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International cricket returns to Pakistan

Fresh from hosting the Pakistan Super League final, there is more good news for Pakistan cricket as the International Cricket Council (ICC) is considering sending a World XI side to Lahore to play a four-match T20 series in September.

The series, which will be another giant leap towards restoring foreign players’ confidence in visiting Pakistan, has been named ‘The Independence Cup’.

“The desire is to give cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world’s finest players in live action,” said the ICC’s Pakistan Task Force head Giles Clarke. “The world of cricket needs to help Pakistan, who cannot continue to play their home fixtures overseas.

“The youth need inspiring, and the national teams need far more cricket played in familiar terrain. Furthermore, the terrorists cannot win and cricket must not give up on Pakistan.”

The announcement also gave PSL mastermind Najam Sethi an opportunity to gloat and show his critics how wrong they were when they doubted that the PSL final in Lahore would do nothing.

No further details of the World XI side have yet been released, although the matches will be staged on September 22, 23, 28 and 29.

 Since the infamous terrorist attack of 2009 on Sri Lanka cricket team on their soil, all the teams have refused to tour Pakistan, with Zimbabwe being the only exception two years ago.

During this time, the cricket-frenzied nation’s national team has played their home series in their adopted home ground of the UAE.

Imran Khan in eye of storm over ‘vile’ comments about foreign PSL players

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was at the receiving end on Monday after a video surfaced in which the party leader made derogatory comments about international players who attended the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Lahore.
In what seems to be an internal party meeting, Khan is seen branding international players who came for the PSL final as ‘phateechar’.

“I don’t even know the name of any of these so-called foreign players. It seems they just picked up players from wherever. Picked some from Africa and called them foreign players,” said Khan.

The video quickly went viral on social media where the PTI chief was heavily censured for using ‘vile’ and ‘racist’ language against foreign players, such as Darren Sammy who helped make the event a success.

Dean Jones travelling to Lahore to watch PSL final

DUBAI: Islamabad United may have crashed out of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL), but their coach Dean Jones has announced that he will still be traveling to Lahore to watch the final at the Gaddafi Stadium.

In the midst of mass withdrawals of the PSL’s foreign contingent, Jones’ announcement will be music to the ears of the hosts.

“We might not be in the final but we are committed to Pakistan cricket. Good luck to all teams still in play in the PSL,” said Jones.

But cricket is not the only motivating factor for the Australian to make the trip. He apparently is quite fond of Lahore’s famous cuisine.

“I will visit Lahore to support cricket in Pakistan but also to taste their delicious food,” he added.

Quetta Gladiators became the first team to qualify for the PSL final on Tuesday after defeating Peshawar Zalmi by just one run in a thrilling encounter.

It is the second straight year the Gladiators have qualified for the tournament’s final, although they will be looking to go one better than last year when they were bested in the final match by Islamabad United.

 

 

Peshawar out to end play-off curse against Karachi

SHARJAH: Peshawar Zalmi will be out to end their play-off curse and make it to the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) when they take on Karachi Kings in Dubai on Friday.

Peshawar, for the second season running, finished top of the group stages but suffered a one-run defeat against Quetta Gladiators to find themselves facing an eliminator.

However, what is different this time around is that instead of Misbahul Haq’s Islamabad United, they take on Kumar Sangakkara’s Karachi in the do-or-die game.

Peshawar have a superior 3-1 win-loss ratio against the Karachi side so may go into the game high on confidence. However, their only loss did come in the last game between these two sides.

Batsman Sohaib Maqsood admits the pressure is firmly on the Peshawar side as they once again face the prospect of failing to reach the final after topping their group.

“This is our second chance of reaching the final; there is a bit of pressure but we are trying to be as focused as we can,” Maqsood told The Express Tribune.

The former Pakistan international knows his side should really have been in the final after throwing away the initiative in the game against Quetta where they needed just one run off the final three balls to take the game into a super over.

“We had a really close game against Quetta and we let it go from our hands,” he said. “But this time around we are confident we will manage to ensure that the game doesn’t get decided by chance.”

The right-handed middle-order batsman knows the team that manages to hold its nerves better in the crunch game may well be the one facing Quetta in the final in Lahore. “The team that holds its nerves at the crucial times will have an advantage in the upcoming game,” he said. “We were unable to do that in the last game and it cost us the win.”

