Pakistan

Owen-backed Pakistan Football League an ‘unsanctioned, illegal’ event, says PFF NC

Owen-backed Pakistan Football League an ‘unsanctioned, illegal’ event, says PFF NC

25/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31783872

KARACHI: With the franchise-based Pakistan Football League, backed by former England star Michael Owen, announcing a series of its launch events next month, the Pakistan Football Federation Normalisation Committee has finally acted, terming it as an “illegal” event.

The Haroon Malik-led PFF NC, appointed by global football body FIFA, said in a statement on Friday that the PFL was not sanctioned by it.

“The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has categorically stated that the franchise-based Pakistan Football League (PFL), which is claimed to be held in the next month, is an illegal event as per its statutes and has not sanctioned by the federation,” the PFF NC stated.

“The PFF is the sole governing body for football in Pakistan duly affiliated with FIFA and the AFC. The PFF’s authority is reinforced by the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) vide its letter dated September 9, 2014 according to which the government only engages with national sports federations recognised by their respective international bodies.

“Participating in, organizing, or supporting any football event not sanctioned by the PFF is a clear violation of Article 82 of the PFF constitution and could lead to disciplinary measures. Furthermore, the PFF emphasises that it encourages any project aimed at genuine football development in the country, provided it is duly approved by the federation.”

The PFF NC’s statement came a day after British newspaper The Sun revealed that Owen will be joined by his former Liverpool and England strike partner Emile Heskey during the launch events in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi next month.

The PFL has announced Nov 1 as the starting date for its competition. Its claims of partnerships were denied by the English Premier League and its clubs.

The PFL is pointing to last year’s verdict by the European Court of Justice on the breakaway European Super League, which ruled against the principle of the governing bodies restricting a new league, to go ahead with its plans.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835486/owen-backed-pakistan-football-league-an-unsanctioned-illegal-event-says-pff-nc
Pakistan eager to face full-strength England in second T20I

Pakistan eager to face full-strength England in second T20I

25/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31783871

BIRMINGHAM: With their first of the four Twenty20 Internationals against England washed out on Wednesday, Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman is looking on the bright side.

“A three-match series is likely to end up with a result in favour of one side, there’s no chance of a 2-2 draw,” he quipped during the press conference on the eve of the second match, which is set to be held at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Just like Fakhar’s perspective, the conditions, unlike how they were at Headingley in Leeds three days ago, will be bright, perfect for cricket, with weather forecast suggesting negligible chances of rain.

The flamboyant southpaw’s positive outlook reflected the energy in the Pakistan camp, the team having seemingly wrapped their head around the modern style of playing the T20 format after shows of relentless aggression in the recent series against Ireland.

Pakistan’s squad for the T20 World Cup, which starts next week in the United States and the West Indies, was also confirmed on Friday, putting Babar Azam and co. in complete preparation mode for the showpiece.

Fakhar said there couldn’t have been better opponents than title-holders England to warm-up for the big challenge.

“They are one of the best teams in the world,” he noted. “We’re really excited for the game.

“Playing against England in their home conditions, I think this is the best preparation for us going to the World Cup, playing against a tough team.”

Pakistan’s run-in to the T20 World Cup started with five games against New Zealand at home and Ireland away. While they drew 2-2 with a depleted BlackCaps side, the 2022 finalists beat Ireland 2-1.

England’s quality, in comparison to both New Zealand and Ireland, is clearly higher, and that they are set to field their first-choice team is going it make it highly competitive for Pakistan.

The hosts even have express pacer Jofra Archer back in their ranks.

“We are playing with a full-strength team of England which is a very good thing for us,” Fakhar remarked. “And while having Jofra in the team will help England, it will also help us as we will get to play a world-class bowler.”

In both their wins against Ireland, Pakistan chased down targets maintaining strike-rates of more than 10 runs per over, which was uncharacteristic of a side known to take games deep.

Pakistan’s style of wrapping up the games two to three overs earlier boosted the side’s confidence, which Fakhar said they wanted to carry into the England matches and then the World Cup.

“Look, if you see strength-wise, our team is very good and strong,” he observed. “And our team has a mindset that we have to play attacking cricket from now on. So, in my opinion, we have a lot of chances.

“We will carry this momentum in this series as well. If you are in form, you got to prolong it.”

