BRISBANE: Asad Shafiq scored a thrilling century as Pakistan put up a spirited resistance to Australia on Sunday, frustrating the hosts´ attempts to wrap up the first Test with a day to spare.
Shafiq dashed for three runs off a cut shot in the final over of the fourth day to reach his 10th Test century off 140 balls in the day-night match at the Gabba.
The tourists, who have lost their last nine Tests in Australia, refused to buckle despite the loss of key batsmen Younis Khan, Azhar Ali and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq.
At the close on a storm-hit day, with Shafiq leading the way, Pakistan had just two wickets left and were 382 for eight.
They trail the home side by 107 runs heading into Monday´s final day.
Play was extended by an extra half-hour to seek a result but the tourists held firm.
Steve Smith dropped a two-handed chance at second slip when Shafiq was 72 off Mitchell Starc´s bowling with three regulation overs left in the day.
Shafiq gave as good as he got and led the resistance with a belligerent knock including 10 fours and a six.
Mohammad Amir, in the first year of his return to international cricket following a five-year ban for spot-fixing, hit his highest Test score in a stubborn 92-run seventh-wicket partnership with Shafiq.
Amir´s previous best was 39 not out against England at The Oval in August, but he fell late in the session for 48 off 63 balls with five fours.
The Australian bowlers endured a long grind, with a three-hour final session ending only at 10:09 pm, after a fierce storm lashed the ground just before tea.
The bowlers, who decimated Pakistan by taking seven wickets for 24 in the first innings, were frustrated by a lack of assistance from the pink ball under lights in the second.
Australia are defending an unbeaten run of 27 Tests at the Gabba. Their last defeat here was in 1988 at the hands of the West Indies.
The hosts went into the final night session needing five wickets for victory and removed the first-innings top-scorer Sarfraz Ahmed for 24.
Starc scattered his stumps with an inswinger in the 88th over, his third wicket, and Jackson Bird had Amir caught behind in the 107th over.
Younis Khan had also kept the bowlers at bay but was out to a rash shot 30 minutes before the dinner break.
The 112-Test campaigner fell to an ill-judged reverse sweep off spinner Nathan Lyon, the ball ballooning off the back of his bat for Smith to take an easy catch.
Misbah was caught behind off Bird for five to complete a low-scoring match after his four in the first innings and Younis followed just 18 minutes later.
Starc persisted with a short-pitched plan after a 90-minute storm delay at tea.
It finally paid off when Azhar Ali tried to flick a rising ball down to fine leg, only to edge to Matthew Wade.
Azhar faced 179 balls for his 71 and put on 91 for the third wicket with Younis.
Younis, out for a first-ball duck in the first innings, took 20 balls to get off the mark with a streaky shot through the slips cordon to the boundary.
Pakistan to face India in Women’s Asia Cup final
BANGKOK, Thailand: Pakistan cricket team defeated Thailand by five wickets here on Saturday to qualify for the final of the ACC Women’s Asia Cup T20.
They will now meet their arch rivals India Women’s team in the final, scheduled to be played here on Sunday
In their final round of the tournament, hosts Thailand were bundled out for a mere 51 runs in 18.2 overs after their captain Sornnarin Tippoch won the toss and elected to bat first.
Experienced Pakistan off-break bowler Sana Mir captured four wickets for just nine runs from her quota of four overs. She was assisted by left-arm spinner Anam Amin (2-6) and off-spinner Nida Dar (2-13) while right-arm pacer Asmavia Iqbal took one for eight.
Later, Pakistan women achieved the easy target of 52 in just 11.4 overs, losing five wickets.
Asmavia scored 24 and Nida made 14 for Pakistan while Thailand’s leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi claimed three wickets for nine runs from three overs.
Rain brings early close for Pakistan, New Zealand
HAMILTON: New Zealand had a first innings lead of 55 over Pakistan when rain forced the abandonment of play during the final session on the third day of the second Test against Pakistan.
It was the third time rain had driven players from the field in Hamilton on Sunday. New Zealand faced only one ball for no run in their second innings when play was washed out. Pakistan were all out in their first innings for 216 with Babar Azam unbeaten on 90.
Azhar´s journey from sub to triple centurion
DUBAI: Fourteen years ago Azhar Ali came on as a substitute fielder to see Inzamam-ul-Haq score an epic triple hundred in Lahore and wished he could emulate the legendary Pakistan batsman in future.
