'It's bigger than the Ashes' - Lawson

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Geoff Lawson, Pakistan's coach, believes the side

"would have been better off"

for their tour of India tour had they beaten South Africa in their recent home one-day series.

"Five overs of bad cricket spoiled our good work in the series, but it gave us lessons which we need to learn and work hard on the India tour, which will be tough,"

he said.

"Having toured India on a number of occasions I know people follow an India-Pakistan match with extreme passion and at times it is little bit more than the sport, bigger than the Ashes, so I look forward to it."

The tour begins with a five-match ODI series, beginning in Guwahati on November , and Lawson felt the team could learn from the disappointing loss at home. He also felt that both Pakistan and India were on a learning curve, with newcomers making their mark.

"The exciting thing is that new stars are replacing the superstars in both the teams. There are a couple of exciting newcomers, so all in all it's good progress for both the teams,"

he said.

"India have a balanced squad with a combination of good spinners and fast bowlers and Pakistan match them. I think a good bowling spell, a great innings or a few good catches can make the difference in the one-day series."

Lawson commended the captains of the two teams - Shoaib Malik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, for their "fresh ideas" that could only boost their sides.

"Both have brought their teams forward and are doing great work, performing well and both are learning as captains."

Like Lawson, Malik felt his team needed to lift themselves.

"I do not think we will go to India with any negative thoughts in our mind. Our players are capable of handling the pressure,"

Malik said.

"The Indian tour is going to be a challenging one as they are also rebuilding their team. But we have learnt a lot from the series against South Africa."

Malik, whose team choked while chasing 234 in the series decider at Lahore, admitted they failed to press home the advantage.

"Our finishing has to improve, that is for sure,"

he said.

"We controlled 90 per cent of the game against South Africa but in the 10 per cent that really mattered we were not good enough."

He refused to blame any of his players, however.

"I know we tried hard but you have to give their bowlers too some credit. I will not tell any player to stop playing his natural game but, yes, we just need to be responsible at times. We will continue to play positively in India as well."

Shoaib Akhtar's comeback was welcomed by both coach and captain. Akhtar took four wickets in his final ODI against South Africa, returning after serving a 13-match ban.

"He is a big asset to the team when he is fully fit and he showed he is hungry for success by bowling very well despite making a comeback after such a long time,"

Malik said.

"It is great to have Shoaib back for the Indian tour."

Kamran Akmal, included in the ODI team despite his poor recent form behind the stumps, was backed by his captain.

"Anyone can drop catches, even Jonty Rhodes dropped catches,"

Malik said.

"But we know Akmal is a bit down and we need to sit down and talk to him and boost his confidence. We know he can be a key player for us in India."

Pakistan will play a warm-up one-dayer against Delhi on November 2.


Younus Khan named vice-captain for Indian tour

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PBC) has appointed top-order batsman Younus Khan vice-captain of the recently announced Pakistan team for the tour of India.

Younus Khan will be the third player to assume the charge as the deputy of captain Shoaib Malik.

Earlier, the PCB appointed fast bowler Muhammad Asif the vice-captain for the series in Abu Dhabi and after that made opening batsman Salman Butt the vice-captain for the home series against South Africa but due to lack of form he was not only dropped from the team but also stripped of the vice-captaincy.

Younus Khan, who twice refused to become captain of the national team, has now been appointed vice captain for the series of five One-day-Internationals and three Test matches in India.

The national team will leave tomorrow for India.


PCB's brainstorming sesssion held for preparing for series in India

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board think-tank minus PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf, who is out of country, had a brainstorming session in Lahore on Tuesday ahead of the national team’s departure to India for an important series.

Captain Shoaib Malik and leading paceman Mohammad Asif also participated in the session that was aimed at preparing the players for the tough series. PCB’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Shafqat Naghmi, chief selector Salauddin Ahmed, Director Cricket Operations Zakir Khan and coach Geoff Lawson were present.

The Board officials were upset at the way some of the senior players batted in the last one-dayer against South Africa. The players who participated in the session could not explain how the national team lost from a seemingly winning position.

“All the plus and minuses of the series were discuss in the session that was aimed at digging out the realities as to what happened and what should be the course of action for the coming series,”
a PCB official told The News from Lahore.

At the meeting, the idea of making some changes in the team was also discussed.
“Though the selectors have already announced the one-day squad, some of officials were of the opinion that the changes could be made even at this stage.”


Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, 2nd round

Match ends in tame draw despite Rawalpndi's mammoth 601against Abbottabad

KARACHI: Rawalpindi ran up a mammoth score of 601 runs in their first innings, on the final day of their second-round, four-day Group B 50th Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Cricket Championship match against Abbottabad, at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. This gave them an advantage of 225 runs over their opponents, but the match ended in a tame draw.

Rawalpindi gained the three first innings lead points though that took their tally to 12 points. They are placed at number two behind Islamabad, who have the full 18 points from two appearances, in the 11-team Group B ranking.

After Abbottabad had scored an impressive 376 runs in their first innings, Rawalpindi replied with 352 for four by the close of play on Monday’s third day. Getting the lead was just a matter of time.

The partnership that boosted Rawalpindi’s total was one of 256 runs for the fifth wicket. This came after the team had slipped to just 106 for four. The 21-year-old Usman Saeed top-scored with a magnificent 243, that came off 471 balls in two minutes above 10 hours with the help of 30 fours and two sixes.

Usman played for the champion Pakistan team in the 2004 Under-19s World Cup held in Bangladesh. The double-hundred yesterday was, however, only his third three-figure score in a 34-match first-class career.

More interesting were the 129 runs made by his fifth-wicket partner Yasir Ali, who did so off 285 deliveries in five minutes short of six hours with 14 fours and three sixes. Yasir, still only 22, played in a Test match for Pakistan four years ago even before he had made his first-class debut. Basically a right-arm fast-medium bowler, he has attained his career’s first century, his previous highest of 63 being his only score of fifty plus.

Usman’s sixth-wicket stand with skipper Naved Ashraf (23) was worth 54 runs while wicket-keeper Zahid Mansoor (47) joined him to add another 132 runs for the seventh wicket. The match in Abbottabad started a day late on Saturday instead of Friday, as the original venue — the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi — was not available due to repairs.

Rawalpindi now meet top of the table Islamabad in a third-round Group B match, starting at the Diamond Cricket Club Ground in Islamabad from Thursday (tomorrow). Abbottabad have a rest until the fourth round.

Scores: Abbottabad 376 in 120.4 overs (Wajid Ali 75, Fawad Khan 73, Junaid Khan 71; Mohammad Ayaz 4-99). Rawalpindi 601 in 213.4 overs (Mohammad Ibrahim 45, Usman Saeed 243, Yasir Ali 129, Zahid Mansoor 47).


