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Cricket club complete facility for community use with grants – The Northern Echo

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A COMMUNITY cricket club has completed the conversion of one of the rooms in its pavilion to create a new focal point for village activity.

Lintz Cricket Club has redesigned and refurbish its existing two-storey lounge and bar area to create a new single-storey community room at its Lumley Gardens ground in Burnopfield with fully accessible doors, corridors and toilet.

The project stemmed from the increasing numbers of junior members and families who were making use of the club’s facilities, as well as the recent closure of two pubs within half a mile of the ground which had created a growing need for a new place for local people to come together.

As well as using its own resources, the club has received funding for the £30,000 project from Sport England and a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group.

An official opening event for the new room will be held before the start of the 2020 cricket season, but bookings are already beginning to come in from local people for private functions and events.

The club is also aiming to work with local schools and use the new community room as a ‘halfway house’ for vulnerable learners who are not attending school and their parents to use as they work towards returning to mainstream education.

Robert Jackson, president at Lintz Cricket Club, said: “Our junior sections are perhaps more popular than they’ve ever been, and having so many young people, parents and families around the club made us think about the facilities we were able to offer them.

“We also already have a number of community groups using our rooms, with more coming in after the pub closures, but it was pretty obvious that the layout wasn’t suitable for all their needs, as well as ours, and that we needed to make improvements.

“We’ve created a multi-functional, accessible all-year round community room that offers lots of floor space that’s suitable for different activities and we’re really pleased with how everything is now set up.”

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USA news USA announce squad for ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 ODI tri-series 02 – International Cricket Council

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USA Cricket have announced a 14-member squad led by Saurabh Netravalkar for the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 ODI tri-series, also involving UAE and Scotland, in Dubai.

The 16-member squad that played the Super50 Cup has been reduced to 14 members for the tri-series, with Sagar Patel and Jasdeep Singh the ones to miss out. The side won two out of their eight games in the tournament in Trinidad.

Ian Holland, Cameron Stevenson, Akshay Homraj and Nosthush Kenjige are in line to make their ODI debuts.

Speaking on the selection, USA Cricket chairman of selectors Ricardo Powell said, “There were some pleasing individual performances [in the Super50 Cup], and we were well led throughout by the leadership group.

“It was brilliant to finish with probably our most complete performance in the win over Guyana and we look forward to taking that momentum immediately into the matches in the UAE.”

USA’s fixtures:
8 December: USA vs United Arab Emirates, Sharjah Cricket Stadium
9 December: USA vs Scotland, Sharjah Cricket Stadium
12 December: USA vs United Arab Emirates, ICC Academy Ground, Dubai
14 December: USA vs Scotland, ICC Academy Ground, Dubai

Squad: Saurabh Netravalkar (c), Steven Taylor, Karima Gore, Ian Holland, Akshay Homraj (wk), Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Nosthush Kenjige, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel, Timil Patel, Cameron Stevenson and Rusty Theron

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Most of Pakistan stars retained by their franchises for PSL 2020 – DAWN.com

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LAHORE: Almost all key members of the Pakistan Twenty20 cricket squad have been retained by their respective franchises for the 2020 HBL Pakistan Super League prior to the Player Draft, which will take place on Friday (Dec 6).

Pakistan T20 captain and world’s current No.1 ranked batsman Babar Azam heads the retention list for Karachi Kings. He is joined by fast bowler Mohammad Amir, middle-order batsman Iftikhar Ahmed and all-rounder Imad Wasim.

Reigning champions Quetta Gladiators have kept faith in their captain Sarfraz Ahmed along with young speedster Mohammad Hasnain. The Gladiators have also withheld Shane Watson, who was declared player-of—the-tournament last year, besides Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Nawaz and Nasim Shah.

Islamabad United, who were champions in 2016 and 2018, have retained leg-spin all-rounder Shadab Khan, Asif Ali and Mohammad Musa Khan along with ex-New Zealand wicket-keeper/batsman Luke Ronchi, who the player-of-the-tournament award in 2018.

Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez and Shaheen Shah Afridi will once again be in Lahore Qalandars’ colours along with South Africa’s David Wiese, Haris Rauf, Sohail Akhtar and Salman Butt.

Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi has been retained by Multan Sultans, while their current Pakistan T20 player is Mohammad Irfan. The side has also retained England’s James Vince, opener Shan Masood and fast bowler Junaid Khan.

Peshawar Zalmi, the winners in 2017, have retained Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal and Umar Amin along with the West Indies duo of skipper Daren Sammy and Kieron Pollard.

Some of the most prominent names to be released are as under:

Alex Hales, Ian Bell, Mohammad Sami, Sahibzada Farhan (all Islamabad United); Colin Ingram, Mohammad Rizwan, Ravi Bopara (Karachi Kings); Brendan Taylor, Carlos Brathwaite, Haris Sohail, Sandeep Lamichhane, Yasir Shah (Lahore Qalandars); Dan Christian, Hammad Azam, Joe Denly, Nicholas Pooran, Shoaib Malik (Multan Sultans); Andre Fletcher, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Lendl Simmons, Tymal Mills (Peshawar Zalmi); Anwar Ali, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Rilee Rossouw and Sohail Tanvir (Quetta Gladiators).

Folowing is the complete list of players retained and released with each franchise eligible to retain up to eight players:

ISLAMABAD UNITED

Players retained: Shadab Khan (Platinum), Faheem Ashraf (Diamond as Brand Ambassador), Asif Ali (Diamond), Luke Ronchi (Gold as Player Mentor), Hussain Talat (Gold), Amad Butt, Musa Khan, Rizwan Hussain (Silver).