On Friday Ali notched his own with an unbeaten 302 against West Indies in the second ever day-night Test in Dubai to join a select league of batsmen.
But what distinguishes the 31-year-old from the rest of the triple centurions is that he became the first batsman in day-night Test cricket to achieve the landmark.
"I still remember I was sent to the ground as a substitute fielder on the day when Inzamam scored that epic triple century," said Ali of Inzamam´s 329 against New Zealand in Lahore in May 2002.
"Now I have my own and it´s a great achievement for which I am proud and can´t explain my feelings. It is something which I will remember my whole life," said Ali whose innings guided Pakistan to an imperious 579-3 declared.
His was the fourth triple hundred by a Pakistani batsman.
Apart from him and Inzamam, late Hanif Mohammad knocked 337 against West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958 and Younis Khan made 313 against Sri Lanka in Karachi in 2009.
Ali said he had also watched Younis´s triple and missed the senior batsman who had to withdraw from Dubai Test as he was still recovering from dengue fever.
"Of course, I missed Younis in this match," said Ali. "He has always been my role model and I was sitting on his seat in the dressing room so I had to keep the honour of that seat as well.
"I am proud that I have matched him because whenever he scores a hundred he takes it to double or big scores," said Ali of Younis who is Pakistan´s highest Test run-getter with 9456 in 108 matches.
Since his arrival on the international scene, Ali has impressed with his resolute batting and is likely to anchor Pakistan´s batting once Younis and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq leave the stage.
He has already replaced Misbah as captain of the one-day team.
Ali dedicated his triple hundred to his parents and also to the people of his nation.
"First, I want to dedicate my achievement to my parents who have always guided me in my life and next to the people of my country who must keep their minds clear and not let them affect when we don´t do well."
Ali believed the pink ball -- used in the day-night Test instead of the traditional red -- did not cause any difficulties.
"The pink ball did not cause any problems, we sighted it well and that´s why scored runs so I am okay with it," said Ali.
Manufacturers of the pink ball modified its seam from green and white after players had complained sighting problems in the first-ever day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide last year.
Pakistan win second T20 to claim series victory vs West Indies
DUBAI: Pakistan played good all-round cricket to beat world champions West Indies by 16 runs in the second Twenty20 in Dubai on Saturday, taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed hit a rapid 32-ball 46 not out to guide Pakistan to 160-4 before pacemen Sohail Tanvir (3-13) and Hasan Ali (3-49) restricted the West Indies to 144-9 at Dubai Stadium.
Pakistan had won the first match -- also in Dubai -- by nine wickets on Friday.
The victory over the world champions gave Pakistan reasons to smile in their campaign to build a new team after they thumped England, also by nine wickets, in Manchester earlier this month.
Pakistan were ousted in the first round of the World Twenty20 held in India in April this year, forcing Shahid Afridi to step down as captain.
Pakistan´s unassailable lead leaves the third and final match in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday of academic interest.
Tanvir rocked the West Indies top order with the wickets of Evin Lewis (three) and Marlon Samuels (one) before he later dismissed Nicholas Pooran (four).
He also completed 50 wickets in the shortest format and now has 52 victims in 53 matches.
Afridi is the highest wicket-taker in Twenty20 cricket with 97 while two other Pakistanis, fast bowler Umar Gul and spinner Saeed Ajmal, have 85 each.
Sunil Narine top-scored with 30 while Andre Fletcher made 29 but the West Indies for the second day failed to find the batting skills which earned them two World Twenty20 titles, the first in 2012.
Ali dismissed Fletcher, Kieron Pollard (18) and Carlos Brathwaite (eight) in a daring spell of bowling.
Narine hit four boundaries and a six during his 17-ball knock but 74 runs in the last five overs proved too much for the champions.
Ahmed said the series win means a lot to this young team.
"We have made good strides and it´s awesome to win the series against the champions," said Ahmed who has won three in three since taking captaincy.
"The conditions were tough because of the dew. The ball was slipping, but we finished it well. It is a great sign for Pakistan cricket."
Brathwaite lamented poor batting by the West Indies.
"We didn´t come to the party as we would have liked," said Brathwaite who replaced World Twenty20 winning captain Darren Sammy last month.
