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Shoaib wants Babar to become a ‘man of steel’

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar believes if Pakistani Skipper Babar Azam wants to lead the Green-shirts for a long period of time then he should become a ‘man of steel’.

To a question on the aforementioned statement, Akhtar said that Azam needs to evolve as a player.

“When you come in the limelight and go on the path of becoming a real star, some people will try to bring you down and make you suffer. That is the time when you have to show what you are made of. Babar Azam now needs to evolve as a captain, player and batsman so that everyone knows that he is a man of steel,” he said this while speaking during a show on PTV Sports as quoted by

Babar was recently named as the Test captain that made him in-charge of teams across all formats. The 26-year-old’s first assignment as Test skipper would be the ICC World Test Championship matches against New Zealand, to be played in Mount Maunganui and Christchurch from December 26-30 and January 3-7, respectively.

“If you are not a man of steel then there will be no one backing you. I will be honest with you, I remember exact words of many CEO/Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) who said that Rashid Latif bhai will stay as captain of six years. I have seen the high and lows of life in cricket over the past 24 years,” he said.

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Barca should have sold Messi, says interim president

MADRID (Agencies): Barcelona’s interim president Carlos Tusquets feels the club should have cashed-in on Lionel Messi during the summer transfer window.

Messi was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City and sent a recorded delivery (Burofax) letter stating his intention to leave. He later said the decision was due to being disillusioned with the direction the now former board had taken the club.

Ex-Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned in October rather than face a vote of no confidence, with Tusquets taking temporary charge until January’s elections.

“Economically speaking, I would’ve sold Messi in the summer window,” Tusquets told RAC1 radio station.

“Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would’ve been desirable. But this is something the coaching staff have to consent to and that’s not my place.

“La Liga are setting salary limits at the moment and this would’ve helped on that front.”

Messi’s current contract expires in June, when he is expected to leave for free and on Wednesday former Barca team mate Neymar spoke of his desire to link up with the Argentine again.

“What I want most of all is to play with Messi again, to be able to enjoy him once again on the pitch,” he said after his club PSG’s 3-1 Champions League win against Manchester United.

“I want to play with him next year, for sure. We have to do it next season.”

Tusquets conceded that scenario was unlikely to transpire at the Nou Camp, where the purse strings have been tightened following the COVID-19 crisis.

“If he (Neymar) became available on a free transfer then maybe we could think about signing him,” he said.

“Without making sales, there’s no money for new signings unless the new president has incredibly deep pockets.”

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Pakistan’s four-day cricket match against New Zealand A cancelled

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have mutually agreed to cancel the first four-day game between Pakistan Shaheens and New Zealand A – scheduled to start on December 10 – due to delay in the players not being able to train yet after coronavirus cases.

The decision was taken on the request of the PCB to their New Zealand counterparts to cancel or reschedule the first four-day game after health officials in New Zealand delayed giving permission to Pakistani cricketers to start training during their managed isolation period.

“Pakistan have opted to play a series of intra-squad matches in Queenstown from Dec 10-13 instead of the planned four-day game against New Zealand A, in order to maximize their preparation ahead of the T20 and Test series. NZC is supportive of this decision,” New Zealand Cricket said in a statement.

An official of the PCB confirmed the development, but added that the second four-day game between Shaheens and New Zealand A will be played from December 17 as scheduled, while the first T20I between the senior squads will be played on December 18 as announced earlier.

“The members of Pakistani squad continue to be in managed isolation in Christchurch. All the squad members will travel to Queenstown on the 8th of December, provided clearance from New Zealand health authorities to travel,” said the PCB spokesman. “In Queenstown, Pakistan’s senior national team and Shaheens squad will stay at different hotels and play various intra-squad games.”

Pakistan cricket team’s preparation ahead of the series in New Zealand were disrupted after eight squad members tested positive for Covid-19 across a series of tests conducted since arrival in New Zealand late last month.

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Shoaib Malik gives LPL his seal of approval

COLOMBO (Agencies): Shoaib Malik has given the Lanka Premier League his seal of approval, a week into the tournament. Malik is the most experienced T20 player in the league, having now played 405 T20s, and is among the high-profile overseas players in the tournament. He has played in various T20 leagues around the world, including the Big Bash League, Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League.

“Overall the tournament is going very nicely and I’m really enjoying it,” Malik said. “I was talking to some other overseas players as well and they were praising the whole league. In these tough times the way the people who are involved in the league must be given credit. The first year is tough for any league. But if we support the league, I’m sure, the second year will be better and the third year will be the same. I think I was expecting more big names, but with their personal commitments, they are not there. Definitely from next year, they will also be the participants in the league.”

The tournament is being played at Sooriyawewa stadium in its entirety, largely because that arrangement allowed the tournament organisers to more efficiently maintain a playing bubble. Players also had to undergo seven days of quarantine before the tournament, and many foreign players – including Malik – did not arrive in Sri Lanka early enough to train substantially with their teams ahead of the event.