Pakistan v South Africa, 5th ODI, Lahore

Monday, October 29, 2007

Protease snatch victory from jaws of defeat to win series against Pakistan

LAHORE: South Africa defeated Pakistan by 14 runs in a thrilling finish when Pakistan collapsed from 199 for five to 219 all out in 46.3 overs in the in the fifth and the final One-day International here at the Gaddafi Stadium today.

They also won the five-match series against Pakistan 3-2.

Winning the toss, South Africa made 233 runs for nine wickets in the allotted 50 overs. Their most in-form batsman Jacques Kallis was the top-scorer with 86 while Herschelle Gibbs scored 54 and Jean-Paul Duminy made 44.

The most successful bowler from Pakistan was pacer Shoaib Akhtar, who is playing an international match after 14 months. The fast bowler captured four wickets while pacer Rao Iftikhar Anjum claimed three wickets. Sohail Tanveer and Shoaib Malik took one wicket each.

In reply, Pakistan’s top and middle order batsmen played well, particularly, Younus Khan and Muhammad Yousuf through their 106-run third wicket stand put Pakistan on the path of victory. They scored 58 and 53, respectively.

Later, captain Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq carried the score to 199 but then the wickets began to fall and within 20 runs they were all out to give the Protease an unbelievable win in the match and the series.

From South Africa, pacers Albie Morkeel and Makhaya Ntini grabbed four wickets each.

Ntini was adjudged the man-of-the-match while Muhammad Yousuf of Pakistan was declared the-man-of-the-series.


Abdul Razzaq takes back retirement decision

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Abdul Razzaq has taken back his decision to retire from international cricket and is available once again to represent Pakistan. The allrounder's decision comes after discussions with his local club and long-time coach.

"I have reversed my decision and am available for Pakistan once again,"

Razzaq said.

"I have had many discussions with P&T Gymkhana and my coach, Azhar Zaidi, and we felt it was better if I took back my original decision. Maybe I made that in the heat of the moment."

Razzaq announced his retirement from international cricket in August, in protest at being ignored by the selectors in the squad for the ICC World Twenty20. He accused the selection committee and the board of not treating him with enough respect and dropping him for matters other than his form. The selectors maintained that he was still in their plans for ODI and Test cricket, though his form in those formats has been unconvincing over the last year or so. In his last 15 ODIs, he averages 17.30 and has taken only 12 wickets.

Three fifties and 38 wickets in his last 15 Tests have also done nothing to help his cause, though injuries have hardly helped the process. He missed the Test series against South Africa late last year and the World Cup in the West Indies subsequently. In 2005, he also missed the home series against England with an elbow injury.

Razzaq now plans to take part in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL). The doors back to international cricket will not open immediately, however. Salahuddin Ahmed, chief selector, said Razzaq would need to show that he was back to his bristling best.

"Let him play first-class matches first and prove his form and fitness there. After that, the doors are always open for every first-class cricketer in the country,"

Salahuddin said.

And further obstacles may exist in the form of the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Razzaq was one of four Pakistani players to sign up for the league and the Pakistan board still maintains that anyone who does turn out in the ICL will not represent Pakistan.

Mohammad Yousuf, another player to sign for the ICL, was convinced by the board to opt for Pakistan instead, though no similar efforts were made with Razzaq. The league has threatened legal action against Yousuf. Razzaq says, however, he will wait and see how matters develop before deciding on a course of action as far as his contract with the ICL is concerned.


Worcestershire express interest in Umar Gul

Worcestershire have offered to sign up Umar Gul, the Pakistan fast bowler, as their overseas professional for the first part of the 2008 season.
"We have talked to Umar's representative in the United Kingdom and have made an offer. We will continue to talk to see what is possible,"

Mark Newton, the club's chief executive told the Times, a London-based newspaper.

"We would like Umar to be our overseas player for the early part of next season and his likely availability would be from early May to early August.

"We are just hoping it [the signing] will all come to fruition and it will be an exciting time if Umar, Simon Jones, Kabir Ali and Matt Mason are all fit and available for next season. Umar is one of the most exciting prospects around and in addition to Test cricket, he has also proved to be economical in Twenty20 cricket."

Gul, 23, was the highest wicket-taker in the ICC World Twenty20 with 13 wickets at a miserly 5.60 runs per over. He has also taken 67 wickets at 31.55 from 16 Tests and 44 wickets at 28.27 from 34 ODIs.

But Gul needs clearance from the Pakistan board before joining Worcestershire. If the board gives him permission, it will be his maiden appearance on the county circuit. Gloucestershire had signed him on for the 2007 season but the Pakistan board had refused to release him owing to concerns about his fitness.

Worcestershire's bowling department has been bolstered by the signing of Simon Jones, the England fast bowler, who will be on a two-year contract. Kabir Ali, who has played 14 ODIs and a Test, and Matt Mason would provide support. Mason is undergoing rehabilitation work after missing most of the previous season due to a shoulder injury.


Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, 2nd round, 1st day

Group A

Karachi Whites were bowled out for a modest 218 runs in their first innings on the opening day of their second-round, four-day Group A Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match by Lahore Ravi, at the Asghar Ali Shah Stadium on Friday.

Karachi Whites captain Mohammad Sami, the fast bowler currently out of favour with the national selectors, won the toss and opted to bat first on a pitch that played erratically throughout the day. Still, an interesting tussle between bat and ball ensued as the proceedings continued.

Karachi Whites, with three points from their drawn match in the first round against Hyderabad, prospered through some good batting by their two centurions in Hyderabad. The experienced Afsar Nawaz top-scored with 52 runs off 131 balls with five fours. Asad Shafiq, the opener, contributed 45 off 81 balls while hitting seven boundaries. Sami himself scored a useful 31 in a 54-run sixth-wicket stand with Afsar.

Lahore Ravi captain Junaid Zia captured three wickets for 52 runs. Offspinner Kashif Shafi also chipped in with 3 for 32 while the legspinner Haafiz Saad Nasim took 2 for 38. Lahore Ravi, who were comfortably beaten by WAPDA by a nine-wicket margin on Tuesday, negotiated one over before the draw of stumps in which no runs were made.

Danish Kaneria, the Pakistan leg-spinner, captured four wickets for 64 runs as Hyderabad slumped to 193 for nine in their first innings, on the opening day of a second-round, four-day match against Habib Bank Limited, at the Niaz stadium in Hyderabad on Friday.

Playing an admirable foil was the left-arm spinner Aslam Qureshi who bagged three wickets for 29 runs in 22 overs. For Hyderabad, opener Akram Khan top scored with 97 runs while batting for five hours and facing 262 balls with eight fours.

At the Sheikhupura stadium , Multan demolished the 2005-06 champions and last season's runners-up Sialkot for a measly 100 runs. Six batsmen failed to open their account.

The left-arm pace bowler Mohammad Kashif starred with a four-wicket haul and Multan drove home the advantage with an unbroken 116-run opening stand between brothers Hammad and Usman Tariq.

