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Australia opener David Warner looks likely to get the Test farewell of his choice after being named in the 14-man squad for the opening clash in the three-match series against Pakistan on Sunday.

Warner said in June that he wanted to bring down the curtain on his 12-year career in the longest format after the third Test against the tourists in his home city of Sydney early next year.

His lack of recent Test runs, an average of less than 30 with just one century over the last two years, had threatened to stymie his plans but his contribution to Australia’s recent World Cup triumph looks to have secured his place in the squad.

The one minor surprise in a settled squad was the inclusion of Western Australian bowler Lance Morris, who would offer plenty of raw pace if he got the nod to make his Test debut in familiar conditions at Perth Stadium from December 14-18.

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon also returned to the squad in place of Todd Murphy after missing the back end of last year’s Ashes series with a calf injury.

Otherwise, Australia retained the players who earlier this year won the World Test Championship for the first time and retained the Ashes in England.

Chief selector George Bailey said there were still opportunities for others to play themselves into contention for the Tests against Pakistan in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the two-match series against West Indies that follows.

“We look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the Prime Minister’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week,” he said in a statement.

Pakistan, who have not won a Test match in Australia for nearly three decades, are already in Canberra preparing for the start of the four-day tour match at Manuka Oval on Wednesday.

Australia squad: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Lance Morris**

AFTER a week of relative peace in Gaza, the truce between Israel and Hamas was shattered on Friday when Tel Aviv resumed its savage bombardment of the forsaken Strip. Though the Israelis claim Hamas had violated the truce, their intentions were always clear: this was only a temporary pause, and the slaughter of Palestinians would resume at the first available opportunity. Advertisement The ruthless Israeli defence minister, a former general, had a few days earlier told troops that “we will fight across the whole of the Strip”. Certainly, a peaceful solution to the hostilities was not what the Israelis were seeking. Besides, while matters remained relatively quiet in Gaza, conditions in the occupied West Bank — where Hamas does not rule — were stifling, as Israeli troops and rabid settlers have unleashed a campaign of terror against the Palestinians in this area. Many of the West Bank casualties have included children. This vulgar display of state-sponsored violence shatters the myth that Israel wants to eliminate the ‘extremist’ Hamas, and is willing to work with the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank. The fact is that for those who call the shots in Tel Aviv, all Palestinians — regardless of their political affiliations, combatants as well as non-combatants — are worthy of extermination. Already over 15,000 Palestinians have been butchered since the Oct 7 events. Now, Israel has vowed to target southern Gaza, considered a ‘safe’ zone for Palestinians, as well. It is evident that for the Palestinians, there is no safe space in their entire occupied homeland, as the Israeli war machine seeks to hunt them down everywhere. Efforts should, of course, be made to renew the ceasefire, but they should also push for a long-term cessation of hostilities. It should not be a cosmetic truce that allows the Palestinians to bury their dead, then prepare for digging more graves. The keys to a long-term ceasefire lie with the US, which is Israel’s primary foreign patron, as well as the Arab states that have normalised ties with Israel. Washington needs to push its friends in Tel Aviv to stop the butchery, while the Arabs should use their considerable financial clout and geopolitical influence to call for an end to Israel’s genocidal war. Otherwise, the Palestinian body count will continue to mount, exposing the hypocrisy of the international ‘rules-based order’.

Abu Dhabi: His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed has presented the trophy to the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023 winner Max Verstappen.

His Highness commended the organisers and partners for their role in delivering the successful global sporting event, and highlighted the event’s role in strengthening Abu Dhabi’s leading position as a global sports, tourism and entertainment hub.

The awarding ceremony was attended by His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi; Her Excellency Sara Awadh Musallam, Chairperson of Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge; His Excellency Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport; and Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

The finale of the 2023 Formula 1 season featured 20 drivers from 10 teams and attracted F1 fans from around the world to watch the race at Yas Marina Circuit, which will continue to host the F1 season finale until 2030.

MALAGA: Novak Djokovic was furious after being asked to undergo a dope test shortly before Serbia’s Davis Cup win over Great Britain, although the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) said on Saturday it was standard practice.

Djokovic revealed his anger at being asked before the 2-0 win on Thursday which sent Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals, rather than after.
Djokovic said officials asked for samples 90 minutes before his 6-4, 6-4 win over Cameron Norrie.
“I didn’t believe that they could make such a decision, in 20 and more years of my career, it never happened to me that an hour-and-a-half before the match, I needed to go for doping control,” he said. “I have my own routine — I don’t need that distraction, to have my urine and blood taken, to think about whether I can give urine at that moment.”

