Wahab Riaz expects ‘tough game’ as Peshawar face Islamabad in first PSL eliminator today  

Peshawar Zalmi' captain Wahab Riaz (L) appeals successfully for a leg before wicket (LBW) against Multan Sultans' captain Mohammad Rizwan (R) during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket match between Multan Sultans and Peshawar Zalmi at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on February 10, 2022.(AFP)
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Updated 24 February 2022

Wahab Riaz expects ‘tough game’ as Peshawar face Islamabad in first PSL eliminator today  

  • Peshawar Zalmi to take on two-time PSL champions Islamabad United today
  • Winner of today’s Eliminator will then face Lahore Qalandars for a place in the final

KARACHI:  Peshawar Zalmi captain Wahab Riaz has said he expects a “tough game” against two-time Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United as the teams lock horns in the first PSL Eliminator today, Thursday.  
The match is scheduled to begin at 7:30pm tonight.  
In its seventh year, the PSL has become a phenomenal success in the cricket-obsessed nation of 220 million.
Speaking to Arab News, Riaz said Islamabad United were one of the best sides ane he expected a “high-pressure game” against them.  
Both teams have faced each other twice in this year’s HBL PSL7, with both winning one match each: Islamabad defeated Peshawar by 9 wickets while Peshawar won the next match against Islamabad by 10 runs.  
“It is going to be a tough game, Islamabad are one of the best sides and they are going to come hard at us but it will be a good high-pressure game and I think the team which will absorb the pressure [better] will be the winners,” Riaz said.  
Peshawar, one of the most popular PSL franchises, has qualified for the final four times in total, a record in itself. Zalmi won the trophy in the second edition of the tournament which took place in 2017. Peshawar Zalmi has also been the only PSL team that has qualified for the playoffs stage in every PSL, this time being no exception.
As far as Zalmi’s record for this year’s PSL goes, the “Yellow Storm” have won 6 of their 10 matches to secure 12 points. While they share the same number of points with Lahore Qalandars, the Riaz-led side has to face Islamabad in the eliminator due to its comparatively poor run rate.  
An impressive run rate helped Qalandars secure the second position on the points table, taking them to the qualifiers. Lahore will face the winners of today’s match in the second eliminator on Friday, the winner of which will face Multan Sultans in the final on Sunday.  
The Zalmi skipper has been the most successful PSL bowler, taking 103 wickets from 76 matches in all seven seasons. His nearest contenders are Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi, who have bagged 78 and 65 wickets, respectively.  
His performance in the Karachi leg was not up to the mark.  
“I think the major difference to my performance [occurred] when I came to Lahore,” he said. “It happens to a cricketer sometimes when you are out of form, but you need to peak at the right time.”
“I think I'm getting that confidence and most probably, it will work out in the playoffs and the final,” Wahab, who bowled a brilliant super over against Lahore on Monday, said.  
Similarly, it was the Lahore leg that provided much-needed momentum to Zalmi, which had performed poorly in Karachi matches. Peshawar had only won two of the five matches they played in Karachi. Zalmi picked up their games in the Lahore-leg of the tournament, losing only one of their five matches there. Riaz credited his team for this comeback.  
“I think credit goes to the team, the way the team has played” he said. “They were under pressure after [first] five games but when they came [in here] and played in Lahore, I think as a team we did really well,” he added, saying consistency had been the main reason for Zalmi’s success in Lahore.  
“We try to keep the same team every year so that it's easy to communicate, because it's only one month and you know your players, [especially the ones] who are your match winners,” he added.  
The Zalmi skipper showered praise on Muhammad Haris, who has earned praise from critics and fans alike for taking on bowlers confidently. Speaking of the batter, Riaz said Haris was a “very impactful player”.  
“This PSL is all about opportunities. And I think he has grabbed it with both hands and made a great contribution to the team,” he said.  
Speaking about the upcoming T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia that will take place in October and November 2022, Riaz said his favorite team to lift the trophy are Pakistan.  
“Obviously, I’ll rate Pakistan as one of the best teams,” he said.  
He expressed his happiness at Australia’s upcoming tour of Pakistan, saying it will benefit the prospects of international cricket in Pakistan.  
“It is a great opportunity for the people of Pakistan and for Pakistan [the country]. After so long, an Australian side is coming to Pakistan. It’s a great initiative by the Pakistan Cricket Board to bring the Australian team to play here and it will really help the cause of Pakistan cricket in future.”

Pakistan concludes Hajj flights, all 83,312 pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

Updated 7 sec ago

Pakistan concludes Hajj flights, all 83,312 pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia

  • 34,453 pilgrims traveled under government scheme and over 48,000 through private operators
  • 52 flights have utilized the Route to Makkah immigration facility at Islamabad airport this year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s director-general of Hajj in Jeddah said on Tuesday the country’s Hajj flight operation was complete and all 83,312 Pakistani pilgrims had arrived in Saudi Arabia. 

One of Islam’s five main pillars of faith, the Hajj was restricted over pandemic fears to only 1,000 people living in the Kingdom in 2020 and to 60,000 domestic participants last year, compared with the pre-pandemic 2.5 million pilgrims annually. 

