National Boxing C’ships to Commence from January 20

From Sports Reporter

LAHORE: The 36th National Men and the 1st National Women Boxing Championships will be held at WAPDA Sports Complex from January 20 to 24, under the aegis of Pakistan Boxing Federation in collaboration with WAPDA Sports Board.

As many as 15 teams will participate in the Men Championships i.e. WAPDA, Army, Navy, Air Force, Railways, KPT, K-Electric, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Islamabad, AJ&K, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan. Men’s competitions will be held in 10 weight categories which are 46, 52, 56, 60, 64, 69, 75, 81, 91 and 91+ kilogramme.

With a view to popularize boxing amongst women folk. Women Championship is being organized for the first time, wherein as many as 24 women players from the provinces and associations will compete in three weight categories of 51, 60 and 75 Kilogramme.

Opening ceremony of the Championships will be held on January 20 at 1330 hours. Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) President Lt Gen (Retd) Arif Hassan will be the Chief Guest, while WAPDA Chairman and WAPDA Sports Board Pattern-in-Chief Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain (Retd) will be the Chief Guest of the closing ceremony scheduled to be held on January 24 at 1430 hours.

Djokovic staggers past Monfils in draining win

MELBOURNE: Six-time champion Novak Djokovic survived a brutal fitness examination to overcome Gael Monfils in intense heat and stagger into the third round at the Australian Open yesterday. Djokovic stretched his unbeaten record over Monfils to 15-0, one of the longest at Tour level, after dropping the opening set but just managed to get to the finish line.

He just did enough at the end to carve out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 win in 2hr 45min on baking Rod Laver Arena.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion has a day to recover for his third round encounter with Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

The extreme elements made it a survival of the fittest with Monfils looking the worse for wear early before Djokovic had enough in the tank to win on his fourth match point in a gruelling eight-minute final game.

“It was brutal conditions and we both suffered, it was a big challenge for both of us,” Djokovic said on-court.   —Agencies

AB de Villiers surprised by lively Indian pace attack

JOHANNESBURG: South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers yesterday found a positive for India in what has been a thoroughly disappointing Test campaign here so far — their “lively pace attack” which he says, has surprised the hosts. The Proteas took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three- match series with comprehensive wins in Cape Town and Centurion.

“India have really impressed me. They have surprised us in terms of pace bowling. They have showed a lot more skill and definitely there is a lot more pace than we expected,” de Villiers said on Thursday, at an event to launch the Pink ODI against India on February 10.

The batting genius, whose knocks proved crucial in both the Tests, said he is enjoying his return to the five-day cricket and lauded the Proteas for their all-round show.

“Test cricket is the ultimate challenge. It was very enjoyable to be part of a really important and good series win. I think it was a great team effort from everyone, from the fielders, to the bowlers, and to big pressure moments with the bat in hand.

“It was just an all-round good team performance. I am obviously enjoying my cricket and loving it out there with the boys. It has been a great couple of Test matches,” he said.

Talking about his physical fitness after returning to the longer format for the first time since December 2015, the former South African said, “It feels like my debut back in 2004 when I started as an opening batsman, then a keeper at no.7 and back to opening, and up and down.” —Agencies

Missed Messi penalty costs Barca in cup derby defeat

MADRID: Lionel Messi missed a penalty as Espanyol struck in the dying moments to consign Barcelona to their first defeat since August, 1-0 in the first leg of the Copa del Reyquarter-finals yesterday.

Oscar Melendo slotted home a neat finish with two minutes remaining of a temperamental derby cup tie, racing onto Marc Navarro’s low cross to punish Messi for missing a 62nd-minute penalty and send the home crowd into raptures.

“We knew this day would come, we tried to delay it as much as possible but it couldn’t be today,” said Sergio Busquets after the match.

“The good thing is that we have the second leg to try to mount a comeback. We are lucky to have that game at home, and we will have to win whatever happens.”

In a match of few chances Barca’s penalty, which came after a foul on Sergi Roberto, looked to be the decisive moment for the away side, but Espanyol keeper Diego Lopez dived superbly to his left to push Messi’s powerful shot wide.

Navarro then came close to giving the hosts the lead in the 83rd minute with a dipping free-kick that forced an excellent save from Jasper Cillessen, before five minutes later setting up the goal that gave Espanyol their first win over Barcelona in nearly nine years.

“This victory is important for the history of the club and to break down all those walls,” said Espanyol coach Quique Sanchez Flores. —Agencies

Hockey World XI to play Pakistan on Jan 19 in Karachi

Sports Reporter

KARACHI:  The World Hockey XI will play Pakistan national side on January 19 in Karachi in a bid for the return of international sports in the country.

