The leaves wither they turn old. India and Sri Lanka are primarily experiencing this phase. There are more greens their tree today. Pakistan almost situation where the leaves are about autobiographies fall. The cricketing expiry for Misbah and Younus much closer than what it was yesterday. Take the story of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, autobiographies example. The chances of comeback become slim for the veteran sportsmen moment the form slips away. As long as the fire in the lamp withstands the external pressure of the winds, these legendary players can continue writing more pages in their autobiographies.
India, now in the Sri Lankan shores, are all set to be challenged in conditions they are more familiar of. Ever since the dramatic 8-0 whitewashes in 2011-12, India showed mild signs of recovery. They have had to reshuffle the batting line up ever since the glorious trinity signed off along with the famous Delhi openers who seem to have lost their mojo. Fortunately, they have managed to construct another batting order which a lot of top ranked test countries can feel jealous about. But that’s about the best part of the segment that the team can feel proud of. As a unit, the losses at South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia meant that the slide wasn’t arrested. With the one-off Bangladesh test abandoned due to rain, this Lankan tour is the beginning of a two year journey around the rivers and mountains of the sub-continent.
With a new leader and with the Board all set to soon announce the new coach, who would be the man to plot the route map for the future, India’s test resurgence is in tricky waters. The followers of the sport in the mad nation have had a long break since the IPL. Since IPL they have had to endure an ignominious one-day tour of Bangladesh. It has been the longest break for the team for a long time. Kohli has promised that he will play five bowlers thus thrusting more responsibility both on the top and the lower order batsmen. So far, Kohli’s approach as a leader has been all about making the moves to create a positive result. The aggressive attitude now goes a step further to embolden and empower the players with more trust and responsibility. It is time for his players to contribute with a very conscious mindset craving for consistency. With more matches scheduled in the sub-continent, the onus would be on the spinners to take lead with the attack.
On the other side of the border, Pakistan’s resurgence in test cricket has been nothing less than extraordinary. It is no easy task to defend at the adopted home as well as to beat the Lankans in their territory. Significantly, the batsmen contributed crucial runs for their bowlers to pick twenty wickets. After a relentless search for steady batsmen who build their game on temperament, Pakistan seem to have solved the puzzle. Ahmed Shehzad’s ability to convert starts into hundreds has provided a reasonable stability at the top of the order. Shan Masood, is still very young. But he showed enough gumption to convince about his ability and temperament. Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali have been the biggest finds for Pakistan cricket in recent times. They have been the pillars around whom the game revolves. The best part about the two is that, they emerge from a different school of cricket where calmness and patience are considered as stepping stones for success. Shafiq and Ali have both tasted success and have good knowledge of what it takes to score hundreds in test matches. Between Shafiq and Ali, come the most experienced Pakistani pair of Younus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq. While they both don’t seem to come close to an end with their careers, Pakistan’s fresh approach in ODIs gives a good look into their batting resources when the legends call it a day. That Pakistan completed a rout in Sri Lanka, defeating the hosts in all formats of the game, shows that the team is experiencing a positive growth. After the final T20, there were great scenes of camaraderie and team bonding. Importantly, Pakistan have showed that they enough stomach for challenge and hunger for victory.
The inclusion of Sarfaraz Ahmed in the middle order is the single most powerful addition for their line-up. Teams are prone to produce inconsistent results if they carry a lot of flashy batsmen. Such batsmen will change the complexion of the game within a session or two. Since their approach can’t be tempered, it would be difficult to expect them play a fighting innings. Sarfaraz, amazingly, can play both roles. He has lent fire to the batting order that finally found solidity and method to their game.
While Pakistan need not worry about the fast bowler produce, Saeed Ajmal’s exit from the scene could have spelt dooms for any team. Yasir Shah’s emergence as an attacking leg spinner smoothened the transition. Yasir Shah provides Misbah with both control and strike force. When the batsmen succeed, Shah becomes a bigger prospect for Pakistan’s success. The way he bowled in Sri Lanka on not so friendly surfaces was a display of his stern character and his ability to play according to the conditions.
