the country.

"The media should perform responsibilities through motivating people and bringing them to the fields of sports," he concluded.(APP)

Pakistan crush Bangladesh by innings & 184 runs

CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh: Pakistan thrashed Bangladesh by an innings and 184 runs on the penultimate day of the opening Test here at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Monday to gain a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

Bangladesh, trailing by 459 runs, resumed their second innings at 134-4 and were bowled out for 275 after lunch to suffer their 62nd defeat in 72 Tests.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman grabbed four wickets for 88 runs as he, off-spinner Saeed Ajmal and paceman Aizaz Cheema shared five wickets that fell on the fourth-day.

Fast bowler Rubel Hossain did not bat due a shoulder injury, suffered while fielding on Sunday.

Debutant Mohammed Nazimuddin (78), Shakib Al Hasan (51) and skipper
Mushfiqur Rahim (49) were the main run-getters for Bangladesh.

Cheema ended the innings when he had Shahadat Hossain (21) caught by Umar Gul in the covers in his first over with the second new ball.

Rehman dismissed well-set Nazimuddin and former captain Shakib in the morning session before accounting for Rahim to finish the match with seven wickets after having taken three in the first innings.

Ajmal was the other wicket-taker in the morning when he bowled Mohammad Mahmudullah for no score.

Nazimuddin was involved in two stands, adding 78 runs for the fifth wicket with Shakib and 47 for the next with Rahim before being caught by Ajmal at mid-off.

Opener Nazimuddin, 41 overnight, hit two sixes and nine fours in his 186-ball knock.
He was the second-highest scorer in the first innings with 31.

He defied the Pakistani attack for more than an hour and completed his half-century when he turned Rehman to deep mid-wicket for three runs.

He then played a couple of big shots, lofting Rehman over extra cover and then Ajmal over mid-wicket for sixes. He gave two chances off Ajmal after completing his half-century but wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal missed both.

Bangladesh had added only 24 runs to their overnight total when Shakib was trapped leg-before by Rehman after hitting eight fours in his ninth Test half-century.

Pakistan had on Sunday posted a mammoth 594-5 declared in their first innings in reply to Bangladesh's 135, with Younis Khan (200 not out), Mohammad Hafeez (143) and Asad Shafiq (104) being the main scorers.

The second and final Test starts in Dhaka on Saturday.(AFP)

PCB announces Pakistan squad for Bangladesh tour

LAHORE: Pakistan's 15-member cricket squad for Bangladesh tour starting later this week was announced here on Monday

Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) chief selector Muhammad Ilyas who announced the squad at Qaddafi Stadium, said selectors have made no change for the tour now playing against Sri Lanka in the UAE and same team will play against Bangladesh in Tests, ODI’s and a T20.

The team for tour comprises Misbahul Haq (captain), Younis Khan, Imran Farhat, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Taufeeq Umer, Shoaib Malik, Umer Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Aizaz Cheema, Talha, Umer Akmal & Asad Shafiq. The squad would leave for Dhaka via Dubai on November 26.

Ashraf vows to lure world's best back to Pakistan

DUBAI: Pakistan's new cricket chief Zaka Ashraf Monday vowed to bring international cricket back to the country, suggesting the game's governing body could form a board to assess security before teams' tours.

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in March 2009, which left eight people dead and seven visiting players and their assistant coach injured.

Those incidents, coupled with continued security fears in Pakistan, have led to refusals by international teams to tour the troubled country, where the national army is fighting militancy and a resurgency by the Taliban.

Ashraf, who replaced Ijaz Butt as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman last month, said his first task is to bring international cricket back to the country.

"We are doing our level best to bring international cricket back to Pakistan," Ashraf, who met International Cricket Council (ICC) officials, told AFP. "I have suggested the ICC should form a board to assess security in Pakistan."

After the terrorist attacks of 2009, the ICC was forced to strip Pakistan of its share of matches in the 2011 World Cup.

Sri Lanka also turned down an invitation to tour Pakistan after a military base was attacked in Karachi in May this year, forcing them to play the series in the United Arab Emirates.

Ashraf, regarded as a close friend of Pakistan president Asif Zardari, said he can take help from the government on implementing security for international teams.

"Once the ICC forms a security board we can also take help from the government and implement the best arrangements for international teams," said Ashraf.

Ashraf said Pakistani fans are deprived of international cricket.

"What happened in Pakistan was disappointing and that left millions of fans in our country deprived of international cricket and we now seek help from the cricket world to restore activity so that our fans get to see that," said Ashraf.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who met Ashraf on Monday, said the ICC was doing its best to revive cricket in Pakistan.

"It was something that could not get much time (for consideration) due to the spot-fixing issue, but now in order to have some teams playing in Pakistan the security situation has to be considered," said Lorgat.

Ashraf said he has also written to Indian cricket chiefs to revive what he termed the "mother of all cricket" series.

"I have written to Narayan Srinivasan (President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India) to revive the series between the two countries because it's a game and should be kept away from politics," said Ashraf.

It is a move backed by Lorgat.

"India-Pakistan is a seriously important fixture. It is also something which Ashraf has uppermost in his mind and we will support that. We can make a request to India, it is up to India to decide where they want to play."

Ashraf said he has also met Bangladesh Cricket Board officials to break the ice.

"I have also met Bangladesh officials and in order to break the ice. I have invited them to tour Pakistan and I hope they reply in a positive way." (AFP)

Players' chief says jail sends message

SYDNEY: The jailing of three Pakistani cricketers over a fixing scandal sends a clear message to all sportsmen that cheating will not be tolerated, players' union chief Tim May said Friday.

A British judge on Thursday jailed former captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer for their part in a fixing scandal which has rocked the game to its core.

Their corrupt British agent Mazhar Majeed was also locked up.

May, head of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), which co-ordinates the activities of national players' associations, said it should be a wake up call to anyone contemplating cheating.

"The real possibility of spending time in prison is a further compelling argument for players to distance themselves from those who seek to profit illegally from the game," the Australian said in a statement.

He said he had mixed emotions about the verdict in London's Southwark Crown Court, saying he was concerned that spot fixing still appeared to be prevalent despite cricket authorities spending millions of dollars to stamp it out.

But he said he felt "satisfaction that the prosecution has been able to identify corruption and deliver a loud and clear message to players of all sports that if you are caught cheating the integrity of sport you will be prosecuted and face severe penalties".

May called on the International Cricket Council and its member boards, as well as players and player associations, to take responsibility for weeding out corruption.

"We all need to review our roles in providing proper and regular education to cricketers, umpires and administrators at all levels of the game," he said.

"We need to ensure that cricket's Anti Corruption Unit functions effectively and has access to the respective tools and information that can identify those who seek to harm our game."

The ICC is currently reviewing the role and functioning of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit.

Butt received a 30-month sentence while Asif was jailed for a year on charges relating to the August 2010 Lord's Test match against England. Aamer was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institution. (AFP)

Mazhar Majeed not to appeal against sentence

LONDON: The protagonist of the spot fixing case Mazhar Majeed has decided not to appeal against the sentence, He has been jailed for 32 months for conducting a fixing conspiracy on Thursday.

According to sources, Mazhar Majeed, who was the agent of former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir, has decided not to appeal against his penalty.

He had accepted the charges before the cricket corruption case was heard in the court.

Afridi should guide young players and captain: Wasim Akram

ISLAMABAD: Former cricket captain, Wasim Akram said the spot-fixing scandal scared Pakistan cricket, Geo News reported. Akram added that it was time to forget the past and concentrate on the future.

Speaking to the media Akram said Shahid Afridi could play cricket for another three years and he should guide young players and the captain.

Akram said he would help the Pakistani side without being made coach and in his opinion the side should have tried to win the Abu Dhabi test.

