Jan 172014
Talha, Junaid shine on dull day

For the second successive day, Pakistan’s bowlers struggled on a flat pitch. The team, however, could take heart from the success of their pacers, Mohammad Talha and Junaid Khan

Junaid Khan had Rangana Herath lbw for a first-ball duck, Pakistan v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Sharjah, 2nd day, January 17, 2014

Junaid Khan’s three-wicket haul was a bright spot for Pakistan on the second day © AFP

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Pakistan bowlers may have started the second day optimistic about their chances of ending Sri Lanka’s resistance but had little success as the visitors reached an imposing 428 for 9. While Pakistan’s bowlers contained the Sri Lanka batsmen well – conceding only 208 runs in the day – they could grab wickets only after the batting side had managed to build themselves into a position of strength. However, there were positives for Pakistan on the second day, specially the bowling of pacers Mohammad Talha and Junaid Khan.

Talha, bowling in only his second Test after a gap of nearly five years, provided the much-needed breakthroughs on both days and finished with figures of 3 for 99 in 32 overs. He is one of the fastest bowlers in Pakistan’s domestic cricket circuit, but was pushed back with the emergence of Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan. Talha remained on the periphery of national selection for long time and was left out for the squad for the first two Tests, but his performance showed an eagerness to make the best of an opportunity that came out of the blue.

On an unresponsive surface, Talha experimented a tad too much but, though he was short of length, his patience was rewarded with the vital scalps of Prasanna Jayawardene (35) and debutant Dilruwan Perera (95). Junaid, at the other end, charged in throughout the day and was tidy, although he did not get too much movement with the ball. Junaid was Pakistan’s most successful bowler, taking 3 for 81 at an economy rate of 2.53.

Saeed Ajmal, on the other hand, struggled again. He had picked up two wickets on the first day, but the Sri Lanka batsmen tackled him sensibly on the second day and scored more fluently off him. He was wicketless throughout the day and was left cursing the pitch that did not offer much help. He finished the innings with 2 for 120 in 55 overs. Prior to the Sharjah Test, Ajmal had called for more supportive pitches but as Pakistan’s strike bowler, he is expected to take wickets irrespective of conditions.

“This is what Test cricket is,” Junaid said, after an unproductive day. “We tried hard to extract the best out of the day, but it was a flat pitch. The way the batsmen have batted in last two days, there is nothing much for the bowler.”

Given the current match situation, the onus is on Pakistan’s batsmen to show composure in their innings and Junaid was optimistic about the team’s chances in the match: “The way pitch is acting, our batsmen can push hard tomorrow to make quick runs to turn the pressure back on Sri Lanka. We are hoping the pitch can do a bit later in the match.”

Jan 122014
Sri Lanka cruise to crushing win

Opening batsmen Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva hit half centuries and drove Sri Lanka to an emphatic nine-wicket victory over Pakistan in the second test to go 1-0 up in the series.

Karunaratne remained unbeaten on 62 while Silva fell for 58 as Sri Lanka reached 137-1 for its biggest win by wickets among the 45 tests played between the two nations.

Resuming at 330-7, fast bowler Suranga Lakmal dashed Pakistan’s hopes of putting up a fight with a career-best 4-78 before Pakistan was bowled out for 359 in an hour on the last day an overall lead of 136 runs.

Kumar Sangakkara (9) pulled Saeed Ajmal to midwicket boundary and then ran the winning run to finish the match at tea on the last day.

“The bowlers did really well and the batsmen came to the party to set up this win,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.

Sri Lanka’s most experienced batsman Mahela Jayawardene braved the pain in his stitched left hand to score 129 as Sri Lanka established a first innings lead of 223 by scoring 388 in the first innings.

Jayawardene’s clubmate Silva missed his maiden test century but also scored a vital first innings 95 which impressed Mathews.

“The younger guys have performed exceptionally well and Mahela showed his class as well,” Mathews said.

“It was a collective effort, I thought the seamers were brilliant and Herath did a good holding job.”

