Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Wawrinka, who will bag the ATP final?

After around 60 tournaments in about 30 countries, the finest eight of the tennis world battle out the Barclays ATP Tour finals in London. The top eight are divided into two groups – Stan Smith and Ilie Nastase. The group names instead of Group A and Group B are added as a way of recognising and paying tribute to players who have done exceptionally well in the past. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Tomáš Berdych and Kei Nishikori are put in Group Stan while Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are put in Group Ilie. World number one, Djokovic comes to London with a bag full of wins. With victories in Paris, Beijing, Shanghai and New York, Djokovic came as a favourite. But he finds ...

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Misbahul Haq is Pakistan’s greatest asset in this age of slings and arrow

Two thousand and six. That’s when Pakistan were last ranked second in Test cricket. Back then, in the English summer, under the calm command of Bob Woolmer and Inzamamul Haq, Pakistan cricket was powered by skill and a degree of missionary zeal – blessed, you might say, by Bob and God. But the bank of blessings emptied soon after Pakistan got to England that year. Next, a forfeited Test, Woolmer’s death, terrorist attacks, and spot-fixing. An unprecedented four-year spell of curses. Four years with little blessing. By 2010, Pakistani cricket was more dead than alive. It would do well to exist. In 2015, Pakistan cricket ...

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Dear Faisal Hayat, it’s time to redeem your and Pakistan’s reputation

It all started with the Punjab elections in April, where the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) split into two factions, and until recently, both sides were indecisive about who was meant to lead the nation’s football federation. But last month, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) finally took a decision and ruled in favour of Faisal Saleh Hayat’s faction in their executive committee meeting. Locally, things are far from cleared as the controversy over June’s elections rambles on, but the onus is back on Hayat and his associates. For months they have been boasting about their achievements on and off the field over the last ...

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Shoaib Malik’s Test retirement is anything but ‘graceful’

Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who was recently recalled to the Test side after a gap of more than five years, has announced his retirement from the longest format of the game following the conclusion of his comeback series against England in the UAE. Malik, who was not part of the team as a first choice, was drafted at the side as a replacement for the injured batsman, Azhar Ali. He was included in the playing 11 for the first game and with a bit of luck, went onto score a double century. His total ended up being 245 – a career best – and he also contributed with ...

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Dear Shahryar Khan, let go of India and hold on to Misbahul Haq and Yasir Shah

Dear Mr Shahryar Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), I write to you today in the wake of Pakistan’s monumental triumph over England in the recently concluded Test series in the UAE, not as a critic, but as an enthusiastic sports writer who happens to be an ardent cricket follower and more importantly, a passionate Pakistan cricket fan. There is no secret to the age-old Pakistani adage, “cricket runs in our blood”; a phrase which you can very much relate to having served as PCB Chairman in the past and being the author of Cricket: A Bridge of Peace. Cricket has long served as ...

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Five game changers of the India versus South Africa Test series

A historic series win and players oozing with confidence marked the interesting battle between two heavyweights, South Africa versus India. The visitors, South Africa, were brilliant in all departments. This was evident through their victory in both the formats. They managed to produce some brilliant moments over the past 25 days and key players from both teams played pivotal roles in providing spectacular performances for their respective teams. During the ODI series decider at Wankhede, the Proteas put up a one-sided show after Indian bowlers literally threw runs their way. It’s India’s second straight bilateral defeat, after losing to Bangladesh ...

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Modi and Nawaz Sharif need to stop undermining cricket for political gains

During the Sri Lankan tour to Pakistan in 2009, the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore was fired upon by militants, injuring six Sri Lankan players and killing six policemen and two civilians. It was a sad day for Pakistan cricket as no country was willing to send its team to Pakistan after this unfortunate incident.  In a scathing attack on the serious security lapse, the then Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said, “Such incidents could make Pakistan a failed state, and that one was not sure as to who was in control of the country.” We, in India, always ...

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Dear PCB Chairman, how about focusing more on Pakistan and less on India

Dear Sir, I am writing to you to request your attention towards an issue that affects me in the capacity of a regular cricket spectator and a fan. As you know, Pakistan has been deprived of competitive international cricket for over six years now, the wait for us cricket fans to see international action in our grounds is becoming increasingly painful. Even though your efforts did result in making the Zimbabwean cricket team tour Pakistan for a couple of T20s and three ODIs earlier this year, consistency needs to be ensured and the success of that tour needs to be promoted much more ...

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Mohammad Amir deserves half the salary and no chance at captaincy

Mohammad Amir, the young cricketer who was banned for a spot fixing scandal, still managed to garner a lot of sympathy from Pakistanis, be it cricketing legends or experts and because of this, he has been allowed to play cricket once again. However, if the cricket fraternity thought Amir would be welcomed back with open arms, they were wrong. Yes, Amir is still young, has immense talent, bearing in mind his recent performances in the realm of domestic cricket, where he claimed more than 30 wickets in six matches during the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, yet, people, in specific his team mates, will not be as forgiving. This ...

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If Pakistan boycotts the World Twenty20, it is only Pakistan that will suffer

We live in a time where our very existence is offensive to some people. It is hard to imagine how much cricket has been used as a weapon for political folly. It is absolutely outrageous that our team is in constant limbo, adjusting to whatever catastrophe will hit them next. Perhaps we are sensitive people, maybe our history has taught us the art of playing victim, but there is a general feeling of resentment underlying Pakistan cricket, a sense that we are treated like second-class citizens, a complete double standard when it comes to anything Pakistan related and the ...

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