Sangakkara, Prasanna help Sri Lanka take lead

ABU DHABI: Kumar Sangakkara was 15 short of his eighth double hundred as the former Sri Lankan captain in company of Prasanna Jayawardene frustrated Pakistan in the first Test here on Saturday.

The left-handed Sangakkara was unbeaten on 185 and together with Prasanna (66 not out) thwarted Pakistan's victory bids on the fifth and final day as Sri Lanka reached 364-5 by lunch at Abu Dhabi stadium.

Sri Lanka, who conceded a 314-run lead in the first innings, now have a 50-run lead with five wickets in hand. The Sangakkara-Prasanna stand for the sixth wicket has so far yielded 131 runs.

Resuming at 298-5 Sri Lanka survived the two-hour session unscathed as the overnight pair of Sangakkara and Prasanna kept the Pakistan's three-pronged pace attack at bay despite a hostile spell by Umar Gul.

Prasanna, dropped by substitute Wahab Riaz off Gul on 11 -- one of six catches Pakistani fielders dropped on Friday -- hit Aizaz Cheema and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal for consecutive boundaries to help Sri Lanka erase the deficit.

With the second boundary he also brought up his fourth Test fifty, coming off 113 balls.

Sangakkara, whose wicket is crucial for both Pakistan and Sri Lanka then came into his own hitting Ajmal for an exquisite cover drive to the ropes. He has so far hit 17 boundaries during his 370-ball knock.

Pakistan used all five bowlers but were left to rue the missed chances of Friday which could spoil their chances of taking lead in the three-Test series.

The second Test starts in Dubai from October 26, while the third will be played in Sharjah from November 3.

Misbah vows to win Sri Lanka series

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team captain Misbah-ul-Haq said that the national team would go all out to win series against Sri Lanka.

However, the opponents cannot be taken easy despite in the absence of Muralitharan, said the captain.

Talking with media here at the Qadhafi Stadium, Misbah said that cricket is a team game and it is not wise to rely on a single player

He said that the national team would display good performance in the series against Sri Lanka.

He further said that there were bowlers in the team with a potential of getting opponents out.

The Pakistan captain appreciated the decision of opting referral system during the series.

Shoaib Akhtar’s ‘Controversially Yours’ released

NEW DELHI: Former Test cricketer Shoaib Akhtar’s autobiography ‘Controversially Yours’ whihc has already sparked much controversy has been released in India,

The book was launched in New Delhi hotel and the ceremony was attended by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik.

The former fast bowler said that people should read his autobiography first to "understand his remarks" about Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, and added that they are "world class cricketers".

"I am not here to clarify anything... but facts in my book have been presented in a rather strange manner by the media here," Akhtar said responding to queries about his remarks on Tendulkar and Dravid.

Akhtar said that he respects Shah Rukh Khan but alleged that he was cheated by former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi and former PCB chairman Naseem Ashraf.

The bowler admitted to ball tampering and feels it should be legalised.

Australia captain wants say on new coach

SYDNEY: Australian Test captain Michael Clarke has said he wants a say on who the new team coach will be but stopped short of nominating a candidate, as Steve Rixon emerged as a frontrunner.

The team is looking for a new mentor after Tim Nielsen decided to step down rather than reapply for his job after the team secured a 1-0 Test series win over Sri Lanka in Colombo this week.

Nielsen, 43, who held the job for four years, would have had to reapply for the expanded role of head coach, a post which is being created following recommendations made by the seven-month Argus Review of Australian cricket.

With a tour of South Africa looming in less than a month, there is an urgent need to appoint at least an interim replacement.

Reports said former New Zealand coach Rixon and former Australian Test batsman Justin Langer were in the running, at least for the interim position.

Clarke emphasised the need for him to have a strong bond with the new coach.

"There's a lot of successful coaches around the world, and I think the priority, as the review has made very clear, is they are going to try and get the best person for the job," he said late Wednesday, on arriving back in Australia.

"I think Tim Nielsen has done an amazing job for Australia. He's been fantastic for me, not only as a captain, but as a player and he's certainly going to be missed.

"But in regards to names I'm not going to get involved in that because to me it's irrelevant."

Asked if he hoped to have some input into the decision, Clarke said: "I hope I will. I have a really good relationship with James Sutherland the (Cricket Australia) CEO and I'm pretty sure it is important the captain and coach have a strong bond.

"I would imagine I would have some sort of impact and I'll be communicating with James over however long, to try and work out who they think the best person for the role is."

During Nielsen's tenure, Australia lost two Ashes series against England and failed to retain the limited-overs World Cup in April after winning it on the last three occasions.

Australian cricket is undergoing a transitional period following the retirement of greats like Shane Warne, Mathew Hayden, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.

The sweeping Argus Review was ordered by the Australian cricket board after the Test team's humiliating 3-1 Ashes series defeat at home to England this year.

The announcement came after Clarke replaced Ricky Ponting as captain and led Australia to Test and one-day series wins in Sri Lanka on his first full tour at the helm. (AFP)

Pakistan in series whitewash over Zimbabwe

HARARE: Pakistan won the one day international series against Zimbabwe with a 3-0 whitewash by taking the closing match with 28 runs to spare at Harare Sports Club here Wednesday.

Pakistan, having been put into bat by the hosts captain Brendan Taylor, set a target of 270-5 with Zimbabwe making 242-9 in reply.

Pakistan captain Misbah ul Haq said afterwards that Pakistan's policy of sending out a young and relatively inexperienced team had paid off and he was delighted with their overall performances.

He said: "This is all a good sign for the future of Pakistan cricket and from that viewpoint alone it was worth coming."

Pakistan, who had scrambled to a five run win in the opening match and took the second by 10 wickets, were always the dominant side.

Zimbabwe put up a strong showing, their failing being continually behind the required run rate.

Pakistan got off to a spirited start through Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Farhat, who sped to 32 runs in the first three overs. The innings settled after that, especially when Harfeez fell for 23 and Farhat for 37.

The run rate settled on about five an over, even though Asad Shafiq, one of three young players introduced scored 51 and the old campaigner Younis Khan made 81. It was Shafiq's fifth half century and Khan's 44th. Khan was out to a wonderful caught and bowled by Kyle Jarvis just when he had his sights on a seventh ODI century.

Shoaib Malik once again disappointed with 14 and the finishing touches were aggressively applied to the Pakistan innings by Misbah ul Haq, 29, and Adnan Akmal with 24.

Their target, stated before the match by Misbah ul Haq to be 270 to 280 was therefore satisfactory, and seemed on the recent form of Zimbabwe to be well beyond the home team's reach.

However Zimbabwe made a serious effort to get there. But even though Justice Chibhabha with 62 and Vusi Sibanda on 59 made a strong early showing, it didn't have the pace of run gathering necessary for a launch towards the end.

With Taylor failing by scoring only six, those who followed made an effort to catch up with a rising run rate necessary but were never really in the chase, and at the end Zimbabwe needed eight, ten and eventually 14 an over for the win.

Aziz Cheema was the best of the Pakistan bowlers with 4-43 and he was named man of the match. He has been the newcomer with the most success even though he is somewhat of a latecomer at 32 years of age.

Man of the series was Younis Khan, who went about his business with polished calm and took the catch of the match on the boundary in dismissing Tatenda Taibu, who had just previously hit six, one of six scored on the day.

The Pakistan tour continues here with two Twenty-20 entertainments at Harare on Friday and Sunday. (AFP)

 Pakistan trounce China 4-1 in Asian Champions Trophy

BEIJING: Pakistan recorded another victory in the Asian Hockey Champions Trophy on Sunday when they outclassed China 4-1.

Earlier on previous day, Pakistan had defeated Malaysia 3-1 and continuing this trend they beat the hosts by a big margin.

