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Unfortunately, the reasons for defeat were several, but the main reason that stood out was the team’s lack of focus. — AFP/File

THE outcome of the long-awaited and eagerly anticipated match between Pakis­tan and Australia was an unexpected one indeed. Though the Aussies were favourites for the game, Pakistan restricted them to just 307 after a whirlwind start but then lost their way to succumb by 41 runs.

Unfortunately, the reasons for defeat were several, but the main reason that stood out was the team’s lack of focus, so much so that on more than a few occasions our players were caught napping. Dropped catches, poor shot selection from batsmen, inconsistent bowling and absurd field placings indicated a very unprofessional approach by Pakistan, which certainly does not augur well for future games in this World Cup.

Bouncing back is never easy for any team and Pakistan has another stiff challenge coming up against India on Sunday which surely wont be a walk in the park for them.

However, it is never too late and if our team simply focus on one thing — which is learning from their mistakes in the previous games — they can for sure put up a winning performance against the arch-rivals on Sunday. In hindsight, bowling first against the Aussies was not the best option. But if they had opted for that, then the bowlers should have bowled to a method, pitching up and bowling wicket-to-wicket. Instead, they were wayward and did not bowl to the field which allowed the Aussie openers to pounce upon every opportunity they got to post a century stand on the board in no time.

Our opening bowlers, apart from Amir, could not make the full use of the conditions. The fielders joined the party with some really sloppy fielding and dropped catches to ensure Australia was on track for 400. Had those catches been taken the story would have been drastically different.

In the late half of the innings, though, the bowlers finally got their act together to restrict the Aussies remarkably well.

The target of 307 looked well within the grasp but our batsmen continued to display immaturity by falling to needless hook shots on short balls. They clearly lacked the application, focus and dedication which is required to win a match against a quality side like Australia. If we look at the dismissals, they were most unexpected and very soft in nature. Fakhar Zaman has been out of sorts lately and that was evident from the fact when he cut the ball straight down the throat of third man. It was an extremely irresponsible stroke where Fakhar easily fell into the trap set for him by the opposition.

Babar Azam, who was timing the ball impeccably, lacked the discipline to duck the shorter ball and went Fakhar’s way. Babar is such a classy batsman and it is a bit disappointing to see him fall to such soft dismissals. He knows he is the mainstay of this batting line-up and should stay longer at the wicket to score a hundred or more to ensure a formidable total for his team.

Imam, too, have fallen to needless leg-side flicks in the last couple of games which have angered the experts and former players. It is a terrible way to get out and he needs to curb this habit at the earliest to score more runs. Had he carried on in that fine partnership with Hafeez it would have been a big boost for the batsmen who followed as they had scored freely in the death overs. Alas, it was not to be.

Although there were a lot of disappointing moments in the match, the pick of them was the Hafeez dismissal who should have smashed a full toss out of the park but handed an easy catch to Mitchell Starc instead who was positioned for just that shot. From thereon, the Aussies tightened the grip to get rid of Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali in quick succession to take control. Despite brilliant cameos by Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz, Pakistan never looked like getting back in the game.

It is imperative that Pakistan have a solid game plan against India now. They have to really switch themselves on to a different, aggressive mindset. Team slection is vital here and the struggling duo of Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik need to be rested and replaced by Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim.

Sarfraz Ahmed and his men showed earlier this month that they have the skill and the resilience to bounce back and beat the best when they stunned England. There is no reason why they can’t do it again. Best of luck Pakistan!

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019

In this file photo,  batsman Babar Azam pulls during his century in the World Cup warm-up against Afghanistan at Bristol County Ground on Friday. — AFP

LAHORE: While urging the Pakistan think-tank not to push panic button after the national team’s shocking loss to Afghanistan in the World Cup warm-up, former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz on Saturday told them to take the defeat as a wake-up call and play with the best combination at the mega event.

Afghanistan, featuring in a World Cup for the second time, stunned the critics in Bristol on Friday as a spirited Gulbadin Naib-led side defeated Sarfraz Ahmed and his men by three wickets in the World Cup warm-up. They successfully chased down 263 with two balls to spare.

“The Pakistan team is quite strong and there is no need to push the panic button on the eve of the World Cup. However, there is a need [for the touring team management] to come out with their best playing combination,” Sarfraz told Dawn on Saturday.

