India in Pakistan 2003-04

Home boys, Sheikhs and chucking

Wisden Cricinfo staff

March 20, 2004

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Until the end of the Indian tour of Pakistan, we will be running a daily Paper Round of what newspapers in India and Pakistan, and from around the world, are saying about this series. This is what the media had to report today:



The home boy did good in Peshawar © Getty Images
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The Daily Times has a small feature on Yasir Hameed, the 26-year-old Peshawar native who led Pakistan to victory at the Arbab Niaz Stadium yesterday. Hameed's 98 was pivotal as Pakistan chased down an Indian total of 244 for 9. "Going in to bat, I prayed to God to help me show a credible performance in front of my home crowd," he's quoted as saying. "It was disappointing to miss the century, as that would have been a lifelong memory, but victory, and that too against India, was pleasant indeed."

* * *

As for Dawn, it bemoans the fact that Peshawar won't be hosting a Test match against India. Both South Africa and New Zealand refused to play there last year, and the daily suggests that the crowd's behaviour yesterday deserved more than just a one-day match. "Every ball was cheered and every stroke appreciated, no matter whose bat it came from," wrote a staff reporter. "So exemplary was their behaviour that they mingled freely with the Indian fans, smiling, talking and enjoying the game. A small group of them went round the stadium waving Pakistani and Indian flags in an excellent display of friendship. On a huge water-tank just outside the stadium flags of both countries fluttered side by side, giving more meaning to the 'Friendship Series'."

* * *

Across the border in Rajasthan, there was less to cheer about as 18 people were arrested in a major crackdown on cricket-related betting. According to The Hindu, 15 were arrested in Jaipur, and three in Udaipur, for operating the racket on behalf of the Mumbai underworld.

* * *

The Indian Express has a profile on the man behind Taj Television, which owns the Ten Sports channel that presently has broadcast rights for all games played in Pakistan. Abdul Rahman Bukhatir's story is an interesting one, particular the role that cricket has played in his life.

"In 1981 he built himself a stadium in Sharjah, paid generous sums to have the world's best cricket players come and play for him, and in 2001, for a diversion if nothing else, put together his own sports channel as well," writes the paper. "Think about it. He could now watch replays of tournaments he organised, on a channel he ran, in the pavilion of a stadium he owned. It wasn't cricket, it was a bloomin' fairy-tale."

Bukhatir's passion for cricket is chased back to his childhood. "I first played the game in 1964 at the age of eight," he told the paper. "I was then living in Karachi." And then, in 1981, he invited unofficial Indian and Pakistani teams - one led by Sunil Gavaskar, the other by Javed Miandad - to play exhibition matches in Sharjah. He had smelt opportunity in the entertainment-starved south-Asian expats in the Emirates. Bukhatir certainly knew his market.

Aside from memories of Karachi, he is fluent in Hindi, a legacy of many visits to Mumbai ("I love the city").

* * *

The Telegraph, a Kolkata-based newspaper, reveals that a Pakistani fan has dropped a court case against Shoaib Akhtar so that he can concentrate on the matches against India.

"My client Syed Najmul Abbas dropped the case in the interest of the country so that Shoaib can give his best against India," said the petitioner's lawyer, according to the paper. Shoaib's supposed crime? A newspaper interview last year in which he said, "In Pakistan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are in decline. They were great but they are not matchwinning bowlers any more. So I have to make it all happen on my own."

Abbas had gone to court claiming that Shoaib's remarks tarnished the image of his country.

* * *

And last, but certainly not least, the Tehelka newspaper gives Bishan Bedi space for yet another rant on the subject of chucking. Bedi alleges that the subcontinent is a hotbed of chuckers, and includes India's Lakshmipathy Balaji along with his list of usual suspects.

In the column, Bedi suggests that Sourav Ganguly and his team should take issue with Shoaib Akhtar's action, going on to add: "There are at least three Sri Lankans and four members of the present Pakistan team who clearly chuck." The quartet, according to Bedi, are the Shoaibs Akhtar and Malik, Shahid Afridi and Shabbir Ahmed.

And in a devastating aside, Bedi refers to Muttiah Muralitharan as a "Sri Lankan bandit closing in on a dream artist called Shane Warne".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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