“It wasn’t easy to stay in the room on the quarantine days, but there are rules and regulations to follow – we have to respect them,” Malik said. “Of course I wanted to practice before getting into the tournament, but I had no time to go through practice sessions and everything. It’s not anybody’s fault. We are all going through these tough times. “But the quality of cricket in LPL is very good. From next year, I’m sure there will be more big names. We’re also very limited in the sense of having to use one stadium and facility. Next year, Inshallah, we will come out of this Covid-19 thing and there will be more venues and a crowd at the ground, and the crowd will make things bigger.”

Malik has been part of the Jaffna Stallions franchise – the only as-yet unbeaten side in the tournament. Captain Thisara Perera’s batting has contributed significantly to their success so far, but Malik had praise for legspinning allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga, as well. Hasaranga has five wickets from three outings with the ball and has only gone at 4.41 runs an over from his 12 overs. “We know Wanindu is a quality bowler.

He’s improving day by day. The best part is that it’s not just about his bowling. If you ask him to go field in the hot spots, he would love to do that. He’s a proper team man. It’s not just about your own bowling – he’s fielding as well as batting. I would say he’s the complete allrounder.

“It’s a lot easier when you know your management and the captain. We’ve found nice combinations for our team. The first wins are always important. The team is going in the right direction. Everyone is backing each other up.”

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Imad Wasim signs with Renegades

Monitoring Desk

KARACHI: Melbourne Renegades have signed experienced Pakistan bowling allrounder Imad Wasim for the second half of the upcoming BBL season.

Imad will join the Renegades from December 26 after the completion of the three-match T20I series between Pakistan and New Zealand in New Zealand. The 31-year-old will be able to play immediately upon arriving in Australia without quarantining due to the Covid travel-bubble agreement between New Zealand and Australia.

“Imad is one of the best T20 players in the world with his ability to impact games with the ball and to finish the innings with the bat,” Renegades coach Michael Klinger said. “He’s an experienced player with recent title success, he’s capable of bowling in the powerplay and he’ll strengthen our middle-order batting.”

Imad joins South Africans Rilee Rossouw and Imran Tahir, and Afghanistan spin duo Mohammad Nabi and Noor Ahmad on the Renegades roster. The BBL has allowed three overseas to play per game this season and the various international commitments and travel restrictions have meant the Renegades have added five to their roster to give them flexibility. “Given the current landscape we’ve had to be flexible with our international players,” Klinger said.

“We’ll have Rilee Rossouw available for the whole season while our other international players will feature at different points throughout the tournament.

“It’s a really talented group of international players and they’ll provide us with some great flexibility throughout the season.”

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‘Murray can still compete against top guys’

MUMBAI (Agencies): A fit Andy Murray could still be competitive against top players and tennis fans should consider themselves lucky still to be able to see the three-time Grand Slam champion in action, the Briton’s former coach Daniel Vallverdu has told Reuters.

Venezuelan Vallverdu currently coaches three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka who crushed former world number one Murray 6-1 6-3 6-2 in the opening round of this year’s French Open.

It was Murray’s joint-worst loss at a Grand Slam and came on his return to the claycourts at Roland Garros after a three-year absence, during which he has had two major hip surgeries.

The heavy loss prompted seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander to suggest that Murray should consider whether he has the right to accept wildcards into majors at the expense of emerging young players.

“It’s pretty amazing what he’s doing, coming back from the type of injury that he’s had,” Vallverdu said by phone from Monaco. “We’re all very lucky to still be able to have him around and not only in the locker room but to see him compete.”

Vallverdu was part of Murray’s team between 2010 and 2014 when the Scot won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and also clinched the men’s singles gold medal at his home Olympic Games in London.

“As long as he’s able to keep himself fit and I wouldn’t say pain-free but with not so much pain and physically fit, I wouldn’t be surprised if Andy has some very good results next year,” the 34-year-old added.

“What they’re going to be is difficult to say but I do believe that he if he manages to keep his body fit, he will be competitive against the top guys and in the big events as well. I would never write him off.” Vallverdu was 24 when he started working with Murray, who was a year younger, and he has gone on to coach top names in tennis like Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov.

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Graduation Ceremony of PAF Finishing School’s 48th Batch held

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Graduation Ceremony of the 48th batch of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Finishing School was held at the Officers’ Mess, PAF Complex here on Thursday.

President Pakistan Air Force Women Association and Patron-in-Chief of PAF Finishing School Begum Tazeen Mujahid was the chief guest at the occasion, said a PAF press release.

The chief guest awarded certificates to the graduating students.

Begum Tazeen Mujahid congratulated the students on successful completion of their personality development programme.

She also praised the standard of training at the institution and lauded the efforts of the faculty members in grooming the women of our society.

Earlier, Director Finishing School Zeba Shaukat presented a report highlighting the main aspects of the training which were aimed at transforming young girls into useful members of society.

