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Saturday, March 26, 2011

‘PCB should pay damages to other sports in Pakistan’

Pakistan’s former international tennis player Khawaja Saeed Hai said that the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009 had nearly destroyed all sporting activities in the country and therefore it was the obligation of thee Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to compensate for it and help out the other sports that have suffered as a result.
“We used to organise many tournaments in the country and many foreign players used to participate in our events. But the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team has brought us to a complete stand still as far as international activity at home is concerned,” Khawaja Saeed Hai told PPI.
He said that the incident was a very unfortunate one and it had a very negative impact on each and every sport of in Pakistan.
“I think they (PCB) should compensate all the sports, which have endured the brunt in the aftermath of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team,” the 81-year-old, who was a former Pakistan number one and the first Pakistani tennis player to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam through qualifying matches, said.
“We now have to send our team to the opponents’ countries even in our Davis Cup ties. Our opponents get the home-ground advantage even in away games,” he lamented.
He said that PCB should have had measures in place to ensure security for the touring Sri Lankans and that the careless actions of the cricket board had cost the country a great deal.
“Sponsors used to pour money when there was international participation in our tournaments. But now sponsors are no more interested,” he said.
Saeed, who is the president of Pakistan Senior’s Tennis Association (PSTA) and is the vice president of Sindh Tennis Association (STA), further said that funds are very necessary for holding successful events.
“There should be lucrative prize money in order to attract even our national players for participation in our events.”

Political leadership optimistic about Pakistan’s victory against India

Like all Pakistanis strongly cherishing the hope about a tremendous victory of Pakistani cricket team in World Cup semi-final against India, the country’s political leadership also seems optimistic in this regard. Talking to APP here Saturday, Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi said Pakistan cricket team played excellent during the World Cup matches bringing rejoice for entire nation. He said Pakistani cricket team is fully capable to win semi-final match from Indian team on latter’s home ground.
Chairman Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf and cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan said that Semi Final would be an important show for Pakistan and team has capable enough to upset India on its home ground.
Replying to a question, Khan said India would be in pressure on its home ground and Pakistan team has good combination of bowlers and batsman to face any situation. 
“Yes, I think Shoaib Akhtar should be part of the team playing semi final and his contributions would be important for the victory, Khan replied to a query.
Information Secretary Pakistan Peoples Party Qamar Zaman Kaira expressed his best wishes for Pakistani team and hoped that Pakistani players would gift a great victory to nation.
He said player has ability to play amid pressure against any country including India.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam MNA Kashmala Tariq said that its an important match and Shahid Khan Afradi proved himself a good captain in international matches and hoped that in his leadership, the team would come up with a thumping victory.

Dhoni has an advantage over Afridi as captain: Imran

Pakistan's legendary cricketer Imran Khan said on Saturday the experience of leading the side in Tests will give India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni an edge over his Pakistani counterpart Shahid Afridi in the World Cup semi-final to be held in Mohali March 30. "Dhoni has an advantage because he is ca
ptaining in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20. On the other hand, Afridi plays doesn't captain in Tests. I must say one thing that Test cricket is the real cricket," said Imran during a promotional event here.

"A Test match teaches a cricketer to play under real pressure. Test match is a test. Test match is about temperament, technique and talent. He (Afridi) did a mistake by giving away the test captaincy," said Pakistan's only World Cup winning captain when asked to compare between the two captains.
Khan also said that if Afridi gets back to his batting form then it can make a difference between winning and losing.
"If Afridi has his day and sticks to the crease for 10 overs then it can make a big difference between winning and losing," said Khan.