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835489/pakistan-eager-to-face-full-strength-england-in-second-t20i
PCB announces 15-man squad for T20 World Cup

PCB announces 15-man squad for T20 World Cup

25/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31783256

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday announced the 15-member Pakistan squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and Caribbean.

According to a press release issued by the PCB, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim — who took back their retirements earlier this year — are part of the squad led by captain Babar Azam.

The side was confirmed today following a two-hour selection committee meeting, which was attended by Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Babar, Bilal Afzal, Gary Kirsten, Mohammad Yousuf and Wahab Riaz, the press release said.

It said that Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Saim Ayub and Usman Khan will make their T20 World Cup debut, while Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim last appeared in the 2016 and 2021 tournaments, respectively.

The other eight players participated in the 2022 event in Australia, it said.

“This is an extremely talented and balanced side that has a mixture of youth and experience. These players have been playing together for some time and look well-prepared and settled for next month’s event,” the statement said.

It added that Haris Rauf — who was ruled out of the PSL after dislocating his shoulder — was fully fit and bowling well in the nets.

“It would have been nice if he had gotten an outing at Headingley, but we remain confident that he will continue to maintain an upward trajectory in the upcoming matches, as he will have an important role to play along with other strike bowlers in the T20 World Cup,” the statement said.

Pakistan are currently in England for a four-match T20 series as part of their preparation for the World Cup.

Pakistan Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan

Pakistan’s schedule of matches:

June 6 — vs USA, Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium, Dallas

June 9 — vs India, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

June 11 — vs Canada, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

June 16 — vs Ireland, Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida

Pakistan has been seeded A2 in the first round and if they qualify for the second round, then their Super Eight matches will be as follows:

June 19 — vs D1, Antigua

June 21 — vs C2, Barbados

June 23 — vs B1, Barbados



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835439/pcb-announces-15-man-squad-for-t20-world-cup
PCB announces 15-man squad for T20 World Cup

PCB announces 15-man squad for T20 World Cup

25/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31783121

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday announced the 15-member Pakistan squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in the USA and Caribbean.

According to a press release issued by the PCB, Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim — who took back their retirements earlier this year — are part of the squad led by captain Babar Azam.

The side was confirmed today following a two-hour selection committee meeting, which was attended by Abdul Razzaq, Asad Shafiq, Babar, Bilal Afzal, Gary Kirsten, Mohammad Yousuf and Wahab Riaz, the press release said.

It said that Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Saim Ayub and Usman Khan will make their T20 World Cup debut, while Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim last appeared in the 2016 and 2021 tournaments, respectively.

The other eight players participated in the 2022 event in Australia, it said.

“This is an extremely talented and balanced side that has a mixture of youth and experience. These players have been playing together for some time and look well-prepared and settled for next month’s event,” the statement said.

It added that Haris Rauf — who was ruled out of the PSL after dislocating his shoulder — was fully fit and bowling well in the nets.

“It would have been nice if he had gotten an outing at Headingley, but we remain confident that he will continue to maintain an upward trajectory in the upcoming matches, as he will have an important role to play along with other strike bowlers in the T20 World Cup,” the statement said.

Pakistan are currently in England for a four-match T20 series as part of their preparation for the World Cup.

Pakistan Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Abrar Ahmed, Azam Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan

Pakistan’s schedule of matches:

6 June — vs USA, Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium, Dallas

9 June — vs India, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

11 June — vs Canada, Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York

16 June — vs Ireland, Central Broward Park & Broward County Stadium, Lauderhill, Florida

Pakistan has been seeded A2 in the first round and if they qualify for the second round, then their Super Eight matches will be as follows:

19 June — vs D1, Antigua

21 June — vs C2, Barbados

23 June — vs B1, Barbados



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835439/pcb-announces-15-man-squad-for-t20-world-cup
Ponting says he was approached to be India head coach

Ponting says he was approached to be India head coach

24/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31782565

NEW DELHI: Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has revealed he was approached to be India’s next head cricket coach, but said the demands of the high-profile job meant he was unlikely to take it up.

Ponting, 49, is head coach of Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League and has television commitments in Australia.

He is also the head of strategy at Hobart Hurricanes for Australia’s Big Bash League and head coach of Washington Freedom in the US Major League Cricket tournament.

