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Record-equalling Ronaldo saves Portugal as Germany avoid shock exit

Record-equalling Ronaldo saves Portugal as Germany avoid shock exit

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369702

LONDON: Cristiano Ronaldo equalled the all-time international scoring record with his 109th goal for Portugal as the reigning champions scraped into the last 16 of Euro 2020 on Wednesday along with Germany.

The Portugal captain netted a pair of penalties in a 2-2 draw with world champions France in Budapest to send his team through as one of the four best third-placed sides on a dramatic night in Group ‘F’.

Germany needed an 84th-minute equaliser from Leon Goretzka to rescue a nervy 2-2 draw with Hungary in Munich, setting up a heavyweight showdown with England at Wembley next week.

The 36-year-old Ronaldo gave Portugal the lead just after the half-hour mark with his first spot-kick, before France hit back through Karim Benzema’s two goals either side of half-time, his first ever at the tournament after failing to find the target at Euro 2008 and 2012.

But, with Portugal heading out as it stood with Hungary leading Germany, Ronaldo converted another penalty on the hour to help Portugal finish in third place in the group, one spot behind Germany, and through to a clash with top-ranked Belgium.

Ronaldo’s fifth goal of the group stage extended his record tally of Euro goals to 14 and drew him level with former Iran striker Ali Daei, in his 178th international match.

“We did everything I wanted us to do [in the 4-2 defeat] against Germany,” Portuguese coach Fernando Santos told RTP. “The result was clearly fair.”

Benzema also scored a penalty in first-half injury time after Kylian Mbappe was fouled. It was Benzema’s first international goal in nearly six years after losing his place in the team following a fallout with coach Didier Deschamps.

France finished top of the group on five points and will take on Switzerland in the first knockout round.

“It was a fight, it wasn’t easy,” France coach Desch­amps told TF1. “I know very well that a new competition will be starting from the last 16.”

Germany narrowly avoided a repeat of their group stage exit at the 2018 World Cup, twice coming from behind against Hungary to advance as runners-up.

Jamal Musiala made an immediate impact after coming on in the 82nd minute, eluding three defenders to give Timo Werner room to shoot. Werner was blocked but the rebound fell for Goretzka, who shot past goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in the 84th.

It had looked like Adam Szalai was going to drag his team into the round of 16. The Hungary captain scored one goal early against the run of play and set up Andras Schaefer to make it 2-1 right after Kai Havertz had equalised for Germany.

“We made mistakes but fought and showed superb morale,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “It was not for the faint-hearted. Now it will a real highlight to play against England at Wembley.”

Just minutes before kick-off at Munich’s Allianz Arena, a fan wearing a Germany shirt and waving a large rainbow flag evaded security to invade the pitch, running in front of the lined-up teams before being tackled by stewards and led away.

The build-up to the match had been overshadowed by the fallout from UEFA’s decision to block plans by Munich authorities to light the stadium in rainbow colours.

Final standings Group ‘F’ (Tabulated under played, won, drawn, lost, goals scored, goals conceded, points): France 3 1 2 0 4 3 5 Germany 3 1 1 1 6 5 4 Portugal 3 1 1 1 7 6 4 Hungary 3 0 2 1 3 6 2

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021
Prime minister, Hadlee hail New Zealand’s greatest cricket triumph

Prime minister, Hadlee hail New Zealand’s greatest cricket triumph

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369704

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the nation’s greatest cricketer Richard Hadlee led the tributes on Thursday after the Black Caps claimed the inaugural World Test Championship (WTC) by beating India.

Kane Williamson’s team became Test cricket’s first official world champions after prevailing by eight wickets in Southampton on Wednesday, the reserve day of a match plagued by bad weather.

“The Black Caps have made New Zealand proud. This was a masterful performance from a team at the top of their game and on top of the world,” Ardern said in a statement. “Kane Williamson and the team leadership have built a brilliant and humble squad who have become an inspiration to many New Zealanders.

“Over a number of years now we have seen the development of a team and team culture that has taken New Zea­land cricket to world beating heights.”

New Zealand have been to the semi-final of the 50-over World Cup eight times and lost the last two finals, in heartbreaking fashion to England on the boundary countback rule after the 2019 decider was tied.

