Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd semi-final, U-19 World Cup

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rain interruption Pakistan Under-19s 86 for 2 (Shehzad 40*, Amin 22*, Parnell 2-39) need 166 runs in 28.1 overs to beat South Africa Under-19s 260 for 8 (Smuts 58, Rossouw 53, Vandiar 50, Wasim 3-45) by D/L method

A monsoonal shower during the Pakistan run-chase forced the semi-final to be put on hold and the players will return on Saturday to resume the contest with Pakistan needing 166 runs to win in 28.1 overs with eight wickets in hand. There were two interruptions during Pakistan's run-chase: the first came in the 13th over, forcing the target to be cut from 261 to 252 off 47 overs, and the second downpour in the 19th over brought another halt, with the game seven balls short of the necessary 20 overs to produce a result. Pakistan ended the evening on 86 for 2 off 18.5 overs, and needed to be 91 for 2 after 20 to progress to the final.

It was perhaps fair that the game wasn't decided on a 20-over D/L result for South Africa had batted determinedly to post a sizable 260 for 8 off their 50 overs, which wasn't interrupted by a drop. Their batting has improved as the World Cup has progressed and a strong performance from the top order - JJ Smuts, Riley Rossouw and Jonathan Vandiar scored half-centuries - had set up a tough run-chase. Pakistan had also responded confidently: they lost two early wickets which put them behind the D/L requirement but Shehzad Ahmed and Umar Amin had added 69 runs for the third wicket to being them on par.

The pair began the recovery after Wayne Parnell struck a double blow in his second over: Umar Akmal spooned a catch to mid-on and Shan Masood had his leg stump uprooted by a ball that swung past his defences. Pakistan were struggling at 17 for 2 but Shehzad unfurled an array of attacking straight drives to maintain a high run-rate. The shots that stood out, however, were two lofted flicks off Matthew Arnold. Another wicket would have put Pakistan severely behind the D/L requirement but Shehzad, who also had a back problem, and Amir went about building the momentum seamlessly. However, they are still 166 runs away from the final and have the night to plan the run-chase.

South Africa, on the other hand, will be relieved that they can come back tomorrow because the slippery ball wasn't easy to control - they bowled 10 wides - and the wet conditions would have hampered their defence after their batsmen performed impressively. Ray Jennings, South Africa's coach, had warned the opposition against underestimating their batting - which had shown susceptibility against spin in earlier matches - and they backed up his confidence with their best performance of the tournament.

The pitch did nothing for the fast bowlers in terms of swing and seam movement, even though the skies were overcast, and South Africa batted sensibly. A slow run-rate at the start of an innings had been the feature of matches at the Kinrara Oval but the openers Smuts and Pieter Malan scored at nearly five an over. Smuts, a tall right-hand batsman, used his power to drive through cover and made room to hit the ball past mid-off to build the initial momentum.

Adil Raza, who struck twice in his first over against Australia, was insipid in his opening spell and prompted Imad Wasim, the captain, to bring him on from the other end. The change worked: Raza produced a sharp bouncer that hit Malan's top-edge and ballooned up to wicketkeeper Ali Asad.

Rossouw, who played a calm innings to secure a victory against West Indies, was confident from the outset. He hoisted medium-pacer Mohammad Rameez off his hips to the midwicket boundary and then cut Raza with precision through a tiny gap at point. He also focused on singles and rotated the strike with Smuts, who by now was well set and pulled confidently whenever the medium-pacers pitched short.

With his three quicks proving ineffective, Wasim turned to offspinner Akmal and brought himself on from the other end to try and break the partnership. The ploy did not work as Rossouw swept Akmal effectively while Smuts used his power to clout Wasim's left-arm spin to long-on and through midwicket. Rossouw hit the only six off the innings during this period, lofting Wasim over long-on.

The introduction of legspinner Shehzad eventually gave Pakistan the breakthrough. He bowled with four fielders in the circle on the off side and none on the leg, and invited Smuts to hit against the spin: he obliged and holed out to long-on for 58, ending a partnership of 91 for the second wicket. Rossouw fell soon after for 53, getting a leading edge to Akmal at short third man while trying to hit across the line.

From a position of strength at 126 for 1, South Africa stumbled to 142 for 3 with two brand new batsmen at the crease. Pakistan used the opportunity to slow the run-rate and Wasim removed three batsmen - Mohammad Vallie, Parnell and Roy Adams - before partnerships threatened to build.

However, Vandiar, who has batted aggressively throughout the tournament, kept the momentum going from one end with a plucky half-century. He played several orthodox cuts and drives interspersed with inside edges during his run-a-ball 50 and ensured that the initiative was not lost. Hendricks arrived right at the death overs and struck four fours in his 24 as Pakistan's fielding grew increasingly ragged, allowing South Africa to score 70 off the final ten overs.


Pentangular Cup, 3rd round, 1st day

North West Frontier Province 342 for 3 (Hameed 107, Mohmand 100, Alam 64*, Shehzad 53*) against Federal Areas

Yasir Hameed and Rafatullah Mohmand made contrasting centuries and added 196 for the opening wicket as North West Frontier Province finished the first day of their Pentangular Cup encounter against Federal Areas at the Arbab Niaz Stadium at a commanding 342 for 3.

Hameed blasted a 116-ball 107 that included 14 fours and a six while Mohmand consumed 160 balls for his 100 as the duo took full toll of the Federal Areas bowlers. Saeed Ajmal, the offspinner, struck back for Federal Areas by removing the openers in quick time. NWFP soon lost their third wicket when Wajahatullah Wasti was caught behind off Sohail Tanvir as they stuttered from 196 for 0 to 219 for 3.

But Aftab Alam and Khurram Shehzad dug in to score unbeaten half-centuries to consolidate NWFP's position, and they will be looking to extend their 123-run stand when they resume on the second day.

Sind 131 for 8 (Iqbal 46*, Irfan 3-35, Ahmed 3-37) trail Baluchistan 187 (Bin Nasir 45, Ali 4-41) by 56 runs

Seamers Faisal Irfan and Tanvir Ahmed, took three wickets apiece to restrict Sind to 131, still 56 runs adrift of Baluchistan's first-innings score of 187 on a green top at the Diamond Club Ground.

Sind collapsed to 67 for 7 before they were given a life line by a 59-run eighth-wicket stand between Faisal Iqbal, who remained unbeaten on 46 off 96 and Danish Kaneria, who scored 24.

Baluchistan also found it tough to get going, stuttering to 64 for 4 with opener Shoaib Khan jnr scoring 40 of those runs. Saeed Bin Nasir, with a 89-ball 45, and Bilal Khilji, with 29, then got the innings back on track by putting on 68 runs for the fourth wicket. But Sind were back in the hunt when Anwar Ali took three middle-order wickets before Kaneria finished off the tail by taking a couple of wickets.


Pakistan safe place for sports, says Lawson

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Australian Coach of Pakistan national team Jeff Lawson has said Pakistan is a safe place for sports.

Talking to media at Karachi’s National Stadium Thursday Lawson said recent visits of Australia A and Zimbabwe cricket teams highlight the sports-friendly environment in the country.

“Australian cricket team must visit Pakistan, which will provide an opportunity for Pakistani lovers of the sport to watch good cricket,”
Lawson said.

“ I want to watch playing Australia with Pakistan,”
he added.


Lawson wants more Tests for Pakistan

Geoff Lawson would like to see Pakistan playing more Test cricket over the next few years, but admits there is little that can be done about it.

Pakistan are scheduled to play only three Test series in two years and one less if Australia pull out of their scheduled tour to the country next month. As the Future Tours Programme (FTP) stands, Pakistan will play Australia next month, host India towards the end of this year and then go to Sri Lanka in July 2009. Their last Test series was in November-December last year against India.

"It is strange that that we play only three Test series in two years but I am not responsible for the FTP and I don't organize the programme,"
Lawson said at the National Stadium in Karachi.

