Quetta Gladiators two for two after PSL win over scratchy Lahore

Unheralded Khawaja Nafay showed plenty of confidence against the star-studded pace attack of Lahore. (X/@thePSLt20)
Unheralded Khawaja Nafay showed plenty of confidence against the star-studded pace attack of Lahore. (X/@thePSLt20)
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Updated 19 February 2024
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Quetta Gladiators two for two after PSL win over scratchy Lahore

Quetta Gladiators two for two after PSL win over scratchy Lahore
  • Quetta romped to 188-5 with five balls to spare after Lahore’s 187-7

LAHORE, Pakistan: Quetta Gladiators clinched a second win from two Pakistan Super League matches by defeating scrappy defending champions Lahore Qalandars by five wickets on Monday.

Unheralded Khawaja Nafay showed plenty of confidence against the star-studded pace attack of Lahore.

Nafay defied the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf by hitting three sixes and four boundaries. He flicked Fakhar Zaman to the fine leg boundary for the winning runs and an unbeaten 60 off 31 balls.

Quetta romped to 188-5 with five balls to spare after Lahore’s 187-7. Lahore lost a second successive home home after dropping three catches.

Lahore opening batter Sahibzada Farhan, dropped on 44, made 62 off 43 balls but it was a breezy unbeaten 45 off 17 balls by Jahandad Khan, who was promoted at No. 5, which propelled them.

Jahandad claimed the momentum in the death overs by hitting four sixes and three boundaries. Jahandad upped the ante when he smacked Abrar Ahmed for three sixes in the leg-spinner’s last over which went for 23.

Quetta made a brisk start to their chase thanks to Jason Roy, 24 runs, and Saud Shakeel, 40. Roy was dropped twice as they combined for 69, another scintillating opening stand after their century partnership against Peshawar.

Both batters fell in successive overs after dominating the powerplay. Zaman Khan clean-bowled Shakeel with a yorker and Roy swiped wildly at spinner Raza’s short ball that hit the middle stump.

Lahore part-time wicketkeeper Farhan had another lapse in the field when he dropped former Quetta captain Sarfaraz Ahmed off the first ball he faced from Rauf.


Boxers arrive in Riyadh for historic 5 vs. 5 event

Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
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Boxers arrive in Riyadh for historic 5 vs. 5 event

Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season. supplied
  • The event is set to make history as the boxing world’s biggest promoters and British rivals, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, go head-to-head
  • The main fight card will see Russian champion Dmitry Bivol up against his Libyan opponent Malik Zinad

The boxers facing off in the eagerly awaited 5 vs. 5 event in Riyadh took part in a grand arrival on Tuesday night at Boulevard City in the Saudi capital.

The event is set to make history as the boxing world’s biggest promoters and British rivals, Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, go head-to-head. Their fighters will battle it out inside the ring on June 1 at the Kingdom Arena as part of Riyadh Season.

The main fight card will see Russian champion Dmitry Bivol up against his Libyan opponent Malik Zinad. The pair drew major attention on Tuesday night as fans approached them at the boxers’ arrival site for photos. Pressure is mounting on both champions to maintain their undefeated records across 22 fights.

On fighting in Saudi, Zinad told Arab News: “This is fantastic — this is a great feeling for me. I give everyone hope to work hard and nothing is impossible … work hard and you will make it.”

His opponent, Bivol, previously told Arab News that the event is an “amazing opportunity” to show his boxing skills to a new region and gain fans in the process.

“Saudi Arabia is still a new region for boxing events but they are doing it well, and I hope they continue doing it,” he said.

For Saturday’s undercards, Warren’s camp includes Nick Ball, Hamzah Sheeraz, Willy Hutchinson,  Daniel Dubois and Zhang Zhilei. Hearn’s lineup includes Austin Williams, Raymond Ford, Craig Richards, Filip Hrgovic and Deontay Wilder.

Arab News asked Warren about the prospects of a Saudi boxer one day representing Queensberry on the world stage.

“I don’t think it’ll be that far off … you look at the skill sets of some of them, look at them working out, you can see that they are really buying into this and into it in a big way,” he said.

“I promise you there will be Saudi champions not long in the future.”

Warren and Hearn’s family rivalry dates back five decades, and boxing fans around the world are bursting with excitement to finally see the two come together for 5 vs. 5.

Warren told Arab News that “Riyadh now is the capital of world boxing” and that boxing events in the Kingdom are “going from strength to strength to strength.”

He added: “I’m 72 now — I’m thinking to myself ‘I have seen it all,’ but I haven't seen it all. I’m getting surprised on a regular basis.”