Throughout those setbacks, New Zealand have continued to play in a spirit sometimes derided as ‘nice guy’ cricket.

More importantly, they have won all but one match, a draw, in four Test series since a 3-0 drubbing in Australia around the turn of 2020.

Hadlee, one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of the game, said the New Zealand Test team ‘thoroughly deserved’ the title on the back of their recent form.

“Over the past two years, the Black Caps performances in the Test arena have been outstanding with Test match and series wins at home and abroad,” the 69-year-old said. “The whole team has shown a high degree of professionalism. Their skill sets have complemented each other to make them a complete playing unit. “It’s fair to say that this current group of players is the best in our history.”

The final was screened through the night in New Zealand and bleary-eyed viewers were mindful of the Black Caps’ defeats in the past two one-day World Cup deciders.

New Zealand rugby’s three-time world champions All Blacks said those results, devastating at the time, could now be regarded as ‘just warm-ups for the main event’.

“Congratulations @BLACKCAPS on taking out the grandest prize ever on offer in the history of cricket, the World Test Championship,” the team’s official Twitter feed said. “You dreamed big and made us all proud.”

Many pointed to the huge disparity in financial and playing resources between India and New Zealand.

“It’s a story that’s akin to David versus Goliath but Kane Williamson and his team are now World Test Champions and living proof that sometimes, just sometimes, nice guys do finish first,” former Test cricketer-turned-commentator Simon Doull said.

ndian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar said New Zealand deserved their victory.

“Congrats @BLACKCAPS on winning the #WTC21. You were the superior team,” Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.

Former India batting stalwart V.V.S. Laxman agreed.

“Congratulations @BLACKCAPS on being deserving champions,” he tweeted. “NZ bowlers were terrific, Williamson and Taylor brought in their experience to finish the job.”

Another ex-New Zealand player, Mark Richardson, highlighted the conscious decision to avoid ‘the boorish and despicable manner Australia played in when they were at their most dominant’.

“They play hard and they get stuck in but I think they’re trying to bring back that whole gentleman’s game side of it that cricket used to have a long time ago,” he told TV3.

News website cricket writer Mark Geenty labelled the New Zealander ‘giant slayers’, singling out paceman Kyle Jamieson as an emerging star after a player-of-the-match performance.

“Jamieson was the dominant individual at Southampton, snaring match figures of 7-61 including the prized wicket of Kohli in both innings,” he wrote. “Sixteen months after making his debut against India at Wellington, Jamieson has 46 wickets from eight Tests at the scarcely believable average of 14.”

Others noted how fitting it was that Williamson and veteran batsman Ross Taylor — both key figures in New Zealand’s rise — were in the middle when the winning runs were scored.

Amid the joy, Australian cricket captain Tim Paine was trending on New Zealand Twitter as the result of his pre-match prediction that India would win ‘pretty comfortably’.

“Has anyone checked on Tim?” Black Caps fan Benji Crossley tweeted. “I’m here for the pettiness today.”

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021
Euros up for grabs as main contenders wobble

Euros up for grabs as main contenders wobble

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369703

LONDON: The European Championship is well and truly up for grabs as the tournament enters the knockouts after a compelling group stage in which some top nations fell short of expectations while two fallen powers staged a resurgence.

Italy and the Netherlands, who both failed to qualify for the last World Cup, have played some of the best football and made up two of the three sides to win all their group games.

Belgium, the number one ranked team in the world and the only top side to have fully lived up to expectations, were the other to accrue nine points.

World champions France, meanwhile, are yet to catch fire and were involved in one of the shocks of the tournament when they drew 1-1 with Hungary, only for Group ‘F’ rivals Germany to suffer even more against the minnows before snatching a 2-2 draw to sneak into the last 16 and avoid another major tournament humiliation.

More superpowers have struggled, such as holders Portugal, who were overwhelmed 4-2 by Germany and needed a flurry of late goals to beat the dogged Hungary.

Euro 2008 and 2012 winners Spain were booed off the pitch by unhappy fans after drawing their first two games before eventually lifting off by hammering Slovakia 5-0.

