Oct 072018
Hafeez ton keeps Pakistan stronger against Australia

DUBAI: Opener Mohammad Hafeez celebrated his recall with an impressive century as Pakistan dominated the opening day of the first Test against Australia in Dubai on Sunday.Pakistan were 255-3 at the close of play, with Haris Sohail unbeaten on 15 and nightwatchman Mohammad Abbas one not out as Australia’s bowlers toiled away with little success on a flat Dubai Stadium pitch.Hafeez, a late inclusion in the squad after a double hundred in a domestic match, led the run-feast with a knock of 126 — his 10th Test hundred — during a 278-minute stay at the crease and put on 205 runs for the opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq, who made a career best 76.Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat, and Hafeez and Imam laid the platform for a big first innings as Australia’s pace-cum-spin attack was held wicket-less before tea.Hafeez, whose last of 50 Test appearances came in England two years ago, brought up his hundred by pushing spinner Jon Holland for two after hitting a pair of boundaries off Mitchell Starc the previous over.He was given a life on 74 when Mitchell Marsh could not hold on to a tough chance on the boundary off the bowling of Holland having covered some 20 yards in the outfield.Hafeez, whose innings included 15 boundaries, was finally trapped leg before wicket by Peter Siddle by a ball which beat him on the front push. Hafeez, who turns 38 later this month, was thrilled to be able to aid [Read More…]

Sep 282018
Wahab raring to have a go at Australia

DUBAI: With the mercury hovering around 40 degrees Celsius, Wahab Riaz was forced to head to the ice tub towards the end of a training session with the Pakistan ‘A’ team here at the ICC Academy on Thursday.It was apparent that the fast bowler, who is set to make his return to Test cricket early next month, didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks ahead of the opening Test against Australia starting on October 7 in Dubai.Fitness has been an issue for the 33-year-old pacer, who was snubbed earlier this year by Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur while selecting the squad for the tour of England and Ireland. Arthur was candid in his criticism of Wahab as he questioned the left-armer’s work ethic. At that time it seemed that Wahab’s Test career almost over.But exactly a year after he last played a Test — against Sri Lanka in Dubai — Wahab seems set to return to national duty as he has replaced a misfiring Mohammad Amir in Pakistan’s squad for the two-Test series against Australia.Asked on Thursday whether he was fit enough to play in the five-day format and that too in UAE’s sweltering heat, Wahab appeared confident.“Fitness was never an issue and will never be an issue,” Wahab told ‘The News’ in an interview on the sidelines of a Pakistan ‘A’ team training session at the ICC Academy.The two-Test series against Australia a huge opportunity for Wahab to resurrect his international career and he knows that.“Every opportunity is a big [Read More…]

Sep 202018
Villa striker McCormack joins Bolt?s club in Australia

SYDNEY: Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack on Thursday joined Australian team Central Coast Mariners on a season-long loan deal that could see him play alongside Usain Bolt.The Scottish international, who has also played for Rangers, Leeds, and Fulham, makes a return to the A-League after scoring 14 goals in just 17 appearances for Melbourne City during a loan spell last season.“I’m really excited to get back to Australia,” said McCormack.“The standard of football in Australia is a bit overlooked I think — everyone wants to play football the right way and I loved my time with Melbourne.“When this chance came, I knew it was the right decision for me.”The Mariners also announced the signing of Australian striker Tommy Oar, who has played 28 times for the Socceroos.Their arrival poses more competition for eight-time Olympic sprint champion Bolt, who has been handed the chance to train with the club and prove he has what it takes to earn a professional playing contract.He made his debut late last month in a 20-minute cameo as a substitute on the left wing, nearly scoring but tiring quickly.Bolt admitted he was not match-fit and has his work cut out with the A-League season starting next month.