Players released: Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Chadwick Walton, Ian Bell, Mohammad Sami, Nasir Nawaz, Philip Salt, Rumman Raees, Sahibzada Farhan, Samit Patel, Waqas Maqsood, Wayne Parnell, Zafar Gohar, Zahir Khan.

KARACHI KINGS

Players retained: Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir (both Platinum), Imad Wasim (Diamond as Brand Ambassador), Iftikhar Ahmed (Diamond), Aamir Yamin (Gold), Usama Mir (Silver), Umar Khan (Emerging).

Players released: Aaron Summers, Abrar Ahmed, Ali Imran, Awais Zia, Ben Dunk, Colin Ingram, Colin Munro, Jaahid Ali, Liam Livingstone, Mohammad Rizwan, Ravi Bopara, Sikandar Raza, Sohail Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari (transferred to Lahore Qalandars).

LAHORE QALANDARS

Players retained: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez (both Platinum), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Diamond as Brand Ambassador), David Wiese, Usman Khan Shinwari (Diamond, Usman transferred from Karachi Kings), Haris Rauf, Sohail Akhtar (both Gold), Salman Butt (Silver).

Players released: A.B. de Villiers (not available for 2020 edition), Agha Salman, Aizaz Cheema, Anton Devcich, Asela Gunaratne, Brendan Taylor, Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson (not available in 2020), Gohar Ali, Hardus Viljoen, Haris Sohail, Hassan Khan, Mohammad Imran, Rahat Ali, Riki Wessels, Ryan ten Doeschate (not available for 2020), Saad Ali, Sandeep Lamichhane, Umair Masood, Yasir Shah.

MULTAN SULTANS

Players retained: Mohammad Irfan (Platinum), Shahid Afridi (Diamond as Player Mentor), James Vince (Gold as Brand Ambassador), Junaid Khan (Gold), Ali Shafiq, Shan Masood (both Silver), Mohammad Ilyas (Emerging).

Players released: Andre Russell (not available for 2020), Chris Green, Dan Christian, Hammad Azam, Joe Denly, Johnson Charles, Laurie Evans, M. Irfan Khan, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Junaid, Nicholas Pooran, Numan Ali, Qais Ahmed, Shakeel Ansar, Shoaib Malik, Steve Smith (not available for 2020), Tom Moores, Umar Siddique.

PESHAWAR ZALMI

Players retained: Hasan Ali, Kieron Pollard, Wahab Riaz (all Platinum), Kamran Akmal (Diamond as Brand Ambassador), Daren Sammy (Gold as Player Mentor), Imam-ul-Haq (Gold), Umar Amin (Silver).

Players released: Andre Fletcher, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Ibtesam Sheikh, Jamal Anwar, Khalid Usman, Lendl Simmons, Liam Dawson, Misbah-ul-Haq (not available for 2020), Nabi Gul, Sameen Gul, Samiullah, Sohaib Maqsood, Tymal Mills, Umaid Asif, Waqar Salamkheil, Wayne Madsen.

QUETTA GLADIATORS

Players retained: Sarfaraz Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz (both Platinum), Shane Watson (Diamond as Player Mentor), Ahmed Shehzad (Diamond), Umar Akmal (Gold as Brand Ambassador), Mohammad Hasnain (Gold), Ahsan Ali, Nasim Shah (Silver).

Players released: Anwar Ali, Danish Aziz, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Fawad Ahmed, Ghulam Mudassar, Harry Gurney, Jalat Khan, Max Waller, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Azam Khan, Mohammad Irfan Jr, Rilee Rossouw, Saud Shakeel, Sohail Tanvir.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019

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BCCI go-ahead to more pink-ball Tests in future – Hindustan Times

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) here on Sunday, decided other state associations will also be hosting pink-ball Tests following the warm response at Eden Gardens last month. This comes after India captain had said that day-night Tests can ‘be a one-off thing’. “It should not, in my opinion, become a regular scenario,” Kohli had said after the Eden Test finished in less than three days. The BCCI however has taken a different path. “Yes, we got that passed in the governing body. Different associations will host the matches,” said BCCI president Sourav Ganguly.

Also Read: Ganguly reveals a bookie approached player during Syed Mushtaq trophy

“Credit should be given to (treasurer) Arun Dhumal and (secretary) Jay Shah also, and the Apex Council members for the pink-ball Test. Within three days (after assuming office) we had a meeting and told them this (day-night Test) has to happen. I got emails within a minute saying we’ll go ahead with it. And you saw the success. Star Sports sent us a feedback that the eyeballs were three times than it’s actually in a Test match. And that too India weren’t playing the strongest team in the world. Imagine playing against England, Australia and South Africa. I think it’s going to be remarkable,” he said.

While the Test made for good viewing, there remain doubts within the team. The main grouse is spinners are not as effective after the ball gets wet once the dew sets in. The other is the extra movement generated during twilight due to the temperature dropping and the extra grass on the pitches needed to help maintain the colour of the ball. India now have a battery of top fast bowlers comparable to Australia and England, but playing the moving ball remains a weakness.

Also Read: Kohli reveals which Indian pacer faces leg-pulling the most

It is for this reason India declined to play a day-night Test in Adelaide on their last tour of Australia. And if India play pink-ball Tests at home, they will find it tough to say no to the same abroad. “We’ll deal as per the request of foreign boards. But in India it’ll happen,” said Ganguly when asked if India are ready to play day-night Tests abroad.

