Saturday, March 25, 2017

25th March 1992 ... 25 years on from Pakistan's most memorable day

The world is coming down
The flags are up
Whose gonna be number one
Whose gonna take out the cup
Who will it be?
Who will be the King?
It is a once in a lifetime chaaaaance
Who'll rule the world
Gotta see who'll rule the world

25th March 1992.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of that magical World Cup win for Pakistan. After all these years, I have that day (and the days leading up to it) engraved in memory.

No one expected Pakistan to be in the Final in 1992, let alone win it. It was a typical Pakistani comeback and win, a win against all the odds, a win when no one expected it, a win that placed Pakistan at the top of the world.

Around the middle of the World Cup 1992, I remember Newspaper headlines saying "Pakistan going home early", "Pakistan's World Cup chances over", "Imran Khan's dream ends". Everyone thought Pakistan's World Cup campaign was over.

Except Imran Khan. He kept saying that this World Cup was Pakistan's.

It is quite possible that because of that improbable World Cup win (and Miandad's 6 in 1986) that some Pakistan cricket fans today still believe that the impossible is achievable in every game Pakistan plays.

The passion still burns with abundance fire!

I remember the day before the final in 1992. After coming back from school, I begged my parents to let me skip school the next day, a Wednesday (25.03.1992) so that I could watch the final.

I don't think I have ever asked my parents to let me skip school with an honest reason. It was always "pait ka dard"!

But this was cricket. It was the World Cup. It was the Final. And it was Pakistan!

My parents firmly said no.

The match was supposed to start in the morning around the time I would leave for school.

I begged and cried to no avail.

I went to bed that night sulking thinking I'll miss Pakistan's most important cricket match ever.

As on every other school day, my mother woke me up on the morning of 25th March 1992.

As I glanced towards the wall clock, it was past the time that school would start.

I don't think I have ever woken up happier.

I don't know which one of my parents decided that I could skip school that day, but I did. As did my brother.

My father skipped work. As did many of his friends, a lot of whom were over at our place in Abu Dhabi, ready for Pakistan's biggest game ever.

We were all glued to Channel 33, the lifeline of Television in the UAE in those days; it provided all of our entertainment from cartoons, to soap operas, comedy shows, Bollywood movies, Wimbledon finals, and now the final of the World Cup 1992.

All the way from Imran Khan sporting a white t-shirt with a tiger on it to what he said at the toss ...

... the quick loss of Rameez Raja and Aamer Sohail, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad's partnership, Imran's six, Miandad's reverse sweep, Inzamam Ul Haq and Wasim Akram's aggressive finish ...

... Botham's dismissal and Aamer Sohail's finger pointing, Mushtaq Ahmed's spell, Aaquib Javed's catch, Wasim Akram's two magical deliveries ...

... Moin Khan's catch and run-out, Rameez Raja's catch, Aamer Sohail and Zahid Fazal's sajdas, Imran Khan's raised arms ...

... Imran and Miandad's hug, Wasim Akram's man of the match award ...

... Imran Khan lifting the World Cup and his speech ...

... everything, absolutely everything is engraved in memory even today.

I even remember the scorecard of the match!

What a day it was.

When it all ended, the evening was spent rejoicing. Even more so because Thursday and Friday was the weekend so school was far far away :-)

There was no internet back then so we had to wait the next day for the newspaper to land at our doorstep to read all the coverage.

I still have the front page of Khaleej Times from the morning after, 26th March 1992.

Pakistan was indeed on top of the world.

It has been 25 years, but the memories are still fresh.

25th March 1992.

It was an unforgettable day! Pakistan's most memorable day of cricket!

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Friday, March 24, 2017

South defeat North in all three-match series

The three-match series are warm-up games, which serve as preparation for the international cricket and 50-over county competition – The Royal London One-Day Cup.

