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Azhar Ali AFP
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Azhar Ali Expressed His Desire To See Pakistan Win 2nd WTC Title During His Career

Azhar Ali, a former Pakistan Test skipper expressed his desire to see his country win the World Test Championship during his career. Pakistan had a torrid time in the inaugural WTC as they finished fifth in the table with four wins, five losses, and three draws from 12 matches. Pakistan will start their 2021-23 WTC cycle with their two-match Test series against the West Indies.

Azhar Ali has been a prolific run-scorer for the nation in the purest format, having notched 6579 runs at an average of 43.28 with 18 tons and 33 fifties. Even as he hasn’t played T20 cricket for the Men in Green, his last ODI for Pakistan came way back in January 2018 against New Zealand.

Azhar Ali
Azhar Ali. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

Azhar Ali Admits The WTC Is A Valuable Addition And He Wants To See Pakistan Win WTC During His Career

Azhar Ali put forth his wishes prior to Pakistan’s upcoming Test series against the West Indies that starts on Thursday, August 12. Both matches of the red-ball series will take place at Sabina Park, Kingston in Jamaica.

“The ICC World Test Championship is a valuable addition and has helped make this format more competitive. I want to see Pakistan win the Test championship in my career. Test cricket is the pinnacle format and this format is still entertaining fans around the globe. Fans in Australia, England, and New Zealand still wait for a Test match,” Azhar was quoted as saying in a press conference.

Pakistan Cricket Team
Pakistan Cricket Team (Credit: Getty Images)

After a poor outing in the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship, Pakistan Cricket Team will be desperate to bounce back in the second cycle of the Test supremacy. The Men in Green failed to secure a place in the top 5 and recorded only four wins in 12 matches. Pakistan ended the competition in sixth place with 43.3% points.

The first West Indies-Pakistan Test will be played at the Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica from August 12. The 2nd Test will be at the same venue and will get underway from August 20.

Azhar Ali Admits A Caribbean Tour Isn’t An Easy One

Prior to the series, Azhar Ali felt the upcoming games will pose their fair share of challenges to the visiting team. Pakistan has won seven out of 26 Tests in the West Indies while losing 12 and drawing seven games. Azhar Ali also said that with the likes of Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Abid Ali, and Fawad Alam in their ranks, Pakistan has a power-packed batting lineup.

“A Caribbean tour is never an easy one and we are preparing for the challenges ahead here in Guyana. The West Indies have a good bowling line-up but our batters are in a good shape,” he stated.

Azhar Ali And Fawad Alam Photo: AFP
Azhar Ali And Fawad Alam Photo: AFP

“Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are in good knick and they have shown their pedigree in the white-ball matches leading up to the Tests. Among the Test batters, Abid Ali and Fawad Alam are also performing consistently from the last couple of series,” Azhar added.

The visitors will play against West Indies in a two-match Test series that gets underway from August 12. The 11 players who left for Barbados on July 26th were Abid Ali, Ali, Fawad Alam, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Shah, and Zahid Mahmood.

Azhar Ali has amassed 6579 runs from 87 Tests averaging 43.28 with 18 tons with a highest of unbeaten 302. Fawad Alam played 3 Tests in 2009 before being recalled in 2020 to play against England. He has scored 3 tons in each of the last three series against New Zealand, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Pakistan will open its World Test Championship campaign in August 2021 against the West Indies cricket team. Initially, the series was supposed to have three Tests, but both boards agreed to have only a two-Test series. After the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, Pakistan will visit Bangladesh to play a two-Test series against the home team. The series is likely to take place in November 2021.

The Australian cricket team will play an away Test series against Pakistan in the first quarter of 2022. The series will comprise three Tests, with either Pakistan or the United Arab Emirates playing host to the fixtures. Babar Azam’s men will play their final away series under the new WTC cycle against Sri Lanka in July and August 2022.

Like the series against Bangladesh and West Indies, the Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Test series will also consist of two matches. World Test Champions New Zealand will play two Tests against Pakistan in November 2022.  The England cricket team led by Joe Root will travel to Asia to compete in a three-Test series against Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal retires with a ‘heavy heart’. (Source: AP)
Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal retires with a ‘heavy heart’. (Source: AP)
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England And India Have Two Teams Now, Our One Is Struggling To Survive, Says Saeed Ajmal

Saeed Ajmal was feeling dejected following Pakistan’s recent pathetic performance as they were whitewashed by 2nd string England in the three-match ODI series. Saeed Ajmal highlighted how India and England have enough quality players to form two international-standard teams while Pakistan is struggling to build even one decent side.

England was rocked before the start of the ODI series as COVID-19 cases emerged inside their main squad’s bio-bubble.