"It's a little bit like India a few years back where we had lots of ODIs but few Tests. More Tests would be great sure."

Towards that end, Australia coming, even if for a shortened tour, would help and Lawson said that getting them over was the top priority.

"My first concern is that Australia come over,"

Lawson said.

"We can't affect what Cricket Australia or their players do but we can affect our own preparation and cricket. My focus is to make sure that our minds are on cricket and that we are mentally and physically ready to take on Australia when they do come."

Things are coming together for Pakistan in that respect. As ever, they will rely heavily on their pace attack for the series, in particular Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, who have both been out with injuries recently. Lawson said, however, that the pair was getting back to full fitness.

"They're both working hard at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore and are bowling again. Asif is bowling off a three-quarters run up and if his elbow holds up, he will come back an even better bowler.

"Gul has come back from Australia [after a check-up on his back] and has been cleared and is doing some gym work now."

Pakistan are also looking into the possibility of hiring a sports psychologist for the side, a recommendation that Lawson had made after the tour to India.

"We're in the process of trying to organize it,"

Lawson said. "Every major sporting team has one and we want to do everything to make our team the best side.

"I have suggested a few names from Australia who have experience with cricket, but I am also open to local names as they might understand and work with the Asian mindset better."


Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd semi-final, Under-19 World Cup

It hasn't rained in Malaysia for the majority of the Under-19 World Cup but the luck has turned as we approach the business end of the tournament. There were short but sharp showers during the semi-final between India and New Zealand and it rained heavily throughout the afternoon on the eve of the second semi-final between Pakistan and South Africa.

The coaches of Pakistan and South Africa, Mansoor Rana and Ray Jennings, said the rain, if it came in the evening, would favour the side batting under the lights. Although the batsmen will have to cope with sighting a muddy ball and grapple with a slower outfield, it's the bowling side that would suffer more with a slippery ball, especially their spinners. Rana felt India would have had a tougher chase against New Zealand had it not rained, while Jennings cited England's comfortable chase against Sri Lanka because rain interrupted play.

"You need a bit of luck when the weather's going wrong especially with the timing of the rain interruption,"

Jennings told Cricinfo.

"Sometimes it's in your favour and sometimes it is not. It can play havoc on preparations and the chances of the best side coming through. There's a definite advantage batting second if it does happen to rain"

Rana said Pakistan had game plans for any eventuality but given the inexperience of the players in high-pressure situations, it will be hard to adjust quickly should the weather intervene in a big way.

Head-to-head it's hard to choose between the two sides. South Africa have qualified from the toughest group, which included India and West Indies, and they crushed Bangladesh in the quarter-final. Their strength lies in their pace attack, led by captain Wayne Parnell, which is backed up by an agile fielding outfit. Their strategy has been to create pressure in their middle overs through the tight lines bowled by their medium-pacers, with wicketkeeper Bradley Barnes standing up to the stumps.

A chink could be their batting against quality spinners but Jennings brushed it off.

"I think a lot of people are underestimating our batting,"

Jennings said.

"We have a mix of left and right-handers in our middle order. In these conditions the opposition will be using three or four spinners and our middle-order plays spin well. Against India we lost wickets to the seam bowler [Pradeep Sangwan] up front, who our guys obviously lost focus against. Beware of our middle-order players, they can play spin."

Pakistan have an assortment of spinners to attack South Africa with. Imad Wasim, the captain, bowls left-arm orthodox, while their opening batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal bowl legbreaks and offspin respectively. However, it is their pace attack that has caused the most damage in the tournament so far and the South African batsmen better be wary of Adil Raza, who struck twice in his first over in the quarter-final against Australia.

The weakness for the defending champions has been their batting. Pakistan played their group matches in Johor where the wickets were damp and did not make 200 even once. Their first hit on a good batting track was against Australia and they chased 129 comfortably after a minor top-order wobble. Akmal hasn't fired at as opener so far in the tournament - his highest score is 17 - but Rana wasn't overly concerned.

"Our openers scored a lot of runs in Sri Lanka,"

he said.

"My concern was the middle order and that was the reason we batted first against Zimbabwe on a difficult pitch [in Johor]. We had already qualified for the quarters and wanted to test the batsmen. Ali Asad scored runs."

The tournament has boiled down to a fitting finish. Pakistan are unbeaten in the tournament so far while South Africa have lost only to India, who have already qualified for the final. The teams are highly skilled and a tense contest awaits. All that is needed is for the rain to stay away.


Pakistan to host Asia Cup from June 25

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pakistan will host the Asia Cup cricket tournament from June 25 in Karachi and Lahore, it was decided at a meeting between Cricket Board Chairman Nasim Ashraf and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) officials in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Talking to media after the meeting, Nasim Ashraf said Asia Cricket cup will be played in Pakistan from June 25 to July 6.

A PCB official said it was confirmed the Asia Cup would continue till July 6 and on the same day the ACC annual general body meeting would also be held in Karachi to hand over the Presidentship and charge of the ACC to Pakistan for a two-year period as per the rotation policy adopted by the continental body.

"The good thing is that India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have all confirmed their participation in the Asia Cup and that it should not be derailed even if Australia's tour to Pakistan is affected due to security reasons,"
he said.

The ACC will also celebrate its 25th founding anniversary with Pakistan wanting to invite some two dozen delegates from the ICC and member boards for the celebrations.

The official confirmed that Australia's revised itinerary now included two Tests and five one-day internationals instead of the original schedule of three Tests, five one-dayers and a Twenty20 match.

Regarding Australian team’s visit to the country, Nasim Ashraf said an Australian delegation will come to Pakistan on March 6 or 7 to examine the security situation.


Danish requests PCB not to stop him from county cricket

Test Leg Spinner Danish Kaneria said that the newspapers have distorted his statement which he gave to a website.

Talking to Geo News, he said he was sorry that his matter is before PCB Discipline Committee and that he did not give any statement against Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), adding he is playing international cricket for eight years and there has never been any conflict with him in the centre.

Danish Kaneria requested the PCB not to stop him from playing country cricket, adding cricket is his source of income.

He said that the selection committee does not select him for one-dayers and he has not been sent for IPL; accordingly, playing county would be a suitable option for him.

Danish said he was benefited from bowling in country cricket.


Warne wants spin emphasis on Pakistan tour

Shane Warne wants Australia to use this month's threatened cricket tour of Pakistan to re-build the nation's ailing spin reserves.

Warne, Australia's appointed "spin ambassador" following his retirement from international cricket last year, said an overseas tour was an ideal opportunity to build a potent spin combination for the future.

The Australian team has struggled this summer to fill the spin void left by Warne, who finished his playing career with a world record 708 wickets before it was overtaken by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan last December.

Warne spent Monday here with South Australia's out-of-favour Cricket Australia-contracted spinners, Daniel Cullen and Cullen Bailey.

If Australia's squad was chosen by Warne he would have all of Australia's leading spinners, Bryce McGain, Stuart MacGill, Brad Hogg and Cullen, included.

"Maybe for Pakistan they might have three or four in there and all just work together, a few younger guys around the Australian side, but they've got to warrant that as well,"

Warne told reporters Monday.

"Hopefully we can have them perform consistently well in first-class cricket, talk to captains, get their fields right, understand how it works and hopefully over coming seasons see spinners performing well."

But Australia's tour of Pakistan next month is still in doubt over security concerns.

Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said imminent advice from the country's foreign affairs department would be crucial in a final decision on whether to tour Pakistan.


Pakistan dump Australia from under-19 World Cup

Monday, February 25, 2008

Defending champions Pakistan stayed on course for a hat-trick of under-19 World Cup titles with a six-wicket win over Australia on Monday to enter the semi-finals.

Pakistan, who won the last two tournaments in 2004 and 2006, steamrolled Australia for 129 after electing to field and then surpassed the modest target in the 28th over at the Kinrara Oval.

