‘Special atmosphere’ as India exploit familiar surroundings to beat Pakistan

‘Special atmosphere’ as India exploit familiar surroundings to beat Pakistan
India's Hardik Pandya (2nd L) shakes hands with Pakistan's Naseem Shah (R) after India defeated Pakistan during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 group A cricket match at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in East Meadow, New York on June 9, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 10 June 2024
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‘Special atmosphere’ as India exploit familiar surroundings to beat Pakistan

‘Special atmosphere’ as India exploit familiar surroundings to beat Pakistan
  • On a pitch that lacked quality, Pakistan never looked like they could overcome their fierce rivals in World Cup
  • Early rain caused several stops and starts, but India came out as a team that had played on the ground before

NEW YORK: What an experience. From the moment I arrived in New York on June 7, when I immediately felt the match build-up, to mingling with cricket fans in Times Square, to being in the ground, it is an event I will never forget.

All conversations centered on Pakistan’s match with India, cricket in North America and cricket in general, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Then came the match, which lived up to all my expectations and then some.

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium is an hour and a half away from Times Square by taxi. Thick cloud accompanied fans travelling to the stadium and the poor early weather could have brought Pakistan into the game as Shaheen’s swing bowling would add to already difficult batting conditions.

If India had won the toss, I would have feared they would take full advantage, but Pakistan’s captain, Babar Azam, called correctly and opted to bowl first.

Early rain caused several stops and starts, but India came out as a team that had played on the ground before, whereas this was Pakistan’s first outing in New York. India’s advantage of already experiencing the conditions and winning there was evident.

Although Pakistan claimed the prized wickets of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India’s openers, early on, Rishabh Pant and a promoted Axar Patel illustrated exactly how ready India were to take the game to their great rivals. Their aggressive approach was designed to make the Pakistan bowlers crumble. I never got the sense that Pakistan genuinely believed they could win. Even with India two wickets down cheaply, the team in green could not quite believe the position in which they found themselves.

I have a great deal of respect for both sets of players, as they were playing on a surface that was not fit for international cricket. This is not just my view but that of many experienced observers. The pitch was dangerous at times and every batter struggled. Each player chose his own way of dealing with the demons. Rishabh Pant was ultra-aggressive and the rest of his team followed suit. India took more risks and rode their luck, but fortune often favors the brave.

Once India had taken their total to a modest 119, most people would think the chasing team held all the aces. Unfortunately for Pakistan, it felt like none of their batters felt the same way. They opted to try and dig deep, which was understandable, but any invention, drive and intent was lacking.

Jasprit Bumrah was outstanding with the ball, well supported by Hardik Pandya and Mohammad Siraj. Once Mohammad Rizwan was dismissed, the task seemed too large for the rest of the Pakistan batting.

The atmosphere in the ground, though, was special. The two sets of fans mixed, although Pakistan’s supporters were heavily outnumbered. As the teams traded blows, the excitement switched from one set of fans to the other. I was watching both as a cricket fan and with my media head, but still lost my voice through giving vocal support.

Even the seats in the big temporary stands were blue, something that could perhaps have been changed. It must have been intimidating for the Pakistan players and it is difficult to escape the feeling that small, seemingly inconsequential, actions create favorable environments for Team India. The almost total lack of Pakistan supporters in Ahmedabad for the match against India in the ODI World Cup last year comes to mind.

Nevertheless, the Indian team was excellent. When their backs were against the wall, they showed fight and a genuine togetherness. India are incredibly confident, they believe in what they are doing, have clarity of thought and in their roles, and are backed by their management structure.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have a number of problems. They do not appear to believe in themselves and the off-field instability shows no sign of change. Despite the closeness of the scores on the day, the two sides are a long way apart.

There were big opportunities for Pakistan throughout the match. The pitch conditions were a leveler, whilst they bowled well to restrict India with wickets in the latter stages. They could have grabbed the game, but let things slip and fell short. In a match where every run mattered, India captain Rohit Sharma chose the right moves, Babar was slow to react. An example of Pakistan’s problems was that leg-spinner Shadab Khan was not asked to bowl a single over. Why, then, is he in the team, if the captain does not appear to possess enough faith in his bowling?

Turning to the American market, the spectacle was mesmerizing, even crazy. It was a day the like of which I have never before experienced and something that still has me buzzing. Anyone at the game will surely want to watch more cricket. However, if its best side is to be shown to the Americans, the quality of pitches has to improve. There is a risk that a golden opportunity has been missed.

A better pitch would have provided even better entertainment. No doubt there will be those who argue that the pitch created a close and tense match. This misses the point. The variable pitch conditions across the nine grounds on which the World Cup is being played may hand skewed advantages and disadvantages to individual teams.

The defeat leaves Pakistan on the brink of an early exit from the tournament. Their fate is no longer in their own hands, with the USA, India and Canada ahead of them in the group. A victory for the USA over Ireland will see Pakistan out, which is not acceptable in a group containing three much lower-ranked sides. The Super Eights were the bare minimum objective for Pakistan.