In response, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) named an entirely new side, which included nine uncapped players, for the three ODIs against Pakistan. On the other hand, India is fielding two sides simultaneously-one in England for Tests and another in Sri Lanka to play 3 ODIs and as many T20Is.

Saeed Ajmal (Reuters Photo)
Saeed Ajmal (Reuters Photo)

Saeed Ajmal Dejected At Pakistan’s Series Whitewash Against Second String England

Many saw Pakistan as favourites to win the series at that point, with England fielding a second-string side. But the hosts prevailed and blanked Pakistan in all three ODIs.

A deflated Saeed Ajmal took to his official YouTube channel to vent his frustration: “Babar Azam has scored 14 hundreds in 81 innings.What should I say now? Even after playing a brilliant innings he had to return to the pavilion frustrated (after Pakistan’s loss). It used to happen to me as well. I took five wicket hauls but the team used to lose. I can only see two or three top players.”

James Vince drives through the covers during his maiden England hundred Getty Images
James Vince drives through the covers during his maiden England hundred Getty Images

The former Pakistani spinner added: “Even in bowling, apart from two or three bowlers, I don’t see any of them (of quality).

“How will we survive like this? Our middle order is still a flop. If the top order performs then only we can put commendable score. Whenever the top order fails our teams get completely bogged down. England and India have two teams now, our one is struggling to survive.”

After being thrashed in the first two ODIs, Pakistan batsmen tried their best in the third ODI but even that was not enough. Captain Babar Azam slammed a record-breaking 158 – his highest and the most by any Pakistan player against England – to lead his side to 331 for 9. But in reply, James Vince hit his maiden ODI ton and Lewis Gregory scored a crucial 77 off 69 balls as England reached home in 48 overs with three wickets in the bank.

Saeed Ajmal Blasts Pakistan Cricket Board’s Ever-Changing Selection Policies As Players Are Picked Despite Not Having Requisite Fitness Standards

Saeed Ajmal was also dismayed by Pakistan’s ever-changing selection policies. The former spinner noted how for the last three years there has been a talk of trying out youngsters and selecting players based on fitness standards.

However, Pakistan has now seemingly gone back on that as they have selected the likes of Azam Khan and Sharjeel Khan for T20Is based on their skills, with fitness standards taking a back seat.

Ajmal explained: “What are you preparing for? We have been crying for three years that we need to play youngsters and we need to improve on our fitness levels. What did you achieve? Now we have once again come back to- leave fitness level, we need talent now. Now you have brought in Sharjeel Khan, Azam Khan.

“Now, you have started saying we want to see skills in players’. Fitness is important but don’t have such poor policies where players lack fitness and skills.”

Sharjeel Khan and Azam Khan
Sharjeel Khan and Azam Khan. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

With little time to dwell on these losses, Pakistan will be keen to bounce back when they take on England in a three-match T20I series, starting on July 16.

Umar Akmal. Image-Twitter
Umar Akmal. Image-Twitter
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Umar Akmal Allegedly Attacked By Fans At His Residence, Files Complaint

Umar Akmal has lodged a complaint against at least four fans who he claims had a verbal spat with him, while they were having his autograph. In an interesting turn of events, the cricketer received some of his fans at his Lahore’s Phase 5 residence.

When the fans asked to give an autograph, the Pakistan keeper readily agreed but things intensified quickly and both groups went into a heated debate, as reported by a Pakistan newspaper.

Umar Akmal pays PKR 4.5 million fine, to take part in anti-corruption rehab program (Reuters Photo)
Umar Akmal pays PKR 4.5 million fine, to take part in anti-corruption rehab program (Reuters Photo)

Umar Akmal, Who Lodged A Complaint Against A Few Fans, Had Apologized For Not Reporting Corrupt Approaches

Two of the fans are now under the custody of Lahore Police, it has been learned that one of them holds a British passport. The incident took place when some of the fans were having a selfie, and it was there that it all began. Umar Akmal has represented Pakistan in 16 Tests, 121 ODIs, and 84 T20Is, wherein he managed to score 5,887 runs. These included three centuries and 34 fifties.

Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal has apologised for not reporting corrupt approaches last year, for which the 31-year-old was banned for 12 months.

“Seventeen months ago, I made a mistake which caused damage to my cricket and career. I learnt a lot during this time and due to that mistake, Pakistan cricket’s reputation suffered badly. I ask for forgiveness from the PCB and from cricket fans around the world,” said Akmal in a video released by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). (Photo: Twitter)
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). (Photo: Twitter)

Umar Akmal admitted that the period had been “very difficult for him”.

