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Schoolboy seam bowler Naseem Shah set to make Brisbane debut

Schoolboy seam bowler Naseem Shah set to make Brisbane debut

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29624303

Pakistan will take a huge gamble in the first Test against Australia in Brisbane on Thursday by giving 16-year-old schoolboy quick Naseem Shah his debut.

Many a more-experienced fast bowler has wilted on Australia's hard tracks but Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali is backing the teenager, who has only seven first class matches under his belt, to deal with the situation.

"He's bowling really well," Ali told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.

"We'll announce the side tomorrow but he's definitely going to be part of it.

"Not many players can reach that standard so early but there are exceptions and he's one of them. We are all looking forward to him having a very successful career.

"When I saw him first, I was so surprised at the control he had and the pace he had and, on top of it all, the temperament and the composure when he bowls is so exciting to see."

Shah, who will become the youngest player to make his Test debut in Australia, is likely to face the best batsman in the world in Steve Smith over the course of the match but Ali said he would feel no need to protect the youngster.

"The good thing about him is he's very fit," he added.

"I've captained him in first class matches so he has overs in his belt. I have no doubt in his fitness or his bowling."

Ali said Shah had been a "bit shy" when he came into the team but had started to open up a bit, even if he had already endured a torrid start to his career as an international cricketer when his mother died while he was in Australia.

"He lost his mother last week and that was very tough for him but he bowled the next day (which) was a very hard thing to see," he said.

Ian Craig holds the record as the youngest Test debutant in Australia after taking the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a 17-year-old against South Africa in 1953.

One of many talented young batsmen to have been anointed the 'new Donald Bradman', Craig scored a half century in his first test and went on to become Australia's youngest captain but never quite lived up to the billing.

Current captain Tim Paine said Australia had been preparing to face Naseem at the Gabba.

"Certainly at Test level it's a bit unusual but by the looks of him he looks a really exciting talent," he told reporters.

"Pakistan have got a knack of finding these young fast bowlers. He looks like another one that's going to add to that rich history of fast bowlers they seem to produce."

The second Test in the two-match series is a day/night Test in Adelaide from November 29 to Dec. 3.
Sana Mir announces indefinite break from international cricket

Sana Mir announces indefinite break from international cricket

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29624197

Right-arm bowler Sana Mir announced that she has decided to take a break from international cricket to "plan and reset my future objectives and targets", a press release by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes weeks before the commencement of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Championship's one-day international (ODI) and Twenty20 series against England. Mir will not be available for the squad's selection for next month's matches.

"I have decided to take a break from international cricket and, as such, will not be available for selection for next month’s series against England," she was quoted as saying by the PCB. "I will utilise this time to plan and reset my future objectives and targets."

Mir made her ODI debut in 2005 and played her first T20 match in 2009. Last year, she became the first Pakistani female bowler to top ICC's ODI Bowling Rankings. Last month, Mir was honoured with the 2019 Asia Society Game Changers award at a glittering ceremony in New York along with six other women from Asian countries.

In her statement released today, Mir said that her "best wishes" were with the Pakistani women's team, which will leave for Malaysia on November 30 to play the series. Pakistan will play three ODIs and three T20s against England at the Kinrara Oval stadium in Kuala Lampur.

"[...] I am sure they’ll produce their best cricket."

She did not specify the duration of her break.

The training camp for 20 probables will begin on November 21 at the Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre in Karachi and the final squads for the series against England will be announced on November 27.

The three-match ODI series will begin on December 9 while the T20 series will begin on December 17.

Match schedule:


  • December 9: First ODI
  • December 12: Second ODI
  • December 14: Third ODI


  • December 17: First T20
  • December 19: Second T20
  • December 20: Third T20
At long last, India ready to take day-night Test plunge

At long last, India ready to take day-night Test plunge

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29624168

India have traditionally been reluctant to embrace innovation in cricket but on Friday, after much heel-dragging, they will finally experience a day-night Test when they face neighbours Bangladesh in Kolkata.

The game's most influential nation were the last major team to jump on the Twenty20 bandwagon and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) doggedly resisted the Decision Review System before accepting it almost reluctantly.

They have been immune to the charms of day-night Tests and turned down an offer to play one last year in Adelaide, where Australia had hosted New Zealand in the first ever pink-ball test in 2015.

