Paralympics chief hopes for full stadiums, extensive TV coverage in Paris

Paralympics chief hopes for full stadiums, extensive TV coverage in Paris

28/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31648549

PARIS: International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons has told AFP he hopes the Paralympics in Paris will take place in full stadiums and predicted the TV coverage would be the most extensive in history.

The 16th Summer Paralympics take place in the French capital from Aug 28 to Sept 8, just over two weeks after the Olympics.

In an interview six months before they open, Parsons said his priority was to ensure the competition attracts packed audiences.

Less than one million tickets out of a total of 2.8 million have been sold so far, but the IPC president insisted that was a “normal” situation this long before a Paralympics.

“We are working with the organising committee to make sure that we have full stadiums in Paris,” said Parsons, a Brazilian who has been in charge of the IPC since 2017.

“We have some sports that are nearly sold out. We are satisfied where we are, but of course we need to push for more.

“We are very pleased with the preparation so far. We’re in this moment where all the operational plans are ready.

“We have learned from the test events, and we are now in the moment where what we need to focus on is the fine-tuning of some of the operations. We are all focused on the promotion of the Games,” he added.

To achieve the goal of full stadiums in Paris, the IPC are deploying a myriad of campaigns through different channels such as social media, traditional media and national Paralympic committees to spread the word and “(make) people raise the excitement around the Games… (and be) aware, informed, wanting to buy tickets and to watch it on TV”.

Contrary to the Olympics, ticket sales for Paralympics typically soar closer to the start of the Games.

At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, organisers reported a strong spike in purchaser appetite in the weeks leading up to the event, with the overall number of tickets sold doubling over a 48-hour period two weeks before the Games opened.

If ticket sales are currently following “a normal graphic line for the Paralympics”, Parsons said media coverage for the Games had already surpassed that of previous editions.

Broadcasting agreements have been secured in more than 160 nations and territories, constituting the “biggest number ever”, he said.


In the wake of the decision to partially ban the Russian and Belarusian national committees from the Paralympics over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Parsons said the IPC were still ironing out the final details that will allow some athletes to compete as neutrals.

“The decision also tasked the governing board to develop the eligibility criteria and the conditions that will be placed on neutral athletes,” he said.

“So, we are still working on that. We still have time.” He said the IPC “cannot only copy and paste what the IOC did” in banning most Russian and Belarusian competitors from the Paris Olympics over the situation in Ukraine.

“But, of course, we can learn from them and see what is feasible in our movement and what is not.”

Conversely, Israeli and Palestinian competitors are both set to participate in Paris despite the ongoing war in Gaza, according to Parsons.

“The national Paralympic committees of Palestine and of Israel have not used the Paralympic movement (for) any kind of political messages. So far there is nothing to report on both NPCs. No investigation, no suspension, anything like that,” he said.

The IPC president also addressed potential fears regarding security in Paris, saying he was confident in the authorities’ ability to “provide a safe environment, not only for our athletes but for spectators, volunteers, everyone working in the Games”.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2024
HBL PSL 2024: Usman, Usama pile on the misery for Qalandars

HBL PSL 2024: Usman, Usama pile on the misery for Qalandars

28/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31648547

LAHORE: Lahore Qalandars, desperate to end a five-match losing run, got the start they needed, only for Usman Khan and then Usama Mir to pile further misery on the two-time defending champions.

Playing their last game of the HBL Pakistan Super League on home turf, once again in front of a packed Gaddafi Stadium, skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi sent the crowd wild on Tuesday when his in-dipper got an inside edge off his Multans Sultans counterpart Mohammad Rizwan before crashing onto the stumps.

But from then on, they were largely chasing shadows as Usman took it away with a sparkling 55-ball 96, building fine partnerships with opener Reeza Hendricks (40), Tayyab Tahir (21) and Iftikhar Ahmed (40 not out), to guide the Sultans to an imposing 214-4 after they had elected to bat.

The Qalandars needed a heroic chase but despite a brisk opening stand of 54 by Sahibzada Farhan (31) and Fakhar Zaman (23), they never got partnerships going with leg-spinner Usama (6-40) ripping through their lower and middle order to send them packing for 154 with three overs to spare.

