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.”


Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

Updated 09 July 2020

Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

ROME: Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the Scudetto, AC Milan decided returning to the pinnacle of football required a new approach.

Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans.

And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team that just won their league for the first time in 30 years?

“We have been talking to Liverpool,” Milan chief revenue officer Casper Stylsvig told The Associated Press, “because they’ve been through the same path as we are going through now.”

Milan are enduring their longest Serie A drought since the 1980s. Despite beating leader Juventus on Tuesday, even the top four Champions League places are out of reach in this pandemic-delayed season. It’s been seven years since Milan last competed in Europe’s elite competition.

“We’re working very hard to get back to where we should be, and from that perspective, it does help open doors when you have won seven Champions Leagues,” Stylsvig said. 

“Playing European football is top of the agenda. It is our natural habitat and somewhere we should be.”

Only Real Madrid has lifted the European Cup more often than Milan. But that seventh title was won 13 years ago, by beating Liverpool.

Now Liverpool are the lodestar for Milan, which have fallen to 21st in the Deloitte ranking of football’s moneymakers with revenue of €206.3 million  ($234 million) in the last financial year, a third of the income at the newly crowned Premier League champions.

“Four, five years ago, no one considered Liverpool and see where they are now,” Stylsvig said. “They obviously play very attractive football. They are winning, they have a fantastic manager, a fantastic team and now they are following suit from a commercial perspective. It has taken time, but their model seems to work.”

Liverpool have been run for a decade by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Milan have also had American ownership for three years since the takeover by the Elliott Management hedge fund.

“We are obviously a global brand,” Stylsvig said in a telephone interview. “I’ve probably been talking too much in the Italian market in the last few years and (the coronavirus) sort of pushed us to think more global again.”

The pandemic that shut down sports produced the first public manifestation of the partnership with Roc Nation when Milan staged a live virtual fundraising concert headlined by Alicia Keys.

“I do think merging sport and entertainment could be the way of engaging new fans,” Stylsvig said. “The world has changed dramatically and we need to follow suit. Roc Nation is helping us, challenging us with that, having someone on the sideline to do that.”

The biggest audiences logging in to watch “From Milan with Love” were from China and the US.

With no games being played during the three-month Serie A shutdown — and crowds still prohibited from matches — Milan have had to find new ways of connecting with its fan base and fulfilling commercial deals.

“It’s been incredibly challenging,” Stylsvig said. “You basically have to rethink the model. So one of the first things we did was focusing much more on a digital space, creating content and trying to be engaging and trying to talk to our partners.”

Further down the line is moving into a new stadium, with plans to rebuild the San Siro it shares with Inter Milan.

“That will change the club,” Stylsvig said. “The revenues are incredibly important but also for the perception of the club.”