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Cricket02 Feb 2021

NEW ZEALAND QUALIFY FOR ICC TEST CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
SPORTS DESK ISLAMABAD (February 2, 2021):-The postponement of the Test series between South Africa and Australia means New Zealand have become the first team to qualify for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship final to be held in England from June 18 to 22, with June 23 as the reserve day. New Zealand are currently ranked second on the ICC WTC table with a points percentage of 70 per cent, which has secured them a place in the final. They will be joined by either India, England, or Australia with the second spot being determined by the outcome of the India v England four-match Test series due to start on Friday. To book their place, India will have to win the series against England by 2-1, 2-0, 3-1, 3-0 or 4-0, margin. For England to qualify and join New Zealand, they will have to win the series against India by 3-1, 3-0 or 4-0 margin. Australia can still qualify for the much-anticipated ICC WTC final if the series between India and England ends up as a drawn series, or if India win the series 1-0 or England win it by 1-0, 2-1 or a 2-1 margin.

Cricket31 Jan 2021

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lift Pakistan Cricket Cup
SPORTS REPORT KARACHI (January 31, 2021):-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made a hat-trick of First XI domestic titles for the 2020-21 season as they clinched the Pakistan Cup powered by Servis Tyres – One-Day Tournament 2020-21 with a resounding seven-wicket victory in the tournament final against Central Punjab at the State Bank Stadium on Sunday. Opener Sahibzada Farhan who starred in the semi-final victory against Northern with a 132-run innings, took the centre stage in the final with a brilliant unbeaten 103 off 102 balls, the right-hander hit five fours and as many sixes in his innings(seventh century of his List A career) to ensure a commanding victory for his side. Farhan added 69 runs for the first-wicket with Musadiq Ahmed (33) to provide his side a solid platform for their 240-run chase. Aamer Azmat who batted at number three, scored 45 off 28 balls (four fours, three sixes) in a 66-run second-wicket stand with Farhan. Iftikhar Ahmed contributed 40 off 35 balls (three fours, two sixes) in a 69-run third-wicket stand with Farhan. Farhan reached his century with a six while Adil Amin played the winning shot as the jubilant Khyber Pakhtunkhwa side completed the chase in a mere 36.1 overs. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who had won the National T20 Cup and the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (joint winners with Central Punjab) completed a hat-trick of titles in the 2020-21 season by adding the glittering Pakistan Cup trophy to their glittering collection besides the PKR5million winners’ prize. Central Punjab bagged PKR2.5million. Earlier, Central Punjab were asked to bat first by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Khalid Usman.  After a 42-run for the first-wicket, left-arm-pacer Mohammad Imran sent back Rizwan Hussain (20). Opener Tayyab Tahir held the innings together as wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end. The right-hander scored 67 off 88 balls (one four, two sixes) top-score for his side. Tayyab was the fifth-wicket to fall with the score at 167. Raza Ali Dar who added 83 runs for the third-wicket with Tayyab scored 48 off 45 balls with the help of seven fours. Young all-rounder Qasim Akram scored a gritty 50, he faced 57 balls and hit two fours and two sixes. Central Punjab folded for 239 runs in 47 overs as left-arm-spinner Asif Afridi took five wickets to strangle the Central Punjab batting effort. Asif bowled 10 overs and conceded a mere 39 runs for his five-wicket haul, Mohammad Imran finished with three wickets for 42 runs in eight overs. Scores in brief: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Central Punjab by seven wickets at the State Bank Stadium Central Punjab 239 all out, 47 overs (Tayyab Tahir 67, Qasim Akram 50, Raza Ali Dar 48; Asif Afridi 5-39, Mohammad Imran 3-42) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 245-3, 36.1 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 103 not out, Aamer Azmat 45, Iftikhar Ahmed 40; Qasim Akram 1-30) Player-of-the-Match PKR35,000: Asif Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) Player-of-the-Tournament PKR250,000: Hammad Azam (Northern) Best Batsman of the Tournament PKR250,000: Tayyab Tahir (Central Punjab) Best Bowler of the Tournament PKR250,000: Asif Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) Best Wicketkeeper of the Tournament PKR250,000: Mohammad Azam Khan (Sindh)

