Pakistan hearts not in cricket after Taleban outrage

Younus Khan: 'It is a national tragedy and a barbaric act'. Picture: Getty
Younus Khan: 'It is a national tragedy and a barbaric act'. Picture: Getty
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Experienced Pakistan batsman Younus Khan says it will be extremely tough for the cricketers to go ahead with today’s fourth one-dayer against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi following the killing spree at a Peshawar school.

Witnesses said at least 132 students and nine staff members died yesterday when Taleban gunmen broke into a school and opened fire in the bloodiest massacre Pakistan had seen for years.

“It is a national tragedy and a barbaric act. Playing the match is going to be very difficult,” Younus said.

“How do you play a match when your spirit is not in the game? That is our state of mind right now.”

Younus, who has featured in 96 Tests and 257 one-dayers for his country, compared the situation to the one Australia experienced last month when opening batsman Phillip Hughes died after being struck on the head by a bouncer.

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“When Phil Hughes died it shocked every one of us and we postponed a day’s play in the Test match against New Zealand,” he added.

“It would not be a bad idea to postpone this game as well,” said the 37-year-old Younus.

The players are to observe a minute’s silence before today’s match and will wear black armbands.

“Our minds and hearts are with these children,” said Pakistan team manager Moin Khan.

Meanwhile, South African duo AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn hope to celebrate a special anniversary by making a flying start to the first Test against the West Indies in Centurion today.

The pair both made their Test debuts against England on 17 December, 2004, and a decade later are looking to help consolidate South Africa’s position at the top of the International Cricket Council’s Test team rankings. If Hashim Amla’s men beat the West Indies by 1-0 or better they will be guaranteed top spot at the annual cut-off date, irrespective of how Australia’s series against India unfolds.

Batsman De Villiers, who made his first-class debut for Northerns against Western Province at SuperSport Park alongside Steyn when they were both 19, is looking forward to reaching a big milestone.

“It certainly does feel at home,” he said. “I always get a good cheer from the crowd here. This is where my career started and I will never forget that. The fact I don’t play here often hasn’t changed that. I have played some of my best knocks here. I’m really looking forward to this Test match.”

De Villiers, 30, heads into the three-Test series as the highest-ranked batsman from either side, with Windies left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul only one point behind.

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