Pakistan

PSL review, new kids on the block!

Hello and good morning, here I Ayyaz Malik aka The Sports Buff, talk about this years on going PSL. the games have been brilliant!

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The over 40’s club

With Pakistan being neighbours to them, many won’t be able to resist the comparisons between Pakistan Super League and the Indian Premier League. Such comparisons are extremely unfair of course as the PSL is an infant a toddler almost at 4 years old whilst the IPL is the bigger brother at 13 years old, the IPL knows more than the PSL, but he too is inexperienced and can mature much more. What I want to talk about here is that many see these T20 tournaments as a ‘young man’s game’.

This year’s PSL tournament is an example that the youngsters won’t be solely dominating the Super League team sheets, several veterans are blessing the PSL.

West Indian legend Chris Gayle (Quetta Gladiators), Mohammed Hafeez (Lahore Qalandars) and Shahid Afridi (Multan Sultans)  are all members of the 40-year old club. The four, might not want to scream that from the rooftops, but fans will be screaming and shouting about how Messers Gayle, Hafeez and Afridi have made solid contributions.

Former Pakistan captain Afridi has impressed with the ball, in particular, the first game as the veteran all-rounder Afridi finished with 2-24 off four overs against Islamabad United in the first game.

As for the other three, they have made some good contributions with the bat. Gayle scored a solid 39 and a streaky half-century (68) in two games. The fifty that The Big Boss scored did offer a couple of big changes to the Lahore Qalanders, but the Qalanders fielders shelled those chances. Those drops didn’t prove costly as fellow veteran Mohammed Hafeez clubbed an unbeaten 73 off just 33 balls, which helped Lahore win and chase down a potentially tricky target at a canter.

For the cricket purists amongst you, I know you will be thinking why hasn’t Kamran Akmal been mentioned? I must admit as I drafted this up, I was thinking the same thing too, but then after some research realised he’s a spring chicken at 39. Just like Akmal,  Shoaib Malik is a youthful 39.

As I was compiling this blog, there was some drafting and re-drafting, my criterion is strict, this blog is a shout-out to the 40’s club. Messers Malik and Akmal wishing them good health will be in the club next year! It’s brilliant to see the veterans we mentioned doing so well. Sohail Tanveer, Mohammed Irfan, Sarfraz Ahmed are arguably in the veteran category too but are a bit more youthful than Gayle, Hafeez and Afridi.

The youngsters in the tournament and the emerging players too is clear evidence that the PSL is making huge strides on the T20 cricketing world map. Not bad for a tournament that’s 10 years behind the IPL and the other leagues around the world.

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PSL review; the poor man’s IPL?

No matter what will happen, they will always be in the shadow of their older brother.
In families, they usually say the smaller one gets spoilt alongside the older child and the middle child is like a ghost in the family household.

Now in this scenario, they’re not exactly the ghost, but the Pakistan Super League has been in the Indian Premier League’s shadow.
As both India and Pakistan are neighbours, of course, the attention will be on one another as the world looks to see both staging their equivalent of a T20 domestic cricket masterpiece.

This tag, all be it unfair has been on the organiser’s necks, that they will not be good as the IPL.
The same could be said of the BBL and any other t20 league around the world. It’s a fact that India, were the trailblazers in the T20 format.

The Indian’s some 11/12 years ago created a T20 league which helped build a new audience to a sport that many thought needed a new spark to it.

Slow, boring and an old man’s game has been some of the accusation’s thrown at the real beautiful game.
Bouncers at 90mph, a straight drive through the covers, then football players fall down with a little bit of a tickle.
Arguably somewhat behind their Indian counterparts, Pakistan have closed the gap and keep closing the gap on the rest of the T20 world cricket family.

Gradually, getting better each year. This years tournament, the sixth, started today as defending champions Karachi Kings faced 2019 winners Quetta Gladiators.

There were plenty of star players on show in this game. Former captain Sarfraz Ahmed who’s captain of the Gladiators, the very talented Azam Khan, Chris Gayle, Ben Cutting and Pakistani paceman Naseem Shah, just to name a few.
Champions Karachi were packed with talent too with the likes of Imad Wasim, Babar Azam, Colin Ingram and Mohammed Nabi.

