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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Aussies wary of tourists

24 December, 2009

Beware of the talented Pakistan attack!

That is the message emanating out of the Australian camp ahead of the start of the three Test series at the MCG on Boxing Day as Pakistan prepares for only its second Test tour of Australia this decade.

And expect this series to be far closer than their last visit back in 2004/05 when Australia won the three Tests in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney by 491 runs, nine wickets and nine wickets respectively.

But that was at a time when Australia's team and in particular its attack was at its peak with Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in destructive form whereas in contrast now five years later the home side has very much an inexperienced pace attack led by Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle with Ben Hilfenhaus still sidelined by injury.

And Australia has still yet to find another leg spinner to fill the shoes of the irreplaceable Warne with off-spinner Nathan Hauritz now the country's incumbent spinner.

In contrast to the home side, the visitors appear to have a much more balanced attack featuring not only both right and left arm quicks in Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Umar Gul and left armer Mohammad Aamir but also the world's best leg spinner at present in Danish Kaneria plus a dangerous off spinner in Saaed Ajmal, who possesses a dangerous 'doosra.'

It all adds up to a far more testing assignment for the Aussies than the recent 2-0 series win over West Indies.

Certainly Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke believes the Pakistan attack will be a handful over the three match series.

"They have got some good young quicks and they have got the young left armer Aamir who has got some pace and they have got a couple of good spinners in their squad as well," he said.

Clarke also believes Pakistan will be suited by the first two Tests being played in Melbourne and Sydney.

"I think the conditions here (in Melbourne) and in Sydney will help Pakistan," he said.

"The wicket at the MCG is generally a bit slower than the WACA or the Gabba and they have got good spinners in their squad and obviously Sydney will spin so that will play a part as well."

"So as an attack they have got good variation with right and left arm fast bowlers - a leg spinner and an off spinner so it’s a pretty good squad of bowlers."

Veteran batsman Mike Hussey agreed with Clarke that it is Pakistan's bowlers that pose the biggest danger in the series.

"They have got a lot of matchwinners and they have got a lot of very dangerous players, particularly their bowlers," Hussey said.

"So I think we are in for a very tough Test series and we are all going to have to be playing at our best to come out on top."

Australia has won nine of its past ten Boxing Day Tests but lost against South Africa in Melbourne last year as South Africa went on to inflict Australia's first Test series defeat on home soil since 1992/93.

While it is a big call to suggest Australia could lose Test series at home in successive seasons after going unbeaten at home for 16 years, the Australian batsmen will be under plenty of pressure in the Boxing Day Test - particularly if skipper Ricky Ponting is ruled out with the elbow injury he sustained in Perth against the Windies.

Hussey said the Australian batsmen are all too aware that not one of them managed a century in the recent three Test series against the Windies, whose attack is nowhere near the level of Pakistan's.

"I know all our batsmen are very, very determined," Hussey said.

"We didn't get a hundred (between us) in the last series but all the guys have been batting very well and putting together good starts but we are very determined to try and push on with these starts and get some big hundreds as well."

Pakistan also served notice of its intentions with a dominant performance against Tasmania in its only tour match before the first Test and unlike other recent touring sides to Australia it arrives match-hardened having only just completed a three Test series against New Zealand in New Zealand.

That series finished 1-1 although rain saved the Pakistanis in the third Test in Napier when the Kiwis appeared headed for a series clinching victory.

But while Pakistan will fancy its chances against an Australian team in transition and which is no longer feared around the world, the tourists will not be heartened by their dismal record in Australia.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Governing Board takes PCB chief to task

LAHORE: The Governing Board members forced Chairman, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Ijaz Butt to play on the back foot in a crucial meeting held at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) on Monday.

Well-informed sources told Dawn that the chairman wanted approval for the 2007-08 season’s budget but the members turned it down, asking him (the chairman) to produce all records of income and expenditures before taking the approval.

Ijaz will now produce the record in the next meeting on Nov 7.

Meanwhile, the PCB changed its audit company as the previous one had refused to audit PCB’s accounts for the 2007-08 season due to their incomplete financial records.

The members did not allow acting NCA and Game Development Director Haroon Rasheed to make his presentation over domestic structure when Javed Miandad, who was one of the members, raised an objection against it.

