April 29, 2010

Will Pakistan, India erase bitter memories of Caribbean?


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Well there certainly is an opportunity for both the sub-continental giants, Pakistan and India, to erase the bitter memories of the 2007 World Cup staged in the Caribbean where they were knocked out in the first round much to the shock and disappointment of the large number of their supporters back home.

It was a nightmare for both these traditional rivals over there three years ago. Pakistan had to bite the dust after losing to one of the minnows, Ireland, while India had ruined their chances after being floored at the hands of not too fancied Bangladesh.

While the cricket enthusiasts in both the countries were heart-broken following the debacle in the West Indies in the first quarter of 2007 but the turnaround had come only a few months later in the inaugural World Twenty20 staged in South Africa.

Quite remarkably both these outfits managed to force their way into the final of the competition and India clinched the title after edging out Pakistan in the closest of encounters. In fact it was down to the last stroke of the game.

Had Misbah-ul-Haq, who had brought Pakistan back in the contest from nowhere, timed his last stroke properly the trophy would have been lifted by Shoaib Malik, not Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Cricket came alive in both the countries with the unexpected conquest in the shortest version of the game. Soon it became apparent that Pakistan and India would continue dominating the Twenty20 format because of the enormous talent and passion.

Pakistan lived upto the billing in the second edition of the World Twenty20 held in England last year but defending champions India, not surprisingly to say the least, flopped miserably.

As a matter of fact Pakistan exceeded expectations by annexing the title after an uncertain start. Captained by Younis Khan, the team fared well in the later stages to emerge triumphant. It was after 17 years when Pakistan had been crowned as the world champions.

It’s World Twenty20 time again and Pakistan have a new captain in Shahid Afridi as they prepare to defend the title in the Caribbean.

India have the same skipper, Dhoni, who has had mixed luck in World Twenty20 so far and he cannot be expected to take things for granted.

The experts have reckoned that Pakistan and India are the joint favourites to win the trophy in the Caribbean but the unpredictable nature of both the teams will keep their followers on the toes all along once more.

Pakistan may be short of experience but you can never write them off. They have had this reputation of coming good against the heaviest of odds just as they are notorious for throwing it away from position of strength.

India have also been known for their unpredictability but they are more proficient in giving it away against the run of play rather than turning around when cornered. They were among the front-runners to clinch the title in 2007 World Cup where they could not even make it to the Super Eights.

The possibility of another Indo-Pak final could not be ruled out. But it would not come as surprise either if they are unable to progress that far.

readmore »»

April 27, 2010

Chirayu Amin replaces Lalit Modi as IPL chief


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The Governing Council of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has appointed Chirayu Amin, vice-president, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), as the interim chairman of the league following the suspension of its commissioner Lalit Modi.

Modi, also a vice-president of the BCCI, was suspended on April 26, only hours after the conclusion of the IPL final in Mumbai.

Modi, facing 22 charges ranging from financial irregularities to rigging bids proxy holdings and kickbacks in broadcast deal, was not present in the meeting chaired by BCCI President Shashank Manohar at the Cricket Centre in Wankhede Stadium.

The meeting, lasting close to one and a half hour, was attended by 13 members of the Governing Council of the IPL who unanimously appointed Amin as the interim chairman of the league.

Besides being the vice-president of the BCCI, Amin is the head of Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) and also a member of IPL Governing Council whose other members are Punjab Cricket Association chief Inderjit Singh Bindra, BCCI treasurer M.P. Pandove, vice presidents Amin, Rajeev Shukla, Arjun Jaitley, board secretary N. Srinivasan, joint secretary Sanjay Jagdale, Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association chief Farooq Abdullah, IPL vice-chairman Niranjan Shah and former Indian captains Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi.

"My priority is to clean the game and plan for next year's IPL. We have showcaused Modi and will wait for his reply," Amin remarked in his brief statement after taking over the leadership of the IPL.
The high-flying Modi, however, came in for a scathing attack from the BCCI President during the press conference after the meeting.

Manohar said that Modi would be charged on five counts - shady initial bids of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, a suspect broadcast deal with Sony, bid rigging of two new franchises this year and his behavioural pattern.

"The charge sheet was discussed and the Committee also appointed Chirayu Amin as the interim chairman. BCCI CAO Ratnakar Shetty will look into all the records," Manohar announced.

"Many documents are missing from the IPL and BCCI offices. Income Tax department has been asking for them but we don't have them. Like the papers of the broadcast deal with Sony are not with us. IT department is asking for these documents but we can't give them because they are not with us," the BCCI chief disclosed.

"With regards to the 2011 IPL, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and M A K Pataudi will decide the modalities of holding three foreign and four Indian players after discussing with the franchises," he added.

Meanwhile the suspended IPL chairman and commissioner, Modi, claimed that he was still the chief, and by tweeting "we have just begun" hinted at a long drawn battle ahead.

He didn't sound perturbed by the charges levelled against him. "Had a restful day. Been in the spa all day. Much needed rest," he wrote.

There are indications that Modi can go in for an appeal to the BCCI to lift his suspension and there is also an intense speculation that he might take legal recourse to challenge the way he was removed.

readmore »»

April 26, 2010

Dhoni outsmarts Tendulkar in scintillating final


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

It was the brilliant captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni that proved decisive in the final of the third edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL-3) and earned Chennai Super Kings the title for the first time.

Dhoni, who has been leading successfully for the past few years, proved himself a better tactician than Sachin Tendulkar captaining Mumbai Indians, who were the favourites to run away with the crown after awesome performance in the league matches.

As we have seen numerous times in an otherwise illustrious career of Tendulkar, over two decades now, he was found wanting in the battle that mattered the most once more. He was unable to play the kind of dominating knock that was so badly needed by his side in the final.

For a change, however, Tendulkar didn’t fail completely as we had witnessed him in doing in other finals or crunch matches. He occupied the crease for considerable length of time to keep the contest alive but at no point did he threaten to take it away single-handedly in the manner he’s capable of.

Dhoni, on the other hand, lived to the reputation of being the Captain Cool. He didn’t panic while defending not too big totals, displaying complete faith in his bowlers. His bowling changes and field placing reflected of the man being in total control of the situation.

He didn’t contribute far too many runs in the final but his leadership skills were instrumental in guiding Chennai to 22-run victory over Mumbai in what truly turned out to be an exciting final.

