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Friday,03-December-2021

International

T20 World Cup: Asif-Malik late blitz, Rauf’s four-fer help Pakistan beat Kiwis

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Haris Rauf’s superb bowling followed by Asif Ali and Shoaib Maliks late blitz helped Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets in a Super 12 match of the ICC Men=s T20 World Cup 2021 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, here on Tuesday.

The victory sends Pakistan back above Afghanistan to the top of Group 2 with two wins from two matches in the tournament.

A sensational bowling performance by Haris Rauf, (4/22) helped Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 134/8 in 20 overs. Apart from Rauf, fellow pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, Imad Wasim, and Hafeez picked up a wicket each on the sluggish pitch at Sharjah.

Chasing the target, Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan picked up where they left off against India, controlling the powerplay and seemingly sealing the chase. But, Tim Southee gave New Zealand a sniff when he bowled the Pakistan captain for nine.

Fakhar Zaman, who came to bat next, didn=t look in great touch. His scratchy innings came to a close with 11 off 17 when he was trapped in front by Ish Sodhi. Then, a dangerous Mohammad Hafeez looked intent on getting the chase over in a hurry as he raced to 11 off just five balls.

But, the match swung when Hafeez lofted his sixth ball to the long-off boundary where he was sensationally caught by a diving Conway in the catch of the tournament so far’ Pakistan=s chances of victory took another substantial blow when Rizwan fell to Sodhi with the target still 66 runs away and with the top four all back in the dugout.

However, Pakistan batsmen didn=t give up, with Ali particularly being more aggressive, slamming three sixes in his 27 off just 12 balls. Malik finished with a similarly crucial 27 (20), but it was his partner who hit the winning runs, banging his third six over wide long-on off Trent Boult before rolling a two to a similar area to seal the win in the penultimate over.

Earlier, batting first, New Zealand were off to a slow start. They were 42-1 after the end of powerplay with opener Martin Guptill (17) back in the pavilion.

Another Kiwi opener Daryl Mitchellc (27) also struggled to score freely and was dismissed by Imad Wasim in the 9th over of the innings. Jimmy Neesham=s visit to the middle lasted just two deliveries as Hafeez got rid of him to leave New Zealand 60/3 at the midway point of the innings.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hit a few boundaries and he along with Devon Conway built a partnership and tried to revive the innings. The Black Caps were recovering well but a direct hit from Hasan Ali caught Williamson short of his crease, leaving the Kiwis in trouble at 90/4 after 13.1 overs.

After Williamson=s departure, New Zealand=s innings never got the momentum and they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Devon Conway, who looked in good touch, was the next one to depart after scoring 27 of 24.

The next batsmen — Glenn Phillips (13), Tim Seifert (8), Mitchell Santner (6) didn=t contribute much as Pakistan bowlers kept New Zealand in check by taking wickets periodically. In the end, New Zealand were restricted to 134-8 in 20 overs.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 134-8 in 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 27, Devon Conway 27; Haris Rauf 4/22) lost to Pakistan 135-5 in 18.4 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 33, Asif Ali 27*; Ish Sodhi 2/28)

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IND v NZ, 2nd Test: India reach 111/3 at tea on Day 1

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 India were 111/3 at tea on a truncated opening day of the second Test against New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.

Opener Mayank Agarwal was batting on 52 while Shreyas Iyer was not out on 7 as the hosts lost their way after a good start.

Ajaz Patel claimed all three wickets in the space of 15 balls as India slumped from 80/1 in the 28th over to 80/3 at the end of the 30th over.

Brief scores: India 111/3 in 37 overs (Mayank Agarwal batting 52, Shubman Gill 44; Ajaz Patel 3/30) vsNew Zealand.

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ATP backs WTA, asks China to come clean on tennis player Peng Shuai’s wellbeing

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The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has thrown its weight behind the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), expressing concern over the well-being of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view for three weeks after accusing a top Chinese government official of sexual assault.

WTA chief Steve Simon recently said that he has “serious doubts” that Peng was “free, safe and not subject to intimidation”. He also announced suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, with immediate effect till the country investigates in a full, fair and transparent manner the allegation of sexual assault made against a former senior politician by the 35-year-old doubles player.

Late on Thursday, the ATP, the body which governs men’s international tennis, said, “the situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious”.

ATP chairman, Andrea Gaudenzi, issued a statement, saying, “The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.

“We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact,” said Gaudenzi.

“We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves.”

WTA administration and players have been in total support of Peng Shuai ever since screenshots of her social media post were shared on Twitter and the WTA has regularly demanded verifiable proof from Chinese government that Peng Shuai is “free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation”.

Chinese authorities have released videos of her at a restaurant and also arranged for a video call with senior officials of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but WTA is not convinced, thus resulting in the suspension of all its tournaments in China.

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Finally, Test cricket returns to Wankhede and Mumbai is loving it

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Office-goers walking through the ‘D Lane’ in Churchgate area of Mumbai on Friday morning were surprised when a group of people started blowing conch shells, waving India flags and chanting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ as a bus convoy entered the lane on way to the Wankhede Stadium.

They would have been expecting some activity considering that a Test match was scheduled at the Wankhede, but the reception accorded to the convoy must have come as a surprise to many.

While such enthusiasm was a little unexpected but it was not completely out of place as Mumbai is hosting a Test match after nearly five years, and the small crowd that had gathered since early morning, could not control its emotions as the buses ferrying the Indian team made it to the stadium.

The India versus England game in 2016 was the last time a Test match was played at the Wankhede, and with other cricketing activity not possible because of the suspension of sports activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it meant there was a little more enthusiasm among the faithful.

A small group waited patiently for the gates to open so that they could get into the stadium. Hosts Mumbai Cricket Association is allowed to sell only 8000 tickets as the government has authorised only 25 per cent stadium capacity to be filled. With Mumbai police making elaborate arrangements for the Test, Covid protocols are being followed strictly with officials ensuring that people follow the rules.

Though the sparse crowd’s enthusiasm was dampened a bit as the start of the match was delayed due to wet patches on the ground because of the rains, it waited patiently, waving the Indian flags as the players came out for warm-up and light practice.

The crowd erupted in a loud cheer as the New Zealand players, followed by the Indian openers, walked into the field. And the cheers grew louder as Shubman Gill struck two consecutive boundaries off Kyle Jamieson in the second over, with the typical Mumbai chant of “Sachin, Sachin” reaching a crescendo.

More people are expected to come in the next few days as things get interesting.

The last Test played at Wankhede was against England in which skipper Kohli had scored a majestic 235, while Jayant Yadav has smashed a century.

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