Fabregas scores on debut as Barca crush Villarreal

BARCELONA: Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez marked their home debuts for Barcelona in La Liga with goals as the champions crushed Villarreal 5-0 in their opening match of the campaign on Monday.

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi scored twice and Spain Under-21 midfielder Thiago Alcantara was also on the scoresheet for Barca in their bid for a club record-equalling fourth consecutive Spanish title.

The victory was an impressive response to title rivals Real Madrid after Jose Mourinho's side inflicted a 6-0 demolition on Real Zaragoza on Sunday when Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick.

After dominating the early stages, Barca were ahead on 25 minutes at a sultry Nou Camp. As Alcantara ran at the Villarreal defence they backed off waiting for a pass, allowing him space to shoot low past Diego Lopez into the corner of the net.

Former Arsenal captain Fabregas, who returned to his boyhood club this month after eight years with the Premier League side, made it 2-0 just before halftime when he raced on to a Messi pass, rounded Lopez and slotted home.

Chilean Sanchez, another new signing after his close-season move from Udinese, put Barca three up two minutes after the break before Andres Iniesta played Messi through to round Lopez and make it 4-0 five minutes later.

The Argentina forward grabbed a second and Barca's fifth when he turned in Alcantara's fine centre with 15 minutes left.

La Liga kicked off a week late after the first round of matches fell victim to a strike called by the players' union (AFE) over unpaid wages. The dispute with the league (LFP) was finally resolved on Thursday. (Reuters)

Aussies gain 3-1 lead in ODI series against Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: Xavier Doherty and Brett Lee took four wickets apiece as Australia defeated Sri Lanka by five wickets in the fourth one-dayer on Saturday to gain an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

Left-arm spinner Doherty, who was named man of the match, finished with a career-best 4-28 and paceman Lee with 4-15 as Australia dismissed Sri Lanka for 132 before achieving the modest target with 22 overs to spare.

Opener Shaun Marsh (70) was Australia's batting star as he put on 97 for the third wicket with skipper Michael Clarke (38 not out) after paceman Lasith Malinga removed Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting in the same over.

Debutant leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna dismissed Marsh and the Hussey brothers, Michael and David, in the space of four deliveries, but Australia needed just 10 runs to win with five wickets in hand at that stage.

Marsh, playing his first match of the series, hit one six and 11 fours in his impressive 80-ball knock.

Sri Lanka were earlier 95-3 following a 71-run stand for the third wicket between Mahela Jayawardene (53) and Kumar Sangakkara (31), but lost their last seven wickets for 37 runs in a dramatic collapse.

Skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan (12) was the other batsman to reach double figures in Sri Lanka's dismal performance on a slow wicket.

Jayawardene, dropped on 34 by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin off paceman Mitchell Johnson, hit just four boundaries in his patient 102-ball knock before falling to Lee in the 39th over.

Lee and Doug Bollinger did not allow Sri Lanka to make a solid start after the hosts elected to bat as they struck in their opening spells, removing Dilshan and Upul Tharanga (eight).

Sangakkara, hit on the helmet by a Bollinger bouncer off the first ball he faced, steadied the innings with Jayawardene before Doherty bagged three wickets in two overs.

The Australian spinner broke the partnership when he dismissed Sangakkara, caught by Lee at long-on while attempting a big shot. He then trapped Chamara Silva leg-before in the same over.

Doherty got his third wicket when he had Angelo Mathews stumped for six runs in his next over before accounting for Prasanna.

Federer hammers del Potro to advance

CINCINNATI: Roger Federer, playing in his final event before the US Open, surged into the third round of the ATP and WTA hardcourt tournament Tuesday by beating Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.

The Swiss star, who turned 30 earlier this month, cruised past del Potro 6-3, 7-5 for his first win over the Argentine in their last three matches which included the 2009 US Open final. Federer had won their first six meetings, dating back to Wimbledon in 2007.

"I played some tough matches against him in the past and obviously the US Open final sticks out the most," Federer said. "I told him at the net that it was good to see him back."

Federer hammered 12 aces and won 83 percent of his first-serve points in the 92 minute match on centre court.

Federer said he felt confident but a little nervous going into the second round contest.

"There was a lot of pressure," said Federer, whose only title this season came in Doha in January. "I haven't played much so this was a big match for me.

"I mixed it up well with slices and strong forehands and I was able to retrieve well today."

Del Potro, who upset Federer in five sets in the 2009 US Open final, is climbing back up the rankings after missing much of 2010 with a wrist injury that required surgery.

"We can't compare the 2009 match and this one," del Potro said. "I feel well tonight, but Roger played like No. 1 in the world. He was very confident with his serve."

In the women's tournament French Open champion Li Na also moved smoothly into the third round Tuesday with a straight-set victory over Lucie Safarova.

Li, whose triumph at Roland Garros made her China's first Grand Slam tennis champion, defeated the Czech 6-3, 6-4 to become the first woman to reach the third round.

It was Li's first match win since her second-round exit at Wimbledon, and followed her opening match defeat in Toronto last week.

"I needed some matches for the hard court," said Li, who reached the Australian Open final in January.

"It's always tough, but I was happy I could win the match today," added Li, the fifth seed. "Because I missed a lot, I think I need some matches for me to find the timing on the court."

Fourth-seeded Russian Maria Sharapova, sixth-seeded Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and eighth-seeded Marion Bartoli also swept past their opponents in second-round matches on Tuesday.

All of the top eight seeds, led on the women's side by Caroline Wozniacki and on the men's by Novak Djokovic, have first-round byes.

Sharapova routed qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-1, 6-3, finishing off the Australian in just 71 minutes.

Sharapova posted just one ace but dominated with her serve winning 57 percent of her second serves and converting six of seven break point chances.

"I thought I played aggressively and felt better than I did last week, definitely," Sharapova said.

Sharapova will face the winner of a match between Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova and Czech Petra Cetkovska in the next round.

In other first-round matches on Tuesday, in-form former world number one Serena Williams - winner of her last two tournaments - held on to beat tenacious Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Unseeded Flavia Pennetta upset 12th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, while 13th-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia cruised past Czech Iveta Benesova 6-0, 6-3.

On the men's side, Czech Radek Stepanek - winner of his first title in 2 1/2 years earlier this month when he won the Washington Classic - withstood 21 aces from John Isner to defeat the gargantuan American 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4).

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a Wimbledon semi-finalist and the 15th seed, defeated Croatia's Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4, while Croatia's Ivan Dodig defeated Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) to line up a second-round clash with sixth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils. (AFP)

New manager to be appointed for Zimbabwe series

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will appoint a new manager for the national cricket team and Intikhab Alam has been dropped as the manager for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, According to sources, Naveed Akram Cheema is the frontrunner to replace Alam as team manager. Cheema is currently a member of the PCB governing board.


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Hat-trick hero Broad revels in return to form

NOTTINGHAM: England seamer Stuart Broad said his "confidence was back" after taking a hat-trick against India in the second Test at Trent Bridge here on Saturday.

The 25-year-old fast-medium bowler wreaked havoc with the new ball, having India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught in the slips, trapping Harbhajan Singh lbw and then clean bowling Praveen Kumar to become only the 12th England bowler in 134 years of Test cricket to take a hat-trick.

He was also the first bowler to achieve the feat against India and the first to do so in a Test at Trent Bridge, the 25-year-old fast-medium bowler's Nottinghamshire home ground.

Broad saw his treble propel him to Test-best figures of six for 46 -- a return that included a stunning spell of five for no wicket in 16 balls.

The final victim in Test cricket's previous hat-trick, achieved by Australia fast bowler Peter Siddle against England in Brisbane in November, Broad had earlier claimed the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, caught at first slip by Andrew Strauss for 16.

That meant Tendulkar was again left searching for an unprecedented 100th international hundred.