Although Dhoni’s men held the upper hand in the later stages of the Mumbai innings the magnificent hitting by Kieron Pollard in the 18th over had opened up the game only to be sealed in the very next over by Albie Morkel.

The West Indian Pollard, having played some belligerent knocks earlier in the competition, stunned everyone by blasting Australia’s premier fast bowler Doug Bollinger for 22 runs in the 18th over of the innings.

A couple of huge sixes and as many fours brought Mumbai right back into the business and all eyes were on Dhoni about his next move after the massacre of his trump card Bollinger.

He had the option of using left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, who had taken two wickets in his last over including that of Tendulkar but the Indian skipper turned to the fast-medium stuff of Morkel, who possessed far greater experience of bowling in these conditions than Jakati.

It turned out to be the move of the evening. Morkel was right on money in the penultimate over of the innings and even Pollard could not get him away. Dhoni was credited to have posted Mathew Hayden at mid-off where the tall West Indian was caught to end hope of a Mumbai victory.

Tendulkar’s decision to bat Pollard low down in the order didn’t work and took many people by surprise. But one factor that could have prompted holding him back was to shield him from the quality spinners on a track where the ball was not coming to the bat.

It was a day to remember for Suresh Raina who blasted 57 off 35 balls to help Chennai post a competitive total. Then he took a brilliant catch besides capturing the wicket of ‘pinch-hitter’ Harbhajan Singh.

readmore »»

April 25, 2010

Pakistan captain’s over-confidence could ruin hopes


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Shahid Afridi has tried to be diplomatic while speaking to the media ‘officially’ but his body language has been quite different in off-the-record sessions. Sometimes he has been found very arrogant and occasionally he passes the impression of disowning the squad for the ICC World Twenty20 2010 having been selected before his appointment as captain.

Shahid probably wants to have the cake and eat it too. He aims to kill two birds by firing just one shot. No questions would be asked obviously if the team returns triumphant from the Caribbean and he will quite proudly claim the credit for victory. And if the team gets jolted he might simply say the combination given to him was not to his liking.

“Our team is geared up to tactically and technically live up to the expectations of the nations to accomplish the task in the West Indies,” he told APP Correspondent Ehsan Qureshi in an interview in Karachi prior to his departure to Lahore on his way to St.Lucia on April 24.

“Without the prayers of the nation and supporters across the world, Pakistan team can not achieve anything. Besides playing patriotically for Pakistan we needed support of countrymen and media,” he added.

“My appeal to the national media would be healthy in criticism but should keep the interest of Pakistan above all. My mission as a captain and with the support of players and team management to keep the team away from any controversy,” he pointed out.

“I like to lead the team from the front because of my style and I always believe in an aggressive approach which had his stigma throughout his career. We are fully equipped to face the challenges in West Indies. He got well balanced team in batting and bowling and we have to further lift the standard of fielding,” the Pakistan captain remarked.

“Fielding is crucial area in this fastest version of the game and a lot of hard work was done to raise the standard. We are ready give our best and rest with Almighty,” he stressed.

Shahid dispelled the impression that Pakistan may face trouble in batting department. “It’s altogether different in T20 cricket. We got a lot of firepower in our batting. We are initially planning to start the innings with Muhammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal. We have experienced Misbahul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Akmal, Khalid Latif and Salman Butt,” he said.

He expected spinning tracks in the West Indies and considered Pakistan’s bowling attack potent enough to come good on all kind of surfaces.

“Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez would be the off-spinners to complement my leg-spin. We have adequate resources in the fast bowling department as well with the likes of Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif and Abdul Razzaq,” the Pakistan captain believed.

“T20 is very tough and demanding cricket and we can afford to take any team lightly. We even can not take Bangladesh lightly as they possess a number talented cricketer in their line-up,” he concluded.

readmore »»

April 24, 2010

Karachi set to host 13th Sindh Games 2010 in June


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The city of Karachi will be hosting the Sindh Games for the third time in 24 years as the 13th edition of the premier provincial event will be staged here during in the first week of June.

The Government of Sindh, with the collaboration of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), has announced to organize the 13th Sindh Games 2010 in Karachi from June 1 to 5. Karachi had earlier hosted the Sindh Games in 1989 and 1999.

Dr Muhammad Ali Shah, Sindh Sports Minister, and Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs to the Government of Sindh, have pledged to hold the event at different venues of Karachi in a befitting manner.

As in the past, he said, all the five regions of the province, Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Sukkur and Larkana would be taking part in the 13th Sindh Games.

“This is a special year during which the Commonwealth Games as well as Asian Games are scheduled to be held. The Sindh Games will have added significance in order to provide an opportunity to our athletes to prepare for these international events,” Shoaib Siddiqui, who is also the Secretary of the Sindh Sports Board (SSB), remarked in a recent interview.

“Athletics, basketball, boxing, badminton, bodybuilding, cycling, football, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, karate, netball, swimming, softball, squash, table tennis, taeknowndo, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu would be part of the 13th Sindh Games,” he revealed.

“The tournaments in the indigenous games like kodi kodi, malkhara, wanjh watti, shootingball will also be held while the proposal of having the Twenty20 cricket making an entry in the Sindh Games was under consideration,” he added.

The Sindh Games, it may be recalled, was launched by the SOA in 1986 with the inaugural event staged at Larkana. The 2nd Sindh Games was held at Mirpurkhas in 1987 followed by one in Karachi in 1989.

The infighting and the subsequent litigation kept the provincial Olympic body dormant for a number of years, prompting the SSB to revive the Sindh Games in 1991 at Hyderabad. The fifth, sixth and seventh editions were also organized by the SSB at Sukkur (1993), Larkana (1995) and Mirpurkhas (1996).

The SOA dispute was resolved in 1996 but they have had to seek the financial assistance from the provincial government for holding the Sindh Games all along. Its eighth and ninth editions were staged at Karachi (1999) and Hyderabad (2000) before yet another long break.

The Sindh Games was revived in 2006 with Hyderabad hosting it for the second successive time. The 11th edition was held at Sukkur in 2008 with Larkana having played host to the 12th Sindh Games last May.

