Islamabad [Pakistan] Feb. 11 Former cricketer and Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood believes that it is important for the national team, which recently lost the ODIseries to New Zealand 0-5, to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them again.
In his latest exclusive blog for PakPassion.net, Mahmood writes about the positives from the tour of New Zealand despite the disappointment of losing the ODI series, the reasons for limiting league participation for Pakistan players, and hopes for a better show for the Karachi Kings this year in Pakistan Super League (PSL) 3.
“It goes without saying that a 5-0 defeat is a disappointment regardless of whichever format it happens in or who the opposition is. Whilst we lost 6 matches in a row, I was really impressed by the way we fought back in the T20I series. The victory in the T20I series shows the character and mindset of our side which is a huge positive and a very encouraging sign for us. Having said that, it is also important that we must recognize that our batting has always struggled in New Zealand. Our bowlers, some of who were touring New Zealand for the first time, found it tough to adjust to the bowling conditions there. Strong winds were a problem for our bowlers, but I would still give them immense credit for making an effort to adjust to local conditions there,” Mahmood pens.
The 42-year-old notes it is important for Pakistan to learn from their mistakes and improve for the future.
“What we need to focus on is the fact that we made mistakes and we need to work on those problems and reduce those types of problems in the future. We have a tough tour of England coming up where we will play Test matches and after that we have to play against Zimbabwe and South Africa, followed by the 2019 World Cup. All these tours will be in places which will be far different from the Asian/Sub-continental conditions we are used to. We will have to do our homework and preparations to make sure that we succeed away from home. Especially, our batsmen will need to think ‘out of the box’ in order to utilize their skills and score runs in overseas conditions,” Mahmood writes.
He, however, expects a better performance from his top-order batsmen.
“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about our batsmen as none of our top-order batsmen could make any significant scores during the ODI series. If the top five or six batsmen do not score runs then you will always struggle as a team, regardless of the courage shown by the younger batsmen at the seven, eight, nine type positions which is a positive sign for us in the future,” Mahmood adds.
Mahmood also believes that poor preparation for the tour and fatigue is to be blamed for the performance of the team.
“The facts are that when we talk of preparations for this tour, we had players who were coming in after playing T10 cricket which wasn’t ideal. On top of that, we lost the services of Usman Khan Shinwari and Junaid Khan due to injuries, whilst Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali were also carrying niggles as they went into this tour. I will add that if one plays so much cricket, then regardless of age, one’s body will find it difficult to cope with such stresses and your fitness-levels inevitably suffer as well. Despite the players trying their best to make sure that they play with the same intensity, the problem is that you cannot bear a load of international cricket whilst carrying niggles and suffering from fatigue,” he says.
He also lauds the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) decision to limit league participation by Pakistan players.
“We have had some discussions on this topic with the team management, the PCB, as well as Inzamam-ul-Haq to ensure that in the future, we will hold off from giving permission to the players to play in every other league. Priority in such cases must be given to the right type of preparation for any upcoming Pakistan tours as service to our country takes precedence over all other considerations. Of course, we do not want the players to suffer financially by missing out from playing in foreign leagues but that must not happen at the expense of loss of their fitness when it comes to Pakistan games. They need to return for international cricket duties in the same shape as they left us during the previous series. Them playing league cricket is of no real benefit to Pakistan and the situation becomes worse if the player picks an injury whilst playing in such leagues. These are all professional players and they all have a desire to play for Pakistan which is why they must realise that whilst they can get some short-term financial benefit by playing in leagues, they will find it difficult to sustain an international career in the long-run,” he writes.
Mahmood, who is also the assistant coach of the Karachi Kings, hopes for a better show in PSL 3.
“Our squad is looking very good for the upcoming PSL 3 although we have lost some of the players we picked during the initial draft and had to find replacements which are also good in their own right. If we take the example of Joe Denly, he played well in BBL 7 for Sydney Sixers and ended up with the highest batting average for his team and is an extremely useful player. Then Colin Ingram who played for Adelaide Strikers also ended up with good scores for his side. Tymal Mills who is Mitchell Johnson’s replacement is an exciting player too. Apart from the foreign contingent in the Karachi squad, we have the local boys in the shape of Mohammad Amir and Babar Azam who are in good form now. With the squad we have, hopefully, we will produce better results in this year’s PSL,” he concludes. (ANI)
Heena Sidhu adds third gold to India’s shooting kitty in CWG
Brisbane, Apr 10 (PTI) Heena Sidhu picked up India’s third gold medal in shooting at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, finishing on top in the women’s 25m pistol event and also breaking a Games record in the process, in Gold Coast on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Sidhu shot a final score of 38, two of the series being perfect fives, to claim the top honours ahead of Australian Elena Galiabovitch (35).