“I’ve seen a lot of reports about it,” Ponting was quoted as saying Thursday by the International Cricket Council website. “There were a few little one-on-one conversations during the IPL, just to get a level of interest from me as to whether I would do it,” he added.

“Everyone knows if you take a job working with the Indian team you can’t be involved in an IPL team, so it would take that out of it.”

Ponting said being a national coach would mean devoting up to 11 months of the year to the job.

“As much as I’d like to do it, it just doesn’t fit into my lifestyle right now and the things that I really enjoy doing,” he added.

The India coach job, currently held by Rahul Dravid, falls vacant after the T20 World Cup in June with the Board of Control for Cricket in India seeking a replacement until the next 50-over World Cup in 2027.

India have not won a global title since the 2013 Champions Trophy under their last foreign coach, Duncan Fletcher of Zimbabwe.

Local media reports said former India batsman Gautam Gambhir, former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming and Australian Justin Langer had also been sounded out for the job.

Ponting said his son was excited when he told him about the prospect of becoming the India coach.

“I had a whisper to my son about it, and I said, ‘Dad’s been offered the Indian coaching job’ and he said,’‘Just take it dad, we would love to move over there for the next couple of years’”, Ponting said.

“That’s how much they love being over there and the culture of cricket in India, but right now it probably doesn’t exactly fit into my lifestyle.”

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835296/ponting-says-he-was-approached-to-be-india-head-coach
After wash-out, Buttler expresses desire to defend T20 World Cup crown

After wash-out, Buttler expresses desire to defend T20 World Cup crown

24/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31782564

LEEDS: England’s first warm-up, against Pakistan, ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup was washed out after rain poured over Headingley on Wednesday, but captain Jos Buttler eagerly looked forward to defending the title for the side.

“I’ve had a really good couple of days’ prep and everyone was really excited for the series,” Buttler said on Skysports as he expressed his disappointment over the washing out of the first of the four-match T20I series.

Buttler made England the T20 world champions when they beat Babar Azam’s men in the 2022 edition of the showpiece in Melbourne. Under the wicket-keeper’s leadership, however, they experienced a disastrous league stage exit from the 50-over World Cup in India last year.

In the Caribbean, which will co-host the T20 World Cup along with the United States, England won their first title in 2010, and Buttler is excited about the opportunity to add another whte-ball trophy to the team’s honours board.

“Time moves on and there’s a really exciting opportunity now,” he said. “Tournament cricket requires playing crunch moments really well and coming back from adversity.

“You’ve got to read the game, play well, and be able to adapt.”

Buttler and most of his England T20 team-mates joined the camp after almost a full season of the ongoing Indian Premier League, which witnessed tons of runs being scored on placid pitches.

The skipper, however, believed that the nature of the competition in the West Indies would be completely different.

“The conditions out there can be a little bit slow, and spin will play a big part,” he noted. “Extra pace will be a factor, and the wind is a big factor on those island grounds.

“The very early starts in the World Cup will be something to adapt to.”

Buttler suggested England’s experience of winning the 2010 edition in the West Indies would come handy in next month’s extravaganza. He talked about few aspects of how, then lead by Paul Collingwood, the side used the conditions.

“We just used the wind,” noted Buttler. “We didn’t bowl yorkers, just slow ball bouncers into the pitch and got them to hit into the wind. We were the only team that adjusted quickly.” This adaptability, he believed, was crucial for England’s prospects.

“England play a huge amount of T20 cricket in the Caribbean, which sets us up nicely,” added Buttler.

The England captain avoided making detailed predictions about what the Caribbean will put on offer.

“We’ve got analysts building packages to ensure there are no surprises, but every day is different,” he observed. “You can’t go in with too many preconceived ideas.

“It’s a great honor to be defending champions, but we want to go and win it again.”

England open their T20 World Cup campaign on June 4 against Scotland. Their preparations, although, will start with the second T20I against Pakistan on Sunday in Birmingham.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835301/after-wash-out-buttler-expresses-desire-to-defend-t20-world-cup-crown
Nadal to play Zverev at farewell French Open as Swiatek, Osaka eye clash

Nadal to play Zverev at farewell French Open as Swiatek, Osaka eye clash

24/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31782563

PARIS: Rafa Nadal was handed a tough start to what is expected to be his farewell to the French Open as the record 14-times champion was drawn against fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the first round while women’s champion Iga Swiatek and fellow four-time major winner Naomi Osaka are on a second-round collision course.

Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a 25th Grand Slam crown against local hope Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his opener.

Unseeded Nadal, who missed his favourite Grand Slam tournament due to injury last year, has plummeted down the rankings during an extended spell on the sidelines and has said he expects to retire after this season.

The pairing drew an audible gasp in the room and the two will meet for the first time since their 2022 semi-final clash at Roland Garros which Nadal won after Zverev suffered an injury and retired.

“It’s coming a little early in the tournament surely,” former world number one and tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said about the Nadal-Zverev pairing. “This is good news for neither of them.”

Nadal, the winner of 22 Grand Slam titles, will turn 38 next week and this season will be his last on tour.

He holds a 7-3 winning head-to-head record against Germany’s Zverev with five of those victories coming on clay.

Zverev, 27, arrives in Paris on the back of lifting the Rome Open title last weekend.

As well as 14 titles in Paris, Nadal can boast a record of 112 wins and just three losses, two of which came against Djokovic who will be chasing a fourth French Open title.

“I imagine that looking at the draw, Nadal is not going to be delighted,” said Mauresmo. “Zverev is in very good shape, obviously it looks very complicated. But Nadal is a warrior, an extraordinary competitor. It’s Rafa so anything is possible.”

Should Nadal win the match, he could face 2021 US Open winner Daniil Medvedev in the quarter finals.

There were cheers from the audience when Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka was drawn against fellow three-time Grand Slam winner, Briton Andy Murray.

“It’s a superb matchup,” Mauresmo, who used to coach Murray, said about the match with Wawrinka.

The 37-year-old Murray, the 2016 runner-up, is also competing at the tournament for the final time.

He and Wawrinka, 39, have met 22 times in a two-decade rivalry with Murray boasting a 13-9 edge.

Three of those clashes have come at Roland Garros with Murray winning in the semi-finals in 2016 while the Swiss came out on top in the last-four in 2017 and first round in 2020.

Djokovic has struggled in the first half of 2024 and is yet to win a title this year. The Serbian was knocked out of the Italian Open in the third round this month after suffering a freak head injury.

The world number one turned 37 on Wednesday and marked the occasion by winning the 1,100th match of his career in Geneva.

Following Thursday’s draw, Djokovic is seeded to face Zverev in the semi-finals.

World number two Jannik Sinner, who took Djokovic’s Australian Open title in January, faces Christopher Eubanks of the United States.

Third-seeded Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2023, plays a qualifier.

Sinner and Alcaraz are seeded to meet in the semi-finals but both men have been suffering from injuries which forced them to skip the Rome event.

In the women’s draw, defending champion and world number one Swiatek is in a hot streak of form after winning both the Madrid Open and Italian Open, and is favourite to claim her fourth title at Roland Garros.

However, the Pole could face a number of tough opponents in her quarter-final, including four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, Miami Open winner Danielle Collins and Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova.

“This season has been has been really great already for me,” Swiatek said at the draw ceremony. “I know that I can adjust to any kind of conditions even in a short amount of time.”

World number two Aryna Sabalenka meets Erika Andreeva while Elena Rybakina, who reached the semi-finals in Madrid but was forced to pull out of Rome due to illness, takes on Belgium’s Greet Minnen.

US Open champion Coco Gauff, who reached the final of the French Open in 2022, will play a qualifier in the first round and could face Ons Jabeur in a mouth-watering quarter-final clash.

First-round match-ups to keep an eye on include Australian Open runner-up Zheng Qinwen against popular French veteran Alize Cornet, who has said she will retire after the French Open, and two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova against 15th seed Elina Svitolina, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist.

One expected withdrawal was announced Thursday: fifth-ranked Jessica Pegula, an American who has reached six major quarter-finals.

Mauresmo said Swiatek was the favourite in the women’s draw, while there was a lot of uncertainty in the men’s singles. “Everything is open,” she added.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835300/nadal-to-play-zverev-at-farewell-french-open-as-swiatek-osaka-eye-clash
High Seine levels delay Paris Olympics rehearsals again

High Seine levels delay Paris Olympics rehearsals again

23/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31781270

PARIS: Organisers of the Paris Olympics, who are praying for fine weather during this year’s Games, said Wednesday they had delayed plans for a rehearsal of the opening ceremony on the Seine for the second time because of the river’s high levels.