The stats are guided through the Professional Cricketers’ Association Most Valued Player rankings system. It shows how well the players performed during the domestic season, as classifying the key performers according to their skills and merits. The strike rates, captaincy, scored runs, taken wickets, conditions and quality of opposition are part of the criteria which help in qualifying the performers.

The players were selected through the PCA MVP rating method, while the England selectors chose the remaining ones. Each side has eight performers who were automatically selected to join either the South team, with players from southern counties, or North with ones from northern. 

Paul Farbrace oversees South and North are coached by Ottis Gibson. In the first-day match, South defeated North by 10 wickets in Dubai. It ended with 202 (50 overs) for North and 205-0 (33.3 overs) for South on March 17th. 

Dawid Malan, who is Lions’ and Middlesex’s batsman, hit the decisive 109, helping his team to emerge victorious in the first challenge. Malan and his teammate, Daniel Bell-Drummond, who hit 92, made it through with remaining 16 overs. 

North couldn’t make it as smooth and folded for 202 all out. The foothold couldn’t be gained with three wickets taken by Tom Curran. 

The second-day match was held on 19th of March, as previously, in Dubai, which ended with South’s win by 47 runs. 

Liam Dawson hit 83 helping his team to win again in the second encounter. Sam Northeast, Kent’s batsman, was on the top hitting 118 before Dawson to make South win it by 47 runs. 

Dawid Malan showed a brilliant performance again, hitting 78 gaining 2 wickets in 24 runs. 
North did their best, with Ben Duckett’s 64 and Tim Bresnan’s 74. However, it wasn’t enough to overturn South’s remarkable result. 

As it stood 2-0 up till now, South finished their three-day match series winning by 20 runs in the last encounter in Abu Dhabi on March 21st. 

Mark Wood, Durham’s bowler, gained 2-38 for North after stepping on the field after three surgeries on his ankle. 

Bell-Drummond hit 81, and Mason Crane ended it with a 4-39 helping South gain their third win in these series. 

The last game ended with 40 overs for each side, as it commenced to rain leaving South with a 228-8 dominance over North’s 208. 

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

All about the IPL and why fans love it

All About the IPL

The Indian Premier League, or IPL, can safely be said to be the most widely attended cricket league globally, and is ranked 6th amongst all of the sporting leagues.

In 2010, the IPL managed to become the very first sporting event ever to be broadcasted live on YouTube, and its overall brand value was estimated to be in the region of around US$4.5 billion! This figure was a result of the guesswork of a division of Duff & Phelps, American Appraisal.

According to the Board Control of Cricket in India, or BCCI, the IPL’s 2015 season managed to contribute US$182 million to the Indian economy’s gross domestic product, or GDP. Duff & Phelps went on to add that the IPL’s brand value jumped up to US$4.16 billion after its 2016 season drew to a close, a staggering rise from 2015’s US$3.54 billion. What makes this even more incredible is that this jump is as high as it is, in spite of the fact that the Indian rupee depreciated by almost 10% to the US dollar!

What Is the IPL?

The IPL is a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India, and it is contested during the months of April and May each year by franchise teams that represent various Indian cities.

The league was found by the BCCI in 2007, and its title sponsor in 2016 was Vivo Electronics, which had the league thus officially known as the Vivo IPL. The current titleholders for the IPL are Sunrisers Hyderabad, and anyone who indulges in T20 cricket betting who backed this team did exceptionally well last year.

The Sunrisers Hyderabad, or SRH, are based in Telangana’s Hyderabad, and this franchise is under the ownership of Kalanithi Maran, of the Sun TV Channel Network. The team was founded in 2012, after the Deccan Chargers, also based in Hyderabad, was ended by the IPL. The SRH appeared in the IPL’s 2013 season, and won 2016’s IPL final against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The Biggest Wins and Losses in the IPL

The Most Wins recorded by a team goes to the Mumbai Indians, with stats of 80 across its 2008 – 2016 span.

The Most Defeats are the Delhi Daredevils’ 73 across the same span, and the Highest Win, with stats of 64.28 in 2016 goes to the Gujarat Lions.

