Multan Sultans and reshuffled Quetta Gladiators make winning starts in PSL cricket

Multan Sultans and reshuffled Quetta Gladiators make winning starts in PSL cricket
Multan Sultans' Dawid Malan, right, and Reeza Hendricks run between the wickets during the Pakistan Super League T20 cricket match between Multan Sultans and Karachi Kings in Multan, Pakistan, on February 18, 2024 (AP)
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Updated 19 February 2024
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Multan Sultans and reshuffled Quetta Gladiators make winning starts in PSL cricket

Multan Sultans and reshuffled Quetta Gladiators make winning starts in PSL cricket
  • Multan’s overseas signings Reeza Hendricks, Dawid Malan scored half-centuries
  • Pacer Mohammad Ali (3-23) ran through Karachi King’s lower order at Qaddafi Stadium

LAHORE, Pakistan: Opening batters Jason Roy and Saud Shakeel shared a beefy 157-run stand as a reshuffled Quetta Gladiators made a triumphant start in Pakistan Super League cricket with a 16-run win over Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday.

Multan Sultans, which lost last year’s PSL thrilling final against Lahore Qalandars by one run, later opened its campaign with a thumping 55-run victory against allrounder-heavy Karachi Kings.

Roy scored a breezy 75 off 48 balls and lefthander Shakeel, who waited for 33 games to get his first opportunity in the PSL, made an equally fine 74 off 47 deliveries that lifted Quetta to 206-5.

Babar Azam (68) and Saim Ayub (42) provided Peshawar with a brisk start of 90 off 51 balls before Peshawar’s chase wobbled in the latter part of the innings and was eventually held to 190-6.

Quetta’s new captain Rilee Rossouw of South Africa was one of the major changes Quetta had made this season. It relieved its long-time skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed after failing to qualify for the playoffs for four successive seasons.

Quetta has also brought in the Australian duo of Shane Watson as its head coach and Shaun Tait as bowling coach while also picking Mohammad Amir in the draft for the first time after the left-arm pace bowler played the last eight seasons for Karachi Kings.

Amir (1-29) bowled brilliantly upfront and was duly rewarded with the late wicket of Rovman Powell in his last over.

Peshawar hit back briefly at the death through Salman Irshad (3-38) after Englishman Luke Wood broke the tall opening stand when Shakeel holed out to Babar. Roy was splendidly caught low at midwicket when he couldn’t clear Irshad’s low full toss as Quetta lost four wickets for 34 runs.

Ayub was needlessly run out in the ninth over and leg spinner Abrar Ahmed (2-29) picked up the key wickets of Babar and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (18) in one over to seal the game for Quetta.

MULTAN STARTS WITH A WIN

Multan’s overseas signings Reeza Hendricks of South Africa and Englishman Dawid Malan struck half centuries in the home team’s challenging total of 185-2 after Karachi won the toss and elected to field.

Veteran Shoaib Malik struck 53 off 35 balls and Karachi’s newly installed captain Shan Masood struggled for his 30 off 31 balls against his former franchise as Multan restricted its opponent to 130-8 in 20 overs.

West Indian power-hitter Kieron Pollard (28 not out) was the other batter to reach double-figures in an otherwise lackluster performance by former champion Karachi.

Hendricks struck an unbeaten 79 off 54 and Malan made a resolute 52 as both set up a strong total with a 121-run second-wicket stand. Malan fell soon after completing his half century when he holed out in the deep off Daniel Sams’ slower delivery, but Khushdil Shah provided a late flourish with a 13-ball 28 not out.

Fast bowler Mohammad Ali (3-23) ran through Karachi’s lower order and David Willey (2-22) chipped in with the wickets of James Vince and Saad Baig off successive deliveries in his second over as Karachi’s chase never got going against Multan’s pace.


KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL

KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL
Updated 20 April 2024
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KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL

KL Rahul shines as Lucknow Super Giants beat Chennai Super Kings in IPL
  • Innings played key role in pushing Lucknow past Chennai’s 176-6 with six balls to spare.