The bronze medal went to Malaysia’s Alia Azahari (26).
This was Sidhu’s second medal at the ongoing Games after having claimed a silver in the 10m air pistol event behind 16-year-old compatriot Manu Bhaker. Incidentally, this is her first major medal in the 25m pistol event with most of her other podium finishes being in 10m air pistol.
“I am exhausted, those are my thoughts on today’s (Tuesday’s) performance,” Sidhu quipped while speaking to PTI after her gold.
Annuraj Singh finished sixth after being eliminated in the second stage of the same event. Her final score was a disappointing 15.
Sidhu, however, was in terrific form after qualifying third with a score of 579 despite admitting to struggling with her trigger finger owing to a nerve problem.
“Thankfully, my trigger which has been giving me some trouble because of a tingling sensation was alright today. I didn’t feel that tingling too much,” Sidhu said.
“The 10m air pistol final is a blur to me, I couldn’t feel my fingers during that. I have been undergoing physiotherapy for this problem but for today, I told my physio not to touch me. I just let it be and to my relief it went off well,” she said.
Her coach, husband and the Indian shooting team’s manager Raunak Pandit was by her side as she spoke and when asked what went into maintaining consistency at the highest level, Sidhu turned to her better half for answers.
“I guess it’s about ensuring that whether you compete at the Olympics or the state championships, the intensity and process remains the same. If an athlete can achieve that, the results will automatically come,” said Pandit.
Earlier, defending silver-medallist Gagan Narang signed off a disappointing seventh while debutant Chain Singh finished fourth in the 50m rifle prone event.
Narang, who qualified third for the final with a score of 619.4, went out after the first stage of elimination.
He was tied for the second spot at the end of the first series. However, a gentle breeze perhaps affected the shots he fired after that and things went haywire for him. He ended with a final score of 142.3.
Competing in just one event at the ongoing Games, the 34-year-old Narang would be returning without a CWG medal for the first time in his career. He has to his credit, a stellar eight gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the quadrennial Games.
On the other hand, Chain Singh shot well for most part but lost his footing in the second elimination stage to end fourth with a score of 204.8. Singh had qualified sixth for the event with a score of 614.2.
Apart from Sidhu and Bhaker, Jitu Rai has won a shooting sold so far, finishing top in 10m air pistol men’s event on Monday with a Games record.
No time for prep, Kohli blames management
Nagpur : India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday admitted that the management’s poor planning affects the team’s performance and they are put under scanner for poor results.
Ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka, the skipper said that the team is using the ongoing series against the Islanders as a build-up to the upcoming series in South Africa as they have no time to prepare for it otherwise.
India will fly out to South Africa for three Tests, six ODIs and three T20Is, just two days after hosting the current series against Sri Lanka.
Kohli told media, “Unfortunately we get only two days before we fly to South Africa, after this series gets over. So we have no choice than to be in game situation and think of what’s coming ahead for us. Had we got a month off, ideally, we would have done proper preparation in a camp sort of scenario. But we have to make do with what we have.”
He said that people start judging players for their poor performance but they do not consider the time given to the cricketers to prepare for the game.
“As usual, cramped for time, which I think we need to assess in future because we very easily assess the team when we go abroad, but we don’t look at how many days we got to prepare before we go to a particular place to play. Everyone starts judging players when results come after Test matches,” he opined.
Kohli, 29, added that the game should be fair where the players get to prepare the way they want to and then are entitled to be criticised.
India will play their second Test against Sri Lanka in Nagpur on Friday.(ANI)
Kathua stadium turns into grazing ground
Kathua, The only sports stadium in the town has turned into a grazing field for stray cattle, which have free access to the area through a damaged wall.
Stray cattle can be seen roaming in the stadium round the clock, and cow dung is littered all over the ground. The poor upkeep of the stadium, which is keeping away morning walkers and sports lovers, reflects apathy on the part of the state government and local representatives.
“Some portion of the boundary wall of the stadium was damaged nearly a decade ago but to date the sports council has failed to reconstruct it. Negligence on the part of the ground staff has given free entry to animals, hampering sports activities,” said Naresh Sharma, former Municipal Council chairman.
Though the government has been talking of exploring more possibilities to promote sports activities in the state, it has done little to maintain the existing infrastructure, he added.
Shamsher Singh, manager, sports stadium, said the renovation of the stadium had already started and the damaged portion of the boundary wall would be constructed soon.
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