Former Olympians condole death of Pakistan hockey great Manzoor Junior
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Former Olympians condole death of Pakistan hockey great Manzoor Junior

Madison Franz

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Former Olympians condole death of Pakistan hockey great Manzoor Junior
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LAHORE: Former hockey Olympians and international players of Kenya and India have condoled death of former Pakistan Olympian Manzoor Hussain Junior who died due to cardiac arrest on August 29 in Lahore. The 63-year-old’s death news came as a shock to the sport’s community.

Manzoor – born in Sialkot in 1958 – bagged 86 goals in 175 outings for Pakistan in his international career that spanned from 1975-84. Expressing their condolence on the death of Manzoor, foreign players paid rich tributes to the departed soul. In their messages they also prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul.

“Late Manzoor Junior toured Kenya and Tanzania with a young Pakistan team in 1974,” said former Kenya hockey captain Surjit Singh Rihal. “I had the privilege of playing against Manzoor a number of times between 1974 and 1982. He was a brilliant forward and had very good stick work.

His movements with the ball were always very threatening for the opponents and his passes to the very speedy Pakistan wingers were constant pressure on the defenders. My sincere condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”

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Former Kenya hockey international Brajinder Daved said he first played against Manzoor Junior in 1970 along with Khalid Mahmood and Kaleem Ullah at the City Park Hockey Stadium. “Pakistan had come to Kenya to play six matches against Kenya. Later in June 1980 we played again at City Park Hockey Stadium, Nairobi when Akhtar Rasool, Rashid-ul-Hassan, Syed Safdar Abbas, Riaz Shah, Manzoor Jr and Kaleem Ullah Khan were also part of the team.

Condolences from me and may Manzoor’s soul rest in peace,” added Brajinder Daved. Another Kenya international hockey player Davinder Degan said: “Sad to hear of Manzoor’s passing away. May his soul rest in peace. Kenya international hockey player Jagmel Singh Rooprai said:

“Very sad to hear the news. I had the privilege to play against him a couple of times though he was quite junior to me. RIP

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India’s 1975 World Cup winning captain Ajitpal Singh stated:

“God bless the departed soul to rest in peace. Heartfelt condolences to the family.” Former Indian international Syed Ali said: “We were the youngest members of the Indian and Pakistan teams at the Montreal Olympic Games.

Manzoor Jr was a feared and dashing all time great inside right with superb ball control and goal scoring ability. Allah unko Jannat Naseeb kare.” India’s Mervyn Fernandes, a triple Olympian (1980, 84, 88) and gold medalist 1980, in his message said:

What a brilliant and talented player he was. Manzoor Junior was made of a rare mold. RIP Manzoor Hussain” Former Kenya hockey player Raphael Fernandes also condoled the death of Manzoor Junior.

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Hockey stadium to have big screens for Asia Cup final

Madison Franz

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Hockey stadium to have big screens for Asia Cup final
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LAHORE: The Sports Board Punjab will install the biggest TV screens at the National Hockey Stadium for the cricket fans to see live coverage of the final of the T20 Asia Cup-2022 to be played between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Last month, the stadium made the headlines due to a political party’s public meeting for which AstroTurf was removed.

Former Olympians condole death of Pakistan hockey great Manzoor Junior

LAHORE: Former hockey Olympians and international players of Kenya and India have condoled death of former Pakistan Olympian Manzoor Hussain Junior who died due to cardiac arrest on August 29 in Lahore. The 63-year-old’s death news came as a shock to the sport’s community. Manzoor – born in Sialkot in 1958 – bagged 86 goals in 175 outings for Pakistan in his international career that spanned from 1975-84. Expressing their condolence on the death of Manzoor, foreign players paid rich tributes to the departed soul. In their messages they also prayed for eternal peace for the departed soul.

“Late Manzoor Junior toured Kenya and Tanzania with a young Pakistan team in 1974,” said former Kenya hockey captain Surjit Singh Rihal. “I had the privilege of playing against Manzoor a number of times between 1974 and 1982. He was a brilliant forward and had very good stick work. His movements with the ball were always very threatening for the opponents and his passes to the very speedy Pakistan wingers were constant pressure on the defenders. My sincere condolences to his family. May his soul rest in peace.”

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Former Kenya hockey international Brajinder Daved said he first played against Manzoor Junior in 1970 along with Khalid Mahmood and Kaleem Ullah at the City Park Hockey Stadium. “Pakistan had come to Kenya to play six matches against Kenya. Later in June 1980 we played again at City Park Hockey Stadium, Nairobi when Akhtar Rasool, Rashid-ul-Hassan, Syed Safdar Abbas, Riaz Shah, Manzoor Jr and Kaleem Ullah Khan were also part of the team. Condolences from me and may Manzoor’s soul rest in peace,” added Brajinder Daved. Another Kenya international hockey player Davinder Degan said: “Sad to hear of Manzoor’s passing away. May his soul rest in peace. Kenya international hockey player Jagmel Singh Rooprai said: “Very sad to hear the news. I had the privilege to play against him a couple of times though he was quite junior to me. RIP.”