Dr Mohammad Ali Shah and Shoaib Siddiqui are credited to have organized the last Sindh Games against the heaviest of odds in Larkana. The weather was not particularly friendly to a sporting event during the month of May but the Sindh Sports Minister as well as the Sindh Sports Secretary remained convinced that the athletes would benefit a great deal by competing in rough and tough conditions.

Their fierce determination silenced the critics and the Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, had publicly recognized the grit of the provincial sports functionaries for having blessed Larkana with a magnificent event

readmore »»

April 23, 2010

Modi to go down fighting


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The high-profile IPL Chairman and Commissioner, Lalit Kumar Modi, is not going down without a fight. He is believed to be set for moving to the Bombay High Court on April 23 to question the legality of the IPL Governing Council meeting on April 26.

Modi has contended that as IPL Chairman only he was entitled convene a meeting of the Governing Council. This came after the BCCI President, Shashank Manohar, had accused Modi of breaching confidentiality.

"Modi violated the confidentiality clause by putting out share holding details on Twitter," the BCCI President was quoted as saying when Modi had tweeted about Union Minister Shashi Tharoor's friend Sunanda Pushkar's sweat equity in the IPL Kochi team.

Sharad Pawar, the Vice-president of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had made the announcement following a meeting with BCCI President that the governing council of the IPL would meet on April 26 to discuss the future of the competition's commissioner, Modi, at the centre of allegations regarding financial irregularities.

"Manohar met me today and he briefed me about the situation. The IPL governing council will take a unanimous decision on Modi's resignation and, thereafter, we will take the required action,” Pawar, who appointed Modi during his time as President of the BCCI, stated.

"The governing council will take the decision in the interest of cricket. Don't forget Mr Modi is also a vice-president of the BCCI and our total approach and past experience is we always take collective and unanimous decisions that everyone is party to, including Lalit Modi," Pawar added.

Modi has come under scrutiny after the IPL's affairs became the subject of a government inquiry amid parliamentary allegations of money-laundering.

The IPL offices were raided by tax officials investigating the allegations. They reportedly spent seven hours questioning IPL staff, including Modi, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Modi had revealed on his Twitter account that the girlfriend of Shashi Tharoor, a junior government minister, had invested in a consortium awarded the new IPL franchise in Kochi. The revelation caused a political storm, and forced Tharoor's resignation.

Modi has issued a statement denying newspaper allegations that he has been charged with betting and laundering. He called the reports "absolutely baseless, ill-founded and motivated" and promised to "initiate appropriate legal action against" a "defamatory and malicious campaign against him by a motivated section of media".

The Income Tax department has been scanning the IPL bid papers and a series of allegations of financial irregularities against Modi with the prospects of a detailed inquiry against him to track the irregularities.

A probe has already been set out with the department examining the data on bids and financial details of various franchisees stored in Modi's office computers. With the ongoing probe not only the IPL financial records would come under scrutiny but also the tax details of BCCI with regard to IPL will come under the scanner.

Modi, credited to have masterminded the launch of the IPL, has also been accused of going overboard in taking many crucial decisions for which he could face the music.

readmore »»

April 21, 2010

Sehwag out of World Twenty20 once more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Easily the most destructive batsman in every format of the game, Virender Sehwag will be missing the Twenty20 World Cup for the second year running. According to the reports the explosive Indian opener has suffered a shoulder injury, which has ruled him out of the ICC World Twenty20 beginning in the West Indies on April 30.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), preoccupied of late with the crisis in the Indian Premier League (IPL), has announced that Sehwag has been advised rest for three to four weeks and has been replaced by Tamil Nadu batsman Murali Vijay in the 15-man squad with Gautam Gambhir being made the vice-captain.

There was no mention, however, in the BCCI statement about the details of the latest injury sustained by Sehwag having played all 14 IPL-3 league matches for Delhi Daredevils.

Sehwag wasn’t at his best in the IPL-3 having scored only 356 runs at an average of 25. His last appearance in the IPL was on April 18 as his team failed to make it to the semifinals. Since he was deemed fit when included in the World Twenty20 squad the injury must have occurred during the course of the IPL-3.

Sehwag was unable to play for India in the ICC World Twenty20 last year because he had sustained a shoulder injury during the IPL-2 in South Africa, shortly before the World Twenty20 was due to begin.

He had accompanied the national the squad to England but was not able to play a game. His absence was not felt in the first round where India, the defending champions, thrashed their rivals convincingly but he was missed in the second round where India lost all three matches to get themselves were eliminated.

Murali Vijay, who has been in spectacular form in the IPL-3, has been chosen as Sehwag’s replacement for the upcoming event but the hugely talented youngster, who has also been India's back-up opener for Tests as well as ODIs in the recent past, could find it very hard to smash the bowlers at the international level.

There’s a feeling that Robin Uthappa, who played for India in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, would have been a better choice than Vijay. But then Uthappa has been playing in the middle-order for the Royal Challengers Bangalore that might have prompted the selectors to go for a specialist opener in Vijay.

It doesn’t really matter if Vijay plays or Uthappa was included in his place because India would always be missing Sehwag because he possesses the ability to win the match on his own.

With Sachin Tendulkar unwilling to represent the country in the Twenty20 games India could well be short of experience once more and they might face the prospects of returning empty handed once more from the Caribbean.

Although the slow and low pitches in the West Indies are understood to be to the liking of the Indians but they might never be able forget the nightmare of the 2007 World Cup when they had failed to qualify for the second round.

readmore »»

April 20, 2010

Umar Gul, Yasir Arafat ruled out due to injury


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Yes, Umar Gul, an experienced fast bowler, has been ruled out of the of the ICC World Twenty20 due to start in the West Indies later this month due to an injury like all-rounder Yasir Arafat.

The clarification is very much needed here because of the ongoing chaos and mess the Pakistan cricket is in at the moment. Quite a few celebrated performers didn’t make the squad because of ineligibility.

Umar and Yasir were very much eligible for selection and both of them featured in the Pakistan squad for what has also been acclaimed as the Twenty20 World Cup.

Umar had sustained a shoulder injury during a practice session at Lahore’s National Cricket Academy while Yasir was struggling to get out of his calf injury. Neither them could not clear the fitness test conducted at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on April 18.

Their absence has been described as a big blow to defending champions Pakistan, who have replaced the injured duo of fast bowlers Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Irfan.

"In mutual agreement with captain and coach, we have decided that we will not take a chance with half-fit players,” chief selector Mohsin Khan was quoted as saying.

