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Pakistan beat New Zealand by 42 runs in T20I series

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T20I series

CHRISTCHURCH – Exceptional bowling by Iftikhar Ahmed led Pakistan to a 42-run win over New Zealand in the last game of the five-match T20I series on Sunday.

Pakistan posted 134-8 in 20 overs while batting first in Hagley Oval, Christchurch. In return, New Zealand were bundled out for a paltry 92 as the visitors defended a low total to avoid a series whitewash.

CRICINFO’S MOST VALUABLE PLAYERS OF THE MATCH OF T20I series

PLAYERTeamTIRunsI.RunsB.ImpactBowlI.WktsBo.Impact
Fakhar ZamanPAK71.9133(16)45.2271.910
Tim SoutheeNZ63.964(6)3.852.442/192.8661.53
Mohammad NawazPAK55.61(4)– 2.14– 5.422/182.5461.02
Mohammad RizwanPAK49.5338(38)42.0849.530
Ish SodhiNZ48.471(3)0.5602/222.4848.46
Abbas AfridiPAK40.7114(6)21.5436.880/43.83
Zaman KhanPAK39.0601/41.7939.06
Lockie FergusonNZ33.340(1)– 0.012/241.7333.36
Sahibzada FarhanPAK32.2219(14)23.332.220
Iftikhar AhmedPAK29.995(8)1.91– 2.563/241.9232.56
Usama MirPAK29.341(1)0.940.711/211.0728.63
Matt HenryNZ28.881(3)– 0.47– 1.962/302.2430.84
Finn AllenNZ27.4122(19)25.2127.410
Glenn PhillipsNZ23.0826(22)25.8923.080
Will YoungNZ13.2912(11)13.2813.290
Shaheen Shah AfridiPAK10.851(6)– 4.27– 8.712/201.2819.56
Tim SeifertNZ4.1719(30)14.394.170
Mitchell SantnerNZ0.284(4)4.484.860/30– 4.58
Rachin RavindraNZ-0.481(2)0.57– 0.480
Mark ChapmanNZ-1.861(3)0.03– 1.860
Haseebullah KhanPAK-5.340(3)– 2.56– 5.340
Babar AzamPAK-6.2513(24)4.86– 6.250
5th T20I series

Tim Southee struck in the first over to remove debutant Haseebullah for a duck.

The seasoned duo of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam put up a 53-run second-wicket stand to bring some stability to the innings after the early setback.

Ish Sodhi brought an end to the partnership in the 10th over as Babar (13, 24b, 1×4) was caught by Glenn Phillips at deep midwicket.

Fakhar Zaman hit a quick-fire 33 from 16 in this T20I series, including a boundary and four sixes, to get the scoreboard moving for his team. Southee got his second wicket when Fakhar mistimed a shot to Lockie Ferguson at long-off.

Mohammad Nawaz fell to Sodhi for just one run on the last ball of the 14th over. On the subsequent ball, Rizwan was caught by Rachin Ravindra on Matt Henry’s bowling after scoring a run-a-ball 38, including four boundaries.

Ferguson and Henry dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed and Shaheen respectively to bring Pakistan to 114-7 in 18.2 overs.

Sahibzada Farhan, the seventh batter in, contributed 19 from 14, including a six and four, before getting out to Ferguson in the last over of the innings. Abbas Afridi also chipped in with an unbeaten 14 from six, including two maximums.

Southee, Ferguson, Sodhi and Henry all accounted for two scalps each as Pakistan were restricted to 134-8 in 20 overs.

Defending a low total, Nawaz aided Pakistan by removing Ravindra for just a run in the second over of the innings. Finn Allen (22, 19b, 3x4s, 16) was the next batter to walk back to the pavilion, as he was caught by Haseebullah off Zaman Khan’s bowling.

Will Young hit 12 from 11, including two fours, before Iftikhar Ahmed caught him at the deep square as Nawaz got his second wicket of the day.

Shortly after, Mark Chapman was run out to bring New Zealand down to 54-4 in the 11th over.

Iftikhar trapped Tim Seifert (19, 30b) leg-before while captain Mitchell Santner fell to leg-spinner Usama Mir for a run-a-ball four.

Trouble deepened for the home side as both Sodhi and Henry fell victim to Iftikhar, for a run each.

Phillips’ (26, 22b, 1×4, 1×6) fighting effort went in vain as skipper Shaheen cleaned up the last two wickets to bowl out New Zealand for 92 in 17.2 overs.

Iftikhar was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors, returning with three wickets for 24 runs in his four overs, and was adjudged player of the match. Shaheen and Nawaz grabbed two wickets while Zaman and Usama removed a batter each. Follow for more

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Google Launches Gemini-Powered Search Ads To More Advertisers

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Gemini

Google integrates its Gemini AI model into Google Ads to streamline campaign creation.