At the Iqbal stadium , in Faisalabad, the home team were 243 for 9 by the day's close against National Bank of Pakistan. After five wickets had fallen for only 62 runs, Usman Arshad (62) and Mohammad Salman (61) put on 110 to propel Faisalabad to a respectable score.

Powered by a patient 83 from Ali Hussain, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) reached 239 for 7 wickets in their first innings on the first day against Pakistan Customs at the NBP Sports Complex , ground on Friday.

Raees Amjad, the seamer, ripped the top order with a four-wicket haul but Hussain held the innings together, staying at the crease for 305 minutes with four hits to the boundary. Opener Asif Zakir (41) and Ashraf Ali (49) were the other contributors. Ahmed Zeeshan was unbeaten on 24 when Adnan Malik fell for a duck on the last ball of the day.

Group B

Karachi Blues prospered through some splendid batting as they took their first innings score to 308 for four in 83 overs by the close of the opening day against Quetta at the Bugti Stadium on Friday.

The highlight of the day was a hundred by Shadab Kabir, the former Pakistan Test batsman. Kabir, 29, posted his 10th first-class century, making 136 runs off 206 balls in just short of four and three-quarter hours with 22 fours and two sixes.

He stitched together a 146-run opening partnership with Pakistan Under-19s star Ali Asad, who made 66 off only 105 balls with 11 fours, after the Karachi team had been put in to bat. Kabir then added 119 runs with Faraz Patel, who made 48 after being the Blues' top scorer in either innings in their first-round match against Rawalpindi, for the second wicket.

Amid the carnage, Quetta's experienced offspinner Naseer Khan stood out as he captured all four wickets to fall, at a personal cost of 89 runs in 26 overs.

Karachi Blues had been thrashed by a 152-run margin by Rawalpindi in their previous match played in Karachi. Quetta were not seen in the first-round action.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) suffered a setback at the hands of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) on the opening day at the KRL stadium in Rawalpindi on Friday, as they dismissed for a modest score of 211 in their first innings.

Kamran Sajid was left holding the fort as he carried his bat through the completed innings, while scoring an unbeaten 64 off 201 balls in just short of five and a half hours with nine fours.

Right-arm seamer Bilal Asad captured four wickets for 37 runs in 14 overs for KRL.

Lahore Shalimar were bowled out for 249 runs against Islamabad at the Diamond Cricket Club ground in Islamabad. Suleman Khan top scored with 88 off 159 balls with 11 fours.

The extras amounted to an exact 50 that included 20 no balls and 11 wides. The left-arm seamer Saad Altaf took 4 for 81 but gave away 10 no balls and seven wides. The debutant fast-medium bowler Shahzad Azam, who was roped in after Azhar Mahmood opted out, took a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket. Azam induced Ali Raza, Lahore Shalimar's captain, to nick behind.

By the close of play, Islamabad were in a bit of trouble as they had lost four wickets for 34 runs in 11 overs. The seamer Asif Raza took 3 for 13 in five overs.

Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) did well to reach 287 for 7 on the first day of their match against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) at the Arbab Niaz stadium in Peshawar.

SNGPL were struggling at 63 for 4 when Azhar Shafiq (95) and Khurram Shahzad (75) added 164 runs to lift them out of trouble. Zohaib Khan prised out three wickets while Junaid Nadir chipped in with 2 for 45.


Pakistan name squad for India one-day series

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pakistan announced a 16-man squad Friday for the five-match one-day international series in India, with a recall for paceman Shoaib Akhtar.

Pakistan will leave for India on November 1 and play the first match at Guwahati on November 5.

Pakistan will also play three Tests which follow the one-day series. The Test squad will be announced later.

Pakistan squad: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Imran Nazir, Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Abdur Rehman, Iftikhar Anjum


November 5: First one-day international, Guwahati

November 8: Second one-day international, Mohali

November 11: Third one-day international, Kanpur

November 15: Fourth one-day international, Gwalior

November 18: Fifth one-day international, Jaipur


Pakistan v South Africa, 4th ODI, Multan

A clinical South Africa levelled the five-match series 2-2 with a seven-wicket win over Pakistan in Multan. The visitors boosted their chances of a comeback by restricting Pakistan to 230 after the hosts decided to bat on a flat surface.

Following that, Shaun Pollock and Graeme Smith effortlessly outclassed the opposition with a match-winning 159-run stand after Herschelle Gibbs got the ball rolling. Pakistan failed to really fire with the bat and they completely fizzled in the field, putting all the pressure on themselves going into the final ODI in Lahore.

The home side was put under the kosh by Gibbs, who exploited the Powerplays by using his feet against the pace bowlers to get width and elevation. Inside six overs the field was scattered - fine leg was in, mid-on up, a man square out on the off-side boundary - but Gibbs continued to make it look easy in the middle with 39 from 35 balls. A flustered Shoaib Malik called Shahid Afridi in the second Powerplay and the in-form man - enjoying an exceptional 2007 with bat and ball - - got Gibbs first ball courtesy Billy Bowden's error in judgment. The ball, fast and sliding down leg stump, caught Gibbs on the knee roll as he hopped up. Replays showed it would have missed leg stump.

If Pakistan thought they had made a breakthrough, they were to be sorely disappointed. As Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, suggested the day before, Pollock was promoted because of his ability to play spin well and score quickly. And that's what he did, cutting Afridi for repeated fours and sweeping Abdur Rehman's left-arm spin to minimise the spinners' effect. It didn't help Pakistan's cause that the ball didn't turn much, but Pollock rose to the occasion, hitting his 13th ODI half-century without any fuss.

There was simply no pressure on him. He found the gaps almost every time he played a shot but what stood out was his ability to pick up boundaries. Mohammad Asif returned for a second spell and was whipped off the pads before being driven through cover; then Pollock pulled him for four more. After dropping Smith and giving him his umpteenth life of the series, Umar Gul returned just to be slapped for four and six in successive balls by Pollock. With 12 to win and 14 for a hundred, Pollock holed out to long-off for 90 from 84 balls but there was little remorse as he walked off.

Smith, meanwhile, had been confident pushing off the front foot into the gaps as Pakistan's body language slumped. He struggled to sweep but was fluent when offered width. Smith only had seven boundaries in his 81 but it hardly mattered as he supported Pollock and held up one end.

Like he has all series, Smith grafted but with South Africa only chasing a moderate total his approach worked like a charm on an easy batting track. He fell with just three to win and fiercely admonished himself with his choice of shot, but South Africa wouldn't have complained. In a see-saw first half, a watchful partnership of 91 between Younis Khan and Malik lifted Pakistan from a precarious 38 for 3 before Andre Nel's double-strike brought the visitors back into the game.

Younis was forced to buckle down right from the start, after Afridi miscued his first delivery against Makhaya Ntini to a back-pedalling Andre Nel at mid-on for 0. Yasir Hameed's first aggressive shot, in the ninth over, was intercepted by a diving Gibbs at midwicket and Mohammad Yousuf's slowness resulted in his first failure of the series, as he was run out for the 35th time in his career.

