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ISLAMABAD: Significant changes to the way international cricket is run were agreed in principle by the ICC board on Tuesday, the governing body said, although they were toned down from a set of radical proposals put forward by the game’s big three – India, England and Australia.

“Key principles” that had “unanimous support” from the board at its meeting in Dubai, according to the ICC, included the dumping of the troubled Test championship, which will be replaced in 2017 by the limited-overs Champions Trophy competition.

The International Cricket Council also said a new executive committee would be set up consisting of representatives from India, England and Australia and two other representatives taken from the ICC board.

The fact that those proposals were softened suggests they were opposed by members of the ICC board.

Pakistan and South Africa, two of the leading opponents of the original sweeping changes, stressed the principles laid out Tuesday had to be passed by their own national boards before they would back them at next month's ICC meeting.

“The PCB clearly stated at the (Tuesday) meeting that the guiding principles were subject to PCB’s governing board’s approval,” the Pakistan Cricket Board said.

Cricket South Africa said its board would carefully consider the changes before the follow-up meeting on Feb 8.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India, England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia had proposed a four-member executive committee, with those three countries deciding who joined them and rotating the chair between them.

The ICC said anyone from its board, which is made up of the 10 Test-playing nations and three representatives of smaller cricket countries, could eventually be elected to chair the board and anyone on the executive committee or influential finance and commercial affairs committee could chair those, but only after a “transitional period” ends in 2016.

Until then, India, England and Australia would lead the governing body’s top committees.

It was also agreed in principle that smaller countries would also have the chance to play Test cricket, but no one would lose their Test status. The ICC didn’t give detail on how current non Test-playing countries might win the right to play Tests.

India, England and Australia had suggested a reduced eight-team top tier for Tests with two countries immediately relegated, regular promotion and relegation, but immunity from relegation for the big three.

Tuesday’s proposed changes were yet to be formally adopted, with ICC President Alan Isaac saying “extensive work will now be undertaken in advance of a follow-up board meeting next month.”

Before the start of Tuesday’s board meeting, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Zaka Ashaf told a Pakistani television station that his board was united with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in opposing the radical proposals, which would have needed eight of the 10 test nation votes to be passed.

Although the principles ultimately agreed on were watered down, there were concessions that India, England and Australia would take more control of the ICC, recognising the reality that the three countries, and specially India, raise a huge portion of the ICC's revenue.

Some of the changes agreed in principle are:

a) An opportunity for all member countries to win the right to play Tests, “with participation based on meritocracy,” according to the ICC. There were no details of any promotion format.

b) A Test cricket fund will make money available annually to the other seven Test countries outside the big three: Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

This would be introduced to “encourage and support Test match cricket,” the ICC said, with the game’s flagship format struggling to make money away from the big three.

c) Bilateral agreements for Test series could come into effect from 2015, a move away from the ICC-controlled Future Tours Program which ensured big teams had to play series against smaller teams at some point in the rotation.

Bilateral agreements would give India, England and Australia more scope to pick and choose who and when they play.

d) The ICC said the powerful and rich Indian board would take “a central leadership responsibility.”

e) The new five-member executive committee made up a representative from the BCCI, the ECB, CA and two other members. For two years from June the BCCI would chair the ICC board, CA would chair the executive committee and the ECB would chair the influential finance and commercial affairs committee while the governing body undergoes a “transitional period.”

f) The Test championship planned for 2017 will be dropped and the 50-over Champions Trophy played in its place.

DUBAI: Sri Lanka owed it to their bowlers for taking the opening day honours against Pakistan in the second Test in Dubai on Wednesday.

A three-pronged pace and one-man spin attack helped Sri Lanka bowl out Pakistan for just 165 after Angelo Mathews won the toss and opted to bowl on a seaming Dubai stadium pitch.

Paceman Nuwan Pradeep finished with a career-best 3-62 while spinner Rangan Herath took 3-26. Fast bowlers Shaminda Eranga (2-25) and Suranga Lakmal (2-45) were also useful in the second session.

By the close Sri Lanka had knocked off 57 runs for the loss of opener Dimuth Karunaratne, out leg-before to Junaid Khan for 32.

Kaushal Silva and Kumar Sangakkara were each on 12 as Sri Lanka now trail Pakistan by 108 runs with nine wickets intact on a day dominated by the bowlers.

