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Leading in all formats no burden for Sarfraz





DUBAI: For Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, leading the national side in all three formats is not a burden.

The wicket-keeper/batsman recently lead Pakistan to a Test series win against Australia, and two consecutive Twenty20 International series triumphs against the Aussies and New Zealand respectively.

Former Pakistan batsman Mohsin Khan, however, believes Sarfraz will struggle if he keeps continuing to captain Pakistan in all the formats.

“With Sarfraz I was saying you got a new guy in, don’t put the burden of three formats on him. It will take such a physical load on him, T20s, ODIs and then Tests if he is captain he will not get any mental relaxation,” Mohsin, the recently-appointed Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Cricket Committee head, said on a private channel.

None of that bothers Sarfraz, though. The captain is looking forward to more wins and getting his team ready for the all-important 2019 World Cup in England.

“I just want to say that I want to play cricket,” Sarfraz told Dawn on Sunday.

“As a player and as captain I feel no pressure. I’m trying to manage everything with the best of my abilities and I hope things will improve further,” he added.

Sarfraz said he is not overly dependent on results to keep the team and himself as an individual confident and the team is moving towards the right direction.

“As we all know results can change — sometimes you win and some times you lose but as captain I’m confident about how things are progressing,” said the 31-year-old.

Pakistan’s six-wicket win in their second T20 against New Zealand marked Sarfraz Ahmed’s 11th consecutive series win in the format.

The captain believed the success is the result of the joint effort by the whole Pakistan camp.

“I’m very happy about this winning streak,” he said. “Winning 11 consecutive T20 series is a great feat and the credit goes to the team management and the players for the wonderful performances.

“May be as a team we are not applauded as much but still I’m very happy.”

Pakistan will take on New Zealand in a three-match ODI series with the first match set to take place in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

With recent assurances of dominance in T20s and Tests, Sarfraz said now it’s time to repeat it in the 50-overs format.

Sarfraz said he will make use of the upcoming matches to prepare for next year’s World Cup.

“The ICC Cricket World is a big event. Everyone knows the value of the event and I’m trying to make a good combination ahead of the World Cup,” said Sarfraz.

“My real aim is to analyse our positive and weak points so we are fully sorted before entering the World Cup.”

Sarfraz was also full of praise for medium-pacer Mohammad Abbas who was destructive during Pakistan’s 1-0 Test series triumph against Australia.

Abbas took an impressive 17 wickets in the series and became the joint second-fastest bowler to bag 50 wickets for Pakistan.

Sarfraz hinted Abbas can make it to the ODI squad ahead of the World Cup.

“Abbas’ performance clearly shows that he has the credentials to become a world class bowler. At the moment we have lots of good fast bowlers in ODI cricket but we can give him a chance,” he said.

The Pakistan captain also expressed his happiness over the return of veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez back in the national team fold.

“Hafeez Bhai really made a great come back in to the national side. I’m really happy the way he is performing at the moment. His consistency in batting helps the team a lot and I’m hopeful for the same in the coming series,” said Sarfraz.



Give silent treatment to Kohli: Faf du Plessis’s advice to Australia




Mumbai : South Africa captain Faf du Plessis has urged Australia to give Virat Kohli who is currently the world’s top-ranked Test batsman, the ‘silent treatment’ as the two sides gear up to engage in a cricketing series from November 21.

The 34-year-old believes that their decision to avoided engaging Kohli during the three-match Test series against India earlier this year certainly played a key role in their 2-1 truimph.

“There are guys like that in international cricket (who enjoy the confrontation). We feel like that when we play against someone like Virat Kohli,” said du Plessis.

“He’s a similar character (to du Plessis), he wants to get into the fight.”

“There’s one or two guys in each team around the world that we as a team discuss before playing against them. We’re like, ‘better not say too much to him because you’ll get him going.”

“He’s an amazing player. We gave him the silent treatment and he still scored runs in South Africa, but we felt like it was not huge runs– he scored the one hundred there in Centurion when the wicket was slow.”

“So every team will have what they think works– for us, that was silent treatment,” he added.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli insisted that he had matured as a player and promised to not start arguments against the Australians, but only finish them during a media briefing before leaving for the Australia tour.

“If they (Australia) want to play a certain way, we will reciprocate,” said Kohli.

“That is how the game of cricket goes. But at the same time, in our own minds we have to keep it competitive.”

“We were always the ones giving it back, we were never the ones starting anything.”

“So long as it doesn’t start, we have no problem just focusing on our game and doing what we need to do,” he added.

India’s tour of Australia will commence on November 21 with the first T20 International between the two sides all set to take place at “The Gabba”.

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Hardik’s absence will hurt, says Hussey




New Delhi: Mike Hussey, who has a fair idea about the current crop of India players, feels that all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s absence will “hurt” the visitors in the upcoming Test series against Australia. The series starts on December 6 in Adelaide.

Pandya is undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a lower-back injury during the Asia Cup in Dubai last September. “I think Hardik is a wonderful talent and I am sure his game style would have been suited to the Australian conditions. Add to that, the balance he offers the team with his all-round abilities, yes I think his absence will hurt India,” Hussey said.

India have a good chance of doing well against a depleted Australia but ‘Mr Cricket’ is confident that the home team’s seasoned bowling attack will test some of the younger batsmen in the visiting team. India are being dubbed as favourites in many quarters primarily due to the absence of Steve Smith and David Warner.

But India could face a different challenge with the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant and Hanuma Vihari set to face Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon for the first time. “I do think India have a good chance as they have an excellent team with some very good fast bowlers. However, I think Australia’s bowling attack is world class and will challenge the Indian team, particularly the younger players in Australian conditions. Australia always play well at home and hence will be very hard to beat.”

Virat Kohli remains the biggest threat to Australia having scored four hundreds during the 2014-15 series and Hussey reckoned that the home team bowlers need to be patient against the Indian skipper.

“The Australians will prepare well against Kohli, but it comes down to execution. In my view the Aussies need to be incredibly patient and disciplined for long periods of time against a world class player like Kohli,” said the 43-year-old, who has played 79 Tests and 185 ODIs for Australia.

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Brazil edge Uruguay after disputed penalty

Football Friendlies




London : Neymar scored a contested second-half penalty to give Brazil a 1-0 friendly win over Uruguay and bring some joy to their fans on a gloomy at the Emirates Stadium in London.

The forward was again the stand-out Brazil player and he coolly side-footed home his 60th international goal in the 76th minute after Diego Laxalt brought down Danilo, although Uruguay claimed there was a handball in the build-up.

Until then Brazil had looked the more vulnerable of the two sides with Alisson making three fine saves, including a superb stop from a Luis Suarez free kick early in the second half.

It was Brazil’s fifth win in a row since they were knocked out of this year’s World Cup in the quarter-finals by Belgium.

“It was a tough game. Uruguay are always strong and very competitive,” said Brazil midfielder Walace. “We were patient and when the opportunity arose from the penalty spot we deserved the goal.”

On a dark and drizzly night at Arsenal’s ground in London, the game matched the weather with few bright moments.

Many of the players know each other well from club football and their familiarity was evident in their hugs and smiles before, during and after the game.

There was no lack of commitment, however, as niggly tackles flew in a clash that featured eight yellow cards, including one for Luis Suarez who thought Uruguay should have been given a handball against Danilo before he was felled in the box.

Although the fans had little to cheer, both managers had reason to be happy with youngsters Bruno Mendez and Mathias Suarez starting in defence for the first time for Uruguay and Napoli midfielder Allan making a second-half debut for Brazil.

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