November 28, 2021

Top WI players to skip Pakistan tour

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By Ehsan Qureshi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Some of the top West Indian players will miss next month's tour of Pakistan to play a series of three T20 Internationals and as many One-day Internationals. 

All-rounder Kieron Pollard will lead the team and all the six white-ball matches will be played at the picturesque National Stadium in Karachi from December 13 to 22. 

Former captain Jason Holder alongwith explosive all-rounder Andre Russell and hard-hitting batters Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer will not be touring Pakistan due to different reasons. Another power-hitter Fabian Allen and fast bowler Ebed McCoy have been ruled out due to injuries. 

The new look West Indian squad contains a quite a few raw youngsters. The quartet of Justin Greaves, Shamarh Brooks, Gudakesh Motie and Odean Smith has earned their maiden call-ups for the ODIs while Dominic Drakes and Motie have been included for the T20Is. 

As far as the home team is concerned two of their veterans and former captains, Shoaib Malik and Muhammad Hafeez, have announced their unavailability for the West Indian series due to personal commitments. Both of them also skipped Pakistan’s tour to Bangladesh but their absence wasn't felt much as the Babar Azam-led green shirts swept the T20I series 3-0. 

The islanders from the Caribbean, who dominated the cricket world in the 1980s, haven’t performed consistently against Pakistan during the last couple of decades and they are not being expected to stretch the hosts, on a high in the T20s since the beginning of the recently held ICC World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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November 23, 2021

Sports journalist Khalid Khan passes away

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By Ehsan Qureshi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

One of Pakistan's senior sports journalists, Khalid Hasan Khan, who was working at Dawn, the country’s premier English-language newspaper, breathed his last at Karachi’s Liaquat National Hospital on November 23. 

According to the family sources, he was hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage a couple of weeks of ago. He was 58, having left behind a widow and four daughters to mourn his death. 

He was a member of the Karachi Press Club (KPC) as well as the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) for the last many years. 

He extensively covered domestic and international cricket at home. His last international assignment was in Rawalpindi where he had flown to cover the Pakistan-New Zealand ODI series which was cancelled at the eleventh hour due mysterious security concerns of the visitors. 

Khalid Khan was considered an authority on domestic first-class cricket which he covered comprehensively with dedication and commitment for many decades. 

He had started his career by contributing to the famous monthly cricket magazine ‘The Cricketer Pakistan’ in 1980s and later switched to daily journalism by joining ‘The News’ soon after its launch in early 1990s. After working there for about a decade, he joined Dawn for whom he continued working until the time of his death. 

A quiet person by temperament, he was popular among the media corps which used to assemble at the National Stadium Karachi Press Box to cover various matches. His death is a great loss to sports journalism in Pakistan and it will leave a kind of vacuum in the cricket reporting arena.

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November 14, 2021

Marsh, Warner power Australia to ICC T20 World Cup crown

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Australia, at last, clinched maiden ICC T20 World Cup crown when they thrashed New Zealand by eight wickets in what eventually turned out be a one-sided final at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on November 14. 

The mighty Aussies lived upto their reputation of coming good in crunch matches. They also maintained the tradition of chasing and winning at this ground. 

All-rounder Mitchell Marsh was instrumental in his team's triumph in the final as he toyed with the Blackcaps bowling attack with superb hitting. 

The Man of the Tournament award was presented to the prolific Australian opener, David Warner, for his crucial runs in trying circumstances. The explosive left-hander succeeded in turning it around after a lean patch in the IPL on the eve of the T20 World Cup. 

Marsh cracked an unbeaten 77 off 50 balls laced with half a dozen boundaries and four sixes in the final to drive Australia to a famous victory. Fellow all-rounder Glenn Maxwell finished unbeaten on 28 off 18 balls with the help of four fours and a six. They added 66 runs stand for third wicket without being separated as Australia chased down the target of 173 with seven balls to spare. 

