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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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Punjab fall short again

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Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.

On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.

 

Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.

However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.

After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.

Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.

Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.

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Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC

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Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.

The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.

The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.

 

“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.

“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.

Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.

“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.

“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.

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MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton

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London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.

Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.

Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.

 

Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.

Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.

United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.

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