New Zealand joined Pakistan, second-seeded India and South Africa in the semi-finals with a 80-run victory over Sri Lanka in the last quarter-final at the Royal Selangor Club here.

The young Kiwis scored 213 after being given first strike and then bowled out Sri Lanka for 133 in 42.1 overs.

India, runners-up to Pakistan in the 2006 event in Sri Lanka, clash with New Zealand in Wednesday's day-night semi-final at the Kinrara Oval.

Pakistan take on South Africa under lights in the other semi-final at the same venue on Friday.

Pakistan dominated a disappointing quarter-final from start to finish after captain Imad Wasim won the toss and sent the Australians in to bat.

Seamer Adil Raza grabbed the wickets of Phillip Hughes and Marcus Stoinis in the first over of the innings and the young Aussies were unable to recover from the disastrous start.

Steven Smith made 22 and James Pattinson chipped in with 34 but no other batsman was able to defy the accurate Pakistani attack.

Raza, a 16-year-old who hails from Gujranwala, finished with 3-26 while Wasim, Azhar Attari and Umar Akmal picked up two wickets each.

Pakistan stuttered in their reply when Josh Hazelwood removed Umar Amin and Umair Mir in the seventh over to reduce the champions to 32-3.

But Ahmad Shahzad and left-hander Ali Asad put on 95 for the fourth wicket to crush Australia's hopes.

Shahzad fell for 40 when three runs were needed for victory, while left-hander Asad was named man of the match for his unbeaten 63.

"It was good we won the toss because the ball was swinging a bit in the morning and helped our seamers," said Pakistan's coach Mansoor Rana.

"Even though we lost early wickets, I knew my batsmen were capable enough of chasing the target.

"I have not seen the South Africans play but I think it will be a good semi-final because South Africa is always a very competitive side."

In the other quarter-final, New Zealand put up a challenging 213 with opener George Worker making 48, captain Kane Williamson 34 and Fraser Colson 39.

Off-spinners Umesh Karunarathna and Roshan Silva claimed three wickets each, while left-arm slow bowler Navin Kavikara took two.

New Zealand seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult wrecked Sri Lanka's reply, reducing the Islanders to 44-4 by the 11th over.

Left-handed Sachith Pathirana was the lone batsmen to offer resistance, making a stroke-filled 42 before he was stumped off Nicolas Beard in the 34th over.

Southee finished with 3-25, Boult took 1-34 and India-born seamer Anurag Varma claimed 2-22.


Pentangular Cup, 2nd round, 3rd day

Federal Areas 597 for 8 (Ashraf 141, Tanvir 132, Saeed 109, Majeed 98, Anjum 56*, Hussain 3-71) beat Baluchistan 253 (Tariq 68, Aslam 51*, Tanvir 5-66, Arafat 4-83) and 132 (Tanvir 3-42) by an innings and 212 runs

Sohail Tanvir, the Pakistan left-arm bowler, scored his third first-class century, and then picked up three wickets as Baluchistan were routed for 132 - same as Tanvir's score - handing Federal Areas a massive win by an innings and 212 runs.

In Karachi, Federal Areas took 33 overs to push their overnight score of 441 for 7 to 597 for 8, and then required three deliveries less than 33 overs to bowl out Baluchistan. For Baluchistan, new-ball bowlers Abdur Rauf and Kamran Hussain didn't take the field and were out 'absent hurt' in their side's second innings.

The star of day was undoubtedly Tanvir. He had taken a five-for in Baluchistan's first innings, and extended his overnight unbeaten 38 to 132 before he was caught off Imranullah Aslam. Tanvir scored over three runs every four balls, and hit 19 fours and a six. He was involved in a 155-run stand with wicketkeeper Naeem Anjum, who was unbeaten on 56 when Federal Areas declared.

Naved Ashraf, the Federal Areas captain, then needed to only employ his quicker bowlers as they ran through the Baluchistan line-up. Tanvir picked up 3 for 42 from his 11.3 overs, while Yasir Arafat had figures of 12-2-39-2 and Shehzad Azam 9-0-48-2. Baluchistan's batsmen failed to put up a fight, with 26 being the top score.

North West Frontier Province 392 for 7 (Younis 117, Shehzad 41 Riaz 3-83) lead Punjab 354 by 38 runs

Younis Khan's 117 helped North West Frontier Province take the first-innings lead against Punjab in Lahore, but the match seems to be heading for a draw. Younis, unbeaten on 36, along with Khurram Shehzad added 73 runs for the fourth wicket, before Wahab Riaz removed Shehzad (41) with the score on 253. Adnan Raees then played out 95 deliveries for his 21, in a partnership of 66 with the NWFP captain. Younis hit 16 fours in his 117, before Abdur Rehman had him caught by Nasir Jamshed.

Riaz struck twice to remove Raees, and Mohammad Aslam for a duck, as NWFP stumbled from 319 for 4 to 337 for 7, still trailing by 17 runs. Wicketkeeper Zulfiqar Jan and Shakeel-ur-Rehman ensured there were no further wobbles as they took their team into the lead.

Jan was on 35 and Rehman on 21 as NWFP ended the day at 392, a lead of 38.


Indian cricket team not touring Pakistan

Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Dr Nasim Ashraf said that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) had expressed its willingness for tour of Pakistan but it was put off after the Indian players’ refusal.

Talking with media at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, Dr Nasim Ashraf told that the PCB had invited India to play three One-day Internationals in Pakistan but the BCCI expressed its inability due to busy schedule of the Indian team.

However, it was assured that the India’s team would visit Pakistan before the Asia Cup or the Champions Trophy.

The chairman PCB said that the Indian team’s refusal would not make any difference to the Australia’s tour of Pakistan.

He said that the negotiations are in process with the Cricket Australia and it is hoped that the Australian team would tour Pakistan from March 29.

Regarding a question asked about Shoaib Akhtar, Dr Nasim Ashraf said that Shoaib’s case is with the disciplinary committee and after receiving the final report it would be presented before the Board’s next meeting.


Asif and Gul all set to be seen in action

Pakistan are expected to receive a pace boost for next month’s proposed one-day series against India as fit-again pacers Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul are set to return to the line-up.

But a huge question mark continues to hang over the possibility of Shoaib Akhtar making his international return against Pakistan’s biggest rivals in the series that is likely to take place from March 14-18.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has finalised a charge-sheet against the enigmatic fast bowler and its disciplinary committee is expected to announce its verdict on the player’s case next week.

Apart from Shoaib’s case, things look rosy for the Pakistan team that is getting ready to take on world champions Australia at home later this spring.

And the biggest reason for such a scenario is the expected return of the previously injured pace duo of Asif and Gul.

Pakistan have been playing with an under-strength bowling attack since last October’s home series against South Africa during which Asif aggravated his elbow injury and has since been unavailable for national duty.

Asif, 25, who is regarded as the most lethal pacer in Pakistan’s bowling arsenal, last played for Pakistan in the Multan one-dayer against South Africa last October. He missed the tour of India and also failed to regain his match fitness for this year’s home series against Zimbabwe.

But the lanky medium pacer has now completely recovered after undergoing key-hole surgery on his elbow in Australia.

Asif, who has taken 51 Test wickets from 11 matches and 31 ODI scalps from 29 appearances, is now all set to return to the Pakistan line-up next month if India confirm their participation in the series.

The Indian cricket board was supposed to inform the PCB about their decision on the proposed series on Saturday. But PCB officials say they are yet to receive a confirmation on the series.

Umar Gul’s case is a bit trickier as his chronic back problem make him a doubtful starter for the India assignment.

Gul, 23, broke down after the ODI series against India and had to miss the three Tests and later the games against Zimbabwe. He has been in training for a few weeks but complains of a stiff back every now and then.

But chief selector Salahuddin Ahmed said on Saturday that he has received ‘positive reports’ about the bowler.

