Apr 212014
Australia’s Anderson begins work in Kabul

KABUL: Afghanistan’s new cricket academy coach, Peter Anderson from Australia, has started work in Kabul, officials said Monday, as the fast-developing team prepare for their debut at next year’s World Cup.

Anderson coached Papua New Guinea for two years before joining Afghanistan, where cricket is a rare symbol of optimism in a country beset by war, corruption and poverty.

“I am excited to be here,” said Anderson, 52, in a press release from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB).

“I hope I can make a contribution to the quality of cricket here. I will start slowly, watching, listening and learning.”

Anderson played 56 first-class matches for Queensland and South Australia as a wicketkeeper, scoring 1,399 runs at an average of 17.93.

“We are pleased to be welcoming a person of Peter Anderson’s calibre to head our new Afghanistan Cricket Academy,” said Noor Mohammad Murad, head of the ACB.

“He brings to us 35 years of cricketing experience both in Australia and internationally. His experience with Papua New Guinea Cricket, a developing cricket country, will fit him well for his work in Afghanistan.”

Anderson will head the new academy, which will seek and train players from youth level through to the full national squad.

Afghanistan’s cricket team have taken big strides over the last decade, gaining one-day status in 2009.

The side have featured in three World Twenty20 tournaments and qualified for the 2015 one-day World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.

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Apr 212014
Wawrinka plays down French Open hopes

MONTE CARLO: Stanislas Wawrinka played down his French Open hopes despite his Monte Carlo Masters title success against Roger Federer, claiming that the sport’s big names remain in a class of their own.

His convincing 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 fightback at the Monte Carlo Country Club sealed the first all-Swiss final on the ATP in 14 years and left Wawrinka with fresh confidence in his big-swinging game.

“I did an amazing job,” said the Australian Open champion. “I’m really happy after winning my first Grand Slam to now win my first Masters 1000.

“When mentally I’m there and I’m fighting, I can play [good] tennis, I can beat all the players.

“I play well on clay. It’s normal that I would be a favourite for the French Open, but I don’t think so because I’m very far from players like Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and Roger.

He added: “I think the big four will always be the big four — Rafa, Novak, Roger and [Andy] Murray. They won all the tournaments since many years and you cannot change that.

“The rankings may be different, but the statistics are the same. Anyway, I will not change anything in the way I approach the tournaments.”

Third-ranked Wawrinka, who fired 33 winners on Sunday, lost his previous two Masters finals — in Rome in 2008 to Djokovic and last year in Madrid to Nadal.

The title was his third of the year after trophies at Chennai and Melbourne in January.

Even 17-time Grand Slam title winner Federer, who has lost all four of his Monte Carlo finals, was happy for his good friend’s success.

“It was, of course, a great pleasure to share this moment with Stan,” he said. “I didn’t feel frustrated, I was happy for Stan.

“I focused on myself; I didn’t want anybody to feel uneasy. I’ve played so many finals already, I was relaxed. The important thing was that Stan had to feel comfortable. Before anything else, it was a tennis celebration on a beautiful court.” AFP

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.

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Apr 212014
Golf: Kuchar denies title to Donald


Matt Kuchar holed out from a bunker at the final hole on Sunday to win the US PGA Tour’s Heritage and hand Luke Donald another Harbour Town disappointment.

“I told my caddie before that last shot that I’m about to make one of these,’” said Kuchar, who started the day four shots off Donald’s 54-hole lead and fired a seven-under par 64 for an 11-under total of 273.

England’s Donald carded a two-under 69 for 274. The former world number one now has five top-three finishes in this $5.8 million tournament in the past six years — but no victories.

Americans Ben Martin and John Huh shared third place on 275. Martin closed with a 67 and Huh – who was lying second, two strokes behind Donald, going into the round – posted a final-round 68.

Kuchar was playing four groups ahead of Donald, but after the American’s dramatic finish gave him a one-stroke lead the Englishman was unable to find a birdie in his remaining three holes.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.

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Apr 212014
English Premier League: We are rebuilding, says David Moyes

LIVERPOOL: Manchester United manager David Moyes maintains that there are positives for the club’s fans to cling to, despite them being out of contention for the Champions League.

Last season’s champions suffered an 11th Premier League defeat of the season when they lost 2-0 at Everton on Sunday.

