Pakistan's Azhar Ali delighted with debut county ton for Somerset

Waseem Ahmed 25/07/2018
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Azhar Ali scored 125 on debut for Somerset.

Pakistan’s Azhar Ali made his county championship debut a one to remember with a superb century for Somerset in their clash against Worcestershire at Blackfinch New Road on Tuesday.

The Pakistan batsman struck a fluent 125 on day three to help Somerset set a mammoth target of 443 to win for Worcestershire in their second innings.

Azhar scored 125 off just 188 balls with the help of 13 boundaries and two sixes in the second division clash and was the last man dismissed before Somerset declared their second innings at 362-9.

“I’m really happy. It is my first game for Somerset and I’ve been made welcome,” Azhar told Somerset’s website after the match.

“Moeen (Ali) started to turn the ball out of the rough so I thought attacking him early on was the right option because if you are bogged down, they can bring a short leg into play so, I had to go after him to start with,” the Pakistan man said while reflecting on his innings.

“We wanted to score runs as well to be in a position to boss the game. That is why I played positively and it paid off,” explained Azhar, who was eventually dismissed by Moeen Ali himself.

Somerset had signed Azhar recently as a replacement for Matt Renshaw after the Australia opener broke his finger. The opener had been eyeing a deal in county cricket since Pakistan toured England earlier this May for a two-match Test series.

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India and Pakistan to clash in Dubai as 2018 Asia Cup schedule is released

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The two arch-rivals will meet on September 19 at Dubai.

The schedule for the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE was released by the ICC on Tuesday with the tournament getting underway on September 15 in Dubai.

Arch-rivals India and Pakistan, who have been drawn together in Group A, will go head-to-head on September 19 in the emirate.

The biennial tournament will be a six-team affair with India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as the confirmed teams. The UAE, Oman, Singapore, Nepal, Malaysia and Honk Kong will battle it out among themselves for the remaining spot in the qualifiers.

The 2018 edition will see the tournament revert to a 50-over format after the 2016 competition was a Twenty20 affair. India clinched the 2016 trophy and come into the tournament as the defending champions.

India were originally slated to host the Asia Cup this year but their ongoing political differences with Pakistan has seen the tournament being shifted to the UAE.

It will be the first time India and Pakistan have clashed since the ICC Champions Trophy final in England last year. Bilateral cricketing ties between the two neighbours has been suspended since 2008 with matches between the sides reduced to multi-team tournaments like the World Cup, World Twenty20 and the Asia Cup.

SCHEDULE

Sept 15 – Bangladesh v Sri Lanka (Dubai)

Sept 16 – Pakistan v Qualifier (Dubai)

Sept 17 – Sri Lanka v Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 18 – India v Qualifier (Dubai)

Sept 19 – India v Pakistan (Dubai)

Sept 20 – Bangladesh v Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi) Super Four

Sept 21 – Group A Winner v Group B Runner-up (Dubai)

Sept 21 – Group B Winner v Group A Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 23 – Group A Winner v Group A Runner-up (Dubai)

Sept 23 – Group B Winner v Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 25 – Group A Winner v Group B Winner (Dubai)

Sept 26 – Group A Runner-up v Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)

Sept 28 – Final (Dubai)

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India's warm-up game against Essex reduced to three days over heatwave concerns

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India are due to take on Essex in their only warm-up game.

India‘s four-day warm-up match against Essex has been cut short over concerns about the prolonged hot weather in the UK.

The tourists, who are preparing for their five-Test series against England in August and September, will now play the match in Chelmsford over three days instead.

Essex said the change had come at the request of the Board of Control for cricket in India (BCCI) “as a result of… the current high temperatures”.

A statement from the club said: “As a result of India’s five Test series against England during August and September, and the current high temperatures, the match will now take place on Wednesday 25 – Friday 27 July.

“The game will begin at 11am on each day and played under regular playing conditions; however, a full squad of players will be available for selection over the course of the three days.”

Fans who had bought tickets for play on Saturday will be given a full refund.

India, the top-ranked cricket side in the world, are due to begin their series against England at Edgbaston on August 1.

The match against Essex will be their only warm-up game.

Temperatures are forecast to top 30C (86F) in Chelmsford on Wednesday and Thursday.

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