Australia captain Tim Paine has sights set on series win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

Usman Khawaja was one of the main reasons Australia were able to draw the first Test in Dubai. He got a 50 in the first innings and followed it up with a brilliant 141 in the second innings. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Australia captain Tim Paine has sights set on series win over Pakistan in Abu Dhabi

LONDON: They may have only narrowly avoided defeat in the first Test but Australia skipper Tim Paine said his side only have eyes on victory over Pakistan in the series decider in Abu Dhabi.
The second of the two-Test showdown gets underway today just days after a brilliant rearguard action from Paine and Usman Khawaja prevented Pakistan from getting a well-deserved win in Dubai.
Those last-day heroics have boosted the tourists who have now targeted a first series win in Asia since 2011.
“We want to win every series we are involved in,” Paine said. “We are focusing on what we do and if we can do well for five days then we have a really good chance of winning it.
“We are reasonably confident. After the last few days we got a little bit of relief and a little bit of mileage, so we know if we play our best cricket we have got a chance to win this Test match.
“We are coming into this Test with a bit more momentum and guys know what to expect in these conditions a bit more,” Paine said.
The trying conditions of the pitches and hot weather in Asia have stopped the Baggy Greens from winning a series since they beat Sri Lanka 1-0 seven years ago.
Since then they have lost 4-0 in India (2013), 2-0 in UAE to Pakistan (2014), 3-0 in Sri Lanka (2016), 2-1 in India (2017) and drew 1-1 in Bangladesh last year.
Paine admitted Pakistan were a “very good team” and his side would have to be at their bests.
“They have some good batters, particularly in these conditions. We know what we are up against and we know they are an excellent team and even better in these conditions.”
Pakistan have been forced into making two changes after opener Imam-ul-Haq fractured his finger in Dubai. He will be replaced by Fakhar Zaman for his first Test.
They also left out fast bowler Wahab Riaz, who went wicketless in the first Test, and will pick one from uncapped pacer Mir Hamza or leg-spinner Shadab Khan.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka great Sanath Jayasuriya became one of the most high-profile figures embroiled in corruption in cricket when he was charged yesterday with two counts of disrupting an investigation.
The 49-year-old has 14 days to respond to the charge. It is not known which matches the charges relate to, or if anyone else is involved.


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”