United were already guaranteed their worst points tally since the start of the Premier League era in 1992 and the result at Goodison Park means that it is no longer possible for them to finish in the top four.

Moyes, however, is adamant that the supporters understand the problems he has faced in taking over from Alex Ferguson and is sure that he can turn the situation around.

“I think everybody knows that we are on track to make changes and do some different things,” said Moyes. “We are rebuilding. The supporters understand it has not been good.

“At Everton there were things that were not that good, but there were things that were good. We need to try and get rid of the bad things and do better with the things we should have done.”

Arsenal have oil in the engine: Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger hopes the returns of key midfielders Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey will help his side secure their place in the Premier League’s top four.

Ozil returned to action after missing seven matches with a hamstring injury as Arsenal won 3-0 at Hull City on Sunday.

The German was overshadowed, however, by Ramsey, who had a hand in all three goals as Arsenal recorded a victory that kept them in front of Everton in the tussle for the final Champions League place.

“Ramsey and Ozil gave us a cutting edge in the final third that makes us look much more dangerous,” said Wenger.

“We knew we had to win. We had that kind of pressure. We could already see against West Ham [a 3-1 win], there’s something better, and we saw it again today [Sunday]. It looks like there’s oil in the engine again.”

Liverpool ready for Chelsea clash: Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers is confident his Liverpool players possess the necessary ingredients to get the better of title rivals Chelsea when the two teams meet at Anfield this weekend.

Liverpool will go into the game five points ahead of Jose Mourinho’s side following their 3-2 win at Norwich City on Sunday.

And Rodgers gave an insight into the philosophy that has helped them get there.

“When they are in the changing room just before we go out, I always tell them, ‘Lose yourself, focus on the ball and focus on the team — if you do that, then we can be a real force,’” he said.

Rodgers added: “It’s going to be a brilliant game next weekend with Chelsea coming to Anfield. The supporters will be right up for it and the players as well. We are looking forward to it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.

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Apr 212014
The penultimate hurdle: Simeone’s passion against Mourinho’s wit

KARACHI: As Jose Mourinho prepares for a record eighth Champions League semi-final, he will undoubtedly be wary of his opponents. And rightly so.

The last time Mourinho faced Atletico Madrid was in his last game in charge of Real Madrid, when he lost in the Copa del Ray final. The last time Chelsea played Atletico, they fared no better; losing 4-1 in the European Super Cup thanks to a Radamel Falcao hat-trick.

Chelsea travel to the Vicente Calderon in the first leg and with perhaps the best tactician at the helm, the advantage of hosting the second leg may be all they need to edge out what should be a well-contested tie.

However, Mourinho will need no reminder of the way his last team, Real, was knocked out in a semi and he would not have failed to see the uncanny resemblance between Atletico and the Borussia Dortmund team that made its way to the final last year.

Both teams have a passionate boss, both put immense pressure on their opponents through relentless pressing and both play on the counter. It was in the first leg of last year’s semi-final that Mourinho’s tactics came undone, losing 4-1 to a Robert Lewandowski inspired Dortmund.

The tactician will know full well that Atletico’s Diego Costa has the ability to do to Chelsea what Lewandowski did to Madrid and would surely learn from last year’s mistake.

‘The hosts’

On the other hand, Diego Simeone’s team made the mighty Barcelona look almost mediocre in the quarters and will be relishing the fixture. However, this is the first real European challenge that his team have come up against.

Having gone through a relatively easy group, Atletico faced an AC Milan team that languishes in seventh place in Serie A and may not even finish in the top half of the table. While Barcelona provided a much sterner challenge, the Spanish affair meant that Atletico knew their opponents.

Now, they must step into uncharted territories and welcome Chelsea. However, Simeone will take heart from the fact that no English team has ever won at the Vicente Calderon. For his part, Simeone remains tight-lipped, “we want to take a big step towards the final, but we have to do the talking on the pitch.”

‘The man of the moment’

While Costa and Koke have been rightly praised for the way they have played this season, perhaps the man responsible for Atletico’s stellar performances is the one who guards the posts. In an ironic twist, Atletico’s best player, Thibaut Courtois, belongs to Chelsea.

Uefa were quick to clear the air on the matter and announce that Courtois will be allowed to play for Atletico, hence nipping the matter in the bud.