“So far the team management has failed to field the best combination. They committed some major mistakes in [picking] the playing XI in the Afghanistan match. From now onwards in all the matches, Asif Ali should be a regular batsman at the sixth spot, while only one from Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez should be inducted,” Sarfraz reckoned.

“During the [recently-concluded] ODI series against England, both Malik and Hafeez played the last two matches just to save their skin. Without them however, Pakistan achieved big totals [in the first three matches of the series] either batting first or chasing.

Sarfraz continued, “Malik did not bowl against Afghanistan and even Hafeez did not complete his full quota. All this shows both are lacking confidence, and are trying to save their places till the start of the World Cup by having less exposure,” he underlined.

Sarfraz Nawaz also wants skipper Sarfraz to take decisions intelligently.

“As captain, Sarfraz should also take wise decisions. [In the Afghanistan match] there was no need to change Mohammad Amir at one stage when he had started reverse swinging the ball but Sarfraz replaced him and brought in Shadab Khan,” Sarfraz pointed out.

The former fast bowler, while hailing the decision of including pacer Wahab Riaz in the World Cup squad, though at the eleventh hour, thought the team would miss pinch-hitter Umar Akmal at the premier event.

“Both Malik and Hafeez are not pinch-hitters unlike Umar who after having a good domestic season could have been a suitable addition in the World Cup squad as pinch-hitter,” Sarfraz, the 55-Test veteran, said.

“I think still Mickey Arthur is [still] not comfortable with Umar due to which the batsman could not get place in the team. Arthur should compromise with Umar also as he did on Wahab’s inclusion,” Sarfraz added.

Meanwhile, Sarfraz again appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was his new-ball partner during their playing days, not to abolish departmental cricket.

“At least the departmental teams should be allowed to play Twenty20, one-day cricket and also Patron’s Trophy Grade-II, a four-day event, if not Grade-I,” Sarfraz insisted.

Sarfraz feared that a significant number of cricketers would lose their jobs in case the PCB closes departmental cricket as per its proposed plan.

“The move [of abolishing departmental cricket] will not serve any national purpose. Therefore, I want to appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan to allow the departmental teams to continue their decades-old role for the betterment of Pakistan cricket,” Sarfraz concluded.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2019

PCB spokesman says the permission has been granted to the players after noticing the trend followed by other teams. — PCB/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has allowed all members of the national squad, who want to stay with their wives during the World Cup, but not before the June 16 blockbuster against arch-rivals India to be held at Old Trafford, Manchester.

Earlier, this permission had only been granted to two players — Haris Sohail and Asif Ali — under specific circumstances. Asif, who is to leave for Cardiff on Saturday to rejoin the Pakistan team there after attending the funeral of his two-year-old daughter who died of cancer, was allowed to accompany wife at this tragic time. Similarly, left-handed batsman Haris was also permitted to be with wife due to a family-related problem.

Earlier, the PCB had also allowed the cricketers to stay with their wives during the recently-concluded bilateral ODI series against England.

When contacted, a PCB spokesman confirmed the news and added the permission had been granted to the players after noticing the trend followed by other teams.

Meanwhile to a query, the spokesman said PCB director international cricket Zakir Khan was also going to England while newly-appointed managing director Wasim Khan will be present at the opening ceremony of the World Cup. Wasim will stay in England till the match between Pakistan and India. PCB chairman Ehsan Mani will leave for London later.

Though Zakir has no scheduled meeting with any England and Wales Cricket Board official, he is going to England just to take it as an opportunity to meet his counterparts of other boards.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019

KARACHI: Pakistan women’s skipper Bismah Maroof addressing a media conference at the National Stadium on Sunday.—Courtesy PCB

KARACHI: Pakistan women’s team captain Bismah Maroof on Sunday expressed complete confidence in her side that will play South Africa in three ICC Women’s Championship One-day Internationals, which will be followed by five T20 Internationals.

The series between South Africa and Pakistan will be played from May 6 to 23.

Speaking ahead of team’s departure for South Africa, Bismah said the team had worked hard during their two-week training camp in Karachi.