But India still built a lead thanks to Rahul Dravid, whose 117 was his second century in as many Tests after his 103 not out at Lord's.

The advent of the new ball, taken by England as soon as it was available with India on 258 for four, turned the tide with the tourists losing their last six wickets for 21 runs.

"We knew that new-ball period would be a huge hour for us," Broad said. "Strauss asked as at tea if we could raise our intensity during that hour to put some pressure on the Indian batsman.

"Fortunately there was some swing and the edges came our way. We've got ourselves back in this game.

As for his hat-trick, Broad said: "It was something that hasn't particularly sunk in.

"I think it's my third but we are going back to Oakham Schools Under-15s for the last one. It was a nice feeling but it won't mean much if we don't go on and win this Test," Broad, the son of former England opener Chris, said.

Broad's haul came after he top-scored in England's first innings 221 with 64 batting at No 9.

"The confidence is back," said Broad. "I don't think I bowled particularly badly at the start of the year, I just didn't have much luck."

Venkatsai Laxman, the 'other' member of India's celebrated batting trio, made a useful 54 on Saturday.

England though were convinced Laxman was caught behind for 27 and asked for Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf's not out decision to be reviewed.

But the Hotspot technology in use this series detected no edge.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan, on social networking site Twitter, then asked: "Has Vaseline on the outside edge of the bat saved Laxman's day?" amidst concerns the substance can 'fool' Hotspot.

However, Broad said: "I think it's just HotSpot, we've found the really faint edges don't show up. It's just one of those.

"I actually had a cheeky feel of his edge when the ball went past, but there was no Vaseline or anything on there."

England closed on 24 for one in their second innings, still 43 runs behind, and Broad added: "It will be a massive day tomorrow.

"We need to bat big and one guy needs to get a big hundred then we are right in the game because bowling last on that wicket could be an advantage for us." (AFP)

Uruguay beat Paraguay to win Copa America

BUENOS AIRES: Diego Forlan scored twice and Luis Suarez once as Uruguay beat Paraguay 3-0 to win the Copa America and be crowned South American champions for a record 15th time.

Suarez put Uruguay ahead in the eighth minute of the final at the Monumental when his low, left-footed shot from the right beat the diving Justo Villar and went in off the far post.

Forlan, the 2010 World Cup's best player, made it 2-0 three minutes before halftime when he ran onto a ball from midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios and blasted left-footed past Villar from the edge of the box.

In a last-minute counter-attack, Forlan made sure of the title with his second goal, steering the ball past Villar and in off the post.

Uruguay now have one more title than hosts Argentina, whom they upset on penalties in the quarter-finals, at the end of a fine 12 months following their fourth place at the 2010 World Cup.

Outgoing champions Brazil, also eliminated in the quarter-finals on penalties by Paraguay, have eight titles. (Reuters)

PCB recovers Rs4.5 million fine from Afridi

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has recovered a fine of Rs 4.5 million from former national captain Shahid Afridi,

Chief Operating Officer of PCB, Subhan Ahmed told the channel that the finance department had deducted the fine amount from the dues that were to be paid to Afridi for the World Cup and tour to West Indies.

The disciplinary committee of the board had fined Afridi for several breaches of the code of conduct last month.

The fine came after a stand off between Afridi and the PCB allowing his removal as captain of the national one-day squad in May. He announced his retirement in protest and criticised the board for its conduct and not respecting senior players.

After he withdraw a case against the PCB from the Sindh High Court, Afridi appeared before the disciplinary committee which fined him but asked the board to issue him an NOC to go and play for Hampshire in England's domestic Twenty20 event.

Tests take fresh guard at 2,000 not out

LONDON: A five-day contest where often neither side wins, Test cricket may seem out of touch with 21st Century life yet next week's series opener between England and India at Lord's will mark its 2,000th match.

And with a sell-out crowd expected at the 'home of cricket', where India great Sachin Tendulkar could become the first player to score a hundred international hundreds it seems there is life in the old dog yet.

Certainly no-one designing a sporting format today would come up with anything like Test cricket.

Yet its sheer length, and associated unrivalled capacity for changes of fortune -- this month marks the 30th anniversary of England's remarkable win, following on, against Australia at Headingley -- means it can create more truly memorable moments than one-day and Twenty20 formats.

Starting with a match between Australia and England at Melbourne in 1877, it took a while for Test cricket to be regarded as more important than the old rivals' own first-class matches and, South Africa apart, its global appeal in those early years was strictly limited.

Tests were also, for much of their history, comparatively rare events with 803 matches played in the first hundred years compared to 1,197 in the last 34 years.

There has rarely been an age since its inception when Test cricket was not facing a crisis many thought threatened its existence, with last year's spot-fixing scandal involving Pakistan players in England the latest example.

If that had diplomatic, as well as sporting, ramifications so too did the Bodyline series of 1929/30, when England quicks Harold Larwood and Bill Voce bowled to a packed legside field in a bid to curb the phenomenal run-scoring of Australia great Don Bradman.

But by then, the key decision that would broaden Test cricket's horizons had already been taken with two Imperial Cricket Conferences at Lord's in 1926 agreeing to England's exchange of visits with the West Indies, New Zealand and India, opening up cricket to Afro-Caribbean and Asian influences.

A series of increasingly sterile Anglo-Australian contests in the 1950s and 1960s left many fearing for Test cricket's future until a vibrant West Indies side during its 'Tied Test' tour of 1960/61 showed there was another way to play the game.

Even so one-day cricket migrated to the international arena and soon proved itself a commercial success.

Recently the advent of the brash Twenty20, again migrating from the county to the world stage, opened up new audiences.

And, with the creation of the Twenty20 Indian Premier League, vast new riches were available to players without the need to have first established their status in the Test arena.

Yet as International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat put it on Thursday: "Test cricket is the pinnacle form of the game.

"It is our link to the game's origins; it is what defines greatness and it is recognised by the players as being the benchmark by which they wish to be graded and remembered.

"History has proven that no other form of the game can create memorable and meaningful moments like Test cricket can."

Which is not to say it doesn't face huge challenges. Crowds, outside of England and Australia, are often meagre and the sheer frequency of fixtures can leave even the most ardent fan feeling overwhelmed.

Day/night Tests, often heralded as a way of bringing back spectators, remain on the drawing board and whether the ICC's proposed Test Championship, billed as a way of giving greater context to individual series, captures the public imagination, remains to be seen.

But so long as a critical mass within the sport believe Test cricket to be living up to its name as the ultimate challenge -- and can convince enough people beyond the boundary to provide the necessary financial support -- it will be around for some time to come. (AFP)

Spain’s Ferrer beats Fish to close out US in Davis Cup

AUSTIN: Everything was set up for Andy Roddick and the Americans to win. A Davis Cup quarterfinal against Spain set deep in the heart of Texas, a hard surface that was supposed to complement their big hitters and a rowdy crowd of 16,000 ready to cheer them on.

Spain was even missing superstar Rafael Nadal, who skipped the matches to rest after losing the Wimbledon final.

None of it mattered to the feisty, passionate and inspired Spaniards, who tore through the singles matches undefeated to build an insurmountable 3-1 lead, denying Roddick a chance to win it in front of his hometown fans. Spain's David Ferrer, the No. 6 player in the world, beat No. 8 Mardy Fish 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 7-6 (5) in a grueling 4-hour, 11-minute reverse singles match Sunday that clinched Spain's victory.

The win its first on US soil sends Spain to the semifinals, where it will host France on Sept. 16-18. Spain is seeking its third Davis Cup championship in four years. (AP)

Afridi, Razzaq signed to Melbourne Renegades

SYDNEY: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and all rounder Abdul Razaaq have been signed by the Melbourne Renegades to play in the Australian Big Bash Domestic T20 Tournament. According to Australian paper The Sunday Morning Herald, the two players have been signed to play in the upcoming season of the tournament. Prior to this, Afridi had played for Adelaide in 2009-10 season.