Courtois has made it very clear that he will either be playing for Chelsea or Atletico next season and perhaps the victor of the tie may earn the world’s most promising goal keeper as spoils. Petr Cech, however, will be doubly motivated to show Mourinho that it would be wiser to stick with him and a good performance may tempt Mourinho to broker some sort of Costa-Courtois swap deal.

Wherever Atletico’s striker and keeper end up next season, on Tuesday they line up in Atletico colours and just like every other player to do so, they would give it their all. Chelsea have a task on their hand.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.

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Apr 202014
Westwood triumps in Malaysian Open

KUALA LAMPUR: Lee Westwood ended a two-year wait for a title with an emphatic seven-stroke victory to clinch the rain-soaked Malaysian Open in style on Sunday.

The Englishman, who saw his lead trimmed to a single stroke on Saturday, cut a composed figure going into the final round as he notched a clean-card score, including four birdies, to finish at four-under 68 and reclaim the title he last won in 1997.

A four-hour delay due to torrential rain at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club did nothing to deter the former world number one, who carded two birdies after the delay.

He completed his win in style, holing a 20-foot birdie putt on the last for an 18-under-par 270 winning total to celebrate his first title since the 2012 Nordea Masters.

The 40-year-old was relieved to end his two-year drought and claim a 41st career title, including a 13th on Asian soil.

“Yes, this win has come at an important time,” he said. “I am delighted to win. You have to play really well to win any tournament by seven shots and I played well this week without making many mistakes.”

“I always play well in Asia, especially Malaysia. I just kept my foot down, tried not to commit any bogeys and give the other lads any chance.”

The $2.75 million tournament saw three runners-up including Austrian Bernd Wiesberger who carded the day’s best score of five-under 67.

Also sharing second spot were South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, ending the tournament on 11-under.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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Apr 202014
PHF embarks on nation-wide talent hunt

KARACHI: Starting this week, the new head coach of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Shahnaz Sheikh, will embark on a nation-wide talent hunt.

The veteran, who was part of the World Cup squad in 1971 and 1978, said that his priority is to find a pool of talented players to make a winning team for the Asian Games in Korea.

PHF Secretary Rana Muhajid announced last week that Sheikh will be the new national coach, while Islahuddin Siddique will serve as the chief selector.

Sheikh has planned to hold open trials in Karachi, Lahore, Bahawalpur, Peshawar and Quetta, starting this week.

“I want to get started with the open trials right away,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune. “We only have 40 players who keep coming to the national camp. I want to find more players to work with. We need to find top quality players. We’ll begin the trials from Quetta first. Hopefully we can initiate the trials on April 22.”

The head coach said that the next stop for him and the selectors will be Karachi, Bahawalpur and then Lahore.

He added that he wants to conclude the open trials in Peshawar on April 30 so that he can start the national camp on May 3.

“Time is a very important factor here. Once I get the required players I want, I will start the five-week camp on May 3.”

Olympians displeased with PHF management

While Sheikh has a clear vision to make a team for the Asian Games, colleague Samiullah Khan, along with other Olympians, are not happy with PHF’s new management.

However, Sheikh replied to this by saying that the reason for the campaign against PHF’s previous administration, headed by Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa, was the dire results of the national side in the recent international events.

He added that the senior Olympians had given the PHF a four-point agenda, which demanded that the PHF should keep the right man for the job and that the funds should be utilized wisely.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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Apr 202014
Liverpool inch closer to Premier League title

NORWICH: Liverpool edged closer to a first league title in the Premier League era with a nail-biting 3-2 success over Norwich City at Carrow Road on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers’s side now boast a five-point advantage over second-place Chelsea, who will be visiting Anfield next Sunday.

Raheem Sterling scored two of Liverpool’s goals at Carrow Road, with Luis Suarez bringing his total for the season to 30 with the other.

The result was a huge setback for the home side, who remain out of the relegation zone but are in danger of being overtaken by any of the three clubs below them.

There were two changes to the Liverpool side that beat Manchester City 3-2 last week, with Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen replacing the suspended Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, who has a hamstring injury.

It took Liverpool just four minutes to take the lead in sensational style through Sterling.

The winger received the ball from Philippe Coutinho and used his skill to slip past Bradley Johnson before unleashing a 25-yard drive that deflected off defender Michael Turner on its way to the goal.