"We recommended the names of fast bowlers Mohammad Sami and uncapped Mohammad Irfan as replacements for the injured players. We have picked Sami from the list of five reserves we had kept for the World Cup," he added.

"Umar Gul would be missed in the Twenty20 World Cup and this is disappointing that he is not the part of the team," Mohsin remarked.

Umar was hopeful of recovering in time but coach Waqar Younis and chief selector Mohsin Khan insisted that no player will be part of the squad unless fully fit.

The lion-hearted had come up in sterling performance in the last two editions of T20 World Cup and was the leading wicket-takers for Pakistan on both occasions. In fact he has taken the highest number of wickets in Twenty20 Internationals, having scalped no less than 43 batsmen in 26 matches.

He also recorded the best Twenty20 bowling figures when he took five wickets for six runs against New Zealand in the second World Twenty20, which Pakistan won in England last year.

The Pakistan skipper, Shahid Afridi, also expressed his disappointment at Umar’s absence but hoped that the team will cope with the situation.

“Umar is our best bowler, but we have to cope with it and now Sami has to replace him and perform,” he observed.

Sami, who clocked 90 miles an hour, has played 34 Tests and 83 One-day matches for Pakistan but he has yet to play a Twenty20 International. Irfan is a lanky left-arm quickie, who has not represented the country as the international level yet.

Pakistan have been placed in Group A of the ICC Twenty20 and they will play their first match against Bangladesh on May 1 in St Lucia before taking on Australia the next day at the same venue. The tournament starts on April 30 and ends on May 16

readmore »»

April 19, 2010

Minister resigns following IPL controversy


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs, has been reported to have resigned from the Union cabinet on April 18, after days of relentless controversy over his alleged involvement in the bidding for an IPL team.

According to the reports from the Indian capital, New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has forwarded Tharoor's resignation letter to the President with the recommendation that it be accepted.

"It’s a voluntary resignation. I don't want to embarrass the party. I want parliament proceedings to go on, hence I have decided to resign," Tharoor is believed to have written in his letter.

Tharoor's association with the Kochi IPL and the bidding process for the team had come under fire leading to the issue becoming a major controversy and claiming the seat of the minister.

The 54-year-old Tharoor, a writer and a former Under Secretary General at the United Nations, tendered his resignation after the Congress core group, comprising the top leaders of the party, sought it.

He also had an audience with the Prime Minister during which is he is understood to have explained his position. He had met Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony separately in a bid to convince them about his innocence.

Tharoor was accused of helping his friend, businesswoman Sunanda Pushkar, in acquiring a stake in the Kochi IPL team. Pushkar, who has a sweat equity valued at Rs 70 crore in the IPL Kochi franchise, announced earlier in the day that she had resigned from Rendezvous Sports World, which is one of the stakeholders in IPL Kochi.

"Given the deeply unpleasant publicity surrounding my involvement, I can no longer find the enthusiasm required to associate myself with any IPL activity in the future. I therefore voluntarily offer to return to Rendezous the sweat equity they offered me. I do not wish to ask for compensation for my services rendered to them," Pushkar said in a statement.

Pushkar also denied having acted as a proxy for Tharoor and said that the Rendezvous Group had given her equity as payment for her marketing expertise and her help in putting the bid together.
Tharoor, a first time MP from Thiruvananthapuram, got into controversy after IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi revealed that Pushkar had equity stakes in Rendezvous Sports World (RSW), which heads the consortium that owns the Kochi team.

The controversy over the ownership of the Kochi franchise became public after IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi revealed the composition of its stake holders on his Twitter account.

The role of the high-profile Modi behind the deals in the IPL has also been questioned but he appears to be having total support of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at present.

The BCCI high-command seems to be right behind Modi at the moment but there’s pressure mounting for transparency and accountability. The IPL Commissioner has been calling the shots all along and it remains to be seen if he will survive the ongoing Kochi controversy.

readmore »»

April 17, 2010

Tendulkar to miss out in World T20 even in purple patch


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Pakistan's captain for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 to be held in the Caribbean, Shahid Afridi, has reckoned that Sachin Tendulkar's absence from the Indian team for the tournament will be a blessing in disguise for the other sides.

Tendulkar had voluntarily ruled himself out of international Twenty20 matches in 2007, before the inaugural World Twenty20, in order to preserve himself for the longer formats. But there have also been indications that the grand master distanced himself from the shortest version of the game at the international level to let Mahendra Singh Dhoni lead the side without the pressures of having ‘veterans’ under his command.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between and there’s every likelihood that a combination of factors influenced his decision.

His success with the bat in the ongoing IPL-3 leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind about him being more than suitable for every format of the game. He has been leading Mumbai Indians by example and in the manner in which he has scored runs of late makes everyone feel that he’s the man in form.

He was not a part of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 held in 2007 in South Africa which India won under Dhoni. Neither was he a member of the side that was humiliated in the second edition of the tournament in England last year.

In other words Tendulkar has not been in the scheme of things as far as India’s T20 plans are concerned. The Indian selectors and their team management, for reasons best known to them, have not made much effort in persuading him to play T20 Internationals either.

The Indian think-tank appears convinced that they won’t be needing Tendulkar for T20 and in such circumstances the iconic batsman, having all conceivable batting records under this belt, could not be expected to plead to anyone. He has chosen the right course letting his bat make the statement all the time.

Tendulkar has been in the middle of yet another purple patch and there were suggestions that he might be reconsidering his decision but, like a wise man, he has ruled out such a possibility.

"The way he has blossomed in the last few years, he is only getting better and better as a batsman. If he is not playing for India in the Twenty20 World Cup, it is certainly a big advantage for other teams.If Tendulkar had played in this World Cup, I am sure he would made big impact for India," the Pakistan captain felt.

“Age has not had any effect on Tendulkar's powers. With every match he seems to be growing as a batsman and getting better. He is playing like a teenager. There is no sign of age affecting his game at all," Shahid added.

"The biggest thing that he still enjoys playing the sport and he is hunger for runs has not died at all," he said. I think even in Twenty20 cricket you need to bat properly and at times even playing out 20 overs is a big challenge for a team. You need to play orthodox cricket," he pointed out.

readmore »»

April 14, 2010

Shoaib Malik weds Sania Mirza finally


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Pakistan’s former cricket captain Shoaib Malik finally tied the knot with Indian tennis star Sania Mirza married on April 12 in the latter’s hometown of Hyderabad, the capital of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Both of them are now expected to be based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid reports that they would continue to represent their countries in their respective sports.

