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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Top 12 wicket-takers in the World Cup

he top 12 wicket-takers in the 2011 World Cup. Bowler Matches Wickets Average
 Shahid Afridi (Pakistan) 8 21 12.85 
Zaheer Khan (India) 9 21 18.76 
Tim Southee (New Zealand) 8 18 17.33
 Robin Peterson (South Africa) 7 15 15.86
 Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka) 9 15 19.40 
Yuvraj Singh (India) 9 15 25.13
 Imran Tahir (South Africa) 5 14 10.71
 Umar Gul (Pakistan) 8 14 19.42
 Kemar Roach (West Indies) 6 13 15.00 
Brett Lee (Australia) 7 13 18.07
 Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) 7 13 20.76 
Harvir Baidwan (Canada) 6 13 23.61

What Lala Said

Lala won the heart of his nation even if he didn’t win the World Cup.
Pakistan Skipper Shahid Afridi has been on a roll, not just on the field but also off it. From the get go, he has said and done the right things – and he sure has mastered the art of public speaking.
Confident, eloquent, honest and behind his boys 100 per cent,he’s been nothing short of brilliant behind the microphone, addressing members of the press and audiences around the world.
While it was his post-match presentation ceremony speech in Mohali that clean bowled us, where he apologised to the Pakistani nation for not making it to the final …

… on many other occasions he has been the strong front the Pakistan team needed. His immediate response to Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s statements was that he shouldn’t have said what he did, and later stated: “Rehman Malik made a mistake making those remarks, especially at that stage, and I hope in future he will not repeat it.” In the pre-match press conference in Mohali, despite all the hype about the next day’s match, Afridi was calm and composed. And he put things in perspective.

Asked about an alleged statement he made about not allowing Tendulkar to score his 100th century in the semi-final – which for the record he didn’t, taking a good catch off Ajmal’s bowling after Tendulkar was dropped thrice in his own overs – Afridi had this to say: “I’ve been following the Indian media for the past two days and I have noticed that they try to create a mountain out of a molehill. I didn’t say anything against Sachin; however, if somebody asks me, as captain, I will obviously not say I’ll allow him to score a century,” (see video above – much more interesting to hear in Urdu). Criticising the Indian media further, he said, “The media is at fault for the sour Indo-Pak relations.” Adding later, “This is a huge occasion for us, to come and play in India and cricket has always strengthened this (Pak-India) relationship,” telling them to focus on the positives for a change (see the video at the eight-minute mark).
In the post-match ceremony and press conference…

… Afridi graciously congratulated the Indian team and Indian spectators on their win, commended his boys for making it this far in the tournament, expressing his happiness at captaining such a side, while admitting with honesty that the Pakistan team’s poor batting and fielding performance was inexcusable. About his own batting, he admitted that he failed to do the needful in the semi-final. “In batting sometimes I perform and sometimes I don’t, but for the last four years I’ve been focusing on my bowling,” he remarked in an earlier press conference. And focus on his bowling he did, picking up 21 wickets at an average economy rate of 4.0 with a 5-wicket haul to his name.
Speaking to reporters at his home in Karachi, once again, he apologised – which elicited a similar response to that of the previous apology: that there was no need – for the poor batting performance in particular.

Again, when the Paksitan-India match topic was broached, he set the record straight with the Pakistani media the way he did with the Indian: “Why are we so against India? In every home there are Indian dramas running, we watch Indian movies, our wedding ceremonies follow Indian trends, then what is all the hatred and competition about? Treat a sport as a sport.”
Throughout, Afridi emphasised, “we are a unit,” “the boys are doing a great job” and “I am very happy as a captain.” Rebuilding the team has been an important part of the journey. “We’ve gone through a tough time in the last seven, eight months,” said Afridi, adding, “This World Cup matters a lot to us; we’re trying to bring cricket back home.” And he may have already clinched that deal ­ – word is, Sri Lanka may be touring Pakistan in October-November.
Afridi has tackled questions, criticisms and pressure with seeming effortless ease, all in a bid to keep his boys relaxed and focused on the game. And though Afridi has matured, humour is not beyond him. The man whose antics such as his infamous ‘kiss to Kallis’ keep audiences entertained, he kept it up off the field as well. In the post-match press conference in Mohali, Afridi cheekily added that he did, after all, prevent Tendulkar from scoring a century.
Back home, crediting Pakistan cricket with the feat, he said, “We facilitated a meeting between two prime ministers.” His casual manner at the pre-match ceremony before the Mohali showdown was also amazing.
Not able to hear one question very well, which was about the average age of the Pakistan team being quite young, Afridi remarked: “You’re saying this by looking at me?” (yeh aap mujhe dekh ke keh rahay hain?). And in the midst of responding to two questions asked by one reporter, mid-sentence he halted to say: “Yaar sawal doosra konsa tha bhai,” causing the crowd to erupt into laughter with Afridi himself breaking out into a smile.
Said Afridi: “I’m a cricketer first, then a diplomat. I am the ambassador of Pakistan so I should know what to say.” Well, he certainly did. He kept his nerve and helped keep the team’s. I’d vote for him as our goodwill ambassador any day!

