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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

BREAKING NEWS :Shahid Afridi Recieve Death Threats From Taliban

Please do not forget Shoaib Akhtar

Although the ‘Rawalpindi express’ has run out of steam and the aeroplane is grounded forever, Shoaib Akhtar, the man is never going to be erased from our memories. He will remain in the minds and hearts of cricket lovers for a long time to come. He has given a lot to cricket and the nation. Now PCB has a duty to give something back to its son. But PCB as we all know can certainly do this – disregard and disrespect a national hero.
Shoaib Akhtar has announced his retirement from all forms of the game. His announcement, for his supporters and critics alike, has come at the right time, a rarity for a Pakistani cricketer of late. Remarkably and to his credit he is going as a speedster, though a huffing and puffing one, unlike many of the past fast bowling legends. Alas we would not be hearing his grunts on the field and watching the batsmen hop, evade or bowled will become a thing of past.
Just like his belated departure from the game, his arrival too was delayed in 1997. He was initially selected for Sahara Cup to be played in Canada in 1996 but was excluded from the squad amid reports of indiscipline. He was, at that time, the most talked about talent in Pakistani cricket circles. Hailing from Morgah, Rawalpindi, he played his early cricket in the streets of Pindi and Asghar Mall College. He used to play with tapped ball for different teams in Rawalpindi where he was spotted by one of the coaches as a shining talent.
The beginning
He was picked by Rawalpindi ‘B’ team and started his first class career in 1994-95. In the same season he also represented Pakistan International airlines. His first match against Rawalpindi ‘A’ did not provide him any opportunity in batting or bowling as second and 3rd days were washed out. In his first match against Karachi Whites, he went wicket less. Karachi Blues captain Munir-ul-Haq was his first first-class victim. In his first season he took 17 wickets at 32.82 with best figures of 6 for 69 against Lahore City.
He came to limelight in the season of 1996-97 in real sense when representing ADBP and Rawalpindi he was the second highest wicket-taker with 69 wickets at 23.66. He was selected for Pakistan ‘A’ which toured England in 1997 where he took 25 wickets at 29.88. After being ignored by selectors for Sahara Cup, he finally wore the green Pakistani cap in November, 1997 when he played his first test against the touring West Indies at Rawalpindi. Ian Bishop was his first test wicket who was clean-bowled.
The world recognised Shoaib Akhtar as an express fast bowler during the tour to South Africa. At Kingsmead Durban in the second test, Shoaib destroyed South African batting line-up by taking 5 for 43. His 4 victims were bowled including Jacques Kallis and one was LBW. The delivery that bowled Kallis was a thunder bolt which left the batsman shell-shocked.
The highlight of his career arrived in India in Asian Test Championship. Eden Gardens, Calcutta saw Rawalpindi Express in full steam. He silenced a capacity crowd by taking wickets of Rahul Dravid ‘the Wall’ and little master Sachin Tendulkar on two consecutive deliveries. These are arguably the two best ever back to back deliveries in test cricket history. After clean-bowling Rahul Dravid with a perfect in-swinging yorker, he removed Sachin Tendulkar first ball with another toe-crusher. His 8 wickets in the match paved the way for Pakistan’s victory.
Shoaib went into the 1999 World Cup with huge reputation and expectation. He delivered some breathtaking spells during the tournament apart from an erratic over against South Africa in which Lance Klusener took 17 runs on the way to an important victory for South Africa. He destroyed New Zealand in the semi-final but did not have enough runs in the final to do any thing substantial for his team.
Called for throwing
He was signed by Nottinghamshire in 2000 but injuries did not allow him to represent his team. He also missed England’s Pakistan tour. Earlier during the tour Down Under, he was called for throwing by umpires Peter Willey and Darrell Hair and the match referee John Reid. He was later cleared by the ICC.
He was again called in New Zealand in 2001 but University of Western Australia cleared his action on the basis of "unique physical characteristics” as he had hyper-extended elbow joints. He broke the speed barrier of 100mph for the first time in the third ODI between Pakistan and New Zealand at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, when he clocked 161kph.
Best Period
In May, 2002 he destroyed New Zealand with one of the fiercest spells of fast bowling. He took 6 for 11 in New Zealand’s capitulation for 73 after Pakistan had piled on the runs riding on Inzamam’s triple hundred in Lahore. Five of his victims were bowled. He took 6 wickets in an ODI too. Stephen Fleming was bowled with a delivery that cannoned into his stumps before the batsmen hardly brought his bat down. It was a lightening fast yorker bowled from around the wicket.
He almost won a test match at Colombo for Pakistan when he destroyed the cream of Australian batting with a stunning spell in the second innings. His all 5 wickets were taken without the help of any fielder. That spell was certainly Shoaib’s best and is comparable to the best of the best.
Ball-Tampering charges
He was among controversies again when allegations of ball-tampering were made against him in Zimbabwe in late 2002 but another injury sidelined him soon after. The year 2003 was again a mixed one for him as he had a spat with his captain Waqar Younis over his performance in the world Cup in 2003. He was dropped from the team for a while but on his return to the national side he was handed a ban for ball-tampering in a triangular series in Sri Lanka.
Indiscipline and Injuries
After controversially missing the first test due to injury, he helped Pakistan win against New Zealand at Wellington by taking 11 wickets in the match in December 2003. He was injured again before the ODI series. Later he disappointed his captain Inzamam in test series loss to India at home in 2004 so much so that he was accused by him of feigning injury but was later cleared on enquiry. At this point in time his career was limping and his future was uncertain once again. But on the tour to Australia he bowled a few magical spells although he failed to win Pakistan a test.
