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Sarfraz wants Pakistan to post 300-plus in every Asia Cup game

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LAHORE: Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmad on Monday expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup and said his desire is to see his team setting winning targets of 300-plus in every match of the event.
Talking to journalists here on Monday before the Pakistan team’s departure for the UAE, which is scheduled in the wee hours on Tuesday, Sarfraz said:” Our preparations went well in the hectic camp set up in Lahore amid hot weather. We did five days practice and then played one practice match and assessed the shortcomings.”
“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he said. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.”
“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup as we got it in the ICC Champions Trophy in the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa and successfully carried it till the final,” he recalled.
“Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.”
Sarfraz admitted that besides India all other teams were also strong and no one should take any team lightly. “I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup,” observed Sarfraz.
To a questions regarding his own poor performance with the bat, Sarfraz said he is doing his best to improve in every game improving get over the lean patch. “In Zimbabwe, I tried hard and showed improvement in batting. Inshallah, I will try to perforwell with the bat in the coming days,” he said.
It may be mentioned here that chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had also expressed his concern about Sarfraz’s poor run with the willow.
Moreover, replying to a question about not grooming a second wicketkeeper as his replacement in case of any injury, Sarfraz said it was not necessary to groom a wicketkeeper with the national team. “Muhammad Rizwan and M Hasan are being groomed with the national A team as wicketkeepers,” he disclosed. “The A teams have a hectic schedule of activities in coming two and half months in the UAE against different teams. And in case of injury to me, the team can call any of them as both the teams will be in the UAE for most of the remaining year,” he said.
“Besides, since the time I have been elevated to captaincy, Pakistan have never played a full series of four rr five Tests But whenever we will be playing a long series, we will surely take along a second wicketkeeper,” he added.Sarfraz admitted that since the World Cup is drawing nearer, Pakistan team will have to find a winning combination and show better results in the Asia Cup.
He said seasoned all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez is still part of the World Cup’s pool of players and whenever the team would need him he would get his place in the team.
Sarfraz denied that he had gained weight and claimed that his last fitness test proved to be quite good.
About India’s decision to give rest to their captain Virat Kohli, Sarfraz said it was their own decision. However, when asked if he would consider taking rest at some point of his career, he replied: “It is just the start of my career, so there should be no question about taking rest at this stage.”
To a question he said pitches in the UAE were expected to be slow and the spinners could play a vital role there.
He praised the work of the foreign coaches and trainers and said the team is showing definite improvement in all departments of the game including fitness and fielding.
He said though Pakistan lacked fast bowlers who could bowl at nearly 150km, Pakistan had a very good mix of genuine pacers and medium pacers to challenge any team.

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Kashmir from the outside is not the way it is over here, says Real Kashmir captain Loveday

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By Rohit Mundayur

Srinagar : Loveday Enyinnaya is no stranger to India. The Nigerian defender has been in the country for nearly eight years in a career that has taken him from the coastal air of Kerala to the colder one that you find in Shillong. After four years in the hills, he returned to the salt and beaches, only this time in Goa. Finally, he went to Chandigarh where he won the league title with Minerva Punjab. His current endeavour, though, is something no one has done before – captaining Real Kashmir in the I-League.

IndianExpress.com caught up with him and he gave a picture of what it is like to be a top flight football player in Kashmir.

What was your reaction when you first got the offer to join the club?

I said ‘I’ll consider it’. I was basically a bit doubtful because this was a new club freshly promoted from the second division. Eventually, though, I said ‘yes’ to the offer.

What made you say yes?

I had confidence (in the club). I also felt that it will be a different experience. Real Kashmir was a top team I felt when they were in the second division and that is why I accepted the offer.

What had you heard about Srinagar and Kashmir before you got the offer?

I had heard that there were political issues here. But honestly, when I got the offer I wasn’t thinking about that side of it, I was only thinking from a professional point of view. Now that I am here I realise that what I used to think about Kashmir from the outside is not the way it is over here.

How difficult was it to adjust to the weather?