Hearn believes that Saudi Arabia’s grassroots infrastructure and hosting of top boxing events is significant for building champions of the sport in the Kingdom.

“You go down the local gyms, the Mike Tyson gyms, you see young boys, young girls chasing their dreams because they’re seeing it on the ground here, you know, and you have to have role models — you have to have heroes,” he told Arab News.

“I think that you’re going to see great fighters come out of the Kingdom. It will take time, but the infrastructure is there,” he added.

Spotted at the grand arrival was Saudi pro boxer Ziyad Almaayouf. He told Arab News that fights like 5 vs. 5 “inspire young fighters like me to take the risks, fight the best.”

The event will not only be significant within boxing history, but also for its effects on each fighter’s career.

Ahead of the grand arrival, Wilder told Arab News: “This is everything for me. This could be the be-all and end-all for me.”

The boxers are staging public workouts for fans on Wednesday, and will take part in a press conference on Thursday.

On Friday, the boxers will undergo official weigh-ins before the big event on Saturday evening.


Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league

Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league
Updated 29 May 2024
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Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league

Expo City Dubai to host NBXL, the first US-Middle East professional basketball league
  • The city will become the home of UAE league matches

DUBAI: Expo City Dubai has signed a partnership agreement with the NBXL, the world’s first US-Middle East-based independent professional basketball league.

The city will become the home of UAE league matches and give it naming rights to one of four teams representing Dubai in the inaugural 2025 season.

The signing was a preview to the main launch on Oct. 5, when Expo City Dubai will unveil its team name, logo, key players, merchandise, staff and schedule. The announcement will also reveal three other teams, with entertaining basketball activities and opportunities for fans to meet and greet players.

With NBXL teams featuring elite players from around the world, UAE league matches will be played at Expo City Dubai with additional league games planned in the US and Saudi Arabia.

No stranger to the UAE, the NXBL hosted two days of basketball activities during Expo 2020 Dubai. It also took part in the 2022, 2023 and 2024 Dubai Schools Games Basketball Championships — an initiative by Dubai Sports Council featuring more than 150 private and public schools.

The partnership reflects Expo City Dubai’s commitment to boost the health and well-being of the community by actively engaging the public in sports, fitness and wellness events.


Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup

Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup
Updated 29 May 2024
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Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup

Young Afghan side ‘among the favorites’ for T20 World Cup
  • Afghanistan celebrated their stunning eight-wicket victory against Pakistan in the ODI World Cup in October last year 
  • They finished sixth, ahead of defending champions England who they also beat, stoking hopes for T20 tournament

KABUL: A young Afghan side with an average age of just 25 have vowed to give audiences back home rare cause for jubilation at the T20 World Cup after a breakthrough performance at the 50-over showpiece.
Kabul’s skies were raked with fireworks when Afghanistan celebrated their stunning eight-wicket victory against Pakistan in the ODI World Cup in October.
They finished sixth, ahead of defending champions England — who they also beat — stoking hopes for the T20 tournament in the United States and West Indies starting on Saturday.
“In the past when we would defeat a bigger team, our victory was tagged as an ‘upset’,” 22-year-old Sediqullah Atal told AFP on the phone from their training camp in the West Indies.
“The word ‘upset’ is no longer in the dictionary and we are ranked among the favorites,” the left-handed opening batsman said, insisting his team is “no less than anyone.”
Afghanistan has been through decades of war, but the country’s passion for cricket has never gone away.
“When you have the support of 40 million people and they motivate you, it is a feeling of absolute delight,” said 20-year-old all-rounder Nangeyalia Kharote.
It’s “a matter of great joy” to represent his country, though they must now “match the high expectations” of supporters, he told AFP in Kabul ahead of his departure for the Caribbean.
“The love from the Afghans both at home and abroad is remarkable,” Sediqullah Atal added.
The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), which manages the men’s team, has the full backing of the country’s Taliban government, which forced the United States and its allies out of the country before seizing power in 2021.
The Taliban rulers, yet to be recognized by any country, have effectively banned women from sports however under their austere interpretation of Islam.
Afghanistan’s participation in the World Cup therefore comes with some controversy, skirting the International Cricket Council’s rules which stipulate all Test-playing nations must have a women’s side.
The ICC has previously said the matter is “pending,” allowing Afghanistan to compete — although England and Australia have refused to play them outside the World Cup.
Despite decades of war and poverty Afghan cricket has strengthened, with new academies, sponsorship deals and tournament financing.
Their first match at the 2024 World Cup is on June 4 against Uganda in Guyana.
“Our team has arrived and are playing at a very high level in a short space of time,” cricket enthusiast Afzal Khan, who trains at the Rashid Khan Cricket Academy in Kabul, told AFP.
“They are our heroes, they will have a place in my heart forever,” said the 19-year-old, who hopes to fill the shoes of Afghan captain and ace spinner Rashid Khan.
“They have struggled through lots of difficulties to bring the team and our cricket to this level.”
In an interview published by the ACB last week, Khan pledged: “We will shine well in this World Cup too, and match the expectations of our compatriots.”
Back home in Kabul, another young cricketer in training made those expectations very clear. Naseem Khan told AFP “this will be the best World Cup for Afghanistan.”


