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Islamabad United defeat Peshawar Zalmi, reclaim PSL title

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Islamabad : Asif Ali’s clutch 26-run cameo under tense conditions helped Islamabad United defeat Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets and claim the Pakistan Super League 2018 title at the National Stadium Karachi .
After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Peshawar Zalmi sent out the pairing of Kamran Akmal and Andre Fletcher to open their innings, whereas Samit Patel and Mohammad Sami shared the new ball for Islamabad United.
After two quiet overs, things livened up in the third as Fletcher hit back-to-back fours off the bowling of Patel.
Zalmi were dealt a huge blow in the third over when the in-form Akmal departed. Patel had him trapped in front of the wickets and even though he took a review; he failed.
Mohammad Hafeez walked in to join Fletcher in the middle.
The Professor hit the most effortless of 6s in the 4th over bowled by Sami before sent packing by Patel on the first ball of the 5th. Here’s that sequence:
Five overs into the final, Zalmi were 36-2 — not the kind of start they would have wanted in the most important match of their PSL 2018 campaign.
And they were soon given another jolt. Shadab Khan was introduced into the attack in the 6th over and he struck almost instantly, sending Fletcher back into the dugout.
But Chris Jordan looked in good touch. He hit a six each in the 8th, 9th and 10 overs.
Halfway through their innings, Zalmi were 73-3, with Jordan and Liam Dawson at the crease.
Here’s the view from the press box from where Dawn.com sports team is covering this match live.
Jordan hit another maximum before his 36-run innings came to an end in the 13th over.
Zalmi brought up their century in the 14th over but were dealt another setback in the follow-up over when Hussain Talat removed Saad Nasim.
With just 5 overs left in their innings, Zalmi were 110-5 and in desperate need for some late fireworks from their captain Darren Sammy and Liam Dawson.
The curse of Nelson was there for all to see as Zalmi lost two batsmen at the score of 111. First Sammy (6) fell prey to Shadab before Umaid Asif met the same fate.
Here’s the official PCB scorer, Mohammad Imran, keeping an eye on every run scored, every wicket taken.
The wickets kept on tumbling but Zalmi did just enough to put 148 runs on the board for the loss of 9 wickets in their allotted 20 overs. They owed a great deal to Wahab Riaz’s late cameo (28 runs off 14 balls).
They had successfully defended the same total in last year’s final and considering the bowling options at Sammy’s disposal, there was no doubting that they could do it again.
The new ball was tossed to Hasan Ali, who bowled a trio of decent balls before Luke Ronchi’s rampage began. He hit the pacer for two consecutive sixes to cement Islamabad United’s position as the favourites in the match.
The hard-hitting kiwi smacked another maximum off Sameen Gul in the second over, mesmerising the Karachi crowd but chipping away at the hopes of an evenly contested game.
Sahibzada Farhan played the facilitator’s role as Ronchi shellacked Zalmi bowlers one after the other.
By the end of 5 overs, United were 63-0 and cruising towards the title.
United wouldn’t lose their first wicket until the 9th over when Jordan had Ronchi (52 off 26 balls) caught. The New Zealand departed having scored his 5th half-century of the tournament.
Having lost their first wicket in the 9th, United stuttered a little, losing two more batsmen — Chadwick Walton and JP Duminy — in as many overs. But by the end of the 11th over, they were 106-3 and needed just 43 runs off 54 balls to reclaim the PSL title.
Farhan’s 44-run knock also came to an end in the 12th over as United started to get a bit nervy.
The 13th over was uneventful before another wicket fell in the 14th as Zalmi threatened to turn the game on its head.
In that same over, Hasan Ali picked up another wicket, with Shadab Khan departing. Jordan’s diving catch was worth watching.
Zalmi could have had another wicket had Akmal not dropped Asif Ali’s catch on the penultimate ball of the 15th over.
With just 5 overs left in PSL 2018, United needed 23 runs and had four wickets in hand.
A hero was needed and Asif Ali decided to volunteer. He smashed three sixes in a tensed situation. His six-ball 26-run cameo, laced with three 6s, saw United through.
United, the inaugural PSL champions, had reclaimed their title. Luke Ronchi received player of the match award, and boy didn’t he deserve that.
Dawn.com is at the stadium to cover the match live for our readers. We’re sat just behind the VVIP gallery; lots of security, lots of famous faces here.
The opening ceremony ahead of the final has ended. The podium has been disbanded. The stadium is packed to the rafters and the players are all warmed up.
Both the squads have lined up for a pre-match team photo.
The entire stadium stood up to pay their respect when the national anthem was played.