LUCKNOW: KL Rahul’s solid 82 runs off 53 balls helped Lucknow Super Giants comfortably beat Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the IPL on Friday.
Rahul’s time at the crease, which saw him smash nine fours and three sixes, played a key role in pushing Lucknow past Chennai’s 176-6 with six balls to spare.
“I felt that if we bat well, we could chase it down... when your partnership goes on, you can take a few more chances. Glad that it happened,” said Rahul.
Chennai got off to a slightly jittery start after being invited to bat first, losing Rachin Ravindra (zero) and skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad (17) in the first five overs. Ajinkya Rahane looked to steady the side, with the help of Ravindra Jadeja, but fell in the ninth over after racking up a respectable 36 runs off 24 balls.
Lucknow’s clinical bowling restricted Chennai in the middle overs, with Shivam Dube (three) not being able to pop off.
But Jadeja soldiered on for the rest of the game, getting his half-century in the seventeenth over.
Reliable warhorse M.S. Dhoni, who smacked 28 runs off 9 balls, helped Chennai turn up the heat in the last three overs and pushed the team to 176-6.
Lucknow openers Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul set up the chase with a superb 134-run partnership, before de Kock, who hit five fours in his 43-ball 54, fell in the fifteenth over.
Rahul went onto smash an incredible 82 runs off 53 balls before being dismissed in the eighteenth over. A final push by Nicholas Pooran (23) helped seal the victory for Lucknow.
“We lost wickets regularly and were 10-15 short,” said Gaikwad.
“Good to play them again soon, will come back with homework done.”


Saudi Arabia’s PIF signs sponsorship deal with Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament

Saudi Arabia’s PIF signs sponsorship deal with Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament
Updated 19 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF signs sponsorship deal with Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament

Saudi Arabia’s PIF signs sponsorship deal with Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament
  • Agreement is latest in wider partnership with the ATP

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced on Friday it had agreed a multi-year deal to sponsor the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament.

The deal is the latest in PIF’s wider tennis partnership with the Association of Tennis Professionals as a Platinum Partner and as the official naming partner of the PIF ATP Rankings.

The fund said the agreement marked its continued investment in growing tennis globally, along with a wider focus on its four sponsorship pillars: inclusivity, sustainability, youth, and technology.

As part of the partnership, PIF will develop a platform to allow tennis fans new and old to engage and train with legendary players and coaches on the ground in Madrid, and youth-focused fan zones.

A statement said: “PIF is committed to providing opportunities for young players across all levels of the game, inspiring participation, enhancing talent discovery and developing new pathways for future generations of tennis players around the world.

“As part of this priority, PIF is engaging local tennis academies in Spain and supporting future players through the PIF tennis bootcamp.”

PIF has also partnered with ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Miami and the Nitto ATP Finals, in addition to the Beijing ATP 500 event, and the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by PIF, to be hosted in Jeddah until 2027.


John Catlin sets himself up for victory going into final round of Saudi Open in Riyadh

John Catlin sets himself up for victory going into final round of Saudi Open in Riyadh
Updated 19 April 2024
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John Catlin sets himself up for victory going into final round of Saudi Open in Riyadh

John Catlin sets himself up for victory going into final round of Saudi Open in Riyadh
  • American shoots men’s course-record 62

RIYADH: John Catlin continued his dominance at the 2024 Saudi Open on Friday as he shot a men’s course-record 62 to open up an eight-shot lead at the top of the leaderboard at Riyadh Golf Club.

The American began the third round one shot ahead of Scott Hend and Haotong Li and signaled his intentions early with two birdies in his first five holes.

It was a special back nine that saw him pull away from the field as six birdies, including two in his final two holes — which also earned him the PIF Moment of the Day — put him in the driving seat for a sixth Asian Tour victory.

Thai favorite Kiradech Aphibarnrat made the biggest move of the chasing pack and will head out with Catlin in the final group on Saturday.

