Lakmal strikes give Sri Lanka hope on final day

Sri Lanka’s Suranga Lakmal, left, celebrates the dismissal of India’s Lokesh Rahul, right, during the fifth day of their first test cricket match in Kolkata, India, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Lakmal strikes give Sri Lanka hope on final day

KOLKATA: Paceman Suranga Lakmal took three key India wickets on Monday’s final day of the first Test to give Sri Lanka hope of claiming a historic victory.
India were 251 for five at lunch, stretching their second innings lead to 129. Skipper Virat Kohli was on 41 with Ravichandran Ashwin yet to score.
The hosts were bowled out for 172 in their first innings at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, while Sri Lanka, who have never won a Test in India, made 294.
India resumed their second innings on 171-1 Monday and the batsman played positively, going for boundaries, but Lakmal soon bowled Lokesh Rahul for 79 to check the surge.
Lakmal tested the batsmen with his probing line and length and was rewarded with the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara, who added 20 to his overnight two.
Pujara was taken by surprise by an awkward bouncer and gave a leading edge to gully where Dilruwan Perera took a sensational catch diving forward.
Ajinkya Rahane became Lakmal’s third victim when trapped lbw for a duck as the hosts slipped to 213 for four.
Off-spinner Perera then sent back Ravindra Jadeja for nine.
Kohli, after a tentative start, remained solid during his 71-ball stay.
India’s 166-run opening stand between Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, who made 94, enabled them to bounce back after conceding a 122-run first innings lead on day four of the rain-affected match, the first in a three-Test series.


Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

Updated 21 August 2018
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Al-Nassr ready to challenge for title after signing Brazilian Giuliano

  • Riyadh club have not won the title since 2015 and have set their stall out to win it for the ninth time.
  • Brazilian Giuliano is the latest star to sign for Al-Nassr, joining Nigeria international Ahmed Musa.

LONDON: Al-Nassr are ready to challenge for the Saudi Pro League title after a busy summer in the transfer market and elsewhere. That is the message from the Riyadh club who have their sights set on reclaiming the title they last won in 2015.
The side finished third last season but under the energetic leadership of new president Saud Al-Suwailem, the eight time champions ended the transfer window on Monday by confirming the signing of former 
Brazilian international Giuliano from 
Fenerbahce for a fee of €10 million ($11.5 million).
It is the second biggest deal that Al-Nassr have done since the end of last season after the Ahmed Musa transfer, the Nigerian international arriving in early August from Leicester City Premier League. And having seen the 28-year-old attacking midfielder score 14 goals in the Turkish league last season, the club feel Giuliano is a great addition to their expanding squad.
Not only that, the club has brought in former Liverpool and Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones, former Watford star and Morocco international Nordin Amrabat, Peru international defender Christian Ramos and also welcome back Saudi star Yahya Al-Shehri from his loan in Spain.
“We are very happy with the squad going into the new season,” an Al-Nassr official told Arab News.
“It was already a good one but we have strengthened in every area and especially have added some very exciting attacking players. If the coach can get the new signings to settle quickly then we could have a good season.”
There is no automatic demand for the title but an improvement on last season when Al-Nassr finished 12 points behind champions and Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal is required.
“We know that it won’t be easy as the top teams all look to be stronger after spending on some good talent from overseas,” added the official.
“We want to be challenging for the title, that is where we should be. It helps that we also have a coach that has done it before.”
For Al-Nassr, the return of Jose Daniel Carreno could be a game-changer. The Uruguayan tactician had a successful spell with the club and lifted the 2013 league title and the Crown Prince Cup in the same year. He returned to the club in March and his knowledge of Al-Nassr and the league is seen as vital.
“I think the changes to the team have been of great benefit,” Carreno said after last week’s 2-1 win at UAE side Al-Jazira in the Arab Champions Cup. “We have more firepower going forward and we will look to be aggressive and put teams on the backfoot, and press higher up the pitch than before.
“There is still work to do but we are moving to where we want to be. The league is going to be tough this time with Al-Hilal looking strong and signing players, and Al-Ittihad will not have the kind of season they had last time but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
There have been developments off the pitch too. President Al-Suwailem was appointed in April and has been working hard to improve standards at the club and increase revenues.
Earlier this month, the president went to the UAE to sign a four year sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines that is reportedly worth SR50 million ($13.34 million) a year.
“There is more energy at all levels of the club,” said the official.
“Of course, it depends on what happens when the season starts but we can’t wait for the season to start.”