Among other notable decisions, there was windfall for state associations in the form of increase in subsidy for infrastructure development and hosting fees from IPL franchises. Under the Committee of Administrators (CoA), for the last three years, the state associations’ payments were blocked pending implementation of the reforms put in place by the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha committee.

The funding for infrastructure development has been increased from R60 crore to R100 crore, and the hosting fee of each match has been increased from R60 lakh to R1 crore. This will come as a timely boost for associations who are building new stadiums and supporting infrastructure. The Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) is building a massive state-of-the-art stadium at Motera with a capacity of more than a lakh. Saurashtra too has plans of making an indoor stadium. States in the northeast have to build their entire setup from scratch.

Also Read: WATCH: Warner’s helmet  triggers fight among kids in crowd

The Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) is also building a new stadium and looking to take cricket out of the old PCA Stadium at Mohali. “States also have lot of expenses. To maintain Eden Gardens, we spend about 5 to 6 crore a year. And I’m sure it’s the same with Himachal, Mumbai, Bangalore. They’re massive stadiums, they’re very expensive,” said Ganguly. The contract-system for state players will also increase the burden on associations. “It (contracts for players) will be through state associations only.”

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2nd phase of China-Pakistan FTA comes into effect – Radio Pakistan

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The second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement has come into effect, allowing Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export over three hundred new products on zero duty to the Chinese market.

The two countries have completed all the legal procedures and formalities to start implementation of the agreement.

Pakistan and China signed a protocol for implementation of the agreement during the last visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China.

Pakistan is already enjoying zero duty on export of 724 products to China under the first Free Trade Agreement signed between the two countries in 2006.

NNR/Khokhar

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Indian Men’s Volleyball team to clash with Pakistan in final of 13th South Asian Games – All India Radio

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Dec 02, 2019
9:04AM

Indian Men’s Volleyball team to clash with Pakistan in final of 13th South Asian Games

AIR PIC

Defending champions Indian Men’s Volleyball team will clash with Pakistan in the final of 13th South Asian Games tomorrow.

Yesterday, India defeated Sri Lanka by 3-1 in a thrilling first semifinal in Kathmandu. There was neck and neck competition between the two teams. In the first set, Sri Lankan players gave though fight but India could manage to win it by 27-25. India won second set easily by 25- 19. But in third set, Sri Lankan bounced back and won by 25-21. India won the fourth and deciding set by 25-21 and stormed into the final. In the second semifinal Pakistan beat Bangladesh in straight sets by 25-15, 25-21 and 26-24.

Indian women’s team has already reached in the final defeating Maldives on Saturday. Indian girls will clash with host Nepal in the final tomorrow. Nepal defeated Sri Lanka in the semifinals.

AIR correspondent reports that 13th South Asian Games started with a glittering opening ceremony at historic Dasaratha Rangshala in Kathmandu last evening. The games had started from this stadium in 1984. A fireworks and spectacular laser show depicting participating countries and competitions were one of the main attractions of the inaugural ceremony. Though volleyball started from Wednesday but competitions in other 25 games will begin from today. Besides Kathmandu events will also be held at Pokhara and Janakpur. Over 2700 athletes will have tough competition for 1119 medals including 319 Gold during the biggest sporting extravaganza of South Asia. 

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‘#GrabYourKeyboards’: Inside Pakistan’s hashtag mills – Pakistan – DAWN.com

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While Twitter trends may be artificial, hashtag merchants are real people.

On July 4, a hashtag calling for the arrest of journalists became the top Twitter trend in Pakistan.

The #ArrestAntiPakjournalists campaign circulated a composite photograph of prominent journalists and TV anchors, some of whom regularly criticise the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the military.

“Hang them all #ArrestAntiPakJournalists,” posted a member of a coordinated network, ‘IK warriors,’ who trend hashtags on Twitter.

The campaign, initiated by a smaller network of accounts, drew widespread reaction on social media as users with a large following used the hashtag to condemn it.

In fact, it was the widespread reaction that magnified the reach of the trend.

The hashtag was originally tweeted out by 2,493 users, but it became a top trend after it was retweeted more than 44,000 times.

Such influence campaigns in Pakistan are artificially amplified, wherein supporter groups materially distort Twitter traffic from a very small base of human users to force hashtags into the “trending” panel, a Dawn investigation has found.

Almost 95% of the trending political campaigns in Pakistan are boosted artificially to mislead the public, giving a false impression that there is genuine grass-roots support or opposition for a particular group or narrative.

While the trends are artificial, hashtag merchants are real people. This investigation found that influence campaigns in Pakistan are run by humans, not bots. Bots are automated or semi-automated accounts, programmed to engage in specific behaviours usually at frequent intervals.

Hashtag merchants, who run real and authentic accounts, propose and trend a campaign every day for Twitter users and sub-networks to amplify, rally retweets and celebrate when any of their hashtags makes it to the trending panel.

As per Dawn’s findings, an influence campaign involves a number of seemingly connected accounts (connected by biography, ideology, communication) tweeting or engaging in high volumes on a specific issue, repeating un-nuanced and similar talking points, aggressively.

Twitter’s trending topics section is essential to the propaganda effort in Pakistan, wherein influence networks push a daily hashtag on the platform to spread certain messages or to highlight important milestones or achievements of a political entity.

The networks operate openly, and rather proudly, each with their unique team labels such as ‘IK warriors’ and ‘Team Pak Zindabad’. They claim to be activists not influencers, patriots not propagandists, supporters not members of a political or military group. They believe they are cyber troops fighting Pakistan’s information wars.