Cricket28 Jan 2021

UMPIRE OXENFORD TO RETIRE FROM INTERNATIONAL CRICKET
SPORTS DESK ISLAMABAD (January 28, 2021):-Umpire Bruce Oxenford has decided to retire from international cricket after a fine career that saw him officiate around the world across all three formats of the game for over 15 years. A regular member of the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Umpires since 2012, Oxenford has officiated in 62 Test matches, the last of which was the final match of the Australia-India series in Brisbane. Oxenford, who officially stands down in April, made his international debut at the Gabba in a T20I between Australia and South Africa in January 2006. He officiated at the last three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups and the last three ICC Men’s T20 World Cups. He was also part of the officiating team at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cups in 2012 and 2014. Before becoming an umpire, Oxenford represented Queensland in eight first-class matches as a leg-spin bowler and lower-order batsman. The 60-year-old from Queensland will continue to oversee domestic fixtures despite his retirement from the international game. Bruce Oxenford: “I look back with pride at my international career as an umpire. It is still hard to believe that I officiated in close to 200 international matches. Such a long career was not really something that I had hoped for before commencing on this journey. “I would like to thank the International Cricket Council, Cricket Australia and all my colleagues in the ICC Elite and International panels for their support and encouragement over the years. I had a wonderful time as a match official and will miss the camaraderie that comes with being a part of such a professional group. “I shall particularly miss seeing and interacting with the magnificent people who are part of the support structure of our game around the world. “Most importantly, I want to thank my wife Jo, son James and daughter Kristen for all their love and support over the years. It would not have been possible for me to have such a long career without their sacrifices and for this I am eternally grateful. “Whilst I will no longer stand in International matches, I look forward to continuing to serve the game that I love - officiating within Australia.” Adrian Griffith, ICC Senior Manager – Umpires and Referees: “Bruce is an excellent umpire, and it has been a pleasure working with him over the years. He is a great team man and well respected by all his colleagues. “I congratulate Bruce on behalf of everyone at the ICC for a fine international career and wish him all the success in his future pursuits. It is pleasing to hear he will continue to umpire domestically and share his tremendous experience with the next generation of Elite umpires.”

Cricket22 Jan 2021

Nida Dar hopes to fight back
SPORTS REPORT DURBAN (January 22, 2021):-The first One-day International between South African women and Pakistan women went down the wire and was decided on the final ball with the hosts securing a close three-run win after a brilliant fight back from the tourists. Following their captain Javeria Khan’s decision to bowl first, the Pakistan bowling unit, spearheaded by pacer Diana Baig, restricted the hosts to a modest 200 for nine and had them reeling at 88 for four at one stage. In their chase, they made a solid comeback from 78 for five to be only 13 runs away from the victory before the start of the last over. All-rounder Nida Dar contributed in both departments as she took two wickets for 35 with her off-spin before recording the highest score of the match with a 93-ball 59 not out, which included three fours. The 34-year-old is optimistic about her team bouncing back in the series when they take on South Africa for the second one-dayer at Durban’s Kingsmead Cricket Stadium on Saturday. “It was quite a thrilling match and the girls did not lose the fighting spirit till the last ball,” Nida told PCB Digital. “It was our first international match after a long gap and overall we played good, competitive cricket. I think we squandered an opportunity to go 1-0 up in the series. Certainly, there were some gaps and we have had discussions on how we can plug them. We are now looking forward to the next match.” Before Wednesday, Nida had posted 50-plus scores on four occasions. Reflecting on her innings, she said: “It is certainly good to score runs as it gives you confidence going into matches. However, every day is a new day and you encounter different. This time, despite scoring a half-century, I was not able to take my team over the line, but it will not be the case the next time.” The hosts seemed certain to seal the match much earlier in the innings when Shabnim Ismail, who was named Player of the Match for taking three wickets for 42 and contributing run-a-ball 20, bowled Aliya Riaz (28 off 44), bringing an end to a 51-run stand, and Fatima Sana on successive deliveries in the 41st over. But an incredible undefeated 60-run stand for the ninth-wicket between Nida and Diana, who contributed an impressive 35 not out from 34 balls, kept the tourists in the contest. Their partnership went down as the highest for the ninth-wicket for Pakistan and the fourth highest in the history of women’s game. “Our partnership was built on the fighting spirit and when we came together in the middle, we were discussing that we cannot let this game slip and we will battle till the very last ball. Her feedback as a bowler helped me in the middle. We have never batted together for this long and it was incredible how her innings has instilled confidence in the team that we can bounce back from difficult moments.” Pakistan squad: Javeria Khan (c), Aimen Anwar, Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Ayesha Naseem, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Kainat Imtiaz, Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Nahida Khan, Nashra Sandhu, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk) and Syeda Aroob Shah