Pakistan’s biggest challenge, though, is yet to arrive. They have slowly begun to become a strong opponent in home conditions. But just like how the challenge was for India, or for that matter any other subcontinent team, Pakistan’s ability to survive and succeed will be tested on a bigger scale when they play in Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand.
The latest victim of the Bangladesh assault were the South Africans. Not so long ago, Bangladesh gave both India and Pakistan a rude lesson that told the world that they have finally arrived. While Bangladesh’s resurgence has mostly been in the ODIs, they made some impression when they bowled out South Africa for under 250 and took an important lead in the first test at Dhaka. The promise that Bangladesh have shown in the past six months only makes us believe that the team has matured heads who are ready to act responsibly for team’s success now. At the helm of affairs is Hathurusinghe, who is carving a legacy of his own with this resurgence. The coach has gone the long yards to make his team believe that they definitely can. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza have absorbed enough quality of international cricket, that they can be the torch bearers for Bangladesh cricket now. These players have shown immense maturity in taking ownership on the field and guiding the younger ones in the best way possible.
Considering the following that Bangladesh have in their backyard, it was going to be impossible for them to never improve. All this while, the stars who are torch bearers today were seeking inspiration to grow bigger. Their heroes never made it big. They got back home defeated again and again.
With Australia touring Bangladesh next, there wouldn’t be a better measure of their progress than testing it against Australia’s Gold Standard.
Sri Lanka have a problem aplenty. It is a mixed scenario that each of India and Pakistan have experienced for a long time. Under Angelo Mathews, this Lankan team is taking baby steps with their resurgence. The best aspect of this resurgence has been the performance of their fast bowlers. The tank is full with quality that Mathews can afford to prepare fast and seaming tracks for their bowlers to achieve desired results. Dhammika Prasad has come of age. Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera have had their moments. Twenty three year old Chameera, especially, has come for a lot of praise. Along with the captain himself, Sri Lanka’s pace attack are in good shape for the present and for the immediate future.
But their real concerns come with their batsmen. Jayawardane is gone. Dilshan is gone. So will Sangakkara by the end of this month. While the batting has shown odd sparks with Kaushal Silva and Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews continues to be the lynch pin in this batting order. The replacements and the next-in-line are the players who have been there with the team earlier. Jehan Mubarak’s and Upul Tharanga’s selections gives away the fact that the older men who were discarded before, continue to be the best of the lot to play test cricket. Sangakkara’s fear in the loss of quality in the first class cricket, is well placed. If the structure can’t produce new talents then there is something wrong that needs to be fixed at the earliest.
The Lankans trust Chandimal and Thirimanne a lot. While they have been impressive in shorter formats, both players need to raise their hands up now to shoulder responsibility. The series against India, is hence going to be very crucial for these two players. If both of them fail to make any mark, the middle order will be in tatters.
PDP Celebrates Obasanjo At 84
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has celebrated former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his 84th birthday.
The party in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Friday described Obasanjo as a patriotic leader and a global figure.
He also described the former president as exceptionally energetic administrator, who made immeasurable contributions, both as a military leader and democratically elected president for the survival, unity, stability and development of Nigeria.
“As a military leader, Obasanjo fought for the unity of our dear nation during its turbulent hours as well as making immense personal sacrifices for the return of democratic rule with the Second Republic in 1979.
“Twenty years after, as a democratically elected President, on the platform of our great party, the PDP, Obasanjo further united our nation with entrenchment of democratic values of all-inclusiveness,” he said.
Ologbondiyan said that Nigerians celebrated Obasanjo for running a visionary administration, leading to the revamping the country’s productive sectors.
“Under the Obasanjo-led PDP administration, our nation witnessed most of its best days as Nigerians particularly in the private sector, thrived in all fields.
“These included telecommunication, aviation, banking and finance, education, manufacturing, sports, entertainment, real estate, healthcare both at home and in the international arena.
“Our party extols Obasanjo’s undying sense of patriotism and love for our dear nation for which he has remained fearlessly active in his counsels, directions and admonitions,” he said.
He prayed God to grant him many more years in good health for the benefit of Nigeria and humanity at large.
