How Saudi national cricket team can benefit from India and Pakistan expertise – Arab News
Cricket, often hailed as a unifying force on the Indian subcontinent, has now transcended borders and found a new home in Saudi Arabia.
With a growing expatriate population from both India and Pakistan, the Saudi Arabian cricket team stands at a unique crossroads of opportunity.
By leveraging the diverse cricketing expertise of Indian and Pakistani expatriates, Saudi Arabia has the potential to forge a formidable team that can compete on the international stage.
Pakistan’s rich cricketing heritage is marked by exceptional bowling talent. The nation has produced world-class fast bowlers known for their raw pace, swing, and unrelenting aggression.
From Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis to Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Amir, Pakistan’s bowlers have left an indelible mark on the sport. By incorporating Pakistani expatriates into the Saudi Arabian cricket team, the bowling department can benefit immensely.
India, on the other hand, has a rich tradition of producing world-class batsmen, from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar to the modern-day maestro Virat Kohli. The artistry, technique and ability to construct innings have been ingrained in the Indian cricketing DNA. By tapping into the expertise of Indian expatriates, Saudi Arabia can infuse its batting lineup with finesse and resilience.
Prince Saud Mishal Al-Saud, chairman of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation, has a keen understanding of the value that Pakistani and Indian cricket brings to the table. Prince Saud has engaged with renowned ex-cricketers, team owners, and diplomats from both Pakistan and India, to foster an environment of collaboration and knowledge-sharing for the growth of Saudi cricket
Prince Saud’s efforts have included meetings with esteemed ex-cricketers including Irfan Pathan and Akram, and team owners Nadeem Omar of the Quetta Gladiators and Manoj Badale of the Rajasthan Royals.
In March 2023, Akram told Arab News he was “optimistic about cricket growth in Saudi Arabia” and “eager to see the sport’s talent from the Kingdom.” Akram was in the Saudi capital for the first time in February where he met Prince Saud to discuss the future of the sport in the Kingdom.
The ongoing Asia Cup further underscores the significance of embracing the collective strength of Indian and Pakistani expatriates in the Saudi Arabian cricket team. The tournament, which brings together cricketing powerhouses from the Asian continent, serves as a catalyst for growth, exposure and recognition.
Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Gulf Cricket Championship starting on Sept. 15 can provide a platform to showcase the team’s progress and potential. By amalgamating the expertise of Indian and Pakistani expatriates, Saudi Arabia can create a balanced team capable of competing against formidable opponents.
COLOMBO: Pace bowler Mohammed Siraj returned figures of 6-21 to lead India’s rout of Sri Lanka by 10 wickets as they clinched their eighth Asia Cup title on Sunday.
Siraj got four wickets in one over to help skittle Sri Lanka out for 50, a total the Indian openers Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill surpassed in 6.1 overs for an impressive victory ahead of next month’s ODI World Cup at home.
Sri Lanka’s miserably low total in the 50-over contest left a nearly packed house disappointed after they witnessed just 116 minutes of play.
The hosts elected to bat first following a delayed start due to rain and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah struck first with the wicket of Kusal Perera, caught behind for a duck in the first over.
Siraj soon took over as he made the ball swing and seam in overcast conditions to easily surpass his previous ODI best of 4-32.
He got Pathum Nissanka for two and then struck on successive balls to send back Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) and Charith Asalanka (0), but a hat-trick was averted.
Dhananjaya de Silva hit a boundary but Siraj had him caught behind with the next ball, much to the delight of the Indian fans.
Siraj got his fifth with the wicket of Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka, equalling an ODI record for the fastest five-wicket haul from his first 16 balls of the match.
Kusal Mendis hit three boundaries before becoming Siraj’s sixth wicket, although Sri Lanka avoided the lowest-ever ODI total of 35 by Zimbabwe.
After Virat Kohli’s overthrow went for a boundary, and six more runs to the total, Sri Lanka pushed past their lowest ODI total of 43 scored against South Africa in 2012.
Hardik Pandya took three wickets to wrap up the innings in just 90 minutes.
Mendis’ 17 and an unbeaten 13 by Dushan Hemantha were the only double-digit scores in an innings that featured five ducks.