Maqsood revealed that Peshawar have pinpointed Karachi’s batting trio of tournament top-scorer Babar Azam, West Indies big-hitter Chris Gayle and Pakistan international Shoaib Malik as the dangermen.

“Babar can be their main batsman but Gayle needs to be dismissed quickly otherwise he can score big if he stays out there,” he said, while also admitting that playing pacer Mohammad Amir and spin duo Imad Wasim and Usama Mir won’t be easy to face. “It will be a fun match to play under so much pressure.”

However, the Multan-born added his side also boasts some of the finest match-winners around, naming the likes of skipper Darren Sammy, star all-rounder Shahid Afridi and pace spearhead Wahab Riaz. “They have delivered some match-winning performances and we require something similar in the next game against Karachi.”

Karachi, on the other hand, are now the tournament’s form side with five wins in their last six games, including knocking out champions Islamabad in their last game.

However, Imad knows the batsmen need to up the ante against Peshawar. “We were around 25 runs short against Islamabad, but managed to defend it through some brilliant bowling,” said Imad.

The Pakistan all-rounder admits the side may have misread the pitch a bit in the last game. “We were expecting the pitch to support the bowlers but it didn’t, although the ball was skiding in the first half and wasn’t coming onto the bat like it did in the previous matches,” he said.

Imad impressed in tandem with spin partner Mir and the left-arm spinner hailed his younger leg spin colleague. “Mir helps me a lot since he is a wicket-taker so my job changes when he bowls with me,” he said. “However, against Islamabad we knew we needed wickets from both ends.”

Imad admitted the team is riding a wave of confidence with three wins on the trot. “The last two wins against Islamabad and the win against Lahore really lifted the team’s morale and confidence,” he said.

Bye-bye ‘Boom Boom’ as Afridi ends international career

Legendary Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi on Sunday announced his retirement from international cricket, ending an illustrious and sometimes controversial 21-year career.

The 36-year-old star had already quit Tests in 2010 and ODI cricket after the 2015 World Cup but still skippered the Pakistan Twenty20 team at the 2016 world championships in India.

He stepped down as captain after the tournament although he retained slender hopes of continuing his career in the sport’s shortest format as a player.

“I have said goodbye to international cricket,” said Afridi after smashing a 28-ball 54 in a Pakistan Super League match for Peshawar Zalmi in Sharjah.

“I am playing for my fans and will continue to play this league for another two years but it’s goodbye from international cricket.

“Now my foundation is important for me. I have played with seriousness and in a professional way for my country.”

Afridi also urged that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season two final should be held in Pakistan during a post-match press conference on Sunday. “The final, as announced, should be held in Pakistan, with or without international players,” he said.

“This is about respect, we can play with our local players but I request overseas players who have supported PSL to also come to Pakistan and continue their support,” he adds.

“Pakistan Cricket Board should look at the situation and if things are not working out [in Lahore], we have options,” he said adding, “We have Pindi stadium, we have stadium in Karachi. I hope the cricket board will take good decision.”

Nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’, Afridi had been a fan favourite since he burst onto the scene in 1996, striking a 37-ball one-day century against Sri Lanka in only his second match to set a world record that was unbeaten for 18 years.

He became known as a leg-spin bowling all-rounder in the second half of his career and was instrumental in Pakistan’s early successes in Twenty20, including their 2009 victory.

After stopping short of retirement following Pakistan’s first round exit at the 2016 World Twenty20, Afridi had wanted to play a farewell Twenty20 match against West Indies in United Arab Emirates in September. But selectors, with one eye on the future, did not pick him in the squad.

His blistering breakthrough century in Nairobi in 1996 was only surpassed by New Zealand’s Corey Anderson’s 36-ball hundred against West Indies at Queenstown in 2014.

South African AB de Villiers then bettered the record further with a 31-ball century, also against the West Indies, at Johannesburg in 2015.

Afridi’s rapid-fire century in Kenya made him an instant hit with the crowds who expected fireworks every time he strolled to the crease.

Sometimes he delivered but too often for some, his death or glory approach brought his downfall. Afridi’s maverick style also brought him a one-Test and two-match ODI ban after he was charged with using his foot to tamper with the pitch during a Test against England in Faisalabad in 2005.