The team’s performance is a byproduct of everything that has happened over the last two years. All the chaos, the poor off-field management and instability, mean the desired levels of professionalism are lacking. It is going to take more than changing the coaches to resolve the issues. The new coach, Gary Kirsten, bemoaned poor decision-making by batters after reaching 72 for two with eight overs left.

I did not expect Pakistan to beat India. In fact, I predicted a clear India win. The closeness of the game should not be seen as any kind of positive or used to mask Pakistani deficiencies. It never felt like Pakistan were destined to win. There is an obvious and large gap in standard between the two sides, which will take serious work to bridge.

Pakistan will not be eliminated from the T20 World Cup just because of this defeat in New York. The damage was done by the defeat to the USA. However good this was for the competition and tournament hosts, it was a match which Pakistan should never have lost. They will be going home early because, currently, they are not good enough to stay.


Pakistan advises its nationals to take precaution, stay away from student protests in Bangladesh

Pakistan advises its nationals to take precaution, stay away from student protests in Bangladesh
Updated 42 sec ago
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Pakistan advises its nationals to take precaution, stay away from student protests in Bangladesh

Pakistan advises its nationals to take precaution, stay away from student protests in Bangladesh
  • Tens of thousands of students have been holding nationwide protests since early July against public sector job quotas
  • PM Hasina has labeled protesters “razakar,” term for those who allegedly collaborated with Pakistani army during 1971 war

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka on Wednesday advised Pakistani students in Bangladesh to take necessary precautions and stay away from student protests in which at least six people have been killed and scores injured in the last 24 hours. 
Tens of thousands of students have been holding nationwide protests since early July against public sector job quotas, including a 30 percent quota for family members of freedom fighters from the 1971 War of Independence, amid high youth unemployment. 
Demonstrations intensified after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who led Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan, refused to meet the protesters’ demands and labeled those opposing the quota as “razakar,” a term used for those who allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani army during the 1971 war.
“Pakistan High Commission advises students to take all possible precautions for their safety and stay away from protests,” the High Commission said in a statement. “Campus residents have been advised to stay in their hostel rooms.”
On Wednesday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar also spoke to the Pakistani High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Ambassador Syed Maruf, to inquire about the welfare of Pakistanis in Bangladesh.
“Maruf informed the Deputy Prime Minister about the security situation and the steps taken by the High Commission to ensure the welfare of Pakistanis in Bangladesh,” the statement said. “The embassy has opened a helpline for the convenience of people in distress.”
The protests turned violent this week when thousands of anti-quota protesters clashed with members of the student wing of the ruling Awami League party across the country. Six people, including at least three students, were killed during clashes on Tuesday, police said.
The protests are the first significant challenge to Hasina’s government since she secured a fourth consecutive term in January in an election boycotted by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).


Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
Updated 21 min 25 sec ago
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Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers

Pakistan protests to Afghanistan over militant attack on cantonment, killing eight soldiers
  • Eight soldiers killed while blocking militants from entering military cantonment in Bannu on Monday
  • Two soldiers, five civilians killed in militant attack on Rural Health Center in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: The deputy head of mission at the embassy of Afghanistan in Islamabad was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, Wednesday, to deliver Pakistan’s “strong demarche” over a militant attack at an army cantonment this week in which eight soldiers were killed, the foreign office said.

Ten soldiers and five civilians were killed this week in two separate attacks in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. In the first attack on Monday, militants tried to enter a cantonment in the city of Bannu and a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into a perimeter wall. Eight soldiers and ten militants were killed, the army said. 

In a second, separate, attack early Tuesday, five civilians, including two female health workers and two children, were killed in an attack on a health facility in the Dera Ismail Khan district. Two soldiers and all three militants were killed in subsequent clashes, the military said.

Pakistan has seen a surge in militancy in recent months that it blames on militants operating out of Afghanistan. Kabul denies that it allows its territory to be used by insurgents and says Pakistan’s security woes are a domestic issue.

“The terrorist attack [in Bannu] was carried out by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group based in Afghanistan. Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, along with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of civilians and law enforcement officials in multiple terrorist attacks inside Pakistan,” the foreign office said in a statement.

“The Interim Afghan Government was urged to fully investigate and take immediate, robust and effective action against the perpetrators of the Bannu attack and to prevent the recurrence of such attacks against Pakistan using the territory of Afghanistan.”

The foreign office said it had “serious concerns” about the presence of militant outfits inside Afghanistan that continued to threaten Pakistan’s security. 

“Such incidents also go against the spirit of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries,” the foreign office added. “The Bannu Cantonment attack is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by terrorism to regional peace and security. Pakistan reiterates the call for decisive action against terrorism and remains steadfast in its commitment to combat this menace and to uphold its security against all threats.”


Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
Updated 17 July 2024
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Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions

Pakistan issues glacial lake flood warnings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan regions
  • Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people
  • NDMA recently launched Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines

ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Wednesday issued a glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF) alert for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the mountainous northern region of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Floods in 2022, brought by record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern mountains, killed over 1,700 people and impacted 33 million people out of a population of 220 million, sweeping away homes, vehicles, crops and livestock in damage estimated at $30 billion. 