Established in July 1996, PAF Finishing School was the first of its kind in Asia, offering various courses in communication skills, languages, management, art of self-presentation, domestic science, general culture, cuisine, protocol, art, child care, introduction to psychology and spiritual enrichment. The school was an initiative of Pakistan Air Force for the grooming of young girls and the promotion of education in the country.

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ECP responsible to hold election timely: CEC

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja on Thursday said that it is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold election in time under article 140 and 219 of the constitution of Pakistan.

Chairing a high level meeting at Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the CEC said that under article 17 (1), the ECP is bound for delimitation as per laws of local government elections for holding LG polls.

He added under sub section 2, the ECP is responsible to ensure delimitation of constituencies after official publication of every national census.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja stressed that under article 219(4) of Election Act, the ECP has to hold election within 120 days after expiring of term of local government elections.

He said that the ECP had asked the Sindh Government to provide maps and other necessary data on which the province excused to share such data by saying that the ECP as per law is not responsible for delimitation on provisional data of national census.

He added they also asked to suspend the delimitation process till official publication of data of national census 2017.

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Afridi vows to give voice to deaf, voiceless Kashmiris

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi Thursday vowed to give voice to the voiceless deaf people of Kashmir.

He said through modern techniques the unheard voices of Kashmiris could be heard globally.

Talking to Pakistan’s first deaf Vloger Hassan Ali here at the Parliament House on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Shehryar Afridi said that the deaf community is deprived of their basic rights and they face challenges.

He said that the PTI government has been working to facilitate the differently-abled persons.

Afridi said thousands of deaf people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) are voiceless and they need help.

Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi  said that the deaf are totally dependent on third persons for communications and there is a great need for helping them out.

Shehryar Afridi said that Kashmir Committee will form an Advisory Board to help bring the deaf and other differently-abled people with disabilities to the mainstream. He said that PTI government would take steps to bring the people from marginalized groups to the mainstream.

“Due to continued inhuman physical and mental torture on Kashmiris by the Indian colonial regime in IIOJK, thousands of normal people have also turned deaf.

On the other hand, the Indian occupying regime is turning deaf ears to their plight. We will give them voice so that their voices are heard globally,” Chairman, Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi  said. 

Maimoona Awan, a volunteer working with the deaf people, in her briefing told Afridi that around nine million deaf people in Pakistan are facing difficulties with their lives.

“We are working to empower deaf community across Asia as 60 percent of them are from backward and underdeveloped areas and are unable to build a proper community. Hassan is Pakistan’s first deaf Vloger who is producing Vlogs for deaf people,” she said.

Hassan Ali, on the occasion, briefed the Chairman on his passion to work and help the community through his Vlogs. He said that he had decided to produce Vlogs for educating the marginalized deaf people who have no other facility to learn about Pakistan and the world.

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Ulema assure coronavirus SOPs at mosques, urge politicians to avoid holding rallies

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the Ulema on Thursday assured strict adoption of precautionary measures at mosques and urged political leaders to follow the same spirit by avoiding large public gatherings.

A delegation of Ulema in a briefing chaired by President Dr Arif Alvi here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr called for strictly adhering to the 20-point Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), previously adopted in April to effectively overcome the second wave of pandemic.

President Alvi, flanked by Religious Minister Noor ul Haq Qadri and Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, announced the decisions taken during the meeting with Ulema focusing on the need to be cautious against spread of COVID-19. The President mentioned that Ulema had assured that the mosque administrations would ensure the proper safe-distancing during congregational prayers. He, however, said that the Ulema pointed that the political leaders should also avoid holding large rallies that might endanger precious lives.

The SOPs regarding mosques included proper distance among worshippers, disinfecting carpets and floors, ablution at homes before coming to mosques and bringing own prayer rugs.

The President said starting from December 4, a ‘Youm-e-Dua’ would be observed every Friday to seek Mercy of Allah Almighty to protect the people from the deadly virus.

He said Pakistan had successfully tackled the first wave of pandemic due to the government’s effective strategy and the will of the nation.

He said the example set by Pakistan in controlling the COVID-19 spread was acknowledged by top world health bodies and the countries in general.

The President pointed the sharp rise in number of fresh coronavirus cases in the country and recalled that in April, the number of patients was 500 a day, which increased to over 6,400 in June.

He said the current wave in winters had high chances of increasing the number of new cases that required extra precautions.

President Alvi said mosques had an important role in raising awareness among the community members regarding the importance of COVID-19 SOPs.

He said experience had taught that there was a need to change the approach in confronting the COVID-19 virus. Instead of the previous “fight, not fear the virus” approach, he said, the new one should be “prevent COVID-19”.

President Alvi stressed the role of media to raise awareness among the masses with frequent public service messages on precautions against coronavirus.

The Ulema lauded the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan in effectively presenting the case of Islamophobia and blasphemy at international level, calling for urgent steps against the trend.

Later, prayers were offered for the safety of entire nation against the pandemic of coronavirus.