Cricket21 Jan 2021

Selectors name squad for first and second Tests in India
SPORTS DESK ISLAMABAD (January 21, 2021):-The England National Selectors have named a 16-strong squad and six travelling reserves for the first and second Test matches against India starting on Friday 5th February at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai. England Men’s Test Squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire). Reserves: James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex), Amar Virdi (Surrey). Jofra Archer, Rory Burns and Ben Stokes return to the squad. Archer and Stokes were rested for the Sri Lanka series and Burns was at home for the birth of his first child. Surrey’s Ollie Pope will travel to India and will be added to the squad when passed fit. Pope is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in September during the Test series against Pakistan. The National Selectors have provided a block of rest for Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Curran and Mark Wood. The three players, who are currently in Sri Lanka, will miss the first and second Tests in India. This is consistent with the selection policy of finding a block of rest for all multi-format players at some point during post-Christmas winter schedule. With Archer and Stokes returning, and subject to fitness of the rest of the squad, Somerset’s Craig Overton will return home after the Sri Lanka series. Schedule (Test matches): Friday 5-9 February: 1st Test – India v England, MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai Saturday 13-17 February: 2nd Test – India v England, MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai Wednesday 24-28 February: 3rd Test - India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Thursday 4-8 March: 4th Test – India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Schedule (T20Is): Friday 12 March: 1st T20I – India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Sunday 14 March: 2nd T20I – India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Tuesday 16 March: 3rd T20I - India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Thursday 18 March: 4th T20I - India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Saturday 20 March: 5th T20I - India v England, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad Schedule (ODIs): Tuesday 23 March: 1st ODI - India v England, MCA Stadium, Pune Friday 26 March: 2nd ODI - India v England, MCA Stadium, Pune Sunday 28 March: 3rd ODI - India v England, MCA Stadium, Pune

Cricket21 Jan 2021

Former cricketers await start of Pakistan-South Africa Test series
SPORTS REPORT ISLAMABAD (January 21, 2021):-Karachi’s historic National Stadium will play host to the first Pakistan-South Africa Test on Pakistani soil in more than 13 years when play begins on Tuesday, 26 January. The National Stadium Karachi is considered Pakistan’s fortress of Test cricket but South Africa remains one of only two teams to have beaten the home side in the 42 matches hosted at the venue. South Africa won here by 160 runs to take what turned out to be a decisive 1-0 lead in the last series to be played between the two teams in Pakistan. Current Pakistan batting coach Younis Khan scored a century in the second innings of the match while debutant spinner Abdur Rehman took eight wickets in the match. Former Pakistan players are looking forward to an exciting series with both teams possessing some world-class talent that promises to produce exciting cricket. Younis Khan –Total of 990 runs in 14 Tests against South Africa: “After the Test tours by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the tour of South Africa is a magnificent occasion indeed. National Stadium is my home ground and I have played here for a long time, the conditions and pitch will suit Pakistan. South Africa also have some quality players which makes for a competitive series. “Young Pakistan players who will play Test cricket on home soil will have a lot to gain from this experience, they will learn the nuances of the longest format and their confidence will also grow.” Mohammad Yousuf batting coach NHPC –Seven Tests against South Africa, 357 runs: “South Africa’s trip is a big milestone for cricket in the country, Pakistanis love cricket and it is their greatest passion. There is a lot of interest in Test cricket and I have some very fond memories of playing Test cricket all over the country. “I am confident that the fans will enjoy a great series as both teams will enter the series with adequate preparation and planning. South Africa possess experienced players but we have the advantage of playing at our home grounds. The Pakistan squad is well aware of the conditions at the National Stadium and even the new players inducted in the squad have rich experience of playing first-class cricket at the venue.” Umar Gul –Six Tests, fifteen wickets against South Africa: “This is a significant series in terms of homecoming of cricket as South Africa is one of the top cricketing nations. I remember the 2007 Karachi Test which South Africa won against us as I was part of the Pakistan team. I am backing the Babar Azam-led team to win this Test and better our record against South Africa at one of our favourite Test venues.” Abdur Rehman –Eight wickets in 2007 Karachi Test on debut: “South Africa playing again at the National Stadium has brought back some wonderful memories of my debut Test in 2007. For me performing against them in my debut Test was nothing short of a dream coming true. In the present squad, spinners Mohammad Nawaz, Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan have considerable experience of first-class cricket. “The trio has played a lot of cricket this season at this venue and know well about the conditions and the pitch. The spinners along with Yasir can really trouble South Africa; Yasir will be the linchpin of the bowling attack.” Faisal Iqbal –Four Tests, 119 runs against South Africa: “In these challenging times, the tour of South Africa is an extremely encouraging step. I strongly believe that the successful delivery of PCB’s domestic season even with the Covid-19 challenges helped a lot with this tour. “I was part of the team that played the 2007 series against South Africa and at present it is a matter of pride for me that I am one of the selectors that has chosen the squad for this tour besides my role as head coach of Balochistan.” Taufeeq Umar –Six Tests, 730 runs against South Africa: “South Africa’s tour is a very encouraging development and I am looking forward to what should be a keenly contested series. This series will help bring more Test cricket to Pakistan. Both teams are balanced and we are in for a thrilling series, I wish Pakistan the very best, I believe we have the squad that can prevail in the Test series.”

