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Babar Azam’s mother was on ventilator when Pakistan played India, reveals captain’s father

Babar Azam‘s mother was on a ventilator when the Pakistan skipper went about leading his team to a thumping victory over arch-rivals India in their T20 World Cup match in Dubai last Sunday.

This was revealed by the captain’s father, Azam Siddiqui, on Saturday.

The right-handed batter smashed an unbeaten 68 against India on the big day, even as his mother was put on a ventilator following a surgery.

Babar’s father has posted a message on his Instagram account saying that the Pakistan captain played all three World Cup games “in severe distress”.

“It’s time for my nation to know some truth. Congratulations to all of you on the victory in all the three games. There was a big test at our house. On the day the match was against India, on that day Babar’s mother was on a ventilator,” Azam Siddiqui wrote on Instagram.

“Babar played all three matches in severe distress. I don’t want to come here. It was supposed to be, but I came so that Babar may not get weak. It is by the grace of God that he is fine now,” he added, alongside a family photograph.

Pakistan are on the verge of qualifying for the semifinals of the T20 showpiece, having won all their matches so far, including the 10-wicket drubbing of India in their opener.

“The purpose of sharing is to not criticise our national heroes without any reason. And yes, I know, if I don’t get paradise. If you get a position, you have to give exams too. Long live Pakistan,” Siddiqui said.

Babar is captaining Pakistan for the first time in a global event and has done well so far, evidence of which is the team’s unbeaten run in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Pakistan next face Namibia on Tuesday.

T20 World Cup: India staring at league stage exit

Their campaign taking another hit with a second successive defeat, India will need to win all their remaining matches while hoping that other results go their way to keep their semifinal prospects alive in the T20 World Cup.

India and New Zealand were locked in a virtual quarter-final, from which the latter emerged triumphant following a convincing eight-wicket win, seven days after Virat Kohli’s men suffered a 10-wicket drubbing to arch-rivals Pakistan.

Virat Kohli’s men would now pray that Afghanistan beat New Zealand and India win their remaining three fixtures against Scotland, Namibia and the Afghanistan.

With the Indians scheduled to play the last game of the league stage, against Namibia, they might get an opportunity to improve their net run rate, provided other results favour them.

The loss against the Kiwis has pushed India on the brink of a league stage exit though technically they are still not out.

Pakistan have finished three big games and are expected to thrash Scotland and Namibia in their coming fixtures.

In the six-team Group 2, India are currently struggling at the fifth place with two losses after as many matches.

Pakistan lead the group with three wins in as many outings and they are followed by Afghanistan with two wins and a loss from three matches, and New Zealand in third place with a win and loss from two game.

Given Afghanistan’s potent spin attack, decent batting, and most importantly, their penchant for standing up to the bigger teams, they will be India’s bet against the New Zealanders.

The Afghans came close to winning their match against Pakistan before Asif Ali’s blitz put paid to their hopes.

T20 World Cup: England crush Australia by 8 wickets, inch closer to semifinals

Jos Buttler hammered a brutal 32-ball 71 not out to complement a superlative performance from the bowlers as England crushed Australia by eight wickets in their Super 12 match to inch closer to a semifinal spot at the T20 World Cup here on Saturday.

It was a thoroughly professional display by the ODI world champions as they bundled out Australia for 125 and then returned to overhaul the target of 126 in 11.4 overs to consolidate their top position in the Group 1 points table.

Buttler and Jason Roy (22) hammered the Australian bowlers all around the park to amass 66 runs for no loss in the powerplay, the highest by any team so far in the tournament.

Buttler was the most dangerous of the England batters as he slammed five fours and as many sixes during his unbeaten knock, which is the fastest fifty in the tournament till now.

Australia managed to get rid of Roy and Dawid Malan (8) but it made no difference as Jonny Bairstow joined Buttler in sending their opponents on a leather hunt.

Bairstow smashed two sixes off Adam Zampa during his unbeaten 10-ball 16 run innings as England reached 126 for 2 to win the match with 50 balls to spare.

England thus completed a hat-trick of wins, while Australia suffered their first loss of the tournament after beating South Africa and Sri Lanka in their previous two games.

Earlier, Chris Woakes (2/23) and Chris Jordan (3/17) rattled Australia’s top-order by removing opener David Warner (1), Steve Smith (1) and Glenn Maxwell (6) in the first four overs before skipper Aaron Finch (44 off 49 balls) resurrected the innings.

