Formula One leader Max Verstappen beat Fernando Alonso to pole position by a slim 0.084s at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday and conceded he would like to see the evergreen Aston Martin driver win again.
The Spaniard, a two-time world champion like Verstappen, has not won a race since he was at Ferrari a decade ago, but at the age of 41 is rolling back the years with a car that is taking the fight to dominant Red Bull.
Alonso was on provisional pole until Verstappen pulled out a jaw-dropping lap for the ages and seized the top slot, with the Aston Martin driver starting alongside on the front row.
The Spaniard jokingly suggested at a press conference that championship leader Verstappen could maybe help him out on Sunday with a poor start.
“I think we need the help from Max, but we cannot … take it for granted that all three cars will finish the race with no issues. This is Monaco and it’s going to be demanding,” Alonso said.Asked jokingly whether he might be willing, Verstappen chuckled.
“I mean, I like to see Fernando win but I also like to see myself win. It’s a tough one, I’ll think about it,” he replied.
Verstappen, 25, said 2005 and 2006 champion Alonso had always been a driver he admired.
“I grew up watching Fernando in F1 and I liked his style and for him to still be here at 41 it’s very impressive and I think it’s a great example for people out there,” he said.
“If you stay committed and believe in yourself, believe in the opportunities that come to you, then you can show something like he’s doing right now. But, of course, you need also a lot of natural raw talent with that.”
Alonso has had four third place finishes in five races since he joined Aston Martin this season and Sunday should see him go at least one better.
He said it was good also to show his speed to a new generation of fans attracted by the Netflix docu-series ‘Drive to Survive’ but who may have only seen him in less competitive cars.
“Maybe … they only saw me fighting for Q3s [the final phase of qualifying] or something like that or retiring in the race with some smoke at the back,” he added.
“So, now I think they are surprised that they see me fighting a little bit towards the front.”
China censors ‘Tiananmen’ image of Asian Games athletes hugging
A photo of two Chinese female athletes that made an inadvertent reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre has been censored on Chinese social media.
The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form ’64’ – a common allusion to the incident which happened on June 4.
Discussions of the incident remain taboo in China, with authorities routinely scrubbing any mention of the topic from the internet.
In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. It remains unclear how many people actually died that day, but human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.
The athletes had embraced each other after a 100m hurdles race at the Asian Games in which Ms Lin won gold. She was wearing her lane number 6 next to Ms Wu’s lane number 4 in the photo.
Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares. However, the photo does not appear to have been completely scrubbed off the internet, with some Chinese news articles still showing a photo of the two athletes.
China has won nearly 300 medals so far in the Asian Games, which are currently taking place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It is due to go on until 8 October.
All-round Afif helps Bangladesh survive Malaysia scare
Afif Hossain put on an all-round show as Bangladesh beat Malaysia by two runs to confirm their semi-final fixture against India at the Asian Games. Malaysia needed five in the last over with Virandeep Singh batting on 52 off 35, but Afif gave away just two runs to keep the upset at bay.
Afif varied the pace in each of the first three balls of the final over to frustrate Virandeep before lobbing one up outside his hitting arc. Virandeep tried to break the shackles but holed out to long-on with Malaysia still needing five. Afif then nailed two yorkers to give away just two runs and end the contest.
Chasing 117, Malaysia were reduced to 18 for 3, with Afif striking twice in the fifth over. Virandeep then stitched two key partnerships, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 for the seventh with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs, to take his side close. But Malaysia faltered in the last over.
Earlier in the day, Afif found himself in the middle with Bangladesh three down inside three overs. He struck a 14-ball 23 with two fours and two sixes and added 38 in just four overs with captain Saif Hassan. Hassan struck a steady half-century – 50 off 52 balls – on a surface that slowed down considerably after the earlier game, between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in the day.
Pravandeep Singh, Virandeep’s elder brother, finished with two wickets for Malaysia but Bangladesh managed to get to 116, which eventually proved to be just enough.
Bangladesh 116 for 5 in 20 overs (Saif Hassan 50*, Afif Hossain 23, Shahadat Hossain 21; Pavandeep Singh 2-12) beat Malaysia 114 for 8 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 52, Syed Aziz 20; Afif Hossain 3-11, Ripon Mondol 3-14) by two runs
Naib, Qais knock Sri Lanka out to take Afghanistan into semi-final
Afghanistan knocked an inexperienced Sri Lanka side out of the Asian Games to book a spot in the semi-final in Hangzhou. On a slow-turner, Noor Ali Zadran struck a steady fifty before three-fors from Oais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib dealt the final blow to Sri Lanka, who had nine debutants.
After opting to field, Sri Lanka struck with the seventh ball of the match when Nuwan Thushara cleaned up Sediqullah Atal. Noor and Mohammad Shahzad then added 54 for the second wicket but both batters struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi and took their time in the middle.
After Shahzad fell to seamer Lahiru Samarakoon, Shahidullah struck some lusty blows during his 14-ball 23. But then a collapse ensued that saw Afghanistan slide from 92 for 2 to be bowled out for 116. Thushara, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, finished with 4 for 17.
In reply, Sri Lanka raced off the blocks, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Naib for a four and a six in an 11-run second over. Even though he fell in the next over, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over.
That’s when Qais came into the attack and turned the game around with a two-wicket over. Ashen Bandara fell to a googly and played on while attempting a drive. Three balls later, wicketkeeper-batter Lahiru Udara was lured into playing a heave across the line to be bowled.
Captain Sahan Arachchige showed some resistance with his 22 off 29, and later, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth kept the slim hopes alive when 15 were needed from 12 ball and then nine in the final over. But Karim Janat knocked Thushara over with the first ball of the 20th over to kick-start celebrations in the Afghan camp.
Afghanistan 116 in 18.3 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 20, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Shahidullah 23; Nuwan Thushara 4-17, Sahan Arachchige 2-26) beat Sri Lanka 108 in 19.1 overs (Sahan Arachchige 22, Qais Ahmad 3-16, Gulbadin Naib 3-28) by eight runs
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