Since winning the title last season, the Qalandars have now lost six in a row; their playoff hopes dwindling with every defeat.

The Sultans, on the other hand, have won five in six and the ease with which they won on the night has made them firm contenders for the title Qalandars seem to be relinquishing.

Hendricks made little of the early dismissal of Sultans’ batting mainstay Rizwan as the South African set the game up for his side with six fours and a six in his 27-ball knock. He pulled an glanced Shaheen for successive fours to set the tone and then took on compatriot George Linde, hitting a four and a six on consecutive deliveries to help his side finish the powerplay at 53-1.

Usman was playing the anchor but got two boundaries in four balls; pulling Sikandar Raza and then turning Carlos Brathwaite off his legs. However, the 70-run partnership was broken when Hendricks was caught behind off Raza, just after he’d pulled away the spinner for his a boundary.

Usman ensured it was a minor hiccup only as he crashed Raza to the cover fence before guiding Brat­h­waite to the third man boundary. He then slam­med a flat six off Brath­waite to take the Sultans to the midway stage of their innings at 95-2.

Tayyab didn’t take long to settle and drove Salman Fayyaz down the ground for his first boundary as Usman raised his 50 on the 31st delivery he faced.

Tayyab’s deft touch fetched him a four behind the wicket off Jahandad Khan and Usman ended the 12th over with a four.

The Sultans were on the charge and Usman deposited Linde for six over mid-wicket and Tayyab paddled him for four. Usman dispatched a Zaman Khan full toss for four at deep fine leg and then slashed Brathwaite for four through the covers before Tayyab holed out in the deep.

The Sultans, though, still seemed to be headed towards a total in excess of 200 as they were 151-3 with five overs to go and Iftikhar kept them on track with an 18-ball blitz, which began when he smacked Jahan­dad for four over extra cover.

Usman thrashed Zaman for consecutive boundaries but got lucky on 89 when Brathwaite floored him at backward point. Shaheen hit Iftikhar on the grill, only for the right-hander to smash back-to-back sixes after recovering; first over deep extra cover and then over deep fine before finishing the 18th over with a cut for four.

Jahandad was belted away for a six as the Sultans crossed the 200-run mark and Usman moving moved four short of a century with his 11th boundary before Shaheen had him caught on the leg side in the last over.

Farhan and Fakhar gave Qalandars the start the big chase needed; the former cutting Khushdil Shah away for four with the first ball of the reply and then driving Mohammad Ali for four through the covers. Khushdil was then powered over mid-off for another boundary.

Fakhar got his first boundary at the start of the third over, cutting Ali past backward point, and got his second off Shahnawaz Dahani with a square drive with Farhan ensuring the fifth over ended with a flourish with three fours in a row to bring up the 50 for his side.

Fakhar started the sixth with another four but was cleaned up two balls later when Aftab Ibrahim found the yorker. Farhan followed six balls later, miscuing a sweep off Khushdil to be caught by Aftab at short fine leg.

Rassie van der Dussen (30) got off to a slow start but then opened his arms to launch chinaman Faisal Akram (2-25) for six over long-on, before being dropped at deep square two balls later. Faisal, however, got Kamran Ghulam (12) caught at deep mid-wicket to leave Qalandars at 91-3 after 10 overs.

Raza (17) smacked consecutive sixes off Usama in the following over but Faisal sent him back as the Zimbabwean tried to go for another big hit but found Hendricks at deep mid-wicket.

Shaheen promoted himself up the order and muscled Usama for six wide of long-on, only for the leggie to get him stumped three balls later. Usama retu­rned an over later to get Van der Dussen caught in the deep and then got two in two balls, first having Linde caught behind and then uprooted Jahandad’s off-stump to leave the Qalandars reeling at 133-8 with four overs to go.

Brathwaite landed some big hits before Usama returned to get Salman caught at mid-off after the tailender had launched him for a six over long-on and then finished off the Qalandars by having Zaman caught in the deep for his career-best T20 figures.



Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Mohammad Rizwan b Shaheen 0 5 0 0 0.00

Reeza Hendricks c Farhan b Raza 40 27 6 1 148.14

Usman Khan c Salman b Shaheen 96 55 11 2 174.54

Tayyab Tahir c Jahandad b Brathwaite 21 14 3 0 150.00

Iftikhar Ahmed not out 40 18 2 3 222.22

Khushdil Shah not out 3 2 0 0 150.00

EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1, W-8) 14

TOTAL (for four wickets, 20 overs) 214

DID NOT BAT: Usama Mir, Aftab Ibrahim, Faisal Akram, Mohammad Ali, Shahnawaz Dahani

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-4 (Rizwan), 2-74 (Hendricks), 3-151 (Tayyab), 4-211 (Usman)

BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-39-2 (3w), Zaman 4-0-43-0 (3w, 1nb), Linde 2-0-25-0, Brathwaite 4-0-36-1, Raza 2-0-20-1, Salman 1-0-11-0, Jahandad 3-0-35-0


Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Sahibzada Farhan c Aftab b Khushdil 31 21 6 0 147.61

Fakhar Zaman b Aftab 23 16 3 0 143.75

Rassie van der Dussen c Rizwan b Usama 30 22 1 1 136.36

Kamran Ghulam c Tayyab b Faisal 12 9 2 0 133.33

Sikandar Raza c Hendricks b Faisal 17 7 0 2 242.85

Shaheen Shah Afridi st Usman b Usama 9 5 0 1 180.00

George Linde c Usman b Usama 5 7 0 0 71.42

Carlos Brathwaite not out 14 7 1 1 200.00

Jahandad Khan b Usama 0 1 0 0 0.00

Salman Fayyaz c Rizwan b Usama 8 4 0 1 200.00

Zaman Khan c Tayyab b Usama 1 3 0 0 33.33

EXTRAS (B-4) 4

TOTAL (all out, 17 overs) 154

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-54 (Fakhar), 2-56 (Farhan), 3-89 (Kamran), 4-107 (Raza), 5-120 (Shaheen), 6-131 (van der Dussen), 7-132 (Linde), 8-132 (Jahandad), 9-152 (Salman)

BOWLING: Khushdil 4-0-31-1, Ali 3-0-32-0, Dahani 1-0-17-0, Aftab 1-0-5-1, Faisal 4-0-25-2, Usama 4-0-40-6

RESULT: Multan Sultans won by 60 runs.


Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2024
Kings captain Shan unfazed by lack of big individual performances

Kings captain Shan unfazed by lack of big individual performances

28/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31648548

KARACHI: Karachi Kings captain Shan Mas­ood is unfazed by the apparent lack of big individual contributions from his team-mates. The batter, instead, is proud of how they have showed up when needed the most.

The former HBL Pakis­tan Super League (PSL) champions have kicked off this year’s campaign with two wins out of the three they have played so far and will make their first appea­rance at home this season when they face Islamabad United at the National Bank Stadium on Wednesday.

With the momentum on their back, the Kings will con­tinue what has been du­b­bed as their rebuilding sta­ge after a disastrous run last season, and Shan is excited to do it in front of home fans.

“We are very excited about playing in Karachi, it’s a new direction, a new team, and we are ready to play in front of the home fans,” he told reporters here on Tuesday. “It’s a special occasion for Karachi Kings, we’ve made a good start.

“But a good team is the one which learns from its mistakes and builds on its positives and the aim is to perform well in tomorrow’s match as well.”

Following their loss to Multan Sultans in their opening match, Karachi bounced back with wins against Peshawar Zalmi and Lahore Qalandars.

In both wins, Shan saw small performances from a number of his players reaping the results for the Kings.

While Mir Hamza and Hasan Ali shared six wickets between them and James Vince and Kieron Pollard took Karachi across the line in the Zalmi fixture, Pollard and Shoaib Malik secured the victory against the Qalandars.

Those are the performan­ces one could point out from a scorecard, but Shan appr­eciates even the minute acts of service by his players towards the team’s cause.

“The special thing for us so far is that there has been no one outstanding individual performance,” he said. “A number of players have given small performances, be it batting or bowling and most importantly fielding.

“A good quality for any team is that anyone can perform in any match. The tournament can be of 10 to 14 matches, and we will be happy if a player performs in two matches and the other performs well in the other two.”

