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Pakistan cricket team chief selector Misbahul Haq on Saturday announced a 16-member squad for the three one-day international (ODI) matches against Sri Lanka, set to commence on September 27 in Karachi.
The side includes Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Husnain, Iftikhar, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Usman Shinwari and Wahab Riaz.
Hassan Ali will not be playing owing to an injury.
Abid Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Usman Shinwari and Mohammad Hasnain have all earned recalls.
The ODI series will conclude on October 2.
Sri Lanka has already announced two squads for the three one-day internationals and the three T20 matches. Ten senior players opted out of the tour citing security concerns.
1st ODI: Karachi, September 27
2nd ODI: Karachi, September 29
3rd ODI: Karachi, October 2
1st T20: Lahore, October 5
2nd T20: Lahore, October 7
3rd T20: Lahore, October 9
SYDNEY: Cricket Australia (CA) is hoping to tour Pakistan in 2022, but chief executive Kevin Roberts said security remains a concern and he would never jeopardise the safety of players.
Most international teams have refused to visit the South Asian nation since the Sri Lankan team’s bus was attacked by gunmen during a Test in Lahore in March 2009, leaving six players injured. Six policemen and two civilians were killed.
Roberts returned from Pakistan on Thursday after the first trip by a high-level Australian cricket delegation in more than a decade.
The team has not played there since 1998, on government advice, but is next scheduled to tour in early 2022 and Roberts told Melbourne’s SEN radio he wanted to see for himself the situation on the ground.
“The purpose was really to understand the landscape, look at the plans they have in place around security and then start expressing our expectations for the safety of our players and our support staff well over two years away from when we’re due to tour,” he said.
“Things are heading in the right direction. In saying that we were travelling in armoured cars and escorted by police and felt very safe over there. But certainly that level of security is still required at this point.”
Roberts said “we would love to see international cricket return to Pakistan”, but cautioned that “we would never put our people in jeopardy”.
His comments came as Sri Lanka’s cricket board this week said they would press ahead with an upcoming six-match tour of Pakistan despite fears that players could be the targets of terror attacks.
Asked if he could realistically see Australia touring Pakistan during his tenure, Roberts said: “I really hope we do for the sake of world cricket and Australia’s important relationship with Pakistan.
“As I said to Pakistan, we share their desire for international cricket to return to their country. We have got the next couple of years to hopefully plan for a tour in 2022 but we have just got to set that out carefully, bit by bit, rather than rushing into it.”
Roberts is in touch with other cricketing nations over the issue and said his trip had triggered plans for similar visits by the chief executives of England and Ireland over the next month.
“It’s really good that the cricket world is opening its hearts and minds to the role of Pakistan and looking proactively at what it will take to return international cricket to Pakistan,” he said.
“Certainly, there’s parts of the country that are very unsafe, but there’s other parts where I think a number of nations will contemplate playing again in future when Pakistan are ready.”
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019
LAHORE: Newly-appointed bowling coach Waqar Younis, who previously worked twice as national team’s head coach, on Friday said he would fully support incumbent head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, and was willing to work under his guidance for improving Pakistan cricket.
“When you work under a head coach you have to work under his guidelines. Therefore, like other supporting staff I will also work under Misbah and we all will try our best to give the head coach our full support,” Waqar told reporters during the national training camp here at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Waqar, 47, who acted as national team’s head coach from 2010-2011 and then from 2014-2016 besides remaining the bowling coach in 2006-2007 and 2009, said: “It does not matter if you have come down or you are up as it is just myth. However, the main purpose of all of us is to serve Pakistan and to make its cricket better.”
Asked when he left the PCB in 2016 he had said that he would not work with the PCB again, what inspired him to again join it, Waqar said many things had changed in the past three years.
“A new set-up is at the helm, new system [regional to provincial] has been introduced plus other initiatives are also being taken, so the time has changed,” said Waqar, a veteran of 87 Tests in which he took 373 wickets at a highly impressive average of 23.56.
Waqar said though he had developed good chemistry with Misbah — as most of his work as head coach was with Misbah who then was national captain — even then they in future might have different ways of thinking on various subjects.
“My role is simple, I have performed as head coach and bowling coach so I have the idea, I know what I have to do. I also know Misbah’s mindset as he as captain has worked with me. Though there may be difference in thinking. Misbah I believe is passionate about cricket, his mindset is good and he is an honest person and we all have to support him at the maximum,” Waqar emphasised.
When asked where Pakistan cricket would stand if the new experience of giving dual role to Misbah failed, Waqar said negative thoughts should be shunned.
“Don’t think negatively, we should think positively. It [dual role] is not a new formula in the world of cricket. Negative voices from media may not give any positive to Pakistan cricket so all the stakeholders should think with a positive mindset,” he maintained.
To a question, Waqar said a couple of bowlers had impressed him but added that “it is not the right time for me to disclose their names”.
Responding to a query, Waqar refuted that he in the past had said both Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad should be kept away from Pakistan cricket.
“I had only suggested that both [players] should play more domestic cricket to further improve their skills and then they can make a comeback into the national side. Pakistan team is not of any [specific] individual; everyone who performs deserves the right to get a place in the team,” said Waqar, who captured 416 ODI wickets in 262 games at a fine 23.84.
It may be mentioned that in 2016 Waqar left the PCB protesting that his confidential report on Umar and Shehzad had been leaked to the media.
To a question, Waqar said Sarfraz Ahmed was the most experienced player as captain available to Pakistan. “He should lead the team in shorter versions and rest is the job of PCB chairman to also appoint him captain for Test cricket.”