“Some people approached me but I was unable to report the same to the anti-corruption unit, due to which I had to face a 12-month ban. I couldn’t play cricket despite being a cricketer. I learned a lot during this time and today I confess before all of you that that mistake brought disrepute to Pakistan Cricket.”

The Court of Arbitration for Sport had reduced the ban on Umar Akmal to 12 months but also penalized him with a fine of 4.25 million Pakistani Rupees for breaching the PCB’s Anti-Corruption Code. A Pakistan Cricket Board official was quoted that Umar Akmal might not be able to return to competitive action immediately despite paying the fine.

Since Umar Akmal had already served the 12-month ban after being suspended from February 2020, he was eligible to return to cricket after paying the fine. He has now been cleared to return to cricket, after paying a fine of 4.25 million Pakistani Rupees and agreeing to undergo an education and rehabilitation program.

Umar Akmal Urges Fellow Cricketers To Report Any Suspicious Activities

The right-handed batsman was banned in February 2020 for failure to report approaches related to fixing just before the start of the fifth season of the Pakistan Super League. After apologies to his family, PCB, and cricket fans, Umar Akmal had a message for cricketers.

Umar Akmal of Pakistan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Umar Akmal of Pakistan. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“I, Umar Akmal, would like to request all of you, as ambassadors of the sport, to stay away from any suspicious activities. If any suspicious individuals approach you, please report it to the anti-corruption unit in a timely manner so that your record and career remain clean.”

Umar Akmal, who will turn 31 this month, has not played for Pakistan since November 2019 when he last appeared in a T20 series at Lahore against Sri Lanka while his last Test appearance for his country was way back in late 2011 while his last ODI series was in March-April 2019 against Australia.

Asif Ali. (Photo Source: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pakistan batsman Asif Ali plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on September 23, 2018. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Asif Ali Said He Deserves Proper Chance To Show His Capability With The Bat

Asif Ali, the Pakistan powerhouse said he deserves a proper chance to show what he is capable of doing with the bat. The batsman also asked the selectors to trust him and let him play on a regular basis.

The Pakistan batsman said since he bats in the middle order and is usually expected to score quick runs, he will likely perform two times out of 10. He added that his average will also be around 25.

Asif Ali last played an ODI in 2019 | AFP
Asif Ali last played an ODI in 2019 | AFP

Asif Ali Wants Selectors To Give Him A Proper Chance

Asif Ali pointed out that many of the world’s top middle-order batsmen, such as Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, England’s Jos Buttler, and the West Indies’ Andre Russell, will have similar statistics as they bat in the middle order.

In Mar 2018, the batsman was named to Pakistan’s T20I squad for their series against the West Indies. He made his T20I debut against the West Indies on 1 April 2018. He made his ODI debut against Zimbabwe on 13 July 2018. In May 2019, he was named in Pakistan’s squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) named their final fifteen-man squad for the tournament.

Asif Ali Visionhaus/Getty Images
Asif Ali Visionhaus/Getty Images

He has played 20 ODIs and 29 T20Is scoring 382 and 344 runs respectively averaging less than 30 in both formats.

“If you trust someone then give him a proper chance,” he told Cricwick as quoted by Cricket Pakistan.

His average is a mere 16.38 in T20Is and 25.46 in ODIs. But his List A average is better-30.55 and his T20 average is also higher-24.98. He has 2 first-class, 4 List A, and 1 T20 ton.

Asif Ali Represented Islamabad United In PSL 2021

Asif Ali recently represented Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and scored 224 runs in 12 matches, which included a top score of 75, at an average of 28, and a strike rate of 167.16. Despite his solid campaign, the 29-year-old was not picked for Pakistan’s upcoming tours of England and the West Indies.

Asif Ali
Asif Ali Courtesy: Twitter (@IsbUnited)

Given he is 29 years old and has a strike rate above 140 in 198 T20s, it is surprising that Asif Ali wasn’t selected on a constant basis to the Pakistan national side, as much of Pakistan’s struggles in T20 and ODI cricket are due to the lack of firepower in the death overs.

Pakistan batsman Asif Ali’s daughter, who suffered from stage four cancer, died in a hospital in the United States just before the 2019 World Cup started. Following the death of his daughter, Asif Ali returned to Pakistan after her death but rejoined the national team camp in England for the 2019 World Cup, following the last rites of his daughter – Dua Fatima, who passed away while battling stage IV cancer.

Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
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Kamran Akmal: Pakistan Has An Advantage In T20 World Cup 2021 In UAE

Kamran Akmal feels the Pakistan cricket team will have an advantage in the upcoming T20 World Cup to be held in the UAE instead of India.