To understand the mechanics of trending a hashtag and analyse the extent of manipulation involved, Dawn approached Farhan Virk, a leading hashtag merchant, to get a completely random hashtag onto Pakistan’s trending panel.

After a series of negotiations over the choice of hashtag via WhatsApp, Virk decided to trend #BoycottTomatoes. To ensure maximum impact, it is important to relate the hashtag idea to the surrounding conversation. “We need to stop using tomatoes to restrict the price hike,” Virk said, as he proposed to trend the campaign on November 18, 2019, when the tomato prices across the country had sky-rocketed.

The first tweet of the campaign, according to Virk, is aimed to judge the public’s response to the hashtag idea. “Friends if you are in agreement then tonight at 11 p.m. we will trend on boycotting tomatoes. If we stand up against the price hike mafia, then those creating artificial inflation will be defeated. If you are ready to trend then reply,” he tweeted on his account, followed by over 260,000 people.

“The first tweet’s impressions are 211 (within five minutes). If they rise over 5,000 in 15 minutes then it means that the public is interested in running the campaign,” he shared.

In the meantime, Virk looked up images of tomatoes on Google and among meme-worthy images of the vegetable, he also saved a screenshot of a DawnNews tweet about the news of the price hike. “We want the content ready before we start the campaign. Usually, we collect images from previous Twitter campaigns or sometimes ask graphic designers in our teams.”

At 11 p.m., the campaign took off.

“Guys, Grab your keyboards and start trending #BoycottTomatoes as we need to boycott tomatoes if we want cheap tomatoes,” he tweeted with a poster of a ‘tomato boycott movement’. The tweet was retweeted 75 times.

From a network of 2,000 members, at 11 p.m., Virk said only 350 users were active. The ‘TeamIK’ — led by Farhan Virk — coordinates over several WhatsApp groups, each with their own network of influencers [accounts with a following of over 10,000 users]. “We usually don’t trend at 11 p.m. At night the trends are occupied.. morning panels are the easiest,” he told Dawn.

By 11.30, #BoycottTomatoes had hit the trending panel in Pakistan despite only 2,000 tweets/retweets. In fact, the hashtag beat #JusticeForSaleinPakistan on the panel, a massive campaign that had generated almost 16,000 tweets at that time. For a trend to outpace another that has generated far more tweets is dependent on several factors that are discussed in detail ahead.

Virk identified at least five influencer accounts, four of whom are on his team, who pushed the traffic towards the campaign. “In these 1,900 tweets, around 600 are from my team while remaining are from normal people who just follow my Twitter,” said Virk, whose profile alone generated nearly 660 retweets.

Dawn’s analysis of the campaign confirmed that a total of 594 users posted up to 1,120 tweets using the hashtag, while most of the traffic was generated through (6,277) retweets.

Another major determining factor of a trend’s success is the potential impact and reach of the hashtag. Potential reach is the number of unique users that could have seen the hashtag. Potential impact is the number of times someone could have seen the hashtag.

“We have to break a certain barrier to enter the trends panel. At 11 p.m., the threshold is at least 600,000 potential reach. #BoycottTomatoes had a potential reach of over 700,000 users,” Virk explained.

Besides the temporary validation stemming from being part of a network running top trends, hashtag merchants find the effort personally rewarding as it contributes to profile growth as well.

“A user with 5,408 followers individually made over 600,000 impacts in the boycott trend. This is how hashtags dynamically improve profile engagement. This is how users get incentivised as the activity gives them a platform to grow,” Virk pointed out.

By late midnight, public users started to post about the hashtag — most out of curiosity or to condemn the absurd trend — bringing further traction to the campaign started by a smaller set of coordinated accounts.

Almost 95% of the trending political campaigns in Pakistan are boosted artificially to mislead the public.

Twitter’s trends list is a real-time gauge of what people are talking about on the network.

What goes on the trending list is governed by an algorithm that measures not only sheer popularity (i.e. the total number of tweets) but velocity — in other words, how fast certain topics are surging on the network.

People involved in trending a hashtag know the key: maintaining coordination of volume and influence in a short period of time.

Twitter’s algorithm determines what is trending by favouring sharp spikes rather than gradual sustained growth. It is also much easier for a term never seen before to become a Twitter trend than one used often.

Twitter examines three indicators: the average number of tweets (including retweets) per user; the percentage of retweets as a proportion of total traffic; and the proportion of traffic generated by those 50 accounts which used the given term most often.

These three factors indicate whether Twitter traffic was generated organically by a large number of users or pushed by a small one; whether it was driven by a high proportion of original posts, or by large-scale retweeting; and whether it was driven by a small user group or a broader movement.

It is also extremely important to consider the surrounding conversation in the region or network at the time of planning a campaign. Sometimes hashtag with lesser posts end up on the top in the trending panel. This shows that even if the total number of tweets might be low, the hashtag was able to develop a conversation sooner than the other topics on the trends panel.

Companies can pay Twitter to appear on the list. But these “Promoted Trends” are clearly marked as advertising. This is not the case with artificial Twitter trends.

Pakistan’s hashtag merchants are not trained professionals. They are students working day and night to push out hashtags.

Interviews with hashtag merchants revealed that trending a campaign on Twitter is rather easy. The real effort goes in coordination and network building on the platform.

Trend-setters make sure that they get authentic and influential accounts to help push an influence campaign. The idea is to get as many accounts with high follower numbers to work in coordination and amplify each other, as well as to amplify other lesser-known accounts that are also using the hashtag.