Younis mostly waited, watched, nudged and steered, and at times preferred walking across and flicking the pace bowlers across the line as he chugged along to his first fifty of the series. While Younis used his feet and hit Johan Botha for six over long-on, Malik also ticked along to raise the run-rate to four an over. After inside-edging Botha onto his boot early in his innings, Malik settled down, dropping the wrists or tucking off his pads for singles. When Jacques Kallis was thrown the ball in the 32nd over Malik checked a drive to mid-off, falling for a 54-ball 45.

South Africa kicked down that window of opportunity, with Nel picking up Younis and Misbah-ul-Haq in the 38th over, both to loose shots. Kamran Akmal and Rehman then pushed Pakistan over 200 with some aggressive but chancy strokes in a 60-run seventh-wicket stand. South Africa aren't ranked No. 2 in the world for nothing, and they came out in ruthless fashion. Their aspirations of maintaining their record of never having lost a bilateral ODI series against Pakistan just got a whole lot easier.


PCB chief asks Shoaib Akhtar to fulfill responsibility as senior player

KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Dr. Nasim Ashraf on Thursday asked comeback fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to fulfill his responsibility as a senior player and prove his critics wrong with a forceful performance during the all-important tour of India starting from next week.

“The tour of India is certainly the most important assignment for our team and is perhaps even more important than the World Cup,”
the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman said.

“I expect that all the players including Shoaib Akhtar would be at their best behaviour and give their hundred percent on the tour because we have to deliver good results against India.”

Shoaib is all set to be a part of Pakistan’s touring party to India to play five one-dayers and three Tests during November-December.

He will complete a 13-match ban when Pakistan play their fourth one-dayer against South Africa in Multan today and will be available for selection for the final game of the series to be played in Lahore on October 29.

National selector Saleem Jaffer, who followed Shoaib’s progress in a domestic match recently, has cleared him for national duty and the pacer will be named in the squad for the India tour likely to be announced today.

However, earning a recall to the national side is not the only target facing the 32-year-old pacer.

He is still on probation after hitting teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat last month and has been warned that another breach of the PCB’s Code of Conduct would result in a life ban.

Ashraf agreed that Shoaib will be walking on thin ice but added that he is hoping the player has learnt his lesson.

“I hope that Shoaib will be a changed man on the tour of India,”
said the PCB chief.
“It is his last chance and we all hope that this time he would not waste it.”

Ashraf said that Pakistan will need Shoaib at his best on the tour of India.

“Shoaib has a role to play for Pakistan,”
he said.
“He also has a point to prove and should give his best to silence his critics who believe he is spent force.”

Ashraf was confident that Shoaib and the other senior players will turn out to be a positive force for Team Pakistan in India.

“I’m sure Shoaib and all the other experienced boys will fulfill their responsibility as senior players and act as a positive force to lift the morale of the national team,”
he said.

The PCB chief was confident that Pakistani cricketers will excel both on and off the field in India.

“Our team will play positive and attacking cricket in India and we will win,”
he concluded.

Young all-rounder Shoaib Malik will be leading Pakistan for the first time in an away Test series.

Pakistan are scheduled to fly out for New Delhi on November 1 where they play a warm-up game starting from Nov 2. They meet India in a five match ODI series starting from Nov 5 in the eastern Indian city of Guwahati.

The rest of the one-dayers will be played in Mohali (Nov 8), Kanpur (Nov 11), Gwalior (Nov 15) and Jaipur (Nov 18).

The three Tests will be played in New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore.


PCB Governing Board to meet in Lahore on November 9

KARACHI: The new Governing Board of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will meet for the first time in Lahore on November 9, PCB chief Nasim Ashraf said on Thursday.

Ashraf told ‘The News’ that members of the newly-formed Board will be fully briefed about the annual budget of the PCB that was previously approved by its ad-hoc committee as well as about the plans made for the development of cricket in the country.

“The Governing Board will meet at our headquarters in Lahore for the first time on November 1. It will be an introductory meeting in which its members will be briefed about our plans, the budget and their ratification will be sought over those points,”
said Ashraf.

The PCB is currently in the process of implementing its new constitution that gives sweeping powers to the new Governing Board. Members of the Board include technocrats, former Test cricketers and representatives of the regions. It is to be headed by Ashraf as the PCB chairman.

Ashraf said that during the first meeting, he will sound out the members about the formation of different committees that would help run the PCB in a more efficient manner.

“We will soon be forming different committees to oversee different areas like finance, competitions discipline etc,”
he said.

Ashraf said that he will try to have a meeting of the Governing Board at least once every two months.

“There is a suggestion to have quarterly meetings of the Governing Board but I believe it should meet more frequently, at least six times in a year.”


PCB Governing Board to meet in Lahore on November 9

KARACHI: The new Governing Board of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will meet for the first time in Lahore on November 9, PCB chief Nasim Ashraf said on Thursday.

Ashraf told ‘The News’ that members of the newly-formed Board will be fully briefed about the annual budget of the PCB that was previously approved by its ad-hoc committee as well as about the plans made for the development of cricket in the country.

“The Governing Board will meet at our headquarters in Lahore for the first time on November 1. It will be an introductory meeting in which its members will be briefed about our plans, the budget and their ratification will be sought over those points,”
said Ashraf.

The PCB is currently in the process of implementing its new constitution that gives sweeping powers to the new Governing Board. Members of the Board include technocrats, former Test cricketers and representatives of the regions. It is to be headed by Ashraf as the PCB chairman.

Ashraf said that during the first meeting, he will sound out the members about the formation of different committees that would help run the PCB in a more efficient manner.

“We will soon be forming different committees to oversee different areas like finance, competitions discipline etc,”
he said.

Ashraf said that he will try to have a meeting of the Governing Board at least once every two months.

“There is a suggestion to have quarterly meetings of the Governing Board but I believe it should meet more frequently, at least six times in a year.”


‘Woolmer was poisoned and strangled’

KINGSTON: The pathologist who performed a controversial autopsy on former Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer said on Wednesday that the Englishman was poisoned and then strangled.

Dr Ere Shesiah, chief consultant pathologist of the Jamaican government, told an inquest that Woolmer
“died of asphyxia due to manual strangulation associated with Cypermethrinide poisoning”.

Cypermethrin is a pesticide used frequently in countries including the United Kingdom, China, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, said Shesiah, who had never before publicly linked Woolmer’s death to poisoning.

Woolmer, 58, was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room on March 18, a day after Pakistan were knocked out of the cricket World Cup following an upset loss to Ireland. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after.

Police started a murder investigation days later after it was revealed that the autopsy, which investigators said was inconclusive at first, found that he died of manual strangulation.

That investigation ended on June 12 when Jamaica’s police commissioner said the constabulary would accept the opinion of three independent pathologists that Woolmer had died of natural causes, possibly a heart attack. Shesiah, an Indian national who has made Jamaica his home for more than 15 years, said that he never told police that the autopsy was inconclusive.

