Islamabad :Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed has warned that his ace leg-spinner Yasir Shah will attack a depleted and new-look Australia when they meet in the first of two Test matches starting in Dubai from Sunday.
Australia face a trial by spin as has so often been the case on their tours to Asia.
In the space of six years, they have lost 12 of their 15 Tests with only two wins and one draw on tours of India (twice), one each to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
They lost 2-0 to Pakistan in UAE in 2014, with Yasir taking 12 and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar 14 wickets. But Yasir will now be the lone experienced bowler after Babar faded last year.
Australia will also be under pressure to overcome the loss of their regular captain Steve Smith and dashing opener David Warner along with Cameron Bancroft after they were banned for up to a year for their part in the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March.
Sarfraz said he will attack Australia in their first Test since the ball-tampering saga.
“When we played Australia in 2014 we played some attacking cricket,” said Sarfraz. “Yasir is our main bowler so we will want him to attack and get us wickets to win the series.
“But similarly we will not put extra pressure on him and will not want him to go in a defensive mode so other bowlers will have to support him.” Pakistan will also have 33-year-old off-spinner Bilal Asif who played three one-day internationals in 2015 but has yet to play a Test.
Another leg-spinner in the squad, Shadab Khan, is unlikely to feature in the eleven having not fully recovered from a groin injury, but recalled allrounder Mohammad Hafeez will turn his arm over as a back-up spinner.
Hafeez’s action was cleared as legal in May this year and could prove dangerous for Australian left-handers.
Sarfraz admitted Pakistan’s batsmen will also face a challenge against Australia’s veteran spinner Nathan Lyon who took 8-103 in the drawn tour game in Dubai earlier this week.
“We attacked him four years ago and at that time we had great batsmen in Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq,” said Sarfraz of the 2014 series when Lyon got only three wickets in two Tests.
“Four years on he is a better bowler so he will be their main bowler and a challenge for us,” said Sarfraz of Lyon, who grabbed 41 wickets in six matches in India and Bangladesh last year.
Without Younis and Misbah — both retired last year — Pakistan may succumb to their own medicine, as they did in their 2-0 defeat against Sri Lanka last year — their first series defeat in UAE since making it their neutral venue in 2009.
Sarfraz said Australia’s challenge would to improve their performance in Asia.
“Australia want to focus on an improved performance in Asia, so that’s their challenge while our focus and challenge is to play good cricket and win the series,” said Sarfraz, whose team drew their last series in England 1-1 in June this year.
Austlian captain Tim Paine admitted Yasir will pose challenge for his team.
“Yasir is clearly a world-class bowler who’s got a phenomenal record at this ground in Dubai. We’re going to have to take everything we’ve been working on,” said Paine.
“We’ve faced a hell of a lot spin, there’s no doubt about that and Australian touring sides always do,” said Paine.
TRAU FC qualify for I-League, beat Ozone FC to win second division league
NEW DELHI: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) lauded Manipur club Tiddim Road Athletic Union FC for winning the Hero 2nd Division League 2018-19, and qualifying to the next edition of Hero I-League.
They are the second club from the state after NEROCA FC, to have qualified for the Hero I-League from the second tier in three years.
TRAU FC defeated Ozone FC 2-1 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal to clinch the championship with one match left. The Manipuri side has amassed 15 points from five matches (so far), whereas second-placed Chhinga Veng FC are on 10 points having played an equal number of matches.
Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League said: “Congratulations TRAU FC for the achievement. I’m sure the Hero I-League will be more competitive and challenging next season with their inclusion. I wish them all the best for the next endeavour.”
I want more responsibility at PSG or elsewhere: Mbappe
London: Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has thrown his future at the club into doubt by claiming he has reached what he sees as a “turning point” in his career.
Speaking after accepting the Ligue 1 Player of the Year Award this evening, the 20-year-old French international suggested he would like a bigger role going forward after claiming the Ligue 1 title with PSG this season.
However, Mbappe said that role could come either at PSG or “maybe somewhere else”, casting his future into doubt while hinting that he could leave the club in search of a new challenge.
“Of course there were some disappointments [this season] but it’s part of football, we managed to win this league,” he said after accepting the award on Sunday.
“I would like to thank the players, the coach, the club again. It’s important for me because I come to a first or a second turning point in my career.
“I discovered a lot of things here. I feel it’s time to have more responsibility. I hope it may be Paris Saint-Germain, it will be with great pleasure, or it may be elsewhere for a new project, but I would like to say thank you.
Mbappe went on to clarify his comments when asked if he was saying that he wasn’t guaranteed to stay at PSG next season.
“I said what I had to say. When you are in such an occasion you can send messages, I think I have sent mine,” he said.
“If I speak more it will be too much and that is not the message I wish to send.”
Mbappe joined PSG in 2017 from Monaco, having won the league the season prior.
Since joining the club, Mbappe has won the league twice while also claiming a Coupe de France and a Coupe de la Ligue title.
Mbappe, who was a part of France’s World Cup-winning team in 2018, has scored 59 goals in 86 matches for the club while leading the league in scoring this campaign with 32 goals in Ligue 1 play and a total of 38 in all competitions.
Those achievements helped him claim the Ligue 1 Player of the Year award as well as the Young Player of the Year award.
“This is the only trophy I missed,” he said.
“I would first like to dedicate it to the president, Nasser [Al-Khelaifi], who is watching us, I know he had a tragedy this year so I would like to pay tribute to him, he has always been an honest man with me from the first day until today.
“I would also like to thank all the people who are here. It is the fourth year that I am here in this league.
“I have lived a lot many things that are rich in emotion: AS Monaco, where I was trained, where we managed to win the title, then Paris Saint-Germain for a totally different project, where I managed to adapt from the first year, to change positions this year.”
Asif Ali’s daughter loses battle with cancer
Islamabad: Pakistan batsman Asif Ali’s daughter, who suffered from stage four cancer, died in a hospital in the United States , Pakistan Super League (PSL) side Islamabad United has said.
Ali is currently on tour with the Pakistan national team in England and played in the 54-run defeat by the hosts in their final one-day international of the series.
“ISLU family pays its deepest condolences to @AasifAli2018 on the tragic loss of his daughter. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Asif & his family,” the PSL franchise said on Twitter on Monday.
“Asif is a great example of strength & courage. He is an inspiration to us.”
Dean Jones, who coached Islamabad to the PSL title last year, also sent his condolences to the cricketer’s family. “On behalf of my family and the @IsbUnited players and families… we send our condolences and love to @AasifAli2018 and his family on the passing of his beautiful daughter,” Jones said on Twitter.
Jones had broken down in tears at a media conference in March when talking about Ali and his daughter’s condition.
The 27-year-old Ali was not named in Pakistan’s World Cup squad but made the 17-man group for the series in England where the middle-order batsman hit two half-centuries in four innings.
Former captain and chairman of Pakistan’s selection committee Inzamam-ul-Haq said last month that Ali could be drafted into the side before the World Cup.
Teams have until May 23 to submit their final squads for the tournament which begins on May 30. Pakistan’s first game is against West Indies on May 31.
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