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Nida Dar’s efforts in vain as Australia beat Pakistan by eight wickets

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Nida Dar's efforts in vain as Australia beat Pakistan by eight wickets

Australia beat Pakistan by eight wickets in the first One-Day International (ODI) of the three-match series in Brisbane.

Returning captain Meg Lanning and teenaged debutant Phoebe Litchfield struck half-centuries in Australia’s comfortable eight-wicket victory over Pakistan in a truncated women’s ODI series opener at Allan Border Field.

Chasing a revised target of 158 in 40 overs, Lanning made 67 off 76 balls after coming to the crease in the first over following the dismissal of opener Beth Mooney.

There had been much anticipation over the return of Lanning from a five-month hiatus – she hadn’t played since the Commonwealth Games after taking personal leave. She was made to work early against probing bowling from quicks Diana Baig and Fatima Sana as Pakistan eyed a first-ever victory over Australia.

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Lanning had a reprieve on six when Muneeba Ali dropped a straightforward chance at point off the bowling of Sana and she made them pay almost immediately with a boundary.

She was in command from there on, back to her belligerent best as she unleashed sweep shots to effectively thwart the spin, and looked good for more before falling with victory in sight. Having survived a near run-out, Lanning was dismissed in tame fashion, caught down the leg side off spinner Omaima Sohail.

Lanning had combined well in a century partnership with 19-year-old Litchfield, who impressed with a slew of thunderous boundaries in her 92-ball 78 not out.

After Lanning’s dismissal, she smashed Sohail for two boundaries and then a six before hitting the winning runs in the 29th over to cap a stellar performance.

A 90-minute rain break shortly after play started reduced the contest to 40 overs per side with bowlers able to bowl a maximum of eight overs each.

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Australia’s spinners papered over a patchy bowling effort to restrict Pakistan to a modest total of 160 for 8. Lanning used eight bowlers with Australia’s quicks loose at times in an attempt to conjure swing.

Spinners Ashleigh Gardner, Jess Jonassen and Alana King were the standouts, all menace during the middle overs with sharp turn, while Mooney was excellent behind the stumps in Alyssa Healy’s absence.

Veteran Nida Dar anchored the innings with a well-compiled 59 to notch Pakistan’s highest individual ODI score in Australia. She was almost dismissed on 37 after disastrous running between the wickets saw her at the non-striker’s end alongside Kainat Imtiaz, who was adjudged run out.

Dar’s late fireworks provided a lift, but she lacked support as several batters were unable to capitalise on strong starts.

Skipper Bismah Maroof hit several beautiful drives before falling for 28 to a terrific catch from Mooney after gloving Gardner.

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No. 4 Sohail started typically aggressive with consecutive boundaries through point. But the cavalier approach led to her dismissal when she loosely drove to point to gift seamer Tahlia McGrath a wicket in her first over.

Before the rain delay, quick Darcie Brown claimed two wickets but her radar was off with a slew of wides as she pressed for movement.

With the T20 World Cup looming, the three-match series leads into a trio of T20Is to wrap up Pakistan’s first bilateral series in Australia since 2014.

It was an important hit-out for Lanning with Australia missing Healy, who is sidelined for the ODI and T20I series against Pakistan with a calf injury.

In their first ODI since winning last year’s World Cup in April, Australia started the new edition of the ICC Women’s Championship in style.

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Luis Sinisterra has made his move to AFC Bournemouth from Leeds United permanent, signing a long-term deal with the Premier League team on Friday.

Bournemouth reportedly agreed to a £20 million fee with Championship (second-tier) side Leeds.

The 24-year-old Colombian had been impressive since joining Bournemouth in September on a loan spell from Leeds United, with three goals and three assists in his 17 appearances.

“I’m really happy to make this move. I’m excited to play for Bournemouth for the long term,” Sinisterra said. “I feel really comfortable here and the fans are really nice. When I meet them in the streets, they show the love.”

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Andoni Iraola’s team are 12th in the table on 27 points, but are winless in their last four games. They play Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. 

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

 Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma returned to Tottenham Hotspur this week from international duty, and both are ready for Spurs’ game with Brighton & Hove Albion, manager Ange Postecoglou said on Friday.

Son was involved with South Korea at the Asian Cup where they lost to Jordan in the semi-final on Tuesday while Bissouma’s Mali exited the Africa Cup of Nations last weekend at the quarter-final stage.

Spurs, fifth in the standings on 44 points, host Brighton on Saturday, with Roberto De Zerbi’s side in eighth place on 35 points.

“Sonny and Biss they trained well. Sonny did recovery on Thursday and trained today,” Postecoglou told a press conference.

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“He is very disappointed for Korea’s exit, at the semi-final stage you feel so close. But he gave everything for his nation, no-one could question his commitment.

“I spoke to him after and he was keen to be back, so no surprise he was back training straight away.”

The manager also played down concerns over Bissouma, after media reports that he had played through the illness with malaria at the tournament.

“No, that’s not right. He had a slight form of malaria before the tournament, but it cleared up by the start of tournament. He’s 100 percent now.”

Manor Solomon hasn’t played since September and Postecoglou confirmed that the winger had another procedure on his knee earlier this week and is still another two or three weeks away from a return.

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Another injury concern was Giovani Lo Celso who missed the last three league games for Spurs.

“Lo Celso trained all week but he’s missed a fair bit of football so we’ll see whether he needs another week or not,” the manager said.

“It’s probably, for want of a better word, the healthiest squad we’ve had for quite a while anyway.”

Spurs conceded an added-time equaliser at Everton last weekend and lost to a late Nathan Ake goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup, but conceding late is not something that overly concerns their manager.

“It’s disappointing to concede goals at any point. People will want to analyse it,” Postecoglou said.

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“I’m sorry but we’re going to be a team that will score or concede goals late. The way we want to close out games is by trying to score goals late on.

“One thing we’re not going to do is jump at shadows and try to fix the latest thing being analysed.” 

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Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

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Fils ends 'great champion' Gasquet's 956 weeks in top 100

 Rising star Arthur Fils beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday to end the veteran’s run of more than 18 years in the world’s top 100.

The 19-year-old Fils cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory against the 37-year-old Gasquet, who had enjoyed a remarkable 956 consecutive weeks in the top 100, peaking at number seven in July 2007.

Gasquet was defending the Auckland title and points he won 12 months ago, so the first-round defeat will see him slide down from 76th in the world when new rankings are released next week.

Fils, with a booming serve that produced nine aces, broke at 2-2 in the first set and at 1-1 in the second and applauded Gasquet as he left the court.

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“He’s a great champion. He did an unbelievable career so I’m really happy to play on the court with him,” said Fils, who reached the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open last week.

“But it was a nice match for my part and I’m really happy.”

In other action, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov looked rusty in his first match since Wimbledon last year, losing Austria’s Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 6-2.

Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten by fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 and eighth seed Max Purcell of Australia overcame New Zealand’s 716th-ranked wildcard Kiranpal Pannu 6-4, 6-4.

The top four seeds, Ben Shelton, Cameron Norrie, Francisco Cerundolo and Felix Auger-Aliassime, all had first-round byes. 

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