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India’s 1975 World Cup winning captain Ajitpal Singh stated: “God bless the departed soul to rest in peace. Heartfelt condolences to the family.” Former Indian international Syed Ali said: “We were the youngest members of the Indian and Pakistan teams at the Montreal Olympic Games.

Manzoor Jr was a feared and dashing all time great inside right with superb ball control and goal scoring ability. Allah unko Jannat Naseeb kare.” India’s Mervyn Fernandes, a triple Olympian (1980, 84, 88) and gold medalist 1980, in his message said: “What a brilliant and talented player he was. Manzoor Junior was made of a rare mold. RIP Manzoor Hussain” Former Kenya hockey player Raphael Fernandes also condoled the death of Manzoor Junior.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka had qualified for the final after they defeated India and Afghanistan in the Super Four Stage.

 

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Pakistan look to end decade-long Asia Cup drought but Sri Lanka have psychological edge

Madison Franz

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Pakistan look to end decade-long Asia Cup drought but Sri Lanka have psychological edge
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Will Pakistan win their third Asia Cup? Or will Sri Lanka be crowned for the sixth time?

It is a tournament Pakistan love but a tournament that hasn’t always loved them back. Pakistan’s lack of success over this competition’s four-decade history has been baffling, given, if history is a guide, there are only three possible destinations for this trophy. For the first half of the tournament’s existence, India and Sri Lanka played musical chairs, with Pakistan kept out in the cold, making only one of the first six finals.
They won the Sharjah Cup, the Nehru Cup and even the World Cup during this time, but the Asia Cup remained elusive. It wasn’t until 2000 that a Moin Khan-led side finally touched the one piece of silverware that Pakistan had been denied. But it took them another 12 years for their next title. It has been a further decade since, and while India and Sri Lanka have split a dozen of these between them, Pakistan cherish the memories of those two.
The tournament has evolved, this particular edition is in the T20 format, and fans been gifted a vintage Pakistan side: wild, excitable, unpredictable, and against all odds, still here. The manner of India’s routing of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka’s subsequent dismantling of Pakistan means those two Naseem Shah sixes really were the difference between qualification and elimination. Now, Babar Azam has the chance to achieve what only Moin and Misbah-ul-Haq have accomplished for Pakistan – the official continental supremacy.
Pakistan have not necessarily looked destined for glory this fortnight, beginning with a final-over defeat to arch-rivals India. They inflicted a loss on that same opponent a week later to invigorate a flagging campaign, but stumbles against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka suggest a lot of work still needs to be done – not just with bat in hand, but, for this young side, also when it comes to keeping emotions in control; there was evidence in that game against Afghanistan that nerves, and perhaps tempers, threatened to get the better of them at crucial moments.
Tempers are less likely to flare in the final, though. Each Asia Cup side has had a complicated relationship with the others, but Pakistan vs Sri Lanka is perhaps the friendliest fixture of all. Throughout most of their history, these two nations have enjoyed cordial relations, and been there for each other in their toughest times. That warmth has been evident on the field as well, and there is no reason that should change.
A Sri Lankan redemption arc, though, is perhaps a neater, easier graph to chart, though nonetheless dramatic for it. Not many would have expected Sri Lanka to be here after they were blown away by eight wickets and almost ten overs to spare in the opening game by Afghanistan. Against Bangladesh, too, they looked done for in a steep chase until Kusal Mendis, Dasun Shanaka, and Bangladesh’s own mistakes saw them sneak through to the Super 4s.
But since then, their campaign has turned around. The batters, right through to the lower order, played modern, aggressive, entertaining cricket that has lit up this tournament, gaining them fans outside that little paradise of an island itself. Afghanistan were swiftly avenged, before a thrilling win against India effectively saw them through to the final. The way their batters held their nerve at the death against India made that win especially impressive as they trumped an opposition that had beaten them in 14 of the last 17 T20Is.
The win against Pakistan in the last game of the Super 4 round perhaps means they go into the final as favourites, but not mentioning the value of the toss would be irresponsible. Only three times has a team defended successfully in the tournament – Hong Kong’s two opponents and India against Afghanistan – and while there have been plenty of close games to suggest it needn’t have been that way, the value of winning the toss cannot be overstated.