Shubman Gill, a centurion in the previous match, began with a boundary in the opening over on his way to an unbeaten 27 and fellow opener Ishan Kishan (23) soon joined the party.
The left-handed Ishan smashed fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana for two successive boundaries, and three more in a row from Gill gave India victory in the tournament’s shortest final.
Rohit Sharma’s India dropped just one match in the tournament after they lost an inconsequential Super Four contest against Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka, who won the previous edition of the Asia Cup played in the T20 format, came in as underdogs and snuck into the Super Fours with a dramatic win over Afghanistan but went down without a fight in their 11th final.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia lost to Kuwait by five wickets in the tournament opener of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 at the West End International Cricket Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Friday.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss in the opening match, Saudi Arabia put in a total of 142 runs in 20 overs with the loss of 9 wickets.
Faisal Khan was the highest scorer from the Saudi side, with 62 runs in 42 balls, hitting 9 fours and a six. His opening partner, Abdul Waheed, scored just 3 runs in as many balls.
The other top scorers were Saad Khan (23), Zainul Abiding (19), and Sarfraz Butt (13). Captain Hisham Sheikh scored 9 runs in 17 balls.
Kuwaiti bowlers Mohammed Aslam and Adnan Idrees took 2 wickets each, helping their side to restrict Saudi Arabia to 142.
Chasing a modest total, the Kuwaiti team started cautiously with an opening partnership of 51 runs when Adnan Idrees was caught on 31.
His opening partner, Ravija Sandaruwan, played a brilliant inning of 58 runs on 41 balls, hitting 3 fours and as many sixes.
Meet Bhavsar made a good contribution of 31 runs on 28 balls, bringing the team closer to victory with Sandaruwan.
Though some wickets fell in quick succession by disciplined bowling in the middle by the Saudi side, Kuwait scored the winning run on the third ball of the 19th over, with 5 wickets and 9 balls remaining.
Ishtiaq Ahmad, Zainul Abidin and Hisham Sheikh took a wicket each, while two Kuwaiti players were run out.
Six Gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar — feature in the maiden Gulf Cricket T20I Championship.
“The wait is over. The Saudi national team is all set for the big day, beginning their run in the Gulf Cricket Tournament against the Kuwait national team this evening,” the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation said before the match on Friday.
“We wish all the best to our national team,” the federation told Arab News.
“Our second match in the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship 2023 will be on Sept. 17 against the UAE, (the) third match is scheduled to be held on Sept. 18 against Bahrain, (the) fourth match on Sept. 20 against Oman, and the fifth and last match (is) on Sept. 21 against Qatar, which is hosting the first T20I Gulf Cricket Championship in Doha from Sept. 15-23.”
The Saudi lineup includes Usman Najeeb, Zainul Abidin, Atifur Rehman, Mohammed Hisham Sheikh, Ishtiaq Ahmad, Abdul Waheed, Zeeshan Sarfraz Butt, Faisal Khan, Saad Khan, Kashif Abbas, Ahmed Abdul Waheed, Mohammed Khalander Mustafa, Mohsin Shabbir and Abdul Manan Ali.
Speaking to the media following a preparatory meeting late last month, Qatar Cricket Association CEO Khaled Al-Suwaidi has said that arrangements have been completed to host the tournament.
“This cricket tournament will be a milestone in the Gulf region and is expected to achieve great development of this sport in the region,” he said.
The hosting of the Gulf Cricket T20I Championship will rotate annually between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, under the auspices of the International Cricket Council and in accordance with rules set by the ICC for the game.
There are three weeks until the opening match of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 on Oct. 5 in Ahmedabad.
Teams are preparing with matches in four countries, involving nine of the 10 participants.
The Asia Cup involves five of the World Cup contestants. Two series involve four countries, England having hosted New Zealand and Australia visited South Africa. The Netherlands, the only associate member playing in the World Cup, last played a competitive ODI match on July 9. Its next one will be a formal World Cup warm-up match on Sept. 30 against Australia in India. Hardly ideal preparation.
Prior to the formal ICC warm-ups, between Sept. 29 and Oct. 3, each country must submit a final 15-man squad by Sept. 28. In the preparation phase it is usual for team managers to trial different formations and players.