"It is what it is. We should have batted well in the first six-seven overs. As a result, Pakistan are the series winners."
Earlier Pakistan scored at a fast pace after they were put into bat.
Skipper Ahmed hit a rapid 46 not out and added 69 runs for the third wicket with Shoaib Malik (37 off 28 balls) to lift Pakistan.
Ahmed´s knock featured five boundaries while Malik smashed a six and three fours as Pakistan kept the same tempo which earned them a win in the first match.
Opener Khalid Latif made a 36-ball 40 with three boundaries and a towering six. Babar Azam made 19 and Sharjeel Khan two.
Pakistan beat England by 10 wickets to square series 2-2
THE OVAL: Pakistan secured a historic win by beating England with 10 wickets to square the four-match series 2-2 on Sunday.
Azhar Ali managed to score the winning runs for Pakistan, hitting a befitting six to wrap up the fourth Test match. The win seemed to be an icing on the cake for the country, which was celebrating its 69th Independence Day today.
Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam both remained unbeaten on scores of 30 and 12 respectively as Pakistan finished at 42/0.
The tourists were in the driving seat on the fourth day of the final Test match against England, as the hosts could only manage to hand the tourists an easy target of 40 runs to chase.
Azhar Ali and Sami Aslam looked comfortable in chasing the target, as Pakistan were already 16/0 at Tea. The hosts only require 24 more runs to clinch the final Test match of the series.
Misbah-ul-Haq was named as Pakistan's Man of the Series while England's Man of the Series award was given to Chris Woakes.
Thanks to Yasir Shah's five wickets and a couple of early wickets from Wahab Riaz, Pakistan dismissed England for 253. The hosts, who trailed by 214 runs, could only manage a lead of 39 runs and hand Pakistan an easy target of 40 runs.
Pakistan successfully retained their number three spot in the world Test rankings after beating England and squaring the series.
Johnny Bairstow happened to be the pick of the English batsmen, who was dismissed at 81 runs. His latest innings took Bairstow to 992 Test runs in 2016 and in sight of breaking Zimbabwe great Andy Flower´s record for most Test runs scored by a wicket-keeper in a calendar year of 1,045 set in 2000. The match seemed to tilt in Pakistan's favour after Moeen Ali was dismissed by Yasir Shah, caught behind by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmad.
Younis´s double ton puts Pakistan on top against England
LONDON: Younis Khan´s superb double century took Pakistan into a dominant position in the fourth Test against England at The Oval on Saturday.
The veteran batsman´s 218 was the centre piece of Pakistan´s 542 all out at tea on the third day in reply to England´s 328.
That left Pakistan with a first-innings lead of 214 runs as they looked to end the four-match series all square at 2-2.
England won the third Test at Edgbaston by 141 runs after overturning a first-innings deficit of 103 runs. But only six times in properly completed matches in the 139-year history of Test cricket have a team come back from more than 200 runs behind on first innings to win.
Younis received excellent support in a ninth-wicket stand of 97 from Mohammad Amir, whose 39 not out was the left-arm quick´s highest Test score.
Younis´s sixth innings of 200 or more in Test cricket was a dramatic way for the 38-year-old to end a run of low scores. He had managed just 122 runs in six previous innings this series, with a best of 33 in Pakistan´s first Test win at Lord´s.
Pakistan resumed on 340 for six after Asad Shafiq (109) and Younis (101 not out) had both compiled impressive centuries. But it was Ahmed, 17 not out overnight, who was the initial aggressor on Saturday as he scored in typically brisk fashion.
By contrast it took Younis 13 balls to add his first run Saturday. But when James Anderson gave him width outside off stump, Younis responded by cutting England´s all-time leading wicket-taker in front of point for four.
Ahmed was eventually out having struck seven fours in 78 balls when he edged a good-length Woakes delivery and opposing wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow held an excellent, diving, one-handed catch.
Pakistan were now 397 for seven, with Woakes having taken his 26th wicket this series -- a marked contrast to the mere 16 the improving all-rounder managed in his first eight Tests.
Pakistan were 417 for seven at lunch, a lead of 89, with Younis 147 not out. Soon afterwards, Younis went to 150 by pulling paceman Stuart Broad for four.
Ali did have Wahab Riaz (one) stumped by Bairstow, although the keeper was lucky when a fumbled take rebounded straight into the stumps.
