Sarfraz accepts Pakistan T20 captaincy challenge

Karachi, April 6 (IANS) Newly-appointed Pakistan T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed has accepted the responsibility as a huge challenge in the wake of disappointing results during the recent Asia Cup and the World T20.

The wicket-keeper-batsman was on Tuesday named by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) as successor to struggling all-rounder Shahid Afridi. He pledged to create a cordial atmosphere among the players in the team.

“Leading your country is the biggest honour because out of the lot just a few get this opportunity. Having been the vice-captain for almost one year in both one-day and T20 formats, I have had the chance of monitoring the situation from game to game,” Sarfraz told Dawn on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old admitted that Pakistan had been going through difficult times but pledged his entire focus on improving the performance of the team.

“Obviously this hurts because not long ago we were the top T20 side in the world. Our aim will be rectify this downslide and to achieve this objective collective efforts to be made by all of us to raise a good, competitive Pakistan team,” he added.

Sarfraz said his primary focus would be on solving the many issues within the team and would put the collective cause above petty personal egos.

“I believe in unity and that’s would be main motto as captain. Ever since I started playing cricket, I have been taught to show respect all people, regardless of their ages,” he said.

“And having been part of Pakistan cricket, I have been through many ups and downs as a player and know how one feels if he is unwanted. This, certainly, is not my style of playing the game. And if you are the leader then one has to set examples for the others so that all of them contribute to a team goal.

“In my book a senior player is just as important as a junior guy. I have utmost respects for the senior players and always look upon them for inspiration.”

Sarfraz remained confident of camaraderie and support from his players.

“Fortunately there is a considerable period before Pakistan play next T20 International (against England at Old Trafford on Sept 70 and this will help me and the team management to plan accordingly.”

“But it doesn’t mean, we are going to relax because there is a very tough tour of Test and one-day tour of England coming up before the T20 fixture. As the ODI vice-captain, I have obligations on that front also. Azhar Ali as skipper has done a fair job and I have been helping him out as much I can. One never stops learning as you move ahead in life and both Azhar and me are going through this process.”

India win Asian Nations Cup team chess title

Chennai, April 6 (IANS) India won the Asian Nations Cup chess team championship defeating Vietnam with a convincing 3-1 margin in the final round in Abu Dhabi, the All India Chess Federation (AICF) said on Wednesday.

India finished splendidly well against Vietnam with Grandmasters S.P. Sethuraman and K. Sasikiran winning on second and fourth boards while B. Adhiban and Vidit Santosh Gujarathi drew on first and third boards.

India lifted the Asian Nations Cup with 17 points while defending champion and top seed China finished second around with 15 points in the final round on Tuesday, AICF said in a statement.

Kazakhstan and Iran took the third and fourth places, respectively, in the nine round tournament.

The Indian team were in good form to beat all the teams-barring Mongolia enroute to the title. The Indian team drew with Mongolia, AICF said.

This is the third time that India is winning this event. They won at Esfahan, Iran in 2005 and Kolkata 2009 previously when China did not participate on both occasions.

“Therefore this victory over China is something which will be remembered for long,” the statement added.

The title triumph follows the Indian’s team’s bronze medal at 2014 Chess Olympiad held in Norway. It was for the first time Indian team won an Olympiad medal.

On the distaff side, top seed China won the Asian Nations Cup Women event with 15 points. Uzbekistan was second with 14 and Kazakhstan third with 13 points.

In the last round Vietnam drew Kazakhstan and offered India a podium opportunity.

For this, India had to beat Iran but a draw pushed second seeded India to take the fourth place with 12 points.

India drew with China and Iran, lost to Vietnam and Kazakhstan by a 1-2 margin.

In the final round against Iran, Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Soumya Swaminathan lost but WGM Bhakti Kulkarni won, GM Harika Dronavalli and IM Padmini Rout drew.

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