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The emergence of Mohammad Abbas proves cricket has evolved

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Islamabad : Like life itself, and like most things in life, sports is also susceptible to evolution. In fact, it’s not uncommon in most sports for technical and stylistical developments to reach such a point that it renders one era almost unrecognisable from the other.

In the world’s biggest and perhaps the greatest sport – football – the evolution has seen full-blooded defending featuring flying tackles and generally rough tactics replaced by slick play and an increased emphasis on offense.

In basketball, the evolution is even clearer, with the quicker, pass-heavy style of play now reigning supreme as opposed to the conventional isolation schemes of the 90s.

 

Cricket, too, has undergone a transformation in the last 10 years, with much of its modern face attributed to the advent and subsequent popularity of T20 cricket.

It’s been well documented how the batsmen of the 2000s score runs at a frenzied pace and hit sixes more frequently than their predecessors ever did — or could.

But while that evolution on part of the batters has been highlighted time and again, very few have noted the changes on the other end.

The increased urgency to score in the batsmen has forced remarkable changes in bowlers as well. The 20th century needed its fast bowlers to live up to their names and be towering speedsters with matching attitude.

To be a frontline fast bowler then, the primary prerequisite used to be height — the longer the better. The West Indian pacers of the 70s, the Thompson-Lille duo out of Australia or the two Pakistan W’s of the 90s — all had all or either of height, pace or aggression in abundance.

That is no more the case in modern cricket. Bowlers these days aren’t man-mountains or 100 mile pace merchants. Instead, the bowlers today are more cerebral and reliant on how they control their delivery rather than how fast they can hurl the ball.

Mohammad Abbas — the rising star of Pakistan cricket in the five-day format — represents this shift in fast bowlers’ evolution like few others have.

The Sialkot-born does not have any notable physical gifts and he can barely hit 80 mph. He also appears to have a very calm demeanor and has not been tainted by the fame and glam that comes with stardom — at least not yet.

Such an unassuming personality he has that until 2016 very few even knew of him. For a talent this ready to go unnoticed until the age of 26 reiterates things about the system but also tells about his own way of being.

When back-to-back chart-topping performances in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy did get him noticed and earned him a maiden call to the Test side, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Few newbies have burst on the international scene like Abbas has.

Had Abbas been born 20 years earlier, he would have never made it to the national team, for which the criteria was for bowlers to bowl fast and have imposing, hostile personalities. But the fast bowler of 2018 is a much more cerebral animal – a role for which Abbas is perfect.

He bowls with dead accuracy, hits just the right areas long enough for the ball to extract any movement out of the pitch and do the damage.

A common theme across the globe has been to make sports more inclusive. The emergence of Abbas, Hasan Ali and other non-imposing pacers is perhaps cricket’s contribution in this regard.


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Dhoni could be ‘exposed’ by Yuvraj’s dad after World Cup

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Mumbai: Father of recently retired former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, Yograj has struck again, and all the signs point toward former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While the cricketer is busy preparing for India’s next clash against Pakistan on Sunday after rain played spoilsport on the much-hyped India-New Zealand clash, a recent video of Yograj has surfaced where he speaks about an ‘un-named’ player who is responsible for the ‘dirty politics’ in the Indian cricket team.

Yograj further goes on to state that this player is the reason that many players like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, and his own son Yuvraj Singh were not included in the Indian team at crucial points in time.

 

While Yograj didn’t reveal much about the player he talks about, he did mention that he’d make the complete revelations after the currently ongoing 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Based on earlier allegations by Yograj, who was also a former pace bowler, towards then Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, It seems pretty evident that he is speaking of ‘Captain Cool’.

“I don’t want to take his name but he has been playing these dirty politics from the last 15 years. He has made lives difficult for Indian cricketers. I will make this revelation after the World Cup gets over. He will remember this for life that someone said something about him,” said Yograj.

“I don’t want to speak about him at this point in time because I don’t want the team to get affected during the World Cup,” he added.

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FIFA Rankings: India unmoved at 101

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London: The Indian national team remain unmoved in the June 2019 edition of the FIFA Rankings released.

Following India’s exit from the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup, India have had a change in coach with Igor Stimac replacing Stephen Constantine.

Under Stimac, India recently participated in the King’s Cup 2019 in Thailand where a 3-1 defeat against Curacao (79) was backed by a 1-0 win over hosts Thailand (116) in the third-place play-off.

 

GFX India FIFA Rankings June 2019

The Blue Tigers are set to face Tajikistan (120), DPR Korea (122) and Syria (85) in the upcoming Intercontinental Cup 2019 next. India enter the tournament as defending champions.

Meanwhile, in the global standings, Belgium continue to lead at the top having bettered their advantage over second-placed France who also stay put in their position, the same as Brazil and England at third and fourth spots respectively.

2019 UEFA Nations League champions Portugal have displaced Croatia to stand fifth while Spain (7) has gained two places. Germany (11 – tied with Argentina), Italy and Netherlands (both at 14) have also moved two places up.

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Coutinho brace helps Brazil forget Neymar in winning Copa start

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Sao Paulo: A brace from Philippe Coutinho handed hosts Brazil a winning start to the Copa America in a 3-0 victory over Bolivia as the absence of superstar Neymar was quickly forgotten.

Barcelona’s Coutinho scored from the penalty spot early in the second half and added a close-range header three minutes later.

Substitute Everton netted a sensational third five minutes from time to clinch a Group A victory for coach Tite’s tournament favorites in Sao Paul.

 

The build-up to the competition had been dominated by Neymar’s woes, firstly when he was accused of rape by a Brazilian model, and then when he damaged ankle ligaments in a friendly last week, forcing him out of the Copa.

If Brazil’s first-half performance was anything to go by, the Paris Saint-Germain star was sorely missed, but Coutinho’s brace at least silenced the jeers that met the team at half-time.

“Whistles are part of the game, the fans want us to win and play well, so that’s why they jeer,” said the match-winner, whose goals papered over the cracks of an at times disjointed performance.

“We always want their support but we’re focused on the objective, which is the match,” Coutinho told Brazil’s SportTV.

“Whistles or cheers, the important thing is to stay focused and get the win.” Brazil made a bright start and predictably dominated the early possession and chances
But surprisingly their greatest threat came from set-pieces with Coutinho’s corner delivery causing panic in the Bolivian backline.

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