Ashton Agar (20), Pat Cummins (12) and Mitchell Starc (13) then hit some lusty blows at the death to give some respectability to the Australian total.

Woakes was in action early on as he induced a nick from Warner to deal the first blow and then pulled off a sensational catch at mid-on to remove Steve Smith off Jordan’s bowling.

Woakes then trapped Maxwell in front of wicket as Australia slumped to 15 for 3 in 4 overs.

Leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1/19), who had opened the bowling for England, then returned to trap Marcus Stoinis LBW with a googly as Australia were tottering at 21 for 4 in 6.1 overs.

Matthew Wade (18) then joined skipper Finch, taking Australia to 41 for four in 10 overs.

Wade, however, perished in the 12th over after holing out at long-on to Jason Roy off Liam Livingstone.

Finch smashed back-to-back boundaries to cream 10 runs off Tymal Mills, before picking up another boundary off Jordan in the next over.

Agar then exploded in the 17th over as he pulled one from Woakes over deep backward square leg before walloping him for another six over deep midwicket to score 20 runs of the over.

He was back to the pavilion after being caught by Livingstone (1/15).

Cummins then clobbered the first two balls he faced for maximums to give Australia momentum.

But Jordan returned to remove Finch and Cummins in successive balls.

Pakistan score hat-trick of wins to inch closer to T20 World Cup semifinals

Skipper Babar Azam hit a composed 51 while Asif Ali hit four sixes in the penultimate over as Pakistan completed a hat-trick of victories in the T20 World Cup with a five-wicket win over Afghanistan in a Super 12 Group 2 match, here on Friday.

Skipper Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib’s unbeaten knocks in a splendid rearguard action had steered Afghanistan to a competitive 147 for six after they were gasping at 76 for six.

Pakistan overhauled the target in 19 overs, a victory which consolidated their top spot in the points table and enhanced their semifinal chances with minnows Scotland and Namibia up next for them.

His side needing 24 runs from the last two overs, Asif Ali (25 off 7 balls) finished the job in 19th over, hitting four sixes off Karim Jannat.

Pakistan lost Mohammad Rizwan (8) to Mujeeb Ur Rahman early in their chase but Azam and Fakhar Zaman (30) kept the innings under control with their 63-run stand.

Mujeeb was exceptional upfront for Afghanistan as he conceded only 14 runs in his four-over spell but Pakistan batters scored runs off other bowlers.

World’s top leg-spinner Rashid Khan carried Afghanistan’s hopes but by the time he came to bowl Pakistan had put 72 runs on board in 10 overs.

His magic was on work though as he got rid of Mohammad Hafeez (10) to complete a century of wickets in T20 Internationals.

He gave away only 26 runs in his four overs with most of the Pakistan batters playing him with caution.

Shoaib Malik (19) though launched Rashid for a massive six in his last over in which Azam was dropped by Naveen ul haq. However, the Pakistan skipper was bowled off a googly in the last ball.

Azam’s 47-ball knock had only four shots to the fence as he mostly moved the ball around.

Malik ended up caught behind when he flashed hard on a widish ball from Naveen, giving an easy catch to Mohammad Shahzad. Asif was at the crease and he did not disappoint his side.

Earlier, Pakistan’s expansive attack dominated the proceedings but Nabi (35) and Naib (35) seized the momentum with their big-hearted effort under pressure and prevented it from becoming a one-sided contest.

They added 71 runs in 7.1 overs with 43 coming in the last three overs.

It all started when they creamed 21 runs from the 17th over bowled by Hasan Ali. Together they hit 10 boundaries.

However, initially Shaheen Afridi’s probing yorkers, Haris Rauf’s variation and the control of Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan tested the batters of Afghanistan, who opted to bat.

Pacer Afiridi created pressure on Afghan batters straightaway with his toe-targeting fiery first over and left-arm spinner Wasim followed that up with another tight over upfront.

The dot-ball pressure got the better of Hazratullah Zazai (0), who went after Wasim and ended up giving a catch to Haris Rauf.

Mohammad Shahzad (8) lifted Afridi’s overpitched ball in the cover region to get the first boundary of the team but could not clear the mid-on one ball later to start his walk back to the dug out.

Realising that it will be difficult to score off Afridi, former skipper Asghar Afghan (10) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (10) targeted Wasim and collected 17 runs from his next over, both hitting him for a six each.

However, Afghan’s stay was cut short by Rauf while Gurbaz was sent back by Hasan Ali.