Miandad was of the view that as director general of the PCB, domestic cricket was his not Haroon’s domain. Most of the members supported Miandad’s objection.

According to sources, the members showed their annoyance with the chairman for having his close relative Mohammad Naeem as chief financial adviser.

They were unhappy with Naeem’s way of dealing and his abundant foreign tours. However, they extended his tenure till Nov 30 for the last time.

Sources also said that Ijaz would also try to include Naeem in the next Governing Board, which will be formed after the existing one will be dissolved on Nov 9.

It may be mentioned here that Ijaz had already recommended Naeem’s name as a Governing Board member some eight months ago to PCB’s Patron-in-Chief President Asif Ali Zardari.

Moreover, the members also grilled the PCB on having appointed umpires from local associations just to save money in the ongoing Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.

The PCB has to pay allowance to umpires, referees and scorers when they are called in from other cities. They were of the view that neutral umpires were being placed to supervise matches all over the world but the PCB had decided to appoint local umpires, who may take biased decisions.

The decision will be implemented in the ongoing matches of the Trophy.

Earlier, the PCB had dropped a point in the agenda of the meeting to discuss controversial statements made by some members of the Governing Board over Pakistan’s defeat in the semi-final of the Champions Trophy against New Zealand.

Sources also added that Dr Mohammad Ali Shah severely criticised ICC umpires for giving controversial decisions against Pakistan.

They were of the view that Ijaz, to some extent, had also violated the ICC rules by saying before the National Assembly Standing Committee on Sports that some of the umpires’ decisions were controversial.

The manager and associate manager of the national team had also spoken against the planning of the match with Shahid Afridi saying that Pakistan could not properly utilise the power-play.

Similarly, Shoaib Malik had also issued a statement that he would neither open the innings nor bat at number three.

The chairman finally decided to form a three-member committee comprising Javed Miandad, Shakil Sheikh (Islamabad) and Dr Mohammad Ali Shah (Karachi) to prepare a plan to be presented in the next meeting.

Ijaz hopeful of playing India at neutral venues

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ijaz Butt on Wednesday expressed optimism for a series against arch-rivals India at a neutral venue in 2010, asserting the International Cricket Council (ICC) has shown interest in resumption of the high-profile contests in the US.

‘Insha Allah a series between Pakistan and India will be held at a neutral venue next year as my meetings with the Indian cricket officials as well as government officials will bring good results,’ Ijaz said while talking to reporters after reaching Lahore from New Delhi following an eight-day visit to India.

‘The United States is a good place [for the series]. But since there is just one stadium in Florida where only one One-day International or two Twenty20 matches could be held, it is not suitable for a high-profile series,’ he stated.

Ijaz further said that the International Cricket Council (ICC) was also interested in resumption of the competitions between Pakistan and India in the US to promote the game in that region.

The PCB chief asserted that during his visit he also asked the BCCI to invite Pakistani players for the next edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

No Pakistani player featured in this year’s IPL event due to strained political ties between the two countries after the Mumbai attack last November.

Though the BCCI had invited many Pakistani cricketers for IPL’s first edition held in 2008, for the second they refused to include any player from across the border after the government of Pakistan decided not to allow any player to visit India due to the tense situation arising out of the Mumbai incident.

It may be mentioned here that the BCCI has linked the revival of cricket ties between the two countries with the permission of their government.

An Indian board official had said soon after Ijaz met his Indian counterpart, Shashank Manohar, in Mohali this week that resumption of bilateral matches with Pakistan was not possible in the near future, adding it (BCCI) would consider this matter late next year.

Manohar had told Ijaz that even after the government’s clearance, the schedule for the series (with Pakistan) could not be finalised before the next seven months or so as the Indian team would be too busy in other international assignments during that period.

Shashi Tharoor, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs, had reportedly floated the idea for a bilateral series with Pakistan in the US, a notion the BCCI termed as premature.

The PCB impatiently wants its national team to play against India to improve its financial state, since it could earn 65 per cent of the media rights through a series against India.

By holding the home series at neutral venues against Australia and New Zealand due to security issues in Pakistan, the PCB could not earn enough profits to meet its expenditure.