However, former captain Sourav Ganguly, who was appointed BCCI president last month, is a champion of the concept.

Ganguly said it took him "three seconds" to convince India captain Virat Kohli to meet Bangladesh in what will be the maiden day-night Test for both sides.

"I don't know why they didnt want to play (in Adelaide)," Ganguly told reporters earlier this month.

"I met Virat for an hour and the first question was that we need to play day-night Test. The answer in three seconds was, 'yes lets go ahead and do it'."

The match, the second of a two-Test series, will fittingly be held at Ganguly's home ground Eden Gardens, where the first three days are sold out.

He is convinced day-night Tests could be a potent weapon in fighting the dwindling attendances at Test matches seen in some venues.

Kohli shares that belief.

"It's an exciting thing. It's going to be a landmark occasion for Indian cricket," he said after India defeated Bangladesh inside three days in the series opener in Indore.

"We are just happy that we're the first team to start pink-ball cricket in India."

Innovation brings its own set of challenges, however, and Kohli is wary of exaggerated swing, though he says bowlers too might struggle once the ball gets old.

"The ball does a lot early on, more than the red ball, so it's going to be a challenge for the batters," he added.

"But with the older ball, I don't think it swings that much so the bowlers will have a tough time as well."

With most of the India and Bangladesh players having practically no experience with the pink ball, which has been used only sporadically in domestic cricket in both countries, there is at least a level playing field in that regard.

Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque said they were aware of the challenges but were looking forward to the experience.

"We don't have enough experience with that," the 28-year-old said after their loss in Indore.

"But we look forward to the experience. We'll try to enjoy the next Test."
Karachi's young gymnasts showcase talent at all-female championship

Karachi's young gymnasts showcase talent at all-female championship

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29624051

The main stand at Karachi's DA Zamzama Club's hockey stadium has the liveliest of audiences with frequent bursts of applause for the gymnasts; the objects of their praise were busy doing their routines on the floor, the beam and pommel horse before the judges during the inaugural for the Urtaay Sitaray: All-Women Gymnastics Championship.

Organised and hosted by Imkaan Welfare Organisation, the city-wide championship presented itself as an opportunity for women and girls of all ages to showcase their talents in gymnastics and provide them with a preliminary platform to hone their skills ultimately up to a professional standard.

A photo posted by Instagram (@instagram) on

As many as nine schools and educational institutions took part in the event and the students were there to encourage each other. Other than their teachers, coaches and class fellows, there were some parents there too, especially mothers, who came to encourage the contestants. Some of these parents were themselves involved in sporting activities other than gymnastics.

Good at all sports

“I play football and I take karate classes too,” says Ayesha Siddique, a class eighth student at Kiran Foundation in Lyari. “My only problem is with studies. I don’t enjoy my studies as much as I do sports. But if I drop out of school for the love of sports, there will be no sports for me. The two things are interlinked,” she explains her predicament.

Ayesha Siddique with some younger members of her team. — *Photo by author*
Ayesha Siddique with some younger members of her team. — Photo by author

Maria Qaiser, her class fellow, was smiling as she listened in on the conversation. “I don’t have any such issue. I get good marks as far as my studies are concerned. The problems begin in sports,” she says, giggling.

Also read: Lyariites' passion for gymnastics

When asked why does she takes part in sports then, and that too something difficult such as gymnastics when she didn't feel confident enough, Qaiser giggles some more and says, "Just look at me! I do it to lose weight and get fit.” Everyone in her team joins her in the laughter.

“For now, I just take part in warming-up exercises because the first time I climbed on the beam, I fell,” says Maria.

Mothers and daughters

Next to Qaiser is seated an even younger Nimra Pervez with her mother Reshma Pervez. Reshma tells me that she herself is quite active. “I go to the gym regularly,” she says. “Had I been younger, I too would have learned gymnastics but I am enjoying my daughter live up to my dreams,” she adds.

Kiran Foundation gymnasts. — *Photo by author*
Kiran Foundation gymnasts. — Photo by author

She also says that Pervez's father initially objected when she first enrolled her for the gymnastics class, “But now that I go to my gym classes too, it is two against one. He has stopped objecting, though he still doesn’t approve. But that is his problem, not ours. We enjoy our sports,” she says.

Samira Baloch is another mother there accompanying her nine-year-old daughter Mahi Kan and seven-year-old Imaan.

