Pakistan

Conspiracy behind cancellation of NZ tour: Sheikh Rashid

Conspiracy behind cancellation of NZ tour: Sheikh Rashid

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447846

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Friday said that there was a "conspiracy" behind the cancellation of New Zealand's tour to Pakistan — the team's first in 18 years.

In response to a question, Ahmed declined to name the country responsible for the conspiracy but termed the cancellation "an attempt to damage our efforts for peace in the region".

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said the New Zealand team's security incharge spoke to government officials in the morning and informed them of a threat. When the officials asked for further details, the NZ security incharge "did not have any", he added.

Read | 'Extremely disappointed': Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

Pakistan had deployed commandos from Pakistan Army's Special Services Group (SSG), soldiers, and 4,000 policemen for the matches in Rawalpindi, Ahmed said.

"We also tried to convince them to play the match without spectators. But they did not agree to it," he disclosed.

The minister said that the government's team also reached out to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently in Dushanbe to participate in the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit.

"He called New Zealand's Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] and assured [her] of [providing] complete security to the Kiwis. The New Zealand prime minister said there was no issue of a threat."

However, Ardern said the NZ government had "received intelligence that the team could be attacked when it steps out to go to the stadium", Ahmed added.

"It is their decision. We had deployed heavy security for the team. Pakistan is a peace promoter in the world. And this tour was cancelled through a conspiracy. It is their (NZ's) problem and what they decide."

The National Crisis Management Cell had also tried to convince the Black Caps not to call off their tour but they did not agree, he further said.

'Indian media defaming Pakistan'

The minister noted that New Zealand's security team had visited Pakistan four months ago and the tour itself had been scheduled months before the Aug 31 deadline for withdrawal of international forces from neighbouring Afghanistan.

"None of our intelligence agencies, which are among the best in the world, have any information about a threat. Pakistan is playing a major role in the region and they do not want us to prosper."

Indian media was "defaming Pakistan", Ahmed said, adding that its designs would be foiled.

"We have sacrificed before and peace will prevail here at all costs," he emphasised.

Talking about the upcoming tour by the England team, Ahmed said they would make their own decision. "My ministry has all [done] all arrangments," he added.

"In our country, there is no security issue for cricket," the minister concluded.


More to follow.



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646882/conspiracy-behind-cancellation-of-nz-tour-sheikh-rashid
'Extremely disappointed': Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

'Extremely disappointed': Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447845

As the New Zealand cricket team cancelled the hotly anticipated series against Pakistan at the eleventh hour citing security threats, fans, analysts and cricket enthusiasts took to Twitter expressing anger and exasperation, and questioned whether the whole situation could have been handled better.

The New Zealand cricket board “unilaterally” cancelled the ODI and T20I series earlier today that had to culminate on October 3, leaving fans dismayed, with some calling Pakistan to lodge a protest for the "embarrassment" caused. Others indicated a need for prospective damage-control strategy for teams scheduled to tour Pakistan next.

'Which world is NZ living in?'

Pakistan Cricket Board's new chairman Ramiz Raja said it was frustrating to see the "unilateral approach" of New Zealand over security, adding that Pakistan would take the matter to the International Cricket Council.

"NZ will hear us at the ICC."

'Extremely disappointed'

Pakistan Captain Babar Azam said he was "extremely disappointed" by the abrupt postponement of the series, but he emphasised he had "full trust in the capabilities and credibility" of the country's security agencies.

NZ 'satisfied' with security: Fawad

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation earlier in the day with New Zealand's premier, Jacinda Ardern, who expressed satisfaction over security measures taken by Pakistan for the visitors.

While hailing Pakistan's intelligence agencies as "among the best intelligence systems in the world", the minister said the New Zealand prime minister had sought postponement of the series "in view of the policy of extreme caution".

'Beyond understanding'

Like the fans, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan was left equally shocked by the development, saying the last-minute cancellation of the tour by the Kiwis was beyond comprehension.

'Sad day for Pakistan cricket'

Wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal was also devastated by the news, and termed it a sad day for the sport at the national level.

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said Pakistan was safe and the postponement of the series was "sad" news for the whole nation.

'This is heartbreaking'

Pakistan Super League franchise Islamabad United's General Manager Rehanul Haq was also stumped by the announcement, calling it "heartbreaking".

'Cancellation may impact other teams too'

Indian commentator Harsha Boghle felt the cancellation of the tour would also impact future tours of other teams to Pakistan.

'Where was NZ intelligence at the time of Christchurch attack?'