Shan went on to mention how Karachi’s chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi went for 42 runs against Qalandars but took the crucial wicket of Shai Hope, who was threatening to take the game away from the Kings at that point.

He also lauded the South African spinner for conceding just two runs in his last over against Zalmi to bring the team back into the game and limited the Peshawar outfit to a lower total than the latter may have targeted.

Shan backed Moham­mad Nawaz despite the all-rounder’s struggles in his first season with Karachi and believed that his Pakistan team-mate had showed up when there had been an opportunity for him to make a difference.

Shan, who hasn’t been able to get going himself so far, said he hoped to put up a good show soon.

“I got starts in all three innings but sadly got out after that,” Shan said. “But once again somebody has to perform, and when I do, I hope it’s when the team needs it the most.”

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2024
PSL 2024: Multan beat Lahore by 60 runs in lop-sided contest

PSL 2024: Multan beat Lahore by 60 runs in lop-sided contest

28/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31647888

Lahore Qalandars’ troubles were further compounded after they received another beating at the hands of Multan Sultans at Qaddafi Stadium on Tuesday.

Chasing a mammoth target of 215, thanks to a superb 96 off 55 by Usman Khan who played his first game of this year’s Pakistan Super League edition, Lahore got bundled out for 154, primarily because of Multan’s frontline leg-spinner Usama Mir who picked up six wickets for 40 runs.

Despite a decent start to the chase, Lahore struggled to keep the momentum up once Multan broke the opening partnership.

With Fakhar Zaman being the first Lahore wicket to fall, nobody from the top and the middle-order was able to convert their starts.

For Lahore, Sahibzada Farhan top scored with 31 off 21 with Fakhar scoring 23, the centurion from Lahore’s previous game Rassie van der Dussen 30, Kamran Ghulam 12, and Sikandar Raza managing only 17 runs.

In yet another bizarre move by Lahore, captain Shaheen Shah Afridi came ahead of the West Indian star allrounder Carlos Brathwaite who was only sent in when the game was all but over for Lahore.

For Multan, the pick of the bowlers was Usama Mir who has further solidified his position as one of Pakistan’s leading leg-spinners going forward to the T20 World Cup.

Lahore’s bowling was also very disappointing despite having made early inroads when an Afridi special inswing bowled at full length got rid of the Multan Sultans captain Mohammad Rizwan for a duck.

That remained the only silver lining for Lahore who continued to struggle throughout the rest of the game.

Multan was playing with two foreign players, due to niggle to three of their overseas players. However, that did not stop them from cementing their position further as the leaders on the points table.

Multan’s batters, especially Khan, had a really good outing with him smashing 11 4s and two 6s. He was well supported at the other end by the South African Reeza Hendricks who scored 40 off 27, Tayyab Tahir who scored 21 off 14, and Iftikhar Ahmed who played a brilliant cameo of 40 off 18.

With zero wins out of the total six they have played, Lahore’s qualification chances for the playoffs are virtually over. They would need certain results to go their way even if they win the rest of their games by decent margins.
1,000 security personnel to be deployed as ‘foolproof’ plan prepared for PSL matches in Karachi

1,000 security personnel to be deployed as ‘foolproof’ plan prepared for PSL matches in Karachi

28/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31647573

Sindh police on Tuesday said a “foolproof” security plan had been prepared for the Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) upcoming matches in Karachi.

After completing its Lahore leg, the marquee event will now move to Karachi where matches will be played from February 20 to March 18 at the National Bank Stadium.

In a statement issued today, the spokesperson of Sindh’s Special Security Unit said that around 1,000 commandos along with policemen from several districts, traffic police personnel, Rapid Response Force, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies would perform security duties at the stadium, practice grounds, airports, routes and hotels.

He said sharpshooters will also be deployed at sensitive points across the city while a specialised command and control bus will be stationed at the stadium to monitor the law and order situation in the surroundings of the stadium.

“Moreover, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team comprising highly trained and well-equipped commandos including female personnel will remain alert at SSU Headquarters as a quick response force to challenge any emergency situation,” the SSU spokesperson stated.

The statement further highlighted that all roads will remain open for commuters in the interest of public convenience.