“We have also faced much opposition on the home front, and not just from the girls’ father but the entire family. Still, they have not been able to stop me from sending my daughters to gymnastics class,” she says.

Father and daughters

Next to the Kiran Foundation girls were the Imkaan Welfare Organisation Khel Centre gymnastics team in their signature cheerful bright budgie yellow jerseys and black tights. This team had many boys too. When asked what were the boys doing there in an all-women gymnastics championship, Imkaan’s director Tahera Hasan explained that the boys were there for the planned demonstration before the start of the event.

Proud father Jafar Iqbal. — *Photo by author*
Proud father Jafar Iqbal. — Photo by author

Another male standing out among the group was Jafar Iqbal, and he was cheering at every performance. Iqbal was there to lend support to his daughter Kiran and niece Aqsa. “My prayers are with my girls and their team. I’m sure they will do great,” he said, proudly glancing at them.

Asked if he had come with the girls’ mothers, Iqbal shook his head. The mothers were at home but he said he just couldn’t miss the event.

Iqbal, who works as a guard at Imkaan Welfare Organisation, says, “I had admitted my daughter to a private school when she was little. But then that school shifted from Machhar Colony and she was out of school for a while until we discovered Imkaan. Now, I work there as a guard and my daughter and niece study there.”

More on this: ‘Sports can help advance women’s status in society’

“God has blessed me with six daughters. The older two are married and not very well educated. But the mistakes I made with them I am not going to repeat," says Iqbal, adding "therefore my four younger ones are all studying”.

Teaching and coaching

Nasira Amin, a teacher and coordinator at Imkaan, escorted the team of Kiran, Aqsa, Sonia, Maryam, Anwara, and Kulsoom to the ground when they called out for Imkaan Khel Centre. “That’s you all! Come on, hurry up. Let’s get there quickly,” she tells them, leading the way.

Imkaan Welfare Organisation teacher Nasira with her team. — *Photo by author*
Imkaan Welfare Organisation teacher Nasira with her team. — Photo by author

“They are very hard-working students. Imkaan is off only on Sundays so the school is open six days a week with a gymnastics class happening on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. till noon. The other days are reserved for studies alone. They also do regular school work after gymnastics practice, mind you,” she says.

Amin shares that besides gymnastics, they also have a very strong table tennis team.

“In fact, our table tennis team is also currently playing at a championship at Shahwilayat School,” she says.

Once on the ground, the Imkaan team is introduced to the judges by chief gymnastics coach Mohammad Furqan.

Coach Mohammad Furqan bucking up contestants. — *Photo by author*
Coach Mohammad Furqan bucking up contestants. — Photo by author

The coach knows exactly how his students feel. Growing up in Lyari himself, he was just like them once.

“I love gymnastics...I started practising myself when I was only 12 but it was against my family’s wishes. They thought it to be a waste of time and wanted me to work for a living, which I did too, finding work as a cleaner at the Karachi Port Trust. But then my own coaches encouraged me to keep practicing gymnastics. They made me take part in national championships. And then when I was winning medals my family also realised my potential and backed off,” the coach says, sharing his own story.

Back to the Urtaay Sitaray All-Women Gymnastics Championship, among the nine school teams participating there were big names such as Foundation Public, Beacon Askari, Wisdom House, Little Gymnast, etc., but the yellow team, with lithe bodies and hair neatly pulled back and done in buns like ballerinas to looks like real professionals, are actually what they look like.

Called to the floor one by one, they prove their mettle in flexibility, agility, and strength. They even walked off with the championship trophy at the end.

Explore: Gymnastics: Cartwheeling to hope

National championships for the stateless?

Unlike their coach, most children of Machhar Colony cannot participate in national competitions.

Girls have fun at the Imkaan Welfare Organisation Khel Centre in Karachi. — Photo credit: Imkaan Welfare Organisation Facebook
Girls have fun at the Imkaan Welfare Organisation Khel Centre in Karachi. — Photo credit: Imkaan Welfare Organisation Facebook

Tahera Hasan, Imkaan’s director says: "The reason behind organising this championship was to provide a platform to all women gymnasts, irrespective of whether they were with school teams, with gyms or were learning individually. There aren't many opportunities for this kind of exchange especially in gymnastics.”