Afghan’s younger brother Jannat (15) came to the crease and together with Najibullah Zadran (22) had the responsibility to keep afloat his side, which was tottering at 39 for four inside Powerplay overs.

It kept getting worse for Afghanistan as neither the runs came at a good pace and they kept losing wickets.

Jannat and Zadran were scalped by Wasim and Shadab respectively, leaving Nabi with a difficult task to put enough runs on the board to defend, which he did with Naib.

( Originally published on Oct 29, 2021 )

Full house at eateries, theatres for India-Pakistan match

Live screenings of the India-Pakistan cricket clash on Sunday at the ICC men’s T20 World Cup, the first big sporting event after the full reopening of bars, restaurants, clubs and theatres, are either sold out or rapidly getting booked up at a majority of locations, executives said.

“This is a clash awaited by a quarter of the world’s population,” said Rahul Singh, promoter of Beer Cafe, which operates more than 30 outlets across the country. “Going by the bookings, this looks set to translate into a mega consumption event for F&B.”

The Maharashtra government had announced earlier this week that restaurants and eateries can remain open till midnight. Maharashtra is among the biggest markets for cinema halls and dining out. Curbs in other large markets such as Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Punjab and Chennai had been lifted earlier.

PVR chief executive Gautam Dutta said the theatre chain is screening the match live at over 75 cinema screens in more than 35 cities, with a “stadium ambience,” including cheer girls and staff in sports gear. The response has been overwhelming, according to him.

“The live match screenings at our cinemas in Maharashtra coincide with the state reopening its cinemas. For Sunday’s match, 80% tickets of allotted seats have already been booked,” Dutta said.

PVR, which is screening World Cup matches featuring India, the semi-finals and finals, is expecting the same traction in other markets like Delhi over the next two days.

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India’s first match in the tournament is against Pakistan. It has prompted scattered calls for a boycott owing to the heightened tension between the two nations.

Industry executives said the sporting clash between the two rivals will set the tone for festive season entertainment.

“The match is sold out at bars we are running the screenings on,” said Priyank Sukhija, promoter of First Fiddle F&B, which operates brands such as Lord of the Drinks and Warehouse. “And this is not just about pent-up demand, though it is a contributing factor in people wanting to move out of homes for entertainment. Even pre-Covid, all India-Pakistan live one-day match screenings have been sold out.”

First Fiddle is holding live screenings at about 15 of its outlets in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Cinema chain Inox Leisure, which is screening the match in 25 cities and 50 screens, said it’s equipped to increase this number, depending on demand. Inox has roped in Nissan as presenting sponsor.

“We have received phenomenal response at all the locations where we have opened the bookings, including interest from corporate group bookings,” said Anand Vishal, chief sales and revenue officer, Inox Leisure. “With cricket being followed in every nook and corner of the country, the response has been alike in both metros as well as non-metros.”

Five-star hotel chains have also joined the bandwagon. Travel tech company Booking.com created the T20 Pavilion, a cricket stay at Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences. The accommodation, priced at INR 6,666 is already sold out. Bookmyshow is also selling tickets for drive-in live screenings at sports clubs and smaller hotels and cafes are offering “match menus”.

Broadcaster Star and Disney India said it has sold out all advertising inventory for the clash on TV and streaming platforms.

“This is the first edition of the T20 World Cup to be held during the festive season. Clubbed with patriotic fervour and fight for national pride, we are anticipating high engagement levels across demographics,” said Nitin Bawankule, head, ad sales, Star and Disney India. “The match is bound to have the entire nation hooked and the non-India games too are expected to catch viewers’ attention across both linear and digital.”

The last time the two sides clashed was in the ICC 50-over World Cup in 2019. The two sides are facing each other after a gap of over two years. The tournament is being held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

T20 WC: India-Pakistan clash will be ‘dogfight’, one side won’t run away with game, says Hayden

Pakistan batting consultant Matthew Hayden on Thursday said that the T20 World Cup clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan will be a ‘dogfight’, and one team would not run away with the game.

India will open its T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.

“One side is not going to run away with the game here. It’s a dogfight. The conditions and margins for error will be very little. And so, good leadership will be the key. Babar commands that presence and commands that role. In the batting sense as well, he is the premium player. He will be targeted,” said Hayden during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“He will be the person who every player would want to put in his pockets. There will be pressure on him both as a captain and as a batsman. But I sense that the way he will go about with it will be spot on,” he added.