The Largest Victory in terms of runs was 144, when the Royal Challengers faced up against the Gujarat Lions in 2016, and the Most Consecutive Wins title is shared by the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Chennai Super Kings, with 7, in 2011 for the first, and 2013 for the latter.

The excitement of these games are what draws the huge amount of spectators to it, and the nail-biting action experienced watching these adrenaline fuelled match ups are what makes it a favourite sport.

The Biggest Names in IPL

The IPL has some of the rock stars of the sporting world, and their value is quite amazing. The most expensive players in the league’s history are as follows:

1.       Yuvraj Singh was bought by the Delhi Daredevils in 2015 for US$2.67 million        
2.       The Kolkata Knight Riders bought Gautam Gambhir for US$2.4 million in 2011
3.       2014 had Yuvraj Singh, once again, bought by the Royal Challenger Bangalore for US$$2.33 million           
4.       Yusuf Pathan went to the Kolkata Knight Riders for US$2.1 million in 2011
5.       The Pune Warriors acquired Robin Uthappa for US$2.1 million in 2011

This cricket league looks set to continue to flourish for years to come, and it’s a firm favourite both locally in India and across the globe.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Mohammad Hafeez is Back!

After a lay off due to injury, indifferent form in international cricket, and a lackluster PSL, Mohammad Hafeez is back in Pakistan's ODI and T20 squads for the West Indies.

Not many people are thrilled with his inclusion. He used to draw plenty of criticism while he was performing, so one can only imagine the criticism he must be receiving right now when he has not been at his best.

I, however, am thrilled with his inclusion.

I am also thrilled because he liked my tweet, which questioned his critics.

To reiterate my point about openers and number 3s who have turned out for Pakistan in the past decade, just take a look at the following...

Besides Azhar Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed, no one has a better average in ODIs as an opener for Pakistan in past 7 years. We all know the fate of poor Azhar Ali, and I guess Sarfaraz can't also open given his role as captain and wicket keeper! Or can he?

At number 3, Hafeez' performance is even more impressive. No one even comes close to him in terms of the runs and centuries he has piled on from this position (besides the majestic Babar Azam ofcourse). His average and strike rate also better at this position.

As I tweeted earlier, I will never understand the criticism against Mohammad Hafeez.

He has always been valuable as a top order batsman, and now with his bowling, he is even more key for Pakistan.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Do IPL Franchises think before spending money?

A lot has been said about the sort of bids that Ben Stokes and Tymal Mills attracted at the recently held IPL auction.

Stokes was bought by Rising Pune Supergiants (and who came up with that name?) for US$ 2.16 million, the highest bid ever made for a non-Indian player at the IPL, and the highest bid ever for any player after Virat Kohli.

Great for him. Really, for Stokes this is one hell of a deal. He is a wonderful cricketer no doubt. He has just been made Vice Captain of England and he is definitely one of their star performers in Tests and ODIs.

But he has an extremely poor T20 record; international and otherwise.

He averages under 15 with the bat in T20 Internationals. He has a highest score of 38 in 18 innings. Not a single 50.

In 68 domestic T20 innings, he has crossed fifty 5 times.

His strike rate is in the mid 130s, but then that is just about average for a T20 performer.

So what got him this huge pay cheque?

His bowling?

Ha! He's the same bowler who got hit for 4 consecutive sixes in the final over of the World T20 final by Carlos Remember the Name Brathwaite. He lost that cup for England.

And that was not a one off.

Ben Stokes is among the 10 bowlers with the worst ever economy rate and worst ever average in the history of T20 Internationals !!!

Yet Rising Pune Supergiants dished out over 2 million dollars for him.

Just wow.

Now we come to Tymal Mills.

Have you even heard of him?

He has played 4 T20 Internationals for England, where he averaged 40 with the ball. More recently, he has turned out for Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League, who bought him for US$ 70,000.