Dawn found dense connectivity between influence networks who have a clear understanding of how information flows across participants. Users in these groups not only follow each other at significantly higher rates compared to the general Twitter user but also clearly know who is a hub — who has the ability to accelerate the flow of information.

A search of the term “follow karein” in Urdu on Twitter leads to dozens of accounts offering a ‘follow for follow back’ deal. The follow-networks are subdivided into supporters of different parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz such as ‘MNS Followers Team’ and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf such as ‘PTI Follow Team 50k’.

“Turn on my notifications. I will help you to gain new active followers, retweets and likes,” reads the bio of one such account with a following of over 34,000 users.

“By following 400 people daily, you will get 400 followers in return. This is how small networks grow,” Virk told Dawn.

Teams also collaborate to expand their clout. For instance, supporters of Imran Khan may unite for a ‘trend-based collaboration’ to grow their network and increase follower base.

Twitter, however, claims it does not allow attempts to game trends on its platform.

“We do not allow platform manipulation on our service, regardless of the political views expressed. This means that coordinated abuse, hateful conduct, attempts to game trends, and the spread of disinformation at scale are all violations of our policies,” a Twitter spokesperson told Dawn.

While trend-setting seems to be a growing industry, network leaders interviewed shared that Twitter’s tightening of policies against fake accounts and crackdown of anti-India campaigns had severely impacted their hashtag operations.

“We have cut down our operations by 50 per cent. During every campaign against India or in support of Kashmir, we face a loss of 15 to 20 big accounts. This has become a serious problem now,” lamented Virk.

Other hyper-nationalist groups echoed similar sentiments. “Our trends with up to 50,000 tweets have not managed to trend because they were led by small accounts. India is actively reporting our major influencers,” Ishaaq of Team ‘IK Warriors’ told Dawn.

“There are unconfirmed reports that PML-N and other anti-PTI groups have joined the Indian team at Twitter to suspend our accounts. This is just a rumour but you see, only PTI is facing the loss,” he said.

“Fifth-generation warfare is real. We are facing it every day,” said another group leader requesting anonymity. “We will not give up. They can suspend as many accounts they want but we will continue making new ones. I myself have been suspended at least 15 times. This is an information war, and we are its warriors,” he said.

Making use of the mass reporting technique, these networks have also started reporting to Twitter hashtags and tweets they deem ‘unpatriotic’. “If each member from a group of 100 users reports at least 200 tweets to Twitter for spam, it will not make it to the trends panel,” explained a member of Team Pakistan Zindabad.

The reporting is not limited to hashtags only. Recently, coordinated groups are mass reporting Twitter accounts of critical journalists. In November, Umar Cheema’s account was locked from access after a group of small accounts mass reported his profile to Twitter.

According to Virk, journalist Hamid Mir lost around 25,000 followers after his team trended #UnfollowHamidMir. They developed the campaign after Prime Minister Imran Khan unfollowed the journalist on Twitter after Mir made remarks on rising press censorship under the PTI government.

Pakistan’s hashtag merchants are not trained professionals. They are students working day and night to push out hashtags, which they believe is the ‘need of the hour’.

When asked to define fifth-generation warfare, the network leaders said it was a national duty. “Our friends and family are exposed to negative fake news and misinformation on social media. They are being misled. They don’t know the reality. We want to show them the truth,” said Ishaaq.

According to them, foreign and anti-Pakistan elements want to create divisions within the Islamic community and in the country. “Negative sentiment sells on media. Everyone is against each other. We want the nation to unite…for Pakistan.”

“People have turned against Imran Khan because of inflation and media is only reporting that. This is why we run pro-Imran hashtags every day to highlight his achievements too. We are supporters of Imran Khan. We don’t believe in PTI without Imran. There is an ongoing information war so we are playing our part,” he asserted.

‘TRENDS OPEN TO ALL’

Surprisingly, the hashtag operations take place overtly.

During the reporting period, Dawn came across a number of WhatsApp group invite links posted on Twitter that allow you to join the networks. Most invite links on Twitter are shared by religious influence groups, particularly of Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

“We are doing this for the Islamic Ummah. It is our collective duty to call out blasphemy online,” said a user posting pro-TLP hashtags.

Even hyper-nationalist groups seek a wider support base through WhatsApp invite links.

“We post our links on Twitter. Anybody willing to support our campaign is welcome to join. Veena Malik helps us a lot. We tell her to post our hashtag and she gets us good traction,” head of ‘Team PakZindabad’ Yasif told Dawn.
Paid trendsetters, on the other hand, work differently.

“Bloggers know what content to run. Unlike public campaigns, we don’t copy-paste. We can trend with 1,100 to 1,200 tweets in five minutes,” Huzaifa, a social media activist who works for hire, told Dawn.

Huzaifa cites a hefty rate of Rs50,000 to 60,000 for a trend. “For Bahria Town, we have even charged Rs90,000,” he claimed.

An influence campaign involves a number of seemingly connected accounts (connected by biography, ideology, communication) tweeting or engaging in high volumes on a specific issue.

#AntiIslamPTI_NoMore

“Prophet’s Warriors! The time is upon us to unleash Jihad. To humiliate enemies of Islam, today, Thursday at 8 p.m., stop everything and join the battle against enemies of Islam with this hashtag #AntiIslamPTI_NoMore,” read a tweet posted by a TLP supporter, @Waqarha30333098, on December 27, 2018.

The account of the announcer for the hashtag was created on December 26, 2018. It has under 200 followers and follows around 371 accounts.

A majority of this account’s tweets came on December 26, 2018, to January 11, 2019 date range, which is when the hashtag campaign was started and most active.