“We are hearing positive reports about both Asif and Gul and will love to have them in the bowling attack,”
he told ‘The News’.

Salahuddin, a former Test cricketer, said that Pakistan will need all the fire in their bowling attack as they will most probably be taking on two of the world’s leading teams — India and Australia — in March and April.

“We have been a bit unfortunate in recent months because some of our frontline bowlers were injured,”
he said.
“But now we will be getting back soon and that is great news considering the fact that Pakistan will be playing against top teams like Australia and India,”
he said.

The chief selector said that unlike Asif and Gul, he was unaware whether Shoaib will be available for the home season.

When contacted by this correspondent, a top PCB official said that a charge-sheet has been prepared against the bowler and a final decision on his case is expected from the Board’s disciplinary committee next week.


Pakistan beaten by South Africa in Women’s World Cup Qualifier final

Opening bowler Alicia Smith took five wickets for seven runs as South Africa outclassed Pakistan by eight wickets in the final of the Women's World Cup Qualifier tournament at the Stellenbosch University ground Sunday.

Pakistan were bowled out for 61 after winning the toss and batting in sunny weather. South Africa needed only 13.4 overs to secure victory.

Consolation for Pakistan was that they qualified for the Women's World Cup, to be held in Australia in March 2009 because the top two teams from the tournament went

Smith struck with her first delivery when she trapped Bismah Maroof leg before wicket and she conceded only two runs off the bat in eight overs. She bowled five wides.

Extras were the highest contributor to the total with 26, including 15 wides.

Only opener Taskeen Qadeer, with 12, reached double figures for Pakistan - and she was dropped at second slip off Dinesha Devnarain off the third ball of the match before she had scored.

Pakistan's strength during the tournament was their bowling and Asmavia Iqbal struck twice with the new ball to reduce South Africa to 13 for two. But Claire Terblanche and Susanna Benade put on an unbeaten 48 for the third wicket.

South African captain Cri-Zelda Brits said her team had worked hard.
"Now we want to be a team that competes at the World Cup,"
she said. South Africa were forced to play in the qualifying event after finishing seventh of the eight teams that played in the 2005 World Cup played in South Africa.

Pakistan captain Urooj Mumtaz said she was disappointed with her team's batting but proud that they had qualified for the World Cup.

"We don't play that many international games but we know that we will be facing some good teams at the World Cup so we will have to step up as far as our batting is concerned,"
said Mumtaz.

"We will be playing in the Asia Cup soon against India and Sri Lanka, who are ranked second and fifth in the world, so it will be a good test for us."


Pentangular Cup, 2nd round, 2nd day

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Federal Areas 441 for 7 (Ashraf 141, Saeed 109, Majeed 98, Hussain 3-71) lead Baluchistan 253 by 188 runs

Federal Areas began the second day on 79 for 3 in Karachi and were in a position where they could have frittered away the advantage of having restricted Baluchistan to 253. However, their batsmen produced a solid performance and they finished the day with a lead of 188.

Raheel Majeed and Usman Saeed, who produced impressive performances in against Punjab, set the day's tone for run-scoring, adding 94 before their 121-run fourth-wicket stand came to an end.

Majeed fell for 98 to Bilal Khilji, while Usman Saeed was trapped leg-before by Kamran Hussain for 109, which included 16 boundaries. Naved Ashraf, the Federal Areas captain, ensured more misery for the Baluchistan bowlers, as he scored a brisk 141 off 200 balls, studded with 24 fours and two sixes.

Left-arm spinner Saeed Anwar ended Ashraf's innings, and Hussain removed allrounder Yasir Arafat for a duck, but Sohail Tanvir was unbeaten on 38 as his team reached 441 for 7 at stumps and were very much in control of the game.

North West Frontier Province 181 for 3 (Mohmand 54, Younis 36*, Shehzad 0*) trail Punjab 354 (Butt 72, Misbah 53, Riaz 44) by 173 runs

After bowling out Punjab for 354, North West Frontier Province made good progress in reply, and were at 181 for 3 by the close.

Punjab, who began the day on 295 for 7, managed to reach 354 thanks to 44 from No. 10 Wahab Riaz. Fazl-e-Akbar removed the overnight batsmen - Waqas Ahmed and Junaid Zia - but Riaz hung around for 72 balls and added 39 with last man Aizaz Cheema, who scored an unbeaten 10. Fazl-e-Akbar finished with 4 for 74, while Samiullah Khan and Shakeel-ur-Rehman bagged a couple apiece.

NWFP were given a good start by Rafatullah Mohmand and Yasir Hameed. The pair added 82 before Hameed fell for 37 while Mohmand went on to make 54. Wajahatullah Wasti, the former Pakistan batsman, scored 39 off 101 balls and Younis Khan added 36 off 51 balls. Younis was undefeated at stumps, with NWFP needing 174 more to take a first-innings lead. For Punjab, Waqas Ahmed, Junaid Zia and Abdur Rehman chipped in with a wicket apiece.


Unsold Yousuf Will Still Cash In

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed the Indian Premier League (IPL) will still pay batsman Mohammad Yousuf despite his failure to make it into a franchise team.

There were no bids for the 33-year-old in Wednesday's player auction, mainly because of a dispute between the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the IPL.

Yousuf had initially signed up for the ICL but the PCB then persuaded him to revoke the contract and sign a deal with the IPL instead.

Now Yousuf is fighting a legal battle with the ICL with the league keen to stop the batsman from playing in the IPL.

However, PCB's media director Ahsan Hameed Malik maintains that Yousuf will get his contract amount of $350,000 from the IPL authorities.

Halik told the Dawn:

"Though no one came forward to bid for Yousuf, like many other international cricketers, the IPL has fixed $350,000 as the starting bid for him which he will get from the authorities."

Seven other Pakistan cricketers - Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul and Kamran Akmal - were bought by various IPL franchises on Wednesday.


Under-19 World Cup 2008, 6th day

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bangladesh U-19s 149 (Shuvo 56*, Harris 5-29) beat England U-19s 136 (Hasan 2-16, Nasir Hossain 2-20) by 13 runs

Bangladesh, who were 49 for 7 at one stage, launched an amazing rearguard-act to clinch a 13-run scrap over England at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur to finish at the top of Group D. Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals, where Bangladesh will take on South Africa and England will face India.

After Bangladesh had managed 149, James Taylor started off England's reply in aggressive fashion, striking two fours in his 24 before he nicked Rubel Hossain to wicketkeeper Ashiqul Islam. It got worse for England with two run-outs on either side of Greg Wood's dismissal by Nasir Hossain - Ben Godleman and captain Alex Wakely returning to the pavilion after scoring 8 and 10 respectively. England had been reduced to 69 for 4, but Tom Westley (21) and Daniel Redfern (26) stemmed the rot by adding 44 runs for the fifth wicket. However, they failed to take their team to victory, and were bowled within the space of five balls by Suhrawadi Shuvo and Mahmudul Hasan. The two wickets sparked England's collapse, and they ended up losing their last six wickets for the addition of only 23 runs.

Earlier, Taylor, who dismissed Ashraful Hossain off the second ball of the day, took five to send Bangladesh crashing to 27 for 6. Nadimuddin was caught by Godleman, Nasir Hossain and Rony Talukder were bowled, while Mahmudul Hasan was trapped lbw. Bangladesh's captain, Shuvo, knuckled down to score a patient 100-ball 56 and added a vital 81 for the eighth wicket with Dolar Mahmud (36 off 77 balls). The end of Bangladesh's innings was brought about once Mahmud was caught and bowled by Westley, after which Rubel and Subashis Roy were run out by Godleman. Bangladesh may have been disappointed after consuming only 42 of their allotted 50 overs, but their total of 149 proved to be enough in the end.

