Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq set for Test debut against Ireland

Pakistani Cricketer Imam Ul Haq. (AP)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq set for Test debut against Ireland

DUBLIN: Imam-ul-Haq is set to make his Test debut when Pakistan face Ireland in Dublin on Friday.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed told reporters at the Malahide ground on Thursday that the tourists would field the same side as played in their preceding nine-wicket win at Northamptonshire, in what will be Ireland’s first Test match.
That would mean opener Imam, the nephew of selection chief and former Pakistan batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, making his debut instead of Sami Aslam, who opened during Pakistan’s drawn Test series in England two years ago.
Imam’s selection in the squad provoked allegations of nepotism.
But the 22-year-old left-hander, who hit a hundred on his one-day international debut against Sri Lanka last year, has made fifties against both Kent and Northamptonshire in Pakistan’s two warm-up matches ahead of this one-off Test.
Aslam, by contrast, made 13 against Kent and did not play against Northamptonshire.
“We have already decided, we will play the same team that played against Northamptonshire,” said Sarfraz.
“We played our first match against Kent and they (Imam and Sami) both played together so we saw who was playing well,” added the wicket-keeper.
“Nowadays we saw that Imam was playing better: he scored two fifties in the practice matches (61 against Kent and an unbeaten 59 against Northamptonshire) so that’s why we go with Imam-ul-Haq.”
Pakistan are without the injured Yasir Shah for a tour where, after their match against Ireland, they will also play two Tests in England.
But they appear to have an able replacement in fellow leg-spinner Shadab Khan, with the 19-year-old taking a first-class career-best 10 for 157 against Northamptonshire.
“Definitely Yasir Shah is a very experienced bowler and we miss him a lot but the good thing is Shadab Khan bowled really well in the last tour match,” said Sarfraz.
“He got 10 wickets against Northamptonshire, so hopefully Shadab will bowl well in the Test matches as well.”
Pakistan’s drawn four-day tour opener against Kent in Canterbury saw two whole days washed out, but conditions in Northampton allowed them to complete a morale-boosting win.
“Two days (in Ireland) was very cold but today it is very shiny (sunny),” said Sarfraz.
“The last practice match was very good — everything was complete, batsmen batted well, bowlers bowled well, so we are ready to play a Test match.”
Meanwhile Sarfraz added Pakistan were honored to be the Ireland men’s team’s first opponents at Test level.
“It is a big honor for me and my team to play this historic Test match — the first Test match to be played in Ireland.
“I think it’s a great achievement for Cricket Ireland to play Test cricket and my congratulations on behalf of Pakistan.”

Pakistan team to play Ireland:
Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wkt), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali


Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

Updated 21 April 2019
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Embiid returns to help 76ers beat Nets for 3-1 lead

  • The 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets

NEW YORK: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points and grab 16 rebounds, powering the 76ers to a 112-108 NBA playoff victory at Brooklyn on Saturday.
Despite a third-quarter incident that saw two players ejected, the 76ers seized a 3-1 lead in the first-round series against the Nets and could advance in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven matchup with a home victory Tuesday.
In the other Eastern Conference game, Khris Middleton finished with 20 points and nine rebounds as the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks put the Detroit Pistons on the brink of elimination with a 119-103 win. The victory give the Bucks a 3-0 lead and they can wrap up the series with a win on the road in the Motor City on Monday.
Philadelphia, down by 10 points early in the third quarter, battled back most of the second half before taking the lead on a run of eight points by Embiid, who missed game three with a sore left knee.
A slam dunk and layup by Embiid gave the 76ers their first late lead at 102-101 but, after an exchange of layups and three-pointers as well as turnovers, fell behind 108-107 on a basket by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris with 25 seconds remaining.
On the next 76er possession, Embiid flipped the last of his seven assists to Mike Scott, whose corner three-pointer put Philadelphia ahead to stay 110-108 with 19 seconds remaining.
Australian Ben Simmons — who added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the 76ers — stole the ball from Brooklyn’s Jarett Allen and Tobias Harris sank two free throws for the last of his 24 points to clinch the triumph.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 25 points while Brooklyn had 21 points each from Allen and D’Angelo Russell.
Cameroon star center Embiid was issued a flagrant foul in touching off an altercation 4:18 into the third quarter that saw Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler Brooklyn’s Jared Dudley ejected. Embiid, who had elbowed Allen in the face in game two, was whistled for a hard foul on Allen that prompted Dudley to rush at Embiid, taking down the Sixers big man. Butler swung his left arm at Dudley, who wound up in the front row seats with Simmons at one stage, to earn his ejection.
In Detroit, Brook Lopez tallied 19 points and had seven rebounds and five blocked shots and Eric Bledsoe scored 19 points for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered 14 points and 10 rebounds for his third straight double-double in the series and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points.
Detroit’s hobbled star Blake Griffin had 27 points in 31 minutes after he missed the first two games of the series with a sore knee.
Griffin was cleared with his leg heavily wrapped but it didn’t change the outcome.
The Pistons have now lost 13 straight playoff games dating back to 2008. In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets — led by game highs of 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists from Serbian playmaker Nikola Jokic — pulled level with San Antonio at 2-2 in their opening series with a 117-103 road triumph over the Spurs.