“National Emergencies Operation Center (NEOC) has warned of possible glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the mountainous regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan due to rising temperatures and expected heavy rainfall from July 17 to 23, 2024,” the NDMA said in a statement. “This may lead to increased water levels in local rivers and streams, landslides, and flash flooding.”

The disaster management authority said it had directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as the Gilgit-Baltistan Disaster Management Authority to coordinate with relevant departments to ensure necessary preparations and emergency response measures. 

“Departments have been instructed to alert local communities, tourists, and travelers in the areas at risk and to avoid unnecessary travel. Mock drills should also be conducted in vulnerable areas to ensure timely evacuation and safety of people,” NDMA said. 

The authority recently launched the Pak NDMA Disaster Alert application, available on Google Play Store and iOS App Store, to provide timely alerts, adviseries and guidelines to the public.


Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
Updated 17 July 2024
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Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security

Yaum-e-Ashura processions held across Pakistan amid heightened security
  • Ashura is tenth day of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate death of Imam Hussein
  • Interior ministry had approved army deployment across Pakistan to ensure peace during Muharram

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of thousands of mourners took out processions across Pakistan on Wednesday amid heightened security measures to observe Yaum-e-Ashura, the holiest day on the Shiite Muslim calendar.

Yaum-e-Ashura is the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), in Karbala, Iraq. 

“The martyrdom of Imam Hussain teaches us to stand firm against oppression,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a message to the public. “In today’s world, we witness the people of Palestine enduring immense hardships and making immense sacrifices for a great cause. Similarly people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are also suffering the atrocities of the oppressive forces.”

Shiite Muslims take part in a religious procession to mark Ashura on the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, in Lahore on July 17, 2024. (AFP)

President Asif Ali Zardari said the martyrs of Karbala had given a lesson to the Muslim Ummah “to remain steadfast in the face of all kinds of brutalities and raise their voice against all evils,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

The interior ministry had approved army deployment across the country to ensure peace and security during the holy month of Muharram and had banned the use of drones during processions and gatherings.

The main procession in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore set out from Nisar Haveli in the Mohalla Chillah Bibian on Wednesday morning and will culminate at the Karbala Ghamay Shah Imambargah.

In Karachi, the main procession departed from Nishtar Park and will conclude at the Hussainiya Iraniyan Imam Bargah.

Shiite Muslims shout anti-Israel slogans during a religious procession on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, in Karachi on July 16, 2024. (AFP)

In Peshawar, the main procession began from GT Road and passed through Mukri Bazaar service road and is expected to conclude at 4pm, according to the City Traffic Police.


Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed

Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed
Updated 17 July 2024
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Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed

Daesh claims responsibility for mosque attack in Oman, four Pakistanis killed
  • Attack took place at Shiite mosque in Wadi Al-Kabir in Omani capital of Muscat
  • Attack raises fears that Daesh may be trying to gain a foothold in new territory

ISLAMABAD: The Daesh group claimed responsibility for an attack at a Shiite Muslim mosque in Oman, the group said on Tuesday, which left at least nine people dead, including four Pakistanis, a rare security breach in the oil-producing Gulf state.

The attack on Monday, which is unusual in the wealthy Gulf state, raises fears that Daesh may be trying to gain a foothold in new territory.

“Three suicide attackers from the Islamic State attacked last night a gathering of Shiite (Muslims) while they were practicing their annual rituals at a temple in the Wadi Al-Kabir district in the (Omani) capital,” according to the group’s statement, which cited three security sources.

The Daesh fighters fired on Shiite worshippers and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning, the statement added.

Daesh late on Tuesday published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. The group also said that the attack left more than 30 Shiite Muslims and five Omani forces, including a police officer, killed or wounded.

“According to the latest information received from the Omani authorities, four Pakistanis were martyred as a result of gunshots in the dastardly terrorist attack on the Ali bin Abi Talib mosque in Wadi Kabeer area in Muscat,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said. “Another thirty Pakistanis are under treatment in hospitals.”

Videos shared by the embassy in Oman showed Pakistan’s ambassador to Oman Imran Ali visiting the injured in hospital. 

“This is my message to the Pakistani community that in this emergency situation, please don’t go toward Wadi Al-Kabir, that area is cordoned off,” Ali said in a video message recorded at a hospital. “If anyone has injured relatives, kindly please don’t give up on your patience.”

He said he had visited up to four hospitals and the injured people he had met were in “relatively” stable condition. 

“People in their homes, please stay safe, and don’t go there [toward Wadi Al-Kabir] because our information is that the emergency situation is still ongoing,” the ambassador concluded.

A handout from the embassy said the “terrorist” attack by “unknown assailants” took place around 11pm on Monday night on the Imam Bargah Ali bin Abu Talib in Wadi Al-Kabir. Authorities evacuated people from the area following the attack and started an operation around 230am.

“Assailants have taken worshippers hostages while reportedly [there are] several casualties; authorities have cordoned off the area,” it added. “Hostage evacuation has started now. Military units have reached.”

The Pakistani embassy’s Facebook page said emergency had been imposed at the Khulla Hospital, Nahida Hospital and Royal Hospital, which Ambassador Ali had visited. 

The attack comes during the Islamic month of Muharram, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).