As impressive as this list of talent is, there is more talent that is on show in this years PSL.
In terms of English players Alex Hales (Islamabad United) Cameron Banton (Quetta Gladiators), Joe Clarke (Karachi Kings) and Phil Salt also Islamabad United, shows that the talent card had improved upon other years.

As for today’s match itself in a game that many thought would be tight turned into a one-sided affair. Quetta were bowled out for just 121. In reply, Karachi Kings knock off this target with six overs to spare.

This tournament has already produced a great game. Poor man’s IPL? The organises will be out to prove that theory wrong.
Here’s to hoping for some more brilliant cricket tomorrow.

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Pakistan pak too much of a punch for The Proteas

Pakistan wasted little time in wrapping up the first test against South Africa, in what turned out to be a convincing seven wicket win, with a day to spare. Hosts Pakistan, who wrestled control back in this test match, at the end of day three, were full value for their win.

South Africa, after being skittled all out for 220, in their first innings, did manage to get back into the match after they had reduced the Asian side to 27-4. Fawad Alam and Azhar Ali however, were the key for Pakistan as they frustrated The Proteas and gradually got back in the game.

This defensive rearguard, essentially knocked the wind out of South Africa’s sails and since then Pakistan have been on top. South Africa did threaten to get back into the game when Aiden Markram (74) and Rassie Van Der Dussen (64) combined for a second wicket stand of 127.

When the 30-year old Van Der Dussen, was dismissed from the bowling of Yasir Shah, the next eight South African wickets fell for just 70 runs. From being in a solid position of 175-2, the tourists inexplicably crumbled to 245 all out.

Debutant Nauman Ali, was the chief destroyer for Pakistan as the slow left armer claimed an impressive 5-35. This batting collapse by Quinton De Kock’s South Africa, meant that Pakistan just needed 88 to win, which they duly did with seven wickets to spare.

There was a couple of hiccups early on as both openers Abid Ali (10) and Imran Butt (12) fell in quick succession. Any hopes of a dramatic win for South Africa, were dashed as experienced pair Azhar Ali (31 not out) and captain Babar Azam (30) helped steady any nerves.

When the third wicket did fall, the wicket of captain Babar Azam leg before wicket off the bowling of Keshav Maharaj, there was just two runs needed to win. Those two runs were scored by the first innings centurion Fawad Alam, who won the game with a four.

South Africa, after being well beaten in this test will be looking to exact their revenge in the next test. The next test will be on 4th February in Rawalpindi.

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Pakistan vs South Africa first test review

Pakistan ended day three firmly in control in the first test against South Africa, after a very good day with bat and ball.

Hosts Pakistan who had lost eight wickets when day two ended, quickly lost their ninth wicket as Hassan Ali was bowled by Kagiso Rabida, who got his 200th test wicket in the process.

Rabada (44 matches), became the third-fastest to the feat behind legend Alan Donald (42) and Dale Steyn (39).

 

As impressive of a feat that was for the Delhi Captial’s bowler, the tourists were frustrated by a stubborn last-wicket stand of 55 between debutant Nauman Ali (24) and Yasir Shah (38 not out).

Leg-spinner Shah, who does have a Test hundred to his name, scored his runs at more than a run a ball (38 off 37 balls).

Those 55 runs could still prove very crucial as this helped Pakistan helped build up a 158 run lead.

A century for Fawad Alam, who also scored a ton against New Zealand, was crucial for the Asian side.

They were in serious trouble at one stage (27-4). Fifties for Azhar Ali (51) and Faheem Ashraf (64) helped Pakistan complete their batting recovery.

South Africa, after being bowled out for 220 in the first innings, got off to a solid reply in their second.

When opener Dean Elgar fell for 29, the hosts were thinking maybe there was an opening to get through The Proteas batting line-up.

Aiden Markam (74) and Rassie Van Der Dussen (64) put on 127 for the second wicket. When Van Der Dusen was out caught at silly mid-off from the bowling of leg-spin king Yasir Shah, this lead to a mini-collapse as three wickets were lost for 10 runs.

After initially batting so well South Africa, this game has arguably swung back in the favour of the home side. Tomorrow promises to be exciting. 

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New Zealand vs Pakistan 2nd test; tourists well beaten

New Zealand, kept their World Test Championship campaign, with a resounding 2-0 test series win against former world number one side Pakistan. The kiwi’s who were brilliant in the first test, were just as good in the second.