He was also banned for two Twenty20 internationals after he was shown on television biting the ball during a one-day international against Australia at Perth in 2010.

Afridi finishes his international career having played just 27 Test matches which yielded 1,176 runs with a highest score of 156 and 48 wickets.

He played 398 one-day internationals with 8,064 runs, a highest score of 124 while taking 395 wickets with his leg spin.

His Twenty20 international CV saw him play 98 matches with 1,405 runs and a career-leading 97 wickets.

Pakistan to tour West Indies for full series in March

Pakistan to tour West Indies for full series in March

West Indies will host a full series, including three Tests, against Pakistan beginning on March 31, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has said.

Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain will stage two Twenty20s, to be followed by three one-dayers at the Guyana National Stadium.

Kingston’s Sabina Park will host the first test from April 22, followed by matches in Bridgetown (April 30-May 4) and Roseau (May 10-14).

Former giants West Indies rank a lowly eighth in Tests and WICB manager of operations Roland Holder said the series against number five Pakistan would offer an additional opportunity to improve their ranking.

“Any series against Pakistan always poses an interesting contest for the West Indies,” he said in a statement.

There was no word from WICB, however, on the possibility of playing two Twenty20s in Pakistan, which remains a no-go zone for top teams wary of security issues in the country.

“There is an offer (from the PCB) to play two T20 matches in Pakistan, subject to Players’ Association agreement and security clearance,” Holder had earlier told ESPNcricinfo.

Schedule of Pakistan’s tour of West Indies:

Mar 31: 1st T20I, Port-of-Spain

Apr 2: 2nd T20I, Port-of-Spain

Apr 7: 1st ODI, Providence

Apr 9: 2nd ODI, Providence

Apr 11: 3rd ODI, Providence

Apr 22-26: 1st Test, Kingston

Apr 30-May 4: 2nd Test, Bridgetown

May 10-14: 3rd Test, Roseau

Pakistan’s top junior player aims to emulate Federer

 

Pakistan’s top junior player aims to emulate Federer

ISLAMABAD: In a cricket-crazy country like Pakistan, tennis has not been able to get its due with only an odd icon like Aisam-ul-Haq making waves on international circuit. However, there are still youngsters in this country’s folk who want to turn professionals and aspire to excel like world’s top stars.

Huzaifa Abdul Rehman is one of them. The 14-year old is Pakistan’s top junior player and has been outstanding in the last couple of years. He has already jolted the tennis circuit at the Asian level by winning six Asian Tennis Federation (ATF) tournaments in 2016, five of them held outside Pakistan.

Currently the No.2 junior Asian player, Huzaifa idolises Swiss great Roger Federer and aims to be like him. “He is my ideal and I want to shine in the world of tennis like him and though Federer is currently not among the world’s top ten players, he is undoubtedly the greatest tennis player of all time,” he said of the legendary Swiss player who continuously remained in top 10 from October 2002 to November 2016 and also held the number one position for 302 weeks — a world record in the sport.

Huziafa, who represented Pakistan in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) 14 and Under Junior Development Series division 2 in January last year and claimed a silver medal in the coveted event, said he is training hard to accomplish what his role model (Federer) achieved after turning pro in 1998.

“I believe I’m on course to achieve what he did in his life,” says the confident youngster. “I’m training for at least five hours every day and the more I train, the more my desire to become like Federer grows.”

But Huzaifa’s father Col Mohammad Faisal believes that despite being highly talented, his son will only match the great Swiss player’s accomplishments if he has the proper financial backing.

“Financial support becomes crucial when a player takes a step from a budding youngster to a tour professional,” said Faisal. “When you don’t have the money to get top level training and to play the professional circuit, your dreams are unlikely to materialise.”

Huzaifa got training in Bangkok in May 2014 under coach Dominik Utzinger, an Asian Tennis Federation ITF level III coach. Then last year from Jan 2016 to June 2016, he again spent a six-month training period in the same country under Pracharapol Khamsaman, an Asian Tennis Federation ITF level II Coach.

Faisal said training in foreign countries involved a lot of money and a common Pakistani could not even think of it. “An aspiring youngster requires at least $3000 per month only for group training in a state-of-the-art academy to polish his skills. But if he wishes to hire a coach, then he’ll have to spend three times more than that.”