Form guide

Pakistan LWWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Sri Lanka WWWWL

In the spotlight

Whether you’re Team Total Attack or Team Platform Building, Pakistan’s T20 fortunes are tethered firmly to the kind of day Mohammad Rizwan is having. He might take his time and hold up one end, which gives the rest of the side something of a comfort blanket – that only becomes really apparent in how exposed the side feels when he falls early. Even better for Pakistan, if he could find his timing from relatively early on and get them off to a rapid, if not flying, start. A struggling Rizwan often means a struggling Pakistan, not just because his runs might be missed, but because Rizwan in the right mood lifts the spirit of the entire side. He has become this T20I side’s heartbeat, as well as the bellwether of its performances.
Wanindu Hasaranga doesn’t mind playing against Pakistan. The 3 for 21 he picked up in the dry run for the final wasn’t a one-off. Quite literally, in the sense that he had registered those precise numbers in a T20I in Lahore as well to help Sri Lanka clean sweep Pakistan 3-0. It was really that tour of Pakistan that kickstarted his career, and he hasn’t looked back since. Pakistan remain, statistically, one of his most favoured opponents, against whom he has bagged 11 wickets in four matches. These include a Player-of-the-Series award as well as two Player-of-the-Match performances. Add to that his ability to contribute runs down the order, and it becomes clear why his battle against Pakistan might be key to the destination of the Asia Cup.

Pitch and conditions

It will be hot and dry again, as it has been all fortnight.

Team news

After resting a few players in the last game, Pakistan should revert to the side that won three games in a row prior to Friday’s defeat.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Babar Azam (capt), 2 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 3 Fakhar Zaman, 4 Iftikhar Ahmed, 5 Khushdil Shah, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Asif Ali, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Naseem Shah, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Mohammad Hasnain
Sri Lanka may consider bringing Asitha Fernando back, but after that commanding bowling performance on Friday, an unchanged XI is more likely.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Kusal Mendis (wk), 2 Pathum Nissanka, 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Danushka Gunathilaka, 5 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 6 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 7 Chamika Karunaratne, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Pramod Madushan, 11 Dilshan Madushanka

Stats and trivia

  • Haris Rauf is three strikes shy of 50 T20I wickets.
  • This is the fourth time Sri Lanka and Pakistan are playing an Asia Cup final, with Sri Lanka winning two of the previous three.
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Quotes

“When building a team, it is great for us that different players have stood up when it counts and helped the team win matches. As a captain, this is important for me, and it helps pave the path for future success for the team as well.”
Babar Azam relishes the contributions from multiple players this competition
“As a tournament, looking back, this has been one of the best Asia Cups we have had, and we are looking forward to the final.”
Dasun Shanaka has his eyes firmly on the prize
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Asia Cup final: Best of frenemies Pakistan and Sri Lanka set for another edition of old, but cordial rivalry

Madison Franz

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Asia Cup final: Best of frenemies Pakistan and Sri Lanka set for another edition of old, but cordial rivalry
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After the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Super Four game ended and the players waited for the presentation ceremony, Babar Azam and Wanindu Hasaranga were spotted engaged in a chat near the boundary rope. Both were chuckling and guffawing, even though Hasaranga had taken out Babar in the match. Beside them, Mohammad Rizwan, Dasun Shanaka and Kusal Mendis were rolling in laughter.

Not far from them Maheesh Theekshana was obediently listening to Saqlain Mushtaq, like an apprentice to a master. Some time ago, Wasim Akram was seen talking to Sri Lanka’s left-arm seamer Dilshan Madhushanka. As the players exited the stadium, a horde of Sri Lankan fans sought the autograph of Naseem Shah, just as a few Pakistan teenagers were queuing up beside Hasaranga for his signature.

Evident thus was an overwhelming camaraderie, an uncomplicated natural friendly vibe, not one for the camera, but one fostered by their frequent cricketing exchanges, their shared experience playing in leagues around the world and historically smooth cricketing ties.

So much so that it’s the most harmonious of cricketing rivalries in the subcontinent, unstained by geopolitical tensions or cultural antagonism.

Pakistan-India match-ups might be devoid of the old hostility, but it is still an intense rivalry with deep nationalistic undertones, so much so that another bilateral series between them is a distant possibility.

Pakistan-Afghanistan encounters could be crudely bitter affairs, as was witnessed in Headingley and Sharjah. Pakistan-Bangladesh match-ups too have an uneasy, expected layer of friction. Bangladesh-Sri Lanka face-offs, a pure cricketing rivalry though it is, have of late turned spicy, replete with heated barbs and cartoonish charades. So have India-Bangladesh duels turned out to be.

Among the mutually squabbling South Asian cricketing siblings exists the Pakistan-Sri Lanka rivalry as an island of peace. Not that they have no reasons to emerge as a feisty rivalry, from the mid-90s to mid-2010s, they competed for continental and global glory, had players capable of turning the scene ugly, and there was a terrorist attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore, yet they have maintained firm and cordial ties, cricketing-wise as well as diplomatically.

In troubled times, they have been by each other’s side, lugging onto the shoulder. Upon cricket’s resumption in Pakistan, no team has toured the country as frequently as Sri Lanka have.

