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Khawaja gives Australia fitness boost ahead of India Tests

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Usman Khawaja gave Australia a major fitness boost ahead of next month’s home Test series against India, claiming he was ahead of schedule in his recovery from a meniscal tear. Khawaja, who went underwent surgery on October 23 to repair his knee, is targetting an early return that’ll see him play one Sheffield Shield game before the Adelaide Test starts on December 6.

 

Khawaja picked up the injury at a throwing drill during the Abu Dhabi Test against Pakistan last month. Thankfully he hadn’t re-torn his Anterior Cruciate Ligament that he’d first damaged in 2014, but the injury originally seemed set to keep him on the sidelines for a significant duration.

 

 

“In an ideal world I would like to play a Shield game before then (the first Test). That’s the target, that’s the goal, but just have to see. Still three weeks until then, so if everything keeps going the same way it should be good,” Khawaja said on Thursday (November 8).

 

“It’s going pretty well so far, just over two weeks, ran at 100% yesterday on the treadmill, hopefully run outside tomorrow, so progressing well so far. The docs and everyone have been really happy with the progress, there’s a long way to go, just taking it day by day at the moment but hoping to be right sooner rather than later.

 

“I’m trying to keep it cool, but it’s actually going really well. I feel like I’m a little bit ahead of where I should be and, at the moment, things are progressing well but it’s a long way still to go. If I keep doing the little things right, looking after my body and being disciplined, hopefully that’ll transition to me coming back in time,” he added.

 

The 31-year-old, who banished demons of his supposed inability to handle spin with an inspirational 141 in Dubai, said he was still gutted at not being able to contribute in the second Test that Australia lost by 373 runs to concede the series.

 

“It was disappointing, that second Test. You always feel like you let your teammates down when you get injured and we did lose that second match. For me it was rewarding that first match that we got out of it with a draw but obviously I would have liked to have played that second match and won that game.”

 

The untimely injury also cost the southpaw a possible return to the ODI team in the series against South Africa. However, given Australia’s recent struggles in the 50-over format – they’ve won only one game in 2018 so far – his dream of securing a place in next year’s World Cup squad hasn’t dissipated. “Targeting that World Cup is a big thing,” Khawaja said.

 

“It’s one of my major goals to get back into the one-day side, I’ve had chats to Justin [Langer] about it, he knows where I’m at too, but at the end of the day, we play a game, it’s all about performances. Hopefully when I’m right and things are going well, I’ll put my hand up through performances.

 

“But the guys playing in the one day side are very good players. I have no doubt they’ll come back strong. It’s been a tough time for Australian cricket in more respects than just on-field, so it’d be nice as a fan and a mate to a lot of those guys to see them do well.”

 


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I am the greatest player in the world: Gayle after announcing retirement

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Dubai: West Indies swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle, who recently announced that he would bid adieu to one-day internationals after the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup 2019 in England and Wales, has described himself as the “greatest player in the world”.

When quizzed if he is satisfied with his career, the 29-year-old said that he is a great man and that he would take the tag of the “Universe Boss” to his grave.

“You’re looking at a great man.I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course I’m still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I’ll take that to the grave,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Gayle as saying.

 

Looking forward to a fairy-tale swansong by winning the May 30 to July 14 showpiece event, the 39-year-old said that it is time to give opportunities to youngsters to come forward and show their talent.

“Yes, I’m looking to draw the line after the World Cup. Or should I say cut the string? Definitely, in 50-over cricket, the World Cup is the end for me. I’ll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun,” Gayle said.

“Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I’ll be looking to put my input in as well,” he added.

However, it will not be an end of the international career for Gayle as he has not ruled out playing for West Indies in the ICC World T20 in Australia in late 2020, when he will be 41-year-old.

While stressing that his body is feeling good at the moment, Gayle further hoped to feature in England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) inaugural 100-ball competition in 2020.

“If I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament. I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say ‘thank you guys; bring in a youngster now.’ I’ll set the trend like I did in all tournaments around the world,” the Caribbean star said.

“I’m in good condition. The body is feeling good and I’m pleased with that. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I don’t want to get too big. I’m still working on my six pack. I’m trying to keep up with the youngsters in the field who are like cats the way they chase the ball. I still have it in me and I’m still enjoying it,”he continued.

Gayle, who made his debut in 1999 during an ODI series against Bangladesh, has appeared in a total of 284 matches in the 50-over format and scored 9,727 runs, including 29 centuries and 49 fifties. He also notched 1,607 runs in 56 T20Is and 7,215 runs in 103 Tests he played for West Indies.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean batsman is just 273 runs short of becoming the 14th man and second West Indies player to smash 10,000 ODI runs.

The part-time off-spinner, who has a total of 255 scalps to his name in the three formats, will look to reach the 10,000-run mark when he will lock horns with England in the five-match ODI series beginning February 20 in Barbados.

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Covering of Imran Khan Pictures in India ‘Regrettable’, Says PCB

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Islamabad:The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it will take up with the BCCI the “regrettable” removal of pictures of its former players at venues in India after the Pulwama attack.

PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan, in a statement issued , 17 February, said the issue will be raised during an ICC meeting scheduled to held in Dubai next month.

This comes after the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai covered a portrait of former Pakistan captain and present prime minister Imran Khan, as a sign of protesting against the ghastly attack , 14 February, which claimed the lives of 40 CRPF jawans.

 

“… covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.”

In addition to CCI’s move, the Punjab Cricket Association too removed photographs of Pakistani cricketers from various points inside the PCA Stadium in Mohali.

Elsewhere, IMG Reliance announced its withdrawal as the official production partner for the Pakistan Super League to protest against the Pulwama attack.

“… we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.”

Reacting to IMG Reliance’s pull-out as broadcasters of PSL 2019, Wasim said: “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place.”

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Messi the only player in the world who can win a game on his own : Anderson

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London: Former Barcelona striker Sonny Anderson says Lionel Messi can win any game on his own, but he understands why coach Ernesto Valverde has left him out of his team this season.

The Spanish champions are preparing to face another of Anderson’s former sides Lyon in the Champions League.

Messi has been left out of Valverde’s team on a number of occasions this term, most significantly for the Copa del Rey semi-final draw against Real Madrid earlier in February.

 

And ahead of Champions League last-16 first leg, Anderson was sympathetic with Valverde’s need to rotate his star man in order to get the best out of him.

In an exclusive interview with Goal, the Brazilian said: “Messi is one hundred per cent capable of winning any game on his own and at any moment he wants, and that is why he [Valverde] takes care of him at Barcelona.

“He wants him to be at his best. Barcelona will suffer a lot when he is not there, so I see very well that they take care of him.

“I fully understand that he was not in the starting line against Real Madrid, and that the team has the quality to play some games without Messi.

“But as a rule he [Valverde] has to try to get the most out of him because he is the only player in the world capable of deciding a game on his own.”

Barca go into the tie against the Ligue 1 outfit as favourites to progress, but to do so they will have to find a way past a team that has already got the better of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Lyon edged through to the last-16 after finishing second behind City in the group stage, and needed a hard-fought draw against Shakhtar Donetsk on the final matchday to ensure progression.

“The Lyon game is more difficult than it seems,” said Anderson. “Already against Manchester City and PSG, they have made good duels this season. It is a team that usually improves when playing against the strongest in Europe.

“I think with or without Messi, it will be very difficult for them. Lyon can get a good result at home but at Camp Nou it will be very difficult for them to do what Messi does.”

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