The News International - Sports

Jun 172017
Show no fear, Afridi tells Sarfraz

LONDON: When he was Pakistan’s captain, one of Shahid Afridi’s greatest ambitions was to win a world title for his country. He failed to realise that dream after having lead Pakistan to the semifinals of the 2011 World Cup and to a first-round exit from the 2016 World Twenty20 championship. On Saturday, Afridi hoped that his successor Sarfraz Ahmed will succeed where he failed. Sarfraz, the aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman, will lead Pakistan in a dream final of the ICC Champions Trophy against India on Sunday (today). “Before I dwell on Pakistan’s strategy for the big match, I want to say that the final has given Sarfraz a God given opportunity of leaving a lasting legacy. The feisty wicket-keeper batsman is still learning the art of captaincy, yet has grown in stature as leader in every game this tournament. My advice to Sarfraz for the final is simple — take all decisions wholeheartedly and without any fear whatsoever,” Afridi wrote in his column on the official ICC website. “In big games, you need captains to have a clear mind since they are the ones who have to steer the ship. Sarfraz needs to back his own abilities to the hilt since a confused or timid approach can hurt the team and dampen the chances of success.” Afridi stressed that Pakistan’s senior duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez will have to deliver. “Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to come to the party for the big game, both these players have contributed [Read More…]

Jun 162017
Kovalev walks off stage in build-up to rematch with Ward

LOS ANGELES, California: Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev made his point then stormed off the podium as he butted heads Thursday with American champion Andre Ward in the final news conference before their world title rematch. There appears to be genuine dislike between the undefeated Ward and challenger Kovalev, who is seeking to regain his three world titles when he faces Ward Saturday night in the US boxing capital of Las Vegas. On Thursday, the 34-year-old Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) amped up US-Russian boxing tensions by taunting Ward and then walking off the stage. “I already said enough and I will prove it June 17. And you get prepared,” Kovalev said, turning and pointing his finger directly at Ward before leaving by the back door. Ward, who was sitting in his assigned seat on the podium, immediately shot back, “Turn my microphone on. Don’t you point your finger at me.” The Russian sent Ward to the canvas in their first fight in November but failed to close the deal and is now hoping to prove his claim that he was robbed of a victory. Ward, 33, won the controversial first fight by the narrowest of margins, 114-113, on all three judges’ scorecards, which earned him the IBF, WBA and WBO belts. In the build-up to Saturday’s contest, Kovalev mocked Ward’s “Son of God” nickname by referring to him as the “Son of Judges.” Three of the four major belts will be at stake as the pair meet for the second time [Read More…]

Jun 162017
Henderson off to hot start at Meijer Classic

GRAND RAPIDS, United States: Brooke Henderson shot a bogey-free eight-under 63, her lowest round of the season, to take a one-shot lead atop a crowded leaderboard at the LPGA Tour’s Meijer Classic on Thursday. The 19-year-old Canadian is searching for her first win of 2017 and she has a slim lead after the first round of the $2-million event at the Blythefield Country Club. She delivered an eagle and six birdies, in a performance that comes on the back of a tie for 11th in her last outing at the Manulife LPGA Classic. “I felt like today was going to be a really good day,” she said. “Everything was just kind of going my way. I was hitting the ball really well and some putts were dropping, which is kind of a change from the last few weeks. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to the next three days.” But the pack is in hot pursuit, with nine players within two shots of Henderson. China’s Feng Shanshan, American Lexi Thompson and Henderson’s Canadian counterpart Jennifer Ha are among six golfers tied for second after shooting 64. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Feng Simin of China and Swede Madelene Sagstrom one shot further back. Henderson’s form comes as she prepares to defend her title in a couple of weeks at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She said Thursday’s round is a confidence booster. “I feel like my game is in a really good place,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to [Read More…]