The marriage between two of the leading sports personalities has been covered widely by the media and even the reputed British newspapers like The Guardian, The Independent and the Evening Standard have reported the event in-depth.

There were huge controversies before the marriage and yet another one has rocked them right away.

It has been reported that Shoaib has paid Indian Rupees 6,100,000 as mehr which is the gift given by the groom to his bride at the time of marriage, a prerequisite for a Muslim marriage. The gift can be given in the form of cash or gold or other form of wealth and is aimed at giving a financial security to the wife in the case of divorce or death of the man.

According to the reports it’s not the huge sum of money that has been questioned but it’s actually the massive difference between the one he paid to his earlier wife has caused some concerns.

The fact has been brought to light that Shoaib had paid a meagre Rs 500 mehr to Ayesha Siddiqui, whom he divorced recently, while Sania Mirza got a grand price.

Shaoib was reported to have married Ayesha in 2002 over a telephonic nikah but later claimed that she was not the girl he fell in love with as the photographs sent to him online were that of another girl.

The prolific Pakistan all-rounder, however, finally confessed having married Ayesha and divorced her just a few days before his marriage. He is believed to have agreed to pay Indian Rupees 15,000 rupees as maintenance to Ayesha for a span of three months, which broke down to 5,000 rupees per month.

His marriage plans with Sania had been jeopardized when Ayesha, another Indian woman, had lodged a complaint, claiming that Shoaib married her in June 2002 and accused him of subjecting her to cruelty and harassment by denying that the wedding took place and by trying to marry another woman.

Ayesha’s family, however, withdrew the police complaint after some elders brokered a divorce between the pair and cleared the way for the wedding with Sania.

The much talked about marriage between Shoaib and Sania has taken place finally and their future life will be watched with interest as well.

It remains to be seen in particular how Sania would be able to extend her career as a tennis star. She has been acclaimed as the queen of Indian tennis for quite sometime. Will she manage to regain her fitness and continue representing India in future is a question in everyone’s mind?

readmore »»

April 13, 2010

Waheed Baloch shines in Dreamworld golf tourney


By Syed Khalid Mahmood
Waheed Baloch of the Karachi Golf Club (KGC) fired spectacular rounds of 63 and 65 and with total 128 to win the Pros event of the Sindh Golf Association (SGA) Promotional Golf Tournament staged at the Dreamworld Resort & Golf Club near the Northern Bypass in Karachi.

The vastly experienced Waheed produced brilliant accuracy and putting at the greens and fairways of Dreamworld Golf Club. Waheed's KGC colleague, Javed Inayat clinched the runner-up spot 10 strokes behind with rounds of 71 and 67 to end with an aggregate of 138. Amjad Yousuf was third with total of 140 among the pack of 38 golfers.

In fact, the golfers of the KGC dominated all the three events, Pros, Senior Pros and Caddies, spread over three days.

Following the top trio of Waheed Baloch, Javed Inayat and Amjad Yousuf were Ahmed Saeed, Afsar Ali and Noor Bakhsh, also from KGC. Mohammad Arif and Misal Khan of DHA ended seventh and eighth respectively.

Khair Mohammad and Abdul Rasheed, both of them from KGC, finished joint first in the senior pros with 80 points each while Qamar Ahmed of DHA and Abdul Sattar of KGC shared the third position with 81 points each.

Mohammad Shahzad of KGC won the caddies event with 64 points while Mohsin Ali and Amjad Khan, also from KGC, finished second and third respectively.

The three-day tournament, the first one to be held under the auspices of the SGA at the Dreamworld Golf Club, proved to be a success story. The participating Pros, Senior Pros and Caddies appreciated the hospitality provided by the hosts who even didn’t charge any tournament fee.

The hosts recognized the role of the Executive Committee SGA in promoting the sport with special mention being made of their President, Aslam R Khan, and Secretary, Ahmed Abdul Bari.

Speaking at the prize distribution ceremony, chief guest Ashraf Khan Ghori highlighted the efforts of SGA in promoting the game of golf in Sindh. He highlighted the fact that Sindh has recently won the National Amateur Championship after a span of 40 years. He praised the management of Dreamworld Golf Course for holding a successful tournament.

The participants also enjoyed the experience of driving to the Dreamworld Resort & Golf Club, located on the outskirts of Karachi in the vicinity of the Northern Bypass.

It’s interesting to note that while the Dreamworld Cue Sports Championships have already completed a decade, golf has just got off to a flying start and there’s every possibility of the event becoming a regular feature in the SGA calendar.

The Dreamworld Cue Sports Championships have been attracting good crowds since inception and it remains one of the showpiece tournaments being held at the resort. With the golf facilities of the highest class on offer it has become quite an attraction for the members as well as the non-members of the club. We can expect to witness quite a few golf tournaments in future at this picturesque venue.

readmore »»

April 12, 2010

Tendulkar stands tall once more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

In yet another classic exhibition of controlling the game single handedly, skipper Sachin Tendulkar came out trumps while leading Mumbai Indians to an emphatic 37-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in their return match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on April 11.

Mumbai Indians became the first team to confirm a place in the semifinals of the IPL-3 with three league matches still in hand. While the other seven contestants would be battling it out grimly in the coming days for the remaining three positions Mumbai would be looking forward to topping the points table without the pressure of qualification.

Tendulkar extended his brilliant form in the season with another magnificent knock that saved Mumbai’s blushes initially. The chips were down for his side when they lost three early wickets and Shane Warne applied pressure for making greater inroads.

Australia’s frontline all-rounder of late, Shane Watson, put Mumbai in disarray by scalping that man Sanath Jayasuriya in his first over and followed up by removing the local duo of Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary.

It was Tendulkar who stood firm in the typical style of his and steered the team out of trouble by building two big partnerships, one with South Africa JP Duminy and the one with the West Indian Kieron Pollard.

Left-handed Duminy proved a perfect foil for Tendulkar in the rebuilding phase as they were engaged in risk free game concentrating more on well judged singles to rotate the strike when the field was spread after the Powerplay.

