Shades of '92 for Pakistan ahead of Twenty20 World Cup final

The collage of photos shows former prime minister and captain for Pakistani cricket team Imran Khan (left) and skipper Babar Azam. (Photo courtesy: AFP)
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Updated 11 November 2022
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Shades of '92 for Pakistan ahead of Twenty20 World Cup final

  • Pakistan defeated England at Melbourne Cricket Ground to claim its first World Cup title in 50-over format
  • For some, it’s difficult to fathom how the stars aligned for Babar and Khan in Australia three decades apart

Pakistan is back at the venue where the legend of the cornered tigers was forged 30 years ago, and England is again the final foe. 

There are so many similarities between this unlikely run to the Twenty20 World Cup final and the one inspired by Imran Khan in 1992, when Pakistan beat England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to claim its first World Cup title in the 50-over format. 

There are also differences, of course. For a start, skipper Babar Azam is not 39 years old. 

Khan was that age, and in the twilight of his career, when he described his team as cornered tigers and went on to lead them to that triumphant win over England in the final. 

Babar is 28, but he could match Khan’s feat at the MCG on Sunday when his team yet again meets red-hot favorite England — this time cricket format which was non-existent in the 90s. 

For some, it’s difficult to fathom how the stars aligned for Babar and Khan in Australia three decades apart. 

For instance, both Babar and Khan lost their opening round games at the MCG; arch-rival India got the better of them in 1992 and 2022. Pakistan went on to win their last three games ahead of the semifinals on both occasions, but both Babar and Khan had to bank heavily on the results of other games to go through to the knockout stage on the last day of the group stage. 

New Zealand was the opponent in both semifinals, with the Kiwis batting first both times. And top it all, England trounced top-ranked India by 10 wickets in the second semifinal on Thursday so that Pakistan could tick another box in the retelling of the story. 

“Sensational performance,” Pakistan’s team mentor Matthew Hayden, a former Australia opener, told Babar and his teammates in the locker room after Wednesday’s seven-wicket semifinal win over New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground. “It was just an extraordinary effort.” 

Hayden told a news conference Friday that the 1992 World Cup was important for Pakistan and the game globally because it “was the emergence of another superpower under one of the most influential cricketers of all time.” 

“Imran Khan is doing great things. Celebrating democracy is an important part of life and he’s doing that like a champion he was in the 92 World Cup. So, yeah, it is important for sure.” 

Babar’s belief in his planning and relying solely on his match-ups against his opponents has been a key to success. He’s not one to take cues from what former Pakistan cricketers suggest on the dozens of private television channels focusing on his team. These former cricketers were vocal after the team lost to India and then got beaten by Zimbabwe in back-to-back Super 12 losses that that placed the team in a tight corner in Group 2. 

Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup-winning fast bowler Aqib Javed was among those who advised Babar to bat lower down the order in the semifinal because he’d only scored 39 runs in five group games. 

Instead, Babar went to the practice nets for more than an hour on the eve of the knockout game against New Zealand while his teammates preferred to relax at their hotel. He then produced a half-century which eased Pakistan to victory in the semifinals. 

Babar’s opening partner Mohammad Rizwan’s weakness on the off-side was also the talking point in the Pakistan media, but he posted a half-century, too. They combined in a ninth century opening stand — the most by any opening pair in the world in T20s. 

The battery of four pacers is another asset for Babar, which he miscalculated only once in the tournament when he preferred to keep his fourth fast bowler Mohammad Wasim on the bench. 

But he’s is a quick learner and he ensured Wasim played in every game thereafter to supplement Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. 

However, if there’s one player who has turned Pakistan’s fortunes around it’s “Little Dynamo” Mohammad Haris, who had never played in the batting conditions of Australia. After both Haider Ali and Asif Ali struggled with form in early group games, Haris did what a young Inzamam had done for Imran Khan in 1992. 

With experience of only one T20 international against England in September, Haris first smashed an 11-ball 28 against South Africa before playing vital cameos of 31 and 30 against Bangladesh and New Zealand. 

Needing 19 off the last 15 balls for victory in the semifinal, Haris sealed the game by smashing New Zealand’s express fast bowler Lockie Ferguson for a four and a six off successive deliveries. And that pleased Hayden. 

“Harry, it was a little tricky situation, but that was another injection of great energy, great enthusiasm,” Hayden said. “That’s a complete performance and I think that the world is going to see a lot more of that.” 

Last week Khan, who was ousted as Pakistan’s Prime Minister earlier this year, was wounded in the leg in a gunman’s attempt on his life during a protest march on the country’s capital to demand early elections. Although he is staying out of public while he recovers, he took time to recognize the national team’s run to the final: 

The question remains, can Babar keep his stars aligned with Khan for one more day? 