While speaking in a YouTube chat, Kamran Akmal explained why Pakistan would enjoy playing the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Kamran Akmal
Kamran Akmal © Getty Images

Kamran Akmal: Pakistan Should Have The Advantage In The T20 World Cup

Wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal feels that Pakistan will have an advantage in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2021 which is set to be shifted from India to the United Arab Emirates. Kamran Akmal believes that the experience in the UAE will benefit the team in the marquee event since Pakistan has been regularly playing international cricket in the UAE for around a decade.

While speaking with the YouTube channel ‘My Master Cricket Coach’, Kamran Akmal explained why Pakistan would enjoy playing the T20 World Cup in the UAE.

“Pakistan should have the advantage in the T20 World Cup. We’ve played international cricket for 9 to 10 years in the UAE. That makes Pakistan the most experienced side under the conditions,” Akmal said.

Representational image of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup trophy | AFP / Jewel Samad
Representational image of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup trophy | AFP / Jewel Samad

Following the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka national cricket team’s bus, no Test cricket was played in the country until 2019. Between 2009 and 2016, their home matches have been mostly held in the United Arab Emirates.

However, due to the increase in security and comparatively fewer terrorist attacks, many teams have toured Pakistan since 2015. These teams include Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, South Africa, and an ICC World XI team, with England scheduled to tour in October 2021. In addition, the Pakistan Super League has seen games hosted on Pakistan soil.

Kamran Akmal: It’s Difficult To Pick A Favourite For The T20 World Cup

UAE has been the base for several T20 tournaments in the last few years. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) was recently conducted in Abu Dhabi while the second phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 is going to be held in September, after getting suspended earlier this year.

IPL 2020 was also held in the UAE for Covid-19. Since many foreign players have been participating in these leagues, Kamran Akmal feels they would also get benefitted from the experience of playing in the UAE.

“Not only players from India and Pakistan but from other countries will also benefit going into the T20 World Cup since a lot of them play in both PSL and IPL. Given the conditions in the UAE, Afghanistan can also prove to be a dangerous side, looking at the players that they have. So, it is difficult to pick a favourite for the T20 World Cup,” Akmal said.

Sourav Ganguly. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Sourav Ganguly. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The upcoming edition of the World T20, initially scheduled to be held in India, will be shifted to the United Arab Emirates due to the prevalent Covid-19 situation in the country. BCCI President Sourav Ganguly informed that the board has already intimated the International Cricket Council (ICC) about the eventuality.

“We have officially intimated the ICC that the T20 World Cup can be shifted to the United Arab Emirates. The details are being chalked out,” Ganguly was quoted.

The BCCI has communicated to its member associations that this year’s T20 World Cup will be held in the UAE.  They will, however, retain the hosting rights of the 16-team event that is scheduled to begin on October 17, two days after the completion of the IPL 2021 final, also in the UAE.

The T20 World Cup, last held in 2016 in India, was originally scheduled to be held in Australia 2020. With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting the global cricket calendar though, the ICC postponed the tournament, deciding that India would host it in 2021 with Australia hosting the 2022 edition.

Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
Pakistan AFP / Lindsey Parnaby
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Pakistan Should Give Youngsters Longer Run To Prove Themselves, Says Imam-ul-Haq

Imam-ul-Haq has explained that one of the things that are pulling down Pakistan cricket is the unwillingness to give the younger players a long rope.

During the 1990s and 2000s, the contests between India and Pakistan used to be pretty evenly-matches. However, over the last few years, the contests have become a lot more one-sided. While India has developed a strong pool of players, Pakistan has not been able to do that at the same level as their rivals.

Imam-ul-Haq © AFP
Imam-ul-Haq © AFP

Imam-ul-Haq Spoke To Eoin Morgan And Virat Kohli As He Feels Pakistan Is Lacking As Their Cricketers Isn’t Given A Proper Run To Prove Themselves

Opening batsman Imam-Ul-Haq has explained that one of the things bothering Pakistan cricket is the unwillingness to give the young players a long rope, something that cricketing nations like India and England have excelled at.

India’s pool of players is vast and highly talented, whereas England isn’t much behind. Pakistan, on the other hand, have depth in their line-up of their youngsters, but Imam-ul-Haq reckons the management needs to show faith in their abilities and give them considerable opportunities to help them nurture.

Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli
Eoin Morgan, Virat Kohli
Image Credit: Getty Images.

“I have spoken to Eoin Morgan and Virat Kohli, two of the most successful captains in white-ball cricket. I have heard from them and their players that the cricketers get a full go and a proper run to prove themselves. I think this is where we are lacking,” Imam told sports presenter Sawera Pasha on the YouTube show ‘Cricast’.

“I think if we find that consistency, we will get better results. In South Africa, we managed to chase 330, because the core of the ODI side has been the same for a while.”

