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PCB requests Australia, NZ to send teams to Pakistan for T20 series

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Islamabad :The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has requested the Australian and New Zealand boards to send their teams to Pakistan to play the T20 matches instead of the United Arab Emirates.
An official source in the Pakistan board told PTI that during the ICC meet in Kolkata late last month, PCB Chairman, Najam Sethi and COO Subhan Ahmad had held talks with the Australian and New Zealand officials.
“The two boards have been requested to play the T20 matches of their series in Pakistan to help support the PCB in bringing back international cricket to the country,” he said.
Pakistan will host Australia for three test matches and a T20 match in UAE in October followed by a series of three tests, five ODIs and three T20 internationals in November against New Zealand.
Last year, also the PCB managed to convince the Sri Lankan board to send its team to Lahore to play the final T20 match of a series in UAE, which went off successfully.
Before the Sri Lankan’s visit in late October, the PCB also hosted the ICC World Eleven for a three-match T20 series in Lahore while last month Pakistan played three T20 matches in Karachi against the West Indies.
“The PCB is trying to follow a slow and steady process to bring back international cricket fully to Pakistan,” the official said.
He said the Australian and New Zealand boards were reluctant because of security concerns but would look into the Pakistan request.
Giles Clarke, who heads the ICC’s special task force on Pakistan cricket submitted a positive report about international cricket returning to the country at the ICC board meeting in Kolkata.
Pakistan’s security arrangements for the matches against World Eleven, Sri Lanka, and West Indies and for the Pakistan Super League matches held in Lahore and Karachi earned praise from the board members and from independent reports of security experts.
Pakistan has lined up a total of 29 ODIs before next year’s World Cup in England and is keen to few of them being played at home.
PCB officials are also due to meet with the Emirates Cricket Board officials in Dubai this week to discuss Pakistan’s concern over having the T10 league in November or the planned Afghan league, when Pakistan will be playing its home series in UAE.
The PCB has threatened to move its home series from UAE to Malaysia if the ECB didn’t accept their demands but an insider said there was zero chance of this happening since when PCB officials visited Kuala Lumpur in March they realized that while T20 or ODIs could be held there but having a test match was not possible due to the rains and hot weather and other facilities.
“Most likely the series against Australia and New Zealand will be held in UAE,” he said.


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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