Islamabad: IT seems that realism is slowly creeping into Pakistan cricket and the team management and selectors have come to peace with the fact that the national side’s batting line-up cannot be relied on — at least for the leading role — with the World Cup fast approaching.
That role will be taken up by the bowlers while the batsmen will ensure they play the supporting role perfectly if Pakistan are to win the most prestigious trophy in world cricket for the second time.
“I’m comfortable with the batting we have in place and it is going to do one hell of a job for us but if we have to be brutally honest, our bowlers are going to be the ones who [can] set up a win for Pakistan at the World Cup,” Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur told Dawn in an exclusive chat at the National Stadium in Karachi.
“Our bowling is going to win us the World Cup while our batsmen are going to support the bowlers in this campaign,” added the South African.
Pakistan’s struggles with the bat have been consistent since more than a decade now and the problems seem to have become a stigma now which is hard to get rid of. With the World Cup set to be held in England this year, the conditions, once again pose a challenge to stroke-making.
Arthur, however, is approaching the situation realistically and taking away a significant amount of pressure from his batsmen, who are constantly targeted with criticism.
“We have got to be aggressive with the way we go, we have got to look to strike, look to take wickets and with that our batting will [gradually] grow,” he continued.
However, Arthur is still looking to strengthen the batting line-up. The Pakistan gaffer has recalled explosive-yet controversial batsman Umar Akmal to the national squad for the upcoming One-day International series against Australia.
Umar, who has not played for Pakistan since being sent back from England before the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy due to a failed fitness Test, makes his comeback on the basis of consistent performances for Quetta Gladiators in the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL).
The right-hander has accumulated 228 runs in nine outings for the Sarfraz Ahmed-led outfit and is averaging a healthy 38 with an impressive strike-rate of almost 137.
His flamboyant hitting in the UAE leg of the PSL must have been hard to ignore for Arthur, who said he talked to Umar about what it takes to consolidate a place in the Pakistan side.
“I had a meeting with Umar Akmal and discussed exactly where I thought he was. We are looking at the skillset that he brings to the Pakistan team. Obviously, he is a very intelligent player but he knows that he has to conform,” said Arthur.
“He knows that he has got to pass the fitness standards that are required of him. If he does all that he becomes available for selection which he has done.”
Would be sitting at home if I think like people from outside: Kohli
Mumbai: Virat Kohli said he would be “sitting at home if he thinks like people from outside”, responding, in his trademark combative style, to Gautam Gambhir’s recent jibe at him, but without taking the former opener’s name.
Gambhir, who led Kolkata Knight Riders to two IPL trophies in 2012 and 2014, recently said that in a result-oriented franchise environment, Kohli has been “lucky” to have survived despite Royal Challengers Bangalore never winning the coveted title in his eight years as skipper.
Asked about it, the batting maestro said, “Obviously, you want to win the IPL. I am doing what I am supposed to do. I don’t care whether I am going to be judged on this (not winning IPL) or not. There is no real, sort of, parameters you set. I try to perform wherever I can. I try to win all the possible titles, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
“We have to be practical about why we haven’t won one. That boils down to bad decision making in pressure situations. If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games. I would be sitting at home,” Kohli said.
According to Gambhir, one can’t say Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the same breath, as India’s current captain has not won the IPL even once in comparison to his predecessor’s three. Gambhir also compared Kohli with his national team deputy Rohit Sharma, who too have three IPL titles to his credit.
“I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team.
“We all are motivated to do so. It has not happened and that’s the reality. No excuses for that. Only acceptance of the faults that we made in the past. The fact that we played six semi-finals means that we have been a side who are always in contention. If we make better decisions, we can go further than that. That’s how I see things,” Kohli added.
The Indian captain was speaking on the eve of the IPL 12 opener between his team and Chennai Super Kings.
To a question if he felt RCB were the underdogs against CSK at home, he said every team that comes here has to be considered so, with the home team being led by Dhoni.
“MS knows exactly what he wants from his team in these conditions. We all have seen that and are aware of it. We are going to be backing our skills and then find ways to come out on top.
“It’s very easy to be overawed by the support that CSK are going to get. In the IPL, people can get carried away by the support that a team like CSK gets at home but we have to focus on our basics.”Kohli also said RCB’s focus this year would be on being consistent and scratching their way to wins.
“It again boils down to how much composure you have in crunch situations. If you see all the teams that have won, they have had players who have stood up and done the job.
“In the past, when we have been close to winning the title, we have just expected things to go our way instead of standing up. That is something we want to correct this season. If we look ugly, we look ugly. It doesn’t matter. We don’t want to be a side just playing flamboyant cricket. We want to be a consistent side,” Kohli said.
AIFF deny I-League clubs’ request to reschedule qualifiers
Mumbai: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has denied the I-League clubs’ request to restart the 2019 Super Cup, Goal can confirm.
Nine I-League clubs had earlier informed the Indian FA that they are willing to take part in the Super Cup 2019 after AIFF president Praful Patel reached out to the clubs on Thursday and assured them that he will hold a meeting with them in mid-April.
After initially deciding to withdraw from the competition citing AIFF’s unfair treatment towards the clubs, the I-League clubs’ unison expressed their willingness to take part in the knock-out competition if all the clubs are allowed to take part.
However, as Goal reported earlier, matches given as walkovers cannot be replayed according to the regulations of the national cup competition. The AIFF has made it clear to the clubs that the regulations must be adhered to and that it would be unfair towards the opposing teams – Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC – that took the field for the matches which did not take place.
Minerva Punjab, Gokulam Kerala FC and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for their Super Cup qualifiers on March 15 and March 16.
Due to the I-League clubs’ absence on the match days, the AIFF awarded Delhi Dynamos, FC Pune City and Chennaiyin FC wins by virtue of walkovers.
Neymar charged for ‘insulting’ referee in Man United defeat
London: Paris St Germain forward Neymar has been charged for “insulting and/or molesting” the referee following his post-game rant after the French side were knocked out of the Champions League last 16 by Manchester United, UEFA said.
Neymar, who was sidelined by injury, was investigated for lashing out and labelling the video assistant referee (VAR) system a “disgrace” after United won a controversial penalty in the dying stages to advance on away goals.
“Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United FC (1-3), played on 6 March in France,” UEFA said in a statement.
“Player Neymar Junior – insulting / molesting acts against match official (statements made by the player following the above-mentioned match) – Art. 15 (1) (d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations.”
If the Brazilian is found guilty, he could be suspended for three matches in the competition for insulting match officials.
UEFA’s Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body will look into the case and a date for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.
PSG coach Thomas Tuchel had said after the game that he understood Neymar’s anger and defended his comments, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.