But initially it looked as if Sri Lanka had miscalculated in bowling first as Ahmed Shehzad, trapped leg-before by Pradeep in the tenth over for three, was the only man out by lunch, but five wickets fell for 71 runs as Pakistan slumped from 57-1 to 128-6 at tea.

Pradeep said his hard work paid off.

“I came into the team after a long time,” said Pradeep who played his last Test in January last year. “During that period I worked hard in the club as well as with the A team and from that experience I bowled well today.”

Opener Khurram Manzoor top-scored with 73 in an otherwise insipid batting display.

Manzoor termed the seam movement as difficult to handle.

“It wasn't easy out there, toss was vital because pitch is helping seam bowlers,” said Manzoor.

“Whoever plays positive will score runs. Sri Lankans really bowled very well and the first hour on Thursday will be important for us.”

Sri Lankan pacemen had little success in the first session and their hard work was also spoiled by sloppy fielding.

Mathews floored Shehzad in the slips off Lakmal with the batsman still to get off the mark, but the lapse did not prove costly.

Mahela Jayawardene dropped Hafeez off the first ball he faced from Pradeep, but the paceman had the last laugh when he bowled Hafeez through the gate soon after lunch.

Pakistan had pinned their hopes on Younis Khan and Misbah-ul Haq but they lost their last eight wickets for 58 runs.

Eranga took the prized wickets of Younis and Misbah in the space of seven balls. Younis, who made 13, tried to cut a wide delivery while Misbah was squared up on a moving delivery on one -- both caught behind.

It was a rare failure for Misbah who was Pakistan's best batsman in Tests and one-dayers last year.

Lakmal then had Manzoor caught behind off a rash shot and Asad Shafiq off a miscued drive for six.

Manzoor hit seven fours and a six during his 136-ball knock but failed to turn it into a big score and halt the slide.

Pradeep, who had three wickets in his previous four Tests, took the scalp of Sarfraz Ahmed after tea for seven to claim his best figures in Tests.

Herath polished off the tail to wrap Pakistan's innings.

The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from January 16.

Teams: Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Bilawal Bhatti, Rahat Ali.

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Prasanna Jayawardene, Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera.

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) and Sundaram Ravi(IND)

TV umpire: Richard Kettleborough (ENG)

Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)

ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq termed the one-day victories over South Africa and Sri Lanka as “special wins” which meant his team ended a tough year on a high.

Pakistan beat South Africa 2-1 last month - their first-ever one-day series win over the Proteas - before clinching the Sri Lanka series 3-2 on Friday.

Even though Pakistan lost the fifth and final match by two wickets in Abu Dhabi, Misbah said the series win was satisfying.

“I think it was a tough year for us but the two series we won in South Africa and now against Sri Lanka, they are very special and ended our year on a high note,” Misbah said after Friday's game.

The win over Sri Lanka was Pakistan's seventh one-day series win this year -- their best-ever in a calendar year -- which also included a 2-1 victory against India in January.

Misbah hoped the one-day series win over Sri Lanka would lift his team's morale ahead of the three-Test series starting in Abu Dhabi from Tuesday.

“We did struggle in the middle of the year,” said Misbah of Pakistan's loss in the Champions Trophy in June in England.

“We have to improve our fielding because we had Friday's match in our hands but we let it go because of poor fielding.”

Misbah hit a solid 51 to end the year with 1373 runs in 34 one-days -- the highest by any player in 2013 -- to lead Pakistan to 232 all out. Sri Lanka sneaked through in the final over with Dinesh Chandimal hitting an unbeaten 64.

Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews showed disappointment over the series loss.

“We were good enough to get over it but I think we were nowhere near our brand of cricket and disappointed that we lost the series,” said Mathews, describing defeat in the first match as the turning point.

“If you look at the series, the first game was very crucial, we lost that by 11 runs and had we won that game we would have been sitting 3-2 winners,”said Mathews of the match in Sharjah.

Sri Lanka levelled the series in Dubai with a two-wicket win before Pakistan won the third and fourth matches to take an unbeatable 3-1 lead.

Mathews said his team will be more competitive in Tests with experienced batsman Mahela Jayawardene and ace spinner Rangana Herath joining the squad.

“We played without Herath and Jayawardene in the one-days but they will back for the Tests and so we will be at our full strength and we will be more competitive,” said Mathews.

The second Test will be played in Dubai (January 4-8) and the third in Sharjah (January 16-20).

DUBAI: Dashing allrounder Shahid Afridi starred in Pakistan's exciting three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Twenty20 international at Dubai stadium on Wednesday.