Pakistan U-19s 173 for 8 (Asad 76*, Jarvis 3-40) beat Zimbabwe U-19s 86 (Rameez 3-26) by 87 runs

After being restricted to 173, Pakistan knocked over Zimbabwe for 86 to finish the league phase with an unbeaten record. Pakistan next face Australia in the quarter-finals while Zimbabwe, having lost all their three matches, will have to fight it out for the Plate Championship.

Zimbabwe's opening bowlers, Kyle Jarvis and Prince Masvaure, wrecked the Pakistan top order to leave them at a perilous 21 for 4. Umair Mir and wicketkeeper Ali Asad salvaged the situation with a patient 64-run stand. Asad top scored with an unbeaten 76 off 124 balls; he was the only batsman to score more than 25 in the match. Jarvis was Zimbabwe's most successful bowler with three wickets, while Stewart Matsika chipped in with an economical 10-1-27-2.

Zimbabwe never looked likely to chase down the target. Pakistan's quicks Adil Raza and Mohammad Rameez shared five wickets to reduce Zimbabwe to 49 for 5 by the 14th over. Justin Gainsford hung around for a 53-ball 18 and Edzai Jaure made 17, but the formalities were completed in 29 overs with Pakistan securing an 87-run victory.


Ashraf optimistic for Australian team tour after peaceful polls

Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Dr. Nasim Ashraf said that a chances of arrival of Australian team is further brightening after peace full polls.

Talking to media after U-16 cricket cup final, Ashraf said that Australian team would reach Pakistan in the last week of March. PCB, meanwhile, is mulling over to organize mini one-day series against different teams including India.

Security team of Australia has agreed to review the security arrangements and Pakistani grounds after the peaceful elections in the country. Venues of the matches would be decided after the arrival of security team, added Ashraf.


Pentangular Cup, 2nd round, 1st day

Federal Areas 79 for 3 (Majeed 42*, Saeed 13*) trail Baluchistan 253 (Tariq 68, Aslam 51*, Tanvir 5-66, Arafat 4-83) by 174 runs

Sohail Tanvir justified the Federal Areas' stand-in captain Naved Ashraf's decision to field first by taking five wickets to help bowl out Baluchistan for 253 at the National Stadium in Karachi. But Federal Areas conceded a bit of the advantage when they lost two quick wickets before the close of play to end the first day at 79 for 3.

The Baluchistan openers Shoiab Khan and Usman Tariq walked out to bat in the three-hour first session and the duo added 41 runs before Shoiab was trapped by seamer Yasir Arafat for 25. Tanvir then took centre stage in a marathon 15-over opening spell, taking three wickets in succession to send Baluchistan crashing from 78 for 1 to 92 for 4. But Tariq scored a defiant half-century and added 73 runs for the fifth wicket with Nasim Khan (31) to stem the rot. But Baluchistan once again faltered, losing five wickets for the addition of 35 runs, with Tanvir claiming the vital wicket of Tariq for 68. Imranullah Aslam, the No. 10 batsman, then frustrated Federal Areas by striking an unbeaten 46-ball 51 which included nine fours, and adding 53 runs for the last wicket with Azharullah (20). Baluchistan's innings came to a close when Azharullah was trapped by Saeed Anjwal, the only spinner to find any success on the first day.

Federal Areas were in trouble just as they began their response when Kamran Hussain had Afaq Raheem caught behind for 2. Raheel Majeed and Fayaaz Ahmed pushed the score past fifty before Azharullah struck back with a double-strike: Ahmed was caught behind while Bazid Khan fell without scoring. But Majeed, who remained unbeaten on 42, and Usman Saeed, who struck a couple of fours on his way to 13, ensured there was no further damage.

Punjab 295 for 7 (Butt 72, Misbah 53) v North West Frontier Province

Punjab's star-studded batting line-up threatened to launch a run-fest, but none of their batsman, including Salman Butt, who top-scored with 72, were able to capitalise on their starts as they scored 295 for 7 on the first day against NWFP at the Gaddafi Stadium.

Earlier NWFP found immediate success after choosing to bowl when Fazl-e-Akbar has Mohammad Hafeez caught behind by Zulfiqur Jan. But Butt turned things around by displaying the same sort of form that saw him make 290 against Federal Areas in the first round of the Pentangular Cup as he reached his half-century in a 60-run second-wicket stand with Nasir Jamshed (16). Akbar returned to remove Jamshed, but that brought Misbah-ul-Haq to the crease. But Misbah and Butt did not spend too much time together when the latter was run-out after a misunderstanding as Punjab stuttered to 112 for 3.

Misbah then set about consolidating the innings as he scored 53 runs of 149 balls and adding 76 runs for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik (41). But once the duo were dismissed by Samiullah Khan and Shakell-ur-Rehman respectively, Kamran Akmal breezed his way to a 74-ball 40, striking six fours and a six to add some quick runs. Waqas Ahmed (12*) and Junaid Zia (10*) were then involved in an unbroken 25-run stand for the eighth wicket before stumps were drawn.


ICC Women's World Cup Qualifiers, 4th day round-up

South Africa 108 for 3 (Anderson 46*) beat Ireland 107 (C Joyce 43*) by seven wickets

South Africa secured their place in the 2009 Women's World Cup after overpowering Ireland by seven wickets. South Africa have been a cut above the other teams seen in the tournament and proved too powerful as they knocked off the target with more than 22 overs to spare.

"We're really relieved and very happy to have pulled it off,"

captain Cri-Zelda Brits said.

"The team haven't let me down since I've taken over the captaincy and we've stuck at it and come to the party at this event with the bowling."

The victory was set-up by another impressive bowling performance. Ireland suffered an early setback when Isobel Joyce was caught behind for 0 and the innings never got off the ground. Sunette Loubser produced another miserly spell of offspin and claimed two middle-order scalps while sharp fielding engineered three run outs.

Cecelia Joyce fought hard and carried her bat with a determined 43, however the fact it took 143 deliveries show how difficult it was for the Irish.

Isobel Joyce caused a few early alarms in South Africa's chase with two wickets but there wasn't enough firepower to seriously trouble the home side. Olivia Anderson anchored the innings and the job was finished off in rapid fashion by Annelie Minnie's breezy 27.

Ireland captain Heather Whelan said:

"I think everybody is absolutely gutted. We trained so hard for so long for this in order to try to go to the World Cup in Australia but it's not going to be.

"We're not going to the World Cup but we will battle on and we'll be here again in four years looking for a place in the World Cup and we expect to make it next time."

Pakistan women 162 (Bismah 45, Egging 3-23) beat Netherlands women 68 (Tanke 41, Sajida 3-14) by 94 runs

A superb performance from Pakistan's bowlers, dismissing Netherlands for just 68, handed their team a fine 94-run win and entry into the 2009 World Cup.

Pakistan's meagre total of 162 was set up by their openers, Tasqeen Qadeer and Bismah Maroof, who put on 79 for the opening wicket. But Netherlands' bowlers hit back, prompting a collapse in which Pakistan lost 9 for 83 in 25 overs. Bismah Maroof top-scored with 45 from 77 balls but, after her and Tasqueen (27), only Sana Javed reached double figures as the lower-order capitulated to Lotte Egging's medium-pacers.

A target of 163, however, proved more than enough. Violet Wattenberg fell to the second ball of Netherlands' chase, edging Asmavia Iqbal straight to slip, while Helmien Rambaldo was bowled by Qanita Jalil to leave them on 0 for 2. Annemarie Tanke cracked five fours in her brave 41 from 70 balls and Caroline de Fouw remained unbeaten on a defiant 11 (from 44 balls), but there was little else from Netherlands' lower order who were skittled for 68 in the 32nd over.

"It's an absolutely awesome feeling. I can't tell you how amazing it feels,"

said Urooj Mumtaz, the Pakistan captain. "That was the task we came here to do and I think we pulled off a great win. We are very excited to be going to the World Cup.

"Every single girl did their job on and off the field. In fielding, batting and bowling, everybody did their task - it was an absolutely brilliant performance."

