Sarfraz Ahmed settles for draw after Australia battle back to claim draw in Dubai

Aussie opener Khawaja scored his first century in Asia with a brilliant, match-saving 141 in the UAE. (AFP)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Sarfraz Ahmed settles for draw after Australia battle back to claim draw in Dubai

  • Baggy Greens display grit and determination to save first Test.
  • Sharfraz happy with character shown by Pakistan over the five days.

DUBAI: Sarfraz Ahmed said he had no regrets after Pakistan failed to secure victory over Australia in the first Test in Dubai.
The hosts went into the last day needing five wickets to win the first of the two-match series. But a brilliant 141 from Baggy Greens opener Usman Khawaja, a 61 not out from skipper Tim Paine and 72 from Travis Head frustrated Pakistan as the tourists finished the day on 362 for eight.
That left the Pakistan captain with a case of what might have been, but Sarfraz said he could not fault the effort of his side.
“We hoped to roll them out but we have to give credit to Khawaja, we must give him credit,” he said.
“We need to work hard — in Tests you learn (quickly).
“We have little things to work on. We should praise (Mohammad Abbas) a lot. The way he bowled on this pitch was tremendous.
“The batsmen who got their opportunities also took them. That’s a positive. We could have won this but Tests are like this. We’re sad, but the opposition also played well and we need to acknowledge that.”
Australia’s hero was Khawaja, who started the day on 50 not out as Australia resumed on 136 for three, chasing 462 for an unlikely victory.
Khawaja and Head added 79 before lunch as Pakistan failed to take a wicket in the first session. The pair eventually put on an invaluable 132 runs for the fourth wicket.
Khawaja, who was born in Pakistan but moved to Australia as a child, batted for eight hours 44 minutes and faced 302 balls before he was sixth man out in the final session. He was trapped leg-before sweeping Yasir Shah.
Khawaja’s innings was the second longest in the fourth innings of a Test, behind England’s Michael Atherton’s 645-minute vigil in scoring 185 not out against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1995. It was the highest fourth-innings score by any visiting batsman in Asia, beating New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori’s 140 made at Colombo against Sri Lanka nine years ago.
Pakistan started the day needing seven wickets to win but nothing worked for skipper Sarfraz, despite multiple bowling changes.
Pakistan could have had Head leg-before off leg-spinner Yasir on 44, but Sarfraz did not review umpire Richard Kettleborough’s not out decision. Replays showed the ball was hitting the stumps.
Pakistan were only rewarded when they took the second new ball as soon as it was due and Mohammad Hafeez trapped Head leg-before with the first ball. Australia wobbled but Khawaja and Paine, who batted for over three hours, ensured a draw.
The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from Oct. 16.


Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

Updated 19 February 2019
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Maurizio Sarri does not fear the sack after Chelsea’s sorry show against Manchester United

  • Italian still focused on job at hand with Blues out the FA Cup and falling in the Premier League.
  • Sarri has lost the fans in a short space of time at Stamford Bridge. (AFP)

LONDON: Maurizio Sarri insists he is not worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.
Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.
France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.
Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games.
Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticized by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute.
Sarri’s fragile relationship with his players, combined with the mutinous atmosphere among supporters, increased the feeling that the former Napoli boss might not survive until the end of his first season with Chelsea.
Demanding Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has acted quickly in the past when managers have been perceived to have lost the support of the squad.
But Sarri is adamant he isn’t concerned about his perilous position and he claimed he is solely focused on salvaging his club’s turbulent season.
Asked if he was worried Abramovich might be ready to wield the axe, Sarri said: “It’s not my problem.
“I was only worried about my position when I was in League 2 in Italy, not now.
“I am worried about the results, not about the fans. Of course I can understand the situation.
“I can understand our fans, because the result wasn’t really good. We are out of the FA Cup.”
Following widespread reports that Sarri’s players are underwhelmed by his stubborn refusal to change his tactics, the 60-year-old did make the alarming admission that he wasn’t certain he still had their backing.
“Of course I’m not sure, but I think so. I think the situation with the players is very good in terms of our relationship but that’s not so important,” he said.
“What’s important is to play and get good results.”
Chelsea supporters called for their club’s former legend Frank Lampard, now in charge at Derby, to be hired and directed foul-mouthed abuse at Sarri.
“Not really very well, but sometimes yes. For everything there is the first time,” he said when quizzed on if he heard the taunts from his own fans.
Sarri believes his situation will be improved significantly if Chelsea can string together a winning run, starting with Thursday’s Europa League last 32 second leg against Malmo and the League Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday.
“It’s really very easy. If we are able to win three or four matches in a row, it will be easy. Of course it’s difficult to win five matches in a row,” he said with a curious smirk that suggested he didn’t really believe his own outward optimism.
“We need of course more aggression, more determination in the situation inside our box and inside the opposing box.
“My job is to work with my players to try and improve in a few days because we conceded the second goal without determination or aggression.
“The difference was there. We played 78 balls in the opposing box and United only 16 balls our box. We are supposed to win.”
Having previously questioned whether his players understood his football philosophy, Sarri repeated that complaint.
“Not completely at the moment because, especially in a situation like the second half, we have to move the ball faster mentally and materially,” he said.
“We need more movements without the ball and less individual actions.”