Google has integrated its most advanced AI model in tech, called Gemini, into the Google Ads platform to enhance advertising performance. Gemini’s first integration automatically generates relevant content for advertiser’s creative and performance assets, including images, headlines, descriptions and keywords.

Highlights

  • Google added its advanced AI, Gemini, to Google Ads.
  • Gemini is said to help create better ad campaigns with less work.
  • Google is carefully integrating Gemini and plans more AI features for advertisers.

Google has integrated its most advanced AI model, called Gemini, into the Google Ads platform to enhance advertising performance.

According to Shashi Thakur, Vice President and General Manager of Google Ads, this integration is meant to make it easier to create ad campaigns and help ads connect better with what people are searching for online as search behavior evolves.

Gemini: A New Frontier in Ad Creation

Gemini, which Google considers its leading AI technology, will now be used more widely across Google’s main products and services.

Applying Gemini to Google Ads is expected to be transformative, as it will enable more natural, conversational interactions that make it easier for users to create search advertising campaigns.

Thakur expressed enthusiasm about the progression, saying:

“We’ve been actively testing Gemini to further enhance our ads solutions. And, we’re pleased to share that Gemini is now powering the conversational experience. It’s the first of many Gemini integrations to come.”

The conversational tool combines advertisers’ expertise with Google’s AI capabilities. It starts with the advertiser’s website URL and uses AI to help create optimized search ad campaigns. The AI generates relevant ad content like creatives and keywords based on the site.

Beta Access For Advertisers

Google has launched the beta version of its conversational ad creation tool to English-speaking advertisers in the US and UK. The company plans to make it available globally to all English-language advertisers over the next few weeks. Support for additional languages is expected to follow.

Tests Show Enhanced Quality With Less Effort

Preliminary testing with a few advertisers has shown that conversational interactions considerably improve the quality of search advertising campaigns while decreasing the need for manual work. Ad Strength, a measurement that assesses ad copy relevance, quality, and diversity, has been a key sign of this enhancement.

Tom Foster, a Paid Search Manager at Page1, praised the new system:

“I found the conversational experience very easy to use. It helped me create even more high-quality ads with ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ Ad Strength, which has further improved the performance of my campaigns.”

Upcoming Features & Responsible AI Integration

Google is addressing the difficulty advertisers have in making engaging visual ads. Google plans to add a tool using AI to recommend images for campaigns. Advertisers will still choose final images to match their goals.

To be transparent about AI-generated content, Google will mark these images with invisible SynthID watermarks and metadata. This identifies images made by AI in Google Ads.

Stats show small businesses using conversational ad building are 42% more likely to get “Good” or “Excellent” Ad Strength scores. This matters because Ad Strength strongly predicts conversion rate. On average, conversions increase by 12% when Ad Strength goes from “Poor” to “Excellent.”

Looking Ahead

Google shares the industry’s optimism about the potential for AI to create new value for consumers and advertisers. However, Google aims to develop and deploy AI responsibly, in line with the principles for ethical AI development that the company outlined in 2018.

Advertisers and industry observers are advised to monitor Google Ads for future AI-enabled upgrades. Google also provides educational AI resources and tools for those interested in learning more about and working with AI technology today.

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Pakistan’s human rights commission says an upcoming election is unlikely to be free and fair

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Human Rights Commission

Challenges to Democracy Human Rights Commission:

Concerns Over Pre-Poll Rigging and Candidacy Rejections in Pakistan’s Upcoming Elections

In a troubling development, Pakistan’s independent Human Rights Commission raised serious concerns on Monday about the likelihood of free and fair parliamentary elections in the country next month, citing instances of “pre-poll rigging.” The commission also expressed worry over the rejection of the candidacies of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and numerous members of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s independent human rights commission said Monday there is little chance of free and fair parliamentary elections in the country next month because of “pre-poll rigging.” It also expressed concern about authorities rejecting the candidacies of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and most other members of his party.

At a news conference in Islamabad, the co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Munizae Jahangir, said other political parties have been subjected to similar tactics to varying degrees.

“At this point, there is little evidence to show that the upcoming elections will be free, fair or credible,” Jahangir said.

Speaking at a news conference in Islamabad, Munizae Jahangir, the co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, highlighted that similar tactics had been employed against other political parties to varying degrees. Jahangir asserted that the current situation offered little evidence to suggest that the upcoming elections, scheduled for February 8, would be conducted in a manner that is free, fair, or credible.

Jahangir raised alarms about the systematic dismantling of Khan’s PTI, emphasizing that the rejection of nomination papers for a significant number of its candidates raised serious questions about the integrity of the country’s Election Commission. She emphasized the importance of allowing people to freely choose their candidates and expressed apprehensions that the electoral process might be manipulated.

The co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned what she described as the state’s “clampdown” on dissent, noting that such actions further restricted civic discourse at a crucial time when Pakistanis should be allowed to express their views freely in the lead-up to the election.

