Connect with us


Shakeel is Pakistan’s middle-order mainstay.



Saud Shakeel

This season, the people of Karachi have kept about the same distance from cricket as Marie Antoinette probably did from the people of Paris in the late 1700s, and it’s not like their team has given them much reason to rethink their lives. The day was Pakistan’s best of the whole series. They got a total of 253 runs and only lost six wickets. They won’t let New Zealand take the huge lead they were on the verge of getting when Imam-ul-Haq fell early this morning, even though victory still seems far away. But there were bread scraps (not cake scraps) for the few people who showed up today.

When Saud Shakeel becomes a steady presence in the middle order, which seems more likely than not, not many people will be able to say they were there when it happened. For example, watching Shakeel bat is like going to a wedding in Pakistan in the winter. You might not want to go, but when you look back, you’re glad you did. Shan Masood’s innings, on the other hand, are like a party you can drop in and out of without worrying about it getting boring.

Shakeel walked in after seeing Masood’s innings. He knew that sometimes things that aren’t fun need to be done. Since then, he worked methodically to take the fun out of the game and, likely along with it, New Zealand’s will to live. He didn’t score his first run until after 42 balls. Tim Southee and Matt Henry kept throwing him tempting balls outside off stump, but they might as well have been trying to feed a vegan beef steak.

He kept doing this at the start of the third day and all the way through. He would leave 75 of the 160 fast balls he faced and defend the other 37. Off the seam, only 30 runs were scored the whole innings. He left Daryl Mitchell standing there like he was Glenn McGrath in his prime, in the middle of a fight between Mitchell and Tom Blundell behind the wickets. Only one of the 38 balls he threw to Shakeel was hit for a run; the other 25 were let go.

Shakeel said at the end of the day, “The fast bowlers had a plan against me.” “They began the same way against me yesterday. I thought it was a good plan, so I decided to wait it out and try to score runs from the other end. That might explain why I slowed down a bit—I didn’t want to fall into that trap.

“Tim Southee was landing it outside off, and I kept leaving. And if I took a chance with that ball, I might get out, and we had already lost three wickets. They stuck to their plans and kept bowling that line, so hats off to them.”

Saud Shakeel
75 of the 160 balls Saud Shakeel encountered against pace he left alone.

But it’s not like he wasn’t scoring runs, because New Zealand’s lead in the first innings kept shrinking. That might have had more to do with Sarfaraz Ahmed’s smart counterattacking at his best, but Shakeel’s contribution was slowly getting better as well. A lot of it was against spin, and both Karachi boys at the crease used the sweep, which is a key part of their games, to great effect. He would do the most damage against Ish Sodhi. If he overpitched, he would be swept, and if he overcorrected, he would be punched through the covers off the back foot.

And during the whole time, Shakeel never worried about how often he hit. The results might be more boring than interesting to watch, but by his measure of success, he does very well. He was in charge of more than any other player, 93% of the 336 deliveries he faced. He is the kind of person who would act the same way no matter who he was with. For example, he would bat the same way for Pakistan in a Test match as for Sindh in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy. Not for him the flash of Bazball or Masood’s strategies of changing form. This is how he learned to hit, and he’s not going to stop doing it now. He might be like a Nokia 3310 in the age of smartphones, with all the excitement that implies. But it also makes it much harder to get past his defenses.

Because there are no phases to a Shakeel innings, it’s hard to remember when the runs were made. At this point, the runs he has under his belt feel more like they were worn down into his total than made. When he starts, he doesn’t seem nervous or eager to reach 50 years. In the same way, he didn’t feel nervous as he got close to his first hundred for Pakistan. When Michael Bracewell pitched one up, the slog-sweep that got him to 99 was all or nothing. This is where he got his first hundred in a first-class game and his first goal in an international game.

Even though the milestone was reached with a little nudge into the covers, that didn’t start a new phase of the innings. Shakeel slows down even more because he doesn’t want to give New Zealand any hope that their plan to get rid of him might work. He might not think that the real plan might be to tie him up and keep him from scoring runs while they work hard at the other end. Even though he only scores 15 runs in the next 85 balls after his century, New Zealand takes four wickets, which puts them in a good position to win the first innings.