His round of 67 moved him into second place with Wade Ormsby, David Puig, Hend and Li one further back.

If he is victorious on Saturday it will mark back-to-back wins on the Asian Tour for Catlin after he lifted the International Series Macau trophy in March, but the 33-year-old is taking nothing for granted ahead of the final round.

He said: “My game has felt in good shape. Today was just one of those days where the putter just gets hot and it’s like you can’t miss. I kept going and tried to make as many birdies as I could because there are so many good players out here and there are plenty of birdies to be made tomorrow. I knew I had to keep the pedal to the metal.

“Nothing changes tomorrow: the job is not finished. David (Puig) has shown he can shoot some really low numbers and there are a lot of other guys very capable of doing that here.”

It is Catlin’s second trip to Saudi Arabia but his first to Riyadh, and after his record-breaking day he admitted he will be back in the Kingdom whenever he gets the chance.

“I’ve loved it here. The people have been so friendly to me, the facilities are really good and I love the course. I will be back whenever there is a tournament here,” he said.

South African Jaco Ahlers produced the day’s second-best round with his 65 moving him to 7 under par, while LIV Golf star Peter Uihlein catapulted himself up the leaderboard after four birdies in four holes to start his back nine took him to the same score. Uihlein is looking forward to an attacking final round.

He said: “You’ve got to shoot 10 under tomorrow to win — I’m going to try. Hopefully my caddie will let me hit the driver on some holes where I probably shouldn’t, and just have a go.

“I played nicely on the front, but it was a different wind. I felt like the back nine, with the way the wind was, is easier than the first couple of days, so I thought I could make some birdies. I didn’t birdie the 15th or 18th hole, which is disappointing.”

Moroccans Othman Raouzi and Ayoub Lguirati, the two invited Arab golfers who managed to make the cut, endured difficult days and both sit over par heading into the final round.


FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem receives Arab and MENA backing

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem receives Arab and MENA backing
Updated 19 April 2024
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FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem receives Arab and MENA backing

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem receives Arab and MENA backing
  • Statement condemns “false allegations” of interference in sporting decisions during 2023 Formula One season

DUBAI: The FIA Members for Sport for MENA region and Arab Council of Touring and Automobile Clubs sub-region have released a statement of support for FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem against what they see as “false allegations” of interference in sporting decisions during the 2023 Formula One season.

“Knowing that Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been committed to promoting transparency within the FIA since he was elected president of the FIA, his full co-operation with the FIA Ethics Committee and the Compliance department during the 30 days of investigations is highly regarded,” the statement said.  

“The Ethics Committee were unanimous in their determination that there was no evidence to substantiate allegations of interference of any kind involving the FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem and strong evidence beyond any reasonable doubt was presented to support the determination of the FIA Ethics Committee.” 

The statement said that the FIA president was cleared of any wrongdoing over allegations he interfered with the stewards’ decision at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2023, and cleared of any wrongdoing regarding allegations that he attempted to interfere with the track certification process for the Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023.

The statement continued: “The FIA Members for Sport for MENA Region and ACTAC Sub-Region condemn, and at the same time are profoundly disappointed with the unjust and relentless attempt to undermine the integrity of the FIA Leadership by such unfaithful allegations to serve narrow personal agendas, and we strongly encourage the FIA administration to initiate legal actions against those responsible for those allegations against the FIA President. 

“We are confident that Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem will continue to serve the FIA and its Members in a transparent manner implementing the FIA Code of Ethics as top priority.

“We also would like to assert our support to Mr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s leadership of the FIA and will continue our co-operation with him in his efforts to serve and develop the FIA and its Members,” it said.  


