Posts Tagged ‘ Pakistan Cricket Team ’

Tendulkar leads India past Pakistan, to World Cup final

As Reported by The Japan Times

A lucky 85 from Sachin Tendulkar was followed by a disciplined bowling effort as India beat Pakistan by 29 runs in a high-stakes semifinal Wednesday to progress to the World Cup final against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan was dismissed for 231 in the last over chasing 261, sparking wild celebrations among the 28,000 people inside the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium and across the nation of more than 1 billion people.

Pakistan had done well earlier to peg India back to 260-9 after Virender Sehwag’s flying start, with left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz taking a career-best 5-46.

The victory continued a streak for India, which has beaten Pakistan in all five World Cup head-to-heads dating back to 1992.

The game was touted as a duel between India’s batting lineup and Pakistan’s bowling attack, but Pakistan’s shoddy fielding was eventually the difference between the two sides.

Tendulkar was let off four times, giving him the opportunity to knit together a challenging total for India and the bowlers then ensured a third World Cup final appearance for the 1983 champion.

“Going back to Mumbai, especially for this event, is a wonderful occasion,” Tendulkar said of playing a World Cup final on his home ground. “All I want to say is, we want to be calm, focus on our job and get the job done.”

India piled the pressure on a Pakistan batting lineup which failed to produce a single century in the tournament.

Pakistan’s early promise was slowed down in the middle overs as Yuvraj made early inroads and the bowlers slowly took control, marshaled well by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. All five Indian bowlers finished with two wickets each.

The only time Pakistan looked capable of the chase was when openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez were at the crease.

Kamran Akmal slashed a ball from Zaheer Khan straight to Yuvraj at point after making 19, while Hafeez went for an unnecessary scoop off Munaf Patel and was caught behind for 43.

Yuvraj then dismissed Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan and Pakistan was reduced to 106-4 by the 26th over.

Umar Akmal added some interest with a 24-ball 29 and Misbah-ul-Haq made a late charge of 56, but with the ball not coming on to the bat too well later in the day, it was always going to be difficult for them.

“I want to say sorry to my nation. We tried our level best,” Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi said. “I want to congratulate the Indian cricket and all of the Indian nation for this great victory. We wish them well in the final.”

In the first innings, Riaz exposed India’s traditional weakness against left-arm seamers, striking at crucial junctures. He accounted for a dangerous looking Sehwag (38) and an in-form Yuvraj for a first-ball duck, as the famed Indian batting struggled against his swing.

Pakistan also made Tendulkar wait for his 100th international century despite dropping the world’s best batsman four times. Tendulkar also had an lbw decision overturned on referral and survived a close stumping appeal in what has to be one of his luckiest innings ever.

Tendulkar faced 115 balls and hit 11 fours even as Riaz pegged back the Indian middle order with the dismissals of Virat Kohli (nine) and Yuvraj off successive deliveries.

Time For World, ICC To Realise Significance of Pak-India Cricket

By Ramiz Raja for Dawn

The stakes are massive, the pressure unbearable and Mohali is burning with Pak-India fever. As if the contest needed more spice, we now have the small matter of two prime ministers catching up with each other at the ground, looking to de freeze the bilateral dialogue over cricket diplomacy.

The world is seeing the power of India-Pakistan cricket. All those people in positions, who were cold and indifferent towards it, are now queueing up to use the occasion to cash in. The governments, the media and the ICC have been given enough evidence in the past also of the unfathomable strength of Indo-Pak match-up, to know that uncoupling the two can mean a turbulent world and a colorless cricket calendar. Yet, all of them allowed the most passionate cricket duel to get stuck by petty politics.

The game at Mohali can have significant repercussions for the players. A loss will be remembered like a tsunami aftermath. On the other hand, a win can, like a wedding video, linger on the minds for eternity. A performance against India is never forgotten and that’s such a strong point to motivate the players and deflect pressure. This game is all about nerves and who jangles them first. The greater the wait the higher the anxiety and it’s been a long break for both teams.

Listening to cricket pundits on channels, calling home to impress the folks that all is under control and filling the fans with high hopes must be taking a toll on the system. The players would be desperate to go out in the middle to settle the racket in the mind and settle the issue on the field.

People fear the Indian crowd and how their pressure will play up on the players. From playing in India I know that the one sided pro India crowd can in fact give you a high because you are fighting them against the odds, and draw from experience the moments when you have beaten them.

It’s such a great feeling when you box them into dead silence, stroke after stroke! I am sure most of our players have sampled that experience and will be motivated to repeat it for their fans.