It added that spectators would be thoroughly “guided and assisted” from parking points to the enclosure by SSU commandos in tracksuits.

“The China ground adjacent to the National Coaching Centre has been allocated as a parking point for the spectators coming to the stadium,” it said.

The statement also listed special instructions for spectators. Fans can purchase match tickets by visiting any of the designated TCS Express Centres across the country, it said.

“Every visitor must bring their CNIC at the venue to prove their identity,” the statement said. “Make sure you reach the stadium early to avoid waiting in long queues.”

It said all entrance gates would be opened three hours before the start of the match. Firearms, toy guns, explosives, firecrackers, cigarettes, matchboxes, lighters, and any sharp-edge materials like knives or metal and wooden clubs were not allowed inside the stadium.

“Any banner, poster, or placard displaying discrimination or obscene remarks on the grounds of race, religion, or ethnicity are strictly forbidden,” the statement said, adding that spectators were not allowed to throw any objects on the ground, at the performers and also fellow spectators.
Paris holds its breath for Olympic swimming events in murky Seine

Paris holds its breath for Olympic swimming events in murky Seine

27/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31646876

PARIS: Organisers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris may be feeling a little queasy over their commitment to hold open water swimming in the scenic but often polluted Seine.

Last August, the marathon swimming test events were cancelled because the water was too dirty, as were the swimming legs on two of the four days of triathlon and para-triathlon tests.

The city of Paris has insisted “there is no plan B”.

The course for the men’s and women’s 10-kilometre events will start at the iconic beaux-art Pont Alexandre-III and, with the Invalides and Eiffel Tower in the background, head 1km down river past other famed attractions, including the Musee d’Orsay, and the Grand Palais.

Perhaps appropriately, it passes the newly-renovated Paris Sewer Museum and the more minimalist Pont d’Alma before looping back. The triathlon swims are shorter and will turn back sooner.

It is a route chosen to showcase the beauty of Paris.

It is also politically symbolic: swimming has been banned in the Seine since 1923 but various Paris mayors have vowed to open it up.

In 1990, when he was mayor before becoming French president, Jacques Chirac promised the river would “soon” be clean enough in which to swim and that he would celebrate by taking a dip. He never did.

The current mayor, Anne Hidalgo, a vigorous promoter of green initiatives, has also promised she will take the plunge before the Olympics start and that the public will be allowed to swim at three locations by 2025. She has yet to get her feet wet.

City officials argue that the quality of the water has improved, but none of the samples collected between June and September 2023 met European standards on the minimum quality of water for swimming.

The big problem is faecal matter. The bacteria in the water increases sharply when heavy rain sweeps debris and untreated wastewater into the river from the banks and the overflowing drains and sewers.

The city tests the water at 14 points. In 2022, water quality at three of them was judged to be “sufficient” but had deteriorated by last summer.

The open-water swimming last Aug­­ust was cancelled after heavy ran sent E. coli readings to six times the target level set by World Aquatics (FINA).

The city of Paris insisted they had “learnt” from the sampling problems at the test events.

National and local authorities are also investing 1.4 billion euros (more than $1.5bn) in five projects designed to clean the water.

According to a Paris city official, the failed tests for the team triathlon and, two weeks later, the para triathlon swimming were caused not by rain but by a “valve malfunction” in the Paris sewage system.

The weather remains the “main risk”, acknowledges the Paris town hall, which fears “exceptional rainfall”.

The only backup plan for the swimming is postponing the events by a few days.

“There is no solution to move the event, the triathlon and open water swimming will be held in the Seine next year,” Tony Estanguet, Paris 2024 organising committee, said after the cancellations last August.

For the athletes these are the Olympics and dirty water is a constant risk in open-water competitions.

At the end of the test event in 2019 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, swimmers protested against the quality of the water in Tokyo Bay. Before the Rio Olympics in 2016, the polluted Guanabara Bay made headlines.

“A glittering setting,” Italian double world champion Gregorio Paltr­inieri told Italian media in January. “Even if the water is dirty, I would rather swim in an electric atmosphere in the centre of Paris than in an anonymous stretch of water.”

After winning silver at the world championships in Qatar earlier in February, Frenchman Marc-Antoine Olivier said he was excited by the venue.

