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Monday, July 11, 2011

Shahid Afridi on a roll for Hampshire - ROUTERS

: Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi seems to have all the issues behind him as the all-rounder enjoys his county stint for Hampshire where he has won three man-of-the-match awards in five matches. PHOTO: FILE AFP
KARACHI:  Shahid Afridi seems to have left his tussle with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) far behind him as the former captain enjoys a successful run with his county side Hampshire.
The all-rounder, who has featured in five matches for Hampshire since ending his dispute with the board that revoked his NOC to play abroad, said he is finally at ease now.
“I’m a relaxed man now,” Afridi told The Express Tribune from Southampton. “The problems I went through seem to be far behind me.
“I have my family around me and it’s a pleasure to be with my children during gaps in the matches. The atmosphere here is great and I am enjoying playing cricket.”
Afridi was removed from One-Day International (ODI) captaincy after his remarks on the team management’s interference in selection matters irked the PCB. The all-rounder responded by announcing his retirement followed by the board revoking his NOC to play in foreign leagues and suspending his central contract.
The dispute took a legal turn with Afridi approaching the Sindh High Court where he filed a petition against the board sanctions. However, the matter was settled out of court with Afridi paying a Rs4.5 million fine and in turn getting the NOC to play for Hampshire.
Now, with five matches in the ongoing Friends Life T20 tournament, his performance has impressed many.
Content with performance
The all-rounder has claimed 13 wickets at an average of just over 6, the best among bowlers who have taken more than 10 wickets in the tournament.
“I didn’t get time to practice because of the issue with the PCB.
“The West Indies matches were the last ones I had played. But I had the confidence to do well and I am happy with the way I have performed so far.”
However, Afridi, who is yet to show his mettle with the bat in the tournament said he was also looking to improve his batting form.
“I’m working hard on improving my performance,” said the hard-hitting batsman.
“I’m not the best choice to open the innings as Hampshire have a very good opening combination.
“But I will speak to the team management about promoting me up the order.”
Hampshire offers contract for one-dayers
While the fate of foreign players signed to play the forthcoming Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) appears bleak due to financial constraints, Afridi is considering accepting Hampshire’s offer to feature in their one-day campaign as well.
“Although I have not received an official message, I am getting hints about the SLPL’s decision to exclude foreign players.
“If this happens I will extend my county stint at Hampshire. I’ve received an offer to feature in their one-day campaign as well.”
Close to finalising Melbourne deal
The experienced all-rounder also looks certain to participate at this year’s Big Bash Twenty20 competition that takes place in Australia in December.
“I’m getting offers from various Australian sides,” said Afridi, who represented South Australia at the 2009 event.
“The Big Bash is also a good competition and I’m looking forward to playing there as well,” said Afridi while declining to comment on a possible return to international cricket.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2011.

Can India's cricketers turn into the game's big thinkers?

That Kumar Sangakkara is one of the more eloquent cricketers of this generation is no secret. His TV interviews only rarely contain well-worn cricketer clich├ęs such as "bowling in the right areas" or about "focusing on the process". Besides the cricketing gear his kit bag is often known to have books on subjects such as economics, politics and law. It wasn't a surprise, therefore, when the MCC invited him to deliver this year's Colin Cowdrey lecture at Lord's. And there is much to speak about international cricket today. The implications of commercial considerations dominating the game, the arrogance of Indian administrators, UDRS, match fixing and the falling standards of player behaviour... But Sangakkara chose not to take the easy option. In his speech titled "The Spirit of Sri Lanka's Cricket — A celebration of our uniqueness" he offered a brilliantly candid socio-political analysis of a strife-torn Sri Lanka in which cricket was a mere prop. Putting at risk his very longevity in the game, and even physical security when he goes back to Colombo, he didn't pull punches when describing the loathsome politics of the cricket board or the racial hatred-promoting activism of Janatha Vimukti Perumana, a left wing political outfit.

Munir with five strokes lead in Byco Sindh Open Golf - ESPN KARACHI

Karachi—Veteran star Muhammad Muneer gained control on the second day of Byco 13th Sindh Open Golf Championship by securing handy five strokes lead at Arabian Sea Country Club (ASCC) on Saturday.

Munir displayed a craftsmanship despite strong wind under cloudy conditions to fire 5-under-par 67 to finish the day as a sole leader with an aggregate of 133 following his supreme opening round of six-under-par 66 with Ansar Mahmood.

Country’s senior most golfer Munir after making eight birdies in brilliant display in the first round, he continued his smart and accurate touch as his score was laced with as many six more birdies including at troy on hole one, two and three and one bogey on 12th hole.

Muneer’s Islamabad city-mate Ansar Mahmood left five stroke behind after he ended the second round with par 72 rounds among the pack of 89 golfers in Rs 1.1 million prize money competition.

Ansar Mahmood of Pakistan Navy also made half a dozen birdies after starting the day with double bogey on hole one.

Shahid Javed Khan of Royal Palm Club Lahore jumped to third spot with total of 141 after rounds of 71 and 70. He started with three straight on first three holes and played 32 at front nine and added two more birdies at back nine including a bogey on hole 12th.

Defending Champion Shabbir Iqbal, the winner of CNS Golf last week was lying joint fourth nine strokes behind the leader with total of 142 with identical rounds of 71-71. Shabbir’s made three birdies and two bogeys. As expected Ghani Khan of KGC retained his senior professional crown with three stroke lead over Muhammad Ilyas of Lahore Gymkhana.

57-year-old Ghani after playing first round of 70 added par 72-round to end with total 142 to end on the top. Muhammad Ilyas finished and Abdul Hameed finished runner-up with total of 145.—APMSD

Pakistan in easy pool of World Cup Team Snooker - ESPN KARACHI

Karachi—Pakistan has been drawn in compratively easy pool of upcoming World Cup Team Snooker Championship being staged at Bangkok (Thailand) from July 11 to 17.

Pakistan has been drawn in group “A” with Egypt, Germany, Ireland and Wales in 20 team championships.

After the round robin league, two top from each group will qualify for quarter-finals. Each match will include singles and doubles frames.

In the meantime Pakistan’s leading cueist Muhammad Sajjad is gearing-up for the upcoming global event.

“This is very high class and tough team event with all the top professionals with in action with Asian cueist,” he told APP during a training break at Karachi Club Billiards Hall on Saturday.

Former National Champion, Muhammad Sajjad with reigning National Champion Shahid Aftab will be representing Pakistan in the premier professional event of Asia.

Sargodha-based Sajjad said he had participated in 6-Red event World Cup but this will be a new experience him to take part in full- fledged 15 Red ball competition.

“I have played against the best professionals and beaten few of them in past. But this will be new frontier for me,” former Asian number two, said.

Muhammad Sajjad said he with Shahid Aftab was going through hard training session and hoping to perform well in this class competition.

“I know the importance of this World team Cup and looking to deliver our best,” he commented.

He said recent 7-nation International team event held in Dubai was good build for Pakistan team and hope to keep up the momentum.

In the meantime Pakistan Billiards and Snooker Association (PBSA) has announced the draw of the world cup. Pakistan’s duo of Shahid Aftab and Muhammad Sajjad has been included in the event as wild card.—APP