In the year 2005, the world saw another dimension of Shoaib when after a long injury lay-off, he destroyed England at home by taking 17 wickets in 2-0 test series win. This time he used his slower ones more effectively than his customary yorkers to bamboozle the batsmen. Next year was a difficult one for him as he missed most of the matches with a career-threatening knee injury.
Doping saga
Another low came in the Champions trophy in South Africa in 2006, when after being tested positive for Nandrolone along with Muhammad Asif, he was sent back and banned by the PCB only to be exonerated 3 months later. He was subsequently withdrawn from Pakistan’s world cup squad in 2007 amid speculations that he could again be caught in the dope tests. In the same years he was fined for breaching the PCB’s code of conduct and was later put on a six-week probationary period.
5-year Ban
He did not seem to learn any lesson as he was involved in a dressing-room fight with Asif and was sent home from World T-20 in South Africa in 2007. He was handed a harsh 13-match ban apart from heavy monetary fine and was also placed on two-year probationary and monitoring period. In 2008 his career looked like ending for good when he was suspended for 5-years by the PCB on breaching the code of conduct when he openly criticized Board’s decision to demote him in the new central contracts. Quite astonishingly the Appellate Tribunal decided to suspend his five-year ban for one month on his appeal. He was consequentially allowed to represent Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL in 2008.
At loggerheads with PCB again
The change in PCB administration in late 2008 brought a change in Shoaib’s fortune as well when he was given the top category in he central contracts announced in 2009. But the patch up was short-lived. He suffered public ignominy when PCB publicly revealed that he was withdrawn from Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad because he suffered from genital warts. He was out of action any how after he under-went knee surgery in 2009.
After being overlooked for World T20 to be held in the Caribbean in 2010, he made a remarkable come-back in June 2010 for the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. After mixed performances in ODI (as he refrained from test cricket) he was selected for the World Cup 2011, his last assignment.
Bidding Adieu
As we all know by now, Shoaib had made up his mind to call it quits after the world cup but for many the timing of his announcement was not right. He announced his retirement in the middle of the tournament when he could have waited for the assignment to finish. During the tournament his performance was a mixed one. We saw every bit of Shoaib in this tournament. He was at his best when he clean-bowled Mahela Jayawardene off a beauty. Then we saw him being clobbered all over by Ross Taylor in what proved to be his last match for Pakistan.
While announcing his retirement, Shoaib said: "Mentally, I wanted to continue, perhaps forever. But I must make way for the youngsters." "I am here only because of the love and affection of my fans. I want to thank them from the bottom of the heart," he added. Citing his reasons for the timing he said: "When I was going through my knee surgery for the fourth time, I made the decision to play in this World Cup for the Pakistan team and retire. Secondly, when the news broke that two of the Pakistani players are involved in such matters (Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir who were involved in spot-fixing and were banned from the game) I thought I should be able to concentrate and get back and help Pakistan.”
"Playing for my country was just a dream," he said. "I thought it would never come true. The first day when it was announced that I will play for Pakistan I did not believe that. There were Wasim (Akram) Waqar (Younis, the team's current coach) Imran (Khan) and Inzamam. There was a huge star on my shirt, and I wore that kit and slept in that kit. I did not take it out for three days."
When asked about his magic moments he said: "I have countless memories, but bowling with Waqar and Wasim, and bowling Sachin for a first ball duck and Dravid were the best moments. It was a dream.” Among players, he singled out Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara for admiration.
After representing Pakistan for 14 years, he ended up playing only 46 test matches in which he took 178 wickets at 25.69. It was a massive underachievement and a sad one too. He deserved 400 wickets at least but became a victim of injuries, indiscipline and care-free attitude. It was a great loss for Pakistan because he could have halted Pakistan’s downward slide in the international rankings had he played on a consistent basis. In ODIs he was more involved taking 247 scalps in 163 matches at just under 25.
A happy Send-off?
Shoaib Akhtar will be missed by Pakistan as they do not have a genuine fast bowler at present and there is no one on the horizon either. Sadly he could not play his last game for Pakistan but we can still give him a fitting farewell.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has a responsibility to acknowledge his services. He has played for Pakistan and brought laurels for the nation. His contract which was to end in June has been terminated by PCB on hearing his announcement as if they were waiting for it. This is not a good gesture at all. PCB should arrange a grand farewell function for the legend so that he could bid adieu in a graceful manner makinf fans feel proud of their hero. Giving him a farewell match will not be a bad idea, in fact it would erase the bitter memories of past when our heroes were humiliated and many bade farewell in tears. It will also set a happy precedent for the future and send a positive signal to our young stars.
It is time to respect our heroes and give them honor and credit which they deserve. Will PCB break the tradition and do something positive. Although there is little hope but one can always wish and pray.