Cricket17 Jan 2021

Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza to umpire South Africa Tests
SPORTS REPORT ISLAMABAD (January 17, 2021):-Aleem Dar will officiate in his first-ever Test at home, while on-field umpire Ahsan Raza and match referee Mohammad Javed Malik will also make their Test debuts as the Pakistan Cricket Board, on behalf of the International Cricket Council, today confirmed match officials’ appointments for the two-match series between Pakistan and South Africa, which starts in Karachi on 26 January. Elite panelist Aleem Dar has umpired in a record 132 Tests since making his debut in 2003 in Dhaka, while Ahsan part of the international panel has umpired in 37 ODIs and 57 T20Is to date. Javed Malik, a former first-class cricketer and a member of the ICC’s international panel, has refereed in 10 ODIs and six T20Is. Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz will be the third and fourth umpires, respectively, while Javed Malik will lead the playing control team for both the Tests. The second Test will begin in Rawalpindi from 4 February. As per the ICC’s interim playing regulations, the requirement to appoint third country officials has temporarily been removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC, however, continues to appoint locally based match officials from the ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the ICC International Panel of Match Officials. For the three-match T20I series, Javed Malik will continue to be the match referee, while Aleem and Ahsan Raza will be the on-field umpires for the first match with Shozab Raza in the TV umpire’s box and Asif Yaqoob as fourth umpire. Shozab Raza and Asif Yaqoob will stand in the second T20I with Ahsan Raza and Rashid Riaz as third and fourth umpires, respectively, while Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz will be the on-field umpires for the third T20I with Ahsan Raza and Shozab Raza as third and fourth umpires, respectively. Aleem Dar: “It will definitely be an emotional moment for me to umpire in a Test involving Pakistan. It has been nearly a 17-year and 132-Test wait, but its about to be over. Like the players, the match officials also want to umpire in matches on home ground, something we achieve in white-ball cricket, but Test cricket remains the pinnacle format and I am delighted that I will be standing in the two Tests between two excellent sides.” Pakistan v South Africa - Umpire and match referee appointments: 26-30 Jan – 1st Test. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee) 4-8 Feb – 2nd Test. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee) 11 Feb – 1st T20I. Aleem Dar and Ahsan Raza (on-field umpires), Shozab Raza (third umpire), Asif Yaqoob (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee) 13 Feb – 2nd T20I. Shozab Raza and Asif Yaqoob (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Rashid Riaz (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee) 14 Feb – 3rd T20I. Aleem Dar and Rashid Riaz (on-field umpires), Ahsan Raza (third umpire), Shozab Raza (fourth umpire); Mohammad Javed Malik (match referee).

