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Pakistan edge past Afghanistan in nail-biting Asia Cup tie

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Pakistan vs Afghanistan
Pakistan vs Afghanistan

Abu Dhabi, Sep 22: Pakistan got themselves prepared for the India challenge on Sunday with a nervy three-wicket win over Afghanistan in a nail-biting Super Four contest of the Asia Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Friday.

Chasing a modest 258, Pakistan were in control with a 154-run second wicket stand between Imam-ul-Haq (80) and Babar Azam (66) before losing their way with the fall of regular wickets, only to be rescued by former skipper Shoaib Malik’s belligerent 43-ball unbeaten 51.

Pakistan managed to recover from the early loss of opener Fakhar Zaman (0), thanks to Imam and Babar’s patient knocks before a mix-up resulted in the run-out of Imam.

Babar soon followed the opener to the pavilion even as Pakistan’s middle order woes continued to haunt them with number 4 Haris Sohail (13), skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (8), Asif Ali (7) and Mohammad Nawaz (10) all departing within a span of just 48 runs.

Malik, however, wasn’t deterred by the situation and held one end up to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive, and together with Hasan Ali (6 not out) overcame the scare to finally overhaul the target with three balls to spare.

For the Afghans, leg-spinner Rashid Khan (3/46) and offie Mujeeb Ur Rahman (2/33) were the main wicket-takers while Gulbadin Naib chipped in with one scalp.

Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, Afghanistan rode an undefeated half century from Hashmatullah Shahidi (97 not out) and skipper Asghar Afghan’s stroke-filled 56-ball 67 to post a challenging 257/7.

Afghanistan started off well with Rahmat Shah (36) and Shahidi raising 63 runs for the third wicket before the latter went on to add 94 runs with his skipper to propel the team to a decent total.

In another Super Four match on Friday, India rode on an all-round show to outclass Bangladesh by 7 wickets.

India will next play Pakistan in Dubai on Sunday while Bangladesh and Afghanistan will lock horns here on the same day.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan 257/6 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 97 not out, Asghar Afghan 67; Mohammad Nawaz 3/57) lose to Pakistan 258/7 (Imam-ul-Haq 80, Babar Azam 66, Shoaib Malik 51 not out; Rashid Khan 3/46) by 3 wickets.

IANS

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Lionel Messi named best La Liga player in September

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Messi

Madrid, Oct 17:  Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi on Wednesday was named the best player in the Spanish football league for the month of September, La Liga said in a statement.

Messi is to receive the award in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sevilla, reports Efe.

“Leo Messi, the FC Barcelona forward, has been named the La Liga Santander Player of the Month for September,” La Liga said via their website.

“The Argentine scoops the first prize of the 2018/2019 season after an impressive start to the campaign which saw his side go to the top of the standings,” the statement added.

Messi scored three La Liga goals last month, one against Girona and a brace against Huesca, as well as collecting four assists.

Barcelona holds the second spot in the Spanish league table with 15 points, one point behind Sevilla.

IANS

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Wrestlers Bajrang, Sakshi to lead Indian challenge at World C’ships

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Bajrang Punia Sakshi Malik

New Delhi, Oct 16 : Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik and Asian Games gold medallist Bajrang Punia will spearhead the 30-member Indian contingent at the World Wrestling Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary from October 20 to 28.

The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has selected 10 members each in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling categories.

The burden of India’s medal hunt at the worlds will mostly be on the shoulders of Bajrang (65kg) and Sandeep Tomar (57kg) in the men’s freestyle category.

In the women’s section, Sakshi (62kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg) and Ritu Phogat (50kg) are expected to be strong medal contenders in their respective weight categories.

Ritu is the only Phogat sister to feature in the squad as Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh was ruled out because of an elbow injury during the trials.

Four wrestlers — Bajrang, Kuldeep, Gurpreet and Harpreet — have been training in Hungary for more than a fortnight while the rest of the squad joined a week back.

The squads:

Freestyle: Sandeep Tomar (57kg), Sonba Tanaji Gongane (61kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Pankaj Rana (70kg), Jitender (74kg), Sachin Rathi (79kg), Pawan Kumar (86kg), Deepak (92kg) Mausam Khatri (97kg), Sumit (125kg), Jagminder Singh (chief coach).

Women: Ritu Phogat (50kg), Pinki (53kg), Seema (55kg), Pooja Dhanda (57kg), Sangeeta (59kg), Sakshi Malik (62kg), Ritu (65kg), Navjot Kaur (68kg), Rajini (72kg), Kiran (76kg), Kuldeep Malik (chief coach).

Greco Roman: Vijay (55kg), Gyanender (60kg), Gaurav Sharma (63kg), Manish (67kg), Kuldeep Malik (72kg), Gurpreet Singh (77kg), Manjeet (82kg), Harpreet Singh (87kg), Hardeep (97kg), Naveen (130kg), Kuldeep Singh (chief coach).

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Saina survives, Sindhu ousted from Denmark Open

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

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P.V. Sindhu And Saina Nehwal

Odense (Denmark), Oct 16 (IANS) Star shuttler Saina Nehwal survived a scare before progressing to the second round of the Denmark Open but it was heartbreak for Rio silver medallist P.V. Sindhu, who crashed out after being stunned by unseeded American Beiwen Zhang in the opening round of the womens singles event here on Tuesday.

Saina overcame stiff resistance from Hong Kong’s Ngan Yi Cheung before eventually pocketing the match 20-22, 21-17, 24-22 in 81 minutes. However, third seed Sindhu lost 17-21, 21-16, 18-21 to Zhang in another tough opening encounter that lasted 56 minutes.

Saina, who lost to Cheung in their sole previous meeting two years ago, came back from a game down before eventually holding her nerve to advance to the next round.

The match went down to the wire with both the shuttlers going for the kill. But the London Olympics bronze medallist finally managed to keep her cool and save two match points at 21-20 and 22-21 in the decider which helped her pocket the pulsating tie.

Earlier, Sindhu succumbed to her third consecutive loss to American Zhang, who also beat the Hyderabadi at the Indian Open in February this year.

After meekly losing the opening game 17-21, the 23-year-old Sindhu came back strongly in the second and did not allow the American to move ahead before finally winning it 21-16.

In the decider, the American bounced back in style to first take a 12-8 lead before Sindhu hit back to make it 14-13 in her favour.

From thereon, both the shuttlers went neck and neck before the match ended in Zhang’s favour with the scoreline reading a close 21-18.

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