Category Archives: SPORTS

From Miandad to Naseem: 5 Pakistan six-shooting heroes

Pakistan fast bowler Naseem Shah smashed Afghanistan left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi for successive sixes in the last over Wednesday to take his team to the final of the Asia Cup in a thrilling encounter.

AFP Sport looks at five memorable six-hitting moments in Pakistan’s cricketing history.

Mighty Miandad

Javed Miandad’s final ball six off India’s Chetan Sharma in the 1986 Austral-Asia Cup final at Sharjah still hurts India fans.

Needing 246 for victory, Pakistan were in trouble at 61-3 before Miandad struck an unbeaten 116 off 114 balls.

With four needed off the final delivery, India fast bowler Sharma bowled a full toss and Miandad slogged it high over the leg side and into the crowd to trigger wild celebrations.

Mujtaba leveller

A left-handed gutsy middle-order batsman, Asif Mujtaba took on Australia’s bowlers in a 50-over World Series match in 1992 and hit a six off the last ball from Steve Waugh to tie a dramatic game.

Chasing 228 for victory in Hobart, Pakistan slipped to 197-7 but Mujtaba stood firm and with 17 needed off the final over Australia skipper threw the ball to part-time seamer Waugh.

Mujtaba hit him to all parts and dispatched the last delivery, a full toss, over midwicket to level the scores.

‘Boom Boom’ Afridi

Shahid Afridi won many exciting games for Pakistan with his maverick batting but his two sixes off India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in a 2014 Asia Cup 50-over match remain special.

Pakistan, chasing 246, needed 10 when Ashwin started the 50th over by taking a wicket.

But Afridi smashed the off-spinner for two straight sixes to live up his ‘Boom Boom’ nickname as Pakistan won with one wicket and two balls to spare.

Asif arrives

Asif Ali was relatively unknown when he hit four straight sixes off Afghanistan’s Karim Janat to announce his arrival at last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistan needed 26 off 18 balls when Asif walked in to bat.

Asif watched calmly from the non-striker’s end in the 18th over before smashing Janat over the ropes four times to take Pakistan home with an over to spare.

Naseem heroics

Naseem Shah became Pakistan’s newest six-hitting hero when he walked in to bat at number 10 with Pakistan needing 20 off 10 balls with just two wickets in hand in their chase of 130 against Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Pakistan lost Asif in the 19th over but Naseem kept his cool, with 12 needed off the last over, to smash Farooqi’s attempted yorkers for consecutive straight sixes over long-off.

Liverpool closed gap on City to leave Everton in relegation danger

LONDON: Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to one point as the quadruple chasers pushed Everton deeper into relegation trouble with a 2-0 win, while Chelsea beat West Ham 1-0 to ease their top four anxiety on Sunday.

Juergen Klopp’s side had to work hard to break Everton’s stub­born resistance in a fractious Merseyside derby at Anfield.

They couldn’t muster a shot on target until Scotland defe­nder Andrew Robertson scored with a second-half header.

Divock Origi’s late strike ensured Liverpool kept the pressure on champions City, who had crushed Watford 5-1 on Saturday to move four points clear at the top.

With five games left for both Liverpool and City, the title race looks destined to go down to the wire.

Liverpool, trying to become the first English club to win all four major trophies in one season, now turn their attention to Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Villarreal.

Frank Lampard’s men were dumped into the relegation zone by Burnley’s 1-0 win against Wolves earlier in the day.

They sit two points behind Burnley with a game in hand as they try to avoid playing in the second tier for the first time since 1954.

The turning point came when Klopp sent on Belgian striker Origi in the second half.

In the 62nd minute, Origi combined with Mohamed Salah, who crossed to the far post for Robertson to head his second goal this season.

Origi grabbed the second goal with a close-range header in the 85th minute as Liverpool made it 12 wins from their last 13 league matches.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea looked set for more angst on home turf when Jorginho’s penalty was saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

But Christian Pulisic came off the bench to inspire third-placed Chelsea, lifting them seven points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the fight to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top four finish.

In the 87th minute, Thiago Silva flicked a header towards Romelu Lukaku, prompting Craig Dawson to concede a penalty with a pull on the substitute.

Dawson was initially booked before being sent off after a VAR check, but West Ham United avoided further punishment as Jorginho’s weak spot-kick was easily saved by Fabianski.

Pulisic spared Jorginho’s blushes in the 90th minute as the United States forward met Marcos Alonso’s cross with a clinical low finish from 10 yards.

Burnley boosted their bid for a remarkable escape act as they moved into 17th place thanks to Matej Vydra’s 62nd-minute strike from a Wout Weghorst cross at Turf Moor.