Pakistan meet South Africa - who beat Ireland in the other semi-final today - for the tournament's final on Sunday.

5th place play-off semi-finals

In the battle for the remaining places, Scotland overcame Papua New Guinea by four wickets to move into the play-off final and Zimbabwe took on Bermuda, who have been embarrassingly out of their depth throughout the tournament.


Shoaib`s Commitment Questioned

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Nasim Ashraf has questioned Shoaib Akhtar's desire to play for the national team.

Shoaib, who was signed by Kolkata for $425,000 in Wednesday's Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, has been under-fire from the PCB following a series of run-ins with the governing body.

The 32-year-old initially refused to answer a PCB notice sent to him last year after he criticised the board for questioning his fitness on the tour to India in December.

Shoaib later changed his mind and replied to the letter, which also included an apology, however the PCB is now set to put the case in front of a disciplinary committee.

"His case is not closed. He has breached the code of conduct and we will refer his case to the PCB disciplinary committee. The committee will decide his future,"

Ashraf told the Daily News.

But the chairman is certain that Shoaib has no interest in Pakistan cricket as the fast bowler decided against asking the PCB for a 'No Objection Certificate' before approaching the IPL.

Ashraf said:

"When the PCB issues an NOC to any player it means the player is bound to play for the national team whenever required.

"And the NOC is issued only to those players who are playing under the conditions applied by the board.

"Since Shoaib did not ask for the NOC and joined the IPL on his own, this clearly suggests that he has no intentions of playing for the national side."

The PCB has failed to rein in Shoaib, who is currently under probation and without a central contract, since the World Twenty20 incident when the fast bowler hit team-mate Mohammad Asif with a bat.


Indian Cricket team to tour Pakistan next month

The Pakistan Cricket Board has formally extended an invitation to India so that the three One-day match series could take place next month.

Talking to Geo News here on Thursday, PCB’s Chief Operating Officer, Shafqat Naghmi said the BCCI had given a positive response in this regard. He said that three One-day match series was likely to be played between two traditional rivals in the mid of March 2008.

“They have shown a positive response, however, we have not yet received any official confirmation from the BCCI”,
PCB’s COO added.

Shafqat said the proposed series was not an alternate to the Australian visit since according to newly held negotiation; the Australian team could tour Pakistan in March.


No Pakistani among the million-dollar men

It seems that even a close friendship with Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan wasn’t good enough to help Pakistan’s pace star Shoaib Akhtar become one of IPL’s million-dollar men.

Shoaib was not the only Pakistani star snubbed by auctioneers in Mumbai. Former Pakistan captain Younis Khan, regarded among the world’s most prolific batsmen, failed to impress the franchisees. None of them opted to bid for him and finally it was Jaipur, which picked him for a base price of US$225,000.

Mohammad Yousuf, who broke the record of the highest number of Test runs in a calendar year in 2006, was snatched away by the IPL from rival Indian Cricket League (ICL) last year. But the star Pakistani batsman was disposed of in the reserve pool after none of the bidders went for him at the high-profile auction.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik got half-a-million dollars from Delhi in spite of what he terms as an ‘internet’ controversy against him run by the Indian media which alleges he secretly married an Indian girl and is now refusing to own it.

But the biggest Pakistani beneficiary of the IPL is injury-prone medium pacer Mohammad Asif. Though he hasn’t played any cricket in recent months because of an elbow injury and is still recovering from a surgery, Asif was deemed good enough by Delhi for a US$650,000 price tag.

Pakistan’s experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, however, was unable to attract any bids and was taken by Jaipur for a base price of US$150,000.It’s not that these price tags aren’t cool. But analyse this: Players like Chris Gayle ($800,000) Brendon McCullum ($700,000) and Shanthakumaran Sreenath ($625,000) will be paid much more than Malik, Shoaib and Younis Khan.


No Pakistani among the million-dollar men

It seems that even a close friendship with Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan wasn’t good enough to help Pakistan’s pace star Shoaib Akhtar become one of IPL’s million-dollar men.

Shoaib was not the only Pakistani star snubbed by auctioneers in Mumbai. Former Pakistan captain Younis Khan, regarded among the world’s most prolific batsmen, failed to impress the franchisees. None of them opted to bid for him and finally it was Jaipur, which picked him for a base price of US$225,000.

Mohammad Yousuf, who broke the record of the highest number of Test runs in a calendar year in 2006, was snatched away by the IPL from rival Indian Cricket League (ICL) last year. But the star Pakistani batsman was disposed of in the reserve pool after none of the bidders went for him at the high-profile auction.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik got half-a-million dollars from Delhi in spite of what he terms as an ‘internet’ controversy against him run by the Indian media which alleges he secretly married an Indian girl and is now refusing to own it.

But the biggest Pakistani beneficiary of the IPL is injury-prone medium pacer Mohammad Asif. Though he hasn’t played any cricket in recent months because of an elbow injury and is still recovering from a surgery, Asif was deemed good enough by Delhi for a US$650,000 price tag.

Pakistan’s experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, however, was unable to attract any bids and was taken by Jaipur for a base price of US$150,000.It’s not that these price tags aren’t cool. But analyse this: Players like Chris Gayle ($800,000) Brendon McCullum ($700,000) and Shanthakumaran Sreenath ($625,000) will be paid much more than Malik, Shoaib and Younis Khan.


ICC delegation to visit Pakistan in March

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The delegation of International Cricket Council (ICC) will visit Pakistan next month to review the arrangements for the Champions Trophy.

According to the schedule, the Champions Trophy would be convened in September-October of current year.

The ICC delegation visited Pakistan last year in November; however, they left back for Dubai in view of the situation following the promulgation of emergency.

Now the ICC delegation will review the security conditions, matches, warm-up matches and practice matches venues.

The dates for the visit have not been finalized; however, the delegation is likely to visit Pakistan in the second March week.


Cricket board lobbies for more games

In what they term as a major breakthrough, Pakistani cricket officials have managed to fill in the blanks in their Future Tour Programme (FTP) by lining up 38 one-day internationals against some of the world's leading teams over the next few years.

A top Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) official told The News that after a series of meetings with leading cricket officials of various Test-playing nations and some extensive lobbying, the PCB has fixed ample number of one-day Internationals against five of the top sides between 2008-2010.

The games are in addition to the Tests and ODIs Pakistan are scheduled to play under the International Cricket Council's FTP.

"It is a major breakthrough,"

Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's chief operating officer, said from Kuala Lumpur.

"Our team had a slim international schedule over the next few years but we have managed to fill it up by finalising over three dozen matches against some of the world's top teams."

Naghmi said the matches have been arranged against South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and West Indies. In his opinion the ICC short-changed Pakistan when it drew up the five-year FTP in 2004.

"It was really a frustrating situation for us,"

Naghmi said.

"I mean our team had no international commitment after playing a series against India later this year for almost the next 10 months."

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding Australia's forthcoming tour of Pakistan, with the latest news being that the visitors want the trip shortened. The PCB expects the ICC to help convince Australia, who have expressed concern over touring Pakistan for three Tests and five ODIs because of security reason, to tour next month.

Naghmi pointed out that after hosting India, Pakistan had to wait till November 2009 to play their next Test (against Australia in Australia). The PCB had targeted an ICC moot that is under progress in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the next FTP, with the goal being to convince other boards to help out.

Before going to Kuala Lumpur, Naghmi and other PCB officials visited India and Sri Lanka in a bid to fill in their FTP gaps. Apart from lining up further ODIs Pakistan have also convinced India to revive a three-nation series that was earlier scrapped because of a hectic schedule. Pakistan, India and hosts Bangladesh will clash in the tri-series in June ahead of the 2008 Asia Cup, scheduled to be held in Pakistan later that month.