India promises 'state-level' security to visiting Pak cricket team

india has promised 'state-level' security to the Pakistan cricket team visiting the country for the remaining World Cup matches, in response to apprehensions that terrorists would try to target the players during the tournament.
"Indian officials promised special security to Pakistan's cricket team," The Express Tribune Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua, as saying.
Janjua said she hoped that the Indian government would do its best to provide watertight security to the visiting Pakistan team in India.
Responding to a question about visas, she said that India would relax its visa rules for the Pakistani fans travelling to the neighbouring county to watch the mouth-watering match.
The government is in discussions with the Pakistan Cricket Board and the Indian High Commission to arrange special visas for Pakistani fans, she added.
According to an Indian High Commission official in Islamabad, more than 5,070 visas have already been issued to Pakistanis to watch the much-awaited Indo-Pak semi-final clash.
Janjua said that New Delhi had informed Islamabad that those having confirmed tickets would be issued visas on a priority basis.
She, however, declined to comment on the Shiv Sena chief's statement regarding threats to the Pakistani team, saying: "It's not the proper time to comment on the statement."
The head of the right-wing Hindu group had said last month that the Shiv Sena would decide if Pakistan should be allowed to play in Mumbai, if it reaches the World Cup's final, which is to be played in Mumbai on April 2.
Earlier this week, Pakistan had sent a formal request to New Delhi through its High Commission for special security for the visiting cricket team.
When asked during a press briefing about the arrangements made by India for the Pakistani cricket team that will play semi-finals in Mohali on March 30, she replied: "Our High Commissioner in New Delhi has been assured by the Indian Government the security of Pakistani cricket players."
"When any country decides to host such an important event it takes responsibility to provide security. And India has assured us security of our players," Janjua added

Indian Bookies Make Pakistan Favourites

The Indian bookies have shocked cricket fans round the world placing the Pakistan team as a favourite to lift the 2011 Cup.
After the beating of Australia and then the West Indies the Pakistani team is believed to be at its peak in the tournament. The Indian team may have been down graded due to home crowd pressure.
Being a favourite is never in a teams favour. However with the crashing out of South Africa it seems clear that one of the sub continent team will definately lift the cup.

Sri Lanka may pull out of Pakistan tour

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) efforts to convince teams to tour the country seemed to have received a setback following a discouraging response from the International Cricket Council (ICC) over Sri Lanka touring Pakistan later this year.
According to the ICC’s Future Tour Programme (FTP), Sri Lanka are due to tour in October but the board’s chairman DS de Silva threw the ball in the ICC’s court saying it will follow directives by the governing body on touring Pakistan.
However, the PCB, itching to get a positive response, has not received a positive response from the ICC yet.
“The ICC’s response on the matter is not encouraging,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune. “Although they haven’t given us a straight no, it’s officials seem reluctant to give their go-ahead for the series when we contacted them.”
Sri Lanka left midway through their last tour of Pakistan in March 2009 after an attack on their team bus left at least eight people dead while injuring several others, including players and team officials. In the aftermath, all tours to Pakistan were cancelled and the country was removed as co-hosts of the ongoing World Cup besides failing to earn rights to any major ICC event until 2015.
“The ICC is still not convinced about the security situation in Pakistan so it seems difficult that they’d give their approval. The PCB may then be forced to host the series at a neutral venue.”
The official, however, said the PCB will keep fingers crossed and will continue its effort to host the series.
“We haven’t given up and will keep on hoping and trying to convince them. We’ll also raise the matter in the ICC meeting next month.”
The PCB Chairman Ijaz Butt, who is expected to leave for India before the World Cup semi-finals, will attend that meeting scheduled to start in Mumbai on the day of the final. The chairman will be accompanied by the board’s chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed in the meeting where they are also expected to meet their Indian counterparts for talks of a bilateral series.

Legend's tips do the trick for Afridi and his team

 The tips Shahid Afridi got from former Pakistan greats seem to have worked wonders for his players who are preparing to face India in next week's high-voltage World Cup semifinal in Mohali.

Afridi, who has been praised by his teammates for seeking their advice, recently spoke to former captains Imran Khan and Wasim Akram about the team's campaign in the quadrennial extravaganza.

Imran confirmed that he had a talk with Afridi. "Yes, we discussed the team composition and batting order and some other issues. I gave him my advice, which I felt is best for the team, but at the end of the day he is there with the team and has to take the decisions," Imran said.

The cricketer-turned politician said that he had advised Afridi about playing Saeed Ajmal and shuffling the batting order to send Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq up the order. "But he has his reasons for some decisions," the former great added.

Imran has constantly been advising the Pakistan team to play positively and take bold decisions and not be afraid of defeat, a trait, he says, enabled him to lead Pakistan to the 1992 World Cup title.

Afridi is also said to have spoken to another former great, Wasim Akram, and got valuable tips from him. Akram has also called for the Pakistan team to play an extra specialist bowler in the crunch matches.

Sources said that Imran had told Afridi to tell the players to be mentally prepared for the semifinal against India and not take any extra pressure.