“Our efforts, our collective partnerships and our belief in each other mean that we’re actually opting even more in because that’s what it takes to win a championship,” Hayden said. 


Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

Updated 25 February 2024
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Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

  • Polio volunteers to immunize children under five years old from Feb. 26 to March 3, says national health ministry 
  • Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a Western ploy to sterilize Pakistan’s population

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal health secretary Iftikhar Shallwani on Sunday inaugurated a nationwide campaign against polio that aims to immunize over 45.8 million children against the disease, the national health ministry said. 

Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio is endemic. The disease affects the nervous system of children and ultimately leads to paralysis.

The South Asian country’s efforts to contain polio have often been met with opposition, especially in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where militants have carried out attacks against vaccinators and the security teams guarding them. 

Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a plot by Western outsiders to sterilize Pakistan’s population. 

Shallwani inaugurated the campaign, which is set to launch nationwide on Monday, by administering polio drops to children. 

“This pivotal campaign, scheduled from Feb 26 to Mar 3, aims to immunize over 45.8 million children under the age of 5 across the country,” the Ministry of National Health Services wrote on X platform. 

Shallwani said polio is a “terrible” disease that can cause paralysis in children.

“Unfortunately, it continues to be a threat to our children because some people refuse to vaccinate children based on misconceptions and false information about the vaccine,” he said. 

He said volunteers will deliver the vaccine to people’s doorsteps from next week, requesting parents to cooperate with them. 

“I implore you to recognize the threat posed by the poliovirus to your children and ensure that you open your doors to facilitate their vaccination,” the health official said. 

Pakistani masses’ doubts regarding polio campaigns were exacerbated in 2011 when the US Central Intelligence Agency set up a fake hepatitis vaccination program to gather intelligence on former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. 


Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash today

Updated 25 February 2024
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Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash today

  • Multan Sultans lost their first match of the tournament to Peshawar Zalmi this week 
  • Despite the loss, the Sultans top the Pakistan Super League points table due to strong run rate

ISLAMABAD: The undefeated Quetta Gladiators will be put to the test today, Sunday, when they face table-toppers Multan Sultans in match number 11 of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 set to take place in Multan. 

The Sultans sit pretty at the top of the table with six points from four matches. However, they lost to former champions Peshawar Zalmi on Friday by five wickets at their home ground in Multan. 

Under new skipper Rilee Rossouw, however, the Gladiators have won all three matches of theirs. 

“I am aware of the conditions on Multan hence I don’t encounter any difficulties playing there,” Rossouw said. “Every match is a new contest, we will implement our plan to win it.”

The Gladiators have the same number of points as the Gladiators, six, from three matches. However, they are placed at number two on the table due to a net run rate of +0.686. The Sultans have a run rate of +0.812 from their four matches. 

The match between the two sides is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m.

Playing XIs (probable):

Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan (c & wk), Dawid Malan, Reeza Hendricks, Yasir Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, David Willey, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Ali, Shahnawaz Dahani

Quetta Gladiators: Saud Shakeel, Jason Roy, Rilee Rossouw (c), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Khawaja Nafay, Shefane Rutherford, Akeal Hosein, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Hasnain


Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly to elect speaker, deputy speaker today 

Updated 25 February 2024
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Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly to elect speaker, deputy speaker today 

  • Election for the post of Sindh chief minister is scheduled to be held on Monday
  • Saturday’s swearing-in of newly elected legislators was marred by political protests

KARACHI: Elections for the coveted posts of speaker and deputy speaker of Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly will be held today, Sunday, state-run media said, a day after newly elected members of the assembly were sworn in. 

Saturday’s oath-taking ceremony was marred by protests in Karachi staged by supporters of various political parties who allege that the Feb. 8 elections were heavily rigged. 

Supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other nationalist parties gathered near the provincial assembly in Karachi’s southern zone to protest alleged manipulation of Feb. 8 election, which was marred by a mobile network outage and delays in release of constituency results.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which bagged the highest number of seats in Sindh, has nominated Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister, for the top provincial office once again. The party has also nominated Syed Owais Shah for the role of speaker, and Anthony Naveed for the post of deputy speaker of the Sindh provincial assembly.

“Elections of speaker and deputy speaker of Sindh Assembly will be held on Sunday,” the state-run Radio Pakistan said in a report. “On the other hand, the election of Sindh Chief Minister will be held tomorrow (Monday).”

The PPP bagged 84 seats in the southern Pakistani province, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which secured 28 seats, while 14 seats were won by independent candidates. The JI and the GDA won two seats each.

