National Herald Tribune : 2020-09-04

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From: Tafheem Printers Pakistan’s wicketkeep­er-batsman Kamran Akmal, while talking with media personnel in Lahore on Thursday, has claimed that captain Babar Azam needs to promote a wicketkeep­er to play alongside himself in the opening spot in order to create a better combinatio­n for the Men in Green. The 38-year-old believed that wicketkeep­ers Sarfaraz Ahmed or Mohammad Rizwan should open alongside the prolific Twenty20 Internatio­nal (T20I) captain. “We need good bowling all-rounder for the middle-order who can score fast while batting well. The team can try Faheem Ashraf, Amir Yamin or Amad Butt for the purpose. It was good to draw the T20I series but we could have won it. Wahab Riaz’s spell proved his worth for the team while Mohammad Hafeez proved that there was no replacemen­t for experience. Seniors can teach a lot to the juniors in the side. Hafeez helped guide the young Haider Ali and played a sensationa­l knock alongside the youngster. Scoring his first fifty in English conditions is a fantastic achievemen­t for Haider Ali,” Akmal said. “They could have defended their score if they had played Wahab Riaz in the second T20I. Spinners from both sides had gone for runs. Fast-bowlers bowled better in the match. Pakistan should have performed better in the Test series as well. The bowlers could not perform according to our expectatio­ns. On the flip side, James Anderson and Stuart Broad dominated through their line and length. Our bowlers were more focused on pace. They should not just forget their mistakes. They will have to be better by learning from all their shortcomin­gs for the future,” he added. Akmal has featured in 53 Tests, 157 One-Day Internatio­nals (ODIs) and 58 T20Is for Pakistan while scoring 2648 runs, 3236 runs and 987 runs respective­ly in each format of the sport. The participat­ion of Pakistan players in the much-awaited Lanka Premier League ( LPL) is in doubt, after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced the schedule of the remaining four HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020 matches, which were postponed on March 17 due to Covid-19 pandemic. The LPL, which is scheduled to be played from November 14 to December 6, will clash with the remaining four matches of PSL 5, which will be held in Lahore on November 14, 15 and 17. Pakistan’s former captains Shahid Afridi and Sarfaraz Ahmed are expected to feature in LPL for the Galle Gladiators side, whereas former wicketkeep­er Moin Khan will serve as its coach for the inaugural edition of the league. The team is owned by the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Quetta Gladiators’ owner Nadeem Omar. If LPL doesn’t reschedule its dates, then Pakistan players will miss the start of the tournament. Apart from PSL, the Abu Dhabi T10 League will also take place from 18 to 28 November. Another PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars has a team by the name of ‘Qalandars’ in the T10 League. Hence, the T10 League can further cast doubt over Pakistan players’ participat­ion in LPL. When PCB was contacted regarding the aforementi­oned issue, the board’s representa­tive said: “We haven’t received any request for No-Objection Certificat­es for the two leagues as of yet. PCB has a clear policy regarding this and will decide accordingl­y.” Whereas, Galle Gladiators’ owner Nadeem owner said: “If board decides to release the players, then we will try to have as many Pakistan cricketers in our team as possible. However, the final call will be made at the draft.” According to sources, PCB decided to release the schedule of the remaining four PSL matches inorder to move the attention of the fans from the disappoint­ing performanc­e of Pakistan team in England. Barcelona would be shattered if Lionel Messi left the club he has graced since he was a boy, but could the departure of arguably the world's top player create the financial conditions to rebuild? The Argentinia­n maestro, who has been with the club since he was 13, handed in a transfer request after Barca's humiliatin­g 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. After all the highs of his 21 years with the club, this was one step too far for Messi. The focus, naturally enough, has been on the football ramificati­ons for Barcelona: how would a Messi exit affect them on the pitch as they try to rebuild under new coach Ronald Koeman? But equally important for the Barca board is the financial implicatio­n of allowing the 33-year-old, who earns over 100 million euros ($118 million) in salary and bonuses per year, to take his brand to another club. The Catalans, however, are in deep financial difficulty. Quite apart from the 200 million euros it claims to have "lost" since the start of the coronaviru­s pandemic, Barca have been carrying a net debt of nearly 200 million euros since 2019. The club has taken out a loan of 140 million over five years with an American investment fund to help pay off the debt. And it has a massive player payroll, reported to be 542 million euros in the 2018-2019 season. So, in simple commercial terms a transfer fee, even if well below the 700 million euros quoted in his disputed release clause, would be a welcome windfall. - Bottom line - "Negotiate, agree, and smile," wrote FC Barcelona journalist Xavier Bosch in a column in Mundo Deportivo on Tuesday, asking everyone to "act intelligen­tly". That may be harder done than said in the world of football, where passion often overrules economic pragmatism. Not surprising­ly the supporters do not want to see the player nicknamed La Pulga (The Flea) leave, even though his performanc­es in the last year suggest a slight waning of his considerab­le powers. But his transfer could be the real starting point on and off the field for the reconstruc­tion of a club that not so long ago was the yardstick and envy of the world. "I like Messi a lot, but I like Barca even more," former club president Joan Gaspart told the Marca sports daily last week. "It is the club that is in control, not the player. If Messi leaves for an amount lower than that of his clause, it will be more humiliatin­g than the 8-2" against Bayern, he said. According to Football Leaks, Messi's annual gross salary in 2018, including bonuses, was more than 100 million euros, almost double that of his former teammate Neymar. The Brazilian, who left Barcelona for Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for a world record fee of 222 million euros, is paid around 52 million euros in salary per year. "There has been a lot of talk about the fact that Barca have a very high payroll but a large part of that sum was intended for Leo and Luis Suarez," economist and FC Barcelona specialist Juan Maria Gay de Liebana told AFP. So in simple terms, even if they recruit another highprofil­e replacemen­t, Barcelona could slash a chunk of cash from the payroll. And that might give Koeman, who arrived in August to replace Quique Setien, some wiggle room in recruiting new players to fulfil his vision for the team. - Marketing losses - But the business of football is never as straightfo­rward as that. "At 854 million euros, Barca have the highest turnover among the biggest European clubs," said Gay de Liebana. "The main core of their income comes from marketing (381 million euros) and TV rights (298 million euros) so it's clear that the departure of Leo Messi will negatively affect Barca's figures." Without Messi, Gay de Liebana believes that Barca's sponsorshi­p contracts, including deals worth 55 million per year with Rakuten and 19 million euros with Beko, could be significan­tly reduced. Naomi Osaka stepped into the Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing a mask that read "Elijah McClain" ahead of her second-round U.S. Open victory on Wednesday, harnessing tennis's global appeal in her fight for racial justice. The 22-year-old's mask honored McClain, the 23-year-old Black man who died after a violent encounter with Aurora, Colorado, police officers in 2019. "I think tennis - people watch it all around the world," she said in a televised interview after her match. "Things that we think (are) common names (are) probably not common overseas." She had previously worn a mask honoring Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police officers who burst into her apartment in March, at her first-round match on Monday, and said she had seven different masks with her at the tournament. "When I heard about his story it was very hurtful," Osaka later told reporters, when asked about McClain. In a lawsuit filed last month against the city of Aurora and its police, McClain's family alleged he was tackled by police officers during an encounter despite presenting no physical threat. "I still don't think his name is very put out there compared to, like, George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. For me, today was very special in the way that I wanted to represent him very well," she said. Australia coach Justin Langer praised Pakistan's "fantastic" Haider Ali after the teenager marked his internatio­nal debut with a sparkling fifty against England. The 19-year-old made 54, becoming the first Pakistan batsman to score a half-century in his first Twenty20 internatio­nal as the tourists beat England by five runs in a last-ball thriller in Manchester on Tuesday. Haider came in with Pakistan 2-1 after the loss of Fakhar Zaman at Old Trafford yet struck his second ball in internatio­nal cricket, from off-spinner Moeen Ali, for a soaring six. "He's fantastic," said Langer in a conference call Wednesday from Southampto­n, where Australia begin a three-match Twenty20 series of their own against England later this week. "Pakistan as we've always known, they are like a sleeping giant. They've got so much talent, it's like India, it's exciting to watch." Pakistan's tour-ending victory meant the three-match T20 series finished all square at 1-1, with one rain-marred no result. The game was also notable for a stand of exactly 100 between Haider and 39-yearold veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez, who made an unbeaten 86. Asked if he had ever been involved in a partnershi­p featuring a similar age gap, former Australia opening batsman Langer replied: "My experience of that was with Shaun Marsh. "I've known him since he was born. Geoff Marsh (Shaun's father) and Michelle, they are great friends of mine. Geoff was my first captain. "We played together when he was 17 or 18 for Western Australia. I understand that experience for the Pakistanis last night. It's great to see these young kids come in and play. "He (Haider) hit a six off his second ball in internatio­nal cricket, it's exciting to watch." One of England's most extraordin­ary seasons will end with them facing archrivals Australia as both sides try to strike a balance between playing their strongest limited-overs teams and keeping an eye on the future. The coronaviru­s pandemic threatened to wipe out England's entire home season yet they are now set to complete all 18 scheduled men's internatio­nals, albeit the fixtures have been played behind closed doors. They face Australia in three Twenty20s in Southampto­n starting on Friday before taking on their oldest foes in a further three one-day internatio­nals in Manchester later this month. The Twenty20s should have served as preparatio­n for October's T20 World Cup in Australia but the Covid-19 outbreak means the next edition of the global showpiece will take place in India in 2021. That does give both teams time to fine-tune their line-ups but equally they may want to give their strongest XIs as much as time as they can in their middle. Australia are currently the world's top-ranked T20 side, with much of thir success built on a top order featuring captain Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith. So even though the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Marnus Labuschagn­e have been in the England were without several multiforma­t players during their recent T20 series with Pakistan that ended in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Tuesday. The likes of 21-year-old opener Tom Banton starred against Pakistan but Jos Buttler could now regain his place at the top of the order. World Cup-winning fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood will provide extra firepower to an attack still without star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who remains on compassion­ate leave while he spends time with his ill father. "Dangerous... that's what I made of England," said Langer. "I've watched the way Eoin Morgan plays, it's exciting to watch, he just comes out and smacks it from ball one." "They've been the best one-day team in the world for a few years now. "They are a very good cricket team, well led. We know what to expect and we'll be ready." Meanwhile Wood hopes he can get inside the head of a few batsmen ahead of the 2021/22 Ashes in Australia. "There's an extra incentive when you play Australia, your biggest rivals," said Wood. "They are desperate to beat you, you are desperate to beat them. It doesn't matter if it's the Ashes, white ball, T20." runs during Australia's warm-up matches in England, they are unlikely to displace the three premier batsmen. "We've had a pretty settled T20 side over the last 12 months or so and all we can ask for is that guys bang so hard they are putting pressure on the guys in there," said Australia coach Justin Langer, who can also call upon Glenn Maxwell in the middle-order after he took a break to deal with mental health "I don't think we can have a scenario issues. where we can play the majority of our England beat Australia in the semifinals games with a half-strength team and on the way to winning last year's then expect to go into a World Cup as 50-over World Cup and white-ball captain contenders when guys don't know their Eoin Morgan believes consistenc­y roles or haven't been familiaris­ed with of selection is important if they are to them," he said. replicate that triumph in the T20 equivalent. - 'Dangerous' - National Herald Tribune, Friday, September 4, 2020

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