Pakistan might not win any Tests at home during this terrible home season, but Shakeel’s rise up the batting order is like manna from heaven. As a cricket board and as a country, Pakistan always seems to be looking to the outside world for quick fixes. So the fact that their brightest light this season is a man from this city who would never take a short cut instead of working hard might be a good time to teach them something.


1000 Runs in ODIs: Kohli’s Cricket Legacy



1000 Runs in ODIs: Kohli's Cricket Legacy

On Thursday, November 2, Virat Kohli achieved an accomplishment. He became the batsman to surpass 1000 runs in ODIs in 2023, following in the footsteps of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma. Not that,. He also joined Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Pathum Nissanka as the fourth players to achieve this impressive record in the 50-over format within the same year.

Stepping into History with 1000 Runs in ODIs

Virat Kohli celebrating 1000 Runs in ODIs with a jump on the field

Entering the realm of history, Kohli’s unwavering determination and exceptional skills were put on display during his match in 2023. Notably, the cricket maestro, now 34 years old, made an indelible impact by surpassing Sachin Tendulkar‘s record, securing the most number of years with 1000 runs in ODIs. Kohli’s consistent ability to perform at such an exceptional level has been a defining characteristic of his illustrious career, as he had previously achieved this monumental milestone in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, and 2019, before accomplishing it once again in the present year of 2023.

An Unforgettable Journey

In an intense World Cup 2023 clash against Sri Lanka at the renowned Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Virat Kohli’s pursuit of this historic milestone was realized with an impressive 34 runs. Despite facing challenges, including a rare duck against England at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, his overall performance throughout the year has been nothing short of spectacular.

Kohli’s memorable journey was highlighted by an unbeaten century during India’s triumphant seven-wicket victory against Bangladesh at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune. Adding to his illustrious record, he solidified his stature with a brilliant 95 runs, making a significant contribution to India’s thrilling four-wicket win over New Zealand led by Tom Latham at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Pune.

Continue Reading


Shaheen Shah Afridi: Fastest to 100 ODI Wickets



Shah Afridi celebrating a wicket

Shaheen Shah Afridi, on Tuesday, October 31, achieved a remarkable feat, becoming the third fastest bowler to secure 100 wickets in ODIs. His outstanding performance during Pakistan’s World Cup 2023 match against Bangladesh at the renowned Eden Gardens in Kolkata led to this historic accomplishment.

A Landmark Moment

In the thrilling encounter, Shaheen clinched his 100th wicket in only his 51st match, dismissing Tigers’ opening batter Tanzid Hasan Tamim. The left-arm fast bowler displayed exceptional skill as he struck Tamim on the pads, prompting the on-field umpire to raise his finger. Despite Tamim’s referral to the third umpire using the Decision Review System (DRS), the replays confirmed the ball crashing into the stumps, upholding the on-field decision. Bangladesh lost their first wicket with the scoreboard reading 0 in just 0.5 overs.

Surpassing Preceding Records

Shaheen Shah Afridi not only secured this feat in record time but also outshone the accomplishments of esteemed bowlers preceding him. He surpassed the record of the fastest pacer, previously held by Mitchell Starc, who attained the milestone in August 2016 during an ODI against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

Legacy of Excellence

Moreover, Shaheen shattered the long-standing record held by Saqlain Mushtaq, becoming the fastest Pakistani bowler to claim 100 wickets in ODIs. Saqlain had set this record on May 12, 1997, during an ODI against Sri Lanka in Gwalior. It is notable that among the Pakistani fast bowlers, the accomplished Shaheen Shah Afridi follows in the footsteps of the legendary Waqar Younis, who achieved the 100-wicket mark back in February 1993 against Zimbabwe in Sharjah.

