August 2, 2020

Shoaib Akhtar credits Asif Zardari for overturning five-year ban

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sensational fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar, also known as the Rawalpindi Express, has credited former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, for saving his career. 

In a recent television interview, Shoaib Akhtar revealed that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), then headed by Dr Nasim Ashraf, had imposed five-year ban on him which was withdrawn on the directives of Asif Zardari, whom he considered his benefactor. 

“Asif Ali Zardari had ordered the then PCB Chairman, Dr Nasim Ashraf, to either withdraw five-year playing restrictions on him or pack up,” the Rawalpindi Express disclosed. 

Regarding the fastest ball he ever had bowled, which broke the much talked about barrier of 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, Shoaib Akhtar felt that it was prompted by the pressure and expectations by the media and the general public. 

He recalled that the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, had danced all night in joy and celebration when he had bowled his team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to victory in a match of the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

“On the contrary I have bowled Pakistan to victory in a number of matches but there had never been any appreciation,” he regretted. 

Shoaib Akhtar, acclaimed as one of the most popular cricketers of Pakistan, shared that he hasn’t made up his mind yet whether to join politic as his mother was opposed to this idea. 

He didn’t mince words in stating, however, that he could win the contest on his own as an independent candidate at any given time in elections. 

He pointed out that he remained an admirer of all politicians including Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan, expressing the hope that the sitting Prime Minister (Imran Khan) manages to streer the country out of crisis.

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July 28, 2020

Cricket World Cup Super League to start on July 30

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that top seven teams from the Super League and hosts India will qualify directly for the 2023 World Cup. 

The forthcoming ODI series between England and Ireland, beginning on July 30, will officially kick-start the Cricket World Cup Super League, the game’s governing body confirmed on July 27. 

The World Cup Super League, announced first in June 2018, was introduced alongside the Test Championship to provide context to ODI cricket by acting as a qualification pathway to determine participants for the 2023 Men's World Cup in India. 

A total of 13 teams, including Netherlands who won the ICC World Cricket League 2015-17, will feature in the Super League with the top seven teams, besides hosts India, securing direct qualification to the 2023 World Cup.

Over the course of the league, each team will play four series at home and four away, with teams awarded 10 points for a win and five for no result or tie. All Super League assignments will be three-match series although teams will be free to schedule additional games, results of which will not be considered for league points. 

The five bottom sides from the league will fight for the final two spots of the 10-team showpiece event at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, where they will  be joined by Associate countries that have progressed from the Cricket World Cup League 2 as well as the two Cricket World Cup Challenge Leagues via the Qualifier Playoff. 

The World Cup Super League was originally scheduled to begin in May 2020 and run until March 2022 before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed back the start date to July 30. 

The Cricket World Cup League 2 series due to be hosted in Namibia in September and also involving Papua New Guinea and the United States has been postponed and will be rescheduled.

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July 27, 2020

High flying Jonty Rhodes is 51 summers old now!

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

It had always been a spectacle to watch Jonty Rhodes in action. His acrobatic fielding and athletic sprinting made him one of the most sought after cricketers from South Africa after their readmission in international cricket in 1991. 

Indeed time has flown, as the high-flying Rhodes tweeted on his 51st birthday on July 27, as he received congratulatory messages from his friends and well-wishers living in different parts of the planet. 

"You not only redefined fielding in cricket but set standards that are hard to match even today. Happy birthday.my dear friend,” one of his illustrious contemporaries, Sachin Tendulkar of India, posted. 

“Hard to believe another year has flown by! Seems my days of flying are not done,” Rhodes responded while thanking the Indian batting great. 

Rhodes was also showered with such fascinating messages as ‘you are the only human being to have ever been found flying on the cricket field’ and ‘you are the inventor of Fielding in modern cricket.” 

Born on July 27, 1969, Rhodes has been regarded as one of the greatest fielders of all time and he was the first South African to take 100 catches in One-day Internationals. He is also remembered fondly for his reverse sweep shot which had brought him six delightful runs.

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Lahore’s five budding wrestlers aim to win laurels

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

Five budding wrestlers of a family were working hard to bring laurels for Pakistan. Out of five, four are real brothers while fifth is their first cousin.

This quintet could be watched carrying out physical workouts and practicing wrestling techniques on daily basis at a muddy ground at a park of Lahore which has the distinction of producing a number of the country's famous wrestlers. 

These budding wrestlers are engaged in their training in the morning and evening sessions while also continuing to pay attention towards their studies in the remaining time. 

They are being trained by Farid Ali, a certified coach, and proud father of four budding wrestlers besides a nephew. 

"These boys are very enthusiastic and passionate about wrestling. The eldest one already has the distinction of winning Pakistan Under-16 Championship,” Farid Ali disclosed. 

In order to keep them physically strong and robust, these wrestlers eat the same kind of food which the local wrestlers do. They happen to take more of meat, dry and fresh fruits, nuts, milk and lassi while they avoid taking junk foods and cold drinks.

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July 26, 2020

Quetta developing half a dozen modern sports complexes

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The construction of most modern complexes with night facilities is reported to be in full swing Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. 

The Chief Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal, has recently inspected the site of under consideration six sports complexes. 

During the inspection visit, he sought details regarding progress on development work and checked the quality of materials being used in construction work. 

The huge sports complex, when completed, will have provision of all facilities of major sports including a huge gymnasium, all indoor games including squash, walking track, cricket nets, park and space to add more sports facilities in future.

"Every society needs such facilities for a healthy life,” Chief Minister Jam Kamal wrote in his twitter message.

