October 15, 2021

Pakistan off to Dubai for ICC T20 World Cup with optimism

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By Ehsan Qureshi

(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Captained by star batsman Babar Azam, Team Pakistan left for Dubai on October 15 with fair degree of optimism for the ICC T20 World Cup Cricket Tournament whose Super 12 round is due to commence from October 23. 

Before flying to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Babar dispelled the impression that Fakhar will be used as an opener, as he himself would continue to be opening the innings with Muhammad Rizwan. 

The continued downpour of hue and cry by former cricketers, media and others had finally compelled chief selector Muhammad Wasim to induct left-handed explosive opener Fakhar and former Pakistan captains, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, in the 15-member squad. 

Green shirts now look a balanced and potent combination. The whole nation and millions of Pakistani supporters are looking at the vastly experienced trio of Shoaib, Sarfaraz and Muhammad Hafeez alongwith the talented youngsters, Babar, Fakhar and Rizwan to inspire rest of the team to show their firepower in warm up matches and the main event to gladden their hearts. 

Short format specialist Shoaib will now be playing his sixth consecutive T20 World Cup and he is being expected to come up flying colors to bid farewell by bringing glory and honour for Pakistan. 

Australia will clash South Africa at Abu Dhabi and two-time champions West Indies take on England at Dubai on October 23. However the showpiece contest will be held the following day when the 2009 champions Pakistan will start their campaign against arch-rivals India, led by the flamboyant Virat Kohli. 

Although not many are rating Pakistan team very highly but their unpredictability makes them the most dangerous outfit and the Indians, who had won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, will not commit the blunder of taking them lightly. 

Pakistan must win at least four matches of the group to have any realistic hope for a place in the semifinal. Besides India, New Zealand and Afghanistan may also prove to be hard nuts to crack but Pakistan will still be having a fair chance of moving ahead if they play to their potential. 

The qualifying phase of the event commence at Amert Stadium Oman from October 17 with eight teams in fray for four qualifying berths. Besides former champions Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, Papua New Guinea, Namibia and hosts Oman will be battling it out in qualifiers. Oman will clash Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh will be up against Scotland on coming Sunday. 

In the meantime Pakistan hired fast bowling consultant Vernon Philander of South Africa, who has extensive training pace bowlers. The pundits, however, have expressed apprehension about immediate success due to limited time at his disposal. 

Pakistan’s newly appointed batting consultant and former Australia batting great Matthew Hayden, who is currently engaged in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), will join the team in Dubai. With chief coach Misbah-ul-Haq and fast bowling coach Waqar Younis have stepped down, 

Pakistan’s cricketers have to adjust quickly to the methods pursued by interim coach Saqlain Mushtaq, to be assisted by Philander and Hayden.

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October 8, 2021

Fakhar, Haider and Sarfaraz finally inducted in Pakistan T20 World Cup squad

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By Ehsan Qureshi 

(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Media pressure and public voice finally yielded results as the deserving trio of Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed was belatedly inducted in 15-member Pakistan squad for T20 World Cup starting in United Arab Emirates from October 23. 

It had seemed that career of the 2017 Champions Trophy winning captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was over. But fortunes have fluctuated dramatically and he has forced his way back into the team in place of the much criticized Azam Khan. 

Fast bowler Muhammad Hasnain was axed from 18-member which also included three travelling reserve players Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir and now Khushdil Shah. Haider came into the team in place of Hasnain. 

Chief selector Muhammad Wasim, who named the controversial squad a couple of weeks ago, was facing wrath of media in particular and public in general. He must, however, be complimented for finally having bowed down to pressure and selecting a balanced squad. 

Some questions still remained unanswered as to why Wasim had named the national squad long ago when Ramiz Raja was waiting in the wings to take over leadership of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). 

Interestingly Wasim had blamed the cancellation of New Zealand and England tours, stating that it caused problems in analyzing the performances of the players. 

Poor performances of Azam Khan as a batter and wicketkeeper in National T20 Cup was reason of his ouster. While his Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed’s fine batting and keeping resurrected his career. 

Highly talented Haider Ali, who was hailed by English media after blazing debut half century, was out of the team due to his inconsistent performances. A couple of classy knocks in T20 Cup have earned his place in national team. 

The veterans, Shoaib Malik and Wahab Riaz, however, have failed to secure a place in the team as was being predicted by some quarters. 

In the meantime the T20 World Cup-bound Pakistan squad will hold a seven-day training and conditioning camp under bio-secure protocols at the National High Performance Centre and LCCA ground, Lahore, from October 10. 

The squad members, along with their family members, will join the bio-secure and undergo Covid-19 testing upon arrival. After returning negative tests, the players will be allowed to commence their preparations with the gym sessions at NHPC, the PCB announced in a news release. 

The players will hold training sessions at the LCCA Ground at 1:30 pm on October 11 and 12 while they are scheduled to play a practice match under the lights on October 14 which will start at 6 pm. No training activity has been scheduled for October 13.

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