Talking about the rivalry between India and Pakistan, Hayden said: “Nothing that I have ever seen through the various elements of our game ever matches the rivalry of India and Pakistan. There is an obvious pressure much like the pressure that’s there when you play against England for Australia. But the pressure is only as much as you allow it to be. Your preparation is there, your experience is there, your opportunity now becomes a history-making opportunity.”

“We can present all the stats, do all our homework and research, but nothing can replace all the stuff that we all dream about, or coach about and commentate on which will be the game itself. I can sense that the players are waiting for that opportunity. I can sense that there is a sense of calm about that. It’s now the opportunity of playing the game,” he added.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup, Hayden was appointed as Pakistan’s batting consultant while former Proteas pacer Vernon Philander was roped in as bowling consultant.

“I would have never thought in my wildest dream that I would be sitting inside the Pakistan dressing room,” said Hayden.

India won its both warm-up games ahead of the T20 World Cup. The Men in Blue defeated England by seven wickets while the side registered an eight-wicket triumph over Australia.

T20 WC: India-Pakistan clash will be ‘dogfight’, one side won’t run away with game, says Hayden

Pakistan batting consultant Matthew Hayden on Thursday said that the T20 World Cup clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan will be a ‘dogfight’, and one team would not run away with the game.

India will open its T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.

“One side is not going to run away with the game here. It’s a dogfight. The conditions and margins for error will be very little. And so, good leadership will be the key. Babar commands that presence and commands that role. In the batting sense as well, he is the premium player. He will be targeted,” said Hayden during a virtual press conference on Thursday.

“He will be the person who every player would want to put in his pockets. There will be pressure on him both as a captain and as a batsman. But I sense that the way he will go about with it will be spot on,” he added.

Talking about the rivalry between India and Pakistan, Hayden said: “Nothing that I have ever seen through the various elements of our game ever matches the rivalry of India and Pakistan. There is an obvious pressure much like the pressure that’s there when you play against England for Australia. But the pressure is only as much as you allow it to be. Your preparation is there, your experience is there, your opportunity now becomes a history-making opportunity.”

“We can present all the stats, do all our homework and research, but nothing can replace all the stuff that we all dream about, or coach about and commentate on which will be the game itself. I can sense that the players are waiting for that opportunity. I can sense that there is a sense of calm about that. It’s now the opportunity of playing the game,” he added.

Ahead of the T20 World Cup, Hayden was appointed as Pakistan’s batting consultant while former Proteas pacer Vernon Philander was roped in as bowling consultant.

“I would have never thought in my wildest dream that I would be sitting inside the Pakistan dressing room,” said Hayden.

India won its both warm-up games ahead of the T20 World Cup. The Men in Blue defeated England by seven wickets while the side registered an eight-wicket triumph over Australia.

His presence, eye for intricate details will increase our confidence: Kohli on team mentor Dhoni

His mere presence aside, Indian team mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni‘s “eye for intricate details” and “practical advice” will help in enhancing the confidence of the squad in the T20 World Cup here, captain Virat Kohli said on Saturday.

Iconic former captain Dhoni was last month brought in as mentor of India’s 15-member T20 World Cup squad by the BCCI, a move that took everyone by surprise.

During a pre-tournament media interaction organised by the ICC, Kohli, who is still chasing a world title as skipper of the Indian team, expressed his delight at Dhoni’s appointment.

“He has got massive experience. He is quite excited himself. He has always been a mentor for all of us. Younger guys who are playing their first major tournaments at early stages of career will benefit,” Kohli said during the media session.

“His eye for intricate details and practical advice will help improve the game by one or two per cent. Absolutely delighted to have him…(His) presence will not only boost morale but also increase confidence that we already have,” he added.

Dhoni won the

IPL

title for a fourth time with Chennai Super Kings on Friday.

T20 World Cup: Failure to produce high-scoring wickets could hurt viewer retention

The T20 World Cup matches are set to move to the UAE after the initial group stage games in Oman. Interestingly, four matches were played in Abu Dhabi and while two games had batsmen scoring runs, two games saw low scores. And as the Sharjah Cricket Stadium gears up to host its first game of the tournament on Friday, all eyes are on the wickets — not just at the venue, but also in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The low-scoring games in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League weren’t the best possible advertisement when it comes to building viewership. And stakeholders would hope for the ground staff to have worked some magic in the eight days — the last

IPL

game in Sharjah was on Oct 13 — leading into the first T20 World Cup game on Friday between Ireland and Namibia.