“People may be afraid of what’s in the water, but swimming in a historic place is going to be incredible,” he said. “Of course, a lot of people are going to try and create a bit of a buzz about the conditions we’re going to have in the water, but if we can swim then there’s no problem. They won’t take the risk of us swimming and someone catching something.”

The triathlons could become ‘duathlons’ as some did last summer.

“It would be a shame but we adapted to a duathlon,” said Briton Beth Potter, who won the individual test event.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024
PSB recommends Athletics Federation of Pakistan to ban secretary from travelling as manager

PSB recommends Athletics Federation of Pakistan to ban secretary from travelling as manager

27/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31646826

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has been advised to ban Athletics Federation of Pakistan (AFP) general secretary retired Lt. Col Shahjehan Mir from travelling with athletes as manager for future international events.

The recommendation came on Monday from a three-member committee, which was set up to probe a recent controversy which saw two Pakistani athletes fail to participate in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship despite being present in host city Tehran.

The committee, headed by PSB director general Mohammad Shahid, pointed out negligence on the part of the AFP, hence directing action against Shahjehan.

“The PSB may not recommend to issue NOC in favour of Lt Col (retired) Shahjehan Mir Secretary General of AFP as ‘Manager’ with athletic team participating in the international competition,” read the inquiry report. “It also recommended that PSB may also direct AFP to immediately initiate an inquiry and execute stern action against responsible person as per provision made in AFP’s constitution. Report of inquiry may be shared with PSB and Ministry of Inter Provincial Coordination.”

The committee also pointed out that PSB may issue directions to all national sports federations to frame terms and references of the managers proceeding abroad with their athletes to participate in the international competition followed by capacity building program to avoid such untoward incidents in future.

“PSB may also direct all NSF to state the role of Manager and other officials in the PSB’s Per­forma for sending Pakistan Sports Teams/Spo­rts Person abroad,” the inquiry committee recommended and stated that this matter may be reported to the PSB’s board in its next meeting.

Last week, after terming AFP’s response unsatisfactory, the PSB on Thursday formed the committee to probe the non-participation of Shajar Abbas and Jaffar Ashraf in the Championship.

Sources said the AFP’s secretary told the probe committee that due to the shifting of the Technical Information Centre from the hotel to the stadium, which was one and half hour drive away, he reached there in the second session but entries of the two athletes were rejected.

He also told the committee that athletes of two other countries faced similar situation. However, the committee pointed out that in case the TIC was shifted from the hotel to the stadium, the manager should have reached there well on time to register the said athletes.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024
HBL PSL 2024: Ton-up Babar makes the difference as Zalmi prevail despite Azam blitz

HBL PSL 2024: Ton-up Babar makes the difference as Zalmi prevail despite Azam blitz

27/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31646824

LAHORE: Babar Azam knew he had to lead the charge for his team and on Monday, he showed a different side to his game. Never the player who goes for unconventional extravagance that has become the hallmark of the Twenty20 game, the Peshawar Zalmi skipper showed he can mix flair with his finesse.

The crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium, which chanted the name of their homegrown superstar every time he faced the ball, was witnessing Babar version 2.0. Even Zalmi coach Darren Sammy shook his head with a wry smile at what he was seeing.

Just days after a video went viral in which Babar was seen reacting angrily towards fans who shouted ‘ZimBabar’; a moniker given to him on social media for scoring big runs against less illustrious opposition like Zimbabwe, the former Pakistan captain showed he can do it all.

Babar had seen his partners fall one after the other and Zalmi’s hopes rested on him to provide the final flourish after they had been put into bat by Islamabad United.

Having launched Nase­em Shah for a six down the ground in the previous over, the right-hander, known for his elegance, cut loose in the 18th bowled by rookie Hunain Shah. Babar moved across the stumps and carted the ball for four over fine leg before hitting a six on the second ball.

The third ball met the same treatment as the first, Babar once again finding the fine-leg rope. He would smash two more boundaries off the next two balls to mo­ve closer to his century and drive Zalmi towards 200.

Babar had completed his half-century off 39 balls but moved to 99 off 57 when he cut away Tymal Mills for four to start the 18th over and then jumped for joy by bringing up his ton two balls later.

