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NST Online: Sports

Easy ride into last eight for Azlan

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 10:17 AM PDT

Low Wee Wern stretches to make a return in her match against Australia’s Rachael Grinham yesterday. Rachael won 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6. — Picture by  Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

Low Wee Wern stretches to make a return in her match against Australia's Rachael Grinham yesterday. Rachael won 11-5, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-6. — Picture by Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

AZLAN Iskandar was hoping for a tough workout in the men's first round of the CIMB Kuala Lumpur Open yesterday but gladly accepted an express pass to the quarter-finals instead.

Sporting a new black-and-white tiger motif T-shirt, Azlan was braced for a difficult evening only for Pakistan's Farhan Mehboob of Pakistan to concede the match at 9-9 in the first game after rolling his ankle.

The unexpected turn of events allowed Azlan to sail into the last eight where he will be joined by Nafiizwan Adnan at the Berjaya Times Square glass court today.

But Ong Beng Hee was ousted in the first round by India's Saurav Ghosal 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 11-6 as a string of poor results continued for the 2008 KL Open winner.

Gregoire Marche joined Ghosal as surprise winners when the Frenchman outlasted Cameron Pilley of Australia 14-12, 11-8, 11-1 while 2007 KL Open champion Mohammed Abbas joined Beng Hee on the scrapheap after going down to South African Stephen Coppinger in five games.

Azlan was surprised Farhan conceded so easily after the players matched each other stroke for stroke but accepted his good fortune.

"It's unfortunate for Farhan as it was developing into a good fight until he said he hurt his ankle," said fourth seed Azlan, eyeing his third KL Open title.

"Usually you expect them to come back and give it a try but at least I'm through. To get to the final you need three good matches and the first match helps me get into the tournament.

"It's still going to be a hard week and the mental preparation has to be right," added Azlan, who goes on to meet another Pakistani in Aamir Atlas Khan in a re-match of their Asian Games individual and team final clashes.

Nafiizwan had more reason to celebrate as the World No 47 belied his lowly ranking to make the KL Open quarter-finals for the first time with an 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9 win over qualifier Ali Farag of Egypt.

His reward is a meeting with Egyptian second seed Mohamed El Shorbagy, who ousted Australia's Aaron Frankcomb 11-5, 11-8, 11-7.

"I'm not quite happy with how I played as I thought I was bit off," said Nafiizwan. "It seemed like I was just ball-watching and not reacting enough.

"It's my first time reaching the glass court here so I'll definitely need to play better than today (yesterday) and be more aware and patient." -- DEVINDER SINGH

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Shoaib to call it quits after World Cup

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 08:21 AM PDT

COLOMBO (Sri Lanka): Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar will retire from international cricket after the World Cup, bringing an end to one of the most colourful careers in the sport.

Pakistan team manager Intikhab Alam has confirmed that the 35-year-old quick, nicknamed the 'Rawalpindi Express', will make a formal announcement at a news conference arranged for late yesterday.

Shoaib made his international debut in 1997 in a test match against the West Indies and is regarded as one of the fastest bowlers ever to play the game. But his career has been plagued by injuries and, more recently, off-field issues with the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Shoaib's teammates hugged him in the dressing room before captain Shahid Afridi also embraced the paceman as they walked onto the field for a training session at R. Premadasa Stadium.

Pakistan play defending champions Australia in Colombo tomorrow in the last match in Group A. Both teams have already qualified for the quarter-finals.

Shoaib played in 46 test matches and took 178 wickets while in 163 one-day internationals he captured 247 wickets.

Despite struggling with his fitness after knee surgery in Australia two years ago, Pakistan selectors picked him for the World Cup.

But his his performance has been mixed in the tournament.

Shoaib has taken only three wickets in the three 2011 World Cup matches and was rested for the games against Canada and Zimbabwe.

His last over in the 110-run loss to New Zealand went for 28 runs when Ross Taylor hit the paceman for three sixes and two fours.

Pakistan team management fined Shoaib for breaking a team curfew when the team played two World warm-up matches in Bangladesh last month. -- AP

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