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July 24, 2020

Sarfraz Ahmed deserves to be in Pakistan team

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By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Isn’t it a pity that Pakistan’s cricket team, currently undertaking a tour of England, doesn’t contain the man who had led them to their greatest glory of recent times just three summers ago?

Yes you got it right. Indeed I am talking about Sarfraz Ahmed, the dashing wicketkeeper-batsman, who had proved himself a very able captain in all three formats.

The conspirators succeeded in getting him axed from captaincy as well as got him omitted from the team. It was a politically motivated move to sack him after being whitewashed at the hands of Sri Lanka in a home series.

Sarfraz’s exit from the scene was not unexpected, if one happened to know behind the scene affairs that had been going on for quite some time.

It was politicking of the highest order which finally resulted in his ouster. Don’t forget that Sarfraz had kept Pakistan as the top ranked team in T20 Internationals for more than two years and yet he was robbed of the T20 captaincy.

He had led Pakistan to come from behind title victory against all odds in the 2017 Champions Trophy in England. Yet his head was chopped for ODI format as well. He was not spared from the Test side either.

It’s an open secret that Misbah-ul-Haq and Waqar Younis have had their issues with Sarfraz for a long time, more on non-cricketing basis.

Together they had attempted to victimize during the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but Sarfraz had silenced the captain and the coach, besides his other critics, with terrific performance.

Sarfraz was made the captain of the Pakistan team on merit and he flourished in the role at the strength of his monumental efforts.

There were lobbies at work to derail him but he was strong enough mentally and emotionally to overcome the in-house challenges as judiciously as those thrown at him by the opponents in the field.

He continued fighting and didn’t let the additional pressures get the better of him. Occasionally he did falter, like most of his teammates, but he always led from the front and played in the interest of the team.

It was really a sad day for Pakistan cricket when he was shown the door on the basis of just one ordinary series, in which he personally had tried his level best to prevent the outcome. It was a wicked move by the forces having compromised on the national interest to satisfy their personal egos.
Sarfraz is still young and raring to go again. He can easily walk into the Pakistan side in all three formats at the strength of his skills and experience.

Muhammad Rizwan, no doubt, is an emerging wicketkeeper-batsman having shown the promise but Sarfraz stands taller in pedigree and he could prove an asset for the team in the trying English conditions.

The Pakistan think-tank will be better advised to make decisions in the larger national interest rather than at the whims of the people with vested interests. Sarfraz is due for a comeback. The sooner it’s done, better it will be for the cause of Pakistan cricket.

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July 15, 2020

Countdown device for Olympic Winter Games 2022 installed

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The countdown device has been installed for the Olympic Winter Games 2022, scheduled to be held in the Chinese city of Beijing. 

Han Zirong, Vice President and Secretary General of Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee, and Wang Bingyu, China's most popular curling star and former world champion, unveiled the countdown device on July 13. 

The device has been installed in a building of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Shougang's old industrial park in Beijing, capital of China.

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July 6, 2020

Star-studded CPL set to explode into action on August 18

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By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

All the six Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) franchises have selected their teams for the 2020 tournament which is scheduled to take place from August 18 to September 10. 

The draft was carried out remotely and the six teams have successfully filled out their rosters with both Caribbean and overseas players with Rashid Khan, Marcus Stoinis, Ross Taylor, Pravin Tambe and Carlos Brathwaite all being signed up. 

Launched in 2013, the CPL has become one of the leading franchise-based T20 tournaments of the world. It’s known for combining two of the most compelling aspects of Caribbean life, dramatic games and a vibrant carnival atmosphere. 

There was a combined broadcast and digital viewership of 312 million during the 2019 season to make it one of the fastest growing leagues in world cricket. In 2019 the tournament made a positive economic impact across the Caribbean of US$ 136 million. 

Barbados Tridents happen to be the current champions with Trinbago Knight Riders, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots, St. Lucia Zouks and Jamaica Tallawahs being the other participants. 

Meanwhile the defending champions have signed the highly gifted Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, explosive English opener Alex Hales and versatile Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. Their other overseas players are Englishman Harry Gurney and Afghani Rahmanullah Gurbaz. They have retained the core of their championship winning side from last year and they have signed Kyle Mayers to join a strong set of Caribbean players. 

Trinbago Knight Riders have signed Pravin Tambe, a spinner, who will become the first Indian to play at the CPL. They have also brought back Australian leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed who was part of their Championship winning team in 2018. They have signed New Zealand wicket keeper Tim Seifert and Zimbabwean batsman Sikandar Raza. The Knight Riders have retained the core of their local players for the 2020 season. 

The Guyana Amazon Warriors have retained 13 players from the team that went unbeaten during the league stage of last year’s tournament and have added New Zealander Ross Taylor and Afghani Naveen-ul-Haq. Imran Tahir, Chris Green, Brandon King, Shimron Hetmyer, Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford all return to the Amazon Warriors for 2020. 

The St Kitts & Nevis Patriots have signed Australians Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk and have also recruited Ish Sodhi of New Zealand and Sohail Tanvir of Pakistam. Rassie van der Dussen returns to the Patriots after a successful spell with the team in 2018 and they welcome back Fabian Allen, Evin Lewis, Sheldon Cottrell and their captain Rayad Emrit. 

The Jamaica Tallawahs are looking to rebuild after a poor season in 2019 which saw them finish in last place in the table. They have recruited Carlos Brathwaite who was released by the Patriots. They have also signed Nepalese leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane and South African left arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. They have brought in exciting Pakistani batsman Asif Ali and retained their leading run scorer from last season, Glenn Phillips. These overseas players will combine with a strong local contingent that includes Andre Russell, Rovman Powell and Oshane Thomas.

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