Djokovic said he had no problem with being tested “a hundred times” but not before the match.
However, the ITIA said the whole team was subject to testing and it was a standard approach.
“Due to the format of team competitions, teams may be notified that they have been selected for testing before matches begin and then provide samples when they are ready,” ITIA said. “Between notification and providing the sample, they are chaperoned by a member of the anti-doping team.”

Pakistan all-rounder Imad Wasim announced on Friday that he would be retiring from international cricket.
“In recent days, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my international career and I have come to the conclusion that now is the right time for me to announce my retirement from international cricket,” the 34-year-old said in a post on social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
Wasim thanked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for their support over the years, adding, “It has truly been an honour to represent Pakistan”.
“Each of my 121 appearances across the one-day international (ODI) and T20 formats was a dream come true,” he said.
“It’s an exciting time for Pakistan cricket going forward with new coaches and incoming leadership,” Wasim said, adding that he was looking forward to seeing the team excel.
“I now look forward to focusing on the next stage of my playing career away from the international stage,” he said.
The PCB responded to Wasim’s post on X, thanking him for his “services to Pakistan cricket over the years”.
“Wishing you all the best for your future endeavours,” the PCB said.
“Imad Wasim has been a valuable asset to Pakistan cricket. His performances, especially in white-ball cricket, have been crucial to the team’s success. While we respect his decision to retire, we will miss his presence on the field.
“On behalf of the PCB and its management committee, I extend our sincere thanks to Imad for his services to Pakistan cricket and wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”
A separate press release issued by the board quoted PCB Interim Management Committee Chairman Zaka Ashraf as saying that Wasim had been a “valuable asset to Pakistan cricket”.
“His performances, especially in white-ball cricket, have been crucial to the team’s success. While we respect his decision to retire, we will miss his presence on the field,” Ashraf said.
“On behalf of the PCB and its management committee, I extend our sincere thanks to Imad for his services to Pakistan cricket and wish him the very best in his future endeavours,” he added.

KUWAIT: On Tuesday, the Australian national football team secured a victory over their Palestinian counterparts in a match held at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait, as part of the joint Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup. The match began with the Palestinian team displaying determined efforts, buoyed by a large crowd, but the Australian team managed to break the deadlock, scoring a goal in the 18th minute through player Harry Soutar.
In the second half, the Palestinian coach implemented strategic changes to diversify attacks, but these efforts were unsuccessful, resulting in their second defeat in the group stage. With this win, the Australian team claimed the top spot in the group, amassing six points, followed by Lebanon with two points, Palestine and Bangladesh in third place with one point each, and Kuwait securing the last place. The match attracted a massive turnout of Kuwaiti, Palestinian, and Arab fans who rallied in support of the Palestinian team.

