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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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I-League clubs shooting themselves in foot: AIFF secretary

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Mumbai : All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das has finally decided to break his silence on the raging controversy that has hit the federation after seven I-League clubs decided to “boycott” the Super Cup last month.
Expressing his deep disappointment over the attitude of the clubs, Das said he was pained to see how certain clubs in the I-League were maligning the federation almost on a daily basis.
Speaking to IANS, Das made it clear that the aggressive stance taken by the I-League clubs would only complicate matters.
“At times, there are clubs, who, on a regular basis, bring the federation to disrepute by saying all kinds of things. That is something not acceptable. No federation in the world would tolerate this kind of things.
“The clubs are always free to give their opinion, but cannot malign the parent body. Statements like the AIFF is a sold out body and partial is absolutely not acceptable and strictest measures have to be taken,” Das added.
I-League clubs had refused to play the Super Cup in Bhubaneswar in March demanding an immediate meeting with AIFF president Praful Patel to decide the future roadmap of Indian football. However, the clubs did not return to the field even after Patel assured them of a meeting in April. Some clubs alleged the federation was working against their interest.
The matter has now been referred to the disciplinary committee, who will meet in Delhi on April 27 and 28 to decide on the issue.
Das said the clubs were trying to create an issue that simply does not exist. “Instead of coming together to discuss the matter with the federation and our marketing partners, they (the clubs) have almost tried to rebel against the federation. That won’t help. They wanted to meet the president and the president always said he would meet them. In fact, he was busy and was travelling. He sent a communication in this effect. He said he would meet them between April 10 and 15. Now he is upset that the clubs still rebelled against the whole thing and did not play the Super Cup. Not playing football is not a solution. That’s absurd.
“By creating negativity, they are shooting themselves in the foot. Indian football has a long way to go and all stakeholders will have to work together to take it forward. Clubs have to be patient,” said Das, who was formerly with the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Das was convinced the model adopted by the AIFF that would have a top league as ISL followed by the next tier, which could be the I-League or League One, is the best possible way to take Indian football forward both in terms of quality and marketability.
“There has to be a top league, followed by the next tier. There is no truth in some I-League clubs saying that they are being “killed”. While all the national team players are playing in ISL, I-League clubs are also developing players, the emergence of Jobby Justin and (Michael) Soosairai are prime examples. They have now moved to ISL. The clubs have the scope to earn revenue by developing these players. In four-five years’ time, there could be relegation/promotion once the contractual obligations (in ISL) are over,” he said.
The AIFF general secretary felt starting the relegation/promotion system immediately would not be feasible since Indian football is still not financially sustainable.
“We do not have a system right now where when a team is relegated, they could be protected like the parachute payment, which is there in major European leagues. In India, the clubs have sponsorship, they have certain amount of investment, but if they are relegated, many of the sponsors may move away. We have to reach that stage before we introduce changes,” he said.

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We have firepower to post 300-350 in World Cup: Sarfraz

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KARACHI: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed believes he won’t be under any pressure while batting up the order in the World Cup and his team is fully capable of posting 300-350 with regular frequency in the mega event that commences in England from May 30.
The ICC Champions Trophy winning captain was speaking to Dawn over the phone in an exclusive interview .
When asked whether wicket-keeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan, after scoring two fine centuries against Australia in the UAE at an impressive strike rate of over 90, put him under any sort of pressure during the final team selection, Sarfraz said: “First of all, there is no pressure on me. Call it Rizwan’s bad luck if you wish, that I am the captain of the team and a wicket-keeper too. Obviously, it was a very difficult decision for us to drop someone who has been in such a terrific batting form,” said Sarfraz. “I do feel bad for him. But, we had to choose four players for the middle-order. So, we went ahead with Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez. Unfortunately, Rizwan couldn’t make the cut.
“But, it’s a good thing that our bench strength is solid enough to have players like Rizwan waiting in the wings. God forbid, if an injury occurs to someone on the tour, we know we have him in the back up,” he said.
“The team is fully capable of scoring 300-350 runs while setting up a target or chasing. We have some very good players in the middle and lower order,” said Sarfraz. “Imad has been in superb batting form for the last 2-3 months. He has batted brilliantly of late. We have Shoaib Malik who can be very handy. Then we have Faheem Ashraf as well who can hit the ball far. We have worked very hard with him in the camp. So, I am very hopeful that quick scoring down the order won’t be an issue.”
Pakistan will be playing their first two games against West Indies and England in Nottingham where the recent scores were in excess of 400. It is, coincidentally, the same ground where England smashed Australia all around the park last year and went on to record the highest ever ODI total of 481. However, that doesn’t stop Sarfraz from believing that his team can chase or defend any . “I have full confidence in the abilities of my players. I know they will give their best,” he said.
Defending Malik’s selection despite his woeful batting record in England, Sarfraz said that the team is not thinking about batting averages currently. “Our focus is entirely on the World Cup at the moment. [Shoaib] Malik is our most seasoned campaigner. We will try to make the most of the combined experience of Shoaib Bhai and Hafeez Bhai. They are the backbone of our team and they themselves realise the importance of performing in such big tournaments. We need them because the pressure of playing in World Cups is completely different from featuring in a regular game.”
Sarfraz also made it clear that Hafeez will bat at No. 4. “Hafeez Bhai has been batting at No. 4 for the last one and a half year or so. His slot is set and he will be seen batting at the same position.
“If you look at our squad, only four players have competed in a World Cup before. The rest of them are relatively new and have never played a single World Cup game, although 11 of them featured in the Champions Trophy played two years ago at the same venues,” he observed.

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After Gambhir, Irfan Pathan wants to take the political plunge

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Mumbai :Days after former teammate Gautam Gambhir took his political plunge, Indian pacer Irfan Pathan expressed his wish to join politics.
Pathan, who cast his vote in Vadodara , said that he’s keen to serve the country.
“I have played cricket for the country and now will serve the country when the time demands,” said the 34-year-old cricketer while speaking to reporters after casting his vote.
Pathan also congratulated Gambhir for his new innings in politics.
He later took to Instagram to share the following image:
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir from the East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency. He has been pitted against Congress’ Arvinder Singh Lovely and Aam Aadmi Party’s Atishi.
“I really want to contribute something to the country and whatever our Prime Minister has done in the last five years. I want to take that legacy forward. I will try to work as much as I can with an honest heart and clear intentions,” Gambhir told ANI during a roadshow on Tuesday. Gambhir was formally inducted in the BJP on March 22.

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