Coming in at number three, Marsh trumped Kane Williamson's spectacular knock of 85 off 48 balls with ten fours and three sixes. Sent to bat first, the Blackcaps recovered from a sluggish start to post a competitive total of 172 for four in their 20 overs. 

They were struggling against the pace and swing of Josh Hazelwood and they could muster just 32 runs in six overs of power play. Williamson was well supported by opener Martin Guptill who scored 28 off 35 deliveries with three boundaries. 

Hazelwood snapped up three wickets for 16 runs in an amazing spell of bowling but the star left-arm spearhead Mitchell Starc conceded as many as 60 runs in his four overs. 
The Australian captain, Aaron Finch, received the trophy and cash purse of US$1.6 million while his counterpart, Williamson, collected a sum of US$0.8 million for being the runners-up. 

The Australian head coach, Justin Langer, who himself was a part and parcel of the all-conquering outfit of his country in the past, did not mince words in declaring that winning T20 World Cup was among great moments in their cricket history. 

"My boys enjoyed the game and have fun which was the key in winning the title,” Langer, who played 105 Tests and eight ODIs for Australia, remarked after Finch had brought home the trophy.

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November 13, 2021

New T20 world champs to emerge as Aussie clash with Blackcaps

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From Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A new champion is set to Emerge on the horizon as Australia clash with New Zealand in the final of the ICC T20 World Cup at Dubai Cricket Stadium on November 14. 

It’s for the first time when the two neighbor countries, bisected by Tasman Sea, are up against each other in the final of the World Cup in the shortest format of the game. 

Australia, having annexed the 50 overs World Cup a record four times, reached T20 World Cup final once where they lost to England in West Indies in 2010. 

Aaron Finch’s Australians team, which pulled off a stunning five-wicket win over favourites Pakistan in the semifinals, remains in the happier frame of mind entering the final. 

Middle-order Matthew Wade and Marcus Stoinis snatched the game from jaws of defeat after the middle-order had tumbled against Pakistan in their previous outing at the same ground.  

Hasan Ali’s dropped catch of Wade, who hammered spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi for three consecutive sixes to seal the fate of the closely fought encounter is still being echoed on the social media across the globe. 

But I firmly believe that T20 is a lottery and a solitary freak performance can change the course of the game in blink of an eye as Wade demonstrated by blasting Pakistan’s speedster Shaheen, who had starred in the opening game against India. 

On the other hand, Blackcaps, led by Kane Williamson, shocked Eoin Morgan's higher-ranked England in the other semifinal at Abu Dhabi. Like Wade and Stoinis, Jimmy Neesham and Daryl Mitchell were the heroes as they came from difficult position to turn the game with brutal hitting against top death bowlers Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes. 
New Zealand, after losing to Pakistan in the league rounds, have come back strongly to qualify for the final. They may not be having too many mega stars in their line-up but they have continued to be a major force in every format of the game in the recent past. 

The brand of cricket, Australia and New Zealand play, and the kind of fighting qualities these two neighbouring countries, it would be difficult to predict the outcome. 

The experienced duo of Williamson and Martin Guptill has the firepower to muscle any bowling attack while Tim Southee and Trent Boult are the two seasoned fast bowlers in their line-up who make New Zealand a most formidable outfit. How do they fare against the Australians in the final remains to be seen! 

Apart from skipper Finch and David Warner, the Australian batting revolves around Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell with Stonis and Wade to follow in the middle-order. The pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh By Hazelwood, backed by leg-spinner Adam Zampa, has the potential to unsettle any batting side.

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November 11, 2021

Wade shatters Pakistan’s dream to cruise into T20 World Cup final

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Incredible batting display by left-handed Matthew Wade spearheaded Australia into the final of the 6th edition of the ICC T20 World Cup when they overpowered Pakistan by five wickets in a tensely fought semifinal under dazzling lights at the Dubai International Stadium on November 11. 