James Ward-Prowse scored twice as Southampton came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Brighton.

TOTTENHAM STUMBLES AGAIN

For the second match running Tottenham Hotspur failed to register a goal attempt on target as they drew 0-0 at Brentford on Saturday, following last week’s 1-0 slip at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

They went into the Brighton game favourites to grab fourth place and qualify for the Champions League but are now down to fifth, two points behind north London rivals Arsenal with both clubs having five games left to play.

With a home game still to come against Arsenal, the cause is not lost but Antonio Conte knows the goals must start to flow again.

“I think defensively we were good today. Offensively we can do much better. But we have to respect the game Brentford played as they played a very good game,” the Italian said.

While Tottenham fans will rue the dropped points, Conte said they should realise that at one point this season a top-four finish looked out of the question.

Man City retain top spot after Liverpool draw, Brentford stun West Ham

LONDON: Manchester City preser­ved their one-point lead at the top of the Pre­mier League after a pulsating 2-2 draw against title rivals Liverpool on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola’s side twice led in the blockbuster showdown at the Etihad Stadium thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

Liverpool hit back to equalise on both occasions through Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, but it was City who finished happier with the result of a high-quality encounter between arguably the world’s two best teams.

With just seven games left, reigning champions City remain in pole position to pip second placed Liverpool to the title.

That would give City a fourth English title in five seasons as they look to win a treble of the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup this term, Liverpool’s hopes of a second top-flight crown in three years have undoubtedly been dented by their failure to take three points home from Manchester.

Jurgen Klopp’s team will need a slip from City during the run-in if their bid for an unprecedented quadruple is to come to fruition.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, combining the four campaigns, City and Liverpool are separated by just a point and the latest instalment of their title riv­alry is set to go down to the wire again.

On January 15, the title race looked done and dusted as City were 14 points ahead of Liverpool, who had two games in hand.

Liverpool’s 10-match winning run in the league had whittled away at City’s advantage, but the leaders’ ability to end that streak leaves the destiny of the trophy in their hands.

City made a flying start in the fifth minute as De Bruyne skipped past Fabinho on the edge of the area and unloaded a shot that took a wicked deflection off Joel Matip before glancing in off the far post.

City’s joy at De Bruyne’s sixth goal in his last six games was short-lived and Liverpool were level eight minutes later.

Andrew Robertson’s cross reached Trent Alexander-Arnold at the far post and he clipped the ball towards Jota, whose low shot from 10 yards beat Ederson’s weak attempted save.

City regained the lead in the 37th minute as Jesus repayed Guardiola’s faith for selecting him instead of Riyad Mahrez. Cancelo’s superb pass picked out Jesus’s run behind the slow to react Alexander-Arnold and the Brazilian forward guided a fine finish in off the underside of the bar.

Trailing at half-time in a Premier League game for the first time in a year, Liverpool hit back 47 seconds after the interval.

Mohamed Salah’s sublime defence-splitting pass found Mane’s run and the Senegal forward fired a composed strike into the top corner to celebrate his 30th birthday in style.

City thought they had gone ahead when Raheem Sterling converted De Bruyne’s pass, only for VAR to disallow the goal for a tight offside.

Mahrez almost won it for City in the last minute with a free-kick that smacked off the post.

Away from the day’s summit meeting, West Ham’s hopes of finishing in the top four suffered a major blow in a 2-0 defeat at Brentford.

Brentford struck in the 48th minute when Ivan Toney’s flick reached Bryan Mbuemo for a thunderous low finish.

Mbuemo returned the favour with an assist for Toney as the striker headed home in the 64th minute.

David Moyes’ sixth-placed side are now six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, who have played a game less than their London rivals.

Norwich kept alive their faint hopes of beating the drop with a 2-0 win against fellow strugglers Burnley at Carrow Road.

Pierre Lees-Melou and Teemu Pukki scored for bottom-of-the-table Norwich, who are seven points from safety with seven games remaining.

Third-bottom Burnley are four points adrift of fourth-bottom Everton, with both teams having eight matches to play.

Leicester beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at the King Power Stadium as Ademola Lookman bagged his first goal since February.

Pakistan lose Abdullah Shafique after a solid start in the first Test of historic series

Pakistan lost opener Abdullah Shafique after a solid start before reaching 105-1 at lunch on Friday on the opening day of the first Test against Australia in Rawalpindi.

Shafique miscued a lofted shot off-spinner Nathan Lyon and was caught by Pat Cummins for 44 in the penultimate over of the two-and-a-half-hour session, extended because of Friday prayers.