Karunaratne and Silva played out cautiously and steadily progressed to 35-0 by lunch before they cut loose after the break.

Without injured fast bowler Bilawal Bhatti, who was nursing a hamstring injury and couldn’t bowl in the second innings, Pakistan struggled to get the breakthrough and both batsmen scored freely.

Pakistan came close to separating the two openers but Asad Shafiq couldn’t hold on to Silva’s uppish drive off luckless Ajmal when the batsman was on 24.

Ajmal finally got the consolation wicket when he had Silva leg before wicket with Sri Lanka needing only 13 runs for victory.

“They’ve been playing him (Ajmal) for a long time now and the pitch wasn’t giving too much help,” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq said.

Silva added 124 runs for the opening stand and hit five fours in his 134-ball knock. Karunaratne hit eight boundaries and faced 125 balls in his unbeaten innings.

Pakistan’s tail resisted for an hour and added 29 to its overnight 330-7 before it was bowled out.

Lakmal claimed all three wickets and wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene equaled the Sri Lanka record of nine catches in a test match when he had Rahat Ali caught behind.

Sarfraz Ahmed, 70 overnight, tried to farm the strike but could add only four to his overnight score before Lakmal bowled him in the fourth over of the day off a delivery that swung in and went between the bat and pad.

Ahmed batted for 3 1/2 hours, hitting seven fours in his 142-ball maiden test fifty.

“We need a bit of time, the youngsters need to learn to do their basics right especially in tests and try and wait for the bad ball and that’s what they did better,” Misbah said.

“The pitch was flat and we should have scored more than 400 in the second innings.”

Jayawardene equaled Amal Silva’s 1985 record of nine catches against India. Silva achieved the feat twice in the same series.

Lakmal wrapped up the innings by clean bowling Junaid Khan with Ajmal remaining unbeaten on 21.

The first Test ended in a draw at Abu Dhabi and the third will be played in Sharjah from Jan. 16.

Pakistan 1st Innings: 165
Sri Lanka 1st Innings: 388

Pakistan 2nd Innings(Overnight 330-7)

Khurram Manzoor c P Jayawardene b Pradeep 6
Ahmed Shehzad c P Jayawardene b Herath 9
Mohammad Hafeez c P Jayawardene b Pradeep 1
Younis Khan c P Jayawardene b Lakmal 77
Misbah-ul-Haq b Herath 97
Asad Shafiq c Karunaratne b Eranga 23
Sarfraz Ahmed b Lakmal 74
Bilawal Bhatti b Eranga 32
Saeed Ajmal not out 21
Rahat Ali c P Jayawardene b Lakmal 8
Junaid Khan b Lakmal 2
Extras: (1b, 8lb) 9

Total: (all out) 359

Overs: 137.3.

Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-12, 3-19, 4-148, 5-200, 6-245, 7-312, 8-334, 9-354.

Bowling:Suranga Lakmal 28.3-4-78-4, Nuwan Pradeep 19-3-50-2, Rangana Herath 48-10-132-2, Shaminda Eranga 36-9-74-2, Angelo Mathews 5-1-9-0, Kumar Sangakkara 1-0-7-0.

Sri Lanka 2nd Innings

Dimuth Karunaratne not out 62
Kaushal Silva lbw b Ajmal 58
Kumar Sangakkara not out 9
Extras: (3b, 4lb, 1nb) 8

Total: (for 1 wicket) 137

Overs: 46.2.

Fall of wicket: 1-124.

Did not bat: Dinesh Chandimal, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep.

Bowling:Mohammad Hafeez 8-3-22-0, Junaid Khan 10-2-34-0 (1nb), Rahat Ali 11-1-29-0, Saeed Ajmal 17.2-5-45-1.

Copyright © 2014, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

Dec 312013
Pakistan Dominate Opening Day
Tuesday 31 December 2013 

by John Pennington

Junaid Khan

Junaid Khan took five wickets as Pakistan dominated 2013’s final day of international cricket

REUTERS / Action Images

Sri Lanka 204 (Mathews 91, Junaid Khan 5-46) v
Pakistan 46-1
First Test, Abu Dhabi, day one

Pakistan dominated the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi by dismissing their opponents for 204 before closing on 46 for one in reply.

