Pakistan's Hafeez out for landmark Sri Lanka tour

Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez walks back to the pavilion after getting out during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between West Indies and Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham, central England, on May 31, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 21 September 2019

Pakistan's Hafeez out for landmark Sri Lanka tour

  • Fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi have also been left out due to poor fitness
  • Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead the team in both the one-day and T20 matches

LAHORE: Pakistan on Saturday left out veteran batsman Mohammad Hafeez for next week's series start against Sri Lanka, who are touring the country for the first time since they were targeted in a terror attack.
Hafeez, 38, was part of Pakistan's fifth-placed World Cup squad but has been kept off due to his commitments in the Caribbean Premier League, said head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.
"He is not out of our plans," added Misbah. "Whoever is effective for the team will be included in the future."
Fellow World Cup team members Hasan Ali and fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi have also been left out due to poor fitness.
Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead the team in both the one-day and T20 matches.
Middle order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed was recalled to the one-day squad after a four year absence.
Cricket tours were suspended in Pakistan for six years after a 2009 assault on the Sri Lankan team bus that killed half a dozen police officers and wounded six members of the visiting team.
Sri Lanka agreed to the current tour after a favorable security assessment.
Three one-day internationals will be played in Karachi, the first on September 27.
Another three Twenty20 matches will be played in Lahore in early October.
Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hasnain, Iftikhar Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz


Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

Updated 12 August 2020

Record-breaking Lukaku propelling Inter’s European dream

  • Inter reach their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League

MILAN: A record-breaking Romelu Lukaku is leading Inter Milan's chase for their first trophy in 9 years.

Eyebrows were raised last year when Inter shelled out a club record of around €65 million ($73 million) plus €13 million  ($15 million) in bonuses for Lukaku, who had had a disappointing final season at Manchester United.

However, Lukaku swiftly developed a scintillating partnership with Lautaro Martínez and their goals helped Inter sustain a title challenge before eventually finishing second in Serie A, a point behind Juventus.

Inter scored 81 league goals — well above the paltry 57 they managed in the previous campaign.

Lukaku scored again on Monday and set up another to help Inter beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to reach the Europa League semifinals.

“Romelu has never played so well, not even in the past,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

The Belgian forward became the first player to find the net in nine consecutive Europa League games, surpassing the eight set by Alan Shearer for Newcastle in 2005.

Lukaku’s 31st goal of the season took him past the 30-mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve always wanted to win, ever since I was little,” Lukaku said. “I’ve always said that I will give my all for this team.

“We’re a great team; my teammates help me a lot, otherwise I couldn’t do these things and achieve these numbers ... my teammates look for me. We’re doing well together, all of us.”

Inter reached their first European semifinal since 2010 when they went on to win the Champions League as well as Serie A and the Italian Cup to complete a historic treble.

They retained the Italian Cup the following year but have not managed to lift silverware since.

The Nerazzurri play Shakhtar Donetsk or Basel in the semifinals on Monday.

After an intense period of playing matches approximately every three days after soccer restarted following the pandemic-enforced shutdown, Conte has almost a week to prepare his players.

He will want to make sure they understand that profligacy can prove costly at this level.

Inter have often failed to kill off games in which they have  dominated, and that was again the case on Monday when they had opportunities to extend their advantage.

That allowed Leverkusen to stay in the quarterfinal despite having only two shots on target.

“We could have gone through in a more relaxed manner because, despite the fact that we never really had to dig in, the result was close,” Conte said.

“It’s difficult to be annoyed. I can only compliment the lads on their performance. As is the case after every game, we’ll analyze every situation and see where we can improve.”