Captains, at times, worry in normal situations about lack of effort and skill from the team. Afridi will not have any such issues at Mohali. The game gets raised by the players who tend to play above themselves against India. The captain has to remain cool and, in any eventuality, remain dignified. At the end of the day it’s only a game of cricket.

We may or may not win this but our team has certainly won the hearts of the people. Whether they go to Mumbai or Karachi, we need to give them a heroes welcome for they have bonded us together as one!

— The writer is a former Pakistan captain.

How Can India Beat Pakistan?

By Will Davies for The Wall Street Journal

It’s the million dollar question that a billion people are asking: How can India beat Pakistan? Setting aside the obvious answers such as score more runs and get more wickets, there are some key areas where India can gain an advantage over its fiercest rival.

Indian and Pakistani cricket fans with a replica of the Cricket World Cup trophy. Unsettle Shahid Afridi – Pakistan’s captain has been an inspirational presence at this World Cup. He is the tournament’s leading wicket taker, with 21 scalps already to his name, comfortably ahead of the second-top bowler, India’s Zaheer Khan on 17. Afridi oozes charisma but he is prone to tantrums – it’s not uncommon seeing him shouting at teammates when things go wrong in the field, as is all too often the case with Pakistan – so India should try to frustrate him. Afridi is the nerve center of the Pakistan team, and if he is exasperated then negativity will spread to the other players.

Nullify Umar Gul – Afridi may have taken the most wickets, but Gul has been Pakistan’s most lethal pace bowler and looks on top of his game with 14 wickets (joint fifth with South Africa’s Imran Tahir in the tournament rankings). Gul has been so important to Pakistan’s campaign, particularly bearing in mind the team was stripped of two key bowling assets – Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir – ahead of the World Cup. The track at Mohali should favor pace bowlers over spin (will this mean we’ll see the Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar?), so the Pakistanis will be heavily reliant on another good showing from Gul, who has been effective with both the new and the old ball. If India’s excellent batsmen can nullify the ever aggressive Gul, Pakistan’s armory will be significantly weakened.

Silence Younis Khan – The big-hitting middle-order batsman has had a relatively quiet World Cup by his standards, scoring 172 runs in six innings, though that includes a 72 against a very fine Sri Lanka. He often saves his best for India so the co-hosts should be on guard if or when he comes to the crease. Out of his six career centuries, three have been made against India, including one at Mohali, the venue for Wednesday’s semifinal. India will do well to keep him contained.

Bat to Potential – India has a wonderful batting lineup but there’s a nagging feeling we haven’t seen the best of it at this World Cup. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh are among the tournament’s top 10 run scorers, but India’s other batsmen haven’t consistently backed up the trio’s good work. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hasn’t done much at all with the bat – his top score so far is 34 – though he has often come to the crease when his only option was to have a bit of a slog. All the batsmen in this star-studded lineup will need to play at least one great innings if India is to beat Pakistan and go on to win the World Cup final in Mumbai on April 2.

Support Zaheer Khan – India’s bowling was seen as a weakness at the start of this World Cup and it remains a concern. Zaheer Khan has been a revelation but the other pace bowlers need to give him better support. Munaf Patel was targeted by the Australians, particularly Brad Haddin, and it will be interesting to see if India’s coach Gary Kirsten selects him for the semifinal. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Ashish Nehra could get a call-up, but both have had their problems this tournament. Left-armer Nehra was hurt in the match against South Africa when he failed to defend 13 runs in the final over, while Sreesanth hasn’t featured since the opening match against Bangladesh when he returned disappointing figures of 0 for 53 from just five overs.

Kamran Akmal – It’s harsh to single out the Pakistani wicket-keeper, but he is prone to lapses that make him look like he has smeared his gloves in butter. Akmal put in a much improved performance in the quarterfinal against the West Indies, but India will be hoping he has another bad day at the office and gives the hosts a few reprieves.

Ignore the hype – Ok, that’s like telling a skydiver to relax and enjoy the view after his parachute has failed, but India must try to focus on the task at hand and not get carried away by the enormity of this match and the weight of expectation from a billion or so fans.

And how can Pakistan beat India?

Hide Sachin Tendulkar’s bat.

Also, Pakistan needs to silence the home crowd. The stadium in Mohali is small, with capacity for only 27,500 spectators, but they’ll be so loud it’ll seem like there are 10 times that many people. If Pakistan gets some early wickets or an early batting partnership, the home crowd will become restless and that will put India under pressure. Pakistan has the quality and talent to beat the best in the world, but it’s the kind of side that needs momentum and confidence. That will come if the team unsettles India early in the match.