"Imran believes that it will be India which will be under more pressure compared to Pakistan as they are playing in front of their home crowd and Pakistan have their best chance of beating them in the World Cup," the source said.

Pakistan has always given India tough time as visiting team: Afridi

Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has said that Pakistan has always given a tough time to India when playing in the neighbouring country, and that his team will plan a better strategy against the hosts in their World Cup semi-final clash in Mohali. 

Afridi, who led his team to a thumping victory against the West Indies in the quarterfinal on Wednesday, said that the morale of his squad is very high, and that each player of the team has a sense of responsibility, especially against India. 

He further said that he had fulfilled the promise of reaching the semi-finals, and now all his boys were confident enough to tackle India and give positive results in the March 30 game. 

"The Pakistan team is ready to compete with any team anywhere and he will plan a strategy according to the situation. The boys are professional cricketers," The Nation quoted the skipper, as saying. 

Afridi had initially said that his team would prefer to play their quarterfinal or semifinal out of India because of the pressure involved in playing in front of the Indian crowd, but later retracted his statement, saying that Pakistan was willing to play at any venue, including India, as its main emphasis was on cricket and doing well on the field. 

"Of course, every team like to have the crowd supporting them but it doesn't mean we cannot play in front of fans, who are backing our rival team. There were over 30,000 people supporting Sri Lanka in Colombo but we won that match," he said. 

Expectations are high in the cricket-crazy region for a mouth-watering Indo-Pak clash for a slot in the World Cup final match to be held at Mumbai on April 2. 

India and Pakistan have not played in any bilateral series since the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. The Pakistan cricketers have also not played in the Indian Premier League since its first edition in early 2008.

Sachin will have to wait for 100 international tons: Afridi

KARACHI: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi predicted that Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar will have to wait until after the World Cup to reach the milestone of scoring 100 international centuries.

"Sachin will have to wait until after the World Cup for his 100th international century because we are not going to allow either him or any other Indian player to play a big innings," Afridi told a newspaper.

Tendulkar has been in prolific form in the World Cup and completed 18,000 runs in one-dayers in the previous game against Australia. He needs just one more hundred to complete 100 international centuries, the first by any batsman.

Pakistan will take on India in the second semifinal of the World Cup to be held in Mohali on March 30 and Afridi said he was confident of his side beating India.

"It is a game of cricket and both teams can lay claim they will win the semifinal but given our current form I am confident we can beat India," Afridi said.

Admitting that his teammates wanted to face India in the semifinals, the skipper said, "The players wanted this clash and we are looking forward to it. We know the expectations are high but at the end of the day I have told the players that the team, which controls and keeps its nerves in such a high tension match, will prevail."

Afridi also felt that the pressure on India would be far more in the semifinal as compared to Pakistan, as they would be playing in front of their home crowd.

"Normally whenever both teams play there is great pressure because of the high expectations of the people but this time India are playing in front of their home crowd and the pressure will be greater on them," he said.

Stating that his players were under no pressure because of the fact that Pakistan had never beaten India in a World Cup match before, Afridi said, "That is history and this team has a habit of changing history. More importantly the winning momentum we have got it allows the players to be better prepared for the big match."

The flamboyant all-rounder also made it clear the players were not feeling the pressure of having to go and play in India after a gap of nearly four years.

"We have a young team and many of our players have not played in India before but it is not a problem for them because they have become used to playing even home matches abroad. I am confident they can handle the pressures of playing in India."

Afridi, meanwhile, also appealed to the fans to treat this high-profile clash between the neighbours as just another cricket match.

Mirza, malik at odds over India-Pakistan tilt

India’s top women’s tennis player Sania Mirza, and her husband, former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik, will likely not be sharing the same room to watch Tuesday's highly-anticipated semifinal between the two neighbouring countries on television in Miami where she is playing in a tournament.
“I support India and Shoaib will support Pakistan as usual! The war is on,’’ said Sania Mirza.
“Be ready baby it’s on lol hahaha,” added Malik on Twitter. India’s tennis doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi also tweeted his best wishes to the Indian team.
“There we go:) enjoy it boys.. You’re half way there... We are dancing in Miami.”

India's bowling still a concern: Gavaskar

Former skipper Sunil Gavaskar believes India's bowling is still a concern and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to add some sting to their attack ahead of World Cup semifinal clash against Pakistan.