Cricket17 Jan 2021

Saud wants to represent Pakistan in all three formats
SPORTS REPORT KARACHI (January 17, 2021):-Saud Shakeel the left-handed middle-order batsman has been named in Pakistan’s 20-member squad for the two Test-match series against South Africa starting from 26 January at the National Stadium. The 25-year-old Saud hails from Karachi, and started playing cricket at the year of 12. Saud has featured in most of the age-group tournaments of PCB, he started his journey by representing Karachi in PCB’s U16 tournament in 2011. He represented U19 for the first time in 2013, and later captained the Pakistan U19 team in 2014. He was picked in Pakistan A squad for the tour of England in 2016, where current Pakistan captain Babar Azam was his captain. Saud featured in a four-day and four 50-over matches on the tour and played alongside Aamer Yamin, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan. He led Pakistan Emerging team to victory in ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup Tournament in 2019, the side defeated Bangladesh in the final by 77 runs. Saud has scored 3220 runs in 46 first-class matches. He has struck 10 centuries and 17 half-centuries at an average of 48.78, with 174 as his best score. With his left-arm spin Saud has taken 23 wickets. In 67 List A matches, Saud has scored 2347 runs at an average of 46.01. He has struck four centuries and 18 half-centuries and taken 26 wickets. Expressing his delight over his inclusion in the Test squad against South Africa, Saud Shakeel said: “I could not watch team selection’s press conference, but after the team announcement, my Sindh team mates started ringing me and came to my room and congratulated me on my selection. “It is an honour for me to represent Pakistan national team, but my real goal is to feature for the national team in all three formats. “Throughout my cricket journey, I had learnt a lot from Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed, and now I look forward to learning as much as I can in the national team camp. “I am blessed to have come through age-group cricket, through a proper pathway and if given chance I look forward to grabbing it with both hands. “Occupying the crease and rotation of strike are my strong points.”