LHC orders PCB to submit reply in Shoaib Akhtar case

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday came under scathing criticism from Lahore High Court (LHC) for failing to file a reply on fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar's petition against the ban imposed on him on disciplinary charges.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed lambasted the working of the board for its failure to file a reply on a writ petition by Akhtar against the 18-month ban and fine of seven million rupees imposed on him by the appellate tribunal of the board.

"The board is destroying cricket. I don't know how the board is operating and I am surprised at the failure to file their reply," the justice remarked.

Akhtar had challenged the ban and fine that was imposed on him some two years ago. The LHC had suspended the ban and allowed Akhtar to play cricket but the board has already deducted the fine of seven million rupees from the fast bowler's earnings with them.

PCB lawyer Taffazul Rizvi requested the court to grant some time to submit board’s reply, on which the court adjourned the hearing till September 27.

Zulqarnain to appear before PCB committee today

LAHORE: Pakistan's runaway wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider will appear before the disciplinary committee of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) today (Friday),

In a long awaited hearing Zulqarnain will try to convince the disciplinary committee that his decision to desert the national team in Dubai and flee to London, where he sought asylum, was justified as he was under threat from alleged match-fixers.

According to Zulqarnain, he received the threat during the series against South Africa last year in Dubai after which he left the hotel without informing the team management.

The wicket-keeper only returned to Pakistan in late April after getting assurances of security from interior minister, Rehman Malik.

The PCB, however, has told Zulqarnain to face disciplinary proceedings for violating his central contract.

He said the chairman of the Board, Ijaz Butt had also ignored attempts by Zulqarnain to seek a one-to-one meeting with him.

The board is also upset with Zulqarnain's latest claims in the media that some Pakistani players involved in spot-fixing.

Sources said the disciplinary committee is expected to record statements of some Pakistan players who were in the team that played against South Africa and manager, Intikhab Alam.

Qureshi-Bopanna win first title of the season

HALLE: Pak-Indo tennis duo Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna won their first ATP doubles title of the season. The duo was triumphant against Dutch-Canadian pair of Robin Haase and Milos Raonic 7-6, 3-6, 11-9 in the final of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany.

It took the pair one hour and nineteen minutes to beat their opponents.

In Sunday's final, the Pak-Indo pair could not convert any of the four breakpoints, three in the opening set, and also dropped their serve in the second set but held their nerves in the Super Tie break to clinch the title.

ECB starts probe against Surrey for playing Amir

London: The England and Wales Cricket Board has launched an investigation into banned Pakistani bowler Mohammad Amir's appearance for a village side, and sought a 'full written explanation from the club' in this regard.

Amir, who has been banned for five years by an Anti-Corruption Tribunal after proven guilty of spot-fixing during last year's tour of England, played club cricket in Surrey last Saturday, starting for Addington 1743 in a Surrey Cricket League Division One fixture against St Lukes at the LSE ground in New Malden.

Amir, who faces criminal charges over the bowling of two no-balls in the fourth Test against England last August, claimed he had been told by Surrey Cricket League side Addington 1743 that the game against St Lukes was a 'friendly'.

However, the ICC, who is investigating the matter, has made it clear that the ban prevents Amir from playing cricket at any level, and if it takes a dim view of Amir's appearance in New Malden on Saturday, his exile may be extended.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the ECB "announced that it has requested the Surrey Cricket Board to assist it in its investigation of the circumstances surrounding the Pakistan cricketer Mohammed Amir's appearance for Addington 1743 CC in a Surrey Cricket League Division One match last weekend."

"ECB has also written separately to Addington 1743 CC seeking a full written explanation from the club of the events leading up to Amir's appearance in the match," the statement added.

It said that the decision came after the ECB "confirmed Addington 1743 CC falls under its regulatory jurisdiction by virtue of the club being affiliated to the Surrey Cricket Board," adding that the ECB will also continue to assist the ICC with its own inquiry into the matter.

PCB to issue show-cause notice to Ilyas

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is likely to issue a seconf show-cause notice to selector Muhammad Ilyas on giving statements against former captain Shahid Afridi,

Acoording to PCB sources, the board has decided to issue show-cause notice to the selector on using derogatory language against Afridi. The first notice was issued on Friday while the other is due today (Monday).

Afridi accused Ilyas of pressurising the selection committee to select his son-in-law Imran Farhat in the team.

Afridi to face discipline committee: PCB

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board Thursday summoned former Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi to appear before a disciplinary committee next week for breaching its code of conduct, it said in a statement.

Afridi quit international cricket on Monday, saying he was dejected after being replaced as one-day captain following a fiery clash with coach Waqar Younis.

"A three-man committee comprising of Shafiq Ahmed, Sultan Rana and Usman Wahla has been formed and Afridi has been summoned on June 8 to appear before it," said the PCB statement.

The proceedings will be conducted in closed session and no outsiders will be allowed to attend, the PCB said, adding that there would be a right of appeal from the committee's findings.

The PCB on Tuesday suspended Afridi's central contract and revoked all his permissions to play cricket abroad.

The administrator's chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed said: "It is painful for us to get involved in a dispute with a cricketer who has been the national team captain until the West Indies series 2011.

"There are numerous contributions by Afridi to Pakistan cricket. But I think people need to understand that this is purely a disciplinary issue," he added.

"As the body managing cricket in the country we are duty bound to maintain discipline at all levels.

"We will ensure that Afridi is given every opportunity to express and defend himself and as such the disciplinary process has been clearly spelt out to avoid any ambiguities," said Ahmed.

Pakistani media Thursday speculated Afridi will be fined five million rupees ($59,000) and banned for 15 months.

If the prediction is fulfilled it would be the second-heaviest punishment ever on a Pakistani cricketer, following a seven million rupee fine and 13 one-day match ban on paceman Shoaib Akhtar in 2007. (AFP)

Afridi violated code of conduct: Ijaz Butt

LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said that some of the comments made by former captain Shahid Afridi were against the code of conduct,

Butt said that no one has stopped Afridi from playing cricket and he was selected for the series against Ireland but he refused saying that his father is not well. But his decision to retire from international cricket is sudden and he does not want to comment on it, added Chairman PCB.

Butt said that Afridi has played marvelous cricket and he acknowledges his contribution, but the decision to retire from international cricket is personal.

He also said that PCB has not imposed any restriction on former captain and the team is ready to welcome him back in the international cricket.

Pakistan to take on Ireland in first ODI today

BELFAST: Pakistan will be facing Ireland in first One Day match here today with Misbah-ul-Haq as the captain of the team.

The weather could hardly be more different to that in the Caribbean as they arrived in Belfast here on Thursday amid cool, breezy conditions.

Meanwhile, the Stormont ground, the venue for both matches, on Saturday and Monday, was too wet on Thursday to allow Ireland to train.

If Pakistan can adapt to the drop in temperatures and not think too longingly of home after more than a month away, they should have enough all-round strength to see off the leading Associate nation. But anything less than a fully committed performance could see them struggling.

Since Ireland knocked Pakistan out of the 2007 World Cup, they have gone from strength to strength, defeating England at this year's edition. And even one victory against Pakistan will consolidate their 10th place ranking in the ODI table, just four places behind the tourists.

Ireland coach Phil Simmons, the former West Indies all-rounder, is hoping for a similar surface to the one served up at Stormint for the ODIs against Bangladesh in July last year.

While Pakistan have a 15-man squad at their disposal, including the return of Umar Gul and Younis Khan, both rested for the five one-dayers in the Caribbean, Ireland will be without the injured Niall O'Brien and George Dockrell.

