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HARARE: The final one-day international between Zimbabwe and Pakistan on Saturday looks set to go ahead after Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) fended off another proposed player strike over unpaid wages on Friday.

ZC had promised that all money owing to the players, who have not been paid since the end of June, would be settled by Wednesday after the players refused to train ahead of Pakistan's tour.

However the board failed to meet that deadline, sparking further conversations among the players when they arrived for training on Friday morning.

The players took part in some planning sessions for Saturday's third ODI, but threatened to boycott the match if the money owed to them was not in their accounts by 5pm (1500 GMT).

Although that has not happened, it is believed that transfers were made by ZC in front of a group of senior players on Friday afternoon.

One player told AFP that he expected Saturday's match to go ahead, but that a collective decision would only be made when Zimbabwe's cricketers arrived at Harare Sports Club in the morning.

However should ZC, who are swaddled with debt, continue to stall then the players may issue a new ultimatum for next week's Test match.

The first Test of a two-match series is due to get underway in Harare on Tuesday.

In the meantime, should they take the field on Saturday Zimbabwe will have the opportunity to inflict their first ever one-day series victory over Pakistan.

Having endured the ignominy of a seven-wicket defeat to Zimbabwe in the first ODI on Tuesday, Pakistan bounced back to win the second match by 90 runs thanks largely to Mohammad Hafeez's classy century.

However Misbah-ul-Haq's side know that they are not out of the woods, and are determined to avoid another indelible black mark on their record from a side who are ranked tenth in the world and have clashed regularly with their own board over the course of the past five months.

“Playing against such teams can be difficult because when you lose to them, the defeat is remembered for a long time,” said Umar Amin, who made 59 on Thursday.

“Saturday's game is very crucial - a series decider - so we need to win it.”

 

HARARE: A sturdy 85 from Hamilton Masakadza and a crucial late cameo from Sean Williams saw Zimbabwe record their first oneday win over Pakistan since 1998. Chasing 245 in the first one-day international of a threematch series yesterday, Masakadza laid the platform before Williams finished the job with an unbeaten 39 from 23 deliveries as Zimbabwe won by seven wickets with 10 balls to spare. Although Misbah-ul-Haq held the Pakistan innings together in his 50th consecutive ODI as Pakistan captain, he was left to lament his decision to bat first at a venue where the pitch generally improves as the day goes on. “We misread the pitch – it was looking like it was going to be slow in the second innings, but I think it was slow in the first innings and played better in the second,” said Misbah. “Still I think Zimbabwe really deserved it – they played really well and played better than us.

There was no panic in their batting line-up and they did it comfortably.” Misbah finished unbeaten on 83 and shared in a 99-run stand for the third wicket with Mohammad Hafeez, who made 70, but with Pakistan’s middle and lower order failing to fire they could only manage 244 for seven. It could have been far worse for the tourists had Zimbabwe held their catches – both Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad were put down during an opening partnership of 56, while Hafeez was let off on 10 and 55. Misbah required no such luck in a well-paced knock that saw him go to fifty in 62 balls before opening up towards the end, and his two sixes off Tinashe Panyangara in the final over of the innings ensured that Pakistan at least had something to bowl at. However Masakadza, who was restored to the top of the Zimbabwean innings for Pakistan’s tour, put on a confident stand of 107 with his opening partner Vusi Sibanda as Pakistan’s bowlers found little assistance in the pitch.

Sibanda was eventually trapped lbw for 54 by Saeed Ajmal, but Brendan Taylor maintained stability with a calm 43 not out as he and Masakadza took Zimbabwe to 176 for one in the 38th over. Masakadza missed out on a potential century when he slapped an Ajmal delivery straight to short extra cover, and the pressure was back on when Timycen Maruma put in another nervous showing with the bat. Zimbabwe needed a nerveless innings to put them back on track, and Williams provided it as he struck four fours before finishing the game in emphatic fashion when he hit Mohammad Irfan for six over wide longon.” We were badly beaten by India a couple of weeks back, so to come out with that sort of performance shows a lot of character,” said Taylor. “To beat the quality team that they’ve got shows we’re doing the right things, and it just shows that if our top-order batters come off it lays that foundation.” The two sides meet again at the same venue tomorrow. — AFP

HARARE: Ahmed Shehzad shone with the bat and Shahid Afridi struck with the ball as Pakistan opened their tour of Zimbabwe with a comfortable victory in the first Twenty20 international yesterday. Shehzad’s measured 70 allowed Pakistan to post a strong total of 161 for five, before Afridi snubbed out Zimbabwean resistance with three wickets to secure a 25-run victory.

Although Zimbabwe were much improved from the side that lost a recent one-day series against India 5-0, they let things slip in the field midway through the Pakistan innings and also lost their way after a promising start with the bat. Shehzad’s patience up front proved key to the match as he saw out a tricky opening period when Pakistan lost Nasir Jamshed and captain Mohammad Hafeez to Tendai Chatara, before slowly taking control against Zimbabwe’s other seamers.

“Early on it was doing a bit. They bowled a good channel and that’s why they picked up a couple of wickets, but after six overs the ball was coming on nicely and I was able to manoeuvre the ball,” Shehzad said. The opener took 17 runs off Elton Chigumbura’s first over to put the pressure back on Zimbabwe, and shared in a 55-run stand with debutant Sohaib Maqsood. Shehzad struck six fours and a six in his 50-ball innings before he was eventually caught on the boundary off the bowling of Shingirai Masakadza.

Afridi ensured that Pakistan finished strongly, hitting 23 not out from 16 deliveries, and then made key breakthroughs in the Zimbabwean innings in claiming figures of 3 for 25. The home side started brightly with a 53-run opening stand between Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, but their inability to accelerate from a solid base meant that they never really threatened to achieve their target.