Meanwhile, asked why the PCB had permitted Misbah-ul-Haq to play in the Bangladesh domestic league while Quaid-i-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier domestic first-class tournament, is in progress, Ijaz said the board has a clear policy to allow all players to earn money by playing abroad, and they are only bound to be available for the national team.

‘If they [players] have no national duty, all of them are allowed to play abroad to earn money,’ Ijaz said.

The PCB chief said the next Asia Cup could be held either in China, Malaysia or Sri Lanka as all three countries were quite interested in hosting the event.

Hendon: The week that was

Eurosport commentator David Hendon looks back on the week that was, including Rory McLeod's win at the Masters qualifying event.

So well done to Rory McLeod for winning the Masters qualifying event.

His career seems to have blossomed much later than you would expect. Rory's 38 now but in the last year made three successive centuries against Ronnie O'Sullivan at the UK Championship, qualified for the Crucible for the first time and is now Wembley bound.

A Wellingborough boy of Jamaican parents, McLeod now lives in Qatar.

During the Masters qualifiers he spent time between matches listening to verses from the Koran in an attempt to relax himself. It obviously worked and he now waits to see whether he will play Mark Williams or Mark King.

This will depend on who the other wildcard is. Liang Wenbo is hot favourite and will surely only miss out if there is a shock winner of the UK Championship.

You will recall McLeod and King played out a long, often tedious match at the World Championship last season that went into an extra session, so if they are paired together again I fear for the sanity of whoever is making the decision.

Better to pair McLeod with Williams and King with Liang.

Not that Rory will care who he plays. Snooker professionals at all levels are well used to the setbacks and disappointments that inevitably come as part and parcel of a sporting career.

This, though, is a moment to relish.

The Masters is the game's most prestigious invitation tournament and to many players second only to the World Championship in terms of prestige.

Stephen Hendry won it a record six times and has appeared in a record nine finals.

He likes a record, does Stephen, just as he likes a trophy.

On Sunday he won his 74th in defeating Ken Doherty 5-3 to win the first 110sport Legends event in Glenrothes.

I can report it was a fun weekend, although the action was serious as the old warhorses locked horns once again.

I was alarmed by the sight of a frail Alex Higgins unable to produce any sort of form but cheered by Cliff Thorburn's warmth towards him and the Canadian's general charisma.

Hendry was a fitting winner, given that his legendary status cannot be questioned.

He remains snooker's greatest ever player. Tony Drago, with whom I did some commentary, also pointed out that he has profoundly changed snooker.

"Stephen is the most attacking player I have ever played. All the players who have come since have copied him," he said.

While we were enjoying ourselves in Scotland, Ricky Walden was out pounding the streets as he completed the New York marathon in a time of four hours, 17 minutes.

That sounds pretty good to me and Ricky raised around £1,500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Meanwhile, the WPBSA board member, Jim McMahon, made an attempt to broker peace in the civil war afflicting Scottish amateur snooker and came very close, but the old order - having agreed on a way forward with the rival group - reneged on it at the last minute.

The WPBSA understandably withdrew from the mediation process and have now taken away the main tour place for Scotland.

While I was in Scotland I heard nothing but bad things about those who have been running Scottish Snooker for the last few years.

Their actions have now resulted in the young Scottish players they are supposed to be representing suffering the ignominy of not having a place on the circuit to play for.

If this doesn't galvanise action north of the border, surely nothing will.

Next up in November is Pro Challenge Series event three in Leicester, followed by the UK Championship qualifiers.

Also, the IBSF world amateur championship takes place in India, starting on the 15th.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Akram's wife still in critical condition

CHENNAI: Former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram's wife is in a critical condition at a hospital in Indian city Chennai where she was rushed after developing an "emergency situation" in an air ambulance during its scheduled refuelling at the Chennai airport.

Huma was admitted to the on advice from doctors on board the Singapore-bound air ambulance, hospital and airport sources said.

Hospital sources said Huma suffered a multiple organ failure and she was put on ventilator support.

Her pulse rate was picking up and vital parameters were better, but her condition continued to be critical, the sources said. She was originally scheduled to receive treatment in Singapore.

