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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Afridi praises Dhoni's captaincy

 India is lucky to have a "stable" captain like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, according to Pakistan's ODI skipper Shahid Afridi who is still trying to play down his negative remarks against Indians that caused an uproar.

"I thought Dhoni led the Indians very shrewdly and performed brilliantly in the final. India is lucky to have a stable captain like him, Afridi told PTI in an interview.

"He had a big role to play in the Indian victory and I am sure this victory means a lot for Indian cricket and their people. But I also hope the World Cup coming back to Asia will also boost the sport in this region again and normalise bilateral Indo-Pak cricket relations," he said.

Afridi acknowledged that India were the better side on that day and deserved to win the World Cup. "They were the better side and deserved to win the world cup. Any side that can beat us should win the World Cup," he said.

Afridi heaped praise on Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, saying that his hunger for runs is amazing and he still has plenty to offer to Indian cricket.

"His hunger for runs is amazing and only he can best decide what he wants to do in the future. But I can tell you this age is no bar to his success in either Tests or one-day internationals," he said.

Afridi said he did not have any words to describe the Indian maestro and disclosed that he has a framed jersey autographed by Tendulkar in his drawing room.

The Pakistan captain once again played down his negative remarks about Indian people that he made on a Pakistani television channel talk show that has caused an uproar in the neighboring country.

"I have nothing against the Indian people and I have always enjoyed going to India as the people there appreciate and support good cricket and players," Afridi said.

"The remarks I made on the show have been misunderstood and taken out of context. My main emphasis was that sports should not be mixed with politics and there were some elements who didn't want the people of the two countries to get closer," Afridi clarified.

"It is unfortunate whenever someone tries to bring politics into sport. This is unacceptable and will only lead to misunderstandings," he said.

Afridi's remarks about the Indian media being negative about Indo-Pak relations and the Pakistani media being 100 times better have also caused a furore.

"I don't want to sound condescending but I have always wanted good relations between the two countries and I have in my own way tried to play a positive role," he said.

Afridi hoping for result-oriented Pak tour to West Indies

 Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has said that his World Cup semi-finalist team is looking forward to a result-oriented tour to West Indies, which starts on 18 April.
"Team is in good spirit and possess high morale while confidence level is on the upper side which would help us in producing favorable results in West Indies," the Daily Times quoted Afridi, as saying.
The 31-year-old, who had earlier decided to skip the tour, suggested that he might change his decision.
"Cricket experts, lovers, supporters and family are expecting me to lead the team in the next trip," Afridi said.
He further said that new youngsters should be given a chance to prove their worth in the forthcoming tour.
Afridi quit Test cricket last year, but is expected to play in the one-day and Twenty20 matches. 

Akram: Axing Kamran, Razzaq right

At a time when sub-continent teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan are in a state of turmoil, former Pakistan skipper feels changes bound to happen.
By Faisal Kamal

Wasim Akram is supporting Pakistan’s decision to drop Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq for the upcoming tour of the West Indies. In an exclusive chat with Mobile ESPN ahead of Indian Premier League season 4, Kolkata Knight Riders’ bowling consultant Akram said the changes in the Pakistan squad are steps in the right direction.

"I think Pakistan have done the right thing to drop Akmal and Razzaq for the West Indies tour. Even Younis Khan and Umar Gul have been rested. These guys did not perform well in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. Pakistan are now trying to build a new team and that's fair enough" said Akram.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran dropped crucial catches against New Zealand in the league stage and an edge from Sachin Tendulkar in the semifinal. All-rounder Razzaq was also a major letdown in both batting and bowling. Akram believes breeding youngsters is the way forward for Pakistan.

"The way Pakistan performed in the semis, I think these changes were bound to happen. Taufiq Umar is a welcome inclusion after being in and out of the side for a while. There are few other youngsters that Pakistan have brought in and the new team looks good. I have always believed that Pakistan have abundance of talent and now is the time to use it," said Akram.

Akram is upset that Shahid Afridi's recent remarks on India’s relationship with Pakistan players created quite a furore.

Afridi during a chat show on TV earlier this week had said, 'They (Indians) just can't have the kind of heart a Muslim has or a Pakistani has. I think they don’t have the sort of big hearts, pure hearts, Allah has given us.” Afridi later said his remarks had been taken out of context. Akram believes that Afridi should be very careful when talking on sensitive issues.

"I don't know what happened to Afridi when he went home. He spoke so well after the semi-final. The whole of India and Pakistan was praising him. But he must have said something that irked the Indian media. And I think Shahid should realize that he is the leader of a side where the game goes beyond boundaries and is much more than just cricket. He has to be very careful in what he says," said Akram.

Switching to Sri Lankan cricket and the runners-up have also seen drastic changes in their hierarchy. Skipper Sangakkara was the first to resign on Tuesday after losing the final to India. Vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene also stepped down from his post.

