Pakistan: No more international cricket at neutral venues

Pakistani and Sri Lankan skippers with Pakistan and Sri Lanka test series on Dec 10, 2019. (Photo Courtesy: PCB Twitter)
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Updated 10 December 2019

Pakistan: No more international cricket at neutral venues

  • Pakistan Cricket Board chief says the country is safe for international cricket
  • Pakistan’s decade-long isolation from hosting test cricket ends on Wednesday when Sri Lanka will play at Pindi Cricket Stadium

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan will no longer look for neutral venues to stage home international cricket matches.
“The onus will be on the other teams to tell us why they can’t play in Pakistan,” Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Our default position will remain that Pakistan is safe. We play cricket in Pakistan (and if) you want to play against Pakistan you have to come to Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s decade-long isolation from hosting test cricket ends on Wednesday when Sri Lanka will play at Pindi Cricket Stadium. The second test will be in Karachi from Dec. 19-23. The series is part of the world test championship.
Sri Lanka was the last team to play a test in Pakistan in 2009. Terrorists attacked the team’s bus in Lahore and eight people were killed. Several Sri Lanka players and team officials were injured. The ambush shut the door on international cricket in Pakistan. The PCB organized almost all of its home matches in the United Arab Emirates.
In the last four years, the PCB staged short limited-overs tours against the likes of Zimbabwe, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and a World XI to show the cricket world it could host tours safely. Sri Lanka agreed to play two test matches in Pakistan only after it visited Karachi and Lahore three months ago and played an incident-free series of one-day internationals and Twenty20s.
“It’s only logical that cricket comes home,” Mani said. “People have a perception of Pakistan which is very, very different to the reality of what is happening on the ground in Pakistan today.
“The concerns that people had about Pakistan, certainly for the last year or two, were not what the ground reality is.”
Top cricketing officials from Australia, England, Ireland, and the international players’ association have visited Pakistan in the last six months.
“When they see the ground reality, it’s a different attitude,” Mani said. “In fact, it was very nicely put by the chief executive of Cricket Ireland. He said, “I have to think of a reason why we shouldn’t be coming to Pakistan.’”
Mani said he’s had discussions with officials from Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board and he hoped that both countries will tour Pakistan in the next three years.
“I am absolutely confident that in 2021 we’ll have England and in 2022 we’ll have Australia,” he said.
“We’re not due to play New Zealand now till about 2023-24, but our default position is that Pakistan will play all its home matches in Pakistan.”
Despite the impending return of test cricket, Mani conceded there might not be a capacity crowd for the test, in stark contrast to the packed stadiums in Lahore in October when Sri Lanka whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in the T20 series.
“Look, test cricket had been losing (crowd) support in the subcontinent, in fact around the world apart from England and Australia,” he said.
“People prefer to go and watch the white-ball cricket (T20s and ODIs) but it doesn’t mean that people don’t follow test cricket. You’ll probably find that people watch test cricket at home on television and through the telephone or whatever these days as much as they’ve ever done.
“We haven’t had much time to do the marketing for this (Rawalpindi test) but going forward we’re going to be working very hard to ensure that we can get young people in with the schools and college students, support them to come at little or no cost, give them exposure to cricket.”


NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

Updated 08 August 2020

NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

  • Orlando and Washington are last two teams contending for one spot in the East
  • The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: The NBA playoff picture is getting a little clearer.
Brooklyn secured one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference on Friday, defeating Sacramento 119-106. That leaves Orlando and Washington as the last two teams contending for one spot in the East, with the Magic needing only one more win or one Wizards loss to clinch.
Orlando and Washington were both playing later Friday.
For the Nets, the clinching comes as something to savor in a topsy-turvy season.
Kevin Durant couldn’t play at all because of his recovery from Achilles surgery — yet still got a $1 million contract bonus because Brooklyn made the postseason. Kyrie Irving missed much of the year because of injury, the Nets had several regulars opt out of participating in the restart, changed coaches in March and have used 24 players so far this season.
“It’s great to punch our own ticket into the playoffs,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I joked with the guys: I like my laundry being done, but nothing like doing your own laundry.”
The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close, with teams vying to grab the No. 8 spot and play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. If the eighth- and ninth-place teams are within four games of one another when the seeding game schedule ends next week, there will be a two-game series to determine who gets the last playoff spot.
Should that series take place, the ninth-place team would have to go 2-0 in a best-of-two series to advance.
Memphis remained alone in eighth, after the Grizzlies snapped a four-game bubble losing streak by beating Oklahoma City on Friday 121-92. The Grizzlies are one game ahead of Portland in the West standings.
“We channeled what we’ve done all season long,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We played Grizzlies basketball. Grizzlies basketball equals Grizzlies wins, more often than not. We hadn’t done that in the first four games.”
San Antonio leaped idle Phoenix into 10th in the West by beating Utah 119-111, with the Spurs improving to 3-2 in the bubble. The Spurs (30-38) are one game behind Portland in the standings.
“At the end of the day, we can’t control what they’re doing,” Spurs center Jakob Poeltl said. “We can only control what we’re doing. We’re going to take every game as it comes. We’re going to try to win every game.”
Phoenix, Sacramento and New Orleans remain in the mix for a play-in series spot. The Suns, who are 4-0 at Disney, play Miami on Saturday.