Afridi scored an unbeaten 20-ball 39, hitting the winning six off the first ball of the final over by paceman Nuwan Kulasekara to give Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

In all Afridi hit three sixes and two boundaries to help Pakistan overcome a tough challenge from world number one Sri Lanka who had taken the match to the final over with Pakistan needing six runs.

Set a challenging 146 to get, Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad (four) in the third over but Mohammad Hafeez (32) and Sharjeel Khan (34) steadied the innings through their 57-run second wicket stand before they lost three wickets in the space of seven runs.

Sharjeel holed out after hitting three fours off 31 balls while Hafeez, who hit two fours and a six in his 27-ball knock, fell leg-before and Umar Akmal was run out for five. It was left to Afridi to see Pakistan through.

Criticised for his recent poor batting form, Afridi hit two towering sixes in Kulasekara's 16th over to give Pakistan a sniff of victory.

When on 23, Afridi also became the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 50 wickets in all Twenty20 cricket. In all he has 73 wickets in 69 matches.

Afridi said he was delighted to return to his aggressive batting.

“Pakistan won and I'm very happy for that. I have to mention (skipper) Hafeez, who was not feeling well but still he played for the country,” he said at the presentation ceremony.

“It's nice to bat well, once in a blue moon.”

Sent into bat, Sri Lankan batsmen did not capitalise on the good starts before Mathews (50) and Lahiru Thirimanne (23 not out) added 58 for the fifth wicket stand to take their team to 145-5 in 20 overs.

Mathews hit five boundaries and a six off 34 balls before holing out in the last over. He hit paceman Bilawal Bhatti for three boundaries in one over before sending left-arm paceman Sohail Tanvir to long-on ropes to reach his fifty off 32 balls.

Experienced opener Tillakaratne Dilshan managed just seven before he was the first wicket to fall in the second over.

Kusal Perera (15) and skipper Dinesh Chandimal (22) then added 32 for the second wicket but off-spinner Saeed Ajmal put on the initial brakes with 2-35. Kumar Sangakkara scored 21.

Pakistan gave an international debut to 19-year-old Usman Shinwari after the left-arm paceman was drafted into the team as late as Tuesday but the youngster from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bowled only one over, costing nine runs.

Tanvir finished with 2-32 while leg-spinner Shahid Afridi took 1-20 in his four overs.

The second match will also be played in Dubai on Friday. The two teams also play five one-day internationals and three Tests.

 

LAHORE: Sixteen young Pakistani women will make history this weekend as they compete in the 2013 Kabaddi World Cup — the first time the country has ever fielded an international women's team in the sport.

The traditional tag-wrestling sport involves players trying to tag an opponent before making it back to their half of the field.

Kabaddi is hugely popular in the Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan, where it originates, and is played in countries around the world with South Asian populations.

It has traditionally been seen as a macho sport but now Pakistan is sending a women's team to the November 30-December 14, 2013 World Cup in India.

For 24-year-old Sayeda Fareeda Khanum, who comes from a conservative, religious family where she fought for years to be allowed to compete in sports, it is a dream come true.

“I have been sports crazy since childhood and was selected for national events in various sports many times, but I was never allowed by my family to attend a training camp outside college or university,” she said.

“But when I got selected for the Kabaddi team, I told my mother that I would play this sport at any cost and left home to join the camp in Lahore.”

Khanum, the team's best defender, spoke to AFP between sessions in a tough fitness workout at Lahore's Punjab stadium. “Getting the national colours was my childhood dream. I am going to India to fight a do-or-die battle for my nation and prove that Pakistani girls can do everything women do in other countries,” she said.

India and Pakistan, neighbours and ferocious sporting rivals, have met in two of the three men's World Cup finals held so far, with India prevailing both times.

The women are determined to succeed where their male counterparts have failed.

“We decided to participate in this team for the sake of Pakistan, and for the sake of true patriotism. And we have tried our level best, and by the will of God we will succeed,” Vice-captain Sumera Zahoor, who comes from a martial arts background, said.

Having decided to build the women's team, the authorities wrote to top sports organisations and educational institutions, collecting a group of girls coming from diverse sporting backgrounds.

Half already represent various other sports like athletics, weightlifting and racket games, while a few new players with the right attitude and ambitions have also earned a place in the team.

Training for the women in green, yellow and blue tracksuits begins with prayers and a recitation from the Quran.