 Pakistan batsman Imam-ul-Haq has opined that players being underpaid compared to nations like India is one reason youngsters cannot express themselves freely out in the middle. Like the IPL, Pakistan has its own T20 league (PSL). However, according to Imam-ul-Haq, players don’t get paid enough, be it in the franchise or domestic cricket.
The 25-year-old revealed that he has even spoken to legends like Eoin Morgan and Virat Kohli on why their (white-ball) teams are incredibly successful and how they managed to maintain consistency.

Imam-ul-Haq: IPL Has Made A Big Difference In India

Another reason why Pakistan is behind in terms of producing quality young cricketers such as India points out Imam is not getting the chance to play the IPL. Pakistan cricketers have been banned from playing the IPL, with their only appearance coming in the first-ever edition back in 2008. Imam-ul-Haq says a tournament of the calibre of IPL has gone a long way in shaping youngsters.

“So when they face these bowlers in international cricket, there is less of a mental barrier. For Pakistan, a player is directly drafted in from domestic cricket, so he finds it difficult to make that immediate adjustment,” Imam explained.
Sohail Tanvir IPL
Sohail Tanvir IPL. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Apart from Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir (Rajasthan Royals), other Pakistan cricketers like Shahid Afridi (Deccan Chargers), Shoaib Malik (Delhi Daredevils), Shoaib Akhtar (Kolkata Knight Riders), Misbah-ul-Haq (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Mohammad Asif (Delhi Daredevils), Kamran Akmal (Rajasthan Royals), Salman Butt (Kolkata Knight Riders), Umar Gul (Kolkata Knight Riders), Younis Khan (Rajasthan Royals), Mohammad Hafeez (Kolkata Knight Riders) participated in IPL 2008.

Sohail Tanvir represented Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the inaugural edition of the T20 Championship and scripted history by claiming the Purple Cap. Rajasthan Royals was on a roll during IPL 2008 as they became the first franchise to lift the elite Trophy. Sohail Tanvir played a major role in Rajasthan’s success as he picked 22 wickets in 11 matches including a best of 6 for 14, which stood as an IPL record for many years.

Sohail Tanveer. (Photo credit should read CHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Sohail Tanveer. (Photo credit should read CHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP via Getty Images)
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Sohail Tanvir Maintains He Initially Had No Idea What IPL Was

Sohail Tanvir, a former Pakistan seamer was one among a handful of Pakistan players who received a chance to feature in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Sohail Tanvir represented Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the inaugural edition of the T20 Championship and scripted history by claiming the Purple Cap.

Rajasthan Royals was on a roll during IPL 2008 as they became the first franchise to lift the elite Trophy. Sohail Tanvir played a major role in Rajasthan’s success as he picked 22 wickets in 11 matches including a best of 6 for 14, which stood as an IPL record for many years.

Sohail Tanvir IPL
Sohail Tanvir IPL. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Sohail Tanvir Was Young And Inexperienced When He Played IPL In Its Inaugural Edition In 2008

The veteran opened up on his stint in the Indian Premier League saying that it was an enriching experience and gave him a platform to play against some of the best players. Sohail Tanvir admitted that initially, he had no idea regarding what the IPL was.

In an interaction on the YouTube channel My Master Cricket Coach, the 36-year-old said, “When I played IPL back in the first edition in 2008, I was young and inexperienced as I had not played too many international games.”

“That time, I think we were playing a series against South Africa and league cricket hardly used to be played, so I had no idea what the IPL was. The cricket board told me that we have got you a contract and you have to go to play IPL in March-April,” he said

“And, when I went to play in the IPL, there were so many big stars. I had never thought about something like that. The best bowlers from all over the world were there. So, to go there and perform so well…” Tanvir added.

The Rajasthan Royals (RR) is a franchise cricket team based in Jaipur, India, which plays in the Indian Premier League (IPL). They were one of the eight teams that competed in the 2008 Indian Premier League. They were captained by Shane Warne. The all-rounder Shane Watson won the man of the tournament award for scoring as many as 472 runs and picking 17 wickets.

Shane Watson With Rahul Dravid (PTI)
Shane Watson With Rahul Dravid (PTI)

Rajasthan Royals finished winners in the IPL and qualified for the champions league T20. The team won the inaugural edition of the IPL under the captaincy of Shane Warne, despite being written off as a title contender by the media and fans. The Royals were also the runners-up of the 2013 Champions League Twenty20 under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy.

On 14 July 2015, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were suspended for two years over a 2013 betting scandal, meaning they could not participate in both the 2016 and 2017 IPL tournaments. They returned to the competition for the 2018 season.