While the inaugural Sindh Assembly session was in progress, several Pakistani parties on Saturday announced they would observe February 27 as a “Black Day” in response to Sindh police firing tear gas at their supporters protesting suspected rigging in the general elections earlier this month.

In view of the protest calls, the Sindh caretaker government on Friday imposed a ban under Section 144 on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in Karachi’s South zone, where the provincial legislature is located, for a period of 30 days, according to the provincial home department.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest and place a ban on any activity for a specific period of time.


Ex-PM Sharif’s party bags deputy speaker post in Punjab Assembly 

Updated 25 February 2024
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Ex-PM Sharif’s party bags deputy speaker post in Punjab Assembly 

  • Zaheer Iqbal Channar defeats Sunni Ittehad Council’s Moin Riaz to become deputy speaker Punjab Assembly
  • Sharif’s PML-N party on Saturday clinched the coveted post of speaker in the Punjab Assembly as well

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party this week bagged the post of deputy speaker in the Punjab Assembly, with elections for the chief minister in Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province scheduled to be held on Monday. 

Malik Ahmed Khan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) candidate for speaker, was elected as the custodian of the house against the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) candidate, Malik Ahmad Khan Bhachar, on Saturday in the 371-member house. Khan polled 224 votes while Bhachar secured 96.

Meanwhile, the PML-N’s nominee Zaheer Iqbal Channar won the election for the deputy speaker’s post on Saturday, defeating his opponent from the SIC, Moin Riaz. The election of the speaker and deputy speaker was held through secret ballot in the house.

“Zaheer Iqbal Channar has taken oath as deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly,” the PML-N wrote on social media platform X on Saturday. In a video uploaded with the post, Khan can be seen administering oath to Channar. 

Meanwhile, the nominations for the chief minister of Punjab’s election are supposed to be received by the Punjab Assembly today, Sunday, while elections for the coveted post are scheduled to be held on Monday. 

Members of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party who won the polls had joined the SIC to claim their share of the reserved seats in the assembly since they contested as independents. But the issue is pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which is yet to make a decision on the matter.

As the SIC’s Mian Aslam Iqbal— who is wanted by the police in multiple legal cases— could not take oath in the Punjab Assembly as a legislator on Saturday, the PTI announced it has nominated Aftab Ahmad Khan to run for the office of chief minister of Punjab against the PML-N’s candidate, Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

“After consulting Mian Aslam Iqbal, the party leadership and Aslam Iqbal have decided to nominate Aftab Ahmad Khan for the chief minister’s election,” the PTI said on social media platform X. 

The Punjab Assembly is the largest elected house in the country comprising 297 general seats and 74 reserved seats.

Monday’s election will likely see Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, make history as the first woman chief minister of Punjab.

Maryam, 50, plays an influential role in her father’s PML-N and has been presented by him as his political heir apparent. She is senior vice president of the party.


Pakistan’s religious affairs minister calls pilgrims ambassadors of country at Hajj training workshop

Updated 25 February 2024
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Pakistan’s religious affairs minister calls pilgrims ambassadors of country at Hajj training workshop

  • Aneeq Ahmed asks them to uphold the country’s prestige while carrying out spiritual journey to Saudi Arabia
  • The minister asks pilgrims to pray for the peace and stability of the country while visiting Islam’s holiest cities

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmed highlighted the role of pilgrims as Pakistan’s ambassadors to Saudi Arabia while addressing a training workshop in Karachi’s Hajji Camp on Saturday, emphasizing the importance of upholding the country’s prestige.
Ahmed visited the kingdom in recent months to make Hajj preparations for his country where he met several Saudi officials to discuss the possibility of expanding facilities for pilgrims departing from the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi.
He also evaluated the arrangements for the annual Islamic pilgrimage with catering and accommodation representatives and discussed with private Hajj operators how to maximize the provision of services.
“Aneeq Ahmed said that Pakistani pilgrims should increase the prestige of Pakistan during their stay in Saudi Arabia,” said a press release. “All pilgrims are ambassadors of Pakistan. Pilgrims should also pray for peace and stability in their country.”
The minister informed the participants of the workshop a cellphone app had been launched for pilgrims to make their journey more convenient. He also said pilgrims would be given free SIMs, briefcases and abayas for women by the government.
The Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported the complimentary SIMs would offer 180 minutes of talk time for pilgrims to connect with family back home.
Hajj 2024 training workshops, educational training sessions designed by the government to educate pilgrims about the rituals and procedures of performing the pilgrimage, kicked off in Pakistan earlier this month.
Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, is expected to run from June 14-19 this year.