At the break, Imam-ul-Haq was unbeaten on 57 while Azhar Ali had yet to score after Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat on a dry and flat Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch.

Australia seemed to have erred in their selection as they went into the Test — they are first in Pakistan in 24 years — with three pacers, a fast-bowling all-rounder, and a lone spinner in Lyon.

In contrast, Pakistan included two spinners, a part-time slow bowler, and two frontline pacers.

Australia’s pace bowlers did not take a wicket in the first session, and Lyon was brought in to bowl in the eighth over.

Lyon, who so far has figures of 1-36, turned his first ball sharply and beat the bat for an unsuccessful caught behind appeal off the fourth.

Shafique hit a six in the spinner’s third over, but the very next ball Lyon induced an edge to leg-slip — only to see Travis Head drop a sharp chance with the batsman on 21.

Haq, playing his first Test since December 2019, was solid as he hooked Cummins for his eighth boundary to complete his third 50 in 12 Tests.

Historic moment

Before the start of the match, Pakistan Cricket Board Chief Executive Officer Faisal Hasnain said the start of the first is a historic moment in Pakistan’s cricket history, adding that it sends a powerful message to the rest of the world.

“The pitch looks nice so we’ll try to put runs on the board,” Pakistan captain Babar Azam said, predicting spinners would play a key role in the first match of the three-Test series.

Australia players wore black armbands in memory of former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh who died aged 74 on Friday.

A sell-out crowd of 16,000 is expected.

The second Test is in Karachi (March 12-16) and the third in Lahore (March 21-25).

Teams:

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah.

Australia: Pat Cummins (captain), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

Umpires: Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza

HBL Pakistan Super League: Wahab leads Zalmi to crucial win over United despite Azam fireworks

LAHORE: With his side needing to win a game that had seemingly drifted away from them, Wahab Riaz delivered at the Gaddafi Stadium.

The Peshawar Zalmi skipper bowled a superb penultimate over of a tense HBL Pakistan Super League match against Islamabad United on Thursday night that ultimately sealed a 10-run win for his side.

United were severely depleted, missing their inspirational captain Shadab Khan, but Azam Khan almost stole a win for his side with a swashbuckling 85 before he was dismissed by Wahab on the first ball of that over.

United were requiring 24 runs to win at that point when Azam, who had already hit seven sixes and six fours, swung his bat. He got the elevation but not the distance as the ball was pouched by Ben Cutting at long-off.

Wahab then gave away just three more runs off that over, ending United’s hopes, and giving Zalmi the victory that saw them leapfrog their opponents into third place in the standings on 10 points.

United, have played a game less than Zalmi, who have just one more game left to confirm their playoff berth although they are now four clear of fifth-placed Quetta Gladiators who have two games left.

Chasing 207, United came charging out of the blocks, scoring at the same blistering pace with which Mohammad Haris (70 off 32) had started Peshawar Zalmi’s innings to set up the stiff target.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz had made opening partner Mubasir Khan, one of five changes to the United side due to injury or otherwise, a spectator at the other end — just like Haris had done with Hazratullah Zazai earlier — as he tore into the Zalmi attack at the Gaddafi Stadium.

The 20-year old Afghan opener had reached 46 of 18 deliveries with five sixes and three fours while being particularly severe on Usman Qadir, looking well set to break the record for the fastest 50 of the season for the second time in the match after Haris’ exploits.

But his attempt to hit Salman Irshad over the fence fell short and into the hands of Liam Livingstone — guilty of dropping Gurbaz earlier — at deep square.

Four balls later, Danish Aziz edged Wahab Riaz behind to Haris and United were 55-2 halfway through the fifth over. After a breathless first four overs, Zalmi could now breathe.

Mubasir (21) and Azam Khan, however were unrelenting. Azam hit Salman for consecutive fours in the sixth over, and added another boundary of Livingstone in the eighth, where Mubasir got a six and a four.

Zalmi needed Hussain Talat to tighten the screw and he oliged. After beating Mubasir on three successive deliveries, he forced him to block the fourth. With Mubasir under pressure and looking to hit, Hussain bowled an off-cutter that the United opener could only hit to Ben Cutting at long-on.

Azam, though, was proving to be an immovable object as he helped United reach 100 in the 11th over.

Having conceded 22 in his first over, Usman returned to bowl the 12th over but Azam completed a miserable day for the leg-spinner as he hit three sixes off him. Usman wasn’t given the ball after that.

Liam Dawson became the fourth United wicket when he was dismissed for four in the following over.