Jun 152017
India pick Pant, Yadav for WI tour

NEW DELHI: Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav were picked on Thursday for India’s limited-overs tour of the West Indies comprising five One-day Internationals (ODIs) and one Twenty20 starting June 23. The two youngsters replace opening batsman Rohit Sharma and allrounder Hardik Pandya from the 15-man Champions Trophy squad, which is defending its title in England and Wales. Pant, who has played just one T20 international for India, and Yadav were already on the radar after being named among five players kept on standby for the 50-over tournament. The duo have been rewarded for their excellent showing on the domestic circuit, including impressive displays in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament. Pant, 19, hit two fifties for Delhi Daredevils in the recent IPL edition, following on from a 326-ball 308 in the domestic Ranji Trophy last season. His aggressive left-handed batting and ability to handle the pressure of a high-stakes match impressed chief selector MSK Prasad, who described him as a “player for the future”. Yadav piqued interest in his Test debut, clinching four wickets in India’s series victory over Australia in March. The 22-year-old from Kanpur in northern India also put in a strong showing for his IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders. The Virat Kohli-led India will leave directly for the Caribbean Islands after wrapping up their ongoing Champions Trophy campaign. India though do not officially have a coach for the West Indies tour, with Anil Kumble only contracted until the end of the Champions Trophy. [Read More…]

Jun 152017
French sensation Mbappe surprised by meteoric rise

PARIS: At just 18 years of age, Kylian Mbappe is the hottest property in football and the French sensation admits that he has been surprised by how quickly his star has risen. “I always had lots of imagination when I was little, so I am not going to say that I hadn’t imagined it,” Mbappe told AFP in an interview when asked if he expected to have won a league title and become a full international at such a young age. “I imagined succeeding early, but I didn’t really think things would happen so quickly. “Of course I always believed. The players who have succeeded in their careers are the ones who believed in themselves.” Billed as the new Thierry Henry, Mbappe made his top-flight debut for Monaco in December 2015 when still aged just 16, but it is in the last six months that he has gone from a player of great promise to one of the biggest stars in Europe. He scored 15 goals to help Monaco win a first French title since 2000 and won his first cap for France in March. He is now being linked to mega-money moves to one of the continent’s biggest sides this close season, with Real Madrid leading the chase alongside the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs. On Tuesday, he earned his fourth cap for Les Bleus, starring in a 3-2 friendly victory over England in front of almost 80,000 fans at the Stade de France The following [Read More…]

Jun 132017
KHA to organise inter-district tournament from tomorrow

Olympic Day celebrations KARACHI: Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) is organising Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed Five-a-Side Hockey Tournament at its hockey complex in Gulshan-e-Iqbal from June 15-27 as part of the Olympic Day celebrations. The KHA will celebrate the Olympic Day with fervour by staging a five-a-side tournament, KHA president Dr Junaid Ali Shah told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. Junaid said that the hockey teams of all six districts of Karachi will participate in the tournament and will be mentored by the former Olympians of Pakistan. The district teams are Karachi East, Karachi West, Karachi South, Karachi Central, Malir and Korangi. Sohail Abbas will assist District Korangi, Hasan Sardar will be the mentor of District Central, while Samiullah will instruct District East. Islahuddin will be with District West. Hanif Khan and Tahir Zaman will be the mentors of Distict South and District Malir, respectively.   The FIH has directed all hockey playing nations to celebrate the Olympic Day on June 23. The PHF has instructed all its affiliated units to organise hockey events, seminars and workshops to honour the Olympic Day the entire week. The tournament carries a handsome prize money. KHA secretary Haider Hussain said that halogen lights would be used for the first time at the KHA Complex during the tournament. “Two matches will be played daily,” he said. “I invite all the hockey lovers to come here and witness matches at our revamped Complex,” the secretary added. DG KDA Nasir Abbas will be the chief guest of the inauguration ceremony. [Read More…]

Jun 132017
Pakistan?s junior players missing from Asian squash rankings

KARACHI: Pakistan’s junior squash players, who used to dominate the Asian rankings in the past, are now languishing in the bottom of the ranking charts. According to the latest rankings released by the Asian Squash Federation (ASF), Haris Iqbal is the only Pakistani player in the under-19 rankings as he sits at 50th spot. This gloomy situation demands the attention of the Pakistan squash authorities. Similarly, only six players from Pakistan are ranked by ASF in the under-17 category out of total of 249 spots. Abbas Zeb is ranked 5th, Naveed Rehman is ranked 22nd, Khizar Qasim sits at 68th, Daroshan Khan is at 83rd, Bilal Islam at 93rd, while Yawar Ashraf is ranked 150th. In the under-15 category too, only six players from Pakistan got rankings out of a total of 282 players. Asadullah Khan is ranked 7th, Haris Qasim 11th, Syed Hasnain 41st, Hasan Raza 46th, Uzair Shaukat 47th, while Moiz Khalid is ranked 96th. Only three Pakistani players are in the under-13 rankings out of 270, while none of the players from Pakistan could make it into the under-11 rankings. It is an alarming situation for the Pakistan Squash Federation (PSF) and efforts are now needed to increase the number of junior players and provide them enough international exposure to improve their game. Click for detailed story