“At no time did I use the word inconclusive in any of my deliberations with the police,”
Shesiah said under cross examination by Jamaica’s director of public prosecutions Kent Pantry.

“I told the police at the time that the autopsy was pending. I also never used the word suspicious, which the police used early in their investigations,”
Shesiah said.

Shesiah said that when the murder investigation was called off on June 12 he had still not received the toxicology report.

“I received a faxed copy of the toxicology report on June 21, and the report concluded that a poisonous toxin was found in Mr Woolmer’s stomach,”
Shesiah said.

“I stand by my findings that Mr Woolmer was strangled and, based upon additional information which I received, he was also poisoned,”
Shesiah said.

Shesiah’s technique has been criticised by international pathologists who have testified at the inquest but he remained defiant, saying he had applied the correct methods in carrying out the post mortem.

Shesiah, who suffered a stroke three weeks ago, will be in the witness box again as the inquest led by coroner Patrick Murphy entered its eighth day on Thursday.


PCB asks BCCI to ensure maximum visas for Pakistani fans

KARACHI: Pakistan cricket officials have asked their Indian counterparts to arrange for more visas for Pakistani fans wishing to see matches during their team’s tour of India starting from next week.

A top Pakistan Cricket Board official told this correspondent that the PCB has sent a letter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) requesting it to ensure that maximum number of visas is issued to Pakistani fans.

“We have asked the BCCI to issue ample number of visas because a lot of fans would want to go and see matches in India,”
said Zakir Khan, the Board’s Director of Operations.

He was reacting to reports coming from India saying that the recent bombings in various parts of India have taken a toll on cricket with only 250 Pakistanis being allowed to come to watch the one-dayer in Mohali next month.

The visa figure allowed for Pakistani fans - by the Indian home ministry and the ministry of external affairs - is drastically truncated despite a request by the Punjab Cricket Association, which will organise the Mohali match, for 5,000 visas.

The Indian home ministry’s reluctance to issue more visas is being linked by the Indian security agencies to the recent spate of bombings in Hyderabad, Ajmer and Ludhiana in which several people died. Security agencies investigating the bombings have pointed to links with suspected bombers in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Zakir, however, hoped that BCCI will intervene and ensure that Pakistani fans are not deprived the opportunity to watch their team in action on the tour of India.


Final ODI shifted to Lahore due to security concerns

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The final ODI between Pakistan and South Africa has been shifted to Lahore from Karachi following security concerns raised by the tourists.

"The fifth ODI will now be played at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on 29th October,"

read a statement from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). "The venue was changed on the request of the South African team management.

"On the request of the PCB, the South African team management sent one of their security officers to Karachi yesterday who held meetings with various offices of the government of Sindh. Despite all assurances given to the security officer, he felt that playing in Karachi was not feasible for the moment."

South Africa avoided playing in Karachi on their previous tour in 2003, but played a warm-up game and a Test this time, staying in the city for over ten days. But the twin suicide bombs targeted at Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister, that killed 140 people and injured hundreds more last Thursday made the situation uncomfortable for South Africa.

Logan Naidoo, the South African manager, said,

"We deeply regret this decision especially for the people of Karachi for having deprived them of this opportunity but unfortunately the members of the South African contingent are not comfortable traveling to Karachi. After consulting with Cricket South Africa back home, we would like the venue to be shifted to some other city."

Naidoo added that this does not rule Karachi out as a venue for future tours.

"We have already played two matches in Karachi during the current tour and hope to play there on our next tour as well."

The decision is a significant one for the status of Karachi as a venue with Australia due to tour the country in March next year for the first time in a decade. The city has only recently started hosting international matches again; following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a number of tours to Pakistan were cancelled. When cricket eventually returned, visiting teams avoided Karachi in particular.

But India's decision to play an ODI at the venue on their ground-breaking 2004 tour gradually signaled a return to the international fold. Since then India and the West Indies have played Tests there, while England played an ODI in 2005.

The PCB expressed its disappointment at the decision and reiterated that Karachi was safe to hold any international event.


Dr Nasim Ashraf retained for further three years

KARACHI: President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday retained Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf for a three-year term apart from approving six ‘technocrats’ and two former Test cricketers for inclusion in a new PCB Governing Board.

According to an official notification Ashraf, who took over as PCB chairman last September, will continue heading the Board that embraces a democratic set-up next month after almost eight years of ad-hocism.

“I hope to continue the voyage of good governance and transparency in this new set-up for the betterment of our cricket,”
“I’m honoured that the President has kept faith in me and I will try my best to serve the game during my tenure,”
he added.

Musharraf, who is the patron-in-chief of the PCB, also stamped his seal of approval on the names of six technocrats and two ex-Test cricketers, who will be a part of a 15-man Governing Board under the PCB’s new constitution.

Former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam and Ijaz Butt are the two former Test cricketers on the Governing Board which will have Ali Raza, Munir Hafeez, Moin Afzal, Aslam Sanjrani, Farooq Rehmatullah and Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Yousuf as members.

The PCB will later announce the names of the five representatives of its various regions and an official representing the affiliated departments, who will complete the Governing Board headed by the Board’s chairman.

The PCB chief said that he would try to convene the inaugural meeting of the PCB Governing Board on either November 9 or 10 at the Board’s headquarters in Lahore.

“I would want to have the inaugural meeting as soon as possible and am hoping that all of the Governing Board’s members will attend it,”
said Ashraf.

He said that during the next three years, his focus will remain on promoting cricket at the grassroots level.

“We have to have a solid base at the schools and under-19 levels if we are to excel at the international level in the coming years,”
he said.
“We are investing in grassroots cricket at the moment and will intensify our efforts in the coming years so that we can produce world class players for the future.”

He said that Pakistan need a solid bench strength if they are to compete with top class teams like world champions Australia.

Ashraf added that another important goal for the PCB is to take concrete measures to ensure that Pakistan raise the best possible combination for the 2011 World Cup. Pakistan are to co-host the World Cup with India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

“The 2011 World Cup is the most important assignment for us and we will take all possible steps to raise a squad capable of winning the title.”

Pakistan, the 1992 World Cup champions, have flopped miserably in the last two editions of the tournament held in South Africa (2003) and the West Indies (2007).

Ashraf almost lost his job as the PCB chairman after this year’s World Cup debacle and it was only after Musharraf threw his weight behind him that he was able to keep what is counted among the most sought-after positions in Pakistan sports.


Asif unlikely for last two ODIs

Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan fast bowler, is likely to be rested from the last two one-day internationals to be played against South Africa on October 26 and 29. The national selectors want to give Asif a proper rest before Pakistan's tour of India beginning in the first week of November.

Asif missed the first three matches of the one-day series, which Pakistan lead 2-1, due to an elbow injury sustained during the second Test against South Africa in Lahore.

"He [Asif] is not certain to play in the last two games because we need him in India for the Tests and one-day internationals and he is a proven performer,"

chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed told Reuters.