Sohail Tanvir: Everyone Knows About The Fan Following Of Pakistan Players In India And If Pakistan Players Are Allowed To Play In IPL, It Will Be Beneficial For Both Players And League

2008 was the last season when the Pakistan players played in the Indian Premier League. Due to the political tension between the two neighbouring nations, India and Pakistan face each other on the cricket field only during the ICC events. However, the veteran seamer is hopeful that relations between India and Pakistan will improve soon and the Pakistani players will be allowed to feature in the tournament as it will benefit both the players and the league.

“If Pakistani players are allowed to play in the IPL, it will be beneficial for both the players and the league. Players from all over the world except Pakistan play in the IPL. Everybody knows about the fan-following of Pakistan players in India. I have witnessed that while playing for Pakistan and also in the IPL.”

Shoaib Akhtar, Shah Rukh Khan Photo Credit: PTI
Shoaib Akhtar, Shah Rukh Khan Photo Credit: PTI

“When I played IPL, I learned a lot. Since I did well, it played a major role in me gaining confidence going ahead. So it would be great if our players get to play in the league. But, these things are not in our control. There are many other factors at work. Hope it happens sooner or later,” Sohail Tanvir signed off.

Apart from Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir, other Pakistan cricketers like Shahid Afridi (Deccan Chargers), Shoaib Malik (Delhi Daredevils), Shoaib Akhtar (Kolkata Knight Riders), Misbah-ul-Haq (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Mohammad Asif (Delhi Daredevils), Kamran Akmal (Rajasthan Royals), Salman Butt (Kolkata Knight Riders), Umar Gul (Kolkata Knight Riders), Younis Khan (Rajasthan Royals), Mohammad Hafeez (Kolkata Knight Riders) participated in IPL 2008.

Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates scoring his century during game five of the One Day International series between India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground on March 13, 2019 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Usman Khawaja of Australia celebrates scoring his century during game five of the One Day International series between India and Australia at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground on March 13, 2019 in Delhi, India. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
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Usman Khawaja Revealed Facing Racism During Early Days As A Cricketer

Usman Khawaja revealed that many told him that he would never make it at the top because of his skin colour, as he revealed having faced racism during his early days as a cricketer.

Usman Khawaja became the first Muslim cricketer to play for Australia at the highest level when he made his Test debut in the 2011 Ashes. His achievements inspired several others like him to take up the sport as a profession but the batsman’s journey to the top wasn’t the easiest.

Usman Khawaja .© AFP
Usman Khawaja .© AFP

Usman Khawaja Revealed The Ordeal He Went During Early Days

Usman Khawaja, who came to Australia from Pakistan in the 1990s, did face racism during his early days and was even told that he would never make it to the national team. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, he revealed the ordeal he went through during those days.

“When I was younger in Australia, the amount of time I got told I was never going to play for Australia, I’m not the right skin colour was immense. I’d get told I don’t fit the team, and they wouldn’t pick me. That was the mentality, but now it’s starting to shift.”, he said.

Usman Khawaja. CREDIT:AAP
Usman Khawaja. CREDIT:AAP

Australia has a decent population of people from the sub-continent. Seeing Usman Khawaja rise through the ranks, many came up to him and praised him for taking the path despite it being a route of extreme resistance.

“When I started being more involved in cricket, people with subcontinent heritage in Australia came up to me and said, “we’re so happy to see you at the top. Seeing someone like you, we feel we’ve got a part in the Australian team, and we support the Australian team. We didn’t do it before, and we do it now,” said Khawaja.

Born in Pakistan, Usman Khawaja moved with his family to Australia when he was a young boy, and in the 2011 Sydney Ashes Test became the first Muslim to play for Australia.

A classy left-hander in the languid style of David Gower, Usman Khawaja won further Test opportunities from 2011 to 2013 but never quite kicked on beyond his regularly appealing starts. Dropped during the 2013 Ashes, he earned another recall in 2015 for the home series against New Zealand following the retirements of Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers.

Usman Khawaja Initially Didn’t Support Australia But Has Played 44 Tests, 40 ODIs And 9 T20Is For Australia

The Islamabad-born even admitted that he didn’t support Australia (in cricket) in the beginning as he didn’t quite connect with the team then. It took him time to adapt before he could leave his background behind and be what he is at present.

“And that kept happening over and over and over again. The more that happened, I realised my background does matter, and it does make a difference. And then I realised from my childhood it probably took me a while to support Australia. I didn’t really support Australia when I first went [from Pakistan] because I didn’t really get it,” he added.

