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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.

CAPE TOWN: Pakistan held on for a close six-run win in the second Twenty20 on Friday to end a six-game losing streak to South Africa in limited-overs games.

Shahid Afridi’s 3-28 backed up earlier half-centuries by Umar Akmal and captain Mohammad Hafeez as Pakistan successfully defended its 176-4 at Newlands to draw the series 1-1. Akmal made 64 and Hafeez 63 in a match-winning 102-run stand off just 55 balls after Pakistan opted to bat first and made it count.

Hashim Amla replied with 48 opening South Africa’s chase, but legspinner Afridi accounted for Quinton de Kock (26), Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers to have the hosts 87-3.

After Amla was out just short of his half-century, JP Duminy (47 not out) and David Miller were held at bay by good death bowling by Sohail Tanvir to give Pakistan a long-awaited win. South Africa finished on 170-4.

The teams begin their three-game ODI series at the same ground on Sunday.

"We have been working hard," said Hafeez, who was named man of the match and man of the series. "We knew we had to win this game to stay positive for the rest of the series."

 

Akmal and Hafeez combined for their century stand to lift Pakistan from a slow start at 44-2. Akmal had five fours and four towering sixes in his explosive 64 off 37 balls in Pakistan’s only significant partnership. Hafeez hit five fours and three sixes for his 63 off 41 balls before he was out in the 17th over to Dale Steyn (2-29).

Akmal fell to Steyn in the last over but the damage was already done, giving the home team a tough target to chase down under lights.

Amla began brightly, stroking five fours while opening partner De Kock hit four boundaries in his 26.

Spinner Afridi changed the game, though, having De Kock and captain Du Plessis caught in the deep and then bowling De Villiers with a quicker, flatter delivery. Amla fell to Pakistan’s other spinner, Saeed Ajmal, leaving Duminy and Miller with 60 runs to get in only 27 balls.

Their unbroken 53-run stand brought South Africa close, but Tanvir held his nerve in the final over to concede just six runs off the first five deliveries, clinching just a second win for Pakistan in nine limited-overs games against the South Africans.

Teams: South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, David Wiese, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso.

Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (captain), Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Umar Akmal (wkt), Shahid Afridi, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan.

Umpires: Johan Cloete, Shaun George (both RSA)

TV umpire: Karl Hurter (RSA)

Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)

JOHANNESBURG: Five days after completing a series in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Pakistan square up again in a Twenty20 International at the Wanderers Stadium on Wednesday.

Two Twenty20 games will be followed by three One-day Internationals in a tour arranged in haste after a fall-out between the Indian and South African boards led to India cutting short a tour to the republic.

It is the third tour featuring South Africa and Pakistan this year. The Pakistanis played three Tests, five One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals in South Africa between January and March. In a reciprocal tour which ended last Friday, the two nations clashed in two Tests, five One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals in the United Arab Emirates.

The tour will serve a double purpose for South Africa. It will reduce the estimated loss of an estimated more than US$10-million caused by the curtailment of the India tour, four One-day Internationals and two Twenty20 games were cut from the original itinerary, and it will enable the host country’s limited overs teams to continue to work towards the elusive goal of winning a global tournament.

Although South Africa’s Test team are the undisputed world champions, both the Twenty20 and one-day sides have had mediocre records in recent times. Both made considerable progress in the UAE, where South Africa won the one-day series 4-1 and the Twenty20 series 2-0.Pakistan, by contrast, have ground to make up after their batsmen in particular let them down in the recent series.

Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan’s T20 captain, said in an arrival press conference on Sunday that his players were heartened by their showing in South Africa earlier in the year when they won the only completed 20-overs game and extended South Africa before losing the one-day series 3-2, with their batsmen performing better than they did in the UAE.

“We put up a good show in the shorter formats and we believe in this part of the world, we’ve done reasonably well,” said Hafeez.

Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore, whose contract will not be renewed when it expires in February, hailed the emergence of the hard-hitting Sohaib Maqsood as a positive from the recent series. But Pakistan will hope for improved form from the likes of Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal.

Pakistan will be without tall left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Irfan, one of their better bowlers in the recent series. He suffered a hip injury in the last match in the UAE.

South Africa named an unchanged squad for the two Twenty20 games. A squad for the One-day Internationals will be named later in the week. It is widely expected that veteran all-rounder Jacques Kallis will be included. Kallis has not played in a One-day International since February 2012.

Squads:

South Africa (T20 squad): Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, A.B. de Villiers, J.P. Duminy, Imran Tahir, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

Pakistan (tour squad): Mohammad Hafeez (T20 captain), Misbah-ul-Haq (ODI captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman, Nasir Jamshed, Asad Shafiq, Bilawal Bhatti.

Schedule:

Nov 20: First Twenty20 International (Johannesburg).

Nov 22: Second Twenty20 International (Cape Town).

Nov 24: First One-day International (Cape Town).

Nov 27: Second One-day International (Port Elizabeth).

Nov 30: Third One-day International (Centurion).—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Irfan on Saturday was ruled out of the short tour of South Africa after developing a hip strain during the Twenty20 international against the Proteas on Friday.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) named uncapped fast bowler Bilawal Bhatti as a replacement in a 17-member squad for the two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals which begins with a Twenty20 at Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Misbah-ul-Haq has been retained as captain for the three ODIs after losing the series 4-1 against South Africa in the United Arab Emirates.

Mohammad Hafeez, who did not score a run in Pakistan's 2-0 rout against the Proteas in Twenty20s, will continue to lead in the shorter format.

The PCB said that Irfan will stay in the UAE for medical checkups.

Irfan fell over in his follow through while bowling his second over on Friday, and walked off the field in pain.

He returned to bat at No. 11, but was visibly in discomfort while running between the wickets as Pakistan lost the second Twenty20 by six runs.

Surprisingly Pakistan selectors kept faith with the same set of batsmen who struggled against South Africa in the UAE.

Allrounders Abdul Razzaq and Shoaib Malik, who both made an unimpressive return to the team for the Twenty20s, got another opportunity to strike forms along with struggling Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal and Nasir Jasmhed.

Cape Town will host the second Twenty20 on Nov. 22 and the first one-day international on Nov. 24. The remaining two ODIs will be played at Port Elizabeth (Nov. 27) and at Centurion (Nov. 30).

It will be the third bilateral one-day series between the two countries this year. Pakistan lost 3-2 against the Proteas in South Africa earlier this year before losing in the UAE. Pakistan is yet to beat South Africa in seven bilateral one-day series.

The just-completed series saw South Africa jump to No. 3 in the world Twenty20 rankings, and Pakistan fall to No. 4.

Squad: Misbah-ul-Haq (captain ODIs), Mohammad Hafeez (captain T20s), Ahmad Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Umar Amin, Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sohail Tanvir, Anwar Ali, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Nasir Jamshed, Bilawal Bhatti.

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