Speaking in particular about the winners of the championship, she says: “Khel’s team comprises of children that are stateless and without any identity. They can be trained to compete at the national and international level if given their right to identity.”

She hopes Imkaan will be holding the championship on a national level next year.

The writer is a senior staff reporter with Dawn.

She tweets @HasanShazia
Ponting warns Australia of Babar threat

Ponting warns Australia of Babar threat

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29623930
BABAR Azam bats in the nets ahead of the first Test.—PCB
BABAR Azam bats in the nets ahead of the first Test.—PCB

BRISBANE: Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has lauded Babar Azam as Pakistan’s dangerman ahead of the upcoming Test series beginning in Brisbane on Thursday.

Babar is world’s No.3 batsman in ODIs as well the No.1 T20 batsman. However, despite his modest career Test batting average of 35.28, Ponting is backing the 25-year-old top-order batsman to take a major leap in the coming years.

“We haven’t seen the best of him yet,” Ponting told “Twenty-odd Tests for an average of 35 he’s better than that. He averages 54 in ODI cricket at a strike-rate of about 90. He’s a very, very classy player.

“He’s a really exciting talent and probably the guy I’m looking forward to seeing the most this summer. I’ve seen the Aussies a lot and I’ve seen a lot of the Kiwis, but I’m really excited to see him. He could be anything,” Ponting said.

Babar has already shown his class in Pakistan’s tour matches in the lead-up to the Gabba Test, with a classy 157 against Australia ‘A’ last week.

The prolific right-hander was part of Pakistan’s touring party to Australia three years ago but struggled in the No.3 spot, and Ponting said the key to Babar’s success was keeping him away from the new ball.

“What they’ve tried with him before obviously hasn’t worked [because] when you watch him bat, he’s better than a 35 average,” he said.

“If they can massage him and help him through a little bit, keep him away from the new ball a little bit in Australia, then I think they’ll get the best out of him.”

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019
Zakir Khan to lead four PSL committees

Zakir Khan to lead four PSL committees

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29623954

LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board’s director international cric­ket Zakir Khan will lead four of the seven sub-committees of the 2020 Pakistan Super League’s Organising Com­mittee.

Zakir will supervise the Logistics, Protocol-Recept­ion­-Invitation, Security-Anti­-corr­up­tion and Admin­istra­tion sub-committees and will also serve as one of the members of the Organising Com­m­ittee which will also include the director commercial, PSL project director and senior general manager finance and accounts.

Since Imran Khan’s election as the prime minister and Ehsan Mani’s appointment as the PCB chairman, Zakir has been among the most important persons in the PCB.

It may be mentioned here that for the PSL project director’s position, the PCB had advertised a vacancy. The project director will be responsible to ensure coordination between the sub-committees.

A group comprising a chief executive, chief operating officer and a chief financial officer has also been formed to manage the competitio which is set to be completely staged in Pakistan unlike it’s previous editions in which majority of the league matches were held in the United Arab Emirates.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2019
Young Pakistan square up to Smith and Warner