At home Huziafa is groomed by Faisal at the tennis courts of Mangla Cantt. When he is in Islamabad he is trained by former Pakistan No.1 and ITF Level II coach Asim Shafik who has a high opinion about his pupil and feels he has all the potential to become a tennis icon.

“Huzaifa is a highly talented kid and when I see his commitment and devotion to the game, I know that one day he’ll become a great player. The good thing about him is that he spends a lot of time in training. I’ve no doubt in mind that hard work will pay off and he’ll rise in world tennis,” Asim added.

Huzaifa also feels that tennis facilities in Pakistan are not at par with international standards and youngsters need sponsorships to get good training abroad and to pursue their dreams. “We can produce great players like Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray but money is a big hurdle,” he remarked. “Hopefully things will work out for me better if I get good sponsors.”

http://www.dawn.com/news/1307398/pakistans-top-junior-player-aims-to-emulate-federer

A class apart: All too easy as Pakistan cruise along

A class apart: All too easy as Pakistan cruise along

KARACHI: 

Pakistan are eyeing another Test series win in the UAE as they bossed the third day of the second Test against the West Indies at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Stadium.

Their bowlers shared the wickets among themselves to dismiss the tourists for just 224 in the first innings, handing Pakistan a massive 228-run lead.

Misbahul Haq, however, opted against enforcing the follow-on — making it the fifth time he has turned down the option. There was to be no second innings collapse a la the first Test though, as openers Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali further hammered home Pakistan’s ascendancy with a 93-run stand.

Aslam was dismissed after making 50 while Azhar was unbeaten on 52 at stumps, playing alongside Asad Shafiq, who was on five.

Pakistan build commanding 342-run lead over Windies

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with figures of 4-86 but he was well-supported by pacers Rahat Ali (3-25) and Sohail Khan (2-35).

Such was Pakistan’s dominance that people are already looking towards the third Test. Former chief selector Haroon Rasheed feels the hosts are in full control and should ease to a win, adding that the present West Indian team doesn’t have the required batting depth to counter Pakistan’s attack in red-ball cricket.

“Pakistan should be aiming for a clean sweep in the series,” he said. “They were pushed all the way in Dubai during the day-night Test with the pink ball but they are now comfortable once again with the red ball. West Indies have no depth in their batting; instead they rely heavily on a couple of players, so Pakistan should win this game with ease.”

Rasheed was full of praise for the bowling attack, saying that the pacers bowled their hearts out in the searing Abu Dhabi heat.

Pakistan all out for 452 against West Indies

“Rahat bowled really well — we rested our two most prominent pacers, yet Rahat and Sohail both made their presence felt and made full use of the opportunity,” he said. “The red ball also brought reverse swing into play in dry conditions and I am happy the two pacers took full advantage of that.”

Yasir’s workload must be managed

Rasheed also advised caution against the over-utilisation of Yasir, with important tours to New Zealand and Australia to come.

“I hope Yasir has been given adequate rest as his shoulder can start hurting with the number of overs he has been bowling,” said Rasheed. “Yasir should be given shorter spells with both Nawaz and Zulfiqar bowling more overs.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2016.

Yousuf urges ICC to take action against BCCI’s statement

Yousuf urges ICC to take action against BCCI’s statement

Yousuf urges ICC to take action against BCCI’s statement

Muhammad Yousuf heads to practice on the eve of his Test return at The Oval on August 17, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf said on Saturday that the International Cricket Council (ICC) should take notice of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Anurag Thakur’s ‘political’ statement.

“The ICC keeps on saying it will not tolerate politics or governmentinterference in member boards and the BCCI president is making political statements. Either he should speak as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader or as a BCCI head,” said Yousuf as quoted by Press Trust of India.

BCCI chief rules out cricket series with Pakistan

Yousuf’s reaction came after Thakur, on Friday, said that India is not ready to play against Pakistan who allegedly sponsor terrorism.

“No question of playing cricket. Today, priority is to expose Pakistan as a country which sponsors terrorism. We can’t even think of such thing (playing cricket with Pakistan),” said Thakur.

Former right-hand batsman, who holds the Test record for most runs in a calendar year, also said that India, for some reason, avoided playing Pakistan even when the two countries had good relations.