England coach Gareth Southgate meanwhile has faced criticism for deploying conservative tactics, in particular after a surprise 0-0 draw with Scotland, while his captain Harry Kane has had a tournament to forget and is yet to score.

Italy have been perhaps the best side overall thanks to a remarkable tactical shift from Roberto Mancini, who has turned the nation famed for defensive ‘Catenaccio’ into a relentless pressing side capable of scoring from all areas.

Italy have benefitted from some kind fixtures though and should also make light work of Austria to make the quarter-finals, where their mettle will be truly tested by either Portugal or Belgium.

The same is true of the Netherlands, who are the top scorers with eight goals but have looked vulnerable at the back and were fortunate not to concede against rank outsiders North Macedonia.

The Dutch have a kind path in the knockout rounds too, facing the Czech Republic next for the chance to play the winner of Wales against Denmark in the quarters.


Two last-16 fixtures stand out in particular: England face Germany in a repeat of the 1996 semi-final at Wembley and Portugal meet Belgium in a showdown between two of the outstanding strikers of the tournament in Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Spain v Croatia is another fascinating fixture, with Luka Modric proving a peerless midfielder in their final outing against Scotland, even at 35 years old, and he will be relishing the chance to face many of his La Liga rivals.

Had Germany lost to Hungary they would have been condemned to an ignominious first-round exit just like at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but now they could be galvanised heading to Wembley next Tuesday for the latest instalment in their long-running rivalry with the English.

The tie brings back memories of the 1966 World Cup final at the same venue which England won 4-2 after extra time.

However it also leads inevitably to mentions of Euro 96 when Germany beat England on penalties at Wembley in the semi-finals before going on to lift the trophy in the final against the Czech Republic.

Indeed, since 1966, Ger­many have prevailed in all three meetings of the countries in the knockout stages, most recently with a 4-1 win in the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Holders Portugal could scarcely have asked for a tougher tie than a meeting with Belgium, the top-ranked team in the world.

Portugal, who only went through as one of the best third-placed sides, will have had two days fewer rest than the Belgians before the game in Seville on Sunday.

“Forty-eight hours difference, in temperatures of over 30 degrees, of course it makes a difference, but we are not going to go looking for a handicap,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos. “It is a good game on paper and I hope it will be a great game for Portugal.”

World Cup holders France topped their group and they will now take on Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.

If they win that, they will face either Croatia or Spain in Saint Petersburg, in the same venue where they defeated Belgium in the semi-finals on the way to winning the World Cup three years ago.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021
Pakistan’s England tour itinerary announced

Pakistan’s England tour itinerary announced

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369701

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Thursday announced the programme of national team’s England tour during which the tourists will play three One-day Inter­nationals and as many T20 Internationals.

The Babar Azam-led Pakistan squad will travel to Birmingham on Friday on a chartered flight from Abu Dhabi.

First, a group of eight officials and three cricketers will leave Lahore for Abu Dhabi from where the same day the rest of the players will join them to fly to Birmingham. From Birmingham, the Pakistan contingent will go to Derby, where they will spend three days in room isolation before resuming their training sessions from Monday (June 28).

During their stay at an isolation facility in Derby, the Pakistan side will also play two 50-overs-a-side intra-squad practice matches and will head to Cardiff on July 6 where the first ODI will be played on July 8.

Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq will hold a virtual media conference on June 27.

From June 28 to 30, the team will hold a training session and on July 1 they will feature in an intra-squad 50-overs-a-side practice match. After a rest on July 2, the second intra-squad match will be played the next day. On July 4 and 5, training sessions for the Pakistan squad will be held. Next day the squad will travel to Cardiff for the first ODI.


ODI: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir

T20: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Arshad Iqbal, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Sohaib Maqsood, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Wasim Jr, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, Usman Qadir

Tour itinerary:

June 25: Departure for Derby

July 6: Arrival in Cardiff

July 8: First ODI, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

July 10: Second ODI, Lord’s, London

July 13: Third ODI, Edgbaston, Birmingham

July 16: First T20 International, Trent Bridge, Nottingham

July 18: Second T20 International, Headingley, Leeds

July 20: Third T20 International, Old Trafford, Manchester.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021
Multan Sultans outclass Peshawar Zalmi to seal maiden PSL title

Multan Sultans outclass Peshawar Zalmi to seal maiden PSL title

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369604

KARACHI: Peshawar Zalmi were left heartbroken for the third time in four seasons as Multan Sultans outclassed them by 47 runs in the final to clinch their maiden HBL Pakistan Super League crown at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Chasing a record target of 207 in a decider, Peshawar’s reply never got going as a daunting asking rate of over 10 runs an over proved too much for them.