Still, hiding Tendulkar’s bat wouldn’t be a bad tactic. And while they’re at it, they should probably take Sehwag’s and Yuvraj’s too.

Pakistan Snaps Australia’s 34-Match Unbeaten Run

By Shihar Aneez for The Los Angeles Times

Australia’s 34-match unbeaten run in the Cricket World Cup dating back to 1999 was finally broken by Pakistan on Saturday when Ricky Ponting’s team were beaten by four wickets.

Australia, who have won the last three World Cups during the run and were unbeaten in five matches in Group A in this tournament, were skittled out for 176.

Pace bowler Brett Lee raised hopes of an Australian fightback when he got rid of opener Mohammad Hafeez in the third over but his haul of four for 28 could not prevent Pakistan from cruising to victory with 54 balls to spare.

“We certainly had a tough game today. We didn’t do ourselves any favours. I thought our batting effort was particularly ordinary,” said Ponting, who suffered his first World Cup defeat as captain.

“We stuck at it really well with the ball. I thought the guys bowled really well and gave ourselves a bit of a sniff when we got them six down but not enough runs on the board.”

Saturday’s result threw the tournament wide open as there is no undefeated team left in the competition heading into next week’s knockout stages.

Australia had already qualified for the quarter-finals but will now finish third in the group rather than top, a place now occupied by Pakistan.

“It’s a different sort of enjoyment playing against Australia. They may be World Champions but there was no pressure on us so we pulled it off today,” Umar Akmal said after finishing unbeaten on 44.

Ponting’s men struggled for momentum through out their innings after opting to bat first.

Pakistan’s pace and spin attack, backed up by sharp fielding, never allowed the Australian batting to settle down.

A 63-run second wicket stand between Brad Haddin (42) and Ponting (19), who failed once again with the bat, was the only notable partnership in the Australian innings.

Michael Clarke (34) and Steve Smith (25) were the only other batsmen to make any worthwhile contributions on a difficult surface that offered spin and some uneven bounce which the Australian batsmen failed to cope with.

Paceman Umar Gul (3-30) bowled superbly with both the new and the old ball for the 1992 champions, who were the last team to defeat Australia in a World Cup match in 1999.

Gul made the first breakthrough by bowling Shane Watson for nine and returned to clean up the tail by taking the wickets of Jason Krezja and Lee.

Afridi Tells Pakistan to Learn New Zealand Lessons

As Reported by Agence France-Presse

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi on Wednesday urged his team to learn the lessons of the 110-run defeat against New Zealand.

The Black Caps rode on a brilliant unbeaten 131 by Ross Taylor to post a challenging 302-7 before Tim Southee removed the top order with a burst of three early wickets to bowl Pakistan out for 192.

“There were quite a few lessons to be learned from the defeat, especially those chances we gave to Taylor and when you give such chances to a player like him he makes you pay,” said Afridi.

Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal let Taylor off twice in the same Shoaib Akhtar over – once when the batsman was on nought and then on eight – allowing two straightforward chances to slip past him.

Afridi said his bowlers were poor in the death overs when New Zealand plundered 139 runs off the last 10 overs.

“I think the way we started with the ball was good, but then the missed chances maybe demoralised the bowlers and they were very poor in the end,” said Afridi.

Afridi hoped his top order batsmen will show improvement in the next game, against Zimbabwe on Monday.

“Our top order did not work well although we have given them the time to settle down and this was the first time we were chasing. We need to learn how to bat while chasing,” said Afridi.

“Taylor took the game away from us although the bowlers had reverse swing. But the way he played was brilliant and he took the game away from us,” said the Pakistan captain.

Pakistan now have six points from four matches, second in Group A behind New Zealand who also have six points but a better net run-rate.

Co-hosts Sri Lanka (five points from four) and Australia (five from three) are third and fourth respectively.

What if Zulqarnain Haider Was Right About Corruption in Pakistan?

By Paul Hayward for The Guardian

The curse of the whistleblower is to be denounced as a fraud, a fantasist or a weirdo. In America, where they have an organisation for everything, the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington helps people wanting to expose iniquity, much like our own Public Concern at Work. Either may hear soon from a 24-year-old Pakistani wicketkeeper.

Let’s imagine this as a short movie, a study in motivation. Zulqarnain Haider approaches passport control at Heathrow one day and asks for sanctuary. Behind him he has left a wife and two daughters in Pakistan and the national team in Dubai, who learn of his disappearance when they find his hotel room empty.