Afridi for result-oriented West Indies tour

Captain Pakistan Cricket team Shahid Afridi said on Sunday that upcoming visit of Pakistan team to West Indies would be result-oriented. “Our team is in good spirit and high morale,”  Afridi said.
Talking to a private news channel, he said new youngsters should be given chance to prove their worth in the forthcoming tour.
“Cricket experts, lovers, supporters and family are expecting me to lead the team in the next trip, “ he said.
Afridi said that expectations of Pakistani people are too high from the national team, adding that new talented youngsters could help bringing better results in future.
He said that India was a favorite team in the mega event and they played well and won the World Cup. 
Shahid Afridi thanked the Pakistani media and nation over support throughout the event.

Greenshirts overlook retiring Akhtar

 In the final buildup towards the World Cup semifinal between Pakistan and India here at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday there was intense speculation on whether Shoaib Akhtar will feature in the match.

“Is Akhtar playing today?” seemed to be the question of the day, at least till the squads were announced after the toss at 2.00 pm today.

The fact that the maverick fast bowler decided to warm up with his teammates ahead of the match only added to the excitement among the local media, especially TV reporters who were constantly sending news back to their respective studios.

But the Pakistan team management’s decided against bringing Akhtar back in the playing eleven. The move has almost confirmed that it’s finally game over the veteran pacer.

Akhtar, 35, had announced that he will retire after the World Cup.

It means that unless Pakistan reach the final and have a change of heart about the mercurial bowler, the last over of Akhtar’s colourful cricket career was the one he bowled against New Zealand at Pallekele (Sri Lanka) earlier this month. Ross Taylor, the New Zealand vice-captain smashed him for 28 runs in that over to effectively end Akhtar’s career. It’s a sad end for a charismatic player, who enthralled millions of fans around the globe with his lightning pace.

Akhtar, according to sources was desperate to play against the Indians but the team management was convinced that he is not fit enough to last his full quota of ten overs. A day before the high-octane match against India, Akhtar voiced his desire to play in it. “This is my last tournament and I want to be remembered as someone who won this semifinal and then the final,” he said in an interview.

“Winning this match and performing well against India, people will remember you all their lifetime and you will be talked about for many centuries. I want to be remembered, I want to do well and I want to give every ounce of what I have left in my body to go out there, provide and deliver.”

Akhtar, who has taken 247 ODI wickets, also spoke on why winning the World Cup is so important for Pakistan. “Pakistan need victory more than any other nation right at this moment.”

Cricket and the national spirit

Commenting on the trouble Sri Lankan cricket team rain into Lahore few years back, the New York Times drew world attention to the fact that cricket is an important factor in strengthening nationalism both in Sri Lankan and Pakistan as it provides common experience to millions whenever the home team is performing on international stage. Common national experience is assured by popularity of the game in the two countries.

In Pakistan the spirit of nationalism is kicked up manifolds when Pakistan is playing against India, the old rival both in the game and the politics. The match between the two countries could also yield a fair amount of tolerance and goodwill as it happened during Musharraf visit to Delhi and Gilani’s visit to Mohali. In both cases Manmohan Singh was the host and in both cases Indo-Pak bitterness was over taken by cricket’s reservoir of goodwill. Sports could play tremendous role in opening door for peace even among bitterest of enemies. Late Justice Warren of American Supreme Court once remarked his newspaper reading habit saying, “On the front pages I read about man’s failure and on sports pages I read about his success.”

Besides generating goodwill between the two neighbours, the Mohali encounter has with one stroke restored Pakistan’s image of cricketing nation. Over the last several years Pakistan’s image of peace loving nation offering an atmosphere for cricketing has gone down along with what the fame offers in the process of national unification. Our re-entry into the international cricket highlighted by Mohali should revive that reputation.

As regards, Pakistan’s defeat one should not to be too seriously. Among the two contestants one has to loose. In any case India’s victory is not much convincing. With only a degree of improvement in its batting line and fielding, Pakistan could win the match.

Loosing by twenty-nine runs is not much of a defeat. Watching India and Pakistan play in the same segment of time, leads one to conclude that there is not much difference in the capability of two teams. Going beyond the loss or given question in cricket match, curtain has been raised on the prospects of resorting all disputes strong negotiation.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani joyfully disclosed of an accord to resolve all disputes peacefully. His host Dr Manmohan Singh responded by stressing that a “permanent reconciliation was required with Pakistan.

His Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao went a step further saying “Today it is the Mohali spirit that pervades our relationship. This was extremely positive and encouraging spirit that has been generated” as a revolt of meeting between the two Prime Ministers. 

Plea against reception for cricket team

AN application has been moved in the Lahore High Court, seeking suspension of a reception being arranged by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the honour of the Pakistan cricket team.

Petitioner Muhammad Iftikhar Hussain Rajput, in his application on Saturday, submitted that the CM should be stopped from hosting the reception which would cost Rs3 million to the national exchequer. He said if the CM wanted to give prizes to the cricketers, he should do that from his own pocket.

