Pakistan face Australia with Twenty20 top ranking at stake 

In this file photo, Australia batsman D’Arcy Short in action during the final of the tri-series played between Pakistan and Australia in a T20 tri-series at the Harare Sports Club, on July 8, 2018. (AFP/File)
Updated 23 October 2018

Pakistan face Australia with Twenty20 top ranking at stake 

  • Pakistan will be without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who was with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza in India for the birth of their first child
  • Since Sarfraz took over captaincy, Pakistan have won 23 of the 27 matches they have played

ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is confident his team can defend their world number one ranking in a stern challenge from Australia in a three-match Twenty20 series starting in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Sarfraz led Pakistan to a tri-series triumph by beating Australia in the final at Harare in July this year and needs to win at least one match to remain at the top of the rankings.
Pakistan will be without senior batsman Shoaib Malik who was with his tennis star wife Sania Mirza in India for the birth of their first child.
“Malik will join the team on Wednesday but will not be part of the eleven, so we are ready for Australia who are a very strong Twenty20 side,” said Sarfraz.
Australia, who beat Pakistan in the group match of the tri-series, need to win 3-0 if they want to jump from their current third position to the top.
Since Sarfraz took over captaincy, Pakistan have won 23 of the 27 matches they have played — a momentum the skipper wants to maintain.
“We know that Australia have good bowlers like Mitchell Starc, Billy Stanlake and hitters in Chris Lynn and D’Arcy Short so we have to be at our best to beat them,” said Sarfraz.
Stanlake took 4-8 in a lively spell in Australia’s victory in the tri-series group game.
Australia will also have some fresh players after losing the two-match Test series 1-0 last week, also played in United Arab Emirates.
Their Twenty20 skipper Aaron Finch said his team was motivated enough to win the series.
“Pakistan played very well against us in July,” said Finch. “We got the better off them in the first game but they battled back in the last two. They are world number one at the moment and they are world number one for a reason.”
“They played some great cricket in the last two years in this format so I think it will be a great contest.”
Finch played down the bounty of getting to the top of the rankings in case they win all the matches.
“I think any time you play anyone in a different country it’s massively important and everyone wants to win,” said Finch, who has won eight of the 16 matches, losing the other eight since in charge for four years.
“If number one rankings are on the line or anyone down the list, each game is important. Everyone wants to win. I don’t think they need any motivation than that and we don’t need it.”


Neymar donates $1m to fight coronavirus

Updated 23 min 18 sec ago

Neymar donates $1m to fight coronavirus

  • Neymar donated part of the money to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • The rest of the donation went to a charitable fund launched by his friend Luciano Huck, a Brazilian TV presenter

RIO DE JANEIRO: Neymar has donated $1 million to fight the impact of the new coronavirus in his native Brazil, according to TV network SBT.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, the world’s third-highest-paid footballer, donated part of the money to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the rest to a charitable fund launched by his friend Luciano Huck, a Brazilian TV presenter, the report said.
The striker’s press office declined to comment, saying: “We never talk about donations or amounts.”
Neymar, 28, followed the example of PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, who last month made what was described as a major donation — amount undisclosed — to a French charity helping fight the impact of COVID-19.
Huck, who has been touted as a possible candidate in Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, launched his fund to help poor Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
The donations come as high-paid footballers face pressure to forego some of their salaries amid the crisis, which has ground the sporting world to a halt and left some clubs struggling to pay their staff.
Neymar is riding out the pandemic at his luxury villa in Mangaratiba, a resort town outside Rio.
He faced criticism last week after he was photographed relaxing with a group of friends on a beach volleyball court, even as half the world’s population — including most of Brazil — is in confinement to slow the virus’ spread.
His press team said he was receiving no visitors and was in quarantine at a “completely isolated” residence with people who made the trip from France with him.