Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

Kamran Akmal of Peshawar Zalmi hits a boundary against Islamabad United during the Pakistan Super League playoff at National Stadium in Karachi on Friday. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

  • A minute's silence was observed before the match to honor those who lost their lives in New Zealand’s mosques
  • Akmal smashed 74 off 43 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes

KARACHI: Kamran Akmal's blistering half century propelled 2017 winner Peshawar Zalmi to its third straight Pakistan Super League final with a convincing 48-run victory over defending champion Islamabad United on Friday.

Peshawar will take on Quetta Gladiators on Sunday in a repeat of the final two years ago.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of eliminator 2 in memory of those who died in deadly attacks on two mosques in New Zealand earlier on Friday. Players and officials also wore black armbands during the match at a packed 32,000-capacity National Stadium.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani condemned the incident and said in a statement it was "cowardly, uncivilized and inhuman terrorist attacks on the innocent worshippers in Christchurch mosques."

Akmal smashed 74 off 43 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes, as Peshawar finished with an imposing 214-5 after Islamabad won the toss and elected to field.

Akmal paired with young Imam-ul-Haq, who made 58 off 33 balls, for a strong 135-run opening stand before both were dismissed by part-time seamer Cameron Delport (2-24) in the 13th over. Captain Darren Sammy provided a perfect finish by smashing 30 off 15 balls.

Chadwick Walton then scored 48 off 29 balls as Islamabad was restricted to 166-9 after losing all its big hitters by the 12th over.

Peshawar's Hasan Ali, the PSL's top wicket-taker, bowled with lot of pace in claiming 3-29. He accounted for the key wickets of Islamabad's Cameron Delport (28), Hussain Talat (19) and Luke Ronchi (17). Chris Jordan of England also took 3-26 including the wicket of his countryman Alex Hales, who could score only 1.

Islamabad's Rumman Raees conceded 48 off his four overs without taking a wicket. Shadab Khan also gave away 46 runs for one wicket as Akmal hit the leg spinner for two sixes and two fours in one over.


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 4 min 29 sec ago
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.