Cricket15 Jan 2021

Wasim selects nine uncapped South Africa Tests
SPORTS REPORT KARACHI (January 15, 2021):-Pakistan cricket selectors have named a 20-member squad, including nine uncapped players, for the two-Test series against South Africa, which commences here on 26 January. The players will enter the bio-secure bubble on 19 January and the squad will be trimmed to 16 players ahead of the first Test. Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imran Butt, middle-order batsmen Kamran Ghulam, Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel, spinners Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan have been rewarded for their stellar performances in the 2020-21 domestic season, including the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Hasan Ali has returned to the Test side after two years following a highly successful Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in which he was adjudged player of the final and tournament. Hasan, whose ninth and last Test appearance was against South Africa in Johannesburg, took 43 wickets and scored 273 runs in a fierce and highly competitive Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that included match figures of five for 129 and 106 not out in the second innings of the tied final. Also returning to the side is left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who took 22 wickets with two-fers and scored 744 runs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. He last played a Test against the West Indies in Sharjah in 2016. Nawaz and Faheem Ashraf are the two-all-rounders in a side that also includes three openers, six middle-order batsmen, two wicketkeepers, three spinners and four fast bowlers. Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Shan Masood and Zafar Gohar, who played in the last Test in Christchurch, have been left out. Haris, Abbas and Shan will be invited to the High Performance Centre in Lahore so that they can work on their technical faults with the qualified coaches. Zafar who made his Test Debut in Christchurch remains part of selectors long term plans in both red and white ball cricket, and will also work with NHPC coaches on further improvement of his all-round skillset. Fast bowler Naseem Shah was not considered for selection after complaining of a niggle in his hamstring. He will shortly commence his rehabilitation programme at the National High Performance Centre. The 20-player squad is: Openers – Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab) and Imran Butt (Balochistan) Middle-order batsmen - Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (captain, Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Kamran Ghulam (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab) and Saud Shakeel (Sindh) All-rounders – Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab) and Mohammad Nawaz (Northern) Wicketkeepers – Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh) Spinners – Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan) Fast bowlers – Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Tabish Khan (Sindh) Chief selector Muhammad Wasim: “I want to congratulate all the uncapped players who have made it to the 20-player Pakistan Test squad. These nine players are now just a step away from representing Pakistan in the pinnacle format of the game. As such, they have an outstanding opportunity to step-up show their class and potential, and perform strongly so that they can cement their places for future international assignments. “This is a reward for their consistent performance, hard work and perseverance during a difficult season played under the strict Covid-19 protocols. This is also an endorsement that domestic cricket will be valued and respected, and will remain a stepping stone for international cricket. All those players who aspire to represent Pakistan at the global stage will not only have to feature in it but also perform at the expected levels to earn the selectors’ nod. “For the players who have narrowly missed out on selection, I want to encourage them to retain their focus and continue to work hard as we have a busy and packed 2021 ahead. This means there will potentially be opportunities at some stage down the year. I will like to see these players continue to focus on their fitness and form even after curtain falls on the 2020-21 season so that whenever they get a call-up, they are ready to cash in on the opportunity. “Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Shan Masood have been dropped due to inconsistent performances. However, the PCB will not let its investment on these talented players go to waste and will invite them to the High Performance Centre so that they can work out their technical flaws and get back into contention. “Shan’s bad form has opened doors for Abid Ali’s new partner, be it either Abdullah Shafique or Imran Butt, who was last season’s top scorer. Together with Abdullah, he was in New Zealand with the Shaheens side. “Kamran Ghulam (1,249 runs), Saud Shakeel (970 runs) and Salman Ali Agha (941 runs) walk into the middle-order to support Azhar Ali, Babar Azam and Fawad Alam. This is a formidable and highly skilled middle-order, which will encourage a further healthy competition for a permanent place in the side. “With Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan not available due to niggles, the selectors have shown faith in bowlers with diverse variations and skillsets, who also know our conditions at the back of their hands. “The horses for courses policy means performers like left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, off-spinner Sajid Shah, and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Tabish Khan will be available for selection, depending on the team composition for the first Test against South Africa in Pakistan in 14 years. “Wrist spinner Zahid Mahmood had a strong case after an excellent season, but we decided against going into the series with all four inexperienced spinners. Yasir Shah understands pressures of international cricket and is familiar with the demands, challenges and expectations of the purist format of the game. “Tabish Khan has been preferred over Sohail Khan as he is more effective and useful in Pakistan conditions. Like Mohammad Abbas, Tabish is a workhorse, who can bowl long spells with controlled line and length. His 598 career first-class wickets, including 30 wickets this season, is a testament that he is a like-to-like replacement for Mohammad Abbas in the given conditions. “Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Nawaz are two all-rounders of contrasting skills and should provide more selection options to the team management.”