Afridi picked up the wickets of Sibanda and Timycen Maruma after labored innings by both batsmen, and also dismissed the dangerous Chigumbura cheaply. Although Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor came in at number three and finished unbeaten, he was often starved of the strike as he faced just 30 balls in top-scoring with 32.

Malcolm Waller’s late salvo saw him take a six and a four off Saeed Ajmal’s final over, but with too much to do Zimbabwe finished well short of the line. “We always know that once we score 150-plus, it will be tough for the opposition to score the runs with our good bowling side,” Hafeez said. The two teams will face off again at the same venue in the second and final Twenty20 international today.- AFP

LAHORE: Pakistan's interim cricket chief said Monday he would ask the sport's governing body to reduce a five-year ban against promising fast bowler Mohammad Aamer for spot fixing.

Aamer, regarded as hot property in international cricket for his pace and guile, was banned with team-mates Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif in February 2011 by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

The trio were exposed in a sting operation by now defunct British tabloid News of the World, which saw them promising to bowl deliberate no-balls in return for money in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.

All three and their agent Mazhar Majeed were also jailed in 2011.

Najam Sethi, appointed interim chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday, said he would ask the ICC to reduce Aamer's ban at its annual meeting in London starting on Tuesday.

"Aamer is our talented cricketer and I will request the ICC that (as) he has spent two and a half years of his ban, was also jailed, so for God's sake reduce his ban," Sethi told a press conference.

Under the ICC players code of conduct the minimum punishment for such a violation is five years.

Sethi, a 65-year-old journalist who was also interim chief minister of Punjab during a recent general election campaign, replaced Zaka Ashraf after he was suspended on charges of being dubiously elected.

Sethi promised accountability over any failings of the national team following their dismal show in the Champions Trophy where they lost all three matches.

"I want to stress that in the future the captain, coach, vice captain and the selection committee will be held accountable in case the team fails in any event," said Sethi.

Sethi said events such as Saturday's killing of 10 foreign climbers in the north made it difficult to bring international cricket back to Pakistan, a task he said would be for a permanent chairman.

International cricket has been suspended in Pakistan since militants

attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, forcing the national team to play their home matches on neutral venues.

Sethi said the squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies would be announced later this week. Pakistan will play five one-day and two Twenty20 internationals in the Caribbean next month. (AFP)

BIRMINGHAM: India added the Champions Trophy title to the World Cup they won two years ago after seeing off England by five runs in a dramatic Champions Trophy final at Edgbaston yesterday. Tournament hosts England, still to win a major one-day international title, appeared to have done the hard work in holding India to 129 for seven in a match reduced by rain to a 20 overs per side contest. But, chasing 130, they collapsed to 46 for four, before a partnership of 64 between former Ireland left-hander Eoin Morgan (33) and Ravi Bopara (30), who’d earlier taken three for 20 with his medium-pacers, swung the match back their way. However, India seamer Ishant Sharma turned the match on its head by removing Morgan and Bopara, both with the aid of catches by Ravichandran Ashwin, off successive deliveries to leave England 110 for six in their 18th over and needing 19 off the last 12 balls.

That eventually became six off one ball and that proved too much for tailender James Tredwell as he failed to make contact against fellow off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.   Ravindra Jadeja was named man-of-the-match after making 33 not out and then taking two for 24 with his left-arm spin. India’s win left England still searching for their first major ODI trophy after defeats in three World Cup finals (1979, 1987 and 1992) and a loss to the West Indies at The Oval in the 2004 Champions Trophy final when they last staged this event. If this was, as has been stated by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the last Champions Trophy, it certainly went out with a bang with India’s youthful side containing just three survivors-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina-from the team that beat Sri Lanka in Mumbai to win the 2011 World Cup final.

England’s reply suffered an early setback when captain Alastair Cook (two) was well caught in the slips for two by Ashwin off Umesh Yada. They were 28 for two when Jonathan Trott, on his Warwickshire home ground, was stumped by Dhoni off Ashwin for 20. Joe Root then holed out cheaply off Ashwin before opener Ian Bell, like Trott a Warwickshire player, was stumped off Jadeja.

It was a desperately close call but, after several minutes’ study, Australian third umpire Bruce Oxenford ruled in India’s favor, although Bell was clearly convinced there was enough doubt for the decision to go his way, and England were in trouble at 46 for four. England needed 59 off the final 36 balls but that target was reduced to 48 off 30 balls after Bopara launched Ishant Sharma over mid-wicket for six.

Morgan then weighed in with a reverse-sweep four off part-time spinner Raina. Bopara swept Jadeja for six to raise a fifty stand with Morgan. But Morgan then holed out and Bopara, off what might have been a wide had he left it alone, was caught off a hook.
The organisers, keen to provide some meaningful cricket in what was meant to be a 50 overs per side contest, took the unusual decision to extend play by two hours to ensure a result in front of a packed crowd, with no reserve day. England dismantled the Indian top-order after winning the toss in overcast conditions. India, who shared the 2002 Champions Trophy after a rain-ruined final against Sri Lanka in Colombo, were reduced to 66 for five before Kohli and Jadeja boosted the total by adding a quickfire 47 for the sixth wicket. Kohli smashed 43 off 34 balls that included four boundaries and a six, before he holed out off James Anderson in the penultimate over.

Jadeja faced 25-balls for his unbeaten 33. Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who went into the final as the tournament’s leading scorer with 332 runs in four matches, hit 31 of 24 balls that included a six over third-man against Stuart Broad. But the left-hander was dismissed off Bopara’s second delivery, caught in the covers by Tredwell and the all-rounder removed Raina and Dhoni in the space of four balls. Raina drove Bopara straight to Cook at mid-on, while Dhoni (nought) slashed the bowler high to Tredwell at third man.-AFP

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