Wicketkeeper-batter Wade hammered an unbeaten 41 off just 17 balls with fours sixed and two fours to richly deserve Man of the Match award. At the other end Marcus Stoinis remained unconquered on an invaluable 40 off 31 balls with brace of sixes and fours to take Australia home with an over to spare. 

They shared a dramatic match winning 81-run sixth wicket partnership after half of their team was back in the hut before raising 100 of the innings. The vastly experienced left-handed opener, David Warner, led the charge initially with 49 off 30 balls with two sixes and as many fours before they lost flurry of wickets which restored parity in the game. 

Leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul broke the back of Australian batting as they needed 67 runs in last five overs. But it was brilliance of Wade which changed the complexion of the game decisively. 

It may be recalled that it was another left-handed Aussie, Mike Hussey, who had snatched the semifinal from Pakistan in the Caribbean in 2010 in similar conditions. Australia had scored 57 runs in last three overs to storm into the final where they lost to England.

Pakistan’s defeat in the pre-final sent hundreds of their supporters in tears and they dominated the crowd of nearly 20,000 in Dubai. They had expected Pakistan to win the game but they returned home heartbroken. 

Hasan Ali dropped a catch off Shaheen Afridi in the deep which cost Pakistan a place in the final. Afterwards Wade hoisted Shaheen for three successive sixes to snatch the game away from Pakistan. Shadab nearly emerged as the unlikely hero with four wickets for 26 runs before Wade and Stoinis took control. Shadab’s figures were the best ever to be recorded in the semifinals of T20 World Cup. 

Star batter Muhammad Rizwan, who was doubtful for the match due to fever and flu, and the 2017 Champions Trophy hero Fakhar Zaman hit form at the perfect time as they were instrumental in help Pakistan post a competitive total of 176-4 in 20 overs.

Rizwan continued his dream run in the event with a spectacular 67 off 52 balls studded with four sixes and three fours. Opening the innings with skipper Babar Azam, he gave Pakistan another fantastic start of 70 runs in 10 overs after Aaron Finch won the toss and inserted them to bat first.

Babar made a compact 39 off 34 balls laced with five boundaries. But it was left-handed Fakhar who took Pakistan towards a commanding total. After a steady start, he tore apart the Australian attack with his typical powerful hitting. He hoisted four sixes and three fours in his 55 off 34 deliveries. 

The aggression of Rizwan and Fakhar allowed Pakistan to put 106 runs on the board in the last 10 overs as the Australians seemed to have lost the plot for a while with Steve Smith dropping a sitter in the deep and their fancied speedsters misfiring occasionally. The unusually untidy cricket from the Aussies in the field could have cost them the game but they were bailed out by Wade and Stonis in the end.

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November 10, 2021

New Zealand storm into T20 World Cup final

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By Ehsan Qureshi in UAE 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The trio of Daryl Mitchell, Devon Conway and Jimmy Neesham powered New Zealand to the ICC T20 World Cup final when they outsmarted England by five wickets at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on November 10. 

It was a night to remember for the New Zealanders who quietly came from behind to break the shackles in the final overs to script one of their famous wins in white ball cricket. They needed 57 from the last four overs and completed the job with full one over to spare. 

It was a sweet revenge by Blackcaps to their defeat at the hands of England in the 50 overs final at Lord’s London in 2019 which was decided on super over. 

Playing the innings of his lifetime, Mitchell smashed an unconquered 72 off 47 balls to be declared Man of the Match. The hard-hitting Neesham banged 27 in mere 11 balls with three towering sixes and one four while Conway laid the platform a solid 46 off 38 balls. 

New Zealand looked in dire straits while chasing the target of 167 when they lost their prolific duo of opener Mark Guptill and captain Kane Williamson very early. But the manner in which the relatively inexperienced campaigners reconstructed the innings was truly commendable. 