"I think Sri Lanka should not be too worried from the recent happenings. Sangakkara and Jayawardene may have stepped down as captain and vice-captain respectively but they are still available as players. They are very experienced players, they will continue to play Test and ODI cricket for their country and Lanka is going to benefit immensely from their presence," said Akram.

In a surprising move the selection committee headed by Arvinda De Silva also quit before the end of its term. Akram is not surprised by the developments but feels the islanders are still a good side.

"I don't know why the Lankan selection committee resigned but I feel that the islanders did exceptionally well to qualify for the final and they played good cricket. They were one of the favourites in the World Cup and ended up as runners-up, so it was a job well done," said Akram.

All-rounder Angelo Mathews and opener Tillakaratne Dilshan are in the fray to replace Sangakkara as Lankan skipper. For Akram, Dilshan is the clear favourite for the job.

"Mathews' inconsistent form and fitness is an issue. I feel Dilshan is the perfect candidate for Lanka's captaincy. Dilshan has been playing cricket for the last 8 or 9 years and has been doing quite well. He would be the right choice to lead Lanka with all the senior players rallying around him. He has done well his nation so far and was terrific in the World Cup," concluded Akram.

Indian cricket team ready to visit Pak: Rao

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao has said that Indian cricket team is prepared to visit Pakistan, Geo News reported on Thursday.

In a telephonic interview, foreign secretary said that it is not that we have forbidden our team from going there. Security is always an issue and we always like to be sure about security when we allow our teams to go there.

I think cricket sometimes becomes an instrument of diplomacy, she said and added that we have seen how cricket matches have been played between India and Pakistan in the past. People in both countries have supported the idea of such contacts.

Rao said this has to be discussed between the cricketing fraternities on both sides and taken forward.

The meeting between the Prime Ministers of two countries at Mohali on March 30 on the sidelines of the cricket World Cup semifinal between the two countries, "has given a new direction" to the bilateral relationship, Rao said in the interview.

Manmohan Singh had invited Gilani to Mohali after India and Pakistan advanced to the World Cup semifinal.

She said that India was open to renewing cricketing contacts with Pakistan.

Javed Miandad to consider offer to become Pakistan batting coach after tour of West Indies

Former Pakistan captain Javed Miandad will consider an offer to become the national team's batting coach after the tour of West Indies.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt and one-day captain Shahid Afridi tried to persuade Miandad to take up the job after India defeated Pakistan in the World Cup semifinals last month.
"I had detailed meetings with Mr. Butt and Afridi, but I told them that I could not travel with the team to the West Indies," Miandad told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Pakistan team leaves for the West Indies next week for one Twenty20 match, five ODIs and two tests.
"I think the tour of West Indies is not a tough one," Miandad said. "After this tour I might consider taking up the coaching assignment."
Pakistan has made wholesale changes from the World Cup, dropping out-of-form wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and allrounder Abdul Razzaq for the tour.
Fast bowler Umar Gul has requested to be rested, while experienced batsman Younis Khan will also sit out the ODIs.
Miandad retired from test cricket in 1993 after scoring a Pakistan record 8,832 runs from 124 matches.
He also scored 7,381 runs in 233 ODIs, playing his last limited-overs game against archrival India at the 1996 World Cup. His six World Cup appearances is only matched by Sachin Tendulkar, who won the 2011 tournament with India defeating Sri Lanka in the final.
Since his retirement from international cricket, Miandad has coached the national team three times and is presently serving as the PCB director general.
Waqar Younis, a former test fast bowler and captain, is the head coach of Pakistan. Another ex-test fast bowler, Aqib Javed, is the bowling consultant.
However, it is Pakistan's batting which has been struggling in international cricket for more than a year and critics believe the team needs a batting coach.
"I believe that once a batsman is selected for the national team you can't change his technique," Miandad said. "You can only teach him the finer points of the game, like how to handle various bowlers on different pitches."
Pakistan has picked uncapped batsman Usman Salahuddin, allrounder Hammad Azam and fast bowlers Aizaz Cheema and Junaid Khan for the tour of West Indies.
Miandad believes selectors have made the right decision by picking promising youngsters from the domestic circuit to give them international exposure.
"It's the right time to look ahead for the future and start preparing for the next World Cup," he said. "We have to look for players who could be there in 2015 (World Cup) and, if they have potential, we should start giving them proper chances."