Tendulkar was well set to take on the champion leg-spinner Warne clobbering him for three fours in one over. The much awaited battle between the two greats, as usual, excited the crowd and it was the Indian Grand Master who dominated the wily Australian with a touch of class.

Warne, acclaimed as the greatest spin bowler of all time, was not afraid to flight the ball and Tendulkar was up to the task in heaving him inside-out through extra cover. Warne made the adjustment by dropping one short but Tendulkar was alert enough to make room to cut him through point for yet another boundary.

That has been the beauty of Tendulkar's game all along over the past couple of decades. He would rely on cricketing strokes even in the death overs instead of hitting wildly or attempting to slog. Once again he picked out his spots in the field and runs came thick and fast when he cut loose. He finished it off by smashing two successive sixes off Siddharth Trivedi in the final over yielding no less than 20 runs.

Rajasthan Royals were always expected to be up against it while chasing a target of 175 against a bowling attack having Zaheer Khan, Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh. The only man who could have turned the tables was Yusuf Pathan who had blasted the quickest century of the competition against them earlier but this time he was undone by the medium pace of Pollard and that was the end of the story.

"We needed a solid performance, and I thought 170-plus was a competitive total on this track. The target was to stay there till the end, because we had lost lot of wickets early on. So that added some responsibility on me and JP. I knew it was a matter of a couple of big overs, and they had to come at some stage,” Tendulkar said after the game.

"Full marks to the way our fast bowlers bowled up front. Zaheer, especially; his first spell was terrific. The fielding was very sharp and overall good. There were some very important run-outs and catches; when all these things gel together, it's obviously a special performance,” he added.

readmore »»

April 11, 2010

Dravid’s night at Bangalore


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Royal Challengers Bangalore, inspired by brilliant half centuries from Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa, recorded an impressive seven-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in yet another crucial match of the Indian Premier League 2010 also known as IPL-3 at M Chinnaswamy Stadium on April 10.

The big crowd was entertained to some fabulous cricket and the outstanding performance of the local heroes was an icing on the cake for the thousands of fans who couldn’t have expected more weekend fun.

Bangalore were also indebted to their bowlers for having limited their opponents to 160 in 20 overs that allowed their champion batsmen to go about the chase in an unhurriedly manner. The victory lifted them to the second place in the points while Kolkata were left struggling among the last three.

Anil Kumble’s gamble of fielding first after winning the toss paid off and the master craftsman had the reasons to feel delighted with the outcome. His change bowlers stuck to their job and the established batsmen delivered at the right time to finish off things in a convincing manner.

Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn were guilty of spraying the ball in conditions where they would have been better off pitching it up. Swing and movement was on offer for them but they made a mess and conceded far too many runs in the initial overs.

Left-handers, Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle, both of them known for taking the attack to the bowlers, enjoyed the width provided to them with as many as 61 runs coming in the Powerplay that was the highest achieved by Kolkata in the tournament.

Jacques Kallis was also punished for bowling short but Vinay Kumar pulled it back for Bangalore and his spell led a turnaround. He was not afraid to pitch the ball up to the batsmen while using the short ball sparingly, a tactic that was more likely to work in the prevailing conditions.

The fall of three wickets for two runs in the space of nine balls derailed Kolkata but Brendon McCullum revived them by clubbing Sridharan Sriram for 18 in an over.

It was the turn of captain Kumble to rise to the occasion and he bowled superbly to emerge as the most economical bowler of the day. Kolkata lost the plot in the final overs and their eventual total was unlikely to be adequate as it turned out.

If Kumble had led by example in the field, the responsibility of guiding the team with the bat was taken by Dravid. Isn’t it quite extraordinary that both these stalwarts continue to deliver for so long?

Dravid, despite appearing in top form, didn’t have a big score in tournament yet with the likes of Kallis, Uthappa and Virat Kohli doing the bulk of the scoring for Bangalore.

He got the opportunity this time round and dominated the bowling in the usual style of his. He kept the scoreboard ticking over with a brilliant half century and the stage was set for Uthappa to explode and seal the victory in the company of Ross Taylor.

readmore »»

April 10, 2010

Pakistan’s T20 captain considers missing IPL a blessing in disguise


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Pakistan’s captain in the shortest version of the game, Shahid Afridi, feels that missing the ongoing third edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is actually a blessing in disguise for himself and his players.

"No I don't have any regrets at all. In a way it is a blessing in disguise for all our players that we are not playing in the IPL before the World Cup," Shahid was quoted as saying in an interview.

"Given the problems that have besieged Pakistan cricket in recent months it is good that we have got time to work together as a team in the World Cup training camp, it has allowed us to settle down and focus on the World Twenty20," he said.

"We really are not following the IPL closely. We don't know who is playing or who is not playing because the purpose of holding this training camp has been to gel the players and allow them to prepare as a team for the World Twenty20," the flamboyant all-rounder stated.

"If we win I would definitely feel that I have achieved the biggest landmark of my career, I want the team to do well in the World Cup. It is a big ambition for me and I know as a senior player I will have to show the way in every department of the game," Shahid added.

The Pakistan squad is currently undergoing rigorous training in Lahore in order to improve fielding and general fitness before the World Twenty20 starting in the Caribbean on April 30.

Pakistan would be defending the title they had clinched in England last June. In fact they had also ended as the runners-up in the first-ever World Twenty20 held in South Africa in 2007.

Pakistan, having endured a lean patch in the longer versions of the game over the last few years, have had exceptional record in T20 matches and the expectations are once again high despite a disastrous tour of Australia just a short while ago.

Shahid Afridi will be holding the key to Pakistan’s chances being the captain as well as the senior most member of the squad. It remains to be seen how he shoulders the extra responsibility of leading the team.

Interestingly Pakistan would be having their third captain in as many editions of the World Twenty20. They were being led by Shoaib Malik when they narrowly lost the final against India in the inaugural event in 2007.
Younis Khan was at the helm of the affairs in 2009 when Pakistan overcame an uncertain start to win the tournament against all odds.

Neither Shoaib nor Younis are a part of the Pakistan squad that would be competing in the Caribbean under the command of new captain Shahid Afridi. In fact both the former captains have been banned from playing international cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

It will be quite a challenge for the inexperienced Pakistan cricketers to come good in the upcoming global event in which they will be confronted by Bangladesh and Australia in the league phase.

readmore »»

April 9, 2010

Suman overshadows Kohli and others


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The high-scoring fixture between Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2010 kept the spectators on the edge of their seats at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on April 8.

