World Cup fever: Who will make the cut?

Pakistan’s squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup will be announced this week, April 18th. Some of the players that will manage to make a place for themselves in the team are fairly obvious. Sarfraz Ahmed will of course lead the side as captain while also fulfilling his duties behind the stumps. In the bowling department, pacers Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali will help lead the charge while Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim will spearhead the spin attack. The batting line-up will undoubtedly include regulars Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeeez.   However, which players will be able to ...

Read Full Post

Will Man City retain the title this season or will they succumb to Liverpool?

“Aguero! I swear you will never see anything like this ever again.” This line by the legendary English commentator Martin Tyler immortalised Manchester City’s last gasp win against Queens Park Rangers in May 2012. A win which led to the club lifting the coveted English Premier League trophy for the first time in over four decades. It seems like Tyler was right when he said we would never see anything like this ever again.  Or are we going to see another breath-taking final day performance from Pep Guardiola’s men come this May? Vincent Kompany of Manchester City lifts the ...

Read Full Post

India’s ‘Operation Isolation’ and the soft power of sports

“Our message is stronger than ever. Please stop the fighting. Please stop the killing. Please drop your guns.” Juan Antonio Samaranch, President International Olympic Committee speaking at the Winter Olympics, 1994. The sports arena has often been used in modern-day diplomacy to advocate for peace, but it has also been used to aggravate existing conflict. George Orwell wrote in The Sporting Spirit (1945) that sports is “war, minus the shooting” and has the potential to bring out the worst characteristics of nationalism. How that is controlled, or even amplified, is in the hands of those who hold the political controls.  In the days following ...

Read Full Post

With Zidane back on the sidelines, will Real Madrid make the most of the summer transfer window?

For much of the 2018-19 season, Real Madrid’s campaign has been driven by pessimism and trepidation. From mediocre performances on the field to a lack of purpose off it, the Los Blancos found themselves entrenched in a diatribe with a swathe of negative opinions from fans and critics alike.  But the return of the clubs’s favourite son Zinedine Zidane after his dignified exit nine months ago has cut through all the noise, at least for the time being. Zizou’s work is cut out for him as the rebuilding job at a club like Real Madrid, with extremely high expectations, won’t be ...

Read Full Post

ManUtd vs Barcelona: The Red Devils may be making a comeback, but will history repeat itself?

“Can Manchester United score? They always score. And Solskjaer has won it. Manchester United have reached the promised land.” Even if you are not a Manchester United fan, you would know that these lines are reminiscent of the 1999 Champions League final in Camp Nou, Barcelona. United made a historic comeback in the injury time and beat Bayern Munich 2-1, thanks to Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunner Solskjaer, who netted the goals. Who would have thought that the 26-year-old Solskjaer, who netted the winner for the Red Devils, would be managing Manchester United after 20 years and taking his side to ...

Read Full Post

#PakVsAus: In search of ‘bench strength’, Pakistan lost their self-belief

The purpose of the series between Pakistan and Australia was to start off with a clean slate, as both teams were finding their feet in the ODI format. Australia was coming off from a 3-2 victory over India, while Pakistan was coming after a 3-2 defeat by South Africa. However, the twist came in when Inzamamul Haq announced the squad for this series. All the main players, including Captain Sarfraz Ahmed, were rested for this series to try out the strength of the bench. The result of this series has already come out, with Australia leading the series 4-0 and Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

To mankad or not: Blaming Ashwin but not Buttler?

The latest edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the greatest cricket carnival on the planet, is here. And along with it comes the usual spectacle of outstanding performances, top class entertainment, and of course, a good dose of controversy. In fact, controversy didn’t take long to surface this year when the otherwise gentlemanly Ravichandran Ashwin ‘mankaded’ Jos Buttler, the star English batsman. For the uninitiated, the term ‘mankaded’ is used when the batsman at the non-striker’s end leaves the crease before the ball is bowled in order to get a head start and is run out by the bowler ...

Read Full Post

Why did Karachi Kings retain Usama Mir if they were going to waste his talent?

In 2015, Sialkot’s Usama Mir shot to fame after an impressive T20 tournament, where he regularly took wickets for his team, enabling them to win the Haier T20 Cup. Mir had played some T20 matches a few years prior to this, but 2015 was his real breakout season. He was then rewarded with a place in Pakistan’s premier T20 tournament, the Pakistan Super League (PSL), with the Karachi Kings. In the 2016 season, Kings played their first game, and made a mistake of not having a specialist spinner on their side. They rectified this mistake the next game by selecting Mir. Mir ...

Read Full Post

The PSL4 final was just a formality – the trophy already had Gladiators engraved on it

The rest of us had to wait till March 17th to know who will ultimately be crowned the champions of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2019, but in the Quetta camp, it seems victory was already foreseen. Soon after qualifying for the final, Dwayne John Bravo was already humming to: “Quetta Quetta, we the Gladiators!” “Quetta Quetta, we the Gladiators!” Best Batsman of the tournament & player of the #HBLPSL 2019, @ShaneRWatson33.Winning captain, @SarfarazA_54.Man of the Final, Muhammad Hasnain.Champion Gladiators 💜#KhelDeewanoKa pic.twitter.com/0fy4vLgL6e — PakistanSuperLeague (@thePSLt20) March 17, 2019 I must confess, I sang along those lines too even though I felt guilty because I was ...

Read Full Post

Gladiators vs Zalmi: When the best of the best come face to face

Quetta Gladiators versus Peshawar Zalmi: the two finalists confirmed after a month of enthralling cricket. All the ebbs and flows of the tournament bow down to one game, the final, which is to be played on Sunday, March 17th. Gladiators have previously been part of two finals, yet have come out short on both occasions. I believe the reason is their key players leaving them once the tournament was shifted to Pakistan. This year they will not be facing such a problem, having secured the services of T20 megastar Shane Watson. Watson was part of the previous Pakistan Super League ...

Read Full Post