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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Afridi says his dream of winning World Cup for Pakistan becoming a reality

Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has said that his dream of winning the coveted World Cup trophy for his country is on its way to becoming a reality as he led his team to a thumping victory against the West Indies in the quarterfinal on Wednesday.
"It's my dream to do something for my country. It's my dream to help Pakistan win the World Cup and today all of us are extremely happy that we have taken another step towards that direction," The News quoted Afridi, as saying.
He expressed his confidence that his team, which registered a 10-wicket win against the Windies in the knockout stage, would maintain its golden form in the March 30 semi-final match.
"I'm confident that the team will maintain its form in our next match," said the seasoned allrounder.
Afridi took four wickets for 30 runs to take his tally in the tournament to 21, becoming Pakistan's most successful bowler in a World Cup. Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan owned the previous record with 17 wickets in the 1987 tournament.
But the skipper made it clear that personal goals were not important to him.
"It's all about the team and Pakistan," he said. "We are here to give the best for our country and each and every player in our team is trying to do that."
Pakistan may encounter archrivals India in the semi-final stage, if the co-hosts beat Australia in Thursday's quarterfinal in Ahmedabad.
Expectations are high in the cricket-crazy region for a mouth-watering Pakistan-India clash for a slot in the World Cup final match to be held at Mumbai on April 2, but Afridi said that he would not be losing sleep over it.
"It doesn't matter if we play India or Australia in the semifinal," he said.
"The good thing for us is that we are going to Mohali and now our aim is to win a place in the final. I'm confident that the team will maintain its form in our next match," he added.

Pakistan should improve in fielding, keeping: Imran Khan

 Pakistan team should improve fielding, wicketkeeping apart from putting their best batsmen upfront for better result in semifinals of Cricket World Cup (CWC), former captain Imran Khan said. “We are still lacking in fielding and dropped a few catches and Kamran Akmal missed a stumping against the West Indies,” he told a private TV Channel on Wednesday evening.
He reiterated that Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-haq should bat at number three and four spot.
He said such mistakes will be fatal in the semifinals and Pakistan team management must work on these gray areas.          
“We cannot afford these mistakes against tougher opponents in semifinal orfinal,”Imran Khan said.
He praised Pakistan spinners Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez for their outstanding bowling which brought an easy win for Pakistan.
However, he, asked Pakistan team not to celebrate victory in big fashion and plan strategy for the semifinal.
Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to triumph in 1992 World Cup in Melbourne, maintained that express fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who had announced his retirements from all form of cricket should have played against West Indies.
Another former Pakistan skipper Rashid Latif showered praised on the team for their an emphatic win which put them in the semifinals, he told APP.
“Pakistan team was definitely at its brilliant best when they crushed the West Indies. Our batting and bowling clicked well,” he added.
However, he said, that tougher times are ahead for Pakistan team in the semifinal. He said West Indies were not a tougher opponents but semifinal will be a big challenging task for Pakistan team. 
He asked the team management to work on the gray areas and fielding and keeping should be improved plus batting.
“Our batting must click for better display in the next game,” Rashid Latif, who played as keeper in 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
A member of 1992 World Cup winning team and ex-captain Moin Khan said he delighted with fine display of Pakistan team on Pakistan Day.
“Its my wish and pray that Pakistan team should win the World Cup again,” he said.
Former left arm spinner and Chief Selector Iqbal Qasim said a great task lied ahead of Pakistan in the semifinals.    
“From now on it will be tough battle for the title and team making fewer mistake and execute plan in better way will emerge winner,” he said.
“Its good to see Pakistan living upto its to reputation against West Indies in the quarterfinal. It will be very tough games in semifinals with four best teams in action”, he noted.
Jalaluddin w,ho had the honor of performing the first hat-trick against Australia at Hyderabad said Pakistan should forget the easy win against West Indies and instead workout plan for all important pre-final.
He said if Pakistan was unable to hold its chances and repeated the mistakes it could be dangerous for the team.
“We needed to overcome most of the problems in order to reach the final,” he pointed.

Imran demands apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh

Ex-Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan has demanded an official apology from the Government of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities allegedly committed by the Pakistan Army in 1971.

Imran Khan stunned everyone during a live television show hosted by Hamid Mir on Geo News and Geo Super TV channels on Wednesday afternoon just a few moments before the start of a cricket match between Pakistan and West Indies in Mirpur, Bangladesh.

Hamid Mir invited Imran Khan in his live TV show on March 23, which was Pakistan Day. He asked a question to Imran Khan about the expected behaviour of Bangladeshi crowd in Mirpur. Imran Khan said that Bangladeshis will support the Pakistani cricket team.

Hamid Mir informed Imran Khan that today (March 23) is Pakistan Day and Bangladeshis will support Pakistani cricket team “Don’t you think that the time has come that the Pakistani government must apologise to the people of Bangladesh for Army operation in 1971”? Imran Khan immediately agreed with Hamid Mir and said that previously he was also of the opinion that Army operation was a good thing because there was no independent media in Pakistan in 1971. Imran Khan said that when he went to England in 1971, his Bengali friends told him the reality of the Army operation. Imran Khan said that he experienced the love and affection of Bangladeshis during an exhibition match in Mirpur in 1989.