Their hopes vanished quite early in the last of Powerplay overs when towering pace bowler Blessing Muzarabani dismissed Hazratullah Zazai for just six. Muzarabani was clever enough to change his pace and the slower ball was cut by Zazai towards Shan Masood at short point.

The demise of the Afghan left-hander, who had been in red-hot form, struck Pesha­war like lightning and there was no comeback after that.

Earlier Multan had rattled up 206-4 on the back of blistering half-centuries from Sohaib Maqsood and Rilee Rossouw.

The joy on the faces of Multan players was obvious because it became a virtual one-way traffic for Moham­mad Rizwan’s charges while Peshawar limped to their third successive defeat in a final — the 2017 title winners were humbled by Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

The wily former South African spinner Imran Tahir drove the last nail in Peshawar’s coffin by picking three wickets in his last over to finish with 3-33. The only semblance of fight came from Shoaib Malik, who waged a lone battle by striking 48 off 28 balls (three sixes and three fours). He shared the only substantial partnership of the innings — 66 in 30 balls — with Rovman Powell (23).

Multan put up a scintillating exhibition of power-hitting coupled with deft touches, through Sohaib and Rossouw to comfortably cross the magical 200 mark. The third-wicket partnership of 98 in just 44 balls between them left Peshawar in a daze as the rampant Multan batting plundered 116 runs from the last eight overs, thanks to sizzling strokes from Sohaib and Rossouw. Khushdil Shah rubbed more salt into Peshawar’s wounds by smacking two consecutive sixes off Amad Butt, who went for 21 runs in the final over.

Multan, who were languishing on the fifth spot when the Karachi leg was suspended in March, made it to the decider by winning five out of six matches on the Abu Dhabi leg, while Peshawar faced a bumpy ride, losing twice at the start.

But on the biggest night of the competition Multan, as expected, chose to field an unchanged XI but Peshawar had to alter their side after Umaid Asif became unavailable because he breached the bio-secure bubble protocols on Wednesday. Fellow seamer Sameen Gul replaced him.

Wahab Riaz got his wish fulfilled when the Peshawar skipper called correctly at the toss, and straightaway opted to bowl. He must have been mindful of the fact that his team had won both Eliminators — against Karachi Kings and Islamabad United — by chasing and also that four previous finals had gone to the side batting second.

Both Shan Masood and Rizwan took time getting out of their blocks against a one-dimension bowling attack as Peshawar opted for an all-pace attack. Shan did strike three boundaries in the fifth over — delivered by Sameen — after Rizwan had deposited Mohammad Irfan over the square leg boundary in the previous over for the first maximum of the innings.

However, desperation finally got to Shan when he tried an ugly hoick against emerging left-arm seamer Mohammad Imran and was gone for a 29-ball 37 (six boundaries) to end a stand of 68 from 52 deliveries.

Rizwan, who scored run-a-ball 30 (two fours and one six) and also became the first player this year to cross 1,000 runs in all T20 cricket, soon followed his opening partner when Imran forced him to chase a wide delivery.

Rizwan scored 500 runs with the bat in the tournament and made 20 dismissals in 12 matches.

And then came the fireworks from Sohaib and Rossouw.

Sohaib was adjudged Player of the Tournament as well as Player of the Match.

He celebrated his inclusion in Pakistan’s white-ball squads for the coming tours of England and the West Indies in great style, hitting 65 off 35 balls with the aid of six fours and three sixes.

Rossouw, along with Sohail Tanvir, was part of the Quetta Gladiators’ title-winning side two years ago when Sohaib played in the final at Karachi for Peshawar. He was severe on the Peshawar bowling as the ex-South African belted a hurricane 50 from only 21 deliveries with five fours and three sixes. The first six was a breathtaking scoop behind square leg off Amad.