Naghmi said that New Zealand have agreed to visit Pakistan to play five ODIs in September. Next June, Pakistan will play a tri-nation series in the Caribbean after which West Indies will visit for a return series. Pakistan have also tied up a home-and-away series against Sri Lanka next year. South Africa will also play a five-match ODI series in Pakistan next year.

Pakistan were unable to add any more Tests to their current FTP.


Australia consider a shorter trip

Andrew Symonds says he is likely to pull out of Australia's tour of Pakistan next month even if Cricket Australia declares the country safe to visit. Symonds has voiced his concerns about playing cricket in Pakistan following the assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December, but he made his position even plainer when speaking on Australian television on Wednesday.

"I don't think I would go,"

he told Channel Ten.

"I just dread to think what would happen if someone got hurt, let alone killed. It's just a situation you'd never want to find yourself in."

Symonds said Cricket Australia was aware of his views about the tour, which may be delayed by a month and shortened by 18 days after officials of the two boards met in Kuala Lumpur to thrash out a deal to save the trip.

The players are so concerned about the safety situation in the country, which held elections on Monday, that there are reports other individuals may also boycott the visit and a second-string side might have to be sent. Last week the Australian said some players were reluctant to travel to Pakistan and the Herald Sun has quoted an unnamed team source saying:

"There is no way the players want to go."

"Nothing has changed,"

the paper reported a "high-ranking cricket source".

"A few weeks isn't going to make much difference here or there. There are a lot of players who will decide not to go. Australia may have to field a second-string side if the tour goes ahead."

The original 48-day itinerary has been culled to 30 in a bid to stop the trip being cancelled and the schedule of three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 will be reviewed. Cricket Australia is due to send a security delegation to Pakistan in early March - if it is safe - to assess the venues and off-field arrangements. A joint statement by the boards said:

"Subject to the appropriate security clearance, and by mutual consent, the tour would be compressed and will be played tentatively between March 29 and April 27."

"We were assured that Cricket Australia was committed to touring Pakistan,"

Shafqat Naghmi, Pakistan's chief operating officer, said after talks in Kuala Lumpur. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, said Australia

"remain committed to tour Pakistan and the PCB's preparedness to take a flexible approach to this tour is much appreciated".

"This delay will certainly assist us to better assess the post-election situation in Pakistan,"

Sutherland said. Last week Pakistan suggested Sri Lanka as an alternative venue if Australia was not content with the security arrangements, and India has also been mentioned as a possible substitute.


Shoaib Akhtar tenders unconditional apology to PCB

Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has apologized unconditionally to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for criticizing it.

The PCB sources told Geo News representative Syed Yahya Hussaini that Shoaib Akhtar in reply to show-cause notice has tendered apology to the cricket board.

The PCB had issued notice to Shoaib Akhtar for criticizing the Board on the eve of the Pentangular Cup. He was asked to clarify his statement but Shoaib had initially refused to give any reply or explaination.

However, he has now taken a U-turn and apologized uncondionally.

A decision on the Shoaib Akhtar issue is expected to be made by the Board’s disciplinary committee on Wednesday.


Yorkshire Issue Warning To Rana

Yorkshire are furious with Pakistan fast bowler Rana Naved-ul-Hasan after he signed up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL) despite fears that he could aggravate his shoulder injury.

Rana's is due to arrive at Yorkshire in June, but was only expected to start playing top-level cricket in June as his shoulder is still giving him trouble.

Yorkshire Chief Executive Stewart Regan has warned the 30-year-old that the county could review his contract.

"We have written a strong letter to the player and his agent expressing our concern,"

Regan told the Yorkshire Post.

"We have advised Rana that we are not happy and we reserve the right to review his contract when he comes here.

"If there are any suggestions that his injury has been aggravated by playing in that tournament, it could impact on the contract he has to play for us in 2008 and 2009.

"His contract with Yorkshire does not start until April so we cannot prevent him from playing in the ICL. What disappoints us is that he has gone against the advice that the club has given him.

"If we wanted, we could have exercised our get-out clause in December. We could have said 'thanks, but we're not prepared to take the risk'. We have backed him, because he is a player who excites us. He wants to come to Yorkshire - he turned down the chance to go to Leicestershire for more money. We are investing in him for the long-term."


Australia to send security team to Pakistan

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cricket Australia will send a security team to Pakistan to assess the security of the venues for their proposed tour next month. If the findings allow the tour to go ahead, it will be compressed down from 48 days to 30.

The decision was made between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in an ICC meeting in Kuala Lumpur today, following Australia's unease over the political upheaval in the country. Last week Pakistan suggested Sri Lanka as an alternative venue, should Australia not be content with the security arrangements, and India has also been mentioned as a possible substitute.

"I am glad that we had very open and fruitful discussions with CA where we were assured that CA was committed to touring Pakistan,"

Shafqat Naghmi, Pakistan's chief operating officer, said. James Sutherland, CA's chief executive, said Australia

"remain committed to tour Pakistan"

while adding that

"the delay will certainly assist us to better assess the post-election situation in Pakistan."


Yousuf blocked from Indian Premier League

Mohammad Yousuf, the Pakistan batsman, may not be available for the Indian Premier League's auction on Wednesday because of a legal complication. Lawyers for the Indian Cricket League (ICL) have, in a letter to the owners of the IPL's eight franchises, said Yousuf's legal status is currently the subject of arbitration, under which his participation in the IPL has been stayed.

"Mohammad Yousuf cannot participate in the tournament organised by the IPL or any other tournament organised by any other league in direct competition with the Indian Cricket League,"

ALMT, the lawyers representing the ICL, said in the letter.

"Such participation would amount to breach of the order and our client reserve their right to take such other legal recourse against all parties concerned."

Yousuf initially signed up with the ICL after being dropped from Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20 last September. Soon after, however, he was convinced by the PCB to turn his back on the ICL, represent Pakistan and also sign up with the IPL, the rival tournament officially sanctioned by the BCCI.

The matter went into arbitration where Yousuf's lawyer, Tafuzzal Rizvi, argued he had "no contract" with the ICL as the money [paid to Yousuf] was "received back by the ICL without any objection". However the presiding judge passed an order on December 15, 2007, restraining Yousuf from appearing in the IPL or any league rivalling the ICL, and to maintain status quo till further orders.

Wednesday's high-profile auction in Mumbai will see the eight franchises bid for 80-odd players, including several top internationals. Yousuf's name is included in the IPL's roster but whether it will be there on Wednesday morning is a moot point.


Under-19 World Cup 2008, 3rd day

England U-19s 56 for 0 (Taylor 43*) beat Bermuda U-19s 55 (Douglas 21, Dawson 3-15) by 10 wickets

England outclassed Bermuda by ten wickets after knocking them over for 55 in the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur. Chasing 56 was never going to pose much of a problem, with James Taylor striking an unbeaten 43 which included eight fours.

Bermuda were in self-destruct mode from the moment they chose to bat, losing their first four wickets to the new-ball combination of Steven Finn and James Harris. The two snared two wickets apiece as Bermuda slumped to 29 for 4.

Christopher Douglas (21) was the only Bermuda batsman to reach double figures as they folded up in 28.5 overs. Eight of the batsmen couldn't even reach 5 and it was only thanks to the 11 extras that the total crossed 50. Liam Dawson, the left-arm spinner, took three wickets to emerge and was duly rewarded with the Man-of-the-Match award.

Australia U-19s 206 (Hughes 46, Pascoe 37, Khadka 4-32, Shrestha 3-32) beat Nepal U-19s 110 (Vishwakarma 33, Rose 3-21, Pattison 3-25) by 96 runs

Australia exposed Nepal's batting frailties by bowling them out for 110 on course to their 107-run win at the University Sains Malaysia ground. Nepal's bowlers had done a good job by restricting Australia to 206 but their batsmen crumbled during the run-chase.