Younis completed his double hundred in style when he advanced down the pitch to drive Ali for a fourth six in 281 balls.
Amir took 24 balls to get off the mark but did so in dashing fashion when he hoisted Ali for six over deep midwicket. It was the start of a flurry of boundaries from the pace bowler.
England eventually ended the partnership when Anderson´s yorker-length delivery struck Younis on the pad and South African umpire Marais Erasmus gave him out lbw. Younis reviewed but replays showed the ball just clipping leg stump.
He walked off to a standing ovation from the Oval crowd after batting for more than seven-and-a-half hours in a 308-ball innings featuring 31 fours and four sixes.
Azhar ton gives Pakistan control of third test
BIRMINGHAM: Azhar Ali´s patient century lifted Pakistan to 257 for three and a dominant position on the second day of the third test against England at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Replying to the home team´s 297 all out, Azhar shared a second-wicket partnership of 181 with Sami Aslam on the way to an excellent knock of 139 as England endured a frustrating day in the field.
Aslam was run out for 82 after being called for a quick single by Azhar who was dropped twice before completing his 10th test century.
England made an early breakthrough with the fourth ball of the day when Mohammad Hafeez cut James Anderson straight to Gary Ballance at point and was out for a duck.
Anderson induced a rash stroke from Azhar shortly after lunch but Joe Root spilled a difficult catch at second slip and England´s anxiety increased.
Azhar, also dropped by Moeen Ali off his own bowling, drove Steven Finn off the back foot for three to bring up his 21st test half century and Aslam, 20, swept spinner Moeen for four to reach his maiden test fifty in his third match.
Azhar got to three figures by gloving a Stuart Broad bouncer to the fine leg boundary, celebrating the milestone with 10 press-ups.
He continued to punish the England attack, hitting a total of 15 fours and one six, before edging the last ball of the day from Chris Woakes to Alastair Cook at first slip.
Younus Khan was unbeaten on 21 at the close.
The four-match series is level at 1-1.
Sohail strikes as Pakistan knock over England ´pillars´ By AFP
BIRMINGHAM: Sohail Khan led Pakistan´s attack on his return to international duty as Pakistan dismissed England "pillars" Joe Root and Alastair Cook before lunch on the first morning of the third Test at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
At lunch, England were 100 for three, after Sohail had accounted for both opener Alex Hales (17) and star batsman Root (three) on his way to figures of two for 28 in eight overs.
Rahat Ali then had England captain Alastair Cook lbw for a fluent 45.
James Vince was 16 not out and Gary Ballance 18 not out.
Right-arm quick Sohail was recalled for just his third appearance at this level in place of Wahab Riaz as Pakistan broke up the all left-arm pace attack they had deployed for the first two Tests of this four-match series.
They also brought in Sami Aslam for struggling opener Shan Masood after England´s crushing and series-levelling 330-run win in the second Test at Old Trafford.
But it was Sohail who had the first chance to show his skills after Pakistah captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and fielded on an overcast morning.
An unconvincing Hales fell when a good-length Sohail ball that cut away took the outside edge and was caught by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
It was not long before England´s 36 for one became 48 for two.
Joe Root had made a Test-best 254 at Old Trafford in a match where he and century-maker Cook scored 506 runs between them for just twice out.
It was no wonder that Misbah, speaking on Tuesday, had described the pair as the "pillars" of an otherwise fragile England top order.
Pakistan managed to knock down one of those pillars when Root, playing one of his favourite back-foot forcing shots, edged Sohail and was safely held by sometimes fallible slip fielder Mohammad Hafeez.
Sohail had taken two wickets for eight runs in nine balls, with Vince, yet to score a Test fifty, walking out with England in trouble.
Left-handed opener Cook, carrying on from where he left off in Manchester, struck eight fours -- including a straight drive off Rahat Ali -- in 52 balls.
But Rahat had his revenge with a full ball that nipped back and hit Cook on the front pad.
Umpire Joel Wilson gave Cook out lbw and the England skipper reviewed, more in hope than expectation.
But Wilson´s decision was duly upheld and England had lost their second ´pillar´ at 75 for three. Courtesy www.thenews.com.pk
Inzamam hopeful about Pakistan’s comeback in 3rd Test
‘Win at Lord’s has shown everyone that this team is more than capable of winning against tough opposition and in foreign conditions’
KARACHI: Pakistan’s chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq seemed optimistic about Pakistan’s strong comeback in the upcoming third Test, which begins in Birmingham next week.