After chants of “Long live Pakistan” and “God is great”, they begin physical training before moving on to wrestling techniques.

It has not been an easy task for the support staff to get the team together and direct their potential.

“All the girls come from different games, some are from athletics, some are weightlifters,” Aisha Qazi, the team's coach, said.

“These are individual players' games but Kabaddi is a team event, so there is a huge difference and it has taken me some time to teach them.”

Qazi, herself a first-class cricketer and international baseball player, said they were thrilled to be the first women's team to represent Pakistan in international Kabaddi.

Head coach Ghulam Abbas Butt said he was confident the women's team would live up to their promise.

“I hope the boys' team will win the World Cup this time and the girls would also not disappoint in their first appearance,” he said.

“I have done this training with my heart, and they followed it the same way. These were new girls and they have done whatever I asked them to do. That's why I know that they will play well,” he said.

The Pakistan women face England, Mexico and Denmark in their pool matches while arch rivals India play the United States, Kenya and New Zealand.

CAPE TOWN: Debutants Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali spurred Pakistan to victory after their team had been in deep trouble in the first one-day international against South Africa at Newlands on Sunday.

The newcomers shared an eighth wicket stand of 74 to rescue Pakistan from a precarious 131 for seven, then shared five wickets as Pakistan won by 23 runs.

Pakistan made 218 for nine in their 50 overs after winning the toss.

Despite a half-century from returning veteran Jacques Kallis, South Africa were bowled out for 195.

Bhatti (39) and Ali (43 not out) prospered after Pakistan's recognised batsmen struggled against a strong South African pace attack.

Bhatti, 22, took three for 37 in South Africa's innings, while Ali, 25, claimed two for 24, including the crucial wicket of Kallis, bowled for 50.

Bhatti and Ali shared the man of the match award and earned high praise from captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

“I am very happy, especially as the two youngsters set it up. The plan was to negotiate the new ball, then accelerate but we kept losing wickets at the wrong time. It was not a good total but the bowlers did really well,” said Misbah.

For the first time since South Africa began their rise to the top of the Test rankings, the hosts fielded all three of their leading fast bowlers - Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel - in the same one-day side.

With Kallis returning for his first one-day international since February 2012, South Africa applied relentless pressure as Pakistan struggled. But Bhatti and Ali, who have both scored first-class centuries despite primarily being picked as bowlers, went for their shots to keep their side in the game.

Steyn took three for 33 and Morkel three for 39, while Philander claimed one for 37.

Bhatti and Ali put on 74 off 70 balls. Bhatti made his 39 off 25 balls, hitting three fours and two sixes, while Ali hit six fours in a 55-ball innings.

“We spoke about batting out the 50 overs,” said Ali.

“We have played together a lot in domestic cricket so that helped.”

South Africa suffered an early blow when Hashim Amla exposed his leg stump and was bowled by Junaid Khan in the third over of their innings.

Graeme Smith followed in the next over, stumped by Umar Akmal off Mohammad Hafeez, although it was a fortuitous dismissal for the wicketkeeper as the ball bounced off his gloves, onto the ground and into the stumps while Smith's foot was momentarily off the ground.

Kallis and Quinton de Kock put on 42 for the third wicket before De Kock was bowled by Bhatti.

Batting with calm assurance, Kallis reached 50 for the 103rd time in one-day internationals but was then bowled by Ali, edging an in-swinging delivery from Ali off the bottom of his bat into the stumps.

When David Miller edged Ali to Akmal, South Africa were 123 for six.

JP Duminy made 49 before he was caught behind, attempting a reverse sweep against Saeed Ajmal and Bhatti claimed the last two wickets to seal a memorable win for the tourists, who were beaten 4-1 by the same opponents in a recent series in the United Arab Emirates.

“The bowlers did a brilliant job in getting them seven down but we let it slip at the end,” said South African captain AB de Villiers.

Teams:

South Africa: AB de Villiers, (captain), Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Jacques Kallis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal (wkt), Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Anwar Ali.

Umpires: Johan Cloete (RSA), Chris Gaffaney (NZL) TV umpire: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) Match referee: Chris Broad (Z)

“You know, there was a Pakistani cricket team with five county captains, one of a kind in international cricket history. Asif Iqbal was captain at Kent, Zaheer Abbas at Gloucestershire, Intikhab Alam at Surrey, Majid Khan at Glamorgan and Mushtaq Mohammad at Northamptonshire. Son, leading an English County is no mean feat; it takes more than just a good cricketer to get the honour. Not long ago, only gentlemen got that rank, not professional cricketers.”