It’s not often that a target of 185 is overtaken in a Twenty20 game but Deccan Chargers were powered to victory by Tirumalsetti Suman who remained unbeaten in 78 off 57 balls. It was a magnificent knock from a lesser-known player and the night belonged to him. He was very rightly adjudged Man of the Match.

The Australian duo of Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds also played their role in guiding the Chargers to a seven-wicket victory with four balls to spare. Skipper Gilchrist hammered 32 off 19 balls while Symonds returned undefeated on 53 off 24 balls.

Deccan Chargers still have to do a lot more to catch up in their remaining league matches if they are to secure a place in the semifinals. The victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore should give them heart and confidence but they would be needed to play out of their skin to make it to the last four.

Gilchrist seemed to have a plan in mind when he elected to field after winning the toss. The ball was doing a bit and it was not easy hitting across the line. Even the likes of Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid, both master tacticians, were finding in difficult to force in the initial overs.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha foxed Dravid in the air to have him caught at point while the ball with which he trapped Robin Uthappa plumb in front had held its line. Both these blows had put the Challengers on the back foot and Virat Kohli, one of the most promising youngsters in India, walked in at a very difficult time.

By losing three quick wickets Royal Challengers Bangalore had slumped to 68 for four in 10.1 overs and appeared in disarray. At this point it looked quite unlikely of them getting any where close to 150.

Kohli took his time in settling down before unleashing the kind of strokes that would have made any power hitter proud. He was particularly severe to Symonds, bowling medium pace instead of spin.

Kallis, the leading scorer in the IPL-3, extended his spectacular form and along with Kohli shared a 95-run fifth wicket partnership that enlivened the proceedings much to the delight of the home crowd.

Kohli was dismissed in the final over after blasting 58 off just 35 balls while Kallis had departed in the previous over after hammering 68 off 44 balls. The death overs yielded far too many runs to lift the Royal Challengers Bangalore total to 184 for six.

Chasing a mammoth 185, Deccan Chargers lost Monish Mishra, playing in place of V V S Laxman, early. But Gilchrist and Suman put them on road to victory with a 77-run second wicket partnership.

The match opened again when Gilchrist and Rohit Sharma fell in the span of seven runs but Symonds and Suman took charge and they had no problems in knocking off the runs although needed 60 were needed off last five overs.

readmore »»

April 8, 2010

Embarrassment of riches continue in Australia


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Australia, having been denied the top spot in the ICC rankings after ruling the world for so many years under the stewardship of Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, still remain the team to beat in the international arena and the kind of talent they have leaves very little doubt in one’s mind that they would bounce back to regain the number one position in all forms of the game in not too distant future.

Unlike South Africa and India, the frontline challengers to deny them the crown, Australia have built an infrastructure that keeps producing outstanding cricketers giving them the most powerful bench strength.

South Africa and India are currently blessed with quite a few seasoned campaigners who have continued to deliver to help them retain top rankings but both these countries might not succeed in sustaining the momentum once their greats call it a day.

Australia have no such worries. They have lost a number of legendary characters in the past few years but survived. They did suffer odd defeats but overall the performance of the team remained steady. The recent influx of emerging talent means that they are preparing to rule the world once more.

If newcomers like Ryan Harris and Clint McKay have been offered full-time contracts by Cricket Australia for 2010-11 ahead of Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken one can very well understand that they are not short of talent.

Besides Harris and McKay the contracted players for the upcoming season, featuring the Ashes as well as the World Cup, are Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Adam Voges, Shane Watson and Cameron White.

"It is disappointing for Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken who have not received contracts. Both Stuart and Nathan have fantastic records for Australia and not renewing their contracts was a very hard decision. The reality is that other bowlers have seized the opportunity over the last six months in both Test and limited-overs cricket. I am sure Nathan and Stuart will look to start next season well and force their way back into the Australian side," Andrew Hilditch, head of the selection panel, observed while dropping the two senior fast bowlers in favour of new speed merchants.

"The Australian side is very much in the final stages of its preparation for the Ashes series in Australia and the World Cup for 50-over cricket in India. The contract list has a good blend of experience and youth, and recognizes the very strong performances of the Australian side in Test and limited-overs cricket this summer," Hilditch added.

The rankings remained confidential but it’s being believed that Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson would have filled the top four places for the retainers of around Australian $1.5 million in the contract period starting on July 1, 2010.

readmore »»

April 7, 2010

Hinopak Trophy 2010 inaugurated


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Hinopak Motors, one of the market leaders in the automobile industry, have vowed to continue their patronage to sports in general and cricket in particular.

The assurance was given by their Managing Director & CEO, Hideya Iijima, who inaugurated the 17th edition of the Hinopak Trophy Inter-Firms Cricket Tournament 2010 at the UBL Sports Complex in Karachi.

The inauguration ceremony was presided over by Dr Mohammad Ali Shah, Sindh Sports Minister, and President, Karachi City Cricket Association (KCCA).

In his welcome address Mohammad Irfan Shaikh, Founder Chairman, Hinopak Sports & Recreation Club, noted that the Hinpoak Trophy, launched in 1989, has been successfully organized every season and has come to be regarded as one of the most prestigious departmental competitions on the city circuit.

“The prime objective behind sponsoring this tournament for the last couple of decades is to make a humble contribution for the betterment of the society and not for the publicity of our products. We remain at front line to perform our role through continuous support for nurturing the sports activities within our society,” Irfan Shaikh, who is also a Vice President of the KCCA besides being a top leader of the Lions International, observed.

He added that Hinopak Motors will remain in the forefront to perform its role through not only the supply of environment and customer friendly products but also through its continuous support for nurturing the sports activities within the society.

The KCCA President, Dr Shah, acknowledged Hinopak’s consistent and long-term support to cricket and urged the other multinational corporations to come forward and promote activities to encourage the youngsters.

Dr Shah, also President of the Sindh Olympic Association (SOA), lauded the efforts of Irfan Shaikh in particular for being instrumental in sustaining the Hinopak sponsorship for different sports activities.