T&T-Cape Cobras clash in CL semis today

HYDERABAD: The second semi-finals of the Champions League will be played today between Trinidad & Tobago and Cape Cobras at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad Deccan.

In the first semi-finals, played yesterday at Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium, New Delhi, New South Wales defeated Victoria by 79 runs.

West Indian team Trinidad & Tobago will face South African New South Wales in today’s semi-final. The match will begin at 9-30 pm (Pakistan standard time) and it will be telecast live on Geo Super.

Yesterday, New South Wales of Australia Batting first scored 169 runs for seven wickets against Victoria of the same country. David Warner top-scored with 48 while Clint McKay claimed three wickets.

In reply, Victoria could make only 90 runs for the loss of nine wickets. Moises Henriques captured three for 11.

Emotional Milan reunion for Real new boy Kaka

MADRID: Real Madrid's Brazilian superstar Kaka faces old club AC Milan for the first time on Wednesday when the two sides do battle at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League Group C match.

Australian teen sailor starts round-the-world bid

SYDNEY: A 16-year-old Australian steered her bright pink yacht out of Sydney Harbor on Sunday to start her bid to become the youngest person to sail solo and unassisted around the world.

Barcelona stunned, Liverpool continue shocking form

LONDON: Holders Barcelona suffered a stunning 2-1 home defeat by Russia's Rubin Kazan while Liverpool lost by the same score to Olympique Lyon at Anfield on a night of high drama and late goals in the Champions League on Tuesday.

KARACHI: Helped by a hat-trick by Shakir Lashari, PIA handed a crushing 4-0 defeat to Baloch Club in the Pakistan Premier Football League at Korangi B

Imran Abdullah’s goal in the 25th minute was followed by first Shakir strike four minutes later.

Shakir fired home two minutes before the halftime whistle for his second before completing his treble in style in the 88th minute.

Two strikes each by Zahid Ahmad and Shahid Saleem helped Karachi Port Trust (KPT) give Afghan Club a football lesson with a 6-2 defeat at KPT Stadium.

The winners got to off to a confident start when Zahid grabbed his first in the 14th minute and got his double in the 55th minute.

Ismail Baba extended the lead for KPT three minutes later before Afghan Club reduced the margin through Abdul Hadi in the 62nd minute.

The losers seemed to be resilient as they made it 3-2 when Amanullah came into action in the 73rd minute.

But three more goals from KPT in the space of ten minutes sealed the fate of the match as they took an unassailable lead.

Shahid, who was on target in the 78th minute, hammered in again in 82nd minute for his second, while Mohammad Khan wrapped up the proceedings in the 88th minute.

KESC face Afghan Club, HBL meet Baloch Club, while NBP will play against KPT on Friday.

LAHORE: Pakistan went down 0-2 to Saudi Arabia in Group ‘A’ of the 14th Asian U-16 Football Championship at Malaysia’s Shah Alam Stadium on Wednesday.

Pakistan have themselves to blame for the defeat as they missed several chances in the first session through frontrunners Fahim Ahmed, Basit Hassan and Mohammad Fazal.

Saudi keeper Raed Ali Alshmri foiled all their attempts to keep the score 0-0 at interval.

Pakistan’s goalie and captain Ahsanullah also denied the Saudis from scoring. He became a big source of frustration for their frontrunners Fahd Mosaed Almuwallad and Emad Hamad Sanani.

But a defensive blunder allowed the Saudis to break the ice in the 76th minute when midfielder Mohammed Qasem Alnakhli went on his own to clip the ball past Ahsan.

Three minutes from time, an own-goal enhanced the lead to 2-0 when Lahore-born Hassan Saleem Khan curled the ball past his own keeper.

Meanwhile, Uzbekistan earned another win when they outran Kuwait 3-0. Mahstaliyev Abbosbek struck twice in the 18th and 66th minutes while substitute Abdullaev Muhammadjon added the third four minutes from time.

KARACHI: Fourth seed Zoya Khalid of Army captured first open title of her career when she toppled top seed Muqaddas Ashraf of Wapda in the agonising f

Picking up from where she had left on Tuesday, Zoya continued her ruthless form when she overcame fighting opponent 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7 in 41 minute duel.

