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PAK CONFIRM YOUNIS AS COACH FOR TWO YEARS

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Former captain Younis Khan will continue as the men’s batting coach of Pakistan until the Twenty20 World Cup in 2022, the country’s cricket board (PCB) said on Thursday.

Younis is the only Pakistan batsman in test cricket’s 10,000-run club and accompanied the side on their tour of England this summer.

“The PCB will also be utilising Younis Khan’s expertise and skills when he’s not on national duty as he will help local batsmen hone their skills,” PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said in a statement.

“This is part of the PCB’s strategy to appoint highly-qualified and respected coaches across all major centres of the country so that we can start producing cricketers who can represent Pakistan with distinction.”

The board said the appointment of Younis will be “until, at least” the 2022 T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November.

Younis scored 10,099 runs and 34 hundreds in 118 tests, and also played 265 one-dayers and 25 T20 internationals for Pakistan.

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ISL 7: NorthEast just one point away from sealing playoff spot

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Goa [India], February 25 (ANI): NorthEast United FC are unbeaten in their last eight Indian Super League (ISL) games. Ever since Khalid Jamil took charge, the Highlanders have grown in confidence and have produced stunning results from some difficult games.
Under Jamil, the Highlanders have taken 18 points. Only ATK Mohun Bagan (20) have more points and they have played an extra game. Even a draw is enough for the Guwahati-based side against Kerala Blasters on Friday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco to seal their place in the top four, ensuring their second-ever appearance in the knockout phase.
Kerala has been on a barren run and lie second from last, but Jamil urged his side not to take their opponents lightly. “They (Kerala Blasters) are a good team. They have talented players and so we will have to prepare. It will be a difficult game. We shouldn’t take this match lightly. We must fight,” he said.
NEUFC might need just a point but Jamil was in no mood to settle for a draw. He stated that there wouldn’t be any change in their preparation. “We are not thinking about anything else. The preparations are the same. There are no changes in anything. The idea is to go there and give your best and have to be ready in all aspects,” he said.
Jamil has enjoyed success earlier. However, a win or a draw against KBFC will not only stretch his unbeaten run to nine games, but will also make him the first Indian manager to have managed more than three league matches and qualified for the playoffs. Jamil rated his NEUFC assignment as the toughest to date. “It’s a big challenge here in ISL. Here we are dealing with good teams in the ISL. There are quality players and coaches. So this is a different challenge,” he said.
Kerala is without a win in their last seven league games. With nothing but just pride to play for, interim coach Ishfaq Ahmed will be looking to end the season on a high.
“The matches are very similar to everyone. For us, we definitely want to win. They want to win. They have a little bit of extra pressure. For us, it’s another opportunity to sign off from the league on a high,” stated Ahmed.
“We are not thinking about what they (NEUFC) want. We are thinking about us and what we have to do,” he said.
However, KBFC has failed to record a single win against their opponents in the last five meetings. NEUFC won once and the remaining matches were drawn. (ANI)

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PSL 6: PCB to invite 50 per cent crowd for Karachi-leg matches

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Karachi [Pakistan], February 25 (ANI): The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday thanked the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for allowing crowds up to 50 per cent for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2021 preliminary round matches and capacity crowds for the playoffs.
“However, following a careful review and keeping spectators’ health and safety at the forefront and taking into consideration the SOP implementation-related challenges, the PCB has decided to opt for 50 per cent crowds for all Karachi-leg matches with decision on increased crowds for Lahore-leg matches to be made in due course,” PCB said in a statement.
PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said they will continue to assess how the crowds follow and implement the SOPs. “We are most grateful to the NCOC for allowing the PCB to allow up to 50 per cent of spectators for all remaining preliminary round matches and up to 100 per cent spectators for the play-offs and final,” Wasim said in a statement.
“As a starting point, we have decided to immediately increase crowd attendances for all Karachi-leg matches to 50 per cent. However, we will continue to assess how the crowds follow and implement the SOPs before we make a decision on crowd attendances for the Lahore-leg matches,” he added.
PCB Chief Executive also requested all spectators attending the Karachi and Lahore-leg matches to come to the venues wearing masks, maintaining social distancing at all times.
“For the Lahore-leg matches, at this stage 20 per cent tickets per match day are available for sale. Additional tickets will be made available as and when we decide to increase the capacity, in line with the NCOC approval,” he said.
“As Chief Executive of the game’s governing body in Pakistan, it is my responsibility to urge and request all spectators attending the Karachi and Lahore-leg matches to come to the venues wearing masks, maintaining social distancing at all times and regularly using hand santisers. This is not only for their personal health and well-being, but also for those other spectators around them. Come and watch, but stay safe and keep others safe,” Wasim added. (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng, 3rd Test: Hosts need 49 runs to win after Axar and Ashwin show