In December last year, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and his fellow party leaders were accused of staging violent protests, passing incendiary remarks against the judiciary and the prime minister as well as provoking the military to stage a mutiny — all in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case.

What followed was a tirade on social media against the PTI government and in support of the TLP leadership. Other hashtags run by the same network included #MyProphetMyPride (1,490 tweets), #ReleaseKhadimRizvi (1,207), #ReleaseTLPLeaders (346) and #HangBlasphemerAsia (280).

Through such campaigns, the religious groups propagate extremist content and hate speech that widely goes unchecked by the authorities, Dawn found.

Despite a government crackdown on the religious group spreading provocative material and hate speech on social media, the hashtag against PTI trended in Pakistan from December 27 to 31st with over 24,288 tweets. It witnessed sporadic activity up until August 2019.

A key component of the campaign was that the accounts participating published and shared the same content over and over. The same text was circulated by different accounts up to 50 times while the hashtag trended, indicating that the campaign was coordinated and planned.

The party supporters also take pride in association and a majority of them have TLP in their handle and/or bio, with pictures of Khadim Rizvi as header and profile images. The TLP network is vast but is led by hubs of smaller accounts. Despite their low follower counts, the hashtags run by TLP networks have often registered on the trends panel. This may be because of the wide impact of pro-religious sentiment that they bank on.

The anti-PTI hashtag was amplified by 2,840 accounts, with some users posting over 1,000 tweets. One such account @MalikChohan26, who was the top contributor to the hashtag, sent out 1,059 tweets and contributed 961 retweets to the campaign. Dawn’s analysis of the profile found that that account was created recently in 2018 and had sent out a total of 5,411 tweets since its creation — over 1,000 of those were for the anti-PTI campaign alone.

Interestingly, given Malik’s massive contribution to the campaign, his clout appears to be small. Analysis shows a majority of MalikChohan26’s followers have a following of 100 to 499 users. Only 19 of his followers have 10,000 and 50,000 followers and only two accounts have followers in the 50,000 to 150,000 range.

His network’s major influencer is the account @samina___ch with over 130,000 followers. This account is just a little over two years old.

A key contributor to the TLP campaigns is Shaheer Sialvi, who has a following of 46,000 users. @ShaheerSialvi has shared YouTube links on his profile 40 times. Analysis of his YouTube account shows that the content [683 videos] is centred on blasphemy, anti-military, identifying ‘traitors’ and religious bigotry.

Sialvi’s Twitter account is also followed by lawyer Jibran Nasir, the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad account and Senator Sarfraz Bugti.

#BringBackTraitors

“Today we are going to trend #BringBackTraitors to urge the government to arrest traitors. Draft guidelines: Expose Traitors, Appeal Gov for arrest, Laws and punishments for traitors,” read a WhatsApp alert on a group comprising over 190 users.

The WhatsApp group was accessed using an invite link posted on Twitter by members of ‘Team Pakistan Zindabad’.

Members of the group titled ‘BringBackTraitors 3 p.m.’ were instructed to post at least 30-50 tweets and over 300 retweets. They were asked to prepare draft tweets in the meantime so that they could be sent out at the given time to make the hashtag trend.

At 2.45 p.m., the announcement tweet for the hashtag was posted on Twitter on actor Veena Malik’s official and verified account.

“Today at 3 p.m. I will trend #BringBackTraitors. These traitors have fled the country and speak ill of Pakistan abroad. They should be brought back and punished in public. I will expose them. Whoever is with me type #BringBackTraitors and reply to this tweet,” she wrote.

The tweet received nearly 2,000 retweets — the highest for this trend.

Tweets for the campaign peaked on October 17 in the afternoon, witnessing around 1,675 tweets sent out in one hour. Besides that one burst of activity, the trend was generally slow and saw short bursts of activity — the sharp spike making it easier to trend.

“You can see the hashtag name as a group title. You just have to copy-paste the hashtag and post anything you can think of. One or two words would do. Just keep posting,” the network leader said on the group.

It comes as no surprise then that the campaign was led by accounts replicating the same content. Over 700 tweets analysed under the hashtag had no content but just the hashtag.

Veena Malik’s tweet with the announcement was quote tweeted with the hashtag over 100 times.

The hashtag was also clubbed with a separate campaign #VeenaSlappedTraitors. At least 32 tweets were sent out without any text but just the two hashtags.

“Today we will do a contest between new and old members. New members are more in number while old members are more experienced. We shall see who makes a top trend,” the instructor on the WhatsApp group said.

“Today we are experimenting to see if two hashtags can be trended simultaneously. Next time we will try three trends at the same time. You just have to change the hashtag, rest can be copy-pasted. You can use content from yesterday’s hashtags. If each person sends out 50-100 tweets, the trend will make it to the panel in 3 minutes.”

By 3.30 p.m., both hashtags run by Team Pakistan Zindabad were trending on the panel.

Dawn’s data shows a link between the two hashtags. The announcement appears to lead to the supplementing hashtag to show Veena led the campaign and succeeded.

@TeamPakistanZindabad

@TeamPakZindabad was created in April 2019. By November, the account had sent out 303 tweets and had 8,462 followers. In return, the account only follows seven accounts, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, both official and personal accounts of military spokesperson Asif Ghafoor, and Veena Malik.

The account’s bio reads: “We are defenders of our motherland we’ll lay our last breath for Pakistan ✊ Official Account of #TeamPakistanZindabad.”