Salman removed stand-in United skipper Asif Ali (11) and Faheem Ashraf (nine) but Azam remained the key wicket. And once he was gone, United’s hopes were over.

Zalmi rode on an explosive start by Haris to put up 206 after they elected to bat.

With United’s bowling resources depleted due to injuries to Shadab and Zeeshan Zameer as well as Hasan Ali being rested, there was no respite from Haris.

Faheem was dispatched over square leg on the third delivery before Mohammad Musa was taken to the cleaners.

The first ball was hit for a six towards midwicket before Haris got three boundaries off the next three deliveries and another of the final one.

Faheem and Waqas Maqsood were hit for a six each in the next two overs as Zalmi raised their 50 in the fourth over with Haris having contributed 46.

He then reached the tournament’s fastest half-century, off 20 deliveries, with a four off Marchant de Lange, who was also hit for two fours by Zazai for two boundaries.

Zazai (13), however, was gone just after he had got going when he hit Liam Dawson to de Lange at long-on.

That, however, meant Yasir Khan (35) joined the party and he welcomed Zahir Khan with a four and two sixes to collect 20 runs off the Afghan spinner in the seventh over where Zalmi reached the 100-run mark.

Haris got the fifth six of his knock off Musa but fell with the score at 113 in the 10th over, caught at long leg by Musa off Waqas.

Zalmi looked for a total well in excess of 220 and Yasir seemed well set to take them there.

But after Zahir bagged him with a slower delivery in the 13th over, Zalmi couldn’t get the finish their stunning start craved.

Shoaib Malik (38) and Sherfane Rutherford (16) both hit two sixes each but United got back into the game, picking wickets at regular intervals while giving away just 41 runs in the last five overs. It didn’t matter in the end.

Scoreboard

PESHAWAR ZALMI:

Batters & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Hazratullah Zazai c de Lange b Dawson 13 12 2 0 108.33

Mohammad Haris c Musa b Waqas 70 32 7 5 218.75

Yasir Khan c Faheem b Zahir 35 24 3 2 145.83

Shoaib Malik c de Lange b Faheem 38 23 2 2 165.21

Sherfane Rutherford c Zahir b Faheem 16 9 0 2 177.77

Liam Livingstone c Asif b Faheem 9 8 0 1 112.50

Ben Cutting c Gurbaz b Waqas 0 2 0 0 0.00

Hussain Talat not out 8 7 0 0 114.28

Wahab Riaz c Gurbaz b de Lange 0 1 0 0 0.00

Usman Qadir not out 6 3 1 0 200.00

EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1, W-5) 11

TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 206

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-73 (Zazai), 2-113 (Haris), 3-135 (Yasir), 4-165 (Rutherford), 5-184 (Livingstone), 6-192 (Malik), 7-194 (Cutting), 8-198 (Wahab).

DID NOT BAT: Salman Irshad.

BOWLING: Faheem 4-033-3, Musa 2-0-33-0, Waqas 4-0-34-2 (4w), de Lange 3-0-22-1 (1w), Dawson 4-0-34-1, Zahir 3-0-35-1 (1nb).

ISLAMABAD UNITED:

Batters & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Rahmanullah Gurbaz c Livingstone b Salman 46 19 3 5 242.10

Mubasir Khan c Cutting b Hussain 21 19 2 1 110.52

Danish Aziz c Haris b Wahab 0 3 0 0 0.00

Azam Khan c Cutting b Wahab 85 45 6 7 188.88

Liam Dawson c & b Cutting 4 6 0 0 66.66

Asif Ali c Hussain b Salman 11 12 0 1 91.66

Faheem Ashraf c Shoaib b Salman 9 6 2 0 150.00

Marchant de Lange not out 7 6 0 0 116.66

Muhammad Musa not out 6 5 1 0 120.00

EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1, W-5) 7

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 20 overs) 196

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-54 (Gurbaz), 2-55 (Danish), 3-89 (Mubasir), 4-131 (Dawson), 5-158 (Asif), 6-182 (Faheem), 7-183 (Azam)

DID NOT BAT: Waqas Maqsood, Zahir Khan.

BOWLING: Livingstone 2-0-32-0, Qadir 2-0-41-0, Wahab 4-0-26-2 (1w, 1nb), Salman 4-0-29-3 (2w), Hussain 4-0-30-1 (1w), 4-0-37-1 (1w).

RESULT: Peshawar Zalmi won by 10 runs

UMPIRES: Richard Illingworth (England) and Ahsan Raza (Pakistan)

TV UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan)

MATCH REFEREEE: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)