Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) – Himalayan nation Nepal keep their semifinal hope alive from Group A of the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup’2018 thrashing Bhutan by 4-0 goals in their 2nd group match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Thursday.
Nepal, which suffered 1-2 goals defeat against Pakistan in the opening match on Tuesday, smartly returned to the winning path playing with a purpose and accomplished their mission with a dominating victory over Bhutan, who eliminated from the meet with two successive defeats after 0-2 loss against hosts Bangladesh in first appearance
Dhaka, Sept 6 (UNB) – Tigers’ ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has pledged to contribute his best for the team in the ensuing Asia Cup beginning on September 15 in the United Arab Emirates.
Bangladesh will start their Asia Cup campaign taking on Sri Lanka on the opening day in Dubai and will play Afghanistan on September 20 in Abu Dhabi in the day-night Group B matches.
Addressing a press conference in Mirpur on Thursday, Mashrafe said, “I had no any specific target in the West Indies tour. I have no specific target this time too except contributing for the team playing my best cricket.”
Two landmarks reckon the Bangladesh captain having 245 wickets in 190 ODIs. He needs three more wickets to overcome Pakistani speed start Shoaib Akhter’s 247 wickets and five more to reach the 250-wicket club in ODI cricket.
Ahead of the tour, BCB faces an awkward and embarrassing situation by the confusion around Shakib Al Hasan's fitness for the Asia Cup. BCB director Jalal Yunus said Shakib should have informed the board rather than the media that he feels he is ‘20-30 percent fit’ for the tournament.
Shakib contradicted himself in two recent interviews about his fitness, saying top players cannot play with such low levels of fitness.
"The board is put in an awkward and embarrassing situation. He didn't tell us when the selection was being finalised, or at any other time. It would have been better had he told us earlier that he was 20-30 percent fit. He didn't say that he can't play."
At the press conference, the Bangladesh captain and coach Steve Rhodes said even a half-fit Shakib would be good enough to play the Asia Cup.
"Since he played in the West Indies, I am sure he'd know his exact situation," Mashrafe said, adding: "His performance was very useful for winning there. I think it is more than enough if his fitness is at that level. But we can't do anything about it. He took the decision and since he will play, I am sure he will give his 100 percent."
Rhodes had said Shakib's statement was more headline-grabbing than anything else. "I don't believe he is 20-30 percent fit. I think he is a lot fitter than that. That sort of statement has hit the headline. I am pretty sure Shakib is a lot fitter than that. He is in no real different state to the state in West Indies, where he played some fantastic cricket with bat, ball and in the field.”
"Everybody knows that he does need the operation. He has made that decision after speaking to the BCB president. Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh. Even if Shakib was 60-70 percent fit, you'd get a lot of cricket out of Shakib Al Hasan," he added.
Shakib is currently on vacation in the United States, and the BCB indicated he would be travelling from there to the UAE for the Asia Cup, and that Mominul Haque will be sent as cover for him.
Shakib injured the little finger on his left hand in January last, which forced him out of the home Tests and T20Is against Sri Lanka and the Pakistan Super League. He was supposed to undergo a finger surgery on return from the West Indies tour in the first week of August.
But, Shakib was named in the 16-man Asia Cup squad as understood that BCB president Nazmul Hassan suggested Shakib could have surgery after the tournament and skip the Zimbabwe series in October.
Bangladesh Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider
Standby: Mominul Haque (back up for Shakib)
Dhaka, Sep 6 (UNB) – A prominent consumer goods multinational company Unilever Bangladesh Limited (UBL) has become the new sponsor of the national cricket team for a period up to January 2020.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) Chief Executive Officer Nizam Uddin Chowdhury and Unilever Bangladesh’s Finance Director Zahidul Islam Malita signed the sponsorship deal on behalf of their respective sides at BCB’s management office at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Unilever’s journey with Bangladesh cricket is set to begin with the Asia Cup 2018 in Dubai later this month where the logo of its product Lifebuoy will be displayed on the national team kit.
According to the deal, Unilever will sponsor Bangladesh national cricket team (Men’s and Women’s), Bangladesh ‘A’ team and the Bangladesh Under-19 team till January 31, 2020.
“Unilever is an internationally renowned brand with a proven track record. On behalf of the BCB I thank Unilever Bangladesh for coming forward and taking the initiative to contribute to cricket.