Shan Masood b Imran37

Mohammad Rizwan c Kamran b Imran30

Sohaib Maqsood not out65

R.R. Rossouw c Irfan b Sameen50

J. Charles lbw b Sameen0

Khushdil Shah not out15

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-6, NB-1)9

TOTAL (for four wkts, 20 overs)206

FALL OF WKTS: 1-68 (Shan, 8.4 ov), 2-83 (Rizwan, 10.6 ov), 3-181 (Rossouw, 18.2 ov), 4-183 (Charles, 18.3 ov).

DID NOT BAT: Sohail Tanvir, Imran Tahir, B. Muzarabani, Imran Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani.

BOWLING: Sameen Gul 4-0-26-2 (2w); Mohammad Irfan 4-0-27-0; Wahab Riaz 4-0-52-0 (3w); Amad Butt 4-0-52-0 (1nb); Mohammad Imran 4-0-47-2.


Kamran Akmal b Imran Khan36

Hazratullah Zazai c Shan b Muzarabani6

J.W. Wells run out6

Shoaib Malik c Imran Tahir b Sohail48

R. Powell c Rizwan b Muzarabani23

S.E. Rutherford c Rizwan b Imran Tahir18

Amad Butt c Rizwan b Imran Khan7

Wahab Riaz b Imran Tahir0

Mohammad Imran b Imran Tahir0

Sameen Gul not out7

Mohammad Irfan not out0

EXTRAS (W-6, NB-2)8

TOTAL (for nine wkts, 20 overs)159

FALL OF WKTS: 1-42 (Zazai, 5.2 ov), 2-42 (Kamran Akmal, 6.1 ov), 3-58 (Wells, 9.2 ov), 4-124 (Powell 14.1 ov), 5-137 (Shoaib Malik, 15,1 ov), 6-150 (Rutherford, 16.3 ov), 7-151 (Wahab Riaz, 16.5 ov), 8-151 (Mohammad Imran, 16.6 ov), 9-151 (Amad Butt).

BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 4-0-35-1; Imran Khan 4-1-27-2 (1nb, 1w); Muzarabani 4-0-26-2 (1nb); Shahnawaz Dahani 4-0-38-0 (2w); Imran Tahir 4-0-33-3 (3w).

RESULT: Multan Sultans won by 47 runs.

UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza and Aleem Dar.

TV UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob.

MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees.

PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Sohaib Maqsood (Multan Sultans).

PLAYER-OF-THE-TOURNAMENT: Sohaib Maqsood (Multan Sultans).

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2021
Kiwi joy as 'nice guys' crowned Test champions

Kiwi joy as 'nice guys' crowned Test champions

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369566
WELLINGTON: New Zealand cricket fans on Thursday hailed a “David and Goliath” win over India in the inaugural World Test Championship, praising Kane Williamson’s men for erasing the heartache of recent big-match failures.The Black Caps were also lauded for the manner in which...
Sohaib to replace Haider for England, WI tours

Sohaib to replace Haider for England, WI tours

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369565
KARACHI: Hours before their HBL PSL-6 final showdown against Multan Sultans on Thursday in Abu Dhabi, former champions Peshawar Zalmi received a body blow when their key pacer Umaid Asif and young batting sensation Haider Ali were suspended for breaching the bio-secure protocols.Both have been...
Sindh allocates Rs1.5 billion for hockey stadium

Sindh allocates Rs1.5 billion for hockey stadium

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369567
KARACHI: PHF president Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar said on Thursday that Sindh government had allocated Rs1.5 billion for the reconstruction of Abdul Sattar Edhi stadium.The provincial government would also establish a hockey school of excellence in Karachi, the PHF president said while addressing...
Two-time Olympic tennis champ Murray selected for Tokyo

Two-time Olympic tennis champ Murray selected for Tokyo

25/06/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30369568
LONDON: Andy Murray can dream of a third successive Olympic tennis singles title after the former world number one was selected in the British team for the Tokyo Games.The 34-year-old Scot’s career has been blighted by injury since beating Juan Martin del Potro in a memorable final in the...