Insecurity: Inter-Faith Group Appeals To CAN, Others To See President Buhari As Leader For All
The National Inter-Faith Religious Organizations for Peace (NIFROP) has urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other religious bodies in the country to embrace President Muhammadu Buhari as a leader for all.
According to the foremost interfaith-faith group, the president has never demonstrated bias against Christians, Muslims or any other religious sect in the country.
This unshakable faith in the unity of Nigeria, the group reckoned, was visible at the last polls in 2019, in which Nigerians across religious and ethnic lines massively voted for the president.
NIFROP’s remarks trails CAN’s insinuation that President Buhari’s prolonged silence on Sheikh Ahmad Gumi’s alleged profiling of military operatives is tantamount to endorsement of the Islamic cleric.
However, speaking at a press conference on Friday, in Abuja, through its grand patron, Bishop Julius Idiwe, NIFROP warned the Christian body not to drag the president into bigotry or partisanship.
Bishop Idiwe noted that CAN’s unwarranted outburst and vituperation on the presidency, with intent to incite the public, negates the core norms and values of all religions.
The inter-faith group insisted that President Buhari has always taken an impartial stand on national issues and doesn’t jump into every statement in the public domain.
Idiwe recalled how Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka and other Christian preachers in the past launched scathing attacks on the president without any reprimand whatsoever.
While Gumi has insistently canvassed for compensation and amnesty for the bandits, the respected Christian cleric said President Buhari has rejected his proposal.
He, therefore, advised CAN to promote peaceful co-existence, unity, togetherness and the indivisibility of Nigeria.
Read the full statement below:
The leadership of the NationalInter-Faith Religious Organizations for Peace ( NIFROP) is compelled to address a component of us, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over comments attributed to an Islamic cleric, Shiek Ahmad Gumi on his alleged negative profiling of non-Muslim soldiers fighting insecurities in the frontlines, in President Muhammadu Buhari was unfairly dragged into a religious campaign. We find the contents of CAN’s statement untrue and a misrepresentation of reality concerning the Buhari Presidency.
NIFROP has found the public utterances and outbursts of CAN, a major Christian body in Nigeria against the Government, office and person of President Buhari extremely misdirected and misleading. And we believe, it is because of a lack of basic knowledge of the operations or mindset of this Presidency.
NIFROP is unexcited the more by the consistent focus by CAN, as exemplified even in the current public statement to align the personality or the Buhari Presidency to the country’s regressive national faultlines of ethnicity, religion and regionalism, even when there is enough evidence against such sermonized inclinations on the President. We again wish to bring to the notice of CAN’s leadership that President Buhari has consistently over the years, clearly resisted a romance with such biases.
It is the conviction of NIFROP that the sacred obligation of religious leaders in the country is to seek peace as also amplified by the Holy Scriptures. It is completely unreasonable to stoke troubles in the land in the magnitude that would cause the widespread crisis. It is our divine duty as clerics to promote peaceful co-existence, unity, togetherness and the indivisibility of Nigerians and Nigeria.
Therefore, CAN’s unwarranted outburst and vituperations on the Presidency, intent on public incitement of the people negates these core norms and values of all religions, as we collectively seek for a unified nation. It is a task President Buhari has glaringly and religiously committed his heart to it as leader of this nation.
President Buhari has never demonstrated through words o actions any discrimination against neither Christian nor Muslims or preference for a particular religious sect in this country. He has not shown any favouritism to any section of this country against another based on religion or ethnicity. Both Christian and Muslim clerics have variously and directly attacked his Presidency, several times in the past; but he has never contemplated or condescended to a clampdown on them using state power for their expressed opinions.
It may interest CAN and their leaders to recall the several damaging prophecies of the SpiritualDirectorr of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbak against the Government and person of President Buhari, including his 2018 New Year eve prophesy, predicting President Buhari’s defeat in the 2019 presidential elections.
CAN should also remember Fr. Mbaka’s prophecy on December 31, 2020, Crossover Night tagged, ‘Cornucopia of New Miracles from God,” in which he accused President Buhari of politicising the conditions of Nigerian youths. And at another instance, Fr. Mbaka declared that “God is angry with Buhari”, a statement, he later denied after it went viral on social media. But the Presidency never harassed him.