England and New Zealand are doing this in their four-match bilateral series. In the first match, England were thrashed by eight wickets, a result greeted with doom and gloom by media and supporters alike.
They had more ammunition after 12.1 overs in the second match when England were 55 for five, having been eight for three after 4.2 overs. Then, Liam Livingstone, a player whose potential has been hampered by injuries in the last 18 months, was the chief architect of a recovery to 226 for seven, scoring an unbeaten 95. An improved bowling display by England saw New Zealand bowled out for 147.
It is unwise to read too much into performances in preparation matches but England will have been pleased to display the depth of both its batting and bowling units. Australia also displayed similar depths in the first two matches of a five-match series in South Africa.
A near hopeless position in the first match was rescued by an eighth wicket partnership of 112 to reach the 223 required for victory. This was even more remarkable given that Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 80, joined play as a concussion substitute. In the second match, Australia amassed 392 for eight, Labuschagne scoring 124. He was not included in Australia’s preliminary World Cup squad. The selectors may need to rethink. South Africa was bowled out for 269. However, they recovered in the third match to win by 111 runs, Labuschagne scoring only 15.
Matches in the Asia Cup carry rather more edge than players simply reacquainting themselves with the ODI format. It is being played mainly in Sri Lanka because of India’s refusal to play in Pakistan, the event’s official host nation. Two weeks ago, the monsoon arrived earlier than expected, causing regular but unpredictable rain. In the round-robin group stage only one match was affected, that between India and Pakistan, leading to shared points. The Super 4 stage commenced on Wednesday Sept. 6, when Pakistan beat Bangladesh. Three days later Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh, to diminish the latter’s chances of further progress.
Another India versus Pakistan clash was scheduled for the following day. Anyone who had not followed the tournament closely, but who was checking the score on the day of play, would have been surprised to note an entry of India 147 for two after 24.1 overs — stumps. This means close of play. A natural reaction would be, this is a one-day match, so why was it not shown as rained off, with points shared?
Fearful of a second India versus Pakistan match being rained off, given adverse forecasts, the Asian Cricket Council announced on Sept. 8 that a reserve day would be added for that match only — the final already has one allocated. It is understood that there had been discussions about relocating to Hambantota in the south of Sri Lanka.
The proposal was rejected in favor of a reserve day in Colombo. No doubt a guiding factor was that of financial implications for broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors. If any further proof of the entanglement between them and those who administrator cricket was required, the decision lays it bare.
Reaction to the decision was mixed. One former Indian fast bowler branded it as “absolutely shameless,” “a mockery” and “unethical.”
The coaches of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka expressed their surprise but were diplomatic, saying that they would have loved to have an extra day. As it is, India gained a point and Pakistan lost one. The decision can be viewed as pragmatic and opportunistic, perhaps a little cynical. Changing a tournament’s rules part way through is both extraordinary and exceptional. It is difficult to see that a similar decision would be taken at an ICC World Cup
There is also, or should be, an issue of equity. Why was provision for a reserve day not afforded to the other Super 4 matches? One explanation may be that the schedule could not be altered to accommodate them. Sri Lanka’s match against Bangladesh on Sept. 9 was followed by India versus Pakistan on Sept. 10, so an overlap would have occurred.
As it was, utilization of the Sept. 11 reserve day meant that India had to play its scheduled match against Sri Lanka on Sept. 12.
Normally, teams are keen to have rest days between matches but, presumably, India was prepared to sacrifice this in the pursuit of beating Pakistan and moving closer to qualifying for the final. There would have been space for a reserve day for the Sri Lanka versus India match.
It would not have been needed as India won by 41 runs in a low scoring and tense encounter, rain interrupting play only briefly.
India was bowled out for 213, with 20-year-old Dunith Wellalage claiming five wickets and scoring an unbeaten 42 in Sri Lanka’s reply of 172.
The result meant that India, with four points, progressed to the final.
The match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, both on two points, will determine who will play India. Once the final is over, they and the other eight teams will travel to India to refamiliarize themselves with local conditions in the warm-up matches.