T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
Updated 29 May 2024
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T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain

T20 warmup match between England and Pakistan abandoned due of rain
  • The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs
  • The weather condition in England has jeopardized the T20 World Cup preparations for both teams

CARDIFF, Wales: The T20 World Cup preparations of England and Pakistan were further hurt after the third match of their warmup series was abandoned Tuesday without any play possible in Cardiff because of rain.
The first match of the series was also wiped out, before England won the second T20 by 23 runs in Edgbaston on Saturday.
The fourth and final match of the series is at The Oval in London on Thursday. Bad weather is forecast then, too.
The T20 World Cup begins on Saturday in the United States and the Caribbean, with England’s opening match against Scotland in Barbados on June 4 and Pakistan playing for the first time on June 6 against the US.


US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut
Updated 29 May 2024
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US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut

US looking for wins in T20 World Cup debut
  • US earned debut spot at T20 World Cup as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies next month 
  • Cricket has curious history in US, lingering influence of colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence

FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: The US will make their debut in the T20 World Cup and while they earned the spot as a result of co-hosting the tournament with the West Indies, they are determined to show they can make an impact among the big boys.
Cricket has a curious history in North America — the first ever international match featured the US against Canada in 1844 but the lingering influence of the colonial-era game faded as baseball gained prominence.
The US has been an associate member of the International Cricket Council since 1965 and frequently competed in the tournaments for non-Test nations.
But the Americans have never featured in either the T20 World Cup or the ODI version, with their only appearance in a major tournament at the 2004 Champions Trophy, where they were roundly beaten by New Zealand and Australia in the group stage.
Grassroots participation has grown over recent years though with thriving local leagues and the T20 format has been used to develop a stronger base with Minor League Cricket and Major League Cricket emerging in the past few years.
It is too soon for those structures to have had an impact on the national side but smart use of the qualification criteria has seen the side become increasingly competitive.
The team coached by Australian Stuart Law head into the tournament on the back of a 2-1 T20I series win over Bangladesh that has provided them with real belief.
The Americans won the opening two games before resting several key starters to provide some opportunity for their back-ups.
The US, captained by Monank Patel, will have to face giants India and Pakistan along with Ireland and Canada in the group stage.
The addition of former New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson has introduced some World Cup experience and top-class quality into the squad.
Anderson moved to the US in 2020 playing domestic cricket and — as his last game for New Zealand was in 2018 — he was able to switch in 2022 due to the ‘four year rule’ which applies in these cases.
Vice-captain Aaron Jones, who was born in New York but grew up playing in Barbados, says the American team is determined to make a statement in the tournament.
“We want to show everybody in the world that US can actually be a cricketing country and obviously be role models for the kids coming up,” he told AFP.
Jones is one of a number of players with experience of playing cricket outside the US and he has been impressed by the standard of the associate level nations.
“It’s just about getting the opportunity and obviously grasping that opportunity. Afghanistan is a really good team right now and they came through from associate. Ireland obviously came from associate. So the opportunity is there and we just need to really and truly take it and showcase our talent to the world,” he added.
Law has been able to work with a fixed core of players including pace bowler Ali Khan, who grew up in Pakistan and has played in the Caribbean Premier League.
Left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in 2012 while Miami-born Steven Taylor has extensive experience in Caribbean cricket.
Jones, who was persuaded by Taylor to join the US team, rejects any idea that the US is in the tournament just to make up the numbers.
“We want to win games. We want to bring as much competition as any other team in the tournament,” he said.
The shortest form of the game does create the opportunity for more surprises and Jones believes his team are capable of producing some.
“We are a very good team. Obviously we showed that against Bangladesh, one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it an upset if we beat Pakistan or India. I will just say that we played better cricket on the day. It is a game of cricket. The bigger teams can lose as well.”