England appeared to have gained decisive control over the game when occasional leg-spinner Liam Livingstone delivered a sensational four-over spell in which he not only picked a couple of wickets but also gave away only 22 runs. Eion Morgan could not asked for better performance with the ball from his fifth bowler.

Incredibly, New Zealand chose to take the experienced bowlers to be put to sword. Chris Jordan, who bowled a probing opening spell of two overs, was hammered for 23 runs in the 17th over and his new-ball partner Chris Woakes was hammered for 20 in the 19th over to settle the issue without going into the final over. 

Put into bat, England seemed to have done well to post a total of 166 for four in the allotted overs with left-handed Moeen Ali scoring a brilliant unbeaten 51 off 37 balls. David Malan also scored an enterprising 41 off 30 balls while Livingstone sparkled briefly for his 17 off 10 balls.

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Rizwan, Shoaib down with fever, test negative for COVD-19

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Two of Pakistan's key players, Muhammad Rizwan and Shoaib Malik, missed training and practice session at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai on November 10 due to fever. 

The media manager informed reports both the key players were rested due to fever. They were tested COVID-19 and both were declared negative much to the relief of the Pakistan camp. 

Meanwhile Pakistan will be taking on Australia in the second semifinal on November 11 and the fitness of Rizwan and Shoaib remained vital as they have been instrumental in helping green shirts emerge victorious in all five league games. Pakistan could face problems if they were unable to recover in time for the match. 

Veteran Shoaib, living to his reputation of power hitter, smashed a hurricane unbeaten 54 off 18 balls hoisting half a dozen sixes in the last league outing while wicketkeeper-opener Rizwan, in company of skipper Babar Azam, has played the pivotal role in getting the team off to flying starts. 

Fresh from five straight wins in the tournament, Pakistan will be needed to extend the momentum in the crunch game against the formidable Aussies to continue their march towards glory. Pakistan eye berth in the final for third time with the ultimate goal being reclaiming the crown they clinched under Younis Khan in 2009 in England. 

The Australians, like the Pakistan squad, were also engaged in extensive training and practice sessions at the same venue and, led by Aaron Finch, they looked supremely confident going into the knockout phase. They have turned out to be one of most powerful sides to have entered the competition and their semifinal encounter with Pakistan is expected to be a cracker. 

Not surprisingly all the tickets for the game were declared to have been sold out with the highest priced tickets reported to be around US$3000.

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November 9, 2021

Pakistan’s motivated outfit aiming for ICC T20 World Cup glory

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Team Pakistan is fully motivated and focused for glory in the ICC T20 World Cup whose knockout games start on November 10 with the first semifinal between England and New Zealand. 

Pakistan will be locking horns with Australia in the other semifinal the following day with a realistic hope of qualifying for the final on November 14. 

Led by consistent batter Babar Azam, with a bunch of seasoned and youthful campaigners, Pakistan is just a couple of steps away from fulfilling the dreams of recapturing the crown after 12 years. 

The manner in which the green shirts have performed in the league matches has been beyond expectations as they emerged triumphant in all five outings. The whole nation and millions of their supporters are now expecting them to bring home the title. 

Not much was expected from the Pakistan team when then entered the tournament and there seemed a distinct possibility of them qualifying for the semifinals in the presence of higher ranked outfits. 

But things have changed in a matter of weeks and now they are looking the most confident of all participating teams, with five successive victories under their belt and being the only undefeated side in the league rounds. 

If they simply sustain the momentum and avoid committing mistakes in the knockout games, they are all set to annex the trophy. 

Babar, Muhammad Rizwan, Shoaib Malik, Muhammad Hafeez and Asif Ali have done wonders with the bat. It’s the time for the 2017 Champions Trophy centurion Fakhar Zaman to show his magic as he is known to be having the temperament to come good in high-voltage matches. 

Shaheen Shah Afridi, spearheading the attack, is looking at his brilliant best and support from Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan can make things difficult for the opponents who will obviously be under greater pressure in the do-or-die contests. 