Cricket08 Jan 2021

PCB announces HBL PSL 2021 schedule
HAMMAD AHMED KAYANI KARACHI (January 8, 2021):-Karachi Kings will begin from where they finished their successful HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 campaign by taking on 2019 champions Quetta Gladiators in the opening fixture of the 2021 edition at the National Stadium on 20 February. On the following day, 2020 finalists Lahore Qalandars will take on 2017 winners Peshawar Zalmi in a day fixture, while two-time winners Islamabad United will square off against Multan Sultans in the evening. The 30-day 34-match tournament will culminate with the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 22 March, marking the first time the venue will stage the final since 2017. To safeguard the integrity of the HBL PSL 2021 and to ensure health and safety of all participants in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PCB has decided to hold the matches in Karachi and Lahore only. The National Stadium will stage the first half of the competition, while the Pakistan cricket headquarters at the Gaddafi Stadium will be the venue of the second half of the competition, including the playoffs. With regards to crowd attendances, since Covid-19 is an evolving situation, a decision will be made closer to time though the event organisers are continuously monitoring the situation and remain in close contact with the concerned government officials. While preparing the event schedule, the organisers have ensured each side is playing equal number of day and evening matches. Also, the event organisers have tried to make optimum use of the weekends while scheduling double-headers that will ensure maximum following and coverage. The Support Period for the HBL PSL 2021 will commence from 15 February and the foreign players competing in the league will arrive into Karachi with a negative PCR test. Upon arrival, they will require two more negative PCR tests before being allowed to train and compete in the competition. The asymptomatic players or support staff returning a positive test will have to serve a five-day isolation period with RT-PCR tests on day one and four. Babar Hamid, Director – Commercial: “We are delighted to announce the schedule of our marquee event – the HBL Pakistan Super League, which for the second successive season will be held in Pakistan in its entirety. “We had to make the tough decision to limit matches to Karachi and Lahore, and this decision has been taken in the larger interest of the event, participants and the country. We want to limit the unnecessary exposure of the players as much as practically possible so that the players can operate in a safe and healthy environment that, in turn, will allow them to continue to entertain the fans and followers with their talent, skills and gamesmanship. “The crowds in Multan and Rawalpindi were awesome last year and we owe a big thanks to them for their contribution in making the HBL PSL 2020 a resounding success. I am sure when life returns to normal, the two cities will get their share of matches as the PCB remains committed and determined to stage matches of the HBL PSL at as many venues as possible. “Apart from the competitors, the PCB also has a duty of care towards the spectators. Although we have a couple of options on the table, the PCB will continue to monitor the situation and delay the decision as late as possible on crowd attendances as for the PCB, health and lives are of utmost importance. “As for the six franchisees and the event organisers, the schedule announcement gives them an opportunity to start planning for the tournament. While the six sides will be finalising their squads at the upcoming players’ Draft, the PCB has already been working hard on event planning and now is time to change gears so that we can strengthen our reputation and credibility as a high-performing board.” Event schedule (Day matches to start at 2pm; Night matches to start at 7pm; Friday’s double-headers to start at 3pm and 8pm, respectively): Sat, 20 Feb - Karachi Kings v Quetta Gladiators (N); NSK, Karachi Sun, 21 Feb - Lahore Qalandars v Peshawar Zalmi (D); Islamabad United v Multan Sultans (N); both matches at NSK, Karachi Mon, 22 Feb - Lahore Qalandars v Quetta Gladiators (N); NSK, Karachi Tue, 23 Feb - Peshawar Zalmi v Multan Sultans (N); NSK, Karachi Wed, 24 Feb - Karachi Kings v Islamabad United (N); NSK, Karachi Fri, 26 Feb - Lahore Qalandars v Multan Sultans (D); Peshawar Zalmi v Quetta Gladiators (N); both matches at NSK, Karachi Sat, 27 Feb - Karachi Kings v Multan Sultans (D); Peshawar Zalmi v Islamabad United (N); both matches at NSK, Karachi Sun, Feb 28 - Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars (N); NSK, Karachi Mon, 1 Mar - Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators (N); NSK, Karachi Wed, 3 Mar - Karachi Kings v Peshawar Zalmi (D); Quetta Gladiators v Multan Sultans (N); both matches at NSK, Karachi Thu, 4 Mar - Lahore Qalandars v Islamabad United (N); NSK, Karachi Fri, 5 Mar - Multan Sultans v Karachi Kings (N); NSK, Karachi Sat, 6 Mar - Islamabad United v Quetta Gladiators (D); Peshawar Zalmi v Lahore Qalandars (N); NSK, Karachi Sun, 7 Mar - Multan Sultans v Quetta Gladiators (D); Islamabad United v Karachi Kings (N); NSK, Karachi Wed, 10 Mar - Peshawar Zalmi v Karachi Kings (N); GSL, Lahore Thu, 11 Mar - Quetta Gladiators v Lahore Qalandars (N); GSL, Lahore Fri, 12 Mar - Multan Sultans v Peshawar Zalmi (D); Islamabad United v Lahore Qalandars (N); both matches at GSL, Lahore Sat 13 Mar - Quetta Gladiators v Karachi Kings (D); Multan Sultans v Islamabad United (N); both matches at GSL, Lahore Sun, 14 Mar - Quetta Gladiators v Peshawar Zalmi (D); Lahore Qalandars v Karachi Kings (N); both matches at GSL, Lahore Mon, 15 Mar - Islamabad United v Peshawar Zalmi (N); GSL, Lahore Tue, 16 Mar - Multan Sultans v Lahore Qalandars (N); GSL, Lahore Thu, 18 Mar - Qualifier (1 v 2) (N); GSL, Lahore Fri, 19 Mar - Eliminator 1 (3 v 4) (N); GSL, Lahore Sat, Mar 20 - Eliminator 2 (loser Qualifier v winner Eliminator 1) (N); GSL, Lahore Mon, 22 Mar - Final (N), GSL, Lahore