Pakistan are also waiting on the fitness of left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, who is suffering from a groin injury.


Pathologist tells Woolmer inquest cause of death uncertain

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Canadian pathologist Michael Pollanen told the inquest into the death of Bob Woolmer that he couldn’t determine the cause of death of the Pakistan cricket coach who died during the World Cup in March.

Pollanen testified on Monday that Woolmer wasn’t strangled, as police initially suggested.

Under cross-examination by Director of Prosecutions Kent Pantry, Pollanen said that he understood a foreign substance was detected in Woolmer’s body.

Questioned by Pantry as to whether he was informed that poison was detected in Woolmer’s body, Pollanen said:
“I was aware that there was a positive toxicology finding relating to Woolmer’s death.”

Pressed to explain the foreign substance and about his knowledge of a toxin called cypermethrin, Pollanen responded by saying
“it is a form of insecticide or herbicide.”

Pollanen said he couldn’t state the symptoms that cypermethrin would induce in a person, but he did say
“it could weaken the body movement"

Pollanen also told coroner Patrick Murphy and the 11-member jury that he was not presented with a copy of the toxicology report, which made it impossible for him to determine the cause of death.

Pollanen said that in his opinion strangulation wasn’t indicated as the cause of death.

“If the hyoid bone (in the neck) was broken, it would be a good evidence of injury to the neck,” he said. “It was not broken in this case.”

Jamaican government pathologist Ere Sheshiah had said Woolmer died of manual strangulation - a conclusion that rocked the cricket world as Jamaican authorities said they were treating his death as murder.

The former 58-year-old former England international was found unconscious in his room at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 18, a day after Pakistan made a shock exit from the cricket World Cup, losing to minnows Ireland.

When authorities said the death was suspicious, it prompted speculation that it might somehow be linked to match-fixing in international cricket.

In June, Jamaican police said further investigation showed Woolmer died of natural causes.

“In my view there is no foundation of physical attack or pressure on the neck,”
Pollanen testified.

Pollanen said Sheshiah failed to follow proper procedures when he examined Woolmer’s neck.

“Base on the evidence, I would exclude strangulation as the cause of death,”
he said.

He added, however, that the hyoid bone doesn’t have to be fractured for strangulation to take place.

When asked if he would entirely rule out strangulation, he responded “No.”

According to images shown at the inquest, Woolmer had injuries to the face and neck.

Pollanen agreed with Sheshiah that bleeding would be caused from the injuries.

“If there is bleeding in these areas, there would be a head injury, which may be caused from a fixed, hard surface,”
he noted, adding that the injuries could have been the result of the face
“coming in contact with a hard surface.”

The inquest had previously heard that Woolmer was found with his head under the toilet bowl and that medical personal had to move him in order to attempt to revive him.

The inquest, presided over by Murphy and an 11-member jury, is to determine the cause of Woolmer’s death and whether anyone bears responsibility.


Pakistan v South Africa, 3rd ODI, Faisalabad

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yousuf steers Pakistan to convincing win over South Africa

FAISALABAD: Star batsman Muhammad Yousuf once again guided Pakistan to a convincing six-wicket victory and a 2-1 series lead over South Africa here at the Iqbal Stadium on Tuesday.

Yousuf scored his third successive score of over 50 runs and remained not out on 58, his 56 th ODI fifty. He has so far made one hundred and two fifties in the series.

Chasing a modest target of 198, Shahid Afridi opened for the first time in the series made a whirlwind 32 off 18 balls whereas his partner Yasir Hameed replacing Imran Nazir could score 18 from 46 balls. Younus Khan also made a brief stay and made only 10 and Pakistan were reeling at 68 for three when experienced Yousuf and captain Shoaib Malik came to their rescue.

Both batted sensibly and carried the score to 147 when Shoaib was dismissed for 42. He faced 62 balls and hit two fours and one six.

However, Yousuf continued his calm and steady innings and with Misbah-ul-Haq steered Pakistan to victory with 11 balls left.

Misbah contributed an unbeaten 29 off 32 balls with two fours and one six.

Albie Morkel claimed two wickets for 30 and Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Nitni took one wicket each.

Shahid Afridi for his allround performance was declared man-of-the-match. He made a breezy 32, grabbed three wickets and took two catches.

Earlier, Winning the toss, captain South Africa Graeme Smith chose to bat first and opened the innings with Hershelle Gibbs to give a 43-run stand. However, other batsmen could not contribute useful scores except Justin Kemp, who made 42 off 74 balls with two sixes. Smith was the top scorer with 48 off 68 balls with five fours.

Pace bowler Iftikhar Anjum and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi captured three wickets each for 33 and 37, respectively while Umar Gul claimed two for 25 and left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman took one wicket.

Man Of The Match: Shahid Khan Afridi


Pakistan board hopes to change Champions Trophy dates

Pakistan board officials have been trying to move next year's Champions Trophy from September to October to avoid hosting the tournament during Ramadan, but a packed international calendar is not allowing any change of dates.

"As things stand, the Champions Trophy will be played in September next year at a time when we will be observing the holy month of Ramadan,"

Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, said.

"We do not believe it would be an appropriate time to hold such a mega event and have informed the ICC about it."

Naghmi raised this issue at an ICC chief executives' meeting in South Africa last month but the suggestion to move the tournament to October was shot down because of a packed international schedule.

Representatives of England, India, West Indies and New Zealand made it clear at the meeting that their teams could not play the tournament if the dates were changed since they have other international assignments in October as per ICC's Future Tours Programme.

"September doesn't suit us because it would be difficult to guarantee attendance for matches during Ramadan,"

said Naghmi. It will be Pakistan's first time hosting the Champions Trophy and the first major tournament in the country since the World Cup in 1996.

But guaranteeing full stadiums is not the only concern for the PCB officials who are also worried about the timing of the matches.

"We don't want to have action on the ground at a time when spectators and the people watching the matches on television are busy breaking their fast [Iftar]. I don't think it would be appropriate,"

Naghmi said.

The bad news for the PCB is that it will be fasting season during almost the whole of next September which means that all the matches of the Champions Trophy will have to be played during Ramadan.

However, Naghmi said that PCB is still hoping that with mutual consent, Pakistan and the ICC will work out the schedule.

"For the Champions Trophy to be really successful, it is important that we find best possible dates for the event and we are trying our best to do it,"

he said.

Naghmi is aware that the FTP's schedule might not allow any change of dates and the PCB is already working on plans to have a successful event even during Ramadan.

"We might work out match timings with the innings break coming at Iftar time,"

he said adding that several proposals were under consideration in a bid to successfully host the Champions Trophy.

ICC officials will arrive in Pakistan on November 2 to review the three venues for the event - Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi.


Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, 1st round, 3rd day

Group A

Habib Bank Limited (HBL) took a crucial 93-run first-innings lead over Pakistan Customs, on the second day of their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at the National Bank of Pakistan stadium. Trying to overhaul HBL's total of 289, the Pakistan Customs middle order faltered and were bowled out for 196. By the close of play, the HBL openers had knocked off 65 runs in 16 overs to take the overall lead to 158 with ten wickets in hand.

After useful contributions from two England county players, Pakistan Customs lost three wickets on the same score to slump to 114 for 6. Derbyshire's Rawait Khan scored 46 off 92 balls with six fours while Bilal Shafayat of Northamptonshire contributed 38 runs off 112 balls with four fours and a six. Raees Amjad hit a brisk 38 off 35 balls, left-arm medium-pacer Kamran Hussain ran through the rest and finished with 5 for 30. Legspinner Danish Kaneria took 2 for 77 off 26 overs.

In HBL's second innings, Taufeeq Umar hammered an unbeaten 41 off 48 balls with seven fours. While the tournament started on Saturday with seven matches, the two games in Karachi and one in Hyderabad involving Karachi Whites were postponed by a day, following Thursday's bomb blasts.

Karachi White's openers led a spirited reply to Hyderabad's first-innings score of 409 on the second day of their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at the Niaz Stadium. Shan Masood and Asad Shafiq, both making their first-class debut, made 101 in 24 overs. Shafiq hit 63 off 72 balls with nine fours while the Pakistan Under-19 vice-captain Masood faced 38 deliveries for his 32.

Resuming on 227 for 3, Hyderabad lost Rizwan Ahmed early. He added only one run to his overnight score of 100. Shahid Qambrani added 55 for the fifth wicket with Zahid Khan (37) and another 86 for the sixth wicket with captain Hanif Malik (24). Qambrani missed out on his seventh first-class hundred by just two runs when he was dismissed for 98 off 148 balls. For Karachi Whites, captain Mohammad Sami took 3 for 82. Offspinner Tabish Nawab went wicketless on Sunday, finished with 5 for 124 in 44.1 overs.

Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) took a 195-run lead in the first innings against Lahore Ravi on the third day at the LCCA Ground in Lahore. After bowling out Lahore Ravi for 251 on the opening day, WAPDA scored 446 before being all out. By stumps, Lahore Ravi were 101 for 4 in their second innings, needing 94 runs to avoid an innings defeat. Middle-order batsman Bilal Khilji got his sixth first-class hundred, scoring 127 not out off 233 balls with 19 fours. His fifth-wicket stand with Aamer Sajjad (88) produced 112 runs.

At the Sports Stadium in Sargodha, Multan appeared to be playing for a draw, reaching 271 for 6 in their first innings. Faisalabad had earlier scored 402 and Multan avoided the follow-on, but they were trailing by 131 runs.

The match between Sialkot and National Bank of Pakistan at the Jinnah Stadium was drawn after efforts to start the game afresh on Monday on a different pitch proved futile. The new pitch was still being prepared yesterday. Earlier the match had to be halted during Sialkot's first innings due to "misbehaviour of the pitch".

Group B

Karachi Blues were tottering at 174 for 9 in reply to Rawalpindi's first-innings total of 234, on the second day of their Group B Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at the United Bank Limited ground. Their situation would have been worse if not for an unbroken 43-run stand for the last wicket between Faraz Patel and Malik Aftab after Karachi Blues had plummeted to 131 for 9. Patel's 62 off 195 balls was his highest first-class score while Aftab battled for over an hour for 15 off 50 balls. Karachi blues, however, were still trailing 60 runs.

Earlier, former Test batsman Shadab Kabir scored 47 off 111 balls which included three fours. Fast bowler Rizwan Akbar took 4 for 47 and rattled the Karachi batsmen as five wickets fell inside 30 runs. Left-arm seamer Mohammad Ayaz and Babar Naeem, with his slow left-arm spin, picked up two wickets each.

Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) took a 30-run lead against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) at the KRL Stadium. Fast bowlers Yasir Arafat and Jaffer Nazir captured four wickets each for 69 and 51 runs respectively and bowled out ZTBL for 275. By stumps, KRL scored 75 for 2 in the second innings and extended their lead to 105. Playing for KRL, Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar captured 1 for 49 in 17 overs.

Nawaz Ahmed scored his maiden first-class century as Peshawar piled up 411 for 7 in reply to Lahore Shalimar's 246 before declaring at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in another Group B match. Nawaz hit 109 off 199 balls with 16 fours and a six. Three other batsmen made half-centuries as Peshawar took a 165-run lead. The Lahore openers replied with an unbeaten stand of 108.

Left with 134 runs to record an outright victory, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were 30 for no loss by the close of play in their Group B match against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) at the Sheikhupura Stadium.

Abbottabad wiped out their 42-run deficit and scored 299 in the second innings against Islamabad at Diamond Cricket Club Ground. Islamabad required 258 runs to win the Group B match on the final day.


Khalid Latif replaces Hafeez in ODI squad

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pakistan's continuing troubles with their opening combination have forced the selectors to call up Khalid Latif and release Mohammad Hafeez from the 15-man squad to face South Africa in the third ODI in Faisalabad on Tuesday.

Pakistan have tried two opening combinations in two games so far and Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal have provided starts of 18 and 1. Hafeez was dropped for the second ODI and the highest score by an opener remains Nazir's 16 in the first ODI.

The 21-year old Latif has been on the fringes of selection to the senior squad for some time now. He first came to national attention when he led the Pakistan U-19 team to victory in the 2004 World Cup in Bangladesh.

He was unlucky to miss out on selection for the ICC World Twenty20 despite impressing during the various training camps held before the tournament. But solid performances in the recent home series against Australia A have finally paid off.

Latif ended the three-match ODI series in September as the leading scorer on either side. His tally of 228 runs included one fifty and a spectacular unbeaten 142 in Lahore as Pakistan successfully chased 332 against an attack that included Jason Gillespie, James Hopes and Dan Cullen.

"We are struggling with an opening pair at the moment,"

Salahuddin Ahmed, the chief selector said.

"We are already playing Kamran as an opener to make place for an extra bowler."

"Latif is a very good, upcoming youngster and was in brilliant form against Australia A recently. He fully deserves his place in the squad. Hafeez has been released and he will go back to regain his form in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy."

It is understood that Latif will not play in Faisalabad but may get an opportunity later in the series. Still, Pakistan are likely to go in with their third different opening pair in as many matches; Nazir's continuing run of poor scores means Yasir Hameed will most likely open the innings with Akmal.

And in light of an impressive bowling performance in the second ODI, Pakistan will not risk Mohammad Asif for the third game. Asif sat out the first two matches with an elbow injury that flared up during the second Test in Lahore.


ICL has no case against Yousuf - PCB

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to defend Mohammad Yousuf and said that the Indian Cricket Leage (ICL) cannot stop him from playing for his country after the league organisers sent out a legal notice to the batsman.

"The ICL has no case against Yousuf and they cannot stop him from playing for Pakistan,"

Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, told the News.

