New Zealand ready for Pakistan reaction, says Black Caps’ Ajaz Patel

Patel had a brilliant debut in Abu Dhabi where he took five wickets and won man-of-the-match. (AFP)
Updated 22 November 2018

New Zealand ready for Pakistan reaction, says Black Caps’ Ajaz Patel

  • Kiwis looking for first away win over Pakistan since 1969.
  • Pakistan stung by criticism of their brittle batting in first Test.

DUBAI: The man who spun New Zealand to a stunning victory in the first Test against Pakistan has vowed to keep the pressure on the home team when the two sides meet again in the second Test in Dubai on Saturday.
Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel had a dream start to his Test career, claiming a memorable five for 59 in Abu Dhabi to help New Zealand pull off a sensational four-run win after setting Pakistan a modest 176-run target.
The 30-year-old, who collected the man of the match award in Abu Dhabi, said keeping up the pressure is the key in a Test.
“I think it will be pretty much the same plan, to keep the pressure for a longer period of time and keep bowling good balls in good areas,” Patel told AFP.
“A good ball is a good ball in Test cricket and batters respect that. Likewise they will put pressure back on us so it’s a bit of a cat and mouse game, backward and forward, so we will do our best.”
Pakistan have been stung by the criticism of their self-destructive batting which saw them throw away their last seven wickets for just 41 runs. The Black Caps are preparing for the backlash.
“Pakistan batsmen are good players of spin and after that defeat they will go hard on us so we will be ready for that,” said Patel.
Another win would give New Zealand their first series triumph away to Pakistan since Graham Dowling led them to a 1-0 success in 1969.

KIWI RESILIENCE

Patel praised New Zealand’s never-say-die approach.
“To be honest we had the belief that it can happen on this wicket which wasn’t easy to bat on and we kept that belief that we can pull that off,” said Patel.
Patel said New Zealand have a tradition of fighting hard.
“I think it’s a very much a New Zealand environment thing, that is that everything is possible at any point of time and we always go out and fight regardless of chasing or defending a small total or a large total.
“Cricket is a funny game and one ball can change things very quickly so it’s one of those things. If you keep fighting every ball you walk off satisfied and we take this approach in every game.”
Patel, born in Mumbai before migrating to New Zealand as a six-year-old kid, was selected on the tour after his stellar performance for Central Stags during which he took 48 wickets last year.
And he looks forward to playing against the country of his birth next year when India tour New Zealand.
“I will be fortunate if I am able to play in that series,” said Patel. “As a growing Indian you are always passionate about cricket and you watch a lot of great Indian players just like I have watched New Zealand players.”
Patel hopes he can test his skills against Virat Kohli.
“Kohli will be a great challenge,” said Patel of the Indian maestro. “You always want to challenge yourself against the best and he is the best in the world.
“So if that comes I will cherish it and give it the best crack.”
The second Test between Pakistan and New Zealand starts in Dubai on Saturday.


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”