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 25 (ANI): The English batsmen had no answer to the spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin in their second essay of the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Thursday as they were bundled out for just 81 to hand India a target of 49 runs to go 2-1 up in the four-match series. The completion of the England innings saw 17 wickets fall across two sessions on the second day.
Joe Root and Jack Leach’s domination in the opening session was indication enough that the English batsmen would have their task cut out in the second innings. And that is exactly how it panned out as Axar picked his third consecutive fifer in Test cricket.
If Axar finished with 11 wickets in the game (six in the first innings and five in the second), senior partner Ravichandran Ashwin wasn’t to be left too far behind as he picked four wickets to finish with 7 in the game. Interestingly, Ashwin also became the second-fastest to 400 Test wickets during England’s second innings when he trapped Jofra Archer plumb in front.
It all started from the first ball of England’s second innings as Axar took the new ball and immediately sent back first innings’ top-scorer Zak Crawley for a duck. The flow of wickets didn’t stop from thereon with only Root (19) and Ben Stokes (25) looking like they were in with a chance to take England’s total past the 100-run mark.
But clearly the Indian spinners had other ideas as they kept picking wickets in quick succession to ensure that the game didn’t roll out of their comfort zone for a second. Washington Sundar picked the last England wicket as he sent back James Anderson (0) to see the visitors’ innings fold up for 81 – their lowest in Test cricket against India.
Earlier, India lost seven wickets in 20.2 overs in the first session of the second day as the visitors rode on skipper Root’s maiden fifer. In the end, the hosts managed 145 in their first essay — a lead of 33 runs.
Root became the first England skipper since Bob Willis in 1983 to take a Test fifer as he finished with figures of 5/8 from 6.2 overs. Leach finished with figures of 4/54 from his 20 overs as Rohit Sharma (66) was the best batsman on display for the hosts. The rest had no answer to Root and Leach on a wicket that was turning square at times on the second afternoon.
Interestingly though, the ball that didn’t turn caused much damage on the first two days as the batsmen have found it tough to adapt to the skidding pink ball.
Starting the day on 99/3, Rohit did not have Ajinkya Rahane’s company for long as India’s Test deputy was out for 7 minutes after passing England’s first innings total. His lack of consistency will be a concern for the team management.
While Leach got the ball to skid onto Rahane and the batsman faltered by going back to a full ball, Rohit was the next to go as he missed a sweep off the left-arm spinner.
It was the Root show after that as he started with the wicket of dangerman Rishabh Pant. While Pant pushed away from the body and was caught by keeper Foakes, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel went back in quick succession without bothering the scorers.
While Sundar was a classic off-spinner dismissal for Root, Axar tried to attack the spinner from the word go and ended up giving a simple catch to Sibley at short extra cover. Ashwin and Ishant Sharma did try their bit as they hit 17 and 10* respectively, but it was clearly Root’s afternoon as the Indian lower-order had no answer to his disciplined effort.
Brief Scores: England 112 and 81 (Ben Stokes 25; Axar Patel 5/32); India 145 (Rohit Sharma 66; Joe Root 5/8). (ANI)

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Ind vs Eng: Ashwin second-fastest to 400 Test wickets

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Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], February 25 (ANI): India spin spearhead Ravichandran Ashwin became the second fastest to 400 wickets on Thursday — after Sri Lanka legend Muttiah Muralitharan — when he dismissed Jofra Archer in the second innings of the pink-ball Test at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Ashwin overtook New Zealand legend Richard Hadlee and South Africa’s Dale Steyn. The pacers had taken 80 Tests while Ashwin scalped his 400th wicket in only his 77th match. Muralitharan had reached the milestone in 72 games. Ashwin is the fourth Indian bowler in the 400 Test wickets club after Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
The England innings also saw Ashwin dismiss Ben Stokes for the 11th time, the highest number of times he has been dismissed by a single bowler. In the 18th over, Stokes was given leg-before off Ashwin’s ball to see the Englishman walk back to the pavilion as the off-spinner’s 398th wicket.
On Wednesday, Ashwin went past Zaheer Khan’s tally of 597 international wickets to climb to the fourth spot on the list of Indian bowlers with the most wickets in international cricket. Ashwin had dismissed Ollie Pope in the 28th over to overtake Zaheer’s tally at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
The spinner now has 600 wickets across formats and is only behind former skipper Anil Kumble (953), spinner Harbhajan Singh (707), and Kapil Dev (687).
In the ongoing Test, England scored 112 runs in their first innings while India managed to score 145 runs. Virat Kohli might have lost the toss in the third Test, but his bowlers ensured that the hosts dominated the game. (ANI)