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Most football associations support 48-team WC in Qatar:FIFA

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London: FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said, “Most soccer associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries.”

Infantino told in a news conference that the Qataris were open to the larger format.

“FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over,” he added.

 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.

The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.

Speaking on it, Infantino said, “We are doing football not politics.”

FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.

“Most football associations across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.

“If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great,” he further said.

Infantino also quoted that it was “premature” to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.

“I welcome all bids. The more the better,” he said.

Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.

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Ready to bat anywhere:Dhoni

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Mumbai: Wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, expressed his willingness to bat at any position in the Indian batting order, following a match-winning knock in the series-decider against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The veteran, who was named as the man of the series following consistent performances in the ODI clashes, stepped up with a quality knock yet again following an early dismissal for the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.

The 37-year-old cricketer scored 87 runs in 114 deliveries, stitching an unbeaten 121 run stand off 115 balls with Kedar Jadhav, as India chased down a target of 231 with four balls to spare.

 

“I am happy to bat at any number. The important thing is where the team needs me,” said Dhoni.

“Whether I play at 4 or 6, we need to see if the team balance can be retained. I’m happy to bat lower down at 6. I can’t say I can’t bat at No. 6 after playing 14 years,” he added.

The cricketer was full of praise for Kedar Jadhav, who he credited for providing valuable support at the other end, on a slow wicket.

“It was a slow wicket, so it was difficult to hit whenever you wanted to. No point going after the bowlers who were bowling well, so we wanted to take it deep and that was the plan,” said Dhoni.

“Of course supported brilliantly by Kedar, who plays unorthodox shots. He did a great job in executing,” concluded the cricketer.

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Pakistan seek first win on SA tour as ODI battle begins

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PORT ELIZABETH: Pakistan will be looking to chalk up the first win of their South African tour when they face the Proteas in the first of five One-day Internationals in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s team, swept 3-0 in the preceding Test series, enjoy playing at St George’s Park, winning two of their three ODIs at the venue, with the other washed out.

Pakistan beat South Africa by 182 runs in 2002 when Abdul Razzaq and Saleem Elahi hit hundreds, and then by one run in 2013 in a game reduced to 45-overs-a-side due to rain.

 

South Africa hold an edge over Pakistan in ODIs as far as their head-to-head record is concerned.

So far, the Proteas have faced Pakistan in 73 ODIs, winning 47, losing 25 while one match ended in no result. Pakistan do not hold an impressive record (matches 29, wins 10, losses 18, one no result) in their matches staged against South Africa at the latter’s home venues).

Interestingly however, Pakistan on their last tour to the African country in 2013 when Misbah-ul-Haq the led tourists, clinched the three-match ODI series 2-1, the country’s maiden ODI series triumph on South African soil.

The tourists currently playing in South Africa have been dealt a boost with the news that Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock have been rested for the first two ODIs in the series — Saturday’s fixture and Tuesday’s match in Durban.

However, they will have to contend with fast bowler Duanne Olivier, who bagged 24 wickets at 14.70 during South Africa’s win in the Test series and now looks nailed to make his ODI debut.

Rassie van der Dussen should also make his ODI bow having finished as top-run scorer in the recently-concluded Mzansi Super League, South Africa’s new T20 competition.

The 28-year-old hit 469 runs in 11 innings, including four fifties, for champions Jozi Stars and should join Heinrich Klaasen — De Kock’s deputy as wicketkeeper-batsman — in South Africa’s middle order.

Left-handed Shan Masood could open the batting for Pakistan having impressed in the Tests while pacer Mohammad Amir is back in the visitors’ ODI squad for the first time since the Asia Cup staged in the UAE last September.

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