He said that the Army operations always created hatred in Pakistan and we must apologise to Bangladeshis. Responding another question, Imran Khan said “we must learn lessons from our past mistakes and we should not repeat these mistakes in Balochistan and tribal areas where we have started Army operations on the US pressure”. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is the first ever Pakistani dignitary who has demanded an apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh on a live TV show in Pakistan.

Pak cricket team has "no security concerns about going to India" for WC semis: Waqar

The Pakistan cricket team has no security concerns over going to India for their World Cup semi-final at Mohali on March 30, coach Waqar Younis has said, adding that he is in fact happy to visit the neighbouring country.
"We have to go wherever the tournament schedule takes us. We have no security concerns about going to India. It's good to go to a neighbouring country. I am happy to go to India," The Nation quoted Waqar, as telling reporters after his team thrashed the West Indies by 10 wickets in their quarterfinal match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
He said that Pakistan had toured India in 1999 when the relations between both countries were not that good. "Now things are far better," he added.
Waqar felt that Pakistan would not get the same backing from the Indian crowd as they got in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but expected the presence of Pakistani fans in the Mohali stadium.
"We won't get crowd support like here or Sri Lanka but some people might cross the border to see us play. We have to play wherever the tournament takes us. We are not concerned by security," he said.
Pakistan may encounter archrivals India in the semi-final stage, if the co-hosts beat Australia in Thursday's quarterfinal in Ahmedabad. (ANI)

Does the Pakistan Cricket Team have the Goods to Really Win the Cup?

A devastating blow seemed to hit the Pakistani cricket team early on in their match on March 19. When Umar Gul pulled up with a what looked like a painful knee injury during the second over against Australia, Pakistan’s chances of beating the Aussies and clinching the number one spot in their group seemed to suddenly drop like a ball through Kamran Akmal’s fingers. And in a way, it was happening in the worst way possible: not by Australia outclassing them, but a cruel twist of fate. It looked like Ricky Ponting’s boys were being handed a gift from the cricket Gods.
Of course, just as quickly as Gul stuttered and stopped and black clouds swept over Pakistan, the skies miraculously cleared. After a bit of on-field medical attention by the physiotherapist, Gul was back. He kept the Aussies to just two runs in his first over and nabbed the first wicket of the match in his next over. Fortune was not on the side of the Aussies after all.
By now there should be no doubt now about the depth and talent in Pakistan’s bowling line-up. Pakistan has been cruel and miserly in giving up runs to Australia and the West Indies. The timing for this superb display of bowling prowess and intelligent captaining has been perfect: it allowed Pakistan to grab top spot in their group and thus face off against the weak Windies in Mirpur, allowing the Green Shirts to comfortably move into the semis

Pakistan’s surprise consistency (the crushing 110-run loss to New Zealand the obvious exception) and discipline has caught everyone off guard. Everyone knew the team had the talent to win games, but with such ease?
There, of course, have been other surprises in this tournament, too: Ponting’s failures and England’s inconsistencies, to name just a few. England has been so unpredictable (while Pakistan has been so commanding) a ESPNcricinfo commentator said, “If England are the new Pakistan, Pakistan are fast becoming the new Australia.”
But are the Pakistani cricketers on a sustainable roll? Do they have unstoppable momentum and real unity? Are they getting better as the tournament progresses?
Things looked good coming into the World Cup too. Pakistan were solid in their series in New Zealand in early 2011 when they took the series 3-2. Captain Shahid Afridi was even talking a good game in the lead-up to the international cricket tournament, saying his boys were working hard and playing cohesive team cricket.
And as expected, they trounced Bangladesh by 89 runs in an World Cup warm-up match (though three days later they floundered against England). After playing well in both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Pakistan heads to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, India, for their semi-final match.
And if Pakistan can hold it together and continue to play what Reuters has described as “clinical” cricket, steadily spinning their opponents into the dust, they will play the finals in Mumbai on April 2. But playing in India will have an altogether different vibe for the Green Shirts from playing in the less hostile terrain of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Afridi on the cusp of joining the great Imran

A month ago, any suggestion that Shahid Afridi could emulate the achievements of Pakistan's most famous sporting hero Imran Khan would have sounded ridiculous.
But within minutes of Afridi leading his men to the World Cup semi-final with a thumping 10-wicket win over West Indies, on Wednesday countless discussions on the internet debated the very same subject.
The team had lost three of their most talented players -- Salman Butt and pace duo Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir -- to corruption bans and two weeks before the tournament did not even know who their captain would be. Now, they are just two matches away from walking off with the top prize.
To reach the final, they will have to either beat India in front of 33,000 roaring fans in Mohali on March 30 or deny Australia a place in the showpiece match for the first time since 1992.
Pulling off either feat would have sounded like a pipedream to most Pakistanis when they were asked to weigh up their team's fortunes in the run-up to the February 19-April 2 event.
But in just seven matches, Afridi has instilled a 'can do' attitude into his men while leading from the front -- raising huge expectations back home that the 31-year-old can soothe the wounds of a troubled nation by winning a second World Cup.
Such is the celebratory mood in the Pakistan, that residents were even spared the daily power cuts that authorities impose to conserve energy.
"The hopes in the country is pretty high and I got to know there was no load-shedding (power failure) today and that's make me more happier as the entire country watched the game and they prayed for us," coach Waqar Younis said after the win over West Indies.
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