Nepal's pursuit got off to an inauspicious start when Mahesh Chhetri was run out by Philip Hagues and they soon collapsed to 36 for 4 when right-arm seamer James Pattison prised out three wickets. Clive Rose, the left-arm spinner, then took the next three wickets to fall: he had Rom Shreshtha and Sagar Khadka caught by captain Micheal Hill, before trapping Antim Thapa lbw. Rahul Vishwakarma had some fun out in the middle, smashing a six and three fours to remain unbeaten on 33, before Steven Smith removed the tail-enders with his legspin.

Australia had made a solid start, with Hughes and Kirk Pascoe putting on 62 runs for the first wicket. But the tide turned in Nepal's favour once Pascoe was bowled by Shrestha. Hill showed aggressive intent, striking a six and a four, but he tried one shot too many against Shrestha.

Once Hughes, who was guiding Australia's innings, was stumped off the bowling of Vishwakarma, Nepal pulled things back. Australia's middle-order all got starts but they could not capitalise on them: Michael Cramner with 32 and James Faulker with 22, a case in point. Khadka then ripped through the tail to finish with four scalps.

Pakistan U-19s 156 (Salah-ud-din 53) beat New Zealand U-19s 129 by 27 runs

Plucky knocks from Usman Salahuddin and Ali Asad helped Pakistan recover from a perilous 28 for 4 before the bowlers completed the fightback against New Zealand by rounding off a 27-run win.

New Zealand's medium-pacers seemed to have justified their captain's decision to field, restricting Pakistan to 156 in 47.1 overs. Tim Southee and Trent Boult, the opening bowlers, shared four wickets between them before Anurag Verma picked up two towards the end.

However Pakistan's bowlers were upto the task, reducing New Zealand to 51 for 4 in the 23rd over. Harry Boam led the chase with a patient 38 and his partnership with Greg Morgan took them closer but legspinner Ahmed Shehzad grabbed three wickets to hasten the end.


Umer Gul On The Mend

Pakistan paceman Umar Gul has flown to Australia for a check-up on his recovery from a back injury.

The 23-year-old has been out of action for five months and is hoping the specialists will help him get back to bowling sooner rather than later.

He told The Dawn:

"I am not in any pain at the moment, but a final opinion is necessary before starting to bowl again."

Gul, who played his last game in November last year, wants to play in a domestic Pentangular Cup game to assess his fitness.

If declared fit, the Peshawar-born fast bowler could be a serious contender for the probable home series against the Australia next month.

Gul is also under contract with the Indian Premier League, which is due to begin in April.


IPL's place in world cricket calendar to be discussed

The Indian Premier League (IPL) and its place in the world cricket calendar is expected to be a key area of discussion as chief executives [or their equivalent] from all boards under the ICC umbrella meet over two days in Kuala Lumpur, starting tomorrow.

Also on the agenda at the meeting, to be chaired by the ICC's chief executive Malcolm Speed, are: format and number of teams for the 2011 World Cup, feedback on the international schedule post-2012, and a pioneering proposal from the ICC management to start the

"trialling of an 'umpire decision review system' during the England v South Africa Test series to be played in England in July/August 2008".

The meeting of chief executives follows a scheduling summit, also in Kuala Lumpur, to review the draft international programme post-2012. While the question of how to accommodate the IPL and the proposed Champions League in the schedule will be touched upon, some wrangling is also expected on who will get to play the big teams.

Pakistan, for instance, is expected to push for a "fair share" of Tests and one-dayers.

"Our cricketers have to play optimum number of matches if we are to realise our target of becoming the world's best team,"

Nasim Ashraf, the Pakistan board chairman, was quoted as saying in The News.

"Without putting them at the risk of injury or burnout, we will ensure that their international commitments are at par with other top teams like Australia, India and South Africa."

Ashraf is also expected to seek the help of other members in convincing Australia to go ahead with their tour to Pakistan in March-April, which seems unlikely with Cricket Australia expressing concerns over security.

"We have already got a raw deal in the FTP and if Australia don't come as per schedule, we will just have three Tests this year and that too when India tour later this year in December,"

Ashraf told PTI.

"We still remain hopeful they will fulfill their obligations of touring Pakistan but the truth is we are in a frustrating situation. Despite repeated assurances that no cricket team has been hit by violence in Pakistan and that it is safe for them to tour and they will be given state-level security, they are still expressing concerns."

Besides scheduling, what will be tracked with keen interest is the umpire decision review system.

"According to the proposal, the captain of the fielding team or the batsman, as the case may be, will be entitled to a limited number of occasions to request the on-field umpire to review his decision in consultation with the TV umpire,"

said an ICC spokesperson, in a statement.

"The chief executive committee will review this proposal and make a recommendation to the ICC board. If the trial is given the go-ahead by the Board, the final playing conditions will be developed in consultation with the ICC cricket committee."


PCB Seek Help From ICC

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf will seek help from the International Cricket Council if Australia pull out of their tour to the troubled country next month.

Several Australian players have expressed their concerns over safety in Pakistan after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last December.

PCB and Cricket Australia officials are scheduled to hold talks in Kuala Lumpur this week to ascertain whether the tour will go ahead.

If it is cancelled, Pakistan would have to wait until the end of the year to play Test cricket, which has prompted the PCB to call for ICC assistance.

Ashraf told The News:

"Pakistan are a major Test-playing nation and it will be a big injustice to us if we are left with just three Tests in an entire year.

"Our team, which last played a Test match in December of 2007, will have to wait for its next Test at the end of this year.

"Such a situation is unacceptable to us and damaging for our cricket. We believe that as the governing body of world cricket, the ICC will have to help us out and get the optimum possible number of (international) matches for our team. We will expect the ICC to intervene.

"Our cricketers have to play the optimum number of matches if we are to realise our target of becoming the world's best team."

Reports suggest the PCB have approached the India and Sri Lanka boards to arrange a series if Australia pull out.

But Ashraf refrained from confirming the news, saying:

"We are still counting on Australia to come here.

"Any efforts to fill in the gap if they pull out would only begin once they officially inform us they are pulling out."

Australia are due to play three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 encounter on their tour to Pakistan.


Pakistan board looks at Sri Lanka option

After India, it's now Sri Lanka that the Pakistan Cricket Board have approached as an alternative in case Australia pull out of their scheduled visit in March-April due to security concerns. Australia are due to tour Pakistan for three Tests, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 match.

However, the trip looked in doubt after Creagh O'Connor, Cricket Australia's chairman, sent a letter to the PCB expressing reservations about the situation in Pakistan. Cricket Australia still intends to send a security delegation to assess the conditions following Pakistan's election, however there have been reports that Australia's players will refuse to tour regardless of the group's findings.

Among the alternatives the Pakistan board is looking at is India. A source said that informal talks had been held with the BCCI about a series of ODIs in Pakistan in case Australia call off the tour.

Pakistan has been in strife over the past few months, with conditions escalating following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto ahead of the parliamentary elections in January. The postponed vote takes place on February 18, but the trouble hasn't abated, with a suicide car bomber killing 47 people at an election rally on Saturday.

Although Cricket Australia will inspect the situation in Pakistan only after the polls, a three-member PCB delegation has already visited Colombo to discuss matters, according to a report in the Nation quoted by AFP. The report stated that Sri Lanka has been asked to play either a five-match ODI series or three Tests. The Sri Lankans, presently playing the CB Series in Australia, are slated to visit the West Indies in March-April.

Cricket Australia and the PCB are expected to further discuss the fate of the tour this week, during a meeting of ICC chief executives in Kuala Lumpur .

"We are planning to sit down with them in the next few days and we will follow the outcome of the elections with interest,"

Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's operations manager, told the Daily Telegraph.

Australia's players have expressed their reservations over the tour, with their captain Ricky Ponting voicing his concerns. The Pakistan board has also insured against losses in case of a pull-out. Australia have not visited Pakistan since 1998 and played Pakistan at neutral venues in Sri Lanka and Sharjah in 2002. However, Pakistan have ruled out playing this year's series at neutral venues or in Australia.

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