This ushers a fresh promise and opens a new door of long-term cooperation and relationship,” said BCB’s CEO after signing the deal.
UBL’s Marketing Director Nafees Anwar in a statement said, “Unilever has a history of contributing to the country’s socio-economic development while establishing its own business footprint. We want to carry this philosophy with our association with cricket which is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the country. It gives us immense pleasure to become national team sponsor partners of the BCB.”
UBL was one of the sponsors of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20’s ‘Dhaka Dynamites’ franchise in last year and had organised the Clear Men Under 17 Football Tournament across the country.
Earlier on August 26, a title sponsor of Bangladesh team Robi Axiata, a telecom company, surprisingly withdrawn its title sponsorship deal with BCB, releasing a statement saying, “The current deal falls short in upholding the spirit of the agreement.”
A problem arising out of individual players’ endorsements with rival brands was not solved and that eventually led Robi’s pulling out of a second time two-year contract, which was due to be extended until the 2019 World Cup.
However, BCB is no stranger to face such an unexpected incident. Its previous title sponsor Amby Valley, an affiliate of Sahara India Parivar, had also prematurely ended up their sponsorship contract before Robi signing a two-year contract with BCB first time in 2015.
New York, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Serena Williams began her U.S. Open quarterfinal tentatively. Her shots lacked their usual sting, her attitude its usual conviction.
She was facing the last player she lost to at Flushing Meadows. She kept looking up her coach, as if seeking solutions. After just 20 minutes Tuesday night, Williams was in danger of trailing by two service breaks. Not much later, the outcome was no longer in doubt, because the 23-time Grand Slam champion suddenly was in complete control.
Williams put aside some early shakiness and an early deficit, turning things around with an eight-game run en route to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the semifinals. It was Williams' first win over a top-10 player this season.
"I was playing really not a good game," said Williams, who was a point from trailing 4-1 and did fall behind 4-2 while making 22 of her 30 unforced errors in the first set. "I was thinking, 'You know, I can play better.' So that was the good news."
Pliskova offered this guess about what was happening to Williams: "Maybe she was a little bit nervous."
Maybe. But that didn't last long.
Pliskova is a big server and hitter in her own right, someone who briefly spent time at No. 1 in the WTA rankings and was the runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2016, when she beat Williams in the semifinals. The 36-year-old American did not compete in New York a year ago, because she gave birth to her daughter during the tournament.
Go back to 2015, and that was another semifinal departure for Williams, whose bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam was shockingly ended by Roberta Vinci.
"Well, I want to just be able to get past the semis here. It's been a few, couple, rough semis for me," Williams said. "But regardless, this has been a great road."
This time, Williams' semifinal opponent will be No. 19 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, who surprisingly beat defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3 earlier Tuesday.
Stephens, who said she had been dealing with a sinus infection, rued all of her wasted opportunities, most notably the seven break points she failed to convert in the first set. She sure didn't attempt to hide her frustration, either, repeatedly gesturing toward or speaking in the direction of her coach, Kamau Murray, up in the stands.
When someone urged her to raise her level in the second set, Stephens replied, "I'm trying!"
"When you don't play big points well, the match can get away from you," Stephens said. "I think that's what happened today. I didn't convert."
Sevastova, who retired in 2013 because of injuries and returned nearly two years later, advanced to her first Slam semifinal.
"Still long way to go, I think," she said.
Especially considering that the next step will come against Williams, who's heading into her 36th semi at a major, 12th at Flushing Meadows.
Williams already proved at Wimbledon that she is capable of the sort of dominant performances she has shown over the years, making all the way to the final at the All England Club before losing. She'll hope to do one better now and claim a seventh U.S. Open title.
Her sluggish start against Pliskova came in the same 90-degree heat and 50-percent humidity that hampered John Isner in his quarterfinal loss to Juan Martin del Potro on Tuesday afternoon, and Roger Federer in his fourth-round exit against John Millman a night earlier and prompted the tournament to suspend play in junior matches for a few hours.
With her older sister, Venus — the woman she beat in the third round — in her guest box, Williams looked tight. Her timing was off. She put a backhand into the net to get broken to 2-1 at the outset. Then, down 3-1, she faced three break points; if Pliskova won any, she would have led 4-1. But Pliskova did not manage to put any of Williams' serves in play on those key points.