According to local media report, “I am convinced that as the players get more experience in these conditions, their performance will improve and Pakistan will get better results and bounce back,” Inzamam said.
“The win at Lord’s has shown everyone that this team is more than capable of winning against tough opposition and in foreign conditions,” the 46-year-old said.
“The Old Trafford Test obviously did not go that well, but then we have to give credit to England for making a comeback in this series which shows that they are a very tough team to beat.”
“Look most of the players are playing in a test series in England for the first time in their lives. I am not disheartened by the second test defeat because better touring sides than us have come to England and struggled in their conditions.”
“I firmly believe this team has lot of talent and can bounce back in the two tests.”
After a stunning victory in the first Test at Lord's, Pakistan were humbled when England leveled the series 1-1 earlier this week, crumbling to a 330-run defeat in Manchester.
One thing in Pakistan's favour heading into the Edgbaston Test will be the absence of England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has been ruled out due to a torn right calf. England coach Trevor Bayliss, speaking before it was confirmed Stokes would not play in the third Test, said, “If he does miss out, it will give someone else an opportunity.
Inzamam has expressed that he was confident that Misbah ul Haq with his experience and performances would be able to lift the spirits of the team in the remaining two Tests and help them recover after the defeat at Old Trafford.
However, the third Test starts on Wednesday, August 3.
Cricket: Pakistan beat England by 75 runs at Lord's By AFP
LORDS: Pakistan defeated England in the first test match on Sunday after Yasir Shah and Mohammad Amir sent home the bulk of the British batsmen to secure the victory for the country.
Yasir Shah was once again the man who did the trick for Pakistan, when a low kept delivery rattled Bairstow's stumps. The latest dismissal meant that Yasir had claimed four wickets this innings while earlier he had claimed six English scalps in the previous innings of England. Mohammad Amir struck for Pakistan right in the next over, when he bowled Stuart Broad.
Mohammad Amir finished with two wickets in the end and it was the Pakistani pacer who clean bowled JT Ball to clinch the victory for Pakistan.
It was Yasir Shah who had done the damage earlier to the English batting side as his two quick wickets after lunch helped put Pakistan in the driving seat. At first, Shah dismissed Ballance before moving on to bowling Moeen Ali out.
England were set a target of 283 to win the first Test after bowling out Pakistan for 215 in their second innings on the fourth day.
England were 90 for three in their second innings, needing a further 193 runs to reach their victory target of 283, at lunch. James Vince was 41 not out and Gary Ballance 15 not out after Rahat Ali had removed all of England´s top three batsmen in a return of three for 36 in eight overs.
This is the first of a four-Test series.
Pakistan, 214 for eight overnight, lost their last two wickets for just one run in 13 balls during Sunday´s opening 10 minutes.
Stuart Broad struck twice in two balls with Yasir Shah, failing to add to his overnight Test-best 30 not out, and Mohammad Amir (one) both caught behind by wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes led England off the field after taking five for 32 for a match haul of 11 for 112.
England now needed to surpass their record fourth innings-winning chase in a Lord´s Test of 282 for three against New Zealand in 2004 if they were to go 1-0 up in this four-match series.
A century and 10 push-ups: Misbah fulfills promise made to army guys By AFP
LONDON: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said his unbeaten century against England at Lord´s on Thursday was the "top innings" of an impressive Test career.
The 42-year-old Misbah became the sixth oldest player in Test history to make a century as his unbeaten 110 took Pakistan to 282 for six at stumps on the first day of a four-match series.
Thursday´s match was Misbah´s maiden Test at Lord´s, selection decisions having seen him miss previous tours of England, yet he secured a coveted place on the dressing room honours board at the very first attempt.
As soon as he had completed his 10th Test century, Misbah dropped to the turf.
But rather than utter a prayer, Misbah performed several press-ups, just as 73-year-old actor Jack Palance did when winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar at the 1992 Academy awards.
- ´Honour code´ -
But Misbah´s celebration, which included a salute to the Pakistan flag flying above the Pavilion, was no tribute act.