Beyond ODIs

Demonstrating his prowess beyond ODIs, Shaheen has made significant contributions in Tests and T20Is as well. Since his debut in 2018, he has garnered 105 wickets in Tests and 64 wickets in T20Is. His exceptional journey began with a strong performance in the U19 World Cup in New Zealand. Notably, he played a pivotal role in Lahore Qalandars’ consecutive victories in the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

A Testament to Talent and Dedication

Shaheen Shah Afridi’s rapid rise to 100 ODI wickets within 51 matches underlines his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to the sport. As he continues to leave an indelible mark on the cricketing world, his journey serves as an inspiration for aspiring cricketers worldwide. With his remarkable achievements, Afridi has solidified his place in the annals of cricket history, etching his name as one of Pakistan’s most formidable and promising fast bowlers.

Continue Reading


ICC World Cup: Shoaib Akhtar says, ‘Mai India ki tareef kyu na karu’



Shoaib Akhtar, former Pakistani fast bowler

Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has recently expressed admiration for India’s dominant performance in the ongoing 2023 ICC World Cup. With India securing victories in all six matches, Akhtar highlighted the team’s exceptional display across various aspects of the game. Although the recent batting performance against England in Lucknow was relatively modest, India’s fierce bowling attack, led by Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah, proved instrumental in securing a remarkable win. This triumph not only solidified India’s leading position on the points table but also exacerbated England’s struggles in the tournament, leaving them virtually eliminated.

Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Jasprit Bumrah laughing together on the field

India’s Remarkable Bowling Transformation

In his analysis, Akhtar emphasized the transformative impact of Shami’s inclusion in India’s playing eleven following Hardik Pandya’s injury. Acknowledging Shami’s outstanding performances against New Zealand and England, Akhtar credited India’s ability to win matches through their bowling prowess, showcasing a shift from their traditional reliance on batting strength. He commended the collective effort of the Indian bowling unit, particularly recognizing the strategic brilliance of fast bowler Bumrah.

The Indian cricket team is standing for the national anthem at the ICC World Cup

India’s Path to World Cup Glory

Looking ahead, Akhtar voiced his confidence in India’s potential to secure their third ODI World Cup trophy, highlighting the team’s upcoming matches against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and the Netherlands. Expressing optimism, he emphasized the significance of maintaining their unbeaten streak en route to the final, setting the stage for a potential historic ICC World Cup victory. However, Akhtar cautioned against compromising the successful bowling unit once Pandya returns to full fitness, warning against the potential detriment of a partially fit Pandya’s inclusion at the expense of a bowler.

Akhtar’s Praise for India and its Response to Criticism

Addressing skepticism surrounding his praise for the Indian team, Akhtar reiterated the exceptional nature of India’s performance, particularly in their ability to defend a modest total with a significant margin of victory. Undeterred by criticism, Akhtar reaffirmed his admiration for India’s exceptional cricketing prowess, urging acknowledgment and appreciation of their commendable achievements.

Virat Kohli gives a hand gesture on the field during a match

Shoaib Akhtar’s Perspective on Virat Kohli

Shifting focus, Akhtar’s history of praise extends beyond team performances to individual players, notably including former Indian team captain Virat Kohli. Reminiscing on Kohli’s resilience during a challenging phase in his career, Akhtar highlighted the pivotal role played by Kohli’s consistent century-scoring performances, leading to India’s victories. Recognizing Kohli’s contribution to the team’s success, Akhtar emphasized the significance of Kohli’s monumental centuries during crucial chases, solidifying his status as a crucial asset for the Indian cricket team.

In a comparison between Kohli and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Akhtar acknowledged Tendulkar’s status as one of the greatest batsmen while highlighting the challenges Tendulkar faced as a captain. Drawing parallels, Akhtar expressed confidence in Kohli’s eventual resurgence, expecting him to return to his prolific scoring form once he finds his equilibrium.

In summary, Akhtar’s acknowledgment of India’s exceptional performance and his recognition of individual players’ contributions underscore the team’s formidable presence in the 2023 ICC World Cup, setting the stage for a potential historic triumph in the coming days.

Continue Reading