Industry sources in the know of television viewership patterns believe that while a hardcore cricket analyst might be as intensely connected to a low-scoring game as he/she is to a high-scoring T20 match, the general fans love watching sixes and fours and relevant wickets – top batsmen. And as a result, retaining viewers will be a challenge if pitches don’t produce high scores.

“The difference in viewership isn’t much between a game which has scores of 160-180 or a 150-180 score and a 200 to 250 score. But the difference between a game where only 130-135 has been scored and a game that has 170 is massive as the belief is that action for viewers to consume is sixes, fours and wickets. Nobody will mind a 180 all out with 10 wickets falling as there is a lot of action. But if you get 120 all out, that is perceived to be a boring game because not enough sixes and fours have been hit.

“A 90 all out in one way shows a lot of wickets, but there isn’t enough fours and sixes, so the action is muted. Relevant action is sixes, fours and wickets that count – till batsman number five or six. A lower-order batsman hitting a six excites fans more than a number 9 batsman getting dismissed by a beautiful delivery,” the source told ANI.

Another industry source went on to describe how the viewership pattern builds to further explain the reason for the need to have high-scoring games.

“T20 has to be accepted as a sport as an entertainment format first. And it isn’t wrong to term it entertainment because even a good book can be entertainment for someone who loves reading books. You have to engage viewers. The way that viewership builds for a T20 is it starts low in the first over, keeps building and reaches its peak in the first innings towards the end and then drops a little in the break, then builds significantly higher to the end of the second innings, especially if it is a good chase.”

“What happens in a game if a team scores only 30 in the first five overs or say three or four wickets fall? The impression a viewer gets is that it will be a boring game. Not every fan watches the full game, they watch it in sessions of 15-20 minutes. So, the impression the moment it is a low-scoring affair is that it will be a boring game and there is no point coming back unless it gets really close towards the end. You lose them in the middle part completely. And there might be no return once the attention has been perted. It hampers viewership build-up during the game,” the source explained.

A third industry source said the fact remains that 80 per cent of the most popular cricketers are batsmen and that is why fans want them to succeed.

“If you make the list of 20 most popular cricketers, 80 per cent are batsmen. If we count the three most popular cricketers in the IPL, they are Dhoni, Kohli and Rohit. This isn’t cooked up. If you look at the foreign favourites, it is again Gayle, ABD and maybe Maxwell. So apart from a Bumrah or a Cummins, you see more popular cricketers being batsmen. So, if 80 per cent of your popular cricketers are batsmen, you would want them to do well. If there were more characters like a Bumrah and Cummins, things could have been different,” the industry source signed off.

T20 World Cup: India favourites to win tournament, KL Rahul to be top run-scorer, says Brett Lee

Former Australia pacer Brett Lee reckons that India are the favourites to win the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. India will open its T20 World Cup campaign against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai. Lee has also picked KL Rahul as the top run-scorer of the tournament, while he also picked Mohammed Shami as the leading wicket-taker.

“But saying that, I think India are probably the favourites with their top four or five batters and their bowling attack. I have KL Rahul down as the top run-scorer in the tournament and Mohammed Shami to be the leading wicket-taker, purely going on the last few months. So if they deliver and India have one of the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers, it’s a good start,” Lee wrote in his column for International Cricket Council (ICC).

“But I’m confident Australia can do it and it all starts against South Africa – a brilliant match to start what will hopefully be a brilliant tournament for the Baggy Greens,” he added.

The former Australia pacer also said that the Aaron Finch-led side has a strong chance of winning the tournament provided David Warner and Mitchell Starc have a good show with the bat and ball.

“For me, the expectation is that Australia will go and win the tournament. I know they might be high expectations but if you don’t go and set the bar very high, you are not going to succeed. We have not had a lot of success in this format – it is time we changed it and we do have a side that can take it all the way. It obviously won’t be easy, especially when you look at how strong teams like England, India and New Zealand are,” Lee said.

“But this Australian side is loaded with talent and for me, the key is David Warner. I would like to say he is saving the runs for the games that count after his IPL form! He was really harshly dealt with there and it may have knocked some confidence out of him but he thrives on the big stage. Everything should be rosy for him here, class is permanent. I will also put a lot of weight behind Mitchell Starc. There has been some debate in the last year about Starc being past his best but he would be in my team every single time, Josh Hazlewood has had a good IPL and Pat Cummins is a superstar. He is the David Beckham of the team, whatever he touches turns to gold,” he added.

Australia will open its T20 World Cup campaign against South Africa at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.