In CAN’s latest statement, it also referenced the most recent open epistle to Nigerians by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev. Fr. Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah in which he severely threw darts at President Buhari and his Government in an obviously inciting and demeaning manner. It angered some Muslim youths who reacted to it by issuing a quit notice to Fr. Kukah to vacate the North or face the consequences.
But CAN deliberately or hypocritically fail to remember or mention that the Presidency instantly condemned and countered the threats of the Muslim youths on Kukah through a public statement. It also took actions to secure his life from any possible physical assault on him. President Buhari warned the enraged and incensed Muslim youths never to contemplate an attack on the Catholic Priest or dare take laws into their hands or else, the consequences would be severe on the perpetrators.
President Buhari has repeatedly hollered publicly and even in his private conversations with eminent Nigerians his unshakeable faith in the oneness of Nigeria. He believes in the doctrine of equity, fairness and justice. That’s why even in 2019, both Christian and Muslim dominated states in Nigeria competitively and massively voted for his reelection. It is a testimony to his demonstrated credentials as the father of the nation and all Nigerians irrespective of religious or ethnic affinities.
And the neutral character of President Buhari has reflected even in the distribution of his appointments and capital projects throughout Nigeria. Every section of the country has an imprint of his administration. CAN’s statement is, therefore, unfortunate and condemnable, to say the least.
Therefore, it is instructive to advise CAN and other religious bigots to necessarily separate the Buhari Presidency from false and imposed religious or ethnic biases.
To consciously and provocatively
align Mr. president with religion or ethnicity over fighting insecurities in the country, profusely as exhibited by CAN is antithetical to all alternatives of panaceas to the crisis of insecurity in the country. CAN and their co-travellers must learn to embrace the President and his views as leader of Nigeria and not as a Fulani, Hausa or a Muslim.
Therefore, it defeats every sane logic and wisdom on CAN’s expectations of the leader of a complex nation like Nigeria to start chasing every statement in public space. For CAN to misconstrue the Presidency’s silence over Shiek Gumi’s utterances as an endorsement of it and a lack of commitment to fighting armed banditry or terrorism in the county is a farce that only exists in the warped imaginations of these CAN leaders.
And there are several examples to buttress this assertion. Whilst Shiek Gumi has insistently canvassed fo compensation and amnesty for the bandits, President Buhari has rejected his proposal. Mr President is clear and loud that there will be no amnesty for bandits or criminals, as his administration is poised to deal with them appropriately.
Mr. President’s recent directive to security operatives to shoot anybody bearing AK-47 and other sophisticated weapons anywhere in the country is one of the series of fresh actions to contain insecurities in the country. Therefore, CAN have no sound basis to castigate or malign Mr President on his result-oriented battles with insecurities in the last five years.
Group Faults RevolutionNow Protesters Over Calls For Buhari’s Resignation
A pan socio-cultural group, Nigeria First, has condemned the purported rally by Omoyele Sowore-led RevolutionNow movement demanding for President Muhammadu Buhari’s resignation.
According to the group, Sowore, having failed legitimately to become president, aims to make the country ungovernable for the current administration, not minding the consequences.
The Nigeria First movement made these known at a press conference on Friday in Abuja.
In his address titled ‘Omoyele Sowore: A call for caution in Nigeria’, the group’s Deputy President, Ndubisi Nwogu, noted that the self-acclaimed activist is not acting in insolation.
Mr Nwogu revealed that the Sahara Reporters founder has the backing of both local and international saboteurs who are pained with the level of sustainable growth and development experienced in Nigeria under President Buhari.
He added that the call for President Buhari’s resignation is part of the overall plot and in the weeks and months ahead, more and more attempts to destabilize the country would surface.
The group, therefore, warned Sowore to desist from this ignoble quest which by all intents and purposes would serve the interest of his paymasters.
It further cautioned that the former presidential hopeful would be held responsible should there be a breakdown of law and order in the country.