LONDON: Ben Stokes struck the highest score by an England batsman in a one-day international on Wednesday, his 182 setting up a thrashing of New Zealand at The Oval as he sent a warning to the champions’ World Cup rivals just weeks before they begin the defense of their 50-overs title in India.
Stokes’s stunning innings was just slightly more than England’s colossal 181-run margin of victory that put them 2-1 up in a four-match series ahead of Friday’s finale at Lord’s.
England were struggling at 13-2 after Trent Boult’s early double strike, which included Jonny Bairstow’s exit off the first ball of the match.
But Stokes and Dawid Malan (96) hit back with a third-wicket stand of 199 as England recovered to 368 all out.
New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips kept England at bay with 72 but when he was lbw to spinner Liam Livingstone, the Black Caps were all but beaten at 173-8.
Livingstone (3-16) ended the match with 11 overs to spare when he had No 11 Ben Lister stumped by England captain Jos Buttler as New Zealand were dismissed for 187.
“Coming back into the team after a while out, it’s nice to come back and help the team,” said player-of-the-match Stokes at the presentation ceremony.
Buttler hailed Stokes’s innings by saying: “He’s played a few good ones, but that was amazing.”
Boult kept New Zealand in the game with an impressive 5-51 in 9.1 overs, although England were set for a huge total at 348-5 when Stokes was dismissed.
But they lost their last five wickets for 20 runs, left-arm quick Boult wrapping up the innings with 11 balls to spare.
England, however, had more than enough runs.
Chris Woakes (3-31) did the bulk of the damage as New Zealand — without regular skipper Kane Williamson while the star batsman completes a pre-World Cup recovery from a knee injury — slumped to 37-4, with Reece Topley in the wickets as well.
England begin their quest to retain their 50-overs global title defense against New Zealand — the team they defeated in a dramatic 2019 ‘Super Over’ World Cup final at Lord’s — in Ahmedabad on Oct. 5.
And New Zealand coach Gary Stead said: “I don’t mind Ben Stokes. I’d rather he scored them (runs) now than on October 5.”
Stead took some comfort from the form of Boult, back in New Zealand’s ODI set-up this series for the first time in 12 months after turning down a central contract to play in Australia’s lucrative Big Bash League.
“It’s great to have Trent back,” said Stead. “In two games he’s showed his ability as a world-class player to knock the top off England. It’s just a pity we haven’t capitalized on those starts.”
Earlier, the 34-year-old Boult had Bairstow caught at deep backward square before inducing Joe Root to inside-edge onto his stumps.
But Stokes hit back in remarkable fashion with a 124-ball innings, including 15 fours and nine sixes, that surpassed Jason Roy’s previous England record of 180 against Australia at Melbourne in 2018.
One worrying sign for England, however, was the familiar sight of Stokes, whose previous ODI top score was 102 not out, grimacing in pain thanks to a chronic knee problem he hopes to manage all the way through the World Cup.
But Stokes, off the field at the start of New Zealand’s chase, said: “I just needed a little bit of treatment…”It (the knee injury) is getting better and better.”
Boult again troubled an England top-order once more missing Roy after the opener suffered a fresh back spasm.
But Malan, who missed England’s 79-run win in Southampton on Sunday to attend the birth of his son, responded with a 52-ball fifty as he looked to cement his place in a 15-man World Cup squad.
Malan, fell just shy of what would have been his fifth hundred in 20 ODIs when he got a faint edge to wicketkeeper Tom Latham.
But Stokes, in a dynamic display of shot-making, broke Roy’s record in style with a six off Lister, only to hole out off the paceman two balls later.
There are many legendary rivalries in sport.
Football’s local derbies between clubs in the same or adjacent cities, usually inflame partisan attitudes. Historically, in cricket, the Ashes series between Australia and England have been fiercely fought for over 140 years. Yet, it is a more recent rivalry which inflames passions the most, that between India and Pakistan. This is fueled not just by the sport but by the subcontinent’s geopolitics, which have created an intense rivalry and unique set of tensions.
Since the first Test match in 1952 between the two newly formed countries with a shared history and culture, there have been only another 58, played over 15 series. None were played between 1962 and 1977, during which time wars occurred between them in 1965 and 1971. Attempts at reconciliation did bear fruit, with exchange tours taking place in 2005 and 2006. However, the series in 2007 proved to be the last one, as the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai ushered in a new era of political tensions, with serious repercussions for cricket.