‘No relationship with Pakistan until terrorism ends’

“I just don’t understand what he [Thakur] wants to say,” said Yousuf. “For the last eight years, India has avoided playing us in a proper bilateral series even when relations were better.”

The 42-year-old further said that people of both countries enjoyed the matches between Pakistan and India however, now, there is no series.

India’s intentions clear: Rashid Latif

Another former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif believes Indian board had earlier made their intentions clear of not playing against Pakistan thus rendering Thakur’s statement weightless.

Uri assault may be a reaction of atrocities in Kashmir: Nawaz

“The last time we went to India in 2012 as a goodwill gesture for a short series of ODI and T20I matches. But since 2007, the Indian board has avoided playing us at a bilateral level in a full series,” he said.

Latif said at least the PCB knewnow where it stood as far as relations with BCCI were concerned.

source TRibune

Troubled champs Windies face in-form Pakistan

Troubled champs Windies face in-form Pakistan

Troubled champs Windies face in-form Pakistan

DUBAI – The West Indies will hope to forget their off-field turmoil and underline their status as World Twenty20 champions when they face buoyant Pakistan in a three-match series starting on Friday.

The supremely talented but troubled side have arrived in the United Arab Emirates after sacking coach Phil Simmons and without all-rounder Andre Russell, who is facing a doping hearing.

Match starts at 9:00 PM

The Windies are also missing flamboyant big-hitter Chris Gayle, who complains of injury problems and makes only sporadic appearances for his country.
Gayle also missed the West Indies’ one-run Twenty20 win over India in Florida last month, while Russell will front a hearing into claims he missed three drugs tests in a 12-month period, an offence which could trigger a two-year ban.
Carlos Brathwaite stunned England when he smashed Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to clinch the West Indies’ second World T20 title in April.
Brathwaite will now captain the side in UAE while towering former fast bowler Joel ‘Big Bird’ Garner replaces Simmons, who repeatedly clashed with the West Indies board.

Brathwaite hopes his team will show their huge talent in the humid conditions in the United Arab Emirates, where they also trained ahead of the World Twenty20 in India.
“It wasn’t as hot early in the year, but, apparently, we’re smack dab in the middle of their summer, so it can get very, very hot,” said Brathwaite.
“It’s for the players to prepare well, manage themselves well off the field, rehydration-wise, get enough rest, and each and every one of us is a professional, and evidently performing well when the games come.

Brathwaite’s uncapped players — including wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran, all-rounder Rovman Powell and fast bowler Kesrick Williams — will also want to fire against a dangerous Pakistan side.
The West Indies will rely heavily on their T20 specialist spinners Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine, who shared five wickets to spark a 22-run win in a warm-up game on Tuesday.
Pakistan are also in good form, smashing hosts England by nine wickets in the only Twenty20 game of their tour in what was Sarfraz Ahmed’s first match as skipper.
Ahmed, who replaced Shahid Afridi following Pakistan’s first-round exit in the World Twenty20, hopes his team won’t be overawed by the champions.

“We didn’t think England were World Twenty20 finalists when we beat them at Manchester,” said Ahmed.
“We will do the same here, go out and play hard because the team which plays well on the ground wins a T20 match.

He added: “Even without Gayle and Russell, West Indies is strong and a T20 match is not won with big names only.

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir joined the squad after his wedding on Tuesday and will spearhead a spin-cum-pace attack.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez and lanky paceman Mohammad Irfan are out through injury.
Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal will be in focus after being recalled following his axing on the England tour over disciplinary issues.
Umar smashed a fiery century in a national Twenty20 event to force his comeback.

The second match will follow at the same venue on Saturday with the third in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The teams will also play three one-day internationals and three Tests.

SQUADS (FROM):

PAKISTAN: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Mohammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Rumman Raees, Umar Akmal, Saad Nasim

WEST INDIES: Carlos Brathwaite (capt), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Chadwick Walton, Kesrick Williams.

Key Facts

Sohail Tavir needs three wickets to become the fourth Pakistan bowler, after Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, to reach 50 wickets in T20Is

Bravo is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20s this year with 63 scalps in 54 matches.
Russell tops the list with 68 wickets in 51 matches

Pakistan have lost seven out of 12 T20Is in 2016.
West Indies, meanwhile, have lost only one of eight T20Is this year.

 

source the nation