"Yousuf did sign a contract with them but later he changed his mind and cancelled it. As a player he had the right to opt for any offer which he thought was better for him."

Yousuf, who after cancelling his contract with the ICL, signed a national contract as well as signing up to play in the India Premier League (IPL), a recognised league that is run by four different national boards and is approved by the ICC. He was served a legal notice by the ICL after several attempts to contact him failed.

"We can confirm that we have indeed sent out a notice to Yousuf,"

Ashish Kaul, executive president of the ICL, told Cricinfo last week.

"We have been trying to reach out to him and sent out three reminders to discuss some crucial issues after the PCB clarified recently that Yousuf will not play in the ICL and make himself available for Pakistan."

However, Ashraf rejected the impression that the ICL can use any legal ways to stop Yousuf from playing for Pakistan in India next month.

"The ICL is claiming that they will not stop any of their recruits from playing for their country then how can they stop Yousuf from representing Pakistan."

"The ICL did have a clause in their contract that said that a player cannot give priority to national duty over the ICL but now they say that the clause has been removed and they claim that their players can leave the league to play for their national teams whenever required. I believe in such circumstances they have no justification to stop Yousuf from playing in India."

Ashraf confirmed that if the matter was to go to court, Yousuf will have the full backing of the PCB.

"We will fully defend Yousuf, if he is taken to court using all legal means."

Yousuf recently represented Pakistan in the second Test against South Africa and is currently involved in the five-match ODI series against the same opposition, where he scored a match-winning hundred in the second match in Lahore.


Pakistan beat South Africa by 25 runs to level series 1-1

Saturday, October 20, 2007

LAHORE: Pakistani bowlers did splendid job to get Pakistan a marvelous 25-run victory over South Africa with three balls left after star batsman Muhammad Yousuf inspired with a magnificent century. Thus, the five-match series has been leveled 1-1 as the Protease had won the first match by 45 runs.

Set a target of 266 runs, South Africa made a disastrous start as they lost their two experienced batsmen Herschelle Gibbs and Jacquis Kallis in the first two overs for only four runs on the board. Both batsmen were out for a duck.

However, captain Graeme Smith and A.B. de Villiers rescued their team and carried the score to 80 when de Villiers was dismissed by Iftikhar Anjum for 35.

Then, wicket began to fall at regular intervals but Smith stood at the crease for long. Ultimately, he was dismissed by left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman for a solid 65, which he made off 96 balls with five fours.

Later, Shaun Pollock and Morkel resisted for a while but both got out for 37 and 31, respectively and then Umar Gul and Iftikhar Anjum mopped up the tail as South Africa were all out for 240 in 49.3 overs.

Iftikhar Anjum and Umar Gul captured three wickets each for 43 and 59, respectively while Sohail Tanveer, Abdul Rehman and Shahid Afridi took one wicket each.

Earlier, Muhammad Yousuf ‘s magnificent century helped Pakistan to make 265-9 in the allotted 50 overs.
He scored 117 runs, his second hundred against South Africa and 13th overall in 244 One-day Internationals. He faced 143 balls and hit nine boundaries. He was later adjudged the man-of-the-match.

During his innings, Yousuf was involved in three major partnerships – 60 with Younus Khan (32) for third wicket, 107 with Shoaib Malik (56) for fourth and 41 with Misbah-ul-Haq (21) for fifth wicket.

After winning the toss first time int the series, captain Shoaib Malik opted for batting but his openers let him down again as both were dismissed for 13 runs.

Then Yousuf and Younus took the score to safety and later Yousuf and Shoaib strengthened the position.

However, Shahid Afridi could not repeat the innings which he played in the previous match and after opening his account with a huge six was caught at boundary line on the very next ball.

From South Africa, pace bowlers Albie Morkel, Makhaya Ntini and Charl Langeveldt claimed two wickets each while Shaun Pollock and Jacquis Kallis got one wicket each.

Man of The Match: Muhammad Yousuf


Special flights for Pakistan team during series in India

LAHORE: The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) has approved the request from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for arranging special flights for the Pakistan team during the forthcoming series in India.

Director cricket operations of Pakistan Cricket Board, Zakir Khan told Geo News reporter Suhail Imran that the PCB had requested for arrangement of charter flights at four places to facilitate both teams during the series and the Indian board has accepted this request.

Thus, the players of both teams will travel at Guhati, Chandigarh, Kanpur and Gwaliar through special flights.

Zakir Khan further told that the objective of these flights is to save the players from anxiety.

Besides, the Indian board has also accepted the suggestions given for improvement of hotel and other logistics during the tour.


Akmal preparing for India with simulated surfaces

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kamran Akmal, the Pakistan wicketkeeper, is preparing for the tour to India by training in simulated situations and on surfaces he expects to encounter in the Tests and ODIs series. Akmal, who has been under fire for his wicketkeeping skills in recent months, said that he realised the importance of the Indian tour for his career.

"I went there [India] in 2005 and I have a fair idea of the sort of surfaces that could be used in the Tests in particular. I have started training by concentrating on my keeping and takes off the spinners,"

he said.

He admitted it was tough to keep on the slow Indian pitches and is therefore preparing himself for the challenge both mentally and physically. When Pakistan toured in 2005, the Test series was drawn and they won the ODI contest 4-2, but Akmal expected India to give a tougher fight this time.

"They have some good young players and they have more bowling options which has made them a more consistent side,"

Akmal, whose hundred in the first Test in Mohali saved the match, said, adding that he did not take the pressure of criticism about his 'keeping skills.

"It has been hard for me to ignore calls to replace me. It adds to the pressure but I am learning to accept these things. Watching the way Mark Boucher and Adam Gilchrist perform consistenly over the years is in itself a big motivation for me."

"I look at Boucher and Gilchrist and I know I can take the pressure and also play for a long time,"

Akmal said.

"I convince myself that if they can last for so long having battled through bad form or fitness issues, I know I can also do the same."

For Akmal, in these times of non-stop cricket, fitness was the focus.

"Unless you are 100 per cent fit, I don't think you can survive for long in international cricket. It has also helped me be mentally stronger and perform in pressure situations,"

he said.

"Cricket has changed. A wicketkeeper has to be able to bat like a proper batsman to keep his place in the team. The two [Boucher and Gilchrist] are prime examples. Our new trainer has helped me a lot. I am confident despite what people say that I can have a long career."


Malik, Asif, Younus join Indian Premier League

MUMBAI: Pakistan cricket team captain Shoaib Malik, fast bowler Muhammad Asif and star batsman Younus Khan have joined Indian Premier League (IPL).

According to vice-president of the Indian Cricket Board, Lalith Modi, these three Pakistani cricketers have joined the IPL, organized by the Board.

Besides, wicketkeeper batsman of New Zealand Brenden McCullum has signed agreement with the IPL.

According to Lalith Modi, after these four cricketers have joined the IPL, the number of players joining the IPL have become 29.

Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?