Australia's Usman Khawaja not thinking about World Cup spot with series against Pakistan to be won in UAE

Usman Khawaja has been in fine form with the bat since his return to the ODI side after a two-year exile. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Australia's Usman Khawaja not thinking about World Cup spot with series against Pakistan to be won in UAE

  • Batsman's place under threat thanks to return of disgraced duo Steve Smith and David Warner.
  • Aussie s 2-0 up against Pakistan with third ODI taking place in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

LONDON: Usman Khawaja is trying not to think about playing for a World Cup place ahead of today’s third ODI against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
Australia are 2-0 up in the five-match series but with the World Cup only two months away players are playing for their places in the tournament.
Despite scoring two 100s and four 50s in his past 10 innings since he was recalled to the Australia squad Khawaja’s place is under threat by the imminent return of David Warner and Steve Smith.
The disgraced duo are set to return after their year-long ban for ball tampering and currently playing in the Indian Premier League.
But that does not bother Khawaja who already has scored 24 and 88 in the first two ODI’s in the UAE.
“It’s (World Cup) a long way away. For me, it’s (about) the next three games, (Warner’s return) is not something I have thought about at all. I am just enjoying playing one-day cricket,” the 32-year-old said.
Australia and Khawaja have suddenly come into form at just the right time. They won 3-2 in India and are already 2-0 up against Pakistan. But all too aware that complacency can set in and keen to keep up the winning habit as they prepare for the World Cup, Khawaja has told his teammates to take nothing for granted.
“We saw in India they were 2-0 up and we came back to win that series. It is never quite over. We cannot take it easy now, we have got to finish it off that next game, we cannot relax, we can’t think that we have done all the hard work and that we are fine now,” the batsman said.
“There are still three games left and three games is a long time in cricket. We want to be really clinical and we have got to keep doing it over and over again. Winning’s a habit, so hopefully, we can make it a habit.”
Pakistan go into the clash under fire for comments made by their skipper Shoaib Malik after the defeat in Sharjah on Sunday. Having seen his side trounced by eight wickets Shoaib said Pakistan were simply using the series to “test their bench strength (ahead of the World Cup” and that “winning or losing doesn’t make a difference.”
The pressure is on the hosts and they will be looking for their attack to show some fire. The quicker bowlers in particular have struggled to put Australia under pressure with the new ball, having taken just four wickets all series, conceding a mammoth 566 runs.


Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

Updated 16 July 2019
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Arsenal open US tour with 3-0 friendly win in Colorado

LOS ANGELES: Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli scored in his Arsenal debut Monday as the English Premier League club launched their pre-season tour of the US with a 3-0 friendly win over the Colorado Rapids.

Bukayo Saka and James Olayinka also scored for the Gunners, who cruised to victory at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in suburban Denver.

Martinelli, the 18-year-old forward signed from Ituano on July 2, was given a surprise start in attack by Unai Emery and sent an early chance wide.

Saka, 17, was an energetic presence and put Arsenal up 1-0 in the 13th minute as he collected a through-ball from Eddie Nketiah.

Another teenager — 18-year-old Olayinka —  doubled the score in the 29th, seizing a stray pass from defense and racing in to fire into the top left corner of the net.

Martinelli, having missed his early chance, capped the scoring in the 61st when he slotted home a cross from close range.

The Rapids, in the midst of the Major League Soccer season, fielded a mostly reserve side that featured several players from the lower-rung Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Arsenal, too, started a reserve team as they begin their build up to the Premier League season after again failing to secure a Champions League berth.

The tour has not started without controversy. Captain Laurent Koscielny refused to travel to the US, and a group of influential Arsenal supporters’ organizations published a statement on Monday hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership.”

Under a hashtag “WeCareDo You” the statement decried a “soulless” atmosphere at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and a lack of transfer strategy.

Kroenke, who began investing in the club in 2007 through his company Kroenke Sports Enterprises and took full ownership in 2018, also owns the Rapids as well as the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.