Imran Khan victory good for India and Pakistan cricket relations, says Intikhab Alam

Waseem Ahmed 28/07/2018
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A win for Imran Khan is also a win for India and Pakistan relations on and off the pitch, claims his former team-mate and manager Intikhab Alam.

Khan, 65, completed his decades-long transformation from colourful cricketer to leader of his people after claiming victory in the Pakistan election on Wednesday.

And though the former all-rounder has many issues to contend with once he officially becomes Prime Minister, cricket is also likely to receive a boost in the country according to Alam.

India and Pakistan have not played a bilateral series with each other since 2012/13 due to the simmering political tension between both states.

But Alam, a former all-rounder himself and team manager of the victorious Pakistan team at the 1992 World Cup, is confident that Khan’s appointment brings fresh hope.

“I know for the fact that he has some very good ideas for domestic cricket and he will do his best to implement them. I have no doubt in my mind that he will do his level best for the resumption of cricket between Pakistan and India,” said Alam, speaking from Lahore.

Imran supporter: Intikhab Alam.

Imran supporter: Intikhab Alam.

Few would have believed that Khan would ascend to the highest office in his country during his younger days, but Alam says he always had the necessary tools.

“Now if you think of it, I think he made a right decision to enter into politics. He is a fighter, honest, hard working, determined and visionary person,” added Alam.

“Throughout the 1992 World Cup, Imran Khan was not even 70 per cent fit because of his shoulder injury. Not many people know this but he played because of his will power, determination and love for the county.”

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Fakhar Zaman is Pakistan's catalyst for change in modern ODI cricket

Waseem Ahmed 21/07/2018
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Fakhar Zaman has infused a fresh lease of life to Pakistan's ODI setup.

History was made for Pakistan cricket in more ways than one in their 244-run demolition of Zimbabwe in the fourth ODI at Bulawayo.

Fakhar Zaman was challenged by head coach Mickey Arthur to notch up a double-century when skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat first. And that was exactly what the opener did as he became the first Pakistan batsman and sixth overall to register an ODI double ton.

The legendary Saeed Anwar’s long-standing record of the biggest ODI innings by a Pakistan batsman was finally broken as Fakhar went past the 194-run mark.

Before the double century came, Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq put on a world-record stand of 304 for the first wicket on a day when records fell by the wayside – albeit against a poor Zimbabwe.

As the entire cricketing world sits up to take notice of Fakhar’s brilliance, it is easy to forget that the left-hander is a late entrant to the international stage.

The former Pakistan Navy sailor made his international debut only last year in a T20I against the West Indies in June. He followed that up with some exhilarating performances in Pakistan’s fairytale ICC Champions Trophy triumph in England.

The 28-year-old’s gung-ho approach and fearless brand of cricket is very much reminiscent of former India opener Virender Sehwag. Relying very much on his hand-eye coordination and fast feet, Fakhar has brought to Pakistan cricket the explosive firepower they have been missing at the top.

Fakhar was a late entrant to international cricket.

Fakhar was a late entrant to international cricket.

With the way ODI cricket has transformed greatly in the past few years, gone are the days when a strike-rate of 70 to 80 would have been considered a reasonable effort. With 350-plus totals becoming very much a common occurrence, the need for big-hitters who can strike the ball at a rate of over 100 has greatly increased for sides around the world.

The No1 ranked ODI team in the world, England, have the luxury of the attacking prowess of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow at the top of their batting-order while No2 ranked India have Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan to provide the firepower. Australia had David Warner to perform that role for them before he was handed his 12-month ban.

As such, Fakhar’s emergence over the past year bodes well for Sarfraz’s men in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup in England. The men in green have been slow to adapt to the changing times as was evident with Azhar Ali opening the innings as far back as the Champions Trophy win.

But with Arthur and Sarfraz at the helm, things are changing for the better and it has shown in their remarkable rise in T20 cricket where the side is perched at the top of the standings after winning 24 out of their last 28 games.

The biggest catalyst for this change has been Fakhar’s belligerence at the top ever since his Champions Trophy heroics.

Now, almost one year after his ODI debut, the Pakistan batsman is more than fulfilling the early promise he showed. The left-hander’s average in the ongoing series against Zimbabwe is a staggering 430 after innings of 210 not out, 43 not out, 117 not out and 60. This comes after his brilliant showing in the preceding T20 tri-series where he registered three half-centuries while scoring at an average of 55.

Fakhar's emergence has changed the outlook of Sarfraz Ahmed's men.

Fakhar’s emergence has changed the outlook of Sarfraz Ahmed’s men.

Seventeen matches into his ODI career, Fakhar is now on the verge of becoming the fastest batsman to 1,000 runs in the format. The batsman is just 20 runs shy of the landmark and he will in all probability break Sir Viv Richards’ record of reaching the milestone in 21 innings. Virat Kohli, the second fastest man to do so, achieved the feat in 24 innings.

With the bowling unit that Pakistan possesses along with the stability in the middle-order provided by Sarfraz and Shoaib Malik, Fakhar’s unbelievable consistency at the top is filling a crucial void in the side’s pursuit to be a top ODI outfit.

To average over 75 after 17 innings as opener is no mean feat in international cricket. If he continues this rich vein of form over the next year or so, it will not be a surprise to see Pakistan repeat their Champions Trophy script in the World Cup at the same venue next year.

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Pakistan's Ahmed Shehzad will not appeal against doping test report

Waseem Ahmed 20/07/2018
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Ahmed Shehzad will not appeal the result of his failed dope test.

Pakistan batsman Ahmed Shehzad will not contest the findings of his dope test, according to a report by The Dawn.

The Pakistan opening batsman had recently tested positive for a drug test and was subsequently ignored for the limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe.

Shehzad had a deadline till July 19 to challenge the findings of the drug test but he has chosen not to do so. The 26-year-old did not request the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to test the ‘B’ sample according to the report.

The right-hander will not present his defence for the case in front of a tribunal on July 27, following which the PCB will recommend the length of punishment in keeping with the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Shehzad could face a minimum suspension of three months.

Shehzad could face a minimum suspension of three months.

The PCB had filed a charge sheet against the batsman after he failed a drug test during a domestic cricket match in Faisalabad.

Shehzad could face a minimum ban of three months for his doping offence. The right-hander was a prominent member of Pakistan’s limited-overs setup prior to his doping offence.

He has played 13 Tests, 81 ODIs and 57 T20Is for Pakistan since making his debut in 2009. His last appearance in national colours came during Pakistan’s recent tour of the UK in a T20I against Scotland.

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