Goal number two was coming and this time Sterling was the provider in the 11th minute, sending in a low cross from the left for Suarez to score his 12th goal in just five games against Norwich.

Norwich equalised in the second half but Sterling scored his second in the 62nd minute to give The Reds a two-goal cushion.

Robert Snodgrass, Nathan Redmond and Russell Martin all came close to Norwich replies before Snodgrass headed home Martin Olsson’s cross with 13 minutes remaining.

A late surge by Norwich, who made quick-fire substitutions in the closing minutes of the game gave The Reds a scare, but Liverpool hung on till the final whistle, confirming the three precious points they were looking for.

The Gunners crush Hull 3-0

Lukas Podolski scored twice as Arsenal claimed an important 3-0 victory at Hull City on Sunday in his side’s quest for a top-four finish in the Premier League.

In a preview of next month’s FA Cup final at Wembley, Arsenal scored an important psychological edge over Steve Bruce’s team after Aaron Ramsey shot them in front.

German forward Podolski then added two goals in the space of eight minutes, either side of half-time.

Following on from his two-goal display against West Ham United in mid-week, it meant that in the space of five days, he has doubled his tally of league goals for the season to eight.

Mourinho mocks match officials

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho angrily mocked the match officials after suffering his first home defeat in the Premier League in a 2-1 loss to Sunderland on Saturday.

Referring to match referee Mike Dean, who awarded the 82nd-minute penalty from which Fabio Borini scored the winning goal, he added: “Congratulations to Mike Dean, because he made a fantastic performance.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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Apr 202014
Chetan Bhagat — inspiring Bollywood

MUMBAI: Four of Chetan Bhagat’s five novels have been adapted for the big screen; the latest is the Arjun Kapoor and Alia Bhatt starrer 2 States, which is based on his book 2 States: The Story of My Marriage.

The author shared that the film is dear to him because it draws inspiration from his own life. “The key plot is derived from my life, but there is fictionalisation and drama added as well,” he said.

Chetan played a key role in determining the trajectory of the film. He explained, “I was consulted on the placement of the producers, director and the main cast, and we came to a consensus on what works best. After that, it has been completely director Abhishek Varman’s show.”

The author, whose previous books Five Point Someone and The 3 Mistakes of My Life have been adapted into Bollywood hits 3 Idiots and Kao Po Che!, respectively, said that his affiliation with Bollywood has been in a professional capacity. “I come from a different background, and I have a life and career outside of Bollywood. Films are just one of the things I do,” shared Chetan.

At a time where the gap between the younger generation and literature seems to be widening, Chetan is a ray of hope. By letting his works turn into films, he has played a key role in filling the void. “I am not the only bridge [between the youth and literature]. However, I am lucky that readers look forward to my work. With 2 States, the expectations are sky high,” he said.

When asked if he will consider directing a film in the near future, Chetan said that he could, but it’s not a priority for him. He said, “If I can get to work with directors, such as Abhishek Kapoor and Abhishek Verman, there is no need for me to do that specialised role. As long as I can be part of great films, I am happy playing any role in them.”

Chetan, who was featured in Time magazine’s list of World’s 100 Most Influential People 2010, is presently working on his next novel, which is a rural-urban love story. We can’t wait to see what the bestselling author has to offer us next. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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Apr 202014
This week’s most fabulous celebrity Instagrams

Hello, fellow Instagram-aniacs! We are back with the hip and the happening from this week’s celebrity Instagram profiles. We have added to the list some of our favourite celebrities from Pakistan. We were rapt to see that they are just as fun and focused in real life as they are in their respective professions.

Arjun Kapoor and Alia posing after 2 States.

Blake Lively’s picture from her #100happydays regime.

HSY shares a proud PSFW moment.

Rubya Chaudry shares a casual picture of herself on PSFW Day 1

Jessica Alba backstage with Rita Ora at The MTV Movie Awards.

Kate Middleton looking stunning with her little prince.

Gwyneth Palthrow with her kids, calling it the luckiest moment ever.

Ian Somerhalder wrapping up The Vampire Diaries Season 5.

Kate Upton with Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann at the MTV Movie Awards

Nargis Fakhri reminiscing Main Tera Hero memories 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.

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