Rabwah sports events updates

Kamran backs Sarfraz, willing to play as batsman

LAHORE: Ruling out any rivalry with ODI and T20 captain Sarfraz Ahmed, wicket-keeper/batsman Kam­ran Akmal who has made probables camp said on Tuesday that if selected he could even play as a batsman.

Talking to reporters here before the start of the training camp set up at the Gaddafi Stadium ahead of the West Indies tour, the long discarded Kamran said he had been focusing on his batting while stating that ODI skipper in Sarfraz was throwing up fine performances as a captain and as a player due to which no one could replace him.

“I will play as per the role given to me. You people might have observed that not only I have been focusing on my batting abilities but my batting has also improved over the last few years,” maintained the top-order batsman.

When asked there used to be a fierce rivalry between former wicket-keepers in Moin Khan and Rashid Latif, Kamran dispelled the impression stating that young wicket-keeper/batsman in Mohammad Rizwan also played along with Sarfraz before him.

“The performance I gave as a batsman both in the domestic circuit as well as in the PSL makes me a strong contender for a place in the national team,” he further said.

On the other hand, there are reports the team management is aware of the fact that induction of Kamran, who was declared PSL’s best batsman, best player and best wicket-keeper in presence of Quetta Gladiators’ wicket-keeper Sarfraz, into the national side will put the T20 and ODI skipper under pressure.

Asked there were reports that he had not passed the fitness test, Kamran while rejecting those reports stated: “I appeared in the fitness test on Tuesday and succeeded in meeting all fitness standards. Also, I think trainer Grant Luden is the best man to answer your question.

“Fitness has never been my problem as I hardly miss training,” Kamran claimed before stating that if selected his target would be to cement his place in the team by giving match-winning performance.

The top-order batsman said if he remained fit he could play for four to five years. “It is your fitness which prolongs your career. So if I remain fit I could play for four to five years,” he commented while stating that he was giving extra time to his fielding and batting in the training camp.

Meanwhile, left-arm fast bowler Rumman Raees Khan said he had his own style of celebration after claiming wicket, adding that it was good that some bowlers were copying him.

Rumman said he was happy that he had been invited to the probables camp after performing well in the domestic cricket and the PSL.

“The coaching staff laid more emphasis on fitness level which would help Pakistan cricket in the long run,” remarked the fast bowler who said he enjoyed his second stint with the Islamabad United.

“I learnt a lot from the experience of former fast bowler Wasim Akram and ex-Australian batsman Dean Jones during the PSL,” the pacer further said.

Meanwhile, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq is likely to announce the Pakistan squad on Wednesday for the upcoming T20 and ODI series against the West Indies.

Dawn learnt that Inzamam is considering the option of naming the squad soon after or during the 50-over practice match at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017

Shahryar expects Misbah to retire after West Indies tour

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Shahryar Khan does not expect Test captain Misbahul Haq to continue playing for Pakistan beyond the upcoming tour of West Indies.

While talking to the Daily Express, the 82-year-old revealed that after the disappointing tour of New Zealand and Australia, he had asked the veteran skipper to decide his future himself.

“I had a word with Misbah and asked him to decide about his future,” said Shaharyar. “He said he will get back to me after reviewing his form in the PSL, following which he contacted me and expressed his desire to go on the West Indies tour.

“Keeping his services for the country in mind, I retained him as the captain because I think he wants to finish his career on a high, and the tour of Caribbean will be a great opportunity for him. However, since he will turn 43 during that tour, I don’t see him playing for Pakistan after that.”

Shaharyar, while talking about the possible return of international cricket to Pakistan, added that hosting a successful Pakistan Super League (PSL) final was a small step towards a long journey.

“It was an opportunity for us to show to the world our security arrangements,” he said. “However, it will not be fair to believe that just one match can convince international teams to come to Pakistan.

“We’ve invited Bangladesh and Sri Lankan team for the home series, but there is nothing certain yet. Even the World XI’s proposed tour of Pakistan is not confirmed yet, but if it is materialised, then we should be able to have four matches in the space of one week.”


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.

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.

Angry batsman hurls stump, kills Bangladesh teen

DHAKA: A 14-year-old cricketer has died in Bangladesh after he was hit by a stump thrown by an angry batsman during a friendly game between neighbourhood teams, police said Monday.

Faisal Hossain was fielding in the southeastern port city of Chittagong when the batsman was given out, assistant police commissioner Jahangir Alam told AFP.

“The batsman was furious when he saw that he was stumped or bowled out. He grabbed a stump and threw it in the air. The stump hit part of the neck and head of Faisal who was fielding close to the wicket,” he said.

“He collapsed on the ground in pain and was declared dead after he was taken to a hospital.”

The batsman has been detained and will be prosecuted for causing unintentional death, police said.

Clashes are common over cricket in Bangladesh, where the sport is taken seriously even at village level.

Last May, a batsman wielding a stump allegedly beat a 16-year-old cricketer to death in Dhaka after the teenager taunted the umpire over a no-ball delivery.

Pakistani team issued visas for T20 Blind Cricket World Cup


Pakistani team issued visas for T20 Blind Cricket World Cup

KARACHI: Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) Chairman Sultan Shah confirmed on Wednesday that India had provided visas to the Pakistan blind cricket team for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be played in India starting from January 30.

The squad will depart for India after they receive their passports in a couple of days.

The opening ceremony will take place in New Delhi, while the final will be played on February 12. The teams to participate in the world cup are India, Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

Pakistan would play its first match against New Zealand in Delhi on January 30.

Pakistan in danger of not directly qualifying for World Cup 2019

Pakistan is in serious danger of failing to qualify directly for the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) World Cup 2019 in the United Kingdom as it currently sits at eighth position in the One Day International Team Rankings.

Pakistan is at eighth position with 89 points, two behind Bangladesh and two ahead of the West Indies, said an A former world champion, Pakistan has sets its sights on direct qualification for the World Cup 2019 as it takes on the in-form reigning world champion and number-one ranked Australia in a five-ODI series starting in Brisbane on Friday.

To at least maintain its pre-series ranking points, Pakistan needs to win one match of the series, while victories in more than one match will earn it crucial points.

If Pakistan wins two matches, then it will join Bangladesh on 91 points but will be ranked behind its Asian rivals by a fraction.

In the scenario of Pakistan winning the series, it will move ahead of Bangladesh and, as such, will enhance its chances of qualifying directly for the event it won in Australia in 1992.

On the flipside, Australia will retain its pre- series points if it wins the series 4-1, while it will concede one point if it wins 3-2. Australia can fall from the top pedestal but to make it happen, Pakistan will have to win by 4-1 or better.

However, considering that Australia leads Pakistan 33-16 on a head-to-head in its backyard, including 15 wins in 19 ODIs this decade, this looks highly improbable.

The ODI team rankings, unlike the Test rankings, are updated after each match and the ODI predictor function is available here.

Host England and the seven highest-ranked sides on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings as on 30 September 2017 will qualify directly for the event proper to be held from May 30 to July 15, 2019.

The four bottom-ranked sides will be joined by six teams from the ICC World Cricket League in the 10-team ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 and the top two sides will complete the 10-team World Cup line-up.

Meanwhile, third-ranked India takes on fifth-ranked England in a three-ODI series starting in Pune on Sunday, January 15. While India will be aiming to narrow the gap with second-ranked South Africa, England will be targeting an upward movement.

India can rise to as high as 114 points if it sweeps the series, but if the series result is reversed, then England can move up one place to fourth and India can slide to fifth.

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.”