The best, and perhaps the most outrageous, of his 14 fours was probably his last, which came off the penultimate delivery when he shaped to paddle but adjusted late to dab it away to the point boundary.

Babar finished with a majestic 111 not out of 63 balls, helping Zalmi post 201-5 — a target that proved beyond United despite the best efforts of Azam Khan (75) and Colin Munro (71), who pulled their side close but departed in an explicable late collapse.

In the end, Babar’s ton, and his late acceleration, proved crucial. His decision to turn to spinner Arif Yaqoob to bowl the penultimate over also proving decisive as the spinner picked up four wickets off those six balls to finish with 5-27 as United fell short by eight runs in a game they seemingly had in the bag and have now lost three in a row.

Zalmi, on the other hand, have now won three on the bounce after opening the HBL Pakistan Super League season with a pair of losses.

They got off to a fast start against United; Saim Ayub, opening with Babar, following his 88 a day earlier against Lahore Qalandars, hitting a brisk 38 off 21, featuring three fours and two sixes — one of them a no-look hit off Tymal Mills.

But after the 77-run opening stand was broken, Saim missing a sweep off Agha Salman to see his stumps shattered, Zalmi lost two more for the addition of just five runs; Shadab Khan getting both the wickets in one over.

The United captain first held on to sharp return on the second attempt to send back Mohammad Haris and then trapped Haseebullah Khan lbw.

Zalmi endured a 28-ball boundary drought which was duly ended by Babar, who raised his half-century in the 13th over.

But after Paul Walter (19) was run out after a mix-up in the middle and Rovman Powell didn’t last long, Babar provided a grandstand finish to the innings with Asif Ali chipping in with an unbeaten 17 off nine balls.

United started the chase with purpose and reached 32 when opener Jordan Cox (13) missed a slower one by Luke Wood and saw the ball crash into his stumps.

But Cox’s opening partner Munro stayed defiant in the face of falling wickets. Shadab departed after miscuing spinner Arif Yaqoob to Saim, who hit back with venom to dismiss Agha Salman, who had hit him for a six and four off the previous two deliveries.

Having arrived with United in a spot of bother at 73-3 halfway through the 10th over, Azam provided a twist in the tale. With a sensational display of power-hitting, and with able support from Munro, he was looking to take his side over the line.

In a remarkable 30-ball blitz, he smashed a whopping six sixes and seven fours, putting away the Zalmi bowlers to all parts with utter disdain.

Munro also got on the act, hitting seven fours and a six in his 53-ball knock, and when Azam effortlessly hacked away Naveen-ul-Haq for six on the fifth ball of the 18th over, United looked primed to finish off the contest with 21 more runs required off 13 balls.

Azam, however, fell on the last ball of that over as he tried to go big down the ground, setting the stage for the drama at the end.

Munro tried to hit Arif out of the park the very next ball and ended up getting stumped and Babar jumped for joy two balls later when Haider Ali holed out in the deep. Arif would finish with two wickets on the last two balls of his spell as Faheem Ashraf’s revese sweep went straight to the fielder and Hunain was pouched by Powell.

United required 19 off the last over and although Naseem slammed Salman Irshad for six off the second ball, Babar completed the win for his side by taking the catch to see the end of Imad Wasim with two balls to go.



Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Saim Ayub b Salman 38 21 3 2 180.95

Babar Azam not out 111 63 14 2 176.19

Mohammad Haris c&b Shadab 2 3 0 0 66.66

Haseebullah Khan lbw b Shadab 0 3 0 0 0.00

Paul Walter run out (Shadab) 19 13 2 0 146.15

Rovman Powell c Azam b Naseem 8 8 1 0 100.00

Asif Ali not out 17 9 2 0 188.88

EXTRAS (LB-4, W-2) 6

TOTAL (for five wickets, 20 overs) 201

DID NOT BAT: Luke Wood, Naveen-ul-Haq, Arif Yaqoob, Salman Irshad

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-77 (Saim), 2-80 (Haris), 3-80 (Haseebullah), 4-114 (Walter), 5-124 (Powell)