Other prominent hashtags used by ‘TeamPakZindabad’ include #WeStandWithPakArmy, #BoycottIndianProducts, HangRapistsPublicly and #MediaAccountability.

Dawn found 130 accounts with #TeamPakistanZindabad on their Twitter bios.

Year-wise account creation breakdown for these accounts are:

Combined, these 130 accounts have a total of 264,452 followers and a total of 1,439,713 tweets.

Of the 130 accounts, five have insaf.pk— the PTI’s official website— listed in their URL section.

#MaryamBilawal_Pashteen/#ArrestAntiPakJournalists

Dawn’s analysis of the two campaigns found that they were both run by ‘Team IK warriors’. However, the first account for the network @IkWarriors was suspended by Twitter earlier this year. Another account set up later by the group, @ikwarriors_ was also suspended.

We found at least 32 accounts with the suspended handles in their bios.

Currently, the network operates using @TeamIk_warriors, with a following of over 1,000 users.

Team IK warriors tweets in support of Imran Khan, Pakistan Army and Kashmir. Besides the above-mentioned hashtags, the network has trended #IAmPakArmy, #LeKarRahenGeKashmir, and #ImranKhanVoiceOfKashmir.

@HajiGul_bangesh

This account had a total of 62 tweets with overall 2,218 retweets.

This is one of the more active accounts for the above-mentioned hashtags. Their bio states this person is a senior admin of IK_Warriors (the suspended handle is in the bio).

One of the networks top contributors is @HajiGul_bangesh.

Out of the total 3,164 tweets from this handle’s timeline, 2,739 were retweets and 251 just tweets. This is a fairly young account and was created just a little under two years ago.

Interestingly, this person runs another account @HajiGul_bangash which is just as active.

“A lot of our accounts were suspended earlier this year. But now thankfully it has slowed down and we are expanding again,” he told Dawn.


Five trending hashtags of varying political alignment were selected for this story to analyse different influence networks. Hashtags include: #MaryamBilawal_Pashteen, #ArrestAntiPakJournalists, #Anti_Islam_PTI_NoMore, #BringBackTraitors, and #VeenaSlappedTraitors.

The reporting period was December 2018 to November 2019. The data for each hashtag was downloaded using a custom data scraper that helps extract data that you need into a spreadsheet.

For each hashtag we collected the following data:

  • Handle of the account tweeting
  • Name of the account tweeting
  • Tweet text
  • Tweet published time and date
  • Number of replies to the tweet
  • Number of retweets
  • Number of favourites

Initial analysis covered total tweets, retweets and users for each trending hashtag. Using simple analysis, we looked at most retweeted tweets, peak periods for the hashtag, users with most tweets for the specific hashtag and duplicated content.

The initial analysis was then used for a more in-depth look at the accounts involved in the above-mentioned areas.

In-depth analysis of users covered the account creation date, other hashtags used by the user since account creation using sample data, their most “important” tweets or tweets with most reach (that is retweets + favourites).

We also looked at the follower and following data for these accounts, and looked at key areas such as account ages of their followers and the accounts they follow, most common words in their Twitter bios, and the accounts they interact with most (that is who they retweet and quote the most).


Ramsha Jahangir is a staffer at Dawn. She writes on technology and human rights, mis/disinformation and internet censorship. She tweets @ramshajahangir

Shaheryar Popalzai is a digital strategy consultant with Dawn Media Group. He tweets @spopalzai

Header graphic credit: Leea Contractor

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Kingscote hosts Wisanger in Kangaroo Island Under 16 junior cricket – The Islander

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U16 Junior Cricket Kingscote v Wisanger played in Kingscote

Kingscote won the toss and elected to send Wisanger in to bat. Conditions weren’t the best for a summer sport but that didn’t faze the kids.

Kingscote applied pressure from the start and with good bowling it wasn’t long before they had Wisanger a couple down for only 20 runs.

Ryan Turner and River Berden were the only ones to retire but the little ones held their own at the end of the innings to add some valuable runs, Kingscote dismissed Wisanger with some great fielding and bowling for 98.

Kingscote started the run chase well with Blake Florance and Vaughn Virgo both retiring fairly quickly.

Kingscote had the game won with plenty of balls to spare but good to see the game played in great spirit. Congrats to Kingscote who haven’t beaten Wisanger for a few years.

East West again at Parndana this weekend for the Juniors. – Craig Turner

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No ex-player wants to work on honorary basis: Sourav Ganguly – Times of India

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MUMBAI: BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, on Sunday, admitted that thanks to Clause 38 in the BCCI constitution, none of the ex-cricketers across the country are willing to serve the Board on an honorary basis.

When the Supreme Court had first started hearing the matter related to BCCI in 2015-16, a prominent concern raised before the bench was that ex-cricketers weren’t a part of the administration. The present dispensation of the BCCI, led by Ganguly, believes it is the clause inserted by the SC-appointed administrators that is now working against the idea of involving ex-cricketers.

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“The rule (on conflict) just doesn’t make any sense. It has to go. I’ve said this earlier too,” Ganguly said after the AGM.

To cite an example: If a national selector’s relative – nephew, for instance – is playing for the Indian team, the selector’s position will be seen as conflicted. But what if the selector’s friend’s son – who is probably closer to him than the nephew – is playing for the Indian team? How can one assume there won’t be any conflict?

Ganguly simply shrugged and shook his head when asked if the term ‘conflict’ could be defined – just the way, in cricket, ‘the spirit of the game’ cannot be underlined or spelt out.

A notable fallout of a clause like this one (38) is that the BCCI has been unable to appoint the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC). None of the ex-cricketers are willing to come forward to be part of a committee that will have no role to play over the next two years barring the appointment of selectors.