In the last five years, they have travelled to Pakistan three times, twice for white-ball series and in 2019 for Test matches.

No team had visited the UAE for a full-fledged series against Pakistan as much as Sri Lanka (three times in seven years) had either. They were each other’s dial-a-friend lifeline.

There is a deeper cricketing affinity between them too. Unorthodoxy has flourished in both countries — who else would have produced outlier talents such as Shoaib Akhtar, Lasith Malinga or Muttiah Muralitharan? Which other countries would have provided the fertile grounds for the carrom ball and doosra to develop, or the Dillscoop and reverse-sweep? Where else would players who had played just tape-ball or beach-ball cricket on streets and beaches be plucked from obscurity and pitched into international cricket. Who else would have produced leaders like Imran and Arjuna Ranatunga, or stylists like Saeed Anwar and Aravinda de Silva? There are heart-warming life stories, cricketers from deep interiors, those fighting poverty and battling floods and tsunamis, those emerging from outside the cricketing systems.

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In a sense, theirs is the ideal sporting rivalry. Fiercely competitive and gentlemanly on the field, and friendly off it. One can remember a raft of classics the two teams have dished out, yet not an instance where they were locked in a bust-up or pre-game rattle, or scandals or gossip. After the Super Four match on Friday, both skippers lavished praise on each other. Shanaka said: “Don’t be fooled by Pakistan’s performance [on Friday], they are a good team and could beat anyone on their day. We have seen that several times and we know the quality they possess.” His counterpart Azam reciprocated at the presentation ceremony: “Even after they lost to Afghanistan in the first match, we never wrote them off. Today, they showed you why and they have been the most consistent team in the Asia Cup.”

Both made a mockery of pre-tournament odds, where India were predicted to encounter Pakistan. A dream final of sorts. The possibility seemed even more realistic when Afghanistan thumped Sri Lanka in the opening fixture. But thereafter, they scripted a stunning turnaround, as only Sri Lanka, or Pakistan, can. They went on to win four games on the trot — three in the last over and one comprehensively. But with each game, they kept unearthing more heroes. Apart from the usual suspects like Hasaranga, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Shanaka emerged new heroes like Pathum Nissanka, the feisty opener, Madushanka, the left-arm seamer and Theekshana, the mystery spinner. An old hero remerged too — Mendis. The words of former Bangladesh cricketer Khaled Mahmud, that they don’t have a world-class bowler, turned out to be a spur-on in hindsight. Shanaka dwelled on that again on Friday, rather indirectly: “Bowling combination, starting with left-arm fast bowler, off-spinner, leg-spinner, variation from the spinners, any kind of batting line-up will be challenged. The combination as well as the variation we have is amazing,” he said.

But the Lankan top order is vulnerable to pure pace. Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain made them look like novices at times in the Super Four game. So had Afghanistan left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi and Bangladesh’s Ebadot Hussain. With Naseem Shah returning for the final, and a bouncier and quicker surface expected for the game, a baptism by pace awaits them. That’s how Pakistan have historically won tournaments, with the magic and mystique of the pacers. Think of Wasim Akram in the 1992 World Cup; or Mohammad Amir in the 2017 Champions Trophy.

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On the other hand, Pakistan kicked off the tournament as overwhelming favourites but had to scrape through nervous moments, both their Super Four victories being exceedingly tight. They were beset with unusual problems — like the indifferent touch of Azam, the flaky middle order and an erratic Rizwan, who would look sublime one day and banal the next. Apart from Rizwan with 256 runs, no other Pakistani batsman has scored more than 100 runs in the tournament (Babar 63, Fakhar Zaman 96, Asif Ali 41, Khushdil Shah 56 and Ifthikar Ahmed 73). But little doubt that they have the mettle and quality to reverse the tide and put on a larger-than-life show in the final. Saqlain defended each of the spaces that had been holding Pakistan from fully blooming.

On Babar, he said: “It is just that his luck is not going his way. The kind of boundaries he has hit against India. A batter with deeper eyes will say that his form is fine. It is his luck which is not going his way.” On Rizwan: “Rizwan is superhuman and he is very spiritual, the energy he brings to the team is amazing.” On the middle order: “They have done well against India and Afghanistan when we chased. You might think that it was a small total and Naseem Shah won it for us but all 11 players batted. We have a big-match temperament.” And the arsenal of bowlers—the fast bowling trio has wizardry and the spin pair of Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz smarts and nous.

None, thus, would dispute that Pakistan could reverse the Super Four defeat. Then none would argue that Sri Lanka don’t possess the ammo to rattle Pakistan either. Both have imperfections, but both have the incandescence to beat any team in the world on their day as well. Thus, an ideal final between ideal rivals, unbound by geopolitical tensions and bound by warm diplomatic and cricketing ties.

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