Usman Khawaja - R. V. MOORTHY
Usman Khawaja – R. V. MOORTHY

Usman Khwaja had since played 44 Test, 40 ODI and 9 T20I matches for Australia. The 34-year-old left-hander may be recalled to the Australian team. Usman Khawaja, who has scored 2877 runs in 44 Tests at an average of 40.66, has not played for Australia since August 2019. His last T20I came in 2016 and his last ODI was in July 2019 during World Cup.

But Usman Khawaja’s subcontinent demons were finally put to rest in the UAE in 2018 when he made an epic match-saving century against Pakistan in Dubai. He became Australia’s most senior batsman while Steve Smith and David Warner were banned following the ball-tampering scandal and settled himself in the ODI team with two outstanding tours of India and the UAE in 2019, making his first two ODI centuries to ensure selection in the 2019 World Cup squad.

Naseem Shah- GETTY IMAGES
Naseem Shah- GETTY IMAGES
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Pakistan Recalled Mohammad Abbas And Naseem Shah For Tests And Names Azam Khan In T20Is

Pakistan has recalled pacers – Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah – for the Test series against the West Indies. Meanwhile, Azam Khan, who is an uncapped hard-hitting batsman from Quetta Gladiators participating in PSL, has been picked in the T20I set-up that will play against England and the West Indies. The T20I squad also includes veteran all-rounder Imad Wasim.

Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah were dropped from the Test squad after the Test series in New Zealand, with the duo averaging 45 and 73 respectively.

Azam Khan, the uncapped hard-hitting batsman from Quetta Gladiators, has been picked in the T20I squad.
Azam Khan, the uncapped hard-hitting batsman from Quetta Gladiators, has been picked in the T20I squad. © Getty

Pakistan Has Recalled Mohammad Abbas And Naseem Shah And Picked Hard-Hitting Batsman Azam Khan

However, Pakistan pacer Mohammad Abbas had a successful time in the West Indies in 2017 picking up 15 wickets. He has also bagged 27 wickets in the County Championship in England this season.

“We have remained consistent in our selection and kept the same core of cricketers who have been in the set-up for a while. This is an extremely important and critical tour for Pakistan as we will be playing the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League ODIs against England as well as the T20Is against England and the West Indies as part of our preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. The Jamaica Test will count towards the ICC World Test Championship,” Muhammad Wasim, chief selector, said.

“As such, keeping in view the above and in consultation with captain Babar Azam and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq, we have tried our best to maintain the winning combinations but at the same time recalled four experienced players and rewarded uncapped Azam Khan for his domestic performance, while also giving him the required confidence for the future challenges,” he added.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who missed the Test series versus Zimbabwe because of a knee injury, also returns to the Test set-up. Yasir Shah’s inclusion though is subject to him recovering completely from the knee injury.

“Mohammad Abbas has regained his form, Naseem Shah and Haris Sohail have reclaimed the required fitness standards, while Imad Wasim has been recalled considering the T20 World Cup is likely to be held in the UAE and he enjoys an excellent record there. The return of these four players meant we had to leave some players, which is never an easy decision. But we have collectively opted for what was in the best interest of the side, taking into consideration the opponents and the requirement of the formats on the upcoming tours,” Wasim noted.

“Yasir Shah’s inclusion is subject to clearing his fitness test. He was sidelined due to a knee injury after the second Test against South Africa earlier this year and was expected to reclaim complete fitness for the West Indies tour. It, however, has not been the case, but we remain hopeful that he will complete his rehabilitation before the departure,” he added.

Naseem Shah and Mohammad Abbas have returned to Pakistan's Test squad Getty Images
Naseem Shah and Mohammad Abbas have returned to Pakistan’s Test squad Getty Images

Nauman Ali, a left-arm spinner, who has made a successful start to his Test career, retains his place in the Test set-up. Leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood and off-spinner Sajid Khan have also been retained for the two Tests to be played in Jamaica.

On the other hand, Azam Khan, who scored at a strike rate of over 144 for Gladiators, makes it to the T20I squad. Azam Khan has notched up 743 runs at an impressive strike rate of 157.41 in his T20 career so far. Imad Wasim, who hasn’t played a T20I since December last year, has also been selected.

Pakistan Has Included Saud Shakeel In ODI And Test Squad

Pakistan is also set to play three ODIs against England in July. For that series, Pakistan’s selectors have included uncapped batsman Saud Shakeel. Saud Shakeel, who is a prolific run-getter in Pakistan’s domestic cricket, missed out on the twin tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe due to a Grade-1 quadriceps tear. Incidentally, he also makes it into the Test squad.

Haris Sohail. — Photo courtesy of Haris Sohail's Twitter handle
Haris Sohail. — Photo courtesy of Haris Sohail’s Twitter handle

The experienced batsman, Haris Sohail, also finds a place in the ODI squad. Meanwhile, Tabish Khan and Salman Ali Agha have been dropped from the 21-man squad, though Salman Ali Agha is part of the ODI squad for England.