It may be mentioned here that during Waqar’s 2014-16 stint as head coach, Sarfraz was struggling to claim a place in the national squad as Mohammad Rizwan was the head coach’s first-choice wicket-keeper. However after Waqar’s exit in 2016, Sarfraz made a remarkable entry into international cricket. And later in phases he was installed as captain of all three formats.
To a question, Waqar said nobody should compare one era to another.
“Look, we often talk about Pakistan team’s successes during the 1990s. However, the reality is that consistency in performance lacked at that time too.
“Now with new generation of players we won the 2009 World T20 and then the 2017 Champions Trophy but consistency is again lacking and that is a big problem to be dealt with,” Waqar said.
Meanwhile, Waqar welcomed the Sri Lankan government’s decision of giving permission to its team to tour Pakistan, and hoped the other cricket-playing nations would follow suit.
“And these [two] victories were recorded when international cricket was not being played in Pakistan.”
Commenting on the ongoing national training camp at the Gaddafi Stadium, Waqar said though hot weather still prevailed in Lahore, the camp was progressing well with added emphasis on physical fitness, which he said was a key grey area of Pakistan cricket.
Waqar revealed he was planning to shift from Australia to Pakistan in the near future to spend more time in coaching players at junior level too during off-season.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019
KARACHI: One of Pakistan’s most experienced and talented Test players, Asad Shafiq on Friday admitted that the batsmen should have performed well when the team needed them to in some of the key games that Pakistan lost recently against international teams.
“We have had some games, of late, where we should have delivered. We should have performed because we had the capability,” admitted Asad while talking to the media at the National Stadium. “There should be no excuses about not getting the ideal conditions. As batsmen, we have got a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the world cricket.”
Asad, however, also said that Pakistan doesn’t always struggle with the bat in key fixtures. “Yes, our batting struggles sometimes but it’s not always the case. Unfortunately, the kind of wickets on which we have been playing in Dubai, and not just us but everyone else, have struggled with the scoring rate due to slow pitches there,” said the 33-year-old.
“We always have neck-to-neck matches in Dubai. It’s not like we play slow overseas. We adapt to the conditions and play accordingly but, having said that, we know that we have to improve.”
Commenting on Misbah-ul-Haq’s appointment as the head coach and chief selector, Asad said: “Misbah’s appointment will have a positive effect on the team, especially on the batting unit. He is self-composed and doesn’t panic no matter how tense the situation. I have played with him. There were times when the pressure was mounting on me, but he controlled the situation well by remaining calm.”
“He is an experienced campaigner who has won a lot of games for Pakistan. I have learned a lot from him and this is a good opportunity, especially for the youngsters, to learn from his (Misbah’s) experience. He has played everywhere which is why he is in a better position to prepare the team accordingly,” said Asad.
On the fitness front, the right-handed batsman said: “We are working extremely hard on our fitness. We didn’t even touch bat or ball in the first seven days of our training camp. The entire focus was on the fitness sessions. We would have ground training in the morning and gym sessions in afternoon. We want to raise our fitness bar to an unprecedented level. Misbah himself is very fit. We know that our skill bar will only go up when we are fully fit.”
When asked what kind of wickets he is expecting for the next game, he said: “If you look at the scorecard of the previous game, you will see that the scoring rate of both the sides was more or less similar. The batsmen had lower strike rates because of the wicket being slow. But, the wicket that’s being prepared for the next game has some grass on it. We went to see it yesterday. So, we are hopeful that the pitch will play much better and assist the fast bowlers.”
He also said that we need to have more sporting wickets to make the first-class cricket better. “We have had wickets in the past in domestic games where 4-day games were wrapped up in two days. Sometimes, the wickets are slow to an extent that even one inning is not completed in four days. So, I think we should have a balanced wicket where there is something for everyone. Our first-class cricket will only get better when we have good sporting wickets and our players will also improve,” said Asad.
Sahibzada Farhan, the Balochistan captain, also spoke to the media and said: “We will have no pressure in the absence of our experienced players like Iftikhar Ahmed, Usman Shinwari and Mohammad Rizwan. Our bench strength is pretty good.”
“Since many of the players are returning to the domestic fold after playing white-ball cricket, it is going to take some time before they could adjust to playing red-ball cricket. I hope the wickets will also improve as the tournament progresses,” Farhan added.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019
KARACHI: Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani on Friday visited the National Stadium and reviewed the arrangements for the upcoming One-day Internationals series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka which will commence here from Sept 27.
The Commissioner also held a meeting at the stadium’s conference room which was attended among others by Deputy Commissioner East Ahmed Ali Siddiqui, DIG East Amir Farooqi, PCB representative and NSK General Manager Arshad Khan, senior officials of Pakistan Rangers as well as of the civic agencies.
It was decided in the meeting that foolproof security arrangement will be made during the series. The Commissioner said that special measures are being taken to make the matches safe, successful and memorable. “The surroundings of the National Stadium and different areas as well roads and intersections of the metropolis will be decorated,” he said. “Karachi has been declared a cricket city and hopefully the city is going to have more cricket and good matches.”
He added that the Pakistan Super League matches held earlier this year and now the one day series with Sri Lanka would give the world a positive message that Karachiites love cricket and is a great venue for sports.
The meeting was informed that special parking arrangements were being made for which spaces have been identified. Deputy Commissioner East Ahmed Ali Siddiqui assured the meeting that people would be facilitated and steps would be taken for their convenience. He further told the meeting that shuttle service would be provided on this occasion to facilitate people.
It was also decided that the images of cricket heroes will be displayed at different parts of the city and festivity programmes would be organised throughout the metropolis.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019