A word of caution for the Pakistan team as well. They cannot be expected to take any side for granted. An odd mistake can cost them the title. As compared to league games they have to be more vigilant in the knockout games to prevent any lapse in concentration. Top quality fielding and catching can lift their bowlers which can prove to be the difference in closely fought encounters.

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Consistency holds key in knockout games: Babar Azam

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Dubai 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam has reckoned that consistency held the key in the knockout games of the ICC T20 World Cup as his side prepared to combat Australia on November 11.

"We have been consistent in the tournament so far and we will take the confidence and momentum in the semifinal and then into the final hopefully" he told reporters via virtual press conference on November 9. 

He got the players of his choice as he insisted on a few guys to be retained and his team has been producing results. "I am taking my decisions with freedom. I know that it will mean a lot to the fans and the country if we win the trophy. People of our country have always backed us,” he observed.

“As a captain I can't even imagine of dropping Hasan Ali. Yes, he is not doing very well but he is a match winner and has won us many matches. I know he is a big match player who could do well in the semis. Same is the case with Fakhar Zaman. You can’t have all eleven players performing in same match,” Babar asserted. 

“These are the kind of naturally gifted players who have the capacity to turn the match on their day. They deserve to given chances as they may also endured an off day or two,” he reasoned.

“Bubble life is tough but we are managing it somehow. If any player has any problem we ask a senior player to sit with him and get advice. Obviously we have to live with for the time being,” he stated. 

“As a captain I am learning. I take all my players with me and give them the confidence to bring the best out of them,” he said.

Babar has led the team by example in the tournament, having scored as many as four half centuries in five league matches. He is looking forward to extending the purple patch in the upcoming games to help his team clinch the trophy.

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November 8, 2021

Rampant Pakistan win all five in league rounds

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From Ehsan Qureshi in Sharjah

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan remained undefeated in Group-II league rounds of the ICC T20 World Cup as they hammered Scotland by 72 runs in their fifth and final outing at the Sharjah Stadium on November 7. 

Electing to bat, after winning the toss, Pakistan amassed 184 for the loss of four wickets in the allotted 20 overs and then restricted Scotland to 117 for six in the stipulated overs to emerge triumphant with hints of conviction. 

As witnessed during their previous game against Namibia, they got off to a cautious start but exploded in the death over to post a mammoth total which proved well out of reach of their opponents. 

The Scots were found clueless in pursuit of the big total and it proved to be a mismatch as the Pakistan's spin-cum-pace attack gave nothing away. All the bowlers were bang on target, gearing up for the knockout games.

Veteran Shoaib Malik got the opportunity to demonstrate his continued hunger for success as he smashed an unbeaten on 54 off just 18 balls with half a dozen towering sixes.

Skipper Babar Azam, on the other hand, simply extended his brilliant form when making 66 off 47 balls with the help of five fours and three sixes. 

Knowing their tactics, there was hardly any surprise in watching Pakistan make only 35 runs without losing any wicket in the six overs of power play which was exactly the same score at this particular stage in the match against Namibia. 

The Scots were put to sword in the final phase of the innings as the duo of Shoaib and Babar plundered the bowling at will. There were flurry of boundaries and the last 35 balls produced as many 89 runs which raised the total into mammoth proportions. 

By virtue of becoming the Group II champions, Pakistan will now clash with the Group I runners-up Australia in the second semifinal at Dubai Cricket Stadium on November 11 while the Group I leaders England will be up against New Zealand, the Group II runners-up, in the first pre-final on November 10. The final will be played in Dubai on November 14.

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November 6, 2021

Pakistan eye Scot scalp to remain unbeaten in league rounds

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From Ehsan Qureshi in Sharjah 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Babar Azam’s Team Pakistan will be aiming to extend their winning streak in the league rounds of ICC T20 World Cup as they prepare to take on Scotland in Sharjah on November 7. It has been the happy hunting ground for the green shirts over the years and they appear poised to end their league campaign with another powerful victory. 