“The CAC doesn’t have much work. We keep talking about CAC, but job of the CAC is to appoint the selectors and coach. So, once you appoint a selection committee, it stays for four years and once you appoint a coach, it stays for three years. So, where is the need of having a full-time CAC?” Ganguly said.

However, the former India captain did not say that the CAC will not be formed.

“Let’s wait for a few days,” he said. There are those who believe he, and other members of the BCCI, are first waiting to see what the SC will have to say on the proposed recommendations.

“We will form the CAC. We met the ethics Officer DK Jain yesterday over the conflict of interest issue. We don’t want to appoint someone and then see the appointment get cancelled, like it happened with us (Sourav, Sachin & VVS). So we need to get proper clarity from him (Jain) on what is conflict and what is not conflict,” Ganguly said.

Making the CAC a paid committee will also not work, according to Ganguly. “Even if you pay, you pay on what basis? There is no regular work,” he added.

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Australia vs Pakistan Live Cricket Score and Updates: AUS vs PAK Live Cricket Score, 2nd Test match, Day 4 L – Cricket Country News

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10:18 AM IST

42.2 Mitchell Starc to Asad Shafiq, no run, Angles in a back of a length ball around off, Shafiq stays inside the crease and defends it down safely.

  • 10:17 AM IST

    42.1 Mitchell Starc to Asad Shafiq, no run, Good length ball on off, Shafiq gets forward in defense.

  • 10:17 AM IST

    41.6 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:17 AM IST

    41.5 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, no run, Floated on middle, AS pushes it to mid on.

  • 10:16 AM IST

    41.4 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, leg byes, 2 runs, Warner wrong-foots himself. On the pads, Iftikhar looks to flick. There is a a leg slip in place. Warner placed there wrong-foots himself to his right. The ball goes to his left and they take two. Actually it wouldn’t have been out as the umpire has signalled it as leg bye.

  • 10:15 AM IST

    41.3 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, no run, On the pads, Shafiq blocks it.

  • 10:15 AM IST

    41.2 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, no run, Floated around off, Shafiq drives it to mid off.

  • 10:15 AM IST

    41.1 Nathan Lyon to Asad Shafiq, no run, Floated on middle, Iftikhar defends it to the leg side.

  • 10:14 AM IST

    40.6 Mitchell Starc to Asad Shafiq, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:13 AM IST

    40.5 Mitchell Starc to Asad Shafiq, no run, Good length ball outside off, Asad shoulders arms to it.

  • 10:12 AM IST

    40.4 Mitchell Starc to Iftikhar Ahmed, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:11 AM IST

    40.3 Mitchell Starc to Iftikhar Ahmed, no run, Starc asking Iftikhar to drive and get off the mark. Ahmed is in no mood to fall in that trap and leaves it alone.

  • 10:11 AM IST

    40.2 Mitchell Starc to Iftikhar Ahmed, no run, Good length ball outside off, Iftikhar leaves it alone.

  • 10:10 AM IST

    40.1 Mitchell Starc to Asad Shafiq, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:08 AM IST

    Wicket picked and hence there is no need of a part-timer now.

  • 10:08 AM IST

    39.6 Nathan Lyon to Iftikhar Ahmed, No run.

  • 10:08 AM IST

    39.5 Nathan Lyon to Iftikhar Ahmed, no run, Gives this air on off, Iftikhar blocks it.

  • 10:07 AM IST

    39.4 Nathan Lyon to Iftikhar Ahmed, no run, Tossed up on the stumps, Ahmed defends it onto the ground.

  • 10:07 AM IST

    39.3 Nathan Lyon to Iftikhar Ahmed, no run, On the pads, Iftikhar flicks it to square leg.

  • 10:07 AM IST

    Iftikhar Ahmed is the new batsman after the century stand has been broken. He has not been in good form and today is the real opportunity for him to show his mettle.

  • 10:06 AM IST

    10:04 AM IST

    39.1 Nathan Lyon to Shan Masood, no run, Tossed up on off, Masood blocks it.

  • 10:04 AM IST

    38.6 Marnus Labuschagne to Asad Shafiq, no run, Floated on the pads, Shafiq defends it off the front foot.

  • 10:04 AM IST

    38.5 Marnus Labuschagne to Shan Masood, 3 runs, Edged but wide of Smith at leg slip. Floated around the pads, Masood looks to flick but gets a feather on it which flies wide to the left of Smith. The ball goes past him and they get three runs.

  • 10:02 AM IST

    38.4 Marnus Labuschagne to Shan Masood, No run.

  • 10:01 AM IST

    38.3 Marnus Labuschagne to Asad Shafiq, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:01 AM IST

    38.2 Marnus Labuschagne to Shan Masood, 1 run, 1 run.

  • 10:00 AM IST

    38.1 Marnus Labuschagne to Asad Shafiq, 1 run, Loopy low full toss on off. Shan milks it wide of the diving bowler and gets a single at mid off.

  • 9:59 AM IST

    37.6 Nathan Lyon to Shan Masood, no run, Skidding down the leg side, Shan tries his best to flick but misses. Paine collects it in the second attempt. Another over played out without any discomfort.

  • 9:59 AM IST

    37.5 Nathan Lyon to Shan Masood, no run, Tossed up ball on off, Masood prods forward and blocks it easily.

    Australia vs Pakistan Live Cricket Score and Updates: AUS vs PAK Live Cricket Score, 2nd Test match, Day 4 Live cricket score at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

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