Money, fame, respect and glory – it was all there for Sharjeel Khan, but it still wasn’t enough

It’s the last ball of the 22nd over. Pakistan is chasing a mammoth total against Australia in the fifth ODI at Adelaide. Sharjeel Khan is standing strong and handsome at 70 with Pakistan’s hopes of winning resting on his shoulders. Adam Zampa throws a tossed up delivery outside the off stump, Khan has a good look at it before he powerfully swings his bat across the line and sends the ball sailing over the wide-on boundary for a six. Sharjeel Khan pulls, Australia v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Adelaide, January 26, 2017. Photo: AFP The ball I just recalled could ...

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Is it fair for host countries to prepare pitches favouring their conditions?

The 22-yard-long cricket pitch has been of pivotal importance since the inception of the game. The nature of the strip has a bearing on the outcome of a cricket match and will continue to do so in the forthcoming years. In the shorter formats of the game, particularly since the advent of T20 cricket, the general trend has been to prepare flatter pitches in order to neutralise the result of the toss. But the pitch still plays an extremely crucial role in cricket’s purest format, Test cricket, which is why surfaces used all over the world tend to vary according ...

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Liverpool got lucky in the UEFA Champions League group draw, but will luck be enough to take them to the knock-out stages?

For a huge football fanatic like me, not giving two hoots about the UEFA Champions League (UCL) is a bit unheard of. But that is precisely what yours truly has been doing for the past several years. People who know me would find this really hard to believe, but there is a very simple reason for this seemingly bizarre behaviour of mine. You see, I might seem like I am football mad, but the truth is I am only crazy about the club I support, Liverpool (LFC). Now anyone who has a passing interest in football would be aware of our European struggles ...

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The realisation of a dream – cricket comes home, this time to stay hopefully

There was definitely some fiery magic in the air before Elton Chigumbura, accompanied by his troops, marched on to the newly painted and redecorated Gaddafi Stadium. You could sense that something remarkably huge was about to happen, but the sceptic within you, having grown eight-years-old now, denied you a good night’s sleep. Three words, cricket comes home, evoked emotions that could not be described, only felt. After years of yearning, Pakistan’s grand welcome of the Zimbabwean team was not the biggest breakthrough, but it was historic and a breakthrough nonetheless. Pakistan beat Zimbabwe in the second series of T-20. ...

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Despite his striking numbers, Wayne Rooney has never truly helped England achieve anything noteworthy

The English Premier League is arguably the best football league in the world. But considering their wretched record in international tournaments, it seems that England’s national side never got the memo. Every single stakeholder from England’s football governing body ‘The Football Association’ all the way down to the kit man could potentially be blamed for this malaise. One particular person, for the best part of the last decade, has had to bear the major brunt of it. And by the looks of it, this particular individual has had enough. Wayne Mark Rooney announced his retirement last week. By doing so, he ...

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With the likes of Faf Du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Darren Sammy in the World XI squad, does Pakistan stand a chance?

On August 21, 2017, Najam Sethi may have uttered one of the most important sentences for Pakistani cricket fans: “I will announce the names of confirmed players in 72 hours.”  For avid cricket followers in Pakistan, the timer had been set right away. With each hour ticking away, the curiosity to find out the list of players was growing exponentially. It seemed as if Sethi had a finger on the pulse of the nation and hence kept us waiting till the last moment. After a long anxious wait, Sethi lived up to his promise and finally announced the World XI squad. Out of complete ecstasy and ...

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The Hampshire vs Derbyshire match proved that once Shahid Afridi cuts loose, he is a difficult man to stop

A heavy downpour, accompanied by slightly scary but fierce lightning, signalled that it was better to stay indoors for the rest of the night. I was flipping through the TV channels when I suddenly had to stop because I came across an unusual sight. I happened to come across England’s T20 Blast, where the 37-year-old Shahid Afridi was opening the innings for his side, Hampshire, against Derbyshire. Despite having watched Afridi play as an opener countless times, I was slightly taken back. Although I have some great memories of Afridi opening the innings for Pakistan, I do have my fair share of regular ...

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Barcelona is now a former shadow of its glorious past

For a significantly large part of the past decade, FC Barcelona have been the best team in the world without a shadow of doubt. However, from the start of this summer, things have been anything but smooth for the Catalans.  Suffering defeats in consecutive El Clasicos at the hands of arch rivals Real Madrid at the beginning of a fresh season highlighted what might be a tough season ahead. A transfer window to forget It has been an atrocious transfer window for Barcelona so far and it’s hard to see what they can achieve in the last few days before the window closes. Neymar’s world record ...

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Given PSL’s success, Najam Sethi is our only hope to bring cricket back to Pakistan

While Ali Sethi managed to save the first episode of Coke Studio season 10 with a beautiful rendition of Ranjhish Hi Sahi, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) recalled his father, Najam Sethi, as PCB’s new chairman. It was clearly a great week for the Sethi family.  But this is not the first time Sethi has found himself at the helm of PCB’s affairs. He has competed with Zaka Ashraf for the position in the past as well, which definitely caused a lot of embarrassment for Pakistan on the international front. Sethi generally garners animosity from the masses because of his affiliation with the Sharifs and the absence of ...

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Is Trent Alexander-Arnold the new Steven Gerrard for Liverpool?

Ask football fans to identity their favourite player and majority of the answers would include names who have graduated from the club’s academy to become a mainstay in their team’s first 11. In other words, the homegrown star, the local lad who made it big in a sport that has gone global. He’s someone who fans can truly claim as their own in today’s day and age, where football allegiance can change at the drop of a hat (or with the promise of a few extra millions). Over the years, Manchester United might have had dozens of superstars play for them, ...

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