And you know what Royal Challengers Bangalore paid for him?

US$ 1.8 million ! The highest ever paid for a specialist bowler.


Thora paisa mujhe bhi dedo yaar... I can promise a better effort with the ball than either, 100%.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

David Warner Turns On the HEAT in ODIs

There is no doubt that David Warner is a destructive batsman; however despite making his ODI debut 3 years before his Test debut, he was never the accomplished ODI opener and was more successful at test level.

That is quite ironic given his style of play, but his record shows how he excelled in tests and never really did as well in ODIs in the initial part of his career.

In 5 years, between his ODI debut in January 2009 till the end of 2014, Warner played 50 matches, in which he managed only 2 centuries. His average during this period was a meager 31.4.

That average was a good 17 runs below his test average.

He made his test debut in December 2011, and in his first three years of test cricket, he played 35 matches, scored 13 centuries, and averaged a healthy 48.1.

Warner was a nightmare for test bowlers.

He played test cricket the modern way, in aggressive fashion, and scored big for Australia.

But he never really replicated the same success in ODI cricket.

Till now.

Right now, Warner, is having his most prolific ODI summer ever. He has scored 5 centuries in his last 10 ODIs, which is the most centuries for an Australian batsman in an ODI season (equal with Matthew Hayden).

Warner started the year 2015 with his 3rd ODI century, and he has never looked back since.

In 42 ODIs since the start of 2015, Warner has amassed over 2,000 runs at a phenomenal average of 58.6.

He smashed 10 centuries during this period and 6 half centuries.

Warner is averaging almost double of what he did in his first 5 years of ODIs, in ODIs over the past 2 years.

He has taken his ODI average from 31.4 at the end of 2014 to just over 43.

His turnaround has been so awesome that he is the leading run scorer in all ODIs played in the past two years, since 1st January 2015.

No one has scored more runs or more centuries in ODIs than Warner has in the past two years; and only AB de Villiers has a higher average and strike rate than he does.

Truly phenomenal.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What’s New on Cricket Betting Sites

In addition to football betting, cricket is definitely one of the most popular choices with punters around the globe. One of the most exciting sports in the world enjoys a huge fan base which not only follows the game, but also likes to place a bet or two to pump the adrenaline even higher.

If you are looking for a reputable and reliable cricket betting site to place your cricket wagers, some of the names in the business will pop out immediately. We are here to lead you through markets and odds you can currently find and offer some insight as to how to make the best of your betting.

Similar to football betting, bookmakers tend to highlight the most common markets for cricket as well and tipsters usually place their bets on Match Winner, Series, Total Wides, Most 6s and Most 4s.

When it comes to Match betting, it is hardly a surprise to realise that this is by far the most usual and common betting form. What you need to do is to predict the end result of the game and identify the winner or the draw. Some of the best odds for this market are listed at one of world’s biggest bookmakers – Bet365. Arguably the most reliable betting site around, Bet365 offers competitive odds on all markets, which is exactly what sets them apart from the competition.

Draw No Bet is another popular selection among cricket bettors, which can be used in combination with match betting selection. It is a great way to secure your bet and enhance the winning potential by making sure that draw result returns your stake. It is simple as that – if your match ends in a draw, you will receive your money back. It is another version of the Double Chance selection, also a popular choice among the punters worldwide, regardless of the sport.

Those who follow and love cricket are quite familiar with the fact that cricket sides tend to play three of five games in series with the biennial five-game competition called The Ashes being the most popular of all. Naturally, betting sites will offer an option to bet on the winner of the series, which makes another extremely popular choice.

It is exactly Ashes Series that you can currently find with Bet365, who offer you a chance to place a To Win Outright bet, but also to wager on Series Specials where you can back England to retain Ashes, but also to guess the Series correct score.

Outright Win on World Cup 2019 is also on offer, together with McDonald’s Super Smash – which offers To Win the match and To Win the Toss selections.