This year, after Saudi Arabia lifted COVID-19 restrictions, the kingdom will welcome one million domestic and foreign pilgrims. A quota of 81,132 pilgrims was initially allocated for Pakistan this year, which was later increased by 2,000.

“Our Hajj flights have been completed and all 83,312 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Makkah,” DG Hajj, Abrar Ahmed Mirza, told Arab News over the phone from Makkah.

He said 34,453 pilgrims had traveled under the government scheme and over 48,000 through private operators.

“We are now giving them training on Hajj rituals which are starting from Wednesday especially preparing them for Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah where pilgrims from all over the world move at the same time,” Mirza said.

Haseeb Ahmed Siddiqui, the director of the Hajj Complex in Islamabad, said 52 flights had utilized the Route to Makkah facility at Islamabad airport this year. 

The Route to Makkah initiative allows pilgrims to fulfil all immigration requirements at the airport of origin. This saves them several hours upon reaching the kingdom since they can enter the country, having already gone through immigration at home. 

“17,077 pilgrims proceeded to the Kingdom under Route to Makkah project using 52 flights this year,” Siddiqui told Arab News.

Adeel Ahmed, a pilgrim from Rawalpindi, said he had no words to express his happiness at being selected for the pilgrimage.

“My name was not part of the first draft and I got a chance at the last moment,” Ahmed told Arab News. “I am unable to share my feelings and happiness as Allah has granted me this privilege to fulfill my dream.” 

Sumera Kiran, another pilgrim from Rawalpindi, expressed satisfaction with arrangements at the airport.

“The [Saudi] government and Pakistani authorities have done very good arrangements at the airport,” she said, adding that she had received her luggage at the hotel.

Pakistan central bank may raise rates by 125 bps to tame 13-year high inflation

Updated 05 July 2022

Pakistan central bank may raise rates by 125 bps to tame 13-year high inflation

  • The South Asian nation is wrestling with economic turmoil, a fall in reserves and a weakening currency
  • Another hike would increase government debt servicing costs as well as hurt industries, says an economist

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank looks set to raise its key policy rate by 125 basis points at its review on Thursday, as it attempts to tackle 13-year high retail inflation, according to the median estimate in a snap poll of 10 economists and market watchers. 

The economists, analysts and senior professors surveyed were widely split on the quantum of increase by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), with views ranging from 50 to 200 basis points. 

Two respondents did not see a need for a rate increase. 

The central bank raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 bps in May, taking the total increase to 400 bps so far this year to counter rising inflation. 

The South Asian nation is wrestling with economic turmoil, a fall in reserves and a weakening currency. 

Data on Friday showed consumer prices in June leapt 21.3 percent from a year earlier, largely on account of a 90 percent spike in fuel prices since the end of May after the government scrapped costly fuel subsidies. 

With the current policy rate at 13.75 percent and inflation running well above, real interest rates in the economy have turned sharply negative. 

“The last monetary policy committee statement is proof that the State Bank of Pakistan is way behind the curve on anticipating inflation,” said Yousuf Nazar, an economist who writes for various publications and formerly with Citigroup. 

“Another hike would increase government debt servicing costs as well as hurt industries. 

It is not going to have much of an impact on exchange rate or overall demand,” he added. 

Most believed a hike was inevitable, given persistently high global energy prices, the abrupt ending of fuel subsidies as well as the need to control demand after SBP said in its last policy statement the economy had rebounded much more strongly than anticipated. 

“The overall policy mix is geared toward stabilization and demand management,” CEO of Macro Economic Insights Sakib Sherani said, adding that this will induce a sharp slowdown in the economy, possibly a recession, in the short run. 

But Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, said he does not see the need to increase rates further. 

“The economy is already slowing down. The layoffs have started and are expected to increase further. 

Further cost pressures would only enhance the burden on industries and workers,” Rauf said. 

“The fiscal arm is working now, tough measures have been taken. SBP needs to wait for the results before further tightening,” he added. 

With Pakistan expecting a restart of the much-awaited bailout package from the International Monetary Fund after the country agreed on some tough economic policy adjustments to promote stability, the SBP’s decision is being closely watched. 

Dubai-bound Indian airline plane makes ‘emergency landing’ in Karachi

Updated 05 July 2022

Dubai-bound Indian airline plane makes ‘emergency landing’ in Karachi

  • India’s SpiceJet airline says plane diverted to Karachi due to indicator light malfunctioning
  • The B737 aircraft landed at Karachi airport at around 9am where it’s currently being repaired

ISLAMABAD: A Dubai-bound Indian airline plane on Tuesday made an “emergency landing” in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said. 

The B737 aircraft flew from New Delhi for Dubai this morning, according to the PCAA. The pilot requested Pakistani aviation authorities for an “emergency landing” because of a fuel leak. 

“An aircraft of SpiceJet going from Delhi to Dubai sought permission for emergency landing which was granted and the aircraft with 138 passengers on board landed at Karachi airport after 9am today,” PCAA spokesman Saifullah told Arab News. 

