New PCB chief has high hopes Australia will play in Pakistan

Pakistan's cricket-mad public have not been able to see their side play on home soil for much of the past nine years. (AFP)
Updated 21 December 2018
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New PCB chief has high hopes Australia will play in Pakistan

  • Wasim Khan hopes to persuade the Aussies to play a one-day international in Pakistan next March.
  • Few teams have played in Pakistan since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lanka side.

LONDON: Incoming Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) managing director Wasim Khan hopes Australia will come to the South Asian nation to play at least part of a one-day series currently scheduled to take place in the UAE in March.
Most cricket nations have avoided touring Pakistan since 2009 when gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers, injuring six players and killing six security personnel and two civilians.
Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 but Khan hopes they can be persuaded to play there.
“I will ask the question,” Khan told ESPNcricinfo.
“We will continue to offer them the highest level security and, if they have any concerns, we will act to meet them.”
Sri Lanka returned to Pakistan in 2017 for a one-off Twenty20 match, while West Indies played a three-match T20 series in Karachi in April this year.
Khan said he wanted to speak with other boards to see how he could help get regular international cricket back to Pakistan.
“It will probably be a process of baby steps,” Khan said.
“I need to sit down with other boards and ask them: Where are the gaps in our plans that worry you? What can we do to assure you?”
English county teams would be invited to use the PCB academy in Lahore for pre-season training, said Khan.
“We have excellent facilities. We have a great passion for the game ... hopefully we can normalize playing in the country again.”


‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

Updated 43 min 49 sec ago
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‘Kid was depressed’: Osaka in first clay quarter-final after ‘rough months’

  • The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments
  • Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months

STUTTGART, Germany: World number one Naomi Osaka defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-4, 6-3 in Stuttgart on Thursday to reach her first career clay court quarter-final and admitted she had been left “depressed” after a “rough few months.”
US and Australian Open champion Osaka, who lost to Taiwanese veteran Hsieh in Miami last month, secured a place in the quarter-finals against Croatia’s Donna Vekic as she launched her preparations for Roland Garros.
The Japanese star arrived in Stuttgart, where she last played as a qualifier in 2017, after suffering early exits in her last three tournaments.
Osaka has admitted the difficulty of dealing with the trappings of fame and becoming the world’s top player in recent months, a period which saw her split with coach Sascha Bajin after the Australian Open.
“I am really grateful for everyone that has been really positive toward me. It was really rough the last couple of months. The kid was depressed out there.”
“If there is one positive thing that I can say about myself, it is that I learn quickly,” said Osaka, who reached the last eight of a tournament for the first time since her coaching split.
“Definitely I’ve put a lot on pressure on myself and found it hard to deal with in the first few tournaments.
“Now I start trying to have fun out there, which is what I did before I was number one.”
Osaka, 21, broke Hsieh three times in total to beat Hsieh for the second time in three attempts this year, having also defeated her on the way to lifting the title in Melbourne.
“I did feel like I am in control, but I also felt she is taking more risks than me,” said Osaka.
“She’s a really tricky opponent. You never really know what she’s going to do.”
Osaka needed 84 minutes to dispatch the unconventional Hsieh, ensuring she will hold on to top spot in the rankings for at least another week.
She is less than 200 points ahead of Simona Halep in the WTA rankings, although the Romanian pulled out of this week’s tournament with a hip injury.
Top seed Osaka fought off the only two break points she faced, in a lengthy service hold for 2-all in the opening set, before breaking Hsieh in the following game.
That was sufficient to wrap up the first set, and a Hsieh double-fault handed Osaka a break to start the second before she closed out victory with another service break in a performance that featured 22 winners and just 16 unforced errors.
Osaka will meet Vekic, a 6-1, 7-5 winner over Daria Kasatkina, for a spot in the last four, while Latvian seventh seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated 2017 champion Laura Siegemund 6-4, 6-3.
Sevastova will meet third-ranked Petra Kvitova next.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-2, while Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens took down Belinda Bencic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
German number one Angelique Kerber, who won here in 2015 and 2016, takes on compatriot Andrea Petkovic later.