Pakistan won the toss, chose to field and almost everything went their way until Khurram Manzoor was run out off the final ball of the day.

Junaid Khan’s five for 46, Bilawal Bhatti’s three for 65 and Saeed Ajmal’s two for 32 ensured Sri Lanka’s innings lasted just 65 overs.

And but for captain Angelo Mathews’ 91 in 127 balls, they wouldn’t have threatened the 200-run mark having slipped to 82 for five with the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara and they then lost three wickets for 20 runs to slide to 124 for eight.

Mathews, who hit 15 fours, mounted some resistance with Shaminda Eranga (14) to add a touch of respectability to the Sri Lankan total.

Nevertheless, Pakistan were making serene progress in the final session with Ahmed Shehzad, like Bhatti making his debut, on 25 and Manzoor on 21 when the latter was needlessly run out by Mathews and Prasanna Jayawardene.

In the first Test since the retirement of Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka recalled Kaushal Silva to join Dimuth Karunaratne at the top of the order, the wicket-keeper playing his first Test in more than two years, and he made 20, Karunaratne making 38 in a partnership of 57.

That stand fell just four short of Sri Lanka’s highest – the 61 put on by Mathews and Eranga for the ninth wicket as Sri Lanka ended 2013 with a whimper.

© Cricket World 2013

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Oct 162013
South Africa heading to shock defeat

Published: 6:56AM Thursday October 17, 2013 Source: Reuters

South Africa will have to dig deep if they are to avoid defeat in the first Test after being reduced to 72 for four wickets in their second innings, still trailing Pakistan by 121 runs, in Abu Dhabi today.

With the wicket taking turn and Pakistan’s spinners bowling an immaculate line, the world’s number one test team showed signs of rust with both bat and ball in their first five-day match in eight months.

Having bowled the sub-continent side out for 442 just after tea on day three, South Africa reached 38 in their second innings before Alviro Petersen (17) was caught behind off the bowling of Mohammad Irfan to start a collapse that would see the side lose three more top-order batsmen for the addition of just another 34 runs.

Graeme Smith (32) was next to go as he was stumped at the second attempt by wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal to become Saeed Ajmal’s 150th victim in tests.

Jacques Kallis, celebrating his 38th birthday, had a day to forget as he was trapped plumb lbw by Junaid Khan without scoring.

Pakistan completed their excellent day when Hashim Amla (10) was caught by Akmal off the bowling of Zulfiqar Babar to compound the misery for the visitors.

AB de Villiers (11 not out) and nightwatchman Dale Steyn (0 not out) will resume on day four.

Earlier, Misbah-ul-Haq scored his fourth Test century to help Pakistan to a first innings score of 442.

The Pakistan captain bagged his first ton against the Proteas before he was out two balls later for exactly 100, lbw to Steyn.

He was ably supported by Asad Shafiq, who compiled a patient 54 from 104 balls and put on 82 runs for the fifth wicket with his captain before becoming JP Duminy’s second wicket of the innings when he clipped the ball to Peterson at mid-wicket.

South Africa then made fairly light work of the tail, Saeed Ajmal struck a brisk 13 before edging a Vernon Philander delivery to wicket-keeper

De Villiers, and Zulfiqar Babar was run out for two by Steyn with the last ball before tea.

Steyn picked up the last two wickets as he had Junaid Khan (3) caught by Morne Morkel and then bowled Akmal (32) with an excellent yorker.

Khurram Manzoor, who reached his maiden Test century yesterdasy, was the only wicket to fall in today’s opening session, caught behind for 146, as he slashed at a rising delivery from Philander and was taken at second slip by a diving Kallis.

The two-match series is being played in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns in Pakistan.

Copyright © 2013, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand

Sep 102013
Late Wickets Give Pakistan The Edge
Tuesday 10 September 2013 

by Daniel Grummitt

Junaid Khan was the pick of the Pakistan attack, taking three wickets on day one in Harare.