“The aircraft was diverted to Karachi airport for landing after fuel leakage.” 

SpiceJet, however, said the plane was diverted due to “indicator light malfunctioning.” 

“No emergency was declared and the aircraft made a normal landing. There was no earlier report of any malfunction with the aircraft,” the airline said in a series of tweets. 

“A replacement aircraft is being sent to Karachi that will take the passengers to Dubai.” 

The PCAA spokesman said all passengers had been moved to the transit longue of the airport, where they were provided food and refreshments. 

“The aircraft is currently being repaired,” Saifullah added. 

England to tour Pakistan for first time in 16 years from September 15

Updated 05 July 2022

England to tour Pakistan for first time in 16 years from September 15

  • England and Wales Cricket Board security team expected in Pakistan later this month to assess arrangements
  • Tour originally scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi last October but England had called off their visit

ISLAMABAD: Lahore and Karachi are likely to host seven T20Is between Pakistan and England from September 15 to October 2, ESPN cricinfo reported on Monday, quoting the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman. 

PCB is yet to announce the fixtures for the series, which will be the first instance of England touring Pakistan in 16 years. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board’s three-member security team is expected to arrive in Pakistan later this month to assess arrangements, the cricket website said. 

The matches were originally scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi last October but England had called off their visit, following New Zealand doing the same at the last minute over security issues. 

Though Pakistan have Multan and Rawalpindi as other venues to consider, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja said the schedule is “very tight and we can’t go elsewhere.” 

The upcoming series is significant as England have not toured Pakistan since 2005 and two of Pakistan’s home series in 2012 and 2016 were forced to be played in the UAE. 

After England decided to withdraw their men’s and women’s teams from tours to Pakistan last year, Raja had hit out at cricket’s “western bloc.” 

The ECB cited bubble fatigue and “increasing concerns about traveling to the region” to pull out of the series. 

Following the series with England, Pakistan will depart for New Zealand on October 4 to participate in a T20I tri-series (also involving Bangladesh) in Christchurch from October 7 to 14.  

England, meanwhile, will return to Pakistan following the 2022 T20 World Cup for a three-Test series in November as part of the World Test Championship. 

England’s new white-ball captain Jos Buttler last week said he did not expect to have his best team available for the series due to fixture congestion. England’s red-ball players are unlikely to be available at the start of the limited-overs series in Pakistan, with England’s third Test against South Africa due to finish on September 12. 

Torrential rains kill nine, including women and children, in southwest Pakistan 

Updated 24 min 3 sec ago

Torrential rains kill nine, including women and children, in southwest Pakistan 

  • More than 300 mud houses were destroyed in Quetta after Monday’s downpours in southwestern Balochistan 
  • Five people, including two young girls, went missing after a flash flood hit the city’s Bhosa Mandi area 

QUETTA: At least nine people, including women and children, were killed as torrential rains wreaked havoc in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan on Monday, officials said. 

The rains, which came with the onset of monsoon season in southwest Pakistan, destroyed hundreds of mud houses in the provincial capital of Quetta. 

In an alert this week, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said strong monsoon currents, which were likely to prevail for 10 days, could trigger flash floods in Balochistan and southern Sindh provinces. 

“Seven people, including three children and two women, were killed after monsoon rains hit Quetta city on July 04, 2022, while more than 300 mud houses collapsed in different neighborhoods of the city,” Naseer Khan Nasir, director-general of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), told Arab News. 

“We have recovered two bodies in the flood-hit Eastern Bypass area, while rescue operation is still continued in various areas affected by torrential rains.” 

He said more than 13 people were injured in different rain-related incidents, while two young girls among five others had gone missing after a flash flood hit Bhosa Mandi area of the city. 

Nasir said rescue teams were searching for the missing persons, while the district administration was distributing relief goods among people affected by the downpours. 

Sevak Kumar, who hails from Thul area of Sindh, lost six of his family members after a wall collapsed on their tent accommodation on Quetta’s Link Badini Road. 

“The family members were sitting inside the tent when the mud wall collapsed due to heavy rain,” said Kumar, who along with his family came to work as laborers. “The women and children were killed on the spot.” 

The rains affected telecommunication and power supply remained suspended for more than nine hours as 53 out of 90 electricity feeders tripped across the city. 

Hameed Khan Awan, a Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QESCO) official, said supply through major feeders in the city had been restored, but nearly two dozen feeders were still not functional and QESCO staffers were working on them. 

“The rains caused a breakdown in the city as dozens of electricity pylons collapsed in different areas,” Awan said. “Efforts are now under way to restore supply to areas on the outskirts of Quetta.” 

The Quetta district administration has established a flood emergency control room to monitor and address any emergency situation in the city and adjacent areas. 

According to the Met Office, Quetta has so far received 22 millimeters of rain. 

Provincial Minister Mir Zia Langove, who oversees the PDMA, said the government was making relief efforts during the monsoon spell. 

“PDMA teams have reached all major affected areas and distributed food and goods among people rendered homeless after Monday’s downpour,” he told reporters in Quetta.