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Potent pacers give us edge over England: Asad Shafiq

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LAHORE: Experienced batsman Asad Shafiq, while expecting to bat higher in order, reckons Pakistan have the potential to come out victorious in the two-Test series in England starting next month.

“I have been batting at No.6 [for a while] in Test matches. However, now I am expecting to bat at fourth or fifth position, though a final decision in this regard will be taken by the team management,” said the-32-year-old Asad while talking to reporters before the start of the national training camp here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.

The camp has been set up for the tour of Ireland, where Pakistan will play one-off Test in Dublin, and England. The Pakistan squad will leave later this month and start the tour with a four-day match against Kent from April 28-May 1 at Canterbury.

 

The squad for the said tour is likely to be named on Sunday.

Asad, who has so far featured in 58 Tests scoring 3,614 runs with the help of 11 centuries and 18 half-centuries at an average of 39.71, believes Pakistan have the capacity to subdue England on their soil, emphasising the touring team’s pace attack would give them an edge over the hosts.

“In the presence of pacers like Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali, Pakistan have the potential to bowl out England quickly. But then the responsibility will [also] be on our batsmen to take advantage by scoring handsomely in order to win the Test matches,” he said.

“Yes, as the team’s senior batsmen responsibility will be on Azhar Ali, captain Sarfraz Ahmed and on myself to lead from the front as all the three have the experience of playing in English conditions,” added the right-handed batsman.

While underlining that batting on seaming English pitches was not easy, Asad said as professionals Pakistan batsmen would have to cope with the tough challenge.

He noted that after the retirement of veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan plus the non-availability of frontline leg-spinner Yasir Shah due to injury the task in England had become challenging for Pakistan.

“Yasir does not ask for perfect spin-friendly conditions as he has the talent to claim wickets on any kind of surface.

Therefore, his absence will make a difference,” highlighted Asad but also pinned his hopes on the youngsters who he insisted had the capacity to fill the gap.

“In Test cricket, every player has to perform as no team can win the five-day matches on the basis of individual performances.”

After suffering surprising series loss (0-2) to Sri Lanka in the UAE late last year, Asad said, Pakistan would be different outfit in England.

“We lost two last Tests to Sri Lanka, which we could win. But there were tough batting conditions in the UAE and hopefully it would not happen in England as we have learnt the lessons.”

While expressing satisfaction over his performance in Test cricket, Asad said he was trying to lift his game also for ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals by improving in domestic limited-overs contests.

The national training camp was progressing smoothly and the main focus was on improving the players’ physical fitness level, concluded the batsman.


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Salah wants the Muslim world to treat its women better

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London : Salah is joined by fellow Arab and Muslim celebrities such as Rami Malek and Mahershala Ali, as well as Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan
Mo Salah is a titan, there’s no denying that. The Liverpool forward has been named as one of Time magazine’s most influential people for 2019 and rightly so. Salah has had one hell of a year. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and was also named English football’s Player of the Year in 2017-2018 along with a whole host of other accolades.
He was listed within the “Titans” section of the list — which includes a record 48 women — and was championed by British comedian and US TV host John Oliver.
Salah however didn’t make waves for being a part of the illustrious 100 but for his statements championing women rights.
“We need to change the way we treat women in our culture,” he told Time.
“That has to be, it’s not optional.”
He added: “I support the woman more than I did before, because I feel like she deserves more than what they give her now at the moment.”
Oliver, a Liverpool fan, wrote an article on Salah for the magazine: “Mo is an iconic figure for Egyptians, Scousers and Muslims the world over, and yet he always comes across as a humble, thoughtful, funny man who isn’t taking any of this too seriously.”

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Kerala Blasters rope in young goalkeeper Lovepreet Singh

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Mumbai : India Super League side Kerala Blasters have roped in young goalkeeper Lovepreet Singh on a free transfer from Indian Arrows with effect from June 1, 2019.
Lovepreet Singh was picked up by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) from the Rurka Kalan Grounds in Punjab during a scouting programme in May 2018 by the National Association. Lovepreet Singh, who was outside of the age bracket, was not eligible for the trials, but he stuck around the trial premises to ultimately be spotted by the scouts and was given a chance.
At 195-cm tall, only Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who is 198-cm tall, has a height advantage over Lovepreet in the entire country as far as Indian Football’s top tier is concerned. He impressed Floyd Pinto in Goa and was given an Arrows contract prior to the I-League 2018-19.
He featured in a single game in the recently concluded I-League against Real Kashmir where he conceded twice as the game ended 2-2.
Lovepreet Singh is an exciting prospect for the Blasters and is one for the future. With his height and physique, Singh surely does have the goods to make it to the big stage as a goal-keeper.
“I’m very excited to join Kerala Blasters. Have heard a lot about the ever-supporting fans in Kerala. I’m looking forward to playing in front of them”, says the very energetic, young member of the team, Lovepreet Singh.
“Lovepreet is a rare find for an Indian goalkeeper, not only is he technically gifted but he also possesses great physical attributes! With Kerala Blasters success of promoting and improving young players, next season should be very exciting”, says Rory Grand, Head Goalkeeping coach, Kerala Blasters FC.
Kerala Blasters now have four goalkeepers in their side with the likes of Dheeraj Singh, Lalthuammawia Ralte and Bilal Khan on the roster alongside Lovepreet Singh. They loaned out Naveen Kumar to FC Goa in 2018 and is unlikely to return.
Kerala Blasters now have a number of Arrows players in their side. Jeakson Singh, Rahul KP, Nongdamba Naorem and Mohammad Rakip feature in the list along with the mentioned goalkeepers in Dheeraj and Lovepreet.
With more and more clubs coming to the fore courtesy the Parallel League action, it is indeed a sensible decision to have a young and lanky goalkeeper in the squad who can provide backup in case of shortage of shot-stoppers in the near future.
However, it needs to be seen whether Blasters do give him ISL game time or demote him to their reserve side for Kerala Premier League and I-League 2nd Division games.

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Super Cup may return as season opener this year

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New Delhi: The recently concluded Super Cup in Bhubaneswar was hardly a super show in the absence of seven I-League teams, but the tournament may return as the season opener (2019-2020) in September-October this year. In the general council meeting of the Indian Super League (ISL) last month, the franchises have been handed out the calendar for the next two seasons indicating Super Cup as the opening tournament.
No I-League club is officially aware of the development. Introduced in 2018, the Super Cup is India’s only knock-out tournament which is played as the season closer involving both I-League clubs and ISL franchises. The format of the tournament is strictly based on the final standings of the two leagues. When contacted, a senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) official said: “They (ISL) have only chalked out a provisional calendar. There is no reason to take it as the final roster.”
I-League clubs have called the Super Cup a meaningless affair which does not offer any prize money. The winners of Super Cup are also not given a berth in the Asian tournaments. The two spots in the AFC Cup and the Asian Champions League are reserved for the winners of ISL and I-League, respectively.

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