ISLAMABAD: Stephen Constantine had admitted Pakistan were the underdogs but the head coach was baffled by the way his charges crumbled against Tajikistan on Tuesday.
The 61-year-old had just overseen his side being overrun in a 6-1 thrashing in their second Group ‘G’ match in the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup here at the Jinnah Stadium and was visibly upset at how his team had played in front of a capacity crowd of over 18,000.
“At this level, you can’t make the mistakes we made,” Constantine told reporters at a news conference, the loss following a 4-0 defeat by Saudi Arabia five days earlier. “We couldn’t execute our plan while the Tajiks stuck to theirs.”
It was ironic that the microphone malfunctioned as Constantine was speaking — once again the Englishman lamenting the deplorable state of football in Pakistan — and he responded by angrily pushing it aside.
His side had earlier been pushed aside by an inspired Tajikistan side, who had raced into a 4-1 lead at half-time and could’ve won by more.
“It was a fantastic performance by my side,” Tajikistan coach Petar Segrt told reporters. “We’ll make every attempt to reach the next round of World Cup qualifying.”
The top two sides in each of the nine qualifying groups advance to the third round of qualifying for the expanded 48-team World Cup in United States, Canada and Mexico. They also secure a spot at the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, with the bottom two moving into the third round of qualifying for the continental showpiece.
Last year, Tajikistan secured a place at this year’s Asian Cup by winning their group in the third qualifying round. That’s the target Constantine has set for his men but on Tuesday’s performance, it seems like a tall order.
It took Tajikistan just nine minutes to open the scoring with Amadoni Kamalov, who scored a brace, tapping in a rebound after a shot by Parvizchon Umarbayev was guided onto the post by goalkeeper Yousuf Butt.
Petar Segrt’s side made it 2-0 four minutes later when Rustam Soirov’s long-range effort got the slightest of deflections and left Yousuf with no chance.
It was then that Pakistan had their brightest moment of the afternoon, Rahis Nabi’s letting fly with his left foot and finding the top corner in the 21st to send the home crowd into raptures.
The joy, however, was short-lived as Umarbayev restored Tajikistan’s two-goal advantage five minutes later and Ehson Panjshanbe added their fourth with a first-time shot in the 45th as the visitors exploited the gaps in Pakistan’s midfield and defensive lines.
Pakistan were missing first-choice right-back Umar Hayat as well as left-back Shayek Dost due to suspension and debutant Mohibullah Afridi had a torrid time covering for Umar.
Constantine attempted to strengthen the midfield at half-time, bringing on Rajab Ali for Harun Hamid, the man who scored the winner for Pakistan in their famous victory over Cambodia in the first qualifying round.
He made another double switch past the hour mark but Tajikistan soon extended their advantage when Kamalov got his second, firing in from the edge of the area. The misery was complete when Shahrom Samiev netted a rebound in the last minute of the game.
“It’s been a learning curve for us,” Constantine said, admitting that Pakistan’s lack of domestic football structure was hurting players’ growth as they didn’t have consistent competition. “We’ll try to do better against Jordan in the next round of games.”
Pakistan face Jordan home and away in the next round of matches in March next year. Jordan, who drew 1-1 with Tajikistan in their opening match, were facing Saudi Arabia in Amman later on Tuesday.
Agencies add: Elsewhere on Tuesday, Palestinian flags and the black-and-white keffiyeh scarf flew high in Kuwait’s Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium as football fans vented their emotions in their Group ‘I’ qualifier against Australia.
Thousands of Palestinians and their sympathisers turned out at the 60,000-seat venue for the game, Palestine’s first in front of fans since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Defender Harry Souttar’s 18th-minute goal was all that separated the teams in a 1-0 win for Australia where the action on the pitch was almost incidental.
Australia opened with a 7-0 thrashing of Bangladesh and top the section with Bangladesh and Lebanon sharing a 1-1 draw in the group’s other game in Dhaka.
South Korea also made it two victories from two after skipper Son Heung-min scored a brace and set up the other in a 3-0 win in China.
Son silenced a sell-out crowd of more than 40,000 in Shenzhen with two goals in the first half, the first a penalty and the second a clever header from a corner just before half-time.
South Korea, who thumped Singapore 5-0 last week to begin their qualifying campaign in style, wrapped the game up in the dying minutes through a bullet header by Jung Seung-hyun — from a Son free-kick — and they top Group ‘C’ with a perfect six points while it was China’s first defeat after winning against Thailand on Thursday.
SHENZHEN: South Korea’s Cho Gue-Sung (bottom) vies for the ball with Wu Xi of China during their match at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre on Tuesday.—Reuters The Thais bounced back from that loss to beat Singapore 3-1 loss with Suphanat Mueanta scoring twice in the second half for Mano Polking’s team, who move level with China on three points.
Mohanad Ali scored six minutes into injury time to earn Iraq a 1-0 win over hosts Vietnam in Group ‘F’ as Jesus Casas’ side moved onto six points.
Vietnam remain in second in the group standings after the Philippines and Indonesia shared a 1-1 draw in Manila.
Iran surrendered a two-goal lead and had to settle for a point with a 2-2 draw at Uzbekistan. The two sides share the lead in Group ‘E’ with Hong Kong and Turkmenistan also equally sharing four goals in the other game of the section.
Hong Kong twice came back from behind with Everton Camargo scoring midway through the second half to secure a point after Ruslan Mingazow had scored both goals for the visitors.
Jong Il Gwan scored a hat-trick as North Korea picked up their first win of the campaign with a 6-1 thrashing of Myanmar in Yangon having started their quest for a place at the finals last Thursday with a draw against Syria in Group ‘B’.
The moved into second place behind Japan, who stayed perfect by winning 5-0 for a second time in five days with Iase Ueda scoring twice against Syria at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.
Substitute Darren Lok claimed the only goal as Malaysia defeated Taiwan in Taipei in Group ‘D’. Kyrgyzstan bounced back from their narrow 4-3 loss to Malaysia on Thursday by edging Oman 1-0 in the group’s other game.

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