One of the main advantages with placing your bets with Bet365 is that you can get a wide selection of In-Play offers. What is more, Bet365 have recently introduced a brilliant Edit Bet option which enables punters to mend the unsettled bets by adding and removing selections from their slips and we are sure that all cricket bettors will appreciate this feature. 

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Where does Mohammad Hafeez fit in?

Since the start of 2010, Mohammad Hafeez has been Pakistan's most successful opener in ODIs. He has the most runs, the second best average (after Azhar Ali), and the second most 100s (after Ahmed Shehzad.

Based on this, Hafeez' inclusion in the side is a nobrainer. He should be opening for Pakistan if fit, no question about it.

And if you are going to question his ability outside Asia, then I guess do the same for the rest. Compare him to his peers, not Australians or Indians.

Having said that, Hafeez played only 4 ODIs in all of 2016, a year where Azhar Ali and Sharjeel Khan cemented their positions at the top of the order for Pakistan in ODIs.

Hafeez batted at number 3 in his 4 innings in 2016, something that he has done for some time now, and he has excelled at the position as well. He has been more successful at number 3 than while opening the innings in ODIs.

And in fact, Hafeez has been the most successful number 3 Pakistan has had in ODIs since 2010.

But the problem is, how can he come back into that position given what the fourth name in the above list achieved in the last ODI series Pakistan played.

Babar Azam's 3 consecutive centuries against the West Indies was a tremendous effort and it will be criminal to ask him to bat anywhere else.

So if Hafeez does not fit into the top 3, where does he fit?

With him bowling again his presence will be invaluable to the team, especially in the shorter formats; however the team management will need to rethink their strategy regarding his batting order.

With Azhar, Sharjeel, and Babar occupying the top 3 spots, my bet is that Hafeez will be utilized in the lower middle order. His aggression can be best suited to the latter stages of an innings.

There is no question that Hafeez deserves a place in the ODI squad. The only question is, where will he bat?

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Younis Khan Continues to Pile on the Runs and Hundreds...

It doesn't matter whether Pakistan's test team is the number 1 test team in the world or on their worst ever losing streak in test cricket, Pakistan's test batsmen continue to rewrite history. They continue to establish records and set new benchmarks.

First it was Asad Shafiq, then Azhar Ali, and now it is Pakistan's one and only King Khan, the undisputed master of test cricket batting, Younis Khan.

Younis has been a man on a mission for the past half a decade. He has piled on the runs, broken all of Pakistan's batting records, scored more runs and centuries than any other Pakistani batsman, is n the verge of becoming the first batsman from Pakistan to score 10,000 test runs, and continues to reach new heights that even other international batsmen have not reached.

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Number of Test Centuries
His unbeaten century on the 3rd day at the SCG against Australia was his 34th test hundred. This places him level with legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Brian Lara, and Mahela Jayawardene. Only 5 batsmen have more test centuries than Younis now.

The Best from Pakistan by a StretchMost runs, most centuries, and highest average among all batsmen ever to play test cricket for Pakistan. That too by a stretch, for runs and centuries.

Foreign Test Hundreds
Two weeks ago Asad Shafiq became the only Pakistan batsman after Saeed Anwar to score a test century in each of Australia, South Africa, and England.

Now, Younis Khan has also achieved this feat.

Test Centuries in all Countries
When Younis Khan scored a century against Australia in the UAE in 2014, he became the first batsman from Pakistan and the twelfth from the world to score a test century against all test playing nations.

Now, when Younis has scored a century in Australia, he has become the only batsman in the world after Rahul Dravid to score a century in every test playing nation.

But there is something more unique about Younis Khan's feat. He has become the only batsman in the world to score a century in every country that has hosted a test match - the 10 test playing nations and the UAE!

Dravid never played a test in the UAE; while Yousuf, Sangakkara, and Jayawardene have not scored a test century in South Africa, West Indies, and South Africa respectively.