Until 2008, it is hardly a surprise that 60 percent of the Test matches were drawn, given the pressure on the teams. Pakistan won 11 of the 20 Tests which did produce a result. Currently, there appears to be little prospect of any resumption of bilateral cricket between the two countries. It is in the shorter formats, organized by either the International Cricket Council or the Asian Cricket Council, that the battles are fought out.
The first One-Day International between the two countries took place in 1978. After a gap of 17 years in play between the two countries, India toured Pakistan to contest three Tests and three ODIs, along with six other matches. Pakistan won two of the Tests, with one drawn. In the third ODI, India was well placed to win, requiring 23 from the final three overs. What followed was the first in a line of controversies which occurred in ODIs between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s fast bowler pitched the first ball of the over short, it flew over the batter’s head into the wicketkeeper’s gloves. A wide was not signaled by the umpire. The next three deliveries all had the same outcome. India’s captain opted to concede the match and the series. Thus India’s second tour to Pakistan since 1954-55 ended improperly.
Between 1982 and 1990, five series were played, three in Pakistan and two in India. In 1978, Pakistan led the three-match ODI series 1-0 but, in the final match, slumped to 11 for three in the face of a stunning display of swing bowling. This was clearly not to the liking of the spectators who began throwing stones at India’s fielders. The match was abandoned.
In 1992, India and Pakistan met for the first time in an ODI World Cup, having avoided each other in the previous four tournaments. India scored 216 for seven. During Pakistan’s unsuccessful reply, verbal jousting broke out between India’s wicketkeeper and a Pakistani batter, who complained to the umpire, who took no action. After another exchange, the Pakistani decided to show his displeasure by performing a few leapfrog impressions, an act unlikely to have improved diplomatic relations between the teams.
Another incident which is now ingrained in cricket folklore occurred in the Sahara “Friendship” Cup in 1997, held in Canada. After heckling one of India’s fielders during Pakistan’s innings, the verbal assailant, armed with a megaphone, turned his attention to a Pakistani boundary fielder during India’s innings. His jibe focused on the fielder’s corpulent build. Folklore has it that the fielder arranged for a bat to be brought to him.
When the abuse restarted, the fielder attacked the heckler. Eyewitnesses reported that only restraining action by spectators and security staff prevented acute damage being inflicted on the heckler, an Indian living in Canada. It took 40 minutes for the captains to calm the spectators. Both men filed charges of assault against one another, later withdrawing them.
There have been 17 bilateral ODI series between the two countries. Six have been played in India and seven in Pakistan. Neutral venues hosted the others, three in Canada between 1996 and 1998, one in the UAE in 2006, in which each team won one match. Overall, it is Pakistan which has emerged winners on 57 percent of occasions, claiming 11 series. The last series was held in 2012-13, after a brief rapprochement in 2011, when the two teams met in a semifinal of the ODI World Cup.
Only 12 T20 Internationals have been played between the two countries. Eight have taken place during T20I World Cups, two being in the 2022 World Cup. They also met twice in 2007’s World Cup, in the group stage and in the final, which India won by five runs. Pakistan’s defeat was received badly at home, with effigies of its players being burnt publicly. A two-match series was played in 2012 in which honors were even. Overall, India has won 75 percent of its T20Is against Pakistan.
In total, India and Pakistan have faced each other 203 times across the three formats, Pakistan edging slightly ahead with 55 percent of wins in matches which produced a result. If normal relations had existed between the two countries, this number of matches would be at least double. Perhaps the restrictions which are in place serve to heighten the anticipation and desire to watch the match, either live or on screen, when the occasions arise.
Anticipation was dampened in Kandy, Sri Lanka, in the group stage of the Asia Cup match last Saturday. India scored 266 all out, but rain prevented a response from Pakistan. Both teams have progressed to the Super 4 stage and will lock horns again on Sept. 10.
It is possible that they may meet in the final a week later. On top of this, they are scheduled to meet in the ICC ODI World Cup in Ahmedabad on Nov. 14. After years of intermittent contest, a frenzy of action is now in prospect.


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