Rather it was a reference to Pakistan´s gruelling pre-tour boot camp at a military academy in Kakul in May.
"I promised the army guys I would do the push-ups if I got a century," Misbah told reporters after stumps.
"We had an honour code on the boot camp, for push-ups, so that was my promise to them the next time I scored 100. So that was for them, and the salute was for the flag."
Misbah equalled West Indies great Vivian Richards´s then world record for the fastest-ever Test century with a blistering 56-ball hundred against Australia in Abu Dhabi in 2014 -- a mark surpassed by Brendon McCullum´s 54-ball hundred for New Zealand against Australia at Christchurch in February.
But Thursday´s hundred ranked higher in Misbah´s estimations.
"I rate this as my top innings in Test cricket and I´m really happy about that," he said.
"It´s a dream to play at Lord´s and especially getting 100, and the name on the honours board is something special," added Misbah, who vindicated his own decision to bat first after winning the toss.
"Obviously when you are playing competitive cricket you just don´t think about your age.
"If you are there, you just take on the challenge that comes with playing the game.
"These records are always something special, and they are very satisfying to make those kinds of achievements, but the main thing is just to keep achieving for your country."
But with Chris Woakes taking wickets at both the start and end of the day´s play for a return of four for 45, England had reason to be happy with how things had gone as well.
Nottinghamshire quick Jake Ball, making his Test debut after England left out all-time leading wicket-taker James Anderson because of concerns he had not yet recovered from a shoulder injury, also got in on the act.
He took one for 51 in 19 overs after a yorker that knocked Azhar Ali off his feet saw him win an lbw decision for his first Test wicket.
Before play, he received his Test cap from uncle and England wicket-keeping coach Bruce French -- himself a former Test cricketer.
"That settled me down," said Ball. "He (French) just said how proud the whole family are of me.
"To receive it from my uncle was an extra-special moment. He was holding back the tears."
As for the match situation, Ball added: "The two late wickets have given everybody a big lift.
"We now know if we can come out in the morning, get a couple and try to restrict them to about 350, then we´re well in the game."
Amir’s visa approved for England tour
KARACHI: Pakistani cricketer Muhammad Amir's visa for England tour has been approved, reported Geo News on Tuesday. Amir was named in Pakistan’s 17-member squad for the Test series against England.
Pakistan team would leave for England on June 18 to play four Tests, five One Days, and one T-20.
Amir who was banned from cricket for five years following the Lord s spot fixing scandal in 2010 along with the then captain Salman Butt and fellow pacer Mohammad Asif had submitted a visa application to the UK high commission in Islamabad last month.
The PCB had prepared a separate case for Amir while sending documents of other players for their visa to the UK High Commission in Islamabad.
The PCB chief had written a letter to the UK High Commissioner seeking special and sympathetic consideration on Amir’s visa.
The board was also in touch with the England and Wales Cricket Board who has been positive and cooperative in this matter right from the beginning, Associated Press of Pakistan quoted sources as saying.
The source said that the PCB had only decided to apply for a visa for Amir after legal consultations.
Boxing legend Muhammad Ali dies at 74
LOS ANGELES: Boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on Friday, a family spokesman said in a statement.
"After a 32-year battle with Parkinson´s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74," spokesman Bob Gunnell said.
Ali, whose fame transcended sport during a remarkable heavyweight boxing career that spanned three decades, had been hospitalized in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with a respiratory ailment this week.
Born in Louisville, Ky., in 1942, as Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., he began boxing at the age of 12, winning a number of amateur titles, culminating in an Olympic gold medal as a light heavyweight at the 1960 Games in Tokyo. He turned pro soon after that.
Early in his career, he battled societal norms as frequently as he did his opponents. In 1964, as the struggle for civil rights simmered, he knocked out heavy favorite Sonny Liston to win the heavyweight title for the first time, then told reporters that he was a member of the Nation of Islam and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali, a name many news outlets at the time were slow to recognize.
By 1967, he had successfully defended the title nine times, all but two by knockout. With the Vietnam War raging, he refused induction into the U.S. Army, on religious grounds, and was arrested and charged with draft evasion. When prodded further for his reasons for resisting, he said, “I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slave-masters over dark people the world over.”
Though he remained free on appeal, he was stripped of his title and not allowed to box for more than three years. The conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, unanimously, in 1971. (A 2013 film by Stephen Frears, “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” which dramatized the court’s decision, debuted in Cannes, aired on HBO in the U.S., and earned an Emmy nomination.)
