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Saturday June 15, 2024

Will Pakistan’s sports fortunes revive in 2024?

By Syed Intikhab Ali
February 10, 2024

KARACHI: The year 2023 and this years’ early days have proved disastrous for Pakistan sports, particularly cricket and hockey.

Pakistan Cricket Team can be seen in this image. — AFP/File
Pakistan Cricket Team can be seen in this image. — AFP/File

Not only did Pakistan lose the upcoming 14th South Asian Games 2024, but we also didn’t do well in cricket – facing league-stage exits in the Asia Cup and the World Cup 2023 besides suffering humiliating defeats in Test and T20I series in Australia and New Zealand, respectively. The same happened in hockey as Pakistan, despite putting the hard yards to restore the lost image, failed to make-cut for the Paris Olympics 2024 due to wrong decisions and differences among the top officials of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

It should be noted that we also failed to secure the spot in 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, and also lost badly in Asian Games 2023 in China. Pakistan junior hockey team, despite comprising at least 10 players from the senior team, could not reach the quarter-finals besides doing poorly in the Hockey-5 World Cup.

In cricket, several changes at the top in last one year destroyed the team’s combination. First Ramiz Raja was thrown out by Najam Sethi. Then Sethi was replaced by Zaka Ashraf who had to resign before the expiry of the contract as Khawar Shah was appointed till the elections, and after the elections on February 6 Mohsin Naqvi has been appointed as the chief of the board. The rapid changes shattered the confidence of PCB’s management as well as the team.

Changes of captain, coaches, assistant coaches, selectors and players ultimately resulted in poor results in all the formats. Some unbelievable decisions were also seen in this period in both disciplines such as in Asian Games 2023 Shahnaz Sheikh was the head coach of Pakistan hockey team but he did not accompany the team in China, as his passport was not processed for visa, and he remained in Pakistan during the Asian Games.

In cricket, Mickey Arthur was appointed director of cricket team and he mostly worked online. Such strange decisions affected severely the performance of Pakistan cricket and hockey teams in big events.

The withdrawal of hosting rights of 14th South Asian Games was a setback for overall Pakistani sports as the young and enthusiastic sportsmen and sportswomen have been deprived of the opportunity to show their skills at their home ground and in front of home crowd and at the same time deprived us of the chance to utilise newly developed sports infrastructure.

However, now the issue of the appointments of PCB chairman and PHF president have been resolved and hopefully the electoral process for the election of Pakistan Olympics Association (POA) will also be completed in coming months. And we may hope for some improvement.