Ayaz Memon (for Info only, not official)

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Ayaz Memon

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    ...Over the past decade, Misbah and Younis had been the pillars on which Pakistan cricket survived—not just through their cricketing deeds, but also their personalities. They were talented, gritty, ambitious, sagacious and—most importantly—selfless. Threats to Pakistan cricket have come from within and outside. Cricket politics in the country can be treacherous. Players can be mercurial and volatile. Corruption cases erupt with more regularity than acne on a teenager’s face. Then there was the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009 that made Pakistan a pariah where cricket is concerned. Nobody was willing to tour the country. Even now, major cricketing nations shy away. That could have killed enthusiasm for the game among fans in Pakistan, not to mention completely demoralized its players. How does one sustain interest in a vacuum, as it were? From where would salvation come? ...

    Live Mint on May 17, 2017, 6:34 p.m.

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    ...Going by the points table and net run rates, Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad look certain for the play-offs. The remaining five teams are stalking each other for fourth place, or to play spoiler. Given the unpredictability of the T20 format, it would be foolish to predict a winner at this stage. But there is a key message that has come through clearly at this point in the tournament: Essentially, teams that are well balanced—in batting and bowling—are doing well. The performances of Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad reflect this strongly, suggesting that a well-conceived selection policy—with adequate bench strength that provides cover for the main players—is essential. Stars by themselves are no guarantors of success. Teams that have invested heavily in big names, caring little about the balance and composition of the squad, are struggling. ...

    Live Mint on May 3, 2017, 5:48 p.m.

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    ...With 10 wins from 13 Tests (and only one defeat) against four different opponents, this has easily been India’s best performance at home. Impressive as this seems, it is the sheer quality of cricket played by Virat Kohli and Co that was riveting. True, playing on home pitches is an advantage. But this can easily be squandered by complacency, cockiness or – especially in a long season – dwindling consistency. There is also the flip side to playing at home, often disregarded, which is the pressure of expectation. Former Australia captain Steve Waugh said somewhere recently that he always preferred overseas tours as the distractions were far lesser. Where the Indian team is concerned, pressure from fans is manifold, given the manic following for cricket. ...

    TOI on April 3, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Controversy over the DRS fracas involving Steve Smith has overwhelmed a top-class performance in the past few days, which is unfortunate, for the contest between the two teams has been riveting. Hopefully, the fire will be doused soon and attention focused on the remaining two Tests. While India will not lose their No.1 International Cricket Council ranking even if they lose the series, Virat Kohli would obviously want to finish this season on a glorious note. The psychological advantage has been regained by India, but it would be presumptuous to write off the Aussies. They’ve fought superbly and I reckon they’ll come back harder in the next Test. That said, India’s batting collapses in three successive innings against spin bowlers have had cricket aficionados scratching their heads and tugging their beards in disbelief and not a little anguish. Shouldn’t Indian batsmen be adept at playing slow bowlers, especially in home conditions? ...

    Live Mint on March 8, 2017, 5:33 p.m.

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    ...“Dhoni is like the placid ocean, all serene and calm, and what’s going on beneath the surface is always a mystery.” Not for the first time, find-outers trying to read Dhoni’s mind had been stumped. Two years back, Dhoni quit Test cricket altogether in the middle of a series against Australia. Just like that. This time, the ODI and T20 captaincy was surrendered two days before he was to sit with the selectors and pick teams for the matches against England. On the face of it this appears diabolically impulsive. But Dhoni’s business partner Arun Pandey says these decisions were well-thought out, which is more likely. Much as he’s been on the field, Dhoni’s been unorthodox in his methods off the field too. The timing may be enigmatic, but he’s not unthinking. Partly, Dhoni’s decisions would have stemmed from the fact that he is a wicket-keeper batsman. ...

    TOI on Jan. 9, 2017, 2 a.m.

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    ...Root has been England’s main run scorer—across formats—in the past year or so. He is now being spoken of as possibly his country’s most accomplished batsman in the past half-century. Riveting though it is, however, Kohli versus Root could be reduced to a sideshow by Ravichandran Ashwin. Indeed, how the young English middle-order batsman copes with the off-spinner on pitches that afford turn, could be the main story of this series. Root will remember Ashwin from the 2012-13 series in India, when he made his debut. Ashwin, then in his second series, was an understudy to Harbhajan Singh and took 14 wickets in four Tests, but England won the series after being one-down. ...

    Live Mint on Oct. 19, 2016, 4:50 p.m.

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    ...When Sakshi and Sindhu transcended that critical barrier to earn a place on the podium, the country erupted with joy. After a barren 12 days, their medals came as huge relief. Some self-respect had been salvaged. Nothing raises the prestige of a nation as excellence in sport. It reflects a country’s health, state of mind, sense of purpose. At the Olympics, particularly, this gets a tangible definition in number of medals won. India won two this time, one less than at Beijing and a big comedown from the six at London four years later, suggesting regression. But there is a conundrum at play here. India sent 117 athletes to Rio – the highest number ever – spread across 15 disciplines. The Olympics are the acme of sporting prowess. That so many could be in this elite group is not insignificant. Had some potential medals been realised – in shooting, archery and tennis certainly – the tally could have matched that at London. ...

    TOI on Aug. 22, 2016, 2 a.m.

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    ...We were ready to comply with most conditions that didn’t hurt continuity. We are the best run, most profitable sports body in the country, does that not count for anything?’’ cribbed a BCCI official. To some extent the peeve is understandable. It is a not-so-subtle irony that the SC order virtually treats BCCI as a BIFR case: a sick business enterprise that needs urgent restructuring in management and constant monitoring, when actually it has been making supernormal profits. For the record, the BCCI’s topline in its last audited accounts (in March 2015, as put up on bcci.tv) is a whopping Rs 1,266.41 crore. The net profit is Rs 220.80 crore. And this when the economy wasn’t very supportive. Any balance sheet bearing such impressive figures would be the envy of even mega-corporations: it certainly is of the cricket universe, where BCCI reigns supreme in financial heft and the power that emanates from this. ...

    TOI on July 23, 2016, 2 a.m.