Sports journalist Roha Nadeem questioned New Zealand's intelligence, asking: "Have NZ forgotten how Bangladesh players were minutes away from Christchurch mosque at the time of shootings? Where was their intelligence then?"

"...The world moved on like nothing happened but somehow touring Pakistan is a trip to Mordor."

'Disappointed at hasty decision'

Expressing dismay over the "hasty" decision of the New Zealand cricket board, veteran journalist Mazhar Abbas insisted the guests had never been under threat in Pakistan even when they last abandoned the series a few years ago.

Pakistan should protest 'at the highest play'

A senior leader of the opposition PML-N, Mohammad Zubair, suggested that Pakistan should lodge a protest, saying there was no basis for cancelling the tour when the security was foolproof.

'Is it a failure of the PCB?'

Journalist Wajahat Kazmi called it a "black day", questioning who should be blamed for the situation and the resulting damage to Pakistan cricket.

'NZ should share the threat with Pakistan'

Singer and activist Fakhre Alam said as a Pakistani citizen, "I want to know the credible threat that [New Zealand Cricket] found".

"It is only fair to share that intelligence with the Government of Pakistan so that if there is a real threat it can be neutralised immediately & lives are protected," he tweeted.



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646879/extremely-disappointed-anger-and-dismay-as-new-zealand-abandons-pakistan-tour-at-the-last-minute
Conspiracy behind cancellation of NZ tour: Sheikh Rashid

Conspiracy behind cancellation of NZ tour: Sheikh Rashid

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447803

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Friday said that there was a "conspiracy" behind the cancellation of New Zealand's tour to Pakistan — the team's first in 18 years.

In response to a question, Ahmed declined to name the country responsible for the conspiracy but termed the cancellation "an attempt to damage our efforts for peace in the region".


More to follow.



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646882/conspiracy-behind-cancellation-of-nz-tour-sheikh-rashid
'Extremely disappointed': Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

'Extremely disappointed': Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447802

As the New Zealand cricket team cancelled the hotly anticipated series against Pakistan at the eleventh hour citing security threats, fans, analysts and cricket enthusiasts took to Twitter expressing anger and exasperation, and questioned whether the whole situation could have been handled better.

The New Zealand cricket board “unilaterally” cancelled the ODI and T20I series earlier today that had to culminate on October 3, leaving fans dismayed, with some calling Pakistan to lodge a protest for the "embarrassment" caused. Others indicated a need for prospective damage-control strategy for teams scheduled to tour Pakistan next.

'Which world is NZ living in?'

Pakistan Cricket Board's new chairman Ramiz Raja said it was frustrating to see the "unilateral approach" of New Zealand over security, adding that Pakistan would take the matter to the International Cricket Council.

"NZ will hear us at the ICC."

'Extremely disappointed'

Pakistan Captain Babar Azam said he was "extremely disappointed" by the abrupt postponement of the series, but he emphasised he had "full trust in the capabilities and credibility" of the country's security agencies.

NZ 'satisfied' with security: Fawad

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation earlier in the day with New Zealand's premier, Jacinda Ardern, who expressed satisfaction over security measures taken by Pakistan for the visitors.

While hailing Pakistan's intelligence agencies as "among the best intelligence systems in the world", the minister said the New Zealand prime minister had sought postponement of the series "in view of the policy of extreme caution".

'Beyond understanding'

Like the fans, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan was left equally shocked by the development, saying the last-minute cancellation of the tour by the Kiwis was beyond comprehension.

'Sad day for Pakistan cricket'

Wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal was also devastated by the news, and termed it a sad day for the sport at the national level.

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said Pakistan was safe and the postponement of the series was "sad" for the whole nation.

'This is heartbreaking'

Pakistan Super League franchise Islamabad United's General Manager Rehanul Haq was also stumped by the announcement, calling it "heartbreaking".

'Cancellation may impact other teams too'

Indian commentator Harsha Boghle felt the cancellation of the tour would also impact future tours of other teams to Pakistan.

'Where was NZ intelligence at the time of Christchurch attack?'

Sports journalist Roha Nadeem questioned New Zealand's intelligence, asking: "Have NZ forgotten how Bangladesh players were minutes away from Christchurch mosque at the time of shootings? Where was their intelligence then?"

"...The world moved on like nothing happened but somehow touring Pakistan is a trip to Mordor."

'Disappointed at hasty decision'

Expressing dismay over the "hasty" decision of the New Zealand cricket board, veteran journalist Mazhar Abbas insisted the guests had never been under threat in Pakistan even when they last abandoned the series a few years ago.

