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Pakistan Cricket Suffers More Losses

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Following widespread protests and criticism over Pakistan's elimination from the World Cup, the chairman of the country's cricket board, Naseem Ashraf, resigned late on Monday night.

On Sunday, Inzamam-ul-Haq announced that he was resigning as captain of the team and retiring from one-day internationals.

The resignations follow on the heels of the death of Pakistan's cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, earlier on Sunday -- the day after a distressing defeat by inexperienced Ireland.

Within the last two days, Pakistan has lost four important things -- the World Cup, the national team coach, Inzamam and the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board.

Pakistani and Indian cricket fans take the game seriously, worshipping their cricket heroes when they win and castigating them when they lose.

Pakistan is the first team to be knocked out of the World Cup, on the fifth day of the tournament. After losing their first match against West Indies, Pakistan could not afford another defeat, but they were upset miserably in their second match against young Ireland and exited the tournament.

After the defeat, people took to the streets to protest against the team, the coach and the selectors. They also chanted slogans and burned posters and effigies of the players -- especially Inzamam. People and some senior ex-cricketers accused the team of match fixing.

GEO TV reported that Ashraf had resigned in the wake of countrywide criticism and pressure. Ashraf sent his resignation to the chief patron of the board, President Pervez Musharraf. He is considered a close friend of the president. There has been no report of whether Gen. Musharraf would accept the resignation.

Ashraf took over as chairman of the PCB six months ago after the Oval Test crisis, when Pakistan made cricket history by becoming the first team to forfeit a Test.

Thirty-seven-year-old Inzamam will play his 378th and final match against Zimbabwe on Wednesday. Although he has announced his retirement from one-day cricket and resigned from the team leadership, Inzi will continue to play Test cricket -- but he will not lead the team.

Speaking to reporters after Woolmer's death, Inzamam said, "I talked with my father on the phone and decided to retire. I am very happy with the support I have received over the last three or four years as captain.

"I don't think it will really be a big challenge to find a replacement for me. We have some good senior players and players with a lot of experience. They will do better and achieve greater things than I."

Inzamam, who debuted in 1991 and was part of the victorious 1992 World Cup team, is playing in his fifth World Cup. He has scored 11,702 ODI runs at an average of 39.53, with 10 centuries and an incredible 83 fifties.

After Saturday's loss to Ireland he said, "Today is the worst day of my cricketing career."

Pakistan is a very emotional nation. The public was angry after the loss to Ireland but then cooled upon news of the death of Woolmer. By Monday, everyone looked dejected and upset. Television channels had even stopped airing critical footage of the matches. I saw many people weeping when they were interviewed about Woolmer's death. Mostly they said that Woolmer had died for us.

In short, these are dark days for Pakistan cricket. Many gaps have emerged in different departments and it will require much effort to resolve them.
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