History man Yasir Shah tells Pakistan to focus on victory charge in Abu Dhabi

Yasir Shah has entered the record books but is now more interested in making sure Pakistan best New Zealand in the UAE. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2018
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History man Yasir Shah tells Pakistan to focus on victory charge in Abu Dhabi

  • Spin king urges teammates to ensure victory over the Black Caps.
  • Williamson masterclass puts Kiwis in strong position heading into last day.

LONDON: Yasir Shah has urged his Pakistan teammates not to let their chance of a series win over New Zealand slip after he entered the record books as the fastest man to take 200 Test wickets.
The spin king needed just one wicket to break the record set 82 years ago by the great Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett who had needed 36 Tests to reach the milestone.
When Yasir trapped nightwatchman Will Somerville LBW for four with his 13th delivery of the day, he reached the 200-wicket mark in just his 33rd Test.
“Ever since I knew this record it became my dream be the fastest to 200 wickets and it came true today,” said Yasir.
It is a remarkable record and says everything about the bowler who in just four years has become the most prolific and feared spinner in the world. But it also says a lot about the state of this third and final Test between the hosts and the Black Caps that the day did not totally belong to the history maker.
Yasir was forced to share the spoils with the Kiwi captain Kane Williamson whose 139 not out put the tourists in a good position heading into the final day in Abu Dhabi.
The Kiwis reached 272 for four by the close to give them a lead of 198. And having failed to chase 176 in the first Test Yasir is only too aware that a good start is vital today to give Pakistan the best shot at winning the three-match series 2-1.
“The wicket is slow but it is turning from the patches. We want to bowl them and try to go for the chase,” the 32-year-old said. “That is what we are going to try as there is still one full day left in the match.”
Having seen Yasir take the early wicket of Somerville Pakistan sensed the chance of an emphatic win when Shaheen Shah Afridi had Ross Taylor caught hooking for 22 with the total at 60 for four, the Kiwis still 14 behind the hosts first-innings total.
But another Williamson masterclass — his 19th Test ton — put paid to any ideas of an easy win as he and Henry Nicholls (90 not out) gave the Kiwis the edge.


Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free.
“It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “It’s a bit weird, to be honest. I didn’t really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.