BOWLING: Naseem 4-0-32-1, Salman 4-0-25-1, Imad 1-0-17-0, Mills 2-0-30-0 (1w), Shadab 4-0-28-2, Hunain 3-0-36-0 (1w), Faheem 2-0-29-0


Batters & modes of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

Jordan Cox b Wood 13 10 1 0 130.00

Colin Munro st Haseebullah b Arif 71 53 7 1 133.96

Shadab Khan c Saim b Arif 6 8 0 0 75.00

Salman Ali Agha c Haris b Saim 14 8 1 1 175.00

Azam Khan c Babar b Naveen 73 30 7 5 243.33

Haider Ali c Haris b Arif 0 1 0 0 0.00

Faheem Ashraf c sub (Mousley) b Arif 1 2 0 0 50.00

Imad Wasim c Babar b Salman 1 3 0 0 33.33

Hunain Shah c Powell b Arif 0 1 0 0 0.00

Naseem Shah not out 7 2 0 1 350.00

Tymal Mills not out 1 1 0 0 100.00


TOTAL (for nine wickets, 20 overs) 193

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-32 (Cox), 2-50 (Shadab), 3-73 (Salman), 4-181 (Azam), 5-181 (Munro), 6-182 (Haider), 7-183 (Faheem), 8-183 (Hunain), 9-191 (Imad)

BOWLING: Saim 3-0-24-1, Wood 4-0-37-1, Naveen 4-0-39-1, Arif 4-0-27-5, Walter 1-0-9-0, Salman 4-0-52-1

RESULT: Peshawar Zalmi won by eight runs.


Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024
Sultans’ Ali shrugs off comparisons ahead of Qalandars clash

Sultans’ Ali shrugs off comparisons ahead of Qalandars clash

27/02/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31646825

LAHORE: Multan Sultans pacer Mohammad Ali, who is currently leading the fast bow­ling charts of the HBL Pak­istan Super League with 13 wickets, has emphasised that he always strives to play his own game rather than co­m­paring himself with others.

Speaking to reporters after a training session at the LCCA ground here on Monday, on the eve of their match against the struggling Lahore Qalandars, Ali stated that he doesn’t see his performance as a competition with other players.

Instead, he said, that he focused on playing his own game and fulfilling the role assigned to him by the team management.

Ali played a significant role in propelling Multan Sultans to the top of the points table with eight points from five matches. He expressed confidence in his team’s balance and read­iness to face the Qala­ndars on their home ground.

Ali also dismissed the notion that transitioning from red-ball cricket to white-ball cricket was difficult, emphasising the impo­rtance of red-ball cricket in player development.

Meanwhile, Aaqib Jav­ed, the head coach of Lahore Qalandars and a former Test bowler, expressed disappointment over losing the services of paceman Haris Rauf, who was ruled out of the remaining matches of the PSL due to a shoulder dislocation suffered in the match against Karachi Kings on Saturday.

Aaqib highlighted the absence of key players like Haris and spinner Rashid Khan due to injury but remained hopeful that the Qalandars, despite the setbacks, possessed a strong bowling line-up.

He expressed optimism that the team would bounce back from recent narrow def­eats and perform better in upcoming matches to stay in contention for the playoff stage.

Multan Sultans’ skipper Mohammad Rizwan along with batter Reeza Hendr­icks are among the top-four batters of the tournament, reflecting the team’s strong performance across all departments.

Despite losing a match to Peshawar Zalmi, the Sult­ans managed victories agai­nst Islamabad United, Lah­ore Qalandars, and Karachi Kings at their home ground. The upcoming match will mark their first away game of the season.

For Lahore Qalandars, who have lost all five matc­hes so far, a victory against the Sultans is crucial to stay in contention. Their batter Rassie van der Dussen’s century against Zalmi made him the top-scorer with a total of 270 runs, marking the first century of the current edition of the PSL. Additionally, Qalandars ope­ner Sahib­zada Farhan holds the fifth position am­­ong the top-scorers. The Qal­­andars, however, need opener Fakhar Zaman to regain form, with the Paki­stan international having managed only 66 runs from five matches. Captain

Shah­een Shah Afridi, as the pace spearhead, also needs to lead by example.­

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024