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Tuesday,03-August-2021

International

England vs Pakistan, 1st Test: We have prepared very well, says Azhar Ali

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Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali said that the players are raring to go after their long break enforced by the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan take on England in a three-match Test series starting on Wednesday. This will be followed by a three-match T20I series and the team has been in the country since late June.

“All players are excited to play the series. COVID-19 is there and for the moment we have to carry on with it,” Azhar told reporters on the eve of the first Test which will be played at Old Trafford.

“We are lucky that we will be playing cricket which is what we love the most. A lot of talk is going on about cricket happening in these tough times but I feel that the best thing is that we wanted to play and we are now getting to that. Credit to ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) and PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) for arranging this series.

“We have prepared very well with whatever facilities we had with us and ensured that no player gets left behind and gets frustrated. We enjoyed the camp a lot.”

Azhar said the team is motivated by their Test performances in recent years in England. Pakistan have not lost a Test series in England since 2010.

“Challenges is something you have to take as a cricketer and England tours are always difficult with or without Covid. But we have performed well in our last few series here and that is a big source of motivation. We will be looking to repeat and upstage that,” he said.

The 35-year-old admitted that the visitors’ pace battery may be inexperienced but is confident of them performing well considering the talent that they have.

“Our fast bowing attack is inexperienced but you have seen their talent and how they have bowled in the last few series. I think of myself as very lucky as a captain that we got bowlers like these who can threaten any team in Test cricket. You can’t buy experience, that comes with playing matches but there is a lot of capability there.

“Our batting experience is better. There is Shan Masood, Asad Shafiq and I have all played a lot. Babar Azam has gained a lot of experience now. As a team our combination is pretty good.”

International

Pakistan’s Azam Khan ruled out of two T20Is against West Indies

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Azam-Khan

Pakistan batsman Azam Khan has been ruled out of the second and third T20Is against West Indies after sustaining a head injury in a training session.

“A neurosurgeon has recommended an observation period of 24 hours. He will then be reassessed on Monday. His availability for the final T20I will depend on the reassessment done on Monday,” said a statement by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday.
Azam, son of the former Pakistan cricketer Moin Khan, made his international debut in the T2I series against England. The 22-year-old had modest scores of five not out and one in two matches before being dropped for the decider at Old Trafford.

In the ongoing series, he didn’t get a chance to bat in the opening T20I at Barbados against West Indies as the nine-over affair was called off due to rain.

The last three T20Is between Pakistan and West Indies will be played in Guyana from July 31 to August 3. The T20I series will be followed by two Tests starting August 12 and 20 in Kingston, Jamaica.

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Olympics: Boxer Amit Panghal crashes out

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India's-Amit-Panghal

Boxer Amit Panghal, the world No. 1 in men’s 52kg, crashed out of the Tokyo Olympics, losing to Yuberjen Herney Martinez Rivas of Colombia in a Round-of-16 bout on Saturday.

Panghal, India’s biggest hope in this section, lost 4-1 (rpt 4-1) on points, starting the day on a disappointing note for boxing after the high of Lovlina Borgohain reaching the semifinals and assuring a medal for the country.

Panghal, the 2018 Asian Games gold medallist, had drawn a tough opponent in Martinez Rivas, the silver medallist at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

The 25-year-old Indian from Haryana started off well and won the first round. Starting with an open stance and moving around the ring, Panghal made Martinez Rivas come for him and make him work for his points.

Panghal counter-attacked on all possible occasions and landed some good combinations, winning a split decision 4-1 in his favour.

But Panghal changed his tactics inexplicably in the second round and became too defensive, maybe hoping to make Martinez Rivas work hard for points so as to tire down the Colombian.

Martinez Rivas won the second round, getting 10 points from all five judges.

Panghal, whose fitness looked suspect, looked totally exhausted and could not do much in the third and final round as he tried to go after his rival in the last 30 seconds but that was too late and too little as the judges had by that time seen Martinez Rivas attacking a lot in the right through the round.

Martinez Rivas bagged 10 points from all five judges and one judge gave Panghal eight points while others gave him nine each.

Panghal’s defensive approach — whether it was by design or due to lack of fitness — in the second round undid all his efforts of the last five years.

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Isuru Udana announces retirement from international cricket

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Isuru-Udana

Sri Lankan all-rounder Isuru Udana has announced his retirement from international cricket with immediate effect on Saturday. The reason behind his abrupt departure from international cricket was not known.

The 33-year-old had recently featured in the limited-overs series against India. He played in the first ODI followed by the first two T20Is but had no wickets against his name.

“I believe the time has come for me to make way for the next generation of players. It is with immense pride and passion, and unfathomable commitment that I have represented and served my country,” said Udana in a press release by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Udana made his debut for Sri Lanka in the 2009 T20 World Cup where he took two wickets against Australia. In 21 ODIs and 34 T20Is for Sri Lanka, the left-arm pacer took 18 and 27 wickets at an average of 52.78 and 33.89 respectively.

As a batsman, he scored 237 ODI and 256 T20I runs at an average of 16.92 and 18.28 with highest scores of 78 and 84 respectively.

Udana was known mostly for his variety and changes of pace with the white ball, especially on slower pitches. He was capable of moving the ball off the seam and possessed a repertoire of slower deliveries, including the back-of-the-hand delivery.

He was also the only Sri Lankan player to feature in the 2020 edition of the IPL, representing Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). In RCB’s run to the play-offs, Udana took eight wickets in 10 matches at an average of 35.25 with an economy rate of 9.75.

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