Afridi pulls out of Ireland one-dayers

ISLAMABAD: Shahid Afridi has withdrawn altogether from two One Day Internationals (ODIs) against Ireland for personal reasons, an official said on Tuesday.

The popular all-rounder was last week replaced by Misbah-ul-Haq despite leading Pakistan to the semi-final of the World Cup and a 3-2 one-day series win over the West Indies.

It was seen as apparent punishment by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for Afridi's public criticism of coach Waqar Younis for interfering in team selection on the West Indies tour.

"Afridi has informed us that his father has been admitted to hospital for liver treatment and he wants to be with him and would not be available for the two matches in Ireland," PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar told the reporters.

No replacement will be sent for Afridi, said Sarwar.

Pakistan, who levelled a two-match Test series in the West Indies on Monday, will reach Ireland on Wednesday where they will play on May 28 and 30.

Afridi took over as national captain last year but after a heavy defeat against Australia in neutral venue England, he resigned from the Test captaincy.

He continued as one-day captain but developed differences with Waqar during the World Cup, where Pakistan lost in the semi-final to India who eventually won the title in April.

"Everyone should do his job and should be accountable for his duties," Afridi said, criticising the coach, on his return from the West Indies after the one-day series.

But when asked about his differences with Waqar, Shahid replied: "They are not at a stage where they cannot be resolved."

The PCB took strong note of the public criticism and admonished Afridi for violating the players' code of conduct for airing team affairs in the media. (AFP)Click to add text, images, and other content

Wasim Akram criticizes PCB decision

KARACHI: Former captain of Pakistan cricket team Wasim Akram has criticized PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt’s decision to remove Shahid Afridi from captaincy on Saturday.

Wasim Akram, while addressing the media, said that Shahid Afridi has proved his mettle in recent World Cup and One Day matches. After witnessing better performance from Afridi, PCB’s decision to change captain is inappropriate.

He also said that Misbah-ul-Haq has no future as a captain due to his age and he will not be able to continue playing as a captain for a longer period of time.

When Wasim Akram was asked about the clashes between coach Waqar Younus and Shahid Afridi, he said that such disagreements between the two is nothing unusual. The coach wants to exercise complete authority and when it does not happen, such conflicts are likely to arise.

He said that frequent changes in the team and captaincy have worst effects on the team’s performance. He blamed Ijaz Butt for the atrocity of the situation.

Ireland one-day matches captaincy still doubtful

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman, Ijaz Butt’s statement has made Shahid Afridi’s position as regards to leading the team in the two one-day mach series against Ireland doubtful.

Following the two test match series against West Indies, Pakistan team on home-coming will play two one-day matches in Ireland. Who will be the captain in this series, the mystery as yet remains unsolved. Whether Shahid Afridi would be leading the team, no categorical decision has come forth thus far. The Board had issued show cause notice to Shahid Afridi, which he had replied.

In an informal talk with the media, PCB Chairman said that Shahid Afridi has certainly informed him of his availability in Ireland on phone and has also talked of leaving for U.S. for enquiring the health of his father, but the PCB Chairman didn’t assure Afridi of retaining him as captain instead Ijaz Butt clarified that neither he has given any statement relating to the removal of Shahid Afridi from captaincy. 

Pakistan lose 1st Test against Windies

PROVIDENCE, Guyana: Captain Darren Sammy led his team to their first Test win in more than two years on Sunday, taking five wickets as West Indies beat Pakistan by 40 runs after lunch on the fourth day.

The victory ended a dreadful run of form for West Indies, who had not won in 17 Tests dating back to February 2009.

Chasing 219 in their second innings for victory, Pakistan collapsed to be all out for 178 in just 73 overs after they had resumed on 80-3.

Sammy, who has been under fire in the Caribbean, ripped through the Pakistan middle and lower order, finishing with figures of 5-29.

Ravi Rampaul also took advantage of the difficult batting surface to take 4-48 as West Indies cleaned up the last six Pakistan wickets for 43 runs in a low-scoring match where only one player managed to make a half-century.

West Indies made an early breakthrough when Rampaul clean bowled Asad Shafiq for 42, ending a partnership that had pulled Pakistan back from the dreadful start on Saturday evening.

Misbah-ul-Haq continued with Umar Akmal, putting on a 52 run stand that promised to turn the match decisively in Pakistan's favour.

But Sammy brought himself into the attack and removed Misbah-ul-haq lbw for 52 before trapping Mohammad Salman in a similar manner to complete a double wicket maiden that turned the game.

After lunch the wickets tumbled with Sammy and Rampaul taking full advantage of a surface that offered plenty of movement.

There were a total of 20 lbw dismissals in the match, a record number for a Test.

PCB takes notice of Afridi's statements

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has taken the notice of Shahid Afridi's statements blaming coach Waqar Younus of interfering in his work.

The PCB regarded Afridi's statements as violation of code of conduct and hinted action after the tour report.

On his return Sunday morning after one-day series against West Indies Captain Shahid Afridi said some people interfere in his work, which is displeasing.

The national team captain said that he would soon be meeting the PCB Chairman.

When queried about his differences with Waqar Yunus, he confirmed this in a low voice that something is definitely wrong in the team affairs.

West Indies beat Pakistan by 10 wickets

PROVIDENCE: West Indies defeated Pakistan by 10 wickets in the fifth and final one-day international at the Guyana National Stadium on Thursday. Pakistan won the series 3-2. Brief scores: Pakistan 139 all out in 41.2 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 55; Ravi Rampaul 4-45) v West Indies 140-0 in 23.3 overs (Lendl Simmons 77 not out, Kirk Edwards 40 not out). (AFP)

Misbah guides Pakistan to series-clinching victory

BRIDGETOWN: Misbah-ul-Haq dug deep and dragged Pakistan to a series-clinching, three-wicket victory over West Indies in the third One-day International of the best of five match series here on Thursday.

Misbah led the way with four fours and one six in an unbeaten 62 from 109 balls, Hammad Azam supported with 36, and Umar Akmal made 30, as the Pakistanis, chasing 172 for victory, reached their target with 29 balls remaining at Kensington Oval.

The Pakistanis were left reeling on 12 for three, following an opening burst from Ravi Rampaul, who also had Akmal caught behind to leave the visitors on 49 for four in the 12th over, finishing with four wickets for 32 runs from nine overs.

Azam joined Misbah and put on 78 for the fifth wicket to put Pakistan back on track before Devendra Bishoo took three for 42 from nine overs to trigger a slide that left the visitors wobbling on 148 for seven in the 36th over.

But Wahab Riaz joined Misbah to edge the Pakistanis over the finish line five overs later, when he swung a short ball from Dwayne Bravo over deep backward square leg for six.

Earlier, Saeed Ajmal had captured three for 29 from 8.4 overs and Wahab took three for 38 from eight overs to enhance Pakistan's chance of victory, as they dismissed their opponents for 171 in 43.4 overs after choosing to field.

The Pakistanis appeared to be under pressure, when West Indies duo Lendl Simmons and Darren Bravo comfortably added 86 for the second wicket in a volley of strokes before Ajmal and Wahab brought Pakistan back into the match, which was reduced to 45 overs-a-side.

Saeed held a return catch in the 21st over to dismiss Simmons for the West Indies top score of 51, and Mohammad Hafeez trapped Darren Bravo lbw for 47 in the 28th over to leave the home team on 118 for three.

But Saeed and Wahab ensured there was no fight-back from the remaining batsmen, as they all failed to offer any substanial scores before a disappointed holiday crowd.

Pakistan played an unchanged line-up, but West Indies made two changes, replacing Anthony Martin and wicketkeeper/batsman Carlton Baugh Jr with fast bowlers Andre Russell and Rampaul.

Play began an hour and 45 minutes later than scheduled, after rain delayed the start of the match on the day that the island celebrates their national heroes, including legendary former West Indies all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers.