“We have worked hard in the training camp, which has been a great success since we spent considerable time on our all-round [batting and bowling] skills,” said the world’s 31st-ranked batter while addressing a media conference.

Bismah added that the main target, both for her and the team management, led by head coach Mark Coles, was winning the One-day International series and improving the team’s chances of securing a direct berth in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2021.

Event hosts New Zealand and the four other highest-ranked sides from the ICC Women’s Championship will gain direct qualification to the event proper. Pakistan are currently ranked sixth with 12 points from as many matches, South Africa have a point more than Pakistan (13).

Bismah felt the standings of the two teams will make the series even more competitive.

“Both South Africa and Pakistan are going to fight hard for the ICC Women’s Championship points. They currently have a one-point advantage over us, which we can overcome by winning the series. Both teams are evenly matched and the points table situation will make the series even more exciting,” said the veteran of 100 ODIs and 95 T20Is.

The 27-year-old from Lahore, who is considered as one of the batting mainstays in the Pakistan line-up, felt her side had gained great momentum by winning their first-ever ODI series against the West Indies in Dubai, and the core of that team was the same.

“Other than Diana Baig, who suffered an unfortunate injury at the start of the camp, the core of the team that beat the West Indies has been retained. The team management and I have a lot of confidence in the proven abilities of Sana Mir, Nida Dar, Sidra Amin, Javeria Khan, Nashra Sandhu and Aliya Riaz, who have done very well for us in the recent past.

“The other squad members are also equally capable. Newcomer Fatima Sana, who has replaced Diana in the side, has also shown a lot of promise at the camp, which is another heartening sign.”

While the focus is on the ODI series, Bismah and her side will also seek improvement in their T20I performance after losing a closely fought three-match series against West Indies in Karachi earlier this year.

“The T20I series is, of course, also important to us keeping in mind the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Australia 2020. Five matches against a formidable side like South Africa gives us the opportunity of providing more exposure to our players as we develop our team for the Australian conditions,” the skipper remarked. “The pitches in South Africa will almost be similar to what we will confront in Australia, hence, playing a five-match T20I series is a huge boost for us.”

If Bismah succeeds in featuring in all five T20Is, then the last match of the series in Benoni on May 23 will become her 100th T20 International. This will make her the second Pakistan player after Sana Mir (100) and sixth overall to achieve the rare milestone. Other players with 100 or more appearances include Suzie Bates (New Zealand, 111 matches), Deandra Dotting (West Indies, 110), Jenny Gunn (England, 104), Anisa Mohammed (West Indies, 102) and Ellye Perry (Australia, 102).

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019

 

یوم پاکستان ہاکی چیمپئن شپ

یوم پاکستان کے پر مسرت موقع پر پاکستان سپورٹس ایسوسئ ایشن کویت کے زیر اہتمام ھاکی چیمپئن شپ کا انعقاد 23 مارچ بروز ہفتہ شام 7 بجے کے او سی ھاکی گراونڈ احمدی میں کیا جارها ھے. جس میں تمام کمیونٹی کو شرکت کی دعوت دی جاتی ھے آپ خود بھی شرکت کریں اور اپنی فیملیز کو بھی لے کر آئیں . فیملیز کے بیٹھنے کیلئے خصوصی انتظامات هیں..
منجانب : پاکستان سپورٹس ایسوسئ ایشن کویت

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Sunday that a conspiracy to get PSL matches in Pakistan cancelled has been foiled.

Talking to media after concluding his visit to the city at Kakri Ground where he also played cricket with the workers of the Pakistan Peoples Party, he said there was a possibility that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches would not be held in Pakistan but “by the grace of God and with our sincere efforts we managed to get eight PSL matches, including the final, in the city”.

He said as the situation on the border was tense the people were casting doubts about hosting of PSL matches in Karachi. “Now the situation is quite better and matches are being played in the city,” he said. It was possible because of the spirit of people of Karachi, he added.

The chief minister said that after holding the PSL final in Karachi efforts would be made to hunt talent from every nook and corner of the province for the next PSL tournament as well as for the national team and a match would be held at Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad, next year.

Talking about development, Mr Shah said the Sindh government was short of funds, but even then the uplift and reconstruction of the city would not be stopped.

“I have visited all the schemes we have launched and all of them would be completed within four months, Insha Allah,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019

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