Nwogu, however, urged all well-meaning Nigerians to rise in defence of the country in this “critical period of our existence by calling to question the motives of Sowore and his goons in their antics towards misleading the unsuspecting members of the general public”.
Read the full statement below:
You are all warmly welcomed to this event intended to put issues in proper perspective in the interest of the generality of Nigerians. The leadership of Nigeria First believes that recent events in the country indeed calls for caution from all relevant stakeholders at the risk of the country erupting in flames at the behest of some unscrupulous elements that are bent on destabilizing the country for reasons best known to them.
It is indeed despicable that some individuals and organizations would elect to throw caution in the wind by actively promoting causes that would divide the country in a most reckless manner and at the chagrin of our peace and unity as a country.
Nigeria First as a pan-sociocultural group is reiterating that recent events in the country are assuming a dangerous dimension, especially with the call for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari by no group other than the Omoyele Sowore led RevolutionNow Movement.
It is indeed obvious that Omoyele Sowore is the brain behind the despicable rally, which is a resurgence of his infamous call for a nationwide revolution in the country that was hugely a flop some months back.
Sadly, the likes of Omoyele Sowore have elected to sell their souls to the devil in return for a plate of porridge. This goes a long way to state the obvious truth that Omoyele Sowore is a cantankerous individual that ekes a living from blackmail and inciting violence, yet, parading himself as an activist and advocate for sustainable growth and development in Nigeria.
Nigeria First as a concerned stakeholder in Nigeria wishes to emphasize that it is now public knowledge that the overarching objective is to destabilize Nigeria and this anomaly is fast gaining traction in a dangerous dimension.
It is also instructive to state that Omoyele Sowore is not acting in insolation in the sense that the sponsorship of his nefarious activities is a combination of both local and international saboteurs that are angry with the level of sustainable growth and development experienced in Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed leadership of the country.
Having this as a fact, it then speaks volumes that those that held the country by the jugular for several years have refused to come to terms with the present reality that it is no longer business as usual.
Nigeria First states that the sin of President Muhammadu Buhari remains the fact that he has put the interest of the country at heart and against the interest of a select few that have fed fat from the rot in the system, and responsible for the level of decadence in the polity.
It remains the considered opinion of Nigeria First that the plot to destabilize Nigeria is high on the list of the task before Omoyele Sowore and his goons that have been highly mobilized to incite a revolution in the country so they can truncate our nascent democracy.
Thus, the rally by RevolutionNow is indicative of this grand plot that has been well-planned as well as funded towards achieving their despicable objective aimed at causing unrest in the country.
Nigeria First wishes to use this medium to bring to the attention of Nigerians that indeed Omoyele Sowore is acting the script of some vested interest within political and ethnoreligious circles in Nigeria. And it has indeed assumed a dangerous dimension that indeed calls for concern from all well-meaning Nigerians that are desirous of sustainable growth and development in the country.
Nigeria First is using this medium to warn Omoyele Sowore to desist from his ignoble desire in destabilizing Nigeria which by all intents and purposes would serve the interest of his paymasters in the country and outside the shores of the country.
Nigerians must also come to the realization that the revolution now rally calling for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari is a part of the overall plot and in the weeks and months ahead, more and more attempts to destabilize the country would be experienced in the public space in Nigeria.
We are urging well-meaning Nigerians to rise in defence of Nigeria in this critical period of our existence by calling to question the motives of Omoyele Sowore and his goons in their antics towards misleading the unsuspecting members of the general public.
Nigerians must know that Omoyele Sowore by all indications is neck-deep in ensuring that Nigeria is destabilized through his RevolutionNow group. And their recent outing is just one out of the avalanche of planned events they have up their sleeves.
Nigeria First wishes to state in unequivocal terms that Nigerians should hold Omoyele Sowore responsible should there be a breakdown of law and order in the country in the coming weeks and months.
Having stated the above, Nigeria First as an organization would continue to engage other critical stakeholders in Nigeria towards nipping in the bud the plans of Omoyele Sowore and his paymasters towards destabilizing Nigeria.
Thank you all for your time and attention and God bless us all.
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Long Live President Muhammadu Buhari.
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