Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik lead Pakistan into T20 World Cup semi against Australia

Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates the dismissal of Scotland's Michael Leask during the T20 World Cup match between Pakistan and Scotland in Sharjah. (AP)
Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates the dismissal of Scotland's Michael Leask during the T20 World Cup match between Pakistan and Scotland in Sharjah. (AP)
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Updated 07 November 2021

Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik lead Pakistan into T20 World Cup semi against Australia

Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates the dismissal of Scotland's Michael Leask during the T20 World Cup match between Pakistan and Scotland in Sharjah. (AP)
  • England will face New Zealand in the first semifinal in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday

SHARJAH: Pakistan defeated Scotland by 72 runs on the back of magnificent half centuries from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik on Sunday to set-up a Twenty20 World Cup semifinal clash against Australia.
Skipper Babar scored a polished 47-ball-66 for his 24th fifty in Twenty20 internationals, and his fourth in five matches, while Malik smashed an 18-ball 54 not out as Pakistan posted 189-4 in their 20 overs.
Scotland were never in hunt as they managed 117-6 with Richie Berrington fighting a lone hand during his 37-ball 54 not out with four boundaries and a six.
The victory gave Pakistan five wins in as many games, topping the Group 2 with ten points.
They now face Australia in the second semifinal in Dubai on Thursday.
England will face New Zealand in the first semifinal in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
“Shoaib, the way he finished, the way he showed his experience, that’s what he’s known for,” said Babar of his 39-year-old teammate.
“We’ll carry good confidence into the semifinals and try to play in the same way. Definitely Dubai is one of the best stadiums. As a player if you play in front of a whole crowd that cheers for you, your confidence increases.”
Scotland lost skipper Kyle Coetzer (nine), Matthew Cross (five) and George Munsey (17) before they crossed fifty and it was left to Berrington and Micheal Leask (14) to add 46 for the fifth wicket.
But the asking rate continued to mount as spinner Shadab Khan (2-14) kept up the pressure. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali claimed a wicket each.
“I thought we bowled really well today, especially in the powerplay,” said Coetzer whose team lost all five Super 12 games but defeated Bangladesh in the qualifying round.
“When you’ve got the power in the batting line-up like Pakistan you know that they are going to find the boundaries at some stage, but I thought our guys fought really hard today.”
Earlier, Babar had set the platform with another fine knock.
Malik then punished the Scottish attack during his fiery knock comprising six hits over the fence and one boundary, taking 26 off Chris Greaves’s last over.
Babar smashed five boundaries and three sixes to become the tournament’s highest run scorer, passing England’s Jos Buttler’s 240 in five matches with 264 in as many games.
He holed out to spinner Greaves in the 18th over as Pakistan lifted the scoring rate, adding 129 in the last ten overs and an incredible 77 in the final five.
Babar and Mohammad Rizwan (15) had put on a slow 35 for the opening stand.
Rizwan, when on five, broke West Indian Chris Gayle’s record for most runs in Twenty20 cricket in a calendar year. Rizwan now has 1,676 runs in 41 matches.
Gayle had notched 1,665 in 36 matches in 2015.
Mohammad Hafeez scored a brisk 19-ball 31 with four boundaries and a six.

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Updated 20 January 2022

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  • As an extra reward for Tottenham, the victory took the team above fierce rival Arsenal and into fifth place in the league

LEICESTER, Britain: Tottenham staged the latest-ever comeback to win a Premier League game on Wednesday.
Manchester United’s second-half turnaround was quite the surprise, too.
On a dramatic night in England’s top flight, Tottenham was losing to Leicester after 94 minutes and 52 seconds. Within two minutes, Steven Bergwijn had scored two goals to seal a 3-2 win pretty much out of nowhere.
As an extra reward for Tottenham, the victory took the team above fierce rival Arsenal and into fifth place in the league — only one point off the Champions League positions with games in hand.
“My team showed they don’t want to give up and until the end we have to fight,” said Tottenham manager Antonio Conte, whose unbeaten league record at the London club was preserved.
The previous latest comeback came in arguably the Premier League’s most famous game, when Manchester City scored in the 92nd and 94th minutes to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 and clinch the title in May 2012.
As for Man United, Ralf Rangnick’s under-pressure team put in a wretched first-half display at Brentford and was lucky to be 0-0 at halftime, only for Anthony Elanga — with his first Premier League goal — Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford to score after the break in a 3-1 win. Ivan Toney pulled a late goal back for Brentford.
United stayed seventh but is one point behind Tottenham having played two games more.


Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround

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Updated 20 January 2022

Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround

Man United beats Brentford 3-1 after 2nd-half turnaround
  • United stayed in seventh place, but is only two points behind fourth-place West Ham in the race for Champions League qualification

LONDON: Manchester United staged a second-half turnaround as goals from Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford earned a 3-1 win at Brentford to boost the team’s top-four ambitions in the Premier League on Wednesday.
It was another less-than-convincing display from United, though, with Cristiano Ronaldo ostensibly far from impressed at being substituted with 20 minutes left.
Elanga, a 19-year-old winger starting only his fourth Premier League match, broke the deadlock in the 55th minute after Brentford had wasted a host of chances to take the lead in the first half.
Greenwood then notched his first Premier League goal since October, tapping in from Bruno Fernandes’ pass, to make it 2-0 in the 62nd and Rashford climbed off the bench to add the third in the 77th for a first league win of 2022.
It was a tough blow for Brentford, which had dominated the first league meeting between these sides since 1946 but only had Ivan Toney’s late consolation to show for it.
United stayed in seventh place, but is only two points behind fourth-place West Ham in the race for Champions League qualification.


Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance

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Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance

Egypt make Cup of Nations last 16 as Cape Verde, Malawi advance
  • Egypt defeated neighbors Sudan 1-0 — a result which sent Cape Verde and Malawi through
  • Nigeria finished Group D with a third successive win as they beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0

YAOUNDÉ: Seven-time champions Egypt clinched a place in the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 on Wednesday by defeating neighbors Sudan 1-0, a result which sent Cape Verde and Malawi through as well.
Nigeria finished Group D with a third successive win as they beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0, leaving Egypt to face the winners of Group E in the next round, and a potential clash with Ivory Coast in Douala.
Mohamed Abdelmonem headed home the winner at a corner 10 minutes before half-time in Yaounde to send the Pharaohs through and eliminate Sudan.
Egypt’s victory guaranteed Cape Verde and Malawi will qualify as two of the four best third-placed sides. It is the first time Malawi have reached the knockout rounds of the tournament.
Three-time former winners Nigeria continued their fine start to the competition by sweeping aside Guinea-Bissau courtesy of second-half goals from Umar Sadiq and captain William Troost-Ekong.
The Super Eagles will stay in Garoua to play a third-placed team in the last 16 on Sunday.
Cape Verde will take on Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Bafoussam on January 25, while Morocco await Malawi on the same day in Yaounde.


Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation

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Updated 20 January 2022

Tunisia hit by 12 Covid cases at Cup of Nations: federation

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  • 12 players in the 28-man squad contracted Covid-19, Tunisian football federation said on Facebook
  • Key player Wahbi Khazri is among the players to test positive

TUNIS: Tunisia’s preparations for their final Africa Cup of Nations group match against Gambia were thrown into disarray after 12 players in the 28-man squad contracted Covid-19, the country’s football federation said Wednesday.
Key player Wahbi Khazri is among the players to test positive.
“This evening (Wednesday) the players took part in a training session with 16 players present and the rest absent due to Covid-19 contamination,” the federation said on its Facebook page.
The federation also said: “Tuesday, the tests revealed the contamination of Ali Maaloul, Aymen Dahmen, Ghailene Chaalali, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Wahbi Khazri, Ali Jemal and Mohamed Amine Ben Hmida who have been isolated from the group.”
Right-back Mohamed Drager has though recovered from the virus and Tunisia are hoping that five other players, positive since the start of the tournament, will test negative before Thursday’s game.
Tunisia, the 2004 winners, need to at least draw their final Group F match to be sure of qualification for the last 16.
The Carthage Eagles bounced back from their controversial opening 1-0 loss to Mali, when the referee blew the final whistle early, by thrashing Mauritania 4-0 in their second game.


Expectations high for Godolphin in week 2 of Dubai World Cup Carnival

Week two and seven more races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival sees horses from 10 countries clash at Meydan Racecourse. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 19 January 2022

Expectations high for Godolphin in week 2 of Dubai World Cup Carnival

Week two and seven more races at the Dubai World Cup Carnival sees horses from 10 countries clash at Meydan Racecourse. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Meydan Racecourse’s 7 races will see runners from 10 countries including Greece, France, UK and Sweden

 

DUBAI: Remember how in last week’s column I mentioned how international the Dubai World Cup Carnival is? Well, that certainly proved to be the case on opening night, when we had wins for horses based in Uruguay (Bet Law, you read it here first, by the way) and France, with Pevensey Bay.

Now we are on to week two and seven more races, in which horses from 10 countries are set to clash at Meydan Racecourse. We welcome back the lesser-known racing nation of Greece with one runner, Revamp, for trainer Christos Theodorakis, while trainer Mohamed Saeed brings runners from Bahrain for the first time. There is also a strong contingent from Sweden, the UK and France.

Despite this welcome international flavor, this will be a good week for Godolphin. The excellent card has three Group races, including the Group 2 Al-Fahidi Fort which has gone to the “boys in blue” in each of the last four seasons. In 2021, it went to Land Of Legends, who will defend his title for Saeed Bin Suroor, although Charlie Appleby also holds a strong hand, with Naval Crown and La Barrosa. Naval Crown, a winner here last season, is the pick of stable jockey William Buick and will be hard to beat.

Godolphin might also be able to land the Group 2 Al-Rashidiya, race four, although a certain grey gelding will have something to say about that. The popular Lord Glitters, trained in the UK by David O’Meara, is two from five at Meydan, with both of those wins coming last year in the Group 2 Singspiel Stakes and the Group 1 Jebel Hatta. He won a strong edition of the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy when we last saw him in November, and he will not be far away again. His main rival looks to be Art Du Val, who returns to the Carnival for a fourth time.

The Group 3 Dubawi Stakes, race six, will not go to Godolphin, because they do not have a runner. It might well go to Doug Watson, who has two, with Canvassed resuming off a 10-month break and Al-Tariq coming here off a Jebel Ali win in November. Both are capable of landing this, as is Freedom Fighter, a new recruit to Bhupat Seemar, who is Grade 2-placed in the US.

Perhaps the race most likely to go to the internationals is the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial, race three, which has two runners from Uruguay: The unbeaten Kiefer and Quality Boone, a winner here in December. However, they must concede weight to Appleby’s Albahr, a Group 1 winner when last seen in September. If adapting to the dirt, he should give the South Americans most to think about. Steinar, two from two in Sweden, is also an interesting runner for dual Carnival-winning handler Susanne Berneklint.

The most Instagrammed runner on the night will be JJ Jumbo, who lines up in the Dubai Trophy. Trained in Ireland by Darren Bunyan, he is owned by TV presenter Sultan Harib and has become something of a social media star since arriving in Dubai. Watch out for him in the first race – you will not miss his big white face.