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IOC to begin ‘targeted dialogue’ with AOC over their potential to host Olympic Games 2032 in Brisbane

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Lausanne [Switzerland], February 25 (ANI): The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board (EB) on Wednesday decided to follow the recommendation of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad to enter into a targeted dialogue for the Olympic Games 2032.
IOC, in a release, said it will start more “detailed discussions” with the Brisbane 2032 Committee and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) about their potential to host the Games of the XXXV Olympiad.
“Under the IOC’s new, more targeted and flexible approach to future host elections, the two Future Host Commissions (Summer and Winter) are permanently open to exploratory, non-committal continuous dialogue with interested parties and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) on their ambitions to host future Games. The Future Host Commission gave the opportunity of a presentation and a discussion to the interested parties in the continuous dialogue, which resulted in meetings on 3, 8 and 9 February 2021,” IOC said.
IOC said the Future Host Commission will now start a targeted dialogue with the Brisbane 2032 Committee and the AOC, and will report back to the IOC EB on the outcome of these discussions in due course. “If all the requirements are met, the IOC EB can propose the election of the future host of the Games of XXXV Olympiad to the IOC Session. If the discussions are not successfully concluded, Brisbane 2032 will rejoin the continuous dialogue,” it added.
“At the same time, the Future Host Commission will also maintain the continuous dialogue with the other interested parties, in order to further develop their excellent and promising projects, be it for the Olympic Games 2032 if the Targeted Dialogue with Brisbane 2032 and the AOC is not successful, or for the Olympic Games 2036 and other future Olympic events,” the statement further read.
The venue masterplan, which has already been discussed with International Sports Federations and the International Paralympic Committee; the high level of experience in hosting major international sports events; Australia’s sporting success throughout modern Olympic history, are some of the reasons why Brisbane 2032 was proposed for the targeted dialogue.
“In evaluating Brisbane 2032’s proposal, the IOC also took into consideration detailed information from independent third-party sources, including the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and numerous UN agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),” IOC said.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “According to the clear report of the Future Host Commission, the Brisbane 2032 project is fully aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020 and the new recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5. It proposes sustainable Games in line with the region’s long-term strategy and using primarily existing and temporary venues. The commitment of Australia and Oceania to Olympic sports has grown remarkably since the fantastic Olympic Games Sydney 2000. This is why we see such strong public support. We decided to seize an opportunity to take to the next stage our discussions about returning 32 years later. In this way, we are also acknowledging the strength of the Australian team and other athletes from across the continent of Oceania at the Olympic Games over the past decades.”
Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad Kristin Kloster Aasen added: “We are delighted the IOC Executive Board agreed with the Commission’s recommendation to invite Brisbane 2032 to targeted dialogue. The IOC EB and the Commission noted the excellent progress that it has made, the strength of its proposition and the strategic opportunities it affords to the Olympic Movement. It meets all the criteria to be invited to move into the next stage.” (ANI)

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Blue Tigers express delight over friendly matches against Oman and UAE

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New Delhi [India], February 25 (ANI): With the Indian team all set to return to international football in March, members of the Blue Tigers expressed their delight over the two matches being finalised in Dubai against Oman on March 25, and UAE on March 29 respectively.
“It’s a brilliant piece of news not just for us players but for Indian football overall that we will be playing again at the international arena,” All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) official website quoted goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as saying.
“With international sports having shut down owing to the pandemic situation, I am aware as to how difficult it is to arrange matches under the current scenario. I need to thank the All India Football Federation and the coaching staff for arranging this,” he continued. “Both the matches are against very tough oppositions whom we would love to play against, and test ourselves.”
Central defender Sandesh Jhingan dubbed the forthcoming two matches as “massive.”
“It’s a great piece of news which the entire nation was waiting for. It’s massive for the fans, and for us players as well as we haven’t played an international match in the last one and half years. Thanks to the AIFF for arranging this,” Jhingan stressed.
“It’s important for us to get back into the system of Igor Stimac, start training and improving. There are crucial games coming up in June which would be followed by the Qualifiers of the Asian Cup China 2023. The camp in March is just extra days to train and improve together as a team. I am extremely happy,” he averred.
As part of the preparation for the two matches against Oman and UAE in March, the national team will assemble in a preparatory camp in Dubai from March 15 onwards. (ANI)

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