Pakistan should protest 'at the highest play'

A senior leader of the opposition PML-N, Mohammad Zubair, suggested that Pakistan should lodge a protest, saying there was no basis for cancelling the tour when the security was foolproof.

'Is it a failure of the PCB?'

Journalist Wajahat Kazmi called it a "black day", questioning who should be blamed for the situation and the resulting damage to Pakistan cricket.



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646879/extremely-disappointed-anger-and-dismay-as-new-zealand-abandons-pakistan-tour-at-the-last-minute
England leapfrog France into third in FIFA rankings

England leapfrog France into third in FIFA rankings

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447579

PARIS: Euro 2020 finalists England pushed world champions and cross-Channel rivals France out of the top three in world football body FIFA’s latest men’s rankings published on Thursday.

Belgium and Brazil retain first and second spots respectively, while England make their first appearance on the podium in nine years on the back of two wins and a draw in recent 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

France paid the price for two draws and a win to go fourth.

Third place equals England’s highest ranking in 2012. Gareth Southgate’s side lost on penalties to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley in July and were World Cup semi-finalists in Russia in 2018.

France went out of Euro 2020 in the round of 16.

European champions Italy, on a record unbeaten international run of 37 matches, are fifth with Copa America winners Argentina sixth.

In the women’s rankings, Sweden moved up to second behind world champions the United States with Germany dropping to third.

England, under new management with Sarina Wiegman replacing Phil Neville, are eighth — their lowest since 2010.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646769/england-leapfrog-france-into-third-in-fifa-rankings
Black Caps lose Blundell for entire one-day series

Black Caps lose Blundell for entire one-day series

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447578
NEW ZEALAND batsmen smile during a practice session on the eve of the first One-day International against Pakistan. —White Star
NEW ZEALAND batsmen smile during a practice session on the eve of the first One-day International against Pakistan. —White Star

RAWALPINDI: New Zealand were dealt a major setback on Thursday after it was announced that their wicket-keeper/batter Tom Blundell would miss the entire ODI series against Pakistan here in Rawalpindi with a left-quad strain.

Blundell’s spot in the ODI squad will be filled up by batting all-rounder Daryl Mitchell, who is already part of the Black Caps’ squad for the five-match T20 International series against Pakistan in Lahore, and will become available for the last two one-dayers after completing the mandatory isolation.

Blundell, meanwhile, suffered the injury during the fourth T20 game against Bangladesh in Dhaka last week. And according to New Zealand physio Nishil Shah, the 31-year-old required a concentrated period of rehabilitation to make full recovery from the injury.

“Tom’s been working hard since the injury in Bangladesh,” Shah said in a New Zealand Cricket (NZC) statement on Thursday morning. “The injury’s not quite where we want it so we think it’s best for him to concentrate on his rehab given the big summer of cricket ahead.”

Blundell hasn’t appeared in ODIs since February 2020 and just two matches — both against India.

Mitchell, the 30-year-old right-handed batter who bowls occasional medium-pacers, made his ODI against Bangladesh earlier this year and scored an unbeaten 100 against them in the final game at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

New Zealand interim head coach Glenn Pocknall, meanwhile, termed Blundell’s absence — from the ODI series — as a major blow.

“Obviously everyone is gutted for Tom because he’s a quality player with a diverse skill-set,” Pocknall stated in the NZC media release. “He’ll remain with the squad and we’re hopeful he’ll be available again for the T20 series.”

Pocknall further said that after consultation with regular New Zealand head coach Gary Stead it was decided Mitchell was best suited as a replacement.

“Fortunately, we have someone of Daryl’s quality to join us early for the ODIs,” he said.“He’s shown last summer what a destructive batsman he is, while also offering another useful bowling option.

“With Tom out, we do lose our first choice back-up wicket-keeping option. But there are several guys in the squad with keeping experience and we’ll ensure they do the necessary work at training to be up to speed if called upon.”

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646766/black-caps-lose-blundell-for-entire-one-day-series
FIFA intensifies push to stage World Cup every two years

FIFA intensifies push to stage World Cup every two years

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447577

ZURICH: FIFA intensified its push for hosting the World Cup every two years on Thursday by garnering support from football fans around the world to help combat resistance from Europe and South America.

The latest public relations tactic came in the form on an online survey commissioned by FIFA.

The FIFA statement did not provide data, details of the polling methodology or questions asked, but claimed its findings showed “considerable differences between the so-called traditional markets and the developing football markets.”