Afridi says anti-India comments ‘out of context’

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said on Tuesday his derogatory remarks about Indians and the Indian media had been taken out of context as he sought to counter anger over the comments.
The World Cup skipper had praised Pakistan’s media for being “100 times better” than India’s in a Pakistani TV show aired on Sunday, and said that Indians did not have “big and clean hearts” like Pakistani Muslims.
The comments shocked fans in India, who had praised his efforts during the World Cup to promote harmony between two estranged neighbours whose diplomatic relations are fraught with tension.
Pakistan lost to India in the competition’s semi-final in a much-hyped game that was attended by the leaders of both countries, in an event hailed as “cricket diplomacy”. India then beat Sri Lanka in Saturday’s final.
“I have enjoyed my cricket in India and I love Indian people,” Afridi told India’s NDTV channel in an interview aired on Tuesday.
“Don’t take my comments negatively. I have always got a lot of love and affection from Indian fans.
“And I request the media to play a more positive role and not waste time on such trivial issues.
“The media makes a big deal of small issues. It is shameful. I have always done my bit to improve Indo-Pak ties but sometimes you say something and it is interpreted the other way.
“I have been quoted out of context.”
In his TV comments on Sunday, which were aired at length and uninterrupted by Pakistani private channel Samaa, Afridi had said the approach of the Indian media was “very negative”.
“I believe their role has also been very dirty especially in terms of worsening ties between our two countries,” he said.
“If I have to tell the truth, Indians cannot have the kind of hearts that Pakistani Muslims have. They cannot have the big and clean hearts that Allah has given to Pakistanis.”
India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral cricket series on each other’s soil since the Mumbai attacks in 2008 which derailed their peace process.

Miandad could be appointed Pak team's batting consultant

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is negotiating with former skipper Javed Miandad to accept the post of the national team's batting coach.
ODI skipper Shahid Afridi told reporters after a meeting with PCB chief Ijaz Butt that the board was in talks with Miandad.
"I have suggested having a batting coach with the team to work with the players and Miandad is one of the people the board is in touch with," Afridi said.
It must be noted that Miandad, a veteran of 124 Tests and 237 one-day and also a former coach, had to leave his post due to issues with the board and within the team.
The former captain, now working as PCB's director-general (cricket), often talks about having a bigger role and say in the national team affairs, and had also accepted a temporary assignment as batting consultant for the New Zealand tour last year.

Waqar Younis downplays ICC World Cup trophy issue

Pakistan cricket coach Waqar Younis has played down the controversy over the ICC World Cup trophy after Indian media reported that a replica was given to India.
“I don’t think it really matters whether it was a replica trophy or the original one since the main thing is the feeling of becoming world champions once you win the final,” the Daily Times quoted Waqar, as telling media persons.
“This is not an issue to me because the Indian team must now be feeling at the top of the world having won the final. They are the champions, and for Indian cricket, it is a big achievement,” he added.
The trophy issue raised such a storm that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had to issue a clarification that the trophy given to the Indian team was the original one, which was “always intended to be presented to the winner of the event.”
“The trophy seized by Mumbai customs is the promotional, perpetual trophy which remains in the keeping of ICC at its headquarters in Dubai. It carries the generic ICC corporate logo rather than the logo specific to the 2011 event,” said the ICC media release, adding that the confiscated trophy would be reclaimed and would “travel back to Dubai with ICC staff as was always intended.”
Meanwhile, Waqar made it clear that he would complete his coaching contract with Pakistan despite their semi-final loss against archrivals India in the World Cup.
The former Test captain said he had one year remaining as Pakistan coach and would continue to do the job, as he was satisfied with the performance of the team in the World Cup.
“Losing the semi-final to India was disappointing, but the team did well to reach the last four stage even though we were considered underdogs when the competition started. India played better than us and went on to win the World Cup,” he added.
Waqar also pointed out that 260 runs put up by India in the semi-final clash was an attainable score, but the catches dropped by Pakistan made a real difference to the match result.
“Those catches cost us heavily because you can’t allow so much levy to a strong batting line up that India have,” he rued. 

Plea against prizes to cricketers dismissed

THE Lahore High Court on Monday dismissed a petition against giving cash prizes to the Pakistan cricket team by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif from national exchequer, ruling that courts could not interfere in policy matter of government.

If the government wants to give award to someone for encouragement, the courts have nothing to do with it. The CM has announced Rs500,000 cash prize each to Pakistan cricket team players from public exchequer. Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffrey had challenged it in the LHC, requesting the court to restrain the chief minister from misusing public money.

He said the chief minister should give cash prize to players from his own pocket as he had no right to waste public money.

He requested the CM should be stopped from hosting reception in honour of team as it would cost about Rs3 million to the national exchequer.
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