I was in the North East for four-five years. Kashmir is a little bit colder. Breathing here is a little bit difficult. Sometimes your chest hurts because of cold especially when you are playing or running. But I have to get used to it and acclimatise to it. There are times when there is snow on the pitch and when you don’t feel like getting out because of the cold. This is the life of a professional, you can go to a hot place or a cold place. You get used to the heat you face in places like Kolkata. In the same way you get used to the cold here.

What do you have to say about the crowds that come here for every match?

Not too surprised by the crowds. This is the first time after all (that a team from Kashmir are playing in the I-League). They like football, and they know the game too. They are happy that they are getting to see it live. It is like when Shillong Lajong reached I-League for the first time. It was the same in Shillong. The crowd here is amazing, you know, they understand football. So we better use the advantage.( IndianExpress.com)

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Smith, Warner’s suspensions ‘could be lifted this week’

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London : Steve Smith and David Warner could have their one-year bans from international and state cricket reduced or adjusted after a review by the board of Cricket Australia (CA) this week, local media reports said.

Former Test captain Smith and vice-captain Warner were handed the bans by CA after the ball-tampering scandal earlier this year and are not scheduled to resume playing at the top level until the end of March 2019.

Batsman Cameron Bancroft was handed a nine-month ban for his part in the affair and is scheduled to return to action at the end of December.

The Australian Cricketers’ Association have always contested the bans were overly-harsh and have continued to push for all three to be able to return to representative cricket immediately.

Those calls intensified after a cultural review into Cricket Australia last month that suggested that the culture fostered in the game by the governing body had contributed to the incident in a Test against South Africa.

That review led to the resignation of chairman David Peever, who had forcefully maintained that the players should see out the full terms of their suspensions.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Monday reported that “serious discussions” had taken place among senior officials over allowing the players to return to state cricket, adding that the board would consider lifting the suspensions this week.

Smith and Warner are two of the best batsmen in world cricket and the debate over their bans is being played out against the backdrop of Australia’s continued struggles in all formats of the men’s game.

With Australia’s defence of the 50-overs World Cup starting in England at the end of May and the defence of the Ashes following in August and September, there is clearly a desire among some Down Under to get the duo back as soon as possible.

Both have been keeping their hand in by playing Sydney club cricket and have received praise in local media for the way they have conducted themselves.

Smith and Warner have both been retained by their franchises in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next version of the competition, which starts on March 29.

Australia take on India in the first of three Twenty20 internationals in Brisbane on Wednesday looking to snap a run of four consecutive defeats in the format.

They then face the tourists, who are top of the world rankings, in four Tests over December and January looking to avoid what would be a first ever home series loss to India.

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Besides Kohli, wary Australia plan to stop Rohit Sharma

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Brisbane: Trap him in front of the stumps with a sharp inswinger or test him with a short ball: These could be the tactics employed by Australia against dangerous India opener Rohit Sharma, says pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Besides India captain Virat Kohli, Rohit is another batsmen that could give the home team plenty of headache in the limited overs leg of the series beginning on Wednesday.

“He’s an unbelievable player. His record speaks for itself. He’s got a good record all around the world, so he’s a definite player to watch,” Coulter-Nile said at the Gabba on Monday.

“But we’ve also had a bit of success against him with the new ball as well–I think ‘Dorff’ (Jason Behrendorff) got him out last time we played him–rapped him on the pads–so we’ll look to do that again early.”

Coulter-Nile also fancies bowling short to Rohit, who has an impressive record in Australia and has scored 810 runs at an average of 62.31 in the last eight years.

Left-arm pacer Behrendorff could be Australia’s trump card as he had troubled the Indians with a sensational spell of four for 21 in a T20 played in Guwahati last year. He had sent back the Indian top four, including Rohit and Kohli.

“Everyone knows he’s a fantastic option up front. He’ll swing it here–it’s beautiful conditions for it today, hopefully same sort of conditions (on Wednesday), it’ll swing early. Hopefully we hold our chances, because he’ll definitely create a few,” added Coulter-Nile. PTI

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