The long serving KCCA Secretary, Prof Siraj-ul Islam Bukhari also acknowledged Hinopak’s monumental contribution to cricket over a period of about two decades. He thanked Irfan Shaikh for extending the overwhelming support in making Hinopak Trophy as one of the most sought after annual events.

Naushad Riaz, Chairman, Hinopak Sports & Recreation Club, founded by Irfan Shaikh, stated that their company since its inception has always been in the forefront to promote sports activities and encouraging its employees to participate in sports and become a part of the healthier society. He credited Director Sales & Marketing, Irfan Shaikh, for having built a solid platform and spread the sports culture in the society.

Meanwhile as many as 22 outfits have entered the 17th Hinopak Trophy Inter-Firms Cricket Tournament 2010 being held at different grounds of the metropolis. All the matches will be 50-overs-a-side affair and no game would be reduced to less than 40 overs under any circumstances.

KESC, Mansha Brother, Saddar Town, Candyland and Shami Associates have been drawn in Group A, KPT, UBL, Karachi Police and Tapal Tea are placed in Group B, Pakistan Navy, Anfords English, Fatima Enterprises and Pakistan Ways feature in Group C while Group contains Pak Saudi International, Sindh Police, Omar Associates, Income Tax and NIT.

readmore »»

April 6, 2010

PIA revive colts cricket scheme


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), having pioneered the idea of launching the colts scheme in cricket, have now joined hands with a few other corporations in reviving the programme that had helped in discovering a number of promising youngsters who went on to become big names in the following years.

Former Test opening batsman and now head of PIA Sports Division, Shoaib Mohammad, himself a product of the colts progamme, has revealed that National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) have also been taken on board while reviving the colts scheme.

“We have recently re-launched the PIA Cricket Colts Programme that envisions hunting, selecting, growing and developing talent for professionalism in cricketing world. We have also taken the initiative of joining hands with NBP and SLIC, asking them to take up similar programmes in their respective organizations and contribute towards the progress of sports in Pakistan,” Shoaib disclosed.

As many as 267 teenagers appeared in the recent PIA colts trials from which 50 players were shortlisted. Later a high profile selection committee comprising of Hanif Mohammad, Saleem Jaffer, Iqbal Qasim and Shoaib Mohammad, assessed the candidates for their teamwork, skills, agility, attitude and potential for future growth. The panel finalized selection of 13 colts.

The 13 youngsters selected for the PIA Colts for their two-year programme are Faraz Ali, Shayan Jahangir, Abdullah Shah, Ammad Alam Khan, Amit Ravi, Imam-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza, Zia-ul-Haq, Fawad Khan, Akhtar Kayani, Jazib Mohammad, Bilal Manzoor and Bilal Nisar.

“The programme aims to ensure getting these colts to qualify for selection at PIA and national team levels, by encouraging them to demonstrating professionalism in their skills and behaviours,” Shoaib remarked.

“It intends to achieve this aim through a four pronged strategy firstly by providing academic, communication, grooming, etiquettes and computer literacy needs of these selected colts. Then for two years train and develop them, on-the-campus, in cricketing skills, thirdly introducing a mentoring program under which legends like Hanif Mohammad, Zaheer Abbas, Wasim Akram, Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar will be invited to mentor them,” he added.

“We would assess the trainees for improvement through a PIA Cricket Colts Selection and Monitoring Committee who will identify the promising players having consistent outstanding performances. Lastly, these colts would be provided with travelling opportunities by participating in matches across the country and on foreign soils,” Shoaib said.

The initiative of PIA augers well for the future of Pakistan cricket at a time when the majority of the departments, who were so enthusiastic in the promotion and development of sports from the grassroots level, have slowly withdrawn their proactive support due to various reasons.

PIA have had the history of promoting sports in a big way over the years. Their sports department may be shrinking but their recent decision to revive the colts scheme suggests that they are still interested in associating their name with sports. The PIA Cricket Academy in Karachi is another reflection of their desire not to part ways from social service.

readmore »»

April 2, 2010

Ganguly enthralls at Eden Gardens once more


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Sourav Ganguly, the Prince of Kolkata as he has been usually referred to, produced yet another magnificent knock at his home ground, the Eden Gardens, much to the delight of his so many fans.

His scintillating knock of 88 from only 54 balls guided Kolkata Knight Riders to a convincing victory over Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on April 1, bringing smiles on the face of Shah Rukh Khan finally.

The crowd at the Eden Gardens was given another treat by Ganguly, having starred in many famous wins for India in his successful stint as captain. But life for him in the IPL has not been far from spectacular so far.

"It was a good wicket, the ball came on well. I have been batting well for the last four-five games - 30s, 30s, 50s - it was good that I carried on today," a relieved Ganguly observed after his match-winning knock against Deccan Chargers.

"We started off well but then dropped a bit, we were in a spot where we needed to get some wins, the tournament's still wide open but it was good to get a win," he added.

Ganguly led from the front, playing a similar kind dominating role he used to do at the peak of his career while captaining India.

He took the attack to the opposition on a pitch where stroke-play wasn’t as simple as on other grounds. He paced his innings superbly without making an effort to go after every ball.

With the pitching purchase even to the part-time spinners like Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma, Ganguly, the master tactician that he is, chose to punish only those balls that fell in his radar.

After having played out some quiet overs from the T20 standards, he took on Pragyan Ojha, the most accomplished spinner in the Deccan Chargers line-up, hitting him powerfully over the ropes on a quite a few occasions.

Australia’s David Hussey helped Ganguly lead the Kolkata revival. Hussey, many years junior to the now retired Indian captain, played a perfect second fiddle to build a partnership that eventually turned the tide. They added 78 for the fourth wicket in a matter of 7.3 overs after Kolkata had crashed to 68 for three.

Hussey resisted the temptation of having a go at the bowling until Ganguly was at the crease. Kolkata were not very well placed at the halfway stage of their innings having scored just 80 for the loss of three wickets.

There was not much gain in the next five overs either but the momentum picked up in the five overs yielding no less than 65 that took the total to 181 in the allotted 20 overs.

Ganguly was chiefly responsible for breaking the shackles as he went after the West Indian quickie Kemar Roach lofting him for a six over mid-on and then dabbing to a four fine.

He was in complete control of the situation and a century for him was there for the taking. But he plucked in the deep when just a couple of strikes away from the landmark.

readmore »»

Recent Posts