European football body UEFA and South American counterpart CONMEBOL oppose FIFA’s plan and have threatened to boycott additional World Cups. Europe and South America combine for 65 of the 211 FIFA members fewer than the one-third total likely needed to block any proposal.

The governing bodies of the six continental football federations all stage their own championships, with Europe hosting its tournament every four years halfway between the World Cups. Adding an extra World Cup in every four-year cycle would likely cut into the European events revenue stream.

FIFA’s controversial proposal of a biennial World Cup, first floated in the 1990s, was revived by FIFA’s head of Global Football Development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

FIFA’s congress in May voted by a large majority to conduct a feasibility study into the potential of holding the World Cup every two years instead of every four years.

FIFA said it used polling company YouGov and that the 15,000 respondents “were identified as expressing an interest in football and the FIFA World Cup, from a broader market research survey involving 23,000 people in 23 countries, across the organisation’s six confederations.”

It said the majority of fans would like to see a more frequent men’s World Cup and of those respondents, a majority preferred a biennial competition.

The most favourable towards this increased frequency are the “younger generations in all regions” and “developing markets”, while older football lovers remain attached to the tradition of a four-yearly tournament which has been in place since the first World Cup in 1930.

The organisation said that it would publish full details of the survey and added that an expanded survey involving 100,000 people in more than 100 countries was currently underway.

FIFA’s latest survey follows one week after it hosted about 80 former international players, including several World Cup winners, for a two-day meeting in Qatar — the 2022 World Cup host country.

The players reported they all agreed it was a good idea to double the number of men’s World Cups in each four-year period.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino believes staging more tournaments would increase opportunities and enthusiasm in most of the 211 member countries, many of which never qualify to play at the World Cup.

Expanding the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 starting at the 2026 tournament in North America was one of the biggest early decisions of Infantino’s presidency, which began in 2016. FIFA also wants to distribute extra World Cup revenue to improve talent development and help national teams globally close the gap on Europe.

European teams have won the past four World Cups and filled 13 of the 16 semi-final slots. The other three semi-finalists from 2006-18 were from South America.

The UEFA-backed Football Supporters Europe group also opposed the biennial World Cup plan, claiming it would distort the balance between domestic and international football, and club and national teams.

Global players union FIFPRO has also warned of burnout in the increasingly congested football schedule.

However, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said it welcomes the consultation process and CONCACAF, which organises the game in North and Central America and the Caribbean, says it is studying the plans.

Wenger says that the status quo causes too much disruption and forces players to make too many long trips around the world for qualifiers and friendly matches. He says his system would streamline the process while still keeping the balance of 80% club football and 20% national team football.

Any final decision on the proposal would have to be made by a FIFA Congress, which usually takes place in May.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646774/fifa-intensifies-push-to-stage-world-cup-every-two-years
Pakistan eye ODI revival at home against New Zealand

Pakistan eye ODI revival at home against New Zealand

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447556
RAWALIPNDI: Pakistan captain Babar Azam (L) and his New Zealand counterpart Tom Latham pose with the ODI series trophy at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star
RAWALIPNDI: Pakistan captain Babar Azam (L) and his New Zealand counterpart Tom Latham pose with the ODI series trophy at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

RAWALPINDI: There is a touch of history linked with Friday’s opening One-day International between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Pindi Cricket Stadium here in Rawalpindi.

Call them the Black Caps of modern or the Kiwis of the era gone by, this is the New Zealand’s first tour to Pakistan after a gaping span of nearly 18 years. In the cricketing annals, Sunday, Feb 11, 1973 was a momentous day — it was the joint ODI debut of both New Zealand and Pakistan, just two years after the format was introduced at the international level.

And although New Zealand won that 40-over (when eight balls constituted an over in some countries) game at Christchurch’s Lancaster Park — precisely 17,750 days ago — by 22 runs, Pakistan have not lagged behind thereafter and now are ahead in the head-to-head count, winning 55 times to New Zealand’s 48.

The last time New Zealand were in Pakistan at the end of 2003, they disappeared without a trace during a 5-0 drubbing by the home team, and have won just thrice — by one run Sialkot, 1976; 34 runs, Sialkot 1984 and seven wickets Karachi 1996 — in 20 previous fixtures while visiting these shores.