The victory meant that Pakistan have now won their last eight ODIs against West Indies spread over the last four years, including their 10-wicket victory in a recent World Cup quarter-final in Bangladesh.

The fourth ODI will be played next Monday at Kensington Oval with the final match of the series three days later at the Guyana National Stadium. (AFP)

Nabbed bookies 'threatened' Zulqarnain

SIALKOT: Police said Wednesday that arrested bookmakers had confessed to being behind death threats to former national wicket-keeper Zulqarnain Haider.

The 25-year-old abandoned the team in Dubai last November and fled to London, saying he had received death threats from bookies who wanted him to fix a match.

Haider said he was retiring from international cricket and applied for political asylum in Britain, but returned home on Monday after the government gave assurances about his safety and that of his family.

"We have arrested eight bookies and some of them have revealed they were behind threats to Haider," police official Nasir Qureshi said from Sialkot.

"We have confiscated their data which has a number of international contacts and the investigation is still on."

Qureshi said an official press conference could be called on Thursday.

"We have found a number of satellite telephones and diaries which have international contacts and we hope to get further details in the next 24 hours," he added.

Haider last week announced that he was prepared to revoke his application for asylum and return to resume his career after meeting Interior Minister Rehman Malik in London.

On his return Haider said he had not yet decided on his future.

"I am happy to return and have got the kind of security promised to me. They have given me superb accommodation," said Haider.

"There were some reasons when I left the team and went to Britain. I will spend some time with my family and haven't decided on my playing future."

On Monday, Malik said Haider had revealed some important details but refused to share them with the media.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said Haider had not made contact and only when he does, would a fact-finding committee take up the matter.

The committee, formed last year, found no clear motive behind Haider's disappearance but termed him "mentally ill". (AFP)


Shehzad century steers Pakistan to victory

GROS ISLET: Opener Ahmed Shehzad struck his second one-day international hundred to anchor Pakistan to a confident seven-wicket victory over West Indies on Monday.

Shehzad hit seven fours and one six in his 102 from 148 balls as Pakistan successfully chased 221 for victory in the second ODI at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.

Umar Akmal carried the visitors over the threshold with 12 balls remaining when he lofted a delivery from Dwayne Bravo to long-off for the final boundary of the match.

The result means that Pakistan take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series after winning the first game by eight wickets on Saturday at the same ground.

Pakistan have now won their last seven ODIs against West Indies, a sequence spread over the last four years.

"We made a plan at our team meeting and our guys stuck to it and that was good," said Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi.

"Shehzad is a very talented guy and he showed that he is capable of performing. He took his time, but chasing a small total, he could afford to do that and we won the game.

"I think our bowlers are doing a great job, and the fielding has improved because it is a very important area for us. Our batting has shown responsibility and we hope to maintain this discipline right throughout the series."

The visitors' spin bowling trio of Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi had dominated on another docile pitch.

After Pakistan chose to field, West Indies were dismissed for 220 in their 50 overs - one less than the total they made in the first ODI.

Ajmal, Hafeez and Afridi shared six wickets for 102 runs in 30 overs between them, and only West Indies opener Lendl Simmons looked close to getting on top of them, leading the way with 51 from 48 balls, which included four fours and two sixes.

"We didn't make use of the key moments in the match," said West Indies captain Darren Sammy.

"We could have tried to squeeze their batsmen more and when we batted we got a good start, but did not capitalise on it.

"The spinners continue to bog us down, and we could have got a lot more on the board. It seems that whatever approach we have taken, we seem only able to get the same kind of total on the board. We have a lot more work to do."

Shehzad shared three successive half-century partnerships with Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq that put Pakistan firmly on course for their victory.

He glanced a delivery in the 44th over from Dwayne Bravo to deep fine leg for a single to reach his milestone from 143 balls.

"We tried to keep wickets in hand. It was not a huge total so I knew that I had to control my stroke-play and not get carried away," said Shehzad.

He was fortunate on 30 when he came close to being run out after pulling a delivery from Bravo to mid-wicket and Hafeez turned down the chance of going for a single.

Sammy fired his throw from mid-wicket wide of the stumps and the opener was able to regain his ground.

By the time he became the second wicket for leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in the 46th over, Pakistan required just 30 from the final 28 deliveries which came with little trouble.

The third and fourth matches of the series will be played on Thursday and Monday at Kensington Oval in Barbados, with the final game coming three days later at the Guyana National Stadium.


 Pakistan lose T20I by 7 runs against West Indies

GROS ISLET, Saint Lucia: Pakistan lost the only Twenty20 International by seven runs in an exciting finish here at the Beausejour Stadium on Thursday.

Chasing a modest target of 151 runs, they made 143 runs for nine wickets in the first ever T20I between the two countries.

For Pakistan, no batsman except Umar Akmal (41) and Asad Shafiq (25) could resist against accurate bowling by the West Indians as leg-break bowler Devendra Bishoo claimed four wickets for 17 runs and fast-medium bowler Ravi Rampaul took three for 31.

West Indies picked a youthful team for the one-off game and the upcoming ODI series, having dropped experienced batsmen Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

One of the young faces, opening batsman Lendl Simmons got West Indies off to a great start with a lively 65 off 44 balls and left-hander Darren Bravo struck 42 off 33 as the Caribbean side brought up their 100 in the 13th over.

But, as so often, Darren Sammy's side failed to build on their good foundation and ended up falling short of a really strong total, with just two other players making double figures.

Pakistan lost both their openers, Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez, early but Umar Akmal's 41 from 60 balls put them in with a chance.

Bishoo, who caught the eye of West Indies selectors with his performances in regional Twenty20 cricket, then showed his value in the shortest form of the game with some astute bowling.

The vital breakthrough came when Sammmy made a fine catch at extra-cover off Bishoo, to dismiss skipper Shahid Afridi (12) and break up what was a potentially match winning partnership.

Sammy then ran out Mohammand Salman and when Marlon Samuels caught Umar at deep midwicket off Ravi Rampaul, Pakistan were in trouble at 109-7.
But some loose bowling and some spirited resistance from Saeed Ajmal (21 not out) at the end gave the tourists a glimmer of hope and the last pair needed 14 from the final over.

Jamaican all-rounder Andre Russell kept his composure, after a no-ball with his first delivery of the over, and the West Indies had cause for celebration at the start of their home campaigns which also includes two Tests with Pakistan in May and three against India in June. AddThis Social Bookmark Button


 Hafeez leads Pakistan to win in tour opener

CASTRIES: Mohammad Hafeez retired out on 101 to lay the foundation for a 68-run victory for Pakistan in the opening match of their Caribbean tour against the University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI on Monday.

The stand-in Pakistan captain struck 10 fours and two sixes from 93 balls to lead the visitors to 287 for seven from 50 overs, after they chose to bat in the one-day practice match at the Mindoo Phillip Park in the St. Lucia capital.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman then captured four for 27 from his 10 overs, as the VC XI were restricted to 219 for eight in their turn at the crease.

This was the only match practice for the Pakistanis before they face West Indies in a Twenty20 International on Thursday at the Beausejour Cricket Ground in the coastal town of Gros-Islet about four miles outside of the capital.

Hafeez enjoyed a slice of good fortune, when Keron Cottoy dropped him at backward point off West Indies fast bowler Fidel Edwards in the day's first over.

He went on to share an opening stand of 77 with Taufeeq Umar, and added 130 for the second wicket with Ahmed Shehzad before he gave another teammate a chance in the middle.

Umar Akmal supported with a boundary-studded 57, Shehzad scored 49, and Taufeeq made 44.

Carlos Brathwaite was the most successful VC XI bowler with three for 38 from 10 overs, and leg-spinner Nkrumah Bonner finished with two for 25 from four overs.