On reflection of the game, some might argue that tourists Pakistan were poor more than The Black Caps, being good. Kane Williamson (238), Henry Nicholls (157) and a maiden ton from all-rounder Daryl Mitchell (102), really put the tourists’ attack to the sword, but to rub salt in the wounds, Pakistan dropped Williamson three times and Mitchell too.

Those errors proved costly. Opener Shaan Masood, capped off a very poor game, with a pair and three dropped catches in the New Zealand innings, which will naturally put pressure on the left-hander come the upcoming South Africa series which starts at the end of the month.

The easy thing to do, would be to carry out the post mortem , straight after the game and have a knee jerk reaction. But, these two defeats for Pakistan have been more damaging, especially with the poor performances with the bat.

Fawad Alam, did make an emotional century in the second innings of the first test, and Faheem Ashraf made 91 in the first innings, but there hasn’t been too much to shout about. Azhar Ali in the first innings of this test made 93, but there’s not been a sizeable contribution from any Pakistan batsmen.

This maybe a tad harsh, especially since Williamson, wouldn’t have gone to make the scores he did, if the Pakistani’s would have taken their chances. Credit, must be given to New Zealand who are lead brilliantly by Kane Williamson, who in this test became just the third person to reach 7,000 test runs for New Zealand.

For Pakistan, it’s evident they have some soul searching to do in preparation for their upcoming series against South Africa. New Zealand on the other hand, they now look forward to a series of limited over and T20 games against arch-rivals Australia.

Opinion, why five batters are better than six

Hello and good afternoon, my name is Ayyaz Malik, sportswriter and sports broadcaster for six years now. Through my blog, I hope you the reader, have been able to digest and feast your self on some very good reading.

Some of the pieces I have written of late have been designed to provoke some thoughts of all sports fans. What I want to talk about today, is an issue in the world of cricket, and offer my thoughts on the debate too.

The issue I am referring to is the issue of, should a team have five batsmen or six? In the modern game, a lot of bowlers are able to bat, as are batsmen are able to bowl.

But what I want to talk about is the team line-up more for test matches. Traditionally, in limited over matches, teams tend to field, five bowlers and five batsmen. In the test format, it differs pending on the team.

Misbah Ul-Haq’s Pakistan team, in my humble opinion, were notorious for fielding six batsmen and four bowlers (three seamers and one spinner). There are two ways to look at this argument.

With having the six batsmen, like that Pakistan team did where Asad Shafiq became one of the best in the world. The 2009 T20 champions, simply were outscoring their opponents, especially at their adopted home of Abu Dhabi.

The flipside of this Pakistani side was that as good as they were with bat and arguably the ball due to the brilliance of Yasir Shah, if a team would play sensible test cricket, four bowlers could get worn out quicker, compared to the five.

I am trying to argue that, in tests most likely a lot of overs will be bowled. To be able to get through the overs, I argue that five bowlers are better to keep a bowling attack fresh.

In this test series, current Pakistan test captain, Mohammed Rizwan has opted for five bowlers.

I feel for test series against New Zealand, where they have players like Williamson at their disposal, one would think there would be a lot of overs bowled. So that’s my opinion cricket fans, what do you think?

New Zealand over come Pakistan in thriller

In what turned out to be a great advertisement for test Cricket, New Zealand over came tourists Pakistan with a thrilling 101 run win in the first test, of their two game test series.

The win, which sees The Kiwis top the test rankings for the first time in their history, was achieved off the back of a brilliant 129 from captain Kane Williamson.

Ross Taylor (70) and Henry Nichols (56) did offer support to their captain, which helped the home side post a mammoth 431 all out.

In reply, Pakistan’s innings was below par as they fell to 239 all out. This total could have been worse, if it wasn’t for captain Mohammed Rizwan (71) and Faheem Ashraf (91).

The Pakistani all-rounder falling agonisingly short of a maiden century. New Zealand were in the ascendancy at this point, and in their 2nd innings posted 180-5.

Fifties from openers Tom Latham (53) and Tom Blundell (64) helps The Black Caps to set a tricky target of 372 for Pakistan to win the first test.

At 37-3 and then 75-4, Pakistan were staring at a humbling defeat. The tourists, though managed to draw up some of their resilience and doggedness of old.