The petitioner, through his counsel Barrister Javed Iqbal Jafree, submitted that the reception was scheduled for April 5 where not only cricketers but close friends of the CM were also invited. He said the CM had announced giving cash awards to the players only to get the media projection at the expense of the national exchequer.

He said that in 1999 during Nawaz Sharif’s rule, the country was on the verge of bankruptcy but the whole Sharif family fled to Saudi Arabia instead of staying here to save the country. He said the family never played a role for the betterment of the country. He also requested the court to make the CM party in the petition and he should hire an advocate to defend him before the court from his own pocket.

Rajpoot has filed the application in an already pending petition of Javed Iqbal Jafree against distribution of the prizes to the crickets.

NAB DG: AN application has been filed in the Lahore High Court, seeking directions for retraining Punjab Acting Director General NAB Rana Zahid Mahmood from functioning as the matter against his appointment is pending before the court.

Shah Faisal Qureshi on Saturday filed the application to be affixed to in his already pending petition against the appointment of the NAB DG. The applicant submitted that the DG was committing illegalities while the case was pending against his appointment. He said as he was direct victim of the wrongdoings of the DG and after challenging his appointment, he feared bias on the part of the DG in his case which was pending for inquiry with NAB.

The petitioner, through his counsel in his already pending petition, submitted that the appointment of Mr Zahid was made on contract in violation of rules and regulations so the step by the government was illegal and unlawful and liable to be declared null and void. 


Pakistan’s discarded middle-order batsman Mohammad Yousuf has praised Shahid Afridi’s impeccable captaincy during the ICC World Cup 2011 that took the team to the semi-final of the tournament.
“Afridi’s captaincy was impressive throughout the tournament. The decisions he made during the tournament are commendable. Afridi made the team a unit and under him it has been shaped well,” Yousuf said. He also praised Afridi for uniting the team and leading them from the front.
The veteran, who was dropped from the ICC World Cup 2011 squad because of poor form and fitness, appreciated the inclusion of young middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq in the national squad.
“Shafiq is a good inclusion. In fact his inclusion in the team has resolved Pakistan’s batting problems to an extent. After a long time have Pakistan seen the talent of Shafiq’s calibre. He is technically sound and mentally strong,” Yousuf said.
Yousuf admitted that Shafiq’s wicket was crucial in the semi-final and his departure affected the outcome of the match. However, he highlighted that the senior players Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan failed to rise to the occasion as both scored at an extremely low pace.
Praising the bowlers, the ace middle-order batsman reiterated that the bowling department had once again performed very well during the whole tournament. Even in the semi-final after being initially clobbered by the Indian openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, the bowlers came back and succeeded in restricting the Indians to a manageable total of 260 runs.
Speaking on the ICC World Cup 2011 final, Yousuf favoured India to lift the cup because according to the veteran batsman, India have a very strong batting side and playing in home conditions will boost their chances against Sri Lanka massively.
Meanwhile, Yousuf reiterated that he wanted to represent Pakistan in the mega event, especially in the match against India. He, however, shunned from revealing his future plans as a batsman.
Yousuf currently does not hold Pakistan Cricket Board’s central contract, which is an indication that he might not be considered by the Board for selection in future.
On the other hand, Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi has asked for the inclusion of youngsters in the team. In the current scenario, it looks like Pakistan have no other option but to inject young blood in the national squad which would mean that Yousuf’s days as a batsman are all but over.

Afridi asks to be rested

Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi and other senior members of the team may be rested for the upcoming West Indies tour that begins on April 18.

"I am yet to decide on the West Indies tour," Afridi said at a press conference following Pakistan's World Cup exit. He also hinted at rest for other seniors in the side, but the PCB is yet to respond.

Pakistan have had a draining schedule in recent times, starting with the World Twenty20 in April 2010 followed by the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and a tour of England, which included full series against Australia and the home side. Next was another full-fledged bilateral series in the UAE against South Africa, and a long tour of New Zealand, before the team returned to the subcontinent for the World Cup. In addition to their gruelling on-field commitments, the Pakistan team also hurtled from one off-field controversy to another, including the spot-fixing scandal and Zulqarnain Haider's mysterious exit from the team hotel in UAE.

Ajmal speaks against DRS

Spinner Pakistan cricket team Saeed Ajmal, expressing his anger over the reversal of Leg Before Wicket (LBW) decision of Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, said that he had taken the latter’s wicket but Decision Review System (DRS) showed ball breaking more than what actually happened, Geo News reported.

Meanwhile, Wahab Riaz, the star from Pakistan side in semifinal against India, said that he was flying over the moon after getting Yuvrag out however; team’s victory could have multiplied my happiness.

Two Pakistani frontline bowlers said this while talking to media after arrival at Allama Iqbal airport.

Saeed Ajmal said the ball that trapped Tendulkar before wickets was not spinning much instead it just held its straight trajectory but he was surprised to see the ball taking spin in DRS’s graphics.

On the occasion, opening batsman Mohammed Hafeez said he is still regretting at his mistake to play such a lazy shot to be declared out against India but he seemed satisfied with his overall performance in mega event.

Other players accompanied by Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz were Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umer Akmal, Abdul Rehman, Asad Shafique but all declined to speak to media.
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