REUTERS/Mike Hutchings. Picture Supplied by Action Images

Zimbabwe 237-8 (H Masakadza 75) v
Second Test, Harare

It is difficult to judge exactly who is on top after day one of the second Test in Harare. Zimbabwe closed on 237 for eight, but it should have been better after they had reached 141 for two. Pakistan’s seamers kept chipping away in the evening session, taking late wickets, meaning that it is probably they who end as the happier of the two teams.

It is hard to tell, though, as there was much talk in the build-up to this match about the likely state of the pitch. The groundsman was given only a short time to prepare it following the late decision to move the match from Bulawayo. Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor – returning from paternity leave – was perhaps influenced by those concerns and chose to bat upon winning the toss.

His presence in the side at the expense of Sikandar Raza was one of two changes to Zimbabwe’s line-up, with Brian Vitori refreshing the bowling attack after their exertions last week and replacing Shingi Maskadza. Richmond Mutumbami kept his place and will relieve Taylor of the wicket-keeping burden. Pakistan, meanwhile, were unchanged with Rahat Ali again preferred to Wahab Riaz.

It was the visitors who made the ideal start as Junaid Khan had Tino Mawoyo caught behind second ball. Rahat Ali then bowled Vusi Sibanda as Pakistan had the better of the early exchanges.

However, Zimbabwe’s two most experienced batsmen, Hamilton Masakadza and new father Brendan Taylor, combined to add 110 for the third-wicket. They batted responsibly in the face of a disciplined Pakistani attack – taking 218 balls to add the runs – but established a good position for their team.

Masakadza fell shortly before tea for 75 to first Test tormentor Saeed Ajmal, but 165 for three represented a solid showing for the hosts. Unfortunately, as in the first Test, they were unable to pull away from Pakistan and the tourists fought back.

Malcolm Waller and Richmond Mutumbami both fell to the highly impressive Junaid either side of Taylor’s dismissal at the hands of Abdur Rehman. Elton Chigumbura soon followed and it looked like the innings might be wrapped up tonight. However, Tinashe Panyangara hit 24 and added 31 with Prosper Utseya, who ended on 14 not out.

© Cricket World 2013

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Aug 292013
Zimbabwe vs Pakistan 2013: Hafeez helps Pakistan level series

A much confident Zimbabwe had won the toss, and put Pakistan to bat first, on what seemed a slightly green pitch. Pakistan started respectably, with Hafeez contributing with runs for them to post a total of 299, meaning Zimbabwe had to chase 300. The chase was a tough one, though Zimbabwe kept calm and had moments of brilliance; the target was really beyond their reach as they lost by 90 runs despite Brendan Taylor’s efforts.

Match-report: 2nd ODI: Zimbabwe vs Pakistan at Harare, August 29, 2013

With Pakistan at risk of losing the series Zimbabwe knew they would hit back strongly, and they did. Forced to bat first by Zimbabwe, Pakistan started lethargically. Zimbabwe grasped their first wicket, as Ahmed Shehzad reached a wide, pitched up delivery and handed it to the backward point fielder. He went for five but Nasir Jamshed and Hafeez carried Pakistan on vigilantly.

Jamshed and Hafeez, steadily, resurrected Pakistan. However, that was short-lived as Jamshed in the 14th over got out to Utseya’s straight ball. The next man in was Misbah Ul Haq – Pakistan’s man in form. Fan’s hoped he would continue his scintillating form and rescue Pakistan once again. A couple of maiden overs, and many dot balls saw Pakistan’s run rate steadily decreasing, until Hafeez relieved the pressure by hitting a big six over long on, shortly after being dropped. Two balls later Vitori had his second wicket, by removing Misbah.