Best Performer vs Australia
Till two years ago, Younis Khan had no test century against Australia. Now, he has 4, which places him behind only Javed Miandad and Ijaz Ahmed, each of whom have scored 6 test centuries against Australia.

Younis also has the best average among all Pakistan batsmen who scored over 1,000 test runs against Australia.

Frequency & Conversion of Test Centuries
Among all test batsmen with at least 20 centuries, after Sir Donald Bradman, Younis Khan has the highest frequency of scoring a century, every 6.06 innings, and the best conversion ratio (CR) of 51.5%, which basically means that Younis coverts 51.5% of his fifties into hundreds.

Pakistan has lost the series against Australia. They may even go on to be cleanly swept 3-0. But this series will be remembered for some special innings by Pakistan's batsmen; this series will be remembered for Asad Shafiq at the Gabba, Azhar Ali at the MCG, and Younis Khan at the SCG.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 - a strange year for Pakistan in Test Cricket. Or was it?

Year 2016 was quite a strange year for Pakistan in test cricket.

It was a year where Pakistan reached number 1 in ICC's test cricket rankings for the first time since the inception of the rankings. And then in the same year, Pakistan lost 5 consecutive tests, the most they have ever lost in a row.

It was a year where Pakistan's test captain, Misbah Ul Haq, was hailed for becoming the most capped Pakistan test captain in the history of the game and for scoring the highest number of test centuries as Pakistan captain. And then by the end of the same year, everyone was asking him to retire.

It was a year where Pakistan's leading test batsman, Younis Khan, was criticized for being too old and losing his reflexes. And then he was hailed for scoring a magical double century at the Oval. And then by the end of the year, everyone was asking him to retire.

It was a year where Pakistan's misguided left-arm prodigy, Mohammad Aamir returned to test cricket at the same venue where he had left it 6 years ago. Amid all the hype, Aamir, who had taken 51 wickets in 14 tests at 29, was left pondering his future following his 11 tests in the year where he picked up 30 expensive wickets at an average of 41.

It was a year where Pakistan's ODI captain Azhar Ali was criticized immensely for both his ODI and test performances where he seemed all at sea at the beginning of the England tour. And then in the same year, he ended it with a hundred in Birmingham, a triple hundred in Dubai, and a double hundred at the MCG becoming the first Pakistani batsman to have two scores of over 200 in the same year.

It was a year where Pakistan's ODI captain Azhar Ali went out of favor with the PCB Chairman. And then by the end of the same year, he was the favorite to become the new test captain.

It was a year where everyone from the fans to the management to the selectors wanted Mohammad Hafeez to correct his bowling action and pass the test to resume bowling in international cricket. Yet, by the end of the year when his action was officially announced as legal, the selectors failed to include him in the ODI squad for Australia.

It was a year where Pakistan finally moved Asad Shafiq to the crucial number 3 position, where he responded in the best possible manner with a magnificent hundred. And by the end of the same year he was back to number 6 only after a handful of innings at 3.

It was a year where Pakistan finally discovered that its spinners can win matches outside the subcontinent as well with Yasir Shah producing magic at Lord's and the Oval. And then in the same yearm Yasir was shredded to bits in Australia.

You get the gist, right? Anyone who indulges in cricket betting would never get it right with Pakistan. They are so inconsistent that it is beyond belief now.

It was a year where Pakistan found the perfect opener for tests in Sami Aslam, who knocked 6 fifties in as many tests including two scores in the 90s. And then by the end of the year he quickly ran out of favor.

It was a year where Shahid Afridi played his last international match. Then in the same year he asked the PCB for a farewell international match. And by the end of the year he vowed never to ask PCB for a farewell match.

Well nothing strange about that... Afridi does these things every year.

As does Pakistan really.

For years Pakistan has carried the tag of being "unpredictable". Under Misbah, however, they were quickly shedding that tag with their outstanding consistent performances in tests and their pathetic disappointment in ODIs.

Year 2016, however, was the year that brought back the unpredictability of the team.

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