Jun 122017
Retiring Bolt the ?Ali of Athletics?, says Coe

KINGSTON, Jamaica: World athletics chief Sebastian Coe says Usain Bolt will retire as the Muhammad Ali of track and field, hanging up his spikes as the greatest sprinter of all time. Coe was at Kingston’s National Stadium on Saturday to watch Bolt run his last race on Jamaican soil before he retires at the World Championships in London. In an interview with AFP on Sunday, International Association of Athletics Federations chief Coe said he had been determined to pay homage to Bolt as his glittering career begins its victory lap. “Just instinctively you knew it was going to be a big moment,” Coe said. “This is where his home is. I sense people here recognised that there was going to be an outpouring of emotion and warmth last night which I just wanted to witness. “And what was fascinating is those people who came up to me who had flown in from other continents to be here. People instinctively knew that they were going to witness something that was going to be special and unique, and it was.” Bolt duly delivered a 100m victory in 10.03 seconds for a sea of 30,000 fans bedecked in yellow and green. Coe said Bolt will retire from the sport as the greatest sprinter of all-time, a rare athlete who transcended his sport and appealed across the sporting spectrum after dominating at three consecutive Olympic games. “He has not just reached the level he has in terms of global presence because of three back-to-back [Read More…]

Jun 122017
FIH introduces Hockey Pro League Pakistan to play home matches in Scotland

KARACHI: Pakistan have been confirmed among the nine national teams for the FIH’s ‘Hockey Pro League’ scheduled to start from January 2019, PHF said on Monday. However, Pakistan’s ‘home matches’ will be played in Scotland. The Hockey Pro League, a unique global international team-sport league, will be launched in January 2019. Nine teams from around the world will play each other, home and away, every year. There will be a total of 144 games. The fixtures will take place from January to June.  Pakistan, one of the world’s best men’s teams, will face Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England/Great Britain, Germany, India, Netherlands and New Zealand. They have agreed a co-host partnership with Scottish Hockey which means that Pakistan will play all of their ‘home’ matches in Glasgow in order to avoid any complications as teams might be unwilling to travel to Pakistan. With a large Pakistani community in Scotland, the stadium is expected to be packed with passionate supporters whenever the Green-sticks are in Hockey Pro League action. FIH CEO Jason McCracken said: “We strongly believe that this new competition will fuel the growth of our sport for many years to come, significantly increasing revenues for hockey. As a result it will make hockey a career choice for athletes who will regularly be given the opportunity to perform in big, bold, packed and loud venues both in their homeland and overseas. It will also allow fans to engage with more world-class hockey more often, whether on TV or live at their [Read More…]

Jun 112017
Fuglsang outshines Porte, Froome to win Dauphine

BONNEVILLE, France: Astana’s Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang outshone defending champion Chris Froome and Australian Richie Porte to win the final stage of the Criterium du Dauphine to claim overall victory on Sunday. Fuglsang, a silver medallist in the road race event at last year’s Rio Olympics, went into the stage in third place. But he managed to overhaul his rivals on a gruelling mountain ride, 115km long over three cols (Saisies, Aravis, Colombiere) before a final climb to the finish line at the Plateau de Solaison, high in the Alps. The 32-year-old Dane soloed to the stage win, finishing 12sec ahead of Ireland’s Dan Martin. Crucially, overnight leader Porte was 1min 15sec off the pace and Froome, who started the ride in second, a further 21sec adrift. Fuglsang’s victory meant he leapfrogged Porte in the overall standings, the Australian claiming second at 10sec with Martin rounding out the podium by 1sec from Froome, the three-time Tour de France winner. “It’s amazing! I don’t know what to say. Even with jersey I can’t believe it, I’ve been close to the yellow jersey many times in my career,” Fuglsang said. “We tried to keep our positions on GC and it came down to a big big fight for the overall victory. “We planned it very well with Fabio (Aru) attacking (with Alejandro Valverde in the col de la Colombiere) and everything went in our favour. “We played really smart. Froome had to pull after Fabio and Valv. I tried to keep cool [Read More…]

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