Following a stormy month of May that has seen regular downpours in the French capital, a rehearsal scheduled for May 27 has been cancelled — as was a previous one on April 8.

“It will take place when the weather conditions allow for it,” officials in the Olympics ministry and the local organising committee said.

The Paris Games are set to open on July 26 with a boat parade on the Seine — the first time a Summer Olympics has begun outside the athletics stadium — under plans that are widely seen as high-risk.

The Seine is also set to host the open-water swimming and triathlon during the July 26-August 11 Games, providing that pollution can be reduced to safe levels by the time athletes arrive in just over 60 days.

Officials have consistently war­ned that heavy rainstorms before or during the Games could overwhelm the Paris sewerage system, leading to discharges of untreated fecal matter into the waterway.

The latest available data — as collected by water charity Surfrider in the middle of May — showed levels of the E.Coli bacteria more than four times the authorised level.

E.Coli is a key indicator of the presence of human waste.

Paris authorities and Olympic organisers insist that new infrastructure, including a wastewater treatment plant and a rainwater storage facility, will be in operation by the time the Olympics begin.

Cleaning up the river Seine is seen as one of the key legacy achievements of the Paris Games, with mayor Anne Hidalgo promising three public bathing spots for locals next year.

A new poll released on Tuesday delivered more worrying news for organisers, with the percentage of French people who say they plan to follow the Games falling significantly.

Only 51 per cent of people surveyed told pollster Toluna Harris Interactive that they planned to follow the sport – down eight points since January and a far lower rate than in other parts of the world.

A total of 71pc of respondents in Japan and South Korea said they would watch, while 68pc of Americans and the same number of fellow Europeans intend to enjoy it.

Paris 2024 organisers insist that last-minute nerves and negative media coverage are typical in each Olympic host country before the Games.

They remain confident that the “iconic” locations being used for the sport around the French capital, as well as some domestic sporting success, will help generate enthusiasm and national pride once the event begins.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835075/high-seine-levels-delay-paris-olympics-rehearsals-again
James Anderson has moments of regret over upcoming retirement

James Anderson has moments of regret over upcoming retirement

23/05/2024, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 31781269

LONDON: England great James Anderson has said there are moments when he questions his upcoming retirement from Test cricket, although he is happy with his decision “90 per cent” of the time.

The most successful fast bowler in the format’s history, with 700 wickets, Anderson announced earlier this month that the first Test against the West Indies at Lord’s in July would mark his farewell to England duty.

Anderson, who will turn 42 next month, said on Wednesday he had thoughts about playing on, having reached an age where most pace bowlers are long since retired.

“In my head I feel like I could play for 10 years,” Anderson told his BBC Tailenders podcast. “Obviously I realise that is not realistic.

“Some days I wake up and wish I was not retiring but then 90 per cent of the time I’m happy with it.

“Not many people in sport get the chance to retire from sport at over 40. I’m happy I’ve made it this far.”

Only spinners Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan have taken more Test wickets than Anderson.

The England spearhead needs nine more wickets in his final match to surpass late Australia hero Warne’s tally, with Muralitharan way out in front on 800 Test wickets.

Anderson’s decision to retire from Tests followed talks with captain Ben Stokes, head coach Brendon McCullum and director of England men’s cricket Rob Key with team chiefs looking to refresh their attack ahead of the 2025/26 Ashes in Australia.

He could yet remain with England in a backroom capacity during the rest of the season, while Anderson has yet to decide whether he will continue to represent Lancashire, with an end at the county’s Old Trafford headquarters in Manchester named after him.

The past few years have seen repeated speculation about Anderson’s future, with the swing specialist saying much of the talk had proved a mental burden.

“There’s probably been two or three moments on the field, if the opposition are 500 for three, I’ll be thinking, ‘do I really want to still be doing this?’” he said.

“They are fleeting thoughts — nothing that has stuck with me for more than an over.

“I don’t know how much of that was me and how much it was the external noise that comes with ageing. For the last six years, or even longer, it’s been, ‘how long can you go on for?’

“That in itself, certainly for the last couple of years, has been quite draining.”

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2024



https://www.dawn.com/news/1835073/james-anderson-has-moments-of-regret-over-upcoming-retirement
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