‘I’m feeling happy for making a mark in the open category,’ a jubilant Zoya told Dawn after the triumph.

A former national under-15 and under-17 champion, Zoya said she had worked hard for the event which finally paid off.

Prior to coming to the city she had won an under-19 national ranking title in Lahore last month beating Rushna Mehboob in the final.

She was also member of Pakistan team that won bronze in the Asian Juniors Squash championship at Hong Kong last year. The other two members of the team were Maria Toor and Rushna Mehboob.

Zoya recovered twice after losing the first and third games to surprise the pundits of the game.

Muqaddas, who was seeded on top following withdrawl of Maria Toor at the eleventh hour, enjoyed an edge in the beginning taking 2-1 lead in the final but could not stand the challenge from her opponent.

The winner fetched Rs13,300 while the runner up received Rs9,100 after the final. The event carried a total prize money of Rs70,000.

Final result:

Zoya Khalid (Army) bt Muqaddas Ashraf (Wapda) 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8, 11-7.

KARACHI: The Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association has received a No-Objection Certificate from the Sports Ministry to send its players to India

‘We will submit visa request for our cueists for the event on Wednesday,’ PBSA President Alamgir Sheikh said.

He added that the association would be sending top players Mohammad Sajjad and Mohammad Asif for the championship to be held next month. He said the training camp for the cueists will be starting at the Karachi Club from Thursday.

‘We have delayed the camp which was supposed to start from Tuesday due to renovation work at the Karachi Club’s Snooker Hall,’ he added.—PPI

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four top seeded players into semis of Cincinnati Tennis

CINCINNATI: Two-time winner Roger Federer and reigning champion Andy Murray lined up a top-two semi-final showdown at the Cincinnati Masters.

Federer, the world number one and top seed, never faced a break point as he dismissed former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-3, 6-4.

Bolt wins triple gold in World Athletics

BERLIN: Usain Bolt bagged his third gold medal of the World Athletics Championships here on Saturday when Jamaica stormed to the men's 4x100m relay title.

Bolt has this week also shattered his own world records in winning the 100m (9.58sec) and 200m (19.19sec) to replicate his Beijing Olympics medal haul.

The Jamaican, who turned 23 on Friday, played down any suggestion that he was the "saviour" of athletics.

Man Utd rout Wigan 5-0 in Premier League

WIGAN: Defending champions Manchester United trounced Wigan 5-0 in English soccer’s Premier League here on Saturday.

In the match played in Wigan, no team could make any goal in the first half but Manchester United scored all of their goals in the second half to outclass Wigan.

Wayne Rooney scored twice while Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov and Nani netted one goal each.

NZ squad named for Champions Trophy

WELLINGTON: All-rounder Brendon Diamanti has been added to the New Zealand squad for this year's
Champions Trophy in South Africa.

New Zealand had kept one spot open when they announced their squad last month and coach Andy Moles said Diamanti was the best choice to fill the vacancy.

"Brendon is a strong lower order striker and has good control as a medium pace bowler -- he will provide valuable back-up for the squad," Moles said.

Diamanti, currently playing in India with the New Zealand A side, was also selected in the New Zealand one-day and Twenty20 squads to play in Sri Lanka.

The only player selected for the Champions Trophy who was not also picked for Sri Lanka was paceman Daryl Tuffey, who was replaced by offspinner Nathan McCullum.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Injured Formula One driver comes out of coma

BUDAPEST: Brazilian Formula One driver Felipe Massa who was severely injured in Hungarian Grand Prix has come out of coma and recovering very fast.Thanking his fans, Massa’s family said that he has been encouraged by their support and now out of imminent life-threatening danger. However he is being kept under sedation to protect his brain after his accident, doctors said on Monday.Talking with media out of the hospital in Budapest, Hungary, parents, wife and brother thanked all the Massa’s fans and well-wishers and said that Massa’s health is rapidly improving. They said that the support from his fans in this difficult time has a great value for his family.Massa’s wife Rafela thanking God said she is very grateful to the Brazilians who prayed for Massa’s recovery. She believes that the day would come very soon when Massa would leave the hospital with a lot of joy and smiles