Pakistani Umpire Aleem dar Awarded Gold Crown

Aleem Dar – Mr 100%

Although Pakistan failed to play in the final of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, the country’s internationally famed umpire, Aleem Dar, played a crucial role in the match, thus maintaining a 100% record in the tournament.
Dar, who has won ICC Umpire of the Year award two years running, was immaculate throughout the showpiece event and none of his decisions were proved wrong by the Decision Review System (DRS). Dar’s pin-point judgment earned him the respect of the players who sometimes preferred not to challenge his decisions.
A total of 57 reviews were taken against Dar in the World Cup and amazingly none of his decisions were proved wrong by the technology.
Dar was accorded a warm welcome upon his return to Pakistan from India and was received by a large gathering of supporters and several Pakistan Cricket Board officials.
When asked to comment on Pakistan semi-final exit, Dar was of the view that poor planning and a defensive approach had handed the crucial game to India.

Razzaq questions basis for exclusion

Abdul Razzaq, the Pakistan allrounder, has questioned the basis for his exclusion from the ODIs and Twenty20s on the tour of West Indies. Razzaq played a peripheral role in his team's World Cup campaign and claimed his exclusion was not justified given he hadn't had enough opportunities.
"I was told to bat at No. 8 and I hardly got a few overs in every match. So, where does the question of my non-performance arise?" Razzaq was quoted as saying by PTI. "How can one perform when he is batting at No. 8 and bowling just a few overs in every match?"
In eight games at the World Cup, Razzaq didn't complete his quota of ten overs even once and picked up five wickets at 32.20. He made 104 runs, batting in the lower order, at 26 and with a highest of 62 against New Zealand.
"One hardly gets time to settle in or build a proper innings. It was the same situation in bowling also," Razzaq said. "I had told the team management I was ready to bat at No. 3 because I have batted at that position before and have also done well. But as it was the World Cup and due to requirements of the team, the management didn't accept my point of view and I was kept at No. 8."
Razzaq, 31, said he was determined to make a return. "I want to come back. I think I can still continue playing for a couple of more years as I pay a lot of attention to my fitness."
Another player left out of the Pakistan squad was Kamran Akmal, following his wicketkeeping woes in the World Cup.

Kamran doesn't deserve another chance, Iqbal says

 "Kamran Akmal deserved to be dropped. He had been tested more than once and hence does not deserve to be given another chance," remarked former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal to Gulf News immediately after Pakistan Cricket Board announced their One-day and Twenty20 squad for the upcoming tour of West Indies.
Pakistan selectors appointed uncapped 29-year-old Mohammad Salman as the new wicketkeeper following Akmal's dismal show in the recent World Cup in which he had dropped many crucial catches.
Senior players Abdul Razzaq, Younus Khan and Umar Gul have been rested as uncapped Usman Salahuddin, Hammad Azam and Aizaz Cheema have been included in the team.
"It is nice to hear the selectors use the term rested while dropping some of the senior players. They have used the term rested taking into consideration their contribution in the past and their seniority. However, it is a fact that some of the senior players did not perform in the World Cup," said Iqbal.
"It is good to try out a new wicketkeeper. I haven't seen much of Salman but heard a lot about another young wicket keeper in Sarfraz Ahmad, who also deserved to be considered," said Iqbal, who captained Pakistan's first World Cup team in 1975.
"India deserved to win the World Cup because they were the best team. It was great of Pakistan, who were trailing in the sixth or seventh position in world ranking before the start of the World Cup, to finish among the top four. Unfortunately we had a bad day in Mohali and our fielding let us down," he said.
Shahid Afridi will lead the Twenty20 and One-day team in the West Indies.
"It is nice to hear that Afridi has agreed to lead the team to West Indies as he had stated that he might take a break. It is important for the team to be playing under Afridi," said Iqbal.
Tour starts on April 18
Pakistan's West Indies tour will commence from April 18 with a warm-up game and followed by a Twenty20 match on April 21 in St Lucia.
The five match One-day series will commence on April 23, while the Test matches will begin on May 12.
Pakistan selectors will meet soon to select the Test squad. It is likely that Kamran's younger brother Adnan may return as the wicketkeeper for the Test side. Though Younus Khan and Umar Gul may return to the Test team, Razzaq, who scored only 104 runs and took five wickets from all the World Cup matches, is likely to be ignored.
Squad: Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmad Shehzad, Taufeeq Umar, Usman Salahuddin, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Umar Akmal, Abdul Rahman, Saeed Ajmal, Tanvir Ahmad, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Hammad Azam, Aizaz Cheema and Mohammad Salman (wk)
Reserves: Rameez Raja (Jr), Sadaf Hussain, Asif Zakir, Sohail Khan, Zulifqar Babar.

PM to host dinner for Pakistan cricket team on April 11

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani would host dinner in honour of the national cricket team on 11th April.
According to government sources, after return from London Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani would host dinner in honour of the national cricket team on 11th April while federal ministers, Parliamentarians, Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board would attend the dinner.
It is relevant to mention here that the dinner was to be hosted on 4th April at Prime Minister House but it was delayed due to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s death anniversary.
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