“The side since the home series against South Africa has maintained an upward movement, but still there are a few loose ends that we would like to close by the end of the England and West Indies tours so that there is absolute clarity on our compositions for the post-West Indies tour engagements. I strongly believe the changes will plug those gaps and will put us in a strong position in our endeavors to feature in the top three across all formats by the end of 2023.”

Pakistan will play three ODIs and three T20Is in England from 8-20 July, before taking on West Indies in five T20Is that will be followed by two Tests.

Squads:

ODIs: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wicketkeeper), Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Usman Qadir

T20Is: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Arshad Iqbal, Azam Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sharjeel Khan, and Usman Qadir.

Tests: Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan, Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Imran Butt, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Sajid Khan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Yasir Shah (subject to fitness) and Zahid Mahmood.

Shahid Afridi brings out his trademark starfish celebration Pakistan Super League
Shahid Afridi brings out his trademark starfish celebration Pakistan Super League
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Shahid Afridi Wanted To Retire After 2009 World T20 For Politics In Pakistan Cricket

Shahid Afridi retired from international cricket in 2018 after a 21-year long career. However, there were some moments in the former Pakistan all-rounder’s career where he wanted to quit cricket.

Shahid Afridi, one of the most celebrated names in world cricket. was a crucial part of the team during his playing career. He was known for his hard-hitting batting and his effective leg-spin as he gained his reputation as one of the best all-rounders of his generation. He even earned the nickname ‘Boom-Boom’ due to his ability to play quick-fire innings for his team.

File image of Shahid Afridi.(Getty Images)
File image of Shahid Afridi. (Getty Images)

Shahid Afridi Decided Not To Play Cricket Anymore After Pakistan Won 2009 World T20 Due To Politics

In a recent interview, Shahid Afridi recalled the instance where he wanted to give up the sport after winning the 2009 World T20.

“I decided not to play cricket anymore,” he told Samaa TV.

“Shoaib Malik had become the captain and there was a lot of politics going on within the team.”

Shoaib Malik. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
Shoaib Malik. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)

The former batsman further recalled a bit of advice he received from an old wise man.

“He said you’re so worried about your own performance and worldly matters. Just compare your hardships to those of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and you will realize that yours are nothing,” Afridi recalled.

Shahid Afridi continues to back allrounder Shoaib Malik’s claim for a spot in Pakistan’s squad for ICC T20 World Cup set to be played later this year in India. However, there was a time when once Shoaib Malik was appointed team captain in 2009, Shahid Afridi almost ended his international career after being fed up by the politics going around.

Shahid Afridi Denied Aggravating Situation At 2007 World T20

Shahid Afridi also touched upon the incident at the 2007 World T20 where Shoaib Akhtar had struck Mohammed Asif with a bat. Shoaib Akhtar had previously talked about the incident in his autobiography, Controversially Yours, where he accused Shahid Afridi of aggravating the situation, but Shahid Afridi denied it.

“Things happen,” Afridi told Samaa.tv.

“Asif had sided with me in a joke which enraged Shoaib and all this happened. But Shoaib has a very beautiful heart.”

Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib Akhtar. (AFP Photo)

Shahid Afridi remembered his early days in cricket where his father wanted him to focus on studies rather than cricket.

“When I played under 14 and 18, there was only cricket in my all life,” he said.

“I used to sleep in my kit if I had a match the next day because I didn’t want to be late. There was no social media at that time, so people showed my pictures in Dawn and Jang to my father and said his son was indeed up to something good.”

A controversy had erupted during the 2007 ICC T20 World Cup when Shoaib Akhtar had hit Mohammed Asif with a bat due to which the former pacer was called back from South Africa. Saying that he had no hand in the infamous episode, Shahid Afridi said he had only gone to save the situation when he saw Shoaib Akhtar angry.

Shahid Afridi played 27 Tests, 398 ODIs, and 99 T20Is between 1996 and 2018. He scored 11196 runs across formats and took 541 wickets as well. He burst onto the international stage with a 37-ball century in October 1996 which was then the fastest hundred in ODI history, a record that remained intact for over 17 years before New Zealand allrounder Corey Anderson broke in 2013, taking one less delivery. AB de Villiers then broke the record in 2015, hitting a century in mere 31 deliveries.

Shahid Afridi considers himself a better bowler than batsman and has taken 395 wickets in ODI and 48 Test wickets. He is 3rd on the chart of most T20I wickets, with 98 wickets from 99 matches after Lasith Malinga and Tim Southee.