The VC XI ran into trouble on 75 for three before Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies vice-captain, and Bonner put them back on course.

Bravo, playing his first match since injuring his knee and being forced to return home from the recent World Cup, led the way with 63 that included four fours and two sixes, and Bonner added 43.

Rehman however, claimed them both, and scalped two more wickets to swing the balance of power decisively Pakistan's way.

The Pakistanis also contest five One-day Internationals and two Tests against West Indies on their six-week trip.

Pakistan - 287 for seven off 50 overs: (Mohammad Hafeez 101 retired, Umar Akmal 57 not out, Ahmed Shehzad 49, Taufeeq Umar 44; Carlos Brathwaite 3-38, Nkrumah Bonner 2-25)

UWI Vice-Chancellor's XI - 219 for eight off 50 overs: (Dwayne Bravo 63, Nkrumah Bonner 43, Miles Bascombe 26, Kevin McClean 23 not out; Abdur Rehman 4-27) (AFP) AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Pakistan cricket team leaves for West Indies

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team has left for West Indies from Lahore after completing the training camp.

Talking to media before departure at Allama Iqbal airport, team manager Intikhab Alam said, "I am hopeful with young cricketers, they will perform well and InshAllah would help to win the series against West Indies."

He said that young players have a golden chance to get experience and to show their performance.

National cricket team would play a T-20 and a series of one-day international matches under the captaincy of Shahid Afridi, while two test matches under the captaincy of Misbah-Ul-Haq.

National cricket team will start the tour of West Indies with a practice match. The practice match between Pakistan and West Indies teams will begin on 18 April.

The tour would formally start from April 21 from a T-20 match.

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Carroll double hits City Champions League hopes

LIVERPOOL: Record signing Andy Carroll delivered a blow to Manchester City's Champions League ambitions as Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 victory over Roberto Mancini's side at Anfield on Monday.

Carroll helped himself to his first two goals in a Liverpool shirt since joining from Newcastle for #35 million in the January transfer window.

Dirk Kuyt also netted on a torrid night for City, who lost captain Carlos Tevez to a suspected hamstring injury ahead of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with neighbours Manchester United at Wembley.

Mancini's expensively-assembled side has now failed to win any of their last six Premier League away games and remain fourth in the table.

The Italian is under pressure to qualify for next season's Champions League.

But City are only three points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham, who they entertain on May 10, while their London rivals also have a game in hand as the season reaches a thrilling climax.

It was hard to believe judging by their first half performance, but City had arrived at Anfield boasting more clean sheets than any other team in the Premier League.

Yet hopes of a 15th were undone by a shambolic first half defensive display as Liverpool laid the foundations for a seventh win in 12 league matches under Kenny Dalglish with a dominant first half display.

Five-nil winners over Sunderland in their previous game, City were given a taste of their own medicine as they found themselves 3-0 down by half time.

City had already been handed a seventh minute warning of Liverpool's rampant mood by Luis Suarez, the Uruguay forward's powerful low shot striking the post after the faintest of touches by keeper Joe Hart.

But Hart was unable to keep out England team-mate Carroll's majestic finish six minutes later.

It came after Tevez had originally lost possession, Raul Meireles' ambitious long-range effort cannoning off Vincent Kompany straight to Carroll, whose left-foot 25-yard finish flew past Hart into the net.

The joy on Carroll's face told its own story. Having arrived at Liverpool injured, the expensive signing has endured a long and frustrating battle to get fit. But this was pay back time.

A City victory would have taken them above Chelsea into third place and left confidence sky high ahead of next weekend's FA Cup semi-final.

But their evening went from bad to worse.

No sooner had they fallen behind than Tevez threw off the captain's armband after damaging his hamstring before disappearing down the tunnel.

Then Mancini saw his players capitulate as City went from one goal down to trail 3-0 in the space of 60 seconds.

Soon after Fabio Aurelio had been fortunate to escape a red card after an ugly two-footed challenge on Adam Johnson, Liverpool doubled their lead in the 34th minute through Kuyt's well-executed low finish just inside the area.

The inquest was still going on in the City defence when Carroll got the better of Aleksandar Kolarov to head Meireles' cross beyond Hart.

The only positive for the lacklustre visitors in the second half was that they did not concede any more.

In fact, Yaya Toure forced a fine 82nd minute save from Pepe Reina but City's dismal game was summed up when substitute Mario Balotelli, a replacement for Tevez, was subbed himself in the closing minutes.

This was an impressive performance by Liverpool, who gave a debut to 18-year-old right-back John Flanagan.

The win lifts them to within five points of fifth-placed Tottenham and keeps alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Europa League. AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Kamran, Razzaq, Younus dropped from WI tour

LAHORE: Pakistani selectors on Wednesday dropped faltering wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal from the one-day and Twenty20 squad for this month's tour of the West Indies and rested senior players.

The 29-year-old was criticised for dropping crucial catches during the World Cup, where Pakistan lost in the semi-finals to arch rival and host India.

"We have given Kamran Akmal a break because his wicketkeeping was not up to the mark during the World Cup," chief selector Mohsin Khan said.

Mohammad Salman, 29, will keep wicket in the Twenty20 and one-day matches.

Pakistan will play a Twenty20 international, five one-day games and two Tests on the month-long tour, starting from April 18.

One-day skipper Shahid Afridi had hinted that senior players would be rested to give younger team members a chance, prompting Younis Khan, Abdul Razzaq and Umar Gul -- all part of the World Cup squad -- to be left out.

Afridi will not be part of the Test team after retiring from the longer version of the game last year.

Misbah-ul-Haq will lead Pakistan in the Tests, for which a squad will be announced later.

Squad (T20 and one-day): Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shahzad, Taufiq Umar, Usman Salahuddin, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Tanvir Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam, Aizaz Cheema, Mohammad Salman. AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Afridi ready to tour West Indies

KARACHI: Pakistan's limited overs cricket captain Shahid Afridi has made himself available for the tour of West Indies after previously opting for a break.

"Earlier I had decided to skip the tour because I wanted to take a well deserved rest from the game, but some former players and my family and friends told me to change my decision at this crucial time for Pakistan cricket," Afridi said on Monday.

Afridi, 31, who has played 320 one-day internationals, led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the recent World Cup where they lost to eventual winners India.

The seasoned all-rounder, who finished with 21 wickets in the tournament, said he wanted a break from cricket but the upcoming tour was an ideal opportunity to groom two or three new players.

"That is why I want to be part of the team on the coming tour and carry on the momentum we got from the World Cup," he said.

Afridi revealed the morale of the players was boosted by the warm welcome they received on returning from the World Cup hosted in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"It is an indication that Pakistan cricket is on the right track and on the coming tours to West Indies and Zimbabwe we can form an ideal one-day combination," he added.

The Pakistan team will play a Twenty20 match against West Indies on April 21, then five ODIs and two tests.

Indications from the national selectors suggest they plan to rest some of the senior players for the limited over matches in the Caribbean and try out new players who have performed well in domestic cricket. (Reuters) AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Afridi says he is thankful to nation

KARACHI: Skipper national cricket team Shahid Khan Afridi said that he was thankful to entire nation from the bottom of his heart upon the high support extended to team from nation,
He vowed to display a good show on continuous basis on the condition of this support from nation which team is enjoying at this point of time.

“Players, hailing from all four provinces, were playing in the squad,” Afridi highlighted, detailing further that players’ goal was to play with unity and that, according to him, helped players reached semifinal of the mega event.

“We were the only team that forced India to get out at that low total,” Afridi mentioned lamenting that his side’s batting failed to click when needed the most.

He said that senior players should be dropped from West Indies tour to give them a rest.

“I have yet to decide on West Indies tour,” he added. AddThis Social Bookmark Button




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