Less than a couple of weeks ago, Pakistan had outsmarted New Zealand at the Sharjah Cricket Ground with Asif Ali’s three huge sixes and Shoaib Malik's brilliance rotation of strike. 

Victories in their previous four games over the quartet of India, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Namibia, have built a big reputation for Pakistan and they are being tipped to lift the trophy. They only need to sustain the momentum in the knockout games to capture the crown which looks at a striking distance now. 

Pakistan will be returning to arena after a gap of five days with three-day rest for the game. The big question being asked was whether Pakistan will field allow a couple new players as they have already assured a place in the semifinals. 

It remains to be seen if Haider Ali, Usman Qadir or Muhammad Nawaz will be tried against Scotland or will they continue to be benched. 

Although there’s a tradition of sorts in Pakistan cricket of not altering the winning combination but trying out new boys could be helpful in testing their skills ahead of the semifinals. 

Pakistan’s coaching staff is expected to work out plan for improving performance in their six overs power play. This is one vital area which sets impetus to boost good total and the think-thank must find ways to deal with it. 

It may be recalled that Pakistan had struggled initially against Namibia scoring only 29 runs in six overs and there were as many as 14 dot balls during the first three overs. 

Batting supremo Babar and Muhammad Rizwan will continue to hold the key to provide exhilarating start when only two fielders out of circles. With Babar and Rizwan expected to extend their brilliance with the bat, Pakistan will be looking forward to Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan at their best in the upcoming crunch games. 

I feel that leg spin and googly bowler Usman Qadir could be tried out in the game against Scotland who don’t seem not very comfortable in combating such variety of bowling as was witnessed in their struggles in tackling the Indian spinners the other night in Dubai. 

Kyle Coetzer's Scotland, after offering New Zealand a tough fight, were actually blown away by India. They were bowled out by the rampaging trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Muhammad Shani and Jasprit Bumrah for only 85. The Scots, however, cannot be taken lightly as George Munsey, Richie Berrington, Michael Leask and Mathew Cross are dangerous batters.

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November 3, 2021

Rizwan, Babar excel as Pakistan first team to storm into semis

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By Ehsan Qureshi in Abu Dhabi 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Muhammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam smashed sparkling half centuries as Pakistan crushed Namibia by 45 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, to become the first team to storm into the semifinals of ICC T20 World Cup on November 2.

Interestingly and surprisingly, Pakistan recovered from slow start to post their highest score of the tournament so far. After amassing a huge total of 189 for two in the stipulated over, they restricted their opponents to 144 for five to win the match by 45 runs. It was their fourth consecutive victory in the event. 

After accumulating only 29 runs in the six overs of power play and just doubling the score in the next four overs, the trio of Babar, Rizwan and Muhammad Hafeez went on a rampage mustering a whopping 131 in the last 10 overs much to the delight of their supportive crowd. 

Pakistan, opting to bat first after calling correctly for a change, might have started to regret their decision when the first three overs witnessed as many as 14 dot balls. 

The Pakistan openers, Babar and Rizwan, were clearly struggling against the Namibian attack at the start of their innings. But the situation in the second half of the innings and the Pakistani batters got into their elements. 

Rizwan was in a punishing mood taking 24 runs in the last over from Johannes Smit, slamming four fours and a towering sixer. 

Skipper Babar made 71 off 49 balls with seven boundaries. It was his third half-century in four matches. Rizwan anchored the innings with unconquered 79 off 50 balls, studded with eight fours and four sixes. The Namibian bowlers were found wanting when the well-set openers carried out the well planned onslaught. 

Hafeez sustained the momentum and blasted an unbeaten 32 after facing only 16 balls and it included five strikes to ropes. His lusty hitting ensured that the Pakistan total approached mammoth proportions.