This, among many was a repeated story I heard my father narrate at an age I could absorb little. But this I understood; cricket was religion and Pakistani cricketers were its idols.

Growing up, I remember my father always speaking in particular about Fazal Mahmood with great love and admiration, a hero of a Pakistan I hadn’t seen. I imagined Fazal as not just being a champion fast bowler but also a really good looking bloke with a charismatic personality, a true poster boy of the time when my father himself was a kid. He often recalled how “Hanif Mohammad cycled from Garden (a municipality of old Karachi) to the National Stadium Karachi, to open the innings for Pakistan on the morning of a Test match. His mother packed his tiffin that he shared with his brothers at lunch.”

I knew this was the stuff of legends. There was an air of pride in my father’s voice as he reminisced about Pakistan cricket.

As an integral part of most households across the country, in cricket, people found solace in times of crisis and amplified exuberance in times of joy. It was not just a sport; it was a lifestyle, injected into the veins without a conscious effort. Kids are extremely impressionable and cricket had a large imprint on the youth of Pakistan.

While Vivian Richards was the undisputed king of cricket in our home, each family member had a Pakistani idol.

My two eldest brothers, being a decade older than me, had seen the glory days of Javed Miandad and Imran Khan and had illuminated their hearts with the duo. The eldest was a loyal Karachiite and maintained that it was Javed who was the grit and brains behind Pakistan cricket, accusing Imran of provincial nepotism and favoritism in selection. On the contrary, his younger brother was in awe of the man Imran Khan was; idolising Khan was always self explanatory. The third in line was our only brother who graduated from club level to play first-class cricket in Pakistan. He was a Shoaib Mohammad fan. Shoaib, son of the original little master Hanif, was consistently among runs and technically very sound, but also painfully slow. He was, unjustly, the victim of many jokes because of his lack of aggression; one could draw certain parallels to Misbah-ul-Haq of today.

You can be born in a religion but it does not necessarily give you faith. Belief comes from one’s own experiences in life, a prayer that is answered, a miracle that is witnessed or an event that instills absolute conviction in your heart. One man that immediately became my cricketing deity was Wasim Akram, he was my poster boy. He could do no wrong; I celebrated his conquests and defended his failures. I fought and guarded him even when I knew he had gravely erred and sometimes even betrayed.

The arguments in the house were fierce and ended up in heated discussions on the dinner table. But like religion, it was to each his own and we were taught to respect differing opinions by our father who usually remained neutral and almost always had the last word. Our home was a reflection of a typical Pakistani household of the ’80s.

Quantum Physics has revolutionised how we interpret the physical world, giving us insight into the minutest inner workings of the world we live in. A principle of Quantum Physics, called the ‘observer effect’, states that the observer and the observed cannot be separated. The theory argues that the very act of observing an object or event, changes it in infinitesimal ways. Given this, in essence, every single person watching a cricket match is not just observing it, but is also contributing to its result. The theory, which is often cause for debate, applies well to what Pakistan cricket is experiencing, at least the mental side of things.

India was on a tour of Pakistan in 1989 when I first met cricket’s greatest modern-day icon, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He was visiting my uncle’s home along with Ajay Sharma. Hardly the cricketers that excited me or ones I knew. Although, meeting Sachin was immediately a little special. He was a bit shy but his reputation preceded him, plus at only 16, he seemed closer to my age than other cricketers. Later on that tour, he was hit on the mouth by Waqar Younis but continued to bat in a blood-soaked shirt. Sachin’s sanctity was immediately established.

Fast forward 24 years later. Tendulkar received the largest and most emotional cricketing farewell in memory and his retirement speech was of a man with extreme humility and gratitude. Without glorifying his own achievements, he recognised the contribution of his wife, parents, siblings, coaches, doctors, peers, friends, the entire country and its media made toward his success.

Sachin was always given the accolades of a higher God among other cricketing deities created in India. When match referee Mike Denness reprimanded six Indian players in a Test match including a one-match suspension to Sachin for ball tampering, the entire Indian nation got behind their heroes and burnt their opponents to ashes, literally. Indian cricketers are best looked after by their people, making sure the men that excel at such craft are highly respected and provided with an extraordinary lifestyle. It’s a sign of a progressing civilization, a stark contrast to their neighbours.

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