While the series is now reduced to a bilateral contest in the absence of the DRS facility, there are still worrying signs for Pakistan for the sterner test ahead — the Twenty20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

As of now, however, Pakistan have had a rocky run into the latest ODI series, both on and off the field. An England side, robbed of quite a lot of their first-choice stars, whitewashed Babar Azam’s side 3-0. On top of it, Misbah-ul-Haq resigned as head coach while bowling coach Waqar Younis also quit simultaneously.

Saqlain Mushtaq, the inventor of ‘doosra’ and PCB’s head of international player development, has been slotted in as the interim head coach with fellow ex-Pakistan player Abdul Razzaq taking the bowling coach’s role.

So preparation-wise, Pakistan — despite claims of everything being in control — are set to tread a tightrope against a side which is currently at the pinnacle of the International Cricket Council’s ODI rankings. Top guns like regular captain Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee are unavailable due to various commitments while seasoned campaigner Ross Taylor has been rested, ahead of a busy season for New Zealand.

And despite being denied services of wicket-keeper Tom Blundell for the ODI leg through injury, the Tom Latham-led Black Caps have called up Daryl Mitchell from the T20 squad; the all-rounder though would only become eligible for selection from second ODI onwards.

The prospects of the straw-coloured pitch — as evident on the match eve — aiding spin more than anything else and Pakistan opting to field at least two leg-spinners from the trio announced in the 12-man party on Wednesday, New Zealand are certain to bank on all-rounder Cole McConchie — who bowls off-spin and is here in the absence of left-handed all-rounder Mitchell Santner — and Ajaz Patel, the slow left-armer who is coming off good T20 series in Dhaka.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam refused to take the bait of ‘go-easy’ feeling, while admitting his team wanted to play New Zealand at full strength.

“For sure, we were looking forward to an enthralling battle against them when the series was confirmed. But nonetheless, Pakistan will not underestimate this New Zealand side either and we’ve got to play our best cricket to defeat them,” Babar said during Thursday’s pre-series virtual news conference. “One will see a different Pakistan team which will play ‘fearless’ cricket against New Zealand.”

The Pakistan captain, who still is finding his way as the ODI leader after winning only four of nine matches, negated the impression that leg-spin would be Pakistan’s forte.

“Nothing of that sort. We are mindful of the World Cup also coming up and therefore, it was decided that we should gain practice as much as possible in conditions akin to what Pakistan would get in the UAE,” Babar insisted.

“We shortlisted three leg-spinners because [Mohammad] Nawaz became unavailable due to Covid-19 and is currently in isolation,” the skipper said of the left-handed all-rounder.

Babar also expressed optimism over Pakistan’s indifferent fielding since Steve Rixon left the scene in 2018.

“I know this has been a lingering issue for us over the past couple of years,” the captain conceded. “But having said that I feel there is some improvement. However, there is still some way to go where we can assert ourselves as a good fielding unit.”

Both the teams had final practice in late afternoon shortly after rival skippers unveiled the series trophy on a day when the mercury touched mid-30s — the feel-like temperature was a maximum 39-degree Celsius — while the air was quite hot.

Meanwhile in a welcome change, the previously unpleasant sight of barren concrete stands on both sides outside the ground, adjacent to the stands on either side of the two main buildings, has been tastefully decorated with temporary chairs of assorted-colour clothing. It means the 25 per cent officially allowed for the series will see around 4,500 spectators turn up on each of the three match days.

Teams (from):

PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (captain), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Usman Qadir, Zahid Mahmood

NEW ZEALAND: Tom Latham (captain), Rachin Ravindra, Finn Allen, Will Young, Henry Nicholls, Daryl Mitchell, Colin de Grandhomme, Doug Bracewell, Cole McConchie, Scott Kuggeleijn, Matt Henry, Hamish Bennett, Blair Tickner, Ajaz Patel, Jacob Duffy

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Ahsan Raza (Pakistan)

TV umpire: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan)

Match referee: Mohammad Javed Malik (Pakistan)

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021



https://www.dawn.com/news/1646778/pakistan-eye-odi-revival-at-home-against-new-zealand
Spectators asked to follow Covid-19 protocols

Spectators asked to follow Covid-19 protocols

17/09/2021, Pakistan, Multi Sports, Pakistan Publications, Article # 30447428
RAWALPINDI: Crowd has been advised to follow strict Covid-19 protocols while turning up at the stadium to watch Pakistan and New Zealand teams in action in the One-Day series starting with the opening day-night match here at the Pindi Stadium today .The crowd has been advised to bring the Covid-19...

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/892974-spectators-asked-to-follow-covid-19-protocols
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