"Bowling is still a concern. Zaheer Khan is bowling well but there is still some sting missing in the second new-ball bowler. Munaf Patel is trying but he has just not been able to get any success," Gavaskar told ESPN STAR Sports. "With R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh bowling the way they are and Yuvraj picking up wickets, a bad spell or an off day for a regular bowler is camouflaged. But now with the rounds moving to the semi-finals and the finals, India as a team cannot afford too many bad overs," he said.

Yuvraj Singh, who was the hero of India's five-wicket victory over Australia last night, has so far taken 11 wickets and scored 341 runs in the World Cup and Gavaskar feels the talented left-hander deserves to be called India's genuine all-rounder.

"He deserves the tag of being India's genuine all-rounder. He is picking up wickets. He is back to his favourite backward-point fielding position. He is a rejuvenated cricketer," Gavaskar said.

"When India were in South Africa prior to the World Cup, he looked a little out of sorts. But he has come back strongly and whatever he did in that break before the World Cup, that seems to have worked wonders for him. He is now a serious contributor in this World Cup," he added.

Gavaskar also backed Dhoni's decision to pick left-hander Suresh Raina ahead of Yusuf Pathan for the crucial encounter.

Raina scored 34 of 28 balls and added 74 runs with Yuvraj in the successful chase of 261 on a slow and dry Motera track last night.

"His inclusion for the Australia clash proved right. He is a finisher. We have seen Raina bat at five or six in the one-day games and he has gone on to finish the innings, be it batting first or chasing.

"He gives India the thrust and when the team needed to move on, Raina stepped up to the plate. When he came in to bat, and a wicket had fallen, then Australia would have clawed back into the game.

"Although Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan can bat, the pressure could have been just too much for them. So Raina played his part. Not to forget his fielding too was crucial," added Gavaskar.

Former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, meanwhile, said the India-Pakistan semifinal might turn out to be a no-sweat contest for the hosts.

"It might turn out to be a one-sided game. India is a far better team and Pakistan have come through to the semifinals against all odds. The Pakistanis are undisciplined in many areas of their game. And to expect them to win three big matches successively is expecting too much," Manjrekar said.

"I would be surprised if they win against MS Dhoni's men. I expect India to win this match a lot more comfortably than they did against Australia," he added.

"Akhtar should play against India"

Wasim Akram firmly believes Pakistan should play Shoaib Akhtar against India in the semi-final.
By Faisal Kamal
The former Pakistan skipper the retiring speedster should feature in the Pakistan XI in the all-important semi-final against India at Mohali on March 30. Talking exclusively to Mobile ESPN from Karachi on Friday, Akram said that Shoaib is a gamble worth taking.

"Maybe Pakistan will play Shoaib Akhtar against India. I feel he deserves a place for sure. Wahab Riaz is bowling well but he is nothing exceptional and Shoaib could take his place. Shoaib's only problem in this ICC CWC has been his second spell. I have advised him to warm up before the second spell and that will help him," said Akram.

Going by his past record, Akhtar has always provided the psychological edge to Pakistan against arch-rivals India. The tear-away picked Sachin Tendulkar on a fast short-pitched delivery at Centurion in the 2003 edition to deny the master blaster a century. Akram feels that Akhtar is a different bowler against India.

"Shoaib against the Indians is always very dangerous. I know it is a big risk, but luck favours the brave. Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag are top-class players but against Shoaib it's a different duel altogether. He is an entertainer and he loves the big stage," said Akram

With Akhtar in the side, it will be a toss-up between Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman for the Pakistan think-tank at Mohali. Akram feels it's good for Shahid Afridi to be spoilt for choices.

"Saeed Ajmal bowled well against Australia. Though Pakistan can even revert to Abdur Rehman for the semis. Probably Shahid will asses the Mohali pitch and then take a call. When a team is performing well, these are good problems to have," said Akram.

India have won all the four ICC CWC encounters against Pakistan since 1992 but records fade away when the two teams take to the field. Akram feels it will surely be a very exciting affair.

"I feel that India are the favourites against Pakistan. Though Pakistan are also playing good cricket. India are definitely strong on paper, are an experienced side. Pakistan have an edge in the bowling department, they have a better variety. India-Pakistan match is always a pressure-cooker affair, whether you play in front of an empty stand or in Timbuktu. It will certainly be a close game," said Akram.

Pakistan cricket team return to hotel and celebration party

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