"Too strong," Pliskova said.
Soon after that, Williams went from trailing 4-2 to not only taking the first set but also leading 4-0 in the second.
By the end, Williams compiled a 13-3 edge in aces, and 35-12 in total winners.
"She's playing with the same power. She can still serve well. I don't think there's any change with her game," Pliskova said. "She's just going for her shots."
West Conshohocken, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, golf's most prominent players for more than two decades, never realized the Ryder Cup would mean so much.
For Woods, it's the culmination of a comeback that began in January after a fourth surgery on his lower back. For Mickelson, more than setting a record by playing his 12th Ryder Cup, the 48-year-old gets what he believes will be his last chance to capture that gold trophy away from home.
U.S. captain Jim Furyk added them to his team Monday evening as wild-card selections, along with Bryson DeChambeau.
Woods agreed to be a vice captain in late February, and he set a goal to be in Paris on Sept. 28-30 as a player.
"It's incredible, it really is, to look back at the start of the year and now to have accomplished a goal like that," Woods said. "To be a part of this team, and now to be a player is just ... beyond special."
Mickelson had qualified for every team since 1995, a streak that ended this year when he finished No. 10 in the standings. His 12th appearance breaks the Ryder Cup record held by Nick Faldo.
Mickelson has only been on three winning teams — at Brookline in 1999, Valhalla in 2008 and two years ago at Hazeltine. His last time overseas was at Gleneagles, where he infamously closed out a losing press conference by questioning captain Tom Watson and the direction the PGA of America was taking the U.S. team.
That led to sweeping changes in the U.S. structure, mainly by giving players a stronger voice.
"This is mostly likely my last chance to go over to Europe and to be a part of a winning U.S. team in Europe. We haven't done that in 25 years," Mickelson said. "I set out this year on really a strong commitment and journey to get on the team. I got off to a great start this year. It's been a really good year, and although I fell just shy of making it on points, it feels great to be a part of this team and serve this team in any way I can."
Furyk still has one more captain's pick he will announce on Monday after the BMW Championship, and it might not be as easy as this one.
"Not that it was an easy decision," Furyk said with a smile. "But it could have been a lot more difficult."
Woods and Mickelson were logical choices. Woods briefly had the lead Sunday in the British Open until he tied for sixth, and he shot a career-best final round of 64 to finish second in the PGA Championship. Mickelson won another World Golf Championship in March, though he hasn't seriously contended since then.
DeChambeau narrowly missed out on one of the eight automatic spots by missing the cut at the PGA Championship, and the 24-year-old Californian knew he had to show Furyk some form in the three weeks before the picks were announced.
He won the first FedEx Cup playoff event by four shots. He won the next FedEx Cup playoff event by two shots.
"I wanted to be a part of this experience so badly that I worked twice as hard," DeChambeau said. "And it showed, and it paid off."
Tony Finau is believed to be the leading candidate for 12th and final spot. Furyk invited him as part of a small group that played Le Golf National on the weekend before the British Open. Finau tied a PGA Championship record with 10 birdies in the second round while playing with Furyk.
During the FedEx Cup playoffs, he was runner-up at one event and tied for fourth at the other.
European captain Thomas Bjorn announces his wild-card selections on Wednesday, with Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey among the likely picks. Still to be determined was whether former Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, gets a nod.
The eight Americans who qualified on their own were Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson and Patrick Reed. Throw in Woods and Mickelson, and that gives the U.S. team a lineup that has combined for 31 majors.
That doesn't mean as much in foursomes and fourballs, on a European course before the singing and chanting of Europeans fans.
"We're heading over into foreign soil," Furyk said. "It's going to be an interesting crowd. They are boisterous, I have a lot of respect for them and we are looking for players that we thought would handle that situation well and would thrive, love the challenge. And naming these three players, that's what we've done."
Woods will no longer be a vice captain, though Furyk said he would continue to lean on his advice. Woods was an assistant at Hazeltine and at the Presidents Cup last fall at Liberty National in a U.S. route.
Furyk picked former world No. 1 David Duval to replace Woods. Furyk also said Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar would fill out his lineup of vice captains, joining Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.