Pakistan face Australia with Twenty20 top ranking at stake 

In this file photo, Australia batsman D’Arcy Short in action during the final of the tri-series played between Pakistan and Australia in a T20 tri-series at the Harare Sports Club, on July 8, 2018. (AFP/File)
Updated 23 October 2018

Pakistan face Australia with Twenty20 top ranking at stake 

  • Pakistan will be without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who was with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza in India for the birth of their first child
  • Since Sarfraz took over captaincy, Pakistan have won 23 of the 27 matches they have played

ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is confident his team can defend their world number one ranking in a stern challenge from Australia in a three-match Twenty20 series starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Sarfraz led Pakistan to a tri-series triumph by beating Australia in the final at Harare in July this year and needs to win at least one match to remain at the top of the rankings.
Pakistan will be without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who was with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza in India for the birth of their first child.
“Malik will join the team on Wednesday but will not be part of the eleven, so we are ready for Australia who are a very strong Twenty20 side,” said Sarfraz.
Australia, who beat Pakistan in the group match of the tri-series, need to win 3-0 if they want to jump from their current third position to the top.
Since Sarfraz took over captaincy, Pakistan have won 23 of the 27 matches they have played — a momentum the skipper wants to maintain.
“We know that Australia have good bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Billy Stanlake and hitters in Chris Lynn and D’Arcy Short so we have to be at our best to beat them,” said Sarfraz.
Stanlake took 4-8 in a lively spell in Australia’s victory in the tri-series group game.
Australia will also have some fresh players after losing the two-match Test series 1-0 last week, also played in United Arab Emirates.
Their Twenty20 skipper Aaron Finch said his team was motivated enough to win the series.
“Pakistan played very well against us in July,” said Finch. “We got the better off them in the first game but they battled back in the last two. They are world number one at the moment and they are world number one for a reason.”
“They played some great cricket in the last two years in this format so I think it will be a great contest.”
Finch played down the bounty of getting to the top of the rankings in case they win all the matches.
“I think any time you play anyone in a different country it’s massively important and everyone wants to win,” said Finch, who has won eight of the 16 matches, losing the other eight since in charge for four years.
“If number one rankings are on the line or anyone down the list, each game is important. Everyone wants to win. I don’t think they need any motivation than that and we don’t need it.”


Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

Updated 11 December 2019

Russian athletics champ blasts own sports authorities

  • Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation

MOSCOW: Russian high jump world champion Maria Lasitskene on Tuesday accused her country’s own sports authorities of failing to protect athletes from the deepening doping crisis, in a rare public broadside at top officials.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Monday handed Russia a new, this time four-year, ban from top global sporting events, including the next summer and winter Olympics and the 2022 soccer World Cup, for tampering with laboratory data.

The ruling means Russian athletes cleared to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will do so under a neutral flag. But Lasitskene and some other Russian track and field athletes face additional obstacles to being cleared for competition.

“I’ve already missed one Olympics and one-and-a-half years of international competition,” Lasitskene wrote in an open letter addressed to Russia’s sports authorities.

“And it seems that’s not the end of it. So who ultimately is to blame? Who’s going to give me back what I’ve lost?” she wrote in the letter published on Russian sports media outlet Championat.Com.

Lasitskene, a three-time world champion, has in the past been critical of Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended for doping since 2015, and has been one of the few Russian athletes to voice her anger publicly.

World Athletics, the global body governing athletics, last month halted the reinstatement procedures for Russia’s athletics federation after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.

As a result of these fresh sanctions, World Athletics also said it was reviewing the process it has used in the past to clear some Russians, including Lasitskene, to compete internationally as neutrals.

“Why have we arrived at a situation when an athlete is supposed to be delighted about getting neutral status?” Lasitskene wrote.

“Was the Sports Ministry and Russian Olympic Committee really happy with the Russian athletics federation’s work?”

The president of Russia’s Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, on Monday dismissed the sanctions against Russia as inappropriate and excessive.