Young Pakistan square up to Smith and Warner

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29623677
BRISBANE, Australia: Pakistan head into the opening Test in Brisbane on Thursday seeking a rare win on Australian soil, and could unleash a 16-year-old debutant in a teenage pace attack against seasoned stars Steve Smith and David Warner.Pakistan have drawn a series in Australia, but have never won one, and last tasted a Test victory at Sydney in 1995. A handful of players, including new skipper Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and the in-form Asad Shafiq, were part of their last tour in 2016/17 when they crashed 3-0, but are better for it, said then-captain and now head coach Misbah-ul-Haq.“Our previous record in Australia won’t put us under pressure,” he said. “If anything, it’ll be an opportunity and motivation to win because whatever we couldn’t achieve in the past, we can do now. It’s a young and hungry team and it means business,” he added.“This team wants to take the challenge. We want to give our best, play good cricket and think about winning.”They will be relying heavily on Azam and Shafiq, who scored a century in Brisbane three years ago and has had a perfect lead-up this time, hitting an unbeaten 119 against Australia A then 101 not out against a Cricket Australia XI.Australia, though, are on a roll. They retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw in England in September and beat Pakistan 2-0 in their recent Twenty20 series. How the bowlers fare will be key on a Gabba wicket traditionally seen as a paceman’s paradise.Australia boast the experienced Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood, however James Pattinson will be missing after being suspended this week for player abuse.Pakistan may unveil teenage quick Naseem Shah, 16, for his debut as part of a young attack boasting 19-year-olds Shaheen Afridi and Musa Khan, alongside the impressive Muhammad Abbas and veteran Imran Khan senior.Their credentials were on show in the build-up against an Australian A team in Perth featuring Test players Joe Burns, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft, dismissing them for 122.But removing Smith and Warner — in their first home Test since their ball-tampering bans — will likely be a different proposition. Skipper Tim Paine said the Australia A game was irrelevant.“I saw that Pakistan are smelling blood in the water or whatever they said,” he told reporters. “What happened in Perth has got nothing to do with what is going to happen at the Gabba.”While Warner had a miserable Ashes, scoring just 95 runs at an average of 9.5, he has since bounced back into form. Smith, meanwhile, is still revelling in his remarkable series in England, where he scored 774 runs in just seven innings and played a pivotal role in his side’s two victories.Ominously for Pakistan, he hit a century when they last played in Brisbane in late 2016. Despite his poor Ashes run, Warner’s spot at the top of the order was never in doubt, but Australia have struggled to find a suitable partner.Burns, who scored a century in his last Test against Sri Lanka in February, is set to assume the job in Brisbane ahead of Bancroft.Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head and Matthew Wade round out the middle order.The second and final Test, a day-night affair, is in Adelaide later this month.Australia squad: Tim Paine (capt), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David WarnerPakistan squad: Azhar Ali (capt), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan senior, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Nusa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
New Zealand and England put cricket rivalry to the Test

New Zealand and England put cricket rivalry to the Test

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29623678
MOUNT MAUNGANUI, New Zealand: New Zealand and England will take their cricketing rivalry into the Test arena on Thursday after finding themselves evenly matched in recent limited-overs thrillers.England have bragging rights after winning a rollercoaster World Cup final in July, then edging the Black Caps 3-2 in a desperately close Twenty20 series completed earlier this month. Both the one-day decider and T20 series needed tie-breakers to find a winner and there will be no shortage of mutual respect when the rivals face off again Thursday in the First Test at Mount Maunganui.On paper, there again appears to be little to separate the teams, with New Zealand second in the Test rankings and England third. But England skipper Joe Root is painfully aware that his team underperformed when it lost a two-Test series in New Zealand last year after underestimating the Black Caps’ bowlers on their home turf.Pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee bundled the tourists out for 58 in the first innings of the opening Test as England tried to play what Root described as “fast forward” cricket. England’s skipper said his team would be taking a more measured approach this time, with batsmen placing an emphasis on protecting their wickets.“We have to be prepared to play some attritional cricket at times,” he said. “We have to try to bat longer... it would be nice to get used to batting for 120 overs more regularly, especially in the first innings.”The series will not count towards the World Test Championship, giving new England coach Chris Silverwood room to experiment in his first Test series in charge. He is expected to hand opening batsman Dom Sibley his debut, partnering Rory Burns, with Root moving down to fourth in the order.New Zealand will take the opportunity to blood speedster Lockie Ferguson, who has already excelled in limited overs internationals and was described as “an extreme talent” by short-ball specialist Neil Wagner. “I know he’s raring to go. If he gets the opportunity he’ll make the most of it,” Wagner said.New Zealand will also be bolstered by the return of captain Kane Williamson, who sat out the T20 series with a nagging hip injury. It will be the first Test match ever staged at Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval, which has been hosting limited-overs internationals since 2014. —AFP
Bangladesh bans Shahadat for five years for assault

Bangladesh bans Shahadat for five years for assault

20/11/2019, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 29623679
DHAKA: The Bangladesh Cricket Board on Tuesday banned former national team fast bowler Shahadat Hossain for five years, two of them suspended, after he assaulted a teammate in a match.The temperamental Shahadat was reported by umpires after he was seen to slap and kick a teammate during a National Cricket League match on Sunday. The national federation suspended two years of the ban but Shahadat, who admitted a charge of “physical assault”, was also fined 300,000 taka ($3,540), the board said. Shahadat, 33, attacked young bowler Arafat Sunny Jr during a game between Dhaka and Khulna after an argument over how to shine the ball, a board official said. “Considering his past behaviour we decided to punish him for five years.