After limping to 84/3 from 22 overs, Umar Amin walked in, to a crisis situation where there was no Misbah and no recognised batsman after the two at the crease, and the series was on the line. The two rotated the strike often, finding the gaps, and hitting the odd bad ball for a four. After Hafeez instilled confidence within Amin a burst of boundaries and maximum’s occurred. Umar Amin slammed a six over the bowler, Chatara’s, head with that he hit his first international six and landed himself to 40 from 57 balls. In the 42nd over Umar Amin got run out on 59.

After Amin’s dismissal an inconsistent yet flamboyant Afridi came to the crease. Through Afridi’s blistering 39 from just 23 balls and Hafeez’s 139 Pakistan reached a miraculous total of 299 runs. The chase would be a daunting task for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe, also, started their chase cautiously. Though losing their first wicket in the second over. Irfan bowled a quick short ball, which Sibanda tried to pull, but the keeper caught. This dismissal meant Zimbabwe would not have the luxury of their openers giving them an adequate start when they most needed it. The next man in for the home team was Taylor. He adjusted to the crease quickly as he hit Abdur Rehman for two consecutive fours.  His partner, Masakadza, belligerently pulled Mohammed Irfan for four. A couple of overs later, it was the same treatment but this time to Junaid khan, however after being hit for four Junaid bowled a length ball, Masakadza missed and uprooted his off stump. Both Maruma and William’s were dismissed for modest scores.

Taylor and Waller looked like they were going to win the game for their team, as they were hitting fours and sixes in quick succession. Pakistan were in need of a breakthrough. Saeed Ajmal provided that when he beat Taylor who had to depart for 70. The woes continued for Zimbabwe as Junaid Khan was brought back. He bowled a length ball, the inside edge headed to the stumps and Waller was to depart. A ball later through a rough decision Junaid Khan got his third wicket with Zimbabwe now crumbling for 201-7. Good death bowling from Abdur Rehman and Junaid Khan led Pakistan to victory as they bowled out Zimbabwe for 209 within 43 overs.

Scorecard: Pakistan 299/4 (Hafeez 136*; Vitori 2-68) beat Zimbabwe 209 (Taylor 79; Junaid 4-15) by 90 runs

Man of the Match: Mohammed Hafeez, Pakistan

Image credit: AFP

May 032013
Pakistan regroup for Champions Trophy camp
The Pakistan cricket team during a training session at their conditioning camp in Abbottabad, Pakistan, May 3, 2013

The Pakistan team train against the picturesque hills of Abbottabad © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Pakistan’s six-day conditioning camp ahead of the Champions Trophy began on Friday in Abbottabad. On the opening day at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, the team had a two-hour session, spending most of it in physical and fielding drills.

The stadium is at an altitude of 1260 metres above sea level, surrounded by hills, and the players wanted to ensure they acclimatised themselves with the conditions first. The forecast suggests that temperature will stay pleasant through the day, but could drop to single figures at night.

“The mood is pretty good here,” Dav Whatmore, the Pakistan head coach, told reporters. “We are very keen to extract as much as we can in the six days by training in the conditions, which are similar to where we are going to play much of our cricket in the next two months.

“We decided to come to Abbottabad, with its obviously cooler conditions, as it’s very warm in Lahore at the moment. We have also prepared pitches with grass on them to try and simulate conditions like those in England. While one cannot recreate it exactly, this is the best we have.”

The day started with fielding drills as Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq had a rigorous slip-catching session while rest of the players went through regular fielding practice. There wasn’t much bowling as the groundstaff worked on preparing the centre pitches for batting practice on Saturday.

Except Junaid Khan, all players picked for the Champions Trophy arrived for the camp, while five emerging fast bowlers were also called in to train with the national squad. Junaid, who lives in Swabi, about two hours away from Abbottabad, is expected to join the squad on Saturday.

Thirty minutes into the camp, Javed Miandad made an appearance. He said he was there to motivate players and had come on the request of the PCB chairman.

One of the sidelights of the day was the race between Nasir Jamshed and Saeed Ajmal. The usual sprinting drill was amusingly converted to a competition between the two, with the 35-year-old Ajmal beating the 23-year-old Jamshed by a big distance, leaving the latter out of breath.

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