During his exile from the ring, Ali decided to try acting, starring in the 1969 Broadway musical “Buck White” at the George Abbott Theatre. He played a militant black lecturer, and got better reviews than the show, which closed after seven performances. “He sings with a pleasant slightly impersonal voice, acts without embarrassment and moves with innate dignity,” wrote New York Times reviewer Clive Barnes.
Ali’s boxing career was defined by his matches against top opponents, particularly rivals Joe Frazier and George Foreman. His 1971 bout with Frazier to unify the heavyweight championship, his third after being reinstated, was called the Fight of the Century. Among those in attendance at Madison Square Garden were Miles Davis, Barbra Streisand, and Sammy Davis Jr. Bert Lancaster was the color commentator for the closed-circuit TV feed. Life Magazine hired Frank Sinatra as the photographer for Norman Mailer’s story.
Ali had exploded the era of humble sports heroes when he declared, “I am the greatest!” in the run-up to his title fight with Liston. He also was among the first athletes to trash-talk his opponents, and he called Frazier, who supported the war, an Uncle Tom. Frazier knocked down Ali in the 15th round, and won a unanimous decision.
Ali had to wait three years for another shot at the championship, this time against Foreman, who had beaten Frazier so badly in taking the title that few gave the 32-year-old challenger a chance against the 25-year-old champ. Ali called the fight, held in Kinshasa, Zaire, the Rumble in the Jungle. In documenting the bout 22 years later, Gast’s Oscar-winning “When We Were Kings” showed how an ebullient Ali had arrived on the scene a few days before the taciturn Foreman, and won over the nation’s citizens. An impromptu entourage of hundreds followed him around chanting, “Ali, bomaye!” (Ali, kill him!).
In 1977, Ali lent his name to a short-lived NBC animated series “I Am the Greatest!: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.” Somewhat more memorably that year, he joined Sylvester Stallone — whose “Rocky” was to win best picture — to present the best supporting actress award to Beatrice Straight for her role in “Network.”
In the ring, a third, brutal fight against Frazier (the “Thrilla in Manilla”) as well as battles with Ken Norton subjected Ali to a great deal of punishment. And though he would become the first heavyweight to reclaim the title for a third time in 1978 at age 36, when he beat 25-year-old Leon Spinks in a rematch, the wear and tear of a career in boxing was apparent.
He retired, and stayed that way for two years, but ill-advisedly returned for two more bouts, with Larry Holmes and Trevor Burbick, both cringe-inducing losses.
In 1996, 12 years after his Parkinson’s diagnosis, Ali, showing the effects of the disease, lit the torch to begin the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. In 2005, he was presented with the Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.
Ali is survived by his fourth wife, Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams, two sons, and seven daughters, including Leila Ali, a boxer who retired, undefeated, in 2007.
ICC conducts dope tests on Yasir, Misbah, Azhar and Junaid By AFP
LAHORE: Cricket´s world governing body is conducting dope tests on four Pakistani players, including leg-spinner Yasir Shah, suspended for three months earlier this year, team manager Intikhab Alam confirmed Friday.
Pakistan Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq was also tested by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The team can ill afford any positive results, which could have a significant impact on their upcoming tour in England, during which the results are expected to be confirmed.
The ICC, which has been a signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) since 2006, routinely conducts such tests in and out of competition.
Shah was provisionally suspended in December last year after he tested positive for chlortalidone, a masking agent under the WADA list of banned substances.
He was barred for three months after he pleaded guilty and told the ICC that he had inadvertently taken his wife´s blood pressure medication.
His ban was lifted in late March, making him eligible for the England tour.
Alam said Shah´s test could come under the spotlight.
"Besides Shah, Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, one-day skipper Azhar Ali and fast bowler Junaid Khan were also tested but Shah´s test could be targeted," he told AFP.
Shah is seen as Pakistan´s main wicket-taker for the four-match Test series in England, which starts at Lord´s from July 14.
Pakistan will also play five one-days and a Twenty20 international on the tour.
Their last tour to England in 2010 was marred by a spot-fixing case which resulted in five-year bans on then Test captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.
Amir returned to the national team in January this year and is expected to be named for all three formats for the tour.