Mohammed Rizwan, one of the top scorers in the first innings, was joined by Fawad Alam who would go on to make an emotional century (104).

The 34-year old Fawad’s brilliant 100 was his first ton after 11 years. The all-rounder has only just returned to the test side after an 11- year absence.

Alam and his captain Rizwan (60) combined in a 160 run fifth wicket partnership to frustrate the hosts and Maybe help secure an unlikely win.

When tall paceman Kyle Jamieson, had Mohammed Rizwan trapped lbw for 60, Pakistan’s resistance crumbled with the last five wickets falling for 31 runs.

An unfortunate end to a brilliant game of test cricket between the two sides. As the cliche goes, there can only be one winner.

Home side New Zealand deserved the win, but new captain Mohammed Rizwan will be encouraged with what he saw in parts of this game.

The second test, will be contested in Christchurch, if it’s anything like the first test we are in for a real treat!

The second test between the two sides starts on 2nd January and potentially ends on 6th January.

New Zealand vs Pakistan test preview

After serving up an entertaining T20 series, New Zealand and Pakistan now go head to head in a two-game test series.

The hosts go into this one, with plenty of talent at their disposal in the form of captain Supreme Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee and Trent Boult.

The supporting cast isn’t too bad either, and on home soil, will be a tough opponent for the visitors Pakistan.

The Black Caps, who valiantly lost in the 2019 World Cup final to England have a very settled test squad and an experience leader in the 30-year old Kane Williamson.

In contrast, tourists Pakistan have a new captain in the form of wicketkeeper batsmen Mohammed Rizwan.

Rizwan, since coming into the team has been excellent. Polished with the gloves, and assured with the bat, the 28-year old does have some captaincy experience.

With the greatest respect to be at a level of Wasim Akram or Imran Khan will take some time, if it’s afforded to him.

Rizwan, will have a very talented bowling line up at his disposal, in the form of star spinner Yasir Shah, left-armed Shaheen Afridi, teenage sensation Naseem Shah and of course the quite brilliant Mohammed Abbas.

The bowling looks to be well stocked, and with the addition of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf also included, that crucial fifth bowler looks to be a master stroke.

Or is it? Shaan Masood, Abid Ali, former captain Azhar Ali, Fawad Alam and Harris Sohail make up the top order.

Bar former captain Ali, this top order although talented is arguably inexperienced. This could play into the Kiwi’s hands.

So, with that in mind, it’s crucial for Pakistan’s bowlers to try help Pakistan’s potentially weak batting line-up.

Will this be the case? We will have to wait to see, the first test starts on Boxing Day with the conclusion of the test series on 2nd January.

India is that you?

After World Cup wins in 2007 (World T20) and in 2011 (50 over one day international tournament and a 2013 victory in the Champions Trophy, India towards the latter years of the start of the decade, and the early years of the last decade, established themselves as a cricketing world super power.

The success of the India team, wasn’t just restricted to the limited overs format. The Indian’s even managed to achieve the lofty status of being World number one in tests too.

The sky was the limit, what could go wrong? Well a lot actually. A disappointing semi-final defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final and a defeat at the same stage in the World T20 semi-final to now two-time winners West Indies.

To rub further salt in the wounds, a chastening defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan in the 2017 Champions trophy was just another example of some disappointments in Indian cricket.

Being a British born Pakistani, some might think I am revelling, seeing Kohli’s men in their current plight.

As a fan, yeah a little bit (I can’t lie, being a Pakistan fan and all). But the cricket purist side of me, says it’s tough to watch.

That kind of score is reminiscent of my school cricket team. It’s difficult to watch seeing a talented side like India being skittled out for 42, which broke a 48 year-old record.

Surely India haven’t sunk that low, but to see the former world champions be humbled like that (eventually going on to lose the match by eight wickets) was quite something.

The next test between the sides will be resuming on the night of the 25th December, for India that can’t come quick enough.

Unfortunately for them, they will have to manage in this game and for the rest of the series without their captain supreme, Virat Kohli.

The RCB captain, will be returning home for the birth of his first child. India will be hoping for a change of fortunes this time out.

This tour for India will make a man out of one their batsmen and bowlers. Let’s see who’s man enough then?