Stories about shoaib akhtar

Value their lives, honour their deaths, Pakistan

The day after the legendary Mehdi Hassan died, I was at a restaurant where live ghazals were being sung by a budding singer. He was entertaining requests and invariably all the requests being made were of the ghazals sung by Mehdi Hassan. It was as if the people could not think of a better singer. I sat pleased for a moment that the star has truly been recognised. But then it ached deep down, wasn’t it too late? For weeks Mehdi Hassan had laid bedridden and yet, there had been no calls for prayer, no fans thronging his premises and no government officials ensuring ...

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The history of the ‘doosra’: Spinning cricket the other way

Two decades ago, when Pakistan was playing Australia in the deserts of Sharjah, the young spin wizard, Saqlain Mushtaq, broke the traditions and started spinning the ball the other way from the conventional off-spin to deceive the batsmen. The wicket-keeper, Moin Khan, would often shout from behind the stumps, “Saqi Bhai, doosra abhi karna hai.” (Bowl the other one now, Saqi Bhai) Tony Grieg picked it up from a stump microphone and eventually likened the word to the delivery after confirming it with Saqlain in a post-match interview. Thus, the term became a part of cricketing culture. Over the years, the same unconventional delivery ...

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Can Saeed Ajmal break the ‘curse’ of being the best bowler of Pakistan?

Over the course of several decades, one constant factor in Pakistan cricket has been the quality bowlers it has produced. From masters of reverse swing to the fastest bowler in the world, and from subtle drifters to the inventor and master of the ‘doosra’, Pakistani cricketers have added magic to the art of bowling. Cricket would be a much different game without the bowling contributions of our players. It would have been more of a batsman’s game with much less flair. But at the same time, to be the best bowler of Pakistan is a truly cursed position. Our masters ...

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You have to risk it to get the biscuit, Team Green!

Another Test match, another humiliating batting performance and another defeat. Forgive me if I am not surprised. It would be a lie if I said that I am at a loss of words when in reality I sort of saw it coming. The only benefit I’ve gained from such disappointing batting is that my vocabulary has improved significantly because now I have to explain just how bad their performance was. This embarrassing show of batting from the Pakistani team is nothing new but, unfortunately, just like our beloved Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), our cricket team has not shown any inclination in identifying ...

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PCB selection committee: Out with the old, in with the ‘not-so-old’

Most people will agree that Pakistan cricket has produced countless greats over the past 60 years; from Hanif Muhammad to Shahid Afridi (or Younis Khan, for those who will argue on Afridi), our history is filled with top class players. Most people will also agree that cricket has changed a lot over the past 15 years, so much so that one fails to understand how something can change so rapidly. The sport has moved away from the dull and boring Test matches, which would end after five days (sometimes, without any definite win), and has become more exciting with the advent of One Day International ...

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What’s common between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abdus Salam and Abdul Khaliq?

They were never appreciated in Pakistan. We are a profoundly aptitudinal nation and have produced the finest people in all fields of life, whether it is sports, music or science. Take cricket for example. We have seen the likes of Hanif Muhammad, Zaheer Abbas, Wasim Akram, Sarfraz Nawaz, Javed Miandad, Imran Khan, Shoaib Akhtar, Inzamamul Haq and many other legends. Moving on to hockey, we have had some of the best players in the world and we are the only nation that won the hockey World Cup title four times. Out of the 10 medals Pakistan has won in the Olympics, we won three in hockey. Sohail Abbas ...

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Five changes Pakistan cricket needs to make to save itself

On April 1, 2014, Pakistan produced one of the most embarrassing performances in recent memory, breaking like glass under pressure. At the beginning of the 17th over, the West Indies seemed like they were out of the game, having scored only 107 runs. Then, courtesy of Sammy and Bravo, came an assault which made the Red Wedding in R R Martin’s A Storm of Shadows seem like a friendly tea party. 45 runs came off the last three overs in this knockout game. It was an assault which reminded me of Ajay Jadeja’s battering of Waqar Younis in the 1996 World Cup quarterfinal, where the Pakistani ...

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Asia Cup 2014: 12 years of Pakistan and India mêlée, who will win tomorrow?

They don’t come bigger than this. No. When you talk of sporting rivalries what comes to mind? Australia Wallabies and New Zealand All Blacks in rugby? Ashes? Brazil and Argentina in football? None of them compare to this one. The India-Pakistan cricket rivalry puts them all in the shade with its background of four wars, numerous skirmishes, disputed borders and nuclear weapons. From 1951 when the first India-Pakistan Test match took place to their last match in the ICC Champions trophy, every series, every tournament, every moment of every match has been a saga of raw emotion and unbridled passion. The India-Pakistan match on Sunday, ...

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Misbahul Haq, only second to Imran Khan and Javed Miandad as captain!

On January 14, 2013, I wrote a piece stressing the fact that Misbah is very much a necessity for Pakistan’s One Day International (ODI) cricket. I argued that Misbah has been far better than his colleagues and should not be dropped, predicting that he will fine tune his game-plan and will improve as a batsman. Well, as it turns out, Misbah has indeed stepped up his game since then. Misbahul Haq of Pakistan bats during the ODI match between South Africa and Pakistan at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on March 21, 2013 in Durban, South Africa. Photo: AFP Almost a year ...

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So what if Gul won the T20i Performance of the Year Award, we still need to bring back our yorkers!

There was a time when yorkers used to be the favoured delivery of every seam bowler, especially in those matches that had limited overs. This was usually played when the opposing team was looking for quick runs, towards the end of an inning. If played perfectly, the yorker is a delivery that is almost impossible to hit. Even the most accomplished of batsmen face difficulty trying to get a yorker bowled at a fast pace. Pakistan had bowlers who could deliver yorkers almost at will. Sultans of Swing (Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis) had mastered the art in the ‘90s and, then we had ...

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