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One small step for Zhang, one giant leap for Chinese men’s game

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One small step for Zhang, one giant leap for Chinese men's game

 China has long been the sleeping giant of men’s tennis but on Monday the giant stirred as Shanghai trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen advanced to the second round of the French Open.

One of three Chinese men in the draw, Zhang became the first from the nation to win a main draw match at Roland Garros in 86 years after Serbian opponent Dusan Lajovic retired due to illness when trailing 6-1 4-1.

Compatriots Shang Juncheng and Wu Yibing bowed out in defeat but 26-year-old Zhang has a big chance to go further when he takes on Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante for a place in the third round.

That would bring him a step closer to the fourth-round mark set by Kho Sin-Kie in 1936. Kho, who was born in colonial-era Indonesia but represented China in Davis Cup, also reached the third round in 1937. “Last year …. even quallies (qualifiers) I couldn’t get in,” world number 71 Zhang told reporters.

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“This year I’m enjoying (the) first win here. “We have so many (people) waiting for us to get (the) first win.” In the modern era, Chinese tennis has been dominated by women, with twice Grand Slam champion Li Na becoming the country’s first major winner at Roland Garros in 2011.

The men’s game has been a much slower burn, with Wu Di becoming China’s first singles entrant at a Grand Slam main draw in the professional era in 2013 when he lost in the first round of the Australian Open.

It took nearly another decade for a Chinese man to claim a main draw win, with Wu Yibing breaking a 63-year drought on the way to the third round at last year’s U.S. Open.

Teenager Shang followed that by reaching the second round of the Australian Open in January on his Grand Slam debut as the youngest player in the draw.

Zhang, the oldest of the Chinese trio and a relatively late bloomer, has now kept the streak alive after setting a number of tennis ‘firsts’ for the country in recent months.
Last October, he became the first Chinese man to crack the top 100 in the ATP’s world rankings and this month became the first to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament at the Madrid Open.

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“Now we are passing the quallies and coming to the main draw,” Zhang said of the Grand Slam breakthroughs. “That’s one step, again, like a step forward.

“(Chinese) Girls have a lot of people playing. Now we (men) are more and more. “Yeah, we are trying to catch the girls.”

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Bangladesh name Najmul captain for third New Zealand ODI

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Bangladesh name Najmul captain for third New Zealand ODI

Bangladesh named batsman Najmul Hossain Shanto captain for the third one-day international against New Zealand and brought several senior players back.

Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, and Shoriful Islam join Najmul for the must-win contest at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Tuesday.

New Zealand are leading the three-match series 1-0 thanks to their 86-run win in the second match on Saturday, the side’s first win against Bangladesh in the country in nearly 15 years.

The first match was washed out by rain.

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The Kiwis last beat Bangladesh in their own backyard in October 2008.

They then lost the next two series in 2010 and 2013, respectively, by 4-0 and 3-0.

Over that period, New Zealand’s only ODI victory in Bangladesh came against South Africa in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final.

Bangladesh rested Liton Das, Tamim Iqbal, Khaled Ahmed, Soumya Sarkar, Mustafizur Rahman, and Tanzim Hasan, who all played in the second match against New Zealand.

Regular captain Shakib Al Hasan did not play any part of the series. In the absence of Shakib and Liton, Najmul is now set to become the 16th ODI captain for Bangladesh.

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The series is the last for both teams ahead of the upcoming World Cup in India, which opens on October 5.

Squad: Najmul Hossain Shanto (capt), Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Zakir Hasan, Anamul Haque, Towhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Hasan Mahmud, Rishad Hossain.

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Naseem Shah likely to undergo shoulder surgery

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Naseem Shah likely to undergo shoulder surgery

Pakistan’s pace icon Naseem Shah, who was injured in the match against India in the Asia Cup, is likely to undergo shoulder surgery. 

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Shah had been asked for the shoulder surgery following his medical examination and consultation with experts. It is expected that recovery of fast bowler will take four months. 

Also Read: Naseem Shah bowls Indian girl over with ‘charming look’

Earlier, Pakistan Cricket Team chief selector Inzamamul Haq had also mentioned the health of Shah while he was announcing the squad for the ICC World Cup.

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Also Read: Naseem Shah does it again as Pakistan win last-over thriller against Afghanistan

Naseem Shah, who is not part of the World Cup 2023 squad expressed his dismay through his Tweet.

Taking to X (formerly known as Twitter), Shah mentioned that “With a heavy heart, I’m sharing that I will not be part of this amazing team that will be representing our beloved country. While I’m disappointed, I believe everything is in Allah’s hands. InshahAllah will be on the field very soon.” 

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Leather, willow and sunflowers: China gets to grip with cricket

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Leather, willow and sunflowers: China gets to grip with cricket

There’s a reverential hush from the respectful crowd as Pakistan’s Sadia Iqbal opens the bowling to Bangladesh’s Shathi Rani in the Asian Games women’s bronze medal match in Hangzhou. 

The sound of leather on willow echoes around the purpose-built cricket ground, which until recently was full of sunflowers. 

The atmosphere is more village green than the fever pitch of, say, Pakistan’s Gaddafi Stadium, but the few hundred spectators are fully engaged — even if many admit to never seeing the game before.

Almost entirely Chinese, the crowd “oohs and aahs” and clap when a wicket falls, cheer every boundary and then look bewildered when a loud lbw appeal pierces the serenity of the Zhejiang University of Technology (ZJUT) Cricket Field.

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“I didn’t ever see cricket before so I was interested to know more about this sport,” said spectator Huang Dapeng, who runs his own business in Hangzhou. “I’m starting to understand it a little, but I am really enjoying it anyway.” A few have some knowledge of the game and seem captivated.

“I travelled to Sri Lanka before and a friend invited me to watch cricket, so I became interested,” said Liang Xiaoqian, a travel agent. “When I heard it was in the Asian Games I wanted to learn more about this game,” she added, ahead of Monday afternoon’s final between India and Sri Lanka.

“I am enjoying watching. I will be supporting Sri Lanka in the gold medal match.” Others are there just because it is the Asian Games and they want to watch sport, any sport. “It’s the only Asian Games tickets we could get,” said a smiling Jeff Wang, an engineer who was sitting in the stand with his father Wang Hang.

“It’s my first time to watch cricket. It’s unknown to me before, I don’t really know what is going on. “But I did hear this game is very famous in South Asia.”

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