USA Olympic basketball team announced, set to play 2 matches in Abu Dhabi

USA Olympic basketball team announced, set to play 2 matches in Abu Dhabi
Updated 19 April 2024
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USA Olympic basketball team announced, set to play 2 matches in Abu Dhabi

USA Olympic basketball team announced, set to play 2 matches in Abu Dhabi
  • Team coached by Steve Kerr of Golden States Warriors will face Australia (July 15) and Serbia (July 17) in the UAE capital

COLORADO SPRINGS: The 2024 USA basketball men’s national team has been announced for this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris, taking place July 26-Aug. 11

The team, selected by national men’s team managing director Grant Hill and approved by the USA Basketball Board of Directors, will also play two preparation matches in Abu Dhabi against Australia (July 15) and Serbia (July 17).

Starring for the team will be 12 athletes with extensive international experience, including three-time Olympic champion Kevin Durant (Phoenix Suns) and the NBA’s all-time scoring leader LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers), who owns a pair of Olympic gold medals.

In addition to Durant and James, the team features Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Anthony Edwards (Minnesota Timberwolves), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Tyrese Haliburton (Indiana Pacers), Jrue Holiday (Boston Celtics), Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics).

The squad boasts a combined 11 Olympic appearances and 10 Olympic gold medals as well as three FIBA World Cup titles. In total, the US will take 12 NBA All-Stars, four NBA MVPs and six NBA champions to Paris.

“It’s an honor to introduce the men’s national team,” Hill said. “I’m grateful to these 12 men for their commitment to represent USA Basketball. The US is home to some of the best basketball players in the world and I appreciate the vast interest in being part of this roster. These decisions weren’t easy, but it was a pleasure to go through the process and reach this outcome.

“We have the utmost respect for the level of competition we will face this summer. The Olympics represent the pinnacle of sport and the world will be watching the USA as we play in the toughest basketball tournament in history.”

Durant, who is also a 2010 World Cup gold medalist, is the USA’s all-time Olympic statistical leader in total points (435), scoring average (19.8 ppg), field goals (146), 3-point field goals (74) and free throws (69). He ranks third in rebounds (118) and blocks (16), and fourth in games played (24) and assists (71).

James, who has scored 273 points (3rd all-time among Americans) in the Olympics, will compete in his fourth games and first since 2012. He won gold in 2008 and 2012, and made his Olympics debut in 2004 (bronze). James also owns a 2007 FIBA Tournament of the Americas gold medal.

Adebayo (2020), Booker (2020), Davis (2012), Holiday (2020) and Tatum (2020) have won Olympic gold medals and are part of a group that has gone 34-4 in Olympic competition since James’ debut in 2004.

Curry is a two-time World Cup champion (2010, 2014) and will make his Olympic debut this summer. He is one of six players who has competed at the World Cup, including Davis (2014), Durant (2010), Edwards (2023), Haliburton (2023), James (2006) and Tatum (2019). Of the seven World Cup participants, three (Curry; Davis, 2014; Durant, 2010) have also won gold and two (Edwards, 2023; Durant, 2010) have taken home All-Star Five honors. Edwards and Haliburton competed at the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup in Manila, helping to secure the US’ Olympic bid.

Embiid and Leonard will make their USA Basketball national team debuts when the US hosts Canada on July 10 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas to open the USA Basketball Showcase.

The men’s national team will be led by head coach Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), assisted by Mark Few (Gonzaga University), Tyronn Lue (LA Clippers) and Erik Spoelstra (Miami Heat). Last summer, the quartet coached the side to a fourth-place finish at the 2023 FIBA Men’s World Cup in Manila.

“My staff and I are honored to coach this amazing group of players in our quest to win Olympic gold in Paris,” Kerr said. “We plan to represent USA Basketball with the utmost class and we hope to make our country proud.”

The US officially qualified for the Paris Games as one of the top two nations from the FIBA Americas zone at the 2023 FIBA World Cup in September. The American men will compete for their fifth straight — and 17th overall — Olympic gold medal.

As part of Group C, the US will face Serbia on July 28, South Sudan on July 31 and the winner of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico on Aug. 3 in the first round of the Olympic tournament. The five-on-five Olympic basketball group phase will take place in Lille, France, before the tournament moves to Paris for knockout and medal rounds.