Adding his voice to the concerns, Farhatullah Babar, a veteran human rights leader, labeled the Election Commission’s decisions to disqualify Khan and other PTI members from the ballot as “apparent pre-poll rigging.” Babar asserted that Pakistan’s caretaker government had a responsibility to ensure free and fair elections, and the Election Commission should provide all political parties with equal opportunities.

Babar warned that some of the country’s major political parties might not accept the outcome of a potentially rigged election. He cautioned that a disputed vote could lead to further political instability, underscoring the importance of addressing concerns over the election process to maintain the democratic fabric of the nation.

Imran Khan, currently serving a three-year prison sentence for corruption, faces additional charges that complicate his ability to run for office. Despite being aware that his nomination papers could be rejected, Khan, through his legal team, sought to contest a seat in the National Assembly. However, election officials barred him from running due to his prior conviction, dealing a fresh blow to the 71-year-old former cricketer, who remains the country’s most popular opposition figure.

Khan’s removal from office in April 2022, following a no-confidence vote in Parliament by political opponents, added to the challenges faced by the PTI. The rejection of its candidates’ nominations now raises concerns about the party’s ability to participate fully in the upcoming elections, casting a shadow over the democratic process in Pakistan.

The situation calls for a closer examination of the electoral process and a commitment from authorities to address the concerns raised by the Human Rights Commission. Ensuring transparency, fairness, and equal opportunities for all political parties is crucial to upholding the principles of democracy and maintaining political stability in Pakistan. The international community will be closely watching the developments leading up to the elections, emphasizing the importance of a democratic and inclusive process for the future of the nation.

According to its website, the HRCP was established in 1986 and is a nonpolitical, not-for-profit organization committed to defending human rights in the South Asian nation. Visit for more NEWS.

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Donald Trump closes in on Republican presidential nomination as DeSantis quits

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Donald Trump

NEW YORK: Donald Trump aims to sew up the Republican presidential nomination after the contest narrowed to a two-horse race with Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s withdrawal less than 48 hours before the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.

Florida: Governor Ron DeSantis has ended his Republican United States presidential campaign just before the New Hampshire primary and endorsed Donald Trump, after failing to emerge as a serious challenger for the White House against the 77-year-old former president.

Short of a defeat in the Granite State, or a close second-place for his remaining rival Nikki Haley, the timeline to Trump’s nomination as the candidate to face President Joe Biden in November could be greatly accelerated.

The former president achieved a resounding win over DeSantis in Iowa last week, with Haley coming in third, and no candidate has ever failed to secure the Republican nomination after winning the first two states.

That makes New Hampshire make-or-break for Haley, Donald Trump one-time UN ambassador, who trails her former boss in polling for what is seen as her strongest state.

Trump, 77, has ramped up attacks on Haley over the last week, calling her “not smart enough” and claiming that she had not earned the respect of voters.

He assailed her again Sunday and praised DeSantis as a “very capable person” as he accepted the governor’s endorsement in front of cheering supporters.

“Without the endorsement I think we would have got all of those votes,” he said to raucous applause at his campaign headquarters in Manchester.

“Because we have very similar policies — strong borders, great education, low taxes, very, very few regulations, as few as possible — things that (Haley) really doesn’t talk about, because she’s a globalist.”

Haley had earlier taken aim at the front-runner’s mental acuity after he confused her with veteran Democrat Nancy Pelosi during a rally.

“He’s just not at the same level he was at 2016. I think we’re seeing some of that decline. But more than that, what I’ll say is focus on the fact that no matter what it is, chaos follows him,” she told CBS.

Donald Trump vs Haley

Trump holds a double-digit lead over Haley in New Hampshire, according to polls, and his campaign team hopes a second consecutive win will make his eventual nomination all but inevitable.

The one-time reality TV star’s campaign urged Republicans to rally behind him, dismissing Haley as “the candidate of the globalists and Democrats”.

“It’s time to choose wisely,” the statement said.

Trump also has a commanding lead in South Carolina, which votes on February 24. A Haley loss in her home state – where she was governor from 2011 to 2017 – would probably mean the end of her campaign.

At a campaign event in Seabrook, New Hampshire, Haley drew cheers when she announced that DeSantis had dropped out.

“For now, I’ll leave you with this: May the best woman win,” she said.

Nikki Haley
With DeSantis’s departure, Nikki Haley is the challenger to Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination [Matt Rourke/AP]

With time running short, Haley has sharpened her attacks on Trump, blaming the former president for Republican electoral losses in 2020 and 2022 and criticising his praise for authoritarian leaders.

In a statement, Haley said the US was “not a country of coronations.”

“So far, only one state has voted. Half of its votes went to Donald Trump, and half did not … Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again, or we go down a new conservative road,” she said.

DeSantis’s withdrawal from the race for the presidential nominee also leaves his political future in question. The 45-year-old can only serve two terms as Florida’s governor.

His latest term ends in January 2027.

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