The immediate cause of Haider’s flight is a conversation he says he had near the team hotel. An unknown man approaches him to say: “If you work with us, we will give you a lot of money. If not, we will not select you again in cricket and, if you go back home, we will kill you and your family.”

Notice the “we” in “we will not select you again in cricket”. One largely ignored facet of this drama is that if Haider’s interlocutor existed he boasted of his power to pick the Pakistan XI. All three layers are present: potential reward, intermediary punishment, and death, not just for him but his family. If Haider is for real, the offer he was made and the warning he was given imply a connection between match- and spot-fixing, team selection and serious organised crime.

In other words they suggest corruption runs through many tiers of Pakistan cricket. In a recent editorial, the country’s Daily Times speculated: “The elephant in the room is the link between people wielding power and the bookmakers. It is alleged that a top bookmaker and mafia don have connections with a powerful intelligence agency in Pakistan.”

This is as far as conjecture can be pushed in the strange tale of Haider’s dash to Britain, which featured a chaotic press conference in the backroom of a curry house in Southall. To summarise, he claims he was approached before the fourth one-day international against South Africa, in which he hit 19 winning runs, and then fled before the fifth, the second target for the alleged match-fixers.

Here in England he has said players’ phones should be tapped to assist evidence gathering and that “a lot of people” are involved in the scam. He has said, too, that he does not want any aid from the British government beyond temporary asylum and has promised to co-operate with the International Cricket Council’s Anti‑Corruption and Security Unit.

To gain a sense of Haider’s motivation it is tempting to imagine him on that flight to London, knowing what was ahead of him and what lay behind: most poignantly, grave danger for his wife and daughters. No conclusion can be drawn from such a filmic and intuitive form of analysis, but most of us would think something fairly big must have spooked him in Dubai to cause him to run away from his family and his livelihood.

We would suspect also that a professional cricketer had to break in the end, and that Haider simply looks like the first to buckle. Heroic status eludes him, so far. No senior Pakistan cricketer, either serving or retired, has praised his actions. Some asked why he waited at least four days after the threat to his life to board a flight to London.

Denunciations fly in from those who say he ought to have “reported his concerns” to the Pakistan team management and the ICC’s detectives, which protocol required him to do.

And from Pakistan’s sports minister, Ijaz Hussain Jakhrani, came the most brutal condemnation: “If he is such a weak and scared person he should not have played cricket in the first place, particularly not for the national team.” Asif Iqbal weighed in: “He has let the motherland down. There wasn’t even a reserve wicketkeeper to replace him. He just flew off.”

This censorious tone obscures the dark realities of the past year. The current cycle of trouble began with the dubious tour of Australia, with its suspicious Sydney Test and nine straight defeats for Pakistan in all formats. After the News of the World’s spot-fixing exposé, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt are under an ICC provisional suspension and have had their central contracts cancelled by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

As pressure builds in India, the hub of cricket betting, to legalise and therefore regulate the wild east of gambling on the country’s national sport, you wonder why more punters are not put off by all the evidence suggesting choreography on the field of play. It’s an odd kink of human nature that people will go on betting in an apparently bent casino, as if to beat a crooked system confers more pleasure than winning against an honest house.

At the centre of this vast global issue is one man who stepped off a flight in London and told the BBC on Friday: “I want to be a good citizen.”

Afridi for Resumption of Indo-Pak Bilateral Cricket Series

As reported on Sify.com

Following coach Waqar Younis’ call for resumption of bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan, skipper Shahid Afridi also wants more encounters with the arch rivals.

Afridi said India and Pakistan must play against each other more often, which would help in toning down the heightened tension between the two neighbouring nations.

“I have always enjoyed playing against India and I have been saying we should play more often against each other as it will only help improve relations,” The Nation quoted Afridi, as saying.

Pakistan and India last played in the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa in September 2009.

The newly appointed captain added that he was eagerly looking forward to the match against India in the Asia Cup, starting June 15 in Sri Lanka.

Afridi, however, pointed out that Pakistan’s opening match against Sri Lanka would also hold great importance.

“Certainly, the event will not be easy and the team would have to start it on a winning note to lift its morale. As a captain I would try my every bit to cash in on every opportunity to win,” he said.

Earlier, Waqar had also lamented the lack of bilateral series between India and Pakistan.

“I want to see the two teams revive bilateral cricket ties and for now I am eagerly awaiting their clash in the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka,” Waqar had said.

“It should be a great match as any contest between the two teams produces top quality cricket. It is unfortunate we are not playing against each other more often as Indo-Pak matches are watched by people all over the world and they are great for the sport,” he added.

India and Pakistan are scheduled to fight it out on June 20 in Dambulla.

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