The match will be played at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Stadium in the Sindh’s provincial capital.

All arrangements for match have been completed as the green shirts will take on the foreign team containing players from various countries.

While the team selection had already completed, the star Pakistan hockey player Sohail Abbas has remained largely absent from the scene.

Abbas has scored 348 goals in his career. The World XI manager opined that Abbas refused to lead the side due to low wage.

Talking to media, the penalty corner specialist said that PHF didn’t establish any contact with him for the games.

Kazakhstan bus fire kills 52

AKTOBE: A bus has caught fire in north-western Kazakhstan, killing 52 people, the interior ministry has said. Five people managed to get out and were treated by rescue workers on the spot, reports said. The accident happened at 1030 local time on Thursday (0430 GMT) in the Irgiz district of Aktobe region. The bus is thought to have been carrying Uzbek citizens to or from Russia along the Samara-Shymkent route, said local media.

The route, which is about 2,200km (1,300 miles) long, is frequently used by Uzbek migrant labourers travelling to construction sites in Russia, observers said.

The emergency services ministry told AFP news agency that 55 passengers and two drivers had been aboard the bus. Five passengers received medical assistance. The remainder were killed, it said in a statement. But the causes of the deadly blaze are so far unclear.

Emergency officials have opened a telephone hotline for worried relatives. A local journalist, Askar Aktileu, posted a picture of the burned-out wreckage on his Instagram page. —AFP

Last three years hottest on record: UN

GENEVA: The last three years were the hottest on record, the United Nations weather agency said yesterday, citing fresh global data underscoring the dramatic warming of the planet.

Consolidated data from five leading international weather agencies shows that “2015, 2016 and 2017 have been confirmed as the three warmest years on record”, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said.

It added that 2016 remains the hottest year ever measured due to the warming effect of El Nino, while 2017 was the warmest non-El Nino year, beating out 2015 by less than one-hundredth of a degree.

“The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

The 21st century has so far been a period of the hottest weather, accounting for 17 of the 18 warmest years on record. The WMO also highlighted the intensification of weather and climate related disasters, which hit record levels in the United States last year, while multiple countries were devastated by cyclones, floods and drought. —Agencies

Man died, two injured in knife attacks in Melbourne

By SJA Jafri

MELBOURNE: Police said a man died after he was found outside a block of flats in North Melbourne, while two men in their 20s were attacked by a group on a street in Noble Park.

Police said the victim of the North Melbourne stabbing died at the Royal Melbourne Hospital after being treated by paramedics at the scene.

Emergency crews were called to the entrance of the flats, on Courtney Street, about 4:45am.

Police said they have not yet worked out the circumstances of the stabbing and were door knocking the area this morning.

Russell Mulry, who works nearby on Queensberry Street, said he was shocked to hear what had happened in an area he said was not usually violent.

“You get the few odd people walking around the streets as you do in every suburb and town, but I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

In Noble Park, two men in their 20s were stabbed after they were approached by a group of men.

“Investigators have been told the pair was walking in the vicinity of Corrigan Road and Green Street about 1:00am when they were approached by five to six men armed with a knife, they made demands for cash,” a police statement said.

South Korea to continue talks with ‘clear eyes’

SEOUL: South Korea says it will continue high-level talks with North Korea with clear eyes amid global warnings that Pyongyang might be playing for time to continue its nuclear-arms programme.

We have to make the most of the opportunity, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told the media.

The two Koreas earlier agreed to march under a unified Korea flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

The talks come as the US and its allies vowed to keep pressure on the North.

On Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said sanctions were really starting to hurt, expressing confidence that the pressure would eventually force the North to the negotiating table over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Last year, US President Donald Trump said that America would destroy North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies.

Also on Wednesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang’s recent charm offensive.

It is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea, Mr Kono said, Reuters news agency reported. —Agencies

Indian boy shot dead in police crossfire

LUCKNOW: An eight-year-old boy was shot and killed in police crossfire in northern India, an officer said yesterday.

Madhav Bharadwaj was playing with friends in Uttar Pradesh state when he was shot dead in front of his grandfather late Wednesday.

Police said they went into the boy´s village on a tip-off that suspected robbers were hiding out there, and it was unclear who fired the bullet that struck him.

Villagers, however, told local media that only police were shooting. “Three policemen came to the village and asked the (suspects) to gather at the terrace of a nearby temple for a talk. But suddenly the cops began firing,” the boy´s grandfather told the Times of India newspaper.

“My poor grandson was playing nearby and got hit. I froze for a moment. I was unable to understand what had happened.” Rajesh Kumar Sonker, a superintendent of police in Mathura district where the incident took place, told AFP an investigation was under way.  —AFP