Chasing a formidable target 190, Namibia was never really in the hunt against a disciplined bowling attack. Spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi didn’t pick any wicket and David Wesie spoiled his figures further with an unexpected counterattack in the final over.

Namibia, making their maiden appearance in the T20 World Cup, had created history of sorts by toppling Scotland earlier in the tournament. But they found the rampaging Pakistan side too hot to handle.

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November 2, 2021

The Butler blast in desert

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By Ehsan Qureshi in UAE 

  (Pakistan News & Features Services)

The pitches in the ongoing T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), particularly in Sharjah, have not been conducive to free flowing batsmen and they have had to exercise greater caution in taking the bowlers to the cleaners. 

England, having won their previous three matches, had their backs to the wall at the halfway stage of their innings against Sri Lanka on November 2 and they were expected to be contained to below par total. 

But there was a man in the middle by the name of Jos Butler who thought otherwise. Butler is known for playing big shots but the manner he constructed and finished his knock was well and truly spectacular to say the least. 

Yes he went on to complete the most incredible of centuries on the final of the innings and it was a maximum. His unbeaten century provided England enough runs to bowl out the Sri Lankans despite the dew factor. 

Although the England bowlers also played their role in taking their side to fourth successive win, the night belonged to Butler. Quite deservedly he was adjudged as Man of the Match for his sparkling century. 

Butler remained undefeated on 101 off 67 balls which didn’t look all that amazing but the fact that he enabled England to add 116 in the last 10 overs after collecting only 47 in the first 10 was more significant in turning the game around. 

He showed once more how to trust one's own abilities. He refrained from taking risks when the situation demanded of him to show restraint. Once his eyes were set and he had measured the bowling, there was no stopping him. It was one of the best T20 knocks to have been played under pressure. 

Butler’s terrific batting made amends for the ordinary performances of other power hitters in the England ranks and he will indeed be considered one of the major threats for the opponents in the upcoming knockout games.

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T20 World Cup: Pakistan looking to cement place in semis, India face elimination

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By Ehsan Qureshi in UAE

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Babar Azam's Team Pakistan, fresh from consecutive victories over the fancied trio of India, New Zealand and Afghanistan, look forward to securing their spot in the semifinals of ICC T20 World Cup when they take on minnows Namibia here at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on November 2. 

Pakistan will be going hard at the young African nation to sustain their winning momentum and top form. In my opinion, they are unlikely to make any changes in their winning combination although they will be expected better performance from veteran Muhammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Hasan Ali ahead of the crunch knockout games. 

The Pakistan players will be expected to keep their feet at the ground because of the highly unpredictable nature of the shorter format where an odd brilliance could change fortunes against the run of play. 

The mood in Pakistan camp is cheerful and buoyant. After two days of complete rest, main players have had extensive training session at ICC Academy Ground Dubai on November 1. 

However what was witnessed at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on October 31 was truly incredible as India tumbled once more against New Zealand and now Virat Kohli’s men in blue are at brink of elimination from the event they are hosting. 

Team India and their staunch supporters seemed to be paying for their arrogance, overconfident approach and not treating their opponents fairly in the arena. This is huge lesson and tragedy for Indian cricket despite everything in their favour they suffered ignominy. 

After witnessing Indian powerplay when they lost cream of their batting, the writing was very much on the wall for them. I witnessed the training sessions of the Pakistan reserves at the ICC Academy. 

When returning, I had come across hundreds of Indian deserting the Dubai Stadium after 10 overs of New Zealand innings. The spectators, which included elderly men and women coming along with their families, were deeply hurt, disappointed and dismayed with below par show by the highly rated Indian team. 

When I spoke to one cricket lover, Arvind from Chennai, he expressed his disappointment at India’s tame defeats but complimented Pakistan and New Zealand for their resounding triumph. A big fan of Babar Azam, he expected Pakistan to win the trophy now. When I tried to speak to a couple of young ladies for their reaction they just vanished after knowing that I came from Pakistan media.

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